The lead editorial in Friday’s Wall Street Journal, "Immigration (Spin) Control," uses all the rhetorical tricks normally associated with the far left in its continuing assault on those who seek enforcement of our immigration laws: Straw man argument, definitional legerdemain, playing fast and loose with statistics, mischaracterizations, false accusations, and outright lies. So who’s doing the "spin" here?
Only from its myopic perch in Manhattan could the WSJ editorial board subscribe to the view that Senator John Campbell won the California special congressional election to replace Chris Cox "in a walk." The district is one of the most solidly republican in the state, and State Senator John Campbell, a popular elected official (and a good man, too) was the party’s only candidate on Tuesday, yet he managed only 45% of the vote in a district with a 65%/35% major party registration advantage (and better than 50% Republican registration overall, even including the nearly 20% "Declined to State" number). And he received a smaller percentage of the vote in the run-off than he had received in the primary election, in which he faced 11 other republicans. Jim Gilchrist, on the other hand, running as a minor-party candidate (and not an enviable minor party at that) went from 14.8% in the primary to 25% in the run-off election, despite his party’s 1.8% registration in the district. In other words, Gilchrist drew almost all of the votes that had gone to other republicans in the primary.
Worse, calling Jim Gilchrist a "restrictionist", and falsely accusing those who supported him as being anti-immigration (rather than anti-illegal immigration, a big difference) is beneath the editorial pages of the WSJ. Using the double speak of the left is likewise. "Law-abiding businesses that happen to hire illegals"--that would make the businesses not law-abiding in most folks’ definition--is as bad as the left’s use of "undocumented" as a euphemism for illegal. And it is simply false to assert, as the WSJ does, that these businesses can’t tell the difference "between real and fake immigration documents." As surely even the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal knows, that ignorance (if it ever existed at all) lasts only as long as employers’ first quarterly filings of withholding taxes, because they receive a letter from the government notifying them that the Social Security number does not match the employee’s name. "As if anyone could tell the difference" indeed.
"But we need the labor," pleads the WSJ, and the only way to get it is via immigration. If true, then lets raise the quotas for legal immigration and streamline the process. Why is it that the WSJ is not pushing for such an easy legislative fix? My guess: legal immigration labor would not be much different than citizen labor; same wages, same workplace rules, same withholding taxes, even the same resort to the tort system. The only way to get the financial bang from immigrant labor that the WSJ seems to want is to have a slavish pool of illegal migrant workers. This is starting to bear an uncanny resemblance to John C. Calhoun’s positive good arguments for slavery, and it is making me sick to my stomach. It should make us all sick.
The Los Angeles Times, at least, is accurately reporting the growing movement in Congress to address the problem of illegal immigration. Note, though: Tamar Jacoby, of the Manhattan Institute, continues her utter ignorance of the problem, apparently afflicted by the same Manhattan myopia suffered by the WSJ editorial board. "I have never met a poor person who has his wife walk across the desert at eight months pregnant so they can wait 21 years to be sponsored by their child," she is quoted as saying. Ms. Jacoby: Let’s debate the subject, and let’s hold the debate in San Diego or El Paso. We can begin with a nighttime visit to the border, and you can "meet" some of the poor people you think do not exist. Coming across at a clip of more than 1 million a year, we should not have to wait long before we find 1 (or 100) "with child."
If you're not up to speed on this case, the page containing this WaPo article also has links to the memo some disinterested politically neutral bureaucrat leaked. Here's another WaPo article that provides crucial background (note the corrections at the top of the page). The money quote comes from Roger Clegg:
To Roger Clegg, the situation is also perfectly understandable. A former civil rights deputy in the Reagan administration who is now general counsel at the Center for Equal Opportunity, Clegg said the civil rights area tends to attract activist liberal lawyers who are philosophically opposed to a more conservative approach.
"If the career people are not reflecting the policy priorities of the political appointees, then there's a problem," Clegg said. "Elections have consequences in a democracy."
