Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Indian progress

This Business Week article considers India’s extraordinary effort to run into the modern world, and what it has to do with us. Very informative. This is what happens to a country once the socialist barriers (or much of it, anyway) are lifted. "Quietly but with breathtaking speed, India and its millions of world-class engineering, business, and medical graduates are becoming enmeshed in America’s New Economy in ways most of us barely imagine. ’India has always had brilliant, educated people,’ says tech-trend forecaster Paul Saffo of the Institute for the Future in Menlo Park, Calif. ’Now Indians are taking the lead in colonizing cyberspace.’"


Housing prices in Baghdad

The price of housing in Bagdad has doubled doubled since the invasion. "’For years people have been scared to build anything new for fear that Saddam or the Americans would destroy their property. But now that fear is gone,’ said Majid al-Settah, director of the al-Jazeera estate agency in Baghdad."

Gay marriage

George Will argues that a constitutional amendment defining marriage between a man and a woman is not the way to go. Let the political discussion begin within states and hopes that the courts do not remove our right to talk and decide such matters, as they did regarding abortion. Robert P. George of Princeton opines in favor of a constitutional amendment and works carefully through the Massachusetts Supreme ourt decision.

GOP sell out?

David Brooks on the op-ed page of the New York Times examines the meaning--both electoral and philosophic--of the passage of the Medicare prescription drug bill. The good news is that the GOP is learning how to govern; it is in the habit of winning and is on a permanent offense. That bad news is that "We have plenty of Republicans in Congress, but few who actually belive in smaller government." The Club for Growth folks, among others, agree with this and are not amused. They are saying that the GOP is betraying its principles.

Ken Masugi has a few good thoughts on this, and I generally agree with them. All of this, of course, also has to do with "realignment" issues. The short of it is this: Do we trust the GOP to be in principle in favor of smaller government? And if we do--and keep in mind that in exchange for massive new spending, the law demands competitive reforms (hence the anger of Sen. Kennedy)--than all we have to do is to decide whether or not the passage of this law (and perhaps increased spending in other realms, for example, education) is a prudent decision made out of necessity, or whether it is made because the principle is given up. I think it is necessity. While the GOP’s (and the think tanks, and writers, et al) philosophical attack on the expansion of the welfare state has been very impressive for over a generation, the political effects of that attack have not yet been as effective as many of us think it should be; in short we have not yet shaped public opinion to question the expansion of the centralized welfare state root and branch. FDR and the others understood that it would be very difficult to end a program that everyone finds in his interest, unjust (and/or unconstitutional) though it may be. Yet, keep in mind Masugi’s point that the progressive referendum and the recall(who would have thought?) have been used for conservative ends. That’s why liberals can say with anger (as Sen. Kennedy did) that there is too much democracy in California. And I agree. Yet, the use of that direct democracy for conservative ends is a good thing and should--over time--force a movement back toward legislative responsibility and more limited constitutional government. A similar form of reasoning applies at the federal level. We need not betray our principles by doing what has been done on the prescription drug bill. We do have to make sure that we know the difference between necessity and principle, though. And let us come back to fight that on another day, as the competitive reforms in the bill should allow us to do. As Masugi says, let’s recognize the difference between a tactic and a long term strategy. Now let’s get to work on some other critical issues like abortion, gay marriage, etc.

Bush’s Common Touch

Much has been made of Bush serving up Thanksgiving dinner to the troops in Baghdad, as though it was a calculated pose devised by his PR people. More likely it is the real Bush in action.

I was having dinner at Morton’s on Connecticut Avenue in Washington in early October, 2001--less than a month after 9/11--when Bush showed up with a small entourage to have his first dinner out since 9/11. (I took it as a good sign that he came to Morton’s, where one is assured of a large cut of red meat.)

The entire restaurant immediately rose to its feet and applauded, of course, and Bush waved in every direction. But instead of working the tables to shake hands with the self-appointed VIPs who habituate Morton’s, Bush went to . . . the kitchen, where he shook hands and greeted the wait staff and cooks at length. The man has a genuine common touch.

The contrast with what Clinton would have done (assuming he would even go to Morton’s) could not have been greater.

Bush as a Mongol

Here is a predictable Left-wing reaction to Bush’s Baghdad trip from London’s Left-wing, The Independent. Note that the title is "The Turkey has Landed," and the last line: "Some Iraqis were unimpressed. ’To hell with Bush,’ said Mohammed al-Jubouri. ’He is another Mongol in a line of invaders who have destroyed Iraq.’" Oh, sure. In 1258 Ghengis Kahn’s grandson took Baghdad. The Mongols were (typically, as always) extremely destructive. They built a pyramid of skulls of Baghdad’s scholars, religious leaders, and poets and deliberately destroyed the city’s canals. In 1401 the Mongols did it again under Tamarlane. They razed the city, built some more pyramids of skulls and destroyed hundreds of villages and towns. Yup, the Mongols are to be compared to the Americans. Good reporting.

A hypersonic cruise missile?

Noah Shachtman writes that the Pentagon is interested in getting a much faster cruise missile than the Tomahawk: "The Tomahawk cruise missile may seem fast and far-reaching. But Pentagon planners want more. Late last week, they handed out contracts to 10 firms to start designing a hypersonic missile that can outrun the now-retired Concorde, and can hit a terrorist nest in Europe from the East Coast. The Falcon, or Force Application and Launch from the Continental United States, project aims to fire a bunker-busting bomb into near-space, and then send it crashing into a target more than 3,000 miles away, at four times the speed of sound." Good story, follow the links.

Harry Potter, gay identity politics or globalization?

This is an article on Harry Potter in last Sunday’s WaPo. It recounts how different scholars are deailing with both the book and its popularity. Some are pretty silly and about what you’d expect from today’s academics. One guy connects it to gay in identity politics, while another compares its popularity to Globalized fast foods! Jean Bethke Elshtain’s opinions are the most sensible.

Bush’s surprise visit

Mike Allen writes a long article in the WaPo on the whole "cloak and dagger" trip, and then another on how the trip was planned. Both are detailed and useful. It seems that
has Allen’s private notes on the trip; worth a look.

It turns out that the trip was six weeks in the planning, but only a handful of people knew about it. Even some of the
Secret Service
folks around didn’t know.

I think that it was a gutsy decision, one that will most certainly boost the morale of the troops. And it will also give a very clear signal that he means what he says about staying until the job is done. It shows resolve. Allen mentions a few other notable presidential visits in secrecy and even into combat zones, but he fails to mention Lincoln’s visit to Fort Stevens (North of Washington) in July of 1864. There, Lincoln was under fire by sharpshooters, and "a man was shot at his side", according to John Hay. Much has been made of this incident and many people. The future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and a free black woman named Elizabeth Thomas (whose house had been blown up by Union artillery) both claimed they were the one’s to yell at Lincoln something to the effect "Get down, you fool." I think this was the closest any sitting American president has come to danger in a war.

Here is the Time Mag story on the trip. I believe that the Demos will criticize the trip at their own peril; the American people certainly approve of such a Thanksgiving gesture. The spin has already started. On CNN this morning one of their reporters made reference to "political reprisals" stemming from the trip. This could have something to do with the fact that CNN is implying that they were tricked into not being in the White House press pool at the right time. But Fox News was in the pool. Some of the press (surprise) is just irritated that Bush "lied" to them. See this short note. Note that Senator Clinton was in Afganistan yesterday, She is in Iraq today.

Bush in Baghdad

Here is President Bush’s Thanksgiving Proclamation. And, just in case you have been in your basement all day, note that President Bush made a visit to Iraq today. He spent two and a half hours on the ground with 600 troops. It was done in great secrecy, and it worked. The troops were shocked, but very happy. He got an uprorious reception from them and you could tell W. was moved. He gave a good
to the troops. I am betting that our enemies are not amused by this brilliant caper. Good for Bush, good for our troops. If anyone doubted that we are in Iraq for the long haul, this trip and his words in Baghdad should remove any doubt. A very useful move. Happy Thanksgiving! Here is the Washington Post story on the trip. And the one from USA Today. And from FOX News.

Turducken Haiku

I love Turducken

In my own deep-oil fryer

Angioplasty . . .

Let Us Give Thanks. . .

. . . that we have made it to the Eve of Thanksgiving with not a single post on this esteemed site about that ghastly confection known as "turducken." Let us hope it is a fad, like "gay marriage."

Me, I’m doing my usual upside-down barbecued turkey (on a Weber barbecue, the only one to use, natch). Cheers.

The Gipper and the Hedgehog

Glenn Garvin writes a positive and good review of Peter Schweitzer’s "Reagan’s War: The Epic Story of His Forty Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism."

So how did Reagan do it? The answer, suggests Hoover Institution researcher and Cold War historian Peter Schweizer in his new book, Reagan’s War, can probably be found in Isaiah Berlin’s essay "The Fox and the Hedgehog." Berlin, musing on an obscure line penned by the Greek poet Archilochus, argued it was a modern typology. Archilochus wrote that the fox knows many things, while the hedgehog knows one big thing. Berlin characterized foxes as running hither and yon, taking actions that are unconnected by any guiding principle and that may even be at odds with one another. "Hedgehogs, on the other hand," writes Schweizer, "relate everything to a single central vision."  

Can’t Patent Humans in U.S.

Congress has agreed on language providing legislative backing to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office policy of not issueing patents on human life. According to reports:

The provision would ban patents for genetically engineered human embryos, fetuses and human beings, but would not affect patents on genes, cells, tissue and other biological products.

Congressman Weldon (R-FL) was the leading proponent of the measure in the House and should be commended for his efforts.


President Reagan said in his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1981: "America has much for which to be thankful. The unequaled freedom enjoyed by our citizens has provided a harvest of plenty to this Nation throughout its history." It is in this spirit of gratitude that we should celebrate Thanksgiving this year and every year. I plan to be at home with the family, eating more than I should and trying to keep a half-dozen unruly and talkative Americans from forgetting what we are as a people and why we are free and prosperous. Here is Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863. Happy Thanksgiving!

