Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Conservatism, a la NY Times

The New York Times runs this unimpressive article trying to talk about the "young right" in a post-Bill Buckley future. What is conservatism? And how is the difinition being tested, etc.? Some who call themselves conservatives are quoted, to not much effect, in my opinion. These kinds of discussions are not especially valuable; but see Ken Masugi, who is on the right track. Those who claim to be conservative want to understand and save the American revolution and the things for which it stands; and this is done not out of mere reverence for one’s own, but for the cause of truth. This universal truth, once thought to be self evident, but now at best only a proposition, is the beginning and the end of the conversation.
That’s the short of it, and on that there can be no compromise, the possibility of an intellectual civil war notwithstanding: There must be consensus on first principles. The NY Times doesn’t get to it.

From the wet wild woods to the warm house

I just had reason to re-read Kipling’s The Cat that Walked by Himself. Here is the start (read it aloud):

"Hear and attend and listen; for this befell and behappened and became and was, O my Best Beloved, when the Tame animals were wild. The Dog was wild, and the Horse was wild, and the Cow was wild, and the Sheep was wild, and the Pig was wild--as wild as wild could be--and they walked in the Wet Wild Woods by their wild lones. But the wildest of all the wild animals was the Cat. He walked by himself, and all places were alike to him.

Of course the Man was wild too. He was dreadfully wild. He didn’t even begin to be tame till he met the Woman, and she told him that she did not like living in his wild ways. She picked out a nice dry Cave, instead of a heap of wet leaves, to lie down in; and she strewed clean sand on the floor; and she lit a nice fire of wood at the back of the Cave; and she hung a dried wild-horse skin, tail-down, across the opening of the Cave; and she said, ’Wipe you feet, dear, when you come in, and now we’ll keep house.’"

More Allawi rumors

Iraqi PM Allawi, himself, executes five terrorists. Another report in an Australian paper out today. All this is in line with what I said a few days ago. Worth watching.

Joseph Wilson, serial liar

Joseph C. Wilson IV defends himself in today’s WaPo. Jonah Goldberg won’t have any of it; wilson is being disengeneous, bit time. Mark Steyn calls Wilson a "serial liar," and wonders how the Demos got suckered into all this.

Armstrong wins 13th stage

Lance Armstrong, the great fish eating up the little ones, has won the 13th stage of the Tour de France, and is poised to win the whole thing for the sixth time. The guy is dangerous, Achilles-like. "In just two stages in the Pyrenees, Armstrong has sliced Voeckler’s lead from more than nine minutes. Two punishing stages await in the Alps, Armstrong’s playground in previous Tours, as well as the two time trials -- more than enough for him to assure his record victory." Here is the map of the race.

Predictions Update

I take time out from my furious summer book writing regimine to crow about one of my new year’s eve predictions that came true this week:

"The media will float rumors about Dick Cheney’s health, mostly to cause trouble in the GOP."

Don’t look back at the rest of my predictions; they were pretty bad (Dean wrapping up the nomination by March, picking Richardson for his running mate, etc.)

Thune’s ad

In South Dakota, John Thune’s two daughters endorse their father for the U.S. Senate. Short video, charming. (Thanks to Powerline).


You can pack it in Virginia, just don’t hide it.

Soldiers welcomed home

Eight soldiers were flying home from Iraq for two weeks of R&R, and first class passengers offered to swap seats with them. A stewardess said: "The soldiers were very, very happy, and the whole aircraft had a different feeling."

West Virginia

This could be a bad sign for Kerry in West Virginia: The Democrat candidate for governor, Joe Manchin, is distancing himself from Kerry, while the GOP candidate, Monty Warner, is not distancing himself from Bush. Zogby had Bush up in WVA by six points in mid-June.

No. Carolina poll

I had mentioned that Gallup poll in North Caroline a couple of days ago, wherein Bush was ahead by 15 points. That did seem extraordinary. So here is another, just released by Mason-Dixon that shows Bush ahead by three points (48%-45). There was no bounce for Kerry in Edwards’ home state. Kerry had 45% in May, and had 45% in July. Bush went up by three points.

