Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Iraq, al Qaeda notes

Monsoor Ijaz, according to this Guardian story, claims that the US and Pakistan made a decision to not chase bin Laden too strenuously for fear that there would be an upheaval in Pakistan if he were caught. I have no idea what to make of this story (or whether Guardian reporting should be even trusted), but here it is. And this Newsweek article claims that Afghans in the province of Kunar claim that bin Laden is alive. The article makes for a good read, even though it’s mostly guesswork. On the other hand, there is some heavy fighting in Zabul province (maybe 200 miles South of Kunar), and two Americans were killed. To make everything even more comlicated, note this review of Posner’s new book, Why America Slept, in Time magazine. Posner claims (among other things) that when Abu Zubaydah was interrogated (in part because he thought he was interrogated in Saudi Arabia by Saudis, and in part because of the truth serum he was given) he spilled the beans about the Saudi-Pakistan-al Qaida triangle. Unclarity reigns. I can’t even figure out why either the pro-Saddam people or al-Qaida would bomb the mosque in Najaf (or the UN compound, for that matter). Maybe those that argue that this is a sign of desperation of the bad guys are right; surely, the death of over a hundred Shiites (and wounding about five hundred) is not good PR, as the killing of American soldiers might be, from their point of view. The Iraqis are saying that the 19 suspects arrested so far have al Qaida links. This is still being disputed. The FBI will investigate. The Shiites that are saying (see this NY Times story) that the US is to be held responsible because we didn’t provide sufficient security are the same people who asked us to stay out of the town as much as possible, and especially to stay away from the mosque. The Washington Post says that the bambing was carefully planned, and that the truck was parked there for 24 hours, and the bomb was detonated by remote. The bomb, Iraqi police claim, was the of the same materials, Soviet era munitions, that was used in the bombing of both the UN building and the Jordanian embassy. The WaPo story also claims that we have agreed to start patrolling the area around the Ali shrine, which, until now we had been asked to stay away from.

Some oddities

If you’ve got nothing better to do, read on. General Motors will start producing Hummer H2’s in Russia. They think they can sell 400 per year, at about $85k to $110k each. Because it would seem that many thousands of high school students will not pass the state of New York’s strengthened Regents Exam, many are calling for lowering the standards. A man got two DUI’s in the same night from the same cop. It’s a good thing he lives in North Carolina rather than New York. I bet he wouldn’t have passed the new Regents exam. Hundreds are hurt in India when two villages participate in an ancient ritual of stone throwing. The injuries are fewer than last year. Why do they do this? To commemorate the two lovers--one from each village--who tried to elope, but the villagers stoned them to death. FBI agent fined for killing a lobster in Las Vegas restaurant. He was attending an accounting seminar. A fisherman, posing with a shark he had just caught, gets bitten and is rushed to the hospital. Student plagiarists get caught by teachers pasting questionable phrases into Google. I never would have thought of that. A prison escape in Argentina goes well, five escape through the whole, but the sixth, the fat man, gets stuck; the twenty four waiting behind him had to call the guards for help. A privacy group, aiming to show the ease with which private information may be obtained, got the social security numbers of CIA chief Tenet, and others, off the internet for $26. Das ist alles.

Onion, no joke

CNN runs this story on The Onion and how (barely)profitable it is. It brings in $7 mill a year. If you don’t know what The Onion is, go here to find out.

If you smoke, drink red wine

A new scientific study claims that if you smoke, you should drink red wine. Does this mean one glass of wine for each cigarette? Unclear.

Juan Everyman

The WaPo runs this portrait of Cruz Bustamante, the only Democrat who has a chance of becoming the next governor of California. He is portrayed as unimpressive and hard-working, and, above all, lucky.

Recalling political science

This short essay by Charles Kesler in the latest Claremont Review of Books (you should subscribe!) is entirely appropriate since the American Political Science Association is celebrating its 100th anniversary in Philadelphia this weekend, which, of course, is not unrelated to the decline of constitutionalism, as well as the California recall.  

Hayward on Hillary and Sid

Steve Hayward writes the best review of the books that Hillary and Sid Bluementhal have offered the unwashed and ill-read public (I tried reading both, and couldn’t; I just can’t afford the booze it would take). Hayward explains his method in the first two paragraphs: "Years ago I developed a standardized measurement for the agony involved in reading and reviewing tendentious books. I call it the ’Donaldson Scale,’ after Sam Donaldson of ABC News, whose book I once had to suffer. ’One Donaldson’ means that a full bottle of scotch or its equivalent is necessary to grind out a review.

Hitherto few books have rated more than a Half-Donaldson, though the occasional effort of a French literary critic, or any John Irving novel, comes close to rating a Full-Donaldson. The memoirs of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal have shattered the Donaldson Scale. To paraphrase one of Hillary’s previous offerings, these books take a whole distillery."

Austrian Foreign Minister’s comments to Muslims

Bill Dawson, an American, writes this blog from Vienna. He has a few comments on a speech the Austrian foreign minister gave to a meeting of "Conference of Chairmen of Islamic Centres and Imams in Europe", hosted by Graz, Austria. He is surprised that the speech is pretty good. Obviously related to the post below. (Thanks to The Corner)

An Islamo-Christian syncretism in Europe?

Michael Vlahos writes a thoughtful essay on what may happen to "Roman Europe" (France, Spain, Italy) in the future, say, by 2050, given that the Arab minority in Roman Europe will more than double by that year. Most thinkers seem to think that either Muslims will integrate, or they will end up living in ghettoes. He thinks there is a third possibility: a melange civilization. While this seems wholly new, it is not. He uses the earlier years of the Ottoman Empire to make his point, relying on a new book by Heath Lowry, called The Nature of the Early Ottoman State. Lowry argues that a "religio-social hybrid Islamochristian entity" emerged. For a century and more the Ottoman Empire was a new and unexampled mélange civilization. This mid-size essay is worth a look.

Founders Chic?

The Atlantic Monthly currently perched on a newstand near you features "Founders Chic," an article by H.W. Brand warning against what he considers our current infatuation with the Founders. I confess to having not yet plunked down $4.95 for the privilege of reading the piece (and it’s not available at Atlantic Online); but the online edition does provide an interview with Brand from August 7th that’s worth a look.

I’m no history scholar, but I think some of what Brand offers is misguided. For example, his answer to the question "What do you think should be the mechanism for rewriting the Constitution?" includes:

If we were really in the spirit of the Founders, people would just get together and call an utterly extra-legal convention, because that’s what the convention of 1787 was. . . . For people to say, for example, that we can’t do anything about gun control because the Second Amendment prevents it--well, let’s just rewrite the Second Amendment. If the First Amendment says we can’t control political spending, let’s rewrite the First Amendment.

Earlier, Brand argued that "if we want to be in the spirit of James Madison and Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin and all, we ought to have a constitutional convention about every twenty or thirty years. Times change." To my knowledge, and others like Dr. Craig can correct me, but that’s not Madison’s spirit, that’s his poltergeist.

As if unaware of what such frequent conventions would mean, Brand concludes the interview with an appreciation of the

validity of the argument that says don’t tamper lightly with the Constitution. And in fact the arithmetic of amending the Constitution strongly favors the status quo. I think that if constitutions could be rewritten willy-nilly then there would be an important and critical loss of stability. . . . So I wouldn’t be in favor of allowing a sixty percent majority, for example, to amend the Constitution. Let’s keep it the way it is. Let’s make it hard.

Have a convention every twenty years, rewrite the first two amendments and keep the Constitution largely the same for stability’s sake. Ahh, I see. Oh, wait, no I don’t.

I’d be interested in other impressions of Brand’s points though.

Barbecue sauce dispute, dial 9-l-l

In a McDonald’s near Cleveland a man calls 9-l-l because the restaurant wouldn’t give him free barbecue sauce for his $10 order. He wouldn’t pay because the claimed store policy wasn’t in writing. The police came. Have a good weekend.

Dean leads in Iowa

The KCCI News Channel 8 poll, conducted by Research 2000, finds Dean leading in Iowa. The poll, conducted Aug. 25 through Aug. 27, shows that if the Iowa caucuses were held today, 25 percent of those polled would support Dean. Gephardt is second with 21 percent, Kerry is third with 16 percent and Lieberman is fourth with 12 percent. The other candidates are all in single digits.

This newest poll is a huge leap forward for Dean. In the last KCCI poll conducted June, 2003, Dean was in third place with 11 percent. Gephardt was in first place in June with 27 percent.

Blue State-Red State populations

Daniel Henninger reflects on the latest census reports, and some interesting facts. For example, 2.2 million people left California between 1995 and 2000. "The state’s net migration figure for the period is minus-755,536, and would be worse if Latin American immigrants didn’t still drop in for a look. This is the first time the net migration number for California has ever gone negative." As for New York, he says, "the state took first place in net migration loss: minus-874,248. The bureau says New Yorkers fled to every state in the Union except Nebraska and the District of Columbia." In short, a comparison of the the Democratic blue states and the Republican red states makes for some interesting ruminations.

Lenin in Dallas

Take a look at this statue of Lenin in Dallas. It sits in front of Goffs, a hamburger joint. The base of the statue, which faces West, says "America Won." This is through Rod Dreher at The Corner. And I thank him. Terrific stuff! I hope this makes up to those readers who thought I shouldn’t have been so favorably disposed to Trotsky’s great-granddaughter yesterday!

Students, reading and writing

Professor Clifford Orwin, who teaches at The University Of Toronto, notes the start of the school year, and uses it to reflect on the students’ inability to both read and write. Nothing that he says should shock and surprise those of us who are in the game of teaching and learning. Yet we must push on, take those students who happen to be in front of us--while never denying the vices they are prone to--point out to them what they must do in order to get into the game of thinking, reading and writing, and reveal to them how they must do it. Some of us our lucky. The vast majority of my students are better, a lot better, than the ones he describes. I don’t find it all that hard to show them how to fall in love with a book, how to, as it were, make love to a book.

Bustamante and Davis

This story on Bustamante’s unwilligness to distance himself (never mind denounce) the radical racial group MEChA (Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan) is getting some notice. Bustamante says he still supports the group--considered racist by many--he was once a member of. MEChA’s motto is "for the race, everything. For those outside the race, nothing." Mickey Kause at Slate has a lot of good links you might want to follow, and his opinions are pretty sound on all this. Worth following...Kaus also notes, correctly, in my view, that the only semi-reliable polls on the California election have to do with the recall itself, which promises to be close. He says that people aren’t paying enough attention to the possibility that Davis might not be recalled. Good point. Note this paragraph from RealClearPolitics: "Of course all of the above is irrelevant if over 50% of the voters do not vote to recall Governor Davis. All of the polls except one (the LA Times) have shown 54%-69% majorities willing to vote for the ouster of Gray Davis. Our current RCP average which includes the very pro-Democratic LA Times poll still shows support for recall running 57.3%-38.7%. While the evidence continues to remain strong that Davis will indeed be recalled, we think the Democrats have a better shot at getting that pro-Davis recall number below 50.0% than they do of having Cruz out duel Arnold. So expect the Clintonesque strategy of trying to turn this into a partisan food fight to continue, especially as we get closer to October 7 and the Democrats realize Davis, and not Bustamante, might be their only shot to hold on to power."

Is it worth sending your jobs to India?

Bruce Bartlett writes that companies (especially in the service industries) that think that it is worth outsourcing (especially to India, as an example) their work, may well be wrong according to the latest studies. Why? Productivity in the U.S. continues to rise.

What the Scots can learn from the Slovaks

John Blundell, of the Institute of Economic Affairs, writes that the Scots can learn much from the Slovaks who have turned their economy around by going to a flat tax. 

Trotsky’s great-granddaughter

The world is interesting, isn’t it? A reader brought to my attention this WaPo story of a week or so ago on the Great-grandaughter of Leon Trotsky, Nora Volkow, who also happens to be the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda, Md. Born in Mexico, she is, apparently, an impressive scientist. Good read. 

Political Wrap

Richard Reeves claims that Hillary and her advisors will meet on September 6th talk the whole thing through and make a decision regarding 2004. Retired General Wesley Clark will make a decision within two weeks, but this report says that, according to some friends, he has already decided. Amy Sullivan, a Democrat, has a longish essay explaining how Clark can still win the Democratic primary. The latest Zogby Poll of likely New Hampshire voters reveals that Howard Dean is now leading John Kerry 38% to 17%. Dean is also raising a lot more money than most people thought he would; so much that he is considering not accepting federal matching funds. David Lambro reflects on why Kerry is getting that sinking feeling. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kerry ended up not running; this is not a guy who could re-group after a defeat; there is a lot of self-esteem at stake for him. In the meantime, The Weekly Standard brushes off General Clark as another slick guy from Arkansas. But, in case you have forgotten about him, the word two weeks ago was that John Edwards is also on the edge; if it’s do or die time for him as well, he will die. The Birmingham Post-Herald reports (three clicks down) that support for Bush’s Iraq policy is slipping even in the South. Here is President Bush’s speech to the American Legion Convention in St. Louis.

Iraq is not Vietnam

John Hughes explains why Vietnam and Iraq are not comparable. And he has three suggestions on how to make certain that Iraq doesn’t turn into Vietnam.

I have a dream

Today is the 40th anniversary of MLK’s I Have a Dream speech. I noted with amusement last night that a news report said, in passing, that in one semester in college the lowest grade MLK received was in a Speech Class. He received a "C." It’s always worth mentioning such facts (and that, e.g., Winston wasn’t a fine student in most subjects) to our students. It gives them hope.

Citizens Travelling

This was sent to me by a reader.

"I sat in my seat of the Boeing 767 waiting for everyone to hurry and
stow their carry-ons and grab a seat so we could start what I was sure to
be a long, uneventful flight home. With the huge capacity and slow moving
people taking their time to stuff luggage far too big for the overhead and
never paying much attention to holding up the growing line behind them, I
simply shook my head knowing that this flight was not starting out very

I was anxious to get home to see my loved ones so I was focused on ’my’
issues and just felt like standing up and yelling for some of these clowns
to get their act together. I knew I couldn’t say a word so I just thumbed
the ’Sky Mall’ magazine from the seat pocket in front of me. You know it’s
really getting rough when you resort to the over priced, useless sky
mall crap to break the monotony. With everyone finally seated, we just
sat there with the cabin door open and no one in any hurry to get us going
although we were well past the scheduled take off time. No wonder the
airline industry is in trouble I told myself. Just then, the attendant
came on the intercom to inform us all that we were being delayed. The
entire plane let out a collective groan. She resumed speaking to say ’We
holding the aircraft for some very special people who are on their way
to the plane and the delay shouldn’t be more than 5 minutes.’ The word
came after waiting six times as long as we were promised that ’I’ was
finally going to be on my way home. Why the hoopla over ’these’ folks? I
was expecting some celebrity or sport figure to be the reason for the hold
up...Just get their butts in a seat and lets hit the gas I thought.

