Victory Will Take Time
Our strategy is working: Much has been accomplished in Iraq, including the removal of Saddam’s tyranny, negotiation of an interim constitution, restoration of full sovereignty, holding of free national elections, formation of an elected government, drafting of a permanent constitution, ratification of that constitution, introduction of a sound currency, gradual restoration of neglected infrastructure, the ongoing training and equipping of Iraqi security forces, and the increasing capability of those forces to take on the terrorists and secure their nation.
Yet many challenges remain: Iraq is overcoming decades of a vicious tyranny, where governmental authority stemmed solely from fear, terror, and brutality.
It is not realistic to expect a fully functioning democracy, able to defeat its enemies and peacefully reconcile generational grievances, to be in place less than three years after Saddam was finally removed from power.
Our comprehensive strategy will help Iraqis overcome remaining challenges, but defeating the multi-headed enemy in Iraq -- and ensuring that it cannot threaten Iraq’s democratic gains once we leave -- requires persistent effort across many fronts.
Our Victory Strategy Is (and Must Be) Conditions Based
With resolve, victory will be achieved, although not by a date certain.
No war has ever been won on a timetable and neither will this one.
But lack of a timetable does not mean our posture in Iraq (both military and civilian) will remain static over time. As conditions change, our posture will change.
We expect, but cannot guarantee, that our force posture will change over the next year, as the political process advances and Iraqi security forces grow and gain experience.
While our military presence may become less visible, it will remain lethal and decisive, able to confront the enemy wherever it may organize.
Our mission in Iraq is to win the war. Our troops will return home when that mission is complete.
Mac Owens rather liked the speech:
Our demagogues have pandered to the fears and weaknesses of the American rather than to their virtues and strengths. In his Naval Academy speech, President Bush did just the opposite, exercising his “duty [as one whom the people have] appointed to be the guardians of [their] … interests, to withstand the temporary delusion, in order to give them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection.”
Today’s speech is the opening salvo in a campaign of public diplomacy to reinvigorate the war effort and restore public support for our enterprise in Iraq. It coincides with the release of the president’s Iraq strategy document, which is important in and of itself. The fact is that the United States has always had a strategy for Iraq, but any strategy worthy of the name must be adaptable.
What critics mean when they say there is no strategy is that they don’t like what the president is doing, although none have offered any alternative but withdrawal. By publishing the outline of his strategy, the president makes it impossible for his critics to take the easy way out. now they will have to put up or shut up…if only.
So did Rich Lowry.
Here’s an account of the predictably negative Democratic response: where once at least a few of them called for more boots on the ground, the chorus now is that our presence is provoking the insurgency. Nancy Pelosi has gone further, actually endorsing John Murtha’s plan for a rapid withdrawal and claiming that at least half the Democratic caucus agrees with her. Bill Kristol thinks this is a bad, nay "disastrous," move:
Pelosi’s endorsement today of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq makes the House Democrats the party of defeat, the party of surrender. Bush’s strong speech today means the GOP is likely to be--if Republican Congressmen just keep their nerve--the party of victory. Now it is possible that the situation in Iraq will worsen over the next year. If that happens, Bush and the GOP are in deep trouble. They would have been if Pelosi had said nothing. But it is much more likely that the situation in Iraq will stay more or less the same, or improve. In either case, Republicans will benefit from being the party of victory.
My bottom line: a very good speech (more please!) and a hollow response, largely bereft of any serious thinking.
Today is Winston Churchills birthday.
Have you bought this book yet? Makes a wonderful stockking stuffer for Christmas. . .
My latest TAE Online column, blaming our holiday woes on Sandra Day O’Connor (with an assist from the ACLU), is available for your reading pleasure and/or ridicule.
Michael Lennick, who is directing something on Edward Teller for TV, writes this (which includes a so-called "last" interview in 2002) on Teller for American Heritage of Invention and Technology. Its not necessarily favorable, but both Tellers huge ability and his love of this country comes through. I had a few words to say about him here, and this is another long interview with Teller. The father of the Hydrogen bomb once said: "If I claim credit for anything, I should not claim credit for knowledge but for courage." Teller died September 9, 2003. He was 95.
"Noteworthy in all these subtle shifts is the fact that they are, by and large, internally generated. Few of them have come about as a result of prodding or policy initiatives from the West. On the contrary, the intrusion of foreign armies into Iraq, the consequent ugly spectacle of civilian casualties and torture, and the continuing agony of Palestine, have clearly slowed down the Arab publics response to the dangers posed by jihadism.
Now, or so it seems, it is the cooling of the Palestinian intifada, a slight lowering of the volume of imagery featuring ugly Americans in Iraq, and a general weariness with jihadist hysteria that have allowed attention to refocus on the costs, rather than the hoped-for rewards, of “resistance”. At the same time, the rising tide of American domestic opposition to the war has begun to reassure deeply sceptical Arabs that the superpower may not, after all, be keen to linger on Arab soil for ever."
Wretchard has a touching note on Randy Cunninghamâ€™s confession, and his past glory. He concludes with an A.E. Houseman poem,
"To an Athlete Dying Young." Worthy.
This Washington Post story is about one Janis Neulans, a Latvian, finding work in Ireland. While it focuses on this individual, the article claims that about 450,000 workers have migrated from the former Eastern Bloc countries (since 2004) to Ireland, Britain, and Sweden, looking for work.
Thomas S. Hibbs has an interesting article on moral education and teenagers, focusing on the new Jane Austen and Harry Potter movies. By the by, he calls our attention to this book. Id add this website, which, though less explicitly devoted to moral education, contains excellent resources for the moral and philosophical study of great books and film.
This is pretty gruesome: The London Times reports that a "A government agency is launching an inquiry into doctors’ reports that up to 50 babies a year are born alive after botched National Health Service abortions." Abortion on demand is allowed in Britain up to 24 weeks — more than halfway through a normal pregnancy and the highest legal limit for such terminations in Europe.
These two articles, read together, shed some light on the political opportunities--and challenges--that the Democrats face. My favorite line comes from Wyoming governor Dave Freudenthal, a graduate of Amherst College: "If I had stayed in Massachusetts I probably wouldnt be a Democrat," he said. "But out here, historically Democrats have always been interested in the issues of average people."
Sebastian Mallaby comes to the defense of Wal-Mart against its leftist critics.
Commerce in its place, and charity in its.
Does the Treaty of Westphalia still have a hold on a world wherein nation-states are in some sense being replaced by distributed networks of people? Traditional boundaries are being skipped in many ways, not the least of which is terrorist organizations. Wretchard expands on this: "Viewed from one angle, modern Islamic terrorist cells are not so much a return to the forms of the 8th century as new structures made possible by 21st century technologies." A few very thoughtful pages follow. (Some of the comments are also worth reading.)
Note this paragraph:
"But most States are an anti-network; in fact the ultimate hive, where drones swarm in vast pyramids around a Dear Leader, a Great Helmsman or a Driver of the Locomotive of History. And if the United States has one advantage over other states in an age of network warfare, it is because in some respects America is an anti-state; ideally, though not always in practice, a framework within which individuals can thrive. In this respect America was conceptually at variance with the scheme of Westphalia whose key precept was state sovereignty: in America sovereignty was useful mainly to allow the growth of individual freedom. For years European intellectuals have secretly suspected America of really being a religion masquerading as a country. And if that is true the First Republic is ironically well adapted to meet the Jihad on the intellectual battlefields of the 21st century."
’Tis the season. Almost every year there’s a kerfluffle somewhere about a civic display. This year, we have Boston’s holiday tree, which offends some (including the supplier) in an attempt not to offend others.
Samuel Alito had a few things to say about such matters here (on Jersey City’s "’holiday’ displays," which included a Christmas tree, a creche, a menorah, some Kwanzaa ornaments, and some secular figures) and here (on a child’s Thanksgiving poster in a public school).
Hat tip: the invaluable Religion Clause.
This Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood (more resources here; scroll to the end) a case dealing with a parental notification law in New Hampshire. These articles note that Judge Alitos confirmation could lead the Court to rehear the case if Sandra Day OConnor would provide the decisive fifth vote for either side.
Cindy Sheehan and her supporters--about 200 of them--have been demonstrating near the Bush ranch in Texas. The poor turnout is blamed on both the holiday and the bad weather (some rain). Maybe. But note that the article mentions that there were two-and-a-half-times as many people (circa 500) who turned out at the ranch to call on Bush to put pressure on the Ethiopian government to release detained opposition party leaders in that country.
Also note these photos from Sheehans book signing. No bad weather in the tent, I would say.
This NYT review of Robert Kaplans Imperial Grunts is a pastiche of wisecracks, complaints about Kaplans style, and half-made arguments against his worldview. What it isnt is a helpful portrayal of the substance of the book. We know that its Kaplan, we learn that the reviewer doesnt much like Kaplan, and that the book is about the U.S. militarys role all over the world. But thats all.
Anyone who wants to learn more about the best that our soldiers can accomplish when largely left to their own devices should read the book.
Michael E. Ruane, writing in the Washington Post: "Although the shattering psychological impact of war is well known, experts have become increasingly interested in those who emerge from combat feeling enhanced. Some psychiatrists and psychologists believe that those soldiers have experienced a phenomenon known as post-traumatic growth, or adversarial growth." This recent discovery that men are not made out of porcelain is another indication that we are not in another "Vietnam era."
I SING what was lost and dread what was won,
I walk in a battle fought over again,
My king a lost king, and lost soldiers my men;
Feet to the Rising and Setting may run,
They always beat on the same small stone.
There’s a lot of interest in the subject on the Left. An entire issue of Mother Jones is devoted to examining various aspects of conservative religion. (I’ll comment on some of the articles in the coming days.) Then there are these two websites.
Finally, John Judis has an article in Dissent focusing on religion and U.S. foreign policy. One of the interesting elements in the article is the shift from blaming U.S. foreign policy on (Jewish) neoconservatives to attributing it to Christian millenialism. Turns out that Paul Wolfowitz has drunk deeply from the same well that has refreshed Protestant millenialists through the ages. The conclusion also is interesting:
Americans who want to influence our foreign policy have to recognize the existence of a guiding framework inherited from Protestant millennialism. And that certainly includes critics of George W. Bush. Bush’s belief that America has a “mission” or a “calling” from the “Maker of Heaven” to spread freedom around the world puts him in a mainstream of American foreign policy. Yet the critics who point to the influence of the role of religion in Bush’s foreign policy still have a point. What sets this president off from some of his more illustrious predecessors is that in making foreign policy—a task that requires an empirical assessment of means and ends—he has been guided both by the objectives of Protestant millennialism and by the mentality it has spawned. That has made for some stirring oratory, but it has detracted from a clear understanding of the challenges facing the United States. Indeed, it has laid the basis for the greatest American foreign policy disaster since the war in Vietnam.
