The Presidential candidates are required to submit FEC disclosure forms by tomorrow. The New York Times and WSJs Best of the Web (citing the Times) both report that Howard Dean is set to disclose that hes raised $6 million in the last quarter, well ahead of the other Democratic candidates fund raising.
David Frum sums up what has to be the worst week in American Politics in recent memory: 1st)The Supreme Court’s endorsement of race based admissions in the Michigan Law School Case; 2nd)The Supreme Court strikes down the anti-sodomy law in Texas; and 3rd)the GOP Senate votes a new prescription drug benefit, the greatest new entitlement program in almost 30 years.
Here’s a paragraph on the sodomy decision from Frum: "The court could have written quite a constrained opinion – one that accepted as valid precedent the right to privacy created in the Griswold and Eisenstadt cases of three and four decades ago, and then used that judge-made right to strike down a Texas morality statute that just about everybody agreed was ridiculous. Instead, Justice Kennedy produced an astonishingly open-ended opinion, that seemed to treat as a constitutional offense almost any attempt by a state legislature to enact traditional sexual morality into local law. It’s hard to see how Justice Kennedy can from now on consistently vote to uphold any state law that distinguishes one kind of sexual relationship from another. He’s driven onto a highway with no exit ramps."
This ’Lawrence v. Texas’ case will likely have the greatest political impact. Majority Leader Frist has already called for a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as between a male and a female. This is necessary Frist argues because the Court’s recent decision virtually calls for a court decision endorsing Same-Sex Marriage.
The whole idea of limited government assumes that human beings can and should govern themselves. Liberty, understood as self-government, assumes the virtue of moderation, i.e., the voluntary restraint of the passions, in its citizens. On the other hand, the right to privacy assumes that liberty (or the right to privacy) is licentiousness (or self-indulgence), i.e., the right of the individual to unrestrained self-expression. This notion of liberty is incompatible with traditional Constitutionalism. Tragic that such a battle will have to be fought.
A filmmaker is producing a documentary entitled "Michael Moore Hates America," which is intended to be submitted to the Sundance Film Festival in January. The description of the project is interesting:
Contrary to its title, Michael Moore Hates America isn’t a hatchet job on the filmmaker. It’s a journey across the nation where we meet celebrities, scholars and average folks alike, all of whom are living the American Dream and proving that America is a great place to be! In the process, we’ll look at Michael Moore’s claims about the country, its people, and its corporations.
First a regular spot on Hannity and Colmes, now Dennis Miller is out stumping for the President. Reuters reports that Dennis Miller did his stand up routine for a fundraiser for Bush in L.A.
Speaking of Senator Byrd and his recent stance on the war: "I think he must be burning the cross at both ends." As for Howard Dean, Miller suggested "He can roll up his sleeves all he wants at public events, but as long as we see that heart tattoo with Neville Chamberlains name on his right forearms, hes never going anywhere." Once again, I dont always agree with Miller, but he is one of the brightest political satirists around.
This Washington Post article details the budget crisis facing California. The State Legislature has until midnight tonight to come up with a solution to the $38 billion deficit or payments to various agencies will stop and other services will be cut beginning tomorrow, July 1st. While the Dems control both houses of the legislature, passage of the budget requires a 2/3s vote. So far Republicans have insisted that they will not vote for any tax increases to address the budget crisis. Read my lips, anyone?
Here’s an article from Fox News which updates the Recall Gray Davis petition and the increasing pressure on Gov. Davis to resign. Finally, here’s
George Will’s latest thoughts on California and Gray Davis. Will thinks that California needs a new Ataturk to address its problems.
The Dems cry politics, although I don’t think they’ve read Aristotle.
Peter meant to blog on this before he left for Vermont--its an insightful piece on how Canadas recognition of gay marriages, combined with the recent Supreme Court decision on sodomy laws, are likely to affect the United States.
I am off to Vermont for a meeting next week, so I will not blog until after the Fourth. Johnny and I are riding and we’ll make stops at Cooperstown, West Point, and Fort Ticanderoga. Be back late on the Fourth. I’ll give a full report that weekend. Have a very good Fourth. Here is what Calvin Coolidge, the last president to have written his own speeches, had to say on the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration. Remember.
Abigail Thernstrom has a few choice words on the Courts affirmative action decisions, and she suggests what must follow, for the sake of minority children.
Victor Davis Hanson tries to account for "this sudden independent action abroad while becoming ever more skeptical of traditional alliances." He thinks the general public has a clearer understanding of what he calls the "post-Cold War teenager syndrome" (that perpetual dependency creates envy and jealousy) than do the elites (and Europeans). So the real story, he writes, is not global "anti-Americanism", "but perhaps a growing American weariness with strident allies and the braggadocio of pathetic Middle Eastern despotisms." And Hanson has some suggestions on what we ought to do. Very interesting stuff.
The Two soldiers who have been missing for days have been found dead, north of Baghdad.
David Brooks writes a very thoughtful and readable essay using Lincoln to great effect. He is trying to understand success. Lincoln’s simplicity, humility, and work ethic (plow horse like) should appeal to the young--too many of whom want to get rich as fast as possible--argues Brooks. He thinks that most successful people, like Lincoln, also have a core faith inn the moral power of hard work. Here is a paragraph, but read the whole thing; light and breezy.
"In the land of the plow horses, wealth is acceptable because it is legitimized by the creed of social mobility, which in many ways originated with Lincoln and the Whig Party, of which he was a member for most of his career. According to this creed, affluence is admired because it is the product of hard work, and it does not corrupt because you continue to work even when you don’t have to anymore. According to this creed, social mobility is the saving fire that redeems society. Social mobility opens up horizons because people can see wider opportunities and live transformed lives. Social mobility reduces class conflict because each person can build his own fortune, rather than taking from the fortunes of others. Social mobility unleashes creative energies and keeps everything new and dynamic. It compensates for inequality, because the family that is poor today may become richer tomorrow. It is the very essence of justice, because each person’s destiny is somehow related to the amount of talent and effort he or she pours into life. The purpose of government is to ensure that there is, to use Lincoln’s words, ’an open field and a fair chance’ so that everyone can compete in the race of life.
This is the sensible, steady and admirable ethic of American life. And people who hew to this ethic are still rewarded. If you get an education, get married and stay married, the odds are overwhelming that you will rise. If you migrate here from a developing country, and if you work hard, the odds are pretty good that you and your children will enjoy brighter and more open futures."
Shelby Steele does not like the Sureme Court decision, not at all. He is especially good on beating up on Justice O’Connor. A must read. Charles Krauthammer has, perhaps oddly at first sight, a more optimistic take on the decision: Since the Court seems to have said "we don’t want anything to do with this," the question of racial preferences and the correct understanding of equality is now reopened for political debate. It’s back in the hands of the people and legislation. The question remains, are the people up to it? We’ll find out. Good article.
Behold, Mark Steyns farewell to the late senator from South Carolina. Nothing I say here can do it justice; read it for yourselves.
James Lileks has a typically witty column on the new constitution of the European Union. Hes particularly amused by the constitutions "Charter of Fundamental Rights, a laundry list of goodness that should stand as a warning against convening a constitutional convention in the era of the busybody bureaucrat."
The best part is his description of Article 24:
"Children have the right to demand chocolate milk be poured on their cereal, and to request that the cereal be made entirely of glazed donuts and marshmallows, and to hold their breath and turn blue. ("Blue" shall be defined as any hue between light sky-blue and a deep Cerulean tint.)
"Well, again, not exactly. Article 24 concerns The Rights of the Child, and states that kids may express their views freely. So its a deprivation of their constitutional rights to tell them to knock off the whining. The right to whine for candy bought with someone elses money -- can you get any more European than that?"
Fred Barnes offers six reasons why George W. Bush will likely be re-elected in a landslide in 2004.
This is very good (and long) scholarly article (as PDF file) by Robert H. Nelson on how the environmentalists have, as it were, re-colonized Africa. Local populations have been displaced and impoverished in order to create national parks and to serve other conservation objectives, in large part because Western conservationists misunderstand African wildlife management practices and problems.
American soldier shot in the head while buying a video disc at a shop. This, and other daily incidents, are beginning to add up, and I dont mean just the numbers. They are starting to have an effect on how the whole Iraqi operation is being viewed and perceived, by both us and them. The regularity and predictability of the attacks (and deaths) on Americans and Brits is a bad sign. If this continues for another--say--four weeks, a new kind of understanding will follow, from both us and them. Also, the Bush administration will have to start becoming a little clearer on the issue; they will have to give better and more persuasive speeches, speeches of both understanding and explanation. Although I think they are up to it, I am becoming slightly concerned.
Radio Free Europe reports: "A new report from a UN expert group says a "third generation" of Al-Qaeda members has emerged and that the network continues to operate around the world with a high degree of mobility and financial support. The report notes some success in capturing top Al-Qaeda officials and breaking up their cells, but it says the group must still be considered a threat to international security. The report also finds no evidence linking Al-Qaeda to the former regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq." Note the claimed connections between Chechneya and Bosnia, among other interesting tidbits. And ABC News reports this: "Chechen rebels ambushed and killed five Russian troops and pro-Moscow policemen responding to an emergency call about the shooting of a village elder, officials said Friday.
In a separate incident, two Russian servicemen were killed and two others wounded by a land mine in the Chechen capital, Grozny."
I wrote a little piece on Harry Potter and my son Johns enthusiasm for the first volume of Harry Potter some four years back. He is now fifteen, and waited impatiently for the recent volume. Got it on midnight that Friday, started reading it immediately and except for the necessities of life, read until he finished. I think he finished it on Tuesday morning. Becky, our eighteen-year old, did the exact same thing (we bought two copies). They are now re-reading all the other volumes from start to finish. (I think it will be fifth time for the previous volumes). All this, of course, is extraordinary even for bookish kids. I applaud it. They can talk about the stories in extraordinary detail, the way some of my friends have conversations about the Xenophons Education of Cyrus. I asked them why are they going to re-read the whole set, once again, from start to finish? Will that not be boring? Becky said that it will not be because, one, she will have forgotten some things in them, and, two, she will now understand some things in the previous volumes that were too nuanced heretofore, that the following (and especially the last) volumes help make clear. I believe all this is a very good thing for children, and I applaud it. Praise to the author.
A reader comments on Peters post "Lap Dancing on the Constitution" (below) to suggest that the Lawrence Supreme Court majority should have found the liberty interest to engage in homosexual sodomy not in the "liberty" covered by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, but in the Ninth Amendment. The Ninth reads, "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." This suggestion deserves comment.
The Ninth Amendment is a real tough constitutional nut. If it creates constitutional protection for, say, sexual privacy, which is not otherwise enumerated in the Constitution, there is absolutely no principled legal basis whatsoever to deny constitutional status to every other right anyone could imagine. Most lawyers think that result cant be right. On the other hand, if you say the Ninth Amendment doesnt create any constitutional rights, it then becomes a dead letter. That result doesnt seem right, either.
The best solution to this puzzle Ive seen & heard comes from Lawrence Claus, a law professor at the University of San Diego. He suggests that the Ninth Amendment means to stop legislators & judges from construing -- note that the Amendment does speak of "construe" -- the rights that the Constitution does enumerate to annihilate the rights it does not. So, even though the First Amendment enumerates a right to free speech, that right should not be construed to deny or disparage other citizens right to be free from defamations. Or, assuming that the Fourteenth Amendment covers the "liberty" of sexual privacy, that liberty should not be construed to deny or disparage, say, young men & womens right to enter into stable and long-lasting marriages, or childrens right to be reared in a stable family.
So the Ninth Amendment isnt a fix-all. If it applies, it points right back to the $64,000 questions in Lawrence: How does sexual conduct outside marriage affect public morals, and do those morals support the stability and the social functions of the family?
George Will nails this sodomy ruling: "The question is not whether states are wise to criminalize this or that sex act outside of marriage. Rather, the question is: Once the court has said that some such acts are constitutional rights, by what principle are any of the myriad possible permutations of consensual adult sexual activities denied the same standing?" Please read the whole thing.
In the end, it is not hard being an optimist, even about France. Here is another reason why. This is the young French woman--some say the new Joan of Arc--who has been leading an uprising, as it were, against the French unions that have crippled the country and the French Left in general. Here is a report on her visit to England, where she is called "France’s Lady Thatcher." I hope it might be said of her, as Prospero says of Miranda to Ferdinand: "Thou shalt find she will outstrip all praise."
Had a couple of pleasant hours late last night, and maybe some Falstaffian moments, with some of the high school teachers from the seminar in a local watering hole. "If sack and sugar be a fault, God help the wicked! If to be old and merry be a sin, then many an old host that I know is damned."
President Bush has called on Liberias president, Charles Taylor, to resign in the interest of halting a three-year rebel conflict that has fractured the West African country, spurred a regional refugee crisis and left hundreds dead. Bush starts his African trip on July 7th; he will visit Senegal, South Africa, Botswana, Uganda, and Nigeria.
Regarding New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s latest fulmination against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas:
It seems to drive Dowd up the wall that Clarence Thomas opposes affirmative action, even though he (allegedly) benefited from it.
She doesn’t seem to grasp that someone could benefit from racial preferences, yet still decide they are morally and constitutionally wrong.
As a practical matter, I wonder what she thinks Thomas should have done when he was offered opportunities for advancement. Did she want him to refuse those opportunities, saying something like ``I think you’re giving me this opportunity only because I’m black, and that’s wrong. Therefore, I’ll decline and take a job at Burger King instead.’’
As another practical matter, in a world where racial preferences are policy, how can any black (outside of pro sports) ever know for sure whether an offer of advancement is genuinely based on his abilities, or comes because of his skin color? The white people who offer the opportunity are naturally going to tell him it’s because he’s the best candidate, even if the real reason is his color.
It’s also interesting that she mocks the idea that Thomas was the best candidate for the Supreme Court when he was nominated. When nonliberals even hint that a black advanced because of his race rather than his ability, liberals scream RACISM in capital letters and exclamation points.
Dowd should face the fact that what really fuels her rage is that Thomas is a black who isn’t being properly deferential, respectful and GRATEFUL to the kindly liberal white folks who think they "gave" him his success. He ran away from the liberal plantation and for that Dowd wants him brought back and horsewhipped.
Larry Arnn has a letter to the editor in today’s Wall Street Journal called, "Late Nights, Late A.M.s, But Still a Master of All." Because there is no link (it only appears in the dead tree version) I reproduce it all below:
In regard to the charming article by Quentin Letts, "Breakfast With Winston," editorial page, June 12: It is true that Winston Churchill was often in his pajamas at 9:30 a.m., but he usually went to bed at 2 a.m. And, pajamas or no, he had been reading newspapers, having breakfast, and answering mail since 7 a.m.
In addition, Churchill found time to paint, build brick walls and dig ponds. He wrote several dozen large tomes of high quality, his own speeches running to thousands of published pages, and countless memos and state papers that can all be read in the document volumes of his biography by Sir Martin Gilbert. He wrote for the press in a quantity rivaling a full-time journalist. Churchill accomplished all this because he was a genius and worked long hours at great speed. He had mastered the type of leisure that is almost infinitely productive, as well as cultivating of the soul.
