Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Is Diversity Good?

Harry V.Jaffa is right in principle in beating up on Bush for saying that he is for diversity (which, Jaffa reminds us, really means quotas to the bad guys) in a regime that stands for e pluribus unum. Now to translate that into political practice under these corrupt circumstances; we turn to someone with phronesis. Very good, tarry over the one coffee.

Terrorists and Chemical Weapons

There are some interesting facts (or surmises) being pieced together resulting (in part) from the recent arrests of terrorists in London who had the poison ricin. It is now thought that the Pankisi Gorge area of Georgia was (and still might be) the heart of the problem. The Georgians said they killed all these guys last year; well, it’s now clear that they didn’t kill all of them (or any) but let them leave. Many have headed to Europe and are well trained and organized; affiliated with al-Qaeda or Ansar al-Islam.
This will get more interesting, and possibly more clear.

Rice on preferences

Black Hawk Up!

If Iraq War, When

This is a clear explanation by Michael O’Hanlon (Brookings) of when the war is likely to start against Iraq, if there is to be one. The short of it is that Bush will have to make the decision to go to war within about the next two weeks if he wants to avoid fighting in the heat of the Iraqi summer. O’Hanlon says that forty days will be needed after the decision is made for the final pieces to be in place in order for the war to start. Good detail. One coffee.

Briefs Against Univ of Michigan

A quick perusal of the federal govt’s amicus briefs against the University of Michigan’s affirmative action policies show that Bush, Ted Olson et al. are playing to win. Notwithstanding my beef that Bush conceded the "compelling state interest" argument by accepting racial diversity as an "important goal" (a point made in his Thursday remarks and reiterated in the _Grutter_ brief), IHMO Bush will win this case 5-4 by directing the Court’s attention solely to the narrowly tailored prong of the strict scrutiny test.

In the _Grutter_ (law school) brief, Olson does this by splitting the tailoring prong into two components. As for the _Gratz_ (undergrad) brief, Lord have mercy on the University of Michigan when it becomes national news--if the Court follows the feds’ brief--that Michigan explicitly violated the _Bakke_ prohibition against quotas (i.e., seats set aside for racial minorities). As late as 1997 or 1998, twenty years after _Bakke_, the university used separate grids and tables (or cells or what have you) for minorities applicants! We all suspected many schools were doing this, but without getting hauled into court, U Michigan and many other colleges have been violating _Bakke_ with impunity.

These years (1995-1998) aside, Olson still goes after Michigan for policies in subsequent years that act as de facto quotas and that unnecessarily use race to achieve diversity when non-racial alternatives exist. I’m not sure how this last argument will hold up, esp. given how recent the high school percentage plans used in California, Texas, and Florida have been in place.

Still, I think Bush wins this one. I’m impressed. I’m not satisfied that the Supremes still think they (and the rest of govt) can decide for themselves when race is bad and when race is good in govt actions. The question is, will a victory in this case help or hinder progress in reading the Constitution as color-blind?

Moseley-Braun Will Run

Not for Senator from Illinois (she lost her seat in 1998) but for president in the Democratic primary. Notice Brazile’s delicate comments on all this. I think everyone is being too delicate, to the Demos disadvantage. But this really shouldn’t be surprising, given that no ill word has been spoken about Al Sharpton who has no right to run, whereas Moseley-Braun just shouldn’t.

Korea Follies?

Krauthammer hits the Bush Administration hard on its policy (or seeming lack of) toward North Korea. I am not yet willing to go this far because I am willing to A) see the amazing complications of this issue, and B) have enough trust in our guys to give them the benefit of the doubt, for now. But I’m paying attention.

Chemical Warheads Found

Let’s be perfectly clear about this discovery. This is a violation of the UN resolution. Saddam lied. Und das ist alles! It’s over. The rest are technicalities, when to overthrow him and how to overthrow him. I am guessing that the low-keyed responses from the Admininstration are acts of diplomacy at this point, no one is getting too excited because they know they have won. Furthermore, there will be more revelations, almost certainly. I will also be interested in seeing what will come of those searches of the scientists’ private residences and the conversations with them. So, things are lining up more or less as planned. This still doesn’t mean that there will be a war (as that is ordinarily understood, anyway); there may be a coup or he may leave. It’s just a matter of counting days and weeks.

Oriana Fallaci on the West

This is a speech Fallaci gave last October at the American Enterprise Institute. It is a summary of her book, The Rage and the Pride. Short, one coffee.

North Korea and Non-proliferation

Henry Sokolski has a perfectly rational piece in the new issue of The Weekly Standard on why North Korea cannot be trusted and how to go about dealing with them.

Rice and the Michigan Case

This Washington Post newstory states that Condi Rice spoke with the President a number of times, at length, about her opposition to racial quotas. The fact that she was Provost at Stanford, no doubt, was useful for her arguament. More will come out on this but for now I am for one grateful that she stepped into the domestic issues realm when she could have stayed out of it by practicing low level "prudence."