Joe Wilson as liar

Robert Novak, who knows something about this, makes clear that it was Ambassador Joseph Wilson who lied, and not President Bush, according to the Senate Select Intelligence report. This massive fact leaves both Wilson and (other) Democrats silent. Christopher Hitchens also has a few words on this matter: "Two recent reports allow us to revisit one of the great non-stories, and one of the great missed stories, of the Iraq war argument. The non-story is the alleged martyrdom of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Wilson, supposed by many to have suffered cruel exposure for their commitment to the truth. The missed story is the increasing evidence that Niger, in West Africa, was indeed the locus of an illegal trade in uranium ore for rogue states including Iraq." It is also true that theButler Report also

bolstered President Bush’s assertion that Iraq sought uranium from Niger, casting further doubt on Wilson’s honesty. You can get the whole of the Butler report by clicking
here, and here are Tony Blair’s comments.

The NAACP and Bush

John H. McWhorter thinks that President Bush was entirely justified in not accepting the NAACP’s invitation to speak at its annual convention. McWhorter asserts that the NAACP is in a mind-set that doesn’t make sense today, and their anger based politics is not true or useful. He writes: "Black America’s main problem is neither overt racism nor more subtle "societal" racism. Lifting blacks up is no longer a matter of getting whites off our necks. We are faced, rather, with the mundane tasks of teaching those ’left behind’ after the civil rights victory how to succeed in a complex society — one in which there will never be a second civil rights revolution."

It is no longer the case that without the NAACP real problems having to do with race can’t be addressed. Other organizations are working on "specific cures to specific ills: creating a culture of achievement among black students, addressing the AIDS crisis in black communities and fostering constructive relationships between police forces and residents of minority neighborhoods."

I especially like his concluding lines: "In fact, Bush ought not court an organization that considers him a racist, despises any race-sensitive proposal he offers and plays no serious role in addressing the problems of the community they purport to represent.

The NAACP is hardly the only political movement to have dissolved into posturing after the battles were largely won. What happens is that new leaders come along who are better suited to address the new problems.

For Bush to visit today’s NAACP would be like dropping by a memorial. It would be a gesture, not an action. Black Americans deserves better."

Allawi’s outreach

Iraqi prime minister Allawi has been doing two important things. In his speeches and interviews he makes clear that Iraq is on a new path, shows gratitude for the liberation, and threatens those who would disrupt the movement toward a moderate and democratic Iraq. In his actions he may be even more bold, as

David Ignatius makes clear. He has been having clandestine meetings with supporters of the Iraqi resistance to offer them amnesty and the opportunity to participate in the political process. These meetings have had their effect in causing a split between the Iraqi resistance and foreign terrorists. He is also talking to countries surrounding Iraq and asking them to be more cooperative in securing Iraq’s borders. This seems to be having some effect. It seems that Iraqis are supporting him in his admirable efforts to stabilize the country. At the same time he is making clear that Iraq is going terminate terrorism in Iraq, and says that he will set up a new Iraqi spy agency. As I said a few days ago, I have every reason to think that Allawi will succeed.

Many More Pictures

For those who have not visited the "Photos from Robert Alt in Iraq" section recently, there are many new pictures posted from my time up in Tuz, including a number of shots from a successful raid against a counterfeiter who was believed to be running guns to Fallujah. The pictures do not have captions yet, but I hope to get those up in the next day, as well as a blog post describing the raid.

The Prudence of the June Transition

There was a great deal of criticism for the Bush administration’s decision to make June 30th a hard deadline for transition from both sides of the aisle before the transition actually occurred. On the right, no lesser a source than William F. Buckley had suggested that perhaps June 30, 2005 would be an appropriate transition date, and on the left, the Washington Post had cited presidential candidate John Kerry as criticizing the inflexibility of June 30th. When I first came to Iraq, one of the questions I carried with me on arrival was whether the speedy transition was appropriate. I soon got my answer. I had a series of conversations with Iraqis in which it became obvious that they considered it important to transfer power as soon as possible. As I have noted before, the Iraqis were happy that Saddam was removed, and they saw the U.S. invasion as a defeat of Saddam, and not of Iraq. They therefore hungered to take control of their own government.

One of the key objections by Iraqis to the American occupation was seeing the Americans occupying Saddam’s old palaces. As the Iraqi priest I chatted with early in my visit to Iraq told me, this occupation of Saddam’s buildings gave Iraqis a very bad impression. The sooner the halls of government were occupied by Iraqis, the better. Once the promise was made to transfer governmental power, there was an additional reason to stick to the date: it was also a matter of keeping our word. When I attended the transition ceremony for the Ministry of Health—the first ministry to transition to Iraqi control—the new Iraqi Health Minister Dr. Kudair Abbas made clear his appreciation for the fact that the Americans had kept their word, and had kept it early. Any shifting of the date forward in time would have undoubtedly have been seen by Iraqis as a power grab—even if it were done for the most beneficent of reasons.