The attendant came back on the speaker to announce in a loud and
excited voice that we were being joined by several U. S. Marines returning
home from Iraq!!!"

Just as they walked on board, the entire plane erupted into
applause. The men were a bit taken by surprise by the 340 people
cheering for them as they searched for their seats. They were having their
hands shook and touched by almost everyone who was within an arm’s
of them as they passed down the aisle. One elderly woman kissed the hand
of one of the Marines as he passed by her. The applause, whistles and
cheering didn’t stop for a long time. When we were finally airborne, ’I’
not the only civilian checking his conscience as to the delays in ’me’
getting home, finding my easy chair, a cold beverage and the remote in my

These men had done for all of us and I had been complaining silently
about ’me’ and ’my’ issues. I took for granted the everyday freedoms I
enjoy and the conveniences of the American way of life I took for granted
paid the price for my ability to moan and complain about a few minutes
delay to ’me’ those Heroes going home to their loved ones. I attempted
to get
my selfish outlook back in order and minutes before we landed I suggested
to the attendant that she announce over the speaker a request for everyone
to remain in their seats until our hero’s were allowed to gather their
things and be first off the plane. The cheers and applause continued until
the last Marine stepped off and we all rose to go about our too often
taken for
granted everyday freedoms... I felt proud of them. I felt it an
honor and a privilege to be among the first to welcome them home and
say Thank You for a job well done. I vowed that I will never forget that
flight nor the lesson learned. I can’t say it enough, THANK YOU to
those Veterans and active servicemen and women who may read this and
prayer for those who cannot because they are no longer with us. God Bless America! Welcome Home! And thanks for a job well done.!"

Are Environmental Regulations to Blame for the Shuttle Catastrophe?

The Space Shuttle Columbia accident report is out, and is quite lengthy. Instapundit points out that buried in Chapter 3 of the report is a reference to the fact that the foam (which apparently struck the shuttle and caused burn through on re-entry) was reformulated for environmental reasons. Brian Carnell’s blog reprinted a NASA press release from 1999 which states that the foam was known to flake off the inter-tank section of the external fuel tank on a previous shuttle mission. It also confirmed that the "new lightweight insulation material was developed to comploy with an EPA mandate to reduce ozone-depleting chemicals released into the atmosphere."

If it is true that NASA used what it knew to be an inferior product in order to comply with EPA regulations, then it is scandalous. I’m no expert in this area, and will leave it to folks like Hayward to fill in the gaps, but I am interested to see if anything comes of this.

Seeing Red Again

Just to show that Schramm isn’t the only one who can blog about science, has some pretty amazing pictures of Mars taken by the Hubble space telescope, which you can view here and here and here.

Amazing Dean Surge

This Newsday article reports that Howard Dean has surged to a 21 point lead over John Kerry among likely New Hampshire voters. This is a Zogby poll which is about as reliable as polls get.

Couple that with this ’New York Times’ article and it is an amazing surge. Dean will raise $10.3 million this quarter, more than any Democratic except for Presdident Clinton in 1995. Amazing crowds are showing up everywhere Dean goes, 10,000 in Seattle the other night and Dean is going everywhere. The internet has become a global village for the hard-left. What’s going on here?

It seems spooky to think that Dean could win the nomination when the country seems to be so closely divided.

Italy as a Banana Republic

Sebastian Cresswell writes a devastating criticism of Italy for the Arts page of the London Telegraph. As you must know, I have many pro-Italian biases, yet, this must be considered. 

Schism in the Episcopal Church

Mac Owens and The Rev. Jonathan Ostman write with perfect clarity about the schism in the Episcopal Church of the United States. They explain how the bedrock principles of Anglican doctrine are being replaced with a new gospel, one heavily influenced by secular categories such as "inclusion" and "affirmation." They write: "The elevation of the Rev. V. Eugene Robinson to the episcopate indicates that the schismatics who now hold power in the Episcopal Church have embraced the sin of idolatry." Read the whole thing.    

Georgi Dimitrov

Robert Fulford notes the publication of The Diaries of Georgi Dimitrov (Yale). The first Communist prime minister of Bulgaria, oddly, kept a diary. The diary is not known for its literary qualities, but it has a few interesting items about Stalin. I had a chance to see Dimitrov’s mausoleum when I was in Bulgaria soon after the communist regime fell (Fulford points out that the walls were so thick they had trouble trying to destroy it); someone asked me to go in to see him displayed, and I declined. Seeing Lenin in Moscow was enough. Too many tyrants, no reason to see them all; I felt my presence would honor them some way. I was interested in studying the unnatural deeds they did, and seeing the misery and horror they caused, and helping end them. And I did. The evil that men do lives after them.

Anonymous deaths in France

Although the figures are not precise (yet everyone seems to agree that the number is at least 5,000) there is much talk about the death of 10,000 French citizens during this heat wave. Clifford Orwin reflects on what this could mean. Does it tell us anything about France, the French government, or, more interestingly, the French people and their anonymous lives? He ends with this: "Is this the new France: Liberté, égalité, Chacun pour soi-même?"

California’s McClintock

Bill Whelan reports on California State Senator Tom McClintock in the latest ’Weekly Standard.’ Whelan argues that McClintock is now the key man in the race. He can cost Arnold the Governor’s house. McClintock is the only true conservative in the race and it seems he has a stubborn streak.

The anti-anti-Americans (in France)

Adam Gopnik writes an essay with this title in the New Yorker. He ruminates on the heat, on intermittents du spectacle, on Bernard-Henry Levy, and Andre Glucksmann. Full of many worthy observations, I cite only a few. Example: "Though he [Glucksmann] is staunchly pro-war (and comes as close to being pro-Bush as any Frenchman can, announcing that ’underneath the carapace of the Baptist bigot there is someone who is a nearly Shakespearean figure, a man who has met tragedy and recognized it as such’), he is not really of the right. He is simply pessimistic."

Another: "The real threat to France is not anti-Americanism, which might at least have the dignity of an argument, an idea, and could at least provoke a grownup response, but what the writer Philippe Sollers has called the creeping ’moldiness’ of French life—the will to defiantly turn the country back into an enclosed provincial culture. ’For the first time, French people care about their houses,’ a leading French journalist complains in shock. ’That was always a little England thing—and now you find intelligent Parisians talking all the time about home improvements.’ This narrowing of expectations and horizons is evident already in the French enthusiasm for cartoon versions of French life, as in ’Amélie,’ of a kind the French would once have thought fit only for tourists. It has a name, ’the Venetian alternative’—meaning a readiness to turn one’s back on history and retreat into a perfect simulacrum of the past, not to reject modernity but to pretend it isn’t happening."

Fat men, comment

I like this comment from Peter Lawler on the fat issue, so I bring it to your attention: "Although I have been largely convinced by the wisdom of the late Dr. Atkins, I don’t know why we conservatives need to take a position on the fat lobby or fatness generally. I do know that we shouldn’t be so obsessed with personal longevity that we lose the laidback objectivity about the inevitability and goodness of our mortality that is characteristic of men with chests (in addition to guts) and souls."

Knowing the enemy

I just re-read David Warren’s long review (in Commentary) of Berman’s Terror and Liberalism and Lewis’ The Crisis of Islam in Commentary. Very good. And David Forte explains that enemy is not Islam, but Fascism, whether they call themselves Baathists, Hezbollah, Hamas, they just wear the mask of Islam. Muslims (and Christians, for that matter) must decide whether their religion is a faith or an ideology. Worth a read.  

Gray Davis’ staff

This AP story on Gray Davis’ advisors is pretty useful. The best lines come from Jack Pitney, who said this about the fact that Gary South no longer works for Davis (he is on the Liberman team): "’When I think of Garry South, I think of Luca Brasi from `The Godfather,’’ said Jack Pitney, a political scientist from Claremont McKenna College. ’When Luca Brasi left the scene, the Godfather was in trouble -- he had to rely on Fredo as his bodyguard.’

With South as his ’hitman,’ Pitney said, Davis could rely on someone to take on his critics. Without him, ’Davis has had to do more of that himself, making his candidacy somewhat more negative than it might otherwise be.’"


Neal Ascherson writes a good essay on Nikita Khrushchev in The London Review of Books, by way of reviewing Taubman’s biography. Just one passage: "He was not paranoid, as Stalin was, but somehow drew energy from the idea that everything and everyone in the cosmos treated him as an upstart, a stubby-fingered boor who must not be allowed to succeed. He would show them. He did show them. The chip on his shoulder was the biggest carried by any leader in history, Napoleon and Hitler not excepted. It was heavy enough to crush the world, and in the Cuba crisis of 1962, it very nearly did so."

Peace and numbers

How many boots should we have on the ground in Iraq? James Quinlivan of RAND has a short and clear article entitled, "Burden of Victory: The Pianful Arithmetic of Stability Operations," which claims that it should be about 500,000. Never mind whether or not this is true for the moment, just note how the calculations are made. This is the sort of stuff that many people in government (not excluding Department of Defense) love.

France puts Euro pact in jeopardy

To stay on France for another minute, note this piece out of London which claims that France "is about to break another of the cardinal rules of the euro stability pact - allowing its accumulated national debt to exceed the limit of 60 per cent of GNP imposed on euroland members.

Since France and Germany are already breaching the ceiling on annual deficits (3 per cent of GNP), the euro stability pact risks looking like a fiscal dead letter by the end of this year."

While noting the bias (against tax cuts, French and otherwise) in the article, you can’t help notice the passing mention that the French have not cut spending. The article concludes: "France and Germany, the Continent’s economic heavyweights, are now - in terms of the Euroland budgetary rules - driving the wrong way down the motorway. While most euroland countries made wrenching efforts to reduce debt in line with single currency guidelines in the past decade, France and Germany (the two countries most responsible for creating the euro) have increased their national debt rapidly. Germany’s accumulated debt has also risen well beyond the 60 per cent of GDP ceiling in the last year."

Heat Death in France

I confess that I haven’t followed in detail the death of 10,000 people in France. When I first heard of the problem, it was said that 3,000 had died in the heat wave and I thought it an exagerration. And for the last week or so the press has been talking about 10,000 people having died. I find it almost unimaginable. This USA Today article from a few days ago mentions some possibilities, including one big one: everyone was on vacation! Now, this may all be too serious for anti-French jokes. What could this mean? What is going on? Is it simply not enough air-conditioners? Is it possible that this is the result of a certain understanding of labor and value, of work and vacation, of socialist medicine even? The Le Parisian headline "Everyone is guilty," as reported in the Kansas City Star is not especially helpful. It may be useful to note that in articles about this problem the phrase "France’s widely respected health system" appears over and over, including in today’s Guardian.

Africa’s Jimmy Carter problem

A reader brings this lovely essay to my attention, and I thank him. James Panero (a well educated young man) writes a levelheaded essay on Africa and claims that because he can’t talk about an African problem, he’ll say that Africa has a Jimmy Carter problem. Evelyn Waugh is not irrelevant to the purpose of this thoughtful piece.  

Iraqi WMD Located

There’s a fat chance that Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction have been located. This report from the World Tribune claims that U.S. intelligence reports believe that Iraqi WMD have been relocated to the Bekka Valley in Lebanon. I’m not sure how reliable this report is but it makes sense as Syria controls much of Lebanon.

Fat Men

I actually read the Fumento piece Mickey cites below. Fumento attacks the pro-fat lobby. I haven’t even heard of the pro-fat lobby until now. But I have an opinion on this: I don’t care what science has to say on this matter (and many others), that you will live longer if you are not fat, etc. I prefer men about me who are fat for the same reason I prefer myself. "Let me have men about me that are fat, Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep a-nights." You know the rest. And let me be perfectly clear on one point: This blog will have nothing to do with those who are interested in attacking the fat; let the body-socialists find other places to vent their spleen. I will not have it. It’s an outrage. One more thing, Mickey ought to find better uses for his time than listening to college presidents; they always speak an infinite deal of nothing, especially ones who ought to be fat. Go and listen to a student Mickey, at least some of those show some sparks that are like wit!

Fat Men of the World Unite

Michael Fumento gives the lie to the Pro-Fat Lobby. Fat Men get busy, eat less, work out more.

Sorry, it’s registration time, classes start Wednesday, and a College President has been speechifying.

Comments on the LA Times poll

Mickey Kause at Slate has some useful comments questioning the recent LA Times poll on Bustamante and the recall I referenced below. Two main points he notes: The poll was conducted during the Prop 13 flap (that seems like a long time ago) and before Arnold rolled out his ads and before his press conference. And, the Poll hides (or misleads the reader) regarding the potentially large turnout of voters in favor of Arnold. Look at the whole thing, it’s brief. Also read Daniel Weintraub’s comments on the poll. Veryb thoughtful and much longer. The crux of the matter is this, in my opinion: Davis will lose, Arnold is ahead, and will win it because he will be the only candidate who will move voters to come out and vote; especially younger voters who normally don’t. If the Democrats (including Davis) want to take heart from such polls, fine. Let them misunderstand by thinking that this poll is the father of good news.

Start of a new year

Classes start on Monday. The students arrived on campus on Saturday morning and the Freshmen Ashbrook Scholars and their parents came up for lunch on Saturday, and we had our seminar on Churchill’s My Early Life, which they read over the Summer, on Saturday night. And on Sunday afternoon, Professors Foster and Sikkenga led a seminar on the essays they wrote on the book. We had a picnic, and then an organizational meeting of all the Ashbrook Scholars. There are twenty-seven Freshmen Ashbrooks, the largest Freshman class we have ever had. There are now a total of seventy-four Ashbrook Scholars. The program has doubled in size in the last five years. We have had more excellent applicants to choose from; they are strong in their virtues. I look forward to working with all of them and have reason to think "That honor which shall...make us heirs of all eternity...Our court shall be a little academe, Still and contemplative in living art." (Love’s Labor’s Lost, I,i,6)

The Freshman class will read the following with me this semester: Xenophon, The Education of Cyrus; Aristotle, The Politics (selected sections); Machiavelli, The Prince; John Locke, The Second Treatise of Government(selected sections); Richard Rodriguez, Hunger of Memory; Paul Johnson, Napoleon; and Shakespeare, Henry V. Virtus probata florescit.

Good news for Davis and Demos in California?

Bill Simon has dropped out of the race. According to a poll of likely voters conducted by the Los Angeles Times, Bustamante has 35%, Arnold has 22%, and McClintock has 12%. This poll was taken before Simon dropped out (he got 6%, just below Ueberroth with 7%). To say that polling in this new environment is fluid, as the Times does, is an understatement. As you know, previous polls have not agreed with one another, or this one. They all agree that things are fluid, and voter turnout will be the determining factor. Certainly, Arnold is mathematically helped by the Simon withdrawal. Yet, note that this poll offers some good news for Davis, 50% are in favor of his recall, but 45% are opposed.

