Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Hillary’s Bind

Raymond Hernandez writes a very interesting and surprising article in The New York Times. I say surprising because I did not expect this public analysis of a question that started floating around among my friends as soon as Edwards was named Kerry’s running mate. The article makes the point that Edwards and Hillary will be on a collision course for the leadership of the Demo Party--and for the 2008 nomination--if Bush wins re-election. And because Bush is likely to win re-election this is a much more interesting question than the unlikely scenario in which Bush loses, in that case Hillary’s career would be over. So Hillary has to work hard for the Kerry ticket, all the while knowing the problem. The only addition I would make to the piece is that when Kerry-Edwards lose, Hillary should not understimate Edwards’ potential to give her a great fight for the nomination: He is just as ambitious (and perhaps as clever) as Bill Clinton was at this stage, and he is much more capable of turning into a moderate Democrat (a necessity to get elected) than will Hillary. Besides, Edwards is married to a highly ambitious woman who happens to be a very good lawyer with a real job. And, once Edwards loses, he will have a lot of time on his hands (and his own money) to start running for the nomination. Edwards will be around for a long time. Who else could oppose Hillary? Are there other up-and-coming Demo leaders out there?
The future of the Democratic Party will be at stake and the fight will be fierce and without mercy.

Joseph C. Wilson lied, says the Report

This is a remarkable Washington Post story--based on the Select Committee’s Report--claiming that Joe Wilson’s assertions, "both about what he found in Niger and what the Bush administration did with the information -- were undermined yesterday in a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report." In brief:

"The panel found that Wilson’s report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson’s assertions and even the government’s previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush’s January 2003 State of the Union address."

Also this:
"The report turns a harsh spotlight on what Wilson has said about his role in gathering prewar intelligence, most pointedly by asserting that his wife, CIA employee Valerie Plame, recommended him.

Plame’s role could be significant in an ongoing investigation into whether a crime was committed when her name and employment were disclosed to reporters last summer.

Administration officials told columnist Robert D. Novak then that Wilson, a partisan critic of Bush’s foreign policy, was sent to Niger at the suggestion of Plame, who worked in the nonproliferation unit at CIA. The disclosure of Plame’s identity, which was classified, led to an investigation into who leaked her name.

The report may bolster the rationale that administration officials provided the information not to intentionally expose an undercover CIA employee, but to call into question Wilson’s bona fides as an investigator into trafficking of weapons of mass destruction. To charge anyone with a crime, prosecutors need evidence that exposure of a covert officer was intentional."

It turns out that Wilson also lied to the Washington Post, as well as what was in his own report to the CIA! Pretty messy, all this.

Select Committee on Intelligence Report on the pre-war intelligence on Iraq

Here is the Full Report (PDF file, over 500 pages) of the Select Committee on Intelligence. And here is the Conclusions (PDF, 30 pages). This is yesterday’s Washington Post story on it.

Michael Reagan Show

I will be on the Michael Reagan Show today at 6 pm EST/3 pm PST. His show is broadcast on affiliates nationwide and for the XM listeners, his show is broadcast on XM Channel 165. You can also listen on the web here.

Saddam’s novel

Saddam’s latest novel is being serialized in an Arabic paper in London. The manuscript was found in the Ministry of Culture after Baghdad’s fall, indicating that it was written while Saddam was still in power. The newspaper said it had received its copy from Saddam’s physician, Alla Bashir, who fled Iraq after the war and was believed to be in Qatar. "Get Out, You Damned"--its title--describes a Zionist-Christian conspiracy against Arabs and Muslims, with an Arab leading an army that invades the land of the enemy and topples one of their monumental towers, an apparent reference to the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center in New York by Islamic militants of Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network. I haven’t been able to find it on Amazon yet.

Daschle and the bloggers

Hugh Hewitt explains that because of bloggers in South Dakota, Tom Daschle will find it a lot more difficult to sell himself to the voters as a moderate. For example, the Argus Leader, a pro-Demo paper, has run nothing about Daschle’s hug of Michael Moore, but the bloggers are all over it. Hewitt thinks bloggers will have an impact; he links to a few.

Mortar Attack

I was at the internet cafe pulling down the full text version of the Senate Intelligence Committee Report when a loud boom shook the building. At first it appeared to have come from the direction of the Sheraton, leading me to believe that the hotel, which seems to be a missile magnet, had taken another hit. The father of one of Muhammad, one of the cafe workers, called to say that the Al Sadir Hotel had been hit. The Sadir was just around the corner--about two blocks from where I was, so I took off in that direction. When I arrived, I was informed by onlookers and by the Iraqi police that the explosion was caused by a mortar, which did not hit the hotel, but hit a nearby residence. Several residents told me that a small child was killed, and suggested that another was taken to the hospital. I did not have a translator with me, so I had difficulty getting information about the status of the parents. One thing worth highlighting is that the entire security and emergency services operation was handled by the Iraqis. When I have visited sites of previous attacks, there have generally been Coalition and Iraqi security forces working together, but today it was entirely run by the Iraqi Police. This is a good sign, suggesting that the IP is taking a greater role and more responsibility for Iraqi security.

