Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

A Liberal View’s House Races

The Nation runs an article on five House races in five states (Arizona, South Dakota, Illinois, Georgia, and Maine) claiming that these Democratic candidates have a chance because they are running on liberal issues and themes.

Saudi Financing of Terrorists

The Council on Foreign Relations released a study showing that the Saudi government has been turning a blind eye to the problem that many wealthy Saudis have been funding al Qaeda. O.K., we’re surprised. Here is the full report.

The North Korean Threat

The Bush administration seems to be recovering from a serious momentary lapse in its reaction to North Korea. It has called upon the world to institute a technology trade embargo on the rogue state because of its clandestine and illegal program of nuclear arms development. A high level diplomatic mission, including assistant secretaries of state John Bolton and James Kelly are travelling from China to South Korea, Russia, and Japan to discuss the situation. President Bush is going the raise the Issue with Chinese President Jiang Zemin next week in Texas. It will also be on the agenda between Bush and the leaders of Japan and South Korea when they meet in Mexico in two weeks for the Asian Pacific Economic Summit

It is good that the government is picking up the momentum. Immediately after the news broke of the revelation of the North Korean nuclear program, the administration seemed to treat with a diplomatic shrug. By doing so, it was in danger of weakening its rhetorical case against Iraq. Fearing to seem to be over-reacting, the administration instead under-reacted to the news of the new North Korean nuclear threat. On the surface at least, it made the nuclear threat posed by Saddam Hussein seem not so unique.

The government was right not to want to look like a cowboy intent on shooting up any local bully that gains an overly big stick. But by not calling the North Korean program what it is—a serious destabilizing threat to the North Pacific—it made unilateral action against Saddam Hussein look that much less imperative.

It would have been better had the administration had been consistent in the principles it has enunciated ever since George W. Bush took office.

Point one: Appeasement never works. The attempt to buy off an aggressive ideological regime like Iraq or North Korea will always fail. The UN’s policy of appeasement of the last ten years failed in Iraq, and the Clinton policy of appeasement of the 1990s has also failed with North Korea.

Point two: North Korea violated an international agreement. It lied. It has shown itself to be a danger to the region.

Point three: Nuclear non-proliferation used to be the number one foreign policy goal of the left, of Europe, of the United Nations, and of the Third World. All nations and parties should now join in condemning the North Korean action and in demanding that they give up their program and turn over their fissionable materials to the international community.

Point four: Because of Saddam Hussein’s previous record in war-making and his penchant for slaughtering civilians, and because of his stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, he is a clear and present threat to the nations of the region and to thousands of innocents here and abroad.

Point five: Though the North Korean program is a serious threat, it does not constitute an immediate danger of causing a regional holocaust.

Point six: The United States regards the North Korean action as a grave threat to the long term stability of the North Pacific. Consequently, we should send a high level delegation to our allies in the area, particularly to the Republic of Korea and Japan, in order to discuss a joint response to the new serious state of affairs North Korea has brought about.

Point seven: Iraq and North Korea have vastly differing capabilities in weapons of mass destruction. But in this they are the same: They both must be disarmed of those destructive capabilities.

George W. Bush once included North Korea in "the axis of evil." He has been proven right. He must make good on his own prediction. Margaret Thatcher told another George: "Now don’t go all wobbly." Our credibility regarding Iraq will only be strengthened if we treat North Korea with firmness, albeit with the military option necessarily further down the list than it needs to be in relation to Saddam Hussein.

Is the CIA Intelligent?

I posted an article on intelligence yesterday by Herbert Meyer, and a reader had this response:

Does Meyer think that any agency tries not to hire the smartest people it can find? If we were on a war footing and everyone had to go into the military, then some very bright people might prefer the CIA. That is not the situation we are in. Besides, the OSS was not that great a success, and the OSS role in analysis, what Meyer is talking about, was negligible. Also, if you have a hypothesis, that controls what you see. In a laboratory that is fine because you can run controlled experiments and test your hypothesis. Outside the laboratory you cannot or almost never can. There is no way to refute a firmly held hypothesis with intelligence. What we know is ambiguous and you can always find something to encourage you in thinking that your hypothesis is right. Trying new ideas is fine and needs to be done. But there is a counter-example to the one that Meyer cites. Casey refused to believe that the Soviet Union was doing as little as his analysts said they were to support terrorism. He made them rewrite the report several times. He finally got something closer to what he wanted but the Soviets were not doing what he thought they were doing and the way he thought they were doing it. His hypothesis was wrong but he would not let it go. Finally, is the CIA a bureaucracy or not? If it is and must be then how will this work with Meyer’s idea? In other words he seems to argue that there must not be brillant people in CIA because they did not get 9-11 right. But maybe there are brillant people there but they did not get it right because in a bureaucracy brillance does not always win. How does Meyer imagine we will organize ourselves if we do not do it bureaucratically?

Sniping about Snipers

Living inside the Beltway in suburban Virginia, where filling up the gas tank has come to be seen as an act of courage, the news today that a witness to the latest shooting apparently made up the whole story about an AK-74 rifle (the kind you’d practice with in a Middle Eastern terrorist training camp) and a cream-colored van has added to the state of confusion and bewilderment.

The related news story of Friday afternoon got: The U.S. is questioning Al Queda prisoners at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay to find out what they may know about the DC-area sniper. That, coupled with the unusual news yesterday that the Pentagon is assisting in the search for the sniper, lends credence to the suspicion that this may indeed be a terrorist act.

My guess is that it is going to turn out to be some nut, like most serial killers. Serial killers are notoriously difficult to catch, and most are caught not from high tech detective work, but rather from a lucky break. And I comfort myself at the gas station by keeping in mind that the odds of being struck by this creepo are about the same as winning the lottery, and less than the odds of being hurt or killed driving in my car to the gas station. I don’t know anyone who’s ever won the lottery; I have had two very slight acquaintances who were murdered, but known several people killed in car crashes.

