Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Demo primary as postmodernism

David Brooks’ version of the Democratic primary campaign as a kind of politics of postmodernist heaven. Very good.   

Ohio and what it represents for the Democrats

Cliff Schecter and Ruy Teixeria write a four page article telling their fellow Democrats what they need to do to win in November. It appears in The American Prospect. The thrust of it is this: Demos don’t need the South to get elected, what they need is Ohio. "The non-southern strategy is not about running as if every state were California. It’s more about running as if every state were Ohio -- true to the Democratic principles and priorities cherished by the base but attentive to the concerns of the moderate swing voters who can put you over the top." The whole is very much worth reading.  

Dirty bombs

James Carafano and Jack Spenser write a Heritage Backgrounder on the whole issue of dirty bombs, what they are, what their effects may be, and how to protect against them.

Peter Lawler on Kerry, et al

This is a perfectly reasonable view of Kerry, Dean, and Edwards from Peter Lawler:
"Dean was finished after his astonishingly poor showing in Iowa, where he was somewhat the victim of bad timing. Kerry wins barely there by reinventing himself again as a noble Veteran, with the somewhat mysterious appearance of that attractive and eloquent average guy he pulled out of the river. In retrospect Edwards had to win in Iowa (which he almost did) to have a chance. Naturally Kerry does well in New Hampshire after achieving sainthood in the Boston Globe. Marc Landy, a very astute political science prof, says he now has grudging respect for Kerry--what he mistook for being slow witted and boring turns out to great-souled gravitas in the imaginations of the people. But great-souled men ordinarily don’t resort to botox. The interesting thing about the recent debate was less the sputtering Dean than the implicit concession of Edwards. He made no effort to blow Kerry away--despite the fact that the man from North Carolina is much more glib and intelligent. Edwards opened his campaign for vice president. The trial lawyer took an out-of-court settlement rather than embracing the high risk strategy of going for the jury verdict. Very prudent from his point of view, bad for his party. Edwards would quickly have been the favorite against Bush; Kerry, thank God, won’t wear well at all."

Dean and the Demos

It looks like Howard Dean is both out of money and serious ideas. He has pulled his ads in the states between South Carolina and Arizona, and is going to "make a stand" in Michigan. Judging by the debate last night, in which his performance was extremely boring, and the chaos in his campaign team, as well as his lack of money (where did all that loot go to?), this guy’s finished. His only chance is to show how John Kerry has contradicted himself his whole career, that he is a vapid political opportunist, that he’ll put people to sleep on the campaign trail, that Bush will roll over him in the debates, etc., but Dean didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to do that last night and I don’t think he will be able to in the future. A pathetic conclusion to a very interesting campaign, interesting that is until the votes started coming in. Maybe it was all just media hype. Dean’s finished. I had thought, by the way, that I had seen boring debates before. I was wrong. Last night’s was worse than any and all the others combined. Never mind that Tom Brokaw said more than once "nation of Islam" when he meant to say Islamic nations (only Al Sharpton noticed this), or that Wesley Clark is dull as a well hammered nail. Shameful performance by one and all. David Limbaugh might be right, Kerry will be the nominee by default.

Death of Post-modern theory?

My note on the so-called death of post-modern literary theory has brought in a few responses, both private and public. The following is on the "Comments" section of NLT, I put it out in case you are not in the habit of looking at the Comments section. It’s from Dan Weick, a student (a good student) at a nearby university.

"As one who is suffering through the second of two semesters of shoveling these equine feces while in pursuit of honors in my English degree (although I will be able to regain my equilibrium by writing a senior thesis on either G.M. Hopkins or Flannery O’Conner), I must say that the death of PoMO Theory is news to me. The problem is that these pseudo-intellectuals filter who is admitted to graduate programs in the humanities (and thereby who will teach the humanities in the future), so we can only expect worse from the academy, not better, because the new generation will only be made up of such people as did not realize that they were being taught by lunatics. Through their postitions, they have the power to ensure the indoctrination of all of our professionals, especially our lawyers. For example: in order to get into the "elite" English programs (Yale, Berkley, etc) one is almost required to state a research interest in "Queer Theory" (I will not give the readers of this forum nightmares about the contents of said theory). This means that the English courses that every future lawyer or journalist (at least such as attend universities with the sort of reputations that open the doors to high-level careers) will take will be indoctrination sessions (read the NYT editorial on "Career Girls" from last weekend to see how these people use their classrooms).
Our universities have become fora for the elaborate self-justifications of tremendously disturbed people (quite literally: how else to explain the fact that the most cutting-edge theory is interested in viewing the entire world from the perspective of a psycho-sexual disorder?). O Tempora! O Mores! However, there is hope if one can every so often take Fr. George William Rutler’s advice and quiet down with a good cigar and St. Francis de Sale’s Treatise on the Love of God. I recommend also G.K. Chesterton, Jacques Maritain, C.S. Lewis, and, above all, the Saints (esp: Paul, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Alphonsus di Liguori, Jean Marie Vianney, Robert Bellarmine Therese of the Child Jesus, and Gregory the Great) to counteract the adverse effects of exposure to contemporary academic drivel."