But perhaps most importantly, it was necessary to shift political control to the Iraqis in order to give them some sense of ownership of their country. While the Americans were in control, it was too easy for the Iraqis to simply blame the Americans for any grievances, and to do little to rectify those issues for themselves. Notably, while many Iraqis were upset at terrorism, in some sense the attacks were viewed as aimed at Americans, and not necessarily at fellow Iraqis (even when Iraqis died). But with Iraqis at the helm of the ship of state, there is a shift toward increasing Iraqi responsibility. PM Allawi understands this, particularly in the area of terrorism, and has made a conscious effort to make certain that his people understand that the terrorist attacks are attacks on Iraq which cannot be tolerated. From his first speech in office, he has called on his countrymen to assist him in rooting out terrorism from Iraq. And Abu Musab al-Zarqawi also understands this, which is why in his memorandum to fellow Al Qaeda terrorists intercepted in February, he called on terrorists to increase their attacks prior to June 30th, while they could still use what he called the “pretext” of U.S. occupation to justify their attacks. That pretext no longer exists, and PM Allawi has used the bully pulpit of the leadership of Iraq to make clear that the attacks committed are now clearly against Iraq.

The shift in control and concomitant shift in responsibility appears to be working. Yesterday’s car bombing was one of the first major attacks since the transition in Baghdad. This appears to have been caused by a few factors. The first is better intelligence which led to a series of successful attacks on alleged Zarqawi safe houses in Fallujah. Reports issued by the Multi-National Forces stated that in at least two of the buildings, explosions continued for 20-30 minutes after the buildings were hit with precision weapons, suggesting that the buildings contained large caches of munitions. Some of this intelligence came from key captures, while other intelligence has come as a result of greater cooperation with Iraqis—cooperation that is undoubtedly aided by improved relations related to the transition. The second factor behind the recent quiet is believed to be the shift of the transition to two days earlier—a move which is believed to have frustrated plans to stage a spectacular attack to correspond with the handover of authority. But perhaps the most factor is the wedge that Allawi has been carefully driving between the terrorists and the Iraqis. Following yesterday’s attack, he again made clear that this act constituted naked aggression against the Iraqi people. The sentiment seems to be taking root, and it is very likely that by conducting attacks that specifically target Iraqis, the terrorists are driving the nails in their own coffins. Their days of open operation in Iraq are numbered. Does this mean that there will be no more terrorist attacks in Iraq? Of course not—such a suggestion is silly. But rather than openly operating, they will have to act more covertly as they do in other countries which are inhospitable to terrorism. This is a good lesson for the 9/11 Commission and for the critics of the war that do not understand the terrorism connection. When Saddam was in power, Iraq was hospitable to terrorism groups. Ansar al Islam openly operated and trained with Al Qaeda near the Iraq-Iran border. Known terrorists such as Zarqawi took refuge in Iraq after 9/11. And these groups operated openly in a country where Saddam used agents to collect information about and to micromanage the affairs of the smallest villages as far away as Kurdistan. Even leaving aside Saddam’s more direct funding links to known terrorists, by removing Saddam and by facilitating a government which is hostile to terrorists, the U.S. has given terrorists one less safe place to hide and train.

Fahrenheit 9/11 in Baghdad

I have mentioned before the thriving trade in bootleg DVDs on the streets. Well, it was only a matter of time before Fahrenheit 9/11 made its way to Baghdad. I saw it on the street the other day and was almost tempted to buy it—for this would give me the opportunity to see the film while at the same time assuring that Mr. Moore did not receive a penny. Surely Mr. Moore couldn’t object. After all, given his worldview, how can intellectual property laws be anything more than an expression of corporate greed intended to keep the little guy down?

