Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Uzbeks are Like Germans?

I came across this by chance (as I do most things) and even though it’s politically incorrect and will offend half of my friends (e.g., Germans, Irish, Welsh) it is pretty cute, so I pass it on. It is an attempt by a blogger to explain the character of the people in the ex-Soviet Republics of Central Asia--you know all the countries that end in Stan--by comparing them to those you might be more familiar with. For example, here are the ones trying to understand the Uzbeks and the Tajiks (for the others you will have to go to cinderellabloggerfella):

"Uzbeks are the Germans of Central Asia. There’s lots of
them, they spill over borders, they like hard work, lack much
of a sense of humour, are very clean, think they should run
the region, are plain and hefty to look at, sing the praises of
stodgy food in vast quantities, and are cordially despised by
their neighbours, whom they regard as a bunch of
degenerate nomads and Russian-lickspittles."

"The Tajiks are the Irish of Central Asia. An ancient and
cultured people, fond of singing and poetry, proud of their
descent from the Persians. They inhabit a small, beautiful
country, but are often more divided north against south
than they are united. And God gave them a right bunch of
bastards as neighbours. They have the strongest trend of
religious fanaticism in the region, and are the only country to
have had a proper civil war. They know that when they ran
Central Asia sure it was grand, and that’s good enough for
them. There’s also millions of them running another country
- Afghanistan - and think they’re doing a good enough job of
that. They think their neighbours are degenerate nomads,
but agree with most of them on the urgent need to lick
Russian spittle. Their neighbours think they have girly voices
and lead the regional pederasty league."

Garmany’s Role in the Building of the Iraqi WMD

Of course I cannot vouch for the details (or the seriousness) of this article from the Asia Times but it is worth contemplating. It claims to lay out what the German foreign intelligence service knows about the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, how it is being hidden from the public, and the high political (domestic and foerign) costs at stake. It seems that most of the materials and know-how for WMD were sold to Iraq by German firms, both before and after the Gulf War. The Christian Democrats are yelling about this but, so far, to no avail. Worth a coffee.  

A Pro-War Liberal’s View

Bill Keller writes in today’s New York Times that is worth reading not because it is deep thinking, but because I think it well reflects the way a liberal tries to think through the issue of war with Iraq and what American foreign policy should be based on. Although there is a prejudice against Bush (or at least some of his people), he explains how liberals can take cover under people like Pollack, Blair, and Blix, liberals who support Bush’s case. He also explains how many of the Clinton people (including Pollack) seemed to have learned something from the Bosnia and Kosovo episode and the Milosevic regime change. He raises the typical questions about merely projecting American power or building democracies, etc. Worth one coffee.  

What Will the Iraq War be Like?

Victor Davis Hanson has a thousand plus words on this question. He attempts to analyze how the war might go without self-righteous bluster or hysteria. He thinks he is being reasonable by appealing to our knowledge of military history generally, and that of Iraq in particular. It will probably be over quickly and go quite smoothly. Very much worth reading. Two coffees.   

Tillman Now a Ranger

Pat Tillman is now an Army Ranger. You will remember that he gave up a lucrative football contract with the Cardinals in order to join the Army. He is still not giving interviews; but he is ready to be deployed. (Thanks to Andrew Sullivan).

The Abolitionists

Richard Ruderman just finished an Ashbrook Colloquium on Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. It is very good, and you can listen to it (about an hour and ten minutes) by clicking on his name.

What is the Meaning of the Declaration of Independence: The President and the Professor

Yes, David Tucker raises some important issues, both scholarly and eminently practical.

The links to the Declaration in the President’s speech remain, and I think more clearly than he allows. Based on his analysis, does Tucker intend to put a wedge between the Massachusetts Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence? President Bush is not Harry Jaffa, and does not have his understanding of equality, nor, just as important, of God. Yet the President winds up where the Professor is heading. For Jaffa, equality means that men are between the Divine and the bestial. Equality is revealed in our freedom. I think this follows from his emphasis on nature as being something different from God, binding God as though nature was like Kant’s imperative. (By the way, I think it is important to take the Declaration as modified by Congress as an "expression of the American mind," not of Jefferson’s quirks.) For President Bush, equality is a result of a creating God.

The Declaration allows us to see God both as the philosopher sees Him and as the pious man does; that is, it takes the perspective of the good citizen in a good regime. But His commandments are surprisingly harmonious, at least on the political level. thus the Declaration speaks universally, when it comes to the issue of justice.

