Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Bloggers, talk radio, and the ports

Peter calls our attention to Glenn Reynolds’ argument that, had the Administration taken note of reaction in the blogosphere, it might not have been surprised when the DPW issue blew up. Fair enough and true enough.

But let’s not get blogospherically triumphalist about this. I would not be shocked if the initial hysteria in the blogosphere isn’t what set off some of the radio talkers, who then detonated the dirty publicity bomb that contaminated the White House. Yes, someone in the White House should pay at least as much attention to the blogosphere as does, say, someone working for Sean Hannity. But shouldn’t bloggers do a little more digging before they leap to the kinds of conclusions to which many apparently leapt in the immediate aftermath of the report?

Follow your mind’s habit

Is decision making best when thought through entirely, or as a gut reaction? Scientists now conclude it is the latter. I wouldn’t really dispute the outcome of the study, but I wouldn’t call it a "conscious" vs. "unconscious" mode (especially the Freudian sort, repressed desire and so on). The mind is disposed a certain way as a result of past thinking and past decisions; it has a character, a habit. So when you go with your gut, you are going with your habit of mind. If that’s good, it is likely the decision will be good. My grandmother knew this, didn’t need a study to be published in Science to know which way was better.

Bloggers and the ports

Joe is keeping us up-dated on the Dubai port issue (see below) and Glenn Reynolds nicely summarizes what bloggers have done on it, how they are an early warning system, and how the White House inexplicably is not paying enough attention to bloggers as an early warning system.

More port deal

While it’s very clear that no one anticipated the brouhaha, it’s not clear that it has staying power. Some, er, leaders continue to pour gasoline on the fire, while others would rather pour oil on troubled waters. The New York street is divided, though national public opinion is firmly (though I believe temporarily) against the deal.

My favorite line comes from Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., who is inclined to support the deal: "For those that bother to learn the facts, the comfort level has increased."

This isn’t to say that there aren’t still troubling facts, but they seem to have little to do with Dubai or Dubai Ports World.

Indeed, Robert Kaplan, second to none in his support for U.S. security, has very high regard for Dubai.

Update: This longish NYT article about port security indictates that things are better than I expected, but still worse than they need to be.

Kristol on Fukuyama

I’ve been waiting for this. Here’s a snippet:

Remember: The United States of America and its allies--regimes that seek to embody, or at least to move towards, the principles of decent, civilized, liberal democracy--did not seek this war. But we are at war, and we could lose it. Victory is not inevitable.

Does that make Bush-supporting, liberal-democracy-promoting, Iraq-war-defending neoconservative "Leninists," as Francis Fukuyama has recently charged? No. Does it mean we
believe--as Fukuyama defines Leninism--that "history can be pushed along with the right application of power and will"? Does it mean that history does not automatically move in the right direction, that justice does not necessarily or easily prevail? Yes.

"I’ll see your Fukuyama and raise you a Wittmann." Read the whole thing to make sense of this.


Coup attempt in Philippines?

A state of emergency has been declared in the Philippines. This is twenty years after Marcos was (peacefully) overthrown. I was there at that time. An interesting country, very likeable people. Eventually they will get their act together and make a deep impression on the world. But not yet, I guess. Also see this for some reflection on the problem of what I call tribes (clans, family dynasties, etc.) and democratic development. The Belmont Club is worth paying attention to as well.

Yosemite Sam politics

The WSJ’s Daniel Henninger takes our political "leaders" to the woodshed. A taste:

Our political elites, rather than recognize they are playing with a new kind of fire, instead have become pyromaniacs, lighting the fires. New Orleans even now can’t get out from under the initial crazy statements the pols were hurling over Katrina. Our politicians seem to have arrived at the conclusion that they somehow no longer bear responsibility for what they say, or that there is no consequence to what they say. But they do and there is. Yosemite Sam was a cartoon. The ability of government to function in a dangerous world is not.

Read the whole thing.


With the bombing of the mosque in Samarra, and the counterattacks by the Shiites on Sunni mosques, and everyone talking about civil war, Victor Davis Hanson is much more optimistic. He just got back from Iraq.

