President Bush has appointed Diana Schaub & Peter Lawler to the Council on Bioethics, chaired by Leon Kass. Good appointments! Diana is a regular Summer instructor at the Ashbrook Institute for Social Studies teachers (she is co-teaching one with Lucas Morel this Summer), and Peter has written for these pages. You might also want to see his book, Alians in America: The Strange Truth About Our Souls. Congratulations to both of them, and to the President.
Lucas Morel’s op-ed in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times reflects on the work of Ralph Ellison. It is a fine piece. Monday marks the 90th anniversary of Ellison’s birth. Invisible Man, according to Lucas,
"made ’invisibility’ a metaphor for our inability to see each other’s full humanity. Published in 1952, the novel chronicles a black man’s search for identity in an America that refuses to ’see’ him. As Americans struggle today to become more colorblind in their public and private interactions, Ellison’s writings offer much to improve our social and political vision."
"Ellison, who died in 1994, observed that the ’high visibility’ of blacks in a predominantly white America made their individuality ’un-visible’ to most whites. ’If the white society has tried to do anything to us,’ he remarked, ’it has tried to keep us from being individuals.’ But though the nation’s founders committed the ’sin of American racial pride,’ they also committed the ideal of human equality to paper. In so doing, Ellison believed they gave blacks and other minorities the firmest ground for the extension of America’s promise to all of its citizens."
Read the whole thing, or even better, get Lucas’ new book (officially published on March 1st by the University Press of Kentucky) called Ralph Ellison and the Raft of Hope: A Political Companion to Invisible Man. It includes essays by Lucas, James Seaton, Danielle Allen, Thomas Engeman, John F. Callahan, and others. You can order it by clicking here.
Schroeders Social Democrats take a big hit in elections in Hamburg. Leider.
Daniel J. Boorstin has passed away. Although his book "The Image" (1962) was mandatory reading in many of my college courses (you know, the latest "in" sort of thing according to the with-it faculty; he coined the term "pseudo event") I stopped reading him after a while. There was something soft in his attempts to understand America. Yet, he was disliked by some nasty people, so I suppose he couldnt have been all that bad. The WaPo eulogy states: "He had been criticized for oversimplification and overlooking the more complicated moments of American history, from McCarthyism to Vietnam, and for overlooking the more complicated movements of American scholarship, from multiculturalism to feminist studies." RIP
Oh, this is choice! French theaters dont want to show "The Passion" for fear that it will spark a new outbreak of anti-Semitism.
Jack Hitt on dead (or dying) languages and whether they ought to be saved. Such pieces are always interesting to me, but I don’t think we ought to be thinking about languages the way we think about museums. If they’re not alive, be off with them! Besides, if there is anything in a dying language worth the saving, another will pick it up. "Remuneration? O thats the Latin word for three farthings."
Susan Sachs of the NY Times writes on this theme: "In its final years in power, Saddam Husseins government systematically extracted billions of dollars in kickbacks from companies doing business with Iraq, funneling most of the illicit funds through a network of foreign bank accounts in violation of United Nations sanctions.
Millions of Iraqis were struggling to survive on rations of food and medicine. Yet the governments hidden slush funds were being fed by suppliers and oil traders from around the world who sometimes lugged suitcases full of cash to ministry offices, said Iraqi officials who supervised the skimming operation."
Michael Barone also has an opinion on the John Lewis Gaddis thesis we have brought up before. And, he doesnt think the Democrats, John Kerry included, could so easily change American foreign policy even if they wanted to. He cites to advantage both John Quincy Adams and FDR.
George Will has some opinions about the primary election (for the GOP US Senate seat) in California. Perhaps he is being optimistic, but he sees a way Bush cpould carryb the state if Rosario Marin wins th primary. Pay attention to the numbers Will cites.
Among many of Stalins gift to Europe are these Kamchatka or Red King Crabs. "Millions of giant Pacific crabs, whose ancestors were brought to Europe by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s, are marching south along Norways coast, devouring everything in their path.
The monster crabs, which can weigh up to 25lb and have a claw-span of more than three feet, are proving so resilient that scientists fear they could end up as far south as Gibraltar." (via NRO)
Robert Alt is on his way to Iraq. He flies this morning to Amman, Jordan. It will take him almost exactly twenty-four hours to get there. He is well prepared. He has all the technical equipment he needs, and
he has some good contacts and is following a plan. Yet, like all good plans, they will change as soon as his boots hit the ground. Robert is just the man to know what to do when those plans need to be changed. He is smart and resourceful and full of spit and vinegar. And he is a keen observer of human beings and their affairs. And he is a writer. He will write for NLT with regularity, even if he has to do the writing from the back of a camel. (Darn it, we forgot to give him camel-riding lessons!). Look for his insights starting soon after he arrives. Enjoy it, learn from it, and wish him well. Godspeed, Robert.
Charles Krauthammer on the gay marriage and Constitutional Amendment issue. Very good. A flavor: "But because of the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution (which makes every state accept "the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State"), gay marriage can be imposed on the entire country by a bare majority of the state supreme court of but one state. This in a country where about 60 percent of the citizenry opposes gay marriage.
President Bush supports a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. I am troubled by any constitutional amendment that is not about democratic governance. But the activists have forced the issue. What is the alternative to nationalized gay marriage imposed by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts?
The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act? Nonsense. It pretends to allow the states to reject marriage licenses issued in other states. But there is not a chance in hell that the Supreme Court will uphold it."
This interesting story about Victor Davis Hanson appeared in the LA Times this week. Apparently he will receive a $500,000 advance from Random House for his forthcoming book on the Peloponnesian War, which is unprecedented for a work of ancient history.
For those of you who may have wanted to listen to Allen Guelzos talk live, I regret that techincal difficulties are preventing us from bringing it to you. But we will have it on the site by Monday, you can hear it then. Thanks.
Canada’s "army, navy and air force are facing a funding shortfall of up to half a billion dollars, defence sources told the National Post, and the military is recommending drastic measures to make up the difference, including closing some of the largest bases in the country."
This article in Foreign Affairs by Andrei Shleifer and Daniel Treisman is perhaps a bit too optimistic about the advancements in Russia since the fall of Communism, yet it is worth a read. Hope theyre right.
Tom West & Ken Masugi disagree on the meaning on the Locke v. Davey decision. West says that it is not another "blow to religious liberty." West: "Although Thomas and Scalia are the best justices on the Court, they got this one wrong. There is no violation of the right of free exercise of religion if a state refuses to pay for "devotional" studies. No one’s right to worship or practice his religion is being punished or penalized here." Also see Lucas Morel on the question.
Yolanda Young writes a short but poignant note reminding us that it is the content of our character that counts and not the color of our skin. She starts: "Segregation no longer keeps blacks out of good schools, wealthy communities or corporate America. Blacks are ensconced in the highest echelons of government, business and popular culture. But has cashing our civil rights check left us bankrupt in many ways?"
President Bush kicked off his re-election campaign last Monday. Michael Barone sums up the major themes with which Bush aims to frame the choice in the election.
Heres how Bush put it on Monday: "Come November, the voters are going to have a very clear choice. Its a choice between keeping the tax relief that is moving the economy forward, or putting the burden of higher taxes back on the American people. It is a choice between an America that leads the world with strength and confidence, or an America that is uncertain in the face of danger. The American people will decide between two visions of government: a government that encourages ownership and opportunity and responsibility, or a government that takes your money and makes your choices."
Rosie ODonnell marries her girlfriend in San Francisco, then bashes Bush.
Is it possible that George W. Bush is doing to the Islamic terrorists what Ronald Reagan did to the USSR? Soviet adventurism in the 1970’s can be attributed to Soviet perceptions of U.S. weaknesses. They were wrong. Remember Grenada? This small oparation had an effect on the Brezhnev Doctrine. The roll-back started, and the Soviet economy was targeted: Reagan’s Grand Strategy had a serious economic component. Owens argues that the Islamic terrorists may have made the same mistake the Sovs did: They thought the "correlation of forces" was on their side in the 1990’s; we backed away at each of their thrusts, from Somalia to the first World Trade Center bombing, etc. But 9/11, instead of driving us out of the region, galvanized us, and not only militarily. No great uprisings on the streets of Arab countries; Pakistan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, et al, have made many diplomatic concessions.
Mackubin T. Owens argues that it is hard not to be optimistic. Get a good cup of coffee and let him walk you through it.
Reuters reports on some comments by the "ever cautious" John Kerry on his way to the debate in California. Here is what he said about the movie "The Passion":
"’I don’t know,’ he said when asked if he would see the Mel Gibson film about the last days of Jesus’ life and its particularly harrowing focus on his crucifixion.
Kerry, a Catholic, said he was worried about the movie’s potential anti-Semitism. Some critics have complained that Gibson portrays Jews as responsible for Jesus’ death.
’I am concerned,’ he told reporters. ’I don’t know if it’s there or not but there’s a lot of it around now. I think we have to be careful.’"
USA Today runs a good article on John Edwards as campaigner. James Carville praises him for being a better stump speaker than any Democrat in memory, including Clinton. While John Kerry is in the lead in Georgia, Edwards is closing fast. And Kerry has only a seven point lead in Maryland. The Democratic candidates will debate tonight.
Terry Eastland writes in this week’s ’Weekly Standard’ an article entitled ’Bush’s Gospel.’ The article argues that George W. Bush’s social, domestic, economic, and foreign policies are strongly guided by one simple principle: Love Thy Neighbor. Eastland argues that the compassinate trumps the conservative in Bush and his Presidency.
Here’s an extended excerpt, Eastland writes: "Indeed, central to George W. Bush’s motivation as president is the ethic of "neighbor-love," as it is called in Christian circles. We’re not accustomed to a theological reading of a presidency. Yet it’s evident, as Bill Keller of the New York Times wrote last year, that Bush’s faith is "the animating force of his presidency." What hasn’t been recognized is that neighbor-love in particular is what moves Bush and has helped shape his presidency. His faith teaches him to "love thy neighbor as thyself," and he approaches his job with that imperative in mind. ...Three aspects of Bush’s faith stand out. One is his belief that God is in providential control over all that happens, including in his own life. Bush, who describes himself as a "lowly sinner," has told friends and associates that but for God’s intervention he would now be in some bar in Texas, not the Oval Office. A second is his belief that, whatever happens in God’s providence, he is to accept and carry out each task set before him. Not incidentally, the title of Bush’s campaign biography, "A Charge to Keep," was drawn from "A Charge to Keep I Have," the Charles Wesley hymn, which speaks of doing "my Master’s will" and fulfilling "my calling." After the attacks of September 11, Bush believed that the charge of defending freedom had fallen providentially to him, as commander in chief of the United States, and this remains for Bush his highest priority. Yet even this task he sees in terms of a third aspect of his faith: neighbor-love. For Bush, "love your neighbor"--the second great commandment for Christians--is an injunction to be followed in every human task, however big or small it may be. In this understanding, Bush is hardly exceptional, for loving your neighbor is the calling of every Christian. ... In his 2003 State of the Union Address, Bush said, "The qualities of courage and compassion that we strive for in America also determine our conduct abroad. . . . Our founders dedicated this country to the cause of human dignity, the rights of every person, and the possibilities of every life. This conviction leads us into the world to help the afflicted and defend the peace, and confound the designs of evil men." ...Of course, the universe of evil men includes terrorists, who have designs upon innocent people beyond the more than 3,000 killed by the attacks of September 11. They have continued to murder innocent people, a point Bush made last year in his speech at Whitehall when he cited the post-9/11 terrorist attacks in Bali, Jakarta, Casablanca, Bombay, Mombassa, Najaf, Jerusalem, Riyadh, Baghdad, and Istanbul. And, by every reckoning, the terrorists intend to kill more innocents. As Bush sees it, both justice, because what the terrorists do is evil, and compassion, because their evil is committed against innocent people, demand a military response."
