Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Demo primary as postmodernism

David Brooks’ version of the Democratic primary campaign as a kind of politics of postmodernist heaven. Very good.   

Ohio and what it represents for the Democrats

Cliff Schecter and Ruy Teixeria write a four page article telling their fellow Democrats what they need to do to win in November. It appears in The American Prospect. The thrust of it is this: Demos don’t need the South to get elected, what they need is Ohio. "The non-southern strategy is not about running as if every state were California. It’s more about running as if every state were Ohio -- true to the Democratic principles and priorities cherished by the base but attentive to the concerns of the moderate swing voters who can put you over the top." The whole is very much worth reading.  

Dirty bombs

James Carafano and Jack Spenser write a Heritage Backgrounder on the whole issue of dirty bombs, what they are, what their effects may be, and how to protect against them.

Peter Lawler on Kerry, et al

This is a perfectly reasonable view of Kerry, Dean, and Edwards from Peter Lawler:
"Dean was finished after his astonishingly poor showing in Iowa, where he was somewhat the victim of bad timing. Kerry wins barely there by reinventing himself again as a noble Veteran, with the somewhat mysterious appearance of that attractive and eloquent average guy he pulled out of the river. In retrospect Edwards had to win in Iowa (which he almost did) to have a chance. Naturally Kerry does well in New Hampshire after achieving sainthood in the Boston Globe. Marc Landy, a very astute political science prof, says he now has grudging respect for Kerry--what he mistook for being slow witted and boring turns out to great-souled gravitas in the imaginations of the people. But great-souled men ordinarily don’t resort to botox. The interesting thing about the recent debate was less the sputtering Dean than the implicit concession of Edwards. He made no effort to blow Kerry away--despite the fact that the man from North Carolina is much more glib and intelligent. Edwards opened his campaign for vice president. The trial lawyer took an out-of-court settlement rather than embracing the high risk strategy of going for the jury verdict. Very prudent from his point of view, bad for his party. Edwards would quickly have been the favorite against Bush; Kerry, thank God, won’t wear well at all."

Dean and the Demos

It looks like Howard Dean is both out of money and serious ideas. He has pulled his ads in the states between South Carolina and Arizona, and is going to "make a stand" in Michigan. Judging by the debate last night, in which his performance was extremely boring, and the chaos in his campaign team, as well as his lack of money (where did all that loot go to?), this guy’s finished. His only chance is to show how John Kerry has contradicted himself his whole career, that he is a vapid political opportunist, that he’ll put people to sleep on the campaign trail, that Bush will roll over him in the debates, etc., but Dean didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to do that last night and I don’t think he will be able to in the future. A pathetic conclusion to a very interesting campaign, interesting that is until the votes started coming in. Maybe it was all just media hype. Dean’s finished. I had thought, by the way, that I had seen boring debates before. I was wrong. Last night’s was worse than any and all the others combined. Never mind that Tom Brokaw said more than once "nation of Islam" when he meant to say Islamic nations (only Al Sharpton noticed this), or that Wesley Clark is dull as a well hammered nail. Shameful performance by one and all. David Limbaugh might be right, Kerry will be the nominee by default.

Death of Post-modern theory?

My note on the so-called death of post-modern literary theory has brought in a few responses, both private and public. The following is on the "Comments" section of NLT, I put it out in case you are not in the habit of looking at the Comments section. It’s from Dan Weick, a student (a good student) at a nearby university.

"As one who is suffering through the second of two semesters of shoveling these equine feces while in pursuit of honors in my English degree (although I will be able to regain my equilibrium by writing a senior thesis on either G.M. Hopkins or Flannery O’Conner), I must say that the death of PoMO Theory is news to me. The problem is that these pseudo-intellectuals filter who is admitted to graduate programs in the humanities (and thereby who will teach the humanities in the future), so we can only expect worse from the academy, not better, because the new generation will only be made up of such people as did not realize that they were being taught by lunatics. Through their postitions, they have the power to ensure the indoctrination of all of our professionals, especially our lawyers. For example: in order to get into the "elite" English programs (Yale, Berkley, etc) one is almost required to state a research interest in "Queer Theory" (I will not give the readers of this forum nightmares about the contents of said theory). This means that the English courses that every future lawyer or journalist (at least such as attend universities with the sort of reputations that open the doors to high-level careers) will take will be indoctrination sessions (read the NYT editorial on "Career Girls" from last weekend to see how these people use their classrooms).
Our universities have become fora for the elaborate self-justifications of tremendously disturbed people (quite literally: how else to explain the fact that the most cutting-edge theory is interested in viewing the entire world from the perspective of a psycho-sexual disorder?). O Tempora! O Mores! However, there is hope if one can every so often take Fr. George William Rutler’s advice and quiet down with a good cigar and St. Francis de Sale’s Treatise on the Love of God. I recommend also G.K. Chesterton, Jacques Maritain, C.S. Lewis, and, above all, the Saints (esp: Paul, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Alphonsus di Liguori, Jean Marie Vianney, Robert Bellarmine Therese of the Child Jesus, and Gregory the Great) to counteract the adverse effects of exposure to contemporary academic drivel."

Liberals and freedom of speech

Thomas G. West argues that there is less freedom of speech now than any other time in the history of the Republic. He explains why today’s liberals have rejected the Founder’s understanding of free speech. This has consequences, as we know. Excellent. Should you suspect that West is wrong, take a look at the latest Ninth circuit ruling on what they think is free speech. Amazing. Get your best cofee and read West and brood over the fate of the Republic.   

Literary theory, dead

Finally, someone has noticed that post-modern literary theory is dead or dying. This, from the Christian Science Monitor: "Postmodern literary theory is now transforming itself so rapidly that Marxist, feminist, deconstructionist, and psychoanalytic critics (and others) are flocking back to the drawing board in droves as they search for new approaches to writing and teaching.

Indeed, some academics say that postmodern theory is on the way out altogether and that the heady ideas that once changed the way literature is taught and read will soon be as extinct as the dodo and the buggy whip." All this is laughable, if it weren’t so serious in its consequences. Thousands of students have been mislead into
not reading great works of literature because it was said that it was all meaningless mumbo-jumbo. They missed some good and grand things, beautiful things, human things. Oh, but that’s OK because the purveyors of this nonsense now have tenure and they’ll just go and find some other kind of drivel that will seem oh-so-new and oh-so-sophisticated, in preparation for misleading another legion of undergraduates. We should exile them all to Paris where they can sit around left bank coffee houses pretending to talk with one another in their wild and whirling words which signify nothing, for they are too old to learn. They will never wonder or know or be able to hear words like these (and that is their curse):
"Beauty dead, black Chaos comes again." Or, "Speak of me as I am. Nothing extenuate,/Nor set down aught in malice." Or, "Thy father slew my father; therefore die."


The second BBC official has resigned. I wonder when the reporter (I forget his name), who should have direct responsibility for this mess, will resign. He should.

Spring offensive in Pakistan

Daniel Drezner has a lot of interesting information, with many links, on the coming Spring offensive against al Qaeda in Pakistan. I don’t quite understand why it’s a story. That isn’t explained by anyone, yet. Shouldn’t something this big be kept under wraps?

Clark’s lobbying

The WaPo Wesley Clark has a detailed story on Clark’s lobbying and other work after his military stint. Full of interesting details.

Demo delegate count

ABC news has put together a few paragraphs on who has how many delegates thus far. This is an estimate, adding some super-delegates (ABC is guessing since super-delegates can do whatever they want, and can change their minds many times) to the numbers received by candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire. Dean’s in the lead.

Heidegger-Arendt letters

Adam Kirsch has a short review of the English translation of the Heidegger-Arendt correspondence, 1925-1975.

Campaign Finance Reform

I just ntoiced this short op-ed by David L. Schaeffer on campaign finance reform. It was written just over a week ago, and attached to the Iowa caucuses, but it remains relevant. It refelects on the fact that the law does not limit "in kind" contributions to a candidate, that means that a lot people (students, union members, for example) with a lot of time on their hands (and who can be indirectly reimbursed) are favored, and therefore, so are certain kinds of candidates. Very good.  

Oxley speech

Congressman Michael Oxley spoke at the Center on Tuesday on the resilience of the U.S. Economy. You can listen to the good thirty minute talk by clicking on his name.

Nude Christians?

O.K., it does seem to be the case that the Bible makes many refernces to people unclothed, but does that mean that we have to have a Christian nudist camp? "Although nudity will be mandatory, attending church services will be clothing-optional for residents." I would appreciate if anyone can explain this to me. The best explanation gets a free No Left Turn mug.

No WMD’s found

Here is the transcript (before the questioning) of David Kay’s opening remarks on why no WMD have been found in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee. I listened to some of the conversation and it is perfectly obvious that all this--if no weapons are ever found--will not turn out to be the body blow against Bush that all his enemies want it to be. The intelligence, as Kay made clear, was awful. It was awful here and everywhere. No mischief on the administration’s part, just incompetence on the part of the intelligence agencies here, Britain, France, etc.

New York Times to cover conservatives

Sridhar Pappu writes about The New York Times’ lunacy in assigning a reporter to cover conservatives. It’s a perfect reflection of both the bias and the insanity of the liberal media elite. What are they thinking? What’s there to cover, just read them.

Saddam’s bribes

This is getting some press, finally. There are lists and names on the list, and an Iraqi blogger named Hammorabi has some interesting information. Worth a look. Huge amounts of money, apparently, are involved. Is it possible that the bribes reached Chirac? Here is the Reuters story on the issue, and the UPI’s.

Kerry as the Man?

Much ink is being spilled by all the pundits trying to understand what has happened in the Democratic primary thus far, and trying to guess what is going to happen during the next few weeks. Dean the insurgent has now hired a Gore man to run the rest of his campaign and this means that I may have to take back what I said a few days ago about not counting him out. He has just lowered his chances of win ning any other states. Edwards has to win South Carolina, or he’ll become the Vice Presidential nominee at best, and Clark has revealed himself to be, as George Will calls him, an empty uniform. It turns out that he is a silly and slippery man, a perfect Clinton friend. John Kerry is the man of the hour but, there are problems, and its not only his liberal voting record. Read this terrific charaterization of Kerry by William Saletan (not exactly a Republican!). He says this: "Physically, Kerry’s repertoire is painfully limited. He thrusts his index finger at the audience in an overhead arc again and again, as though launching a projectile. He seems to be trying not to animate his thoughts but to expel them. Above the neck, nothing but his mouth moves. If you showed anyone a video of Kerry with his lips blacked out, they’d never know he was speaking." Noam Scheiber of The New Republic points to one of many of Kerry’s vulnerabilities, how he took both sides of the issue in the first Gulf War. And Terry Garlock, a decotrated Vietnam vet himself is not amused by the perception that Vietnam vets are supporting Kerry. They don’t, and this will become an issue should Kerry become the nomineee.
Mac Owens
, also adecorated Vietnam vet adds to this in a longer and more comprehensive review of Kerry’s so called pride in serving.

Max Boot compares Kerry’s stance(s) on Iraq to Clinton’s stance on the Gulf War when he was a candidate; this is not in Kerry’s interest. Hugh Hewitt isn’t questioning Kerry’s patriotism, but he is questioning his judgment, and that’s fair game.
Michelle Malkin doesn’t hesitate to go after Kerry’s wife, you know, the pickel and ketchup fortune lady who, until recently, had the acid tongue. If Kerry becomes president she’ll make a very interesting first lady to say the least.

Michael Barone is not yet persuaded that Kerry is the man. He is going to be attacked (they have to attack him) by the other candidates starting at tonight’s debate, and some of the attacks will hit their target. Andrew Busch thinks that the Demos will have a hard time making a case that their candidate (if Kerry or Dean) is a moderate, he thinks they are "left and lefter."

Indians’ pitcher

The Cleveland Indians aretrying to build a good team. This may not be a good start.

