Evaluating the Success of the War on Poverty since 1963 Using an Absolute Full-Income Poverty Measure (Richard V. Burkhauser, Kevin Corinth, James Elwell, and Jeff Larrimore, Journal of Political Economy)

We evaluate progress in the War on Poverty as President Lyndon B. Johnson defined it, which established a 20% baseline poverty rate and adopted an absolute standard. While the official poverty rate fell from 19.5% in 1963 to 10.5% in 2019, our absolute full-income poverty measure—which uses a fuller income measure and updates thresholds only for inflation—fell from 19.5% to 1.6%.


The tragedy behind Kissinger’s realpolitik (ROBERT D. KAPLAN, 11/30/23, UnHerd)

Kissinger’s beliefs, which emerge through his writing, are certainly not for the faint-hearted. They are emotionally unsatisfying, yet analytically timeless. They include: […]

[O]order is more important than freedom, since without order there is no freedom for anybody.

The Realist elevation of “order” above freedom is little more than collaboration with evil.


Everything We Know About the Man Accused of Shooting 3 Palestinian Students in Vermont (Tess Owen, 11/27/23, Vice)

One post from March 2022, titled “Thought Crime,” is an anti-vaxx screed that labels COVID-19 as a government conspiracy. “The scale and scope of this operation was next level,” he wrote.

He also shared other anti-vaxx sentiments on his LinkedIn, and wrote last year that he’d started deleting or unpublishing certain posts because “my ideas make some people not want to hire me.”


Greatness Without Cruelty: Young Nietzscheans should look to Tocqueville as a more politically responsible source for a new politics. (Daniel J. Mahoney, 11/29/23, Religion & Liberty)

[N]ietzsche threw the baby out with the bathwater. He indiscriminately blamed Platonic philosophy and Christianity for the excesses of democracy and the “degeneration and diminution of man into the perfect herd animal…this animalization of man into the dwarf animal of equal rights and claims” (BGE, #203). In doing so, he confused love of neighbor with resentment of greatness, and the search for timeless truths with the abdication of the willing and striving that defines humanity at its noblest. His defense of cruelty, of rank as an end itself, and of the “blond beast,” may not be his final word as a philosopher. But that kind of rhetoric was both intoxicating and grotesquely irresponsible.

Leo Strauss memorably argued in his 1957 essay “What is Political Philosophy?” that Nietzsche “used much of his unsurpassable and inexhaustible power of passionate and fascinating speech for making his readers loathe, not only socialism and communism, but conservatism, nationalism and democracy as well.” In doing so, “he left them with no choice except that between irresponsible indifference to politics,” a kind of self-satisfied aesthetic nihilism, “and irresponsible political options. He thus prepared a regime, which as long as it lasted, made discredited democracy again look again like the golden age.” Strauss added with true profundity that Nietzsche’s excessive valorization of the human will, of “will to power,” of “the triumph of the will,” would lead his descendants, from Heidegger to the existentialists to the even more vulgar postmodernists, to renounce “the very notion of eternity,” of the true and unchanging, of the enduring things. Man would sacrifice his nature, and the very order of things, to give free reign to his will.

Young enthusiasts on the Right take note: There is another way. As Harvey Mansfield once remarked, everything that is true and solid in Nietzsche can be found in an infinitely more responsible way in the thought of Alexis de Tocqueville. The great French thinker and statesman, too, despised socialism and the despotism of the soft which is the moral core of “soft” or “tutelary” despotism. But he did not reject Christianity, democracy, or equality rightly understood. He wrote nobly in the first volume of Democracy in America that “there is in fact a manly and legitimate passion for equality that incites men to want all to be strong and esteemed.” At the same time, he derided “a depraved taste for equality in the human heart that brings the weak to want to draw the strong to their level and that reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom.” As Pierre Manent argues in An Intellectual History of Liberalism, Tocqueville criticizes the pathological softness that can accompany and deform democracy without ever praising “‘harshness’ or even ‘cruelty.’” Against the humanitarian Left and the atheistic Right, the party of pity and the party of cruelty, he defends a noble and elevated conception of “political freedom” that “makes men come out of themselves to live in a common world, providing the wisdom for judging their virtues and their vices; only political freedom allows them to see themselves as both as equals and as distinct.”

Tocqueville called this path “liberty under God and the law.”


