Sunday, September 29, 2013

Odds and ends 9/29/2013

What glaring contradictions in this Daniel Henninger piece on Obamacare:

If ObamaCare fails, or seriously falters, the entitlement state will suffer a historic loss of credibility with the American people. It will finally be vulnerable to challenge and fundamental change. But no mere congressional vote can achieve that. Only the American people can kill ObamaCare.

No matter what Sen. Ted Cruz and his allies do, ObamaCare won’t die. It would return another day in some other incarnation. The Democrats would argue, rightly, that the ideas inside ObamaCare weren’t defeated. What the Democrats would lose is a vote in Congress, nothing more.

So, Obamacare must be allowed to fail in order to convince Americans they don’t want it or any part of the entitlement state.

Next paragraph:

A political idea, once it becomes a national program, achieves legitimacy with the public. Over time, that legitimacy deepens. So it has been with the idea of national social insurance.

Wait a minute. Henninger just said Obamacare’s implementation will infuriate Americans and move the dial towards liberty. Now he’s saying its legitimacy will deepen despite its failures. Is this not a point in support of defunding Obamacare?

A few paragraphs on, Henninger continues:

Medicaid is the worst medicine in the United States. It grinds on. Doctors in droves are withdrawing from Medicare. No matter. It all lives on.

So will Obamacare if it’s not stopped.

In what world does Henninger live in which Americans aren’t already opposed to Obamacare? The landslide of opposition he foresees (illogically, by his own argument) exists now! The problem is translating that sentiment into political will to stop Obamacare. Political will, that is what is lacking.

It baffles me that a person of intelligence would write this. I can only surmise that Henninger and his editors at the Wall Street Journal are so afraid of the fight they will rationalize any argument for inaction. Even Thomas Sowell, who admits Republicans’ political advantage on Obamacare, shies from the fight. These ninnies can’t lead the American people. They can’t even follow the American people.

Letting Obamacare collapse under its own weight won’t work, as I wrote this week. Henninger’s strategy of no strategy is actually worse than John Cornyn and Co.’s fig leaf strategy of delay.

“Cruz, for all the flaws of his strategy, has articulated one. Other Republicans have not. They’ve only declared Cruz’s strategy, which is an actual strategy, isn’t really one because they don’t like it.” –Erick Erickson

The Onion satirizes the Obamacare debate:

Local man Henry Allen, 56, expressed concern Tuesday that the debate over how United States citizens receive health care may in fact be becoming a political issue, sources confirmed. “Is it just me, or does it seem like the overall health and well-being of everyday Americans is in danger of somehow being used as fodder for elected officials to score political points against their rivals?” Allen told reporters, adding that he’d hate to think that lawmakers from both parties would distort the facts of a literal life-and-death issue solely to gain seats in Congress, if in fact that is what’s happening. “I mean, supposing that is the case, and health care is becoming politicized in some way, how does that really help someone who doesn’t have access to quality health care actually get health care? I guess it really doesn’t.” Allen stated that, in the end, he believes elected officials know how great their responsibility is to the American people, and that they would ultimately of course never let something as petty as party politics get in the way of that.

Everything is politicized, because politicians involve government in everything. It would be wonderful if they followed the constitutional limits placed on them and got their noses out of our business.

Betsey McCaughey writes in the American Spectator:

In Federalist 62, Madison warned that it will be pointless for Americans to elect a Congress, if it in turn enacts laws “too voluminous to be read,” or if these laws then “undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what it will be tomorrow.” That’s Obamacare.

Amazing headline: “Only Good Guys With Data Can Stop the Gun Lobby,” or “How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Tyranny.”

Before signing your names to this idiocy, be sure you’re comfortable with big government collecting data on your sex life. I’ve been going to church regularly for almost a year, and no one has asked me about my sex life. The technocratic state is the real theocracy.

The Bloomberg editors justify themselves:

Each exchange will need to rely on the smooth operation of a series of linked data networks, so that people can sign up for insurance reasonably quickly and efficiently. That means sharing relevant data with Medicaid, the IRS and other sources.

In a word, Leviathan.

The vapid Eugene Robinson scolds the Republican Congress for defunding Obamacare. Dishonesty and inconsistency abound:

Here we are, with Speaker John Boehner cowed into letting his members threaten to shut down the government unless they are allowed to stay up all night watching television and eating candy. Also, unless the Senate and Obama agree to nullify health-care reform before it fully takes effect.

