Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

New Holiday Cuisine

I have been getting reports that some people are planning to make the preposterous turducken for Christmas dinner. So I am fighting back.. .

I am going a combo of pheasant and duck. Call it what you like.

Two Towers First Impressions

Peter asks for initial reactions.

The movie does not contain Aragorn’s reply to Eomer that I mentioned in a previous post as being essential for preserving the integrity of Tolkien’s moral vision. However, they make up for it with an original speech by Sam at the end of the film that makes the same moral argument, and it is quite effectively done. I suspect this was consciously done by the writers.

The movie took more liberties with the book than it should have, in my mind, a couple for the better, but most for the worse. But on the whole it is a success.

Gollum steals the movie.

Senator Patty Murray in Darkness

I can’t believe this stupid comment by Senator Patty Murray (D). She is talking to high school students, which makes it even more reprehensible. As my father would say, if anyone asks you why I am not a Democrat, use this as a reason why. This woman understands less about the United States and what good it has done for the world than my dog Jacob! Ask any country we have gone to war with--and rebuilt, after we beat them--about American magnanimity (including Afghanistan, most of whose roads we built before we bombed them!). I won’t quote from the news story; read the whole thing. This is the kind of stuff that makes me angry, and sometimes feeds doubt to my hope.

A Note on Frist

It shouldn’t surprise us that Bill Frist the man, the surgeon, the senator, the good samaritan, is everywhere. And its fine by me that he is being praised so. But also note in this ABC News report the start of a list of items that Demos are going to bring up, from voter intimidation to a membership in an all white golf club to inhumane treatments of cats. I couldn’t help noting in this WaPo article that he only gets four hours of sleep each night. I was also amused to hear a CNN anchor say that Dr. Frist saved the life of Senator Thurmond a few years ago when he collapsed on the Senate floor and the anchor said that if Frist wouldn’t have done it then none of this would have happened; the anchor then actually said that he had set the whole thing up. This is one smart guy.

Confederate General Byrd

It’s amusing to note that Senator Byrd will have a cameo appearance as a Confederate General in the movie "Gods and Generals." I don’t quite understand why he is playing a Confederate General when West Virginia became part of the Union in 1863. I bet there would be a huge outcry if Lott would have done this!

James Bond and Justice

This is a pretty good review of Die Another Day by Bruce Sanborn. It mixes up Bond, Reagan and Homer Simpson nicely. If anyone has seen "The Two Towers", give me your opinion.

Counsel Post-Trent

Well we won’t have him to pun about any more.

But what about the Democrat assault on Republicans generally, on race issues. I think the affirmative action debate should be ratcheted up a notch by conservatives: Supporters of preferences should be demonized as supporters of reparations. Let them deny they support reparations and see what this does to their black support, especially if Al Sharpton hits his stride.

Robert Alt: How does this Frist affirmative action plan differ from the provision on this for Hillary care-- Frist’s is splitting the difference, isn’t it? Good catch, not a good sign for the latest target for the liberal destruction machine.

Stanford and Stem Cell Research

Dr. Leon Kass, the chairman of President Bush’s bioethics council has chastized Stanford University for misleading the public about its stem cell research program.
Kass said: "Stanford has decided to proceed with cloning research without public scrutiny and
deliberation, and has hurt the cause of public understanding of this subject by its
confusion of the issue." The Weekly Standard has a good editorial on this case.

The Long National Nightmare Is Over

AP reports that senior GOP sources close to Lott confirm that he will step down as Majority Leader, but will remain in the Senate.

Real Corruption, not Mere Shadow

Today’s paper, filled as usual with holiday spirit, contains several examples of real corruption -- not the post-modern Common Cause kind that speaks of inchoate "access" or improper feelings of "gratitude" for political support.

No this is the good stuff, teacher’s union officials using Union dues funds for fur coats and Tiffany silver. LINK.

Or another installment in the continuing story of former Ill. Gov George Ryan’s administration, the exchange of bribes for licenses, then the use of that money for campaign contributions. LINK.

There’s also a story about a local investor who bilked numerous prominent Washingtonians out of their investment funds, including apparently columnist George Will. Unfortunately, I can’t find the link on the WaPo web page.

Now I’m no Blackstone, but my guess is that the conduct in these matter was prohibited at common law. Moreover, despite the fact that individuals still persist in this conduct, I do not see an uproar over the failure of our laws to "prevent" these bad acts, or the need for the federal government to take over areas traditionally governed by the states.

(Oops! Did I say something about States Rights? According to E.J. Dionne, I did. LINK).

Back to the point, it seems like we could recognize that some people are crooks, will commit crimes, and need to be apprehended and punished. That can be done without outlawing entire areas of legitimate activity - you can punish the extortionist, fund diverter, and defrauder without criminalizing investment advice, private unions, or political fundraising. That’my big thought for the season - happy holidays.