The Democratic treatment of Senator Joe Lieberman tells me two things. First, the party leadership is essentially in the thrall of Moveon.org, unwilling to brook serious intraparty disagreement about how best to proceed in Iraq. Second, the leaders aren’t leaders, as they claim as their warrant for the position they hold the views of "the majority of the American people." While, last I checked, Nancy Pelosi was wrong about that, it is nonetheless revealing that she seems to be unwilling or unable to imagine taking a position at odds with what she perceives to be public sentiment. I guess she would have been excoriating anti-slavery Democrats in 1860.
Current plans call for at least dad and son to see the movie tomorrow morning. For commentary about the movie, the NRO site is hard to beat: Frederic Mathewes-Green, John J. Miller, Rich Lowry, Catherine Seipp, and a Q & A with a producer. If you’re left wanting more, there’s James Kushiner at Mere Comments (which will likely have more as more contributors make it to the movie), and Jonathan V. Last.
I’ll let you know what I think (and, more importantly, what other family members think) after we’ve seen the movie.
Update: My son and I saw the movie this afternoon. Both of us liked it a good deal, though not, I think, as much as we liked (and still like) the LOTR trilogy. The de rigeur cinematic bells and whistles were excellent: the natural vistas were beautiful, the CGI battle scenes were impressive, and the fantasy characters were extremely well-done. Everyone says that Tilda Swinton is a magnificent White Witch, and I’d have to agree, though she may scare some younger viewers. (We lost our viewing partners on the basis of her appearance in the trailer; my friend and his eight year old daughter were set to go until she was spooked by the witch.) The child/teen actors are very believeable and effective.
I think that children and parents who grew up with Narnia will be quite pleased with the movie, and so will some others (see John Moser’s comment below). It’s pretty faithful to the book, and captures its message of redemptive sacrifice very well. The bells and whistles don’t overwhelm the story, and (certainly in my 10 year old son’s case) may seal some people’s allegiance to the movie. (He’s already announced that he has to have the DVD when it comes out; I know which parts he’ll watch over and over again.)
Here, however, I must confess that I was not one of those who grew up with Narnia; I came to Lewis later in life, and then through his apologetic writings (which I like a good deal). (I was a Tolkien reader as a young teen, but didn’t then make the bridge to Lewis.) Perhaps that explains my relatively greater affection for the LOTR movies, despite their problems: the Tolkien story is written for a more "grown up" audience than are the Narnia tales. Coming to it as an adult, I don’t find the Narnia story as rich and rewarding as the tale of the rings. As a parent, I see how it works for my children, and I cherish it for that. But as an adult movie-goer, I’m satisfied but not blown away.
I’ll be interested to see whether my response is idiosyncratic. Will the film build an audience apart from families and those who fell in love with the story when they were young? Will it lead more mature viewers back to Lewis’s books? I’m interested in others’ thoughts.
How do you become the best high school in a state? Teach to state standardized tests, or read Plato, Shakespeare, and Homer? Four years after opening, Ridgeview Classical School, a charter school in Ft. Collins, becomes the best high school in Colorado, according to the Department of Education. Congratulations to the headmaster Dr. Terrence Moore, and the two former Ashbrooks who teach there. Here is Ridgeviewâ€™s web site.
Those of you in hailing distance of Chicago, or looking for an interesting and congenial conference, conducted on a human scale, should consider proposing a paper or panel for the annual meeting of the Association for Core Texts and Courses. Ill not be going this year (I have other travel plans for the Spring and promised my wife that Id minimize my time away--with the one caveat that Im almost always permitted to go somewhere in exchange for a contribution to the family finances), but have enjoyed the conferences in the past and expect to enjoy them again in the future.
The papers are expected to be relatively short (roughly six pages) and focused both on teaching and on core texts. This leaves lots of time for interesting conversations in the panel sessions.
The group itself is far from ideologically homogeneous, united by its interest in the idea of a common educational experience surrounding compelling works of literature, philosophy, and history, rather than by a particular cultural or political agenda. The conference provides a setting, in other words, where liberals and conservatives can find a common ground and have stimulating and productive exchanges. Its often not clear to me what my interlocutors political leanings are, nor, for that matter, do I wear my political allegiances on my sleeve.
Tulane University--the largest employer in New orleans--"facing significant financial shortfalls since Hurricane Katrina, announced a plan yesterday to reduce its annual operating budget by laying off 230 faculty members, cutting seven NCAA Division I programs and eliminating underperforming academic programs.