Reading decline

The National Endowment for the Arts has just published a survey called "Reading at Risk" (PDF file). The New York Times report on the survey says this: "Among its findings are that fewer than half of Americans over 18 now read novels, short stories, plays or poetry; that the consumer pool for books of all kinds has diminished; and that the pace at which the nation is losing readers, especially young readers, is quickening. In addition it finds that the downward trend holds in virtually all demographic areas." The Chairman of the NEA says: "What this study does is give us accurate numbers that support our worst fears about American reading. It quantifies what people have been observing anecdotally, but the news is that it has been happening more rapidly and more pervasively than anyone thought possible. Reading is in decline among all groups, in every region, at every educational level and within every ethnic group," he said, calling the survey results "deeply alarming." Those of us who teach for a living will not be shocked by this study, I’m sorry to say.

On the trivialists

Victor Davis Hanson writes a terrific piece on the trivializers vs. the civilizers. "The war that Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards once caricatured as a fiasco and amoral is now, for all its tragedies, emerging in some sort of historical perspective as a long-overdue liberation. At some point, one must choose: Saddam in chains or Saddam in power. And the former does not happen with rhetoric, but only through risk, occasional heartbreak, and the courage of the U.S. military. If Iyad Allawi and his brave government succeed — and they just may — the United States will have done more for world freedom and civilization than the fall of the Berlin Wall — and against far greater odds. Deanism is dead. Moorism is a fatal contagion that will ruin anyone it infects.

Kerry is only now starting to grasp that a year from now Iraq more likely will not be Vietnam, but maybe the most radical development of our time — and that all the Left’s harping is becoming more and more irrelevant. Witness his talk of security and his newfound embrace of the post-9/11 effort as a war rather than a DA’s indictment. It is not a good idea to plan on winning in November by expecting us to lose now in Iraq." Read it all.

Dog’s language

There are some very serious intensive and complete immersion foreign language programs around. I have seen some of them. At the best of them one is not allowed to use any other language (for any reason) than the one you are trying to learn. Good idea, and it works. But this particular example, it must be said, is ridiculous. A blind Quebec student, who was denied entry to English classes at a Canadian university because his guide dog responds only to French commands, will be allowed to attend class, the school said.

Yvan Tessier was initially turned away from an English immersion course at the University of New Brunswick because he would be forced to give his dog, Pavot, instructions in French. He uses seventeen commands in French.

Zogby poll

Zogby has Kerry ahead of Bush, 48%-46, with 5% undecided. Apparently there has been no bounce since the Edwards announcement, since Zogby had Kerry leading by two points a month ago. I don’t get it.

Million Air

The Washington Post reports that the Kerry-Edwards ticket had an unfortunate moment as they stepped off a plane for the first time together, with their wives. Here is the enlarged photo. Even though "Million Air" referred to a small aviation services company, it didn’t look good.

France’s agenda

Charles Krauthammer tells us what he thinks in no uncertain terms: "Before Sept. 11, France’s Gaullist anti-Americanism as a form of ostentatious self-aggrandizement was an irritant. With a war on — three, in fact: Afghanistan, Iraq and the larger war on terrorism — France’s willful obstructionism becomes dangerous and deadly." Now things are clearer: "There is something far deeper going on here. Beyond the anti-Americanism is an attempt to court the Muslim and Arab world. For its own safety and strategic gain, France is seeking a "third way" between America and its enemies. Chirac’s ultimate vision is a France that is mediator and bridge between America and Islam. During the cold war, Charles de Gaulle invented this idea of a third force, withdrawing France from the NATO military structure and courting Moscow as a counterweight to Washington. Chirac, declaring in Istanbul that "we are not servants" of America, has transposed this Gaullist policy to the struggle with radical Islam." Read it all.   

Germany’s new Islamists database

Germany announced it would create a central database on suspected radical Islamists, provoking concern ("unacceptable") from the country’s large Muslim community.

Conservative Kansas

George F. Will does a nice job cutting up Thomas Frank’s book, What’s the Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. Frank, the good left-winger that he is can’t understand why Americans don’t vote just on the basis of economic self-interest (thats is, Democratic!), but rather on social issues such as abortion, the decline of popular culture, or the agendas of public education. Will delights in the fact that citizens are not simply homo economicus, and delights in the massive fact that people like Frank don’t understand. 