The Frist Momentum

The New York Times has this report on the move that Frist seems to be making. And here is the AP story. Note that Senators Warner and Alexander and Allen also seem to be aboard.
It is clear that this gambit will work, and Lott will be pushed out. Robert Alt’s warning about Frist’s imperfections should be noted, there will be many things to be worked out. My view is, first things first, so to speak.

Palestinians Continue to Support Suicide Bombings

This is a pretty depressing piece of information : 63% of Palestinians support suicide bombings; Arafat is still the most trusted man (25%) while Hamas leader Yassin comes in second (11%). Yet, 83% of Palestinians think that there is corruption in the Paletinian Authority.

Stuff on Lott

Here are a few more articles on Lott/GOP/race matters, without commentary, just so you can have them handy. George Will, from yesterday. Peggy Noonan from today’s WSJ, and Krauthammer and Goldberg’s response. Also take a look at a few good paragraphs from Andrew Sullivan on the generational split among conservatives, and you can get to Bob Novak’s NYT column through his site.

Frist’s Race Problem

If you thought Lott’s statements on affirmative action on BET were bad, what about a program which seeks to impose a predetermined level of diversity not in admissions, but in graduation. According to a policy analyst in DC, this is precisely what Frist proposed about four years ago for, of all things, medical schools. The program would have given a big pot of money to schools which met proportional graduation goals, creating incentives to consider race not just in admission, but in grading. Leaving aside the legal arguments and even the non-legal arguments associated with race--do we really want incentives for medical schools to simply give a pass to any student?

Frist now appears to be the front-runner for Majority Leader. If he wants to show that he is a leader on the racial issues which have provided the impetus for him to become leader, he must explain whether he still supports such a policy.

The Good, the Money and the Need

As most of you know Andrew Sullivan announced yesterday that he had raised almost $80,000 in a week-long on-line fundraiser, with over 3,000 people contributing to his worthy enterprise. This is important for two reasons. First, it shows that quality on-line journalism can be profitable (and the more primitive forms, from CNN to The New York Times, will have to pay more attention to bloggers). Second, it shows that attempts like ours can, eventually, become profitable (or at least pay for the necessities!). No Left Turns has only been at this since October 15th and we plan to be pontificating for a very long time. We will bring you some of the best, most interesting, and most high minded political and social commentary from some of the most thoughtful people in the country. But, there are costs involved. For now, we are fudging all that according to the Schrammian principle that the good will eventually be rewarded! We assume that if we talk folks will listen and, eventually, will contribute what they can towards our efforts. If you are willing to throw a few bucks our way even now, you may go here to do so. Thank you.

Fish Dying from Noise

Here is another example of environmentalism gone astray: a bridge being built in California could be delayed another two years and cost a $200 million more. It is an interesting and detailed story, worth a read. Of course, what’s another $200 million when the state is already $34.8 billion in the hole.

Piling on Lott

It has become clearer by the end of this day that Lott will not be able to hang on. Not only have Inhofe, Nickles, and Thomas called for new a new leader, but, most important Frist said this:
"I indicated to them that if it is clear that a
majority of the Republican caucus believes a
change in leadership would benefit the institution
of the United States Senate, I will likely step
forward for that role." Of course the supporters of Lott will warn that this means that the White House is going to be selecting the majority leader of the U.S. Senate--since it seems obvious that Frist is Bush’s preference--and isn’t that a dangerous thing, etc. Well, actually no, not if the distinguished senators need a little boost to set their part of the government in order. Besides, it is arguably the case that they’re back in the majority because of the White House. Maybe this could be the start of a real political party where there is some accountability and responsibility. It looks as though Bush is willing to take on that task. May he prosper.

Social Science at its Best

Reuters reports on a study about to be published in the British Medical Journal. "Researchers from Austria and Canada selflessly analyzed the bodies of
centerfold models in 577 consecutive issues of Playboy, from the
magazine’s launch in 1953 to December 2001." And these diligent social scientists "found that models’ weight had remained steady, but their bust and hip
measurements had decreased and their waists had thickened." This is social science at its best.

Military Killing Sleep?

Both Frederick the Great and I have tried it (without success) and now the military is trying to figure out a way not to enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber for about a week. See this ABC report.

Iraq and War

It would seem from this WaPo report that all will be ready by January. And John Moser considers the assertion that this is a war for oil.

More on Lott

I have been missing in action for most of the week because I’ve been up at the Cleveland Clinic with Vicki. She had her surgery and all is well! Thanks for your concern, she appreciates your good will.

Much good has been written on NLT on this Lott matter by others, so I will not (for now) add much to it except to send you to a good article by Mac Owens from the Ashbrook site. I do not think Lott can survive this (and I hope he doesn’t). This is very chaotic at the moment and not in the Republican Party’s interest since Lott (and others) are kowtowing to group based politics. However, the game is by no means finished. I have reason to think that a great deal of good might come out of it all: The GOP will have to talk about these matters and make the case for the basis of individual rights. They have always shied away from this because they were afraid; they now have no choice. And the President will have to take the lead; I am betting that he will because he must, both for the sake of right and for his own preservation. I trust his (and Rove’s) judgment on this matter.

