Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Stopping money flow to terrorists proves difficult

Josh Meyer writes in the Los Angeles Times that our efforts to stop the flow of money to terrorists is not going well.

Third Guantanamo Arrest

The AP reports that a third person has been arrested--a civilian--in the Guantanamo espionage case. He is an Egyptian-born translator. The fact that he is a civilian makes this different from the other two arrests. It is likely that different courts would be involved, for example. He was detained at Boston’s Logan airport, as he was returning from Egypt, via Italy.

The non-story investigation

James Taranto very concisely lays out the Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame issue thus far, and why it seems to be a non-story. See under "Plame-out." Follow the links.

Reviewing Judicial Review

An accessible piece by Michael Uhlmann on judicial review and the rise of judicial supremacy appears here in this month’s First Things.   

George Soros calls for regime change

Another example of both the war-like mentality I mentioned below (as well as a misuse of a perfectly good phrase),George Soros calls for a "regime change" in the U.S.

California Agony

This Los Angeles Times story notes some of the problems Davis is having; they’re large problems. Democrats are drifting away from him, etc. He hopes that fear of Arnold as governor may pull a few votes his way. In the meantime the one who is most scared is Bustamante. He is talking to Terry McAullife (pleading, I bet) to see if an ad with Bill Clitnon could be put together in time. Among other things, this means that his people think that Davis will be recalled, therefore it’s legit to ask for DNC support. Too late.

The real Reagan (and his letters)

Andrew Sullivan’s op-ed for the (London)Sunday Times on the recently published letters of Ronald Reagan is first class, a must read. The revivification of Reagan as a very serious person, with some massive virtues, continues apace, and his detractors should continue eating crow. I haven’t read the book yet, but read into some of the letters, as published in Time (the one I linked to is to Hugh Heffner) and they are impressive. Here is a flavor of Sullivan:

"Reagan was a highly articulate, well-read and subtle man. The range of his interests, the extent of his knowledge and understanding of world events and history, his grasp of detail are all completely counter to the image we have long held. From developments in Communist China to the latest economic figures, from isolated dissidents he helped free from the Soviet Gulag to an intricate account of how the Iran-Contra affair escaped his political management, we find a man far more clued in than we had been led to believe. Maybe it’s a function of low expectations that I found the letters so impressive (and I haven’t managed to read all of them yet). Maybe it’s more brilliant stagecraft by the man or his editors. But private letters are among the most intimate of a public person’s output. They can reveal more about a person than many other public documents. And in this case, they really do."   

Brooks v. Krugman


David Brooks’ fine column today is perhaps a missile aimed at fellow Timesman Paul Krugman and other certified froth-at-the-mouth Bush-haters right down the hall from him at Times square (one might even call them the "Dowd-y" pages of the grey lady). See Donald Luskin’s piece on this on today’s National Review Online. (Luskin runs the "Krugman Truth Squad" effort that debunks every Krugman column by about 8:30 a.m. the morning they come out. It has been highly embarrassing for Krugman, a once-respected economist.)

One Cheer for Putin

Say what you will about Vladimir Putin, but he seems to be setting the stage for Russia to reject the Kyoto global warming treaty, which will be a death blow for the treaty, which was already on life support. Without Russia’s ratification, the treaty will not go into effect.

Yesterday Putin even said that Russia might benefit from global warming, a heresy that you aren’t supposed to utter. "If it warms up a degree or two, its not terrible. It might even be good--we’d spend less money on fur coats and other warm things."

Behind the scenes the Russians are demanding guarantees that they will collect the theoretical windfall that Kyoto seemingly promises them. Because the treaty uses 1990 as its baseline year, when the old Soviet Union had mich higher greenhouse gas emissions than today, Russia stands ready to sell emission credits in any kind of tradable emissions scheme. I’m betting the Europeans wll not want to make firm commitments to transfer billions of dollars to Russia just to satisfy their green lobbies.

Politics without trust

David Brooks writes a very fine article in today’s NYTimes on this theme: We have gone from the cultural wars to the presidency wars, and this is very dangerous stuff. The clash is not over philosophy (or, as he says, values) or policy, it is over legitimacy. So when Dean speaks of the Republicans as enemies, or says that what is at stake here is democracy itself, this is--unfortunately--too meaningful. It implies a perpetual war--driven by anger--among politicians; domestic politics now being conducted as if it were foreign relations. Is there any trust left? Are we still members of the same constitutional order? It can be hoped that Brooks is wrong, and I do hope it. It may be that this warrior mentality is just a manifestation of the natural (and not simply bad) anger that one party or side has against the other. But he is implying that this hatred is more than that.

Certainly, the upcoming presidential election cycle will decide some of these things, both in how the parties and the candidates talk about what is really important, how citizens will be persuaded or not, and then, just maybe, their decisions at the polls will dampen this dangerous enthusiasm among partisans of what, at the moment, may seem like different worlds. Warriors should be transformed into citizens, again. A certain amount of trust is necessary in this republican regime.


Baseball Again

"He who would understand America must understand baseball" Jacques Barzun.

Here’s the schedule for Major League Baseball’s playoffs. Starting today at 1:05.

Sorry the temperature is dipping in to the 30s, so I dream of baseball.

U.S. Funding Embryo Stem Cell Research

CNN reports that the U.S. government has issued grants for human embryo research.

The National Institutes of Health announced it was giving $6.3 million over three years to three centers to work on their stem cells -- the University of Wisconsin’s WiCell Institute; the University of Washington Seattle and the associated Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; and the University of Michigan Medical School.

President Bush generally opposes this work, so it should be interesting to see how he and his Council on Bioethics, headed by the venerable Leon Kass, respond.

West Point Honor Code

Paul Robinson writes a nice essay on the honor code at West Point ("a cadet will not lie, cheat, steal or tolarate those who do"). This Englishman thinks, apparently, that all is well with the US military.

Eugenics Revisited

The Miami Herald runs this story out of Denmark:

COPENHAGEN - A Danish academic has sparked an uproar by calling for state measures to encourage childbearing among intelligent people but to dissuade those with low intellectual ability, to create what he called a better Danish society.

Helmuth Nyborg, a well-known psychology professor at the University of Aarhus who specializes in intelligence research, said it was time to ’’abandon the politically correct’’ and to practice selection in order to ’’improve the coming generations and avoid degenerates in the population’’ in comments this weekend that have been widely reported on national television and the country’s main newspapers.

’’I’m aware that my proposal breaks a taboo that dates back more than half a century, since Hitler’s Aryan race program, and it is very controversial,’’ he said in an interview with Agence-France Presse.

’’But the debate has to be raised now because the trend is cause for concern in Denmark where we have an increasing number of problem kids,’’ he said.

Although not overly-familiar with Danish society, I’m sure there are other ways for the Danes to raise their intellegence quotient. For starters, they could stop giving academic posts to crazy people.

Gray, Fade to Black

The establishment in California is frantically trying to spin the latest poll numbers that show Gray Davis collapsing and Arnold surging, deploying all the usual poll-spinning tricks about sampling error, etc. But the reason why these numbers are likely correct arrived in the mail this week. Yesterday my car tax bill arrived. Last year’s tax was $180; this year’s: $425. That’s for a 1996 SUV, my only car in California. If you have two or three cars in your household as do most California households (California has more registered vehicles than licensed drivers), imagine the sticker shock people are getting this week. In many cases the tax boost for a household with late model cars is probably something like $1200. No wonder Gray’s chances are fading to black.

A similar thing happened with Proposition 13 in 1978. Polls showed the vote fairly close, until about three weeks before election day, when new property tax assessments (which had soared again) arrived in the mail. It was all over after that.

Separately, the Washington Post Style section today profiles one of the second-tier candidates, Trek Thunder Kelly. Turns out that is his real name; his parents, he says, considered naming him Sirf Cimmaron or Chet Chisholm. I am not making this up, and I doubt he is. I know a drop-out hippie couple near where I hang out at the beach on the central coast who named their kids Zuma and Blaise-Elation. Guess they’re not old enough to run for governor.

Wilson/CIA/White House

Pejman has some good thoughts on this Amb. Wilson/Valerie Plame/CIA and the so-called White House leak issue. Good links as well. I really don’t intend to follow this in any detail; it is a non-starter.

Louisiana race

I am taking a break from Xenophon, and instead of responding to dear-friends-who-are-sometimes-wrong, Hayward and Eastman, let me bring this interesting item to your attention. There is an open primary election for the governorship of Louisiana. One of the most interesting candidates in the field of 18, is the conservative Republican Bobby Jindal, a son of Indian immigrants. Here is the Time mag article on him. If elected he would become the nation’s youngest governor. Here is the AP story on him, and here is a short CNN note. Apparently the guy has a chance to make it into the runoff, since no one is likely to get the necessary 50 percent to win it outright. Worth watching.

No conservatives in graduate school

Now that David Brooks is writing opinion pieces for the New York Times, the oddest things appear in that paper; they seem so out of place. This one is about the prejudice on college campuses--especially among the so-called elite graduate schools--against conservative students, especially graduate students, most of whom, one would think, would want to turn back into the academy to become professors.  

Hayward’s Right

Steve Hayward has it right. McClintock will not get out, nor should he. For two reasons. 1st, as I wrote several weeks ago, if there is a Republican spoiler in this race, it is Schwarzenneger and the anti-principled Wilson machine backing him. Several polls--those that are public and even those that were privately commissioned by Schwarzenneger backers such as the Lincoln Club of Orange County for the express purpose of getting evidence that would force McClintock to withdraw--have both McClintock and Schwarzenneger beating Bustamante in head to head competitions. The fight, then, is not between prudence and principle, siding with someone who can win (but is bad on principle) or siding with someone who is good on principle (but can’t win). The fight, rather, is whether we win on the principled ground or win on the unprincipled ground.

Second, we’ll be glad that McClintock is still in the race after Bob Mulholland unleashes the Schwarzenneger scandals ads this week. If too many people have already voted for Arnold via absentee to cost McClintock the election as the only viable alternative to the Davis/Bustamante machine, it will be the fault of those who coronated Arnold early in the process, without considering his positions, the views of the voters, or Arnold’s utter lack of commitment to Republican principles (even his anti-tax campaign ads are contradicted by his ads, concurrently running, claiming that we need to raise taxes on Indian tribes!).
There are two ways for Republicans to win in this state. One is the Wilson way; by into enough of the left’s program to win over some center-left voters. The other is Reagan’s: Stand on principle; appeal to those who agree with the principle, particularly those who have not traditionally been affiliated with the Republican party--blue collar democrats for Reagan, conservative Hispanic Catholics now. With the voter animus against Davis, we had a historic opportunity to take the principled route, and our party establishment here has squandered it. Hurrary for Tom McClintock for not selling us down the river. Hurray for Bruce Herschensohn, Howard Ahmanson, and others for launching the independent expenditures cmapaign this week supporting McClintock.

Two Dissents

I hate to dissent from Peter’s judgments, but Tom McClintock is not going to drop out, despite the fact that he is a devotee of both Lincoln and Churchill, whose examples he knows well. Among other things, he owes the Republican Party establishment very little, since (bowing to Pete Wilson’s vindictiveness) it lifted nary a finger to help him in his winnable statewide controller’s race last year, where he ran ahead of every other Republican on the ballot. I know Tom very well; his rock-solid stubbornness is of a piece with his clarity on public policy issues. It ain’t gonna happen.

Nathaniel Stewart and others pass along good economic news. I hope they are right, but I am not so sure. There are worrying signs that the economy might stall out again. See John Makin’s latest Economic Outlook, where he points out continuing weakness in fundamental areas. Makin is my guru; he has an incredible record of calling economic turns. He was very optimistic three months ago, which makes his current worry something to pay attention to.

America’s Game

Yesterday marked the end of the regular season for Major League Baseball. The only exciting thing to be decided on the final day of the season was whether the Detroit Tigers would lose their 120th game of the season and thus tie the 1962 New York Mets as the worst team in Major League history. The Tigers celebrated by winning their 43rd game of the year to finish 43-119, next to the Mets 40-120. The Tigers were 38-118 with 6 games to go. Miraculously, the Tigers won 5 of their last 6 games. Thus, they are only the worst team in American League history.

In other baseball news, perhaps the most interesting fact about this season is that no one hit 50 home runs this year. That’s the first time in several years that has happened. The balance of power swings back toward pitchers.

The best young player in the Majors is Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals. Pujols just missed winning baseball’s triple crown. No one has won the triple crown since 1967. Pujols lead the National League in hitting (barely), and just missed leading the league in Home Run and RBIs. Pujols is the first man in history to hit .300, over 30 homers, and over 100 RBIS in each of his first 3 seasons in the bigs. No one has hit more homers at his age in major league history. Here is a man.

We face two weeks of play-offs and then the World Series. As we sit here, we face an amazing prospect, a World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox. If that’s possible, surely McClintock deserves our support. Ok, most likely, Yankees v. Braves but imagine could the Cubs win the Series for the first time since 1908 and or Red Sox for the first time since 1918. Wow.

Sit back and enjoy America’s game. By the way, did they play soccer in 1918?

Thinking I’m a Lincoln

As the Scarecrow sings, "Thinking I’m a Lincoln, if I only had a brain."

I agree with Peter and Eric: If the choice is between Bustamante and Arnold, then you go Arnold. Although I expect or predict, that if Arnold wins it will be a disaster for the Republican Party in California. Arnold is the only person who can pass a budget with major tax increases. Davis and Bustamante can’t. McClintock won’t. Arnold brings enough of the Republicans over the cliff.

Should McClintock drop out? Perhaps it would be the prudent thing to do. But McClintock has made a promise to his supporters and he states over and over in public that he keeps his promises. So he is really in a lose, lose situation. He can’t drop out because of that promise. Read his lips, so to speak. I expect it costs him more to drop out than to stay in the race.

Lincoln and McClintock

To add a footnote to Eric Claeys’ and Peter Schramm’s posts: The question here is how to get Davis out without getting Bustamante in. Conservatives have to win two votes, Davis one. Davis can win by campaiging against conservatives (hard) and against Bustamante (softly, e.g., signing the illegal alien driver license bill, which I think was a terrible mistake, politically, for him, as well as being despicable legislation to begin with).

