This New Republic piece can be seen as a puff-piece for the upcoming Gary Hart campaign, but I think that would be a mistake. It tells a good story of Hart working in England (on his now published book, Restoration of the Republic), meeting a couple of students, befriending them, and how they persuaded him to run because the country needs a man who is driven by ideas, etc. What should not be underestimated is that Hart just may well be the most interesting of the potential Democratic candidates. While admitting that the standards of comparison are low, yet there will seen to be a difference between the dry-as-dust current crop of potential nominees (the amusing and witty Howard Dean to the hilarious Senator Daschle and the humble John Kerry) and someone who can talk the big talk of civic responsibility and principle. Hart will try to do that. He is being portrayed as a man of ideas (and a Demo who warned us about terrorism before 9/11). That is what’s significant; and that may sell given the fact that the Demos are at a nadir. There is much else to say on this subject, I know, including the now hackneyed (post Mondale) point of the Demos wanting to recycle old guys, etc., yet it would be a mistake to ignore this trial balloon. Hart is going to be giving a series of speeches starting in January and not only what he says, but how it is going to be received by the press (and Demo operatives and money guys) will start giving us an indication of this interesting possibility. Here are a couple of stories about how Hart is not denying that he may be interested. This from the Denver Post and this from Newsday.
Eastman sure knows how to dampen a guys interest in the game! But Alt says that there might be an exception in the law in this case because of "bona fide occupational qualifications." I do hope he is right; it would be nice (for a change) for the law to be in line with not only interest, but the Good. And the Platonists keep on hoping....
Poor Peter. He finally discovers a good excuse to take up golfing, but it is, alas, an excuse that will be short-lived. I predict Hooters Air will suffer the same fate that befell Southwest Airlines in 1989. Southwest, you will recall, developed a marketing campaign around the theme of "a little love in the air" (undoubtedly named because its base of operations was Love Field in Dallas). Pushing that theme, and catering to the then-predominantly male business travelling population, its stewardesses (thats what they were called back then) dressed in hot pants and boots. No way, said the federal court in Texas, finding that Southwest violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in hiring only women. Good thing for Gregory Wilson, who brought the suit, that the Fifth Circuit had not at the time held that the Second Amendment guaranteed a personal right to keep and bear arms!
Hooters of America (the restaurant chain) has announced that it has bought a small commuter airline called Pace Air, based in North Carolina. Pace air has specialized in corporate shuttles, catering to VIP business travellers and sports teams. I have no comment, except to say that I think this is a great country, a great big country. The CEO of Hooters says that he will "provide leisure travel service for the golf industry." Now, last word, without too many particulars: Will federal guidelines affect the quality of the service this company is renowned for? Will the flight attendants be hired just for their virtue(s) or will peripheral and non-consequential qualifications be pressed on them? These are pressing political questions asked by those who are about to take up the noble game of golf.
This piece of great news is via Powerline in Minnesota:
"Hang on to Your (Cowboy) Hats and Get Ready for a 15-Hour Hank Williams
Tribute! This New Years Day marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of the
legendary Hank Williams. To commemorate this event, Good & Country [KFAI’s
weekly country show] will present a 15-hour special on Saturday December
28, 2002 from 6:00 AM-9:00 PM. It will include studio recordings, alternate
takes, radio appearances, the complete audio from the Kate Smith Evening
Hour shows (March and April 1952) when he was a guest, an exclusive
interview with his steel guitar player--Don Helms, insights into Hank Williams
in song and story by Hank Williams, Jr., and interview excerpts from those
who knew and worked with him during those heady days when Hank Williams
turned honky tonk music into a fine art and personalized country music as we
know it today. Hope you will tune in and log on."
And you can listen to all of it on your computer, live streaming, by clicking here on Saturday, December 28, at 6 a.m. (MN time). You might not understand America from Scorcese, but you will from Hank Williams.
