Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

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.