Television in Baghdad

My apartment in Baghdad has satellite television, and so I have gotten to see a bit of Arabic television. I get the standard Arabic news channels, like Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera. I tune in on occasion to see the images, but the language barrier makes it difficult to follow the commentary. As for English speaking channels, I get BBC World, which is really quite poor. There is also an Arabic entertainment channel which features a number of American TV shows and movies run with Arabic subtitles. The channel is very popular among locals, who seem to enjoy the American programming, and undoubtedly tune in to hone their English skills. Among the American television shows featured is Oprah. In fact, the channel spent a good deal of time recently promoting Oprah’s interview with President Clinton. The channel also features Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, as well as Friends and Frazier. The movies featured are generally recent, popular films. Interestingly, the channel does not appear to edit for language, airing profanity in films that would not be permitted in the U.S. on network television. It does on occasion run some slightly older films. For example, when Brando died, they ran the original Godfather. The movie featured last night was The Long Kiss Goodnight. I had not seen the film in some time, and I had forgotten a key premise: The “good guys” in the film learn that the CIA had some role in the first World Trade Center bombing, and that a group within the CIA is planning a major attack aimed at killing 4,000 Americans in order to justify an increase the agency’s budget. And, as they put it in the film, “of course” their plan is to frame Muslims for the attack. The movie was made long before September 11th, but I have to think that this is a really bad movie to be showing in the Muslim world, where conspiracy theories about, for instance, Zionist plots behind 9/11 are already too widely accepted.

My Luggage’s New Vacation

Those who have been reading this page since late February know that my luggage has had a far more adventurous itinerary than its owner. First, my luggage enjoyed a few extra days in London on the way to Amman. Then, I checked a couple of bags when I left my hotel in Baghdad to embed with the troops, only to find them a little lighter when I returned. Among the more humorous items missing: my Valley City Ohio frog jumping t-shirt. And finally, when I left the troops a few weeks ago, fate stepped in to make sure that my laundry was not available from the cleaners in time for my departure. The guys at the base kindly mailed it to me, but because I do not have a military address here in Baghdad, they sent it to a friend at the CPA. Well, my friend’s time in Baghdad ended before my parcel arrived, and so now my laundry is presumably making its way to his home in Delaware, where I’m sure it will find the beaches refreshing after spending so much time surrounded by sand without surf.

Batchelder’s dissent in ACLU v. Ashbrook

Earlier today Nate Stewart brought to your attention the Sixth Circuit decision ACLU v. Robert Ashbrook (Robert Ashbrook, a Richland County Commissioner, was the defendant in his official capacity but is unrelated to the Ashbrook Center or to the late John Ashbrook). Another bad decision from a federal court. But do note Judge Alice Batchelder’s excellent dissent. It is longer than the opinion of the court and much more powerful (starts on page 19). Note just a few passages from Batchelder’s dissent:

The reasonable observer defined by the Supreme Court would not conclude that DeWeese’s inclusion of the Decalogue in a display that also includes the Bill of Rights, a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, accolades to the jury system, the Great Seal of Ohio, and the items comprising the Freedom Shrine, constitutes the government’s endorsement of religion.

Nor do I agree with the majority’s incredible assumption that fostering debate between the philosophical positions of moral absolutism and moral relativism "crosses the line created by the Establishment Clause." A great many state educational institutions will be shocked, I suspect, to learn that fostering debate between philosophical positions is now unconstitutional in the Sixth Circuit.

As Justice Thomas has so aptly noted:

For nearly half a century, [the Supreme] Court has extended First Amendment protection to a multitude of forms of "speech," such as making false defamatory statements, filing lawsuits, dancing nude, exhibiting drive-in movies with nudity, burning flags, and wearing military uniforms . . . . [T]he Courts of Appeals have []concluded that the First Amendment protects, for example, begging, shouting obscenities, erecting tables on a sidewalk, and refusing to wear a necktie.

Nixon v. Shrink Missouri Gov’t PAC, 528 U.S. 377, 411-12 (2000) (Thomas, J., dissenting). But the majority opinion holds today that that same First Amendment does not protect the posting, in a historical display used for educational purposes, of a set of rules that has played an undeniable role in the formation of this nation’s laws.

Are we safer?

Jonah Goldberg doesn’t think we’re "safer" now than we were before ousting Saddam, and he thinks the President was wrong for saying we are. Of course, Goldberg adds:

First of all, since when are we supposed to be "safer" according to the timetables of the presidential-election cycle? I mean seriously, how is that supposed to work? It’s dumb enough to expect a constantly churning continental economy to time its peaks and valleys to coincide with every fourth November, stretching back to 1845. Now presidents are supposed to wrap up the war on terror — or this chapter of it — like a feel-good network mini-series by election day?

In fact, who declared that 17 months after toppling one dictator in an unprecedented multi-front war on terrorism we’re supposed to be safer? Is that in a rulebook I don’t know about?

