Gregory Dunn has a fine essay on Bushs speech, he calls it "God and Empire: Some Theological Reflections." The last paragraph is worth quoting by way of encouraging you to read the whole thing:
"The most remarkable moment of Bush’s
speech is his closing: not "God bless America," as he often
says, but the more explicit "May he guide us now, and may
God continue to bless the United States of America." This
should not be missed: he closes with a prayer. As we strive
to be just, we need guidance, so we humbly ask God for it.
And we remember that the phrase "God bless America" is
not a statement or a command but a supplication. Liberty
may be our right, but divine favor is not. So we humbly ask
for it. Our situation is precarious. (It always is.) So we
This is a great Charles Krauthammer piece arguing this:
"After the Blix report, France has nowhere to hide. It is the moment of truth for
France, and, in a larger sense, for the United Nations. The United Nations is on
the verge of demonstrating finally and fatally its moral bankruptcy and its
strategic irrelevance: moral bankruptcy, because it will have made a mockery of
the very resolution on whose sanctity it insists; strategic irrelevance, because
the United States is going to disarm Iraq anyway."
This is true but incomplete. Because I maintain that what is most likely to happen is that the U.S. will end up saving the UN from irrelevance by persuading the French (Russia and China are no problem) to go along; the French will not be courageous enough (or principled enough) to be responsible for the veto (and for making the UN irrelevant since the UN is their only hope to maintain any kind of French relevance) so they will, in the end, go along with us. That is what is most likely to happen. They will probably end using the Colin Powell briefing next week as the excuse to get back into the fold; they will say they have been persuaded by the new information. But, despite my opinion, the Krauthammer piece is worth a good coffee.
Here is Robert Scheer, the lefty in his ancient malice, writing in the rancourous and the hard-left The Nation. He says that the state of the Union is lousy and President Bush either doesn’t know it, or doesn’t care. This is worth reading because it gives a good and clear overview of what the now off-the-wall left really thinks about Bush and the world. He says that the international coalition that Bush has already assembled "amounts to a fig leaf named Tony Blair and a motley collection of nations one
can buy on EBay." The collection of nations (about fifteen) includes not only Britain but a number of Arab states, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, and so on. So these are the nations one can buy on EBay! Fine. The left is putting itself in a real fix. Soon it will be doing nothing but supporting countries like France and Germany who--for their own petty and base reasons--are opposing American policy or supporting the UN Security Council because it might be persuaded to oppose American interests all the time. And then, when they realize that the Security Council in the end will support American policy (the French are not going to veto!), the left will then want to abolish the Security Council and argue that the General Assembly (by majority vote) is worthy of support because it is more likely to oppose our policies.
The left will say anything and do anything to oppose American interests; anything is better America. They have given away whatever authority they ever had; no one trusts them anymore.
The Washington Post offers this article today about the Senate Judiciary Committee finally voting D.C. Circuit nominee Miguel Estrada out of committee. The one piece of information that is somewhat new in the story is that Hatch is trying to get a full floor vote on Estrada by next week. My sources tell me that there could be a vote as soon as Tuesday. The Dems are threatening a filibuster, but look for members from border states and with large Hispanic populations to get cold feet. Even so, I don’t think that Senators Feinstein and Boxer will flinch from their lockstep devotion to liberal obstruction, thereby leaving themselves open to their anticipated negative votes on Estrada being used against them in their next respective elections.
The Post article itself demands a couple of clarifications. First, the article begins by using the term "[t]he Republican-run Senate Judiciary Committee . . . ." Last time I checked--and much to the Post’s chagrin--the entire Senate was "Republican-run." Post readers tend to be aware of such minor things like mid-term elections. The adjectival surplusage looks more like well-poisoning.
Second, we have the classic use of "scare-quotes" around "languishing"--a term Senator Hatch used to describe Mr. Estrada’s and other judicial nominees’ status during the interregnum Democratic control of the Senate precipitated by Senator Jeffords’s switch-in-time-that-saved-none. Yet languishing hardly seems like an inappropriate or partisan term to describe the 631 days that Mr. Estrada, who was deemed unanimously "well-qualified" by the ABA, has been forced to wait for a simple committee vote. Indeed, languishing is precisely the right term. The Judiciary Committee should therefore move expeditiously on Judge Cook, Mr. Sutton, and Mr. Roberts--all of whom have been waiting for 632 days for the Committee to do its duty and give them a vote.
Richard Reed got the maximum life sentence in federal court today. Note what the U.S. District Judge William Young said:
"We are not afraid of any of your terrorist
co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We
are Americans. We have been through the fire
You are not an enemy combatant — you are a terrorist. You are not a
soldier in any war — you are a terrorist. To call you a soldier gives you far
too much stature. You are a terrorist and we do not negotiate with terrorists.
We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice."
One of the problems with delivering a State of the Union address today is the expectation that it must address every important issue in a meaningful way. Cant be done, of course. Which is why we should take note of the ways President Bush framed some important issues concisely and astutely, even though he did not take the time to delve into them more substantively in his 1-hour speech.
Case in point: strife in the Middle East. Within the proverbial "25 words or less," heres how he suggested the U.S. approach the crisis in the Middle East:
"In the Middle East we will continue to seek peace between a secure Israel and a democratic Palestine."
Quod erat demonstrandum.
You may well enjoy the Claremont Institute’s conference, "American Citizenship in the Age of Multicultural Immigration." It will be held March 20-22, at the Chapman University School of Law, in Orange, California. The conference is cosponsored with the generous support of the Salvatori Center of Claremont McKenna College and Chapman University School of Law. The conference is free and open to the public. A major publication is expected from the papers.
Principal speakers include Paul Gigot of The Wall Sttreet Journal, Joel Kotkin, assistant attorney general Viet Dinh, and frequent Ashbrook speaker William B. Allen, not to mention Peter W. Schramm. Papergivers and respondents (including Stephen Schwartz) include a cast too long to name here, but please check claremont.org https://claremont.org/ in the next day or two for a brief announcement and the preliminary program.
Here is George Will with a very good essay on why the administration cant reveal everything that it knows, and why the inspection process is futile. A good coffee.
Here is Jonah Goldberg with a good essay on Bush’s speech and his way. The concluding paragraph:
"President Bush laid things out clearly when he said, "We will not deny, we will
not ignore, we will not pass along our problems to other Congresses, to other
presidents, and other generations. We will confront them with focus and clarity
and courage." And it struck me; the first metaphor for Bush was still the best.
He is a cowboy, in the best sense of the label. He’s got a moral compass that
points true north even if he’s got to zigzag to get there. He speaks plainly. He’s
not dumb, but he also doesn’t need to be the smartest man in the room because
he’s got right — ’providence’ in his words — on his side, and he knows the
difference between shinola and other substances. This may not explain the
dynamics of why Saddam’s got to go right now. But after he’s gone, when the
Iraqi prisons and archives of terror are opened and the Iraqi people are free,
Bush can simply say of Saddam, in cowboy parlance, "He needed killin’"; and
everyone will understand."
This is a good book review of Stephen Schwartzs The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Saud from Tradition to Terror (Macmillan) showing how Wahhabism has taken the place over. Thanks to Pejman.
I know this is ironic, but facts are more interesting than fiction in politics. Iraq is to become the Chair of the UN Conference on Disarmament in May. It may be a double irony because by then Iraq may be disarmed, run by better guys, and could actually have something to say about how disarmament should work! That this announcement follows the announcement made a few months ago that Lybia is going to Chair the UN Commission on Human Rights, just adds to the ironies. And I have nothing else to say about the UN. This is perfect.
This is the article from the London Times signed by eight European leaders in favor of Bush’s stance on Iraq. It also appeared in todays WSJ, and has appeared in papers throughout Europe. Here is the BBC report on it. Notice that Tony Blair is quoted as saying that France and Germany should not be allowed to speak for Europe. This should be headline news. Notice how the countries--I just mention in passing as a geopolitical observation--encircle the ancien regime of France and Germany. Here are the signers:
José María Aznar, Spain
José Manuel Durão Barroso, Portugal
Silvio Berlusconi, Italy
Tony Blair, United Kingdom
Václav Havel, Czech Republic
Peter Medgyessy, Hungary
Leszek Miller, Poland
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Denmark
Ken Masugi, Ben Boychuk, Tom Krannawitter, Bruce Sanborn, and others have some good reflections on the Claremont Institutes new blog, called "The Remedy." Have a look. There is already a good conversation developing on Bushs speech.
Ken Masugi has a wonderful and high-minded piece on Bush’s State of the Union Speech. He praises it highly and the way he does so may surprise most you. Although it is a short essay, linger over it with a cup of Java.
Alts perceptive piece calls to mind of course the whole problem of the Judiciary Committee (let alone the NY Times) making the call on who gets to become a judge. It is a clear violation of the separation of powers. A committee of the Senate cannot personate the entire Senate. A grave constitutional responsibility cannot be delegated to another body, without or within the Senate. This calls to mind the whole problem of fragmentation of power in Congress, in the committees and subcommittees. Whether the new Republican majorities in both Houses will use their powers wisely (often meaning ruthlessly)remains to be seen. Can this Congress control itself and control the bureaucracy?
A little more reflection this morning on the State of the Union speech (after I shovelled six plus inches of snow from the walkway; the good news is that it wasnt minus four this morning!): It was a fine, sober, and eloquent speech. Maybe not his best, but he has already given three or four perfect ones. The first part was a bit prosaic (and some of the proposed federal programs are not appealing and/or unconstitutional) and yet, oddly, often touching. Its odd how in an honest man even the prosaic and the questionable become interesting and plausible. The second part was perfect. The words were fine, and the pauses spoke volumes. Clearly, this is the man for a crisis. The moral tone, the self-confident American (dare I say cowboy?) mode gave heart to those around the world who know the truth of American principle and value American power. We have fought to make strangers free, and we are not going to stop. And some of us will die. We are willing to pay that price; we are honored to so so.
