Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Derrida is dead

The Parisian Heidegerrian Jacques Derrida has died. I’m tempted to deconstruct this, but I’ll just leave it as a postcard since my intention wouldn’t control the reading of the text. It would be the metaphysical illusion. Deconstruction is justice, Derrida said. I say Derrida isn’t even a trace; and that’s the truth.

Saddam’s long perspective

Michael Barone thinks that Duelfer Report gives good reasons for invading Iraq and deposing Saddam, and that the press is ignoring that part of the Report.
And David Brooks agrees: "I have never in my life seen a government report so distorted by partisan passions. The fact that Saddam had no W.M.D. in 2001 has been amply reported, but it’s been isolated from the more important and complicated fact of Saddam’s nature and intent."  

Kerry and Potter Stewart

Ken Masugi has a good note on Kerry’s use of Justice Potter Stewart as an example of the kind of Justice he would like to appoint to the Supremes.

Australia and us

The Belmont Club nails down the meaning and the importance of the Australian election. It appears that John Howard has by 52-47% (with circa 75% of the votes tallied), and this means that his majority will have increased. The Belmont Club explains why this proves the "depleted nature of Leftist politics." It looks as though Labor has lost ground to the Greens and they are relying on personalities or messengers rather than a message. That is, look at today’s (and tomorrow’s) U.S. Demnocratic Party). And then this, with obvious relevance to us:

"The really horrifying thing about Howard’s victory for Labor is that it proves that packaging and spin are ultimately dead ends. It is a cul-de-sac lined with klieg lights and celebrity occasions, but there is no exit all the same because it is the platform of the Labor party that is rotten. The hodge-podge of wacky environmentalists, professional victims, special sexual pleaders etc. have laid a dead hand on attempts to regard any issue, like the War on Terror, with anything approaching common sense. How else to explain why Labor should offer a country of 20 million people, living in close proximity to Indonesia, the chance to downgrade their alliance with the United States.

"If the Left were thinking clearly, it would realize that the single most striking aspect of George W. Bush is how ordinary he is. There is nothing in his strategy to combat terrorism beyond a refined common sense. He represents a threat to Liberalism for precisely the reason that an everyman reacting to an extraordinary historical challenge imperils kings and hereditary elites: the prospect he may discove by success in action that royalty with its cant and obscurantism is no better than he."

"Let’s welcome back on to the world stage the man deemed intellectually inferior to all his Labor opponents; a person said to be singularly lacking in refinement and bereft of nuance. The man who for nearly ten years beat them all and has won another term. Australian Prime Minister John Howard."  

Howard Wins in Australia

This just in from CNN:

Australia has returned incumbent Prime Minister John Howard for a fourth consecutive term of government, probably with an increased majority in the Parliament.

As Australia was a partner in the Iraq War, this cannot help but augur well for Bush’s chances in November.

Who’s afraid of Kerry’s tax plan?

Did anyone else catch the arrogance in Kerry’s remark to the audience that the only people in that room who would be affected by his tax plan were himself, the President, and Charles Gibson? Does he have some magic powers that allow him to determine a person’s annual income just by looking him over? The nerve of him! Well, he does have an uncanny ability to zero in on rich women.

Bush did a good job explaining how rolling back the tax cuts would hurt the middle class--even if it only taxed people making over $200,000. But more can be said on that. Good opportunity for political hay over the next few days.

Bush wins this one

There is no question that Bush won this one. He was clear lucid, clearly thinking aloud, rather than repeating old lines, which is what Kerry did. Kerry was too forward, a bit too in-your-face mode, lecturing, if not hectoring Bush. It wasn’t to Kerry’s advantage. The format was perfect for Bush. I am also pleased that Bush called him a Liberal, rather than simply a fli-flopper. I loved his clarity regarding abortion and the (complex) stem cell issue. Kerry, on the other hand, twisted and turned. Advantage Bush, and it should be reflected in the polls next week.

