Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Dulles on the situation in Germany, Dec. 1945

Foreign Affairs reprints Allan W. Dulles’ update on occupied Germany seven months after our victory. (via Instapundit)  

The $87 billion Senate vote

Here is the New York Times recounting of the Senate vote ob Bush’s $87 billion supplemental request for the troops and Iraq. Bush got almost everything he wanted, but the Senate voted to have $10 billion of the $20 as loans. This is a very bad idea, and I am hoping that this gets worked out in the conference committee; Frist thinks it can be done. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R, S.C.) supported the loan provision: "It’s very hard for to me to go home and explain that you have to give $20 billion to a country that’s sitting on $1 trillion worth of oil. And the net result of this policy we’re pursuing is that the people who died to liberate Iraq are going to be left holding the bag." I expected more from him.

War in space?

Lt. Gen. Edward Anderson warned that: "In my view it will not be long before space becomes a battleground."

Good looking teachers

This may explain why I get such consistently excellent student evaluations!

On dating, chivalry and flirting

Courtship, flirtation, charm, or showing some more skin? "Any woman can flash skin," says Southern author Ronda Rich, "but the most irresistible damsel is the one who seduces and flirts with a sharp, knowledgeable mind." Laura Sessions Stepp, in the WaPo Style Section, has a good article on these matters. It could be titled, "why your grandmother knew more about these matters than you do." 

Therapy vs. Friends

Jennie Bistrow reviews Furedi’s Therapy Culture. The last lines should get your interest: "Life doesn’t make us ill, and friends are better than therapists. This may be shorthand: but it beats ’I blame my parents.’"

Hillary, Inc.

Here is the long National Journal article on Hillary Clinton, focusing on her extraordinary fundrasing abilities and how she has come to the top of the Democratic hierarchy. No one in the party (except for Bill) comes near her in this regard. It should not surprise anyone, according to the article, that she is considered to be a possible candidate for 2004, never mind 2008. Good, useful, information.  

Let Us Now Praise a Good Man

Let’s see: In the last 72 hours, we’ve seen a tiny amount of news coverage for the Malaysian politician who said "Jews run the world" (nothing about this in the LA Times for example), and the pillorying of a general for expressing his religious views in church. What is making news instead is a tempest about Gregg Easterbrook.

Easterbrook is genuine, independent-minded writer and thinker. I once embarrassed him slightly by comparing him favorably to George Orwell; like Orwell, his political orientation leans slightly to the left, but his clarity and hard-headedness incline many of his judgments to the right. His 1995 book, A Moment on the Earth, is in my mind the most sensible book ever written about the environment. For this good deed he was relentlessly attacked by the politicized wing of the environmental movement.

On his New Republic weblog (see here), he attacked the violent content of the new Tarantino movie, Kill Bill, and went on to criticize movie studio executives for putting money-making above moral considerations. He then went on to reflect that that Jewish movie producers behind Kill Bill ought to know better, as they belong to the ethnic group that has suffered such extraordinary violence in recent history.

Trouble is, that’s not how it came out as he originally worded it. It sounded like he was recycling the old stereotype of Jewish money-mongering. For this Gregg has profusely apologized and said that what he wrote was "simply wrong."

This is not the end of the story. It seems no apology can be direct or profuse enough. There is a campaign under way to ruin Gregg, get him fired from his gig as a football analyst on ESPN’s website, and undermine his forthcoming book, The Progress Paradox, which I know will be a terrific book. (I saw him preview some of it last spring, and it is good stuff.) Undoubtedly his enemies and critics will use this recent episode as a means of discrediting his book, and his other work. (He has, for example, defended the Bush administration’s environmental record in Time and the LA Times.)

One small thing we call can do as a show of support is go on to and pre-order Gregg’s book here.

Muslims, Jews and Americans

The Prime Minister of Maylasia said the "Jews ruled the world by proxy," at the Organization of the Islamic Conference. He has refused to apologize. In the meantime Senator Lieberman was heckled when he spoke to an Arab-American group in Dearborn, MI, even though he opened his talk by saying, "I am Joseph, your brother." Dennis Kucinich and others were well received. The Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called for the resignation of Lt. General William Boykin because he said some things he didn’t like. An apology is not enough.

The Democrats and Iraq

David Brooks summarizes the factions within the Democratic Party, when it comes to the future of Iraq, and why "this is a party teetering on the brink of full-bore liberal isolationism." He thinks there are three camps: One, the Pelosi Democrats; two, the Evan Bayh Democrats; three, the Cantwell Democrats. He adds a fourth, the Clark Demos, these are too mealy-mouthed to take a stand either way.  

Classic Strom

Trawling through ’The American Spectator’s’ new and improved web-site, I found a section called classics. This is a favorite. Florence King on Strom Thurmond.

Read it and weep, read it and laugh.

Haley Barbour in Mississippi

That ’aw shucks, good ol’ boy’, Haley Barbour is running for Governor of Mississippi against Democratic incumbent, Ronnie Musgrove. The elections is in 2 1/2 weeks.

Here’s a ’New York Times Magazine’ overview of the campaign.

Republican Realignment

Republican realignment, it’s already here, according to this ’Weekly Standard’ article by Fred Barnes .

Frau Thatcher?

The BBC has an interesting piece on Germany looking to "Thatcherism" to solve its current economic struggles. "Historian Dominik Geppert argues in his book Maggie Thatcher’s Radical Cure - a recipe for Germany? that there are parallels between Britain in the 1970s and Germany now."

Will yet another British Prime Minister need to rescue the German people from their leaders?

