Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


A Tanzanian man killed himself by drinking a chemical used in cattle dips, leaving a suicide note saying "I’ve decided to end my life, I am fed up with the constant nagging of my first wife."
Bridge players threaten boycott after town officials abolished a $4 weekly prize at the afternoon bridge club, saying it violated gambling laws. A two-year old model who cut his head at a playground is seeking unspecified lost wages and other compensation from the city.
Two Wal Mart store clerks were caught intentionally ramming shopping carts into a police cruiser on Christmas even; they were arrested and fired. Howard Dean reveals his "Jesus strategy," as his campaign moves South.

The Standing Ovation

This is a good article on how the standing ovation is being misused, hence devaluing excellence. Thanks to Doctor Curmudgeon.

The Return of the King

Paul Cella has a thoughtful comment about The Return of the King. I have also seen it, and agree with his comment:

"A masterpiece. A few blunders linger from the second film (the use of Gimli almost exclusively for comic relief does not abate, for example), but others are corrected or at least mitigated (Faramir’s character is restored by a combination of benign neglect and an effective depiction of his callous and despondent father), and there are a variety of minor departures from Tolkien’s text — some of which are sure to irritate. But in a broad and sympathetic sense I have no complaints about the film.

At the heart of this story is the venerable but neglected ideal of masculine friendship. If we manage to recover this idea, then these movies will have contributed to something of immense value. They will have helped make us men again."

Diary of a Dean-o-Phobe

Jonathan Chait of The New Republic has launched a blog in which he lays out exactly what he dislikes about Howard Dean.

Interview with Christopher Hitchens

The History News Network reprints an interview with Christopher Hitchens, which originally appeared at

In a particularly interesting passage, he recounts how 9/11 affected him:

Here was a time for the Left to demand a top-to-bottom house-cleaning of the state and of our covert alliances, a full
inquiry into the origins of the defeat, and a resolute
declaration in favor of a fight to the end for secular and
humanist values: a fight which would make friends of the
democratic and secular forces in the Muslim world. And instead,
the near-majority of "Left" intellectuals started sounding like
Falwell, and bleating that the main problem was Bush’s
legitimacy. So I don’t even muster a hollow laugh when this
pathetic faction says that I, and not they, are in bed with the
forces of reaction.

The Medici’s back in the news

Scientists are going to exhume remains of the Medici clan. American and Italian scientists desire to find out what they ate, what illnesses they had, and maybe which one(s) died from natural causes, etc. But Lorenzo the Magnificent will be left alone (can’t get to him). The Medici’s continue to suffer the malignity of fortune.

New blog

The American Thinker is a new blog. It looks good; click on Contributors. (Thanks to Powerline)


Peter Bergen tries to explain what al Qaeda is. "Some attacks will continue to be planned by the terrorist organization itself, others will be carried out by affiliate groups acting in the name of al Qaeda and additional operations will be executed by local jihadists who have little or no direct connection to al Qaeda. The last is perhaps the most worrisome development, because it suggests that al Qaeda has successfully turned itself from an organization into a mass movement -- one that has been energized by the war in Iraq." Agence-France Press reports that al Qaeda is behind the attack on Pakistan’s Musharaff. The London Guardian reports that an electronic jamming device in Musharaff’s limo that delayed the blast by a second or two saved his life. The N.Y. Post urges Musharaff to imitate Egypt after the assassination of Anwar Sadat: clamp down on extremists. L.A. Times is reporting that U.S. officials have a much broader concern than flights from France. Fox News reports this: "Disaster teams are ready to respond to any strike by the Al Qaeda terrorist network and special equipment is monitoring the air for biological agents in some 30 cities, the Bush administration said Thursday."

Bush’s prospects for re-election

USA Today runs a nice chart showing that presidents who have an over 50% job approval rating one year out have won re-election (except Carter). Bush’s job approval is at 63%.

