Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

New Year’s Greetings: Predictions?

A Happy New Year to all my friends at noleftturns, and a miserable one to all our enemies. Evidently there is an Evan Bayh for Veep boomlet, but he may not be pro-abortion enough for the feminists. Can he deliver normally reliable Republican Indiana for the Dems?

I think Gephardt would be more dangerous for Bush, leading the ticket or #2. And I think 52% seems too low a Bush margin, if Dean gets the nomination. A Dean-Clark ticket might flame out or, with the approriate set of circumstances, prove successful.

I proposed a winning Dean strategy a couple weeks ago on The Remedy at, though this could be the year of the Democratic Party crack-up. A presidential nominee has a lot of inducements to offer-- Secretary of State Clark, Secretary of Defense Lieberman (depending on the Connecticut situation), Attorney General Edwards, etc.

Steve Hayward gave some good arguments for Dean’s unstoppability a few weeks ago, but he still has to win an election outside of Vermont. A pile of money he has, but he shoots his mouth off a lot too.

Dean’s puny opponents may not offer a satisfactory alternative, but the accumulation of body blows they deliver against him may make him incapable of winning a majority of delegates. Of course, that’s not supposed to happen these days, but the Democrats designed the primary system to prevent such a result, so who knows what will actually happen. A brokered convention and united Democrat ticket?

Good News

An English woman had heart attack on a flight that, lucky for her, was full of heart specialists going to a conference in Florida. They saved her life. Brits will drink 130 million pints of beer tonight. I wonder how much the Germans will drink? Pennsylvania is considering a new official tourism slogan. They haven’t decided yet, but this one has been ruled out: "Pennsylvania: We’re old. We’re cranky. Deal with it." A man has been rescued after being trapped under reading material for two days in his apartment. A reclusive Russian may have solved a one hundred year old mathematical problem. A twenty-four year old man named Abraham Lincoln has been arrested on a robbery charge, after he allegedly confronted his ex-girlfriend, bit her on her thumb and ran off with her cell phone.

That reminds me a of real Lincoln story. One of Lincoln’s neighbors told how he went to his door one day to find out why kids in the steet were shouting so. He saw Lincoln walking past with two young boys in tow. "What’s the matter, Mr. Lincoln?” the neighbor asked. "The same thing that’s the matter with the whole world," Lincoln answered. "I have three walnuts, and each one of them wants two of them." That’s enough. I’ve got to get back to writing a review of Guelzo’s new book on the Emancipation Proclamation. Have a good New Year.

Cops on flights

Guardian reports on some interesting new details that may have something to do regarding the cancellation of the French flights on Christmas. The private company in charge of secuirty had apparently hired one convicted killer and a number of others with serious criminal records. It also makes clear that there have been marshalls on French flights to the US since December 23rd. There is more here on both what the French are doing and what other countries, including Mexico, are doing regarding cops on flights.

More Dean notes

Will Saletan has a thoughtful piece on what Dean is doing (he’s having fun at the expense of the Democratic Party) and why he had better stop. There are some good links along the way. Scott Lehigh in the Boston Globe considers the same problem: "Troubling as Dean’s regular stumbles are, what’s even more disconcerting is the battle the former Vermont governor seems to want to wage with a winning Democratic philosophy." The winning philosophy is and has been represented by the Democratic Leadership Council and Clinton’s attempt to govern from the middle. There will be a cost to disowning what’s left of the moderates within the Democrats. Maybe David E. Johnson goes to far in suggesting that a Dean candidacy will help nail down the illusive permanent GOP majority, but, again, maybe not. Robert Samuelson writes that the so-called Bush hatred that underlies much of Dean’s support is dangerous for many reasons, but, perhaps most of all because it reveals something about his opponents:

"His fiercest detractors don’t loathe him merely because they think he’s mediocre, hypocritical and simplistic. What they truly resent is that his popularity suggests that the country might be more like him than it is like them. They fear he’s exiling them politically. On one level, their embrace of hatred aims to make others share their outrage; but on another level, it’s a self-indulgent declaration of moral superiority -- something that makes them feel better about themselves." In the meantime, Dean has "hosted" 1,300 "house parties" all around the country. But Bill Safire thinks that Dean will lose Iowa to Gephardt. Wouldn’t that be fun! I’m not predicting that yet, but it is by no means out of the question. Take a look at Safire’s other predictions, kind of fun.

The Idiot Left in Action: Back to "Amerika"

The so-called "New" Left in the 1960s liked to spell America with a K, as in "Amerika." Very clever.

Well, see what something called the Independent Media Center has done with the Time magazine cover of America’s soldiers.

Anyone wanna bet these folks are Dean supporters? I may wander by their office next week and look for the Dean and Kucinich stickers.

Kerry’s problems continue

John Kerry’s Psycho Chihuahua moment. Look at the whole photo, and not just of this photogenic candidate. That’s enough, I’ve got to get back to Lincoln, fewer bad photos of an unphotogenic man.

The glory of flight

I just caught up with this Walter McDougall reflections on man’s romance with flight. It was written in celebration of the anniversary of the Wright brothers’ triumph.

Hobbit’s hope

Rich Lowry on The Lord of the Rings: "The story’s hobbits are meant to be like us, middle class and unprepossessing. At four-feet tall or less, they seemingly stand no chance in a hostile world of wizards and monsters. But they soldier on and, in remaining true to their duty, help save the world. For all their weakness and failings, they are part of something larger that infuses their struggles with purpose. This is what we all want to believe of our own lives, and when we do, we have hope."


Peter asks for predictions. Try these:

The economy will continue to grow fast--4.5 to 5.5 percent over the next two quarters. The Dow Jones Industrial Average will top 12,000 before the year is out. Unemployment will drop below 6 percent by election day in November.

Geragos goes 0 - 2. Both Michael Jackson and Scott Peterson will be convicted. In Jackson’s case, after a long circus-like trial where O.J. will make a cable TV talk show appearance commenting on the case. Geragos will get a show on MSNBC after the trials. It will be cancelled after three weeks.

The terror network will attempt to destabilize Egypt and Jordan, including probably an assassination attempt on Mubarak.

The Olympic games in Athens will see an attempted terrorist truck bomb, probably directed at Israeli and US athletes, emulating the 1972 Munich attack.

North Korea will resume negotiations over their nuclear program in a conciliatory mood, but won’t make any real concessions until after the election, waiting to see if Bush is re-elected.

Barbara Streisand will make a big stink about being denied a prime-time speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention.

Campaign spending will set a record, with independent expenditures by left-leaning 527 committees exceeding spending by Democratic candidates and official Democratic party committees. The invincibly ignorant will declare that campaign finance reform has failed; therefore, we need even more reform!

Howard Dean will wrap up the nomination by the end of March, after a boomlet for Gephardt and/or Clark fails in the South Carolina primary.

The media will float rumors about Dick Cheney’s health, mostly to cause trouble in the GOP. Look also for an attempt to manufacture a scandal involving Karl Rove, in an effort to distract the White House.

There will be a running mate boomlet in the early summer for California’s Dianne Feinstein and Washington Governor Gary Locke, partly to keep up interest heading into the Boston convention. In the end, however, Dean will pick either Evan Bayh or New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as his running mate. I lean to Richardson. He is a person to watch for 2008 in any case. Here’s why: The conventional wisdom is that only a southern Democrat can win the presidency any more (think Carter and Clinton). But there aren’t any southern Democrats of stature left. The next most likely winner for the Democrats will come from the inter-mountain west, where Dems are nearly as weak as thay are in the South. The Dem bench in the west is almost as thin as the South. Richardson is the most plausible; as a Hispanic with an Anglo name, he offers major cross-over potential. He creates a rival to Hillary for 2008 should Dean lose. As a former UN ambassador, he gives Dean some foreign policy help.

Last but not least, the Big One: Bush will be re-elected with 52 percent of the vote. Though thin, it will be a widely distributed majority, making for an electoral college landslide for Bush. Dean will carry New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland, New Jersey, Washington, Wisconsin, and one or two more. Bonus prediction: Dean will lose his home state of Vermont. Republicans will gain 8 seats in the House, and 3 in the Senate.

Howard Dean’s power play

It shouldn’t surprise you that I find the primary battle among Democrats especially fascinating during this cycle. It also shouldn’t surprise you that even though I sometimes pontificate on it all, I don’t really know what is going on. But I’m trying to understand. I am. A couple of thoughts. Clinton moves the party back towards the center, becoming the first Demo president to be re-elected since FDR. Quite an accomplishment, albeit marred by scandal (but that’s another story). His VP, also instrumental in moving the party back toward the center, loses the election in a close one; no one has been elected president while losing his home state. The Demos come to especially hate Bush, and unnaturally stay focused on the close outcome in Florida. September 11 happens, everything is affected. But the Demos don’t see this as a monumental event. They lose ground in 2002. Gore shifts left, and others do the same (not yet Lieberman and Gephardt) especially after the Iraq war. The economy is made into an issue, and then dropped over time because it proved ineffective. The emphasis on the Iraq gambit forces them into harping criticisms from WMD issues to multilateralism, all the while trying to de-authorize Bush who is now turned into a knave and a liar. Howard Dean is like a lazer-beam on these matters, and no one else gets traction. Wesley Clark becomes the great hope, surrounded by Clintonistas, but he quickly stumbles many times. All the while Hillary dominates the polls, but will not run and everyone knows that she is setting up for 2008. What energy remains in the party goes toward Dean. He prospers--despite his misstatements and and missteps--and all the others stumble. It is now said that no one can stop this angry man. And he now says that if the nomination is taken from him, he will make the Democratic Party pay. What this means is that there is no Democratic Party. Dean is right, he is in the process of creating a new one, and, should he fail, then Hillary will create one in her own image: moderate, thoughtful, and, shimmering with a celebrity-like quality. And, it so happens, she is married to a rock star who, at every appearance, can raise ten times the amount of money that Howard Dean can. So, as a Republican, I don’t worry about 2004, but I am concerned with 2008. In the meantime, I observe the crippling of the oldest political party in the U.S. If Dean becomes the nomineee he will lose by fifteen points and the Demos will lose at least five seats in the Senate and somewhere between five and ten seats in the House. Even Hillary will have a tough time rebuilding that shell that used to be called a great political party.

Bush and Dean and their souls

David Brooks’ op-ed in today’s New York Times deserves a read. It is essentially true and artful. If you only had 800 words to try to say something intelligent about how Americans view their religious faith, this may be the best way of doing it. This is not to say that more can’t be said on the subject, of course. Take this from Brooks: "This tendency to emphasize personal growth over any fixed creed has shaped our cultural and political life. First, it’s meant that Americans are reasonably tolerant, generally believing that all people of good will are basically on the same side. In London recently, President Bush said that Christians and Muslims both pray to the same God. That was theologically controversial, but it was faithful to the national creed." You could reverse the first sentence to explain how religion has been effected by the political creed of natural rights and natural right, the American Proposition. Religious freedom has meant--in part--a kind of enforced moderation on those sects (Catholic, Mormon, just to cite two) that were inclined to misunderstand or not fully understand equality under God. And it has meant that a never-ending conversation take place between individuals who are free and rational beings made in the image of God and who are concerned about the well-being of their souls. Hence Bush and Dean, as Brooks claims, "If they met in a Bible study group and talked about their eternal souls, they’d probably embrace."

Overseas terror notes

Over fifty people have been arrested by intelligence agencies in the wake of latest attack on President Pervez Musharraf besides shifting security of the General in the hands of the Pakistan Army. Some were from Afghanistan. The Philipines has arrested and interrogated two American brothers, one of whom is on a U.S. watchlist for active links to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network, intelligence and immigration officials said on Monday. Saudi officials are being targeted by al Qaeda, according to The New York Times. The BBC reports that all this is making the Saudis very nervous. The L.A. Times reports this little tid-bit: "A Syrian trading company with close ties to the ruling regime smuggled weapons and military hardware to Saddam Hussein between 2000 and 2003, helping Syria become the main channel for illicit arms transfers to Iraq despite a stringent U.N. embargo, documents recovered in Iraq show." Shock and surprise! We are establishing a connection between terrorists and drugs. Peter Brooks says that we nabbed six Arabs with suspected al Qaeda links were arrested in Syria carrying $23 million in cash. That’s a lot of pocket change. Five suspects are being held in connection with the deadly spree of attacks in Karbala, a spokesman for the coalition’s multinational forces in this southern Iraqi city said.

"We have captured five people and the investigation is ongoing," said Major Dezso Kiss, a Hungarian attached to the Polish-led multinational division of the US-commanded coalition in Iraq.

Mad cow

The USDA is standing by its detection system. Sandy Szwarc maintains that the risk from all this is next to zero, and there should be no panic. Quite detailed and clear. Scott C. Ratzan also cautions against hysteria.

A small gift?

We are coming to the end of the year. This is a good time for y’all to consider being generous. We love putting out No Left Turns, but it does cost something, aside from my time, which isn’t worth much even on a good day. So if you have some spare change in your poke, go here. Show good will that is great, though the gift be small. Thanks.

Poland and Israel

and Israel signed a deal worth some $350 million over the next 10 years to provide the Polish army with some 2,700 state-of-the-art Israeli anti-tank missiles. The missiles will be produced in Poland.

Saudi paradox

Michael Scott Doran of Princeton writes a lengthy piece on Saudi Arabia and their internal politics and contradictions. Sort of non-commital analysis, but full of interesting information. Very long. Note that a car bomb has just exploded East of Riyadh.

Dirty words on TV

James McWhorter is one of the smarter guys writing about the decline in the culture (and language), and although he regrets the decline, he understands that most of it is irreversible. Language reflects who we are. Hold on to your hats!

Demo notes

Dean maintains his lead in New Hampshire, with Kerry second and Clark third. Meanwhile, a new ad for Wesley Clark features Bill Clinton for the first time. The Clintons will not favor Clark publicly, especially when it does not look like he is going to be able to win. That Dean will take a drubbing from Bush is not that disadvantageous to Hillary for 2008; she will be able to argue--with greater ease than if Clark just barely lost--that the party has to be pulled back to the center and she is the one to do it. George Will explains that while Dean doesn’t look good for the Demos, they had better make him the nominee or else he might go the third-paty route.