Earlier, Judis compares and contrasts American millenial foreign policy with earlier European counterparts, who were chastened by failure and subsequently became realistic in a way that he approves of. Does he wish for similar failures on our part? Indeed, whatever the merits of his historical analysis, it’s very clear that his account of the present situation is marked by a kind of death wish for American policy. Everything is bleak; nothing good has happened. This strikes me as at least as unrealistic as the position he attributes to his adversaries.
Real Clear Politics.
The turkey is in the oven (and will soon be away from the computer), the first guests (grandparents from South Carolina) have arrived, with others expected within an hour or so, and the house is tolerably clean, so its time for us all to have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Joe Knippenberg is elegant in reminding us that Thanksgiving is a bit of a complicated holiday, at once civil and religious. While it celebrates human accomplishments, it rightly insists that they are in some way dependent on Gods will. We are called upon to be humble, penitent, and generous. Lovely reminder. Thanks, Joe.
Who issued this one?
Two hundred years ago the frontier colonies of America braced for a long and determined conflict with the strongest military power in the world. The petition of our Founding Fathers for redress of their grievances had been rejected by King and Parliament, and the people of America began the struggle from which emerged this great Nation.
Our Nation is the oldest continuously surviving republic in the world. For 200 years our freedoms have been questioned, challenged, tested and reinforced. These freedoms have shaped our destiny and served as a beacon to other peoples. Our Nation draws its strength from people of every creed, of every color, of every race - native Americans and people from every nation in the world who for two centuries have come to share in the rewards and responsibilities of our American Republic.
On the eve of our 200th year, Thanksgiving Day should be a day of special reflection upon the qualities of heart, mind and character of the men and women who founded and built our great Nation. Let us join in giving thanks for our cultural pluralism. Let us celebrate our diversity and the great strengths that have come from sharing our traditions, our ideas, our resources, our hopes and our dreams. Let us be grateful that for 200 years our people have been dedicated to fulfilling the democratic ideal - dedicated to securing "liberty and justice for all."
Let each of us, in his own way, join in expressing personal gratitude for the blessings of liberty and peace we enjoy today. In so doing, let us reaffirm our belief in a dynamic spirit that will continue to nurture and guide us as we prepare to meet the challenge of our third century.
I call upon all Americans on this day to gather with family and friends in homes and places of worship and join in offering gratitude for this Nation’s countless blessings. I ask that we share with our senior citizens and with those less fortunate than ourselves this special day that brings us all closer together.
Put your answers or guesses in the comments. I’ll let you know once someone has gotten it right.
Hillary Clinton rejects an immediate pullout from Iraq. This reminds me of a joke:
A busload of politicians were driving down a country road when, all of a sudden, the bus ran off the road, and crashed into a tree in an old farmers field.
The old farmer, after seeing what had happened, went over to investigate.
He then proceeded to dig a hole to bury the politicians.
A few days later the local sheriff came out, saw the crashed bus, and asked the old farmer where all the politicians had gone.
The old farmer said he had buried them.
The sheriff asked the old farmer, "Were they all dead?"
The old farmer replied, "Well, some of them said they werent, but you know how them politicians lie."
Mark Steyns latest is both true and amusing. He notes the huge demonstrations against Zarqawi in Jordan (lets listen to the Arab streets, shall we, and why isnt the BBC covering this?), even though the Bad Guy apologized for having killed Muslims; he also said that King Abdullah should be decapitated. Oh, well, almost a nice guy, this Zarqawi. Steyns also mentions Murtha, Vietnam, and Europe. A good reading for the early morning.
John von Heyking is concerned about Iran, and not only because of their nuclear ambitions. He thinks that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s words and actions are very much worth watching, especially regarding the return of the Twelfth Imam, which is very important to Shiites.
While the issue is complicated, von Heyking’s piece is very clear (also good links). His last paragraph:
"Western observers need to be able to understand the ideological and religious overtones of the current situation in Iran. Ahmadinejad’s peculiar references to the Twelfth Imam are no mere eccentricity to be taken lightly. Nor do they seem to be the rhetorical ploy of a politician manipulating the excitable masses (as some have interpreted Saddam Hussein’s embrace of Islamism in the later part of his rule). Minimally, Ahmadinejad’s speeches and actions portend a constitutional crisis for the Iranian regime. Maximally, there are times when one should take bombastic statements not as double-talk, but for what they are."
This is ABC News account of Bushs stop in Mongolia. This is the BBCs version. All the jokes about Mongolia (fierce warriors, statute of Ghengis Khan, etc) aside, I think it is significant that Bush would be the first U.S. president to visit the country.
Its location makes it important to us. Here is the CIA Factbook on Mongolia.
These are some opinions on the usefulness of the small arms used in Iraq (M16, M240, etc). Sounds legit.
Mark Warner, governor, Southerner, moderate Democrat, wine grower; therefore another Jefferson. Silly stuff. Democratic contender in 2008? Not silly.
Yeah, my son and I saw the movie today. It is, as reviewers have noted, the darkest of the Potter movies, though not so dark as to frighten my ten year old. Theres a little less dwelling on the whimsical element of the magical world than in the others and lots of adolescent sullenness. Unfortunately, you have to be acquainted with the characters through the books and/or the previous movies for the character development (such as it is) to make much sense or to win your sympathy for them. This is especially true of the Harry-Ron-Hermione trio. The older Weasley twins provide the lions share of the comic relief (and theyre good at it).
Bottom line: like all the others, this movie is inferior to the book. Well buy the DVD and enjoy it, as we have the others, but none of the Potter movies come as close to doing justice to the books as Peter Jacksons efforts did for LOTR. I also have a sneaking suspicion that well like this movie more.
For what its worth, the theater wasnt full for the showing we attended (noon today).
In case youve been busy today, watching football, or perhaps this movie, you might not have paid too much attention to this vote, derided by Democrats as a political stunt, though their apparent unwillingness to press Murthas position to its logical conclusion suggests a certain stuntsmanship on their part. I cant improve upon the commentary offered here and here. I will note that Cynthia McKinney, still (much to my dismay) my representative, voted for the resolution.
Some good news. I am happy to introduce you to the Ashbrook Center’s Presidential Academy for American History and Civics. This two-week long seminar next summer--in three cities--will lead secondary school teachers in a careful study of the pivotal turning points in American history memorialized by the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, and the "I Have a Dream" speech. The famous words in the three core documents raise, with a distinctively American poetry, the most significant issues of self-government in our constitutional democracy. We think that the story that links these three pivotal turning points together is the American story. When you study the site, note the faculty (Morel, Flannery, Guelzo, Kesler, Fischer, Lloyd, McPherson, Williams) as well as the readings and syllabus. I hope you will agree that it’s pretty good stuff. Pass it on to your favorite high school teachers. They can apply on-line.
This program stems out of an initiative by Senator Lamar Alexander and became a part of the American History and Civics Education Act of 2004. Its purpose is to support--through seminars and workshops--teachers of American history and civics by strengthening their knowledge of their subject. We look forward to conducting the Presidential Academy for the next five years. Indeed, we are honored to do so.
On November 10, Steven Hayward, an Adjunct Fellow of the Ashbrook Center and F.K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was at the Ashbrook Center giving a lecture on his new book, Greatness: Reagan, Churchill and the Making of Extraordinary Leaders. C-SPAN2, Book TV was there to tape and it will be broadcast Sunday, Nov. 20, at 10:30 p.m. If you cant watch it, you can listen to it on line by going here. The lecture lasts about 45 minutes and is followed by Question and answer period. It is, by the way, excellent!
Kurt Vonnegut on terrorists: "They are dying for their own self-respect. Its a terrible thing to deprive someone of their self-respect. Its like your culture is nothing, your race is nothing, youre nothing." Vonnegut is promoting his new anti-Bush book.
Claremonts Matthew Peterson has strong views about the state of contemporary higher education, especially if you consider what goes on at the colleges and universities with the best reputations. My own much less colorful reflections are here.
Matt thinks, with some reason, that these exceptionally wealthy places are frittering away their moral, intellectual, and cultural capital and that we may be approaching a time when it might actually be a good career move actually to gain an education at a currently less reputable (but morally, culturally and intellectually more sound) institution. He names a few; Id add a few more to his list.
But.... I have this residual concern about "monasticism" and the inability to respond effectively to "the other," though Matthew himself goes a long way toward allaying my concern.
Along these lines, another piece worth reading is James Pieresons discussion of giving to colleges, which all too often is done without sufficient thought to the ultimate consequences. Smarter giving would strengthen the hands of people like Robert George.
E. J. Dionne, Jr. says it was a bad week for the Bush Administration on the Iraq war. He points to poll numbers suggesting that opponents of the war are intense than proponents, to speeches in the Senate that follow, rather than lead (of course, he didnt put it that way), and to Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha, whose call to bring the troops home is supposed to be news. Well, Instapundit and friends demonstrate that Murtha has been publicly grousing about the war since late 2003.
From where I sit, the good news is that the Bush Administration has begun to respond to the drumbeat of criticism, both about the prewar intelligence and about the calls for a withdrawal timetable. If adopted, the latter would of course communicate to our adversaries that if only theyre patient, theyll prevail.
The Rasmussen Poll finds "DeWine trailing challenger Paul Hackett by a single point, 42% to 41%. Five percent (5%) say theyd vote for someone else while 12% are undecided.
Ohios Republican Governor Bob Taft is not helping DeWines cause. His Job Approval Rating is amazingly low at 19%. Seventy-nine percent (79%) disapprove, including 52% who strongly disapprove.
DeWine is viewed favorably by 48% of the states voters and unfavorably by 38%."
According to the Employment Minister of France, polygamy is one of the causes of the riots in France. This is the whole of the AFP dispatch (via Little Green Footballs):
"Polygamy among immigrants is one cause of the rioting that has plagued France for the past two weeks, according to Gerard Larcher, the Employment Minister.
M Larcher was quoted as saying that large, polygamous families sometimes led to antisocial behaviour by youths who did not have a father figure in the home, making employers more cautious of hiring staff from ethnic minorities.
There are fears that M Larcher’s comments could further fuel the debate about the cause of the unrest and possibly outrage Muslim and anti-racism groups. Polygamy is banned in France, but an estimated 30,000 mainly African families have more than one wife.
The National Assembly yesterday approved a three-month extension to the state of emergency."
FP: Let’s talk a little bit more about how the WMDs disappeared.