It must be said that the political consequences of his hard stance on Iraq will be great. There are three good general things that will result from the speech: friends will be heartened by his manly eloquence, fence sitters cannot imagine a rhetoric equally persuasive, and our enemies will be demoralized, their courage will show gaps. Although details of its effects (and the follow up with the Security Council) are hard to predict, it is certainly the case that chance will follow his design more than not. The UN will be persuaded in the end by the speech, by Powells follow up, and by the Blix Report. They may be squishy, but are not completely imprudent, nor are they without self-interest; and they do fear irrelevance, the greatest terror in the heart of an international bureaucrat.
The New York Times this morning editorializes that Mr. Estrada is "An Unacceptable Nominee." Their reasons deserve scrutiny. First, they point to the fact he has "a reputation for taking extreme positions" and "that his interpretation of the law is driven by an unusually conservative agenda." What evidence does the newspaper of record cite for this proposition? The statements of Paul Bender. Bender, whose ideological extremism was well-known and reported during his tenure at the Justice Department is the only person to make these statements. As I argued here here in NRO, Bender has been widely discredited for taking positions that are outside the mainstream on issues such as child pornography, and for lapses in judgment that caused the American Arbitration Association to remove him from the position as arbitrator. Indeed, citing to Paul Bender for his view on whether or not someone is idelogical or within the mainstream would be like a federal judge citing to Bellesiles for a statement about the history of guns. (Oh wait, Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th Circuit actually did that--although at least he had the good sense to pull that citation. Howard Bashman has this story on his How Appealing site.)
The Times editorial then criticizes Estrada and the Justice Dept. for failing to release internal legal memos from Estrada’s time in the Solicitor General’s office. But every Solicitor General since Lincoln has signed a statement saying that this is a remarkably bad idea. Thus, given the statements by Clinton Justice Department officials, it becomes abundantly clear that this isn’t a political move by the Bush Justice Department--but rather this is an overreach by Judiciary Committee members who are acting at the behest of the Ralph Neas brigade.
If the Republicans were attempting to block a qualified Hispanic nominee like Mr. Estrada using such scurrilous attacks, the New York Times would be screamining racism. Considering the fact that the Times genuinely fears that Mr. Estrada may be a viable Supreme Court candidate in part because he is Hispanic, such allegations may be well founded against Mr. Raines’s Times.
Rumors of my death were mildly exaggerated. For good or for ill, I should be back in the saddle this week.
If you never heard the president speak before, you could get a pretty fair picture of what the man stands for from his speech tonight:
Hes a man of his word, a man of the American founding, a man of God, and, yes, a former governor.
Bush was smart to leave the best, the most important, for last: foreign policy, where his sense of duty and honor came through with conviction and purpose. Examples: "Let me put it this way: theyre no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies." And, "Theyre learning the meaning of American justice." Can anyone imagine Clinton or Carter saying this of terrorists that no longer walk this earth because of the sinews of American power?
He clearly put forth an American foreign policy that sees prevention, not reaction, as the best means of national defense. Taking a page from Hadley Arkes, he noted that while America will consult with the United Nations--Feb. 5 to be exact--"the course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others." This is one tough hombre, a man who takes his oath of office seriously-- to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Peter already stole the best line of the speech(and I quote from memory), that "the gift of liberty that Americans prize is not their gift to the world but the gift of God to humanity." Not a bad rendition of the self-evident truth that all men are created equal. Quite refreshing to have a president who thinks the American founding is worth setting ones sights by.
The president once again reminded the American people that they are a nation under God, which means both His favor and His judgment. In discussing his faith-based initiative, Bush alluded to a Christian hymn with the line about "power, wonder-working power," and he closed the speech with an invitation to place "our confidence in a loving God." Its no surprise our Republican president spoke of an America he hoped would promote "a culture that values every life," while the Democratic response (via Washington State Gov. Locke) endorsed "the right to choose." Perhaps the governor should brush up on that other Locke to learn aright where rights derive from.
Thankfully, Bush devoted the first (and least memorable) part of the speech to the presidential wish list for Congress. This reminded me that his compassionate conservatism has a lot to do with his experience as a governor. State governments are supposed to administer programs and whatnot, something we should hear less about from a conservative Republican president. Federal dollars for R&D to produce hydrogen-powered automobiles? That said, his promotion of economic growth as the key to higher employment rates and greater tax revenues was a return to standard, conservative fiscal policies.
"Free people will set the course of history." A simply statement of the president. May the United States rise to the challenge and responsibility of this maxim.
I thought it was an excellent, even eloquent speech . The second half was better, the part on Iraq was very fine. I must say that the part on AIDS in Africa was moving; American liberality of spirit revealed. There were sections, phrases, that were lovely, poignant, full of pith. Quick examples:
"The course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others..."
"And tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country--your enemy is ruling your country."
"America is a strong Nation, and honorable in the use of our strength. We exercise power without conquest, and sacrifice for the liberty of strangers."
"Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not Americas gift to the world, it is Gods gift to humanity."
I bring to your attention the first of a series of articles that will be running on the Ashbrook site by Adjunct Fellow Terrence Moore, the Principal of Ridgeview Classical Schools (Colorado). The on-going series is called "The Principals Perspective," and the first installment is entiled "A Nation Still at Risk." This is good stuff. Keep it in a file somewhere; you will get more of Moore! He is identified more fully at the end of the essay.
"My purpose in these articles will not be primarily to
criticize existing educational institutions or to point fingers
of blame at those who have sapped the native curiosity of
our young people by using that most powerful weapon of
mass mental contraction: boredom. Rather, I hope to offer
an alternative view of learning, which, while it may seem
fresh and different, is actually old and venerated. We may
call this approach to education ’classical.’ Classical
education has a history of over 2500 years in the West..."
Bob Woodward writes in todays WaPo that the administration has decided to reveal some classified information that shows that Iraq has banned weapons systems which it has been able to conceal them from inspectors. They are to do this next week.
Im on the run today, so Ill just point you to Andrew Sullivans analysis of the Blix Report (here is the Reports text) and Colin Powells effort and position. It is very good, I think. The crux here is that the Report came in very critical of Iraq; it was fun watching the network news flunkies trying to get around a problem they didnt expect.
Here is a New York Times story on Powell as hawk. May confusion among our enemies continue!
This study out of Canada could be devastating news for those young who are (overly?) ambitious politically. The study examined over 1,500 governors (male) who served and died by 1978, and found that comparing age of election to age of death, men
elected governor at a relatively young age also tended to die at an earlier
age. This also seems to be true for early achievers in other professions. Some of us will live long and prosper, Im sure of it.
Karl Rove did one of those not especially useful over-luncheon interviews with the Christian Science Monitor a few days ago, and here is Mary McGrorys predictable liberal reaction in the WaPo. Its sniping and petty. It just makes me like Rove more! I have seen Rove give talks at colleges (replayed on C-Span) and I am impressed. He is a thoughtful guy, knows quite a bit of political history, and has a plan. He is certainly one of the most impressive political advisors to any president in my memory. No wonder he makes their political enemies angry. I hope he keeps it up. Here is the recent "Democracy Corps" poll by Carville/Greenberg/Shrum and their Memo on it (both in PDF). Notice that they warn the Democrats not to "dare make the mistake of the last two years and rely for the Republican slippage. This poll shows the Democrats image no stronger than in November..." Yup, they have their work cut out for them.
Here is the Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz’s speech to the Council of Foreign Relations last Thursday. And Colin Powell told Italian newspaper Corriere
della Sera in an interview, according to this AP dispatch from Milan:
"The United States possesses several pieces of
information which come from the work of our
intelligence that show Iraq maintains prohibited
weapons." Here is a report on how Jordan and other Arab states have become part of the "coalition of the willing." And here is the text of the Blix Report to the U.N. on Iraq.
Here is Hadley Arkes way of welcoming Powell back into the fold, and suggesting to the president what he should do in the State of Union Address. Not only thoughtful, but, typical for Hadley, clever and amusing. Here are the first two paragraphs:
"Colin Powell had put himself through one of the priciest ventures in adult education as he was sandbagged last
week by the French, and discovered that his scheme of working through the United Nations was not only a
path leading nowhere, but a path leading off course. By working through the U.N., the administration made the
media and the public suggestible to the notion that the problem hinged on the elusive matter of "inspections" and
disarmament. But the problem is the regime itself in Iraq and its deep involvement in the network of terror aimed at
the United States. And by seeking a coalition, a multilateral project, Powell helped to build the sentiment, now
ascending in the polls, that we may not defend our own country without the endorsement of the U.N., with its
collection of exotic despotisms, and so-called "allies" who have nursed an hostility to us.
It is about time then to deliver the Sam Spade version of the State of the Union Address as it
bears on Iraq. Or at least a variant on the version done by Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese
Falcon. It was not a gesture merely of machismo when Bogart said to Mary Astor (in a
paraphrase) that when your partner is killed, youre expected to do something about. It
doesnt matter, he went on, whether you particularly like him or not; youre expected to do
something about it."
Here is Bill Safires march of logic in todays New York Times on whether or not there are links between Iraq and terrorists, concluding with Colin Powells statement the other day in Switzerland: Iraq has "clear ties to terrorists groups, including Al Qaeda."
Curious as to why there’s no mention whatsoever of the march’s sponsorship by hard-core Stalinists? Check out the byline; the author, Norman Markowitz, "is a member of the editorial board of Political Affairs, the theoretical journal of the CPUSA."
That a high official in the Communist Party can hold an academic post at an institution like Rutgers is disturbing enough; that leading mainstream historians have chosen to give him a soapbox on a forum that has among its goals "to remind us all of the complexity of history" and to uncover "the superficiality of what-happens-today-is-all-that-counts journalism" is outrageous.
This Time article is worth a read, not because it is complete (how could it be on such a subject?) but because it touches on just enough facts to make your palm sweat and make you ponder the possibilities in this new war. Surely, this is fascinating, of great potential value as well as mischief. For example, the CIA’s paramilitary operations were responsible for the Predator attack in Yemen (Bush did not have to approve it). Also note that according to the story Rumsfeld is not amused that the CIA has its own army. George Tenet started putting this together five years ago. Three coffees.
