Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Goats hired in California

A California town has hired goats to gobble up tinder-dry brush and grass on four acres.

"These are working goats," said Fire Battalion Chief Greg Moore, lauding the herd that went to work Tuesday. "They are environmentally friendly." The service will cost between $4,000 and 5,000. Maybe this helps explain why the state is going to the dogs.

Economy Grows Faster

The economy grew at a 2.4% rate, faster than expected in the April-to-June period of this year, boosted by gains in business spending and government spending for the war in Iraq. Growth was only 1.4% in each of the last two quarters. Here is the AP story on the same, and the BBC’s.

Sword of Honor

Paul Robinson writes a longish article on the American South and its conception of honor, and how it still lives. There may be something to it, and even something to attributing some of Bush’s actions to it. But not too much. Still, it’s worth a read.

Hunting bin Laden

Jane Mayer writes a good (and long) essay for The New Yorker on our attempts to get bin Laden (even under Clinton’s watch) and why its so tough. There are all the ordinary bureaucratic problems (especially under Clinton) and then there is Pakistan. That Pakistan is a political maze doesn’t help much; and neither does their lack of vigor in helping us root out Taliban elements. There is a lot more in the article, and it’s a good read. There are many interesting tid-bits, and the conjectures are, well, conjectures.  

Iraq Roundup

Secretary of State Colin Powell has signed off on the $30 million reward to the person who led U.S. forces to Saddam’s sons Uday and Qusay. Powell also called Saddam Hussein "a piece of trash, waiting to be collected." The Dutch SFIR (Stabilisation Force Iraq) troops took command of peacekeeping operations in Al-Muthanna province on 31 July. They have relieved the American forces there. One American was killed and four wounded. The Train in Northern Iraq, between Mosul and Syria was re-opened and made its first run in a year. Meanwhile, in Najaf a female judge was to be appointed, many protested and fatwas were issued.
"We refuse the appointment of a woman judge, because it contradicts Islamic law," said Rajiha al-Amidi, one of the women in the group protesting the appointment. "This is what the Americans wanted to achieve in the first place with their invasion, to undermine Islam."

A woman cannot be a judge, she explained, because "women are always ruled by their emotions."

Sixth Circuit Judicial Council decision

Judicial Watch is reporting that the Judicial Council of the Sixth Circuit let stand a finding that Chief Judge Boyce F. Martin violated federal and Sixth Circuit rules in a case involving the death penalty and the University of Michigan Law School affirmative action case which later went before the Supreme Court. Here is a good backrgound on the issue by Todd E. Gaziano. Well, it seems as if sometimes justice does prevail.

No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy

Mac Owens has some timely thoughts on how we are doing against the guerrillas in Iraq. The answer is pretty well, and we should keep the pressure up. Go after the bad guys quick and hard, and help the good guys as best as we can.  

Daschle Blog

Tom Daschle has announced that he will start a blog! Ergo bibamus.

Dean as front-runner

Deborah Orin thinks that Dean is now the Democratic front-runner. He’s the only Dem moving up in the polls. The AP agrees and says there is a lot of interest now in his record as governor, so much interest that the current governor of Vermont is thinking of adding more staff to the state archives. Jiles Witcover explains how Dean set up his website, meanwhile money continues to pour in to Deanforum.

BBC mischief continues

Oxblog points out yet another example of BBC’s mischievious reporting. Get this: Tony Blair said (as he responded to a question asking whether he would continue to serve as prime minister in a third Labour term in government): "There is a big job of work to do - my appetite for doing it is undiminished."

And here’s what the BBC reported in its lede: "Mr Blair, who said his appetite for power remained ’undiminished’...."

And not to let a good distortion go, the website then links to the story thusly: "Tony Blair sidesteps questions on the David Kelly affair - but says his appetite for power is "undiminished"."

Bush’s language

A reader sent me this CNN note that is connected to my previous blog on Bush’s press conference. The article briefly notes some of Bush’s plainspoken responses to questions during the press conference. It claims that Bush has added to the growing list of "Bush-isms." Even though Bush’s way of speaking, unfortunately, lacks the natural rhythm of English, his folksy way with words and phrases are good and appealing clear. It is good that he says we want bin Laden "dead or alive," or that we "will smoke them out." I remind you of what Churchill said: "Short words are best and old words when short are best of all." Note that there is a professor from the University of Texas quoted in the article, who--in trying to disparage Bush’s way of speaking--is making a mess of the language himself. Bush one, professor zero.

Bush Press Conference

I drove down to Zanesville yesterday (almost a two hour drive, I went the long way) and therefore had a chance to listen to Bush’s press conference. John Podhoretz thinks that he was too testy. I disagree. I thought he struck the right note. I liked what he said about almost everything, and I liked the tone of it. I thought his comments on the gay marriage issue were perfect, and it has already put people off balance. Why do his opponents think he will roll over every time he gets pushed around? He clearly doesn’t lik to be pushed around, perhaps especially by the press, and most especially when he thinks the press is doing nothing else but repeating Democrat candidates’ mantra about Iraq. Just because Bush isn’t Demosthenes-like in his rhetoric at press conferences his opponents seem to think that he is incapable of thinking. He proves them wrong every time. He is even clearer in his thinking when he’s angry, as he was yesterday. Combine his anger with his clear thinking and you get a President worthy of the office. Good for Bush. Good for us. Bad for the press and his opponents. I hope they continue underestimating him. Here is the transcript of the press conference.

Bush Speaks to Urban League

On Monday, President Bush once again reminded us why his approach to bridging America’s racial divide is both principled and practical. He decided to speak before the Urban League, not the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). This decision, as well as
his speech
, show how much Bush wants to "make the promise of America real for everyone."

In short, when it comes to ridding the nation of racism, Bush has no time to address the rants of yesteryear. Taking full view of America’s imperfect past, and a firm hold upon her highest ideals of equality and freedom, Bush continues to hearken the nation back to what is good about America in order to point the way forward--to expand the scope and protection of the rights and opportunities of every American. Here are a few paragraphs from the close of his speech:

Recently, on my trip to Africa, I visited Goree Island in Senegal, where for centuries, men and women were delivered and sorted and branded and shipped. It’s a haunting place, a reminder of mankind’s capacity for cruelty and injustice.

Yet Goree Island is also a reminder of the strength of the human spirit, and the capacity for good to overcome evil. The men and women who boarded slave ships on that island and wound up in America endured the separation of their families, the brutality of their oppressors, and the indifference of laws that regarded them only as articles of commerce. Still, the spirit of Africans in America did not break. (Applause.) All the generations of oppression under the laws of man could not crush the hope of freedom. And by a plan known only to Providence, the stolen sons and daughters of Africa helped to awake the conscience of America. The very people traded into slavery helped to set America free. (Applause.)

The moral vision of African Americans and of groups like the Urban League caused Americans to examine our hearts, to correct our Constitution, and to teach our children the dignity and equality of every person of every race.

Idi Amin as Dr. Jaffa

Mark Steyn writes a long column on Idi Amin, and regrets that he is out of his coma. Steyn happens to mention that Amin’s effectionate nickname in Saudi Arabia is "Dr. Jaffa", because he loves to eat oranges. Glenn Ellmers at The Remedy has confirmed this outrage of chance from this interview with Giles Foden (see the last paragraph). This is quite remarkable and if I were a Roman I would consider it malis avibus, but I’m not, so it’s just very funny. Risum teneatis, amici?

Rhodes College dust-up

The Religion Department at Rhodes College is the issue. The suit is by a professor who didn’t get tenure. It seems that one of her colleagues (the department chair?) was much too interested in her, etc. This reads like a "steamy sex novel" according to the story. What pricked my interest are these lines from the story: "In a sort of X-rated update of William Buckley1s 1951 conservative classic God and Man at Yale, Walsh says the religion department at Rhodes, which has historic ties to the Presbyterian church, is a hotbed of liberalism, atheism, and feminism with a dash of lesbianism for good measure." (via Critical Mass)

Dangerous neckties

I don’t like neckties, never have. It’s got to be the most ridiculous custom ever invented. The guy that came up with it is in Dante’s ninth circle, I’m certain. When I want a splash of sartorial elegance I throw on a bolo (and polish my boots) and that’s that. So this doesn’t surprise me: "Research reported in the British Journal of Ophthalmology on Tuesday showed that a tight necktie raises blood pressure in the eye, which is a leading risk factor in the illness that can lead to damage to the optic nerve and loss of vision." This has to be avoided because we all know that sight is the noblest sense, and we also know why.

Borders launches new site

This news report says that Louis Borders, the guy who started Borders Books, just launched KeepMedia Inc., a Web site offering consumers unlimited access to a database of magazine articles for a flat monthly rate of $4.95. Here is the Home Page. They are offering a free seven day trial. Although on first sight it looks to me as if there aren’t enough serious publications (maybe they’ll add more?), it still may be worth it. I’ll report later.

Black history, white teachers, and Oberlin High Scool

I don’t know. I am sitting here on a perfectly nice afternoon--doing necessary bureaucratic work (i.e., boring myself to death) when I’d rather be out riding my bike--and then this is sent to me by a friend. It perked me up! Oberlin High School has a problem. Some parents (I gather mostly black) are up in arms because a white teacher has been assigned to teach a course on black history. You get the picture. It’s amazing that in an article of some three hundred words, every form of weird opinion is to be found. I guess I’ll have to consider not teaching Fred Douglass, Booker T. Washington, et al, never mind slavery. You Americans continue to amuse me.

Saddam admits sons’ death

Another Saddam Hussein audio-tape is making the rounds. He is admitting that his sons are dead, he is thankful that they are martyrs, etc. He is becoming very religious in his last few days, don’t you think?

Rap retards black success

John H. McWhorter writes a wonderful essay on rap/hip-hop and the behavior it encourages. It is thoughtful and informative and concludes that those who think that hip-hop is an urgent critique of a society that produces the need for the thug persona, are wrong. Hip-hop is bad, and has the effect of holding blacks (especially) back. I am not doing justice to the piece. You must read it.   

Racial Fraud and Grutter

Peter Kirsanow writes a very good op-ed on a very important subject coming out of the Grutter decision: racial fraud (i.e., someone self-identifying himself as being of this race or that just to get some preference) is going to become an even bigger issue now. There are now rogue applicants that may destroy the "critical mass" test of the courts. These applicants to colleges may pull what the Malones pulled in trying to become firefighters in Boston. What will happen then, asks Kirsanow? Colleges will have to establish a standard for races, he thinks. Self identification may be on its way out. A few precious lines, but do read the whole thing: "All of which raises the delightful prospect of an earnest college-admissions officer in the next racial-preferences court case explaining to the jury how he determined that Tiger Woods is not entitled to a plus because Tiger’s black ancestry is cancelled out by his Asian genes." This would be amusing, if it weren’t so frightening.   

Radio Interview

I was on NPR’s WCPN (90.3) this morning out of Cleveland. Me and the editor of The Plain Dealer were back-ups to their guest, Trudy Lieberman, author of Slanting the Story: The Forces that Shape the News. Her thesis is, briefly, that right-wing think tanks dominate the policy process and these same think tanks are all funded by right-wing foundations and isn’t this an awful thing. She was especially miffed because conservative think tanks have "undue influence" and are better organized and more effective than their left-wing counterparts. She admitted that conservatives have been more succesful in shaping public opinion; but the "other side" of the story is not getting out because the right wingers are "manipulating" the news process. The right wingers even run the media, etc. You get the picture. Doug Clifton, the editor of the Plain Dealer was quite sensible about all this, and I also tried to be. My point in even bringing it to your attention is that this is just another example of sour grapes on the Left’s part; you know, why are there no Left Rush Limbaughs, etc. They haven’t had any interesting ideas in about thirty years and they are now angry. That’s really what she was talking about.

