Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Honesty is a Fool!

David Brooks--isn’t it fun that he is writing for The New York Times?--says that things are wildly out of control in the Bush administration; it is drunk on truth serum! And this is affecting not only the question of who should be allowed to bid for work in Iraq but all of our foreign policy. The President’s tendency to be straightforward has to be reined in! The Pres and others had better learn to be false to their nature, this honesty stuff is getting out of hand.  

Strom Thurmond as illegitimate father

Marilyn W. Thompson writes a lon g WaPo story about the woman--now a retired teacher--who claims to be Former Senator Strom Thurmond’s illegitimate daughter. Her mother was a (black) teenager working as a maid in the Thurmond home when the affair is said to have occured. This has been widely rumored for decades, and the woman, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, is to hold a press conference next week. Williams said that she now wants to make this public, after decades of denial: "I did not want anybody to know I had an illegitimate father," said Williams, who has four grown children. "My children convinced me to tell the truth. I want to finally answer all of these questions . . . that have been following me for 50 or 60 years."

Robert Heinlein

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation puts out this on Robert Heinlein because one of his long-lost first novel, For Us, the Living will be published in January. The novel imagines an America in the late 21st century that is, according to CBC, patterned after Alberta in the 1930’s and the Social Credit movement. It mentions that Heinlein eventually moved from the Left to the Right, supporting Goldwater in 1964 (whom CBC says some consider to be "the first neo-conservative"; amusing), but also opposing social conservatives. As Lincoln purportedly said, they may have got their facts straight, but they’ve come to the wrong conclusion. Worth a glance.

"I am for dead white male culture!"

World magazine contains an article about the opening of Return of the King that includes the following comment (made in Hollywood!!) by actor John Rhys-Davies, who plays Gimli the dwarf in the film:

"I think that Tolkien says that some generations will be challenged and if they do not rise to meet that challenge they will lose their civilization. That does have a real resonance with me.... What is unconscionable is that too many of your fellow journalists do not understand how precarious Western civilization is.... The abolition of slavery comes from Western democracy. True Democracy comes from our Greco-Judeo-Christian-Western experience. If we lose these things, then this is a catastrophe for the world.

"And if it just means replacement of one genetic stock with another genetic stock, I don’t think that matters too much. But if it involves the replacement of Western civilization with different cultural values then it’s something we really ought to discuss because ... I am for dead white male culture! If Tolkien’s got a message, it’s that sometimes you’ve got to stand up and fight for what you believe in."

More Fat Is Good Thoughts

Yes indeed, Peter, the obesity epidemic is the final refutation (as if one more were needed) of Marxism. The Marxists used to say that the problem with capitalism is that it starved the poor. Now the problem with capitalism (McDonald’s, KFC, Krispy Kreme) is that is makes us too fat. Go figure.

Reaching a showdown in the war

Victor Davis Hanson writes some good stuff. He moves with ease between the 40,000 soldiers Athens lost in Sicily in 411 B.C., Vicksburg in 1863, and the spring of 1943, the demise of the Soviet empire, and connects them. These were periods of great change when a critical mass was reached in wars when new victors began emerging. This has to do with our current war, he claims. "We are beginning the third year of this multi-theater conflict, and it resembles the Punic War after the Carthaginian defeat at the Metaurus in 207 B.C., the year of decision of 1863, or the autumn leading to Alamein and Stalingrad. Ever so slowly the momentum is building. If we stay resolute and tighten the noose around the Baathists, the days of the extremists in Iraq will be numbered even as the rest of the country begins to prosper. And the final victory will only embolden us and discourage our enemies. The war itself cannot be won in the Sunni Triangle, but it might well have been lost there."

And this: "Very rarely in history do any of the belligerents quite realize what stage of the war they are actually in. The slugfest at Zama still followed Hannibal’s escape to Carthage. After Gettysburg there was the terrible summer of 1864 to come. The Battle of the Bulge followed both Normandy Beach and Stalingrad. And for much of the 1980s the world was sure that Soviet divisions were going to crush Polish steelworkers as a crumbling empire went out with a bang rather than a whimper."  

Fat is good

The Economist runs a pretty good editorial: "When the world was a simpler place, the rich were fat, the poor were thin, and right-thinking people worried about how to feed the hungry. Now, in much of the world, the rich are thin, the poor are fat, and right-thinking people are worrying about obesity. Evolution is mostly to blame."

