This past weekend, as the victors of the Ames Straw Poll were being determined in Iowa, Texas governor Rick Perry declared his candidacy for the presidency. The talking heads of “conservative” talk radio and elsewhere were giddy with excitement. For more than one reason, I, for one, do not share their enthusiasm.

The developments that have taken place in the 17 years that have passed since the death of Dr. Russell Kirk (1918-1994) have demonstrated the enduring significance of the writings of one of the pivotal thinkers of 20th century American conservatism. The American body politic seems mortally ill, and many of the current crop of “conservative” writers are utterly incapable of addressing the actual needs of these United States with even a fraction of the wisdom that Kirk readily displayed throughout his long career. The Intercollegiate Institute’s 2006 collection of Kirk’s essays, The Essential Russell Kirk, offered a new generation of conservatives an opportunity to encounter a broad range of his scholarship. Now, a second edition of Charles C. Brown’s Russell Kirk — A Bibliography, will further aid in the study of the writes of the “Sage of Mecosta.”

While many are complaining about the recent debt-ceiling deal, is it really the issue? Sure, statists say that the Republicans steered us toward crisis with their initial unwillingness to compromise, while traditionalists complain that the GOP folded and “let us down again.” Our problems, however, lie not in our politicians but in ourselves.

Recently, Al Gore was permitted an opportunity to indulge his obsession with “global warming” at the Aspen Institute, and the former Vice President had some rather choice words for critics of his anthropogenic conception of “climate change.”

Kathryn Stockett could not have written The Help 50 years ago. Which is the point of the story. But the Jackson, Mississippi, native has joined Margaret Mitchell, Harper Lee, Donna Tartt, and a few others on the list of Southern women writers whose first, and sometimes only, novels have become instant bestsellers. Perhaps because the American South is unique in its culture and history, it continues providing fodder for great stories. Stockett’s 2009 debut novel has spent 116 weeks on the USA Today bestseller list and before the manuscript was even completed, the author’s lifelong friend Tate Taylor snagged it to make into a movie. Taylor served as the film’s director, guiding it to completion almost as true to a book as a movie can get.