Liberals and freedom of speech

Thomas G. West argues that there is less freedom of speech now than any other time in the history of the Republic. He explains why today’s liberals have rejected the Founder’s understanding of free speech. This has consequences, as we know. Excellent. Should you suspect that West is wrong, take a look at the latest Ninth circuit ruling on what they think is free speech. Amazing. Get your best cofee and read West and brood over the fate of the Republic.   

Literary theory, dead

Finally, someone has noticed that post-modern literary theory is dead or dying. This, from the Christian Science Monitor: "Postmodern literary theory is now transforming itself so rapidly that Marxist, feminist, deconstructionist, and psychoanalytic critics (and others) are flocking back to the drawing board in droves as they search for new approaches to writing and teaching.

Indeed, some academics say that postmodern theory is on the way out altogether and that the heady ideas that once changed the way literature is taught and read will soon be as extinct as the dodo and the buggy whip." All this is laughable, if it weren’t so serious in its consequences. Thousands of students have been mislead into
not reading great works of literature because it was said that it was all meaningless mumbo-jumbo. They missed some good and grand things, beautiful things, human things. Oh, but that’s OK because the purveyors of this nonsense now have tenure and they’ll just go and find some other kind of drivel that will seem oh-so-new and oh-so-sophisticated, in preparation for misleading another legion of undergraduates. We should exile them all to Paris where they can sit around left bank coffee houses pretending to talk with one another in their wild and whirling words which signify nothing, for they are too old to learn. They will never wonder or know or be able to hear words like these (and that is their curse):
"Beauty dead, black Chaos comes again." Or, "Speak of me as I am. Nothing extenuate,/Nor set down aught in malice." Or, "Thy father slew my father; therefore die."


The second BBC official has resigned. I wonder when the reporter (I forget his name), who should have direct responsibility for this mess, will resign. He should.

Spring offensive in Pakistan

Daniel Drezner has a lot of interesting information, with many links, on the coming Spring offensive against al Qaeda in Pakistan. I don’t quite understand why it’s a story. That isn’t explained by anyone, yet. Shouldn’t something this big be kept under wraps?

Clark’s lobbying

The WaPo Wesley Clark has a detailed story on Clark’s lobbying and other work after his military stint. Full of interesting details.

Demo delegate count

ABC news has put together a few paragraphs on who has how many delegates thus far. This is an estimate, adding some super-delegates (ABC is guessing since super-delegates can do whatever they want, and can change their minds many times) to the numbers received by candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire. Dean’s in the lead.

Heidegger-Arendt letters

Adam Kirsch has a short review of the English translation of the Heidegger-Arendt correspondence, 1925-1975.

Campaign Finance Reform

I just ntoiced this short op-ed by David L. Schaeffer on campaign finance reform. It was written just over a week ago, and attached to the Iowa caucuses, but it remains relevant. It refelects on the fact that the law does not limit "in kind" contributions to a candidate, that means that a lot people (students, union members, for example) with a lot of time on their hands (and who can be indirectly reimbursed) are favored, and therefore, so are certain kinds of candidates. Very good.  

Oxley speech

Congressman Michael Oxley spoke at the Center on Tuesday on the resilience of the U.S. Economy. You can listen to the good thirty minute talk by clicking on his name.

Nude Christians?

O.K., it does seem to be the case that the Bible makes many refernces to people unclothed, but does that mean that we have to have a Christian nudist camp? "Although nudity will be mandatory, attending church services will be clothing-optional for residents." I would appreciate if anyone can explain this to me. The best explanation gets a free No Left Turn mug.

No WMD’s found

Here is the transcript (before the questioning) of David Kay’s opening remarks on why no WMD have been found in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee. I listened to some of the conversation and it is perfectly obvious that all this--if no weapons are ever found--will not turn out to be the body blow against Bush that all his enemies want it to be. The intelligence, as Kay made clear, was awful. It was awful here and everywhere. No mischief on the administration’s part, just incompetence on the part of the intelligence agencies here, Britain, France, etc.

