Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Steyn on California

Mark Steyn’s observations on the California election, especially on the media coverage. True and fun. 

Iraqi success story

The Philadelphia Inquirer has a nice story on what is going on in Kirkuk, Iraq. "When they realized that the newly trained local police force desperately needed walkie-talkies, the U.S. troops who patrol Iraq’s fourth-largest city didn’t wait for civilian bureaucrats to buy them, as have their Baghdad counterparts.

The soldiers in Kirkuk found a dealer and ordered the radios with their emergency funds. They did the same with weapons, vehicles and office furniture."

Dennis Miller interview

American Enterprise On Line has a great interview with Dennis Miller. There are too many good and amusing lines in it for me to pick one. Read the whole thing.  

Arnold notes

Here is the New York Times story clarifying that Arnold was misquoted. It’s short, read it for yourself. Instead of saying he admired Hitler for what he did, Arnold said "But I didn’t admire him for what he did with it." The so-called author responsible for the misquote says: "I am amazed that something like that escaped me." Right. And thanks for the
New York Times for not checking the source. And this BBC report on the California bruhaha notes how Arnold chased Nazis in Graz, according to a news report filed a month ago. The
has more on the same issue. Also short. And the Survey USA Poll (PDF file) finds that the vast majority of Californians accept Arnold’s apology on the groping issue, and 58% think that those revelations are an attempt to smear him. The AP reports that the TV networks are all making a big-deal out of the California election and have set up shop in the state.

Ted Kennedy To Receive George Bush Award

Here’s a reminder why the first President Bush was a one termer.

"The George Bush Presidential Library Foundation today announced that United States Senator Edward M. Kennedy would receive the 2003 George Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service at a dinner ceremony held at the Bush Library Center on the Texas A&M campus on November 7." Here’s the whole report.

The Interim Progress Report on Iraqi WMDs

Was it too early for an “Interim Progress Report” from the group searching for WMDs in Iraq? The statement made yesterday by David Kay, the director of the Iraq Survey Group, comes after three months on the job. I don’t know whether he was required to make this report, but it might seem that three months is a long time to be searching a small country like Iraq and that surely we now have a pretty good idea of what is there. I just finished reading the statement and the truth is quite otherwise. Overall, the report is notable for its extreme caution. While admitting that no stocks of illegal weapons have been found, it concludes that we can’t say yet whether or not such weapons exist now or existed before the war; what we do know for sure is that there is plenty of evidence that Saddam intended to maintain a WMD program.

What is really interesting, though, are the problems in the search for WMD. First off, if your idea of what they are looking for is something big and distinctive, like a Soviet missile, a Wal-Mart store, or even a locomotive engine, you have the wrong idea. What Kay is looking for is small, the kind of thing that can be hidden in a scientist’s back yard or concealed in spaces “not much larger than a two car garage.” The things we are looking for, Kay says, are “difficult to near impossible to identify with normal search procedures.” It is going to take a lot longer than three months to get to the bottom here.

Besides that, Kay reveals that the Bathists went to great lengths to disperse and conceal their weapons programs. Indeed, his team has already “discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment” that Iraq successfully concealed from UN inspectors in 2002. Dozens! And then, leading up to, during, and even after the war, there is evidence of a systematic plan to destroy material and records relating to weapons programs. Again, Kay’s team has been able to examine only 10 of the 130 known Iraqi “Ammunition Storage Points, many of which exceed 50 square miles in size”. In other words, only 7% of the most obvious known sites have even been examined. Still again, the report suggests that some of the Iraqi scientists who might be willing to cooperate with the search team are holding back for fear of exposing themselves to war crimes prosecutions. And finally, as American inspectors go about their business the remnants of Saddam’s regime are shooting at them. In September alone, they were attacked three times, most recently on the 24th, when their Baghdad headquarters came under mortar attack. For all these reasons, I’d say that the “Interim Report” is more like a “Very Preliminary Report”. It is possible, even probable that Saddam destroyed or moved the most incriminating evidence, but there is an awful lot more work to be done before we can conclude that Iraq had no illicit weapons.

Rushing to judgment

Robert Alt, who among my many good and noble friends has more courage and wit than a couple of us combined (plus he can write!) gives us his opinion of the Rush-as-racist tempest. Read it.   

More on the Schwarzenegger Surprise

Anyone scandalized by the allegations in the Los Angeles Times regarding Arnold has probably never been involved in show business. If they were, they would realize that the atmosphere of even a high school drama or local theater rehearsal--let alone a Hollywood movie set--is a far cry from that which exists in the average office. The art of performance is an emotionally intense experience, and capable of generating behavior that would be far less acceptable in ordinary circumstances. Those old stories about the immorality of "show business folk," going back at least to the Elizabethan era, stem from this, I would argue. I have seen this sort of behavior personally in virtually every theater production in which I have been involved--going back to my Catholic high school drama club.

All of this is not necessarily to defend Schwarzenegger (although I would rather see him as governor than either Davis or Bustamante), but merely to try to put his behavior into some kind of perspective. He may well be a cad, but I have seen even people with otherwise high moral standards behave, in the context of the stage, in ways that would be shocking to those who have never been in such an environment.

Bad news morning?

This is my last blog for today. Nothing but meetings. I was busy all day and into the evening yesterday, got home, turned on the tube and everybody was talking about Arnold being a Nazi and Rush being a dope addict (yesterday he was proven to be a racist). And this was just after Arnold was responding to accusations of having behaved badly with some women on some movie set or another I don’t know how many years ago? And all this seemed to go on through this morning, as well. And there are long and serious interviews with Governor Davis where he is waxing philosophic and hardly partisan about these issues. He was being interviewed as if he were a professor of ethics and the case he was being asked to pontificate on was one in which he had no personal interest (I think it was CNN). What can one say about all this? Can these things be true? Or, is it possible that the establishment press and media has turned into the old fashioned partisan press of two hundred years ago? Accuse everyone and anyone of anything, and make sure the timing is right. Lord, what fools these mortals be. Do they think that the American people are so stupid that they don’t see through this stuff? What should this sort of so-called journalism be called? It has to have a name. And then there is an election on Tuesday...