Applications for jobless benefit plunges

"The number of new people signing up for jobless benefits dropped last week to the lowest level in more than three years, a potentially encouraging sign for a labor market experiencing a bumpy recovery.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that new applications for unemployment insurance plunged by a seasonally adjusted 39,000 to 310,000 for the week ending July 3. That marked the best showing since Oct. 8, 2000. The latest snapshot of the layoffs climate was better than economists were expecting. They were forecasting claims to decline to around 345,000."

The Iraqi Example

I mentioned yesterday that I had a very interesting discussion at the internet cafe a couple of nights ago. Here is the NRO article I wrote about my discussion with a Chinese reporter, who is writing about the freedom of Iraq--freedom which he does not have in his own country.

Feeling the Heat

The temp here in Baghdad was supposed to reach 118 degrees today. The Fox News studio uses an outdoor balcony for that on the scene look--and that on the scene heat. Add a couple of studio lights to the room to make sure that you are blind and a good 10 degrees hotter, and I would hazard that it was somewhere in the mid-120s during when I was on the air.

Alt on Fox News Today

Robert Alt will appear live from Iraq on Fox News today early in the 10:00 am ET hour.

Band of Brothers to Iraq

Four brothers in the same unit head out for Iraq. "The Scherzberg brothers — Jeff, 27, Brett, 23, and 21-year-old twins Matthew and Justin — will head to Iraq later this month as members of the Iowa National Guard’s 915th Transportation Company, based at Council Bluffs.

Their mother, Connie Scherzberg, said she was terrified when she first learned that all of her boys would be headed out together.

’I called and said, "You know, this isn’t what your mother wants." But then I had pride … I knew it was a wonderful thing to do and I’m very proud of my children for doing this,’ Mrs. Scherzberg said."

Uranium and Niger

The Financial Times (London) runs what seems to me to be an amazing story about the Iraqis interest in Uranium from Niger. Will this be big news?

"A UK government inquiry into the intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq is expected to conclude that Britain’s spies were correct to say that Saddam Hussein’s regime sought to buy uranium from Niger.

The inquiry by Lord Butler, which was delivered to the printers on Wednesday and is expected to be released on July 14, has examined the intelligence that underpinned the UK government’s claims about the threat from Iraq....

Among Lord Butler’s other areas of investigation was the issue of whether Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger. People with knowledge of the report said Lord Butler has concluded that this claim was reasonable and consistent with the intelligence.

President George W. Bush referred to the Niger claim in his state of the union address last year. But officials were forced into a climbdown when it was revealed that the only primary intelligence material the US possessed were documents later shown to be forgeries.

The Bush administration has since distanced itself from all suggestions that Iraq sought to buy uranium. The UK government has remained adamant that negotiations over sales did take place and that the fake documents were not part of the intelligence material it had gathered to underpin its claim.

The Financial Times revealed last week that a key part of the UK’s intelligence on the uranium came from a European intelligence service that undertook a three-year surveillance of an alleged clandestine uranium-smuggling operation of which Iraq was a part." (Thanks to

Crackdown in Iraq

The Boston Globe reports that the Allawi government is using emergency powers to crak down on criminals and insurgents. The Christian Science Monitor also reports in detail on the same issue. A 7 p.m. curfew in Najaf, local judges reinstating the death penalty, etc. These are some of the things the U.S. or the Coalition Authority could not do. The Iraqis seem happy with the crackdown. Combining this with the vigelantes who have announced that they will try to kill al Zarqawi, and we can start noting that the new Iraqi government, meaning the good guys, will take much harsher measures than we ever could to stabilize the country. Start noting 1) that this will be effective; 2) supported by the people; 3) our liberal media and the left Demos will surely start to hyperventilate about it. Surely, this will be called tyranny; is this what we fought for? etc.

Plain as the nose on a man’s face

President Bush is in North Carolina. According to this New York Times story he was asked a question about Edwards. Here is the crux of the matter: "When a questioner in Raleigh noted that Mr. Edwards had been described as charming and a ’nimble campaigner’ and asked Mr. Bush to compare the one-term senator to Vice President Dick Cheney, Mr. Bush snapped back: ’Dick Cheney can be president. Next?’" (Thanks to John J. Miller at NRO)

Yeats as complicated whole

Brian Phillips reviews R. F. Foster’s W.B. Yeats: A Life: Volume II: The Arch-Poet, 1915-1939. In this essay you will learn much about Yeats’ goofy life, and his life as art, and some about his spectacular poems. Regardless of his life and flaws, you can’t patronize Yeats because in the end there are the poems, always the lovely poems. Phillips:

"There are always the poems, where the ungainly aggregations of the life are distilled into moments of airy and bluff and sweet and impossible beauty, and as long as the poems exist, the last word will be theirs. To laugh at Yeats’s life is to find oneself softly checkmated. The poems are things of such constant astonishment that they dismay description; flocks of adjectives graze on them and never see the ground. Reading the fourth section of “Vacillations” makes one understand very well how the split sense of the burial story could have come into existence, how the poet could appear simultaneously as a helpless collection of bones and a powerful guiding spirit. Its ten plain lines show how accident can be transfigured by inspiration."

