Jacob Jefferson Jakes

Edmund Burke, Anita Hill, and the Common Core

Anita Hill is in the news again. A documentary has been released of her life before, during, and after her 1991 congressional testimony during the hearings on Clarence Thomas’ appointment to the Supreme Court. Our conversation has changed over the past 23 years since Anita Hill leveled charges of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas on national TV. There are more laws targeting sexual harassment in the workplace, and companies are providing more training to avoid sexual harassment. But change comes slowly, as we know from recent incidents in the military and the academies, and continuing streams of accusations elsewhere.

Adrionna Harris and the Ajax Dilemma

Adrionna Harris, a sixth-grade student, came across a student at her school who was cutting his arm. She intervened, took the razor from the student and threw it away, then reported the incident to school authorities. For which action she was suspended and recommended for expulsion for violating the school’s zero tolerance policy on having weapons at school (a decision since reconsidered in the wake of the reaction against it).

Our Heroes From the Past Have Let Us Down

George Kennan “laments the decline of people ‘of British origin, from whose forefathers the constitutional structure and political ideals of the early America once emerged.’” So quotes Fareed Zakaria in the New York Times Book Review from The Kennan Diaries, himself lamenting Kennan’s racism. “Americans are destined to ‘melt into a vast polyglot mass, . . . one huge pool of indistinguishable mediocrity and drabness.’ Reader Joseph S. Harrington’s response noted the “startling contrast between the elegant moralism of his analysis of international affairs and his dismissive elitism and retrograde attitudes toward race.”

The Reign in Ukraine

The Ukrainian government has fallen apart, the president has fled, and the parliament has taken on the responsibility of governing. What gives them that right?
Parliament voted on Friday to oust President Viktor Yanukovych, who then appeared on TV and branded the events a coup and refused to step down. The president had agreed to a series of concessions which included reverting to an earlier constitution and stripping him of some powers, but he never signed the decree. Parliament then voted on Friday to return to the 10-year-old constitution anyway, one which granted the parliament greater powers than the one under which Yanukovych ruled as president. 

What Riles the Left Like Abortion and Gay Marriage Riles the Right?

The Supreme Court will decide in the Hobby Lobby case whether a business can be released from adherence to the law based on the religious convictions of its owner. The governor of Arizona will sign or veto a law which gives businesses the right to discriminate against gay individuals if they do so to prevent violating their own religious convictions. The liberals are upset that businesses might be allowed to impose their conservative beliefs on their employees or customers. In the case of Hobby Lobby, federal law mandates that businesses provide health coverage to their employees and with it contraception coverage which also must include access to morning after contraceptives that some consider to be abortifacients. Can a business owner be exempt from the law, infringing on the rights of its employees to services the law provides, in the name of his own religious rights? In the Arizona case, and in other states considering similar laws, a business owner could refuse to serve people who do not adhere to the standards of behavior and belief that his religion demands.

Group Animosity and America's Melting Pot

They tell a joke on the Russian mindset. Every night Boris prays before going to bed, "God, it's not fair that Ivan has a goat and I don't." One night, Boris hears a booming voice from above, "Boris, I have granted your wish." Boris replies, "You've killed Ivan's goat!?"

Hobby Lobby, Duck Dynasty, and Natural Law

Hobby Lobby is a privately-held corporation owned by David Green, who founded it in 1972 and operates it according to biblical principles. He attends the Council Road Baptist Church in Bethany, Oklahoma.

The Four Most Important Clauses in the Constitution

Does the Modern State Require Strong Government?

I've been reading Mark David Ledbetter, America's Forgotten History, Part 1: Foundations. He makes a reasoned case for a libertarian view of the benefits of weak government in a more strict adherence to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers. He discusses the efficacy of the state militias in winning the Revolutionary War, and argues that the strong government that Hamilton favored was based on a mercantilist view of economics which required a strong government, but that this mercantilist view has long been superceded by capitalism of one variety or the other. Nonetheless, he laments, the Hamiltonian view of a strong central government, and with it cycles of recession, debt, and limitations on freedom has prevailed in the 20th and now 21st centuries. Ledbetter maintains that our prosperity and liberty would be better served by returning to the limited government as envisioned by the creators of the Constitution.

Democracy and Capitalism in Adam Smith's Mutual Sympathy and Sociability

I continue to slowly wend my way through Adam Smith, both The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations, with the help of James R. Otteson (Adam Smith's Marketplace of Life) and Ryan Patrick Hanley (Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue). I'm finding it fascinating that Adam Smith's views on human psychology, as it impacts morality, seem so modern. About a quarter of the way through his book, Otteson summarizes Smith's psychology of morality. There are two features which describe Smith's views, the notion of mutual sympathy; and sociability, the idea that humans are made to live in society.


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