Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

No Cloture Vote Yet

I just spoke with someone in Majority Leader Frist’s office. He confirmed that Fox News was incorrect when it asserted that Frist had scheduled a cloture vote.

As Good As Reversed

Behavioral science has told us for years that animals including humans can be trained to alter improper behavior through negative reinforcement. In the world of judging, the strongest negative stimulus (outside of impeachment) is reversal by a higher court, particularly when that court is the United States Supreme Court. Yet in their never-ending quest to prove Pavlov and Skinner wrong, the Ninth Circuit persists in rendering decisions that are the stuff of constitutional punchlines.

Keeping to this fine tradition, the Ninth Circuit today decided not to review en banc its prior panel opinion striking down the Pledge of Allegiance based upon the contention that the phrase "under God" violates the Establishment Clause. The order also amended the prior decision to clarify that the decision only applies to public schools, and not in general. Wheww, I’m glad they made that clear!

I’d offer my thoughts, but it is easier and better simply to quote from Judge O’Scannlain’s dissent from the denial of en banc review:

We should have reheard Newdow I en benc, not because it was controversial, but because it was wrong, very wrong--wrong because reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is simply not "a religious act" as the two-judge majority asserts, wrong as a matter of Supreme Court precedent properly understood, wrong because it set up a direct conflict with the law of another circuit, and wrong as a matter of common sense.(1) . . . Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance cannot possibly be an "establishment of religion" under any reasonable interpretation of the Constitution.

Footnote (1): . . . My disagreement with the panel majority has nothing to do with bending to the will of an outraged populace, and everything to do with the fact that Judge Goodwin and Judge Reinhardt misinterpret the Constitution and 40 years of Supreme Court precedent. That most people understand this makes the decision no less wrong. It does not take an Article III judge to recognize that the voluntary recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public school does not violate the First Amendment.


You can read O’Scannlain’s complete dissent here. Three cup (sipped slowly) read.    

The Gauntlet Is Thrown Down

There have been a lot of rumors and innuendo regarding the status of the Estrada confirmation this morning. Fox News reported this morning that Maj. Leader Frist had scheduled a cloture vote for Tuesday, and that the Justice Department had released internal memos written by Estrada. Howard Bashman reported here that a well-placed source had told him that there was no scheduled cloture vote. Bashman’s source appears to have been correct, because the story on Fox no longer includes the reference to the precise timing of any cloture vote, but suggests that a cloture vote may occur next week.

There appears to be reason to question the alleged release of documents as well. White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales sent a letter to Senators First, Daschle, Hatch, and Leahy, in which he recommended that those Senators with questions about Mr. Estrada’s performance in previous government positions should contact his previous supervisors, who he listed by name. In sharp contrast to releasing the documents, Justice Gonzales suggested:

In our judgment, these [former supervisors/employers] could provide their views on Mr. Estrada’s background and suitability to be a Circuit Judge by March 4 without sacrificing the integrity of the decisionmaking processes of the Judiciary, United States Attorney’s office, and Solicitor General’s office. And their views could assist Senators who seek more information about Mr. Estrada.

This move would not have been necessary if the documents were released, so it appears that the Justice Department has rightly kept to its policy of not releasing these documents.

The letter also called the Democratic Senator’s bluff, restating that Estrada is available for personal meetings, and that he will answer questions submitted "forthrightly, appropriately, and in a manner consistent with the traditional practice and obligations of judicial nominees, as he has before." Justice Gonzales suggested that the questions should be forwarded by the end of today, and that Estrada would attempt to answer any questions in writing by Tuesday.

A brief word about internal DOJ memos--the idea that these documents would reveal the prejudices of the writer are pretty farcical. Lawyers who should know better like Eddie Lazarus have suggested that the documents might be revealing--a statement which shows more about his political proclivities and his disregard for nondisclosure standards (wait--we already knew that from his tell-all book "Closed Chambers) than his insight. But anyone who has worked with such documents knows that these sorts of memos generally contain about as much overt opinion as a laundry list. Rather, they give a bland statement of the law on a question. Even when advocating a position, the memos generally do so in classically sterile, legal fashion.

The Democratic Senators want information--they’ve got it. If the Senators still demand the memos rather when they have the option of receiving confirmation of the appropriateness of the analsyis from Clinton Justice Department officials, then the quest for information will be revealed once and for all for what it is: an excuse for obstruction.

How Many Cups Will Schramm Give This?

Reuters reports that Playboy is searching for talent in order to solute the ladies who put the frappe in frapuccino--yes, the Women of Starbucks. Suddenly, "worth two cups" takes on a whole new meaning.  

There you go again. . .

I interrupt my hiatus from blogging (just another few days more on my annual Earth Day report, and then as Arnold says, "I’ll be back. . .") to note this outrage from today’s E.J. Dionne column on "patriotic liberalism" in the Washington Post. Never mind Dionne’s attempt to rescue this oxymoron. Try out this sentence for size:

Jimmy Carter’s campaign for human rights created the ideological underpinning of Ronald Reagan’s successful Cold War policies."

Cheer up. We can expect that about 10 years from now, liberals will start, grudgingly at first, to say that President Bush’s war policy since 9/11 was a success--helped all along, of course, by the liberals’ loyal opposition.

Gods and Generals

Mac Owens’ long piece on the movie is but a reason to re-consider how the Civil War is portrayed in the American imagination, movies, and scholarship. This is a comprehensive and thoughtful treatise, and it not only reads well, but is true. Sit back with the best coffee your money can buy, and contemplate the fate of the most interesting nation in history, think of the statesmanship involved in all, let the valor and grit of it seep into your heart, and be grateful that you are an American.   

The Arc of Moderate Islam

This article by Tom Rose of ’The Jerusalem Post’ details the emergence of a moderate Islam in opposition to the militant Islam which continues to dominate the Middle East.

The difference between moderate and militant Islam is simple. Militant Islam hates and wants to destroy America, Israel and all Jews. Moderate Islam wants to reach out to the West and learn to live with America and Israel.

In this article, Rose details the willingness of the moderate Islamic states of Kazakhstan, Kyrsystan, Tajikstan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Afghanistan (now a moderate Islamic state)to work with the West. President Bush’s Grand Strategy is to remake the middle east in the image of these moderate Islamic states.

A Letter from Saddam

I thought I’d share the following, which is making the rounds of the internet:

"I’ve divided Europe, I’ve put NATO into disarray, I’ve got American and British forces on my doorstep wasting billions of dollars to do nothing. The stock market has fallen to its lowest in ages; the American economy is faltering, and the UK is not doing too well either. I’ve got the leading artists and intellectuals in Europe to march and sign petitions, helping me to perpetuate the tyrannical oppression of my people. I’ve got lovely people from all over coming to Baghdad to act as human shields against military attack, so I don’t need to waste Iraqi lives doing it. And best of all, I’ve got both Osama Bin Laden calling for suicide attacks against my enemies, and Harold Pinter writing verses against my enemies. Oppressors could never have had it so good."

A Real Former Senator Versus a Make Believe President

For those of you who missed it, Drudge has a great story about competing ads on the Iraq war--one by NBC’s "West Wing" star Martin Sheen, and the other by former Senator and NBC "Law and Order" star Fred Thompson. (Movie buffs will recall that Thompson played supporting actor roles in films including "In the Line of Fire" and "The Hunt for Red October."

In Sheen’s ad, he reportedly implores: "Don’t invade Iraq. Inspections work; war won’t." Senator Thompson, by comparison, offers these sober words: "Thank goodness we have a President with the courage to protect our country. . . . What should we do with the inevitable prospect of nuclear weapons in the hands of a murderous and aggressive enemy? Can we afford to appease Saddam?"

Kudos to Senator Thompson for offering a counterpoint to the Hollywood din.

So. Korea’s New President

The Washington Post has a lengthy story on the new leader of South Korea, Roh Moo Hyun (Monday’s edition). The standard story, but here is an interesting paragraph:
"While awaiting the results of an ill-fated parliamentary campaign in 2000, Roh said, he picked up a book that included Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural speech, and recalls being thunderstruck at Lincoln’s call for reconciliation ’with malice toward none, charity for all.’

Roh compared the moment of ’thrilling inspiration’ to Mohandas Gandhi being thrown out of a segregated railcar or Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. ’I began to see the world in a different way,’ he says in a glossy 49-page account, quickly published by the Korea Information Service after the election, labeled ’Roh Moo Hyun’s encounter with Abraham Lincoln.’"

Mexico, Pakistan are Likely to Support U.S.

If read carefully, this newstory makes clear that both Mexico and Pakistan will vote with us. It goes almost without saying that the Chinese will not veto. The French are getting desperate.

No Russian Veto of UN Resolution

In case any of you think the Russians would veto the next Security Council resolution, this newstory will put your mind at rest.

. . . Make That Three Judicial Nominees Clear Committee

The AP reports that Jay Bybee, nominee to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, was voted favorably out of the Judiciary Committee by a tally of 12-6. This despite Democratic attempts to thwart the vote by exiting the room at various points throughout the proceeding to deny a quorum. Senators Hatch and Kennedy, who are known as the odd couple of the Senate given their off-camera comraderie, were anything but chummy today. Here is a sample of their exchange as conveyed in the AP story:

Sen. Hatch: We’re not going to have filibusters in committee. . . .

Sen. Kennedy: You may bully some but you’re not going to bully me. . . .

Sen. Hatch: You’re not going to bully me either. . . .

Given this highbrow dialogue, I almost expected to hear about the two distinguished gentlemen flinging Senate Navy Bean Soup at each other in the cafeteria. Some Democrats reportedly voted "present," and intend to voice their objections on the floor to Chairman Hatch’s "forcing" a vote over what the AP reports Leahy as calling a "committee filibuster." I must admit that I have never seen the term "committee filibuster" used before, and am somewhat incredulous as to its validity as an actual term. I was aware that you could suspend a vote in committee by denying a quorum (which the Democrats did for a time), but that is a far cry from a filibuster. Any insight readers can provide on "committee filibusters" would be greatly appreciated.

Two More Judges Clear the Judiciary Committee

The "How Appealing" blog reports that Justice Cook, nominee to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and John Roberts, nominee to the D.C. Circuit, both received favorable votes out of the Judiciary Committee. Justice Cook’s nomination cleared the committee on a vote of 12-2, and Mr. Roberts cleared by a margin of 14-3, with Biden, Edwards, Feinstein, and Kohl crossing party lines.

Cook and Roberts now join Sixth Circuit nominee Jeffrey Sutton awaiting confirmation by the full Senate. Of course, this would require the Senate to break through its current filibuster.

Deer Hunting Without the French

Going to war without the French is like hunting deer without an accordion.
Here’s the rest of the story.

Where is LaFayette when we need him?

Condi Rice for Governor?

This story claims that although Condi Rice has declined the opportunity to run against Senator Barbara Boxer (CA) in 2004, she is considering running for Governor in 2006. I bet this will discombobulate the Demos in the Golden State!

J. Harvey Wilkinson

A reader brought to my attention this interesting George Will Newsweek piece on Judge J. Harvey Wilkinson and the role of the courts. I take this as the opening salvo to get Wilkinson to be on the Supremes.

On Mr. Rogers

For those of you interested in some thoughtful points about what Mr. Rogers did and what effect he had, go to the NRO neighborhood where there is a good conversation about him. Neither my children or me were fans (hardly ever watched the program) but when I saw him interviewed (which was rare) I couldn’t help liking his quiet common sense. RIP.

University Affirmative Action Policy Half-Baked?

Fox News reports that students at UC Berkeley held a bake sale designed to highlight the disparities in treatment wrought by affirmative action admission systems. Here’s how the bake sale worked:

For the same chocolate chip cookie, whites were being charged $1.50, Asians $1.25, Latinos (Hispanics not from Mexico) $1.00, Chicanos (Hispanics from Mexico) 75 cents, American Indians 50 cents, and blacks 25 cents.

I have heard that similar bake sales have occurred at UCLA and the University of Michigan. One of the students was asked why legacies weren’t charged less for cookies. To put that issue to rest, the different treatment for legacies, while perhaps undesirable as a matter of policy, is not generally a constitutional question. The Constitution prohibits unequal protection of the laws on the basis of race, but does not cover distinctions based on other characteristics, such as legacy status, musical ability, or the ability to play football. To put it simply, we did not fight a civil war to end the practice of the government discriminating against individuals who are not legacies.

Estrada Nomination a Win-Win?

The New York Times reports today that Republican strategists are viewing the Estrada confirmation battle as a win-win situation. Note in particular the statements by Hispanic leaders and pollsters, suggesting that Hispanics are following the confirmation stalemate, and that this could portend trouble for the Democrats among Hispanic voters.

Not Such a Good Day in the Neighborhood

Fred Rogers, host of the children’s television program "Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood," died of cancer yesterday at 74. The AP offers an obituary here.

Bush’s Statesmanship

The President gave two great speeches on Wednesday. Because both are worth reading in full, I withold my temptation to quote at length from them. Please read both. One was on the Democrats’ stonewalling and filibustering the Miguel Estrada nomination. The President was as critical of Demos as I have ever heard him. The talk is worth reading because it foreshadows the tone the President is going to take with the opposition when they become irrational and obstreporous. He is not only right to do this, but it will also be useful politically. He is going to try to make them pay for being petty and base on a matter of grave consequence. He will have the people on his side (never mind Hispanics). It’s a no win situation for the Demos.

The second was the speech on Iraq and the Middle East at AEI. Bush articulated in entirely American and non-partisan terms what should happen after Saddam is deposed; what should happen in Iraq and the area as a whole. While no on expects Iraq to turn into Ohio overnight, we have good reason to think--and history to back us up, from Japan and Germany to the Phillipines and Bulgaria--that we can help establish relatively free and relatively prsoperous regimes in places around the world where, before we got there, no one thought moderate and democratic governments could flourish. The vision is grand yet it is not impractical. Iraq’s defeat will have an effect on the whole region, including Iran and the possibility of real peace (not another "peace process") between a democratic Palestine and Israel. Even if the President is only half right, he will have done a great deal of good both for America and the region, indeed the world. Combine this with the careful and deliberate diplomacy at the UN, the isolation of France (I still predict France will not veto the next resolution) and one has to say that this is not a man who will need to spend time worrying about his legacy, as his predecessor did ad nauseam. At the risk of sounding pollyannish about Bush and his ways, I continue to be very impressed, and grateful. Godspeed, Mr. President, Godspeed.

Good News from Afghanistan

The Washington Post runs a great and heartwarming story about how good things have gotten in Afghanistan. While not very much is happening with the foreign aid that is supposed to rebuild schools and roads and such, the small local entrepreneurs are thriving. A local says this: "The government and [international aid organizations] won’t make Afghans stand on their own feet. Businessmen will do it." Great story, not unrelated to what the administration is going to try to do in Iraq. Worth a strong coffee. 

Senior Anglican Bishop Approves of War

One of the Church of England’s most senior bishops, Michael Nazir-Ali, broke ranks with his colleagues (here are the prayers offered for Saddam Hussein by the General Synod) by suggesting that Britain and the US could be justified in using force against Saddam Hussein. He had been a contender to be Archbishop of Canterbury.


"It would be desirable, surely, to seek a UN mandate ... but if the security council produces irrefutable evidence of a material breach of its own resolutions but fails to act, national governments may judge that such a breach constituted a threat to their security and that of the region. They could then be justified in taking action.

"Pre-emptive action could be justified ... if such a state was forbidden by international sanction from possessing such weapons, if it had a past record and present involvement in the use of such weapons ... and if there was reliable intelligence that it intended to use [them] against us and our allies.

While we pray for peace, we need to recognise that the Iraqi regime may have to be disarmed by force."

Demo Primary Compared to 1972

Dave Koppel at The Corner notes that a columnist in the National Journal draws some interesting parallels between the 1972 Democratic primaries and that of 2004. Aside from these compared he mentions that Dennis Kucinich is the Sam Yorty of 2004 (getting no support from anyone). Amusing and useful.

"National Journal columnist Chuck Todd suggests that the current Democratic Presidential slate resembles the field from 1972. John Kerry is the "seasoned front-runner" (like Maine Senator Ed Muskie); Gephardt is the labor favorite (like Hubert Humphrey); Dean the darling of the anti-war Left (like McGovern); Lieberman is the lone hawk (like Washington Senator Henry Jackson); Mosley-Braun is the purely symbolic female black candidate (like Shirley Chisholm). But the best parallel is Al Charlatan and George Wallace. Todd delicately writes that "No one thought Wallace could win the Democratic nomination, but everyone in the field believed he would be a key factor in certain primary states." I would put the comparison a little more directly: Like Wallace, Sharpton is an excellent orator and race-baiting demagogue who--despite claiming to fight for the little guy--appeals to the most paranoid and racist instincts of poorly-educated Democratic primary voters, especially in the South and Northeast."