In one view, McClintock may prove his irrelevance to the Republican Party in California by staying in and fading away to a distant third, behind the victorious Ahnold and Bustamante. Yet, his distance from the Ahnold campaign may be a boost to it as well: It makes less credible the likely last-minute assault by Davis of "right-wing coup" charges. If McClintock voters stay away from the polls altogether, that might help Davis on the all-important vote #1, getting him out.

If, and of course one mustn’t anticipate victory, Ahnold and McClintock together poll more than 50% of the vote, it might signal the beginning of a governing majority in California that had a significant conservative presence. Building it in the legislature is a long-term project, made formidable by redistricting that freezes into place current Democratic majorities. Governing by plebiscite (initiative), where conservative issues can come to the fore without support of the "rotten boroughs" exacerbated by the weight of the illegal immigrant population, appears to be the only significant short-term answer. Ahnold could be a powerful presence in this strategy. Of course, first he needs to win.

McClintock and Lincoln

Please note Eric’s good blog on why Lincoln withdrew from the Senate race in 1854 in order to make sure that a free-soil candidate would win and what that may have to do with McClintock pulling out of the race. If only half of the praise that McClintock is getting is true (fine, upstanding, principled man, etc.), then everything points to his pulling out within the next few days for the good of the cause. It would nail everything down very nicely for Arnold (he would certainly end up with more than 50 percent of the vote) and it would also place McClintock in a powerful position to affect the future governing of the state. I predict he will withdraw.

Women’s World Cup

Just for the record I happened to see all of the U.S. vs. North Korea Women’s World Cup game yesterday (That’s politics, isn’t it?). We played very well, and I enjoyed it. I am a little worried that we are getting so many goals from set pieces, though. We are in the quarterfinals and Norway is next; I’m told they are a tough team.

Dennis Miller for the Senate?

This LA Times story claims that Dennis Miller is being talked about seriously (read: it is being rumored) as a candidate for Senator Barbara Boxer’s seat. I really know nothing about Miller except that he is funny and seems very smart, yet, I think it could be fun. I bet Boxer wouldn’t be laughing, though, especially given that the Demo big guns couldn’t save Davis from ignoble defeat at the hands of angry Californians. Could the revolution against the liberal-left establishment in California just keep rolling?

The Joe Wilson affair

Clifford May has a few good words to say on this Joseph Wilson affair. Who leaked the fact that his wife worked for the CIA? The point is everyone knew, this guy has always been a self-serving chest thumper, and he is just continuing it. This is a non-story.

A "Cauldron of Contempt"?

Senate bickering escalates over Iraq. Statesmanship at its finest.

McClintock, Lincoln, and Bowing Out Gracefully

I didn’t blog on this, but I was always more optimistic than Peter about Tom McClintock’s chances in California. Back in August, there was plenty of reason to think that Arnold might torpedo his own candidacy, and McClintock clearly has had the best message. Now, thought, McClintock gave it his best shot, but he’s peaked and Arnold is surging. It’s time for McClintock to signal that his voters should vote for Arnold.

McClintock should do this especially if he wants to run for office two or four years from now. This reminds me of one of my favorite lessons from Abe Lincoln, who had to bow out once for the good of the cause. In 1854, to get a railroad bill through, Stephen Douglas acceded to the wishes of fire-eaters in the Senate and repealed enough of the Missouri Compromise to reopen the question whether Kansas and Nebraska should be free- or slave-soil states. That move fractured party alignments in Illinois, as it did throughout the North.

Lincoln did more than anyone else on the hustings in Illinois to explain why Douglas’ bill was disastrous. In the 1854 elections, Whigs and free-soil Democrats made huge gains in Illinois and elsewhere. The Illinois legislature needed to vote that winter to elect a U.S. Senator. I forget the exact numbers, but party-line Democrats had a plurality, but a free-soil Senator could win if six free-soil Democrats sided with the Whigs. There was a deadlock after many ballots, Lincoln got the Whig votes, Lyman Trumbull got the free-soil D. votes, but neither could get a majority. Eventually, Lincoln told the Whigs to throw their votes to Trumbull. It was more important to elect a free-soil Senator than for the Whigs to win.

I’m not sure we can imagine the sacrifice Lincoln was making at the time. Lincoln was an incredibly ambitious man. But in 1854, he had 0 political prospects. He’d been out of Congress for 4 years and he was languishing in private practice. By all rights, he deserved that Senate seat; he’d done more than anyone else in Illinois to explain the case against Douglas. By throwing in the towel, he was throwing away the chance to get back in the game, at a time when the country was hurtling toward the greatest political test any country can experience, a civil war about the nature of the regime. But Lincoln let Trumbull get the office and the honors, because the cause was more important than the man.

In the end, Lincoln’s sacrifice helped the cause -- and himself -- tremendously. Lincoln’s generosity taught free-soil Democrats and Whigs throughout the midwest that they had more in common with each other than they did with party-line Democrats, who took their orders from the fireeaters. That lesson helped the Republican party form. Also, Lincoln had a better chance than other Republicans of winning Democrat votes because Democrats thought fondly of him from 1854 forward. Good lessons for McClintock in 2004.

GOP to Address Unemployment This Week

It seems the Republicans are a bit concerned about the economy and the need for job creation. According to The Hill, "[e]lectoral worries prompt ‘laser beam’ focus on nationwide unemployment." The bill is scheduled to roll out this week.

Economy, More Good News

The AP reports the following:

WASHINGTON — America’s consumers — flush with tax cuts that left them with extra cash in their wallets — ratcheted up their spending by a strong 0.8 percent in August, helping to power an economic resurgence.

Eugenics Follow-up

It seems that North Carolina will
those the state involuntarily sterilized from 1929 to 1974, some 7600 people.

Euthanasia ’Round the World

The BBC provides this update on the international scope and status of the euthanasia debate. Of note is the American pastor arrested in Ireland for assisting in a woman’s suffocation--he has apparently been bedside at over 100 others. Chilling.

More on Ohio’s Gun Law

Peter Bronson has a nice piece in the Cincinnati Enquirer explaining the recent Ohio Supreme Court decision upholding a ban on concealed-carry.

The end is here for Davis

Right after the debate, I noted that the next polls would deal the death-blow to both Davis and Bustamente. Well, that blow is here. CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll finds that 63 percent will vote yes on the recall, while only 35 percent will vote no. And Arnold is beating Bustamante 40 percent to 25, with 18 percent for McClintock. Just for the record Huffington is at about 2 percent. The turnout is going to be very high. All the reports indicate (and even CNN pundits are now acknowledging this) that the two proximate causes that moved the voters are: One, the debate. Even though McClintock was superb and everyone says he won the debate, voters moved to Arnold because they don’t think McClintock is electable. And Bustamante hurt himself with his low keyed arrogance. Second, the decision of the three judge panel (now overturned) reminded people that this is a kind of revolution against the arrogant establishment. I remind you that all the Demos, from Clinton on down, who came to visit California and to support Davis, will not have helped. In any case, it really is over now. Arnold will be the next governor. It will be interesting to watch the week-long spin start taking shape.

Mickey Kaus has a few good paragraphs on how the LA Times started spinning the story already when Davis started calling on Arnold to debate. Daniel Weintraub has a few more notes on all this, including the very high turnout (which is in Arnold’s favor).

Media Coverage of Iraq

Pamela Hess, UPI’s Pentagon correspondent, has a long and interesting article on this question. Here is one who doesn’t think it’s too negative (has useful links). Daniel Henninger thinks that the little stories should be the big stories. Donald Walter saw the facts for himself. Jack Kelly thinks the press distorts.

On the Ground in Iraq

As usual, Victor Davis Hanson brings good sense and good reporting regarding what is actually happening on the ground in Iraq. This is an invaluable service to counter the madness one encounters on the reporting from the mainstream national press.

Colin on Constitutions

The Washinton Times reports

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday suggested a one-year time frame for handing power to the Iraqi people — six months to write a constitution and another six months to organize and hold new elections.

I’m sure Mr. Alt has a take on this.

2nd Amendment Litigation

Dave Kopel posted a two-part piece at NRO this week for those interested in recent developments in gun-rights litigation. Part of an on-going debate over how firearms litigation ought to proceed, Kopel shows how the "fire-at-will" strategy has, well, backfired.

Piece 1 and Piece 2.  

Calls on the Do Not Call

Thanks to Howard Bashman for this.

Smoke ’em If You Got ’em

The AP reported Friday that

At the request of bar and restaurant owners, an appeals court Friday temporarily blocked an ordinance barring smoking in most public places in this city in the heart of tobacco country.

Please explain to me how a city in the nation’s #2 tobacco-growing state can even pass a smoking ban.

Government Spending

CATO’s Chris Edwards has a nice piece at FoxNews on government spending and the inability of governments to accurately predict costs and stick to budgets. 

Rumsfeld Is a "Psycopath"

...or so says Dr. Evil, er, I mean, North Korea.

Yes, these negotiations would be fun to watch if the plight of the North Korean people wasn’t so brutally sad.

Infiltrating al Qaeda

This is a book review Inside al Queda, a volume written by an Algerian Muslim journalist who posed as a terrorist sympathizer and inflitrated a Parisian al Qaeda cell. 

The 1996 assassination attempt of Uday Hussein

Peter Ford writes in the Christian Science Monitor apparently the first detailed account of the assassination attempt of Uday Hussein in 1996. Very interesting.  

Pennsylvania Senate Primary

In the battle for the U.S. Senate next year, Dems will have to defend 18 seats while Republicans will have to defend 15 seats.

Only one incumbent U.S. Senator faces a serious challenge for his party’s nomination. That’s Robert Bork’s favorite Republican Arlan Specter. Conservative Congressman Pat Toomey, 100% rating by the American Conservative Union, is challenging Specter, 50% American Conservative Union rating. Rachel DiCarlo writes in the latest ’Weekly Standard’ about that race. Specter has lined up party regulars including the White House and Rick Santorum but in a closed primary DiCarlo things Toomey has a chance. The best sign that this might be true is that Specter is already running ads attacking Toomey.

If re-elected Specter will be Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Orrin Hatch’s service as Judiciary Committee Chair will end because of Senate Rules limiting the terms of Committee Chairmen.

California polls

Daniel Weintraub reports that two Democratic polls (including one by the California Teachers Association) offer some bad news to both Governor Davis and Bustamante. For the recall: 54-40 and 54-41. And Arnold leads Bustamante in one, 31-26, with McClintock at 15; while the other has Bustamante ahead 30-29. No wonder Davis is calling on Arnold to debate him. Totall recall for Davis. Und das ist alles, baby, for Bustamante. Also note that registrations for independents are climbing, while those for Demos are falling. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the number of people registered to vote is greater now than it was for the election last November, and country registrars are predicting the highest absentee vote ever, even certainly higher than 2002, and maybe even higher than the presidential election in 2000.

Some polls

General Clark leads in Wisconsin, with 18 percent of the vote (followed by Lieberman with 14, and Dean with 13). But the highest percentage of those polled (32) were undecided. Dean leads in New Hampshire with 30 percent, according to Zogby. Kerry follows with 20 percent, and Clark with 10). Note that Lieberman has only 5 percent, and Edwards only 2 percent. In the meantime Bush’s popularity in Arizona plunges. Only 34 percent support his re-election.

Ohio ACLU outrage

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation board of directors recently selected two organizations to receive the organization’s annual Liberty’s Flame Award. One of them is the Ohio Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio). The award will be given on October 25th. CAIR is tied in very directly to radical/terrorist/Wahhabi Muslim groups, and is financed by Saudi Arabia, as this editorial in
The Findley Courier points out. This is an outrage. (via Charles Johnson)

Eurpean Union, built on sand

Paul Johnson, the eminent historian, writes in Forbes that the European Union is built on sand. The death of 10,000 elderly French is a sign of this, he argues.  

U.S. holding al-Qaida members in Iraq

Paul Bremer said that U.S. forces in Iraq are holding 19 suspected members of the al-Qaida terrorist network. The suspected al-Qaida members are among 248 non-Iraqi fighters being held by the Americans in Iraq, Bremer said in a Pentagon news conference.

Is Mel Gibson Evil?

Rabbi Daniel Lapin at National Review delivers an excellent critique of the Jewish establishment’s current outrage over Mel Gibson’s soon-to-be-released Passion. Definitely worth a read.   

Dr. Seuss in Latin

Green Eggs and Ham has been translated into Latin. There are two other Seuss books in Latin and they have sold over 60,000 copies. While I don’t think Seuss is great, I’m glad to see it selling so many copies in Latin. Somebody is making money! Good.

Economy, good news

It is being reported that GDP grew at 3.3% in the last quarter. The second-quarter pace of expansion was more than double the 1.4 percent posted in each of the two preceding quarters and was the strongest since a 4 percent advance in the third quarter last year. Expectations are that the next two quarters may grow at circa 4%.

Arnold on a roll

Debra Saunders beats up on Bustamante for his position on illegal immigrants: "He does not believe the state should distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants." This position, and his low-keyed arrogance in the debate, didn’t help him any. I have been watching the talking heads (especially the Democrats) about the California race, and just based on the spin they put on it, it is clear to me that Bustamante will not win. And Simon and Issa have endorsed Arnold, as are the GOP chairman of the 58 counties. The pressure on McClintock will now become serious. I’m waiting for the next poll. That should do it.

Maximum Steel, in 22 seconds

Space Daily is reporting that we dropped 80 JDAMS in 22 seconds, and they all hit individual targets! Interesting. "Placing maximum steel on the target is what we get paid to do as Air Force bomber pilots and that happened today in a big way," said Major William Power, 419th Flight Test Squadron B-2A project pilot.

Democratic debate (and Clark)

Andrew Sullivan has a few clear thoughts on last night’s debate. He found Clark more credible than he thought he would. William Saletan at Slate calls Clark "slick," and he had better stop. Andrew Busch explains why it is premature to declare Clark the best hope for Democrats. Busch is absolutely right that the other candidates will not give him a free pass, and that his association (tool of?) with the Clinton’s may not work to his advantage in the end. Note that
Opinion Journal
has published Clarke’s Arkansas Lincoln Day speech of 2001 in which he praises Bush and his cabinet, Reagan, et al. Worth a read.