The president has done more than anyone to “nullify” Obamacare, exempting groups of people and delaying provisions that were duly passed by majorities of his own party in Congress and signed off by the Supreme Court.

At issue is not just the threat of a federal shutdown, which will happen Oct. 1 unless Congress passes a continuing resolution to fund government operations.

Which, shockingly, they’ve done!

It’s an imperfect law, to be sure, but it could be made much better with the kind of constructive tinkering that responsible leaders performed on Social Security and Medicare.

Robinson may be stupid and infantile enough to let some technocrat play him like a marionette. Not me.

Lest I understate the point, let me repeat: Obamacare was never about sound policy. It was always about creating the government infrastructure to dominate our lives.

“Is everybody wrong?”

That, in three simple words, was the question a reporter asked President Obama last week.

“Yes, they are,” the president said with a straight face.

“They can’t do a thing about it, anyway,” he didn’t say.


The retards who wrote San Antonio’s nondiscrimination ordinance cost the city the patronage of the Southern Baptist Convention:

James Guenther with the Southern Baptist Convention, says his organization may prompt his organization, which regularly stages one of the largest conventions hosted by the city, to dump San Antonio, because the language in the NDO may force the Baptists to accept homosexuality, something that goes against their religious philosophy.

“We are trying to understand what the SBC would be agreeing to, exactly, if it signed such a contract,” Guenther told 1200 WOAI’s Michael Board.

The problem, Guenther says, is that the NDO requires anybody who signed a city contract to accept homosexuality. The Baptists routinely meet in the Alamodome or in the Convention Center, both of which are city owned facilities. Guenther says that may put the Baptists in a bind, barring them from asking, for example, a representative of a rogue Baptist congregation which accepts gay and lesbian pastors, from leaving the meeting.

“We don’t know as a matter of fact how a court would interpret it, or how the city would interpret it,” he said.

The ordinance says you can’t do business with the city if you have “engaged in discrimination or demonstrated a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group, or organization on the basis of...sexual orientation”! So, assuming sexuality is fixed—which it’s not—you can’t rent public facilities and also adhere to the morality posited by Moses, Jesus, and Martin Luther King, Jr. How else do you interpret it?

Albert Mohler comments on the war on military chaplains:

Make no mistake, the moral revolution driven by those who demand the total normalization of homosexuality and same-sex relationships will not stop with the crisis over military chaplains. But at this moment, the chaplains are on the front lines of the great cultural and moral conflict of our times. This is a moment of crisis for the chaplains; but it is also a moment of crisis for the entire nation. If religious liberty is denied to evangelical Christian chaplains in the military, if they must surrender their convictions or their commissions, then religious liberty is lost in America, and the chaplains will be but the first casualties of this loss.

True. There will be no sanctuary to preach or practice “bigotry” in a civilian setting, as a Washington state bakery and New Mexico photography business have learned. A radical, regressive amorality has swept over the land, intoxicating the population under the misnomer “liberty.”


“Human communities are not made of pure spirits. And so we face a fundamental political question for ‘societies’: What makes human beings beget children? What will make mankind want to go on existing? One could mention many things different in nature: economic and social conditions, legal measures, the psychological atmosphere of a society. But above all there is the need for two things: a vision and a choice. No society will endure if some people do not look farther than one century, beyond what an individual can experience. We must see beyond the saeculum. Equally necessary is a choice, one I call ‘metaphysical.’ This choice consists in saying that it is good that there exist human beings on Earth: ‘good’ in itself, not just fun for the present generation.” –RĂ©mi Brague

Norman Doige writes about porn:

Now, 24/7 access to internet porn is laying the foundation of [teens’] sexual tastes. In Beeban Kidron’s InRealLife, a gripping film about the effects of the internet on teenagers, a 15-year-old boy of extraordinary honesty and courage articulates what is going on in the lives of millions of teen boys. He shows her the porn images that excite him and his friends, and describes how they have moulded their “real life” sexual activity. He says: “You’d try out a girl and get a perfect image of what you’ve watched on the internet ... you’d want her to be exactly like the one you saw on the internet ... I’m highly thankful to whoever made these websites, and that they’re free, but in other senses it’s ruined the whole sense of love. It hurts me because I find now it’s so hard for me to actually find a connection to a girl.”

The sexual tastes and the romantic longings of these boys have become dissociated from each other. Meanwhile, the girls have “downloaded” on to them the expectation that they play roles written by pornographers. Once, porn was used by teens to explore, prepare and relieve sexual tension, in anticipation of a real sexual relationship. Today, it supplants it.