Questions for Anti-War Protesters

This is a very good op-ed by an Iraqi in the Christian Science Monitor asking a couple of dozen questions of protesters, starting with this:
"What if you antiwar protesters and politicians succeed in stopping a US-led war to change the regime in Baghdad? What then will you do?" And this Iraqi, Amir Taheri, elaborates on similar themes by reflecting on his experiences with the peace marchers in London.

Netanyahu Replaced

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has announced that Benjamin Netanyahu is no longer Foreign Minister. He will be replaced by Finance Minister Silvan Shalom.

Diplomatic Uncertainty

Tony Blankley has a worthy piece in today’s Washington Times on how the ground has shifted under the feet of world leaders since 9/11, how large this shift is, and how some political leaders are finding it difficult to find their footing. Thoughtful. One coffee. 

Bush is Not an Existentialist, Darn

Joe Klein regrets that President Bush shows no angst or existential trauma in his decision making on Iraq. This is not only the Clintonian ("I feel your pain," etc.) but the liberal-left view in which you trust nothing, including the value of the ends you are pursuing. This is worth reading if for no other reason than to see what angst Bush causes liberals. Bush’s faith--surprise--is also attacked.
"And this, I think, is at the heart of what is disturbing about Bush’s faith in this moment of national crisis: it does not discomfort him enough; it does not impel him to have second thoughts, to explore other intellectual possibilities or question the possible consequences of his actions."

Logan’s Heroes

Glenn Logan was the first correct answer to today’s question, in which I asked for the name of the Justice and the case I paraphrased in this entry. The phrase I loosely quoted was "[t]his is somewhat like referring to shackles as an effective means of locomotion." The answer ably provided by Mr. Logan was Justice Scalia’s famous dissent in Morrison v. Olsen, the case in which the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the now-no-more independent counsel statute. Scalia’s dissent is worth reading in whole, which you can do here. For those unfamiliar with the case, yes, the Olsen in the case is Ted Olsen, the current Solicitor General of the United States. As a last anecdote, I will offer what a law professor I know said to his class when teaching the case after the Clinton impeachment: "Now, I know there’s not a Democrat in the room who disagrees with Justice Scalia in this case."

Mr. Logan’s correct answer comes on the heels of his insightful question about the pre-Marbury case of U.S. v. Hylton, which you can read here, and to which I offer my thoughts here. Thanks again to Logan for reading and playing along.

White House Responds to Cooked Up Delay

The White House sent a letter yesterday responding to a letter issued by Democratic Senators yesterday requesting a second hearing for Sixth Circuit nominee Deborah Cook and D.C. Circuit nominee John Roberts--both of whom are tentatively scheduled for a vote by the Judiciary Committee tomorrow. The essence of the letter is: you’ve stalled long enough, thank you. These nominees were sent forward nearly two years ago. During the first hearing, Chairman Hatch permitted Senators to question both nominees as long as they liked. What the letter didn’t say is that if the Senators chose to go home early, or to use their time to recite questions written by Ralph Neas in opposition to Jeff Sutton, that was their choice, but it will NOT be sufficient cause to further delay a process which to date has moved with the speed of someone who mistakenly believes shackles to be an effective means of locomotion. The letter is available online compliments of "How Appealing Extra" here.

For those of you paying careful attention, I paraphrased a line from a famous Supreme Court dissent. This one is too easy to earn you a mug, but first person to name the Justice and decision gets honorable mention, and the respect of his or her peers.

Bush to Speak on the Future of the Middle East

The President will give a major foreign policy speech tonight at AEI. According to the Washington Post, "President Bush intends to outline his postwar vision for Iraq and the Middle East in a speech tonight designed in part to showcase the administration’s belief that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s overthrow would be a significant step toward broad democratic change in the Arab world." The story is worth a quick read, there are some nuggets in it. The speech should be viewed by everyone.

Rabinowitz essay/photo

For those interested in the fine artwork accompanying Dorothy Rabinowitz’s fine essay in the Wall St. Journal, please see the following webpage for the original color version:

"Somalia" by Matt Hall

Additional artwork by Matt Hall can be viewed at the following webpage of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society:

CMOHS

Estrada’s Connection to Today’s Abortion-RICO Case

The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 today that because abortion protesters did not commit extortion under the Hobbs Act--that is, they did not "obtain" property from another by "wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear . . ."--such groups therefore did not violate the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which allows for more aggressive prosecution of, in this case, a pattern of extortion. The Supreme Court opinion in the case, Scheidler v. NOW, is available here, and the AP has an early story here.

Court watchers will recall that this is not the first time that this case came before the court. In 1994, the Supreme Court first took up the case, deciding unanimously that RICO did not require proof that the predicate criminal activity was motivated by economic purpose. This previous opinion is available online here. Now for the interesting part: the Justice Department filed a brief in the 1994 case supporting the position of the National Organization of Women and abortion providers. Who did the Justice Department choose to file the brief on behalf of NOW and the clinics? Miguel Estrada. Can we please have a vote . . . NOW?

Lincoln and War

Tom Krannawitter finds Paul Berman’s piece in The New Republic ("What Lincoln Knew About War") to be both interesting and wrong. Yet, Berman is worth reading, especially with Krannawitter’s rejoinder. This is not an abstract question being discussed: Can a self governing republic exercise power in defending itself? I recommend the lingering study of both. Off to my Shakespeare Seminar, we’ll try to focus on Brutus’ lack of prudence in Julius Caesar. Ah, for those Stoics, intention is everything!

Standards of Speaking

Terrence Moore has another "Principal’s Perspective" out in favor of standards of study and of speaking. The piece is worth contemplating: "The classical works of Greece and Rome are not great simply because they are old. They are great because they employ harmonious language to depict remarkable human events and to explain the transcendent ideals of human existence." While I am no orator, as Terrence is, but (as you all know me) a plain blunt man, I still say read the whole thing. 

More on Cohen and Cook

Professor Lawrence Solum offers a detailed analysis of one of the cases referenced by Cohen in his column today attacking 6th Circuit nominee Deborah Cook. His conclusion regarding the case is worth quoting at length, particularly given his statement that he is not necessarily a proponent of Bush’s judicial nominees, and his further concession that he did not know much about Justice Cook’s record:

An assessment of Justice Cook’s performance in Wal-Mart should not be based on the question whether she favored the little guy or the big corporation. It should be based on the quality of her reasoning. Her opinion should damn her if it shows she lacks judicial integrity, fidelity to the law and concern for its coherence. But her opinion in Wal-Mart simply does not show those things.

Worth a cup.  

The White House Responds

Byron York offers the full text of White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales’s letter to Senator Schumer, in which Justice Gonzales responds to Schumer’s most recent claims regarding D.C. Circuit nominee Miguel Estrada. A thorough refutation, worth a tureen of coffee sufficient to sustain Senators through a real, as opposed to a "gentleman’s" filibuster.  

Medal of Honor

Dorothy Rabinowitz writes of the heroism of the two men who received the Medal of Honor (the first since Vitnam) for their acts of courage in Mogadishu in 1993. Great read.

Honorable Mugtion

Honorable mention in yesterday’s Marbury competition goes to Constitutional Law professor Rafael Madan, who suggested Cooper v. Telfair (1800) as a pre-Marbury exercise of judicial review by the Supreme Court. One has to be very careful when drafting questions addressed to smart lawyers, and Professor Madan’s answer shows that he ably discerned that I never said that the judicial review needed to be of the United States Constitution. In Telfair, the Supreme Court reviewed whether a statute violated Georgia’s state Constitution. A very nice catch.

Playing the Final Hand


The two paragraphs Andrew Sullivan has on a story from today’s Washington Post about the poker game going on at the U.N. says everything I want to say on the matter, and says it with perfect clarity. The end is here and as long as we win the war, all be well. Do read it.

Estrada Filibuster

Terry Eastland has a nice overview of the Democrat filibuster against President Bush’s nominee to the circuit court, Miguel Estrada.

Iranian Opinion

This is an interesting story from Monday’s Los Angeles Times. Notice the youth of Iran hoping and waiting for Iraq to fall and thinking that it will have a good effect on Iran. And one is quoted as saying she hoped the U.S. will invade Iran to liberate them. I am not if favor of such an invasion for I think internal change in Iran will happen even more quickly in Iran when Iraq is liberated. Good, short story. 

The Law Doesn’t Matter

Adam Cohen has what can only be characterized as a screed in today’s New York Times entitled "Deborah Cook Is the Typical Bush Judicial Nominee--So Watch Out." In the article, he marches through a list of cases, trying to make the argument that Justice Cook, who sits on the Ohio Supreme Court and is awaiting Senate confirmation to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, is biased in favor of corporations and hates the little guy. But instead of succeeding, he only shows that Justice Cook is the kind of jurist that liberals claim that they want: one who defers to legislative judgments.

You see, in most if not all of the cases Cohen listed, the proper question was whether the plaintiffs filed their claims within the time prescribed by the legislature. Justice Cook followed the direction of the legislature, even when her colleagues chose not to do so. Anyone who read left-wing law professor Cass Suntein’s latest article, "The Right-Wing Assault," would think that Justice Cook is a model judge. Sunstein argues that the problem with Republican nominees is that they are activist, and that these same judges are on a rampage of striking down laws passed by popularly elected legislatures. Using Sunstein’s methodology, Justice Cook’s colleagues were on a rampage of ignoring the filing requirements established by the legislature, and she chose instead to follow the direction of the elected branch and to dissent. Justice Cook should therefore be a fine selection for messrs. Cohen and Sunstein. Of course, that would assume that Cohen and Sunstein were interested in something other than a base, results-oriented jurisprudence. But Cohen’s article looked only to the results of the cases without pausing even for a moment to consider the law, and Sunstein’s article chose selectively from decisions in which he did not like the outcome, while ignoring decisions in which he approves of the outcome like Romer v. Evans--a decision for which he has publicly praised the Supreme Court for striking down a popularly enacted initiative based on, to borrow his phrase, a Constitution of "ambiguities and generalities."

Despite all the lofty rhetoric, Cohen and Sunstein’s recent articles make their position abundantly clear: the law doesn’t really matter--only the outcomes do.

New Poll on Demos

A CNN-Time poll of Democrats find that Lieberman leads with 16%, followed by Gephardt with 13%. All the others (too many to count) are in the single digits. It is clear that no one has yet enchanted the Party. Yet it is being reported that Howard Dean did very well with the Demos at the DNC winter meeting. He was the star! According to the report:

"Dean challenged his party to ’stand for something’ and, unlike his rivals who played it very safe, was the only one who managed to elicit sustained cheers while generating that all-important buzz in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill.

"’What I want to know is why in the world the Democratic Party leadership is supporting the president’s unilateral attack on Iraq,’ he said right off."

New UN Resolution Submitted

The U.S., U.K., and Spain just submitted the new resolution. It claims that Iraq has missed the final opportunity to disarm peacefully and has been, and is, in material breach of its obligations. The diplomatic game is now publicly afoot. The President, speaking to the governors, said: "It’s a moment for this body … to determine whether or not it’s going to be relevant as the world confronts threats in the 21st century. Is it going to be a body that means what it says? We certainly hope so." This is the ABC report on it.

Book of the Day

Keeping to the Marbury theme for the day, I highly recommend David P. Currie’s "The Constitution in the Supreme Court: The First Hundred Years, 1789-1888." Readers interested in finding out more about the cases discussed today on the blog (or for that matter just about any important case in that period) will find that Currie provides a detailed and eminently readable discussion. Worth three good, strong cups of coffee, unadulterated by cream, sugar, or emanations of penumbra.    

We Have A Winner Three Winners

I obviously needed a tougher question, because we received not one, but three correct answers before noon, with more following that. The first out of the gate was Lucas Morel, who despite being first nearly got overlooked in the email bin. Professor Morel suggested Hylton v. United States for the federal statute, and Van Horne’s Lessee v. Dorrance for the state statute. Hylton v. United States, is a winning answer. In Hylton, the court determined that a congressionally authorized geographically uniform tax on carriages was not a "direct" tax in violation of art. I of the Constitution. While Van Horne’s Lessee is also a case involving judicial review, it is not a Supreme Court case, but rather was a circuit court decision. Professor Morel goes one-for-two and quickest draw, and therefore he scores the coveted mug.

Showing that we’re a bunch of softies at NLT, however, we noted that reader David Bird was the first to offer the other of the two cases: Ware v. Hylton, a case in which the Supreme Court struck down a state law as violative of a treaty pursuant to the dictates of the Supremecy Clause in 1796. Mr. Bird also earns a a well-deserved mug.

Finally, reader Moe Freedman offered Chandler’s Case and United States v. Yale Todd, both of which do indeed involve Supreme Court review regarding the constitutionality of congressional acts prior to Marbury. I must admit that I had not considered these cases when I wrote the question because they were not published, and we know about them only through indirect references. See, e.g., Marbury, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 171-72 (1803) (describing Chandler, although not by name); see also United States v. Ferreira, 54 U.S. (13 How.) 40, 52-53 (1851) (note of Justice Taney inserted by order of court, speaking about Yale Todd). That said, they certainly are correct, and based upon the shear obscurity of the references, Mr. Freedman has earned a mug. Thanks again to everyone who competed.

Waterloo as a French Victory

This is a very thoughtful article by Robert Kagan. Kagan cautions us through the Waterloo analogy (and deeply felt experience for the French wherein a defeat is made into a victory) that while France may be defeated in the Iraq crisis, she yet still might be able to be victorious in principle--who is the master of Europe, France or the American behemoth?--if the war or the peace following proves a disaster for the U.S. It still might prove to be the case, in short, that France will end up representing Europe’s future. And in this attempt, France is prepared to wreak havoc on institutions not to its liking, including NATO, EU, and the UN. France is not only being surly, they may yet again find glory in defeat. One good coffee. 

The Mug Is Still Up For Grabs

Good guesses so far, but no one has yet seized the cup. A reader calling himself Felix Frankfurter had the best guess so far with Hayburn’s Case. But Hayburn’s case provided details about the holdings of circuit courts striking down federal laws, while the Supreme Court in that case did not reach the question of judicial review or practice it in analyzing the statute, but rather merely recited what occurred below. Hayburn’s case is in fact the reason for my statement that I wanted a case in which the Supreme Court and not a circuit court exercised the power of judicial review. Good luck, and keep the guesses coming.

A Mug For Marbury

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Marbury v. Madison, in which Chief Justice Marshall famously announced the doctrine of judicial review. In honor of the event, the Washington Post offers an article here discussing the opinion. Students in my class have heard too much about this case, but will recognize the WaPo article as advocating a "strong" form reading of Marbury as an aggressive check on the other branches. For those who haven’t read the case before, the decision is available here. (Thanks to Howard Bashman of How Appealing for bringing this story to my attention.

Now to the contest. Everyone knows that Marbury was the first time that the Supreme Court exercised judicial review, right? Wrong. The Supreme Court used the power of judicial review to strike down a state law in one case preceding Marbury, and while expressly reserving the question of its power to do so, had reviewed the constitutionality of a federal statute in another. (Careful readers will note that circuits courts also exercised this power, but I’m looking for Supreme Court cases.) The first reader to name one of the two Supreme Court cases wins a No Left Turns Mug.  (Hint: I’m not looking for a dissenting or separate opinion.)

Post-War Iraq

Michael Barone has a nice short piece in U.S. News about how we had better start emphasizing what to do with Iraq after the war and why. He clearly thinks we can build a relatively democratic and free Iraq. One coffee. 

Defending the French

Dan Mahoney has a defense (sort of) of the French view of things (In an Australian newspaper; isn’t the blogosphere great! Got it through innocentsabroad). It’s perfectly sensible, even if I think he overdoes it: He stresses that these guys are no knee-jerk anti-Americans, they’re not cowards, and they’re just seeking to push their countries’ interest. OK, maybe. In the end, though Mahoney ignores much that is implied in the French position vis-a-vis Europe and America. Mahoney ends up blaming the Germans for misguiding the French. Still, worth reading. I’d still like him to answer the TNR piece I mentioned yesterday, as well as Krauthammer. Here are a few lines.

"In my view, French foreign policy is guided by considerations of national interest that are not reducible to crude anti-Americanism, no matter what the talking heads say. And French intellectual life long ago ceased to be dominated by the crass anti-Americanism and leftism that Revel rightly continues to excoriate.

I, for one, believe that it was a terrible mistake for President Jacques Chirac to abruptly shift course several weeks ago at his summit with Chancellor Gerhard Schroder. For the first time, he seemed to identify French policy with the kind of humanitarian pacifism that has become the official German position. The French have had to backtrack ever since, with Chirac most recently insisting that France is ’not a pacifist country’."

Gods and Generals

Gods and Generals was just relased. Before I start pontificating on it, I’d like you to go and see it. It will be worth the price, even if you might end up being critical of aspects of it. In the meantime read Bill Kaufmann’s good review of it for the American Enterprise.

