Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

On anti-Americanism & Le Carre

Geoffrey Wheatcroft begins and ends this op-ed on anti-Americanism with John Le Carre, who has a new novel out. Wheatcroft says (rightly) that Le Carre is a writer "who has enjoyed much success in America despite an aversion to American power dating from his earliest books, who has no very subtle political understanding, but who all too accurately voices the bitterness of national impotence and decline." A nice break from the Emacipation Proclamation.

Dean’s crisis

Both this Boston Globe article and this and Knight-Ridder report are useful in figuring out what happened to Dean. He has retooled his message and his delivery (and what he wears) a couple of times in the last few weeks. A clear sign that he is off balance. His yelling and shouting, not only at Bush and the war, but at the Democratic establishment (which includes candidates against him in the primary) was insufficient. Although it got him noticed, folks seemed to have realized that, somehow, this is not enough to get them to vote for him. Among other things, this indicates that the anti-war sentiment is much more mild than we have been led to think by the manner in which the press reported Dean’s harrangues against the war and Bush. The origin of his tactical mistake was (don’t laugh) getting Al Gore to endorse him. Gore was in the same take no prisoners, Bush is a vile man, etc. mode. Why was this supposed to be helpful? Did someone assume that the last Democratic candidate for president was much belowed by the people? Please. Did Dean’s people think that now that Gore has turned hard-left and anti-war (always anti-Bush, of course), his endorsement would be helpful? Oddly, the period of Dean’s demise will be circumscribed by two book-ends, the Gore endorsement and attending church with Jimmy Carter (another very popular Democrat!) on Sunday. Das ist alles! Gephardt will win in Iowa.

Neo-Cons (Not in charge after all)

"A cabal of neoconservatives has hijacked the Bush administration’s foreign policy and transformed the world’s sole superpower into a unilateral monster. Say what? In truth, stories about the “neocon” ascendancy—and the group’s insidious intent to wage preemptive wars across the globe—have been much exaggerated. And by telling such tall tales, critics have twisted the neocons’ identities and thinking on U.S. foreign policy into an unrecognizable caricature."

Max Boot thoughtfully examines the charges of a neo-con conspiracy in this article from the most recent Foreign Policy .

Darn, I thought the neo-cons were in charge.

Cheney’s Speech from Ashbrook Center on C-SPAN Radio

If you’ve not found it already, the Ashbrook Center’s web site contains an audio archive of over 175 speeches given at the Center during the past 20 years.

C-SPAN Radio will be airing the speech Dick Cheney gave at the Ashbrook Center in 1991 on Saturday, January 17 at 10:10 am ET and again at 10:00 pm ET. For our readers in the Washington area, C-SPAN Radio can be heard at 90.1 FM. It is also available nationwide via satellite radio - XM channel 132; Sirius stream 113. C-SPAN radio is also streamed online 24/7 at

No Left Turns Mug Drawing Winners for December

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

Rob Driscoll

Thomas Henry

Dyan Lattore

Diane Dubay

George Seidel

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 January’s drawing.

California Demos

The California Democratic Party starts its convention today. Things are a bit bleak for these guys. Note that Arnold is on the way toward messing with their minds, his approval arting is 59% while that of the Demo dominated legislature is 36% and Bush has an approval rating of 52% in the state, highest since 9/11, according to the Field Poll. Oh, oh. Jack Pitney says that the Demos haven’t figured out how to deal with this new model of the terminator! Notice how reasonable Gray Davis sounds after defeat (I’m serious); maybe Gore should take some lessons from Davis in civility, odd to say. Even given the weather, I think I’d rather be in Cleveland this weekend than San Jose. It’ll be bleak there.

Tuning out environmntal Gore

Here is a brief report on the speech in New York yesterday by Gore’s on the environment, the one which Gore called Bush a "moral coward." And here is Steve Hayward, who happens to know a lot about environmental issues (he is the author of The Index of Leading Environmetal Indicators), and who loves to beat up on Gore. Perfect combination. Steve says, "Earth to Gore: No one is listening!"  

