Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

CNN a la Francaise

The BBC reports that France "is to launch a global French-language satellite TV news channel next year, Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has announced.

State-funded France Televisions and the private station TF1 will be partners in running the new channel.

The new French International News Channel is better known in France as ’CNN a la Francaise’.

The station’s role will be ’to express the diversity to which our country is so deeply attached,’ Mr Raffarin said." The main purpose of the this, obviously, is to counter U.S. policy; Chirac has been talking about doing this for a couple of years. They could save a lot of Euros by just translating CNN into French!

Americans for Democratic Action

Having mentioned Peter Beinart’s "Fighting Faith" article the other day, I noted that Beinart makes clear that the founding of the Americans for Democratic Action was based on opposition to Communism. The Atlantic Blog notes, unhappily, that today’s ADA does not resemble the ADA of 1947. He notes that the ADA misrepresents its own founding and the current president of ADA is Jim McDermott.

Gary Wills’ Jefferson

Lance Banning thinks that Gary Wills’ "Negro President": Jefferson and the Slave Power "is a dreadfully tendentious book. It opens with a faulty premise, builds on that to offer what, at points, might be described as a revival of a partisan position the Virginian understandably condemned, and carries the search for an ’anti-Jefferson’ (one hopes) to its last extreme."

Booth as Brutus?

Alan Guelzo reviews the recently published American Brutus, yet another volume explaining the actions of the assassin John Wilkes Booth. I have found that students know more about Lincoln’s death than they do about his life and political purpose, never mind self-government. Guelzo explains how these are connected. Guelzo: "Three more presidential assassinations behind us, and we might be expected to have a more guarded expectation of democracies. But part of what makes presidential assassinations such a eerily fascinating topic is the persistent sense that this kind of event really does represent some form of bizarre and unfathomable deviation, a challenge to the very notion of democracy. The orderly sharing of power in American politics, beginning with Adams and Jefferson in 1801, has been the fundamental pivot of American politics. Disrupting it by violence is precisely the one thing which will render democracy itself impossible, unless democracy has planted itself very, very firmly in people’s minds."

Guelzo concludes: "But it is hard to believe that Booth would have also struck at Johnson and Grant unless he had bigger game in mind. After four years of bloody civil war, of political cock-fighting of the most vicious sort in American history, and with Congress not scheduled to assemble again until December, an assassination conspiracy of the breadth Booth planned had, at least on paper, all the possibilities it needed to pull the entire structure of the government down in confusion and political chaos. Power, that old enemy of liberty, would rise rampant and unchained, and the experiment in liberal democracy that Lincoln believed was the fundamental issue of the war would collapse like the cardboard Booth and the pro-slavery apologists had always said it was.

For Booth’s ultimate target was democracy itself, just as it had been the ultimate target of Calhoun and Hammond and Fitzhugh and all the other apostles of power who concluded that power rather than liberty was the only reality in this world. It came as a terrible shock to Booth, hiding in the Potomac swamps, that both North and South had nothing but burning-hot execration to pour on his deed. And the passage of presidential authority proceeded the morning after Ford’s Theater without a grain of sand falling into the cogs. Lincoln had struggled to prove Booth wrong in his life. Booth killed him, and Lincoln proved him wrong again, in his death."


I just knew the man liked doughnuts, I knew it!


I regret that Bernard Kerik had to withdraw his name from nomination for Homeland Security. He seemed like a tough guy, somehow perfectly suited for this difficult job. But it must be said that this was a bad show, somebody--perhaps only Kerik, but I doubt it--screwed up. Bush should act quickly and name someone significant to replace the nominee whom everyone seemed to favor. The next nominee could dissapoint everyone. Too bad.

Surprised by pro-Bush sentiments in Damascus

Tyler Golson is an American (Liberal, Democrat) teaching English in Damascus. He was surprised by the pro-Bush sentiment he found there. "Since I began teaching in Damascus six months ago, I have been continually surprised to find support and even admiration for Bush in that city, mixed in with the usual polemics about American imperialism. The presumed wildfire of anti-American and anti-Bush sentiment that has consumed much of Europe and Asia has apparently skipped over parts of the Arab world, where people often have more in common with Middle America than they do with the Middle East."
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Inn the meantime, Bill Kristol explains that we have a Syria problem that we probably could have avoided.


Lucas’ note below on freedom and literature reminded me that today is the birthday of Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. He completed The Gulag Archipelago in 1968. It was read in samizdat form and published in 1973 in the West. He picked up his 1970 Nobel Prize for Literature in 1974, because he was by then in exile. He still lives. I am tempted to quote something from him, but, no. Read his Nobel Lecture, you owe him that for his one word of truth.

The Politics of the Imagination

In case folks missed it, Azar Nafisi (author of Reading Lolita in Tehran) wrote a splendid short essay for the Washington Post Book World last Sunday entitled "The Republic of the Imagination." In it, she shows how tyrants oppress individual freedom (and hence diversity of thought) by attacking the imagination expressed, particularly, in fiction. Not a novel observation, to be sure, but one I don’t mind seeing in a full center spread in an MSM outlet like the Post. She drops many of the right names of important literary figures that represent something of a vanguard of the imagination against political tyranny.