Bush Lacks Chivalry & Manhood

According to Saddam, at least. So the guy that killed untold thousands of his own people by the vilest methods now claims the mantle of chivalry. Notice the reference to Ramsey Clark, one old Stalinist visiting another. Oh, yes, and a special Russian envoy arrives in Baghdad on a surprise visit.

Techno Stuff

A study claims that Special Forces’ brains work differently than regular regular guys; this explains their toughness or at least why they suffer less from stress.


"Special Forces soldiers have neurological differences that make them more resilient to post-traumatic stress disorder than the average soldier, say researchers....The elite soldiers produced more of a molecule called neuropeptide Y in their blood than regular soldiers. This molecule is generated by the body to help calm the brain in times of extreme stress."

This article from MSNBC explain why the U-2 Spy Planes are better than satellites. The military is ready to deploy something called "Bugsplat." It is a computer program that better predicts potential bomb damage. Among other uses, this
Washington Post article claims that it will help to limit civilian casualties. The military has starting using bandages that have a clotting agent in it; CNN says it stops bleeding in two minutes. And here is the Airborne Lazer (and some details in PDF) aboard a modified 747 that can shoot down rockets, but not yet; we’ve been wporking on it for some years. And it seems to be the case that there is a difference between long and short gamma ray bursts, the most powerful explosions in the universe. I don’t understand what this means but I thought I would bring it to your attention because all the scientists associated with it seem to have Hungarian names. This is an example of why I’ve never understood these people.

Wesley Clark as Candidate?

It has been rumored for about two months that Wesley Clark, former NATO Commander and now a CNN analyst, is (eventually) going to announce that he is a candidate for the Democratic nomination. I believe he will announce--although he cannot yet, for it will jepordize his CNN contract, and he needs to be on the air as much as possible--and that he will do quite well. In fact, I am going to bet that he will be assured of the VP slot, if he wants it. The Democrats are in desperate need of someone with foreign policy/national security credibility.
Mickey Kaus (go to Feb 20th) has some good notes, and links about the small groundswell building for Clark.

Weasel Politics and Economics

I know that I may seem to be (according to some of you) overemphasizing the European question in my notes. I think I am not. I think that the French Gambit is serious, has less to do with Iraq than it seems at first sight, and has more to do with French ambition in Europe, misperception of reality, and (as George Will calls it) moral infantilism and monomania--anti-Americanism. A news story in Sunday’s New York Times, as well as an op-ed by Niall Ferguson, confirms the seriousness of the French ambition and what is at stake. This has had a great deal to do with the semi-suicide that Europe attempted in the twentieth century. And this explains why my grandfather, my father’s father, said to me when I went back to Hungary to visit him for the first time in 1968: "Don’t come back here again. Go back to America, far away from this place. It is hopeless." He was talking about Europe as a whole, not just Hungary.

While this British writer puts a more Anglo-European spin on the issue, he admits that Chirac has made a "strategic choice" that will have massive consequences. This French writer essentially agrees. And it is unlikely that the old Europe will come out on top, says the Editor of The Jerusalem Post (also note Chirac’s peccadilloes, amusing).
See this UPI article and then this one for a good history of the problem from an economic point of view; how France and Germany went from robust economies of the mid-1960’s to very restricted economic growth by the 1990’s. And there is no plan to get out of it; only an attempt to waylay the impending disaster. While I understand that the most immediate question is how France will vote when we present a new resolution on Iraq to the Security Council, these larger concerns are the matters driving things and they will have long term consequences, lasting well after the time Iraq has been rebuilt and the political landscape of the Middle East has been changed. Besides, I still think that France has played its last card and will go along with us on another Security Council resolution. They can’t afford complete isolation.

A Long French Joke

This piece by Mark Steyn, "Bush Unleashes the Jacquesbot," couldn’t be more funny!

Washington Biographer Dies

On February 13 James Thomas Flexner, the author of a very good biography of George Washington, Washington: The Indispensable Man, died. I always recommend this book to students (along with Richard Bookhiser’s Founding Father, W.B. Allen’s George Washington: A Collection and Matthew Spalding’s and Patrick J. Garrity’s A Sacred Union of Citizens: George Washington’s Farewell Address and the American Character) and do so especially on this day. And here is a great web site on George Washington.

William O. Douglas

This book review by Richard Posner, of a new biography of the Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas appears in the latest The New Republic. I always knew I didn’t like his jurisprudence (he was appointed by FDR) but now I discover that he was--as Doll Tearsheet might say--a base cutpurse, a cheating filthy bung, a whoreson impudent embossed rascal. And I’m not exagerrating. Worth two coffees.  

Bellesiles Book to be Reissued

An obscure publisher named Soft Skull Press is going to re-publish the discredited Arming America. The author Michael Bellesiles had received the prestigious Bancroft Prize for the book that was originally published in 2000. It’s thesis--based on, it turned out, made-up sources--was that America was not a gun-toting culture in its early history. Scholars from Harvard, Princeton, and Chicago concluded that the research was falsified. Bellesiles lost his tenure at Emory University over the matter and Knopf, the original publisher, said it would not re-publish it. Soft Skull has recently re-issued another discredited book; see the AP story.

German Words

The Foreign Minister of Germany, in a speech to members of the Green Party in Berlin, once again stated that he was opposed to a war against Iraq and asked whether international terrorism will be weakened or strengthened by the strike against Iraq. This German is a very thoughtful
und oh-so-deep, isn’t he?

French Diplomatic Activity

Max Boot has a good piece in The Weekly Standard explaining how France has lost its power grab against the U.S. and how this has opened an opportunity to create a better Europe, more pro-American and more free market oriented. Both the U.S. and the United Kingdom will have an easier time at influencing continental affairs in a way that was not thought possible three years ago, thanks to French imprudence. But French diplomacy is not restricted to Europe. The Washington Post reports today that France has emerged from the summit with 52 African countries with a unanimous endorsement of France’s anti-war Iraq position. And here is the tyrant Mugabe praising Chirac; not to the latter’s advantage.

New Europe, notes

The AP notes that the U.S. is training Iraqi exiles in Hungary and that Hungary will allow U.S. military convoys to use the country (including airspace)to help Turkey. The Hungarian Ambassador to the U.S. (on C-Span) has made clear his country supports the U.S. on Iraq. In the meantime, a concert commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of Stalin was cancelled. The official responsible for the building in which it was supposed staged (by the American Symphony Orchestra) said that not only were there technical considerations, but that "a concert in Stalin’s name cannot be staged in Hungary today, nor could one hallmarked by the name of Adolf Hitler." The BBC reports that the French Ambassador was called in by the President of Bulgaria to chastize Chirac for his criticism of EU candidate countries (which include Bulgaria) for siding with the U.S. over Iraq. An editorial in a Romanian newspaper supports its government:

"How many others have to die in the USA, in the Paris subway or in other crowded places so that France and Germany react firmly against the countries which supply terrorism? We can no longer afford going into this game of procedures, of diplomatic duplicity only to be the fools and the sacrificed of the region in the end. Romania needs stringently the support of the most powerful democracy. And it is about to get a firm support. We have to respond to it in the same way. We go with the Americans and we make efforts to be their alternative for the old Europe."

A Good Teacher Lost

An idealistic young teacher, a recent Yale grad, leaves the Gore campaign, becomes a teacher in an inner city school, and discovers how bad it is and why. The story reads like fiction, but it’s true. Sit back with two coffees and enjoy the horror.  

Pollsters are Running the Demo Party

Noam Scheiber has an interesting (and long) piece in The New Republic about how the Democratic Party has been taken over (and centrally controlled) by pollsters. This is not good for them, she argues, and can be pointed to as a major factor in their inability to talk about important issues and also explains, in part, their losses in 2002.

"Given the influence that a couple of big firms have both with the national party and with individual candidates, it’s not surprising that last year’s Democratic hopefuls all pretty much read from the same script and ignored the two most important issues facing the country."

In the meantime, Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe--who seems now to be firmly ensconced in his position--has announced that he will modernize the Party.

A Boom in Iraq

Newsweek runs this interesting story about how well things are going in Iraq: property values are up, there is a building boom, businesses are planning to expand, etc. How could this be, given that the regime of Saddam is about to fall, or be destroyed by the Americans? Well, the answer is that that is why things are looking up and why people are optimistic. They are looking foward to the new regime and they are going to try to make Iraq the trading and commercial capital of the area, which it once was, and will be when they are freed.

The French Gambit

Charles Krauthammer has a fine piece in The Washington Post in which he explains with painful clarity how the Old Europe has been trying to bully the New. The examples are many and true, and he shows that all of this is not really about Iraq. The stakes are much higher. He argues that what we are experiencing is that the French (not the Russians or the Chinese) are the first ones who are attempting to break the American "hyperpower" that has developed since the death of the Cold War. They will fail, of course. Should be read in conjunction with The New Republic piece I mentioned yesterday. Two good coffees.

The Al-Arian Indictment

John Podhoretz beats up on the press (the usual suspects, New York Times, Washington Post, and so on0, for not taking this indictiment seriously, for pretending that our government is just going after an obscure (if somewhat misguided) university professor. He has read the indictment and if the Justice Department is right this is one bad guy.

French Military History

This might be a good way to start the day. The Weekly Standard reprints an e-mail of unknown origin that many of us have received. It is entitled "French Military History in a Nutshell." Near the end of Coriolanus Volumnia says that "The end of war is uncertain." Since this takes place at the beginning of the Roman Republic, and France doesn’t exist yet, she can’t possibly know that with France the end of war is always certain: Defeat (at best a draw).

Nude Interview Called Off

The BBC reports that an interview with a nude rights campaigner was called off after the interviewee refused to cover up. The 43 year old Steve Gough then returned home on his bicycle, five miles off, naked. See you in the morning.

The Problem with the Democratic Party

Now that it is becoming clear which Democrats are interested in becoming the Party’s nominee for the presidency (the list now includes Sharpton, Moseley-Braun, Kucinich) it is time reconsider larger matters of what the Democratic Party stands for, of how they see themselves and, equally important, how they see the GOP. The best way to get a handle on this is by reading Noemie Emery’s article of a few weeks ago in The Weekly Standard. It is entitled "Greed, Oppression, Patriarchy: What Unites the Democrats? A cartoonish view of Republicans." Emery uses the Demos reaction to the Trent Lott affair to show the ridiculous view they have of the GOP and how that view has settled into their party, and how disadvantageous that view is to their well being. They are running on fear. This is an excellent article.

Why Europe is Not Important

This is an excellent piece, a must read, from the current issue of The New Republic. I believe it characterizes with perfect clarity, and persuasively explains, why the French are acting as they are in NATO, the UN, and the EU. It explains when and how Europe became unimportant. The importance of Europe (and the French) is an "illusion, a psycho-strategic disorder." This is the consequence of the collapse of the USSR and the ending of the cold war. The French, of course, are ignoring the facts and are pretending to maintain the diplomacy of the 1940’s, which is kind of like trying to maintain the technology of the 1940’s. But rotary telephones are out, and so is France and, therefore, so is the "permanent membership" status of France in the UN. Chirac is teaching the French to deny reality; this is dangerous. You should save this, we will keep coming back to it.

The Blame Game

Schramm had two offerings yesterday which are more related than they first appear. The first was on Jesse Jackson’s defense of a Chicago nightclub where 21 people died, and the second concerned the McDonald’s lawsuits. Both are evidence of individuals attempting to place the blame on others for their own bad actions.

In the case of the nightclub, a judge had ordered the second story of the club closed in July because of safety concerns, but the club continued to operate it. To make matters worse, when a fight broke out, the owners allegedly chained the upstairs exits before employing pepper stray to break up the disturbance--a move which channeled the fleeing crowd to a staircase where the 21 victims were trampled to death. And yet Mr. Jackson, who allegedly is friends with one of the owners, has tried to place the blame on the police for not more vigorously enforcing the code. This makes about as much sense as the family of a junkee suing the police for not better combating the drug trade. The bottom line is that the club owners had a court order telling them not to do something, and they did it anyway. The police aren’t to blame for not coming down on a daily basis to enforce the order. Even if there was not an order, chaining emergency exit doors is so clearly a violation of safety codes that in a famous Boston case, a club owner who had chained his doors prior to a an emergency was held liable not just for monetary damages, but for criminal manslaughter. And yet Jackson would look past this and place the blame on the police (who I’m sure he would have blamed for acting in a racist or capricious manner if they had closed the place down before this incident as he now suggests).

Similarly, the McDonalds case is the height of blame shifting. As a frequent McDonald’s diner, I can tell you what everyone else who eats there can: it is not exactly low-cal cuisine. That said, I choose to eat there, and to supersize what I order. To use the legal terminology, I "assume the risk," because it is common knowledge that their food contains large amounts of delicious fat. McDonald’s doesn’t need to tell me about the risk either--you don’t need to be a dietician to understand that burgers aren’t alfalfa sprouts. Yet if those who brought the lawsuit had their way, McDonald’s--and ultimately me as one of their supporting consumers--would have to pay because others are immoderate in their dining habits.

So Jackson and the fat-kids’ lawyers have something in common: both are representing the interests of people who are at fault, and both are seeking to shift the blame and the cost to someone else.

The Failure of the Peace Movement

If the current anti-war movement is right, argues Andrew Busch, it will have been the first time they were right in over fifty years. If you find them as silly and irritating as I do, read this piece. Here is his concluding paragraph.

"Given this record—in which, despite the best intentions of many of its adherents, the ’peace’ movement has objectively placed itself on the side of Stalin, the North Vietnamese Politburo, Pol Pot, Daniel Ortega, Leonid Brezhnev, and now Saddam Hussein—thoughtful citizens can reasonably ask why anyone should trust its judgment. This is all the more true since the movement hardly seems to have given a second thought to the implications of its own sorry record. It just keeps pressing along, recycling its old slogans, its old protest songs, and its old errors. So much smugness; so little to be smug about. And this time, it isn’t Vietnamese and Cambodians who will die by the millions if the movement is wrong."

Lawsuits and the American Character

Bruce Fein maintains that "The Founding Fathers would be mortified and ashamed by the latest litigation frolic against McDonald’s.

They brought forth a new nation conceived in self-discipline, heroism, and a conviction that we are masters of our fate, captains of our soul. Scapegoating was alien to their universe. William Wordsworth’s "Happy Warrior" was their North Star. They neither demanded food stamps at Valley Forge, nor sued for overtime or hazardous duty pay for crossing the Delaware during inclement weather to capture Britain’s mercenary Hessians. They believed in free will, and strict legal, moral, and religious accountability for freely made decisions. Indeed, free will is the premise of all law, religion, and morality." There had better be some tort reform or the sands of the American character that have made up our life are numbered. Two non McDonald’s coffees.

God, politics and the Declaration of Independence

I hereby leave my blogging space empty in hopes that Craig will fill it with more of his eloquence.

But first I will suggest that the interested look at the following private letters and public documents authored by Jefferson. They shed light on a number of issues raised in this exchange of blogs.

Jefferson to William Short, October 31, 1819
Jefferson to John Adams, April 11, 1823
Jefferson to John Manners, February 22, 1814
Jefferson to George Logan, May 14, 1816
“To the Inhabitants of Albermarle County,” April 3, 1809
“Report of the Commissioners for the University of Virginia,” 1818

Finally, Craig has raised the issue of whether it is prudent to discuss the issues the blogs have raised. I leave it to blog readers to discern the prudence of those who speak of it. For my part, I feel no reluctance to be involved in something that has encouraged reading of the Bible and now of Jefferson.

Crisis in Iraq?

The London based Guardian reports that
"Saddam Hussein was last night reported to have placed his defence minister and close relative under house arrest in an extraordinary move apparently designed to prevent a coup." I have not yet seen further commentary or verification of this shocking news. If true, one can only imagine that all Hell is breaking loose there, and anything can happen. The rumors have been afoot for weeks that ninety percent of the troops will not fight. I believe that is true and is due (in large measure) to the good work we have been doing behind the scenes. We have to keep an eye on these matters until the war breaks out. The next few weeks are decisive.

More on the Declaration and Christianity

To complement Masugi’s latest blog, I recommend Tom West’s Witherspoon Lecture entitled ’Vindicating John Locke.’ http://www.frc.org/get/wt01f1.cfm

West explains how Locke works out in theory what Masugi calls "the notion that Christianity is the practical expression of natural-rights philosophy."

Jesse Jackson and the Chicago Nightclub

It looks as if Jesse Jackson is protecting the owners of this club by accusing the city of being negligent: they should have closed the club down, and didn’t, so the club isn’t responsible for what happaned. He wants an independent investigation. All of this is odd; there is more here than meets the eye, I am betting. Here is a longer story on the Mayor’s reaction and the various accusations that are being made.

Bush Increasing Religious Allusions

The AP ran this story yesterday about how President Bush is increasing his religious allusions in speeches. This apparently irritates some people (the usual suspects). I am not sure why this story appears now, or, exactly why it is even a newstory. It may be a preface to a new and slightly different round of attacks on him.

