Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Kerry campaign shakeup?

There is turmoil in the Kerry campaign, it seems. See these staff changes, and Mickey Kaus’ few paragraphs. I have looked for this elsewhere, but only Instapundit has anything on it. I’m not surprised, yet it should have happened weeks ago. I’ll pay attention after my Lincoln class tonight.

Schwarzenegger vs. the (GO)P

With Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger scheduled to speak tonight at the GOP Convention, CNN reports that he "will tell the delegates how he believes his life story shows the viability of the American Dream." Why doesn’t it surprise me that the Governator will make himself the focus at a convention supposedly touting the virtues of the Republican Party and its leader, President George W. Bush.

We all know Sen. Hillary Clinton is already running for the 2008 presidential election, but I think Schwarzenegger is steadily becoming a Republican version of Clinton and will prove to be more of a liability than an asset to the GOP and its future as a governing majority for the nation. Why? He repeatedly addresses political problems as if individual personalities (like his own) are more important than the principles that inform their decision-making. In short, he cannot stop himself from talking about politics as if it was not political. This undermines public debate by teaching citizens that parties are simply instruments of division rather than principled policy-making. Let’s hope his speech tonight is sufficiently partisan, sufficiently Republican, to persuade voters of the merits of both George W. Bush’s reelection and the two-party system in America.

David Brooks Reinvents the GOP

In his NY Times Magazine article, "How to Reinvent the G.O.P.", columnist David Brooks argues that the Republican Party is suffering an identity crisis that has as much to do with its victories as it does its defeats. It won the debate over the evils of big government, but lost the debate over an activist government.

And so Brooks proclaims that to counter the Democratic Party’s mission to use "government in the name of equality and social justice," the Republican Party must promote "limited but energetic government in the name of social mobility and national union." In other words, he is calling for a revival of the Whig Party for the 21st Century.

For those who have forgotten what the Whig Party stood for, Brooks rehearses some of its ideals and programs, beginning with its principled origins in Alexander Hamilton, and tracing its manifestations in the thinking and actions of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. While Brooks gives an unduly incomplete portrait of Lincoln, his presentation of a Whiggian revitalization of today’s GOP invites reflection.

Perhaps the article’s chief debatable point is the claim that a GOP embrace of limited but energetic federal programs can foster the kind of independent character that Hamilton, Lincoln, and TR preached and practiced. That said, Brooks’s reflections upon Bush’s compassionate conservativism as sowing the seeds of a return to Whig politics bears serious discussion. With the Republican Convention now under way, Brooks offers a "New Conservative Platform" for its consideration.

While you’re at it, you should also take a look at Brooks’s NY Times op-ed today entitled
"The Courage Factor."
It argues that what unites the speakers at the GOP convention this week is not so much their moderate politics but their embodiment of bravery in the political arena.

McCain and Giuliani

McCain set the tone and the purpose. We are Americans first, last and always, and we’ll never surrender to these opponents who lack all human virtue. Our enemy is a malevolent force. We are fighting evil. It’s a big thing, this war and it could become bigger. But we have the moral courage to see it through. The liberation of Iraq was necessary, achievable, and noble. Bush will not yield or flinch and neither shall we. We--as one America, not two--must vanquish this unpardonable enemy. Stand up with our president and fight. Giuliani was poetic and thereby even electrifying. He warmed the faithful, and reminded them of the facts, of the horror, of the courage, of the determination, of the pithy human moments brought forth by the evil deed, of men laying down their lives for one another, of men crying and hugging, and of men with their controlled anger stepping into the abyss and returning. Bush said they would hear from us, and they have. Bush is solid as a rock, and Kerry isn’t, and to point that out is not not a personal attack.

I thought the two speeches were excellent. I know that you could argue that McCain needs a few lessons in delivery and Giuliani went on a bit long. But such details are not worth mentioning. These men represented what biography in politics means. It does makes a difference who gives a speech on what. Both men can talk about courage, hardship, leadership, the value of freedom. They don’t have to lay down an argument (although McCain did); they lived it. So people listen. This night was a great start. These are Republicans, here is what they consider important, here’s why. We understand something about freedom as a great good, and we think we know what it’s for and how we should protect it. Our party has always understood this, from Lincoln on. If you agree that we are at war, you must make an argument why you would not support such statesmanship, such character, such noble purpose. And Bush’s opponent has yet to make that argument. See my point about the inside straight below. I have to run. I have a Freshman class called Understanding Politics and I am ready for it. You can find the text and videos of the speeches here.

Debates, an inside straight

I guess Dan Rather--remember him, he used to be a very important person, the chief talking head for one of the three most important sources of news for the nation--has a blog. He is admitting that the Bush campaign is on a roll, the Big Mo has started, and that the Kerry campaign is, to put it clearly, flabbergasted by their decline. He quotes one Democrat: "Our best hope now is that Kerry does well, very well, in the debates. They look like the next chance to change momentum around—maybe the only chance." Does this need to be interpreted? We can still win if we can just pull the inside straight (with chances being somewhere between 38 to 1 to 71 to 1).

CNN’s reevaluation of the MTV booing

Just one minute before 6 p.m. tonight I was watching CNN. Wolf Blitzer reported on the MTV awards ceremony and how both the Kerry daughters and the Bush daughters were booed. All the while he was talking, circa 45 seconds, a picture of the two Bush daughters was on the screen, as it was during the awards after the Kerry daughters spoke live and were booed. In other words, according to CNN, the Bush daughters were booed. I’m still naive, thus amazed. The video of what CNN didn’t show is here.

ABC Poll

I almost missed this Washington Post/ABC News Poll. Bush and Kerry each at 48% of likely voters and, oddly, Bush ahead 48-47% among registered voters. But the most interesting fact is this: "The new poll found that a slight majority of registered voters -- 53 percent -- say Bush is more qualified than Kerry to be commander-in-chief, while 43 percent say they prefer the Democratic nominee. At the end of the Democratic convention, Kerry enjoyed an 8-point advantage over Bush on that question." There is more, but you get the point.

In war, resolution

This William Safire op-ed, as compared to Raspberry’s below, is an elegant and serious statement on what the election is really about, and what its bumper sticker slogan should be: "In war, resolution." (Notice the graceful first ten lines or so about the "Najaf primary.") Because the election is about resolution in war (and even though Kerry and the Demos sense this, witness the Demo convention ignoring everything but Kerry’s ability to be commander-in-chief) and it is clear that Kerry is incapable of actually talking about it, or act according to its mandates, Kerry can not win. This has always been my opinion. The rest--how the people are discovering this inability, through Swiftvet ads, etc.--is secondary. This is stage upon which the play is unfolding.

Reflections of a sad Democrat

William Raspberry, not exactly a conservative Republican, offers a somewhat melancholic reflection on John Kerry as a candidate. This isn’t a great essay, nor is it deep. Yet, it is worth a read to see how an ordinary Democrat is feeling about Kerry. And these are not happy feelings. Kerry is frustrating and infuriating "because he seems not to believe much of anything worth risking offense." Kerry wants to be "all things to all people." He doesn’t want to be controversial. He doesn’t talk about big things. What does a reflection like this from someone like Raspberry mean? It means that the support Kerry is getting, he is getting for the wrong reason (i.e., that he is not George W. Bush) and Raspberry thinks that will not be enough to get him elected. Raspberry is reading tea leaves, he doesn’t like what he reads, but he is honest enough to say so. If the Kerry campaign is as perceptive as Raspberry--and I think they must be--I foresee a "reinvention" of John Kerry the candidate that will take place within the next two weeks. Watch for it. I want to thank Mr. Raspberry for making what is being whispered in private among Democrats public.

Kerry’s daughters being booed

Here is the minute or so long video of the Kerry daughters being booed at the MTV awards yesterday. Worth a look. (Thanks to Instapundit).

USA Today/ Gallup Poll

USA Today front page headline: "Kerry lead fades in two battleground states". The Gallup Poll shows that "President Bush has eroded John Kerry’s lead in two big battleground states that voted Democratic four years ago, complicating the Massachusetts senator’s electoral landscape." Bush is now narrowly ahead in Wisconsin, and pulled even in Pennsylvania, and leads nationally 50-47 among likely voters. And, by the way, Larry Sabato claims that a rare historical phenomenon could occur: "a convention bounce that is greater for the incumbent than for the challenger." Normally the challenger gets a bigger bounce from a convention than the incumbent. And because Kerry, as Sabato calculates--based on averaging national non-partisan surveys for two weeks following the convention--got a 2 point bumb, Bush should get only a one point bump.

Good news from Iraq

Arthur Chrenkoff has another "Good News from Iraq" update. Many good links.


Rich Lowry has an amusing article on NRO this morning recounting his experiences yesterday walking among the anti-Bush protesters. Conventional wisdom among the major media has been that these protests could tarnish the convention. Indeed, some of the media can hardly contain their hope that New York 2004 becomes a redux of Chicago 1968.

But there is another, more probable effect. The attempt to keep the Democratic National Convention scripted and "positive" was in no small measure an attempt to keep in check the radical Michael Moore/Howard Dean elements of the party which would, quite frankly, scare straight a fair number of swing voters. With the protests, however, the lunatics are running the asylum. The major media will do their best to cover the numbers of protesters without covering the outrageous, offensive, and uninformed content, but the new media will, and voters in swing states will not be impressed.

No clash of civilizations?

The French Foreign Minister, Michel Barnier, is trying to persuade those who kidnapped the two Frenchmen (they are insisting that France drop its ban on Muslim headscarves in schools!) to release them. So Barnier is in Egypt trying to get the locals to help. Here are some things he said: "I call for their release in the name of the principles of humanity and respect for human beings which are at the very heart of the message of Islam and Muslim religious practice." And this: "Their kidnapping is incomprehensible to all those who know that France, the country of origin of human rights, is a land of tolerance and of respect for others." And then this: "France has always opposed the vision of a clash between the West and Islam." This is what happens when you base a revolution on Rousseau instead of Locke; or, when you can’t defend the things for which you think you stand, when you lack conviction, when you don’t know the difference between freedom and tyranny, when you don’t know why some things--if you understand freedom correctly--can’t be tolerated. I know that many more--and deeper--things can be said on all this but I’ll just mention one other that especially riles me (and always has): "France, the country of origin of human rights." OK, M. l’foreign minister, OK. Very deep, very serious, very stupid. You need to take my Freshman level introduction to politics. That’s not the origin, and those French things are not human rights, and whatever they are they have nothing to do with Right. You guys believe in nothing, you are unreasonable. Keep begging. Of course this is
incomprehensible to you. How do you say idiot in French? Le Figaro is quoted as saying: "France, due to its position on the war in Iraq, could have hoped it was safe. This was not the case." Voila!

John Locke

I was told told that yesterday was Locke’s birthday. I laughed because the guy expected me to know that, me, who can’t remember his own birthday, never mind his wife’s, or his four kids’. Anyway, here is a good recent piece on Locke by Thomas G. West, to celebrate, as it were.

On orality and literacy

Jeet Heer writes a nice little note on Walter Ong for Books and Culture: A Christian Review. I have always thought Ong very interesting, and the more I have read him, the more I like him. Many important things are mentioned in this piece, from Marshall McLuhan to Hugh Kenner and Neil Postman, and then language, always words, the oral and the written, the warm and the cold, from Homer to Plato, from ears to eyes. Interesting stuff. Dip into Ong sometime if you think you are interested in "communication." Here is a passage from Ong:

"Because we have by today so deeply interiorized writing, made it so much a part of ourselves, as Plato’s age had not yet made it fully a part of itself, we find it difficult to consider writing to be a technology as we commonly assume printing and the computer to be. Yet writing (and especially alphabetic writing) is a technology, calling for the use of tools and other equipment: styli or brushes or pens, carefully prepared surfaces such as paper, animal skins, strips of wood, as well as inks or paints, and much more. … Writing is in a way the most drastic of the three technologies. It initiated what print and computers only continue, the reduction of dynamic sound to quiescent space, the separation of the word from the living present, where alone spoken words can exist." Or this (both from Orality and Literacy):

"Writing, in this ordinary sense, was and is, the most momentous of all human technological inventions. It is not a mere appendage to speech. Because it moves speech from the oral-aural to a new sensory world, that of vision, it transforms speech and thought as well. Notches on sticks and other aides-memoire lead up to writing, but they do not restructure the human life world as true writing does."