Schwarzenegger Defense from an Unlikely Source

Susan Estrich, of all people, has come forward with an attack on the harassment allegations against Arnold. As she points out, none of the women mentioned in the Los Angeles Times story ever came forward before, to accuse him of a crime, or even to complain about the way he had behaved toward them. The newspaper, it seems, went looking for them, not vice versa.

Redux on McClintock Bowing Out

NLT is not the only website with a lively in-house debate about how McClintock should behave in the last week heading up to the election. On NRO, Arnold Steinberg and Wesley Smith are having an argument similar to the one Peter and I were having here with Steve Hayward and John Eastman a couple of days ago. (Smith’s piece is posted on the NRO Corner, on Wed. the 1st, so you’ll need to scroll down.)

Wesley Smith’s take is to say that McClintock is positioning himself for statewide office, e.g. like running against Barbara Boxer in 2004. He knows he’s not going to win the recall, but he’s using his message and the free media to build toward next year or thereafter. Even though he is not conceding to or endorsing Arnold, Smith argues, McClintock has taken the high road by not speaking ill of Arnold. This is not an unreasonable interpretation of events. The obvious questions are: Could McClintock earn more gratitude -- and reciprocity for 2004 -- from nonconservative Republicans by conceding to Arnold to cement a victory now? On the other hand, how much does McClintock protect his fortunes and those of California’s conservatives against Arnold’s being a disaster of a governor by not endorsing Arnold?

More Bad News Out of North Korea

North Korea claims it has developed atomic weapons.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- North Korea said Thursday it is using plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel rods to make atomic weapons, a move that could escalate tensions on the Korean peninsula and raise the stakes in Pyongyang’s standoff with the United States.

House Passes Partial Birth Ban

Fox News reports "[t]he bill, passed 281-142, could be taken up by the Senate as early as Friday." Should it ever be signed into law, an immediate court challenge has been promised.

Limbaugh Facing Drug Allegations

Fox News is now reporting that after resigning from ESPN yesterday, Rush Limbaugh now faces allegations that he has "illegally obtained and abused prescription painkillers in Florida."

The Wilson tempest

The Washington Post and the other suspect elite media are on top of this non-story. They smell scandal, and they mean to have one. This guy Wilson is all over television going on about I-don’t-know-what. But he wants some satisfaction; this foreign policy advisor and contributor to Kerry’s campaign, this intellectual snob, this self-serving chest thumper, does want satisfaction. Is there anyone who has seen this guy for more than two minutes think that he is a straight shooter, that he is really concerned about his third trophy-wife’s well being, that he is really concerned about national security, etc.? Well, I don’t. I think all this is a phony storm, nothing interesting will be discovered, and the investigation will go on and on, the President will be blamed more and more, and there will be no clarity, the so called scandal will just hang in the air.(Why doesn’t he conduct his own internal investigation? Why doesn’t he fire someone already? The justice department can’t really do it right, so maybe we ought to have an independent counsel, and so on.) But it will have served a nicely partisan, albeit temporary purpose by creating the appearance of a scandal; run with it and see what mischief you can cause. This White House is not scandal ridden enough, let’s get something going already! Maybe we can get Karl Rove in the process; and since he is the boy-genious behind all of Bush’s electoral victories, if he is thrown out, maybe we have a chance to win in 2004! If there turn out to be facts in this matter that differ from this I will change my mind. For now, I am settled on this opinion. Here is Robert Novak’s recent take on all this, since he is the one being held responsible for saying that it was a leak back in July. This stinks.

WMD Discovered

The Associated Press is reporting that Kuwaiti security authorities foiled an attempt to smuggle $60 million worth of chemical and biological warheads from Iraq to an unnamed European country. Hans Blix, who in recent days has reaffirmed his belief that no WMD would ever be found, may now take a bow: his prescience is as honed as his inspection skills. Members of the media and the Democratic flacks who called Bush a liar for the past 6 months should begin to compose their heartfeld apologies, which I am sure will include the words "but this doesn’t change anything."

Of course, this would require the story to get some coverage. Right now, I have only seen it once, and it seems to be far behind Rush-bashing in the news cycle. My sense is that it will be treated like the first day of the war: Saddam fired something like a dozen SCUD missiles--you know, the very missiles that he was not supposed to have and that Hans Blix never found. Yet despite this clear violation of UN directives, and despite this evidence that the inspectors failed to find all his weapons, the SCUD story received very little if any coverage. Oh well, I guess it is not as exciting as making flimsy claims against Rush.

Clark Not Registered

The Washington Times reports this morning that General Clark isn’t even a registered Democrat, "but that the paperwork to change his registration ’has been sitting on his desk for the last couple of weeks.’"

Show Me the Money

The Hill reports:

The Republican National Committee revealed yesterday that it has already socked away $27 million in the bank so far this year, a sum that could dampen Democratic hopes of retaking the White House next year.

That total is triple the$9 million that Democratic National Committee officials have reported saving in the first nine months of the year.


For the year as a whole, the RNC has raised roughly $77 million and the DNC has raised close to $31 million.

George Will on WMD

George Will writes with perfect clarity about how, on the hand, government is not an instrument of precision, and, on the other, how it must occasionally have to say--including possibly regarding the WMD in Iraq--we were wrong. He thinks everyone would understand and that it would be better for everyone concerned (including future government policy) than the kind of dancing the Bush administration has been doing.

