Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The War on Terrorism

Peter has enjoined us to not dispute today how we make war on our enemies but he has also advised us that our proper anger be directed into trying to prevent a recurrence of an attack such as that we suffered on 9/11. It seems to me that there is an opening between the injunction and the advice and I will pass through it to post the following.

Eric Claeys recommends below that we read both Podhoretz and Codevilla to understand the war on terrorism. He should add Helprin, also in the Claremont Review, to the list because all three authors agree on the same fundamental and mistaken point. All three believe that states are at the core of the war on terrorism.

The attack on 9/11 did not require state support. In the future, if not already, devastating attacks on the United States with weapons of mass destruction will be possible without state support. Donations, the principle way al Qaeda financed itself, or the drug trade, which finances many terrorist groups, supply more than enough financial resources. The principal arguments and advice offered by Podhoretz, Codevilla and Helprin are irrelevant to the real fight. They are the rhetorical equivalent of ceremonial cannon fire.

To a degree that neither Codevilla nor Helprin will admit, the Bush administration’s strategy also assumes that destroying states will destroy terrorism. The Bush administration’s approach makes sense only to the degree that destroying regimes leads to democracy and democracy leads to an end to terrorism. The connections here are so uncertain in general and with regard to Islamist terrorism in particular that the administration’s strategy must be considered a gamble of historic proportions. To say the least, it is not the only way the war could be fought.

Newsweek Poll

A new Newsweek Poll shows Bush’s lead "slowly deflating." Bush now leads Kerry, 49-43% among registered voters. (A week ago it was 52-41).

Alexander Hamilton exihibit

The New York Times reviews the Hamilton exhibit that opened yesterday and co-sponsored by the New York Historical Society and the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History. Thanks to Ken Masugi.

Al Jazeera and the religion gap

Al Jazeera runs this story on how Kerry is closing the "religion gap." First paragraph: "A majority of Americans still give the Republican Party the advantage on the issue of religion, but John Kerry may be gaining ground on President Bush, according to a Pew Research Center poll." It gets better.

New Time poll

New Time Poll finds "no signs of Bush erosion" so far, he still leads 52-41% among likely voters. And Kerry’s standing on all key issues has slipped. Bush’s favorability is up to 54%, Kerry’s unfavorability has gone up to 42%, from 29% in early August. There is nothing but bad news for Kerry in the rest of it. Tom Curry of MSNBC has a good, clear, and relatively short, wrap on Kerry’s horrible week and shows how extremely difficult it is going to be for Kerry to pull the inside straight he will need to win (note especially his comments on Missouri and Ohio). This isn’t rocket science, but it is clear. Note the emphasis that is becoming near universal that the only chance Kerry has to pull this off is in the debates. But he will lose that too.

Three years ago today

It’s been three years. We awoke as if from a deep dream. The post-Cold War petty issues of the Clinton years turned into dust, as did many human bones in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. Life became serious again when we realized that there were people out there willing to attack and kill us because of who we are. Perhaps we should have realized that earlier, perhaps we should have even noted it after the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Never mind that for now. We do know it now and we know it because of what happened on September 11, 2001. The horror, the blood and dust, and death. And then the heroism and then the calculated response. Do not let the current politics, the current disgareement over means in the war against terror, allow this massive fact to be made less clear. Let us dispute how we make war on our enemies tomorrow. Today let us remember the event, and let our proper anger be channelled into trying mightily to prevent its recurrence. Let us renew our faith that right makes might and rededicate ourselves to the great task before us, that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth. And may the honored dead rest in peace.

AP-Ipsos Poll

AP-Ipsos-Public Affairs poll also shows a hefty Bush lead among most likely voters: 51-46 (and 51-43 among all registered voters). Also note a few tidbits:

"Seven weeks before Election Day, the Republican is considered significantly more decisive, strong and likable than Kerry, and he has strengthened his position on virtually every issue important to voters, from the war in Iraq (news - web sites) and creating jobs — two sources of criticism — to matters of national security and values."

"Since the Democratic National Convention ended in late July, the president has erased any gains Kerry had achieved while reshaping the political landscape in his favor: Nearly two-thirds of voters think protecting the country is more important than creating jobs, and Bush is favored over Kerry by a whopping 23 percentage points on who would keep the United States safe."

"For the first time since Kerry wrapped up the nomination, the AP-Ipsos poll suggests that a majority of voters approve of the president’s job performance — 52 percent. The lifts him out of the danger zone for incumbents."

It goes on, with not one piece of bad news for Bush. Even the Democracy Corps (Carville-Greenberg) [PDF file] agree that Bush is ahead, 48-45.


The Strategy Page is worth a look. The Belmont Club has some very interesting comments on this paragraph:

"U.S. troops maintain databases of who they are fighting, the better to pick targets for raids or surveillance. ... Daily, the smart bombs blow apart houses used by the gangs for housing, headquarters or ammo dumps. The gangs have become very paranoid, believing there are spies everywhere. They are correct, but some of the most revealing spies are unreachable. Above Fallujah, U.S. warplanes and UAVs circle constantly, able to clearly view what is below, day or night. The telescopic bomb sights allow pilots to see what kind of weapon people are carrying, or whether women and children are in a crowd. The gangs have learned to never gather in large groups, at least not without plenty of women and children nearby for protection. But that doesn’t always work, for the AC-130 gunships can kill a man without harming someone ten feet away. The gangs fear that the American troops are coming back to Fallujah, and they are right. The not-so-secret plan is to go back in before the end of the year, kill all gang members that can be found, and then turn the city over to Iraqi troops, composed mostly of Shia and Kurds."

