This Reuters out of Canada is interesting for two reasons. One, "wine labeled with a photo of brutal Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin was pulled from shelves in the Canadian province of Manitoba this week." The sherry and port came from the Massandra winery in Ukraine, it was an attempt to commemorate the Yalta conference held near the winery sixty years ago. (The photo included FDR and Churchill). A Canadian with Ukranian roots objected. He said: "I dont think anyone in Canada would welcome a Hitler Riesling or a Stalin sherry or a Pol Pot port or a Mao Tse-tung merlot." Second, notice that the article says this: "About 3 percent of Canadians, or more than 1 million people, identify themselves as ethnic Ukrainians in census surveys." Whoa! Thats a lot of Ukranians. Could that be right? The very next sentence says: "About 40,000 Ukrainian political refugees moved to Canada after World War II." I guess a lot more Ukrainians have moved to Canada since, or, theyre not penguins. I didnt know.
Here’s the new version, published in In These Times, which I recall as a product of the 60s and which calls itself "a magazine of news, opinion and culture, committed to extending political and economic democracy and to opposing the tyranny of the marketplace over human values." While the slander of James Watt is gone, the rest of the article remains intact, including a slimy and out-of-context reference to a statement by Zell Miller. (The fact that Miller actually said what Moyers said he said is, I guess, sufficient warrant for a "journalist" of Moyers’ caliber--take that as you will--to wrench it out of context and attribute an entirely different meaning to it.)
Also remaining in the article is the implication that politicians supported by religious conservatives (most of the Republican leadership in the House and Senate, for example) probably support changing our environmental regulatory regime, not to mention upholding our friendship with Israel, for the reasons Moyers attributes to believers in the Rapture. By the same logic, I suppose, the fact that "rapturous Christian Zionists" support Israel must mean that most Israelis agree with their expectations regarding the "end times."
I should stop here, but I can’t resist adding this. Moyers started out putting words in James Watt’s mouth and distorting the words in Zell Miller’s mouth. He was called on both of these points, but has not backed off the second. Clearly he doesn’t respond to subtlety (and surely he’s incapable of it on his own). So I feel compelled to add--only for Mr. Moyers, not for the readers of this blog who are clearly quicker on the uptake--that the religious right is a demonstrably diverse group, not all of whom hold to the version of the "end times" about which Mr. Moyers is so worried. That religious conservatives support Republicans is thus far from prima facie evidence that they support the Republican environmental regulatory regime; Blaine Harden’s WaPo article ought to be sufficient to lay that line of reasoning to rest. The same "nuanced" line of reasoning should (but of course won’t) lead Mr. Moyers to the conclusion that the Republican environmental regulatory regime might follow from considerations other than those available to readers of the Book of Revelation. There are, after all, scientists and economists who support the Bush Administration on these matters too.
Again, I apologize for having to spell all this out. It’s not for you, gentle readers, it’s for him.
Update: For more on this, see John Hinderakers Weekly Standard piece and Byrons Yorks article for Front Page. Its quite clear, among other things, if you read Moyerss source, this article in the online journal Grist, that at least a portion of his own speech/article almost qualifies as plagiarism. Indeed, the logical flaws I identified above come not from Moyers mind, but from that of Glenn Scherer, the author of the Grist piece.
Since Peter just mentioned Allen Guelzos book--Guelzo, it may be recalled, spoke at the Ashbrook Center last year--it is surely worth bringing up here that he has just become the first two-time winner of the annual Lincoln Prize. The prize is endowed by Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Guelzo won the first time in 2000 for his book Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President. The second award was for Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America. Hats off to him for this outstanding achievement.
Today is Lincoln’s birthday. Celebrate by reading and remembering why he is worth remembering. Here are couple of things worth a look. My review of Guelzo’s book on the Emancipation Proclamation; Lucas Morel’s review of three books on Lincoln; a good essay by Scott Johnson & John Hinderaker. And you might want to read Second Inaugural.
Adam Dubitsky makes a good point about the AARP’s extreme stance on Social Security:
News reports have pegged AARP’s initial advertising blitz at $5 million; one could also assume that a forest’s worth of trees will be felled in the accompanying direct mail campaign. Before AARP members make up their minds about President Bush’s proposed private account option, they may want to peruse another AARP document: its consolidated financial statement.
n 1998, AARP began the transition from its defined benefit pension plan (such plans are crippling many of the nation’s airlines, steel mills and factories) and began offering its younger workers the option of diverting a portion of their paychecks into private accounts. The full transition will take decades, as older AARP retirees and their spouses continue to receive benefits promised under the old system.
Its time for AARP to live up to its credo and stop opposing the very system of private accounts that has served its members and employees so well.
Read it all. Powerful.
Over at The Corner there is a conversation about conservative professors on college campuses. The conversation, in part, is brought about by the Ward Churchill flap (which John Moser notes below), but the issues in fact has been around for a long time. Note Steve Haywards comments at The Corner (and click down for more). Hayward rightly states this:
I went to Claremont for political science 25 years ago because it was one of the few graduate programs that had more than one conservative on the faculty, and had a curriculum that covered serious instead of frivolous subjects. About one-fourth to one-third of the relevant faculty, and roughly half of the graduate students in the department, were conservatives, which meant that we totally dominated the place. This is what liberals really fear: they may tolerate one conservative in isolation, but get two and you have a critical mass that takes over the place. Allow three conservatives on campus and it is all over for them. At Claremont it drove the new lefties crazy that they had do few students doing dissertations with them. To their great credit, some of the old New Deal liberals on the faculty (such people are downright right-wing on todays campus) recognized that their best students were the conservatives who came to study with Harry Jaffa, Bill Allen, Jim Nichols, Harold Rood, etc and spilled over to their courses. That made some of the old liberals our allies in the academic fights. It is a long sad story, but Claremont Graduate University (not yet Claremont Mckenna College, but watch out) mostly succumbed to political correctness and trendiness.
