Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Academic diversity yet again

Here’s the press release from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni describing the survey Jeff Jacoby discusses in his column.

And here’s more from the WSJ’s "Taste" page on the same subject.

Finally, here’s a link to "Brainwashing 101," a documentary you can watch online about you know what.

The least diverse part of the country

The Economist
now joins the conversation on the lack of diversity in the American academy: "Academia is simultaneously both the part of America that is most obsessed with diversity, and the least diverse part of the country. On the one hand, colleges bend over backwards to hire minority professors and recruit minority students, aided by an ever-burgeoning bureaucracy of “diversity officers”. Yet, when it comes to politics, they are not just indifferent to diversity, but downright allergic to it.

Evidence of the atypical uniformity of American universities grows by the week." Read on.

Democrats raised more money

The Washington Post reports: "The GOP and the Democrats broke all previous fundraising records this year, but for the first time since the mid-1970s, the Democratic National Committee raised more money than the Republican National Committee.

The DNC reported yesterday that it raised $389.8 million from Jan. 1, 2003, to Nov. 22, 2004, compared with $385.3 million by the RNC."

"Total spending on the presidential campaign from all sources seeking to influence the outcome exceeded $1.7 billion, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission and the Internal Revenue Service. At least $925 million was spent in support of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and $822 million in support of President Bush. In the 2000 presidential contest, total spending was just under $1 billion."

Rumsfeld stays

The president has asked Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld
to stay on.


David Pryce-Jones has a very thoughtful essay in the current issue of Commentary considers the "clash of civilations" in Europe; whether Europe, as Bassam Tibi said,
“Either Islam gets Europeanized, or Europe gets Islamized.”

Good news from Uklraine

The Supreme Court of Ukraine
ruled that run-off elections should be repeated within the next three weeks.

Liberal education and liberalism

Peter Schramm beat me to the punch in linking to Jeff Jacoby’s fine article. But I can’t resist adding my two cents.

Jim Sleeper, former columnist of the New York Daily News and current lecturer in political science at Yale University, wrote this in the immediate aftermath of the election:

The challenge for liberals is not to mock those who are being oriented like magnet filings toward a darkening, doomed crusade but to acknowledge American liberalism’s own estrangement from a national character that is often, heaven help us, a balancing act as weird as that of a Jack Nicholson movie character, tottering along on a tightrope between rampant materialism and rapturous faith.

Many places besides Yale have been crucibles where people learn how to keep that balance constructively enough, in themselves as well as in their public posturings, to sustain a republic. But those crucibles are being drained now, or cracked, or chilled, or heated into cauldrons of selfish ambition masked by warlike rhetoric about saving "freedom" from its enemies. Freedom may first have to be saved from Bush, who once said that he "never learned a damned thing at Yale." He certainly didn’t stay on the tightrope of a liberal education any better than Dick Cheney, who dropped out after two years.

For Sleeper, liberal education seems to produce liberalism, which means above all liberation from religion. The balancing act, as he describes it, is accomplished by reason and puts religion in its place, which is surely not the same place that many red state folks put it.

I’m uncomfortable with this formulation and am here making a promise to blog more about this subject (or post something on the main site) after I dig myself out of the blizzard of papers and exams that strikes at the end of the term. Indeed, I’ve promised John Seery and Peter Lawler articles on liberal education and democracy due after the break.

Here’s what I’ll be reading to prepare for this task: William J. Stuntz’s fine "Faculty Clubs and Church Pews"; Naomi Schaefer Riley’s new book, God on the Quad: How Religious Colleges and the Missionary Generation Are Changing America, and Harvey Cox’s recent book, When Jesus Came to Harvard. I’ll no doubt remind myself also of what folks in the founding generation had to say on this subject and will consult Thomas and Lorraine Pangle’s invaluable volume, The Learning of Liberty.

Senator Byrd and his ways

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports: "Sen. Robert C. Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat and the Senate’s unofficial constitutional scholar, has inserted language into the final $388-billion spending bill for 2005 requiring that any educational institution that receives federal aid offer its students an instructional program on the U.S. Constitution each September 17, the anniversary of its signing.