There is no John Locke for Islam, and it may be the case that Islam does not permit such a figure to arise. (There may have been an Islamic Thomas Aquinas in Averroes or Al-Farabi, but I’m not sure what political commands would issue from them.) That appears to be the philosophic issue we’re dealing with today. And, while the struggle be long, the need to apply the best technology of war is more compelling than the wish that Islam would uncover its John Locke post haste. In other words, I would agree with David that "I recognize that the God of the Declaration is not necessarily incompatible with the God that speaks to Bush and Rice but which God we have in mind when we think about politics and act politically makes a difference. This is especially so as we confront an implacable enemy inspired by his own special revelation."

But I think the problem is less one of special revelation but rather one of not accepting the authority of reason. By combining the two, the American Founding can be both particular and universal at the same time, just as the universal God was first revealed to a particular, chosen People. This separates civilized people from barbarians.

Turkish Truckers in Iraq

This is a very interesting read from the Philadelphia Inquirer. It tells the tale of truckers from Turkey who regularly drive to Iraq. They see a military buildup and bedraggled soldiers and a dislike/hatred of Saddam. It sounds to me that the people are waiting for the Americans. One coffee, sipped slowly.  

God and Politics

I would like to comment on three items on the blog. Two of these were brought to our attention by Peter Schramm. The third is Mickey Craig’s entry on Condoleezza Rice’s remarks to the National Prayer Breakfast. The connection is God and politics.

The first item is Ken Masugi’s analysis of the President’s recent State of the Union Speech. Masugi says the speech was inspired by the Declaration of Independence. I don’t see this. The speech does not mention equality, as far as I know, except when it speaks of treating investors equally in the tax laws. Bush’s focus is on freedom and, as Masugi notes, freedom as a gift of God. This marks Bush’s difference from the Declaration most clearly. The Declaration speaks of the laws of nature and of nature’s God and declares that certain truths are self evident. Because nature and a rational God is the standard that the Declaration appeals to, it can claim universality. Bush speaks of gifts and Providence, emphasizing the willfulness of God and the potentially unique character of His gifts. (I know that the idea of providence occurs in the Declaration at the end but, interestingly, this was not in Jefferson’s original draft.) Bush does say that liberty was God’s gift to humanity but how does he know this? With the President, we are not dealing with the laws of nature but with special revelation. Greg Dunn’s analysis of the State of the Union speech is more accurate than Masugi’s, I think, because it recognizes the revealed personal ground of the President’s politics and admits that this makes people nervous. This brings me to Mickey Craig’s praise of Rice’s speech. Rice may be worthy of higher office but surely not on the basis of her touching account of her personal relation to God.

I recognize that the God of the Declaration is not necessarily incompatible with the God that speaks to Bush and Rice but which God we have in mind when we think about politics and act politically makes a difference. This is especially so as we confront an implacable enemy inspired by his own special revelation.

Terror Alert Raised to Orange

The President approved raising the terror alert from Yellow to Orange ("high risk") this morning. Apparently there are concerns, based on intelligence, that some sort of attacks may be attempted during the period of the Hajj.

Four Cuban Coast Guardsmen Defect

Four Cuban coast guardsmen--still in uniform and armed--docket their patrol boat and walked into town and surrendered to a local policeman in a Key West resort.

Multilateralism without the UN

Reading the Mark Steyn peace that Schramm recommended yesterday reminded me of one of my greatest frustrations in recent weeks: why are we being faced with the false choice between unilaterlism and the United Nations? In this regard (as well as in many others) I recommend Reflections on a Ravaged Century by one of my favorite historians, Robert Conquest.

Conquest favors multilateralism, as I do, but argues that we ought to establish a new organization to serve as a substitute for the hopelessly corrupt United Nations. He suggests that initially its members would include the U.S., the nations of the British Commonwealth, and many of the republics of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Rim. In other words, it would welcome those states that cherish the ideals of constitutional republicanism and the market economy, and share a set of norms for international behavior. Of course, other states might apply for membership later, if they prove worthy.

Hillary Favored in Poll

The Quinnipiac Poll shows that Hillary Clinton is the favorite among Democrats for the 2004 election. She received 42% while her closest rival, Senator Liberman, got 15%; the rest lag behind with Sharpton at 6% and Dean at the bottom with 3%. Interesting, yet the director of the poll says: "At this stage, though, it looks as if Democrats are
competing for the chance to get thumped by
President Bush,"

The Elegant French Retreat Continues

Perhaps a small point, but please take note of the fact that although yesterday President Chirac said that he was not persuaded by Powell’s speech, he also said this: "We refuse to think that war is inevitable." This means, of course, that war is possible, they are trying to avoid it, yet, if it comes, it is possible they will support it.