Ray Bradbury at 83

Andrew Stuttaford at NRO brought this short Ray Bradbury essay to my attention. Bill Allen and I interviewed Bradbury for a couple of hours back in 1967 (I think it was), he was most engaging then and he still is at age 83 (his birthday was yesterday). May he live long and prosper, and, please, continue to write! Here is a piece of the essay:

"Some five years back, the editors of yet another anthology for school readers put together a volume with some 400 (count ’em) short stories in it. How do you cram 400 short stories by Twain, Irving, Poe, Maupassant and Bierce into one book?

Simplicity itself. Skin, debone, demarrow, scarify, melt, render down and destroy. Every adjective that counted, every verb that moved, every metaphor that weighed more than a mosquito - out! Every simile that would have made a sub-moron’s mouth twitch - gone! Any aside that explained the two-bit philosophy of a first-rate writer - lost!

Every story, slenderized, starved, bluepenciled, leeched and bled white, resembled every other story. Twain read like Poe read like Shakespeare read like Dostoevsky read like - in the finale - Edgar Guest. Every word of more than three syllables had been razored. Every image that demanded so much as one instant’s attention - shot dead.

Do you begin to get the damned and incredible picture?"

And here is a short essay from last year where he wished himself a Happy Birthday.

And, if you’re up to it, you might want to read The Veldt.

City Journal

The City Journal (published by the Manhattan Institute) is full of some very fine articles. I have in the past brought to your attention an article or two from the City Journal, take a look at the whole of the new issue. 

The UN bombing in Iraq

Lowell Phillips writes this about the press’ reaction to the UN HQ bombing in Baghdad:

A cement truck laden with explosives plows into the Baghdad headquarters of the United Nations and, presto-chango, there are "terrorists" in Iraq. That’s right, not "guerrillas," not "resistance fighters," but "terrorists." And the press is appalled at their wickedness. Suddenly journalists and pundits who could scarcely bring themselves to utter the T-word now find themselves compelled to use it. Strange how when a U.S. serviceman is killed while guarding a hospital or when Israeli women and children are obliterated on a city bus, the perpetrators are often referred to as "militants," "extremists," or simply "bombers" and "gunmen." But when U.N. officials are the victims... Pardon me. Considering who does the talking, it isn’t strange at all. (via Instapundit)

Robert Baer, the ex-CIA guy who has written some interesting books, opines that Iraq had better not turn into another Lebanon: "No matter how tough things get, we cannot leave Iraq until it is mended." Here is a short review of Baer’s latest book on Saudi Arabia. 

The High Stakes in 2004

William Kristol argues that the stakes in the 2004 Presdidential Election are the highest since Reagan v. Mondale in 1984 or perhaps even LBJ v. Goldwater in 1964. I expect he is right.

Here’s a sample: "Let’s start with foreign policy. The Bush administration’s response to September 11 was ambitious and unambiguous. It seemed to have bipartisan support for a while. No longer. Bush’s Democratic opponent in 2004 looks likely to oppose fundamentally the Bush Doctrine and its most prominent instantiation so far, the war in Iraq. So we will have a Reagan-Mondale degree of difference on foreign policy, made more consequential by the fact that we are at the genesis of a new foreign policy era. The implications of September 11 for American foreign policy, the basic choices as to America’s role in the world, will be on the table. They will not be resolved in November 2004 once and for all--things never are. But they may well be resolved for a generation.


But even more striking is the divide over social and cultural issues. Bush is no aggressive culture warrior. But he is pretty unambiguously on the pro-life, anti-gay-marriage, worried-about-Brave-New-World, pro-religion-in-the-public-sphere side of the culture divide. The Democratic candidate is likely to pretty unambiguously embody a secular, progressivist, liberationist worldview. The partisan divide between religious and secular voters has been growing, and in 2004 it might well be the widest in modern American history. The losing side won’t surrender, and the winner won’t have an entirely free hand to make policy. But who wins will matter a lot."

Amazing that a country can be so divided on fundamental principle so evenly.

Democratic strategy and Arnold

Allow me to bring to your attention a longish and excellent comment by Colin MacLeod on our "Comments" page on how to best defeat the Democratic strategy in California. Worth a slow read. Our thanks to Mr. MacLeod. 

"The Modern Prince"

Carnes Lord, among other things the translator of Aristotle, has apparently re-written The Prince for the contemporary political man. This Wall Street Journal review claims it is worth reading. I bet it’s true. Lord’s book is our Book of the Week Selection. And, by the way, he will be speaking at the Ashbrook Center in the Spring.

Zogby poll on Bush

According to Zogby Bush’s job performance continues to slip. Bush gets only 52% positive, and 48% negative. And, even more interesting, 48% "say it’s time for someone new in the White House, compared to 45 percent who said the President deserves to be re-elected."

Hanson on the third phase

Victor Davis Hanson thinks that we are now in the "third phase" of the war on terror: "A desperate last-ditch war of attrition in which our enemies feel that bombing, suicide murdering, assassination, and general terrorism against Westerners the world over might still achieve what conventional military operations did not. The idea is to make life so miserable for Iraqis, and so dangerous for foreigners, that the United States will withdraw, thus allowing either a fascist autocracy or terrorist theocracy — in the manner of the Taliban or an Afghan warlord — to emerge from the chaos." Those who think that the latest attacks indicate that our enemies are gaining the upper hand wrong. "We are indeed entering a third phase. But it is not quite what most people think, since it has brought a brutal clarity to the conflict that the terrorists may not have intended. For those who were still unsure of the affinities between the West Bank killers once subsidized by Saddam, Baathist fedeyeen, the Taliban, and al Qaedist terrorists, the similarity in method, the identical blood-curling rhetoric, and the eerie timing of slaughtering during peace negotiations and efforts at civil reconstruction should establish the existence of a common enemy. It has been fighting us all along — a general fascism, now theocratic, now autocratic, that seeks to divert the Middle East from the forces of modernization and liberalization." Read the whole thing.

Send more troops to Iraq?

David Tucker considers the cry for more troops in Iraq. He argues that that is not the answer. He claims that our strategy is flawed. Better intelligence is the heart of the matter, and he explains how that is to be achieved. And here is George Will’s take on the matter.

Comment on the recall and Republicans

A reader, Dave Sheridan of Los Angeles, has a comment on the recall issue. It’s very thoughtful, so I pass along the whole thing, in case you missed it in the NLT Comments section:
"You’ve put your finger on one of the unfortunate truths about Republicans in California. Holding Arnold aside for the moment, Simon, McClintock and even Ueberroth are excellent candidates. Unfortunately: a) That makes four candidates to split the (minority) Republican vote, and b) The party itself is poorly organized to mount a grassroots campaign. The Democrats are organized. The interests backing them can mobilize their core voters, can talk up the recall in their communities, and have the tacit support of all the big media in the state. In the next week or so, the major money interests will decide whether to commit their resources to trying to preserve Davis, or to backing Cruz Bustamante. My money is on the latter, as that is the way the winds are blowing now. The unfortunate other truth about the California electorate, at least the majority not identifying as strong Democrate, is that we are uninformed and apathetic. This is the real reason the state has come to its current sorry state of affairs. That brings me to Arnold. He is not the ideal candidate from a policy standpoint, although it remains to be seen which of his new inner circle he chooses to listen to. Warren Buffett was an unfortunate choice, to be sure, but Arnold has conferred with others who are solidly pro-growth. Ultimately, he has two advantages in our current situation: 1) He is the candidate most likely to increase turnout for the recall, which is vitally important. 2) Whoever is elected must contend with a liberal and (if a Republican is elected) a hostile majority in the state legislature. Arnold at least has the advantage of being able to attract media attention, and not just from those on the Sacramento beat. The real battle for the "soul" of California is the 2004 elections that could begin to weaken the control of the hard left. The key will be, again, to engage the segment of the electorate that has traditionally stayed away from the polls, or who has voted reflexively along party lines. Arnold may be the person who can spearhead the effort to sustain the outrage that has led to the recall."

Chemical Ali captured

Let’s end the day on some good news. Chemical Ali, number 5 on the most wanted list, has been captured. Bene!

Not betting the ranch

I have been in boring faculty meetings all day, between interviewing high school juniors who are applying for the Fall 2004 Ashbrook program. Tough day, hence no blogging. Running now to a talk to the board of directors of an agricultural cooperative. So here is a quick response to Mickey’s blog below. I do, of course, in the end admit uncertainty about this, despite my seemingly strongly held opinions. Can a good conservative like McClintock pull this off? Can Simon? Does answering these questions have anything to do with whether or not there is enough of a real Republican Party in California? Can Arnold (despite of his philosophical imperfections) help re-create a more conservative Republican Party, and maybe even a more conservative California? That the Democrats are suffering seems clear, and that is a good thing. Note that the California Dems are coming out for Bustamante. Can Bustamante end up winning it (because the GOP votes will be divided)? Yes, of course. Yet, the great unknown is whether Arnold will bring in enough new voters to beat Bustamante even as the GOP vote is split. If he does, then Arnold’s positioning of himself against the political class will mean something. That’s what I am betting on. But I’m not betting the ranch.

Maybe, Maybe Not

Schramm may be right that Arnold will win this election. I am not certain of that. I still think Gray Davis has a chance to survive. Jeremy Lott predicts in the ’American Spectator’ that Democrats easily win this election. Davis has all sorts of special interest ploys to win. Even if Davis loses the recall, a very likely outcome is that Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante wins the Governor’s race. Afterall, there are over 1 million more registered Dems in CA than Republicans. Bustamante is the only big name Dem while you have Arnold, Simon, and McClintock carving up the GOP vote.

Is Schramm right to say that Arnold "merits our support"? I’m not sure. He’s wrong on all of the social issues. He’s going to raise taxes. He’s not going to save the GOP in CA. He can’t be President. Why vote for a Governor in California if he can’t be President?

I did watch almost all of Arnold’s press conference last night on C-Span. My initial reaction was this guy isn’t Ronald Reagan. I remember watching Reagan in the ’70s and saying this is the man to lead the country in the current crisis. Perhaps he sounded better on radio than he looked and sounded on TV. His most powerful statements are his expressions of gratitude to American for the opportunity he was provided when he came here from Austria and that he wants California to be that ’optimistic’ place once again. But when he started talking about his six year old, it reminded me of Amy Carter, and when he started talking about flushing toilets,it sounded rehearsed and a way to avoid talking substance. He seemed hesitant and uncertain in the question period to me.

The recall was a device designed to get politics out of politics, to let the people throw the rascals out if the special interests became too dominant. Well, to Hiram Johnson’s horror, this election will be decided by the biggest special interest/faction. There are over 130 candidates on the ballot. This is an ideal (never say only) opportunity for the Conservative wing of the Republican Party to grab the Governor’s office and then for McClintock to show that Conservatives can govern, deserve to govern, and begin the process of taking over the legislature. A small purality will win the election, this opportunity shouldn’t be missed.

Arnold’s press conference

I just heard Arnold’s speech and his answers to questions on my drive back from Akron (I now have XM radio, very cool!). To be brief about it, I thought he was terrific. If you get a chance to watch the whole thing tonight, please do so. He said all the right things (e.g., the problem is government spending not insufficient taxes) and did it in a rhetorically effective way ("you get up in the morning and flush the toilet, you pay a tax, you then have a cup of coffee, you pay a tax, you get into your car you pay a tax," etc., and he kept at it with another six to eight examples; quite effective). He went into other details, including the necessity of having an outside firm look at the books, because no one really knows how bad things are, workman’s comp, etc. He was authoritative and knowledgeable. There is no comparison between him and the other candidates. He is running against the political class, and he will win. He was very effective with the press, and crushed at least one questioner. I am impressed. I’ll try to spend some of tonight watching the talking head on the left panic. Now the fun begins. El Rushbo and National Review are wrong. This man merits our support.

Rush Disses Ahnold

Rush Limbaugh writes in today’s ’Wall St. Journal’ that California needs Conservatism not Arnold Schwarzenegger. Rush doesn’t endorse Simon or McClintock.

Why are wisdom,i.e, statesmanship, and consent, i.e., winning elections, so hard to put together?

Here’s the Arnold We Were Expecting

Via Alan K. Henderson’s Blog.

Latest on UN bombing

This long AP story has some more detail on the UN HQ bombing in Baghdad. The bomb, according to the FBI, was made from old munitions and was not sophisticated. The story includes Khofi Annan’s comments: "We will persevere. We will continue. It is essential work. We will not be intimidated." Also note Chalabi’s comments, I don’t know what to make of them.


Here is Arnold’s first TV ad, in case you missed it. Also note that Richard Bookhiser writes a nice piece on Arnold that comes out as a kind of qualified endorsement, for similar reasons I have been giving.

Gray Davis’ UCLA speech

Here are excerpts from Davis’ speech at UCLA on Tuesday. He surprised everyone by not giving a mea culpa speech, as advertised, but rather (Clinton influence here?) one that talks about a "right-wing power grab." Daniel Weintraub calls it a they-a culpa rather than a mea culpa; he was there. Here is the LA Times report on the speech. And Ken Whitted has a pretty good analysis of the speech which he says is "vintage Davis: slash and burn every opponent in sight, and spare no rhetorical excess." Yet, he thinks it might work. It might re-invigorate his liberal base.
USA Today notes that Davis and Bustamante are now officially in a duel.

The attack on the U.N.

I am the first to admit that I find the reporting on Iraq not only lacking seriousness, but pushy. The media seems always to push us toward admitting that going into Iraq was a mistake. This is true whether they are reporting on a blown-up pipeline, or another American killed. And if they are not insisting on that mistake, then the next line is that we are unprepared to establish (or re-establish, if you like) civil society, and unprepared to defend against the kind of terrorist attacks we have witnessed. The media demands that we arise each morning to re-evaluate both our purposes and our means. They keep pressing us with fundamental questions: see, if we wouldn’t have gone into Iraq none of these bad things would have happened. Perhaps this has also happened in exactly the same way in the past; but, if it did, it did not have the kind of immediacy to it that it has now because of television and instantenious communications. The contemporary world may have made decision making more difficult, and it may make courage and perseverance a lot more difficult. It is certainly the case that when the media (or the opponents of the Iraq war) keep crying wolf, one is less inclined to listen and then perhaps less able to see the wolf when it does arrive.

Given all this, it still must be said that the bombing of the UN headquarters is a significant act; and an act different in kind from what we have seen before. It may be the wolf. This is not simply an anti-American terrorist act. It is an anti-Western act, crushing a major building in the center of Baghdad. And this probably means that it wasn’t simply conducted by remnants of the Saddam regime. It is now almost certainly the case that the reports we have been hearing about foreigners coming into Iraq are true. Perhaps the magnet theory is right: all the bad guys are pouring into Iraq from Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, and they are to do mischief in the same way that such folks have done mischief to Israel.

