Just a few days ago, Trump advisor Anthony Scaramucci seemed to be in hot water. In reaction to bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers across the country, he tweeted "It's not yet clear who the #JCC offenders are. Don't forget @TheDemocrats effort to incite violence at Trump rallies." Now, the FBI has arrested Juan Thompson, an anti-Trump, pro-Communist African American.  I am not surprised.  Over the years, the vast majority of anti-Semitic asides I have heard have come not from conservatives, of the “right,”  as conventional wisdom would have you believe, but from my crunchy, leftist friends.  I am a semi-Semite, so to speak, with a father who is Reform Jew, and a mother is a lapsed Catholic.  I don’t walk around wearing a chai (the Hebrew symbol for life), still...with a name like “Grossman,” you’d think that people might hesitate to drop ethnic slurs and stereotypes into our conversation. Unfortunately, not.   One woman I know remarked that her landlord was “a typical Jew” for raising her rent.  Another raised an eyebrow when a local restaurant burned down: “Jewish insurance, you know.”  Apart from their anti-Semitic expressions, what do these two women have in common?  They are “progressives”--tax-the-rich, Israel-is-bad, anti-gun fanatics who are sure that international corporations rule the world--and all that.  Two anecdotes, but of dozens of...
If you’re like me, you cheered the announcement by SpaceX head Elon Musk that his company plans to send two people on a slingshot swing around the Moon in 2018. But if you want a future filled with such exciting achievements, take a minute to ask what a society must have as prerequisites. Private rockets from innovators Musk, of course, is the entrepreneur who co-founded Paypal with Peter Thiel. He went on to found Tesla Motors, which produces cutting-edge cars and, soon, batteries that could power your house. With SpaceX, Musk’s company has built rockets that now carry cargoes to the International Space Station on contact with NASA. And the Falcon Heavy rocket, which Musk hopes to test soon, will be capable of interplanetary voyages. It’s with this system he wants to send a ship with two private, paying passengers on a swing around the Moon, with lunar gravity hurling it back to Earth for a safe touchdown. Musk is just one of a new breed of private entrepreneur doing what many thought only governments could do. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, through his company Blue Origins, is building his own innovative rockets, and Richard Branson, through Virgin Galactic, soon hopes to offer private, suborbital flights. But consider what it takes—in our culture, values, and virtues—to produce such achievements or any of those that are on the horizon in exponential technologies like bioengineering, nanotech,...
I am feeling my age.  Make that “Age.” I feel as though since the Republican National Convention, in July, I have done nothing but think, talk, write, post, and everything but pray (and that may be coming) about politics. So far, I have not taken to the streets—bad company. Although for much of my life, since I read Atlas Shrugged at age 17, 45 years ago, I have been active in politics in an intellectual sense, always concerned, the past few months feel like a climax. I supported Donald Trump; others did not. But I observe around me people viewing our day as apocalyptic (or is it just that I still check the front page of the New York Times)? This evening’s blow-out about the exclusion of three reporters from a White House briefing is typical. I’m with President Obama: “It isn’t the end of the world until the world ends.” What we are witnessing is but one new episode in one long, all-encompassing drama. The drama is the Age of Politics. Through the Ages Reading about the Age of Faith, Age of Enlightenment, Age of Science—all eras in the history of the West—did you ever ask: what is our age? There have been bids to name it, of course: the age of anxiety, the age of technology, the space age, and the information age. All of them have a claim, but how would you go about choosing one? I suggest this test:  In any given extended period of history—say, at least a century, usually longer—what did mankind view, explicitly and implicitly, as the key to salvation, or human destiny, or...
For partisans on both sides of the nomination (and hard-fought confirmation) of Betsy DeVos, 59, of Michigan, as secretary of education, I have glad tidings. If you long for remission of America’s most invasive monopoly—tax-supported (“public”) education—Secretary DeVos is your advocate of public-school choice, charter schools, and, above all, vouchers for parents to spend at schools of their choosing. She has been called “a fierce proponent of vouchers” that enable students to attend private schools with public funding. Vouchers for private education would begin to rectify one of the single greatest injustices imposed on American families: paying all their working lives for “free” tax-supported education for other families and then paying all over again for education of their own children at a school of their choosing. If you are alarmed by her confirmation, there is good news, too. Any significant change she brings to U.S. tax-supported education will come only through voluntary acceptance of her ideas on the local level—the pivotal level of control in American elementary and secondary education. The numbers tell the story. The Budget Office, U.S. Department of Education, reports that “the President's budget request for FY 2017 includes $69.4 billion in discretionary funding.” And that the...
On Monday, February 20, I will celebrate Washington’s Birthday. That is still the official federal holiday—“President’s Day” and “Washington’s and Lincoln’s Day” are among informal variants - it is a state right to decide whose birthday is being celebrated: Virginia, Illinois, Iowa and New York are the only states that exclusively celebrate Washington’s birthday. The modern impulse to “inclusiveness,” in this case, has led us astray. Lack of focus creates an unwelcome blur when meaning should be clear. George Washington’s life, and his service to America, exemplify just a few ideals, but to perfection—and they are ideals that define America - I would name: patriotism, the citizen statesman, refusal of personal political power, unapologetic national self-interest, the rule of law, and absolute adherence to the U.S. Constitution. Washington' powerful and enduring ideals have become part of the American spirit and political heritage--so much so, as Ayn Rand dramatizes with bitter irony in a scene from Atlas Shrugged (Part II, Ch.6) -- that those who betray them must avert their gaze from Washington’s legacy.  She writes, describing a meeting of the looters in Washington, DC, to pass Directive 10-289 to crush the last of the country’s economic freedom: "Whatever type of men we're counting on and planning for," said Dr. Ferris, "there's a certain old-fashioned quotation which we may safely forget: the one about counting on the wise and the honest. We don't have to consider...

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