Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Little League, WW II, & Gratitude

A couple of days ago, I took my eleven year old son to his first Little League game of the year. His team lost a double header. He made an amazing catch of a sinking line drive in center-field in the first inning of the first game, then threw to second base to complete a double play, thus snuffing out a big rally. I shouted, ’That’s my boy.’ The other parents in the crowd giggled. What more could one ask? How about a base hit? In the second inning, he hit the ball, a slow grounder to the second base side of the pitcher’s mound, the pitcher fielded the ball and made a wild throw over the 1st baseman’s head. My son scampered to second. He scored on another error two batters later. The bench erupted with glee, my son was excited and happy. Daddy was proud and happy. Ok, they lost both games.

Upon arrival at the game, a racquetball buddy of mine had introduced me to his father from Toledo, Ohio. We talked. The father told me he had coached youth baseball for over 20 years. He was critical of the Coaches; why does the pitcher throw from the stretch when there are no base runners, why does the coach let the first baseman (his grandson) stand on first base before the pitch, why does the little boy have a big bat, why did the right-fielder throw to first base instead of second base, etc. Good points, perhaps a bit too critical, but he wasn’t shouting or interfering.

Little league games are dominated by two frustrating facts, walks and errors. The games are extraordinarily boring, except for those episodic moments when one’s son is involved in the action. So this man and I turned to other topics. This elderly man and I turned to the war. We found we agreed that the War on Terror was necessary, that the Bush administration and our armed forces had performed brillinatly in Iraq, etc.

He talked about the various things, he and other veterans at the American Legion in Toledo had done recently. I asked him when he had served in the military. He was 18 in 1945, 76 in 2003. In 1945, he was stationed in California on his way to the Pacific War. He and his fellow soldiers had been told by the Army to expect a very high percentage of casualties in the impending battles. He expected to die.

He hated war, you could see. He knew WW II was necessary. He did his duty. He didn’t have to go to Japan to fight. He was grateful that Harry Truman had dropped the atomic bombs. It saved his life. He gestured toward first base and his grandson (he has five or six grandkids) and then gestured to his wife and son (he has three children). He and they wouldn’t be here but for Truman. He was persuaded that Truman had saved a million American lives with the decision to nuke Japan. He was sorry Japanese civilians had to die. He was certain that many more Japanese would have died if the war had continued via conventional means. I mentioned Paul Fussell’s writings, including ’Thank God for the Atom Bomb.’ He simply nodded. We watched the game.

I guess, especially on Memorial Day weekend, we ought to be grateful that we live in America, where we can watch our children and children’s children play ball in peace, surrounding by extraordinary prosperity, in freedom. We need not fear suicide bombers crossing over from Toledo. People from Michigan and Ohio need no ’Roadmap to Peace’. Remember 150 years ago or so, Michigan and Ohio almost went to war (wasn’t there a battle) over Toledo. Imagine. Let’s be grateful for the rule of law and the genius and prudence which established that rule of law.

Just as importantly, we must remember the hard decisions which have to be made to perpetuate that liberty. Shakespeare illustrates this in Henry V. Washington did it in the Revolutionary War. Lincoln did it in the Civil War. Churchill did it in Oran, Dresden, and elsewhere. Truman did it. ’W’ does it now. Just as important, we should be grateful that our political tradition, while seeing the necessity of war, sees war as means to a higher end. The higher end is peace with liberty. This gentlemen (and would have been warrior)understood all of this. Play ball!

Berkowitz on Strauss

Peter Berkowitz, a Professor at George Mason School of Law, makes some good sense and provides a nice introduction to the thought of Leo Strauss.

Worth a java or two (imagine two of Schramm’s coffee cups here).

Bush Regime Cards

Jonah Goldberg at NRO brought this to my attention. He is irritated that he didn’t make it. I agree, he should be one of the Jokers! The Bush Regime Cards are amusing. Humor from the Left is rare, so have fun looking at who else is not on there.

Don’t Judge a Nation by its Friends

Andy Busch’s fine Memorial Day piece now is also avaliable at National Review On-line.