The Electoral College is ridiculous?

This New York Times editorial argues that the Electoral College should be abolished: "It’s a ridiculous setup, which thwarts the will of the majority, distorts presidential campaigning and has the potential to produce a true constitutional crisis. There should be a bipartisan movement for direct election of the president." And: "The majority does not rule and every vote is not equal - those are reasons enough for scrapping the system." And then: "And there is no interest higher than making every vote count."

Now, I don’t have the time--or the inclination--at the moment to go into this silliness, besides, I already have here and
so has the late Martin Diamond, as well as Judith Best, and others. What is noteworthy here is that the Times, also known as the mouthpiece of the Kerry campaign, is calling for it now. Why now? It is ignorant to talk about a coming constitutional "crisis" (there wasn’t one in 2000, for example), but even dangerous to talk about the small states being overepresented, or that the Electoral College thwarts the will of the majority. And it is just plain silly to say, as the Times does, that the College "distorts prsidential campaigning."
What forces these silly reflections on the deep minds of the Times editorial board? Kerry’s stalled campaign, that’s what. Or, as Mark Steyn so clearly argues in a piece across the pond, it turns out that Bush is a great poker player: a good poker player encourages his opponent to put all his chips in a losing hand. This is what Bush has done to Kerry. And Bush is now holding all the aces. Why now? Desperation combined with some foresight. After Kerry loses, as the Times thinks because he--it would seem--cannot win in a number of battleground states (read small states) the whole kit-and-caboodle has to re-thought for the next election. That may be the only chance for victory in the future, re-writing the Constitution and its core elements like federalism. Panic time. This will be fun.

Conservative Comedy

"Kerry’s wife’s speech at the Democratic Convention was a lot like a bottle
of Heinz ketchup -- slow, full of vinegar and after hearing it you wanted to
smack her on the bottom."

This zinger, and several others, may be found in this article in the Wall Street Journal about the "Right Stuff," a traveling comedy troupe that bills itself as providing "comedy for real Americans." Apparently they’ll be doing quite a few shows during this week’s Republican National Convention.

The not-so-swift national media

Janathan Last recounts how the media have handled--not handled, ignored, or mislead--the Swiftboat story; and how the alternative media picked it up and ran with it, checked the facts, and, eventually, forced the Liberals to at least mention it. It is a rip-roaring read, and is, as far as I can tell, exactly true.   

More on the Great Seal, much more

Someone reminded me (and I thank him) that

Thomas G. West had written a pretty good piece on the Great Seal of the United States, "The Theology of the United States: An Interpretation of the Great Seal of the United States." It appeared, originally, in Crisis (1996). As the title indicates, West covers the whole ground, as it were, and explains the difference between separation of church and state, how it is misundertsood, and how studying the Great Seal helps explain that the Constitution "does not require a separation between God or religion and state." Or, if you like, he shows how the
teaching of the pyramid side is meant to be a pictorial
representation of the political theology of the
Declaration of Independence (God as lawgiver, judge,
and providence). Excellent.

Kerry in 1971

Michael Dobbs, for the Washington Post, recounts some of the history and events of Kerry’s anti-war activities, including the original confrontation with John O’Neill on the Dick Cavett Show in 1971. I saw that back in 1971, and C-Span has shown it a couple of times recently, by the way. It is very much worth seeing! Never mind the slant of the piece (especially against Nixon); there are enough little nuggets (e.g., Kerry did attend--and continues to deny that he did--the infamous Kansas City meeting of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War in N November of 1971) in it to make it worthwhile. This will not go away.

Fahrenheit 1971

Our own Mac Owens gets around, doesn’t he? He was one of the first to go after John Kerry’s post-Vietnam positions and testimony, and he continues with this fine and hard-hitting piece from The Weekly Standard; it is entitled, "Fahrenheit 1971." People are now beginning to realize how radical John Kerry’s views of Vietnam were. Mac doesn’t go after Kerry’s record in Vietnam; he never has. But he has gone after Kerry’s actions after the war, and this is what the Swifties have called attention to, and this is what is seriously hurting Kerry. Mac starts his piece from this quote from Kerry’s book, The New Soldier (1971); read the whole essay yourself, it being, effectively, a rumination on this quote:

"We will not quickly join those who march on Veterans’ Day waving small flags, calling to memory those thousands who died for the ’greater glory of the United States.’ We will not accept the rhetoric. We will not readily join the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars--in fact, we will find it hard to join anything at all and when we do, we will demand relevancy such as other organizations have recently been unable to provide. We will not take solace from the creation of monuments or the naming of parks after a select few of the thousands of dead Americans and Vietnamese. We will not uphold the traditions which decorously memorialize that which was base and grim. . . . We are asking America to turn from false glory, hollow victory, fabricated foreign threats, fear which threatens us as a nation, shallow pride which feeds of fear." --John F. Kerry

As Mac says: "Kerry’s actions after Vietnam are reminiscent of Michael Moore and today. It was not enough for him merely to criticize U.S. policy in Vietnam. He and his friends in the VVAW were obliged by their radicalism to go after the United States itself."    

Here is the famous cover of The New Soldier, and the Epilogue, written by Kerry.

Bad numbers for Kerry

J. McIntyre at Realclearpolitics has a few good paragraphs on the slew of recent polls, national and state (with good links)--none to Kerry’s advantage, especially coming in just before the GOP convention--and concludes: "The next three weeks will be crucial for the Kerry campaign. To use a sports analogy: they’re no longer playing preseason games against Dean, Gephardt, Kucinich and Wesley Clark. Kerry is in the Superbowl now, and the reigning champs are staring to pound the ball up the field with a good deal of success.

Kerry and the Democrats are in a much more precarious position than the recently adopted Cook/Sabato/Broder conventional wisdom suggests. Senator Kerry must keep this race close over the course of the next few weeks, because if President Bush is able to build on his new found lead, Kerry’s chances in November will be seriously."

GOP convention bloggers

Bloggers at the Republican convention will include some of my favorites: Tom Bevan of Realclearpolitics, John Hinderaker of Powerline, Hugh Hewitt of, Edward Morrisey of Captainsquarters, and Allan Nelson of Commandpost. You might want to visit them during the convention.

Reason to carry a pocketknife

Alligator grabs dog by the head, dog owner pulls out trusty pocketknife, gets alligator in the eye, gator lets go, dog and man go home.

FBI investigates Israeli spy in Pentagon

CBS News is reporting that "the FBI has a full-fledged espionage investigation under way and is about to--in FBI terminology--’roll up’ someone agents believe has been spying not for an enemy, but for Israel from within the office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon. 60 Minutes Correspondent Lesley Stahl reports the FBI believes it has ’solid’ evidence that the suspected mole supplied Israel with classified materials that include secret White House policy deliberations on Iran."

What Else is "Seared" into John Kerry’s Memory?

On January 20, 2003--Martin Luther King Day--the Democratic presidential candidate gave a speech in Richmond, Virginia. "I remember well April, 1968," he told his audience. "I was serving in Vietnam--a place of violence--when the news reports brought home to me and my crewmates the violence back home - and the tragic news that one of the bullets flying that terrible spring took the life" of Martin Luther King.

Okay, but the senator didn’t go to Vietnam until November 1968. But, hey, it gave him a chance to work his war record into one more speech. (Thanks to Division of Labour for the link.)

Sistani’s virtu

I have always said that Sistani was smart and was the man to watch in the South, but Arthur Chrenkoff thinks he is really smart: "One thing no one can deny the Grand Ayatollah Sistani - he’s a smart man. Sistani returns from his surgery in Great Britain just at a time when al Sadr’s Mahdi army is facing annihilation in his home town of Najaf, steps in to broker a peace deal between al Sadr and Iraqi government, and in a space of a few hours he demonstrates to everyone who’s really in charge in the south. You might recall that Sistani left for London the day after al Sadr restarted his Shia uprising.

A mere coincidence or a clever plan? The upstart al Sadr’s radical and largely uncontrollable forces have been significantly degraded over three weeks of fighting, with the dirty work being all done by the ’infidel’ Americans; al Sadr himself has been humbled and put in place; the provisional Iraqi government is grateful for this respectable way out; and the Shias are ecstatic that peace has finally returned to Najaf.

Surely the Shia establishment in Iraq could not be that Machiavellian?"

Plan or no plan, virtu implies the ability to recognize opportunities. I remind Mr. Chrenkoff that it was the Allawi government (and the Americans) who allowed, and took, Sistani out of Iraq. It would seem that his medical condition--he had a stent placed in an artery--did not require immediate attention; he could have waited, or he could have gone earlier.

In any case, it would seem--for the moment--that al Sadr is afflicted by bad fortune. And that is the other side of the effectual truth of the thing.

Russian flights downed by terrorists

The Russians are now starting to claim that terrorism brought down the two planes. At least one of the Russian planes was downed by a bomb, it would seem. The Russians found traces of the explosive hexogen.

Little Saigon and Kerry

Pete Peterson writes in The American Spectator about little Saigon, in Orange County California. There are more Vietnamese there than anywhere else outside of Vietnam. John Kerry is not well liked in this "communist-free zone" for his anti-war antics, and also for his lack of support for the 2001 Vietnam Human Rights Act, which the House had passed 410-1 back then. As a ranking member of the Senate subcommittee on East Asian Affairs Kerry helped shelve the act. Kerry doesn’t have much support here. (Thanks to Powerline).

Kerry’s moment of peril

Andrew Busch article explains "Kerry’s Moment of Peril." Busch is very clear on attack on Kerry: "The attack has two parts, which together form a serious threat to Kerry’s position in the race. First, the Swift Boat Veterans allege that Kerry’s heroics in the Vietnam War were overstated and his wounds minor. Second, they insist on reminding voters of Kerry’s scurrilous conduct after he returned from service, when he devoted his energy to serving as a font of sound-bites for the North Vietnamese propaganda machine."

Taken by themselves these allegations don’t seem to be enough to derail a presidential campaign, so why have these charges taken their toll? The answer is that Kerry has staked almost everything on biography (almost to the exclusion of political record, or issues). So the thrust of the first Swift Boat Veterans’ attack brought into question whether Kerry’s self-image from Vietnam was accurate. But the second line of attack which stands on its own, and does not depend on the first. Busch: "Indeed, one could concede that Kerry’s version of his Vietnam service was entirely correct and still turn against him on the basis of his later activity. After all, whether one is a war hero might be said to depend on the overall degree to which one contributed to the military cause of one’s country. We do not call Benedict Arnold a war hero, even though he led the charge that broke the British at Saratoga. His subsequent betrayal negates Saratoga, as Kerry’s subsequent behavior leaves open the question of whether he cost more lives—American and Vietnamese—out of uniform than he saved while in uniform. To the extent that his actions contributed to the victory of Stalinism in Indochina, it is obtuse to consider him a ’war hero’ in any meaningful sense." Touche!   

Kerry’s 1971 testimony

Because this article by Mac Owens--who was one of the first, months ago, to bring to our attention Kerry’s testimony in 1971--generated so much response just over a week ago, he has written another in which he takes up these three points in favor of Kerry: 1) Kerry spoke the truth about the Vietnam war—it was brutal and unjust and atrocities were common; 2) Kerry had every right to criticize the war, especially since he had been there; and 3) In his April 1971 testimony, Kerry did not call all U.S. soldiers war criminals but merely relayed the charges of others.    

Fox News poll

Lucas Morel had the following comment on polls:

"Check me on this, but I believe that same poll showed that more respondents (i.e., a plurality, though not a majority) believed Bush would win the election than Kerry would. For what it’s worth, this question (’Who do you think will win?’ not ’Who do you think you will vote for?’) seems to provide a more reliable prediction of the actual winner of elections. In the fall of 2000, a prominent pollster visited a government class at my university and asked students, ’In my next poll, what one question should I ask people to help me predict the winner of the presidential election?’ After he scrutinized several suggestions, I said he should ask, ’Who do you think will win?’ He gave it short shrift by replying, ’Naw, I already asked that one, and the result was fifty-fifty.’ QED."

