Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Praise for the Constitution Center, Contra Masugi

Ken Masugi, with his typically thoughtful insight, has discovered a number of "progressive" elements at the new National Constitution Center. He is, of course, correct in his bill of particulars, but wrong, I think, on the overall effect of the Constitution Center, which I found quite praiseworthy, and quite successful at furthering the NCC’s express mission of educating citizens in the principles of the American Founding.

The centerpiece of the NCC is, of course, the DeVos theatre and the multi-media commemoration to the Constitution presented there. Most striking, in an age when the principles of the Declaration of Independence have been rejected by many across the political spectrum, the presentation begins with the self-evident truths of the Declaration. (The acknowledgement of the Declaration actually begins even earlier. The NCC was dedicated on July 4, and the price of admission is $17.76, not $17.87). From the very first moment, then, the Constitution is put into its proper context, as a means to defend the unalienable rights of the people.

Even the discussion of slavery is handled well. Not the tripe that has occupied our civics textbooks for a generation or more (asserting that the Declaration only applied to white European males), the moderator, a booming-voiced black man standing in a spotlight center stage, reminds us that the Declaration’s proposition of equality applied to all human beings, something he highlights by pointing to several members of the audience and finally to himself.

This point is not lost when he addressed the slave clauses of the Constitution itself. The moderator describes how impossible it would have been for the founders to tackle both the task of building a new nation of eliminating slavery at the same time, points out that the Constitution actually never mentions the word "slavery," and then adds: "Although we know the Declaration’s vision did not include all people," no nation had ever taken the step toward equality that we had taken. A perfect description? Not quite--better to have said that the vision did include all people. But it is much better than one might have expected. And the multi-media presentation then turns to Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., both making clear that the purpose of the Constitution is to fulfil the principles of the Declaration of Independence. This, my friends, is deserving of great praise, and one cannot help but be moved -- to better citizenship.

True, following this centerpiece of the program, one files out to a rotunda that has all the flaws Masugi points out. And I could add a few more. There are multiple copies of Machiavelli’s Prince on a bookshelf display, for example, and no Aristotle or Cicero. And Ben Stein is heard to say that there is a rights aura--rights given to us by the Constitution. Ugh. But I don’t think the main vice Masugi describes is a vice at all. It is not a vice that people think the defense of their Constitution is in their own hands. So here is my main disagreement with Ken: By inviting people to participate in the debate, Masugi takes from that the notion of living constitutionalism, not the Declaration’s consent of the governed. It is healthy when the people re-engage their elected officials (and their judicial officers) about the meaning of the Constitution, because the true purpose of "Progressivism" was to substitute elite judgment for the will of the people. This Center -- even the middle section -- helps remind us all of that obligation.

Finally, let me just add a reverse straussian interpretation of sorts. After leaving the "progressive" middle of the tour, one does indeed enter into the room of the signers. It is a powerful room, filled with giants, men of principle. The heros at the beginning, and those at the end, are the powerful images one takes away from the National Constitution Center. The modern paeons in the middle, in unstraussian fashion, are lost to the great accomplishments of these great men. That is the take-away for citizens. And it is a good thing.

Arnold en Espanol, Bustamante, no

Arnold’s website can be read in Spanish, while Bustamante’s cannot. No big thing, I just I’d point it out. (thanks to Iain Murray) In the meantime, there is a conversation at The Corner between Hayward, Robinson, et al, about whether or not McClintock has a chance to overtake Arnold. It is claimed that Arnold’s support is slipping. Maybe, but I remind everyone that this is no ordinary campaign, and it shouldn’t be looked at as such. Note that the California Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Arnold.

Sharia to Lagos, Nigeria

This story on Lagos State, Nigeria, is not exactly reassuring. "Lagos became the third state in the South-West to join the Sharia train at the non-governmental level."

"Project Thread" investigation in Canada

About 400 immigrants (mostly Pakistanis) were able to come into Canada to study at a college that held no classes. An elaborate scheme, that may have terrorist connections. A little spooky.

