Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Colin on Constitutions

The Washinton Times reports

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday suggested a one-year time frame for handing power to the Iraqi people — six months to write a constitution and another six months to organize and hold new elections.

I’m sure Mr. Alt has a take on this.

2nd Amendment Litigation

Dave Kopel posted a two-part piece at NRO this week for those interested in recent developments in gun-rights litigation. Part of an on-going debate over how firearms litigation ought to proceed, Kopel shows how the "fire-at-will" strategy has, well, backfired.

Piece 1 and Piece 2.  

Calls on the Do Not Call

Thanks to Howard Bashman for this.

Smoke ’em If You Got ’em

The AP reported Friday that

At the request of bar and restaurant owners, an appeals court Friday temporarily blocked an ordinance barring smoking in most public places in this city in the heart of tobacco country.

Please explain to me how a city in the nation’s #2 tobacco-growing state can even pass a smoking ban.

Government Spending

CATO’s Chris Edwards has a nice piece at FoxNews on government spending and the inability of governments to accurately predict costs and stick to budgets. 

Rumsfeld Is a "Psycopath"

...or so says Dr. Evil, er, I mean, North Korea.

Yes, these negotiations would be fun to watch if the plight of the North Korean people wasn’t so brutally sad.

Infiltrating al Qaeda

This is a book review Inside al Queda, a volume written by an Algerian Muslim journalist who posed as a terrorist sympathizer and inflitrated a Parisian al Qaeda cell. 

The 1996 assassination attempt of Uday Hussein

Peter Ford writes in the Christian Science Monitor apparently the first detailed account of the assassination attempt of Uday Hussein in 1996. Very interesting.  

Pennsylvania Senate Primary

In the battle for the U.S. Senate next year, Dems will have to defend 18 seats while Republicans will have to defend 15 seats.

Only one incumbent U.S. Senator faces a serious challenge for his party’s nomination. That’s Robert Bork’s favorite Republican Arlan Specter. Conservative Congressman Pat Toomey, 100% rating by the American Conservative Union, is challenging Specter, 50% American Conservative Union rating. Rachel DiCarlo writes in the latest ’Weekly Standard’ about that race. Specter has lined up party regulars including the White House and Rick Santorum but in a closed primary DiCarlo things Toomey has a chance. The best sign that this might be true is that Specter is already running ads attacking Toomey.

If re-elected Specter will be Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Orrin Hatch’s service as Judiciary Committee Chair will end because of Senate Rules limiting the terms of Committee Chairmen.

California polls

Daniel Weintraub reports that two Democratic polls (including one by the California Teachers Association) offer some bad news to both Governor Davis and Bustamante. For the recall: 54-40 and 54-41. And Arnold leads Bustamante in one, 31-26, with McClintock at 15; while the other has Bustamante ahead 30-29. No wonder Davis is calling on Arnold to debate him. Totall recall for Davis. Und das ist alles, baby, for Bustamante. Also note that registrations for independents are climbing, while those for Demos are falling. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the number of people registered to vote is greater now than it was for the election last November, and country registrars are predicting the highest absentee vote ever, even certainly higher than 2002, and maybe even higher than the presidential election in 2000.

Some polls

General Clark leads in Wisconsin, with 18 percent of the vote (followed by Lieberman with 14, and Dean with 13). But the highest percentage of those polled (32) were undecided. Dean leads in New Hampshire with 30 percent, according to Zogby. Kerry follows with 20 percent, and Clark with 10). Note that Lieberman has only 5 percent, and Edwards only 2 percent. In the meantime Bush’s popularity in Arizona plunges. Only 34 percent support his re-election.

Ohio ACLU outrage

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation board of directors recently selected two organizations to receive the organization’s annual Liberty’s Flame Award. One of them is the Ohio Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio). The award will be given on October 25th. CAIR is tied in very directly to radical/terrorist/Wahhabi Muslim groups, and is financed by Saudi Arabia, as this editorial in
The Findley Courier points out. This is an outrage. (via Charles Johnson)

Eurpean Union, built on sand

Paul Johnson, the eminent historian, writes in Forbes that the European Union is built on sand. The death of 10,000 elderly French is a sign of this, he argues.  