Our Iraqi plans tempered

Washington Post story (Sunday) claims that the insurgency movement has forced us to modify our plans for post-war Iraq.

Stretching the Meaning of War?

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, writes a lengthy critique of our war against terror, which he even calls "metaphorical." I bring this article to your attention not because it is great or persuasive (it is neither) but because it looks like the best that the establishment Left can do (hence it is published in Foreign Affairs, the establishment journal). Phil Carter does a good job in questioning some of Roth’s assumptions and arguments.

Bernard Lewis on the war

Bernard Lewis uses the capture of Saddam to reflect on the war against terror, and what is at stake. 

We are not Poles apart

Tom Friedman has a good piece on the Poles and their amazing (but to me not surprising) pro-Americanism. The cultivation of Poland as an ally (and other New European counries) is very important to us. It not only gives us a better in to all of Europe, but also makes sure that the New Europeans will add a saner voices to the Eroupean Union, when they become full members.


A Tanzanian man killed himself by drinking a chemical used in cattle dips, leaving a suicide note saying "I’ve decided to end my life, I am fed up with the constant nagging of my first wife."
Bridge players threaten boycott after town officials abolished a $4 weekly prize at the afternoon bridge club, saying it violated gambling laws. A two-year old model who cut his head at a playground is seeking unspecified lost wages and other compensation from the city.
Two Wal Mart store clerks were caught intentionally ramming shopping carts into a police cruiser on Christmas even; they were arrested and fired. Howard Dean reveals his "Jesus strategy," as his campaign moves South.

The Standing Ovation

This is a good article on how the standing ovation is being misused, hence devaluing excellence. Thanks to Doctor Curmudgeon.

The Return of the King

Paul Cella has a thoughtful comment about The Return of the King. I have also seen it, and agree with his comment:

"A masterpiece. A few blunders linger from the second film (the use of Gimli almost exclusively for comic relief does not abate, for example), but others are corrected or at least mitigated (Faramir’s character is restored by a combination of benign neglect and an effective depiction of his callous and despondent father), and there are a variety of minor departures from Tolkien’s text — some of which are sure to irritate. But in a broad and sympathetic sense I have no complaints about the film.

At the heart of this story is the venerable but neglected ideal of masculine friendship. If we manage to recover this idea, then these movies will have contributed to something of immense value. They will have helped make us men again."

Diary of a Dean-o-Phobe

Jonathan Chait of The New Republic has launched a blog in which he lays out exactly what he dislikes about Howard Dean.

Interview with Christopher Hitchens

The History News Network reprints an interview with Christopher Hitchens, which originally appeared at

In a particularly interesting passage, he recounts how 9/11 affected him:

Here was a time for the Left to demand a top-to-bottom house-cleaning of the state and of our covert alliances, a full
inquiry into the origins of the defeat, and a resolute
declaration in favor of a fight to the end for secular and
humanist values: a fight which would make friends of the
democratic and secular forces in the Muslim world. And instead,
the near-majority of "Left" intellectuals started sounding like
Falwell, and bleating that the main problem was Bush’s
legitimacy. So I don’t even muster a hollow laugh when this
pathetic faction says that I, and not they, are in bed with the
forces of reaction.

The Medici’s back in the news

Scientists are going to exhume remains of the Medici clan. American and Italian scientists desire to find out what they ate, what illnesses they had, and maybe which one(s) died from natural causes, etc. But Lorenzo the Magnificent will be left alone (can’t get to him). The Medici’s continue to suffer the malignity of fortune.

New blog

The American Thinker is a new blog. It looks good; click on Contributors. (Thanks to Powerline)


Peter Bergen tries to explain what al Qaeda is. "Some attacks will continue to be planned by the terrorist organization itself, others will be carried out by affiliate groups acting in the name of al Qaeda and additional operations will be executed by local jihadists who have little or no direct connection to al Qaeda. The last is perhaps the most worrisome development, because it suggests that al Qaeda has successfully turned itself from an organization into a mass movement -- one that has been energized by the war in Iraq." Agence-France Press reports that al Qaeda is behind the attack on Pakistan’s Musharaff. The London Guardian reports that an electronic jamming device in Musharaff’s limo that delayed the blast by a second or two saved his life. The N.Y. Post urges Musharaff to imitate Egypt after the assassination of Anwar Sadat: clamp down on extremists. L.A. Times is reporting that U.S. officials have a much broader concern than flights from France. Fox News reports this: "Disaster teams are ready to respond to any strike by the Al Qaeda terrorist network and special equipment is monitoring the air for biological agents in some 30 cities, the Bush administration said Thursday."

Bush’s prospects for re-election

USA Today runs a nice chart showing that presidents who have an over 50% job approval rating one year out have won re-election (except Carter). Bush’s job approval is at 63%.

Intelligence from Saddam capture

Alan Sipress writes in the WaPo that "As U.S. forces tracked Saddam Hussein to his subterranean hiding place, they unearthed a trove of intelligence about five families running the Iraqi insurgency, according to U.S. military commanders, who said the information is being used to uproot remaining resistance forces. Senior U.S. officers said they were surprised to discover -- clue by clue over six months -- that the upper and middle ranks of the resistance were filled by members of five extended families from a few villages within a 12-mile radius of the volatile city of Tikrit along the Tigris River. Top operatives drawn from these families organized the resistance network, dispatching information to individual cells and supervising financial channels, the officers said. They also protected Hussein and passed information to and from the former president while he was on the run."

Keegan on the G.I.

John Keegan reflects on the American soldier, not only as a warrior, but as a reflection of the country. They are not imperialists, but rather "incurably democratic."    

Ben Colgan’ family

L.A. Times runs this story about one of the central characters--2nd Lt. Ben Colgan--in the Time mag issue devoted to "The American Soldier" as the Person of the Year (not available on line). Time reports on Colgan’s death and the effect that it had on his platoon, and the L.A. Times considers the effect his death had on the family (his parents are pacifists). The Time issue is worth reading in hard copy, and this Times story is well done.

Berlusconi on Gaddafi

Daily Telegraph has a short note on Berlusconi from a few months ago and in the middle you find this: "A spokesman for Mr Berlusconi said the prime minister had been telephoned recently by Col Gaddafi of Libya, who said: ’I will do whatever the Americans want, because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid.’" I know, this sounds too good to be true, so it probably isn’t. Yet, it probably should be; twenty years of sanctions notwithstanding. I’ll let those who drink from deeper wells figure out the difference between final and efficient cause in this case. But what is clear is that they (Iraq and Gaddafi’s decision) are not, indeed they cannot be, disconnected. And see

Charles Krauthammer on the issue of whether this is a triumph of diplomacy or the aftershocks of war.

Powell on Syria

Secretary of State Colin Powell has a few comments on Syria.

Enriched Uranium removed

The WaPo reports on the 37 pounds of enriched uranium found in Bulgaria and removed in a joint American-Ruassian operation. Apparently this will not be the last such effort.

British General’s words

This is a story on a British General who is about to leave Iraq, review how things are going. He has become an optimist in the months he’s been there.

Letter from a dead soldier

This is a heart-breaking story out of Colorado about the last words of a soldier to his wife.

McDean? Maybe Not. . .

Eric Fetterman makes the case for Howard Dean as George McGovern in today’s New York Post. This is a popular "meme" with everybody these days, especially the GOP.

Although it is compelling, the Dean-McGovern comparison breaks down at one important level that has been overlooked. One of the reasons that McGovern became "McGovernized," so to speak, was the long primary season in 1972. McGovern and Humphrey were still slogging it out as late as the California primary in early June. McGovern had to keep tacking to the left all spring to maintain his momentum against a furious assault by Humphrey and Scoop Jackson. It left him little time to try to get back to the center.

Dean, on the other hand, is likely to have the nomination wrapped up by March 1, which gives him lots of time, before lots of voters have paid close attention, to inch back to the center. You can expect him to have lots of help from the media. GOP attempts to highlight his loopy/crazy statements will be dismissed as "old news."

The Deal with Libya

Libya reached a deal over the bombing of Pan AM 103 before the current administration was in office. It is reasonable, therefore, to conclude that neither the policies of the Bush administration nor the war in Iraq explain that change in Libyan behavior. What appears to explain it is the regime of international sanctions that the United States, Great Britain and France put in place on Libya through the UN in the early 1990s. The recent agreement over Libya’s WMD is a continuation of this process. Did the war in Iraq help persuade Libya to give up its weapons? Yes, probably. Was the war in Iraq the sole cause of the Libyan decision? No, probably.

Segregationists Doth Protest Too Much

Surprise, surprise, as Charles Johnson relates in his Wall St. Journal op-ed today, "Essie Mae Williams (nee Thurmond)", it appears that at least one preacher of white supremacy and racial purity didn’t consistently practice the hate that he preached.

Now that the late Strom Thurmond has been outed as the father of an out-of-wedlock daughter to his black maid way back in the day (1925), it remains for the nation to come to terms with an insecure past masked by the security of numbers, at least for those with white skin. Read Johnson’s essay as a springboard to Ralph Ellison’s posthumously published novel, Juneteenth, perhaps the most profound literary presentation of the possibilities and pitfalls of an American solution to its own racial conundrum.

The rule of law and the war on terror

Ruth Wedgewood, a prof at Johns Hopkins, writes a sober op-ed on Padilla case and criticizes the Second Cicuit’s opinion. She asks: "What is the government to do, for example, when it knows of catastrophic threats or dangers to Americans through intelligence sources, yet is unable to prove its case in a criminal trial against those planning such attacks. Also check out Phil Carter’s analysis of this case.

Odds and ends

This London Telegraph article reports on the French reaction to the Lybia agreement. It is clear that the French are isolated, and they know it. Watch for some re-evaluations of their diplomatic status. It is difficult to see a way out for them. After all, they can’t very well admit that the Bush doctrine has had an effect on Lybia, can they? In the meantime, Wesley Clark, continuing his inability to speak the truth [CNN asks: "Did Howard Dean offer you the vice-presidential slot?" Clark: "It depends what you mean by offered."] credits Clinton with the Ghadafy breakthrough. Mark Steyn explains that Europe is barren, both of religion and children, and how the two are connected. And ABC Poll finds Bush beating Dean 55-37%. Happy birthday to me!

Stress and disease

The Washington Post reports that

"Scientists are gaining new insights into the role of temperament in making some people vulnerable to physical disease through studies exploring how stress influences the immune system, weakening disease-fighting cells and creating fertile environments for pathogens." Shy men are at a disadvantage compared to outgoing men, and people with emotional disorders (depression, for example) are less able to fight off disease. This doesn’t seem shocking to me; modern science is proving what my grandmother knew, and we call it progress.

Libya and Iraq

There is no question that the capitulation of Libya is great news for the world (and Bush’s foreign policy), regardless of what talking heads from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace say.
Steven den Beste has a good analysis of the relationship between our effort in Iraq and why Libya has capitulated. Those who argue that this is an example that twenty years of diplomavy and sanctions can work have it wrong, he argues. He elucidates the British role in all this, and he is probably correct. And he notes that more such "diplomatic" victories should come our way as a result of our work in Iraq. And, I can’t help noting with glee that the Weasels (old Europe) are gasping for air, as their authority continues to sink. William Safire agrees.

Old and new Europe

Andrew Sullivan has a comment on Wesley Clark (and Dean) and their understanding of our foreign policy and Europe that is worth quoting in full:

"An interesting position from Wesley Clark:
’And I would say to the Europeans, I pledge to you as the American president that we’ll consult with you first. You get the right of first refusal on the security concerns that we have. We’ll bring you in.’
The right of first refusal. I’m with Clark on consultation and on building the U.S. alliance in Europe. But first refusal? That’s tantamount to Howard Dean’s view that we should seek the "permission" of the United Nations before military action. Permission? But my deeper problem is that Clark doesn’t seem to have moved beyond the Europe of the Cold War. Things were different then. France and Germany had the Soviet Union breathing down their necks. The EU was far smaller than it is today and will be tomorrow. The truth is: Rummy was right. There are now two Europes - the core Europe of France, Germany and the Benelux countries, and the periphery that is growing faster and is far more comfortable with the U.S alliance. Draw a circle: Britain, Poland, Italy, Spain are the big ones. Throw in the Baltics and Turkey and you have a real alliance. So let’s keep our contacts with the core but let’s also reach out to the new Europe. Clark is stuck in the past. Bush has dragged us into the future."

Human exellence

Jonah Goldberg reviews Charles Murray’s Human Accomplishment, which is an accomplishment in itself since the book’s theme is human excellence from 800 B.C. to 1950. Great essay, read the whole thing.   

Ramirez cartoons

Michael Ramirez, the cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times has a great one on Howard Dean, and glance down lower at some on the capture of Saddam.  

Why we were able to catch Saddam

Bruce Berkovits explains why this was a succesful operation. "In large part, it was because analysts were allowed to ignore many long-held beliefs about how intelligence is ’supposed’ to work." Thoughtful. 

Jose Padilla case

Eugene Volokh opines that the Second Circuit decision on whether or not Jose Padilla can be held will be overturned by the Supremes.

Dean notes

This Washington Post is very good on Howard Dean. It is devastating! And Terry Eastland explains why Dean is wrong about our capturing Saddam; it does matter. Here is Dean’s
domestic policy speech. Not impressive; another new compact for America’s working families. He is even disowning Clinton’s relatively moderate domestic policy, and lunging toward socialism. This guy’s putting himself in a real box. Here is the New York Times’ report on the speech.


Not quite Yeats, but Dana Gioia is a poet, essayist, and literary critic I had the pleasure of hearing recite his verse (and others) for at least an hour without notes or transcripts--unheard of at poetry readings. He became persona non grata on campus and in the academe for his essays and criticisms of post-modern poetry after his piece "Can Poetry Matter?" which begins:

American poetry now belongs to a subculture. No longer part of the mainstream of artistic and intellectual life, it has become the specialized occupation of a relatively small and isolated group. Little of the frenetic activity it generates ever reaches outside that closed group. As a class poets are not without cultural status. Like priests in a town of agnostics, they still command a certain residual prestige. But as individual artists they are almost invisible.