Rather, biased

Ratherbiased is also following the Rather mischief. They note that CBS claims they are standing by the story, and quote Bernard Goldberg, the former CBS correspondent: "Assuming that at least some of the documents are indeed forgeries as they now seem. This is what happens when a news organziation operates in a bubble--a comfy liberal elite bubble. They WANTED the story to be true, so they apparently minimized or ignored any information that contradicted their pre-conceived notions."

Why Bush will win

This may be as good an understanding of the election as any I have seen.

I can only imagine the understated British manner of the English policeman (as reported by a friend):

"I like Bush because he is affable and if he says he’s going to bomb you he is as good as his word and I think that counts for a lot in politicians today. Articulate he is not but he seems to get by.

"I never could warm to Clinton because he fudged everything which probably means he was a pretty good politician. He will always be remembered for his poor judgement where women were concerned.

"As for Kerry he seems blessed with neither charm, determination nor political savvy.

"I think the Bush dynasty is safe."

Ramirez Cartoon

Podhoretz v. Codevilla: how to win the war on terror

I haven’t blogged much this summer because I’ve been busy with academic deadlines; apologies in advance if I make it all up in one posting.

This presidential campaign has taken some strange turns -- who’d have thunk we’d need to know about the design of 1970s-vintage typewriters to decide how to vote -- but when it’s all said and done the most important issue in the election is how well the Bush Administration is prosecuting the war on terror. From that perspective, I think the most useful document to read before the election is an article to which Peter directed everyone’s attention a few weeks ago -- this article by Norman Podhoretz. Podhoretz’s article, though long, is probably the best justification of and apology for the Bush approach available in article-length form.

As of now, it doesn’t seem as if the Democrats are going to propose a serious response to the "Bush doctrine." So, I want to ask here whether the Bush doctrine can be outflanked on the right. In my judgment, the most serious rival has been set forth in a series of articles by Angelo Codevilla in the Claremont Review of Books -- particularly the first in the series, "Victory: What It Will Take to Win." Let me spell out some of the differences.

Podhoretz and Codevilla diagnose the same symptoms. Tyrants in the Arab world started using terror against the West as a standard tool of policy in the 1970s. The West didn’t respond for 3 decades, in part because it was focused on the Soviet Union, and in part because foreign-policy elites in Western countries are ideologically blinded to the fact that Islamicists really do hate the West and want to kill Westerners. That said, Podhoretz & Codevilla differ about the cure. Podhoretz takes a more Wilsonian approach -- use the promise of liberal democracy as an ideological weapon to take the fight into the heart of Islamism. Codevilla takes a more Machiavellian approach -- the best way to win the war on terror is not to democratize, but rather to kill the tyrants and regimes that support anti-US terrorism and make it clear to their replacements that they will receive the same treatment if they resort to terror themselves.

I think it’s really worthwhile to read both articles and ask which is right. Too bad we’re not having a campaign in which the following questions are being asked: First, how much of America is opposed to prosecuting the war on terror vigorously? Podhoretz paints a really vivid picture showing that the radical left has mobilized against the Iraq war much faster than it mobilized against Vietnam. For Codevilla, though, the "left" --the segment of America that is unreliable -- is far broader. It includes CIA and State Department types and university talking heads who subscribe to Wilsonian internationalist commitments. Those commitments, Codevilla believes, virtually guarantee that the U.S. will bungle occupations like the Iraq occupation.

Second, how much is American warmaking tied down by domestic disagreements? Podhoretz seems to say that the Republicans must win in 2004 to guarantee that we will see Iraq through. Codevilla would probably say, however, that the Bush approach is bad military strategy. It is easy to maintain public support while fighting an army in battle, much harder to sustain support for an occupation. Better to follow a strategy that frees the military to hit and run -- to focus on tyrant killing and not nation building.

Finally, how much can the US do to create a liberal democracy in the Middle East by active intervention? Podhoretz thinks it likely enough to make the risks worth taking. Codevilla is more pessimistic. For instance, he wonders with what right and on what basis America would presume to remake Iraq as one single country. After all, the country is less than 80 years old. That’s as old as the US was as of the Civil War, and our differences then weren’t nearly as intractable as the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites’ are now.

Beslan’s legacy

Yesterday was my daughter’s second day of kindergarten (where I am working as an aide) and my son’s first day of pre-school (where he will go two days each week to allow me to work as an aide). During our morning drive to these schools I was listening to Laura Ingraham’s radio program. She was talking about Beslan’s legacy and why we should absolutely expect something like that here. Needless to say, this only added to my anxiety. While my daughter’s school is in a private home, the pre-school is a large, Christian school on a major thoroughfare in Southern California. I found myself checking out all the exits and entrances in the school. "Does the security system work?" I found myself asking. My son had a great day and loved his teacher, but I can’t wait until January when he can join us at the kingdergarten!