I am told by those who saw the movie "Gangs of New York" that Ken Masugi nails it. It’s too bad, Scorsese blew it. Masugi’s first paragraph gives you the crux:
Movies about gangs often raise enduring questions about justice and becoming American. Consider "The Godfather," which begins with the line, "I believe in America"; "The Warriors," which used a multiracial gang to retell Xenophon’s Anabasis; and "West Side Story," with Rita Moreno singing "America." For all its epic strivings, "Gangs of New York" never achieves these heights, for it stubbornly maintains the perspective of tribes.
Here are two very good articles (from Mac Owens and Scot Zentner) and the race issue that Lott raised, the ones that the Demos are trying to take to the bank; they have an obvious solution to the problem, as Zentner’s conclusion states:
"Most of those voters agree with Charles Krauthammer’s view that "the civil rights movement rose above sectarianism and insisted on defining itself far more broadly as a vindication of America’s very purpose." Indeed, the greatness of that movement derived from its validation of "America’s original promise of freedom and legal equality."
Republicans should look to this legacy. But forcing Lott out is not enough. President Bush rightly asserted that, "Every day our nation was segregated was a day that America was unfaithful to our founding ideals." The president should now affirm those ideals by moving to abolish affirmative action in his own administration. The party of Lincoln, then, would take a great step toward validating "America’s original promise."
Hayward has a great piece on "The Two Towers", on Tolkien, and whether the race of men have the strength and courage to survive and the moral clarity to do what’s right. Here is his last paragraph, but read the whole:
"Tolkien was not a political philosopher, and as his frequent protestations against interpreting Lord of the Rings as any kind of allegory remind us, it was no part of his purpose to reflect directly on the character of men in different kinds of regimes, or to suggest that it is the virtue peculiar to democracies that is central to saving Middle Earth. Yet as the differences in human excellence and sources of corruption are sewn into the nature of different types of regimes, it is impossible to tell a large tale of war and virtue, corruption and ruin, without opening a window onto these matters."
Andrew Ferguson writes a dozen clear pages regarding the question: Was Dr. Samuel A. Mudd--convicted by a military tribunal in the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln--guilty? The answer shouldnt surprise you, but it is worth a read over a good cup of coffee. It seems to me its all there, as concisely as I have ever seen it.
Alt mentioned USA Todays front page story on the coming attempted shakedown of Senator Frist (and the GOP). I couldnt help noticing that the one thing that is not mentioned in the article is a demand for quotas from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. This, of course, is the dog that didnt bark: this will be the demand of the so-called civil rights groups, and it is the one that Frist and the GOP must oppose. I believe they will oppose it; it is a great opportunity for the GOP to talk about a color blind society. See this encapsulation of the Lott episode from Michael Barone . Also this on the coming Demo race-offensive from David Limbaugh and another on the same theme from John Leo .
Roger Clegg (Center for Equal Opportunity) does a pretty good take from "It’s a Wonderful Life" by having the angel Clarence look into what the world would be like without America. Pretty good!
USA Today reports that the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is seeking a meeting with Frist to demand certain actions to show that he is going to make a "fresh start." Included in the actions sought is rejection of 5 of Bush’s current judicial nominees, who the group claims have "records of deep hostility to core civil rights principles." Among those who the Leadership Conference is seeking to block: Sixth Circuit nominee Jeff Sutton. What is Sutton’s record to which the Leadership Conference makes non-specific reference? Well, right now he is defending a capital defendant, and he just filed a brief defending an inmate for immigration offenses. The core complaint against Sutton is that he argued on behalf of Ohio that Congress couldn’t abrogate the State’s sovereign immunity in passing the American’s with Disabilities Act. They therefore claim that he is "anti-disability"--yet those who actually look at his record would know that he has actually filed lawsuits on behalf of the disabled: in particular he represented a blind woman who sued a university for discrimination. It becomes quickly apparent that the Leadership Conference has little basis to oppose Sutton’s record on Civil Rights issues--unless you consider lockstep support for a liberal agenda to be a civil right.
Following up on the cloning story, President Bush is pushing for Congress to pass a bill banning human cloning. Such a bill passed the House this past term, but died in the Senate. With the switch in Senate control, it is believed that the issues will arise with new fervor in the coming term. Current law prohibits those who receive federal funds from cloning, but does not restrict private groups, such as Clonaid (or more reputable groups) from experimenting so long as they don’t receive public funds. This limits the pool significantly, because most major research centers receive some federal funding.