The main points are two: First, the old New Deal liberals were actually allies of conservative students for the most part because they either recognized that their best students were conservatives and/or they recognized that the post-1960s New Left were really quite off the mark and even dangerous; and the conservatives on campus were helping the old-fashioned liberals defend themselves from the New Left attacks. (This is a pregnant point: Why couldnt the Old Liberals defend their own liberal principles from the New Left? Oddly, so-called conservatives had to do it for them; this proved the downfall of the Old Liberals. I say in passing that I have never met an old fashioned liberal with whom I couldnt work, nor have I met a post-1960s so-called liberal with whom I could work.) Second, Hayward is right in saying that when you get more than one conservative on a campus (especially in the same department) an intellectual tidal wave starts that is very hard to stop and the new liberals get angry. Why is this? It is partly the result of the fact that the so-called conservatives are more reasonable, more open, and more prone to allow for dissent in the classroom; and this is apprecaited by students. It is also, and perhaps more importantly, because of the students. The intellectual and moral disposition of most students (at least in the non-ivy league institutions) is rather more conservative than most people think. They are not disposed to think that the U.S. is a bad regime, or that there is no isness to is, or that God is dead, or that so called literary criticism should replace reading Shakespeare. This latter really irritates liberal professors on campuses: they have lost the students; they can no longer energize them, move them in their direction as they once did.
What to do about the liberal domination? That is a big question, of course. But, given the institutional arrangements, I can understand why so-called conservative graduate students go into something else than teaching. Life can be rough in the academy if you are a conservative. The march through the academic institutions by conservatives will take about fifty more years, and this is partly due to the structure of a university. I can also understand why people get impatient and want to pass laws, like the one proposed by Ohio State Senator Larry Mumper, that would (at least at state institutions) that would legislate that professors have to include diverse opinions in the classroom. The AP story on this states: "The proposal in Ohio to create an academic bill of rights would prohibit public and private college professors from presenting opinions as fact or penalizing students for expressing their views. Professors would not be allowed to introduce controversial material unrelated to the course." State Senator Mumper calls this an "academic bill of rights." This is a bad idea for a number of reasons (one is that it cannot be done, the other is that it should not be done). And I dont think it will get anywhere, by the way. I understand the temptation to have an easy legislative solution to such a problem; the problem is much deeper than that, however.
By now youve all heard about the Ward Churchill flap at the University of Colorado. You might have found yourselves wondering how a conservative in the Colorado public university system would be treated if he made controversial statements.
Well, wonder no more. Back in 1997 Luis Chavez, a history professor at Pikes Peak Community College, satirized th proliferation of ethnic studies programs by submitting a mock proposal for a "Gringo American Studies" program. He was suspended.
But wait, theres more! Chavez appealed the decision, and it was overturned, but when his department chair, Katherine Sturdevant, testified on his behalf at the appeals hearing, "the administration stripped her of her chairmanship of the history department, took away her office on the college’s new campus, reassigned her to the older campus, removed her from various college committees, denied her merit raises, and gave her a negative evaluation after twelve years of positive performance reviews."
Professor Sturdevant decided to take legal action, and, four years later, a federal court ordered that she be reinstated, and that the college award her $75,000 and a raise.
Civil War historian James McPherson, the author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning book, Battle Cry of Freedom, will be at the Ashbrook Center today at 3:00pm speaking on his latest book, Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam. You can listen online by clicking here.
Now that North Korea has admitted that it has nukes,
and thereby also admitting that it has been lying for a while (including to Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter), the stakes are getting very interesting. China is the one who could apply most pressure, of course. This will become interesting.
The Belmont Club has more thoughts (click down).
For two years in a row, Georgia’s Republican Governor Sonny Perdue has been promoting a measure to bring our state’s constitutional provisions in line with the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment, which, of course, is not perfect, but better than what we have here in the Peach State. The current provision reads as follows:
No money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, cult, or religious denomination or of any sectarian institution.
As it currently stands, this language prohibits much of what comprises the faith-based initiative at the federal level, permitting only contracting with largely secularized organizations, like Catholic Social Services. A working mother could not take a state-provided child care voucher and redeem it at a church-based pre-school. An addict could not use a state-provided voucher to receive services from a faith-based rehab program. And, obviously and most importantly, no parent could use a voucher to send his or her kids to a religious school.
That, indeed, is the rub, the principal reason that opponents of the proposed amendment prevailed yesterday in the state senate, with the measure falling three votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority.
The irony is that the argument deployed in opposition assumes that the current constitution prohibits vouchers, such as those currently given to Georgia students attending private (including church-related) colleges and universities and those financed through the state lottery for pre-kindergarten. The wildly popular HOPE Scholarship also is redeemable at church-related colleges and universities. So either the opponents of the Governor’s proposal are wrong, and the state constitution already permits what they say is their principal fear, or they’re right, and some of the most popular programs in Georgia--the cornerstones of our effort to raise ourselves from the bottom of national educational rankings--are unconstitutional, existing either because no one had been foolish (or smart) enough to sue or because judges are willing to overlook the plain meaning of Georgia’s constitutional language.
Sorry for intruding this "parochial" concern on this page, but it’s the only place I can vent. And Georgia’s battle is, after all, a microcosm of what occurs across the country, indicative of obstacles the faith-based initiative faces on the ground.
Oh, oh. President Bush is reading books, Richard Cohen notes. This proves that he is taking things seriously. In Bush reading is an "ominous sign," according to Cohen. Bush is proving that he is unorthodox, and his former image is fading. The scoffing has stopped. "Because Bush is certain he can bend history, he just might become one of those American Presidents who is thought to have made a difference. The most recent was Ronald Reagan."
I’m tempted to put Cohen on the couch, but let’s just leave this as is and say that Cohen is admitting, however reluctantly, that Bush is a serious person. That will do. The Senate
has "approved a measure Thursday to help shield businesses from major class action lawsuits like the ones that have been brought against tobacco companies, giving President Bush the first legislative victory of his second term." The vote was 72-26. And the House
has passed a bill that makes sure that states do note give drivers licenses to illegal aliens. The vote was 261-161.