Killing cats

Boy feeds cat to alligator, now has criminal record, plus community service, etc. Does anyone other than me think this is a bit steep? After all, it wasn’t a dog, it was a cat. Hasn’t anyone read Kipling’s "The cat that walked by himself?" This is more like it, a young dog receives $1,500 Master Card from bank.

Military aid to Poland

President Bush has announced that there will be more military aid to Poland. "In my ’05 budget request, there is a $66 million request to help the Polish military, particularly with airlift capacity, such as C-130 aircraft," Bush said.

Saddam bribed French, et al?

Iraqi authorities will investigate a report by an Iraqi newspaper that there were many people (including French officials) bribed by Saddam’s government. "The list quoted by al-Mada included members of Arab ruling families, religious organisations, politicians and political parties from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Sudan, China, Austria, France and other countries."

BBC in turmoil

The Chairman of the BBC has resigned "in the wake of Lord Hutton’s criticisms of the corporation’s reports.

He quit after Lord Hutton said the suggestion in BBC reports that the government ’sexed up’ its dossier on Iraq’s weapons with unreliable intelligence was ’unfounded’.

Lord Hutton also criticised "defective" BBC editorial processes over defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan’s broadcasts of the claims on the Today programme."

This is, of course, a complete vindication of Tony Blair and his government in this awful case. The BBC should suffer; a man was put into a dishonorable position, killed himself, the government was dislocated, invetigations were afoot, etc. They should break up this government monopoly, and sell the pieces. Andrew Sullivan has more info.

Kerry: The Anti-Vietnam Vet

Mac Owens takes a frank and critical look at John Kerry’s anti-war (Vietnam) position following Kerry’s return from Vietnam.

Owens recapitulates many of the misrepresentations/lies that animated the Anti-Vietnam War crowd. Excellent.

New Hamshire results

The results show (among other things) that Zogby was off by a mile. But, more seriously, I’m surprised by the size of Kerry’s victory (39% to Dean’s 26%, and Clark’s 12% and Edward’s 12%, with Lieberman at 9%). Dean will stay in and still has a chnace as Kerry will now be much more seriously examined by an otherwise obtuse media; it will be discovered that he is a real bore, can’t go anywhere without his hairdryer, only has one gesture and is a monotone candidate. Dean can come back. Edwards should have done better, and the thororughly goofy Clark should have died in NH. Lieberman, I’m sorry to say, is finished. I don’t think this thing is over by a long shot. There will still be four going on to South Carolina and elsewhere, and SC is most dangerous for Edwards: he has to have a win. Also, if Clark comes in fourth in SC, he should be finished. Such are my quick thoughts, off to a Presidency class, and I’ll check in later this afternoon.

New Hampshire voting results at 8 P.M.

With ten percent of the precincts reporting it is Kerry, 38%; Dean, 24%; Edwards 13%; Lieberman 10%; and Clark 10%. Go here for updates every fifteen minutes: Primary Monitor.

Saletan on Dean

William Saletan writes a column for Slate on the Dean campaign that is pregnant with meaning; he explaisn why the campaign is about itself. Not pretty, but true. 

Brooks on Edwards, the happy populist

David Brooks writes a terrific op-ed on John Edwards. Very thoughtful nand, indirectly, explains why he is a much better politician than Kerry, Dean, et al. "John Edwards is one of the happiest populists in U.S. history. He doesn’t rage against the 2 percent who have seized all this power. He sees politics through the prism of his own personal triumph, his rise from being the son of a millworker to becoming a lawyer and presidential candidate."

"The crucial question for Edwards is whether he can move from charisma to character. Bryan Garsten, a Williams College political theorist whom I met at an Edwards speech, points out that Aristotle believed that the greatest speakers don’t just persuade audiences to accept an argument — they get people to trust their judgment. They use emotion and logic to establish their character, which leaves a deeper impression than the momentary thrill of a standing ovation."


New Hamshire, Monday (& prediction)

Zogby tracking claims that Kerry’s lead has widened (he was up by only three yesterday) to a 13 point lead; he is at 37%. Dean has dropped to 24 from 28, and Edwards is still at 12, but now in third place because Clark has dropped a four points to 9. The only real question here are the independent voters; how they distribute themselves at the end of the day will be telling (I don’t trust Zogby’s factoring them in to his numbers). I am betting (that means I don’t know) that Edwards will pick up the most. Prediction (but no bet), just for the heck of it: Kerry 31%, Dean 20%, Edwards 19%, Clark 8%, Lieberman 8%.

Green Berets

Heather Nauert writes a nice, albeit brief, story on some Green Berets. She’s impressed with their brawn and brains. 

Why Bush Will Win

Here’s a nice, short article from an Australian newspaper which explains why Bush will win, and likely win big, in November. The ’War on Terror’ is really all that matters. It’s nice that the economy has turned around, it’s nice that Bush hasn’t had to lie about his interns, but it’s the war. The last few paragraphs show especially why. The parents, siblings, and friends of those who serve and die in Iraq know that this war is necessary and worthwhile.

The Democratic candidates look like pygmies next to Bush, with all due apologies to pygmies.

Colorado students complain of bias

The Denver Post reports on a student movement at the University of Colorado, Boulder, led by the College Republicans, to identify and publish examples of bias among liberal members of the faculty. Here is the web site of the College Republicans. It goes almost without saying that many liberals are up in arms about this. "I’m shocked the students would resort to this," said Barbara Bintliff, a CU law school professor and chairwoman of the Boulder Faculty Assembly. "I’m concerned they may wind up with a blacklist or engage in an attempt to censure certain professors." Interesting how today’s liberal professors are up in arms when students become activists. Back in my days (in the ’60s) all the liberal professors encouraged students to be active (demonstrate, rave and rant, publish lists of professors who were against their political views, etc.) and to pay attention to students’ demands and interests, but now, when students disagree with the establishment liberal views, they are talking about blacklists and such. I remember as a student at San Fernando Valles State College (now Cal State, Northridge) that we had to physically protect professors from the New Left which was starting to devour its own: we were protecting the ordinary liberal profs (almost all of them Democrats, by the way) from physical attacks by the New Left "activists." I find all this amusing.

Home schooled in college

This AP story is on how Home schooled kids are doing in college and how they are adjusting. They are doing well and adjusting with ease. This isn’t rocket science. It’s clear that colleges are interested in such kids because they make very good students as a rule; they are learning how to handle them. Their numbers are still increasing.

New Hampshire, Monday morning

The Zogby tracking poll claims that Kerry is only 3 points up on Dean. Possible. We should also pay attention to the slide of Clark; it hasn’t stopped, and the rise of Edwards and Liberman. Edwards, it seems to me, is still the one to watch; his support is deeper and more long-lasting than that of Clark and more voters say Edwards is their back-up candidate. Andrew Sullivan is begging N.H. voters to give us a shock by voting against Kerry whom he considers a shameless panderer and a bore, one who has "the liberal baggage with none of the liberal fire." Bob Novak thinks that Edwards has a much better chance in NH than polls are giving him credit for; he has "the perfect pitch" for today’s Dempocrats.

This five page U.S. News & World Report on the process of "democratization" in Iraq is worth reading. While not a full review, it gives you an insight into how things are going, and how amazingly complicated all this is. Two quick points: I do hope that this democratization project goes well beyond a simple majority rule question and into what let’s call constitutionalism (for now what I mean that while it should be--in the end--the people ruling, that rule should be mediated by indirection, representation and federalism, with the rule of law dominating and limiting); and the second thing that struck me is how little the U.S. is impressing itself on the Iraqis. Are we being a bit too distant? Some Iraqis seem to think so. Obviously, all this is what is worth watching over the next many months.

Demos in N.H. and elsewhere

Here is the latest Zogby tracking poll, and the ARG tracking poll.
And here is

They are roughly the same. Kerry is ahead, by how much is in dispute (18 points, or 12, or 8), but the spot for second between Dean, Edwards and Clark is quite close in some of them. Dean’s slide seems to have stopped and I sense that he may be moving up a bit; if this true than the real war is for third place. Clark continues to slip. I wouldn’t be shocked if Lieberman ended up doing better than Clark. Edwards seems to be moving up, but slowly. If he c ame in third in NH, that would serve him well (after all, Kerry, Dean and Liberman are from the neighborhood). In the meantime, Kerry is now in second place in South Carolina (just behind Edwards), having jumped over 10 points there since Iowa. And Kerry, who was in fifth the day before Iowa, is now in the lead by 2 points in Arizona; he is 2 points ahead of Clark and 5 points ahead of Dean. The two that are in most danger in NH are Clark and Lieberman, in my opinion. Although I must admit that Kerry is in some danger if he doesn’t live up to expectations. What is that? I don’t know, perhaps the 30% mark; anything below that could seem to hurt him in So. Carolina and beyond.

Bill Clinton’s book

Newsweek reports on Cliton is writing his autobiography on "Clinton time," i.e., late. Still, if he keeps it up, it should appear by mid or late Summer. Just in time to put him into the headlines for weeks (if not months) during and after the Democratic convention. That could cause some mischief for the Democratic nominee, I think.

New citizenship exam

This The Miami Herald story is on the new citizenship exam that is to go into effect two years from now; they will start using it in a limited way by October. "The intent is not to make the civics portion harder, but ’more meaningful,’ said Eduardo Aguirre, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

’With the memorization process, typically what happens to folks is a few weeks later, you forget,’ Aguirre said in a recent telephone interview. ’I want them to know more than just the three colors of the flag. I want them to know, `What does the flag mean?’"

Thomas Sowell

Here is a short interview with Thomas Sowell on everything from rent control to reparations.

Above and beyond the call of duty

The only soldier nominated for the Medal of Honor in the Iraq War thus far is Staff Sgt. Paul Smith. The St. Petersburg Times has on elaborate site dedicated to him, the actions he took, etc. Worth a read. His men were outnumbered, he wouldn’t retreat, and he died.

San Francisco, left of the salad fork

This is a classic (i.e., great!) George Will column. It is on the mayoral election in San Francisco which was won (but not by much) by the Democrat Gavin Newsom (vs a Green, who, Will says is "to the left of the salad fork") and what that might have to do with Howard Dean’s loss in Iowa. Great characterization of the weird-left San Francisco political world.    

Mean Dean

Mean Dean action figure is now avaliable. And the real Howard Dean is now attacking the Iowa caucus system, he said Saturday he was surprised by the "under the table" campaigning he faced during the Iowa caucus and said the state needs to prevent such negative attacks if it wants to keep the nation’s leadoff presidential vote. Suffolk Poll claims that Kerry is extending his lead over Dean, but Zogby claims that Dean’s drop may have already bottomed out. Newsweek poll claims that Kerry would beat Bush, 49-46%.

Moving to France

Theodore Dalrymple is moving from England to France. One cup of undistinguished (i.e., American) coffee. 

Iraq and al Qaeda

Power Line has an extended and very useful commentary on how article by Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus in the WaPo attack Cheney and the Administration’s claims that there were connections between al Qaeda and Saddam. Worth a careful read, and follow links. Also note that Husam al-Yemeni has been captured in Iraq. He is said to be part of the leadership structure of Ansar al-Islam, the Al Qaeda-associated terrorist group based in Iraqi Kurdistan. Some U.S. officials described al-Yemeni as the first Al Qaeda operative captured in Iraq.