Cosmologies

Let me express my gratitude to Dave Tucker for acknowledging that I and Masugi answered his demand, showing some common ground between the Bible and the natural rights doctrine.

Tucker keeps referring to Claremont Cosmology. I thought he was mixing levity with gravity but he seems quite serious about it all. Is he referring to Peter Drucker, Leonard Levy, Paul Fussell. If he is referring to Harry Jaffa and the Claremont Institute then there are many better qualified than I to articulate that Cosmology. After all, in the Claremont Cosmos, I am merely a centurion in a colony located on the tundra of the frozen north, a thriving colony to be sure.

On its serious side, the Claremont Cosmology is quite simply stated: Restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful place in American public life. Tucker seems to think this a bad idea, since he thinks that the laws of nature and nature’s god and Jefferson are (secret) enemies of Biblical religion. Thus restoring those principles would be destructive. On its not so serious side, Claremont Cosmology seems to me to to consist of at least the following:
1)Thou shalt not use tobacco products in Jaffa’s presence.
2)Thou shalt not go to excess in the use of ’beverage alcohol’ in the presence of Jaffa or ’the girl in the canoe’, at least not until they leave the bar-b-q. This shows that Jaffa while reasonable/prudent is not omniscient
3)Thou shalt take Xenophon (and/or Cicero) more seriously than the Historicists of the last 200 years.
4)If you think you can be happy without moral virtue, go see Harry Neumann.
5)If you think this is oversimplified, go see Bill Allen. If you’re unpersuaded, then see Bill Allen on Montesquieu.
6)If you have a shot, take it.
7)Teleological sex or marriage is good. Non-teleological sex or promiscuity may be pleasant but it is not good. Some promiscuity is worse than others. That’s eight commandments, I’m sure I left out some.

Now this can be confusing because often times, Claremont Cosmology is confused with Straussian Cosmology. Michael Zuckert, now a resident Straussian at Notre Dame, conveniently sums up Straussian Cosmology as follows: 1)Modernity is bad; 2)America is modern; 3)America is good. So Claremont Cosmology seems to go 2 for 3 on Straussian cosmology.

To borrow from Struassian Cosmology, Tucker understands Jefferson better than Jefferson understands himself. Tucker has a historicist or nihilistic understanding of reason. I would argue that the reason of the Founding is prudent/teleological. According to Tucker, reason, as Jefferson understood it is ’an enemy of Biblical religion.’ If Tucker is right about this then the Claremont Institute should close down (and maybe the Ashbrok Center), Jefferson’s face should be removed from Mt. Rushmore, the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorial should be destroyed. Tucker says, Jefferson is the enemy of Bibllical religion. Wrong. Jefferson was the enemy of established religion. Jefferson thought disestablishment would be good for our politics and good for our religion. Jefferson does not think American can preserve its liberty without religion. Jefferson writes: "And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God?" Tucker thinks Jefferson is insincere when he writes this. Tucker thinks that Jefferson believes that Americans who believe in the Bible are ignorant. Tucker’s esoteric Jefferson bears no resemblance to the exoteric Jefferson. Tucker needs to make a full argument to demonstrate Jefferson’s Heart of Darkness.

It is true, that in the first half of the 19th century that religion flourished. Jefferson was not surprised or disappointed by this. Tocqueville observed that in America, religion was more widespread than in Europe and also that religion was the first political institution in America, precisely because of disestablishment, i.e., Jefferson’s statesmanship. I think, this is what Masugi is saying in his last blog: Amercia puts into practice a divine and reasonable solution to the theological-political problem,which Mausgi says had been worked out in theory by Thomas Aquinas.

A minor point, Tucker asks: don’t we find a consensus at the Founding by excluding from the Founding those who disagreed. Yes, the American Founding is based on consent. It is a voluntary association. So by definition those who disagreed were excluded. Some who excluded themselves had to be defeated.

A minor point, Tucker also seems to understand me better than I understand myself. He writes: "Craig no longer claims that the true religion is reasonable and only reasonable." I would only add: not only, ’no longer’, but also, ’Craig never did’.

Finally, Tucker concludes that "...the speeches of President Bush ... show a greater debt to Biblical religion than to the laws of nature and nature’s God." About this we have not be in dispute. That was why I posted Condi Rice’s talk in the first place. Bush’s speeches reflect a debt to both the Bible and the Declaration of Independence.

More on the Declaration and Christianity

I wonder whether David Tucker’s last post reflects the notion that Christianity is the practical expression of natural-rights political philosophy. Political men should not express themselves as theorists, not in America, but as embodying the strongest convictions of the nation: in this case, Christianity. It is of course most peculiar to make a-political Christianity a practical teaching.


That is, the trans-political is the real expression of the political. Perhaps St. Thomas really is the practical (and theoretical) culmination of Aristotle. That would make the American Founding truly revolutionary, working out in practice what earlier theorists speculated on in theory.

National Strategy for Combating Terrorism

The National Strategy for Combating Terrorism (in PDF File) claims to explain the threat we face and describes a strategy for reducing the scope and capability of terrorist groups so that their activities eventually amount to nothing more than small-scale acts of localized violence. It was released on Valentine’s Day. Somebody has a sense of humor. Two coffees.   

Richard Vedder on the American Economy

Richard Vedder just finished speaking at an Ashbrook lunch. He was excellent (and quite amusing, especially for an economist). The title of the talk was "The American Economy, Past, Present and Future."

New Claremont Review of Books is out

The new issue of the Claremont Review of Books is available, and some of the articles may be had on line (including pieces by Belz, Lawler, Kesler, Codevilla, Stoner, C. Zuckert, Busch, et al). The cover essay is by Christopher Flannery on the novels of Alan Furst (only a part is available on line, but you get the flavor). Although written by a non-blogger, it is excellent, made more so if your inclination is to go back to the not so distant past of the dark European intrigues of the 1930’s which Alan Furst does better than anyone. Look at the whole issue, and, if you haven’t yet, subscribe. Three good Bulgarian coffees.    

Not in My Name

The British Daily Mirror reports that former President Carter of "pay-off-the-North-Koreans-and-they-won’t-build-nuclear-weapons" fame has endorsed the paper’s "Not in My Name Campaign" in opposition to war in Iraq. While I will be the first to question the validity of the following given the unnamed source, if true it is perhaps the most telling statement of how Carter views this country:

In private Carter makes his views about the government known, as a friend of his revealed.

The friend said: "The former President is far too discreet to go mouthing off.

"But people round here do remember him saying, ’Our State Department never gets upset about anything unless white skin or oil is involved’. His words have rung true again."

I’m sure that the people in Afghanistan liberated by the U.S.--a people known for their white skin and oil--would like to have a few words with the ex-President. Oh yeah, and with due respect to the WSJ Best of the Web, Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

The Death of the Clones

As many of you no doubt saw last week, Dolly, the first cloned mammal, was euthanized after developing a severe lung problem. Questions linger as to whether her health conditions, including the onset of conditions that resemble premature aging, were the result of her cloning.

I point out this story only to note that many of the scientists and so-called ethicists who would extend cloning to humans tend to be among the same folks who would extend euthanasia to humans as well. Perhaps Dolly’s end was as much a glimpse at our future as her beginning.

WaPo: Just Vote

The Washington Post has an outstanding editorial this morning on the Estrada filibuster entitled "Just Vote." It is worth quoting at length:

The arguments against Mr. Estrada’s confirmation range from the unpersuasive to the offensive. He lacks judicial experience, his critics say -- though only three current members of the court had been judges before their nominations. He is too young -- though he is about the same age as Judge Harry T. Edwards was when he was appointed and several years older than Kenneth W. Starr was when he was nominated. Mr. Estrada stonewalled the Judiciary Committee by refusing to answer questions -- though his answers were similar in nature to those of previous nominees, including many nominated by Democratic presidents. The administration refused to turn over his Justice Department memos -- though no reasonable Congress ought to be seeking such material, as a letter from all living former solicitors general attests. He is not a real Hispanic and, by the way, he was nominated only because he is Hispanic -- two arguments as repugnant as they are incoherent. Underlying it all is the fact that Democrats don’t want to put a conservative on the court.

A short read, worth three shots of espresso.
   

God, Politics and American Indepndence

David Foster has opened up an interesting question. What would we think if we didn’t think like old Europeans? How independent would he have us become? What would truly independent American thinking be? As part of the effort to answer that question, I return (conveniently) to the last blog of Mickey Craig.

I am not sure I understand the second to last paragraph of that blog but it seems to me that Craig no longer claims that the true religion is reasonable and only reasonable. Instead he claims that “the teachings of the Bible and the teachings of the Lockean/Jeffersonian natural rights doctrine result, practically speaking, in the same understanding of what moral virtue is and what the obligations of citizenship require.” This I think is not true. There are passages in the Bible that sound like the Claremont cosmology (Craig, Masugi and I cited some) but Masugi implicitly pointed to the fact that the Bible does not draw the same conclusion as the Claremont cosmologists draw.

But however that may be, Craig argues that there was a consensus at the time of the Founding that reason and revelation “taught (more or less) the same moral virtues and moral and political obligations, especially the obligations of citizenship.” There may indeed have been such a consensus at the Founding but don’t we establish it simply by excluding from the Founding those who disagreed? In any case, if the consensus existed it had broken down by 1800. Jefferson was vilified in that election as a radical republican and an enemy of religion. This attack was only half-right. Jefferson was an enemy of any religion that was not reasonable and only reasonable. Therefore, he was an enemy of Biblical religion. He was not so foolish as to broadcast his views and, indeed, made use of Biblical imagery in some of his public speeches. But this was in his view a concession to the ignorance of his fellow citizens, which he hoped the passage of time and the spread of enlightenment would remedy. But this was not to be. The American people became increasingly Biblical as the nineteenth-century progressed. (Church attendance also increased.) The Founding was still revered but, rather than reason replacing biblical religion as Jefferson hoped it would, Biblical religion was increasingly brought to bear, in different and conflicting ways, to support or interpret the Founding.

This process continues today, which brings us back to the speeches of President Bush. These, I still contend, show a greater debt to biblical religion than to the laws of nature and of nature’s God.

Proclaiming Our Principles

Gertrude Himmelfarb has a good piece celebrating patriotism (via Lincoln’s Lyceum Speech) on Washington’s birthday. Here is her start:

"We once had ’Founding Fathers.’
Today we have the neutered
’Founders.’ We once celebrated
Washington’s and Lincoln’s
birthdays. Today we celebrate the
anonymous ’Presidents’ Day.’ We
have lost a good deal in this
homogenization and dilution of our
language. We have lost not only a
vital part of our history but also a
way of honoring and transmitting that history."

The War and the Universities

Of the many advantages of going to war against Saddam, there is one important long-term possibility I haven’t seen mentioned. After the determined efforts of France and Germany to prevent the fall of Saddam, the war may go ahead anyway and we may discover that those two European powers were complicit in Saddam’s programs of WMD. Even if that doesn’t happen, plenty of ghastly information about Saddam’s tyranny will emerge, and during the war Saddam will almost certainly do something horrible like gassing the Shiites or blowing up a major dam. In either case, Saddam’s main international protectors, France and Germany, will bear a great deal of the odium. This can only have a beneficial effect on our universities. Readers of this blog are all too aware that the American academy is virtually enslaved to an intellectual life shaped by German and French thinkers - Weber, Foucault, Derrida, Heidegger, Lyotard, Dewey (whoops, I mean Hegel), to name only a few. If the policies of the countries that nourished these folks could be discredited through war against Saddam maybe the thinkers too would be discredited. Ok, I’m dreaming here. But surely it would help. After all, what student would want to study with professors who defended the approach that led to friendship for Saddam? And it seems to me that liberation from this stream of Franco-German thought is a precondition for genuine American independence - one is tempted to say, genuine unilateralism.

Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison

Richard Ruderman conducted an Ashbrook Teachers Seminar for eighty high school teachers on Douglass and Garrison about a week ago. You can listen to the whole thing here (the assigned readings are also noted). It is excellent. It is almost four hours long. Take a pot of coffee with you.

George Washington’s Birthday

Matt Spalding reminds us that this isn’t really president’s day, it’s George Washington’s birthday. Here is the indispensable man’s letter to the Hebrew Congragation at Newport and his rebuke to Colonel Lewis Nicola who wanted Washington to become king. Nicola took this stern rebuke so to hart that he wrote Washington three letters of apology. Washington’s constancy to republican principles prevented him from becoming our Napoleon, while the real Napoleon at his death regretted that he couldn’t become France’s Washington. Perfect.

The French and Us

Mark Steyn argues that the French are really after Tony Blair because he is the odd man out regarding their plans for French domination of EU; Saddam and everything else is secondary. And here is David Frum’s recapitulation on what is going in the UN; it is short and clear.

Booker T. Washington Reconsidered

Carol M. Swain has written a fine short piece on Booker T. Washington. She starts by saying this: "The older I get, the more I appreciate Booker T. Washington’s educational philosophy of self-help and self-reliance for the
masses of blacks. His teachings are all the more striking, since they are directed to a populace that emerged from slavery with
little more than the clothes on their backs." I have also come to appreciate Washington’s purposes more over the years. Although I have taught classes on him for years and have read Up From Slavery and used many of his speeches, it was not until last year that I read virtually everything he wrote. The more I read the impressed I was. The more I read the more I discovered a deep and thoughtful and serious man, an entirely American man. He wrote ten books, gave innumerable speeches, and wrote many essays. He was not swayed by either Du Bois-like elitism or misleading European philosophy. He found himself (and his people) in an extraordinarily difficult (and probably unique) situation and he pushed and cajoled both whites and blacks to see things clearly and to act accordingly. He certainly was one of the greatest American rhetoricians. I have written a chapter for the book Sikkenga and Frost have edited, History of American Political Thought, and it will be published in May. Eventually I’ll get it on line. You might want to look at his famous "Atlanta Exposition Speech", and then the longer "Democracy and Education." Washington said, by the way, of Lincoln that he was "simple, without bigotry and without ostentation." He also said that Lincoln was a self-made man and "was in the truest sense great because he unfettered himself. He climbed up out of the valley, where his vision was narrowed and weakened by the fog and miasma, onto the mountain top, where in a pure and unclouded atmosphere he could see the truth which enabled him to rate all men at their true worth." Read Swain’s piece. Worth two coffees.   

Revenge of the SUVs

Perhaps it’s one of God’s little jokes that this monster snowstorm is falling along the Bos-Wash media axis, but if you look outside (it is still snowing hard here in DC as of 9 a.m.) or watch TV, you will notice that the only cars than can manage the roads are evil SUVs. In fact, local hospitals have asked people with SUVs to volunteer to drive doctors and nurses to work.

Don’t be surprised to see the anti-SUV fervor cool dramatically after this week. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go dig out my Jeep Cherokee. It’s going to be a     job.

Never Mind

This is what I get for abusing the No Left Turns blog for a shameless self-promotion. Alas, my "Kudlow and Cramer" show appearance for Monday has been cancelled on account of the weather. All that shoveling of my driveway today for nothing!

I’ve spent many winter weeks in swanky ski resorts like Sun Valley and Aspen, but I’ve never seen a day of snow like this. Two feet fell today and it is still coming down hard at 8:30 p.m. It may yet set the record for the most snowfall in Washington ever. I blame Osama--or global warming.

The Price of Leadership, the Cost of Conviction

I am taking the title from the speech Prime Minister Blair gave to a Labour Party conference on Saturday, the day after the French may well have succeeded in putting an end to whatever moral/political authority the United Nations had. About half way through the speech Blair says the following:
"I do not seek unpopularity as a badge of honour. But sometimes it is the price of leadership. And the
cost of conviction."
In short Blair is standing firm (despite opinion polls showing that he may pay a political price, although it must be said that British opinion is turning more to the Blair-U.S. position on Iraq now that the French perfidy is clear!). He sounds positively Churchillian. Good for him, good for us. I am confident that President Bush is equally firm. The word leadership is much too loosely thrown around today; we are watching it at work.

Here is the French Foreign Minister’s remarks at the Security Council on Friday. It is an increadably silly and vapid argument for permanent inspections, completely misinterpreting resolution 1441. It is also now becoming clear that the French, when they signed unto 1441, never meant to carry through with it: they have been disingenuous from the start. Also note that de Villepin understands the UN to be a "temple" and that he understands that "we are the guardians of an ideal, the guardians of conscience." This is Rousseauian crap and his few bad words are matched with as few good deeds.

In the meantime, Iraq has spurned the French alternative, they will not agree to the thousand U.N. peace inspection troops proposed by the French. The French are the only one’s surprised by this. Also note that Bulgaria is not amused by the bullying tactics of the French; they are nobly resisting the French threat to keep Bulgaria out of the EU unless it comes to support the French position. The Foreign Minister of Bulgaria said this about the ways of Old Europe: "We all remember the
hesitancy of the Allies, who weren’t sure whether to
attack Hitler. They could have prevented so much.