Eastland argues that it is not only in big policy questions that ’Love Thy Neighbor’ guides Bush but he is effecting changes in all agencies and departments of the Federal Government in light of that principle. Quite an amazing article.
A crank might say that the original neo-con is not Leo Strauss but Jesus of Nazareth.
Professor Allen C. Guelzo will be speaking at the Ashbrook Center on Friday at 3 p.m. on his new book "Lincoln’s Emacipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America." You can listen to it live by clicking here.
In his Feb. 26 op-ed, "What Goes Around...", New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman asks a Bangalore customer call center founder, "How can it be good for America to have all these Indians doing our white-collar jobs?"
"Well," he answered patiently, "look around this office." All the computers are from Compaq. The basic software is from Microsoft. The phones are from Lucent. The air-conditioning is by Carrier, and even the bottled water is by Coke, because when it comes to drinking water in India, people want a trusted brand. On top of all this, says Mr. Nagarajan, 90 percent of the shares in 24/7 are owned by U.S. investors. This explains why, although the U.S. has lost some service jobs to India, total exports from U.S. companies to India have grown from $2.5 billion in 1990 to $4.1 billion in 2002. What goes around comes around, and also benefits Americans.
Friedman goes on to show how new Indian projects and companies are thriving by "outsourcing" jobs to the U.S. Imagine that! Friedman concludes:
Which is why we must design the right public policies to keep America competitive in an increasingly networked world, where every company-- Indian or American--will seek to assemble the best skills from around the globe.
No, I dont mean Mel Gibsons The Passion of Christ.
While talk radio natters on about the possible anti-semitism of Gibsons movie, Joel Rosenberg reports on this particlarly vile movie entitled Al-Shatat, The Diaspora. This 30 part mini-series was produced by Syrian TV and aired in the middle-east last year during Ramadam. The title of Rosenbergs article is A Vicious, Anti-Semitic Film.
One excerpt from the article: In Episode Six of the Syrian film, a group of rabbis and other Jews in a Romanian ghetto gather to torture and kill a man found guilty of marrying a non-Jewish woman. As the man screams in agony, the head rabbi instructs his fellow Jews: "You hold his nose shut. You, open his mouth with tongs. You pour lead into his mouth. You cut off his ears. You stab his body with a knife before the lead kills him. This is a sacred Talmudic court; if any of you fails in his mission I will try you just like this criminal." The men follow the Rabbis orders.
Rosenberg concludes his article with this observation: Those Jewish leaders attacking The Passion are thus making a serious strategic error. Theyre crying wolf, and hurting their own cause by pointing to anti-Semitism where it doesnt exist and thus distracting attention from real and rising evils where they do. Moreover, by attacking a film in which a Jewish person is portrayed as the Savior of all mankind, theyre needlessly insulting and alienating millions of Bible-believing Christians, the very people most supportive of the right of all Jews — and the Jewish state of Israel — to exist in peace and security.
Like the earlier post on George Wills article, Rosenberg notes especially the rise of anti-jewish sentiment and activities in Europe. One observer believes that anti-semitism is as rampant in Europe today as it was in Germany in the 1930s.
George Will reflects on the anti-Semitism of the Left. "It used to be said that anti-Catholicism was the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals. Today anti-Semitism is the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals."
Andrew Busch explains why Nader is likely to fizzle by November.
James Taranto has some good observations about the Liberals’ defense of states rights regarding Bush’s proposal of a Constitutional Amendment on marriage: They are talking like Dixiecrats of yore. Also note the few good paragraphs by Ken Masugi on why the President’s proposed Amendment should not be supported.
Russell Hittinger and Elizabeth Lev on Mel Gibsons The Passion. Last paragraph: "Gibson says that he set out to transcend language with the message through an image. Chances are that even the film industry, skeptical and skittish about the project, will have to recognize his artistic triumph. How its millions of viewers will reckon with the movie is another story. We think that it will induce humility rather than triumphalism. The film is so enthralling that perhaps some viewers will have to remind themselves that it is just a movie and not a substitute for the New Testament, much less for sacramental liturgies or the stations of the cross familiar to so many Christians during Lent. If, having seen and endured the film, Christians are able in a fresh way to wonder at the vault of the Sistine Chapel, if they can humbly return to their churches to participate in the spoken and sacramentally enacted Word, then Gibson’s Passion will have proven to be something even better than what it certainly is—the best movie ever made about Jesus Christ."
John Hulsman has a few short thoughts for those Europeans that insist on seeing a battle between Powell and Rumsfeld as a battle between good and evil, between multilateralists and unilateralists. He maintains that it is much more complex than than, and that America "has not been in this much ideological ferment regarding foerign affairs since the Truman era."
In a 7-2 decision,
Locke v. Davey, the Supreme Court ruled that Washington State could deny a college student a Promise Scholarship because he chose to major in pastoral ministries, which the state classifies as a "devotional theology degree" and hence contravenes the State Constitution’s bar against "public money" used for "the support of any religious establishment." Scalia and Thomas wrote the only dissents to Rehnquist’s majority opinion.
Rehnquist argued that the state’s program does not violate the 1st Amendment’s "free exercise of religion" clause because the "State’s interest in not funding the pursuit of devotional degrees is substantial, and the exclusion of such funding places a relatively minor burden on Promise Scholars." Here is the Court’s conclusion:
[T]he entirety of the Promise Scholarship Program goes a long way toward including religion in its benefits, since it permits students to attend pervasively religious schools so long as they are accredited, and students are still eligible to take devotional theology courses under the program’s current guidelines. Nothing in the Washington Constitution’s history or text or in the program’s operation suggests animus towards religion. Given the historic and substantial state interest at issue, it cannot be concluded that the denial of funding for vocational religious instruction alone is inherently constitutionally suspect. Without a presumption of unconstitutionality, Davey’s claim must fail.
Scalia’s dissent, joined by Thomas, drew upon the precedents of Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. Hialeah (1993) and Everson v. Board of Ed. of Ewing (1947). He argued that
When the State makes a public benefit generally available, that benefit becomes part of the baseline against which burdens on religion are measured; and when the State withholds that benefit from some individuals solely on the basis of religion, it violates the Free Exercise Clause no less than if it had imposed a special tax.
R.W. Apple’s argument that Edwards has a chance to beat Kerry in Ohio: job losses due to NAFTA. I think he is (for a change) right.
Man crossing Ukraine-Hungary border caught with a pound of Uranium. He said someone asked him to deliver it to a dentists office. This explains a lot about dentists which I always suspected.
The head of the National Education Association (NEA) has called for U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige to resign. Yesterday at a private meeting with Governors, Paige called the NEA, a "terrorist organization." Typical. "We demand this and we demand that." I think they will be surprised that Paige is a tough guy. His poor choice of words is a reflection of the fact that he is tired of being pushed around by the most powerful lobbying group in Washington.
Tom Regan at The Christian Science Monitor has a good round-up of the stories claiming that Osama bin Laden is surrounded.
Here is President Bush’s statement on the need for a constitutional amendment protecting marriage.
Saying that he believes there needs to be clarity on the issue of marriage, President Bush has endorsed a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Bush says this is necessary because of the recent actions of the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court and the Mayor in San Francisco.
Here’s one news report and heres
Ralph Nader’s utterly predictable announcement that he will indeed run for president again as in independent candidate summons forth a certain amount of schadenfreude among Republicans, as well it should. After all, it was liberal Democrats, along with a fawning and credulous media, that blew up Nader’s fame beyond all legitimate proportion back in the 1960s and 1970s.
Back in those heady days of regnant liberalism, the surest way for an ambitious chairman of the House Subcommittee on Lawn Chair Design was to invite Mr. Nader to a hearing to excoriate the flimsiness of chaise lounges beneath the klieg lights of the TV cameras, with lawsuit to follow. It is therefore only cosmic justice—usually a liberal wisp—that Nader should have cost the Democrats a national election as he arguably did in 2000. Democrats have only themselves to blame for the Nader hydra.
Yet at a further remove there is something more than a little pathetic about Nader’s latest run, namely, the reflection on how far he has fallen. At one point in the late 1960s and 1970s Nader’s national popularity was such that he routinely ranked high in opinion polls as a favorite choice for president. Had he run for office as a Democratic candidate in the 1970s, he might have gone far. Indeed, such was Nader’s reputation that in 1976 President-elect Jimmy Carter invited him to Plains, Georgia for several hours of talks about government reform. It is doubtful that John Kerry would today invite Nader to drop by for any other purpose than fitting him out with a pair of cement shoes.
Kerry needn’t worry much. It is doubtful Nader will get even 1 percent of the vote this year (he got about 3 percent in 2000), and most of those will be votes that would otherwise be cast as write-ins for Noam Chomsky.
The appeal of Nader was always that he somehow stood above or beyond politics, that he was somehow a better or more virtuous person than the power- and attention-grubbing partisan politicians that fill up the public stage. But increasingly Nader looks like the worst of a partisan politician—partisan for only himself—without the mitigating virtue of partisan accountability. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (a possible Kerry running mate) rightly called Nader’s new run “an act of total vanity and ego satisfaction.”
Here the words of Henry Adams come to mind: “The effect of power and publicity on all men is the aggravation of self; a sort of tumor that ends by killing the victim’s sympathies; a diseased appetite, like a passion for drink or perverted tastes; one can scarcely use expressions too strong to describe the violence of egotism it stimulates.”
In other words, Nader has succumbed to the personal corruption of his own massive publicity and power in much the same was as an ordinary politician. The lesson is that you don’t have to be elected to anything to succumb to the political disease—an “activist” can be afflicted just as severely.
Samuel P. Huntington, in this long article for Foreign Policy, (an excerpt from his new book) argues this:
"The persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages. Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans and other Latinos have not assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture, forming instead their own political and linguistic enclaves—from Los Angeles to Miami—and rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream. The United States ignores this challenge at its peril."
And here is David Brooks’ comments on Huntington’s theme, in today’s New York Times. Brooks thinks that our integration machinery is broken. Read both.
The AP reports that fifty combat ready troops are on their way to Haiti to secure our embassy.
Steve Coll writes the second article for the Washington Post on the hunt for bin Laden from 1999 to 2001. (I mentioned the first yesterday.) This is a long and useful article that focuses on our relationship with the guerrilla commender Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance. Bin Laden had him killed on September 9, 2001.
Be sure to see Joshua Muravchik in todays Washington Post (registration required, alas), on John Kerrys deep dovishness. For a while there, when Gov. Dean was leading, it looked like Democrats were going to nominate Goerge McGovern all over again. Instead, it looks like they are going to nominate. . . George McGovern all over again. They seem to have an endless supply of these guys.
The new Iraqi officer corps is being re-crafted and trained by us and the Brits in Jordan. Slow, not without difficulties, but it seems to be getting done and the Iraqis seem determined to do it.
The Washington Times reports that the search for Bin Laden is intensifying.
The Pentagon reports that they are moving elements of Task Force 121, a supersecret commando unit, from Iraq to the Afghanistan theater to step up the hunt for Osama bin Laden. These are the same soldiers who captured Saddam.
Some guys have all the fun.