Defending Country

I was listening to James King and Dave Evans this morning when I came across Clinton Taylor’s defense of country music. I like it. I was in Bulgaria a few weeks after The Fall, sitting in a tavern trying to get a smile out of folks. Couldn’t do it. Then I pulled out a tape I had made especially to take with me (knowing something about the passions of Bulgarians), asked the barkeep to drop it in the machine and as soon as Merle Haggard hit his first note someone yelled a heavily accented "country music" and everyone, and I mean everyone, popped out of their chairs and started singing and dancing. It was good. Very good. It still is. (There is more at--and thanks to--Powerline)

Tom Suddes and Ohio politics

We all know that Ohio is the most important state politically (and it’s not because I live here, someone should tell my mother!). Thomas Suddes, the former chief state reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer (he now writes a column a couple of times a week, but spends most his time writing a doctoral dissertation at Ohio University), is the guy that knows more about Ohio politics than any other person I have ever met. I’m not kidding. He knows the players, he knows the issues, he knows the state, its demographics, and its political history. Anyway, I did a Podcast with him this morning on Ohio politics (click on his name). It’s about 20 minutes long and therefore just an introduction, but if you listen to it you’ll begin to hear and feel how he weaves his web. I will continue these conversations with him about every two to three weeks for next many months, if he’ll let me. This is a good start. Thanks Tom. Now get back to your dissertation!

Dome blast

Was it a desperate attempt by al Qaeda to provoke a civil war or perhaps the prelude to a (more overt) Iranian intervention? I’m leaning toward the former, though not as sanguine that Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis won’t take the bait.

Big love

I just discovered that Tom Hanks has producing a new HBO comedy series based on polygamy. Sometimes even I am speechless. Mormons are upset, because it reinforces streotypes, some former polygamists are upset because it downplays the real problems people (and families, plural ?), especially women and children, have in such relationships. And the feminists have an opinion. Anyway, you get the picture. What the Hell. There was a TV comedy about Nazis, there are plenty of comedies about gays--in fact maybe all comedies on TV are about gays?--and now there is Brokeback Mountain....

So, only this, Richard II talking:

I have been studying how I may compare

This prison where I live unto the world:

And for because the world is populous

And here is not a creature but myself,

I cannot do it; yet I’ll hammer it out.

My brain I’ll prove the female to my soul,

My soul the father; and these two beget

A generation of still-breeding thoughts,

And these same thoughts people this little world,

In humours like the people of this world,
For no thought is contented.

Vote for them

If you’re in a carpetbagging mood, and like the folks at South Dakota Politics, follow this link.

Brookhiser (or is it Bookhiser) on books

Rick Brookhiser discusses what may be the next I-Pod, the E-Book. He gets much of it write, er. right, I think, though he clearly doesn’t enjoying writing in his books as much as I do. And I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on some of the twenty books he gives away each month, "what with reviewer’s copies and other freebies."

Next Harvard President

While I think that Harvard as a whole is probably ungovernable, the folks at Inside Higher Ed are soliticing suggestions. I noticed that there wasn’t a conservative on the list, so, without further ado, I’ll throw my two cents’ in, and invite you, gentle (and ungentle) readers, to do likewise.

My old friend John Walters has lots of administrative experience and could certainly help Harvard address underage drinking and substance abuse problems.

Bill Kristol is a Harvard man; unfortunately, his experience in the White House probably doesn’t adequately prepare him for the Machiavellian nastiness of faculty politics.

Paul Wolfowitz has recently learned a thing or two about handling money, which would make him an exceptional steward of Harvard’s endowment.

Zell Miller knows a good bit about living in an institution with people who can’t stand him.

Your turn.

Update: It occurred to me that I wasn’t thinking inside the box enough, so here are my "diversity" candidates (taking diversity in the standard academic sense).

Condoleezza Rice is a natural, with all sorts of higher ed experience, but she may be unavailable after 2008.

John Yoo is a Harvard alumnus who has given more thought to the outer bounds of executive authority than just about anyone else.

Christina Hoff Sommers could perhaps help Harvard make certain that women are not overrepresented in the undergraduate population, as is the case at so many other elite institutions. Her problem? Look at the last name.

The ports (no big?) deal

I don’t know how this dispute will finally play out.