Marines, Velvet Glove and Iron Fist

Michael Gordon writes a story in today’s New York Times entitled, "Marines Plan to Use Velvet Glove More Than Iron Fist in Iraq." This is very much worth reading, but be careful not to misunderstand the article. Starting next March, nine battalions of U.S. Marines will be deployed to Iraq. Note in passing that no Marine has been killed in Iraq since mid-April. So what’s the story? The story is that the Marines, according to Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, the commanding general of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, will use tactics that seem different from those used by, for example, the Army’s Fourth Infantry Division (although the General is quick to note that he is not critical of the Army). Conway is interested in both gaining Iraqi public support and human intelligence. He said: "I don’t want to condemn what people are doing. I think they are doing what they think they have to do. I’ll simply say that I think until we can win the population over and they can give us those indigenous intelligence reports that we’re prolonging the process."

The Marines will try to design their raids to be, in Conway’s words, "laser precise," focused on the enemy with a maximum effort made to avoid endangering or humiliating Iraqi civilians.

The truth is that this mode--the velvet glove and the iron fist--is nothing new to the Marines. These tough guys are smart tough guys. You know this both from your public history and from the common sense of the subject. It’s not as though the Marines are not used to small wars and counterinsurgency efforts, right? See their fat Small Wars Manual. They should, of course, use both the glove and the fist, depending on the circumstances. Oh, yes, one more thing, it doesn’t hurt to have the reputation that Marines are very tough, very courageous, and when they shoot, they shoot straight. With a reputation like that, there is more receptivity to taking the velvet gloved hand, when extended.

Also note this front page article by Greg Jaffe in The Wall Street Journal (pay site) on the new Army Chief of Staff:
"The three dozen company commanders who gathered here late last month to chat with Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army’s top officer, had every reason to expect a pat on the back. These, after all, were the soldiers who had led the charge that flattened Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard last spring.

Instead they got a preview of the sweeping changes that lay ahead for the U.S. Army, driven in large part by the messy aftermath in Afghanistan and Iraq, and by the post-9/11 realization that even a small, low-tech enemy could do huge harm.

’We’re going to have to [change] some of the things that made us the best Army in the world,’ Gen. Schoomaker told them. ’Our values are sacrosanct. But everything else is on the table.’" Schoomaker is the guy that Rumsfeld brought out of retirement last summer. And, most important, he
"spent much of his career leading the military’s most secret, counterterrorism units behind enemy lines in the Middle East, Central America and other places. His experiences set him apart in an Army that has focused largely on preparing for a major war against a large land power such as the Soviet Union or North Korea."

Britain’s "Back Door" Euthanasia Bill

The Brits have proposed legislation that many are calling a "back door to legal euthanasia." The Telegraph report is worth a look. There’s some scarey stuff in the bill deserving of the Catholic criticism it’s received--provisions allowing "doctors to carry out medical research on mentally confused patients without their full consent" to name one.

Meanwhile, here in the States, it seems the Hemlock Society finds the whole Terri Schiavo case to offend its sense of dignity, and has started a media blitz to raise our "right-to-die" awareness. Always good to be reminded that the right to life was never one of those inalienable rights.

Measuring Terri’s Worth

A nice, short op-ed in the Miami-Herald this morning defending Terri Schiavo and others like her, and reminding us all (and those that would see her dead) that her worth is not defined by her medical condition. 

New Canadian Prime Minister

In what might actually be good news out of Canada, Jean Chretien steps down this morning as Canadian Prime Minister. Paul Martin--considered slightly more conservative--will be sworn in later today. At the very least, Martin seems to understand that he has some fences to mend with the U.S.

Robots, below and above

A new Underwater robot is being developed. "U.S. scientists will be able to explore the deepest parts of the world’s oceans, up to seven miles below the surface, with a novel underwater vehicle capable of performing multiple tasks in extreme conditions. Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) are developing a battery-powered underwater robot to enable scientists to explore the ocean’s most remote regions up to 11,000 meters (36,000-feet) deep."

And another guy is working on a four-rotor autonomous helicopter that resembles the Draganflyer.

Dean gets boost from Gore endorsement

Rassmussen Reports claims that Dean has gotten a large boost from the Gore endorsement. "In a head-to-head match-up between Dean and Congressman Richard Gephardt, 43% of Democrats would now prefer Dean as their nominee while just 32% would prefer Gephardt. Before Gore’s announcement, Dean was preferred by just 36% to Gephardt’s 31%." This is the National Journal’s Democratic Insider’s Poll. Also note that Liberman continues to claim that interest in his candidacy has gone up--a lot more donations--since the Gore announcement. I regret to say that I don’t think that will last. This is pity money. And then there is this. The New York Times claims that Wesley Clark called Bill Clinton right after he heard about Gore endorsing Dean, "just to call and say `hello.’" Cute.

