History will repay your love. You don’t have to be a jerk.

Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1973), Republican U.S. Senator from Maine from 1949 until her death and the subject of numerous biographies.

Peggy Noonan’s column in the Wall Street Journal this weekend, “Why History Will Repay Your Love” (sorry–paywalled!) is an extended advertisement for David McCullough’s latest book, and only secondarily an advertisement for McCullough’s totally original observations about history and its importance. (Get this! John Adams and Thomas Jefferson lived in their present, not our past!  Also, “nothing had to happen the way it happened,” and “knowing history will make you a better person.”)

I pretty much agree with all of McCullough’s bromides, but this one set off my B.S. detector:

We make more of the wicked than the great.  The most-written about senator of the 20th century is Joe McCarthy.  “Yet there is no biography of the Senator who had the backbone to stand up to him first–Margaret Chase Smith,” a Maine Republican who served for 24 years,

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Life in these United States: shotgun wedding edition.

Seen in Slate‘s “Dear Prudence” column this week:

Q. Guns at a wedding: We hope my brother-in-law will attend our daughter’s wedding, but we fear that he will bring his handgun. He recently commented on social media that he will “never go anywhere without my gun on my person.” The invitations were sent before this comment was made. He has said that he plans to attend the wedding. (The wedding will be out of town, both for us and for my BIL, and is being held at a city park.) Should my husband speak to him? Should we write him a letter expressing our hope that he is present, but that his gun is not welcome? His sister has offered to talk with him as she, too, does not want him to bring a gun. She visited him recently and observed that even when attending his small, rural church he carries his gun at his waist in an unsecured holster. He’s just one of those people who doesn’t want anyone touching his guns. We really don’t want the presence of a gun to spoil our daughter’s wedding!

Who is this nutty uncle?  (Could he possibly be the infamous “Florida Man?”)  PRO TIP:  If you don’t want “anyone touching [your] guns,” keeping them unloaded and locked in a safe is the best way to keep them out of other people’s reach.  Walking around with a sidearm only puts your weapon within reach of other people.

What do you think Prudence will say to these haters of the Second Amendment?  Go back to Mexico Afghanistan Iraq Egypt Saudi Arabia Iran if you don’t like our freedoms!  How dare you try to impose your weak, liberal values on me?  I refuse to be a victim!  This wedding protected by Smith & Wesson! Continue reading

Payback time.

Esther Boardman by Ralph Earl, 1789, Metropolitan Museum of Art, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

My promotion to Professor isn’t official yet, but I’ve already received an invitation to review someone else’s materials for promotion to Professor.

Given all of the extremely nice things I’ve heard that my outside reviewers said about my latest book and career overall, I suppose it’s time to pay it forward.  I thought I’d get at least a year’s grace! I thought I’d have to have changed my faculty profile page, but maybe good news travels nearly as fast as bad news.

(I’m pretty sure that it was one of my referees who sent in my name as a potential reviewer.)

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You cursed brats, look what you’ve done! Or, why does the Wall Street Journal hate America?

The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal is at it again this weekend.  Hilariously, the ed board and many of its readers honestly believe that the fate of the republic rests on a few undergraduate students at Berkeley, UCLA, Middlebury and Wellesley Colleges just shutting up.

In a column putatively against the “soft totalitarianism” of “student thuggery against non-leftist viewpoints,” Heather Mac Donald drops the veil of her allegedly principled stand against “campus intolerance” by–wait for it!–complaining that students published articles in campus newspapers and made comments on Facebook that she doesn’t like.

Go ahead:  read that again.   And tell me who is it who’s really the special snowflake here:  the woman with WSJ editorial page real estate, or the writers for college newspapers?  This is a woman who is monitoring and complaining about the Facebook pages of undergraduate students whose politics she dislikes.  No member of the East German Stasi or Cultural Revolutionary could outdo comrade Mac Donald for her dedication to eradicating decadence and ideological impurities among our young people.

Here’s a catalog of MacDonald’s hatred of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in her own words.  She’s clearly hostile to the expression of any ideas on any college campus anywhere with which she disagrees: Continue reading

Smell ya later, Philadelphia!

Philadelphia, 10th and Spruce Streets, April 15, 2017

I just spent 22 hours in Philadelphia this weekend, and I have to say that I was charmed by its persistent Philly-ness. It still is, and may always be, the Philadelphia that I loved and left nearly 25 years ago.  At the time, I was thrilled to get out, but on my brief visit I was even charmed by some of the nastier details of life in the city.

I’m sure it’s because I no longer have to live there, and because I was on a high from my visit to give a book talk and meet students at Bryn Mawr College, my alma mater, but I was charmed by the somatic and sensory aspects of city life that I recognized instantly.
First, there’s the cigarette smoke on the street–surprisingly, that hasn’t changed in 25 years.  (My hotel room also had a faint trace of cigarette smoke–that was less charming, but I’m kind of a bloodhound when it comes to my powers of smell detection and analysis.)  Even the pee and vomit scents I detected in the daylight hours at many turns inspired nostalgia, probably because those aren’t smells I run into all that often in my life in Colorado. Continue reading