Boys and Girls

Business Week runs a long article on how (and why) boys are falling behind in their schooling. Worth a serious read. Then look at this USA Today editorial (much longer than normal) on how some colleges are instituting an affirmative action program for boys, and how this preferential treatment will become a an issue if the Supreme Court overthrows affirmative action in the Michigan case.

I would say (and have said) that this is a serious issue. I am not sure what the female-male ratio on college campuses is, but it is almost certainly the exact reverse of what it was, say, thirty years ago. (It is probably 60-40% female now). I looked up the other day from a list of Ashbrook Scholars we have accepted into the program--the acceptance is done solely on their intellectual and moral virtues, and not only on paper, each is interviewed for over an hour--I believe there were twenty-two at the time and noticed that there were only seven boys. It has been like that for years. Not good. Why this is happening is a long story and merits some serious conversations which will have to be had another day. But I promise to get back to it. Look at these articles and file them.  

Edwards not Doing Well

ABC News reports that Senator Edwards is either not gaining traction, or is losing momentum, however you want to look at it. He remains in the middle of the pack.

Concealed Carry Testimony

This past Wednesday, Amanda Cassill, a 16-year-old home schooler who happens to be my second cousin, gave an eloquent speech before the Ohio State Senate arguing in favor of the individual right to concealed carry. As someone who has taught constitutional law to college students, I must say that I was amazed at how well she as a teenager understands and articulated the issues. She began with the text of the Second Amendment, then quoted at length from the founders--Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin. She then cited to the recent Fifth Circuit decision of United States v. Emerson for the proposition that the Second Amendment encompasses an individual right (which is quite a feat, considering she did so without the aid of lawyers in the family). And she concluded by citing extensive data showing the concealed carry laws cut crime. If the adults to whom Ms. Cassill was speaking understood the issue half as well as she does, we would all be better off.

Nerd Nirvana

John Fund has a nice little piece on my alma mater entitled "Nerd Nirvana." The strange thing is that at University of Chicago, that’s a compliment. The article does reveal new Dean Saul Levmore’s devotion to racial preferences, which is disturbing but unfortunately not surprising. (The University of Chicago as a whole signed on to a wretched little brief filed by Larry Tribe in favor of the University of Michigan.)

Tax Cut Victory

President Bush appears to have won a major victory on the tax cut front. The tax cut bill includes a dividend tax cut, a cut in the Capital Gains tax (from 20% to 15%), a cut in the top income tax rate (from 39% to 35%), and all effectively immediately. Most commentators report that Bush compromised big time to get less than half of what he wanted. More reliable commentators believe it is the best tax package since Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts. Here are the observations of three reliable economic conservatives: Stephen Moore ,
Bruce Bartlett ,and
David Malpass .

Now let’s just hope they are correct.

Pygmies Appeal to UN

The London Times reports that pygmies in the Congo--caught up in the civil war--are appealing to the UN because they are being slaughtered and eaten, being hunted down as if they were "game animals." I anxiously await the UN’s response.

Speech Envy?

You might remember that in March I brought to your attention this great speech by Colonel Tim Collins of the Royal Irish Regiment. As fine a speech as any I have ever read. President Bush liked it as well: He hung it on his wall. Well, it turns out that Collins is accused of ill-treating Iraqi soldiers and civilians. It seems that Americans (not Iraqis) are making the accusations. This story from Australia may shed some light on the matter. I hope the accusation is not true. If false, shame on us.  

UN Resolution Lifting Iraq Sanctions

The BBC prints the whole text of the UN Security Council Resolution lifting economic sanctions against Iraq. And here is Martin Walker’s analysis.

Intelligence Matters

Kevin Whited has some good thoughts on the CIA and militant Islam in Central Asia. Links worth following.

Dishonest Sid

Michael Isikoff does a remarkably clear job of taking apart Sidney Bluementhal: "Sid Blumenthal rearranges facts and besmirches the character of his fellow journalists. And he wonders why people dislike him." 