New Hampshire debate

The Franklin Pierce College Poll puts Kerry up by 14 points in New Hampshire (with Clark very close behind). But note that about 40% of the folks say they aren’t firm about their decision. Zogby has Kerry leading Dean by only 8 points. It seems to me that Dean will end doing no better than third place, behind Kerry and Clark, perhaps even below Edwards. It is very helpful to Kerry (and hurts Edwards) that Fritz Hollings endorsed him. I heard much of the debate last night and my quick opinion is that there were no critical moments in it, for anyone. It did seem to me that Liberman was (although amusing in spots) like a fish out of water. He has no constituency. When you think about this is odd since his original position on Iraq is not that different from Kerry’s. Too bad, but he’ll do not better than fifth. Both Kerry and Edwards have pulled in about $700,000 on the internet since Iowa. Washington Post claims that the whole debate now is about electability. Jonathan Last claims that the Dean supporters are preparing for the worst. John Podhoretz claims that Edwards and Clark did very badly last night. I have a busy day today, so this will be about it. I’ll be around for a bit on Saturday. By the way, it was about 4 degrees this morning at 7 a.m. Why did I ever leave Southern California?

New Hampshire, a thought

The debate among the Democrats tonight will be worth watching. This will be pivotal. Things have started shaking out in Iowa. Kerry, who was left for dead at the end of November, ended up beating Dean 2-1, and Edwards came in a close second. While I predicted the decline of Dean around early December (based in large measure on two unnataural acts he committed: he didn’t think catching Saddam Hussein was a big deal, and he got Gore to endorse him, and then over the next few weeks got other establishment liberals to endorse him), I did not predict that Kerry would win. But he won big.

The candidate most disadvantaged in New Hampshire by the Kerry victory (aside from Gephardt, who dropped out, and Dean) is Wesley Clark because he seemed to make himself into the un-Dean candidate. But if Dean counts for less, so does Clark. Besides, Clark himself is similar to Dean in that he is full of contradictions, and in other respects seems less stable and or not trustworthy. Kerry and Edwards are doing well because they are steady and sure in their campaigning and (more or less) in the positions they take. Their political character is better. Where does this leave Lieberman? He will be to New Hampshire, what Dean was to Iowa. He will come in fifth (unless the bottom drops all the way out of Dean and Lieberman ends up coming in foruth)and will drop out of the race. Will Edwards be able to come in second or third? Not necessarily, but it’s possible. If he does, he will surely go all the way, after having won South Carolina. He could end up on the ticket, after all.

I believe that Dean commited political suicide with his screamning and yelling after the vote in Iowa. He revealed a man off balance. It scared folks. That fear will follow him to New Hampshire. Now, it is possible that an excellent performance by Dean in the debate tonight might help him re-group, but I doubt he can do it. People now think they have seen his true self and they don’t like it. But see Hugh Hewitt’s (under January 21st) serious suggestions on how Dean might overcome his problem. Watch the debate tonight.

Advice for Dean

Hugh Hewitt has a nice paragraph reflecting on Nancy Pelosi’s speech (which he has read!) and it became clear to him why the Demos can’t be trusted on national defense; they just don’t get it. But then he has a few long paragraphs reflecting on Dean’s "I have a scream speech" (I have heard some call it this, it took place on MLK day) and writes the three minute speech he must give tonight during the debate to salvage his candidacy. This is very good (seriously) and I think that’s what he needs to do. Do read it. It would seem from last night’s and this morning’s news shows that Dean is in deep trouble. The Muskie tear is nothing compared to this. I don’t think he can pull it out. Zogby has Kerry in the lead in NH by three points (27 to 24%). Remember that about three weeks ago Dean was leading by thirty points! And Kerry has now been endorsed by both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald.

"He went all the way."

That’s how Mel Gibson described Christ’s death on the cross yesterday to a group of evangelical pastors gathered to preview "The Passion." Even the WaTimes article on the upcoming movie is inspiring. The movie, by the way, has been rated R and will be released Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25.

Ohio set to ban gay marriage

The Ohio legislature just passed what is already being haled as one of the most restrictive bans on gay marriage in the country, and Governor Taft has promised to sign it. Ohio’s defense of marriage prohibits state employees from getting benefits for their domestic partners. The Senate passed the measure 18-15 yesterday.

Books in Review

Last month’s issue of First Things carried two book reviews that might be of interest to some more than others. The first, entitled "A Noble Failure," takes on Richard Epstein’s latest book Skepticism and Freedom: A Modern Case for Classical Liberalism (Alt may have something to say about this), while the second, "Baptizing Middle-Earth" looks at The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-Earth, by Ralph C. Wood.

Reproductive Technology Report

The President’s Council on Bioethics is finalizing its latest advisory report, "Biotechnologies Touching the Beginnings of Human Life," on the costs and benefits of reproductive technology. Here’s the WaPo story. Here’s the Council’s web version of its January report on stem cell research.

Cowboy Cloners

From cowboy poetry to cowboy cloning, British scientists are calling on nations and the international community to ban what they call "cowboy cloners" after Kentucky doctor Panos Zavos claimed on Saturday to have emplanted a cloned human embryo. According to Lord May of Oxford, the president of Britain’s Royal Society, "It is important therefore that every country introduces effective legislation to deter cowboy cloners."

In related news, the BBC has compiled a list of questions a cloned child might someday ask its parent(s), not the least of which being: "Mommy, why do kids call me Frankenstein?"

"A prairie dog on speed"

That’s how former Senator Alan Simpson described Howard Dean during his "yeah for third place" speech. Here’s the WaTimes story on reaction to Dean’s ranting.

WaPo misquotes Bush

Glenn Reynolds has a few choice paragraphs on the Washington Post’s misleading sentence (misqoute, really) on what the president said about whether or not we are acting unilaterally in Iraq. The Post says:

"Some critics have said" U.S. foreign policy is too unilateral, Bush allowed, before ticking off a list of 17 countries with troops in Iraq and citing his teamwork with ’the international community’ to contain threats in North Korea and Iran."

The President said: "Some critics have said our duties in Iraq must be internationalized. This particular criticism is hard to explain to our partners in Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, the Netherlands, Norway, El Salvador, and the 17 other countries that have committed troops to Iraq."

The Post halved the countries that are there. Can this be an honest mistake? I know bloggers don’t have editors, but assumed The Post did. Read it all. It’s short.

Churchill’s parrot

I thank John Moser for this other story wherein Lady Soames, Winston’s daughter, is denying that he owned that parrot and that the Great Man taught the parrot to say those things (or anything else, for alas, she claims, the parrot didn’t talk). With respect--for the daughter is a Lady--I think this is exactly what we should expect from a daughter whose heart is still filled with love and piety. In short, I don’t trust her in this matter. Besides, if the story about the parrot isn’t true, it should be. So it is.

Cowboy poetry

This announces the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering at the end of this month in Elko, Nevada. I don’t know anything about it, but it sounds as though it might be good. What is cowboy poetry? I don’t know, but I was recently reminded of a line from a San Peckinpah film, Ride the High Country, that I think is fine. Two old lawmen, whose time is past, are hired to take gold from a mine to the town. One of them is tempted to forget about the old morality, and tries to persuade the other to steal the loot (The actors are Joel McRae and Randolph Scott). They would become rich and live out their last days in luxury. Randolph Scott tries to persuade McRae to steel, and says: "What’s on the back of a poor man when he dies? The clothes of pride. And they’re not any warmer to him than when he was alive. Is that all you want, Steve?" Joel McRae replies: "All I want is to enter my house justified."

A nice by essay by John Marini entitled, "Western Justice: John Ford and Sam Peckinpah on the Defense of the Heroic," reminded me of this great scene. It is to be found in the just published book, The California Republic, edited by Brian P. Janiskee and Ken Masugi. There are other fine essays in the volume; very much worth a look.

Churchill’s Parrot?

It turns out there’s some reason for skepticism about the story that Churchill’s parrot has been found. According to this article the Churchill family is denying it.

His daughter, Lady Soames, 82, told The Scotsman: ’I’m fed up with this story that my father taught it rude words. He only ever had an African grey parrot and it certainly did not talk.’

Personally I would’ve gone for the Norwegian blue. Lovely plumage....

Bush’s State of the Union speech

The President’s speech last night, it seems to me, was very good. We have gotten so used to him giving great speeches, including the State of the Union after 9/11, that when he gives a perfectly fine speech, we tend to be overly critical. So with last night’s speech. Because it was, inevitably and rightly, an election-year State of the Union talk, it did not reach the rhetorical heights of his very best efforts. (And yet, if you doubt it’s success, just re-play Nancy Pelosi’s response!) But, it worked. The strongest part of the speech was on foreign policy and the war on terror. That pudding had a clear theme and he stayed with it. Our duty is "the active defense of the American people," and we are not going to ask anyone’s permission to do that. Our resolution is firm, our actions in the world are not only in our interest, but are good. It was good that he that mentioned our fundamental principles and the "unseen pillars" of civilization that support them.
While his noting the virtues of tax cuts was a good thing, as was his declaration in favor of marriage, and his attack on runaway courts, I think he could have left the steroid issue out. Such particularity, especially in the State of the Union address, lowers our eye sights too much. The presidency is too high an office to be concerned with such matters. They should be handled, and talked about, on the lower levels of our constitutional building. I especially liked his few words on the Patriot Act, not only is he right on the issue, but his tough stance on it will be useful against his Democratic opponent in the fall: They can’t do two things at once, on the one hand critcize the administration for not doing enough on Homeland security, and on the other, criticize the Patriot Act as they have been doing (especially when both Kerry and Edwards voted for it). And, in fine, I liked this formulation of the President especially: "The momentum of freedom in our world is unmistakable and it is not carried forward by our power alone. We can trust in that greater power who guides the unfolding of the years." For more elaborate comments, see

Lucas Morel’s op-ed at Ashbrook.

The State of the Union Address

You know President Bush has the won the rhetorical battle with the Democrats when the prepared responses of both Pelosi and Daschle began: "The state of our union is strong." Daschle is still talking as I write this, and I just heard how college tuition has gone up $600/year and somehow Bush is responsible for this. The Dems are in big trouble.

Some comments on Iowa

Dvaid Frum asks, have the Democrats gone sane? Mickey Kaus thinks Iowans made a mistake and hopes that New Hampshire discovers more about Kerry before the vote. Daniel Drezner doesn’t think Dean is going away soon, he has too much money. The Dean camp is going back to its roots, "We’re the insurgent campaign." David Broder says that noe Clark has to show he’s more than a maverick. David Yepsen says that Iowans found Dean too angry and too liberal. And RealClearPolitics has a few comments with some useful links.

Greek phonics

Edith Foster was led to reflect on Greek phonics by reading this article on phonics by Terrence Moore, which I brought to your attention a few weeks ago. Do you know what a Greek clay pot has to do with phonics? Well, let her explain it to you. It has to do with "potsherd", or pieces of clay pots, the Greek alphabet, and the invention of the Greek alphabet (in order to free writing from memory). A must read. By the way, you might also want to look at Edith Foster’s lesson plan on the origins of the alphabet for the National Endowment for the Humanities.   

Churchill’s parrot

It seems that Churchill’s parrot is still alive. He bought her (named it "Charlie") in 1937, and currently lives in England, and is over one hundred years old. She still says some things the great man taught her, including "’Blank’ the Nazis," "’Blank’ Hitler." (thanks to Andrew Sullivan)

Been There, Done Dean

I don’t follow the daily polls like a fever chart (I have a life, unlike Chris Matthews and Frank Luntz), so I don’t know exactly when Dean’s progress stalled and started going into reverse. It is tempting to date it to Al Gore’s endorsement--is there any more certain kiss of death than to have Gore on your side?

But if you pick apart the polls numbers and look carefully, I’ll bet one Dean gaffe stands about from all the others and can be seen as his turning point: his remark that the capture of Saddam made the U.S. no safer. Even most liberals are smart enough to know this is stupid. It took a while for this to percolate, but in retrospect it looks equivalent to 1968’s early GOP front-runner George Romney, whose campaign imploded when he made his famous remark about being "brainwashed" over the Vietnam War.