Yet the DC sniper doesn’t seem like most serial killers. There is no such thing as a "typical" serial killer, but most of them seem to space out their killings over regular intervals, and most act alone. Most seek out an identifiable class of victims (Dahmer went for homosexual men; Wayne Williams after black children in poor Atlanta neighborhoods; John Wayne Gacy, childen; the Green River Killer, prostitutes, and so forth). The sniper, if he or she is indeed a single individual, is less predictable.

Then, too, one should keep in mind that immediately after President Bush named the "axis of evil" in January, Speaker Rafsanjani of Iran said that Iran would respond "in the heartland of America." Many have been the predictions that Palestinian-style suicide bombings would eventually come to American streets, but it is difficult to obtain or smuggle C-4 explosive in the U.S. Just as the Sept. 11 hijackers used our own planes as weapons against us, it would be far easier to use guns and ammo readily available here to instigate terror. Random sniped is in obvious ways more effective than bombing.

So even if the DC sniper turns out to be merely the latest in a string of home-grown nut cases, this episode should serve as a wake-up call for what might be possible in the future. Surely the terrorist sleeper cells we suspect are present in our midst can watch CNN too.

Sniper Training?

It is being reported that an al Qaeda bad guy in Belgium told us that al Qaeda has been training snipers . We are looking into it. Is this why the Defense Department got involved in the Washington D.C. area sniper case?

Cowboy

I enjoyed writing a short essay called "Cowboy" for the current issue of On Principle and it turns out that today’s Washington Times used part of it on it’s Culture section, with a good shot of John Wayne (not offered with the online edition).

Iraq War and Israel

This is an important article on our apparent agreement with Israel regarding Iraq: our invasion of Iraq will be based on preventing an attack against Israel. This has wide implications; trying to keep Israel out of the war and on how we will conduct (and start) the war. There is reason to think it will work.

More than One Fiend at a Time

A couple of things must be said about the revelations of the North Korean nukes. First, everyone should go back to 1994 and reconstruct what really happened with the much touted agreement that would give them oil and recognition if they stopped their nuclear program. Also, we ought to recollect all the good guys’ warnings about such an agreement, including McCain’s. Second, we ought to think deeply about why the North Koreans would willingly reveal their chicanery now instead of tomorrow. This is an interesting question that may be related to our war on terror and Iraq. The possibility that it is a threat that is tied to our war efforts in some way shouldn’t be discounted. Third, judging by the stupid way the media has been pressing the administration on Korea (example, "You are going to attack Iraq because it may be building nukes, why don’t you attack North Korea, which already has nukes?"), North Korea’s action may already be having an effect that is meant to confuse our deliberations on the terror war and Iraq. Is this part of their purpose? That this proves --as if further proof were needed--that we are in the middle of a high stakes game is a massive fact that will soon be noticed by everyone. Many mettles will be tested. It seems that it is always more than one fiend at a time. Today’s New York Times notes the Pakistan-North Korea connection. And the Washington Post tries to recount how we followed the aluminum. This is an AP review of the various statements (Condi Rice’s, for example) from the administration, also noting some of the diplomatic initiatives under way.

U.N. Negotiations on Iraq

The only thing that seems clear is that we may be at a crucial stage in our negotiations with the recalcitrant Security Council members (France, China, Russia). This Washington Post story outlines the issues and the way it is starting to work itself out. There are great dangers here, as Charles Krauthammer points out. I am still of the opinion that the administration knows what it’s doing. Powell is holding tough. I don’t think I would like sitting across the table trying to negotiate with him when I knew that his mind was so settled.

Intelligent Intelligence

It shouldn’t shock anyone if I say that the most important element--more important than ever--in our current war is our ability to gather, understand, and use intelligence. Everything depends on this. Herbert E. Meyer writes thoughtfully on this. If you disagree, I sure would like to hear from you.

Appeasing Terrorists

Mark Steyn writes about the Indonesia attack and thereby has the opportunity to beat up on the appeasers, especially the Australian ones. Great article. Deeply moving.

Lautenberg Misfires

The DSCC is running a new ad in favor of Lautenberg, in which they attack Forrester’s position on gun control. After mentioning that 51 New Jersey children die every year from gun violence, the ad offers the following:

"Forrester actually said ’It isn’t any of my business whether my neighbor likes to shoot semi-automatic weapons or not.’Really? tell Doug Forrester his opposition to sensible gun laws is dangerous for New Jersey"

This statement seems to play on the common confusion among Americans between what is a semi-automatic and what is an automatic weapon. Of course, a semi-automatic is just a gun with a clip which can only fire one bullet per pull of the trigger. While such guns ordinarily can hold more bullets than a revolver, they are similar in the rate of fire (once again, one bullet per trigger pull). Automatic weapons, by contrast, are capable of firing multiple bullets per pull of the trigger, and, this is the important part, have been illegal since the 30s.

When taken in perspective, Forrester’s comment is not terribly remarkable--semi-automatics are perfectly legal. What is more remarkable is that the DSCC seems to think that it should be politicians’ business whether Americans own legal weapons.

Saddam’s Manipulation of Western Media

This two-part essay from The New Republic by Franklin Foer explains with perfect clarity why--by definition--those Western media outlets that get into Iraq and want to stay in Iraq cannot possibly be reporting back the real news (aka, the truth). The method described herein has been true in all modern tyrannies. Great read.

Real Honor for a Fictional Sleuth

The BBC reports that "The great fictional character Sherlock Holmes is to receive a posthumous Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Society of Chemistry." Can there be any method to this madness? I admit that I am fond of this modern sleuth and Socrates-like man. Holmes once said of himself: "I am the last and highest court of appeal in detection." But still, if every why has a wherefore, I don’t see it. And how can it be posthumous? Sherlock never lived.