Tierney: In Iraq’s case, the lakes and rivers were the toilet, and Syria was the back door. Even though there was imagery showing an inordinate amount of traffic into Syria prior to the inspections, and there were other indicators of government control of commercial trucking that could be used to ship the weapons to Syria, from the ICs point of view, if there is no positive evidence that the movement occurred, it never happened. This conclusion is the consequence of confusing litigation with intelligence. Litigation depends on evidence, intelligence depends on indicators. Picture yourself as a German intelligence officer in Northern France in April 1944. When asked where will the Allies land, you reply “I would be happy to tell you when I have solid, legal proof, sir. We will have to wait until they actually land.” You won’t last very long. That officer would have to take in all the indicators, factor in deception, and make an assessment (this is a fancy intelligence word for an educated guess).
Is Tierney a credible witness? Read the interview and
decide for yourself.
According to this story, the youth vote may have been more significant than exit polls indicated in 2004. Exit polls showed that just 9% of those voting in November of 2004 were in the 18-24 year old category. The figure was the same in 2000. New Census Bureau data, however, shows that 47% of eligible 18-24 year olds voted in this last election--up 11 points from the 36% number in 2000. Young voters still had the lowest turnout of all groups, but no other group of voters increased their turnout by more than 5%. One important thing to keep in mind about these statistics however: they depend upon people being honest when questioned about whether or not they voted and respondents are questioned long after the election.
I report this in the interest of fairness--in light of what I said here. But I think what I said then still stands. There was no indication from these numbers about the much more interesting question: How did these new voters vote? I haven’t seen anything on this but I still believe the numbers tilted slightly toward Bush--as they did across the age spectrum.
J.D. Crouch reminds us, in brief, that WMD was not the only reason to go to war in Iraq. Depending on the paper you’re reading, either the Senate rejects a pullout timeline, or it is forcing one on the president. In the meantime, the statesman Bill Clinton has decided--now that the poll numbers seemed to have shifted--that the invasion of Iraq was a "big mistake." Note that Sunnis in Iraq (via the Islamic Party) are demanding an international investigation into the alleged abuse of 170 (no, that’s not 170,000, but 170) detainees held by Iraqi troops. "The Iraqi abuse allegations came to light when prisoners, many malnourished and some showing signs of apparent torture, were found by US troops on Sunday." Also note that U.S. led forces arrested
a man suspected of leading the Baath insurgency in Diyala Province. His name is Hamid Sharqi Shadid and he has been wanted for "crimes against humanity committed during the 1999 Shia uprising."
This is interesting. It looks like Libby was not the first official to reveal to a reporter where Plame worked: A Washington Post story claims this: "Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward testified under oath Monday in the CIA leak case that a senior administration official told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed.
In a more than two-hour deposition, Woodward told Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald that the official casually told him in mid-June 2003 that Plame worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction, and that he did not believe the information to be classified or sensitive, according to a statement Woodward released yesterday." And then this:
"Fitzgerald interviewed Woodward about the previously undisclosed conversation after the official alerted the prosecutor to it on Nov. 3 -- one week after Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis ’Scooter’ Libby, was indicted in the investigation."
As one wag puts it, "What else did Fitzgerald not know, and when did he not know it?" More here.
This might be fun.
I hope he doesn’t say that he has changed his mind. And I hope that he doesn’t simply assert the distinction between advocacy and judging, for he was, after all, advocating a position regarding the content and meaning of the Constitution, which is also something that judges do. Nevertheless, he can suggest that judicial statesmanship requires some attention to the role of precedent and settled expectations in a system characterized by the rule of law. And he can remind everyone that the abandonment of Roe and its progeny (if one can use that word in conjunction with that case) simply puts the ball in the court of the political branches and the states.
Because these are mainstream positions, he’ll be confirmed.
Update: Ramesh Ponnuru thinks that, as long as Alito and his supporters don’t simply disavow the 1985 statement, this is a good thing for future conservative nominees: they don’t simply have to clam up on Roe.
Demonstrating how difficult it is to "demonize" Judge Alito on his abortion opinions, Dahlia Litwick offers a measured account of them. Heres a snippet:
Its almost impossible to predict what a judge will do with cases that present fact patterns that do not yet exist; and its hard to tell what an appellate court judge might do once hes seated on the high court. Certainly we should scrutinize Alitos 1985 job application for hidden motives, just as we should scan his opinions for judicial theory. But randomly classing together disparate abortion cases will tell us very little about Alito—save for the fact that hes not so reflexively pro-life or pro-choice that the rest of constitutional law is just wallpaper for him. That should give both sides in this discussion some measure of comfort going forward.
Im guessing it wont.
Im prepared to quibble with some of what she says, but not with the overall argument, which is that Alito can distinguish between his personal views and his role as a judge, and that, in the latter, he is a careful craftsman who takes a variety of considerations into account as he constructs his opinions. While PFAW and NARAL will no doubt try to make the most of tidbits taken out of context, they arent likely to succeed in derailing this nomination.
Reasonable people can disagree about the conduct of the war, but it is irresponsible for Democrats to now claim that we misled them and the American people. Leaders in my administration and members of the United States Congress from both political parties looked at the same intelligence on Iraq, and reached the same conclusion: Saddam Hussein was a threat.
Let me give you some quotes from three senior Democrat leaders: First, and I quote, "There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons." Another senior Democrat leader said, "The war against terrorism will not be finished as long as Saddam Hussein is in power." Heres another quote from a senior Democrat leader: "Saddam Hussein, in effect, has thumbed his nose at the world community. And I think the President is approaching this in the right fashion."
They spoke the truth then, and theyre speaking politics now. (Applause.)
The truth is that investigations of intelligence on Iraq have concluded that only one person manipulated evidence and misled the world -- and that person was Saddam Hussein. In early 2004, when weapons inspector David Kay testified that he had not found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he also testified that, "Iraq was in clear material violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441. They maintained programs and activities, and they certainly had the intentions at a point to resume their programs. So there was a lot they wanted to hide because it showed what they were doing that was illegal."
Eight months later, weapons inspector Charles Duelfer issued a report that found, "Saddam Hussein so dominated the Iraqi regime that its strategic intent was his alone. He wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction when the sanctions were lifted."
Some of our elected leaders have opposed this war all along. I disagreed with them, but I respect their willingness to take a consistent stand. Yet some Democrats who voted to authorize the use of force are now rewriting the past. They are playing politics with this issue and they are sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy. And thats irresponsible.
As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them into war continue to stand behind them. (Applause.) Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. (Applause.) And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory. (Applause.)
Bill Bennett raises the appropriate questions regarding Senator Jay Rockefellers 2002 tour the the Middle East, when he apparently told the Saudis, Jordanians, and Syrians that President Bush "had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq." Heres Bennett:
This is not a prewar intelligence mistake, it is a prewar intelligence giveaway.
Syria is not only on the list of state sponsors of terrorism and the country many speculate is where Hussein has secreted weapons, it is also the country from which terrorists are flowing into Iraq to fight our troops and allies. Jordan and Saudi Arabia have had, over the years, conflicted loyalties. What was Senator Rockefeller doing? What was he thinking? And all this before President Bush even made a public speech about Iraq — to the U.N. or anyone else.
Theres more, all of it worth reading. And Senator Rockefeller has some explaining to do.
Hat tip: Power Line.
James Pinkerton points out Mary Mapes (the one at CBS responsible for the phony memos) fight against reality (and the New Media). This woman is in fact off the deep end, and I am not surprised that the MSM is not portraying her that way; they are much too kind to her. I have heard her being interviewed a number of times, and was struck by both how stupid she seemed, and how gently her interlocutors treated her.
These articles describe the contents of this document, written in 1985 as Samuel Alito was seeking an appointment in the Reagan Administration. Im shocked, just shocked, to learn that Alito is a lifelong conservative, who owes his conservatism to William F. Buckley and the 1964 Goldwater campaign, and that hes proud of his work in the Office of Legal Counsel during the first Reagan Administration (which appears to have included contributing to briefs opposing abortion and affirmative action).
Here, once again, is the University of Michigan Alito resource page.
The WaPos Fred Hiatt wrote this column, quite critical of the Bush Administrations conduct of the Iraq War, but also of the typical Democratic critique, which focuses on if and when someone lied. Heres Hiatt on Bush:
President Bush can lash out at the Democrats, as he did Friday, but ultimately they are mostly exploiting public opinion; he is largely responsible for shaping it. And had he been more honest from the start about the likely difficulties of war, readier to deal with them and then more open in acknowledging his failures, the public likely would be more patient.
Heres Hiatt on the Democratic critics:
Congress...pours most of its Iraq-related energy into allegations of manipulated intelligence before the war.
"Those arent irrelevant questions," says Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.). "But the more they dominate the public debate, the harder it is to sustain public support for the war."
What Lieberman doesnt say is that many Democrats would view such an outcome as an advantage. Their focus on 2002 is a way to further undercut President Bush, and Bushs war, without taking the risk of offering an alternative strategy -- to satisfy their withdraw-now constituents without being accountable for a withdraw-now position.
Many of them understand that dwindling public support could force the United States into a self-defeating position, and that defeat in Iraq would be disastrous for the United States as well as for Mahdi and his countrymen. But the taste of political blood as Bush weakens, combined with their embarrassment at having supported the war in the first place, seems to override that understanding.
Quoting liberally from Joe Lieberman and Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi, Hiatt is critical of both the Administration and the Democratic opposition. Still, thats not good enough for this Kos-sack, who accuses Hiatt of practicing "the new McCarthyism" and of being "a Bush media lackey of the first order." Whew!
Hat tip: NROs The Corner.
This New York Times story claims that a recent Chronicle survey revealed, for the first time, that there were five presidents of private universities making over one million a year (Lynn University, Wilmington College, Vanderbilt, Boston Univ, and Middlebury College). The upward spiral continues: "Overall, the survey said, nine presidents of private universities earned more than $900,000 each, compared with none the year before, and 50 presidents of private universities earned at least $500,000 each, a 19 percent increase over the previous year." I am not going to get into whether or not such salaries are merited, whether boards of trustees have a correct understanding of what a college president should be, etc. All that would be too easy. Apparently, there is an imbalance in the supply and demand in the marketplace. Institutions are trying to find presidents who already have been, and the supply is dwindling. I do like one fellows comments: "Weve created a cadre of hired guns whose economic interests are totally divorced from students and faculty."
With Bush’s bad poll numbers, everyone is talking about the coming Democratic tidal wave in 2006. Joe Klein is gushing over the Democrats "new" plan to become the majority party. He has a conversation with the mouthy Rahm Emanuel and is smitten with the possibilities. Not that I’m persuaded. Klein notes that Emanuel didn’t mention national security. Ruy Teixiera thinks that the vote in Virginia proves that the "exurban voter" is at least up for grabs (he implies that the GOP has lost them, but holds back a bit): "If Republicans continue to pursue an ideologically anti-government agenda that compromises government services while taking a hard line on social issues, they can have every expectation of shrinking margins among these voters."