A better example for Mr. Letts would be Arthur Balfour, a very different sort of man than Churchill, but a man whom Churchill admired deeply. Churchill described Balfour, who had been born to great wealth and high station, as a man who "did not mingle in the hurly-burly. He glided upon its surface. . . . He very rarely rose before luncheon."
Churchill knew better than MacMillan the frustrations of dealing with America, the new greatest power in the world. He had begged our president to make the second invasion of Europe further east, so as better to counter the Soviets. In this and some other matters of great importance he failed, to his vast frustration. But he also knew America and toward the end of his life said, "We must persevere steadfastly and faithfully in the task to which, under United States leadership, we have solemnly bound ourselves. Any weakening of our purpose, any disruption of our organization would bring about the very evils which we all dread, and from which we should all suffer, and from which many of us would perish."
This Washington Post article gives a good recounting of how the six military police officers were killed. It is not a pretty story. Most were killed at close range, after they ran out of ammunition. This attack on the Brits, I think, is noteworthy because it seems to be a different attack in kind compared to the ones on Americans around Baghdad. It seems to have been a situation where where hot tempers led to uncontrolled passions on the part of the Iraqis; no self-control, just the heat of anger controlling events. Reminds me of an urban riot in the States. This may reveal the difficulty of self-government in Iraq more than the other kinds of attacks do, which, after all, are really military in nature. This one reveals the habits and dispositions--the character--of the Iraqi people. Although I am not surprised by it, yet, it is shocking. Not a good sign.
The New York Post reports that "Democratic lawmakers and aides said yesterday there is growing interest in tapping Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as the Senate Democratic leader if Sen. Tom Daschle retires next year." The fact that such a thing is even being discussed--considering that Senator Clinton has been in the Senate only two and a half years--shows that the Democratic Party is in deep trouble. What substance there is left of the party is being abdicated to the Clintons (this is meant to be plural). The AP runs a fundraising preview for the quarter, and it is not impressive for any Democrat. They are hurting, and no one is catching fire. And Lieberman is prepared to miss almost a month of voting on such things as Medicare, to raise money; he is heading West where the big money is; he needs a breakthrough, and fast, or his campaign may collapse.
The only candidate that anyone is talking about with any effervescence is Howard Dean, but he is, to say the least, struggling with his voice. He gives pretty good speeches, but is terrible in debates and interviews.
This analysis of Howard Dean’s arrogance and foolsihness regarding Iraq by William Saletan is excellent. It is a study of his achilles heel.
And the liberal John B. Judis argues in brief that it is very imprudent of the Democrats to ignore Iraq and foreign policy in general. The daily front page news is not what they are talking about. How could that be? And Walter Shapiro says that it is an exciting race among the Democrats because almost any one of them could win the nomination and that victory could have to do with the "accidents of timing." I think it is boring because any one of them could win and that victory could well be the result of an accidents of timing.
Drudge says this (if someone has the source, send it to me please): "Hillary Clintons Living History" sells 168,676 in second week according to Nielsen Bookscan data, down more than 50% from opening week [438,701]. Geographic Place For Clinton sales: City 38,474 // Suburb 93,516 // Rural 36,686... Remains #1 non-fiction sales phenomenon... Harry Potter Phoenix sells 3,878,566 [U.S]..."
Both Richard Cohen and Michael Kinsley think that Justice O’Connor is quite confused, and this decision is anything but helpful. John Fund proposes that her replacement be Justice Janice Rogers Brown of the California Supreme Court. She is a very thoughtful and interesting person. She once said of some of her colleagues on the court that they "have an overactive lawmaking gland." She clearly does not. She also has an interesting background; worth paying attention Justice Brown.
I say if Armstrong wins a 5th, he should get to rename the event. That would be my vote, anyway.
The Tour de France begins on July 5 and this site has a good explanation of the route and other information. I mention this, not because I am interested in politics, or anything like that, but because I am a sport enthusiast, and, in my youth, tried to ride. Oh, yes. One more thing. Lance Armstrong, an American will be going for his fifth straight victory. And, I am told, he is in good shape. Now, let’s see, who should we root for?
Eugene Volokh writes in detail and with precision on the Gephardt comment (and following attempted clarification, which was a mistake, he just kept digging himself in a deeper hole) on issuing an executive order if he, as president, were to disagree with a Supreme Court ruling. Very much worth reading. Also note this excellent paper on the history of executive orders by Todd Gaziano. Note his claim that it is not only the number of executive orders of a president that are important to note, but their substance. It seems clear, for example, that Clinton used them to circumvent legislative authority when he knew he couldn’t get the legislature to do what he wanted; and he seemed to be proud of having done so. Dangerous. Well worth reading and putting aside for later use.
In an interview, Ward Connerly neatly points out the problem with Bush’s statement on the Grutter and Gratz cases. Here’s what the president said:
I applaud the Supreme Court for recognizing the value of diversity on our Nation’s campuses. Diversity is one of America’s greatest strengths. Today’s decisions seek a careful balance between the goal of campus diversity and the fundamental principle of equal treatment under the law.
Now for Connerly’s observation:
But the more you read that [i.e., Bush’s statement], the more you begin to realize how far we have gone astray here, when it comes to the point that we’re balancing a constitutional command, namely equal treatment under the law, with the goal of diversity, which is nowhere to be found in the law! (Emphasis added)
Thus did O’Connor sacrifice a constitutional mandate before the idol of diversity.
Bush touts diversity as a laudable goal to be balanced against the equal protection of the laws. Instead, he should speak of diversity as the natural byproduct of laws that protect each citizens liberty equally. In so doing, he could recover the proper definition of civil rights as rights of citizenship that in no wise depend upon the color of ones skin. Simply put, race should not be the measure of anyones rights under our Constitution.
First, Dowd asserts that Thomas got into Yale Law School and picked for the Supreme Court thanks to his race. Yet what proof does she offer for this? Are all Black admittees to Yale Law School there because of their race? No. In fact, this is one of Thomas’s key points: that affirmative action leads to these kind of incorrect assumptions. Yet Dowd doesn’t entertain for a moment that Thomas could have been admitted for any reason other than skin color. Ah, more proof of the benefits of affirmative action.
Yet if anyone proved herself to be an "affirmative action baby" today, it was Dowd, who demonstrated that she couldn’t understand even the simplest argument in Thomas’s opinion. She states that "Justice Thomas scorns affirmative action as ’a faddish slogan of the cognoscenti.’" But anyone who read the opinion knows that Thomas wasn’t talking about affirmative action with that phrase. First, it is worth reading the phrase in context (I suppose I should be grateful that this time she chose to distort the quote in her own voice, rather than using ellipses). What Thomas actually said was: "The majority upholds the Law School’s race discrimination not by interpreting the people’s Constitution, but by responding to a faddish slogan of the cognoscenti." The slogan to which Thomas refers is not affirmative action, which is a popular political phrase for "benign discrimination," but rather "critical mass," the meaningless phrase invented by the cognoscenti and relied upon by the majority to justify its ruling. Such a poor reading by a New York Times columnist. Oh well, applying Dowd’s reasoning, we all know that she got her job at the Times strictly on the basis of merit.
Dowd then argues that "despite his racial blessings" Thomas comes across as "an angry, bitter, self-pitying victim." But is difficult to read Thomas’s opinion as Dowd does, unless you make the assumption that Thomas must support affirmative action because he is Black. Don’t you see, all Black people think alike, or at least they should for Ms. Dowd. If they don’t, why then they are angry, bitter, self-pitying victims. They should just feel grateful that White society has been gracious enough to help them, and they should continue the affirmative action tradition, because that is what they are supposed to do. To do otherwise is to commit the sin of ungratefulness. Doesn’t he know his place?
Finally, Dowd throws in a gratuitous slap at Bush’s status as a legacy admit. Again, she would have done well to have read Thomas’s opinion. You see, dear, the Fourteenth Amendment doesn’t prohibit universities from choosing on the basis of legacy status. Now read slowly, Ms. Dowd, so that you can follow this. We had this thing called a "Civil War"--perhaps you read about it. Anyway, after that War, we passed an amendment which prohibited government from discriminating based on race, but this wasn’t a "you can’t discriminate based on anything" amendment. So schools can still choose based on grades, or athletic ability, or even the less pleasant legacy status without running afoul of the Constitution. Oh well, Ms. Dowd, it was a simple mistake. I’m sure that any New York Times columnist who got their jobs based on their merit clearly could have made such a mistake.
And here is Bill Bennetts take on the decisions: "This position demarks civil wrongs, not civil rights — and this weeks Supreme Court rulings give us little hope that the next generation of Americans struggling through our commitments to equality and liberty will be able to see people as people and not people as categories defined by their race."
John McWhorter thinks that the Suremes decisions on "diversity" is "the saddest development in civil rights since the Bakke decision of 1978." Very good piece.
The Europeans are considering this absurdity: "Brussels is said to be preparing new legislation to monitor sex discrimination outside the workplace. The proposal could lead to a ban on programmes and advertisements that stereotype women or men.
Crucially the courts will be able to decide what constitutes sexual stereotyping and what constitutes ‘images of men and women affecting human dignity and decency’." Now, just think about this in light of constitution making, and in the light of, just as an example, what an Italian, man or woman, will think of it. If youve been there, you will know what I mean. God bless the Italians! (Thanks to Andrew Sullivan)
John Zvesper continues the conversation about the Europeans (and Americans) in a very thoughtful piece. He is trying to make peace between us and them by asking each side to understand the virtues of the other, and he calls for American magnanimity. He reflects, in part, on this Robert Kagan article. Allow me to remind you of this very thoughtful James W. Ceasar article I mentioned yesterday, and the less thoughtful one by me, called The Ugly European.
The Economist runs a critical piece on what is happening at the "European constitutional convention:" Not much, and they get everything important wrong. And here The Economist offers more of a description than a criticism. Both pieces are worth a read.
But, as I am sitting here listening to Gordon Lloyd go through the American Constitutional Convention (he is in the second day of a week-long seminar for high school teachers which he is conducting with Christopher Flannery), it occurs to me that there cannot be a comparison, it is not possible. The American exercise in deliberation and choice is extraordinary, is serious, meaningful, and prudent. There are no Madisons or Hamiltons or Morrises or Dickinsons, never mind a Washington, in the European effort. Here is insight, erudition, and logic, from a senior European delegate: “It was the Bill of Rights that created American identity. They were Americans and so they had rights. It will be the same with Europeans.” Yup, you’re a smart guy, thanks. I remember back in 1982 having a conversation with the editor (not a subaltern) of one of the major London papers. He argued that the American Revolution was an imitation of the French, after all the French Revolution was not only the real revolution, but also the one that come first. I tried to talk him out of this silly opinion. I failed then, and I would fail now if I tried it. Too bad.
This has been a wonderful gathering over the years. I haven’t been in several years, and maybe the attendance has dwindled to 60, but I think it has been closer to 100, at least on occasion.
I could give you a flavor of what goes on by describing some of my athletic prowess-- throwing Walter Berns out at first base after grabbing a hard-hit ball, chasing a Gary Schmitt line drive that went into another picnic area, narrowly avoiding a hard-sliding Jim Williams, etc. I think I once caught a pop fly hit by Irving Kristol, but those who know me will scoff that I’ve never caught a fly ball in my life, and that I am beginning to spin myths. But I did see Diana Schaub play a flawless game at first base, that I’m sure of.
I need to stop before I turn this into a "Battle of the Books."
I can’t recall any speeches, however.
I cant add any detail to what has already been said. I would observe that Justice Thomass jurisprudence owes to the Declaration a commitment to real original intent-- by which I mean a zeal to return our mode of governance to limited government, as the Founders wanted it. That is the core meaning of having a jurisprudence of natural rights.
The "Constitution" we have today does not correspond with the document that the Founders gave us. To have natural rights in mind when one interprets the Constitution is to take the objects of such government with utmost seriousness-- limited government, the rule of law, the separation of powers, among other principles. Hence Thomass controversial (even among conservative fans of his) federalism opinons.
Carol Swain, professor of law and political science at Vanderbilt University, weighs in with a sensible critique of the Court’s support for affirmative action in Grutter. Her essay,
"The Survival of Racial Preferences: Missing the Mark," echoes Justice Thomas’s criticism that the Court’s endorsement of affirmative action actually enables institutions to pursue their own objectives through alleged racial balancing--i.e., merely looking like they do not discriminate by offering for public display the "right" numbers of particular minorities--rather than helping those admitted under the race-preferential policies.
Swain’s main argument, previously made in her book, The New White Nationalism in America: Its Threat to Integration, is that "racial double standards" facilitated by affirmative action will embolden white backlash and further divide the country along racial lines. While it is debatable the extent to which race extremists will increase their numbers because of the Court’s support for affirmative action, Swain does well to remind us of the urgent necessity to "save America" by the inculcation of "common principles and common values that include the betterment of all of society."
The president’s recent statement, which "applaud[ed] the Supreme Court for recognizing the value of diversity," only concedes the rhetorical high ground to affirmative activists, who have hijacked the concept of diversity to permit--nay, require--government action to guarantee proportional, racial representation in American society. Swain is right to conclude that neither major party in the U.S. has offered leadership on the divisive issue of racial preferences. All the more reason to keep individual rights and equal treatment under the law before the American people until they regain their legitimate place in the public mind.
Michael Ramirez, the editorial cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times pretty much nails it. (Thanks to Tom Krannawitter at The Remedy).
The Economist runs an unsigned editorial on the Straussians in DC. This is better than most attempts to make something of Strauss because, one, it doesn’t take the Lyndon LaRouche conspiracy crap seriously and, two, because it is more modest in what it tries to do. But note the too-upbeat conclusion about how the Americans are going to a European (Strauss), while the Europeans are looking to an American (Madison) for their attempt to unify; therefore why can’t both sides of the pond just get along, etc. Well, just a small point on this matter: For practical (political) purposes one of the great effects of Strauss’ teaching was to reopen and/or reinvigorate the study of things American, which means a study of both freedom and virtue, which means a renewal of the study of constitutions, that is, of regimes. Wish the picnic in Washington had more than sixty people attending, right Ken?
To me, John & Rob’s argument sounds like a "less filling, taste great" argument. Scalia might very well want to avoid both the black-history and the Declarational parts of Thomas’s opinion. That said, some of the commentary I’ve read on NLT and The Remedy raises a really important question that deserves discussion -- In what respects should the Declaration have authority in constitutional interpretation?
I haven’t thought this through enough, but let me suggest that the issues are more complicated than the NLT and Remedy commentary have suggested over the last day or two. At one extreme, Justice Scalia is right -- and the commentary wrong -- on this point: The Declaration does not have positive-law authority of its own, except for the proposition that the United States are independent of Great Britain. The bulk of the Declaration sets a standard Americans should apply to judge the governments they institute to secure the Declaration’s natural rights, but the Declaration doesn’t serve as a source of controlling legal authority.