The provision took higher-education leaders by surprise. They said they had not been consulted about it.

In a written statement, Senator Byrd said Americans need to better understand the Constitution and its importance. ’We can build upon the respect and reverence we still hold for our Constitution,’ the senator said. ’But we had better start now, before, through ignorance and apathy, even that much slips away from us.’"

I am, of course, not in favor of the Feds making any kind of demands on colleges, (even good ones), yet, I would like to point out that the Ashbrook Cednter already has a program in place. We not only study the Constitution in our classes, etc., but we gather every Constitution Day for an evening lecture by someone. This September 17th it was Hadley Arkes speaking onn the Constitution. Preceding years we have had William B. Allen, David Forte, and Ohio Chief Justice Thomas Moyer, among others.

Marc Rich reappears

Here is a tid-bit from ABC News that doesn’t need any comment: "Former American fugitive Marc Rich was a middleman for several of Iraq’s suspect oil deals in February 2001, just one month after his pardon from President Clinton, according to oil industry shipping records obtained by ABC News.

And a U.S. criminal investigation is looking into whether Rich, as well as several other prominent oil traders, made illegal payments to Iraq in order to obtain the lucrative oil contracts. ’Without that kind of middleman, the system would not work because the major oil companies did not want to deal with Iraq because there was a mandated kickback, said human rights investigator John Fawcett.

Another broker was New York oil trader Ben Pollner, head of Taurus Oil, who investigators say handled several billion dollars worth of the transactions now under investigation.

Pollner told ABC News he paid no bribes or kickbacks to the Iraqi regime.

Rich is still living in Switzerland and unavailable for comment."

Bias on campus

Is there groupthink on America’s campuses? No, I can’t believe it! All this emphasis on lack of intellectual diversity is so surprising to me. All these articles, all these studies showing bias and even intellectual harrassment at our institutions of higher learning, have moved

Jeff Jacoby to opine for the Boston Globe.

Today’s Colloquium cancelled

I regret to inform you that due to a family emergency Professor James McPherson has cancelled his appearance at the Ashbrook Center. Both today’s Colloquium and the Saturday teacher seminar will be re-scheduled for the Spring semester.

Ukraine, democracy and geopolitics

Charles Krauthammer put the election crisis in Ukraine is some prespective. Samples: "This is about Russia first, democracy only second. This Ukrainian episode is a brief, almost nostalgic throwback to the Cold War. Russia is trying to hang on to the last remnants of its empire. The West wants to finish the job begun with the fall of the Berlin Wall and continue Europe’s march to the east."

"But this struggle is less about democracy than about geopolitics. Europe makes clear once again that it is a full-throated supporter of democracy -- in its neighborhood. Just as it is a forthright opponent of ethnic cleansing in its neighborhood (Yugoslavia) even as it lifts not a finger elsewhere (Rwanda, southern Sudan, now Darfur).

That is why this comity between the United States and Europe is only temporary. The Europeans essentially believe, to paraphrase Stalin, in democracy on one continent. As for democracy elsewhere, they really could not care less." Read the whole of it.  

The tomb of Teotihuacan

Excavations at the Pyramid of the Moon near Mexico City. At the tomb at Teotihuacan, the first major city built in the Americas, scientists

have uncovered a tomb filled with decapitated bodies, suggesting that it may have been the site of horrifically gory sacrifices. "It is hard to believe that the ritual consisted of clean, symbolic performances -- it is most likely that the ceremony created a horrible scene of bloodshed with sacrificed people and animals. Whether the victims and animals were killed at the site or a nearby place, this foundation ritual must have been one of the most terrifying acts recorded archeologically in Mesoamerica," said Saburo Sugiyama, one of the scientists leading the ongoing dig.

Shanksville Memorial

Here are a few pictures of the impressive Shanksville Memorial. Citizens have built it on their own without organization or assitance.