Arnold’s agenda

The Sacramento Bee offers a brief report on a speech Arnold gave on Wednesday (with Simon, Riordan, and Senate Republican Leader Jim Brulte at his side) in which he outlined what he will do during the first hundred days as governor. "On his first day in office, he said, he would repeal the tripling of the state car tax then move to have the state budget audited and call a special session of the Legislature to enact spending cuts.
He also intends to seek a percentage of Indian gaming revenue and renegotiate state employee union contracts."

Daniel Weintraub has a few useful thoughts on this. He thinks that it is probable that Arnold could do most of what he wants to do: repeal the recent increase in car tax, freeze spending, and call a special session of the state legislature to make spending cuts in the current budget. He also wants to negotiate new compacts with the casino tribes, and new contracts with state employees. Weintraub covers the rest. Then he asks, "But can he succeed? I think he can. Just as Schwarzenegger has rewritten the rules of political campaigning, if he wins, he will be able to re-write the rules of governing. He would do this because he would have an ability that the Legislature does not have and that most governors before him have not been able to master: the ability to communicate directly with the people of California."

Arnold and Women, LA. Times

Surprise! A front page story in this morning’sLos Angeles Times on Arnold. "Six women who came into contact with Arnold Schwarzenegger on movie sets, in studio offices and in other settings over the last three decades say he touched them in a sexual manner without their consent." I know I am not the only person who thinks that this is low-ball politics in the guise of reporting. Four of the six women are anonymous, and the L.A. Times sought them all out, not one of them came forth to lodge a complaint at any time! There is probably more to come from similar anti-Arnold sources. All nicely timed to appear just a few days before the election. I can’t help thinking that they waited to use it until it was clear to them that Arnold is likely to win. He still will.

Faltering France

The International Herald Tribune runs this article on the decline of France. Especially the French intellectuals, it argues, are becoming resigned to the fact that their leadership--even within Europe--is not particularly wanted; this news is becoming acknowledged by the French elite.
"At its most hurtful and remarkable, and yet perhaps its most honest, there is the start of acceptance by segments of the French intellectual community that French leadership, as it is constituted now, is not something Europe wants - or France merits." Revealing and thoughtful. (via Instapundit)

Do students have too much homework?

This report on a Brookings study on the amount of homework students are assigned in primary and secondary schools makes clear what parents already know. It is light, less than one hour a day.

"High school students have an extraordinarily light homework load when compared with international peers, according to the Brookings study, citing a 1995-96 math and science survey. Among students in their final year of public schooling, those in France, Italy, Russia and South Africa reported spending at least twice as much time on homework as American students."

Here is the whole report from the Brookings Institution. (PDF file)

Poll numbers

Jill Stewart talks about how misleading numbers and polls can be. She references California, and the LA Times especially. Helpful. By the way, she mentions in passing that Californians have tried to recall a governor 31 times(!) without success.

Profile of Wilson

Here is the WaPo profile of Joseph C. Wilson, the one making all the accusations against the Bush administartion. You be the judge of who this guy is, and what his motives might be.

The Obvious: It’s Karl Rove

In case you hadn’t noticed, the latest media frenzy in D.C. has no other object than decapitating Karl Rove and thus the Bush Presidency. Some times the obvious has to be said, the Wall St. Journal says it here .

Here’s an excerpt: "We’ve been knocking our heads trying to figure out how a minor and well-known story about an alleged CIA "outing" has suddenly blossomed into a Beltway scandal-ette. The light bulb went off reading Monday’s White House press briefing.

Right out of the box, Helen Thomas asked if "the President tried to find out who outed the CIA agent? And has he fired anyone in the White House yet?" OK, the point of this exercise is to get President Bush to fire someone. But whom? That answer became clear when the press corps quickly uttered, and kept uttering for nearly an hour, the name "Karl Rove."

Of course!"

Isn’t that the politics of personal destruction?

Partial Birth Abortion 2

Augmenting Dr. Craig’s earlier post on the federal partial birth ban, The Detroit News reports that the Michigan legislature has sent its own partial birth ban to the governor. Incidentally, the ban passed the House with the exact number of votes necessary to override a veto, while the Senate was one vote shy of veto-override. Notably,

The bill would create the "Legal Birth Definition Act." It would define the moment a person is legally born as being when any part of a fetus is expelled from a woman’s body.

The state’s Democratic governor has not yet promised a veto, and I dare say that the override margins make this a trickier decision for her.

Corner Post on "Return"

I had planned to cross-blog my Corner comment on Return of the King here at No Left Turns after it was safely up, but Peter beat me to it. Here it is anyway, for dedicated NLT readers without time to get over to The Corner:

How can you preview a movie that is being released three months from now? When it’s the third installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Return of the King . The two-and-a half-minute trailer for "King" was released on Monday (see here), and although this is not much to go by, it offers hints that the last installment will get the big things right.

I have written previously (see here ) that the filmmakers have managed the rare feat of improving some aspects of Tolkien’s moral vision. One of the things that sets apart Tolkien’s great book from other recent so-called epics was the prominence of the tragic cost associated with the victory over Sauron’s evil. Contrast this with the treacly ending of the first Star Wars trilogy and you’ll see what I mean. The text messages in the trailer for King read: “There is no triumph without loss; No victory without suffering; No freedom without sacrifice.”

Near the end of the story Aragorn and Gandalf lead a last-ditch attack on Mordor with an inferior force that knows it marches to its death—a diversion they hope will aid Frodo’s chances of destroying the ring. In the book, Gandalf has a long parley with a senior captain of Sauron’s forces before the battle begins. It wouldn’t work very well on film, and it appears from the trailer that the filmmakers have substituted an original speech (that is, not from the book) from Aragorn in place of Gandalf’s parley that reminds of nothing so much as the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V: “A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends, and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day. This day—we fight!”

