Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Security Council

Busy day, all around. I have about a thousand words to say about the Security Council meeting that took place today. Here is the picture. I watched a good bit of it up at the Cleveland Clinic with Vicki (all is well). You might want to glance at this Reuters report on the meeting. It is entitled, "Major Powers Insist on Iraq Inspections." Major powers? Germany, France? What are the United Kingdom and the United States, potted plants? I’m sure I will be amused by this once France’s only aircraft carrier is fully functional and is able to get out of port, or when the German army goes into action on behalf of liberty. Until then, I’ll just be angry.

I’m going to withold further comment until about Wednesday, but, if you must read something sensible, here is a wrap-up from Andrew Sullivan:

"The lesson from this is a simple
one: we have to abandon the U.N. as an instrument in
world affairs. I’m not saying complete U.S. withdrawal,
although I’m beginning to think that now makes a lot of
sense. I mean temporary U.S. disengagement. The body
is now a joke of immense proportions. If it cannot
enforce a resolution it passed only a couple of months
ago, it cannot enforce anything. If it cannot read the
plain meaning of its own words, it is an absurdist theater
piece, not a genuine international body. It isn’t in
danger of becoming the League of Nations. It now is the
League of Nations. The difference is that this time, after
9/11, U.S. isolationism is not an option. So U.S.
non-U.N. multilateralism is the only option for any future
threats to world order. God knows we cannot rely on
Europe to keep the peace. The Old Europeans will regret
this deeply in the years to come. They have just told us
in no uncertain terms to ignore them. We should. We
will. And in the post-Saddam settlement, we must
actively shut out the French and Germans from any slice
of the economic action and tear up whatever contracts
they had with Saddam. They have told us how highly
they value the lives of American citizens. We can now
tell them how highly we value their export markets."

Alt on Mary Landrieu and Miguel Estrada

Robert Alt has a good piece on National Review Online titled ¿Cómo
Se Dice
about Mary Landrieu’s duplicitous use of Miguel Estrada in a campaign ad.

Filibuster Procedure

Slate has a good article explaining how a "real" filibuster operates, and has some anecdotes from its prior use. One cup read.  

Diversity, shmersity

In a recent essay, Sowell essay, Thomas Sowell skewers diversity as an allegedly necessary tool for our 21st-Century global world:

How do companies in Japan manage to sell everything from cars to cameras, in countries around the world, without having that mystic "diversity"? How does a country with such a racially homogeneous population even manage to educate its young people if "diversity" is such an essential factor in education?

10th Circuit Upholds Affirmative Action

A three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court decision by ruling Denver’s affirmative action program for racial minorities satisfies a compelling state interest (and is narrowly tailored) to remedy the effects of previous discrimination in the construction industry. Discrimination against women was also covered under this ruling.

The case, CONCRETE WORKS OF COLORADO v. CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER, applied the usual strict scrutiny test with regards to race and intermediate scrutiny with regards to sex discrimination. You know things are bad when the court starts using phrases like "disparity index" and "underutilization" to determine if an individual has receieved the equal protection of the laws or not.

I’m still trying to figure out if this case was decided correctly or not, one problem being that the 10th Circuit Court decided that it didn’t have to decide the "narrowly tailored" question because the district court (in another previous ruling) decided the program was narrowly tailored and the plaintiff did not raise the issue originally.

Concrete Works of Colorado will appeal to the Supremes.

New Media Technology for the War

The Los Angeles Times (registration required) reports that there has been a "quantum leap" in technology available to cover the upcoming war with Iraq for television crews since the Gulf War. This should bring the war closer to your couch. The TV types are keeping the leap close to their vest. No one is talking about details.

On the Iraq War, again

This story out of the London Times contradicts the Thomas Ricks story I cited earlier today. It claims that there will be a very fierce air attack before troops move in, and that we will need to capture or kill Saddam within 48 hours of the start, else the populace will be too afraid to side with us. The Ricks report sounds more authoritative. Also note this story on who is going to rule Iraq after the war (General Tommy Franks) and that some anti-Saddam opposition groups are already complaining because it will mean that too much of the current power structure will have to stay in place.