The internet as the wild west

George Tenet, the former CIA director, is warning us that new security measures have to be put in place, because the internet is "a potential Achilles’ heel." He also said: "I know that these actions will be controversial in this age when we still think the Internet is a free and open society with no control or accountability, but ultimately the Wild West must give way to governance and control."


In the Washington Post Anne Applebaum surveys the conspiracy theories currently in vogue on the Left regarding the struggle for democracy in Ukraine. She posits that these theorists really do deserve to be characterized as "Freedom-Haters":

At least a part of the Western left -- or rather the Western far left -- is now so anti-American, or so anti-Bush, that it actually prefers authoritarian or totalitarian leaders to any government that would be friendly to the United States. Many of the same people who found it hard to say anything bad about Saddam Hussein find it equally difficult to say anything nice about pro-democracy demonstrators in Ukraine. Many of the same people who would refuse to condemn a dictator who is anti-American cannot bring themselves to admire democrats who admire, or at least don’t hate, the United States. I certainly don’t believe, as President Bush sometimes simplistically says, that everyone who disagrees with American policies in Iraq or elsewhere "hates freedom." That’s why it’s so shocking to discover that some of them do.

Peter Singer

Marvin Olasky has a clear and short understanding of Princeton Professor Peter Singer, who, sitting among the ivy at Princeton’s Center for Human Values, blandly responds to a question: Is anything wrong with a society in which children are bred for spare parts on a massive scale? "No." Professor Singer teaches ethics.

The education of Dan Rather

Peggy Noonan, who got her start with CBS news, and wrote Rather’s radio commentary for years. She reflects on her years, on Rather himself, and on the end of the hegemony of the old media. Maybe you will think she is less critical than she should be, maybe; but it is worth reading. I like the point she makes in passing about how she learned to write for the ear, not the eye. This explain some of her great words for Reagan. 

Nietzsche, atheism, and conservatism

Andrew Sullivan asks if there are any atheists in the "conservative punditariat." I ask: why is he asking? Is he trying to drive some sort of wedge between the evil neoconservatives, who are all at least quasi-Nietzscheans (he and others have implied) and religious conservatives?

Here’s my response to Sullivan in an email this morning:

Dear Mr. Sullivan,

Allan Bloom may have been an atheist, but he was not dogmatic about it, nor did he disrespect people of faith. He was not, in other words, one of Burke’s "turbulent and seditious" atheists. And even if he was an atheist, that doesn’t make him a Nietzschean. It is possible, I’m sure you would agree, to accept Nietzsche’s critique of the "faith-based" character of enlightenment rationalism without accepting either his account of the will to power or the prescription that he thinks follows from his diagnosis. Nietzsche may well have his finger on something crucial about modernity, but that by no means requires us to adopt his conclusions.

You’re right, I think, about the place of Nietzsche as someone we must take into account.

I don’t quite understand why there can’t be practical agreements and alliances between (non-Nietzschean) atheists and people of faith. Certainly atheists have thought so since time immemorial. And there seems to me no reason why, for example, Christians can’t make common cause with non-dogmatic atheists who for all practical purposes behave as if there were something like natural law (or, in the Reformed tradition, common grace). To put it another way, there’s a long-standing Christian tradition (think of Aquinas citing Tully or "the Philosopher") of engaging with people who use their "God-given reason."

Since I suspect that you know this, I’m not sure what your motives are for posing the questions you do, unless you think that to be Christian is to be intolerant.

Best wishes,

Joseph M. Knippenberg
Oglethorpe University

Many of the relevant posts offered by Jonah Goldberg in NRO’s "The Corner" can be found here.

Bush and realignment

I had a very interesting discussion in my class on American political parties today. We’ve been reading Byron Shafer’s The Two Majorities and the Puzzle of Modern American Politics. In that book, Shafer argues that since the New Deal the center of American public opinion has become vaguely liberal on economic and social welfare issues and conservative on foreign policy and cultural issues. Democratic elites, he continues, are liberal on both dimensions. Republican elites are conservative on both dimensions. When economic issues loom large, Democrats win. When foreign policy and cultural issues dominate the election, Republicans win. The ideal candidate, however, would seem to be someone who tracks more closely the thrust of public opinion as Shafer understands it, to the left of the Republicans on welfare and economic policy and to the right of the Democrats on foreign policy and cultural issues. Someone, say, like Jedediah Bartlet--Bill Clinton without the scandals--or Senator Joseph Lieberman?