Okay, maybe not as lyrical as Shakespeare, but both fictional scenes recall a real moment from the not-too-distant past: Churchill’s “choking in our own blood” speech on May 28, 1940. Not yet three weeks in office, Churchill was facing intense pressure from the appeasers still in his war cabinet (Halifax and Chamberlain) to seek terms from Hitler. Churchill put them down once and for all with a speech to the entire cabinet that ended as follows: “If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each one of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground.” (Churchill’s deed didn’t become publicly known until after the war. The whole story is told in John Lukacs’ superb book Five Days in London, May 1940, from Yale University Press.) The point is: moral fiction does reflect reality at moments of great clarity.

Return of the King opens December 17. See you in the theater.

Return of the King

Steve Hayward at The Corner has a few great paragraphs on Return of the Ring, the third installment of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Hayward thinks that the films actually improves Tolkien’s moral vision. Good stuff, even on Churchill. It will be in theatres December 17th.

Response to John Moser

John Moser’s comment below needs to be taken seriously, of course. Actually more could be added. For example, I am against the recall (and referendum and initiative) as a matter of principle. These are additions to constitutional structures (or, representative democracy) stemming from the Progressive movements, as we know. (Heck, I’m even against the direct election of Senators, never mind the progressive income tax). Senator Kennedy said about a week ago, "This is too much democracy!" I agree. But, here we are, so in 1978 I voted for Proposition 13 in California.
And if I lived in California now I would vote for recalling Davis and for Arnold (not McClintock only because I don’t think he can win.) Will the recall be now used over and over again? Probably not, in my opinion. The recall has been attempted before for more ordinary partisan reasons (against then governor Reagan, as I recollect) and it never got enough signatures. If we go into such a "mobocratic" mode, time and again, we should oppose it, and try to change the system back to a more constitutional mode. That, of course, would take some doing because we would have to make the case that the people have too much power; a hard argument to make to the people. (And also that the political elites, via the constitutional structure, can be trusted; tough sell.) It goes without saying that the twist in all this is that these progressive modes (Referendum, initiative, recall) have been used against the liberal-progressive elites because they have strayed too far from the views and sentiments of the people. They stopped listening to the people (they have lost the trust of the citizens) and the citizens got a bit angry. So the liberal-progressive bunch are now against it because a kind of accountability is being forced on them that they don’t like. Well, on the one hand, let them suffer, on the other hand, it would be good to revert to the old and good and constitutional ways.

Distorting Bush’s EPA Record

Jonathan Adler has a fine piece at NRO on how the president’s critics distort the EPA’s regulatory reforms.

Searching for Solomon

The BBC reports on the two British women who each challenged Britain’s embryo law requiring which says "both parties must consent to the storage and use of embryos at every stage of the IVF process." In both of the High Court cases, the women wanted to implant their embryos and birth a child, while their male partners wanted the embryos destroyed. The High Court ruled that under British law the embryos must be destroyed.

This is an interesting spin on an anti-abortion strategy often proposed in the States. Anti-abortion advocates have suggested that because the father has just as much interest in the fetus as the mother, both parties must consent before the fetus can be destroyed. Of course, that’s not how it works here or in England, but it’s been argued. As the women note,

if they had fallen pregnant naturally, and then split up with their partners, the men would have no say over whether or not they could have their babies.

But oddly enough, in the case of embryos, even if the mother wants to have the child, the father’s interest in not procreating trumps the interests of both the mother and the child. Giving men a final say, it seems, will not always save the embryo from King Solomon’s sword.

Skepticism on the Recall

In the midst of the rejoicing over Davis’s apparently imminent political demise, and the debate over whether or not McClintock ought to withdraw, I wonder if an important point is being missed. The recall is, from a constitutional standpoint, a nightmare, and now that Republicans have let the genie out of the bottle, they might not like what it will do next. Assuming the polls are good predictors, Arnold Schwarzenegger is likely to be elected governor by a minority of the electorate. Would it not be reasonable to assume that some wealthy Democrat will immediately launch a campaign to recall him as well? As long as the political atmosphere remains so toxic--not only in California but nationally--I fear it may be quite some time before a governor in the Golden State will be allowed to serve a full term.

California Recall

The new L.A. Times Poll makes it more or less official: "A solid majority of likely voters favors removing Gov. Gray Davis from office in the recall election Tuesday, and Arnold Schwarzenegger has surged ahead of his rivals in the race to succeed him, according to a new Los Angeles Times poll.

By 56% to 42%, likely voters support ousting the Democratic incumbent, a sign that Davis has lost ground in the closing phase of his battle for political survival. Support for Davis has slipped among key parts of his political base — Democrats, women, moderates and liberals among them — since the last Times poll in early September found 50% for the recall and 47% against it."

"The shift in voter support toward Schwarzenegger is dramatic: Since the last Times poll, he has made double-digit gains among Republicans, independents, whites, senior citizens, women and other major voting blocs. The early September poll had Bustamante in the lead with 30%, followed by Schwarzenegger at 25% and McClintock at 18%. Bustamante had also led Schwarzenegger in an August poll, 35% to 22%."

There is a great amount of scrambling by the Demos in California, as you can imagine. Huffington drops out, now supports Davis (she had half of one percent in the poll). McAuliffe was visiting and blathered on yesterday, and a Clinton radio ad against the recall vote was aired; it is rumored that he’ll back to the state to try to help Davis. And Clark is there today. There are rumors that maybe Bustamante ought to drop out (he has kind of disappeared, by the way), that way Davis can pretend to be running against Arnold. Note that Latinos back the recall 50-47 percent, and 37 percent will vote for Arnold or McClintock. It goes on. Dying campaigns are kind of pathetic. Arnold’s victory will be a shock to the Democrats, and not only in California. What happens after that is not predictable, but it can’t be worse than Davis. Clearly, that’s what the voters are saying. The anger is real, the revolt against the arrogant elite has arrived.