This was a "soft target." I know that could mean that the "hard targets" have become harder to kill, and therefore could be seen to be a good sign. The bad guys are forced to pick different targets. But there are a lot of soft targets, from Bali to Rijad, and within Iraq. It is not impossible that Iraq will attract jihad fighters the same way that Afghanistan or Kosovo did at one time. If this is the case--as has been implied by US authorities for weeks--than this will mean that a shift in tactics and strategy will have to be necessary. It will certainly mean that more of our troops will move into "defensive" positions, positions that will defend possible soft targets. Is this a good thing? Would this mean that we will be able to go after bad guys with fewer men and less vigor? Tough questions are now going to be raised, as they should. In the meantime, until those questions are raised and some answers offered, it is certainly the case that courage and preseverance are called for, now more than ever. I think the rubber has hit the road. "’Tis true that we are in great danger; The greater therefore should our courage be."

Mischief, thou art afoot

At least 20 UN workers were killed, and over 100 wounded, when a suicide bomber set off a truck bomb outside the UN headquarters in Baghdad. The dead included Sergio Vieira de Mello, a 55-year-old veteran Brazilian diplomat who was the head of the mission. President Bush condemned the attack. A Suicide bomber killed 20 people in Israel, wounding over 100. And the London Financial Times is reporting that "Increasing numbers of Saudi Arabian Islamists are crossing the border into Iraq in preparation for a jihad, or holy war, against US and UK forces, security and Islamist sources have warned.

A senior western counter-terrorism official on Monday said the presence of foreign fighters in Iraq was ’extremely worrying’."

But Former Iraqi Vice President Ramadan has been captured. And on the other side of the world, so to speak, these two WaPo stories on North Korea’s audacity are worth pondering, here is the first and the second. Steven Den Beste has some useful things to say about negotiations with the North Koreans.

Blonde jokes to be oulawed in Bosnia

Blonde jokes are set to be made illegal in Bosnia under new laws that will enable women to sue people who make jokes about their hair colour.

The gender equality law, due to come into effect within the next two months, will make it an offence to tell jokes about women based on their hair colour. This reminds me of one: Why won’t they hire Blondes as pharmacists?

They keep breaking the prescription bottles in the typewriters.

Pete Wilson on the Recall, Arnold, Prop. 187, & VDHanson

Pete Wilson is the last Republican to serve as Governor in California. He is Co-Chair of Arnold Scwarzenegger’s gubernatorial campaign. Here’s an interesting interview with National Review’s Rich Lowry.

California and Progressive stuff

John Fund argues that Arnold has to get the support of conservatives to win, and implies that he can do it, despite the recent flap over Buffett’s property tax statements. And Larry Sabato beats up on the Progressive movement’s anti-constitutionalism. He argues that what California has is a mob-ocracy, and that this is a destructive legacy of the Progressive movement. While I agree with him in principle, I disagree with his insinuation that the economic mess California finds itself in is directly related to the people’s direct involvement in the government: the political class, essentially corrupt and devoted to spending on everything, is responsible. Still, I am delighted that liberals are re-thinking the Progressive legacy now that they find the people more conservative--that is, less trustworthy from their point of view--than they once thought they were. Also see this Washington Post editorial that makes the same points Sabato does, and is even more clear on why they fear the conservative people in Montgomery and Howard counties where there are ballot initiatives that would cap tax rates. The WaPo fears that this would put local government in a straightjacket. See the problem?

University of Colorado, top party school

The University of Colorado is ranked the best party school by the Princeton Review. Bringham Young was the top "cold stone sober" school. There is more. Amusing.

Israel’s Fence Will Reduce Terror

Even John McCain latches onto the truth on occasion. This news article from the Israeli Insider makes the obvious point that the fence which Israel is building will reduce the number of terrorist attacks the citizens of Israel suffer.

Let me also recommended this book ’Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict’ by Mitchell G. Bard. Here is a review of the book from

No Riots This Time

In 2003, New York City was calm following the blackout. Following a blackout in 1977, New York City experienced riots which caused two billion dollars in damage. Why no riots in 2003?

Here are two articles one by Paul Beston and the other by John Podhoretz which give major credit to the leadership and policies of former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani for the relative calm in 2003. 9/11 played a role as well.

Good to see citizens behave well in emergencies.

Thanks to blog-site: Reductio Ad Absurdum.

The Voice of Reason on the Blackout

Unsurprisingly, last week’s blackout has led to new calls for regulation of the electricity industry; see, for example, Robert Kuttner’s cri de coeur in Saturday’s New York Times. For a much-needed corrective, check out The Knowledge Problem, a great blog by Lynne Kiesling. Lynne is Senior Lecturer in Economics at Northwestern University, as well as Director of Economic Policy at the Reason Foundation and an all-around person of quality. When it comes to energy policy in particular, she is the one to consult.

Enola Gay rebuilt

The rebuilt Enola Gay is unvelied in Washington. It will be placed in the Smithsonian’s new annex at Dulles airport.

Mugabe on the way out?

Robert Mugabe, the tyrant of Zimbabwe, "is secretly negotiating immunity from prosecution for crimes committed during his 23-year rule," according to the London Observer.

Kurdish women sold, 1989

Kurdish girls and women sold as sex slaves to Egypt, recently discovered documents reveal.

Brooke Adams for Governor?

The folks at The Corner are saying that Brooke Adams, a twenty-five year old, might be worth supporting for Governor of California.

Economic growth in Afghanistan, Africa

The Economist reports that the economies of Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda grew by 12%, 9.9%, and 6.2% respectivelly. Afghanistan’s economy grew by an amazing 30% in the first year after the Taliban’s ouster.

Hungary captures chess crown

Hungary captured the gold in the World Youth (Under-16) Chess Olympiad held in Turkey with 29.5 points from a highest possible 40. Good, but they still don’t do political philosophy!

American tourism drop in Europe

More on the decline of American tourists in Europe. "In Britain - the most popular destination for American tourists to Europe - figures for the first half of 2003 show an 11 percent decline in US visitors. In Italy, it’s more than 20 percent, while in France, it’s even worse: an estimated 26 percent drop this year."

Dog for sale, joke

A Reader sent me this, and I can’t resist passing it along on a lazy Sunday afternoon:

Dog for Sale In West Virginia....
A guy sees a sign in front of a house: "Talking Dog for Sale."
He rings the bell and the owner tells him the dog is in the backyard.
The guy goes into the backyard and sees a black mutt just sitting
"You talk?" he asks.
"Yep," the mutt replies.
"So, what’s your story?"
The mutt looks up and says, "Well, I discovered this gift pretty young
I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA about my gift, and
no time they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms
with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be
eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable spies eight years
The jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn’t getting any
younger and wanted to settle down. So I signed up for a job at the
to do some undercover security work, mostly wandering near suspicious
characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings there
and was awarded a batch of medals. Had a wife, a mess of puppies, and
now I’m just retired."
The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for
the dog. The owner says, "Ten dollars."
The guy says, "This dog is amazing. Why on earth are you selling him,
so cheap?"
The owner replies, "He’s such a liar. He didn’t do any of that stuff."

Media panic over California

Mark Steyn beats up on the establishment media’s attacks on not only Arnold, but the whole recall process. I was watching one of the morning talk shows and Joel Kline of Newsweek said a couple of stupid things that brings all this into focus. He beat up on the recall (and referendum process) by making the following arguments: One, a hundred years (via Hiram Johnson and the Progressive movement) ago the referendum was a good idea because it tried to stop the sinister relationship between big-business and the politicians by giving ordinary folks the chance to circumvent a process that had become corrupted. Today, this relationship no longer exists, so it is unnecessary. Two, he actually said that back then ordinary citizens were more thoughtful and better educated about public matters, but that is no longer true today. That is, ordinary citizens cannot be trusted.

This view is not only amazing, but quite revealing. This same opinion--in one form or another--is reflected by the rest of the establishment media. Hence, their anger that Arnold is not talking to them, but prefers Jay Lenno, etc. Well, those of us who claim to be constitutionalists and therefore in principle oppose such things as the referendum and recall, we have to make choices, as we did in 1978. Perhaps oddly, while being constitutionalists, we also have a better opinion on the people’s capacity to govern themselves, to have an enlightened view of their self-interest, as well as a reasonable opinion regarding justice. The political class is not responsive to the people’s opinions; indeed, their well considered opinions, whether on taxation or immigration or race-based discrimination is ignored or cast aside by idologically dogmatic courts. And the people get angry. And the chattering classes chatter. And the politicians, at least occasionally, lose sleep at night, for fear of the people’s righteous indignation. Well, it’s an imperfect system. The political elites wanted it, thinking that the people would always be on their side. Wrong. They are now trying to deal with it and--because humor in politics is both good and necessary--I am happy to see them squirm. It’s a pleasure watching all of this--as the chattering classes continue to de-authorize themselves--as long as Bustamante doesn’t become governor! Despite the recent Field poll showing him two points above Arnold, I still do not think he’ll make it.

John Fonte on Mexifornia

John Fonte writes a thoughtful review essay of Victor Davis Hanson’s Mexifornia. Among other things, he summarizes how many conservatives have gone from thinking that the large number of immigrants from the South can be assimilated to now thinking that they will not be. What should be done? And who will do it? He agrees with Hanson’s prescriptions and wonders if anyone will take up the cause. Worth pondering, especially during the California political turmoil, a turmoil from which some good things may just be born. I’m hoping. 

Germans attempt to sell nuclear material to North Korea

Three Germans are accused of selling nuclear material to North Korea.

Idi Amin dies

In case you missed it, Idi Amin died yesterday in Saudi Arabia. It is a knell that summons him to hell.

Arnold vs. Ronald

A few years ago I wrote an article (I think it was for the Ashbrook Center) hoping that Warren Beatty would indeedd run for president, for the simple reason that he would surely flop on the real campaign trail, and thereby make people reflect again on how great Reagan really was at politics.

We may be about to get another lesson in this. Naturally there have been lots of comparisons between Reagan the actor running for governor in 1966, and Arnold today. One of the interesting things Reagan did, though, was to realize that people would think he was just an actor repeating memorized lines. So in his campaign travels around the state he gave short speeches, and then took questions from the audience for as long as an hour. He demonstrated a real ability to think and talk on his feet, as well as a decent familiarity with state issues. It was this that impressed reporters, and made the media take him seriously.

Arnold needs to do something like this to prove he is for real. So far he has been vague and platitudinous, which is a disappointment.

Federalism, or paleocon states rights?

There’s an interesting fight brewing down in Alabama that will press the envelope on our understanding of federalism. What do you do when a federal court orders a state court judge to remove the 10 Commandments from a broader display of the origins of law in western civilization? The federal order is clearly contrary to the original understanding of the Establishment Clause, and a lower federal court clearly has no hierarchical power over a state court (only the Supreme Court has that). But can the state court judge just ignore the order without bringing about a nullification crisis of Calhounian proportions? Alabama Attorney General William Pryor, no opponent of 10 Commandments displays, thinks not. Methinks we haven’t heard the last of this showdown.

Dignified leisure

Terrence Moore has some advice for parents.

Immaculately conceived foreign policy

Adam Garfinkle has a thoughtful (and long) essay in Policy Review on what he calls "foreign policy immaculately conceived." He means this: "The immaculate conception theory of U.S. foreign policy operates from three central premises. The first is that foreign policy decisions always involve one and only one major interest or principle at a time. The second is that it is always possible to know the direct and peripheral impact of crisis-driven decisions several months or years into the future. The third is that U.S. foreign policy decisions are always taken with all principals in agreement and are implemented down the line as those principals intend — in short, they are logically coherent." The examples he works thorugh, from the U.S.’s support of the mujahedeen through the Pakistani regime during the 1980’s, to our support of the Shah of Iran (and other "friendly tyrants" problems), to the ending of the Gulf War in 1991, all illustrate the complications involved in making decisions. Another: "When President George W. Bush strove, from September 12, 2001 onward, to make the moral and strategic stakes of the war on terrorism clear, he was immediately enshrouded by an inescapable fog of irrepressible fact: namely, that our two most critical tactical allies in the war on terrorism, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, were the two governments whose policies had led most directly to 9-11. If that was not enough ambiguity with which to start the war on terrorism, the various sideswipes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon provided more." Garfinkle is a speech writer to Secretary of State Powell.

Davis support continues to dive

San Francisco Chronicle reports on the latest Field Poll in California. This is worth paying attention to: "The survey indicates that 58 percent of likely voters favor ousting Davis in the landmark Oct. 7 recall vote, up from 51 percent a month ago. Even among Democrats, 27 percent say they’ll vote to recall Davis and nearly a quarter of his fellow party members say the governor should resign.

Seventy percent of California voters disapprove of the job Davis is doing as governor, the lowest level a politician has recorded in the 56-year history of the Field Poll, said Mark DiCamillo, the poll’s director. It matches President Richard Nixon’s approval rating in August 1974, days before he resigned." All the numbers are trending down and down from numbers that were already very low. This means that all categories of Democrats, moderates, Latinos, etc. are defecting from Davis. Davis still insists he will not

Ramirez cartoon

A great Michael Ramirez cartoon from The Los Angeles Times on the moral decline in America. (via The Remedy.)

Buffetting Winds


The Buffett business is bad, but it may be slightly more complicated than you might think. Here is what I blogged on "The Corner":

So Warren Buffett thinks it is wrong that he pays $16,000 a year in property taxes on his $500,000 Omaha house, but only about $5000 a year on his $2 million California home. The obvious point here is that he is massively overtaxed in Nebraska.

More to the point, if he bought his California home today, he would pay $20,000 in property taxes, and because housing turnover is so rapid in California (property tax assessments are set on sales price in CA), not that many people are in Buffett’s position of having an old assessment (though I am one of them, with a home that has been in the family for over 40 years--under Prop. 13, you inherit your parent’s property tax basis when property passes between generations).

The favorite liberal solution for this is a "split roll" property tax, i.e., commercial and business property would be taxed at a higher rate than residential property. There is some element of fairness to this, because there is less turnover in commercial property than residential property. However, just as the corporate tax burden is borne by consumers and not corporations, commercial tennants (especially those with net leases) will bear the cost of any property tax increase--that is, businesses will pay the tax. Just what California business needs--more taxes.

One little wrinkle in this is that even Tom McClintock has said he might be open to a split roll tax. But he said this more for political than economic purposes; the business communiti in California, especially big business, has been notably feeble in recent election cycles, if not outright supporting Davis and the liberals. A number of conservatives have started to say, as I’ve heard Kate O’Bierne and others say through the years, "big business is not out friend," and why should we keep defending their interests if they won’t?

So as bad as Buffett is, this may be a trial balloon that could play out in a number of interesting ways. (P.S.--A liberal-sponsored split roll property tax initiative failed on the ballot several years ago.)