We’re in a situation where we have a moral imperative to
act and act now." And here is the connection between the New Europe and the United States. Fred Kaplan has a good overview of Friday’s events, as does David Warren. Please read both. Here is the Foreign Minister of the United Kingdom Jack Straw’s speech to the Security Council. It’s a good speech, but, unfortunately, his off-the-cuff remarks at the start of it (in response to which nation is old and which new) is not included. Straw said that indeed his country is also old--and he paused--founded in 1066 by the French. Amusing.

And the Weekly Standard reprints excerpts from Colin Powell’s off-the-cuff remarks in response to the Weasels. Powell was clearly angry (again) at the French. Churchill once said that he went into politics because he was ambitious. When asked why he stayed in politics, he replied, "anger." Powell is now a politician. Good for him, good for us.

Loitering Weapons

Although these new weapons--they can loiter over a battlefield and "sleep" until a target presents itself--are not yet available, they are pretty cool and worth noting.

A Civics Lesson Missed

I was going to get on a plane and go to Washington this afternoon to attend a White House Forum entitled "We the People: A White House Forum on History, Civics, and Service." Alas, old man winter has done its worse and not only flights to Reagan National, but the event itself has been cancelled. As a rule I am not much for meetings, but this--and not only because I got a handsome invitation saying "The President cordially invites you..."--I wanted to attend because the subject speaks its own importance, and in today’s world the subject is pressing. And I wanted to see what others had to say on the subject, and was willing to add my two cents. All this will have to be left for another day. In the meantime, see this good piece by Matthew Spalding from today’s Washington Times characterizing the issue:

"The American Founders argued that
self-government requires civic and history education. Not
only must future citizens know that legitimate government is
grounded in the protection of equal natural rights and the
consent of the governed — the principles of the Declaration
of Independence — they also must understand and
appreciate how the Constitution and our institutions of limited
government work to protect liberty and the rule of law."

Those who forget the lessons of the past. . .

I’ve been taking a hiatus from blogging this month because February is the month each year when I have to write my annual Index of Leading Environmental Indicators for Earth Day in April, and it always requires morning to night work with as few distractions as possible.

But today I came across this news photo of protesters in London with the sign "Peace in our time." Of course, the last time this slogan was on the lips of Britons, they got war anyway. You’d think a few people might remember this.

Now for the shameless self-promotion part of this blog: I am booked Monday night on "Kudlow and Cramer" on CNBC to observe Presidents’ Day and comment on Reagan a bit (that is, assuming nothing happens in the next 24 hours to pre-empt the show, and assuming I can get my jeep--thank God for SUVs!--out of the two feet of snow we are supposed to have on the ground and make my way downtown). I am supposed to be on the second half hour of the program, about 8:30 p.m. eastern time.

Security Council

Busy day, all around. I have about a thousand words to say about the Security Council meeting that took place today. Here is the picture. I watched a good bit of it up at the Cleveland Clinic with Vicki (all is well). You might want to glance at this Reuters report on the meeting. It is entitled, "Major Powers Insist on Iraq Inspections." Major powers? Germany, France? What are the United Kingdom and the United States, potted plants? I’m sure I will be amused by this once France’s only aircraft carrier is fully functional and is able to get out of port, or when the German army goes into action on behalf of liberty. Until then, I’ll just be angry.

I’m going to withold further comment until about Wednesday, but, if you must read something sensible, here is a wrap-up from Andrew Sullivan:


"The lesson from this is a simple
one: we have to abandon the U.N. as an instrument in
world affairs. I’m not saying complete U.S. withdrawal,
although I’m beginning to think that now makes a lot of
sense. I mean temporary U.S. disengagement. The body
is now a joke of immense proportions. If it cannot
enforce a resolution it passed only a couple of months
ago, it cannot enforce anything. If it cannot read the
plain meaning of its own words, it is an absurdist theater
piece, not a genuine international body. It isn’t in
danger of becoming the League of Nations. It now is the
League of Nations. The difference is that this time, after
9/11, U.S. isolationism is not an option. So U.S.
non-U.N. multilateralism is the only option for any future
threats to world order. God knows we cannot rely on
Europe to keep the peace. The Old Europeans will regret
this deeply in the years to come. They have just told us
in no uncertain terms to ignore them. We should. We
will. And in the post-Saddam settlement, we must
actively shut out the French and Germans from any slice
of the economic action and tear up whatever contracts
they had with Saddam. They have told us how highly
they value the lives of American citizens. We can now
tell them how highly we value their export markets."

Alt on Mary Landrieu and Miguel Estrada

Robert Alt has a good piece on National Review Online titled ¿Cómo
Se Dice
“Liar”?
about Mary Landrieu’s duplicitous use of Miguel Estrada in a campaign ad.

Filibuster Procedure

Slate has a good article explaining how a "real" filibuster operates, and has some anecdotes from its prior use. One cup read.  

Diversity, shmersity

In a recent Townhall.com essay, Sowell essay, Thomas Sowell skewers diversity as an allegedly necessary tool for our 21st-Century global world:

How do companies in Japan manage to sell everything from cars to cameras, in countries around the world, without having that mystic "diversity"? How does a country with such a racially homogeneous population even manage to educate its young people if "diversity" is such an essential factor in education?

10th Circuit Upholds Affirmative Action

A three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court decision by ruling Denver’s affirmative action program for racial minorities satisfies a compelling state interest (and is narrowly tailored) to remedy the effects of previous discrimination in the construction industry. Discrimination against women was also covered under this ruling.

The case, CONCRETE WORKS OF COLORADO v. CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER, applied the usual strict scrutiny test with regards to race and intermediate scrutiny with regards to sex discrimination. You know things are bad when the court starts using phrases like "disparity index" and "underutilization" to determine if an individual has receieved the equal protection of the laws or not.

I’m still trying to figure out if this case was decided correctly or not, one problem being that the 10th Circuit Court decided that it didn’t have to decide the "narrowly tailored" question because the district court (in another previous ruling) decided the program was narrowly tailored and the plaintiff did not raise the issue originally.

Concrete Works of Colorado will appeal to the Supremes.

New Media Technology for the War

The Los Angeles Times (registration required) reports that there has been a "quantum leap" in technology available to cover the upcoming war with Iraq for television crews since the Gulf War. This should bring the war closer to your couch. The TV types are keeping the leap close to their vest. No one is talking about details.

On the Iraq War, again

This story out of the London Times contradicts the Thomas Ricks story I cited earlier today. It claims that there will be a very fierce air attack before troops move in, and that we will need to capture or kill Saddam within 48 hours of the start, else the populace will be too afraid to side with us. The Ricks report sounds more authoritative. Also note this story on who is going to rule Iraq after the war (General Tommy Franks) and that some anti-Saddam opposition groups are already complaining because it will mean that too much of the current power structure will have to stay in place.

Holbrook as Twain

This is a pleasant article from the Arts section of today’s New York Times about how Hal Holbrook has been playing Mark Twain on stage for almost fifty years. As Twain might say: "There are people who think that honesty is the best policy. This is a superstition; there are times when the appearance of it is worth six of it."

The Shape of the Iraq War

Thomas Ricks has a good piece in today’s Washington Post on the likely shape of the war against Iraq. It is going to be, he thinks, entirely different from the Gulf War:

"The ground operation points to a Pentagon war plan that is
shaping up to be dramatically different than the one carried
out by the United States and its allies in the 1991 Persian
Gulf War. Instead of beginning with a massive aerial
bombardment, the plan envisions a series of preliminary
ground actions to seize Iraqi territory and effectively encircle
Baghdad before a large-scale air campaign hits the capital,
defense officials and analysts said."

The political consequences of this will be significant. If you can occupy three-quarters of Iraq virtually immediately, without firing many shots, and be received as liberators among the population you will: One, learn a lot about where some weapons are and, two, placate many of the Arab states because you will have done it quickly with minimum damage. But, of course, then the critical question will become whether or not Baghad will surrender, or can be taken reasonably quickly. The assumptions that the aerial bombardment (precise, no doubt) will be very useful in taking Baghdad, and that even the Special Republican Guards, presumably in Baghdad, will not put up much of a fight, are large assumptions. And this article claims that some military planners think that our air strategy is too timid.

The Statesman, The Tyrant, and Wit

The nature of the statesman and the tyrant is an old and perennial question, and a recent book approaches it by comparing Churchill and Hitler. In a review of this book is this suggestive paragaph:

Both are always said to be great orators, but where Hitler’s speeches are barely rational, musically thunderous orations, Churchill’s have a noble sense, starting with conversational and informal tones, and rising slowly to moments of great poetry. The crucial difference is that Churchill was a wit, and Hitler not. Hitler’s humour extended only to extremely cruel practical jokes; Churchill’s style was more devoted to the bitchy put-down, like his comment that Philip Snowden’s arrival among the Treasury faithful was like the meeting of two long-separated kindred lizards, or the startling, apt metaphor — ‘punishing China is like flogging a jellyfish’.

Prof. Craig’s Prudence

On being voted by students professor of the year at Hillsdale College, Mickey Craig declared that the honor indeed showed how well he had taught his students-- stuff the ballot box! I will supplement his votes from Scripture with the mention of 1 Peter 2:16: "You are slaves of no one except God, and never use your freedom as a cover for wickedness" (New Jerusalem Bible, but see the context, too).

The Balanced D.C. Circuit

You can see my thoughts on Estrada and the balance of the DC Circuit on National Review Online.

Terrorist Threat in Britain

For those who haven’t noticed, the Brits are claiming that they are facing a terrorist threat of the magnitude of 9/11. The threat is taken so seriously that Blair has contemplated shutting down Heathrow airport. They fear a small device, probably a hand-held rocket that was to be used against an Israeli plane in Kenya last year.

France and NATO

John Keegan has a very thoughtful and serious analysis of what the French are up to with their "breathtaking event" (as Rummy called it), preventing Turkey from invoking Article Four. David Warren weighs in on the same theme. And George Will maintains that President Bush’s budget has some radical implications, and not only for domestic policy. NATO may have served its usefulness. One good coffee. 

Another Response to Masugi and Tucker

Mein Lieb Herr Doktor Masugi advises that we might not be prudent to discuss these things in public. He refers to Publius and Fed #11. If a prudent man tells me to stop, I will. It might be better to have this discussion in a Nocturnal Council where as I recall old men talk to young men about nasty things under the cover of darkness. My view is the cat is out of the bag and, in any event, a blog site is the modern day equivalent of a Nocturnal Council. After all, what should citizens do more than engage in free argument and debate about such matters.

Dr. Tucker makes large demands on me. I shall try to respond.

First, he demands: "I would like Craig to give me the Biblical passages that show liberty is the gift of god as Craig explicates liberty." I trust Tucker will be patient with my response in that it will, at least initially, only refer to a few passages in the Bible.
For a definition of Liberty: One of Washington’s favorites: Micah 4:4, "Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken."

In Genesis 1:25-31, God creates man in his image, and gives man dominion over all other creatures. Much as Aristotle, the Bible understands that there is a qualitative difference between man and beast. Man is the natural or divine ruler of the other beasts.

Regarding equality, I think, a couple of references to the Golden Rule will have to suffice for now: Matthew 7:12 or Luke 6:31-And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Lincoln’s paraphrase, as I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. Jefferson’s paraphrase: the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately.

If I might make reference to one more authority, I recommend Michael Novak’s "On Two Wings" to supplement this discussion.

Tucker chides me for relying on authority in my earlier blog and says my references to Jaffa, West (Tom and Sam) , Locke, Tocqueville, etc. are irrelevant. He then demands that I give an account of my ’Claremont Cosmology’. How can one do that without reference to Jaffa, West, etc.?

I do agree with Tucker when he writes reason and revelation "arrive at more or less the same place, they do so from different starting points." That was one of my points in the earlier blog. Starting points or thoughts about the first things or thoughts about quid sit deus, are the most important questions, and, in the American context, the most important right, the right of conscience. I did not mean to settle any theological or philosophical disputes about first things. What I did suggest is that the teachings of the Bible and the teachings of the Lockean/Jeffersonian natural rights doctrine result, practically speaking, in the same understanding of what moral virtue is and what the obligations of citizenship require. (See another one of Washington’s favorite Bible passages: Micah 6:8, The Lord hath shown you, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?) I only meant to suggest that I believe there was a consensus at the Founding that reason and revelation taught (more or less) the same moral virtues and moral and political obligations, especially the obilgations of citizenship. That consensus was the opinion (consent) which was the source of the just powers of government. I believe "W" reflects better than any President (or public office holder) in my lifetime, a healthy synthesis (or partial ’amalgamation’) of those two traditions.

One more brief comment; Tucker says that Jefferson and Samuel West as ’progenitors of Unitarianism’ destroy Christianity. I don’t think Christianity has been destroyed. I don’t think Jefferson’s private thoughts can or could destroy Christianity. (And, if God is Dead, let’s rely on that great authority Nietzsche’s Zarathustra. The Ugliest man killed God. Not the hell-hound democracy, or the fire-dragon Jefferson.) Does Tucker want to argue that disestablishment is the fatal flaw of the founding sowing the seeds of a liberalism that is relativisitic, nihilistic, etc.?

Ok, maybe not so brief: I think Tucker draws a false conclusion when he writes: "Religion within the bounds of reason leads to desiccated liberalism." This misrepresenta my earlier blog. Yes, religion that is governed by reason is dead, intellectually and ,certainly, spritually, dry. I don’t think that "religion within the bounds of reason" is the religion (or reason) of the Founding, Jefferson, the Bible or Claremont cosmology (or what I said in my earlier blog). The religion of the Founding is not bound by reason. God is creator. Man, yes, is a rational/consenting being. Made in God’s image. What might god be? John 1:1-2, "In the beginning was the word/logos, and the word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God." Man made in the image of God, God is the word, the word is logos. In the end, perhaps Tucker and I agree and Masugi is right we shouldn’t be talking about this: So, yes, religion separated from reason becomes cruel fanaticism (pious cruelty), and reason (or science) separated from religion/morals becomes cynicism. I don’t think Jefferson desiccates religion or reason.

Prudence dictates that I stop here. Not for Unitarian reasons but for a Utilitarian reason. I have go back to work.

Anti-French Story, not funny

Tom DeLay (who received the Ashbrook Award for this year at CPAC!) tells the following story at this end of this WaPo article on how Congress is irritated at the French (thanks to Kathryn Lopez at NRO): "I was at a celebration of India’s Independence Day," he told reporters, "and a
Frenchman came walking up to me and started talking to me about Iraq, and it was obvious we were not going to agree. And I
said, ’Wait a minute. Do you speak German?’ And he looked at me kind of funny and said, ’No, I don’t speak German.’ And I
said, ’You’re welcome,’ turned around and walked off."

Osama bin Laden’s Latest Missive

Here is the full transcript from the Washington Post. It obviously merits careful reading, but even on a quick reading a few things stand out. One, it is important to him that Iraq doesn’t fall to the infidels even if Iraq is not ruled by Muslims. Two, his utter contempt for the American soldier (full of "fear and cowardice and absence of fighting spirit") reveals how he misunderstands those who live (and fight for) freedom. And my third point is that I don’t understand the emphasis on the trenches. Is it possible that the heart of the speech has a different meaning than the obvious? Anyway, read the rant. No coffee, to Hell with him!

Old Europe

Although I am still thinking (now more hope than reason?) that the French and the Germans are just play-acting, I admit that it is looking more and more like their unilateralism is for real. They are making a big mistake, many unpleasant consequences will follow for the U.N., for the EU, and for NATO. Here is the speech that Senator John McCain gave in Munich on Feb 8th (from NRO) that is very much worth reading. In the meantime there are problems in Old Germany. Schroeder is in trouble politically, feuding with his foreign minister, Fischer, over the leaks about the French-German plan. Now there are calls for Schroeder’s resignation. There are many odd complications to the Germans’ problems, not the least of which is that Fischer (a Green) seems to be more hawkish than Schroeder (a Social Democrat). This lengthy piece from The New Republic from 2001 about Fischer and Kosovo may be worth re-reading. The ex-radical (and terrorist?) Fischer might be on his way toward becoming the next Chancellor of Germany as he keeps moving to the right of Schroeder. And Steven Den Beste’s thoughts on why the Germans are acting as they are is worth reading.

Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday

Today is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. In celebration you ought to re-read one or two of his speeches. The Gettysburg Address will do, as will the Fragment on the Constitution and Union, or the Second Inaugural. I remind you of Charnwood’s statement about the latter: "The Second Inaugural is one of the few speeches by a great man at the crisis of his fate on the sort of occasion which a tragedian telling his story would have devised for him." Needless to say, the speech is not unrelated to the God and politics discussions below.

NLT is Back

We were down yesterday for some adjustments; sorry about that, it took a bit longer than we planned. All is well now and, God willing (and Roger’s art), should stay that way.