U.S. holding al-Qaida members in Iraq

Paul Bremer said that U.S. forces in Iraq are holding 19 suspected members of the al-Qaida terrorist network. The suspected al-Qaida members are among 248 non-Iraqi fighters being held by the Americans in Iraq, Bremer said in a Pentagon news conference.

Is Mel Gibson Evil?

Rabbi Daniel Lapin at National Review delivers an excellent critique of the Jewish establishment’s current outrage over Mel Gibson’s soon-to-be-released Passion. Definitely worth a read.   

Dr. Seuss in Latin

Green Eggs and Ham has been translated into Latin. There are two other Seuss books in Latin and they have sold over 60,000 copies. While I don’t think Seuss is great, I’m glad to see it selling so many copies in Latin. Somebody is making money! Good.

Economy, good news

It is being reported that GDP grew at 3.3% in the last quarter. The second-quarter pace of expansion was more than double the 1.4 percent posted in each of the two preceding quarters and was the strongest since a 4 percent advance in the third quarter last year. Expectations are that the next two quarters may grow at circa 4%.

Arnold on a roll

Debra Saunders beats up on Bustamante for his position on illegal immigrants: "He does not believe the state should distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants." This position, and his low-keyed arrogance in the debate, didn’t help him any. I have been watching the talking heads (especially the Democrats) about the California race, and just based on the spin they put on it, it is clear to me that Bustamante will not win. And Simon and Issa have endorsed Arnold, as are the GOP chairman of the 58 counties. The pressure on McClintock will now become serious. I’m waiting for the next poll. That should do it.

Maximum Steel, in 22 seconds

Space Daily is reporting that we dropped 80 JDAMS in 22 seconds, and they all hit individual targets! Interesting. "Placing maximum steel on the target is what we get paid to do as Air Force bomber pilots and that happened today in a big way," said Major William Power, 419th Flight Test Squadron B-2A project pilot.

Democratic debate (and Clark)

Andrew Sullivan has a few clear thoughts on last night’s debate. He found Clark more credible than he thought he would. William Saletan at Slate calls Clark "slick," and he had better stop. Andrew Busch explains why it is premature to declare Clark the best hope for Democrats. Busch is absolutely right that the other candidates will not give him a free pass, and that his association (tool of?) with the Clinton’s may not work to his advantage in the end. Note that
Opinion Journal
has published Clarke’s Arkansas Lincoln Day speech of 2001 in which he praises Bush and his cabinet, Reagan, et al. Worth a read.

I did not see all of the two hour long debate (how could one?) but I saw enough to see this: Clarke is slick (read opportunist), and is probably being taught to be even more slick by Clinton’s handlers. I think he had better keep the word "General" in front of his name; that will help him more than anything else he could do. Al Sharpton is the smartest and funniest of them all. He’s a delight to the ear. Howard Dean is really a very angry man, always. This guy is very unpleasant, and that will continue to be revealed as time passes. He reminds me of a dog growling at nothing. Dogs usually do that to make an impression and because they are afraid. Dean does it because it is his habit. I feel kind of sorry for Lieberman. I thought he did fine, but it doesn’t matter. Gephardt and the others are just tedious.

French deck of cards

Here is the French deck of cards, patterned after our Iraqi most wanted deck. It is put out by the guy who wrote a book on 9/11 claiming that no plane hit the Pentagon, etc. Bush is the King of Hearts, and Osama bin Laden is a Joker.

Clark notes

Matt Drudge dug up some comments by Wesley Clark on Reagan, Bush, Powell, Rumsfeld, from a speech he gave in May, 2001. They are very positive. Interesting. The Marist College Poll has Dean in the lead with 35% in New Hampshire (with Kerry has 22, and Clark at 11). Lieberman is next with 6%.

