Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Karl Rove and 2006

Two WaPo biggies write on Karl Rove and the 2006 elections. Now that he is cleared in the CIA case, will he be able to salvage his reputation, and the well-being of the GOP? That sort of thing. File it for later use. Just thinking "rolling realignment" and try to figure out if this is rocket science for Rove. And, by the way, how come 42 Dems voted with the GOP in Iraq yesterday if the Dems are so sure that eeveryone is against Bush’s Iraq policy, and therefore they will win back the House? Fred Barnes says Karl Rove laughs last.

Blackwell-Strickland money

Front page, above the fold, article in today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer about the bucks raised by Blackwell and Strcikland. The focus is on the out-of-state dollars (Blackwell gets a bit more than Strickland), but the whole thing is worth a read. I’m waiting for the old Republican Party men to step up to the plate (they’re hesitating) and give Blackwell more; and they’re waiting for him to be more "party" friendly. Fun to watch. There is a good state (bucks by zip code) map in the print edition.

Evangelical evolution?

E. J. Dionne, Jr. wonders whether evangelicals are mellowing. His reflections need to be read in conjunction with this, this, and this.

Michael Gerson to leave White House

Michael Gerson, virtually my favorite Bush Administration staffer, is leaving. Here’s one assessment of the significance of his departure, of a piece with Andrew Busch’s thoughts, albeit substantially less sympathetic to the overall enterprise.

Gerson may, of course, continue to be an effective and eloquent advocate for his point of view from the outside, and I find it hard to believe that he won’t continue to be an influential voice.

Update: For more, go here. Gerson, we learn, attends the Falls Church (yes, that one), which may part company with the Episcopal Church.

Vast right-wing conspiracy

Fellow conspirators,

We’ve been outed by Pitzer College’s Alan Jones.

If the caliber of Jones’s "research" in connecting the dots is indicated by this howler--"the Intercollegiate Studies Institute in turn evolved from William Bennett’s Madison Center for Educational Affairs and the Institute for Educational Affairs founded by Irving Kristol"--then we conspirators have little or nothing to worry about. What’s more, the vaunted superiority of American higher education--allegedly under attack by our Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy--would seem to be in some doubt.

For the record, this is the evidence on which Jones relies for his howler. Here’s the readily available truth.

Oh yes, I almost forgot: the evil genius behind all this is the super-secretive Leo Strauss, the hidden imam of the VRWC.

American Graffiti

I have always hated graffiti. In my small Ohio hometown, there was always one small, out of the way underpass that was covered in it. There, and only there, kids knew that their "art" would be untouched. So it tended to contain itself and it seemed to be limited, more or less, to local high school rivalries. But even then and in that limited context, I found it ugly, disrespectful, and obnoxious.

But now I live in Los Angeles and I have seen this policy of tolerant containment prove to be pretty ineffective. The rivalries here are stronger and over things much less innocent than which high school football team is the "baddest". Sometimes it involves gangs, and sometimes just bored kids with nothing better to do and no one intelligent enough to give it to them. Whatever the case, it scars the community and supports a culture of slovenliness, disrespect, and despair. Nevertheless, it continues to have its advocates. This link is courtesy of a relative who is a long-time employee of Cal-trans and has a very different view of these matters than the one described here.

To call these vandals "artists" (whatever their accomplishments post-criminal activity may be), strikes me as patently goofy. Why glorify something that is so destructive to the rights of others? Why glorify something that is so destructive to the well-being of the community. Rudy Giuliani’s "broken windows" theory is absolutely correct in this instance. If people want to paint in a graffiti style--God bless them. But get some paper.

