Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

George Orwell, Call Your Office

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 Lombrog’s 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 doesn’t begin to establish anything; reading it makes clear that Lomborg’s 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."

I’ll have my own blistering commentary and full analysis coming out from AEI probably on Monday. I’ll pass along the link, or watch

Bill Allen on the American Dilemma

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.

Zell Miller not Running for Re-election

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.

No Habeas For Hamdi

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.

Indiana University Law School Admission Policy

This is quite an amazing article by a law prof at Indiana who, apparently, was on the law school’s admission committee. It details the way their "affirmative action" procedures work, and have worked for a generation. I would like someone to defend this.

Cloning Hoax

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 can’t 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.

Being Fat is Not Unhealthy

At least in my opinion. Besides, fat people have a great sense of humor, they’re 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.

Bush Renominates Judges

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.

The Two-Major Theater War Standard

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.

Bloggie Awards

If anyone is interested in nominating us for anything (best, hot wit, fast wit, untiring wit, etc.), don’t hesitate. Go here.

The President’s Economic Package

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 president’s proposal to repeal "double taxation" of dividends is a case in point.

Promoting Democracy in Saudi Arabia

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. It’s from a recent issue of the Journal of Democracy and is by Jean-Francois Seznec.

Promoting Democracy and Fighting Terror

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.

Winning Wars on Two-Fronts

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: "We’re 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.

Bush’s "Stimulus Package"

George Will does on admirable job of explaining what is good about the plan Bush announced yesterday. I like this paragraph:

"Today’s ’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.

Why Daschle is not Running

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.

Notes on the War against Iraq

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.

GOP Convention in New York

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.

Apocalypse Now?

The WSJ reviews The People for the American Way’s 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 Wrong People

The New York Times today denounces Bush’s 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.

Gore’s Racial Baggage

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.

Daschle Says No

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.

Chinese Spacecraft Returns

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.

The Book on Bush?

Just in case you haven’t glanced at Drudge yet, let me bring to your attention an interesting controversy that may be developing over David Frum’s 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 that’s true!

Typo or Truth?

Some news copy in today’s Sacramento Bee reads "muslin extremists."

Finally we get the truth about towelheads.

It’s George W. Bush’s GOP

David Frum has a piece in today’s 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 Frum’s soon to be published book,The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush.

John Edward’s Favorite Book

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.

Claim that Bush’s War on Terror is a Phony War

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.

Politically Correct Racism

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
determines identity."

Special Forces inside Iraq

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.’’