Piling on O’Neill

The Kinsley column Steve links below is pretty good, but it raises a question that has been bothering me ever since O’Neill hit the morning-show circuit: What exactly does it mean to say that someone is "a blind man in a roomful of deaf people"? This Dan Henninger piece on OpinionJournal gives the answer: "The blind person wouldn’t recognize Mr.O’Neill, and the deaf people wouldn’t listen to him."

I have a strange interest in complicated insults. Like in The Iliad, when Achilles tells all the Greeks that King Agamemnon has the eyes of a dog and the heart of a deer. At first, it makes no sense, then you realize that Agamemnon must be pretty ugly, because it would be better to have the eyes of a deer than a dog, then you realize that Agamemnon must be pretty craven, because it would be better to have the heart of a dog than a deer, and so forth . . . . Anyway, Henninger’s insight about O’Neill’s phrase is just devastating. O’Neill heaped a complicated insult on himself.

Stick a Fork in O’Neill--He’s Done

Michael Kinsley’s column in today’s Washington Post shows why the O’Neill story is over and done with. The title alone conveys the point: "O’Neill’s Vanity Fare."

Clark agreeing with Perle

Drudge has a page or so on Clark that seems to be both extraordinary and damning to any kind of consistency. Should he become the Democratic candidate, these matters will count. Perhaps they will not in the primary, unless, of course, he wins in New Hampshire, then you can count on Dean going after his jugular. Apparently, Clark testified before the House Armed Services Committee on September 26, 2002. Here is a sample, Drudge has more:

"And, I want to underscore that I think the United States should not categorize this action as preemptive. Preemptive and that doctrine has nothing whatsoever to do with this problem. As Richard Perle so eloquently pointed out, this is a problem that’s longstanding. It’s been a decade in the making. It needs to be dealt with and the clock is ticking on this."

"I think there’s no question that, even though we may not have the evidence as Richard [Perle] says, that there have been such contacts [between Iraq and al Qaeda]. It’ s normal. It’s natural. These are a lot of bad actors in the same region together. They are going to bump into each other. They are going to exchange information. They’re going to feel each other out and see whether there are opportunities to cooperate. That’s inevitable in this region, and I think it’s clear that regardless of whether or not such evidence is produced of these connections that Saddam Hussein is a threat."

"I do believe in the sanctity of marriage, I totally do!"

These were the words recently uttered by rapidly fading pop queen Britney Spears in reference to her (very) brief marriage to a childhood friend.

Miss Spears also expressed surprise that the affair had garnered so much press attention. "We landed on Mars that day — why aren’t they talking about that?" she asked.

Calvin Coolidge’s depression?

Jack Beatty writes a review in The Atlantic about a new book on Coolidge by Robert Gilbert. It is, apparently, a study of Coolidge’s depression after the death of his son Calvin due to an infection he got on his toe while playing tennis at the White House. It is probable that Coolidge’s depression (and its effects, e.g., Mrs. Coolidge ran everything, etc.) are overstated (as well as the connection between it and the world-wide depression), yet, it is worth reading. But, to get a fuller impression of Coolidge, you have to read (aside from his terrific Autobiography!), first, Thomas Silver’s Coolidge and the Historians, and then Robert H. Ferrell’s The Presidency of Calvin Coolidge, and then Robert Sobel’s Coolidge: An America Dilemna. Here is a short piece I did on Coolidge a few years ago.

Dennis Miller

Dennis Miller is going to have his own talk show on CNBC. I am sure of two things: One, it will be worth watching, and two, the Liberals--who have been talking about having their own show--are going to be very angry by both what he says and how popular his show will turn out to be. This New York Times article is worth a read, if for no other reason than because it has some great lines from Miller. Note that it is entitled, "The Joke is on Liberals." An example from Miller:

"Did you see the Democratic debate the other night? To me Dennis Kucinich’s politics are more scrambled than Rod Steiger’s dream journal. And Clark? He’s a wizard in many ways, but when I hear him speak, it’s almost like he’s slumming. There’s a mensch discrepancy there. At least John Edwards, who to me is a reasonably shallow guy, at least he can dog-paddle around in that park and not look out of place."