John Heilemann looks at Emanuel more closely, says that he is the Dems Newt. That is, he has done more than anyone to "crystallize the need for a concrete agenda." The Dems are going to roll out their equaivalent of a Contract With America. It might be called, "Together, America can do better." Will this--and can Emanuel for that matter--tell us what the Democratic Party stands for in a way that compares favorably to what the GOP did in 1994? Even Heilemann isn’t persuaded that the Dems have a positive agenda. And then there is foreign policy. I like the comment by Frank Lutz that the Dems doen’t have visionaries, only tacticians and screamers.
Stuart Rothenberg asks whether the Dems can do in 2006 something as radical as what the GOP did in 1994. "For Democrats to retake the House, they will need to defeat about a dozen Republican incumbents, most of whom have turned back previously aggressive challengers. That’s a tall order." The Senate is also a tall order: "Democrats will need to hold their own seats and sweep the five solid Senate takeover opportunities they currently have in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Ohio, Montana and Missouri to have any chance of winning the Senate. In addition, they’ll need former Arizona Democratic state Chairman Jim Pederson’s challenge to Sen. Jon Kyl to develop here in Arizona, or possibly longer-shot opportunities in Mississippi or Tennessee, to get that 51st Senate seat."
This NYT article offers us a range of opinions from Yale Law School, Judge Samuel Alito’s alma mater. The range is, of course, narrow. According to Professor Peter H. Schuck, a self-described moderate:
"The politics of Yale Law School and the other elite law schools is 95 percent left and 5 percent other." He said he counted perhaps four conservative professors on a faculty of about 70.
Another faculty member, Robert W. Gordon, observed:
"Alito is a careful carpenter. The things are well built, but they are not beautiful. Alito in my judgment is just too steadfastly conservative."
Bruce Ackerman, whose most recent book is The Failure of the Founding Fathers (discussed here), described Alito as a "judicial radical." For a clue as to what Ackerman means, see this: a judicial radical is someone who agrees with Scalia and Thomas, the most recent YLS-connected nominee.
Indeed, if, as the article suggests, many Yale students and faculty are "cautiously hostile," regarding Alito as betraying the school’s "liberal values," we can expect Yale lawyers for the most part to line up against Alito, somewhat as they did in the case of Clarence Thomas (see here). Indeed, according to the article (and this one as well), Justice Thomas told an audience at a well-known Ohio public affairs center that:
"Yale was fine. I have some fundamental disagreements with Yale Law School subsequent to that. I don’t consider myself particularly close to Yale Law School, but that is not because of the way I was treated when I attended Yale Law School."
And if their objections to Alito are as weakly grounded as they seem to be (aesthetic and ideological), then we might be concerned that rather wild charges will again be cast about in a vain effort to derail the nomination. Alito has been a loyal alumnus, not missing a five year reunion until this year, when his excuse had soemthing to do with preparing for confirmation hearings. After January, will he share Clarence Thomas’ bitterness? Let’s hope not.
Update: Rick Garnett has more, with links. The bottom line on all this is that "Yale Law School" (if its permissible tospeak in this way about an institution that clearly doesnt embody much diversity of political viewpoint) does itself no favors by opposing an alumnus--or anyone else--on essentially ideological grounds.
The only remaining oddity of the article is its failure to mention or to quote Stephen L. Carter, who I most recently mentioned here. Carter has actually written a book entitled The Confirmation Mess: Cleaning Up the Federal Appointments Process. Perhaps Carter didn’t fit the storyline well enough, since his focus is largely on qualifications, which Alito has in spades.
Gordon Wood reviews Sean Wilentz’s The Rise of American Democracy. His review is fine, as far as it goes. (I should mention that I am now reading Wilentz’s book as well, and, despite my critical tone, I think it merits reading.) Woods’ review does reveal that on the one hand the book is surprisingly thoughtful and is real political history, and on the other, that Wood himself only sees what moves American history imperfectly: Wood has the same problem that Wilentz has. Wood mentions that Wilentz’s hero, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., never mentioned Andrew Jackson’s removal of the Indians in his book on Jackson. How revealing. Yet Schlesinger won the Pulitzer for the book, in large part because it gave the Liberals (now not really calling themselves progressives) something to fight with; Arthur junior brought Liberalism back very close to the Founding, and made it more secure and persuasive. Wilentz wants to do it better by moving the "history of democracy" to the center of American history. Yet, there is a forced quality to the thing, like placing a screw a milimeter too large into a hole not made for it. The democratic talk is overdone and overheated, and oddly theoretical from a historian who claims not to be such and who claims to understand that context is critical. It is not so much that our people and our history do nothing but contend over the real meaning of democracy, as Willnetz would have it, but rather that we have thought out and worked out the meaning of freedom as a blessing.
That is, the architecture of the Constitution is not at odds with the Declaration’s good ends. The practical wisdom that this understanding demands--as well as the decisions that it brought forth--is what makes our union move, that is, have a history. It is not "the struggles over contending ideas of democracy," as Wilentz would have it. That is a much less interesting, and a smaller point. But that’s all these guys have.
ABC News poll of a few days ago, has been, so to speak, confirmed by the Newsweek Poll: This shows a 17 point generic lead for the Dems (ABC showed 11) in response to this: "To begin, suppose the elections for U.S. CONGRESS were being held TODAY. Would you vote for the Republican Party’s candidate or the Democratic Party’s candidate for Congress in your district?" If other/unsure: "As of TODAY, do you LEAN more toward the Republican or the Democrat?" Look at the poll yourself for details. The heartening news for Democrats is that they seem to be gaining strength, they seem to be seen as an alternative to the GOP in Congress, and, at least Dems like to argue, this shows not only that people dislike Bush and the GOP, but that they like the Dems.
The point to be made here is not exactly the same point made by the Dems and their friendly MSM, viz., its curtain for the GOP, we will see the Dems take about 280 seats in the next House, etc. That will not happen. Yet, the news (since Katrina, basically) for Bush and the GOP has not been good, and they have until very recently reacted foolishly, if at all. As Joe poiunted out a few days ago, Bush, Rove, et al, seem to be getting the message and are beginning a counterattack. I am not yet persuaded that people are moving toward the Dems because they are being persuaded by the Dems. These figures are still nothing but a reaction to the bad news coming at the GOP. If these anti-Bush/GOP numbers hold for two or three more months, then I will start arguing that the GOP is in trouble, but not yet. Note that the Dems are not doing well at raising money this year. "From January through September, the Republican National Committee raised $81.5 million, with $34 million remaining in the bank. The Democratic National Committee, by contrast, showed $42 million raised and $6.8 million in the bank." Howard Dean, of course, denies that there is a problem.
The 17th night is being praised as "better". Only 374 cars were burned (compared to 502 the night before). Over 200 people were arrested. The riots had spread to Lyon, Frances second largest city. The riots continue in Belgium, but police play it down: only 60 cars have been torched. Victor Davis Hanson, travelling through Europe, has some opinions on Europes decline.
Yesterday Lucas noted that Peter Drucker died at the age of 95. Drucker and I got to Claremont in 1971; he was a prof in the business school, and I was a grad student in government. I didn’t formally study with him. I studied with Jaffa. One great man was enough. But, I did attend many of his classes and got to know him a bit. He was a tremendous character. Very wise, amazingly learned, witty, tough, but never mean. He would chastize students (publicly) for being narrow, for misunderstanding the nature of education, for not understanding the difference between training (as in what schools of business normally do) and a liberal education, for not working hard enough, for not taking advantage of the opportunity they had. The first time I met him was over dinner, with two others (I think it was my second year in grad school). In preparation I read many of his books, and found them surprsingly interesting, but, of course, wasn’t yet persuaded that this was a serious person. And, being young and imprudent, over dinner I hastened to point out to him (you know, in that supercilious tone that grad students are prone to) that his books (especially something called, as I recollect, The Effective Executive) were nothing more than watered down Machiavelli. He was surprised that I was surprised, and readily admitted the fact and then quickly revealed that he knew a lot about Machievlli. Well, still in my arrogant mode, I pushed on and started pontificating about Frederick the Great’s book on Machiavelli (which I had just discovered and was sure no one else in the whole world ever heard of, never mind read), and to my surprise he had not only read it but had some very interesting thoughts about the book and Frederick. It was after this that I started to sit in on his classes. He was asked a question about the Vietnam War and its significance for America and the world; in a class that had nothing to do with the war, of course. He responded with a thirty minute discourse on the history (not excluding the art) of South East Asia, emphasizing China and Japan in the 17th and 18th centuries, never mentioned Vietnam, yet answered the question. It was wonderful. The student didn’t get it. But by then I did. Rest in Peace, good teacher.
Addition: Matt Peterson reminded me of this interview
that me, Arnn, and Masugi conducted with Drucker back in 1984. It’s pretty good.
Rich Policz reflects on Veterans Day by noting that today is General Pattons birthday.
Pete Drucker, the "father of modern management," died today at the age of 95. May he rest in peace.
Here are the WaPo, NYT, and AP stories. Of the three, the WaPo report is the most adversarial, offering Ted Kennedy’s response and comments about the President’s falling approval ratings before actually reporting what he said.
If you want some further context for the debate, you can read Norman Podhoretz’s rehearsal of the prewar intelligence findings here.
And if you don’t have time to plow through all the links, here’s the core of the President’s response to his critics:
One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war. When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support. I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn’t support the liberation of Iraq. And that is their right, and I respect it. As President and Commander-in-Chief, I accept the responsibilities, and the criticisms, and the consequences that come with such a solemn decision.
While it’s perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. (Applause.) Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community’s judgments related to Iraq’s weapons programs.
They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That’s why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate -- who had access to the same intelligence -- voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power. (Applause.)
The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. (Applause.) These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America’s will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. (Applause.) Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. (Applause.) And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory. (Applause.)
Bill Kristol says that the President should--indeed, has to--keep up the good work: "If the American people really come to a settled belief that Bush lied us into war, his presidency will be over. He wont have the basic level of trust needed to govern."
Naomi Schaefer Riley writes--but not with much subtlety--about a dispute at Ave Maria School of Law regarding a possible relocation to southwest Florida, the site of Ave Maria University. It’s not that the lawyers prefer Michigan slush to Florida sunshine, but that Ave Maria Town is supposed to be set next to the university campus. The town, according to Tom Monaghan, the board of trustees chairman and principal bankroller of the undertaking, is intended to be a "family values" enclave, free of both pornography and the pill. (Whether that can actually be accomplished in the light of Florida real estate and commercial law, not to mention the demands of marketplace, remains to be seen.)