Holbrook as Twain

This is a pleasant article from the Arts section of today’s New York Times about how Hal Holbrook has been playing Mark Twain on stage for almost fifty years. As Twain might say: "There are people who think that honesty is the best policy. This is a superstition; there are times when the appearance of it is worth six of it."

The Shape of the Iraq War

Thomas Ricks has a good piece in today’s Washington Post on the likely shape of the war against Iraq. It is going to be, he thinks, entirely different from the Gulf War:

"The ground operation points to a Pentagon war plan that is
shaping up to be dramatically different than the one carried
out by the United States and its allies in the 1991 Persian
Gulf War. Instead of beginning with a massive aerial
bombardment, the plan envisions a series of preliminary
ground actions to seize Iraqi territory and effectively encircle
Baghdad before a large-scale air campaign hits the capital,
defense officials and analysts said."

The political consequences of this will be significant. If you can occupy three-quarters of Iraq virtually immediately, without firing many shots, and be received as liberators among the population you will: One, learn a lot about where some weapons are and, two, placate many of the Arab states because you will have done it quickly with minimum damage. But, of course, then the critical question will become whether or not Baghad will surrender, or can be taken reasonably quickly. The assumptions that the aerial bombardment (precise, no doubt) will be very useful in taking Baghdad, and that even the Special Republican Guards, presumably in Baghdad, will not put up much of a fight, are large assumptions. And this article claims that some military planners think that our air strategy is too timid.

The Statesman, The Tyrant, and Wit

The nature of the statesman and the tyrant is an old and perennial question, and a recent book approaches it by comparing Churchill and Hitler. In a review of this book is this suggestive paragaph:

Both are always said to be great orators, but where Hitler’s speeches are barely rational, musically thunderous orations, Churchill’s have a noble sense, starting with conversational and informal tones, and rising slowly to moments of great poetry. The crucial difference is that Churchill was a wit, and Hitler not. Hitler’s humour extended only to extremely cruel practical jokes; Churchill’s style was more devoted to the bitchy put-down, like his comment that Philip Snowden’s arrival among the Treasury faithful was like the meeting of two long-separated kindred lizards, or the startling, apt metaphor — ‘punishing China is like flogging a jellyfish’.

Prof. Craig’s Prudence

On being voted by students professor of the year at Hillsdale College, Mickey Craig declared that the honor indeed showed how well he had taught his students-- stuff the ballot box! I will supplement his votes from Scripture with the mention of 1 Peter 2:16: "You are slaves of no one except God, and never use your freedom as a cover for wickedness" (New Jerusalem Bible, but see the context, too).

The Balanced D.C. Circuit

You can see my thoughts on Estrada and the balance of the DC Circuit on National Review Online.

Terrorist Threat in Britain

For those who haven’t noticed, the Brits are claiming that they are facing a terrorist threat of the magnitude of 9/11. The threat is taken so seriously that Blair has contemplated shutting down Heathrow airport. They fear a small device, probably a hand-held rocket that was to be used against an Israeli plane in Kenya last year.

France and NATO

John Keegan has a very thoughtful and serious analysis of what the French are up to with their "breathtaking event" (as Rummy called it), preventing Turkey from invoking Article Four. David Warren weighs in on the same theme. And George Will maintains that President Bush’s budget has some radical implications, and not only for domestic policy. NATO may have served its usefulness. One good coffee. 

Another Response to Masugi and Tucker

Mein Lieb Herr Doktor Masugi advises that we might not be prudent to discuss these things in public. He refers to Publius and Fed #11. If a prudent man tells me to stop, I will. It might be better to have this discussion in a Nocturnal Council where as I recall old men talk to young men about nasty things under the cover of darkness. My view is the cat is out of the bag and, in any event, a blog site is the modern day equivalent of a Nocturnal Council. After all, what should citizens do more than engage in free argument and debate about such matters.

Dr. Tucker makes large demands on me. I shall try to respond.

First, he demands: "I would like Craig to give me the Biblical passages that show liberty is the gift of god as Craig explicates liberty." I trust Tucker will be patient with my response in that it will, at least initially, only refer to a few passages in the Bible.
For a definition of Liberty: One of Washington’s favorites: Micah 4:4, "Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken."