This reminds me of a story Lincoln once told to a man who came to him complaining about the meanness of Secretary of War Stanton (he had apparently lost a political battle to Stanton, a not uncommon thing). Lincoln said that reminded him of a farmer who had a small dog but that dog always won all the dog fights he ever got into, even beating much larger dogs. One day an owner of one of the larger dogs in the county came to the owner and asked, how is it that your small dog whips every dog in the county? "That’s no mystery," said the farmer, "your dog and the other dogs get half through a fight before they get mad. My dog is always mad."

Iraq notes

You might remember that the actor Sean Penn
went to Iraq in December 2002 (before the war) and started pontificating about it all and was (surprise) anti-war. He has gone back and written this about his trip. It is by no means a full vindication of our actions, but he has clearly moved some from his original position. At least he sees the the Iraqis have tasted freedom, and they like it. It appears in the

San Francisco paper.

Slate features a conversation between liberals who are in favor of the war (Hitchens, Berman, Freidman, et al) that is kind of interesting. There will be other installments. Tom Ricks reports in the WaPo about the report by Jefferey Record study done for the Army War College about how the army is overstretched, and how the post-war planning in Iraq was bungled. Debatable, but worth reading.

Dean melting

Clark is surging in New Hampshire, according to the Boston Herald. This may explain why he’s spending more time than he should in New Hampshire (rather than Iowa), Knight-Ridder says that his New Hampshire lead is

And Clark is only three points behind Dean in Arizona, according to the Rocky Mountain Poll. For the life of me, I can’t understand why Dean thinks that a quasi-endorsement from Jimmy Carter (and a church trip this Sunday) will help him. The Gore curse is on. Drudge points out, appropriately enough, that Gore is to speak tomorrow in New York on global warming. It will be one of the coldest days in ten years.

Studying the tough languages

One of the reasons I took a job in U.S. Department of Education in the Reagan administration was because the job I wanted--so I thought--was an important one: it was to direct the international education programs which originally were established in 1958 under the National Defense Education Act. I thought that it was doing something quite important, and I wanted to be part of it. The office encouraged the study of uncommonly taught foreign languages (Hungarian, Russian, Arabic, Pashtu, etc.) and I thought this was a good thing. Studying foreign languages is good for individuals and encouraging the study of such uncommonly taught languages is clearly in the national interest. I used to think that then and I still think it now. As my students know, I continue to encourage the study of any and all languages and some of my worthy students spend their time studying everything from Arabic and Chinese to French. Apparently there is a bit of an issue brewing with regard to these programs which my old boss and predecessor in international education, Kenneth D. Whitehead has outlined on NRO. It is worth reading in full. I think he is right, the Senate should pass the bill (the House has already done so) and include in it the re-constitution of a board of experts who could help set standards and priorities for language study. After all, in this age, is not one of the great needs of the country the study of such difficult languages as Arabic? Everyone admits the need, and we should do it right.

Dean Wins D.C. (non-binding) Primary

This is a report of Howard Dean’s victory in the non-binding D.C. primary. Dean won 43%, Sharpton 34%, Mosley-Braun 12%, and Kucinich 8%. The other Democratic hopefuls sat out the primary.

Couric-O’Neill conversation

Kathryn Lopez at The Corner put the whole Couric-O’Neill conversation out. It is very much worth five minutes of your time. She calls it astounding.

New Jersey’s Fine Print

Here’s a report on what’s in New Jersey’s new stem-cell/cloning law, and the law’s fine print that the media has largely ignored. And here’s a decent analysis of the legislation and why it will lead to cloning, with links to the law’s text. What New Jersey has done really is quite lamentable.

Clark takes lead in Arizona

Wesley Clark , according to a News 4/Arizona Daily Star poll, now lead Dean 39-32%. A month ago, Dean led by two or three points. Clark continues to narrow the lead in New Hampshire. And Dean is, it seems to me, getting progressively more worried. He is now attacking his Demo rivals more explicitly, accpording to the Washington Post. This AP dispatch is even more explicit. I think he is about two weeks behind schedule; his attacks on Bush only can get him so far, and, clearly no farther.