Death of the Term Paper

The Los Angeles Times runs a story on the death of the term paper (plagiarism) in college and high school. True enough. Ken Masugi’s method of dealing with it is right and that is what I try to do. It works. Here is Ken at The Remedy, in full:

"What has been the case for at least 10 years (certainly in my own teaching experience) has become front-page news in the Los Angeles Times: The death of the term paper, partially through internet plagiarism but as much from lack of standards in the high schools. My own strategy in these paper wars, fought at the college level, was to assign take-home examinations that required unconventional responses incorporating close reading of primary texts. I suspect those serious about educational reform will have to fight on both primary and secondary levels of education, as well as on the college level."

On Geology and Politics

George Will’s op-ed in the WaPo is on the connection between geology and politics. He reflects on the dissappearance of the island of Krakatoa in 1883. Pretty good.  

NAS Blog

The National Association of Scholars has started a blog. Good for them and us. Take a look at it. The topics they cover will be of special interest to academics, of course, but, who knows, someday they may have something interesting to say about Abe Lincoln, for example.

The Ugly European

This is my contribution to the latest On Principle. It is called the "The Ugly European" and is related to the "American Walking" note below. I hope you enjoy it. French and Germans are not allowed to comment, tut mir leid.

The Myths of Neoconservatism

Here’s Jonah Goldberg’s 3rd installment on neoconservatism entitled ’The End of Neoconservatism: Debunking the Myths.’

General Logan’s "General Order no. 11", Memorial Day

Here is another great Memorial Day piece. This is by Mac Owens. Because it is excellent, I am glad it’s long.   

It’s enough to drive someone to smoke

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Nicole Kidman has sparked a controversy by lighting up a cigarette during her press conference at the Cannes Film Festival. Anti-smoking groups are up in arms, saying that Ms. Kidman should use her position to discourage smoking.

This seems eminently silly. Ms. Kidman is not legally or contractually prohibited from smoking if she so desires, and that ends the story. She does not have a peculiar obligation to be hypocritical and tell people not to do something that--while admittedly a risk factor--is a risk factor which she enjoys.

The story is more interesting for the zeal shown by anti-smoking groups, for whom this is clearly a public sin. The article concludes by noting that the groups are pushing for legislation (presumably in Australia) which would require all films depicting smoking to carry a warning! Peggy Noonan is right: liberals were much more interesting back when they smoked.

The whole episode reminds me of a friend who doesn’t smoke, except when confronted with those preachy "Truth" anti-smoking ads. He has vowed to smoke a cigarette for every ad to which he is subjected. Following his lead, after reading this story, I think I need a cigarette as well.

American Walking

A number of people have asked me (I continue to be surprised by both how many people read NLT, and even who the readers are) to explain what I meant yesterday when I said that I can tell an American at a hundred paces by the way he walks.

One reader--a scholar, and so speaks to it--writes that Aristotle links gait to character. He does indeed, and, if there is an American character it would be reflected in the American gait, would it not? I believe it is. But no scholarship here. I’ll tell you a story about when I first discovered that Americans walk, well, like Americans.

I lived in Munich in the academic year of 1968-69. I was studying German and attended some philosophy seminars at the university (which, being continental philosophy that was preached, soon made me mad). I was alone, lived in a cheap pension and then a studentenwonheim, worked (as a "black", i.e., off the books, laborer) at the main marketplace unpacking bananas from refrigerated cars for seventy-five cents an hour, and then got a great job working in a factory (Dr. Stiebel Werke). I spent a lot of time with Germans and East Europeans and didn’t talk to an American for the first four months or so. By early Spring I became terribly homesick.

Think about the word "homesickness." It is an illness brought about by being away from home. I repeat, an illness. I had never been this ill before (or, I emphasize, since!). The physical effects were something like seasickness; my head was sick and the whole heart faint. I wasn’t missing the pretty Southern California coastline, you understand, or big cars or hamburgers. I was missing Americans, a certain kind of people with certain qualities I liked, was at home with. I missed my people.

