Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Rowling, religion, and Harry Potter

Get Religion’s David Pulliam calls our attention to this article in which J.K. Rowling confesses her faith (no surprise to me). Of course, people will probably pay more attention to this story.

Values Voters summit

For coverage of yesterday’s events, go here, here, here, and here. There’s also lots at The Corner and at The Campaign Spot, if you keep scrolling.

When the straw poll results are released this afternoon, bear in mind that it’s possible to vote online after making a nominal donation to the Family Research Council. There are roughly 2600 people in attendance at the event. Online voters will swamp them. The Ron Paul people know this, as do, presumably, the other campaigns. It wouldn’t surprise me to find Paul in the top three (along with--here’s my prediction--Romney and Huckabee). If you separate the online from the in-person votes (which Byron York hopes FRC will do), I’d add Thompson and subtract Paul). Stated another way, I won’t take Ron Paul’s performance here as an indicator of anything other than the devotion of his supporters, who are capable of swamping an event like this, but not of propelling him to victory in a primary, let alone a general election.

Update: Byron York has the straw poll results, which (as he notes) make it hard to distinguish between summit attendees and online voters (since some of the former might have voted online). Bottom line: the results are predictable--Romney and Huckabee at the top, with Thompson trailing (discounting Ron Paul’s results, as I said I would). With his speech, Rudy Giuliani might have made it more possible for folks like those attending the summit to vote for him in the general election. Given the alternative, I’d have no problem doing so.

Thomas Interview

I’ve heard several interviews with Justice Thomas and read several reviews of his book in the last couple weeks. This one was the longest and the best I’ve heard so far. As I write this, the audio is not yet up. But if you check back in a few hours I think it will be there. It’s well worth making a mental note to do so.

Why Do People "Hate" Hillary . . . Part 3

I remember reading this Florence King piece on Hillary Clinton during the week of my college graduation in 1992 and I remember being completely blown away by it. At the time, I thought it was one of the most devastating things I had ever read. King always wrote with sharp edges, so I wasn’t shocked by that. But I did think it was--despite (or because of?) its harsh tone-- shockingly clear and insightful. Re-reading it again, after all these years, I still do. I don’t think anyone has ever said it better. Hillary is that smarmy "great girl" and, whether it was in high school or in college we all knew someone like her and we didn’t like her.

If you didn’t know anyone like her . . . be warned. Perhaps you were her?

Why do People Hate Hillary, part II

Okay, so maybe "hate" is a bit strong, but the always entertaining (but hardly conservative) Caitlin Flanagan of The Atlantic offers one possible reason why. Remember Socks the Cat? He suddenly burst onto the American scene during the 1992 campaign, when press photographers noticed him outside the governor’s mansion in Little Rock. Suddenly Hillary the non-cookie-baker had a way of connecting with "the vast group of Americans (schoolchildren, mothers, teachers, old folk, simpletons) who share a good-natured, apolitical enthusiasm for the particulars of White House domestic life." Before long Socks was showing up in staged White House photographs and accompanying the First Lady on personal appearances. She even wrote (well, compiled) a book, Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets, in which she showcased "the way Hillary wanted to be seen as a first lady...warm, spontaneous to the point of being a little bit silly sometimes; somone who always has a twinkle in her eye whenever children are around." In other words, everything that she very likely is not.

You may be wondering, whatever happened to ol’ Socks? As the Clintons were making preparations to leave the White House in early 2001, the hapless feline was quietly palmed off onto Betty Currie. Of course, Buddy "had barely sniffed his first Chappaqua crotch" before he got loose and was struck and killed by a car--the same fate that befell the Clinton’s previous dog Zeke.

Okay, so Hillary, along with her husband, used dumb animals for whom they probably never had any real affection to score political points. That they’re phonies won’t really strike anyone as front-page news. But what’s worse from Flanagan’s point of view is not that Hillary’s a phony, but a sanctimonious one at that. For Dear Socks, Dear Buddy isn’t just fluff, it’s preachy fluff, full of admonitions never to give pets away, and always to be protective of their physical safety.

The bottom line is that Hillary combines "the worst of the traits that often mark idealists (humorlessness, sanctimoniousness) combined with the worst expediency and hypocrisy of her husband." Yep, that sounds about right.

Why do People "Hate" Hillary?