He is right, of course. FOX News Poll, of likely voters (which shows Kerry leading Bush by one point) says this: "A 43 percent plurality believes President Bush will win in November while just over a third (35 percent) believe Kerry will win. Republicans are more confident, with 72 percent saying Bush will be re-elected compared to 62 percent of Democrats who believe Kerry will prevail.

Just under half of voters (48 percent) say they would rather have Laura Bush than Teresa Heinz Kerry (33 percent) as first lady of the United States."

Gore Vidal’s opinion, then and now

Seeing Kerry’s 1971 testimony last night vividly brought back the real issues at stake then and even now. Kerry’s contempt, dissaproval of America, his smarmy exegesis of the root of our problems, our misunderstanding of ourselves and the world, and our insistance that we may have enemies that are worth standing up to, then communists, now terrorists, nicely leads into this Gore Vidal reflection on his "State of the Union" address of 1972 in the predictably far-left, The Nation. Surprise, things haven’t changed in Imperial America--his term that elaborates on how this is the country with only one political party, the "Property Party, with two right wings, Republican and Democrat"--in this land of opportunism and rank interest wherein he forees Enron coming and "socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor." Vidal is right, same problems, same election. Same outcome.

Bush leads in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Missouri

Back to the L.A. Times Poll: Bush now leads Kerry in three important states, Ohio (49-44), Wisconsin (48-44), Missouri (46-44). Says Ron Brownstein: "Like a national Times poll released Wednesday, the surveys underscore the difficulty Kerry has had converting a general desire for change into support for his candidacy." And then this, by way of conclusion: "But warning signs for the president continue to flicker through the poll." Thanks Ron, that was thoughtful.

Gallup Poll

The Gallup Poll has Bush leading Kerry among likely voters, 50%-47%. Bush’s favorable rating of 54% was the highest since April, Kerry 52% was his lowest since January. And then this:

"The president’s job-approval rating, 49%, is lower than Bill Clinton’s 53% in 1996 or Ronald Reagan’s 54% in 1984. But it is higher than the ratings scored by recent losing incumbents — George H.W. Bush at 35% in 1992, Jimmy Carter at 32% in 1980.

Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for the Bush campaign, said he is elated by Bush’s standing leading up to Monday’s convention.

’No challenger has ever won going into the incumbent’s convention behind,’ he said. Winning challengers Reagan and Clinton had double-digit leads at that point, he said."

Note a few other gems:
• Bush leads Kerry 49%-43% on who would handle Iraq better. Kerry was ahead 48%-47% in a poll Aug. 1 right after the convention.

• Bush leads Kerry 54%-37% on who would handle terrorism better. Kerry was at 41% on Aug. 1.

• Bush leads Kerry 54%-34% on who people say is "a strong and decisive leader." Kerry had halved that lead to 10 points on Aug. 1.

• Bush leads Kerry 51%-43% on who people trust more to handle the responsibilities of commander in chief, the same as before the convention. They were tied 48%-48% in the poll Aug. 1

Kerry’s 1971 testimony

C-SPAN ran John Kerry’s April 22, 1971 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I saw most of it (and had seen it before). I think someone favoring Bush should run it as an ad once week until the election. It would be worth a couple of million votes against Kerry.

L.A. Times poll has Bush in the lead for the first time this year

Ronald Brownstein, writing for the Los Angeles Times, notes that the latest L.A. Times poll shows "President Bush heads into next week’s Republican National Convention with voters moving slightly in his direction since July amid signs that Sen. John F. Kerry has been nicked by attacks on his service in Vietnam, a Times poll has found.

"For the first time this year in a Times survey, Bush led Kerry in the presidential race, drawing 49% among registered voters, compared with 46% for the Democrat. In a Times poll just before the Democratic convention last month, Kerry held a 2-percentage-point advantage over Bush.

That small shift from July was within the poll’s margin of error. But it fit with other findings in the Times poll showing the electorate edging toward Bush over the past month on a broad range of measures, from support for his handling of Iraq to confidence in his leadership and honesty."

Here is the whole L.A. Times Poll (PDF file, 25 pages). Please note that even Brownstein--always trying to write with care when the facts oppose his opinions--has to write for the first time this year in any Times survey wherein Bush is in the lead. You are getting the picture? Also see Steve Hayward below.

Timing Is Everything. . .

My timing, that is.

Back in the snows of winter early in the year, when Kerry was starting to emerge as the sucessor to Dean, I had a notion to write a long article on why I thought the election would end up refighting the domestic divisions over Vietnam. But of course being busy with a million other things I didn’t do it, and now I’d look like a Johnny-come-lately to the parade of the obvious.

One thought among many was that if the campaign re-opened the divisions over the war, Kerry would lose. It is important to remember that although the Vietnam War came to be unpopular with Americans, the anti-war movement was even more unpopular. (Todd Gitlin acknowledges this frankly in his book on the sixties, noting is was a fact that the left didn’t understand.) By highlighting Kerry’s contemptable anti-war activities, the Swift Boat veterans have blown a large hole in Kerry’s electability.

Several new polls out this morning show Bush moving ahead of Kerry by nearly the margin of error. It is easy to see how this will play out if Bush does indeed go on to win, and the Swift Boat effort is seen as the turning point. In a nutshell, the left will go ballistic, and the rancor of the next four years will exceed even what we have seen so far. For starters, Michael Moore will gain at least another 50 pounds.

If you thought the left’s resentment over the Willie Horton issue in 1988 was big, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. With the fund of Bush hatred already stored up, the left will scream about the supposed underhandedness and lack of substantive meaning of the Swift Boat attack for years--maybe decades--to come (just as the left never stopped whining about Nixon’s "red baiting" campaign of 1950 for Senate).

Ramirez Cartoon

California and outsourcing

Daniel Weintraub writes on a new study commissioned by the California state legislature (in the hands of Democrats) that "suggests that sending American jobs overseas, far from being a blow to employment, can actually help preserve existing jobs and create new ones."
The paper, prepared by the Public Policy Institute of California, warns lawmakers against trying to stem the practice by prohibiting offshoring in state contracts, noting that such a ban would drive up the cost of services and take money away from other programs in the budget." The Legislature has not yet released the study (which Weintraub already has seen). Weintraub: "The last thing they want is a study done in their name that claims shipping jobs overseas is not only good for the economy, but for workers as well." Since the Demos have been making a campaign issue of this, we shouldn’t be surprised that they don’t want to talk about it; the Legislature has already passed a number of
banning certain kinds of outsourcing and is headed for the governor’s desk. Virginia Postrell says that only a girlie-man would sign such a bill.

The study states: "Because of the dynamics of the U.S. economy and offshoring’s expected effect on productivity, the overall, longer-run effect of offshoring may be to increase living standards at home." Look for this study to have a national effect.

Harkin’s "coward" remark

David Yepsen, in an op-ed for the Des Moines Register, hits Senator Tom Harkin really hard for calling Cheney a "coward." Yepsen isn’t surprised that the Kerry campaign is already distancing itself from Harkin.  

Kerry and the culture wars

Both David Broder and Larry Sabato--neither one exactly part of the great right wing conspiracy--reflect on the broader meaning of both Kerry’s use of his Vietnam experience (heroism, to some) in the election and of those who will never forgive him for saying outrageous things about our troops in 1971. That they agree that the waving of bloody shirts and the culture war of the 1960’s has settled into this election--to the surprise, it would seem of the Kerry folks--indicates that even the relatively moderate pundits see the implication of the hubub caused by the Switboats’ shots across Karry’s bow.

The Great Seal of the United States as a civics lesson

This is a newstory that appeared in the Washington Post on August 18. It tells the story, in brief, of some middle grade students (in Ashland, Virginia) who, encouraged by their well intentioned but ignorant teacher, have been lobbying for a few years to change the back of the dollar bill. They want a shortened version of the Constitution to replace what is currently there. The WaPo article says, "You know, in the space now occupied by the eagle and the big green pyramid with the eye over it." And why would this be a good thing? Because it would be a good "civics lesson," and "people living overseas would gain a better understanding of democracy if they were handed a U.S. dollar and could read on it what the United States stands for."

Frankly, this is one of the dumbest things I ever heard of. And it is made especially idiotic coming from a teacher (and supported by a few Senators and Congressmen) who claims to be doing it in the name of teaching civics. Do they have any idea what the "eagle and the big green pyramid" are, and what they stand for? That they seem not to (nor does the writer of the article, apparently) is a massive fact that unfortunately reflects the state of our education in civics. Allow me to explain.

Before the Continental Congress adjurned on July 4, 1776, it passed a resolution asking Ben Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, to draw up a seal for the U.S.A. To shorten a longer story, which you can find here (PDF file, 25 pages), it was not until 1782 when the final Seal of the U.S.A. was approved by Congress. It is this that some folks want to replace with an edited version of the Constitution.

Look at the back of your dollar bill. The better known front of the seal has the bald eagle with spread wings, his talon holding an olive branch and arrows (13 of each), denoting the power of peace and war. The red and white stripes of the shield represent the several states, which support the blue (I know the colors are not on the dollar bill, but you can find them here) which unites the whole and represents the Congress. The whole shield, or escutcheon, is "born on the breats of the American Eagle without any other supporters to denote that the United States of America ought to rely on their own virtue." (in the words of Charles Thomson, the Secretary of Congress, who was tasked in 1782 to finally get it done). E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one) is on the scroll, clenched in the eagle’s beak.

But the reverse side of the Seal (sometimes called the spiritual side) is even more interesting and more to the point.
The pyramid, with 13 steps, has the Roman numerals 1776 as its base. That is what holds up the pyramid. The summit of the pyramid is the Eye of Providence in a triangle surrounded by a Glory (rays of light), and above it appears Annuit Coeptis (He [God] has favored our undertakings). Along the lower circumference of the design appear the words Novus Ordo Seclorum (a new order of the ages). Both terms are taken from the poet Vergil, but never mind that for now.

The meaning of the Great Seal has always been clear to interpreters. The Founders did think they were marking the birthday of a new world, of a new regime, one which would, in great measure, "become the cause of all mankind," as Thomas Paine said. This new order of the ages was the first to recognize the natural rights of all human beings to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, hence to self government based on consent of the governed. This is what Lincoln called "a standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all, and revered by all." It is on the declaration that "all men are created equal" that the great fundamental principle upon which our free institutions rest, including the Constitution. It would be a great error indeed in any way to fool around with the Great Seal, or remove it from the dollar bill. The proponents of this bill should uynderstand that, as should the author of the Washington Post article. This is not just a "big green pyramid with an eye over it"! It is the thing for which we stand, and is (again Lincoln) "the electric cord" that "links the hearts of patriotic and libert-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world." How about using the Great Seal of the United States to teach civics, rightly understood?

Mainstream media vs Kid Internet

The Belmont Club writes that the undercard in the Kerry vs Swiftvets bout is Mainstraim Media vs Kid Internet and the Mainstream Media has been forced against all odds "to accept the challenge of an upstart over the coverage of the Swiftvets controversy." The former "gatekeepers" are losing this existential challenge.  

On the dangers of being a pompous prevaricator

David Brooks makes a good point: It is to John Kerry’s advantage that the Swifties show their ad wherein Kerry’s words (and images) from the 1971 Senate Foreign Relations Committee are shown because that ad reveals that Kerry had an opinion matched to a passion. He is shown as a conviction politician. Alas, that hasn’t been true since. "Kerry’s speeches in the 1990’s read nothing like that 1971 testimony. The passion is gone. The pompous prevaricator is in. You read them and you see a man so cautiously calculating not to put a foot wrong that he envelops himself in a fog of caveats and equivocations. You see a man losing the ability to think like a normal human being and starting instead to think like an embassy.

Tough decisions are evaded through the construction of pointless distinctions. Hard questions are verbosely straddled. Kerry issued statements endorsing the use of force in the Balkans so full of backdoor caveats you couldn’t tell if he was coming or going. He delivered a tough-sounding speech on urban poverty filled with escape clauses he then exploited when the criticism came.

Most people take a certain pride in their own opinions. They feel attached to them as part of who they are. But Kerry can be coldly detached from his views, willing to use, flip or hide them depending on the exigencies of the moment."