CBS Poll, and some thoughts

Although CBS is being talked about for "Rathergate" more than anything else at the moment, I should bring this new CBS Poll to your attention. Bush leads 49% to 42%. Basic confirmation of all other polls continues, in short. Also note that "The Bush ticket’s four point gain in support after the Convention comes in part from some weakening of Kerry support among Democrats, but especially from gains with independent voters. In this poll, for the first time since last spring, Bush holds a clear lead with Independents." Among Independent Bush leads Kerry, 48-39. Bush also has a 5 point edge over Kerry among women, and his lead with men is 15 points. Also note this: "Bush retains a clear advantage over his opponent in the strength of his support. 64 percent of Bush voters say they strongly support their candidate, compared to 43 percent of Kerry voters who say the same."

Every poll has Bush leading and having picked up substantial support in almost every category of voters. This is devastating news for Kerry’s prospects. Kerry is unable to become a serious candidate, it would seem. I have talked to a few people about this; I’m still trying to understand what his campaign is doing, what they are thinking, and what they are planning to do. As far as I can tell there is no thinking going on. They are beyond panic. Gloom has settled in. They understand that they have: (1) an inferior candidate, (2) they have no themes or issues that Kerry can address with any authority. No one is listening to him. Do you understand how serious and how weird this is? Look, everyone (I mean the Democrats) in Washington has always known that Kerry is an unserious person. (He also happens to be haughty, cold, and lazy). They now think they got this candidate by mistake: they were too focused on the nuances brought about by events in the primary season; would Iraq fall apart, would the economy slide, could the maniac Dean get the nomination, and Kerry was left standing. They knew even then that this was very problematic, but they thought it might work because since Kerry didn’t have any opinions of his own about anything or anyone, all the party leaders (read: Clinton and his people) thought they could influence him. And they did, on everything. He places Edwards on the ticket because he was told to, he talks about this and that because he was told to; he talks to Clinton the night before the surgery, and Clinton makes sure the world knows what advice he has given him, etc. Kerry puts up with it all. He does what he is told. Many in the party are now thinking that this may be a long term plan of the Clintons. Lose this election, what the Hell; even Hillary couldn’t have won it. And now--they are left hoping--that Kerry will not lose in a landslide. It is best for Hillary that he loses a close election. But, alas, everything is now confirming their worst suspicions: Kerry will lose in a landslide. Hence the gloom. Pay attention to polls from states like New Jersey, California, even New York. Once they start going South, (Kerry dropped 6 points in New Jersey, for example) honest and public despair will set in. Never mind the effect of the forged documents! It will take some effort to rebuild this moribund party, that’s for sure; unless you just want to leave it as a plaything for the Clintons for the next decade or two.

Kerry in Cambodia

Stop the presses! The folks over at The Politburo Diktat have turned up this bombshell document establishing beyond any reasonable doubt that John Kerry was in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968!

World opinion survey

Enjoying the nuanced shades of Southern France, John Zvesper continues to follow more serious affairs. His short op-ed on the Globespan opinion survey is worth a read. He thinks that those being surveyed may know more than the surveyors.  


I don’t have anything civil to say about the possibility of these frogeries that John Moser references, but you can follow the whole thing with, of course, great links, over at Instapundit and Powerline, who--it would seem--may be responsible for breaking the story.
Drudge claims that CBS is launching an internal investigation and Dan Rather is mighty upset.

I can’t help noticing that some Demos are claiming that if this is a forgery than Karl Rove is responsible. This guy Rove is really something isn’t he. What a genius! What virtu!

CSIS Report

John Zvesper points out that the Belmont Club has a good post on the CSIS "Progress or Peril" Report on Iraq. Note: "If anyone is hoping Iraq will become an infamous, unmitigated catastrophe, don’t hold your breath. This report does not predict it. If anyone is hoping that America will be able to leave Iraq in a couple of years to the tune of brass bands marching over a carpet of strewn flowers, don’t hold your breath either."


One of this week’s big news stories was CBS’s procurement of documents purporting to show that the president, during his time in the Air National Guard, had been stripped of his pilot status for failing to meet performance standards. Now, it appears that these documents are forgeries, and fairly clumsy ones at that.

Independent document examiner Sandra Ramsey Lines said the memos looked like they had been produced on a computer using Microsoft Word software. Lines, a document expert and fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, pointed to a superscript -- a smaller, raised "th" in "111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron" -- as evidence indicating forgery.

"I’m virtually certain these were computer generated," Lines said after reviewing copies of the documents at her office in Paradise Valley, Ariz. She produced a nearly identical document using her computer’s Microsoft Word software.

Wow. If you were going to all that trouble to forge a document from 1973, wouldn’t you at least do it on a typewriter?

Laura, Teresa, and the Cookie Cook-Off

From the print version of the Atlantic comes this amusing story:

"Each election year since 1992 the presidential candidates’ wives have submitted cookie recipes to Family Circle magazine, whose readers then voted for a favorite. So far the cook-of winner has always been the next First Lady. Laura Bush’s recipe this year is for oatmeal chocolate-chunk cookies, Teresa Heinz Kerry’s for pumpkin spice. But the predictive effect of the cook-off may not hold this time, because Teresa recently revealed that she doesn’t even like pumpkin-spice cookies; a panicked staffer submitted the recipe on her behalf after Family Circle determined that Teresa’s first recipe (for ’Yummy Wonders’) simply didn’t work."