Peggy Noonan opines that Hillary should think long and deep about that question and, carefully, answer it (if she can). If she could do that, she would be doing something that may inspire more female support, argues Noonan. Her eternal problem seems not to be the fact that she is a woman--but rather that she does not seem to be one. Her public persona of toughness comes off as a bit much--even to her supporters. Hillary’s recent flurry of appearances on programs like The View give testament to the fact that she is aware of this difficulty and that she is trying to combat it. It is an open question whether or not Hillary will be persuasive on this ground--but Noonan is certain that Hillary has chosen precisely the right field for the battle. It seems to me that if Noonan is right (and I think she probably is) then our side would do well to engage her there--albeit on the field of her choosing--instead of running for the trenches or searching for some other point of attack. Even if Hillary is choosing the battleground, it is the ground on which she is (ironically) the most vulnerable. All of this is a long way to a short point--which is: the 2008 election is probably going to turn on the votes of women and of men who are accustomed to aligning their sympathies to the concerns of women. Those are the folks who are angry at Bush. Those are the folks who are not supporting Hillary in enough numbers to make her bullet-proof. So those are the folks, therefore, we must persuade (or, if that fails . . . divide).

David Brooks hearts Huckabee


Dean Barnett hearts him here.

My view: lots of strengths, and a big foreign policy weakness. Vice presidential timber, if ever I saw it.

Cosmopolitan evangelical power elite

Here’s a review of Faith in the Halls of Power, based on interviews with many conventionally successful evangelicals. A snippet:

More than a few writers and pundits, noting the new prominence of evangelicals in American life (not least, that of George W. Bush), warn of a looming theocracy with proselytizing impulses and apocalyptic visions. But Mr. Lindsay, listening to his interview subjects talk about their faith, "found little support for the conspiracy theorists who think evangelicals are plotting to take over America." For starters, the members of the evangelical elite are too divided to embrace a single ideology. Most are Republicans, but many others lean to the left. The first politician profiled in "Faith in the Halls of Power" is Jimmy Carter. Al Gore, Mr. Lindsay notes, participated in Washington’s evangelical prayer groups, too.

Many evangelicals in high positions, in fact, reject the "populist evangelicalism" of the new Christian right. They go "out of their way," Mr. Lindsay observes, to say that they have "never read Left Behind," the series of end-of-the-world novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Instead of celebrating "apocalyptic pot-boilers," one-fourth of Mr. Lindsay’s interview subjects cited C.S. Lewis as a strong personal influence.

Shocking, isn’t it? The larger and more successful a group becomes, the less distinctive it is.

Values Voters and Compassion Summits

Here are two articles written in advance of this weekend’s Values Voters summit, which you can watch, for a small fee, here.

There are three things worth noting from the news coverage thus far. First, as Gary Bauer notes, it’s unlikely that, all of a sudden, there will be clarity about which direction "Values Voters" are moving. Second, although there continues to be some interest in a third party, if RG is the Republican nominee, James Dobson has for the moment backed away from that talk. Third:

"Our voters would rather stay home than vote for half a loaf of bread," said Bill Stephens, the executive director of the Christian Coalition of Florida. "They either want the whole loaf, or they’ll wait for next time."

I hope he doesn’t mean it, or that his group isn’t big or influential (If the former is true, I’m betting also on the latter.)

On a different note, this piece tells of "Compassion Forums" organized by Faith in Public Life. As I’ve noted before, Faith in Public Life is firmly ensconced on the religious left, something not made clear in the NYT piece.

A soldier’s view of Iraq

I just hosted an Oglethorpe alumnus who is on leave from his second tour in Iraq (the first time as a tank and scout platoon leader, this time as an advisor to the Iraqi National Police). The highlights, from the point of view of a liberally educated soldier:

*It’s hard for him to understand a national debate where virtually no one knows what he’s talking about. Shouldn’t our opinions be informed by knowledge?

*Compared with his first tour, the U.S. soldiers this time are infinitely more sensitive to the culture of the people with whom they are dealing. The picture he paints is of a nuanced and culturally sensitive approach to the iraqis with whom they deal.

*Al Qaeda is being beaten very badly in Iraq.

*The proper war analogy is not Vietnam, but Korea, where a long-term U.S. presence stabilizes a situation and permits the economic and political development. Indeed, he seems to think that economic development (successful small business) is the key to political development in Iraq. (Warner Winborne, what do you think of this?)