I did not see all of the two hour long debate (how could one?) but I saw enough to see this: Clarke is slick (read opportunist), and is probably being taught to be even more slick by Clinton’s handlers. I think he had better keep the word "General" in front of his name; that will help him more than anything else he could do. Al Sharpton is the smartest and funniest of them all. He’s a delight to the ear. Howard Dean is really a very angry man, always. This guy is very unpleasant, and that will continue to be revealed as time passes. He reminds me of a dog growling at nothing. Dogs usually do that to make an impression and because they are afraid. Dean does it because it is his habit. I feel kind of sorry for Lieberman. I thought he did fine, but it doesn’t matter. Gephardt and the others are just tedious.

French deck of cards

Here is the French deck of cards, patterned after our Iraqi most wanted deck. It is put out by the guy who wrote a book on 9/11 claiming that no plane hit the Pentagon, etc. Bush is the King of Hearts, and Osama bin Laden is a Joker.

Clark notes

Matt Drudge dug up some comments by Wesley Clark on Reagan, Bush, Powell, Rumsfeld, from a speech he gave in May, 2001. They are very positive. Interesting. The Marist College Poll has Dean in the lead with 35% in New Hampshire (with Kerry has 22, and Clark at 11). Lieberman is next with 6%.

Polling on Bush

A new Zogby Poll shows Bush’s numbers climbing over the past few weeks. This, of course, seems to go against the trend in other polls. Here is the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, showing a decline, and Fox News poll, showing that his popularity is the lowest in his presidency.

Iraq should be a US led project

This is a touching--and even lovely--essay by David Warren on Bush’s UN speech and what the US is doing in Iraq, and why all this should be a US led project.  

China, top importer of weapons

China ordered $3.6 billion worth of conventional arms last year, cementing its position as the developing world’s No. 1 weapons importer, according to a U.S. Congressional Research Service. South Korea ranked second, then India, followed by Oman. The whole report, entitled, "Conventional Arms Transfers, 1995-2002," put out by the CRS can be seen here. (PDF file)

Iraq notes

The Christian Science Monitor has a story on the good progress toward self-government in northwest Iraq. The Marines have handed over Najaf province to Spanish contingent of troops. Mongolian troops (just over one hundred) arrive in Iraq. Unlike 745 years ago, they come to help build. The last time they were there, headed by the grandson of Ghengis Khan, they killed about 800,000 people in Baghdad. Interesting story, with a summary of recent Mongolian history. They were not asked to send troops, the Mongolians asked the US if they could. Mongolia needs friends. And the 5000 year oldWarka Mask was found and returned to the museum.

Guantanamo arrests

The Washington Times reports that more arrests are expected in the Guantanamo espionage charges. Two people have been arrested, one charged, and a third possibility is being discussed. I don’t claim to understand this yet, but it does seem to me that one part of the news is good: The first guy was arrested in July, but it was only announced a few days ago. This could mean that some time was taken--and information gathered from him used--to find out how broad all this is, and some more bad guys. Otherwise, this is not good news.

Clark and the Democrats

The Demos at The American Prospect are already saying that some of Clark’s early supporters are having second thoughts; they think he sold out. He is now surrounded by seasoned (read Clinton) political animals. The Boston Globe makes clear that Clark is now going into a different kind of combat, he is drawing fire, and it is not likely to stop. No more collegiality among Democrats. In the meantime, General Shelton says he will not support Clark, and engages in a bit of political assasination. Look at this:

"What do you think of General Wesley Clark and would you support him as a presidential candidate," was the question put to him by moderator Dick Henning, assuming that all military men stood in support of each other. General Shelton took a drink of water and Henning said, "I noticed you took a drink on that one!"

"That question makes me wish it were vodka," said Shelton. "I’ve known Wes for a long time. I will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues, things that are very near and dear to my heart. I’m not going to say whether I’m a Republican or a Democrat. I’ll just say Wes won’t get my vote."

Arguably this is unfair; why does he not give us the particulars? Yet, it will linger. The debate tonight should be interesting.

The California Debate

California Insider claims that no one won the debate. Perhaps that is technically true, but I disagree. If this were just an ordinary election, then, without doubt, Tom McClintock would have won the debate: Sensible, forthright, thoughtful, never petty. But this is not an ordinary election. I continue to maintain that voters will look to the outsider in this election above all others, and if they do so, they will go toward Arnold. This is not a techincal issue over so called "policy;" it is trying to find someone who is more trustworthy than the current political class. It was smart of Arnold and McClintock not to attack one another. Although over done, it was still smart of Arnold to pay attention to Huffington (even though their little shouting matches seemed quite petty, and
The New York Times
called it the "Arnold and Arianna Show") because in building her up, votes are taken away from Bustamante. The latter is boring, yet full of himself, a typical arrogant machine politician. He lost votes. Arnold was the focus, and he benefitted most from the evening. The next poll will have Arnold ahead. Also, do not believe that Gray Davis can pull this out; he cannot.

More Cloning News

A call went out on Tuesday for an international ban on reproductive human cloning. The proposal would still allow for "therapeutic cloning," an exception opposed by the U.S. and other countries, but at least the scientific community recognizes that "reproductive cloning was so dangerous - regardless of any moral qualms - that a worldwide ban was needed as soon as possible." As Britain’s Lord May observed:

Animal studies on reproductive cloning show a high incidence of foetal disorders and spontaneous abortions and of malformation and death among newborns. There is no reason to suppose that the outcome would be different in humans.

Ohio’s Concealed "Carry" Law Upheld

Striking a blow to Second Amendment and concealed-carry advocates here in Ohio, the Ohio Supreme Court today upheld the current state law governing the clandestine bearing of arms. In Klein v. Leis, the petitioners challenged a law that

broadly prohibits carrying concealed weapons, but allows persons arrested and charged for carrying a concealed weapon to win acquittal by proving one of several "affirmative defenses." Among those defenses are having "reasonable cause to fear a criminal attack" while engaged in lawful activity and working in a lawful business or occupation in which the defendant is "particularly susceptible to criminal attack."

Writing for the 5-2 majority, Jusice Pfeifer wrote,

The General Assembly has determined that prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons helps maintain an orderly and safe society. We conclude that that goal and the means used to attain it are reasonable. We hold that (the statute) does not unconstitutionally infringe the right to bear arms; there is no constitutional right to bear concealed weapons.

The upshot is: don’t carry a gun in Ohio unless someone is going to be shooting at you. A summary of the opinion is here, while the whole opinion may be read here.

Over-the-Top: Bush Hatred

Schramm and others have recently noted statements by Democrats that are simply over-the-top, grasping at strawmen,crazy caricatures of Bush and his policies. Bush seems to drive Democrats crazy.

Well, here’s the topper: Jonathan Chiat explains why I Hate George Bush in this ’New Republic’ aritcle. This guy hates ’W’ about as much as Edmund Morris had contempt for Reagan. Let’s see, he’s a cowboy, he’s cocky, he walks like guys I hated in high school. Bizarre.

Robert Bartley takes a shot at explaining why the Democrats hate Bush.

The Dems seem to be smoking the evil weed of self-destruction of late.

Speak plain English and teach the basics?

Dick Feagler, a popular columnist in these parts, writes this in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about what kindergarden students are supposed to know, according to the "educators" of Ohio. Very funny, especially because true.

A Good Game

USA Today begins this article, "Some Republicans are saying aloud something that seemed unthinkable just a few months ago: President Bush could lose next year’s election."

Let me be clear that I think this perception, fueled by the elite media, the Democrats’ attempt to latch unto something, anything--now WMD, now unilaterialism, now all-of-Iraq-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket--that will give them some traction, is a good thing. Perception in politics counts for much, and sometimes it seems as if it can take you all the way over the goal line. If Bush is going to seem vulnerable, this is the time to so seem. This had better not happen next April or May, for example. Anyone worthy of the name of analyst would have predicted a low point in Bush’s political fortunes sometime between now and the election; but no one could have predicted when that would happen. Well, here it is, or here is the perception of it. Now, let’s see how far they can carry this ball. Not as far as they think. In their enthusiastic raptures to multilateralism, their paeans to the upstanding French, their deep understanding of the ways diplomacy and war, their deep knowledge of the pessimistic nature of
Americans, these nay-sayers-of-negativism are forgetting that there is another team on the field between their driving perception and the goal post. This is a good game.

China, Chimeras and Clones

Tony Blankley explains the latest developments in embryo research. It seems the Chinese have created human-rabbit embryos from which they extracted "human" embryonic stem-cells. All part of their master-plan to lead us all to the brave new world. Blankley’s piece is worth a look.  

Are You Better Off Today Than You Were Six Months Ago?

The Washington Times reports that in a recent Gallup Poll, nearly two-thirds of Baghdad residents say removal of Saddam Hussein was worth any hardships they have endured. Only 8 percent of those question said that they believed their lives would be worse off as a result of the military campaign to remove Hussein and his leadership.

A Victory for Law

Professor Douglas Kmiec of Pepperdine Law School offers a lucid explanation of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals en banc decision, which permitted the California recall election to go forward as planned on October 7. Kmiec concludes: "The sun shines brighter on the golden republic today because in court, law prevailed over politics, and in so doing, allowed politics to have its appointed day." Well said.

We Need a Few Credible Baghdad Bobs

Freshman Democratic Congressman Jim Marshall recently returned from Iraq, and wrote this article for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that is well worth reading. In it, he asserts that the media’s jaded reports are misreporting the positive morale of the troops, and undermining a worthy cause. Here are some lengthy and notable excerpts:

Our currently stated objectives are to establish reasonable security and foster the creation of a secular, representative government with a stable market economy that provides broad opportunity throughout Iraqi society. Attaining these objectives in Iraq would inevitably transform the Arab world and immeasurably increase our future national security.

These are goals worthy of a fight, of sacrifice, of more lives lost now to save thousands, perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands in the future. In Mosul last Monday, a colonel in the 101st Airborne put it to me quite simply: "Sir, this is worth doing." No one I spoke with said anything different. And I spoke with all ranks.

But there will be more Blumbergs killed in action, many more. So it is worth doing only if we have a reasonable chance of success. And we do, but I’m afraid the news media are hurting our chances. They are dwelling upon the mistakes, the ambushes, the soldiers killed, the wounded, the Blumbergs. Fair enough. But it is not balancing this bad news with "the rest of the story," the progress made daily, the good news. The falsely bleak picture weakens our national resolve, discourages Iraqi cooperation and emboldens our enemy.

Congressman Marshall then focuses in on the scarcity of journalists providing genuine, on the scene coverage of our troops and the continuing efforts in Iraq:

During the conventional part of this conflict, embedded journalists reported the good, the bad and the ugly. Where are the embeds now that we are in the difficult part of the war, now that fair and balanced reporting is critically important to our chances of success? At the height of the conventional conflict, Fox News alone had 27 journalists embedded with U.S. troops (out of a total of 774 from all Western media). Today there are only 27 embedded journalists from all media combined. . . .

He concludes with a virtual call to journalistic arms: "We may need a few credible Baghdad Bobs to undo the harm done by our media. I’m afraid it is killing our troops." While I have quoted from the article extensively, it is worth reading in full, and deserves serious consideration.


Wesley Clark

Here is a longish profile by Evan Thomas, Newsweek, of Wesley Clark. When read carefully, the reader will discern many problematic aspects to his character and career. Once he nails down his front-of-the-pack status (by the end of this week), you will begin to hear more direct criticism from his opponents; they are not yet prepared to give up and hand him the nomination. Please notice that he has no friends.

Powell’s "Judeo-Christian" remark

Oh, oh! Colin Powell--if he has any liberal supporters left--has just lost all the others.

Another serviceman arrested for espionage

Yet another American serviceman, an interpreter (and a Muslim) at Guantanamo has been charged with espionage, according to ABC News. He was arrested in late July.

Fierce under arms, Aenas

This has turned out to be a better day than I thought it would be. I’ve been playing catch-up all day (after spending three hours at Reagan National last night; switching planes because of some mechanical problem--I don’t see why I don’t ride my bike every time I go to DC!), meeting with students, trying to watch the Pres, and so on. Yet, I have bumped into articles on Dante, and now Virgil. Robert Royal reviews a book by Eve Adler, "Vergil’s Empire: Political Thought in the Aeneid." Good review, just don’t forget the beauty offered up by Virgil.

I sing of warfare and a man at war./
From the sea-coast of Troy in early days/
He came to Italy by destiny,/
To our Lavinian western shore,/
A fugitive, this captain, buffeted/
Cruelly on land as on the sea/
By blows from powers of the air--behind them/
Baleful Juno in her sleepless rage./
And cruel losses were his lot in war,/
Till he could found a city and bring home/
His gods to Latium....

Dante’s Purgatory

"Somewhere in the netherworld, tucked between Heaven and Hell, liesPurgatory. It’s the only nondefinitive region in the afterlife, a way station, an opportunity for improvement—which is, perhaps, why I’m not revealing too much in admitting that I prefer it to the other two." This is the start of a nice short note on a new translation of Dante. It is worth a look.

Bush and the U.N.