The essay is worth a read and can be found here. But I also recommend his poems, which have a slightly formalistic quality and show a deep appreciation for masters like Yeats and Longfellow (on whom he’s written excellent essays). For his lighter fare, check out "Money" from his The Gods of Winter--a poem you’ll be sure to remember when the January Visa bills arrive.


Here is some Yeats not for children of any age but perhaps still appropriate for our time. If you prefer your apocalypse in doggerel and with a beat, try Van Morrison’s Rough God Goes Riding. (It is better with the music.)

Saddam’s trial

David Tucker thoughtfully argues that maybe the trial of Saddam--although conducted by the Iraqis--should not be completely left in their hands. "Such are the politics of putting Saddam on trial that we might want to reinterpret the image of justice as a blindfolded goddess. Usually, this is taken to mean that justice is impartial. In the case of Saddam, it may mean that the goddess does not care to observe what is done in her name." 

Talking up to children

Terrence Moore reminds of an ancient but powerful truth: children emulate their parents, and this natural tendency should be capitalized upon when speaking with them. Both parents and teachers should talk up to them, rather then down to them. I would also recommend that not only should children be read to, but that they should read aloud. One way to overcome the stark fact that young people don’t hear the best in the language often enough is by having them read aloud some good literature. For the younger ones I recommend Kipling, The Elephant’s Child, for example. I defy you to read this out loud (regardless of your age) and not be smitten by the music of the language. In response to the question, "what does the crocodile have for diunner?", the Kolokolo bird says,

"Go to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees, and find out." If they are a bit older, try Jane Austen’s
Pride and Prejudice, or a couple of poems by Yeats.

A "Joke" Between Friends

The Washington Times reports on Madeleine Albright’s "joke" to Mort Kondracke yesterday that Bush has already captured Osama Bin Laden and is waiting to play him like a trump card to seal the re-election. She’s offended and indignant that "To my amazement, Mr. Kondracke immediately went on the air to repeat this comment, which was made to a person I thought was a friend and smart enough to know the difference between a serious statement and one that was not." Kondracke’s response: there were others in the room and no one else thought it was a joke. Apparently, as the old saying goes, it was so funny we forgot to laugh.

But here’s Henry Kissinger’s take on the matter: "I am very fond of Madeleine, but there’s something about President Bush that blows the Democrats’ minds," Mr. Kissinger said. "They get so rabid in their dislike that they say things which are absurd. If we could find Osama bin Laden on the same day that we could find Saddam, we would do it. It’s just not possible that these captures are timed to embarrass the Democrats. It’s a sort of paranoia." All of this, the Times reports, has some Demos concerned that their party will soon be perceived as outside the "mainstream."

Otto Graham, R.I.P.

Cleveland Browns football great dies at 82.

"Religion Gap"

Polling data continues to confirm what we all knew anecdotally...the religious vote Republican. The analysts and Demo pundits are paying new attention to the "religion gap," however, afraid that it’s yet more bad news going into the election year. And all the people said...Amen.

Democratic problems

President Bush got a big bounce in polls after the Saddam capture. And Dean’s standing in a matchup with Bush plummeted. If the vote were today, the poll found, Bush would beat him 59%-37%, vs. 53%-43% in November. Here are some more details from the poll. A different poll, CBS/NY Times, shows that most voters, including most Democrats, are largely unmoved by any of the nine Democrats who are seeking to unseat President Bush. John Kerry is throwing everything into Iowa and New Hampshire. These are the moves of a dying candidate. He’s finished. Watch for Clark to rise against Dean. Howard Dean is leading in Wisconsin, but Clark and Lieberman are tied for second. Dean is getting icreased criticism from his Democratic rivals for his contradictory statements on foreign policy and Iraq, according to the WaPo. CBS poll shows Dean leading with 23% (Clark and Lieberman with 10%), but note that Al Sharpton is beating both Kerry and Edwards!

David Brooks writes a perfect op-ed on how Howard Dean thinks about foreign policy. Here are a few precious lines: "Dean is not a modern-day Woodrow Wilson. He is not a mushy idealist who dreams of a world government. Instead, he spoke of international institutions as if they were big versions of the National Governors Association, as places where pragmatic leaders can go to leverage their own resources and solve problems.

The world Dean described is largely devoid of grand conflicts or moral, cultural and ideological divides. It is a world without passionate nationalism, a world in which Europe and the United States are not riven by any serious cultural differences, in which sensible people from around the globe would find common solutions, if only Bush weren’t so unilateral."

Don Quixote

There is a new translation of Don Quixote out. The introduction is written by Harold Bloom, and this is an excerpt from it. Good read. I haven’t read Cervantes in thirty years, maybe I should try it in between hours of unconsciousness due to this flu. Bloom:

"Yet how sly and subtle is the presence of Cervantes! At its most hilarious, Don Quixote is immensely sombre. Shakespeare again is the illuminating analogue: Hamlet at his most melancholic will not cease his punning or his gallows humour, and Falstaff’s boundless wit is tormented by intimations of rejection. Just as Shakespeare wrote in no genre, Don Quixote is tragedy as well as comedy. Though it stands for ever as the birth of the novel out of the prose romance, and is still the best of all novels, I find its sadness augments each time I reread it, and does make it ’the Spanish Bible’, as Miguel de Unamuno termed this greatest of all narratives.

Don Quixote may not be scripture, but it so contains us that, as with Shakespeare, we cannot get out of it to achieve perspectivism. We are inside the vast book, privileged to hear the superb conversations between the knight and his squire, Sancho Panza. Sometimes we are fused with Cervantes, but more often we are invisible wanderers who accompany the sublime pair in their adventures and debacles."

The Scholars

I am off running some errands for the rest of the afternoon, and then to some books now that the students don’t bind. Take a look at this poem by

William Butler Yeats, a favorite.

Ohio partial birth ban upheld

The Sixth Circuit has upheld Ohio’s partial birth abortion ban. The Court rejected both claims of the plaintiffs, viz.: (1) it does not contain an adequate health exception; and (2) it imposes an "undue burden" upon a woman seeking to abort a non-viable fetus, in that the description of the banned abortion method encompasses the concededly lawful dilation andevacuation (D & E) abortion procedure. Good news!

Clark Rising?

Dean and Clark are neck and neck in Arizona and South Carolina. Clark leads Dean in Oklahoma by 13 points. Madonna has endorsed Clark. Dick Morris thinks there is a chance that Hillary would accept the VP slot under Dean. I disagree.

Thurmond’s daughter

Marilyn Thompson finishes her story on Strom Thurmond’s daughter, and how the "pass-through" payment worked.

Saddam’s papers

Bradley Graham writes on the use of the documents we found with Saddam. Apparently, the stuff is very helpful. The whole is worth reading. Note also that yesterday we nabbed over 70 bad guys in one fell swoop. It is not clear if this was related to information gleaned from Saddam’s papers. And the Iraqi foreign minister chided the U.N. for not helping Iraq. Good.

Rings interest dwarfs all others

The Return of the King is here and it is likely to be a major cultural event. And another story on same.

Queer eye for Saddam

Queer Eye for Saddam photo posted on Hugh Hewitt. A good laugh.

Consequences of aviation

George Will has a very artful column on the meaning of the revolution that the Wright Brothers’ invention brought. The consequences of aviation are astonisnhing, moving from mail delivery, to war, to Cubism and skyscrapers. Excellent.   

Dean and Gore

Joe Klein writes something worth reading in Time. The subtitle of his piece is "How the partnership between Dean and Gore is remaking the Democrats." Never mind that he really doesn’t answer the question because along the way he gives away a good deal of interesting information, and a couple of sound judgments (the full he meaning of which he doesn’t really understand, but that’s not impottant for now). This attempt to remake the Democratic Party (as both Gore and Dean want to do; but not Hillary) is nothing more than this at heart: "One of the strangest but most telling passages in Dean’s recent stump speeches comes when he indulges in a romantic vision of 1968--a terrible year when America seemed to be falling apart but a time he remembers fondly as a moment of misty social communion. That, he says, is the America he seeks to re-create." Not long, read the whole thing. 

On the Demos "internationalization" theme

Andrew Sullivan considers--and discards--Dean’s and Hillary’s foreign policy speeches and this whole theme of "internationalization." The Demos think that this is the way to 1) criticize Bush on Iraq, yet, 2) seem as though they are not for getting out of Iraq. It’s not going to work. It’s a weird abstraction.

Limos and the Regulators

A formet student, a Hillsdale grad and a Chapman Law School grad and now working for the Pacific Legal Foundation, has taken up the cause of a Limousine entrepreneur in Florida. It seems one of the most regulated businesses in the country is the limousine business.

Here’s a couple of short articles on the case, one from Reason magazine and one from St. Petersburg Times .

If you want a lawyer who will bite into a case and won’t let go until Johnny Cochran cries Uncle, this is the guy.

Saddam doll and etcetera

A Saddam doll is already avaliable, with beard and all. I can’t understand why it’s called an action figure, but never mind. I don’t want to humiliate him any more than necessary, it may get some Arabs really angry. In New Zeraland, a seventeen year old skips school and builds a submarine that is remotely operated and is 1.5 meters long. Indiana is declared the fattest state. This explains why I have liked everyone I have ever met from Indiana! And, staying in Indiana, Purdue signs up the wrong Jason Smith to basketball letter of intent. In Toronto, a man kills himself as he tries to rob a taxi driver. And I should have known this days ago, but just discovered it. Time magazine was going to have Jesus on the cover, but, at the last minute, because of the capture, Jesus was replaced by Saddam.

Wrigth Brothers

This is the 100th anniversary of Wrigth Brothers flight. But Noah Schactman points out that an Englishman named George Cayley’s flew his aircraft 50 years before Orville Wright took off from Kitty Hawk. Interesting story.

Louisiana Senate seat

Now the number of Democrats not seeking re-election to the U.S. Senate is five. Senator Breaux has announced that he will not run. Here is the New York Times story on it. And the Washington Post claims that House members Chris John(D) and David Vitter(R) are thinking about running. Four of the five states were won by Bush comfortably in 2000 (North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana); he barely won, Florida, of course. There is a very good chance that the GOP can take all five, especially if Dean becomes the Democratic nominee.

Saddam photo

For those who are not New York Yankee fans, this photo of Saddam Hussein proves that he is a very bad guy. (Thanks to Instapundit).

Orson Scott Card on the Democrats

Orson Scott Card, the great science fiction writer, takes to task his fellow Democrats. You can read more by Card here.   

Brief history of resistance fighting

Jay Winnick elaborates on the meaning of the Iraqi resistance movement, and, explains how to end it. He cites good and useful historical examples.

Thurmond family admits paternity

Thurmond family admits that paternity is true: "After decades of denials, the family of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) acknowledged yesterday a claim made by a 78-year-old Los Angeles schoolteacher that she is the senator’s mixed-race daughter, a charge that had dogged her throughout her otherwise quiet life and shadowed Thurmond during his public career as a leading voice of racial segregation." Good opportunity to recommnend that you read Ralph Ellison’s Juneteenth.

Must Read Brooks Column

David Brooks hits a grand slam home run in his New York Times column today. Sales of indigestion medicine on the Upper West Side are sure to soar.

Quality of "Comments by our Readers"

There are many blogs on the web, as you all know. Each one of them has its own peculiarities and character, of course, as does this one. Some blogs that I know of--over the last few months--have closed down their Comments pages because the conversations have proven either to be without value or uncivil. I regret that and I promised myself that I would never do that. The truth is, I read the Comments section pretty regularly (and I know that many of our writers do also) and I often learn a good deal about something or other. I appreciate that. Some people, occasionally slip off the deep end and become more personal (name calling, etc). Please don’t do that. Lay out your opinions as reasonably as you are able, inject a little wit (if you are able) and make your points. Let the vituperative and personal stuff go somewhere else. Thanks.

Dean’s foreign policy speech

Howard Dean gave his big foreign policy talk today in San Francisco. It is worth a read. He is digging in, claiming that his views on Iraq haven’t changed. Try to figure out what is important, what is less important, and what is pressing. Kind of hard, I would argue. It is full of talk about the "international community," working with others in a "true partnership," of "shared hopes," of "repairing our alliances," and of regaining "global support," securing "maximum support from other nations," and about how new leadership with strengthen partnerships, and so on. These three paragraphs give you the flavor:

"Meeting the pressing security challenges of the 21st century will require new ideas, initiatives, and energy. But it also will require us to draw on our proudest traditions, including the strong global leadership demonstrated by American Presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, to renew key relationships with America’s friends and allies. Every President in that line, including Republicans Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and the first President Bush demonstrated that effective American leadership includes working with allies and partners, inspiring their support, advancing common interests.

"Now, when America should be at the height of its influence, we find ourselves, too often, isolated and resented. America should never be afraid to act alone when necessary. But we must not choose unilateral action as our weapon of first resort. Leaders of the current administration seem to believe that nothing can be gained from working with nations that have stood by our side as allies for generations. They are wrong, and they are leading America in a radical and dangerous direction. We need to get back on the right path.

"Our allies have been a fundamental source of strength for more than half a century. And yet the current administration has often acted as if our alliances are no longer important. Look at the record: Almost two years passed between September 11 and NATO assuming the leadership of a peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. More than six months have gone by between the fall of Baghdad and any serious consideration of a NATO role in Iraq."

Help the Ashbrook Center Educate Tomorrow’s Leaders Today

Even though Saddam has been captured, we must remember we are in a time of war, a war unlike any other. We fight terrorism because it is lethal to freedom. The Ashbrook Center fights the ignorance of our heritage of freedom because that ignorance is also lethal to our nation. Without an educated citizenry that is devoted to self-government and the Constitution, we would lose not only battles, but also the things for which we stand. This is a fight we must win.