These two articles suggest that, for the most part, our substantial port security issues will not be greatly affected by who manages the ports (many of which are already in foreign hands, apparently).

There is one dissenter, who identifies some vulnerabilities resulting from the deal, but these strike me as remediable (though I am, of course, no expert):

Joseph King, who headed the customs agency’s anti-terrorism efforts under the Treasury Department and the new Department of Homeland Security, said national security fears are well grounded.

He said a company the size of Dubai Ports World would be able to get hundreds of visas to relocate managers and other employees to the United States. Using appeals to Muslim solidarity or threats of violence, al-Qaeda operatives could force low-level managers to provide some of those visas to al-Qaeda sympathizers, said King, who for years tracked similar efforts by organized crime to infiltrate ports in New York and New Jersey. Those sympathizers could obtain legitimate driver’s licenses, work permits and mortgages that could then be used by terrorist operatives.

Dubai Ports World could also offer a simple conduit for wire transfers to terrorist operatives in the Middle East. Large wire transfers from individuals would quickly attract federal scrutiny, but such transfers, buried in the dozens of wire transfers a day from Dubai Ports World’s operations in the United States to the Middle East would go undetected, King said.

Certainly there will be more due diligence about this deal than that undertaken in the first instance by the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investments in the U.S. And there will be more Bush Administration transparency and Congressional involvement.

I doubt that additional information and reasoned argumentation will have much effect in moving public opinion, which already seems quite congealed on this issue. I further doubt that many members of Congress will want to be out in front of the voters, actually leading by resisting their first, perhaps ill-informed tendencies. From the perspective of domestic politics, the easiest thing for the Bush Administration to do is cave to the pressure, though (of course) that could have diplomatic and national security consequences in the Middle East, perhaps alienating the UAE, which has, for the most part, been an ally. Some of this negative diplomatic fall-out could perhaps be allayed by resistance to domestic sentiment, even if the once-threatened veto is overridden by Congress.

A third possibility is that by temporizing through further consideration, investigation, and consultation, the Administration could lower the heat sufficiently to strike a deal whereby the sale proceeded with additional "safeguards" for American security concerns. I don’t think that any of this would do much to affect what seems to be visceral public opposition to the deal, but I’m also not yet convinced that this opposition has much staying power. I suspect that, after a while, most people will move on, leaving a small remnant passionately opposed, but unable to rally their fellows.

I’m not yet persuaded by one side or the other that it is or isn’t a safe deal, though I’m inclined to think that it can be made safe. I am certain that our port security problems are substantial, regardless of who manages them. (Focusing on and continuing to address this problem is a good that can come out of this kerfuffle.) I’m also certain that to press forward quickly with the deal now would be bad politics, handing a national security issue (bogus or not) to people like Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, at least for the short term.

It’s not sufficient for the President to say now, as he is wont, "trust me on this," especially since the word now is that he learned of it from the press. So let’s thoroughly vet this issue, both administratively and in consultation with Congress. If in the end there’s a conflict between the White House and Capitol Hill, so be it. At least the guys on the "right side" of the issue will be the ones engaging in damage control in the Persian Gulf. But I suspect that the final result will be an accommodation of some sort, once the heat has been turned down.

Update: Pieces like this, this, and this make sense, but won’t have much immediate impact. I’m becoming more of a temporizer by the minute. Hat tip: Jonah Goldberg.

Update #2: This seems to be a balanced assessment of the security issues.

UAE and the ports

James Lileks has an immediate and, as he puts it, un-edited opinion on the UAE port debate. I suspect that his opinion reflects the vast majority of citizens and therefore Bush should end this and do it more quickly than he did the Harriet Myers debacle. The only good news on this is that it seems to be the case that the White House didn’t even know of the decision unbtil just a few days before it was released. So the politically tone-deaf decision can be easily blamed on various committees just trying to do their jobs, without thinking of the political repercussions. But Bush should not fight all the good guys in the world who support him (never mind Hillary trying to out-flank him by goinbg right). This is the good Lileks paragraph: "But the specifics don’t matter; arguments about the specific nature of the Dubai Ports World organization’s global reach and responsible track records don’t matter. Because it feels immediately, instinctively wrong to nearly every American, and that isn’t something that can be argued away with charts or glossy brochures. It just doesn’t sit well. Period. It’s one thing for an Administration to misjudge how a particular decision will be received; it’s another entirely to misjudge an issue that cuts to the core of the Administration’s core strength. That’s where you slap yourself on the forehead in the style of those lamenting the failure to request a V-8 in a timely fashion. Doesn’t matter whether it was a deal struck between the previous administrators and the UAE; that’s not how the issue will be seen. And it certainly doesn’t matter once the President gets all stern on the topic and insists he’ll veto any attempt to keep the deal from going through. At that point, millions of previously resolute supporters stand there with their mouths open, uttering a soft confused moan of disbelief."