God and Politics

In an earlier blog, Ken Masugi argued that President Bush’s State of the Union speech was grounded in the Declaration of Independence. I thought not for several reasons, one of which was that Bush seems to draw his inspiration from the God of revelation more than he does from the laws of nature and of nature’s God, as the Declaration puts it. I admitted that the dictates of these two Gods could be compatible but suggested that they were different fundamentally. Mickey Craig disagrees. He insists that the God of revelation and the God of the Declaration are the same.

Why does this matter? More perhaps than any other country, the United States, through its founding ideas and the faith of its citizens, is or has been based on both reason and revelation. In discussing their relation, we are discussing the character of the United States and its citizens.

So, is Craig right that the God of the Declaration and the God of revelation are the same or as he also puts it, that true religion is reasonable?

In his blog, Craig appeals to authority by referring to John Locke, Tom West, Harry Jaffa and Samuel West and mentions Tocqueville, and eastern Straussians besides. All of this is irrelevant.

One of Craig’s assertions is to the point. In answer to my question “How can Bush know that Liberty is a gift of God,” Craig says that Bush can know this through revelation and by reasonable observation. I would like Craig to give me the biblical passages that show that liberty is the gift of God as Craig explicates liberty (according to the Claremont cosmology: beast-man-God)? Psalm 8, which is the Biblical passage closest to that cosmology, as far as I know, mentions neither equality nor liberty. Reasoned observation might lead us to the Claremont cosmology and its political corollaries, and in this case the Claremont cosmology and revelation might be compatible, but if they arrive at more or less the same place, they do so from different starting points and through different processes of reasoning. To take one example of the biblical understanding, Paul speaks of liberty but this comes by grace not through man’s place in nature. It is in fact through grace that we overcome the laws of nature, according to Paul, and achieve liberty.

Take another example: reason and revelation are in accord in announcing that God is one. But we learn from revelation and only from revelation about the trinity, our fallen nature and Christ saving us through his death and resurrection. Because reason does not teach any of this, Jefferson took all of it out of the New Testament, and much else, thereby destroying Christianity. Or, as Craig would have it, making it true religion. In the sermon so esteemed by Craig, Samuel West mentions Christ once, as far as I can tell, just before he says “Amen.” Jefferson and West are progenitors of Unitarianism and the desiccated, merely inertial moral posturing that now characterizes much of liberal opinion in the United States.

This returns us to the question of why this matters. Religion within the bounds of reason leads to desiccated liberalism; religion without the bounds of reason may lead to fanaticism. Reason and revelation need each other but they can only help each other if they retain their distinct characters. To amalgamate them threatens both and by extension the United States. This I take to be one of the basic propositions of the Claremont cosmology.

The Meaning of Declaration-- Advice from The Federalist

Thank you all for your thoughtful exchanges on the meaning of the Declaration of Independence and President Bush’s State of the Union Address. Unfortunately, I am caught back east, and time and computer access are scarce. I would paraphrase in this connection what Hamilton said in Federalist # 11: that some matters are not appropriate for a blogsite exchange. Call me a coward! But I’ll give it more thought, too. For this is an exceptional blogsite.

The NLT Will Down on Tuesday

Both NLT and the Ashbrook site will be down starting just after midnight and will be down most of the morning on Tuesday. We hope to get it back up by 2 P.M. on Tuesday. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Stonehenge King from the Alps

This could lead to a further deterioration in relations between Britain and the Old Europe. Archeologists are saying that the "Amesbury Archer" (later dubbed King of Stonehenge), who lived about 4,000 years ago and was found a few miles from Stonehenge a year ago was probably from modern day Switzerland (maybe even Germany or Austria). They know this from the tests they conducted on the enamel of his teeth.

The French and Hollywood

There’s another anti-French crack making the rouonds on the internet: "going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion." I love it. God help me, I love it so.

And re another member of the anti-US axis, I enjoyed this one by John McCain. In a recent sppech, he said that if "Washington is a Hollywood for ugly people," then, considering the remarks coming out of Tinseltown about Iraq, "Hollywood is a Washington for the simpleminded."

Lincoln the Improver

Lincoln was not only a self-made man, but an improver par excellence. This is seen most clearly in his transforming of a paragraph William Seward suggested Lincoln use to conclude his first inaugural address: Lincoln’s revision of Seward’s formulations led him to develop that great closing phrase, "the better angels of our nature."

Regarding Safire’s essay on the Gettysburg Address, I should add that historian Don E. Fehrenbacher offers additional support for Lincoln’s deliberate use of a biblical locution for time—“Four score and seven years ago.” As I point out in my book, Lincoln’s Sacred Effort: Defining Religion’s Role in American Self-Government, Fehrenbacher suggested that Lincoln gleaned the opening sentence of his Gettysburg Address from a speech of Pennsylvania Congressman Galusha A. Grow.

When the 37th Congress first met in special session on July 4, 1861, Grow was elected Republican speaker of the House of Representatives. Early in his acceptance speech, Congressman Grow referred to the birth of the American nation in imagery strikingly similar to Lincoln’s over two years later at Gettysburg:

“Fourscore years ago fifty-six bold merchants, farmers, lawyers, and mechanics, the representatives of a few feeble colonists, scattered along the Atlantic sea-board, met in convention to found a new empire, based on the inalienable rights of man.”

Anticipating Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Congressman Grow dates the nation’s birth not to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, but to the signing of the Declaration of Independence:

“Seven years of bloody conflict ensued, and the 4th of July, 1776, is canonized in the hearts of the great and the good as the jubilee of oppressed nationalities; and in the calendar of heroic deeds it marks a new era in the history of the race.”

Grow later refers to the time elapsed since the Declaration of Independence as “Three quarters of a century,” and, similar to Lincoln’s allusion to Psalms 90, observes that the anniversary of July 4th occurs “after a period but little exceeding that of the allotted lifetime of man.” Given Lincoln’s obvious desire to work with the newly elected Congress to put down the insurrection, it is quite likely that he read House Speaker Grow’s speech.

At Gettysburg Lincoln would adopt Grow’s biblical reference to the nation’s founding in a way that invested America’s birth and present struggle with spiritual significance. In a speech that makes no explicit reference to the Bible or Christianity, Lincoln still manages from the outset to imbue the dedication at Gettysburg with theological import.

More support for Lincoln’s deliberate allusion to the Psalms is found in a letter he wrote to a lifelong Democrat, 105-year-old Deacon John Phillips, who voted for both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln: “The example of such devotion to civic duties in one whose days have already extended an average life time beyond the Psalmist’s limit, cannot but be valuable and fruitful.” (To John Phillips (21 November 1864), in Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, 8:118.)

NBIC (Nanotechnology, plus)

The New York Times has a relatively clear article on how nanotechnology, biotechnology, electronics, and brain research on converging into some new field for now called NBIC (for Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Science, and Cognitive science). Here is the site of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. Fascinating, but like a pretty woman strolling, fundamentally mysterious. Yet, you may want to file it, for a later look.

"The organizers believe that there are potentially large benefits to nanotechnology, which focuses on materials and processes with
dimensions so small they are affected by the behavior of individual atoms and molecules. But they say the greatest opportunities
lie in bridging the gaps between the rapidly growing ranks of nanoengineers and researchers in other fields — professionals who
often use such different terms to describe their work that their common interests go unnoticed.

For instance, nanotechnology researchers suspect that the natural world’s ability to assemble atoms into complex tissues with
very exact specifications may hold the key to making vast quantities of minute, inexpensive pollution sensors or solar cells.
Bioengineers, on the other hand, are looking to artificial nanostructures as possible drug delivery systems or as scaffolds to help
injured organs repair themselves."

Response to Tucker and Masugi on the Declaration

In response to the blogs of Drs. Tucker and Masugi , I would say the following: Tucker argues that the God of the Declaration and the God of special revelation are different Gods, perhaps not incompatible but different. I don’t think this is correct. Certainly John Locke in the 2nd Treatise sees the laws of nature as the laws of God. (See Tom West’s recent writings on this, e.g., the lecture he gave on Locke to the Family Research Council). As Masugi points out, Jefferson said that the Declaration was an expression of the American Mind not necessarily simply a reflection of Jefferson’s understanding. As an expression of the American mind, the Declaration reflects the opinion at the time of the Founding that the political and moral teaching of the Bible (Old and New Testaments) and the political and moral teachings of the natural rights doctrine are one and the same. On this point, see the sermon of Samuel West, ‘On the Right to Rebel against Governors’ (found in Charles Hyneman and Donald Lutz, eds., American Political Writings during the Founding Era: 1706-1805, Volume I) and the sermon of John Witherspoon, ‘The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men’ (found in Ellis Sandoz, ed., Political Sermons of the American Founding Era: 1730-1805). True religion is reasonable and true reason is moral.

In all of his speeches but especially since 9/11/01, Bush’s policies and statements emerge from the idea that ‘our deepest national conviction is that all of us are equally creatures of God.’ (That conviction is also what Bush follows regarding abortion, judicial appointments, and other domestic or social issues.) This was stated most explicitly in the Ellis Island Speech of 9/11/02. The ‘Axis of Evil’ is evil precisely because it rejects the central idea of the Declaration of Independence. Their actions, like the merciless Indian savages mentioned in the Declaration, e.g., the intentional killing of innocent men, women, and children, show their barbarism. Their barbarism is manifiest in the intentional killing of innocents. Their rejection of morality is unreasonable and their unreasonableness or fanaticism leads them to hijack religion. So, unlike Mausgi, I believe that Bush and Rice, (and one expects their speech-writers) are well versed in the Declaration as interpreted by Thomas Jefferson and Harry Jaffa. Bush, like Jaffa, sees no conflict between the ideas of equality and liberty as articulated in the Declaration. Tocqueville and most Eastern Straussians make that mistake because they interpret equality as radically individualistic (i.e., following Rousseau, they see man as perfectible and thus not only as pre-political but also pre-social, pre-rational, and ultimately pre-human.) Fortunately, Bush is from West Texas and apparently knew what to ignore when at Yale and Harvard. It is true that Bush’s courage and prudence seems to follow from his deep religious conviction. Tucker asks; ‘How can Bush know that liberty is a gift of God.’ He can know it by revelation but he can also know it by reasonable observation: No man is a god and no man is a beast and no man is ruled (or ought to be ruled) by another without his voluntary consent. The enemy we face is animated by a fanaticism which is not informed by reason or revelation (unless we say that a willful God can will evil). Jefferson put it most eloquently in the Notes on the State of Virginia when he wrote: “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?”

I don’t mean to dismiss the important theological and philosophical arguments which Tucker raises. Whether God is willful or nor or bound by intelligible necessity or not are important questions. Indeed, Jefferson believed that God created the mind free and thus imperfect men would disagree about these question of conscience. Is there one God, two Gods, no God, 20 gods? Is it good because God wills it or does God will it because it is good? These are questions of conscience but not questions of policy.

Regarding Condoleezza Rice for higher office, I had expressed doubt about that when Dr. Schramm first suggested it. (My greatest doubt was: how could a Stanford Provost possibly have the convictions I think an important office holder should have?) I don’t make the recommendation based simply on her comments at the Prayer Breakfast. Following what has happened since 9/11, I have been most impressed by her words and deeds. Based on articles in the national press and various books, e.g., Bob Woodards’ Bush at War, she strikes me as the right stuff. I would have her run for the U.S. Senate in California, Maryland or Alabama first but the Vice Presidency may be ok as well. What struck me most about the comments at the National Prayer Breakfast was the reasonableness of her deep moral convictions. In this, she is like Bush.

A Note on the Gettysburg Address

William Safire has a worthy note on the Gettysburg Address in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine that is worth a read. Also note Ken Masugi’s addition at The Remedy:

"While it’s good that William Safire uses his Feb. 9 Sunday NY
Times Magazine ’On Language’ column to discuss the
Gettysburg Address, it’s too bad that he didn’t note that
Lincoln’s dating of the nation’s age comes from the 90th
Psalm, in the language of the King James Bible, which dates
a man’s years as at most four score-- to live longer is to risk
decrepitude. The Civil War is America’s ’four score and
seven’-- is America ready for the grave? That is the
Lincoln’s challenge-- to make a free nation last longer than a
human lifespan."

Replace France with India on Security Council?

Thomas Friedman, who has continued to become more serious in his analyses since 9/11, has an interesting proposal in yesterday’s New York Times: Replace France with India on the Security Council. The important point here is not that this is going to happen (besides, if the UN continues its slide into irrlevance it will not matter) but that it is not a preposterous opinion. France is being silly, petty, incoherent, and is using up her moral capital. He says, "There is room for disagreement. There is no room for lack of seriousness."

U.S. Relations with Old Europe Continues Slide

Germany, France, and Belgium blocked NATO efforts to begin planning for possible Iraqi attacks against Turkey, and Gallup reports that U.S. opinion on France and Germany becomes more negative. Although the veto of the Turkey action is by no means irreversible, it once again shows that France and Germany are being serious in their attempt to both disrupt or delay U.S. plans, and to manifest an anti-American attitude to gain favor with the public; both Chirac and Schroeder were barely elected and are in desperate need of regaining public support, hence their demagoguery. But in the end--even if they come fully aboard regarding Iraq--they have started a process that will continue to make the trust-gap even larger. This will have massive geopolitical consequences for the U.S., but especially for the Old Europe. This will be especially significant if France and Germany continue to push Russia in their direction. If Russia succumbs (they will be fools to do so) the New European pro-U.S. bloc will solidify into granite. Here are George Will, Bill Safire, and Andrew Sullivan on themes related to this. And here a piece from today’s NYTimes by Josef Joffe, the editor of the German weekly Die Zeit to give you a sensible German view, albeit prickly. Settle back with some good coffee, and if you are pro-Old Europe, contemplate your own doom.   

Rumsfeld Relatives Disown Him

This is from the London Telegraph and it is a detailed story about how some so-called Rumsfeld relatives in Germany do not like him anymore. Rummy’s great-great grandfather came to America in the 19th century but, somehow over the years some distant relatives re-established contact and used to be proud of him, but no longer. Read the quotes from the Germans with care, they are revealing. (Thanks to NRO.)

Students Promote Democracy

There is a movement afoot among students nation-wide (indeed, world-wide). Here is the article from the Yale Daily News announcing it. And here is their Statement of Principles. This may be worth paying attention to.

Uzbeks are Like Germans?

I came across this by chance (as I do most things) and even though it’s politically incorrect and will offend half of my friends (e.g., Germans, Irish, Welsh) it is pretty cute, so I pass it on. It is an attempt by a blogger to explain the character of the people in the ex-Soviet Republics of Central Asia--you know all the countries that end in Stan--by comparing them to those you might be more familiar with. For example, here are the ones trying to understand the Uzbeks and the Tajiks (for the others you will have to go to cinderellabloggerfella):

"Uzbeks are the Germans of Central Asia. There’s lots of
them, they spill over borders, they like hard work, lack much
of a sense of humour, are very clean, think they should run
the region, are plain and hefty to look at, sing the praises of
stodgy food in vast quantities, and are cordially despised by
their neighbours, whom they regard as a bunch of
degenerate nomads and Russian-lickspittles."

"The Tajiks are the Irish of Central Asia. An ancient and
cultured people, fond of singing and poetry, proud of their
descent from the Persians. They inhabit a small, beautiful
country, but are often more divided north against south
than they are united. And God gave them a right bunch of
bastards as neighbours. They have the strongest trend of
religious fanaticism in the region, and are the only country to
have had a proper civil war. They know that when they ran
Central Asia sure it was grand, and that’s good enough for
them. There’s also millions of them running another country
- Afghanistan - and think they’re doing a good enough job of
that. They think their neighbours are degenerate nomads,
but agree with most of them on the urgent need to lick
Russian spittle. Their neighbours think they have girly voices
and lead the regional pederasty league."

Garmany’s Role in the Building of the Iraqi WMD

Of course I cannot vouch for the details (or the seriousness) of this article from the Asia Times but it is worth contemplating. It claims to lay out what the German foreign intelligence service knows about the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, how it is being hidden from the public, and the high political (domestic and foerign) costs at stake. It seems that most of the materials and know-how for WMD were sold to Iraq by German firms, both before and after the Gulf War. The Christian Democrats are yelling about this but, so far, to no avail. Worth a coffee.  

A Pro-War Liberal’s View

Bill Keller writes in today’s New York Times that is worth reading not because it is deep thinking, but because I think it well reflects the way a liberal tries to think through the issue of war with Iraq and what American foreign policy should be based on. Although there is a prejudice against Bush (or at least some of his people), he explains how liberals can take cover under people like Pollack, Blair, and Blix, liberals who support Bush’s case. He also explains how many of the Clinton people (including Pollack) seemed to have learned something from the Bosnia and Kosovo episode and the Milosevic regime change. He raises the typical questions about merely projecting American power or building democracies, etc. Worth one coffee.  

What Will the Iraq War be Like?

Victor Davis Hanson has a thousand plus words on this question. He attempts to analyze how the war might go without self-righteous bluster or hysteria. He thinks he is being reasonable by appealing to our knowledge of military history generally, and that of Iraq in particular. It will probably be over quickly and go quite smoothly. Very much worth reading. Two coffees.   