Now, at the other extreme, Scalia is clearly wrong, and the criticisms I’ve read here and on the Remedy are clearly right, in a different respect. Scalia is frustratingly stubborn in refusing to consider whether the Declaration might go a long way in informing how lawyers ought to read the positive-law guarantees in the Constitution. For instance, Scalia reads the Free Speech Clause way too broadly, close close to guaranteeing that "no law" may restrict "speech." If one understands the Founders’ conception of natural rights and natural law, the clause reads very differently. Congress may pass no law "abridging" the "freedom" of speech. "Freedom" bounds "speech" by the moral rights and duties of the natural law. "Abridging," in the Founders’ understanding, quietly distinguishes between laws that "regulate" speech and laws that "abridge." Defamation, blasphemy, and time-and-manner laws all "regulate" because they keep speech within the natural-law "freedom of speech"; laws "abridge" the "freedom of speech" if they restrain speech for no similar purpose. Here and elsewhere, Scalia is too positivist to be a good originalist when original meaning relies heavily on the natural law.
But Adarand, Troxel, and yesterday’s affirmative-action cases raise a different problem: Should one interpret the Constitution to require what the Declaration prescribes even if the constitutional terms in question have a narrower ordinary legal meaning?
On affirmative action, its been shown pretty convincingly that the original meaning of the Equal Protection Clause was not a open-ended license for Congress and courts to fix any state action that ran afoul of the principle that "all men are created equal." The original meaning guaranteed equal PROTECTION. If Congress found that state law-enforcement officers enforced the criminal-battery laws for white victims but not black victims, Congress could intervene to fix the law enforcement patterns. If original meaning controls, Adarand and yesterday’s cases should have been thrown out because the EP Clause was not relevant.
Same goes for Troxel, a Due Process case. The original meaning of both Due Process Clauses was to ensure that no one lost life, liberty, or property except by "the law of the land," except pursuant to a valid statute or common-law precedent already on the books, and pursuant to preexisting procedures for punishment. On that gloss, Troxel is easy: The state can deprive a relative of visitation rights to a child as long as the legislature strips those rights clearly by general law. No need whatsoever to ask why the legislature did so as long as it does so by general legislation.
Now, it could well be that the original meaning of the Privileges and Immunities Clause reduces some of the tension Im highlighting between original and a "Declarational" readings of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. But no one really knows yet what the Privileges and Immunities Clause originally meant. Until its meaning is recovered, any resort to the P&I Clause is a cop-out.
In the meantime, NLT and Claremont readers need to think long and hard about what kind of constitutional-interpretation principles best accord with Declaration natural-law principles. May sound strange, but I’m not convinced that Thomas’s reliance on the Declaration in Adarand, Troxel, or yesterday’s cases comport with the kind of legal interpretation Declaration-style government requires of its lawyers. I’m not sure though; I’m curious what others have to say.
Eastman makes a strong argument regarding Scalia and the Declaration, but there is still room for discussion. First, John mentions the fact that Scalia did not join Thomas’s opinion in Adarand. But Thomas’s fine concurrence in Adarand looks suspiciously like the portion of Thomas’s Grutter opinion in question. That is, while Thomas once again speaks in Adarand of the Declaration, he also speaks about black achievement. Specifically, Thomas in Adarand disputes what he refers to as the racial paternalism exception to Equal Protection. Without saying that you have to be a particular race to offer the arguments made by Thomas in quoting Frederick Douglas in Grutter, or speaking of racial paternalism in Adarand, it is nonetheless understandable why Scalia would choose not to join those sections on the basis of melanin deficiency, and to allow Thomas to speak powerfully on his own.
The Troxel example offered by John does not fit into this pattern however, and raises a more formidable question. As John noted, in Troxel, Scalia argues that "[t]he Declaration of Independence, however, is not a legal prescription conferring powers upon the courts." By doing so, however, Scalia makes the rather unremarkable statement that, absent Constitutional authority, a judge does not have the authority to strike down a law for violating the principles of the Declaration. Scalia’s statement here does not suggest that a judge may not appeal to the principles of the Declaration in interpreting or applying the Constitution--which is what Thomas does in Grutter. As I read Troxel, Scalia appears to be taking aim at those who would seek to appeal to the Declaration not to inform their understanding of the Constitution, but to supercede or add to the Constitution. Accordingly, Scalia could have written and meant what he said in Troxel, and yet have had no problem in joining Thomas’s Declaration statement in Grutter.
My defense is half-hearted, for I don’t believe that Scalia has demonstrated an understanding of the relationship between the Declaration, the Natural Law and the Constitution which compares to Thomas, but at the same point, I don’t think that his failure to sign on to Grutter or Adarand, or his statement in Troxel are sufficient to suggest that he is openly hostile to the Declaration.
That is the title of Peter Kirsanows piece at NRO on Grutter and Gratz. He thinks that although the immediate practical effects will be negligible, "the long term social cost will be pronounced." And, "The Michigan opinions nevertheless impress for the sheer banality of the tortuous reasoning used to convert the plain, unambiguous language of the Fourteenth Amendment into a license to discriminate...provided it is done artfully."
A Washington Post-ABC News Poll says something to both our friends and enemies: Despite the anti-war elites propaganda in the US (never mind the Europeans), Americans retain their common sense and their character is, once again, revealed. The WaPo reports: "By 56 percent to 38 percent, the public endorsed the use of the military to block Iran from developing nuclear arms." While I do not argue in favor of going into Iran, this poll is another very good indication of the clear thinking of American citizens, post 9/11. There should be no immediate concern about squishiness, quagmires, and so on. The people seem to have a very clear understanding that there is serious mischief abroad, and we may, from time to time, have to act in ways that matter. Let me paraphrase Hamlet: Though we are not splenative and rash, yet we have in us something dangerous. And it is good that this is known.
James Ceasar writes a long and very good article entitled, "A genealogy of anti-Americanism," in the current issue of The Public Interest. This is a serious piece, worth consideration and much reflection. Ceasar says: "Anti-Americanism rests on the singular idea that something associated with the United States, something at the core of American life, is deeply wrong and threatening to the rest of the world." He then traces five major layers or strata regarding the concept of America, including, degeneracy and monstrocity, rationalistic illusions, racial impurity, technology, soullessnss and rampant consumerism.
Just a point: Heidegger says Americanism is "the still unfolding and not yet full or completed essence of the emerging monmstrousness of modern times." America is katestrophenhaft, the site of catastrophe. Read it all and weep for what used to be called the West, and now must be called America. Yet, Ceasar is not without hope.
Im not sure I agree with Robert Alts more charitable take, below, on Justice Scalias joining only parts I-VII of Justice Thomass opinion in Grutter. Justice Scalia penned a pretty strong opposition to reliance on the Declaration of Indepedence in Troxel v. Granville two years ago: The Declaration "is not a legal prescription conferring powers upon the courts." And he did not join Justice Thomas’s opinion in Adarand, in which Justice Thomas argued that racial set asides violate the equality principle that infuses the Constition, a proposition for which he cited the Declaration of Independence. I think it pretty likely, therefore, that the asteriks were added to make a concluding section separate from Part VII, so neither it nor the introduction were joined by Justice Scalia.
In answer to Dr. Pestritto’s question, I don’t think that Scalia is avoiding endorsing the Declaration. It appears more likely that Scalia is bowing out of joining Justice Thomas’s comments which precede Section I. It is here that Thomas quotes extensively from Frederick Douglas, and speaks with passion about how he "believe[s] blacks can achieve in every avenue of American life without the meddling of university administrators." My sense is that Scalia thought that these words were uniquely Justice Thomas’s, and that they stand on their own.
It is also worth noting that Thomas’s last paragraph, in which he mentions without quoting the Declaration and quotes from Justice Harlan’s ringing dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, bears striking resemblance to Scalia’s concurrence in Adarand v. Pena, in which he states, "[i]n the eyes of government, we are just one race here. It is American." Given this similarity, I don’t think it is out of disagreement that Scalia joins only I-VII, but out of respect for Thomas’s desire to speak about the capacity for black achievement.
FOX News reports this from the mouth of Gephardt (agreeing with Kucinich) on Sunday: "When I’m president, we’ll do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day." Eugene Volokh says this: "The quote is so shocking that I think he may have been misquoted, or quoted out of context -- it’s surely happened before. But if he was quoted in context, then this thinking is a very good reason not to elect him. If anyone has more details on the quote, I’d love to hear them.
UPDATE: A reader has just e-mailed me a link to the C-SPAN video. At around 43:45, Dennis Kucinich, another Democratic presidential candidate makes a very similar statement. Then at 44:40, Gephardt’s rather short speech starts, and at 45:40, he makes the statement that the AP quotes, agreeing with Kucinich. It’s entirely in context.
Do we really want a President who thinks that the President has the power to overcome "any wrong thing the Supreme Court does" using an Executive order? I know lots of people think various actions of the Bush Administration are unconstitutional; I too disagree with some of the Administration’s positions, for instance on the alleged power to detain all unlawful combatants (including U.S. citizens captured on U.S. soil) with no judicial review. I hope the Supreme Court agrees, and decides against the Administration. But I’m pretty confident that if the Supreme Court does so decide, this Administration will comply with the Supreme Court’s order.
Gephardt and Kucinich are promising that they’ll flout those orders. Seems to me that they should be taken to task for this, and severely."
Here is President Bushs statement on the Supreme Court decisions on the Grutter and Gratz affirmative action cases. I regret to say that it is not an impressive statement. Whos advising him on this stuff, Gonzales?
Well, a quick perusal of O’Connor’s opinion for the court indicates she--a cowgirl, for crying out loud--failed to pull the trigger on affirmative action precisely on the point that she raised at oral argument and elsewhere: namely, that govt use of race be limited in duration (to satisfy the "narrowly tailored" prong of the strict scrutiny test). What evidence does she cite to prove that the law school intends to use race for a limited time? In breathless prose she states,
We take the Law School at its word that it would "like nothing better than to find a race-neutral admissions formula" and will terminate its race-conscious admissions program as soon as practicable.
Is that all it takes to pass constitutional muster? Taking a govt institution "at its word" that it will stop using race when IT deems it no longer necessary?! O’Connor goes on to close that paragraph as follows:
We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.
What about the rights of individuals today? Is it not the Court’s responsibility to ensure that govt institutions not violate the Constitution today, per standards the Court derives from the Constitution, and not accept the mere verbal testimony of the institution using race-conscious measures? It appears that O’Connor has felt the pressure of elite public opinion not to hasten the day when all Americans are treated equal under the law but rather find the extent of their constitutional protections determined by their specific race.
Quick additional point: O’Connor also upholds Powell’s lone opinion in Bakke that racial diversity is a compelling state interest in higher education--this despite her pointing out that no other justice joined that part of his opinion! In short, by drawing the support of the four liberal justices for her majority opinion in Grutter, O’Connor has now turned Powell’s one-man, slender-as-a-reed endorsement of race as part of educational diversity (to satisfy compelling state interest) into a slim but solid 5-4 Court precedent for diversity as a rationale for race-conscious govt decision-making. Does O’Connor realize how much she has crippled the Court’s ability to speed the day that affirmative action fall by the wayside of public practice?
I’ll chime in with more once I give all the opinions a closer look, esp. the separate opinion of Thomas in Grutter and the Rehnquist majority opinion in Gratz, which overturned affirmative action at the undergraduate level (and which O’Connor joined).
Justice Clarence Thomas celebrates his 55th birthday today. On this day, we should thank him for reacquainting us with Frederick Douglass, the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution in his separate opinion in Grutter. Would that the rest of the Court would pay more attention and deference to these great American documents and one of their greatest defenders.
Happy birthday, Justice Thomas, and may the blessing of the Lord be upon you.
I know that I previously predicted that Justice OConnor would not retire this term, but now I join the chorus with a simple plea: RETIRE NOW. She has done enough damage to the law. It is time for her to go. Yes, I know that this means that we could get someone squishy like Gonzalez, but I now think that it would be extremely difficult to get anyone who is less capable of reading the Constitution.
The majority in Grutter makes the strange statement that they believe that affirmative action will not be necessary, and will not comport with the requirements of the Equal Protection Clause, in say, 25 years (slip-op at 31). This is quite interesting, because it harkens back to a story I heard from a clerk for Justice White, relating how the Bakke bargain was struck. Justice Powell, the swing vote "1" in the 4-1-4 opinion which was Bakke, is reported to have changed his vote several times. He was discussing this with two of the more vocal proponents on the court: Justice Marshall, who sought to uphold affirmative action, and another Justice who believed it unconstitutional. At one point, Powell asked how long affirmative action should last. Marshall reportedly said something to the effect of "Well, this country kept us in slavery and oppression for 400 years; 400 years ought to do." Powell then abandoned for good Marshall’s position, thus creating the strange hybrid beast that was Bakke. It is interesting then that the idea of a "sunset" provision--the very issue that troubled Justice Powell in Bakke--made its way into the court’s opinion.
Justice Thomas makes short work of this, however, stating "I believe that the Law School’s current use of race violates the Equal Protection Clause and that the Constitution means the same thing today as it will in 300 months." That’s worth at least two cups.
Justice Thomas once again demonstrates why he is quite possibly the finest jurist on the court in his Grutter opinion. He begins with a long quotation from Frederick Douglass speech, "What the Black Man Wants," which denounces pity in favor of justice. He then quickly decimates the Courts opinion, noting that "[t]he majority upholds the Law Schools racial discrimination not by interpreting the peoples Constitution, but by responding to a faddish slogan of the cognoscenti." These words from the man who should be, and could be, Chief.
For those of you who have been trying to download the Grutter opinion from the slow Supreme Court site, you can get it from NLT here
Maynard Jackson, Atlantas first black mayor, has died. This allows me to recycle one of columnist Lewis Grizzards great lines about Jackson, who was a very portly fellow. Grizzard wrote: "I wont exactly call Jackson fat, but lets just say that when he steps on a cigarette, that suckers out."
Well, I guess we need to wait to read the nuances of the Michigan opinions, but it looks like Lucas, Robert and I should all win NLT coffee cups. Personally, Id juts as soon see OConnor retire yesterday. Good riddance.
The president of the U. of Michigan was on CNN just now crowing about how the cases are a huge victory for higher education, and a vindication of affirmative action. (Sigh.)
Early reports suggests that Justice OConnor wrote the opinion, which as I mentioned in my prediction, means that all hope is lost. It appears that they struck down the undergraduate policy, and upheld the law school program. Ill have more when the opinions post.
David Brooks says this of the Democrats:
"Democratic strategists are trying to put a rational gloss on what is a visceral, unplanned, and emotional state of mind. Democrats may or may not be behaving intelligently, but they are behaving sincerely. Their statements are not the product of some Dick Morris-style strategic plan. This stuff wasnt focus-grouped. The Democrats are letting their inner selves out for a romp.
And if you probe into the Democratic mind at the current moment, you sense that the rage, the passion, the fighting spirit are all fueled not only by opposition to Bush policies, but also by powerlessness." Read the whole thing.
