March 21, 2019

Now Playing

Juliet Naked
(Reviewed September 21, 2018)

An amusing but slight adaptation of a Nick Hornby novel which can laugh at its characters without precluding the possibility that they may laugh at themselves

Won't You Be My Neighbor?
(Reviewed September 20, 2018)

Did Mr Rogers’s extraordinary capacity for love end up producing a generation of haters?

Lady Bird
(Reviewed March 6, 2018)

A delightful and not entirely politically correct movie about growing up as a Catholic schoolgirl in 2002-2003

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
(Reviewed February 22, 2018)

An occasionally amusing parable of guilt and forgiveness whose setting in small-town America, like the prejudices of its author, does it no favors

ENTRY from March 14, 2019

"Gridlock is a part of any democracy, and a very important part," former Senator Alan Simpson told Ellen Barry of The New York Times according to an article in today’s paper. "It forces compromise. You have to force it sometimes." Mr Simpson’s comment was a propos of Ms Barry’s claim that American-style gridlock has now been imported into Britain and was somehow the cause of the current parliamentary deadlock over Brexit. Neither Mr Simpson, who has been out of Washington for nearly a decade and out of the senate for nearly a quarter century, nor Ms Barry seems to have noticed that, in Britain’s case, parliament’s paralysis is precisely not forcing compromise. In fact it is caused by refusal on all sides to compromise. Perhaps this should suggest to us that, in contemporary democracies, gridlock is not a bug but a feature.

Why should that be? I think it is because of the political fashion on both sides of the Atlantic for legislators to turn over the hard and controversial work of law-making to unelected bureaucrats and judges in order to free themselves for the more congenial task of feckless virtue-signaling. What we are seeing in Britain today is the spread of this paralyzing disease from the legislature to the executive — that branch of government which is ostensibly in charge of getting things done. David Aaronovitch notes in today’s Times of London the latest repetition by the prime minister, Theresa May, of her much-repeated mantra that "no-deal is better than a bad deal" — to which she now adds the proviso: "but I want to leave with a good deal" — and comments that "at no point did it seem to occur to the prime minister that one of her jobs might be to persuade anyone of anything. It was enough that the girl stood coughing on the burning deck, whence all but she had fled."

The political chaos over Brexit in the UK is a perfect example of what happens when "principles" take the reins in politics: nothing gets done, but everybody gets to make a bid for applause by making a parade of his or her ever-loving principles. This is where virtue-signaling ends: in the death not only of democracy but of the power of democratic governments to act at all. To adapt Emerson, the louder someone talks of his principles the faster we must abandon any hope of getting anything done by democratic means. Just look at the (London) Daily Telegraph’s headline to an article by Michael Fabricant, M.P. in yesterday’s paper: "Why I took the tough decision to vote down the PM's Brexit deal."
  Full Entry

Media MadnessBefore there was Howard Kurtz’s Media Madness, there was mine — now, alas, out of print but still available while supplies last for the cost of shipping and handling. Send $5.99 to me in care of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, 1730 M Street, Suite 910, Washington, D.C. 20036

Honor, A HistoryAlso available, now in paperback and Kindle version, is Honor, A History, which was first published in 2006. A study of Western cultural artifacts, from the epics of Homer to the movies and TV shows of today, it is focused on explaining why Western ideas of honor developed so differently from those elsewhere — and especially from the savage honor cultures of the Islamic world. The book then goes on to trace the collapse and ultimate rejection of the old Western honor culture from World War I until the present day and to suggest the conditions that would have to prevail for its revival.

Recent Articles

Geography Lessons February 28, 2019.
On the media’s new gold-rush for the homeland (or paydirt) of truth in our post-truth era — From The New Criterion of February, 2019 ... Full Article

Twilight of the Unwoke Guys January 31, 2019.
Once again, for some reason, it’s time to reassess the Clinton legacy — From The New Criterion of January, 2019 ... Full Article

The Progressive Advocacy of Tribal Honor January 19, 2019.
Something that honor and democracy have in common is that they don’t work on a supranational scale. The largest possible democracy takes place at the level of the nation-state: beyond that, as the experience of the EU shows, there is only unaccountable bureaucracy — from Quadrant, Volume LXIII, Number 1-2, No. 553 (Jan-Feb,  ... Full Article

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