Preventing Genocide by Arming People

Glenn Harlan Reynolds argues persuasively that paper agreements stating opposition to genocide have not prevented any. The list of countries doing it in the last century is not short. Those committing genocide were never inconvenienced while doing their horrible work. Yet, interestingly, there has not been genocide where the population was armed. Solution? Arm the people. What is the U.N.’s and human rights advocates’ solution? Paper agreements signed by counries like Cambodia, Rwanda, and the Congo, and maybe drop in some peace-keepers after the fact. Add to this the U.N.’s policy of international gun control and the situation seems hopeless. He cites an article by Daniel Polsby and Don Kates in the Washington University Law Quarterly that "not one of the principal genocides of the twentieth century, and there have been dozens, has been inflicted on a population that was armed." Good read, follow the useful links.

Tear Down This Wall

As long as Bartlett’s is finally going to recognize Reagan’s famous quote at the Brandenburg Gate, it is worth taking a moment to read the speech, which is available online here. I tried to find a sound file for the quote, which I am almost positive I have heard on the net before, but I can’t find it.

Georgia Senate Race

Democratic Sen. Max Cleland is in an ever tighter campaign against the GOP challenger Saxby Chambliss. I think the main thing holding his campaign together is the (apparently) enthusiastic support he gets from conservative Democrat Senator Zell Miller. Also, it helps that Democratic liberals (e.g., Daschle or Clinton) have not openly campaigned for him. Zell is giving Cleland cover. The President’s trip to Georgia today indicates that the Republicans think they have a shot at the seat, else he wouldn’t have gone down. This story from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution makes all this pretty clear.

Economic Freedom in the World

As seen in recent protests against globalization, the idea that free markets naturally lead to poverty, sickness, and environmental degradation still has a significant hold on the minds of many. A necessary corrective is the latest edition of James Gwartney and Robert Lawson’s Economic Freedom in the World, which rates and ranks 123 of the world’s nations based on the extent to which their economies are burdened with public spending, taxation, and regulation. It turns out that the United States is only number three--both Hong Kong and Singapore have more economic freedom than we do.

However, what is most interesting about Economic Freedom in the World is that Gwartney and Lawson go on to demonstrate how indices of economic freedom track with the sorts of things that we like to see in a country--wealth, health, literacy, environmental concern, etc. Contrary to the claims of the modern Left, there is more of each of these in countries with high level of economic freedom. Moreover, while economic freedom seems to have little impact on poverty--the poorest 10% of the population tends to garner roughly the same percentage of national income whether the country be socialist or free-market--there is no denying that the poor are better off in absolute terms in countries with a high degree of economic freedom. In the nations with the most rigidly controlled economies, average income of the poorest 10% runs just over $700 US. However, in the most market-oriented countries the figure is more like $7000 US.

The conclusion? If you want to fight poverty, illiteracy, disease, environmental degradation, etc., stop lobbying for higher taxes and more regulations and let the market work!

For more information on Economic Freedom in the World, visit Robert Lawson’s home page: http://capital2.capital.edu/faculty/rlawson/pubs/

Bartlett’s No Longer Ignores Reagan

Justin Kaplan, the editor of Bartlett’s Quotations just now explains why he ignored Reagan in the previous edition. In the USA Today article he was quoted as saying: "I admit I was carried away by prejudice. Mischievously, I did him dirt," he says. He has added six Reagan quotes to the new edition, including, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," which Kaplan calls "one of the greatest moments in Western history."

Another Bad Book on Lincoln

Ken Masugi writes a devastating review of DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln. It appears in the Oct 14th edition of National Review (the paper version).

Calling for Anti-War Left Revival

Todd Gitlin writing in Mother Jones is calling (pleading, really) for a "sensible" anti-war movement to take place, one that disassociates itself from the old hard-left and morally compromised leaders like Ramsey Clark. He thinks it will play in Peoria.

Stalin Who?

As long as I’m promoting Dave Barry, his most recent column is worth a look. In it he quotes the letters of middle school children who were given the assignment of responding to his claim that young people don’t read newspapers. Among their suggestions for getting more young readers:

’’I don’t like reading about death, war and government. Write about things that we can relate to.’’

’Don’t use jokes that we don’t understand. In your article, you said, ’a much higher percentage than the general population voted for Stalin.’ Who is Stalin?"

I weep for the future.

Simon as Governor?

George Will says that the Anaheim Angels can’t be where they are, but there they are. He has reasons to think that Simon may be looked at similarly. Despite the banana-peel-strewn campaign that he is running, he is still there, and just maybe, he will win. Sometimes good things happen to good people. Perhaps this is one of those instances.

Light ’em if you got ’em

John Stossel’s segment on 20/20 this Friday will take aim at the tobacco settlement. Hailed by Clinton as a victory for children, it has proved to be a victory for state spending sprees, and tobacco lawyers. In fact, at least one state has actually used part of the tobacco settlement to--get this--subsidize tobacco farmers. For a humorous look at why states should cut out the middle-man and start growing tobacco themselves, take a look at Dave Barry’s column.

South Dakota Senate Race

An obscure professor writes on the U.S. Senate race taking place in an obscure state (to be found on a great and famous site). It is a good article, worth reading. I hope it’s true. Thune is on a roll against Johnson. It would be excellent to win this seat because even Dan Rather wouldn’t be able to obscure the fact that it is a slap at the national Democratic leadership. Also, the Republicans have a bit more money than the Democrats.

Stopping the Senate’s Confirmation Logjam

Last week the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing inquiring into the Senate’s refusal even to consider a significant number of President Bush’s circuit judge nominees. During the hearing, at which I testified (click here for testimony) , I proposed legislation that would vest the appointment of circuit court and district court judges -- "inferior officers," in the Constitutional sense -- in the President alone if the Senate has failed to act on any nominee within six months. An op-ed on the subject is published in today’s Wall Street Journal; a copy reprinted with permission is available at The Claremont Institute.