That said, we do well to discuss her criticism of the state as a flawed "guardian of morality" when it comes to books that could corrupt readers (my strike for diversity of thought!). I don’t think she appreciates sufficiently Aristotle’s observation that what youth see, they do, and what they hear, they say, and therefore there should be some concern about what young folk read and watch these days. This is not an argument for govt censorship per se, but rather a reminder that parents should not allow their children to read any and everything they can get their hands on. I think Nafisi dismisses too readily the power of images--and hence the imagination--to shape the souls of readers.

Nevertheless, her essay would make a great introduction to a discussion with students about the impact of literature (or music or poetry or art in general) on a people and its relationship to preserving or undermining individual freedom.

Paris Hilton

A few days ago I heard that Barbara Walters had some sort of special in which she pronounce who the ten most important people of 2004 were. Heading the list, I was told, was Karl Rove. That seemed perfectly reasonable to me. It turns out that in the number two position was Paris Hilton! Since I find her, and her fifteen minutes of fame, to be utterly idiotic, I was glad to see that Dana Stevens at Slate agreed (you can ignore Stevens’ remarks on Rove later in the article). But this on the "soulless, dead-eyed, 23 year old party girl" Hilton is very good:

In order to find entertainment in the Paris persona, one must simply accept that materialism, greed, and a naked desire for fame are highly valued attributes in our culture. After plugging her new perfume (is there really anyone out there who wants to smell like Paris Hilton?) and her soon-to-be-released album, Screwed (is there anyone out there who wants to listen to Paris Hilton?), Hilton characterized herself as the misunderstood girl-next-door, who plans to settle down and have children in the next two years. ("Is there a guy?" asks Barbara. "I’ll find one," vows Hilton.)

Anthony Flew no longer an atheist

Anthony Flew, the world-famous British philosophy professor (and very public atheist) now says, sort of, that he believes in God. He is now 81 years old. He thinks that science is proving that there is a God. He says that biologists’ investigation of DNA "has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved." But some folks noticed his tergiversation some time ago, see this
and this
by Joe Carter. I’m sure there will be more on this.

Bush and diversity

Susan Paige notes for USA Today: "With little fanfare and not much credit, President Bush has appointed a more diverse set of top advisers than any president in history." It seems that everyone is counting, what percent of the Cabinet is made up of minorities or women, the ever thoughtful Charles Rangel: "There’s diversity of color, but it’s the policies that one would be more interested in."

More on Beinart

It turns out that Jonah Goldberg wrote a piece on the Peter Beinart article I mentioned below, and he has some more comments here
on Beinart’s lonely voice.

Islam and reform

"Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves," reads the Koran. Neil McFarquhar writes a long one for the New York Times on the debate (pretty limited still, I would say) among Muslim scholars about Islam, violence, and reform. Tomorrow, in Morocco (with Colin Powell in attendance) a major coneference will discuss "increasing democracy and liberal principles in the Muslim world." Let’s be optimists.

Ohio sets new lawsuit limits

Trial lawyers lose one in Ohio.
"The Ohio General Assembly passed a sweeping, business-friendly bill to change the state’s personal injury lawsuit system early Thursday, enacting caps on some forms of pain-and-suffering damages and punitive awards."

Ramirez Cartoon

The Democratic Party’s (former) fighting faith

Move On. org makes its position clear: "In the last year, grass-roots contributors like us gave more than $300 million to the Kerry campaign and the DNC, and proved that the party doesn’t need corporate cash to be competitive. Now it’s our party: we bought it, we own it, and we’re going to take it back."

It is exactly the tilt toward Move and Michael Moore that Democrats will have to overcome in order to save themselves if they are to surive, not to say prosper electorally. If the Democrats want to get really serious, they will have to consider Peter Beinart’s very good essay, "A Fighting Faith," in the current issue of The New Republic (Beinart is the editor). Beinart wants the Democrats to remember the meeting at the Willard Hotel in 1947 that was attended by all the important Democrats who wanted to save Liberalism: They announced the formation of the the Americans for Democratic Action, and declared: "’[B]ecause the interests of the United States are the interests of free men everywhere,’ America should support ’democratic and freedom-loving peoples the world over.’ That meant unceasing opposition to communism, an ideology hostile to the principles of freedom and democracy on which the Republic has grown great.’" This turned out to be difficult, but the Truman guys defeated the Lefties, and soon even the ACLU would denounce Communism. Beinart thinks that Liberals have not yet had such a re-shaping experience after 9/11--their party is still what it was in the 90’s, a collection of domestic interests and concerns--and are still producing leaders "that do not put the struggle against America’s new totalitarian foe at the center of their hopes for a better world."