Tillman Now a Ranger

Pat Tillman is now an Army Ranger. You will remember that he gave up a lucrative football contract with the Cardinals in order to join the Army. He is still not giving interviews; but he is ready to be deployed. (Thanks to Andrew Sullivan).

The Abolitionists

Richard Ruderman just finished an Ashbrook Colloquium on Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. It is very good, and you can listen to it (about an hour and ten minutes) by clicking on his name.

What is the Meaning of the Declaration of Independence: The President and the Professor

Yes, David Tucker raises some important issues, both scholarly and eminently practical.

The links to the Declaration in the President’s speech remain, and I think more clearly than he allows. Based on his analysis, does Tucker intend to put a wedge between the Massachusetts Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence? President Bush is not Harry Jaffa, and does not have his understanding of equality, nor, just as important, of God. Yet the President winds up where the Professor is heading. For Jaffa, equality means that men are between the Divine and the bestial. Equality is revealed in our freedom. I think this follows from his emphasis on nature as being something different from God, binding God as though nature was like Kant’s imperative. (By the way, I think it is important to take the Declaration as modified by Congress as an "expression of the American mind," not of Jefferson’s quirks.) For President Bush, equality is a result of a creating God.

The Declaration allows us to see God both as the philosopher sees Him and as the pious man does; that is, it takes the perspective of the good citizen in a good regime. But His commandments are surprisingly harmonious, at least on the political level. thus the Declaration speaks universally, when it comes to the issue of justice.

There is no John Locke for Islam, and it may be the case that Islam does not permit such a figure to arise. (There may have been an Islamic Thomas Aquinas in Averroes or Al-Farabi, but I’m not sure what political commands would issue from them.) That appears to be the philosophic issue we’re dealing with today. And, while the struggle be long, the need to apply the best technology of war is more compelling than the wish that Islam would uncover its John Locke post haste. In other words, I would agree with David that "I recognize that the God of the Declaration is not necessarily incompatible with the God that speaks to Bush and Rice but which God we have in mind when we think about politics and act politically makes a difference. This is especially so as we confront an implacable enemy inspired by his own special revelation."

But I think the problem is less one of special revelation but rather one of not accepting the authority of reason. By combining the two, the American Founding can be both particular and universal at the same time, just as the universal God was first revealed to a particular, chosen People. This separates civilized people from barbarians.

Turkish Truckers in Iraq

This is a very interesting read from the Philadelphia Inquirer. It tells the tale of truckers from Turkey who regularly drive to Iraq. They see a military buildup and bedraggled soldiers and a dislike/hatred of Saddam. It sounds to me that the people are waiting for the Americans. One coffee, sipped slowly.  

God and Politics

I would like to comment on three items on the blog. Two of these were brought to our attention by Peter Schramm. The third is Mickey Craig’s entry on Condoleezza Rice’s remarks to the National Prayer Breakfast. The connection is God and politics.

The first item is Ken Masugi’s analysis of the President’s recent State of the Union Speech. Masugi says the speech was inspired by the Declaration of Independence. I don’t see this. The speech does not mention equality, as far as I know, except when it speaks of treating investors equally in the tax laws. Bush’s focus is on freedom and, as Masugi notes, freedom as a gift of God. This marks Bush’s difference from the Declaration most clearly. The Declaration speaks of the laws of nature and of nature’s God and declares that certain truths are self evident. Because nature and a rational God is the standard that the Declaration appeals to, it can claim universality. Bush speaks of gifts and Providence, emphasizing the willfulness of God and the potentially unique character of His gifts. (I know that the idea of providence occurs in the Declaration at the end but, interestingly, this was not in Jefferson’s original draft.) Bush does say that liberty was God’s gift to humanity but how does he know this? With the President, we are not dealing with the laws of nature but with special revelation. Greg Dunn’s analysis of the State of the Union speech is more accurate than Masugi’s, I think, because it recognizes the revealed personal ground of the President’s politics and admits that this makes people nervous. This brings me to Mickey Craig’s praise of Rice’s speech. Rice may be worthy of higher office but surely not on the basis of her touching account of her personal relation to God.

I recognize that the God of the Declaration is not necessarily incompatible with the God that speaks to Bush and Rice but which God we have in mind when we think about politics and act politically makes a difference. This is especially so as we confront an implacable enemy inspired by his own special revelation.

Terror Alert Raised to Orange

The President approved raising the terror alert from Yellow to Orange ("high risk") this morning. Apparently there are concerns, based on intelligence, that some sort of attacks may be attempted during the period of the Hajj.

Four Cuban Coast Guardsmen Defect

Four Cuban coast guardsmen--still in uniform and armed--docket their patrol boat and walked into town and surrendered to a local policeman in a Key West resort.

Multilateralism without the UN

Reading the Mark Steyn peace that Schramm recommended yesterday reminded me of one of my greatest frustrations in recent weeks: why are we being faced with the false choice between unilaterlism and the United Nations? In this regard (as well as in many others) I recommend Reflections on a Ravaged Century by one of my favorite historians, Robert Conquest.

Conquest favors multilateralism, as I do, but argues that we ought to establish a new organization to serve as a substitute for the hopelessly corrupt United Nations. He suggests that initially its members would include the U.S., the nations of the British Commonwealth, and many of the republics of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Rim. In other words, it would welcome those states that cherish the ideals of constitutional republicanism and the market economy, and share a set of norms for international behavior. Of course, other states might apply for membership later, if they prove worthy.

Hillary Favored in Poll

The Quinnipiac Poll shows that Hillary Clinton is the favorite among Democrats for the 2004 election. She received 42% while her closest rival, Senator Liberman, got 15%; the rest lag behind with Sharpton at 6% and Dean at the bottom with 3%. Interesting, yet the director of the poll says: "At this stage, though, it looks as if Democrats are
competing for the chance to get thumped by
President Bush,"

The Elegant French Retreat Continues

Perhaps a small point, but please take note of the fact that although yesterday President Chirac said that he was not persuaded by Powell’s speech, he also said this: "We refuse to think that war is inevitable." This means, of course, that war is possible, they are trying to avoid it, yet, if it comes, it is possible they will support it.

Condi Rice for Higher Office

Dr. Schramm has suggested in the past that Condi Rice replace Dick Cheney as the Vice Presidential Candidate in 2004. I remain unpersuaded for 2004 but I am now perfectly happy to have a Cheney-Rice ticket in 2008. Read Condoleeza Rice’s powerful speech yesterday at the National Prayer Breakfast:


Remarks by National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice
at the National Prayer Breakfast
Washington Hilton Hotel
Washington, D.C.
February 6, 2003

I am greatly honored by the invitation to speak here this morning. It is a
day when official Washington gathers not as Republicans or Democrats; not as
conservatives or liberals; nor as Christians, Jews, or Muslims. Rather, we
are gathered as a fellowship of the faithful who share a love of God and who
embrace God’s will and ways - even in moments of pain and loss, like right
now, when those ways seem so mysterious to us. Today, our Nation’s thoughts
are with the seven brave souls taken from us five mornings ago. We pray
that in losing their mortal lives they have found life eternal in His care.

I approach the honor of addressing you with a deep sense of humility. I am
not a member of any clergy. I am, however, the daughter, the granddaughter
and, indeed, the niece, of ordained Presbyterian ministers. So in some ways
this occasion feels very familiar to me.

Sundays in my family meant church. It was the center of our lives. In
segregated black Birmingham of the late 1950s and early 1960s, the church
was not just a place of worship; it was the social and civic center of our
community.

Throughout my life I have never doubted the existence of God, but, like most
people, I have had some ups and downs in practicing my faith. After I moved
to California in 1981 to join the faculty at Stanford, there were a lot of
years when I was not attending church regularly. I was traveling a great
deal, always in a different time zone, and going to church too often fell by
the wayside.

Then something happened that I will always remember. One Sunday morning I
was approached at the supermarket by a man buying some things for his church
picnic. He asked me, "Do you play the piano by any chance?" I said, "Yes."
And he said his congregation was looking for someone to play the piano at
their church. It was a small African-American church in the center of Palo
Alto and I started playing there every Sunday. And I thought to myself, "My
goodness, God has a long reach - all the way to a Lucky’s Supermarket in the
spice section on a Sunday morning."

The only problem was, it was a Baptist church and I don’t play gospel very
well, unlike our great Attorney General John Ashcroft. I play Brahms. At
this church the minister would start with a song and the musicians had to
pick it up. I had no idea what I was doing. So I called my mother, who had
played for Baptist churches, to ask her for advice. She said, "Honey, just
play in C and they’ll come back to you." And that’s true. If you play in
C, the foundational key in music, people will come back. Perhaps God plays
in C, and that’s why we always seem to find our way back to Him, sometimes
in spite of ourselves.

Looking back on the years since I found my way back, it is hard for me to
imagine my life without a strong and active faith. Faith is what gives me
comfort, and humility, and hope . even through the darkest hours. Like many
people - here and abroad - I have turned to God and prayer more and more
this past year and a half, including this past Saturday morning. Terror and
tragedy have made us more aware of our vulnerability and our own mortality.
We are living through a time of testing and consequence - and praying that
our wisdom and will are equal to the work before us. And it is at times
like these that we are reminded of a paradox, that it is a privilege to
struggle. A privilege to struggle for what is right and true. A privilege
to struggle for freedom over tyranny. A privilege, even, to struggle with
the most difficult and profound moral choices.

American slaves used to sing, "Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen - Glory
Hallelujah!" Growing up, I would often wonder at the seeming contradiction
contained in this line. But as I grew older, I came to learn that there is
no contradiction at all.

I believe this same message is found in the Bible in Romans 5, where we are
told to "rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces
endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our
hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us."

For me, this message has two lessons.

First, there is the lesson that only through struggle do we realize the
depths of our resilience and understand that the hardest of blows can be
survived and overcome. Too often when all is well, we slip into the false
joy and satisfaction of the material and a complacent pride and faith in
ourselves. Yet it is through struggle that we find redemption and
self-knowledge. In this sense it is a privilege to struggle because it
frees one from the idea that the human spirit is fragile, like a house of
cards, or that human strength is fleeting.

We see this theme in illustrated in sacred texts the world over. In the
Book of Job, God tests Job’s faith by taking from him everything that he
cherishes—his wealth, his health, and his family. Early in his trials,
one of Job’s friends counsels him to be patient, saying, "Behold, happy is
the man whom God correcteth; therefore despise not thou the chastening of
the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his
hands make whole ... In famine he shall redeem thee from death; and in war
from the power of the sword ... And thou shalt know that thy tabernacle
shall be in peace ..." In the end, Job’s sufferings strengthen his faith
and, we are told, he is rewarded with "twice as much as he had before" and
he lived "a hundred and forty years" until he was "old and full of days."
We learn in times of personal struggle - the loss of a loved one, illness,
or turmoil - that there is a peace that passeth understanding. When our
intellect is unequal to the task - the spirit takes over, finding peace in
the midst of pain is the true fulfillment of one’s humanity.

Struggle doesn’t just strengthen us to survive hard times - it is also the
key foundation for true optimism and accomplishment. Indeed, personal
achievement without struggle somehow feels incomplete and hollow. It is
true too for human kind - because nothing of lasting value has ever been
achieved without sacrifice.

There is a second, more important, lesson to be learned from struggle and
suffering is that we can use the strength it gives us for the good of
others. Nothing good is born of personal struggle if it is used to fuel one
’s sense of entitlement, or superiority to those who we perceive to have
struggled less than we. Everyone in this room has been blessed, and I am
sure we all know that it is dangerous to think about the hand that one has
been dealt relative to others if it ends in questioning why someone else has
more. It is, on the other hand, sobering and humbling to think about one’s
blessings and to ask why you have been given so much when others have so
little.

Our goal must not be to get through a struggle so that others can
congratulate us on our resilience, nor is it to dwell on struggle as a badge
of honor.

Perhaps this is why in describing his personal struggle, the Apostle Paul
felt it necessary to say to the Philippians, "Forgetting those things that
are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead . I press
toward the goal for the price of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
We find a similar idea in the Talmud, which says "one should only pray in a
house that has windows" - in order that we may remember the outside world.
And in the Hadith, we find Muhammad saying: "No one of you is a believer
until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself."

But to direct the energies from our struggles toward the good of others, we
must first let go of the pain, and the bad memories, and the sense of
unfairness—of "Why me?" - that inevitably accompany deep personal
turmoil.

I believe this lesson applies not only to individuals, but to nations.
America emerged from the losses of September 11th as a nation that is not
only stronger, but hopefully better and more generous. Tragedy made us
appreciate our freedom more - and more conscious of the fact that God gives
all people, everywhere, the right to be free. It made us more thankful for
our own prosperity, for life, and health - and more aware that all people,
everywhere deserve the opportunity to build a better future.

It prompted us to cultivate what the President has called "the habit of
service" to others so that the "gathering momentum of millions of acts of
kindness" may bring hope to people in desperate need. And perhaps most
importantly, September 11th reminded us of our heritage as a tolerant
nation; one that welcomes people of all faiths, or no faith at all.

Now, as our Nation once again deals with great loss, with fears and
uncertainties, let us once again recommit ourselves to those values which
define us. Let us renew our quest for understanding the natural world and
all the heavens which God has made. Let us renew our commitment to standing
for life, and liberty, and peace for all people. Let us renew our
commitment to working with all nations to conquer want, and hunger, and
disease in every corner of the globe. Let us accept our responsibility to
defend the freedom which we are so privileged to enjoy.

If terror and tragedy spur us to rediscover and strengthen these
commitments, then we can truly say that some good has come from great loss.
And in all the trials that may lie ahead, we will carry these commitments
close to our heart so we may leave a better world for those who follow.
This is our prayer for our Nation and our people. This is our prayer for
all Nations and all peoples. Lord, hear our prayer.

Germans are Angry

Here is an AP dispatch, and one from Reuters, on just how angry the Germans are at Rumsfeld’s remarks the other day about Germany. Note that one member of parliament wants Rumsfeld to tone down his rhetoric. Rumsfeld told the House Armed Services Committee this (I guess stating a fact is what is called rhetoric):

"And then there are three or four countries that have said they won’t do
anything. I believe Libya, Cuba and Germany are the ones that I have
indicated won’t help in any respect." I am pleased by this German response (and the threats of anti-war demonstrations during Rummy’s visit); they should be helped along in this necessary conversation about what their role in the world (and in Europe) should be. The German decision on Iraq has been very salutary for both American policy and the future of of a united Europe; the US now knows it can’t count on the Germans and the recently freed European countries have been reminded why Europe can’t be led by Germany. They can’t allow the Germans to lead them by the nose, and they will not. This is what makes the Germans angry.

Press Coverage of Columbia

Jonah Goldberg has a thoughtful piece in today’s Wall Street Journal on how cable TV covered the Columbia disaster. Note especially, his comments on CNN and FOX. He has a point, FOX better get on the ball. And there are a few pregnant lines, like quoting Ambrose Bierce to the effect that war is God’s way of teaching Americans geography. We now know where Kandahar is (a city by the way, like many others in Afghanistan, named after Alexander the Great). A one coffee read.  

Polls After the Powell Speech

Here is a WaPo/ABC poll, and one from CNN/USA Today/Gallup on the effects of Powell’s speech to the Security Council. They are oddly confusing, if not contradictory. Yet, Oxblog makes sense of them, in a few paragraphs. Here are a few good lines from Oxblog, the rest is also worth reading.

"What neither Gallup nor a WaPo storyabout the polls points out is how remarkable it is that both
Bush’s State of the Union speech and Powell’s UN address significantly increased support for an
invasion. This sort of double-bounce has almost no historical precedents."

Anti-War Activists Frustrated

A reader chastized me for not pointing you to this silly and biased article from Reuters that claims that Bush is ignoring the so-called peace movement and they are frustrated. Well, the problem is that it is a non-story, full of holes, and dreary. The only truth in the story is that these activists (why are people who hate America called that?) are frustrated. Good, let them be frustrated. A deeper analysis isn’t worth our time. No coffee with this one. Skim it.

Student Sues Over Grade

This is too much. A high school senior in Michigan says he earned an A+ rather than an A in a class taken in intermediate school and that the grade should be changed. If it is, he is likely to become the valedictorian. So he is suing the principal, school board, etc. By the way, the class he is concerned about was one in which he "worked as a paralegal in his mother’s law office." I think it’s his mother he ought to be suing. Isn’t this fun?

More on Old Europe vs. New Europe

Pejman led me to this article by Nick Schultz on the respective populations of the Old and New Europe; you should be encouraged by it. Here is the punch line:

"The fact remains that 100 million more Europeans, speaking through their
elected representatives, stand with the United States than stand opposed
to the United States. The difference represents twice the population of
France and is a quarter more than the population of Germany. It is France
and Germany that are not only in a minority but are in a relatively small
minority."