Another nab in Iraq, with steely knives and oily guns

This NY Times article recounts how our guys nabbed one of Saddam’s "lifelong bodyguards;" he had to be overpowered. They also got documents, etc. It seems to me that getting Saddam’s bodyguards (and about a dozen were nabbed just before we got Saddam’s sons) might be more important than anything else in our search for Saddam. It indicates to me that we really are getting ever closer to finding him. Also note the comment of the Colonel in charge of the operation as he described that the bodyguard struggled to get free. Was he surprised? His answer: "Were we surprised? He’s a bodyguard. That’s why we went in with our steely knives and oily guns." This well-spoken Colonel has a sense of humor.

Cultural icon passes on

No, not Bob Hope, whose death Peter noted yesterday. Erik Braunn, guitarist with Iron Butterfly, died yesterday at 52. His guitar-playing on "Inna - Gadda - Da - Vita" gave thousands of young guitarists hope. It didn’t matter how much or little talent they had. If they kept practicing those 14-minute repetitive and narcissistic solos, maybe the world would recognize their genius and give them a platinum record, too.

Intelligence gathering in Iraq

This Thomas Ricks story in the WaPo is pretty good. It seems to make clearer than anything I have seen how it is that we are getting better intelligence, and why some people think we may have turned a corner.  

Discipline and Learning

Terrence Moore explains that children need discipline before they learn. Amusing, hearing this Marine tell the story of how he couldn’t control a bunch of first graders. But, he learned.

Ashbrook Teacher Institutes

We have now completed four week-long summer institutes for teachers. You can not only get the readings and assignments, but listen to all of the sessions.

"The American Revolution and the Founding of the New Nation." Flannery and Lloyd.

"Abraham Lincoln, Slavery, and the Civil War." Owens and Morel.

American Democracy, Being Human, and the American Character." Flannery and Tucker.

"The Origins and Development of the Supreme Court." Masugi and Sikkenga.

Hillary in the lead in New Hampshire

The Boston Herald announces the results of a new poll: If Hillary Clinton were a condidate she would receive 27% of the vote, compared to Dean’s 23%. This would throw Kerry into a tailspin, with only 16%. ``Hillary would be leading the race and has higher favorable ratings than Dean . . . at this point in time,’’ said Myers of RKM Research and Communications.

Gay, bisexual and transgender school to open

New York City will open the first public gay school in the country. It is called the Harvey Milk School. One supporter says it will allow gay, bisexual, and transgender students "an opportunity to obtain a secondary education in a safe and supportive environment. ... We believe that success requires the ability to respect and value the diverse human community." I am reminded of what Churchill said about Ramsay Macdonald: "He has the gift of compressing the largest amount of words into the smallest amount of thought."

Fat equals heroin

Food now equals heroin. Wonderful. "’The combination of fat with sugar or fat with salt seems to have a very particular neurochemical effect on the brain,’ Ann Kelley, a professor at the University of Wisconsin who co-authored the unpublished study, said on the Fox News Channel. ’What that does is release certain chemicals that are similar to drugs, like heroin and morphine.’"

Yet another Napoleon

Charles Napoleon, a great-great-grandnephew of Napoleon Bonaparte (his great-grandfather changed his family’s last name from Bonaparte to Napoleon) is second deputy mayor of Ajaccio, in Corsica. This short two-page story from the NY Times is worth a look, as a sort of curioso, but not without some significance, i.e., it may help explain something of Messr de Villepin’s goofy ideas (see David A. Bell, "The Napoleon Complex: Dominique de Villepin’s idea of glory," The New Republic, April 14, 2003). Mr. Napoleon says "One cannot escape one’s history," (nor can a nation, I would add) and he is proud that his name is known all over the world. So what, so is the name of Attila the Hun, or Ghengis Khan! This left-wing politician came to Corsica from Paris, where he was born because he is "coming back to something logical, which is the presence of the Bonaparte family in Corsica." He says this about making hotel reservations: "’When I’ve called [a hotel] and said I’m `Mr. Napoleon,’ I’ve been told, `Sure, and I’m the pope,’ he said. ’That’s my heritage. What can I do?’"
He said his life is easier in the U.S. because "Americans don’t know much about history. I have to spell my name in the U.S." Needless to say, I think this reflects well on us.

Bob Hope Dies

Bob Hope passed away last night. He was 100 years old. RIP.

More on Panetta and California Recall

Peter, notice Panetta’s positive reference to nonpartisanship-- he was a Republican who switched parties (in the ’70s I believe) and then went on to become one of Clinton’s chiefs of staff. Unlike his former master, I believe he is looking for a draft. Thanks for the tip on the Panetta story; I didn’t get the LA Times this morning.

The Bush Presidency

Jonathan Rauch writes a lengthy and thoughtful piece on the Bush presidency thus far; he thinks that Bush wants to be another FDR--wartime leader, strong commander in chief--and he is being misunderstood. Rauch thinks he is playing for high stakes, and if he fails he will be another LBJ. Powerline has some good comments on this. Although see this warning from George Will.

History of Britain

Fareed Zakaria reviews Simon Schama’s A History of Britain in the N.Y. Times Book Review. Although it does not seem to be as good as his Citizens (the best book on the French Revolution, in my mind) this Schama volume might be worth a look. He emphasizes how the Brits (though not Churchill) came to misunderstand their reason for empire.

Armstrong Wins!

Lance Armstrong has now won five in a row, albeit this one was closer than he thought it would be. Well done and congratulations!

Bechtel in Iraq

This is an interesting, and perhaps surprising, report of some of the work that Bechtel is doing in Iraq: fixing up schools. Short. Informative.

Brookhiser on France

Richard Brookhiser writes a nice essay for American Heritage called "France and Us." It is a nice recollection of our early, albeit difficult, connections; of two revolutions that went in divergent directions (although he doesn’t try to explain why the French Revolution became so extreme and bloody, yet notes that it ended with a Napoleon who understood that his people wanted him to be a Washington, but his gloire couldn’t do it); and above all asks us to recollect the virtues of our true friend, the Marquis de Lafayette. Good read.  

Europe’s sluggish economy

I surprised myself by actually reading (never mind fully understanding, for the moment) this article from New Left Review, of all places, trying to figure out why Europe’s economy (compared to Britain and America especially) is still sucking pond water, and why it is bound to continue it’s unimpressive performance into the immediate future. There might be a few of you green-eye-shade- types who will even get more out of this than I have.

Poll in Baghdad

The Spectator claims to have conducted a poll in Iraq about a week ago. Whether or not it is a so-called scientific poll is not especially relevant; see how they lay it out. Here is the PDF file (just two pages) of the details. Worth a look. In all it is quite promising.

Europe’s Constitution

And, speaking of bad constitutions, here is George Will’s take on the effort of Europe to craft one: It’s a mess; they should have studied the Constitution of the U.S.  

California matters

This is Leon Panetta’s take on the politics of California. He doesn’t get it, of course. You wanted progressive politics (initiative, referendum, recall, government by experts, and so called non-partisanship) and you got it. Now try to deal with it. I hope you will not be able to, and maybe we can begin crawling back toward some limitation, toward some form of constitutionalism. And I don’t mean the current California Constitution, which is the world’s third largest (after India and Lousiana) and has been amended over 500 times since 1879. For more on California politics, and especially the Progressive movement’s effect on it, see Brian P. Janiskee and Ken Masugi, Democracy in California: Politics and Government in the Golden State. And Gray Davis, to no one’s surprise, is going to try to make sure that the recall is not about him but about the right wing’s agenda for California.

Strategic Overview of the War

Steven Den Beste has a long (but in outline form) overview of the war. Very thoughtful. 

The Brazen Drazen on Law and Medicine

In case you missed it, Jeffrey M. Drazen, editor of the renowned New England Journal of Medicine, published an editorial last week calling for papers on stem-cell research, and pleading with Congress to relax its position on the subject. In an interview about the piece, Drazen said: "[w]e wanted to go on record on this. At this point, stem cell research technology is likely to be developed outside the US, and we’re going to be missing out on that technical know-how. The best and the brightest will be going out of the country to do this sort of work. We would hope that people will understand that you can’t legislate away scientific progress."

As an initial matter, yes, in fact, we can and have legislated away so-called "scientific progress," but the bigger question, it seems to me, is whether the U.S. should care that certain scientists might leave to pursue certain kinds of research.

A Job Weldon(e)

The Family Research Council reported the following legislative initiative offered in the House of Representatives by Congressman Weldon of Florida:

Copy Rights? Rep. Weldon Clamps Down on Cloning Patent

After months of debate, Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) has finally driven a
stake through the heart of the pro-cloning movement. Late last night,
as part of a voice vote, Dr. Weldon successfully added a human patenting
amendment to the Commerce/Justice/State Appropriations bill (HR 2799).
The amendment states that no funds made available by the
act may be "used to issue patents on claims directed to or encompassing
a human organism." You may remember that two years ago the U.S.
government gave the University of Missouri both property and
intellectual rights to cloning technology, and a controversy has since
ensued--giving rise to speculation that our country was in an ethical
free fall. However, passage of the Weldon amendment marks the first
time the House has taken a position that humans are not merchandise or
property that can be licensed, purchased, or sold. Surely few
scientists will want to devote their resources to cloning projects
without the assurance that they alone would be legally entitled to their
work and credited with future findings. Dr. Weldon, a pro-life champion
and friend, believes--as we do--that human embryos are people whose
copyright belongs to the Almighty. We will continue to work alongside
him to ensure that they receive full protection under the law.

All sounds vaguely similar to a certain article posted here just a few weeks ago.

Transcripts of the amendment’s offering read in part:"[i]t is important that we, as a civilized society, draw the line where some rogue scientists fail to exercise restraint. Just because something can be done does not mean that it should be done. A patent on such human organisms would last for 20 years. We should not allow such researchers to gain financially by granting them an exclusive right to practice such ghoulish research. Long-standing American patent and trademark policy states that human beings at any stage of development are not patentable, subject to matters under 35 U.S.C. section 101. Though current policy would not issue patents on human embryos, Congress has remained silent on this subject. Though this amendment would not actually ban this practice, it is about time that Congress should simply reaffirm current U.S. patent policy and ensure there is not financial gain or ownership of human beings by those who engage in these activities."

Bravo, Mr. Weldon!

Health Care and Race

Reuters has reported that "[h]ealth officials may be wrong in attempts to match health care and especially drugs with race, because genetically there is no such thing," according to gene experts. Those experts "praised the U.S. Food And Drug Administration for trying to formulate guidance that would take genetics into account when testing drugs, but said using simple notions of race was not the way to go." According to the report, "Several teams of scientists have found that there are more genetic differences among Africans from different regions, for example, than there are between Africans and Europeans." Thus, several geneticists have argued that "self-reported race is irrelevant. ’It would be inaccurate to check off any one box on the U.S. census if you were African-American or Caucasian because to some degree we all admixed . . . . Six million people have actually changed, between censuses, their racial classification, so we are using social constructs to try and define very important scientific issues.’" Their conclusion: "Better to design individual genetic tests to use on a patient-by-patient basis." Imagine that, one less reason for government programs to consider race.

Birds and Bees

If you’re interested in science’s on-going sexual revolution, MSNBC has this synopsis of where we’re at and where we might be going.

9/11 Report

Here is the Report (PDF Format) "Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001." Careful before priting, it’s very long.

Armstrong set to win

Lance Armstrong increased his lead slightly over Ullrich in the drama-packed time trial. And that should be that!

