Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Red King Crabs on the March

Among many of Stalin’s 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 Norway’s 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 to Iraq

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.

Revolution by judicial fiat

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."

The importance of Ohio

Both Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times carry stories about the importance of Ohio in the election. Ohio has lost almost 250,000 jobs since 1999, most of it in manufacturing. Bush won Ohio by only four points in 2000. The Bush campaign, I am certain, understands the importance of the Buckeye State.

Victor Davis Hanson

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.

Guelzo talk

For those of you who may have wanted to listen to Allen Guelzo’s 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 armed forces in trouble

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."

Russia, a normal 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 they’re right.

Locke v. Davey

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.

Character or skin color?

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?"

The Bush Campaign

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.

Here’s how Bush put it on Monday: "Come November, the voters are going to have a very clear choice. It’s 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 O’Donnell in San Francisco

Rosie O’Donnell marries her girlfriend in San Francisco, then bashes Bush.

As Reagan to the Soviets, so Bush to the Islamic terrorists?

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.    

Cautious Kerry on

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.’"

Hibbs on The Passion

Thomas Hibbs of Baylor University on The Passion.

Kerry and Edwards on gay marriage

Here is a report on John Edwards speaking in Claremont, California, and how ill at ease he is with the gay marriage issue. He stumbled many times. Powerline has more on the issue and how John Kerry is (or is not) addressing it.

Edwards and Kerry

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.

Bush’s Love Thy Neighbor (Foreign and Domestic) Policy

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.

Allen Guelzo speaking

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.

The Virtues of Globalization (aka Free Trade)

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.

A Real Anti-Jewish Movie

No, I don’t mean Mel Gibson’s ’The Passion of Christ’.

While talk radio natters on about the possible anti-semitism of Gibson’s 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 Rosenberg’s 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 Rabbi’s orders.

Rosenberg concludes his article with this observation: Those Jewish leaders attacking The Passion are thus making a serious strategic error. They’re crying wolf, and hurting their own cause by pointing to anti-Semitism where it doesn’t 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, they’re 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 Will’s 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.

Left anti-Semitism

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."

Will Nader hurt the Democratic candidate?

Andrew Busch explains why Nader is likely to fizzle by November.


Our principal, Terrence Moore, explains why character is destiny. Also note his piece called "We all have our uniforms to wear."

Constitutional Amendment on same sex marriage

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.

Gibson’s Passion

Russell Hittinger and Elizabeth Lev on Mel Gibson’s 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."

Rumsfeld vs. Powell?

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."

Court Rules Against Theology Student

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.

Al Qaeda’s threat to France

Ayman al-Zawahri has threatened both the United States and France. Armavirumque has a good comment on this.

Edwards and Kerry in Ohio

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.

Uranium found

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.

Demand for Paige’s resignation

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.

Putin, unopposed

Vladimir Putin fires entire government, as he prepares for next month’s elections (I mean coronation!). His rival threatens to pull out of the race saying that everything, including the media, is in Putin’s control.

bin Laden surrounded?

Tom Regan at The Christian Science Monitor has a good round-up of the stories claiming that Osama bin Laden is surrounded.

Bush on constitutional amendment protecting marriage

Here is President Bush’s statement on the need for a constitutional amendment protecting marriage.

Bush Endorses Constitutional Amendment

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 here’s

another news report.

A Meditation on St. Ralph

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.

The Hispanic challenge

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.   

Kant and Iraq

Roger Scruton thinks that Immanuel Kant would have approved of the war in Iraq.

Troops to Haiti

The AP reports that fifty combat ready troops are on their way to Haiti to secure our embassy.

Searching for bin Laden, 1999-2001

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.   

Today’s Kerry Fix

Be sure to see Joshua Muravchik in today’s Washington Post (registration required, alas), on John Kerry’s 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 army

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 Search for Bin Laden

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.

A Sign from South Dakota

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 haven’t found WMD yet. "Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., on Thursday praised the Bush administration’s 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."

Here’s the full report from the ’Rapid City Journal’ .

I supposed I don’t 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.

CIA problems in Iraq, Afghanistan

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.

NATO security at Olympics?

"Athens Security preparations for this summer’s 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’s Return

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 Nader’s 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 won’t actually split away as many votes from the Democratic party as some might think.

Gay Marriage

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 Bennett’s 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.

The nausea of Sartre

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."

The man who would be Khan in Mongolia

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.   

FDR and the Crisis of the 1930’s

Jon Meacham reviews Alonzo Hamby’s For the Survival of Democracy: Franklin Roosevelt and the World Crisis of the 1930s. Hamby will be speaking on his book at the Ashbrook Center on April 16th.

Clinton and bin Laden

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.   

Bid Laden Surrounded

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.