While those pursuing the Democratic Presidential nomination have sought the anti-war vote, criticized Bush for duplicity on WMD, criticized Bush for alienating the French, the U.N. and followers of Che Guevera, and received a flood of free publicity from the mainstream national media, there does seem to be at least one in the Democratic Party who disagrees.
None other than Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle disagrees. The Rapid City Journal reports that Daschle thinks the war is going well and that he is not concerned that we havent found WMD yet. "Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., on Thursday praised the Bush administrations war and nation-building work in Iraq and said he has no serious concerns about the lack of weapons of mass destruction. Daschle told state chamber of commerce representatives meeting in the South Dakota capital that he is satisfied with the way things are going in Iraq. I give the effort overall real credit, Daschle said. It is a good thing Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. It is a good thing we are democratizing the country. He said he is not upset about the debate over pre-war intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, an issue that has dogged President Bush as Democratic presidential contenders have slogged through the primary season."
Heres the full report from the Rapid City Journal .
I supposed I dont have to add that Daschle is up for re-election this year. He faces a tough battle against former U.S. Representative John Thune.
If a man is wise one year in six, does that make him wise? Thanks to PowerLineBlog.
Some amusing photos of Rumsfeld. A Newark, Ohio, high school discovers that students eat what they want. Dead cows left at side of road get tickets for being "unattended vehicles". A five hundred pound opera singer, a soprano, gored a tiny tenor after he took last meatball off plate. Woman washes her rooster in a dog wash. Hundreds of smuggled tarantulas are repatriated to Mexico by the Swiss. British doctors can now prescribe maggots to NHS patients with infected wounds.
A man was hacked to death at a NATO Partnership for Peace program in Budapest. A man discovers human skulls encased in ceramic amid stuff purchased at auction by an Ohio discount store chain. John Kerry explains to Idaho paper that he would appoint a salmon czar if he were to be elected president.
Los Angeles Times ran this story two days ago on the difficulties the CIA is encountering in Iraq and Afghanistan. As with all public stories about the CIA, a grain of salt is needed with this coffee. Still, worth a look.
"Athens Security preparations for this summers Olympic Games have become so costly and complex that Greece will probably submit a formal request to NATO for help in guarding against terrorist threats, officials here say. Greece is seeking assistance in areas such as intelligence gathering and dealing with the unthinkable - a major chemical or biological attack on a stadium, for instance - according to a top Greek official, who said there had already been lots of informal meetings between the government and NATO."
Nader officially rejoined the presidential fray this morning on Meet the Press. If you missed the show, I commend you to read the transcript. His interview was rife with his usual pablum and conspiracy theory. You know the routine: Bush should be impeached because he lied. And Iraq was all about the oil. I never get tired of that line.
I doubt that Nader will have a significant impact in this race. The Democratic base is motivated by a combination of anger and hate directed toward Bush--the Jonathan Chait phenomena--and will vote more pragmatically, even if their preferences lie closer to Naders positions. The big question is the impact on the Dean voters. I presume that a number of disenfranchised Deaniacs will cross the line to vote for Nader. But my sense is that only a fraction of these individuals would ordinarily vote, so it wont actually split away as many votes from the Democratic party as some might think.
Governor Schwarzenegger has finally denounced the Mayor of San Francisco for breaking the laws of California by encouraging and allowing "gay marriage." It is amazing to me that the Liberal-Left will do anything to get its way, including breaking ancient laws. They hope that then this issue will go into the courts, which they think they can dominate, and thereby quickly not go into a national dialogue on this important question. Now we have Mayor Richard Daley asserting that there is nothing wrong with gay marriage. I take this as an especially ill omen for Daley is an ordinary Democratic politico and he is not Mayor of San Francisco, but of Chicago. Add to this court decisions from Massachusetts and Vermont and unlawful actions of those who are supposed to uphold laws in New Mexico, and one is compelled to ask, what is going on here?
To make things worse, conservatives are all over the map on this one (see this Lee Bockhorn piece from July of 2003, wherein he mentions some of the tensions already developing). Conservatives seem cowed by this issue. I think they are wrong to be. The argument in favor of gay marriage is one that--in the end--is based on nothing but will and interest and the inability and unwilligness to make a distinction between a male and a female, the two kinds of human beings, and what their comingled life has to do with human happiness and excellence. This is the way the Left gets its way: It demands that everyone else not only allow them to do what they want (we do; no one argues that homosexuals ought to be put in jail, etc.), but they also demand that we approve of their actions by asserting either that their actions and demands are right and moral, or that there cannot be any distinctions between right and wrong, and therefore those who disagree with such actions have no right to make an argument on behalf of their position. However,--and this is not a small point to make--it is up to those who want to change the laws and habits that have been settled for thousands of years to make an argument against those laws and habits, rather than demand that we--who have upheld those laws and habits for millenia--first make an argument to uphold them. They have to persuade us. Because they cannot persuade us (it would seem) they resort to breaking the laws, and try to force the issue into the courts. If they are successful in this policy (as they appear to be already), then we will have no alternative but to work on behalf of a constitutional amendment which would define marriage (and I am not yet persuaded that that is the direction we should go). What I am persuaded of for now is that my side had better demand that the other side argue in favor of this great change in our public life and then vigorously argue against a change in policy and law. So far, those who want to change our understanding of marriage are just making demands, as if they are in a superior moral position. This will not do. This is not how a democratic-republic functions.
If everything will be resolved in the courts--and by no means can we assert that those rulings will have a happy outcome--the voice of the American people will be unheard. There will be grave consequences to this silence. Here is a chapter from Bill Bennetts The Broken Hearth on homosexual unions. It is long, but very much worth considering. No doubt, there will be more on this later, when I am calmer.
I wasted much of my time during my undergraduate days, but not all of it was my own doing. Among the least interesting books I had to read (more than once) was Sartre’s "Being and Nothingness", and "Nausea," and the others. Many of my profs thought themselves ever-so-deep existentialists, and forced us to read what turned out to be Nothing. In short they were fools and knaves and their offense is rank. While I wasn’t a rocket scientist, I still had a nose and knew what crap smelled like. So does Brian C. Anderson, who writes a review of Levy’s book on Jean-Paul Sartre and has this paragraph about Sartre:
"Lévy is right about the need to read Sartre, but his admiration is misplaced. What Sartre actually offers us is a paradigmatic example of the leftist mind, in all its dodgy enthusiasms. Sartre’s early existentialism presents a nihilistic conception of human freedom that still informs some forms of liberal thought; his later political writings seethe with the pathologies of the far left, including an admiration for bloodletting, so long as it targets democrats and capitalists and Westerners generally. Sartre may indeed have been ’the absolute intellectual,’ but only in a negative sense: His oeuvre stands as an absolute warning about the wrong turns that moral and political thought can take when untethered from nature or any sense of reality. Were Sartre alive today, he doubtless would place the blame for September 11 and Palestinian suicide bombings on their victims — defending, as he frequently did, the indefensible."
Robert D. Kaplan reveals how Colonel Tom Wilhelm, one of the new breed of soldier-diplomats, is doing things in Mongolia. It is a story of both good American policy, and how an American man moves through the world and does good for us (and the Mongolians). It is a story that reads better than most fiction, and Wilhelm’s work there will have large consequences for what happens to Mongolia (and China and Russia) over the next twenty or thirty years. It also explains something about why there some Mongolian soldiers in Iraq as a part of the Coalition. Sweet coffee is recommended.
Now that it seems that we may be coming down to the wire in our hunt for bin Laden (see post below) this historical note is worth contemplating.
Steve Coll writes a must-read story in the Washington Post about how the Clinton administration tried to handle the search for bin Laden as a law enforcement problem. Many things are clarified: the paralyzing disputes, the lawyers (and Janet Reno), the CIA’s demand that it get a written authorization from Clinton, and so on. Once told in full, it will make for a messy story. Read the story. I should also note that while I am all in favor of getting bin Laden, inclding killing him, I am not opposed to capturing him--for intelligence purposes--but I am opposed to treating this as a law enforcement issue.
The Sunday Telegraph reports that U.S. Special Forces have surrounded Bin Laden and a group of his fanatical followers in a rugged region on the border on Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Yahoo and Drudge have reported the same.
Benjamin Schwarz, the national editor of The Atlantic Monthly, writes an extremely interesting review of the recent revised history of the Eastern Fron of World War II. The revisions are made possible because of the new material from Russian archives. He gives you the details. It turns out that the Russians did better than we have thought (since we had been relying on mostly German sources). It is amazing to note that circa 80 percent of all German military casualties in the war were on the Eastern Front. He says that "The four-year conflict between the Wehrmacht and the Red Army remains the largest and possibly the most ferocious ever fought. The armies struggled over vast territory. The front extended 1,900 miles (greater than the distance from the northern border of Maine to the southern tip of Florida), and German troops advanced over 1,000 miles into Soviet territory (equivalent to the distance from the East Coast to Topeka, Kan.). And they clashed in a seemingly unrelenting series of military operations of unparalleled scale; the battle of Kursk alone, for instance, involved 3.5 million men." Thanks to Powerline.
The Middle East Media Research Institute has an extensive and detailed study of the January 25 revelation by the Iraqi paper Al-Mada of those individuals and entities who were beneficiaries of Saddams oil vouchers. There is a scandal of vast dimensions brewing and this is a helpful document; it also includes (with citations) the denials by some who have been implicated. Full of very interesting information. Worth keeping.
David Brooks, once again, has a smart column. Read it and you will understand one of the reasons why Lincoln and others did not campaign when they ran for president.
Speaking of South Dakota, John Derbyshire at The Corner brought Badger Clark, a poet from South Dakota, to my attention.
"Reader Jon Schaff tells me a thing I did not know, am ashamed not to have known, and am now glad to have been told: ’Mr. Derbyshire--I don’t know if you are aware, but the Bob Dylan song you referenced in today’s fantastic column is actually a cowboy poem by one Charles Badger Clark, the first poet laureate of the great state of South Dakota. The poem was called "A Border Affair," but when set to music it has been called "Spanish is the Loving Tongue" after its first line. I have seen and heard many versions of this poem, but below you’ll find a version culled from this website: I also recommend his poem "Bad Half Hour."’
I’ve always liked that Dylan song much more than I like Dylan songs in general. Now I know why: The words were written by a good poet. I really like Clark’s stuff. Look at the last stanza of ’The Job.’ Sure, he’s not Keats; but this is better than 90 percent of the stuff that gets published as poetry nowadays."
The fact that Tom Daschle is praising Bushs Iraq policy is a sign that he is in a tough election. The folks in South Dakota clearly like Bush; Daschle is in trouble.
This Pew Poll says that Bush’s job approval rating is down to 48%. His personal popularity rating was 73% after the fall of Baghdad. It is now 53%.
Also note that more and more people polled are using the word "liar" to describe him. Although I do not see this as standing for long, it is of concern because--in the end--his re-election will be based on trust. Once Bush gets into the game (and I am not yet arguing that he should; he should wait) these numbers will change, to his advantage. And, of course, the numbers will be moved by events in Iraq and elsewhere. We should be prepared to be surprised. Also note the good news the poll has for Kerry (for now). He is described as "honest."
"A dark, unseen energy permeating space is pushing the universe apart just as Einstein predicted it could in 1917, according to striking new measurements of distant exploding stars by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope.
The energy, whose source remains unknown, was named the cosmological constant by Einstein. In a prediction he later called my greatest blunder, but which received its most stringent test ever with the new measurements, Einstein posited a kind of antigravity force pushing galaxies apart with a strength that did not change over billions of years of cosmic history."