Dead Bodies, to show or not to show

This WaPo newstory is just one example among many (never mind what passes for TV reporting on it) articles that keep repeating that many Iraqis don’t believe that Saddam’s sons are dead, or that we shouldn’t have shown the bodies, or that we shouldn’t have touched them up, etc. Yes, "many" Iraqis will say such things, and many Germans (30% of those under thirty) think that we blew up the two towers. So what? Why is this a newstory? The day before the bodies were shown the story was that many Iraqis demanded that the bodies be shown. I saw one Iraqi say into a camera that he would prefer that the bodies be dragged behind a truck through Baghdad and then he would believe it! I saw Howard Nachman (I think that’s his name) a couple of nights ago, before the bodies were shown, on MSNBC say that we have to have a multicultural perspective on all this (he was in favor of showing the bodies): Their culture demands some gruesome things (by our standards) and we should--to be multi-cultural--accomodate them, show the bodies, that’s what they will believe. His interlocutor said something like this, yup, their culture is more barbaric than ours, to which Nachman said "Oh, no, that’s exactly wrong, it’s just different." My point is that both what passes for news stories is deplorable (that is, we are not learning anything) and the commentary is either silly or as dull as a Hungarian trying to philosophize.

Dalls Morning News, new blog

The Dallas Morning News has a new blog and Rod Dreher writes much of it. Worth a look. (via Stuart Buck.)

David Brooks to write for the New York Times

The New York Times announced yesterday that David Brooks will write two op-eds a week starting in September. Could this be a sign that the NYT is going to get better? Yet, no doubt, Krugman and Dowd will continue to write. But it’s a start.

Rantings of the elite mob

Victor Davis Hanson has a nice synopsis of what he calls hysteria Americana among the elite mob. Pretty effective.  

More News of the Weird

The Associated Press today carries a story about a parish priest in New Mexico who is being sued for his eulogy at a recent funeral. It seems the priest said at the funeral that the recently deceased was headed for Hell. The family was not pleased. If it goes to trial, I look forward to the priest using truth as a defense.

Freak Show Follies, Chapter 1

Ken Masugi rightly forecasts that the California recall "jungle" ballot could turn into a freak show that hands victory to Davis. This morning’s paper brings the first indication this prospect: Michael Huffington is thinking of joining the race.

He would be a terrible candidate, the more so now that he is divorced from the brains of his earlier political career, Arianna. Of course, some people are urging Arianna to make the race herself, and since she kept her married family name, we could have a ballot with TWO Huffingtons on it. Maybe that’s why he’s talking about making the race--to try to keep her out, or to split the Huffington vote--a la Palm Beach County--if she does.

Stay tuned; the weirdness is just beginning.

Recall Thoughts

Steve and Eric have given us a lot to consider here. I have the same ambivalence, maybe worse, because I think Governor Gray has a good chance of getting out of this stronger than ever, with the Republicans weaker and more disspirited than ever. I hate to say it, but the Terminator appears to be the best chance to get Davis out of office. Former Governor Pete Wilson’s folks are behind him, and that is not good news for conservatives. The more divided the field, the better the chance for the Republicans to prevail in casting out Davis. My prediction right now, if neither the Terminator nor DiFi enters the race, is that Davis stays. For a bunch of thoughtful blogs on this issue see the Claremont Institute’s blogsite,
The Remedy
over the past few weeks.

The Racial Privacy Initiative, Ward Connerly’s act barring state collection of racial data, could bring out Democratic votes from blacks and Hispanics.

I predict a lot of race-ethnicity mongering by the Dems, as part of a desperation bring-out-the-vote tactic.

Recall, con’t

It is hard to disagree with Eric’s analysis of the situation. My standard line (being a Californian) is: The initiative process is unsound; thank God for the initiative process! The same can be said of this recall. The populist corner of my soul loves the insult to the political class that the recall represents. In that sense there is some health in it.

Although I am critical of the initiative process in the abstract, I say "thank God" for it on practical grounds, since initiatives have been crucial in advancing conservative policy in California. Without the initiative process, California would be worse off than New York--i.e., even higher taxes, etc.

We wouldn’t be in this budget mess if Reagan’s Proposition 1--a comprehensive tax and spending limitation initiative--had passed in 1973. It was just a little bit ahead of its time, and the liberals managed to beat it back. Colorado passed a similar measure a few years ago. Guess which state today doesn’t have any budget problems? Colorado.

California recall, the opportunities

This is a devil’s-advocate response to Peter’s piece (below) and Steven’s NRO Corner piece about the recall. I agree with everything Peter and Steven say about the recall and the initiative at the level of political principle. It debases democratic government because it sucks the republicanism out of it. But I don’t think I agree with the proposition that it’s bad tactics for Republicans to use the recall when they hold the cards. This is a close call. It’s not a question of high theory but of prudence. Let me offer a few prudential considerations that cut against Steven’s arguments.

First, I don’t think conservatives keep any long-term advantage by playing by Marquis-of-Queensbury rules. If the liberals perceive any opportunity to use the recall as Steven suggests, they’ll seize that opportunity no matter how forbearing conservatives are now. Second, even though California is trending Democratic, the electorate is still more conservative than the interests in Sacramento. That makes me doubt how successful liberal interest groups could be over the long haul using the recall as a weapon.

Probably the most important, and hardest to judge, consideration to me is this. Prudence requires conservatives to judge not only (1) how best to do win so as to do good on substantive issues and not only (2) how to make the best of a bad constitutional politics but also (3) whether there is any way to improve the constitutional politics. Let us assume California conservatives know how to make principled arguments against the initiative and the recall. (Big "if," I admit, because few Californians outside of Claremont can make these arguments.) The only way to make those arguments sink in for a broad majority in the state is to force liberals to taste some of their own Progressive medicine.

My precedent here is the federal post-Watergate Independent Counsel statute. Conservatives said that this was another Progressive-style abomination, that it weakened and distracted the President, gave Congress a hammer to bully Presidential appointees, and wouldn’t do any good in cases in which the President was going to be prosecuted because the prosecution was political anyway. (For a refresher, read Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion in Morrison v. Olson.) The Supreme Court ignored all this in Morrison. So did liberals in Congress -- until after Judge Starr investigated President Clinton. After that debacle, the OIC statute died a quiet and deserved death. The recall would be harder to get rid of, but a prudent statesman at least ought to consider trying.

Ice Cream and other dangerous stuff

Ice cream is bad for you. Is anyone surprised by this? This has been all over TV for two days, as if it were a truly interesting story. Who makes up this stuff? Why is it that the food fascists have to go under names like The Center for Science in the Public Interest? And why is it taken seriously? We know that things that taste good may be bad for you; that’s nature way of making sure that you end up paying the one death you owe God. So let us do it our own way, stop babysitting, for Heaven’s sake! Check this out: "The CSPI said an empty Ben & Jerry’s chocolate-dipped waffle cone, designed to hold at least two scoops of ice cream, itself packs 320 calories and 10 grams or half a day’s worth of saturated fat.

’If you put a regular scoop of Chunky Monkey ice cream in that cone, it is going to be worse for you than (a) one-pound rack of baby back ribs, with with 820 calories and 30 grams of saturated fat,’ CSPI nutritionist Jayne Hurley told a news conference to publicize the study." Ghastly facts, just ghastly!

And then there is this warning: "Eating while you drive is one of the most distracting things you can do, according to several recent surveys by insurance companies and data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)." Some of the most dangerous foods to eat while driving include: "Soft drinks. Prone to spills and sudden fizzing if car makes sudden movements. Cola fizz in the nose is perilous while driving." Also, "Chocolate. Tempting but treacherous. Try to clean it off the steering wheel and you’re likely to end up swerving." Gee, that’s a public service. Thanks.

Good economic news

Another sign that the economy is reviving: The number of American workers signing up for jobless benefits plunged last week to the lowest level in five months.

Qusay and Uday Photos

Here is the CNN version of the photos; pretty ugly head shots. And then Reuters (via ABC News) runs a story that begins like this: " Iraqis said on Thursday they were not convinced by photographs of the bodies of Saddam Hussein’s sons and demanded the corpses should be dragged through the streets as proof the feared brothers were dead." Perhaps this is not surprising when considered with the fact that there are some American Congressmen screeching that we are now in the asssination game; and then consider this poll from Germany: " Almost one in three Germans below the age of 30 believes the U.S. government may have sponsored the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, according to a poll published on Wednesday." I guess the world is mad (or maybe it’s just Old Europe)....

California Recall, the dangers

Our own Steve Hayward is guest-blogging at The Corner for the next few weeks, and he has already said some interesting things about the California recall of Davis. I quote a few paragraphs because they are good and I agree with them (surprise!): "...[T]he Davis recall is not grounded on any particularly conservative principle. Quite the opposite: The recall, and the California initiative process generally, are outgrowths of the Progressive Era in California, and are intended to make government more ’populist’ or ’democratic.’ The irony of course is that the initiative proces has mostly served conservative policy goals over the last generation in California, starting with Prop 13 and running through Prop 209 (ending racial preferences), term limits (though this is a dubious idea at best), a state version of the Defense of Marriage Act, etc. But conservatives’ fondness for these Progressive devices in California have caused them to abandon or forget deeper principles about how republican government ought to operate.

"If successful, the recall is likely to lead to the de facto transformation of California into something like a parliamentary democracy. In the future, whenever a governor’s popularity swoons (Pete Wilson’s polls were very bad in 1992 and 1993), the liberal special interest groups are likely to try the recall route themselves; they have more money and organization than the right in California. Having done it once, Californians might get used to doing it over and over again--a populist/Progressive form of a ’no-confidence’ vote, and the elevation of a new prime minister. In a state that is likely to remain dominated by Democrats, the recall may come back to haunt Republicans for years to come."

California news source

By the way, for No Left Turns readers who want to keep up on the recall and other California political news, the Rough & Tumble site is an excellent one-stop location, run by the very enterprising Jack Cavanaugh in Sacramento.

Gray Davis, Hopeless Nerd

The Davis recall election has just been set for October 7. Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante, who set the election date by law, is playing games about whether there will be a second vote to replace Davis. If there is no second vote, then he would become governor by default. This is not likely to happen; the law seems fairly clear that a second, replacement vote must be held at the same time. But you never know with lawyers.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports today on Davis’s daily diet. He has a tofu shake with fresh berries for breakfast, and lunch consists of a turkey sandwich (but without cheese!) and steamed broccoli.

That ought to be reason enough to recall the guy. Sounds too much like the other governor for whom he once worked, Jerry Brown.

Democratic Woes Continue

The latest Quinnipiac University national poll shows the depths of the problem that the current crop of Democratic candidates for the presidency face. Joe Lieberman leads the pack with only 21 percent of the vote. However, when not-yet-candidate Hillary Clinton is factored in, Lieberman gets only 11 percent, while Hillary Clinton gets 48 percent. If this sort of support continues for Hillary--in comparison to other Demo candidates--either she will enter the race or, any other Democratic nominee will be certain to lose against Bush for lack of a firm base.

Edward Teller, American

Edward Teller, the Hungarian-born scientist who was in large measure responsible for winning the Cold War will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Teller is 95 years old, although his body is faling, his mind is still sharp. John J. Miller wrote a profile of this smart and good man for National Review last year that is very much worth reading. Miller concludes that if there is ever an argument for cloning, this just might be the guy who should get cloned. I have had the pleasure of meeting Teller a number of times and I concur with Miller’s portrayal of this good, and much maligned, American. May his good deeds continue to shine in this naughty world.

Iraqi matters and politics

Steven Den Beste is able to explain in brief why we are in Iraq trying to build a new nation (it’s in our interest) and how it’s going (pretty well). He is also convinced that we will stick with it. Deborah Orin explains why the Democrats are in danger of developing an electoral strategy based on bad news from Iraq. And Bill Kristol explains in today’s Washington Post why the words of Richard Gephardt are decisive for the future of the Democratic Party. In claiming that we are less safe and secure than we were four years ago, "Gephardt has made a claim that will come back to haunt him and his fellow Democrats."

Wolfowitz on Iraq

This is a transcript of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz’s press conference after returning from Iraq. It makes for good reading and, while he admits to some minor failures or oversights and how some things didn’t go according to the original plans, his overall evaluation is both thoughtful and optimistic. This is not a decription of a quagmire. I believe him.