Shane MacGowan: a timeless voice for Ireland’s diaspora in England (Sean Campbell, 11/30/23, The Conversation)

MacGowan was born December 25 1957 in Kent, England (where his parents were visiting family), but spent his early years on a farm in County Tipperary. There, the youngster observed regular traditional Irish music sessions, which had – as his late mother Therese explained – “a tremendous influence on him”.

During the early 1960s, MacGowan relocated to London where his father had found work, precipitating what the singer called a “horrific change of life”. During this time, he would, he said, “cry [himself] to sleep” at night while “thinking about Ireland”.
He assuaged his homesickness by attending Irish social clubs and regularly visiting Ireland.

“Because there’s an Irish scene in London,” MacGowan later explained, “you never forget the fact that you originally came from Ireland. There are lots of Irish pubs, so there was always Irish music in bars and on jukeboxes. Then every summer I would spend my school holidays back in Tipperary.”

This experience of being raised in a migrant Irish environment would animate much of MacGowan’s work with The Pogues.

Despite securing a highly competed-for scholarship at Westminster (a prestigious private school), MacGowan was soon expelled for possessing drugs.
After a spell in London’s Bethlem Royal Hospital for alcohol and drug abuse, he took on work as a porter and barman. MacGowan’s interests became increasingly focused, though, on London’s emergent punk scene, at the centre of which was another second-generation Irish singer, John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten), the vocalist and lyricist for the Sex Pistols.

“I probably wouldn’t have been that interested if Johnny Rotten hadn’t been so bloody obviously Irish and made a big noise about it, and made such anti-English records,” Shane later observed.

MacGowan formed his own punk band, The Nips, who achieved moderate success before fragmenting in the early 1980s. During that period, Shane began to observe a turn towards “roots” music (later, “world music”) in London. This prompted him to take a radical change of direction. As the singer later explained: “I just thought … if people are being ‘ethnic’, I might as well be my own ‘ethnic’.”

With this in mind, MacGowan launched The Pogues in 1982, recruiting two other musicians of Irish descent, Cáit O’Riordan (bass) and Andrew Ranken (drums), alongside three non-Irish associates: Jem Finer (banjo), Spider Stacy (tin whistle) and James Fearnley (accordion).

The band forged a remarkable fusion of Irish folk and English punk, becoming what critics called “an unlikely meeting point between The Clancy Brothers and The Clash”.

I’m not singing for the future

I’m not dreaming of the past

I’m not talking of the first times

I never think about the last

The Pogues – A Rainy Night In Soho g via @YouTube


Is the New Right Just the Old Left? (RICHARD M. REINSCH II, NOVEMBER 28, 2023, Religion & Liberty)

The 2014 and 2016 federal elections were the last real successes for the Republican Party. Since then, we’ve had a party increasingly defining itself as a populist/workers’/nationalist party. The GOP traded support in prosperous suburbs in much of the country for lopsided margins in rural areas, whose voter turnout is lower and less certain. It hasn’t been an even electoral trade thus far. Gains with Latino voters in Florida, Texas, and other states have also occurred. The authors of this volume, as is the measure of the New Right generally, refuse to consider what it means that Republicans on a national level have lost or underperformed in every election post 2016, the election that turned the party in favor of the New Right.

Before this the Republicans won and kept control of the House and Senate with regularity since 1994. Charles Cooke observes that “since the Republican takeover of 1994, the party has controlled the House for 20 years out of a possible 28 (that’s 71 percent of the time), and the Senate for 16 years (that’s 57 percent of the time). This was not a party that had trouble winning elections.” So losing elections, at least, is something the New Right does better than what this volume terms the “establishment Right.”

But those former victories, we are told, were the days of moral weakness, cowardice, and establishment sellouts. Milikh informs us that “much of the decay we are experiencing originated in the Right’s own ideas, its failure to grasp the nature of the Left, and to arrest the latter’s growth.” The Republican Party won elections but refused to govern well. It declined to engage progressivism in hand-to-hand combat. The problem wasn’t just “intellectual error” but also “fear of the Left, combined with underlying belief in the Left’s moral superiority.” In short, as New Right initiates and their leaders inform us, they didn’t know what time it is. But as Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot recently retorted, the point is not to know what time it is but rather to determine what time you want it to be.

