Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The not-so-swift national media

Janathan Last recounts how the media have handled--not handled, ignored, or mislead--the Swiftboat story; and how the alternative media picked it up and ran with it, checked the facts, and, eventually, forced the Liberals to at least mention it. It is a rip-roaring read, and is, as far as I can tell, exactly true.   

More on the Great Seal, much more

Someone reminded me (and I thank him) that

Thomas G. West had written a pretty good piece on the Great Seal of the United States, "The Theology of the United States: An Interpretation of the Great Seal of the United States." It appeared, originally, in Crisis (1996). As the title indicates, West covers the whole ground, as it were, and explains the difference between separation of church and state, how it is misundertsood, and how studying the Great Seal helps explain that the Constitution "does not require a separation between God or religion and state." Or, if you like, he shows how the
teaching of the pyramid side is meant to be a pictorial
representation of the political theology of the
Declaration of Independence (God as lawgiver, judge,
and providence). Excellent.

Kerry in 1971

Michael Dobbs, for the Washington Post, recounts some of the history and events of Kerry’s anti-war activities, including the original confrontation with John O’Neill on the Dick Cavett Show in 1971. I saw that back in 1971, and C-Span has shown it a couple of times recently, by the way. It is very much worth seeing! Never mind the slant of the piece (especially against Nixon); there are enough little nuggets (e.g., Kerry did attend--and continues to deny that he did--the infamous Kansas City meeting of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War in N November of 1971) in it to make it worthwhile. This will not go away.

Fahrenheit 1971

Our own Mac Owens gets around, doesn’t he? He was one of the first to go after John Kerry’s post-Vietnam positions and testimony, and he continues with this fine and hard-hitting piece from The Weekly Standard; it is entitled, "Fahrenheit 1971." People are now beginning to realize how radical John Kerry’s views of Vietnam were. Mac doesn’t go after Kerry’s record in Vietnam; he never has. But he has gone after Kerry’s actions after the war, and this is what the Swifties have called attention to, and this is what is seriously hurting Kerry. Mac starts his piece from this quote from Kerry’s book, The New Soldier (1971); read the whole essay yourself, it being, effectively, a rumination on this quote:

"We will not quickly join those who march on Veterans’ Day waving small flags, calling to memory those thousands who died for the ’greater glory of the United States.’ We will not accept the rhetoric. We will not readily join the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars--in fact, we will find it hard to join anything at all and when we do, we will demand relevancy such as other organizations have recently been unable to provide. We will not take solace from the creation of monuments or the naming of parks after a select few of the thousands of dead Americans and Vietnamese. We will not uphold the traditions which decorously memorialize that which was base and grim. . . . We are asking America to turn from false glory, hollow victory, fabricated foreign threats, fear which threatens us as a nation, shallow pride which feeds of fear." --John F. Kerry

As Mac says: "Kerry’s actions after Vietnam are reminiscent of Michael Moore and today. It was not enough for him merely to criticize U.S. policy in Vietnam. He and his friends in the VVAW were obliged by their radicalism to go after the United States itself."    

Here is the famous cover of The New Soldier, and the Epilogue, written by Kerry.

Bad numbers for Kerry

J. McIntyre at Realclearpolitics has a few good paragraphs on the slew of recent polls, national and state (with good links)--none to Kerry’s advantage, especially coming in just before the GOP convention--and concludes: "The next three weeks will be crucial for the Kerry campaign. To use a sports analogy: they’re no longer playing preseason games against Dean, Gephardt, Kucinich and Wesley Clark. Kerry is in the Superbowl now, and the reigning champs are staring to pound the ball up the field with a good deal of success.

Kerry and the Democrats are in a much more precarious position than the recently adopted Cook/Sabato/Broder conventional wisdom suggests. Senator Kerry must keep this race close over the course of the next few weeks, because if President Bush is able to build on his new found lead, Kerry’s chances in November will be seriously."

GOP convention bloggers

Bloggers at the Republican convention will include some of my favorites: Tom Bevan of Realclearpolitics, John Hinderaker of Powerline, Hugh Hewitt of, Edward Morrisey of Captainsquarters, and Allan Nelson of Commandpost. You might want to visit them during the convention.