"Yummy Wonders." I love that. Do you think that might have been a favorite back in her native Mozambique?

Washington Post Poll

The Washington Post/ABC News has Bush at 52% and Kerry at 43%, among likely voters. It is 50-44 among registered voters. "President Bush emerged from his New York convention with a solid lead over Democratic challenger John F. Kerry, strengthening his position on virtually every important issue in the campaign and opening up a clear advantage on many of the personal characteristics that influence voters in presidential elections, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

For the first time in a Post-ABC News poll this year, a majority of probable voters say they plan to vote for Bush." And this:

"Among a smaller sample in 19 battleground states, where strategists believe the election will be decided, Bush holds a narrower lead among likely voters, 50 percent to 46 percent. Among all voters in these states, the two candidates are running even."

CSIS study

This is the Center for International and Strategic Studies’ study, called Progress or Peril: Measuring Iraq’s Reconstruction, just published. I have only read into it. It is critical of the progress of our efforts.  

No good news for Kerry

George Will explains why even the bad news from Iraq or on the economy is bad news for Kerry. To be perfectly clear, there is no good news for Kerry; he is more of a hostage to events than is Bush. Will explains. The article by Jim Ceasar he notes in the Public Interest is not yet on line, it will be worth reading.

State Polls

Realclearpolitics has the state polls up, easiest access (on the right). Bush up by nine in Ohio, fourteen in Arizona, six in Missorui, one in Pennsylvania, etc.

Kerry in Cincinnati

Here is John Kerry’s speech in Cincinnati. It was tauted as a serious statement on foreign policy. You be the judge. I say this will not do, Mr. Kerry. Say something, say anything interesting. Say something that I disagree with, that’s O.K. But, please make a point, preferably one that differs from the president, especially on matters having to do with peace and war. Maybe it’s just that you are so sophisticated that I am incapable of picking up the thrust of your argument. I’m trying and I’m waiting. But this will not do.


The Gallup/USA Today Poll has Bush up by nine points in Ohio, 52-43.

World Poll favors Kerry

This is amusing. Drudge linked to this article from AFP on a World Poll. It turns out that a majority of people in 30 of 35 countries want Kerry to win the election. Many little tidbits in here (as if they mattered), including these:
"The only countries where Bush was preferred in the poll covering a total of 34,330 people and conducted in July and August were the Philippines, Nigeria and Poland." And "India and Thailand were divided." Canada prefers Kerry, 61% to 16% for Bush, and "Strongest negative views on US foreign policy were held in Germany, with 83 percent of those polled saying "worse" followed by France (81 percent), Mexico (78 percent), China (72 percent)..." Enough said. You get the point.

Muslims as second class citizens

AFP runs this non-story about how Muslims in America are being discriminated against and are drifting toward Kerry (if not running). The whole thing is worth reading (to get your juices flowing for the day) but I especially like this: "’Today, Muslims and Arabs are second-class citizens in the United States.’

The parallels between the experiences of black Americans and Muslim Americans have not been lost on ordinary Muslims like computer engineers Suhl Kahn and Badar Hussain.

’Blacks weren’t really Americans until 9/11,’ noted Kahn, in a wry observation on mainstream America’s shifting perceptions of ’us and them’ in the wake of the terror attacks on New York and Washington." Blacks weren’t Americans until 9/11! Did you get that.

Claremont Review of Books

I got my copy of the Claremont Review of Books yesterday and the first thing I read was a piece on Empire by

Carnes Lord. He reviews three books on the theme; worthy. I also read Algis Valiunas’ essay on Beethoven (not on line yet). Tremendous essay. Read it when you can. Here is the table of contents for the new issue.

Ramirez Cartoon

Alt speaks on Iraq

Busy day today, will not be able to blog until this evening. Robert Alt is talking on Iraq today. You can listen to it live (click on his name). It should be good. By the way, I saw Madelline Albright (remember her, the secretary of state who ran after Arafat to beg him to return to a meeting that he left in a tizzy?) being interviewed this morning on Kerry’s policy on Iraq and she was completely and utterly incomprehensible. It was embarrasing. I know, I know. Why am I surprised?

Fellow travellers with fascism

Christopher Hitchens has some insights on how some on the left ("Fellow travellers with fascism") are on the verge of justifying terrorist acts like the latest in Russia. His condemnation of the left-wing Nation is especially good.  And Youssef M. Ibrahim asks, where are the Muslim condemnations of such terror as took place in Russia?  

No Left Turns Mug Drawing Winners for August

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

Donald R. Klotz, Jr.

Shawn Lee

Nick Lashutka

Beth Vanderkooi

Patrick Kelley

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 September’s drawing.

Chechnya and terrorism

If you have the interest (and the time) you might want to see the Windsofchange for some good insights into the relationship between Chechnya and al Qaeda terrorism. There is a lot more at stake here than merely Chechnya, or North Ossetia. Long, but worthy, with many good links (at bottom).   

I Told You So

NLT readers may recall that I predicted last week that if Kerry loses, liberals in full meltdown mode will compare the Swift Boat ads to the Williw Horton ads of 1988.