Administrators say the long-term plan -- which will ultimately reduce the annual budget by $55 million [circa 10% of its operating budget] -- is to create a stronger and leaner undergraduate school by focusing on strong programs in such areas as architecture, business, arts and sciences while jettisoning some engineering programs that were not as highly rated."
"Full-time faculty will be required to teach undergraduates, and by keeping the school smaller, officials said they will not have to lower admission standards."
The whole thing is worth reading. There is information about other colleges in New Orleans. The New York Times also runs a story on Tulane.
This chart shows federal spending, expressed as a fraction of GDP, that federal spending has not grown dramatically in recent years: "No, the only category where it seems clear that Bush has deliberately let the money flow freely is in defense. So if you think that the federal government’s spending has grown too fast in recent years, turn your attention to defense spending and health care. That’s where the money has been going." Useful links. (via Instapundit)
James C. Cooper explains with clarity and brevity why the economy is doing so well. Last querters growth was 4.3%, and for the year it will be circa 3.7%.
As I predicted, Get Religion would provide more interesting material. This time, Terry Mattingly notes that the Cooperman story may owe something to an Americans United press release. (What gives? They have a copy of the card, but I don’t! As my son once said, "What am I, chopped lumber?")
I also note that the Bushes celebrated Hannukah, which Presidents have done with some regularity since the Carter Administration.
He is president of all the people and can join in--and thereby "endorse"--the celebration of any holiday Americans celebrate. His act is an act of respect and inclusion, not an establishment of religion. The sooner we think of holiday greetings as respectful and inclusive, rather than oppressive, the sooner we can leave behind the baggage with which innocent greetings and celebrations have been weighed down.
Let’s call a Christmas, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa truce: no litigation or threat of litigation by anyone. Let people celebrate and greet one another without having to think too hard about what to say. In the unlikely event that there’s conflict, we can work it out, person to person.
Yesterday, the President gave a speech on Iraqi reconstruction to an apparently unfriendly audience. You can read other accounts of the speech here and here. Democrats and NYT reporters didn’t like what he had to say, but electioneering proceeds apace.
Meanwhile, Rep. Jack Murtha wants us to pay attention to him because he talks to people in the military.
And the President’s polls are trending upward, including this one from the NYT, though the folks over there can’t bring themselves to admit that a documentable shift in sentiment over Iraq (still negative, but not as bad as it was) has anything to do with this.
The Wall Street Journal this morning published my lengthy response to Tamar Jacoby’s op-ed challending my position on birthright citizenship. Letters by Northwestern Professor Stuart Meyer and Congressmen Lamar Smith of Texas and Dan Lungren of California supporting my position were published last week as well. This is an important debate, and long overdue. Comments on the exchange are welcome.
Senator Lieberman calls for the creation of a "war cabinet" to provide advice and direction for the war effort.
His "Bipartisan Victory in Iraq Administrative Group," designed to take some of the political edge off the war debate, would be modeled after similar panels during the Vietnam War and World War II. Lieberman: "Its time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge hell be commander-in-chief for three more years," the senator said. "We undermine the presidents credibility at our nations peril." Remember the rumor back in Fenruary that Lieberman would replace Rumsfeld?
As most of you probably realize, today is Pearl Harbor Day. Sixty-four years ago, early on a sunny Sunday morning, Japanese aircraft struck the U.S. Pacific Fleet as it lay at anchor. Within a few hours twelve warships were sunk or damaged, 188 planes destroyed (almost all of them on the ground), and some 2,400 American servicemen (and another 68 civilians) were dead.
This morning I was on a local radio show talking about the attack, and the host asked me what its legacy was. I told him that the country would never be the same again. In 1940 most Americans were dismayed at the German conquest of France, but did not see it as an urgent matter of national security. By 1950 Americans had become convinced that just about any nation, including South Korea, was vital to the nations defense. It was Pearl Harbor that brought about this colossal shift in American perceptions about the countrys role in world affairs.
For those who would like to commemorate the day by learning more about the events of December 7, I recommend the National Geographic site remembering Pearl Harbor.