Addition: Here is the Wall Street Journal editorial everyone has brought up. It is in favor of the deal with UAE. And Michael Ramirez draws a thousand words.

Fun Times in Ohio

My goodness, the Ohio governor’s race is heating up already! According to this story in the Columbus Dispatch, Ken Blackwell is violating the 11th Commandment against speaking ill of fellow Republicans: "Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell proved that this week when he attacked his gubernatorial primary election opponent, Attorney General Jim Petro, with radio and television ads that stunned Ohio’s political establishment."

Now, from what I can see from afar, the "Republican Establishment" blocked the more worthy Blackwell for years in favor of name-brands like Bob Taft. Was this a good idea? Seems to me they are getting their just deserts. Stunned? Maybe the "establishment" will wake up.

You can find Blackwell’s radio ad here. And you can find Petro’s response here.

Multiculturalism in the U.K. and India

Amartya Sen has a long and interesting article reflecting on the successes (not so much on the failures) of multiculturalism in the U.K. and India. He emphasizes the role of reason, as well as the stress on multiple individual identities, in establishing (I use the word in a self-consciously "First Amendment" way) multiculturalism, as opposed to "plural monoculturalism." In so doing, he finesses the potential conflict between reason and revelation, which has powerful theoretical as well as practical consequences.

Still, the article is well worth reading.

Is the Blogosphere Dead?

The MSM has pronounced hoped it so. Daniel Drezner has an interesting blog entry discussing and challenging all of this. (Hat tip: RealClearPolitics.

Teacher Unions and their Death Grip

John Stossel has a brief but clear explanation of one of the many ways that teacher unions fail our kids by protecting the interests of mediocre teachers. On the same page there is a link to several other articles he’s been writing on the subject of public education and teacher’s unions. I hope all of this will result in a 20/20 special broadcast that will get some wider appeal. I find this to be one of the most difficult subjects to bridge with otherwise sensible people.

Death Row Drama

This story about convicted killer, Michael Morales, and the failed attempts by California to have him put to death is yet another example of an out-of-control judiciary. An appeal filed by Morales claimed that he might suffer pain as a result of the lethal injection procedure that California uses to inflict the death penalty. The judge ordered that Morales should receive anesthesia and be ruled unconscious before the lethal cocktail could be delivered. But the anesthesiologist refused to go through with the procedure. That delayed the execution by a day and Morales was then to be given a lethal dose of barbituate which would take longer to kill him but would assure that he was unconscious before he began to die. But no medical personnel could be recruited to confirm his state of unconsciousness and so Morales is still sucking air. I’m not sure I blame the medical personnel. Even if they suppport the execution, why should their participation in it be compulsory? It is something of a stretch to claim that this is what is required by the no "cruel and unusual punishment" clause of the constitution. I fail to see how one man’s protection from cruel and unusual punishment compels a third man to participate in that punishment. I also fail to see how "feeling pain" in death constitutes something cruel and unusual when the convicted killer is guilty of a heinous crime during which the victim endured untold pain. While I agree that we should take all reasonable steps to keep executions humane--the precise and procedural measure of that should be legislative rather than judicial.

You want crunchy?

I’ll give you crunchy. Here’s the film’s website in English und auf Deutsch.

Hat tip: John von Heyking.

Summers out at Harvard

Larry Summers has resigned. His becomes the shortest tenure of all Harvard presidents. What surprises me about this is that the students didn’t come to his defense. They support him, and are offended by the soft-left-and-often silly-faculty-with-oversized-egos; they shgould have rallied to him. It would have been a good bruhaha. Here is the Crimson story. Alan Dershovitz thinks that the inmates (still in a minority) are now running the assylum.