Since the book was written in large part before the 2000 election, I wondered what Shafer was thinking these days. In found this passage in a transcript of event hosted by the Brookings Institution on October 15th, 2004: "Social welfare remains a Democratic issue. It
features Democratic--Tom gave you the phrase "issue
ownership" in the jargon of our business, though George W.
Bush has been willing to address education, which he saw as
"up for grabs;" he’s willing to address Social Security,
which he saw as a bridge to younger voters; and he’s
actually willing to legislate on prescription drugs.
At the same time he’s done tax cuts, the
traditional Republican counterpunch on social welfare, and
we all watched the economic cycle with puzzlement and
anticipation to see what it will do to him.
Foreign affairs remains a Republican issue; it
features Republican issue ownership, though John Kerry did
offer you the only “war convention” among Democrats in my
conscious memory, I have to say. The generals, the
veterans, the bio film that featured Vietnam, all adding up
to a life, if you believe it.
Here we watched the place of Iraq—and I think Ben
will help out a lot on that—in this constellation with real
fascination. Can it be tied to terrorism by the
Republicans, or can it be severed from terrorism by
So, final thought: Does 2004 look like the rest of
the era of divided government? I think so, and the
predictions that follow from that are therefore obvious.
Either you get a Kerry presidency stapled onto a continuing
Republican Congress, or you get a congressional uprising to
go with the Bush reelection.
It has to be said that the two nominees are both
trying very hard to escape the policy strictures of this
extended era. They don’t appear to me to be able to do so.
But if they could, we would be in a new world, and the
Election of 2002 would actually mark its beginning."

Needless to say, Shafer on his own terms is wrong: Bush won with an increased majority in both houses of Congress. Does this mean that he, not Bill Clinton, not Jedediah Bartlet, and certainly not Joe Lieberman, is in a position to change the terms of American politics, pulling public opinion a little further to the right on economic issues and holding the conservative line on foreign policy and cultural issues, thereby perhaps consummating the Reagan revolution? At the Brookings event, Shafer also argued that American opinion was generally moving rightward on the former issues and leftward on the latter. (In other words, opposition to gay marriage may be a big mobilizer now, but not ten or twenty years down the road.) If Shafer is right, then Bush’s accomplishment is evanescent. What do NLT readers think?

I’ll give you my students’ reaction next Monday, after they’ve had time to digest it all.

College Presidents: A "Bleg"

My institution is looking for a new President.

I would like to invite readers of No Left Turns to share their views regarding what we--both on and off campus--should expect from a president. And by "we," I don’t just mean we here on Atlanta’s north side.

And, oh yes, if anyone either wishes to apply for the position or to nominate someone else, you can find the necesaary email addresses by clicking on the link above.

Ramirez Cartoon

Brian Williams on bloggers

Brian Williams, the next NBC anchor, on bloggers: "When a fellow panelist mentioned that bloggers had had a big impact on the reporting on Election Day, Williams waved that point away by quipping that the self-styled journalists are "on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem." Also note that Merriam-Webster
"said on Tuesday that blog, defined as "a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks," was one of the most looked-up words on its Internet sites this year. Also see this by N.Z. Bear.

Psychological operations

This Los Angeles Times article on psychological operations used in Fellujah is worth reading. Just note the start of the piece: On the evening of Oct. 14, a young Marine spokesman near Fallouja appeared on CNN and made a dramatic announcement.

"Troops crossed the line of departure," 1st Lt. Lyle Gilbert declared, using a common military expression signaling the start of a major campaign. "It’s going to be a long night." CNN, which had been alerted to expect a major news development, reported that the long-awaited offensive to retake the Iraqi city of Fallouja had begun.