*"North Korea," in this analogy, seems to be Iran. He has no doubt but that Iran is at war with us in Iraq.

All in all, I think my students heard a lot of good things from a thoughtful and frank soldier who can’t believe how little his fellow citizens know about and understand what he and his comrades are going through. He says he never sees any American reporters, even though he’s all over the Baghdad area (and spends some time in the Green Zone).

Update: A couple of other observations I didn’t have time to include in the original post:

*He’s beginning to see camera mounts on the Humvees (like those on police cars in the U.S.), presumably so that there will be a better record for assessing what went on in particular situations. And he’d have no problem having all his actions in Iraq videotaped.

*He knows of cases in which insurgent deaths are treated as "civilian" deaths because working weapons are quickly removed from the scene, recycled, so to speak.

Update: One thing we all can do: he says it means a lot to troops in transit through airports when people thank them for their service to their country.

Lilla and some critics

Here is a version of the argument from Mark Lilla’s new book, with responses from Damon Linker, Philip Jenkins, and Anthony Sullivan. Jenkins is surely right to point to the flaws in Lilla’s history, but I applaud Lilla for stressing the fragility and rarity of our regime, even as I disagree somewhat with his characterization of it.

I also wonder whether, given his argument regarding the ubiquity of what he calls "political theology" (about which I think he’s basically right), we might not consider whether some political theology is "truer" that the secular liberalism that he, Linker, and Sullivan cherish.

Democrats and religion

This article focuses on Obama’s efforts to organize through churches, where he clearly goes beyond just showing up on Sunday and being introduced by the pastor.

He’s also been talking about "creat[ing] a Kingdom [of God] right here on Earth," which doesn’t sit well with C. Welton Gaddy, a liberal Baptist separationist who heads the Interfaith Alliance. Obama’s efforts to organize through churches also come up for some mild criticism

Might Barack Obama be the most "theocratic" candidate in this field in either party?

The separation of church and union?

Steven Malanga describes a little-noticed field of cooperation between liberal congregations and denominations and labor unions. you can read the longer version here.

Scalia the Catholic (?) judge

This story offers an account of a speech Justice Antonin Scalia gave at this event. Here are some snippets:

"The bottom line is that the Catholic faith seems to me to have little effect on my work as a judge," he declared.


"Just as there is no ’Catholic’ way to cook a hamburger," he said to a murmur of laughter, "I am hard-pressed to tell you of a single opinion of mine that would have come out differently if I were not Catholic."

Nonetheless, he continued, his Catholic faith obliges him to abide by two "commands" in his life and his work as a judge.

" ’Be thou perfect as thy heavenly Father is perfect.’ And ’Thou shalt not lie,’ " he said.

Those principles, he said, call him to be a strict constructionist of the law, one who does not "distort prior cases" or the Constitution in order to assert that certain rights are guaranteed under law.

Our friend Jim Stoner was also on the conference program. If he has a take, I’d love to hear it.

Update: MOJ’s Rob Vischer wonders about this, and calls our attention to this paper on prudence and judging for a more extended treatment of Justice Scalia’s similar remarks in the past. Might this be an example of Scalia’s adherence to a kind of natural law that informs his judging--not, I hasten to add, the attribution of a natural law background to the Constitution (a la Justice Thomas), but rather an assertion that judges have universal obligations?

Update #2 Rick Garnett parses Scalia:

To be a Catholic judge -- and Justice Scalia is, whether he likes it or not, a "Catholic judge" in this sense -- is to be a judge in the way a Catholic, like everyone else, should be a judge: To take seriously one’s obligation to decide impartially, to submit to the rule of law, rather than one’s own preferences, and to have an appropriate humility about the task one is charged to perform. Obviously, this is not a distinctively Catholic way of judging....

One man’s trash

Is another’s treasure.

Forget the Pink Ribbons and the Fluffy Pink Slippers . . .