Condi Rice for Higher Office

Dr. Schramm has suggested in the past that Condi Rice replace Dick Cheney as the Vice Presidential Candidate in 2004. I remain unpersuaded for 2004 but I am now perfectly happy to have a Cheney-Rice ticket in 2008. Read Condoleeza Rice’s powerful speech yesterday at the National Prayer Breakfast:

Remarks by National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice
at the National Prayer Breakfast
Washington Hilton Hotel
Washington, D.C.
February 6, 2003

I am greatly honored by the invitation to speak here this morning. It is a
day when official Washington gathers not as Republicans or Democrats; not as
conservatives or liberals; nor as Christians, Jews, or Muslims. Rather, we
are gathered as a fellowship of the faithful who share a love of God and who
embrace God’s will and ways - even in moments of pain and loss, like right
now, when those ways seem so mysterious to us. Today, our Nation’s thoughts
are with the seven brave souls taken from us five mornings ago. We pray
that in losing their mortal lives they have found life eternal in His care.

I approach the honor of addressing you with a deep sense of humility. I am
not a member of any clergy. I am, however, the daughter, the granddaughter
and, indeed, the niece, of ordained Presbyterian ministers. So in some ways
this occasion feels very familiar to me.

Sundays in my family meant church. It was the center of our lives. In
segregated black Birmingham of the late 1950s and early 1960s, the church
was not just a place of worship; it was the social and civic center of our

Throughout my life I have never doubted the existence of God, but, like most
people, I have had some ups and downs in practicing my faith. After I moved
to California in 1981 to join the faculty at Stanford, there were a lot of
years when I was not attending church regularly. I was traveling a great
deal, always in a different time zone, and going to church too often fell by
the wayside.

Then something happened that I will always remember. One Sunday morning I
was approached at the supermarket by a man buying some things for his church
picnic. He asked me, "Do you play the piano by any chance?" I said, "Yes."
And he said his congregation was looking for someone to play the piano at
their church. It was a small African-American church in the center of Palo
Alto and I started playing there every Sunday. And I thought to myself, "My
goodness, God has a long reach - all the way to a Lucky’s Supermarket in the
spice section on a Sunday morning."

The only problem was, it was a Baptist church and I don’t play gospel very
well, unlike our great Attorney General John Ashcroft. I play Brahms. At
this church the minister would start with a song and the musicians had to
pick it up. I had no idea what I was doing. So I called my mother, who had
played for Baptist churches, to ask her for advice. She said, "Honey, just
play in C and they’ll come back to you." And that’s true. If you play in
C, the foundational key in music, people will come back. Perhaps God plays
in C, and that’s why we always seem to find our way back to Him, sometimes
in spite of ourselves.

Looking back on the years since I found my way back, it is hard for me to
imagine my life without a strong and active faith. Faith is what gives me
comfort, and humility, and hope . even through the darkest hours. Like many
people - here and abroad - I have turned to God and prayer more and more
this past year and a half, including this past Saturday morning. Terror and
tragedy have made us more aware of our vulnerability and our own mortality.
We are living through a time of testing and consequence - and praying that
our wisdom and will are equal to the work before us. And it is at times
like these that we are reminded of a paradox, that it is a privilege to
struggle. A privilege to struggle for what is right and true. A privilege
to struggle for freedom over tyranny. A privilege, even, to struggle with
the most difficult and profound moral choices.

American slaves used to sing, "Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen - Glory
Hallelujah!" Growing up, I would often wonder at the seeming contradiction
contained in this line. But as I grew older, I came to learn that there is
no contradiction at all.

I believe this same message is found in the Bible in Romans 5, where we are
told to "rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces
endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our
hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us."

For me, this message has two lessons.

First, there is the lesson that only through struggle do we realize the
depths of our resilience and understand that the hardest of blows can be
survived and overcome. Too often when all is well, we slip into the false
joy and satisfaction of the material and a complacent pride and faith in
ourselves. Yet it is through struggle that we find redemption and
self-knowledge. In this sense it is a privilege to struggle because it
frees one from the idea that the human spirit is fragile, like a house of
cards, or that human strength is fleeting.

We see this theme in illustrated in sacred texts the world over. In the
Book of Job, God tests Job’s faith by taking from him everything that he
cherishes—his wealth, his health, and his family. Early in his trials,
one of Job’s friends counsels him to be patient, saying, "Behold, happy is
the man whom God correcteth; therefore despise not thou the chastening of
the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his
hands make whole ... In famine he shall redeem thee from death; and in war
from the power of the sword ... And thou shalt know that thy tabernacle
shall be in peace ..." In the end, Job’s sufferings strengthen his faith
and, we are told, he is rewarded with "twice as much as he had before" and
he lived "a hundred and forty years" until he was "old and full of days."
We learn in times of personal struggle - the loss of a loved one, illness,
or turmoil - that there is a peace that passeth understanding. When our
intellect is unequal to the task - the spirit takes over, finding peace in
the midst of pain is the true fulfillment of one’s humanity.