Now back to the beach.

Buffett on taxes being too low

Warren Buffett is hinting that property taxes in California are too low! Never mind Proposition 13 in 1978 and what all that meant, but if this is the beginning of Arnold’s clarification of "policy" positions, then I will have been quickly proven to be wrong in saying that Arnold will get elected. Somebody better tell Arnold that the core of his so-called policy positions has to be to attack the political class in Sacramento and not the people’s pocketbooks: What that means in it’s essence is that he has to argue that the size of state government has to be cut back in a big way; the various bennies Davis has given to state employees has to be repealed; and taxes (especially on business) have to be lovered so that folks don’t leave the state. If he re-fights Prop 13--and thereby throws the burden of state mismangement unto the middle class--he loses. Bad omen.

The income-tax checkoff to fund presidential campaigns

This is a great George Will Newsweek essay. He considers the public financing of presidential campaigns by pointing out that the political class adopted for itself an entitlement, and they are not about to give it up. This despite the fact that only 11% of the public allows the $3 to be taken from their taxes through the sneaky income tax checkoff (which has gone from $1 to $3 to increase the amount of money since so few people were allowing it). So now some Republicans want to raise it to $10. Outrageous. Read it all.  

Daniel Pipes’ recess appointment

Charles Krauthammer gives a good account of Daniel Pipes’ scholarship and why he deserves to be on the U.S. Institute of Peace (where he would join Kagan, Keegan, Berns, Mansfield, Ajami) and how Senators Dodd, Harkin, Jeffords and Kennedy have gone over the deep end over this and call Piepes "controversial," therefore, they will fight the nomination. Bush is thinking of making a recess appointment. Krauthammer thinks Bush should fight this in public; a great opportunity to take on this "quartet of craven Senators." He may be right. Either way, Pipes should be placed on it.

Arafat and the 1973 Khartoum assassinations

Scott W. Johnson writes an op-ed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that is of more than historical interest: Why does the State Department continue to deny Yasser Arafat’s responsibility for the 1973 assassination of two U.S. State Department officers in Khartoum, Sudan? Johnson writes about it again (he wrote on it a year ago) because he just now--a year after his request--got the documents he rquested through the Freedom of Inforation Act, and those documents prove he was right. Interesting. 

Language Geeks Take Note

I live with one for whom language is so fascinating that the recent release of the 15th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style and the 11th edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary have become major household events. The latter has been (harshly) reviewed in the Weekly Standard by the editor of the on-line Vocabula Review. The whole piece is worth reading, but especially nice is this contrast between language liberals and language conservatives:

As most people know by now, dictionary makers today merely record how the language is used, not how the language ought to be used. That is, lexicographers are descriptivists, language liberals. People using "disinterested" when they mean "uninterested" does not displease a descriptivist.

A prescriptivist, by contrast, is a language conservative, a person interested in maintaining standards and correctness in language use. To prescriptivists, "disinterested" in the sense of "uninterested" is the result of uneducated people not knowing the distinction between the two words. And if there are enough uneducated people saying "disinterested" (and I’m afraid there are) when they mean "uninterested" or "indifferent," lexicographers enter the definition into their dictionaries. Indeed, the distinction between these words has all but vanished owing largely to irresponsible writers and boneless lexicographers.

Saudi diplomat expelled from UK

The Guardian reports: "Britain has expelled a Saudi diplomat, described as an intelligence officer, after allegations that he bribed a Metropolitan police officer.
Ali al-Shamarani is alleged to have paid PC Ghazi Ahmed Kassim, 52, to obtain confidential information from police computers about people with Middle Eastern connections living in the UK." Maybe this is just an isolated incident, a small time operation. Maybe.

More on the arms dealer missile plot

This Newswek "web exclusive" is very much worth reading. If it is true, it’s too darn bad. And we may have the BBC to thank for blowing a potentially significant operation. The story claims that a premature leak made the story public, and this may have prevented us from breaking into al-Qaeda’s arms-buying network. It is possible that the FBI was trying to "flip" Lakhani, and then use him as an undercover informant who could have then led our guys to real-life Osama bin Laden operatives seeking sophisticated weapons. After the BBC report the FBI had to abort the plans.  

The Godfather Speaks

Irving Kristol , the Godfather of Neoconservatism, raises and answers the question ’What is Neoconservatism?’


Part of Ashland was in a blackout last night for about four hours (my part, of course). It was a little spooky, but everything was OK as far as I could tell. Becky and Johnny continued playing Scrabble by candelight, while Vicki read. I had dinner at the university with a couple hundred people last night (one of those celebrating the 125th anniversary of AU). I bumped into the mayor and asked him why he is out partying during a blackout, he should be at his desk trying to do something. He said, "The part of Ashland I live in has lights." I should run against this guy! I did notice that there were more motorcycles (a lot more) on the roads during the blackout than would be normal for such a hot evening. Because I now have XM radio in my car, I listened to CNN and FOX quite a bit. I was pleased by the reaction of people, all moderate and full og pretty good humor. I couldn’t help noticing three other things, though: First, California Governor (still) Gray Davis was pontificating about what all this means on CNN at great length, I’m gusessing over thirty minutes. That was unfortunate. Clever. Two, former Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson also got a lot of face time (got in a couple of nice digs on Bush). Three, I did not see or hear anywhere, at any time, the current Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham. Now it’s possible that (unlike Ashland’s mayor) he was hard at work on the matter, but, still, he could have made a few appearances. Bad move. Here is the New York Times coverage.

Top al Qaeda captured

Here’s more detail from ABC News on the capture of Riduan Isamuddin — also known as Hambali, a top al Qaeda operative. "The CIA called the arrest the ’most significant capture since that of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed,’ who was nabbed in March and is believed to have been the military commander al Qaeda’s global terror network and to have masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. In the past, the CIA has called the Indonesia-born Hambali the ’Osama bin Laden of Southeast Asia.’"

Can Bustamante win?

I got this note from a reader. His point is perfectly reasonable. I quote it in full:

"In a two-way race Schwarzenegger could beat Bustamante with ease. But with Simon and McClintock in the race (and maybe Ueberoth), if they campaign seriously, then Schwarzenegger has to beat Bustamante by the additional margin of what Simon and McClintock get in the vote. The race is basically Bustamante as the lone establishment Democrat against half a dozen (or at least three) republicans in a state that is heavily Democrat.

That’s 1 candidate from the majority against 3-6 candidates from the minority. Schwarzenegger cannot overcome that. The numbers just aren’t there. Bustamante should be considered the heavy favorite to win."

Clearly, everything I have put out on NLT implies at least that I think AS could win. Indeed, I think he will win. The short of it is this: If this were a regular run-of-the-mill elections, the reader would be right. We would have make such careful mathematical calculations. My assumption is entirely different, and there is the rub. I assume that this is not a normal election. Gray Davis is being recalled. That is a massive fact. He will lose the recall vote; it will not even be close. Then what? People will look for the anti-Davis in the bunch. For good or ill this will not mean that they will look to his last Republican opponent, or to the Republican who is most conservative. They will look for the exact opposite of Davis. Davis has come to represent the lying, cheating, boring, political class. They will look to the person who--for whatever reason or lack of reason--they think they can trust, someone that is identifiably, visibly so to speak, the opposite of Davis. And the only one running--who is also already known to all--who fits that description is Arnold. That Arnold may turn out to be a charlatan, or one who may not be able to re-establish the trust necessary in government, is another matter. I submit that that will only be known after the election, about six to twelve months after. For the election they are inclined to give him the benefit of every doubt. Now it is still possible that Arnold will get buried in detail (as the liberal press wants him to be) by talking policy, or make some other foolish mistakes. It is also possible that Bustamante will turn out to be as Machiavellian a politician as Davis (I doubt this) and by pulling in every chit and every IOU from every group that he ever benefitted or promises to benefit (as well as dividing the votes of oipponents) he thereby ends up winning. But I don’t think he is smart enough, energetic enough, (besides he doesn’t have enough chits) to pull it off. Of course, if my assumption is wrong, I crash.

Mark Steyn

Here is Mark Steyn’s site. Even though I try to bring almost everything he writes to your attention, I invariably miss some. So you should check it regularly. He is smart and all that, but above all he is a writer who always winds up the watch of his wit, and it always strikes. Can anyone find me a left-leaning writer of such wit? I am told that he will have a piece on Arianna Huffington in tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal. I’d love to see her expression when she reads it. Oh, before I forget, here is his take on what the Arnold candidacy should mean to the liberal media, i.e., that Arnold is not part of the trivial, self-promoting, self-obsessive political club. He wrote this a few days after Arnold announced, I think.

Characterization of bloggers

A reader of Weintraub’s blog said this charming thing about bloggers: "I’ve decided that you bloggers are like the 17th century French court: an obsessive social circle constantly calculating alliances (with other bloggers); gossipy and sometimes outrageously catty about people in power; carefully measuring the political climate, whispering rumors of beheadings; members of the highest reaches of the establishment but outsiders in an insider’s world.

And I love every minute of it."

California candidates

Here is the official list of candidates running for governor of California. According Daniel Weintraub the list includes:

50 Democrats

42 Republicans

32 Independents

4 Greens

3 Libertarians

2 Natural Laws

1 Peace and Freedom

1 American Independent

MANPADS worries

Should we be worried about "man portable air defense systems" (MANPADS) shooting down civilian planes, like the one this arms dealer was trying to purchase? Yes, writes Ralp Kinney Bennett, and we should be worried about other, even more low-tech weapons. 

CIA arrests al Qaeda terrorist

ABC News reports: "A top al Qaeda member and a leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, Riduan Isamuddin, (aka Hambali), 36, was arrested as part of a CIA undercover operation in the last 24 hours. He is currently being returned to Indonesia to face terrorism charges there."


Rebels lift siege of Monfrovia, as Marines arrive to shouts of "Thank you. Thank you, America!"

Gay unions poll

The Washington Post reports on their poll which shows that 60% of people oppose the Episcopalian decision in favor of same-sex unions. This opposition is broad and deep, and growing. The public’s acceptance of same-sex unions has fallen by 12 points since May.

Man with two families

It was only discovered two weeks after his wife of 51 years died and the man re-married: he had two families, living but twenty miles from one another, and the two women knew one another. He has children from each, all well cared for. Amazing.

A California note

That Warren Buffett, a Democrat who is much respected and admired, has signed on to the Schwarzenegger campaign is another indication that Arnold is both serious and clever. I continue to think that his political acumen is being underestimated, and this is entirely to his advantege. Please note that the media is entirely devoted to trying to make him look as if he has no "policy options" to offer. The media, in leaning left, always thinks that politics is "policy." This is only true if you accept that New Deal-Great Society understanding of politics, as they do. Unfortunately, most of the time politics is about policy, but not when politics really matters. Not when there are fundamental issues of trust or character at stake. And this is what is happening in California. Although Arnold will, no doubt, have some things to say on policy matters, the enthusiasm for him, and his probable victory, will have to do with the fact that he is an outsider who might be trusted. And that’s all there is to it. This is a not-so-small revolution in California politics that is likely to have a longer range effect than merely the overthrow of a governor who has lost all authority. I do not believe that Clinton’s attempt to advise Davis on how to win the recall vote will prove to be of any value to a governor who is already not trusted; despite what the press says, Clinton is neither respected or admired. Davis has made the exact opposite of the choices Arnold has made. Besides, I believe that Clinton’s involvement in the Davis effort is more about Hillary and Bill (that is, her presidential prospects in either 2008 or 2004) than it is about Davis. This is all worth watching. But also note that the venerable John Fund argues that Bustamante should be not counted out; he thinks it is possible for him to win the election. I disagree.

Names of military operations

Inteldump has some interesting comments on the naming of military operations, includiong the one just finished by the 4th Infantry Division; it was called Operation Ivy Lighting. "The Roman numeral ’IV’ was used for the division a long time ago, and the division picked up the moniker ’the Ivy division’ during WWI. Today, 4ID soldiers wear a patch with 4 ivy leaves pointing north/south/east/west on their shoulder.

Today’s 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) also calls itself the ’Ironhorse’ division, in a not-too-subtle reference to the armored vehicles it rides on into battle. The division plans team names every operations plan using a convention that incorporates either Ivy or Ironhorse into the name -- e.g. Operation Ironhorse Venture or Operation Ivy Lightning. Unfortunately, this means that every 4ID operation that ends in ’L’ will result in the acronym ’OIL’." On a larger side note, we ended up calling the Iraq war "Operation Iraqi Freedom" rather than "Operation Iraqi Liberation" because the acronym of the latter would have been "OIL." This is an interesting (and long) aricle on the naming of military operations from Parameters a few years back; interesting and sometimes very amusing.

Clinton is helping Davis

This a New York Times article on Clinton’s very direct (and not so private) involvement in the Davis recall race. He is helping Davis. The article asserts that Clinton will go to California to help Davis, even more publicly. Note this paragraph: "Mr. Clinton loves all things political and anything to do with California, a state where he considered settling after leaving the White House. And he has hardly been shy about serving as the Democratic Party’s political consultant in chief. But Mr. Clinton was said to be particularly drawn to the California recall because of what he described to associates as disturbing parallels between the post-election effort to remove Mr. Davis and the impeachment that almost led to his own ouster." I guess I don’t believe that Clinton will end up publicly helping him if it continues to look like Davis has no chance of beating the recall. There is too much at stake for Clinton. On the other hand, it could be argued that because now (according to all the polls) it looks like Davis doesn’t have a chance, then Bill should help him and--if Davis should end up pulling it out--Clinton could get all the credit, and that credit would go a long way. Interesting stuff, if anyone can shed light on this, I would appreciate it. Thanks.

Kerry On, Dude

Great story in the Washington Post this morning about how John Kerry ordered Swiss cheese on his Philly cheese steak in Phialdelphia yesterday, and then was photographed biting into it "daintily."

More evidence that the Michael Dukakis syndrome is something in the water up there in Taxachusetts.

Foiling the SAM plot

Here is today’s The New York Times artcile on the arms dealer arrested in Newark on charges that he tried to sell a Russian-made surface-to-air missille to an unedrcover agent posing as an al-Quade operative. And this is the latest on it from ABC News, it details the indictment. The immediate thing to note from all this (although we will learn more, even in the next few days) is the extraordinary cooperation between U.S., Russian, and British intelligence services (including the newly created Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is part of the Homeland Security Department. Also note that the Secret Service was also somehow involved. Does this mean that the President or Air Force I was a possible target? Here is a short note on the SA 18.