EU now calls Hamas’ political wing terrorists

The European Union foreign ministers on Saturday denounced the political wing of Hamas as a terrorist organization following the group’s claim of responsibility for a truce-shattering bomb attack in Jerusalem. The decision, long sought by both Israel and the United States, opens the way for Europe to freeze the group’s assets and place its leaders on a terrorist blacklist.

Returning from Iraq

It is very difficult to tell what’s going on in Iraq. The media is relentlessly negative. Almost all the stories told by returning soldiers differs from the protrait drawn by the media. A returning Marine says many interesting and touching things about his experience. Nice story (in the normally anti-war North Coast Journal). (via Instapundit).  Here is another story from a returning soldier. And yet another. And here is a report from a Congressman who had just returned from a visit. Notice that all these reports are in local, non-national, papers. The information therein is interesting, concrete, and personal. Much more revealing than the standard NY Times, etc., articles, never mind CBS or CNN stories.

The Lawless (illegal) immigrants and Indians

Lt. Governor Bustamante has gotten into some trouble because he has accepted some $3 million from Indian tribes. His spokesmen are saying that this is no big deal since Bustamante has alwasy been in favor of Indian self-determination. Ken Masugi nails the problem down in a few excellent paragraphs. You should look at this because the problem is not merely a campaign contribution question. It is much broader than that, and even more important than the California recall. Masugi explains why both illegal immigrants and native Americans are in a state of lawlessness with regard to the United States and its laws. Read it.  

What writers read

Laura Hillenbrand, the author of "Seabiscuit", did an interview with the NYT a few days ago (I missed it, but Powerline brought it to my attention; thanks) and it is pretty good, but this is an especially good paragraph:

"My goal as an historian is to make nonfiction read as smoothly as fiction while adhering very strictly to fact. I read a lot of nonfiction, and have certainly been influenced by such superb historians as Bruce Catton and David McCullough, but the writers who have had the greatest impact on me have been novelists. Michael Shaara’s masterpiece ’The Killer Angels,’ an historic novel about Gettysburg, has had a tremendous influence on my writing. Tolstoy has also been a wonderful teacher, namely ’War and Peace’ and ’Anna Karenina.’ Other writers I read over and over again, and try to emulate, include Austen, Wharton, Fitzgerald and Hemingway."

French economy

I’ll end the day on a positive note: the French economy is set for 0.5-percent growth this year, budget minister Alain Lambert announced. He had been saying that it would grow by 1.3-percent. On Wednesday it was announced that the entire 12-nation euro zone would also post full-year growth of 0.5 percent.

Hong Kong drops internal-security measure

Hong King’s Chief Executive announced today that he was withdrawing internal-security legislation that had provoked huge protests in July. Also see this from yesterday.

Estrada and Democratic racism

Before Robert Alt could write anything on the demise of the Estrada nomination, I bet he had to calm himself down. He has, yet I would not have him play false to his nature. Do read the whole thing, but note a few lines (there are more specifics on Teddy Kennedy):

"Democrats will inevitably respond that they opposed Estrada because they believed that he was conservative. But they had less reason to believe he was conservative than [now confirmed Judge] Roberts. This demonstrates what is at the heart of the issue: They opposed him more vehemently because he was perceived to be a conservative Hispanic, and as such is thought to be a viable Supreme Court nominee. As much as they may say that they just love Hispanics (some of their very best friends are Hispanic!), they can’t avoid the fact that it is because he is conservative and Hispanic that they oppose him..."   

Hanson at Ashbrook

The new issue of "On Principle" is out and it contains a slightly edited version of a talk Victor Davis Hanson gave at the Ashbrook Center on March 28, 2003. The talk was during the Iraq War and about the war in Iraq and against terror. It is entitled "Our Current War is not New," and is a great read. If you want to hear Hanson give the same talk, go here.   

New Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. (ACTION THIS DAY)

It is being proposed by the Feds that the oath new citizens take should be changed.
They will publish the change in the Federal Register on September 17th (Constitution Day) and will allow 60 days for comments. Based on this story and Mark Krikorian’s
(Center for Immigration Studies) comments on it (in the article), I am sceptical. In short, I do not believe it should be changed. From what I can tell the new one is not high-minded enough and the part about supporting and defending the Constitution is ambiguous. I’ll pay attention to this, but if anyone has any more info, do let me know. Here is the current oath:

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

Eugenics IV

Not only is it not persuasive, it is not even particularly instructive. Why arbitrarily choose eugenics as the point at which we mounted the slippery slope?

In most discussions like this, the first one to mention the Nazis loses. This is an exception to that rule.

I would suggest that when considering controversial or even questionable programs of this sort, it is generally instructive to consider and reflect on how similar programs originated and have been used before. Are all uses and programs going to end up as their predecessors? No. But do the underlying philosophies and former applications provide warning (or hope) when considering whether to engage in new manifestations of older practices? Yes. History is full of reincarnations, and when a former manifestation results in something as horrific as the medical execution of the handicapped, infirm, retarded, and "impure," I’d say a good look at the rationalizations for how we got there is in order. When the same underlying justifications are again trotted out to rationalize certain kinds of abortions for certain kinds of people, I’d say those justifications demand another hard look. Simply because there are other factors and other philosophies that pushed Germany down the slope doesn’t discount it as a reminder of the dangers of a social-reform eugenics program and the kinds of tragedy that can result.

No Left Turns Mug Drawing Winners for August

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

Linda Hasty

Rob Toth

John Lewis

Brian Skeen

Melvin B. Benson IV

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 September’s drawing.

Democrats Debate

First Read at MSNBC seems to have pretty good coverage of the debate (and useful links). Walter Shapiro notes that Dean is the leader of the pack, and that explains his "willful blandness." The others, however, were strident in their denunciation of Bush, with Gephardt taking the lead by saying that Bush is "a miserable failure on the economy and foreign policy." They argued most with one another on the economy, and denounced Bush on foreign policy. This is a strategic mistake, and will pay dividends for Bush (and Republicans). The whole thing was quite unimpressive, and I am not even mentioning the pandering to Hispanics. That was both badly done, and much too late. Besides, the reason Bush is popular among Hispanics (even Democrats) is because of his foreign policy and character. If the Demo candidates continue to question both they will not only lose the election, but, more important for the long term, will lose the Hispanic vote. Why does it surprise anyone that about two-thirds of voters don’t recognize any of their names?

Charles Krauthammer explains why Dean is in the lead: This is a recall election, and it is driven by passion, and the war and its aftermath have helped Dean to become "Mr. Intensity." But, warns Krauthammer, this doesn’t mean that he is the presumptive Democratic candidate, yet. Good writing. And do note that Wesley Clark is moving ever closer to announcing. Just keep in mind that the most profound thing Clark has said up to now is this: "You can’t win without a vision, and that means working with allies." And yet, if he entered the race, he would turn everything upside down!

Baby Names, the decline of Hillary

I think this is interesting. The Social Security Administration has much information on the names of babies, which names are popular, which rose or fell over time, and so on. Stuart Buck notes, with subdued glee, that the name Hillary has become the most poisoned name in history: by 1992 it had risen to the 136th most common name, but within the the next year, l993, it sharply reversed course, and has dropped off the charts within 10 years. This was the greatest drop in popularity of a name ever, and displaced the previous poisoned name record holders, Ebeneezer and Adolph; it took them 30 years to make such a drop. By the way, I bet it will make a bit of a comeback. (Thanks to Jonah at The Corner)

Eugenics III

Anticipating the objection that these earlier sterilization programs were non-voluntary, state-sponsored programs, while today’s California initiative is both private and voluntary, I respectfully submit that it is itself spurious to offer a heroine addict her next fix in exchange for her ovaries.

A worthwhile point, but is it not one that we must deal with all the time? Are we really prepared to write off any possibility that an "addict" is responsible for her decisions? If she commmits theft in an attempt to satisfy her cravings, do we not still consider her a criminal? Moreover, what are we to make of the convenience store clerk who sells cigarettes to the tobacco "addict," the liquor-store worker who provides booze for an alcoholic, or the McDonald’s employee who serves Big Macs to the obese?