Struggle doesn’t just strengthen us to survive hard times - it is also the
key foundation for true optimism and accomplishment. Indeed, personal
achievement without struggle somehow feels incomplete and hollow. It is
true too for human kind - because nothing of lasting value has ever been
achieved without sacrifice.

There is a second, more important, lesson to be learned from struggle and
suffering is that we can use the strength it gives us for the good of
others. Nothing good is born of personal struggle if it is used to fuel one
’s sense of entitlement, or superiority to those who we perceive to have
struggled less than we. Everyone in this room has been blessed, and I am
sure we all know that it is dangerous to think about the hand that one has
been dealt relative to others if it ends in questioning why someone else has
more. It is, on the other hand, sobering and humbling to think about one’s
blessings and to ask why you have been given so much when others have so

Our goal must not be to get through a struggle so that others can
congratulate us on our resilience, nor is it to dwell on struggle as a badge
of honor.

Perhaps this is why in describing his personal struggle, the Apostle Paul
felt it necessary to say to the Philippians, "Forgetting those things that
are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead . I press
toward the goal for the price of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
We find a similar idea in the Talmud, which says "one should only pray in a
house that has windows" - in order that we may remember the outside world.
And in the Hadith, we find Muhammad saying: "No one of you is a believer
until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself."

But to direct the energies from our struggles toward the good of others, we
must first let go of the pain, and the bad memories, and the sense of
unfairness—of "Why me?" - that inevitably accompany deep personal

I believe this lesson applies not only to individuals, but to nations.
America emerged from the losses of September 11th as a nation that is not
only stronger, but hopefully better and more generous. Tragedy made us
appreciate our freedom more - and more conscious of the fact that God gives
all people, everywhere, the right to be free. It made us more thankful for
our own prosperity, for life, and health - and more aware that all people,
everywhere deserve the opportunity to build a better future.

It prompted us to cultivate what the President has called "the habit of
service" to others so that the "gathering momentum of millions of acts of
kindness" may bring hope to people in desperate need. And perhaps most
importantly, September 11th reminded us of our heritage as a tolerant
nation; one that welcomes people of all faiths, or no faith at all.

Now, as our Nation once again deals with great loss, with fears and
uncertainties, let us once again recommit ourselves to those values which
define us. Let us renew our quest for understanding the natural world and
all the heavens which God has made. Let us renew our commitment to standing
for life, and liberty, and peace for all people. Let us renew our
commitment to working with all nations to conquer want, and hunger, and
disease in every corner of the globe. Let us accept our responsibility to
defend the freedom which we are so privileged to enjoy.

If terror and tragedy spur us to rediscover and strengthen these
commitments, then we can truly say that some good has come from great loss.
And in all the trials that may lie ahead, we will carry these commitments
close to our heart so we may leave a better world for those who follow.
This is our prayer for our Nation and our people. This is our prayer for
all Nations and all peoples. Lord, hear our prayer.

Germans are Angry

Here is an AP dispatch, and one from Reuters, on just how angry the Germans are at Rumsfeld’s remarks the other day about Germany. Note that one member of parliament wants Rumsfeld to tone down his rhetoric. Rumsfeld told the House Armed Services Committee this (I guess stating a fact is what is called rhetoric):

"And then there are three or four countries that have said they won’t do
anything. I believe Libya, Cuba and Germany are the ones that I have
indicated won’t help in any respect." I am pleased by this German response (and the threats of anti-war demonstrations during Rummy’s visit); they should be helped along in this necessary conversation about what their role in the world (and in Europe) should be. The German decision on Iraq has been very salutary for both American policy and the future of of a united Europe; the US now knows it can’t count on the Germans and the recently freed European countries have been reminded why Europe can’t be led by Germany. They can’t allow the Germans to lead them by the nose, and they will not. This is what makes the Germans angry.

Press Coverage of Columbia

Jonah Goldberg has a thoughtful piece in today’s Wall Street Journal on how cable TV covered the Columbia disaster. Note especially, his comments on CNN and FOX. He has a point, FOX better get on the ball. And there are a few pregnant lines, like quoting Ambrose Bierce to the effect that war is God’s way of teaching Americans geography. We now know where Kandahar is (a city by the way, like many others in Afghanistan, named after Alexander the Great). A one coffee read.  

