Benjamin Schwarz, the national editor of The Atlantic Monthly, writes an extremely interesting review of the recent revised history of the Eastern Fron of World War II. The revisions are made possible because of the new material from Russian archives. He gives you the details. It turns out that the Russians did better than we have thought (since we had been relying on mostly German sources). It is amazing to note that circa 80 percent of all German military casualties in the war were on the Eastern Front. He says that "The four-year conflict between the Wehrmacht and the Red Army remains the largest and possibly the most ferocious ever fought. The armies struggled over vast territory. The front extended 1,900 miles (greater than the distance from the northern border of Maine to the southern tip of Florida), and German troops advanced over 1,000 miles into Soviet territory (equivalent to the distance from the East Coast to Topeka, Kan.). And they clashed in a seemingly unrelenting series of military operations of unparalleled scale; the battle of Kursk alone, for instance, involved 3.5 million men." Thanks to Powerline.
The Middle East Media Research Institute has an extensive and detailed study of the January 25 revelation by the Iraqi paper Al-Mada of those individuals and entities who were beneficiaries of Saddams oil vouchers. There is a scandal of vast dimensions brewing and this is a helpful document; it also includes (with citations) the denials by some who have been implicated. Full of very interesting information. Worth keeping.
David Brooks, once again, has a smart column. Read it and you will understand one of the reasons why Lincoln and others did not campaign when they ran for president.
Speaking of South Dakota, John Derbyshire at The Corner brought Badger Clark, a poet from South Dakota, to my attention.
"Reader Jon Schaff tells me a thing I did not know, am ashamed not to have known, and am now glad to have been told: ’Mr. Derbyshire--I don’t know if you are aware, but the Bob Dylan song you referenced in today’s fantastic column is actually a cowboy poem by one Charles Badger Clark, the first poet laureate of the great state of South Dakota. The poem was called "A Border Affair," but when set to music it has been called "Spanish is the Loving Tongue" after its first line. I have seen and heard many versions of this poem, but below you’ll find a version culled from this website: I also recommend his poem "Bad Half Hour."’
I’ve always liked that Dylan song much more than I like Dylan songs in general. Now I know why: The words were written by a good poet. I really like Clark’s stuff. Look at the last stanza of ’The Job.’ Sure, he’s not Keats; but this is better than 90 percent of the stuff that gets published as poetry nowadays."
The fact that Tom Daschle is praising Bushs Iraq policy is a sign that he is in a tough election. The folks in South Dakota clearly like Bush; Daschle is in trouble.
This Pew Poll says that Bush’s job approval rating is down to 48%. His personal popularity rating was 73% after the fall of Baghdad. It is now 53%.
Also note that more and more people polled are using the word "liar" to describe him. Although I do not see this as standing for long, it is of concern because--in the end--his re-election will be based on trust. Once Bush gets into the game (and I am not yet arguing that he should; he should wait) these numbers will change, to his advantage. And, of course, the numbers will be moved by events in Iraq and elsewhere. We should be prepared to be surprised. Also note the good news the poll has for Kerry (for now). He is described as "honest."
"A dark, unseen energy permeating space is pushing the universe apart just as Einstein predicted it could in 1917, according to striking new measurements of distant exploding stars by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope.
The energy, whose source remains unknown, was named the cosmological constant by Einstein. In a prediction he later called my greatest blunder, but which received its most stringent test ever with the new measurements, Einstein posited a kind of antigravity force pushing galaxies apart with a strength that did not change over billions of years of cosmic history."
Hugh Hewitt is offering John Edwards his radio show to co-host for one day or all days between now and the primary election on super Tuesday. Given that Hewitt is all over California Edwards should take him up on it. Hugh hasnt yet heard from the campaign staff. Odd.
Naomi Wolf is accusing Yale professor Harold Bloom of sexual harrasment. It was supposed to have occured twenty years ago. You may remember Wolf. She is the feminist author who advised Al Gore in 2000 to wear "earth tones," and made about fifteen grand per month for such advice. You might be interested in Camille Paglias comments near the end of the piece.