In Genesis 1:25-31, God creates man in his image, and gives man dominion over all other creatures. Much as Aristotle, the Bible understands that there is a qualitative difference between man and beast. Man is the natural or divine ruler of the other beasts.

Regarding equality, I think, a couple of references to the Golden Rule will have to suffice for now: Matthew 7:12 or Luke 6:31-And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Lincoln’s paraphrase, as I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. Jefferson’s paraphrase: the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately.

If I might make reference to one more authority, I recommend Michael Novak’s "On Two Wings" to supplement this discussion.

Tucker chides me for relying on authority in my earlier blog and says my references to Jaffa, West (Tom and Sam) , Locke, Tocqueville, etc. are irrelevant. He then demands that I give an account of my ’Claremont Cosmology’. How can one do that without reference to Jaffa, West, etc.?

I do agree with Tucker when he writes reason and revelation "arrive at more or less the same place, they do so from different starting points." That was one of my points in the earlier blog. Starting points or thoughts about the first things or thoughts about quid sit deus, are the most important questions, and, in the American context, the most important right, the right of conscience. I did not mean to settle any theological or philosophical disputes about first things. What I did suggest is that the teachings of the Bible and the teachings of the Lockean/Jeffersonian natural rights doctrine result, practically speaking, in the same understanding of what moral virtue is and what the obligations of citizenship require. (See another one of Washington’s favorite Bible passages: Micah 6:8, The Lord hath shown you, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?) I only meant to suggest that I believe there was a consensus at the Founding that reason and revelation taught (more or less) the same moral virtues and moral and political obligations, especially the obilgations of citizenship. That consensus was the opinion (consent) which was the source of the just powers of government. I believe "W" reflects better than any President (or public office holder) in my lifetime, a healthy synthesis (or partial ’amalgamation’) of those two traditions.

One more brief comment; Tucker says that Jefferson and Samuel West as ’progenitors of Unitarianism’ destroy Christianity. I don’t think Christianity has been destroyed. I don’t think Jefferson’s private thoughts can or could destroy Christianity. (And, if God is Dead, let’s rely on that great authority Nietzsche’s Zarathustra. The Ugliest man killed God. Not the hell-hound democracy, or the fire-dragon Jefferson.) Does Tucker want to argue that disestablishment is the fatal flaw of the founding sowing the seeds of a liberalism that is relativisitic, nihilistic, etc.?

Ok, maybe not so brief: I think Tucker draws a false conclusion when he writes: "Religion within the bounds of reason leads to desiccated liberalism." This misrepresenta my earlier blog. Yes, religion that is governed by reason is dead, intellectually and ,certainly, spritually, dry. I don’t think that "religion within the bounds of reason" is the religion (or reason) of the Founding, Jefferson, the Bible or Claremont cosmology (or what I said in my earlier blog). The religion of the Founding is not bound by reason. God is creator. Man, yes, is a rational/consenting being. Made in God’s image. What might god be? John 1:1-2, "In the beginning was the word/logos, and the word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God." Man made in the image of God, God is the word, the word is logos. In the end, perhaps Tucker and I agree and Masugi is right we shouldn’t be talking about this: So, yes, religion separated from reason becomes cruel fanaticism (pious cruelty), and reason (or science) separated from religion/morals becomes cynicism. I don’t think Jefferson desiccates religion or reason.

Prudence dictates that I stop here. Not for Unitarian reasons but for a Utilitarian reason. I have go back to work.

Anti-French Story, not funny

Tom DeLay (who received the Ashbrook Award for this year at CPAC!) tells the following story at this end of this WaPo article on how Congress is irritated at the French (thanks to Kathryn Lopez at NRO): "I was at a celebration of India’s Independence Day," he told reporters, "and a
Frenchman came walking up to me and started talking to me about Iraq, and it was obvious we were not going to agree. And I
said, ’Wait a minute. Do you speak German?’ And he looked at me kind of funny and said, ’No, I don’t speak German.’ And I
said, ’You’re welcome,’ turned around and walked off."