Polling on Bush

A new Zogby Poll shows Bush’s numbers climbing over the past few weeks. This, of course, seems to go against the trend in other polls. Here is the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, showing a decline, and Fox News poll, showing that his popularity is the lowest in his presidency.

Iraq should be a US led project

This is a touching--and even lovely--essay by David Warren on Bush’s UN speech and what the US is doing in Iraq, and why all this should be a US led project.  

China, top importer of weapons

China ordered $3.6 billion worth of conventional arms last year, cementing its position as the developing world’s No. 1 weapons importer, according to a U.S. Congressional Research Service. South Korea ranked second, then India, followed by Oman. The whole report, entitled, "Conventional Arms Transfers, 1995-2002," put out by the CRS can be seen here. (PDF file)

Iraq notes

The Christian Science Monitor has a story on the good progress toward self-government in northwest Iraq. The Marines have handed over Najaf province to Spanish contingent of troops. Mongolian troops (just over one hundred) arrive in Iraq. Unlike 745 years ago, they come to help build. The last time they were there, headed by the grandson of Ghengis Khan, they killed about 800,000 people in Baghdad. Interesting story, with a summary of recent Mongolian history. They were not asked to send troops, the Mongolians asked the US if they could. Mongolia needs friends. And the 5000 year oldWarka Mask was found and returned to the museum.

Guantanamo arrests

The Washington Times reports that more arrests are expected in the Guantanamo espionage charges. Two people have been arrested, one charged, and a third possibility is being discussed. I don’t claim to understand this yet, but it does seem to me that one part of the news is good: The first guy was arrested in July, but it was only announced a few days ago. This could mean that some time was taken--and information gathered from him used--to find out how broad all this is, and some more bad guys. Otherwise, this is not good news.

Clark and the Democrats

The Demos at The American Prospect are already saying that some of Clark’s early supporters are having second thoughts; they think he sold out. He is now surrounded by seasoned (read Clinton) political animals. The Boston Globe makes clear that Clark is now going into a different kind of combat, he is drawing fire, and it is not likely to stop. No more collegiality among Democrats. In the meantime, General Shelton says he will not support Clark, and engages in a bit of political assasination. Look at this:

"What do you think of General Wesley Clark and would you support him as a presidential candidate," was the question put to him by moderator Dick Henning, assuming that all military men stood in support of each other. General Shelton took a drink of water and Henning said, "I noticed you took a drink on that one!"

"That question makes me wish it were vodka," said Shelton. "I’ve known Wes for a long time. I will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues, things that are very near and dear to my heart. I’m not going to say whether I’m a Republican or a Democrat. I’ll just say Wes won’t get my vote."

Arguably this is unfair; why does he not give us the particulars? Yet, it will linger. The debate tonight should be interesting.

The California Debate

California Insider claims that no one won the debate. Perhaps that is technically true, but I disagree. If this were just an ordinary election, then, without doubt, Tom McClintock would have won the debate: Sensible, forthright, thoughtful, never petty. But this is not an ordinary election. I continue to maintain that voters will look to the outsider in this election above all others, and if they do so, they will go toward Arnold. This is not a techincal issue over so called "policy;" it is trying to find someone who is more trustworthy than the current political class. It was smart of Arnold and McClintock not to attack one another. Although over done, it was still smart of Arnold to pay attention to Huffington (even though their little shouting matches seemed quite petty, and
The New York Times
called it the "Arnold and Arianna Show") because in building her up, votes are taken away from Bustamante. The latter is boring, yet full of himself, a typical arrogant machine politician. He lost votes. Arnold was the focus, and he benefitted most from the evening. The next poll will have Arnold ahead. Also, do not believe that Gray Davis can pull this out; he cannot.