This Newsweek article makes perfectly clear that Secretary of State Powell is
no longer a "dove," if he ever was one. His newly found hard-line voice both irritates the UN wimps and heartens the good guys. The story isn’t deep (and, of course, it’s biased), yet it makes perfectly clear that Powell has had it with not only Iraq, but with Old Europe. And, back on the cowboy theme, I was amused to see this quote in the article from President Bush last fall. He was talking to Vaclav Havel: "I know some in Europe see me as a Texas
cowboy with six-shooters at my side. But the truth is I
prefer to work with a posse.” One coffee.
The Marines allowed singing Lance Cpl. Gracin to delay his deployment to Kuwait until after he appears on "American Idol."
This is a brief article on the famous Mossad. Worth a read, linger over some of the details offered; although keep in mind that Mossad is not the only intelligence agency the Israelis have. Some argue that their military intelligence is even better. Two coffees.
George Will explains the kind of diversity the University of Michigan should be in favor of: Diversity of thought. This means there ought to be preferential treatment in admission for conservative students. He has a test the university could give to incoming students. Amusing.
Martin Indyk and Kenneth Pollack explain how Bush can avoid the inspection trap. Good article. Both were in the Clinton administration. One coffee.
I missed this op-ed by Bill Safire on the German (and French) shenanigans (see "New Europe vs. Old" below). Safire understands both their perfidy and their imprudence. The smaller nations of Europe (old and new) are not amused by this power play. A side note: When I was roving around Bulgaria in the early 90s I noticed only German and Japanese businessmen trying to get work in the newly freed country. I was surprised that the Japanese were already there and were being well received. I enquired. I was told that the Bulgarians would much rather not work with the Germans because they were afraid that their power would reassert itself very quickly. Hard to trust those guys if you know anything about the history of the 20th century, I was told. I found the same sentiment in the other newly-freed countries. They were, however, very keen on having the Americans come in as soon as possible. The tension between the old and new Europe was already evident, as well as the need for an American presence.
The Boston Globe summarizes a study published in Lancet (site not available, unknown reason), the medical journal, on the effects that one parent families have on children. Surprise, its not good for them. The study is especially significant because it tracked almost a million children for a decade, into their twenties; the largest such study ever done, it comes out of Sweden.
This Washington Post reports that a deal has been struck between the TV networks and Mitofski International and Edison Media Research to replace the old Voting News Service for exit poll data. The deal is worth about $10 million through 2004.
A new poll in Germany shows that support for the SDP has dropped to 25 percent, the lowest figure in 26 years the poll has been conducted. Gosh, I really feel bad for the chancellor (and his foreign minister), dont you?
Just as I predicted over a month ago, the new members of NATO from what used to be called Eastern Europe (perhaps now we should call them the "new Europe," and let the French and Germans speak for the "old Europe) are much more supportive of the US than Western Europe. This will continue to have interesting repercussions. It will make the EU less important (and probably end up making even NATO as a unit less important) and will make bi-lateral relationships ever more important (whether it’s with Spain or Slovenia or Poland or Russia). It’s clear that it is the old Europe that thinks that calling Bush a "cowboy" is a term of disapprobation. See this front page story in The New York Times from yesterday called, "To Some in Europe, the Major Problem is Bush the Cowboy." It is worth reading because the point is so obvious: the French and the others in "old Europe" are trying to take this opportunity to point to everything about America they don’t like; we see things in black and white, we are too blunt, too impatient, too confrontational, too religious, and once Bush makes up his mind, well, you know he made up his mind, and is willing to act. These are bad cowboy-like things!! Bill Clinton, on the other hand, was fun to work with, say the old men of Europe. I find all of this fun. I am very happy about these developments because they are very revealing. They reveal more about Old Europe than it does about us. They disliked Reagan for the same reason and they acted accordingly (remember the missile deployments?); they lost. They think they can get away with it now because the Cold War is over and they think we are less necessary to them. They are missing much in all this, including the great relations we are having with Russia and what this means for them gaopolitically; how and why the Old Europes economy is faltering and what all this will--in the end--have to do with the War on Terror and the bi-lateral relations it will demand. By making themselves irrelevant, they are also making the UN irrelevant, their last place of power (and of what little authority they have left). The UN, like the un-cowboy mode of Old Europe, is outdated, and soon will be a relic. Jonah Goldberg and Diana West have some fun with this, and Kristol and Kagan thank France. And Krauthammer nails it, and
explains why our sometime-friends will return to the fold when it is their interest to do so; that is, after we do the work, they will want the spoils.
The New York Times ran this profile of Gary Hart yesterday. Worth a quick read; Hart claims to have invented the Iowa caucuses in an interview.
Bill Keller in The New York Times Magazine argues that Bush is much closer to Reagan than to his father, both in his conservatism and also because both were (and are) "misunderestimated." Bush has "the relentless discipline of a president who consistently defies the expectations of people who think they are smarter than he is." The emphasis on his character and his bold "vision" is what makes this a must read. Keller seems to understand that Bush is a tough guy with an instinct for doing big things and, as with Reagan, Bush is "more than the sum of his advisors and constituencies." Lengthy, three coffee read.
This is Ryan Lizzas analysis (from The New Republic) of the six Demos in front of the NARAL Pro-choice America meeting last week. Each had the opportunity to have a "Sister Souljah moment", and none took it. Lizza uses this as an opportunity to evaluate the campaigns of the six. Thoughtful.
Although I look forward to watching it, I have no prediction on the game. I do note that Americans will bet more money on this game (about 5 billion) than the gross domestic product of Honduras! And here is a site that explains the physics of football. And this reminds us of the all-time greatest super bowl ads.
Dennis Praeger has a nice piece on this question, from the Jewish World Review.
The following comments of Sen. Hillary Clinton speak for themselves, but Ill add my two cents for good measure:
Regarding Bushs support for a guarantee of state college admission to the top 10% of students from every Texas high school, Clinton replied,
“In order for that to work you have to have totally segregated schools.”Translation: Black Americans cannot excel in integrated schools.
Quoting from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Clinton said:
“Yes, we want to be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin. But what makes up character? If we don’t take race as part of our character, then we are kidding ourselves.”Translation: Your skin color contributes to your morals and virtue.
Time for black Americans to find an alternative voice for their political concerns, esp. when it comes to education. And let them begin with that great American, Frederick Douglass, who scorned race pride:
"The whole assumption of race pride is ridiculous. Let us have done with complexional superiorities and inferiorities, complexional pride or shame. I want no better basis for my activities and affinities than the broad foundation laid by the Bible itself, that God has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the face of the earth."
Let’s see, what’s going on here. I am getting three impressions: First, the French and the Germans have asserted themselves against a war on Iraq and they seemed to have done so together, after talking it through. Further, this was a surprise, and I am betting that not only the President but Colin Powell were angered by this little conspiracy. Hence Powell’s hard attitude now gets harder; he is telling aides that he will accept military action even without a Security Council resolution. They must have lied to him, and their actions have backfired. Second, France and Germany know this and they are starting to react to little things that shouldn’t really bother them if they are really in the poker game. So they show irritation at Rumsfeld’s comment about "old Europe." This is an overreaction on their part. Sensitive (once big, now little) countries, are they not? The French-German attempt to influence world opinion, in the end, will have failed. They have no authority; in part because of their histories and also because they have a lot money/contracts tied up in Iraq: they are playing the most self-interested game of all. Third, the high diplomacy that is taking place, and not only in the UN, is going to fall together for the US. So announcements are being made about how Australia , etc., are helping and will do so even if there is no new UN resolution. And Condi Rice has a good article on Iraq in today’s New York Times that is part of our efforts at public persuasion. She says Iraq "is failing in a spectacular fashion."
But, in the end, Bush is holding the ace-in-the-hole because he will have a national and international audience in his State of the Union talk and that will be powerful and authoritative. While it is true that that speech will be effected by the Blix report to the Security Council, yet there is no reason to think that he will not condemn Iraq for violating the Security Council resolution. In the meantime, Saddam blusters, but that he is worried is shown by what’s going on internally, and because the other Arab countries are willing to do almost anything to avoid a war, (including getting rid of Saddam) although what they are saying publicly is that he ought to move towards assuming his responsibility for peace in the region. We are soon going to see who is holding the cards, and those that have already shown their hand, will fold. We have all played poker, but for lower stakes.
Here is a BBC report (thanks to Pejman) on the first play of the Poet to be performed in Iran in 25 years, The Winter’s Tale. Good sign, I presume. Note that it was performed in English, with a Farsi translation on a screen. Has Shakespeare not been translated into Farsi? Most of the packed audience were students, I bet many were the children of the regimes functionaries, maybe even a "Nest of traitors!"
Christopher Caldwell writes that the Bush administrations brief to the Supreme Court on the Michigan case makes a strong case for affirmative action:
"The Bush memos are the most important substantive defense of
affirmative action ever issued by a sitting president. If the Court accepts
the president’s reasoning, it will have rescued affirmative action from
what appeared to be a terminal constitutional illogic. More than that–it will
have secured for this rickety program an indefinite constitutional
Peter and others blogs have linked to Michael Kellys spendid vivisection of the so-called "anti-war" march last weekend. I thought, since it is the centennial of George Orwells birth, that it would be worthwhile to recall some of Orwells observations about supposed pacifists and anti-British sentiment in Britain during World War II. (This year is the centennial of Orwells birth, and I have made it a winter reading project to read his collected works, which I picked up used several years ago.)
This, from The Lion and the Unicorn in 1941, which sounds very much like a description of the American Left today:
"In intention, at any rate, the English intelligentsia are Europeanized. They take their cookery from Paris and their opinions form Moscow. In the general patriotism of the country they form a sort of island of dissident thought. England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionable true, that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during God Save the King that stealing from a poor box."
Stay tuned; Ill have further excerpts as the days and weeks go by.
Fouad Ajami writes this lengthy piece in the Jan/Feb issue of Foreign Affairs. The prose is clear about a complicated subject. Very enlightening and thoughtful. Although it shows the amazing complications involved in our policy, the possible and probable effects of our policy toward Iraq (and therefore the region), it also argues that we said we would do must be done and much good is likely to come from it. Long. Four Turkish coffees.