Jim Hoagland writes a breezy op-ed on the Europeans and their problems. "After an admirable run of success, France, Germany and other nations in Western Europe face serious prospects of economic decline and social dislocation. They must simultaneously manage their weakness and the unpredictable, rising power of Bushs America. That is nightmare enough to disturb any catnap."
Paul Crespo writes an op-ed on the current understanding of what the left calls an agenda for American empire. And Paul Johnson has a long and very interesting article on empire ("From the evil empire to the empire of liberty") in the current issue of The New Criterion. By no means am I saying that I agree with Johnson, yet it is worth reading. Over time, I will have more to say on this empire issue, but not just yet. For now Ill just keeep pointing you to some material on the theme worth reading.
Terrence Moore writes a good column in favor of a nine month school year, and explains what the three "off" months are for.
Dan Balz writes about the Bush re-election strategy in the WaPo. While there is some interesting information in the article, the item that struck me most is this: "Republican strategists see the 2004 election as their best opportunity in a generation to construct a durable governing majority, and they have set in motion a systematic and coordinated strategy designed to leverage President Bush’s popularity and break the impasse that has dominated the country’s politics since the mid-1990s.
The president himself established the ambitions behind the 2004 strategy earlier this year, when he authorized advisers to begin planning for a reelection campaign that began in earnest last week with a series of fundraising events. According to several GOP strategists, Bush told his team: Don’t give me "a lonely victory." Said one top Bush adviser, "He said, ’I don’t want what Nixon had. I don’t want what Reagan had.’"
In other words, Bush wants a Republican Party victory, not just a Bush presidential victory. You might remember that in 1984, when it was pretty much known that Reagan was going to trounce Mondale in his re-election effort, the day before election day, on his way to California, Reagan stopped off in Minnesota
and held a rally at the airport because some of his advisors said he just maybe able to carry Mondale’s home state. It is true that he almost did (in the end, aside from taking DC, Mondale carried only one state, Minnesota, by just 6,000 votes out of two million cast), but some of us thought that Reagan should have stopped off to help some GOP candidate for the House. Clearly, Bush is not going to make such a mistake; also keep Bush’s extraordinary effort for the GOP in the 2002 elections in mind, when reflecting on how he is going to fight the 2004 contest.
"The Cog" is the name of this Honda ad. Watch the whole thing, it takes maybe a minute. It is done manually, no special effects. The only words are at the end, "Isnt it nice when things just work." After watching it, scroll down for more information. Worth your time. Very smart. (Thanks to Andrew Sullivan).
The Observer reports this on Sunday: "American specialists were carrying out DNA tests last night on human remains believed by US military sources to be those of Saddam Hussein and one of his sons, The Observer can reveal.
The remains were retrieved from a convoy of vehicles struck last week by US forces following firm information that the former Iraqi leader and members of his family were travelling in the Western Desert near Syria.
Military sources told The Observer that the strikes, involving an undisclosed number of Hellfire missiles, were launched against the convoy last Wednesday after the interception of a satellite telephone conversation involving either Saddam or his sons.
The operation, which has not yet been disclosed by the Pentagon, involved the United States air force and ground troops of the Third Armoured Cavalry Regiment based around Ramadi, a major town 70 miles west of Baghdad."
George Will writes a perfectly clean and clear column on why WMD had better be found, or accounted for, in Iraq: The Bush doctrine of pre-emption is at stake.
I think Alt is pretty much right - but since predicting the same thing as someone else is no fun, Ill predict that the court hands down a per curiam holding that one of the admissions programs is unconstitutional that makes no sense but is the upshot of at least five Justices separate thinking on the issues. Then well have three or four separate opinions arguing stuff all over the map. No retirements this term.
Todays Washington Post carries a very encouraging story to the effect that Bush and the high command of the Republican Party intend to go for a party sweep in next years election. The best part of the story is a quote from Bush saying he doesnt want a replay of Nixon in 1972 or Reagan in 1984, where both men won landslide re-elections with little or no benefit to the party. In both of those cases, Nixon and Reagan ran mostly for personal victories, and disdained to connect their cause with the cause of their party.
Todays stupidly comes from (where else?) the New York Times, where Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse (of the famous "Greenhouse Effect") laments that the current Supreme Court is so right wing that "No Justice now holds the death penalty is unconstitutional."
Imagine that! Not one justice thinks something explicitly approved in the Constitution is unconstitutional! Whats next? Actually reading the text itself?
This article from the Asia Times claims that the US is losing the peace in Afghanistan. The story is based on this report from the Council on Foreign Relations (a PDF file). In the meantime, another Asia Times story claims that Iran is meddling in a serious way in Afghan affairs. "Very much as in Iraq, there are clear indications that with the help of more than a dozen important Hezb-i-Islami leaders based in Tehran, Iran has established a supply line for the resistance movement in Afghanistan to consolidate in areas where it has yet to establish itself fully. The Hezb-i-Islami, led by famed Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, is the most organized resistance force in Afghanistan. Hekmatyar recently returned to Afghanistan after several years of exile in Iran."
Well, I made it to Washington on my steady old bike, got there just in time for the meeting, had dinner, slept like a log, and rode back the next morning. Got back early this afternoon. The ride back was a bit slow because it rained the whole way, until I crossed into Ohio. Then it stopped. I am a bit surprised at how well it all went considering not only the weather, but the fact that I came down with a miserable cold the day before I was to leave. But, I had no choice, had to ride. And to my surprise, the cold didn’t get any worse; in fact, the more I rode, the better I felt (even in the constant rain). This just proves that my mother is wrong about colds (have soup and go to bed, she instructs). Next time I get a cold I am going to find a wet spot and ride (although I admit, it was a bit difficult using a handkerchief at 70-plus miles an hour!). By the way, I 68 between Hagerstown (MD) and Morgantown (WVA) is a great road; nice sweeping curves, great vistas, hardly any traffic (almost no big trucks!) and everyone is doing 80. I also found the only straight road in West Virginia! It is the 522 going South from Berkeley Springs; although hilly, it is straight for maybe ten miles. Amazing.
Among the many reviews of Hillary Clinton’s Living History, I wanted to call attention to one last Sunday by WA Post Book World editor Jonathan Yardley. The telling line is where he says
predictably, her book is as much campaign document as memoir, designed not merely for the eyes of historians but for those of voters in New York who presumably will be asked to send her back to Washington three years hence and, perhaps, for those of voters around the country who may well be asked to elevate her to the presidency in 2008 or 2012.
Yardley’s no conservative, which shows in his discussion of the Starr report, but his good sense shines through to understand what Clinton’s and Blumenthal’s books are about: the future of either Clinton’s political prospects, plain and simple. Here’s his closer:
But between the first inauguration and the pardons lay eight years of bumbling, dissembling, concupiscence and amorality. That the American people not merely tolerated this but gave Clinton the benefit of just about every doubt is a sign, perhaps, of their capacity for forgiveness, but it is a sign of moral obtuseness as well. These are matters with which Clinton’s defenders must contend, but from the two books at hand you’d never know they existed.
Needless to say, every statement and action by Sen. Clinton will be, as Yardley puts it, "carefully calibrated to present an image." Unless Nancy Pelosi makes some serious headway politically in the next few years (i.e., getting into the Senate or the gubernatorial chair), my prediction is that the 2008 Democratic nomination is Hillary’s for the taking. Sorry: Men need not apply after next year’s Democratic convention.
Re: Hayward’s Supreme Court challenge, I’m told NPR will air a panel discussion of the Grutter and Gratz cases on affirmative action next Tuesday. So, with the Supreme Court likely to announce their decision in those cases on Monday, what do I think the Court will say? My opinion has not changed much since I blogged on the subject last December (see my blog entitled "Sandra Day’s Swan Song").
In short, I still think O’Connor will write the decision for the court majority, 5-4, but will not garner a majority for her opinion, i.e., the reason for her decision to strike down Michigan’s racial preference programs at the state’s flagship law school and university. Rehnquist, Kennedy, Thomas, and Scalia will agree with her conclusion that Michigan’s programs fail the Court’s well-established strict scrutiny test. I’m guessing that O’Connor will try to improve upon (while reinforcing, unfortunately) the 1978 Bakke precedent by emphasizing the "narrowly tailored" prong of the two-part test, leaving aside the "compelling state interest" prong for a future Court to deal with.
O’Connor has explicitly cited the part of Powell’s lone opinion in Bakke that supported racial diversity in higher education as a compelling state interest. Here’s what she wrote in the Wygant case:
Additionally, although its precise contours are uncertain, a state interest in the promotion of racial diversity has been found sufficiently "compelling," at least in the context of higher education, to support the use of racial considerations in furthering that interest.
However, Rehnquist, Thomas, and Scalia won’t buy that rationale. So O’Connor will maintain her court majority of five by finding that Michigan programs are also not narrowly tailored enough because they act as de facto quotas (thus violating Bakke in spirit if not in letter) as well as lacking a defined terminating point to indicate the achievement of "enough" diversity that would call for the end of affirmative action by the state university.
I would emphasize this last point, given her concern (and Scalia’s) at oral argument that affirmative action be limited in scope and duration. For example, in a June 1 NY Times Magazine essay "How I Learned to Love Quotas", Jeffrey Rosen noted O’Connor’s shock to hear a Supreme Court justice from India say that their caste-based quota system would never end: "O’Connor raised her eyebrow in response and gave me a meaningful glance of reproach."
Thus, O’Connor’s majority co-signers will agree with some of her arguments, ignore others, and weigh in with their own--as they have done in previous affirmative action cases. Alas, Powell’s lone opinion in Bakke will still continue to stand as the precedent in affirmative action cases involving higher education.
The danger for O’Connor is the risk of having her opinion become another repeat of Powell’s, with four members of the Court (Stevens, Souter, Ginsberg, and Breyer) joining one of her arugments (racial diversity IS a compelling state interest), while four other members (Rehnquist, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas) side with another argument (racial diversity as a rationale for affirmative action is NOT narrowly tailored enough). The question is, will O’Connor be prudent enough during the opinion-circulation stage to remove any reference to a compelling state interest argument (for racial diversity) to focus on the narrowly tailored argument (against racial diversity) to strike down Michigan’s affirmative action? One hopes she will stick with the narrowly tailored test, if only to give the nation a chance to rid itself of affirmative action in the near future.
As I noted in my previous blog, O’Connor may try to turn this case into a swan song for her general legacy as the first female Supreme: namely, helping the Court to stabilize its rulings (esp. given its split decisions on controversial subjects) through a heightened reinforcement of the role of precedent. This is how she interpreted the abortion cases and was able to steal the Casey opinion away from Rehnquist. This means Bakke and strict scrutiny are here to stay, even if Michigan’s current affirmative action regime dies next Monday.
Will O’Connor retire soon after this term? I think it’s likely. She’s published two books in the last year or so with nostalgic themes, has had family and friends attend oral arguments this term like there’s no tomorrow, and clearly wants to enjoy her retirement back West and away from the Beltway. I wouldn’t be surprised if Stevens (age 83) followed O’Connor’s lead and jumped ship before the Oct 2003 term. But my prediction is O’Connor will not retire if she was unable to corral (cowgirl that she is) a majority to join her on Grutter and Gratz. Rehnquist, however, is good for another year, at least.
Whew! My final recommendation is to read a sensible op-ed on this whole affirmative action mess by Robert Samuelson from Wednesday’s WA Post: "Affirmative Ambiguity". He notes, "Minority students have been academic trophies" for elite colleges, who exclaim that the world will come to an end if an affirmative-action-less academy leads most minorities to attend less prestigious colleges and universties. Looking for a silver lining to the cloud of affirmative action, Samuelson lauds what he calls the "more open society" produced by forced racial integration of schools. While he does not give due attention to the kind of state control that must be ceded by free citizens in order to engineer his "open society," Samuelson at least highlights the specious "moral superiority" of elite colleges who defend affirmative action.
I accept Hayward’s Supreme Court challenge, but think we need to add a few factors to make it more interesting. I fear that all the contestants are going to give similar answers to the Grutter question, so I would suggest that all contestants should also give their predictions on who will retire from the Supreme Court this term.
I personally predict a very dismal coming week for NLT readers who follow the Supreme Court. The best I think we could hope for from the Supreme Court would be if the Supreme Court dodged the question of whether diversity is a compelling state interest, deciding instead that the University of Michigan’s program is clearly not narrowly tailored. That isn’t my bet, however. Here, then, are my predictions:
(1) The Supreme Court states in the Michigan cases something slightly stronger than Bakke, but just as undefined. Look for a classic O’Connoresque ruling to the effect of "diversity is almost never a compelling interest except for sometimes . . . ." The decision will likely be written by the Chief if it has any merit to it at all. You will know that all hope is lost if he assigns it to O’Connor.
(2) There will be NO retirements. The Supremes have set the campaign finance case for oral arguments a month before the regular session begins. This suggests to me that the Chief does not intend to go anywhere. I have heard the argument that the Chief might be doing this to press the Senate’s hand--that is, to encourage them to fill the seat by September. I’m not buying it. I think he’s hunkering down for the long haul. O’Connor has been making all the motions of a farewell tour, but the sense, at least among outsiders, has been that she would take her cue from the Chief. The other unspoken candidate for retirement is Stevens. Most people forget that he was appointed by Ford, and up until Bush v. Gore made rumblings about wanting to wait to retire until a Republican was in office. But his opinion in Bush v. Gore suggests that he may live to 100 just out of spite. Don’t look for him to retire before the next Presidential term. Thus I predict that barring health failures, we will see the same court after the 2004 election as we see today.
Finally, my bonus prediction. The Court will strike down the Texas sodomy law in Lawrence v. Texas in an opinion written by Kennedy. The decision will be based exclusively on Equal Protection grounds, and will not reach the privacy arguments (although there will likely be arguments made in the concurrences suggesting that the court should have reached the issue, and should overturn Bowers v. Hardwick). The decision will come very close to ratcheting up review of sexual orientation discrimination to intermediate scrutiny, but will not do so, at least not expressly. Kennedy and O’Connor will attempt to put language in the opinion to distinguish this from "slippery slope" arguments, such as gay marriage. Finally, Scalia will issue a dissent which will peel paint off the Supreme Court’s walls.
Those are my predictions, now I open it to my co-bloggers, particularly Claeys and Eastman, to play along.
The news papes today are awash with imnportant stories about the diversity industry. The Washington Post has a story about "whiteness studies" at Amherst and elsewhere (Hadley--look whats happened while you were vacationing at Princeton this year!), which are thinly disguised efforts to instill racial guilt in whites. The Post, to its credit, rightly characterizes such programs as "left-leaning.
The Wall Street Journal (sorry, no link--I read the dead tree version) has a front-page story about how UCLA Law School is evading the ban on racial quotas in California by offering admission to applicants with lower grades and test scores than average if they commit to signing up for a program in critical race theory and the law. The program is open to all applicants, but (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) guess who its really intended for?
Which brings us to the Supreme Courts decision in the Michigan case, due out in the next 10 days or so. NoLeftTurn-ers should now make their predictions on the outcome (Lucas, Ken, and my old roommate the Eastguy should all weigh in, at the very least); let Schramm decide who comes closest and award a coffee mug.
