52 Authors: Week 18 - T.S. Eliot
Daniel Amos: "Rocket Packs"

American Institutions

I've been reading a collection of Nat Hentoff's music journalism, American Music Is, and came across this great anecdote:

When Mr. [Robert] O'Meally was a student at Harvard, he approached [Ralph] Ellison, who was giving a talk, and asked: Don't you think the Harlem Renaissance failed because we failed to create institutions to preserve our gains?"

Ellison looked at this young black man in a dashiki and said, "No." Then, Mr. O'Meally recalled, "just before being led to the stage, he paused to look at me with steely eyes. 'We do have institutions. We have the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. And we have jazz."

While I'm at it: Nat Hentoff is a treasure, an American institution himself. I've been reading his liner notes on jazz albums since the 1960s, and there is no one who loves jazz, and American music in general, more than he does. He's been writing and broadcasting about it since the late '40s, and knew many of the giants of that time. And he's an atheist civil libertarian whom one can respect. From Wikipedia:

Hentoff espouses generally liberal views on domestic policy and civil liberties, but in the 1980s, he began articulating more socially conservative positions—opposition to abortion, voluntary euthanasia, and the selective medical treatment of severely disabled infants. Hentoff argued that a consistent life ethic should be the viewpoint of a genuine civil libertarian, arguing that all human rights are at risk when the rights of any one group of people are diminished, that human rights are interconnected, and people deny others' human rights at their own peril.


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R.R. Reno posted a piece on First Things a couple of days ago about Richard John Neuhaus, in which he made these points about so-called neo-conservatism versus liberalism:

While listening [to a Canadian radio program discussing Neuhaus's legacy] I was again reminded of how difficult it is for many, perhaps most, liberals to fathom reasons why someone (Neuhaus, for instance) would think American-style conservatism the best way to promote the common good.

This reflects, perhaps, a progressive conceit. Though no doubt it also reflects the fact that American conservatism is a freedom-emphasizing movement, not one that puts an accent on solidarity. Poor people want to enjoy freedom just as much as anybody. But a liberal rightly recognizes that poverty makes a person and family vulnerable. Our freedoms are more fragile when we don't have either resources or standing in society. And so the poor need advocates.

Which is something Neuhaus knew. First Things has never represented a dismantle-the-welfare-state conservatism. Instead, we've been associated with neo-conservatism, which means criticizing way in which the welfare state creates perverse incentives that harm the poor, too often isolating them from the dynamism of our capitalist economy and subsidizing dysfunctional behavior.

For example, to be in favor of charter schools or vouchers or tax credits for private school scholarship funds—new ideas often resisted by liberals—isn't to be “against government.” On the contrary, these reform ideas reflect serious and sustained thinking about how the taxing power of the state should be used to improve education for the poorest and most vulnerable.

These are policy debates. The more fundamental role of conservatism is moral. Here I find myself thinking that today's liberals almost entirely fail to express moral solidarity with the poor and vulnerable. As I've written on many occasions, the non-judgmental, flexible “make healthy choices” approach to sex, marriage, and family works reasonably well for rich people. It is hell on the poor. But liberals don't seem to care. The sexual liberal Jihad continues.

Hentoff would, I think, agree with most of that.

Maybe so. I don't know enough about his political views to be able to say. Seems compatible with what I do know about him, though.

Hentoff has been a good egg since as far back as I can recall

First Things has never represented a dismantle-the-welfare-state conservatism.

Working politicians who do are pretty singular. Here's Margaret Chase Smith on Barry Goldwater and Social Security


You'd find some opinion journalists who adhere to that viewpoint in glancing ways, e.g. they younger Joseph Sobran. The man was a literary critic who did not know economic statistics from tiddlywinks. Ayn Rand adhered to that viewpoint. That should tell you something.

You also find combox denizens who do so. Most of them are a stew of resentments which exceed their actual historical or social knowledge.


so-called neo-conservatism

A nonsense term, as always.

No, it's not. It means "evil."

Having realized that most of my Chrome lockups or near-lockups seemed to involve Flash, I removed it a couple of weeks ago. It's been interesting to see how little I've been inconvenienced by it, and how much more stable Chrome has been.

However, not having Flash means I can't view the video at that site. Too bad. I'm sure it would be interesting. I think Flash may still be running on an old laptop, so maybe I'll try it.

I don't think many conservatives, even non-politicians who don't have to curry favor with voters, would advocate dismantling the welfare state completely at this point. Certain not dismantling it quickly. Even if he thinks it's a bad thing, a conservative ought to recognize that doing away with it abruptly (supposing that were even possible) would be far too disruptive.

The most amusing abuse of the term "neocon" I've seen was at the hands of a movie reviewer, who found in some movie an occasion to denounce the fundamentalist Christianity of the neocons.

I didn't even know Nat Hentoff wrote about jazz. I'll always be grateful to him, because it was an essay of his in Mother Jones that made me comfortable to call myself pro-life despite not being a Phyllis Schlafly fan.

That cracks me up, Anne-Marie. Not my favorite person either.


I have been doing research about buildings for the past 50 yrs.All buildings that followed linear architecture(rectangular buildings on rectangular lots with picket fences or compound walls on straight roads)are successful and prosperous all over the world.U.S.A. and CANADA are the 2 countries in the world that followed linear architecture for several decades and they became very successful countries in the world.Please visit my website www.vastutheory-mudrageda.com to find the features of good luck buildings.Most of the successful buildings in the world have most of these features.Please reintroduce the linear architecture to U.S.A and CANADA to maintain their greatness in this world. Take a look at our county courts of all counties in all 50 states and they are all good luck buildings.Take a look at pentagon,it was built during world war 2 and America did not win a single war-- world war 2 ended in cold war,korean war is not solved,vietnam war was a great loss,iraq and afghani wars are in a limbo and american army will not win a war as long as pentagon is american military headquarters. I advise Americans to move military head quarters to a rectangular building and covert pentagon to a federal prison.Now look at GM,was a great sucess when it was run from the old head quarters and now it is run from renniasance center and it will never be successful.Please visit Independence hall in Philadelphia,a very good luck building and marshall spacecenter in huntsville,alabama and governor's mansion in williamsburg,va they have all the features as described in my website.please get out of watergate building,it is a very bad luck building.9/11 memorial is a very bad luck building.The new cdc building in atlanta is also a very bad luck building.Don't forget the enron corporations downfall.All buildings built on golf cources are all bad luck buildings.

Surya Rao Mudragada.
1244.felton lane,
alabama 36830,
334 887 7560.

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