Warning about European Union

Arnaud de Borchgrave writes: "Czech President Vaclav Klaus said Europeans are living ’in the dream world of welfare, long vacations, guaranteed high pensions, and cradle-to-grave social security’ and are yet to realize ’they are not moving toward some sort of nirvana.’" Very thoughtful, read the whole thing. 

Political notes

The Washington Times reports that the GOP is looking to pick up 2 to 3 Senate seats in the next election. A Mason-Dixon Poll finds Bush ahead by 20 points in Florida. Tom Keene thinks that the Democrats have been getting nothing but bad news. Zev Chafets agrees that Bush and the GOP is on a roll. Tony Blankley argues that with the passage of Medicare/prescription drug bill the center of gravity has shifted in Washington for the first time since FDR. A bit of an overstatement, yet worth considering. John Podhoretz argues that the Dems should be afraid of the future.

Loss of American Memory

Bruce Cole, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, thinks that especially in the light of 9/11 "it is all the more urgent that we study American institutions, culture and history. Defending our democracy demands more than successful military campaigns. It also requires an understanding of the ideals, ideas and institutions that have shaped our country.
This is not a new concept. America’s founders recognized the importance of an informed and educated citizenry as necessary for the survival of our participatory democracy. James Madison famously said, "The diffusion of knowledge is the only true guardian of liberty." Such knowledge tells us who we are as a people and why our country is worth fighting for. Such knowledge is part of our homeland defense.

Our values, ideas and collective memories are not self-sustaining. Just as free peoples must take responsibility for their own defense, they also must pass on to future generations the knowledge that sustains democracy." Cole will be speaking at the Ashbrook Center on March 17th.

Senate Passes Medicare Reform

From Fox News:

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted 54-44 Tuesday to update Medicare and give a prescription drug benefit to the 42 million seniors receiving the 38-year-old entitlement -- a major legislative victory for President Bush.

The thin veneer of civilization

Patrick J. Garrity inaugurates his column "Statecraft and Ballcraft" with an article entitled "Golf and the Thin Veneer of Civilization." Now let me just tell you that the article is about sports, winning, civility and honor. It is about the Guardians of the Game. No, actually, it is about an aristocratic game in democratic times. No, it is about politics. No, it is about statesmanship. No, it is about gentlemen and ladies. No, it is about the difference bewteeen barbarism and civilization. No, it is about golf. It doesn’t matter, you read it and don’t you dare tell me you don’t like it. Expect more from Garrity. Five cups of your best.      

Kipling and Iraq

James Pinkerton writes an unusually thoughtful column on Iraq, focusing on the horror of the two American soldiers’ mutilation on Sunday. It leans toward pessimism, but this is allowed because he relies on Kipling’s poetry and character to reflect on the horror of war, especially in the part of the world. Here is Kipling’s poem, "Tommy", and "The Young Birtish Soldier." And, if you are up to it, "The White Man’s Burden."

Blistering economy

It turns out that the economy grew at an 8.2% annual rate last quarter, rather than the 7.2% that the Commerce Department had reported a few weeks ago. This is the fastest pace since the first quarter of 1984, when Reagan was president. And consumer confidence is the highest in a year. Not bad!

Who should be sent to Iraq? Sean Penn or Robert Alt?

This report says that it is possible that Sean Penn will go to Iraq and write articles for a San Francisco paper. Oh, this will be helpful, won’t it? Penn’s reporting will help make the coverage more balanced, or thoughtful? I don’t think so. But sending Robert Alt would be helpful, so the Ashbrook Center is going to send him, and not for a few days. He will go to Iraq in February and stay for many months. He will write dispatches and articles for us, as well as the national press. I’ll keep you informed of this over the next many weeks, but you should know that we are going to do this. And, you should know that we need your help. Although we have raised some money, we need more. If you are interested in helping and finding out more about the project send us an e-mail or call us (talk to me or Eric Green) at: 419-289-5411.

Iraqi matters

I am back from my California trip. It all went well, got a lot of business done, drove around Carmel and environs, saw my mother and many friends. Now, back to work. This story in Washington Post makes crystal clear the difficulties we are encountering in Iraq. It addresses the issue of the Iraqi secuiryt forces we are training and the extraordinary difficulties they, aspecially in the Sunni Triangle, are finding themselves in. There are partisans of the old order who will continue to harrass and attack these new guys, and this will probably be the case for a long time to come. We have to make sure they know that we are not going to leave them hanging. It is no good to continue to remind ourselves that--in our otherwise illustrious history--sometimes we have let people down. This should not be one of those cases. Courage and stamina are needed. Too much is at stake. President Bush understands this, according to this report of his speech at Fort Carson.

More Tolkien

Following up on Claeys’ post, here’s a piece in First Things on "Tolkien and the Gift of Mortality." Not a Tolkien scholar myself, I can’t speak to the veracity of the insight, but I think it’s worth a read for those who can’t get enough about the great myth.


Wes Pruden had this take on the President’s faith and why the Left and the European media can’t stand that he has one, and why the Religious Right thinks it’s wrong. 

Apologizing for "Metrosexual"

According to this article, the journalist who coined the term "metrosexual" is sorry that he ever did.

"I had no idea what I was starting," he said, speaking exclusively from his home in London, England. "If I’d known that metrosexuals would take over the world and make everyone wear fake tan and use glutinous hair care products I would have written about baseball instead."

Kerry, Sliding Further

John Kerry today tried to "re-launch" his sinking presidential campaign with the unveiling of a plan for what he’d do with his first 100 days in the White House.

But then, in an attempted indirect slap at Howard Dean, he said to New Hampshire voters, "Don’t just send them a message; send them a president."

This was Jimmy Carter’s slogan back in 1976, which he used as a way of attacking and siphoning votes from George Wallace. Can’t Kerry come up with his own slogans? Borrowing from Jimmy Carter isn’t a very good sign.

More on the Whitehall Speech

John Zvesper has a thoughtful analysis of President Bush’s Whitehall speech posted on the Ashbrook web site.   

An Obscene Street Name?

Here’s something amusing I found at According to ABC News, a group of Wyoming residents who live on County Road 6FU are petitioning for a name change.

"The name of this road, with its obscene overtone, has really been a thorn for me," resident Terry Hinkle said. "It is probably one of the most embarrassing road names the county has in the books. There is no other road in the United States, I can assure you, that has the road name FU."

The Two Towers extended version

To all you LOTR junkies out there, I recommend watching the extended DVD version of the Two Towers, now in stores. The movie version was good but choppy. The extra 45 minutes of scenes added make the plot easier to follow and more believable. For one thing, the extended version makes Faramir a lot more sympathetic and understandable than the weasel he is in the movie. Also, in the theater version, at the end of the battle for Helm’s Deep, you were left with the impression that the Rohirrim had scattered the forces of Isengard but not eliminated them. It would be totally unbelievable for the Rohirrim to ride to Gondor in the third movie if they had left several thousand well-armed and organized uruk-hai to threaten their homes, children, and wives back in Rohan. Not to give anything away, but the extended version adds scenes taking care of this discrepancy, and in a very satisfying way.

More important, the extended version adds scenes that flesh out the moral tension in the movie. Steve Hayward has expressed some good pet peeves about the movies, but I have one too. Mine is that the movies have eliminated dialogue from the books showing how evil corrupts judgment. Sauron, the most powerful being in Middle Earth, is so consumed by the lust for domination that he cannot possibly imagine that his adversaries might wish to destroy the Ring, the one object they might use to dominate him. In the books, the wisest leaders of the free peoples show they understand that Sauron’s corruption gives them an advantage over an otherwise overpowering enemy. I’ve grumbled through the 2 movies because this dialogue never made it on to screen, but it has now in the extended version. Worth my $30.

Top Ten

Here’s a list of the ’Top Ten American Biographies Everyone Shoud Read’
from Human Events .

Back on Monday

I’ll be in California on business until Monday evening, so my blogging will be sporadic at best. I trust that Craig, Stewart, Claeys, Alt and the rest will share their wisdom in my absence.

Dems on Guns and Deer

Here’s John Lott’s take on the Dems’ sustained confusion on the gun ban issue. The federal "assault weapons" ban will expire next year and the stumping has begun to see that it’s extended. Senator Chuck Schumer has declared the ban one of "the most effective measures against terrorism that we have." Of course it is, Senator, because as the bumper sticker I saw last week explained:

"Guns Kill People. And Spoons Made Rosie O’Donnel Fat."

Bush’s Speech at Whitehall

Here’s President Bush’s outstanding speech delivered earlier today at Whitehall Palace in London.

I am so grateful that this man is President.

Patenting Embryos

The WaPo reports on the congressional skirmish about to break over "the contentious question of whether the government should issue patents on human embryos or medical products that come from them." The massive U.S. Appropriations bill currently includes language that would bar the U.S. Patent Office from issuing patents on human embryos. From the story:

"If patents on human embryos are allowed, then biotech companies will market babies with certain traits just like Perdue markets chicken or Ford markets sport-utility vehicles," Lori B. Andrews, a law professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law, editorialized recently in the Chicago Tribune.

"The case was fixed"

Or so reads the Washington Times headline on the confirmation proceedings for judicial nominees to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. At the center of the controversy is a 2002 memo from a Sen. Kennedy staffer advising the Senator to slow the proceedings:

The thinking is that the current 6th Circuit will sustain the affirmative action program, but if a new judge with conservative views is confirmed before the case is decided, that new judge will be able, under 6th Circuit rules, to review the case and vote on it.

Gay and Married in Massachusetts

The 4-3 decision was handed down this morning declaring that Massachusetts may not "deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry."

Here’s Fox’s story.

Bush’s London interview

This is President Bush’s interview with the London "Sun."

Kampelman on Reagan

Max Kampelman, a liberal, uses the CBS controversy to reflect on Ronald Reagan as he knew him. Good read.  

New Aeschylus play

A newly discovered play by Aeschylus on Achilles will be preformed in Greece and Cyprus next summer. Amazing story. (Thanks to John J. Miller at The Corner)

Democratic political wrap

Lawrence Levy gives credit to Hillary’s Iowa performance: she did good for her Party and the Demos should listen to her. Bill O’Reilly thinks that the Left’s (and Dean’s) anger at Bush is not good for the Party: even if Iraq falls apart Dean will lose. George Will thinks that the Demos had better nominate Dean, or they will lose big time. Very fine writing, read it. But Howard Finemann explains how he thinks Hillary can end up with the nomination.

