Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Gene Genie

While there are risks and dangers and certain moral questions raised by genetic biotechnology, here’s a sample of some potentially positive developments and discoveries in genetic research:

A gene may have been found for obsessive-compulsive disorders. Two genes greatly heighten cancer risk; and researchers have identified the gene for triggering puberty. One study suggests dad’s genes may be to blame for causing cancer, and a UK-German project has mapped gene switchesbehind cancer, while British doctors discover why a particular kind of gene therapy gave boys cancer. Another study suggests that gene mutation is linked to long life. Researchers also believe a gene may help explain SARS distribution.

All of this work is being done on a genome that has now been made to fit on dime-size chip.

Leftover life?

A new study shows that American couples have mixed feelings about what do with the "extra" embryos leftover from infertility treatment, and most haven’t given the problem much thought. Meanwhile, Canada has decided to use them for research.

Mock and Awe: Scalia at ISI Banquet

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this week.

At a gala dinner Thursday night in Washington, D.C., Justice Antonin Scalia spoke and, according to news reports, mocked the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on sodomy in the ’Lawrence v. Texas’ case.

Here’s a brief excerpt: The ruling, Scalia said, "held to be a constitutional right what had been a criminal offense at the time of the founding and for nearly 200 years thereafter." ..., Scalia said judges, including his colleagues on the Supreme Court, throw over the original meaning of the Constitution when it suits them. "Most of today’s experts on the Constitution think the document written in Philadelphia in 1787 was simply an early attempt at the construction of what is called a liberal political order, ..., All that the person interpreting or applying that document has to do is to read up on the latest academic understanding of liberal political theory and interpolate these constitutional understandings into the constitutional text."

Let’s hope he hasn’t set himself up for future recusals.

New Zogby Poll: New Hampshire

This new Zogby Poll shows Howard Dean with 40% and John Kerry with 17% in New Hampshire. Clark and Edwards come in with 6% each, Gephardt with 4%,Lieberman with 3%, and Kucinich, Sharpton, and Mosley-Braun with less than 1% each.

Dog breeds and neighborhoods

The New York Times reports that there is a correlation between dog breeds and neighborhoods in New York. For example, many of the city’s Shih Tzsus live on the tony Upper East Side, and its Rottweilers are likely to live in the South Bronx. And where is the Chihuahua to be found? Spanish Harlem.

Demo politics

Howard Dean leads Wesley Clark by six points (21 to 15 percent) in Michigan. Dean has taken the lead away from Lieberman in New York. Dean has 18 and Liberman 16 percent, according to the Marist Poll. Dennis Kucinich has declined to be on Hardball, criticizes Chris Matthews "conservative agenda." He is running dead last.

Intelligence in the internet era

A. Denis Clift writes a long article on intelligence in the era of the internet. Surprisingly readable. It appears in the CIA’s quarterly Studies in Intelligence.

Bush, Mahathir and Islam

This AP is on both Bush’s reaction to the Malaysian PM’s anti-Jewish comments, and other matters having to do with religion and the terror war, boardly understood. I am quoted, briefly, near the end of the article, for what it’s worth.

Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer

The New York Times is reporting that a professor (Mark von Hagen of Columbia) to analyze Walter Duranty’s writings on the Soviet Union, for which he received the Pulitzer. Other have been saying that he whitewashed the USSR and his Pulitzer ought to be withdrawn. The professor said this: "That lack of balance and uncritical acceptance of the Soviet self-justification for its cruel and wasteful regime was a disservice to the American readers of The New York Times and the liberal values they subscribe to and to the historical experience of the peoples of the Russian and Soviet empires and their struggle for a better life."

Should his Pulitzer be taken away? "They should take it away for the greater honor and glory of The New York Times," von Hagen said. "He really was kind of a disgrace in the history of The New York Times."

Is longer human life span worth it?

Scientists are reporting this as a result of their experiments on worms: "Further genetic interference of mutation-carrying worms, plus the removal of their reproductive systems, produced lifespans six times longer than normal."