Three Cheers for Rice

Good story in the Washington Post today about the influence of Condoleeza Rice on Bush’s decision to oppose the Michigan racial preferences policy. It tells us two things: Bush listened to Rice, and not Powell, about the issue. Rice, unlike Powell, has first-hand academic experience, having been provost of Stanford, and has seen close-up how corrupt is the regime of racial preferences. (Full disclosure, as they say: Rice was my wife’s academic adviser at Stanford in the early 1980s; they arrived at Stanford the same year.)

Al Sharpton’s "ugly record"

Jeff Jacoby writes in the Boston Globe about Sharpton’s "ugly record" as a "vicious liar" and a "dangerous bigot" and contrasts it with the kind of reception he is getting from (Democratic) politicians. Interesting that no Democrat denounces him; compare this to the Lott issue.

Saudi Push for an Iraq Coup

This is from Time . It is a variation of the same theme that keeps coming up; how to remove Saddam peacefully from power for the sake of stability in the region, fear of war, etc.
"They are trying to stage manage the removal of Saddam,"
says a Western diplomat. "The level of Arab anxiety about the war is sky high." Worth a quick read.

1964 "Daisy Ad" Revived

An anti-war group has created a copy-cat version of the notorious ad that the LBJ campaign used against Goldwater in 1964 (the ad only ran once). The ad--showing a little girl picking daisies in a field, followed by a nuclear cloud--will be shown in media outlets starting today. It’s purpose is to "let the inspections work." It is clear that the real purpose of the ad is to get media attention for the ad and for the anti-war campaign; no doubt it will succeed in doing that. I bet it will be on every news program in every outlet for the next two days. I guess all that publicity is worth the $400,00 they say it cost. The organization that is running the ad was created in 1998 to lobby against the impeachment of Clinton. Sometimes I’m too angry to comment.

North Korea as Gulag

This MSNBC story makes brutally that North Korea is a tyranny. It only differs from the regimes run by Stalin, Mao, and Hitler in size, not in principle and not in what it does to human beings. "Power into will, will into appetite,/ And appetite, an universal wolf." Don’t read it if your faint-hearted.

Post-Industrial War

Michael Barone has an interesting meditation on how war fighting has changed; he compares the Gulf War (never mind WW II) with how we are likely to fight Iraq only twelve years later. Interesting and true, but, keeping in mind David Tucker’s piece, it is incomplete. You might also want to read Mac Owens on "the two major theatre war" force planning metric.

Literature of Regret

George Will has a lovely column on Loman, Babbitt, and Schmidt (the movie) and how the haunting sense of regret about time wasted is a timeless theme of literature. Read it and do something interesting. I have a political parties class this morning.

Bush’s Speech on the Michigan Case

Here is his speech on the University of Michigan affirmative action case.

Finding Terrorists

This is a thoughtful piece by David Tucker on how to understand the use of America’s Special Operations Forces (SOF). You know these guys: they live with the people they need to know, they ride horses and call in precise bombs using cool techno-gizmos. They are all steely eyed, bearded, native-looking guys who get more calm and confident as the pressure increases. In short, they’re not your typical sociology professor. Tucker has a serious point for us (and Rumsfeld): In this kind of warfare it is much more difficult to find the enemy than it is to kill him; the opposite is true in conventional warfare. The problem now is not a firepower problem, it is an intelligence problem. Tucker suspects that the folks at Defense don’t quite see this as clearly as they should (witness the order to SOF’s to be clean shaven and to dress in regular uniforms!). Hence they are hindering the real work of the SOF’s. A must read.

Popular Baby Names

OK, if you have nothing better to do this may amuse you. The Social Security Administration (no, I’m not looking into retirement!) has a site on baby names. It looks a little complicated at first, but it turns out not to be. For example, glance at the male names from 1960 to 1997 and you will discover that Michael continued its popularity. Not only amusing, but I bet some of you can make something political out of it all. For example, by the 1980’s "Justin" starts appearing, and in the 1990’s "Tyler" appears. I’m afraid to look at the female names. I am sure that at some point they all become "Taylor," "Tiffany," and "Brittany."

The World at Night

You may remember a few weeks back Rumsfeld made a reference to this photo of the world at night (it’s about two years old). The amazing thing about it is that if you look at Japan (many lights) and go a bit over North-West you will see the Korean penninsula and note that South Korea is well lighted and North Korea is dark, dark beneath its yoke, darker than Bangladesh. Worth a look.

Back in Trouble

One of the 177 people Clinton pardoned in his last days (and the one who payed Hugh Rodham, Hillary’s brother, $200,000) has been nabbed for dodging circa $20 million in taxes.

Bush and Blair Will Meet 1/31

The fact that Bush and Blair have scheduled a meeting for January 31st (at Camp David) indicates that the threat of action will be taken seriously at about the assumed time. Of course, it still might be argued that the threat of the war will make some (surprising) things happen without war. The meeting is scheduled for three days after the President’s State of the Union talk and four days after the Security Council meeting with the weapons inspectors. In short, crunch time.

Haley Barbour to run for Governor of Mississippi

"Republican Haley Barbour has sent potential donors a letter confirming he will
run for Mississippi governor this year," according to the Clarion-Ledger. His formal announcement will come later.