New York Times to cover conservatives

Sridhar Pappu writes about The New York Times’ lunacy in assigning a reporter to cover conservatives. It’s a perfect reflection of both the bias and the insanity of the liberal media elite. What are they thinking? What’s there to cover, just read them.

Saddam’s bribes

This is getting some press, finally. There are lists and names on the list, and an Iraqi blogger named Hammorabi has some interesting information. Worth a look. Huge amounts of money, apparently, are involved. Is it possible that the bribes reached Chirac? Here is the Reuters story on the issue, and the UPI’s.

Kerry as the Man?

Much ink is being spilled by all the pundits trying to understand what has happened in the Democratic primary thus far, and trying to guess what is going to happen during the next few weeks. Dean the insurgent has now hired a Gore man to run the rest of his campaign and this means that I may have to take back what I said a few days ago about not counting him out. He has just lowered his chances of win ning any other states. Edwards has to win South Carolina, or he’ll become the Vice Presidential nominee at best, and Clark has revealed himself to be, as George Will calls him, an empty uniform. It turns out that he is a silly and slippery man, a perfect Clinton friend. John Kerry is the man of the hour but, there are problems, and its not only his liberal voting record. Read this terrific charaterization of Kerry by William Saletan (not exactly a Republican!). He says this: "Physically, Kerry’s repertoire is painfully limited. He thrusts his index finger at the audience in an overhead arc again and again, as though launching a projectile. He seems to be trying not to animate his thoughts but to expel them. Above the neck, nothing but his mouth moves. If you showed anyone a video of Kerry with his lips blacked out, they’d never know he was speaking." Noam Scheiber of The New Republic points to one of many of Kerry’s vulnerabilities, how he took both sides of the issue in the first Gulf War. And Terry Garlock, a decotrated Vietnam vet himself is not amused by the perception that Vietnam vets are supporting Kerry. They don’t, and this will become an issue should Kerry become the nomineee.
Mac Owens
, also adecorated Vietnam vet adds to this in a longer and more comprehensive review of Kerry’s so called pride in serving.

Max Boot compares Kerry’s stance(s) on Iraq to Clinton’s stance on the Gulf War when he was a candidate; this is not in Kerry’s interest. Hugh Hewitt isn’t questioning Kerry’s patriotism, but he is questioning his judgment, and that’s fair game.
Michelle Malkin doesn’t hesitate to go after Kerry’s wife, you know, the pickel and ketchup fortune lady who, until recently, had the acid tongue. If Kerry becomes president she’ll make a very interesting first lady to say the least.

Michael Barone is not yet persuaded that Kerry is the man. He is going to be attacked (they have to attack him) by the other candidates starting at tonight’s debate, and some of the attacks will hit their target. Andrew Busch thinks that the Demos will have a hard time making a case that their candidate (if Kerry or Dean) is a moderate, he thinks they are "left and lefter."

Indians’ pitcher

The Cleveland Indians aretrying to build a good team. This may not be a good start.

Killing cats

Boy feeds cat to alligator, now has criminal record, plus community service, etc. Does anyone other than me think this is a bit steep? After all, it wasn’t a dog, it was a cat. Hasn’t anyone read Kipling’s "The cat that walked by himself?" This is more like it, a young dog receives $1,500 Master Card from bank.

Military aid to Poland

President Bush has announced that there will be more military aid to Poland. "In my ’05 budget request, there is a $66 million request to help the Polish military, particularly with airlift capacity, such as C-130 aircraft," Bush said.

Saddam bribed French, et al?

Iraqi authorities will investigate a report by an Iraqi newspaper that there were many people (including French officials) bribed by Saddam’s government. "The list quoted by al-Mada included members of Arab ruling families, religious organisations, politicians and political parties from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Sudan, China, Austria, France and other countries."

BBC in turmoil

The Chairman of the BBC has resigned "in the wake of Lord Hutton’s criticisms of the corporation’s reports.

He quit after Lord Hutton said the suggestion in BBC reports that the government ’sexed up’ its dossier on Iraq’s weapons with unreliable intelligence was ’unfounded’.

Lord Hutton also criticised "defective" BBC editorial processes over defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan’s broadcasts of the claims on the Today programme."

This is, of course, a complete vindication of Tony Blair and his government in this awful case. The BBC should suffer; a man was put into a dishonorable position, killed himself, the government was dislocated, invetigations were afoot, etc. They should break up this government monopoly, and sell the pieces. Andrew Sullivan has more info.