The controversy that seems to be animating the faculty and friends of the University and its law school is whether and to what extent a serious Catholic institution can engage with "the world" without being immersed in and surrounded by "the world." My first response as an outsider is that it ought to be possible to reach out to "the world" from a "sanctuary" that, in any event, is neither remote nor impermeable. In her book, Riley seemed to express some sympathy for this point of view, but in this article, she and her headline writer seem to side with the law school faculty member who ("hyperbolically," she concedes) described the plans for Ave Maria Town as a "Catholic Jonestown."
Riley’s WSJ commenters are generally sympathetic to the idea of Ave Maria Town. Here’s an example:
To call this proposed community a "Catholic Jonestown" and imply thereby that anyone who wished to live in a haven safe from pornography and moral corruption is a "kool-aid drinker" is so insulting and beyond the pale that the cover of recognizing it as "hyperbolic" becomes just dodge for excusing psuedo-sophistication and intolerance.
Totally inclusive communication belongs alone to the communication of the kingdom of God, which God holds in reserve, while human communications, called to "partake of the divine nature," must first "flee from the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Pet. 1:4).
There surely is an interesting question here, but Riley regards it through the prism apparently characterized above all by simple-minded liberal pluralism. In her book, she seemed to celebrate "difference"; in this article, she seems to favor an oddly homogeneous pluralism that makes genuine difference difficult, if not impossible.
My own take -- which is consonant, I think, with Althouses -- is that (a) although it is not "creepy" to care about the enterprise of sustaining a distinctively and authentically Catholic law school, (b) it is big mistake to think that the enterprise is well served by retreating to a homogenous, planned community without an established, rich university environment. As Althouse puts it: "You cant retreat and purify yourself. You have to become involved with the complexities of life, not shrink away from them."
Everyone seems to think that Ave Maria Town is the functional equivalent of M. Night Shyamalans The Village. Is there any evidence that faculty, for example, will be compelled to live in Ave Maria Town? (They had better be paid pretty high salaries, if thats the case, since housing is expensive in the Naples area.) And they, of course, cant be prevented from leaving the community to indulge in vices not permitted on the premises. From what I could tell, by the way, theres no evidence that Monaghan wont permit fine dining and alcohol--his concerns seem to be limited to pornography and birth control. Do lawyers really need such things to make their academic and professional lives run smoothely? If so, I may be in the wrong profession.
That’s the nicest way of putting this. Of course, the headline exaggerates what he said, but what he appears actually to have said is bad enough. To be clear: he didn’t quite say God would retaliate for what the Dover (PA) voters did this week, just that if something did happen, God might not listen to their prayers. First of all, this ignores the possibility that people of faith can reasonably disagree about what can and should be taught in public schools. The Bible says nothing about the First Amendment. Second, God is merciful, as well as just. Robertson seems not to consider that possibility. If anyone is committing a theological error here, it just might be Pat Robertson. He should shut up before he discredits every institution associated with him.
This is an interesting brief report on a documentary film on the 2004 election in Ohio. Although put together by a liberal, it seems good and shows how organized the GOP was. "The resulting film, which the co-directors are still polishing in hopes of getting it accepted by the Sundance Film Festival, shows Republican campaigners functioning like a well-oiled machine and Democrats looking incapable of ordering lunch, let alone organizing a major get-out-the-vote operation. These scenes, interspersed with interviews with top strategists for both the Bush and the Kerry campaigns - with the glaring exceptions of Karl Rove and Bob Shrum - by and large leave the impression that the Bush campaign was run by major-league professionals and the Kerry campaign by bush-league amateurs."
A woman got elected president of Liberia. She will be the first female head of state in Africa.
Andy Busch refvlects on the elections of Tuesday: "...it is premature to see in the election results the foreshadowing of an unstoppable Democratic tide. As in 2001, there were too few races nationally to draw clear conclusions. In any event, through American history, it is typical for the out-party to do well in odd-year elections." And this is Tom Bevans wrap on Tuesday; Robert Novak on Virginia.
Despite support from unusual places--like Ted Kennedy--education vouchers for Katrina victims didn’t make it out of committee in the House., even after it passed unanimously in the Senate. The culprits? House Democrats and four Republicans--Judy Biggert (Ill.); Todd Platts (Pa.); Randy Kuhl (N.Y.); and Bob Inglis (S.C.). Clint Bolick thinks that Biggert, Platts, and Kuhl were "doing the bidding" of the NEA.
Will the proposal be revived in the conference committee? Possible, but doubtful; we apparently have forgotten about all the families displaced by Katrina.
Hat tip: Katie Newmark.
If we leave Iraq prematurely, the jihadists will interpret the withdrawal as their great victory against our great power. Osama bin Laden and his followers believe that America is weak, unwilling to suffer casualties in battle. They drew that lesson from Lebanon in the 1980s and Somalia in the 1990s, and today they have their sights set squarely on Iraq. The recently released letter from Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden’s lieutenant, to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, draws out the implications. The Zawahiri letter is predicated on the assumption that the United States will leave Iraq, and that al Qaeda’s real game begins as soon as we abandon the country. In his missive, Zawahiri lays out a four stage plan – establish a caliphate in Iraq, extend the “jihad wave” to the secular countries neighboring Iraq, clash with Israel – none of which shall commence until the completion of stage one: expel the Americans from Iraq. Zawahiri observes that the collapse of American power in Vietnam, “and how they ran and left their agents,” suggests that “we must be ready starting now.”
We can’t let them start, now or ever. We must stay in Iraq until the government there has a fully functioning security apparatus that can keep Zarqawi and his terrorists at bay, and ultimately defeat them. Some argue that it our very presence in Iraq that has created the insurgency, and that if we end the occupation, we end the insurgency. But in fact by ending military operations, we are likely to empower the insurgency. Zarqawi and others fight not just against foreign forces but also against the Shia, whom they believe to be infidels, and against all elements of the government. Sunni insurgents attack Kurds, Turcomans, Christians and other Iraqis, not
simply to end the American occupation but to recapture lost Sunni power. As AEI’s Fredrick Kagan has written, these Sunni are not yet persuaded that violence is counterproductive; on the contrary, they believe the insurgency might lead to an improvement in their political situation. There is no reason to think that an American drawdown would extinguish these motivations to fight.
Because we cannot pull out and hope for the best, because we cannot withdraw and manage things from afar, because morality and our security compel it, we have to see this mission through to completion.
It’s a good speech, White notes, and much needed in Washington, D.C., and around the country: "The maverick, it seems, is back. And this time, he’s ready to fight."
Unfortunately, if you read an account of the speech like this one or this one, you’ll get a much better sense of what McCain thinks is wrong with our current efforts than of why he thinks the effort is worth undertaking. As I noted here and here, the press’ hostility to the enterprise makes it very difficult to get the message through.
Heres the report on the most recent Pew poll. The good news for President Bush is that the Alito nomination is going over well. The bad news is that the drumbeat of negative press coverage is taking a toll, especially on Iraq and the Wilson/Plame/Libby affair: 43% say that President Bush lied about WMDs and 44% say that the Libby affair is "of great importance" to the nation. The two numbers track very closely and the former is up 12% since February, 2004. Republicans and the White House need to go on the offense about the run-up to the war. Stephen F. Hayes cant do it all himself.
It certainly makes me unhappy, but is it possible that theres a negative correlation between the size of a countrys government and the happiness of its citizens? The authors of this study seem to believe so. The good folks over at the Volokh Conspiracy are somewhat skeptical about the methodology, but find it interesting nonetheless.
Heres a snippet:
The traditional Catholic view—and Alito, Scalia, Roberts, and Thomas in various ways are pretty traditional or orthodox Catholics—is that a person’s political opinions are not governed by revelation as much as by natural law. Natural law is the truth about the rational and social nature of human beings that we can know without revelation’s help. Evangelicals tend to believe that if it were not for the absolute truth of Biblical revelation, something like the libertarian understanding of the absolutely autonomous individual (the being described by Barnett and by the Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Lawrence v. Texas) would describe our lives. The Catholic view is that a consistent individualism is not an adequate account of who we are as natural beings, and so the limits to liberty understood as autonomy can be realized whether or not one believes in the Biblical God. We don’t need to be Christians—either Catholic or evangelical—to see that abortion is wrong.
Catholics are much better than evangelicals in connecting their faith-based perceptions to general-audience arguments on the purpose and limits of Constitutional law. That’s not to say that Catholic justices would use “natural law” to declare statutes and policies un-Constitutional without showing clearly how that law is actually embodied in the text of the Constitution itself. The point is more that those who see natural law as true are more likely to see efforts to understand the judicial power in a radically individualistic and activist way as at war with the way human beings really are.
I think hes right about "run-of-the-mill" evangelicalism, which is sort of happily voluntaristic, but not about its neo-Calvinist strain, which talks a lot about
"common grace." As with everything Peter writes, its pithy and illuminating.
Anne Applebaum counsels against schadenfreude in thinking about Francess problems, but suggests that the French should take the advice and admonitions they so, er, generously gave us in the aftermath of Katrina.
E.J. Dionne, Jr. might be onto something here, though Id want to hear Lucas Morels take on it:
Democrats all over the country will study how this devout Catholic explained his opposition to the death penalty as a matter of deep religious concern. The strangest thing is that because the death penalty issue encouraged Kaine to talk about his faith, it may have helped him with conservative voters.
"This is a very good proving ground for the belief that Democrats can talk about values and their faith and it will make a difference," said Karl Struble, a top Kaine adviser.
David Eichenbaum, another Kaine adviser, noted how faith immunized Kaine from the dreaded L-word. Focus groups were shown "the worst attacks against Tim that they would use to make him into a big bad liberal." The groups were then shown footage of Kaine "talking about the importance to him of his religious values and convictions." The result? "Almost to a person, they would say that he must be a moderate or a conservative, and that he couldnt be a liberal."
I have two thoughts. First, everyone liked Joe Liebermans faith, and look how far it got him in the Democratic primaries. Times have changed a little, but have they changed that much for the Democratic primary electorate? Second, Id want to know what Kaine said about abortion. If his position on abortion lined up with his opposition to the death penalty--following what the Catholic bishops have called the "seamless garment" approach--then Id give him points for sincerity, but wonder about how well that position would fare in the presidential primaries. And if his opposition to the death penalty is "faith-based," but he doesnt oppose abortion, Im not sure he should have gotten the kind of pass Dionne says he got from the voters.
Stated another way, while abortion isnt and shouldnt be a litmus test, how seriously a candidate grapples with it and how willing he or she is to take on the NARAL wing of the Democratic Party ought to tell voters something about how sincere or stategic the talk about religion is.