Here is President Bush’s speech to the UN. Kofi Anan’s speech. A deeper analysis must be left for later, but for now a few notes: Bush’s speech worked. He reminded the UN what it’s supposed to be doing and thinking, and what that has to do with the war on terror. He stayed, I thought, reasonably firm on all the important issues, yet left openings for reluctant countries to come aboard in one capacity or another. My sense is that it is less important what amount they can help with or what form of assistance (train twenty Iraqi cops or two thousand) they can supply, than that they give or supply something. That this now has more domestic political ramifications than it did four months ago is true, and not inappropriate. I continue to maintain that the French are playing serious geopolitics and are mischevious and, yet, they are no yet into the deep end. They can be pulled back. And I think our diplomats (and Bush) are pulling.
All of this is affected by the perception that Iraq is in chaos (viz., CNN, NBC, et al). But it is not in chaos. That things have proven more difficult than most in the administration assumed is true, yet, things are better than they were six weeks ago. There is the frantic quality of the establishment media (now relying solely on the daily body count) added to by the equally frantic quality of the Demos who want to be president (and Senator Kennedy, who can never be). They are too screechy and too hopeful of bad news. This is now combined with the taste of blood from the most recent Gallup Poll showing both Kerry and Clark beating Bush. The next two weeks should reveal whether or not their frenzied rhetoric will continue to be able to play in Peoria. I don’t think so for two reasons: First, the facts on the ground will have to become more clear, to Bush’s advantage; second, Bush and his people are not yet fighting back, rhetorically, but they will; but probably not for many weeks, by the way. This will be (by the standards of the last few months) a much more drawn-out political battle in that will take about six months, and then it will take yet another form, for the actual campaign season. Here is Dick Morris’ short take on Clark’s rise and Bush’s "crash," even though I disagree with him when he says that Clark will be unable to win the primary. The fact that Clark went to the top of the Demo pack just days after he announced is the clearest indication that the Demo pack (pre-Clark) hasn’t been able to get off the starting block. Hence anything new is better, even an unknown like Clark. Clark’s rise says more about the intellectual deficit of the Demos, than it does about Bush’s vulnerability.

The recall is on again

Here is the full Ninth Circuit decision. It’s unanimous (despite the vast majority of the judges being Democratic appointees) and they harken back, simplyt and correctly to the California constitution. Good call. Now we have two weeks left. The odds are still that Davis will be out; the only real question is whether Bustamante will win because the republicans split the vote between Arnold and McClintock. Weaker odds have it that either Arnold or McClintock will drop out a few days after the debate, depending on the polls. Wouldn’t it be nice is someone did something unselfish in politics?

Defining Humanhood

An interesting discussion among researchers and ethicists continues to percolate on the subject of human embryo experiments. Parthenogenesis (literally, "virgin birth") is a process by which "an egg is finessed into developing without the help of sperm," thereby creating an unfertilized "human" embryo. Researchers looking to experiment on human embryos claim that parthenogenetically created embryos may alleviate religious and ethical concerns about human embryo destruction, which is to say, they regard such embryos as not human. (Currently, U.S. law does not agree.) This, of course, leads one to ask how ought we to define and consider the unfertilized but now developing human embryo? A particular mantra has been been "life begins at conception." What happens when conception does not occur?

Recent findings and a synopsis of the debate are reported here.

A Budding New PAC?

Frustrated by the climate on Capitol Hill, it seems stem-cell research advocates will turn to the ’04 presidential candidates in pushing their research agenda. Proving once again that science should never get in the way of good politics, er, something like that.

Political invective needed

Eric Gibson bemoans the death of good political invective. Examples: Churchill said that Clement Atlee is "A sheep in sheeps clothing." In 1856, Massachusetts Sen. Charles Sumner called Illinois’s Stephen Douglas a "noisome, squat and nameless animal." Henry Clay was described by an adversary as "a being so brilliant yet so corrupt, which, like a rotten mackerel by moonlight, shines and stinks." Terry McAuliffe the other day said that Bush’s statements on the war are "ludicrous and insane." This will not do.

McWhorter on Jason Blair

John McWhorter comments on Jason Blair and his to be published book, "Burning Down My Master’s House." McWhorter is clear and hard. Sample: "The truth is that Mr. Blair is demonstrating a strain of modern American race ideology more pernicious than many realize. For blacks before the mid-1960s, decrying racism stemmed from sincere grievance. But for far too many blacks today, it has drifted into a recreational crutch, assuaging the insecurity at the heart of the human soul. A sad keystone of human nature is the balm of feeling superior. Gossip is a relatively innocuous manifestation; fashioning oneself as eternally battling a white America mired in ’racism’ is a more noisome one."

New Europe on Cuba

If you don’t think there is any difference between the New Europe and the Old, check out this letter to the editor by the former presidents of Hungary (Goncz), Czech Republic (Havel), and Poland (Walesa), on what Europe’s policy should be toward Cuba. Hardball.

The state of the war

Victor Davis Hanson is good, very good. In this piece for NRO he compares our current situation in Iraq with the summer of 1864. Read it all, but this will give the flavor: "We are near the end of such a pivotal summer ourselves, the type that defines not just a presidency, but an entire nation for generations to come. After the spectacular victories in Afghanistan and Iraq, public ardor for the conflict is temporarily cooling. Because of the past recession, the effects of 9/11, the tax cuts, and the cost of the war, we are running up billions in projected annual budget deficits. Our own McClellans and contemporary Copperheads deride the president as a miserable failure cheek by jowl with major newspapers."

And then check out how nicely Michael Barone takes apart the establishment media’s war coverage. Richard Butler, the former UN weapons inspector, speaking in Atlantic City, said that it doesn’t matter whether or not WMD are found; Saddam had them, "I held some in my own hands." The overthrow of Saddam was justified, he says.

Defense spending

Phil Carter has a few interesting thoughts on some problems we are having in Iraq, including communications and some other things that the military doesn’t have, and should. This then leads him into questioning some of the administrations’ priorities in defense spending. He concludes: "When the FY2005 National Defense Authorization Act comes to Congress, I think it’s high time we asked tough questions about where the Pentagon is putting its money. Do we really need to spend all this money on future transformation right now, with so much of our force stuck in Iraq? Shouldn’t we put more money into current operations, considering that we already have a 1-generation technology edge on our allies (e.g. Britain), let alone our enemies? $400 billion is a lot of money for defense, but it goes quickly when you spend $10 billion here and there for big programs like missile defense. I think we ought to spend more on our soldiers, sergeants and lieutenants, where the rubber meets the road."

BBC on the ropes

Even the BBC admits that it is worthy of criticism in the Gilligan-Kelly matter. The inquiry into
death of former weapons inspector David Kelly revealed that Gilligan, the BBC reporter, had a "slip of the tongue" when he claimed the government had inserted the 45-minute claim "knowing it was wrong". Dr Kelly had not said that, Gilligan had simply inferred it. In other words, he

simply made the thing up, it turns out. Here is some more info on it if you are interested in following the details. I, for one, have seen enough. I’ll just be interested in seeing the final spin that is put on it.

Scnadinavia turns away from socialism?

Eli Lehrer and Jeremy Hildreth write two good short pieces on the subject, one more generally on the Scandinavian countries and the other focusing on Estonia (one is below the other). I have spent some time in Estonia in the years just after the fall, and I can tell you that these Estonians are very good people (although they ought to work on their sense of humor!). Many hopeful signs here.   

Jimmy Carter encouraged Dean and Clark

CNN reports that Jimmy Carter said this: "Just two candidates have asked my opinion about whether they should run for president or not, and I’ve advised both of them to become candidates, and he’s [Clark] one of them." He identifed the other as former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. In an interesting interview with The New York Times

Clark said that he "would have supported the Congressional resolution that authorized the United States to invade Iraq" but, on the other hand, he also said of Howard Dean’s opposition to the war: "I think he’s right. That in retrospect we should never have gone in there." This is a bit confusing. And
USA Today reports this: "Wesley Clark’s presidential campaign said he would participate in a Democratic presidential debate Thursday, then quickly backtracked, angering party officials and drawing criticism from his primary rivals." This doesn’t indicate a strong start for his campaign.

McClintock’s virtues

George Will writes very clearly about both the Ninth Circuit decision and the candidacy of Tom McClintock. I saw McClintock on C-Span the other day--I think it was a debate with the "blazingly undistinguished" (as Will calls him) Bustamante and a few others--and it was absolutely clear that McClintock is the superior candidate. He was the professor and the others were the flailing students. Here is Will: "Only one California candidate, State Sen. Tom McClintock, is, like Thatcher, a ’conviction politician’ prepared to discipline the nanny state. He has a Thatcherite charm deficit but -- perhaps these attributes are related -- determination to summon California, as Thatcher summoned Britain, up from infantilism.

He has her determination to revive what she called ’the vigorous virtues’ -- entrepreneurship, deferral of gratification, individual initiative, personal responsibility in making appetites conform to resources. Together these aptitudes can be called adulthood."

Wesley Clark essay

This is an essay by Wesley Clark from the September 2002 edition of The Washington Monthly. It is not impressive. It would seem that if he were president the war in Afghanistan (never mind Iraq) would not have taken place. Andrew Sullivan crushes it in five hundred words.

The silence about illegal immigration

Victor Davis Hanson calls for public conversation about the very large problem of illegal immigration. Along the way he chastizes both the libertarian right and the Latino elites for demanding de facto open borders. "The former prefer paying cheap wages to a perennial supply of hard-working unskilled laborers who live in the shadows of civic life, and cannot organize due to their illegal status. The latter see political capital in a large bloc of unassimilated potential voters who require group rather than individual representation."  

Clark-Hillary 2004?

Peter Lawler writes a fine piece on Wesley Clark. It was posted at NRO this morning, but I missed it, sorry. (I took a nap this afternoon, feeling simply awful). While he essentially agrees with me that Clark will blow everyone out of the water, including the Bobo candidate Howard Dean, he adds a nice twist about Hillary. It is entirely possible. Please read it all.   

A True American

Vernon Loeb writes a story about Army Spec. Hilario Bermanis’ becoming an American citizen: "Army Spec. Hilario Bermanis officially became an American yesterday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, proudly raising his right arm to take the oath of citizenship. It is the only limb he came back with from Iraq."   

Anti-abortion Legislation on the Move

UPI reports that the Senate is sending its version of a partial-birth abortion ban to the House for approval and/or modification. Speculation is that the President will have something to sign this fall.

Cockeyed Clark

Now that we have General Clark--you know, the first in his class at West Point Clark-- in the race, it might be wise to stay abreast of some of his thinking. So I have established a new category called "Cockeyed Clark." And this is the first installment. I bet there will be more. Note what he said on Meet the Press on June 15, 2003:

"The Bush tax cuts weren’t fair. The people that need the money and deserve the money are the people who are paying less, not the people who are paying more. I thought this country was founded on a principle of progressive taxation. In other words, it’s not only that the more you make, the more you give, but proportionately more because when you don’t have very much money, you need to spend it on the necessities of life."

A freshman asked me this morning if we could have a conversation sometime about what the differences are between the Republican and Democratic parties, since she wasn’t really sure. This may be a good place to start: Now what was that principle that this country was founded upon? Yup, that’s it, progressive taxation. Just in case anyone doubts that Clark is a Democrat.

Here is the full text. (Thanks to Eugene Volokh)

Report from Syria

Here is a report from Syria by a musician on tour. What’s it like? How are Americans thought of? What’s the difference beytween now and last year? What about Iraq? This is not a CNN report. Good read. (Thanks to InstaPundit).  

Wesley Clark’s Candidacy

We should always be prepared to be surprised in politics, yet, somehow, we never are. Gen. Wesley Clark’s entry into the Democratic campaign is very significant. The crop of nine dry-as-dust candidates have been nuked. The only one that will surive is Howard Dean, and he may not. It’s a new world for the Democrats, and I am confident that they are all losing sleep (as well as many staffers who will have shifted to Clark). This is a terrifying time for them. Except for Dean, they have not been able to engage the imagination of Democrats. Their petty poll numbers, and the lack of movement in those numbers, have been the scientific indication of an already well known fact: The nine are seen to be awkward, petty, slippery, and utterly uninspiring. The pudding has had no theme. Now it does. Clark has the authority that all of them have lacked. Furthermore, and this is no small point, it has become crystal clear in the last few days that Hillary and Bill are pushing Clark.

John Fund understands this. And, let’s face it, Bill Clinton is a giant among the current crop of pygmies. (In fact, there is no Democrat anywhere in the country that is anywhere near his equal. The only people who could have displaced his authority are Gore and Liebermann, and they failed). He dominates. Bill will continue to re-define the Democratic Party. He not only has the Party apparatus, now the candidate. And he is the one that can get the money. As John Fund notes, even if Clark doesn’t get elected president, Bush will not trounce him, as he would Dean. That will leave the Democratic Party in better shape for Hillary’s candidacy in 2008. And, in the unlikely case that Clark becomes president, the Clinton’s would be sitting in the front row. Even the New York Times story on Clark’s announcement understands something of the Clinton connection. I also understand that there are questions about Clark. Richard Cohen dwells on the fact that he is not likeable as a person: he is self-centered, brash, driven, hard on subordinates, and so on. He has no friends, so to speak. Well, Gore was no different, and he almost became president. But Gore wasn’t respected, and Clark is. That is sufficient, especially relative to Dean and the other eight, now, former Democratic candidates.

Lileks on Administration Critics

James Lileks has some characteristically poignant and witty comments in his daily "Bleat" regarding critics of the administration’s foreign policy. A sample:

...the same people who chide America for its short-attention span think we should have stopped military operations after the Taliban was routed. (And they quite probably opposed that, for the usual reasons.) The people who think it’s all about oil like to snark that we should go after Saudi Arabia. The people who complain that the current administration is unable to act with nuance and diplomacy cannot admit that we have completely different approaches for Iraq, for Iran, for North Korea. The same people who insist we need the UN deride the Administration when it gives the UN a chance to do something other than throw rotten fruit.

Ackerman on the Ninth Circuit

Bruce Ackerman, to his credit (he’s very liberal and went overboard on Bush v. Gore in 2000), sees right through the Ninth Circuit’s ruling on the recall, and shows how they are wrong in arguing that it is similar in any way to the Florida case. He claims, rightly, that "The present decision attacks states’ rights at their very core."

Oath of Allegiance change on hold

A few weeks ago I commented on the suggested change for the Oath of Allegiance: I was opposed to it, still am. Today’s Washington Times states that the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services has withdrawn the proposed change. They claim that the changes were just being discussed in private, and they haven’t decided on anything yet. That’s fine, I accept that explanation. Yet, I am willing to bet, the public outcry about the proposed change (which was to go into effect today) may have had something to do with it. Former Attorney General Ed Meese wrote a very good letter objecting to the changes a week ago. Thanks, General Meese!