Kerry: The Anti-Vietnam Vet

Mac Owens takes a frank and critical look at John Kerry’s anti-war (Vietnam) position following Kerry’s return from Vietnam.

Owens recapitulates many of the misrepresentations/lies that animated the Anti-Vietnam War crowd. Excellent.

New Hamshire results

The results show (among other things) that Zogby was off by a mile. But, more seriously, I’m surprised by the size of Kerry’s victory (39% to Dean’s 26%, and Clark’s 12% and Edward’s 12%, with Lieberman at 9%). Dean will stay in and still has a chnace as Kerry will now be much more seriously examined by an otherwise obtuse media; it will be discovered that he is a real bore, can’t go anywhere without his hairdryer, only has one gesture and is a monotone candidate. Dean can come back. Edwards should have done better, and the thororughly goofy Clark should have died in NH. Lieberman, I’m sorry to say, is finished. I don’t think this thing is over by a long shot. There will still be four going on to South Carolina and elsewhere, and SC is most dangerous for Edwards: he has to have a win. Also, if Clark comes in fourth in SC, he should be finished. Such are my quick thoughts, off to a Presidency class, and I’ll check in later this afternoon.

New Hampshire voting results at 8 P.M.

With ten percent of the precincts reporting it is Kerry, 38%; Dean, 24%; Edwards 13%; Lieberman 10%; and Clark 10%. Go here for updates every fifteen minutes: Primary Monitor.

Saletan on Dean

William Saletan writes a column for Slate on the Dean campaign that is pregnant with meaning; he explaisn why the campaign is about itself. Not pretty, but true. 

Brooks on Edwards, the happy populist

David Brooks writes a terrific op-ed on John Edwards. Very thoughtful nand, indirectly, explains why he is a much better politician than Kerry, Dean, et al. "John Edwards is one of the happiest populists in U.S. history. He doesn’t rage against the 2 percent who have seized all this power. He sees politics through the prism of his own personal triumph, his rise from being the son of a millworker to becoming a lawyer and presidential candidate."

"The crucial question for Edwards is whether he can move from charisma to character. Bryan Garsten, a Williams College political theorist whom I met at an Edwards speech, points out that Aristotle believed that the greatest speakers don’t just persuade audiences to accept an argument — they get people to trust their judgment. They use emotion and logic to establish their character, which leaves a deeper impression than the momentary thrill of a standing ovation."


New Hamshire, Monday (& prediction)

Zogby tracking claims that Kerry’s lead has widened (he was up by only three yesterday) to a 13 point lead; he is at 37%. Dean has dropped to 24 from 28, and Edwards is still at 12, but now in third place because Clark has dropped a four points to 9. The only real question here are the independent voters; how they distribute themselves at the end of the day will be telling (I don’t trust Zogby’s factoring them in to his numbers). I am betting (that means I don’t know) that Edwards will pick up the most. Prediction (but no bet), just for the heck of it: Kerry 31%, Dean 20%, Edwards 19%, Clark 8%, Lieberman 8%.

Green Berets

Heather Nauert writes a nice, albeit brief, story on some Green Berets. She’s impressed with their brawn and brains. 

Why Bush Will Win

Here’s a nice, short article from an Australian newspaper which explains why Bush will win, and likely win big, in November. The ’War on Terror’ is really all that matters. It’s nice that the economy has turned around, it’s nice that Bush hasn’t had to lie about his interns, but it’s the war. The last few paragraphs show especially why. The parents, siblings, and friends of those who serve and die in Iraq know that this war is necessary and worthwhile.

The Democratic candidates look like pygmies next to Bush, with all due apologies to pygmies.

Colorado students complain of bias

The Denver Post reports on a student movement at the University of Colorado, Boulder, led by the College Republicans, to identify and publish examples of bias among liberal members of the faculty. Here is the web site of the College Republicans. It goes almost without saying that many liberals are up in arms about this. "I’m shocked the students would resort to this," said Barbara Bintliff, a CU law school professor and chairwoman of the Boulder Faculty Assembly. "I’m concerned they may wind up with a blacklist or engage in an attempt to censure certain professors." Interesting how today’s liberal professors are up in arms when students become activists. Back in my days (in the ’60s) all the liberal professors encouraged students to be active (demonstrate, rave and rant, publish lists of professors who were against their political views, etc.) and to pay attention to students’ demands and interests, but now, when students disagree with the establishment liberal views, they are talking about blacklists and such. I remember as a student at San Fernando Valles State College (now Cal State, Northridge) that we had to physically protect professors from the New Left which was starting to devour its own: we were protecting the ordinary liberal profs (almost all of them Democrats, by the way) from physical attacks by the New Left "activists." I find all this amusing.