Blanco wins with white votes

As you already know, Blanco won in Louisiana, 52-48%. This Times-Picayune claims that on the one hand Jindal got almost twice the number of black votes Republicans normally get, on the other hand, "Blanco’s remarkable victory Saturday was propelled by her ability to capture more white voters than Democrats typically can count on in statewide races against Republicans." Ron Brownstein thinks this: "Like a retreating army pushed back to the sea, Democrats rallied to hold the Louisiana governorship Saturday when Lt. Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco defeated Republican Bobby Jindal.

The win will probably avert a full-scale panic among Southern Democrats unnerved when the GOP captured governorships in Kentucky and Mississippi two weeks ago.

Yet the overall trend in the region since President Bush took office still looks ominous for Democrats."

Bob Arnot & Iraq press coverage

I have watched Bob Arnot a couple of times on CNBC (on Hardball) and was surprised to see two things: One, his coverage (isn’t this guy a Medical Doctor, and didn’t he start out as a guy talking about health issues?) seemes much more interesting and fact-filled than most others; he always gave interesting details that he clearly learned himself like, well, you know, a real reporter. Two, his reports seem less focused on what is going wrong (or on the body count) than on what is going right. This transcript, #3, about half way down, tells of a religious leader who is angry about all press coverage, especially American. Very interesting. (via Instapundit)

Dennis Kucinich’s Sex Life

If the title of this entry wasn’t enough to turn your stomach, you might have a look at this piece by Pittsburgh columnist Dennis Roddy. In case you’re not interested in the whole thing, here’s the punchline:

"As a bachelor I get to fantasize about my first lady," Kucinich said as ushers blocked the doors. "I certainly want a dynamic, outspoken woman who was fearless in her desire for peace in the world and for universal single-payer health care and a full-employment economy. If you are out there, call me."

This sort of thing will happen when Democrats fantasize: A grown man describes his dream date and all one can do is picture Al Gore in a dress.

Brzezinski’s view

Zbigniew Brzezinski , Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor, writes a lengthy op-ed in the International Herald Tribune (originally given as a talk to a group of Democrats) outlining what he thinks the problem is with American foreign policy. The day’s been long, and I think I would rather read into Lincoln some more rather than respond at length to Zbig, but I will say this: The shape of the Democratic foreign policy mode is beginning to take shape. It goes something like this: The Republicans are articulating a "paranoiac view of the world." They are not interested in making friends, they would rather make war on anyone for the flimsiest reasons; they are overthrowing old alliances; they are only interested in making war on terrorism (which he finds hard to define and understand); this is an extremist vision of the United States, and we are, so this view goes, apparently interested in overthrowing our idealistic traditions. Oh yeah, and one more thing: we don’t understand what is going on abroad. O.K., I’m beginning to get it. Does this begin to sound familiar, this disposition? Look up some of the stories from the late 1970’s, with Carter’s so called human rights policy in full throttle, our inordinate fear of Communism, etc., and see how it compares. At least back then, it could be argues, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan may have had an effect on Carter. Did 9/11 have any effect on the Democrats?

Advice to Demos: forget about the South

Democrats should forget about the South, writes Thomas F. Schaller in the WaPo.

"The first rule of electoral politics is: Don’t Try to Win the Last Election. Why, then, do some Democrats seem bent on reviving a disintegrated New Deal coalition in order to replay, and somehow win, the 1968, 1972, 1980, 1984 and 1988 elections all at once? The bitter truth is that the Florida recount was the Democrats’ last stand in the South for the foreseeable future. Gore capitulated at the vice president’s residence in Washington. Appomattox would have been the more fitting location."

Of course, everything he says is arguable, yet, it’s interesting, and, you can learn a lot from the essay. If the Demos really gave up the South, they would have to win something like the equivalent of an inside straight to win a presidential race. That would mean working the South-West seriously, plus the mid-West, especially Ohio, and also not losing any more of the Hispanic vote. I don’t think any of that likely, at least for 2004.  

Media coverage of Afghanistan and Iraq

Powerline runs an interesting letter from a soldier stationed in Afghanistan. Here is an interesting paragraph, but do read the rest.

"I would like to make one more observation if I may. Since I have been in Afghanistan, I would say that, on average, I know of about one U.S. or coalition soldier getting killed every week. However, I see almost no news reports on these deaths - and my wife at home does not either. My point is that per capita (with 10 - 15k soldiers in country), we are taking as many, or more hits than Iraq, yet no press coverage. Given this fact, it seems to me that the mainstream media are controlling public opinion by which information they cover. The liberals have a difficult time saying they are against the war in Afghanistan, but can oppose Iraq because the decision to attack wasn’t as clearly obvious - thus only report the bad stuff in Iraq - at least this is my take."

Cure for diabetes?

This is very interesting, but probably comes too late to save my father: "A cure for insulin-dependent diabetes may be in sight after United States scientists not only halted the disease in mice, but reversed it.

Planned patient trials could lead to a cure for the disorder, scientists say.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston said they had reversed the disease in mice by injecting them with spleen cells from healthy animals."

Keith Richards

Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones as a conservative, Christian, nice guy? I guess anything is possible, especially if the turn has to do with a good woman, his wife.

Chart on how things are going in Iraq

Michael O’Hanlon and Adriana Lins de Albuquerque (of the Brookings Institution) have an interesting chart (Iraqis detained, allies killed, numbers of Iraqi security forces, electrocity, etc.) that addresses the question, "How are things really going in Iraq?" A few paragraphs of text are included. The authors are guardedly optimistic. Useful. 

Louisiana goverenor’s race

Here is the Secreteray of State site for the official results on today’s election in Lousiana. The polls close at 8 p.m. Central.

Electoral map

There is a useful (and easy to use) electoral map on John Edward’s web site. It’s worth a look. Handy. Be sure to click on the bar that says "View Electoral Trends", just below the map. You get a clear look (color coded) which states have voted Democrat or Republican in the last three presidential elections; then move your mouse on individual states for some useful stats. For example, if you place your mouse on New Mexico you will see that it has 5 electoral votes and also that it has voted Democratic since 1988 and that Gore won the state by 366 votes in 2000, i.e., a margin of 0.13%. 

Hanging corpse or sculpture?

This story is out of Budapest. I quote the story in full: " Police on Friday removed the corpse of a man believed to have hanged himself at least a year ago after builders and students at Budapest’s University of Arts had initially mistaken it for a modern sculpture.

The body hung for a whole day in a garden building that had been re-opened for repairs before onlookers realized what it was and called the police, local media said.

The building, in campus grounds crowded with different types of sculpture, had been closed five years ago pending reconstruction work."

Umm Qasr’s reconstruction

Here is a promising report on the reconstruction of the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, Iraq’s primary portal to the Persian Gulf. This is a very impressive engineering project, run by Bechtel and the U.S. Corps of Engineers.

Jessice Lynch and women in combat

Elaine Donnelly uses the Jessica Lynch story to argue against women in combat, and lays much of the blame on the Clinton administration. While I am inclined to agree with Donnelly, Phil Carter doesn’t let her get away with anything, either her general point, or her facts. In doing this he explains briefly (and as clearly as I have ever seen) what happened to the 507th Maintianence Company and how the Company Commander made some very grave mistakes. There are some good links in Carter’s article that are worth looking at, including the Army’ After Action Review.

P.J. O’Rourke on Iraq

This is an interview with P.J. O’Rourke in The Atlantic. O’Rourke covers the war for both The Atlantic and ABC Radio and his piece on Kuwait and Iraq will appear in the December issue. He covers what he calls the "backside" of the war, and he is perceptive and amusing. But after Michael Kelly’s death, he replaced him as an embedded reporter with the 3rd Infantry Division, and saw things he didn’t expect to see and didn’t sign on for. The interview is broad-ranging and often very funny. 

Here is P.J.’s response to this question, "In your last interview for The Atlantic you mentioned that Chris Buckley and Dave Barry are good friends of yours. What would happen if we locked the three of you in a room—with drinks and cigars, of course—and told you to solve the problems of the Middle East?"

"First of all, it better be a lot of cigars and a lot of beer! An awful lot of beer, because we’re going to be in there for a long, long time. The problems of the Middle East are the problems of mankind since we came out of the trees. They just happen to be a little more intense. When you look at a chaotic region like the Middle East, what you’re really seeing is most of human history, and some parts of America and some parts of Europe and a few parts of Asia are glaring exceptions. The kind of peaceful, productive, incredibly wealthy life that we live in these few areas around the world—this has only been going on for a nanosecond as time goes. It’s so exceptional I’m not even sure what it means. The whole world might degenerate back into the Middle East, because that’s what it’s always been. And you can’t solve the problem of the Middle East, because it’s not a problem, it’s a condition. It’s the normal condition of mankind.

If you read Donald Kagan’s The Peloponnesian War, it’s all there. It’s been going on like this, time out of mind. Little islands of human happiness, peace, and prosperity are so exceptional at this point in history that I’m not even sure we can draw lessons from them."

The Saudi and the Islamists

Amir Taheri’s op-ed in The New York Times recounts how the Islamist card has been played by various Muslim regimes, and especially elaborates on why the Islamists have decided that this was the moment to make a stand against their onetime benefactor, the House of Al Saud. Yet, Taheri writes, "It is too early to say whether the Saudi regime is truly determined to break with the Islamists, as the Egyptian and Algerian governments did in their time. A real break with Islamists will come when the Saudi leadership offers a new strategy aimed at an alliance with the modernizing forces in the kingdom. That has not happened."  

Wesley Clark and the Democrats

A recent Gallup Poll asked: "Are the Democratic candidates becoming better known after months of intensive campaigning?"

The Answer: "No, except for retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark. Despite a great deal of media focus on the Democratic race, including a number of nationally televised debates, most of the candidates are not better known today among members of their own party than they were back in August, just before the campaigning began in earnest." It is also arguably the case that
having Hillary Clinton emcee the big Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Iowa tonight is not helpful to any or all of the Democratic presidential candidates, save maybe Hillary, if she should decide to run.