Democratic Party Problems

David Lightman writes an interesting and detailed article on the Demos money woes in the Hartford Courant. California Governor Gray Davis is planning a tough but risky counterattack against the campaign to oust him. Clinton opponents are trying to open a museum near the Clinton Library that would debunk his presidency. Dick Morris claims that if Bush’s numbers continue to drop, Hillary will get in the 2004 race. In the meantime, Howard Dean leads in the California Field Poll. He has 16% of the vote; double of what he had in April. I wonder what percentage Hillary would have gotten if she were in it? And then there is Ohio. This Plain Dealer article says that Ohio Demos may be re-evaluating their opposition to Jerry Springer.

California Demos caught on tape

Katheryn Jean Lopez at The Corner brought this mischief to my attention. Do have a look; it’s short, but meaningful.

A Bad Man in Africa

Anthony Daniels wrote a good piece on the tyrant Charles Taylor a few weeks back that is worth reading. It comes from New Criterion’s new blog called Armavirumque, and it is worth a look. Good name, by the way, and I am betting that it is not meant to evoke George Barnard Shaw’s play Arms and the Man, but rather Virgil’s opening words in the Aeneid, which in turn evokes the war in the Iliad and the start of the Odyssey.

Shift in Strategy

Thomas Ricks of the WaPo explains how the shift in military strategy may be bearing fruit in Iraq. The start is worth quoting in full: "After weeks of difficult searching for the top targets on the U.S. government’s list of most-wanted Iraqi fugitives, U.S. military commanders two weeks ago switched the emphasis of their operations, focusing on capturing and gathering intelligence from low-level members of former president Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party who had been attacking American forces, according to military officials.

That shift produced a flood of new information about the location of the Iraqi fugitives, which came just before today’s attack in which Hussein’s two sons were killed by U.S. forces in the northern city of Mosul, the officials said.

"We shifted our focus from very high-level personalities to the people that are causing us damage," Gen. John P. Abizaid, the new commander of the U.S. military in the Middle East, said in an interview last weekend. Later, he told reporters in Baghdad: ’In the past two weeks, we have been getting the mid-level leadership in a way that is effective.’

The captured Baathists provided much new detail about their organization and contacts, officials here said. Some gave information about their financing and their means of communication, they added. Others identified members of their networks. Some described the routes and contacts that fugitive leaders were using. Threats to ship the recalcitrant captives to the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay on the eastern end of Cuba were especially helpful in encouraging them to talk, officials said."

Iran’s admission

The defense minister of Iran, just two days after President Bush’s verbal assault against the country, has admitted to holding a number of high level al-Qaida members.

Nuclear Terror

James Woolsey, former CIA chief, writes a long essay on the terror war and says that we should remain very tough. Graham Allison, of the Kennedy School, reminds us of what our greatest fear: nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists (via Russia, Pakistan, and North Korea) and that the Bush administration is not yet fully focused on this potential horror; there is no strategy to combat it. Now that’s an issue the Democrats could bring up to their advantage, as well as the country’s. I bet they won’t.

Clinton on Iraqi matters

Kevin Whited, at reductioadabsurdum quotes extensively from former president Clinton’s comments to Larry King last night on Iraq in general and the carping about the uranium sentence specifically. Worth a read. Kevin is right to call Clinton statesmanlike in all this. Good for him. It should be considered a warning to the Democrats who are running to the far-Left because Clinton has better political instincts than all of them put together; he never mistakes tactics for strategy, note this: "We should be pulling for America on this. We should be pulling for the people of Iraq. We can have honest disagreements about where we go from here, and we have space now to discuss that in what I hope will be a nonpartisan and open way."   

General Sanchez’s report

Here is report on General Ricardo Sanchez’s press conference of this morning on the details of the killing of Saddam’s sons.

Saddam’s sons III

Ralph Peters argues that the death of the two sons of Saddam is more significant than the fall of Baghdad. While I am not so sure about that, I do agree that it is significant. It is the penultimate step in actually moving Iraq into a new regime; finding Saddam will be the last step. It is beyond question that people still fear Saddam and his regime; that fear will decline a lot with the death of these two tyrants. It will end with the death of Saddam and then the habit of fear will eventually end. Also, this apparently well executed action puts a temporary halt to the left/media’s overly critical and pessimistic view of both developments within Iraq and the petty carping regarding Bush’s sixteen words on uranium. This proves, among other things, that the special forces guys have been diligently seeking and killing the tyrants and criminals, and we are reminded of it. There have been no press stories on this in part because the special ops guys do not talk to anyone, and in part because journalists are too lazy and misdirected to do some real reporting and hard reporting on these matters.

The killing of the two sons clearly helps to refocus the conversation on more important things, even though some of the carpers must be dissapointed by the good news out of Iraq. Although you wouldn’t know that from a speech that Gephardt gave yesterday in San Francisco, in which he said many stupid things, including this: "George Bush has left us less safe and less secure than we were four years ago, the Bush-Cheney bravado has left us isolated in the world." Gephardt is making a large mistake. I also saw Terry MacAuliffe on TV two nights ago saying (screeching, really) something to the effect that we can’t trust Bush on anything now that we know that he mislead us on the Africa uranium issue; Bush misleads and lies on everything from taxes to medicare to Iraq, he said.
MacAuliffe, Gephardt and the others think they are smelling blood because Bush’s popularity has been hurt by the recent and continuous carping, so they are going way over the top. This will prove to be a mistake, as Bill Kristol has pointed out.

Saddam’s Sons Killed in U.S. Raid

United States Central Command confirmed today that Uday and Qusay Hussein were killed in an operation led by the 101st Airborne and special forces in Mosul, Iraq. The Washington Post has more details here.

Michael Moore, Humbug

Kay S. Hymowitz writes a lengthy piece in the current issue of City Journal about the mendacity of Michael Moore. It is comprehensive, detailed, and a real howler. I sort of knew that this guy was a fool, but the truth is it’s a lot more than that. He is a brazen-faced liar, a lousy knave, an ass, a secure ass, and his guts are made of puddings! It is worth a read over strong coffee or a couple of shots of Jack Daniels.    

BBC crisis

Biased-BBC follows the credibility crisis of the BBC, and it is not merely related to WMD issue in Iraq. Andrew Sullivan is covering it as well, and he is very hopeful that this will shake up the BBC, much like the Jayson Blair crisis shook up the New York Times. The Guardian, no less, is reporting that there are cracks in the BBC already showing; there may be staff revolt brewing over the way the David Kelly source was used or misused.

Liberia, and a warning to Syria and Iraq

U.S. troops are ordered closer to Liberia. Some 10,000 people are now crammed into the US Embassy compound in Monrovia, while fighting intensifies as a shell hits the embassy, and Kofi Annan asks the US to intervene. In the meantime President Bush warns Syria and Iran to stop supporting terrorism.

Dog Empathy

Jonah Goldberg at NRO brought this WaPo story on dogs to my attention. It is worth reading, and not only because it is a report based on the research of some Hungarian scientists(!) as reported in a recent issue of Current Biology (available on line only to subscribers), but because there is something to it. Here is the start of the article: "As any poodle, spaniel or mutt owner knows, dogs have an uncanny ability to read human body language, whether it’s following a finger pointing the way to an errant tennis ball or spotting a glance that signals an imminent trip to the park.

But animal behavior experts have debated for years how much of this dogged perceptiveness is inborn and how much is learned by being raised around humans. New research, however, indicates that the capacity to communicate with humans silently through gestures and glances has become an inborn talent as a result of the thousands of years that dogs have lived, worked and played with people.

’They don’t speak like we do. But there is communication,’ said Adam Miklosi of Eotvos University in Budapest."

Armstrong, man possessed

Lance Armstrong is back in the saddle: "Riding like a man possessed, Lance Armstrong demolished his rivals in a drama-packed climb in the 15th stage of the Tour de France on Monday, recovering from a hard crash to stamp his authority on the race after two weeks of difficulties."

Idi Amin dying

Idi Amin, the brutal tyrant of Uganda, perhaps the most brutal in all of Africa, ever, (some standard, I must say) is dying. Surely the Poet had Amin in mind when he wrote: "The foot that leaves the print of blood where’er it walks." He is now in a coma in Saudi Arabia. He wants to be buried in Uganda. And he is going to be visited by his family. Should this universal wolf rest in peace?

Saddam’s Guerrillas

William Safire’s cogent op-ed by this name is worth reading. Safire says that Saddam’s strategy may be said to be based on six assumptions, which he outlines. They make sense. He also answers this question: "How best to deny Saddam’s putative return from his Elba, and to put this summer of discontent behind us?" Amir Taheri also has some insights into the current Iraqi situation that is worth a look. And Tacitus has some good news from Iraq (via Instapundit).

Gunplay is good for boys

This report out of Scotland is good news (thanks to The Remedy.) "Banning boys from playing with toy guns is futile and may even damage their development, a leading child psychologist has warned.

Confirming what many guilty parents long suspected, Penny Holland says boys will indulge in gunplay regardless of attempts by schools, nurseries and guardians to stop them.

Holland, who claims boys have fallen victim to politically correct dogma, claims that suppressing their need for boisterous play may be counter-productive.

Holland, senior lecturer in early childhood studies at London Metropolitan University, believes that boys who have been banned from playing at soldiers, pirates, or superheroes, become disruptive and live up to a ’bad boy’ image."

I am reminded of the following story. We were living in a college town California and my son was about four. We had a number of neighbors and their children over (perhaps it was a birthday party, I don’t remember) when I noticed that my son Joe had taken another boy his age by the hand and they walked down the hall toward his bedroom. I thought nothing of it until a few minutes later when I saw the boy’s mother walk toward the bedroom. And then I heard the mother scream. I ran back there as fast as possible, thinking that my son was caught in the midst of practicing cannibalism or something almost as bad. Well, here is what I found. Joe had laid out all of his toy guns on the bed (maybe six or seven) and he was proudly showing them to the boy from next door. He was kindly offering the boy the opportunity to pick one, so they could play. The wide-eyed boy was about to choose when his mother walked in. I asked her what happened, why had she screamed. She said she screamed when she saw the toy guns (she knew they were toys); she said it was the most awful thing she had ever seen. She was horrified. She grabbed her son and went home to her husband, a professor of English at the local state college. Well, I always knew she was wrong, and now modern science is proving me right.

Lance Armstrong flagging?

Lance Armstrong, by his own admission, is not doing as well as he thought he might. Although in first place in the overall standings, he has admitted that during the last few days, "something’s not going right." While this sounds ominous, note the end of the story, in which he says that he felt better today than yesterday, and quite a bit better than he did two days ago. I trust he’s right, and that he starts clicking.

Academic Pomo-babble

Robert Fulford explains how being incoherent isn’t enough in academic writing, you also have to "Make simple ideas complicated, and complicated ideas incomprehensible." Or, "The best pomo-babble requires a high level of jargon density. One word or two won’t get you there. You need four key words in any major sentence. In pomo-babble it’s appropriate to praise, for instance, a transgressive challenge to the valorization of hegemonic narrativity."  

Tyranny’s Children

Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of the just published Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, writes an op-ed on the themes of the book.   

Men and Women, different minds

Psychology Today runs a readable article on differences between the sexes. Because of certain scientific discoveries, it is now safe to claim that there are natural differences between men and women. These differences may also explain, for example, why women live longer than men, although they breakdown more. They may also explain why the Poet has Lucetta saying, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, "I have no other but a woman’s reason: I think him so because I think him so." Here are a few lines, taken out of context, but the whole is worth a look:

"The white matter in women’s brains is concentrated in the corpus callosum, which links the brain’s hemispheres, and enables the right side of the brain to pitch in on language tasks. The more difficult the verbal task, the more global the neural participation required--a response that’s stronger in females.

Women have another heady advantage--faster blood flow to the brain, which offsets the cognitive effects of aging. Men lose more brain tissue with age, especially in the left frontal cortex, the part of the brain that thinks about consequences and provides self-control."