This is the kind of information people need to help them combat breast cancer. But Dr. Miriam Grossman, M.D. points out that there is a strong reluctance to report it. I knew that having babies and nursing them was one good way to reduce your risk of getting breast cancer (and, if you think about it, it’s very logical or even teleological) but I did not realize the extent to which it was true. According to Dr. Grossman:

Numerous large studies have shown that each birth will reduce your risk by ten percent and each year of nursing by at least four percent. So if you start your family early, have three kids and nurse them each for two years, you’ve decreased your risk by about 54 percent.
Now that’s really something! That should be front page news in October--the so-called "Breast Cancer Awareness Month." But apparently, we’re not supposed to be that aware. Grossman points to a thwarted campaign among doctors to try and respond to the dismay of patients who discovered that they were infertile in their 30s. A group of them tried to sponsor PSAs that showed a baby bottle shaped like an hourglass. The text announced that fertility starts to decline after 30. This is nothing but a fact--and a fact about which a great number of disappointed patients had reported ignorance. Still, malls and theaters refused to post their announcement. This deliberate ignorance of female biology is really astonishing. It has become perfectly acceptable to discuss (in the most public and even obscene ways) the anatomy and function of the female clitoris, but to suggest that fertility declines after 30 and that early childbirth helps prevent breast-cancer is--well, taboo. Up is down and black is white.

I should point out to those of you who have followed my postings on these topics that I have just discovered that Dr. Grossman is, in fact, the "Anonymous, M.D." responsible for this book which I reviewed here). The paperback is now out and includes a new introduction and her real name on the cover. I’m glad she isn’t anonymous anymore. This kind of thing needs to be combated and it needs people willing to take the heat.

Chinese Commies Make KELO Look Benevolent

Terence Jeffrey writes a clear summary of recent government takings in China. Citizens of Beijing, apparently, are hardest hit because of a spade of takings anticipating the coming Olympics. People’s homes are taken and destroyed (with little or no compensation) in order to clear the way for the development of these facilities. Although these actions make our Kelo decision and the takings in New London, CT look like child’s play, Jeffrey rightly points to the affinity between the Chi-com’s and our own hard left.

Evangelicals politically irrelevant?

Our friend the Friar notes this post, written by someone who is apparently no friend of religious conservatives. Here’s the conclusion:

At present, let me float two theories about the relevance of the Evangelical constituency in Republican party elections. When they are united, Conservative Protestants are very necessary, but not sufficient, for a victory. And when they are not united, as Rudy Giuliani is wagering, they are far less necessary.

Fair enough, but the question remains for the general election: without this necessary but insufficient bloc, there’s no Republican road to the White House.

And by the by, the fact that evangelicals are all over the Republican map (with a portion even on the Democratic map) surely gives the lie to any caricatures about lockstep voting, intolerance of difference, and so on. Could it be that conservative evangelicals look at a complicated electoral scene and don’t rush to a simplifying categorical judgment? How, how, how nuanced and bicoastal of them!

Jonah Explains WHY He’s Pro-Life

It seems to me that more of this kind of article from Jonah Goldberg is what is needed from those of us who are pro-life. Jonah does not get on a high horse and give us a lecture. He explains his thinking on the matter, admits (and in the end, even embraces) his doubts, and--in general--gives us a very clear and very human accounting of his position. Without working at being persuasive, he persuades. What I like most about it is that his points are fresh and down-to-earth. It is time for a fresh and down-to-earth discussion about abortion. The reason so many people shut their ears when the subject of abortion comes up is because the rhetoric is so over-heated on both sides. There are so many who claim to know more than they know and they are so venomous about it. Regular folks rightly cringe (and if it’s talk radio, they change the dial) when the subject comes up. But I suspect they might have a different reaction to Jonah’s piece.

Another thing to keep in mind is that--with the exception of the partial birth debate--the leading arguments were formulated and crystallized in the 70s and 80s (and perhaps on into the early 90s). Of course, that doesn’t make the salient points any less correct--but it does mean that they are unfamiliar to a large segment of the voting public. Now is a good time to re-cast them and Jonah sets what I think is exactly the right tone.

Another new and interesting blog

Those who have too much time on their hands might take a look at Principalities and Powers, the outpost of David Innes, a Toronto and Boston College-trained political theorist who also happens to be an ordained minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the OPC, this book is a helpful account of its origins in the modernist takeover of Princeton Seminary.

Full disclosure: I remember David as a too-smart-by-half undergrad when I was in my final years at Toronto.

Canada’s loss is America’s gain.

By the way, the post at the top of the page is a little gem,

Nothing Silly About this "Silly String"

A soldier’s mom had the gumption and the perseverance to help out our troops by arranging to send them 80,000 cans of "silly string." It’s not because these guys want to goof off. The string is used to detect trip wires on bombs. This is a great story about American ingenuity and a mother’s devotion. Good for her.