Church and state in Georgia yet again

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue is making a third effort to bring my state’s religion clauses in line with those of the U.S. Constitution.. Last year, I wrote about one of the practical political obstacles to the effort. This time, I write about why we need to make the effort. The short version: much of what we do in Georgia, both with regard to faith-based contracting and higher education tuition support, is unconstitutional if one reads Georgia’s "Blaine Amendment" in a straightforward manner. We’re lucky no one has sued. That won’t last forever.

Re-Elect Al Gore

There are two articles appearing today on the prospect that Al Gore may be emulating Nixon in the 1960s and positioning himself to run to Hillary’s left in 2008: ,this one from Roger Stone, and this one from Dick Morris.

Sounds plausible to me. Having seen Gore up close and personal back in early January, all the reports of Gore being "more comfortable in his own skin" (at long last) ring true.

The Pentagon and the media

This week’s TAE Online column develops an argument I first made here. The short version: Donald Rumsfeld understands the new media world, perhaps better than the people who write about him in the old media world.

Ohio Senate race

Now that Paul Hackett is out of the Democratic primary race for the U.S. Senate against Sherrod Brown, he has disclosed some of Brown’s political weaknesses, as found by consujltants doing op-research. Example: "Brown voted to cut intelligence funding more than a dozen times before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks." The latest Rasmussen Poll shows Senator DeWine leading Brown by 9%; a month ago DeWine led by only 5 points.

The Somalia Syndrome

Our friend Scott Johnson over at Powerline has a post that is not to be missed about the lessons Al Qaida drew from Somalia in 1993.

We need to get over the Vietnam syndrome once and for all. How many elections do the Democrats have to lose until this can be accomplished?

Ports of Call?

My friend and AEI colleague Michael Ledeen is calling the Dubai port deal the foreign policy equivalent of the Harriet Miers nomination. On the other hand, there have been several hints throughout the day today that perhaps we got something in return from Dubai that President Bush can’t tell us about, or that perhaps the port deal is a reward for some untellable good deeds.

Then, there is this from John McCain, who ordinarily doesn’t miss an opportunity to distance himself from Bush:

“We all need to take a moment and not rush to judgment on this matter without knowing all the facts. The President’s leadership has earned our trust in the war on terror, and surely his administration deserves the presumption that they would not sell our security short. Dubai has cooperated with us in the war and deserves to be treated respectfully. By all means, let’s do due diligence, get briefings, seek answers to all relevant questions and assurances that defense officials and the intelligence community were involved in the examination and approval of this transaction. In other words, let’s make a judgment when we possess all the pertinent facts. Until then, all we can offer is heat and little light to the discussion.”

Hmmm. Better watch this calmly over the next few weeks.

Three in Ohio indicted for terrorist activities

A Federal Grand Jury has indicted three Toledo-area men for terrorist activities. Prosecutors say the three conspired to wage a "holy war" against the United States and coalition forces in the Middle East. "The suspects are Mohammad Zaki Amawi, Marwan Othman El-Hindi, and Wassim Mazloum. The indictment says all three were living in the Toledo area. Amawi is a citizen of the US and also a citizen of Jordan. El-Hindi is a naturalized American citizen who was born in Jordan. Mazloum is a legal permanent resident of the US, who came here from Lebanon."

Norwood in the news

USA Today has an article discussing the Norwood eminent domain case. Regular readers of this website know by now that the Ashbrook Center (along with former State Representative William Batchelder) filed a brief in Norwood arguing that the Ohio Constitution prohibits using eminent domain in a non-blighted area to transfer property from one private owner to another. Of course, that is the relevant legal question raised by the Norwood case: May local governments in Ohio take non-blighted private property for the purpose of transferring it to another private owner?

We know from prior cases that the Ohio Constitution permits the taking of property in blighted areas. The longstanding rule in Ohio is that the elimination of slum and blight can constitute a public use where the primary purpose for the taking is to serve the public welfare. We also know, however, that actual blight is a prerequisite to using eminent domain for the purposes of urban renewal. Thus, the Ohio Supreme Court has allowed condemnation where structures are substandard and are “detrimental to the public health, safety, and welfare.”