Dark Art of Interrogation

This is an interview with Mark Bowden (author of Black Hawk Down). It has to do with his lengthy article in the current issue of Tha Atlantic called, "The Dark Art of Interrogation." Alas, the article is not available on line, but very much worth reading (I read it on dead trees at the Atlanta airport). Very informative on what methods of interrogation of terrorists are, including "torture light."

Constitution Day

On September 17, 1787 the Constitutional Convention met for the last time to sign the document they had created. They sent it on to the people in the several states for ratification and September 17th has been called, ever since, Constitution Day. The Ashbrook Center celebrates the great event by having a distinguished person reflect on some aspect of the Constitution. Tonight’s speaker will be the Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, Thomas Moyer. He will speak at 7:30 P.M. and you can listen to it live by clicking here.

Johnny Cash

Cal Thomas has a nice piece on Johnny Cash in The Baltimore Sun. "Typical Mr. Cash: honest, unpretentious, a man comfortable with anyone, from the powerful to the incarcerated. He had a face not to be looked at so much as to be studied. Like rings tell the age of a tree, each line on his face was part of a life story.

Mr. Cash hid little. He spoke openly about his wrestling matches with temptation. Some he’d won, others he’d lost. And he spoke unashamedly about the faith those stagehands mocked. He told me of his daily commitment based on Psalm 19:14: ’Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.’"

Wesley Clark

Mac Owens takes the first shot at Gen. Clark, since he will announce today. He quickly covers his virtues and vices as a military commander (and takes some good shots at the Clinton administration’s handling of foreign policy). More on Clark later. Yet I need to go out on a limb. So I predict this: He will enliven the campaign like no one else could (save Hillary) and it will end up to be a struggle between Clark and Dean, with Lieberman struggling to hold on to third position. Furthermore, this will become very clear with the first national polls that include Clark. And that should be within days. It is one of the ironies in politics that the day after Edwards formally announces, he is, in effect, finished. I bet he is not amused.

Howard Fineman thinks that Clark is getting a lot of support from the Demo elites, including many former Clintonistas, because he is the only one who can stop Dean. Clark is the un-Dean candidate. Indeed, The Washington Times reports that he is running at the urging of Bill Clinton.

David Frum thinks that Clark is the wrong candidate. Clark sums up the illusions and errors of the 1990’s, including his military campaign in Kosovo which "was based on an unending series of errors." Here is the WaPo profile of Clark. It’s pretty informative.

A Judge in Iraq

A friend had sent me this speech by a Judge Don Walters, a retired federal judge, who had been a member of a 12 man team sent to Iraq to evaluate their justice system. I wasn’t sure if it was real, started looking into it, and discovered that Glenn Reynolds had tracked it down, and it is for real. A good read, especially if you had been inclined to be opposed to the Iraq war, as Judge Walters was, until his trip, that is.

Update on the Ninth Circuit

Rick Hasen, whose Election Law blog provides excellent information--albeit from a liberal viewpoint--reports that Judge Thomas has requested the parties to submit briefs by 2 p.m. PDT tomorrow discussing whether this case should be heard by an 11 judge panel of the Ninth Circuit. This does not prevent the parties from seeking a stay of the order from Justice O’Connor, who is the circuit justice, or from asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. Anyone who doubts the capacity of the Supremes to take a case away from an en banc court need look no further than last year’s University of Michgan case, in which the Supreme Court decided to hear the undergrad case while a decision was pending before an en banc panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

That said, I will offer a couple of predictions. One, the Supreme Court really doesn’t want to have to deal with this case, so I predict that they will let the Ninth Circuit try to clean up its own mess. Two, the motion for stay which will inevitably be filed with O’Connor will be forwarded to the full court for a poll of all nine justices. She does not need to do so, but it is common practice in these high profile cases. How the court decides the stay issue is not dispositive of how they view the case, but it will provides some interesting tea leaves for court watchers to read.

And Then There Were 10 . . .

CNN is reporting that Wesley Clark will announce his presidential candidacy on Wednesday. At the very least, this will make the campaign much more interesting.

Bottom of the Ninth

Robert Alt has produced the must read article on the Ninth Circuit’s opinion on the California recall election. It makes clear many things, including the difference between the grounds of this decision and the Supremes in Bush v. Gore, which the Ninth Circuit claims to be in line with. All this is truly extraordinary and amazing and Alt understands the details, as well as the consequences should the Supremes not take it up. Please read.     

On the corruption of the press

John Burns of the New York Times writes in Editor and Publisher about the corruption of the press, especially as it relates to Saddam and how reporters, for their own interest, hid the truth. Andrew Sullivan has commented on it. The whole thing is worth reading, but here are a few good paragraphs:

"Terror, totalitarian states, and their ways are nothing new to me, but I felt from the start that this was in a category by itself, with the possible exception in the present world of North Korea. I felt that that was the central truth that has to be told about this place. It was also the essential truth that was untold by the vast majority of correspondents here. Why? Because they judged that the only way they could keep themselves in play here was to pretend that it was okay.

There were correspondents who thought it appropriate to seek the approbation of the people who governed their lives. This was the ministry of information, and particularly the director of the ministry. By taking him out for long candlelit dinners, plying him with sweet cakes, plying him with mobile phones at $600 each for members of his family, and giving bribes of thousands of dollars. Senior members of the information ministry took hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes from these television correspondents who then behaved as if they were in Belgium. They never mentioned the function of minders. Never mentioned terror.

In one case, a correspondent actually went to the Internet Center at the Al-Rashid Hotel and printed out copies of his and other people’s stories -- mine included -- specifically in order to be able to show the difference between himself and the others. He wanted to show what a good boy he was compared to this enemy of the state. He was with a major American newspaper."

Reclaiming the Title

I should have an article up tomorrow talking about the Ninth Circuit’s opinion. Suffice it to say, the court applies an overly broad reading of Bush v. Gore, and creates a nebulous standard which would seem to place ever increasing obligations on the state.

More importantly, this seems to be the Ninth Circuit’s attempt to make clear that the Florida Supreme Court was just a flash in the pan, and to reclaim their rightful title as the real extremist court. The decision brings to mind the Simpson’s episode in which the family does a modified version of Hamlet. When a character begins to act out of sorts, Lisa, playing Ophelia, proclaims: "No one out-crazies Ophelia!" So with the Ninth Circuit.

Recalling the Recall . . . For Now

Looks like the California Recall is off until a sufficient number of voting precincts can assure a reliable means of voting to the citizens of California. The plaintiffs are asking for a six-month postponement, i.e., forget the special election and simply hold the recall at the next regularly scheduled election. See details in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion released today.

Here’s the opening paragraph:

On October 7, 2003, California voters will be asked to cast a ballot on some
of the most important issues facing the State, including an unprecedented vote on
the recall of a governor. However, forty-four percent of the electorate will be
forced to use a voting system so flawed that the Secretary of State has officially
deemed it “unacceptable” and banned its use in all future elections. The inherent
defects in the system are such that approximately 40,000 voters who travel to the polls and cast their ballot will not have their vote counted at all. Compounding the problem is the fact that approximately a quarter of the state’s polling places will not be operational because election officials have insufficient time to get them ready for the special election, and that the sheer number of gubernatorial candidates will make the antiquated voting system far more difficult to use.

Gay and Infectious in London

The BBC reports that gay men in England are intentionally exposing themselves the HIV as a "badge of honor." According to a study conducted by researchers at Brunel University,

"The prevalence of HIV in the UK among men who have sex with other men continues to rise and, in part, this can be attributed to the fact that HIV is being transmitted with a deliberate recklessness in the backrooms of London’s pubs, clubs and saunas . . . .

There is a tendency for some men to say ’now I’m HIV positive, I am truly gay’. They want to get into that caring more supportive world and the acquisition of a diagnosis is obviously going to help them do that."

Another reason to legalize gay marriage, just watch.

Kentucky Homicide?

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that the Kentucky legislature is pushing forward on a "fetal homicide" measure that "would define a fetus as a person from the moment of conception and let police charge people with homicide for recklessly or intentionally terminating a pregnancy." It is being met with the usual cadre of opposition, but has an unusual amount of Democratic support this time, and both gubanatorial candidates back the bill.

Lamb Chops

CNN reports that England’s PPL Therapeutics, the biotech firm that brought us Dolly, has just been put on the block. The report notes:

The move is a fresh blow to Europe’s struggling biotech industry, which has achieved only a fraction of the success of its U.S. counterpart, and highlights the difficulty companies face in making money from scientific breakthroughs.

Just another example of why the United States need not yet fear the much dreaded "biotech brain-drain" that human cloning proponents predict every time a call is made for anti-cloning regulations.

Clinton rising, Rumsfeld fading

I have returned from Atlanta, but down with a cold or something equally debilitating. I flatter myself in repeating what Leonato says to Antonia in Much Ado About Nothing: "There was never yet philosopher/That could endure the tootache patiently." I’m going home in a few minutes, after a visit to the doctor (Vicki thinks I have pnemounia). The two paragraphs below were sent to me by a significant person, whom I shall call Bolingbroke. It is both perceptive and well written and, alas, seems true.

I have been watching television. I have seen Clinton in operation at an event in Iowa? with Harkin and some Demo candidates for president and then at Los Angeles’s AME something or other Church with Gray Davis present (live on Sunday). The man is rolling. He is better than he has ever been. He is utterly confident--disgustingly so, to one of certian persuasions, of course--more drawlingly folksy than ever, full of hogs and swill imagery, brilliantly and viciously partisan, painting the Democrats as pragmatic middle of the roaders favoring prosperity for everybody, and Republicans as captives of Big Business, a self-conscious celebrity, the obviously most important person in the room--or in the field--offering gratitude to everyone who had ever been associated with him--that is everyone--stirring energy and confidence in the crowd, as no one present could do. He alone is proof of the potency of the Democrat challenge; he will be everywhere, in California and elsewhere, where Democrats regroup in the coming months.

And I saw Donald Rumsfeld, in a tape of a September 10 or thereabouts national press club gig. The man has aged. He appears an old man as he never has, not in his appearance so obviously, as in the public workings of his famous mind. Self-doubt has crept in, as it should do in those who recognize that their faculties, on which they have relied confidently all their lives, are beginning to fail them. Private prediction--he has already put in for retirement and is waiting for the first graceful opportunity to effect it. Quiverings of uncertainty will shimmer throughout the administration and the public and will be readily recognized by our enemies. Handling his replacement will be a delicate and important part of the next stage of the administration’s ensuring all concerned that it is a ship on an even keel.

More on The Man in Black

While Schramm and I have disagreed before on the subject of country music, I must join in his well-deserved praise of Johnny Cash. At 71, Cash was nominated for--of all things--an MTV video award. In fact, he received the second highest number of nominations of any artist. The particular video which received such acclaim was the Man in Black’s rendition of "Hurt," a remake of a Nine Inch Nails song. He lost the award for best Male artist video of the year to Justin Timberlake in a decision which clarified that I have very little in common with the MTV set.

Cash’s video is haunting, telling the story of a broken man as only Cash could. It is interspersed with clips of Cash throughout his career. For those who have not seen it, the video is worth a look. You can stream it from Amazon at high speed here and for 56k dial up here.  

Johnny Cash

I’m off to Atlanta this morning (back late Sunday) but I had to bring this to your attention. The man in black has died. I have been listening to Johnny Cash ever since I can remember and I have always liked his songs, and have thought of him as a characteristically American man. Honest and solid, one who wore his loves and hates on his sleeve. He always gave the impression of depth and solitude. He knew what it meant to shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die; what it meant for the law and the killer’s soul. I hope he lands on the right side of the line. R.I.P.

The world-wide war on terror

Doug Sanders writes in the Toronto Globe and Mail that there is much that is going on in what he calls the Fourth World War, the international war on terror, that is not quite visible. He expands on a few of these, including the case of Djibouti, on the horn of Africa. Interesting. 

Iraqi public opinion survey

Karl Zinsmeister reports on the first scientific opinion polling in Iraq. And, you shouldn’t be all that surprised, the poll found that the Iraqis are pretty sensible, glad we are there, and so on. Not long, read the whole thing, then watch Dan Rather and CNN tonight to see what they want you to think.

Arnold on O’Reilly

Rich Lowry at The Corner has some thoughts on Arnold’s ten minute or so interview with O’Reilly last night. I saw maybe about half of it, and I agree with Lowry: it was a silly performance, embarassing; I thought the guy was smoking something, he couldn’t stop talking and what he said was mostly silly. If this is an indication of how his mind and mouth really works, he should drop out of the race. Here is Lowry:

"I thought he was laughably bad last night-literally. He seemed faintly ridiculous, very uptight and very committed to his platitudes. When he implausibly said-twice-that his feelings were hurt by being dis-invited to that Hispanic event, I couldn’t help snickering. His answer about running his Hummer on hydrogen-or whatever he was trying to say-was inadvertently funny. And his ’I still have to study border control’ answer to the question about militarizing the border may have worked a couple of weeks ago, but he really needs to have answers to important policy questions. Maybe my judgment’s off because I’m a jaded pundit, but he doesn’t seem to have advanced any from the level of his ’Tonight Show’ performance, and may be getting worse..."

A Dean and Wesley Clark marriage?

The Washington Post reports that Howard Dean has asked Wesley Clark to be his running mate, should Clark decide not to run. Paul Bedard notes that Democratic Party operatives would love Clark to run, McAullife said: "It would be very good for the Democratic Party to have a four-star general traveling around the country." I am still betting that Clark gets in the race.

Do not despair

Ralph Peters also reflects on the war, and what victory and defeat may mean. He leans toward understanding this war as never-ending, in the same sense in which the fight against crime is never ending. Maybe. But he is right in saying that we should avoid despair, "the preferred narcotic of the intellectual classes," and avoid thinking that our victory thus far will have perfect results. 

Battle joined, outcome in doubt

George Friedman of Stratfor writes a few good pages entitled, "Two Years of War." I pass it along because it is thoughtful, not necessarily because I agree with it. And also because Stratfor is a pay site and only rarely can I pass something on to one and all. This is one of those times; their analyses are always interesting. Worth two or three strong anti-pessimistic brews. Remember, wars are always in doubt, even if you are now winning, until you win.   