College capstone courses

K.C. Johnson, on the NAS blog, has some good thoughts on how capstone courses are politicized. Chilling stuff. Erin O’Conner reflects on all this and adds his own two cents. All useful. Although the capstone course I teach is in political science, I include the one I taught a few years ago, for your information. It is called Human Being and Citizen (PDF). Of course, I claim no originality in the way the course is sructured, and I plan to teach it essentially the same way this Spring (adding only Ellison’s Juneteenth). If you have any suggestions, I’d be delighted to hear them.

Bush is right on Iraq contracts

Kofi Annan calls the President’s decision "unfortunate" and "not unifying." Europe’s foreign policy chief called the U.S. decision to bar opponents of the war in Iraq from reconstruction contracts "gratuitous and unhelpful" when unity is needed. And--surprise!--The Washington Post blasts the President as well.

Here is what President Bush said on this issue after yesterday’s cabinet meeting: Q: You seem to be saying that the boots on the ground are the only qualifications for -- but what about the forgiveness of debt? Isn’t that a fairly substantial --

THE PRESIDENT: "It is, it would be a significant contribution, for which we would be very grateful. What I’m saying is, in the expenditure of taxpayer’s money -- and that’s what we’re talking about now -- the U.S. people, the taxpayers understand why it makes sense for countries that risk lives to participate in the contracts in Iraq. It’s very simple. Our people risk their lives. Coalition -- friendly coalition folks risk their lives, and, therefore, the contracting is going to reflect that. And that’s what the U.S. taxpayers expect."

Bush has it exactly right. And I am very happy that he said all that. Not only have the French, Germans, Russians, not been helpful on Iraq, that’s bad enough. But in the case of France, they actually worked against our interests before (and even during) the war. That is not a small thing. And those who claim that this decision is not unifying, etc., are whinning and their attempt at taking the moral high ground fails. We have the moral high ground on this issue; their (what Tom Wolfe called) mau-mauing the American taxpayer should not stand. Furthermore, I don’t think this hinders our diplomatic efforts at all. Baker is trying to get these countries to forgive the debts owed by Iraq, and Bush’s clear stance will help him accomplish his purpose. As I said the other day: In the end it is probable that we will give them some contracts, if they forgive some of the debts. Baker has some leverage, he doesn’t have to beg. Under these circumstances, it would be O.K. for Baker to cut some deals with the Unwilling. That would be O.K. because we would be giving them something and we would be getting something in return. What the liberals (of course I include Kofi Annan in this) want is for us to reward them with contracts (our taxpayer’s hard-earned dollars) for having opposed our efforts. If Bush would have given the impression that he would do that, there would have been on uprising among his supporters. This is another example of Bush sound judgment. I applaud it.

Strauss and art

Laurie Fendrich, an artist and art professor, reflects on art and Strauss. Good read. (Thanks to Ken).

Consequences of campaign finance reforms

Here are a couple of ordinary reports on the meaning and/or consequences of the Court’s decision to uphold the campaign finance laws. This is merely a start. Tom Edsall of the WaPo, explaining who the winners and losers are. Sensible, as far as it goes, as long as it is understood that in the long run it is the two party system that is the loser. Glenn Justice of the NY Times takes on the issue in much the same way as Edsall does. McConnell’s right: "Soft money is not gone, it has just changed its address." New organizations, special interests, fund-raisers, rich guys who want more direct influence, third parties, will all benefit. People like George Soros will end benefitting most. It is certain that at least the Democratic Party (and eventually perhaps even the GOP) will be greatly disadvantaged; it will turn into a small mom-and pop operation, with Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s small annual contributions not being able to compete with the likes of Soros who will give to other newly created organizations that will prove to be more ideological and narrow, and, unfortunately, will have a tremendous effect on the tone and quality of public deliberations. None of this will be to the benfit of the country in the long run. It’s a shame. By the way, there is an argument brewing on whether or not this decision is the longest Court decision ever--that may be reserved to Dred Scott--but it is probable that it’s consequences will be on par with that other infamous case, regardless of length.

Diggins digging

The liberal historian John Patrick Diggins beats up on what he calls neo-conservatives (Commentary and Weekly Standard folks, mostly) in this extended essay on how liberals opposed Communism. A good read, even though there is much here to disagree with. Are these guys choleric, or what?

