Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

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."