"The difference between the sexes may boil down to this: dividing the tasks of processing experience. Male and female minds are innately drawn to different aspects of the world around them. And there’s new evidence that testosterone may be calling some surprising shots.

Women’s perceptual skills are oriented to quick--call it intuitive--people reading. Females are gifted at detecting the feelings and thoughts of others, inferring intentions, absorbing contextual clues and responding in emotionally appropriate ways. They empathize. Tuned to others, they more readily see alternate sides of an argument. Such empathy fosters communication and primes females for attachment.

Women, in other words, seem to be hard-wired for a top-down, big-picture take. Men might be programmed to look at things from the bottom up (no surprise there).

Men focus first on minute detail, and operate most easily with a certain detachment. They construct rules-based analyses of the natural world, inanimate objects and events. In the coinage of Cambridge University psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen, Ph.D., they systemize."

Dusty Baker’s dust-up

Jon Entine writes in The Wall Street Journal about this touchy subject: Dusty Baker said the other day that "blacks and Latins take the heat better than most whites." Make of this what you will, but the era of the human genome is upon us, and, while many good medical things will come from it (no doubt), there are some things about my genes I prefer not knowing.

David Kelly suicide

The suicide of David Kelly, the scientist for the British Ministry of Defence, happened because he was put under "intolerable" pressure by the government and the BBC. The BBC has admitted that Kelly was the source of its reporting on the Iraqi WMD question. Kelly had denied the charge. Tony Blair said he will not resign over the issue.

Casablanca bombing

A French Islamic convert has been accused of masterminding the Casablanca bombings in May that killed over 40 people. Morgan Meis argues why bombing Casablanca was important for al Qaeda, and what it has to do with the movie Casablanca and Rick’s Cafe American. Charming.

Zogby Poll on Bush

Zogby claims that a new poll found the following: "President George W. Bush’s job performance rating has slipped to 53% positive, his lowest since the terrorist attacks in 2001, according to a poll of 1,004 likely U.S. voters by Zogby International. His negative rating reached 46%, just under his pre-9/11 unfavorable of 49%."

Baylor University

Here is the news report on Friday’s public meeting between the Baylor administration and disgruntled alumni. I had mentioned this a few days ago; the president of Baylor is trying to do something very interesting in American higher education: creating an excellent university, while maintaining its Christian heart. Rod Dreher attended the meeting, and wrote about it at The Corner.

Iraq’s ecological decline

Jared Diamond is an interesting man on first sight(see his "Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies," Norton, 1997). He is full of interesting facts about the different ways peoples have developed. That he gives too much emphasis to environmental factors in order to overcome what he thinks have been racial theories of development is understandable, yet imperfect. Human decisions (not based on race, of course) are just one of the many things he ignores. Here he focuses on Iraq and the fertile crescent and asks why it was the cradle of civilization (an accident of biogeography) and why it has declined (ecological suicide) so precipitiously. And, of course, he allows himself to pontificate about us, and what we should do about the fact that all political crises are really environmental crises. No surprise, and he becomes less interesting the more you think about what he says, but interesting enough for a quick read.

Bloom Brontosarous Bardolator

This interview with Harold Bloom is worth reading. He is rare (especially for a professor of English) in that he doesn’t talk the academic mumbo-jumbo-talk and makes very clear that he loves books, especially the best ones, and above all Shakespare. Such men are hard to find, and such men who will say in public about the corruption within English departments especially are almost impossible to find. You don’t have to agree with his interpretations of some of the great texts to have great respect for such a man; and I do. Here are a few lines, just to whet your whistle:

"Well, it’s such a complex thing. I left the English department twenty-six years ago. I just divorced them and became, as I like to put it, Professor of Absolutely Nothing. To a rather considerable extent, literary studies have been replaced by that incredible absurdity called cultural studies which, as far as I can tell, are neither cultural nor are they studies. But there has always been an arrogance, I think, of the semi-learned.

You know, the term ’philology’ originally meant indeed a love of learning—a love of the word, a love of literature. I think the more profoundly people love and understand literature, the less likely they are to be supercilious, to feel that somehow they know more than the poems, stories, novels, and epics actually know. "

"Ultimately, I feel that Shakespeare is so comprehensive and huge a consciousness that he’s inclusive not just of the Western tradition. Students and visiting scholars and friends who travel, people from all over the world, have told me about productions of Shakespeare in Indonesia, Japan, Bulgaria, and various African nations by no means Anglophonic. They tell me that the audiences, even when they are not themselves highly literate, are transfixed, because they somehow believe that Shakepeare has put them, their relatives, and their friends all upon the stage."

Presidential Medal of Freedom

The White House has released the list of the receipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom (ceremony to be on July 23rd). The list includes Jacques Barzun, James Q. Wilson, Vaclav Havel, and Edward Teller. I am especially happy to see Teller thus recognized. He has done some great work for this country and on behalf freedom, the latest being his work on missile defense. Here is an interview with Teller from about three years ago.


Seymour Hersh writes an interesting piece for The New Yorker that may be revealing about our relations (and their help with intelligence on al-Qaeda) with Syria. He starts with that incident just inside the Syrian border in which we took out a number of vehicles, and apparently, dozens of people, back in June. Although I am never sure what to make of Hirsh, he is always a good read. But put some salt in your coffee.

Taxpayers to pay for inmate’s sex change?

Is this a good example of our tax dollars at work? "In a decision that outraged state officials and prosecutors, a federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit by a convicted murderer who wants the state to pay for an operation to make him a woman can go forward."

Cherry-picking the Europeans

John C. Hulsman of the Heritage Foundation testified before the House Committee on International Relations last month about how the US should act toward Europe. He suggests "cherry-picking" our friends one at a time, and making sure that a Franco-German-Russian alliance doesn’t come about. Sound advice, in my opinion. Worth reading. It may already be working, see Joschka Fisher’s recent remarks in which he tries to distance Germany from France.

Fuming Mfume and the Cost of Candidacy

Daniel Henninger had a nice op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Friday (sorry, paper edition), entitled “The Democrats Have a Failure to Communicate.” As you may have heard, presidential hopefuls Joe Lieberman, Dick Gephardt, and Dennis Kucinich all skipped out on last week’s NAACP convention, and the NAACP was none too pleased. As Henninger put it, group president Kweisi Mfume “went ballistic,” saying that each of the absentees was now “persona non grata,” and had “political capital equivalent to confederate dollars.” Maybe it’s just as well for Kucinich et al, turns out that Al Sharpton scored highest on the applause-o-meter that night when he announced that he was the only presidential candidate to have done jail time. Inspiring, isn’t he?

Henninger makes the point, and I think it’s a good one, that Lieberman, Gephardt, and Kucinich all sent their regrets because they believed they could afford to. In the land of Democratic politics, you might say, they had confederate money to burn—or at least they thought they did. According to Henninger, this is because the Democratic Party has been replaced by “literally dozens of largely independent political groups, of which the NAACP is but one.” So, a rationally calculating presidential contender surveys the “crowded Darwinian marketplace” and tries to pick from a NASDAQ of political stocks—human rights, NARAL Pro-Choice, the Children’s Defense Fund, gay marriage, the public worker’s union, Green Peace, and the NAACP. But the candidates proved, as only Democrats and my broker could, that it’s still possible to be rational and calculating, and wrong. After all, John Kerry, who attended the event, followed Sharpton’s popular criminal history with a more rational history of his own, telling the tale of how he once became friends with a black man over in Viet Nam—seems Kerry was quite the civil rights soldier. (Inspiring, isn’t he?) And Joe Lieberman, after begging off for the evening, quickly calculated that he was now a few confederate bucks shy of his very own White House, apologized to the NAACP, and offered Kweisi Mfume a seat on the Supreme Court. Rational, calculating, and oh so wrong.

The non-scandal

Bill Kristol writes a lucid interpretation of what this uranium from Africa non-scandal is all about: It is a manifestation of George W. Bush’s genius (not Karl Rove’s) to sucker the Democratic Party (and the elite media) into a great big ocean without having any way to get back ashore. The fact that the Demos have been trying to make something out of nothing is driving them "stark, raving mad." The Demos are acting "as a pathologically disgruntled lunatic fringe," instead of making serious criticisms of either the war or how reconstruction has been carried out (which would be good for the country). Why are they acting as if they are a fringe party? Kristol: "George W. Bush’s one great and unforgivable sin, it seems, was to have acted on the judgment that Saddam Hussein was a present danger--acted, as Clinton and Gore repeatedly threatened but failed to do, the way a serious president must. At his moment of decision, the American people supported Bush. They support him still. And the fact of that support--as the Democrats’ hysterical attack on a 16-word sentence in the State of the Union suggests--is driving one of our two major political parties...stark, raving mad."

And Mark Steyn adds worthy words and claims that the Left thinks it is spilling Bush’s blood, whereas it is their own that they see flowing. Bush is as good as re-elected, Steyn claims. Charles Krauhammer also sees all this as Democratic folly.

Inverted Totalitarianism?

Sheldon S. Wolin, retired Princeton professor of politics, writes this amazing--even for a Left winger--op-ed claiming that the U.S. (because of George W. Bush, of course) is an "inverted totalitarian" state. This passes for thoughtful commentary? If you can figure out what this means, please let me know.

Tony Blair’s power of speech

Prime Minister Blair’s speech to Congress was excellent, in the highest tradition of democratic rhetoric. It was to the point, high minded, and properly impassioned. He had the words and wit, he is an orator. There were a couple of passages that were especially good, in my opinion. But do read the whole thing.

Members of Congress, if this seems a long way from the threat of terror and weapons of mass destruction, it is only to say again that the world’s security cannot be protected without the world’s heart being (one/won? ). So America must listen as well as lead. But, members of Congress, don’t ever apologize for your values. (Applause.) Tell the world why you’re proud of America. Tell them when "The Star-Spangled Banner" starts, Americans get to their feet -- Hispanics, Irish, Italians, Central Europeans, East Europeans, Jews, Muslims, white, Asian, black, those who go back to the early settlers, and those whose English is the same as some New York cab drivers I’ve dealt with -- (laughter) -- but whose sons and daughters could run for this Congress. Tell them why Americans, one and all, stand upright and respectful. Not because some state official told them to, but because whatever race, color, class or creed they are, being American means being free. That’s why they’re proud. (Cheers, sustained applause.)

That’s what we’re fighting for, and it’s a battle worth fighting. And I know it’s hard on America. And in some small corner of this vast country, out in Nevada or Idaho or these places I’ve never been to but always wanted to go -- (laughter) -- I know out there, there’s a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, "Why me, and why us, and why America?" And the only answer is because destiny put you in this place in history in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do. (Sustained applause.)

Another interesting federal court nomination?

The Washington Post reports that President Bush is thinking of nominating California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. This would mean that another thoughtful conservative could be left hanging by the liberals, since the appointment would no doubt be seen as a way station to the Supremes.

Comment on Tucker

I bring to your attention a comment by E. Michael Kajca on the David Tucker column mentioned below (in case you are not habitually reading the comments section): "Tucker has an excellent point. The way the administration has defended itself has been deplorable. What their defense has done is fuel the fire. Furthermore, from everything I have read and studied the information provided by the Brits may not have been altogether wrong in the first place. I have read statements by the IAEA that seem as though their inspectors investigated Iraq with the idea that they were innocent regarding their nuclear program. For example: The IAEA admits that Iraq has aluminium tubes, high-strength permanent magnets, flow forming capability but that Iraq claims to be using these materials for something other than reconstituting their nuclear program. Yeah, well, I suppose Manson says he isn’t crazy either. As to the uranium claim it appears that there is no denying that Iraq could not have attempted to buy yellowcake, only that the particular claim appear unlikely. The point is that IAEA can no more say the materials are not for nuclear purposes than they could say that they are for such practices. Thus, Tucker’s point of the doctrine of pre-emption is very legitimate. It would appear to me that the intelligence community would be wise to keep their options open. As oppose to hearing what the IAEA says and giving up on it, as the left has done. But, of course, their whole cry is less on reality than it is discrediting the president. Bush needs to be more direct and forceful in his defense of this whole issue."