The only thing that genuinely surprised me about the defeat of all the ballot initiatives in California yesterday was the defeat of the parental notification on abortions for minors proposition (73) which was only half-heartedly supported by Arnold. I thought the common sense of the thing AND the fact that Arnold was not out in front of the issue gave it at least some chance of passing. It failed--though not by much and considering the low voter turn-out, it might have passed in a more interesting election cycle.
Fellow Native Ohioan turned Californian, Hugh Hewitt has a wonderful open letter to "The Govinator" which, in sum, explains that Arnold’s failure was really a failure of so-called "moderate" Republicanism. It is the failure that should be expected when Republicans think they can march into office and practice the politics of "let’s get along" and distance themselves from their conservative base. It is naivete. Great quote: " . . . you have now run into the reality of California politics. The folks who don’t care much about politics, well, they really don’t care much about politics. They certainly can’t get you wins on their own. There aren’t enough of them." Arnold needs to surround himself with more reliable conservatives and start taking their advice. Probably wouldn’t be bad advice for the White House either. Read the whole thing. Worth a mug.
Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam think big for Republicans, taking as their point of departure the fact that a substantial portion of the party’s constituency is not affluent. It’s a long article, replete with wonky policy ideas, but Michael Barone calls it "brilliant," which is good enough for me and ought to be good enough for you, dear reader. Here’s a sample of their bold thinking on family policy, focusing on the effort to help parents exit and enter the workforce as they raise children:
For instance, the government could offer subsidies to those who provide child care in the home, and pension credits that reflect the economic value of years spent in household labor. Or again, Republicans might consider offering tuition credits for years spent rearing children, which could be exchanged for post-graduate or vocational education. These would be modeled on veterans’ benefits--and that would be entirely appropriate. Both military service and parenthood are crucial to the country’s long-term survival. It’s about time we recognize that fact.
Such a recognition, not incidentally, would be a recipe for continued GOP political dominance. Married couples are already the most reliable Republican voters. Policies making it easier to get married, stay married, and have more children would cement these voters’ loyalties, and they would also draw wavering, culturally-conservative-but-economically-anxious voters into the Republican fold. The party of James Dobson isn’t going to win back wealthy social liberals any time soon. But a pro-family economic agenda might make inroads among, say, upwardly mobile minorities, or working-class whites in increasingly up-for-grabs states like Minnesota and Iowa.
Michael Barone (who else?) tells you more than you ever wanted to know about Virginia (and promises more about other states later). Here’s his very tentative bottom line:
[T]he Virginia and New Jersey results show state electorates pretty much where they were in 2001. You could argue that means the Bush and Republican turnout and percentage increases of 2004 have disappeared. But that would still leave us as the 49 percent nation we were in 2000—and not a nation that is swinging as heavily to the Democrats as it did to the Republicans in 1993-94.
There is, of course, much more here, all of it worth reading. Hat tip:
Ken Blanchard of South Dakota Politics.
Update: Heres Barone on New Jersey.
Tom Cerber calls our attention to this account of a course on "Terrorism and Civil Liberties" Judge Alito taught at Seton Hall. It sounds like he taught it well, in that he asked hard questions and didnt offer easy answers. While the Volokhians are doubtful that we can learn anything about his substantive judgments from his course, performances like this make it harder to paint him as an ideologue.
As I predicted, State Issues 2-5 were soundly defeated, though I was wrong about the percentages—instead of losing 40-60, they all received "no" votes between 63-70%. The voters of our fine state showed their wisdom once again. The Secretary of State’s website has complete results. In the county-by-county breakdown, it is worth noting that the issues were defeated even more soundly in Ashland County, most in excess of 80% "no" votes. I love this place.
In other elections news, Cleveland has a new mayor, Democrats maintained their hold on governorships in Virginia and New Jersey, Schwarzenegger’s ballot initiatives failed, and Republican Michael Bloomberg was reelected as mayor of New York.
Wilfred McClay speculates that there will be an extremely ugly populist backlash against the French rioters, with Sarkozy swept aside by someone more like Jean Marie Le Pen:
It will come as a surprise because such Americans falsely and simplistically see the countries of Western Europe as gigantic blue states. But the survey data do not bear this out. Yes, “blue state” values are far more predominant in the nations of Western Europe, especially France. But none of these nations is culturally monolithic, and the divisions that we now see burning on our TV screens are not the only ones. There are others, too, that may be on the verge of emerging into fuller view.
Read the whole thing.
The polls at 7:30 in Ohio. The official results (especially interesting will be Propositions 2-5) will be found at the Secreteray of States site, just click on "polls" above. Just for the heck of it, I predict that the "no" votes will take it circa 60-40%.
The 12th day of violence.
"Nationwide, vandals burned 1,173 cars overnight compared with 1,408 vehicles a night earlier, police said. A total of 330 people were arrested, down from 395 the night before." I guess this is progress. A "state of emergency" is in place now. No Pasaran thinks that the French media is downplaying the rioting.
E.J. Dionne, Jr. thinks that Democrats should offer voters something other than "focus-group-driven sloganeering and mush." He points to the current issue of the Washington Monthly, which includes this article by editor Paul Glastris.
Heres Glastris analysis of why several of President Bushs ownership and empowerment initiatives havent be popular:
Americans love the idea of choice—in the abstract. But when faced with the actual choices conservatives present, they arent buying. The reason is that conservatives have constructed choices that fail to take human nature into account. People like to have choices but feel quickly overwhelmed when they lack the information or expertise to decide confidently, and they turn downright negative when the choices themselves seem to put what they already have at risk. Conservatives were bound to make these mistakes because their very aim has been to transfer more risks from government to individuals so that governments size and expenditures can be cut. Thats not a bargain most Americans will accept. They like choice just fine, but they wont trade security to get it.
Theres much of interest in the article, focusing on our allegedly natural responses to complexity and risk, responses that seem more prevalent in older Americans than in their younger counterparts. Glastris big idea is using government to structure the choices we would like to have--"libertarian paternalism" he calls it, following Cass Sunstein, among others.
If the Democrats are going to revive their political fortunes in the long term, it will because they pay attention to ideas like this. It would require that they beat back or "re-educate" certain of their constituencies, which may or may not happen. But Republicans would do well to pay attention, since they cant simply expect or hope that Democrats will remain politically self-destructive indefinitely.
President Bush has named Allen Guelzo of Gettysburg College to the National Council for the Humanities, along with Jean Bethke Elshtain of the University of Chicago and former Under Secretary for Education Eugene W. Hickock. The NCH, which consists of 26 scholars, artists, writers, and composers, serves as an advisory board to the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Addition: Eugene Hickock also spoke at the Ashrbook Center, in 2001.
John von Heyking has started reflecting on all of this. This longish essay is very valuable because it takes you immediately into both the cause and the meaning of the violence, and why France (Europe) cant defend itself. John thinks that "France’s Algerian and Islamist powder keg has exploded and the situation and the regime’s response illuminate some of the deepest fault lines of the modern age." He uses de Tocqueville to explain why the French paternal state can’t integrate the third generation immigrant. De Villepin is cast aside, and Sarkozy doesn’t fare much better. Interesting. Pay attention, this is good stuff.
The Heritage Guide to the Constitution just landed on my desk. Edited by Matthew Spalding and David Forte (the Advisory Board was chaired by Ed Meese), it brings together more than 100 of the nation’s best legal experts to provide the first ever line-by-line examination of the framers’ Constitution and its contemporary meaning. That bit about the nations best legal experts is a bit of a stretcher since folks like me, Jeff Sikkenga, Mac Owens, John Eastman wrote for it. But then so did Charles Kesler, R.J. Pestritto, John Yoo, Forrest McDonald, Ralph Rossum, Eugene Volokh, Brad Smith, Herman Belz, et al. You get the point. Good book. Get it, and buy one for your library.
William Kristol explains how politically costly the attempt to put social security reform at the center of the Administrations second term agenda has been. His advice about a comeback is here:
Keeping Rove; being unapologetic about the war; explaining why Saddam had to be removed, that there were terror ties between Saddam and al Qaeda, and why the war needs to be seen through to victory; fighting for Alito, and other well-qualified conservative judges at the appellate level; advancing pro-growth, pro-family tax reforms--this agenda wont enamor Bush to liberals. But it could lay the groundwork for a Bush comeback. The alternative is three long years of ducking, dodging--and defeat.
According to the USA Today yesterday’s violence was the worst to date: more than 30 police were injured (10 hit by gunfire) and 1,400 cars burned across the country, and 395 people were arrested. Note this: "Almost 1,000 cars were targeted in towns and cities outside Paris, underscoring how violence has spread from its original flashpoint." France’s police chief warned that a shock wave is spreading across the country. The New York Times reports that the police seemed powerless to stop "the mayhem." Were some cars also torched in Berlin? (via No Pasaran.)
The WaPo’s Alan Cooperman (who is generally scrupulous in his coverage of religion and politics) offers a very good account of Catholic intellectual traditions and legal education in his treatment of the incipient Catholic majority on the Court, about which I posted here.. I wasn’t sure that I’d ever see the words "natural law" in the Post, or in any other newspaper.
My previous post about Jimmy Carter provoked a medium-length discussion thread. So heres my favorite sentence from his new book:
[Rosalyn and I] have been amazed at the response of people to these new latrines, especially in Ethiopia, and to learn that the primary thrust for building them has come from women.
Supply your own punchline.
This book review (which Arts and Letters Daily brought to my attention) by John Derbyshire of Nicholas Ostler’s Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World reminds me to tell you that Ostler’s book is indeed very interesting and useful, even for a layman. Take a look at it.
He thinks Sanskrit is an especially interesting language that has, somehow from the start, encouraged its users and grammarians to have disputations about grammar. This "provided a natural forum for intellectual exercise and argument" that, somehow, appealed to "abstract principle." So, Ostler argues, while Sanskrit based civilization treasures its epics and literary classics, its culture does not revolve around them (as does Greek, for example). "Nor does its philosophy emphasize socially useful theories, such as politics, ethics or the art of persuasion. Rather it theorizes about states of being and modes of perception. There is a certain sense in which Sanskrit theory fails to connect with the practical world."
"But this immense, finely boned book is no dull administrative or bureaucratic history; rather, it is a story of personalities -- a messianic drama, if you will -- in which Lincoln must increase and the others must decrease." It is well written and takes hundreds of pages (the book is almost a thousand pages long) to tell the personal stories of the four great rivals (Lincoln, Chase, Seward, Bates) for the presidency in 1860. The rest of the book is a very well crafted (Guelzo calls her a "popular" historian) story of Lincoln’s cat herding, or his prudent political management, as you please. (I like Guelzo’s comment, en pasant, that Salmon P. Chase was the John McCain of mid-century Republicanism! Chase was the only Cabinet member who never quite admited to Lincoln’s greatness). The book will be on the best-seller list soon enough, and that’s fine. The worse thing about it is that then I will have to put up with seeing more of "Dorin Kearns Goodwin, presidential historian," all over the TV talk shows for months. Her writing is much better than her voice. Yet, her topic with this book is much grander than all the others she has written, or plagiarized, as you please.