Reason to carry a pocketknife

Alligator grabs dog by the head, dog owner pulls out trusty pocketknife, gets alligator in the eye, gator lets go, dog and man go home.

FBI investigates Israeli spy in Pentagon

CBS News is reporting that "the FBI has a full-fledged espionage investigation under way and is about to--in FBI terminology--’roll up’ someone agents believe has been spying not for an enemy, but for Israel from within the office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon. 60 Minutes Correspondent Lesley Stahl reports the FBI believes it has ’solid’ evidence that the suspected mole supplied Israel with classified materials that include secret White House policy deliberations on Iran."

What Else is "Seared" into John Kerry’s Memory?

On January 20, 2003--Martin Luther King Day--the Democratic presidential candidate gave a speech in Richmond, Virginia. "I remember well April, 1968," he told his audience. "I was serving in Vietnam--a place of violence--when the news reports brought home to me and my crewmates the violence back home - and the tragic news that one of the bullets flying that terrible spring took the life" of Martin Luther King.

Okay, but the senator didn’t go to Vietnam until November 1968. But, hey, it gave him a chance to work his war record into one more speech. (Thanks to Division of Labour for the link.)

Sistani’s virtu

I have always said that Sistani was smart and was the man to watch in the South, but Arthur Chrenkoff thinks he is really smart: "One thing no one can deny the Grand Ayatollah Sistani - he’s a smart man. Sistani returns from his surgery in Great Britain just at a time when al Sadr’s Mahdi army is facing annihilation in his home town of Najaf, steps in to broker a peace deal between al Sadr and Iraqi government, and in a space of a few hours he demonstrates to everyone who’s really in charge in the south. You might recall that Sistani left for London the day after al Sadr restarted his Shia uprising.

A mere coincidence or a clever plan? The upstart al Sadr’s radical and largely uncontrollable forces have been significantly degraded over three weeks of fighting, with the dirty work being all done by the ’infidel’ Americans; al Sadr himself has been humbled and put in place; the provisional Iraqi government is grateful for this respectable way out; and the Shias are ecstatic that peace has finally returned to Najaf.

Surely the Shia establishment in Iraq could not be that Machiavellian?"

Plan or no plan, virtu implies the ability to recognize opportunities. I remind Mr. Chrenkoff that it was the Allawi government (and the Americans) who allowed, and took, Sistani out of Iraq. It would seem that his medical condition--he had a stent placed in an artery--did not require immediate attention; he could have waited, or he could have gone earlier.

In any case, it would seem--for the moment--that al Sadr is afflicted by bad fortune. And that is the other side of the effectual truth of the thing.

Russian flights downed by terrorists

The Russians are now starting to claim that terrorism brought down the two planes. At least one of the Russian planes was downed by a bomb, it would seem. The Russians found traces of the explosive hexogen.

Little Saigon and Kerry

Pete Peterson writes in The American Spectator about little Saigon, in Orange County California. There are more Vietnamese there than anywhere else outside of Vietnam. John Kerry is not well liked in this "communist-free zone" for his anti-war antics, and also for his lack of support for the 2001 Vietnam Human Rights Act, which the House had passed 410-1 back then. As a ranking member of the Senate subcommittee on East Asian Affairs Kerry helped shelve the act. Kerry doesn’t have much support here. (Thanks to Powerline).

Kerry’s moment of peril

Andrew Busch article explains "Kerry’s Moment of Peril." Busch is very clear on attack on Kerry: "The attack has two parts, which together form a serious threat to Kerry’s position in the race. First, the Swift Boat Veterans allege that Kerry’s heroics in the Vietnam War were overstated and his wounds minor. Second, they insist on reminding voters of Kerry’s scurrilous conduct after he returned from service, when he devoted his energy to serving as a font of sound-bites for the North Vietnamese propaganda machine."

