Austin Bramwell writing for the The American Conservative questions the right's intellectual vibrancy now that it has reached an unprecedented pinnacle. Once a relatively small group of outsiders, conservatives in the west now find themselves controlling the House, the Senate, the White House, and large swaths of popular thought. This, Bramwell posits, is leading to a lethargy that is undermining one of the most innovative political movements of our time. Having won so much conservatives seem afraid to challenge the status quo:

Though every year the conservative movement raises thousands of aspiring intellectuals, they have no interest in creating a new intellectual synthesis. If they go into academia or the think-tank world, they contribute to research projects long under way; if they go into journalism, they defend an established editorial line. In blogosphere parlance, they become "instapundits", not philosophers.

Conservatives (still) strive for the "Holy Grail" of political philosophy, a doctrine that would prove, once and for all, the inherent limits of liberalism and the fundamental truths tharesonatete through the doctrines that drive conservative thought. Even though "the wisest conservatives know that the Grail reamains beyond their graspsps. Yet, like Arthurian knights of old, they never give up hope that it is there." However, this striving today resembles nothing so much as a self-congratulatory circle jerk.

Bramwell implies that the circular nature of life holds a near religious sway over political philosopy. A fact that is comforting and simultaneously disqueting, regardless of political leanings. The rise, and subsequent demise, of the left in the west offers a cautionary tale for the preminent political powers of today. Liberalism's reign began to erode shortly after the new deal.

Intellectual sclerosis, however, soon set in. Second-tier intellects such as Arthur Schlesinger and John Kenneth Galbraith took over from Lippmann and Dewey and began to take liberal ideology as a given. They proposed not new ways of understanding the world but new ways of advancing liberalism. In the hour of their triumph, liberals became blind to their own ideological shortcomings, which later became all too manifest.

A cautionary tale, perhaps, but there are notable thinkers still plying the trade on the right, he mentions three loosely defined groups:
The academics of the Critical Review, the so-called evolutionary conservatives, and techno-skeptic conservatives. All groups are unabashedly elitist, a description that is nothing less than an endearment.

This elitism, perhaps an electoral handicap, is an intellectual strength. Original thinking often flourishes under conditions of intellectual marginality. Unfortunately, the conservative movement, having discovered a mass audience, risks squandering the intellectual marginality that once made it so interesting and daring.

In future years, it may take a smaller, elite group of right-wingers to animate conservative ideas once more.

So while ThomasFrank et. al. ponder the problems of Kansas, perhaps liberals should find solace in that all seismic poli-intellectual movements plant the seeds of their destruction soon after their mosbountifulul harvest


A story of socialism that works. If nothing else, I agree with Kaiser's summary, we can learn from the educational component of Finnish society.


Is meth is the new crack? But rock, was it ever all it was cracked up to be?

Methamphetamines has grown into a cover-worthy epidemic.Newsweek chronicles the perils of “America’s Most Dangerous Drug”, complete with a photo essay and cringe-worthy anecdotes. While no one doubts the risks of ingesting potentially addictive substances, some are questioning the actual extent of the danger.

As Steve Suo, a writer for the Oregonian who has covered the meth explosion extensively opines:

Media coverage of the issue too often has been laden with generalizations, hyperbole and sensational images. Reporters, with rare exception, have been slow to challenge the conventional wisdom handed to them by purported experts on the topic.

Others have questioned the methodology and numbers (or lack thereof) that have driven much of the media’s breathless coverage of the issue.

For all Newsweek's hysteria, it fails to deliver. For instance, if meth is America's most dangerous drug, how many people has it killed? Newsweek doesn't bother to explore the topic, perhaps because it's so hard to pin down. In 2000, Oahu recorded 35 deaths, Phoenix 105, and Los Angeles 155. Meanwhile, New York City recorded only three that year, while Long Island claimed 38. According to Fred Leavitt's 1982 book, Drugs & Behavior, about one usage in 2 million ends in a fatality. If meth is really the most dangerous drug, you'd think the magazine would have provided some sort of body count

Larger questions about the role of drugs in America, public policy related to treatment and/or prosecution of drug user, and perhaps most importantly, the media’s responsibility to the public’s trust are brought up by a story that seems to reappear like clockwork, every decade. So is meth the new crack? And should we care?
When it's third and ten, you can take the milk drinkers and I'll take the whiskey drinkers every time.- Max McGee

The biggest sport in America is about to return and football fans are ready. Before us armchair prognosticators make our picks about which team can possibly hold back the dawning juggernaut that is the Patriots, it's worth looking back at an eventful pre-season.

Receivers are always quote and note-worthy, and this summer is no different. The biggest off-season story is the maelstrom that swirls around uber-grabber Terrell Owens. Less than a year after pulling a Willis Reed and valiantly leading the Eagles to 1st runner-up status, the goodwill he earned has all been engulfed by his battles with Philadelphiaa teammates and coaches. While not making the media circuit with new agent Drew Rosenhaus, or busting out those freaky-ripped abs in his driveway, TO spent this summer trying to figure out a way to renege on the second year of a seven year contract. The City of Brotherly Love was not amused. All may be forgiven if McNabb and TO can produce (akward silence and all) like they did in their first pre-season game together.

Not to be out done, brand new Oakland Raider Randy Moss admitted that, yeah, he's toked the green bud a few times. Not an earthshaking revelation if he wasn't employed by a league mired in the mid-20th century, and he's had a ahem past with pot.

Infinitely more serious is the situation at the 49er's camp. While #1 overall pick Alex Smith struggled to learn the QB position in the big leagues, his teammate from Utah, and fellow Niner rookie Thomas Herrion showed how fleeting it all can be. Shortly following a preseason game Herrion collapsed and died. An autopsy was inconclusive but pundits have speculated that Herrion's 300+ pounds and the incredible rigors of playing football in the NFL led to his death. Herrion's passing was a stunning reminder that we (should) play and watch games to embrace life, not replace it.

Regardless of New England's recent run, the NFL is still a league beset by parity, so make your picks now. After all, since some of the smart money is picking the Cardinals to be this year's Chargers, we definitely know anything is possible.
I'm back all.

Thank you all for your kinds words and wishes...