Action, Action, Action, Action says Arnold

Here is the Sacramento Bee on Arnold’s meeting with the outgoing Davis. Please note a couple of things, first: "Promising to follow through on two highly contentious issues he hammered on during the gubernatorial recall campaign, Schwarzenegger said the special legislative session will deal with workers’ compensation reform and abolition of the new law to allow illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses.
If lawmakers don’t agree with him on the driver’s license law, he told them he’d actively support a proposed initiative that would ask voters to repeal the measure." He later said, "It will be repealed."

Second, "When a television reporter asked whether it might be wiser to move slowly during his first days in office so he can learn about the Capitol and build alliances with Democrats, Schwarzenegger scoffed at the notion.

’Action, action, action, action,’ Schwarzenegger said in characterizing his approach.

’That’s what people have voted me into this office for. They wanted to have a governor that is filled with action, that performs and that represents the people, and that’s what I’m here to do.’"

Just for the record, notice the inferior reporting in the AP report.

The Comeback of Blab Schools

Lucas Morel elaborates on the theme he blogged on below ("Willing Hearts in Harlem") in this good essay. Isn’t it about time that the catastrophe that is K-12 education for many so called minority students be revealed for what it is? Morel talks about the "cram schools" (or what Lincoln called "blab schools’): "While others have been blathering about finding new ways to teach America’s untouchables—the so-called unteachable kids of the inner city—more and more parents have decided not to wait for the next ’solution’ by the education ’experts.’ They are realizing that the most precious gift they can give their children is a proper education, and that this responsibility begins at home with their own decision to ensure that real learning actually take place." Read the whole thing.    

Willing Hearts in Harlem

Leave it to a Florida newspaper columnist to publicize a story about Harlem that should have been treated to a week-long series by the New York Times. Bill Maxwell of the St. Petersburg Times reports on “cram schools” in Harlem—that’s close to New York, isn’t it?--that are changing the lives of students through old-fashioned notions of what it takes to get good grades and, more importantly, instill a love of learning in youth.

“Black Families Open Up, Cram Education In” (Oct. 22)
, Maxwell reports that his cousin, despite being a single mom raising two boys in tough circumstances, is devoting hard-earned dollars to provide an education for her boys that is somehow not being provided by the tax-dollar-supported local school. Here’s an excerpt:

“One tangible payoff is the improvement of the boys’ grades. They went from earning C’s and the occasional B to making all A’s and B’s. The grades are important, but Shirley says she cares more about the boys’ new love of learning: ‘Up here in Harlem, they don’t have a lot of role models their own age. A lot of these kids don’t open a book after they get off the subway. My kids just don’t fit in because they love to study. That makes me feel bad.’

“‘The cram school is different. Those Korean kids study very hard. My boys are the only blacks in the school, but they fit in. I mean, it’s normal to work hard. Nobody says they’re acting white. When they see all these other kids studying, my kids don’t feel weird. The peer pressure is positive. Studying has become a habit--second nature.’”

“The boys’ new love of learning”? It’s “normal to work hard”? “Studying has become a habit”? Who knew?! When relatives told her she was pushing her kids too hard, she told them to get lost. I lift my No Left Turns mug   to the "cram schools" of New York, and say, "Leave no child behind."

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956

The Hungarian Revolution against the Soviets and Communism of 1956 started on October 23, 1956. Here are a few photos, re-published in one of today’s Hungarian newspapers (scroll down a bit, there are dozens). By circa November 4th, the Soviets decided to move and that was that. The last free Hungarian radio station (maybe it lived until the 6th or 9th, I can’t remember) spent its last hours broadcasting the Gettysburg Address in seven languages, follow by S.O.S. The Hungarian gave the phrase "freedom fighter" to the world. May the 30,000 or so thousand who died in those few weeks Rest in Peace. Oh, yes, one more thing. I want to say "thank you" to my parents for having the courage and the foresight to leave the country and to bring their family (my sister was four years old and I was ten) to the United States of America. When I asked my father why we were going to the U.S., he said "Because we were born Americans, but in the wrong place." Smart man, my father. Sokszor koszonom!