Kass’ Report

Here is the full copy of Beyond Therapy (in PDF format) referenced by Nate Stewart below.

Terri Schiavo’s Starvation Information

For those following or curious about the national debate over Terri Schiavo’s court-appointed date with death, here is a blog (set up by a Florida appeals lawyer) devoted to Florida law and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals with a page devoted to the Schiavo case. All the basic facts of her case are provided with explanations of Florida’s law on the subject.  

Bioethics Council Releases Report

The New York Times has reported that Leon Kass and the President’s Council on Bioethics has released Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness, a report expressing concern over the potential misuse of burgeoning biotechnology. From the Times:

The report’s overall thrust is that people’s desire to improve themselves or to give their children an edge carries the risk of putting strain on human nature in many unintended ways. The council expresses concern at "the attractive science-based power to remake ourselves after images of our own devising." It asks if the purpose of medicine is "to make us perfect, or to make us whole?" It concludes that "the human body and mind, highly complex and delicately balanced as a result of eons of gradual and exacting evolution, are almost certainly at risk from any ill-considered attempt at `improvement.’"

For those who don’t keep close tabs on bioethics, allow me to assure you that we are indeed blessed to have Dr. Kass (as opposed to a host of other self-proclaimed ethicists) advising the President and the ethics community at-large on these issues.

American by choice

A statue (too modernistic for my taste) of Michael Kovats de Fabricy was recently unveiled at the Hungarian Embassy. He was a Hungarian by birth, but an "American by choice," who fought and died in the American Revolution. He was a Colonel, a commander of light cavalry, a Huszar, serving under Gen. Pulaski. He died in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 11, 1779. Paul Wolfowitz’s gave a speech. And here are remarks by the Hungarian Ambassador, and the Minister of Defense.

Arnold mural faces termination

A mural was painted on one wall of the structure to promote the upcoming DVD and video release of Schwarzenegger’s latest film, "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines." Someone is trying to remove it, and politics has nothing to do with it!(?)

The UN vote

Deborah Orin says that "President Bush won a major diplomatic victory yesterday as the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on other nations to provide troops and financial aid to Iraq.
The 15-0 vote came after France - which led opposition to the U.S.-led war that toppled Saddam Hussein - found itself isolated and belatedly decided to vote yes, spurring even Syria to agree." And this: "The fact that the vote was unanimous also offers Bush a direct rebuttal to Democratic 2004 challengers seeking to portray him as a unilateralist who alienated the world and can’t win support from other nations."

Classical Liberals and Social Liberals

Mickey Craig’s point about there being a difference between a classical liberal and a social liberal is well taken. Libertarians often refer to themselves as "economically conservative, but socially liberal" as a quick and dirty (too dirty) definition of their views. But my question is, how can we tell the difference as a practical matter? If a politician is pro-choice, might it not be on the classical liberal grounds that laws against abortion represent an infringement on the right to property (in this case the womb), rather than the from the social liberal’s insistence on "liberation" from responsibility for one’s actions? The same might be said of those who oppose sodomy laws. Libertarians and social liberals might agree on this issue, but for very different reasons, and unless the person advocating this position has expressed the thought processes behind it (as Arnold has, I believe, never done), how are we to assume that the Governor-elect is the latter rather than the former?

Moreover, I take issue with the statement "that those who indulge in drugs today, as a practical matter, become in one way or another wards of the state." As Jacob Sullum’s recent book suggests, there is (and long has been) a lot more drug use going on in America than statistics on "addiction" (which may or may not be a useful term) suggest. Drug prohibition, like that of the Prohibition of liquor and the modern crusade aganist tobacco was, in fact, the product of the same Progressive mentality that Craig denounces. Alas, the "marijuana industry" lacks the highly-paid lobbyists necessary to fight back.

Brazil’s president

C.Preston Noell has a good letter to the Washington Times on Brazil, and its leftist President Lula da Silva. Scroll down to "Lula’s Leftism."

Our First Year

I noted our one year anniversary and asked you to consider putting some money in our purse. A number of you responded, and we are very grateful. By the way, it’s not my purse we are talking about--I already have a motorcycle!--it’s the Ashbrook Center’s purse. Thank you. Here is a nice note from a reader:

"Congratulations on your first year. I have been with you from the beginning. I enjoy the kind of ’conversation’ that a blog represents--it’s like sitting down with a friend to talk over the events of the day, but more important are the references to other good articles, sites and papers. There are magazines that I would never subscribe to, nor visit regularly that occasionally have an important piece. There is something about this great swarm of information, of conflicting opinion, that far surpasses what a daily paper can offer.
Anyway, thanks, and Peter, make sure those other guys are holding up their end."

Robby George at Princeton

Princeton Alumni Mag runs this long piece on Professor Robert George, what he teaches, his social and political conservatism, his influence on students. Last few lines: "However people may react to his positions, George makes no apologies for his beliefs. ’The United States isn’t perfect,’ he says, ’and our history includes sin and shame, especially slavery and segregation. But our founding principles and constitutional ideals are, in my opinion, profoundly good and true.

’I don’t force students to accept those principles, but I do want students to understand them,’ George continues. ’I see my role as that of a teacher rather than a preacher. At the same time, I believe that if students understand our nation’s principles, they will grasp their wisdom and goodness.’"

Dirty bomb and al Qaeda

Bill Gertz writes on al Qaeda’s search for a dirty bomb. "A key al Qaeda terrorism suspect was in Canada looking for nuclear material for a ’dirty bomb,’ The Washington Times has learned.
Adnan El Shukrijumah is being sought by the FBI and CIA in connection with a plot to detonate a dirty bomb — a conventional explosive laced with radioactive material."