Polls After the Powell Speech

Here is a WaPo/ABC poll, and one from CNN/USA Today/Gallup on the effects of Powell’s speech to the Security Council. They are oddly confusing, if not contradictory. Yet, Oxblog makes sense of them, in a few paragraphs. Here are a few good lines from Oxblog, the rest is also worth reading.

"What neither Gallup nor a WaPo storyabout the polls points out is how remarkable it is that both
Bush’s State of the Union speech and Powell’s UN address significantly increased support for an
invasion. This sort of double-bounce has almost no historical precedents."

Anti-War Activists Frustrated

A reader chastized me for not pointing you to this silly and biased article from Reuters that claims that Bush is ignoring the so-called peace movement and they are frustrated. Well, the problem is that it is a non-story, full of holes, and dreary. The only truth in the story is that these activists (why are people who hate America called that?) are frustrated. Good, let them be frustrated. A deeper analysis isn’t worth our time. No coffee with this one. Skim it.

Student Sues Over Grade

This is too much. A high school senior in Michigan says he earned an A+ rather than an A in a class taken in intermediate school and that the grade should be changed. If it is, he is likely to become the valedictorian. So he is suing the principal, school board, etc. By the way, the class he is concerned about was one in which he "worked as a paralegal in his mother’s law office." I think it’s his mother he ought to be suing. Isn’t this fun?

More on Old Europe vs. New Europe

Pejman led me to this article by Nick Schultz on the respective populations of the Old and New Europe; you should be encouraged by it. Here is the punch line:

"The fact remains that 100 million more Europeans, speaking through their
elected representatives, stand with the United States than stand opposed
to the United States. The difference represents twice the population of
France and is a quarter more than the population of Germany. It is France
and Germany that are not only in a minority but are in a relatively small

Oh yes, one more thing, while we are on the subject of Europe old and new: Turkey will allow the US to use bases in case of need. This needs pointing to because of the continual pounding by CBS, NBC, ABC, et al, that after all, our efforts are not multilateral; please, wake up and smell the Iraqi coffee brewing. Make enough to last a few weeks.  

Let’s Quit the UN?

There is a logic to this Mark Steyn piece that is hard to argue against. He wants us to quit the U.N.

Iraq Matters, Post Powell

It seems to me that the Powell speech has had the effect that was needed, note this excellent WaPo editorial on the matter. Also note that ten other European countries (to be added to the eight of a week ago) are coming in an our side. I think the French have begun to move in our direction (but see this good piece by Andrew Sullivan from a few days ago, and this by Stephen Hays on the French position); in the end they will not be held responsible for making the UN irrelevant. Also note the hard line that the inspectors are taking toward Iraq: The inspectors have claimed to Blair that Iraq is not cooperating. This means that their report of next week will be the end. And here is an excellent piece from George Will on what it all means and how the "French have retreated into incoherence." And conclude your reading with this nice short piece outlining how technological advancements of the last dozen years have transformed the US military. You might as well start paying attention to the hardware and strategy since we will be at war by early March (unless Saddam abdicates or is overthrown), and that war, I still maintain, will be under UN auspices.

Iraq: The War Debate

The Council of Foreign Relations is sponsoring a debate on Iraq tonight at 6 P.M. (ET). The participants will be Bill Kristol and Max Boot vs. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. It should be fun. If you have the time, you can see it and hear it here in a web-cast.

Confederate Flag in South Carolina

It seems to be back as an issue, but now it is one for the Democratic candidates to deal with. Amusing double talk from all of them. Worth two sips of coffee.  

Happy Birthday Ronald Reagan!

Ronald Reagan will be 92 years old tomorrow. Steve Hayward celebrates the man and his birthday by remining us how he had been underestimated, and how he is being rehabilitated, even among some liberals. A good man, a fine president. It was an honor to work in his administration. Happy Birthday, Mr. President.

Powell’s Speech

I was asked to provide an immediate reaction to Sec. Powell’s speech by NRO. My piece is here

Our Friends the French

I’m sorry to be so far behind the power curve, but I see we are making fun of the French and I jsut can’t resist a contribution. This was related to me not too long ago by a Brit: the French killed more Germans a couple of years ago when one of their Concordes crashed than they did during all of World War II.