The non-headline news from Iraq

Austin Bay says that the "if it bleeds it leads" headlines from Iraq are not so much wrong, they are misleading and very incomplete. He rolls through some of our accomplisments. Karl Zinsmeister also goes over the great good that has already been done in this social and political revolution in Iraq. Would the headlines and the stories would reflect all this!
Trudy Rubin argues that the changes that have taken place in Mosul, under the leadership of Maj. General Petreaus (commander of the 101st Airborne) is a great example of how things should work, and Congress should take note: money is needed. General Petreaus has announced that his troops are moving out of Mosul and handing security over to Iraqis "as local government takes root and life slowly returns to normal." He also said that it would be possible to cut back on American troops by late February or early March without without adversely affecting security. Even the BBC is noting some of the progress made in re-establishing education.

Rumsfeld’s memo and uncertainty in politics and war

David Tucker doesn’t mind that Rumsfeld’s private memo was leaked to the press, because he thinks it is a good memo: it asks the right questions. The fact that he can asks such questions in the middle of things, as it were, is a good sign. This is the sort of things our enemies have never understood about Americans: Americans are able to act decisively, yet seemingly be disengaged in the midst of that action and ask rather philosophic questions and, if necessary, turn on a dime. Surprise to our enemies, political or military. And, as George Will reflects on Rumsfeld political character (in our lifetime only two other people have had political careers of such breadth, George Schultz and Patrick Moynihan)and his mid-western roots (his biographer calls him a "child of that prairie-driven culture of vitality.") he explains that Rummy is acting according to his own axiom: "A narrow focus on the certain obscures the almost-certain." Politics isn’t mathematics, and certainty is a luxury policymakers often cannot wait for. It’s too bad that Rummy’s opponents (and the administration’s opponents) don’t understand all this, with "their calculated extravagance." I believe they will suffer for it.


Daniel Weintraub has a few good paragraphs on the naming of Arnold’s chief of staff, Patricia Clarey, and his first opening to Tom McClintock.

Canada’s health care

Sally Pipes, of the Pacific Research Institute, has written four articles on Canada’s health and insurance systems. You had better read these first if you are inclined to be critical of our system. Here is second, third, and fourth.


Lt. Gen. Goetz Gliemeroth,Commander of the 5,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, said that "Apart from, if I may say so, the typical terrorist, we’ve got a new species," they are "excellently trained and ... they also have improved technique at hand." Not good news. Pakistan started fortifying its border with Afganistan to prevent to prevent al-Qaida and Taliban fugitives from sneaking
into the country.

North Korea, the horror

Claudia Rosett writes in the WSJ about the horror that is North Korea.

Intelligence, Iraq and WMDs

Seymour Hirsch has a New Yorker piece on intelligence, Iraq and WMD out. Before you make up your mind about what it means, you may want to glance at Kevin Whitted’s lengthy blog on tha matter.

Why Rumsfeld’s Memo is Good News

David Tucker, finally getting off of his lazy derriere, argues that this leaked memo by Rumsfeld is good news. He calls this memorandum "remarkable" and he explains why. Instead of spinning the story, you would think that the elite media could talk about it the same way, i.e., say something intelligent. A must read.   

Democrats attacking Democrats

Andrew Cuomo (son of Mario) blasts the Democrats’ for fumbling their response to a post 9/11 world. What’s more, Cuomo is praising President Bush "for recognizing the challenge of 9/11 and rising to it." Apparently, Andrew has a new book out. Zell Miller argues that his party has abandoned him and the rest of the South, in his new book.

Dean and Gephardt

According to a Zogby Poll, Gephardt has retaken the lead in Iowa. Howard Dean continues his lead in New Hampshire.