I think this must be terrible news for the Democratic candidates, although , of course, they can’t admit it. One of the more interesting developments has been the fact that Wesley Clark--after an initial quick boost--has gone nowhere. In part it is because he has contradicted himself many times, especially about Iraq. But, in a larger sense, there is something deeper going on here; his opinions and positions seem to reflect something more fundamental about his character and his judgment, and also about the Democrats’ struggle with how to talk about foreign policy, national interest, and war in a post 9/11 universe. See this extraordinary piece of analysis from Andrew Sullivan (in the current New Republic) on Clark’s position on the Iraq war, which he calls a "historic blunder" and illegitimate and the war in Kosovo which he was proud to lead, and which was legitimate. Sullivan’s is a devastating criticism and should be studied because it is a short treatise on what may authorize war. Sullivan uses this long profile on Wesley Clark from
New Yorker by Peter J. Boyer.  

Creating artifical life?

An artifical virus has been created, according USA Today. "It is the stuff of science fiction and bioethical debates: The creation of artificial life. Up until now, it’s largely been just that.
But an important technical bridge towards the creation of such life was crossed Thursday when genomics pioneer Craig Venter announced that his research group created an artificial virus based on a real one in just two weeks’ time.

When researchers created a synthetic genome (genetic map) of the virus and implanted it into a cell, the virus became ’biologically active,’ meaning it went to work reproducing itself."

U.S. kills seven in Iraq

Notice the title of this front-page Washington Post story: "U.S. Troops Kill Seven Suspected Iraqi Insurgents." I guess these are the first Iraqis we’ve killed since the end of major combat operations, or, maybe even during. I just found it odd.

"U.S. troops aboard an AH-64 Apache helicopter killed seven suspected insurgents Thursday night who were preparing to launch a rocket attack on a U.S. base near Tikrit. A follow-up search party then captured more than 900 enemy rockets stored in nearby bunkers, a military spokesman said here Friday."

Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal is still ahead in the governor’s race in Lousiana (46-42%) although the race has tightened during the last few days, according to tracking polls. The election is Saturday. Worth watching. It will be fun to see how Democrats react if they lose another governor’s mansion in the South.

Aplogy for eating missionary

Fiji islanders wept as they apologized to descendants of a British missionary killed and eaten by their ancestors more than 130 years ago.

"The inhabitants of the tiny settlement of Nubutautau and the descendants of the Reverend Thomas Baker were taking part in a complex reconciliation ritual, which the villagers hope will lift a curse they blame for an extended run of bad luck."

Cannibals killed Baker in 1867 and ate him after a perceived slight against the then village chief, even boiling his leather boots with the local vegetable, bele, in an act which villagers say resulted in the curse.

"The tears were from our hearts deep inside because we have waited for so long for this moment," village spokesman Tomasi Baravilala told Reuters. "That’s our belief, we are Christians and today we will be set free from the curse."

Schools not doing well

Abigail Thernstrom thinks there should be outrage at the fact that schools are the main source of racial inequality today. (Registration required). The most recent national test results also show that about 70 percent are not proficient in math or reading, though students have made significant gains in math skills.

Hussein’s counterattack?

Phil Carter does some clear thinking about the insurgency in Iraq and especially focuses on whether or not this is something that Saddam had planned before the start of the war, as Vernon Loeb and Tom Ricks suggested in yesterday’s Washington Post. It is long, but thoughtful, with some good sites referenced.   

Fundraising map

Fundrace has some interesting maps showing where the presidential candidates (by county, or zip code) are raising money. You have to play with it a bit, but it may be worth it.

French problems

Retired European leaders, Nobel Prize winners, et al, have chastized the French for "secularizing the European Union." They said that Christianity was "at the root of the fundamental notion of the individual." As the U.S. Senate was passing the Syria Accountability Act, the French were cozying up to Syria. And, part and parcel of the secularist state debate, the French are considering banning all symbols of religious conviction from state run institutions, including the wearing of veils by Muslim students. An article in the Chicago Tribune considers some of the problems the French are having in integrating Muslims.

Naval Academy gay alumni association?

Gay and lesbian graduates of the Naval Academy propose an alumni association just for them. Ken Masugi at The Remedy tells us why it is a bad idea.

Jessica Lynch’s rescuer

Erin Montgomery recounts the the talk given by the Iraqi lawyer, Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief, who rescued Jessica Lynch at the National Press Club a few days ago. I happened to see most of the short talk and much of his responses to questions and the fellow seemed sensible and decent. Some of the questions from the press were, frankly, embarrasingly silly. I hasten to add that all this doesn’t mean his story is the full story, yet it was ascinating. I find it odd that neither Lynch nor her family has visited this man to thank him.

Dancing at Wheaton

Dancing is allowed, for the first time in 143 years, at Wheaton College. Here is the college’s web site.

Campaign money

Donald Lambro explains why Bush needs so much money (he is up to $100 million) and why the Democrats must skirt campaign finance laws, and why all this is bad.

The brutal realities of war

David Warren is very persuasive on describing what is going on in Iraq, and what must be done about it.  

CIA’s leaked report on Iraq

Here is the Philadelphia Enquirer story on the bleak CIA report. You should read it. Yet, a caution is order: It does rely a bit heavily on second-hand accounts. Also, it is part and parcel of the CIA vs. DOD power struggle. Still, it is not without value. The points regarding the Governing Council and the point about how our inability to put an end to the insurgency may lead to others joining the terrorists, are worth considering. But see Michael O’Hanlon’s testimony to the House Armed Services Committeeon how the counterinsurgency war is going. It’s pretty optimistic, and O’Hanlon is normally quite careful.

Howard Dean: A Democrat to the Confederate Hilt

In his Nov. 13 Wall St. Journal essay
“Yo, Howard!”
Shelby Steele explains how Howard Dean’s politically incorrect appeal to “guys with Confederate flags in their pick-up trucks” did not reflect repressed white racism but rather the logical outcome of identity politics.

Simply put, Dean spoke as a modern-day Democrat. As such, he is running for the presidential nomination of a party that has long preached and practiced a politics of division. This politicking disguises itself as a politics of inclusion by insisting that every citizen identify himself as part of this or that group as the prerequisite for certain entitlements from the federal government. Forget your rights as an individual; check the appropriate box, find your place in the corresponding line, and wait your turn to receive whatever “your” government has decided people of your ilk deserve.

An excerpt from Steele:

White racism, black separatism, Islamic extremism and Nazism are all atavistic identities gone too far, gone to where one’s superiority is confirmed only by the denigration and even annihilation of an enemy. Whenever power is pursued in the name of an atavism -- my blackness, your whiteness, his Catholicism, her gender -- enemies arise and our democracy of individuals is injured.

As our long and tragic American history has demonstrated, wedding group identity and political power subverts the twin pillars of self-government: namely, human equality and government by the consent of the governed. Groups have no rights by nature and therefore should have none politically. The rights of the individual are the only rights that government should protect. Given their equal possession by each citizen, they should be protected no more and no less for each individual.

Steele’s delivers the knockout punch in the essay’s closing lines:

But if Mr. Dean shouldn’t act this way, why does modern liberalism encourage minorities to? Today, only the strictures against a white racial identity keep us at all civilized around race. Only whites are asked to put their race aside and behave as citizens. Our best hope is the fact that there are many minorities who want to live as citizens too.

War and Peace in Iraq

Things are getting interesting in Iraq, are they not? The rubber is hitting the road. Decisive and organized action is being taken by our enemies, and we seem to be responding with measures that--we think--the situation demands. That the outcome hangs in the balance is true; that is the very definition of a crisis. Things are in flux, as they always are in politics, and even more so during the fog of war. Trying to understand what is going on is not, therefore, easy. But we do know this: President Bush is a morally engaged man, determined to do what’s right. He will not fold, he is steadfast in his purpose. Great events are afoot, and great events do not call forth small men. I think he is the man for a crisis. This doesn’t mean that he will not be pushed around both by events and the media’s perception of those events. But his steady purpose will prevail, even as tactical changes will be made. And when those changes are being made--and some are being made as we speak--it is important to understand those changes as necessary or prudent changes demanded by circumstances, rather than a change in purpose. It seems certain that the American people--understanding how things have changed since 9/11--understand this and they will hold true. The people are less flighty than their detractors and pessimistic observers think. This is not a quagmire and this is not a Vietnam, regardless of what the small-souled Democratic candidates would have you believe.
Bad politicians always re-fight the last war, and they learn the wrong lesson. The President understands this. President Bush’s speech at the National Endowment for Democracy is a serious statement on the future of American foreign policy, and should be read and studied. He is trying to win a war, establish a new regime in the Middle East, deal with the Israeli-Palestinian issue, while he is trying to pressure Islam toward a liberal constitutional mode. Accomplishing all of this will not be easy, and will not be accomplished without sacrifice. Let our stout hearts be led with our good judgment, never forgetting the things for which we stand. If this is a test of wills, I remain optimistic.

Why we will win

Andrew Sullivan posts this letter from a reader:

"In addition to all the flights that had been canceled on Sunday, the weather was terrible in Baltimore and the flights were backed up. So, there were a lot of unhappy people in the terminal trying to get home, but nobody that I saw gave the soldiers a bad time. By the afternoon, one plane to Denver had been delayed several hours. United personnel kept asking for volunteers to give up their seats and take another flight. They weren’t getting many takers. Finally, a United spokeswoman got on the PA and said this, "Folks. As you can see, there are a lot of soldiers in the waiting area. They only have 14 days of leave and we’re trying to get them where they need to go without spending any more time in an airport then they have to. We sold them all tickets, knowing we would oversell the flight. If we can, we want to get them all on this flight. We want all the soldiers to know that we respect what you’re doing, we are here for you and we love you." At that, the entire terminal of cranky, tired, travel-weary people, a cross-section of America, broke into sustained and heart-felt applause.The soldiers looked surprised and very modest. Most of them just looked at their boots. Many of us were wiping away tears. And, yes, people lined up to take the later flight and all the soldiers went to Denver on that flight. That little moment made me proud to be an American, and also told me why we will win this war."