Some Electoral College calculations

J. McIntyre at RealClearPolitics has a nice essay on the way he thinks the Electoral College sits today. Kerry has made up some ground, especially in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Iowa, he thinks. But, Kerry still has an uphill battle; let McIntyre explain it. Note that Kerry hasn’t moved up in Florida and that Bush seems to be ahead in Wisconsin. Is it possible that Kerry could win Ohio and still lose the election? Also note: "Pennsylvania and Florida are must wins for Kerry and Bush respectively, a Bush loss in Florida or a Kerry loss in Pennsylvania means the election is over." A good read.   

Ironies and immaturities

Now that Ms. Heinz-Kerry has revealed on the Dr. Phil show that the secret to marital happiness is for women to understand and appreciate that all men are really just little boys (about that, volumes might be said) perhaps the ironies and inconsistencies of the Kerry foreign policy might be better understood as immaturities. Prudence in politics requires a level of maturity that can accept and understand priorities and inconsistencies. It aims for both the good and the possible. In every respect, Kerry lacks it. His whining in the first debate about our continued work on bunker-busting nuclear technology while we condemn other nations for their nuclear programs is only one, very glaring, example of this immaturity.

Everyone should understand that John Kerry is like the very clever student who catches on to facts and information so quickly that he never has time to chew on it. You would not describe this student as insightful because his opinions consist entirely of weighing and measuring disconnected bits of information with no unifying theme. His speed at aquiring this information has earned him praise as a boy and breeded arrogance in the man. His ability to reason has never matured. He sees nothing higher than his own clever wit. He cannot think long and he cannot think deep. Combine this lack of mental exercise with the prevailing moral relativism and you begin to understand why the young Kerry who could not see that a loss in Vietnam was only one step toward winning the larger Cold War is the same Kerry who sees no connection between a global war on Islamo-fascist terrorism and our efforts in Iraq. The action in Iraq is mistakenly called a war--it is really a battle. Kerry will never understand that. He’s too enchanted by his ability to point out that there is no known connection between Iraq and 9/11. He’s not a September 10, 2001 American . . . he’s a December 6, 1941 American.

Duelfer Report

Here is the Comprehensive Report of the
Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence
Iraq’s WMD by Charles Duelfer. (It is about 1,000 pages long.) Claudia Rosett argues that "Duelfer may not have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but he sure found information enough to blow the lid off the simmering scandal of the United Nations Oil-for-Food program. As it turns out, Oil-for-Food pretty much was Saddam Hussein’s weapons program." Also see this short CNN
story on the corruption. And note Matthew Continetti’s attack on the New York Times’ spin. Also note that the Economist
sees the essence of the Duelfer Report.

Bremer’s response

L. Paul Bremer writes an op-ed for The New York Times. Note a few items: "The press has been curiously reluctant to report my constant public support for the president’s strategy in Iraq and his policies to fight terrorism. I have been involved in the war on terrorism for two decades, and in my view no world leader has better understood the stakes in this global war than President Bush." And the last two paragraphs:

"Mr. Kerry is free to quote my comments about Iraq. But for the sake of honesty he should also point out that I have repeatedly said, including in all my speeches in recent weeks, that President Bush made a correct and courageous decision to liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein’s brutality, and that the president is correct to see the war in Iraq as a central front in the war on terrorism.

"A year and a half ago, President Bush asked me to come to the Oval Office to discuss my going to Iraq to head the coalition authority. He asked me bluntly, "Why would you want to leave private life and take on such a difficult, dangerous and probably thankless job?" Without hesitation, I answered, "Because I believe in your vision for Iraq and would be honored to help you make it a reality." Today America and the coalition are making steady progress toward that vision."

By the way, Bremer will giving the first annual Michael G. Oxley lecture in Manfield on October 21. Tickets are available.