My fiftieth year had come and gone,/
I sat, a solitary man,/
In a crowded London shop,/
An open book and empty cup/
On the marble table-top./

While on the shop and street I gazed/
My body of a sudden blazed;/
And twenty minutes more or less/
It seemed, so great my happiness,/
That I was blessèd and could bless./

And note these "breathtakingly lovely" lines:

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,/
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,/
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;/

How many loved your moments of glad grace,/
And loved your beauty with love false or true,/
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;/

And bending down beside the glowing bars,/
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled/
And paced upon the mountains overhead/
And hid his face amid a crown of stars.

No Left Turns Mug Drawing Winners for June

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

Michael Lee

Alison Black

Robert K. Fischer

Donal Luna

Brian Gentry

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 July’s drawing.

The 65-10 Rule

Here is the FoxNews story on the latest proposal for the legalized plundering of the citizens of King County, Washington. A taste: "Known as the 65-10 Rule, it calls for landowners to set aside 65 percent of their property and keep it in its natural, vegetative state. According to the rule, nothing can be built on this land, and if a tree is cut down, for example, it must be replanted. Building anything is out of the question." As one might expect, a number of landowners are none too happy about it.

Edwards and the paleoliberal campaign

Bill Safire thinks that Kerry’s choice of Edwards was "not a pick of confidence." Kerry chose a good campaigner--this happy class warrior is also the most divisive voice in politics--but, like Bush’s choice of choice of Cheney, he should have chosen a person ready to govern. Everyone knew that Cheney would add nothing to the ticket as a campaigner, but everyone knew he would be ready to govern. Edwards has no gravitas (or experience) as Lynn Nofziger puts it. Even David Broder agrees that Kerry picked Edwards because he is a good campaigner, not because he was looking for someone who was ready to govern. Yet, he thinks it was a good selection. Andrew Sullivan thinks it is a good choice, but he focuses on Kerry’s dreadful announcement speech in Pittsburgh. He thinks that this is the first real campaign speech and it was a debacle because Kerry shows that he is going to run (with Edwards’ help) as a paleoliberal: The campaign will be about economic inequality, not the war on terror. According to Sullivan’s extensive analysis, the speech "also highlights that the Republican charge that Kerry is a big government, moralistic paleoliberal has a good deal of truth to it." It is straightforward "paleoliberal boilerplate." He thinks the speech is revealing and as vapid as anything he has ever heard. I also heard it and agree.

The F-word, again

Christopher Hitchens writes an amusing (and historically accurate) piece on the word "F-off." Using Cheney’s auggestion that Leahy try an anatomical impossibility, Hitchens points out that the use of the F-word and soccer are the British empire’s two great contributions to the world. Although I would dispute this (see elections in India), this is a fine piece of writing.

Solar panels for the new Army

The Army is testing flexible solar panels that can be layered on top of a tent, or rolled up into a backpack to provide a portable power source. Tents using solar panels made from amorphous silicon thin film on plastic can provide up to 1 kilowatt of energy, which is sufficient to power fans, lights, radios or laptops. This would also make soldiers harder to find by an enemy since it would reduce the "thermal signature" that enemy sensors use to track troop locations (no diesel powered generators would be needed, for example). This requires two years of additional testing, but looks very promising. One more cool point: The Army’s long-term vision is to have solar panels that can be camouflaged into tents or even uniforms. Some are working to develop nanotechnology-based solar panels that can be woven directly into fabric. The new technology replaces silicon with dye polymer plastics that transform any kind of light into electrical energy. Like I said, very cool. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to take your TV to the beach in order to have uninterrupted access to the liberal TV networks.

Iraqi developments

Arthur Chrenkoff has a good round-up of the good news coming out of Iraq, his first since the handover. A vigilante group (I assume) has announced that it is out to kill kill Zarqawi. And the Iraqi government has announced new national security law on Wednesday that will allow Prime Minister Ayad Allawi to exercise broad powers of martial rule to combat a persistent insurgency.