Graph on deaths in Iraq

Samizdata has an interesting graph up on the coalition military deaths by month. There is also a good link to a chart detailing each death, both by accident and in combat. Very instructive, clearly a disconnect between what’s happening on the ground and what the elite media is reporting. (via Andrew Sullivan)

Partial Birth Abortion

This Washington Times article reports on the upcoming vote to ban partial birth abortion in the U.S. Congress.

Stopping money flow to terrorists proves difficult

Josh Meyer writes in the Los Angeles Times that our efforts to stop the flow of money to terrorists is not going well.

Third Guantanamo Arrest

The AP reports that a third person has been arrested--a civilian--in the Guantanamo espionage case. He is an Egyptian-born translator. The fact that he is a civilian makes this different from the other two arrests. It is likely that different courts would be involved, for example. He was detained at Boston’s Logan airport, as he was returning from Egypt, via Italy.

The non-story investigation

James Taranto very concisely lays out the Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame issue thus far, and why it seems to be a non-story. See under "Plame-out." Follow the links.

Reviewing Judicial Review

An accessible piece by Michael Uhlmann on judicial review and the rise of judicial supremacy appears here in this month’s First Things.   

George Soros calls for regime change

Another example of both the war-like mentality I mentioned below (as well as a misuse of a perfectly good phrase),George Soros calls for a "regime change" in the U.S.

California Agony

This Los Angeles Times story notes some of the problems Davis is having; they’re large problems. Democrats are drifting away from him, etc. He hopes that fear of Arnold as governor may pull a few votes his way. In the meantime the one who is most scared is Bustamante. He is talking to Terry McAullife (pleading, I bet) to see if an ad with Bill Clitnon could be put together in time. Among other things, this means that his people think that Davis will be recalled, therefore it’s legit to ask for DNC support. Too late.

The real Reagan (and his letters)

Andrew Sullivan’s op-ed for the (London)Sunday Times on the recently published letters of Ronald Reagan is first class, a must read. The revivification of Reagan as a very serious person, with some massive virtues, continues apace, and his detractors should continue eating crow. I haven’t read the book yet, but read into some of the letters, as published in Time (the one I linked to is to Hugh Heffner) and they are impressive. Here is a flavor of Sullivan:

"Reagan was a highly articulate, well-read and subtle man. The range of his interests, the extent of his knowledge and understanding of world events and history, his grasp of detail are all completely counter to the image we have long held. From developments in Communist China to the latest economic figures, from isolated dissidents he helped free from the Soviet Gulag to an intricate account of how the Iran-Contra affair escaped his political management, we find a man far more clued in than we had been led to believe. Maybe it’s a function of low expectations that I found the letters so impressive (and I haven’t managed to read all of them yet). Maybe it’s more brilliant stagecraft by the man or his editors. But private letters are among the most intimate of a public person’s output. They can reveal more about a person than many other public documents. And in this case, they really do."   

Brooks v. Krugman


David Brooks’ fine column today is perhaps a missile aimed at fellow Timesman Paul Krugman and other certified froth-at-the-mouth Bush-haters right down the hall from him at Times square (one might even call them the "Dowd-y" pages of the grey lady). See Donald Luskin’s piece on this on today’s National Review Online. (Luskin runs the "Krugman Truth Squad" effort that debunks every Krugman column by about 8:30 a.m. the morning they come out. It has been highly embarrassing for Krugman, a once-respected economist.)

One Cheer for Putin

Say what you will about Vladimir Putin, but he seems to be setting the stage for Russia to reject the Kyoto global warming treaty, which will be a death blow for the treaty, which was already on life support. Without Russia’s ratification, the treaty will not go into effect.

Yesterday Putin even said that Russia might benefit from global warming, a heresy that you aren’t supposed to utter. "If it warms up a degree or two, its not terrible. It might even be good--we’d spend less money on fur coats and other warm things."

Behind the scenes the Russians are demanding guarantees that they will collect the theoretical windfall that Kyoto seemingly promises them. Because the treaty uses 1990 as its baseline year, when the old Soviet Union had mich higher greenhouse gas emissions than today, Russia stands ready to sell emission credits in any kind of tradable emissions scheme. I’m betting the Europeans wll not want to make firm commitments to transfer billions of dollars to Russia just to satisfy their green lobbies.

Politics without trust

David Brooks writes a very fine article in today’s NYTimes on this theme: We have gone from the cultural wars to the presidency wars, and this is very dangerous stuff. The clash is not over philosophy (or, as he says, values) or policy, it is over legitimacy. So when Dean speaks of the Republicans as enemies, or says that what is at stake here is democracy itself, this is--unfortunately--too meaningful. It implies a perpetual war--driven by anger--among politicians; domestic politics now being conducted as if it were foreign relations. Is there any trust left? Are we still members of the same constitutional order? It can be hoped that Brooks is wrong, and I do hope it. It may be that this warrior mentality is just a manifestation of the natural (and not simply bad) anger that one party or side has against the other. But he is implying that this hatred is more than that.

Certainly, the upcoming presidential election cycle will decide some of these things, both in how the parties and the candidates talk about what is really important, how citizens will be persuaded or not, and then, just maybe, their decisions at the polls will dampen this dangerous enthusiasm among partisans of what, at the moment, may seem like different worlds. Warriors should be transformed into citizens, again. A certain amount of trust is necessary in this republican regime.


Baseball Again

"He who would understand America must understand baseball" Jacques Barzun.

Here’s the schedule for Major League Baseball’s playoffs. Starting today at 1:05.