I’m no longer counting the number of nights this rioting has gone on in France. The numbers no longer matter. The point has been made. It can go on for as many nights as they want, and it can go on anywhere in France. Talk has it that it can erupt anywhere in Europe, at any time, and, to repeat myself, last as long as the rioters want it to last. This needs to be said just to make the point about who really has control.
Bellmont Club has both sound thoughts on what’s going on in France, and some good links. For example, he links to Paul Belien, who explains the Ottoman Empire’s "millet" system, what that has to do with the current predicament of France, and to the fact that Sarkozy (being a child of immigrant parents) is the only one that understand all this. I’m tempted to quote the whole 600 word essay, entitled "The Fall of France," but just click on his name.
Here is a long article that Belien links to on Sarkozy by Marc Perelman, from the July, 2005, issue of Foreign Policy. But David Warren is not impressed by either de Villepin or Sarkozy. He prefers to understand the turmoil very clearly in the light of Charles Martels victory at
Tours in 732.
readership continues to decline. Maybe everyones blood pressure is up. Ronald Reagan said this in 1987: "My doctors told me this morning my blood pressure is down so low that I can start reading the newspapers."
French cynics like the prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, have spent the last two years scoffing at the Bush Doctrine: Why, everyone knows Islam and democracy are incompatible. If so, that’s less a problem for Iraq or Afghanistan than for France and Belgium.
Read the whole thing, but also think about this line from the WaPo article:
"We dont have the American dream here," said Rezzoug, as he surveyed the clusters of young men. "We dont even have the French dream here."
It is activist to import something into the Constitution that is not written there, based on ones own policy preferences. It is not activist to apply and enforce the Constitution as it is written. That, on the contrary, is the duty of every state and federal judge.
WaPo political columnist David Broder has been interviewing Ohioans. No one, except a few Democratic partisans, cares about the Libby indictment. No one wants to try to sort out who’s responsible for the post-Katrina suffering. It’s all about the war:
But the war is something else. The Republican friend, who is a true Bush loyalist, said he feared that Iraq is splitting this country in a fashion all too familiar from the days of the Vietnam War.
"The opponents of the war are increasingly vocal," he said, "and they want the troops out now, and to hell with the consequences."
But, he said, "I’m also hearing more voices on the other side saying: Let’s go in with guns blazing and win this thing, once and for all, so we can get out. People are saying, ’We’ve got to tell the Sunnis to clean out the insurgents -- or else.’ I’ve heard people say we ought to surround those Sunni villages where the fighters are hiding, give them 24 hours to get out and then level every building, so they can’t come back."
"What people can’t stand," he said, "is this unending story of two or three more Americans dying every day -- and nothing to show that the end is in sight."
Of course, Broder never suggests that shoddy, adversarial press coverage (there are, of course a few exceptions) is in large measure responsible for this version of the dominant Iraq storyline. Different press coverage (and I don’t mean cheerleading) would give a picture of the situation in Iraq more conducive to patience and perseverance.
Broder concedes that if in the next year GWB can resolve the Iraq situation in a way satisfactory to the press, "all the other issues confronting the administration at home and abroad probably become manageable."
Im losing track of the number of nights, I think it is night ten of rioting and destruction. This is not, according to this story, a political revolution, or one controlled by criminal gangs, or even a Muslim uprising. "Theres a lot of rage. Through this burning, theyre saying, I exist, Im here." The rioting has spread to some 15 cities, including to the center of Paris, with some 900 cars torched. They exist, theyre everywhere.
Stephen F. Hayes shows how it can be done with respect to judgments about pre-war intelligence.
Three reasons to read The Weekly Standard.
As you watch the loathesome Jimmy Carter pop up on all the TV chat shows promoting his dreadful new book, Our Endangered Values, just warm yourself with the thought that today is the 25th anniversary of the election of Ronald Reagan and the end of the long national nightmare of that grinning fool.
Heather MacDonald is very critical of the Mexican government and its diplomats. She says that even if it may be true that diplomacy is the art of lying for one’s country, the Mexicans have taken it to a new level. To say they are not helpful with immigration issues is an understatement. In the meantime in Argentina the President of Mexico Vincente Fox comes to Bush’s aid on free trade against Hugo Chavez.
Another 420 set ablaze last night in suburbs surrounding Paris. Thats 420; with 187 cars destroyed; but only five buildings were destroyed. One cop said, "The peak is now behind us." There was some TV coverage of the events last night. This story puts the cars torched at over 500, as the unrest has spread to 20 provincial towns.
"According to one report, a disabled woman was doused in petrol and set on fire when she was unable to escape a bus under attack in the northern suburb of Sevran. She was rescued by the driver and is being treated for severe burns, according to state prosecutors.
Disturbances also took place for the first time in other towns, including Dijon, Rouen and the outskirts of Marseille.
Television networks have mostly stayed away from the scenes of the confrontations. Camera crews have been physically attacked and reports blamed for stoking the discontent."
says that many of the rioters are Muslims of north African origin and "They are mostly second and third-generation immigrant youths who feel cheated by Frances official promises of liberty, equality and fraternity."
Allison Hayward regrets that the Online Freedom of Speech Act failed to pass the House on Wednesday. She thinks that now the FEC will be more inclined--thinking that Congress is not interestied in protecting the Internet--to get involved with Internet rulemaking, to everyones disadvantage, including bloggers. She blames the media, in large part, for misrepresenting what the bill was all about. Good read.
Ill almost certainly write an op-ed on this subject, but for the moment you can take a look at this NYT article, this old Yale Law Journal note, and the 3rd Circuit opinions collected here. Heres PFAWs preliminary report, the AU press release, and the Alliance for Justices preliminary report.
Very preliminary bottom line: no surprises here; Alito is squarely in the mainstream of conservative jurisprudence, which means that the liberal interest groups will call him an extremist, perhaps even an incipient theocrat.
Joseph Loconte takes a critical look at recent Christian attempts to offer a pacifist response to the global war on terror. He finds a lot of woolly thinking and willful ignorance of al Qaedas aims. The best of the lot are the self-conscious neo-Augustinians, but even they would have a hard time overcoming the arguments offered here and here.
See this. Saddest quote:
Irene Choi, a psychology student and member of the Undergraduate Council, is thrilled to have more choices. She said that most students “dread” core classes, and that the “about 1,000 students,” she said, that take “Justice,” in the moral reasoning category, just take it for lack of anything more enticing. “Some core fields are so underdeveloped that everybody takes one class,” she said.
Choi added that a science student wants to take three economics courses to fill a social sciences requirement, they should be able to. “Students pay for their education and they expect to be able to take courses they’re interested in,” she said. “If a student wants to take all econ. Why not let them? They’re still learning things.”
Faculty dont have to teach outside their research areas, which makes for narrow and/or trendy classes. Students dont have to be challenged by subjects with which theyre uncomfortable or in which they dont think theyre interested. The cause: self-interest and consumerism. The effect: narrow specialization, ignorance, and illiberality (in the classical sense).
Congratulations to this month’s winners of a No Left Turns mug! The winners are as follows:
Gary L. Mauer
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 Novembers drawing.
"Parents have a right to inform their children when and as they wish on the subject of sex,’’ said Judge Stephen Reinhardt in the 3-0 ruling. "They have no constitutional right, however, to prevent a public school from providing its students with whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise.’’
This is one reason why we home-school.
This ruling gets at the fears people have about losing control of their childrens sexuality. It is within the privacy rights of a minor child to have an abortion without informing or receiving the consent of her parents, but it is not within the privacy rights of a parent to consent before their minor children are probed by strangers about their thoughts concerning touching the genitals of strangers. This ruling is incendiary because it has everything to do with the proper place of sexuality in American public life. Its why were having a culture war. Its why we get things like Prop 2, the anti-gay marriage amendment Texans will be voting on next week. And its why, Tom Frank, that Kansans keep electing Republicans.
James Ceaser, the best American commentator on why and how Europeans misunderstand us, patiently explains why the European post-Christians really cant effectively address the problem of promoting democracy in the Islamic world. Because they misunderstand American religiosity, they assume that only their brand of secularism holds out the hope for a liberal and democratic future. American elites, who pay obeisance to their allegedly sophisticated European intellectual betters, are misled by their own heated disputes with conservative religionists and go along with this fruitless quest. Ceasers advice is to take a two-track approach, American and European secularists speaking to their Middle Eastern counterparts and American religionists explaining to Muslims how its possible to be faithful to religion and to liberal democracy.
Rioting went into the seventh night (also see here).
No Passaran has taken note of the fact that the rioters are now using real bullets against the cops, and the French press is mystified by all this since guns have been banned a long time in the great Republic. Young French bloggers are making things worse, keep scrolling down at No Passaran.
If you are interested in campaign finance issues and related matters, you had better have a look at Skeptic’s Eye. Always good, clear, hard hitting and, as far as I can tell, right. Good job Allison!
Commentary magazine is celebrating its sixtieth anniversary. Good for them, good for the country. Take a look at
this symposium on American foreign policy and the Bush doctrine: Defending and Advancing Freedom. Over thirty "leading thinkers" (e.g., Buckley, Berman, Hanson, Kristol, Helprin, Boot, Luttwak) respond. Useful.
A sample. Eliot Cohen’s concluding paragraph, harsh, but elegant:
"The expansive vision of the Bush administration seems to me broadly right, and I admire unreservedly the courage and determination with which it has pressed the fight. But how I wish that the spine of steel had found its match in an eloquence suitable to the moment; how I would have desired as great a stress on talent as on fidelity; how much better if the commitment to a vision of freedom abroad were matched with an equal and effective commitment to greatness at home; how ironic and sad that competence—the quality upon which this administration prided itself when it came to office—has, for too long, been in such short supply."
Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in this case, pitting a small American branch of a Brazilian syncretist religious group against the federal government on the question of whether the U.S. can ban importation of an hallucinogenic tea the group uses in its ceremonies. The issues, established by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, are whether the the federal government’s interest in controlling drug abuse is compelling and whether a blanket prohibition of the importation of the tea is the least restrictive means of achieving that interest. Things don’t seem to be going to well for the government, when even Antonin Scalia, the author of the Employment Division v. Smith opinion, observes that "you can make exceptions without the sky falling."
For commentary from big guns, go here, here, here, and here. Michael McConnell sided with the religious group in the 10th Circuit en banc hearing. I also take this opportunity to note that my brief prognostication about this case will likely be incorrect, since Scalia seems to be questioning the compelling state interest articulated in the Controlled Substances Act (which is to say that he’s doing what RFRA told the courts to do).