More Cloning News

A call went out on Tuesday for an international ban on reproductive human cloning. The proposal would still allow for "therapeutic cloning," an exception opposed by the U.S. and other countries, but at least the scientific community recognizes that "reproductive cloning was so dangerous - regardless of any moral qualms - that a worldwide ban was needed as soon as possible." As Britain’s Lord May observed:

Animal studies on reproductive cloning show a high incidence of foetal disorders and spontaneous abortions and of malformation and death among newborns. There is no reason to suppose that the outcome would be different in humans.

Ohio’s Concealed "Carry" Law Upheld

Striking a blow to Second Amendment and concealed-carry advocates here in Ohio, the Ohio Supreme Court today upheld the current state law governing the clandestine bearing of arms. In Klein v. Leis, the petitioners challenged a law that

broadly prohibits carrying concealed weapons, but allows persons arrested and charged for carrying a concealed weapon to win acquittal by proving one of several "affirmative defenses." Among those defenses are having "reasonable cause to fear a criminal attack" while engaged in lawful activity and working in a lawful business or occupation in which the defendant is "particularly susceptible to criminal attack."

Writing for the 5-2 majority, Jusice Pfeifer wrote,

The General Assembly has determined that prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons helps maintain an orderly and safe society. We conclude that that goal and the means used to attain it are reasonable. We hold that (the statute) does not unconstitutionally infringe the right to bear arms; there is no constitutional right to bear concealed weapons.

The upshot is: don’t carry a gun in Ohio unless someone is going to be shooting at you. A summary of the opinion is here, while the whole opinion may be read here.

Over-the-Top: Bush Hatred

Schramm and others have recently noted statements by Democrats that are simply over-the-top, grasping at strawmen,crazy caricatures of Bush and his policies. Bush seems to drive Democrats crazy.

Well, here’s the topper: Jonathan Chiat explains why I Hate George Bush in this ’New Republic’ aritcle. This guy hates ’W’ about as much as Edmund Morris had contempt for Reagan. Let’s see, he’s a cowboy, he’s cocky, he walks like guys I hated in high school. Bizarre.

Robert Bartley takes a shot at explaining why the Democrats hate Bush.

The Dems seem to be smoking the evil weed of self-destruction of late.

Speak plain English and teach the basics?

Dick Feagler, a popular columnist in these parts, writes this in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about what kindergarden students are supposed to know, according to the "educators" of Ohio. Very funny, especially because true.

A Good Game

USA Today begins this article, "Some Republicans are saying aloud something that seemed unthinkable just a few months ago: President Bush could lose next year’s election."

Let me be clear that I think this perception, fueled by the elite media, the Democrats’ attempt to latch unto something, anything--now WMD, now unilaterialism, now all-of-Iraq-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket--that will give them some traction, is a good thing. Perception in politics counts for much, and sometimes it seems as if it can take you all the way over the goal line. If Bush is going to seem vulnerable, this is the time to so seem. This had better not happen next April or May, for example. Anyone worthy of the name of analyst would have predicted a low point in Bush’s political fortunes sometime between now and the election; but no one could have predicted when that would happen. Well, here it is, or here is the perception of it. Now, let’s see how far they can carry this ball. Not as far as they think. In their enthusiastic raptures to multilateralism, their paeans to the upstanding French, their deep understanding of the ways diplomacy and war, their deep knowledge of the pessimistic nature of
Americans, these nay-sayers-of-negativism are forgetting that there is another team on the field between their driving perception and the goal post. This is a good game.

China, Chimeras and Clones

Tony Blankley explains the latest developments in embryo research. It seems the Chinese have created human-rabbit embryos from which they extracted "human" embryonic stem-cells. All part of their master-plan to lead us all to the brave new world. Blankley’s piece is worth a look.  

Are You Better Off Today Than You Were Six Months Ago?

The Washington Times reports that in a recent Gallup Poll, nearly two-thirds of Baghdad residents say removal of Saddam Hussein was worth any hardships they have endured. Only 8 percent of those question said that they believed their lives would be worse off as a result of the military campaign to remove Hussein and his leadership.