Rallying on behalf of the Gipper

Time magazine’s premier race-baiter Jack White attacks Reagan as a racist this week in a completely scurrilous piece. I have offered a refutation today on National Review Online, which you can read here

Clark Entertains Presidential Bid

Here is an interesting article suggesting that former NATO supreme commander Wesley Clark is weighing a presidential bid on the Democratic ticket. As the article suggests, a Clark candidacy would give the Dems an asset they lack: a potentially strong and credible voice on national security and foreign affairs.

And How Did You Get Elected in Arkansas, Mr. Clinton?

President Clinton entered the Lott fray, accusing the Republican party of being hypocritical for criticizing Lott. CNN reports that Clinton said of Republicans: "How do they think they got a majority in the South anyway?" While he attempted to back up the statement with allegations of attempts to suppress Black voter turnout, the presumption inherent in his initial question seems to be that to be elected in the South, you must appeal to racism. Which begs one question: how is it that you think you got elected in Arkansas, Mr. Clinton?

Lott and the Michigan Case

The New York Times editorializes this morning that the Bush administration should offer a brief to the Supreme Court in favor of affirmative action, especially in light of Lott’s recent statements:

With Trent Lott’s recent remarks casting doubt on the Republican Party’s commitment to racial equality, there is more reason than ever for the administration to stand up for affirmative action.

They just don’t get it. Just because one member of a party makes an comment which tacitly supports a discriminatory policy does not mean that the proper response is counter with a Justice Department brief in favor of yet another racially discriminatory policy. Two equal protection wrongs do not make a right, particularly where, as here, the affirmative action policies are not tied to any notion of remedying the present effects of past discrimination, but are offered as justified in their own right.

The Times concludes:

In its brief to the Supreme Court, the Bush administration should say willingly what Mr. Lott said under pressure — that it sees carefully drawn affirmative action programs as the best way of opening up opportunity to all Americans.

This, of course, is one of the major problems with affirmative action policies for the sake of diversity at universities: they are not "carefully drawn." It took this lawsuit to get the University of Michigan to abandon its previous admissions policy, under which 100% of White applicants were rejected with entrance GPA and SAT scores in ranges which garnered minority groups approved for preferences nearly guaranteed admission. The new admission policies, while more subtle in their discrimination, are discriminatory nonetheless.

But of course the Times and liberal supporters really don’t care if it is carefully drawn or narrowly tailored. To demonstrate the point, I was on a cable talk show in New York about 6 years ago discussing the Hopwood case, which struck down the admission system at the University of Texas. The Texas system was so blatant they had zones in which applicants were automatically admitted or denied based on nothing other than their scores and race. They even color coded applications so that there was no mistaking which admissions pool the applicant fell into. The leader of a liberal advocacy group who was on the panel with me dismissed the practices at Texas, saying (and I paraphrase) "oh, well that activity was always impermissible. We are concerned with upholding narrowly tailored programs." While this may have been an accurate statement of what was or should have been required under the Equal Protection Clause, it was not an accurate statement of the public views of the group, which had opposed us in the Hopwood litigation--that is, they supported the "always impermissible" policies of the University. Similarly, I do not recall the Times ever saying that an affirmative action plan at a university was wrong because it wasn’t closely tailored, at least not before a court struck the program down. Let us then be serious: the affirmative action policies at universities are not carefully or narrowly tailored, and the Times does not care if they are, so long as the end numbers come out right.

Kristol on Coy Republicans

Bill Kristol has a wonderful piece in today’s WaPo on the problem of Republican leaders’ coy response to Lott. He wonders:

The hints and the feints and the background quotes are getting tiresome. Isn’t Republican honor in danger of turning into dust? And, if the evasions continue until Jan. 6, won’t the lusty exuberance of the president’s remarkable Nov. 5 election triumph be reduced to ashes?

It is a must read, particularly for Krisol’s reference to Churchill on the "boneless wonders" who wander freak shows and the halls of government.

How Big Should the DC Circuit Be?

The Post runs an editorial this morning calling for the Judicial Conference to examine whether the DC Circuit needs 12 judges before Bush sends nominations for the 11th and 12th seats. The question arises because members of the Senate and D.C. Circuit Judge Silberman have long argued that 10 is enough. Whatever the final count is, the court is currently understaffed, with by my count 8 sitting judges. Look for Senate Democrats to attempt to use this as an issue to block Estrada to the ninth position, saying that the study on the size of the circuit should be done first--despite the fact that no one disputes that there is a need to fill at least two more judgeships.

Lott Lashes Out at White House

The signs of desperation are growing. WaPo reports that Lott was critical of the White House for leaks which are unfavorable to him. Note to the soon to be ex-Majority Leader: leaks are the nice way of saying "In the name of God, Go!" Those with a modicum of sense and reflection would take that hint (and probably would not have made the offensive statement at Strom’s party, for that matter). If the White House stops speaking on background, they are likely to start speaking on the record. Take a hint.