There is something characteristic of the progressive notion that history constitutes truth in much of the New Right’s thinking. But what really matters is how you’re going to rule now. Or, as Milikh invokes, in tones evocative of a totalized, spiritualized politics, “The New Right must become the party of beauty, vitality, strength, truth, high purpose, and fierceness. It must view itself as the guardian and ruthless defender of a sacred thing: our civilization.” These words, especially the word “ruthless,” suggest something close to the noble New Pagan, situated as it is between denunciations of the Left as the enemy and the establishment Right as its gelded servant. Ruthlessness and fierceness invoke acts that are volatile, violent, without limit in pursuit of their objects. What are we to be “ruthless” about and to what measure? What limits our ruthless actions? What about “fierceness”? Do we really believe that the ends justifies the means? Is this the politics of a constitutional republic, premised on natural right, limited by law, governed through deliberation and the belief that both man and law are under God?

Heck, the New Right is just the Old Right. They’re the same old white male paleoconservatives who were always driven by race.


Remember the Founding (michael lucchese, 11/28/23, Law & Liberty)

In his most recent essay, Compact Magazine columnist Michael Lind urges readers to “Forget the Founding Fathers.” He argues that respect for the American Founding constitutes a “cult” which inhibits our ability to make sound policy. Bizarrely, Lind claims that appeals to the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence prevent Americans from having “nice things” such as “a living wage, labor unions, guaranteed access to inexpensive health care, or adequate social insurance.”


China Cracks Down on Language (Amanda Florian, November 29, 2023, New/Lines)

Two years ago, a linguistic and political Pandora’s box was opened in China. Under new rules, tutors were no longer allowed to hold private classes in person or online for students based in China. Though this was not exclusive to English-language courses, it largely affected tutors and education companies that specialized in teaching English as a second language (ESL).

The crackdown not only restricted the raising of foreign capital by tutoring companies, it also had an impact on tutors thousands of miles away. Private tutors across the globe, including young Americans who taught English as their second job, found themselves without work. Chinese students — and their parents — eager to sign up for English courses in person or online suddenly had to resort to private lessons on the black market. This was only the beginning.

“Suddenly, this crackdown of no more online teaching appeared,” Katie, a teacher based in Hampshire, England, who taught independently after the ban was implemented, told New Lines. “So, yeah, I would say it was quite unexpected for a lot of teachers.” Advertising her services on Chinese platforms like WeChat and Xiaohongshu, China’s version of Pinterest, she said, there was still a lot of demand from students and parents looking for solutions despite the ban.

The restrictions on private tutoring led VIPKid, one of the biggest online education companies, to halt private courses offered in China while other companies shut down completely. VIPKid, once valued at $3 billion, had been backed by a hefty lineup, including Tencent, Sequoia Capital and Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Capital.

“As a foreigner, former teacher, and person living in the modern global economy, I cannot agree with or even understand the thought process of neutering an entire generation’s ability to communicate with the world. It seems absolutely insane to me,” said an American former ESL teacher, currently based in Henan, China.

Globalization is Anglofication. Mandarin is a dead language.


Argentina Agonistes: The Separation of Money and State (Michael Munger, November 29, 2023, AIER)

Argentina is in many ways an advanced nation with a moronic government, saddled with the ditzy wishful thinking of Peronism. Argentina has a tax collection/compliance rate of less than 40 percent, more characteristic of a third world nation. As Leonidas Zalmanovitz pointed out last week, the real problem is a consensus on reducing inflation, not fiddling with rules.

Still, rules and institutions matter. Combining the “generosity” of Peronism, albeit generosity with the money of others, and the inability to collect taxes, has meant that the government has systematically gutted the value of the already threadbare peso. That issue, more than any other, is the reason that an outsider such as Milei was able to win by nearly 20 percent of the vote, a landslide rejection of orthodoxy. It is worth taking a step back and considering the sources of these “Argentina Agonistes,” and thinking about Milei’s core promise: the separation of money and state. I wonder if future generations will look back and wonder, “what took them so long?”


MAGA senator’s attempt to discredit expert backfires at gun crime hearing (video) (DAVID PESCOVITZ, NOV 28, 2023, Boing Boing)

Kennedy started by asking Ramey what he thought was a clever trap question: “Why do you think that Chicago has become America’s largest outdoor shooting range? You think it’s because of Chicago citizens who have no criminal record, but who have lawfully a gun in their home for protection? Or perhaps for hunting? Or do you think it’s because of a finite group of criminals who have rap sheets as long as King Kong’s arm?”

Ranney didn’t take the bait. Instead, she told Kennedy that the state he represents is deadlier than Chicago.

“So Mississippi, Louisiana, and Missouri actually have higher firearm death rates,” she said.