Taken by themselves these allegations don’t seem to be enough to derail a presidential campaign, so why have these charges taken their toll? The answer is that Kerry has staked almost everything on biography (almost to the exclusion of political record, or issues). So the thrust of the first Swift Boat Veterans’ attack brought into question whether Kerry’s self-image from Vietnam was accurate. But the second line of attack which stands on its own, and does not depend on the first. Busch: "Indeed, one could concede that Kerry’s version of his Vietnam service was entirely correct and still turn against him on the basis of his later activity. After all, whether one is a war hero might be said to depend on the overall degree to which one contributed to the military cause of one’s country. We do not call Benedict Arnold a war hero, even though he led the charge that broke the British at Saratoga. His subsequent betrayal negates Saratoga, as Kerry’s subsequent behavior leaves open the question of whether he cost more lives—American and Vietnamese—out of uniform than he saved while in uniform. To the extent that his actions contributed to the victory of Stalinism in Indochina, it is obtuse to consider him a ’war hero’ in any meaningful sense." Touche!   

Kerry’s 1971 testimony

Because this article by Mac Owens--who was one of the first, months ago, to bring to our attention Kerry’s testimony in 1971--generated so much response just over a week ago, he has written another in which he takes up these three points in favor of Kerry: 1) Kerry spoke the truth about the Vietnam war—it was brutal and unjust and atrocities were common; 2) Kerry had every right to criticize the war, especially since he had been there; and 3) In his April 1971 testimony, Kerry did not call all U.S. soldiers war criminals but merely relayed the charges of others.    

Fox News poll

Lucas Morel had the following comment on polls:

"Check me on this, but I believe that same poll showed that more respondents (i.e., a plurality, though not a majority) believed Bush would win the election than Kerry would. For what it’s worth, this question (’Who do you think will win?’ not ’Who do you think you will vote for?’) seems to provide a more reliable prediction of the actual winner of elections. In the fall of 2000, a prominent pollster visited a government class at my university and asked students, ’In my next poll, what one question should I ask people to help me predict the winner of the presidential election?’ After he scrutinized several suggestions, I said he should ask, ’Who do you think will win?’ He gave it short shrift by replying, ’Naw, I already asked that one, and the result was fifty-fifty.’ QED."

He is right, of course. FOX News Poll, of likely voters (which shows Kerry leading Bush by one point) says this: "A 43 percent plurality believes President Bush will win in November while just over a third (35 percent) believe Kerry will win. Republicans are more confident, with 72 percent saying Bush will be re-elected compared to 62 percent of Democrats who believe Kerry will prevail.

Just under half of voters (48 percent) say they would rather have Laura Bush than Teresa Heinz Kerry (33 percent) as first lady of the United States."

Gore Vidal’s opinion, then and now

Seeing Kerry’s 1971 testimony last night vividly brought back the real issues at stake then and even now. Kerry’s contempt, dissaproval of America, his smarmy exegesis of the root of our problems, our misunderstanding of ourselves and the world, and our insistance that we may have enemies that are worth standing up to, then communists, now terrorists, nicely leads into this Gore Vidal reflection on his "State of the Union" address of 1972 in the predictably far-left, The Nation. Surprise, things haven’t changed in Imperial America--his term that elaborates on how this is the country with only one political party, the "Property Party, with two right wings, Republican and Democrat"--in this land of opportunism and rank interest wherein he forees Enron coming and "socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor." Vidal is right, same problems, same election. Same outcome.

Bush leads in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Missouri

Back to the L.A. Times Poll: Bush now leads Kerry in three important states, Ohio (49-44), Wisconsin (48-44), Missouri (46-44). Says Ron Brownstein: "Like a national Times poll released Wednesday, the surveys underscore the difficulty Kerry has had converting a general desire for change into support for his candidacy." And then this, by way of conclusion: "But warning signs for the president continue to flicker through the poll." Thanks Ron, that was thoughtful.