In the race for Majority Leader, the Post suggests that some Republicans felt that Nickles statement calling for Lott to step aside was opportunistic. Frist therefore is playing it cool, and using the classic line that he would only run if he was recruited by Republicans. Translation: he’s probably campaigning behind the scenes more than anyone for the position.

Technical Difficulties

The site was down most of the morning due to technical problems with the server. Our apologies to those of you who could not get through sooner.

Lott Affirmative Action Concession May Be Spreading

WaPo reports this morning that the Bush Administration is split on whether to weigh in on the University of Michigan affirmative action case. Side note: to the headline writers at the Post, it is a discrimination case, not a bias case. This is actually not too big a surprise, and is just a little bit of history repeating itself. Ted Olson, the U.S. Solicitor General, reportedly is eager to take a position against the Michigan programs. He knows the issue well: he was counsel for Cheryl Hopwood in the landmark case of Hopwood v. Texas, which struck down the discriminatory admissions system at the University of Texas. President Bush was Governor at the time, and refused to take an official stance during the litigation. Indeed his office was adamant in their silence.

White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales is reported to be among the key White House advocates against weighing in on the issue, because of fears that this will impair Bush’s ability to appeal to Hispanic voters. This is something to keep an eye on, because Gonzales is considered the leading nominee for the next U.S. Supreme Court opening. At best, the statement suggests that he is willing to compromise taking a stand on the principle of equal protection for votes; at worst, it suggests that he has a one-way ratchet view of equal protection (EP applies to "bad" discrimination, but not "well-intentioned" discrimination). Neither suggests well for his jurisprudence.

Of course, the entire issue is complicated by Lott’s statements, which is likely to leave the administration running for cover. It is unlikely that Bush will make the mistake that Lott made on BET, in which he flipped on affirmative action to mitigate his political losses, but Lott’s statements make it far more likely that Bush will reserve his judgment until the Court releases its judgment.

The Last Throw of the Dice

Lott’s strategy should now be obvious from his craven performance on BET (i.e., betraying all Republican principles to save his hide). Rather than resigning the Senate and potentially throwing it into Democratic hands until a special election can be held, he has prepared the way to switch parties, thus depriving the GOP of the seat for the next four years.

Think about it: he has staked out Democratic party positions, and the Dems are clearly more forgiving of people like Robert Byrd, Klansman and race-baiter, than Republicans are. Remember, too, that Lott’s brother in law, Dick Scruggs, is among the most rapacious trial lawyers (and Democrat supporters) in the country, which means we can’t count on Lott to help out the much-needed tort reform agenda.

In the name of God, Go.

Right now the Lott saga is proceeding according to the usual byzantine Washington routine, with the endgame being dragged out with the usual winks, nods, confirmations by omission, etc. What is needed to stop the bleeding the the lingering damage this is doing to the GOP is for a leading Republican Senator to step forward and say to Lott, as Leo Amery said to Neville Chamberlain on May 7, 1940 in the House of Commons: "You have sat here too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go."

(Amery was of course quoting Cromwell’s words to the Long Parliament when he thought is was no longer fit to conduct the affairs of the nation. This is for thos eof you who jumped on me for misremembering Nixon on Laugh-In. This is no Laugh-In.)

Mississippi Election Law & The Governor’s Race

Commenter Gary Maxwell’s summary of Mississippi election law is essentially correct, with a picky clarification (if Lott resigns next year, the election will be held in November, and not in a year). MS Code SEC. 23-15-855 provides that the governor must call a special election within 90 days of a vacancy unless one of two things is true: 1) the unexpired term of office is less than a year (which is not a problem here, because Lott’s term isn’t up till January 2007); or 2) the vacancy occurs in a year in which there is a general or congressional election, in which case the governor sets the election to fill the seat at the time of the general election, and appoints a Senator in the interim. It so happens that there is a general election on November 4, 2003 for Governor and other assorted state offices.

Bottom line: if Lott resigns by December 31, 2002, then the Governor would have to call an election within 90 days, and could appoint a replacement only until the results are certified. If, however, Lott resigns on January 1, 2003 of later, then the Governor is required to set the election at the time of the general election, which is in November.

Maxwell asked who the Republicans would be running for Governor in MS. My understanding is that Haley Barbour, who served as Chairman of the RNC from 1993-1996, intends to run.

Lott’s "cave on principle"

Robert Alt writes that I was optimistic on how Lott would perform on BET, not anticipating that "Lott would cave on principle." Lott, and principle? Rush has been merciless to Lott today.

Masugi’s Optimistic Assessment

It seems that Masugi was optimistic in his assessment of Lott’s performance. While correct in his assessment that Lott would be a buffoon, he failed to prognosticate that Lott would cave on principle. Here are excerpts of Lott from WaPo’s transcript of the BET interview:

GORDON: What about affirmative action?

LOTT: I’m for that. I think you should reach out to people...

GORDON: Across the board?