Sorry the temperature is dipping in to the 30s, so I dream of baseball.

U.S. Funding Embryo Stem Cell Research

CNN reports that the U.S. government has issued grants for human embryo research.

The National Institutes of Health announced it was giving $6.3 million over three years to three centers to work on their stem cells -- the University of Wisconsin’s WiCell Institute; the University of Washington Seattle and the associated Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; and the University of Michigan Medical School.

President Bush generally opposes this work, so it should be interesting to see how he and his Council on Bioethics, headed by the venerable Leon Kass, respond.

West Point Honor Code

Paul Robinson writes a nice essay on the honor code at West Point ("a cadet will not lie, cheat, steal or tolarate those who do"). This Englishman thinks, apparently, that all is well with the US military.

Eugenics Revisited

The Miami Herald runs this story out of Denmark:

COPENHAGEN - A Danish academic has sparked an uproar by calling for state measures to encourage childbearing among intelligent people but to dissuade those with low intellectual ability, to create what he called a better Danish society.

Helmuth Nyborg, a well-known psychology professor at the University of Aarhus who specializes in intelligence research, said it was time to ’’abandon the politically correct’’ and to practice selection in order to ’’improve the coming generations and avoid degenerates in the population’’ in comments this weekend that have been widely reported on national television and the country’s main newspapers.

’’I’m aware that my proposal breaks a taboo that dates back more than half a century, since Hitler’s Aryan race program, and it is very controversial,’’ he said in an interview with Agence-France Presse.

’’But the debate has to be raised now because the trend is cause for concern in Denmark where we have an increasing number of problem kids,’’ he said.

Although not overly-familiar with Danish society, I’m sure there are other ways for the Danes to raise their intellegence quotient. For starters, they could stop giving academic posts to crazy people.

Gray, Fade to Black

The establishment in California is frantically trying to spin the latest poll numbers that show Gray Davis collapsing and Arnold surging, deploying all the usual poll-spinning tricks about sampling error, etc. But the reason why these numbers are likely correct arrived in the mail this week. Yesterday my car tax bill arrived. Last year’s tax was $180; this year’s: $425. That’s for a 1996 SUV, my only car in California. If you have two or three cars in your household as do most California households (California has more registered vehicles than licensed drivers), imagine the sticker shock people are getting this week. In many cases the tax boost for a household with late model cars is probably something like $1200. No wonder Gray’s chances are fading to black.

A similar thing happened with Proposition 13 in 1978. Polls showed the vote fairly close, until about three weeks before election day, when new property tax assessments (which had soared again) arrived in the mail. It was all over after that.

Separately, the Washington Post Style section today profiles one of the second-tier candidates, Trek Thunder Kelly. Turns out that is his real name; his parents, he says, considered naming him Sirf Cimmaron or Chet Chisholm. I am not making this up, and I doubt he is. I know a drop-out hippie couple near where I hang out at the beach on the central coast who named their kids Zuma and Blaise-Elation. Guess they’re not old enough to run for governor.

Wilson/CIA/White House

Pejman has some good thoughts on this Amb. Wilson/Valerie Plame/CIA and the so-called White House leak issue. Good links as well. I really don’t intend to follow this in any detail; it is a non-starter.

Louisiana race

I am taking a break from Xenophon, and instead of responding to dear-friends-who-are-sometimes-wrong, Hayward and Eastman, let me bring this interesting item to your attention. There is an open primary election for the governorship of Louisiana. One of the most interesting candidates in the field of 18, is the conservative Republican Bobby Jindal, a son of Indian immigrants. Here is the Time mag article on him. If elected he would become the nation’s youngest governor. Here is the AP story on him, and here is a short CNN note. Apparently the guy has a chance to make it into the runoff, since no one is likely to get the necessary 50 percent to win it outright. Worth watching.

No conservatives in graduate school

Now that David Brooks is writing opinion pieces for the New York Times, the oddest things appear in that paper; they seem so out of place. This one is about the prejudice on college campuses--especially among the so-called elite graduate schools--against conservative students, especially graduate students, most of whom, one would think, would want to turn back into the academy to become professors.  

Hayward’s Right

Steve Hayward has it right. McClintock will not get out, nor should he. For two reasons. 1st, as I wrote several weeks ago, if there is a Republican spoiler in this race, it is Schwarzenneger and the anti-principled Wilson machine backing him. Several polls--those that are public and even those that were privately commissioned by Schwarzenneger backers such as the Lincoln Club of Orange County for the express purpose of getting evidence that would force McClintock to withdraw--have both McClintock and Schwarzenneger beating Bustamante in head to head competitions. The fight, then, is not between prudence and principle, siding with someone who can win (but is bad on principle) or siding with someone who is good on principle (but can’t win). The fight, rather, is whether we win on the principled ground or win on the unprincipled ground.

Second, we’ll be glad that McClintock is still in the race after Bob Mulholland unleashes the Schwarzenneger scandals ads this week. If too many people have already voted for Arnold via absentee to cost McClintock the election as the only viable alternative to the Davis/Bustamante machine, it will be the fault of those who coronated Arnold early in the process, without considering his positions, the views of the voters, or Arnold’s utter lack of commitment to Republican principles (even his anti-tax campaign ads are contradicted by his ads, concurrently running, claiming that we need to raise taxes on Indian tribes!).
There are two ways for Republicans to win in this state. One is the Wilson way; by into enough of the left’s program to win over some center-left voters. The other is Reagan’s: Stand on principle; appeal to those who agree with the principle, particularly those who have not traditionally been affiliated with the Republican party--blue collar democrats for Reagan, conservative Hispanic Catholics now. With the voter animus against Davis, we had a historic opportunity to take the principled route, and our party establishment here has squandered it. Hurrary for Tom McClintock for not selling us down the river. Hurray for Bruce Herschensohn, Howard Ahmanson, and others for launching the independent expenditures cmapaign this week supporting McClintock.