This contrasts sharply with the homes at issue in Norwood. None of those properties is dilapidated. As you can see at this link, the disputed homes are part of a perfectly normal middle class neighborhood. Indeed, as the Ashbrook Center notes in its brief, the trial court found that the City of Norwood abused its discretion in labeling the area “blighted.”

USA Today, which states that “the neighborhood doesn’t appear blighted,” is merely confirming the obvious. According to the article, Joseph Horney purchased his Norwood home for $63,900 in 1991. The home is currently valued at more than $230,000. I wish we all lived in areas that were “deteriorating” so rapidly.    


Anyone care to summarize all these links for me? I think I can guess one line: "finally, an insider has seen the error of his ways and blown the whistle on the evil--or is it vile?--neo-con Straussians. Now let’s go impeach the Straussian-in-chief!"

Some of what the fly heard

Bill McClay generously shares some of his thoughts presented at the conference on faith and progressive politics that I noted a few days ago.

Here’s a taste of McClay’s argument:

The loss of its morally and socially conservative but politically progressive Catholics has been a calamity, then, for the Democratic Party, and has seriously undermined its claim to be the vehicle of an effective and humane progressive politics. It is often argued that the socially conservative positions of Republicans are at odds with their support for unregulated capitalism, which serves as a ceaseless engine of social disruption, and a force perpetuating social inequality. But anyone putting forward that argument has to be willing to face up to an equally serious problem on the other side—that the extreme individualism presumed by so many of the current Democratic social policies, with their disdain for tradition and their obsession with liberatory rights-talk and atomistic privacy, is at odds with any sustained effort to foster notions of mutuality, accountability, community, and social responsibility.

Christopher Lasch argued that one of the chief errors of the postwar left was its choice of cultural radicalism, which succeeded, over serious political and economic reform, which failed completely. I think he was right about that, and the loss of the socially and morally conservative Catholics, who were—in a sense—very much like the socially and morally conservative Protestants that John Dewey described, is one of the chief casualties of that error. Both groups had a religiously derived vision of the human person, a vision that is fruitfully at odds with our American liberal individualism, and that could yet enrich a progressive politics that concentrated on the right issues, and once again respected their moral outlook. Both are still available for that purpose, if progressives can to find a way back to them. And if they want to.

Read the whole thing.

Ave Maria Town again

Newsweek has picked up the Ave Maria Town story, on which I commented before (in the context of the proposed relocation of Ave Maria Law School to south Florida).

The issue in this case seems to be Tom Monaghan’s effort to limit access to contraceptives inside the town. Of course, the Florida ACLU and Planned Parenthood are concerned. The former cite this case about constitutional rights in company towns. A series of queries for the lawyers out there. First, is access to contraceptives more like freedom of speech and religion or more like access to abortions? Is there are legally congnizable difference between the two kinds of rights that might be relevant in this case? Second, if there is, and access to contraceptives is more like the latter, can either a local jurisdiction or a private corporation prohibit the establishment of an abortion clinic in its territory or premises? Can a company or institution that owns a hospital prohibit it from offering abortions? I eagerly await your answers.

All crunchy, all the time


I have an essay question, suggested by a friend: "Crunchies and South Parkers: cousins, enemies, or both?"

Midterm elections

The U.S., as we know, regularly holds national legislative elections midway through the term of its executive officer, and this is rather unusual among so called democracies. (see Andrew Busch’s Horses in Midstream: U.S. Midterm Elections and Their Consequences, 1894-1998). These so-called midterm elections are fascinating and sometimes have tremendous effects (see 1994). George Will reflects on this. Sometimes, perhaps often, his pen can be so nimble that the reader doesn’t get what he is up to. This might be one of those times. Yet, some numbers and facts are brought up, and you can just feel why some Dems are salivating at the prospect of another election in which the GOP’s toughness is tested. Since 1962 , when the president’s job approval has been between 50 and 59 percent, the presidential party has lost an average of 12 seats in off year elections. Now, when his approval rating has been below 50%, the average loss has been 43 seats. Bush’s approval is at historic lows. Yet, it is said that only 35 seats are currently competitive, and then there is the "breakwater".