Freedom and Empire

Mac Owens confronts an old debate between Pinckney and Hamilton, the city and empire, poverty or freedom, because a new orgnaization called Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy has been brought to his attention: It is opposed to Bush’s foreign policy. Mac has a few things to say about it.  

On recusing oneself and the Constitution

Robert Alt pontificates on this recusal issue brought up recently by Justice Scalia, and thinks that today’s confirmation hearings on Justice Janice Rogers Brown should keep his points in mind. It is a Catch-22, he argues. Matthew J. Franck thinks that Alt is wrong; he thinks that the requirements of judicial ethics should not trump the constitutional obligations of Senators.

What’s in a name?

This was brought to my attention from The Corner.

RODEO, Calif.- Animal rights activists want the East Bay town of Rodeo --and pronounced ro-day-oh -- to change its name to Unity.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says the name recalls the sport of rodeo. They claim rodeo animals are abused and mistreated.

If Contra Costa County supervisors vote to change the name, PETA says it will donate $20,000 worth of veggie burgers to local schools.

I wonder if the Germans would rename Hamburg in exchange for some veggie treats. Someone should probably ask.

Intelligence doesn’t win wars

John Keegan explains why intelligence doesn’t win wars. Good piece, thoughtful, and useful for everyone, even though he emphasizes the British context.

"F.H. Himsley, the historian of British intelligence in the real war against Hitler, made a sustained attempt to show how intelligence affected its outcome. His conclusion, which did not please the intelligence establishment, is that the efforts of MI6 and Bletchley Park shortened the war, but emphatically did not win it.

His judgment has general application - intelligence never wins wars. As the American David Kahn, the supreme intelligence historian, puts it: ’There is an elemental point about intelligence - it is a secondary factor in war.’"

Please note Keegan’s new book: Intelligence in Warfare: From Nelson to Hitler.

Rumsfeld’s leaked memo

Here is the full text of Rummy’s leaked memo. It’s short, to the point, and asks the right questions. I don’t see anything to be upset about, these are just the kinds of questions the boss ought to be asking. It reveals to me that he continues to be a serious person; even in the middle of a war that he must be thinking about tactically, he is able to step back and ask strategic questions. The liberal press is spinning it every which way, to the surprise of no one.

"It’s restored my belief in God."

That’s how Terri Schiavo’s father has described the Florida legislature’s passage of a bill to save Terri’s life. Terri is being rehydrated thanks to the new Florida law that empowered Governor Jeb Bush to order her feeding tubes restored. The bill passed the House 73-24 and the Senate 23-15, and Bush signed it within minutes of passage. FoxNews has this story.

Under God

The Supreme Court will rule on the 9th Circuit’s decision to ban the words ’under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Ninth Circuit argues that the words ’under God’ constitute an establishment of religion.

Here are three good essays on the upcoming case by James Piereson ,

Terry Eastland , and

Robert Alt .

The articles discuss Scalia’s recusal, the question of standing, and the likelihood that the Supreme Court will reverse the 9th Circuit. Eastland believes that the Supreme Court will reverse the ruling but predicts the quick passage of a Constitutional Amendment if the Court doesn’t reverse the decision. Piereson thinks there’s a good chance the Court will uphold the 9th Circuit’s ruling.

Fire Boykin?

Fareed Zakaria argues that General Boykin ought to be fired. John Podhoretz agrees, sort of.

Woolsey on Posner’s book

James Woolsey, the former CIA chief, while stating that Gerald Posner’s "Why America Slept?" seems "to paint a representative picture of our somnolence, but my experience of being interviewed for the book, as a former director of the CIA, might give some readers pause about details." Worth reading.

Grade Inflation

USA Today notes that the proportion of of A students among college-bound seniors who took the SAT increased significantly in the past decade, but those students’ SAT scores fell during the same period.