Gallup Poll

The Gallup Poll has Bush leading Kerry among likely voters, 50%-47%. Bush’s favorable rating of 54% was the highest since April, Kerry 52% was his lowest since January. And then this:

"The president’s job-approval rating, 49%, is lower than Bill Clinton’s 53% in 1996 or Ronald Reagan’s 54% in 1984. But it is higher than the ratings scored by recent losing incumbents — George H.W. Bush at 35% in 1992, Jimmy Carter at 32% in 1980.

Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for the Bush campaign, said he is elated by Bush’s standing leading up to Monday’s convention.

’No challenger has ever won going into the incumbent’s convention behind,’ he said. Winning challengers Reagan and Clinton had double-digit leads at that point, he said."

Note a few other gems:
• Bush leads Kerry 49%-43% on who would handle Iraq better. Kerry was ahead 48%-47% in a poll Aug. 1 right after the convention.

• Bush leads Kerry 54%-37% on who would handle terrorism better. Kerry was at 41% on Aug. 1.

• Bush leads Kerry 54%-34% on who people say is "a strong and decisive leader." Kerry had halved that lead to 10 points on Aug. 1.

• Bush leads Kerry 51%-43% on who people trust more to handle the responsibilities of commander in chief, the same as before the convention. They were tied 48%-48% in the poll Aug. 1

Kerry’s 1971 testimony

C-SPAN ran John Kerry’s April 22, 1971 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I saw most of it (and had seen it before). I think someone favoring Bush should run it as an ad once week until the election. It would be worth a couple of million votes against Kerry.

L.A. Times poll has Bush in the lead for the first time this year

Ronald Brownstein, writing for the Los Angeles Times, notes that the latest L.A. Times poll shows "President Bush heads into next week’s Republican National Convention with voters moving slightly in his direction since July amid signs that Sen. John F. Kerry has been nicked by attacks on his service in Vietnam, a Times poll has found.

"For the first time this year in a Times survey, Bush led Kerry in the presidential race, drawing 49% among registered voters, compared with 46% for the Democrat. In a Times poll just before the Democratic convention last month, Kerry held a 2-percentage-point advantage over Bush.

That small shift from July was within the poll’s margin of error. But it fit with other findings in the Times poll showing the electorate edging toward Bush over the past month on a broad range of measures, from support for his handling of Iraq to confidence in his leadership and honesty."

Here is the whole L.A. Times Poll (PDF file, 25 pages). Please note that even Brownstein--always trying to write with care when the facts oppose his opinions--has to write for the first time this year in any Times survey wherein Bush is in the lead. You are getting the picture? Also see Steve Hayward below.

Timing Is Everything. . .

My timing, that is.

Back in the snows of winter early in the year, when Kerry was starting to emerge as the sucessor to Dean, I had a notion to write a long article on why I thought the election would end up refighting the domestic divisions over Vietnam. But of course being busy with a million other things I didn’t do it, and now I’d look like a Johnny-come-lately to the parade of the obvious.

One thought among many was that if the campaign re-opened the divisions over the war, Kerry would lose. It is important to remember that although the Vietnam War came to be unpopular with Americans, the anti-war movement was even more unpopular. (Todd Gitlin acknowledges this frankly in his book on the sixties, noting is was a fact that the left didn’t understand.) By highlighting Kerry’s contemptable anti-war activities, the Swift Boat veterans have blown a large hole in Kerry’s electability.

Several new polls out this morning show Bush moving ahead of Kerry by nearly the margin of error. It is easy to see how this will play out if Bush does indeed go on to win, and the Swift Boat effort is seen as the turning point. In a nutshell, the left will go ballistic, and the rancor of the next four years will exceed even what we have seen so far. For starters, Michael Moore will gain at least another 50 pounds.

If you thought the left’s resentment over the Willie Horton issue in 1988 was big, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. With the fund of Bush hatred already stored up, the left will scream about the supposed underhandedness and lack of substantive meaning of the Swift Boat attack for years--maybe decades--to come (just as the left never stopped whining about Nixon’s "red baiting" campaign of 1950 for Senate).