Perlstein, a delightful fellow in person, affects a fascination and respect for conservatives and conservatism, but he seems to relish playing the bad boy role when he appears at conservative conferences. His argument seems to boil down to this proposition: examples of bad behavior by conservatives in power suggests an intrinsic hypocrisy in the conservative movement. In the discussion period I challenged him sharply on two points: first, whether he could establish an organic link between conservative ideas and the instances of bad behavior that he cited, or whether bad behavior wasnt endemic to politics since at least Alcibiades. (Couldnt I, I said, compile an inventory just as long of bad behavior by liberals in power? In other words, isnt he really just vindicating Acton, and therefore saying very little of signficance about the character of conservative ideas?) Second, I challenged him on his entirely typical use of the "southern strategy" charge against the GOP, arguing that if he was going to play that card he ought at least to acknowledge which party invented it in the first place and note instances such as Jimmy Carters blatant racial appeals as late as Carters governors race in 1970 (Perlstein nodded in agreement at this), and moreover that the pattern of GOP ascendence in the South (i.e., winning first in the border states and winning last in the deep south where racial sentiment was strongest--the case Gerard Alexander made so superbly in the Claremont Review a while back) suggested that the story of the political realignment in the south had more to do with broader cultural issues, such as Democratic hostility or indifference to religion. In reply, Perlstein merely repeated himself rather than grapple with my arguments. To repeat, I like Perlstein, but I wonder whether he feels the need to protect his left flank when he is slumming it with us, or whether his own ideological partisanship gets the better of him sometimes.
No Pasaran has some thoughts on this by John Vincour in the International Herald Tribune:
"If the United States has historically had more success in integrating its immigrants than Europe does nowadays, it’s because the American work ethic makes greater demands on the newcomers than Europe’s welfare societies - at the same time that America offers a job-related payback in dignity and the prospect of success."
The N.Y. Daily News rips Howard Deans comments on Iraq. Writers for the Washington Post claim that Dems are worried about Dean, Pelosi, et al, stands on Iraq. They flatter themselves into thinking that control of the House is at stake. Charlie Cook thinks that Bushs poll numbers have stabilized, and it may even be ticking up.
Anyone interested in how Presidents speak about Christmas can consider the documents in this list (all 846 of them, from Hoover through GWB in 2004). If you’re in Texas, you might want to see this exhibit. In D.C., there is of course this. If you’re in Illinois, this is the place to be. The Jimmy Carter Library and Museum has been there and done that, as has its GHWB counterpart.
Any teacher out there who wants a resource on White House Christmases, could do worse than downloading this.
Update: The list of Presidential documents doesn’t show up in the link (curses!). But if you do a keyword search for "Christmas" you can generate it on your own.
Update #2: Alan Cooperman has more on the Bushes’ "holiday" card this year. Here’s a White House photo essay and Laura Bush’s remarks at a holiday press event. There is a Bible verse in the White House card, taken from Psalm 28. Folks who are better connected than I am (Peter? Steve?) may know the precise verse (I have my own guess), but the whole context is nonetheless interesting:
1 To you I call, O LORD my Rock;
do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you remain silent,
I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.
2 Hear my cry for mercy
as I call to you for help,
as I lift up my hands
toward your Most Holy Place.
3 Do not drag me away with the wicked,
with those who do evil,
who speak cordially with their neighbors
but harbor malice in their hearts.
4 Repay them for their deeds
and for their evil work;
repay them for what their hands have done
and bring back upon them what they deserve.
5 Since they show no regard for the works of the LORD
and what his hands have done,
he will tear them down
and never build them up again.
6 Praise be to the LORD,
for he has heard my cry for mercy.
7 The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
and I will give thanks to him in song.
8 The LORD is the strength of his people,
a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
9 Save your people and bless your inheritance;
be their shepherd and carry them forever.
Last Update (I promise): And the winner is...
Religion Clause points us to this article about this years culture clashes. At the center of the article is a story from my neck of the woods, just up the interstate, in fact. It seems that an overzealous and ill-informed elementary school principal provoked this helpful response from the Alliance Defense Fund.