Now the question I put to the fellows, and particularly to Eastman, Allison Hayward, and Masugi: is it permissible for Congress to ban human cloning? Congress’s power is not boundless: they must act within the scope of their constitutionally authorized power. The bill past by the House this past term relied on congressional power under the Commerce Clause to the Constitution to regulate interstate commerce. The bill states in relevant part:
It shall be unlawful for any person or entity, public or private, in or affecting interstate commerce, knowingly--
(1) to perform or attempt to perform human cloning ;
(2) to participate in an attempt to perform human cloning ; or
(3) to ship or receive for any purpose an embryo produced by human cloning or any product derived from such embryo. (emphasis added).
The Supreme Court in recent years has taken a skeptical look at laws past pursuant to Congress’s Commerce Clause power, striking down provisions which made it unlawful to carry a gun on school grounds, and striking down another provision which permitted federal civil suits for violence committed based on gender-based animus. It is not clear to me that cloning is economic activity (let alone interstate) for the purposes of Commerce Clause analysis. For example, the cloning could be done by a non-profit research organization rather than by a for-profit as a commercial exchange. It may be possible to save the statute by doing something like an "as applied" prosecution: prosecutors may only charge those whose cloning activity is actually economic in nature and is performed in interestate commerce. But this would fall short of the absolute ban that Bush seeks. For example, groups could maintain not-for-profit status, or take steps to assure that their activity was intrastate in nature.
There may be an argument under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment (which authorizes Congress to enforce by appropriate legislation the provisions of Due Process, Equal Protection, and, once upon a time, the Privileges or Immunities of citizenship found in the Fourteenth Amendment) because cloning in animals has led to abnormalities including premature death, which we may assume will occur in humans as well. Even if such an argument could be constructed (which I have doubts about), it assumes that an unborn human clone is a person for the purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment, and that would seem highly implausible after Roe.
Reuters reports that Clonaid, a company associated "with a group that believes extraterrestrials created mankind" claimed yesterday to have produced the first cloned human being. Where was the announcement made? Where else: Hollywood. An "independent expert" selected by Clonaid will offer confirmation of whether the baby, named "Eve" is a clone in the next 8 days. Randall Prather, a biotech professor at the University of Missouri, gets the understatement award for his conclusion that "an independent expert not named by Clonaid would be essential to conduct DNA fingerprinting to determine the baby is in fact a clone."
In a clash of the University of Chicago titans, Seventh Circuit Judge Frank Easterbrook takes his colleague Judge Richard Posner to task for Posner’s pragmatist gloss of the Chevron opinion (which grants deference to certain administrative interpretations). Posner argues that "the interpretation of an ambiguous statute is an exercise in policy formulation rather than in reading." Easterbrook, known as a champion of the textualist approach to statutory interpretation, essentially argues that you don’t have to be a pinko pragmatist who believes that statutes are empty vessels to be filled with your wisdom in order to apply Chevron as a rule interpretating the division of decisionmaking between the branches. (Note: for those of you familiar with Easterbrook’s questioning style at oral arguments, I should specify that he did not actually use the word "pinko.") He goes on to offer what must really be heresy to Posner: the conclusion that "Interpretation differs fundamentally from regulation." Many thanks to Howard Bashman’s
How Appealing blog for bringing this to my attention. You can access Posner and Easterbrook’s respective opinions here.
James Taranto has a couple of choice paragraphs (with plenty of links) on the continuing whitewash by The New York Times and others, of Senator Patty Murrays ourageous comments extolling Osama bin Laden for his humanitarianism of a week ago. But it is kept alive by bloggers, and should have an effect on her re-election (and maybe even on the Democrats attempt to attack the Bush administration on its handling of the anti-terror war).