Response to Moser: Can the Twain Meet

Thanks to John Moser for his post on whether one can combine social liberalism with fiscal conservatism.

The article by Brian Janiskee was about Arnold. The point of Janiskee’s article is that one seldom or never finds an office-holder with real responsibility who combines these two qualities well. Janiskee expresses skepticism, which I share, about Arnold’s ability to combine his social liberalism with his fiscal conservatism. One can rest assured that Arnold will not compromise his social liberalism and that if he compromises anything it will be his fiscal conservatism. Let’s hope he sticks to his stated purpose not to raise taxes. Let’s hope President Bush’s praise of him bears good fruit.

Moser points to libertarians as the example to prove that my post was "demonstrably false" but then agrees with or reiterates the main point of Janiskee’s article: There are no state-wide office holders in this country, whether Senators or Governors (are there any?), who combine social liberalism and fiscal conservatism. He blames this on the fund-raising that is necessary to win state-wide elections. Fund-raising is certainly a problem but, I think, fund-raising is not the cause of the problem but more an effect or symptom of the disease. The need for extraordinary fund-raising these days is due to the size of the modern administrative state. The size of the modern administrative state follows from the premise of social liberalism or progressivism.

Moser suggests that libertarians prove that one can combine social liberalism with fiscal conservatism. I think Moser is mistaken when he equates the classical liberal/libertarian with the social liberal. The classical liberal, whether a follower of Von Mises or Hayek or a follower of the principles of the Declaration of Independence, believes that government’s purpose is limited to securing the individual’s rights to life, liberty and property. As Madison writes, government is a reflection on human nature which is fallible. The social liberal or progressive believes that government’s purpose is unlimited because he believes that the human condition is perfectible. Thus, the social liberal believes that government has an obligation to do social justice, especially by intervening in society or the private sector to overcome the inequities or injustices there. So the social liberal/progressive denies one of the fundamental premises of classical liberalism, the distinction between state and society.

The social liberal’s principles are fundamentally different from the classical liberal. The reigning dogma of the social liberal is found in the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in ’Planned Parenthood v. Casey’(1992) which was repeated in ’Lawrence v. Texas’ in the most recent term of the Court: The mystery clause states: "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of life." A more popular expression of that dogma is Hilary Clinton’s "We are free to redefine what it means to be a human-being." This is democratic nihilism. In other words, the most radical expression of social liberalism or Progressivism is that man has become his own maker. So if I want to trans-gender myself (I can since I’m infinitely malleable/perfectible), government must not only protect me in that right but also it must fund that right. In the classical liberal understanding, the individual is held to be responsible and self-governing, in the social liberal understanding, the individual is liberated from all traditional notions of morality and the government must protect him/her/it from victim status. To use just one example of social liberalism, the family must be redefined in an idiosyncratic way. The demand for same sex marriage, or the legal recognition of domestic partnerships, and even in the end, polygamy, and bestiality, is simply one policy consequence of this radical social liberalism. For the social liberal, government must protect these radically autonomous expressions of free will from any restraint. That requires the end of any traditional notion of self-government, federalism or local control, and the separation of powers. In other words, social liberalism is incompatible with Constitutionalism, including fiscal conservatism. I don’t think that is the position of classical liberals.

John J. Vecchione makes a good point in his Comment on Moser’s posting. Vecchione writes: "One cannot long be both an economic conservative and a social liberal because the policies of social liberalism encourage social breakdown that is then addressed by massive government spending on prisons, health care, ..." etc. The Classical Liberals I have known stridently argue for the legalization of drugs, while they themselves don’t indulge in such things. I make the point that Mr. Vecchione makes, that those who indulge in drugs today, as a practical matter, become in one way or another wards of the state. As Tocqueville argued, this radical individualism requires or demands a centralized administration.

An aside on Ron Paul, he is the exception who proves the rule. When he ran for Governor of Texas (I believe it was in 1982), he lost the Republican Primary. He then won the Libertarian Party nomination for President in 1984 (his main rival, if I recall correctly, was Sista Boom Boom). He then found a district in Texas where he could be re-elected to Congress, running as a Republican. So the Libertarian must run as a Republican, even in Texas. He is one of my favorite Congressmen because he is principled and bases his actions on the Constitution (sometimes a too narrow reading of that document, I think). The Libertarians have something like the status of Epicureans at the time of Vergil. Interesting and, in many cases, admirable but there’s just not enough of them to go around to be politically relevant.

I’m getting long-winded (well, it’s this or blue books). I think Janiskee’s point stands: It is impossible to combine social liberalism with fiscal conservatism in public life today. I argue that’s because they have two diametrically opposed starting points.

Thanks to John Moser for provoking me.


The curse of the Billy Goat and the curse of the Bambino are alive. It is best to remain silent in their presence.

NLT’s anniversary and our purse

Let’s pat ourselves on the back. We started No Left Turns one year ago, as the Ashbrook Center blog. We wanted to have a place in which we could bring interesting news stories and commentary to the attention of our friends on a daily basis. And, of course, we wanted to offer a place to our unusual bloggers (professors, scholars and friends from Ashland, Hillsdale, Washington and Lee, the American Enterprise Institute, the Claremont Institute, St. Louis University, etc.) to pontificate on whatever they thought was interesting and important. We had no idea of how it would work, or that it would be valuable. We think it has worked and it is of value. We have grown together, suffering one another and encouraging our virtues, yet always molded to one stem. Help us celebrate our anniversary by putting money in our purse. Thank you.