Oberlin’s sex night

Jean Pearce writes a shocking article on Oberlin College. Apparently, there is something called "Safer Sex Night" on campus, which includes a "Tent of Consent." Now, I am tempted to describe all this in detail, yet, I can’t. If you are interested in finding out what goes on there, you should read the article yourself. If you doubt the article’s veracity, you should glance at this article (1999) from the Oberlin College student newspaper that reports on the Safer Sex Night of that year. Isn’t the world interesting. Oberlin is about forty miles from here as the crow flies. I drove through it yesterday on my way to giving a talk to the Elyria Rotary Club.

Italy to keep troops in Iraq

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said that Italian troops would remain in Iraq despite a bombing today that killed 15 military personnel and urged political adversaries to unite in national mourning. He said this to the Senate which was also broadcast nationally: "No intimidation will budge us from our willingness to help that country rise up again and rebuild itself with self-government, security and freedom."

Dean’s character

Now that Dean is marching toward victory, he is looked at with a bit more care than he has been. Howard Dean’s tendency to blow his cool and to scold are scrutinized in this USA Today article. Chicago Tribune examines the same problem.

Cal Thomas on Bush’s democracy speech

Bush’s speech at the National Endowment for Democracy is being criticized from both the left and right. Here is one from the right. Cal Thomas is critical of Bush’s understanding of why Arabs and Muslims may be interested in freedom. Thomas thinks that Bush is misunderstanding Islam. On the contrary, Cal Thomas is misundertsanding human nature--which desires and needs freedom--and thinks that Islamism can obscure this natural good.

Outsourcing jobs

Glenn Reynolds has a thoughtful comment on the issue of unemployment, loss of manufacturing jobs, and productivity. His links are useful, including to the Robert Reich article I mentioned a few days ago.

CNN’s planted question

Here is the Brown student’s response to the criticism that she asked a question posed by CNN. I thought Brown students were smarter than this.

Why we lack spies

This is a very interesting op-ed from the Asia Times. It tries to explain why this statement is true: "In terms of linguistic and cultural capacity, the US today commands what may be the lowest-quality clandestine service of any great power in history." His answers to questions why we don’t learn foreign languages, why children of immigrants lose the native language of their parents, etc., are thoughtful and, by and large, true. His emphasis on why we can’t find enough Arab speakers to be helpful is especially interesting. He even pulls in Heidegger and Wittgenstein.  

Ed Meese

Ed Meese spoke here last Thursday to about 500 people at lunch. He was very good. The subject was "Homeland Security and Civil Liberties." Listen to the speech by clicking on his name.

The Book of Judges

Horace Cooper had this to say a few days ago on the confirmation proceedings of Judge Janice Brown.

Whether it’s their attacks on the Boy Scouts, the Pledge of Allegiance, or the Ten Commandments, Judge Brown’s liberal opponents can’t abide any judge who on principle refuses to impose their elitist counter-cultural views on the rest of us.

Definitely worth reading.


Reporting on Iraq

Brendan Miniter asks why U.S. retaliatory strikes in Iraq aren’t reported more prominently.

Lake accuses Democrats of Conservatism

As this article by E.J. Dionne details, former Clinton National Security Advisor Anthony Lake is chastising Democrats for clinging to "the traditions of the last 50 years" in foreign policy. While he’s no supporter of the president’s approach, he agrees that the country ought to be engaged in spreading democracy abroad. Moreover, he claims that institutions like NATO and the UN must be reformed to reflect new international realities. In response to today’s challenges, Lake contends, Democrats "need to be thinking large, and they’re not."

"George Soros has purchased the Democratic Party"

The above quote is from RNC spokesman Christine Iverson. It comes from this article, which details how he has committed $5 million to in an effort to defeat the president in 2004.

According to the article, Soros was deeply "sensitized" by his childhood in Hungary, where he experienced occupation by both the Nazis and the Soviets. "When I hear Bush say, ’You’re either with us or against us,’ it reminds me of the Germans," he is quoted as saying.

Veteran’s Day

Today is the 85th anniversary of the end of World War I. Eisenhower declared in 1954 that Armistice Day should be called Veteran’s Day. He said that we should "solemnly remember the the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom." Today we honor the living veterans, on Memorial Day we honor those who gave their lives. And, yesterday, by the way, was the birthday of the Marine Corps. Honor is the subject of this day. Mark Steyn and Ralph Peters have some comments. And old veterans welcome the new veterans home.

Rich Lowry’s "Legacy"

Mark Cunningham writes a positive review of Rich Lowry’s book, Legacy: Paying the Price of the Clinton Years. I heard Lowry on Booknotes last night, and he was very impressive. The book recounts how little Clinton accomplished of anything and should be a great read.

Jews cause anti-semitism?

George Soros is Jewish, a liberal Democrat, and very wealthy. He apparently thinks that Jews and Israel are the cause of anti-semitism. This, of course, is ridiculous. The guy really is off his rocker. (via Andrew Sullivan).

The age of liberty

William Safire has a few good and short thoughts on President Bush’s democracy speech. He thinks we ought to read it in it’s entirety; he thinks it worthy. It is a great speech, one that will define his presidency and our foreign policy. He muses that no one, including the New York Times had the sense to reprint it in full. Here is the full speech, again. Safire likes this line by Bush: "And as we meet the terror and violence of the world, we can be certain the author of freedom is not indifferent to the fate of freedom."

On Bobby Jindal

A pretty good article on Bobby Jindal in the USA Today.

Honoring the War Dead in Texas

This is a brief account of a funeral of one our soldiers who died in Iraq.

What follows is a message from Vicki Pierce ( in Highlands Ranch) about her nephew James’ funeral (he was serving our country in Iraq):

"I’m back, it was certainly a quick trip, but I have to also say it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. There is a lot to be said for growing up in a small town in Texas.

The service itself was impressive with wonderful flowers and sprays, a portrait of James, his uniform and boots, his awards and ribbons. There was lots of military brass and an eloquent (though inappropriately longwinded) Baptist preacher. There were easily 1000 people at the service, filling the church sanctuary as well as the fellowship hall and spilling out into the parking lot.

However, the most incredible thing was what happened following the service on the way to the cemetery. We went to our cars and drove to the cemetery escorted by at least 10 police cars with lights flashing and some other emergency vehicles, with Texas Rangers handling traffic. Everyone on the road who was not in the procession, pulled over, got out of their cars, and stood silently and respectfully, some put their hands over their hearts, some had small flags. Shop keepers came outside with their customers and did the same thing. Construction workers stopped their work, got off their equipment and put their hands over their hearts, too. There was no noise whatsoever except a few birds and the quiet hum of cars going slowly up the road.

When we turned off the highway suddenly there were teenage boys along both sides of the street about every 20 feet or so, all holding large American flags on long flag poles, and again with their hands on their hearts. We thought at first it was the Boy Scouts or 4H club or something, but it continued .... for two and a half miles. Hundreds of young people, standing silently on the side of the road with flags. At one point we passed an elementary school, and all the children were outside, shoulder to shoulder holding flags . kindergartners, handicapped, teachers, staff, everyone. Some held signs of love and support. Then came teenage girls and younger boys, all holding flags. Then adults. Then families. All standing silently on the side of the road. No one spoke, not even the very young children. The last few turns found people crowded together holding flags or with their hands on their hearts. Some were on horseback.

The military least two generals, a fist full of colonels, and representatives from every branch of the service, plus the color guard which attended James, and some who served with him . was very impressive and respectful, but the love and pride from this community who had lost one of their own was the most amazing thing I’ve ever been privileged to witness.

Why the liberals are losing the culture wars

Brian C. Anderson writes at length in The City Journal why conservatives aren’t losing the culture wars anymore. There are three reasons he works through in detail: 1. Cable television, especially Fox News; 2. The rise of the internet, and blogging; 3. Book publishing. A good read.  

Loss of manufacturing jobs

Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor under Clinton has a short comment on the loss of manufacturing jobs. Since 1995 some 22 million manufacturing jobs have dissappeared in 20 large ececonomies. It turns out that Japan has lost about 16% of its manufacturing jobs, China about 15%, Brazil lost about 20% (the US has lost about 11%). Why? Productivity.

Falstaff wars

Oh, this is a serious matter! Is there no virtue extant? Does virtue have no friends? Something wicked this way comes. The Falstaff wars have come to the Lincoln Center, according to this New York Times report. Does Harold Bloom love Falstaff even more than Shakespeare loved him? The director, Jack O’Brien, thinks that Bloom is way off base in his affection for this guy who lards the lean earth as he walks along. Is this Falstaff a trunk of humours, that huge bambard of sack, that reverend vice, that grey iniquity, or is he the cause of that wit is in other men? Did he go to hell, or to Arthur’s bosom, if ever man went to Arthur’s bosom? Is he Samuel Johnson’s "fat knight" who "has never uttered one sentiment of generosity...and has nothing in him that can be esteemed." Or, is he, as Harold Bloom claims, one who exhibits a "comprehensiveness of consciousness that puts him beyond us?" Is he the "Immortal Falstaff?"

If the world were just, and I were rich and full of leisure I would re-read both parts Henry IV, and be able to fly to New York and see this just-under-four-hour compressed production of both parts into a single play. No doubt I would criticize and hoot and holler over the liberties of the director, yet, I bet I would enjoy Kevin Kline’s rendition of plump Jack, even if I ended banishing the production. The time is out of joint.

American exceptionalism

The Economist has an interesting essay (with some useful charts and graphs) about how America is viewed by Europeans and how we view ourselves. Paul Johnson puts some thought into "American imperialism" (and the new strategic doctrine post 9/11 foreign policy demands) and does not hesitate to beat up on Old Europe. Mark Steyn is less reserved and more amusing: Europe is dying.

Jindal courting black voters

This is a pretty good news-story on how Bobby Jindal is going after black voters in Louisiana. He needs to get about fifteen percent of black votes in order to win. Republicans habitually get about five percent. I’m betting he’s going to do it.