Hugh Hewitt is offering John Edwards his radio show to co-host for one day or all days between now and the primary election on super Tuesday. Given that Hewitt is all over California Edwards should take him up on it. Hugh hasnt yet heard from the campaign staff. Odd.
Naomi Wolf is accusing Yale professor Harold Bloom of sexual harrasment. It was supposed to have occured twenty years ago. You may remember Wolf. She is the feminist author who advised Al Gore in 2000 to wear "earth tones," and made about fifteen grand per month for such advice. You might be interested in Camille Paglias comments near the end of the piece.
There are too many polls out there, and they are all over the map. In some Bush is ahead, and in some he is behind. None of these mean anything yet, in my opinion. Besides, if I were Bush I would want to be behind in February. But this Zogby poll is a bit more interesting than the norm because Zogby is a bit more accurate than the others, and because of the way he divided it, red and blue states. Note this:
" A new poll conducted by Zogby International for The O’Leary Report and Southern Methodist University’s John Tower Center from February 12-15, 2004 of 1,209 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points found that if the election for president were held today, Democrat John Kerry would edge George W. Bush 46% to 45% in the “blue states” – or states won by Al Gore in the 2000 election. In the “red states,” or states won by George W. Bush in 2000, however, Bush wins handily by a 51% to 39% margin."
Ian Murray sees no need for "universal health care." Indeed, he thinks its a terrible idea.
Peggy Noonan, who has recently been critical of the President for some of his inferior performances on the air, recently met with him with a dozen or so people. These reflections make clear what is good about the man, and why it is that he is a good president, and why he is unlikely to lose the election.
I know that you will not be shocked to discover that most campuses are left-wing. This article goes a long way toward explaining it.
Noam Scheiber reflects on the Wisconsin vote and points out that the more discerning voters went for Edwards and the less educated, blue collar voters (perhaps oddly given Kerrys elitist liberal background) voted for Kerry and thinks this is bad news for Kerry. Michael Barones take on the Wisconsin outcome notes that the race is not yet over. Edwards still has a chance to beat Kerry, and super Tuesday is the time to do it. Hugh Hewitt has a few words to say about Kerrys anti-war activity in the 1970s, and he does not think it will prove to be to his advantage. Good read. Also note this
testimony (PDF file) of John Kerrys in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971. It is not only revealing about Kerry, but reminds us what Senators Fulbright, Aiken, Pell, et al, were like, and reminds me why I did not like them at the time.
James Taranto reports from OpinionJournal.com that Tom Hayden is happy with the direction of American Politics in this election cycle.
BY JAMES TARANTO
Wednesday, February 18, 2004 3:11 p.m. EST
The Spirit of 72
Tom Hayden, the 64-year-old erstwhile student protester, California state senator and Jane Fonda husband, is happy with the direction the Democratic Party has taken this year. "The Democratic presidential candidates have adopted the broad goals of the peace and justice movements, becoming anti-war and pro-fair trade in the course of the primaries," he writes at AlterNet.org:
American politics is being realigned swiftly and unexpectedly in a progressive direction. On war and peace, jobs and trade, civil rights and civil liberties, and the environment, the Democratic Party is being shaped by its own insurgent constituencies on the ground than by its internal leadership, consultants and pollsters, fundraising professionals, revolving-door law firms and their clientele. Such a realignment was envisioned in the Port Huron Statement of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) when human hope was in the air 40 years ago. The early SDS strategy was that independent social movements (civil rights, students, peace and labor) could shape a progressive political majority, force white Southern conservatives from the party, and spark a new governing coalition in the tradition of the New Deal. Assassinations and the war in Vietnam ended those hopes. But now the same fault lines have appeared in American democracy once again, and those whose ideals were forged in the 1960s may have one last chance to, so to speak, accomplish their mission.
Taranto concludes: If Hayden is right, this bodes ill for the Dems. The last time they unreservedly embraced the "ideals" of the 1960s was in 1972, when they nominated George McGovern, he of acid, amnesty and abortion. McGovern managed 37.5% of the popular vote and carried Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, and he was running against an unpopular war.
Good to see not one but two Wall St. Journal articles on the recent flap over outsourcing occasioned by White House economist Gregory Mankiw’s statement that outsourcing jobs overseas was simply a form of trade that actually benefits the U.S. economy. How? By making domestic production more efficient in the short haul and raising the standard of living in the not so long haul. Both Alan Murray’s article,
"Bush Economist Performs Bellyflop Into Outsourcing" (2/17/04),
and HP President Carly Fiorina’s op-ed, "Be Creative, Not Protectionist" (2/13/04) put "productivity" into the current debate over how best to create jobs in America.
I especially liked Fiorina’s provocative statement last month that "There is no job that is America’s God-given right anymore." Crudely put, but a good reminder of the difference between conservative and liberal views on what citizens should expect from their government: liberals think government should "create" jobs out of thin air, whereas conservatives think that if government should "create" anything, it’s an environment that guarantees the right to property and provides a tax structure that provides incentives for the most productive use of capital.
In his state of the union address, President Bush made the conservative case for a government that does not create jobs per se, but protects private citizens (through low and fair taxes, for example) in their capacity to create jobs. But with his recent comments about America losing jobs to overseas companies, he seems to be borrowing from the Democrats’ playbook. Understandably, he does not want to reprise his father’s alleged indifference to the economic plight of unemployed Americans, which in part produced the election of Bill Clinton. Nevertheless, Bush needs to use his campaign to teach many Americans some basic economics about America’s strong position in the real global economy.
It seemes palpable over the last few days that Democrats have cooled on John Kerry. Wisconsin may be a reflection of this. See this NBC story on a Chinese problem he had back in 1996. You can smell a scent in the air, an unpleasant scent that somehow this wealthiest of all politicians may be carrying more baggage than he ought, and this could hurt him in the general campaign against Bush. This is only going to help Edwards. The L.A. Times is reporting that Dean will stay in the race but stop capaigning. He is making a mistake. This will hurt the Democratric Party and he loses all authority, oir whatever he had left. He is now on the fringe.
Dan Balz writes the WaPo storty on the Wisconsin outcome. The short of it is this: This race isn’t over yet. Edward’s rise is in part due (first) to the fact that Kerry is a bore and his comprehensive and excessive attack on Bush’s foreign policy is too extreme (and reminding people that he is a Vietnam vet with medals that he didn’t actually throw away, and that Bush was only in the National Guard only goes so far when Bush is Commander-in-Chief during war) and (second) that Edwards’ emphasis on good old-fashioned class warfare and protectionism is selling and (three) Edwards is a much more attractive and well-spoken human being than Kerry. Edwards seems normal. I’ll try to focus on this later, but it seems to me now that Edwards can at least damage Kerry, and possibly even win. This is especially true if Dean endorses him. If Dean wants to do something very good for his Party, he ought to do that. Then it would become a race down to the wire and I am betting that the longer it goes the more Kerry will drop. Kerry is like a bad love affair, the more you know him, the less you like him. Good for Edwards. Dean is supposed to hold a news conference this afternoon.
The Iraqi statue of an American soldier mourning his fallen comrades seems to be true (this was debated a few weeks ago). Take a look at it. It is made from bronze taken from demolished statues of Saddam. (Thanks to Andrew Sullivan)
Just when you begin to think that all students and professors are left wing radicals, anti-jewish martyrs, or other high-minded things, comes this report from National Review OnLine: Sex Week at Yale .
"Women and children not admitted. If that dont fetch em, I dont know Arkansas." The King or the Duke.
Carnes Lord is speaking today on "American Leadership and Statecraft in the 21st Century." You can listen to it live by clicking on his name. It should be good.
Today is Presidents Day. Since I have already mentioned Lincoln on his birthday, Ill just stick to Washington today (even though his birthday is not until the 22nd). What can be said about this great man that hasnt already been said? Not much. Yet, do remind yourself of his greatness and of why he was necessary for the founding of the country: No one was trusted more than George Washington. Discover why that may have been the case, and teach it to your children. Here is his
Letter to Colonel Nicola and his
Letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport and then his
Farewell Address. Read, think, remember, and be grateful.
This is a note from a graduate student in a philosophy department, regarding the post below on "Liberal Profs at Duke":
"A fellow graduate student in my philosophy department forwarded me this very article once it was published. It provided some interesting conversation. Those in the pro-affirmative action camp used to argue for their position by appealing to a theory of justice where affirmative action is justified as a means of reparation for past injustices. However, this argument, for many reasons, has become unfashionable. Arguing for affirmative action by appealing to ’diversity,’ whatever that means, is the only argument heard today by students and professors. It is almost taken as an a priori truth that diversity, whatever this might be, is necessary to become educated. Yet it is acceptable to those who embrace diversity to oppose more diversity in academia by leveling out liberal influences of liberal professors (and I had no idea how much liberal indoctrination can occur in the classroom until I started graduate school). When I suggested that their premises entailed that we ought to hire more conservatives at this university, possibly even granting "extra consideration" because of their minority status, I was called, quite common on campus today, a ’Nazi. Sigh..."
Hillsdale College freshman, Hans Zeiger , takes on the Girl Scouts who seem to be more and more politically correct.
Posted first at Townhall.com.
The briefs in support of Michael Newdows "crusade" against the Pledge of Allegience are in; several are posted on Tom Goldsteins blog. Not surprisingly, the brief filed by the Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the ACLU object precisely because the reference to "under God" follows a tradition in this Country "of humbly seeking the wisdom and protection of Divine Providence." Of course, the invocation of the protection of Divine Providence comes directly from the Declaration of Independence. As Pontius Pilot once remarked, what more need have we of witnesses. The ACLUs attack is aimed at nothing less than our founding charter and the principles upon which our nation is based.
Controversy continues at Duke University. Some students are claiming that there is bias against conservatives, and that there isnt enough intellectual diversity among the faculty (in the history department there are 32 registered Democrats to 0 Republicans, for example). There is more here, where you can find the chair of the philosophy department saying this amazing thing: "We try to hire the best, smartest people available. If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire.
Mills analysis may go some way towards explaining the power of the Republican party in our society and the relative scarcity of Republicans in academia. Players in the NBA tend to be taller than average. There is a good reason for this. Members of academia tend to be a bit smarter than average. There is a good reason for this too."
Critical Mass has a lot more and is following it in more detail than I am willing to. I dont find all this surprising (Ive been around too long!) and I do find the Liberals predictable reactions and lies brazen; as is said to Falstaff,"Give me leave to tell you you lie in your throat." I hope the mischief by the students continues, and I hope that the professors--who are as false as water--are at least made uneasy by the questioning.
Ray Bradbury, the great science fiction author, now aged 83, praises the Bush Mars effort, and says, "Were going to go with real people and land on Mars in the next 20 years and Im going to be buried in a tomato soup can on Mars. Ill be the first one up there."
A bit more on the Kerry intern issue from the Telegraph. A friend of the young woman says this: "This is not going to go away. What actually happened is much nastier than is being reported."
NRO re-prints the text of the letter believed to have been written by terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to al Qaeda operatives. Assuming the letter is authentic, this must be good news. We are doing things right. David S. Cloud explains in the WSJ On Line, who he is, what he has been up to, and how we have been tracking him.
Joseph Ellis reviews Washingtons Crossing by David Hackett Fischer. Although he quibbles over some details, he gives it full praise and notes that it is a perfect book upon which a a great film about the War of Independence can be made, "for in a confined chronological space we have the makings of both Patton and Saving Private Ryan, starring none other than George Washington. Fischer has provided the script. And its all true."