Ramirez Cartoon

California and outsourcing

Daniel Weintraub writes on a new study commissioned by the California state legislature (in the hands of Democrats) that "suggests that sending American jobs overseas, far from being a blow to employment, can actually help preserve existing jobs and create new ones."
The paper, prepared by the Public Policy Institute of California, warns lawmakers against trying to stem the practice by prohibiting offshoring in state contracts, noting that such a ban would drive up the cost of services and take money away from other programs in the budget." The Legislature has not yet released the study (which Weintraub already has seen). Weintraub: "The last thing they want is a study done in their name that claims shipping jobs overseas is not only good for the economy, but for workers as well." Since the Demos have been making a campaign issue of this, we shouldn’t be surprised that they don’t want to talk about it; the Legislature has already passed a number of
banning certain kinds of outsourcing and is headed for the governor’s desk. Virginia Postrell says that only a girlie-man would sign such a bill.

The study states: "Because of the dynamics of the U.S. economy and offshoring’s expected effect on productivity, the overall, longer-run effect of offshoring may be to increase living standards at home." Look for this study to have a national effect.

Harkin’s "coward" remark

David Yepsen, in an op-ed for the Des Moines Register, hits Senator Tom Harkin really hard for calling Cheney a "coward." Yepsen isn’t surprised that the Kerry campaign is already distancing itself from Harkin.  

Kerry and the culture wars

Both David Broder and Larry Sabato--neither one exactly part of the great right wing conspiracy--reflect on the broader meaning of both Kerry’s use of his Vietnam experience (heroism, to some) in the election and of those who will never forgive him for saying outrageous things about our troops in 1971. That they agree that the waving of bloody shirts and the culture war of the 1960’s has settled into this election--to the surprise, it would seem of the Kerry folks--indicates that even the relatively moderate pundits see the implication of the hubub caused by the Switboats’ shots across Karry’s bow.

The Great Seal of the United States as a civics lesson

This is a newstory that appeared in the Washington Post on August 18. It tells the story, in brief, of some middle grade students (in Ashland, Virginia) who, encouraged by their well intentioned but ignorant teacher, have been lobbying for a few years to change the back of the dollar bill. They want a shortened version of the Constitution to replace what is currently there. The WaPo article says, "You know, in the space now occupied by the eagle and the big green pyramid with the eye over it." And why would this be a good thing? Because it would be a good "civics lesson," and "people living overseas would gain a better understanding of democracy if they were handed a U.S. dollar and could read on it what the United States stands for."

Frankly, this is one of the dumbest things I ever heard of. And it is made especially idiotic coming from a teacher (and supported by a few Senators and Congressmen) who claims to be doing it in the name of teaching civics. Do they have any idea what the "eagle and the big green pyramid" are, and what they stand for? That they seem not to (nor does the writer of the article, apparently) is a massive fact that unfortunately reflects the state of our education in civics. Allow me to explain.

Before the Continental Congress adjurned on July 4, 1776, it passed a resolution asking Ben Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, to draw up a seal for the U.S.A. To shorten a longer story, which you can find here (PDF file, 25 pages), it was not until 1782 when the final Seal of the U.S.A. was approved by Congress. It is this that some folks want to replace with an edited version of the Constitution.

Look at the back of your dollar bill. The better known front of the seal has the bald eagle with spread wings, his talon holding an olive branch and arrows (13 of each), denoting the power of peace and war. The red and white stripes of the shield represent the several states, which support the blue (I know the colors are not on the dollar bill, but you can find them here) which unites the whole and represents the Congress. The whole shield, or escutcheon, is "born on the breats of the American Eagle without any other supporters to denote that the United States of America ought to rely on their own virtue." (in the words of Charles Thomson, the Secretary of Congress, who was tasked in 1782 to finally get it done). E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one) is on the scroll, clenched in the eagle’s beak.

But the reverse side of the Seal (sometimes called the spiritual side) is even more interesting and more to the point.
The pyramid, with 13 steps, has the Roman numerals 1776 as its base. That is what holds up the pyramid. The summit of the pyramid is the Eye of Providence in a triangle surrounded by a Glory (rays of light), and above it appears Annuit Coeptis (He [God] has favored our undertakings). Along the lower circumference of the design appear the words Novus Ordo Seclorum (a new order of the ages). Both terms are taken from the poet Vergil, but never mind that for now.