Cleveland Rocks!

The fast pace of life and the crowds in Southern California have a way of wearing a mid-Westerner down and, if one is not careful, it is hard to see much good in it. But my son, with his devotion to the Cleveland Indians, reminds me of at least one good thing: the time difference. We got to watch every minute of those last two wonderful games.

Last night’s performance was not as exciting as Saturday’s 11th inning drubbing . . . but it was great fun to see my home state displayed to the rest of the country and to such good effect. Special kudos should be accorded to The Cleveland Plain Dealer for the hilarious "bug faces" they printed in the paper for people to cut out and wear in the stadium (in memory of the great gnat plague God wrought on the Yankees)! What kind of wonderfully twisted mind comes up with a genius idea like that? That and the ladies dressed in bug costumes handing out bug repellent to the fans (!) . . . that’s the good-natured Ohio humor (and resignation to the fates beyond our control) I miss so much.

I noticed, by the way, that Hugh Hewitt had John Kasich and Michael Barone on in the last hour of his show to discuss Ohio politics yesterday. Of course, he taped this hour because he had to be at Jacobs Field. Yes. There’s plenty of time to straighten out Ohio’s politics before Nov. of ’08. But Hewitt was right to suggest that whoever gets the Republican nod in February better plan on camping out there at least every other week until the election.

Social conservatives yet again

Our friends at Power Line note this Novak column which looks at a Gallup analysis I can’t find on the web. (Here’s an earlier version of the same sort of analysis, showing that, as of this summer, RG beat HRC among frequent church attenders--including, most importantly, those who are politically independent.) Novak suggests that the Anybody-But-Rudy social conservative leaders are out of touch with their rank-and-file. Perhaps; for the latter, Anybody-But-Hillary might be the more important consideration.

But let me add another bit of polling analysis to the mix, this one from the invaluable Pew Forum. It stresses the gap between self-described Republican social issue voters and the rest of the party identifiers. It’s a big gap, with the social issue voters comprising a substantial portion of the solidly Republican voters, but a candidate who’s going to be successful in the primary and general elections is going to have to reach out to those who are less reliable as Republican voters. And if the social issue folks are serious about Anybody-But-Hillary, they’re going to have to countenance that kind of outreach.


Well, I liked Joe’s comment below, because it gets to the nerve of the Thompson issue. The comments in the REPUBLIC are really about the PHILOSOPHER-KING, who is an unrealistic abstraction or perfection of qualities found in real-life people with philosophic temperaments. For the latter, motives are always mixed, and "public service" or "politics as a vocation" remain possible. Not only that, for those without the wisdom of the philosopher-king (without knowledge of what gives being its beingness etc.), ruling can be a source of knowledge (self-knowledge, knowledge of human nature etc.). In the case of Fred, his relatively contemplative nature might produce prudent policies, or it might produce impotent self-indulgence. Socrates never DID much of anything, because he couldn’t quite figure out what virtue is. Fred hasn’t lived a life of ACTION, much less DANGER. Still, there’s something to be said for a ruler who doesn’t have self-esteem issues (unlike, say, Nixon).

Authenticity in politics

As I was teaching Plato’s Republic yesterday, we came to the passage in Book I where Socrates tells Glaucon that good men only rule so as to avoid being ruled by someone worse. In a city full of good men, he says, there would be an argument over who had to rule, as everyone would prefer to be benefitted rather than to benefit others.

There are (at least) two implications here. First, we should be suspicious of political ambition: people who actually want political power probably don’t have admirable motives. Second, Plato’s Socrates apparently can’t conceive of a "selfless" or "altruistic" motive. What merely appears to be such is really a manifestation of a sense that one has something better to do for oneself. Philosophy emerges in the Republic as the great competitor for, and antidote to, tawdry and self-seeking political ambition.

Of course, that doesn’t leave room for "politics as a vocation" or calling, something that politicians (of whom we’re rightly suspicious) evoke when they speak about a life devoted to public service.

All of this is a long way of introducing David Brooks’s column about retiring Ohio Congresswoman Deborah Pryce, who clearly didn’t like what she had to do to scrape by with a narrow victory in 2006. Brooks admires her, and others like her, for avoiding the principal occupational hazard of political life:

Politics, as you know, is a tainted profession. Professional politicians cannot serve their country if they do not win their races, and to do that they must grapple with a vast array of forces that try to remold and destroy who they are.