There are too many polls out there, and they are all over the map. In some Bush is ahead, and in some he is behind. None of these mean anything yet, in my opinion. Besides, if I were Bush I would want to be behind in February. But this Zogby poll is a bit more interesting than the norm because Zogby is a bit more accurate than the others, and because of the way he divided it, red and blue states. Note this:
" A new poll conducted by Zogby International for The O’Leary Report and Southern Methodist University’s John Tower Center from February 12-15, 2004 of 1,209 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points found that if the election for president were held today, Democrat John Kerry would edge George W. Bush 46% to 45% in the “blue states” – or states won by Al Gore in the 2000 election. In the “red states,” or states won by George W. Bush in 2000, however, Bush wins handily by a 51% to 39% margin."
Ian Murray sees no need for "universal health care." Indeed, he thinks its a terrible idea.
Peggy Noonan, who has recently been critical of the President for some of his inferior performances on the air, recently met with him with a dozen or so people. These reflections make clear what is good about the man, and why it is that he is a good president, and why he is unlikely to lose the election.
I know that you will not be shocked to discover that most campuses are left-wing. This article goes a long way toward explaining it.
Noam Scheiber reflects on the Wisconsin vote and points out that the more discerning voters went for Edwards and the less educated, blue collar voters (perhaps oddly given Kerrys elitist liberal background) voted for Kerry and thinks this is bad news for Kerry. Michael Barones take on the Wisconsin outcome notes that the race is not yet over. Edwards still has a chance to beat Kerry, and super Tuesday is the time to do it. Hugh Hewitt has a few words to say about Kerrys anti-war activity in the 1970s, and he does not think it will prove to be to his advantage. Good read. Also note this
testimony (PDF file) of John Kerrys in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971. It is not only revealing about Kerry, but reminds us what Senators Fulbright, Aiken, Pell, et al, were like, and reminds me why I did not like them at the time.
James Taranto reports from OpinionJournal.com that Tom Hayden is happy with the direction of American Politics in this election cycle.
BY JAMES TARANTO
Wednesday, February 18, 2004 3:11 p.m. EST
The Spirit of 72
Tom Hayden, the 64-year-old erstwhile student protester, California state senator and Jane Fonda husband, is happy with the direction the Democratic Party has taken this year. "The Democratic presidential candidates have adopted the broad goals of the peace and justice movements, becoming anti-war and pro-fair trade in the course of the primaries," he writes at AlterNet.org:
American politics is being realigned swiftly and unexpectedly in a progressive direction. On war and peace, jobs and trade, civil rights and civil liberties, and the environment, the Democratic Party is being shaped by its own insurgent constituencies on the ground than by its internal leadership, consultants and pollsters, fundraising professionals, revolving-door law firms and their clientele. Such a realignment was envisioned in the Port Huron Statement of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) when human hope was in the air 40 years ago. The early SDS strategy was that independent social movements (civil rights, students, peace and labor) could shape a progressive political majority, force white Southern conservatives from the party, and spark a new governing coalition in the tradition of the New Deal. Assassinations and the war in Vietnam ended those hopes. But now the same fault lines have appeared in American democracy once again, and those whose ideals were forged in the 1960s may have one last chance to, so to speak, accomplish their mission.
Taranto concludes: If Hayden is right, this bodes ill for the Dems. The last time they unreservedly embraced the "ideals" of the 1960s was in 1972, when they nominated George McGovern, he of acid, amnesty and abortion. McGovern managed 37.5% of the popular vote and carried Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, and he was running against an unpopular war.
Good to see not one but two Wall St. Journal articles on the recent flap over outsourcing occasioned by White House economist Gregory Mankiw’s statement that outsourcing jobs overseas was simply a form of trade that actually benefits the U.S. economy. How? By making domestic production more efficient in the short haul and raising the standard of living in the not so long haul. Both Alan Murray’s article,
"Bush Economist Performs Bellyflop Into Outsourcing" (2/17/04),
and HP President Carly Fiorina’s op-ed, "Be Creative, Not Protectionist" (2/13/04) put "productivity" into the current debate over how best to create jobs in America.
I especially liked Fiorina’s provocative statement last month that "There is no job that is America’s God-given right anymore." Crudely put, but a good reminder of the difference between conservative and liberal views on what citizens should expect from their government: liberals think government should "create" jobs out of thin air, whereas conservatives think that if government should "create" anything, it’s an environment that guarantees the right to property and provides a tax structure that provides incentives for the most productive use of capital.