Bill Clinton and the Demos

Howard Kurtz’s piece in today’s WaPo has some interesting reflections on Clinton’s continued presence and effect on Democratic presidential politics. He quotes extensively from William Greider’s article in The Nation bemoaning the fact that Clinton continues to meddle in party affairs. The fact that he still has some standing is a reflection of not only his political capacities, but also of the fact that the other Demo candidates have no authority or standing. This is more proof that the 2004 election for Bill is a throwaway and that the smart Demos will be focusing on 2008; and that’s where Hillary (and Bill) really comes in. Follow the links in the article. Worth a couple of coffees as light fun after contemplating war.    

France’s Elegant Retreat

I just heard the French foreign minister give a "diplomatic" talk that could be interpreted in a number of different ways; so, their mission is accomplished, war is not ruled out but really it would be best to strengthen the inspection regime, etc. As Bill Kristol said on FOX, the French foreign minister began an "elegant retreat." They have moved in our direction and the Germans (who are not relevant in any case, they have no veto) are now watching the French move away from them, trying to get off of the limb. The great alliance announce a few weeks ago is about to end.

Colin Powell’s Security Council Speech

I thought the speech was excellent, detailed, and serious. It seems to me that case is made and it is unimpeachable. The only thing that actually surprised me was his reference to the UN becoming irrelevant if it ignores his proof. Good. I was also pleased to see him elaborate some on the connections between Iraq terrorists. You might also want to look at this very interesting Jeffrey Goldberg article in the current issue of The New Yorker on the connection betwen Al Qaeda and Iraq. It is now perfectly obvious to all that Iraq will have to be dealth with, and it will be. The only question is whether or not it will be done under UN auspices. The French have some decisions to make. I think they will go along with us, or forever be known as the country that made the UN irrelevant. They can’t afford that, so they will agree, in the end. Here is the WaPo’s running transcript of the speech; it is not yet on the State Department site.

Anti-American Studies

TNR Online has a great review essay by Alan Wolfe on how American Studies programs have become havens for those who most despise America and all that it stands for. Here’s a quote:

"American studies still exists as an academic discipline. If anything, it can be found in far more colleges
and universities now than during the 1960s, and it attracts significant numbers of graduate students,
and its practitioners publish innumerable books and articles. Yet the third generation and the fourth
generation of scholars in the field not only reject the writers who gave life to the discipline, they have
also developed a hatred for America so visceral that it makes one wonder why they bother studying
America at all."

WaPo: Don’t Filibuster Estrada

WaPo has a fine editorial today in which it denounces the Ralph Neas led Democratic plans to filibuster Estrada. It is worth quoting at length:

With the Estrada nomination due to come to the Senate floor today, [Democratic Senators] are contemplating a dramatic escalation of the judicial nomination wars. They should stand down. Mr. Estrada, who is well qualified for the bench, should not be a tough case for confirmation. Democrats who disagree may vote against him. They should not deny him a vote. . . . But a world in which filibusters serve as an active instrument of nomination politics is not one either party should want. Mr. Estrada’s nomination in no way justifies a filibuster.

A few more words on filibusters. On the Capitol Hill, most seasoned politicians understand that the power of the filibuster is in the threat. Actually using a filibuster carries risk. If you are unsuccessful in garnering the votes necessary to filibuster, then the next time you threaten to use the meneuver the threat will be viewed as toothless. If you are successful, then the threat becomes more powerful, however you open yourself up to a public backlash for being obstructionist.

Leahy and his cohorts have put themselves in a tough place. They have wedded themselves to special interests who are so outside the mainstream of the American public that they speak about "judicial armageddon," and therefore the Democratic leadership somehow feel obliged to charge the proverbial "filibuster" windmill. But doing so comes at great cost. Many Democrats will feel uncomfortable about voting against a Hispanic nominee for no better reason than that he may be a potential Supreme Court nominee. Others may worry about being labeled an obstructionist Congress. Others still may even have questions about whether this is an appropriate exercise of the Senate’s constitutional duty of "advice and consent." All of these concerns are justified.

Which leaves but one conclusion: bring on the vote.

Houston Memorial Service

Here is the President’s remarks at the Memorial Service in honor of the crew of the Columbia.

Racial Preferences

Stuart Taylor does a job on racial preferences in this National Journal article called, "Do We Want Another 100 Years of Racial Preferences?" And TNR explains why politicians love affirmative action.

Blair--Chirac Meeting Over

It is being reported that France was not persuaded by Blair regarding Iraq in the meeting just concluded. Dick Morris has a pretty good brief on what the French policy toward Iraq has been during the last decade. He also thinks that in the end the French will come around. And Colin Powell is preparing to brief the UN Security Council tomorrow.