The meaning of the Great Seal has always been clear to interpreters. The Founders did think they were marking the birthday of a new world, of a new regime, one which would, in great measure, "become the cause of all mankind," as Thomas Paine said. This new order of the ages was the first to recognize the natural rights of all human beings to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, hence to self government based on consent of the governed. This is what Lincoln called "a standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all, and revered by all." It is on the declaration that "all men are created equal" that the great fundamental principle upon which our free institutions rest, including the Constitution. It would be a great error indeed in any way to fool around with the Great Seal, or remove it from the dollar bill. The proponents of this bill should uynderstand that, as should the author of the Washington Post article. This is not just a "big green pyramid with an eye over it"! It is the thing for which we stand, and is (again Lincoln) "the electric cord" that "links the hearts of patriotic and libert-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world." How about using the Great Seal of the United States to teach civics, rightly understood?

Mainstream media vs Kid Internet

The Belmont Club writes that the undercard in the Kerry vs Swiftvets bout is Mainstraim Media vs Kid Internet and the Mainstream Media has been forced against all odds "to accept the challenge of an upstart over the coverage of the Swiftvets controversy." The former "gatekeepers" are losing this existential challenge.  

On the dangers of being a pompous prevaricator

David Brooks makes a good point: It is to John Kerry’s advantage that the Swifties show their ad wherein Kerry’s words (and images) from the 1971 Senate Foreign Relations Committee are shown because that ad reveals that Kerry had an opinion matched to a passion. He is shown as a conviction politician. Alas, that hasn’t been true since. "Kerry’s speeches in the 1990’s read nothing like that 1971 testimony. The passion is gone. The pompous prevaricator is in. You read them and you see a man so cautiously calculating not to put a foot wrong that he envelops himself in a fog of caveats and equivocations. You see a man losing the ability to think like a normal human being and starting instead to think like an embassy.

Tough decisions are evaded through the construction of pointless distinctions. Hard questions are verbosely straddled. Kerry issued statements endorsing the use of force in the Balkans so full of backdoor caveats you couldn’t tell if he was coming or going. He delivered a tough-sounding speech on urban poverty filled with escape clauses he then exploited when the criticism came.

Most people take a certain pride in their own opinions. They feel attached to them as part of who they are. But Kerry can be coldly detached from his views, willing to use, flip or hide them depending on the exigencies of the moment."

Joshua Muravchik walks us through Kerry’s Cambodia whopper, and reminds us that this is something he has repated his whole adult life, yet it was not true. John O’Sullivan explains that the Swifties are after him because of his testimony is 1971, and that is not something Kerry can hide from; it’s on film and it’s not a re-enactment.
Rich Lowry
says that Kerry is taking an enourmous risk calling the Swifties liars; this is a civil war between Vietnam vets, and the vast majority of vets are not going to forgive him for what he said and did in 1971.

Jeff Jacoby says that the media want Kerry to win: "what is true for most people is true for journalists, too: When you want something badly enough, it shows." Mark Steyn adds a few thoughts of his own on how Kerry told everyone to "bring it on!" and now he is demanding that it be called off. I like these lines: "I said a couple of weeks back that John Kerry was too strange to be President, and a week or two earlier that he was too stuck-up to be President. Since I’m on an alliterative roll, let me add that he’s too stupid to be President. What sort of idiot would make the centrepiece of his presidential campaign four months of proud service in a war he’s best known for opposing?" Chris Lynch chronicles how not to run a campaign.

Language and thought

This is a short, but interesting article on

language in The Economist. It reports on a tribe in Brazil that refuses to be assimilated; they barter, have no concept of money, and, hence, it would seem, do not need to use numbers. No nimble thought here (what is language, what is the world without language, what do Chomsky and Whorf, never mind Aristotle and Rousseau, have to do with it?), but such things rarely make the weekly news.

