Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

What about al Qaeda?

An article reporting that the US intelligence community believes that al Qaeda is now fractured and limited in what it can do operationally. The article reports that bin Ladin is angry that no attacks were made on the United States as a result of the war in Iraq. The article also cites intelligence sources who do not share the view that AQ has been hurt by our efforts. If the claim of diminished operational capacity is correct, it would help explain why no attacks have occurred. More terrorist attacks, although to little effect, occurred in response to the first Gulf War. These were carried out or attempted by Saddam’s intelligence service. In any case, the lack of terrorist attacks (so far) has received little notice in the press. That bin Ladin threatened but that nothing has happened should undermine his credibility.

Havel as Orwell

Matt Welch writes an interesting, and long, article in Reason arguing that Vaclav Havel is the George Orwell of our time. He says that Havel built his reputation in the 1970s "by being to eyewitness fact what George Orwell was to dystopian fiction. In other words, he used common sense to deconstruct rhetorical falsehoods, pulling apart the suffocating mesh of collectivist lies one carefully observed thread at a time." Pretty good. Although it is not uncommon among conservative-types to be a bit ambivalent about Havel, just remember that Noam Chomsky considers him "morally repugnant" and on an "intellectual level that is vastly below that of Third World peasants and Stalinist hacks."  

Exploiting by "Affirming"

In his recent Washington Post op-ed,
"Affirmative Exploitation"
, Ruben Navarrette Jr. picks up where Civil Rights Commissioner Kirsanow left off in his column about affirmative action. Just a couple of excerpts:

"To the degree that there are failures and shortcomings in K-12 public education, racial preferences at the college level help to conceal them."

"Were minority students suddenly to vanish from college and university campuses, and the campuses return to being all white--as liberals warn would happen without preferences--Americans might start asking tough questions about the quality of elementary and secondary schooling in this country, especially for minorities. They might even ask whether teachers and administrators--the vast majority of whom are white--have the same level of expectations for black and Latino students as they do for white students, or whether guidance counselors are "tracking" minority students away from college-prep and Advanced Placement courses and toward vocational studies and other less-challenging curriculums."

In short, among its many deficiencies, affirmative action at the collegiate level postpones the day when public schools have to get their act together and teach their children, all their children, well.

Farouk Hijazi Caught

Farouk Hijazi, Iraq’s ambassador to Tunisia, and once the number three man in Saddam’s intelligence service, has been caught in Iraq, coming out of Syria. James Woolsey calls this "the biggest catch so far" even though he is not in the poker deck. The US claims that Hijazi met with bin Laden in 1998. 

Hitchens on Chalabi

Christopher Hitchens weighs in on behalf of Chalabi and against the press’ coverage of him.

Much More on George Galloway

This Telegraph story just adds more extraordinary information on how deeply Galloway was in bed with Saddam. Documents reveal that Saddam instructed the Iraqi intelligence service to sever contacts with Galloway in order not to do great harm to his political career. The Christian Science Monitor also has some more evidence. Why isn’t televison news covering this? How do the Brits define treason? Josh Chafetz claims that it is not treason under British law. And guess who’s coming to the defense of Galloway? Scott Ritter. Sometimes reality is better than fiction.

Turkish Forces in Iraq

Here is the Time Magazine report on the Turkish incursion into Iraq, and how we sent them back. This is not good.

The Turkish Special Forces team put up no resistance though a mean arsenal was discovered in their cars, including a variety of AK-47s, M4s, grenades, body armor and night vision goggles. "They did not come here with a pure heart," says U.S. brigade commander Col. Bill Mayville. "Their objective is to create an environment that can be used by Turkey to send a large peacekeeping force into Kirkuk."

The Effect of the War

David Warren writes a thoughtful piece on a difficult subject. While it resembles a psychoanalysis of the Arab mind, it is rather a good (admittedly hopeful) analysis of the effect that this extraordinary war has had on their perception of themselves, of their leaders, and, most important, of the lies that have been revealed. In a way, this is the real shock and awe! What this portends for the future of the whole region, including Iran, Syria, and the Palestine-Israeli road map toward peace, is not yet perfectly clear. Yet, it must be admitted that the situation is much more hopeful than ever before. Let the new international politics of the twenty-first century begin.

The U.N. and the Oil-for-Food Program

It seems to me that if this Claudia Rosett op-ed in the New York Times is true, it is perfectly understandable why the U.N. doesn’t want to end the oil for food program and the sanctions against Iraq: The UN itself (never mind France, et al) is profiting greatly from its existence. 