In fact, the Fallouja offensive would not kick off for another three weeks. Gilbert’s carefully worded announcement was an elaborate psychological operation — or "psy-op" — intended to dupe insurgents in Fallouja and allow U.S. commanders to see how guerrillas would react if they believed U.S. troops were entering the city, according to several Pentagon officials.

Attlee greater than Churchill?

Note this poll
in Britain: University of Leeds polled 258 academics, with 139 answering the survey questions in full, making this the first large-scale survey of British academic experts in British politics and/or modern British history, asking them to rate all the 20th century British Prime Ministers in terms of their success and asking them to assess the key characteristics of successful PMs. Their conclusion: Clement Attlee (Labour PM, 1945-1951) is the greatest Prime Minister in the 20th century. This is a deed without a name. I have nothing else to say on this matter save to remind you of what Winston said of Atlee: "He is a modest man with much to be modest about."

Calling for Kofi Annan’s resignation

Senator Norm Coleman explains why Kofi Annan must resign in this morning’s Wall Street Journal: "While many questions concerning Oil-for-Food remain unanswered, one conclusion has become abundantly clear: Kofi Annan should resign. The decision to call for his resignation does not come easily, but I have arrived at this conclusion because the most extensive fraud in the history of the U.N. occurred on his watch. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, as long as Mr. Annan remains in charge, the world will never be able to learn the full extent of the bribes, kickbacks and under-the-table payments that took place under the U.N.s collective nose."

Also see this by Claudia Rosett, wherein she explains that while it may OK for Kofi not take responsibility for his son’s involvement in the matter, he cannot give up responsibility for the glaring conflict of interest that this scandal reveals. And the Belmont Club states: "Coleman hints, but does not wholly pursue the idea that the Oil-for-Food program tacticly served the agenda of some "permanent members" of the Security Council. That in turn suggests that the Gulf War and subsequent events, far from being a purely bilateral struggle between the United States and Saddam’s regime, was really the nexus of a great power struggle involving France, Russia and the US. French policy in the Security Council prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom; their determined efforts to prevent the 4th ID from deploying through Turkey and its hostile attitude toward the Allawie government hints that the real bone of contention with Paris was not over how to topple Saddam but whether or not to keep him there."

A Belated Thanksgiving...

To Peter Schramm, who has invited me to diminish the distinguished roster of NLT bloggers by joining them.

A little background info: I’m an old graduate school colleague of Ashland’s own David Foster. I have distinct (or should I say indistinct?) memories of his and Edith’s wedding in Toronto. I’m a professor of politics at Oglethorpe University, where I’ve taught since 1985. My wife, Lee, directed the theatre program at Oglethorpe for 14 years, stepping down this year to devote herself to home-schooling our two children, Liam (age 9) and Charlotte (age 7). I do the math, science, and German; she does everything else. Because of its intense focus on world and Western history, we more or less use the Sonlight

The topics about which you’re most likely going to see me blog are religion and politics, liberal education, and core curricula.

My favorite websites include the usual suspects, to which I will not now provide links, but also these:Christianity Today, which has a weblog with the most complete set of links to news on religion matters that I have seen; Beliefnet’s politics site, which often features the University of Akron’s John Green; the Ethics and Public Policy Center, for intelligent commentary on religion, politics, and bioethics; the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference website, where I can follow the fortunes of my beloved Stormy Petrels (NCAA D3), who are off to hot starts in men’s and women’s basketball--with an upcoming contest between the OU women and the UC-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs that promises to be both slimy and oily; and Golfstat, so that I can keep up with Oglethorpe’s nationally ranked (once again, D3) men’s golf team. Oh, I almost forgot one other site: the North Atlanta Swim Association, where, beginning next June, you can follow the fortunes of the valiant Vermack Vikings as they take on the Brookwood Hills and Hanover West teams (which I regard as the East Germany of Atlanta summer swimming). I promise, however, not to bore you with any boasts about my kids’ aquatic exploits (which I’ll save for their grandparents).

No shock and awe in the Senate

George Will warns the GOP not to try to change the Senate rules in order to put an end to the filibuster. 

