Magazine | January 25, 2016, Issue

Sweet ’16

This will be a year of great portent. Our nation seems joined in an epic arm-wrestling match to determine what our institutions, norms, and pronouns will look like for the next generation, and I’m pretty sure this is what it was like to live in the ’60s before it was The Sixties.

We also have a chancellor imperator darth president to pick. In 1968, the “silent majority” elected Richard Milhous Nixon. In 2016, there is a non-zero chance we’ll elect a 70-year-old man with his own line of luxury meats.

In other words, fear not, Rich Lowry, there is plenty of time for me to write my usual dread-fueled cogitations on decline. (“You know it’s called ‘Happy Warrior,’ right, Dan?” — Jonah’s Couch) 

But for now, I thought it’d be fun to share with you some of my New Year resolutions.

Watch more college football. It’s hard for me to get really into college football unless I’m watching it with my bookie. That’s because my almae matres are the utterly pigskinless George Washington, New York, and Oxford universities — nary a man at any could execute a competent nickel blitz. I have long rooted for Notre Dame out of tribal Catholic affinity and a deep love for the films of Sean Astin, but I never really got emotionally involved in the way I am with my accursed Jets and the NFL. And yet I very much enjoyed bowl season this year and find the playoff structure more compelling than the previous BCS iterations. There are still way too many bowl games, though. As the Bard of Avon wrote:

And gentlemen in England now a-bed

Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us at the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus


Stop following Neil deGrasse Tyson on Twitter. You’ve all read Charlie Cooke’s genre pieces on this astrophysicist-slash-worst-guy-at-the-Christmas-party, right? Exhibit 297-B of why everyone hates him is this stale, hair-covered sticky bun of a tweet from New Year’s Eve: “To all those who reckon time on the Gregorian Calendar – Happy New Year! (FYI: January 1 is astronomically insignificant.)”

You’re astronomically insignificant, Neil!

Actually, this tweet reveals something more than Tyson’s commitment to being That Guy. For one thing, it’s a category error. To say that a date is astronomically insignificant misses the point about the sort of thing a date is. January 1 is deeply significant to all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons, and this habit of subordinating whole magisteria of human experience and invention to a positivism as joyless as it is austere reveals the very limited utility of scientism as a worldview. It’s also just dumb. There’s nothing mathematically significant about the base-10 number system and nothing linguistically significant about the letter “A,” either, but hey, you gotta start somewhere. In fact, science is festooned with measurements and methodologies that begin with essentially arbitrary decisions but that nevertheless give us the intersubjective vocabulary necessary to render the natural world sensible.

And, seriously, just don’t be That Guy.

Get a handgun. This one’s tricky. See, I, like many other Americans, watched the president’s teary-eyed announcement of new imperial action on “gun control” and wondered in the back of my mind whether I had better get strapped while the getting strapped is good. The trick is that, for reasons that have never been made clear, I live in the District of Columbia. And here, the Second Amendment effectively doesn’t exist. In fact, when I ordered a cheapo rubber-BB gun in the style of a Colt 1911 as part of my award-winning Walter Sobchak–from–The Big Lebowski Halloween costume, Amazon informed me that they could not ship this bauble to my D.C. address. Whereupon I found out it is straight up illegal here. And a good thing, too. Once they passed the air-pistol ban, things finally turned around for This Town, I tell you.

Oh, but yes, the Obama presser. The president had this hoot of a line during it: “This is not that complicated. The reason Congress blocks laws is they want to win elections.” Well, if that don’t beat all! These yellow-bellies are voting their districts!

It did call to mind the stark differences between the legal apparatuses around gun rights and those around abortion. Abortion is decidedly not an enumerated right; gun ownership decidedly is (with debates over semantics, to be sure). And yet on abortion the federal government takes its post-incorporation duties seriously, protecting and expanding access to a “right” that states would otherwise restrict, while on gun rights the federal government has, especially in recent years, been in the business of restricting a right that the states would otherwise like to protect. This is true of the executive, and true even of the judiciary in the sense that D.C. and Chicago’s defiance of Heller and other decisions continues unabated.

It seems to me that a central government in the business of imposing “rights” hidden in “emanating penumbras” and restricting rights spelled out in plain English is rotting from the core and cannot be long –

Oh, right, Happy Warrior.

I also want to finally try kale!

Mr. Foster is a political consultant and a former news editor of National Review Online.

Daniel FosterDaniel Foster is a former news editor of National Review Online.

In This Issue


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What Trump Sees

The French writer Charles Péguy once said that “one must always say what one sees. Above all, which is more difficult, one must always see what one sees.” While it may ...
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End Corporate Welfare

A campaign against business subsidies — conservative warfare on corporate welfare — would present Republicans with an easy win: What other issue would energize free-market conservatives while stoking the sympathies ...
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School of Rock

The heavy-metal band Iron Maiden often starts its concerts or encores with a short lesson in history and rhetoric. As fans watch jumbo screens fill with black-and-white images of aerial ...


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The Good Fight

One subplot of the Republican presidential-nomination battle has been an increasingly vicious and personal contest between two first-term senators, both of Cuban descent and separated by just a few months ...

Books, Arts & Manners

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The Causes of Wealth

One of the more striking public-health developments of the post-war era has been the rise in the number of Americans suffering from cardiovascular disease, particularly in the states of the ...
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   To the man-in-the-street, who, I’m sorry to say, Is a keen observer of life, The word intellectual suggests right away A man who’s untrue to his wife. W. H. Auden could well have carried ...
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Terrible Beauty

Leonardo DiCaprio is 40. Let that sink in. No, it’s even worse than that: He’s 41. Yet the cheeks are still smooth, the boyishness still palpable, the eternal youthfulness still a ...


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Women in War As an Army infantry officer with some combat experience, I wholeheartedly agree with David French (“Social Justice at War,” October 5) that arbitrarily declaring that women will serve ...
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The Week

‐ Trump is wrong: Cruz is a natural-born citizen. But at least Trump is consistent about wanting to stop foreigners from taking jobs from low-skilled Americans. ‐ “If Hillary thinks she ...
The Long View

Memorandum of Understanding

FROM: Donald J. Trump, President and CEO of the United States of America TO: [Name$tring, Lastname, Firstname,] DATE: [Date$tring mm/dd/yyyy] To the Taxpayer: Many thanks for your recent vote selecting me to be ...
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LEAVES: THREE TANKAS Fall comes. He watches Their dying flames fill the eaves And ground their splotches In slow-browning, flattened sheaves: Loss over which no one grieves. * Their coming down makes The ground a cereal bowl Of brown. ...
Happy Warrior

Sweet ’16

This will be a year of great portent. Our nation seems joined in an epic arm-wrestling match to determine what our institutions, norms, and pronouns will look like for the ...

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