The Americanization of God

Christopher Levenick reviews three books on religion and America by George Marsden, Mark Knoll, and Richard Carwardine. Concluding paragraph: "Each of these books makes a major contribution to our understanding of America’s religious heritage, and each deserves the lavish praise it has received. Yet all three authors make an argument that perhaps says more about their modern-day sensibilities than it does about the objects of their study. They all take care to present Edwards and Lincoln as having eventually abandoned the idea that God had somehow set America apart from the rest of dreary human history. If ordinary Americans imagined themselves as a new Israel, the authors claim, better minds recognized the notion as sanctimonious vanity. Edwards, for example, speculated that only revivals in the New World could presage the millennium; Marsden finds the argument ’tortured’ and implies that Edwards later abandoned it. Similarly, because Lincoln once alluded to America as an "almost chosen people," Noll concludes that Lincoln doubted "whether America was the people of God." Carwardine likewise writes that Lincoln "distrusted" the "certainty of moral superiority" and "acute millennial consciousness" of Northern evangelicals. But there remains considerable evidence that both Edwards and Lincoln shared with their contemporaries the sense that America was called from above to great and noble things. In a day when American exceptionalism is roundly decried, it is apparently inconceivable to these authors that the keenest theological minds this land has yet produced may have shared with so many of their compatriots a deep and heartfelt faith in America."

Arkansas measure banning gay marriage

The Arkansas Supreme Court refused to strike from the November ballot a proposed amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage and civil unions.

A few polls

CNN reports on this CNN/Gallup
of three battleground states (all figures are likely voters): In Colorado, Bush and Kerry are even with 49% each; in New Mexico Bush leads 50-47%; and in Wisconsin Bush leads 49-46. Note this: "Although this is the first CNN poll conducted in Colorado and New Mexico, the national race has tightened considerably since Bush and Kerry faced off September 30." Just in case you weren’t aware of the impression they wanted to give you that the race is tightening or too close to call.

According to an AP/Ipsos
Kerry now leads Bush, 50-46% (3 point margin of error). Note some particulars: "On the question of who would protect the country, Bush led Kerry 51 percent to 45 percent among likely voters — down from the 20-point lead that Bush held in a Sept. 7-9 poll by AP-Ipsos." And this: "Virtually across the board, Bush’s approval ratings were as low as they have been since June. Kerry gained among women, opening a 12-point lead while slashing the president’s advantage with men." And this: "Slightly more voters consider Kerry honest, a reversal from last month. Far more voters consider Bush decisive (73 percent) than Kerry (43 percent), but the gap closed by 8 points." And this: "Bush and Kerry are considered equally likable, after Bush’s ratings went down and Kerry’s went up for an 11-point swing."

The Marist poll has it Bush-Kerry 49-46% among likely voters.

What the Iraq Survey Group Really Said

Glenn Reynolds has been perusing the report of the Iraq Survey Group, and wonders how any fair-minded individual can summarize it merely as "Iraq had no WMDs." In fact, he claims, the report serves to undermine Senator Kerry’s whole position on the war. Reynolds notes that Kerry has already admitted the France and Germany are unlikely to send troops to Iraq, no matter who is elected in November. The ISG tells us precisely why: the French were bribed into opposing Saddam’s removal in the first place. Reynolds writes:

It’s hard to pass the "Global Test" when the people grading it are being bribed to administer a failing grade. Perhaps Kerry should change his stance, and promise that a Kerry Administration would "outbid the bad guys." That approach is more likely to succeed than the one he’s been touting, which even he has admitted is doomed.

On GOP domestic policy

Related to the John Moser post below (and comments), George Will thinks that "If Sept. 11 had never happened -- if debate about domestic policy had not been drowned out by the roar of war -- the potential domestic ramifications of this election would give it unusual nation-shaping power. To understand why is to understand some of the Democratic rage about the specter of a second term for George W. Bush.

He has a multifaceted agenda for weakening crucial components of the Democratic Party, factions that depend on cosseting by the federal government. Consider trial lawyers and organized labor."

Pro-Cheney item

points us to this pro-Dick Cheney clothing item for women. I’m just reporting the facts.