But if we are really going to claim that "addicts" are incapable of choice, why is there no concern about the other choices such people must make--namely the choice to risk a pregnancy that will either be aborted or, if allowed to come to term, will produce a child whose likelihood of suffering from brain damage, HIV-infection, or addiction is very high? The choice to surrender one’s ovaries has no victims; the choice either to abort a child or to bring it unwanted into the world does.

While not dispositive, or even ultimately persuasive, it may nevertheless be instructive to consider both the genesis and the final revelation of our modern eugenics movements.

Not only is it not persuasive, it is not even particularly instructive. Why arbitrarily choose eugenics as the point at which we mounted the slippery slope? Why not choose Darwin as the scientist that placed Europe’s Jews on the twisted road to Auschwitz? The fact is that Hitler sought and found justifications from all sorts of sources, including traditional Christianity. Whatever we might think of eugenics (and as a matter of involuntary state policy I oppose it), in an historical sense it makes no more sense to blame it for the Holocaust than it would be to blame the Church.

Eugenics II

In response to an earlier post on some private, California efforts to pay drug addicts to be sterilized, the comment was offered:

But surely what was objectionable about the eugenics movement was not the principle that there are some people who simply ought not reproduce. The problem with the eugenecists was that they used spurious criteria (i.e., race and ethnicity) to determine who those people were and, moreover, they engaged in their practices without the consent of those being sterilized.

It is true, of course, that spurious criteria such as race and ethnicity were used in justifications for eugenic practices. But these were not the only criteria. While a "progressive-minded" California was the overall leader in sterilization, Southern states in particular adopted eugenics programs as part of a larger social reform movement in order to alleviate the burdens of their poor, unhealthy, epileptic, and/or "feeble-minded" white populations. People were thought unfit to reproduce for socially "dersireable" reasons beyond race and ethnicity, that is, beyond simply a genetic "cleansing." Eugenic sterilization served socially desireable goals such as reducing state expenditures on health care, food, and education, while raising education standards in poor, agricultural states, and preventing "bad births" and poor quality of life concerns for children with low-income parents. The question remains whether such criteria were also in fact "spurious."

Anticipating the objection that these earlier sterilization programs were non-voluntary, state-sponsored programs, while today’s California initiative is both private and voluntary, I respectfully submit that it is itself spurious to offer a heroine addict her next fix in exchange for her ovaries.

While not dispositive, or even ultimately persuasive, it may nevertheless be instructive to consider both the genesis and the final revelation of our modern eugenics movements. Eugenics began as an augment to Darwinian evolution, a natural extension of survival of the fittest, popularized by Charles Darwin’s cousin in the 19th century. Ultimately, of course, eugenics provided a "scientific" and sociological justification for Hitler’s Germany, the logical and practical fulfillment of the "good birth" theory. Eugenics fell into disrepute for a short time after the war, but the basic principles survived and rested notoriously behind the family planning, abortion initiatives of Margaret Sanger (her racism aside) and Planned Parenthood.

Does the California effort rise to these levels? Maybe not, but given our current position on the precipice of a "genetic revolution," any attempt to re-legitimize, rationalize, and popularize eugenic programs and their philosophy ought to be opposed.

Why is Al Franken angry?

Because FOX News Channel was the only cable news service in August to grow in viewership from a year ago, gaining 20% in primetime and 29% across the entire day, according to Nielsen Media Research.

And, get this: CNN fell by 9% in primetime and total day, while MSNBC lost 21% in primetime and 11% for the day. Headline News lost 20% and CNBC lost 20%. This is the 28th consecutive month that Fox led the news channel pack.

Jihad School

This short CNN story is on the al Mukmin Islamic school in the Indonesian city of Solo. A slogan above one classroom reads, "Death in the way of Allah is our highest aspiration." In this boarding school the alumni includes nearly all of Indonesia’s top terror suspects--and was co-founded by Abu Bakar Ba’asyir--pictures of AK47’s are plastered on the hallways. It’s pretty bad, and it’s not the only such school.