This is a BBC report on a recent discovery stemming from the Human Genome Project. And, if I read it right, its only good news for some future Nazi-types. Instead of us having the same origins, some humans may have interbred with "archaic hominids." Note these two paragraphs:
"Some replacement models, and some genetic
data, suggest no interbreeding at all with
archaic peoples outside of Africa, while other
replacement models allow limited interbreeding
with the locals over the short time scale in
which they overlapped.
"This new research suggests there could have
been some interbreeding, but as the authors
recognise, it could have been limited, and
whether it happened at all is still an open
You can go to directly to the Proceedings of the National Aacademy of Sciences to get the summary, and you can download the whole thing in PDF.
There is a movement in the Sudan--in a civil war for almost twenty years--among women to withold sex from their men until there peace is made. This sex-strike may be having some effect, according to this story from The Daily Telegraph .
This is a piece of good news from todays Boston Globe :
"Steel salvaged from the wreckage of the World Trade Center will
be used to build the Navys USS New York, a warship named in honor of those who
perished in New York on Sept. 11, 2001."
"The USS New York will be the fifth of 12 amphibious assault ships in the San
Antonio class, which the Navy calls one of its most technologically innovative. The
684-foot vessel will carry a Navy crew of 402 and up to 800 Marines.
The $800 million vessel should be ready for active duty in 2007.
If the trade center scrap meets specifications, it will be melted down and used to
configure the edge of the bow that cuts through the water, said Northrop Grumman
spokesman Jim McIngdale."
This is from The Boston Globe on the rise of blogging and what effect it is having (and what effect it may have had on raising and keeping alive the Lott issue). Although the number of bloggers has increased tremendously, and most are just "navel gazing" it is true, there are plenty of good ones to keep journalists/reporters more honest than they would be without us. There is good reason why the Beltway types read bloggers (including NLT), just see Alts note below on the two New York Times stories having to do with the environment. Such praise of the miracle of a good story (and, more often, the criticism of the bias) will be noted; never mind the great commentary you had to gold-mine for before the rise of this medium. Bologgers are gravemakers, they hold up Adams profession.
Leave it to California. The New York Times ran a story about Gray Davis signing a bill banning textbooks that exceed a specified weight limit. Assuming that they don’t want to see the books dumbed down (I know, it is a big assumption) the move must be intended in part to get publishers to produce multivolume books. This will have two consquences: 1) the books will be more expensive; 2) the students’ backpacks will likely be even heavier. Why the last: because teachers tend to jump around in textbooks, which will likely require students to carry multiple volumes to each class. Thus, the weight of the books may actually increase. Another fine example of regulatory stupidity.
Although this has been going on for decades, according to a newstory by Frank Bruni in todays New York Times it is getting progressively worse: Europe has the lowest fertility rate of any continent. Italy, with a fertlity rate of 1.2%, has the oldest population in the world, the percentage of those over 60 years old is 25%. All this has great political implications, of course.
Maybe it was a Christmas miracle, or maybe Howell Raines took Christmas Eve off. Whatever the reason, something amazing happened on December 24, 2002: the New York Times ran two reasonable stories on environmental issues.
The first is perhaps the most amazing. It was an article by Nicholas Kristof praising Bush’s decision to permit snowmobiles back in Yellowstone. As I read the article, I kept waiting for him to say something offensive--which is the hallmark of a Kristof article--but it didn’t happen. Instead, he presented the argument for why the alternative of no snowmobiles is actually more harmful to the environment (the larger coaches used to drag around tourists spew more pollution per person), and why the new Bush policy of permitting the quieter, more efficient 4-stoke engines is a good idea. Then he said what must simply be sacrilege to the green set:
Some environmentalists have forgotten, I think, that our aim should be not just to preserve nature for its own sake but to give Americans a chance to enjoy the outdoors.
At this point, I’m feeling a little light headed. My worldview has been shattered--a sensible statement on the NYT op-ed page. But then I turn to the feature-length piece on the page by Thomas Pakenham, who chides radical conservationist groups in Britain for buying up acres of forest only to chop them down because the trees were not native to the area as of the end of the last ice age. The article beautifully pointed out the silliness of these organizations, who would destroy the countryside in the name environmental purity.