There might be more to this than meets the eye, but I dont see it yet. It is at least a dispute over a grade. A teacher in a prep school in Chicago
has been accused of inappropriate conduct for using a racial slur. The teacher has written a letter of apology.
reports that a fifteen member regional African group is not recognizing the new president of Togo and they are threatening sanctions. The current president is the son of the former president, and the constitution was changed by the legislature in order to allow him to take over the day after his father died. This is a short essay on what has been going on in Togo by a former Peace Corps volunteer. He asks why the U.S. is not more involved. Im trying to find out what the French are doing, if anything.
Here is a brief report of a talk by Francis Fukuyama at the University of Chicago a few days ago.
Andrew Busch was an undergraduate at the University of Colorado. He has a special interest in this ill-named Ward Churchill. Busch modestly advises:
Instead of being fired, perhaps he should be studied and examined, much as one might probe the victim of a once-rare psychiatric disorder that has become rampant. Ward Churchill might be more valuable to the opponents of the academic left employed than unemployed.
Terrence Moore wrote a long and very good essay on Bush’s rhetoric, using Bush’s Second Inaugural speech. We have published it as an Ashbrook Dialogue so that you can use it at will, including for classroom pruposes. The title is revealing: "A Lot of ’Liberty,’ Not a Lot of ’Prudence’?:
President Bush and the Western Rhetorical Tradition" It is about ten pages in PDF format. A sample:
As Americans, we have inherited our rhetorical tradition from two different sources, two cities that demand particular kinds of citizenship: Athens and Jerusalem. All great speeches or public utterances in American history have been inspired by one or both of these rhetorical traditions. President Bush’s Second Inaugural is arguably a great speech because he has combined these two traditions in order to define the American mission not only for his second term, but for this coming century. The question remains whether he has left unspoken a part of this tradition that would prevent us from a fatal overreaching.
Just in case you are a bit pessimistic about the movement toward real peace in the Mid East, note this. Palestinian President Abbas did something quite interesting today: He "fired three of his top security chiefs on Thursday after militants, puncturing a cease-fire he reached with Israel, bombarded Jewish settlements in Gaza with mortar rounds."
Condi Rice has made her first trip aborad. You have seen reports on it for days, and this Arizona Republic editorial nicely captures the effect: "The European media are falling all over themselves parsing her ambiguities." This is exactly what we wanted. A little movement (maybe a lot) in the Middle East, a little support from the Germans, nothing especially antagonistic from the French, and everyone thinking that this is a smart, subtle (and good looking) Secretary of State. How do you say "darn it" in French? Welcome home Condi.
Addition: A kind reader sends this: "One says zut or zut alors. The vowel is pronounced midway between the
oo in pool and the oo in foot." Thank you.
The Hill reports that "some Democrats in Republican-dominated states already look to be putting distance between themselves and incoming Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Howard Dean, the Vermont firebrand." Also note this: "These Democrats insist that Dean...won’t be a political liability, despite Republican efforts to turn him into a national whipping boy." John Kerry, by the way, has donated $1 million to the DNC.
In case John Kerry thinks he has a chance of beating Hillary in 2008, note that a Sufforlk University poll of voters in Mass. finds that Hillary Clinton beats John Kerry in a 2008 prsidential primary matchup, 51-34%. I guess everyone in the state has seen his performance on Meet the Press, or, they just remember his campaign.
The good news yesterday was that Democratic Senator Mark Dayton (MN) will not run for re-elecgtion. Too bad, easy seat to win for the GOP, it seemed to me. But then even better news showed up: It looks like Al Franken will run for the seat. Excellent. The good news just continues to roll in.
Addendum: Apparently, at the end of his radio show today, Franken said he will not run in 2006, but may run against Coleman in 2008, according to the AP.
Terry Mattingly has this interesting post on Baylor, God on the Quad, and Bob Jones University. The most interesting portions are on BJU (follow the link to this Newsweek interview) and, in the comments section, on Baylor.
Update: You can find reviews of God on the Quad here and here, and an interview with Naomi Schaefer Riley here. I’m still withholding final judgment, but here’s the lead paragraph from the first review linked above:
If the past two decades have been an era of religious revival in America--what some observers have called the fourth Great Awakening in the nation’s history--the predominantly secular world of U.S. higher education seems at first glance to have been remarkably untouched by the spirit of the times. Large majorities of undergraduates, for instance, say they seek meaning and purpose in their lives, yet just 8 percent report hearing professors discuss spiritual or religious issues in or out of the classroom, according to a major study of campus religious life by University of California-Los Angeles researchers. "There is a poor fit today between students’ interest in spiritual matters and the universities’ general lack of interest in those concerns," says Alexander Astin, founder of UCLA’ s Higher Education Research Institute.
And then there’s this from
Rarely is the watering down of a college’s religious commitments spelled out so clearly than in the revisions to the Davidson College Statement of Purpose and bylaws, approved last week by the board of trustees.
No longer does the North Carolina college seek "ties which bind the college to the Presbyterian Church." (Davidson has official ties to the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.) Now it’s "ties that bind the college to its Presbyterian heritage." And where the school used to "intend that this vital relationship be continued to the mutual benefit of church and school," it now doesn’t say that it wants to benefit the church.
Likewise, the new statement dropped the line that it’s "a college whose tradition commits it to nurture the life of the spirit."
Fortunately, the trustees rejected the most astounding change proposed by ad hoc committee of its members. The proposal had "Davidson commits itself to a Christian tradition that recognizes God as the source of all truth" replaced with "The religious tradition that has shaped Davidson recognizes God as the source of all truth." The final version now says "The Christian tradition to which Davidson remains committed recognizes God as the source of all truth."