Alexander and other flops

Arthur Chrenkoff has a few worthy thoughts on the "Alexander", and other flops like King Arthur and The Alamo. People have judgment. Good.

Happy Birthday, Sir Winston

Since we’re observing Churchill’s birthday today, it is worth recalling something Gertrude Himmelfarb wrote a few years back:

"When I meet a historian who cannot think that there have been great men, great men moreover in politics, I feel myself in the presence of a bad historian. And there are times when I incline to judge all historians by their opinion of Winston Churchill--whether they can see that, no matter how much better the details, often damaging, of the man and his career become known, he still remains, quite simply, a great man."

Political notes

Palm Beach Post reports that the Democratic Party in Florida "is at its lowest ebb since Reconstruction." The San Jose Mercury News reports that the Green party is in real trouble nationally. Bret Schundler is going to run for governor of New Jersey next year (McGreevey defeated him in 2001). The Washington Times reports that the GOP will target Democratic Senators from red states, including Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Bill Nelson of Florida. John Edwards is thinking about the loss: "I wish we’d had better chances, better opportunities (in the 2004 campaign) for me to talk about what my personal values are. How important my relationship with God is, how important my faith is in our day-to-day lives, the struggles my family’s had in the past, plus what Elizabeth is facing now." Former Demo Congressman
Martin Frost is interested in becoming DNC chairman. The nomination of Carlos M. Gutierrez for Secretary of Commerce is an attempt to woo Hispanic voters, according to Newsday. Matt Labash on Clintonmania. Sidney Blumenthal (remember him?) beats up on W.’s appearance and bahavior at the Clinton library opening.

Stress and aging

Science now confirms something my grandmother and your grandmother knew by living:

and aging
are connected:

"Some stressful events seem to turn a person’s hair gray overnight.

Now a team of researchers has found that severe emotional distress - like that caused by divorce, the loss of a job, or caring for an ill child or parent - may speed up the aging of the body’s cells at the genetic level.

The findings, being reported today, are the first to link psychological stress so directly to biological age."

Democrats and "Values"

As Peter noted below, there is reason to feel sorry for Michael Kinsley and other liberal Democrats who continue to blather on about "values." But the sudden upsurge in "values" talk among Democrats (perhaps best and most absurdly seen in Hilary’s pandering last week to a southern audience where she claimed to be a conservative Christian) points to a larger problem with the word "values."

Dan Quayle came under fire in the early 90s for bringing up the subject of "family values." Liberals in those days were a little brighter. They understood that the qualifier "family" was the real threat. Some conservatives rightly flinched at the use of the word "values" because they argued that it was a concession to relativism. Quayle tried mightily not to leave the meaning of the phrase open to debate and did define pretty clearly what he meant by family values. Still, liberals tried to co-opt the phrase and argued that Quayle’s "family values" were not the true "family values" (recall the innane bumper sticker from the 90s "Hate is not a family value") and therefore should not be the "values" of the Democratic party. Calling these things "values" left open the question of whether or not they should be valued. It later left open for debate the question of what defines a family.

Republicans today would do well not to fall into the same rhetorical trap. We did not win because we have better "values" than the Democrats. Republicans won because they were able to persuade a majority of Americans that the President and the GOP hold to the same truths that most Americans hold dear. They were able to persuade Americans that they would do a better job protecting those truths. In short, Americans liked Republican answers to the questions better partly because Republicans seemed to offer answers. They did not waver. Democratic "values"--however defined--will never do well in a contrast with truth. Democrats do not need to do a better job of getting out their message or to remind Americans of what they value. We already know what they don’t value and that is what cost them this election and will continue to cost them elections in the future. Still, Republicans cannot take this for granted. They would do well to remind themselves of Dan Quayle and not be afraid to speak of the truth.

My Dad and the Christmas Spirit

Now that my daughter is 5 and deep into the celebration of all holidays, we decided to get on the ball this year and drag out the Christmas boxes on the day after Thanksgiving. The massive effort of stringing lights and assembling a "tree" (artificial, of course) and decking all the halls while keeping two little ones out of trouble this weekend, left me a little weary and, I am ashamed to say, not a little bit grumpy. So, when I received a call from father and proceeded to whine about my "troubles" he did me a giant favor and reminded me how lucky I am.