Osama bin Laden’s Latest Missive

Here is the full transcript from the Washington Post. It obviously merits careful reading, but even on a quick reading a few things stand out. One, it is important to him that Iraq doesn’t fall to the infidels even if Iraq is not ruled by Muslims. Two, his utter contempt for the American soldier (full of "fear and cowardice and absence of fighting spirit") reveals how he misunderstands those who live (and fight for) freedom. And my third point is that I don’t understand the emphasis on the trenches. Is it possible that the heart of the speech has a different meaning than the obvious? Anyway, read the rant. No coffee, to Hell with him!

Old Europe

Although I am still thinking (now more hope than reason?) that the French and the Germans are just play-acting, I admit that it is looking more and more like their unilateralism is for real. They are making a big mistake, many unpleasant consequences will follow for the U.N., for the EU, and for NATO. Here is the speech that Senator John McCain gave in Munich on Feb 8th (from NRO) that is very much worth reading. In the meantime there are problems in Old Germany. Schroeder is in trouble politically, feuding with his foreign minister, Fischer, over the leaks about the French-German plan. Now there are calls for Schroeder’s resignation. There are many odd complications to the Germans’ problems, not the least of which is that Fischer (a Green) seems to be more hawkish than Schroeder (a Social Democrat). This lengthy piece from The New Republic from 2001 about Fischer and Kosovo may be worth re-reading. The ex-radical (and terrorist?) Fischer might be on his way toward becoming the next Chancellor of Germany as he keeps moving to the right of Schroeder. And Steven Den Beste’s thoughts on why the Germans are acting as they are is worth reading.

Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday

Today is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. In celebration you ought to re-read one or two of his speeches. The Gettysburg Address will do, as will the Fragment on the Constitution and Union, or the Second Inaugural. I remind you of Charnwood’s statement about the latter: "The Second Inaugural is one of the few speeches by a great man at the crisis of his fate on the sort of occasion which a tragedian telling his story would have devised for him." Needless to say, the speech is not unrelated to the God and politics discussions below.

NLT is Back

We were down yesterday for some adjustments; sorry about that, it took a bit longer than we planned. All is well now and, God willing (and Roger’s art), should stay that way.

God and Politics

In an earlier blog, Ken Masugi argued that President Bush’s State of the Union speech was grounded in the Declaration of Independence. I thought not for several reasons, one of which was that Bush seems to draw his inspiration from the God of revelation more than he does from the laws of nature and of nature’s God, as the Declaration puts it. I admitted that the dictates of these two Gods could be compatible but suggested that they were different fundamentally. Mickey Craig disagrees. He insists that the God of revelation and the God of the Declaration are the same.

Why does this matter? More perhaps than any other country, the United States, through its founding ideas and the faith of its citizens, is or has been based on both reason and revelation. In discussing their relation, we are discussing the character of the United States and its citizens.

So, is Craig right that the God of the Declaration and the God of revelation are the same or as he also puts it, that true religion is reasonable?

In his blog, Craig appeals to authority by referring to John Locke, Tom West, Harry Jaffa and Samuel West and mentions Tocqueville, and eastern Straussians besides. All of this is irrelevant.

One of Craig’s assertions is to the point. In answer to my question “How can Bush know that Liberty is a gift of God,” Craig says that Bush can know this through revelation and by reasonable observation. I would like Craig to give me the biblical passages that show that liberty is the gift of God as Craig explicates liberty (according to the Claremont cosmology: beast-man-God)? Psalm 8, which is the Biblical passage closest to that cosmology, as far as I know, mentions neither equality nor liberty. Reasoned observation might lead us to the Claremont cosmology and its political corollaries, and in this case the Claremont cosmology and revelation might be compatible, but if they arrive at more or less the same place, they do so from different starting points and through different processes of reasoning. To take one example of the biblical understanding, Paul speaks of liberty but this comes by grace not through man’s place in nature. It is in fact through grace that we overcome the laws of nature, according to Paul, and achieve liberty.

Take another example: reason and revelation are in accord in announcing that God is one. But we learn from revelation and only from revelation about the trinity, our fallen nature and Christ saving us through his death and resurrection. Because reason does not teach any of this, Jefferson took all of it out of the New Testament, and much else, thereby destroying Christianity. Or, as Craig would have it, making it true religion. In the sermon so esteemed by Craig, Samuel West mentions Christ once, as far as I can tell, just before he says “Amen.” Jefferson and West are progenitors of Unitarianism and the desiccated, merely inertial moral posturing that now characterizes much of liberal opinion in the United States.