Ted Olson, who compiles CT’s weblog, which I consistently find extremely useful, concludes in the following way:
At Davidson, apparently, it’s best to view religion as an old historical thing that’s shaped stuff in the past rather than something that "nurtures the life of the spirit" and has an active, present role in directing one’s educational aims.
For those concerned about religion and higher education, this is an interesting case study. Davidson is one of the crown jewels among
PCUSA-afilliated colleges and universities. I suspect that the trustees are simply acknowledging and acquiescing in facts already on the ground, rather than actually charting a new course for the institution. But this recognition or surrender--consigning religion to the dusty bookshelf, if not the dustbin, of history--bespeaks the difficulty of maintaining a serious connection with one’s religious heritage in the face of a pervasive public culture whose preferred response to religious pluralism is to stress secularism or to change the subject.
For Davidson’s somewhat different take on its changes, go here.
Update #2: A friend writes from North Carolina:"there has been a gradual decoupling from the Presbyterian church over the last several years, much to the dismay of a number of bright and thoughtful religious students of mine. It will, however, take several years for Davidson to assimilate entirely to the homogenous, indistinguishable academic establishment--above all because there is an active Christian subculture among a sizable minority of students."
I remember that song from when I lived in the Bay Area a long long time ago. The next line had something to do with tying up your boat in Idaho, after an earthquake centered on the San Andreas Fault had caused the slate to slip into the ocean. Joel Kotkin offers us a somewhat less apocalyptic version of that vision here, arguing that things like affordable housing and business-friendly political climates are attracting talent away from backward-looking "Euro-America" (you know, New York, Boston, San Francisco...) to places like Boise and Reno. But before all you Karl Rove wannabes out there start celebrating, Kotkin offers this caution:
CONSERVATIVES AND REPUBLICANS have reasons to celebrate the conflict between a slowly declining Euro-America and the cities of aspiration. Yet the future may not be so easy to predict. Success, defined as increased jobs and population, has a way of turning cities of aspiration toward a more European worldview.
This has already occurred in places like Los Angeles and Silicon Valley, where public employees have made common cause with wealthy environmentalists, resulting in a kind of one-party, status-quo politics. Over time, this phenomenon could spread to today’s aspirational cities. As places like even Phoenix, Houston, and Reno grow, become congested, and attract refugees from Euro-America, a powerful lobby against economic expansion will start to develop.
These issues tend to gain currency as traffic jams worsen, schools get overcrowded, and the countryside recedes. And while conservatives offer bromides about the free market, open space grows more scarce, and infrastructure, including schools and roads, is neglected. This failure opens the door to liberals and Democrats, even in states such as Nevada, Arizona, and Florida.
But, in the end, he argues:
Euro-American politics do not work in aspirational cities. Where and when such policies do become influential, companies, entrepreneurs, and individuals will seek their future elsewhere, in places where they don’t have to subsidize fancy nightclubs, art galleries, gay bars, and yuppie lofts, or pay the freight for inefficient public-sector bureaucracies. If the contagion takes over Phoenix, these restless Americans will move further out, into the unregulated exurbs or deeper into the hinterland, to Boise, the Salt Lake Valley, or beyond.
The American future belongs to those places where people can most fully engage in their private pursuit of happiness. The party--and the politicians--that can appeal to these voters, wherever they are, will be the one likely to win political power.
"People I talk to and want to recruit seem more than willing to come here," notes Reno entrepreneur Darik Volpa. "It’s a different feel here. It’s more friendly, people open doors. In the Bay Area or Boston, it’s get in line. Here it’s still open to new people and new ideas."
I have some hesitations about this line of argument, as, apparently does Kotkin, who makes a somewhat different one
here. In this past weekend’s WaPo, he argues that the latest developments seem to suggest a desire on our part to replicate some of the "communal" features of cities--walkable neighborhoods, cultural and religious institutions, and so on--in the suburbs. This isn’t the private pursuit of happiness simply, and it’s a lot closer to James Howard Kunstler’s vision than Kotkin wants to admit. Kunstler, by the way, has delivered a lecture, sponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute on "Why Conservatives Should Care About the New Urbanism."
My own view, briefly stated, is that safe walkable neighborhoods are ultimately more kid-friendly than typical suburban tracts. (And we all know, I say only somewhat facetiously, that children are the glue of the community. To restate a hackneyed point: "It takes a bunch of kids to raise a village.") Wherever you can produce housing that is kid-friendly, you’ll have population growth. So put the doggone new urbanist developments where we want them, where our kids can be safe!
I hasten to add that I am not anti-"Euro-America" or anti-urban: cities still have a prominent place in our economic and cultural lives (Kotkin nails that one in his Weekly Standard piece), and I’m not about to demand that all students and bohemians abandon their "enlightenements."
Update: Ken Masugi has a post full of interesting and provocative thoughts about related issues here.
What do people think about this? Heres a sample:
President Bushs second-term agenda would expand not only the size of the federal government but also its influence over the lives of millions of Americans by imposing new national restrictions on high schools, court cases and marriages.
In a clear break from Republican campaigns of the 1990s to downsize government and devolve power to the states, Bush is fostering what amounts to an era of new federalism in which the national government shapes, not shrinks, programs and institutions to comport with various conservative ideals, according to Republicans inside and outside the White House.
A brief observation (dental work today, so Ill be "remarkably passive"): some of what the Post is describing is principled conservative push-back against liberal activists (e.g., the gay marriage amendment); some of it is a variation on the theme of federally-driven devolution and "privatization" (e.g., the faith-based initiative); Im prepared to defend this stuff. Im less prepared to defend "No Adolescent Left Behind" because I was never really keen on "No Child Left Behind" as the solution to our education problems. Id prefer school choice (yes, vouchers), but teachers union resistance makes that extremely hard to sell. So politicians are driven to ham-handed accountability measures like No Child Left Behind, to which many schools respond by "teaching to the test," which is the easy way out.