What prisons are our sins!

At First Things, David Nolan critiques slot machines as a form of pornography:

Besides the detrimental effect slot machines have on many economically vulnerable Americans, their pervasiveness also indicates a certain flattening out of American vices. There is no flair in slot machines; there is none of the excitement of a horse race, or the human element of a poker game. Caleb Stegall identified the growth of slot machines as a result of the “culture of pornography”—a culture that affirms a utilitarian calculus of sin: “It is sin carefully processed, packaged, marketed, shopped for, and stored away in the cupboard, ready to satisfy any late night craving we may have. The attraction of the midnight snack is that it perpetuates the illusion of free and responsible adulthood while all the while allowing us to submit completely to the slavery of desire.”

Sins like passionate extramarital affairs, Stegall argues, at least “affirm us as spiritual beings in all of our fallenness,” whereas the prevalence of pornography speaks to a spiritless and materialist understanding of love, pleasure, and sex. Dmitri Karamazov’s zealous sin is more human than the apathetic immorality bespoken by a slot machine. But we live in a culture that struggles to see that “no victim” sins usually harm the actor himself. And in the case of gambling addiction, that active part of the actor decreases dramatically. Our sins, in a certain sense, have become less human.

Sin is isolating. It creates gaps in your routine that you’re ashamed to account for to your friends. It’s harder to resist sin now. Technology offers sin to be consumed in the sinner’s private hell.

Read Stegall’s 2005 article, “Plastic Sinners, Plastic Sins,” here.


Communing with God in Jesus is a—you guessed it—communal effort. True worship happens in church. That’s the takeaway from this Bryan Dykarticle:

Yeakley concluded that the most effective form of evangelism framed conversion as a gradual process that unfolds over time, in the context of multiple relationships in which non-manipulative, honest exploration could occur.

Religion researcher Vern Bengtson gives a compelling interview to Christianity Today. Excerpts:

Quite unexpectedly and unique to our modern times, we found that many religious “nones” (the almost 30% of Americans between the ages of 18-40 who say they have no religious affiliation) have also been successful in passing on their faith. These kids are not rebelling from their parents, but instead following their parents’ influence in having no religious affiliation. After all, a child’s lack of religion is often no less an example of intentional religious formation on the part of parents. We noted that non-theistic families pass down strong moral and ethical standards just as consistently as pious Catholic or evangelical parents try to pass down their own values and religious standards.

...

the quality of the relationship between the child and the parent affects the success or lack of success in transmission. Warm, affirming parents, especially fathers, tend to be the most successful. For example, we followed a very religious father who comes from a long line of Mormon patriarchs, a stalwart of the church who allowed for no tampering with tradition or slippage in his five children’s devotion. His son, Austin, goes away to a mission where he has a nervous breakdown and is sent home. His father is furious, and Austin leaves the church. Again and again, we saw that fervent faith cannot compensate for a distant, inflexible dad. Being a role model is irrelevant if the child doesn’t feel the parent’s example is worth following.


Is this the best piece Rick Reilly has ever written? I think so.

Edmundo Macedo, vice president of ESPN’s Stats & Information group, told ESPN ombudsman Robert Lipsyte that the term Redskins is abhorrent. “We would not accept anything similar as a team nickname if it were associated with any other ethnicity or any other race,” Macedo said.

Oh, yes, we would.

In fact, ESPN and many other media companies cover the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the Cleveland Indians and the Atlanta Braves without a single searing search of their social conscience.

Doesn’t matter. The 81-year-old Washington Redskins name is falling, and everybody better get out of the way. For the majority of Native Americans who don’t care, we’ll care for them. For the Native Americans who haven’t asked for help, we’re glad to give it to them.

Trust us. We know what’s best. We’ll take this away for your own good, and put up barriers that protect you from ever being harmed again.

Kind of like a reservation.


If disarming the people fails, robbing them of the wisdom to discern friend from foe is the next best thing. Such is being attempted in military training manuals. Investor’s Business Daily reports:

Under a section titled “Extremist Ideologies,” the document states, “In U.S. history, there are many examples of extremist ideologies and movements. The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule and the Confederate states who sought to secede from the Northern states are just two examples.”

We would not lump the two together necessarily, but the Pentagon does. And so, apparently, does a leftist group called the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

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Earlier this year, we editorialized about a 14-page email by Lt. Col. Frank Rich, the Second Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment Commander at Fort Campbell, Ky., to three dozen subordinates warning them to watch out for soldiers connected with “domestic hate groups.” The list of “hate” groups in the email appears to be based on the one compiled by the SPLC.