Christopher Caldwell, writing in the Financial Times, surveys Europe the question of who might be our friends in Europe. An eight page article with a lot of interesting detail about the various countries, leaders, and parties that may or may not be pro-American. There are a number of surprises here, including the collapse of the Christian Democratic parties’ support, and an expansing support from parties on the Left. Europeans’ reactions to America are, of course, tied to their own problems of integration, as well as Britain’s place in Europe. Complex. This paragraph is especially worth noting.
"In its diplomacy, as in its military strategy, the United States is discovering that it has a very shaky idea of who its real friends are. In the old days, it was very clear where the instinctive pro- Americans, or ’Atlanticists’ were to be found. They made up most of the Christian Democratic parties everywhere, and an influential right-wing rump of the Socialist parties in Germany, Scandinavia and Britain. And some of today’s pro-Americans are still on the right: Germany’s CDU still backs America, as do the British Tories, although not unanimously, and particularly not when Labour is in power. Beyond them, though, today’s Atlanticists are an unfamiliar mix of New Labour (in its British and Dutch variants), continental human-rights activists (particularly in France), Eastern European ex-dissidents and post-cold war parties of the right (in Spain and Italy). It would be surprising if America’s future foreign policy did not take some account of which Europeans like it, and which don’t."
Edward Rothstein reports on a remarkable conference at the New School, called "Fear:Its Uses and Abuses." Gore delivered the keynote address and argued that it is the American government that is preoccupied with instilling fear (George Kateb, Eric Alterman, and other Left-wing worthies, expanded on the theme). This is similar, it was argued, to the irrational fear of Communism and the perversions of McCathyism, "It was described as part of a counter-constitutional coup by a radical right." The speakers wanted to inspire fear, Bush "is exploiting the fears of the American people," as Gore put it. Of course, no one seemed to fear terrorists. And Gore argued that terrorism is not a threat, so shouldnt be feared. Jeff Jarvis reflects on all this (a few pages down under "Fear") and it is not to Gores advantage. Glenn Reynolds comes to the point: "I was once pretty high on Gore -- I worked in his 1988 campaign -- but hes been a complete disappointment. And now hes not just a guy who lost an election. Hes a become a loser, and that transformation has been entirely his own work.
And those of us who were relieved on September 11 that Al Gore wasnt the President are reminded, yet again, just why we were relieved. Hes too small a man for a job that big." I dont think any more has to be said on Al Gore.
George Will poses 28 questions for John Kerry to answer. Very powerful. Forget the Mickey Mouse stuff currently in play about his military record versus George W. Bush’s, these are the questions that will drive the campaign. Will implies there are more questions to be posed, but these may be sufficient. Even a Washington Post editorial poses similar questions for Kerry, and asks him not be "fuzzy" in his response.
Vice President Dick Cheney introduced Charles Krauthammer at the American Enterprise Institutes Annual Dinner in Washington a few days ago. Krauthammer received the Irving Kristol Award for 2004. Krauthammer than gave this talk, Democratic Realism: An American Foreign Policy for a Unipolar World. This is a serious piece of writing, considers as it does the meaning of a unipolar world, isolationism, liberal internationalism, realism, and what he calls the "fourth school that has guided U.S. foreign policy in this decade," democratic globalism. He explains why it is better called "democratic realism." Worthy of your serious attention, and a point of view with which I essentially agree. I note only a few paragraphs, to encourage your reading of the whole:
"This conservative alternative to realism is often lazily and invidiously called neoconservatism, but that is a very odd name for a school whose major proponents in the world today are George W. Bush and Tony Blair--if they are neoconservatives, then Margaret Thatcher was a liberal. There’s nothing neo about Bush, and there’s nothing con about Blair.
Yet they are the principal proponents today of what might be called democratic globalism, a foreign policy that defines the national interest not as power but as values, and that identifies one supreme value, what John Kennedy called “the success of liberty.” As President Bush put it in his speech at Whitehall last November: “The United States and Great Britain share a mission in the world beyond the balance of power or the simple pursuit of interest. We seek the advance of freedom and the peace that freedom brings.”
Beyond power. Beyond interest. Beyond interest defined as power. That is the credo of democratic globalism. Which explains its political appeal: America is a nation uniquely built not on blood, race or consanguinity, but on a proposition--to which its sacred honor has been pledged for two centuries. This American exceptionalism explains why non-Americans find this foreign policy so difficult to credit; why Blair has had more difficulty garnering support for it in his country; and why Europe, in particular, finds this kind of value-driven foreign policy hopelessly and irritatingly moralistic.
Democratic globalism sees as the engine of history not the will to power but the will to freedom. And while it has been attacked as a dreamy, idealistic innovation, its inspiration comes from the Truman Doctrine of 1947, the Kennedy inaugural of 1961, and Reagan’s “evil empire” speech of 1983. They all sought to recast a struggle for power between two geopolitical titans into a struggle between freedom and unfreedom, and yes, good and evil." A bit more:
"The danger of democratic globalism is its universalism, its open-ended commitment to human freedom, its temptation to plant the flag of democracy everywhere. It must learn to say no. And indeed, it does say no. But when it says no to Liberia, or Congo, or Burma, or countenances alliances with authoritarian rulers in places like Pakistan or, for that matter, Russia, it stands accused of hypocrisy. Which is why we must articulate criteria for saying yes.
Where to intervene? Where to bring democracy? Where to nation-build? I propose a single criterion: Where it counts.
Call it democratic realism. And this is its axiom: We will support democracy everywhere, but we will commit blood and treasure only in places where there is a strategic necessity--meaning, places central to the larger war against the existential enemy, the enemy that poses a global mortal threat to freedom."
Rabbi Daniel Lapin discusses Mel Gibsons upcoming film, "Passion," which portrays the life of Christ.
In some quarters, the movie has been portrayed as rabidly anti-Jewish. Rabbi Lapin begs to differ.
The movie will be released on Feb. 25th.
The situation in Haiti is getting worse. About fifty people have already died in what looks to be an uprising against Aristide. The counter attack is being readied by the government. You find this in the BBC report: "The United States has said it does not want to see any kind of regime change.
It is difficult to assess the impact of that statement but it is certain to cause a lot of disappointment.
In many of the marches here over the past few weeks, the call has been for President Bush to come and take back Clintons mistake, as they call it.
President Bill Clinton was in charge when American marines came in here and re-restored President Aristide to power in 1994 (the president was forbidden to stand for a second term in 1995, but was re-elected in 2000)."
I think Daniel Henninger nails the meaning of John Kerrys candidacy (and George Bushs):
"John Kerry was present at the creation of the moral and intellectual voyage of post-1960s Democrats. He helped map its course. He testified in 1971 against the Vietnam War as a young veteran before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He appeared as an antiwar spokesman on "60 Minutes" and "The Dick Cavett Show." John Kerry was a celebrity among Primary Democrats as Bill Clinton never was during this important period. As a Southern governor, Mr. Clinton learned about the inevitable left-right compromises of public policy in ways that rarely tainted the austere ideological experience of Mr. Kerry in the liberal northeast and Washington. (This may well disadvantage Mr. Kerry in the election.)
"We have in George Bush a president for whom the formative event of his political life is not Vietnam and the years after but September 11, a catastrophic attack on American soil by an organized global enemy. With his doctrine of pre-emption for threats to U.S. security, his destruction of the Taliban and overthrow of the Hussein regime in Iraq, Mr. Bush has largely broken free of the political period that shaped John Kerrys career. Mr. Bush argues that he is dealing with a world and enemy that has not previously existed. But with Iraq, 30 years of Primary Democratic belief instinctively reappears as resistance, led again by John Kerry. If George Bushs sense of right purpose flows directly from September 11, 2001, so too does many Democrats from what John Kerry was doing and thinking in 1968 in the Mekong Delta."
New York Times runs this story, "Conservatives Shine Spotlight on Kerrys Antiwar Record," and its about what youd expect. Note the references to Mac Owens article in the current NR, as well as to this Weekly Standard article on Kerrys anti-war book in 1971, "The New Soldier." This book is now on my desk, by the way. (No, I didnt pay a $150 for it, got it through other methods!) The Times also mentions this site.
Tom Shankers article in yesterdays New York Times on what the Saddam (and the Iraqis) were thinking before the war is worth a look. He starts: "A complacent Saddam Hussein was so convinced that war would be averted or that America would mount only a limited bombing campaign that he deployed the Iraqi military to crush domestic uprisings rather than defend against a ground invasion, according to a classified log of interrogations of captured Iraqi leaders and former officers."
The Philadelphia Inquirer runs a story on the Kerry-intern reports (rumors, if you like). Drudge follows up, and Drudge quotes Kerry on Imus this morning when he denied it all. The Sun has some more: the woman in question is 24 year old Alex Polier:
"There is no evidence the pair had an affair, but her father Terry, 56, said: ’I think he’s a sleazeball. I did kind of wonder if my daughter didn’t get that kind of feeling herself. He’s not the sort of guy I would choose to be with my daughter.’
Terry, of Malvern, Pennsylvania, added: ’John Kerry called my daughter and invited her down to Washington two or three years ago. He invited her to be on his re-election committee. She talked to him and decided against it.’”
Nicholas Eberstadt writes on the crisis in Russia in both fertility rates and death rates. While the fertility rate is very "European" (i.e., very low) and a problem, its death rate is an even bigger problem (and one that other European countries can’t match). Over the the four decades between 1962 and 2002, life expectancy at birth in Russia fell by nearly five years for males. He explains why this is so, and he thinks it will have massive political consequences for Russia and the world. By, the way, in a speech yesterday Vladimir Putin lamented the death of the Soviet Union. Not good.
House in the country $1 million.
Three luxury cars $150,000.
Leaving town during a cold Michigan winter without turning the water pipes off in your garage Priceless.
James L. Swanson writes a brief review of a new book by Daniel Mark Epstein called Lincoln and Whitman. I have been reading into it for about a week, and it is certainly worth reading, indeed I found it irresistable. This, despite the fact that he conjures up some possibilities--he takes liberties--that may be misleading, in the end. Epstein claims that it is probable that Lincoln read Leaves of Grass in 1857 when his law partner brought it into the office (by then Emerson had proclaimed Whitman a great poet) and that Lincoln was much affected by Whitman so that his literary and speaking style were made better. This is possible, but we already know that the Bible and Shakespeare had a greater influence on him, and, perhaps most important, the ordinary speech of ordinary men is what he heard above all else, what his ear was tuned to, and what his mouth and pen replicated. Just to remind you of some of Whitman’s work here is When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d
"When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d", and "O Captain! My Captain!"
This Reuters story helps explain the media push regarding Bushs National Guard Service. Note the title of the story, "Bush, Kerry Both Face Attacks on Vietnam Records." Get it? Attack Bush for being only in the Guard (and having missed, probably, some meetings), and then note that John Kerry is a decorated Vietnam vet, and then all the stories that will come out about his anti-war activities will seem to be just ill-will from those who didnt serve as honorably as he did (and those that served "only" in the National Guard).
Jane Fonda says a few words in defense of John Kerry. Thanks, Jane, this will help.
According to The Drudge Report, the mainstream press is actively investigating charges that a woman who has recently fled the country did so because she was involved in a sexual relationship with John Kerry. According to the story, the other Democratic candidates know all about it, and it explains why Howard Dean has remained in the race despite his poor primary performances. Wesley Clark is reported as predicting that the Kerry campaign might well "implode" over this issue.
Of course, this is the Drudge Report we’re talking about here, so its best to take this with a grain of salt, but its obviously something worth following closely in the coming days.