Another time-honored lesson is reaffirmed. Dean is an undisciplined candidate. Undisciplined candidates almost always lose (Hart, Buchanan, Kemp, Eugene McCarthy), where as the disciplined candidates (Carter, Reagan, Clinton, GW Bush) usually make it.

The Iowa surprise

I guess almost everyone (save Bill Kristol and a few others) was wrong about Iowa. I turns out I was dead wrong in thinking that Gephardt would win (although I was right about Dean peaking much too early). I thought that Gephard’s organization would pull it out in the end. It turns out that organization in Iowa this time around was not the major factor. Jeff Sikkenga (just below) has some good comments on all this, as does Andy Busch at Ashbrook. Take a look at both.

My immediate opinion is this: First, as Andy Busch states, it is possible that Dean will now sink without a trace. I think it is probable for two reasons a) his temperament--which Andy only politely alludes to--is now in question (did you see his horrid performance on stage to his supporters?) Weird. Off point entirely, the man was screaming when a few thoughtful words would have done the trick. And b) the victory and Kerry and Edward’s great numbers indicate to me that the extreme attack by Dean on Bush’s Iraq war may not be as well received as many have thought. Second, it would seem to me that Clark is no longer as well positioned as I thought he would be. If someone other than Dean wins New Hamshire, Clark will have to have a very strong showing in South Carolina in order to get anywhere. Three, I am satisfied with this result. It shows that people (Democrats in this case) are both not as predictable as everyone in the media would like them to be, and not as extreme as many have thought. The so-called angry mood out there may be a myth. Good.

Dean and Gephardt

What happened to Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean? Here’s a few unfinished thoughts, for what it’s worth:

Gephardt clearly had some serious problems before the caucuses ever started. He was only ever in contention in one mid-Western state bordering his own. For one thing, he’s past his political shelf life. You usually only get one serious go-around at the presidency, and Gephardt had his in 1988. I know that people often cite Nixon (or even Reagan) to the contrary, but Gephardt was no Nixon: Nixon won his party’s nomination, lost a very close general election, and ran again only eight years later; Gephardt collapsed in his party’s nomination process after winning just one state and then promptly returned to Congress, where he lost almost every major political and legislative battle for the next 15 years. Gephardt was "stale".

Gephardt also had a style problem: he ran 13 times in a safe St. Louis district, which didn’t help him on the stump, even in Iowa. I watched some campaign events on C-SPAN and noticed that with his laconic, mid-Western delivery, he either sounded like John Wayne without the movie-star quality or, when he tried to fire up a room, like the mediocre coach of a bad football team who thinks he has to yell even though it can’t possibly make a difference. In a two-way race with Howard Dean, Gephardt’s mid-Western solidity would have helped, but not with Kerry and Edwards seeming like sane alternatives. And boring doesn’t become inspiring by shouting.

Moreover, Gephardt didn’t seem to adjust to the (now well-known) fact that old-fashioned trade unions and family farmers are not the political force they once were in the mid-West. Sure, they can turn out important votes in a close general election against a Republican candidate, but the rise of agribusiness and the serious decline of union membership -- especially in traditional manufacturing sectors -- will continue to reduce the power of these constituencies within the Democratic party -- even in Iowa.

And what about those reliable 65 and older voters? Gephardt couldn’t manufacture a plausible, immediate Social Security or Medicare scare in order to really turn out the senior citizens. Without that, John Kerry appealed to the senior vote that now matters most to Democratic politicians: the 55-64 year old Vietnam generation. If there’s any lesson here, it’s that Bush has nothing serious to fear over Social Security or Medicare.

Finally, Gephardt’s signature issue -- opposition to free trade -- just didn’t capture Iowans. While recent polls show that the economy is a concern among voters (although not the top one, which is terrorism), full-out opposition to free trade doesn’t resonate anymore. This is partly because of the declining power of trade unions and partly because while everyone laments the loss of factory jobs to Mexico or China, almost no one seriously entertains the idea of unraveling global trade deals. People understand that Pandora’s Box would be opened wide, and unless you’ve lost your job directly to such deals, it’s not worth the risk, especially if your job depends in any way on exports.

If Gephardt fizzled, perhaps the biggest surprise (though perhaps not to readers of the blogs on this page) was how badly Howard Dean imploded. I won’t repeat other people’s insights about Dean’s miscues, his limited appeal as the angry candidate, or the fact that endorsements don’t mean anything in national Democratic politics these days unless they come from the Clintons. I would, however, add a few other thoughts.

First, like Gephardt, Dean was the only major candidate to call for repealing all of the Bush tax cut in order to finance universal health care. As John Kerry pointed out over and over again in his ads, repealing a tax cut is raising taxes. Now it’s certainly true that some people -- especially in key Democratic constituencies -- really, really want to have health care paid for by someone else. But it’s also true that most other people -- even in the Democratic party -- aren’t really sure that they want to pay someone else’s doctor bills. Kerry got it right politically by saying that only the "rich" would have their taxes raised to pay for expansion of health care. This shows less about health care than it does about the fact that the Democrats have capitulated on middle-class taxes. Look for the Bush people to start defining very clearly who’s in the middle class.

Dean’s poor showing also makes it indisputably clear that his own defining issue -- passionate opposition to the war in Iraq -- is potentially deadly for the Democrats. Even for most Democrats in Iowa, Iraq is now about finishing the job and winning the peace, not about why we went to war in the first place. In their heart of hearts, most post 9-11 Americans just don’t care: it’s enough for them that Saddam was evil and that they are safe from his future menace (not to mention menace from those who took note of his destruction).

Perhaps most importantly for Dean’s political future, he showed real character problems during the most recent debates and campaign stops. Where instinctive (if undisciplined) politicians like Bill Clinton get clearer and sharper when someone attacks them (almost like they need a serious challenge in order to make it worth their effort), Dean became prickly and unfocused when Al Sharpton or Kerry really went after him. He acted like a patrician unused to being seriously challenged by anyone below him; after all, as governor and in the early presidential debates, he got used to dismissing, outmanuvering, or bullying relatively hapless opponents. And I’m not sure this problem can be fixed: like Al Gore, Dean’s not a Clinton: a kid from the streets who had to scratch and claw for everything he got even while learning to keep his cool doing it. As Gore found out, Dean’s kind of character flaw inevitably comes out when you go up against the big boys and everyone is watching closely.

We’re now heading to New Hampshire with four candidates: Kerry, Edwards, Dean, and Clark. Clark was going to be the un-Dean, but that may not be necessary anymore because if Dean doesn’t win or at least finish a very close second in New Hampshire, he could be finished in the South. If so, Clark’s appeal would dim even though he’s got all kinds of money. That could, perhaps, leave us with a three person race in South Carolina -- Edwards, Kerry, and Sharpton -- with Edwards and Kerry as the serious contenders to the end. The only sure bet is that Hillary is smiling right now.

On anti-Americanism & Le Carre

Geoffrey Wheatcroft begins and ends this op-ed on anti-Americanism with John Le Carre, who has a new novel out. Wheatcroft says (rightly) that Le Carre is a writer "who has enjoyed much success in America despite an aversion to American power dating from his earliest books, who has no very subtle political understanding, but who all too accurately voices the bitterness of national impotence and decline." A nice break from the Emacipation Proclamation.

Dean’s crisis

Both this Boston Globe article and this and Knight-Ridder report are useful in figuring out what happened to Dean. He has retooled his message and his delivery (and what he wears) a couple of times in the last few weeks. A clear sign that he is off balance. His yelling and shouting, not only at Bush and the war, but at the Democratic establishment (which includes candidates against him in the primary) was insufficient. Although it got him noticed, folks seemed to have realized that, somehow, this is not enough to get them to vote for him. Among other things, this indicates that the anti-war sentiment is much more mild than we have been led to think by the manner in which the press reported Dean’s harrangues against the war and Bush. The origin of his tactical mistake was (don’t laugh) getting Al Gore to endorse him. Gore was in the same take no prisoners, Bush is a vile man, etc. mode. Why was this supposed to be helpful? Did someone assume that the last Democratic candidate for president was much belowed by the people? Please. Did Dean’s people think that now that Gore has turned hard-left and anti-war (always anti-Bush, of course), his endorsement would be helpful? Oddly, the period of Dean’s demise will be circumscribed by two book-ends, the Gore endorsement and attending church with Jimmy Carter (another very popular Democrat!) on Sunday. Das ist alles! Gephardt will win in Iowa.

Neo-Cons (Not in charge after all)

"A cabal of neoconservatives has hijacked the Bush administration’s foreign policy and transformed the world’s sole superpower into a unilateral monster. Say what? In truth, stories about the “neocon” ascendancy—and the group’s insidious intent to wage preemptive wars across the globe—have been much exaggerated. And by telling such tall tales, critics have twisted the neocons’ identities and thinking on U.S. foreign policy into an unrecognizable caricature."

Max Boot thoughtfully examines the charges of a neo-con conspiracy in this article from the most recent Foreign Policy .

Darn, I thought the neo-cons were in charge.

Cheney’s Speech from Ashbrook Center on C-SPAN Radio

If you’ve not found it already, the Ashbrook Center’s web site contains an audio archive of over 175 speeches given at the Center during the past 20 years.

C-SPAN Radio will be airing the speech Dick Cheney gave at the Ashbrook Center in 1991 on Saturday, January 17 at 10:10 am ET and again at 10:00 pm ET. For our readers in the Washington area, C-SPAN Radio can be heard at 90.1 FM. It is also available nationwide via satellite radio - XM channel 132; Sirius stream 113. C-SPAN radio is also streamed online 24/7 at

No Left Turns Mug Drawing Winners for December

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

Rob Driscoll

Thomas Henry

Dyan Lattore

Diane Dubay

George Seidel

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 January’s drawing.

California Demos

The California Democratic Party starts its convention today. Things are a bit bleak for these guys. Note that Arnold is on the way toward messing with their minds, his approval arting is 59% while that of the Demo dominated legislature is 36% and Bush has an approval rating of 52% in the state, highest since 9/11, according to the Field Poll. Oh, oh. Jack Pitney says that the Demos haven’t figured out how to deal with this new model of the terminator! Notice how reasonable Gray Davis sounds after defeat (I’m serious); maybe Gore should take some lessons from Davis in civility, odd to say. Even given the weather, I think I’d rather be in Cleveland this weekend than San Jose. It’ll be bleak there.

Tuning out environmntal Gore

Here is a brief report on the speech in New York yesterday by Gore’s on the environment, the one which Gore called Bush a "moral coward." And here is Steve Hayward, who happens to know a lot about environmental issues (he is the author of The Index of Leading Environmetal Indicators), and who loves to beat up on Gore. Perfect combination. Steve says, "Earth to Gore: No one is listening!"  

Piling on O’Neill

The Kinsley column Steve links below is pretty good, but it raises a question that has been bothering me ever since O’Neill hit the morning-show circuit: What exactly does it mean to say that someone is "a blind man in a roomful of deaf people"? This Dan Henninger piece on OpinionJournal gives the answer: "The blind person wouldn’t recognize Mr.O’Neill, and the deaf people wouldn’t listen to him."

I have a strange interest in complicated insults. Like in The Iliad, when Achilles tells all the Greeks that King Agamemnon has the eyes of a dog and the heart of a deer. At first, it makes no sense, then you realize that Agamemnon must be pretty ugly, because it would be better to have the eyes of a deer than a dog, then you realize that Agamemnon must be pretty craven, because it would be better to have the heart of a dog than a deer, and so forth . . . . Anyway, Henninger’s insight about O’Neill’s phrase is just devastating. O’Neill heaped a complicated insult on himself.

Stick a Fork in O’Neill--He’s Done

Michael Kinsley’s column in today’s Washington Post shows why the O’Neill story is over and done with. The title alone conveys the point: "O’Neill’s Vanity Fare."