An Unhyphenated American

I had a very interesting discussion at an internet cafe last night, which should be up on NRO soon. When I left the cafe, it was after 11 pm and I had not eaten all day, so I wandered over to a hotel to grab a late dinner. My waiter, who in Seinfeld terms was a “low talker,” explained that he thought that I looked like I was either Iraqi or Jordanian. He was very surprised to learn that I am American. I took this as an opportunity to explain one of the unique features about America. I stated that for all I know, I could be Iraqi, or more accurately, my grandparents may have been Iraqi. You see, my father was adopted, and the records are sealed, so we do not know the nationality of his biological parents. My father and I look very much alike, and we share what appear to be Middle Eastern features, but I cannot say what country in the Middle East, if any, provides the origins for these traits. (I did not tell him that many people in the US think that I look Jewish.) But at a fundamental level, it does not matter what my grandparents’ nationality is. I am an American, where it does not matter if you or your ancestors were Iraqi or Jordananian or German; once you are a citizen, you are just a plain American. Not suprisingly, my waiter wanted to visit this place.

Today’s Weather

Today’s high in Chicago is anticipated to be 70. In Los Angeles, it will get up to a balmy 76. And Cleveland will see 80 degrees and thunderstorms. Baghdad will see 82 degrees--for its low temperature for the day. The high: 116 degrees.

Edwards and the economy

Now that it is confirmed that John Edwards is Kerry’s VP choice, it should be noted that the three reasons he was chosen were these: One, add sorely needed energy to Kerry’s campaign, which he will do, with the media’s help. Two, emphasize the economy, a Democratic strategy at all times, especially banging the drums on the rich vs. poor, and Edwards’ "two Americas" theme does this well. Three, help the Demos in the South, not necessarily because Edwards will help take any southern states, but because at the least it will force the GOP to spend some more money in some southern states. But note this AP story on the economy: The GDP growth might be the highest in twenty years. "The economy appears headed for a banner year despite a springtime spike in energy prices and a recent increase in interest rates.

In fact, many analysts are forecasting that the overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, will grow by 4.6 percent or better this year, the fastest in two decades.

There were strong 4.5 percent growth rates in 1997 and 1999, when Bill Clinton was president and the country was in the midst of a record 10-year expansion.

But if this year’s growth ends up a bit faster than that, it will be the best since the economy roared ahead at a 7.2 percent rate in 1984, a year when another Republican president - Ronald Reagan - was running for re-election."

Iranian mischief in Iraq

Iranian intelligence officers have been captured in Baghdad, according the FOX News. "American and Iraqi joint patrols, along with U.S. Special Operations teams, captured two men with explosives in Baghdad on Monday who identified themselves as Iranian intelligence officers, FOX News has confirmed.

Senior officials said it was previously believed that Iran had officers inside Iraq stirring up violence, but this is the first time that self-proclaimed Iranian intelligence agents have been captured within the country.

The Defense officials also confirmed to FOX News that in recent days there has been significant success in tracking down ’known bad guys’ based on information from local citizens. While those captured aren’t from the list of former regime members or from terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s network, they are ’active’ bombers and organizers of recent violence."

The Belmont Club posted some interesting observations this morning before this revelation (follow the links) on what the Iranians have been up to, and may still be up to, and how the Brits, the US, and the Iraqis have been responding. This is a serious game of cards, and now it would seem that some of the cards have been turned over. Stay tuned.

Bantus in America

Back in March of 2003 I brought to your attention a piece in the New York Times on Africa’s lost tribe of Somali Bantus coming to America. It was a heartwarming story of the descendants of people kidnapped from southern Africa by slave traders two centuries ago, but its warmth was obscured by the political correctness from the Times: "The refugees tell each other, the Bantu will be considered human beings, not slaves, for the first time," said the article, but the Times wondered and emphasized how they will do in this land of prejudice and poverty, never mind language difficulties, or not knowing what a toilet was. Well, yesterday The New York Times ran another story on some Bantus who had settled in Tucson. Officials are saying that "the Bantus are making the most remarkable progress of the refugee groups" even though they came with the most disadvantages. America represents opportunity for them, and they are taking advantage of it, taking menial jobs, not complaining, paying rent, overcoming some of their bad "cultural" habits (like beating children), telling time, being punctual, noting that fireworks are meant to amuse not to strike fear, getting used to the kids being pelted with water balloons, etc. They are happy. The children are in school (and doing better than the natives, surprise!) and the 15-year-old boy wants to become a doctor. America represents opportunity, his father said, opportunity.  

