Great Reads 6/29/17

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

—Julie Ponzi—

Frequent American Greatness contributor Mytheos Holt has an interesting piece at The American Conservative today discussing the ways that the mainstream media and the tech industry have morphed from being edgy institutions on the vanguard of advancing freedom to crotchety and narrowly concerned syndicates designed, mainly, to protect their own position as masters of the universe. Or, as Holt puts it, “groups that were originally designed and trusted to make the world bigger have instead begun systematically trying to make it smaller. They have gone from battering rams to gatekeepers.”

The examples of the media acting in this way comprise a list that is both long and old. But Silicon Valley’s transition to the “get off my lawn” old fogey is a newer and, perhaps, more interesting one in that it tells the story of their fears so much more obviously.  

“In short,” Holt writes, “Silicon Valley fears the freedom that it created and seeks to curtail it, despite the fact that the only thing that gave their business models life was the perception that they were building a world where both people and information could be free.”

In both cases, the freedom these institutions sought to advance was received by a people for whom, it turns out, the grandees of those institutions have little sympathy. “Americans, who have never much liked being told what they must believe or what they must do, have rightly rebelled,” writes Holt. Of course, this may explain the mutual interest both the media and tech seem to have in importing new, more pliable people.

Next are four pieces that should be read in tandem all, to one degree or another, speaking to the amazing incompetence and imbecility of our elected Republicans in Congress.  First read John Hinderaker at PowerLine’s, “A Tale of Two Fiascos.” After reading that I was left wondering why people imagined we’d never get back to the status quo ante Trump. Because here we are!  Democrats are crazy and Republicans are stupid. Next!  

Daniel Henninger’s piece today at the Wall Street Journal asks the question even more bluntly, “Should Trump Abandon the GOP?” One wonders why not. They have an opportunity to achieve things now and instead of taking it, they spend their time taking swipes at each other and at the president. Can they govern? Or are they just a permanent institution designed for bitching and fundraising?  Hmmm . . .

Next up is a piece at the New York Post from Frank Buckley, who takes the position that Trump still inhabits the true American sweet spot in politics and that there are three factions of the Republican party all at war with each other, two of which don’t get it.  The sweet spot, Buckley says, is more socially conservative but economically slightly more liberal (i.e., don’t touch popular entitlements) than the economically conservative base may be.

And finally, for a longer read along these lines, have a look at Richard Reinsch’s essay in National Affairs, “Envisioning a Constitutional Restoration.” Reinsch lays the blame for the drift away from constitutional government squarely at the feet of Congress which, he explains, “has chosen to delegate to federal agencies its constitutional birthright of writing laws (and in some cases even its power of the purse) for the pottage of distributing to various constituencies the spoils of executive government. Congress, as John Marini has observed, saves itself the trouble of behaving as a self-governing body, opting instead to manage the administrative state, which thus becomes, in a disturbing constitutional inversion, the real source of Congress’s authority.”

It’s time for the people to demand more from their representatives and Make Congress Great Again!  

—Ben Boychuk—

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed two bills aimed at curbing illegal immigration and punishing sanctuary cities. According to The Hill: “One [bill] would cut off some federal grants from so-called sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with immigration authorities; the other would impose tougher sentences on criminals who have entered the U.S. illegally multiple times.”   

President Trump endorsed both bills, calling them “vital to public safety and national security.” The votes were split more or less along party lines, with the sanctuary city bill passing 228-195, and the sentencing bill passing 257-167. Of note:

Three Democrats defected from their party to support taking away grants from the sanctuary localities: Reps. Matt Cartwright (Pa.), Henry Cuellar (Texas) and Collin Peterson (Minn.). Seven Republicans voted against the bill: Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Dan Donovan (N.Y.), Peter King (N.Y.), Dave Reichert (Wash.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.).

In education news, we’re a long way from making America’s schools great again as long as the people in charge of setting the curriculum remain in thrall to a multicultural ethos that eschews assimilation and civic education. But as Chester Finn of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute reminds us, schools also continue to peddle the self-esteem hoax:

Today, few people talk explicitly about self-esteem or other kooky curricular enthusiasms of the past, but the worldview and faux psychology that impelled them have never gone away. Of late, they’ve reappeared—and gained remarkable traction—under the banner of social-emotional learning, which claims to build the ways by which children learn and apply skills necessary to understand and manage their emotions, make decisions effectively, sustain positive relationships, and practice empathy.

The notion has attracted much buzz, thanks in part to its very own advocacy organization—the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, or CASEL—which is backed by many high-status funders across the country. The National Education Association climbed aboard as well. Social-emotional learning also enjoys a high-profile national commission under the aegis of the Aspen Institute.

Parents, you’ve been warned.

Finally, if you’re still trying to wrap your head around the health care reform debate, Jon Cassidy has a bracing essay at The American Spectator: “Obamacare is Killing People.”


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