Clark agreeing with Perle

Drudge has a page or so on Clark that seems to be both extraordinary and damning to any kind of consistency. Should he become the Democratic candidate, these matters will count. Perhaps they will not in the primary, unless, of course, he wins in New Hampshire, then you can count on Dean going after his jugular. Apparently, Clark testified before the House Armed Services Committee on September 26, 2002. Here is a sample, Drudge has more:

"And, I want to underscore that I think the United States should not categorize this action as preemptive. Preemptive and that doctrine has nothing whatsoever to do with this problem. As Richard Perle so eloquently pointed out, this is a problem that’s longstanding. It’s been a decade in the making. It needs to be dealt with and the clock is ticking on this."

"I think there’s no question that, even though we may not have the evidence as Richard [Perle] says, that there have been such contacts [between Iraq and al Qaeda]. It’ s normal. It’s natural. These are a lot of bad actors in the same region together. They are going to bump into each other. They are going to exchange information. They’re going to feel each other out and see whether there are opportunities to cooperate. That’s inevitable in this region, and I think it’s clear that regardless of whether or not such evidence is produced of these connections that Saddam Hussein is a threat."

"I do believe in the sanctity of marriage, I totally do!"

These were the words recently uttered by rapidly fading pop queen Britney Spears in reference to her (very) brief marriage to a childhood friend.

Miss Spears also expressed surprise that the affair had garnered so much press attention. "We landed on Mars that day — why aren’t they talking about that?" she asked.

Calvin Coolidge’s depression?

Jack Beatty writes a review in The Atlantic about a new book on Coolidge by Robert Gilbert. It is, apparently, a study of Coolidge’s depression after the death of his son Calvin due to an infection he got on his toe while playing tennis at the White House. It is probable that Coolidge’s depression (and its effects, e.g., Mrs. Coolidge ran everything, etc.) are overstated (as well as the connection between it and the world-wide depression), yet, it is worth reading. But, to get a fuller impression of Coolidge, you have to read (aside from his terrific Autobiography!), first, Thomas Silver’s Coolidge and the Historians, and then Robert H. Ferrell’s The Presidency of Calvin Coolidge, and then Robert Sobel’s Coolidge: An America Dilemna. Here is a short piece I did on Coolidge a few years ago.

Dennis Miller

Dennis Miller is going to have his own talk show on CNBC. I am sure of two things: One, it will be worth watching, and two, the Liberals--who have been talking about having their own show--are going to be very angry by both what he says and how popular his show will turn out to be. This New York Times article is worth a read, if for no other reason than because it has some great lines from Miller. Note that it is entitled, "The Joke is on Liberals." An example from Miller:

"Did you see the Democratic debate the other night? To me Dennis Kucinich’s politics are more scrambled than Rod Steiger’s dream journal. And Clark? He’s a wizard in many ways, but when I hear him speak, it’s almost like he’s slumming. There’s a mensch discrepancy there. At least John Edwards, who to me is a reasonably shallow guy, at least he can dog-paddle around in that park and not look out of place."

This reminds me of a story Lincoln once told to a man who came to him complaining about the meanness of Secretary of War Stanton (he had apparently lost a political battle to Stanton, a not uncommon thing). Lincoln said that reminded him of a farmer who had a small dog but that dog always won all the dog fights he ever got into, even beating much larger dogs. One day an owner of one of the larger dogs in the county came to the owner and asked, how is it that your small dog whips every dog in the county? "That’s no mystery," said the farmer, "your dog and the other dogs get half through a fight before they get mad. My dog is always mad."

Iraq notes

You might remember that the actor Sean Penn
went to Iraq in December 2002 (before the war) and started pontificating about it all and was (surprise) anti-war. He has gone back and written this about his trip. It is by no means a full vindication of our actions, but he has clearly moved some from his original position. At least he sees the the Iraqis have tasted freedom, and they like it. It appears in the

San Francisco paper.

Slate features a conversation between liberals who are in favor of the war (Hitchens, Berman, Freidman, et al) that is kind of interesting. There will be other installments. Tom Ricks reports in the WaPo about the report by Jefferey Record study done for the Army War College about how the army is overstretched, and how the post-war planning in Iraq was bungled. Debatable, but worth reading.

Dean melting

Clark is surging in New Hampshire, according to the Boston Herald. This may explain why he’s spending more time than he should in New Hampshire (rather than Iowa), Knight-Ridder says that his New Hampshire lead is

And Clark is only three points behind Dean in Arizona, according to the Rocky Mountain Poll. For the life of me, I can’t understand why Dean thinks that a quasi-endorsement from Jimmy Carter (and a church trip this Sunday) will help him. The Gore curse is on. Drudge points out, appropriately enough, that Gore is to speak tomorrow in New York on global warming. It will be one of the coldest days in ten years.

Studying the tough languages

One of the reasons I took a job in U.S. Department of Education in the Reagan administration was because the job I wanted--so I thought--was an important one: it was to direct the international education programs which originally were established in 1958 under the National Defense Education Act. I thought that it was doing something quite important, and I wanted to be part of it. The office encouraged the study of uncommonly taught foreign languages (Hungarian, Russian, Arabic, Pashtu, etc.) and I thought this was a good thing. Studying foreign languages is good for individuals and encouraging the study of such uncommonly taught languages is clearly in the national interest. I used to think that then and I still think it now. As my students know, I continue to encourage the study of any and all languages and some of my worthy students spend their time studying everything from Arabic and Chinese to French. Apparently there is a bit of an issue brewing with regard to these programs which my old boss and predecessor in international education, Kenneth D. Whitehead has outlined on NRO. It is worth reading in full. I think he is right, the Senate should pass the bill (the House has already done so) and include in it the re-constitution of a board of experts who could help set standards and priorities for language study. After all, in this age, is not one of the great needs of the country the study of such difficult languages as Arabic? Everyone admits the need, and we should do it right.

Dean Wins D.C. (non-binding) Primary

This is a report of Howard Dean’s victory in the non-binding D.C. primary. Dean won 43%, Sharpton 34%, Mosley-Braun 12%, and Kucinich 8%. The other Democratic hopefuls sat out the primary.

Couric-O’Neill conversation

Kathryn Lopez at The Corner put the whole Couric-O’Neill conversation out. It is very much worth five minutes of your time. She calls it astounding.

New Jersey’s Fine Print

Here’s a report on what’s in New Jersey’s new stem-cell/cloning law, and the law’s fine print that the media has largely ignored. And here’s a decent analysis of the legislation and why it will lead to cloning, with links to the law’s text. What New Jersey has done really is quite lamentable.

Clark takes lead in Arizona

Wesley Clark , according to a News 4/Arizona Daily Star poll, now lead Dean 39-32%. A month ago, Dean led by two or three points. Clark continues to narrow the lead in New Hampshire. And Dean is, it seems to me, getting progressively more worried. He is now attacking his Demo rivals more explicitly, accpording to the Washington Post. This AP dispatch is even more explicit. I think he is about two weeks behind schedule; his attacks on Bush only can get him so far, and, clearly no farther.


George Soros is making the rounds again. He claims to be tauting his book, but he is spending all his time trying to beat up on Bush, and promoting Dean (or Clark or Kerry). I think Soros is a great political enemy to have: an arrogant left-winger, not very smart, loses his cool easily, etc. But, he’s got a lot of money and he’s using it. Pay attention to him, I think he is going to do a lot more than he has already done. Mischief, thou art afoot. Also in the New York Times

And Still MORE O’Neill Bashing

A review of George Soros’s book in Barron’s last week (not available online) began with a remark that applies to O’Neill as well as Soros. Journalists (and academics) are often taunted with the old saw, "If you’re so smart, how come you’re not rich?"

Well, Soros--and O’Neill--prove that the opposite is possible; you can be rich, but not smart.

More O’Neill Bashing

I wrote this about O’Neill in March, 2001:

"As is now widely known, Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill sent a memo to Bush calling for a presidential commission on global warming, and recommending a number of environmentalist alarmists to be members of the commission. Imagine the outcry from O’Neill if Energy Secretary Spence Abraham sent Bush a memo about tax and fiscal policy, and suggested Bush take advice from Gene Sperling or Robert Kuttner."

What a jerk.

Reagan Got It Right, as usual. . .

"Paul O’Neill is considered a menace by those who want to trim federal spending."

--Human Events, November 22, 1980, commenting on rumors that O’Neill was being considered for a senior post in the incoming Reagan administration.

Reagan read Human Events, and O’Neill stayed in the private sector, where he got CEO’s disease.

O’Neill’s Perfidy

I’m still steaming hot at Paul O’Neill, but while I cool off, everyone must see Scott Johnson’s devastating take-down of O’Neill on our sister blog, Powerline.   

Can we make Iraq more democratic?

George F. Will, writing an article beyond his usual op-eds (it’s about seven pages) in the latest issue of the City Journal, has trouble sleeping because Woodrow Wilson’s spirit still stalks the world. And that troubles his sleep. This article is worth reading slowly even though his style wants you to be quick about it, and you should not let him force you. Aside from the general argument which is very much worth considering, there are some wonderful stories and amusing lines; typical of Will. Here is a quick characterization: In the first part he beats up on Wilsonn in 1919, who insisted on dogmatically and imprudently wanting to "teach" everyone the meaning of self-determination. Second, Will blasts contemporary European elites for believing that "Europe’s nations are menaced by their own sovereignty." The EU elites want to establish a constitution of more than 400 articles (which Will richly mocks) that would put "as many important matters as possible beyond debate. Beyond the reach of majorities. Beyond democracy." Third, he reflects on the American Constitution and why it is good, as well as our political connection to the nation-state, or understanding of self-government (which he attributes to our cultural superiority) Fourth,(because of the the tension within point three) he chastizes both Bush and Blair for misunderstanding the important things (and even acting in a self contradictory way) and therefore saying they can build a nation out of Iraq. I am, no doubt, oversimplifying. Yet, it is something like that. Read the whole thing.

Do I agree with it? Not just so. But I do like its tone, its purpose, and almost everything he says. Yet, I would suggest that he does not quite understand the basis of our self-government and our constitutional habits. The emphasis he places on nation rather than state, and the lack of emphasis on the attempt our state (via the Constitution) to preserve natural rights is what is missing. Our constitutional goals are what’s important, and that is connected to our moral purpose, and our great virtue. What that has to do with Iraq is not irrelevant, but not the central point. Let’s try to establish something like a constitutional (i.e., limited) state there based on something that approximates the rule of law, for the purpose of something like self government, through the Iraqis consent. Tough work, that, and odds are that it will fail. Yet, some of it may take, and prudence dictates that we try it not only for the sake of the Iraqis, but because it will serve both some of our interests and not only move them toward better purposes. Read the Will piece with four good cups of Turkish coffee.    

Clark still rising

Zogby tracking Poll has Dean ahead by three points. Dean has gone up one in the last few days. Zogby has undecideds at 14%. I think its higher. Rassmussen reports that Clark has gained in their national poll. Dean is at 21%, the lowest point for him, while Clark has moved up to 17%. Edwards has moved into third with 9%. Also note this report claiming that the Clintons are saying to friends that this is the key moment for the Clark campaign. Bill is making phone calls on his behalf, and is raising money.

Washington’s beer

NPR reports that a brewer in Philadelphia makes the beer that both Washington and Jefferson liked. (I always thought Jefferson a wine man.) Even the recipe is given.

Food and racism

A policeman in London fell ill after eating some Sikh food provided by some temples. An officer explained this to his colleagues about to patrol the Sikh area in London, he is alleged to have said: "Their hygiene standards are not good as ours." Scotland Yard is investigating. It may be racism.

Our non-proliferation policy

Bill Safire considers why our all-out pre-emptive policy against terror (include Iraq in that) seems to be working. 

The Conspiracy of the Bushes

I guess Kevin Phillips needs to sell more books. He is peddling a new book that tries to prove that the Bush family for at least three generations have been in bed with various Arab tyrants. I guess you can always find a publisher for anything (when was the last time you read a good book published by Viking?), but why would the Los Angeles Times publish this poop? Never mind, I just figured it out.