Today is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. We should celebrate this--as Hawthorne called him--"essential representative of all Yankees," and we should be glad that we know why we love him. He knew why the Union was worth saving, and he saved it. He could think and write and talk and laugh, even in the midst of bloody war. In this
Fragment on the Constitution and the Union he nails the connection between the Declaration and the Constitution. The Gettysburg Address enshrines in the American memory both the start and purpose of the Union, thereby clarifying our self-understanding as a people. And it shows that the self-evident truth has now become a proposition; one doesn’t have to be a Euclid scholar to know the large political implications this has for the future, or the military implications it had in 1863: the new birth of freedom would depend on a military vitory. The Second Inaugural is not only fitting and eloquent, but explains why the war came and why it may continue--even after the cause of it is gone--and touches on how man’s purpose and understanding may differ from the of God. Thank you Father Abraham, and happy birthday.
Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics has a few choice paragraphs on how the press is making itself look like (again) as if they’re insane. He recounts a press briefing with Scott McClellan after he released some information on Bushs Guard duty. Bevan thinks it looked like he had entered a "vortex of insanity." You can follow the useful links. Bush serves, gets an honorable discharge, and becomes a war president. The press is doing the dirty work of his Democratic opponents by throwing muck around around, pretending it is their duty. If the President were a Democrat, this wouldn’t be happening. Does anyone out there think the press is not biased? No. Bill Hobbs has more to show how the so called "facts" the press is using, are not facts after all. This non-story is more revealing about the nature and bias of the media than of anything else. Attack, attack, confuse, confuse, and then say, "Oh, OK, we dug up the facts and it was a non-story after all. Let us now praise ourselves." Here is a letter to the editor from a retired fly-boy Colonel who was in the same unit with W. telling the press to "knock it off."
William Hawkins has a couple of thoughts on Kerrys work with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, his continued membership in it, and what VVAW stands for now.
Secreteray of State Colin Powell did not allow Ohio Congressman Sherrod Brown (D) to get away with the National Guard AWOL issue. He fought back. I saw a minute of it on the news this morning, and I thought it was great. A petty politician trying to use his moment in the sun (Powell was testifying in front of the House Committee on International Relations) being turned on by a man of dignity and character, a large man. Powell should reveal his anger more often. It was powerful.
I thought that this sort of clarification would take a while longer, but, what do you know, it turns out that Kerry just might be a Massachussets liberal! This AP story reports that John Kerry, "who opposes gay marriage and hints he might support a limited ban, just two years ago signed a letter with other congressional colleagues urging the Massachusetts legislature to drop a constitutional amendment outlawing homosexual nuptials.
And when Kerry opposed federal legislation in 1996 that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, he compared the law to 1960s efforts in the South to criminalize interracial marriages and accused his supporters of engaging in the politics of division.
This is an unconstitutional, unprecedented, unnecessary and mean-spirited bill, Kerry declared then even as 85 senators and President Clinton supported the measure."
John Kerrys full testimony in 1971 may be found here. (The one I posted on earlier was incomplete, it turns out). Thanks to "The View from the Core."
Bob Arnot, who has been reporting for NBC from Iraq, has not had his contract renewed. He is calling NBCs coverage of news from Iraq "biased," and claims that network reporting from Iraq is not covering the good-news stories. This shouldnt shock enyone; we know of the bias. This is just another confirmation.
This dozen-page Carnegie Paper, considers "Womens Rights and Democracy in the Arab World." Not great, but has some useful information in it. Note citations to the Arab Human Development Report 2002 (and 2003), which I recommend.
Tony Blankley opines on the "Grand Strategy" as talked about in the Boston Globe article and how it may play out in the campaign and why it would be to Bushs advantage.
Andy Busch reflects on John Kerrys march to victory, how and why it happened, and why it may not be such a good thing for the Democratic Party to have a nominee who only had about three weeks on the hot seat. I agree.
My (Virginia) local news reported tonite that Wesley Clark has dropped out of the presidential race. Hell return to Little Rock to announce his decision later this week. We may not have the good general to kick around any more, but his surrogate (read: sponsor) Hillary is sure to surface for the 2008 election. Yes, that assumes two things: (1) Hillary will NOT accept the Democratic nomination for VP this July even if Kerry is stomping Bush in the polls, which is typical for the lead convention, and (2) Bush will win re-election.
Man in Alabama is caught removing furniture from house, guy pulls a gun on him, forces him to mow the lawn with a push-mower until he figures out what to do (has no phone) then takes burglars license. Burglar gets twenty years; he had been arrested nineteen times, and was on parole.
Here is the Washington Post story on Kerrys victories in Tennessee and Virginia. Some interesting details, e.g., Dean ran strong in Northern Virgina, etc. This seems to end the possibility that Clark remains a viable candidate. And Edwards, who came in second in both states, is now going to run for the VP slot, if he stays in. Dean should be finished after Wisconsin. So the deed is done. The unsmiling Kerry--not seeming very happy after these two important victories--will be the nominee. A bit sad, all this, I think. Other things (like issues) aside, I think he will prove a tedious candidate. The more folks will see of him, the more the enthusiasm will decline.
This short Boston Globe piece laments our inability to use the language as we should. Becky and I were pondering the beginning of Richard III this afternoon, and I was--again-struck by "sent before my time/Into this breathing world." It should be our occupation to be plain. (via The Remedy)
This is kind of interesting. A story on how Joe Trippi is recommending that the e-mail list of donors and supporters (circa 600,000) that Howard Dean has gathered NOT be given over to the Democratic Party. These folks signed on with Dean, the person, and not necessarily the Demo nominee, he says. Also note that he blames the downturn in Dean’s fortunes on the effects of the Gore ednorsement. He said that sparked a torrent of media scrutiny and attacks from rival candidates. But in this Reuters story he blames the internet for Deans downfall.
"Internet activism that thrust up the Howard Dean U.S. election campaign later hobbled the organizations ability to respond to criticism in the weeks before the primaries, Deans former campaign manager said on Monday.
Joe Trippi, who resigned after defeats in Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary, said the direct involvement of so many Internet supporters deprived the campaign of the traditional weapon of political surprise.
We were having a real problem with how to say, "We could be in real trouble here," Trippi told a technology conference of the tactical trouble the Dean campaign had in balancing the need to keep supporters informed."
This is the story of the fifteen year old recently released from Guantanamo, and what he had to say about his captivity.
According to The Corner at NationalReviewOnline, John Kerry is coasting to victories in todays primaries in Virginia and Tennessee. Doesnt that mean the race is over?
NO COMPETITION: THE LOOK OF THE EXITS TODAY
Sources say the race in Tennessee and Virginia looks something like below, as of noonish:
Clark . 15
Clark 1 1
Today, the usually brilliant but always stimulating David Brooks has penned a NY Times op-ed that offers what Bush should have said to Tim Russert last Sunday in
"Bush on Bush, Take 2". Can’t say that I agree with but half of it, though it does clarify a key issue of the presidential campaign--Bush’s view of and approach toward global terrorism--and how Bush will have to remind voters of the connection between his policies (foreign and domestic) and his character.
I do not think Bush would be successful saying to the American people, as Brooks suggests, "I am a war president." Of course, we are at war, but the rhetoric the president uses to remind us of this fact need not be so blunt as to mislead the nation into thinking Bush is enamored of war-making. He will be more persuasive by November 2nd if he continues to defend our intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq (and points beyond, if necessary) as promoting our nation’s defense first and foremost, and only secondarily for its effect on making those nations and the world at large a freer place.
Aristotle teaches us that not only the force of logic or argument but also a speaker’s character and his audience’s disposition help or hinder his ability to persuade. The logic of Bush’s war against terrorism makes sense, but his rhetoric must accommodate the sentiments of the American people. Exit polls showing that Democrats rank terrorism as last on their list of concerns this election year say more about the Democratic candidates’ rhetoric than they do about what Americans really think about the grand scheme of things, foreign and domestic.
It will be Bush’s task to sketch this grand scheme of things that the Democrats so blithely take for granted: namely, that the world is a dangerous place, America is the main target of this threat, and therefore we cannot afford the luxury of allowing fairweather allies or a chimerical "world community" to determine if, when, and how to take the fight to our enemies. Domestic concerns (like the deficit) are important but can only be discussed responsibly in light of the pressing matter of national self-preservation.
Brooks and others on the Right are correct in pointing out the need for better speaking "off the cuff" from our president. As Lincoln once noted in a law lecture: "Extemporaneous speaking should be practised and cultivated. It is the lawyer’s avenue to the public. However able and faithful he may be in other respects, people are slow to bring him business if he cannot make a speech." The "business" of attracting votes is important enough for Bush not to neglect this facet of his job. The American people can be grateful that his principles and convictions are good and steadfast, but they will not vote accordingly if his impromptu remarks do not show this.
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post passes on the rumors that Vice President Cheney is getting a lot of flack from even pro-Bush folks, and maybe he should not be on the ticket. This will continue; rumor mongering is part of politics. In the meantime, Bushs approval rating moved up three points in the CNN Poll, to 52%.
Some newscast last night reported on a speech Gore gave in Tennessee on Sunday night; he was yelling and screaming about how Bush was just like Nixon, the worst president even, and so on. The minute or so that I saw was quite extraordinary, if not shocking.
Chris Suellentrop of "Slate" has a few good thoughts about Gore’s raving and what it means. Very thoughtful and meaningful. The Democrats have to keep on eye on this guy, if he does things like this at their convention, it cannot possibly be to their advantage. Andrew Sullivan calls it a "deranged rant" and thinks that this crude anti-Bush anger may have peaked: Gore is always a good indicator of where things are not. And, alas, that may mean that Bush scepticism may be on the rise, which he thinks is more dangerous (for Bush). He’s right. Insultsunpunished ("Al Gore has lost his mind") links to an audio of the speech if you are up to it. (via Powerline)
Robert Heineman reviews James Davis Hunters The Death of Character: Moral Education in an Age Without Good or Evil. A serious subject, a pretty good book, and a good review. A paragraph, for the flavor: "The result, as Hunter has so ably shown, has been to render the concept of character vacuous. Moral education has become an oxymoron, and, in the form dictated by modern psychology, has become a potential danger to American society. Any creed or organization that challenges the need for non-judgmental universality is quickly moved outside the bounds of legitimate public discourse. At the same time, those beliefs that do not so challenge, no matter how quirky or foolish, are seen as within the realm of policy discussion. As a consequence, robust public debate, with its attendant analysis of ideas and creation of new proposals, has been effectively stifled while the most superficial and non-threatening forms of rhetoric continue to be seen as worthy of attention."
Congratulations to this month’s winners of a No Left Turns mug! The winners are as follows:
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 February’s drawing.
Mac Owens sheds light on the charges lodged by the Kerry campaign regarding George W. Bush’s service in the National Guard during the Viet Nam War.
Courtesy of National Review Online.
Here is the speech of President Bush on the opening of the Churchill exhibit at the Library of Congress that I couldnt find earlier. (Thanks to Scott Johnson).
There is a new exhibit at the Library of Congress called "Churchill and the Great Republic." It is worth a look, emphasizing as it does, his connections and appreciation of things American. He called America "The Great Republic." President Bush opened the exhibit last week, I saw his very good speech on C-Span, but, alas, it is not to be found on line.
This Boston Globe article claims: "Twelve years after the collapse of the Soviet Union left weapons of mass destruction scattered throughout Russia and its breakaway republics, most of the fallen empires vast arsenal remains intact and dangerously underprotected, according to new military data compiled over the past year."
This is not good news: Russia claims that most of the mercenaries killed or captured in Chechnya are Turks.