O.K., Im going to go turn on the television and stare at it until the pain pills start working.
This, front page, above the fold, story in the New York Times on Branson Online, an internet-based public school that is national but was founded locally (Branson, Colorado). I find this especially interesting. Apparently, such online public schools--attached to sponsoring districts--are experiencing "explosive growth." This has become an attractive alternative for parents "who wish to supervise their childrens education at home, and for students who hold jobs or are disbaled." There is more to be said on this interesting phenomenon (related, obviously to charter schools and vouchers); I find it very interesting and will look into it and report back.
One aspect of the whole Eason Jordan affair that is bouncing around the blogosphere that has gone unremarked is the fact that two people who continue to corroborate the worst version of Jordans remarks are two certified world-class liberals, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. This suggests that Jordans remarks really were egregious and beyond the pale, though of course the wimpy David Gergen could be relied upon to gloss everything over. (Gergens role in this sent me scurrying for Michael Kellys wonderful description of Gergen back in 1993: "To be Gergenized is to be spun by the velveteen hum of this soothing mans smoothing voice into a state of such vertigo that the sense of what is real disappears into a blur." Michael, do we ever miss you.)
If one ponders the Frank-Dodd resolution and forthrightness in this matter, it is possible that what we are seeing here is a couple of very smart Democrats recognizing when it is politically smart to stand up and defend Americas military from scurrilous attack. In other words, maybe Frank and Dodd have absorbed the election returns.
A second such indicator came during Treasury Secretary Snows testimony about the budget yesterday in the House. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (who once asked NASA if th Mars Rover could find the spot where our astronauts landed in in 1969) said Social Security could be saved simply by raising taxes on the very rich. Suddenly Charlie Wrangel intervened to disavow Lee, and say that such an idea was not (yet) the policy of the Democratic Party.
Who says these guys will never learn?
This is the new Gallup Poll showing that Bush has a 57% appproval rating (up from 51% three weeks ago), with only 40% saying they dont approve. There is more. That the Democrats are having a bit of a time of it at the moment is an understatement. I remind you of this
Noemie Emery article, "The Dems Week from Hell," I mentioned a few days ago.
Karl Rove will become a deputy White House chief of staff in charge of coordinating policy between the White House Domestic Policy Council, National Economic Council, National Security Council and Homeland Security Council. He has been a senior advisor to the President, and responsible for expanding the Republican base, one might say. Although he has been involved in policy matters, this will solidify his authority (as if he needed more solid ground upon which to stand!), and proves that Bush is serious about his agenda, including Social Security.
This piece from the New York Times is a surprisingly sympathetic review of the reviews, especially those that appeared in campus publications. The author points to the phenomenon described by Naomi Schaefer Rileys God on the Quad as a response and possible antidote to the corruption Wolfe describes.
Other little essays on Wolfe that are worth reading can be found here and here. My old friend Carol McNamara anticipates some of the Charlotte Simmons themes in an article published in the current Perspectives on Political Science.
As for Naomi Schaefer Rileys book, Im in the middle of it, having persuaded the good people at Touchstone to let me review it. Let it not be said that she doesnt start with what some might regard as the toughest institutions to sell to a general readership, BYU and BJU. For a snarky review of the book, you can go here. I promise you, it wont influence me.
This is interesting:
When Judge Hamoud al-Hitar announced that he and four other Islamic scholars would challenge Yemens Al Qaeda prisoners to a theological contest, Western antiterrorism experts warned that this high-stakes gamble would end in disaster.
Nervous as he faced five captured, yet defiant, Al Qaeda members in a Sanaa prison, Judge Hitar was inclined to agree. But banishing his doubts, the youthful cleric threw down the gauntlet, in the hope of bringing peace to his troubled homeland.
If you can convince us that your ideas are justified by the Koran, then we will join you in your struggle," Hitar told the militants. "But if we succeed in convincing you of our ideas, then you must agree to renounce violence."
The prisoners eagerly agreed.
Now, two years later, not only have those prisoners been released, but a relative peace reigns in Yemen. And the same Western experts who doubted this experiment are courting Hitar, eager to hear how his "theological dialogues" with captured Islamic militants have helped pacify this wild and mountainous country, previously seen by the US as a failed state, like Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Since December 2002, when the first round of the dialogues ended, there have been no terrorist attacks here, even though many people thought that Yemen would become terrors capital," says Hitar, eyes glinting shrewdly from beneath his emerald-green turban. "Three hundred and sixty-four young men have been released after going through the dialogues and none of these have left Yemen to fight anywhere else."
Of course, you have to catch em first.
Read the whole thing.
Howard Dean is now the only candidate for DNC Chairman. Tim Roemer has withdrawn. He offered this warning to Democrats:
"I got into this race five weeks ago to talk about the devastating loss we experienced in November. It was not about 60,000 votes in Ohio. It was about losing 97 of the 100 fastest growing counties in the country. If thats a trend in business or politics youre in trouble."
Roemer also said that Republicans are in the strongest position theyve been in since the early 20th century. He is right.
I read the Nation article about which Joseph Knippenberg blogged. His characterization of it is wrong. Most of what it says is accurate, although it, like Knippenberg, misses the point. The issue in the founding was not the status of religion but the status of revealed religion or religion beyond the bounds of reason. It is undeniable, I think, that the Founding was at best neutral to revealed religion. Religion as subordinate to the needs of politics, what Knippenberg’s snippet from the Farewell Address discusses, was fine with the Founders but that is religion within the bounds of reason. It was not revealed religion, which is always some particular religion. Anyone is free to follow particular religions, according to the Founding, but none has any political authority. Madison in fact wanted lots of sects, as he called them, so that they would counteract one another. As a historical and political fact, the Founders’ understanding of religion turned out to be wrong. This is not my opinion but that of John Quincy Adams, who, unlike the Founders he knew personally, was an orthodox Christian.
Some time ago, I took up for Jim Wallis against the onslaughts of Katha Pollitt. His crime? Taking religion too seriously, which would bring back the Spanish Inquisition or the wars of religion.