He told me that these years, no matter how difficult they may otherwise be, will be some of the best years of my life; that this Christmas will be one of the most magical of my life; that having young children at Christmas is one of life’s purest and sweetest joys. He reminded me that these memories are going to be some of the most cherished memories I will ever have--and that I may not even always have my children around at Christmas (o.k., that part was a bit thick on the guilt). But the long and short of it was that it was exactly the sort of kick in the pants I needed to get the bah humbugs out of my system.

I don’t want to over-sentimentalize but I thought my dad had some good advice and I thought it might be of use to some of you out there too. So Merry Christmas to all!

Remembering Winston Churchill

I have four children and can only remember the birthday of the first. I know the month my wife and mother were born, but not the day or year; most of the time I can hardly remember my own birthday. But I remember the birthdays of Lincoln and Churchill. And tomorrow is the glow-worm’s birthday.

Sir Winston was born on November 30, 1874 and

Justin Lyons reminds us why it is important not to forget the great man. Eisenhower once said that Churchill "came nearer to fulfilling the requirements of greatness in any individual I have met in my lifetime. I have known finer and greater characters, wiser philosophers, more understanding personalities, but no greater man." Happy Birthday to Winston!   

Alexander the Flop

The London Independent (Left wing, of course) has this wonderful headline: "Alexander the (not so) Great fails to conquer America’s homophobes." Don’t you just love this? This beastly movie flops, and the Americans as "homophobes" get the blame. "Alexander has proved to be the Thanksgiving weekend’s biggest flop, and while it is a portrait of a legendary leader who ruled far-away lands more than 300 years before the birth of Christ, it has brutally exposed the cultural and moral divide which slices America in two." I love this. Read it.


John F. Harris, a staff writer for the Washington Post considers whether or not the election was a realignment. This is not an especially deep article, but it is worth noting because the issue will continue to be raised in the MSM (and among academics), as it should. And there are few items to take note of: First, the election was a Republican party victory, not only a victory for the president (compare 1984), and party loyalty was built. Second, Bush and the GOP cut into some formerly deeply Demo groups, including Hispanics. Third, he points out that the GOP apparently used, and is using, programs to build new constituencies (e.g., Social Security) and this may attract new and (for political purposes) permanent constituencies. Fourth, the GOP is dominating the fastest growing areas in the country.

I am not yet certain that this election has meant that ordinary partisanship was turned into grand partisanship (e.g.,
one that shapes public opinion in a most profound way). Is the country divided enough yet? Is it polarized enough yet (in the same way in which FDR wanted to polarize the country, and did)? It is certainly true that since 1980, and most especially since 1994, the GOP has made massive gains at every level of government. Does this mean that there is now a real choice, and the division is over fundamental issues? I believe that part of the so called "values" discussions have to do--in a round-about way--with this issue. The answer tilts to "yes." And its not only over matters of, say, religion, but also questioning--for the first time in an operational way--the very idea of certain programs that have been tauight to be politically sacred; Social Security, the graduated income tax, etc. (I note in passing that the core of the Liberal welfare system was overthrown after the 1994 election).

And are the Demos ready to become the "me too" party of those who lose realignments (e.g., GOP in the 1950’s)? The actions of the administration and the GOP Congress are very much worth watching with these things in mind. Will they govern now without guilt or hesitation, like a majority should? And will they continue to build the party, as they have for the last four years, rather than just be concerned with a presidential victory? So the elections of 2006 will tell us much. Is it possible that the GOP will gain in a non-presidential year, and into a president’s second term? Even FDR didn’t do that in 1938 (the Demoscrats lost 81 seats in the House and 8 in the Senate; although they kept a decisive majority in both chambers).

The results in 2006 will not answer the question, but they will lead us toward an answer. Is the GOP majority
enduring? And will the Republicans be able to build the new grounds for a political consensus that will last for a generation, or more?