Dean, moving right

A new Quinnipiac Poll finds this: "Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has surged to a 9-point lead over his nearest challenger in the Democratic Presidential pack, but President George W. Bush has solidified his lead over top Democrats and now scores 50 percent or higher against any challenger, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today." Lieberman came in second. Also note that the according to the Los Angeles Times Howard Dean "enthusiastically supports missile defense development and declines to back a proposal to ban weapons in space." He is now moving quickly toward the moderate image he needs if he has any chance of prevailing in the general election. I noted that during the last debate, he hardly mentioned Iraq and, when he did, he seemed quite moderate, wanted to stay the course, etc. Dean’s full statement on missile defense and other national security issues (and that of other Demo candidates) may be found on this Left-wing site called Council for a Liveable World.

The Modern Prince

Patrick Garrity reviews Carnes Lord’s The Modern Prince: What Leaders Need to Know. Lord doesn’t exactly read Machiavelli the way most read him; he is most interested in getting people to appreciate what he calls the "grammar of leadership"--statecraft. Garrity, in brief, does justice to this point and its relationship to liberal democracy, properly understood. A good read. By the way, Lord will be speaking at the Ashbrook Center on February 17th next.

Gore’s misstep

Susan Estrich, no less, says this: "Al Gore has done it again.

There’s a reason he isn’t president, and it’s not just the chads in Florida. Gore has the worst political instincts of anyone to have gotten as far as he did.

Once again, he has proven why he is a loser and not a leader." The rest of her article doesn’t get any kinder toward Gore.
David Broder is less harsh on Gore, but he is at least "puzzled" by his decision to ednorse Dean. He thinks that Gore did not fulfill his obligations as a Democratic Party leader, and hints that Dean’s candicacy will lead to a disaster for the Demos. Even Clarence Page, not an especially impressive analyst, says that Gore just wants to be a player again, and hints that it may not work. In watching the various analysts on TV, as well as reading many, what has struck me is how unimpressed they are with Gore’s move; the undercurrent in all of their words is that the Gore endorsement is not necessarily going to help Dean gain the nomination and, even if Dean gets the nod, he will likely lose. And, they imply, this may be Gore’s last gambit in politics. It’s the Clintons’ party, and he came to the table much too late (why didn’t he get in the game for the 2002 elections?) to change that. The only way--in my humble opinion--Gore can change this perception is by campaigning very seriously for Dean both now and in the general election. I’m betting he will not do that.

Media coverage of Iraq

Instapundit continues to be angered that the major media has not covered the mass demonstrations in Iraq against terrorism and for democracy. I agree with him, this is just another example of awful and slanted coverage. If you doubt any of this see this, and also see this Iraqi blogger.

Please Support the Ashbrook Center

As the end of the year rolls around and Uncle Sam begins to look longingly at your tax return, please consider a donation to the Ashbrook Center. Many of you only know the Ashbrook Center through this No Left Turns, but we are much more than that. First and foremost, in everything we do, we teach the meaning and significance of America. We accomplish this with our Ashbrook Scholar Program, our Summer Teacher Institutes, our luncheons and colloquia, our many publications, and so much more. Please give to the Ashbrook Center today and help us teach the meaning and significance of America.

Robert Bartley

Robert Bartley, the long-time editorial page editor of the ’Wall St. Journal’ has died at the age of 66. This ’Opinion Journal’ article gives a nice summary of his life and impact.

In a regime, where, as Abraham Lincoln said, public opinion is everything, Robert Bartley did more than anyone, and certainly more than any journalist, to guide and change public opinion on the most important matters.

He became the Editor of the Editorial Page of the ’Wall St. Journal’ in 1972. He along with Jude Wanniski, Arthur Laffer, and Robert Mundell became the chief spokesmen for what became known as supply-side economics. They refined and enlarged public opinion on economic matters. Without that refinement, there would have been no Reagan Revolution.

Under Bartley’s tutelage, the ’Wall St. Journal’ Editorial Page provided a daily dose of bracing common sense on all issues ranging from the Cold War, Domestic Policy, the corruption of Slick Willie, and the War on Terror.

This good man will be sorely missed.

Kiddie Porn and Political Speech

In recent years, Congress has passed major legislation restricting 1) pornography on the internet; 2) kiddie porn on the internet; and 3) issues advocacy 60 days before an election--core political speech. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of one of these restrictions, held that one was unconstitutional, and strongly suggested the remaining restriction was also unconstitutional. If you guessed that the ban on political speech was the restriction ruled unconstitutional, you would be wrong -- at least according to Justices Stevens, O’Connor, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer. For them, apparently, kiddie porn and internet pornography receives more First Amendment protection than political speech during an election. The whole opinion is 298 pages, affirming in significant part a district court opinion of over 1600 pages, which upheld the 90-page statute, implemented by a 1000 pages of regulations. Somewhere along the way the Court has lost sight of the meaning of "no law," as in "Congress shall pass no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech." Question is: "What are we ordinary citizens going to do about it?"