Joshua Muravchik walks us through Kerry’s Cambodia whopper, and reminds us that this is something he has repated his whole adult life, yet it was not true. John O’Sullivan explains that the Swifties are after him because of his testimony is 1971, and that is not something Kerry can hide from; it’s on film and it’s not a re-enactment.
Rich Lowry
says that Kerry is taking an enourmous risk calling the Swifties liars; this is a civil war between Vietnam vets, and the vast majority of vets are not going to forgive him for what he said and did in 1971.

Jeff Jacoby says that the media want Kerry to win: "what is true for most people is true for journalists, too: When you want something badly enough, it shows." Mark Steyn adds a few thoughts of his own on how Kerry told everyone to "bring it on!" and now he is demanding that it be called off. I like these lines: "I said a couple of weeks back that John Kerry was too strange to be President, and a week or two earlier that he was too stuck-up to be President. Since I’m on an alliterative roll, let me add that he’s too stupid to be President. What sort of idiot would make the centrepiece of his presidential campaign four months of proud service in a war he’s best known for opposing?" Chris Lynch chronicles how not to run a campaign.

Language and thought

This is a short, but interesting article on

language in The Economist. It reports on a tribe in Brazil that refuses to be assimilated; they barter, have no concept of money, and, hence, it would seem, do not need to use numbers. No nimble thought here (what is language, what is the world without language, what do Chomsky and Whorf, never mind Aristotle and Rousseau, have to do with it?), but such things rarely make the weekly news.

"The Pirahã, a group of hunter-gatherers who live along the banks of the Maici River in Brazil, use a system of counting called “one-two-many”. In this, the word for “one” translates to “roughly one” (similar to “one or two” in English), the word for “two” means “a slightly larger amount than one” (similar to “a few” in English), and the word for “many” means “a much larger amount”. In a paper just published in Science, Peter Gordon of Columbia University uses his study of the Pirahã and their counting system to try to answer a tricky linguistic question.

This question was posed by Benjamin Lee Whorf in the 1930s. Whorf studied Hopi, an Amerindian language very different from the Eurasian languages that had hitherto been the subject of academic linguistics. His work led him to suggest that language not only influences thought but, more strongly, that it determines thought."

Wheelock’s Latin text

Although this AP story is mostly about a new edition of Wheelock’s Latin, the text most often used in college Latin classes, it mentions the publishing industry’s need to continue with new editions, even when not needed. A new edition of Wheelock will soon appear (the first edition appeared in 1956):

"There are photographs, maps and eye-pleasing layouts. Exercises reflect the latest pedagogical theory. Readings feature fewer battlefield dispatches and more emphasis on women and everyday life. There is even a dirty poem by Catullus.

Wheelock’s also has a Web site, e-mail discussion groups and, soon, online audio recordings.

’The times, they are a-changing,’ says Richard LaFleur, the University of Georgia classicist who took over the editorship of the series in the mid-1990s following Wheelock’s 1987 death. ’We want to keep up with the changes.’

Latin, however, hasn’t changed for 2,000 years. And where publishers see essential updates, critics of high textbook prices often wonder if new editions aren’t just a ploy to raise prices."

9/11 Commission Staff Reports

Before closing up shop, the 9/11 Commission released two staff reports. This CNN story claims that they "reveal tantalizing and important new nuggets about the 9/11 plot? including the possibility that 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta and another hijacker visited an INS office in Miami together in May 2001 with Adnan Shukrijumah, a trained pilot who today remains one of the most wanted al-Qaeda terrorists with a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head. The commission also revealed new but ambiguous evidence of a financial connection between one of the hijackers and a Saudi national in San Diego, and declares that this is the only known instance of a hijacker potentially receiving a noteworthy sum of money from someone inside the U.S." This is the Terrorist Financing (PDF file, 150 pages), and this is the one on Terrorist Travel (PDF file, 240 pages).

Kerry’s two Vietnams

Mac Owens pretty much nails down the Kerry, Swifties, and Vietnam issue in one good article. He says that he regrets that so much of the commentary stemming from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads focuses on what Kerry did in Nam. He thinks the real point of it all is what Kerry did and said after he got back. I agree with Mac in this and think that the Swit Boats’ efforts have already brought Kerry’s anti-war activity to the attention of the public. It is that activity that really makes the Swifties angry, hence their work. Mac’s last paragraph: "As a correspondent pointed out to me in an e-mail, each episode of the HBO series Band of Brothers, begins with a voiceover in which the narrator says of the World War II soldiers portrayed in the program: ’I was not a hero, but I was surrounded by heroes.’ In contrast, what John Kerry is saying in essence about his ’band of brothers’ is that ’in Vietnam, I was a hero, but I was surrounded by war criminals.’"   

Demos and 527’s connections

In case you are curious (and you certainly shouldn’t be surprised) about the connections between the Demos and 527’s (, etc) see

Jay Caruso and Questions and Observations. Also see this, and this.

Koch supports Bush

Arthur Chrenkoff applauds Democrat Ed Koch’s support of Bush, as do I. Koch calls himself a "liberal with sanity."

A Kerry note

Grantings is a new blog by one Elihu Grant. If you are looking for something thoughtful, written with verve, full of insight, you had better have a look. A taste: "John Kerry is now reduced to lashing out at the unstoppable force of nature in American politics: the frank and open deliberation of the American people. Thus, he is now calling for censorship of his critics, and declaring all challenges to his implausible Vietnam (and Cambodia) claims to be beyond-the-pale-of-discussion ’lies.’

These are the convulsions of being confronted with a reality that serenely refuses to bend to one’s will."

Olympics softball

The women have won the gold in softball in spectacular fashion. Congratulations. It is hard to imagine that the game could be played better. Compare this to the way basketball has been played!

Electoral College note

Paul Greenberg also supports the electoral college. It’s good, as far as it goes, but keep in mind that we are trying to establish a constitutional majority, and note the penultimate paragraph in this.

Worry in the Kerry Camp

Making front-page headlines in this morning’s New York Times is this story about the Kerry campaign’s new ad, which claims that those devastating spots from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth originated from the White House. What’s really interesting is this comment from an insider at Kerry headquarters:

Another Democrat close to the campaign, who asked not to be quoted by name, was more dire.

"When you’re basically running on your biography and there are ongoing attacks that are undermining the credibility of your biography, you have a really big problem."

In other news, Bob Dole has weighed in on the controversy as well, suggesting that Kerry apologize to his fellow Vietnam vets for his antiwar testimony in 1971:

"I mean, one day he’s saying that we were shooting civilians, cutting off their ears, cutting off their heads, throwing away his medals or his ribbons,’’ Mr. Dole said. "The next day he’s standing there, ’I want to be president because I’m a Vietnam veteran.’ ’’

Why liberals are liberal; and conservatives, conservative

Although no amount of modern science will ever replace Aristotle, an article in the New York Times Magazine says that some neuroscientists now believe that structures in the amygdala (the part of the brain associated with emotion) have a powerful influence on a person’s political opinions. Fortunately, the scientists do not conclude that conservativism is a mental illness.

Student plagiarists and their web sites

Suzy Hansen examines the ease with which a student can--via the internet--buy papers on just about everything. She gives examples of plagiarism web sites, costs involved, and the kind of paper you might get for your buck. It turns out that a custom-written paper on "The Great Gatsby" is pretty good, but costs $180, while the prewritten paper was awful, but cost only $35. So far I have avoided such mischief by assigning papers that are text based and entirely analytical (rather than research papers). But, still, it is a bit frigtening. I guess it’s a good thing that our students have less money than say those attending Ivy League schools!

Europe and us

Jose Manuel Barroso, the incoming chief executive of the European Union, is sounding reasonable. Note a few of his comments: "Some people in Europe may think that it is good that things are going badly for the U.S. I really think that is an irrational and a bad policy." He said he wanted a "good, close, cooperative" relationship with the U.S. This is not only in Europe’s interest, but "it is also in the interest of the world." He also said Europeans should "leave behind our disagreements over Iraq" and "give positive, strong contribution to the Iraqi problem." Now, that’s a lot better than what we have been hearing from some European quarters, just as John Zvesper had predicted a few weeks ago.

Presidential election and the federal principle

George Will is right in arguing that Colorado’s pernicious proposal to change the winner-take-all allocation of the state’s electoral vote into one of dividing the electoral votes according to each candidate’s percentage of the popular vote would be a horror. This appeals to simple-minded majoritarians and is extremely dangerous. Will explains why the current federal system is directly related to constitutional government rightly understood, which includes an appreciation for the two party system. This is a very critical issue. Also see the links the electoral college at the Ashbrook site. Those of you living in Colorado had better pay attention!    

Kerry and the POW/MIA issue

Here is something from the February 24th edition of the Village Voice on how Kerry covered up evidence of MIA’s in Vietnam while serving as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on P.O.W./ M.I.A. Affairs. This was dug up by Indstapundit. Thanks.

Video games and war

Clive Thompson has a very interesting (and long) article in today’s Sunday New York Times Magazine on advanced computerized combat simulations (video games) that the military uses to train soldiers for war.  

The blogosphere’s wild ride

Powerline writes an enthusiastic piece on how and why the blogosphere is affecting the elite media, driving the news cycle; and it is going to be even more exciting in the next few months. Also note the connection between blogs and talk radio. That the media has seen all this too late is a perfect example of their inability to think strategically and creatively, surely the signs of a slow death. Mors certa, hora incerta. Our guys are fighting the current and future war while they are preparing to re-fight the last one. That’s fine with me.  

Kerry questions

AP publishes a timeline of Kerry’s military service. But, as Instapundit points out, there is an error in the timeline. AP says Kerry was discharged in 1970, whereas in fact, he was in the Naval Rserves until 1978. (Also see Justoneminute). Instapundit points out that when Kerry managed to arrange a private meeting with North and South Vietnamese negotiators in Paris (the 26 year-old Kerry was visiting Europe with his new wife Julia Thorne), he was still in the Navy. But the New York Story in April missed this fact back in April.

Olympic Soccer

Iraq beat Australia in the quarterfinals to advance into the semifinals. Amazing.

CBS Poll

Just after the Democratic convention, the CBS Poll had Kerry leading Bush by five points. The latest CBS Poll has Kerry up by one point. "The race for the presidency is now essentially tied, with a gap between the two major party candidates within this poll’s margin of error. Voters are paying more attention to this campaign now than at this point four years ago, and their overall opinions about each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses remain relatively stable.

Just after the Democratic convention, John Kerry led President George W. Bush by a small margin; the recent tightening of the race reflects a loss of support for Kerry among some of this election’s most contested groups: Independents, veterans and Catholic voters."

Venezuela exist polls

Michael Barone has a lengthy reflection on the exist poll issue in Venezuela (read: election fraud). Note in passing Jimmy Carter’s unfortunate involvement in the matter.

527 money

Powerline points us to the twenty-five largest contributors to 527’s. It should not surprise you that only one is a Republican. Note that Peter Lewis has given about 14 million, while George Soros has given about 12 million. I think the Swift Vote Vets have spent about one million so far. I would say they are getting their money’s worth. Also see this morning’s Washington Post’s piece on the total amount of money raised by both the campaigns and 527’s. so much for campaign finance reform. As Charles Krauthammer put it about a week ago: "You wanted campaign finance reform. You got campaign finance reform. McCain-Feingold promised to take the money out of politics. If you believed that, you deserve what you got."

Bring it On: The Swift Boat Vets’ second ad

There is no question that the Swift Boat Vets’ ads are taking their toll on the Kerry campaign. Kerry wanted to make his Vietnam service the point around which his campaign would revolve, and his opponents have made Kerry’s actions and speeches after he got back from the war the issue. Kerry has already lost this costly battle. How he thought he would get away with it is a mystery to me. Take a look at the new ad the Swift Boat vets have put out. This is the ad that has been all over TV yesterday (although it won’t be used until next week.) A very serious ad, even better than the first, and is based on Kerry 1971 Senate Foreign Relations testimony. In the meantime some Vietnam vets in Viet Nam have come out in support of Kerry. I do not understand how Vets in Vietnam are supposed to be helpful to Kerry. This sends, shall we say, mixed signals. Glenn Reynolds thinks they may be working for Karl Rove! NRO has put out Kerry’s 1971 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Read the whole thing by clicking here. Also take a look at Fred Barnes’ very good article in the latest Weekly Standard, "The Bloody Shirt is Back." He is very presuasive in arguing that this remarkable attempt on Kerry’s part to show his wounds (compare this JFK not doing it, or Ike, or George Bush senior) might backfire. I say it will.