Also note this in the New York Times by Todd S. Purdum. He is grinding his teeth over whether the new Bush term, with early signs of "elephantine hubris" will end up "threatening one-party dominion over the life of the nation itself." Now this is a little weird, as well as disingenuous. Whenever there has been a Liberal lock on the electoral system (say, during the New Deal and Great Society), the MSM was not asking such questions like do checks and balances still work, etc. Now that the country has moved away from domination by the Democrats, the eggheads are worried about a one party tyranny; indeed, Purdum’s article ends with an apparent cautionary note. The last words in the article are two: Civil War. Really.

Michael Kinsley, the poor fellow, is just plain tired of trying to figure it all out, so he says "to hell with values"! He concludes his silly op-ed with this: "A country whose political dialogue is all about values is either a country with no serious problems or a country hiding from its serious problems. When I want values, I go to Wal-Mart." I almost feel sorry for the guy.

Terror networks

Marc Sageman, who served with the CIA in Afghanistan, has some interesting thoughts on how to understand terror networks; he studied the biographies of 400 terrorists. He is the author of Understanding Terror Networks, published in April. A sample:

" The 400 terrorists on whom I’ve collected data were the ones who actually targeted the “far enemy,” the U.S., as opposed to their own governments. I wanted to limit myself for analytical purity to that group, to see if I could identify anything different from other terrorist movements, which were far more nationalistic.

Most people think that terrorism comes from poverty, broken families, ignorance, immaturity, lack of family or occupational responsibilities, weak minds susceptible to brainwashing - the sociopath, the criminals, the religious fanatic, or, in this country, some believe they’re just plain evil.

Taking these perceived root causes in turn, three quarters of my sample came from the upper or middle class. The vast majority—90 percent—came from caring, intact families. Sixty-three percent had gone to college, as compared with the 5-6 percent that’s usual for the third world. These are the best and brightest of their societies in many ways."


David Warren thinks that the crisis in the Ukraine is quite encouraging. Very good.

More on Alexander

Victor Davis Hanson has a few paragraphs on Oliver Stone’s debacle, concluding: "Alexander the Great is third-rate Cecil B. Demille in drag." Also see this on the homosexuality
issue. The Belmont Club has more.

More on the architect

Howard Finemann’s "Rove Unleashed" for Newsweek once again tells us something about Rove, and therefore worth reading (and it also tells us something about Finemann, but we are not surprised by that). Rove’s authority and influence are on the GOP and American politics are notable and it has not yet peaked. As the Duke says, "We shall see, If power change purpose, what are seemers be."

The smelly little orthodoxies

George Will adds to the point made below by Joe Knippenberg about the the lack of diversity (in thought) in the academy. He attempts to explain why this is so, and what its consequences are: " Academics such as the next secretary of state still decorate Washington, but academia is less listened to than it was. It has marginalized itself, partly by political shrillness and silliness that have something to do with the parochialism produced by what George Orwell called ’smelly little orthodoxies.’

Many campuses are intellectual versions of one-party nations -- except such nations usually have the merit, such as it is, of candor about their ideological monopolies. In contrast, American campuses have more insistently proclaimed their commitment to diversity as they have become more intellectually monochrome.

They do indeed cultivate diversity -- in race, skin color, ethnicity, sexual preference. In everything but thought."

Sgt. Major James R. Jordan

It turns out that Michael Jorden has an older brother, Sgt. Maj. James R. Jordan. Jordan asked to stay in the Army for a year beyond his mandatory retirement date so he could complete a deployment to Iraq with the 35th Signal Brigade.

’’We are currently at war,’’ Jordan said. ’’We are doing things, and it requires leaders to do certain things. That’s what I am, a leader.’’ Good story. Thanks to Powerline.

The Incredibles

I saw the Incredibles last night with Becky and Johnny. Terrific movie, enjoyed every minute of it; no wonder it’s doing so well
at the box office (and note that Alexander is not). Julie’s
enthusiastic endorsement proved correct (not that I ever doubted her opinion).