Two Dissents

I hate to dissent from Peter’s judgments, but Tom McClintock is not going to drop out, despite the fact that he is a devotee of both Lincoln and Churchill, whose examples he knows well. Among other things, he owes the Republican Party establishment very little, since (bowing to Pete Wilson’s vindictiveness) it lifted nary a finger to help him in his winnable statewide controller’s race last year, where he ran ahead of every other Republican on the ballot. I know Tom very well; his rock-solid stubbornness is of a piece with his clarity on public policy issues. It ain’t gonna happen.

Nathaniel Stewart and others pass along good economic news. I hope they are right, but I am not so sure. There are worrying signs that the economy might stall out again. See John Makin’s latest Economic Outlook, where he points out continuing weakness in fundamental areas. Makin is my guru; he has an incredible record of calling economic turns. He was very optimistic three months ago, which makes his current worry something to pay attention to.

America’s Game

Yesterday marked the end of the regular season for Major League Baseball. The only exciting thing to be decided on the final day of the season was whether the Detroit Tigers would lose their 120th game of the season and thus tie the 1962 New York Mets as the worst team in Major League history. The Tigers celebrated by winning their 43rd game of the year to finish 43-119, next to the Mets 40-120. The Tigers were 38-118 with 6 games to go. Miraculously, the Tigers won 5 of their last 6 games. Thus, they are only the worst team in American League history.

In other baseball news, perhaps the most interesting fact about this season is that no one hit 50 home runs this year. That’s the first time in several years that has happened. The balance of power swings back toward pitchers.

The best young player in the Majors is Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals. Pujols just missed winning baseball’s triple crown. No one has won the triple crown since 1967. Pujols lead the National League in hitting (barely), and just missed leading the league in Home Run and RBIs. Pujols is the first man in history to hit .300, over 30 homers, and over 100 RBIS in each of his first 3 seasons in the bigs. No one has hit more homers at his age in major league history. Here is a man.

We face two weeks of play-offs and then the World Series. As we sit here, we face an amazing prospect, a World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox. If that’s possible, surely McClintock deserves our support. Ok, most likely, Yankees v. Braves but imagine could the Cubs win the Series for the first time since 1908 and or Red Sox for the first time since 1918. Wow.

Sit back and enjoy America’s game. By the way, did they play soccer in 1918?

Thinking I’m a Lincoln

As the Scarecrow sings, "Thinking I’m a Lincoln, if I only had a brain."

I agree with Peter and Eric: If the choice is between Bustamante and Arnold, then you go Arnold. Although I expect or predict, that if Arnold wins it will be a disaster for the Republican Party in California. Arnold is the only person who can pass a budget with major tax increases. Davis and Bustamante can’t. McClintock won’t. Arnold brings enough of the Republicans over the cliff.

Should McClintock drop out? Perhaps it would be the prudent thing to do. But McClintock has made a promise to his supporters and he states over and over in public that he keeps his promises. So he is really in a lose, lose situation. He can’t drop out because of that promise. Read his lips, so to speak. I expect it costs him more to drop out than to stay in the race.

Lincoln and McClintock

To add a footnote to Eric Claeys’ and Peter Schramm’s posts: The question here is how to get Davis out without getting Bustamante in. Conservatives have to win two votes, Davis one. Davis can win by campaiging against conservatives (hard) and against Bustamante (softly, e.g., signing the illegal alien driver license bill, which I think was a terrible mistake, politically, for him, as well as being despicable legislation to begin with).

In one view, McClintock may prove his irrelevance to the Republican Party in California by staying in and fading away to a distant third, behind the victorious Ahnold and Bustamante. Yet, his distance from the Ahnold campaign may be a boost to it as well: It makes less credible the likely last-minute assault by Davis of "right-wing coup" charges. If McClintock voters stay away from the polls altogether, that might help Davis on the all-important vote #1, getting him out.

If, and of course one mustn’t anticipate victory, Ahnold and McClintock together poll more than 50% of the vote, it might signal the beginning of a governing majority in California that had a significant conservative presence. Building it in the legislature is a long-term project, made formidable by redistricting that freezes into place current Democratic majorities. Governing by plebiscite (initiative), where conservative issues can come to the fore without support of the "rotten boroughs" exacerbated by the weight of the illegal immigrant population, appears to be the only significant short-term answer. Ahnold could be a powerful presence in this strategy. Of course, first he needs to win.

McClintock and Lincoln

Please note Eric’s good blog on why Lincoln withdrew from the Senate race in 1854 in order to make sure that a free-soil candidate would win and what that may have to do with McClintock pulling out of the race. If only half of the praise that McClintock is getting is true (fine, upstanding, principled man, etc.), then everything points to his pulling out within the next few days for the good of the cause. It would nail everything down very nicely for Arnold (he would certainly end up with more than 50 percent of the vote) and it would also place McClintock in a powerful position to affect the future governing of the state. I predict he will withdraw.

Women’s World Cup

Just for the record I happened to see all of the U.S. vs. North Korea Women’s World Cup game yesterday (That’s politics, isn’t it?). We played very well, and I enjoyed it. I am a little worried that we are getting so many goals from set pieces, though. We are in the quarterfinals and Norway is next; I’m told they are a tough team.

Dennis Miller for the Senate?

This LA Times story claims that Dennis Miller is being talked about seriously (read: it is being rumored) as a candidate for Senator Barbara Boxer’s seat. I really know nothing about Miller except that he is funny and seems very smart, yet, I think it could be fun. I bet Boxer wouldn’t be laughing, though, especially given that the Demo big guns couldn’t save Davis from ignoble defeat at the hands of angry Californians. Could the revolution against the liberal-left establishment in California just keep rolling?