Reserve and Guard units at a disadvantage in Iraq

The Houston Chronicle says that our reservists in Iraq are getting the short of the stick: "National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers are fighting alongside active-duty troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, but with Vietnam-era rifles, fewer bullet-proof vests, outdated radios and Humvees that lack armor plating, some officials said." There is more.

"Logistical ballet" in Iraq

Eric Schmitt goes over the great logistical move in and out of Iraq: "More than 240,000 soldiers and marines are to move into and out of Iraq from now to May, testing the military’s ability to handle a major logistical feat while battling the Iraqi insurgency. From remote camps in northern Iraq to the port here, this swapping of forces amounts to the United States military’s largest troop rotation since World War II."

Phil Carter has some good thoughts on the subject (his thoughts are longer than the NY Times article), with some good links. He notices, for example, that at the height of the move we may have 200,000 troops in Iraq at one time, because of overlap, rather than the 125,000 we have now. This may give us some opportunities in the Spring, but it is also full of dangers.   

Source of news, and bias

This Pew poll found that more and more people, especially the young, are turning away from television and newspapers and toward the internet for their news. One fifth of younger people consider the internet their best source of news. "The number of people who say the Internet is a top source of campaign news was 13 percent, double the number who said that at the same stage of the 2000 campaign." Also, "Nightly network news was named as a regular source of campaign news by 35 percent, down from 45 percent four years ago, and newspapers by 31 percent, down from 40 percent." And, "The public is increasingly concerned about bias in campaign coverage by the media generally. About the same number, 39 percent, say there is bias in campaign coverage as the number that says there is no bias, 38 percent. The number who feel coverage is biased has grown steadily since 1988, when 62 percent said coverage was not biased." This can’t be good news (and there is more in the AP story) to the establishment media.

The Black and Brown debate

I did not see the Demos "Black and Brown" debate last night (I am still working on this Guelzo review!), but I did see snippets of it on the news this morning. And from what I saw, I am pretty sure Andrew Sullivan’s opinion is worthy, and I quote it in full:

"I wonder what Mickey Kaus thought of the Democratic Iowa "Black and Brown" debate - in itself an example of the kind of special interest group pandering that has now returned to dominate the Democratic Party. There wasn’t a nano-second in which any candidate said anything to suggest that minorities can do anything to benefit themselves without more government help, more money and more white condescension. The crowd lapped it up. Joe Lieberman couldn’t even bring himself to oppose reparations. Not affirmative action. Reparations! You’ve come a long way, Joe. Long gone is the Clintonian art of giving a damn about race without resorting to paleo notions that all whites are at fault and all blacks are victims. In that kind of context, it’s no accident that Al Sharpton becomes the moral arbiter. His use of the race-card against Dean had me bolt upright, and was an indication of what could happen if Dean gets the nomination. There’s no guarantee that Sharpton will support the nominee, or won’t demand embarrassing, election-losing concessions from the platform if he does. He’ll also get a big speaking slot at the convention - or use the negotiations as more street theater. It truly is back to 1988 - as farce. But unlike 1988, the Democratic nominee will not be able to shun Sharpton. The Dems are now dependent on massive black support just to be competitive in many states - which gives Sharpton more leverage than even Jesse Jackson once had. One thing we have learned from this campaign is that the Clinton policy make-over of the Democrats now has only one standard-bearer: his wife. For the rest, it’s that ’70s Show, with post-industrial populism thrown in."

What Would Friedrich Do?

At last, here’s an editorial that addresses a question that’s been haunting all of us: What would F.A. von Hayek think about gay marriage?

General Ricardo Sanchez, American

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez is the subject of this New York Times piece. He is a very interesting guy, starting at the bottom--worked as a dry cleaners delivery boy at age six in Rio Grande City, Texas, where his grandfather first came across in the early 1900’s--and now is into his eighth month of commanding the 125,000 American troops in Iraq, as John F. Burns writes, "the most coveted and challenging field command for any American officer since the Vietnam War."

Sanchez states: "They don’t want us here, but they don’t want us to leave, either. That’s our dilemma; that’s the problem we have to solve." He further says this: "It’s about gaining and retaining the consent of the people." And then, "That’s what we’re here for, fighting a war, and building a nation." Then he makes sure that everyone understands what is needed for that: "I really believe that the only way we are going to lose here, is if we walk away from it like we did in Vietnam. If the political will fails, and the support of the American public fails, that’s the only way we can lose."

There’s more: "I guess I never realized then that I was that poor. Pretty well everybody else in the Hispanic community was on welfare, too. We just thought we were fortunate because we were in America." I guess that it is possible that some Liberal will soon call Sanchez a "house Mexican." (I hope not). This reminds me that in all the loud conversation about illegal immigration (which I oppose, of course) and the economics of the labor market, etc., perhaps more emphasis should be placed on helping those who are here become citizens. I don’t mean getting the necessary papers, I mean making citizens. Having a clear understanding of both the principles that bind us together and the practical goal of self-government that is deduced there from and which (as a friend once said) "creates the moral conditions of citizenship." Sanchez’s virtuous exertions prove that human beings who appreciate human excellence can become American citizens in this novus ordo seclorum. That is the basis of our prosperity and might and our virtue. Now let’s see if Sanchez can get the Iraqis to consent to that proposition.

Death of a soldier

Aaron A. Weaver died when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed last week in Iraq. He was, apparently, an exceptional soldier, having won the Bronze star for "extreme courage" in Mogadishu. He also had cancer, but insisted on being in Iraq. A sad tale and a good memory. I saw his mother interviewed on TV a few days ago and, through a river of tears, she asserted that her son would have wanted her to say upon his death that he did his duty for the country he loved. I was deeply moved. Let us hope that his wife and young children will summon up remembrance of good things past, and be able to, over time, talk of Aaron’s constancy and great heart and extreme courage, with true love. RIP.


This Iowa Poll shows Dean leading Gephardt by five points (23 to 18), with Kerry at 15%. Real Clear Politics has a nice chart, state by state, of not only the latest polls, but some going back to early November. If you scroll down please note the following. In the states where Dean is ahead (except Delaware-Lieberman, and Missouri-Gephardt, Connecticut-Lieberman) he is closely followed by Clark. (Ignore those states, e.g., North Carolina, Texas, where there are no recent polls reported.) Edwards seems to have moved up a few notches in Iowa and it is being reported by Adam Nagourney of the NYTimes that Edwards is taking points away from Gephardt. That seems to be the case. But also note that a Reuters/Zogby poll is reporting that Dean has only a two point lead over Gephardt, with only 14% undecided. The largest paper in endorses Edwards. Dan Balz’s account of Iowa in the WaPo. Dvaid Broder praises Iowans and the process there: uncynical and straightforward folks.

The wall between intelligence and law enforcement

Stewart Baker considers why the separation between intelligence and law enforcement is a bad thing. He’s worried. Very interesting and thoughtful.  

Paul Johnson on Europe

Paul Johnson, a historian whom I admire, considers the joint decision of the French and German governments to destroy the stability pact that underpins the common currency and says that this is the start of deep European problems that will not only destroy the Euro, but also make it impossible to establish a European super-state. The French and the Germans are to be blamed, and he is not surprised. He has some advice for the U.S. in this short but packed article.

The benign Putin

Paul Robinson argues that Vladimir Putin isn’t too bad, given Russia’s history. He concludes: "For all its dictatorial tendencies, the contemporary Russian state clearly exhibits some restraint. It does not seek to intervene in every aspect of its citizens’ lives, and Russia is a country where people can and do criticise the government without being molested. In many respects the government of Vladimir Putin is probably the most benign in Russian history. Like the Whites, Putin is no liberal democrat, but his promotion of state interests may well be the best hope for liberal democracy in Russia."

Samuel V. Wilson

This is a Knight-Ridder report on General Sam V. Wilson, the guy who invented the term "counterinsurgency", helped create the Delta Force, etc. He still teaches ethics. Good story.  

Russian high-tech help to Iraq

Evidence has been found that the Russians were indeed helping the Iraqis out with some high-tech military equipment, just as the administration maintained.

Modern Language Association meeting

The Boston Globe runs an article on the MLA convention that just took place in San Diego. This shouldn’t surprise anyone who is in the academy, yet it’s still sad to see. There are some very funny things that went on, Bush bashing, war bashing, "What does it mean, when imperialism comes wrapped in a black bow?" (i.e., Colin Powell) Etc.   

House slave, or is it "House Mexican"?

Rosario Marin, former Treasuer of the U.S., is in the GOP primary for the Senate seat in California. I don’t know much about her politics yet, or what her chances are, but what little I know about her is that she is a decent sort and a solid Republican. I’m watching FOX news last night (anything to get away from my duties of writing something sensible on the Emancipation Proclamation!) when I see the above cited report. A Hispanic supporter of Howard Dean called her a "house Mexican" who is not being true to her race! I saw the guy (his name is Steven Ybarra and he is a DNC official and head of "Latinos for Dean") on the tube and he was unrepentant. I couldn’t believe it and I looked for it to be mentioned on other news programs and, surprise, it was not. This is an outrage and good folks ought to be up in arms over it. The best that can be said about it is that she is now in the good company of Colin Powell, Condolizza Rice, and Clarence Thomas! But where is the outrage?

Here is the statement that Rosario Marin put out after Ybarra’s comment: "Apparently, according to Mr. Ybarra and many of his fellow Democrats, if you are not a liberal Democrat, then you shouldn’t be considered a legitimate minority. It doesn’t matter that I’m an immigrant, the daughter of a janitor and a seamstress, or that I had to teach myself English because my first language was Spanish." Just so. It is possible that liberals (and liberal Hispanics) are panicked given this California poll.  

Democracy in Iraq

Here is an optimistic essay (scholarly in form) by Adeed Dawisha, an Iraqi-born professor at Miami University (Ohio) on the prospects for "democracy" in Iraq. (thanks to Oxblog).

European Union

Marc F. Plattner has a lengthy piece on the European Union in the Journal of Democracy. Give that both Europe and the EU are boring, I guess that this essay is about as good as it can get.

US bases in the New Europe

We are negotiating with Poland on hosting US bases on its territory. This is part of a broder effort on our part: "The United States began a diplomatic offensive last month in a dozen European capitals to discuss a redeployment strategy expected to involve closing bases in western Europe and reflect a greater NATO focus on the east and south."

Saddam as a POW

Saddam n ow has POW status. I don’t think this means anything large. In fact, the status can be changed--as far as I can tell--at virtually any time, especially if he had anything to do with the post-war insurgency movement. I also do not think this prevents us from handing him back to the Iraqis for trial. Phil Carter’s essay on what the trial might look-like (he wrote it in December, just after Saddam was caught).

A million species to become extinct!

Ian Murray considers the reports that by the year 2050 over a million species will be doomed to extinction owing to the effects of global warming. It shouldn’t surprise you what he thinks of it: it’s alarmist hyperbole. He mentions this New York Times article notes the limitations of the study, which the Washington Post report does not.


Wesley Clark has said that under his administration there would not be another terrorist attack, or at least not another 9/11-like attack. I find this amazing. "Wesley Clark said yesterday the two greatest lies of the last three years are that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks couldn’t have been prevented and that another attack is inevitable.

He said a Clark administration would protect America in the future.

’If I’m president of the United States, I’m going to take care of the American people,’ Clark said in a meeting with the Monitor editorial board. ’We are not going to have one of these incidents.’"

If the General would elaborate and show a deeper understanding that, as John Ellis argues, this is election will reflect the motto, "It’s the war on terror, stupid," than that would be fine and we could have a real election. But the above comments by Clark just reflect a loose mouth not attached to anything real.