Prediction verified in today’s Washington Post.

Just don’t ask me for any stock tips, or look back at my New Year’s even predctions last December, some of which don’t look very good right now (like certain dem nominee Howard Dean), though a couple of others are closer to the mark, such as media rumors about Dick Cheney’s health and his tenuous place on the ticket.

Women and terror

The International Herald Tribune runs this op-ed on the recent terrorists action in Russia. "The recent wave of terrorist attacks in Russia has been remarkably brutal, aimed even at children. There was, however, another detail regularly picked up by commentators and analysts: the prominent role played by women." And this: "All this amounts to a major shift in the operational modus operandi of Islamic terrorists. The events in Russia suggest that women are now the preferred tool with which to carry out ’martyrdom operations.’ If sustained, this would be a truly remarkable development." Why women? The points are considered. One is practical; everyone expects young Islamic men to be terrorists, so use women. The second is more interesting: Given that women have an inferior role in Islamic societies, and have no role to play in public, why have them play the role of "heroic martyr"?
The authors respond: "Symbolically, their participation sends a powerful message, blurring the distinction between perpetrator and victim. Even among progressive Westerners, the notion that women are the ’weaker sex,’ and that their inclination is to create and protect life rather than destroy it, remains widespread. If women decide to violate all established norms about the sanctity of human life, they do so only as a last resort. The scholar Clara Beyler, who analyzed public reactions to suicide bombings, found that ’female kamikazes’ tended to be portrayed as ’the symbols of utter despair ... rather than the cold-blooded murderers of civilians.’ If a woman was involved, the media focused on ’what made her do it,’ not on the carnage that she had created. In other words, if the attacker was a woman, it was the bomber who became the victim, and whose grievances needed to be addressed."

Kerry and Vietnam

The Boston Globe runs this long article on how Kerry (and his campaign) made Vietnam into an issue. Very interesting--Douglas Brinkley is omnipresent in the story--and slightly weird. You are given the impression that it all came about by chance, Brinkley’s book, Rasmussen (the guy Kerry saved) reading the book, calling Kerry (whom he hadn’t talked to since 1969) then the campaign taking it over, etc. Note the last paragraph (notice the Brinkley comment): "Whether this counterassault will put Vietnam squarely back in the win column for the Kerry campaign will become clear in the next eight weeks. Democrats, including advisers to Kerry, remain wary and uncertain, just as the candidate once was about telling his Vietnam story. ’Kerry decided to make Vietnam the centerpiece of his campaign for one clear reason: Imagine him without his military record -- he would just be another liberal from Taxachusetts,’ Brinkley said. ’With Vietnam, he could challenge Republicans on their strongest position -- standing with the military and with the American flag. Now you’re seeing the negative effects of that.’"

The cult of death

The horror of the massacre at Beslan, Russia, (over 300 dead, 100 still missing) forces David Brooks to reflect on terrorism as the cult of death. There are no causes here, but pleasure taken in killing and dying. Along the way he chastizes those who do not understand this.

Austen and Nietzsche

I find this irresistible from The Corner. Richard Brookhiser reports: "On C-SPAN yesterday, Harry Evans, the Brit-born publisher, said that when he revived the Modern Library imprint for Random House, the big sellers were Jane Austen and Nietzsche. I mentioned this to a clever friend, who had these thoughts: Ubermenschfield Park, Pride and Ressentiment, Also Sprach Emma Wodehouse,
and, my favorite:

If there were any truth universally acknowledged, it would be that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a transformation of all values."

Kerry on Iraq

I thought John Kerry was advised by Clinton to stick to the economy and domestic policy? The AP reports: "Democrat John Kerry accused President Bush on Monday of sending U.S. troops to the ’wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time’ and said he’d try to bring them all home in four years. Bush rebuked him for taking ’yet another new position’ on the war." Bush: "After voting for the war, but against funding it, after saying he would have voted for the war even knowing everything we know today, my opponent woke up this morning with new campaign advisers and yet another new position."

Eight year old arrested

An eight year old threw a basketball at another third grader, was cited for disorderly conduct because he "got out of control and refused to go back to class." He was then handcuffed and put in jail. Let’s assume that he did hit another kid with a ball and that he was unruly and behaved altogether badly. Pick the kid up, take him to a room, or even home, or call his parents, even spank him, if necessary, but call the cops on an eight year old, and throw him in the slammer? Amazing, if true.

Gallup Poll: Bush 52%, Kerry 45%

The USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll has just been published. This is the USA Today story about the poll, and this is the poll. The poll was taken Friday through Sunday, shows Bush at 52%, Kerry at 45% and independent candidate Ralph Nader at 1% among likely voters. Before the convention, Bush led Kerry by 2 percentage in the same poll (Aug 23-25).

A few notable details: Bush’s approval rating is at 52%; it was 49% in the last Gallup poll. 59% said Bush has the personality and leadership qualities to be president, 51% for Kerry. 61% said Bush would handle questions of terrorism better, 34% for Kerry (last month Bush was leading this by only 10 points). 60% said Bush is the strong and decisive leader, while 32% said Kerry was.

The USA Today article concludes: "Bush received a modest bounce from his party’s convention, while Kerry’s standing sagged in the USA TODAY poll after the Democratic convention. The president is driving both sides of the ballot: eight of 10 of his supporters say they are voting for Bush; half of Kerry voters say they are voting against Bush."