I am pessimistic. Especially if OConnor is about to retire (the signs are there; lots of her family members have shown up for oral arguments this spring, which looks rather like a valedictory to me), I doubt she will want to go out with the New York Times and other observers saying her departure was "marred" by a "mean-spirited," "right-wing" decision on race. I predict she will reprise the Powell role from Bakke, and give us a Bakke-lite decision that will muddle the waters so badly that the issue will bet set back another 20 years. So she will side with the courts liberals and write the controlling opinion; saving "affirmative action" from total abolition will be the legacy she seeks.
Id love to be wrong about this, but there it is.
Lets not laugh too quickly-- think of the ads corporations would buy as a kind of tribute they pay to future rulers.
News yesterday said that Al Gore is in the throes of trying to put together a TV or radio network to combat the sinister influence of conservatives on cable and talk radio. Now, this venture faces all the problems Chris Flannery observes in his fine piece about why there is no liberal talk radio in the latest edition of the Claremont Review of Books (find it here).
Todays Washington Post "Style" section offers several plausible shows the Gore network might offer:
Good Morning Blue States--News & Talk
Lock Box--Market News
Earth Tones in the Balance--Fashion
Karenna Says the Darndest Things--After School
Whos (Not) the Boss--Sitcom
Recount!--News & Debate
Countdown to Recount--Debate
Recount Showdown!--Breaking News
Gore Dance Fever--Medical
Tippers Banned Record Party--Variety
Politically Correct--Labored Humor
Miami Fraud--Political Crime Drama
Americas Least Wanted--Political Crime Drama
No Left Turns invites further programming suggestions. My own view is that the Post missed a great chance to cast Al as Lurch in a film noir remake of The Munsters.
The NY Times veteran court reporter, Linda Greenhouse, wrote yesterday
that we can expect the Supremes to hand down their remaining ten decisions next Monday and Thursday. These include the Michigan affirmative action cases (Grutter and Gratz).
Barring a late request by one of the justices to address an opposing view in an opinion still circulating, Greenhouse expects Chief Justice William Rehnquist to end the term by next Thursday, June 26. That is when he is due to attend the annual conference of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Therefore, we will know fairly soon whether or not our civil rights depend upon the color of our skin or on our individual standing as citizens of the United States.
There was a lot of brave talk in the news media a few weeks about about wealthy Democrats founding their own liberal think tank in Washington (whats wrong with Brookings?? Never mind. . .) to compete with the Heritage Foundation, Cato, and AEI. They may want to ponder this wire service report from February 1981 that I recently stumbled across:
"A group of high-ranking refugees from the Kennedy, Johnson, and Carter administrations is setting up a Washington-based think tank to serve as a rival to Republican-oriented research groups like the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation. Tentatively called Democratic Forum, the group hopes to riase $1 million this year and $2 million next year, to churn out studies and policy recommendations."
Boy, we all remember what an impact that effort made. . . dont we? . . . we dont?? Oh.
The AMA yesterday endorsed human embryonic cloning for research purposes. You can read the news account here. I will have more detailed thoughts on this in the coming days.
AP reports today that The Sopranos will be producing a sixth season next year. While I do not have HBO, I am hooked, and have taken to what at first seemed to me to be the extraordinary measure of renting the seasons on DVD. For those of you who teach law, I found that the series offers plenty of hypos for class, and gets you in the right frame of mind for Professor Kingsfield-style Socratic inquiry.
Pat Buchanan reports on the Recall Gray Davis petition. Buchanan takes it for granted that Davis will be removed from office.
He argues that Senator Feinstien is not likely to allow her name to go on the ballot. Buchanan believes that with perhaps 15 or 20 names on the ballot that Arnold Schwarzenneger will win.
The real sleeper in all of this is whether or not Congressman Darrell Issa is really willing, as rumor as has it, to spend $50 million of his own money to become the next Governor of California.
I had heard reports for the past few days that Dennis Miller would be joining Fox News, but I just got confirmation from a friend who is a news writer for Fox. The comedian will be offering what fans will recognize as his "rants" as a segment on the Friday edition of Hannity and Colmes. I must admit that I am a fan of Miller (before I get endless comments, I do realize that he is not a conservative--but he is funny), although I always thought that his placement on Monday Night Football was odd. While I was worried that the move to Fox might be a similar reach, the fact that they will be using Miller for a stinging commentary segment bodes well for the Fox Execs decision, for by doing so they are putting Miller in a position in which he is strong. Contrast this decision with, say, putting Keith Olberman behind a desk for "news."
Here’s the Democratic National Committee’s cartoon, portraying Bush creating a vast right wing Supreme Court Justice.
If Bush gets to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, the Bork and Thomas Hearings will look like a game of paddy cake, paddy cake.
Christopher Hitchens has an outstanding review of Sidney Blumenthals book in the July/August issue of The Atlantic. The title alone--"Thinking Like an Apparatchik"--makes it worth the read.
I am off to Washington for a few days, and will not be blogging again until the weekend.
Dinesh DSouza thinks that the West became rich because it introduced three new things: science, democracy, and capitalism. Nice short essay on a big subject.
A federal appeals court ruled that the Justice Department properly withheld the names and other details about hundreds of foreigners detained in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks.
MI5 has announced this, according to the Telegraph: A biological, chemical or nuclear terrorist attack on a Western city is "only a matter of time", the head of MI5 has said.
Eliza Manningham-Buller said: "We are faced with a realistic possibility of a form of unconventional attack that could include chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN)."
This from London: "British and American intelligence and special forces have been put on alert for a conflict with Iran within the next 12 months, as fears grow that Tehran is building a nuclear weapons programme." In the meantime, Morton Kondracke thinks the U.S. doesnt have a plan to deal with Iran.
Newsweek runs a long and, I think, a very interesting article on the extent of terrorist operations within the US. Some of the information comes via interrogations of Khalid Shaik Mohammad. Worth reading.
In response to Steve Hayward’s and Mickey Craig’s posts on recalling Gray Davis: While I prefer the Gray Davis resignation scenario, my own prediction is that Senator Dianne Feinstein will become Governor Feinstein and appoint an Hispanic as her successor in the Senate. This tactic could be Terminated, of course.
But a post-recall Democratic victory could prove advantageous to the Republicans. After all, the Democrats would still be responsible, and this time as a party for the budget mess in Sacramento.
Any Republican who got elected would be delegitimized as having gained office through a "stolen election," especially if the winner attained office with fewer popular votes than loser Bill Simon in 2002.
Moreover, election through recall helps fulfil the Progressive agenda of transforming our form of government into something more like the parliamentary system, where the principle of consent expresses itself through the impulses of the electorate. The opportunities for statesmanship are diminished, and the bureaucracy whose foundations were established by Progressivism lies undisturbed.
Even in defeat and following further Democrat failures in Sacramento, Republicans would have the opportunity of blaming the entire Democratic party, not the craven politics of Gray Davis, who embarasses most Democrats. Democrats of course would try to claim a mandate to reform the budget crisis through tax increases and pander on moral issues. That is the gamble Californians take on recalling Gray Davis, the enemy we know.
The London Guardian reports that the staff of the "looted" museum are not amused, and are demanding that its directors resign. "Staff said they believed that some of the thefts from the museum were an inside job. They also accused Dony George, the boards head of research, of arming them and ordering them to fight US forces.
Mr George admitted to the Guardian that he armed staff but denied instructing them to shoot US troops. He said none of the directors had a hand in the looting."
Dana Priest and others write this long Washington Post story on Jessica Lynch and her rescue. The authors claim that while this is still an inconclusive cut at the history, it is more complete than any previous ones.
Here is a Mark Steyn column of Hillarys book. What can I say? There are some people who can write, and Steyn is one of them. Envy. Envy. Read it and laugh, read it and weep.
The Roadmap to Peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors is more than a 12 step program.
To paraphrase Victor Davis Hansen, "Peace does not come through a process, peace comes when one side defeats the other. Then you have peace. The United States has peace with Germany, Japan, and Vietnam because one side defeated the other."
So is any Roadmap to Peace in the Middle East far gone in utopian speculation until one side defeats the other? Probably so, but here are two articles which outline the first steps to peace. Ruth Wisse argues that the first step to peace is very simple, the Arabs simply have to stop hating Jews and the State of Israel. Michael Oren points out how generous Israel has been when any Arab state has done the simple thing of recognizing Israel’s right to exist.
Let’s hope that President Bush succeeds where other American Presidents have failed.
Airbus SAS, the worlds second-largest planemaker, won an order from Emirates, the Middle Easts fastest-growing airline, for 41 new planes, including 21 of the double- decker A380s, worth as much as $8.5 billion at list prices. And Airbus is projected to surpass Boeing as the worlds largest planemaker this year.
Pejman asks how to say "democracy, whisky, and sexy," in Farsi. And, in the process, you can learn a bit about both Persian and the current Iranian political situation, if you follow the links. In the meantime, FOX is reporting that
American Iranian university faculty are demanding an end to tyranny.
The London Times runs a good article on the mess that the Guardian caused when it misquoted Wolfowitz recently. This article is worth a read because it clearly shows that the left will publish anything if it meets their agenda. It is an almost absurdly ridiculous story, but again, brought to light by bloggers (rather than editors at the Guardian).
Michael Uhlmann has a nice and clear essay on just war theory in the latest Claremont Review of Books.
Materials that could be used to make a dirty bomb have been found in Tbilisi, Georgia, according to Reuters.
The draft Gore effort didn’t come off too well, only 100 people showed up, reprts the Tennessean. In the meantime General Clark looks more and more like a candidate. Here is the transcript of his interview from Meet the Press. Robert Novak outlines why he thinks Gephardt is doing well in Iowa. Boston Globe runs an article on Kerry’s college years. No surprises here; acts as an aristocrat who will (he thinks) someday be president.
George Will has a lovely column on David Brinkley as a man, and what standards he set for the profession.
It must be true. According to the fair and balanced Fox News, the recall Gray Davis effort will qualify for the ballot.
The leading GOP candidates to replace Davis are California Congressman, Darrell Issa, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The leading Democratic candidate to replace Davis is U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein.
The more likely scenario is that Davis will resign so the Democratic Lt. Governor can replace him.
As everyone must know by now Roger Clemens won his 300th game yesterday, as well as getting his 4,000th strike-out. I like him because he pitches as if every pitch matters, he is capable of getting angry at himself, hates failure, and the best in him may be diligence. Great accomplishment.
Stephen Moore, of the Club for Growth, explains why the 25th anniversary of Californias Proposition 13 is worth celebrating.
"Why should we now celebrate the legacy of Proposition 13 after 25 years? For two reasons. First, Proposition 13 and similar taxpayer measures in other states have saved average homeowners tens of thousands of dollars in property tax payments over the past twenty-five years. This is money that would have fueled an even more rapid escalation in state and local public bureaucracies if those dollars had been sent to state capitals and city hall. That is why the majority of California voters still say they would vote for Proposition 13 if given the chance.
Taxpayers nationwide also owe a debt of gratitude to the Proposition 13 tax revolt movement because it proved that, when properly organized, citizens can rise up against unresponsive government and its economically disabling policies that threaten our economic well-being and our basic freedoms."
Regnum Crucis and Winds of Change are blogs that seem to be focused on terrorism. Each day they will bring up something (or many things, usually) interesting and sometimes elaborate on a theme with a couple of good paragraphs, with many links. This is an example of the latter on the connection between al-Qaeda and Algerians. Have wondered why so many of the al-Qaeda has such a disproportionate number of Algerian expatraites??
The Saudis have fired hundred of clerics (and suspended another thousand) who have been teaching intolerance!
Sorry to have been so long away . . . the dog ate my homework or something. Just wanted to report that at the McLean Virginia Books-A-Million they have plenty of copies of "Living History" (sic) at 40% off.
Here, in the New York Times of all places, lies the answer to all of those who are using the failure to find WMDs in Iraq as a stick with which to beat the administration. The whole thing is worth reading, but here is the most essential paragraph:
"Even if you throw out all the tainted evidence, there was still what prosecutors call probable cause to believe that Saddam was harboring frightful weapons, and was bent on acquiring the most frightful weapons of all. The Clinton administration believed so. Two generations of U.N. inspectors believed so. It was not a Bush administration fabrication that Iraq had, and failed to account for, massive quantities of anthrax and VX nerve gas and other biological and chemical weapons. Saddam was under an international obligation to say where the poisons went, but did not."
Interesting report yesterday from one of my well-connected sources in California. It seems Gray Daviss political operatives have been trying to buy off the recall petition signature gatherers--who typically get paid about $1 a signature--by offering them $5 a signature to have them get signatures for Daviss anti-recall petition instead. $5 a signature is unheard of. But it is turning out that even at $5 a signature, the petition gatherers are finding they cant get anyone willing to sign, so they dump the pro-Davis petition and quickly go back to the recall petition at $1 a signature.
The recall effort is reaching a critical mass that is very reminiscent of Proposition 13 in 1978. Which reminds me of a story from that famous incident. I came home from college for the summer a few days before the Prop. 13 vote, and asked my cautious, responsible dad about it. He was at the time on the school board in my home town (back when school boards actually ran school districts), and my old school district was heavily dependent on the property tax. The district was facing major cuts if Prop. 13 passed. My dad said Prop. 13 was a "meat-ax approach" to the problem of high taxes, and would wreak havoc on the school budget and the local towns general government.
Me: "So, are you going to vote for it?"
Dad: "Hell yes."
Another famous story involved a state legislator who went around attacking Prop. 13, and changed his mind after he noticed that when he said Prop. 13 would cripple local government, most people in the audience just smiled. It is similar with Davis; all the arguments against recalling him only serve to fuel the fire to pull the lever against him.
Recall petition signatures are apparently now coming in at a rate of 125,000 a week, which means it will qualify easily in another few weeks. I suspect there is some chance that the Democratic party might pressure Davis to resign, and turn over the office to the Democratic Lt. Governor (a Latino), rather than risk losing the governors office to a Republican.
Paul Weyrich writes on what promises to be the most exciting primary challenge a Republican Senate candidate will face this year.
Conservative Congressman Pat Toomey is challenging Senator Arlen Specter in the GOP Primary in Pennsylvania. Toomey had a 95% rating by the American Conservative Union in 2000, while Specter had a 62% ACU rating in 2000 (and 48% rating in 1999). ACU President David Keene has endorsed Specter.
While I admit this is not a major point USA Today reports on the cost of the Iraq War. The first tallies are now in. Read the whole for some interesting details.
"A short conflict that used fewer missiles, sparked fewer oil field fires and created fewer refugees than anticipated produced a lower-than-expected financial cost for the major combat in Iraq.That means President Bush won’t have to go back to Congress for additional funding this year, a step that could have revived the debate over the war.
A detailed account of expenses won’t be complete for months, but senior administration officials say the cost of deployment and combat will be just less than the $62.6 billion Congress approved in March as emergency funding for Operation Iraqi Freedom. It is the first time officials have offered a tally."