So there you have it: two reasonable articles in one day by the NYT. You can try to tell me that Raines was on vacation, but I’m sticking to the miracle theory.
George Will notes that Bruce Cole (unlike his Clintonian predecessors) is a sound thinker (on beauty, which he thinks does exist) and is doing some good things at the Nation al Endowment for the Humanities, including trying to make good citizens. This is passed along just in case you think it doesnt matter who gets elected president. Here is the NEH site on its new initiative "We the People."
The English blogger John Hudock has a wonderful quiz for those those Demos (Clinton, et al) who are trying to make the GOP the party of racists. There are only two possible answers to each question, for example: "Jim Crow laws were passed by legislatures controlled by: a) Democrats, b) Republicans." Worth a look, as a reminder. It should be sent to all race-baiters (including Senator Byrd). It is the first blog under December 26th.
The Washington Times has an interesting report on new weapons that have been developed and ready to use on Iraq. Seymour Hersh has an article worth reading in the current issue of The New Yorker, focusing on the Hellfire attack in Yemen and what we learned from it. And the Washington Post has an especially interesting article on how we are getting information from prisoners, and the great difference between our methods pre-9-11 and post-9-11. None of this should surprise us (or them), and it seems to be working. There are a few precious lines (the issue of "extraordinary renditions" to Syria, Morocco, Egypt, or Jordan; having women conduct some of the interrogations, pretending that they are being questioned by another country, not the US, etc.) but the whole is very much worth reading. I was struck by a sentence from one interrogator: "If you don’t violate someone’s human rights some of the time, you probably aren’t doing your job." Apparently during the last few months, especially, we have been getting a lot of information from these guys. That information is crucial, and is the main argument against killing them as we find them.
This is Ron Brownsteins article on the what the Frist selection will mean politically for both the GOP and the Demos. It emphasizes health care issues and the ideological connection to the Bush White House, and the difficulties the Demos might have in attacking him. The article is by no means perfect, but it is thoughtful, it tries to look at the strategic effects of this selection. And Fred Barnes adds more to the new "happy face conservatism" of the GOP leadership (i.e., not Newt-like); he claims Frist and his Senate leadership team (McConnell. Nickles, Santorum, and Kyle) will work well together.
This courtesy of Steve Aftergoods Secrecy News.
No word on how North Korea is viewing "Lord of the Rings The Two Towers" or Spielbergs new one "Catch me if you Can"
"NORTH KOREA CANT STAND NEW JAMES BOND FILM
"In what must be the oddest sign of escalating tensions between the
United States and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK),
the North Koreans have lashed out at the latest James Bond movie,
"Die Another Day."
"The 20th installment of the American movie series James Bond 007
describes our Republic as an axis of evil and incites North-South
confrontation and has contents that groundlessly belittle and
humiliate our nation and even viciously insult our race, according
to a December 19 broadcast on the Korean Central Broadcast Station in
"We view this not as a certain movie producers problem but as a
product of the United States policy of belittling the Korean nation
and its hostile policy toward the DPRK."
"The movie is intolerable."
"See The United States Shoddy Act of Insulting the Korean Nation,"
translated by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, here:
Steve Haywards recipe for his Turducken alternative reminds me of a French dish, a play off of coq au vin and canard lorange: coq dans canard.
This is a lengthy piece from the London Economist comparing the Thatcher and Reagan legacies and trying to answer why one didnt last, and the other became "the citadel of modern conservatism." The piece is far from perfect, but it asks the right questions. It looks good for us, but the Brits are going to continue to suffer.
I have been reading Derek Leebaerts The Fifty-Year Wound: The True Price of Americas Cold War Victory, at Steve Haywards recommendation. This is a great read, told as a thumping good story of good beating evil (open it at random and start, and you will see what I mean) and the authors judgments are sound and clear; there is no moral ambiguity here. Hayward reviews it in the current Claremont Review of Books . Here is a paragraph from the review:
"Leebaert negotiates these treacherous crosscurrents with near-perfect pitch and refreshing honesty.