Rasmussen reports that "In the sixteen-Battleground States that are likely to determine the winner of Election 2004, President Bush now leads Senator Kerry 48% to 45%.

A week ago, before the Republican National Convention, Kerry was ahead, 47% to 45%. In fact, Kerry has been ahead in the 16-Battleground States for most of the year."

Rasmussen also reports this: "-Fifty-two percent (52%) of Americans now believe that President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney will be re-elected this November. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 38% expect the Democratic ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards to emerge victorious.

Those numbers reflect a big change from the last time we asked the question. Following the Democratic Convention, data released to Premium Members showed that 47% of voters expected Kerry to win while 43% took the opposite view." In short, the post convention bounce is beginning to shape up.

Iowa poll

About 60% of Iowans think that Bush will win the election. In a similar poll in July only 47% of Iowans thought Bush was going to win. And, perhaps even more significant, about a third of Demos and about two-thirds of the Independents think that Bush will win. David Yepsen, Des Moines political columnist, says this poll should raise a red flag for the Kerry camp here in Iowa. "This is a significant finding because a significant number of people think the president is going to pull this one out. You’ll even have Kerry people in here saying he’s going to win, so if you’re the Democrats you have to get your people pumped up here a little bit."

Electoral College tie?

USA Today considers the possibility of a tie in the Electoral College, thus throwing the election into the House. It’s not going to happen, of course. Since Bush will keep his lead (will probably drop down to about 5 points) there will less talk of this perfect storm as the campaign goes on.

Art and empire

The New York Museum of Modern Art’s exhibit in Berlin leads to some political discussions in Germany, just the kind you would expect. Clever piece, and revealing, written by the editor of Die Zeit. (Thanks to Arts & Letters Daily).  

Fertility rates and politics

Philip Longman argues that fertility rates have something to do with politics, and fertility rates have something to do with religious conviction and with Bush supporters. Utah has the highest fertility rate in the nation. "Utah annually produces 90 children for every 1,000 women of child-bearing age. By comparison, Vermont -- the only state to send a socialist to Congress and the first to embrace gay unions -- produces only 49."

"High fertility also correlates strongly with support for George W. Bush. Of the top 10 most fertile states, all but one voted for Bush in 2000. Among the 17 states that still produce enough children to replace their populations, all but two -- Iowa and Minnesota -- voted for Bush in the last election. Conversely, the least fertile states -- a list that includes Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Connecticut -- went overwhelmingly for Al Gore. Women living in Gore states on average have 12 percent fewer babies than women living in Bush states."  

Clinton’s advice on Kerry’s downward slide

The NY Times describes the "slow motion shakeup" of the Kerry campaign. Notice the irony that Bill Clinton, from his hospital room, (he is in surgery as I write, and I wish him well) has an hour and a half conversation--the night before his surgery--with Kerry in which he tells Kerry what to do in what’s left of the campaign. He tells him that he has to make a clear distinction between himself and Bush, he must give people reasons to vote for him! It seems that more of Clinton’s people (and Hillary’s) are being placed on the Kerry team (Sasso, Wolfson, Sosnik, Lokhart, Johnson, Greenberg, et al). Clinton told Kerry to do this, according to the NY Times: "In an expansive conversation, Mr. Clinton, who is awaiting heart surgery, told Mr. Kerry that he should move away from talking about Vietnam, which had been the central theme of his candidacy, and focus instead on drawing contrasts with President Bush on job creation and health care policies, officials with knowledge of the conversation said."

I find all this quite remarkable. But not only in the sense that there is a campaign shake-up; these things do happen when you are behind. What I find amazing is that--as far as I can tell--Kerry has no idea, and never has had an idea, on how to run his campaign. He simple takes suggestions from the Democratic elites, whether a Kennedy or a Clinton. They advise him to make his Vietnam experience an issue, then to take Edwards as his running mate, then not to respond to attacks on his Vietnam and post-Vietnam life, but not talk about his Senate career, then to hold a midnight rally after the GOP convention, then to start talking only about domestic issues, and so on. And everyone has been sucked in by the theory--pushed hard in the media--that there are no swing voters, that the electorate is polarized just like it was back in 2000. Clearly, if you assumed that, you assumed that 9/11 was unimportant, as was Bush’s reaction to it. Not possible. The eleven point swing proves it. Does Kerry have any ideas of his own about his own campaign? Does he have any judgment?

The problem with gay marriage

Kay S. Hymowitz argues that there is a connection between marriage and self-government, self-reliance, as understood by the American Founders; she calls it republican marriage. Very thoughtful. David L. Tubbs & Robert P. George contend that the redefinition of marriage that the proponents of same sex want will have profound, and ill consequences, especially for women and children. Susan M. Shell, touching on Hymowitz’s argument, contends that the liberal individualism (of, say Locke) demands a limit political and moral limit, proponents of gay marriage to the contrary notwithstanding.   