Advice for Rumsfeld

Mac Owens pontificates at some length on what the relationship between the military and and the civilian authorities should be (i.e., the civilians should control the military). Yet, he has some wise words for Rumsfeld: imitate Churchill and Lincoln more than you do. Rummy should pay attention when good advice comes from a friend.   

The real intelligence problem

Jim Hoagland writes of the real intelligence problem that exists, and the one the Bush administration is not handling well. He has a point. This should be read in conjunction with David Tucker’s admonition to the administration that I mentioned the other day.

Is a Christian university possible?

Rod Dreher writes an op-ed in The Dallas Morning News on Baylor University and the possibility of a university maintaining its Christian identity. Dr. Sloan, the president, wants to strenghthen Baylor’s identity as a Christian institution, even as he pushes to make it a nationally ranked research university. Dreher writes: "What Dr. Sloan actually is undertaking is an audacious and much-needed experiment in American higher education and religious life. The tide of 20th-century secularism washed away entirely the religious identities of historically Protestant universities like Harvard, Yale, Duke and Vanderbilt and dramatically eroded the distinct vision of Catholic colleges. That was likely to be Baylor’s future, too. As Dr. Sloan told me, ’If you’re not intentional about your identity, you can’t maintain it. I’ve never seen a school slide into Christian orthodoxy.’"

"Echoing a scholarly Christian conviction as old as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, Dr. Sloan refuses to accept the dominant post-Enlightenment view that faith and reason are mutually exclusive. Baylor 2012 is his bold attempt to show how they are complementary and how a religious university can speak to the broader culture from an intellectually sound but morally distinct vantage point. The plan doesn’t impose dogma on scholarly inquiry but tries, in the tradition of Christian humanism, to ask how the knowledge mined in various academic disciplines fits into the broad Christian vision – and vice versa." Very good stuff.


Democratic Misrepresentations

Edward Koch, the former Democratic mayor of New York, agrees with me that the Democrats are doing something very foolish indeed by trying to make (literally, in this case) a federal issue whether or not Saddam "sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Instapundit goes further and calls them "stupid." And Max Boot gets into Clinton’s attacks on the Sudan in 1998 and Senator Biden’s defense. Quite a story, and a good time to remember it. Clifford May nails the whole thing to the wall by pointing out the simplest of facts: the Democrats are misrepresenting what Bush actually said. This whole things should be an embarrasment to both the Democrats and the elite media that has gone into a crisis mode over it. And, as John Podhoretz points out, while it may be to the Demos tactical advantage to call Bush a liar, it cannot be to their long-range advantage, and they will suffer for it. He explains why.

Out of the Closet on Gay Marriage

Democratic presidential candidate, Dennis Kucinich, just
his support for gay marriage. Not much of a surprise really—he’s been running hard left from the get-go—except that as a congressional contender in 1996, Kucinich opposed changing the law to allow same-sex marriage. His reason for the flip-flop: gay issues were not in the headlines that year. But now, of course, headlines being as they are these days, Kucinich says “there should be a federal law that would allow gay couples to be married.” Ahh, sweet liberalism—there ought to be a law, and it ought to be federal. Why? Well, because “[w]e cannot have states making separate rules with respect to basic human rights,” according to Kucinich.

Someone should probably tell him that states already make their own “separate” marriage rules. But, alas, he’s only a congressman.

Judge Proctor’s Gamble II

An NLT reader asks, “if soliciting sodomy from a member of the same sex is freedom of expression, then what about other forms of sex from any gender? How could the Lawrence decision become this broad?” Indeed, it would seem only logical under Judge Proctor’s ruling that solicitation from any gender would also be a protected form of speech or expression—in fact, if his ruling only applied to sodomy solicitation, it would likely violate the Equal Protection Clause. How could Lawrence become this broad? Simple. Lawrence has no limits. In taking “transcendent liberty” with the Constitution, the Supreme Court, to borrow from David Currie, may have finally found a decision that allows it to strike down any law it doesn’t like.

Intelligence Matters

David Tucker argues that in this controversy surrounding the Bush administration’s use of intelligence to justify the war in Iraq, lies one critical issue: the doctrine of preemption. Must read.   

What Gay Studies Taught the Court

Rick Perlstein has an interesting piece praising the new academic "discipline" of gay studies. He argues that it had a lot to do with influencing Kennedy’s opinion in Lawrence, and overthrowing the Court’s opinion about such matters in Bowers, decided in 1986. I submit this not because I think Lawrence was well decided, it was not, but rather because Perlstein shows how academics (even in a non-discipline) still control the flow of events and the arguments. The fact that Perlstein thinks this is a good thing, and agrees with Lawrence is not to the point.


John Fonte has a good piece at NRO on immigration policy, specifically he beats up on the idea that there is a fundamental right to free immigration and argues that the American people, through consent, have a right to restrict immigration as a matter of policy and national interest. He argues, correctly, that the Foundes understood this and uses Thomas G. West’s book to great effect.  

Tex Schramm dies

Tex Schramm (no relation) has died. Schramm built the Dallas Cowboys into a great team. For a while--in my youth and in Tex’s heyday--I took advantage of our common last name for, well, some selfish if not nefarious purposes. I remember a few introductions to, well, ladies, who, when they heard my last name would at least talk to me, for a while. It didn’t last. But I hope Tex’s accomplishments do.

Judge Proctor’s Gamble

Well, that didn’t take long. Three weeks, tops. Despite liberal assurances to the contrary, the Charlotte Observer reports that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Lawrence decision has just been extended to include public solicitation. So much for privacy being, well, private. North Carolina district judge Nate Proctor has not only declared his state’s sodomy law unconstitutional, but has found that after Lawrence “the act of soliciting sodomy is an issue of free speech and personal expression.”

And to think we were afraid of a little slippery slope.

Overstatement on everything insignificant

This David Broder column is a perfect example of overstatement and exageration in politics. I am not really holding Broder responsible for causing this, it is merely that this column so perfectly reflects the views (and passions) of both the elite media and the Demo presidential candidates. It is fascinating how Bush’s not insgnificant trip to Africa was intentionally overshadowed by the uranium buzz. Then before that it was the WMD buzz, and so on. To go from item to item--in an attempt to to de-authorize Bush by de-legitimizing some specific decisions he made (or words he used) when there are much larger and politically more interesting and substantive issues that really are arguable--is a sign of political tactics replacing political strategy. Bush’s opponents have placed themselves in the unenviable position of trying to question Bush’s motives, integrity, and character, rather than raising important truly political questions (e.g., are we handling the Iraqi military-political situation well, etc). I predict, contrary to Broder, that this method will not go very far at all, indeed, it will backfire on Bush’s opponents because they cannot establish, especially on foreign policy, a greater share of the citizen’s trust than Bush can for their motives and integrity are more deeply in doubt than that of Bush or any member of his cabinet. This is not the way politics should be conducted.

Bruce Cole

Tom Diemer writes a good front-page article on Bruce Cole, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, in today’s Plain Dealer. It’s a pretty good overview of Cole’s thinking about our "collective amnesia," and so on. Also note that Cole is from Ohio, went to school here, and rides (or rode) motorcycles, prefering Nortons and Triumphs. Good man. 

"the most beautiful revolution"

Today is Bastille Day, I just remembered. So without prolonging the agony, let us just remind ourselves that Robespierre thought that the French revolution was "the most beautiful revolution that has ever honored humanity." Well, I have a different idea of beauty, I guess. The carnage of the revolution was its logical consummation, not incidental to it. Besides, it produced Napoleon, while our lovelier revolution produced the US Constitution and George Washington. I think even Napoleon understood the difference. So, happy Batille Day; wish I could write that in French!

New York Times

Bill Keller has been named the editor of The New York Times. And see Andrew Sullivan’s comments on the Howell Raines interview by Charly Rose, in which Raines proves he is both vapid and foolish, not to say vainglorious.

Iraqi Uranium purchase

Robert Novak may shed some more light on the origin of the Iraqi attempt to purchase uranium from Africa. And here is the Leiby/Pincus story from the July 6th WaPo. All this aside, the political and elite media reaction to this is another story which I hope to comment upon within a week or so; I want to see some things play out first.

Professor wins

Buffalo chip throwing contest. Notice the headwind problem.

A Soldier’s Story

A Gettysburg grave and a Marine in one of Saddam’s palaces ending a long lost search. A fine story, worth a good coffee, and five minutes of peace.   

Elections in Mexico

Vincente Fox’s party loses 49 seats in the election. This is not good news, in my humble opinion.

Iraq attracting al-Qaeda?

Al-Qaeda are taking credit for the attacks on Americans in Iraq. If it is true that they are being attracted to Iraq--as has been pointed out before--this could be a very good and useful thing; if we are prepared. But note that US Intelligence plays down the claim.

Ugly German

Ralph Peters has a fun piece on the recent exchange of words between Germans and Italians, and cancelled vacations. I love this line: "Forget the fact that the German contribution to the Renaissance was the realization that you could fit more beer in a bigger mug. The Germans still regard Italians as Untermenschen, fit to run a neighborhood pizzeria, but not to have an equal say in the future of Europe."  

Flannery in the NY Times

Christopher Flannery makes not only an appearance in The New York Times, but a lengthy one (see "Can Anyone Put a Zing Into Liberal Radio?"). His Claremont Review of Books article entitled "No Limbaughs on the Left" is quoted to good effect.

Dull Old Europe

Christopher Hitchens writes a short review of Patrick McCarthy’s Language, Politics, and Writing: Stolentelling in Western Europe. He reveals (and regrets) its dull and vapid tone and points: "But what his collection of essays illustrates is something insufficiently remarked upon: the evolution of the European left into a status quo force, somewhat inclined to sit out the storm and to content itself with essentially voyeuristic comments on the brashness of the United States. (The great exception, if it is indeed to be counted as a ’left’ one, is Tony Blair, who receives only the most superficial mention here.) I was once as happy as anyone to sit with McCarthy and to discuss Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks or the ambiguities of Sartre’s Les Tempes Modernes. I still enjoy these pursuits, though they occasionally strike me now as comparable to well-conducted tours of Atlantis. Perhaps that’s why the cultivated guides have such a marked tendency to gurgle, as they make their appointed rounds."

The Huah Life

David Brooks reviews David Lipsky’s Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point. It sounds as if the book is worth reading.

US uses Iraqi swimming pool

If this report is true, we should immediately vacate the pool or at least make sure the Iraqi athletes have the use of it whenever they need it.

Response to Professor Volokh, II

We turn now to Professor Volokh’s first posting concerning our article, in which he suggests that we were a bit cavalier in suggesting that the good Lord wouldn’t approve of harvesting eggs from aborted fetuses to create new fetuses, nor mixing male and female genes into a kind of hybrid genetic cocktail.

Our point was largely intended as a slap—and a rhetorical one at that—at Senator Barbara Boxer and others who suggest that embryo manipulation is “doing God’s work.” Perhaps the sarcasm was not sufficiently apparent, but ours was not high hermeneutics, nor a genuine theological speculation—but we’re happy to speculate here.

As Professor Volokh thoroughly explains, the Lord’s name ought not to be taken in vain on matters like this. Precisely—which is why we weren’t comfortable with Senator Boxer’s deification of the acts performed by scientists on embryos. The Conspiracy takes us to task on this point, largely for failing to make clear the evils of human cloning and how we could be so epistemologically sure that God disapproves of similar Huxleyan efforts. Our article, of course, was not intended as a theological treatise, and it did take a few things for granted, like the general anti-human cloning bias of the NRO audience. Considering that several articles calling for human cloning bans have appeared on NRO, we were confident that most readers would at least recognize that human cloning will not afford us an unmitigated positive good (even liberal bioethicists like Arthur Caplan speak disparagingly of reproductive cloning’s ultimate utility); and we felt equally certain that no matter how one views the abortion issue, most would consider using aborted fetuses to fund the European egg bank a bad idea—to the point that we didn’t think it required much elaboration.