There are consultants who try to turn them into prepackaged clones. There are party whips demanding total loyalty. There is a culture of workaholism that strangles private life and private thinking. There are journalists who define them based on a few ideological labels.

And then there is the soul-destroying act of campaigning itself. Active campaigners are compelled to embrace the ideology of Meism.

They spend their days talking endlessly about Me. When they meet donors, they want to know if they are giving to Me or against Me. When they meet advisers and fellow pols, they want to know, do they support Me or not Me. When they think about strategy, it’s about better ways to present Me. When they craft positions, they want to know, what does this say about Me?>

No normal person can withstand the onslaught of egotism and come out unscathed.

And so there are two kinds of politicians: those who become creatures of the process, and those who, like Pryce, resist and retain the capacity to be appalled by what they must do.

An amazing number gladly surrender. “Public people almost eagerly dehumanize themselves,” Meg Greenfield wrote in “Washington,” her memoir. “They allow the markings of region, family, class, individual character and, generally, personhood that they once possessed to be leached away. At the same time, they construct a new public self that often does terrible damage to what remains of the genuine person.”

These politicians become denatured pantomimes. They have no thoughts in private that are different from the bromides they utter in public. They confuse public image with real self. They talk to you as an individual the same way they would address a large crowd.

Why would any decent, self-respecting person want to do this? There’s the Socratic motive--not wanting to be ruled by someone worse--however rarely the self-esteem implicit in that view is truly justified. And there’s the calling of public service, which I think is genuine, but of which (as I said) we’re rightly suspicious when politicians talk too much about it.

I have some stake in sorting this out in the particular cases before me as I decide who I’m going to support in ’08 (as if it will matter by the time the Georgia primary rolls around). And it’s why this article, to which Peter L. called our attention, makes Fred Thompson continue to seem appealing.

Treat Him As a Man

Good for James Kirchick of The New Republic for his op-ed in today’s LA Times about Clarence Thomas. Titled "Clarence Thomas is not the Hypocrite," Kirchick takes Thomas at his word when he describes the pain that came to him from realizing that a Yale degree "meant one thing for whites and another thing for blacks." In other words, Kirchick acknowledges that Thomas’ dislike for affirmative action is sincere and heartfelt. He even sympathizes with it--as a gay man--and argues that he would be mortified himself to realize he had been advanced academically or professionally mainly because of his sexual preference. The hypocrites are those liberals who, in order to defend affirmative action, point to Thomas as a "less than qualified" justice because of the affirmative action that they argue served to advance him. They are saying that Thomas could not have achieved without it. Their little program is the reason for Thomas’ success, so he should be grateful and toe the line?! It is preposterous and insulting. A real liberal in the classical and original sense of the term would understand that. Kirchick does.

"The New Girl Order?"

The always interesting and compelling Kay Hymowitz writes about the globalization of the Single Young Female (SYF) phenomenon. Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw is alive and well and living in Eastern Europe, Japan and--increasingly--even in China. Of course, this has all kinds of demographic, social and political implications. How this transformation will be greeted and felt in each country or region will vary--depending upon what preceded it. Hymowitz has some interesting takes on how it all may play out.

She also has a very interesting discussion about why it may be that the "Rome of SYFs"--the United States--has felt the impact of this transformation less vividly or violently than it is being felt in the countries she discusses here. American women, even SYFs of the Carrie Bradshaw sort, still report a strong interest in getting married. It has much less to do with these women, she argues, than it has to do with the quality of the men. American men, apparently, are more worthy of marriage in these new circumstances. In the United States (and Northern Europe), Hymowitz explains, there is a long tradition of companionate marriage which is more open to the interests of both parties. This translates into more flexibility to accommodate these shifting roles within marriage. Much more could be said about all of this but Hymowitz offers much to stimulate that discussion.

Michael Moore’s Current Reading

You won’t believe this new title, out last week. Complete with a blurb from Mr. Sicko himself. Go ahead and click the link. Make your day. It’s just too good for satire.

Remi Brague on the Law of God

Here’s a good review of a great book. Does "modernity" depend on a faith it has only apparently rejected? The reviewer criticizes Brague, with some justice, for not giving appropriate attention to Locke and the American "regime." So does Locke depend on a faith he has only apparently rejected? Or, as Ratzinger/Benedict says, is the modern world movements toward de-Christianization and de-Hellenization working at cross-purposes? Any adequate response to "what is modernity?" can’t be reduced to a single overarching answer or narrative. (Thanks to Mark Henrie and the Brague fan club.)