The Teeth of the Tiger

I picked up Tom Clancy’s new novel last night, The Teeth of the Tiger. Something came up, so I was just able to read the first few pages, but I mean to get to it right away. This interview of Clancy in Newsweek is worth reading. Thoughtful guy. I like this paragraph: "Mainly what I do is try to portray reality, to show things the way they really are. And with all due modesty I think I’m pretty good at that. The way the world really works is that the world is not digital, it’s analog. Which means the world is an untidy place. And I portray it as an untidy place." Clancy uses this George Orwell line in the frontispiece of the book: "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

Davis and the unions

Rich Lowry explains the deep and corrupt connections between Davis and the unions. It should shock you.  

California politics

NBC conducted a poll on Sunday night that confirms two important things: 72% said that California was headed down the wrong track, and 59% said they would vote to recall Davis. Arnold came in at 31%, and Bustamente trailed badly at 18%. First, it seems to me perfectly clear that Davis is finished and, even though he may not accept it, certainly other Demos (including Bustamente) will. Therefore, it is likely that Davis will be pushed to resign, therefore not only making Bustamante governor (which isn’t worth very much), but clearing the way for him to fight a clearer campaign on his own behalf (rather than arguing that people should come to polls to both vote against the recall, and to vote for him in case the recall fails). I see no reason why this shouldn’t happen. Second, both the Demos and the press will press Arnold to start making a catalogue of policy issues, hoping that with each particlat stance he will alienate part of his constituency. They have already started this process. But they don’t understand that people will vote for Arnold because he is an outsider (with 100% name recognition) and in general a good guy. You can already see part of this forming regarding his support of Proposition 187 in 1994 His opponents are calling it "anti-immigration."
See this Sacramento Bee on the start of this attack. It won’t work. It will remind conservatives that Arnold is not simply a liberal. But see John Fund’s thoughtful commentary wherein he cautions that Arnold has some serious obstacles to overcome.

Bush’ aggressive campaign

USA Today reports something that really isn’t news: Bush is establishing a campaign mode that is the most aggressive since Reagan’s in 1984; he is trying to set himself up so that by the time the Demos nominate someone, they will not be able to catch up. I would add that it will differ from Reagan’s ’84 campaign by not ignoring Republican candidates across the board. It will not be simply a personal campaign for re-election, in other words, but a campaign for realignment.

Wesley Clark to announce

The Boston Globe says that Wesley Clark, the former NATO commander, has told his people to crank it up, and he will announce on Labor Day. If Clark gets in, I predict that he will be immdiately catapulted to the top where he will vie with Dean for the nomination. His military credentials combined with not being a part of the political establishment will come to dominate his candidacy, entirely to the disadvantage of the other candidates, save Dean who has the anti-war crowd (and the left) locked up in part because he is also seen as an outsider. The other dry-as-dust Demo candidates will be seen even more clearly for what they are: predictable, monotonous, and utterly uninteresting. Now things might get interesting.

The selfish universe?

O.K. this is even harder than rocket science, but I find this stuff irresistible. Kenneth Silber writes a short piece for Tech Central Station on "Selfish Baby Universes."

Has an Oregon lawyer discovered the secret of the universe?

This question arises in connection with a new book titled Biocosm, by James N. Gardner. Gardner presents an imaginative, even bizarre, speculation about life’s role in the cosmos. Gardner’s hypothesis is called the "Selfish Biocosm." It states that intelligent life plays a key role in a cosmological cycle whereby the universe, over enormous timescales, creates new copies of itself. The laws of physics, in this view, strongly favor the emergence of life and intelligence -- and indeed are designed to do so. However, this design is not of supernatural origin. Biocosm (Inner Ocean Publishing) carries the subtitle "The New Scientific Theory of Evolution: Intelligent Life is the Architect of the Universe."

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals

The wrangle within the Sixth Circuit made the New York Times this morning. The article isn’t complete, by any means, but it will bring attention to the mischief going on there.

The Beltway Phenomenon

I missed this article yesterday, but OpinionJournal posted a terrific column by Peter Beinart about the Democratic presidential nomination. Beinart has a simple explanation why Dean is ahead of the rest of the pack: he knows how to present himself as an executive because he’s been a governor, and he’s not tied down to all sorts of interest-group compromises because he’s been outside the Beltway for his political career.

This is a very important phenomenon. Ever since the 1970s -- read, ever since the federal government grew massively during the Great Society and the Nixon Administration -- no member of Congress has ever won the Presidency. Walter Mondale and Bob Dole probably got the closest simply by winning the presidential nomination. John Marini likes to cite this fact as proof that the national administrative state is out of whack. To be sure, voters vote reflexively to protect the administrative state when conservatives try to cut it, as the Gingrich Congress found out the hard way. But every 4 years, when primary voters try to nominate a presidential candidate, the nominee who runs against Washington, D.C. has a huge edge over all the others: Carter, Reagan, Dukakis, Clinton, Bush II, and now it’s looking like Dean. (Bush I doesn’t count because he was Reagan III.) The pattern is so strong it makes you wonder why Senators like Kerry and Lieberman could be so obtuse to miss it.

I remember thinking of this phenomenon when the Democratic field settled together. I looked at Dean and said, "Nah, there’s no way it will work this time." Instead, Dean may turn out to be the best confirmation of the Beltway phenomenon yet.

Demos will not retake the House

Juliet Eilperin writes in the WaPo that Democrats don’t have much of a chance to retake the House in 2004. While she emphasizes the limited number of seats in play as a result of reapportionment, there is more to it, of course. But note that even Rep. Rahm Emanuel, a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee vice-chairman, is modest in his expectation: "In terms of basic vitals -- money, recruitment and the message environment -- all the signs are pointed toward a slight gain for us." I think the Demos might be starting to settle into a "permanent" minority status; if not yet, they will after a couple of more elections, they must find their own Robert Michel. There are some useful details on a few races in the article.

Poll finds that in 25 years affirmative action not necessary

ABC News says that a new poll conducted by Harris (for the American Bar Association) found that: "Most Americans agree that in 25 years, colleges and universities should no longer need to look at an applicant’s race to make sure there is racial and ethnic diversity on campus, a new poll finds.

Seventy percent of respondents said they agree with Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who wrote in June that although the Constitution allows race to be a factor in college admissions now, there should be no need for that consideration in a quarter-century." The poll will be released by the ABA today.

Steyn on Arnold

Mark Steyn column on Arnold and the Demos is very good, and quite funny.

Cautionary note on the recall

Arnold Steinberg at NRO tries to give pause to those who think 1) that Devis will certainly lose the recall, and 2) that Ahhnold S. will become governor. He criticizes the Friday night poll (wherein AS gets 25%), but I have already mentioned the Sunday CNN poll, which even looks more promising on both issues. While being aware that polls don’t mean everything, yet I think the nature of the revolution taking place in California is such that the candidate that will prosper most will be the one that is seen to be least tied to the political establishment. So, while Steinberg’s cautions should be taken seriously, in the end, he will have been proven wrong, imho. Daniel Weintraub says "Gray Davis has a huge problem on his hands, one probably unprecedented in modern American politics. There is no model for how he can get himself out of it. The immediate problem is this: he is becoming irrelevant."

Foreigners migrate to London

This long article from The Economist addresses the issue of the growth the number of foreigners in London: two-thirds of foreigners coming to England end up in London. The inflow of foreigners to London is larger (per 1,000 inhabitants) than into Los Angeles and almost twice of what it is into New York. Also, the English are moving out to the countryside. 

WMD in Iraq announcement in September?

Robert Novak (always skeptical of the Bush administrations WMD in Iraq claims) writes that there is to be a big public announcement in September of things David Kay has already made public. In case you don’t trust Novak, Rich Lowry claims to have heard the same thing. The British government is said to be preparing a major report to the same effect.

California immigration politics

Matt Welch writes in the Los Angeles Daily News that whether or not illegal aliens should receive a California drivers license may become an issue during the recall election. Davis said in July that he would support it (after having vetoed it last year). Also see this LA Times op-ed by Ed Erler and Scot Zentner of a few days ago; they claim that this is a veiled bid for amnesty. Also note that Arnold supported Proposition 187 in 1994. It would have prevented illegals from receiving some social services, including education, but it was overturned by a court. The Davis supporters, and Democrats in California will make an issue of this, especially since former Governor Pete Wilson is a close advisor to Arnold.

Tourism drop in France

Steven Den Beste has a long essay on the various problems the French are having; he emphasizes the drop in tourism. While official numbers are not available, the standard estimates say that there is at least a 30% drop from last year (and that year was already low). There are many good sites mentioned along the way in this long bu readable essay. (via Instapundit.

CNN California poll

Yet another CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, a day after the poll below, shows Arnold with 42% saying there is a good chance they would vote for him, and, even more significantly, 73% said they take his candidacy seriously. Buztamante has 22% and SImon comes in at 13%. There is also some info in the article on the major candidates’ financial holdings.

Arnold Democrats

A Time/CNN Poll poll released yesterday claims that 54% of voters would recall Davis if the election were held today, and that Arnold would be elected with 25%, to Bustamante’s 15%. And Tony Quinn thinks that there is a good chance that Arnold can pull in a lot of Democrats, much like Reagan did. There are many voters out there who are "below-the-screen voters", voters, people who have been alienated from politics, and whose preferences for candidates are hard to determine; but it is almost certainly the case that they would not vote for Davis, or even Bustamente. I would add that the Arnold Democrats could include many, maybe even a majority of Hispanics.

Arnold now appears on the cover of both Time and Newsweek. Here is the Time story on him; worth a quick look. Note his cold relations with the Kennedy’s. Here is Newsweek. You might as well look at Rush Limbaugh’s op-ed in The L.A. Times. He explains why this extraordinary effort to recall Davis is perfectly understandable: he has turned the state into a banana republic, Rush argues, and the people are not amused.


A reader brought to my attention this piece on Hungary by Richard Bernstein in The New York Times. It is not a propos anything, save the fact that next May Hungary will join the European Union, along with nine other countries, most from the former Eastern bloc. The piece is OK, perhaps a bit prosaic. If you want more detail for a country that (as Berstein says) "hums with a kind of ardor, an avidity for new prospects that one seldom feels in the take everything-for-granted countries further west," you might want to go to the CIA World Factbook. Not to throw cold water on Bernstein’s optimistic tone, yet I bring to your attention the seemingly natural (read ancient) pessimism of the Hungarians as reflected even in the first paragraph of their anthem (adopted in 1844):

"God bless the Hungarian,
With good cheer, and abundance,
Extend to him a shielding arm,
If he battles with the enemy;
Torn by ill fate for too long,
Bring onto him joyful year,
These people have expiated,
The past and the future!"

The word "expiated" is awkward (in Hungarian it is "megbunhodte") and it means that they think they have already made ammends or atoned for all their sins (past and future). You get it? You can hear the melody by clicking here.

Hispanic immigration debate

There is an interesting debate on Hispanics, immigration, and whether or the GOP can get (or even should try to get) the Hispanic vote at The Remedy. Good folks like Steve Hayward, Peter Robinson, and Nivholas Antongiovanni, et al, are in it. Good stuff, follow the links. I favor Hayward’s approach, and may get into it later.

Liberal fund raising

Thomas Edsall reports on a liberal attempt to raise a lot of money, and to skirt McCain-Feingold. Americans for Coming Together already has commitments for more than $30 million, including $10 million from George Soros, $12 million from six other philanthropists, and about $8 million from unions, including the Service Employees International Union. And John Podesta has put together something called American Majority Institute, meant to function as a liberal counterpart of the Heritage Foundation.

Russian better off at Gitmo

A Russian mother of one of the eight Russians held at Guantanamo says she prefers he stay there rather than be brought back to Russia: "At Guantanamo they treat him humanely, the conditions are fine." She also said: "I think that there is not even a health resort in Russia on the level of this place."

Iraq ordered chemical attack

The Boston Globe reports that David Kay told Congress in a closed session last week that he has found documents that indicated that a chemical attack (artillery) had been ordered during the war. He means to find out why it wasn’t carried out and, of course, where the suff is.

Attacks in Iraq are down

The Strategy Page notes that attacks on American troolps have dropped: "In the last four weeks, attacks on American troops have declined from about 40 a day to about three dozen. Defining what is an ’attack’ is sometimes difficult. US troops hearing nearby gunfire often discover they have come upon a crime being committed, or two groups of Iraqis settling a dispute. But the lethality of the attacks is going down. In the past week, there were four straight days without an American fatality. Iraqi attackers have become more cautious of late, because American ’targets’ are often traps.

American intelligence efforts have gathered a growing mountain of information on what’s going on among Iraqis and that has made it possible for troops to more effectively go after the Baath Party resistance. The same ’battlefield internet’ that was so useful doing the fighting is now enabling commanders to quickly share information on the situation inside Iraq. This has led to the rapid development of new tactics and understanding of the rapidly changing situation in Iraq. This high speed communication system was enormously popular during the war, and continued in use after the shooting stopped. The impact of these new communications tools has gone largely unnoticed in the post-war operations. One of the few visible signs of this commo situation is the talk of ’keeping Saddam on the run.’ This chase has been propelled by the masses of information gathered and the battlefield internet."

Gun control a loser now

USA Today notes that those in favor of gun control are behind public opinion in a big way. This explains why Demos are not talking about it.

Smallest synthetic motor

Scientists have created the world’s smallest motor, tinier than the width of the human hair. Amazing.

Phony Baloney

Fox News
that Leo Terrell, a prominent Los Angeles civil rights attorney and “Democratic champion of the left has resigned as a member of the NAACP, saying officials tried to strong-arm him into dropping his endorsement of a controversial Bush judicial nominee.” Terrell has supported Bush’s nomination of California judge Carolyn Kuhl to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. “I am proud to support Judge Kuhl,” Terrell wrote in a press release, adding that having argued civil rights cases in her courtroom, “she was fair and she applied the law.” Perhaps even more important than his Kuhl support is Terrell’s ringing endorsement of the NAACP after 13 years of voluntary legal services— “It turned out to be a really phony organization.”

The Arnold phenomenon

This is just came over the wire: President Bush "edged into California’s turbulent recall campaign today, saying that movie actor Arnold Schwarzenegger would make a good governor.

White House officials have taken pains to stress that Bush will stay out of the recall campaign against Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, and Bush asserted that ’the people of California will sort all this out.’

But he acknowledged that he was closely watching the campaign unfold."

The fact that Bush came out with a form of an endorsement is significant. He sees something that could be very good, and almost certainly will be better than what currently exists (including a GOP governor in the largest state). The short of it is that--in response to Eastman and Alt--while I understand that AS is not a conservative, etc., it is also clear to me that he will energize all kinds of voters who normally don’t get energized and who, even good guys like McClintock, have not yet energized. As someone said AS is now a phenomenon, and we have fallen into a different mode of politics (ala Jesse Ventura at his start) that we can’t stop, but perhaps we can affect. I think he will be elected because he is running against the establishment (in this case the Democrats) and because there is nothing to lose by having him go in and try to clean the place out. Will he clean house? Probably not, of course. Yet, the attempt could be worthy. And, if he is well advised and very smart, it could have a long lasting effect. After all, it is not as though Republicans, conservatives, or otherwise, have done so well in California lately (read, they have been completely ineffective). We will have to see how he talks about some issues. So far, he is being very smart. I’m impressed, and it has (almost) nothing to do with the fact that this appealing immigrant may try to teach something to the natives.