So I went searching for Americans. At the first sign of the illness, I just kept my eyes open for Americans. I didn’t see any. Then, as illness progressed, I started searching for Americans. I went to places where (I thought) they were likely to be. Alas, they were not. I kept at it. I pressed hard. But nothing. Things got so bad that I was unable to sleep. I would wake in the middle of the night and prowl the city with my eyes wide open. Nothing. I got into the habit of going to the main railroad station in the middle of the night (it was one of the few places open all night). I would sit and drink coffee and talk to whoever was there; mostly Germans of questionable character drinking much too much beer. Sometimes we would talk about America; but no Americans.

One night--very late, it must have been 3 A.M., I was heading home from the station, turned a corner and was thunderstruck. There was a man walking in front of me, going in my direction. There was no one else on the street. My eyes focused on him for a second and, within another second, I was running toward the man (approaching him from behind) because I realized (in a kind of Hegelian augenblick) that this was an American man walking. I came to an abrupt stop on his left side, panting, blurted out something like, "Please, I am an American, I need to talk with you. Please. Do you mind if I walked with you a bit?" Needless to say the man was surprised. But he recovered his composure quickly enough and was magnanimous enough to allow me to walk and talk with him. The conversation was not about the mysteries of things, or the latest political news, or gilded butterflies, or tales of American grandness. No, it was about his home town of St. Louis, and the virtues of the Cardinals of his town, and why the National League was superior to the American (being a Yankee fan I disputed this). It was about small things. But that was enough, and with each step and each sentence of the conversation I felt the contagion leave my soul and began to regain my health. Oh, how wonderful it was, to be healthy again! I wanted to hang my cap on the horns of the moon! An hour later we parted company; he had, in his own way, understood that he had given me a gift. I was whole again, I was happy.

The next day (in daylight) I was walking down the street and noticed three men walking a few yards in front of me (they were also black) so I saddled up to them and was prepared to say hello, expecting a howdy in return, when I heard them speaking in Hungarian! I was shocked, but decided to talk to them (at first in German, they spoke no English) and discovered they were from Ghana, studying law (amazingly enough!) in Budapest, and were in Munich playing the tourist. Their Hungarian, by the way, was flawless. So we parted company and as I let them walk on I looked at them walking from behind. I realized they couldn’t possibly have been Americans, and wondered why I hadn’t seen that before. They walked as if they were not at home in the city or in the world, as if the sky would fall in on them at any time, as if there was a thundercloud above them instead of a shining sun, as if they were afraid to displease the gods.

From then on, whenever I felt a touch of the illness grab my soul, I would venture into a crowd, keep my eyes open and look for men who stood tall, walked with purpose, were unafraid, and even had a kind of jocularity in their walk. Even if I didn’t talk with them, it was good enough just to know that they were around and, whenever necessary, I could talk with them and be at home.

The Dying New York Times and the Blair Saga

Jeremy Lott thinks that The New York Times is finished and that USA Today has a great chance (or, in effect, already is) to be the national paper. Short, and worthy of your consideration. In the meantime, Sridhar Pappu writes in the New York Observer about Jason Blair (he inteviewed him) and what he was and is thinking. Fascinating: drugs, no remorse, killing the journalist Blair so the person could live, race, etc. Some weird stuff here. Worth a read. Jason Blair is now preparing a proposal for a book and/or a movie; the emphasis, as far as I can tell, will be on race. No doubt, he will make himself into a victim. Quite remarkable.

Dumbest Lawsuit Ever

Judicial Watch filed what may well be the dumbest lawsuit ever last week, asking a district court in DC to overturn Senate Rule XXII (which permits filibusters) as unconstitutional. Let me say that this is not just imprudent, but boneheaded, stupid, several beers short of a six pack, an order of fries short of a happy meal, as dumb as a sack of hammers . . . you know, not too bright.

First the law. I can’t imagine how on earth they have standing to bring the case, which is to say that they will not be able to show a legally cognizable injury. If the court looks past this initial hurdle, the judge, whether far-left, far-right, or anywhere in between, will dismiss the case as a nonjusticiable political question. Under the political question doctrine, the courts have long stated that they will not hear cases where, for instance, an issue is specifically and constitutionally delegated to another branch. Senate operating procedures falls into just that category. This is a no brainer. The complaint will be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

Then it is politically dumb. Why file a case you are certain to lose? I’ve heard the old saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity, but do you really want to be know as the group who brought such a frivolous suit?