NEH Chairman Bruce Cole, scheduled to speak at the Ashbrook Center in March, recently said, "To defend our country, we must first understand it. A knowledgeable citizenry is essential to homeland defense." The Ashbrook Center produces this type of citizen. By teaching the meaning and significance of America, we strengthen our nation and in turn strengthen ourselves. We do important work here at the Ashbrook Center, and as we continue to grow, we will continue to need support from friends such as you.

We as Americans are facing a crucial time in our history. We are confronted with many choices, difficult choices, and it is essential that we understand the consequences of the wrong selection. We can only do this with a firm understanding of who we are and where we have been. The Ashbrook Center, through its Scholar Program, teacher institutes, and many other programs ensures we have the ability to make the correct choices. Please give to the Ashbrook Center today, and invest in a future of freedom for tomorrow.

Thank you!

Bush’s press conference

Apparently, President Bush held his year-end press conference while I was out to lunch. So I didn’t see it, but I did read it quickly, and here are a few memorable lines. I especially like this first paragraph, it’s cowboy talk.

"Good riddance. The world is better off without you, Mr. Saddam Hussein. And I find it very interesting that when the heat got on you dug yourself a hole and you crawled in it. And our brave troops, combined with good intelligence, found you. And you’ll be brought to justice, something you did not afford the people you brutalized in your own country."

"And I acted because, I repeat, I have a duty to protect this country and I will continue to protect the country so long as I’m the president of the United States.

A free and peaceful Iraq is part of protecting America, because I told you before, and I truly believe this, this will be a transforming event in a part of the world where hatred and violence are bred, a part of the world that breeds resentment." The whole thing sounds pretty good to me

John Keegan on what to do with Saddam

John Keegan just mentions the security benefit of Saddam’s capture, then considers what he calls constitutional issues (nice word for a new regime, don’t you think?) in this very thoughtful article. In other words, how should he be dealt with? He rolls through the Treaty of Westphalia, Napoleon taking refuge on a British warship, France not wanting anything to do with him, etc. The short of it is that the new government in Iraq will decide and we will hold him until then, by right. Very good article, file it.   

Peeling back the onion

Barton Gellman and Dana Priest tell a pretty good story about the capture, and the intelligence that was gathered, or how the oinion was peeled back. By early December we started focusing on those people most likely to help him, especially those tied by blood and clan. It seems that we started interrogating--seemingly--unimportant distant family members, or members of tribes who had helped him in the past, and just kept narrowing the circle. Eric Schmitt of the N.Y. Times writes on essentially the same theme, and to the same effect.

Colin Powell in surgery

Colin Powell has surgery for prostate cancer this morning. The State Department says that it was not an emergency; it was scheduled two weeks ago. Everything seems to be O.K.

More notes on Saddam

Bill Safire has some thoughts; he also explains the origin of the term "spider hole." Austin Bay thinks it’s great news, and the capture and the trial will give Iraqis the opportunity to establish the rule of law. William Saletan thinks that this doesn’t necessarily assure that Bush will be re-elected. George Will explains, persuasively, that it will be good for Iraq to have a trial in Iraq. And he points out how Kerry and Dean have revealed their true selves in responding to Saddam’s capture. It’s been a good week for George Bush.

Jim Hoagland includes in his piece this memorable line from Saddam when visited by four Iraqi Governing Council members. One of them asked him: "Why didn’t you fight?" Hussein gestured toward the U.S. soldiers guarding him and asked his own question: "Would you fight them?" Touche!
After Saddam gave himself up in the hole by saying that he wanted to negotiate, an American soldier said this to him: "President Bush sends his regards." Perfect. Apparently his capture--either because of what he said or some documents he had with him--has led us to some other key bad guys.

Quick thoughts on Saddam’s capture

Fred Barnes just punched out some instant political analysis regarding Democrats and Saddam’s capture. He thinks they have made some big mistakes on the issue of Iraq (pull Lieberman out of this one). CNN and Gallup ran a quick phone poll late today. Some of the results follow. An overwhelming majority -- 82 percent -- believed Saddam’s capture was a "major achievement." Of those polled, 62 percent agreed it was worth going to war. The previous high was 63 percent on August 25-26. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they were very or somewhat confident that bin Laden would be captured. Markets are going up world-wide, and it is expected that the U.S. markets will also get a boost. An article in the Los Angeles Times maintains this: "The gasps that arose when Iraqis first saw Saddam Hussein filthy, ragged and in American hands could be the sound of the air leaving the insurgent movement.

The former soldiers and intelligence officers who were the backbone of the guerrillas in Iraq have suffered a stunning blow. People who have been sitting on the fence may now be less likely to join the resistance, and some may be emboldened to commit themselves to the U.S. vision for a new Iraqi state."

My quick opinion, for what’s it worth is this: This is a momentous event. It will prove significant that this guy did not put up a fight. He proves to be a coward, a homeless, disheveled drone, one who still identifyies himself as President of a country, while a doctor looks for lice in his hair. His capture certainly has a bad effect psychologically on the bad guys, and not only in Iraq, but among Arabs in general. While that isn’t everything, it’s not unimportant. It has propaganda value. If we keep adding victory to victory, pretty soon some will start talking about who is riding the strongest horse, after all. Yet, I will be surprised if the immediate effect is not more attacks, both in Iraq and elsewhere (even possibly including the U.S.). A dramatic attack or two would slow our momentum and would try to get air back into the lungs of prospective martyrs. Saddam’s capture should have an effect on both the tone and the substance of the Democrats’ criticism of the administration (didn’t the rise in GDP do that too?).

Isn’t it ironic that
is reporting today that Dean got a large "Gore bounce"? Dean went from 16% of registered Demos supporting him a month ago, to 24% today.

Furthermore, there will be a lot of tip-toing around--since Saddam is a prisoner--there is always a chance that he will reveal something interesting about any number of things (WMD, the French, etc.). Even the question of how he ought to be tried (by an Iraqi court, The Hague, etc.) will become a bit of an issue; but it will be harder for the Dean-wing of the Demo party to make the argument that this justice (and honor) should be taken out of the hands of the Iraqis. The land-mines that Demos have to negotiate in American politics have just increased ten-fold. I guess you could make the argument that the election for the harts and minds of the American voter starts today. And Bush is off to a fast start. But let’s not forget one thing: A vicious tyrant--one who has pillaged and raped and slaughtered--is formally out of business. Have you any idea what a relief this must be to ordinary Iraqis? I have a slight idea. After tyrants lose power, human beings sleep better, laugh louder, and walk in fear no more.

Lieberman on Dean

Joe Lieberman proves himself the most sensible Democrat. He should run the rest of his campaign on this statement (near the end, my italics):

"Hallelujah, praise the Lord. This is something that I have been advocating and praying for for more than twelve years, since the Gulf War of 1991. Saddam Hussein was a homicidal maniac, a brutal dictator, who wanted to dominate the Arab world and was supporting terrorists.

He caused the death of more than a million people, including 460 Americans who went to overthrow him. This is a day of glory for the American military, a day of rejoicing for the Iraqi people, and a day of triumph and joy for anyone in the world who cares about freedom, human rights, and peace...."

"This news also makes clear the choice the Democrats face next year. If Howard Dean had his way, Saddam Hussein would still be in power today, not in prison, and the world would be a more dangerous place."

Saddam round-up

claims that he was caught because of some tips we got during the interrogation of a guy we recently captured. Short.

Time recounts, in brief, some of his first responses to questioning once in custody. Ian Fisher of The New York Times writes a very engaging story about the confrontation between Saddam and four Iraqi leaders from the Governing Council. They were brought in to identify him. Although they could have done it through a video or from behind a mirror, they insisted on seing him in person. With General Sanchez and Paul Bremer in the room, they asked him some questions, he responded; note his very specific knowledge of French! The whole meeting could come from a Shakespeare play. Read it. Australian Broadcasting Service has some useful quotes from around the world. The two best are from soldiers. This New York Times article praises the spy agencies. Vernon Loeb of the WaPo wrote this profile about a month ago of Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, the head of the Fourth Infantry Division. Good guy. The title for the operation, Operation Red Dawn, might be taken from a 1984 John Milius movie by the same name. American teenagers fight a Soviet invasion. They called themselves the Wolverines. American soldiers in Tikrit smoke a few cigars, enjoy the victory, but know that it’s not over. And they conduct a grafitti war: After Saddam’s supporters sprayed dozens of walls and suitable surfaces with slogans "Long live Saddam," one patrol added Sunday: "In jail forever." BBC drew a diagram of the hole we found him in.

Ladies and gentlemen, we got him!

It is true that the tyrant who has left the print of blood wherever he walked is captured. Excellent. Some reports have it that the hole he was hiding in included money and rats. Even better. We have his kingdom, and he has no horse. This is the Washington Post account of the story. Naturally, there will be more, soon. Here is Bremer’s statement, in full (careful, it’s through the BBC) And here is Prime Minister Blair’s statement. President Bush will speak at Noon. The Command Post may be the best place for latest developments. I’ll be running around in the snow for most of the day, Johnny has pitching practice (inside) and Becky has a Church event. I’ll check back later this afternoon.

Yep, it’s true!

I’m watching a press conference being put on by Paul Bremer and the Iraqi National Council. It’s official--Saddam was taken early this morning in his hometown of Tikrit. Apparently information from Iraqi citizens was critical to his capture by U.S. forces. A video of the prisoner, taken while he was undergoing physical examination, was shown during the conference, and the Iraqis in the room erupted in spontaneous displays of joy and invective (shouting "Death to Saddam") against the former tyrant.

Apparently an amnesty is being offered to all those who are still engaged in hostile operations against coalition troops and supporters of the new Iraq.

Saddam Captured!

Fox News is reporting that Saddam Hussein has been captured. What a glorious way to start the day!

Honesty is a Fool!

David Brooks--isn’t it fun that he is writing for The New York Times?--says that things are wildly out of control in the Bush administration; it is drunk on truth serum! And this is affecting not only the question of who should be allowed to bid for work in Iraq but all of our foreign policy. The President’s tendency to be straightforward has to be reined in! The Pres and others had better learn to be false to their nature, this honesty stuff is getting out of hand.  

Strom Thurmond as illegitimate father

Marilyn W. Thompson writes a lon g WaPo story about the woman--now a retired teacher--who claims to be Former Senator Strom Thurmond’s illegitimate daughter. Her mother was a (black) teenager working as a maid in the Thurmond home when the affair is said to have occured. This has been widely rumored for decades, and the woman, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, is to hold a press conference next week. Williams said that she now wants to make this public, after decades of denial: "I did not want anybody to know I had an illegitimate father," said Williams, who has four grown children. "My children convinced me to tell the truth. I want to finally answer all of these questions . . . that have been following me for 50 or 60 years."

Robert Heinlein

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation puts out this on Robert Heinlein because one of his long-lost first novel, For Us, the Living will be published in January. The novel imagines an America in the late 21st century that is, according to CBC, patterned after Alberta in the 1930’s and the Social Credit movement. It mentions that Heinlein eventually moved from the Left to the Right, supporting Goldwater in 1964 (whom CBC says some consider to be "the first neo-conservative"; amusing), but also opposing social conservatives. As Lincoln purportedly said, they may have got their facts straight, but they’ve come to the wrong conclusion. Worth a glance.

"I am for dead white male culture!"

World magazine contains an article about the opening of Return of the King that includes the following comment (made in Hollywood!!) by actor John Rhys-Davies, who plays Gimli the dwarf in the film:

"I think that Tolkien says that some generations will be challenged and if they do not rise to meet that challenge they will lose their civilization. That does have a real resonance with me.... What is unconscionable is that too many of your fellow journalists do not understand how precarious Western civilization is.... The abolition of slavery comes from Western democracy. True Democracy comes from our Greco-Judeo-Christian-Western experience. If we lose these things, then this is a catastrophe for the world.

"And if it just means replacement of one genetic stock with another genetic stock, I don’t think that matters too much. But if it involves the replacement of Western civilization with different cultural values then it’s something we really ought to discuss because ... I am for dead white male culture! If Tolkien’s got a message, it’s that sometimes you’ve got to stand up and fight for what you believe in."

More Fat Is Good Thoughts

Yes indeed, Peter, the obesity epidemic is the final refutation (as if one more were needed) of Marxism. The Marxists used to say that the problem with capitalism is that it starved the poor. Now the problem with capitalism (McDonald’s, KFC, Krispy Kreme) is that is makes us too fat. Go figure.

Reaching a showdown in the war

Victor Davis Hanson writes some good stuff. He moves with ease between the 40,000 soldiers Athens lost in Sicily in 411 B.C., Vicksburg in 1863, and the spring of 1943, the demise of the Soviet empire, and connects them. These were periods of great change when a critical mass was reached in wars when new victors began emerging. This has to do with our current war, he claims. "We are beginning the third year of this multi-theater conflict, and it resembles the Punic War after the Carthaginian defeat at the Metaurus in 207 B.C., the year of decision of 1863, or the autumn leading to Alamein and Stalingrad. Ever so slowly the momentum is building. If we stay resolute and tighten the noose around the Baathists, the days of the extremists in Iraq will be numbered even as the rest of the country begins to prosper. And the final victory will only embolden us and discourage our enemies. The war itself cannot be won in the Sunni Triangle, but it might well have been lost there."

And this: "Very rarely in history do any of the belligerents quite realize what stage of the war they are actually in. The slugfest at Zama still followed Hannibal’s escape to Carthage. After Gettysburg there was the terrible summer of 1864 to come. The Battle of the Bulge followed both Normandy Beach and Stalingrad. And for much of the 1980s the world was sure that Soviet divisions were going to crush Polish steelworkers as a crumbling empire went out with a bang rather than a whimper."  

Fat is good

The Economist runs a pretty good editorial: "When the world was a simpler place, the rich were fat, the poor were thin, and right-thinking people worried about how to feed the hungry. Now, in much of the world, the rich are thin, the poor are fat, and right-thinking people are worrying about obesity. Evolution is mostly to blame."