LOTT: Absolutely, across the board. That’s why I’m so proud of my own alma mater now, University of Mississippi, that obviously had a difficult time in the 60s and 70s, now led by an outstanding chancellor, Robert Khayat, that has gotten rid of the Confederate flag, that has now has an institute of reconciliation, that has a leadership...

GORDON: Yet your votes in the past have not suggested that you are for affirmative action.

LOTT: I am for affirmative action. And I practice it. I have had African-Americans on my staff, and other minorities, but particularly African-Americans, since the mid-1970s.

I have had a particular program...

GORDON: But to have one on one’s staff--you understand the difference, though, to have a black on your staff and to push legislation that would help African-Americans, minorities across the board, are completely different.

LOTT: You know, again, you cam [sic] get into arguments about timetables and quotas.

Here’s what I think, though. I think you’ve got to have an aggressive effort in America to make everybody have a chance.

Harvard has a program where one in three of their students are alumni children. That’s--you know, we need to balance this out more, and I think that we should encourage minorities to have an opportunity across the board. And a number of states have done that in unique ways, University of Texas is one of them.

Lott clearly tried to walk a line, and suggest a distinction between outreach and quotas, but his endorsement will be seen as an endorsement of the policies of the University of Michigan (and perhaps the Ol’ Miss), which does not simply provide outreach but gives a hard preference on the basis of race.

Fighting Words and Mississippi

I’m crashing to finish a project here at my day job, but as soon as I am able I will address Lucas’s question about Chaplinsky fighting words and the relevance of this doctrine to the cross burning case, and Pestritto’s question about what happens if Lott resigns, which turns both on politics and on Mississippi election law.

On Justice Thomas

Agreed on how to interpret the First Amendment’s "the freedom of speech." I don’t know whether Justice Thomas reads the First Amendment that way or not, but as Robert Alt, JD, suggests, he may well.

The other arguments Alt, Esq., raises suggest how Justice Thomas is a natural law thinker-- he goes to the constitutional heart of the problem and maintains the principles of the regime, all derived from natural rights. Thus, he is the purest "originalist" on the Court because of his natural law orientation.

The Evolution of Blondes

This may be an amusing way to end the day. It is a Reuters dispatch from London about a woman who has written a book on blonde locks (and created an exhibition "on their startling evolution" for the National Portrait Gallery). Blondes are now being taken more seriously, the lady asserts, and the tale starts with Aphrodite and Diana (no, the English princess) and Maggie and Madonna with her "hard working hair" (she sells more records when she is a blonde).

Virginia v. Black (cross-burning case)

Virginia Code 18.2-423, the cross burning statute, states:

It shall be unlawful for any person or persons, with the intent of intimidating any person or group of persons, to burn, or cause to be burned, a cross on the property of another, a highway or other public place. Any person who shall violate any provision of this section shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.

Any such burning of a cross shall be
prima facie evidence of an intent to
a person or group of persons. (Emphasis added.)

That second part is a big problem. The mere burning of a cross constitutes initial evidence of intent to intimidate, which places the burden on the defendant to show he did not mean to intimidate. The Supreme Court does not like to read the 1st Amendment as placing the burden of defending one’s free speech on the individual; instead, the govt must prove its case that someone’s speech does not deserve protection.

Otherwise, a govt statute prohibiting this or that form of expression has a "chilling effect" on speech, as folks decide not to speak for fear of prosecution.

Now, cross-burning might be legitimately prohibited IF it can be covered under the "fighting words" category of unprotected speech. Robert Alt, esq., chime in here whenever you are ready. I just don’t like the view that blacks or Catholics (or whatever minority group of individuals) deserve govt protection ONLY if
their sensibilities are offended. Rights are not supposed to be that alienable. As Ken Masugi noted, this sends us back to Kennedy’s bad opinion in Lee V. Weisman, or Warren’s inane argument (though not result) in Brown v. Board.

Souter’s remark about the supposedly Pavlovian response of blacks to burning crosses is condescending in the extreme; moreover, I don’t think Scalia’s bit about blacks preferring to see a man with a rifle in their yard as opposed to seeing him burn a cross is much different.

Also, Ginsburg was just plain idiotic to say that you can burn a flag because "anyone can attack the government" and then say burning a cross was different because it means "attacking people, threatening life and limb." In one of the cases grouped under Virginia v. Black, the racist yahoos got permission from a private citizen to burn a cross on her yard. How does this threaten life and limb? What is considered under law an intimidating act? Does the Nazi symbol now qualify as verboten
under the 1st Amendment?

Thomas on Free Speech

Masugi is right that Justice Thomas has a manly understanding of liberty, and this is particularly true in the First Amendment context. Anyone who is unfamiliar with his free speech bona fides need only look to his opinions regarding political speech to understand that this is someone who uniquely understands both the importance and the limitations of liberty.