Dubya and Arnold meet

Here is the San Francisco Chronicle report of their private meeting which, apparently, went well, and the few words they said after the meeting (I haven’t seen it on TV yet): "For his part, Bush said he was glad to have met Schwarzenegger, then joked about ’how much we have in common.’

Both ’married well,’ said Bush, and ’some accuse both of us of not being able to speak the language.’ Bush also joked that he and Schwarzenegger also shared a third thing in common: ’big biceps.’ When the laughter subsided, Bush suggested that ’two out of three isn’t bad.’" I told you it would be full of mirth.

The Queen and the EU Constitution

The Daily Telegraph reports the following: "The Queen is growing more concerned about Tony Blair’s plans to sign a European constitution that she fears could undermine her role as sovereign.

The Telegraph has learnt that Buckingham Palace has asked for documents highlighting the constitutional implications of the EU’s plans to be sent to her advisers."

What Americans believe

This FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll states, among other things: "The national poll, conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, shows that about a third of Americans believe in ghosts (34 percent) and an equal number in UFOs (34 percent), and about a quarter accept things like astrology (29 percent), reincarnation (25 percent) and witches (24 percent)." Also this: "Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they believe in God (by eight percentage points), in heaven (by 10 points), in hell (by 15 points), and considerably more likely to believe in the devil (by 17 points). Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say they believe in reincarnation (by 14 percentage points), in astrology (by 14 points), in ghosts (by eight points) and UFOs (by five points)."

Can the Twain Meet?

Thanks to Mickey Craig for calling attention to this article, which, while interesting, proves nothing. That there can be no such thing as a person who is simultaneously an economic conservative and a social liberal is demonstrably false. There are thousands of such people, and they call themselves libertarians, or classical liberals, or something of that sort.

More importantly, the author here is making a very bold claim, but basing it on the narrowest of samples--the current makeup of the United States Senate. It does not even extend its analysis to the House, where the author would at least have to deal with Ron Paul (R-Texas), a former Libertarian Party candidate for president.

The real question, it seems to me, is not whether or not "libertarians" can exist, but rather why there are none in the Senate. My hypothesis is that it has a great deal to do with the amount of fundraising that must be done to be elected at a statewide level. The pressure groups that keep Republicans and Democrats alike in office have little interest in supporting true mavericks. A consistent liberal, or a consistent conservative, would seem to be a far safer bet.

I’m certainly willing to have this hypothesis shot down, but the argument that a survey of the Senate establishes that one cannot be economically conservative and socially liberal is unconvincing.

Can the Twain Meet: Social Liberal-Fiscal Conservative

Brian Janiskee posts this article on Arnold, Gray Davis, Tom McClinitock and the Recall on The Claremont Institute’s web-site.

Janiskee asks the question: whether such a thing as a social liberal and fiscal conservative can co-exist in the same person. Janiskee reviews the voting records of social liberals in the U.S. Senate and finds that not one rates better than a ’C+’ on fiscal conservatism. Indeed, what he finds is that social conservatives tend to be fiscal conservatives, etc.

Let’s hope the son-in-law of Camelot can put the two pieces together.

Mirabile dictu

Is Latin dead? Terrence Moore doesn’t think so, and he’s glad of it. "One curious phenomenon of contemporary school reform is that Latin is making a comeback. Recent press releases indicate that nationwide certain schools are experiencing growth in their Latin programs, the number of students taking the AP Latin Exam has doubled in a decade, and students are actually enjoying their study of the language. The reasons for taking Latin are various, but they all stem from the advantages of either utility or pleasure."

Property and the Founding

In piddling around with some issues of property, especially as understood during the Founding, I came across this paper by our own Eric Claeys. Clicking on his name will give you the summary, and clicking here will give you the whole paper in PDF form. It is entitled, "Property, Morality, and Society in Founding Era Legal Treatises."  

Pursuing Biohappiness

Leon Kass, Chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics, has this excellent piece in the Washington Post on the "kind of human being and the sort of society we will be creating in the coming age of biotechnology."

Economy picking up speed

The economy is picking up steam: "The U.S. economic recovery is picking up steam, according to government reports on Thursday, indicating the job market is improving and the troubled factory sector is turning around. U.S. industrial production rose in September, the Federal Reserve said, as factory output posted its biggest gain since April 2000."

Dreier vs. Boxer?

The Washington Times speculates that Arnold’s right-hand-man may be willing and eager to take on U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.

Nomina sunt consequentia rerum

Pejman Yousefzadeh has a modest proposal: rename the Nobel Peace Prize to the Nobel Freedom Prize because he agrees with Dante that "names are the consequence of things."  

Clinton on al Qaeda to Bush

Bill Clinton "said his inability to convince Bush of the danger from al Qaeda was ’one of the two or three of the biggest disappointments that I had.’"

Terror moving to Africa

Paul Marshall’s op-ed in the WaPo is pretty clear and pretty hard on the Bush administration. Terrorists are not only moving into African countries in a big way (especially to Somalia, Kenya, and Tanzania), but radical Islam is spreading South of the Sahara, and we are not doing much about it, he argues. 

Scalia’s Recusal

Here’s one take on Scalia’s recusal from the Supreme Court’s Pledge of Allegiance case by law professor Jonathan Adler at NRO’s The Corner:

As the Washington Post reports Justice Scalia has recused himself from the Pledge of Allegiance case. Might this lead to a 4-4 affirmance of the Ninth Circuit? Perhaps, though there are other possible outcomes. (One possibility is that the Supreme Court tosses the whole case, holding plaintiff Michael Newdow never had standing to challenge the school board policy.)