Nixon on Reagan

AP reports that some recently made public Nixon tapes reveal that Nixon didn’t like being around Ronald Reagan. Nixon thought he was "strange." I thought you’d like to know this, since I always thought exactly the reverse. Nixon was strange, and Reagan wasn’t. I think I would like it if strange people (Nixon) called me strange. It would go a long way toward proving that I wasn’t. Ditto for Reagan.

Supremes uphold campaign finance laws

Here is the Reuters report on the Court’s decision. It is made up of eight seperate opinions and about 275 pages. Here is the full decision. Reuters says this: "It concluded the law’s two principal, complementary features -- Congress’ efforts to plug the soft-money loophole and its regulation of electioneering communications -- must be upheld in the main." Too bad.

Partying with Dean

The Wall Street Journal lead editorial today references one of my all time-favorite Saturday Night Live skits, "Dukakis After Dark," aired way back in 1988. Here is the money quote:

As historical evidence, we suggest that Democrats--and the Dean campaign, for that matter--consult the archive for NBC’s "Saturday Night Live." Specifically, the show from 1988 featuring Jon Lovitz as the defeated Democratic presidential nominee in a skit called "Dukakis After Dark."

The setting is election eve, and even before the polls are closed it’s already clear--as Mr. Lovitz’s Dukakis candidly admits--that he doesn’t stand a "chance of winning this election." But he goes through with his party anyway, and Lloyd Bentsen walks up with a question. "Mike!" says his running mate. "Now that it’s all over, you can tell me. You were gonna raise taxes, weren’t you?"

Martini in hand, clad in a burgundy smoking jacket, Mr. Lovitz doesn’t even blink: "Through the roof!"

Shakespeare travelling

The New Criterion is approving of a new National Endowment for the Arts project called “Shakespeare in American Communities.” This ambitious fourteen-month program —supported by the Sallie Mae Fund and Arts Midwest in conjunction with the NEA—will send six theater companies across the country to perform Othello, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Richard III. In addition, the NEA is collaborating with the Department of Defense to bring a tour of Macbeth to military bases in the United States. (“If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well / It were done quickly”: a useful bit of advice for a soldier.) It looks good, better than funding so-called art by Robert Mapplethorpe. Here is the NEA site on the Shakespeare project.

Build your own jet?

These guys claim that they have found a cheap and easy way to build pulse-jet engines. Is that the sort of thing that, say, could be used in a cruise missile?

Contracts in Iraq

The New York Times reports: "The Pentagon has barred French, German and Russian companies from competing for $18.6 billion in contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq, saying the step ’is necessary for the protection of the essential security interests of the United States.’

The directive, which was issued by the deputy defense secretary, Paul D. Wolfowitz, represents perhaps the most substantive retaliation to date by the Bush administration against American allies who opposed its decision to go to war in Iraq." This seems perfectly reasonable. Although given that former Secretary of State James Baker has become the President’s personal
envoy to the countries that Iraq owes, it seems to me to be possible to cut some deals--connecting debt forgiveness with reconstruction contracts--in the not-to distant future. This is just the sort of thing Baker knows how to do.

Political tid-bits

Here is Andrew Sullivan beating up on Kerry. He explains why he has imploded, and why he should have. He focuses on the Rolling Stone interview, and says this:

"What you have in this interview is not a man thinking through the problems facing the country, examining the policies of the current administration, and telling us where they are wrong. What you have is someone intent on merely inventing a chronology that didn’t happen and a reality that doesn’t exist in order to posit himself as the cure for all our ills. Peer through the "maturity" and "thoughtfulness" and you find very little of substance and a great deal of empty narcissism. That’s why Senator John Kerry is losing. And it’s why, of all the Democratic candidates, he deserves to."

Kathleen Parker shows no mercy toward Dean as she evaluates his attempt to woo the poor and the black in the South. Bill Kristol ruminates on the fact that Dean could win against Bush. Worth considering. Jonah Goldberg considers the meaning of Gore’s endorsement of Dean, and concludes: "I understand Gore sees in Dean one qualification Lieberman doesn’t have: the potential to win. But when you think about all that has happened since 9/11, for Gore to say that the post-9/11 world makes Howard Dean more, not less, qualified to be president than Joe Lieberman really shows how unserious Al Gore and his party have become."