World Cup and American character

Some have commented on this that I wrote before we played the Czechs: "I make no prediction other than to say that given our talent as a team, combined with the American character, we should advance." Of course, we lost 3-0, so I am ordered to explain myself. Very simply it is this: We don’t have any great individual players on our team, but we have many excellent players. They are (we have been told, and led to believe by their pre-Czech play) also very fit. They also play well together, that is, as a team. This latter point is not insignificant in soccer...The Czechs showed both characteristics. Our boys did not exhibit that aspect of the American character which is especially appealing to me: doggedness, a determination to win, a never give up attitude, always showing great courage. And so on. When I played soccer in London, while at the LSE, there were just four Americans on the team (inlcuding me). Three of us had never played soccer before. I put us on the back line. Nothing got past us. Nothing. These American boys would have rather died than allow that and--given that they did not know the game out of habit--they had to play much harder than anyone else. And they did. A Pakistani player said in awe, "Look at those Americans. They never give up." That’s the character I am looking for, and when we show it, we "should" advance.

World Cup

The U.S. loss to the Czech Republic (3-0) was well deserved. We were full of fear and we were lazy. I have no idea why we played like that. I think we can do a lot better, and we must. Saturday against Italy will be our last game unless we win. We must do exactly the opposite of what we did we the Czechs. We must have courage and we must attack, and then attack again, and then continue the attack. Always the attack.

Iraq notes

I like this George Will Newsweek column. Lost in the good news last week about Iraq was this: Montenegro completed its dissolution of the union with Serbia. The last of Yugoslavia is gone. Both Yugoslavia and Iraq were created after World War I. Will Iraq also dissappear? While I don’t think it will, it’s a clever way to ask the question.

Iraq’s national secuirty advisor, Mouwafak al-Rubaie, said a "huge treasure" of documents and computer records was seized after the raid on terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s hideout, giving the Iraqi government the upper hand in its fight against al-Qaida in Iraq. And there have been 452 raids since last week’s killing of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and 104 insurgents were killed during those actions.

President Bush, even the New York Times is forced to admit, is having a good week or so: He shows up in Iraq, Zarqawi is dead, the new government is in place, and Karl Rove is cleared. Things are back on track for the administration and we will see continuous improvement in Bush’s polling numbers.

More on sartorial reasoning

I did one more podcast with Nicholas Antongiavanni yesterday on his book, The Suit: A Machiavellian Approach to Men’s Style. The emphasis in this twenty-two minute conversation is on Machiavelli and why he is aping Machiavelli’s style. Why did Machiavelli write the way he did, and why the parody of it, why follow the chapter by chapter plan of the Prince so closely (and I suspect even follow his plan within chapters)? Why write a treatise that is really more of a puzzle when you are providing (on one level) an education in sartorial reasoning? Listen to it at

You Americans.

Is this compassionate? Conservative? Crunchy?

Rev. Timothy Keller, of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, part of this socially conservative evangelical denomination, writes about a "new kind of urban Christian." Christians, he argues, should live in cities (rather than fleeing them for the allegedly family-friendly suburbs and exurbs), form a "dynamic counterculture" "to show how sex, money, and power can be used in nondestructive ways," and "be a community radically committed to the good of the city as a whole."

Given what she has to say about socially conservative evangelicals, I wonder if Keller’s vision would make
Michelle Goldberg’s head explode. (Yes, I’ve finished reading her book, from which the column on which I commented earlier was drawn. I’ll have more to say in a formal review published somewhere.)

What distinguishes Keller’s "countercultural" vision from that offered by Rod Dreher is its focus on work, rather than home. Dreher seems to encourage a certain kind of withdrawal, Keller a kind of engagement. Whatever one ultimately thinks of Dreher’s book, he’s at least drawing on a tradition that offers a wealth of intellectual resources to support the kind of resistance he proposes. I’m not sure, on the other hand, whether Keller and his people will transform the world or be transformed by it.

Update: I missed this post by Acton’s Jordan Ballor.

After compassionate conservatism?

Andrew Busch has characteristically smart thoughts in the new issue of the Claremont Review of Books. Hat tip: Powerline.

The libertarian center?

I worried about it. Cato’s David Boaz is happy it’s here. Over at the Corner, Jonah Goldberg, Ramesh Ponnuru, and John Podhoretz weigh in.