Rumsfeld interview

Secreteray of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was interviewed by JIm Lehrer on PBS yesterday. There are some notable paragraphs:

DONALD RUMSFELD: I think so. I think we’ve had to face the vulnerabilities that are there for the 21st century. And they weren’t there in that way for us. With these two big oceans and friends North and South, we’ve had a rather protected, safe environment. With terrorists being able to get access to jet airplanes and laptops and wire transfers and all kinds of electronics, with the proliferation of technologies that relate to a chemical and biological and radiation weapons and you look forward and you think, that’s going to be a quite different world, there are two or three terrorist states that are potentially going to be nuclear powers in the next three or four, five, eight, ten, twelve years. That creates a different environment that we’re going to be living in.

JIM LEHRER: How about here?

DONALD RUMSFELD: I think that people have registered that. They’re concerned for their safety. We are free people. We don’t want to live in fear. We don’t want to be terrorized. We know there’s no way to defend against it. The only way to deal with it is to go after the terrorists where they are. We’re killing, capturing terrorists in Iraq which is a... Baghdad today which is a whale of a lot better than Boise.

Other thoughts on 9/11

Andrew Sullivan has a good paragraph, and then one that he wrote on this day two years ago. Lawrence Kaplan of The New Republic thinks that we had better not revert to a 9/10 kind of normalcy. John Podhoretz explains why we fight. President Bush’s speech at the National Cathedral on September 14th, 2001 is worth re-reading.

Two years ago today

It’s been two years. We awoke as if from a deep dream. The post-Cold War petty issues of the Clinton years turned into dust, as did many human bones in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. Life became serious again when we realized that there were people out there willing to attack and kill us because of who we are. Perhaps we should have realized that earlier, perhaps we should have even noted it after the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Never mind that for now. We do know it now and we know it because of what happened on September 11, 2001. The horror, the blood and dust, and death. And then the heroism and then the calculated response. Do not let the current politics, the current disgareement over means in the war against terror, allow this massive fact to be made less clear. Let us dispute how we make war on our enemies tomorrow. Today let us remember the event, and let our proper anger be channelled into trying mightily to prevent its recurrence. Let us renew our faith that right makes might and rededicate ourselves to the great task before us, that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth. And may the honored dead rest in peace.

Ken Blackwell speaks

Ohio’s Secretary of State Ken Blackwell will speak today at the Ashbrook Center. If you click on his name you can listen to it live. It begins at 12:30. He will be speaking on religious freedom.

Edward Teller

Edward Teller has died at the age of 95. I noted a few months ago that he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. May this good man Rest in Peace.

Why is Howard Dean doing so well?

Andrew Busch explains why Howard Dean is the hot commodity among Democrats in the presidential race. This does not surprise Busch, and it shouldn’t surprise us. He is the only plausible Democrat running from outside Congress; he is also the only candidate who has successfully tapped into the "angry Democrat," perhaps the pivotal figure of the Democratic race; and he stands unequivocally against the war in Iraq, and thereby is able to take advantage of the budding anti-war movement that had developed before the war, but was squashed (temporarily) by our quick victory. A good read.  

Clinton’s wife and his general and the lesser Democrats

Sorry that I couldn’t blog yesterday, we had some technical difficulties, now fixed. Note this NY Times report of the widely anticipated meeting of Hillary and her staff about her future. There were about 150 people attending the meeting. Very revealing and very slippery stuff. It would seem that she is not simply out of the picture for even 2004. Especially note this remark by Bill Clinton that was overheard by a reporter. This is very revealing, and the sentiment shouldn’t surprise anyone. "During cocktails in the back yard, one group heard former President Bill Clinton say that the national Democratic Party had "two stars": his wife, the junior senator from New York, and a retired general, Wesley K. Clark, who is said to be considering a run for the presidential nomination." Do you want to bet this would be a good ticket?

In the meantime the lesser nine debated again, with Al Sharpton showing his cleverness and wit and all of them showing their hatred of President Bush. It is very dangerous to attack the president as if he were an incompetent, an idiot, a fool, and one who is incapable of making good decisions on anything. This is not only demagoguery, but it is terrible imprudent: it is not a sentiment that you can refine. They are painting themselves into a box. Bill Buckley has some thoughts on this. Here is the Washington Post report on the debate. No wonder that Hillary is thinking and that Bill’s general is prepared to continue public service in another form. Here is a story out of South Carolina on how Clark’s entry into the race would shake up the current competitors. And, not unrelated to Clark (he is from Arkansas), Zell Miller is warning that the Democrats are losing the South.

How to avoid disaster in Iraq

David Forte writes a fine and thoughtful piece on our efforts at political consolidation in Iraq: "There have been a series of unexpected surprises, no one of which carries weight in itself, but taken in sum, they are slowing and even endangering the movement for political consolidation." Forte looks at the whole picture, negatives and positives, and concludes that we must maintain the political and military initiative. Very good read.  

The Costs of War

USA Today has a front page article with this not-so-short title: "Monthly costs of Iraq, Afghan wars approach that of Vietnam Missions’ tabs expand deficit but are still less than 1% of U.S. economy." The point is this, according to the piece: "The monthly bill for the U.S. military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan now rivals Pentagon spending during the Vietnam War, Defense Department figures show." In Vietnam we spent $494 billion during the eight years between 1964 to 1972 (in current dollars, adjusted for inflation; it was actually $111), for an average of $61.8 billion per year. We are now averaging $5 billion per month, "a pace that would bring yearly costs to almost $60 billion." Does this mean anything, because I can feel my feet squishing into a quagmire?

A few paragraphs later the panicked reader finds this out: it turns out that the Vietnam war amounted to
"about 12% of the size of the economy, while now, the costs [in Iraq] are equal to only about 0.5% of the economy, according to Steve Kosiak, a budget analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments." I wonder what percentage of the economy the Korean war ate up, or World War II? I bet the latter was over 100% of GDP.

Wesley Clark on Chris Matthews

I saw five minutes of Chris Matthews’ interview of Gen. Wesley Clark. The conversation revolved around Bush’s speech, Iraq, and the war on terror. Clark was vehement in his criticism of almost everything the administration has done: Iraq shouldn’t have happened, took away from the war on terror; we need more troops in Iraq; we were utterly unprepared for what would follow the war; we shouldn’t have gone alone; we have created more terrorists than there would have been without Iraq; there is no policy, no strategy. It was pretty comprehensive. At one point he said something like this (paraphrase, but close), "This administration thought that going into the Middle East would like playing hop-scotch, that they would just hop from one country to another, as they pleased." He was clear and vehement. The president, in short, is a miserable failure. Not exactly the tight-lipped and careful commentary on CNN that we got used to. If he is not going to run for president, I’ll eat my Irish hat. On the other hand, it is possible that he is running for secretary of state.

Bush’s Speech

Here is last night’s speech in full. I thought the speech was sober and workman-like and full of constancy, unflinching and optimistic. It was a good speech. These were things he had to say considering: 1) the bashing he has been taking from both the media and the Demos; 2) that things in Iraq are a little tougher militarily than we had hoped they would be; 3) that the rebuilding effort in Iraq is really a building effort, the infrastructure was in much worse shape than we knew, the darn thing was held together by band-aids; 4) that Iraq is part of the effort to fight terror world-wide. I also liked the fact that he asked for more money, and was specific about it. The fact that he didn’t ask for more troops is probably because he is waiting to see how the UN gambit works out; if it doesn’t, I am betting he’ll ask for some more troops.

It seems to me that those of us who are generally supportive of the administration with regard to the war effort at least, ought to keep in mind that the hits he takes from his political opponents (and from the elite media, who only report body counts) is par for the course. As Winston said, when there is a great deal of free speech, there is always a certain amount of foolish speech. This is to be expected, even if it is irritating. It is especially irritating when it slips from one thing to the next, now it’s you haven’t found bin Laden, now it’s a quagmire, now it’s not enough troops, now it’s no WMD’s, now it’s no uranium from Africa, now it’s a quagmire, now it’s being unilateral, now it’s not being able to do anything about the Palestinian-Israeli problem, now it’s a quagmire, now it’s you are an incompetent idiot, now it’s we can’t trust you, and, by the way, you are spending much-too-much money on the war, and the economy is in a depression, you are the worst president since Hoover, and so on. You get the drift: criticism, always tending toward despair. Now, if you are a GOP party guy only interested in Bush’s re-election, I don’t think this should worry you. This tactical uncertainty (and lack of strategic insight) on the part of his opponents shows they have no idea what’s going on, and, even more important, they would not know what to do if they were in charge. I am not worried about them. Those that speak breathe despair with every other breath do not prosper. What should concern the rest of us, is whether or not the administration is doing the right things regarding the war. Have they made the right decisions, and are they carrying them out? What should we be willing to give up, if anything, in order to get some UN support? On such matters, we can get into large disputations, and we should. In the meantime, I see no reason why W. and his people shouldn’t be trusted. They know we are at war, and this is serious. Sometimes their stern and mostly thoughtful view doesn’t get through the clutter. I think it did last night, and the President’s view may be authoritative again for another week or so; until another death in Iraq indicates--at least to his strategically dull tactical adversaries--that maybe we are in a quagmire and are already spending as much on this war as we spent on Vietnam, never mind World War II. And then something new will happen and his opponents will re-calibrate their tactical rhetoric again. And we’ll do it all over. Isn’t this fun?

Arnold the foreigner

Daniel Weintraub whips Gray Davis for saying this about Arnold: "You shouldn’t be governor unless you can pronounce the name of the state." In one good paragraph Weintraub explains, if effect, why there should be a recall on this guy. If there was any doubt that he could defeat the recall, this statement proves otherwise, in my humble opinion. He’s toast. This may explain why Bustamante has changed his strategy. He is no longer asking people to vote "no" on the recall; he is only asking people to vote for him. It won’t help him.

All Tapped Out

It seems that the folks at The American Prospects blog "Tapped" disagree with my latest NRO article, in which I state that the Democrats discriminate against qualified conservative minorities. Here is the core of their argument:

Accepting Alt’s theory of Democratic motivations, racism still didn’t have anything to do with the filibuster. Democrats, by his account, filibustered Estrada because Estrada was likely to become a young, conservative Supreme Court justice. Any other equally conservative nominee who was equally likely to be put on the high court would have been treated the same way.

Tapped’s arguments fail for several reasons. First, they state that any "equally conservative nominee" would be subjected to such treatment. But there is no evidence that he "unduly" conservative. In fact, that was the whole argument against Estrada: the Dems claimed that they didn’t know enough about him to make a judgment. It would be good if Tapped could keep its pretextual reasons for filibuster straight.

Next, Tapped is wrong as a matter of its interpretation of federal antidiscrimination law, which is the standard that I was applying in stating that the 45 Democratic Senators discriminated against Estrada. Note that they state that anyone equally conservative and "equally likely to be put on the high court" would have been treated the same way. Thus, because it is well known that Bush wants to place a Hispanic on the high court, the Democrats used ethnicity as a proxy for upward mobility.

But the point of antidiscrimination laws is that we don’t allow employers to look at race, ethnicity, and gender--particularly as a proxy for other characteristics otherwise unrelated to those factors. Indeed, under the Civil Rights Act of 1991, a complaining party need only demonstrate that ethnicity "was a motivating factor for any employment practice, even though other factors also motivated the practice." 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2. As I explained in my article, Title VII does not apply to judicial nominees. However the reasoning is useful: just as a shopkeeper can’t refuse to hire someone who is Hispanic because he uses Hispanic heritage as a proxy for stereotypical factors, Democrats can’t hide from the charge that they discriminated by saying that they were using Hispanic heritage as a proxy for upward mobility. In both cases, Hispanic heritage is a motivating factor in the decision. In both cases, discrimination has occurred.

Hunting bin Laden

ABC News is reporting that we are closing in on bin Laden. The hunt is taking place in a 40 square mile area known as the Waziristan region of Pakistan. A surprisingly long story, with some interesting details. Also note this WaPo article from a few days ago that recounts alQaeda’s plans for a front in Iraq.  

Edwards Drops Out . . .

Presidential contender John Edwards has announced that he will not seek reelection as Senator in North Carolina "in order to devote all of [his] energy to running for president." Unless he makes a Clintonian comeback, I think that this is a calculation to put his name on the second line of the ticket. This of course means that his seat, which would have been a gimme for for the Democrats, is now up for grabs. The New York Times reports that earlier speculation points to Erskine Bowles running for the seat for the Dems.

NCC Needs A Better Defense

John Eastman’s comments on my essay make a great deal of sense. Let me respond: I didn’t draw the black guy for my narrator-- there are several different ones, an administrator told me. I don’t dissent from John’s description of the opening show. He’s right-- it dealt soberly with topics that are often demagogued. But there was, to speak academically, too much Gordon Wood (head of the Center’s Academic Advisory Board) in it, with all the lamentable political consequences. In one sense the narration posed the people (the Declaration) versus the Constitution (the document the people need to redefine, ceaselessly).

And John may be right in his "Vatican II" defense of the people vs. the educational elite. Would that such a defense were the case! If the hierarchy of the Catholic Church deserved a cleansing.... I prefer the political views of people at a baseball stadium to those at the APSA.

The statues of the founders are "life size"--they may have appeared as giants to John, who (like me) is short in stature, but I appreciate this point as well.

But do people who leave feel like cutting these giants down to size and moving beyond them-- or do they shock the historicism and progressivism we inherit from the middle exhibit out of us?

To reiterate: we have seen worse at the Smithsonian, in DC. And to hear the introductory film at Independence Hall praise that place for the recognition by the United Nations was beyond disgust.

Bush speaks tonight

A new Zogby Poll has found that Bush’s number have reached the lowest point since 9/11. "Less than half (45 percent) of the respondents said they rated his job performance good or excellent, while a majority (54 percent) said it was fair or poor." Do watch his speech tonight. There are large and consequential games afoot that go way beyond poll numbers.