The Joe Wilson affair

Clifford May has a few good words to say on this Joseph Wilson affair. Who leaked the fact that his wife worked for the CIA? The point is everyone knew, this guy has always been a self-serving chest thumper, and he is just continuing it. This is a non-story.

A "Cauldron of Contempt"?

Senate bickering escalates over Iraq. Statesmanship at its finest.

McClintock, Lincoln, and Bowing Out Gracefully

I didn’t blog on this, but I was always more optimistic than Peter about Tom McClintock’s chances in California. Back in August, there was plenty of reason to think that Arnold might torpedo his own candidacy, and McClintock clearly has had the best message. Now, thought, McClintock gave it his best shot, but he’s peaked and Arnold is surging. It’s time for McClintock to signal that his voters should vote for Arnold.

McClintock should do this especially if he wants to run for office two or four years from now. This reminds me of one of my favorite lessons from Abe Lincoln, who had to bow out once for the good of the cause. In 1854, to get a railroad bill through, Stephen Douglas acceded to the wishes of fire-eaters in the Senate and repealed enough of the Missouri Compromise to reopen the question whether Kansas and Nebraska should be free- or slave-soil states. That move fractured party alignments in Illinois, as it did throughout the North.

Lincoln did more than anyone else on the hustings in Illinois to explain why Douglas’ bill was disastrous. In the 1854 elections, Whigs and free-soil Democrats made huge gains in Illinois and elsewhere. The Illinois legislature needed to vote that winter to elect a U.S. Senator. I forget the exact numbers, but party-line Democrats had a plurality, but a free-soil Senator could win if six free-soil Democrats sided with the Whigs. There was a deadlock after many ballots, Lincoln got the Whig votes, Lyman Trumbull got the free-soil D. votes, but neither could get a majority. Eventually, Lincoln told the Whigs to throw their votes to Trumbull. It was more important to elect a free-soil Senator than for the Whigs to win.

I’m not sure we can imagine the sacrifice Lincoln was making at the time. Lincoln was an incredibly ambitious man. But in 1854, he had 0 political prospects. He’d been out of Congress for 4 years and he was languishing in private practice. By all rights, he deserved that Senate seat; he’d done more than anyone else in Illinois to explain the case against Douglas. By throwing in the towel, he was throwing away the chance to get back in the game, at a time when the country was hurtling toward the greatest political test any country can experience, a civil war about the nature of the regime. But Lincoln let Trumbull get the office and the honors, because the cause was more important than the man.

In the end, Lincoln’s sacrifice helped the cause -- and himself -- tremendously. Lincoln’s generosity taught free-soil Democrats and Whigs throughout the midwest that they had more in common with each other than they did with party-line Democrats, who took their orders from the fireeaters. That lesson helped the Republican party form. Also, Lincoln had a better chance than other Republicans of winning Democrat votes because Democrats thought fondly of him from 1854 forward. Good lessons for McClintock in 2004.

GOP to Address Unemployment This Week

It seems the Republicans are a bit concerned about the economy and the need for job creation. According to The Hill, "[e]lectoral worries prompt ‘laser beam’ focus on nationwide unemployment." The bill is scheduled to roll out this week.

Economy, More Good News

The AP reports the following:

WASHINGTON — America’s consumers — flush with tax cuts that left them with extra cash in their wallets — ratcheted up their spending by a strong 0.8 percent in August, helping to power an economic resurgence.

Eugenics Follow-up

It seems that North Carolina will
those the state involuntarily sterilized from 1929 to 1974, some 7600 people.

Euthanasia ’Round the World

The BBC provides this update on the international scope and status of the euthanasia debate. Of note is the American pastor arrested in Ireland for assisting in a woman’s suffocation--he has apparently been bedside at over 100 others. Chilling.

More on Ohio’s Gun Law

Peter Bronson has a nice piece in the Cincinnati Enquirer explaining the recent Ohio Supreme Court decision upholding a ban on concealed-carry.

The end is here for Davis

Right after the debate, I noted that the next polls would deal the death-blow to both Davis and Bustamente. Well, that blow is here. CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll finds that 63 percent will vote yes on the recall, while only 35 percent will vote no. And Arnold is beating Bustamante 40 percent to 25, with 18 percent for McClintock. Just for the record Huffington is at about 2 percent. The turnout is going to be very high. All the reports indicate (and even CNN pundits are now acknowledging this) that the two proximate causes that moved the voters are: One, the debate. Even though McClintock was superb and everyone says he won the debate, voters moved to Arnold because they don’t think McClintock is electable. And Bustamante hurt himself with his low keyed arrogance. Second, the decision of the three judge panel (now overturned) reminded people that this is a kind of revolution against the arrogant establishment. I remind you that all the Demos, from Clinton on down, who came to visit California and to support Davis, will not have helped. In any case, it really is over now. Arnold will be the next governor. It will be interesting to watch the week-long spin start taking shape.

Mickey Kaus has a few good paragraphs on how the LA Times started spinning the story already when Davis started calling on Arnold to debate. Daniel Weintraub has a few more notes on all this, including the very high turnout (which is in Arnold’s favor).

Media Coverage of Iraq

Pamela Hess, UPI’s Pentagon correspondent, has a long and interesting article on this question. Here is one who doesn’t think it’s too negative (has useful links). Daniel Henninger thinks that the little stories should be the big stories. Donald Walter saw the facts for himself. Jack Kelly thinks the press distorts.

On the Ground in Iraq

As usual, Victor Davis Hanson brings good sense and good reporting regarding what is actually happening on the ground in Iraq. This is an invaluable service to counter the madness one encounters on the reporting from the mainstream national press.