While most of the press focused on how experience likely shaped Thomas’s questions, I believe that it was his understanding of what constitutes the proper bounds of constitutional liberty that provided the foundation for his inquiry. More than any other Justice, Thomas takes seriously the Founder’s understanding of the Constitution, and his questions therefore seem consistent with the idea that the term "Freedom" in the First Amendment is actually a term of limitation. To see what I mean, it is useful to examine the words: the First Amendment does not say that "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging speech . . ." but rather "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech" (emphasis added). Thus, for the Founders, the freedom of speech was not unbounded, and did not include, for example, the right to disturb the peace. A wise friend of mine suggested that Thomas’s questions seemed to bear on this distinction--a proposition I now open to Masugi et al.

Oh, and "still less than a man," . . . that was harsh. I actually considered the lawyer comment a compliment by comparison, especially coming from Schramm.

Lott, what else?

I dare say, Lott’s decision to go on the BET show this evening is precisely what’s wrong with the man. He thinks that blacks are just another constituency that can be appeased-- Wait a second, he’s thinking like a . . . Democrat. So THAT’s what’s wrong with him!

Why can’t he be satisfied that he was GOP leader for a stretch, sit himself down for the sake of the NEW Republican majority (and leader)--and thereby help Bush get done what most GOPers want him to get done--but fulfill his responsibilities to his state by staying in office (and denying the Demos another seat in the Senate), and eat his humble pie in peace, far from the madding crowd? My goodness, I thought politicians were supposed to have the stomach for these sort of things.

Lott on BET

Can he outdo Gore, McCain, Jackson, et al., on SNL? BET predictions:

a. Lott will appear in blackface
b. He will do the hambone
c. He will devour watermelon
d. He will allow eaten-up chicken wings to be thrown at him.
e. All of the above
f. None of the above, but he’ll manage to make a buffoon of himself nonetheless.

The Drumbeat Continues

NR’s editors today call for Lott to step aside and allow someone else to take the position of majority leader. Because some reader’s of NLT have suggested that we need to "screw our courage to the sticking place" and support Lott because times are tough and the accusations are at times overstated, I offer NR’s conclusion:

Many conservatives will be tempted to defend Lott because of the nature of some of the attacks on him. It’s an understandable impulse. But it is possible for someone simultaneously to suffer unfair attacks, handle himself and his predicament poorly, and be an underwhelming political figure. Trent Lott has managed a trifecta. For NR to rally to his side now would amount to defending him because he is being accused of racism. We usually pride ourselves on being fair-weather critics of, and foul-weather friends to, conservative politicians. Lott is in for a long bout of foul weather. But we can’t be loyal to a Majority Leader who we didn’t support in the first place.

I would simply add that not all the attacks appear to be unfair, and fair or not, these attacks will continue as long as Lott remains in a position that makes him a leader in the party. The continuing presence of these attacks is not necessarily a reason to abandon Lott as Majority Leader--but his lackluster support for the principles of the party of Lincoln is.

Dowd, Thomas

Well done, "more than a lawyer" (but still less than a man?) Alt, on Maureen Dowd’s put-down of Justice Thomas. We need to compare her to Trent Lott. It really is the same phenomenon of regarding blacks as an instrument for a political agenda at odds with the Declaration of Independence.

To deepen this argument: Lucas Morel was bothered by Justice Thomas’s arguments about burning crosses terrorizing blacks and therefore not qualifying as speech. Is this not akin to the psychological effects arguments made by Justice Kennedy in that Rhode Island school prayer case, Lee v. Weisman, and of course to the doll test in Brown?

As usual, Lucas is on to something. But, based on my reading of the Justices’ questioning as reported, the thrust of Justice Thomas’s remarks difers from thatof the others. I believe it was Kennedy (again!) who used the term "Pavlovian" about blacks’ reaction to a burning cross. But Thomas was referring to something more like Justice Scalia’s example of brandishing a gun. Thomas stands for manliness in his understanding of constitutional liberty, most of the other Justices for lower principles.

By the way, on the Klan and the use of the seemingly bland and neutral statement "separation of church and state," see Philip Hamburger’s book of that title. There he lays a convincing case that this ACLU-liberal slogan was the darling slogan of the KKK, as it waged war against Catholics, even to the point of inviting black Protestants into their fanatical crusade.

Big Bro Smells a Rat

Better put on my cologne . . . This from Secrecy News:

DARPA is "soliciting innovative proposals to (1) determine whether
genetically-determined odortypes can be used to identify specific
individuals, and if so (2) to develop the science and enabling
technology for detecting and identifying specific individuals by
such odortypes."

See DARPA’s presolicitation notice for the "Odortype Detection
Program," :


Are Lott’s Days Numbered?

The AP reports that Senate Republicans will meet on January 6, the day before the Senate convenes, to decide what to do about Lott. If this report is accurate, look for Lott to do some strong-arming and vote counting leading up to the 6th. If the votes aren’t there and he can’t get them there, he won’t wait for the meeting, but will in all probability pull himself out of the running for Majority Leader.

Arafat Scolds bin Laden

Arafat has demanded that bin Laden stop using the Paletinian issue as a reason for his terrorist attacks. I’m glad to hear this, but I wonder why Arafat had to wait almost a year and a half after September 11 to say this!