Democratic debate

I forced myself to watch some of the debate last night, hoping that there would be some sparks brought about by the Gore endorsement. Alas, there was little spark, little life. Same old tired cliches, well worn repetitious phrases. It was like watching old fat men trying to run a marathon; most of them shouldn’t have been there. I felt sorry for Lieberman, clearly hurt by the Gore move. Gephardt may have been a little better than normal, and Dean just didn’t have anything to say. No one had much to say on Iraq, which surprised me, even Dean only said something about staying the course. Weird. Clark--in my opinion the only one among them who could stop Dean--was quite unimpressive, dull and cold. The rest shouldn’t have been there. Who ever thought up all these debates with all self-declared candidates included (Sharpton, Kucinich, and Moseley-Braun have no right to be there) is an idiot and if he has a job, he should be fired. How can this help the Democratic Party?

Iraqi profs returning

According to the Christian Science Monitor the Iraqi "brain drain" that started in the 1960’s and 1970’s is starting to reverse itself. Many expatriate Iraqi professors and scientists are returning. Good sign.

More on the Gore endorsement

Jeff Greenfield is interviewed on CNN about the Gore decision. Although Greenfield’s opinions are quite predictable, you will note some not so subtle hints that Gore did this in a typically tacky way, is doing this in order to re-invent himself, and that this insider’s endorsement of the outsider may not be in Dean’s interest; and perhaps most important, this one time hawk of the Clinton administration has endorsed the most dovish of the Democratic candidates. Dick Morris explains why he thinks Gore did it: Forget about next November’s election, it’s the start of the battle for the future of the Democratic Party. This is Gore’s attempt to declare his independence from the Clintons and to fight the Clintons for the soul of the new party he will help to create between now and 2008. This also implies that Gore might run in 2008. David Frum agrees. "So Gore needs to speed his party toward the cataclysm [in 2004]– and if he can win new friends on the party’s left and look like a good sport while greasing the skids, all the better."

No Left Turns Mug Drawing Winners for November

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

Maryann Heinzeroth

Brianne Shipman

Matt George

Angelo Dante

Marcia Luongo

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 December’s drawing.

Brooks on the Internet man

David Brooks writes a great column taking apart Howard Dean (nothing to do with the Gore endorsement, although I will await his comments on that). Brooks argues that Dean has liberated himself from his past, he has no biography. He is not consistent on anything, and many examples are given. Brook’s comments are interesting and I think on the money: "But the liberated Dean is beyond categories like liberal and centrist because he is beyond coherence. He’ll make a string of outspoken comments over a period of weeks — on "re-regulating" the economy or gay marriage — but none of them have any relation to the others. When you actually try to pin him down on a policy, you often find there is nothing there."

"At each moment, he appears outspoken, blunt and honest. But over time he is incoherent and contradictory.

He is, in short, a man unrooted. This gives him an amazing freshness and an exhilarating freedom.

Everybody talks about how the Internet has been key to his fund-raising and organization. Nobody talks about how it has shaped his persona. On the Internet, the long term doesn’t matter, as long as you are blunt and forceful at that moment. On the Internet, a new persona is just a click away. On the Internet, everyone is loosely tethered, careless and free. Dean is the Internet man, a string of exhilarating moments and daring accusations."

Commentary on the Gore endorsement

Here is the New York Times story on Gore’s speech. And here is CNN’s. And here is the AP story. Note a couple of things. Gore said this: "We need to remake the Democratic Party, we need to remake America." Bingo. Also: "In a field of great candidates, one candidate clearly now stands out and so I’m asking all of you to join in this grassroots movement to elect Howard Dean president of the United States." This makes Dean the first internet candidate, so announced by the man who invented the internet. And here is a N.Y. Times on why Liberman is hit hardest by the decision. The Corner has reprinted Liberman’s interview on the Today Show this morning regarding Gore’s endorsement. Pity Liberman. You should also see what Andrew Sullivan has to say on the matter.

Hillary as a right-winger

Hayward is right. We do live in an amazing world when it is being said that Hillary is the moderate or on the right within the Democratic Party. But isn’t this similar to the situation post-1988 when it was Bill Clinton (and, now I note ironically, and Al Gore) who were seen as the moderates within the party? And, they seemed to have succeeded, did they not? After all, it was said that they saved the party; and they nailed it down by winning in 1992. One other point strikes me in all this: Where is 9/11 and the war on terror in all this? Why would Gore think that Dean would make a better president than his running mate Joe Liberman, given that we are in a war? I guess the answer is that Gore doesn’t think it is important. There is a delusian-like quality to the current politics within the Democratic Party.

