Great Reads 6/21/17

A daily roundup of great reads from around the web as selected by our editors.

—Ben Boychuk—

Our friend Scott W. Johnson of PowerLine fame has an infuriating essay at City Journal describing his unlikely participation in the ongoing lawsuits against President Trump’s travel moratorium. Johnson was among a gaggle of right-leaning journalists and bloggers who visited the White House a couple of months ago to mark the president’s first 100 days. (Disclosure: Our own Chris Buskirk was there, too.) One of the attorneys fighting the travel order wrote to Johnson demanding that he preserve any notes he may have taken at the event. Johnson’s response is priceless.

But here’s the infuriating part: “To me, it all feels like glorified harassment of a conservative writer. Is it conceivable that if I had covered the reception for the New York Times, Lin would be demanding my notes? I doubt it.”

Meantime, Politico reports that the White House is “obsessed” with Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. (Leave aside the stupid jab in the lead sentence; it’s an interesting piece.) Political scientist and foreign policy expert Graham Allison recently visited the West Wing to discuss his new book, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?

Reporter Michael Crowley notes that Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, and chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon are all well-versed in Thucydides’ classic account of the war between Athens and Sparta. Publius Decius Mus (a.k.a. Michael Anton) recommends the Hobbes translation. “If you’ve read that translation, you’ve got my respect,” he tells Crowley.

—Chris Buskirk—

Peter Beinart writes what might be the most interesting thing I’ve read in The Atlantic in years: How Democrats Lost Their Way on Immigration. Much of his argument applies equally to Republican leadership—though not so much to rank and file voters. He reminds us that in 2006 Barack Obama claimed to feel “patriotic resentment” at the sight of Mexican flags at immigration rallies and that the Democrat’s official platform used the word “illegal” in reference to illegal aliens as recently as 2008. Not anymore. While I cannot commend all of his conclusions, at least someone on the Left is asking the question.

—Julie Ponzi—

Our friend, Matt Spalding, who is associate vice president and dean of educational programs for Hillsdale College in Washington, D.C., writes a very good piece today for U.S. News and World Report (and, yes, apparently it still exists) in which he makes the case that “It’s Time to Make Congress Great Again.”  Matt explains,

“When Congress writes legislation, it uses very broad language that turns extensive power over to agencies, which are also given the authority of executing and often adjudicating violations of their regulations in particular cases. The result is that most of the actual decisions of lawmaking and public policy – decisions previously the constitutional responsibility of elected legislators – are delegated to bureaucrats whose “rules” have the full force and effect of laws passed by Congress.”

He has some specific ideas about how Congress might go about re-establishing its legislative authority which, after all, is simply an extension of the sovereign people’s right to self-government. The legislative power was vested in them and, to the extent that they have shrugged it off over the years, this is illegitimate.  “Congress can only be “great” again by throwing off the vast bureaucracy it created and returning to its powerful role as the lawmaking branch, serving the common good of the American people,” writes Matt.  Just so.

Also don’t miss Helen Alvare’s piece today in the Washington Examiner taking aim at the purveyors of “fake science” in the New England Journal of Medicine who—without an ounce of shame—published an editorial by “bioethics professor R. Alta Charo attacking various women within the Trump Administration, which reads more like an advertisement for birth control and abortion than a serious medical opinion.”  

As Alvare reminds us in her piece, within the medical community, feminists like Charo continuously are downplaying the risks and overstating the effectiveness of artificial contraception as it is used by real women in the real world. Instead of writing and thinking like a woman with a political agenda, it would be nice if professional women in the medical field who call themselves feminists would endorse (at least in the abstract) the twin notions that women ought to be supportive enough of other women working in their field that the at least examine their arguments with fairness and that women, as a population, are competent creatures with agency and possessed of a right to know the full truth about their medical care.

What are we to make of this bit of propaganda being passed off as science while those who raise objective questions about the efficacy of her preferred methods are condemned as “deniers”? We are to understand that science, however much we may wish to revere it, is still operated by human beings and therefore is not immune from politics. Politics, then, remains the queen of the sciences. You can’t understand anything human beings do without first understanding it.

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