Iran’s future

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, an ordinary liberal in most respects, has an interesting streaming video and audio of his trip to Iran. He posed Iranians six questions about their life, their regime, and the US. In slightly surprised tones, he reports what every sensible person would already believe: that almost all Iranians believe that the tyranny of the Islamic Revolution has made life worse and that the Revolution is now "bankrupt and exhausted".

Still, he does helpfully show that the problem for the Bush administration is how to keep the mullahs from getting the bomb (which would prop up their decaying authority with sheer power) without provoking nationalist support from the previously alienated people. As a liberal, he doesn’t like Bush’s "Axis of Evil" language but that’s because he overstates the possibility that external pressures will renew popular support for the regime. The so-called "reformers" in whom he seems to place such great hope are almost as disliked as the hardliners, and in some respects held in more contempt for their constant capitulations to the regime.

The administration needs to keep stiffening the Europeans’ spines on the nuclear issue so that it is not the US vs. Iran but Iran alienating itself from the world. And it needs to continue telling the Iranian people directly that the US supports their aspirations for freedom and a return to their rightful place in the world, but that such a return is impossible under the present mullahcracy.

When History Is Too Exciting

Here is a reflective piece from Peggy Noonan on the November election. Her concern for Bush’s re-election is that while Americans admire Bush for his guts and his gusto, the past 3 years have been all too exciting, and a vote for Kerry may be thought a vote for returning to "normalcy." Kerry is what Bush isn’t -- dull, boring, unwilling to take a stand on just about anything, and Euro-friendly. She concludes, "The American people may come to feel that George W. Bush did the job history sent him to do. He handled 9/11, turned the economy around, went into Afghanistan, captured and removed Saddam Hussein. And now let’s hire someone who’ll just by his presence function as an emollient. A big greasy one but an emollient nonetheless."  

Tactical language

The Tactical Language Project allows GI’s to learn Arabic by playing a videogame. Quite interesting.

Kerry picks Edwards

Kerry has picked John Edwards to be his running mate. Ironically (contra me), Kerry said that he couldn’t wait to see Edwards going "toe-to-toe with Dick Cheney."

Kerry Picks Edwards

So the headlines read.

Farewell, General Kimmitt

I just attended the last press conference held by Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, who has been the senior military spokesman in Iraq for the last eight months, but is now taking a new post in Qatar. I always found General Kimmitt easy to work with and responsive to questions. He had an amazing ability to keep his cool even in the face of some of the most outrageous accusations that I have ever seen thrown at another human being. At the end of today’s briefing, John Burns from the New York Times offered some words of thanks on behalf of the press pool to the General. It was good of John to do this. My best wishes to General Kimmitt and his family as he takes a new post.

Predominance and its Discontents

Elliot A. Cohen has a thoughtful essay called "History and Hyperpower" in the July/Aug 2004 Foreign Affairs (only the preview is available on line). He says that the "age of American hegemony has begun." And although the U.S. is not an empire, it can learn from the life of past empires (no small task since "most people throughout history have lived under imperial rule"). It most certainly is the great power in the world; it has "overwhelming power." "No potential adversary comes close to it, and, for the moment, there is no question of a countervailing coalition to block, let alone replace, it." For the foreseeable future, only domestic politics can restrain it. "The logic of the Cold War was one of ideological struggle and bipolar contest. The logic of contemporary international politics is that of predominance and its discontents." (My emphasis)
Just because there are no rivals doesn’t mean that statesmanship is not necessary; the inevitability of anti-American (as in anti-imperial) sentiment must be considered and be dealt with. He reminds us that the constant maxim of the Romans--who seemed to lack deep culture, wise statesmen and invariably successful armies, and yet kept their empire intact--according to Mostesquieu was "to divide." This may explain why we take the side of the weaker factions within the European Union. Cohen also reminds us of another the virtue of the Romans, according to Machiavelli: "One of the great prudence men use is to abstanin from menacing or injuring anyone with words." Blustering and threats are not appropriate. Roman discretion is as important to study as Roman assertion. The Romans made requests and promises and followed through on both. Cohen:

"When the simply clad Roman senator Gaius Popilius Laenas delivered Rome’s demand that Antiochus IV withdraw from Egypt, he did not threaten the Syrian king. Rather, he walked over to the problematic monarch and with his staff drew a circle around him in the sand, insisting on an answer to the Senate before Antiochus stepped out of it. The Selucid king turned pale and acceded, and this act of submission destroyed his reputation in his own luxurious court." It is best for the U.S. to blandly smile when exercising its power and not use boastful words, Cohen argues. There is more, and it is all thoughtful. Read it, when you can.   