Update: Marci Hamilton, who doesnt like this one bit, has more here.
Here. The conclusion:
A War Like No Other is very much a post-9/11 book. Certain of Hanson’s emphases—on the role of terror in the war, on the nature of “asymmetrical” conflict—reflect this fact. His purpose, however, is not to draw facile lessons for today from these events of so long ago. He is much too careful a scholar not to maintain a wall between his historical efforts and his journalistic ones. His appeal is to the serious reader who shares his interest both in this most fateful of Greek wars and in the anatomy of war as such. He evokes for us, today, the harsh fates of so many ordinary men of a vanished epoch, concluding with a litany of the obscurely fallen and the injunction to remember them, for if the study of war and its lessons is for all of us, the fighting of the Peloponnesian war was “theirs alone.”
Last and perhaps best, Hanson’s achievement encourages us to return to the masterpiece upon which it depends. You can never be too rich or too thin, or have too many reasons to reread Thucydides.
Thanks to John von Heyking. (If you want links to the other Orwinian nuggets he shared, send me an email.)
Francis Fukuyama argues that terrorism is not just (or at all) a problem of dysfunctional Middle Eastern societies and polities. Many terrorists live or came of age in Europe. Their Islamism, Fukuyama argues, is a response to their failure to integrate into their new home countries. And that failure can be traced to misbegotten mulitculturalism and labor policies. Here’s the core of Fukuyama’s conclusion:
The real challenge for democracy lies in Europe, where the problem is an internal one of integrating large numbers of angry young Muslims and doing so in a way that does not provoke an even angrier backlash from right-wing populists. Two things need to happen: First, countries like Holland and Britain need to reverse the counterproductive multiculturalist policies that sheltered radicalism, and crack down on extremists. But second, they also need to reformulate their definitions of national identity to be more accepting of people from non-Western backgrounds.
The final recommendation, by the way, amounts to an elevation of the American example: a "nationalism of principle" can ultimately accommodate and integrate immigrants much better than can one that focuses on ethnicity.
Update: Andrew McCarthy responds to Fukuyama, but without engaging what I take to be his most interesting conclusion. McCarthy seems to assume that what Fukuyama wants is more better multiculturalism, and a weakening of various European national identities. I dont think so. What he seems to want is a reconception of national identity in terms that dont depend upon ultimately illusory conceptions of ethnic homogeneity.
Thats a long blog title for this relatively brief column. His bottom line advice is that Roe might more effectively be overturned bit by bit, rather than by an assault on its center. If he means by this that judges should never overreach the facts of the case before them and that they should decide only what needs to be decided in order to settle the case, Im inclined to agree. Its up to the legislatures (that lead and reflect public opinion) to push the "constitutional" envelope so that judges can roll back the decision.
The Paris riots continue. This is worth watching because it is in France, it has to do (at least in part) with Muslims, and--perhaps most important--this has everything to do with the future of French politics (de Villepin vs. Sarkozy), and perhaps with the future of France and Europe. Note that Sarkozy at one point said: "I talk with real words."
Here is how a Washington Times story on the Maryland race for governor starts: "Black Democratic leaders in Maryland say that racially tinged attacks against Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele in his bid for the U.S. Senate are fair because he is a conservative Republican.
Such attacks against the first black man to win a statewide election in Maryland include pelting him with Oreo cookies during a campaign appearance, calling him an "Uncle Tom" and depicting him as a black-faced minstrel on a liberal Web log." It just gets worse. This is shameful stuff! I hope Steele wins.
Update: You can find a version of Bill McClays piece, on which I rely quite a bit, in the June, 2005 issue of Commentary (unfortunately only in the subscriber-only archives online).
I missed this Peggy Noonan column last week in which she quoted Christopher Lawford (Teddy Kennedys nephew) telling about a remark of Teddys at a family gathering, "Im glad Im not going to be around when you guys are my age. I asked him why, and he said, Because when you guys are my age, the whole thing is going to fall apart. "
There it is, in one short sentence: a fundamental aspect of liberalisms long decline. Liberalism used to be an optimistic creed, and liberals believed in progress and the ability to solve problems through the persistent application of human intelligence and will. The future was always something to look forward to; now they dread it. Now looking forward to the future is a Reaganite trait. Teddy and his like appear reactionary.
Does this mean Teddy wont run for re-election? Nah; too much to hope for.
A few Republicans have joined the bandwagon for the economically illterate idea of imposing a "windfall profits tax" on the oil and gas industry. But lo and behold, guess who makes the largest windfall off gasoline sales? The government. According to this study from the Tax Foundation, between the years 1977 and 2004, the government has collected $1.34 trillion in gasoline taxes, while the combined profits of the oil companies was $640 billion.
Meanwhile, even as gasoline prices are starting (predictably) to decline, natural gas prices look to stay very high through the winter. The Argonne National Laboratory issued a report entitled Environmental Policy and Regulatory Constraints on Natural Gas Production that identifies more than 30 different laws and regulatory regimes that have put off limits at least 100 trillion cu. ft of natural gas in the United States—a 20 year supply at current rates of use. Instead, were soon going to have to start importing natural gas from you-know-where. (Hat tip to Holman Jenkins column in todays Wall Street Journal—not available to non-subscribers—"Something to Think About While Shivering in the Dark.")
"Most parents want their boys to go to church," he said. "Ive had atheists, Jews, Catholics and Muslims play for me, and Ive never not started a boy because of his faith. Im Christian, but all religions have some kind of commandments, and if kids would obey them, the world would be a better place."
In fact, he said, when about 70 percent of his players come from single-parent homes, or are reared by an extended family, it is his right and responsibility to be candid about his faith. "You got 90 kids in a history or psychology classroom around here, and a professor can stand up and say anything he wants in creation," Mr. Bowden said recently in an interview at his office. "Why cant I tell my boys what I believe?"
I might have to reevaluate my aversion to the Seminoles and the Bulldogs.
With Samuel Alitos nomination to serve as the fifth Catholic on the Supreme Court, I thought it worthwhile to catch up with what the Catholic law professors over at Mirror of Justice were saying. Heres one post, with links to this one (on the changing face of conservatism) and this one (a joke).
In general, its noteworthy that the evangelical George W. Bush is nominating a second Catholic after a failed attempt to nominate an evangelical (Michael McConnell, by the way, is an evangelical). At MOJ, Thomas Berg offers one explanation--that the conservative Catholic talent pool is deeper than that of conservative evangelicals, since the former have been attending elite institutions for at least a decade longer. Thats plausible, but I wonder if theres another explanation as well--that the Catholic tradition is much more conducive to the development of legal doctrine. The good news for evangelicals in these matters is that the common causes in the culture wars are bringing together folks from all sides of the traditional Protestant-Catholic split, and providing for interesting cross-fertilization, as is evident here and here.
News this afternoon is that Democrats have forced the Senate into a secret session, which can be done without consent or a majority vote, to complain about the lack of investigation into the origins of the Iraq war.
The Brave Sir Harry Reid (hat tip to Brave Sir Robin of Monty Python fame) probably thinks hes emulating the confrontational style that served Newt Gingrich so well in is drive to gain a Republican majority in the House ten years ago. More likely Reid is just neutering himself in much the same way the GOP did in 1998 by overdoing the Clinton scandal. Or at least so thinks Glenn Reynolds.
Just heard on ABC Radio news that according to a Gallup Poll, 81 percent of Americans are not paying attention/dont care about Prince Charles and Lady Camillas visit to the U.S. The American republican tradition lives!
Ken Masugi has nothing nice to say about this speech by Patrick Leahy, who doesnt sound like he will be voting for Samuel Alito. Leahy presents himself as a constitutionalist, defending the Presidents prerogatives against extremists in his own party. And he claims to be able to define what constitutes the mainstream, not only of the Republican Party, but of the nation as a whole. Ken is right: it wont work, but only if Alito is defended on the level of principle.
Michael DeBow calls our attention to this review of Patrick Allitts Im the Teacher, Youre the Student. The reviewer notes that, after reading the book, an account of Allitts undergraduate American history course, his continued devotion to teaching seems mysterious.
While Jim Wallis’ book, God’s Politics, is no longer as ubiquitous as the author himself, Doug Bandow’s review, just published, remains timely, above all because he makes a strong case for the role of prudential judgment in applying Biblical principles, such as they are, to politics. Bandow himself has a book on this subject. Hat tip: Hunter Baker.
Jonathan Adlers WSJ op-ed explains why those interested in the rule of law should be pleased with a Justice Alito. As Adler notes, Judge Alito "is not a dogmatic conservative; his record shows a man more interested in getting the law right and faithfully applying applicable precedents than scoring rhetorical points or advancing an ideological agenda. As he commented in an interview earlier this year, Judges should be judges. They shouldnt be legislators, they shouldnt be administrators." Adler concludes: "We may not all agree with all of [Roberts and Alitos] decisions, but we will respect their judgment, appreciate their analyses, and admire their commitment to the law." Read the whole thing.
Muslim youth were at it for the fifth night in a row; it has also "spread to neighborhood towns" (whatever that means). Also note this remark by Sarkozy, which I do not claim to understand (from the International Herald Tribune): "Sarkozy says that violence in French suburbs is a daily fact of life. Since the start of the year, 9,000 police cars have been stoned and, each night, 20 to 40 cars are torched, Sarkozy said in an interview last week with the newspaper Le Monde." Why is there no TV coverage of this?
Jackie Spinner, writing in the Washington Post, gives the reader a little bit of the right flavor of what change of regime means from the ground up. Creating a new Iraqi military is hard work. What is persuasive to an Iraqi is not exactly duty, honor, country stuff, but rather, money, privilege, authority. The American grunts trying to teach the Iraqis some measure of responsibility are very impressive. For much more on such themes see Robert Kaplan.
George Will reflects on the Alito nomination, and finds it satisfying, and considers the two most disreputable arguments made by Demos against Alito. Coming from the Left, David Corn argues that the Democrats must make a serious argument against Alito. The Senate Dems must argue that Alito would be bad for America.
E.J. Dionne, Jr. has become a spokesman for Moveon.org and all the other left wing interest groups, arguing, in effect, for a filibuster of the Alito nomination until the Bush Administration comes clean on all its misdeeds concerning the Wilson-Plame affair. The nomination of Alito is, in any event, a divisive (unlike the nominations of Breyer and Ginsburg) attempt to distract us from the real issues, which involve a self-important ex-ambassadors attempt to discredit intelligence that the British government still endorses and the alleged outing of a covert agent whose husband was doing everything possible to call attention to himself and whose current status didnt and doesnt meet the requirement of the law.