Here is the Nov-Dec, 2002 Foreign Affairs article,
"A Grand Strategy of Transformation" by John Lewis Gaddis I refered to below, but neither Powerline or I could find. Thanks to a reader for sending it along.
David Gelernter writing in the Los Angeles Times reflects on the "happy error" that it took phantom WMD to rid the world of a great evil. It wasn’t Bush’s or Blair’s mistake, it was Saddam’s mistake. He claims we can learn much from this "comedy," and maybe we ought to "institutionalize the phantom-WMD maneuver. It was all a mistake, but it worked beautifully." But, more seriously, George Will warns President Bush that he should speak more clearly than he has about WMD, and other issues.
Because this is the silly season, we continue to get nothing else from Bush’s political opponents on foreign policy than an emphasis on no WMD’s in Iraq and the view that the threat was not imminent, as Bush had claimed. This is both wrong and misleading (never mind for the moment the continued misquotations by the liberal press and it’s use by his opponents). The real questions that will have to be addressed in this campaign are much more important than that and generally fall under the term "grand strategy." Bush has one--loosely called the Bush Doctrine--and he is implementing it. It has to do with so-called preemption, unilateralism, and hegemony. Of course, reasonable people may disagree with it, yet there it is and it cannot be ignored. The historian John Lewis Gaddis was interviewed at length for this Boston Globe story on this issue. He has a book coming out on it in April (and has already written on it as Powerline notes). The book will be essential reading on the subject not because it will the last word, but because it will be first very public example of the conversation that has already begun, and which ought to be had, especially in an election season. And it will be a good start to that conversation. Please read the Boston Globe article with care, and file it. You will need it and more will be added to your file over time. This will mean--self-evidently--that we will have to have a conversation about very fundamental things, never mind the understanding that John Quincy Adams, or Teddy Roosevelt, or Franklin D. Roosevelt, or Ronald Reagan had of American ends and means in the world.
I only note in passing the reference in the article to Bush as Prince Hall being transformed by 9/11 into Henry V. If his opponents don’t see this possibility, they might as well keep their day job. With such large issues moving through the world, this is not the time to underestimate your political opponents. They do so at their peril, and to the disadvantage of the conversation that ought to take place.
Terrence Moore, continuing his "Pricipals Perspective," has some suggestions regarding grammar. And you should know--just so you dont bombard me with too many e-mails when I write ungrammatically--I am also trying to pay attention to him!
Secret Service got a bit confused about which Springfield President Bush wanted to visit this coming Monday; the one in Missouri, not the one in Illinois. They finally got it right. I can just see that happening with Ashland, should he ever decide to visit here, since there are Ashlands from Kentucky to Oregon. Police sue man in New Hampshire; he calls them too much. Egyptian authorities have charged two men with endangering public health, saying they sold dog meat to the public in the days leading up a Muslim feast. The U.S. State Department has banned "Courier New 12" typeface, and from now on will use "Times New Roman 14." This applies to all diplomatic notes, and will offer "a crisper, cleaner, more modern look." I bet this went through a couple of committees before becoming policy. A German who trained
Nazi dog barely escapes prison. Almost two-thirds of a
Canadian unit headed for Afghanistan tested positive for drugs. They’re not going. A poll reveals that only
of Canadians would vote for Bush.
The BBC lists some things you cant do while in Parliament: no hands in pockets, no military medals may be worn, and so on. But I found this interesting and most politically relevant: "Finally, members must not die on the premises! This is because the Palace of Westminster is a royal palace where commoners may not die. Any deaths on the premises are said to have taken place at St. Thomas Hospital - the nearest hospital to the palace."
Soccer and politics. "The Mexican crowd hooted The Star-Spangled Banner. It booed U.S. goals. It chanted Osama! Osama! Osama! as U.S. players left the field with a 2-0 victory.
And that was in a game against Canada on Thursday before just 1,500 people.
A game Tuesday in neighboring Guadalajara will determine whether the U.S. under-23 soccer team heads to the Athens Games." Obviously, this is not a good sign. But we should expect this kind of thing, and be as magnanimous as possible about it, while we try to win every game we are assigned. Remember this great piece that the great soccer fan Henry Kissinger wrote, "World Cup According to Character"?
The Washington Times reports on the Congressional Republicans hard-nosed opposition to Bush’s immigration plan and lack of fiscal discipline at their retreat. Apparently, Karl Rove was hit hard.Lance Izumi has a modest suggestion for President Bush: read Hayek to learn the connection between freedom and fiscal policy.
Spinsanity has a few good paragraphs on the "imminent threat" misquote by the press and how it is hardening into fact, to be used against Bush. All the links are very useful, keep thme at hand because this will remain as an issue, Bushs opponents will not let it die; the Hell with the facts.
John Lott & Grover Norquist explain why gun control is still a loaded issue for Democrats, despite their attempts to turn away from their standard anti-gun position. Lott points out that they are deeply interested in this issue because it is widely thought that Gore lost in 2000 because he was seen as the anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment candidate.
Gerard Baker, of the Financial Times, writes a good article on the debacle at BBC and the Sutton inquiry. I am not optomistic that all this will have the kind of consequences that it should: the Left media elites are hard to oust from their self-righteous pulpit. But it may be a start.
"Miracle" opens in theaters this week, about the improbable victory of the U.S. Olympic hockey team over the Evil Empi. . ., I mean, the Soviet Union back in 1980. It was compared at the time to a high school team beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in football.
Now of course that would never happen. So how did this "Miracle" happen? Those of us who were students of Harold Rood at Claremont have an obvious explanation: The Soviets lost on purpose! Why? Remember, on the eve of the Lake Placid Olympics, Jimmy Carter was working hard to organize a boycott of the summer Olympics in Moscow because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. There was strong opposition (from Ronald Reagan on the campaign trail among others). The Soviets were in a panic about the proposed boycott, especially if other nations followed the U.S. (which several did). An American hockey victory in Lake Placid would cause Americans to have second thoughts about passing up the chance to smack the Ruskies around in Moscow, and support for Carters boycott might collapse. So perhaps the KGB sends out word: Lose to these guys. It may save the summer Olympics.
If this sounds far-fetched, consider a similar case: In 1984 I went sailing in Australia with an Australian who did a lot of yacht racing, and he made out the case that Dennis Conner had deliberately lost the Americas Cup race to the Australians in 1983--the first time the Cup had been lost in 125 years. The theory was that the cup would always stay in the New York Yacht Club as long as the American "defender" won, but Dennis Conner was from San Diego, and the only way to get the Cup to San Diego was the lose it first.
Well, two years later, Dennis Conner won the Cup back in the waters off Perth, and the Cup went to . . . San Diego. Worth thinking about.
But go see the movie anyway.
As has been mentioned that today is President Reagans birthday. I wish this fine man all that is good and all that he merits, and they may be one and the same. I also want to thank his tremendous wife. She has always stood by him, does so now, and will until the end. May the Good Lord shed His many blessings on them both. I have always loved his
Pointe du Hoc speech. You will be grateful and you will weep.
Tom Krannawitter has a good essay at The Remedy on marriage. He supports Governor Mitt Romney’s article "One Man, One Woman: A Citizen’s Guide to Protecting Marriage," and adds value to the argument. Both are must reading. We should not be dispireted by the fact that we have to come to the defense of marriage. This is an opportunity for those who think clearly to help form public opinion on this issue. The good news is that public opinion is on the side of right. The bad news is that public opinion will be besieged and attacked and we have to get to the common sense of the subject and defend this good and necessary institution. Tom is right when he says that
"Marriage is among the oldest institutions of human civilization, and most Americans understand that perverting its basic meaning carries grave consequences." So let’s stay on this and help.
John Kerry was one of 14 votes in the U.S. Senate against the Defense of Marriage Act when it passed during the Clinton Adminstration. Following the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s ruling this week, that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, Kerry seems to be running from his earlier vote. Kerry said yesterday: "Look, I support equal rights and the right of people to have civil-union, equal-partnership rights," Kerry said. "I dont support (gay) marriage. I never have. Thats my position. Its always been that way."
In this short review of the documentary "The Fog of War", Robert McNamara has some interesting and self-serving things to say not only about Vietnam, but also about Iraq.
He is "utterly disgusted" by the American war in Iraq: "It’s just wrong what we’re doing ... if we can’t persuade other nations with comparable values and comparable interests of the merit of our course, we should reconsider that course, and very likely change it." Ken Masugi has more.
Heres another article on how smart George W. Bush is. Michael Segal argues in OpinionJournal.com that W is smarter than the intellectuals who disdain him.
Looking for the best site on the Constitutional Convention? You found it. Great introduction, day by day events, maps, Madison’s notes. It’s all there. Pass it on.
John Kerry is polling at 56% in Michigan, with Dean at 9% and Edwards at 7%. This substantial lead and the general genuflection toward Kerry as the Democratic nominee, combined with his continual reminders that he is a part of a "band of brothers" crafted by their Vietnam experience should begin to focus our minds on who John Kerry is, what he has done, and what his purposes have been, and whether or not hey have chnaged over time. This examination will not be necessarily in Kerry’s interest, I’ll wager. As the Democratic primary campaign crawls on and ends up handing the nomination to Kerry, a couple of things have become clear.
First, striking though it may seem, his nomination may be made possible because the Democrats (at least unconsciously) realize that their party has to show its serious side regarding national security. They don’t like to admit it, but we are in a war. Kerry was in Vietnam and served honorably. Many have stated over the years that the Democrat Bill Clinton got elected and re-elected (the first Demo to do so since FDR) only because the Cold War was over, and the voters’ mistrust of Demos on foreign policy over the previous decades could be placed in a jar. That is why Christopher Hitchins (not exactly a conservative) could say of the Clinton presidency, "It was a brief sexual interlude between two Bushes." Crude, but revealing. Now things are serious and they need someone with some military credentials who will have some authority to attack Bush’s foreign policy and the way he wages war. It was going to be Clark, but it turns out to be Kerry. Oddly, the Democrats now think that Bush can be attacked as, well, a kind of draft dodger, because he only served in the National Guard.
Second, because Kerry is the choice. Vietnam will be rewound and re-played.
Kerry is a Vietnam vet who, immediately returning to the U.S., became an anti-war spokesman. He wasn’t attacking only American policy in Vietnam, however, his was a full blown attack on the barbaric and uncivilized U.S. military, and by extension, America itself. As William F. Buckley notes in a speech on John Kerry he delivered at West Point in 1971 (that’s right, 1971), that Kerry talked about Vietnam as the place and symbol "Where America finally turned." Buckley reflects on the meaning of "turned." This is not to Kerry’s advantage, and it will be replayed many times during this campaign year, even though he will try to re-interpret it and change its meaning. Kerry will fail. The "band of brothers" he claims to represent is not the band of brothers we hear in Henry V where the king inspires his men--"we happy few"--to sacrifice and risk on behalf of victory against a foe that greatly outnumbers them, but rather a band of brothers that is defined by a kind of shared misery in the fight without understanding why they fought. And that is the crux of the matter and this will be revealed over time, and the real band of brothers will have something to say about this during the campaign, but for now they are allowing Kerry to slowly dig his own political grave. See, Mac Owens--a member of the real band of brothers--on this theme.
So, by the end of the campaign we will re-live Vietnam and its meaning--as we did not do when Bill Clinton was running and acting the president--because, well, he only dodged the draft during Vietnam and ran against, and defeated, a hero from World War II, but it didn’t matter because nothing important was going to happen under his watch. Things are different now, large things are happening in the world, both the preservation of freedom and honor are at stake, and the story that the good man will end up teaching his sons, will not be the story that John Kerry will want to hear. Yet, it will be told, and our brothers will tell it. Their names and their cause is what will be remembered, not John Kerrys assault on America.