Gingrich’s AEI Speech is Over the Top

Newt Gingrich gave a talk at AEI yesterday that was highly tauted. You got the impression that he was going to have something important to say. I saw part of the speech, and read it all. I am mystified why people think this was a great speech. See, for example, Jonah Goldberg’s praise of it. But even worse is Frank Gaffney’s boundless intemperance in saying that it "may be one of the most important foreign-policy addresses by a former national leader since Winston Churchill warned in March 1946 that ’an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.’" This is way over the top.

It seems to me that although the State Department can be criticized on a variety of grounds, it absolutely cannot be criticized simply the way Gingrich does. Or, if it can be so criticized, it is, in fine, a criticism of the President himself. And that is both wrong and politically dangerous. Is Gingrich (and some so called conservatives) now willing to take on the President and his very succesfull foreign policy (of which war making is only a part) by relentlessly and comprehensively criticizing the State Department? What kind of suicidal mission are these guys on? Or, it is possible that I am missing something having to do with some kind of petty inter-office wars within the beltway. But if it’s only that than Gingrich ought to be ashamed of himself for creating an inside-the-administration-war at a time when that administration is about to conduct some very, very serious diplomacy in order to further its foreign policy agenda. I think that Gingrich is either a fool, or a knave, or is being used by some for highly imperfect ends. If I am wrong, you should let me know.

James McPherson KO’d by Thomas Sowell

What’s worse than being the target of a critical op-ed by Thomas Sowell? Getting the one-two punch by Sowell in successive op-eds! Poor James McPherson--yep, the McPherson of Civil War historian fame--penned an essay for Perspectives entitled "Deconstructing Affirmative Action"
where he confesses his guilt over being a successful white historian.

Curiously, for penance he has chosen not to give up what he considers his ill-gotten gains, i.e., a job at an elite university at the expense of blacks who supposedly never had the same chance. No, he has decided instead to put his fame and reputation on the public line by authoring an editorial espousing the virtues of today’s affirmative action regime. In other words, his faux guilt has been followed up with faux penance, for how could one’s reputation be sullied by airing views perfectly in keeping with the conventional wisdom of the academic elite?

Thomas Sowell, a fellow member of the American Historical Society of which McPherson is the current president, delivered the knockout blows to McPherson’s lone pity party in "Quota ’Logic’" and
"Quota ’Logic’ Part II"
. If only McPherson would read them and weep.

Revoke Michael Moore’s Oscar?

It would appear that there is a growing movement to revoke the Oscar that Michael Moore won for his "documentary" Bowling For Columbine. According to the campaign’s supporters:

"Bowling for Columbine violated the Academy’s own rules. These limit the documentary competition to nonfiction films. Bowling isn’t nonfiction. Whenever it was necessary to his theme, Moore invented facts, fabricated events, staged scenes, or doctored the depiction of what actually happened. When Heston, for example, gave a mild and concilliatory speech, Moore simply edited the footage (and inserted footage from a different speech a year later) to make it sound arrogant."

The George Galloway Case

The Guardian runs an article that seems confirm the accusations against British MP George Galloway. And the British Government begins an investigation of his charities. The Telegraph reports that Galloway asked Saddam for even more money. Here is Andrew Sullivan: "The Labour Party starts an investigation into what it calls "extremely serious" allegations. FYI: The Treason Act 1351 is still active, making it a crime, punishable by life in prison to ’be adherent to the king’s [now queen’s] enemies in his realm or elsewhere’. If he’s guilty, send him to the Tower!"

What the French think now

According to this article in the Christian Science Monitor a growing number of people in France are beginning to wonder whether Chirac’s government was right to oppose the war against Saddam Hussein.

Death, taxes, and . . . affirmative action?

In Peter Kirsanow’s aptly titled column for National Review, "The Never-Ending Story,"the newest member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission wonders aloud if there is any end in sight for affirmative action. He reminds us that two recent circuit court cases disagree over the question of the duration of affirmative action policies: specifically, must they be of "finite duration" to pass muster under the "narrowly tailored" portion of the Supreme Court’s strict scrutiny test?

Will the high court take the opportunity this term to resolve this discrepancy at the lower court level? Although the Court has not applied a duration threshold in affirmative action cases involving education, O’Connor and Scalia raised it during the recent oral arguments on the University of Michigan’s preferential admissions policies.

Given the complexity of the lower court rulings and the hundreds of "friend of the court" briefs filed in the Michigan cases, the Court’s decision is not expected until their term ends in late June. By then we’ll know if July 4th should be an occasion to celebrate the truth that all men are created equal, or simply a great day for burning firecrackers!!!