A Victory for Law

Professor Douglas Kmiec of Pepperdine Law School offers a lucid explanation of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals en banc decision, which permitted the California recall election to go forward as planned on October 7. Kmiec concludes: "The sun shines brighter on the golden republic today because in court, law prevailed over politics, and in so doing, allowed politics to have its appointed day." Well said.

We Need a Few Credible Baghdad Bobs

Freshman Democratic Congressman Jim Marshall recently returned from Iraq, and wrote this article for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that is well worth reading. In it, he asserts that the media’s jaded reports are misreporting the positive morale of the troops, and undermining a worthy cause. Here are some lengthy and notable excerpts:

Our currently stated objectives are to establish reasonable security and foster the creation of a secular, representative government with a stable market economy that provides broad opportunity throughout Iraqi society. Attaining these objectives in Iraq would inevitably transform the Arab world and immeasurably increase our future national security.

These are goals worthy of a fight, of sacrifice, of more lives lost now to save thousands, perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands in the future. In Mosul last Monday, a colonel in the 101st Airborne put it to me quite simply: "Sir, this is worth doing." No one I spoke with said anything different. And I spoke with all ranks.

But there will be more Blumbergs killed in action, many more. So it is worth doing only if we have a reasonable chance of success. And we do, but I’m afraid the news media are hurting our chances. They are dwelling upon the mistakes, the ambushes, the soldiers killed, the wounded, the Blumbergs. Fair enough. But it is not balancing this bad news with "the rest of the story," the progress made daily, the good news. The falsely bleak picture weakens our national resolve, discourages Iraqi cooperation and emboldens our enemy.

Congressman Marshall then focuses in on the scarcity of journalists providing genuine, on the scene coverage of our troops and the continuing efforts in Iraq:

During the conventional part of this conflict, embedded journalists reported the good, the bad and the ugly. Where are the embeds now that we are in the difficult part of the war, now that fair and balanced reporting is critically important to our chances of success? At the height of the conventional conflict, Fox News alone had 27 journalists embedded with U.S. troops (out of a total of 774 from all Western media). Today there are only 27 embedded journalists from all media combined. . . .

He concludes with a virtual call to journalistic arms: "We may need a few credible Baghdad Bobs to undo the harm done by our media. I’m afraid it is killing our troops." While I have quoted from the article extensively, it is worth reading in full, and deserves serious consideration.


Wesley Clark

Here is a longish profile by Evan Thomas, Newsweek, of Wesley Clark. When read carefully, the reader will discern many problematic aspects to his character and career. Once he nails down his front-of-the-pack status (by the end of this week), you will begin to hear more direct criticism from his opponents; they are not yet prepared to give up and hand him the nomination. Please notice that he has no friends.

Powell’s "Judeo-Christian" remark

Oh, oh! Colin Powell--if he has any liberal supporters left--has just lost all the others.

Another serviceman arrested for espionage

Yet another American serviceman, an interpreter (and a Muslim) at Guantanamo has been charged with espionage, according to ABC News. He was arrested in late July.

Fierce under arms, Aenas

This has turned out to be a better day than I thought it would be. I’ve been playing catch-up all day (after spending three hours at Reagan National last night; switching planes because of some mechanical problem--I don’t see why I don’t ride my bike every time I go to DC!), meeting with students, trying to watch the Pres, and so on. Yet, I have bumped into articles on Dante, and now Virgil. Robert Royal reviews a book by Eve Adler, "Vergil’s Empire: Political Thought in the Aeneid." Good review, just don’t forget the beauty offered up by Virgil.

I sing of warfare and a man at war./
From the sea-coast of Troy in early days/
He came to Italy by destiny,/
To our Lavinian western shore,/
A fugitive, this captain, buffeted/
Cruelly on land as on the sea/
By blows from powers of the air--behind them/
Baleful Juno in her sleepless rage./
And cruel losses were his lot in war,/
Till he could found a city and bring home/
His gods to Latium....