Hong Kong and China

Arthur Waldron writes a very good article focusing on the pro-democracy demonstrations (a half a million people!) in July and what it all means not only for Hong Kong, but China as a whole. Excellent.    

Estrada bows out

Miguel Estrada has withdrawn his name for nomination to a federal appeals court. This is a major defeat for the administration. We already know that the majority of Senators would have voted for him, had the 45 Demos not flibustered. Why didn’t the administration fight this with more vigor? This guy is smart, good, and conservative. And, he’s from Honduras! Maybe they’ll throw a few more good guys to the wolves, and then use them for ammunition for the election? Darn it.

Uganda seeks U.S. support

Uganda is seeking support from the U.S., both logistics and intelligence, to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a terrorist group. Here is Golbal Security’s take on the LRA.

Operation Mountain Viper

After nine days of fighting, American (10th Mountain Division) and Afghan forces have taken a Taliban stronghold. Scores (124 is a figure mentioned) of Taliban have died. This was the heaviest fighting since the Fall of 1991. No American casualties reported. Let’s see if CBS/CNN/ and the others report on this. Just curious. This is not to say that the Taliban are finished in Afghanistan. They are there, and have regrouped.

John Agresto to Iraq

John Agresto, the former president of St. John’s College (Santa Fe), and former member of the Ashbrook Board, is on his way to Iraq, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education. He will oversee the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education. His duties will be to rebuild the universities in Iraq. He will have broad powers to rebuild the universities, determine policy, and set a course for the future. At one time Iraqi higher education was impressive; he hopes to make it even more impressive. He starts in a week. And who said that there is no life after being a college president? Good luck John!

Education in Ghana

What should you do about your children’s education? Should you send them to a public school in D.C., or maybe a Roman Catholic School, where there is more discipline and better academics? This will cost you about $5,000. But, for only $750, you can send them to the Akosombo International School in Ghana (20% of their students are from the U.S.). This boarding school may be better (not only cheaper) than any other option. One of the girls sent says this: "’Here [in the U.S.] a lot of people are just focused on what party to go to,’ said Nayaba, who will soon have to cut off the fashionable braided hair extensions she got this summer and return to the close-cropped natural look, required of all the girls in her school. ’In boarding school the goal is just learning, not to be average but to be at the top of the class. You feel out of place if you’re not trying; that’s sometimes not the case here.’" This is a very interesting article from today’s New York Times. John Derbyshire at The Corner has some thoughts on this.  

Arnold on illegal immigration

Arnold has made his position on illegal immigration perfectly clear: "’What he [Bustamante] doesn’t understand is that people like myself waited 15 years to get citizenship,’ Schwarzenegger, who came to the United States from Austria in the 1960s, said. ’There are people who have been waiting 20 years. I find it unfair to all of a sudden push the whole thing with undocumented immigrants and say they should immediately get citizenship.’

The film star told the John and Ken show on Los Angeles radio station KFI-AM 640 in a telephone interview that he wanted stricter controls and beefed-up patrols on the U.S. border with Mexico. He said he was also against legislation, currently being debated in Sacramento, that would give California drivers licenses to illegal immigrants -- a bill that Davis has said he would sign and Bustamante supports."

California debate

I did not see the California debate yesterday, sorry. I talked to a few people who did, and almost all said the same: McClintock was very good, and the clear winner. Ueberroth was babbling, and Huffington was silly and unimpressive. Bustamante kept talking about his immigrant background (Parents or grandparents came from Maxico). This latter point is especially odd given that Arnold really is an immigrant. This does remind me of a story. I had a very nice colleague here in the history department. He is now retired. His grandparents came from Italy. I had a conversation with him once in which he was beating up on Americans and praising Italians. Nothing wrong with his opinions except that he would do it, explicitly, as if he were an immigrant. I thought this a little odd for many reasons, not the least is that he wasn’t an immigrant and he was talking to an immigrant, me. I pointed this out to him, politely. It caught him off guard, he regained his senses, and said, "Oh, of course, you’re right, what was I thinking." Amusing for him, and perhaps equally amusing in the end for Bustamante.

Ken Masugi has some very sensible opinions on the debate coverage. This AP story is said to be the best report on it.