The Celebrity Bandwagon

Yahoo reports that TV’s Pat O’Brien is considering a run for Governor in S. Dakota in 2006.

Maybe Barbra can run against Arnold in 2006.

The banal view of Arnold’s victory

William Schneider, of CNN fame. I had always assumed that the things he said on CNN were scripted to be banal and inoffensive, and therefore not interesting. I guess I was wrong, as this so-called analysis of the California recall and Arnold’s victory in The Atlantic shows. He may have disposed to think at some time in the past, but another CNN thought struck him. Too bad, it’s just the Democratic line, re-packaged. Change worked against Davis, so it will work against Bush. We’re in deep waters here, folks.

Clark Leads in California

The Field Poll (PDF) says that Clark leads among Demos in California with 17 percent. Dean and Lieberman are at 14 percent, Kerry is at 9, and Gephardt has 5 percent.

Roots of Hispanic

This Washington Post article tells the story of how the word Hispanic (rather than Latino, for example) came into use by the Feds. Unsurprisingly, it has to do with a committee of bureaucrats in the Department of Health and Human Services, in 1975. It’s very much worth reading. I am reminded of a speech Richard Rodriguez (author of "Hunger of Memory") last year sometime (I saw it on C-Span) in which he said something like this, by way of mocking such nomenclatures: I flew to Bolivia once, got off the plane, went to the nearest local and said to him, "Would you be kind enough to take me to a Hispanic, I’ve never met one. He didn’t know what I was talking about."

Bush-Arnold meeting

Here is the L.A. Times story on the Bush-Arnold meeting that is supposed to happen today (soon). " When President Bush shakes hands with California Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday in Riverside, the event will be as scripted as if Bush were meeting a foreign head of state." Not bad. Yet, as you read the article, you will note that it has a tinge of both saddness and apprehension about it. The writer implies that they will have a lot to overcome, a lot of wrinkles to iron out, if the meeting is to go well. Well, I think that’s hogwash. The meeting and the short speeches will be friendly, open, and full mirth and merryment. All the world’s a stage, and neither will forget his part.

Palestinian dread

Palestinians are dreading the USA’s wrath after murders. Good.

Iraq war swells al Qaeda’s ranks

reports that the International Institute of Strategic Studies (payment required) argues that the "War in Iraq has swollen the ranks of al Qaeda and galvanized the Islamic militant group’s will." US intelligence appears to agree with this assesment.

Pain and ethnicity

University of Michigan reports on a study that examined (or tried to?) different kinds of pain (e.g., from broken bones, from cold, etc) and how people of different ethnic background put up with it. “Across the board, and consistently, there are racial and ethnic differences in pain." Examples: Hispanics from broken bones are more likely to go without pain medication than say Hungarians (I’m making that up! Although I don’t like being without Advil.) Weird stuff. I wasn’t surprised to find a dentist deeply involved in such studies. A better study would be this: What kind of people want to become dentists, and why, regardless of their ethnic background?

Genetic Dispositions

Reuters reports that:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 — The Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a landmark bill that would bar health insurers and employers from discriminating against people who have a genetic predisposition to disease.

The President has said he will sign it.

The Spectator is Back

The October hard-copy issue of ’The American Spectator’ announces that the old gang is back in charge of the Spectator. After years of persecution by the Clinton adminstration, all sorts of financial difficulties, and a change in owners, Emmett Tyrrell is back as editor in chief, Wladyslaw Pleszczynski is back as executive editor, and Bob Bartley now serves as a Senior Editorial Advisor, along with Alfred Regnery as Publisher.

Steve Hayward has an excellent review of Lou Cannon’s latest entitled ’Governor Reagan’ and Peter Robinson’s ’How Reagan Changed my Life.’

Among many other excellent articles, there’s a nice interview with Congressman Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and his primary challenge to Arlen Specter.

Check it out at the Spectator’s refined and enlarged web-site.

Newsweek and the Problem of Pain

Apologies for the length of this post, but things need to be said about Newsweek’s hit piece on Rush Limbaugh that fails to veil Evan Thomas’s glee and the palpable disdain for Limbaugh and his 20 million listeners. I can’t resist highlighting Thomas’s east-coast boorishness and poor word-choice.

Limbaugh’s story owes more to the “Wizard of Oz” than “The Scarlet Letter.” The man behind the curtain is not the God of Family Values but a childless, twice-divorced, thrice-married schlub whose idea of a good time is to lie on his couch and watch football endlessly. When Rush Limbaugh declared to his radio audience that he was “your epitome of morality of virtue, a man you could totally trust with your wife, your daughter, and even your son in a Motel 6 overnight,” he was acting.

First, the Oxford English Dictionary defines "schlub" as something of a blockhead: a "worthless person, a ’jerk’, an oaf." For context, the OED provides this example: "When a man doesn’t know the facts and nobody will tell him and people keep throwing apples and unkind remarks at him, he has no choice but to look like a schlub." Characterizing Limbaugh as a schlub is the sort of Al Franken ad hominem that really ought to be above the standards of a national news magazine. But beyond that, it’s not even an accurate ad hominem description. The fact is Limbaugh makes his living discussing daily world and national events in law, politics and culture in a way that has captivated 20 million Americans every weekday for the past 15 years. But I’m sure any ol’ schlub could do that.