European Union lacks support

Polls show that less than half of the population of Europe in the EU member states supports the EU project. This will get messy.

Keynote Speaker Contest

Last weekend at Jonah Goldberg’s Christmas party, I started a parlour game of handicapping who will be the keynote speaker at the Democratic Cinvention next summer. I had Hillary the favorite, with Gore, Ted Kennedy (because the convention is in Boston), and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (because Dems are worried about their possibly slipping share of the Hispanic vote) in fourth place. (Bill Clinton will surely speak, but probably on the second night, though, to help assure a second night’s excitement and viewership.) Michigan Gov. Granholm is also a possibility, because she is telegenic, and will help with the women’s vote.

The keynote speaker slot in next year’s convention is very important for 2008, if you assume that Dean is the nominee and that he will lose. Remember that it was Mario Cuomo’s keynote speech to the Dems in 1984 that made him a national figure and top contender for the future.

With Gore’s endorsement of Dean, Gore must now be made the favorite. Hillary no doubt wants it, but Dean won’t owe her anything. So here’s the handicap at this point:

Gore: 1 - 3 favorite

Hillary: Even money (1 - 1)

Richardson: 5 - 1

Ted Kennedy: 8 - 1

Granholm: 9 - 1

Methinks NoLeftTurns should sponsor a contest and award    to the winner.

Hillary, Right-Winger


All I can say is, it is an amazing world we live in when Hillary Clinton is considered the center-right of the Democratic Party.

Gore moves left

Most commentators are focusing on how Gore’s endorsement of Dean will help make certain that Dean ends up getting the nomination for 2004. While it is true that it will help Dean, there is a more important point to all this: Gore’s endorsement of Dean helps clarify what is going on in the Democratic Party and what is likely to go on over the next few years leading into the 2008 election. Gore has decided to move left, and to try to take the party with him. That this hurts the candidacy of Liberman, Kerrey, and Gephardt goes without saying. And, it should also go without saying, Lieberman is as angry as a wet hen; and he has a right to be, the

Boston Globe reports that Dean has been working on this endorsement for a year; you think Gore could have informed Lieberman.

If the party moves left with Dean as the nominee--with the former vice president and the last Democratic nominee in full support--who will there be to stop them? The answer is Hillary Clinton, who has been moving right, witness her recent hard-line remarks on Iraq. So the Clintons--for now through Wesley Clark--will have to save the party so that by 2008 a more moderate candidate can be put forward. And that condidate will be Hillary. I am betting that there are a lot of angry Democrats this day.

Steyn on Rumsfeld

Here is Mark Steyn’s comment on the Plain English award given to Rumsfeld that I have already commented on. 

Morris Shows He Is No Dick Once Again

Dick Morris nails it in this NY Post column on why Gore is endorsing Dean.

Master (nature) and Commander

Ken Masugi writes a short, and maybe surprising, review of the movie "Master and Commander." How does he find the time to go to movies, never mind writing about them?

Terrorism prosecutions since 9/11

The Los Angeles Times reports that a new study of Justice Department terrorism prosecutions since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks shows that while the government has convicted 184 people of crimes deemed to be "international terrorism," defendants were sentenced to a median prison term of just 14 days — and in some cases received no jail time at all. "The number of defendants sentenced to five years or more for terrorism-related crimes declined in the two years after the attacks compared with the two years before them, the authors found." The study was conducted by researchers at Syracuse University. This is interesting, but complicated; I don’t claim to understand it all. But
Phil Carter has some useful thoughts on it. Here is the whole study.

Government auctions on eBay

USA Today reports that various government agencies, including local and state, are using eBay to auction off things they don’t need. It is easier than holding a local auction, and there is more interest in the stuff being sold, and therefore, more income.

Bill Maher strikes again

Thanks to for directing my attention to this little gem.

Guarding our borders

This Washington Times article considers the difficulties of guarding our borders, North and South. Imperfections abound, yet it may be better than it has been in the past, especially pre-9/11.

Arnold’s opportunity

The California legislature has defeated Schwarzenneger’s fiscal plan. I disagree with Daniel Weintraub who calls it a defeat: It is, in fact an opportunity to use the referendum against the entrenched political class; progressive means to a conservative end. It looks like he is going to fight them. Go Arnold!