Marines, Velvet Glove and Iron Fist

Michael Gordon writes a story in today’s New York Times entitled, "Marines Plan to Use Velvet Glove More Than Iron Fist in Iraq." This is very much worth reading, but be careful not to misunderstand the article. Starting next March, nine battalions of U.S. Marines will be deployed to Iraq. Note in passing that no Marine has been killed in Iraq since mid-April. So what’s the story? The story is that the Marines, according to Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, the commanding general of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, will use tactics that seem different from those used by, for example, the Army’s Fourth Infantry Division (although the General is quick to note that he is not critical of the Army). Conway is interested in both gaining Iraqi public support and human intelligence. He said: "I don’t want to condemn what people are doing. I think they are doing what they think they have to do. I’ll simply say that I think until we can win the population over and they can give us those indigenous intelligence reports that we’re prolonging the process."

The Marines will try to design their raids to be, in Conway’s words, "laser precise," focused on the enemy with a maximum effort made to avoid endangering or humiliating Iraqi civilians.

The truth is that this mode--the velvet glove and the iron fist--is nothing new to the Marines. These tough guys are smart tough guys. You know this both from your public history and from the common sense of the subject. It’s not as though the Marines are not used to small wars and counterinsurgency efforts, right? See their fat Small Wars Manual. They should, of course, use both the glove and the fist, depending on the circumstances. Oh, yes, one more thing, it doesn’t hurt to have the reputation that Marines are very tough, very courageous, and when they shoot, they shoot straight. With a reputation like that, there is more receptivity to taking the velvet gloved hand, when extended.

Also note this front page article by Greg Jaffe in The Wall Street Journal (pay site) on the new Army Chief of Staff:
"The three dozen company commanders who gathered here late last month to chat with Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army’s top officer, had every reason to expect a pat on the back. These, after all, were the soldiers who had led the charge that flattened Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard last spring.

Instead they got a preview of the sweeping changes that lay ahead for the U.S. Army, driven in large part by the messy aftermath in Afghanistan and Iraq, and by the post-9/11 realization that even a small, low-tech enemy could do huge harm.

’We’re going to have to [change] some of the things that made us the best Army in the world,’ Gen. Schoomaker told them. ’Our values are sacrosanct. But everything else is on the table.’" Schoomaker is the guy that Rumsfeld brought out of retirement last summer. And, most important, he
"spent much of his career leading the military’s most secret, counterterrorism units behind enemy lines in the Middle East, Central America and other places. His experiences set him apart in an Army that has focused largely on preparing for a major war against a large land power such as the Soviet Union or North Korea."

Britain’s "Back Door" Euthanasia Bill

The Brits have proposed legislation that many are calling a "back door to legal euthanasia." The Telegraph report is worth a look. There’s some scarey stuff in the bill deserving of the Catholic criticism it’s received--provisions allowing "doctors to carry out medical research on mentally confused patients without their full consent" to name one.

Meanwhile, here in the States, it seems the Hemlock Society finds the whole Terri Schiavo case to offend its sense of dignity, and has started a media blitz to raise our "right-to-die" awareness. Always good to be reminded that the right to life was never one of those inalienable rights.

Measuring Terri’s Worth

A nice, short op-ed in the Miami-Herald this morning defending Terri Schiavo and others like her, and reminding us all (and those that would see her dead) that her worth is not defined by her medical condition. 

New Canadian Prime Minister

In what might actually be good news out of Canada, Jean Chretien steps down this morning as Canadian Prime Minister. Paul Martin--considered slightly more conservative--will be sworn in later today. At the very least, Martin seems to understand that he has some fences to mend with the U.S.

Robots, below and above

A new Underwater robot is being developed. "U.S. scientists will be able to explore the deepest parts of the world’s oceans, up to seven miles below the surface, with a novel underwater vehicle capable of performing multiple tasks in extreme conditions. Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) are developing a battery-powered underwater robot to enable scientists to explore the ocean’s most remote regions up to 11,000 meters (36,000-feet) deep."

And another guy is working on a four-rotor autonomous helicopter that resembles the Draganflyer.

Dean gets boost from Gore endorsement

Rassmussen Reports claims that Dean has gotten a large boost from the Gore endorsement. "In a head-to-head match-up between Dean and Congressman Richard Gephardt, 43% of Democrats would now prefer Dean as their nominee while just 32% would prefer Gephardt. Before Gore’s announcement, Dean was preferred by just 36% to Gephardt’s 31%." This is the National Journal’s Democratic Insider’s Poll. Also note that Liberman continues to claim that interest in his candidacy has gone up--a lot more donations--since the Gore announcement. I regret to say that I don’t think that will last. This is pity money. And then there is this. The New York Times claims that Wesley Clark called Bill Clinton right after he heard about Gore endorsing Dean, "just to call and say `hello.’" Cute.

College capstone courses

K.C. Johnson, on the NAS blog, has some good thoughts on how capstone courses are politicized. Chilling stuff. Erin O’Conner reflects on all this and adds his own two cents. All useful. Although the capstone course I teach is in political science, I include the one I taught a few years ago, for your information. It is called Human Being and Citizen (PDF). Of course, I claim no originality in the way the course is sructured, and I plan to teach it essentially the same way this Spring (adding only Ellison’s Juneteenth). If you have any suggestions, I’d be delighted to hear them.

Bush is right on Iraq contracts

Kofi Annan calls the President’s decision "unfortunate" and "not unifying." Europe’s foreign policy chief called the U.S. decision to bar opponents of the war in Iraq from reconstruction contracts "gratuitous and unhelpful" when unity is needed. And--surprise!--The Washington Post blasts the President as well.

Here is what President Bush said on this issue after yesterday’s cabinet meeting: Q: You seem to be saying that the boots on the ground are the only qualifications for -- but what about the forgiveness of debt? Isn’t that a fairly substantial --

THE PRESIDENT: "It is, it would be a significant contribution, for which we would be very grateful. What I’m saying is, in the expenditure of taxpayer’s money -- and that’s what we’re talking about now -- the U.S. people, the taxpayers understand why it makes sense for countries that risk lives to participate in the contracts in Iraq. It’s very simple. Our people risk their lives. Coalition -- friendly coalition folks risk their lives, and, therefore, the contracting is going to reflect that. And that’s what the U.S. taxpayers expect."

Bush has it exactly right. And I am very happy that he said all that. Not only have the French, Germans, Russians, not been helpful on Iraq, that’s bad enough. But in the case of France, they actually worked against our interests before (and even during) the war. That is not a small thing. And those who claim that this decision is not unifying, etc., are whinning and their attempt at taking the moral high ground fails. We have the moral high ground on this issue; their (what Tom Wolfe called) mau-mauing the American taxpayer should not stand. Furthermore, I don’t think this hinders our diplomatic efforts at all. Baker is trying to get these countries to forgive the debts owed by Iraq, and Bush’s clear stance will help him accomplish his purpose. As I said the other day: In the end it is probable that we will give them some contracts, if they forgive some of the debts. Baker has some leverage, he doesn’t have to beg. Under these circumstances, it would be O.K. for Baker to cut some deals with the Unwilling. That would be O.K. because we would be giving them something and we would be getting something in return. What the liberals (of course I include Kofi Annan in this) want is for us to reward them with contracts (our taxpayer’s hard-earned dollars) for having opposed our efforts. If Bush would have given the impression that he would do that, there would have been on uprising among his supporters. This is another example of Bush sound judgment. I applaud it.

Strauss and art

Laurie Fendrich, an artist and art professor, reflects on art and Strauss. Good read. (Thanks to Ken).

Consequences of campaign finance reforms

Here are a couple of ordinary reports on the meaning and/or consequences of the Court’s decision to uphold the campaign finance laws. This is merely a start. Tom Edsall of the WaPo, explaining who the winners and losers are. Sensible, as far as it goes, as long as it is understood that in the long run it is the two party system that is the loser. Glenn Justice of the NY Times takes on the issue in much the same way as Edsall does. McConnell’s right: "Soft money is not gone, it has just changed its address." New organizations, special interests, fund-raisers, rich guys who want more direct influence, third parties, will all benefit. People like George Soros will end benefitting most. It is certain that at least the Democratic Party (and eventually perhaps even the GOP) will be greatly disadvantaged; it will turn into a small mom-and pop operation, with Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s small annual contributions not being able to compete with the likes of Soros who will give to other newly created organizations that will prove to be more ideological and narrow, and, unfortunately, will have a tremendous effect on the tone and quality of public deliberations. None of this will be to the benfit of the country in the long run. It’s a shame. By the way, there is an argument brewing on whether or not this decision is the longest Court decision ever--that may be reserved to Dred Scott--but it is probable that it’s consequences will be on par with that other infamous case, regardless of length.

Diggins digging

The liberal historian John Patrick Diggins beats up on what he calls neo-conservatives (Commentary and Weekly Standard folks, mostly) in this extended essay on how liberals opposed Communism. A good read, even though there is much here to disagree with. Are these guys choleric, or what?

Dean, moving right

A new Quinnipiac Poll finds this: "Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has surged to a 9-point lead over his nearest challenger in the Democratic Presidential pack, but President George W. Bush has solidified his lead over top Democrats and now scores 50 percent or higher against any challenger, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today." Lieberman came in second. Also note that the according to the Los Angeles Times Howard Dean "enthusiastically supports missile defense development and declines to back a proposal to ban weapons in space." He is now moving quickly toward the moderate image he needs if he has any chance of prevailing in the general election. I noted that during the last debate, he hardly mentioned Iraq and, when he did, he seemed quite moderate, wanted to stay the course, etc. Dean’s full statement on missile defense and other national security issues (and that of other Demo candidates) may be found on this Left-wing site called Council for a Liveable World.

The Modern Prince

Patrick Garrity reviews Carnes Lord’s The Modern Prince: What Leaders Need to Know. Lord doesn’t exactly read Machiavelli the way most read him; he is most interested in getting people to appreciate what he calls the "grammar of leadership"--statecraft. Garrity, in brief, does justice to this point and its relationship to liberal democracy, properly understood. A good read. By the way, Lord will be speaking at the Ashbrook Center on February 17th next.

Gore’s misstep

Susan Estrich, no less, says this: "Al Gore has done it again.

There’s a reason he isn’t president, and it’s not just the chads in Florida. Gore has the worst political instincts of anyone to have gotten as far as he did.

Once again, he has proven why he is a loser and not a leader." The rest of her article doesn’t get any kinder toward Gore.
David Broder is less harsh on Gore, but he is at least "puzzled" by his decision to ednorse Dean. He thinks that Gore did not fulfill his obligations as a Democratic Party leader, and hints that Dean’s candicacy will lead to a disaster for the Demos. Even Clarence Page, not an especially impressive analyst, says that Gore just wants to be a player again, and hints that it may not work. In watching the various analysts on TV, as well as reading many, what has struck me is how unimpressed they are with Gore’s move; the undercurrent in all of their words is that the Gore endorsement is not necessarily going to help Dean gain the nomination and, even if Dean gets the nod, he will likely lose. And, they imply, this may be Gore’s last gambit in politics. It’s the Clintons’ party, and he came to the table much too late (why didn’t he get in the game for the 2002 elections?) to change that. The only way--in my humble opinion--Gore can change this perception is by campaigning very seriously for Dean both now and in the general election. I’m betting he will not do that.

Media coverage of Iraq

Instapundit continues to be angered that the major media has not covered the mass demonstrations in Iraq against terrorism and for democracy. I agree with him, this is just another example of awful and slanted coverage. If you doubt any of this see this, and also see this Iraqi blogger.

Please Support the Ashbrook Center

As the end of the year rolls around and Uncle Sam begins to look longingly at your tax return, please consider a donation to the Ashbrook Center. Many of you only know the Ashbrook Center through this No Left Turns, but we are much more than that. First and foremost, in everything we do, we teach the meaning and significance of America. We accomplish this with our Ashbrook Scholar Program, our Summer Teacher Institutes, our luncheons and colloquia, our many publications, and so much more. Please give to the Ashbrook Center today and help us teach the meaning and significance of America.

Robert Bartley

Robert Bartley, the long-time editorial page editor of the ’Wall St. Journal’ has died at the age of 66. This ’Opinion Journal’ article gives a nice summary of his life and impact.

In a regime, where, as Abraham Lincoln said, public opinion is everything, Robert Bartley did more than anyone, and certainly more than any journalist, to guide and change public opinion on the most important matters.

He became the Editor of the Editorial Page of the ’Wall St. Journal’ in 1972. He along with Jude Wanniski, Arthur Laffer, and Robert Mundell became the chief spokesmen for what became known as supply-side economics. They refined and enlarged public opinion on economic matters. Without that refinement, there would have been no Reagan Revolution.

Under Bartley’s tutelage, the ’Wall St. Journal’ Editorial Page provided a daily dose of bracing common sense on all issues ranging from the Cold War, Domestic Policy, the corruption of Slick Willie, and the War on Terror.

This good man will be sorely missed.

Kiddie Porn and Political Speech

In recent years, Congress has passed major legislation restricting 1) pornography on the internet; 2) kiddie porn on the internet; and 3) issues advocacy 60 days before an election--core political speech. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of one of these restrictions, held that one was unconstitutional, and strongly suggested the remaining restriction was also unconstitutional. If you guessed that the ban on political speech was the restriction ruled unconstitutional, you would be wrong -- at least according to Justices Stevens, O’Connor, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer. For them, apparently, kiddie porn and internet pornography receives more First Amendment protection than political speech during an election. The whole opinion is 298 pages, affirming in significant part a district court opinion of over 1600 pages, which upheld the 90-page statute, implemented by a 1000 pages of regulations. Somewhere along the way the Court has lost sight of the meaning of "no law," as in "Congress shall pass no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech." Question is: "What are we ordinary citizens going to do about it?"

Nixon on Reagan

AP reports that some recently made public Nixon tapes reveal that Nixon didn’t like being around Ronald Reagan. Nixon thought he was "strange." I thought you’d like to know this, since I always thought exactly the reverse. Nixon was strange, and Reagan wasn’t. I think I would like it if strange people (Nixon) called me strange. It would go a long way toward proving that I wasn’t. Ditto for Reagan.