Second, Thomas’s assertion that Rush’s idea of a good time is related to a couch and football seems based on a quote from Maureen Dowd who claims that Rush told her that he works, watches the news, and the N.F.L. So? I fail to see how this makes Rush a schlub. The guy works, reads news incessantly, pays vigilant attention to world-events, analyzes speeches, editorials, and commentary, and yet his downtime watching football somehow detracts from his mental accumen? Even watching football turned into a brief stint on ESPN as a commentator!

Then, of course, there’s the obvious response: If Rush is such an idiot, why is Howard Dean running against him? Why do the Dems run against Rush every election year? Why do they lament the dominance of Rush and his dittoheads on talk radio? Why do they look for a liberal answer to the EIB Network? There is a strong sentiment among liberals that Rush may be the biggest, most powerful weapon the Right has in its arsenal (which is likely why the National Enquirer held this story for 2 years). Apparently, the Left has been out-smarted by a schlub. Pity.

But Thomas’s disdain is apparent throughout the piece, as he acknowledges: "Limbaugh’s act has won over, or fooled, a lot of people....he is the darling of Red State, Fly-Over America." Imagine us Red State folk being fooled by a schlub. But I repeat myself.

The kicker for Thomas’s piece though is the ending: "Limbaugh’s long-running act as a paragon of virtue is over. Now the question is whether he can make a virtue out of honesty." Make a virtue out of honesty? This is Limbaugh’s job? Perhaps after years in Washington covering the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal Thomas has forgotten that honesty is in fact still a virtue, and that by admitting his addiction, taking steps to overcome it, and cooperating with investigators, Limbaugh has already succeeded in following this very virtue. Whether he continues to act virtuously in this regard remains to be seen, but it’s certainly not Rush’s job to "make a virtue out of honesty." What does that even mean?

Losing Bin Laden

Horace Cooper had this to say about Richard Miniter’s new book "Losing Bin Laden: How Bill Clinton’s Failures Unleashed Global Terror."

The Terrorist’s Morality

The Telegraph reports the following:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, yesterday urged America to recognise that terrorists can "have serious moral goals".


Dr Williams said that no government should act as its own judge on whether to launch military action against a rogue state.
"Violence is not to be undertaken by private persons," he said. "If a state or administration acts without due and visible attention to agreed international process, it acts in a way analogous to a private person. It purports to be judge of its own interest."

Mind you, he wasn’t speaking here of our actions in Iraq. Rather, he said, "in its criticism of al-Qa’eda, America loses the power of self-criticism and becomes trapped in a self-referential morality." And to think, this guy isn’t even French.

Out of Gaza

U.S. citizens have been ordered out of Gaza, after three Americans were killed.

South American mischief

Are there connections between Venezuela and terrorism? Check out this UPI story. In the meantime, tanks have encircled the presidential palace in Bolivia, where things are rough and are likely to get rougher; over fifty people have been killed during the last few weeks.

Jill Stewart blasts L.A. Times

Jill Stewart rips the Los Angeles Times on its attempt to hurt Arnold during the last few days before the election. Long, but enlightening; not to the Times advantage.

Ex-Clinton aides on Clinton

Rich Lowry, whose book Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years has just appeared (I haven’t read it, yet) recounts what Clinton’s aides say about the man. Fascinating.  

Body Armor

Phil Carter has more on the body armor issue (brought up by Alt earlier today). He asks why there is a backlog, and he claims it has to do with the overall trend toward consolidation in the defense industry; smaller firms have been swallowed up by larger firms or have gone out of business. He thinks that this is a strategic risk and the strategy of pre-emption is in danger. Good, short read. 

Arnold’s Transition Committee

Here is the full list of Arnold’s Transition Committee, with brief bios. A number of interesting names should be noted: Eloise Anderson, Sally Pipes, George Schultz, Bill Simon, et al.

Latinos in California turning toward GOP?

This Los Angeles Times article considers the Latino vote in the recall. About 55% of Latinos voted against the recall, and about the same percent voted for Bustamante (in past elections Demos could count on about 70%). Democrats are concerned with this drop and they should be, especially when it is noted, as the article does, that the more upwardly mobile the Latino voter is, the more likely he is to vote Republican. 

Moore Latin

For those of you who are not big on Latin translations of popular songs, Terrence Moore offers this more scholarly statement on why the study of Latin is gaining popularity. As always, Moore is worth a read.   

Scalia Recuses Himself

Nate Stewart’s blog below reports that the Supreme Court will take up the Pledge of Allegiance case This Washington Post article reports that Justice Scalia has recused himself from the case, it seems, because he has expressed an opinion on the issue.

God save this honorable Court.

God in the Public Square

With the Supreme Court’s decision to take the Pledge of Allegiance case making waves, I thought I would bring to your attention this short piece I wrote immediately after the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, describing other references to God in the public square that would seem just as unconstitutional under the Ninth Circuit’s reasoning.

Pumping Irony

Andrew Sullivan writes a clever piece on Arnold as a model of a new kind of politician. It is thoughtful, even if you don’t agree with it. "In our political wars, he’s a synthesis. In our culture wars, he’s a truce." Like I said, clever. Ralph Reiland seems to say the same thing, but in prose. And Matt Labash recounts the last five days of the Arnold campaign. To say it was a circus doesn’t do it justice. Very long, too long, but funny. Read only if you have nothing better to do. Back to my Lincoln seminar.


The Daily Telegraph reports that China thinks highly of the European Union and hopes that it will rival the U.S. as a superpower. Glenn Reynolds hopes that the upcomign Chinese space mission will spur competition from us. He thinks NASA is dying. He makes a nice reference to the Chinese cancellation of maritime exploration in the 15th century. That invard looking China is history. Is this a good thing?

