Sunday, December 12, 2010

Final Post

     This past week I received unexpected but welcome news about the next year and a half.  The time required for this new job will leave no room for keeping a blog, and the nature of the work precludes publishing my political opinions (even in anonymity, which is never very secure on the Internet).  So, I must close RESPVBLICA.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Days of Infamy

USS Maryland alongside capsized USS Oklahoma, December 7, 1941.
Photo credit:  U.S. National Park Service
     Sixty-nine years ago today, Americans received the kind of national jolt that has often brought a people together. Like the equally infamous 9/11, the attack on Pearl Harbor prompted the citizens of our republic to respond with idealism and resolve. More than anything else in the past 40 years or so, our response to 9/11 proved that the American people still possess the fortitude to stand up to challenge. The historian Arnold Toynbee wrote that the response to challenge can often germinate a civilization. Too much challenge can snuff out a nascent culture. Too little, and there is not enough reason to shrug off old patterns of life and take the hard steps needed to ascend to the next rung of the ladder. Similarly, response to challenge can also stimulate a generation to become great. Days of infamy, like 9/11 and 12/7, can re-focus internally squabbling partisans on united, national effort.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Welfare Politics and a Game of Debt Chicken

Julius Cæsar, welfare politician.
     Yesterday, The New York Times reported on the growing possibility of default by various political entities across the land: “Not just small towns or dying Rust Belt cities, but also large states like Illinois and California are increasingly at risk.” Further, these polities could soon be asking for federal assistance: “[T]he imbalances are so large in some places that the federal government will probably have to step in at some point….” One imagines a game of Debt Chicken, in which federal and state officials see who will lose their nerve first. Federal assistance could conceivably come with strings attached, such as requiring states to curtail the spending that is currently bankrupting them. In the end, the effectiveness of such limits is likely to be limited, given (a) the strong commitment to spending exhibited by the very states facing default and (b) the electoral votes controlled by those states. For all the change in November, an even more fundamental shift is needed. The country desperately needs to re-new the American tradition of self-reliance.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Conservative Vice

Conservative smoking a pipe.
     Virtue and vice have been important to the history of the American Republic.  Generally, conservatives are in favor of virtue and opposed to vice.  One very old fashioned vice, however, remains popular with a shrinking but devout number of conservatives (and, truth be told, liberals).  Smoking tobacco in a briar pipe used to be as unobtrusive as a man wearing a tie or a woman wearing a dress.  Now, it will get you thrown out of a restaurant.  In some places, pipe-smoking in public will get the otherwise law-abiding citizen arrested.  At least the tie and the dress are still allowed, though in many places they have grown rare.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dueling Imperialists

     Today’s Pentagon study on gays in the military was all over talk radio. The study documents high levels of disapproval among combat troops (nearly 70% in the Marine Corps), but the Leftist press is calling the study proof there will be no problem letting gay troops declare themselves openly. Here at RESPVBLICA, the editorial position has been that when a strong majority of military personnel are ready to shower with homosexuals, then will be the time to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Whether the Pentagon study establishes that the military has arrived at that point remains unclear. No doubt Congress will sort it out, maybe even before the Ninth Circuit rules on the Log Cabin Republicans case. In the meantime, the spitting outrage on both sides makes plain the impossibility of compromise between competing moral paradigms.