There are an overwhelming number of reports (especially on what passes for television news) stating that it is absolutely necessary to continue the inspections in Iraq for many more months, that there is no smoking gun, that our allies are deserting us, that even Tony Blair is waffling, that there is a real anti-war movement in the US, that Bush’s poll numbers are dropping. In the meantime reports say that Bush continues to be "icreasingly bellicose", that he is now out on a limb, and our policy (and his presidency) is at stake. It goes on; you get the point. Let me just make an assertion here: It is the United Nations and its credibility that is at stake. Bush warned the UN not to become irrelevant. His first step in the process of trying to save the UN worked, I see no reason why the second step shouldn’t. The UN must go along with Bush on Iraq or it really will become irrelevant. Only the short sighted do not see this. This is the real issue. Does anyone think that the Saddam’s tyranny will last into the summer? Bush’s state of he Union talk should be the turning point in all this, and very few in the establishment media think that he can pull it off. I respectfully disagree. So far, he pulled it off at every turn and these self-same folks doubted that he would; they have misunderestimated him. Even the public press reports prove that Iraq has violated UN Security Council resolution 1441. If the UN doesn’t give it’s blessing to US action, it will become irrelevant. I tell you that if I were a UN leader I would not like the wrath of Bush to come down on me. And it will, right after Iraq falls without the UN’s blessing, even if it is without a war. It would be the beginning of the end for the UN. All of this will be clear by mid-February.
I wonder if this could be the start of something? A county commissioner in Ohio (Auglaize County) has switched parties because Nancy Pelosi was elected Minority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives. This proved to John Bergman that the Demos are no longer the party of inclusion, they are forgetting about moderate and conservative Demos. So he became a Republican. One county at a time.
Michael Kelly not only nails down who the so-called peace activists were on the weekend, and chastizes the press for their incomplete coverage, but has some thoughtful paragraphs on the contemporary left. Here is the money quote:
"The left has hardened itself around the core value of a
furious, permanent, reactionary opposition to the devil-state America, which
stands as the paramount evil of the world and the paramount threat to the
world, and whose aims must be thwarted even at the cost of supporting fascists
Here is Doug Kmiecs piece supporting the administrations stance on the Michigan case.
Now that we have the Al Sharpton announcement behind us we should be prepared to look at the next potential candidate, Gary Hart. Here is the WaPo report on his speech, billed as a major foreign policy address. Here is the full speech, from Harts website. The Scrum has a few useful paragraphs on Hart and how he is going about becoming a candidate, including some useful links.
This short story from yesterdays USA Today
notes that--Rep. Charles Rangel to the contrary notwithstanding--the front-line troops in todays military are disproprtionately white.
The fact that Al Sharpton is running for the Democratic presidential nomination shows that even he believes Jesse Jackson to be irrelevant. (Good to see the Democrats will have their own problems to deal with in a Sharpton run for president.)
Now Mickey Kaus maintains that Hillary just might be interested in the 2004 race (rather than waiting for 2008), and there are signs of this given "the aggressive,
heavily spin doctored remodeling campaign underway to
transform her image NOW as a hard-core lefty with a mean
streak to a softer, smiling moderate conciliator who can
bridge the ideological gap to GET THINGS DONE."
This is the latest, and one of the oddest, addition to our arsenal: A very fast catamaran capable of doing almost 50 MPH and carrying 300 soldiers. It is about to be deployed. Jonah Goldberg brought it to my attention. Glad to see hes involving himself in some serious matters!
Lucas Morel has some fine thoughts on the Michigan case now in front of the Supremes. He claims that with "strict scrutiny" as the standard, the decision is likely to turn on the meaning of racial diversity. A must read. And Jonah Goldberg has some thoughts on quotas and diversity, as does Ward Connerly.
This is kind of cool, even for a non-techno guy like me. A pretty clear explanation of how the Apache helicopters work, what they are capable of, etc. Flying tanks, is what some folks call them.
I see that the Chronicle of Higher Education has published an article entitled "Bush Administration’s Position in Michigan Cases Sets High Bar for Use of
Race in Admissions." I immediately thought, "Well, yes; and that bar is the U.S. Constitution."
Of course, Bush did not go as far we would like, especially given his support for racial diversity as an "important goal" last Thursday and in the legal briefs on Grutter and Gratz. Nevertheless, one hopes it is a step in the right direction.
USA Today reports that there are over 100 good guys (SOF and CIA) tracking Saddam inside Iraq and are ready to kill him, if and when necessary. There is some interesting stuff in this short story; I don’t really doubt that most of it is true, yet, I wonder what the point is in publicizing it. And the BBC has this cautionary note to those who think there is any real chance that Saddam may step aside and spend the rest of his life on the beach somewhere: Just before the Gulf War in 1991 there was a similar flurry of activity/hope that he would go into exile. It didn’t happen. Yet I still think it is possible that he might do it, especially if some of his own people want to save their skins and either persuade him (unlikely), force him (more probable), or, of course, they could simply kill him (most probable). In the meantime one quarter of the British Army is being sent to the Gulf, according to the BBC.
This is a touching story from the BBC. The last widow of a Union soldier died in Tennessee. Gertrude Janeway was 93 years old. She married her veteran husband, John, in 1927 when she was 18 and he was 81. There is a widow of a Confederate soldier still alive, in Alabama.
In case there is any doubt in your mind that Hillary is serious about running in 2008 (or possibly being on the ticket for VP in 2004), please note the various interesting references to her Senate career in these two articles, one from the White Plains Journal News and the other from Newsday. Also note that she is now on the Armed Services Committee.
This is from yesterday’s London Times and is typical Andrew Sullivan; almost perfect. Things to keep in mind when thinking of these-so-called-anti-war demonstrations. A good paragraph:
"Of course, most anti-Americanism today doesn’t deal with this complex reality. It deals with the fact of American
hyper-power, and its impact on the broader world. In this sense, it’s a new form of anti-Americanism. It’s
anti-Americanism without the counter-balance of fearing the Soviet Union. And it’s anti-Americanism without the
positive element of twentieth-century faith in socialism or Marxism. This makes it in some ways a purer
anti-Americanism, one that simply hates American power, rather than one that posits any credible alternative. And
it’s made far worse by the relative growth of exactly that power. The post-Cold War 1990s, after all, saw
economic stagnation and rapid disarmament in much of Europe, combined with a massive boom and military
investment in the U.S. What was once dominance has become de facto hegemony. So anti-Americanism now
looms in the world’s psyche without any of its erstwhile anchors. It isn’t tempered by fear of a rival super-power;
it isn’t fortified by a vital economic or political alternative. And when American power is actually deployed, this
free-floating animosity mutates into a kind of hatred."
I just noticed that Balint Vazsonyi passed away last week. He was not only a concert pianist, but a lover of America. I met him only once. It was in Washington about four years ago, and Lee Edwards introduced me to him. I hadnt heard of him until then. Lee explained that Mr. Vazsonyi was a great lover of the country and had established an organization to promote the principles of the American Founding. Mr. Vazsonyi, of course, did not know I was also born in Hungary or what what my work was. In his irrepressibly Hungarian way he started lecturing me about the nobility of the Founding and implied that he was the only person in the world who understood these things, and how it was his duty to teach the natives. Well, this was an opportunity I couldnt resist! So, as Lee Edwards the gentleman looked on in utter panic, I proceeded to tell Mr. Vazsonyi that I was sick and tired of all manner of foreigners coming to my country and telling us how to think about ourselves. I stayed with this theme for more than a few minutes, but, of course Vazsonyi, being-Hungarian-and-all, just kept rhapsodizing about the Founding with pretty good arguments and scholarship as if all he had to do was keep talking to persuade another ill-educated native about his own country. Well, Lee was standing there ill at ease through all this, so finally I let the cat out of the bag and told the great pianist (in Hungarian) that we were both Americans born in the wrong place and I understood what he understood and he could stop browbeating me now. And he did. And Lee was able to take a breath; the joke worked. May this American Rest in Peace.
OxBlog (see Saturday) reports the world-wide anti-war protest numbers and decides that they amounted to much less than the 100,000 protesting in Caracas (plus 50,000 supporting them in Miami) against Chavez and his tyranny. OxBlog asks: Which protests made the NYTimes and WaPo headlines? To no ones surprise it was not the protests in Venezuela. But, hey, Im not complaining. I think it was kind of fun seeing Ramsay Clark, folks from the World Wokers Party, and various actors whose names I can never remember. Just like the good old days (or not). I hope they feel better about themselves. The rest of us can still feel pretty good about the country.
Has anyone noticed how naturally President Bush jump-started the "national dialogue on race," a project Clinton could only manage to contrive with a stacked blue-ribbon commission and "townhall" gabfests?
To be sure, the media is trying to keep the Lott debacle alive by tacking on a reference to him in any discussion of the GOP and race; nevertheless, when an elected official treats a matter seriously, especially a controversial one like affirmative action, it is cheering to see that the country is astir with arguments on both sides of the issue. You would think the briefs submitted by the current executive branch were actually dispositive on this question, given the great heat and occasional light now emitted over the subject.
Heres my tag line for any Supreme Court justice interested in a nice closer for their court opinion:
"Under our Constitution, race should not be the measure of any individuals rights."
By the way, is Alts computer broken or something?
Well, its in the Washington Post this morning: Colin Powell disagrees with President Bushs position on the Michigan quota cases. Not that we couldnt have guessed.
Harry V.Jaffa is right in principle in beating up on Bush for saying that he is for diversity (which, Jaffa reminds us, really means quotas to the bad guys) in a regime that stands for e pluribus unum. Now to translate that into political practice under these corrupt circumstances; we turn to someone with phronesis. Very good, tarry over the one coffee.
There are some interesting facts (or surmises) being pieced together resulting (in part) from the recent arrests of terrorists in London who had the poison ricin. It is now thought that the Pankisi Gorge area of Georgia was (and still might be) the heart of the problem. The Georgians said they killed all these guys last year; well, its now clear that they didnt kill all of them (or any) but let them leave. Many have headed to Europe and are well trained and organized; affiliated with al-Qaeda or Ansar al-Islam.