Interpreting the Numbers

Something to keep in mind when viewing the fundraising levels mentioned by Schramm below is that the parties are facing a "use it or lose it" scenario regarding the soft money. The day after the elections, McCain-Feingold goes into effect, and the parties will be forced to either refund the money or disgorge it to the federal government (it is interesting to note that the General Counsel’s office of the Federal Election Commission originally recommended only disgorgement). Given these options, this month should signal a dionysian spending spree--all campaign ads all the time--brought to you by McCain-Feingold.

Woody Harrelson Rant

Woody Harrelson rants on again in a London paper (he’s got a gig there) about how bad the U.S. is, governments make war not people, and similar pap and sound and fury. The only good acting you ever did, Woody, was in Cheers and that was only because the script was first class and--this is not unimportant--you played an idiot.

Money for the Elections

There are a couple of interesting newstories out on how the fund-raising is going for this election cycle. The Republicans have a huge advantage, so large that the Demos are talking about using some money they have for a building fund and apply it to next month’s election. But the Democrats have raised more soft money than the GOP .

Homeland Security

David Tucker writes a thoughtful essay on the big question regarding homeland security: What is the relationship between freedom and security? He draws the paramaters that the discussion (not just the approval of the new department) must be placed into.

More On Zogby Polling

Demonstrating my honed, Pavlovian response to Schramm’s ringing of the blogging bell, Ruffini raises an interesting point, which I think is probably right in terms of his skepticism of war on Iraq polling and wrong regarding candidate polling. He begins by pointing out that pollster John Zogby’s brother James Zogby writes for the Arab news. This is only a small sliver of the story. James Zogby is the President and Founder of the Arab American Institute. He also co-founded the Palestine Human Rights Campaign and American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. In these roles, he has been a vocal advocate of Arab policy, which includes AAI’s opposition to "unilateral" U.S. action against Iraq. The brothers Zogby are close. John’s office is located at the Arab American Institute, and he is reported to call his brother 10 times per day.

It is therefore not surprising that pollster John, who has also been vocal in the past about Arab-American issues, should oppose action in Iraq. Anytime a pollster has a horse in the race, there is reason to scrutinize his polls (which is why the media pays less attention to polls conducted by the political parties). If, as Ruffini reports, Zogby is asking questions which include "sending your sons and daughters" to die or refer to the death of thousands of Americans, then he is obviously slanting the questions to increase the opposition numbers. Even so, in a white paper announced yesterday, Zogby concedes that 70 percent of "Americans consider Saddam Hussein a threat to the safety and security of the US." He also suggests that "Americans have expressed that they do not feel the [Iraq] debate is a matter of political timing, and [ ] they do perceive Hussein’s Iraq as a legitimate threat . . . ." He does, however, go on to question whether Bush will win points in 2004 based upon this action, and suggests that the press have drawn the wrong conclusions by asking the wrong questions. Thus, I would simply suggest that readers look at the questions Zogby asks in Iraq polls before drawing conclusions.

Ruffini goes a step further and asks whether this may have an impact on Zogby’s candidate polling. Here I have my doubts. First, Ruffini fails to consider that James Zogby also was a confidant of President Clinton, and served on the DNC’s Executive Committee in 1999. Using the same logic of a brother’s influence, why is it that brother John’s polls don’t unduly favor Democrats? John has built a reputation as being the straightest shooter among the pollsters: he was the only pollster to call the 1994 Republican landslide, and his findings regarding a razor-thin Gore popular vote edge in 2000 were also among the, if not the most accurate. While men may be blinded by their passions, self-interest here serves as a check: John obviously knows that slanting his candidate surveys would be bad for his reputation and therfore bad for business. Yes, cooking the books on Iraq would be bad as well, but election polls may be verified against actual exit results in a way that opinion polls cannot.

The evidence cited by Ruffini about recent polls doesn’t make the case that Zogby is a "fraud" in his handling the of candidate polls. While it is somewhat disconcerting that Zogby volunteered his services against the Tom "The Hammer" DeLay, he still found DeLay up by 20 points. As for the Torricelli polls, Ruffini suggests that Zogby showed Torricelli leading when every other poll showed the Torch with even odds or worse. Here, it’s not clear that Ruffini is shooting straight. First, he doesn’t say what date he is referring to on the Zogby polls that showed Torricelli leading. The article he cites regarding Torricelli’s terrorism ties was on September 17, before the wheels had fully come off the Torricelli electoral bus. It must be remembered that as late as September 27, the Washington Post was reporting the race as a dead heat, while on September 28th, the Washington Times cited a Zogby poll showing Forrester ahead by four points. The court didn’t announce the release of the campaign documents which spelled the polling crash for the Torricelli campaign until September 27, so given the Post’s numbers and court’s timing, Zogby’s poll seems to have been on the mark, and maybe ahead of the curve. Yes, there has been a large swing in Minnesota in favor of Paul Wellstone (who voted against the congressional authorization on Iraq), but this is the state that elected Jesse Ventura--nothing surprises me there. And if we are going to talk about big swings, the theory doesn’t take into accout the big swing in favor of Talent in Missouri. Last time I checked, Talent wasn’t singing Kum-baya and wearing love beads about Iraq.

I’ve droned on too long, but the point is that yes, everyone knows that Zogby’s got strong opinions about the middle east, and so polls on that topic should be viewed with skepticism. But I think that Zogby has too much to lose to cook the books on numbers at home, and Ruffini didn’t make the case.

Condi Rice

Rice writes on op-ed (for the London Telegraph) on American foreign policy, trying to get around the "realism" vs. "idealism" schools. Short and worth reading. It’s nice to have a sensible Director of the NSC.

Zogby Polling Questioned

Patrick Ruffini raises a few interesting questions about some of Zogby’s methods, as well as the possibility that his anti-war views are affecting his polling analysis. Zogby has the reputation of being one of the best pollsters. Perhaps our resident expert on these matters, Robert Alt, will comment on this. It’s too early in the morning for a fat man to think straight; besides, I have a lecture on Machiavelli to prepare. It’s OK, they’re Freshmen.