Now The Nation is at it again, publishing a crude farrago, consisting mostly of snippets and quotations from Washington, Madison, Franklin, Jefferson, Tom Paine, and John Adams, all in an effort to expose the Bush Administration’s "lie" that America was founded on Christian principles. I must have missed something, since I don’t recall the President having made such a claim. Or is Brooke Allen taking as her point of departure the oft-repeated claim that liberty is God’s gift to humankind and making it much more robustly sectarian than it is. (Indeed, it would be ironic to invoke, as she does, Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, against this notion.)
Ann Althouse begins the demolition of Allen’s argument by noting that many of the Madison quotes are wrenched out of context from his "Memorial and Remonstrance," hardly an anti-religious work. I’ll add my two cents’ worth by noting Washington’s "Farewell Address":
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism who should labour to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. ’Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free Government. Who that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric.
I could go on at great length, but I’ll cite only one additional piece of evidence, a provision of
the "Northwest Ordinance", passed under the Articles of Confederation and repassed by the First Congress, which had a high proportion of constitution signatories:
Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.
Allen is surely right that some of the Founders were not conventionally religious men, but many more were. And even some of the "godless" founders thought that religion had an important public role to play. Hence the First Amendment enjoined the establishment of a national religion, but did not operate in any way, shape, or form to disestablish state religions. I think that it’s important to have a debate on the role of religion in American public life, but the folks at The Nation need to do more homework before they can hold up their end of the argument credibly.
By the way, most of the documents I cited in this post can be found on this totally wonderful Ashbrook site.
Update: Ramesh Ponnuru cant remember examples of the Bushian political rhetoric of which Brooke Allen complains either. And please see my response to David Tuckers post. I dont think were as far apart as he thinks.
Today was a good day. In my morning class on "Moral and Political Leadership," we were discussing Abraham Lincoln, relying on William Lee Millers very fine Lincolns Virtues. Taking as our point of departure Millers treatments of Lincolns stance on the Mexican-American War (ch. 7) and his role in the 1848 election (ch. 8), we worked toward a distinction between two different moral roles in political life--prophetic witness and statesmanship. Since both episodes in Lincolns life have close contemporary parallels, making a case for their relevance wasnt too terribly difficult. Since there is an awful lot of talk in contemporary religious circles about the role of the church in offering prophetic witness--speaking truth to power and letting the chips fall where they may (relying, in other words, on Providence)--I left my students with the following questions. Statesmen, who are responsible for the ongoing welfare, security, and prosperity of their communities, have to care about the consequences of their actions. They have to make decisions based upon moral principle, the best information they have available, and their best estimates of how others will respond to their actions. And as new situations emerge, they have to re-evaluate. A prophet called by God has a responsibility only to utter the word of the Lord. But how does the prophet know that he or she is called? How do we know that the prophet is called? How frequently is prophetic witness an explicitly and self-consciously political stance, in which case the same strictures regarding information, reactions, and consequences would seem to apply? In other words, is there really a sustainable distinction between prophetic witness and statesmanship, assuming that those who inhabit both roles are moral actors?
And then there was my afternoon class on "Liberal Education and Political Philosophy," in which we were supposed to get to Allan Blooms The Closing of the American Mind, but continued a discussion (begun last week) of Leo Strausss "Liberal Education and Responsibility" (from Liberalism Ancient and Modern). The issue I pressed my students on is the very "political" nature of Strausss presentation of the role of liberal education, as he addresses himself to people living in democratic times and treats specifically of the role of liberally educated people in a democracy. Why cant we have an "aristocracy of everyone"? Why cant we realize Marxs vision in The German Ideology, where everyone is a hunter in the morning, a fisherman in the afternoon, and a critical critic after dinner, i.e., where everyone acts in effect like a liberally educated person with leisure? And if we cant realize these goals, then why shouldnt we do the just thing and offer everyone the same "mediocre" education? How can we "justify" offering some an excellent (liberal) education that isnt available to everyone? How can people so educated profit those who dont share in their education?
Fun stuff that makes students heads hurt.
In American History magazine (April 2005), Dinesh D’Souza (now residing at the Hoover Institution as their Rishwain Scholar) has written an excellent defense of Lincoln for those unaware of the attacks Lincoln has received recently from the Libertarian and Southern Agrarian Right and the Liberal Left. "Abraham Lincoln as Statesman" argues that Lincoln’s greatness derives from his profound understanding of, and maneuvering within, the American tension between the equality of rights possessed by all human beings and the consent of the governed that produces legitimate political action. Here’s a teaser from the end of the article:
Lincoln was acutely aware that many people in the North were vehemently antiblack and saw themselves as fighting to save their country rather than to free slaves. Lincoln framed the case against the Confederacy in terms of saving the Union in order to maintain his coalition--a coalition whose victory was essential to the antislavery cause. And ultimately it was because of Lincoln that slavery came to an end...
In my view, Lincoln was the true "philosophical statesman," one who was truly good and truly wise. Standing in front of his critics, Lincoln is a colossus, and all of the Lilliputian arrows hurled at him bounce harmlessly to the ground. It is hard to put any other president--not even George Washington--in the same category as Abraham Lincoln. He is simply the greatest practitioner of democratic statesmanship that America and the world have yet produced.
Criag Shirleys book, Reagans Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign that Started it All, just landed on my desk and I was reminded that yesterday was Reagans birthday. Normally, that is, when I was younger, I would remember. Sorry about that. Shirleys book looks pretty good, it recounts how Reagan almost won the nomination in 1976. When notified that Reagan had picked the liberal Republican Senator Schweiker as his running mate (were he to get the nomination) Congressman John Ashbrook, according to Shirley, said that "was the dumbest thing I ever heard." He also said, according to Jeff Bell, who was deputized to tell Ashbrook who the choice was, "You can tell him that he [Reagan] can go plumb f___ himself." No one ever doubted where Ashbrook stood. Anyway, a belated Happy Birthday to the Gipper!