And see this liberal op-ed in the Chicago-Sun Times beating up on folks who don’t like liberal movie stars opining on everything under the sun, and yet think that the AS phenomenon is a good thing. Amusing and heartening.

Why Arnold Entering the Race Could Be Good for Conservatives

At the risk of taking a left turn, I am going to suggest that Arnold’s entrance into the California fray will be good for conservatives. First, I think that it is all but certain that he wins. He will be hit very hard (as he already has) by Davis’s scandal mongers, but unless something really big comes up, I think the terminator is a shoe-in.

Why, then, you may ask, is this good for conservatives? After all, Arnold is socially liberal and probably toward the moderate end of fiscal policy. First, even that less than preferable posture will be a substantial shift to the right from Davis, who is literally in the pocket of special interest. But more importantly, Governor Arnold puts California back in play in 2004. The Democrats have gotten a pass in the last few presidential elections in California--collecting huge amounts of campaign cash from their Hollywood friends, but, California politics being what they are, not having to spend much of that money in the Golden State. Schwarzenegger changes this. He will be a popular campaigner for Bush. While I do not necessarily believe that this will swing the state, it will put it back into play. As such, Dems will have to spend a considerable sum in California, which has three large media markets (San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego). The Democratic candidates will also have to spend significant time in California, and will therefore reduce their time in other key states. Run, Arnold, Run.

California Sureme Court declines to intervene

California Supreme Court declined to interfere in the recall election, it rejected all five lawsuits; the recall will be held in October. Here is Daniel Weintraub’s analysis.

Arnold the Magician

I doubt even a cloistered monk is not aware of Arnold’s entrance into the race to replace the soon-to-be-recalled Governor Gray Davis, but the accolades being heaped on the "terminator" are taking on a surreal quality. From this morning’s Wall Street Journal: "He’s shown a serious interest over the years in politics and government, notably through his promotion of Proposition 49, a statewide initiative that makes public funds available for after-school programs." And now for the magic part, still quoting from the Wall Street Journal: "The measure, which did not raise taxes or take money away from other state services, was approved with wide support last November." Perhaps I’m missing something, but can someone explain to me how directing public funds to a new program (and locking in levels of support by initiative rather than legislative deliberation, to boot) can be done WITHOUT raising taxes OR shifting money from other programs? The normally staid WSJ thinks Arnold is only a social liberal, but unless he is really Houdini in disguise, methinks he is a fiscal liberal as well.

Condi Rice speech

This is a report on the speech Condi Rice gave to the National Association of Black Journalists on Iraq. She "likened Iraq’s halting path toward self-government to black Americans’ struggle for civil rights in the 1960s, imploring black journalists Thursday to reject arguments that some people are incapable of democracy."
Here is the transcript.

Zimbabwe’s downward spiral

The London Telegraph reports on the 60th annual congress of the commercial farmers in Zimbabwe. The situation is simply awful, Mugabe has destroyed the farmers; agricultural production is down 50% from last year.

Flight 93 questions

This AP story in the WaPo considers the mystery of what really happened on Flight 93, on 9/11. Did the Americans get into the cockpit? Apparently not, according to the FBI. In other words, they think the highjacker intentionally crashed the plane once it was clear that the uprising was successful.

Gore’s speech, III

The New York Times reports on the speech. The Scrum wonders why he gave it. Does he want to be a power broker for the Demos? He said he would endorse someone, but not run himself.

Gore’s speech II

Here is the transcript of Al Gore’s speech of today to, a left-wing outfit that he sought ought to address. I think it is a terrible speech, moving fully left. Perhaps he does want to run in 2004 and he must think that lurching left is the way to do it. Too bad. Maybe Gore should have looked at this Democratic Leadership Council poll. It clearly shows that those who identify themselves as Democrats has been slipping since 1998; it is now down to 33%. The GOP has the advantage with young white men by 15-30%, etc. Worth a look.

new book on judicial activism

The Cloaking of Power: Montesquieu, Blackstone, and the Rise of Judicial Activism (Chicago) just kanded on my desk. It is by Professor Paul O. Carrese (he is at the Air Force Academy). It looks very good. I should have it read in the next year or two!

Hayward on Arnold

Steve Hayward has a few good paragraphs on Arnold over at The Corner, which I quote in full:

"Let me provide the other side of the cogent case Tim Graham makes against Gov. Arnold. (But let me first add the full disclosure that I am committed to Sen. Tom McClintock, who is the best and smartest conservative in the race, which I would say even if he weren’t a friend).

Because of his enormous celebrity status and the fact that he can command huge media attention (which is a big problem in state politics in California--easterners are always astounded to learn that not one TV station in LA, SF, or San Diego keeps a bureau, reporter, or camera crew in Sacramento to report on state politics, which is why governors travel to those cities to make news as often as they can), he is perhaps the one person who could seriously intimidate the Democrats in the state legislature to back down on some things. Arnold is absolutely right that the legislature is a wholly-own subsidiary of the liberal interest groups (especially the public employee unions and the trial lawyers). This stranglehold is much worse than anything from the railroad robber baron days. The big question is whether Arnold is serious about breaking this stranglehold; if he is not he shouldn’t bother running. The fear is that even though a nominal Republican, he will end up more like the feckless Jesse Ventura, who found the limits of celebrity fairly quickly. So far in the first 24 hours, Arnold has made the right noises, and he has around him the very experienced and savvy Pete Wilson team, which, say what you will about Gov. Wilson, knew how to win elections and govern effectively.

I place the odds at about once chance in three that Arnold would turn out to be the serious reformer I envision here, but if so, he has a better chance of succeeding than the other Republicans. Any other Republican is going to face all-out war from the Democrats and special interest groups.

Gore’s speech

Here is a short Fox News report on Gore’s speech to the liberal meeting. Boston Globe’s account of the same speech. Gore is "deeply troubled" just about everything going on in the country.

Issa is not running in California

Rough & Tumble says that CNN is announcing that Darrell Issa is not going to run for Governor. I remind you to look at California Insider and Rough and Tumble if you want to be up to date on the mayhem in California.

The War on Terror

A little revolution every now and then can be a good thing. I have nothing to add on what’s going on in California.

There’s so much nonsense about the War on Terror in the news that I thought these two articles might be useful. Here’s some good common sense on the step-pby-step prudence of the War on Terror from the Israeli Insider
and here’s nice restatement of the Bush Administration’s purpose and policy in the War on Terror by Condi Rice .

Time Out for a Commercial Announcement

Time out from electoral politics for a moment for a plug. No Left Turn readers in Ohio and elsewhere may be interested in a paper I have just published with AEI on the "New Source Review" air pollution controversy, which can be found here.

This is of special interest to Ohio and other midwestern states that have a lot of coal-fired power plants and old industrial factories.

Let the Mayhem Begin

The dam is bursting in California today. The Lt. Governor, Cruz Bustamante, is going to run on the Democratic side (Davis has always treated Bustamante like minimum wage hired help), which will attract a lot of the Hispanic vote. But Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, a Democrat who has panted after the governorship unsuccessfully for 20 years, is also likely to run, which will split the Dem vote more. (Garamendi is something of a centrist, as California Dems go.) Loretta Sanchez may run, which will dilute the Hispanic vote further. There are stirrings about Leon Panetta (who??), and I still expect to be an 11th hour intrigue over Feinstein.

Democratic Politics

Mario Cuomo wants Al Gore to run again. Is this endorsement supposed to help Gore? Michelle Nunn, former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn’s daughter is thinking about running for the Senate in Georgia. AFL-CIO delays endorsing a candidate; another blow for Gephardt. John Edwards started TV ads in Iowa and New Hampshire. They will not help his campaign. He’s not going anywhere.

Bush-Cheney Fundraising

The Dallas Morning News reports that the Bush-Cheney campaign will raise more than the $170 million planned; probably closer to $200.

Jerry Springer not running

Jerry Springer has decided not to run for the Senate. Nice news to wake up to. It also means that he Democrats don’t have a chance to beat Voinovich.

Hasta la vista, Davis!

So, as of this writing, we know this: Schwarzenegger is running for governor of California. I think he will probably be elected. But what is more important is the fact that Governor Gray Davis will lose his job; even the California Supreme Court can’t save him, although it can delay the recall election. The Democratic Party’s unity behind Davis has collapsed, caused in part by the very smart timing of Arnold’s last minute annoucement. Lt. Gov. Bustamante (D) will be on the ballot, as will state Insurance Commissioner Garamandi (D). Neither they, nor Gary Coleman, nor Larry Flynt, nor Arianna Huffington will be elected, of course. It is possible that Rep. Darrell Issa will give Arnold a run for his money, but I doubt it. Arnold’s news conference was pretty good, I thought. He said most of the things he should have said, and seemed forthright. Another immigrant boy makes good, there is opportunity in America, and he is going to pay it back by clening up the state. He said he is going after the special interests, and identified unions as special interests. His job won’t be easy, but it will be great theatre. He will pull new voters into the voting booths and just that will be enough to get him elected. And the Democratic Party--almost wholly corrupt in California--will be the big loser in all of this. They are responsible for placing California in bankruptcy, for making the politics of the Golden State look bad in comparison to Russia or Nigeria. And now everyone will start questioning many of the Progressive movement’s unhealthy additions unto the constitutions of almost half the states. You can already tell that even liberals will now start making the argument representative democracy is healthier than direct democracy. Good, it’s about time. Go Arnold!

Arnold’s In!

So Arnold’s in after all. I imagine that California Democrats are filling their BVDs about now (as I write it is 8:30 p.m. California time). Arnold timed this entrance exquisitely, waiting for the Democratic strategy (close ranks around Davis; Feinstein stays out) to gel, and then scrambling their calculations with only 72 hours to go before the filing deadline.

I suspect this will increase the pressure on Feinstein to enter the race. I rate the chances at better than 75 percent that she will now be in the race come Friday night.

Update on Conservatism Conference

Updated information is now available at the Ashbrook Center website for this Fall’s conference, The Evolution of Modern American Conservatism. It will be held at the Ashbrook Center on Saturday, 11 October, and is open to the public for a small fee (which will include lunch).

Hispanics optimistic, poll

New York Times/CBS News Poll of Hispanics found that "they are far more optimistic about life in the United States and their children’s prospects than are non-Latinos, despite the fact that many are much poorer and many do not intend to gain the full benefits of citizenship."

There are a couple of nuggets in it that are worth reading, I note only one: "In Mexico one can study and study but there’s no good work when you finish school," said Sylvia González, 39, a custodian in Denver who moved to Colorado from the Mexican state of Morelos. "Here we do the jobs that no one wants to do because we know the value of work. Here we understand that the person without a job is the person who does not have the will to work." I assume Gonzales is a legal immigrant. It might be a reasonable question to ask whether such a person is likely to vote Democratic.

Indonesian Terrorist Threat

This story out of Australia reports,"Terrorists claiming responsibility for the Jakarta bombing have sent a chilling warning that they will kill more Westerners if Bali bomber Amrozi is sentenced to death today."

Recall Update--Deja Vu All Over Again

Don’t take too seriously Dianne Feinstein’s declaration that she won’t be a candidate to replace Davis. She had to say something immediately to stop the momentum from building to get her on the ballot. Davis’s support is slipping by the day in polls, and Democrats are getting very very nervous.

Davis’s support is slipping because of one of those great coincidences. Notices are arriving in California mailboxes right now infomring people of the tripling of their car registration fees, which Davis brough about a few months ago. It reminds me exactly of Prop. 13 in 1978, which polls showed was neck and neck until about a month before the election, when new property tax assessments landed in mailboxes showing that many people’s property taxes owuld double or even triple. Support for Prop 13 soared immediately after this, and the rest, as they say, is history.

This is among the reasons Davis is so desperate to have the election put off until next March.

If the polls deteriorate further by Friday, expect panicky Democrats to twist Feinstein’s arm at the last minute; she can run saying she is against the recall, but can’t run the risk that the GOP will take the governorship uncontested.

Democratic politics

This Washington Post article runs through the workings of the draft Wesley Clark movement. Speculation is that he may announce in a week or so. Al Gore continues to fuel speculation that he may drop back in; he is giving a "major" foreign policy talk on Thursday. Bob Graham continues to lose support in Florida. Larry Kane thinks that Biden may yet jump in. Dick Morris thinks that Hillary should jump in; she should remember what happened in 1968 and 2002. Worth reading, but I disagree: She will not run in 2004.

Dull Arianna

That Ariana Huffington is planning to run for Governor of California is not especially significant for me, but I use it as a ploy to get you to read this column on her by Rammesh Ponnuru. It’s priceless.

WMD in Iraq

Michael Gordon writes, in The New York Times, the probable form the WMD in Iraq debate will take in the future. Sensible. But also look at John Yoo’s piece on the legalities of the war.

FDR and the Depression

Jim Powell writes how FDR prolonged the great depression. This is on my mind because Gary Quinlivan (St. Vincent College) spoke to the Ashbrook Teachers Institute ("Progressivism and the Origins of 20th Century Politics") on the same topic last night.

Why is Davis happy?

Janiskee, Erler, and Eastman opine about this federal ruling and why Davis is so happy with it.

"The recall ballot will comprise two questions. The first is whether or not to recall Davis. The second consists of choosing a successor should the governor be recalled. Federal District Court Judge Barry Moskowitz struck down a particular element of this process on July 29. Section 11382 of the California Elections Code states, "No vote cast in the recall election shall be counted for any candidate unless the voter also voted for or against the recall of the officer sought to be recalled."

"We have argued for some time that it has been a mistake to count Davis out before the battle is over. This recent federal court ruling has the potential to make it even more difficult, literally, to count the governor out of office. Here’s how." Read the whole for the explanation. (via The Remedy)

Re: Davis Recall

Peter: Davis is a wholly-owned subsidiary of organized labor, so it is not surprising that the AFL-CIO would come to his aid with as much as $10 million. He has been worth much more than that to labor. Of course, one shouldn’t put it past Davis to have threatened labor; if they don’t help and he survives, he can punish them, and he would.

In talking with Republican operatives I know in Sacramento and elsewhere, priority Number 1 if there is a 24-hour transition to a new governor is to lock up the governor’s office at midnight, or as soon as the vote is certified, so that the files can’t be purged or shredded. There is likely enough dirt to be found to indict Davis. He is not known as the nation’s first coin-operated governor for nothing.

Bantus of Somalia

USA Today has a long article on the Bantus who have started arriving in America.