Bush and Reagan

Jonah Goldberg, reflecting on the President’s Democracy speech, connecting George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan:
"Ronald Reagan was a internationalist hawk who believed in the power of ideas. He was a pro-lifer. He was, well, Reagan. He was the first Republican President from the ranks of Goldwater conservatism. Back then, the Goldwaterites were still the insurgents and so he made a marriage of convenience with George H. W. Bush, the standard-bearer of classic blue blazer Republicanism, picking him as his VP. But it is now clear that Bush’s own son takes far more after his father’s old boss than he does his own father, at least politically speaking. From tax cuts (and deficits, alas), to his personal conviction on aborrtion, to aligning America with the historical tide of liberty in the world, George W. Bush has proved that he’s a Reaganite, not a "Bushie." He may not be a natural heir to Reagan, but that’s the point. The party is all Reaganite now. What better sign that this is now truly and totally the Gipper’s Party than the obvious conversion of George Bush’s own son?"
The Corner). Here is Ronald Reagan’s speech to the House of Commons in 1982, for those that want to compare it George W. Bush’s Democracy speech.

Louisiana race

Bobby Jindal (R) is beating Democrat Kathleen Blanco (D) in the governor’s race in Louisiana, according to the latest polls (48-43%). Also note that Pakistani Americans are lining up behind Blanco. It takes a while for old-world animosities to to be overcome, but in America they will be; the sooner the better. The question is Republican or Democrat, not Indian or Pakistani. Let them learn to leave old habits behind in old countries run by potentates instilling fear. Such fears have no home here.

Wars end, history doesn’t

Richard Bookhiser writes an essay showing, through dozens of examples, why when the fighting stops, history doesn’t. A good reminder of things that are and of things to come. 

End of the civil rights era

James Taranto claims that November 6th is the formal end of the civil rights era in American politics. He is worth quoting in full:

"Let history record Nov. 6, 2003, as the day on which the civil rights movement in America drew to a close. For that is the day the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published the following sentence, in an article on the judicial nomination of Janice Rogers Brown:

’Prominent blacks charged President Bush deliberately chose a conservative black woman so it would be harder for senators to vote against her.’

Having long ago achieved the indisputably noble goal of ensuring that America lives up to the promise of equal justice under the law for all citizens regardless of race, the civil rights movement turned to the more dubious pursuit of "affirmative action." Now, however, they are complaining that blacks receive favorable treatment. Lamenting President Bush’s choice of a black woman, and senators’ discomfiture in voting against her, are leaders of such venerable civil-rights organizations as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the National Council of Negro Women.

The civil rights movement has a proud and grand history. Now that its leaders are reduced to carping over what used to be termed "reverse discrimination," it seems safe to say that the problems that necessitated the movement are history as well."

Economy , good news continues

I’ll end on an especially good note: the economy continues to push ahead, unemployment is down and new jobs have been added for the third straight month. The labor market at last is catching up with the broader recovery.

Hungarian and rock ’n’ roll

It turns out that USA Today has a longer story on the Hungarian ambassador’s love of rock ’n’ roll. It turns out he is currently interested in early Mississippi Delta blues, and especially in Robert Johnson. This guy can’t be all bad, Hungarian though he might be.

Bush on foreign policy

President Bush gave this talk at the 20th anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy. This may be his most important foreign policy speech yet. There is much to notice in this speech, not the least of which is how he connects his major points, indeed his purpose, to that of Ronald Reagan. After all, it was under Reagan’s watch that the Democracy project was initiated, and Bush means to carry it through to the Middle East. This is not a two-year project; it will take ten times that long. He is doing nothing less than defining (re-defining, if you like) America’s foreign policy (it’s vision, if you insist!) after 9/11. This is not you run-of-the-mill speech and, clearly, all this merits some study and I’ll get to it next week. For now, I just wanted to put it out so you could note it and file it. In passing let me just say that it will be fun to note the foreign reactions to the speech as well as whether any Democratic candidate for president can possibly come up with anything resembling the comprehensive qualities of this speech and of our purpose. I doubt it; guess we’ll just hear more about multilateralism, but not much on the forward policy of freedom. Too bad.

The Art of War

Frederick Kagan warns us not to be overly concerned with military "efficiency." He warns that "The issues of transformation and military overstretch are inextricably linked." Thoughtful.  

Iraq as another Vietnam?

Mac Owens, who led a Marine infantry platoon in Vietnam, briefly considers why Iraq is not another Vietnam. Victor Davis Hanson’s article is especially powerful on the same, albeit a broader, issue of how to lose this war we are in: if we lose it will not be on the battlefield.  

Slick Willie

I guess it was about 30 years ago that the Arkansas-Gazette reporter, Paul Greenberg, coined the nickname ’Slick Willie’ to describe Bill Clinton.

If you haven’t had a good dose of
’Slick’ lately, please read this interview from the latest ’American Prospect’ . It is a remarkable tour de force. Bill Clinton is a brilliant sophist. He gives the demos-agogos a bad name. Sorry Publius, but thank goodness for the 22nd Amendment.

Here’s a sample of Slick Willie’s self admiration: "Well, first of all I think the Democrats ought to all pocket some of the gains I made. They ought to say, "We’re the party that gave you responsible welfare reform. We’re the party that gave you fiscal responsibility, low interest rates and high growth. And we’re the party that gave you the weapons systems and the training programs that won in Iraq and Afghanistan." The question is, what do we do now?
[The Republicans’] argument to their base is gonna be, "We kept our promises. We promised to cut taxes as much on wealthy people as we could, and we did it. We promised to weaken environmental controls, and we did it. We promised to weaken labor regulations and put less money into workers’ safety and more money into investigating unions. We promised to put right-wingers on the court, and we’ve done it every chance we got. We promised to get rid of Saddam Hussein, and we did it, and we promised to undo everything Bill Clinton did, and we did a lot of that."

Brace yourself, Hillary will probably be President in 2008.

Political Parties

FDR in Drag: Howard Dean the Metrosexual Confederate

Tunku Varadarajan reflects on the difficulties Howard Dean has in wearing his Metrosexual and his Confederate hats. No poor whites cheered when Dean described himself as a Metrosexual, and no Metrosexuals came to Dean's defense when he said he wanted good ol' boy Confederates to vote for him.

Kind of makes you admire FDR all the more.

Categories > Political Parties

More on Partial Birth Abortion Bans

While President Bush has signed legislation passed by Congress outlawing Partial Birth Abortion, the Governor of Michigan has vetoed legislation banning partial birth abortion in Michigan.

A former student of mine who is active in Michigan politics, forwarded this brief description of the differences between the legislation passed by the Michigan legislature and the legislation passed by the U.S. Congress:

"Question: The federal government passed a ban on partial birth abortions. Why do we need to pass legislation at the state level?

1. The federal and state approaches to banning partial birth abortions are very different. The federal legislation specifically bans an abortion procedure - namely dilation and extraction or partial birth abortion. The state legislation has the effect of banning partial birth abortions, but the active language of the bill does not even mention abortion. The state legislation simply defines when a person is legally born to be when any part of a child is outside of the mother’s body.
Once a person is legally born, that person is afforded all of the rights of legal personhood and therefore, taking the life of that person by any means would be illegal.

2. Having two very different conceptual approaches gives the pro-life community two opportunities to challenge the practice of partial birth abortion. The federal legislation will ask the courts if there is ever grounds for restricting abortion. The state legislation will ask if the states have the right to define when a child is legally born and legally a person. These are two very different questions.

3. Having two different court cases also means that the court challenges for these two bills will be on different timelines and potentially be heard by different Supreme Court Justices. The federal legislation will
more quickly get a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court. It will take more time for the state legislation to work through the court system up to the U.S. Supreme Court. There is speculation that two or even three
Justices may retire during President Bush’s tenure. Perhaps by the time the state legislation is brought before the U.S. Supreme Court, some of the sitting Justices will have retired. If they are replaced by
pro-life Justices, the make-up of the Court could be very different and therefore, the decision could be very different.

4. The state legislation is more comprehensive. It does not prohibit only a specific procedure, but instead provides protection to a child once any part of the child is outside of its mother’s body. This bill bans any procedure performed once any part of the child is outside of the mother’s body. This legislation attempts to contain abortion to procedures performed in utero. A ban on a specific procedure such as the partial birth abortion procedure may only encourage abortionists to come up with a new way to kill a partially born child.

5. The state legislation challenges pro-abortion semantics. The pro-abortion side claims that a partially born child is not a person. This logic is used to support the idea that the dilation and extraction procedure is not infanticide. The state legislation challenges the status quo. Killing a partially born child is not abortion. This legislation makes infanticide of a partially born child what it should
be - a crime of murder."

Partial birth abortion ban

President Bush’s speech as he signed the law. And this is an op-ed on it by John Kass that I think is pretty good. That the federal courts have already moved to overturn the law should surprise no one. The arrogance of the courts continues apace, both agaist the will of the people and against the laws of nature and nature’s God. Some have already started arguing, as does this editorial from a San Francisco paper, that Bush is starting the abortion wars! Their arrogance is shocking. In this case we hope that right makes might. They will pay for it at the polls.

Music and Freedom

The Hungarian Ambassador has some thoughts on the relationship between music and freedom, according to this article in the Akron Beacon-Journal. Andras Simonyi, Hungary’s ambassador to the U.S., heard rock ’n’ roll when the communists still ruled the country and he knew that it represented freedom. Good story about the relationship and music and politics. He will speak at the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame on Saturday night. By the way, the day with Ed Meese was terrific. What a good and smart man. It was great to see him again. We’ll have his speech up soon, in case you didn’t listen to it live.

Listen to Edwin Meese Today

Edwin Meese, U.S. Attorney General under President Reagan, will be on campus today for the Ashbrook Center. You can listen to him live around 12:30pm. He will speaking on the issue of homeland security. It should be well worth your time.

A pint of Guinness, please

Finally, some good news out of Britain.

Middle-aged men now have a good excuse to go to the pub with their mates - it is good for their brains.

Researchers say that social activities, such as evening classes, chess and even going to the pub can help maintain mental agility.

Can’t wait to get home from the pub and tell my wife the news.