This will get more interesting, and possibly more clear.
Black Hawk Up!
This is a clear explanation by Michael O’Hanlon (Brookings) of when the war is likely to start against Iraq, if there is to be one. The short of it is that Bush will have to make the decision to go to war within about the next two weeks if he wants to avoid fighting in the heat of the Iraqi summer. O’Hanlon says that forty days will be needed after the decision is made for the final pieces to be in place in order for the war to start. Good detail. One coffee.
A quick perusal of the federal govts amicus briefs against the University of Michigans affirmative action policies show that Bush, Ted Olson et al. are playing to win. Notwithstanding my beef that Bush conceded the "compelling state interest" argument by accepting racial diversity as an "important goal" (a point made in his Thursday remarks and reiterated in the _Grutter_ brief), IHMO Bush will win this case 5-4 by directing the Courts attention solely to the narrowly tailored prong of the strict scrutiny test.
In the _Grutter_ (law school) brief, Olson does this by splitting the tailoring prong into two components. As for the _Gratz_ (undergrad) brief, Lord have mercy on the University of Michigan when it becomes national news--if the Court follows the feds brief--that Michigan explicitly violated the _Bakke_ prohibition against quotas (i.e., seats set aside for racial minorities). As late as 1997 or 1998, twenty years after _Bakke_, the university used separate grids and tables (or cells or what have you) for minorities applicants! We all suspected many schools were doing this, but without getting hauled into court, U Michigan and many other colleges have been violating _Bakke_ with impunity.
These years (1995-1998) aside, Olson still goes after Michigan for policies in subsequent years that act as de facto quotas and that unnecessarily use race to achieve diversity when non-racial alternatives exist. Im not sure how this last argument will hold up, esp. given how recent the high school percentage plans used in California, Texas, and Florida have been in place.
Still, I think Bush wins this one. Im impressed. Im not satisfied that the Supremes still think they (and the rest of govt) can decide for themselves when race is bad and when race is good in govt actions. The question is, will a victory in this case help or hinder progress in reading the Constitution as color-blind?
Not for Senator from Illinois (she lost her seat in 1998) but for president in the Democratic primary. Notice Brazile’s delicate comments on all this. I think everyone is being too delicate, to the Demos disadvantage. But this really shouldn’t be surprising, given that no ill word has been spoken about Al Sharpton who has no right to run, whereas Moseley-Braun just shouldn’t.
Krauthammer hits the Bush Administration hard on its policy (or seeming lack of) toward North Korea. I am not yet willing to go this far because I am willing to A) see the amazing complications of this issue, and B) have enough trust in our guys to give them the benefit of the doubt, for now. But Im paying attention.
Lets be perfectly clear about this discovery. This is a violation of the UN resolution. Saddam lied. Und das ist alles! Its over. The rest are technicalities, when to overthrow him and how to overthrow him. I am guessing that the low-keyed responses from the Admininstration are acts of diplomacy at this point, no one is getting too excited because they know they have won. Furthermore, there will be more revelations, almost certainly. I will also be interested in seeing what will come of those searches of the scientists private residences and the conversations with them. So, things are lining up more or less as planned. This still doesnt mean that there will be a war (as that is ordinarily understood, anyway); there may be a coup or he may leave. Its just a matter of counting days and weeks.
This is a speech Fallaci gave last October at the American Enterprise Institute. It is a summary of her book, The Rage and the Pride. Short, one coffee.
Henry Sokolski has a perfectly rational piece in the new issue of The Weekly Standard on why North Korea cannot be trusted and how to go about dealing with them.
This Washington Post newstory states that Condi Rice spoke with the President a number of times, at length, about her opposition to racial quotas. The fact that she was Provost at Stanford, no doubt, was useful for her arguament. More will come out on this but for now I am for one grateful that she stepped into the domestic issues realm when she could have stayed out of it by practicing low level "prudence."
Good story in the Washington Post today about the influence of Condoleeza Rice on Bush’s decision to oppose the Michigan racial preferences policy. It tells us two things: Bush listened to Rice, and not Powell, about the issue. Rice, unlike Powell, has first-hand academic experience, having been provost of Stanford, and has seen close-up how corrupt is the regime of racial preferences. (Full disclosure, as they say: Rice was my wife’s academic adviser at Stanford in the early 1980s; they arrived at Stanford the same year.)
Jeff Jacoby writes in the Boston Globe about Sharptons "ugly record" as a "vicious liar" and a "dangerous bigot" and contrasts it with the kind of reception he is getting from (Democratic) politicians. Interesting that no Democrat denounces him; compare this to the Lott issue.
This is from Time . It is a variation of the same theme that keeps coming up; how to remove Saddam peacefully from power for the sake of stability in the region, fear of war, etc.
"They are trying to stage manage the removal of Saddam,"
says a Western diplomat. "The level of Arab anxiety about the war is sky high." Worth a quick read.
An anti-war group has created a copy-cat version of the notorious ad that the LBJ campaign used against Goldwater in 1964 (the ad only ran once). The ad--showing a little girl picking daisies in a field, followed by a nuclear cloud--will be shown in media outlets starting today. Its purpose is to "let the inspections work." It is clear that the real purpose of the ad is to get media attention for the ad and for the anti-war campaign; no doubt it will succeed in doing that. I bet it will be on every news program in every outlet for the next two days. I guess all that publicity is worth the $400,00 they say it cost. The organization that is running the ad was created in 1998 to lobby against the impeachment of Clinton. Sometimes Im too angry to comment.
This MSNBC story makes brutally that North Korea is a tyranny. It only differs from the regimes run by Stalin, Mao, and Hitler in size, not in principle and not in what it does to human beings. "Power into will, will into appetite,/ And appetite, an universal wolf." Dont read it if your faint-hearted.
Michael Barone has an interesting meditation on how war fighting has changed; he compares the Gulf War (never mind WW II) with how we are likely to fight Iraq only twelve years later. Interesting and true, but, keeping in mind David Tucker’s piece, it is incomplete. You might also want to read Mac Owens on "the two major theatre war" force planning metric.
George Will has a lovely column on Loman, Babbitt, and Schmidt (the movie) and how the haunting sense of regret about time wasted is a timeless theme of literature. Read it and do something interesting. I have a political parties class this morning.
Here is his speech on the University of Michigan affirmative action case.
This is a thoughtful piece by David Tucker on how to understand the use of America’s Special Operations Forces (SOF). You know these guys: they live with the people they need to know, they ride horses and call in precise bombs using cool techno-gizmos. They are all steely eyed, bearded, native-looking guys who get more calm and confident as the pressure increases. In short, they’re not your typical sociology professor. Tucker has a serious point for us (and Rumsfeld): In this kind of warfare it is much more difficult to find the enemy than it is to kill him; the opposite is true in conventional warfare. The problem now is not a firepower problem, it is an intelligence problem. Tucker suspects that the folks at Defense don’t quite see this as clearly as they should (witness the order to SOF’s to be clean shaven and to dress in regular uniforms!). Hence they are hindering the real work of the SOF’s. A must read.
OK, if you have nothing better to do this may amuse you. The Social Security Administration (no, Im not looking into retirement!) has a site on baby names. It looks a little complicated at first, but it turns out not to be. For example, glance at the male names from 1960 to 1997 and you will discover that Michael continued its popularity. Not only amusing, but I bet some of you can make something political out of it all. For example, by the 1980s "Justin" starts appearing, and in the 1990s "Tyler" appears. Im afraid to look at the female names. I am sure that at some point they all become "Taylor," "Tiffany," and "Brittany."
You may remember a few weeks back Rumsfeld made a reference to this photo of the world at night (its about two years old). The amazing thing about it is that if you look at Japan (many lights) and go a bit over North-West you will see the Korean penninsula and note that South Korea is well lighted and North Korea is dark, dark beneath its yoke, darker than Bangladesh. Worth a look.
One of the 177 people Clinton pardoned in his last days (and the one who payed Hugh Rodham, Hillarys brother, $200,000) has been nabbed for dodging circa $20 million in taxes.
The fact that Bush and Blair have scheduled a meeting for January 31st (at Camp David) indicates that the threat of action will be taken seriously at about the assumed time. Of course, it still might be argued that the threat of the war will make some (surprising) things happen without war. The meeting is scheduled for three days after the Presidents State of the Union talk and four days after the Security Council meeting with the weapons inspectors. In short, crunch time.
"Republican Haley Barbour has sent potential donors a letter confirming he will
run for Mississippi governor this year," according to the Clarion-Ledger. His formal announcement will come later.
Im teaching a Shakespeare seminar this semester ("Shakespeare and Rome") and last night was the first class; we are reading the three Roman plays. Began with the last few lines of the Symposium and then right into Coriolanus; bracing, austere, hard stuff, no pleasantries, nothing but turmoil and war, civil and foreign. "Get you home, you fragments." I love that line. Anyway, I caught this nice essay on Macbeth by Theodore Dalrymple, "Why Shakespeare is For All Time" in the City Journal that is a three coffee read. "I think nothing equals Macbeth," Lincoln wrote in 1863. I am reminded of Lincoln reading from Macbeth on the boat after he visited the fallen Richmond in 1865. "Duncan is in his grave,/ After lifes fitful fever he sleeps well./ Treason has done its worst. Nor steel, nor poison,/ Malice Domestic, foreign levy, nothing,/ Can touch him further."
You can feel that things are coming down to the wire. Deadlines are approaching, actions are about to be taken that will be consequential. It is complicated, but the trick in this high stakes poker game is to look in the right place. Dont, for example, look to CNN reports on what is going on in the UN, on who is saying what to whom, whos going wobbly, etc. Look to Saddam, Bush, and Blair; and theyre still holding their original hands. No one is folding. Yet. This Michael Kelly column is pretty good. And then there is this report on the Arab plan to exile Saddam. He has sent a senior aide to Cairo to discuss "personal issues." The end of the game is in sight.
