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.