In his state of the union address, President Bush made the conservative case for a government that does not create jobs per se, but protects private citizens (through low and fair taxes, for example) in their capacity to create jobs. But with his recent comments about America losing jobs to overseas companies, he seems to be borrowing from the Democrats’ playbook. Understandably, he does not want to reprise his father’s alleged indifference to the economic plight of unemployed Americans, which in part produced the election of Bill Clinton. Nevertheless, Bush needs to use his campaign to teach many Americans some basic economics about America’s strong position in the real global economy.
It seemes palpable over the last few days that Democrats have cooled on John Kerry. Wisconsin may be a reflection of this. See this NBC story on a Chinese problem he had back in 1996. You can smell a scent in the air, an unpleasant scent that somehow this wealthiest of all politicians may be carrying more baggage than he ought, and this could hurt him in the general campaign against Bush. This is only going to help Edwards. The L.A. Times is reporting that Dean will stay in the race but stop capaigning. He is making a mistake. This will hurt the Democratric Party and he loses all authority, oir whatever he had left. He is now on the fringe.
Dan Balz writes the WaPo storty on the Wisconsin outcome. The short of it is this: This race isn’t over yet. Edward’s rise is in part due (first) to the fact that Kerry is a bore and his comprehensive and excessive attack on Bush’s foreign policy is too extreme (and reminding people that he is a Vietnam vet with medals that he didn’t actually throw away, and that Bush was only in the National Guard only goes so far when Bush is Commander-in-Chief during war) and (second) that Edwards’ emphasis on good old-fashioned class warfare and protectionism is selling and (three) Edwards is a much more attractive and well-spoken human being than Kerry. Edwards seems normal. I’ll try to focus on this later, but it seems to me now that Edwards can at least damage Kerry, and possibly even win. This is especially true if Dean endorses him. If Dean wants to do something very good for his Party, he ought to do that. Then it would become a race down to the wire and I am betting that the longer it goes the more Kerry will drop. Kerry is like a bad love affair, the more you know him, the less you like him. Good for Edwards. Dean is supposed to hold a news conference this afternoon.
The Iraqi statue of an American soldier mourning his fallen comrades seems to be true (this was debated a few weeks ago). Take a look at it. It is made from bronze taken from demolished statues of Saddam. (Thanks to Andrew Sullivan)
Just when you begin to think that all students and professors are left wing radicals, anti-jewish martyrs, or other high-minded things, comes this report from National Review OnLine: Sex Week at Yale .
"Women and children not admitted. If that dont fetch em, I dont know Arkansas." The King or the Duke.
Carnes Lord is speaking today on "American Leadership and Statecraft in the 21st Century." You can listen to it live by clicking on his name. It should be good.
Today is Presidents Day. Since I have already mentioned Lincoln on his birthday, Ill just stick to Washington today (even though his birthday is not until the 22nd). What can be said about this great man that hasnt already been said? Not much. Yet, do remind yourself of his greatness and of why he was necessary for the founding of the country: No one was trusted more than George Washington. Discover why that may have been the case, and teach it to your children. Here is his
Letter to Colonel Nicola and his
Letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport and then his
Farewell Address. Read, think, remember, and be grateful.
This is a note from a graduate student in a philosophy department, regarding the post below on "Liberal Profs at Duke":
"A fellow graduate student in my philosophy department forwarded me this very article once it was published. It provided some interesting conversation. Those in the pro-affirmative action camp used to argue for their position by appealing to a theory of justice where affirmative action is justified as a means of reparation for past injustices. However, this argument, for many reasons, has become unfashionable. Arguing for affirmative action by appealing to ’diversity,’ whatever that means, is the only argument heard today by students and professors. It is almost taken as an a priori truth that diversity, whatever this might be, is necessary to become educated. Yet it is acceptable to those who embrace diversity to oppose more diversity in academia by leveling out liberal influences of liberal professors (and I had no idea how much liberal indoctrination can occur in the classroom until I started graduate school). When I suggested that their premises entailed that we ought to hire more conservatives at this university, possibly even granting "extra consideration" because of their minority status, I was called, quite common on campus today, a ’Nazi. Sigh..."
