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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Airline Travel, Regulation, and The Disappearing Middle Class

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Since the events of United 3411 numerous stories have appeared in the press about fresh incidents of airline “mistreatment” of passengers.  Most of them strike me as pretty routine stuff, but now it is getting coverage because United 3411 has everyone reading stories about this stuff.  Therefore I will not link to any of it.  A good bit of the remainder is passenger hypersensitivity in the wake of the United 3411 incident and coverage.  But regardless, I think some observations are in order.

For the record, I am a moderate air traveler.  I am on airplanes far more frequently than most people, but far less frequently than a serious air traveler like Hewitt.  I average about one trip by air a month and have for many years.  Usually just an out and back, not a lot of hopping around although that does happen once or twice a year.  In all that air travel I have never seen a confrontation turn physical in any fashion, but I have seen a lot of confrontation.  In all the confrontations I have witnessed at least 30% of them involved the over consumption of alcohol on the part of the passenger or passengers involved.  All of the confrontations I have witnessed – I repeat all of them – have involved passengers with expectations way out of line with what they were paying for and/or what regulation allowed.  I guess because most people do not travel by air that often they just don’t realize that unless you are willing to pay for it, there is nothing luxurious, or even really comfortable, about air travel.  All those super cheap fares you see ads for have turned air travel, at least in the back of the plane, into little more than fast bus service.  And there is not much, really, the airlines can do about it.

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Christians Are Not Manufactured, They Are Crafted

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This Thursday just past I wrote about my perception that a deep sadness underlies the snarkiness that defines many people these days and bemoaned the church’s inability to minister into that sadness.  When contemplating possible responses I suggested a couple of approaches and said, “It is probably some of each and highly individualized.”  As is typical for me, I am making a case that while the US is not a “Christian nation,” it is based on any number of Christian principles and if people of faith are not actively a part of its operation it will not function well.  Our democracy demands people of a particular character to be at its best, and while that character need not be theologically Christian, it is the character that Christianity prescribes.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day, thus I find myself in reasonable, if not whole, agreement with Pat Buchanan’s column this week.  Buchanan wonders, “Is Democracy in a Death Spiral?,” and while he manages to sound somewhat bigoted in his discussion he makes a valid point when he says:

In Federalist No. 2, John Jay called us a “band of brethren” and “one united people” who shared the same …, religion, principles, manners, customs.

and concludes:

Democracy requires common ground on which all can stand, but that ground is sinking beneath our feet, and democracy may be going down the sinkhole with it.

The nations failure is in many ways Christianity’s failure.  Our government, by design, is not the keeper of principles, manners and customs – that job was left to other institutions in our national design.  Thus those institutions bear as much responsibility for what we are seeing as anything else.

If we are going to repair our democracy we must not repair simply the government, but also those other institutions.  I am beginning to think that one of the places the church has gone wrong is in its failure to recognize that the answers are usually “highly individualized.”  Hence the title of this post,”Christians are not manufactured, they are crafted.”

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Tensions Rise Over North Korea

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The latest edition of the Townhall Review program is available here and you can podcast it here. Yours truly is the host.

This week – I interview Admiral James Stavridis about the tensions on the Korean peninsula, Mike Gallagher talks with Fox News’s Pete Hegseth about Trump’s foreign policy, Attorney Peter Kirsanow on the Larry Elder Show explains how illegal immigration hurts the African American community, and Alec Ryrie–author of “Protestants: The Faith That Made the Modern World”– is on with Dennis Prager. All this and more…

The Sadness Behind The Snark

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Way back last September, before Hillary Clinton had completely blown the election Ross Douthat wrote of her “Samantha Bee Problem:”

On late-night television, it was once understood that David Letterman was beloved by coastal liberals and Jay Leno more of a Middle American taste. But neither man was prone to delivering hectoring monologues in the style of the “Daily Show” alums who now dominate late night. Fallon’s apolitical shtick increasingly makes him an outlier among his peers, many of whom are less comics than propagandists — liberal “explanatory journalists” with laugh lines.

Apparently the Left is starting to see the wisdom of what Douthat was saying.  The Atlantic has a piece in its May issue that makes essentially the same point, but there is one major difference.  The Atlantic piece is so biting in its tone that one cannot help but wonder if the author was reaching for irony or cannot really tell the difference between their biting tone and the snarky smugness of those they wish to correct.  That set me wondering about the Left’s oft-mentioned inability to do any sort of self-examination.  Moreover, anybody in the working world knows that among young people and the left-leaning generally there is a huge problem with criticism – they don’t hear it, they won’t accept it, and offering it in even the gentlest of terms turns you into some sort of monster.  They don’t just have a problem with self-examination, they have a problem with being examined at all.

Into this thought stream stepped a very profane piece from The Onion in which the author describes his inability to learn any lessons from his recent bout with cancer.  I believe the author is attempting to use the satirical tone of The Onion to point out that in modern times cancer is not always that big a deal and is often no longer life threatening, but in the effort he simply sounds angry and mean – mean towards those whose cancer is a big deal either emotionally or physically.  Moreover, he betrays a personal effort to gloss over (i.e. not engage in self-examination) the most frightening diagnosis anyone can hear, even if things turn out well in the end.

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