USA Today notes that Bush has just signed a special order releasing about 450 million dollars to help Russia secure or eliminate weapons of mass destruction.
This is a very interesting study from the Manhattan Institute (done by Greene and Forster) showing that when school choice is in operation (San Antonio, Milwaukee) even public schools get better; competition helps. Worth at least three coffees.
The Scrum has a few interesting paragraphs on the possibility that a fellow named Donnie Kennedy, the author of The South Was Right, is going to take Bush on in primaries in the South. Kind of interesting (and irritating) and although nothing will come of it I kind of hope something might come of it. It would be mildly amusing (and irritating), but to Bushs advantage.
This is (via Instapundit) an article about North Korea worth reading, "Why we Wont Invade North Korea." I dont know the author.
Here are two pieces (Dionne, Saletan) on what the Lieberman candidacy and the way he is going about it may mean to both the Democratic Party (and the possibility of him being nominated). Naomi Emery is more generally on the Demo Partys cartoonish characterization of the GOP, which Lieberman may not fall into. I am thinking that Lieberman has a much better chance than people give him credit for, and in any case, it will be interesting to watch how his cultural conservatism will play out in the Demo primary contests.
Jack Pitney reviews Earl Blacks The Rise of Southern Republicans in the current issue of Reason. Its short.
I thought that would get your attention. The Georgia Supreme Court struck down a law prohibiting fornication as a violation of the Georgia Constitutions right to privacy. The case was brought by a sixteen-year-old caught in flagrante delicto with his sixteen-year-old girlfriend in her parents house. The court found that because 16-year-olds are old enough to consent to sex under Georgia law, the fact that they were minors did not change the analysis. That said, the court did clarify that "[n]othing in this opinion should be read to address the [girls] parents rights to regulate what occurs in their home . . . ." The opinion is available online here.
Normally Schramm and I manage to stagger the times when we are without internet, but this past week it hit us both at the same time. I was moving, and did not get my internet hooked up till over the weekend. For good or for ill, I should be back on the blog this week.
My commentary on the farcical Lomborg inquisition is now up on the AEI website here.
I have been away for a few days and the hotel had a horrible connection, so I couldnt blog. Besides, the conference that I was attending was just interesting enough to keep me busy all day and most of the evening (that includes a small seminar with the Spaldings, Ralph Hancock, and Robert Koons on the destructive nature of beauty, over adult drinks--I recommend Knob Creek bourbon). I was at a conference at Princeton sponsored by the James Madison Program. There were many good speakers and fine colleagues from around the country. (Although I had to sit through another interminable talk by Larry Arnn; why cant he remember that men of few words are the best men?) Yet I am glad we went. But I should tell you that once Roger and I rolled through Palmer Square on our way to the hotel (J. Crew shop, leather boutiques, French restaurants, etc.) I regretted very much that I wasnt in my blue jeans and on my motorcycle! The place is sort of rich and gaudy but kind of understated, you know what I mean? On our way out of town the last thing we saw on the Square was a well dressed ("fashions own knight" as the Poet might say) professor-like man walking two perfectly groomed (large) cocoa colored French poodles. In the beginning was the end. So, for you Eastern intellectuals I found this site that explains the game of pool through physics (or vice versa). Be amused. Ill blog starting Tuesday.
On Wednesday, something called the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty, a government-linked body that sounds full-blown from the pages of Orwell, ruled that Bjorn Lombrogs book The Skeptical Environmentalist constitutes "scientific dishonesty." Lomborg, you may recall, took on the doom-and-gloom environmentalists in his book, and of course has been denounced for it.
This is a total crock. The Danish report doesnt begin to establish anything; reading it makes clear that Lomborgs crime is being environmentally incorrect. (You can read this tripe here if you can stand it.)
The Economist, which was early to the Lomborg story back in 2001, has a scathing editorial (here) rightly calling the Danish report "shameful."
Ill have my own blistering commentary and full analysis coming out from AEI probably on Monday. Ill pass along the link, or watch www.aei.org.
It appears that Bill Allen, our great teacher and friend, has borrowed back his Civil Rights Commissioner cap to present the lesson of the hour for the Republican Party. In his Ashbrook Center essay, "Why Race Atheism Fails," Bill, as usual, hits his target with profound and provocative verve.
I’ll note just a few highlights, but be sure and read it for yourself. Let me add that if you haven’t discovered Bill Allen’s website at Michigan State University, do so.
His website contains a plethora of speeches and articles from the past decade or two. Quite a gold mine. One teaser: check out the interview of him and Clarence Thomas when they were heading up their respective federal agencies dealing with race in America.
Re: "race atheism," I’ll let Bill Allen define that term for you. Suffice it to say, he does not believe that the spectre of race haunts America because of Democratic sins of commission (e.g., the rhetoric of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, or the notorious NAACP ad associating James Byrd’s lynching with George Bush). Rather, Republican sins of omission are to blame. The GOP can no longer pretend that race is not an issue in America by simply ignoring the racial demagoguery of the Jesse Jacksons of the world.
His solution? Have President Bush say it loud and say it proud, "I am a Black Republican, and my Party is the Party of Black Republicans." Practically, this would entail "an aggressive strategy" of recruiting black Americans for positions of high profile and high responsibility (a process begun with Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, and which Bill Allen traces back to Reagan’s presidency).
In this way, Bush and the Party he leads would invite blacks--perhaps for the first time in American history--to assume their full and rightful place at the American table. This is no sham diversity mandate, no attempt to make the party or the nation’s government merely "look like America." (Witness J.C. Watts’s departure from Congress along these lines.) Rather, it is an invitation to black Americans to fulfill their "claim to full citizenship" by "being ready and willing to contribute to the country’s salvation."
Bill closes his stirring essay by observing that bloc voting by blacks in the last presidential election "reached its apogee," and hence the limits of its detriment to the GOP. But unless black Americans want to go the way of the Jewish American vote, which is solidly Democratic but negligible in its impact on national policy, they should consider which party offers them a genuine opportunity to contribute to the land of their birth--and therewith receive the full blessings of its prosperity. Rest content with the paternalistic handouts of an affirmative action regime they have only recently believed to be their political hope, or step up to real participation as full citizens of America? Polls from the mditerm election already show a waning of Democratic identification by blacks; they may now recognize how little influence they wield within, and how little respect they truly receive from, the Democratic Party.
Frederick Douglass once wrote, "The Republican Party is the ship; all else the sea." This slogan was cited long after Douglass passed this earth. May Black Republicans of all colors see the wisdom in it.
This is an interesting piece of news and I know nothing but what is in the story; it is certainly not good news for the Democratic Party that is interested in re-taking the Senate in 2004.
The Fourth Circuit reversed a decision of a Virginia district court which would have required the government to turn over a copious material to establish that Yaser Esam Hamdi--an American citizen captured in Afghanistan with al Quaeda--is an enemy combatant, and therefore may be held in a military brig. The unanimous three-judge panel, which included Clinton appointee Judge Traxler, declared:
Because it is undisputed that Hamdi was captured in a zone of active combat in a foreign theater of conflict, we hold that the submitted declaration [of the Special Advisor to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy setting forth what the government contends were the circumstances of Hamdi’s capture] is a sufficient basis upon which to conclude that the Commander in Chief has constitutionally detained Hamdi pursuant to the war powers entrusted to him by the United States Constitution.
Thanks as always to Howard Bashman’s How Appealing Blog for covering the opinion before any of the major news outlets. You can access the full opinion, which is worth a read if only for its sometimes colorful dicta, here.
This is quite an amazing article by a law prof at Indiana who, apparently, was on the law schools admission committee. It details the way their "affirmative action" procedures work, and have worked for a generation. I would like someone to defend this.
The Clonaid nuts have announced that a second clones baby was born, but have also said that no tests can be made to determine whether either the first or second are cloned. I still cant understand why anyone (not from Mars or Venus) would still want to cover these crazies. Now it is becoming more obvious that the whole thing is a hoax, according to this CNN report. Still, why there should have been two weeks of free international publicity for these nuts is beyond me.
At least in my opinion. Besides, fat people have a great sense of humor, theyre charming, and are old in judgement. Sure, fat people die too, but we notice it because we miss them. No offense meant to pencil necks, some of my best friends are such. For those of us who lard the lean earth as we walk along, I recommend this piece from The New Republic that reasonably considers these matters and comes out on the right side. Two coffee read.
The White House issued a press release yesterday announcing that it was renominating the slate of judges not acted upon or voted down in committee by the previous "Ralph Neas" Judiciary Committee. Showing the level of unbiased reporting that we have all grown to expect from the paper of record, the New York Times offers the following editorial headline for its "news" story about the nominations: "President Renominating Federal Judge Lott Backed." (The reference is to Judge Pickering, who was nominated to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and who was rejected in committee last term on a straight party-line vote.) One wonders how often the Times will be able to recycle this style of headline: "President Supports Tax Plan Lott Backed;" or "President Comes Out in Favor of Postal Subcommittee Appropriation Backed by Lott." Perhaps Senators will respond in kind. For example: "Senator X supports an education bill backed by the Times!" Just a thought.
Max is right. This is a real problem no matter what Don Rumsfeld is saying for public consumption.
Interestingly, it was the advocates of military "transformation" who pushed hard to have the Pentagon drop the 2MTW standard. For exanple, Elliott Cohen called the 2MTW metric a "strategy killer" because the services were using it to maintain their budget share and to protect their favored programs, rather than examine new new operational concepts and develop new capabilities. That criticism was correct. indeed, some were even calling it the 2MTW strategy. It was no such thing.
But the critics never came to grips with the fact that while capabilites-based force planning is a good idea, planners still have to answer the question, "how much is enough"?For those who might care about force planning methodlogy, I wrote a piece about this for Armed Forces Journal back in 2001.
If anyone is interested in nominating us for anything (best, hot wit, fast wit, untiring wit, etc.), dont hesitate. Go here.
Bruce Bartlett is one of the finest economists writing today. He has a real penchant for explaining difficult topics in a simple way. His latest bartlett on the presidents proposal to repeal "double taxation" of dividends is a case in point.