Kojeve’s Latin Empire and the EU

Robert Howse reflects on Alexandre Kojeve (and his paper "Outline of a Doctrine for French Policy," written in 1945, and published in English for the first time)

and Kojeve’s attempt to to establish a "Latin Empire":

"In 1945, Kojève understood that any attempt to rebuild France’s greatness as a nation-state would be delusional, given the hard realities of Anglo-American military supremacy as well as the Soviet fact. The latter decisively pushes Germany itself into the Anglo-American empire as a protection against the risk of absorption by the Soviets. Kojève seeks to convince de Gaulle that this is no reflection on France, since demographic and technological realities are such that no single nation-state in the contemporary world could ensure an adequate base in military power, that is without allying or affiliating itself with other states and peoples. Believing otherwise, according to Kojève, was Hitler’s downfall.

But, Kojève proposes, France can find political purpose and direction in an Anglo-American dominated postwar world by bringing into being and assuming leadership of a Latin Empire.

This empire would be a political and economic union of the Latin Catholic states of Europe, backed by an army — albeit one unable to stand up to Anglo-American military might (and probably not to Soviet strength either) if push came to shove, but formidable enough to establish a sphere of political independence from either the Anglo-American or the Soviet Empire in time of peace." Complex, long, but interesting, and not without policy implication for the EU,
and of our relations toward France and the EU.   

Citizens, not consumers

John Fonte has a thoughtful note on citizenship in the USA as he worries about the elites trying to deconstruct our idea of citizenship and assimilation. But, he sees signs of a better understanding of citizenship (and the oath taken) in Congress. 

Hamilton and 9/11

In the middle of Richard Brookhiser’s essay on Hamilton in the City Journal we find the following paragraph: "Hamilton played a minor role in the battles for New York in 1776, although he was here. But he played a major role in 9/11, even though he wasn’t. Almost certainly, neither Usama bin Ladin nor Saddam Hussein has ever heard of him. Yet the reason al-Qaida and its helpers and patrons struck the World Trade Center was that the towers symbolized modern America—Hamilton’s America. The United States is the epitome of everything the terrorists and their supporters hate, and New York is the epitome of the epitome. New Yorkers vote; they dream of a reign of virtue, and obey brutes. New Yorkers work; they count their oil revenues, and rail at usury. New Yorkers worship as they will; they recite a Koran they do not understand. New Yorkers of all races are free; they ship the survivors of raids in the Sudan to the kitchens and bedrooms of Arabia. In each of these areas—politics, economics, fundamental law—Hamilton was on the side of liberty, enterprise, and human potential, and against a world of stasis and arbitrary rule."  

German politics

Schroeder’s Social Democrats take a large hit in elections in the state of Saarland. They lose 14% of the vote; down to 30% from 44%, five years ago. This "was just the latest in a series of state election defeats for the Social Democrats since he won re-election two years ago. In elections to the European Parliament in June, the Social Democrats had their worst showing in a national ballot since World War II." Many fear that Schroeder will backtrack on his promises to cut welfare benefits, thereby plunging the country into a crisis. And note this on the looming crisis in both Germany and France. "With all eyes fixed on the American presidential elections, the scale of the looming crisis in France and Germany has gone largely unremarked. But it may so change the political geography of Europe that British arguments for and against the EU will be made redundant. A pervasive sense of decline in both countries, only partially justified but none the less virulent, is destabilising not just the structures of the EU - but the political systems of France and Germany." It could turn ugly.

The low grade Richard Dawkins

Stephen M. Barr, uses Richard Dawkins’ latest book (A Devil’s Chaplain) to not only take apart his atheism and materialims, but to raise the fundamental questions that Darwinism cannot answer. He calls the quality of Dawkins’ thinking far from impressive: "To call it low-grade intellectual poodling would perhaps be too harsh; but it is certainly not high-grade." Barr is especially clear on the moral implications of Darwinism, and reflects on the right questions: free will, religion, God.  

Powell to stay?

Newsweek surmises that Powell will stay on for a second term: Bush needs him, he will have more authority, he is worried that his reputation is at a nadir, etc. Notice the anti Bush slant in this short piece.


The king of Swaziland wants a 16 year old beauty queen to be his 13th wife. Life expectancy is 40, and about 40% of the adults are infected with AIDS. This is the CIA Factbook on Swaziland. The IMF has criticized Swaziland for luxury expenditures, but the king continues to build palaces for his wives.

Kerry in Steubenville, OH

NRO prints an e-mail from a reader who was at the Kerry rally in Steubenville; worth noting in full.

John Kerry came to Steubenville yesterday and quickly realized he was in the wrong city. Steubenville is a city where there are 6 Democrats for every 1 Republican, and the Steelworkers unions are alive and active. You would think this was solid John Kerry territory. The mob used to control Steubenville and now the unions think they do. Well, they are wrong.

The Kerry campaign first scheduled a visit to Steubenville two weeks ago but "scheduling conflicts" came up at the last minute. Oh, and did I mention that Kerry wanted to use a local gun range as a campaign stop, but the owner turned him down? And that the Fire Department Union President told the Kerry campaign that not only would he not organize the union to support Kerry at the rally, but that he was supporting President Bush! The Kerry campaign took for granted that this area was sown up. Mistake number one. So they rescheduled the campaign trip when Franciscan University was back in session. Mistake number two.