A New Book by Pierre Manent

...experted translated and introduced by our friend Paul Seaton. Don’t be fooled by the amazon page; DEMOCRACY WITHOUT NATIONS? is in print.

Tomorrow’s Birthdays

...include John Kenneth Galbraith and Nietzsche. OK, they’re both overrated. Galbraith wasn’t much of an economist, although he has a nice prose style and looked good playing an economist on TV. And our society really and truly is affluent. Nietzsche tried to be the first wholly post-Christian postmodern, but he only succeeded in being really, really modern. (We learn both from his penetrating criticism and personal example that everything we proudly call postmodern is really hypermodern.) It is true enough, though, that if I have a "why," then I can get by with just about any "how," and so any conception of freedom that’s all about "the how" and reduces "the why" to a mere preference is worthless, is nihilism. Nietzsche certainly was a brilliant critic of the herd morality lurking at the heart of liberalism. And he saw clearly what liberalism would do to key social institutions, such as marriage. But his observation that "God is dead" was plain wrong, and so the desperation that fueled his extremist rhetoric was, to be gentle, misguided. Read Tocqueville instead.

Thompson the social conservative choice?

Gary Bauer thinks that religious conservatives ought to keep an open mind about Fred Thompson, who is apparently a work in progress. This earned Bauer a rebuke from Randy Brinson, who, by the way, has been playing footsie with "progressive" Democrats (see also this item, where Brinson appears is lots of good "progressive" company).

Hat tip: Power Line.

Update: The more I look at the Third Way report on a common ground between evangelicals and progressives and at co-sponsor Faith in Public Life (see the staff bios here), the more suspicious I am of Brinson’s new friends. The only evangelicals these folks are intrested in are those who can be persuaded to sign onto a "progressive" agenda. For example, the language about abortion--"reducing the need" for it--presumes that there’s an imperative leading to abortion, that some people can legitimately regard abortion as a "need." I’ll concede that there are certain limited conditions where that may indeed be the case (e.g., to save the life of the mother), but I wouldn’t speak generally of a need for abortion.



I can't believe I was able to stay awake for the whole of the five hour plus game between the Indians and the Red Sox. It was worth it. The game was billed as a pitcher's duel, and was anything but. Such a strange game reveals the flaws (and virtues) of each team. Boston thinks too highly of itself, and the Indians are tenacious. Now Boston knows that every Indian is dangerous and fear has entered their vain hearts. The ideal series for me would be Cleveland vs. Colorado.
Categories > Race

September 6 attack on Syria

It is now being more publicly stated that Israel struck a partly constructed nuclear reactor in Syria last month. Note this paragraph:

"A senior Israeli official, while declining to speak about the specific nature of the target, said the strike was intended to “re-establish the credibility of our deterrent power,” signaling that Israel meant to send a message to the Syrians that even the potential for a nuclear weapons program would not be permitted. But several American officials said the strike may also have been intended by Israel as a signal to Iran and its nuclear aspirations. Neither Iran nor any Arab government except for Syria has criticized the Israeli raid, suggesting that Israel is not the only country that would be disturbed by a nuclear Syria. North Korea did issue a protest."

Some Interesting Birthdays

Today is the birthday of four fascinating Americans: Dwight David Eisenhower, e.e. cummings, Chuck Yeager, and Albert Nock (author of A SUPERFLUOUS MAN). In my opinion, three of these men remain underrated, but one is overrated. To stay out of trouble and keep you guessing, I won’t actually name names.

Yesterday was the birthday of two famous foreigners who would be very hard to overrate: Margaret Thatcher and Virgil.

Bill Kirstol vs. Republican Gloom and Doom

According to Bill, things aren’t so bad. Conservative policies, we have to remember, are working well, and we’re starting to win in Iraq. No doubt the Republican nominee will start behind. But if even Bush the elder can rally to victory (1988), surely the guys we have now have what it takes to do the same. Because I’m naturally predisposed to doom and gloom, I have to exercise extreme impulse control not to give the case in the other direction. So I’ll add that the outcomes of elections--like the outcomes of wars--only seem inevitable after the fact. There are always plenty of reasons to both hope and fear, because we really don’t know how things are going to play out.