Both Ralph Peters and Mac Owens have opinions about Lt. Gen. Jim Mattis comment on a panel discussing the future of war (Peters was on the panel and Owens is a Marine) when he said Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot… It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you, I like brawling… You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.
Now, you can read their comments on your own; theyre both tried and true men. You dont really need my opinion on this one. Yet, I will just say this: It is good that our military is under civilian control and it is good that we have warriors in our military who understand that war is a harsh teacher and who understand that it is best of our enemy to say of us, "it is a terrible thing to fight the Americans." And it should be added, this is true even though the Americans are not Spartans. And yet, we should not do as the Ancient Greeks did: Elect our generals, or, discard them, exile them, indict them, or fine them, over almost nothing, even less than the great Greek generals Miltiades, Themosticles, Percicles, Alcibiades, and Epaminondas were. And certainly we cannot have the MSM or CAIR play the judge, jury and executioner of those who are willing to bleed for us. The General spoke honestly. He thought he was speaking to warriors; thats what he is used to. Imprudent, maybe, but no crime. I note in passing that the Budweiser commercial of soldiers getting off a plane, being appluaded by civilians, slowly coming to that recognition and smiling, was the best ad during the Super Bowl yesterday, according to polls. The Americans, though not Spartans, recognize the cruelty of war, as well as the need for honor. But then, the American citizen is not the MSM or CAIR, thank God.
Bill Clinton in 2002:
When I left office, there was enough money to keep Social Security going till 2053, enough money to keep Medicare going tail 2027, through half the life of the baby boomers. I don’t know what the latest numbers are going to show but they won’t be good. If we don’t modify the tax cut to have more tax cuts now but we reinstate fiscal responsibility over the long run, we’re going to be in real trouble there. So, what’s our option? If you don’t like privatizing Social Security and I don’t like it very much, but you want to do something to try to increase the rate of return, what are your options? Well one thing you could do is to give people one or two percent of the payroll tax, with the same options that Federal employees have with their retirement accounts; where you have three mutual funds that almost always perform as well or better than the market and a fourth option to buy government bonds, so you get the guaranteed social security return and a hundred percent safety just like you have with Social Security. (via Instapundit)
Yesterday I posted on an interesting article on evangelical environmentalism. This morning I updated it to take into account Powerline’s takedown of Bill Moyers’ sloppy effort to discredit religious conservatives on environmental grounds. While I can’t at the moment take credit for Powerline’s having noticed that the WaPo article repeated Moyers’ smear of James Watt (I did send them an email, but any number of their other faithful readers might have done the same), Hindrocket updated his post and indicated that he had asked WaPo to run a correction. Roughly fifteen minutes ago, I emailed Blaine Harden, the WaPo reporter, asking if there was any evidence to corroborate the Watt story. Within five minutes, I received a reply that the quote was a phony and that the Post will be running a correction tomorrow.
Checks and balances, folks. Wish we didn’t need them. Very glad we have them.
Update: Bill Moyers has apologized to James Watt on the telephone and will think about ways to publicize a written apology. Enough said.
Update #2: But wait, theres more. Bill Moyers isnt as repentant as I had originally thought.
The White House is downplaying expectations that the invitations to both Sharon and Abbas to come to Washington this Spring (separately) will lead to peace. And they should play down such expectations. Yet, the movement toward a serious settlement is clearly on the way. Condi Rice didnt visit with both men for nothing. The first steps have been taken. All this, of course, has to do with my prediction about Bushs Nobel Peace Prize. My note of a few weeks ago seemed to anger a lot of people, both on the left and right. Some have misunderstood me. Let me be clear. I do not care anything about the Nobel Peace Prize. I dont think Bush does, either. I said Bush would get it only to point to something obvious: Even the left, and the international left, even the MSM, and every other (well, almost every other) Bush hater will have to admit at a certain point (probably three years away, meybe less) that Bush might merit the Prize, if it were based on merit. Therefore, chances are very good that he will get it, if the world were just. If the Prize were based on merit he will end up getting it. Thats all I meant. Although it has to be admitted--the way the world works and all--that Jimmy Carter may get another one for his books of poems, or, that Bill Clinton will get one for helping the Tsunami victims. I hope you get it.
Congratulations to this month’s winners of a No Left Turns mug! The winners are as follows:
Donald F. Hawbaker
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 February’s drawing.
Noemie Emery explains why the Democrats are not doing so well, and are unlikely to do any better given their disposition on just about everything. The "vision gap" between the Republicans and the Democrats is perfectly clear during one week in January. Note their attacks on Condi Rice, Kennedy calling Iraq Vietnam, Evan Bayhs self serving vote against Rice, and John Kerrys Meet the Press performance. And, it should be added, in a few days Howard Dean will become the chairman of the DNC. Perfect.
George Will applauds Bushs use of Hamilton for Hamiltonian ends (as opposed to the Progressives motto of using Hamiltonian means for Jeffersonian ends) in trying to restructure Social Security and, in doing so, he beats up on Harry Reid especially (but also slaps at other Democrats). He says that Teddy Roosevelts designation of John Tyler as "politician of monumental littleness" applies exactly to Reid. Bush is not playing roulette, Reid to the contrary notwithstanding, with Social Security. Will explains.
Elizabeth Bumiller on on President Bush’s reading habits. She emphasizes that he has read I am Charlotte Simmons and is recommending it to friends, but she doesnt understand why.
Also note that he has been reading Oswald Chambers. Ken Masugi understands why Bush has been reading Wolfe:
Charlotte Simmons in fact is a major work on moral and intellectual decline, the corruption of the youth, and the complicity of Americas intellectual class in this rot. That observation the President surely appreciates. Those who argue that Bush is anti-intellectual are more right than they know.