Good Piece on Sharpton

They say even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Here’s an interesting article on Al Sharpton from the History News Network. The author is a lecturer at Yale, and author of Liberal Racism. Here’s a blurb:

"This isn’t about justice. It’s about racial power brokerage. Sharpton may tickle guilt-ridden liberals and a very few leftists who still think blacks the ’cats’ paws’ of revolution, and I have always believed that somewhere in his big, convoluted heart, he does dream of leading us beyond race to a brighter tomorrow. The sadness behind the fun in his compulsive re-stagings of ’Fight the Power’ and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s heroic reckonings with America is that he never leaves us anything but a civic equivalent of the dry heaves."

Harsh Penalty

The BBC reports that a man in England has been banned from every pub and club in the country because he stole a bottle of wine and a packet of pork pies! "Where th’offense is, let the great ax fall."

More on the cheese-eating surrender monkeys

Peter’s joke about the French reminds me of another one, which goes: Why are all the boulevards in Paris lined with trees?

Because the German army likes to march in the shade.

England and France

Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac are meeting today and everything is said to be just fine. But, of course, it isn’t. It is not only Iraq. Note this article from today’s Daily Telegraph that makes clear that not only are there disagreements over Zimbabwe, but Blair just blocked a $3 billion deal that would have allowed a French company to build two new British aircraft carriers. Which reminds me of a French joke I heard the other day: How many Frenchmen does it take to defend Paris? We don’t know. It’s never been tried.

Morality in Foreign Policy

Bill Kristol has a short and thoughtful piece trying to explain how the Ford-Kissinger people (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz) came to Reaganites in foreign policy and Bush has taken up Reagan’s views. Essentially correct.

Attack to Rival 9/11

The Washington Times reports that Al Queda is planning a massive attack on the United States designed to create greater casualties than 9/11--however their efforts have been thwarted by the arrest of key operatives. Intelligence officials have revealed that the attack is intended to be precipitated by the assassination of prominent U.S. leaders. You can read the story here.

The Limitations of Spy Satellites

Philip Taubman in today’s New York Times argues that Colin Powell will not likely be able to produce an Adlai Stevenson moment tomorrow when presenting evidence before the UN tomorrow. Taubman points to the limitations of spy satellites, which while capable of viewing objects as small as a football, are nonetheless limited to passing over targets for a limited amount of time on a regular schedule. Because of this regularity, targets may avoid detection.

But these limitations were well known during the last Gulf War. Schwartkopf in particular lobbied to pull the SR-71 spy planes out of moth balls in order to regain the element of surprise. What Taubman fails to take into account is the development and use of unmanned Predator drones for reconnaissance, which reclaims the element of surprise. He also fails to take into account the likely presence of special forces and CIA operatives already on the ground in Iraq. While Powell may be reluctant to reveal some intelligence for fear that it will reveal too much about how the information is obtained, it is implausible to think that the date presented will be limited to satellite imagery.

Blair’s Leadership

The AP reports that British PM Tony Blair met with French President Jacques Chirac today in an attempt to garner his support for a second UN resolution permitting military action against Iraq. This follows the statement of Blair and seven other European leaders which made clear the leaders’ support for the U.S. policy regarding Iraq--and tacitly condemned the axis of inaction that is France and Germany.

Reagan Revolution Redux?

WaPo today suggests that Bush’s recent policy proposals--particularly his recent round of suggested tax cuts--are a redux of the Reagan Revolution. Richard Kogan of the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Analysis is quoted as saying that Bush is clearly "worse" than Reagan. Worse than Reagan in just 2 years--an impressive accomplishment indeed.

More on the German Problem

This is a thoughtful op-ed from the London Times on the ideology that is ruling Germany, how it is related both to the spirit of 1968 and the older German way. It is not reassuring. It’s points may be arguable, but it is thoughtful. And, it is certainly the case (although causes may be disputed) that Germany is removing itself "from the field of play." One coffee.  

German Problems

I am happy to report to you (in case you haven’t heard) that the Soc Dems took a real beating in provincial (Lower Saxony and Hesse) elections in Germany yesterday. The fact that Lower Saxony is Schroder’s home base is especially notable. Also note that the German-French Axis (aka "Axis of Weasel") is already on the way toward disintegration; the French are more likely--as I have been saying they would--to more quickly return to the American fold than the Germans. This means that the Germans will be left alone, as the sole Weasel. In the end, of course, I think even they’ll turn back as well, but they are hurt by all this, as is the possibility of European integration under French-German leadership. The other countries (Poland, Hungary, et al) got a taste of what that leadership would be like, and they don’t like the taste. I love the way the foreign minister of Portugal put it: the French and the Germans will have to get used to, in a 25-member EU, "geometrical variations" outside their own axis. Worth two cups of contemplation.    