George Soros is making the rounds again. He claims to be tauting his book, but he is spending all his time trying to beat up on Bush, and promoting Dean (or Clark or Kerry). I think Soros is a great political enemy to have: an arrogant left-winger, not very smart, loses his cool easily, etc. But, he’s got a lot of money and he’s using it. Pay attention to him, I think he is going to do a lot more than he has already done. Mischief, thou art afoot. Also in the New York Times

And Still MORE O’Neill Bashing

A review of George Soros’s book in Barron’s last week (not available online) began with a remark that applies to O’Neill as well as Soros. Journalists (and academics) are often taunted with the old saw, "If you’re so smart, how come you’re not rich?"

Well, Soros--and O’Neill--prove that the opposite is possible; you can be rich, but not smart.

More O’Neill Bashing

I wrote this about O’Neill in March, 2001:

"As is now widely known, Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill sent a memo to Bush calling for a presidential commission on global warming, and recommending a number of environmentalist alarmists to be members of the commission. Imagine the outcry from O’Neill if Energy Secretary Spence Abraham sent Bush a memo about tax and fiscal policy, and suggested Bush take advice from Gene Sperling or Robert Kuttner."

What a jerk.

Reagan Got It Right, as usual. . .

"Paul O’Neill is considered a menace by those who want to trim federal spending."

--Human Events, November 22, 1980, commenting on rumors that O’Neill was being considered for a senior post in the incoming Reagan administration.

Reagan read Human Events, and O’Neill stayed in the private sector, where he got CEO’s disease.

O’Neill’s Perfidy

I’m still steaming hot at Paul O’Neill, but while I cool off, everyone must see Scott Johnson’s devastating take-down of O’Neill on our sister blog, Powerline.   

Can we make Iraq more democratic?

George F. Will, writing an article beyond his usual op-eds (it’s about seven pages) in the latest issue of the City Journal, has trouble sleeping because Woodrow Wilson’s spirit still stalks the world. And that troubles his sleep. This article is worth reading slowly even though his style wants you to be quick about it, and you should not let him force you. Aside from the general argument which is very much worth considering, there are some wonderful stories and amusing lines; typical of Will. Here is a quick characterization: In the first part he beats up on Wilsonn in 1919, who insisted on dogmatically and imprudently wanting to "teach" everyone the meaning of self-determination. Second, Will blasts contemporary European elites for believing that "Europe’s nations are menaced by their own sovereignty." The EU elites want to establish a constitution of more than 400 articles (which Will richly mocks) that would put "as many important matters as possible beyond debate. Beyond the reach of majorities. Beyond democracy." Third, he reflects on the American Constitution and why it is good, as well as our political connection to the nation-state, or understanding of self-government (which he attributes to our cultural superiority) Fourth,(because of the the tension within point three) he chastizes both Bush and Blair for misunderstanding the important things (and even acting in a self contradictory way) and therefore saying they can build a nation out of Iraq. I am, no doubt, oversimplifying. Yet, it is something like that. Read the whole thing.

Do I agree with it? Not just so. But I do like its tone, its purpose, and almost everything he says. Yet, I would suggest that he does not quite understand the basis of our self-government and our constitutional habits. The emphasis he places on nation rather than state, and the lack of emphasis on the attempt our state (via the Constitution) to preserve natural rights is what is missing. Our constitutional goals are what’s important, and that is connected to our moral purpose, and our great virtue. What that has to do with Iraq is not irrelevant, but not the central point. Let’s try to establish something like a constitutional (i.e., limited) state there based on something that approximates the rule of law, for the purpose of something like self government, through the Iraqis consent. Tough work, that, and odds are that it will fail. Yet, some of it may take, and prudence dictates that we try it not only for the sake of the Iraqis, but because it will serve both some of our interests and not only move them toward better purposes. Read the Will piece with four good cups of Turkish coffee.    