Hillsdale College freshman, Hans Zeiger , takes on the Girl Scouts who seem to be more and more politically correct.
Posted first at Townhall.com.
The briefs in support of Michael Newdows "crusade" against the Pledge of Allegience are in; several are posted on Tom Goldsteins blog. Not surprisingly, the brief filed by the Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the ACLU object precisely because the reference to "under God" follows a tradition in this Country "of humbly seeking the wisdom and protection of Divine Providence." Of course, the invocation of the protection of Divine Providence comes directly from the Declaration of Independence. As Pontius Pilot once remarked, what more need have we of witnesses. The ACLUs attack is aimed at nothing less than our founding charter and the principles upon which our nation is based.
Controversy continues at Duke University. Some students are claiming that there is bias against conservatives, and that there isnt enough intellectual diversity among the faculty (in the history department there are 32 registered Democrats to 0 Republicans, for example). There is more here, where you can find the chair of the philosophy department saying this amazing thing: "We try to hire the best, smartest people available. If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire.
Mills analysis may go some way towards explaining the power of the Republican party in our society and the relative scarcity of Republicans in academia. Players in the NBA tend to be taller than average. There is a good reason for this. Members of academia tend to be a bit smarter than average. There is a good reason for this too."
Critical Mass has a lot more and is following it in more detail than I am willing to. I dont find all this surprising (Ive been around too long!) and I do find the Liberals predictable reactions and lies brazen; as is said to Falstaff,"Give me leave to tell you you lie in your throat." I hope the mischief by the students continues, and I hope that the professors--who are as false as water--are at least made uneasy by the questioning.
Ray Bradbury, the great science fiction author, now aged 83, praises the Bush Mars effort, and says, "Were going to go with real people and land on Mars in the next 20 years and Im going to be buried in a tomato soup can on Mars. Ill be the first one up there."
A bit more on the Kerry intern issue from the Telegraph. A friend of the young woman says this: "This is not going to go away. What actually happened is much nastier than is being reported."
NRO re-prints the text of the letter believed to have been written by terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to al Qaeda operatives. Assuming the letter is authentic, this must be good news. We are doing things right. David S. Cloud explains in the WSJ On Line, who he is, what he has been up to, and how we have been tracking him.
Joseph Ellis reviews Washingtons Crossing by David Hackett Fischer. Although he quibbles over some details, he gives it full praise and notes that it is a perfect book upon which a a great film about the War of Independence can be made, "for in a confined chronological space we have the makings of both Patton and Saving Private Ryan, starring none other than George Washington. Fischer has provided the script. And its all true."
Christopher Caldwell, writing in the Financial Times, surveys Europe the question of who might be our friends in Europe. An eight page article with a lot of interesting detail about the various countries, leaders, and parties that may or may not be pro-American. There are a number of surprises here, including the collapse of the Christian Democratic parties’ support, and an expansing support from parties on the Left. Europeans’ reactions to America are, of course, tied to their own problems of integration, as well as Britain’s place in Europe. Complex. This paragraph is especially worth noting.
"In its diplomacy, as in its military strategy, the United States is discovering that it has a very shaky idea of who its real friends are. In the old days, it was very clear where the instinctive pro- Americans, or ’Atlanticists’ were to be found. They made up most of the Christian Democratic parties everywhere, and an influential right-wing rump of the Socialist parties in Germany, Scandinavia and Britain. And some of today’s pro-Americans are still on the right: Germany’s CDU still backs America, as do the British Tories, although not unanimously, and particularly not when Labour is in power. Beyond them, though, today’s Atlanticists are an unfamiliar mix of New Labour (in its British and Dutch variants), continental human-rights activists (particularly in France), Eastern European ex-dissidents and post-cold war parties of the right (in Spain and Italy). It would be surprising if America’s future foreign policy did not take some account of which Europeans like it, and which don’t."