Tiding of Bad News

Ford is discontinuing the Thunderbird, one of their only decent models (outside of the Explorer). This is another symptom of the ill-reign of William Clay Ford, the politically correct family scion presiding over the slow demise of a once-great company.

Harvey Mansfield and North Korea

Christopher C. Hull reflects on whether it is better for a prince to be feared or loved. He notes that North Korea did a 180 degree turn a few days after the fall of Baghdad, and reflects on this by talking about Mansfield’s grading system: "Feared or loved, which is better? As Prof. Harvey C. (minus) Mansfield of Harvard teaches, the challenge is that if a professor gives out A’s, then students will love him - but if he then gives a student a C, that student will hate him. If, however, the professor gives out C’s, then students will fear him, and if he gives out more C’s, students will simply continue to fear him. But any A’s he scatters about will cause those students to fear AND love him. (Note: He wasn’t kidding.)" The rest is worth reading, too.

Professors Mugged at UCLA

Three professors at UCLA explain how they were mugged by their own Academic Senate. The Senate passed an anti-war statement, and how they did it has to do with the mugging. You really shouldn’t be surprised. (via The Volokh Conspiracy).  

Most Memorable Phrase from the War

Jonah Goldberg is very happy with himself! And he should be, even though the attribution is incomplete. Here is why Jonah is happy. He says in The Corner:

"The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations says that ’Cheese-eating surrender monkeys’ is the most memorable and oft-cited phrase from this war!

Obviously, the Simpsons deserves credit, but it would have been nice if the Times recognized my efforts. Regardless, it’s not about the credit and the glory. It’s about the French-bashing. I was doing it before French-bashing was cool and I’ll be doing it long after the rest of the world has moved on to Lichtenstein-bashing or whatever."

Laci Peterson, her Choice, and a Double Murder

James R. Harrigan nails down the problem that I knew would arise as soon as I heard that Scott Peterson was accused of a double murder. Laci Peterson made a choice to keep her child, even naming him Connor. Some pro-abortionists, it turns out, don’t like choice

What Presidential Candidates Read

This piece from the Washington Monthly isn’t exactly deep metaphysics, but it will hold your interest and/or remind you of some amusing moments. Remember Michael Dukakis’ favorite book?

"His phlegmatic 1988 campaign was perfectly symbolized by his choice of vacation reading: a book entitled Swedish Land-Use Planning. Even if you knew nothing else about the Massachusetts governor, this tidbit suggested he was solution-oriented, practical to a fault, and probably not the sort of guy who’d be a lot of fun to have a beer with. Which is, of course, exactly the person the Democrats got."

A Puff-Piece on Fareed Zakaria

This is an interesting piece--one of those inside-the-elite-establishment-power-studies--on Fareed Zakaria. It is a good gentle read, never mind the chatter about him becoming, eventually, the first Muslim Secretary of State; it reveals a bit about him that’s worth noting. I especially liked these two paragraphs:

Zakaria became a conservative, he says, from observing the Indian state. “People often say, ‘How could you, living in India, end up a Reaganite?’ Well, the answer is, live in India. There are two things that people don’t understand. One is the degree to which a highly regulated economy produces masses of corruption because it empowers bureaucrats. It just has to be seen to be believed.

“The second,” he continues, “is that you are very quickly inured to the charms of pre-industrial village life. Whenever someone says the word community, I want to reach for an oxygen mask.” 

Here is William McGurn’s review in the WSJ of Zakaria’s latest book, The Future of Freedom. I haven’t read the book yet, but I will.  

Galloway-Iraq Connection?

According to the Daily Telegraph the left-wing, pro-Saddam, anti-Iraq war, MP, George Galloway, was on Saddam’s payroll. The article claims that documents found Baghdad prove this. For Galloway’s (and the so called peace movement) sake, this had better not be true. Here are some of the documents. There is also a Jordanian connection. While this is all over the web, the best short commentary is from Andrew Sullivan. Mr. Galloway has denied the charges, but, as Sullivan suggests, those denials smell bad (i.e., they’re Clintonian).

Wesley Clark

Does this mean that retired General Wesley Clark is not going to run in the Democratic primaries for president? Maybe his tepid war commentary on CNN did him in. But note that this new position is environmentalism-friendly.