Although this article is too optimistic it is an example of some of the difficulties in trying to effect change in an oligarchy with absolutely no experience in either "democracy" or constitutionalism (and with a host of other problems as well; women treated as property, etc.). Still, its worth reading. Its from a recent issue of the Journal of Democracy and is by Jean-Francois Seznec.
Thomas Carothers has a lengthy piece in the current issue of Foreign Affairs entitled, "Promoting Democracy and Fighting Terror." It is, needless to say, an especially complicated subject now; it was complicated enough in the 1980’s from the Phillipines to Hungary when I was indirectly involved in such matters. Practical issues aside (which are very difficult) even theoretically it was vague. I was promoting natural rights via constitutionalism and almost everybody else was promoting majority rule. You see the problem. I remember having an especially interesting conversation with a bunch young PhD’s in Hungary; all well educated in Locke, Federalist Papers, etc., and yet they were arguing about what rights Hungarians had as Hungarians and once the people ruled there the first they should do is to go to war with Romania to assert the rights of Hungarians. Now that was a six-slivovitz conversation! The problem of what the right end is (i.e., what promoting "democracy" really means) is huge and even if that is rightly answered the practical problems remain: what to do when in particular circumstances. Carothers is trying to be even-handed and it is written in that relatively easy to read Foreign Affairs style. Three coffee read.
Max Boot considers Rumsfeld response to a question the other day about whether or not we can manage (and win) two different wars on two different fronts almost simultenuously. He said: "Were capable of winning decisively in one and swiftly defeating in the case of the
other. Let there be no
doubt about it." Boot thinks there is reason for doubt, and there are many things that are needed before the Secretary of Defense can be this absolute.
George Will does on admirable job of explaining what is good about the plan Bush announced yesterday. I like this paragraph:
"Todays stimulus package is psychotherapy for a nation that very recently
has become too fixated on the stock market. But the stock market and the
economy are not identical. Indeed they have diverged. The market slump has
been more severe than the recession, the mildest since 1945."
And Bill Buckley does a job on the Democratic folklore on taxes.
For what it’s worth, Timothy Noah in Slate argues that Daschle isn’t running because of his wife: she is a serious corporate lobbyist and she would have become an issue. And John Fund argues that with Daschle bowing out, Dick Gephardt becomes the Democratic front runner for the presidential nomination. And it is being reported that the GOP will nominate John Thune to run against Daschle for the Senate in 2004.
Since the talk now is that the U.S. must begin the war soon after January 27th, if there is to be a war, I thought this article is interesting. It is claiming that the Americans (and Brits) are prepared to fight at night, which means they could fight in the summer. In the meantime Rumsfeld has, once again, made reference in a press conference to war not being inevitable and that the best things that could happen is for Saddam to leave the country. Rumsfeld also has stated that Special Operations will be given a larger role in the terror war. And, more than 10,000 reservists have been warned to be prepared for active duty. And PM Tony Blair has asked the world to back the U.S. in its Iraq policy. And the French President made a favorable allusion (he was speaking in French!) to the U.S.’s Iraq policy and the possibility of war. In the meantime it is being reported that there is a "two layered defense" being set up around Baghdad. And last, but not least, a box of Cheerios takes aim at Saddam and is finally discarded.
I believe that the selection to have the convention in New York is significant for two reasons: First, it shows that Rove, et al, are tough guys and are set out to win the election by trying to take even New York with 31 electoral votes (in the City Demos outnumber Republicans almost five to one). Second, it will allow them to play up their strong response to the terrorist attack, highlight Gulliani, and allow for natural patriotism to show itself. Good call.
The WSJ reviews The People for the American Ways mass email entitled "The Approaching Armageddon on Judicial Nominations" here. Am I the only one who finds it ironic that a group which was founded in opposition to religious groups uses a Biblical allusion to describe their opposition to judicial nominees?
The New York Times today denounces Bushs plan to eliminate taxes on stock dividends as "The Charles Schwab Tax Cut," which is "the wrong move at the wrong time for the benefit of the wrong people." By the wrong people, I presume that the Times means retirees. Many middle income retirees rely upon dividends for their income. Reducing or eliminating the tax would therefore have a significant effect on those who were middle-income workers who invested for their own retirement. In an era where a substantial portion of America invests for retirement, it is time for the Times to drop the class-based progressive rhetoric which assumes that anyone who makes a dime on the stock market is named Rockefeller.
Richard Cohen has a thoughtful piece today on the Democrats problem with race. He begins by pointing out that Gore failed to denounce the Byrd dragging death ads run by the NAACP which all but accused Bush of racism for his opposition to hate crime legislation, despite the fact that 2 of the 3 men who committed this heinous crime were sentenced to death in Texas. Cohen rightly points out that Dems treat the race issue as if we are still talking about black-and-white issues like segregation, rather than about issues like affirmative action which has opponents who are not racists. Worth a read.
WaPo reports that Minority Leader Daschle will not be running for President in ’04. Daschle issued a statement in which he claimed: "After careful reflection, I’ve concluded that at this moment in our history, with so many important decisions to be made about our nation’s future, my passion lies here in the Senate serving the people of South Dakota, and fighting for working families all across America." Translation: after losing control of the Senate in what was something of a head-to-head match-up with the current President, and barely having enough political pull to keep Johnson in his seat in my own state, Daschle decided that the safer thing to do is to prepare for what will be a tough enough race to keep his own Senate seat.
The fourth unmanned spacecraft the Chinese have sent into orbit has returned to earth. Apprently all went well. It is thought that this was the last Chinese unmanned spacecraft that will go up and the next one will be manned with a "taikonaut" sometime later this year. That would make the Chinese only the third country, after Russia and the U.S., to have sent a man into space.
Just in case you havent glanced at Drudge yet, let me bring to your attention an interesting controversy that may be developing over David Frums book on Bush that is to be published on January 7th, this Tuesday. The book is entitled The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush. Frum was a speechwriter for about a year (including, apparently, the author of "the axis of evil" speech) and he will be the first to write an insiders view of the Bush White. Apparently, not everything he says is complementary, at least according to Drudge. For example, Frum says that Bush is rtaher "tart" than "sweet." Well, I hope thats true!
Some news copy in todays Sacramento Bee reads "muslin extremists."
Finally we get the truth about towelheads.
David Frum has a piece in todays New York Times worth reading. It reflects on both the extraordinary power that this President has within and on the Party, and how he is changing it. Because he dominates his party the way few modern presidents have (FDR, LBJ), this will prove relevant to my point made yesterday regarding the creation of a Republican majority and the possibility of realignment. I look foward to reading Frums soon to be published book,The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush.
I happened to see The Boy Wonder on ABC this morning interviewing presidential hopeful John Edwards, and Stephanopoulos asked him who his favorite philosopher was (a very original question). Edwards starting talking about his favorite politician (a former governor of North Carolina) and when asked again, he said he didn’t know. Then Stephanopoulos asked him what his favorite book was and Edwards said: "I.F. Stone’s The Trial of Socrates." It seems to me that there should have been a follow-up question.
Angelo Codevilla revised a previously published (in The Claremont Review of Books) attack on the Bush administration’s handling of the terror war and it now appears in The Middle East Quarterly. I think it a characteristic overstatement. Notice lines like these:
the "war on terrorism" is of a piece with the Gulf war, the Vietnam war, and the Korean war: America
kills lots of people whose deaths do not bring victory. This makes us hated. And America leaves enemy
regimes standing. This makes us contemptible.
Really! Actually we haven’t killed a lot of people (but have caught quite a few, and are getting good information from many) and we certainly would kill a lot more people if we were to take out all those regimes that he thinks ought to be taken out immediately. Also, it is arguably the case--contra Codevilla who claims that we have restrained Israel--that we have given the Israelis a virtually free hand to deal with those bad guys closest to them. Thanks to Power Line for bringing the article to my attention.
Walter Williams has a punchy-right-on-the-money column on the new racism. A few lines are worth quoting:
"The multiculturalist and diversity crowd see race as an
achievement. In my book, race might be an achievement,
worthy of considerable celebration, only if a person was born
white and through his effort and diligence became black.
For the multiculturalist/diversity crowd, culture, ideas,
customs, arts and skills are a matter of racial membership
where one has no more control over his culture than his race.
That’s a racist idea, but it’s politically correct racism. It says
that one’s convictions, character and values are not
determined by personal judgment and choices but genetically
determined. In other words, as yesteryear’s racists held: Race
This is an interesting story from the Boston Globe stating that there are about 150 special forces or CIA guys now operating in Iraq. And there are also British, Jordanian, and Australian commandoes participating. While this should surprise no one, it still makes for interesting reading. Similar articles have appeared from time to time for the last six months, but this feels a bit more concrete than those. Also note one guys comments:
"There are a
lot of computer salesmen passing through Baghdad now.
An essay in the latest issue of Commentary by Daniel Casse is a two coffee read. It is entitled "An Emerging Republican Majority?" Although Casses discussion is worth reading I think he doesnt really get the idea of a Republican majority (or realignment) right. He seems to argue that Bush has to stand closer to the center and garner bipartisan support for his policies and this will help make the GOP into the majority party. He also says that whether or not the GOP established a majority will depend on what the Demos will do. He thinks this in part because he sees the election results of last year to be "unexpected." I take issue with this, and think that the GOP victory was not unexpected and it had to do with presenting a real choice to the voters and thereby forcing the Democrats into addressing issues on Republican terms, unless they want to continue to lose elections. The Demos must be forced to recast themselves into a mold that looks more Republican; this is what happens in a true realigment, and, arguably, has been happening since the 1980s. (The less the Democrats become like the GOP, the more irrelevant they will become.) Clinton ran as a new Democrat in 1992 (once "liberal" became a term of dissaprobation) and was forced to at least appear to govern under the GOP created political universe; and then note both the GOP victory in 1994 and the Demos response to that. The minority party has to begin looking like the majority party, not vice versa. Steve Hayward argues that the 2002 election confirms that the election of 1994 was the biginning of a realignment. That the Demos are in denial over this is a good sign for the GOP; theyll become less relevant. I highly recommend his thoughtful piece. You might also want to see a talk I gave to the Ashland County Republicans in December of 1994. In this talk I tried to clarify the meaning of realignment and whether or not we were then in the middle of one, and/or what we must do in order to form such a realigning majority. Although there is nothing original in my talk (worth only one coffee), it being entirely derived from Lubell, Jaffa, Kesler, et al, it has the virtue of making clear what realignment means, I hope.