Law of 14

Jonathan Rauch claims that "Presidential hopefuls have only about 14 years to make it to the White House." That means that "Only four candidates have a shot next year. They are President Bush, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, and Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. The rest are history. Sorry, Dick. Sorry, John. Sorry, Dennis, Joe, Carol, and Al. Turn off the lights behind you." Charming, let him explain.

God and War

Glenn Elmers , over at The Claremont Institute, weighs in on the recent controversy caused by General Boykin’s comments on God,i.e, the Christian God is the real god, War, Bush, etc.

A good, hard-hitting commentary.

Smoking and the Soul

Contra Harry Jaffa, Michael Foley makes the case for smoking and its relation to the soul in this article from ’First Things’. In case you didn’t know, cigarette smoking is to the passionate part of the soul, as cigar smoking is to the thymotic part, and pipe smoking is to the rational part of the soul.

No doubt Schramm will be off to the local tabacconist for a pipe soon.

Foley is a student of that Divine Comic, Ernest Fortin. A fun read.

Three Races for Governor

Here are updates, from, on the three gubernatorial races which will be held next month: Louisiana , Kentucky , and Mississippi .

Partial Birth Abortion Vote

The Seante has scheduled a vote on the partial birth abortion ban, according to this Newsreport.

The Presisdent will sign the bill and then the lawsuits will be filed.

Man Survives Plunge Over Niagra Falls

without a barrel.

Schiavo update

The Florida House of Representatives has passed legislation giving the governor the power to restore feeding and hydration tubes for patients in certain circumstances.

The House measure would give the state’s governor 15 days to order a feeding tube to be reinserted in cases like Schiavo’s. The governor’s power would be limited to cases where a person has left no living will, is in a persistent vegetative state, has had nutrition and hydration tubes removed and where a family member has challenged the removal.

The Florida Senate is taking up the bill.

Terri Schiavo Update

Republicans in the Florida legislature today discussed passing emergency legislation that might save Terri Schiavo’s life.

House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, R-Plant City, said negotiations were under way to see if some kind of a moratorium could be passed Monday to keep Schiavo alive.

Lawmakers were eyeing "moratorium on the removal of nutrition and hydration from those who do not have a written directive and where there’s a contest among the family about how to deal with this," Byrd said.

Governor Jeb Bush has been sympathetic to the Schiavo case, doing everything within his legal power to help, but said today "the legal ways, the remedies, don’t exist. We’ve tried every possible legal remedy and have been shut down by the courts."

Not So Fast

I read the article about Justice Stevens that Steven and Peter discuss below. Stevens’ quote is a little more ambiguous than they make it out to be. When Stevens talks about imposing the Justices’ will on the country, he didn’t expressly say that he wanted to impose his will on the country. He was making an argument for getting the Court out of the way and letting the state decide. He was saying that the conservatives would impose their will if they struck down the Michigan L.S. affirmative-action policy. I doubt you can use the quote below, all by itself, to indict Stevens as a justice who writes the law as he goes.

Bush confronts Mahathir

President Bush has condemned Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir’s remarks! Apparently he pulled Mahathir aside between meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and said the following, according to the AP: "President Bush on Monday personally condemned the Malaysian prime minister for his statement that Jews rule the world, pulling Mahathir Mohamad aside at an international economic meeting to tell him the remarks were ’wrong and divisive,’ Bush’s spokesman said.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan quoted Bush as telling the Malaysian leader, ’It stands squarely against what I believe in.’" Good for Bush! I wonder if anyone will accuse him of being undiplomatic. Maybe Chirac should.

Government Health Care Redux?

Here’s a recent ABC/WaPo story and poll that might suggest Americans would favor government-run health care:

Americans by a 2-1 margin, 62-32 percent, prefer a universal health insurance program over the current employer-based system. That support, however, is conditional: It falls to fewer than four in 10 if it means a limited choice of doctors, or waiting lists for non-emergency treatments.

Yet another reason for Republicans to retain both houses and the Oval Office.

Immiment Threat?