Furthermore, I predict that this lawsuit will have the opposite effect of that intended. Democrats (e.g., Sen. Schumer) will cite to the dismissal of the case as evidence that their interpretation of the filibuster is correct, despite the fact that the court will never actually address the question. Thus, the lawsuit is certain to lose, and will embolden the opposition. Truly, unquestionably dumb.

You know you have not been blogging enough when . . .

. . . you get a phone call from someone suggesting that maybe your getting mugged was a good thing, because it actually got you to write again. Point taken. But it does make me realize that I didn’t even think to ask the man with the gun whether he was a disgruntled NLT reader.

Recall Gray Davis Update

This article by Hugh Hewitt (Southern California radio personality and former student of Harvey Harvard Mansfield, there goes the ’Neo-Con, Leo-Con Straussian Conspiracy again) in the Weekly Standard details the momentum of the Recall Gray Davis Referendum. Hewitt believes that the Recall effort will qualify for the ballot.


This is the second of several articles by Jonah Goldberg on Neo-Conservatism. Goldberg is trying to bring some sense to the recent spate of articles on the Neo-Con, Leo-Con, Straussian Conspiracy. Not too shabby.

Good News, Finally

A ninety four year old man escaped without serious injury after a train hit his car and dragged it along for about 130 feet. He was returning from visiting his 101 year old brother in the hospital.

Indentify People by the Way they Walk?

AP reports that he Pentagon is developing a radar-based device that can identify people by the way they walk, for use in a new antiterrorist surveillance system. It is claimed that a guy’s walk may be as much his own as his fingerprints. I don’t know about that, but I do know that I can spot an American at a hundred paces just based on his walk. If you press me, I’ll explain.

Justice Thomas’ Defends Views on Diversity

Justice Clarence Thomas spoke at Benjamin Banneker High School in Washington, and defended his views on affirmative action, among other things. The story is worth reading, although I would have liked to see more on how the students (mostly black) took it. He told the students that they don’t have to base their beliefs on being black, although "we’ve reached a point where people are very comfortable telling blacks what they ought to believe." Nice line.

Batteries Needed for this War

Joshua Davis, Wired’s war correspondent, writes an engaging op-ed on the new technology, sample:

"The history of warfare is marked by periodic leaps in technology - the triumph of the longbow at Crécy, in 1346; the first decisive use of air power, in World War I; the terrifying destructiveness of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, in 1945. And now this: a dazzling array of technology that signals the arrival of digital warfare. What we saw in Gulf War II was a new age of fighting that combined precision weapons, unprecedented surveillance of the enemy, agile ground forces, and - above all - a real-time communications network that kept the far-flung operation connected minute by minute." 

"At least, that’s the triumphal view from the Pentagon briefing room. But what was it like on the ground? As Wired’s war correspondent, I tracked the network from the generals’ plasma screens at Central Command to the forward nodes on the battlefields in Iraq. What I discovered was something entirely different from the shiny picture of techno-supremacy touted by the proponents of the Rumsfeld doctrine. I found an unsung corps of geeks improvising as they went, cobbling together a remarkable system from a hodgepodge of military-built networking technology, off-the-shelf gear, miles of Ethernet cable, and commercial software. And during two weeks in the war zone, I never heard anyone mention the revolution in military affairs."

Advice to Democrats

David Frum advises the Democrats to follow Harry Truman’s hard-ball and gutsy campaign. It may be good advice, and the way the Demos are starting to go after President Bush during the last few days--he is not winning the war on terror, etc.--this advice may just well be heeded, if it’s not too late. (via Powerline)

Are Terrorists on the Run?

Amir Taheri and Brian Micklethwait both think that they are hitting targets that are easy and close to home, because they can’t do anything else. I hope they are right.