Korean Nukes

North Korea has announced (I am guessing we were able to prove it) that it has a secret nuclear weapons program . Does this reflect well or ill on Clinton’s foreign policy? I thought those guys said they had an agreement with North Korea on these matters. Oh, well. Good morning.

Detergent Boycott in Egypt

Procter and Gamble sells a detergent in Egypt named "Ariel." Some think it is named after Ariel Sharon so there is a boycott underway. It is in fact named after the character in The Tempest and has been on the shelf since the 1920’s.

Rumsfeld and Top Brass at Odds?

If this story has merit (by Ricks and Loeb) it could be worth paying attention to.

Another Use for Duct Tape

It has now been proven that duct tape is more effective in removing warts than liquid nitrogen.

Banning Billiards

Uzbekistan just banned billiard parlors. Something is up.

Memorize Koran and Get Years Off

If you are in prison in Dubai (and I bet that wouldn’t be fun) you could get fifteen years off your sentence if you memorize all of the Koran; only five if you memorize a third.

Israel to Respond

President Bush met with Prime Minister Sharon today and it was made clear by both that Israel will respond if Iraq attacks . Bush said of Sharon’s situation: "He’s got a desire to defend himself." Simple. To the point. True. Good.

Radio Sawa Popular

Radio Sawa is now the most popular radio station with the young in Amman, Jordan. Good.

Not Even a Park Bench

The New York Times today reports that Bush is making a campaign issue of the delays and obstruction committed by Democratic Senators who oppose his judicial nominees. As I have said on this page before, this is appropriate: Senators should be held accountable for their votes against candidates or their failure to act. The Times of course failed to mention the drastic understaffing in the courts--the Sixth Circuit for example has a vacancy rate of approximately 50%--an error of omission they would have never committed during the Clinton years. The Times did, however, offer a reason that the Democrats have been so successful in blocking judges:

they were enacting a strategy discussed at a party retreat in April 2001, where the senators were exhorted by their leaders and others to be willing to oppose nominees on ideological grounds and accept any political fallout.

The "others" doing the exhorting at this now infamous retreat included Harvard’s Laurence Tribe and Chicago’s Cass Sunstein, both of whom are well-reputed to covet a Supreme Court seat of their own. Yet by making ideology a fair consideration, they have perfected the argument themselves: they are too far outside the mainstream to deserve even passing consideration. So oddly enough, by conspiring against qualified nominees, these two judicial aspirants have assured that the only way they will ever see the world from behind a bench is with a visitor’s pass.

Lethal Force

The New York Times reports that a Michigan appeals court reversed the manslaughter conviction of a pregnant woman who stabbed and killed her boyfriend after he punched her the stomach. The judge has ordered a new trial, claiming that the woman should have been able to argue not only self-defense, but defense of her unborn quadruplets. Like some tort cases that involve injury to unborn children, this case once again raises a conundrum in the law: at 17-weeks pregnant, the mother could have chosen to legally abort the children, or she may argue that it was necessary to use lethal force to protect them.

What Does Campaign Finance Have to Do With Anti-Terrorism Policy?

The Washington Post today reports that the ACLU plans a $2.5 million media campaign aimed at criticizing Bush’s anti-terrorism policies. Later in the same column, the Post describes the controversy surrounding the confidentiality of documents in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold bill. The Post doesn’t attempt to explain what these two stories squeezed together have in common, so let me offer a suggestion: under McCain-Feingold, the ads that the ACLU is suggesting would be illegal in 2004, because they would mention a federal candidate (Bush), would be run within 60 days of an election, and would use corporate money (the ACLU is a corporation).

American Power

Fareed Zakaria’s attempt to articulate the nature of America’s unique status as the sole superpower is worth reading. He concludes that Machiavelli is wrong in saying that it is better to be feared than loved. America is good because of its "universal values" and it is therefore liked in the world. There is more to all this, but its a start.

Nobel Gesture

Michael Kelly writes a good piece suggesting that either Bush is the best candidate for the Nobel peace prize and in doing so explains what peace and war mean and the good that American power has brought to a rowdy world. Not that the "Bourbons of Oslo" (as he calls them) will listen, of course.

Jonah Goldberg, in his speech at the Ashbrook Center yesterday, nicely explained that the Nobel peace prize was less a prize for Carter and more a "back-handed un-peace prize for George Bush." He also made some other nice comments on the prize. Click here for a three-minute audio excerpt of his speech.

PETA being Pelted

Schoolchildren in Scotland threw milk at two PETA protesters (one dressed as a cow) for ten minutes before the cops arrived to save them. The PETA sillies were trying to get the children to stop drinking milk. The children are wise.

Giuliani and Churchill

I was told that Rudy Giuliani was on Oprah on September 30 and they had a conversation about the value of books, especially biographies, and, notably interesting, about what Giuliani read the night of September 11th (actually the early morning of the 12th) when he finally got home to try to get some sleep. He read Jenkins’ new biography of Churchill. This is part of the transcript, from Oprah’s site.


Mr. GIULIANI: The—the second lesson is study, read and learn independently. It’s a little bit like prepare relentlessly, but it’s a lesson I learned from my mother. My mother used to tell me you can learn everything in books. Books contain the secrets of life... And her—her idea was that in books, you could find the answers to any—any of the problems that you face. And that’s how I ended up on the evening of September 11th, really the morning of September 12th, beginning to re—read and actually read a new biography of—of Churchill.

...

Mr. GIULIANI: The—the—I—you know, the best way—the best way to—to study leadership is reading biographies of the people that you admire and—and doing the best you can to incorporate those things in—in—into you. You know, I read a lot of biographies of Churchill, but I also read a lot of biographies of Franklin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson and—you—you name it. And then I cop—and then I copied a lot of people. People that I worked for had a big, big impact on me.

WINFREY: And—and went back and read Churchill—Was it the night after the…

Mr. GIULIANI: Yeah, r—and re—read it and re—read it that night.