Supremes uphold campaign finance laws

Here is the Reuters report on the Court’s decision. It is made up of eight seperate opinions and about 275 pages. Here is the full decision. Reuters says this: "It concluded the law’s two principal, complementary features -- Congress’ efforts to plug the soft-money loophole and its regulation of electioneering communications -- must be upheld in the main." Too bad.

Partying with Dean

The Wall Street Journal lead editorial today references one of my all time-favorite Saturday Night Live skits, "Dukakis After Dark," aired way back in 1988. Here is the money quote:

As historical evidence, we suggest that Democrats--and the Dean campaign, for that matter--consult the archive for NBC’s "Saturday Night Live." Specifically, the show from 1988 featuring Jon Lovitz as the defeated Democratic presidential nominee in a skit called "Dukakis After Dark."

The setting is election eve, and even before the polls are closed it’s already clear--as Mr. Lovitz’s Dukakis candidly admits--that he doesn’t stand a "chance of winning this election." But he goes through with his party anyway, and Lloyd Bentsen walks up with a question. "Mike!" says his running mate. "Now that it’s all over, you can tell me. You were gonna raise taxes, weren’t you?"

Martini in hand, clad in a burgundy smoking jacket, Mr. Lovitz doesn’t even blink: "Through the roof!"

Shakespeare travelling

The New Criterion is approving of a new National Endowment for the Arts project called “Shakespeare in American Communities.” This ambitious fourteen-month program —supported by the Sallie Mae Fund and Arts Midwest in conjunction with the NEA—will send six theater companies across the country to perform Othello, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Richard III. In addition, the NEA is collaborating with the Department of Defense to bring a tour of Macbeth to military bases in the United States. (“If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well / It were done quickly”: a useful bit of advice for a soldier.) It looks good, better than funding so-called art by Robert Mapplethorpe. Here is the NEA site on the Shakespeare project.

Build your own jet?

These guys claim that they have found a cheap and easy way to build pulse-jet engines. Is that the sort of thing that, say, could be used in a cruise missile?

Contracts in Iraq

The New York Times reports: "The Pentagon has barred French, German and Russian companies from competing for $18.6 billion in contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq, saying the step ’is necessary for the protection of the essential security interests of the United States.’

The directive, which was issued by the deputy defense secretary, Paul D. Wolfowitz, represents perhaps the most substantive retaliation to date by the Bush administration against American allies who opposed its decision to go to war in Iraq." This seems perfectly reasonable. Although given that former Secretary of State James Baker has become the President’s personal
envoy to the countries that Iraq owes, it seems to me to be possible to cut some deals--connecting debt forgiveness with reconstruction contracts--in the not-to distant future. This is just the sort of thing Baker knows how to do.

Political tid-bits

Here is Andrew Sullivan beating up on Kerry. He explains why he has imploded, and why he should have. He focuses on the Rolling Stone interview, and says this:

"What you have in this interview is not a man thinking through the problems facing the country, examining the policies of the current administration, and telling us where they are wrong. What you have is someone intent on merely inventing a chronology that didn’t happen and a reality that doesn’t exist in order to posit himself as the cure for all our ills. Peer through the "maturity" and "thoughtfulness" and you find very little of substance and a great deal of empty narcissism. That’s why Senator John Kerry is losing. And it’s why, of all the Democratic candidates, he deserves to."

Kathleen Parker shows no mercy toward Dean as she evaluates his attempt to woo the poor and the black in the South. Bill Kristol ruminates on the fact that Dean could win against Bush. Worth considering. Jonah Goldberg considers the meaning of Gore’s endorsement of Dean, and concludes: "I understand Gore sees in Dean one qualification Lieberman doesn’t have: the potential to win. But when you think about all that has happened since 9/11, for Gore to say that the post-9/11 world makes Howard Dean more, not less, qualified to be president than Joe Lieberman really shows how unserious Al Gore and his party have become."

Democratic debate

I forced myself to watch some of the debate last night, hoping that there would be some sparks brought about by the Gore endorsement. Alas, there was little spark, little life. Same old tired cliches, well worn repetitious phrases. It was like watching old fat men trying to run a marathon; most of them shouldn’t have been there. I felt sorry for Lieberman, clearly hurt by the Gore move. Gephardt may have been a little better than normal, and Dean just didn’t have anything to say. No one had much to say on Iraq, which surprised me, even Dean only said something about staying the course. Weird. Clark--in my opinion the only one among them who could stop Dean--was quite unimpressive, dull and cold. The rest shouldn’t have been there. Who ever thought up all these debates with all self-declared candidates included (Sharpton, Kucinich, and Moseley-Braun have no right to be there) is an idiot and if he has a job, he should be fired. How can this help the Democratic Party?

Iraqi profs returning

According to the Christian Science Monitor the Iraqi "brain drain" that started in the 1960’s and 1970’s is starting to reverse itself. Many expatriate Iraqi professors and scientists are returning. Good sign.

More on the Gore endorsement

Jeff Greenfield is interviewed on CNN about the Gore decision. Although Greenfield’s opinions are quite predictable, you will note some not so subtle hints that Gore did this in a typically tacky way, is doing this in order to re-invent himself, and that this insider’s endorsement of the outsider may not be in Dean’s interest; and perhaps most important, this one time hawk of the Clinton administration has endorsed the most dovish of the Democratic candidates. Dick Morris explains why he thinks Gore did it: Forget about next November’s election, it’s the start of the battle for the future of the Democratic Party. This is Gore’s attempt to declare his independence from the Clintons and to fight the Clintons for the soul of the new party he will help to create between now and 2008. This also implies that Gore might run in 2008. David Frum agrees. "So Gore needs to speed his party toward the cataclysm [in 2004]– and if he can win new friends on the party’s left and look like a good sport while greasing the skids, all the better."

No Left Turns Mug Drawing Winners for November

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

Maryann Heinzeroth

Brianne Shipman

Matt George

Angelo Dante

Marcia Luongo

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 December’s drawing.

Brooks on the Internet man

David Brooks writes a great column taking apart Howard Dean (nothing to do with the Gore endorsement, although I will await his comments on that). Brooks argues that Dean has liberated himself from his past, he has no biography. He is not consistent on anything, and many examples are given. Brook’s comments are interesting and I think on the money: "But the liberated Dean is beyond categories like liberal and centrist because he is beyond coherence. He’ll make a string of outspoken comments over a period of weeks — on "re-regulating" the economy or gay marriage — but none of them have any relation to the others. When you actually try to pin him down on a policy, you often find there is nothing there."

"At each moment, he appears outspoken, blunt and honest. But over time he is incoherent and contradictory.

He is, in short, a man unrooted. This gives him an amazing freshness and an exhilarating freedom.

Everybody talks about how the Internet has been key to his fund-raising and organization. Nobody talks about how it has shaped his persona. On the Internet, the long term doesn’t matter, as long as you are blunt and forceful at that moment. On the Internet, a new persona is just a click away. On the Internet, everyone is loosely tethered, careless and free. Dean is the Internet man, a string of exhilarating moments and daring accusations."

Commentary on the Gore endorsement

Here is the New York Times story on Gore’s speech. And here is CNN’s. And here is the AP story. Note a couple of things. Gore said this: "We need to remake the Democratic Party, we need to remake America." Bingo. Also: "In a field of great candidates, one candidate clearly now stands out and so I’m asking all of you to join in this grassroots movement to elect Howard Dean president of the United States." This makes Dean the first internet candidate, so announced by the man who invented the internet. And here is a N.Y. Times on why Liberman is hit hardest by the decision. The Corner has reprinted Liberman’s interview on the Today Show this morning regarding Gore’s endorsement. Pity Liberman. You should also see what Andrew Sullivan has to say on the matter.

Hillary as a right-winger

Hayward is right. We do live in an amazing world when it is being said that Hillary is the moderate or on the right within the Democratic Party. But isn’t this similar to the situation post-1988 when it was Bill Clinton (and, now I note ironically, and Al Gore) who were seen as the moderates within the party? And, they seemed to have succeeded, did they not? After all, it was said that they saved the party; and they nailed it down by winning in 1992. One other point strikes me in all this: Where is 9/11 and the war on terror in all this? Why would Gore think that Dean would make a better president than his running mate Joe Liberman, given that we are in a war? I guess the answer is that Gore doesn’t think it is important. There is a delusian-like quality to the current politics within the Democratic Party.

European Union lacks support

Polls show that less than half of the population of Europe in the EU member states supports the EU project. This will get messy.

Keynote Speaker Contest

Last weekend at Jonah Goldberg’s Christmas party, I started a parlour game of handicapping who will be the keynote speaker at the Democratic Cinvention next summer. I had Hillary the favorite, with Gore, Ted Kennedy (because the convention is in Boston), and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (because Dems are worried about their possibly slipping share of the Hispanic vote) in fourth place. (Bill Clinton will surely speak, but probably on the second night, though, to help assure a second night’s excitement and viewership.) Michigan Gov. Granholm is also a possibility, because she is telegenic, and will help with the women’s vote.

The keynote speaker slot in next year’s convention is very important for 2008, if you assume that Dean is the nominee and that he will lose. Remember that it was Mario Cuomo’s keynote speech to the Dems in 1984 that made him a national figure and top contender for the future.

With Gore’s endorsement of Dean, Gore must now be made the favorite. Hillary no doubt wants it, but Dean won’t owe her anything. So here’s the handicap at this point:

Gore: 1 - 3 favorite

Hillary: Even money (1 - 1)

Richardson: 5 - 1

Ted Kennedy: 8 - 1

Granholm: 9 - 1

Methinks NoLeftTurns should sponsor a contest and award    to the winner.

Hillary, Right-Winger


All I can say is, it is an amazing world we live in when Hillary Clinton is considered the center-right of the Democratic Party.

Gore moves left

Most commentators are focusing on how Gore’s endorsement of Dean will help make certain that Dean ends up getting the nomination for 2004. While it is true that it will help Dean, there is a more important point to all this: Gore’s endorsement of Dean helps clarify what is going on in the Democratic Party and what is likely to go on over the next few years leading into the 2008 election. Gore has decided to move left, and to try to take the party with him. That this hurts the candidacy of Liberman, Kerrey, and Gephardt goes without saying. And, it should also go without saying, Lieberman is as angry as a wet hen; and he has a right to be, the

Boston Globe reports that Dean has been working on this endorsement for a year; you think Gore could have informed Lieberman.

If the party moves left with Dean as the nominee--with the former vice president and the last Democratic nominee in full support--who will there be to stop them? The answer is Hillary Clinton, who has been moving right, witness her recent hard-line remarks on Iraq. So the Clintons--for now through Wesley Clark--will have to save the party so that by 2008 a more moderate candidate can be put forward. And that condidate will be Hillary. I am betting that there are a lot of angry Democrats this day.

Steyn on Rumsfeld

Here is Mark Steyn’s comment on the Plain English award given to Rumsfeld that I have already commented on. 

Morris Shows He Is No Dick Once Again

Dick Morris nails it in this NY Post column on why Gore is endorsing Dean.

Master (nature) and Commander

Ken Masugi writes a short, and maybe surprising, review of the movie "Master and Commander." How does he find the time to go to movies, never mind writing about them?

Terrorism prosecutions since 9/11

The Los Angeles Times reports that a new study of Justice Department terrorism prosecutions since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks shows that while the government has convicted 184 people of crimes deemed to be "international terrorism," defendants were sentenced to a median prison term of just 14 days — and in some cases received no jail time at all. "The number of defendants sentenced to five years or more for terrorism-related crimes declined in the two years after the attacks compared with the two years before them, the authors found." The study was conducted by researchers at Syracuse University. This is interesting, but complicated; I don’t claim to understand it all. But
Phil Carter has some useful thoughts on it. Here is the whole study.

Government auctions on eBay

USA Today reports that various government agencies, including local and state, are using eBay to auction off things they don’t need. It is easier than holding a local auction, and there is more interest in the stuff being sold, and therefore, more income.

Bill Maher strikes again

Thanks to for directing my attention to this little gem.

Guarding our borders

This Washington Times article considers the difficulties of guarding our borders, North and South. Imperfections abound, yet it may be better than it has been in the past, especially pre-9/11.

Arnold’s opportunity

The California legislature has defeated Schwarzenneger’s fiscal plan. I disagree with Daniel Weintraub who calls it a defeat: It is, in fact an opportunity to use the referendum against the entrenched political class; progressive means to a conservative end. It looks like he is going to fight them. Go Arnold!

Wimps and barbarians, not gentlemen

It is no secret that Harvey Mansfield, Jr., Professor of Political Science at Harvard, is a rare conservative there; indeed, he may be the only one. Well, this report is on a speech he gave wherein he criticized the sexual habits of today’s college students. The students said they were offended when Mansfield said the only gentlemen left were either gay or conservative, according to The Harvard Crimson. (Thanks to Powerline for bringing this to my attention). And entirely related to this issue you should look at Terrence Moore’s
fine and long essay in the current issue of The Claremont Review of Books called, "Wimps and Barbarians: The Sons of Murphy Brown." Moore reflects on what today’s boys and young men are like (either wimps or barbarians), why, and begins to consider what can be done about it. And you might also want to consider Moore’s piece in the latest issue of On Principle, called, A Real High School.

Mike Oxley

The Mansfield paper runs a story on Rep. Mike Oxley (R) and his great fund-raising ability. Oxley, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has collected $7.5 million in campaign contributions over the last decade. He has raised over a million dollars this year, and half of what he has raised in recent years has been put into his political action committee, which has given out more money to other candidates this year than all but five of 133 similar PACs. Good for Oxley, good for the GOP.

Oxley, by the way, will be speaking at the Ashbrook Center next month on "The Resilience of the U.S. Economy".

