More Than Mildly Amusing.” I heartily second Elizabeth Bittner’s recommendation of Mr. Mehan’s Mildly Amusing Mythical Mammals; it’s a children’s book that rewards re-readings, and the glossary combines wit and wisdom.

How Republicans Hurt the Fight Against Abortion.” Writing for the New York Times, Gracy Olmstead argues for a wholistic pro-life ethic: “A consistent life ethic would urge pro-lifers to defend the vulnerable and voiceless, regardless of partisanship or ease. Being anti-abortion would mean being pro-earth. It would mean fighting waste, abuse and poverty. And it would convey a holistic care for life, both before and after birth.”

Towards a Pro-Worker, Pro-Family Conservatism.” J.D. Vance’s recent address at the American Conservative gala outlines a conservative politics that goes beyond mere libertarianism: “the tension that animates so much of my life and how I think about politics, is where does personal responsibility begin and where does responsibility of the broader community end?”

Michael Austin’s Enemies, and What He Says About Them.” Russell Arben Fox reviews We Must Not Be Enemies: Restoring America’s Civic Tradition and discusses the power and limits of civic friendship.

How Liberalism Loses: An Inflexible Agenda and a Global Retreat.” Ross Douthat surveys international and national politics to suggest that the liberal consensus remains embattled: “The fact that populism is flourishing internationally, far from the Electoral College and Fox News, suggests that Trump’s specific faults might actually be propping up American liberalism.”

The Books of College Libraries Are Turning Into Wallpaper.” Dan Cohen considers how we should think about the dramatic decline in the use of printed books in college libraries.

For Sarah Ruden and Emily Wilson Translating the Great Books is an Act of Love.” David Kern orchestrates a delightful conversation with two accomplished translators.

Michael Oakeshott and the Intellectual Roots of Postmodern Conservatism.” Matt McManus makes the case that Oakeshott’s work deserves more appreciation: “Oakeshott stressed the attractions of a traditionalist reason based on our commitments to a particular and historically engendered way of life.”

Wisconsin Dairy Farms: A Portrait of Loss.” Andrew Mollica uses some striking graphics to illustrate the rapid decline of Wisconsin dairy farms over the past five years.

Where the 2020 Presidential Candidates Stand on Food and Farming.” Civil Eats gives an overview on where each of the presidential candidates stands on agricultural issues.

‘American Soil’ Is Increasingly Foreign Owned.” Renee Wilde reports for NPR on foreign investors buying up US farmland.

America is an Empire, Not a Nation.” Matthew Walther calls into question an assumption that underlies recent debates about resurgent nationalism: is America even a nation?

In Defense of David French.” Michael Brendan Dougherty adjudicates on a column Sohrab Ahmari wrote criticizing the liberal conservativism of people like David French. One of Dougherty’s key points, I think, is correcting Ahmari’s reading of Trump’s presidency. As Dougherty claims, “Trump is a product of the culture’s obsession with personal autonomy that Ahmari decries.” David French’s own response is also worth reading. To my mind, this dispute reinforces the merits of Deneen’s conclusion in Why Liberalism Failed: rather than lay out some grand post-liberal politics, Deneen recommends communal, counter-liberal forms of life. The intellegentsia tends to invest too much energy in imagining what the ideal political order would look like; the New Testament is much more concerned with how we should live faithfully in the midst of the unjust political orders in which we find ourselves. As Matthew Loftus remarked on Twitter (in what I assume was a reference to this discussion): “everybody wants to be Charlemagne when what we really need is a few thousand more Dorothy Days.” A few Wendell Berrys might be in order too.

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture


  1. re: the WI dairy farm article, and following previous articles I’ve posted before:
    “The issue has exposed a deepening divide between an emboldened progressive movement in the state and Upstate New Yorkers who say that one-party rule in Albany increasingly infringes on their way of life.”
    There’s actually a lot for both sides to think on in here, and it’s clear that political “debate” today really is just regurgitated talking points that usually has nothing to do with reality.

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