"The Pirahã, a group of hunter-gatherers who live along the banks of the Maici River in Brazil, use a system of counting called “one-two-many”. In this, the word for “one” translates to “roughly one” (similar to “one or two” in English), the word for “two” means “a slightly larger amount than one” (similar to “a few” in English), and the word for “many” means “a much larger amount”. In a paper just published in Science, Peter Gordon of Columbia University uses his study of the Pirahã and their counting system to try to answer a tricky linguistic question.

This question was posed by Benjamin Lee Whorf in the 1930s. Whorf studied Hopi, an Amerindian language very different from the Eurasian languages that had hitherto been the subject of academic linguistics. His work led him to suggest that language not only influences thought but, more strongly, that it determines thought."

Wheelock’s Latin text

Although this AP story is mostly about a new edition of Wheelock’s Latin, the text most often used in college Latin classes, it mentions the publishing industry’s need to continue with new editions, even when not needed. A new edition of Wheelock will soon appear (the first edition appeared in 1956):

"There are photographs, maps and eye-pleasing layouts. Exercises reflect the latest pedagogical theory. Readings feature fewer battlefield dispatches and more emphasis on women and everyday life. There is even a dirty poem by Catullus.

Wheelock’s also has a Web site, e-mail discussion groups and, soon, online audio recordings.

’The times, they are a-changing,’ says Richard LaFleur, the University of Georgia classicist who took over the editorship of the series in the mid-1990s following Wheelock’s 1987 death. ’We want to keep up with the changes.’

Latin, however, hasn’t changed for 2,000 years. And where publishers see essential updates, critics of high textbook prices often wonder if new editions aren’t just a ploy to raise prices."

9/11 Commission Staff Reports

Before closing up shop, the 9/11 Commission released two staff reports. This CNN story claims that they "reveal tantalizing and important new nuggets about the 9/11 plot? including the possibility that 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta and another hijacker visited an INS office in Miami together in May 2001 with Adnan Shukrijumah, a trained pilot who today remains one of the most wanted al-Qaeda terrorists with a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head. The commission also revealed new but ambiguous evidence of a financial connection between one of the hijackers and a Saudi national in San Diego, and declares that this is the only known instance of a hijacker potentially receiving a noteworthy sum of money from someone inside the U.S." This is the Terrorist Financing (PDF file, 150 pages), and this is the one on Terrorist Travel (PDF file, 240 pages).

Kerry’s two Vietnams

Mac Owens pretty much nails down the Kerry, Swifties, and Vietnam issue in one good article. He says that he regrets that so much of the commentary stemming from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads focuses on what Kerry did in Nam. He thinks the real point of it all is what Kerry did and said after he got back. I agree with Mac in this and think that the Swit Boats’ efforts have already brought Kerry’s anti-war activity to the attention of the public. It is that activity that really makes the Swifties angry, hence their work. Mac’s last paragraph: "As a correspondent pointed out to me in an e-mail, each episode of the HBO series Band of Brothers, begins with a voiceover in which the narrator says of the World War II soldiers portrayed in the program: ’I was not a hero, but I was surrounded by heroes.’ In contrast, what John Kerry is saying in essence about his ’band of brothers’ is that ’in Vietnam, I was a hero, but I was surrounded by war criminals.’"   

Demos and 527’s connections

In case you are curious (and you certainly shouldn’t be surprised) about the connections between the Demos and 527’s (, etc) see

Jay Caruso and Questions and Observations. Also see this, and this.

Koch supports Bush

Arthur Chrenkoff applauds Democrat Ed Koch’s support of Bush, as do I. Koch calls himself a "liberal with sanity."

A Kerry note

Grantings is a new blog by one Elihu Grant. If you are looking for something thoughtful, written with verve, full of insight, you had better have a look. A taste: "John Kerry is now reduced to lashing out at the unstoppable force of nature in American politics: the frank and open deliberation of the American people. Thus, he is now calling for censorship of his critics, and declaring all challenges to his implausible Vietnam (and Cambodia) claims to be beyond-the-pale-of-discussion ’lies.’

These are the convulsions of being confronted with a reality that serenely refuses to bend to one’s will."