The "values voter"

Jeffrey Bell & Frank Cannon write on the rise of the "values voter" for the Weekly Standard. They explain this: "If you had to pick a single reason why the Democratic party is weaker at all levels than at any time in the last 50 years, it is the transformation of moral-values issues into an overwhelming Republican asset." 

On the offense in Iraq

Mac Owens thinks that the final offensive against the bad guys in Iraq may well be going on.  

The Era of Small Government is Over

I watched some of last night’s debate, and agree that Cheney outperformed his opponent. But something kept bothering me about the whole event, and I suspect it’s a foreshadowing of the nausea I’m likely to experience if I watch the second Bush-Kerry tussle. Much of the debate--at least the part about domestic policy--seemed to go something like this:

Gwen Ifill: As you know, X is a matter of concern for many Americans. How do you intend to approach this matter?

Cheney: The president and I are very much concerned with X, and we’ve spent Y billion dollars in dealing with it.

Edwards: This administration has been woefully negligent in handling X. John Kerry and I have a plan to spend 2Y billion dollars on it.

Over at the Washington Post (hat tip to Real Clear Politics), Anne Applebaum reminds us that it was only ten years ago--although it seems much longer--Newt Gingrich led the GOP in capturing the House, promising to reduce the size and scope of government and to rein in the massive federal budget. And, of course, it’s been even less time since Bill Clinton announced that the "era of Big Government" was over. Sure, it was rhetoric, but even that seems to be more than what we’re getting in this election year.

Of course, this isn’t leading me to support Kerry. Given the choice between spending Y and 2Y on domestic projects, I’ll go with Y every time. And Kerry’s attacks on the administration for running up the national debt are laughable, given how much he’s proposing to spend, while at the same time offering further tax cuts to the middle class (I wouldn’t hold my breath for those, incidentally). But it does seem to me that the Republican vision articulated so well by Ronald Reagan--that of government as the problem, rather than the solution--is well and truly dead.

War in space?

Glenn Reynolds has a piece on space warfare. Interesting and informative stuff.

The Gravitas Gap

The polls are starting to trickle in, but I have yet to get a clear view as to how the moderates/independents viewed the debate last evening. The common line seems to be that Cheney won on substance, and that Edwards had the edge on style. I think that this may be wrong. This seems to have been a debate in which style and substance came together. Cheney was relentless in showing the errors of Edwards statements, and he did so with facts. Edwards would say that Cheney wasn’t being honest, but he would then go off on tangents or fail to provide the same kind of factual support. For example, after Cheney pointed out Edwards mistake regarding the $200 billion for the war, Edwards said that the $200 billion figure was right, but offered no support. Cheney by contrast had provided a detailed statement of how much was spent by who on what. Here is where style and substance merge: even if you didn’t know the issues or which candidate was right, the relentless marshaling of facts by Cheney--his style in presenting the substance--made it clear that Cheney was the man on stage and Edwards was the boy-debater. There was, quite simply, a gravitas gap--one which you would expect given that Cheney has a lifetime of public-service experience, compared to Edwards, who has been in public-service only slightly longer than the kid who asks "do you want fries with that" has had his job.

Bremer’s not enough troops remark

The Belmont Club’s take on the tiff over Bremer’s not enough troops remark.

More on the debate

Here is the piece I wrote a few hours after the debate, called "Freestyle Wrestling", for The Daily Standard. I actually enjoyed being there, but should have had dinner and a couple of beers before I went in. It turned into a long night. But, I must say, I was surprised by how unimpressive Edwards was. There is no doubt in my mind that Cheney took him to the cleaners. There were a lot of embarrased Democrats sitting around me during the last forty minutes or so. Here is Joseph Knippenberg’s take on the debate. Joe actually sent this in by about 1 a.m. Good man! He may not exactly think that Cheney is a "hottie" as Julie does, but he sure likes him. I agree. I think Bush ought to send him overseas whenever extreme difficult negotiations have to be done. I bet he wouldn’t lose any bouts!

Cheney a Hottie?