I am not a Peck expert by any stretch, though I would heartily recommend To Kill a Mockingbird and The Guns of Navarone to anyone who has not seen them. But I will add to the obits I’ve read to say this. In many of his roles, Peck played roles that struck me as the character type that modern liberal political theory would praise as "heroic." Peter and Thomas Engeman and others are fond of analyzing traditional American heroic ideals, especially the ideals celebrated in westerns. If I were forced to single out some movies to show twentieth-century liberalism’s rendition of heroism, I might well pick a few Peck movies.
The two that come to mind are his portrayal of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird and of James McKay in The Big Country. Both characters are intelligent and considerate men. Both have a tendency to judge the morality of what they do by their own intentions and standards -- not the consequences of their actions on others, and definitely not what the mob of people think. Both can fight, but both are very self-controlled and value the ability to think over the ability to fight, almost to the point of disdain. Both resort to reasoned argument in explosive political situations when most people would reach for a gun, and manage to use reason to defuse or resolve those situations.
I’m not saying I think this ideal of heroism is nobler, better, and more just than the ideal celebrated in the traditional Westerns. I think it would be really interesting to compare the lessons, e.g., of Liberty Valance and The Big Country, but thats not a debate to start on the day after Peck died. But I do think Peck’s best characters highlight a distinct understanding of heroism, different from the best Westerns, appreciated by a large segment of Americans, and worth serious consideration. And Peck acted those roles excellently. May he rest in peace.
Oh, oh. As if the Democratic candidates for president aren’t having enough troubles (like not being seen or heard, while Hillary is everywhere) this story, out of Tennessee, reports on John Edwards’ campaign kick-off in that state, mentions that there will be a rally to draft Al Gore tomorrow in Nashville. I don’t know what to say.
Samsung is marketing a cell phone for women (only in Asia for now) that includes a calory counter and a mirror. Thought youd like to know.
Not unrelated to my previous post, you might want to read this, on the French in the Congo. The UN approved French mission is having a tough time; they get no respect. In the meantime, note this Wa Po article on what is going on in Baghdad:
"After weeks of looting and unchecked criminal activity, the U.S. effort to improve security in Baghdad has helped bring signs of normality to this city of 5 million people. As the Americans deploy thousands more soldiers and assign many of them to neighborhood patrols, merchants not only are keeping their doors open longer, they also feel confident enough to stack televisions, air conditioners and other high-priced goods on the sidewalk. Cars zip around until the 11 p.m. curfew imposed by the U.S. military. Parents have begun to let their children walk to school in the daytime."
Timothy Garton Ash, who runs the European Studies Centre at St. Antony’s College, Oxford, writes a piece worth reading in the New Statesman. I used to read Ash during the collapse of the communist regimes in Europe and he was OK, not great, but pretty good. I haven’t really seen him write anything interesting since then (maybe he has, I just haven’t seen it). This readable but ultimately threadbare article is a perfect example of an attempt to paint over the deep philosopical and political disagreements between Europe and the U.S. He goes through the various "cultural" connections, the tremendous influence of America in Europe, etc., and then matter-of-factly states that "there is some serious power politics, too. It is dangerous for the world to have only one hyperpower. It is dangerous for America itself to be that only hyperpower." He says that the reason the political relations between the U.S. and Europe are so bad is because the Europeans are weak. Now, this kind of abstract (dare I say French) thinking is utterly unpolitical. That is, it doesn’t consider how that power arrived here, what is being done with it, to what use it is put, and so on. After all, when we speak about America we are not speaking about the Ottoman Empire, German Empire, or the Roman Empire. Never mind the question, What the Hell is a hyperpower? The U.S. did not make the Europeans weak. On the contrary, we gave them new life. And then there is this issue that Ash brings up having to do with the "banality of evil" now becoming the "banality of the good" among Europeans. And this "good" is a rich soil in which closer political relations can grow. Culture driving politics. I don’t think so, but take a look at the piece yourself and let me know if you have any interesting thoughts on it. Forgive me for reminding you of my recent piece, The Ugly European.
Dick Morris takes issue with one fact in Hillarys book via an open letter to her. Short.
In case you had any doubts about Walter Duranty and whether or not his Pulitzer should be revoked, do read this Arnold Beichman piece in The Weekly Standard, and remove doubts.
Steve Hayward has a fine review of Frum and Woodwards book on Bush in the latest Claremont Review of Books.
Apparently it is still possible that Bill Clinton will run for New York City mayor, at least according to the New York Times. In the end I dont think hell do it because he has everything he wants now (fame, money, etc.) without the responsibility. He might think about doing it if his wife decides not to run for president. And thats unlikely.
This Heritage Foundation Backgrounder is full of useful information that should be kept in mind for Secretery of State Colin Powells upcoming trip to the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting in Cambodia.
This is General Shinseki’s retirement speech of yesterday. I don’t know enough about the internal disagreements to have a considered opinion about which side was right (either, for example, about the Crusader artillery system or about the size of the force the should have gone into Iraq--Shinseki wanted the Crusader and wanted a large force in Iraq than Rummy was willing to have), but this is an interesting speech that merits analysis by those who are in the know (and for later use). Note the reference/question regarding civilian control of the military, and the size of the army being insufficient for future use. He is cautioning us. Also note that neither Rumsfeld nor his undersecretraies, or Wolfowitz were present (I know Rummy is in Europe). He doesn’t even mention their names; no thank you, for example. Here is a WaPo article on his
replacement and some more on the friction between Rummy and him.
One of Stalins great apologist, Walter Duranty, writing in the New York Times between 1922-1941, is being investigated by a Pulitzer Board. There are accusations (again) that Duranty knew about Stalins crimes, but didnt report on them, and that the Pulitzer he received in 1932 be revoked. This has never happened. Worth watching.
John Fund gives us the latest on the Recall Gray Davis effort. Fund compares the momentum behind the recall effort to the Proposition 13 tax revolt effort of 25 years ago. Just as 25 years ago, almost all mainstream politicos are against the Recall effort but it is going to happen, according to Fund.
Here’s a good line from Fund’s article, quoting Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Terminator mentioned the recall only indirectly, however. "This is really embarrassing. I just forgot our state governor’s name, but I know that you will help me recall him."
This is both an instructive and amusing article Eighth graders teach FBI agents how to talk on-line when they are looking to trap pedophiles. After all, in this undercover assignment grown men and women have to sound and seem as if they are in their early teens or younger. For example, should he ever capitalize words in instant messages?
Is it okay to say you buy your clothes at 5-7-9?
And what about Justin Timberlake? Is he still hot or is he so two years ago? The agents have to know never to use proper grammar, that you never begin a chat with "hello," and that "pos" stands for "parents over the shoulder."
John OSullivan, in reflecting on the Pew Global Attitudes Project that surveyed opinion in 44 countries, notes a couple of interesting things that the press (and the survey irgnored). Interestingly, he ends up on India--not surveyed in the Pew project--and notes that India is establishing a new strategic relationship with the U.S. This is not exactly news, but it is worth being reminded of.
The BBC reports that the European Central Bank President thinks that eurozone growth will be less than predicted.
Glenn Reynolds explains in brief why the old media monopoly on news is over: "For a long time, huge entry costs other economic and technological factors meant that you pretty much had to be Big Media to be any kind of media at all. Now anyone can enter and compete, and even if they don’t take a lot of market share away from Big Media folks, the threat of this sort of competition is likely to have a potent impact." In part, this has to do with the internet, and bloggers.
And note this example of the deceitful big media that Ann Coulter brings up, and Mickey Kaus comments on. Who is Greg Packer? He is quoted, as a random man on the street interview over 100 times in different stories unrelated to one another by everyone from The New York Times, USA Today, etc. Fascinating, and with Coulters column, the bloggers are going to run with it, and pretty soon even big media will have to report on it.
George Will lays out why the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees is such a powerful force in the Democratic Party, and why it will have a huge effect on who becomes the Democratic nominee for president, as it did in 1992. It is worth noting that in 1955, 33% of the work force was unionized. Today, it is only 13.2%. But, 37.5% of government workers are unionized. Says Will: "Public employee unions are government organized as an interest group. They want more government, and more of government to be susceptible to unionization." Read the whole thing.
Even Howard Fineman of Newsweek doesnt think so. Instead of asking (as Howard Dean did, regarding the WMD in Iraq), "What did he know, and when did he know it?", they should ask are we safer now than we were on 9/11? Now that is a good political question; much good conversation--that would be in the public interest--could be had if that question were asked. Are we winning the war against terrorists? Is our foreign policy in line with that end, etc.?
My mother just called. Sometimes my mother calls me to remind me to wear my sweater (when she hears on the news that it’s cold in Ohio, she is in Southern California), and sometimes she calls just to chastize me for not calling her often enough. You never call, you never think about me, you know that sort of thing. The truth is that most of time she calls me about politics! Which is a little odd, considering that my mother is not, in the ordinary sense, political. But she does get angry when she sees nothing but Clinton on the TV, and when she gets the sense that the President may have done something wrong by saying that Iraq had WMD. After all, as she says in her heavily accented English, "Something must be wrong, he must have done something wrong, he must be in trouble, that’s all they talk about in the news." I explain to her (in Hungarian mostly, but when we talk politics we almost always end up talking in English, which is a little odd, since she is not good at it; but it seems right somehow) that the Clintons are trying to get some more money and some more fame, and that it is mostly at the expense of the Democratic Party, so not to worry. Then I explain to her that not yet finding the WMD (or enough of it to satisfy certain people) is similar to the Baghdad Museum story, everyone going bonkers about the 170,000 items missing, until it’s discovered that there were only 33 items missing. This will also pass, even though the media and the Demos will never quite admit it. Then she asks me if the economy is really as bad as the Demos claim, and then I explain to her that the stock market is up by 20% over the last few months, and then she ask why are these guys so negative. And then I remind her of the manic-depressive who lived next door to us and how he looked at the world. He was happy to get bad news because it confirmed his inclinations and when he got good news he would always argue that it wouldn’t last, just wait for the next news, he would say, it will be bad. It was then my mother understood how the Democrats think they can only prosper when the country doesn’t. She then asked me about the weather. I told her that it is raining again, and she reminded me not to ride my bike in the rain, it’s dangerous. Yes Mom, koszonom.
Karina Rollins elegantly beats up on the medias coverage of the Iraq war in the American Enterprise.
Kathleen Parker has an op-ed on the problem Hillary has with the truth. I like her writing, simple and fresh. And, she tends to be right.
It looks increasingly as if Jerry Springer will run in the Democratic primary for the US Senate (against Voinovich). Here is his new web site runjerryrun. If he runs--there are rumors that he has set up an exploratory committee--it will be very helpful to the crippled Democratic Party in Ohio (I’m kidding).
Rumsfeld has selected a retired Army general, Peter J. Schoomaker, to be the next Army chief of staff. This is an interesting selection because he went outside the current possibles to one who is retired, and it so happens that the fellow is a special forces guy, a "snakeater." Here is a bit more information on him from the AP. It goes without saying that this was cleared by W. I would think such a revolutionary action is not unrelated to Rumsfeld push to transform the military into a lighter, faster, deadlier, and more mobile force. It is also related, I would think, to cutting back troop numbers in places like Germany, and setting up new bases (albeit smaller) in places like Bulgaria, Poland, and Thailand.
Paul Johnson has a thoughtful essay on the empire of liberty in the current New Criterion. Much to dispute here, of course, but it is worth reading, as is anything that Johnson writes. Here is a great review of Johnson’s Napoleon, a different kind of imperialist, by Victor Davis Hanson. And also note this thoughtful review of Fareed Zakaria’s new book by Richard Samuelson.
While the Recall Gray Davis campaign has now gathered one half (600,000 of the 1.2 million) of the signatures they plan to turn in to the Secretary of State, they have suffered a recent setback. The California Business Roundtable has voted unanimously to oppose the recall effort.
For an update on the recall effort look here: http://www.recallgraydavis.com/.
I don’t agree with the Republicans who fear this effort might have an adverse effect on Bush’s Presidential campaign. Also, it’s just fun to see a liberal Democrat bludgeoned with a Progressive era tool, the recall.
The Nation--which for those who are not quite in the know is not exactly just another liberal mag, it is distinctly and proudly left wing or progressive--runs this piece on a talk Bill Moyers (of PBS fame) gave to a group of one thousand liberals in DC. It is a remarkable document that is worth reading in full. Among other things, Moyers goes way over the top, by saying of the Bush administration and its allies in Congress (i.e., Republicans) that they are trying to bankrupt the government and are tearing apart "the social contract": "I think this is a deliberate, intentional destruction of the United States of America." Just giving it a benefit-of-the-doubt reading this means at the minimum that anyone who doesn’t believe in the centralized welfare state as established by FDR and LBJ is actually trying to destroy the United States of America is nuts enough....But James Taranto has some more to say on the subject and he is being more direct than I am. Do read his few paragraphs. I think this is serious yawping and needs to be payed attention to because it doesn’t come from the mouth of some (on the face of it) weirdo, but rather an elegantly dressed man who used to work for LBJ and has made millions off us in public broadcasting, and someone who has always protrayed himself as an ordinary liberal or even a moderate. Well, he is a kook, it turns out, and I wonder how many supporters he has.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports on the cruise missile a fellow in New Zealand built in his backyard, just to prove he can do it. He bought most of the stuff off e-Bay, and is spending under $5,000. He keeps the authorities fully informed, in fact even has a web site called Interestingprojects in which he keeps the reader informed on a weekly basis how the building is going. He says that he likes to think of his project as the military version of "Junkyard Wars." Needless to say, this is interesting.
A newly discovered mass grave indicates thatSaddam was executing people just three days before the war started.
Jonah Goldberg gave his first commencement address, at the Hillsdale Academy in Michigan. Pretty funny. Worth a read. I thought about putting up my first high commencement address that I gave a week or so ago to St. Peters High School (in Mansfield)--my daughter Becky was in the graduating class--but it really was prosaic compared to Jonahs, so I will not put it up. I just told the graduates to go out there and love unto exhaustion, work unto exhaustion, and walk unto exhaustion.
Robert Bartley reveals that the hub-bub surrounding the Neo-Con, Straussian conspiracy in the popular press originated in the anti-Jewish fever swamps of the Lyndon LaRouche 2004 Presidential campaign.
Here are two paragraphs from Bartleys column:
"Just weeks after the LaRouche in 2004 campaign began nationwide circulation of 400,000 copies of the Children of Satan dossier, exposing the role of University of Chicago fascist philosopher Leo Strauss as the godfather of the neo-conservative war party in and around the Bush Administration, two major establishment publications have joined the exposé."
So brags an article under the byline Jeffrey Steinberg on Executive Intelligence Review, a Web site devoted to the perennial presidential campaign of Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. This time around, Mr. LaRouche is running on a platform equating the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon with the 1933 Reichstag fire, set by Nazis so they could blame the Communists and take over the German government.
With sources like these, no wonder the New York Times is doing so well.
