Recent links of note:

“It Costs Taxpayers a Bundle, but Is It Art?”
Roger Kimball, The Wall Street Journal
As our own editor Roger Kimball notes in the opening sentence of his most recent editorial in the WSJ, “Conservative criticism of the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, like the poor according to Mark the Evangelist, is something we will have always with us.” Indeed, the two tax-payer–funded endowments consistently draw the ire of conservative would-be budget cutters, not only because many of the cultural initiatives they fund slant left, but because, ostensibly, the government shouldn’t be playing patron for our cultural life in the first place. As Kimball reports, organizations such as Open the Books have recently investigated and brought to light the kinds of waste typical of endowments such as these, a welcome development for the cause of fiscal transparency. Unfortunately, though Trump’s 2018 fiscal budget proposes slashing the NEA and the NEH (to great outcry from the mainstream artistic community), history suggests chances are low that even a Republican-controlled Congress will carry out this necessary action.
 

“Can Democrats Make Nice with Deplorables?”
Kay S. Hymowitz, City Journal
In short, probably not. Much ink has been spilled on the Democratic Party’s inability to connect with “ordinary” American voters, especially after the early June elections in Georgia, which fanned the flames of their electoral despair. Though headlines and front pages this week have been generally inundated with news regarding the current administration, a rare few liberals have taken a critical look inward, at the policies and attitudes that may have caused their current political disappointment. As Kay Hymowitz details in City Journal this week, certain prominent leftist thinkers have recently suggested that the Democratic Party reform its platform in an effort to win back an electoral majority—to promote, for instance, civic education, immigrant assimilation, and other “traditionalist” policy stances. Of course, doing so would infuriate the identity politics–driven radicals to which the Democratic party has inextricably tied itself, so don’t hold your breath waiting for any significant reform.
 

“Why I still love Henry David Thoreau’s ‘Walden’ ”
Ron Charles, The Washington Post
On a more light-hearted note, this Wednesday (July 12) was the bicentennial of Henry David Thoreau’s birth. Ron Charles, the fiction editor of The Washington Post, gives a short vignette into his personal relationship with Walden, the transcendentalist philosopher’s most famous and enduringly relevant book, from his first encounter as a student through his many years teaching it in high schools and colleges.
 

From our pages:

“What makes life worth living? Well, not Peter Singer”
Finnegan Schick