Classic, provocative Goldberg.

Sixth Sense

How Appealing reports that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has become the second circuit to find that the Supreme Court’s decision in Blakely v. Washington invalidates the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, making them "simply recommendations that the judge should seriously consider but may disregard when she believes that a different sentence is called for." The panel opinion can be read here.

The blog also reports: "Divided three-judge Sixth Circuit panel rules in favor of ACLU, and against ACLJ, in appeal over whether Ohio state court trial judge may display Ten Commandments poster in his courtroom." That opinion is here.

Torture in Baghdad

I have been working this afternoon at my local internet cafe. The new techie has recently discovered Celine Dion, and has been playing the same song continuously. The horror.

VBIED Pictures

The Multi-National Forces web site has posted some pictures of the Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) which detonated outside the Green Zone this morning. My one warning is that you should be prepared to wait if you click on the thumbnails, because the files appear to be quite large. Also, note the distortions in the first picture around the light poles. This distortion appears to be caused by the extreme heat--at approximately 9:30 am.

UPDATE: Lt. Naum, who is an Abrams tank commander, wrote to offer a kind correction to my post. "The heat distortion in that picture is from the exhaust of that big, beautiful monster in the background. I’d recognize it anywhere, and can smell that sweet, sweet aroma right now. Mmmmmm. Tank fumes."

I have personally walked behind an Abrams tank a few times while they were running, and I can attest to the sensation of being hit by a wall of driven heat that feels like a full-body hair dryer set to singe.

Car Bomb at Entrance to Green Zone

A car bomb exploded near the entrance to the Green Zone at about 9:15 this morning. This gate is more than a mile from my apartment, but the blast still shook my room enough that I would have guessed the locus of the explosion to be closer. The Washington Post has a fairly detailed report, in which they claim that 10 Iraqis were killed, and another 43 were injured. When I spoke to people at the scene, I heard some reports of 9 dead, and others of 10. As I have said before, the numbers are generally unreliable in the early hours after an attack. The U.S. military cordoned off the area with Humvees and Bradley fighting vehicles, and were removing the remains of the destroyed SUV used for the boming when I arrived. This is one of the first major explosions in Baghdad in the past couple of weeks. As I have mentioned a few times, Baghdad has been much quieter on the whole since I returned a few weeks ago than it was when I arrived in March.

Also note in the WaPo article that this attack is likely to backfire by further alienating Iraqis against the foreign terrorists who are targeting Iraqis. Allawi understands this, and when he visited the site, emphasized that this was "naked aggression against the Iraqi people. We will bring them to justice." While it will be difficult to end all spectacular attacks, the deepening devide between the former regime elements loyal to Saddam and the international terrorists suggests that large scale attacks should continue their current decline.

Yeats is It!

Yup, the greatest poet of the 20th century. All the knowers agree with my opinion. Derbyshire notes that Yeats agreed with Goethe’s remark that "the poet needs all philosophy but must keep it out of his work." Here is Yeats: "Nothing in poetry that does not run in one’s head because of the sweetness of majesty of the sound. Owing to the struggle for new subject matter the younger poets today lack that sound."

A couple of days ago I noted a review of Foster’s bio of W.B. Yeats. John Derbyshire has another worthy review in the latest issue of the Claremont Review of Books. Read it, let it encourage you to read Yeats again. And, by the way, you should certainly subscribe to the Claremont Review of Books, it is uniformally wonderful and thoughtful and capacious and not--I repeat not--supercilious and predictable and liberal, as is its New York namesake. Put money in their poke, and read and think and revive. Go here to subscribe.

You think it horrible that lust and rage/Should dance attendance upon my old age;/They were not much a plague when I was young;/What else have I to spur me into song?

Iraqi news

Instapundit brings our attention to the fact that al Qaeda seems to be moving out of Iraq. Even in Fallujah they are running into problems. He links to articles on the StrategyPage and the Christian Science Monitor; follow them. And a top al Qaeda suspect has surrendered to Saudi authorities, taking advantage their amnesty program. Iraq’s foreign minister is urging NATO to speed up the help it promised. The Phillippines seemed to have caved in to terrorist demands, and say that they will remove their troops from Iraq ASAP. The Belmont Club is not amused.

Bobby Jindal

It looks like Bobby Jindal (he lost the race for governor of Lousiana) may be elected to the House from the 1st District.