Rich Lowry is up in New Hamshire following Clark around. He also thinks that Clark is being well received and is picking up steam. Jay Nordlinger also notes some of Clark’s outrageous statements that are not given (yet) much notice.

Dean dropping

I note John’s post below that Dean will not be the nominee. I think he is probably right; I have been pushing myself toward this position for days, as you know. More ammunition for this position: ARG tracking poll says Clark continues to gain in New Hampshire (another two points since yesterday). L.A. Times says that Clark has the momentum, and the other candidates know it. That explains yesterday’s NY Times artcile about Dean having to watch his words now. Mickey Kaus has a few nice paragraphs on Dean and ends by saying this: "Dean’s certainly comfortable as a moderate--check out his old pundit tapes. His dilemma--the real Dean Dilemma, it seems to me--is that unless he keeps popping off, unless he maintains the mischievous posture of slightly irresponsible anger, when he moves to the center he threatens to bore everyone to death." On the other hand, the AP reports Senator Tom Harkin just endorsed Dean.

Having said all that, I don’t think anyone else but Clark is possible. John’s right that there is a remote possibility that it will have to be decided at the convention, but that means that 1) Clark will have to self-destruct, along with Dean and 2) Gephardt would have to win Iowa first and then come in at least third in New Hampshire and win in South Carolina. Although then he would have a chance, I don’t think he could carry it out in the end; then the convention choosing would be possible. But then it would be a brand new ball game, and Hillary would become the nominee (and she would have to be forced into it), probably with Clark as a runningmate. None of the other candidates have a chance, although I hear that the Kerry people are claiming that there will be a surge for him. I don’t believe it. This Austin Bay essay on the Mad How, not Cow, but, How, as in Howard Dean, disease in the Democratic Party is pretty good.

Prediction for 2004

It’s been a couple of weeks since Peter first asked us to make our predictions for this year. I just have one, and I’m going out on a limb for it. Howard Dean will not be the Democratic Party’s nominee for president. I’m not sure who will be--probably Clark or Gephardt--but Dean isn’t going to be it.

Consider Dean’s poll numbers. True, they’re impressive for a northeastern liberal who was virtually unknown a year ago. But they’ve hardly moved at all in weeks. This suggests that Dean has already attracted all the support that he’s going to get, and it’s no more than a third of likely primary voters. As the primaries move closer, almost all of those undecided voters will end up going to Clark, Gephardt, Kerry, or Lieberman. Moreover, as the second-tier candidates drop out, their supporters aren’t likely to turn to Dean (except perhaps both of Dennis Kucinich’s).

The only question is when it’ll all be over. There may be some surprises in Iowa and New Hampshire, but if not the issue may not be settled until the national convention this summer--the first time since the 1950s, I believe, that this will have been the case.

WMD’s and Portugal’s PM

Portugal’s PM said this about WMD’s in Iraq (thanks Instapundit):"Former US president Bill Clinton said in October during a visit to Portugal that he was convinced Iraq had weapons of mass destruction up until the fall of Saddam Hussein, Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso said.

’When Clinton was here recently he told me he was absolutely convinced, given his years in the White House and the access to privileged information which he had, that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction until the end of the Saddam regime,’ he said in an interview with Portuguese cable news channel SIC Noticias."

Glenn Reynolds adds the following: "This is consistent with the other Clinton statements on the subject, of course, going back to 1998. And this doesn’t answer the "where are they?" question. (Syria? Lebanon? Vaporware by Saddam’s scientists?) But this does blow the popular Bush-made-it-up theory, and it suggests that if there’s an intelligence failure here (certainly possible -- the CIA famously blew the collapse of the Soviet Union, after all), it didn’t originate with the Bush Administration."

New Homeowner Policy?

Courtesy of Newsweek:

"The people have spoken ... the bastards."

British M.P. Stephen Pound, on agreeing to try to enact whatever piece of legislation would be voted most popular on a BBC radio station.

The winning entry: allows householders to legally kill intruders.

Lincoln revisionism

Thomas Hibbs and his three children visited Ford’s Theatre and discovered that--according to the guide--the good guy was the bad guy and the bad guy becomes the good guy. This is vulgar revisionist history, it is awful, and Hibbs is not amused. I’m mortified. Hibbs (philosophy, Boston College) is a thoughtful fellow. Click on his name for his web site.

In Secularism We Trust?

Turned off by Howard Dean’s late overtures to religiously-minded voters, Susan Jacoby complains in today’s New York Times that America needs a new history read as one shaped principally by "the secular convictions of the founders." In "One Nation, Under Secularism", exemplars for her revisionist project are none other than that dynamically secular duo of--drum roll, please--Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.

As if that weren’t enough, she goes on to argue for "the secularist contribution to later social reform movements" like abolitionism and even the modern Civil Rights Movement! For those interested in this debate over religion’s influence upon or interference with politics, read her article for an instructive lesson on how not to understand American history, from which I cull her closing paragraph:

Today, many voters, of many religious beliefs, might well be receptive to a candidate who forthrightly declares that his vision of social justice will be determined by the "plain, physical facts of the case" on humanity’s [NB: not "God’s"] green and fragile earth. But that would take an inspirational leader who glories in the nation’s secular heritage and is not afraid to say so.

No to Pete Rose

George Will has no compassion for Pete Rose. It’s not just the numbers, baseball--and sports generally--have to do with character and the two should be connected, indeed they are connected. Rose shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame.

"Rose’s coming clean is the most soiled conversion of convenience since . . . well, Aug. 17, 1998, when DNA evidence caused Bill Clinton to undergo a memory clarification. On the diamond, no one ever wrung more success from less natural talent than Rose did. But his second autobiography, which refutes the first, makes worse the mess he has made."

Bush’s immigration proposal, again

Let me add David Frum’s opinions on Bush’s proposal. Thoughtful and a bit more detailed than most immediate impressions. It is half-way down.

Bush’s immigration proposal

Here President Bush’s speech on the temporary worker program. Some comments on the plan, from many perspectives: John Podhoretz, James Pinkerton, Ruben Navarrette, Washington Times editorial, and Washington Post editorial. I have not had time to focus on this, but I will. For now let me just say that as a serious substantive matter (ignoring its political effects) it is not crazy and my immediate opinion (without deep thinking) is favorable. This proposal is not off the wall, or crazy. And it most certainly will lead to some good conversations about this very big issue of illegal immigration, one in which I am perfectly willing to participate, but later. For the moment I’m trying to figure out the Emancipation Proclamation and its effects; another interesting problem having to do with citizenship.

Howard Dean, Theologian

The Washington Post reports this morning that Howard Dean was swayed by his religion to approve the gay civil unions bill in Vermont: Dean Says Faith Swayed Decision on Gay Unions. "From a religious point of view," Dean said, "if God had thought homosexuality is a sin, he would not have created gay people."

Now this ought to play well in the South. But at least he’s locked up the Unitarian vote.

Bush’s numbers

It has been pointed out to me that in the Gallup poll I cited earlier today regarding Clark, I neglected to mention that it was also reported that Bush also got very good numbers. True. Sorry. "Overall, 60% of those surveyed Friday through Monday approve of the job Bush is doing. And 55% say they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country, the highest level in nearly nine months.

In the poll, Bush beat Dean by 22 percentage points among likely voters. Against an unnamed Democrat, Bush won by 17 percentage points." Here is the
CNN story on the poll.

Wesley Clark, moving up

American Research Group tracking poll shows that Clark has moved into second place in New Hampshire, dropping Kerry to third, and Dean’s lead has dropped by a few points. I am not saying that anything important is happening just yet, although I would keep my eye on things. Two things to watch for: First, as it becomes clearer that the main competition for Dean is Clark, watch the not yet commited Demo voters (about a third or more) to start shifting mostly to Dean or Clark. I am betting that most will shift toward Clark. Second, as it become clear (after Iowa, but especially after New Hampshire) that it has to be a two man race, watch for the supporters of Libermann, et al, to shift to the two front runners. I am betting that most of these voters will shift toward Clark. The only thing to effect this would be if Gephardt takes Iowa, which is still possible. But if that happens than the anti-Dean movement in New Hampshire will shift toward Clark (oddly) rather than Gephardt. David Broder implies that the longer the race is the more likely it is that Dean will lose. It’s not clear that the nomination will come before detonation.

Iraq and the war on terror

Andrew Busch notes that Dean (and others) are misguided when they assume that there is no connection between the war on terror and the war in Iraq. The Washington Post has a lengthy review of the status of the WMD search in Iraq. It is full of information; not much clarity, yet.

Cold Mountain

Mac Owens says that Cold Mountain is a good movie and is a kind of anti-God and Generals. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but Mac’s essay is good and I will.  

Colons and disfluencies

Colons are bad, according to many, especially in book titles. Example: Lincoln: A Life. Well, I’m not so sure I am against colons as a matter of principle. One of the first interesting political scientists I ever read as an undergraduate was Wilmoore Kendall. And one of the reasons I started taking him seriously is because (as I recollect) he loved colons. "Now listen to me: Locke’s relationship to the American founding is this." (I’m paraphrasing) This got my attention. This was much better than the typical dry-as-dust academic writing that we were forced to read for classes. And then he would say things like this: self-government includes "feeling with your hips" and "thinking on your feet." This article considers disfluencies is speech. I want to say, ah, um, you know....Some interesting facts are noted (there are specialists who spend their whole life studying this, ah, stuff!), including how frequently it occurs in English speech (circa every 4.4 seconds) and why it is that social scientists and those in the humanities say, uh, um, etc. more often than those in the sciences.

Schwarzenegger’s speech

Here is Schwarzenegger’s State of the State speech. And this isDaniel Weintraub’s long comment on it. This is Ken Masugi’s shorter comment, which I quote in full: "The Governor blended Progressive measures such as the referendum in March with the political need to blame the Democrats for raising spending and eventually make them pay for it. In this way, his administration will be a fascinating exercise in using (or threatening) Progressive means to curb the worst excesses of left-liberal politics. His ’empire of aspirations’ slogan is completely open-ended and susceptible of interpretation according to everyone’s wishes-- which is why it is a great political slogan.

But I preferred the punch of ’I don’t want to move boxes around; I want to blow them up.’ Good action hero dialogue."

Concealed Compromise

The Ohio legislature has apparently struck a compromise with Governor Taft to avoid a veto of a new concealed carry firearms bill. Under the new regs, Ohioans could legally carry handguns in purses, pockets, and hidden holsters after submitting to background checks, training seminars, and permit requirements. The committees meet today to discuss it, then the Senate is to vote on it by day’s end. Oh yeah, and journalists would have access to the list of all who are licensed to carry. Sound good to you?

Howard Dean and the Demos

Mark Singer writes a very interesting profile of Dean in the New Yorker. There are many details from his life that are revealing. He is a man of the New Left, his political disposition is formed by people and the era that came to mistrust the US, not only in its policies and leaders, but, somehow, even, its core. On the other hand, you can see how he is--unlike most politicians--kind of appealing because of his apparent forthrightness or, at least his willingness, nay, even inclination, to be loose and unstructured. And this mode of his has to do with his understanding that the Democratic Party is too willing to say and do anything just to win. He thinks that there are consequences to that kind of politics that are bad for both the party and the country. I agree with him on that. You can see why the Clintonistas don’t like him. Yet, somehow, it’s not very clear what he does believe in, save a kind of willfulness about his own opinions on top of an interesting diagnosis of what the problem is with the Demos. But I may not be giving him enough credit. It is not impossible that--should he win the nomination--he may well be instrumental in moving the party toward his kind of Liberalism (whatever that actually turns out to be) and doing it so persuasively that, even if he loses big, Hillary might have a much harder time taking over the party than I have thought heretofore. There is something Carter-like his character and method. Do note that Gallup Poll is reporting that Dean has dropped in the national poll that the 21-point lead Dean held over Clark less than a month ago has narrowed to just 4 percentage points, within the poll’s margin of error. Clark is rising. Also, do pay attention to new polls out of Iowa (they’re not out yet); I am betting that Gephardt will be moving up. The rubber is about to hit the road.