And take note of Bill Kristol’s piece in the same issue. Powerful. His last two paragraphs:
"John Kerry was hostile, to say the least, to the exercise of American power in 1971. He remained so for the next three decades. John Kerry was critical--to say the least--of America’s claims to moral leadership as a nation in 1971. He has remained so ever since. More than any presidential candidate since George McGovern, John Kerry is a creature of the anti-Vietnam war movement. His entire public career makes clear that he was and is--and I use this term descriptively, not pejoratively--a McGovernite. The difference is that George McGovern acknowledged this. John Kerry doesn’t.

Another difference is that McGovern had the decency not to tout his war medals. Nor did McGovern claim to be "reporting to duty" when he made his case for the presidency. By indulging in that gesture, Kerry turned a spotlight on his Vietnam-era actions and invited scrutiny he may come to regret. Kerry’s attempt now to suppress this debate will not work. In effect, and without intending it, Kerry invited his fellow veterans to ’bring it on.’ So they have."

Nixon’s legacy

Walter McDougall considers Nixon’s legacy at a speech given at the Nixon Library. While I am no Nixon fan (especially on domestic policy), McDougall’s piece is good. Notice that he considers some history textbooks’ views of Nixon, and what he finds. One Western Civ textbook mentions Nixon only once, that he visited Latin America in 1959 when he was pelted with eggs and rocks!  

Support the Swift Vets

There apparently has been lively debate among Republican strategists about whether the Swift Boat Vets’ efforts are helpful or harmful to Bush, but it appears from the reaction of the Kerry camp that they are deeply worried about it. Anyone so inclined to support the Swift Vets efforts can make contributions here.

Iraqi police enter mosque

This just came in from Reuters: "Police detained hundreds of Shi’ite militiamen when they entered the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf on Friday, but radical Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr was not found, Iraqi officials said.
A government source put the number of fighters in the shrine at 400 but an interior ministry spokesman said police who entered the mosque had found 500 lightly armed men prepared to surrender.

’There are 500. They were escorted from the shrine then the police will help them as much as they can. They may well be covered by the amnesty,’ Sabah Kadhim, a spokesman for the interior minister, told CNN television in a live interview.

He said radical Shi’ite cleric Sadr may have escaped the U.S.-led military siege of the Imam Ali Mosque."

Kerry’s faux pas

John Kerry has decided to speak to the issues raised by the Vietnam vets. He says they are a "front for the Bush campaign" and "When you’re under attack the best thing to do is turn your boat into the attacker." This I find a little odd, given the purpose of Swift boats: draw enemy fire, the enemy reveal their positions, you call in the coordinates, and others hit them. Perhaps this is what Kerry should have done; he should have others counter the vets. But now questions about his honesty have moved front and center in the campaign. And because he has already lost (i.e., found to lie) on a fundamental issue--being in Cambodia--the rest are details that reasonable men can disagree over: were we under heavy fire when we went back for the guy in the soup, or not; were his wounds serious, or mere scratches, etc.? But these disagreements have and will settle into the voters’ consciousness, doubt now will rule. When you add all this into his distortions and exaggerations in the past (e.g., talking to foreign leaders, throwing medals away, etc.) the sense that this guy smells more and more like Al Gore (the one who invented the internet) will settle in.

And this is Kerry’s fault. He has based his candidacy on his short Vietnam service; but he should have remembered how angry he made soldiers then serving (never mind those who were being held as POW’s) when he accused all of them of war crimes. He should have have talked about his Senate career. And it will do no good to blame a Republican conspiracy on this (which the press is playing up); yup, some Republicans have given money to these guys, and would the Liberal media complain if George Soros had dropped at least ten million on the project? I guess not. It is also counterproductive to threaten television stations with a lawsuit if they run the Swift boat vets’ ads.

Watching the media try to spin this will be more fun--although less consequential--than watching Kerry and his people sweat out a response. Even Mickey Kaus says that Kerry (and the media) made a mistake: "Respectable big-time journalist friends who met with the anti-Kerry vets recently found them a lot more credible than expected." Bingo. Watch this develop. After all, these guys are 250 strong, articulate and well decorated Vietnam vets! Right, keeping hitting them hard, as if they were a bunch of sleazy thugs, instead of being a "band of brothers." It won’t sell. Infidel Cowboy has a lot of detail with good links, as does Captain’s Quarters, as does Powerline, and, of course, Instapundit. I am not going to follow the ins-and-outs of how the The New York Times and the rest of the Liberal media is going to try to spin it, but I will pay attention--and try to figure out--the political consequences for the Kerry campaign. I think it will take its toll, and Kerry knows it, hence his personal response and accusation. I saw John O’Neill on PBS last night (and three other news casts) talking about all this, and he was very impressive. These guys will be hard to ignore. Kerry’s campaign folks must be seriously concerned, if not yet in a panic.

Liberty-loving technophiles blog

There is new blog out, called The Technology Liberation Front. Their purpose: "We aim to report on, and hopefully help to reverse, this dangerous trend of over-regulation of the Internet, communications, media and high-technology in general. We will not hide our love of liberty on this site and we will take every opportunity to castigate those who call for expanding the reach of government into these fields." And: "We are liberty-loving technophiles who are passionate about progress and suspicious of government meddling in the high tech arena. We are deeply concerned that Silicon Valley is gradually normalizing relations with Washington, DC. We fear that politics will slow the pace of innovation and corrupt the independent spirit of the high-tech world." It is written by a number of different folks from Pacific Research Institute, Cato, Heritage, Competitive Enterprise Institute, and others. Worth a look.

Chavez and vote tampering?

Did Chavez actually survive the recall vote in Venezuela? From the International Herald Tribune:
"The perception that a massive electronic fraud led to President Hugo Chávez’s mandate not being cut short in the recall referendum on Sunday is rapidly gaining ground in Venezuela. All exit polls carried out on the day had given the opposition an advantage of between 12 percent and 19 percent. But preliminary results announced by the government-controlled National Electoral Council at 3:30 a.m. gave Chávez 58.2 percent of the vote, against 41.7 percent for the opposition.

At first people scratched their heads in disbelief, including many Chávez supporters, but accepted these figures after César Gaviria, secretary general of the Organization of American States, and former President Jimmy Carter said their own quick counts coincided with the electoral council’s figures. Two days after the referendum, however, evidence is growing that the software of the touch-screen voting machines had been tampered with."

Also see this, by Thor L. Harvorssen from the Wall Street Journal for a glimpse at the awful ways of a tyrant.

Pulling the Plug on Federalism

Jonathan Adler suggests here that assisted-suicide legalization and regulation should be left to the States in order to preserve our federalism. Take a look.

Punchline Contest

This story just moved on the AP wire: Error Puts Ted Kennedy on No-Fly List.

Why the hell not? He’s already on everybody’s "No Drive" and "No Boating" list. Doesn’t sound like an error to me. Michael Moore should investigate, just as soon as he finishes eating the back half of his local Safeway store.

Re: Election Extension

I’m breaking summertime bloggins silence and my book-writing discipline to comment on Peter’s post from below about the rising number of votes cast weeks before the election by absentee. This is a perfect phenomenon for quantitative political scientists to study. My own hunch is that most early voters are partisans who have their mind made up, and are not likely to be swayed by late news, a last debate, etc. So it may not really make any difference to the outcome, though it will mean an even more maniacal focus on the "undecided" voters, who are typically a confused lot.

Of course we don’t really know. I’ve asked around a few DC political scientists (i.e., Norm Ornstein) if we have any idea about the cohort that voted early in 2000, and the answer is, we don’t.

No spectators in Athens

Richard Cashman, writing in The Australian, reflects on why there are so few spectators at the games in Athens. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Greeks are just not sport enthusiasts. "It is ironic that although Greece is the home of the Olympics, it does not have a strong culture of Olympic sport in more contemporary times."

"Although Sydney had less spectator capacity and a smaller aggregate of 6.7 million spectators, it set a benchmark for the proportion of tickets sold -- more than 90 per cent. This was an impressive take-up figure because it occurred across the board -- it included preliminaries and finals, popular and minor sports."

Reader’s Comments

This note is to bring to your attention our "Comments" section, in case you don’t read it religiously. I read it daily, and am grateful for the many thoughtful comments I find. There is some carping, but it’s not much. Most of it is learned, thoughtful, or witty. I appreciate it, even when I don’t agree. I don’t, of course, respond to much of it and only rarely bring an individual comment to your attention. But you should have a look at it when you can. My thanks to those who write.

Bush Country

To follow Schramm’s post on the election, here’s Horace Cooper’s latest analysis predicting a Bush November victory. Upshot: The country is just too darn conservative for the Kerry-Edwards ticket to prevail.

Ohio, the trump state

I would say--not in a self-interested way--that Ohio is the most critical of the so-called Battleground states in the election. In fact I would go so far as to say that most of the so-called battleground states are not really in play. A few examples: Bush will win the states he won in 2000: West Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Arisona, Nevada, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Florida (I also think he is going to take Wisconsin and Iowa, may take Oregon, but will lose New Mexico, all of which he barely lost in 2000). While I also think he is going to win Ohio, yet, the buckeye state takes on special importance because no Republican has become president since Lincoln without taking Ohio. And I believe it is also true that Bush hasn’t yet quite nailed down the state (although he will after the convention). This

Gallup Poll of Ohio voters reflects this. Gallup has Kerry on top with registered voters, but with those likely to vote, it is Kerry 47% to Bush 45 (Nader 4%). Without Nader (oddly) it is 48-46 for Kerry. Now, the margin of error is about 5 points, so all this--arguably--doesn’t mean very much. The main reason Bush hasn’t taken off in Ohio is because the economy here is perceived to be the main issue, and not the war. That has been changing and will continue to change, to Bush’s advantage. According to Pew Research: "For the first time since the Vietnam era, [1972 was the last presidential election in which national security issues were rated as the most important by Gallup] national security issues are looming larger than economic issues in an election year. Such issues as war, terrorism and foreign policy were named as the most important facing the nation by four people in 10, while one-fourth of those polled said economic issues were most important. In January, national security issues were even with economic issues in this poll." This will be to Bush’s advantage, nationally and Ohio. Iraq and the war have become, as I have always predicted, Bush’ trump card, while Ohio will become his trump state.

Election extension

David Broder doesn’t seem to object to the fact that the election is really weeks long and that November 2 is no longer the election day, but rather the last day to vote.

Muqtada al-Sadr’s last gambit

Whalid Phares explains with clarity who Muqtada al-Sadr is, and how he has gained the power that he currently wields (with Iran’s help and by assassinating his opponents). Very clear article. John F. Burns recounts the latest developments in today’s New York Times. The Iraqi government is giving him a new ultimatum that is going to go into effect "within hours." It is demanding that Sadr speak in his own name, rather than send memos or subalterns. No one trusts him. Also note that U.S. Marines have taken over Sadr City, part of Baghdad. I believe this is an important development; Sadr City had to be secured before the Iraqis decided to act against Sadr in Najaf. This is the first time we have occupied the whole area, and the first time Sadr’s army has had to fight us throughout Sadr City (and we have killed at least fifty). It is probable that Iraqi forces will do the rest of the fighting at the Mosque in Najaf (although we did all the preparations), while the Americans will do what has to be done in Sadr City, should there be another uprising there. This has to be ended, it has to be done and well done. This could make or break the Iraqi government and, therefore, our policy.

You might want to glance at the New York Times article from yesterday and note the paragraph about the 62 bad guys killed by Marine snipers. Note that this indicates the intensity (and precision) of the combat, and that so many are killed by so few. This "skill imbalance" (as Phil Carter puts it) is critical in urban combat, and that’s why we are winning such engagements. We have excellent warriors.

Diversity is best when less?

William Voegeli argues that it looks like some blacks are more equal than others, or, to put it another way, while diversity is wonderful, "it’s now going to be hard to explain that getting affirmative action right requires making it less diverse." Some Harvard alumns are quetioning its admissions policies because the "wrong" blacks are being helped. Eight percent of Harvard’s students are black, but the majority (maybe even two-thirds) of them are West Indian and African immigrants or their children, or to a lesser extent, children of biracial couples. That leaves only about a third of the students "from families in which all four grandparents were born in this country, descendants of slaves," as the New York Times puts it.