WINFREY: Isn’t that the first thing you read?

Mr. GIULIANI: Yes.

WINFREY: After you went home, 2:30 in the morning?

Mr. GIULIANI: I read—I went home, I found an advanced copy of a new biography of—of Churchill by Jenkins.

WINFREY: Churchill.

Mr. GIULIANI: I opened up the pages about the Battle of Britain in 1940, because I felt that that was close to what we were facing. Here they were attacked and bombed every night. And let—let me see how Churchill faced it.

WINFREY: We’ll be right back.

Al Qaeda’s Soft Targets

A Washington Post story maintains that "al Qaeda is resorting to more
indiscriminate attacks against ’soft’ targets," and the simplicity of these attacks "might make them more difficult to predict and prevent." Recent examples include the
carnage in Bali, sniper attacks in the Phillipines and Kuwait, suicide bombings in Pakistan and Tunisia.

Jonah Goldberg Speaks

Jonah Goldberg, the editor of National Review Online, spoke at the Ashbrook Center a few hours ago to over three hundred mid-westerners with a fair sense of humor. He was well received by all, and well loved by the young. They were curious to see whether a man who writes for a living (and writes well!) can also speak well. They were not disappointed. He wound up the watch of his wit, and it struck, even me. You can hear him by clicking here.

Can’t Afford Not To . . .

A jury Monday recommended that Gregory McKnight be sentenced to death for the murder of 20-year-old Kenyon college student Emily Murray. What makes this case unusual is that the judge overseeing the case initially prohibited the prosecutors from seeking the death penalty, not because the law did not permit it for the crime (it did), but because he believed that rural Vinton County, Ohio could not afford the defense. After Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery weighed in by filing an appeal, the judge relented and allowed the prosecution and court appointed defense to go forward.

And what a defense it was. Mr. McKnight’s lawyers attempted to pin Ms. Murray’s death on . . . Ms. Murray. They drudged up tragic details of her past to suggest that because she had attempted suicide in high school, maybe she killed herself. The only question then was whether this was before or after she drove 80 miles from her residence, rolled herself in carpet, and placed the carpet neatly in Mr. McKnight’s trailer. Talk about blaming the victim.

It is good that the state chose to challenge the judge’s determination regarding ability to pay, not merely because the decision to bring a capital charge was vindicated by the jury, but also because it leaves fiscal questions for the political branches.

More Incumbent Woes: Jeb, Allard, Hutchinson

Picking up where Peter Schramm left off in his posting yesterday regarding anti-incumbent sentiment, the latest round of Zogby/MSNBC’s 10-day tracking polls show a dead heat in key races throughout the country. With a 4 1/2 point margin of error, the poll shows Florida Governor Jeb Bush with only a 3 point lead over challenger McBride. In Arkansas, Tim Hutchinson is tied with challenger Mark Pryor at 45% each, and Colorodo Senator Wayne Allard is trailing challenger Tom Strickland by a point.

Ordinarily mid-term elections are losers for the party of a sitting president--with the most prominent example of this being the November revolution of 1994. So far, this election doesn’t seem to be fitting into the ordinary mid-term model. Voters are approaching the polls with concern regarding the economy and uncertainty regarding the prospects of war. Given this anxiety, look for an increasing number of voters to be open to change--a move that is not necessarily good news for incumbents.

Undressing the Victorians

Roger Kimball discusses "Exposed: The Victorian Nude," an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, but is really elaborating on Edmund Burke’s statement that "manners are of more importance than law," and therefore says thoughtful things on the current culture wars.

Democracy in Iraq

Victor Davis Hanson writes thoughtfully about the possibility of establishing some form of democratic rule after the tyranny ends in Iraq. Although it is not going to be easy, and it will certainly not be perfect, freedom is the only thing that hasn’t been tried. And it is worth the trying. Although the piece is long it is worth reading. This is the first of many on this topic that you will see because a discussion of the issue is both necessary because the regime will soon fall, because it is in our interest, and because the subject brings up fundamental political issues that always merit discussion.

Taking Aim at PBS

The Pentagon today reports another successful test of a ground-based missile defense system, the fifth successful test (and fourth in a row) since such tests began in 1999. The timing is appropriately just days after PBS ran an episode of Frontline, which offered, as John Miller of NR points out, a slanted attack alleging the impossibility of such a system. For more evidence of the impossible, you can visit today’s post by Miller, in which he describes how Israel has already built an impressive missile defense system.

Amiri Baraka the Poet

In case you are interested in seeing a first class evisceration of the great poet of New Jersey, here is John Derbyshire doing it perfectly. Jonah Goldberg brought to my attention the wonder-poet’s defense of himself . Read and be outraged.

Hillary for President?

This is a good way to end the so-called working day. I just saw the results of a poll by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion which found that 69 percent of Americans do not think that Hillary Clinton should ever run for president.

Pat Buchanan and the Left

Andrew Sullivan’s blog brought to my attention this article by Ronald Radosh on Pat Buchanan’s latest effort to promote one certain kind of right wing view. It is a new weekly magazine called The American Conservative. Now in its second issue (I will get around to reading it soon enough), Radosh has some sound opinions about how Buchanan’s kind of Right melds nicely into the Left; struggle against globalism, American imperialism, and so on. Just in case you are predisposed to be uncritical of Buchanan, take a look at it.

Talent Leads Carnahan

This Zogby Poll in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch shows a "a seismic shift," according to pollster Zogby, from his September poll because the numbers are almost exactly reversed. Talent has 47.3 to Carnahan’s 40.8 percent. Notice how the story emphasizes an "anti-incumbency wave" that is sweeping across the country. This is the first I have heard of this wave. Is it possible that it is, more precisely, a pro-Bush and/or pro-GOP wave? And, can journalists be honest enough to admit it? Keep looking for this anti-incumbency wave and let’s see who will ride it.