John Moser’s reference to the current issue of The Atlantic reminds me that a week or so ago he noted an article by Walter Kirn, "Lost in the Meritocracy," which was not available on line. I got a copy and read it. John’s right. It is a great article about the difference between sophistry and education. Very much worth reading, I recommend it as well.
In this months issue of The Atlantic there is an article by William Langewiesche, who back in the summer of 2002 had a series on 9/11 that was absolutely incredible. Anyway, this months piece, "The Accuser" (sorry, access is by subscription only) deals with Hania Mufti, the Jordanian human rights activist who since the early 1980s tracked the atrocities carried out by Saddam Husseins regime in Iraq. It is not for the faint of heart, and I imagine makes particularly uncomfortable reading for those who argued that the Iraq War was unjust.
When I asked her [i.e., Mufti] what she had felt in Kurdistan during the lead-up to the invasion, she did not answer for herself but described the concern of the people around her. They were worried that international opposition to the war might cause Britain and the United States to hesitate, or back down. She said, "The question about whether there were weapons of mass destruction or not, I think for many Iraqis that was just a red herring. It didnt matter whether they were found. And there were all these antiwar demonstrations being shown on television, in Europe and the States, and elsewhere in the Middle East. And I remember sitting with various groups of Kurds watching the news, and theyd look at the TV screen and gesture in this way"—she waved her hand dismissively—"and theyd say, These people dont know what theyre talking about. They should come here and try Saddam for a while, and see whether or not they like it for themselves."
Fox Sports lists the ten worst Super Bowl moments. Number one is this:
It’s still the only last-minute, game-winning field goal attempt that’s ever been missed. Jim O’Brien and Adam Vinatieri and ... Adam Vinatieri all made theirs. And those three kicks all came with the score tied. But not only did poor Scott Norwood miss wide right, but his team trailed by one, meaning the miss was the difference between winning and losing, not between winning and OT as with the others.
The important thing, though, is that coach Marv Levy’s crazily conservative play-calling that left Norwood with a 47-yard attempt has served as an object lesson for other NFL coaches.Except apparently for Marty Schottenheimer and Herm Edwards who both got bounced from this year’s playoffs by doing the exact same thing.
Apparently, more than half of the British
population is involved in volunteer work. Amazing.
Ann Applebaum corrects the history of Philip Johnson, the architect who recently died. He was hailed as a brilliant architect and aesthete. It seems that most of his obituaries falied to mention that he was, effectively, a fascist. I didnt know anyhting about this guy, just knew that I didnt like what he built. Maybe my instinct was right.
Johnson helped organize a U.S. fascist party. He worked on behalf of the Nazi sympathizer and radio broadcaster, Father Charles E. Coughlin. He attended one of Hitlers Nuremberg rallies in 1938, and in 1939 he followed the German army into Poland. "We saw Warsaw burn and Modlin being bombed," he wrote afterward. "It was a stirring spectacle." Read it all.
John Edwards will head a University of North Carolina center that will study ways to lift people out of poverty. It is called the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity. But this doesnt mean that his political career is over. Edwards was the featured speaker at the New Hampshire Democratic Partys winter fundraising dinner yesterday. He spoke on poverty. Donnie Fowler withdrew from the DNC chairman race on Friday, and so did Simon Rosenberg. This means that Howard Dean has a lock on the Chairmanship of the DNC. Washington Whispers says that Dean admires Gingrich more than Bill Clinton. The latter brough defeat on Democrats, while Gingrich "created a real success for the right wing."
Todd Purdum walks us through how Dean reinvented himself, was able to persuade fellow Demos that he is not a nut job by talking to them one-on-one. You will also note that he has promised not to run for president in 2008. So, we will have an uneasy alliance between Hillary and Dean. It should be interesting. But Michael Goodwin thinks this could be death of the Democratic Party. In public, there is silence from those who know that Dean will take the party over the cliff and into an abyss of fringe liberalism that has no foundation in the American populace. Dean and the extremists he represents shouldnt even be allowed to call themselves Democrats. Deaniacs is what they are.
Roger Kimball follows up on the Ward Churchill story, but expands it to something a bit broader than the words of this malicious academic pretender and what should be done with him.
This is a good story of four brothers named Frieder from Cincinnati who ran a cigar factory in in the Philippines, and how they worked quietly to help 1,200 Jews flee to Manila.
Michael McFaul writes a good essay, in the form of a book review, on the state of democratization--a fanciful project--in Russia and Putin’s policies. The continuity between the old regime and the new is pretty clear. Here is another piece by McFaul in the December isssue of the Weekly Standard on developments in Ukraine and Russian policy.
Secretary of State Rice met with her Russian counterpart in Ankara yesterday and told him that Moscow’s crackdown on dissent was making Russian-American relations "more difficult," a State Department official said. The state department official also said "Ms. Rice made the expression of American concerns more central to the discussion than previous American officials had with the Russians in the past." Bush will meet with Putin later this month in Bratislava.
This will resonate. The stewardship argument is a strong one and militates against the moral core of the classical liberal attitude about nature as something to be overcome and transformed.
At the same time, this doesn’t mean that lots of evangelicals will be joining the Green Party.
While evangelicals are open to being good stewards of God’s creation, they believe people should only worship God, not creation," [University of Akron political scientist John C.]Green said.
It strikes me as very important that this attitude be addressed by those who wish to bring sound science and economics to bear on environmental issues. The alternative is potentially a larger constituency for heavy-handed environmental regulation of the sort supported by the left wing of the environmental movement.
Update: Powerline provides indispensible political and intellectual context for the WaPo article and corrects a slander of James Watt repeated by Bill Moyers and the article.
One of the saddest things about Ward Churchill, whose vicious ideological stupidity has occasioned a veritable blizzard of postings in the blogosphere, is that he profits from academic freedom, probably without understanding its purpose and without himself appreciating or fostering the critical diversity it is the function of the university to provide. It is a shame that someone as intolerant as he appears to be can take advantage of the universitys toleration.