It is interesting to note that Bill Clinton tried to save Howell Raines from being fired. The story could have more depth to it, and is even misleading in some ways--implying that Clinton and Raines had profound disagreements--when in fact Raines was basically a mouth-piece for Clintonistas (and Demos) generally. (via Andrewsullivan)
Cinderellabloggerfella has an interview with Bernard-Henry Levy about his recent book Who Killed Daniel Pearl. Worth reading for many reasons, not the least of which is Levys insights into the terror network. (via AndrewSullivan)
As Poland votes overwhelmingly to join the European Union, the United Kingdom announces that it wants to postpone the decision about joining with Europe on a single currency. It is no wonder that they have postponed this, given the remarks of a former Bundesbank Director.
"Germany is suffering its worst economic crisis in decades. We are in bad shape and euro membership has played a major role in limiting our policy-making room for manoeuvre."
"The present euro zone structure is devastating for Germany. Our economy is bleeding. And I am convinced the UK would be crazy to join - you should stay out for as long as I can foresee."
I stopped at a local gas station this morning and noticed that, right next to the "US Marine Corps" cigarette lighters, there was one box of "Iraqi Most Wanted" playing cards (made in Taiwan). I asked the guy how they were selling (I resisted the temptation to buy one) and he said that they sold well and he only had a few left. Then I spot this article in The New York Times (the Business Section) about how the selling of these cards was conducted and marketed on the internet: "Just as the Iraqi war showed off the power and speed of America’s high-tech weapons, the marketing of the Iraqi cards showed the ability of the Internet and e-mail to promote a product with overwhelming force." Good story of how a million decks of cards was sold within one month, without any plans to do so. The dark side of the story has to do with spam, which is how it started.
The LA Times runs this story on how bloggers started and ran with Jason Blair issue (and other NY Times matters); while the Times emphasizes Jim Romenesko (here is his site) as I have already mentioned I think that Sullivan himself had more to do with it than anyone else (but others need to be mentioned as well, e.g., Instapundit).
While I know that there are a lot of other crises in Africa, the one in Mauritania (North of Senegal and South of Morocco) is just different enough from the more ordinary (and no more or less horrible, I admit) to merit mention. It is an attempted coup against President Maya--here is the most current Reuters report on it--but seem to be wrapped up in how Maya, although a devout Muslim, became both an anti-Saddam guy and anti terrorist (post 9/11) and even pro-Israel; in other words, he is pro-Western. The latest chaos seems to be the result of his crackdown on extermist Islamic elements after we went into Iraq. Apparently the crackdown was not popular. Here is the CIA Factbook (written in January, 2003) on Muritania.
This is an interesting review of a book, "A Proof Through the Night: Music and the Great War," which the reviewer claims is a scholarly and dramatic analysis of the "cultural-political roles that music played in Europe and America before, during and after World War I." I havent read the book.
Robert Novak reports that "The movement to replace just re-elected Democrat Gray Davis as governor of California is beginning to look like a runaway train with nobody at the controls."
I do not, surprise, like Gray Davis, but I have always thought that this recall is a bad idea both inprinciple (it’s one thing to try to remove a governor because he is corrupt, etc. and another to remove him through a recall just because you don’t like him; that’s what elections are for) and not in the interest of the GOP (why not let him take complete responsibility for the fiscal chaos, etc.) and then run against his programs and record in 2004 and win. Also, then you might also help Bush get California back for the Republicans. So, if you remove him now and elect a Republican (which I admit is possible) then he will take at least a part of the heat in 2004. Wrong and follish politics.
Cannibalism, according to the Daily Telegraph, is "increasing" in North Korea. Horrible. A few paragraphs:
Aid agencies are alarmed by refugees reports that children have been killed and corpses cut up by people desperate for food. Requests by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to be allowed access to "farmers markets", where human meat is said to be traded, have been turned down by Pyongyang, citing "security reasons".
Anyone caught selling human meat faces execution, but in a report compiled by the North Korean Refugees Assistance Fund (NKRAF), one refugee said: "Pieces of special meat are displayed on straw mats for sale. People know where they came from, but they dont talk about it."
John W. Dean, remember him, of Watergate fame? now surmises that if the President lied about WMD in Iraq it is an impeachable offense. I saw the Democrat Howard Dean trying to get traction in Iowa for his presidential run say that this is one of those critical political turning points that demanded that "what did he know and when did he know it" question be asked. Such points, such modes of political rhetoric, are, of course, either silly or mischevious.
Although I have followed this essentially inside-the-beltway dispute a little bit (a dispute essentially about intelligence gathering, then about whether or not it is worth going into Iraq, and then whether or not that will help with the war on terrorism, and then will Saddams demise help with a better and more lasting peace between Israel and Palestinians, then to a full blown--still an inside the beltway thing, though--political issue that is being used by Demo presidetial candidates, to an amazing media hype) I have now decided that all this is no longer worthy of serious consideration. Apparently, so have the American people. What people forget in doing this kind of "inside" politics is that if the issue they are pushing doesnt resonate with the American people, it just turns into petty politics pursued for petty inside-the-bureaucracy reasons. No citizen is interested in such matters. They were also not interested in the US being blamed for the asserted and unproven mass looting that was supposed to have taken place of the museum in Baghdad (that proved to be all wrong, and CNN is still only is barely able to admit it).
What citizens are interested in is making sure that bad guys dont attack us any more, and that our national interests are doggedly pursued. Now, it goes without saying that we can have disputes about what those national interests are. It is arguably the case (and although open to it at the time, I respectfully disagreed) that we shouldnt have gone into Iraq. But that kind of argument is different; it is not an "inside" argument, it is a "public" argument, a civic argument, unlike the current "where is the smoking-gun WMD" crap.
The "inside" argument cannot have any standing in public--I dont care how hard ABC news and CNN and Howard Dean work on it--when mass graves continue to be found in Iraq, when the whole mid-East is moving in a more sensible and moderate direction, when it looks as though changing the regime in Iraq was both the right thing to do and also in our interest.
Much has been made of Hillary moving to the right (supporting Bush on Iraq, etc) to enhance her viability as a national candidate. The surest sign yet is that her first book signing will be at a Walmart in Fairfax, Virginia, on Wednesday.
Walmart? In Fairfax, Virginia?? (Fairfax is a Republican stronghold in suburban DC.)
When I first heard an ad for this appearance on the Rush Limbaugh show on Friday I was sure it was one of Rushs satire public service announcements. But no: Its true.
Im guessing it will be a low turnout event.
John Keegan writes a thoughtful summing up of the war, and what the coalition victory may mean; it is only a respite in the contest between the West and its Muslim alternative.
Jenny Strauss Clay, the daughter of Leo Strauss and a professor of classics at UVA, has an op-ed on her father. Good.
The New York Times runs this long story (by Judith Miller and William Broad) on the dispute over the mobile labs found in Iraq that the president has claimed was for making deadly germs. The article is carefully written, so it has to be careful read. It is clearly representative of a minority view. File it.
Niall Ferguson reflects on the Bush Doctrine, empire, military power, and the middle east.
Both New York Times and The Washington Post are running articles on the Martin-Batchelder disagreement on whether or not the accusation of misconduct (originally offered in a dissenting opinion by Judge Boggs) has any merit. The reporting on this is not as clear as it should be, in my opinion. Why is it that the focus of the newstories is which judge was appointed by which president (and who is the so called conservative and who the liberal) rather than the issue at stake: Did judicial misconduct occur, or didnt it? It looks pretty bad for Martin, despite the obfuscation.
Pejman has a long on the occupation of Iraq that is worth reading (under June 6, just below the Reagan Normandy speech). It is really about occupation more generally, i.e., Germany and Japan, and has some great links not only to other thoughtful comments, but also to the U.S. militarys history of the occupation of Germany. Interesting stuff.
Craig Crawford has a piece on Hillary, properly entitled, "Wherever They Look, Democrats See Hillary Clinton. I liked this line: "Putting aside President Bushs peace mission abroad, only Martha Stewart got as much publicity as Hillary Clinton this week. Too bad for the two divas that they never have gotten together. Martha could teach Hillary how to bake cookies, and Hillary could teach Martha something about prosecutors."
The Chronicle of Higher Education runs this report by Alan B. Krueger (Princeton) and Jitka Maleckova (Charles University, Prague). And here is alonger version in The New Republic. And here is Robert Barro’s report (from Business Week) on the original study that the authors tried to present to the meeting of the World Bank last year, and were prevented from doing so. (Thanks to Oliver Kamm)
The Plain Dealer reports on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dust-up. The chief judge, Boyce Martin, tried to defend himself by using this line out of Aristotles Rhetoric: "Im royally shafted, to put it mildly. Its like poor Sammy Sosa. I never had a corked bat before and I dont think I had one here." I think this is amusing.
Terence J. Pell spoke yesterday to the City Club of Cleveland on diversity issues. Pell is president of the Center for Individual Rights, which challenged the University of Michigans policies.
Andrew Sullivan, in my opinion, is right about the role of bloggers in the fall of the NY Times tyrant Raines:
"But something else played a part. Only, say, five years ago, the editors of the New York Times had much more power than they have today. If they screwed up, no one would notice much. A small correction would be buried days, sometimes weeks, later. They could spin stories with gentle liberal bias and only a few eyes would roll. Certainly no critical mass of protest could manage to foment reform at the paper. And the kind of deference that always existed toward the Times, and the secretive, Vatican-like mystique of its inner workings kept criticism at bay. But the Internet changed all that. Suddenly, criticism could be voiced in a way that the editors of the Times simply couldn’t ignore. Blogs - originally smartertimes.com, then this blog, kausfiles.com and then Timeswatch.com and dozens and dozens of others - began noting errors and bias on a daily, even hourly basis. The blogosphere in general created a growing chorus of criticism that helped create public awareness of exactly what Raines was up to. Uber-bloggers like Drudge were able to take that to the mainstream media; and reporter-bloggers like Seth Mnookin picked up the baton. This media foodchain forced transparency on one of the most secretive and self-protective of institutions. It pulled the curtain back on the man behind the curtain. We did what journalists are supposed to do - and we did it to journalism itself."
Innocentsabroad has a few good paragraphs (under "France and America--Clarity and Confusion, Thursday, June 5)on what France has been up to and why. It is based on and reacting to an interview with Pierre Manent in le Figaro, also linked. Thoughtful.
Steve Hayward has praised George W. Bush for the Lincolnian desire to expand the borders of liberty on the basis of universal principles, namely those of the Declaration of Independence. These principles are self-evidently true for everyone, and therefore, apparently, everyone must be free, whether they want to be or not.
Is this really Lincolnian? Must universal principle be applied universally? I would have thought, rather, that this was Clintonian, the endless domestic campaign and the endless foreign campaign having one common cause. I would have thought that George W. Bush had more important things to do than revolutionize. On the other hand, perhaps Bush’s Christianity is of the sort that believes that unless the world is made universally free and moral, Chirst will not come again. This would be a difference from Clinton, who appeared to be a Christian of convenience. Remember during the Lewinsky scandal the pictures of him leaving church, a bible in one hand, his wife’s hand in the other, two things he had probably not touched for years? But if Hayward is right, as a practical matter, this does not seem to make a difference. Reign of Reason, all hail!
How Appealing brings to our attention what he calls "a most remarkable development" regarding the Michigan affirmative action case. You can follow his links and also go this Detroit News story on the matter:
"Apparently, A 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge has found evidence of judicial misconduct that could have helped ensure the University of Michigans lower court victory in a lawsuit against its admissions policies.
In a rare acknowledgement that a court did not follow its own rules, acting chief judge Alice M. Batchelder said the way the chief judge assigned the case and other irregular procedures raise an inference that misconduct has occurred, according to a May 28 order from the court."
And there is even more coverage on it from How Appealing that is well worth your time. This is extraordinary and dramatic. Ill try to stay on top of it.
"The ongoing attempts to distort the record regarding the reasons and supporting evidence for the war in Iraq are occurring in the context of a striking gap between the perceptions of Democratic voters and those of swing voters regarding these matters. Richard Bond, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, documents this "disconnect" in todays Washington Times. For example, according to Bond, 58 percent of Democrats say that oil was a motive, but 69 percent of swing voters disagree. More than 60 percent of Democrats say that the war was motivated, in part, by a desire to draw attention away from the "failure" to capture bin Laden and the economy. More than 70 percent of swing voters disagree.
"Since core Democrats, not swing voters, will determine who the Democrats run for president, the huge gap in perceptions on matters of such importance poses a major problem for the party. Media efforts to discredit the war might, theoretically, help narrow the gap. On the other hand, they might also further enrage hard-core Democrats (if that is possible) without affecting the views of swing voters, thereby causing Democratic contenders to dispense rhetoric that will alienate the voters they will need in November 2004. To the extent that the media efforts depend on obvious or readily demonstrable falsehoods and distortion, the latter scenario becomes, perhaps, the more plausible one."
Ann Coulter whose voice was never soft, gentle and low, may have nailed this one!
Good news from Afghanistan. According to the New York Times: "Up to 40 Taliban guerrillas and seven Afghan government soldiers have been killed in the Taliban’s worst defeat since it was driven from power by an American-led coalition in 2001, officials said today." They were killed by Afghan troops, not Americans or other allied troops. That is good news. It is also interesting to note what the Afghan soldiers do with the bodies of the Taliban: "Twenty-one bodies that government officials said belonged to the Taliban were laid out near the Pakistan border so that relatives could collect them."
Mac Owens elegantly considers this: "John Kerry, has decided to confront the president on military service, contrasting his own combat experience in Vietnam with President Bush’s Vietnam-era service as a member of the Texas Air National Guard. If the president is going to wear a flight suit on deck, he said, referring to President Bush’s dramatic tailhook landing on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and his subsequent speech to its embarked sailors and Marines, I have one to match, so to speak." Do you need combat experience to be a good president, asks Owens?
All hail the blogosphere, which has just had its first Woodward-Bernstein moment.
Larry Diamond writes a long essay in the current Policy Review. He says:
This is the most ambitious effort to foster deliberate political change since European colonial rule drew to a close in the early post-World War ii era. Can it succeed? Since Iraq lacks virtually all of the classic favorable conditions, to ask whether it can soon become a democracy is to ask, really, whether any country can become a democracy. Which is to ask as well, can every country become a democracy?
My answer here is a cautiously optimistic one. The current moment is in many respects without historical precedent. Much is made of the unparalleled gap between the military and economic power of the United States and that of any conceivable combination of competitors or adversaries. But no less unique are these additional facts:
• This breathtaking preponderance of power is held by a liberal democracy.
• The next most powerful global actor is a loose union of countries that are also all liberal democracies.
• The majority of states in the world are already democracies of one sort or another.
• There is no model of governance with any broad normative appeal or legitimacy in the world other than democracy.
• There is growing international legal and moral momentum toward the recognition of democracy as a basic human right of all peoples.
• States and international organizations are intruding on sovereignty in ever more numerous and audacious ways in order to promote democracy and freedom.
A different version (and longer, with statistical tables, etc.)may be found here. (in pdf format)
Here are a few more stories on the resignations of Howell Raines and Managing Editor Gerald Boyd. From the Christian Science Monitor. And from the Guardian. And then from Newsday. And this is what Andrew Sullivan has to say about it.