“Nowadays, instead of dressing in sheets or publicly espousing hate messages, many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place,” the Pentagon guide advises.

Angry yet?

Speaking of reeducation, a Texas history textbook has redacted the Second Amendment to read: “The people have a right to keep and bear arms in a state militia.” The Daily Paul explains:

A militia is a body of citizens enrolled for military service, and called out periodically for drill but serving full time only in emergencies. It’s a common man army of citizens, NOT soldiers. The citizens are called up in emergencies to protect the free State.

The 2nd Amendment says that a militia is necessary to protect a free State, so in order to be able to have a militia, the citizens have a natural right to keep and bear arms and the government cannot infringe on that right.

The textbook version implies that we’re only allowed to keep and bear arms if we’re in a State militia, a clear misrepresentation of the 2nd Amendment.

Textbooks are a political football in Texas. In the media, you see it manifest itself more often than not as creationists trying to remove the theory of evolution from science textbooks, or trying to insert intelligent design as an alternative theory to the beginnings of the universe.

Conflicts like this could be avoided if education weren’t needlessly nationalized for the sake of economies of scale. Schools that serve their districts, that are held accountable to parents who send their children there, wouldn’t impose a foreign curriculum developed by bureaucrats in faraway Austin or Washington, D.C. They would teach to the realities and the local interests of the community.

When you realize the entire education apparatus, from the schools that teach teachers to the textbooks that teachers use, has been infiltrated by regressive ideology, you will be more sympathetic to the modest change creationists demand.

(I’m uninterested in the theory of evolution, insofar as it’s not used as a tool by atheists and Marxists to disprove the existence of God. In the grand scheme of things, I question how important it really is. In my personal and professional life I have not had to rely on the theory of evolution once.)


John McWhorter writes about the hijacking of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy in the Wall Street Journal:

In the decades since the March on Washington, black America has been taken on a detour by too many self-described progressive black thinkers and leaders, whose quixotic psycho-social experiment they disguise as a continuation of the civil-rights movement. With segregation illegal and public racism considered a moral outrage, we black Americans are now told that we will not truly overcome until Americans don’t even harbor private racist sentiment, until race plays not even a subtle role in America’s social fabric.

In other words, our current battle is no longer against segregation or bigotry but “racism” of the kind that can be revealed only by psychological experiments and statistical studies.

This battle is as futile as seeking a world without germs. “We have come to the nation’s capital to cash a check,” King said. But the preacher was talking about being freed from “the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination”—not asking whether Americans are aware of skin color or are more likely to associate black faces with negative words in an experiment.

Along these lines, the term “institutional racism,” which the Black Power movement injected into the lexicon in the late 1960s, is more damaging to the black psyche than the n-word or any crude jokes about plantations or food stamps. The term encourages blacks to think of society—in which inequality, while real, is complex and faceless—as actively and reprehensibly racist in the same way that Archie Bunker was. The result is visceral bitterness toward something that can’t feel or think.

Equally distracting is the notion that America needs a “conversation” about race, one in which whites submit to a lesson from blacks about so-called institutional racism.


Rachel Lu writes in Public Discourse about Millennials and marriage (re: “Ready or not”):

By now it is an accepted fact that the capstone model has worked moderately well for the educated upper class, and far less well for poorer and less educated Americans. Americans across all demographics place more emphasis on the emotional and romantic aspects of marriage than their great-grandparents would have done.

Talking with the relatively privileged attendees of a four-year university has made me realize, however, that the rationale behind late marriage goes far beyond the romance. College students take comfort in laying out a path to marriage that connects with another area of life that they think they understand, namely, educational and professional ladder-climbing. Good spouses, they often suggest, will be found in higher-status professions and social circles, and they themselves will “qualify” for a good marriage if they achieve similar professional status.

Having devoted so much energy and attention to the education game, they naturally fold happy marriage into the spoils they already associate with professional accomplishment. The organic link between marriage and parenthood may be severely weakened, but marriage, prosperity, and professional success are coming to be seen as an “organic” package of a different kind.

As crass as this view may seem, there are actually some upsides. Young people see marriage as a prize worth working for and worth protecting once it has been attained. Statistical data would also suggest that they are not entirely wrong to think that marriage becomes easier when a couple is more mature and better established.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of reasons to worry. If marriage is a reward for professional establishment, this means that success in life comes in a kind of double-or-nothing package. If that is the case, one ramification will be that fewer good jobs will mean fewer good marriages. Even among the elite, this is not a promising model in an economic downturn. The unemployed young, in particular, will end up rootless, purposeless, and lacking the stability that marriage and commitment can provide.