Oh yes, one more thing, while we are on the subject of Europe old and new: Turkey will allow the US to use bases in case of need. This needs pointing to because of the continual pounding by CBS, NBC, ABC, et al, that after all, our efforts are not multilateral; please, wake up and smell the Iraqi coffee brewing. Make enough to last a few weeks.  

Let’s Quit the UN?

There is a logic to this Mark Steyn piece that is hard to argue against. He wants us to quit the U.N.

Iraq Matters, Post Powell

It seems to me that the Powell speech has had the effect that was needed, note this excellent WaPo editorial on the matter. Also note that ten other European countries (to be added to the eight of a week ago) are coming in an our side. I think the French have begun to move in our direction (but see this good piece by Andrew Sullivan from a few days ago, and this by Stephen Hays on the French position); in the end they will not be held responsible for making the UN irrelevant. Also note the hard line that the inspectors are taking toward Iraq: The inspectors have claimed to Blair that Iraq is not cooperating. This means that their report of next week will be the end. And here is an excellent piece from George Will on what it all means and how the "French have retreated into incoherence." And conclude your reading with this nice short piece outlining how technological advancements of the last dozen years have transformed the US military. You might as well start paying attention to the hardware and strategy since we will be at war by early March (unless Saddam abdicates or is overthrown), and that war, I still maintain, will be under UN auspices.

Iraq: The War Debate

The Council of Foreign Relations is sponsoring a debate on Iraq tonight at 6 P.M. (ET). The participants will be Bill Kristol and Max Boot vs. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. It should be fun. If you have the time, you can see it and hear it here in a web-cast.

Confederate Flag in South Carolina

It seems to be back as an issue, but now it is one for the Democratic candidates to deal with. Amusing double talk from all of them. Worth two sips of coffee.  

Happy Birthday Ronald Reagan!

Ronald Reagan will be 92 years old tomorrow. Steve Hayward celebrates the man and his birthday by remining us how he had been underestimated, and how he is being rehabilitated, even among some liberals. A good man, a fine president. It was an honor to work in his administration. Happy Birthday, Mr. President.

Powell’s Speech

I was asked to provide an immediate reaction to Sec. Powell’s speech by NRO. My piece is here

Our Friends the French

I’m sorry to be so far behind the power curve, but I see we are making fun of the French and I jsut can’t resist a contribution. This was related to me not too long ago by a Brit: the French killed more Germans a couple of years ago when one of their Concordes crashed than they did during all of World War II.

Bill Clinton and the Demos

Howard Kurtz’s piece in today’s WaPo has some interesting reflections on Clinton’s continued presence and effect on Democratic presidential politics. He quotes extensively from William Greider’s article in The Nation bemoaning the fact that Clinton continues to meddle in party affairs. The fact that he still has some standing is a reflection of not only his political capacities, but also of the fact that the other Demo candidates have no authority or standing. This is more proof that the 2004 election for Bill is a throwaway and that the smart Demos will be focusing on 2008; and that’s where Hillary (and Bill) really comes in. Follow the links in the article. Worth a couple of coffees as light fun after contemplating war.    

France’s Elegant Retreat

I just heard the French foreign minister give a "diplomatic" talk that could be interpreted in a number of different ways; so, their mission is accomplished, war is not ruled out but really it would be best to strengthen the inspection regime, etc. As Bill Kristol said on FOX, the French foreign minister began an "elegant retreat." They have moved in our direction and the Germans (who are not relevant in any case, they have no veto) are now watching the French move away from them, trying to get off of the limb. The great alliance announce a few weeks ago is about to end.

Colin Powell’s Security Council Speech

I thought the speech was excellent, detailed, and serious. It seems to me that case is made and it is unimpeachable. The only thing that actually surprised me was his reference to the UN becoming irrelevant if it ignores his proof. Good. I was also pleased to see him elaborate some on the connections between Iraq terrorists. You might also want to look at this very interesting Jeffrey Goldberg article in the current issue of The New Yorker on the connection betwen Al Qaeda and Iraq. It is now perfectly obvious to all that Iraq will have to be dealth with, and it will be. The only question is whether or not it will be done under UN auspices. The French have some decisions to make. I think they will go along with us, or forever be known as the country that made the UN irrelevant. They can’t afford that, so they will agree, in the end. Here is the WaPo’s running transcript of the speech; it is not yet on the State Department site.

Anti-American Studies

TNR Online has a great review essay by Alan Wolfe on how American Studies programs have become havens for those who most despise America and all that it stands for. Here’s a quote:

"American studies still exists as an academic discipline. If anything, it can be found in far more colleges
and universities now than during the 1960s, and it attracts significant numbers of graduate students,
and its practitioners publish innumerable books and articles. Yet the third generation and the fourth
generation of scholars in the field not only reject the writers who gave life to the discipline, they have
also developed a hatred for America so visceral that it makes one wonder why they bother studying
America at all."

WaPo: Don’t Filibuster Estrada

WaPo has a fine editorial today in which it denounces the Ralph Neas led Democratic plans to filibuster Estrada. It is worth quoting at length:

With the Estrada nomination due to come to the Senate floor today, [Democratic Senators] are contemplating a dramatic escalation of the judicial nomination wars. They should stand down. Mr. Estrada, who is well qualified for the bench, should not be a tough case for confirmation. Democrats who disagree may vote against him. They should not deny him a vote. . . . But a world in which filibusters serve as an active instrument of nomination politics is not one either party should want. Mr. Estrada’s nomination in no way justifies a filibuster.

A few more words on filibusters. On the Capitol Hill, most seasoned politicians understand that the power of the filibuster is in the threat. Actually using a filibuster carries risk. If you are unsuccessful in garnering the votes necessary to filibuster, then the next time you threaten to use the meneuver the threat will be viewed as toothless. If you are successful, then the threat becomes more powerful, however you open yourself up to a public backlash for being obstructionist.

Leahy and his cohorts have put themselves in a tough place. They have wedded themselves to special interests who are so outside the mainstream of the American public that they speak about "judicial armageddon," and therefore the Democratic leadership somehow feel obliged to charge the proverbial "filibuster" windmill. But doing so comes at great cost. Many Democrats will feel uncomfortable about voting against a Hispanic nominee for no better reason than that he may be a potential Supreme Court nominee. Others may worry about being labeled an obstructionist Congress. Others still may even have questions about whether this is an appropriate exercise of the Senate’s constitutional duty of "advice and consent." All of these concerns are justified.

Which leaves but one conclusion: bring on the vote.

Houston Memorial Service

Here is the President’s remarks at the Memorial Service in honor of the crew of the Columbia.

Racial Preferences

Stuart Taylor does a job on racial preferences in this National Journal article called, "Do We Want Another 100 Years of Racial Preferences?" And TNR explains why politicians love affirmative action.

Blair--Chirac Meeting Over

It is being reported that France was not persuaded by Blair regarding Iraq in the meeting just concluded. Dick Morris has a pretty good brief on what the French policy toward Iraq has been during the last decade. He also thinks that in the end the French will come around. And Colin Powell is preparing to brief the UN Security Council tomorrow.

Good Piece on Sharpton

They say even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Here’s an interesting article on Al Sharpton from the History News Network. The author is a lecturer at Yale, and author of Liberal Racism. Here’s a blurb:

"This isn’t about justice. It’s about racial power brokerage. Sharpton may tickle guilt-ridden liberals and a very few leftists who still think blacks the ’cats’ paws’ of revolution, and I have always believed that somewhere in his big, convoluted heart, he does dream of leading us beyond race to a brighter tomorrow. The sadness behind the fun in his compulsive re-stagings of ’Fight the Power’ and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s heroic reckonings with America is that he never leaves us anything but a civic equivalent of the dry heaves."

Harsh Penalty

The BBC reports that a man in England has been banned from every pub and club in the country because he stole a bottle of wine and a packet of pork pies! "Where th’offense is, let the great ax fall."

More on the cheese-eating surrender monkeys

Peter’s joke about the French reminds me of another one, which goes: Why are all the boulevards in Paris lined with trees?

Because the German army likes to march in the shade.

England and France

Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac are meeting today and everything is said to be just fine. But, of course, it isn’t. It is not only Iraq. Note this article from today’s Daily Telegraph that makes clear that not only are there disagreements over Zimbabwe, but Blair just blocked a $3 billion deal that would have allowed a French company to build two new British aircraft carriers. Which reminds me of a French joke I heard the other day: How many Frenchmen does it take to defend Paris? We don’t know. It’s never been tried.

Morality in Foreign Policy

Bill Kristol has a short and thoughtful piece trying to explain how the Ford-Kissinger people (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz) came to Reaganites in foreign policy and Bush has taken up Reagan’s views. Essentially correct.

Attack to Rival 9/11

The Washington Times reports that Al Queda is planning a massive attack on the United States designed to create greater casualties than 9/11--however their efforts have been thwarted by the arrest of key operatives. Intelligence officials have revealed that the attack is intended to be precipitated by the assassination of prominent U.S. leaders. You can read the story here.

The Limitations of Spy Satellites

Philip Taubman in today’s New York Times argues that Colin Powell will not likely be able to produce an Adlai Stevenson moment tomorrow when presenting evidence before the UN tomorrow. Taubman points to the limitations of spy satellites, which while capable of viewing objects as small as a football, are nonetheless limited to passing over targets for a limited amount of time on a regular schedule. Because of this regularity, targets may avoid detection.

But these limitations were well known during the last Gulf War. Schwartkopf in particular lobbied to pull the SR-71 spy planes out of moth balls in order to regain the element of surprise. What Taubman fails to take into account is the development and use of unmanned Predator drones for reconnaissance, which reclaims the element of surprise. He also fails to take into account the likely presence of special forces and CIA operatives already on the ground in Iraq. While Powell may be reluctant to reveal some intelligence for fear that it will reveal too much about how the information is obtained, it is implausible to think that the date presented will be limited to satellite imagery.

Blair’s Leadership

The AP reports that British PM Tony Blair met with French President Jacques Chirac today in an attempt to garner his support for a second UN resolution permitting military action against Iraq. This follows the statement of Blair and seven other European leaders which made clear the leaders’ support for the U.S. policy regarding Iraq--and tacitly condemned the axis of inaction that is France and Germany.

Reagan Revolution Redux?

WaPo today suggests that Bush’s recent policy proposals--particularly his recent round of suggested tax cuts--are a redux of the Reagan Revolution. Richard Kogan of the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Analysis is quoted as saying that Bush is clearly "worse" than Reagan. Worse than Reagan in just 2 years--an impressive accomplishment indeed.

More on the German Problem

This is a thoughtful op-ed from the London Times on the ideology that is ruling Germany, how it is related both to the spirit of 1968 and the older German way. It is not reassuring. It’s points may be arguable, but it is thoughtful. And, it is certainly the case (although causes may be disputed) that Germany is removing itself "from the field of play." One coffee.  

German Problems

I am happy to report to you (in case you haven’t heard) that the Soc Dems took a real beating in provincial (Lower Saxony and Hesse) elections in Germany yesterday. The fact that Lower Saxony is Schroder’s home base is especially notable. Also note that the German-French Axis (aka "Axis of Weasel") is already on the way toward disintegration; the French are more likely--as I have been saying they would--to more quickly return to the American fold than the Germans. This means that the Germans will be left alone, as the sole Weasel. In the end, of course, I think even they’ll turn back as well, but they are hurt by all this, as is the possibility of European integration under French-German leadership. The other countries (Poland, Hungary, et al) got a taste of what that leadership would be like, and they don’t like the taste. I love the way the foreign minister of Portugal put it: the French and the Germans will have to get used to, in a 25-member EU, "geometrical variations" outside their own axis. Worth two cups of contemplation.    

Reagan’s Challenger Speech

A reader asked me to post Reagan’s speech in 1986 following the Challenger disaster. Here it is. You might want to prowl around the rest of the site. Although it is still being built, there are many useful things on it, documents, info on seminars for high school teachers, and so on. The site (TeachingAmericanHistory.org)
is intended to be most useful for high school teachers.

War on Iraq, notes

Not only did the President get a bounce from his speech, but, as this Wa Po story makes clear, half the country is willing to go to war against Iraq even without the UN. And this Powell op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal makes the argument again. I still maintain that he will persuade the Security Council to go along. His testimony on Wednesday is likely to be dramatic. Note this story out of Australia: an Iraqi defector (a bodyguard for Saddam) has made some very specific claims as to where hidden missiles, bio and chemical weapons may be found. Bingo.

Morel on Bush’s State of the Union Speech

Lucas Morel has expanded on his blogs on the President’s speech here. It is very good.

Columbia Tragedy

Much is being said about this tragedy that is beginning to taste bad; it is often put into the category of the Challenger disaster or even 9/11 and even talked of in tones of "how much tragedy and death can we Americans take," what with an Iraq war just around the corner, and so on. This sort of thinking implies that we are not a tough people, and that we prefer to talk about ourselves in terms of victimization and tragedy. This sort of thinking is both wrong and has bad consequences. This is not to say, of course, that the families of the astronauts have not been terribly hurt by their losses. I can only imagine what it would be like to wait for them to land in triumph and, just minutes before the event to experience the horror of knowing that they have died. I think Mark Steyn understands these matters and that’s what makes his column the best I have read on the subject of the Columbia tragedy.

Diversity of What and For Whom?

James Traub’s essayin the Sunday NY Times offers still more reasons why racial diversity in higher education raises more questions than it answers. A couple of soundbites:

And why should racial and ethnic "points of view" outweigh those forged by class or culture?

As I have argued before, one of the great ironies of promoting racially diverse perspectives in higher education is that it perpetuates a white supremacist mindset: namely, that lily-white colleges need "students of color" for the sake of white students’ enrichment! Traub rightly points out that affirmative action originated not for the benefit of whites but for the benefit of individual blacks who had been barred from colleges and jobsites on the basis of race. Why is it that when government has tried to help individuals overcome racial discrimination, it more often than not keeps them in a dependent position?

But I wonder if eliminating that
mechanism [i.e., affirmative action] wouldn’t force universities -- and the rest of us -- to do something about the educational failure that has made affirmative action necessary in the first place.

Instead of improving K-12 education, thereby addressing the achievement gap in American education right at the source, governing bodies, colleges, and employers have sought to address the problem by rigging the outcomes to make it look like there is no longer a problem with racial discrimination. When it comes to justifying these racially prejudicial practices, to reverse the adage, it has proven to be easier done than said.

It remains to be seen if governing majorities, and that includes the Supreme Court, can address racial discrimination without holding onto the power to discriminate. I say, "Let freedom ring."

Reply to Reader About Estrada

A reader noted here that he had beaten me to the punch in disclosing Paul Bender as a liberal bomb-thrower on his Zonitics blog. It does appear that he beat me to the gate--although he does kindly concede that I provided more "inside the beltway" information (written from the friendly confines of Ohio). What neither of us wrote, however, was that in September of last year, Paul Bender backpedaled on previous statements. On September 24, 2002, the Times reported:

In a recent interview, Mr. Bender, now a professor at Arizona State University law school, said that while he would not withdraw his criticisms, he would not repeat them, saying he did not wish to be seen as campaigning against the nomination.

Of course, his reluctance to campaign against Estrada and to repeat these tired accussions is not shared by the New York Times, which conveniently did not mention this statement in the course of their editorial which relied on Bender as their sole political character witness regarding Estrada.

Buzz Aldrin on the Space Program

Buzz Aldrin offers his reflections on manned space travel this morning in the New York Times. A timely piece that reminds of the courage of those who pioneered the space program--and of the courage of those who participate in it today. To borrow a phrase from Schramm, this is a one coffee read.

The Post 9/11 World

It is interesting to note that the first two people I spoke with after the Columbia explosion both had the same response: they asked about a possible terrorism connection. It is especially interesting because neither individual is prone to conspiracy theories, but rather they reflected a common post-9/11 American viewpoint: if something goes terribly wrong, then we must seriously consider foul-play. Of course, there is no evidence suggesting terrorism here, but it struck me that I don’t recall this kind of sentiment following the Challenger disaster--even though it occurred during the Cold War.

Upcoming Intelligence Revelations to the UN

This is the Michael Isikoff article in the current Newswek which claims that the Bush Administration will release super-sensitive electronic intercepts obtained by the National Security Agency that proves that Iraq has lied, cheated, etc. While no serious person doubts that this is true and while it is may be necessary to release some sensitive information for the sake of nailing down the Security Council (and to give a way for the French to say, "Oh! OK, now we are persuaded and will not veto") I hope that we are not releasing more than we have to. Good read. Two coffees.   

Columbia Tragedy notes

What an awful, heartbreaking, event. May they Rest in Peace. These are brief bios of the seven astronauts lost. This is the President’s speech. Here is the art of the fourteen year old Holocaust victim Petr Ginz that Colonel Ramon took into space. This is Peggy Noonan on the tragedy. And here is a Reuters story on the reaction to the tragedy in Baghdad. They are happy. Why am I not surprised?