Clark still rising

Zogby tracking Poll has Dean ahead by three points. Dean has gone up one in the last few days. Zogby has undecideds at 14%. I think its higher. Rassmussen reports that Clark has gained in their national poll. Dean is at 21%, the lowest point for him, while Clark has moved up to 17%. Edwards has moved into third with 9%. Also note this report claiming that the Clintons are saying to friends that this is the key moment for the Clark campaign. Bill is making phone calls on his behalf, and is raising money.

Washington’s beer

NPR reports that a brewer in Philadelphia makes the beer that both Washington and Jefferson liked. (I always thought Jefferson a wine man.) Even the recipe is given.

Food and racism

A policeman in London fell ill after eating some Sikh food provided by some temples. An officer explained this to his colleagues about to patrol the Sikh area in London, he is alleged to have said: "Their hygiene standards are not good as ours." Scotland Yard is investigating. It may be racism.

Our non-proliferation policy

Bill Safire considers why our all-out pre-emptive policy against terror (include Iraq in that) seems to be working. 

The Conspiracy of the Bushes

I guess Kevin Phillips needs to sell more books. He is peddling a new book that tries to prove that the Bush family for at least three generations have been in bed with various Arab tyrants. I guess you can always find a publisher for anything (when was the last time you read a good book published by Viking?), but why would the Los Angeles Times publish this poop? Never mind, I just figured it out.

Reserve and Guard units at a disadvantage in Iraq

The Houston Chronicle says that our reservists in Iraq are getting the short of the stick: "National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers are fighting alongside active-duty troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, but with Vietnam-era rifles, fewer bullet-proof vests, outdated radios and Humvees that lack armor plating, some officials said." There is more.

"Logistical ballet" in Iraq

Eric Schmitt goes over the great logistical move in and out of Iraq: "More than 240,000 soldiers and marines are to move into and out of Iraq from now to May, testing the military’s ability to handle a major logistical feat while battling the Iraqi insurgency. From remote camps in northern Iraq to the port here, this swapping of forces amounts to the United States military’s largest troop rotation since World War II."

Phil Carter has some good thoughts on the subject (his thoughts are longer than the NY Times article), with some good links. He notices, for example, that at the height of the move we may have 200,000 troops in Iraq at one time, because of overlap, rather than the 125,000 we have now. This may give us some opportunities in the Spring, but it is also full of dangers.   

Source of news, and bias

This Pew poll found that more and more people, especially the young, are turning away from television and newspapers and toward the internet for their news. One fifth of younger people consider the internet their best source of news. "The number of people who say the Internet is a top source of campaign news was 13 percent, double the number who said that at the same stage of the 2000 campaign." Also, "Nightly network news was named as a regular source of campaign news by 35 percent, down from 45 percent four years ago, and newspapers by 31 percent, down from 40 percent." And, "The public is increasingly concerned about bias in campaign coverage by the media generally. About the same number, 39 percent, say there is bias in campaign coverage as the number that says there is no bias, 38 percent. The number who feel coverage is biased has grown steadily since 1988, when 62 percent said coverage was not biased." This can’t be good news (and there is more in the AP story) to the establishment media.

The Black and Brown debate

I did not see the Demos "Black and Brown" debate last night (I am still working on this Guelzo review!), but I did see snippets of it on the news this morning. And from what I saw, I am pretty sure Andrew Sullivan’s opinion is worthy, and I quote it in full:

"I wonder what Mickey Kaus thought of the Democratic Iowa "Black and Brown" debate - in itself an example of the kind of special interest group pandering that has now returned to dominate the Democratic Party. There wasn’t a nano-second in which any candidate said anything to suggest that minorities can do anything to benefit themselves without more government help, more money and more white condescension. The crowd lapped it up. Joe Lieberman couldn’t even bring himself to oppose reparations. Not affirmative action. Reparations! You’ve come a long way, Joe. Long gone is the Clintonian art of giving a damn about race without resorting to paleo notions that all whites are at fault and all blacks are victims. In that kind of context, it’s no accident that Al Sharpton becomes the moral arbiter. His use of the race-card against Dean had me bolt upright, and was an indication of what could happen if Dean gets the nomination. There’s no guarantee that Sharpton will support the nominee, or won’t demand embarrassing, election-losing concessions from the platform if he does. He’ll also get a big speaking slot at the convention - or use the negotiations as more street theater. It truly is back to 1988 - as farce. But unlike 1988, the Democratic nominee will not be able to shun Sharpton. The Dems are now dependent on massive black support just to be competitive in many states - which gives Sharpton more leverage than even Jesse Jackson once had. One thing we have learned from this campaign is that the Clinton policy make-over of the Democrats now has only one standard-bearer: his wife. For the rest, it’s that ’70s Show, with post-industrial populism thrown in."