The Parties and Foreign Policy

In the LA Times, Ronald Brownstein argues that the Bush proposal to reduce the numbers of U.S. troops in Europe and Asia, and Kerry’s stated opposition to that move, represent a switching of foreign policy positions between the two parties. Brownstein notes that the arguments the president has used in favor of his proposal are identical to those employed by Bill Clinton in 1992.

Well, maybe, but this assumes that one ought to take seriously anything that Clinton said regarding foreign affairs in 1992. It will be recalled that in that campaign he faulted the G.H.W. Bush administration for leaving Saddam Hussein in power and "appeasing" Red China. Of course, once in office Clinton pursued a foreign policy that was practically indistinguishable from that of his predecessor. The current president’s policy broke with this tradition, of course, but this was more the product of 9/11 than any natural predilection on Bush’s part. As I’ve said before, I would expect that in the event of a Kerry victory in November the current strategy would continue, in large part, to be followed, no matter what Kerry the candidate may say now.

Koran stolen, village dead

The Koran, dating from the 7th century, is gone and farms lie untended and workshops stand silent in the Iranian village.
"Hundreds of villagers from Negel, in Kurdistan province on the Iraqi border, have held a week-long protest at the village mosque demanding officials hunt down the thieves and return the leather-bound Koran to its rightful home.

’The village is dead without its Koran,’ said one young woman dressed in the all-enveloping black chador."

Kathmandu encircled

I once had the chance to fly to Kathmandu from Peshawar, and didn’t take it. The plane seemed small and flimsy. I have always regretted this act of cowardice, having always wanted to see this far-off place. I am told that because Kathmandu had already declined my romantic notions would have been overthrown, so maybe it was best I didn’t go. That decline is likely to be even more precipitious given that

Maoist rebels have encircled the city and imposed a blockade. The Hindu monarchy is teetering. The U.S. "strongly condemns" the latest actions of the Maoists. This is the CIA’s Factbook on Nepal.

World Population

USA Today reports on a study by the Population Reference Bureau (PDF format): "Many of the world’s largest industrialized nations will lose population between now and 2050 as low birth rates, struggling economies and curbs on immigration stifle growth, says the author of a world population report.
The annual study by the private Population Reference Bureau found that, while the world’s population will increase nearly 50% by mid-century, Japan will lose 20% of its population in the next 45 years, while Russia, Germany and Italy will also see declines." If the current trends continue, Russia’s population will decline by 17%, or 25 million people. Bulgaria will decline by 38%. With the exception of the United States, which is expected to grow by 43 percent to 420 million people, other western developed countries will register population declines. Developing countries will grow about 14 times as fast as industrialized countries between now and 2050.

And India, the study claims, will overtake China by 2050 as the world’s most populous nation.

Rolling elections

Experts, that is, political scientists(!!), estimate that about 20% of voters will actually vote before election day (in 2000, about 15% of voters voted early). The campaigns, naturally take this into copnsideration, and will act accordingly. (By the way, an Annenberg survey found that early voters were 7.2 percent more likely to vote for Bush than Gore in 2000.) Apparently, 27 states now allow for unrestricted absentee voting. Voting laws have been eased over the years in order to get more registered voters to vote. What you end up having is rolling elections. In Iowa, for example, there is a five-week election day. This is foolishness, of course. I think people should vote on the same day and they should do it with paper and pencil. John Harwood also writes of this in the WSJ, and states: "Most of the potential battleground states in the contest between Mr. Bush and Sen. John Kerry will allow voters to cast ballots before Election Day -- without requiring a reason. In Iowa, early voting begins just three weeks after the Republican convention ends, on Sept. 23. In Arizona, where ballots can be cast as of Sept. 30, the Bush campaign calculates up to half the vote will be cast before Election Day, up from 37% in 2000. In Florida, where voting starts Oct. 18, the total of early voters could hit 30%, doubling the 2000 level." Note the chart at the end of Harwood’s article, pointing out that more than half of the battleground states have early voting.

Beer opener rifle

A reader responds to the video about Germans opening beer. "True fact: the Israeli Galil rifle has a built-in bottle opener on the bayonet lug, as specified by the Israeli military." Very clever, I say.

Germans opening beer

This thrity second video shows how clever Germans are in opening a bottle of beer. Click on the lower right-hand corner, "Nochmal abspielen." Amusing.

World War IV

Last night, on CNN’s Headline News, I saw a two minute clip on a meeting/demonstration in London put on by British Muslims. The whole thing was generically anti-Western, but the effect became especially powerful when two Muslims were interviewed. Both were intelligent, well-dressed and well-spoken, with educated English accents. Here is the gist of what they said (a near quote): "You Westerners don’t understand that your understanding of democracy, freedom, human rights, capitalism, and all those things you hold dear are nothing more than figments of your imagination. There is no freedom, no democracy, no human rights, except in Islam. And we mean this and you will lose. Islam will rule." I was looking into the eyes of an ideologue, of a fanatic, of a tyrant. Such scenes, and such graphic and and clear voices, will be replayed over the next many years, and we should be reminded of not only who they are, and what they stand for, but also of who we are, and why they hate us. It was shocking. More such interviews should be done and shown. I looked for it on CNN’s web site, and couldn’t find it.

Norman Podhoretz writes a lengthy essay in the September issue of Commentary (PDF file, long) called "World War IV: How It Started, What It means, and Why We Have to Win." In it, he says that he has tried to step back from the pressure of events "to piece together the story of what this nation has been fighting to accomplish since September 11, 2001." He thinks the only way to understand it all is by calling it World War IV. While I don’t doubt that much of this lengthy piece can be disagreed with, I also don’t doubt that it will be worth reading. I’ll try to read it tonight. In the meantime, the Belmont Club has a few good paragraphs on it.

Tom Harkin attacks Cheney

A reader has brought to my attention the latest oddity in the Kerry self-forgetting/lying affair: Sen. Tom Harkin is
attacking the patriotism of VP Cheney. But, "Harkin himself claimed to have battled Mig fighters over North Vietnam while a Navy pilot. He was a pilot, but never went to Vietnam," as
Donald Sensing points out. Weird, all this, I must say. There is more at Instapundit.

War on poverty and the "two Americas"

Thomas Sowell reminds us that it is the 40th anniversary of the War on Poverty, and also makes clear that it was not only a failure, but that it had awful consequences.  

Abducted reporter’s story

This is James Brandon’s (a Brit reporter in Iraq) first hand account of being abducted and then released. And here is the Belmont Club’s comment on it: "There’s a particular kind of exhilaration that people who have come out whole, not just physically but morally whole, from a deep crisis, justifiably feel. Yet ’to have no secret place wherein one stooped unseen to shame or sin’, as Guest once wrote, is also to be aware of how near one came to failing the test. Really brave men understand cowardice better than most. Brandon’s account unconsciously mirrors the bravery, ruthlessness, modesty and humanity of a man who has seen the Elephant, and rode away on it."

Active military in the Olympics

This story is on the eighteen active members of the U.S. military taking part in the Olympics.

Phil Carter has a short comment: " The Army, Navy and Air Force each sent servicemembers to compete this year, and a few are expected to bring home a medal based on what I read last week in Sports Illustrated. Of course, soldiers competing in the Olympics is nothing new. Warriors competed in Ancient Greece, and many of the events continue to retain the martial influence of those original games. Sports such as shooting, wrestling, and even men’s gymnastics contain some elements of military skill. Indeed, the modern pentathlon was originally only open to military officers -- a very young George S. Patton competed for the U.S. in this event in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm. (He placed 5th overall) Today’s American warrior-athletes can lay claim to a long and proud lineage, and I look forward to seeing them on the medal stand this year."

Islam and economics

Virginia Postrel offers an overview of Islamic economics (with a focus on banking) using the book, Islam and Mammon: The Economic Predicaments of Islamism by Timur Kuran.

Kerry questions

In trying to pay attention to the news again--moving a bit slow--and am finding that Kerry is a bit spooky, frankly; what is all this stuff about being in Cambodia on Christmas of 1968, listening to Nixon on the radio (when LBJ was the pres), etc. Weird.

John H. Hinderaker and Scott W. Johnson consider the Kerry’s 1968 Cambodia issue as fraudulent and ask why the media is not covering it. They have more at Powerline. Robert Novak has more, including the confusion between John Kerry and Bob Kerrey, and which was vice-chair of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee.

Basketball in Athens

A reader, Kevin, had a rational response to my irrational outburst (with the Poet’s help) regarding our BBall team’s performance in Athens:

"Re-USA Basketball Wow. I am detecting somewhat of a tongue in cheek post here. Pretty good, but I think that your ire is misplaced. This team was constructed on a flawed premise. The most talented players should not have been selected. The players whose game most suits international play (which is very different from NBA play) should have been selected. The A-list stars (and their versatility) declined to attend, as is their right. The B-list stars (and their lack of versatility) stepped into the breach, but they just don’t understand the international game. Better to be upset with the selection process than the players. The players are doing the best they can with the tools they have. The just don’t have the right tools."

How Kerry Would’ve Reacted on 9/11

Someone commenting on another thread raised this issue, but it’s worth paying greater attention to. On August 5 John Kerry hammered the president for the way he reacted to 9/11. "Had I been reading to children and had my top aide whispered in my ear, ’America is under attack,’" he told reporters, "I would have told those kids very politely and nicely that the president of the United States had something that he needed to attend to -- and I would have attended to it." This is something that filmmaker/gasbag Michael Moore attacked Bush for in "Fahrenheit 9/11," and it’s the subject of a screed by Bill Maher which is on Moore’s web site.

Fair enough, but if this is to be a campaign issue, it’s worth considering how Kerry reacted to the news that morning. Here’s what he told Larry King on July 8:

"I was in the Capitol. We’d just had a meeting -- we’d just come into a leadership meeting in Tom Daschle’s office, looking out at the Capitol. And as I came in, Barbara Boxer and Harry Reid were standing there, and we watched the second plane come in to the building. And we shortly thereafter sat down at the table and then we just realized nobody could think, and then boom, right behind us, we saw the cloud of explosion at the Pentagon."

Once again, we must ask which John Kerry we are to believe.


You may have noticed the empty seats at Olympic events. A bit of a panic is starting to set in. Worth paying attention to. You’ll start seeing schoolchildren being bused in to fill those empty seats soon, I’m betting.

Here is the first piece of good news from the games: Iraq has won its first two soccer games, beating Portugal and Costa Rica. I saw the Costa Rica game, and the Iraqis played pretty well. I also noted that the crowd was loudly on their side. Too bad many European politicians are not cheering. Good for the Iraqis! They have made it to the quarterfinals. Also note that Arash Miresmaeili, an Iranian judo champion, declined to get in the ring with an Israeli. As the Sports Illustrated points out, he should either be barred from future Olympic competition, or ban all Iranians because of their government’s action, if this was a state-sponsored act.

The USA’s basketball team was a sorry sight, and I have this say of them: You are no better than peevish baggage and pestilent knaves, you sluggards and popinjays, you are but guilded loam or painted clay, you malignant things, fools, cowards! You have all been touched and found base metal!
I hope the multiplying villanies of nature do swarm upon you all! Ignomy and shame upon you!
You overwheening rags of France, go live long there and let your misery increase with your age, or go to your kennels! There is neither honesty, manhood, nor good fellowship in thee! Each one thrice worse than Judas! You indigest deformed lumps! Shameless fishmongers!

Kerry and his faith

Joseph Knippenberg explains with wonderful clarity what John Kerry’s faith, and his "welcoming people of faith" into his campaign, really means. While there is no reason not to believe Kerry when he says that he finds personal strength and solace in his faith, Knippenberg persuasively argues that his political agenda is "faith-based in only the most attenuated sense." Judging by what Kerry said at the convention, Knippenberg argues that
Kerry’s "most authentic profession of faith was of his faith in the power of science to extend the scope of human accomplishment and power."   

Europe and Kerry

John Zvesper, writing from Europe, very thoughtfully explains why we shouldn’t exaggerate the anybody-but-Bush syndrome to be found in Europe, and also note (as many Europeans themselves have recently noted) that in the unlikely event of a Kerry victory, a Europe-U.S.A. rapprochement is by no means assured.   