Beyond just the direct aspects of the Cold War such as diplomacy and military power, Leebaert
captures the cultural changes the conflict wrought. Yet Leebaert never indulges any of the fantasies
of the revisionist Left or libertarian Right. To the contrary, he devastates the cliché that the U.S.
embraced the Cold War in order to establish a militaristic national security state or to become a
self-conscious imperial power. Above all, he never questions the necessity of the overall conflict, or
expresses any doubt that the Soviet Union was the evil empire that Reagan understood it to be. In
fact, near the end of the book, Leebaert is indignant that the Soviet Union isnt regarded as just as
evil as Nazi Germany. The Fifty-Year Wound is patriotic throughout, realistic ("It would have taken an
entirely different United States to have accomplished the task without the usual pork barrels,
bureaucratic archaism, and vagaries"), and rejoices that our side won."
A couple of sobering articles on this Christmas eve. The New York Times files this report on Hezbollah and quotes unnamed administration officials who claim that they are "the A team of terrorism" more menacing than al Queda. And The Washington Post reports that the terror threat is largely undiminshed and in some ways they are more capable than before 9/11.
I saw Two Towers with my youngest (John Winston, now fourteen). I thought it was very well done; enjoyed the whole thing. Johnny was enraptured by it, maybe more than the first. He thought it was terrific. A passing note; the theatre in Ashland was nearly full, and the vast majority of the people were (I’d say) between thirteen and eighteen. Maybe ten percent were thirty and above. Also, virtually no females. PejmanPundit has a few good paragraphs (Dec 23) on the movie with a good Tolkien quote; his response to Nazi publishers wanting to know if he was of "Ayan" extraction:
"I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by
arisch [Aryan]. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is,
Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my
ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any
related dialects. But if I am to understand that you
are enquiring if I am of Jewish origin, I can only
reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors
of that gifted people."
In the "Getting the Right Man (or at least Right Name) for the Job" department, this mornings WaPo reports that President Bushs new director of congressional relations is named Hobbes (David Hobbes).
And in the "Truth is Stranger than Fiction" department, Hobbes used to be chief of staff to . . . Trent Lott.
Happy Hobbesian new year, Congress.
I strongly recommend Jody Bottums pieces in First Things, the one last month on South Dakota Thanksgiving and this months on South Dakota Christmas. Wonderful writing (a vocabulary for toys that evokes Mark Helprins characters), memories you had or, certainly wished you had.
I agree with Steven--The Two Towers was a very good film. No mushy moral relativism here!
Of course, Peter Jackson could be counted on to make the most of Tolkein’s hostility to modernity. I don’t believe the author ever used the word "industry," but near the beginning of the film the evil wizard Saruman makes it clear that his goal is to bring about a new order of "industry."
I also agree that Gollum stole the show. Did anyone else notice a strange resemblance between Gollum and actor Steve Buscemi?
This is a nice short piece praising Miss America, Erika Herold, and her positions on sex before marriage (no!) and what it may have to do with revivifying a conversation about the importance of family (and abstinance before marriage) in America.
Michael Barone goes through some of it again, and mentions that bloggers had to more to do with catching the meaning of the comments, and keeping it in play, than others. Diana West beat up Lott’s unprincipled ways in the Washington Timesthat I originally missed. And, I should say that judging by the way the talking heads chattered on about Frist on this Sunday morning, I don’t think The New York Times and its supporters will have any success in doing harm to Frist. The other thing made clear by the talk shows (and news surrounding the Frist victory) is that the White House is being given credit for pulling off, as David Broder said, a "coup." I think this this true and, yet, significant that their fingerprints are not all over it; very artful, very prudent. The results will give a huge opportunity for the President and the GOP to create a new majority on deeper principles than heretofore. Part of the judgment on that will be how they talk about affirmative action; if they take a principled stance on their ancient faith than we are off and running; if not, they’ll be even higher mountain to climb. I’m an optimist. See this good piece by Rogert George and also see Bill Bennett’s fine piece in yesterday’s NRO. I have my own stories from my first teaching job at Arkansas State, but that’s for another time. But I should mention to Bill that I have never been a Democrat!