Lenin Ramirez Sanchez

Remember the terrorist Carlos the Jackal? Well, it turns out that his brother Lenin is now director of energy of Venezuela. So, let me get this straight: Lenin is now heading the energy department of an OPEC country, the same OPEC that Carlos took hostage in 1975 and even killed three of them. Isn’t politics interesting?

Saddam’s Sons

In case there is any doubt in your mind about the quality of the regime that Saddam Hussein has built you should read this story from Newsweek about his two sons. It is clear that his sons have the souls of tyrants, and nature has not made a mistake: tyranny is both inherited and cultivated. And these true sons, trying to outdo their father, make sure that (as Macduff says):


Each new morn,

New widows howl, new orphans cry; new sorrows

Strike heaven on the face.

Yet, we must be satisfied in knowing that, at least in part, justice means that measure for measure must be answered. They will bleed for it.

War on Iraq Means War on Terror

Reuel Marc Gerecht thoughtfully explains why the war against Iraq is necessary in order for the war on terror to succeed. He explains how the Europeans (despite what some of their intellectuals and political elites say) will be drawn closer to America because of common interest. And Gerecht also explains why fear of American power will draw more Middle East states into our orbit. This has already been proven to be true; he cites Pakistan as the best example. He says that conducting an effective war against Iraq will ensure the continued support (especially intelligence sharing) of those Arab states still sitting on the fence.

Bush’s Rhetoric

President Bush has had a terrific three weeks. His success, according to Bill Kristol, has had to do with his "clarity, toughness and straightfordwardness with which he has marshalled his arguments." But now Bush has to move from seeking support to fighting a war. His purpose now becomes the defeat of Saddam and this will mean that he has to start deceiving and misleading because his audience is no longer the American public or our allies, it is Hussein himself. And even though Saddam knows we are going to attack him, tactical
surprise is possible and--given the fact that he has some useable weapons of mass destruction--necessary in order to minimize casualties. So Kristol reminds us that over the next many weeks and months Bush will have to use the fog of war to keep Saddam Hussein off balance and we should keep this in mind if we note a change in his rhetoric: He will now start lying, as he should.

Blood For Oil

With congressional approval of action in Iraq moving us closer to what now seems inevitable action in Iraq, it is only a matter of time before the drumbeat of “blood for oil” becomes deafening (that is, unless blood for rice overtakes it). It is worth remembering, however, that some of the countries most prominent in their opposition to the war also stand to profit the most from propping up Saddam Hussein’s power. For example, France is the Iraq’s leading import partner--22.5% of Iraq’s total yearly imports are from France. China and Russia tie for 3rd place with 5.8% respectively. Not to leave out the Germans, a 1993 study of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control suggested Germany was the worst western offender in terms of selling Iraq the goods necessary to bolster its war machine, including the sale of the vital components to extend the range of its SCUD missiles.

If the United States really just wanted oil, we could simply lift the sanctions and call the policy “engagement.” Given this possibility, the accusation of “blood for oil” just doesn’t carry much weight. By contrast, from a raw, economic perspective, many of Iraq’s current trading partners may believe that they would be better served by propping up Hussein, thereby keeping the U.S. alienated to trade with Iraq. Of course, they would fair better if the sanctions were dropped—but they would fair even better in a world in which they could trade freely with Iraq, but the U.S. chose not to because of our concerns about Hussein. I would like to think that this is an unlikely scenario to explain the actions of our Eurasian friends, but such an explanation is at least as plausible, if not more so, than one which suggests the U.S. is willing to spend billions of dollars and risk the lives of our young men and women on a war whose "oil" objective could be achieved by fiat. So the next time you hear another country making noises about “blood for oil,” it is worth considering that the real blood for oil trade-off may in fact be made by those who advocate no action at all.

Our Friends the Germans

The British Daily Telegraph reports [registration required] that Iraq has been building a 33-foot long supergun capable of firing chemical or biological weapons. The 209mm gun designed by late Canadian ballistics expert Gerald Bull is estimated to have a firing range of 35 miles, making it capable of hitting targets within Kuwait, a potential staging grounds for U.S. and international forces. Iraq obtained the materials to build the gun from German businessmen, who are being prosecuted in Mannheim.

This announcement provides us the opportunity to offer our congratulations to Gerhard Schroeder for securing another term as Chancellor by campaigning against German intervention in Iraq under any circumstances, including under the UN flag. His assertion that he was forging a “German way”—a phrase not heard since the Nazi era—offered assurances of Germany’s role in the post-Cold War world. If it weren’t for these stalwart signs of support for the U.S., we might confuse the acts of these businessmen for overzealous German patriotism rather than acts of treason and terror.

Campaign 2004: The Moose on the Move

Washington is abuzz with rumors about the possibility of a McCain presidential bid in 2004 based on McCain’s recent hire of Hudson Fellow Marshall Wittmann, who wrote a popular blog under the pseudonym of “The Bull Moose.” The American Prospect first reported last week that Wittmann was hired for the position of Communications Director for McCain. Noting his status as “the capital’s preeminent quotemaster,” TAP speculated about the importance of the move:

Wittmann isn’t just any old communications director. He’s not an interim hire, the kind of guy you bring on temporarily, as you wind down and prepare to retire. And Wittman [sic] wouldn’t leave his cushy gig at the Hudson Institute for just anything. No, Wittmann is a big gun -- the kind of guy you bring on to build policy proposals, spark new ideas and prepare for a big challenge. Tapped speculates that either McCain is preparing for some new campaign or initiative as a senator, or he’s laying the groundwork for another presidential run.

Does the Bull Moose’s move to the Hill portend a move by McCain? Only time will tell.

Great Moments in Congressional Hypocrisy

“The Founding Fathers certainly intended that the Senate advise as to judicial nominations, i.e., consider, debate and vote up or down. They surely did not intend that the Senate, for partisan or factional reasons, would remain silent and simply refuse to give any advice or consider and vote at all, thereby leaving the courts in limbo, understaffed and unable properly to carry out their responsibilities for years.” (Testimony of Sen. Patrick Leahy, May 10, 2000).