Thank God for Up-Armored Humvees

I received word that the guys in 4th platoon from the 196th Cavalry, with whom I was previously embedded, had a very close call. A 155mm IED blew up approximately 5 feet from a SFC Hutton’s Humvee. I have previously shown you how much damage a shell of that size can do. The shell only knocked out a headlight, blew some holes in SFC Hutton’s shirt (but luckily not his person), and scratched Spc. Vorhies cheek. Spc. James, who was driving, apparently came through unscathed. Here is to good fortune and providence.

Howard Dean, Warmonger

USA Today has obtained a 1995 letter from Howard Dean to then-President Bill Clinton, urging him to intervene, unilaterally if need be, in Bosnia. "I have reluctantly concluded," he wrote then, "that the efforts of the United States and NATO in Bosnia are a complete failure ... If we ignore these behaviors ... our moral fiber as a people becomes weakened. ... We must take unilateral action."

But of course, Iraq and Saddam Hussein were completely different. Iraq, like, has sand and stuff. And Milosevic is clean-shaven, whereas Saddam has that cool beard.

Dem VP Picks (Updated)

Responding to Peter, below: I do think LBJ helped JFK, but I agree with most of the rest of his commentary. So, Peter, whom would you bet on? I was personally impressed by Bob Kerrey, whom I met at the U.S. Air Force Academy during a talk he gave there, but I don’t see him helping the ticket, unless a certain gravitas does the trick. (He was rather silly on the 9/11 Commission, don’t you think?) I guess he wouldn’t go back to Joe Lieberman, even based on your arguments about foreign policy. He would probably need to pick a Protestant, assuming Bush doesn’t switch nominees. (Danforth, if he does switch?) Your logic would likely exclude a woman.

Modifying your analysis, I think the election will be more about security, rather than foreign policy. Dem tickets require a southerner. And that bodes well for the dull, predictable Gephardt, despite his St. Louis roots. (Breaux-- too much corruption in Louisiana, but it’s possible. Nunn-- too conservative for the party, even one desperate for victory.)

If it’s a surprise, it will be a surprise to me, too-- e.g., Senator Bayh of Indiana, who could help in the battle for Ohio.

What I fear Bush is undergoing is a combination of Carterization and LBJization, though the Iraq policy cannot yet be dismissed as a failure. The President has not assured us that he knows what our foreign policy is about, even with sovereignty transferred to the Iraqis.

Reagan gave the country confidence that we would have a decisively different orientation, despite his lack of foreign policy experience. The vision was assuring.


As of Monday, 9:30 p.m., Pacific Time, I’d bet a dollar Kerry picks Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, based on Kerry’s flying to Indianapolis following his early morning rally in Pittsburgh, where it is expected he will announce his VP selection. Already designated as his running mate’s political director is, according to the New York Times, "Linda L. Moore, who was President Bill Clinton’s deputy political director and then Senator Bayh’s deputy chief of staff. She was a field director at the Democratic Leadership Council in the early 1990’s."

That Honorable Determination

Christopher Flannery reflects on the meaning of the Fourth of July.    

Kerry’s latest ideas, and the VP choice

John Kerry tries mightily to both distinguish himself from Bush on Iraq, while seemingly agreeing with Bush’s purposes. In doing this he calls for a strategy with more "realism" as well as a "realistic path to democracy in Iraq." He wants to reconnect "our ideals with American common sense." His emphasis, as always, is on paying attention (and giving things to) our allies. This smells like helping the UN and the French--who mistrust American purposes, means, and power--tie our own hands.

The reason for bringing this to your attention is not that his views are silly or simply disagreeable--they are neither--but to note the very large problem he will have in the election. The Michael Moore/Al Gore insanity will not get him any votes. He must disown that sort of extremism, while persuading more ordinary undecided citizens that he can do better. This is becoming increasingly difficult now that sovereignty has been transferred, Saddam is on trial, and the numbers of Americans losing their lives has dropped to 49 in June (from 140 in April, and 84 in May). He must argue that he can do what Bush wants to do in the mid-East, but do it better. This means he has to question Bush’s choices regarding Afghanistan and Iraq, and thereby question Bush’s integrity, prudence, and character. He will have to argue that he is more trustworthy than Bush, without seeming that he is France’s candidate. That will be a hard mountain to climb.

Kerry has also announced that life starts at conception, in his humble opinion. The reason that this is shocking is that he has had a very strong pro-abortion record. Up until now, regardless of his flip-flopping on other issues, no one in his right mind would have thought he were capable os saying this: "I oppose abortion, personally. I don’t like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception." His spokeswoman said that Kerry has always thought (using a Clinton formulation) that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare," but this is the first time he discussed when life begins. It seemed to be the case that Clinton could get away with this kind of sophistry, but Kerry is not clever enough to do so. He has a 100% voting record on abortion according Naral-Pro Choice America. It’s not the GOP that paints him as a flip-flopper, he himself is his own artist. This will be used against him in the campaign, and entirely to Bush’s advantage.