Is The End of Men author Hannah Rosin recanting?

I suppose the patriarchy was lurking somewhere in my subconscious, tricking me into believing that it was more my duty to stay home with our new baby than my husband’s. But I didn’t see it as a “duty.” I wanted to stay home with her, and I also wanted to work like a fiend. It was complicated and confusing, a combination of my personal choices, the realities of a deadline-driven newsroom, and the lack of a broader infrastructure to support working parents—certainly too complicated to pin on a single enemy.

What does “broader infrastructure” mean? Is it the choice to hand the baby off to taxpayer-funded nannies?

Bryce Covert keeps her comrade in check:

Patriarchy greedily holds onto power and only bestows it on (almost always white) men. It hoards the most respected and best-paid jobs for men. It pays men more—even when they do “women’s work.” It refuses to change the structures of our workplace and our society to accommodate the fact that women are no longer kept at home to tend hearth and home. Women have made remarkable progress over the past half-century and feminists have celebrated some important victories. But that can’t diminish from the incredible load of unfinished work to truly change the patriarchal system we live in.

I thought feminism was supposed to destroy male-female distinctions to create gender “equality.” If that’s true, why, then, would the workplace need to change to accommodate women?

Because women really are different from men. Because women occupy different spheres in social and economic life than men. The feminist project was doomed to fail from the start.


Mohler praises work (re: “The End of Work”):

Christians understand labor as a duty, but miss the fact that it is also a gift. In the first place, God has made us able to work: e.g., to manipulate things, to cultivate the ground, to manage herds, and to invent microprocessors. Secondly, He has allowed us through labor to understand at least part of our purpose in life: to fulfill a vocation. Furthermore, we can often see the result of our labors: the farmer takes pride in his orderly rows of crops; the carpenter sees the beauty of his cabinet; the doctor is fulfilled in his recovering patient; the mother sleeps content after a day of unceasing work with children. Still, many people have difficulty seeing labor—especially their own labor—as a gift.

Mark Steyn catalogs the mounting evidence that America is a banana republic:

Where do you go to get a piece of this action? As the old saying goes, bank robbers rob banks because that’s where the money is. But the smart guys rob taxpayers because that’s where the big money is. According to the Census Bureau’s latest “American Community Survey,” between 2000 and 2012 the nation’s median household income dropped 6.6 percent. Yet in the District of Columbia median household income rose 23.3 percent. According to a 2010 survey, seven of the nation’s ten wealthiest counties are in the Washington commuter belt. Many capital cities have prosperous suburbs — London, Paris, Rome — because those cities are also the capitals of enterprise, finance, and showbiz. But Washington does nothing but government, and it gets richer even as Americans get poorer. That’s very banana republic, too: Proximity to state power is now the best way to make money. Once upon a time Americans found fast-running brooks and there built mills to access the water that kept the wheels turning. But today the ambitious man finds a big money-no-object bureaucracy that likes to splash the cash around and there builds his lobbying group or consultancy or social media optimization strategy group.

Mike Lee gave a terrific speech at the American Enterprise Institute September 17. Excerpts:

There is a very good reason why Americans across the political spectrum—from the Tea Party to the Occupy movement—believe our system has become rigged.

Rigged for big government, big business, and big special interests. And rigged against the ordinary citizens and forgotten families who work hard, play by the rules, and live within their means.

More and more every day, the system is rigged. The market can’t do that. Only government can. And it does.

Government at all levels—but especially in Washington, not coincidentally now home to six of America’s ten wealthiest counties—is in effect redistributing opportunity from the poor and middle class ... to government itself and its clients and cronies.

This inequality crisis—including government’s role in it and the millions of struggling families it is leaving behind—is the great social and economic challenge facing the United States today.

It is also the great challenge facing the Republican Party.

For it is our own deepest convictions about the pursuit of happiness and the very meaning of America that this opportunity crisis subverts.

Without equal opportunity, our free enterprise economy and voluntary civil society—the twin pillars of American exceptionalism—break down.

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But the first and most important piece of this “pursuit of happiness” agenda should restore equal opportunity to the first and most important institution of them all...

The institution that unites all Americans regardless of race, class, creed, or politics: the institution of the family.