Tom Brazaitis (who used to be a senior editor for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, but is now identified as a "Washington columnist," writes a column responding to a reader who demanded that he prove that Bush ever said Saddam was an "imminent threat." Brazaitis admits that he was wrong in saying that! Yet, he goes on to say that Bush implied it! Amazing stuff and this is another example of a liberal going overboard (and even lying) and the generic problem with the elite media. He concludes: "Let’s be honest. The president took us to war because he wanted to and because he could." Instapundit has a few choice words on the matter.

Denied Last Rites

From the AP:

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (AP) — The Roman Catholic priest of a brain-damaged woman whose feeding tube was removed this week tried to give her a final communion Saturday but was refused entry by police officers guarding the entrance to the hospice.

Bob and Mary Schindler, the parents of Terri Schiavo, were joined by Monsignor Thaddeus Malinowski when they told officers they wanted to administer the Catholic rite of Viaticum, the last communion for a Catholic before death.

Police officers at the hospice told the family the rite would violate a doctor’s order that nothing be placed in her mouth, to prevent choking and aspiration.

Of course, if Terri Schiavo doesn’t choke on the wafer, but is actually able to swallow it, then in all likelihood the starvation efforts would have to stop and her life would have to be spared. It seems her husband doesn’t want to take that chance.

Judge Stevens’ comment

I just read the WaPo article that Hayward notes below. This is amazing. To be so public in revealing that all you are interested in is promoting agenda x,y, or z, rather than the Constitution can only mean that he didn’t think any mischief would follow. Stevens is assuming that since everyone has known this for years, he’s just making something public that everyone (or, at least certain Justices) has known in private. Well, I think mischief should follow. Don’t these guys take an oath to uphold the Constitution? Imposing their will on the public? Will the public take this lying down? Does the Constitution have no friends?

"If we impose our will..."

Critics of current jurisprudence have made much of the sheer willfulness of judges these days. In an astonishing article in Sunday’s Washington Post that I nearly missed, Justice John Paul Stevens spilled the beans on what he said to his fellow justices in their private conference on the Michigan affirmative action cases:

"If we impose our will on the nation, there will really be a sea change in societal behavior that will not easily be reversed."

Nothing about the law, or applying the principles of the Consitution. Not even an argument about what the principles of the Constitution are. Instead, Stevens sees the court as an institution of social engineering ("change in societal behavior. . ."). Amazing.

Amazing. Stevens should be impeached.

Change in Swiss politics

The Swiss People’s Party has won the biggest share of the vote in parliamentary elections in Switzerland, throwing a decades-old system of consensus government into turmoil. The SVP (as it is called) ran an anti-foreigner campaign (according to the BBC), and is now the largest party in Parliament.

Chirac won’t condemn Mahathir’s comments

It would seem that almost everyone is able and willing to condemn the Malaysian Prime Minister’s anti-Semitic remarks, except the French. Surprise. Here is the full text of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s talk. Mahathir has thanked Chirac for his support.

The Last Emperor

Peter Maass writes the cover article for the NY Times Magazine on one of my heroes: The Dear Leader, as he is called, Kim Jong Il of North Korea. It is long portrait of a tyrant, full of interesting information, and altogether a good read.  

History of the Phrase

James Piereson writes a long and thoughtful meditation on the meaning and origin of the phrase "under God," and especially as it may apply to its use in the Pledge of Allegiance. No doubt, some of his interpretations are arguable, yet, it is a fine long piece. I recommend it.   

Ig Nobel Prize Winners

The 2003 Ig Nobel Prize winners have been announced at Harvard. My favorite is in the category of physics: "An Analysis of the Forces Required to Drag Sheep Over Various Surfaces," published in Applied Ergonomics. Here is the whole paper in PDF format. You may also want ot glance at the Peace Prize, awarded to an Indian man for a triple accomplishment. I’m thinking that maybe you have nothing to do on this lovely Monday morning. You might want to have a glance at this before you go on your morning ride.

Are we in a Republican realignment?