Ahmed Rashid (the author of Taliban) writes a thoughtful--albeit with Tucker-like pessimisism--account of developments in Afhghanistan. His first paragraph is this:

"A recent border shootout between Pakistani and Afghan government troops in the Pashtun tribal belt has heightened already sharp tensions between the neighboring countries. In an April 22 meeting in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, Afghan President Hamid Karzai may confront Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf with claims that his country’s elite Interservices Intelligence (ISI) continues to secretly support the ousted Taliban militia. After an unprecedented two-day meeting of Afghanistan’s feuding military chiefs ended April 20 with a commitment to build a strong national army, Karzai faces another test: observers say he will try to persuade Musharraf to order his ISI agents to arrest Taliban leaders who are using Pakistan as a base."

War, the Economy, and Election 2004

The Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary are barely nine months away.

Like his father in 1991, George W. Bush in 2003 enjoys high approval ratings following a successful war against Saddam Hussein. Operation Desert Storm (’91) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (’03) appeared and appear to make George Bush unbeatable in the upcoming election.

Bush 41 then lost in 1992. Is Bush 43 equally vulnerable in 2004? Will the economy sputter and cost Bush 43 the election? Will a serious 3rd party candidate emerge? Here are three articles which explore the similarities and differences between the two Bushes and the two campaigns of ’92 and ’04.

In the ’Washington Times,’ Terrence Jeffrey offers ’Will Election 2004 Be Like Election 1992?’

In the ’Weekly Standard’ Irwin Stelzer offers ’1991 All Over Again.’

At Rich Lowry offers ’Not Like the Father’.

McCarthyites of the Left

Here’s a piece I wrote for the History News Network. It’s a response to folks like Tim Robbins who see an imminent return to right-wing McCarthyism in the United States. I argue that today’s far Left has more in common with the McCarthyites than conservatives do.

The Left is Losing It

James Taranto is always interesting, but these few paragraphs on how the American left may be losing its grip on reality are worth your attention. See his first section, appropriately called "Losing It." Follow the links.  

European Textbooks, Revised

The Guardian ran a story about how textbooks have changed, all for the sake of trying to give a nice and peaceful unity to Europe, according to Dr. Yasemin Soysal, President of the European Sociological Association. "The Vikings have gone from being depicted as pillaging aggressors to skilful, peace-loving traders. In early editions of From Cavemen to Vikings (A and C Black), the Vikings are referred to as ’fierce raiders [who] began to attack our coasts’. But in its 1994 edition, they are described as ’Danes [who] besides being farmers, were much better at trading than Saxons. The Danes and Saxons settled down together and Saxon England became one rich and peaceful kingdom.’" The good doctor thinks this is overdone. The whole article is worth reading.

Revisionism can be pretty funny stuff. Here is Neil Gaiman’s parody of the Spanish Armada episode: "In 1588 the Spanish decided to go and visit England, in order to expand England’s trading horizons, and a whole Armada of trading vessels set out on a visit. The English were so excited, they lit bonfires and gathered on the South Coast to welcome their Spanish Visitors. They even sent ships out to meet them. Unfortunately, the silly old British weather was against the Spanish, and most of their ships were wrecked and lost before they could land, which left the English very disappointed indeed." (via Iain Murray)

Barbara Bush’s C-Span Audio

C-Span ran Barbara Bush’s conversation with the Ashbrook Scholars last Saturday night. Here is the audio version. It’s about an hour long, and a lot of fun.

U.S. Should get out of Saudi Arabia?

Francis Fukuyama makes a good argument that we should. Not only do we not need those bases, but it would be good politics: "But the most powerful reasons are political. U.S. forces are today welcomed in Baghdad as liberators. But there is great suspicion throughout the Arab world--unfounded--that we secretly plan to occupy the country. Announcing a withdrawal from Saudi Arabia will underline the point that our military deployments in the Gulf are not ends in themselves, but serve specific and limited political objectives."

The Latest WMD Search

Judith Miller writes both an interesting and potentially critical story on the search for chemical and biological weapons in Iraq. There is an Iraqi scientist--slipping a note to American soldiers--involved whose name cannot be yet known; he also claims to know something about the regime’s connection to al Qaeda. Miller’s report was witheld for three days (by the military) and was edited heavily by the military. And she was prevented from meeting the man (although she saw him from a distance). It is claimed that this "could be the most important discovery to date in the hunt for illegal weapons," yet the whole story is, somehow, unsatisfying. One wonders why a story--that is able to reveal so few facts--makes the paper. Everyone is keeping mum about it, including Rumsfeld. No one is confirming anything. One can’t help getting the impression that either this is very serious, or the reporter got carried away, or that some larger purpose is involved. Stay tuned.