Hard-line Hillary

William Safire applauds and explains Hillary Clinton’s comments on the talk shows Sunday morning. She is setting herself up for 2008, and doing it brilliantly. "Consider the political meaning of all this. Here is a Democrat who has no regrets for voting for the resolution empowering the president to invade Iraq; who insists repeatedly and resolutely that "failure is not an option"; who is ready to send in a substantially greater U.S. force to avert any such policy failure — and yet whose latest poll ratings show her to be the favorite of 43 percent of Democrats, three times the nomination support given front-runner Howard Dean." Read the whole thing.  

Party loyalty of Arabs and Jews

The Washington Post runs a front page, above the fold story, called "Terrorism Jars Party Loyalty of Arabs, Jews." It is a long piece and while much of it is predictable, there are few tid-bits about what it means to have the Republican Bush in the White House, who is rightly identyfied as "the most pro-Israel president in U.S. history." Jews are moving in a Republican direction, while Arabs are moving Democratic. Bush got about 19% of the Jewish vote in 2000, while Arabs "chose Bush over Gore by 14%" and Ralph Nader (Lebanese background) got about 17% of the Arab vote. I found this interesting: "Arab Americans, however, are not a major source of campaign funds. Jews provided at least half the money donated to the DNC in the 1998 and 2000 election cycles. At the RNC, Lew Eisenberg, who is Jewish, was finance chairman until he became finance chairman of the host committee for the Republican National Convention recently. At Bush-Cheney fundraisers in Washington, California, New York and Florida, rabbis gave the invocations."

Hitler’s other book

Jeremy Noakes writes a review in the Times Literary Supplement on "Hitler’s Second Book," his unpublished sequel to Mein Kampf. Short, but interesting review, especially regarding Hitler’s views on America and foreign policy.

Political notes

Washington Post reports that liberal groups are planning to spend about $300 million to defeat Bush. "More than 40 groups plan to fund get-out-the-vote efforts and television issue ads, assuming the traditional role of Democratic Party organizations because of the party’s limited resources as a result of the ban on soft money contributions under the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The effort involves such established organizations as the Sierra Club, the NAACP and the AFL-CIO, and has spawned a network of new groups, including America Coming Together (ACT) and the Media Fund, both of which have set $95 million fundraising targets."

In the meantime, AP-Ipsos Poll shows that recent developments "have had the net effect of stabilizing definite support for the re-election of President Bush." George Will claims (no dispute from me) that, "Howard Dean is no fool. He is, however, not much of a thinker. His talk flows as rapidly as a mountain brook but is no deeper than one of those."

Pearl Harbor at sixty-two

This National Geographic site is worth a look as a way of commemorating the 62nd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It would do us (and our enemies) well to remember what Churchill said about the Amnerica: "The United States is like a gigantic boiler. Once the fire is lit under it, there is no limit to the power it can generate." And this is a local story from Chillicothe, Ohio.

Bush in Baghdad

Here is a short and pithy account of Bush’s visit to Baghdad for Thanksgiving by a fellow who was there.  

Deja Vu all over again:

This article recounts a Soviet refuseniks encounter with Marxism at an American University.

He was surprised to learn that Marxism is alive and well anywhere, much less an American University.

Sniping At the President’s Thanksgiving Trip

FDR misled reporters by first heading north on a train out of D.C., then transferring mid-track to a southbound train to Miami, from where he flew a multi-leg trip to get him to a now-famous meeting with Stalin in Casablanca. Presidents do that sort of thing, for security. But Reuters now is trying to claim that Bush’s stealth visit to Iraq was illegal because Air Force One filed a false flight plan. And that "lying to protect a photo op" will undermine the government’s credibility. Hmm. Perhaps it would be better if the White House never used deception in the conduct of the war. Publish troop movements in advance? Perhaps Reuters would be well to remember that, as Hamilton pointed out in Federalist 70, we set up the Executive the way we did so that it could operate with the "secrecy and dispatch" necessary to defend ourselves.

American History, our site

Let me bring to your attention our new site (new appearance and much new substance) called Teaching American History. It is, we think, not only a lot more attractive than the old one, but more useful, with many new features added. Are you looking for an important document in American history? Here is George Washington’s Last Will and Testament, as an example. Are you interested in hearing a talk by some worthy? Here is Richard Ruderman on Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. Are you interested in learning everything about the Constitutional Convention? Well, here is the site for the Constitutional Convention. And this is Gordon Lloyd’s introduction to the Convention. Maybe you want a very detailed day by day summary of the Convention. Or, how about James Madison’s Notes, divided by date. Remarkable stuff. And there is plenty more, don’t forget to click on the interactive Christy painting, or on the inteactive map of Philadelphia as it was during the Convention. I am especially interested in the City Tavern and the Indian Queen Tavern, where many good conversations and compromises took place. Wine and cider helps loosen tongues and make friends. If sack and sugar be a fault, God help the Framers! And, of course, you will also see all the upcoming seminars and summer institutes. Take a look and take your time.

The Demos and soft-money

Dick Morris explains how the Democrats have built a soft-money lifeboat. And George Soros gives us some details of how and why he has thrown over $12 million at the Democrats, indirectly. Here is some more on Soros’
purchase of the Democratic Party.

Phillis Wheatley

Lucas Morel reminds us of the 219th anniversary of the death of one of America’s most famous poets, Phillis Wheatley. He reflects on Henry Louis Gates’ "sparkling" book on her, and concludes that she is very much worth studying. I agree. I have also read Gates’ slim volume, and it is a good introduction to this fine mind. Be sure to read her poem, penned at age fourteen (she was brought here at age eight), "On Being Brought from Africa to America," which Morel quotes. It is about Providence and salvation.

California Senate race

Bill Jones, former California Secretary of State, a prominent backer of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign for governor, will file today to run in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate and the chance to challenge incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer. He is the fourth Republican running.

Dean’s progress

Howard Dean is leading in Florida (16% to Liebermann’s and Clrak’s 15%) and is also leading in South Carolina (11% to Clark’s and Libermann’s 9%; Edwards has 7%). And Dean has taken a commanding lead (by 30 points over Kerry) in New Hampshire. Bruce Babitt, Clinton’s interior secretary will endorse Dean. James Lileks has a few good comments on Dean’s inability to get his facts straight. Charles Krauthammer thinks that Dean is dillusional.

The case of Lt. Col. Allen West

The results of the hearing on Lt. Col. Allen B. West--the fellow who disccharged a pistol next to an Iraqi prisoner’s head to get him to give up information--are due any day now. Jedd Babbin writes good article on how this is being perceived by the warriors on the ground. "What Allen West did was wrong. But there is nothing he did that warrants a court martial or a felony conviction: It’s clear that the lawyers and the careerists in the Army have decided to make an example of him. But an example of what? After tossing out a soldier who killed a prisoner, how does it help to court martial another who intimidated a prisoner without injuring him, and actually got information that may have saved American lives?"

Rummy’s Anglo-Saxon words

It is true that in this golden world there are many reputed to be wise for saying nothing (listen to almost any professor!). And then there are the happy few who mince not the general tongue; Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is one of those rare fellows. It is his occupation to be plain, he doesn’t want to neutralize or suppress the adversary, but kill the foe. Oh that good old Anglo-Saxon tongue!

Surprisingly, therefore, something called Plain English has given a "Foot-in-Mouth Award to Rumsfeld for this spoken paragraph below.

"Reports that say something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because, as we know, there are known knowns, there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don’t know we don’t know."

London’s Guardian in a brief paragraph says this, with which I agree: "This is indeed a complex, almost Kantian, thought. It needs a little concentration to follow it. Yet it is anything but foolish. It is also perfectly clear. It is expressed in admirably plain English, with not a word of jargon or gobbledygook in it. A Cambridge literary theorist, US Air Force war gamer or Treasury tax law draftsman would be sacked for producing such a useful thought so simply expressed in good Anglo-Saxon words. So let Rummy be. The Plain English Campaign should find itself a more deserving target for its misplaced mockery."

The Louisiana Purchase

Two hundred years ago the United States didn’t seem to need more land, or did it? Peter Onuf, the historian at the University of Virginia, writes a nice essay on the Louisiana Purchase, and what it meant--among other things--geopolitically, (read, survival) for the nation Jefferson had in mind. It appears in the Wilson Quarterly. Not bad. 

Army-Navy game

I guess it’s reasonable to assume that the fellow who sent me this newsflash on the upcoming Army-Navy game is a Navy supporter:

West Point (NY) -- Army football practice was delayed nearly two hours
yesterday after a player reported finding an unknown white powdery
on the practice field. New head coach, John Mumford, immediately
practice while police and federal investigators were called to
After a complete analysis by both the FBI and Army Intelligence,
experts determined the white substance unknown to players was the goal
Practice was resumed after special agents decided the team was unlikely
encounter the substance again.

Democratic politics

I am tempted to title these missives on the Demos, "Suicide Watch." This Boston Globe reports that the Demos are going to try to ignore all the issues surrounding gays and same sex marriage, during their convention and during the election. I love this guy Terry McAuliffe, as far as I’m concerned, the GOP might as well be paying his salary. He has no ear for politics; he is a dull broken record, read some of his comments in the article. I hope they don’t boot him before the election; he must be worth at least 5 points for Bush. Can they actually ignore all this, especially if Dean becomes the candidate? Note that Dean now leads in New Hampshire by around thirty points: Dean has 45%, Kerry has 13% (and dropping), with Clark at 11%. Kerry has just called Bush’s foreign policy "arrogant, inept, reckless," The New York Times reports. And, according to Zogby, Dean has regained the lead in Iowa.

Michael Ramirez

Michael Ramirez is the terrific cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times. He is very good, and surprise(!), he is a conservative. This is from today’s paper, and you can go here to see some more (free registration required).

Boxer’s Senate seat

Rosario Marin, the former Treasurer of the U.S. has announced that she will enter the Republican primary for the U.S.Senate seat held by Barbara Boxer. She came to the U.S. from Mexico at age fourteen, and seems to me to be a serious candidate. She came out swinging against Boxer. Here is her official site.

Hanson on Midge Decter’s Rumsfeld

Victor Davis Hanson praises Midge Decter’s little book on a big subject, Donald Rumsfeld. Unsurprisingly, he places the volume in the larger context of what a biography should be at its best: "The Greeks invented the art of biography as an exercise in moral philosophy. The lives of ’preeminent’ statesmen and generals were to serve as ethical exemplars—both good and bad—for the rest of us, subject as we are to the same all-too-human appetites and temptations. Thus, the early years of an Alcibiades, an Alexander, or a Cicero were mined by Plutarch for anecdotes that might reveal an unchanging and essential character, its elements becoming more manifest during the crucible of adulthood and thereby accounting for the subject’s ultimate achievement. It is this biographical tradition—not the current American bathos of fact-filled, gossip-ridden megabooks about celebrities—that Midge Decter has returned to in her succinct essay on our current Secretary of Defense."

Re-writing American Communist history

A reader brought to my attention this Arnold Beichman review of Haynes and Klehr’s book that I referenced yesterday.

Religious freedom

Phillip Munoz has a worthy article in First Things on religious freedom and freedom of speech. His first paragraph (thanks to The Remedy):

"If conservative and liberal church-state scholars agree on one thing, it is that the Supreme Court’s religious liberty jurisprudence is a disaster. No single rule exists to guide decision making. The various doctrines employed are, at best, inconsistent and, at worst, blatantly contradictory. Divisions on the Court run so deep that actions demanded by “free exercise” according to some Justices violate “no-establishment” according to others. The result is an ever shifting, case-by-case jurisprudence based on narrow factual questions that encourages neither the rule of law nor a robust protection of religious freedom."

You might also take a look at Ken Blackwell’s (Ohio’s Secretary of State) piece called "Religious LIberty: The Most Precious of Our Liberties," in the current issue of On Principle.

Islamist speaking

This is an article on , and an interview with, Syed Munawar Hasan, the leader of the largest Islamist political party in Pakistan. It is, unfortunately, very revealing. Is this it? Is there no moderate--more rational--Islamic cleric out there who is willing to go public to dispute stuff like this? Sample paragraph (thanks to Andrew Sullivan):

"Western civilization is based on falsehoods and denials of the basic truth. In the past, Jews were victimized by Western nations, not Muslims, and when they were victimized in the West they only received protection in Muslim societies. Jews were never allowed to visit their holy places under Christian rule, while Muslims always allowed them to visit their holy places in Palestine. These are the basic truths of history. On the contrary, the West raises the slogans of civil society and human rights and then attacks nations without United Nations resolutions because under the UN mandate it would have to adhere to many principles and would not be able to unleash such brutalities."

The decline of Europe, rise of Asia

A fellow named Martin Jacques, although clearly a man of the left, writes on interesting op-ed in the London Guardian on the decline of Europe and the rise of Asia. If you can overlook his off-handed way of talking about American imperialism and such, it is worth a read. Sample:
"In reality, though, the cold war served to exaggerate Europe’s true position in the world and mask its underlying decline; 1989 was the last time that Europe was the centre of global affairs. Ever since, its star has been on the wane. That fact alone is a portent of the world that is now slowly taking shape."

Historians and Communism (and spies)

This is a very interesting interview with John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, authors of "In Denial: Historians, Communism, and Espionage" (2003). Worth reading the whole, but here is a tidbit: "At Solovki, one of earliest Gulag camps, Soviet administrators put up a sign that expressed the Communist program: ’With an Iron Fist, We Will Lead Humanity to Happiness.’ That slogan captures the murderous nature of the utopian vision of the hard left.

Jamie, you look at Soviet history and see the Gulag, the executions of the Terror, the pervasive oppression, and the economic failure. Psychologically, the leftists you speak of see little of that. They see a Communist state that articulated their vision of the future and which sought to destroy the societies and institutions they hated. They cannot see the horror that communism actually created. They look on that horror and see something else because they cannot admit to themselves that their vision is beyond human grasp. The German Communist playwright Bertolt Brecht, when challenged that thousands of innocents had been sent to the Gulag by Stalin, replied, ’the more innocent they are, the more they deserve to die.’ To you or I this remark is disgusting, but to the hard left it reflects their eager willingness to kill any number of persons without concern for innocence or guilt if it might assist in bringing about the socialist future."