Wimps and barbarians, not gentlemen

It is no secret that Harvey Mansfield, Jr., Professor of Political Science at Harvard, is a rare conservative there; indeed, he may be the only one. Well, this report is on a speech he gave wherein he criticized the sexual habits of today’s college students. The students said they were offended when Mansfield said the only gentlemen left were either gay or conservative, according to The Harvard Crimson. (Thanks to Powerline for bringing this to my attention). And entirely related to this issue you should look at Terrence Moore’s
fine and long essay in the current issue of The Claremont Review of Books called, "Wimps and Barbarians: The Sons of Murphy Brown." Moore reflects on what today’s boys and young men are like (either wimps or barbarians), why, and begins to consider what can be done about it. And you might also want to consider Moore’s piece in the latest issue of On Principle, called, A Real High School.

Mike Oxley

The Mansfield paper runs a story on Rep. Mike Oxley (R) and his great fund-raising ability. Oxley, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has collected $7.5 million in campaign contributions over the last decade. He has raised over a million dollars this year, and half of what he has raised in recent years has been put into his political action committee, which has given out more money to other candidates this year than all but five of 133 similar PACs. Good for Oxley, good for the GOP.

Oxley, by the way, will be speaking at the Ashbrook Center next month on "The Resilience of the U.S. Economy".

Hard-line Hillary

William Safire applauds and explains Hillary Clinton’s comments on the talk shows Sunday morning. She is setting herself up for 2008, and doing it brilliantly. "Consider the political meaning of all this. Here is a Democrat who has no regrets for voting for the resolution empowering the president to invade Iraq; who insists repeatedly and resolutely that "failure is not an option"; who is ready to send in a substantially greater U.S. force to avert any such policy failure — and yet whose latest poll ratings show her to be the favorite of 43 percent of Democrats, three times the nomination support given front-runner Howard Dean." Read the whole thing.  

Party loyalty of Arabs and Jews

The Washington Post runs a front page, above the fold story, called "Terrorism Jars Party Loyalty of Arabs, Jews." It is a long piece and while much of it is predictable, there are few tid-bits about what it means to have the Republican Bush in the White House, who is rightly identyfied as "the most pro-Israel president in U.S. history." Jews are moving in a Republican direction, while Arabs are moving Democratic. Bush got about 19% of the Jewish vote in 2000, while Arabs "chose Bush over Gore by 14%" and Ralph Nader (Lebanese background) got about 17% of the Arab vote. I found this interesting: "Arab Americans, however, are not a major source of campaign funds. Jews provided at least half the money donated to the DNC in the 1998 and 2000 election cycles. At the RNC, Lew Eisenberg, who is Jewish, was finance chairman until he became finance chairman of the host committee for the Republican National Convention recently. At Bush-Cheney fundraisers in Washington, California, New York and Florida, rabbis gave the invocations."

Hitler’s other book

Jeremy Noakes writes a review in the Times Literary Supplement on "Hitler’s Second Book," his unpublished sequel to Mein Kampf. Short, but interesting review, especially regarding Hitler’s views on America and foreign policy.

Political notes

Washington Post reports that liberal groups are planning to spend about $300 million to defeat Bush. "More than 40 groups plan to fund get-out-the-vote efforts and television issue ads, assuming the traditional role of Democratic Party organizations because of the party’s limited resources as a result of the ban on soft money contributions under the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The effort involves such established organizations as the Sierra Club, the NAACP and the AFL-CIO, and has spawned a network of new groups, including America Coming Together (ACT) and the Media Fund, both of which have set $95 million fundraising targets."

In the meantime, AP-Ipsos Poll shows that recent developments "have had the net effect of stabilizing definite support for the re-election of President Bush." George Will claims (no dispute from me) that, "Howard Dean is no fool. He is, however, not much of a thinker. His talk flows as rapidly as a mountain brook but is no deeper than one of those."

Pearl Harbor at sixty-two

This National Geographic site is worth a look as a way of commemorating the 62nd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It would do us (and our enemies) well to remember what Churchill said about the Amnerica: "The United States is like a gigantic boiler. Once the fire is lit under it, there is no limit to the power it can generate." And this is a local story from Chillicothe, Ohio.

Bush in Baghdad

Here is a short and pithy account of Bush’s visit to Baghdad for Thanksgiving by a fellow who was there.  

Deja Vu all over again:

This article recounts a Soviet refuseniks encounter with Marxism at an American University.

He was surprised to learn that Marxism is alive and well anywhere, much less an American University.