Before Kerry arrived there was a huge pro-life march led by Franciscan University students, 500 strong. "You can’t be Catholic and pro-abortion", read some of their signs. Students and members of local Catholic parishes were full of energy and FoxNews reported that this was the largest protest against Kerry outside of the Democratic Convention. Just picture 500 pro-lifers marching from their college campus to meet Kerry. Where else but in Steubenville, Ohio! Though the Franciscan University did not organize the event, it is well known for its orthodox Catholic education which encourages students to put their faith into action. These students simply cherish their Catholic faith and could not stand to let Kerry use their faith as a political prop. I am proud of my alma mater.

The Kerry campaign not only made a mistake in their timing, but they also chose to hold the rally in a public park which should be open to all the public. Mistake number three. The police chief, sheriff, and mayor all agreed with me that protesters and their signs would be allowed inside the Kerry rally site. Freedom of speech is alive and well here in Ohio. The Kerry campaign flipped out!

So, now add another 500 local Bush supporters to the Kerry rally. They tried to turn up the music but they could not drown us out. According to the Herald Star (local press), "The crowd, estimated by officials as 3,500 strong, was almost split in half with people for and against the Massachusetts senator." John Kerry must know he has a problem when over 15% of his audience was booing him. We were respectful and did not heckle him - but upon arrival and when he sought our applause he got something he didn’t expect. As the press arrived a feisty nine year old little girl began shouting, "We want Bush!", and we all chanted along. The campaign staff was beside themselves. This is history in the making! Even places like Steubenville are not supporting John Kerry. He is in serious trouble.

My friends, John Kerry will not be coming back to Steubenville. Kerry was visibly shaken when he received boos from the audience.....

Kerry’s fix

There is much talk in the Kerry camp about what should be done. Massive confusion rules the day. Whatever confidence they had a month ago, has dissapeared. They now know that if the election turns on the war, Kerry can’t win (unless, as I have always maintained, Iraq falls into a civil war); his attempt to have his convention showcase his record and heroism in Vietnam--to make him acceptable as commnder in chief-- didn’t work. They are now thinking about 1) either focusing all their attention on domestic policies, especially the economy; 2) having Kerry replace Howard Dean the anti-war candidate and call for an immediate troop pullout from Iraq; 3) or, somehow combining #’s 1 and 2 by not only being critical of Bush’s Iraq policy (especially post-war), but by trying to show that Bush’s war on terror has suffered because of Iraq. This is the only possible route; number 1 and 2 will not work. Stuart Rothenberg sees something of the problem and thinks that Kerry has to emphasize domestic issues. "He still has to argue that he has a record that shows he can protect this country. But for a while, it’s been nothing but that. They have to get back to their strengths. If the election is about the war and terrorism and Bush’s leadership, John Kerry is going to lose." Adam Naguerney’s report in today’s New York Times indicates something of this problem; he interviewed many Democrats (Graham, Rendell, Dodd, et al) and the comments are revealing; all of them, one way or another state that Kerry has lost control of the ball, he has to get tough, etc. I thought Graham’s remark was especially insightful: "It’s become a referendum on the challenger." Some fix.

L.A. Times coverage of the bounce

Los Angeles Times, one of the great Liberal dailies in the country, is not shy about being unbalanced. After both Newsweek and Time show Bush up by eleven points after the GOP convention, the Times entitles the newstory this way: "In the Home Stretch, It’s Bush by a Neck." And the first paragraph: "President Bush appears to have won at least a modest surge from the Republican National Convention this week. But as the campaign shifts into high gear at its traditional Labor Day starting line, Bush also faces a new challenge: an angry, energized Kerry who said he was taking off the gloves and punching back."

Compare this to their report on Aug 3, just after the Demo Convention, when Kerry
showed "at best a modest uptick" (at best a one or two point gain in polls). The Times explained then that because the number of swing voters was so small no real gain was to be expected. So, what happened to the lack of swing voters after the GOP convention?


Martha Nussbaum does not approve of shame, but Roger Kimball does. Good essay from The New Criterion. "I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself."  

The Archbishop weighs in

Flash news! The Archbishop of Canterbury calls the terrorist acts in Russia "evil." He recommends that terrorists, when caught, be given life sentences because “they were performing perhaps the most evil kind of action that we can imagine.” And he says that his faith has been tested.

Kerry crackup

Stephen Hayes thinks that Kerry’s midnight speech in Ohio, just after Bush’ convention speech is worth looking at very carefully: "Kerry sought to portray himself as an aggrieved but righteous politician, the innocent target of vicious Republican attacks. This is a substantial rewriting of history. Kerry and his campaign staff have been every bit as biting in their criticism--having, prior to this, called Vice President Cheney unfit for office and accused President Bush of using family connections to avoid serving in Vietnam. But the gamble for Kerry is not that reporters will point out the many harsh attacks his campaign has leveled at the Bush administration. The media wouldn’t be so inconsiderate. The risk for Kerry is that in a campaign devoted largely to convincing voters of his strength, assuming the mantle of victim does little to inspire confidence.

’For the past week, they attacked my patriotism and my fitness to serve as commander in chief,’ Kerry complained.

He later added:

’Worst of all, George Bush misled America when he took us to war in Iraq.’

That last line may have been the most significant one in the speech because it indicates that Kerry has veered sharply back to the Howard Dean/Al Gore/Michael Moore wing of the Democratic party."