The Rehnquist Court and the "living Constitution"

Our own Eric Claeys has some very clear things to say both about the Democrats’ unprecedented move to filibuster nominees to the federal appellate courts, its connection to the idea of a "living Constitution," and the decline of constitutional government, even in the Rehnquist Court. Very sound, albeit depressing.  

The UN gambit, again

Much is already being said about the latest U.S. attempt, still in its infancy, to try to get some U.N. involvement in the building of a new country that would still go by the old name of Iraq. The Washington Post goes so far--and probably correctly--as to join the U.N. story with the Administration’s attempt to add about $60 billion to the costs of Iraq’s reconstruction. The Administration’s critics are saying that this proves that the President’s policy "to go it alone in Iraq" (as if the participation of 29 countries is the same as alone) has failed, and that they are attempting something that they failed at some months ago. They pretend that troops troops from India, Bangladesh, and Norway, will be able to do what U.S. have not yet been able to do. Some also assume that countries like Pakistan and Egypt really do want to send troops to Iraq, and that they will eagerly do so once the U.N. umbrella is put in place. That is poppycock, of course.

What the Administration is trying to do, as far as I can tell, is no different than what they tried to do from the start: try to get U.N. backing for our policy. This could allow some countries a bit of political cover to either send some troops, some aid, or even money, because it would lend some "authority" to our policies that we currently don’t have in some parts of the world. And it would waylay some of the current and upcoming domestic arguments against the Administration’s handling of the war. Also, it would allow some countries to take advantage of the commercial opportunities that will exists both in the reconstitution of Iraq, and after. They want their bankers on the ground. And that’s fine, we should understand their interest and work with it as best as we can.

I don’t really have a problem with this latest attempt at trying to get the U.N.’s blessing. As long, of course, as we don’t give up anything fundamental; compromise on everything but the one big thing: the creation of a new and moderate regime in Iraq and making sure that our hands our free for the anti-terror war, within and without Iraq (inlcuding the Middle East, of course). That the President’s domestic opponents will use this to try to prove that their scepticism about Iraq was correct, is, for now, irrelevant. Of course they will do that. But, it also must be said, that just because Bush’s policy in Iraq is being criticized by those whose judgement we are given no reason to trust, it does not mean that the policy cannot justly be criticized. Clearly, in some ways it has not been as successful as it could have been. But we’ll get to that criticism (which to my mind is relatively minor, by the way) on another day.

And I want to add one more thing on this latest U.N. effort: it is not predestined to work! It may not work. It is possible that many countries--or just France or Russia would be sufficient--will oppose it. Indeed, if I have been reading France’s foreign minister
correctly, he willwant to oppose it. And, if de Villepin, decides to oppose it, it will be a heavy blow less to our policy in Iraq, than to our so-called alliance. Because if the French continue to oppose America’s power in the world, it will be clear even to those who have been blind that these two U.N. exercises have been understood by the French to be exercises in strategy--in the highest form of geopolitical strategy--and they will have decided to be in opposition to us. And the same could be said of Russia, who, it goes almost without saying, is the great power who has lost the most through our victory in Iraq. They have lost a client state in whom they invested much; their last bastion in the Middle East. The opposition of either country would be a very big deal. And, this "indelicate topic," as an old teacher of mine once called it, of the strategic overtones at play here will become a very big deal indeed. So, keep your eye on the diplomatic activity in the vicinity of the U.N. over the next few weeks.

Here is the full text of Secretary of State Powell’s speech and press conference on this issue.

Life in Iraq

The Rev. Ken Joseph, who was initially against the war, has some reflections on what life in Iraq is like after the war. Not the sort of thing you get from CNN and CBS.

Sterile the feral?

The BBC reports on the rising popularity of sterilizing West Coast drug addicts--mostly women--as a way of alleviating the social burdens presented by their children. "Project Prevention," as it is now called, pays documented addicts $200, no strings attached (read drug money), to be sterilized. Of course, the California-based program sounds an awful lot like a eugenics plan designed to keep "defectives" or "undesirables" from reproducing. This country’s earlier experimentation with negative eugenics resulted in thousands of sterilized "feeble-minded" folks. Virginia, for example, sterilized over 8000 people from 1930 to 1980 during one of the most tragic and widespread eugenics programs in our history. It’s particularly disturbing then to note that Project Prevention has already claimed over 1000 wombs in under five years.