Goodnight, Dick

The Nixon appearance on Laugh In was the opener of the second season,
September 16th, 1968. Candidate Nixon turned to the camera, and said
it to me?" in an episode where everyone in the cast, except Judy Carne
was the "socked" girl in the first season) got hit with stuff after
the line.

No, Nixon didn’t get hit with anything, not even the bucket of water.
was the last "sock it" reference, and the punch line to the running gag
the show. That’s why the line is in the form of a question. See?

According to the producer of the show, it took six takes before Nixon
deliver the line without sounding angry or offended.

According to one authority on the topic, "Hubert Humphrey had been
by Laugh in to do a similar cameo bit, but after consulting with his
advisors, Humphrey turned the opportunity down as being beneath his

Thomas’s Rejection of Intellectual Servitude

As an antidote to the Dowd column, I commend to you Justice Thomas’s speech before the National Bar Association. It is worth quoting at length:

I have come here today not in anger or to anger, though my mere presence has been sufficient, obviously, to anger some. Nor have I come to defend my views, but rather to assert my right to think for myself, to refuse to have my ideas assigned to me as though I was an intellectual slave because I’m black.

I come to state that I’m a man, free to think for myself and do as I please.

I’ve come to assert that I am a judge and I will not be consigned the unquestioned opinions of others.

But even more than that, I have come to say that isn’t it time to move on? Isn’t it time to realize that being angry with me solves no problems?

Alt on Dowd’s Racism

I am not normally in favor of praising Alt, but I think he nails Dowd to the wall on the post below. Well done, for a lawyer.

Why Lott Cannot Stay Leader

I had a chance to look at Bush’s remarks on Lott in Philadelphia last week, and it seemed stronger when I read it (than having heard a few lines on the news). If Lott isn’t replaced as GOP leader in the Senate, Bush loses. Because a Republican president can’t lose a battle like this, Lott will be out. It will take a few more days for the Senators to see this, but they will, and you can be assured that the White House (not excluding Rove) will help them see it (not publicly, of course, until the very end where the White House will say it welcomes new leadership). Andrew Sullivan is good on this in the latest issue of Time.

Dowd’s Racism

Maureen Dowd has a dreadful column in yesterday’s New York Times on the Lott issue. What made it "dreadful" was the last line. After pointing out the racial mistakes of the would-be Majority Leader’s career, she compared him to Clarence Thomas, who offered a passionate denunciation of the cross burning last week. Dowd concluded: "You know you’re in trouble when Clarence Thomas is playing Martin Luther King to your David Duke."

Let’s analyze this for a moment. Why would she say this? Anyone who actually follows the Court, rather than someone who simply accepts the liberal spin about Thomas without thinking for herself, knows that he is quite impassioned about these issues. Indeed, the last time there was a Klan speech case before the Court involving the placement by the Klan of a cross on the Columbus Capitol grounds, he offered not only his thoughts during oral arguments but a separate opinion to clarify that a cross is not a religious symbol to the Klan, but one with deep overtones of racism and threat.

One quickly turns to the affirmative action cases as the cause for Dowd’s comments. It seems that Dowd falls in with the camp which finds that you are not truly "Black" unless you embrace affirmative action. To do otherwise makes you an "Uncle Tom,"--and who better to make such implicit assertions than an elite White journalist at the New York Times? There are some racists who seek to place chains on men’s legs, and to physically separate them based on their color, and there are other racists who would shackle men’s minds, and who seek not physical separation, but separation based on racially "appropriate" thought. Both are pernicious, and it appears that Dowd subscribes to the latter theory.

Gore is not Running

Apparently Gore announced in a (taped) interview for 60 Minutes that he will not run in 2004, or "this time around." Maybe Masugi’s cryptic comment below can be explained in this way: he is hoping for an inconclusive primary season, and then get the Demo convention to ask him to carry the flag. Although anything is possible (a Nixon-like comeback?), yet, I don’t think so. I think he tested the waters and decided that he couldn’t warm it up. After all, the more TV appearances he made, the fewer books he sold. He took this to mean something. And it does. Now we shall see if Senator Lieberman is man enough to run as a moderate. I think this will make primary season (and Spring training) very interesting.

In the meantime, Clinton--speaking in Rotterdam--said "We drew up plans to destroy the reactor," and he told
Pyongyang the facility would be attacked unless it were frozen. Don’t you just love politics? Why would anyone want to study physics?

Burn his Books!

O.K. I got the message from a few rowdies (not only Masugi) that Steve Hayward misquoted Nixon; he didn’t say "baby," he just said, "sock it to me." They are sure of his error, although none have offered ocular proof and truth be told I can’t remember Nixon saying it, nor how old I was at the time. Yet, I take them at their word. So what is the proper course of action? I will go halfway to Mr. Lamb’s recommendation: I will not remove Hayward as an Adjunct Fellow, but more in sorrow than in anger I will remove all the benefits thereof, forthwith.