UPI reveals the nationalities of those held at Gitmo. It turns out that 160 out of the 650 are from Saudi Arabia, 85 from Yemen, 82 from Pakistan, and 80 from Afghanistan.
David Rieff writes a long article on the Shiites for the New York Times Magazine. It is a good read, full of interesting background and information. Someone, at some point, will have to respond to the cleric Sistani when he says that "If one man one vote is good enough for the Americans, why isnt it good enough for the Iraqis," by telling him the truth: It isnt good enough for us, never has been; explain the architecture of the Constitution, separation of powers, federalism, representation, and so on. This will be interesting. I remind you that Robert Alt will be in Iraq by the end of the month and he will be sending back regular dispatches. More detail later.
My worst nightmare is that a Democrat beats President Bush in November. (About some things I dont even dream, see previous blog.)
I mentioned last night, and a couple of people commented on it, that my worst nightmare would be if John Edwards won both the South Carolina and Oklahoma primaries. Im glad that Clark appears to have eked out a victory in Oklahoma.
I believe that Edwards is the only Democrat in the field who could beat Bush in November. I dont think Kerry can beat W. Edwards might. He is a relatively unknown Southerner who can and would sell himself as a new Democrat a la Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, the only Democrats elected President in the last 30 years. He is cute, smart, slick (without anything to hide it seems), and he comes complete with a Im just a poor boy who made and does good story.
Couple him with Evan Bayh or some Democrat from the Mid-West or even Hilary, I have nightmares.
I dont think it likely that he can derail John Kerry and I dont think he would help Kerry much in the South and probably not even North Carolina as a VP candidate. So I dont fear him as a VP candidate only at the top of the ticket.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right.
James Lifson , a Harvard classmate of President Bush, writes a nice article about the difficulty of Harvard’s MBA program and the likely lessons ’W’ and the other MBAs learned there.
Interesting. I picked this up at a nice, new, blog called The American Thinker.
"The disgraced founder of Pakistans nuclear programme has informed investigators that he supplied rogue states with nuclear technology with the full knowledge of the countrys ruling military elite, including President Pervez Musharraf, a friend of the nuclear scientist was reported as saying yesterday," reports the London Guardian. This will not shock anyone, yet it cannot be proven, or, in the end, much talked about. Abdul Khan will have to deny it.
Some gentle readers are waiting for me to predict and even bet. I have declined both opportunities in this round, sorry. But I will say this repetitious thing: Kerry has it in the bag and Edwards has proven that he can push on and maybe even make Kerry worried a bit. It is even remotely possible that--should Kerry fall apart a la Howard Dean--Edwards would be there to replace him. But this is not likely. So Edwards will have done well for himself by his good-humored doggedness, and he will be rewarded, eventually. There is no doubt that Lieberman has come to the end, and perhaps also Clark. Dean will give it one more week or so, and then throw in the towel. Sharpton will have gotten himself a prime-time speaking slot at the Democratic convention, which I think shameful. This man should not be the voice of black Americans. I have a seminar tonight, we begin to tackle Booker T. Washington. Ill check in a bit after 9 p.m.
Here are some early exit poll numbers from today’s primaries. Thanks to ’The Corner’ at NRO.
According to sources, the early exit polls in most of the states are in, and they look like:
AZ Kerry 46, Clark 24, Dean 13.
MO Kerry 52, Edwards 23, Dean 10
SC Edwards 44, Kerry 30, Sharpton 10
OK Edwards 31, Kerry 29, Clark 28
DE Kerry 47, Dean 14, Lieberman 11, Edwards 11
If these #s hold up, it is huge for Edwards, my worst nightmare.
Islam on line has an interesting background piece on this issue. Note the not-too-subtle warning that Khan better not be prosecuted or hell spill the beans about government involvement. No pun intended, but this isnt rocket science.
Here is the MEMRI translation (also see footnotes for denials) of the Iraqi newspaper article listing names of individuals and organizations receiving oil vouchers from Iraq.
David Brooks has some insightful and thoughtful things about the CIA. His description of the problem as a kind of false "scientific objectivity" is probably more true than people are willing to admit. The CIA is not the National Weather Service of global affairs. The stablishment of a presidential intelligence review commission is an opportunity to fundamantally rethink intelligence. I agree. Richard L. Russell thinks that the Iraq intelligence problem can be placed at the door of the Directorate of Operations (DO), and it should be investigated and restructured.
John Keegan thinks clearly about the use of intelligence in war in the London Telegraph. Although referencing the Blair issue, it applies everywhere. A couple of good paragraphs:
"An even more striking example of disagreements, bearing directly on the current Iraq controversy, was over intelligence of German secret weapons. A strange leak, the Oslo report, had warned the British in 1940 that Hitler was developing pilotless aircraft and rockets. It was ignored until, in 1943, reports from inside occupied Europe referred to the subject again."
"A committee was set up, chaired by Duncan Sandys, Winston Churchills son-in-law. Its findings were reviewed by another committee, of which Lord Cherwell, Churchills scientific adviser, was the most important member. Cherwell absolutely denied the possibility of Germany having a rocket, and produced the scientific evidence to prove it. He persisted in his denial throughout 1943 until June 1944, when remains of a crashed V2 were brought to Britain from neutral Sweden. Shortly afterwards, the first operational V2 landed on London. Churchill was furious. Weve been caught napping, he burst out in Cabinet."
"Worse than napping. More than 1,500 V2s landed on London, killing thousands, at a time when Hitler was also trying to develop a nuclear warhead. The whole pilotless weapons episode demonstrates that, even under threat of a supreme national crisis, and in the face of copious and convincing warnings, intelligence officers can disagree completely about the facts and some can be 100 per cent wrong."
Ive had a rough day in and out of the office, running about, etc. Came back to the office late afternoon to find that my banal snail-mail had arrived but, mirabile visu, a fine book had also arrived: Lucas Morels, Ralph Ellison and the Raft of Hope: A Political Companion to Invisible Man. Lucas edited the book and wrote two of the chapters; other authors include, Danielle Allen, James Seaton, Thomas Engeman, and John F. Callahan. Great stuff. Thanks, Lucas.
USA Today reports on the latest UCLAs The American Freshman annual student survey. Political interest is up, more students call themselves conservative than ever, etc. But the most meaningful fact is this: "The percentage saying its important to develop a meaningful philosophy of life has dropped by more than half, from 86% in 1967 to 39% in 2003." Bravo!
The American Thinker has some good comments on all of this.
Stephen F. Hayes has more on "Saddams cash" in The Weekly Standard. Messy stuff already and more is bound to come out and be confirmed over time.
Both Bush and Blair have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Ill bet they dont get it.
Note Lucas reference to Leon Kass article below led me to remind you that Kass report (as Chairman The Presidents Council on Bioethics) of last year is available on line (about 400 pages), Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness. It is not unrelated to matters Lucas mentions. Take a look at the table of contents.
Leon Kass, chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics, and Eric Cohen, editor in chief of the New Atlantis journal, have written a stimulating and edifying op-ed on the relationship between athletic excellence and human excellence. "The Price of Winning at Any Cost" in Sunday’s Washington Post argues against the use of performance enhancing drugs in professional sports, ending with this startling claim:
We would become a society of spectators, and our activities mere spectacles. Worst of all, we would be in danger of turning our would-be heroes into slaves, who exist only to entertain us and whose freedom to pursue human excellence has been shackled by the need to perform--and conform--for our amusement and applause.
For the Aristotlean logic that leads them to this plausible conclusion, read their essay. I dare say, it speaks quite well of President Bush when op-eds written by his friends in academia remind one of the higher things in life.
Our commentary on the campaign and other subjects makes us aware of the need for conservative perspectives on the news and in reporting.
The Claremont Institutes Publius Fellows Program is a summer resident seminar designed for college seniors and graduate students who aspire to write for newspapers and opinion journals.
Now in its 26th year, the Publius Fellows Program is dedicated to preserving the tradition of American political writing of which Publius, the pseudonym of the authors of The Federalist Papers, was the noblest exemplar. It aims to foster constructive commentary on the important issues of our time, informed and moderated by an understanding of the philosophic and historical roots of the American political tradition.
During their four-week tenure, Publius Fellows will reside in Claremont. They will attend an intensive series of seminars on political philosophy and American politics, and examine contemporary public policy in light of the principles of American constitutionalism. In addition, fellows will also be tutored in the art and craft of political journalism. Each fellow will write several pieces while in residence, which will each be subjected to detailed criticism. Up to 10 Publius Fellowships will be awarded.
More than 140 students have graduated from the program since its inception in 1979. Many of them have gone on to places of prominence within political, journalistic, and academic institutions. Past Publius Fellows include the Ashbrook Centers Roger Beckett, best-selling author Dinesh DSouza, radio talk show host Laura Ingraham, White House speech writers Michael Anton and Cheryl Miller, and Public Interest Executive Editor Adam Wolfson, among many others.
Applications are now available online at www.claremont.org. Application materials are due March 12. Acceptance in the program is competitive, so interested students should begin to apply soon.
Andrew Sullivan explains why he prefers Dean. And Jack Beatty, a leftist, explains why he doesnt like John Kerry. Note this great paragraph: "Kerry, who buried his applause lines in the gray lava of his monotone, got his loudest cheers when he entered the room. Once he opened his mouth the energy began to seep away—at any rate, in the "overflow" room from where we watched Kerry on a giant screen. Listening to him, I saw a long line of Democratic bores—Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Bradley, Gore—who lost because people could not bear listening to them. John Kerry belongs in their dreary company. I fear he could talk his way out of victory—that, excited by his résumé, his panache as a war hero, Americans from coast to coast will be disappointed in the real man; that, just as we did at Dartmouth, they will long for him to stop his answers at the one-minute mark and by minute two will have tuned out and by minute three will pine for the terse nullity of George W. Bush."
The New York Times runs this article on the report of the Pakistani government on how Abdul Qadeer Khan has signed a detailed cofession regarding his transfer of both the design and technology to produce the fuel for nuclear weapons to Iran, North Korea and Libya. Dramatic and important.
Tom Shales writes a nice piece on the half-time and advert vulgarity at the Super Bowl. The folks at the Corner are all over it, if you are interested in going into all this in depth. I’m not, and I was not surprised. My son John’s eyebrows went up as we were watching, that was enough, I didn’t have to say anything. We continued talking about the game, which turned out to be very fine. Shales concludes: "Maybe the Super Bowl will have to move from the broadcast networks to the Playboy Channel if its commercials are going to be so dirty that they embarrass parents watching with their kids."
Robert Samuelson describes Europes large economic difficulties and their consequences for the world economy. Very clear.
Let me bring to your attention our Book of the Week. It is Allen Guelzo’s Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America. It has just been published, in time for Lincoln’s birthday. It is, quite simply put, the best book written on the subject. He writes as a real historian, trying to understand it all as Lincoln understood it. And he does. Guelzo understands that Lincolns eyes were fixed on slavery and emancipation from the moment he took office. He worked mightily at getting the Border states to emancipate voluntarily (and slowly), with financial recompense from the Feds. He was conscious of doing anything that the Federal courts could overturn, and he understood even as he was issuing the Proclamation--even though justitified as military necessity--that an amendment would be necessary. Guelzo walks the reader through Lincoln’s prudence and it is impressive. Must read.