Ideas in Exile

But not forever.

The occasion of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s retirement from Congress at the end of this term has spawned a variety of premature conclusions about the evolutionary trajectory of the Republican Party. The most common are those that contend this is only the latest sign that Ryan’s ideology—a small-government ethos espoused by modest public servants—is dead; this is Donald Trump’s party now. Well, that’s no earth-shattering revelation. The power of the presidency is such that both parties inevitably become reflections of their most prominent elected officials. Perhaps all GOP resistance to Trump and Trumpism has finally been stamped out, but you wouldn’t be able to reach that conclusion from listening to Ryan’s exit interviews. For anyone who isn’t invested in ushering Paul Ryan’s vision into an early grave, the Speaker has made it clear that the ideological confrontations between Trump’s allies and conventional conservatives are far from over.

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Ideas in Exile

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But She Fights

A Trump of their own.

There were many arguments for opposing Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency, but the retort usually boiled down to a single glib sentence: “But he fights.”

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Politicians Need Free Speech Too

A lesson from Finland.

High-ranking politicians are entitled to freedom of speech and conscience. That shouldn’t be a controversial statement, but it often is, especially in European countries where the range of acceptable views is narrow–and narrowing. Just ask Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini, who spent the summer fighting off an investigation into his participation at an anti-abortion vigil in Canada. On Friday, Soini survived a no-confidence vote in Parliament over the issue.

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Planet Earth Dodges a Bullet

Banality and evil.

A week ago, I wondered what was going on in Sunspot, New Mexico. The FBI had swept into this mountain-top solar observatory, complete with Black Hawk helicopters, evacuated everyone, and closed the place down with no explanation whatever. Local police were politely told to butt out. It was like the first scene in a 1950’s Hollywood sci-fi movie, probably starring Walter Pidgeon.

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The Unprincipled Boycott of Israel

The demands of the politicized life.

John Cheney-Lippold, an associate professor of American Culture at the University of Michigan, has been the subject of withering criticism of late, but I’m grateful to him. Yes, he shouldn’t have refused to write a recommendation for a student merely because the semester abroad program she was applying to was in Israel. But at least he exposed what the boycott movement is about, aspects of which I suspect some of its blither endorsers are unaware.

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The Low, Low Price of Serfdom

Nothing ventured.

Convenience, wrote Columbia University law professor Tim Wu, is a tyrant. It makes our lives easier and more enjoyable, but everything comes with a price tag. We may not recognize that which we are sacrificing in the pursuit of convenience, but we are sacrificing nonetheless.

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