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.