Fred Barnes insists on saying yes. Although his article is worth reading because it lays out a number of GOP gains over the last few years and even deeper trends over the last few decades (including the California recall vote, and Arnold’s election), he is wrong is claiming that this is a realignment. The guys over at Powerline are right in arguing that Barnes is wrong. They point to a pregnant paragraph from Charles Kesler arguing that even the 1984 election did not lead to realingment (he wrote it in ’85). Here is the paragraph: "[T]he truth is that a sufficient cause for realigment -- a clear purpose or end that would organize and inform a new majority -- has not yet been articulated. To align, after all, means both to put something in a straight line and to take sides. Putting the definitions together, one might say that in American politics a realignment means that the voters take or switch sides in order to put the country back into line with its fundamental principles, or at least with what they regard as its fundamental principles. Hence realigning elections are sometimes called ’critical’ elections because ’critical’ implies a ’crisis,’ a turning point in the fortunes of the parties and the destiny of the country....[In the years of previous critical elections], the voters truly were presented with a ’choice, not an echo’; and based on that choice -- presented by a critical issue that cut across existing party lines or coalitions -- an enduring majority party was formed that dominated American national politics for the next 30 to 40 years."

It would have been better for Fred Barnes to note Kesler rather than Walter Dean Burnham, who claims that there is a "creeping mode of realignment, election by election." A realignment is not the same as marginalizing the opposition. FDR in the 1930’s not only marginalized the opposition, but build a new Democratic Party that cut across existing party lines or coalitions (as Kesler says) and thereby formed an enduring majority both electorally and ideologically. That realignment reigns--I’m sorry to say--to this day. Although Reagan took good shots at the New Deal ideology, he was never able to transform his thinking into a movement that became the basis of a political party (in the 1984 election he didn’t even try, hence his last-minute stop in Minnesota just to try to prevent Mondale from getting his home states’ electoral votes, rather than spending that time campaigning for Republican Congressional condidates); a re-invigorated political party according to the new principles is necessary for a realignment. Reagan failed, albeit he has come as close as anyone thus far in making a dent in the New Deal realignment.

This is not to say that (in theory) it can never be done. It is true as Barnes says (hence the usefulness of Barnes’ facts and figures) that the Republicans have made many gains over the last couple of decades, and even the last few years. But this is not yet enough. Yet, there are some signs that the thing may break. Here they are, quickly. The Democrats, in part because of Florida, and in part because of their extraordinary positions that they’re taking on the "war-on-terror-Iraq" (note which ones of them voted against the $87 Billion supplemental), and because of their over-the-top criticism of not only Bush’s policy in Iraq, but even questioning Dubya’s integrity, are putting themselves in a political cul de sac. The war on terror (I include Iraq in that) may end up breaking the realignment issue wide open. But it’s a big "maybe." The Republicans will have to take advantage of this by arguing (at some point) divisivelly that the Democrats have turned into a party that can no longer be trusted on certain issues, like national security because they no longer understand American principles. This argument would look and smell like the argument that FDR made against the GOP in the ’30’s: They are reactionaries, the party of the Tories, not to be trusted with articulating and putting into practice the things for which we stand (never mind for a moment that FDR mislead the people about what those principles meant, etc.). At the moment I don’t see any other basis for putting something in a straight line and taking sides (as Kesler puts it); the centralized welfare state that FDR used to separate the parties is no longer--at least for now--being questioned at its heart, as it seemed to be during the Reagan years.

All this doesn’t mean that Barnes’ isn’t partly right that the Demos are in a very weak position. They are. But it’s not a realignment because the Republicans have not yet made the disagreement with the Demos a matter of principle and a matter of party.

Clark in trouble

Time Mag reports that yet another video has emerged wherein Wesley Clark praises President Bush, this time it is eight months after the first praise which was in May 2001. A FOX News Poll notes that Clark’s national support has slipped 7 percentage points since September, yet he still leads with 13 percent.