Olympics softball

The women have won the gold in softball in spectacular fashion. Congratulations. It is hard to imagine that the game could be played better. Compare this to the way basketball has been played!

Electoral College note

Paul Greenberg also supports the electoral college. It’s good, as far as it goes, but keep in mind that we are trying to establish a constitutional majority, and note the penultimate paragraph in this.

Worry in the Kerry Camp

Making front-page headlines in this morning’s New York Times is this story about the Kerry campaign’s new ad, which claims that those devastating spots from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth originated from the White House. What’s really interesting is this comment from an insider at Kerry headquarters:

Another Democrat close to the campaign, who asked not to be quoted by name, was more dire.

"When you’re basically running on your biography and there are ongoing attacks that are undermining the credibility of your biography, you have a really big problem."

In other news, Bob Dole has weighed in on the controversy as well, suggesting that Kerry apologize to his fellow Vietnam vets for his antiwar testimony in 1971:

"I mean, one day he’s saying that we were shooting civilians, cutting off their ears, cutting off their heads, throwing away his medals or his ribbons,’’ Mr. Dole said. "The next day he’s standing there, ’I want to be president because I’m a Vietnam veteran.’ ’’

Why liberals are liberal; and conservatives, conservative

Although no amount of modern science will ever replace Aristotle, an article in the New York Times Magazine says that some neuroscientists now believe that structures in the amygdala (the part of the brain associated with emotion) have a powerful influence on a person’s political opinions. Fortunately, the scientists do not conclude that conservativism is a mental illness.

Student plagiarists and their web sites

Suzy Hansen examines the ease with which a student can--via the internet--buy papers on just about everything. She gives examples of plagiarism web sites, costs involved, and the kind of paper you might get for your buck. It turns out that a custom-written paper on "The Great Gatsby" is pretty good, but costs $180, while the prewritten paper was awful, but cost only $35. So far I have avoided such mischief by assigning papers that are text based and entirely analytical (rather than research papers). But, still, it is a bit frigtening. I guess it’s a good thing that our students have less money than say those attending Ivy League schools!

Europe and us

Jose Manuel Barroso, the incoming chief executive of the European Union, is sounding reasonable. Note a few of his comments: "Some people in Europe may think that it is good that things are going badly for the U.S. I really think that is an irrational and a bad policy." He said he wanted a "good, close, cooperative" relationship with the U.S. This is not only in Europe’s interest, but "it is also in the interest of the world." He also said Europeans should "leave behind our disagreements over Iraq" and "give positive, strong contribution to the Iraqi problem." Now, that’s a lot better than what we have been hearing from some European quarters, just as John Zvesper had predicted a few weeks ago.

Presidential election and the federal principle

George Will is right in arguing that Colorado’s pernicious proposal to change the winner-take-all allocation of the state’s electoral vote into one of dividing the electoral votes according to each candidate’s percentage of the popular vote would be a horror. This appeals to simple-minded majoritarians and is extremely dangerous. Will explains why the current federal system is directly related to constitutional government rightly understood, which includes an appreciation for the two party system. This is a very critical issue. Also see the links the electoral college at the Ashbrook site. Those of you living in Colorado had better pay attention!    

Kerry and the POW/MIA issue

Here is something from the February 24th edition of the Village Voice on how Kerry covered up evidence of MIA’s in Vietnam while serving as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on P.O.W./ M.I.A. Affairs. This was dug up by Indstapundit. Thanks.

Video games and war

Clive Thompson has a very interesting (and long) article in today’s Sunday New York Times Magazine on advanced computerized combat simulations (video games) that the military uses to train soldiers for war.  

The blogosphere’s wild ride

Powerline writes an enthusiastic piece on how and why the blogosphere is affecting the elite media, driving the news cycle; and it is going to be even more exciting in the next few months. Also note the connection between blogs and talk radio. That the media has seen all this too late is a perfect example of their inability to think strategically and creatively, surely the signs of a slow death. Mors certa, hora incerta. Our guys are fighting the current and future war while they are preparing to re-fight the last one. That’s fine with me.