Praise for the Constitution Center, Contra Masugi

Ken Masugi, with his typically thoughtful insight, has discovered a number of "progressive" elements at the new National Constitution Center. He is, of course, correct in his bill of particulars, but wrong, I think, on the overall effect of the Constitution Center, which I found quite praiseworthy, and quite successful at furthering the NCC’s express mission of educating citizens in the principles of the American Founding.

The centerpiece of the NCC is, of course, the DeVos theatre and the multi-media commemoration to the Constitution presented there. Most striking, in an age when the principles of the Declaration of Independence have been rejected by many across the political spectrum, the presentation begins with the self-evident truths of the Declaration. (The acknowledgement of the Declaration actually begins even earlier. The NCC was dedicated on July 4, and the price of admission is $17.76, not $17.87). From the very first moment, then, the Constitution is put into its proper context, as a means to defend the unalienable rights of the people.

Even the discussion of slavery is handled well. Not the tripe that has occupied our civics textbooks for a generation or more (asserting that the Declaration only applied to white European males), the moderator, a booming-voiced black man standing in a spotlight center stage, reminds us that the Declaration’s proposition of equality applied to all human beings, something he highlights by pointing to several members of the audience and finally to himself.

This point is not lost when he addressed the slave clauses of the Constitution itself. The moderator describes how impossible it would have been for the founders to tackle both the task of building a new nation of eliminating slavery at the same time, points out that the Constitution actually never mentions the word "slavery," and then adds: "Although we know the Declaration’s vision did not include all people," no nation had ever taken the step toward equality that we had taken. A perfect description? Not quite--better to have said that the vision did include all people. But it is much better than one might have expected. And the multi-media presentation then turns to Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., both making clear that the purpose of the Constitution is to fulfil the principles of the Declaration of Independence. This, my friends, is deserving of great praise, and one cannot help but be moved -- to better citizenship.

True, following this centerpiece of the program, one files out to a rotunda that has all the flaws Masugi points out. And I could add a few more. There are multiple copies of Machiavelli’s Prince on a bookshelf display, for example, and no Aristotle or Cicero. And Ben Stein is heard to say that there is a rights aura--rights given to us by the Constitution. Ugh. But I don’t think the main vice Masugi describes is a vice at all. It is not a vice that people think the defense of their Constitution is in their own hands. So here is my main disagreement with Ken: By inviting people to participate in the debate, Masugi takes from that the notion of living constitutionalism, not the Declaration’s consent of the governed. It is healthy when the people re-engage their elected officials (and their judicial officers) about the meaning of the Constitution, because the true purpose of "Progressivism" was to substitute elite judgment for the will of the people. This Center -- even the middle section -- helps remind us all of that obligation.

Finally, let me just add a reverse straussian interpretation of sorts. After leaving the "progressive" middle of the tour, one does indeed enter into the room of the signers. It is a powerful room, filled with giants, men of principle. The heros at the beginning, and those at the end, are the powerful images one takes away from the National Constitution Center. The modern paeons in the middle, in unstraussian fashion, are lost to the great accomplishments of these great men. That is the take-away for citizens. And it is a good thing.

Arnold en Espanol, Bustamante, no

Arnold’s website can be read in Spanish, while Bustamante’s cannot. No big thing, I just I’d point it out. (thanks to Iain Murray) In the meantime, there is a conversation at The Corner between Hayward, Robinson, et al, about whether or not McClintock has a chance to overtake Arnold. It is claimed that Arnold’s support is slipping. Maybe, but I remind everyone that this is no ordinary campaign, and it shouldn’t be looked at as such. Note that the California Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Arnold.

Sharia to Lagos, Nigeria

This story on Lagos State, Nigeria, is not exactly reassuring. "Lagos became the third state in the South-West to join the Sharia train at the non-governmental level."

"Project Thread" investigation in Canada

About 400 immigrants (mostly Pakistanis) were able to come into Canada to study at a college that held no classes. An elaborate scheme, that may have terrorist connections. A little spooky.

EU now calls Hamas’ political wing terrorists

The European Union foreign ministers on Saturday denounced the political wing of Hamas as a terrorist organization following the group’s claim of responsibility for a truce-shattering bomb attack in Jerusalem. The decision, long sought by both Israel and the United States, opens the way for Europe to freeze the group’s assets and place its leaders on a terrorist blacklist.

Returning from Iraq

It is very difficult to tell what’s going on in Iraq. The media is relentlessly negative. Almost all the stories told by returning soldiers differs from the protrait drawn by the media. A returning Marine says many interesting and touching things about his experience. Nice story (in the normally anti-war North Coast Journal). (via Instapundit).  Here is another story from a returning soldier. And yet another. And here is a report from a Congressman who had just returned from a visit. Notice that all these reports are in local, non-national, papers. The information therein is interesting, concrete, and personal. Much more revealing than the standard NY Times, etc., articles, never mind CBS or CNN stories.

The Lawless (illegal) immigrants and Indians

Lt. Governor Bustamante has gotten into some trouble because he has accepted some $3 million from Indian tribes. His spokesmen are saying that this is no big deal since Bustamante has alwasy been in favor of Indian self-determination. Ken Masugi nails the problem down in a few excellent paragraphs. You should look at this because the problem is not merely a campaign contribution question. It is much broader than that, and even more important than the California recall. Masugi explains why both illegal immigrants and native Americans are in a state of lawlessness with regard to the United States and its laws. Read it.  

What writers read

Laura Hillenbrand, the author of "Seabiscuit", did an interview with the NYT a few days ago (I missed it, but Powerline brought it to my attention; thanks) and it is pretty good, but this is an especially good paragraph:

"My goal as an historian is to make nonfiction read as smoothly as fiction while adhering very strictly to fact. I read a lot of nonfiction, and have certainly been influenced by such superb historians as Bruce Catton and David McCullough, but the writers who have had the greatest impact on me have been novelists. Michael Shaara’s masterpiece ’The Killer Angels,’ an historic novel about Gettysburg, has had a tremendous influence on my writing. Tolstoy has also been a wonderful teacher, namely ’War and Peace’ and ’Anna Karenina.’ Other writers I read over and over again, and try to emulate, include Austen, Wharton, Fitzgerald and Hemingway."

French economy

I’ll end the day on a positive note: the French economy is set for 0.5-percent growth this year, budget minister Alain Lambert announced. He had been saying that it would grow by 1.3-percent. On Wednesday it was announced that the entire 12-nation euro zone would also post full-year growth of 0.5 percent.

Hong Kong drops internal-security measure

Hong King’s Chief Executive announced today that he was withdrawing internal-security legislation that had provoked huge protests in July. Also see this from yesterday.

Estrada and Democratic racism

Before Robert Alt could write anything on the demise of the Estrada nomination, I bet he had to calm himself down. He has, yet I would not have him play false to his nature. Do read the whole thing, but note a few lines (there are more specifics on Teddy Kennedy):

"Democrats will inevitably respond that they opposed Estrada because they believed that he was conservative. But they had less reason to believe he was conservative than [now confirmed Judge] Roberts. This demonstrates what is at the heart of the issue: They opposed him more vehemently because he was perceived to be a conservative Hispanic, and as such is thought to be a viable Supreme Court nominee. As much as they may say that they just love Hispanics (some of their very best friends are Hispanic!), they can’t avoid the fact that it is because he is conservative and Hispanic that they oppose him..."   

Hanson at Ashbrook

The new issue of "On Principle" is out and it contains a slightly edited version of a talk Victor Davis Hanson gave at the Ashbrook Center on March 28, 2003. The talk was during the Iraq War and about the war in Iraq and against terror. It is entitled "Our Current War is not New," and is a great read. If you want to hear Hanson give the same talk, go here.   

New Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. (ACTION THIS DAY)

It is being proposed by the Feds that the oath new citizens take should be changed.
They will publish the change in the Federal Register on September 17th (Constitution Day) and will allow 60 days for comments. Based on this story and Mark Krikorian’s
(Center for Immigration Studies) comments on it (in the article), I am sceptical. In short, I do not believe it should be changed. From what I can tell the new one is not high-minded enough and the part about supporting and defending the Constitution is ambiguous. I’ll pay attention to this, but if anyone has any more info, do let me know. Here is the current oath:

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

Eugenics IV

Not only is it not persuasive, it is not even particularly instructive. Why arbitrarily choose eugenics as the point at which we mounted the slippery slope?

In most discussions like this, the first one to mention the Nazis loses. This is an exception to that rule.

I would suggest that when considering controversial or even questionable programs of this sort, it is generally instructive to consider and reflect on how similar programs originated and have been used before. Are all uses and programs going to end up as their predecessors? No. But do the underlying philosophies and former applications provide warning (or hope) when considering whether to engage in new manifestations of older practices? Yes. History is full of reincarnations, and when a former manifestation results in something as horrific as the medical execution of the handicapped, infirm, retarded, and "impure," I’d say a good look at the rationalizations for how we got there is in order. When the same underlying justifications are again trotted out to rationalize certain kinds of abortions for certain kinds of people, I’d say those justifications demand another hard look. Simply because there are other factors and other philosophies that pushed Germany down the slope doesn’t discount it as a reminder of the dangers of a social-reform eugenics program and the kinds of tragedy that can result.

No Left Turns Mug Drawing Winners for August

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

Linda Hasty

Rob Toth

John Lewis

Brian Skeen

Melvin B. Benson IV

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 September’s drawing.

Democrats Debate

First Read at MSNBC seems to have pretty good coverage of the debate (and useful links). Walter Shapiro notes that Dean is the leader of the pack, and that explains his "willful blandness." The others, however, were strident in their denunciation of Bush, with Gephardt taking the lead by saying that Bush is "a miserable failure on the economy and foreign policy." They argued most with one another on the economy, and denounced Bush on foreign policy. This is a strategic mistake, and will pay dividends for Bush (and Republicans). The whole thing was quite unimpressive, and I am not even mentioning the pandering to Hispanics. That was both badly done, and much too late. Besides, the reason Bush is popular among Hispanics (even Democrats) is because of his foreign policy and character. If the Demo candidates continue to question both they will not only lose the election, but, more important for the long term, will lose the Hispanic vote. Why does it surprise anyone that about two-thirds of voters don’t recognize any of their names?

Charles Krauthammer explains why Dean is in the lead: This is a recall election, and it is driven by passion, and the war and its aftermath have helped Dean to become "Mr. Intensity." But, warns Krauthammer, this doesn’t mean that he is the presumptive Democratic candidate, yet. Good writing. And do note that Wesley Clark is moving ever closer to announcing. Just keep in mind that the most profound thing Clark has said up to now is this: "You can’t win without a vision, and that means working with allies." And yet, if he entered the race, he would turn everything upside down!

Baby Names, the decline of Hillary

I think this is interesting. The Social Security Administration has much information on the names of babies, which names are popular, which rose or fell over time, and so on. Stuart Buck notes, with subdued glee, that the name Hillary has become the most poisoned name in history: by 1992 it had risen to the 136th most common name, but within the the next year, l993, it sharply reversed course, and has dropped off the charts within 10 years. This was the greatest drop in popularity of a name ever, and displaced the previous poisoned name record holders, Ebeneezer and Adolph; it took them 30 years to make such a drop. By the way, I bet it will make a bit of a comeback. (Thanks to Jonah at The Corner)

Eugenics III

Anticipating the objection that these earlier sterilization programs were non-voluntary, state-sponsored programs, while today’s California initiative is both private and voluntary, I respectfully submit that it is itself spurious to offer a heroine addict her next fix in exchange for her ovaries.

A worthwhile point, but is it not one that we must deal with all the time? Are we really prepared to write off any possibility that an "addict" is responsible for her decisions? If she commmits theft in an attempt to satisfy her cravings, do we not still consider her a criminal? Moreover, what are we to make of the convenience store clerk who sells cigarettes to the tobacco "addict," the liquor-store worker who provides booze for an alcoholic, or the McDonald’s employee who serves Big Macs to the obese?

But if we are really going to claim that "addicts" are incapable of choice, why is there no concern about the other choices such people must make--namely the choice to risk a pregnancy that will either be aborted or, if allowed to come to term, will produce a child whose likelihood of suffering from brain damage, HIV-infection, or addiction is very high? The choice to surrender one’s ovaries has no victims; the choice either to abort a child or to bring it unwanted into the world does.

While not dispositive, or even ultimately persuasive, it may nevertheless be instructive to consider both the genesis and the final revelation of our modern eugenics movements.

Not only is it not persuasive, it is not even particularly instructive. Why arbitrarily choose eugenics as the point at which we mounted the slippery slope? Why not choose Darwin as the scientist that placed Europe’s Jews on the twisted road to Auschwitz? The fact is that Hitler sought and found justifications from all sorts of sources, including traditional Christianity. Whatever we might think of eugenics (and as a matter of involuntary state policy I oppose it), in an historical sense it makes no more sense to blame it for the Holocaust than it would be to blame the Church.

Eugenics II

In response to an earlier post on some private, California efforts to pay drug addicts to be sterilized, the comment was offered:

But surely what was objectionable about the eugenics movement was not the principle that there are some people who simply ought not reproduce. The problem with the eugenecists was that they used spurious criteria (i.e., race and ethnicity) to determine who those people were and, moreover, they engaged in their practices without the consent of those being sterilized.

It is true, of course, that spurious criteria such as race and ethnicity were used in justifications for eugenic practices. But these were not the only criteria. While a "progressive-minded" California was the overall leader in sterilization, Southern states in particular adopted eugenics programs as part of a larger social reform movement in order to alleviate the burdens of their poor, unhealthy, epileptic, and/or "feeble-minded" white populations. People were thought unfit to reproduce for socially "dersireable" reasons beyond race and ethnicity, that is, beyond simply a genetic "cleansing." Eugenic sterilization served socially desireable goals such as reducing state expenditures on health care, food, and education, while raising education standards in poor, agricultural states, and preventing "bad births" and poor quality of life concerns for children with low-income parents. The question remains whether such criteria were also in fact "spurious."

Anticipating the objection that these earlier sterilization programs were non-voluntary, state-sponsored programs, while today’s California initiative is both private and voluntary, I respectfully submit that it is itself spurious to offer a heroine addict her next fix in exchange for her ovaries.