Intelligence from Saddam capture

Alan Sipress writes in the WaPo that "As U.S. forces tracked Saddam Hussein to his subterranean hiding place, they unearthed a trove of intelligence about five families running the Iraqi insurgency, according to U.S. military commanders, who said the information is being used to uproot remaining resistance forces. Senior U.S. officers said they were surprised to discover -- clue by clue over six months -- that the upper and middle ranks of the resistance were filled by members of five extended families from a few villages within a 12-mile radius of the volatile city of Tikrit along the Tigris River. Top operatives drawn from these families organized the resistance network, dispatching information to individual cells and supervising financial channels, the officers said. They also protected Hussein and passed information to and from the former president while he was on the run."

Keegan on the G.I.

John Keegan reflects on the American soldier, not only as a warrior, but as a reflection of the country. They are not imperialists, but rather "incurably democratic."    

Ben Colgan’ family

L.A. Times runs this story about one of the central characters--2nd Lt. Ben Colgan--in the Time mag issue devoted to "The American Soldier" as the Person of the Year (not available on line). Time reports on Colgan’s death and the effect that it had on his platoon, and the L.A. Times considers the effect his death had on the family (his parents are pacifists). The Time issue is worth reading in hard copy, and this Times story is well done.

Berlusconi on Gaddafi

Daily Telegraph has a short note on Berlusconi from a few months ago and in the middle you find this: "A spokesman for Mr Berlusconi said the prime minister had been telephoned recently by Col Gaddafi of Libya, who said: ’I will do whatever the Americans want, because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid.’" I know, this sounds too good to be true, so it probably isn’t. Yet, it probably should be; twenty years of sanctions notwithstanding. I’ll let those who drink from deeper wells figure out the difference between final and efficient cause in this case. But what is clear is that they (Iraq and Gaddafi’s decision) are not, indeed they cannot be, disconnected. And see

Charles Krauthammer on the issue of whether this is a triumph of diplomacy or the aftershocks of war.

Powell on Syria

Secretary of State Colin Powell has a few comments on Syria.

Enriched Uranium removed

The WaPo reports on the 37 pounds of enriched uranium found in Bulgaria and removed in a joint American-Ruassian operation. Apparently this will not be the last such effort.

British General’s words

This is a story on a British General who is about to leave Iraq, review how things are going. He has become an optimist in the months he’s been there.

Letter from a dead soldier

This is a heart-breaking story out of Colorado about the last words of a soldier to his wife.

McDean? Maybe Not. . .

Eric Fetterman makes the case for Howard Dean as George McGovern in today’s New York Post. This is a popular "meme" with everybody these days, especially the GOP.

Although it is compelling, the Dean-McGovern comparison breaks down at one important level that has been overlooked. One of the reasons that McGovern became "McGovernized," so to speak, was the long primary season in 1972. McGovern and Humphrey were still slogging it out as late as the California primary in early June. McGovern had to keep tacking to the left all spring to maintain his momentum against a furious assault by Humphrey and Scoop Jackson. It left him little time to try to get back to the center.

Dean, on the other hand, is likely to have the nomination wrapped up by March 1, which gives him lots of time, before lots of voters have paid close attention, to inch back to the center. You can expect him to have lots of help from the media. GOP attempts to highlight his loopy/crazy statements will be dismissed as "old news."

The Deal with Libya

Libya reached a deal over the bombing of Pan AM 103 before the current administration was in office. It is reasonable, therefore, to conclude that neither the policies of the Bush administration nor the war in Iraq explain that change in Libyan behavior. What appears to explain it is the regime of international sanctions that the United States, Great Britain and France put in place on Libya through the UN in the early 1990s. The recent agreement over Libya’s WMD is a continuation of this process. Did the war in Iraq help persuade Libya to give up its weapons? Yes, probably. Was the war in Iraq the sole cause of the Libyan decision? No, probably.

Segregationists Doth Protest Too Much

Surprise, surprise, as Charles Johnson relates in his Wall St. Journal op-ed today, "Essie Mae Williams (nee Thurmond)", it appears that at least one preacher of white supremacy and racial purity didn’t consistently practice the hate that he preached.