Mrs. Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards seems to be a perfectly normal and reasonable woman, according the this Chicago Tribune article.

North Carolina poll and the dead cat bounce

This Gallup/CNN poll of North Carolina cannot be good news for the Kerry-Edwards ticket: Bush 56, Kerry 41 (likely voters); Bush 51, Kerry 44 (registered voters). Gallup has a review of what kind of bounce candidates have gotten historically, but Realclearpolitics makes all this a bit clearer (and calls Kerry non-bounce a "dead cat" bounce) and reminds us that polls only start being meaningful after Labor Day.

Meese on Marriage

Former Attorney General, Ed Meese, has these thoughts on gay marriage and the legal strategies involved. He looks at the recent Supreme Court decisions likely to impact Congress’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and seems to support a constitutional amendment (currently being debated in the Senate) to thwart "a few radical judges [who will] redefine marriage by legal fiat, according to their notions of social progress." Meese concludes that "Nothing less than the future of our society, and the course of constitutional government in the United States, are at stake."

And Also With You

Apparently the Left (or certain of its pieces parts) now believes that "it’s appropriate to bring faith into the public policy arena." (Where did Michael Newdow go?) Looking for an answer to the Right wing’s religious voting block, the Left has begun its own left-leaning religious movement with groups like the Center for American Progress and the Clergy Leadership Network. As one group said, the idea is to "give voice to people who are religious and spiritual and also progressive who feel their views are neglected in the public dialogue." To be sure, a number of the groups are avowedly "non-partisan" and intend "to act in the ’prophetic tradition’ to ’unite faith communities across the divide on issues of global justice that are receiving insufficient attention,’" but almost all tend to favor the Left’s policies over the Right’s. God speed.

Kerry on blacks in jail

John Kerry, in prepping himself to address the NAACP this Thursday said, "We’ve got more African Americans in jail than we do in college. That’s unacceptable." Well, he’s wrong. Sharkblog proves him wrong. (via Andrew Sullivan)

Campaign notes

This short and to the point article in USA Today puts the feel-good events of last week for Kerry and Edwards into a bit of perspective. A numbers of things that were said by Kerry and Edwards (or their wives) have complicated their lives and have muted the uplift they should have received from the hubub. Kerry has unreliable instincts (witness the New York celebrity concert), and his wife is realiably predictable. Andrew Sullivan (in the London Times) considers how both Cheney and Edwards represent their parties’ base, and draws a nice comparison of the two. He might be a bit kinder to Edwards than he should be (in my opinion), but this is thoughtful. This is his last paragraph:

"The same paradox may well be true about the scheduled debate between them. Edwards is perhaps the best orator from his party for many years. Expect him to raise the roof at the Democrats’ convention in Boston. Cheney is terrible on the stump. He doesn’t even like applause. At a recent speech when cheers forced him to repeat a sentence, he growled, "You guys want to hear this speech or not?" Edwards, in comparison, targets every member of the audience for charm and persuasion, just as he did so brilliantly with dozens of juries. But in the intimate context of a television debate, Cheney could do well. His low-key, authoritative daddy act will contrast dramatically with Edwards’ blow-dried bangs and populist sound-bites. Edwards’ best shot? To get a Cheney snarl that reminds voters why they distrust him. Cheney’s best shot? To have a foreign policy question where he leaves the neophyte Edwards in the dust. And just because it’s a side-show doesn’t mean it won’t be drama. Think Luke Skywalker versus Darth Vader; Austin Powers versus Dr Evil; and the boyish charms of the 1990s versus the cold fear of the new millennium. It will be not so much a vote as a taking of the American temperature. And you couldn’t find two more constrasting characters to choose between."

Why the Bush bounce?

I admit that I am more perplexed than normal as to why nothing that Kerry does or says (including the Edwards announcement) helps him in the polls. That this is a bad sign for the Demos goes almost without saying. I thought this paragraph from

Rich Lowry at NRO is thoughtful on this issue:

"According to the AP poll last week, Bush seemed to get a small bounce from the Edwards selection. Other polls show a tiny Kerry bounce, but Bush’s job approval rating still climbing. What’s happening here? The Edwards selection helped knock Iraq off the front pages, and anything that de-emphasizes Iraq helps Bush, since it has been the main thing dragging him down. This means that any big Kerry campaign events that dominate the news--no matter how well rolled out, like the Edwards announcement--work in some sense in Bush’s strategtic favor, since they serve to overshadow Iraq. Now, of course, part of what is going on here is that Iraq has simmered down a bit over the last two weeks, and there are no longer daily CPA breifings to provide the cable channels with easy video. But there is still news in Iraq. Last week, five of our guys were killed in a mortar attack and almost no one knows about it, because it ran on page A-20. The biggest threat to Bush’s presidency was that bad news out of Iraq was making people feel sour about everything. When instead of seeing bombings in Iraq, they see pictures of an all-American Edwards family posing for the cameras, they feel a little better, which marginally helps the incumbent, George Bush. At least that’s my theory...."