Yesterday’s vote

The Christian Science Monitor runs an article trying to figure out what the GOP victories in the South may mean. Not deep thinking, but pretty reasonable. The short of it is this: it is good for the GOP, and portends ill for the Demos, both in the South and nationally. I’ll ruminate on all this in the next few days. Ed Meese is here tonight and tomorrow, so I will not blog any more until tomorrow evening. I look forward to seeing him. Which reminds me of a Reagan comment when he was running for Governor of Claifornia in 1965: "Government is like a baby--an alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other."

Let the litigation begin

Breaking news from Fox:

LINCOLN, Neb.— A federal judge blocked implementation of a federal ban on partial-birth abortions Wednesday less than an hour after President Bush signed the ban into law.

U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf (search) issued a temporary restraining order citing concerns that the law did not contain an exception for preserserving the health of the woman seeking the abortion.

K.C. Johnson’s Testimony

Thanks to Peter for calling my attention to Professor K.C. Johnson’s recent testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee regarding bias in the historical profession against those who work in so-called "traditional" areas of history. Johnson, it will be recalled, very nearly lost a brutal tenure battle last year at Brooklyn College. What he has to say is chilling.

By the way, for anyone who might be tempted to frequent the History News Network(where Johnson’s testimony appears), just have a look at the comments on the Johnson piece to see the quality of discussion that goes on. Alas, with the exception of a handful of bright folks (both liberal and conservative) those who contribute to it are largely beneath notice.

Ohio’s Issue 1 rejected

Ohio voters denied (just barely, 50.95 NO, to 49.05 YES) Gov. Bob Taft the $500 million he wanted to help create new high-tech businesses and jobs for Ohio.
Here are the results by county.


Nope, I don’t mean the Republican state just South of us, I mean the music. Bill Croke writes a good article on bluegrass music, starting with the combination of gospel singing plus acoustic picking, and Bill and Charlie Monroe, et al. 

Cab’s Eye View

For those of you who missed it yesterday, freelance journalist Steven Vincent had a fine article in National Review on cabbies in Baghdad. There are several interesting anecdotes in the article, but here is a particularly good excerpt:

Over the tape-recorded sermons of a Shia cleric, my driver related how last spring he took his two children on a pilgrimage to the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf, something he couldn’t do under Saddam. "I was so happy, my family happy!" His comments began tumbling out one after another. First he criticized "Arab media — Al-Jazeera and Arabia TV. They only say bad things about U.S., only talk about bombs and killing Americans. Never about how things are growing in Iraq, getting better." Then he turned to the entire Arab world. "They fear Iraq will become a democracy, then every country will want to become democratic and the rulers will be in trouble-they only want people with one thought, one mind." . . .

By the time I reached my hotel, I had a Koran-sized lump in my throat. I peeled off a wad of dinars, but the cabbie refused to take the money. After I implored him to accept payment, he finally took the bills, slipped them in his shirt pocket, then took them out and handed them back to me. "You give me the money, now I give it back to you — a gift to my friend from America." Then, turning up the volume on the imam’s sermon, he gave me a big missing-toothed smile and drove off in a cloud of exhaust.

America could use a few more reporters like Vincent on the scene in Iraq. Do read the whole article.  

New weapons

Do you want to be able shoot around the corner? Take a look at this rifle. Very cool. And then there is this anti-rocket laser cannon that recently got funding.

20th hijaker known

USA Today is reporting that the FBUI knows who the twentieth hijaker was. "We are fairly confident we know who No. 20 is," said the official, who is involved in the 9/11 probe and asked not to be identified. The official said the unidentified al-Qaeda operative got into the USA but "had to leave" the country shortly before 19 hijackers carried out the attacks that killed more than 3,000 people. The official would not say why the operative left, whether he is alive or whether he is in U.S. custody.

Political Wrap

Haley Barbour will become the second Republican governor of Mississippi ever elected in that state. He won with 53% of the vote; the Democrat incumbent got 45% (with 95% of precincts reporting). Ernie Fletcher wins in Kentucky (55-45%) becoming the first Republican governor in 32 years. He won in the Northern counties by especially large margins. CNN focused on the Democratic "Rock the Vote" debate this morning, eventually getting around to this bit of political news. We should keep our eye on the Lousiana governor’s runoff on November 15th where
Bobby Jindal
, I predict, is likely to win. Oh, yes, and
will take the oath of office as California’ governor on November 17th. Al Sharpton will host Saturday Night live on December 6th. Be sure to watch it.

Mississippi governor’s race

Haley Barbour (R) is ahead 52-46%, with only 17% of the precicts reporting at 10p.m. I’m going to bed.

Fletcher (R) wins in Kentucky

Rep. Ernie Fletcher becomes the first Republican governor of Kentucky in 32 years.

The Constitution or international law?

Sandy Schultz attack the Supreme Court (and Sandra Day O’Connor) because "Increasingly, it seems, the Court is relying on international law and opinion as the basis for domestic legal decisions. For an institution that puts so much stock in precedence, this move is, well, unprecedented. Worse, it spells potential trouble down the road." I have already noted this tendency, and I deplore it. Schultz states at the very end of her article: "Two hundred thirty years ago, we fought a revolution so that Americans wouldn’t be governed from Europe. It’s high time the High Court was reminded of that bit of American history." Well said!  

You can count on salmon

The Investor’s Business Daily has this to say about the recent economic growth and Bush’s tax cuts:
You can count on a few things in this world. The swallows will return to Capistrano. Salmon will spawn. Canada’s geese will fly south for the winter. And tax cuts will create growth.
More from the piece is available here, as quoted in Inside Politics. 

I never know whether to laugh or cry

Much of Suzanne Fields’ op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Times will come as no surprise to many of us here. She’s documenting only the newest faces in a trendy crowd we’ve been watching now for years. But I usually find accounts of the politically correct campus curriculum entertaining, and hers is no exception.

A Fields sample:

Lest [the class, "Illicit Desires in Literature," ] give an edge to sordid, abnormal heterosexual love, the department offers "Fictions of Identity" for sexual victims of Western culture. The professor asks: "How can we reconcile psychoanalytic and postmodern conceptions of the fragmented subject with the urgency of identity politics for people of color, women, lesbians, and gay men?" As Elizabeth Barrett Browning might have said (before the professor put her to sleep): "Let me count the ways."

The hunger gene

From the BBC:

Scientists have discovered a gene which may increase the risk of obesity by encouraging people to overeat.

Of course, there are rumors that McDonalds may actually have created the gene, secretly infusing it into their all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce and cheese--but those are just rumors. Investigations to follow.


Here is a copy of the proposed Constitution for Afghanistan. It will be sent to the 500 member Grand Assembly for a vote in December. But note this bad news from yesterday’s London Independent (a left-wing paper): "The UN Security Council sent a high-ranking delegation to Afghanistan yesterday to bolster the country’s leader, Hamid Karzai, amid signs that his authority is steadily slipping to powerful warlords and warnings that an opium boom could turn Afghanistan into a failed state run by drug cartels."

Somalia and al Qaida

According to UN investigators, Somalia served as a training base, weapons supermarket and hideout for the Al Qaida cell that carried out last November’s twin attacks near Mombasa.

American to direct Yukos

Simon Kukes, an American citizen, as Director of the oild giant Yukos. Khodorkovsky, in jail, resigned Monday. Other Americans are also at senior levels.

CBS pulls Reagan miniseries

CBS has pulled the rabidly anti-Reagan mini-series and has licensed it to Showtime. It is aid that they lost $8 million over this fiasco. Gosh, what a shame! No doubt some large names (perhaps even Nancy) went to bat against CBS, but don’t think that the internet didn’t help. Some many thousands of people, knowing of the mischief so quickly, and then passing the word, must have had a great deal to do with it. This was one of those perfect manifestation of liberal arrogance gone over the deep end. But’ no doubt, the left will call this censorship and McCarthyism.

Our morale and their elections

Dvaid Brooks writes that "Iraqification" (getting the Iraqis to defend themselves)of the war is a long term strategy and for the the next six months the hard work is up to us; we have to defend them. It would be a mistake for the administration to imply anything else. The main challenge now is to preserve our national morale. And it is our responsibility not to walk away. Reuel Marc Gerecht touches on the same themes but also has some advice for the administration: establish the political process and elections in Iraq more quickly than they had thought possible. He thinks it can be done and it would have a very useful political effect.

Enough troops?

Edward Luttwak claims that there aren’t enough troops on the ground in Iraq: of the 133,000 only circa 56,000 are combat ready, the rest are support troops. The number of troops on patrol at any one time is around 28,000.

The cost of North Korea’s collapse

CNN reports that "A sudden and dramatic collapse of the North Korean state is just a matter of time and will place a huge financial burden on the neighboring South, one of the world’s leading credit ratings agencies has warned.

Speaking to reporters in Seoul Monday, John Chambers, managing director of sovereign ratings at Standard & Poor’s, said the inevitable economic collapse could cost South Korea up to 300 percent of its annual gross domestic product."

No Left Turns Mug Drawing Winners for October

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

Virgil Saari

Joe Knippenberg

Steve Brungs

Janice Johnston

Jennifer Towers

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

Iraqi Intelligence files

It turns out Steve Coll has another interesting piece in today’s WaPo. "The CIA has seized an extensive cache of files from the former Iraqi Intelligence Service that is spurring U.S. investigations of weapons procurement networks and agents of influence who took money from the government of Saddam Hussein, according to U.S. officials familiar with the records.

The Iraqi files are ’almost as much as the Stasi files,’ said a senior U.S. official, referring to the vast archives of the former East German intelligence service seized after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989."

"They contain not only the names of nearly every Iraqi intelligence officer, but also the names of their paid foreign agents, written agent reports, evaluations of agent credentials, and documentary evidence of payments made to buy influence in the Arab world and elsewhere, the officials said." Needless to say, interesting and useful information is bound to be in these documents and, in time, we will know most of their contents. 

French treachery?

Steve Coll has a long article in the WaPo about the confusion in Iraq on the eve of the war and how Saddam thought he could survive. The first paragraph already indicates some very interesting information to be found in the rest of the article.