Dante’s Purgatory

"Somewhere in the netherworld, tucked between Heaven and Hell, liesPurgatory. It’s the only nondefinitive region in the afterlife, a way station, an opportunity for improvement—which is, perhaps, why I’m not revealing too much in admitting that I prefer it to the other two." This is the start of a nice short note on a new translation of Dante. It is worth a look.

Bush and the U.N.

Here is President Bush’s speech to the UN. Kofi Anan’s speech. A deeper analysis must be left for later, but for now a few notes: Bush’s speech worked. He reminded the UN what it’s supposed to be doing and thinking, and what that has to do with the war on terror. He stayed, I thought, reasonably firm on all the important issues, yet left openings for reluctant countries to come aboard in one capacity or another. My sense is that it is less important what amount they can help with or what form of assistance (train twenty Iraqi cops or two thousand) they can supply, than that they give or supply something. That this now has more domestic political ramifications than it did four months ago is true, and not inappropriate. I continue to maintain that the French are playing serious geopolitics and are mischevious and, yet, they are no yet into the deep end. They can be pulled back. And I think our diplomats (and Bush) are pulling.
All of this is affected by the perception that Iraq is in chaos (viz., CNN, NBC, et al). But it is not in chaos. That things have proven more difficult than most in the administration assumed is true, yet, things are better than they were six weeks ago. There is the frantic quality of the establishment media (now relying solely on the daily body count) added to by the equally frantic quality of the Demos who want to be president (and Senator Kennedy, who can never be). They are too screechy and too hopeful of bad news. This is now combined with the taste of blood from the most recent Gallup Poll showing both Kerry and Clark beating Bush. The next two weeks should reveal whether or not their frenzied rhetoric will continue to be able to play in Peoria. I don’t think so for two reasons: First, the facts on the ground will have to become more clear, to Bush’s advantage; second, Bush and his people are not yet fighting back, rhetorically, but they will; but probably not for many weeks, by the way. This will be (by the standards of the last few months) a much more drawn-out political battle in that will take about six months, and then it will take yet another form, for the actual campaign season. Here is Dick Morris’ short take on Clark’s rise and Bush’s "crash," even though I disagree with him when he says that Clark will be unable to win the primary. The fact that Clark went to the top of the Demo pack just days after he announced is the clearest indication that the Demo pack (pre-Clark) hasn’t been able to get off the starting block. Hence anything new is better, even an unknown like Clark. Clark’s rise says more about the intellectual deficit of the Demos, than it does about Bush’s vulnerability.

The recall is on again

Here is the full Ninth Circuit decision. It’s unanimous (despite the vast majority of the judges being Democratic appointees) and they harken back, simplyt and correctly to the California constitution. Good call. Now we have two weeks left. The odds are still that Davis will be out; the only real question is whether Bustamante will win because the republicans split the vote between Arnold and McClintock. Weaker odds have it that either Arnold or McClintock will drop out a few days after the debate, depending on the polls. Wouldn’t it be nice is someone did something unselfish in politics?

Defining Humanhood

An interesting discussion among researchers and ethicists continues to percolate on the subject of human embryo experiments. Parthenogenesis (literally, "virgin birth") is a process by which "an egg is finessed into developing without the help of sperm," thereby creating an unfertilized "human" embryo. Researchers looking to experiment on human embryos claim that parthenogenetically created embryos may alleviate religious and ethical concerns about human embryo destruction, which is to say, they regard such embryos as not human. (Currently, U.S. law does not agree.) This, of course, leads one to ask how ought we to define and consider the unfertilized but now developing human embryo? A particular mantra has been been "life begins at conception." What happens when conception does not occur?

Recent findings and a synopsis of the debate are reported here.

A Budding New PAC?

Frustrated by the climate on Capitol Hill, it seems stem-cell research advocates will turn to the ’04 presidential candidates in pushing their research agenda. Proving once again that science should never get in the way of good politics, er, something like that.