Back to reality from the Ohio State victory. At least nine U.S. soldiers have been wounded in a gun fight with terrorists in the Philippines. A rabbi has been stabbed in France by a man yelling "Allah Akbar." He escaped. There are food riots in Zimbabwe and the famine is caused by both drought and the arbitrary take over of white own farms, according to the news report. It amazes me how frequently bad weather visits tyrannies. A Florida journalist has been suspended for a week without pay because he made critical remarks (in a private e-mail) about Muslims. Mouse testicles have become a hot seller in Taiwan after five infertile couples said they conceived after eating dishes containing the organs. I hope the Estonians are listening. Violent crime is increasing in England. Note this: "The ban on handweapons above .22 calibre, which was
introduced in 1997 after the Dunblane primary school
shootings, forced many legitimate owners to surrender their
guns but did nothing to stop underworld supplies." Surprise.
Gephardt says he will seek the presidency because "Bush is leading the country either down the wrong path or not leading at all." The goofy Raelians are claiming that a second cloned baby was born to a lesbian woman in the Netherlands. The first claim they made last month has yet to be varified, yet the press continues to take them seriously.
And the man who invented the Spiro Agnew wrist watch died.
John and I watched the game, refused interruptions from faithless family members, and delighted in the whole thing. Great game . The natutral order of things has been reestablished. All is well in the world. Optimism and good humor will reign during the whole year. And Al Sharpton has announced that he will run for president because he is the most qualified.
The game is tonight at 8 p.m. The other team is good, very good. And the good guys arent given much of a chance by anyone who counts. Ohio State is to lose by at least seven points. Because I have already noted the great game against Michigan (and the only one that really counts) I do not have a lot to say on the national championship. I hope we win, and we still might. I know we will play well. Sometimes the heart can have an effect on the ability. Besides, Woody Hayes is watching it all and we should win it for his sake. Why we should win is made perfectly clear by a masterful and wonderful piece by Harry V. Jaffa on the great captain. Vivit post funera virtus.
Alt is both wrong and right. He is wrong about me: I have chosen not to run (I can’t remember exactly the way Coolidge put it). I can’t say "yes." But he is right about losing count of those who are running. Many have already said yes, and more will do so. It is indeed a very crowded Demo field, and let me add more to it. Don’t forget Al Sharpton. And it is rumored that Wesley Clark (former NATO chief, now twice-a-week CNN commentator) is interested and would publicly say so if it weren’t in his CNN contract not to; he doesn’t want to go against CNN because that is prime means of exposure to the American public and he needs it. Chances are he is also (along with Edwards) interested in becoming VP. The other who is thinking about it is Senator Bob Graham of Florida. That would put another Southerner in the race with some foreign policy/terrorism credentials. And there will be more. And it will be very interesting, I think. A lot of people are saying "yes." Which reminds me of the latest discoveries having to do with whether or not chimps can communicate, indeed, even talk. Here is a report about a talking chimp in Georgia who uses four words, one of which is "yes."
A scientist says:
"We haven’t taught him this. He’s
doing it all on his own."
"Kanzi’s ’word’ for yes stayed the same across a whole
range of emotions, suggesting that the noises were not
simply the result of differences in the chimp’s emotional
Dick Gephardt (D-MO) has announced that he will hold a kickoff event for his presidential exploratory committee later this month. Lets see, theres Kerry, and Dean, and Edwards, and Gephardt . . . and its only January. Next thing you know, Schramm will announce his candidacy . . . its only a matter of time.
There is yet another report--rather more explicit than ones I have noted in the past (see my post of December 30)--that many Arab leaders are pressing Saddam to step down and go into retirement, it is asserted that "there will be a land for him," somewhere. The Saudis would like an opportunity, when war is imminent, of persuading him to go into exile. This squares with the way President Bush has been talking about there being no necessity for war, war is only the last option, etc., despite the buildup. There is also an implication in all of this that if he didnt step down there would be a coup by the military which, no doubt, we have helped orchestrate. So why the very public buildup? Well, because war is possible and because the buildup makes the necessity of war less likely. Also, troops will be needed in the area should Saddam pack it in. Some interesting possibilities, clarification due by the end of the month, mid-February at the latest.
This is a transcript of the presidents press conference at the ranch (after the long walk with reporters). Much of his responses were reported on camera in the news cycle yesterday, but not the response below. It is about half way down in the text.
QUESTION: If we do have to go to war...
BUSH: With which country?
Howard Kurtz offers evidence today suggesting that Senator Edwards’s moment may have already come . . . and gone. Note in the extended quote below that the reporters are already reading his presidential bid as one for VP, which I predicted on the day of his announcement.
But the media, once so taken with Edwards, seem to have grown a bit tired of his fresh-faceness. After a spectacular run of favorable press – including People’s "sexiest politician" nod and Time calling him the party’s "golden boy" – the buzz on Edwards has not been great lately. Minutes into yesterday’s press availability, a reporter asked whether he’d be willing to accept the vice-presidential slot. (Already? On the day of his announcement? Don’t you have to tank in the polls before that question gets asked?)
I am glad to see these two articles ( Los Angeles Times and Pioneer Press (Mn) take up the issue of why the press (print, TV, everybody) even covered this claim of the Raelian religious cult (who claim to be given marching orders by space aliens!) to have cloned a baby. They gave no proof and got day and night frenzied coverage internationally. What has happened to journalistic judgment? Everybody knew these guys are off the wall, have a track record of weird opinions and actions and are known to be essentually nothing but fruitcake publicity hounds. Why cover it? I mean it wasn’t the Mayo Clinic making the announcement, after all. Now we are to wait a few more days before we are offered proof. And the coverage will continue....This really amazes me. These are the first artciles I have seen on this issue, and I am glad.
I noted a few weeks ago that Europe has the lowest fertility rate of any continent. Now the president of Estonia is encouraging its citizens to make more babies. Estonia has a population of 1.4 million and declining. I guess the president understands when The Poet says:
Herein Lies wisdom, beauty, increase;
Without this, folly, age and cold decay.
(Sonnet 11, 5-6)
I have been in Estonia a number of times, sometimes for weeks at a time (teaching civics to high school teachers) and I can tell you that Estonians are very nice people, albeit overly sober (although a third of them are Russians and theyre much less sober). It seems to me you have to have a sense of humor to have children, and if you have more than two, you are the cause of wit in other men.
Senator Frist was driving along in Florida, noticed an accident (a car rolled over; please note that it was an Isuzu Rodeo!) and got out to help, and help he did. It is amazing that something like this would happen to Frist just a few days before the new Senate meets. His opponents are going to have a tough time making him into an Iago-like figure (which they have been working on).
The New York Times seemed confused about what day it was yesterday. The front page carried a hilarious parody of a news story entitled, "Outflanked Democrats Wonder How to Catch Up in Media Wars." The story says liberals feel they dont have enough clout in the major media to "get their message out." Could it be April Fools Day and I missed three months of my life?
Among the comic gems of the story is this line: "In one of the more ambitious ideas circulating, a group of wealthy Democratic supporters is toying with the idea of starting a liberal cable network."
Uh, ever heard of CNN, not to mention ABC?
My guess is that this new comedy writing is Howell Raines idea to rescue the sinking reputation of the Times.
Now back to Augusta.
The New York Times has an interesting article today about internet in the classroom, and the challenge for professors in keeping their students attention. Having actually attended a law school that had internet connections in some classrooms, I have to say that it is a mixed blessing. While it does offer distractions, it also was invaluable for searching case law. I welcome comments on this question, particularly from any students who might be sitting in class and reading this blog.
Senator John Edwards (D-NC) announced on the Today Show that he is forming an exploratory committee to run for Democratic Nomination for President. He says that he wants to be a champion for "regular people" in the White House. Lets be honest: Edwards is a trial lawyer who used the misfortunes of regular people to make himself a multi-millionaire. Now he hopes that populist appeal of "regular people" will take him into the White House.
But Edwards isnt really aiming for the White House--at least not yet. Hes too green for such a leap. No, this is an opportunity to get his name out there, and to position himself as a possible VP candidate, which is the position he will really be gunning for this time around.
Lucas Morel reflects on an article by Stuart Taylor regarding whether or not blacks support affirmative action. (Link to Taylor from Morel). Morel argues that the real problem is
that eliminating affirmative action is tantamount to reversing
a palpable gain associated with the modern Civil Rights
Movement is the obstacle to true progress in bridging
Americas racial divide." And that this problem can only be overcome by some clear thinking and talking especially on the part of Bush administration. A good start in the post Lott political universe would be the filing of a legal brief with the Supreme Court against affirmative action as practiced by the University of Michigan. Stick to the question of justice and fairness (that is, real civil rights) and on this both blacks and whites can agree, and will agree. Both articles are well worth reading.
The understaffed Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals may finally be getting some new judges. The Toledo Blade reports this morning that appellate lawyer Jeff Sutton and Ohio Supreme Court Justice Deborah Cook are scheduled to have a hearing before the Judiciary Committee on January 14th. On a negative note, Chief Justice Moyer has convinced Cook not to take part in any cases which the Ohio Supreme Court is hearing in the next few weeks. While this might make sense if confirmation was assured and speedy, the procedure in the Senate is still somewhat uncertain, leaving open the possibility that Cook may not take her new bench for a number of weeks if not months. The list of possible replacements for Justice Cook includes William Batchelder, a court of appeals judge who served in the legislature with none other than John M. Ashbrook, for whom this web site is named.
This is Sean Matties (Hillsdale College) take on the movie "Gangs of New York." It is both a good and serious review and he uses the theme of the movie to reflect on the meaning of American citizenship. A one coffee read. I havent gotten around to seeing yet, hope to do it this weekend.