But if elaborate we must, then it’s worth noting that this fetal-egg-harvesting idea was floated at an earlier European conference in the late 1990s, and was torpedoed on “psychological harm” grounds. Imagine . . . some ethicists actually feared that a child whose mother had been aborted might suffer some fairly traumatic psychological effects.

We also boldly predicted that God would be less than enthused at science attempting hermaphroditic embryos. That this claim would be controversial is a bit perplexing. The Conspiracy makes a good point in noting that

“the risk of error inherent in guesswork about what the Creator must intend shows the importance of carefully articulating the argument, and giving a detailed, specific explanation of why the Creator doesn’t intend this, but does intend caesarian sections, or contraception, or in vitro fertilization, or hormone shots, or the use of incubators to care for dramatically premature babies. The risk of error shows the need for thoughtful, overt, and self-critical analysis of just why we fallible humans are making this particular guess about what the inscrutable Creator, who moves in mysterious ways, never actually chose to tell us about his ‘intentions.’”

Point taken. We’re all for self-critical analysis, and there is always risk in inferring modern rules from ancient sacred texts; but is it really all that dangerous to deduce from the Judeo-Christian scriptures and tradition at least that mixing male and female genes into a genetic he-she goes against the Divine plan for the human species? Even a glance at the early chapters of Genesis reveals that “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Feminist theory aside, nothing in the biblical tradition suggests that God set out first to create hermaphrodites, nor that we as procreators should take it upon ourselves to do so.

What is clear, however, is mankind’s unique place in God’s created order, and we don’t consider it presumptuous to suggest that the Judeo-Christian God finds scientific endeavors that usurp the male-female relationship with hybrids and chimeras to be morally repugnant at best.

Perhaps our presumption was not taking the bandwidth to walk through these arguments, but then, that wasn’t the real point of our article, which was simply to bring attention to recent developments, and offer reasonable, constitutional alternatives to more knee-jerk Commerce Clause regulation.

[Update: The original posting included both Mr. Stewart’s and Mr. Alt’s name in the "posted by" line. Because this caused a glitch in our software which automatically tracks postings by author, the posting now reflects Mr. Stewart’s name. Mr. Alt happily concurs fully in Mr. Stewart’s sentiments.]

Response to Professor Volokh I

Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy offers several thoughtful critiques ( here, and here, and yet again here) of the article Nathaniel Stewart and I wrote for NRO. I shall attempt to address his concerns in turn.

Starting with his latest post, Professor Volokh argues that patent restrictions would not achieve the regulatory goals of the authors (restricting cloning and macabre embryonic research) because, essentially, there are a lot of rich people in America. Even if contributions are not tax-exempt, Volokh argues:

“If you have some form of disease in your family, and you have a multi-million dollar fortune, and cloning or embryonic research seems to offer some serious potential benefit, you may be perfectly happy to spare some tens of millions to fund this research.”

While the private market will undoubtedly rise to almost any occasion, I’m not convinced that Volokh’s private funding argument by itself carries the day. First, to the extent that I can convince Professor Volokh to assume for the sake of argument that such technology is contrary to good public policy, his argument would suggest that we must sacrifice the good on the altar of the perfect. Professor Volokh undoubtedly agrees that the federal government has limited regulatory authority. If the best Congress can constitutionally do is to provide disincentives that will address many but not all cases, should it do so? My sense is that if the regulatory end is legitimate, then yes. Far better this than to pass regulations which are beyond the bounds of regulatory authority. Furthermore, these laws could be supplemented by regulations promulgated by entities not so limited in power—namely the states.

Second, even conceding that there are a lot of rich people, the financial curve on such an endeavor would be steep. In addition to having no protected patent right in the new technology, and in addition to not receiving a tax benefit (i.e., a disincentive) for contributions to the researchers, the would-be philanthropist would literally need to start from scratch. That is, if Congress were to use its power recognized by the Supreme Court under the spending clause to restrict any medical facility that receives federal funds from taking any part in this kind of research, then they could not simply endow a wing at MassGeneral to perform this research. Thus, they would not only need to pay for the doctors, but they would need to build the facilities, and to purchase the equipment. This is not to say that it would be impossible, but even “tens of millions” of dollars is likely too conservative to be a realistic estimate.

While clearly not endorsing such regulation, Professor Volokh later repeats this futility theme in saying that for those who view cloning as “evil,” the patent regulations seem like a “pretty feeble step in the battle against evil.” Yet Volokh appears to believe that any regulation in this area is futile, for he concedes that a ban would do little more than affect incentives:

If Japan or Europe allow patents for human cloning, then the proposal in the NRO would at most diminish the incentive for cloning (though of course broader bans would be limited this way, too).

Again, when combined with spending and tax exemption restrictions, I’m not sure how feeble such regulations would be (Title VI and IX have been reported to have some teeth), and I’m again not convinced that the perfect must be the enemy of the good.

Finally, Volokh takes to task our supposition that America should lead on this issue, suggesting that other countries will go ahead and perform the research anyway. As an initial matter, I shall assume that Volokh is not arguing from Justice Breyer’s position as articulated on This Week, i.e., that American law and constitutionalism should be somehow conform to the ebbs and flows of international law. Thus, it seems that Volokh’s argument is that we should not regulate because our regulation won’t change conditions outside the U.S. But the general rule is that US regulation is not extraterritorial (except in the extraordinary categories of federally controlled land, such as military bases). If other countries wish to perform experiments of which the United States does not approve, we can’t directly regulate them. Does this suggest that we must follow them? If a country—let’s call it Germany—chooses to, say, experiment on twins, that doesn’t mean that we should do so also. (Anticipating Volokh’s rebuttal that such a comparison is inapplicable because one involves entities with rights that no one disputes (now), while the other involves entities whose rights and status are disputed, one need not even adopt an expansive view of the rights or humanity of embryos or fetuses for such comparisons to have strength. Within the realm of cloning, for instance, the mammals that have been cloned have died sooner and been subject to rare diseases. Thus, even a theory of utilitarianism which does not permit the infliction of undue injury or death to a party for the greater potential benefit of third parties would suffice to complete the analogy.)

Furthermore, the argument that the parties will simply import the technology to the U.S. fails to take into account that the U.S.-based scientists would still have the tax-exemption and spending clause limitations binding their research. A clone may enter the U.S., but the technology--unless totally privately funded by an entity which has followed Hillsdale and refused all public funding—cannot be researched or developed here.

My co-author will soon address man and god in cloning. This short blog does not address the full complexity of the debate, but I hope that it suffices to provide some response to Eugene’s thoughtful postings.

Central axiom of Left-Liberal foreign policy

Charles Krauthammer examines why the Left, against going into Iraq, is now so keen on going into Liberia. Here is the crux, and it’s not pretty: "The only conclusion one can draw is that for liberal Democrats, America’s strategic interests are not just an irrelevance, but a deterrent to intervention. This is a perversity born of moral vanity. For liberals, foreign policy is social work. National interest - i.e., national selfishness - is a taint. The only justified interventions, therefore, are those which are morally pristine, namely, those which are uncorrupted by any suggestion of national interest. Hence the central axiom of left-liberal foreign policy: The use of American force is always wrong, unless deployed in a region of no strategic significance to the United States."   

Supremes as Platonic Guardians?

Here is Stuart Taylor’s take on why the Supreme Court’s move towards becoming a bevy of Platonic Guardians. 

Some Good News: A Liberal Democracy Grows in Kuwait

Peter Berkowitz reports on the growing pains of an emerging democracy in the Middle East. Things move slowly but there is good news in the Middle East.

Perhaps this will give the professional naysayers pause. Oh, probably not.

What are the Democrats up to?

This WaPo article shows the reincarnation of the Democratic Party into the party of the Left. This, despite the Democratic Leadership Council’s warning "No Left Turn", this, despite Bill Clinton’s attempt to be a moderate, etc. What are these guys up to? Well, James Taranto has a few choice thoughts on the subject that are very much worth reading. These thoughts are not unrelated to the "Progressives’" (as the Liberals now prefer to call themselves) attempt to make an Iran-Contra Affair out of the WMD/Iraq issue. The Demo Party is making a big mistake. Make an argument that we shouldn’t have gone into Iraq, that we shouldn’t stay in Iraq, that we cannot change Iraq, etc.; these are conversations worth having. But making an argument of the sort they are making is at least imprudent and possibly suicidal. Read Taranto.

Doing God’s Work?

Nathaniel Stewart & Robert Alt write a thoughtful piece on a "startling" development coming out of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology conference: "Consider for a moment what is at issue. Among the Madrid panels, scientists from Israel and the Netherlands announced that they had harvested ovarian tissue from seven aborted fetuses between 22 and 33 weeks old — well beyond the all-important age of ’viability’ recognized here in the States. The goal of the research seems to be, of all things, infertility treatment. The heightened demand for healthy human eggs — not easily "harvested" from women — has apparently reached such dire levels that gathering eggs from the dead unborn may soon be, as one doctor said, an "ethically acceptable" fertility option. Should these scientists successfully develop the extracted eggs, we face the very real possibility that a child could be born from the egg of an aborted fetus. While we don’t claim to share Senator Barbara Boxer’s anointed insight that tinkering with human embryos is ’doing God’s work,’ we’re nonetheless pretty sure that making a mommy out of an aborted fetus is not what the good Lord intended."

Rather than ban cloning outright, they suggest something else. Read the whole thing, even though Eugene Volokh has some questions.

WMD in Iraq, Terrorism, and Bush’s Credibility

Andrew Busch explains in detail what we know about Iraq, both in regard to WMD’s and terrorism. And although he admits that much of it is inferential, he thinks it is sufficient. Yet, he sends a warning to the Bush administration: they had better do a better job of reminding the public and the world of what we do know, else it will lose the credibility that will be essential in the future.  

Becoming American

Ken Masugi reviews Victor Davis Hanson’s Mexifornia: A State of Becoming. It is a review very much worth reading (as is the book). It so happens that in his last paragraph Ken mentions my father’s pithy comment about what an American is. I’m honored.

"If, in theory, Hanson seems to be of divided mind, he simply reflects the paradox in the Declaration of Independence: We are a distinct nation with a distinct political identity—not only separate from Britain but from all other hitherto existing regimes. But we are also a nation distinct by virtue of our founding principle—all men are created equal. That principle means that any human being at any time in history has the essential quality to be an American. My friend Peter Schramm recounts the wonderful story of his Hungarian father explaining why they were leaving home and going, in late 1956, to America: ’We were born Americans, but in the wrong place.’ In Mexifornia Victor Davis Hanson, a real American, portrays how sophisticated intellectuals, cynical growers, craven political leaders, and ambitious Mexicans have brought about a crisis in which neither immigrant nor native-born show interest in thinking and acting like Americans."

The Supremes’ Sophistry II

A reader has reminded me that Charles Krauthammer’s piece on the Court’s recent decisions, and what it means for self-government and the Constitution are worth noting, as well as these comments on Powerline. Thanks.

The Supremes’ Sophistry

This is what John Leo entitles his US News commentary on the recent affirmative action and sodomy decisions. He is right. One of the worst things about all this, in my mind, is that on the major political issues of our time the US Supreme Court has pulled the plug on public conversations about some serious and fundamental political questions that--in a political order founded on consent--ought to be a matter of public conversation and deliberation. To take such issues out of the political discourse is wrong and, in the end, is very detrimental to constitutional government correctly understood. That the political elites (largely liberal, but not simply liberal) prefer that this happen is another very unhealthy thing. There continues to be a disjunction between public opinion and the rule of law (or the government, if you like) that, by definition, is corrupting in a regime of self-government. This argument holds, in my view, even if you agree with a particular decision of the Supreme Court. Among other things, this has the effect of the citizens making decisions on who they support for president, for example, be determined by who the president would appoint to the Supremes because, after all, it is the Court who will make all the important decisions. And currently, it is one member of the Court on whose decision such important matters depend: Today it is Sandra Day O’Connor, tomorrow it will be one other (unelected) person. This is not good.