This returns us to the question of why this matters. Religion within the bounds of reason leads to desiccated liberalism; religion without the bounds of reason may lead to fanaticism. Reason and revelation need each other but they can only help each other if they retain their distinct characters. To amalgamate them threatens both and by extension the United States. This I take to be one of the basic propositions of the Claremont cosmology.

The Meaning of Declaration-- Advice from The Federalist

Thank you all for your thoughtful exchanges on the meaning of the Declaration of Independence and President Bush’s State of the Union Address. Unfortunately, I am caught back east, and time and computer access are scarce. I would paraphrase in this connection what Hamilton said in Federalist # 11: that some matters are not appropriate for a blogsite exchange. Call me a coward! But I’ll give it more thought, too. For this is an exceptional blogsite.

The NLT Will Down on Tuesday

Both NLT and the Ashbrook site will be down starting just after midnight and will be down most of the morning on Tuesday. We hope to get it back up by 2 P.M. on Tuesday. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Stonehenge King from the Alps

This could lead to a further deterioration in relations between Britain and the Old Europe. Archeologists are saying that the "Amesbury Archer" (later dubbed King of Stonehenge), who lived about 4,000 years ago and was found a few miles from Stonehenge a year ago was probably from modern day Switzerland (maybe even Germany or Austria). They know this from the tests they conducted on the enamel of his teeth.

The French and Hollywood

There’s another anti-French crack making the rouonds on the internet: "going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion." I love it. God help me, I love it so.

And re another member of the anti-US axis, I enjoyed this one by John McCain. In a recent sppech, he said that if "Washington is a Hollywood for ugly people," then, considering the remarks coming out of Tinseltown about Iraq, "Hollywood is a Washington for the simpleminded."

Lincoln the Improver

Lincoln was not only a self-made man, but an improver par excellence. This is seen most clearly in his transforming of a paragraph William Seward suggested Lincoln use to conclude his first inaugural address: Lincoln’s revision of Seward’s formulations led him to develop that great closing phrase, "the better angels of our nature."

Regarding Safire’s essay on the Gettysburg Address, I should add that historian Don E. Fehrenbacher offers additional support for Lincoln’s deliberate use of a biblical locution for time—“Four score and seven years ago.” As I point out in my book, Lincoln’s Sacred Effort: Defining Religion’s Role in American Self-Government, Fehrenbacher suggested that Lincoln gleaned the opening sentence of his Gettysburg Address from a speech of Pennsylvania Congressman Galusha A. Grow.

When the 37th Congress first met in special session on July 4, 1861, Grow was elected Republican speaker of the House of Representatives. Early in his acceptance speech, Congressman Grow referred to the birth of the American nation in imagery strikingly similar to Lincoln’s over two years later at Gettysburg:

“Fourscore years ago fifty-six bold merchants, farmers, lawyers, and mechanics, the representatives of a few feeble colonists, scattered along the Atlantic sea-board, met in convention to found a new empire, based on the inalienable rights of man.”

Anticipating Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Congressman Grow dates the nation’s birth not to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, but to the signing of the Declaration of Independence:

“Seven years of bloody conflict ensued, and the 4th of July, 1776, is canonized in the hearts of the great and the good as the jubilee of oppressed nationalities; and in the calendar of heroic deeds it marks a new era in the history of the race.”

Grow later refers to the time elapsed since the Declaration of Independence as “Three quarters of a century,” and, similar to Lincoln’s allusion to Psalms 90, observes that the anniversary of July 4th occurs “after a period but little exceeding that of the allotted lifetime of man.” Given Lincoln’s obvious desire to work with the newly elected Congress to put down the insurrection, it is quite likely that he read House Speaker Grow’s speech.

At Gettysburg Lincoln would adopt Grow’s biblical reference to the nation’s founding in a way that invested America’s birth and present struggle with spiritual significance. In a speech that makes no explicit reference to the Bible or Christianity, Lincoln still manages from the outset to imbue the dedication at Gettysburg with theological import.