O.K., I thought it was just me and, as a girl who had posters of Lincoln and Churchill in her dorm room rather than the latest heart-throb, I tend to disregard my own opinions on these matters. But I’m telling you--Cheney struck an unexpected cord with women in this debate. Listening to female callers on talk radio in Los Angeles and talking with female friends (not just Republicans--but also not wild-eyed Kerry supporters), I keep hearing the same refrain--Dick Cheney was sexy in this debate. Security moms are not only impressed with his command of the issues, we were also strangely drawn to him as he talked . . . and it was more than just gravitas! He made John Edwards look like the Eddie Haskel that he is. Even though Cheney apparently DID meet Edwards before this debate (as per CNN) it is only more damning to Edwards that Cheney could not remember it. An undistinguished record indeed!

Vice-Presidential Debate

I am attending the Vice-Presidential debate in Cleveland tonight. I’ll post comments here and elsewhere on the web later in the night.

Baseball and strategy

Robert Kagan says something sensible about the New York Yankees (and is critical of the Washington Post’s pompous Tom Boswell) as well as our strategy in Iraq. An excellent piece.
Fine essay! Read it all.   

No Left Turns Mug Drawing Winners for September

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

Steve Armstrong

Daniel Weick

Kathy Olex

John Fentnor

Kathy Crothers

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 October’s drawing.

Also, to Shawn Lee who won last month, your emails to Ben were getting through, but for some reason Ben’s replies were getting bounced back to him. If you send him your address, he can send you your mug.

Bush as hypocrite or fanatic?

Joseph Knippenberg defends President Bush against the charge of (religious) fanaticism by contending "that he is guilty of the lesser charge of American exceptionalism." He considers Bush’s language as reflecting the opportunity society (and not class warfare), and how Bush’s vision encompasses limited government and unlimited love, while Kerry’s default position is always another government program.

Bush’s religion and its connection to politics is Knippenberg’s topic, and he examines those (Kerry, et al) who charge him with either hypocrisy or fanaticism. This is a long op-ed and is very thoughtful. Note it.    

Some polls

Pew Research shows Bush leading Kerry 49-44% among likely voters, and 48-41% among registered voters. Only half of Democratic voters think that Kerry will win in November.
The CBS poll finds Kerry has made up five points among registered voters, and they are now even at 47-47%. As with all the polls, Bush’s favorables still look good, although Kerry has gained a few points in some categories: 52 percent of registered voters have confidence that Mr. Bush could protect the country from terrorism. Before the debate, only a quarter of registered voters had confidence that Kerry could; now, 39 percent do. And so on.

CIA appointee withdraws

Walter Pincus reports that "Michael V. Kostiw has withdrawn his name for consideration as CIA executive director, the third-ranking position at the agency, after public disclosure that he had resigned from the agency under pressure more than 20 years ago." Apparently, the guy lifted a slab of bacon in a supermarket in Langley worth about two bucks in 1981. There is probably more to this odd sounding story than meets the eye. Goss has appointed him his
senior advisor instead of third in charge.

Ohio poll

Columbus Dispatch conducts what seems to me to be a very serious poll (conducted "almost entirely" before the first debate; off only plus or minus 2%; you can see details by noting the box on the right). It finds that Bush leads in Ohio, 51-44%. And it’s the first time in the four Dispatch Polls during the campaign that Bush has won support from a majority of respondents.

France’s post WW II camps

The Guardian reports: "The government of Charles de Gaulle held hundreds of foreigners, including at least three Britons, in an internment camp near Toulouse for up to four years after the second world war, according to secret documents.

The papers, part of a cache of 12,000 photocopied illegally by an Austrian-born Jew, reveal the extent to which French officials collaborated with their fleeing Nazi occupiers even as their country was being liberated. They also show that, when the war was over, France went to extraordinary lengths to hide as much evidence of that collaboration as possible." (Thanks to Instapundit

An amusing take on the first debate

I just noticed this tongue-in-cheek characterization of the first debate from John Kinker. Very amusing, a brief sample:

"Lehrer: Senator, the first question goes to you. Should you be president?