Davis recall

Here is Davis’ petition to delay the recall election. Both The Sacramento Bee and The San Francisco Chronicle are reporting that Davis’ support is tanking and that Democrats are beginning to talk openly of getting someone on the ballot. But The Los Angeles Times reports that the AFL-CIO is going to support Davis in every way, including with $10 million dollars. Will this help convince other Democrats that they should stay out?

No Left Turns Mug Drawing Winners for July

Congratulations to this month’s winners of a No Left Turns mug! The winners are as follows:

Jo Ann Zavala

Cindy Jurina

Brad Callender

Ellen Parodi

Daphne Hittell

Thanks to all who entered. An email has been sent to the winners. If you are listed as a winner and did not receive an email, contact Ben Kunkel. If you didn’t win this month, enter August’s drawing.

More Judicial Misconduct at the Sixth Circuit

I’ve previously written about the flouting of court rules by the Chief Judge of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Michigan Affirmative Action cases. Indeed, we highlighted the matter in our brief to the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the petition for certiorari. Now comes news that the same Chief Judge ordered the court clerk not to circulate to other judges a government motion to stop a hearing that was delaying a scheduled execution, until after the hearing had begun. This Chief Judge seems to think that "the rule of law" is not even a law of rules, but a law unto himself. A formal complaint has been filed by Judicial Watch, but at some point, this lawless behavior has got to qualify for proceedings under Article III, Sec. 1 of the U.S. Constitution: "The Judges ... shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour."

Hinglish as a delight

A trip to India moves David Gardner to write a short and amiable essay reflecting on the use of English in India: "Welcome to the wonderful world of Hinglish, a Hindu-inspired dialect that pulsates with energy, invention and humour — not all of it intended. Hinglish is full of cricket terminology and army metaphors, with echoes of P.G. Wodehouse and Dickens. It contains clunky puns and impeccably logical neologisms. In short, it is a delight." There are a few excellent examples.   

Rise of Russia’s criminal state

David Satter writes a thoughtful and readable piece called "The Rise of the Russian Criminal State." It’s an adaption from his book, Darkness at Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State (Yale). So called capitalism needs the rule of law: "In fact, a market economy presupposes the rule of law because only the rule of law is able to assure the basis of a free market’s existence, which is equivalent exchange. Without law, prices are dictated not by the market but by monopolization and the use of force."  

Kagan’s The Pelopponesian War

Mac Owens reviews Kagan’s new one volume on the Peloponessian War, and reflects on the writing of history, and the greatest of Greek wars as tragedy. Excellent. I have read into the Kagan volume and I agree it reads very well.

When Greenland was warm

The Atlantic Monthly calls its readers’ attention to a recent article in the journal Climate Research. It seems the case for global warming isn’t such a slam-dunk after all. When compared to the past ten centuries, it turns out that no matter what the chicken littles have suggested, average temperatures weren’t unusually high in the twentieth century. As the editors point out, during the tenth century Greenland was able to support large-scale human habitation, and one could find olive trees doing quite well as far north as Germany. The conclusion: "[T]he study makes a strong case that human societies have always been able to cope with significant climatic shifts."

Take that, Greenpeace.

Howard Dean time, still

U.S. News also has Dean on it’s cover this week (as do Time and Newsweek, see a few posts below). And Business Week reports that Dean may not be a liberal. The Des Moines Register says that the Iowa Poll shows that Dean is now in the lead in that state, getting 23% to Gephardts 21%. And Howard Kurtz in today’s WaPo continues the Dean momentum drum-beat.

Walzer Interview

This is an interview with Michael Walzer in A Journal of Analytical Socialism on the whole question of just war, and how he sees the Iraq war. It is long, and complicated, but may be of interest to those of you who are willing to put aside Hegel or Kant for the day for something slightly more readable. (via Instapundit)

Germans watching the Saudis

Agence France Press is reporting that "German secret services have been conducting surveillance of Saudi diplomatic missions and other Saudi interests in the country amid suspicions that the rich Gulf Arab kingdom is supporting extremist networks such as al-Qaeda, influential news magazine Der Spiegel said.

The revelation comes after a US congressional report last month that raised questions about Saudi Arabia’s role in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, which were blamed on al-Qaeda.

Previously, such missions were not monitored because Saudi Arabia was considered a ’partner’ of Germany, the magazine added in its edition due to appear on Monday."

Counterterrorism, what not to do

Bruce Berkowitz’s op-ed on the tug-of-war between the White House and Congress on the creation of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center is brief and to the point: enlarging existing counterterrorism operations will not solve our problems. The "tradecraft" (read business model) for Homeland Security is different than for the CIA; in fact, it’s the opposite. He thinks the White House’s solution is wrong; this new Center will be an impediment to information sharing, the same problem we had before 9/11. 

Gephardt has problems in Iowa?

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch claims that Gephardt’s "leadership team" in Iowa is falling apart--some are jumping ship.

Education as self-esteem

Mark Steyn thinks that it’s been a great week for those who want to re-segregate America: he takes on the Oberlin High School black history issue, and the all gay public high school in New York. It all has to do with placing the emphasis on self-esteem, rather than education. His solution to all of it is either to abolish high school, or to have one set up just for bullies, and leave it at that.

It’s Howard Dean Time

The Washington Post on Sunday runs a piece on Dean showing how he understood as governor of Vermont why he had to be a fiscal conservative and how he bent other (i.e., more liberal) Democrats to his will. How he stayed out of the gay union issue, then backed it and, as one political science professor put it, "We overturned 3,500 years of Judeo-Christian tradition in three months, and nothing happened." Time and Newsweek not only run pieces on him, but have him on their cover: the only Democrat in the race who is gaining support and raising real money.


Glenn Reynolds has some thoughts on Greenpeace’s rather reasonable view of nanotechnology. Joe Katzman has a few quick and useful thoughts of his own. The title gives it away: "Why Nanotech Dockers Matter."

Political vandalism

George Will reflects on the political incivilities we have been wittnessing since the Bork hearings. He doesn’t like it. His conclusion: "Life has been called a series of habits disturbed by a few thoughts. Civil society is kept civil by certain habits of restraint. Inflammatory political ideas can overturn habits, sometimes for the better, usually not. But no discernible ideas, at least none that are more than appetites tarted up as ideas, account for the vandalism by political overreachers of both parties.

Each vandal seems to think that his or her passions are their own excuse for existing. As Santayana said, such thinking is the defining trait of barbarians."

Maleness is back in fashion

Christina Hoff Sommers on why those who attempt in "trying to resocialize boys away from ’toxic masculinity’" are failing.

Gray Davis’ pandering

Matt Welch in Reason beats up on Gray Davis. The pro-Democratic unity on Davis might be breaking down.

Nation Building, Rand Study

This is the Rand report "America’s Role in Nation-Building: From Germany to Iraq". It is a book length, includes seven case studies (Germany, Japan, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan) and lessons learned. It is divided by chapters, each in PDF files. Useful information. 

Poll on Hispanics

The New York Times has a lazy report on a new poll that calls "an unusually extensive effort to measure the political and social attitudes of those who call themselves Hispanic." The short of it is that Hispanics are less monolithic than Democrats would like. For example, while the majority say they are Democrats (two to one), they are in favor of tax cuts and school vouchers, and are against abortion; they are evenly divided on legalizing homosexual relations. Not exactly Democratic core voters, in short.

Video games for soldiers

Wired reports that the Air Force has invested a lot of money in setting up networked gaming centers so off duty airmen can play viedeogames. Gives them a little piece of home.

Russian Mafia now smuggling drugs into the U.S.

This is not good news. The Russian mafia has penetrated Mexico’s drug carterls and is helping to smuggle drugs into the U.S.

John Steinbeck on Bob Hope

This is one of John Steinbeck’s dispatches to The New York Herald Tribune in 1943. It is reprinted by today’s The Mercury News. He wrote this after seeing Bob Hope giving one of his shows to the troops. A lovely read. (via RealClearPolitics).   

Malawi is O.K., why?

Jacob T. Levy writes a thoughtful piece on Malawi, a semi-democratic multi-ethnic country that seems to function remarkably well a decade after the fall of the dictatorship. This isn’t common in Africa. Levy wants to know why. Thoughtful. Here is the CIA World Factbook on Malawi to get your bearings.

Is Democracy in California Possible?

I think this is priceless from James Taranto. (go to Taranto to get to the sites)

Left Coast Quagmire:
California is a desert land roughly the size of Iraq. It is also an object lesson in the dangers of trying to impose democracy in a culture that is not ready for it. California "is degenerating into a banana republic," writes former Enron adviser Paul Krugman in his New York Times column. Leon Panetta, himself a Californian, writes in the Los Angeles Times that California is undergoing a "breakdown in [the] trust that is essential to governing in a democracy." Newsday quotes Bob Mulholland, another California political activist, as warning of "a coup attempt by the Taliban element." Others say a move is under way to "hijack" California’s government.

What isn’t widely known is that the U.S. has a large military presence in California. And our troops are coming under attack from angry locals. "Two off-duty Marines were stabbed, one critically, when they and two companions were attacked by more than a dozen alleged gang members early Thursday," KSND-TV reports from San Diego, a city in California’s south.

How many young American men and women will have to make the ultimate sacrifice before we realize it isn’t worth it? Is the Bush administration too proud to ask the U.N. for help in pacifying California? Plainly California has turned into a quagmire, and the sooner we bring our troops back home, the better.

New England Journal of Politics?

Wesley J. Smith wrote this piece at NRO on the New England Journal of Medicine’s decision to lobby openly and politically for expanding human embryo stem cell research here in the U.S.

Worth a read.


More Gay Marriage News

The Vatican is now a formal
in the gay marriage debate, urging Catholic leaders and politicians to oppose the gay marriage trend and push to preserve traditional marriages between men and women. The only surprise is that it took this long.

A Change in Spain

Spain is set to become the first Catholic country in Europe to support human embryonic stem cell research. This is significant because Europe is currently very divided on the issue. The predominantly Catholic countries (and Germany) have thus far opposed stem cell research that involves human embryo destruction, while the less-Catholic countries, including England, Holland and Sweden, have supported it. Spain’s decision could signal a shift in the European balance--not a good sign for those who favor the U.S. prohibition on funding stem cell research, as pressure mounts for us to relax our ethics-based position.

A Constitutional Long Shot

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has proposed a ban on pharmaceutical advertising. The Boston Herald reports that "[l]ead sponsor Kathi-Anne Reinstein (D-Revere) said she doesn’t ’begrudge anyone their First Amendment rights,’ and doesn’t pretend to know the legal implications of the bill."

While the ban is an admitted long shot, it’s always amazing to see which First Amendment rights East Coast liberals support and which they don’t--which is only slightly less amazing than watching lawmakers pass laws without knowing their legal implications.

Soccer Moms are anti-abortion?

Mark Stricherz reports in the latest Weekly Standard that some feminists are worried and that the conventional wisdom on women is wrong: Most women are anti-abortion and, well, I guess they might be described as Republican. The Center for the Advancement of Women has just published a study, a very long study, called "Progress and Perils: A New Agenda for Women." (Here is Part I and this is Part II (PDF files, very long). The central finding is this: Far from wanting abortion as readily available as botox or tattoos (1.3 million abortions took place in 2000), most women oppose the procedure. As Faye Wattleton (former president of Planned Parenthood) wrote in the introduction, "There is significant and growing support for severe restrictions on abortion rights." Sancta simplicitas! She is worried, and she should be. Pretty soon some similarly interesting stats on the homosexual marriage issue will start appearing, and then even more folks will be worried.

Canadian Gay Marriage

Well, that didn’t take long. As predicted here, Canada’s gay marriage ruling will present the U.S. with an almost immediate legal challenge. MSNBC has this report.

Iraqi planes found buried

We have found some 30 Iraqi airplanes buried in the sand, thus far. In the meantime, David Kay is optimistic about his search.

Sisters to claim bodies of Hussein brothers

The two daughters of Saddam Hussein in exile in Jordan, will claim the bodies of their brothers, Udey and Qusay, it is being reported. One of the daughters also said that the fall of Baghdad was a "great shock" and blamed it on the betrayal by associates of the deposed tyrant (although she probably said leader). The daughters are in Jordan.

Stalin’s attempt to kill John Wayne

A new biography of John Wayne claims that Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin was so outraged by the anti-communistic attitude of film star John Wayne that he tried to have him assassinated, twice.

The Rolling Stones and Havel in Prague

Forgive the blanked out French, but I find this irresistible for high political reasons. Andrew Stuttaford at The Corner says this, and I quote in full: "The Rolling Stones have been performing in Prague. Amongst the highlights, an appearance by Vaclav Havel. He appeared on stage and presented a T-shirt to Keith Richards. The T-Shirt’s slogan?

’F--k the Communists.’

Press reports note that the T-shirt drew ’laughs and applause’ from the audience.

Czech communists are, reportedly, offended by this gesture. Well, Havel is right, f--k ’em. Their party was responsible for the murder, jailing or exile of tens of thousands of people - and that’s really something to be ’offended’ by."

Elegy to the Tailcoat

Nicholas Antongiavanni writes a precious essay on the death of the white tie and tailcoat. If you think this has nothing to do with politics and the moral virtues, oh, you would be so wrong. I also suspect that the author Mr. Antongiavanni is himself fashion’s own knight. This is a worthy addition to our understanding of ourselves. I am impressed with the many good things being published by The City Journal. Take your sweet time over this one. Don’t speed read it, for Heaven’s sake.
Here is another essay by him, this on the difference between formality and dandification, in case you want more.

The Official Spin on Sixth Circuit Judge Martin

Peter, here is what the slap on Judge Martin looks like in DC:

"A bitter dispute between liberal and conservative federal judges over an affirmative action case apparently concluded yesterday with a judicial disciplinary body’s ruling that allegations of misconduct against the chief judge of a key appeals court are now moot." "Apparently"? Can’t reporter Charles Lane figure it out for us? WaPo

Political Notes

Jerry Springer will wait until Wednesday to announce whether or not he will run for the U.S. Senate. And it is being reported that Arnold Schwarzenegger will also announce his intention on Wednesday on the Jay Lenno Show. The Teamsters will endorse Gephardt. He needs their support, as he continues to slide in the polls. Hillary Clinton will campaign for California Governor Gray David next week. Mark Penn’s (works for Lieberman, was Clinton’s pollster) new poll of independent voters show they are not interested in coming out in large numbers. Notice the newly created silly category of "office-park dads" (remember the "soccer moms"?); these people just make things up. And here’s E.J. Dionne’s banal take on the boring Demo candidates. Read it last, it’s a soporific, just like their campaign.

Electronic voting, problems galore

Paul Boutin writes for Slate how it has been recently discovered that the much tauted voting machines (to fix the hanging-chad problems) are full of holes. Many of us predicted problems like this. There are huge dangers here, and they’re beginning to be talked about.