Baby Got . . . Clunes?

Alright, the following web site is not for everyone, but for those of you who remember Sir Mix-A-Lot’s popular song about his preference for, umm, large posteriors, someone has taken the time to translate the lyrics into Latin. Hilarious. (Thanks to J. Bird for pointing it out.) 

Don’t Send Cookies . . . Send Body Armor

AP reports that one-quarter of U.S. troops in Iraq do not have the military’s best body armor. This armor, which contains ceramic plate inserts, is desiged to withstand a hit from high powered rifles such as the AK-47s commonly used by Iraqi combatants. The government is blaming the lack of body armor on funding, production, and shipping delays.

In the meantime, however, families of servicemen are picking up the slack. Despite the $1500 price tag, many relatives of servicemen are sending body armor to kin in Iraq. I understand that this is not unusual. A friend related to me a story at dinner this past weekend of a Marine he knows. The soldier said that it was commonplace for Marines to purchase much of their own gear, because they can get better goods on the open market than that which the government provides.

Italian private eyes

Francis X. Rocca asks why the Rome Yellow Pages carries 49 pages of ads and listings (compared with one and a half in central London, and two in Manhattan) for private investigators. He has some thoughtful and amusing answers about Italians love of spying, and their love of and manifest flair for both spectacle and sport.

Dog’s Hitler salute

A German man has taught his dog to give the Hitler salute.

The black sheepdog-mix, named Adolf, has been taught to lift his right front paw up straight in the salute on command. Mercifully short.

Sabine Herold

Matt Welch writes about Sabine Herold, the young French woman--a libertarian--who "has in the last few months emerged as the massively popular and highly photogenic leader of -- zut! -- a burgeoning pro-market, pro-American counterculture in France. Earning comparisons to Joan of Arc, Brigitte Bardot (!), and Margaret Thatcher in the panting British press, she represents something French politics hasn’t seen in years: a public figure eager to take on the country’s endlessly striking unions."

An unholy trinity?

The headline reads: Ban on scientists trying to create three-parent baby. Apparently, Chinese researchers created fetuses (one of which was aborted and the other two dying in the second trimester) with the genetic material of three people. Here is a fairly succinct description of what was done:

The process involves taking the nucleus - which contains all genetic material - out of an unhealthy egg and inserting it into the egg structure of a donor from which all genetic material has been wiped.

The resulting embryo contains all the genetic make-up of the infertile woman but also mitochondrial DNA from the donor egg. Mitochondrial DNA is in effect the powerhouse of all cells and is common to everyone, but it contains tiny and subtle differences in each individual. Therefore, human nuclear transfer creates an embryo with the genetic make-up of two mothers and a father.

Always seems strange to me that China of all places is so actively working on infertility treatments.

Supreme Court to Hear Pledge Case

The AP reports:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will decide whether the Pledge of Allegiance recited by generations of American schoolchildren is an unconstitutional blending of church and state.

Perhaps some of our resident legal scholars can specultate on whether this will still be "one nation under God" or just Sandra Day O’Conner.

Arnold of Ohio

In today’s Wall Street Journal ("Review and Outlook") there is an article on Secretary of State Ken Blackwell’s attemtp to become not only a tax cutter, but also to set "off a useful debate about whether the Republican Party in Ohio stands for anything except retaining power." Blackwell’s political gambit, it goes almost without saying, could have massive consequences for state politics, as well as his own political career. Here is about the first half of the article. You should read the rest in the Journal.

"California isn’t alone. Back East another revolt is brewing against politicians who break their word and raise taxes. This time it’s against the Republicans who’ve been running Ohio’s state government for what seems to be entirely too long.

The ringleader is Ken Blackwell, Secretary of State and apparently a rare Republican who understands that Ohio needs some fiscal discipline. Over the summer Governor Bob Taft and state lawmakers pulled a fast one on taxpayers, approving a 20% sales tax hike as part of an omnibus two-year budget package.

The increase is the largest in state history, and it came after the Governor specifically and repeatedly promised supporters that he would oppose broad-based tax hikes without a public vote. Less than a year ago, the second-term Governor could be found on the campaign trail referring to Democratic opponent Timothy Hagen as ’Tax-Hike Tim.’

Now Tax-Hike Taft’s decision to go back on his word has prompted Mr. Blackwell to do what the Governor originally promised: Take any large tax increase directly to the voters. Mr. Blackwell is leading an effort to repeal the levy, a process that requires him first to gather 96,870 signatures by December 20. If that happens, a bill will be put before the legislature asking it to reconsider the tax increase. If it refuses, Mr. Blackwell says he will gather the necessary additional signatures to ’place the tax repeal directly in the hands of outraged taxpayers on November 2, 2004.’"

Michigan Governor Vetos Abortion Bill

Updating an earlier discussion here, it seems Michigan’s governor has just vetoed the legislature’s attempt to ban partial birth abortions by defining "the moment a person is legally born as when any part of a fetus is expelled from a woman’s body." The vote in both houses was at or very near veto-override margins. Could potentially get more interesting.

In other related news:
INDIANAPOLIS -- Minors need the consent of only one parent to get an abortion, even if their parents are divorced and have joint custody, an Indiana Court of Appeals panel decided.


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A federal judge yesterday blocked a state law that would have required a 24-hour wait for abortions. . . . Planned Parenthood sued to stop the law, contending it was too vague to be properly enforced. The group argued the law doesn’t adequately let abortion providers know what type of conduct is prohibited, and the murky wording would encourage arbitrary enforcement and violate their constitutional right of due process.