Kerry: Yes, of course I should. But first I want to thank you, the President, this university, the state of Florida, and everyone who had anything to do with this debate. Now let me say, I should be president because I’m tough. And I’m tough because I served in Vietnam. I love America. I will defend America from the terrorists with my secret plan. In fact, four—count ‘em, four!—military men support me for president. I’ll even name them. It won’t take long.

Bush: I thank everyone too and my prayers go with the people of Florida. September 11 changed everything. Freedom is good. Need to fight hatred. Making progress. Hard work. Negativism sends wrong message to our troops, our allies, and the Iraqi people.

Senate Races

Donald Lambro rolls through the Senate races, and finds that the Demos have a chance to retake the Senate, but only if they sweep. He thinks Wisconsin might be a surprise. Also note that Rassmussen
shows Thune leading Daschle in South Dakota, 50-46%. Also see Realclearpolitics
for the latest polls on the Senate races.

Eliot Cohen on the first debate

Eliot A. Cohen is thoughtfully critical of both Bush and Kerry.  

WaPo poll

The Washington Post finds that among likely voters Bush lead Kerry 51-46%. "But the president held only a 3-point advantage among all registered voters, down from 7 points in a Post-ABC News survey conducted before last week’s presidential debate." Also this: "The proportion of likely voters with a favorable view of Kerry grew from 39 percent immediately before the date to 47 percent in the latest poll. At the same time, the proportion of voters with an unfavorable of him dropped by 3 points to 42 percent. However, Bush still remains slightly more popular, with 53 percent of all likely voters saying they had a favorable impression of him."

And also note from the WaPo that Kerry is redeploying staff from Virginia, effectively ceding the state to Bush, to either Minnesota or Wisconsin, depending on need.
Not a good sign.

The first debate

I have been like a Malay running amok (and in Philadelphia on Friday night through Sunday morning; it took me eight hours to fly back to Cleveland, by the way, two cancelled flights, had to go through Detroit, a real mess!), but I am back. This is a copy of a letter a friend sent (there is an indirect reference to his age by the way) to some of his family about the first debate. He sent it one day after the debate. I think it is good enough to quote in full:

Today we are being asked who won the debate last night.

Many, perhaps a majority of, listeners think Kerry won. (Recalling
my own High School debating experience 80 years ago, I might agree.)

The more important question is whether the American people want a
debater as Chief Executive.

There are fundamental differences between executives who make
decisions and take actions and those who are more comfortable
considering the issues and debating the ever-present alternatives. We
have many bright and capable Senators and Representatives and their
words are often persuasive. (Although sometimes I wonder whether they
are all on the same subject.) But we have only one President. The
Founders wisely separated those functions. The jobs are not

Many years ago, our Company assigned the development of a new product
to our Engineering Department. Months later the project was still being
engineered. The engineering department believed their duty was to
design a product that was as nearly perfect as possible. The had no
criteria to use to stop engineering and declare their job finished.

But while engineering was trying to achieve perfection, the sales and
manufacturing groups were without work.

The Chief Executive took the project out of Engineering and turned it
over to Manufacturing where producing the product quickly uncovered
design problems that were corrected immediately.

I never forgot that lesson. (Strange that I should remember it now.)

If you listened carefully to Kerry, you heard him say basically that
invading Iraq was a colossal mistake because 1) we rushed to war alone
instead of waiting for the UN and the inspectors, and 2) Saddam was not
a threat because he was not connected to 9/11, and therefore Iraq was a
diversion from our fight against terrorism. Everything else Kerry said
about Iraq was hung on those two old, previously debated ideas. Further
debate now is academic. We did invade Iraq. The issue now is how
quickly and effectively we adapt to change sin the plan made necessary
by actions of our opponents. Of course it is impossible to know what
might have happened if we had not gone ahead so Kerry is safe in arguing
against the action we took. I do think that his continuing "wrong war"
talk encourages the terrorists to try harder to displace Mr. Bush.

Nine-Eleven was the signal to pull Saddam and Iraq out of the
Engineering Department.