Now that the late Strom Thurmond has been outed as the father of an out-of-wedlock daughter to his black maid way back in the day (1925), it remains for the nation to come to terms with an insecure past masked by the security of numbers, at least for those with white skin. Read Johnson’s essay as a springboard to Ralph Ellison’s posthumously published novel, Juneteenth, perhaps the most profound literary presentation of the possibilities and pitfalls of an American solution to its own racial conundrum.

The rule of law and the war on terror

Ruth Wedgewood, a prof at Johns Hopkins, writes a sober op-ed on Padilla case and criticizes the Second Cicuit’s opinion. She asks: "What is the government to do, for example, when it knows of catastrophic threats or dangers to Americans through intelligence sources, yet is unable to prove its case in a criminal trial against those planning such attacks. Also check out Phil Carter’s analysis of this case.

Odds and ends

This London Telegraph article reports on the French reaction to the Lybia agreement. It is clear that the French are isolated, and they know it. Watch for some re-evaluations of their diplomatic status. It is difficult to see a way out for them. After all, they can’t very well admit that the Bush doctrine has had an effect on Lybia, can they? In the meantime, Wesley Clark, continuing his inability to speak the truth [CNN asks: "Did Howard Dean offer you the vice-presidential slot?" Clark: "It depends what you mean by offered."] credits Clinton with the Ghadafy breakthrough. Mark Steyn explains that Europe is barren, both of religion and children, and how the two are connected. And ABC Poll finds Bush beating Dean 55-37%. Happy birthday to me!

Stress and disease

The Washington Post reports that

"Scientists are gaining new insights into the role of temperament in making some people vulnerable to physical disease through studies exploring how stress influences the immune system, weakening disease-fighting cells and creating fertile environments for pathogens." Shy men are at a disadvantage compared to outgoing men, and people with emotional disorders (depression, for example) are less able to fight off disease. This doesn’t seem shocking to me; modern science is proving what my grandmother knew, and we call it progress.

Libya and Iraq

There is no question that the capitulation of Libya is great news for the world (and Bush’s foreign policy), regardless of what talking heads from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace say.
Steven den Beste has a good analysis of the relationship between our effort in Iraq and why Libya has capitulated. Those who argue that this is an example that twenty years of diplomavy and sanctions can work have it wrong, he argues. He elucidates the British role in all this, and he is probably correct. And he notes that more such "diplomatic" victories should come our way as a result of our work in Iraq. And, I can’t help noting with glee that the Weasels (old Europe) are gasping for air, as their authority continues to sink. William Safire agrees.

Old and new Europe

Andrew Sullivan has a comment on Wesley Clark (and Dean) and their understanding of our foreign policy and Europe that is worth quoting in full:

"An interesting position from Wesley Clark:
’And I would say to the Europeans, I pledge to you as the American president that we’ll consult with you first. You get the right of first refusal on the security concerns that we have. We’ll bring you in.’
The right of first refusal. I’m with Clark on consultation and on building the U.S. alliance in Europe. But first refusal? That’s tantamount to Howard Dean’s view that we should seek the "permission" of the United Nations before military action. Permission? But my deeper problem is that Clark doesn’t seem to have moved beyond the Europe of the Cold War. Things were different then. France and Germany had the Soviet Union breathing down their necks. The EU was far smaller than it is today and will be tomorrow. The truth is: Rummy was right. There are now two Europes - the core Europe of France, Germany and the Benelux countries, and the periphery that is growing faster and is far more comfortable with the U.S alliance. Draw a circle: Britain, Poland, Italy, Spain are the big ones. Throw in the Baltics and Turkey and you have a real alliance. So let’s keep our contacts with the core but let’s also reach out to the new Europe. Clark is stuck in the past. Bush has dragged us into the future."

Human exellence

Jonah Goldberg reviews Charles Murray’s Human Accomplishment, which is an accomplishment in itself since the book’s theme is human excellence from 800 B.C. to 1950. Great essay, read the whole thing.   

Ramirez cartoons

Michael Ramirez, the cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times has a great one on Howard Dean, and glance down lower at some on the capture of Saddam.