An Unconvincing "Apology"

This NRO column by John Derbyshire has been getting quite a bit of attention. In short, Derbyshire is sorry that he ever advocated intervention in Iraq. In the juiciest passage he writes:

One reason I supported the initial attack, and the destruction of the Saddam regime, was that I hoped it would serve as an example, deliver a psychic shock to the whole region. It would have done, if we’d just rubbled the place then left. As it is, the shock value has all been frittered away. Far from being seen as a nation willing to act resolutely, a nation that knows how to punish our enemies, a nation that can smash one of those ramshackle Mideast despotisms with one blow from our mailed fist, a nation to be feared and respected, we are perceived as a soft and foolish nation, that squanders its victories and permits its mighty military power to be held to standoff by teenagers with homemade bombs—that lets crooks and bandits tie it down, Gulliver-like, with a thousand little threads of blackmail, trickery, lies, and petty violence.

What to make of this? For one, I have trouble understanding why destroying a regime and leaving would have really improved the U.S. position in the Middle East. The question that begs to be asked is what would emerge as Saddam’s successors? The most likely answer is, whoever had the best organization and the most guns. The best case scenario would have been another Lebanon or Sudan, the worst would have been a country wholly owned by Al-Qaeda or Iran.

But leaving this aside, if Derbyshire really thought that the United States was going to perform the equivalent of a drive-by shooting in Iraq, he must be extremely naive. What precedent is there for the United States destroying an enemy regime and then going home? I cannot think of a single instance of this. Indeed, I cannot think of a single example of ANY country doing so in the modern era. Either a military victory ends with concessions from an enemy regime, or, if that regime is destroyed, with occupation or outright conquest of the defeated nation. "You break it, you own it," appears to be as solid a principle as any in international affairs.

If Derbyshire wants to avoid taking the blame for how the war is going, that’s fine. But his attempt to do it while simultaneously hanging on to his credentials as a hawk--indeed, by seemingly out-hawking the administration--strikes me as disingenuous.

James Webb in Virginia

James Webb won the Democratic primary in Virginia, and will oppose George Allen in November. Just over 3% of voters went to the polls. Here is Mac Owens’ piece on him when he announced. While I do not think he will win, it will be an interesting to watch. Note the electoral map in the WaPo article. Is this the way the Dems should go in the future? Should they get an old-fashioned un-Lincolnian conservative Southerner, with isolationist tendencies and pro-military passions, to pick up their fallen standard(or what’s left of it)?

Faith-based prison units

The Acton Institute’s Jordan Ballor asked me what I thought of this decision against Iowa’s contract with Prison Fellowship’s InnerChange Freedom Initiative. My answer is in this week’s TAE Online column. If after reading it, you find yourself thirsting for more, you can find it here.

Update: I should add that an important feature of the judge’s opinion was his unprecedented requirement that Prison Fellowship pay back the $1.5 million it has received from the state of Iowa, something that these analysts regarded (three years ago) as "extraordinary" but possible. The judge reasoned, in effect, that Prison Fellowship should have known better and has deep pockets. While I’m not sure that this part of the order will hold up under appeal, I am sure that it will encourage other lawsuits and encourage PFM and other groups to get out of this business.

My analysis in the TAE piece substantially agrees with this one, which I’ve just had the opportunity to skim. The authors, Ira C. Lupu and Robert W. Tuttle, know this field better than just about anyone else.

Patrick Henry College revisited

If you want to continue to follow the saga of Patrick Henry College, from a point of view sympathetic to the departing faculty, you can visit this site.

Lawler’s same-sex marriage amendment

Peter Lawler tells Jonathan Rauch that he should propose the amendment to which he (Peter Lawler) has been alluding in his comments here at NLT.

While I’m at it, here’s my excuse for light blogging: I’m teaching two summer school classes (five hours a day, four days a week) and playing my role as a rabid swim parent. Two meets, two victories for the Vermack Vikings, the East Germany of Dunwoody, Georgia summer swimming. But don’t worry, we’re set to receive our comeuppance from an even more evil swimming empire next week.