Of Evil, Iraq War Protesters, and the Easter Message

Just a note to call attention to the thoughtful Wall St. Journal column by Daniel Henninger, "’Know Ye Not Me?’ The Face of Evil is Seen, Defeated". Henninger suggests that one reason so many folks around the world opposed the war against Sadam Hussein was their inability to recognize evil when they saw it. The "idea of evil" is scarcely comprehensible in a world that preaches moral relativism and universal tolerance. Thus, we should not have been surprised when the media and academia recoiled in shock to President Bush’s reference to an "axis of evil." To their post-modern sensibilities, it was moral chauvinism.

My one addendum would be to remind folks that we should not equate evil with this or that tyrant, however evil his actions. Men and women can be the instruments of evil, but not the thing itself. (If only it were that easy to conquer that beast.) It is, as the Bible puts it, something of a spirit, unclean in the extreme and unfortunately an abiding and seductive presence until God brings history to its culmination.

Given the Easter celebration this past weekend, we do well to consider both our human responsibility to restrain evil by all lawful, just, and honorable means, as well as the limitations of said methods to provide mankind with the ultimate remedy for which his mortal condition desperately calls.

Nothing will Come of Nothing

For reasons I do not understand, The New York Times runs this non-story (on Saturday) about a non-meeting, out of which there was non-meaning and non-action. It is a report of "more than two dozen of America’s professorial elite" as the Times is pleased to call them. Well, Stanley Fish, Homi Bhabha, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and other similar worthies were there. The Times thinks that these people are important. I don’t. I mock their pretensions. Stanley Fish is reported as saying: "I wish to deny the effectiveness of intellectual work." Perfect, what these people take for "intellectual work" and "theory" is a form of self loathing, they’re rogues and peasant slaves! Fish is right, if his work might be called intellectual! He might as well have said, "I am Misanthropos, and hate mankind." It is a pity that anyone takes them to be anything but what they are, but perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that someone at the New York Times sent a reporter to cover this meeting about nothing. Nothing will come of nothing. These are barren spirited fellows! But see The Remedy.

Nebula Awards

The Nebula Awards for science fiction have been annouced. Has anyone read any of them? I would like to know if any of them are any good. I certainly like the title of Neil Gaiman’s "American Gods." Thanks.

Nofziger on the Democrats

Lynn Nofziger, a Reagan advisor whom I hope you will remember, reflects on the difficulties the Democrat candidates for president find themselves in. He thinks their problems will continue.

Saddam’s Tyranny

The more Iraqis learn about Saddam’s wealth, the more Iraqis are shocked by it. And Newsweek runs this piece detailing some of the savagery inside Saddam’s Iraq. Ugly.  And here is John Burns’ recounting of the last days of Saddam. Very good read.  

"Violent Supremacy" in Iraq

Peter Maas has a lengthy article in the Sunday New York Times Magazine called "’Good Kills.’" Although you will see that--in my opinion, at least--it’s intended to chastize the Marines for killing civilians at the battle for Diyala bridge into Baghdad, it is in fact a good detailed story of some very heavy close combat. He implies that the strategy of the Third Battalion, Fourth Marines ("kill every fighter who refuses to surrender") was somehow questionable, and that the "raw military might, humans killing humans" was shocking both in theory and in application. I disagree, and even if everything he writes about the battle is true, the Marines did everything right, by my account. Furthermore, I am impressed both by their fighting ability, their commander’s understanding of combat, and their restraint. Yet, you will glean the author’s purpose from the last few paragraphs of the article. 

The Unmanned Army

Matthew Brzezinski has a lengthy but good piece in today’s NYTimes Magazine about the new way the army’s fighting, the army of the information age. He emphasizes the unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV). Good read.  

U.S. Military Bases in Iraq

The New York Times runs this unsurpsring story today, the first two paragraphs: "The United States is planning a long-term military relationship with the emerging government of Iraq, one that would grant the Pentagon access to military bases and project American influence into the heart of the unsettled region, senior Bush administration officials say.

American military officials, in interviews this week, spoke of maintaining perhaps four bases in Iraq that could be used in the future: one at the international airport just outside Baghdad; another at Tallil, near Nasiriya in the south; the third at an isolated airstrip called H-1 in the western desert, along the old oil pipeline that runs to Jordan; and the last at the Bashur air field in the Kurdish north."

Arab Volunteers in Iraq

This is an interesting story from the Arab press about the experience of some Arab volunteers in Iraq during the war: Their Iraqi officers betrayed them and Iraqis told them to go home, some were shot. I had seen mention of these things, but not in the Arab press.

German-Iraq Intelligence Connections

The London Telegraph is reporting on some interesting connections between Germany and Iraq and German offers to help. The report claims to be based on documents found in the Iraqi intelligence HQ.