"Saddam Hussein refused to order a counterattack against U.S. troops when war erupted in March because he misjudged the initial ground thrust as a ruse and had been convinced earlier by Russian and French contacts that he could avoid or survive a land invasion, former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz has told interrogators, according to U.S. officials."

Here is another: "Aziz’s extensive interrogations -- eased by a U.S. decision to quietly remove his family from Iraq to safe exile in a country that American officials would not name -- paint Hussein on the eve of war as a distracted, distrustful despot who was confused, among other things, by his meetings with Russian and French intermediaries. Aziz said Hussein emerged from these diplomatic sessions -- some secret at the time -- convinced that he might yet avoid a war that would end his regime, despite ample evidence to the contrary."

And yet one more: "Aziz has told interrogators that French and Russian intermediaries repeatedly assured Hussein during late 2002 and early this year that they would block a U.S.-led war through delays and vetoes at the U.N. Security Council. Later, according to Aziz, Hussein concluded after private talks with French and Russian contacts that the United States would probably wage a long air war first, as it had done in previous conflicts. By hunkering down and putting up a stiff defense, he might buy enough time to win a cease-fire brokered by Paris and Moscow."

I am aware that Aziz is not necessarily trustworthy, and he may be making things up just to get on our good side, etc. Yet, these are interesting things, and the reporter seems pretty careful. This may be worth paying attention to. 

Bob Graham will not run for re-election

Sen. Bob Graham has already bowed out of the presidential race, now he has announced that he will not run for re-election to the Senate. "Graham’s decision not to run for re-election further complicates Democrats’ hopes to regain control of the Senate, where Republicans hold a 51-48 majority, with one Democratic-leaning independent.

He would be the fourth Southern Democrat to retire at the end of his term, giving Republicans opportunities for strong gains in a region of the country where President Bush figures to run strongly in 2004. Three other southern Democrats have already announced they aren’t running for re-election: Sens. Zell Miller of Georgia, John Edwards of North Carolina and Ernest ’Fritz’ Hollings of South Carolina." Good news for the GOP.

Surfer and her faith

As you already know a young surfer had her arm bit off by a shark. Her name is Bethany Hamilton and she is 13 years old, and is, by all accounts a great surfer. She is recovering. I saw her two brothers interviewed this morning on NBC. They are two strapping boys, late teens or early twenties. Not especially well spoken, but clearly think highly of their sister. Matt Lauer asked how she was doing, etc. One of the brothers responded that she is doing well, is a very tough kid, and will be back surfing soon, he thought. Also, he said that he does not doubt that one of the causes of her ability to recover and keep going is that she believes in Christ. Matt Lauer ignored his remark, but the brother mentioned it again and said that she came by her faith honestly and naturally. It is hers and it is deep. Laeur continued to ignore the comment and was ill at ease. You want to bet that he wouldn’t have trouble having a converstaion with a Muslim about his faith?

Just another soldier, writing

Just Another Soldier is the blog of a soldier in Iraq. It makes for very good, both on the particulars of daily life and larger questions. Andrew Sullivan brought this to my attention, and I thank him. As Andrew says, this guy sure can write. Being a soldier in Iraq may be the start of some literary careers, I hope so. Enjoy.  

Zell Miller: In his own words

The Democratic Senator from Georgia, Zell Miller explains, in his own words, why he is voting for George W. Bush in 2004. He also explains why the current crop of Democratic candidates made that choice even easier for him.

The End of the West?

I like reading Thomas Friedman inThe New York Times and it’s not because he is deeply insightful or especially lucid. It is because he is--by and large--sensible, and always just two steps behind what he should have thought a year or so ago. He perfectly reflects intelligent liberal opinion (I stress intelligent). In this op-ed he claims that there really is a divergent interest between the Europeans (he means Old Europe, of course) and the U.S. It is, in short, the "end of the West" as we have known it. He had Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister explain it to him. Oh, well, better than not knowing. 

Campaign notes

David Broder and Dan Balz write a long story in the WaPo on how the nation is once again split on Bush. The latest poll shows his approval rating at 56%, yet the claim of the article is that we are back to the 50-50 division of 2000. While not persuasive, it is worth reading, in large measure because it reflects the elite media’s views of things. The New York Times notes that with the good economic news, the Democrats will have to re-calibrate their attack on Bush. Of course this means that for the next few months the question of jobs will take center stage, right behind the "quagmire" in Iraq. Wesley Clark accuses Bush of taking the United States into the Iraqi war under false pretenses. "It was a war that wasn’t necessary. It was a war that wasn’t planned well. It was a war that we fought without adequate forces on the ground. It was a war we fought without leveling with the American people about what was going to happen next." He is feeling his oats because he is now in the lead in South Carolina.
Howard Dean said: "I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks. We can’t beat George Bush unless we appeal to a broad cross-section of Democrats." This did not amuse
John Edwards. He called it "offensive." In the meantime Mark Steyn continues to amuse and inform as he reflects on the Demos strategy, as well as on the meaning of "metrosexual." And, finally, Pat Buchanan reflects on CBS’s assassination of Ronald Reagan’s character. He’s right, it’s an outrage and it will have political consequences.

Don Quixote

Apparently there is a new translation of Cervantes’ Don Quixote out. This review by Carlos Fuentes (whose judgments in the past have not been necessarily perfect, I should mention) ruminates on some interesting points, inlcuding whether or not Don Quixote is the first modern novel. Fuentes says yes "because of the different languages spoken in it," and "an encounter of genres and a refusal of purity." Well, I don’t know about that, but DQ is a good book and may be worth re-reading in this new form.

Quagmire talk

An American helicopter has been shot down in Iraq, and, at this count, at least 15 soldiers were killed, and 21 wounded. It was the deadliest single strike against American troops since the start of war. David Rieff has a long article in the Sunday New York Times Magazine, called "Blueprint for a Mess," in which he chastizes the Bush administration for making a bunch of wrong decisions about the war in Iraq. He focuses on the lack of postwar planning, the lack of putting emphasis on "nation-building," the lack of willingness to listen to the Department of State which had the whole thing nailed.

He claims: "And the more time passes, the clearer it becomes that what happened in the immediate aftermath of what the administration calls Operation Iraqi Freedom was a self-inflicted wound, a morass of our own making." Poor planning and wishful thinking are responsible "for the fact that it may be turning into a quagmire."

It is clear now that the Ramadan offensive will allow partisanship to shift into a higher gear. The blabber heard yesterday from the liberals will be turned into sagacious sounding warnings by the media, and this will continue to the end. And it will be especially monotonous and irksome. And no useful policy may come from it.
The opponents of the Bush administration and the opponents of the war will ever more loudly shout their warnings about being in a quagmire. What citizens need from the President now is to continue to show his character and that he is every inch a President. He should continue to act boldly and speak plainly, letting his and our courage mount with the occasion. And let Bush and his lieutenants continue to show that they know the disciplines of war. I do not doubt that in the end all will be well, or at least as well as life can be beneath Heaven. But I must say that maybe occasionally a good mouth-filling oath against our enemies and our domestic nay-sayers would be helpful.

Jack Ryan of Illinois

According to George Will if this Republican--Jack Ryan of Illinois--can’t make inroads among black voters, then it can’t be done. This is a great story about a man whose character and purposes seem unimpeachable. It is also a story about education, for this 41 year-old "left Goldman Sachs to become a teacher at Hales Franciscan High School in the heart of the huge black community on the South Side. In an area where some schools send more young men to prison than to college, Hales Franciscan has for six consecutive years sent all its graduates -- all black boys, most from homes poor enough to qualify for the school lunch program -- to colleges, including Notre Dame, Northwestern, Georgetown and the Naval Academy." He is a Republican running in the primary for the U.S. Senate in a Democratic state.

In favor of a consumption tax

Here is Pejman Yousefzadeh’s column in favor of a consumption tax, because, he says, "the so-called ’progressive income tax’ has been in effect since the adoption of the 16th Amendment in 1913, but as is increasingly clear, it has outlived its usefulness." I agree.

Putin’s gamble

Masha Lipman warns that "The arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russia’s biggest oil tycoon, followed by the seizure of shares of his company, signals a dramatic escalation of the political change underway in this country." Putin is walking a dangerous--and tyrannic--path here; he has arrested the country’s richest man. There are going to be massive consequences. There already have been some, and arguably the country is in a crisis. Here is Leon Aron (once again) on the issue. The Russians are hitting back at the U.S.’s criticism of their tyrannic ways. There are fears within Russia that this is the start of the re-nationalization of industry and putting an end to the possibility of wealth creation. What do you think would happen to Russia if foreign investment stopped, by the way? Or, if their is a sharp increase in capital flight out of Russia? The Economist’s take on this matter. You should pay attention to this.

Iraq, the press, and the Demos

Simon Henderson, the biographer of Saddam Hussein, writes a good article on the press’ coverage of Iraq, and why, probably, it will not end the way the liberals want it to end. Jim Hoagland think that Bush will get it right: he is impressed by Bush’s ability to make mid-course corrections, by his national security team, and by his doggedness. There is no comparison between Iraq and Johnson’s failed Vietnam policy. Charles Krauthammer explains the significance of the car bomb ("the nuclear weapon of guerrilla warfare") and asserts that if Bush stays in power we will win. Debra Saunders is not impressed by the Democrats’ notion that what it takes to win in Iraq is another three step proposal to build an international coalition. It is just a matter of will at this point. Jonah Goldberg beats up on the Democrats--using Senator Zell Miller’s (D) endorsement of Bush for 2004 as a stage--and says that "Miller’s decision is the logical consequence of a party that, at the national level, has become consumed by appetite - for power, for payback, for partisan gain - and nothing more." That’s why they see each setback in Iraq as a political opportunity; and they ought to be ashamed. And Diana West gently takes issue with Bush’s all-too-gentle-and-all-too-diplomatic views of Muslims. Please note that Iraq’s fuel crisis, which the press made such a big deal about not long ago, seems to be over. And Johann Hari, in the left-wing Independent (London), of all places, makes the argument that the real problem is not the attacks in Iraq, but that a small minority of people in the U.S. and Britain are trying to persuade us that the Iraqi don’t want the good guys in their country. Good article.