I’m teaching a Shakespeare seminar this semester ("Shakespeare and Rome") and last night was the first class; we are reading the three Roman plays. Began with the last few lines of the Symposium and then right into Coriolanus; bracing, austere, hard stuff, no pleasantries, nothing but turmoil and war, civil and foreign. "Get you home, you fragments." I love that line. Anyway, I caught this nice essay on Macbeth by Theodore Dalrymple, "Why Shakespeare is For All Time" in the City Journal that is a three coffee read. "I think nothing equals Macbeth," Lincoln wrote in 1863. I am reminded of Lincoln reading from Macbeth on the boat after he visited the fallen Richmond in 1865. "Duncan is in his grave,/ After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well./ Treason has done its worst. Nor steel, nor poison,/ Malice Domestic, foreign levy, nothing,/ Can touch him further."

Saddam Leaving, One Way or Another

You can feel that things are coming down to the wire. Deadlines are approaching, actions are about to be taken that will be consequential. It is complicated, but the trick in this high stakes poker game is to look in the right place. Don’t, for example, look to CNN reports on what is going on in the UN, on who is saying what to whom, who’s going wobbly, etc. Look to Saddam, Bush, and Blair; and they’re still holding their original hands. No one is folding. Yet. This Michael Kelly column is pretty good. And then there is this report on the Arab plan to exile Saddam. He has sent a senior aide to Cairo to discuss "personal issues." The end of the game is in sight.

Helping Russia Secure WMD

USA Today notes that Bush has just signed a special order releasing about 450 million dollars to help Russia secure or eliminate weapons of mass destruction.

Choice and the Improvement of Public Schools

This is a very interesting study from the Manhattan Institute (done by Greene and Forster) showing that when school choice is in operation (San Antonio, Milwaukee) even public schools get better; competition helps. Worth at least three coffees.

Southern Primary Challenge for Bush?

The Scrum has a few interesting paragraphs on the possibility that a fellow named Donnie Kennedy, the author of The South Was Right, is going to take Bush on in primaries in the South. Kind of interesting (and irritating) and although nothing will come of it I kind of hope something might come of it. It would be mildly amusing (and irritating), but to Bush’s advantage.

North Korea

This is (via Instapundit) an article about North Korea worth reading, "Why we Won’t Invade North Korea." I don’t know the author.

Lieberman and the Democratic Party

Here are two pieces (Dionne, Saletan) on what the Lieberman candidacy and the way he is going about it may mean to both the Democratic Party (and the possibility of him being nominated). Naomi Emery is more generally on the Demo Party’s cartoonish characterization of the GOP, which Lieberman may not fall into. I am thinking that Lieberman has a much better chance than people give him credit for, and in any case, it will be interesting to watch how his cultural conservatism will play out in the Demo primary contests.

Southern Republicans

Jack Pitney reviews Earl Black’s The Rise of Southern Republicans in the current issue of Reason. It’s short.

The Right to Fornicate in Georgia

I thought that would get your attention. The Georgia Supreme Court struck down a law prohibiting fornication as a violation of the Georgia Constitution’s right to privacy. The case was brought by a sixteen-year-old caught in flagrante delicto with his sixteen-year-old girlfriend in her parents’ house. The court found that because 16-year-olds are old enough to consent to sex under Georgia law, the fact that they were minors did not change the analysis. That said, the court did clarify that "[n]othing in this opinion should be read to address the [girl’s] parents’ rights to regulate what occurs in their home . . . ." The opinion is available online here.

Missing in Blogging

Normally Schramm and I manage to stagger the times when we are without internet, but this past week it hit us both at the same time. I was moving, and did not get my internet hooked up till over the weekend. For good or for ill, I should be back on the blog this week.

More on Lomborg

My commentary on the farcical Lomborg inquisition is now up on the AEI website here.

Princeton Trip or Physics and Pool

I have been away for a few days and the hotel had a horrible connection, so I couldn’t blog. Besides, the conference that I was attending was just interesting enough to keep me busy all day and most of the evening (that includes a small seminar with the Spaldings, Ralph Hancock, and Robert Koons on the destructive nature of beauty, over adult drinks--I recommend Knob Creek bourbon). I was at a conference at Princeton sponsored by the James Madison Program. There were many good speakers and fine colleagues from around the country. (Although I had to sit through another interminable talk by Larry Arnn; why can’t he remember that men of few words are the best men?) Yet I am glad we went. But I should tell you that once Roger and I rolled through Palmer Square on our way to the hotel (J. Crew shop, leather boutiques, French restaurants, etc.) I regretted very much that I wasn’t in my blue jeans and on my motorcycle! The place is sort of rich and gaudy but kind of understated, you know what I mean? On our way out of town the last thing we saw on the Square was a well dressed ("fashion’s own knight" as the Poet might say) professor-like man walking two perfectly groomed (large) cocoa colored French poodles. In the beginning was the end. So, for you Eastern intellectuals I found this site that explains the game of pool through physics (or vice versa). Be amused. I’ll blog starting Tuesday.