"This really shouldn’t be a sign of a revolution, but it is. In any other business, Howell Raines and Gerald Boyd would have resigned weeks ago. And a few years ago, they would have been able to ride out the storm, using the Times’ enormous media power to protect themselves. But the Internet has changed things. It means that the errors and biases of the new NYT could be exposed not just once but dozens and dozens of times. It means that huge and powerful institutions such as the New York Times cannot get away with anything any more. The deference is over; and the truth will out. And this is what this campaign was all about. It wasn’t personal pique. I started to criticize the drift of the Raines Times months before he decided to purge anyone at the Times who dissented from his politics and his personal agendas. It was about stopping a hugely important media institution from becoming completely captive to the elite left and a mercurial, power-crazy Southern liberal. Of course, that battle isn’t over. But the massive power-grab that Raines attempted was foiled in the end. And Lelyveld is the perfect interim choice. This is good news - for the media, the Times, above all for the blogosphere, which played a critical part in keeping this story alive - and lethal."
Howell Raines is no longer editor of the New York Times. If you ever thought that blogger work is without value, think again, and thank especially Andrew Sullivan. Thank you. More on this later, Im trying to find something in Xenophon.
This is an interesting article from Daily Telegraph. Here is how it starts, but read the whole thing:
A rumour is swiftly spreading in the eastern Iraqi city of Kut that 40 men alleged to have looted a local textile factory are to be executed by US Marines and their heads put on spikes at the city gates.
"Dont tell them it isnt so," Lt Col Erik Grobowski of the Marines told staff of the embryonic TV Kut who asked their new "masters" how they should report the disturbing rumours on the evening news.
"Were here to kick ass and we dont want folks to think they can get away with murder, so let them think the Marines are prepared to top em all if they step out of line," he said.
Here is the philosopher of baseball, George Will, explaining the metaphysical and ethical issues behind Sosas illegal bat.
From Donald Lambro to Howard Fineman it is becoming increasingly obvious that the Democrats are having huge problems. It is bad enough that they can’t overcome their habit of pandering to special interests (Leon Panetta seems to understand this problem), but now what they have to look forward to is nothing but Hillary, Hillary (and next year, Bill, Bill). I confess that it will be fun to see how they get around all this. The Democratic candidates for president can’t get any traction, no one is paying them any attention. The election of 2004 is likely to be a massacre (including Demo losses in the Senate and House). There is an outside chance that the Clintons, in pushing their own tyrannic self-interest and self-assertion--with Hillary campaigning for 2008--will eventually be seen to be the ones responsible for killing the Democratic Party, rather than being its savior, which Bill, by running in the center and being the only Democrat since FDR to be re-elected to the presidency, was thought to be. What interests me about articles like Fineman’s, is that more ordinary (or liberal) reporters and journalists are beginning to see this. Now I’m waiting for one of the Democrats running for president to address it; the person that does, would prosper. Maybe Howard Dean will. Even the New York Times admits that it is not just a book being rolled out, but the Clintons themselves embarking on the latest chapter of their "perpetual campaign" (no, I mean really, a real everlasting-until-death kind of perpetual campaign). Now why would anyone want to study physics?
With all the ridiculous hoo-haw about the nefarious influence of Straussians in Washington, perhaps it is worth pondering where President Bush, Texan, lines up in the intramural debate.
In a little-noticed line in his West Point speech announcing the new doctrine of pre-emption last June, Bush said "Moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time, and in every place."
More recently Bush told the Coast Guard Academy: "[I]f the self-evident truths of oour founding are true for us, they are true for all. . . American seeks to expand not the borders of our country, but the realm of liberty. . ."
This Lincolnian understanding of America’s principles might be written off as a contrivance of one of those (evial Straussian) speechwriters. But then there was this extemproaneous remark Bush made to Bob Woodward last summer:
"There is a value-system that cannot be compromised—God-given values. These aren’t United States-created values. They are values of freedom and the human condition and mothers loving their children. What’s very important as we articulate foreign policy through our diplomacy and military action, is that we never look like we are creating—we are the author of these values."
To be sure, not exactly as Lincoln or Jefferson would have put it, but certainly better than we have come to expect even from many conservative intellectuals, let alone practicing politicians. Bush gets it.
"The Reliable Source" in the WaPo claims that Barbara Bush’s new book (due in October) "is so hot that her publisher’s in-house libel lawyers are asking her to tone it down." Do you want to bet that she is going to be more forthright, more honest, as well as a better read, than Hillary? Not only that, but Barbara, at 77 years of age, wrote every word of "Reflections" (an account of the eight years between her husband’s presidency and her son’s) herself!
Congratulations to this month’s winners of a No Left Turns mug! The winners are as follows:
Hugh Hewitt writes--optimistically--in The Daily Standard about the power of blogs in general, and the likely power they will have in the election cycle. He mentions four important ones, and the power of "synchronized blogging." Jonah Goldberg is not amused because NRO was not mentioned. And also see this interesting colloqium on blogging from Eugene Volokh.
The Hill reports that the new Democratic think tank, for now called The American Majority Institute, will be a think tank “with a muscular communications component to it.”
“There are a number of excellent policy think tanks on the progressive side, but what they’re lacking is a serious marketing and communications component,” said Laura Nichols, Senior V.P. (formerly communications director for Gephardt). Sounds to me that there is more marketing at issue and less substance. It will have $10 million to work with (compared to the Progressive Policy Institute, the DLCs think tank, which works with $3 million).
Roger Kimball has a short review of a book by F.H. Buckley (a law prof, of all things, at George Mason) called "The Morality of Laughter." The book may be worth reading. And this reminds me of something Mark Twain wrote: "There are people who can do all fine and heroic things except one! keep from telling their happiness to the unhappy."
On Sunday evening, I happened to be riding on the same plane from Chicago to Cleveland with Dennis Kucinich, who is running for President. I didnt actually have the opportunity to talk with him, so I can offer no first hand insight, but a recent newspaper article provides this window into Kucinichs beliefs:
At a peace conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia, last year, Kucinich was more specific about his beliefs. He spoke about how the Eagle Nebula, a star-forming region that is 7,000 light years from Earth, reminds him of the relationship between stardust and the human spirit.
"The energy of the stars becomes us. We become the energy of the stars. Stardust and spirit unite and we begin: One with the universe," Kucinich said.
Suddenly, his stance in favor of legalized medical marijuana makes perfect sense.
First, I suppose that Woody Allen saying that he wants to French kiss his wife sounds better than his saying something like, oh, I don’t know, that he wants to French kiss his former long-time lover Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter Soon Yi, who he allegedly began seeing behind Farrow’s back when Soon Yi was only 17. Suddenly Woody Allen seems the perfect pitch man for France.
While touting this media campaign, French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte stated that "[w]hen you insult the French people, simply because they are French, then it’s a kind of racist campaign." O.K., how bout we insult the French instead for trading with tyrants; moral fecklessness; arrogance; diplomatic tirades; clinging to the past to avoid their impotent present; creating an economy where, by all accounts, striking is the norm and working the exception; WWII; and last but not least, believing that French nationality is a "race."
This E.J. Dionne op-ed on the problems within the Democratic Party is not great (it is typical of him to have an insight, yet not a real argument toward it), but it does see something serious in this, his last, paragraph:
"The contest for the 2004 Democratic nomination cannot be understood apart from two factors. One is the intense opposition to Bush at the Democratic grass roots. The other is the widely held sense that the party’s older strategies and internal arguments are inadequate to its current problems. Candidates can’t win if they address only one of these concerns. But addressing both at the same time will require a political magic that Democrats haven’t seen yet."
The intense opposition to a sitting president of the other party is a good thing, in my opinion. They ought to be able to build on that by coming up with arguments and proposals that are contrary (in some way) to the sitting president and the party he represents. The crux of the matter is his second point that the older strategies are inadequate to the current problems. What does "older strategies and internal arguments" really mean? If the older strategies/internal arguments means the same old Democratic Party made up of many factions with nothing holding them together save a kind of negative, i.e., we are opposed to anyone who questions the New Deal/Great Society consensus, plus of course, all the social concerns added unto it since the late ’60s (compare GOP "strategies and internal arguments" of say the 1950’s which were similarly, mutatis mutandis, negative) against the GOP positive, then all they have left is to look for a person who--somehow--in his own person gives them something like that. The closest the Demos have come to this in a while (since FRD) is Kennedy and the second is Clinton. And arguably both really represented a too personal and personalized solution to the problem (rather than, say, a philosophical one that Goldwater represented and whose principles, even in defeat, persisted to run the party). That’s the "political magic" that Dionne is talking about. It has not yet appeared for the Demos, it doesn’t look like any of the current nine has it, and hence the Clinton(s) keep reappearing. The greater philosophical problem at the heart of the Democratic Party keeps itself hidden because everyone is looking for "political magic," i.e., finding a person who can hold the discreet factions together long enough to win elections.
Here is Bill Buckley on the missing WMD question. His point is revealed in the title, "Who Screwed Up?"
I guess the French are being hurt economically (drop in tourism of circa $500 million, for example) because they have hired Woody Allen to say "I don’t want to freedom kiss my wife. I want to French kiss her," in a TV spot. Judging by Chirac’s taut body language (and Bush’s ease) at Sharm el-Sheikh, they know they are hurting. But Woody Allen isn’t going to help them; actions will speak louder than marketing.
It seems to me that this French attitude toward the U.S., as it’s revealed in this ABC story, is a perfect reflection of how they don’t understand Americans. It would seem that while they are quite angry about the french-freedom fries issue, they do not see that that sort of silliness is the way Americans’ deeper resentment manifests itself. The resentment against the French is so deep that the Woody Allen gig will do nothing but make us laugh at them. It will not get any more people to Paris. Only better behavior on the part of the French will do that. The French don’t see this because they think we’re not very smart; just a bunch of cowboy-Americans who would rather drink a Coke than a fine glass of Bourdeaux, rather have a greasy burger than a crepe; such people are easily influenced by the most European of all American humorists by seeing him say something amusing on TV a few times. Wrong.
Here is the full report of Department of Justice (Office of the Inspector General) entitled, "The September 11 Detainees: A Review of the Treatment of Aliens Held on Immigration Charges in Connection with the Investigation of the September 11 Attacks." It is a huge, almost 200 pages, in pdf file.
This BBC Interview with Simon Henderson (author of a bio on Saddam, and expert on Saddams WMD) is pretty interesting. (via Instapundit)
This is a WaPo report on the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting. Very interesting, and makes clear that Bush, in what appears on first reading to be a private meeting--yet some of his words were caught by a TV microphone, not intended for public hearing--was quite forceful.
"The Almighty God has endowed each individual on the face of the earth with, expecting each person to be treated with dignity," Bush told the leaders. "This is a universal call. It’s the call of all religions -- that each person must be free and treated with respect. And it is with that call that I feel passionate about the need to move forward so that the world can be more peaceful, more free and more hopeful."
After Bush said "God bless our work," his listeners applauded.
If this Washington Times story is close to the truth then the Demos are already showing signs that they are having great problems with the so-called Hispanic vote. I happened to see Richard Rodriguez on C-Span give a commencement talk at Kenyon College, and he had a couple of great lines having to do with these made-up so called racial/cultural categories. He said he was in Urugay (or some other South American country), got off the plane, then asked to go talk to some Hispanics. His host said, "Hispanics? There are no Hispanics here."
This David Ignatius column from the WaPo is worth reading; there may be some serious movement in Syria toward more reasonable positions, both regarding terrorism and Israel. I guess being witness to a three-week long war, and having thousands of American troops next door to you (and theyre likely to stay for a while), will start you thinking, even if you are Bashar Assad.
Newsweek has a good article on this 13 year-old American soccer phenomenon, as does The Washington Post. By all accounts this kid is already a great soccer player, and he is likely to be one of the best, ever. It looks like he might be our first international superstar. His personal story is interesting: mother wins an immigration lottery when he is eight, comes here, became a citizen a few weeks ago, and now he will play for the US. Both articles are terrific. It will certainly be worth following this guy.
Bill Gertz reports: "Al Qaedas goal is the use of [chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons] to cause mass casualties," the CIA stated in an internal report produced last month.
USA Today is another of the now uncountable media outlets hyping Hillarys new book. This must be one of the biggest and slickest promo campaigns in the history of publishing/politics. If I were one of the Demos trying to run for president I would not be amused. This year Hillary is hyped (with Bill calling for the repeal, er, clarification of the 22nd Amendment) and then next year Bills book will be out. No one is going to do anything but talk Clinto-Clinton for the next two years, while the poor Demo-dweebs are trying to get traction in their dry-as-dust-boring race for the presidency. Im telling ya, the air is being sucked out of the room. The 2004 presidential race is a throwaway, we are already working on 2008 Demo primary, and thats already over.
Here is K.C. Johnsons recounting of his tenure battle at Brooklyn College, a battle he eventually won.
Study finds teachers pay on an hourly basis tops many professions, including accountants and engineers. Oh, oh.
I brought in my transister radio today because the Indians had a day game with the White Sox of Chicago. (We have now won five, I repeat, five, straight!) And in my happiness I was fooling around and found this amsuing story out of Des Moines. It completes my day. A pet llama, a pregnant one at that, fell into a pool, the owner feared that it would drown, became hysterical, called 911, and, of course, all was well. I know there are stories of such things happening with dogs, cats, etc., and rescue calls being made, but, really, a pet llama!
The BBC reports that two of Saddam’s three daughters will be seeking political assylum in the UK. The two women’s husbands were assasinated by Saddam in 1996 after they defected to Jordan.
Senator Kerry is profiled by the WaPo (the first of many profiles). He is made out to be a complex and nuanced person, an alpha male who borders on being sentimental, etc. Maybe I’m jaded, but I find this sort of writing about presidential candidates prosaic in the extreme. There will be more profiles on the other eight candidates. Will they all prove to be equally complex and nuanced? I can’t wait to find out.
The New York Times Magazine runs this long piece on Howard Dean. I think Dean is much more interesting because he is less complex.
Terrence Moore, the Principal of Ridgeview Classical Schools, in Fort Collins, Colorado, gave this commencement talk to the first graduating class. While I would clarify one paragraph of it, it is excellent.
Thomas Engeman writes a terrific piece in the latest Claremont Review of Books called "In Defense of Cowboy Culture." It is nothing less than a good review of of how heroism is alive and well in American popular culture. The huge popularity of of heroic movies, westerns, action-adventure films, detective and police dramas, etc., is proof that the cowboy (in his many forms) is "the idealization of democratic virtue, especially of its relentless pursuit of justice."
Someone wound up the watch of his wit, and it struck: He put out blogger playing cards (or at least the Hearts). Notice that Sullivan is the Queen of Hearts (and NLT is the Ten of Hearts). (Via Sullivan)
Reuel Marc Gerecht writes a very thoughtful piece on Iran and their nukes, and what our options are. They are not good. Although it’s clear he leans toward pre-emption, this lengthy outline of the problem is a must-read. Worth filing away for later use. I think maybe presidents aren’t paid enough.