While not dispositive, or even ultimately persuasive, it may nevertheless be instructive to consider both the genesis and the final revelation of our modern eugenics movements. Eugenics began as an augment to Darwinian evolution, a natural extension of survival of the fittest, popularized by Charles Darwin’s cousin in the 19th century. Ultimately, of course, eugenics provided a "scientific" and sociological justification for Hitler’s Germany, the logical and practical fulfillment of the "good birth" theory. Eugenics fell into disrepute for a short time after the war, but the basic principles survived and rested notoriously behind the family planning, abortion initiatives of Margaret Sanger (her racism aside) and Planned Parenthood.

Does the California effort rise to these levels? Maybe not, but given our current position on the precipice of a "genetic revolution," any attempt to re-legitimize, rationalize, and popularize eugenic programs and their philosophy ought to be opposed.

Why is Al Franken angry?

Because FOX News Channel was the only cable news service in August to grow in viewership from a year ago, gaining 20% in primetime and 29% across the entire day, according to Nielsen Media Research.

And, get this: CNN fell by 9% in primetime and total day, while MSNBC lost 21% in primetime and 11% for the day. Headline News lost 20% and CNBC lost 20%. This is the 28th consecutive month that Fox led the news channel pack.

Jihad School

This short CNN story is on the al Mukmin Islamic school in the Indonesian city of Solo. A slogan above one classroom reads, "Death in the way of Allah is our highest aspiration." In this boarding school the alumni includes nearly all of Indonesia’s top terror suspects--and was co-founded by Abu Bakar Ba’asyir--pictures of AK47’s are plastered on the hallways. It’s pretty bad, and it’s not the only such school.

Hong Kong and China

Arthur Waldron writes a very good article focusing on the pro-democracy demonstrations (a half a million people!) in July and what it all means not only for Hong Kong, but China as a whole. Excellent.    

Estrada bows out

Miguel Estrada has withdrawn his name for nomination to a federal appeals court. This is a major defeat for the administration. We already know that the majority of Senators would have voted for him, had the 45 Demos not flibustered. Why didn’t the administration fight this with more vigor? This guy is smart, good, and conservative. And, he’s from Honduras! Maybe they’ll throw a few more good guys to the wolves, and then use them for ammunition for the election? Darn it.

Uganda seeks U.S. support

Uganda is seeking support from the U.S., both logistics and intelligence, to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a terrorist group. Here is Golbal Security’s take on the LRA.

Operation Mountain Viper

After nine days of fighting, American (10th Mountain Division) and Afghan forces have taken a Taliban stronghold. Scores (124 is a figure mentioned) of Taliban have died. This was the heaviest fighting since the Fall of 1991. No American casualties reported. Let’s see if CBS/CNN/ and the others report on this. Just curious. This is not to say that the Taliban are finished in Afghanistan. They are there, and have regrouped.

John Agresto to Iraq

John Agresto, the former president of St. John’s College (Santa Fe), and former member of the Ashbrook Board, is on his way to Iraq, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education. He will oversee the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education. His duties will be to rebuild the universities in Iraq. He will have broad powers to rebuild the universities, determine policy, and set a course for the future. At one time Iraqi higher education was impressive; he hopes to make it even more impressive. He starts in a week. And who said that there is no life after being a college president? Good luck John!

Education in Ghana

What should you do about your children’s education? Should you send them to a public school in D.C., or maybe a Roman Catholic School, where there is more discipline and better academics? This will cost you about $5,000. But, for only $750, you can send them to the Akosombo International School in Ghana (20% of their students are from the U.S.). This boarding school may be better (not only cheaper) than any other option. One of the girls sent says this: "’Here [in the U.S.] a lot of people are just focused on what party to go to,’ said Nayaba, who will soon have to cut off the fashionable braided hair extensions she got this summer and return to the close-cropped natural look, required of all the girls in her school. ’In boarding school the goal is just learning, not to be average but to be at the top of the class. You feel out of place if you’re not trying; that’s sometimes not the case here.’" This is a very interesting article from today’s New York Times. John Derbyshire at The Corner has some thoughts on this.  

Arnold on illegal immigration

Arnold has made his position on illegal immigration perfectly clear: "’What he [Bustamante] doesn’t understand is that people like myself waited 15 years to get citizenship,’ Schwarzenegger, who came to the United States from Austria in the 1960s, said. ’There are people who have been waiting 20 years. I find it unfair to all of a sudden push the whole thing with undocumented immigrants and say they should immediately get citizenship.’

The film star told the John and Ken show on Los Angeles radio station KFI-AM 640 in a telephone interview that he wanted stricter controls and beefed-up patrols on the U.S. border with Mexico. He said he was also against legislation, currently being debated in Sacramento, that would give California drivers licenses to illegal immigrants -- a bill that Davis has said he would sign and Bustamante supports."

California debate

I did not see the California debate yesterday, sorry. I talked to a few people who did, and almost all said the same: McClintock was very good, and the clear winner. Ueberroth was babbling, and Huffington was silly and unimpressive. Bustamante kept talking about his immigrant background (Parents or grandparents came from Maxico). This latter point is especially odd given that Arnold really is an immigrant. This does remind me of a story. I had a very nice colleague here in the history department. He is now retired. His grandparents came from Italy. I had a conversation with him once in which he was beating up on Americans and praising Italians. Nothing wrong with his opinions except that he would do it, explicitly, as if he were an immigrant. I thought this a little odd for many reasons, not the least is that he wasn’t an immigrant and he was talking to an immigrant, me. I pointed this out to him, politely. It caught him off guard, he regained his senses, and said, "Oh, of course, you’re right, what was I thinking." Amusing for him, and perhaps equally amusing in the end for Bustamante.

Ken Masugi has some very sensible opinions on the debate coverage. This AP story is said to be the best report on it.

The Rehnquist Court and the "living Constitution"

Our own Eric Claeys has some very clear things to say both about the Democrats’ unprecedented move to filibuster nominees to the federal appellate courts, its connection to the idea of a "living Constitution," and the decline of constitutional government, even in the Rehnquist Court. Very sound, albeit depressing.  

The UN gambit, again

Much is already being said about the latest U.S. attempt, still in its infancy, to try to get some U.N. involvement in the building of a new country that would still go by the old name of Iraq. The Washington Post goes so far--and probably correctly--as to join the U.N. story with the Administration’s attempt to add about $60 billion to the costs of Iraq’s reconstruction. The Administration’s critics are saying that this proves that the President’s policy "to go it alone in Iraq" (as if the participation of 29 countries is the same as alone) has failed, and that they are attempting something that they failed at some months ago. They pretend that troops troops from India, Bangladesh, and Norway, will be able to do what U.S. have not yet been able to do. Some also assume that countries like Pakistan and Egypt really do want to send troops to Iraq, and that they will eagerly do so once the U.N. umbrella is put in place. That is poppycock, of course.

What the Administration is trying to do, as far as I can tell, is no different than what they tried to do from the start: try to get U.N. backing for our policy. This could allow some countries a bit of political cover to either send some troops, some aid, or even money, because it would lend some "authority" to our policies that we currently don’t have in some parts of the world. And it would waylay some of the current and upcoming domestic arguments against the Administration’s handling of the war. Also, it would allow some countries to take advantage of the commercial opportunities that will exists both in the reconstitution of Iraq, and after. They want their bankers on the ground. And that’s fine, we should understand their interest and work with it as best as we can.

I don’t really have a problem with this latest attempt at trying to get the U.N.’s blessing. As long, of course, as we don’t give up anything fundamental; compromise on everything but the one big thing: the creation of a new and moderate regime in Iraq and making sure that our hands our free for the anti-terror war, within and without Iraq (inlcuding the Middle East, of course). That the President’s domestic opponents will use this to try to prove that their scepticism about Iraq was correct, is, for now, irrelevant. Of course they will do that. But, it also must be said, that just because Bush’s policy in Iraq is being criticized by those whose judgement we are given no reason to trust, it does not mean that the policy cannot justly be criticized. Clearly, in some ways it has not been as successful as it could have been. But we’ll get to that criticism (which to my mind is relatively minor, by the way) on another day.

And I want to add one more thing on this latest U.N. effort: it is not predestined to work! It may not work. It is possible that many countries--or just France or Russia would be sufficient--will oppose it. Indeed, if I have been reading France’s foreign minister
correctly, he willwant to oppose it. And, if de Villepin, decides to oppose it, it will be a heavy blow less to our policy in Iraq, than to our so-called alliance. Because if the French continue to oppose America’s power in the world, it will be clear even to those who have been blind that these two U.N. exercises have been understood by the French to be exercises in strategy--in the highest form of geopolitical strategy--and they will have decided to be in opposition to us. And the same could be said of Russia, who, it goes almost without saying, is the great power who has lost the most through our victory in Iraq. They have lost a client state in whom they invested much; their last bastion in the Middle East. The opposition of either country would be a very big deal. And, this "indelicate topic," as an old teacher of mine once called it, of the strategic overtones at play here will become a very big deal indeed. So, keep your eye on the diplomatic activity in the vicinity of the U.N. over the next few weeks.

Here is the full text of Secretary of State Powell’s speech and press conference on this issue.

Life in Iraq

The Rev. Ken Joseph, who was initially against the war, has some reflections on what life in Iraq is like after the war. Not the sort of thing you get from CNN and CBS.

Sterile the feral?

The BBC reports on the rising popularity of sterilizing West Coast drug addicts--mostly women--as a way of alleviating the social burdens presented by their children. "Project Prevention," as it is now called, pays documented addicts $200, no strings attached (read drug money), to be sterilized. Of course, the California-based program sounds an awful lot like a eugenics plan designed to keep "defectives" or "undesirables" from reproducing. This country’s earlier experimentation with negative eugenics resulted in thousands of sterilized "feeble-minded" folks. Virginia, for example, sterilized over 8000 people from 1930 to 1980 during one of the most tragic and widespread eugenics programs in our history. It’s particularly disturbing then to note that Project Prevention has already claimed over 1000 wombs in under five years.

Sixth Circuit bickering

The Cincinnati Enquirer runs a story about the bickering and ill-will among judges on the Sixth Circuit. It sounds pretty bad. Notice that only Democrat appointed judges were interviewed.

Airborne laser defense system

Aviation Week and Space Technology has a report on the status of the airborne laser defense system.

Col. Collins cleared

Do you remember Colonel Tim Collins, the British orator and warrior who, on the eve of battle gave a great speech to his troops? He was later accused of mistreating captured toops. He has been cleared. Here is the Colonel’s battlefield speech as reported by NPR on March 23rd.  

Bustamante and MEChA

Pejman has a very good--and long--essay on who this folks are, wether or not they are racists, and why Bustamante hasn’t denounced them. Very interesting. 

Return to the classics

This newstory from the Washington Times is worth a look. It considers how more and more schools--private, charter, and other--are returning to the study of the classics, from Marva Collins to Terrence Moore (who is quoted). Here is one of Moore’s articles; there are more. 

Clinton’s counterterrorism policy

Richard Miniter, author of the recently released, Losing bin Laden: How Bill Clinton’s Failures Unleashed Global Terror, writes the first of four excerpts from the book. It should make for interesting reading even, though, of course, with any volume of this sort, the details are not possible to confirm. In this first piece he recounts how the conversation went at the highest levels whent he USS Cole was bombed.

The Najaf bombing

Tacitus has some interesting comments on the bombing of Ali’s Tomb. Who did it? Who gains most?

Harley at 100

Here is the NY Times article Harley-Davidson celebrating its 100th birthday. TheAmericanmind was at the party, but he thought the free concert was a let down. All this celebrating, talk about the wind in your face, freedom, rebellion, and such, reminds me that the myth of bikes in the US is something akin to Mardi Gras or the Oktoberfest; dentists and normal folks wanting to pretend to party every once in a while by "letting their hair down." Not such a bad thing. I bet bikers are less prone to heart attacks than an accountant without a hobby. In a hobby new brain cells are activated, and as, Churchill said, "when new stars become the lords of the ascendant, that relief, repose, refreshment are afforded."

There was also a mass by

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of Milwaukee. While he admitted that he did not know a lot about motorcyclists, he praised the hundreds of bikers assembled for their "deep love" of God’s creation, for their special care for one another and for having "an awful lot of trust in God’s protection" when on their Harleys. I thought that was pretty good. Happy are the riders, for they shall not be lonely. Wind and road, sound and speed, sight and sound, will keep them company to the end of the day, and, most hope, to the end of life.

The BBC mess

This NY Times article (Sunday) considers the damage to the reputation of the BBC resulting from their slanted reporting on Blair’s justification for going to war in Iraq. Josh Chafetz has a few thoughts on all this, and so does The Economist. There is more at Oxblog. The best that can be said about the BBC is that it is incompetent.

A Civil War re-enactment

Catherine Watson writes a lovely essay on her experience as a Civil War re-enactor at the 140th anniversary of Gettysburg. "Whenever the action swept toward me, the cavalry came so close that I could hear the clang of saber on saber and see the lathered sweat shining on the horses’ sides.

Big cannons were blasting nearby, their explosions so loud that my lungs shuddered, and gunpowder smoke hung over the field like clouds of sulfurous fog.

This was time travel, pure and simple, a painting of the Civil War come to life, a Mathew Brady photograph in living -- thankfully not dying -- color.

Even watching from the sidelines, I found it thrilling. For my comrades on horseback that weekend, the battle of Gettysburg had to be spectacular.

They were Confederates -- reenactors whose hobby is living and breathing the Civil War. A few months earlier, through a mutual friend, they’d invited me to camp with them at the huge reenactment scheduled for Gettysburg’s 140th anniversary.

The invitation had been irresistible: I’ve always been interested in the Civil War, and I’d always wanted to try reenacting. But I never imagined I’d be wearing gray. Or that I’d be impersonating a man.

Now, in the sweet rolling farmland of southern Pennsylvania, I was doing both. I was a dismounted but duly registered member of the 35th Battalion Virginia Cavalry." Read the whole thing. Thanks to