Hillary in Iowa

Gues who’s going to be emceeing Iowa’s Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson dinner next month? Hillary Clinton, and the other Demo candidates are not amused.

California notes

The Sacramento Bee considers Arnold’s choice of Donna Arduin for new auditor. "Friends and foes of the new auditor describe her as a tough, smart fiscal conservative, totally loyal to her boss and more than ready to recommend budget cuts that anti-tax activists will love and the poor people’s lobby will hate."

Daniel Weintraub says that California Attorney General Bill Lockyer(D), says he voted for Arnold! The two paragraphs Weintraub has on this is worth reading; do not miss the second paragraph entitled, "Update."

The Colonial Machiavelli

Caleb Crain reviews David A. Price’s Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Heart of a New Nation. I like the review, the book might be a good read. It reflects on Captain John Smith’s "negotiations with people who would prefer you dead."

"In short, the English had landed in the sort of delicate, high-stakes, multicultural imbroglio that is best handled by an arrogant, contumacious, know-it-all bully. Fortunately, in addition to a number of well-connected gentlemen, the Virginia Company had appointed to the colony’s ruling council John Smith, a commoner who had read Machiavelli in his youth, self-consciously, and had fought the Ottoman Turks as a free lance in Eastern Europe."

"Remembering his Machiavelli, he always negotiated from a position of strength. When he first approached the neighboring Kecoughtans, they saw no need to pay a high price for his metal goods, because they thought the English were starving and desperate. Smith changed their minds; he would later tell two stories about how he did it. According to the first, he bluffed. He offered to sell at prices that were as scornfully high as the Kecoughtans’ were scornfully low, and he handed out gifts to the tribe’s children. The Kecoughtans decided he wasn’t desperate after all, and the next day Smith was able to bring 16 bushels of corn back to Jamestown. Smith’s second version did not feature such subtle psychology. In that account, Smith merely ’let fly his muskets, ran his boat on shore, whereat they all fled into the woods.’ In the scuffle that followed, the English seized an idol sacred to the Kecoughtans, who filled his boat with wild game and bread to ransom it." 

Let Iraq Rebuild Itself

Ilad Alawi (this month’s president of the Iraqi Governing Council) asks the U.S. to help rebuild Iraq’s military and police force, as soon as possible. "Iraqis are grateful for the tremendous efforts and sacrifices the United States is making on our behalf. Yet, ultimately, only Iraqis themselves can restore security, rebuild national institutions, enact a constitution and elect a democratic government. America must not rebuff Iraqis who are eager to have a stake in this intimate national process. Like any free people, we want to ensure that we are in control of our own destiny."

Change needed in Muslim lands?

Thomas L. Friedman’s op-ed in The New York Times is worth a quick read. He notes there are two tremors shaking the Arab world. The first is that the Saudis are preparing for some local elections. This news is akin to hearing that is is snowing in Riyadh! What’s going on? Well, among other things, Freidman argues, the Saudis are preparing themselves for "the uncomfortable possibility that by 2005 Iraq will hold a free election, which will shame all those who never have." The second is that some courageous Arab scholars are releasing the second Arab Human Development Report tomorrow. (Go to my July, 2002, comment on this report. And here is the very long 2002 Arab Human Development Report.) Although the 2003 Report is embargoed until tomorrow, Friedman thinks it will be another "bombshell." It will focus on the need to rebuild Arab "knowledge societies." The authors of the report believe that there must be some serious change in the region, changes that are more hospitable to human development; especially toward freedom of thought, women’s empowerement and the accountability of governments to the people. Developments in Iraq, Freidman implies, will help this needed change come about. I will take note of the new report as as soon as it is available.

A Little Taste of Home

WaPo is reporting that Burger King has a thriving restaurant at the Baghdad Int’l Airport. In the five months since it has opened, Baghdad Burger King has become one of the top ten BK franchises on the planet in sales. Of course, this isn’t the only place to eat at the airport. There is also the aptly named "Bob Hope Dining Facility."