Buckley on Iraq and neo-cons

New York Times Magazine publishes an interview with William F. Buckley. While witty on many subjects, he has some tough remarks on Iraq and the neo-cons. In case anyone had any doubts, the interview makes it clear that 9-11 did not vanquish the old divisions between conservatives on the meaning of America and its place in the world. Short and worth reading.

Ken Hamblin Show

I will be on the Ken Hamblin Show today at 4 pm EST/1 pm PST. You can listen online here.

Bulldog journalism

Orson Scott Card explains what bulldog journalism is, how its practiced, and who (liberals, surprise) practice it. "This is bulldog journalism: Once you get hold of a story, you never loosen your grip until your victim dies--at least politically." Card explains the popularity of FOX News as well.

George Will’s Turkey trap

George F. Will has a clever question regarding Kerry’s foreign policy. Assuming you want to avoid friction with Europe, would you (unlike Bush) not support Turkey’s admission to the European Union? This is important because if Turkey is admitted to the EU, within ten years (because of its large population) it will have more votes in EU affairs than Germany; never mind that Europe would then border on Iraq and Syria. Maybe international harmony is not the goal of foreign policy. Kerry needs to clarify.

Internal rift within the Iraqi insurgents

This front page article in Sunday’s N.Y. Times considers the possibility (even probability) that an internal rift has developed between the domestic and foreign insurgents in Iraq. This may be one reason why no major operations were carried out during the transition.
The cause of this rift can be disputed, but both we and Allawi had something to do with it. Certainly Allawi wants to widen the split, wants to divide Iraq’s opponents
and even pull the old Baathists into the new Iraq. The whole article makes for interesting reading. Save it.

How Edwards could help Kerry

Steven M. Teles, a Democrat, thinks that Edwards should be able to help the ticket in a number of states. I’m not persuaded, but this is interesting, short and to the point.

Iyad Allawi’s reputation

Dexter Filkins, of The New York Times, writes an update/profile on Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. Although brief and opinionated it is worth a read because the essence of it seems to be true. That is, Allawi is a tough guy, with a reputation for being a cruel and efficient man, and that fact and reputation is sitting well with the Iraqis. They are, in effect, giving him full power to achieve peace and unity. Allawi’s main problem is the Baathist/Sunni insurgency and he has to be both soft (offering amnesty to some) and hard (threatening to kill the others). This is his attempt to divide the Sunnis. He has seemed--from the beginning of his a rule--to understand that cruelties can be badly used or well used.
The fact that he has been--at different times--both a part of the Saddam regime and a part his conquerors (the CIA, specifically) only adds to his credibility for toughness. And this is in his interest. It is possible that in order to achieve peace he will have to become more ferocious, and, it is possible that he will not mind that his reputation so suffer that he will have to be replaced, and chastized, by the future elected leader of the new Iraq. Yet, he will have fulfilled his mission to unify and pacify Iraq and his replacement will find an Iraq more easy to govern. I am betting he succeeds because he has found the solution to the problem of faction.

The real turkey

Powerline has some good comments about the New York Times finally correcting itself about what it (and everyone else) called the fake turkey on a platter that President Bush lifted in Iraq last Thanksgiving. The turkey was real.

Kerry-Edwards interview

This is the Wasington Post story on the interview it conducted with both Kerry and Edwards in New Mexico yesterday. And here are excerpts from the interview. I guess we are going to have an election on character and "values." The
impression one has in reading both articles is that Kerry is less interested in
distancing himself from the Michael Moore-goofy-Left-crowd than he should. Kerry claims that voters are "clamoring for restoration of credibility and trust in the White House again." Also: "The value of truth is one of the most central values in America, and this administration has violated" it, Kerry said in an interview with The Washington Post aboard the Democrats’ campaign plane Friday. "Their values system is distorted and not based on truth." Both pieces merit study, and should be filed for later reference.