Here’s a Really Bad Idea

Headline on page one of today’s Wall Street Journal (not avilable online):

"State-Run Oil Company Is Being Weighed for Iraq."

Great: Let’s use the Mexican model--Pemex-- for Iraq. What the hell: why not have the Post Office run their oil industry.

Did She Really Have the Winning Ticket?

As this article at the Smoking Gun points out, the woman who claimed to have lost her winning lottery ticket has a few ill-concealed skeletons in her closet--namely a record of repeated arrests going back ten years.

When she went to cops with her tale of the lost lottery ticket, officers asked Dickson how she picked the six winning numbers. A couple of the numbers came from one son’s birth date, while another number was her son’s age flipped. As for why she picked the winning number 49, Dickson told cops that her "husband turns 49 this year." That came as a surprise to Keith Dickson, himself a dedicated gambler and lottery player. "I’m 44," he said. "I turn 45 in February."

More on the Brave New Jersey

Here is NRO’s Kathryn Jean Lopez on New Jersey’s pro-cloning legislation. A decent, quick read. Of particular interest is her quote from Princeton’s Robert P. George who points out that the bill allows for cloning human embryos so long as they are destroyed before birth, leading him to ask (quoting from the piece):

[W]hat if a gestating woman has second thoughts and decides not to abort the developing fetus? Would a court be asked to enforce a contract for abortion? We hope and trust that no court would do that. But then we would have what the sponsors of the legislation say they oppose: the birth of human clones.

Yes, New Jersey, what about that?

That’s the Spirit

Spirit, NASA’s Mars rover, has sent back some early and triumphantly clear pictures from the Red Planet, shown here with the Fox News story on the on-going NASA success. Bravo, Houston!

Texas redistricting

Here is the Dallas Morning News article on the Fed court upholding the GOP redistricting plan in Texas. This means that the Republicans are likely to gain seven seats, according to those who follow these matters. Huge. I guess it’s still possible that it will be appealed to the Supremes. I also wouldn’t be surprised if a few more Demos in Texas followed in Ralph Hall’s footsteps. Here is the decision. You can look at the current House districts and the one that will be used for 2004, by clicking here.

Afghan Constitution

Afghanistan has a new constitution. The Christian Science Monitor editorializes that this is a victory for the Bush Doctrine. Even Kofi Annan describes it as a historic achievement. Here is the Washington Post account of it from yesterday. I haven’t seen the final version, but from what I can tell from the reports, it should do. Karzai got most everything he wanted, including a strong executive. The good news is that men and women will be treated equally, albeit they may have to stay sober.

Defense Language Institute

This is a news article out of Moterrey about the Defense Language Institute. Rumor has it that it’s going to be closed down (not true). Rob Booth at Reductio ad Absurdum has a few clear thoughts on the matter. I only visited the place once about twenty years ago, and was impressed by the quality of the students and good and relatively quick fluency they got (Hungarian is what I could judge) in the languages they studied. We should probably have a half dozen such places for our military. Here is the DLI site.

Leon Kass on Biotech

Here is a Christian Science Monitor interview with Leon Kass, head of the President’s Council on Bioethics, discussing biotechnology and its moral and cultural implications. Worth a look.

Lost and Found

The missing Mega Millions ticket has been found -- and not by me. No word yet on who the holder is, but the lotto commission says it treats the tickets "like cash," so who ever holds the winning ticket is considered the winner, regardless of who may have actually bought the ticket. But this could get interesting.

Fox beating CNN, still

Fox News continues to do much better than CNN, with CNBC a distant third. Fox has been leading CNN for two years, and it continues to pull in more viewers. "Fox averaged 1.02 million viewers at any given moment, a 53 percent increase from the year before. CNN averaged 665,000, a 24 percent increase." Fox also grew more than CNN in prime time, and among the coveted 25-54 yearl-olds.

The Left and Cuba

Here is Arthur Miller writing an apologia of Castro in The Nation. Andrew Sullivan has a wonderful paragraph on it and its meaning, and I quote it in full:

"When you read a piece like this one by Arthur Miller, you realize that for a certain generation, there’s no chance that they will ever get their heads around the horrors of communism. Here’s Miller, dining with a murderer, thug and dictator, and finding some elegant way to remain committed to liberal principles. He can relay Castro’s obvious megalomania; he can see his monstrous narcissism; but he still hangs in there, blaming the embargo for almost everything, mainly concerned that he’s being kept up past his bedtime. He still longs for a world in which Castro might have succeeded, a world which cannot exist, and which never existed - except in the minds of aging Nation-readers. There is, I think, no chance of persuading this generation. They are lost. But eventually they will die off, and a new realism can take hold. Tick-tock."

Finders Keepers?

The woman who claims to have picked the winning Mega Millions lottery numbers worth $162 million has filed police reports claiming that she lost the ticket within two blocks of the Quik-Shop where she bought it. Seems her purse fell while she was pumping gas. If true (and the police believe her), this means there’s $162 million out there in the snow less than a mile from my house. Yet here I sit. Are the odds of finding it any better than the 134,000,000 to 1 odds of winning it?

Economic Points

The NYT’s Paul Krugman, whose knickers are permanently twisted, attempts to play ventriloquist today with Paul Rubin, worrying about the U.S. budget and trade deficit.

For a sober alternative, see the work of my AEI colleague John Makin, whose monthly Economic Outlook is must reading. (Makin calls the macro shots for some very successful hedge funds.)

Money quote: "The loudest cries of criticism have been reserved for the sharp transition from a U.S. budget surplus of over $200 billion in the 2000 fiscal year to a $380 billion deficit in 2003. Conservatives and liberals alike are already decrying an expected budget deficit of $500 billion in the current fiscal year. Criticism of rising budget deficits, an old habit among would-be policy wonks trying to sound profound and prudent, is just silly at this point. It would be like criticizing firefighters for pumping half the water out of a pond to put out a fire. Sure, there is less water in reserve for another fire, but why have the water there in the first place if you don’t intend to use it to put out fires? Going from a budget surplus of 2 percent of GDP to a deficit, still below 4 percent of GDP, is appropriate in an economy with excess capacity, especially when much of the swing comes from two rounds of demand-boosting tax cuts that simultaneously improve resource allocation."

Read the whole thing, and you’ll see why Makin thinks things right now are "As Good as It Gets."    

Lincoln and the hen

Abe and his son would visit this candy store on New York Ave, from time to time, according to the Washington Times. (Thanks to Ken Masugi). I am still working on Lincoln and came across this last night: As you know, Abe had nothing but trouble with his generals. The story is told that when Joseph Hooker became commander of the Army of the Potomac, Lincoln visited him. Hooker told Abe that he had built the "finest army on the planet" and he hoped that God would have mercy on Bobby Lee became he, Joe Hooker, would have none. Lincoln listened and then said that the "hen is the wisest of all the animal creation, because she never cackles until the egg is laid." Nice.

A Symptom of the Problem

Got my latest University of Chicago Press book catalogue for political science in the mail yesterday. One offering is Muhsin Mahdi’s good book, Alfarabi and the Foundation of Islamic Political Philosophy.

In the small print, however, the catalogue informs us: "Not for sale in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan."


Mac Owens reflects on Rumsfeld’s work at Defense, via Midge Decter’s biography. Certainly, Rummy’s one of the more interesting defense chiefs, ever. A good read. But also see this useful and critical Washington Post story on the disagreements between Rumsfeld and some military and intelligence officials about how to conduct the war against terrorists. This includes, but is not restrcited to, whether to use Special Mission Units or Green Berets. It seems that Rummy has moved to favoring more direct action strikes, rather than working with insurgents, a more indirect approach. Is counterinsurgency better than assasination and snatches? A useful article. The common sense answer is that both are needed, depending on circumstances. The trouble is that the development of a "hearts and minds" mode (counterinsurgency) takes time to develop. That time should be taken, of course. Yet, I think that if the right doors are kicked down at the right time in the right way, that could also be useful. Ponder it.

Paying Respects for the Fallen

I had seen the story some time ago of Vicki Pierce, who went to a small town in Texas for the funeral of her nephew, James Kiehl. James was killed in action after his convoy was ambushed in Iraq on March 23, 2003. The memorial service at the small Baptist Church was enormous for the small town, with 1,000 people filling the church and spilling into the parking lot. But it was the trip to the cemetary from the church that was truly amazing. You should see the photos for yourself.

Predictions for 2004

My predictions for 2004.

1. Brittany Spears will not be married again in 2004.
2. It will be (finally) discovered that Michael Jackson is not running on all cylinders.
3. Gephard will win in Iowa.
4. Bush will carry Pennsylvania, Florida, New Mexico, Iowa, and Oregon in November.
5. One way or the other Wesley Clark will be on the Democratic ticket.
6. Dick Cheney will not (I regret) be on the GOP ticket.
7. Bush will win the election by between 8 and 15 points, if Dean is the nominee.
8. The GOP will have a net gain of five Senate seats, and eight House seats, if Dean is the nominee.
9. The Cleveland Indians and the Browns will do very well, but not as well as the Cavaliers.
10. Something interesting and surprising having to do with either carbon and/or water will be found on Mars.
11. Steve Hayward will finish another book.
12. De-stabilization will pick up speed in Saudi Arabia and Iran.
13. India will continue to prosper and will become an even closer ally of the U.S.
14. Poland will continue to position itself as spokesman for the New Europe.
15. Benjamin Netanyahu will become PM of Israel.
16. Bin Laden will be captured.

It’s Hard Being Stupid

Here’s a nice piece by Suzanne Fields in the WaTimes on the left’s demonization of Western Civilization and their need to blame someone else for all of life’s down-turns. "The ’enlightened’ of our present day interpret almost everything that the United States does — even when such things are clearly in their interest — as nasty, selfish and malevolent." Reminds me a bit of Thomas Sowell’s Vision of the Anointed.

New Year, New Party

Congressman Ralph Hall joined the Republican ranks on Friday, becoming the first Democrat to switch sides in the new year. A member of the House since 1980, Mr. Hall was welcomed into the party with "open arms."

New Jersey’s Brave New World

New Jersey appears ready to become the second state to allow stem cell research which many fear will lead to experimental human cloning. The NJ legislature passed a bill in mid-December paving the way for human stem cell research, and the gov’nor has promised to sign it soon. The Family Research Council has called it a "clone-to-kill" measure, arguing that "[t]he new law would authorize New Jersey’s large biotech industry to actually clone a human embryo, implant that embryo into a woman’s womb, develop the embryo to the fetal stage and then kill it for ’research purposes.’" This is not good news.


John Fund says that the Demos plan to settle on an early nominee--thanks especially to Carville and McAuliffe--may have the unintended consequnce of turning Dean (if he should prove to be the nominee) into a pinata for Republicans during the long campaign. Bill Kristol argues that although it may be a good thing for the public to have a real choice in the campaign between Bush and Dean the GOP shouldn’t count their chickens just yet. A lot can happen in ten months. Howard Dean graces the cover of both Time and Newsweek. Marjorie Williams thinks she knows why she feels uneasy about Dean: He’s a Doctor. "But suddenly it all makes sense: Where else but in medicine do you find men and women who never admit a mistake? Who talk more than they listen, and feel entitled to withhold crucial information? Whose lack of tact in matters of life and death might disqualify them for any other field?" Here is the Washington Post’s report on yesterday’s debate. Here is the Des MoinesRegister report on the non-event. I forced myself a bit of the debate and conclude that Wesley Clark was the winner (he did not participate). Rassmussen reports that Dean’s lead nationally has slipped four points during the last month and Kerry went up by four.