More support for Lincoln’s deliberate allusion to the Psalms is found in a letter he wrote to a lifelong Democrat, 105-year-old Deacon John Phillips, who voted for both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln: “The example of such devotion to civic duties in one whose days have already extended an average life time beyond the Psalmist’s limit, cannot but be valuable and fruitful.” (To John Phillips (21 November 1864), in Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, 8:118.)

NBIC (Nanotechnology, plus)

The New York Times has a relatively clear article on how nanotechnology, biotechnology, electronics, and brain research on converging into some new field for now called NBIC (for Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Science, and Cognitive science). Here is the site of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. Fascinating, but like a pretty woman strolling, fundamentally mysterious. Yet, you may want to file it, for a later look.

"The organizers believe that there are potentially large benefits to nanotechnology, which focuses on materials and processes with
dimensions so small they are affected by the behavior of individual atoms and molecules. But they say the greatest opportunities
lie in bridging the gaps between the rapidly growing ranks of nanoengineers and researchers in other fields — professionals who
often use such different terms to describe their work that their common interests go unnoticed.

For instance, nanotechnology researchers suspect that the natural world’s ability to assemble atoms into complex tissues with
very exact specifications may hold the key to making vast quantities of minute, inexpensive pollution sensors or solar cells.
Bioengineers, on the other hand, are looking to artificial nanostructures as possible drug delivery systems or as scaffolds to help
injured organs repair themselves."

Response to Tucker and Masugi on the Declaration

In response to the blogs of Drs. Tucker and Masugi , I would say the following: Tucker argues that the God of the Declaration and the God of special revelation are different Gods, perhaps not incompatible but different. I don’t think this is correct. Certainly John Locke in the 2nd Treatise sees the laws of nature as the laws of God. (See Tom West’s recent writings on this, e.g., the lecture he gave on Locke to the Family Research Council). As Masugi points out, Jefferson said that the Declaration was an expression of the American Mind not necessarily simply a reflection of Jefferson’s understanding. As an expression of the American mind, the Declaration reflects the opinion at the time of the Founding that the political and moral teaching of the Bible (Old and New Testaments) and the political and moral teachings of the natural rights doctrine are one and the same. On this point, see the sermon of Samuel West, ‘On the Right to Rebel against Governors’ (found in Charles Hyneman and Donald Lutz, eds., American Political Writings during the Founding Era: 1706-1805, Volume I) and the sermon of John Witherspoon, ‘The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men’ (found in Ellis Sandoz, ed., Political Sermons of the American Founding Era: 1730-1805). True religion is reasonable and true reason is moral.

In all of his speeches but especially since 9/11/01, Bush’s policies and statements emerge from the idea that ‘our deepest national conviction is that all of us are equally creatures of God.’ (That conviction is also what Bush follows regarding abortion, judicial appointments, and other domestic or social issues.) This was stated most explicitly in the Ellis Island Speech of 9/11/02. The ‘Axis of Evil’ is evil precisely because it rejects the central idea of the Declaration of Independence. Their actions, like the merciless Indian savages mentioned in the Declaration, e.g., the intentional killing of innocent men, women, and children, show their barbarism. Their barbarism is manifiest in the intentional killing of innocents. Their rejection of morality is unreasonable and their unreasonableness or fanaticism leads them to hijack religion. So, unlike Mausgi, I believe that Bush and Rice, (and one expects their speech-writers) are well versed in the Declaration as interpreted by Thomas Jefferson and Harry Jaffa. Bush, like Jaffa, sees no conflict between the ideas of equality and liberty as articulated in the Declaration. Tocqueville and most Eastern Straussians make that mistake because they interpret equality as radically individualistic (i.e., following Rousseau, they see man as perfectible and thus not only as pre-political but also pre-social, pre-rational, and ultimately pre-human.) Fortunately, Bush is from West Texas and apparently knew what to ignore when at Yale and Harvard. It is true that Bush’s courage and prudence seems to follow from his deep religious conviction. Tucker asks; ‘How can Bush know that liberty is a gift of God.’ He can know it by revelation but he can also know it by reasonable observation: No man is a god and no man is a beast and no man is ruled (or ought to be ruled) by another without his voluntary consent. The enemy we face is animated by a fanaticism which is not informed by reason or revelation (unless we say that a willful God can will evil). Jefferson put it most eloquently in the Notes on the State of Virginia when he wrote: “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?”