Home schooled in college

This AP story is on how Home schooled kids are doing in college and how they are adjusting. They are doing well and adjusting with ease. This isn’t rocket science. It’s clear that colleges are interested in such kids because they make very good students as a rule; they are learning how to handle them. Their numbers are still increasing.

New Hampshire, Monday morning

The Zogby tracking poll claims that Kerry is only 3 points up on Dean. Possible. We should also pay attention to the slide of Clark; it hasn’t stopped, and the rise of Edwards and Liberman. Edwards, it seems to me, is still the one to watch; his support is deeper and more long-lasting than that of Clark and more voters say Edwards is their back-up candidate. Andrew Sullivan is begging N.H. voters to give us a shock by voting against Kerry whom he considers a shameless panderer and a bore, one who has "the liberal baggage with none of the liberal fire." Bob Novak thinks that Edwards has a much better chance in NH than polls are giving him credit for; he has "the perfect pitch" for today’s Dempocrats.

This five page U.S. News & World Report on the process of "democratization" in Iraq is worth reading. While not a full review, it gives you an insight into how things are going, and how amazingly complicated all this is. Two quick points: I do hope that this democratization project goes well beyond a simple majority rule question and into what let’s call constitutionalism (for now what I mean that while it should be--in the end--the people ruling, that rule should be mediated by indirection, representation and federalism, with the rule of law dominating and limiting); and the second thing that struck me is how little the U.S. is impressing itself on the Iraqis. Are we being a bit too distant? Some Iraqis seem to think so. Obviously, all this is what is worth watching over the next many months.

Demos in N.H. and elsewhere

Here is the latest Zogby tracking poll, and the ARG tracking poll.
And here is

They are roughly the same. Kerry is ahead, by how much is in dispute (18 points, or 12, or 8), but the spot for second between Dean, Edwards and Clark is quite close in some of them. Dean’s slide seems to have stopped and I sense that he may be moving up a bit; if this true than the real war is for third place. Clark continues to slip. I wouldn’t be shocked if Lieberman ended up doing better than Clark. Edwards seems to be moving up, but slowly. If he c ame in third in NH, that would serve him well (after all, Kerry, Dean and Liberman are from the neighborhood). In the meantime, Kerry is now in second place in South Carolina (just behind Edwards), having jumped over 10 points there since Iowa. And Kerry, who was in fifth the day before Iowa, is now in the lead by 2 points in Arizona; he is 2 points ahead of Clark and 5 points ahead of Dean. The two that are in most danger in NH are Clark and Lieberman, in my opinion. Although I must admit that Kerry is in some danger if he doesn’t live up to expectations. What is that? I don’t know, perhaps the 30% mark; anything below that could seem to hurt him in So. Carolina and beyond.

Bill Clinton’s book

Newsweek reports on Cliton is writing his autobiography on "Clinton time," i.e., late. Still, if he keeps it up, it should appear by mid or late Summer. Just in time to put him into the headlines for weeks (if not months) during and after the Democratic convention. That could cause some mischief for the Democratic nominee, I think.

New citizenship exam

This The Miami Herald story is on the new citizenship exam that is to go into effect two years from now; they will start using it in a limited way by October. "The intent is not to make the civics portion harder, but ’more meaningful,’ said Eduardo Aguirre, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

’With the memorization process, typically what happens to folks is a few weeks later, you forget,’ Aguirre said in a recent telephone interview. ’I want them to know more than just the three colors of the flag. I want them to know, `What does the flag mean?’"

Thomas Sowell

Here is a short interview with Thomas Sowell on everything from rent control to reparations.

Above and beyond the call of duty

The only soldier nominated for the Medal of Honor in the Iraq War thus far is Staff Sgt. Paul Smith. The St. Petersburg Times has on elaborate site dedicated to him, the actions he took, etc. Worth a read. His men were outnumbered, he wouldn’t retreat, and he died.

San Francisco, left of the salad fork

This is a classic (i.e., great!) George Will column. It is on the mayoral election in San Francisco which was won (but not by much) by the Democrat Gavin Newsom (vs a Green, who, Will says is "to the left of the salad fork") and what that might have to do with Howard Dean’s loss in Iowa. Great characterization of the weird-left San Francisco political world.