Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

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.