There is also much hype about Kerry’s choice for vice-president. David Lambro does a pretty good job showing why none of the names mentioned will be of much help to him. The running mate will not get Kerry elected; no VP nominee ever helped a presidential nominee get elected, although some have clearly hurt (Farraro for Mondale, Miller for Goldwater, are exmaples). Think about it this way. If the major issue in the election is Iraq and the war on terror (which I believe is the case), then the VP nominee must be a serious, mature person with some foreign policy credentials. John Edwards debating Dick Cheney on foreign policy will be like a high school student debating Aristotle. The only three people I know of who could have some authority in such a debate are Sam Nunn, John Breaux, or maybe Bob Kerrey. Bob Graham is out, he is a silly person (unless Kerry wants to get someone who could help him get only one state); that is unlikely because the Demos are currently (wrongly) thinking that they can win nationally by five to ten points. His selection, which, apparently, is going to be announced Tuesday or Wednesday, therefore will be a surprise to the congnoscenti. It cannot be Edwards or Gephardt or Vilsack (you can’t have two Catholics on the ticket). It must be a serious person with foreign policy credentials. This is a war election first. Second, it’s on "values." Kerry must choose someone who is a moderate on the second, and a hard-liner on the first. It should be Breaux, Nunn, or Bob Kerrey. If Kerry can surprise us, he will have a better chance of being elected. If he can’t surprise us, he will have proven to one and all that he is dull. If he ends up choosing Edwards, he will reveal that he does not think the election will be on the war. And he will be wrong. I say he does not pick Edwards.

The F-Word in verb form

Charles Krauthammer writes a must-read column defending the use of the F-Word. As Francis Bacon might have said, if reading makes a full man and writing makes an exact man, so Krauthammer is an exact man. Lovely.    

Europe and the Internet

Thierry Chervel writes a very thoughtful four-page essay on the how the Europeans do not take advantage of the intenet ("The Europeans have invented the internet, but the Americans have come up with all business ideas for it."). Also note how Chervel ends in making a case that English will become even more irresistible through the internet: "English will once more change the European public for good. Europe will undergo a development that has already taken place in the Third World: its central debates will take place in English and new media and new networks will develop that will constitute this new public." (via Arts & Letters Daily).    

French cowboys

It turns out that France is willing and able to defend Europe, according to French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie. She said rogue states "could one day point their missiles toward France and its neighbours. We could say to those countries: ’Watch out, if you try to carry out your threats we will destroy you before you know what’s hit you.’"

"If Germany asked us for help, it is probable that European solidarity would come into play," she told a German newspaper, and added: "For us, nuclear weapons are the ultimate protection against a threat from abroad." She also said that France has a mobile, flexible and highly-motivated military and that it was the second or third best in the world. And also note that the French Foreign Minister has urged Israel to end the isolation of Arafat.

Independence Day, Half a World Away

Today we as Americans celebrate our independence. Our independence is unique, for we, as a nation of ideas, can point to one seminal document for the principles that gave rise to our nation: The Declaration of Independence. And so it is fitting that today, more than 130,000 Americans stand guard in a country halfway around the world to guarantee those rights which that document proclaimed to be applicable to all men—not just to Americans. While Thomas Jefferson conceded that the ideas of the Declaration were not new but merely a recitation of the ideas found in the writings of men like Locke and Sydney, the restatement of these ideas in a document declaring these rights as a basis for the formation of a new nation was revolutionary then, and it is revolutionary now.

There are many who question the US endeavor in Iraq. Some question whether Iraqis have habituated the virtues or have the education necessary for successful self-rule. These are important questions, and ones which we will continue to consider in the coming days. But no one should doubt that the Iraqis as humans are equally entitled to the fundamental rights of life, liberty and happiness, and that their government should derive its just powers from the people. After all, we Americans proclaimed as much to them, not last year but 228 years ago.

The Forth of July in Iraq has been much like any other day. I have seen no barbeques, and (thankfully) there have been no local fireworks. Undoubtedly, the men and women serving here would rather be at home, enjoying a barbeque and a beer, and spending time with families and friends. But they are here, and they are here for an important purpose. They know why they are here, and many of them volunteered not just once to join the military, but a second time to come to Iraq. For this, we owe them a debt of gratitude. So as you sit around your barbeques today with your families celebrating our independence, take a moment to remember those soldiers throughout the world who cannot be with their families so that America can be secure, and so that a new nation may one day celebrate an independence day of its own.