In Praise of Dead Presidents

Some impertinent fellows on the Internet have been calling George Bush the Keyser Söze of post-World War II America, referring to the character in the 1996 film The Usual Suspects who, while hiding in plain sight, had a hand in a vast number of spectacular crimes. George Bush pulled off a far more difficult trick—but he had more help, didn’t he?

Rejoining the Libertarian Party with the Mises Caucus

After seven years as an LP activist in Ohio, I decided to quit the party in 2017, but the emergence of the Mises Caucus has prompted me to rejoin. With “pragmatic” Libertarians gathering behind Bill Weld—who’s merely a more polite, more boring version of John McCain or Hillary Clinton—the Mises Caucus can, and I think will, help steer the LP back to its principled roots—but its members need to know what they’re getting into.

Sicario’s Deep-State Villain

One could make a case that, as Thanos, the Malthusian “Mad Titan” who obliterated half of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Josh Brolin has portrayed the most prolific villain in movie history. However, his turn as Matt Graver, the CIA “special activities” agent in Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018) and its far superior progenitor, Sicario (2015) is far more sinister simply because men who use that sort of power for evil, unlike Thanos, actually exist.

The Old Man and the Sea

A friend told me this week that he had just read Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and that it had disturbed him quite a bit. Purely by chance, I had also recently re-read it, for the first time since my college years. I think I know exactly where the Scribner Classics paperback version now sits in my parents’ home. I don’t think I fully understood it the first time, but this time, I found a lot of myself in it, and, unlike my friend, I found it heartening.

Libertarian Movie Review: The Post

The Post is the sort of movie you feel good for seeing—and that’s the trouble with it. Spielberg, as usual, lays in plenty of nostalgia—rotary pay phones, workplace smoking, and pencil-wielding editors feeding copy into pneumatic tubes to be typeset and printed on massive machines—are catnip for Baby Boomers who are now old enough to prattle about how things were so much better back in their day.

Yup, back in their day—in this case 1971— the press cared less about share prices and more about their sacred constitutional duty as the fourth estate. The Post exists to enshrine that conceit solidly in the narrative of the Age of Trump.

The Best Books I Read in 2017—and Two I Hated

Every year, I start with the goal of reading at least 52 books, and this year I made it—54 and counting as I publish this—even though one of them was Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, which seemed like it would never end—not that that bothered me at all. I’d have a hard time coming up with a novel this good that is both thouroughly Christian and thoroughly libertarian.

Compassion versus punishment in the War on Drugs

“I felt like I was doing God’s work, and then when it hit my own family I was in for an awakening,” says Kevin Simmers, a “veteran police officer.” He adds, “I believed wholheartedly that enforcement and incarceration was the answer to this, but then when addiction hit my own house I seen {sic} that that was not true…We need drug treatment, we gotta help the person.”