Sixth Circuit bickering

The Cincinnati Enquirer runs a story about the bickering and ill-will among judges on the Sixth Circuit. It sounds pretty bad. Notice that only Democrat appointed judges were interviewed.

Airborne laser defense system

Aviation Week and Space Technology has a report on the status of the airborne laser defense system.

Col. Collins cleared

Do you remember Colonel Tim Collins, the British orator and warrior who, on the eve of battle gave a great speech to his troops? He was later accused of mistreating captured toops. He has been cleared. Here is the Colonel’s battlefield speech as reported by NPR on March 23rd.  

Bustamante and MEChA

Pejman has a very good--and long--essay on who this folks are, wether or not they are racists, and why Bustamante hasn’t denounced them. Very interesting. 

Return to the classics

This newstory from the Washington Times is worth a look. It considers how more and more schools--private, charter, and other--are returning to the study of the classics, from Marva Collins to Terrence Moore (who is quoted). Here is one of Moore’s articles; there are more. 

Clinton’s counterterrorism policy

Richard Miniter, author of the recently released, Losing bin Laden: How Bill Clinton’s Failures Unleashed Global Terror, writes the first of four excerpts from the book. It should make for interesting reading even, though, of course, with any volume of this sort, the details are not possible to confirm. In this first piece he recounts how the conversation went at the highest levels whent he USS Cole was bombed.

The Najaf bombing

Tacitus has some interesting comments on the bombing of Ali’s Tomb. Who did it? Who gains most?

Harley at 100

Here is the NY Times article Harley-Davidson celebrating its 100th birthday. TheAmericanmind was at the party, but he thought the free concert was a let down. All this celebrating, talk about the wind in your face, freedom, rebellion, and such, reminds me that the myth of bikes in the US is something akin to Mardi Gras or the Oktoberfest; dentists and normal folks wanting to pretend to party every once in a while by "letting their hair down." Not such a bad thing. I bet bikers are less prone to heart attacks than an accountant without a hobby. In a hobby new brain cells are activated, and as, Churchill said, "when new stars become the lords of the ascendant, that relief, repose, refreshment are afforded."

There was also a mass by

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of Milwaukee. While he admitted that he did not know a lot about motorcyclists, he praised the hundreds of bikers assembled for their "deep love" of God’s creation, for their special care for one another and for having "an awful lot of trust in God’s protection" when on their Harleys. I thought that was pretty good. Happy are the riders, for they shall not be lonely. Wind and road, sound and speed, sight and sound, will keep them company to the end of the day, and, most hope, to the end of life.

The BBC mess

This NY Times article (Sunday) considers the damage to the reputation of the BBC resulting from their slanted reporting on Blair’s justification for going to war in Iraq. Josh Chafetz has a few thoughts on all this, and so does The Economist. There is more at Oxblog. The best that can be said about the BBC is that it is incompetent.

A Civil War re-enactment

Catherine Watson writes a lovely essay on her experience as a Civil War re-enactor at the 140th anniversary of Gettysburg. "Whenever the action swept toward me, the cavalry came so close that I could hear the clang of saber on saber and see the lathered sweat shining on the horses’ sides.

Big cannons were blasting nearby, their explosions so loud that my lungs shuddered, and gunpowder smoke hung over the field like clouds of sulfurous fog.

This was time travel, pure and simple, a painting of the Civil War come to life, a Mathew Brady photograph in living -- thankfully not dying -- color.

Even watching from the sidelines, I found it thrilling. For my comrades on horseback that weekend, the battle of Gettysburg had to be spectacular.

They were Confederates -- reenactors whose hobby is living and breathing the Civil War. A few months earlier, through a mutual friend, they’d invited me to camp with them at the huge reenactment scheduled for Gettysburg’s 140th anniversary.