Gore seeks "viabiilty"

Saying he won’t run is his best chance at getting the nomination again.

Louisiana Election Details

For those of you curious to know the details of the Louisiana Senate runoff take a look at Patrick Ruffini’s blog (date 12-12). It’s pretty good. Note especially the paragraph on how blacks voted; Terrell seems to have received fewer votes from predominately black districts in the runoff than she did in the Novemeber vote. The maps are also useful.

Correcting a distinguished historian

Steve Hayward misquotes Nixon’s line on Laugh-In: I believe he said "Sock it to me?" But others present for this world-historical moment may have yet another account.

As Charles Kesler’s annual Christmas party wound down (raves to Sally for the wonderful menu, though there was no turducken), I managed to catch part of Gore’s appearance on SNL. I can no more imagine him being a good comedian than being a good President.

Berkeley Mayor a Thief

Perhaps this is not surprising: If you call yourself a progressive, you can get away with anything, including stealing a thousand newspapers that endorses your opponent in the city that is the home of "free speech."

Monica Banned from Italian TV Show

This is just plain amusing, in part because it is surprising. Monica Lewinsky was to appear on an Italian talk show and there was a bit of an outrage, so her paid visit was cancelled.

Russian Super Sniffer Dogs now at Work

NRO brought this to my attention, from the London Telegraph. The Russians have created a new breed of dog, with a superior ability to sniff things, including guns and bombs. They are using it at airports; forty have been bred. They are part Turkmen jackal and Siberian Husky.

If You Want War, then Prepare for Peace

Niall Ferguson has a thoughtful meditation on the current war and how Clausewitz fits into it, in today’s New York Times Magazine. I think this is especially thoughtful and worth reading, note especially the parallels he draws between the U.S.’s position now and that of the Brits in the 19th century and what that has to do with "pre-emptive" wars. Do read this (registration required).

Nickles calls for vote on Lott

Since I slept through the talk shows I only now caught that Senator Don Nickles has called on the GOP to have an election for new leader. This is the story from theWashington Post. This is good news, and it surely means that Lott will not survive, especially if he doesn’t have Bush’s support, which he doesn’t. It is all over for him, in my opinion. What I’m guessing should happen is that over the next few days/weeks, it will become clear to Lott that he will not survive and therefore will resign, as a matter of (Southern) honor, rather than allowing for a vote. That’s what should happen. And Nickles just might be elected as leader as a result of his early and proper stance.

Lott Ought to be Ousted

Much that is true and useful has been said on this blog by my friends, so I will not add more to it than to say that Lott ought to go, and it seems to me that conservatives ought to be the ones urging his exit from the leadership position, and continue to do it on principled grounds. See this from Ken Masugi, and then this editorial from The New York Sun. Furthermore, it is no longer a viable argument to say that the Demos are using this for political purposes (which they are; surprise!) or that Lott is getting harsher treatment than someone else on their side (for example, Byrd). This no longer matters. Lott is foolish, if not stupid, and he shouldn’t be allowed to bring further mischief to the party fo Lincoln. If he continues to be so obstinate in what he perceives as his self-interest by staying as majority lader, then he ought to be ousted. Are there not a half-dozen Republican Senators willing to call for a vote in the caucus?

LOTR Continued

I was pleased to see Hayward’s blog on LOTR, and in fact spent a good chunk of last evening reading the book in anticipation of the movie. Something tells me that this was time more pleasantly spent than the alternative of watching Gore Live.

LOTR Scorecard

We’re less than 48 hours away from the opening of The Two Towers, the second installment of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I gave the first installment a B grade after seeing it in the theatre, mostly because I thought the music was too loud and dominated the film. But this is typical of most movies and theatres these days, which have overinvested in sound systems; and when I saw Fellowship again on DVD, I had a better impression of it--a B+.

The book is impossible to fully adapt into even a three-part film, but the key criteria for judging the effort is the extent to which the filmakers remain true to Tolkien’s moral teaching. The first movie passed the test by keeping in one of Gandalf’s major speeches (thugh they moved it from near the beginning in the book to the mines of Moria in the film), where Frodo suggests that Gollum deserved death from the hand of Bilbo.

"Deserves it!" Gandalf says; "I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Do not be so eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."

The criteria for The Two Towers will be whether they keep Aragorn’s reply to Eomer’s question "How shall a man judge what to do in such times?" Aragorn’s answer gives Tolkien’s attack on modern moral relativism: "As he has ever judged. Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house."

Early word is that The Two Towers is better than the first installment in terms of a filmgoing spectacle. But to have any chance at getting an A grade from me, Aragorn’s line must survive.

Tricky Al

I didn’t stay up last night to watch Al Gore, comedian, host Saturday Night Live, but it does deepen the parallels between Gore and Richard Nixon. During Nixon’s long comback before running again in 1968, he made a cameo appearance on "Laugh-In," to deliver the line, "Sock it to me, baby!"

We didn’t, but he did.