What’s in a name?

Man changes name. "The 39-year-old Springfield native legally changed his name last month to reflect his childhood nickname. His new first name? Bubba. His new middle name? Bubba. One guess what his new last name is." (Thanks to The Fat Guy.)

Stocks and productivity, up

The Nasdaq composite index crossed 2,000 for the first time in nearly two years Wednesday and the Dow Jones industrials approached the 10,000 level as investors eagerly picked up stocks following a strong productivity report. And productivity of U.S. companies rocketed at a 9.4 percent annual rate in the third quarter, the best showing in 20 years, offering an encouraging sign that the economic resurgence will be lasting.

Bush and the funerals

Andrew Sullivan reflects on the attacks on Bush for not having attended any funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq. He explains that this is a non-issue, never mind that FDR, for example, never attended a funeral. Neither did Clinton, although he attended some memorials services (as has Bush). There are some good links in the article, including this one to Charles Krauthammer and the History News Network, which has a list of a number of the presidential traditions in this regard.

The emptying Great Plains

New York Times has run a series of articles on the effects of rural depopulation in and around the Great Plains. They are good and well written pieces, although a bit depressing. Thomas Krannawitter, who hails from a small town in Kansas, has a few thoughtful paragraphs on the issue that is worth reading. A sample: "The economic consequences of this loss in population have been grave: of the poorest counties in the nation, more than half are found in the rural belt running from Nebraska down through parts of Kansas and Oklahoma, where there are few people, little commerce, and virtually no economic growth. For those who have never lived in a smaller midwestern town, they may view the shrinking population simply as a function of economic and demographic trends. But for those like me who know first-hand what it means to live in a place where your neighbors are your friends, there is something sad about it. As an observer explained in one of the articles, life in the Midwest is ’built on reciprocity and trust. You do favors without expecting you will be repaid, but you know you will be repaid by someone.’ That kind of character-building experience is hard to find in a city."

Bush’s character, his common touch

Richard Bookhiser writes a nice piece on the President. The President’s trip to Iraq for Thanksgiving forces him to reflect: "The trip also played to a particular strength of Mr. Bush’s, which can only be called his common touch. However wayward Mr. Bush’s relationship with the English language, his command of body language and gesture does not desert him when he is with people in the trenches. The first notable example was his visit to Ground Zero two days after 9/11; when he stood on the ash heap and told the rescue workers that the world would soon hear them, he suddenly seemed ready for the long road ahead. They had inspired him, which allowed him to inspire them. He enacted the same rite of communion in Iraq." It is partly because the people understand this about Bush’s common touch that right after the Baghdad trip the overall approval of the president’s handling of his job went from 56 to 61 percent, while disapproval went from 41 to 36 percent.

Michael Novak takes a broader view and considers Bush’s wonderful speeches and the fact that he continues to be underestimated, and what that means. "Before any key event, press commentary on the upcoming performance of George W. Bush is nearly always dismissive. The president’s supposed faults are caricatured. Gloom about how poorly he will do is widespread. Then, virtually always, if the event is important enough, the president steps to the plate, gets a solid extra-base hit, and drives in a few more runs." This happened again in London.

I add my own reflections on Bush’s character by comparing him with Clinton’s personality. I was reminded of the difference by having seen Clinton strut his personality on stage at the Kennedy Center. "Watching him reminded me of the difference between personality and character. He was a giant on that large Kennedy Center stage. He filled all the space there was and then extended himself to fill the very air of the place, as the air seemed to move to give his reach more room. He spoke and his words were fluent, his large hands proving useful as physical expressions emphasizing the mood his words were meant to convey. The theatrical effect was perfect. I noticed these things. I also noticed—some minutes into his sanctimony—that I had no idea what he was talking about because I was so overtaken by his persona. I listened harder and discovered that he was talking about America’s role in the world. I listened even more and discovered that he wasn’t saying much of anything interesting or thoughtful, that he was talking without content. He was talking about his own role in the world."

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition

More proof that David Brooks is giving George Will a run for his conservative editorial money. In

"Boots on the Ground, Hearts on Their Sleeves"
, Brooks observes that American soldiers are fulfilling a dual charge that reflects the civil-military order that gave rise to the early American republic. In short, soldiers are answering the call to civility in the most demanding of situations. A few excerpts:

Can anybody think of another time in history when a comparable group of young people was asked to be at once so brave, fierce and relentless, while also being so sympathetic, creative and forbearing?

At spontaneous moments, when order threatens to break down, the soldiers, aviators and marines jump in and coach the Iraqis on the customs and habits of democracy. They try to weave that fabric of civic trust that can’t be written into law, but without which freedom becomes anarchy.

When you read their writings you see what thorough democrats they are. They are appalled at the thought of dominating Iraq. They want to see the Iraqis independent and governing themselves. If some president did want to create an empire, he couldn’t do it with these people. Their faith in freedom governs their actions.

Because our heritage includes a commitment to and practice of a "just war" theory steeped in the thought of Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin, perhaps another way of explaining the modern American soldier is to say that regardless of his religious beliefs, he at least acts like a Christian when he goes to war. To be sure, there is also a pacifist tradition that flows from Christian thought about public life and duty. That said, one cannot take too lightly or appreciate too greatly what I consider the heavier task that American soldiers carry out in today’s Iraq. In the words of the prophet Micah (6:8), "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." May God continue to bless our efforts over there.

Colorado court decision

A reader brought this blogger, View from a Height, in Colorado to my attention. His opinions regarding the Colorado Supreme Court’s redistricting decision seems reasonable

Ibrahim not captured

Contrary to earlier reports based on Iraqi sources, the U.S. reports that "Izzat Ibrahim, the most-wanted man in Iraq after Saddam Hussein, had not been captured in a raid near Kirkuk on Tuesday — despite reports to the contrary from Iraq’s Governing Council. Meanwhile, a U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb explosion in the tense town of Samarra."

Ivory Coast turmoil

The BBC reports that the 3,800 French peacekeepers, and all French interests, in the Ivory Coast have been threatened by the rebels. They said they would start shooting today. Here is the ABC News story on the same. In the meantime, French diplomats are on strike world-wide.

Reading Homer

Christopher B. Nelson, the president of St. John’s College, Annapolis, writes a lovely essay on Homer for The New Criterion. I should say that it is a re-print of his convocation address at St. John’s College. It is wonderful, read the whole thing. Just a taste: "Surely there is not a more powerful book anywhere than the Iliad with which to examine the virtues and vices, the beauty and terrible power for good or ill, of men with chests. So the Iliad, and, later, the Odyssey form a good beginning to philosophy; they ask you to confront powerful aspects of your nature on your first day at the college—aspects that often function independently of your rational capacity. You are asked to face the spirited element within you and to wonder whether it can or should be shaped and tempered by your reason."  

Colorado Supreme Court

The Colorado Supreme Court threw out a GOP redistricting plan rushed through this year. A reader points me toward this editorial in The Rocky Mountain News that is very sensible on the subject. Everyone’s hands seem to be dirty in this matter, but the Court above all. Surprise, they are now a law-making body!

Stick A Fork in It

It’s official. The Kyoto Protocol is formally dead, with the announcement today from Moscow that Russia will not ratify the treaty. This means it cannot now go into force, according to its own terms. Look for European and American environmentalists to say that it is Bush’s fault.

Two things are notable about this. First, the announcement was made today in Moscow, and not in Milan, where a 12-day UN conference is desperately trying to revive the Kyoto treaty. By announcing their decision in Moscow, the Russians have thumbed their nose at the UN conference.

Second, that sound you hear behind the curtain is European nations breathing a sigh of relief. They cannot meet even their near-term Kyoto targets (even with flat economies) and have been looking for ways to cheat on the treaty in recent weeks. They always wanted to be able to blame someone else, however, while playing to their green constituencies.

Best conservative weblogs

Nominations for best conservative weblogs are now open. Go there and nominate your favorite.

Electoral map as destiny?

The NY Times reports that demographic changes favor Bush and the GOP in 2004. "The shift in the electoral map means that the Republicans have a crucial cushion going into the 2004 presidential campaign. Mr. Bush could hold all the states he won in 2000 except for, say, West Virginia and its five electoral votes, and still win in 2004. The Democrats have no such room for error. They must hold all the states Mr. Gore won and add to them to make up the difference." This is because seven states that Bush won in 2000 have gained a total of eleven electoral votes, and lost four in others he won, for a net gain of seven electoral votes. Worth filing for later use. 

George Soros attacked

Jackie Mason (the comedian) attacks George Soros!

Izzaz Ibrahim caught?

Reuters reports the following: "Izzat Ibrahim, right-hand man to Saddam Hussein and the next most wanted Iraqi leader, has been killed or captured in a U.S. raid near the city of Kirkuk, Iraqi Governing Council sources said on Tuesday.

’There was a major action against a highly suspicious objective last night in Kirkuk and it is very possible that Izzat Ibrahim has been captured or killed,’ said one member of the Council, Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, adding he had been in contact with U.S. forces." Although I hope this is true, I don’t fully trust the report because the sole source seems to be the Governing Council.

Abizaid of Arabia

This portrait of General John Abizaid is fromThe Atlantic. The author says he is one of Rumsfeld’s favorite generals: "And not only Rumsfeld’s. To a remarkable degree Abizaid is admired by his fellow officers, many of whom have said outright that he is uniquely suited to oversee the increasingly complex and bloody occupation of Iraq. Indeed, Abizaid’s entire life seems to have prepared him to be the military proconsul of an Arab country in chaos. But now the question is whether he can step up from a career of triumphs in smaller arenas to take on the nation-building challenge of the decade."

Gun control

This study by the Fraser Institute in Canada examines crime trends in Commonwealth countries that have recently introduced firearm regulations: i.e., Great Britain, Australia, and Canada. It concludes that
violent crime rates, and homicide rates in particular, have been increasing in these countries, while dropping in the U.S.

Europe’s anti-Americanism

Jean Francois Revel considers Europe’s anti-American obsession. "Today’s anti-American disinformation is not the result of pardonable, correctable mistakes, but of a profound psychological need to make the U.S. the villain responsible for others’ failures." I have given my opinion on these matters in something called "The Ugly European," in case you want to go to the heart of the matter.

Same sex marriage, footnote

The AP reports that a Utah polygamist claims that his bigamy convictions should be thrown out following a Supreme Court decision decriminalizing gay sex. Calling Justice Scalia!

Principles and Tactics: The Case of Bush

My own guess-- and I’m generally terrible at these things-- I did think back in 2000 that there was a good chance Bush could lose the popular vote and win the electoral college vote (though by a considerably wider margin than he did). Doubtless the closeness of the final result weighs on their political calculations.

I guess again that at least one principle at the core of what the Bush-men wish to accomplish is one that much of the sophisticated left agrees with: It’s all about the judges, stupid. The more Bush appears centrist the better positioned he is to appoint (and have approved) Supreme Court justices who can resist charges of extremism and restore constitutionalism. (So far, no positive results on some wonderful candidates for the circuit courts of appeal. But Bush has not yet begun to fight here.) I gather this feeling of mine goes against the grain of beltway conservative legal beltway thinking that has Bush favoring a Hispanic nominee for the Supreme Court, one that would likely disappoint conservatives. I would not sell this President short on court appoinments, which I see as a key and necessarily unstated goal of his.

The decline of France

Christopher Caldwell’s extended essay in The Weekly Standard on France is both amusing and depressing, but worth reading. The country seems to be in quite a mess! He says that its foreign policy is stuck in the 1960’s, and France’s secular, consumerist society is "whimpering for mercy." The Left is shallow but powerful, and the current rulers can’t do much about the shifting domestic politics, much of which has to do with immigration and the assimiliation (or not) of Islam. De Villepin can keep talking about "destiny," but this smells more like decline.  They still don’t know how to make citizens.  

Same sex marriage

William Safire has some thoughtful things to say on the question of same sex marriage. Above all, I agree that this shouldn’t be left up to the courts; citizens need to talk about it. Robert Novak thinks that both Bush and the GOP are divided on this issue, one in which a middle course is not possible. He sees a minefield for both the party and Bush.

Republican audacity

George Will’s Newsweek column beats up on the Republicans for doing things (including the 26% increase in federal discretionary spending in the last two years) that they will probably regret later.  

Teach them geography!

Terrence Moore suggests that you buy your children globes, maps, any thing having to do with geography this Christmas. It is something that mosut be learned, and it’s fun, kind of like space travel.

Rise of the evangelicals on college campuses

The Boston Globe reports that evangelical Christians are increasing in numbers at the elite ivy league colleges. "There are 15 evangelical Christian fellowship groups at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology alone. This is a pretty stunning development for a university where science has always been god, where efficiency and rationality are embedded in the DNA of the cold granite campus. Hundreds of MIT students are involved in these fellowships -- blacks, whites, Hispanics, and Asians, especially Asians. Some of the groups are associated with powerhouse national evangelical organizations, like Campus Crusade for Christ and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Others are more home-grown. Either way, the ranks are multiplying."

"At Harvard University, ’there are probably more evangelicals than at any time since the 17th century,’ says the Rev. Peter J. Gomes, religious historian and minister of the university’s Memorial Church, who arrived on campus in 1970. ’And I don’t think I have ever seen a wider range of Christian fellowship activity.’"


Tacitus is a blogger I don’t remember having read before. He is currently in Africa and makes for some interesting, albeit depressing, reading. You might want to have a look.

Iraqi matters

Good morning: We killed 54 Iraqis when they tried to ambush us in two different places in the same town. No Americans died. Read the AP story above and note how Al Jazeera reports the same news. This NY Times article by John Burns is very interesting and a good read. Through a series of interviews with Iraqi’s the reader gets a better feel than normal about the difficulties of finding out the truth about how Iraqis feel about Saddam, the U.S., and what is currently going on there. Good reporting. Another NY Times article worth noting: Was Saddam trying to get nuclear missiles from North Korea? Yes. You might want to glance at Joe Katzman’s Iraqi roundup as well.