Still, the Dems are hoping for an electoral tsunami in November. But, warns Will, let’s say the Dems gain 20 seat in the House, do they want this victory? I think it’s an academic question, but let him explain.

Soon to Be a Michael Moore Feature Film?

This book rates a triple "Heh" on the Instapundit Heh-Meter. (Hat tip: RedState.)

Washington’s Birthday

John J. Miller calls our attention to this essay by Matthew Spalding, which reminds us that officially, today is still Washington’s Birthday. For more on this, see last year’s post (with comments).

If you’e more interested in the man than in the day, this interview with Michael and Jana Novak offers a nice preview of Washington’s God.

Jihad Muslims

"We are ready to attack the enemies of the Prophet," and in Indonesia they attempted to storm our embassy. Sixteen are killed in Nigeria as the "cartoon riots" continue; fifteen
churches are also burned, as well as Chritian owned businesses. And ten have died in Lybia.
A poll in London shows that 40% of British Muslims "want sharia law introduced into parts of the country," and 20% have sympathy with the "feelings and motives" of the suicide bombers who attacked London last July 7. The Danish editor responsible for publishing (and commissioning) those cartoons explains why he will not submit to self-censorship. He thinks this issue has helped Denmark find moderate Muslims (i.e., those who are not interested in imposing sharia law). In the meantime,
John Howard, the Australian PM, talking about immigration policy, has hit out at "jihad Muslims." Read the whole story. You might also want to glance at Wretchard’s discussion of assymetrical warfare back in 1906 and what that has to do with a Muslim warlord he met on Mindanao in 1990 named Pershing.

Addendum: I’m really not sure what to make of this report by a Pakistani newspaper; I hope it’s wrong. It reports this: "Former US president Bill Clinton on Friday condemned the publication of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) caricatures by European newspapers and urged countries concerned to convict the publishers." There is more, read it. The "PBUH" is an acronym for "Peace be upon Him." See the BBC’s explanation of its policy regarding this.

India says yes to Wodehouse

P.G. Wodehouse is quite popular in India. Perhaps this is surprising to you, but not to me. Note some of the comments in the article on Indian society and humor. Also this from Orwell, in 1945: "Most of the people whom Wodehouse intends as sympathetic characters are parasites, and some of them are plain imbeciles, but very few of them could be described as immoral . . . Not only are there no dirty jokes, but there are hardly any compromising situations."

GOP, Ohio, Blackwell

Robert Novak claims that there is a GOP malaise running amok in the land, and the Bush White House better do something interesting or it will be swallowed by it. George Will takes note of four states, with four interesting (and black) GOP candidates (two for U.S. Senate, two for govs), and focuses on Ohio where Ken Blackwell will become the GOP’s nomineee for governor. He is smart and conservative, and at a good distance from the GOP establishment (which has always been lukewarm toward him) to be to his advantage. Stric kland will run against him, but will lose. Will notes that Blackwell got between 30 and 40% of the black vote the three other times he ran for a state-wide office. This is the Blackwell for Governor site.

Skype can’t be wiretapped

I use Skype to talk to my home (about three blocks from my office) and to talk to a friend in Hungary (more than a few blocks from Ashland). I would use it with more folks, but most of my friends are too primitive to download Skype into their computers; one just recently gave up his rotary phone. You Americans! The calls on the internet are free when the other person also has Skype (and if you click above, you can download it for free). So, I can talk for hours at no cost. And, by the way, the sound quality is much better than any phone I’ve ever used. Not a bad deal, huh? Skype was developed by a couple of guys in Estonia, and was recently bought by eBay. Well, it turns out that calls on Skype may be impossible to wiretap. So it might be me and four million terrorists on Skype at any one time! Too bad.

Bernard-Henry Levy & Bill Kristol

Bernard-Henri Levy & Bill Kristol may be heard in conversation (undre one hour) on matters revolving around American Vertigo, via a Podcast offered by The American Interest.

Gay marriage loophole

This is kind of amusing. From London: "Lawyers are prepared to advise potential immigrants how to gain British citizenship by signing up for ’gay marriages’ even if they are heterosexual." (Thanks to Jonah Goldberg)

Iranian pro-nuclear fatwa?

This is worrisome. I await John von Heyking’s further analysis.