The K.C. Johnson Controversy

Months ago I reported here that Robert David "KC" Johnson faced the very real possibility of being denied tenure at Brooklyn College--in spite of having the best record of publication, and being the most popular teacher, in his department. At issue were concerns over his "collegiality," stemming from his participation on a search committee. Apparently he took issue with his chair’s demand that the department hire (in the chair’s own words) "some women we can live with, who are not whiners from the word go or who need therapy as much as they need a job."

This article from the latest issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education recounts the whole story. Unfortunately it’s for subscribers only.

The good news is that Johnson won his battle, thanks in part to the enormous press and internet campaign that was waged in his behalf. This is good news for the historical profession. While Johnson is no conservative, he is an incredibly talented and serious historian; his victory is a triumph for all who believe that educators must be held to high standards of both teaching and scholarship.

A Memorial Day Thought

Andrew Busch rightly thinks that in preparing to pay our respects to those who have fallen in our foreign wars, it is well to remember who the enemies of the United States have been: This will tell you much about who we are as a people, and the things for which we stand.   

American Torture

Newsweek reports in this short note that Americans are playing heavy metal music (Vin Diesel and Metallica) and children’s songs to break their subjects’ resistance in Iraq. It works. They can’t take it. They talk.

Poland and Europe (and the U.S.)

The WSJ praises Poland and the trans-Atlantic alliance, rightly understood. The French and the Germans are passe.

Market-dominant Minorities

Amy Chua, a prof at Yale Law School, writes this long article in The Wilson Quarterly on "the relationship—increasingly, the explosive collision—among the three most powerful forces operating in the world today: markets, democracy, and ethnic hatred. There exists today a phenomenon—pervasive outside the West yet rarely acknowledged, indeed often viewed as taboo—that turns free-market democracy into an engine of ethnic conflagration. I’m speaking of the phenomenon of market-dominant minorities: ethnic minorities who, for widely varying reasons, tend under market conditions to dominate economically, often to a startling extent, the ’indigenous’ majorities around them."

The essay is adapted from her book, World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability. I pass this long article along not because I agree with its thesis (I don’t know whether I do or not), but because I think it is worth thinking about. Certainly, the fact ethnic minorities control the private wealth of many third world countries (e.g., that in Indonesia only three percent of the population is Chinese and they control circa 70% of Indonesia’s private economy, etc.) seem to be in her favor. She also is smart enough to see that this is not so in the U.S. and sees something of why this is the case. Anyway, if you have some time to kill, have a look at it. Also note the comments at the end of the article; some are worth your attention.

Albert Wolhstetter

The Boston Globe runs this longish, but very readable, piece on the late strategic thinker Albert Wholstetter (of Rand and The University of Chicago). Lo and behold the article claims that although Wohlstetter was not a neo-con, even though Perle and Wolfowitz (among others) studied with him, he would agree with the current policy. Good informative read. 

The War on Iraq: Kant or Mill?

John B. Judis writes in the liberal The American Prospect that the administration’s Iraq policy may be seen to be either following the thought of Kant or J.S. Mill. He thinks that by Kantian standards the war was unjustified.

"Administration officials have tried to justify the war ex post facto entirely on utilitarian grounds -- that is, that the war will lead to the democratization or modernization of the Arab region. These arguments echo those of 19th- and early 20th-century imperialists, and indeed some neoconservatives, including Max Boot and Stanley Kurtz, have argued candidly for a return to imperialism. They have replaced the older promise of civilization with that of democracy or of modernization. The Bush administration, fearful of criticism from abroad, has steered clear of explicitly advocating imperialism, but it uses the same utilitarian logic in advancing its aims that European and American proponents of empire used a century ago."

California Dreamin’

I’ve been out in California for most of the last week (more about this anon), where over the weekend the following headline appeared in the Fresno Bee (sorry, no link--I got the dead tree edition):

"Valley Sounds Off on Poverty: New Deal-Era Ideas Are Proposed at Hearing. I knew California was sinking into the abyss, but I didn’t think it was getting this bad.

Democratic Presidential Primary

Althought somewhat dated, this article by Michael Barone is a nice analysis of the debate in South Carolina a couple of weeks ago between the 9 Democrats running for President.

