Unemployment has remained reasonably low during the Bush era, but take a look at these statistics from the July Harper’s Index:
Estimated change since 2001 in the total number of U.S. private-sector jobs: +1,900,000
Estimated number of new private-sector jobs creaetd by government spending during that time: 2,800,000
Laurence Vance quotes wise words from Thomas Fleming in the new issue of Chronicles. It’s worth mentioning that the context of Fleming’s remarks is two letters attempting to take him to task for saying that the federal government should butt out of the Terri Schiavo affair. One of the correspondents says that he was similarly dismayed by Fleming’s position on sending Elian Gonzales back to his father in Cuba — Fleming was for it. Fleming is, of course, right on both counts: the federal government has no business overturning the laws of Florida and overruling the next-of-kin in the Schiavo affair, and a boy belongs with his father even if his father lives under a Communist state.
The Senate is proposing a constitutional amendment to prohibit blasphemy — that is, flag-burning, blasphemy against the one true all-American faith, “our nation and its values.” The Washington Post reports:
Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) cast the debate in loftier terms. “Many Americans have come to see the flag as a sacred symbol of our nation and its values,” he said. “Those who dislike American values have the right to express their opinions even when they are offensive. But I do not believe that the right to desecrate a symbol like our flag belongs in the same category.”
I read that shortly after reading this passage from John Lukacs’s The End of the Twentieth Century and the End of the Modern World:
The great threat to religious faith in our time (more precisely, to the quality and meaning of faith) is populist nationalism. The democratization of the churches has led to that; but that is only a secondary consequence, inseparable from the democratization of entire societies. The primary element is simpler, and more important. It is that the religion of the nation, the sentimental symbols of the nation, are more powerful than religious faith, especially when they are commingled. Nationalism, I repeat, is the only popular religio (religio: binding belief) [legally binding, if Frist and the Republicans get their way — DM] in our times.
… When in the 1950s I asked my then orthodox and rigidly catechized American Catholic students, “Are you an American who happens to be a Catholic, or are you a Catholic who happens to be an American?” all of them chose the former, not the latter.
Edwin Yoder reviews Gordon Wood's Revolutionary Characters in the summer books issue of The Weekly Standard. The piece gets at some of the elegiac qualities of Wood's book (which I highly recommend):
There is a note of sadness here, for Wood seems to believe that our present political habits would appall his gentlemen revolutionists. In their view, if republicanism was to gain a foothold in a world hostile to it, the great danger was the tendency of a polity to gravitate toward the "fiscal/military state": a style familiar in that monarchical world. Such states made war to justify standing armies, maintained armies to excuse high taxation, and generated bloated public debts to attach influential creditors to them. Sound dangerously familiar?
That probably sounds, if anything, dangerously unpatriotic to the good Americans who read The Weekly Standard. Aren't we the arsenal of democracy, after all?
I hope Eve Fairbanks got hazard pay for researching her New Republic article on conservative dating services. She's uncovered some sociological data that confirm just how culturally schizophrenic the Bush base is — or at least the narrow part of it that uses dating services:
The women on ConservativeMatch–at least the women of Washington, Virginia–are both much rarer and more quintessentially "conservative" than the men are. Out of the 40 profiles I considered, only ten were women. Several of these described themselves as "simple," even "prudish" girls with "old-school" values, looking for a "manly" or "boy scout" sort of guy. ("He must not smoke, cuss, or spit.") All ten were seriously practicing Christians, and only one disagreed that sex outside of marriage is immoral. Favorite books included Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (or, as one put it, "anything from 18th century England").
The men are strikingly different. They are not, for the most part, serious values conservatives. Over half of the 30 men I initially viewed believe that sex before marriage is OK ("Heck," one wrote, "I think that some marriages are immoral"), and twelve–or 40 percent–believe abortion may not need to be illegal. Their conservatism manifests itself more in a libertarian sensibility, in diehard patriotism, in the desire for a strong defense, even in matters of taste, like an appreciation for country living. …
…The men on ConservativeMatch embrace a composite machismo of military culture, Western movies, the "don't-tread-on-me" spirit. The women simply don't want men to jump down their pants.
No matter what the implications, the divide seems sad. Despite the site's goal, these men and these women do not go together. If Democrats feel down these days, they ought to take heart: It looks like they'll win the breeding game.