Edward Rothstein reports on a remarkable conference at the New School, called "Fear:Its Uses and Abuses." Gore delivered the keynote address and argued that it is the American government that is preoccupied with instilling fear (George Kateb, Eric Alterman, and other Left-wing worthies, expanded on the theme). This is similar, it was argued, to the irrational fear of Communism and the perversions of McCathyism, "It was described as part of a counter-constitutional coup by a radical right." The speakers wanted to inspire fear, Bush "is exploiting the fears of the American people," as Gore put it. Of course, no one seemed to fear terrorists. And Gore argued that terrorism is not a threat, so shouldnt be feared. Jeff Jarvis reflects on all this (a few pages down under "Fear") and it is not to Gores advantage. Glenn Reynolds comes to the point: "I was once pretty high on Gore -- I worked in his 1988 campaign -- but hes been a complete disappointment. And now hes not just a guy who lost an election. Hes a become a loser, and that transformation has been entirely his own work.
And those of us who were relieved on September 11 that Al Gore wasnt the President are reminded, yet again, just why we were relieved. Hes too small a man for a job that big." I dont think any more has to be said on Al Gore.
George Will poses 28 questions for John Kerry to answer. Very powerful. Forget the Mickey Mouse stuff currently in play about his military record versus George W. Bush’s, these are the questions that will drive the campaign. Will implies there are more questions to be posed, but these may be sufficient. Even a Washington Post editorial poses similar questions for Kerry, and asks him not be "fuzzy" in his response.
Vice President Dick Cheney introduced Charles Krauthammer at the American Enterprise Institutes Annual Dinner in Washington a few days ago. Krauthammer received the Irving Kristol Award for 2004. Krauthammer than gave this talk, Democratic Realism: An American Foreign Policy for a Unipolar World. This is a serious piece of writing, considers as it does the meaning of a unipolar world, isolationism, liberal internationalism, realism, and what he calls the "fourth school that has guided U.S. foreign policy in this decade," democratic globalism. He explains why it is better called "democratic realism." Worthy of your serious attention, and a point of view with which I essentially agree. I note only a few paragraphs, to encourage your reading of the whole:
"This conservative alternative to realism is often lazily and invidiously called neoconservatism, but that is a very odd name for a school whose major proponents in the world today are George W. Bush and Tony Blair--if they are neoconservatives, then Margaret Thatcher was a liberal. There’s nothing neo about Bush, and there’s nothing con about Blair.
Yet they are the principal proponents today of what might be called democratic globalism, a foreign policy that defines the national interest not as power but as values, and that identifies one supreme value, what John Kennedy called “the success of liberty.” As President Bush put it in his speech at Whitehall last November: “The United States and Great Britain share a mission in the world beyond the balance of power or the simple pursuit of interest. We seek the advance of freedom and the peace that freedom brings.”
Beyond power. Beyond interest. Beyond interest defined as power. That is the credo of democratic globalism. Which explains its political appeal: America is a nation uniquely built not on blood, race or consanguinity, but on a proposition--to which its sacred honor has been pledged for two centuries. This American exceptionalism explains why non-Americans find this foreign policy so difficult to credit; why Blair has had more difficulty garnering support for it in his country; and why Europe, in particular, finds this kind of value-driven foreign policy hopelessly and irritatingly moralistic.
Democratic globalism sees as the engine of history not the will to power but the will to freedom. And while it has been attacked as a dreamy, idealistic innovation, its inspiration comes from the Truman Doctrine of 1947, the Kennedy inaugural of 1961, and Reagan’s “evil empire” speech of 1983. They all sought to recast a struggle for power between two geopolitical titans into a struggle between freedom and unfreedom, and yes, good and evil." A bit more:
"The danger of democratic globalism is its universalism, its open-ended commitment to human freedom, its temptation to plant the flag of democracy everywhere. It must learn to say no. And indeed, it does say no. But when it says no to Liberia, or Congo, or Burma, or countenances alliances with authoritarian rulers in places like Pakistan or, for that matter, Russia, it stands accused of hypocrisy. Which is why we must articulate criteria for saying yes.
Where to intervene? Where to bring democracy? Where to nation-build? I propose a single criterion: Where it counts.
Call it democratic realism. And this is its axiom: We will support democracy everywhere, but we will commit blood and treasure only in places where there is a strategic necessity--meaning, places central to the larger war against the existential enemy, the enemy that poses a global mortal threat to freedom."