Much talked about yesterday was this op-ed by JFKs court historians, Theodore Sorenson and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. In case you were lucky enough to have missed it, they claim--as did Oliver Stone some years ago--that Kennedy was preparing to withdraw from Vietnam when that bullet from the book repository found its mark.
Over at Big Tent, historian Tom Bruscino finds the piece "riddled" with "distortions, hostility, and falsehoods." "What a shame," he laments, "that this is the best we seem to be able to get from two men who were serious players in the age of muscular liberalism."
I am not in the habit of directing people toward essays by Rick Perlstein (although his 2001 book Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus is one of the best political histories I have ever read), particularly when they appear on Arianna Huffingtons blog, but this rumination on the state of conservatism strikes me at least of being worthy of our consideration. I think its pretty clear that many conservatives--certainly those in power--have abandoned the principles of Goldwater (and, by extension, of John M. Ashbrook) in favor of an agenda that views their own political power practically as an end in itself. Consider this:
Young Americans for Freedom distributed a pamphlet in 1965: the text of the inaugural address of their first chairman named after the Goldwater defeat. It excoriated conservatives "who abuse the truth, who resort to violence and engage in slander," and "who seek victory at any price without regard for the broken lives...incurred by those who stand in the way." That is the spirit of Barry Goldwater.... As he put it in Conscience of a Conservative--in italics: "we entrust the conduct of our affairs to men who understand that their first duty as public officials is to divest themselves of the power they have been given."
Who are the conservatives in Washington, or in Columbus for that matter, who are taking this view now? Perlstein continues by suggesting that conservatism has become "a strategy of psychological innocence":
If the first guy turns out to be someone you would not care to be associated with, you have an easy, Platonic, out:...well, maybe hes a Republican. Or a neocon, or a paleo. Hes certainly not a conservative. The structure holds whether its William Kristol calling out Pat Buchanan, or Pat Buchanan calling out William Kristol.
As the Internets smartest liberal blogger, Digby, puts it, tongue only partially in cheek: "Conservative is a magic word that applies to those who are in other conservatives good graces. Until they arent. At which point they are liberals."
Read the whole thing. Expect to get angry. But expect to think.
Jay Cost (he ran the valuable Horse Race Blog during the 2004 election) writes a thoroughly thoughtful piece on how you should read polls for off-year congressional races, and why they are difficult to read, even if you know how. He concludes that it is almost certainly the case--based on what we now know about the electorate’s views now--that no great changes should occur in 2006. Also see this September column by Cost on the same theme.
Former CT Gov. Lowell Weicker "criticized Senator Joseph I. Lieberman’s continued support of the war in Iraq and said that if no candidate challenged the senator on the issue in the 2006 election, he would consider running." I sent money to Liberman in 1988 when he ran against Sen. Weicker who then called himself a Republican; I may have to do it again. Weicker is not one of my favorite politicians.
I agree with E.J. Dionne, Jr..
Update: Justin at Southern Appeal disagrees. Id love to see Judge Alito defend the position he and others in the Reagan Administration took vis-a-vis Roe, because it implicates a number of other conservative jurisprudential principles. Will he? Im less certain than I once was that he will.
Do you think that India’s economy is entirely service oriented? Then consider India’s manufacturing capacity. Sebastian Mallaby, in a WaPo op-ee, argues that until the reforms of the 1990s, "India had good engineers but lousy manufacturing because high tariff walls made its firms complacent. But the opening of India’s economy has forced its manufacturers to reinvent themselves." More competition for Detroit. Yet, also see this. Also note that Intel, the worlds largest chip maker, plans to invest more than $1 billion in India to strengthen its operations in the country.
Heres a piece on educating boys that speaks to our experience with our son. A snippet:
Beginning in very early grades, the sit-still, read-your-book, raise-your-hand-quietly, dont-learn-by-doing-but-by-taking-notes classroom is a worse fit for more boys than it is for most girls. This was always the case, but we couldnt see it 100 years ago. We didnt have the comparative element of girls at par in classrooms. We taught a lot of our boys and girls separately. We educated children with greater emphasis on certain basic educational principles that kept a lot of boys "in line" -- competitive learning was one. And our families were deeply involved in a childs education.
Yup. Thats one of the reasons why our kids are educated at home, rather than in school.