I don’t mean to dismiss the important theological and philosophical arguments which Tucker raises. Whether God is willful or nor or bound by intelligible necessity or not are important questions. Indeed, Jefferson believed that God created the mind free and thus imperfect men would disagree about these question of conscience. Is there one God, two Gods, no God, 20 gods? Is it good because God wills it or does God will it because it is good? These are questions of conscience but not questions of policy.

Regarding Condoleezza Rice for higher office, I had expressed doubt about that when Dr. Schramm first suggested it. (My greatest doubt was: how could a Stanford Provost possibly have the convictions I think an important office holder should have?) I don’t make the recommendation based simply on her comments at the Prayer Breakfast. Following what has happened since 9/11, I have been most impressed by her words and deeds. Based on articles in the national press and various books, e.g., Bob Woodards’ Bush at War, she strikes me as the right stuff. I would have her run for the U.S. Senate in California, Maryland or Alabama first but the Vice Presidency may be ok as well. What struck me most about the comments at the National Prayer Breakfast was the reasonableness of her deep moral convictions. In this, she is like Bush.

A Note on the Gettysburg Address

William Safire has a worthy note on the Gettysburg Address in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine that is worth a read. Also note Ken Masugi’s addition at The Remedy:

"While it’s good that William Safire uses his Feb. 9 Sunday NY
Times Magazine ’On Language’ column to discuss the
Gettysburg Address, it’s too bad that he didn’t note that
Lincoln’s dating of the nation’s age comes from the 90th
Psalm, in the language of the King James Bible, which dates
a man’s years as at most four score-- to live longer is to risk
decrepitude. The Civil War is America’s ’four score and
seven’-- is America ready for the grave? That is the
Lincoln’s challenge-- to make a free nation last longer than a
human lifespan."

Replace France with India on Security Council?

Thomas Friedman, who has continued to become more serious in his analyses since 9/11, has an interesting proposal in yesterday’s New York Times: Replace France with India on the Security Council. The important point here is not that this is going to happen (besides, if the UN continues its slide into irrlevance it will not matter) but that it is not a preposterous opinion. France is being silly, petty, incoherent, and is using up her moral capital. He says, "There is room for disagreement. There is no room for lack of seriousness."

U.S. Relations with Old Europe Continues Slide

Germany, France, and Belgium blocked NATO efforts to begin planning for possible Iraqi attacks against Turkey, and Gallup reports that U.S. opinion on France and Germany becomes more negative. Although the veto of the Turkey action is by no means irreversible, it once again shows that France and Germany are being serious in their attempt to both disrupt or delay U.S. plans, and to manifest an anti-American attitude to gain favor with the public; both Chirac and Schroeder were barely elected and are in desperate need of regaining public support, hence their demagoguery. But in the end--even if they come fully aboard regarding Iraq--they have started a process that will continue to make the trust-gap even larger. This will have massive geopolitical consequences for the U.S., but especially for the Old Europe. This will be especially significant if France and Germany continue to push Russia in their direction. If Russia succumbs (they will be fools to do so) the New European pro-U.S. bloc will solidify into granite. Here are George Will, Bill Safire, and Andrew Sullivan on themes related to this. And here a piece from today’s NYTimes by Josef Joffe, the editor of the German weekly Die Zeit to give you a sensible German view, albeit prickly. Settle back with some good coffee, and if you are pro-Old Europe, contemplate your own doom.   

Rumsfeld Relatives Disown Him

This is from the London Telegraph and it is a detailed story about how some so-called Rumsfeld relatives in Germany do not like him anymore. Rummy’s great-great grandfather came to America in the 19th century but, somehow over the years some distant relatives re-established contact and used to be proud of him, but no longer. Read the quotes from the Germans with care, they are revealing. (Thanks to NRO.)

Students Promote Democracy

There is a movement afoot among students nation-wide (indeed, world-wide). Here is the article from the Yale Daily News announcing it. And here is their Statement of Principles. This may be worth paying attention to.