Great trip

Flannery and I got back from our ride to the Adirondacks. We had a fine cabin on Upper Saranac Lake. Our bikes were flawless, the roads were winding and smooth, the scenery wonderful, the conversation, food, and drinks were perfect and plentiful. Add to this the humor of Chris getting a ticket for not having a helmet on--he rode out one early morning (in the middle of nowhere) to pick up a newspaper without his helmet--and the good became the best. The only flaw in the trip was the storm we rode through on our way home coming out of Buffalo; about a hundred miles in serious rain (not wearing our rain gear, of course!). We were wet from head to toe and cold, but, being the real men we are, we only whined about it for a day or so. Great trip, good to be back.

Why I Miss Georgia

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on a theater owner from Rome, Georgia, who after showing "Fahrenheit 9/11" donated all of the proceeds (a paltry $1,500--this is smalltown Georgia, after all) to the Bush-Cheney campaign.

McGreevey to resign

CNN is reporting that New Jersey Governror Jim McGreevey has announced his resignation. Apparently he’s been involved in some homosexual extramarital hanky-panky. Says McGreevey, "I am a gay American."

A Real Straussian Foreign Policy

A very thoughtful piece by Tom West about Leo Strauss and his relative influence on American foreign policy appears in the latest issue of The Claremont Review of Books. West argues that Strauss’ views on foreign policy are largely misunderstood and are not really guiding our mission in Iraq as some critics have claimed. If Strauss’ thought were guiding our policy, West argues our priorities would be more clear and, perhaps, more readily defended in the public mind. I’m no expert on this but it is a good read and offers a unique and constructive critique of the Bush policy.

Bush’s Second-Term Agenda

Free-market George Mason University economist (okay, that’s redundant) Tyler Cowen offers his prescription for what the president should do if he’s elected to a second term. Here are some of my favorites:

2. Tell Western Europe it is paying for its own defense from now on.

5. Strengthen America’s commitment to science. This will have implications for educational policy, immigration policy, and regulatory policy. Don’t restrict stem cell research. Hope that science comes up with affordable and politically sustainable solutions for global warming and clean energy independence. You might have libertarian objections to science subsidies, but the realistic alternative today is more government intervention.

12. Get on TV and tell the nation that a free economy is a critical source of our strength. Tell them you mean it, and then mean it. Economic growth is the greatest long-run gift we can give to the world.

By the way, for those unfamiliar with Cowen’s work, he is author of a couple of brilliant books: Creative Destruction : How Globalization Is Changing the World’s Cultures and In Praise of Commercial Culture (not to slight his other books, which I haven’t read). He has also assembled an extremely useful Ethnic Dining Guide for the Washington, DC, area.

Cleveland’s Channel 8 Tomorrow

FYI, I will be on Cleveland’s Fox channel 8 tomorrow at about 7:40 am to talk about Iraq.

Declaration as Treasure Map?

Has anyone else seen the trailers for this new Jerry Bruckheimer movie National Treasure? Due out in November, it stars Nicolas Cage as a "treasure hunter" who is on a search for the clues that are "all around us" (e.g., on the currency, eye of the pyramid, etc.) about a treasure hidden by America’s Founding Fathers. Apparently, the climax of the movie is when Cage and his associate discover that the final map to the treasure can be found on the back of the original copy of the Declaration of Independence!

My husband and I were out this weekend celebrating our sixth anniversary when we were subjected to the trailer for this movie. I haven’t had such a good laugh in a long time! I was in hysterics! It was like Raiders of the Lost Ark meets Conspiracy Theory meets Harry Jaffa! If there was a Saturday Night Live exclusively for Straussian types, this trailer would need very little editing to serve as a skit.

Needless to say, I was the only person in the theater laughing and my husband (an engineer) was both mystified and embarrassed! Too bad there doesn’t seem to be a real hero in search of the real treasure in the Declaration.

Kerry’s plan for Iraq

Here, as published today, is John Kerry’s plan for Iraq. It comes, probably, as a response to critics who say that he has not put forth a real, clear plan for what he intends to do there if elected. Is this all he’s got? If this is his response to the critics then the critics were more correct than they thought. He offers nothing here but more vacuous suggestions for more international involvement. But how is that going to happen? Why would that be good? No satisfying answer is given. Are we supposed to think the involvement would come because he is more popular than Bush? Because he’s "a better leader"? Because he knows what it’s like to carry an M-16? Kerry reminds me of every annoying pimple-faced would be student-body president I ever met in my life. He’s got nothing to offer but his smug little self and he really believes that that is enough.

Same-Sex Marriage and the ABA

Courtesy of the Federalist Society, apologies for the length, but worth quoting in full to get a sense of how the American Bar Association thinks about these things:

Same-Sex Marriage Panel
The ABA held a panel on same-sex marriage Friday afternoon, titled "Marriage Redefined: Separate, Equal, or Somewhere in Between?" Panelist Rabbi Joshua Lesser-who is openly gay and active in Jewish gay/lesbian causes including Atlanta’s Rainbow Center-said that the idea that marriage has remained static is a myth. He used history to tear down the current definition of marriage to illustrate that there is no such thing as a traditional definition, stating "Women in marriage were good for two things: procreation and property. This is true in the Bible." He cited the Bible a couple of times, referencing "Jonathan and King David kissed and embraced. Now I am not saying that there’s proof that this was a gay relationship, but I am not saying that there’s proof that it was not." He then stated that Jonathan and David made a covenant with each other to protect one another’s household. Rabbi Lesser claimed that contemporary society has itself redefined marriage from what it used to be: "To say that marriage today comes from Judeo Christianity is destructive to women." He said that one man and one woman is ignorance. In speaking about defining marriage on the basis of sex, he asks, "Aren’t we better than sexuality?"
Family lawyer Sondra Harris used history as well citing the Bible, Greek, and Asian cultures where there were more than two spouses involved in a marriage. She said, "Marriage is not about love. That is a Western idea born out of Medieval times. Marriage is about property." She brought up the Council of Trent, stating that the Catholic Church didn’t treat marriage as a sacrament until this time. She then went on to cite movements in the 1970s that saw marriage as obsolete such as the Free Love movement.

The chairman of the section spoke about how Fortune 500 companies are increasingly offering benefits, stating: "The private sector has recognized the importance of this issue. Government, however, is a little slow to follow." 150 cities and 200 colleges offer some type of benefit. This needs to be done to get the best personnel and professors, she stated.

Mary Williams, of the Coca-Cola benefits division said, "What’s the big deal." She said it doesn’t really cost that much to make the change to incorporate same-sex couples.

Panelist Tom Mulroy, chairman of the ABA Family Law Section Congressional Relations Committee, compared the United States with the rest of the world and was asked what everyone else has done with this issue. His answer, "Nothing. This is a problem that the U.S. and Europe have been tackling."

Panelist Shannon Minter, of the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, compared same sex marriage to discrimination of the past (i.e. interracial marriage, racism and people with disabilities). This discrimination is a "deep and scarring hardship for no rational reason." Attorney Kevin Clarkson of Anchorage-the same sex marriage opponent on the panel- responded, "There is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage." He claimed that the left is trying to use the Lawrence decision to redefine marriage. "You can’t claim the right to privacy argument under Due Process because there isn’t a long-understanding of a deep and firm routed history and tradition." Minter disagreed and said that Lawrence illustrates that "there’s no question that gays and lesbians have a right to claim the protection of the right to privacy." Clarkson claimed otherwise: "Nowhere in Lawrence does the Court mention same-sex marriage." When asked by the moderator what is at stake, Minter replied: Equal protection for children, family, and marriage as a tradition. "We can’t turn away from people who want to participate in marriage. What we are experiencing is a real test of constitutional and democratic principles that state we are all created equal. We will look back soon and ask ourselves, What’s all the fuss about?’" Clarkson responded: "What’s at stake is allowing the people to control public policy issues as well as the integrity of the judiciary. When the judiciary takes issues that are not in the Constitution and creates new ones, they are taking it out of the hands of the people."

Does anyone else get the sense that this issue will remain in the courts for a while?

Intifada in its death throes?

The Jerusalem Post has published a very interesting interview with Zakaria Zubeidi, the leader of Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade in Jenin. He says that the intifada is in its "death throes". Here is the last paragraph:

"It is a double-edged dagger," said Zubeidi contemplatively. "If we give up, then we live a life of humiliation. But to keep fighting – it only brings destruction."

Keyes vs. Obama

Alan Keyes has accepted the GOP nomination to run for the Senate in Illinois and Barack Obama has already agreed to a series of Lincoln/Douglas style debates. Whatever the outcome of this race, you can’t miss these debates!


I am riding my good old bike, and Flannery’s riding his all-too-pretty bike, to New England, and I’ll not be back until a week from Sunday. I’ll do nothing but read and write, well, maybe some talk. To keep up on some of the best articles, polls, etc., go to Realclearpolitics. Some good blogs to glance at: Powerline, The Remedy, The Corner, and, inevitably, Instapundit.

Kerry’s foreign policy

Max Boot asks whether John Kerry has a view on foreign policy, or, is he merely driven by politics. He looks at his voting record; it’s not to Kerry’s advantage. Peter Beinart, of The New Republic, praises Joe Biden’s speech at the convention and wishes that Kerry’s speech were as good. Kerry may be prepared to be commander in chief, but he lacks the imagination of one. George Will poses a bunch of questions to Kerry, some on foreign policy. The Belmont Club asserts that the Democratic Party seems to be a "war party" now. "Yet on closer inspection, their new determination to fight terrorism is still a Jim Crow form of pacifism, an effort to perpetuate the antebellum policies beloved by the Party base in acceptable phrases. There are warlike sounds without an enemy named; a candidate reports for duty without articulating a strategy for victory. It is the Band of Brothers speech without an Agincourt, either pending or envisaged. But it is the first crack in the monumental edifice of Left, and while small, a disturbing and tingling tremor runs to the top of its highest battlements."

Keyes in Illinois?

Alan Keyes has been asked to be the GOP candidate for the Senate from Illinois. He said he will think about it.

Kerry’s Schizophrenic Foreign Policy

Max Boot looks to John Kerry’s record on foreign policy to determine how he might treat the subject if elected president. What he has found, however, is confusion. When Reagan and Bush ’41 were president he voted like an isolationist; after Clinton’s election he was a born-again Wilsonian, supporting military action in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Haiti. And lately he’s been sounding like a realist, endorsing the hardheaded pursuit of vital national interests.

"This muddle raises the question of whether Kerry has a worldview, or whether he merely goes wherever the political winds blow. Surely it’s no coincidence that his stances track precisely mainstream Democratic opinion, which was isolationist in the 1970s and 1980s, idealistically interventionist in the 1990s and coldly realist since 2001. When the Democrats were split, as they were over Iraq in 2002 and 2003, he clumsily tried to appease both hawks and doves. Where he will wind up nobody knows — not even, I suspect, him."

"I abroad/Through all the coasts of dark destruction seek/Deliverance for us all."

A Milton scholar from Jacksonville State University in Alabama sees parallels between the Democratic National Convention and the assembly of fallen angels in Paradise Lost.

"When the devils convene in Pandemonium, a hall even more chaotic than the
FleetCenter, their base is energized with rage against the militarist they
blame for unfairly defeating them and ruling dictatorially. There are deep
divisions in the party - some want all-out war with God, others are doves -
but Satan unites them with two classic techniques."

Scroll down--it’s about two-thirds down the page.


The Brits are celebrating the 300th anniversary of Gibraltar being in British hands. It was ceded by Spain in the Treaty of Utrecht, 1713, made a colony in 1830. There have been two referendums in the last thirty years; they voted overwhelmingly to stay British. The Spaniards are not amused by all this. The Brits doen’t seem to care. Note the strategic importance of Gibraltar during the last three centuries. Gibraltar was, by the way, originally named Jabal Tariq (Tariq’s mount), named after Tariq ibn-Ziyad, the Berber who led an army of 7,000 to the rock in 711. I am told that later the Muslims changed the meaning of the name to the "Mountain of the Path", for the Path of Islam into the Iberian Peninsula, since tariq also means track or path, they didn’t want to give the impression that in their religious fervor they would name anything after a mere mortal; better to name it after the path of Islam into Iberia.