Peter notes this article about this document. As he notes, this is political science, not rocket science: people are willing to tolerate casualties as long as they think we’re winning, something that would be news only to those who don’t want to think about winning. For more on Peter Feaver, the Duke political scientist supposedly behind the document, go here. It turns out that the Post scooped the NYT back in June. Feaver, by the way, published a number of pro-Bush op-eds and articles during the first Bush (43) Administration.
Writing in the WaPo, Jonathan Rauch offers a different reading of public opinion on Iraq, one that owes a debt to Ohio State political scientist John Mueller, who holds the Woody Hayes (??) Chair of National Security Studies (and is cited as a critic of Feaver in the NYT article discussed above). Heres the Mueller article that prompted Rauchs piece. By focusing on Korea and Vietnam (and not taking into account WW II), Mueller argues, in essence, that all that matters in influencing American public opinion is the casualty rate, and that, once opinion turns against the war, the slide cant be reversed. You can see earlier and shorter versions of the same argument here and here. In general, he looks forward to the pull-out, since it would cure us of our imperialist overweening. He doesnt seem too troubled by the conclusions the Islamists would draw, taking them more or less in stride, though he does concede that if failure in Iraq leads to terrorism on U.S. soil, the consequence would be "politically devastating." Only politically?
Scott Shane in the New York Times tries, not very subtly, to make the point that the NSC’s document, National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, is nothing more than a PR document, written by some political scientists who have argued that the public will support the war if they believed it would ultimately succeed. Once again we are in the realm of rocket science here, only the very smart can play! So, I should decline. But some things are not to be resisted! Bush keeps making the same points about Iraq he has always made. His strategy seems the same, while the tactics vary; he doesn’t advertise the changes. This makes sense to me. His opponents--the Shouters--yell and make things up. This is part of politics, albeit not the highest part. I have been enjoying this, since Katrina, actually. Now the focus is on Iraq. Why? because something very bad has happened in Iraq? No, no. It’s merely that the bad press from Katrina, combined with the bad press on the Libby indictment, made it possible for the shouters to be heard, so they yelled even louder than normal. It’s kind of fun watching Murtha be wrong, watching the MSM misrepresent him; watching Pelosi show her real colors, watching Kerry sitting on the fence once again; and then watching Hillary the Great tip-toe in her husband’s large moderate footprints on her way to the Democratic nomination, via her re-election to the Senate. She will, in the end, do as much damage to her own party as her husband did. But no one wants to talk about that.
Bush is betting that Iraq will turn out as he said it should and would. Because he is not to be moved on this very large and consequential issue, he is prepared to be defined by it, both now and in history. I like that. And I think he is right. Do the bad poll numbers matter? Judging by the MSM coverage, the GOP will lose the U.S. Senate next year, and a couple dozen seats in the House, and perhaps all of Ohio (see Saturday’s N.Y. Times front page, "Democrats Sense Chances in Ohio for 2006 Vote"). I don’t think so. The poll numbers don’t count. Not yet. Let’s talk about poll numbers in April and May, when the numbers are going to start having some meaning. They don’t mean anything at moment. Example, the economy continues to do very well, yet most people (according to polls) think that Bush is not handling the economy well. If this means anything it only means that the MSM’s portrayal of the economy is so skewed that people aren’t getting the facts (or it takes longer). No big thing, I say. Yet, I admit that sometimes I would like the White House to come at their opponents a bit stronger and a bit more often than they usually do. The problem is that they had some bad luck in the last few months (Katrina and Libby) and made a very bad decision (Harriet Miers). That is the backdrop. The Shouters saw the opportunity, took pot shots on everything (including Iraq), but are now nearly out of bullets. Besides, the cowboys are firing back, and facts are harder to ignore over time.
Ashland University has selected a new president. He is Dr. Frederick Finks and will take office on July 1, 2006. I have reason to think that he not only values Ashland, but understands, to praraphrase Churchill, that our students should come to the university less to learn a trade--although no one denies that we must learn to support ourselves--than to learn how to live well. Churchill: "The first duty of a university is to teach wisdom not a trade; character not technicalities." I congratulate him, and wish him the best.