James Robbins at NRO makes a strategic case for intervention.

No sex in the woods

This speaks for itself: "A Romanian mayor is planning to hire armed guards to stop residents from having sex when they go for picnics in the woods."

HIllary tops one million in sales

Hillary Clinton’s book has sold one million copies in one month, apparently a record. I predicted a decline in sales by the third week. I was wrong. What could this mean? Here is the latest Pew poll on the "decline" of Bush’s popularity, but note that the current crop of Democrats do not seem to benefit from that decline.

History of American Political Thought

An excellent book has just been published. It is edited by Bryan-Paul Frost and Jeffrey Sikkenga and is called History of American Political Thought. It describes itself as "a comprehensive set of secondary essays that provides a solid introduction to the thought of the most important American statesmen, activists, and writers--whatever their historical age or political persuasion." The forty-six essays consider John Winthrop to Antonin Scalia (with Madison, Lincoln, FDR, et al, along the way). Click here to see the Table of Contents. I think it is a very impressive volume, am proud to be in it (chapter on Booker T. Washington), and I recommend that you take a look at it. The contributors (note that many of them write for NLT) are:

John Agresto, John E. Alvis, Donald R. Brand, Paul O. Carrese, Laurence D. Cooper, Murray Dry, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Thomas S. Engeman, Christopher Flannery, Steven Forde, David Fott, David F. Forte, Matthew J. Franck, Bryan-Paul Frost, David Foster, Peter Josephson, Steven Kautz, John Koritansky, Peter Augustine Lawler, Howard L. Lubert, Harvey C. Mansfield, Jonathan Marks, Sean Mattie, James McClellan, Lucas E. Morel, Peter C. Meyers, Ronald J. Pestritto, Lance Robinson, Michael J. Rosano, Ralph A. Rossum, Richard S. Ruderman, Richard Samuelson, David Lewis Schaefer, Peter Schotten, Peter W. Schramm, Kimberly C. Shankman, Jeffrey Sikkenga, James R. Stoner, Jr., Natalie Taylor, Aristide Tessitore, William Thomas, Daryl McGowan Tress, David Tucker, Eduardo A. Velásquez, Karl-Friedrich Walling, Bradley C. S. Watson, Melissa S. Williams, Delba Winthrop, Jean M. Yarbrough, Michael P. Zuckert.

The Parthenon Frieze

The Greek Ministray of Culture has put together this on-line digital form of the Parthenon Frieze. It is pretty impressive: "The application brings together for the first time all the restored stones from the British, the Louvre and the Acropolis museums, annotated in Greek and English. The photographs of the original stones (not of imitations) are accompanied by the preserved drawings of J. Carrey (1674) and J. Stuart (1751) giving the most thorough description of the whole frieze."

Pat Tillman

Pat and Kevin Tillman have returned to the US, after having served in Iraq. They are off to a Ranger school for three months. They are still not talking to the press, but their father is proud.

Lance Armstrong

Lance has moved into second place. He is poised to win!

Progress in Afghanistan

USA Today reports on the progress that has been made in Afghanistan. Good.

Nineteen years in a coma

In a coma for nineteen years, man awakes. Mother calls it a miracle.

NLT Mug Drawing Winners for June

Congratulations to this month’s winners of a No Left Turns mug! The winners are as follows:

Ben Horvath

Alexander Camacho

John Abramson

Joanna Birkitt

Michael Dedoshka

Thanks to all who entered. An email has been sent to the winners. If you are listed as a winner and did not receive an email, contact Ben Kunkel. If you didn’t win this month, enter July’s drawing.

Romneys to the Rescue

The Governor’s sons, jet skis, and a good deed.

Democrat Fix

Michael Barone has a few interesting thoughts on the problems the Democrats are facing for 2004. Note his last paragraph: "Core Democrats have an emotional investment in the idea that George W. Bush is an idiot; if conservatives believe they are conservative because they have more common sense than other people, liberals believe they are liberal because they are smarter than other people. At the heart of their hatred of Bush is snobbery. Gephardt, Lieberman, Graham, and Edwards don’t exude this snobbery. Dean and Kerry do. This could give whichever of them survives New Hampshire an edge with core Democrats. The Democrats’ problem is that at least 70 percent of voters do not share their contempt for Bush and find it off-putting. Outside a Bush fundraiser last week one protester’s sign read, ’France was right.’ That is not a winning slogan in an American election."

Optimism on Africa

R.W. Johnson (in The London Times, gives a good overview of the continent, and why all if it is not dark. He emphasizes what he calls the second generation democrats and what they are doing in places like Mauritius, Botswana, Mali, Senegal. Quite interesting and hopeful.  

Getting it Right about Coulter

Finally it appears that conservatives are realizing how much of a liability Ann Coulter is becoming. Her latest book is, frankly, appalling. And Andrew Sullivan gets it right, as he usually does. Coulter has become, Sullivan claims, the Michael Moore of the Right:

...[W]here’s he’s ugly and ill-kempt, she’s glamorous and impeccably turned out. (Her web-page,, has a gallery of sexy images.) But what they have in common is more significant: an hysterical hatred of their political opponents and an ability to say anything to advance their causes (and extremely lucrative careers).

Volunteer action threatens union jobs

The National Post in reports this story out of Saskatchewan, Canada: "Budget cuts meant there was no money to plant flowers this summer in Saskatchewan’s Duck Mountain Provincial Park, so a group of cottagers raised $50 and spent an afternoon planting marigolds.

Less than a day later, a dozen park workers arrived to uproot the plants, saying the volunteer action had threatened their jobs."

Fear that Saddam Might Return

This Washington Post story on how the Iraqis are becoming increasingly concerned (read afraid) that Saddam is not only alive but might get back into power is full of the now standard stuff (i.e., that we had better catch Saddam soon). But, also note this nugget that may be to our advantage (and to the advantage of anti-Saddam Iraqis): "Inside every one of us there is the fear of what will happen if the American people start pushing their government because they are losing so many soldiers every day," said Fadhil Majid, an employee at a bridal shop in the Adhamiyah neighborhood. "If they decide to withdraw, what will happen to us? Saddam is still free. With all the [militiamen] around, what kind of life will we have?"

And the Christian Science Monitor reports that the morale of US troops in Iraq is very, very low.

Kevin Johnson’s Charter School

Daniel Weintraub’s op-ed in the Sacramento Bee considers the interesting story of a former NBA star, Kevin Johnson, trying to open a charter school in his hometown. Sacramento High School was to be closed down for lack of performance. The school board voted to hand over the place to a non-profit organization run by Johnson, to be opened as a charter school. The teacher union is opposed. Very interesting case.  

The Ferociously Tedious Hillary

P.J. O’Rourke writes a must-read review of Hillary’s book in The Weekly Standard. The book is uber-mediocrity, period. O’Rourke claims that the book is 100,000 pages long: "There are only 562 page numbers, but you know how those Clintons lie. A mere ream of paper could not contain the padding that has gone into this tome. Hillary--with the help of at least six ghostwriters--nails the goose of a manuscript to the barn floor and force-feeds it with lint."    

Men and Women Writing

Computer scientists claim we give away our gender in our writing. Boy, this is serious (and quite amusing) stuff. The researchers had some trouble publishing their findings (which has to do with a computer algorithm), well, for ideological reasons. Surprise. Semi-interesting, but inevitably amusing stuff. Personal pronoun, thy name is woman. 

Profs as Rockstars

Here is something from the Boston Globe I have overlooked; it appeared about a week ago. It is about how universities poach "stars" from other universities; set them up, they hardly teach, yet it is in the university’s interest to do this. What are the consequences? Interesting, but long article, with many little ti-bits. Here is one on NYU’s taking of Niall Ferguson from Oxford: "One couldn’t imagine all of this happening in Oxford, where there’s a kind of gentleman’s agreement that we’re all equally brilliant," Ferguson says in an interview. "It’s extremely bad form to suggest that one person is as vulgar as to be a star. But it’s rather sweet and flattering to be told you’re good. And it’s positively disorienting to be told you’re a star."

Iraqi Battles

Here is Thomas Ricks’ take on the widening anti-American attacks in Iraq. There is some interesting information, once you get through which Senator said what about something not understood by even their staffers. In the meantime, The New York Times reports that three GI’s were killed last night.

Canadian Book Wins

Two Canadians are the winners of the first James Madison Award for their book for children, First to Fly: How Wilbur and Orville Wright Invented The Airplane. It’s the first year for the award, which was launched by Lynne Cheney, and paid for through proceeds from her own children’s book, America: A Patriotic Primer. The award is for books aimed at ages 5 to 14 and is named for the fourth president of the U.S. "who loved books from the time he was a child and who changed history with the knowledge he gained from reading."

Bring ’em on

David Warren reflects on what President Bush meant when he said "bring ’em on" to the Iraqis/terrorists who are trying to kill our troops in Iraq. There is purpose behind this cowboy talk: Let the bad guys come to one place, try to do their dirty work, and it will be easier to get them than to hunt them down in the four corners. That the media don’t understand his comments (never mind Democrats) doesn’t surprise Warren. Good.  

Vermont Ride

Johnny and I logged about 1,500 miles on our trip to Vermont. Great ride. We stopped at Cooperstown; too busy and chaotic although we got to rub the bronze plates of the Babe and other worthies. We also stopped at Fort Ticonderoga, between Lake George and Lake Champlain. It was built by the French in 1755 (they called it Carillon), and when the Brits took it in 1758 they renamed it Ticonderoga (between the lakes). In May of 1775 Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold and the Green Mountain Boys took it. Allen famously asked the British commander to "Surrender in the name of the Great Johovah and the Continental Congress." On the way back on the 3rd we also stopped at Plymouth Notch, Calvin Coolidge’s birthplace. A simple farm. Looks almost exactly as it did in 1923 when he became president, after Harding died (probably the result of too many trists!). They were preparing the place for Coolidge’s birthday celebrations, which happens to be on the Fourth. I discovered that Grace Coolidge (Calvin’s wife) had written an autobiography. Crisp, clear, simple, good. Although she was the first professional first lady (she was a University of Vermont grad and a teacher of the deaf) she was entirely devoted to her family and husband. An impressive lady, lived until 1957, as I recall. Calvin said this of her in his autobiography: "For almost a quarter of a century she was borne with my infirmities, and I have rejoiced in her graces." Here is the Coolidge Foundation web site.

A Nation Based on a Universal Idea

Ashbrook Fellow Mac Owens has a nice piece on NRO in which he reminds us of the uniqueness of the American nation--one based on the universal ideas extoled by the Founders in the Declaration of Independence. Worth a cup, and a gaggle of fireworks.  

Celebrating America on the 4th of July

Ben Stein celebrates the American regime and expresses his gratitude to the solidiers who have defended our Freedom in the past and do so today. Stein at his best.

Hadley Arkes on Lawrence

NRO has a lot of good stuff today. In particular, Hadley Arkes has a piece about how to respond to the Lawrence decision. A student of Lincoln, he understands the art of prudence in a democratic society better than anyone today. He played a crucial role in convincing pro-life groups to shift focus, from a Human Life constitutional amendment to a legislative strategy focusing on born-alive and partial-birth abortion laws. This was Lincolnian prudence in action. Relinquish the good that is politically impossible to attain, to focus on the less ambitious good that arouses the sympathies and persuades the reason of a voting majority. His reactions to Lawrence manifest the same understanding of prudence and democratic politics.