Barone quickly dismisses Sharpton, Braun, and Kucinich and then focuses on three battles among the remaing six candidates: Dean versus Kerry on the Left, Gerphardt versus Edwards among the populists, and Lieberman versus Graham among the moderates.

Just Peace Theory

John Moser has an interesting thought about how just war theory might move to a "just peace" theory primarily because of the possibility that war might become virtually bloodless. If you can remove a tyrant from power who, in "peace" is killing untold thousands, without bloodshed, then American inaction will demand moral justification, not inaction. A good read.  

Criticism of post-war Iraq

This Washington Post goes over the criticism of the administration’s mistakes about the rebuilding (might as well call it nation building) of post-war Iraq. The Christian Science Monitor details the rise in homicides during the last ten days. Stuart Taylor has some thoughts on the subject, as does Senator Lieberman. Leaving political pot-shots aside, it does seem that the administration was caught flat-footed after the quick war. I am not sure why it was less prepared than it should have been, but we can be assured that this will be a topic of continued discussion and we may eventually find out, especially if the current Bremer led changes prove imperfect.

Clinton Library Billboards

The Clinton Presidential Library Foundation "has erected 10 billboards featuring an artist’s rendition of the future downtown library, hoping to make Little Rock and its library complex an international tourist destination." I don’t quite understand this kind of promotion for a presidential library. Maybe it’s just part of the eternal campaign.

The New York Times’s Meltdown

Christopher Caldwell offers a very thoughtful analysis on why the NYT is facing a meltdown. Worth reading in full. And Bill Kristol hopes for a new paper of record.

Civilian Deaths in Baghdad

The Los Angeles Times does its own estimates of civilian death in Baghdad during the war (and two weeks after) and it thinks that "at least 1,700 civilians died" and "more than 8,000 were injured." These death and injuries are based on records from 27 hospitals: "Those victims included in the toll died as a direct result of the conflict, but not necessarily at American hands."


The New York Times Magazine focuses on modern architecture, for those of you interested in strange, but unlivable, spaces.

Note on Blogging

Patrick Ruffini has a few good paragraphs on the popularity of blogging, the numbers of regular readers and who they may be. His links are worth following. 

The War Against Terror

Nawaf Obaid, in an op-ed in the Washington Post claims that the terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia have backfired. "Instead of undermining the government and rallying Saudis to al Qaeda’s cause, the bombings have outraged and galvanized the country against terrorism." I can only hope he is right. This lengthy Michael Elliott in Time is worth reading for some details on both the Saudi and Casablanca attacks, and why the terror war will continue for a long time.

Fukuyama on the Bush Doctrine

Michael Gove has interviewed Francis Fukuyama on his thesis of democratization and the Bush Doctrine. Fukuyama is skeptical on Iraq. There are some thoughtful comments on the Europeans to Blair to Bush to Wolfowitz. Worth a slow read; mid-length.   

Memphis P.D.

Good Lord! Alt’s experience sounds like something out of an Elmore Leonard crime fiction novel. The crooks therein are always just a touch stupid, or accident prone, or just plain unlucky. Glad it came out OK. But it does seem to me that if Alt spent more time blogging (and working in general) and less time prowling around strange towns with his misfit friends (lawyers, all, no doubt), then the chances of things like happening would be lessened!

Thanks to the Memphis P.D.

I’d like to offer my gratitude to the officers of the Memphis Police Department. Yesterday, two friends and I were robbed at gunpoint just outside of the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. (The irony of facing a gun within sight of the Lorraine Motel was not lost on me.) We called 911 on our cell phones, and the thief was apprehended within 3 minutes. Very impressive, especially considering the fact that the robber was stupid enough to pull the gun on both a plain clothes and uniformed officer in the course of the arrest. Due to the quick response time of the Memphis PD, we were able to recover all of the stolen items.

I have to think that ours was one of the unluckiest robbers on the planet. In addition to the lightening quick response of the Memphis PD, he chose to steal an easily identifiable family heirloom in the course of robbing two lawyers and a woman with a photographic memory.

Again, kudos to the Memphis PD.