What Would Friedrich Do?

At last, here’s an editorial that addresses a question that’s been haunting all of us: What would F.A. von Hayek think about gay marriage?

General Ricardo Sanchez, American

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez is the subject of this New York Times piece. He is a very interesting guy, starting at the bottom--worked as a dry cleaners delivery boy at age six in Rio Grande City, Texas, where his grandfather first came across in the early 1900’s--and now is into his eighth month of commanding the 125,000 American troops in Iraq, as John F. Burns writes, "the most coveted and challenging field command for any American officer since the Vietnam War."

Sanchez states: "They don’t want us here, but they don’t want us to leave, either. That’s our dilemma; that’s the problem we have to solve." He further says this: "It’s about gaining and retaining the consent of the people." And then, "That’s what we’re here for, fighting a war, and building a nation." Then he makes sure that everyone understands what is needed for that: "I really believe that the only way we are going to lose here, is if we walk away from it like we did in Vietnam. If the political will fails, and the support of the American public fails, that’s the only way we can lose."

There’s more: "I guess I never realized then that I was that poor. Pretty well everybody else in the Hispanic community was on welfare, too. We just thought we were fortunate because we were in America." I guess that it is possible that some Liberal will soon call Sanchez a "house Mexican." (I hope not). This reminds me that in all the loud conversation about illegal immigration (which I oppose, of course) and the economics of the labor market, etc., perhaps more emphasis should be placed on helping those who are here become citizens. I don’t mean getting the necessary papers, I mean making citizens. Having a clear understanding of both the principles that bind us together and the practical goal of self-government that is deduced there from and which (as a friend once said) "creates the moral conditions of citizenship." Sanchez’s virtuous exertions prove that human beings who appreciate human excellence can become American citizens in this novus ordo seclorum. That is the basis of our prosperity and might and our virtue. Now let’s see if Sanchez can get the Iraqis to consent to that proposition.

Death of a soldier

Aaron A. Weaver died when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed last week in Iraq. He was, apparently, an exceptional soldier, having won the Bronze star for "extreme courage" in Mogadishu. He also had cancer, but insisted on being in Iraq. A sad tale and a good memory. I saw his mother interviewed on TV a few days ago and, through a river of tears, she asserted that her son would have wanted her to say upon his death that he did his duty for the country he loved. I was deeply moved. Let us hope that his wife and young children will summon up remembrance of good things past, and be able to, over time, talk of Aaron’s constancy and great heart and extreme courage, with true love. RIP.


This Iowa Poll shows Dean leading Gephardt by five points (23 to 18), with Kerry at 15%. Real Clear Politics has a nice chart, state by state, of not only the latest polls, but some going back to early November. If you scroll down please note the following. In the states where Dean is ahead (except Delaware-Lieberman, and Missouri-Gephardt, Connecticut-Lieberman) he is closely followed by Clark. (Ignore those states, e.g., North Carolina, Texas, where there are no recent polls reported.) Edwards seems to have moved up a few notches in Iowa and it is being reported by Adam Nagourney of the NYTimes that Edwards is taking points away from Gephardt. That seems to be the case. But also note that a Reuters/Zogby poll is reporting that Dean has only a two point lead over Gephardt, with only 14% undecided. The largest paper in endorses Edwards. Dan Balz’s account of Iowa in the WaPo. Dvaid Broder praises Iowans and the process there: uncynical and straightforward folks.