Reagan’s Challenger Speech

A reader asked me to post Reagan’s speech in 1986 following the Challenger disaster. Here it is. You might want to prowl around the rest of the site. Although it is still being built, there are many useful things on it, documents, info on seminars for high school teachers, and so on. The site (
is intended to be most useful for high school teachers.

War on Iraq, notes

Not only did the President get a bounce from his speech, but, as this Wa Po story makes clear, half the country is willing to go to war against Iraq even without the UN. And this Powell op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal makes the argument again. I still maintain that he will persuade the Security Council to go along. His testimony on Wednesday is likely to be dramatic. Note this story out of Australia: an Iraqi defector (a bodyguard for Saddam) has made some very specific claims as to where hidden missiles, bio and chemical weapons may be found. Bingo.

Morel on Bush’s State of the Union Speech

Lucas Morel has expanded on his blogs on the President’s speech here. It is very good.

Columbia Tragedy

Much is being said about this tragedy that is beginning to taste bad; it is often put into the category of the Challenger disaster or even 9/11 and even talked of in tones of "how much tragedy and death can we Americans take," what with an Iraq war just around the corner, and so on. This sort of thinking implies that we are not a tough people, and that we prefer to talk about ourselves in terms of victimization and tragedy. This sort of thinking is both wrong and has bad consequences. This is not to say, of course, that the families of the astronauts have not been terribly hurt by their losses. I can only imagine what it would be like to wait for them to land in triumph and, just minutes before the event to experience the horror of knowing that they have died. I think Mark Steyn understands these matters and that’s what makes his column the best I have read on the subject of the Columbia tragedy.

Diversity of What and For Whom?

James Traub’s essayin the Sunday NY Times offers still more reasons why racial diversity in higher education raises more questions than it answers. A couple of soundbites:

And why should racial and ethnic "points of view" outweigh those forged by class or culture?

As I have argued before, one of the great ironies of promoting racially diverse perspectives in higher education is that it perpetuates a white supremacist mindset: namely, that lily-white colleges need "students of color" for the sake of white students’ enrichment! Traub rightly points out that affirmative action originated not for the benefit of whites but for the benefit of individual blacks who had been barred from colleges and jobsites on the basis of race. Why is it that when government has tried to help individuals overcome racial discrimination, it more often than not keeps them in a dependent position?

But I wonder if eliminating that
mechanism [i.e., affirmative action] wouldn’t force universities -- and the rest of us -- to do something about the educational failure that has made affirmative action necessary in the first place.

Instead of improving K-12 education, thereby addressing the achievement gap in American education right at the source, governing bodies, colleges, and employers have sought to address the problem by rigging the outcomes to make it look like there is no longer a problem with racial discrimination. When it comes to justifying these racially prejudicial practices, to reverse the adage, it has proven to be easier done than said.

It remains to be seen if governing majorities, and that includes the Supreme Court, can address racial discrimination without holding onto the power to discriminate. I say, "Let freedom ring."

Reply to Reader About Estrada

A reader noted here that he had beaten me to the punch in disclosing Paul Bender as a liberal bomb-thrower on his Zonitics blog. It does appear that he beat me to the gate--although he does kindly concede that I provided more "inside the beltway" information (written from the friendly confines of Ohio). What neither of us wrote, however, was that in September of last year, Paul Bender backpedaled on previous statements. On September 24, 2002, the Times reported:

In a recent interview, Mr. Bender, now a professor at Arizona State University law school, said that while he would not withdraw his criticisms, he would not repeat them, saying he did not wish to be seen as campaigning against the nomination.

Of course, his reluctance to campaign against Estrada and to repeat these tired accussions is not shared by the New York Times, which conveniently did not mention this statement in the course of their editorial which relied on Bender as their sole political character witness regarding Estrada.

Buzz Aldrin on the Space Program

Buzz Aldrin offers his reflections on manned space travel this morning in the New York Times. A timely piece that reminds of the courage of those who pioneered the space program--and of the courage of those who participate in it today. To borrow a phrase from Schramm, this is a one coffee read.

The Post 9/11 World

It is interesting to note that the first two people I spoke with after the Columbia explosion both had the same response: they asked about a possible terrorism connection. It is especially interesting because neither individual is prone to conspiracy theories, but rather they reflected a common post-9/11 American viewpoint: if something goes terribly wrong, then we must seriously consider foul-play. Of course, there is no evidence suggesting terrorism here, but it struck me that I don’t recall this kind of sentiment following the Challenger disaster--even though it occurred during the Cold War.