Troops scare illegals

"The arrival of U.S. National Guard troops in Arizona has scared off illegal Mexican migrants along the border as a whole, significantly reducing crossings, according to U.S. and Mexican officials." Along the Arizona border, once the busiest crossing spot, detentions have dropped 23 percent.

Barone on California’s Primary and the Dems Dimming Hopes

Michael Barone had a great post yesterday analyzing the results of California’s primary election of last week. What those outside of California probably don’t realize is that California had two propositions (you know, those crazy relics of the Progressive era that have attempted to re-introduce direct democracy and made our state legislature even more unaccountable for their actions--but I digress) that went down to defeat. They were huge defeats for liberal Democrats. The first would have created universal preschool for all 4 year-olds by placing a special tax on individuals making over $400 K and couples making over $800 K. The second was a bond measure for public libraries. These are issues that warm the hearts of most liberals and, because the Democrats had a primary for Governor, more Democrats showed up for this election than Republicans. Early polls in the election season showed the first initiative way ahead. But both propositions were soundly defeated. Why?

Could it be that people--even your average liberals--are becoming skeptical about the ability of government to run programs like these? Phil Angelides, the liberal Democrat who won the primary (barely) against former E-Bay executive Steve Westly probably sealed the deal for Arnold in November. Westly’s ads attacked Angelides for his liberal spending and taxing--but made a case for his own environmentalist bonafides. Granted, Westly had big dollars to wage his fight against Angelides, but he almost pulled it off and that’s significant.

Barone argues that:

Liberal Democrats like to believe that government programs can improve people’s lives and that it’s a good idea to redistribute through taxes money from the rich to the presumably less well off. But in practice the redistribution they support turns out to be from the pockets of taxpayers generally to public employee unions and thence to the Democratic Party. In California this has been facilitated because a lot of affluent people in the Los Angeles and San Francisco metro areas are happy to vote for Democrats because of their liberal stands on lifestyle issues like abortion and because they are so well off that they don’t mind paying more in taxes.

In other words, many of our metropolitain liberals don’t mind paying higher taxes for these stupid programs because they are already so rich they don’t feel it and they don’t have to use the public facilities (like schools) anyway. They cheerfully pay the taxes for us peasants so that they can get support for their pet social issues. He might also have added that by paying these taxes such liberals also buy their way out of actually having to think about solutions to social problems that might work--like hearkening back to social norms that encourage hard work, industry, and public morality (and thereby cut against their pet social issues). But I digress again . . .

Blackwell Interview

I almost always listen to Michael Medved when I’m running errands in the afternoon with the kids, but I missed this interview with Ken Blackwell last Wednesday. If you missed it too, follow the link and hear for yourself why Ken Blackwell will not only be the best Governor the state of Ohio has ever had but why the Dems would do well to watch out for him.

The Liberal’s Week

Elections last Tuesday produce nothing but disappointment. Zarqawi killed. Haditha not drawing the kind of criticism they had hoped for as the American people remain fair-minded and the jury is still out. A triumphant Bush goes to Iraq. Rove, not indicted. Give your liberal friends a hug today. Feel their pain.


Sometimes my students wonder why courage comes first in the discussion of the virtues. Why is it so important, they ask? After an elaborate ruse, the press discovered that President Bush went to Iraq today. Good move.

Update: Here is the Newsweek version on some of the details (ignore the bias), this from USA Today.

Right. On.

The president of the University of North Dakota tells the NCAA to stick it with its demand that the UND change its mascot name from the "Fighting Sioux."

Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt.

No Left Turns Mug Drawing Winners for May

Congratulations to this month’s winners of a No Left Turns mug! The winners are as follows:

Uncle Guido

Lisa Lattea

Thomas Frick

Larry Hartog

Jenna Tower

Thanks to all who entered. An email has been sent to the winners. If you are listed as a winner and did not receive an email, contact Ben Kunkel. If you didn’t win this month, enter June’s drawing.

Now if it were in Hungarian...

But it’s not. Kudos to John Eastman.