Well, for Senator Leahy, it seems that it is not necessary to have a vote up or down when the partisan or factional “reasons” also happen to be your friends. Thus when the usual assortment of activists gave him a call expressing their last minute opposition to Fourth Circuit nominee Dennis Shedd, he was more than happy to cancel Shedd’s scheduled vote, in so doing flouting Senate rules, personal promises, and his previously mentioned lofty ideals.

Of course, this failure to conduct a vote is just the latest in an ever-lengthening chain of abuses. Take for example Professor McConnell, who after languishing for more than a year was finally given a hearing, during which it was made abundantly clear not only that is he eminently qualified, but also that he has support from both the ideological left and the right. Even so, Leahy has not permitted a vote. Or take Miguel Estrada, a judicial nominee deemed to be well qualified by the ABA, who has also been waiting since May of last year. Once again, Leahy permitted a hearing, but no vote.

Given his recent act of bad faith, Leahy should be forced to hold a vote on these nominees before election day. Because Leahy and Schumer have chosen to make this a political process, their colleagues should be made to answer for their choices through the political process. Accordingly, Senators should be made to explain to their constituents why, for example, they would choose to vote against a highly qualified Hispanic nominee like Miguel Estrada when the sole criticism to date is speculation that he might be conservative or that he might become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice one day. To force such a vote will be difficult, requiring a commitment from at least 41 Senators, but to do otherwise is to permit Senator Leahy’s hypocrisy to continue.

Pulling a Torricelli

You heard it here first. We warned that once the New Jersey Supreme Court opened the floodgates, it would only be a matter of time before parties began dropping candidates faster than Martha Stewart acting on a hot IMClone tip. The New Jersey court, in an opinion issued in the wake of its order permitting Frank Lautenberg to replace Robert Torricelli on the ballot, dismissed this possibility, citing the difficulty “for any party, logistically, politically, and financially, to replace a candidate closer to an election.”

It appears that the New Jersey court is as good at reading tea leaves as it is at reading statutes. The Wall Street Journal reported on October 10, 2002 that the Republicans in Montville, N.J. are attempting a last minute replacement for the position of Township Committee. But those relying on the decision are not limited to the confines of New Jersey. The Washington Post reports that Republican Senate candidate Mike Taylor backed out of the race in Montana to allow the party to bring in a candidate who could win. In Hawaii, the Torricelli precedent was cited without success in a court challenge to permit the Democratic Party to put their candidate of choice on the ballot to replace Patsy Mink, who died on Sept. 28. The Post reported elsewhere that Republicans in Pennsylvania are “joking” about “pulling a Torricelli” to replace flailing gubernatorial candidate Mark Fisher with the more popular acting governor Mark S. Schweiker.

So there you have it: "Pulling a Torricelli" has become a new term in the political lexicon befitting the career of the man who inspired it.

This Week on ABC

I finally got a chance to watch "This Week". Normally I have better things to do. A couple of things struck me. First, the liberals continually said the "Bush brand" and the "Bush product" when talking about the attempt of the President to both campaign on behalf of GOP candidates and raise money. What they were trying to do is to disparage the GOP campaign by pretending that they are acting as if they are selling soap. In fact what the liberals are worrying about is that the GOP base will turn out to vote in larger numbers--because of the great popularity of Bush--than is normal for off-year elections and/or that the GOP leaning independent vote will turn out in larger numbers than normal. If either one of these two things happen then the GOP will get the Senate back. In case this happens (which is likely, in my view) George Stephanapoulos made sure that he used his last few minutes to warn everyone that GOP Senator Lincoln Chafee might well leave the GOP. Boy George would have had a more interesting (and fairer) point if he would have mentioned that it is equally possible that Democratic Senator Zell Miller might change parties if necessary.

Second, the liberals are hoping that--now that Bush has won Congressional support for his Iraq policy--the "multilateralist" vs. "unilateralist" debate within the admininistration will be re-born. What they mean by multilateral (it turns out) is with the U.N. and what is unilateral means without the U.N. It turns out that it does not matter to the liberals whether or not the administration has built up a coalition (which it has). Acting only under U.N. auspices matters. But this conversation within the White House has already taken place and the good guys won. Besides, as George Will pointed out, the President has a vote in such a debate and he is not a multilateralist and his vote counts for 51 percent. The liberals can keep dreaming (and hoping that Powell will side with them) but the truth is the discussion is over.

Nobel Peace Prize

The only thing I would have to say about Carter getting the Nobel Peace Prize has already been said by others. One of the best criticisms of Carter was done this May by Jonah Goldberg (although to call Carter a "monster" is over the top). That Carter is often silly and embarrasing is absolutely true. And I also have no comment on the fact that the head of the Nobel committee made clear that by giving the award the committee meant to be critical of U.S. policy on Iraq. "Oh shame, where is thy blush?"

Stephen Ambrose Dies

Almost ten years ago I heard a professor of history criticize a book by a fellow named Stephen Ambrose. He said it was too easy to read, meant for a popular audience, and, he continued, it was much too patriotic. I knew this merited investigation and I immediately started reading Ambrose. The left-wing professor was right. Whatever Ambrose wrote was a good read. He read like a writer rather than a history professor and the reader could feel his deep appreciation for the American way and the American character. That ordinary, common, good-every-day-Americans liked to read him was a sign that virtue had not yet left the American breast. I am sorry that he died so soon, but I am glad that he lived and hope that his books live as long as there are people in the world who will want to learn something about the American man, why the last century is called the American century, and what moves Americans to fight. This newstory announcing his death is from the AP .

Democrat Confusion

David Tell explicates nicely how confused the Democrats are regarding Iraq, and although he admits that they have made some progress since 1991, they still havent shown the kind of backbone that will be necessary (except for Senator Zell Miller) for many more months to come. George Will tries to explain the deep divisions within the Democratic Party on security issues.