Alexander’s death

This is a short summary of the disputes over the death of Alexander the Great, some are now contending that he died from the West Nilus virus rather than thyphoid. I picked this up on an interesting site (sent to me by a former student who owes me a drink) called Archeologica News. By the way, does anyone know how many cities are named after Alexander in the Middle East (not in Greek, of course, but in various local languages, e.g., Kandahar, Herat, Eskandari)?

The Kerry Convention and Bounce

In all the speculation on the Kerry "bounce" and what, if anything, it means, I don’t believe I saw anything about the effect of the Ketchup Contessa on what viewers saw. I think myself that Kerry got what he needed
from his airy speech; it could be I overestimate Democratic anger.
I think it’s the Ketchup Contessa who throws doubts on Kerry. Now she is describing America under Bush as "hell." The Pickle Prophetess? And don’t you think it’s noteworthy that Bush’s first speech after the convention opened with
these lines: "perhaps the most important reason of all [for reelecting me] is so that Laura will be first lady for four more years."

Keyes to Run Against Obama?

The Indianapolis Star reports that Alan Keyes is on a short list of two individuals being considered by the Illinois State GOP to run against State Senator Barack Obama. The other person being interviewed is former Bush administration deputy drug czar Andrea Grubb Barthwell, a physician from a Chicago suburb. They will announce their decision today (Wednesday, August 4).

Korean missiles

Retuers says: "North Korea is deploying new land- and sea-based ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads and may have sufficient range to hit the United States, according to the authoritative Jane’s Defense Weekly.

In an article due to appear Wednesday, Jane’s said the two new systems appeared to be based on a decommissioned Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile, the R-27.

It said communist North Korea had acquired the know-how during the 1990s from Russian missile specialists and by buying 12 former Soviet submarines which had been sold for scrap metal but retained key elements of their missile launch systems.

Jane’s, which did not specify its sources, said the sea-based missile was potentially the more threatening of the two new weapons systems." Also see,
Jane’s Defense Weekly and

The Demo convention attacked from the Left

Rick Perlstein, a Liberal, writing in The Village Voice, is critical of the convention and the party: "A visionary party of opposition—you might even say a competent party of opposition—would place fixing inequality and stagnating incomes at the center of its political appeal. For all the talk of swing voters, of NASCAR dads and soccer moms, this is the way to beat George Bush—and to recover the Democrats’ former status as the ruling party in American politics. Instead, the party invites within its folds securities lobbyists who want to repeal the corporate tax. How do the decisions get made that produce this state of affairs? How, in this party of the people, do the corporations become the mainstream and the liberals become the insurgents? In Boston, I hoped to find some clues."

Saudi journalists

A reader brought to my attention this Lawrence Wright New Yorker article from a few months ago. He recounts his experiences with some young Saudi journalists (he was acting as their advisor) for an English language paper in the Kingdom. Good read about a bad regime.

A note on the Missouri vote

This is worth noting regarding Missouri’s overwhelming (71%) vote banning gay marriage. The Post-Dispatch states: "The wide margin may be especially noteworthy given that the Democrats outnumbered the Republicans at the polls Tuesday, as a result of the hotly contested Democratic gubernatorial primary." If this is true, then the opposition to legalization is even deeper than most have thought. Bush won Missouri by just over 3 percent in 2000.

A new citizen

A soldier becomes a citizen. Army Staff Sgt. Hilbert Caesar, an immigrant from Guyana, lost a leg in Iraq, serving the U.S. "Caesar, 26, is one of thousands of immigrants in the military to become citizens since President Bush issued an order in July 2002 expediting their naturalization. About 32,400 noncitizens are serving in the armed forces, or roughly 2.3 percent of the total." After the ceremony he yelled "Hoo-ah!" And then said: "I knew I was an American before this. I always knew I was an American."

Missouri favors state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage

Missouri "voters solidly endorsed a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, a decision that was closely watched by national groups on both sides of the battle.

With nearly all precincts reporting, the amendment had garnered 71 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results for Tuesday’s vote."

It’s Kerry’s to lose?

Will Saletan of Slate looks at the polls and argues that the election is Kerry’s to lose. It goes without saying that I disagree, but this is short enough--and clear enough--for you to contemplate.

No Left Turns Mug Drawing Winners for July

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

Judd Templin

Kelly Britton

Nancy Kilpatrick

Helen Siverling

Jim Krieger

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 August’s drawing.

New Yorker article

Hugh Hewitt is talking this afternoon about an important article in the current issue of The New Yorker by Lawrence Wright "The Terror Web" highlighting the extent to which the Al Quaeda terror network has mutated and grown--especially in Europe. Hugh’s point--the situation is much worse than we thought. E.g., a fellow quoted from the Institute for Peace who has been monitoring terrorist websites for 12 years said that the number of sites has grown to more than 4000 from less than a dozen!

Clearly, no matter what one thinks about any other issue before the American people in this election--there is only one candidate who will take seriously the pledge to keep us together as a nation to fight that battle another day!

Home schooling continues to rise

The numbers of Home schooled children continues to rise. "The estimated figure of students taught at home has grown 29 percent since 1999, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, part of the Education Department." Last year there were 1.1 million students being home schooled.

Philippine problems

The Belmont Club reports, in some detail, that the truce between the Philippine government and the Mindanao Islamic Liberation Front may be over.


AP is reporting that Kerry has argued that Bush’s policies encourage terrorism:

"The policies of this administration, I believe and others believe very deeply, have resulted in an increase of animosity and anger focused on the United States of America," Kerry told reporters after a campaign meeting with first responders. "The people who are training terror are using our actions as a means of recruitment."

His answer to this and every foreign policy question appears to be greater multi-lateralism, but to what end. He claims to have supported removal of Saddam, but seems unwilling to do anything without the support of the UN, and therefore of the French. But the French were doing quite well with their Oil-for-Food kickbacks from Saddam, and were enjoying the ability to buy oil at submarket rates, so they were surprisingly unwilling to consider removing Saddam.

The real chutzpah, however, came in a statement from Kerry’s spokesman: "I was not a mistake to remove Saddam," Kerry spokesman Phil Singer said. "What was a mistake was the fact that George Bush went to war without our allies, without properly equipping our troops and without a plan to win the peace." No allies? How about Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, and Ukraine? Time to invest in a fact checker. That statement, however, was simply an old canard. The real hypocrisy was blaming Bush for failing to equip the troops. After all, it was Kerry and Edwards who voted against the supplemental appropriation that bought body armor for the soldiers. I have yet to see a reasonable explanation of that vote from Kerry or Edwards. They claim it was complicated, but from talking to the troops who depended on that body armor, the vote seems far more simple. The real reason for Kerry’s vote seems obvious: he was getting engaged by the rising Howard Dean anti-war element of his party as the vote approached, and was attempting to appeal to that segment of his party in order to position himself to garner the Democratic nomination. He put politics above the lives of troops on the ground. He is, quite simply, unfit to lead.

Kerry in trouble

Andrew Busch claims that Kerry’s campaign is in trouble, and the Republicans have an opportunity: "Perhaps more importantly, the convention seemed to demonstrate what many Republicans and Democrats have been saying for months: The more people see of John Kerry directly, the less they like him. A debate, in which the candidate cannot be shielded by surrogates or cleverly drawn advertisements, will not be Kerry’s silver bullet. The Republicans, on the other hand, still have their convention coming up. Like an outlaw who has wildly emptied his six-shooter in hopes of hitting something, Kerry is now nervously watching the approach of the well-armed sheriff."

Mickey Kaus runs through the depressing poll numbers and asks, "What’s a Democrat to do?" J. McIntyre
explains why Kerry can’t spin the numbers to their advantage. While Adam Nagurney puts his spin on Kerry’s poor poll numbers, he admits this: "The numbers also mean that the two cleanest shots Mr. Kerry had for presenting himself to the American public until Election Day - his choice of a vice president and his acceptance speech - have passed without producing any dramatic change in the contours of the contest." Susan Page also rolls through the theories that may explain why Kerry didn’t get a bounce.

Bush/Kerry visit Southeastern Ohio

With Ohio now considered a swing state in the election, my old stomping grounds--Zanesville, Ohio--was host to John Kerry for one of his post-convention rallies. Interestingly, about 25 miles away and on the same day, the town of Cambridge hosted a George Bush rally. My parents and sister attended the Bush rally and report that despite a six hour wait and a pretty good midwestern storm (umbrellas, by the way, were forbidden as a security measure), some 10,000 people or more made their way to hear the President.

The Kerry rally, held the same evening, had a more modest showing--only about 7 or 8000, despite the storm ending and the special guest appearance of actor, Ben Affleck. Of the 7 or 8,000 in attendance, it is hard to say, of course, how many were there to see Affleck. It would be interesting to know what percentage of the audience was young and female! For more on the "Hip" John Kerry, see this from the L.A. Weekly.

I just returned from a two week visit to Ohio last Wednesday. I don’t think Bush will have to work very hard to seal up the vote in Ohio. A few more days like the one in Cambridge should do the trick.

Washington Post/ABC News poll

Washington Post/ABC News poll says that Kerry got a "modest" bounce from the convention. Kerry 50%, Bush 44% of registered voters. Pre-convention their poll had Bush 48%, Kerry 46%.

How to think clearer

The benefits of alcohol are many, as we know. Now there is more:

"Research to be published tomorrow by academics at University College London has found that those who even drink only one glass of wine a week have significantly sharper thought processes than teetotallers.

Sir Michael Marmot of UCL led the study
The benefits of alcohol, which are thought to be linked to its effect on the flow of blood to the brain, can be detected when a person drinks up to 30 units of alcohol - about four to five bottles of wine - per week."

The terror threat

The Washington Post and The New York Times both run stories on the origin of the "intelligence bonanza" which partly explains the raising of nthe threat level in New York, New Jersey and D.C. The two stories vary a bit in detail, but it does seem to be the case that the arrest of a 25 year old computer geek (al Qaeda IT guy?) a few weeks ago has

led to a "treasure trove" of information, including getting a "virtual playbook of the tradecraft al Qaeda surveillance teams use."
Interestingly (and probably correctly) the arrest of this fellow was not made public at the time of his arrest (July 13).

CBS poll

A CBS poll also shows no post-convention bounce for Kerry.

Why Freedom is Better

The National Center for Policy Analysis has published a study by economists James Gwartney and Robert Lawson entitled "Ten Consequences of Economic Freedom." It suggests, among other things, that countries with free economies tend to attract more foreign investment, have lower poverty rates, longer life expectancies, and less corruption, and are more likely to be democratic, than those that attempt to engage in central planning.

Zen and the art of counterinsurgency

Pamela Hess (UPI) writes a very interesting piece on counterinsurgency in Iraq (she is embedded with the 7th Marines in Ramadi).

Phil Carter says that it "reads like a primer on contemporary counterinsurgency theory." He elaborates.

On Robert Shrum

Although he may not be a household name, everyone in politics knows who he is.
Franklin Foer writes an insightful and good essay in The New Republic on Bob Shrum, Bob Kerry’s chief strategist and speech writer. Schrum has been around a long time, and is, to get to the point, zero for seven.  

No Bounce for Kerry, "Stunning", says Gallup

According to the latest Newsweek Poll: "In a two-way trial heat between the Republican and Democratic Presidential candidates, among registered voters, Sen. John Kerry/Sen. John Edwards lead President George Bush/Vice-President Dick Cheney 52-44 percent." This poll was taken Thursday and Friday. "Therefore, coming out of the final two days of the Democratic National Convention, the poll shows a four-point margin ’bounce’ in the three- way heat and a two-point margin ’bounce’ in the two-way heat." Newsweek’s analysis of the poll states: "Kerry’s four-point ’bounce’ is the smallest in the history of the Newsweek poll."

If this isn’t bad enough, note this poll by USA Today/CNN/Gallup, done Friday and Saturday. USA Today calls it a "stunning result." What is stunning? No Bounce. "The first time in the Gallup Poll since the 1972 Democratic convention that a candidate seemed to lose ground at his convention." In other words:
Before the convention, according CNN/Gallup, Kerry was leading Bush by one point (47-46%); after the convention, Bush was leading Kerry by four points (50-46%). What is the opposite of a bounce? What do you call a negative five point bounce? I don’t know. Strike one for Kerry.