The invitation had been irresistible: I’ve always been interested in the Civil War, and I’d always wanted to try reenacting. But I never imagined I’d be wearing gray. Or that I’d be impersonating a man.

Now, in the sweet rolling farmland of southern Pennsylvania, I was doing both. I was a dismounted but duly registered member of the 35th Battalion Virginia Cavalry." Read the whole thing. Thanks to

Iraq, al Qaeda notes

Monsoor Ijaz, according to this Guardian story, claims that the US and Pakistan made a decision to not chase bin Laden too strenuously for fear that there would be an upheaval in Pakistan if he were caught. I have no idea what to make of this story (or whether Guardian reporting should be even trusted), but here it is. And this Newsweek article claims that Afghans in the province of Kunar claim that bin Laden is alive. The article makes for a good read, even though it’s mostly guesswork. On the other hand, there is some heavy fighting in Zabul province (maybe 200 miles South of Kunar), and two Americans were killed. To make everything even more comlicated, note this review of Posner’s new book, Why America Slept, in Time magazine. Posner claims (among other things) that when Abu Zubaydah was interrogated (in part because he thought he was interrogated in Saudi Arabia by Saudis, and in part because of the truth serum he was given) he spilled the beans about the Saudi-Pakistan-al Qaida triangle. Unclarity reigns. I can’t even figure out why either the pro-Saddam people or al-Qaida would bomb the mosque in Najaf (or the UN compound, for that matter). Maybe those that argue that this is a sign of desperation of the bad guys are right; surely, the death of over a hundred Shiites (and wounding about five hundred) is not good PR, as the killing of American soldiers might be, from their point of view. The Iraqis are saying that the 19 suspects arrested so far have al Qaida links. This is still being disputed. The FBI will investigate. The Shiites that are saying (see this NY Times story) that the US is to be held responsible because we didn’t provide sufficient security are the same people who asked us to stay out of the town as much as possible, and especially to stay away from the mosque. The Washington Post says that the bambing was carefully planned, and that the truck was parked there for 24 hours, and the bomb was detonated by remote. The bomb, Iraqi police claim, was the of the same materials, Soviet era munitions, that was used in the bombing of both the UN building and the Jordanian embassy. The WaPo story also claims that we have agreed to start patrolling the area around the Ali shrine, which, until now we had been asked to stay away from.

Some oddities

If you’ve got nothing better to do, read on. General Motors will start producing Hummer H2’s in Russia. They think they can sell 400 per year, at about $85k to $110k each. Because it would seem that many thousands of high school students will not pass the state of New York’s strengthened Regents Exam, many are calling for lowering the standards. A man got two DUI’s in the same night from the same cop. It’s a good thing he lives in North Carolina rather than New York. I bet he wouldn’t have passed the new Regents exam. Hundreds are hurt in India when two villages participate in an ancient ritual of stone throwing. The injuries are fewer than last year. Why do they do this? To commemorate the two lovers--one from each village--who tried to elope, but the villagers stoned them to death. FBI agent fined for killing a lobster in Las Vegas restaurant. He was attending an accounting seminar. A fisherman, posing with a shark he had just caught, gets bitten and is rushed to the hospital. Student plagiarists get caught by teachers pasting questionable phrases into Google. I never would have thought of that. A prison escape in Argentina goes well, five escape through the whole, but the sixth, the fat man, gets stuck; the twenty four waiting behind him had to call the guards for help. A privacy group, aiming to show the ease with which private information may be obtained, got the social security numbers of CIA chief Tenet, and others, off the internet for $26. Das ist alles.

Onion, no joke

CNN runs this story on The Onion and how (barely)profitable it is. It brings in $7 mill a year. If you don’t know what The Onion is, go here to find out.

If you smoke, drink red wine

A new scientific study claims that if you smoke, you should drink red wine. Does this mean one glass of wine for each cigarette? Unclear.

Juan Everyman

The WaPo runs this portrait of Cruz Bustamante, the only Democrat who has a chance of becoming the next governor of California. He is portrayed as unimpressive and hard-working, and, above all, lucky.