Here, I am not speaking about the family as a moral or cultural institution—strictly as a social and economic one.

Conservatives sometimes get criticized for putting too much emphasis on the family in policy debates. But a growing body of evidence—much of it developed here at A.E.I.—suggests the critics have it backwards. The real problem may be that we don’t think about family enough.

For family is not just one of the major institutions through which people pursue happiness. It is the one upon which all the others depend.

More than that, in recent years, the family has emerged as perhaps the most important institution in our economy.

The family is an incubator of economic opportunity, and an indicator of economic success.

It is every individual’s primary source of human and social capital: habits and skills like empathy, self-discipline, trust, and cooperation that grow more economically important every day.

The family is where we learn the skills to access and succeed in America’s market economy and civil society ... and thereby create new opportunities for others to do the same.

This is dynamite stuff. Coming from a senator makes it even better.

It must have sounded as music to the ears of Michael Hendrix, who writes in Mere Orthodoxy:

Rising income inequality, wealth disparities, and disproportionate health outcomes are all impossible to understand without taking a hard look at families. As Jason DeParle wrote last year in the New York Times that “changes in marriage patterns — as opposed to changes in individual earnings — may account for as much as 40% of the growth in certain measures of inequality.” David Leonhardt, also of the Times, noted a recent finding that “family structure was one of the four factors with a clear relationship to upward mobility.” As Schulz himself found, only 5% of married families were poor at any point this year, while 30% of single-parent households felt the blow of poverty. These data points paint a bleak portrait; those being raised without a mother and a father will face immense social and economic barriers.

The end result is that American families now seem to follow two tracks: those of the upper-middle class, where family institutions remain relatively strong, and those of the lower-middle class, where family instability is distressingly common. Charles Murray’s Coming Apart, in particular, provides a detailed picture of this growing disconnect.

Many people can and do succeed in the midst of family brokenness, of course. Yet the risks of failing are far too high when kids are raised in the context of relational instability. Socioeconomic mobility and multigenerational poverty are empirically linked to family stability like never before.

Family is society writ small, where one builds basic human capital, social capital, and skills. In Schulz’s calculation, family is a basic, vital economic unit—the X factor. Family builds empathy and self-control, which in turn shapes character. Character fosters human capital (“knowledge, education, habits, willpower”) and social capital (assets “created and maintained by relationships of commitment and trust”), which ultimately generates economic growth. You could practically build a formula out of it.

Empathy in particular is linked to social capital, while self-control informs much of human capital, allowing individuals to be invested in the long-term good rather than short-term gain. We also see this influence in an assortment of non-cognitive skills, such as delayed gratification, which, as Walter Mischel established around 1989, is a core factor in individual success.

I never heard of Mischel before, but the principle of delayed gratification jives with the principle I put forth in “Forsaken future,” which we do by not delaying gratification.

Many of these points are repetitive, but they reinforce the centrality of family and, by extension, marriage, in civil society’s survival.

Speaking of which, Lee gave another terrific speech in April at the Heritage Foundation.

Excerpts:

In Washington, we debate public policy so persistently that we can lose sight of the fact that policies are means, not ends.

We say we are for lower taxes, or less regulation, or spending restraint. But those are just policies we advocate. They’re not what we’re really for. What we’re really for are the good things those policies will yield to the American people.

What we’re really for is the kind of society those policies would allow the American people to create, together.

Together.

If there is one idea too often missing from our debate today that’s it: together.

In the last few years, we conservatives seem to have abandoned words like “together,” “compassion,” and “community”... as if their only possible meanings were as a secret code for statism.

This is a mistake. Collective action doesn’t only — or even usually mean government action.

Conservatives cannot surrender the idea of community to the Left, when it is the vitality of our communities upon which our entire philosophy depends.

Nor can we allow one politician’s occasional conflation of “compassion” and “bigger government” to discourage us from emphasizing the moral core of our worldview.

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We need to remind the American people — and perhaps, too, the Republican Party itself — that the true and proper end of political subsidiarity is social solidarity.

Ours has never been a vision of isolated, atomized loners. It is a vision of husbands and wives; parents and children; neighbors and neighborhoods; volunteers and congregations; bosses and employees; businesses and customers; clubs, teams, groups, associations... and friends.

Liberty is the means!

Lee is a tremendous thinker and one of my favorite senators. I wonder how well his ideas would play in a presidential debate. Imagine the campaign slogan: “Mike Lee, a Better Mormon than Mitt Romney.”

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