First Cloned Embryo Ready

The controversial Dr. Zavos is in the news again with claims that his cloned embryo is ready for implantation. The bad news, of course, is that we may be on the verge of human cloning. The good news is that Dr. Zavos has claimed all of this before and is really only one step removed from Raelian type media hype. Very few (if any) people in genetics research and bioethics for that matter take Dr. Zavos seriously. In case you’re wondering, the reason no one takes him seriously is because no other scientists have even reproductively cloned a primate yet, and all other scientists cloning human embryos have failed after just a few cell divisions.

Davis signs Domestic Partner Law

While those who certify elections in California dilly, Gray Davis continues to dally. This Yahoo report announces that Gray Davis has just signed a Domestic Partnership Law.

You have to admire his brazenness. Perhaps not.

Senator Voinovich speaks

Senator George Voinovich is speaking at the Ashbrook Center today. Click on his name to listen to it live. His talk starts at circa 12:25.


This news report announces that the Texas State Legislature has finally sent a redistricting plan to the Governor. The Republicans in Texas stuck to their guns and have redrawn the map.

Kudos to Governor Perry for sticking to his guns.

David Brooks

Ric Brookhiser offers his thoughts on the reaction of some readers of the ’New York Times’ to David Brooks.


Columbus Day

Here is a high school teacher in Indiana trying to revive a non-revisionist study of Christopher Columbus, "the NASA astronaut of his age." No celebs at the parade today, according to NY Mayor Bloomberg.

Arnold effect in Germany

Reuters reports that Arnold’s election as governor of California is having a surprising effect on the public in Germany. They are beginning to ask why German politicians can’t speak in clear and understandandable German, as Arnold can in English. "Manfred Guellner, managing director of the Forsa polling institute, said there is widespread discontent with politicians.

’The dissatisfaction is growing every day,’ he told Reuters. ’Germany and Europe are ripe for the same sort of phenomenon. People feel they’re being messed with. They want simple language and simple remedies.’"

Monkeys with brain implants

Monkeys, with brain implants, can control robotic arms. "Scientists in North Carolina have built a brain implant that lets monkeys control a robotic arm with their thoughts, marking the first time that mental intentions have been harnessed to move a mechanical object." Needless to say, this could have some intersting uses. "The technology could someday allow people with paralyzing spinal cord injuries to operate machines or tools with their thoughts as naturally as others today do with their hands. It might even allow some paralyzed people to move their own arms or legs again, by transmitting the brain’s directions not to a machine but directly to the muscles in those latent limbs.

The brain implants could also allow scientists or soldiers to control, hands-free, small robots that could perform tasks in inhospitable environments or in war zones."

Politics and Ideology in the Classroom

David Brooks’ 27 September column, "Lonely Campus Voices", deals with the obstacles faced by conservatives who seek academic careers. It has sparked a lively debate on several internet listservs, but particular on the Law and Courts Discussion Group, which came to focus in particular on Robert George of Princeton. The question was raised whether, because of George’s well-known opposition to gay rights, gay and lesbian students might feel uncomfortable in his classes. The discussion has been reproduced here. Definitely worth reading.

Sontag receives German award

Susan Sontag--the silly and shamefull writer--accepted the prestigious peace prize from the German booksellers’ association on Sunday. They said that she has an "exceptional sense of morality and immorality." This about a woman who is incapable of making moral distinctions, for example, between terrorists and not. In her acceptance speech, Sontag held true to her reputation. She seized the opportunity to criticize President George W. Bush’s administration. She drew attention to the "deliberate absence" from the ceremony of the U.S. ambassador to Germany as typical of Washington’s current ideology of distancing itself from "old Europe."

She went on to lament a transatlantic divide shaped by "latent antagonism" and America’s view that it alone could save civilization.

"They see themselves as defending civilization. The barbarians are outside the gates," she said describing the attitude of many Americans, who believe, that as long as "God is on its side," nothing can go wrong.

The anti-American obsession

Jean-Francois Revel has a lengthy article in The New Criterion on this theme. Although long, it is thoughtful in considering globalism, French exceptionalism, French government subsidy for the arts, the spread of the English language, and so on. "Contrary to what Jacques Chirac maintained, globalization is not a ’cultural steamroller.’ It is and always has been an engine of enrichment. Think, for example, how the French artistic sensibility was revitalized by the discovery—or rather fuller knowledge—of Japanese painting afforded at the end of the nineteenth century, or by the arrival in France of African art ten or twenty years later. There are plenty of similar cases. Unless one has been brainwashed by the brawlers of Seattle and Porto Alegre, the age-old lesson of the history of civilizations cannot be erased: barriers are what diminish and sterilize cultures; commingling is what fructifies and inspires them."

Franch arrogance and French decline

This may be a pleasant way to start the week. Paul Webster writes in the London Observer about a France in decline. Apparently, there is much talk in France that is very critical of the country, its leadership, policies, both domestic and foreign, and most especially the French arrogance that continues to be hyperbolic. A good read, the essence: "Both pale into insignificance alongside L’Arrogance française, where the journalist authors, Romain Gubert and Emmanuel Saint-Martin, state: ’With our sermons, our empty gestures and our poetic flights, we (the French) have pissed off the planet. Worse: we make them laugh.

’It’s a sickness to which French people are addicted - believing that France must offer the world Light, Law and Liberty; that their leaders are the carriers of a universal message.’"