"Two elections, and two defeats, into the September 11 era, American liberalism still has not had its meeting at the Willard Hotel. And the hour is getting late." Defeating totalitarian Islam "must be liberalism’s north star." Read and file.    

Can the U.N. be reformed?

The Belmont Club is very much worth reading on Kofi Annan and the possibility of reformation of the U.N. Very powerful. Note the last paragraph especially. Is it not disheratening to think that the United Nations has become (because the visionary theories of Rousseau is at its heart) a full-fledged representative of the ancien regime? Could the ancien regime be reformed?

The English, the French, and us

John Zvesper considers the recent conversation between Blair and Chirac on both Anglo-French relations, and the relation of each country to the United States. Zvesper does this artfully--weaving with ease between Montesquieu and Rousseau and statues in France and shops in England--and with eloquence. Very important!    

The Democrats should ask for Annan’s resignation

Andy Busch has a good idea. The Demos next "Sister Souljah moment" has arrived and they should take advantage of it: they should demand that U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan resign. This would go a long way toward re-establishing their credibility regarding national security issues. Excellent idea!  

Blogging and business

Businessweek runs an interesting article on bloggers and advertisement. Bloggers are in Madison Avenue’s sights. Alas, I haven’t heard from them yet. (Via Instapundit)

No Left Turns Mug Drawing Winners for November

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

Frank P. Reyes

Tracy Murphree

Daniel Bradley

Paul Thompson

Jim Verdolini

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 December’s drawing.

Hispanic assimilation

A new study finds that "English remains the language of choice among the children and grandchildren of Hispanic immigrants, despite continuing waves of migration from Latin America and concerns from some analysts that English may lose ground to Spanish in some parts of the United States, a new analysis of census data shows." The study found that "most Hispanic-Americans were also marching steadily toward English monolingualism. The report found that 72 percent of Hispanic children who were third-generation or later spoke English exclusively." Samuel Huntington, while agreeing with the study, "said that Mr. Alba’s study reflected the experiences of the descendants of Hispanic immigrants who arrived in the 1960’s, when the large waves of Latin American migration to the United States were just beginning. He said the study did little to predict the experiences of the grandchildren of more recent Hispanic arrivals."


New Chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission

Mary Frances Berry "the outspoken chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, was replaced yesterday by President Bush as her term expired, after 24 years on the panel. Gerald Reynolds, former assistant secretary in the Department of Education's civil rights office, was appointed chairman of the eight-member panel. Ashley Taylor, former deputy attorney general of Virginia, also was appointed to the commission, to replace panel Vice Chairman Cruz Reynoso. Mr. Reynolds was appointed chairman, and Commissioner Abigail Thernstrom, a Republican appointee but political independent, was appointed vice chairman."
Categories > Race

Baseball and steroids

George Will begins his reflections on the damage to baseball from the steroid scandal with a note from G.K. Chesterton: "When you break the big laws, you do not get liberty; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws." You can figure out the rest, but it is still very much worth reading.

Natalists in the exurbs

David Brooks on why those who want to have larger families are moving to the exurbs. "If you wanted a one-sentence explanation for the explosive growth of far-flung suburbs, it would be that when people get money, one of the first things they do is use it to try to protect their children from bad influences.

So there are significant fertility inequalities across regions. People on the Great Plains and in the Southwest are much more fertile than people in New England or on the Pacific coast."

Brooks bases his piece, in part, on this by Steve Sailer, but comes to different conclusions. Both are worth reading.

Yushchenko poisoned

Yushchenko’s disfigurations are explained. The Times in London reports: "Medical experts have confirmed that Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine’s opposition leader, was poisoned in an attempt on his life during election campaigning, the doctor who supervised his treatment at an Austrian clinic said yesterday.

Doctors at Vienna’s exclusive Rudolfinerhaus clinic are within days of identifying the substance that left Mr Yushchenko’s face disfigured with cysts and lesions, Nikolai Korpan told The Times in a telephone interview.

Specialists in Britain, the United States and France had helped to establish that it was a biological agent, a chemical agent or, most likely, a rare poison that struck him down in the run-up to the presidential election, he said."

Group Think in Corporate America

As all bad things from the university world eventually do, group think and a lack of respect for individual thought has trickled down to America’s corporations. This is nothing new, of course. But this being America, some very clever people have figured out how to profit from the fact.

Someone very close to me with a fairly important mid-level manager position at a major American corporation recently attended this crazy convention devoted to something called "systems thinking" where he was spoon-fed a bunch of gobblety-gook about individual action being an archaic mode of leadership and the "team" should be thought of as a "living organism." His company paid some exhorbitant fees for him and his co-workers to attend this event. And, as you can see from their website, they don’t give away much. (Maybe we bloggers should take some hints from these folks!)

My friend reported being taken into a room where small groups were engaged in hugging, alot of "thoughtful" beard-stroking, and soft-talk about "collaboration." When asked for his definition of the word, this fellow replied that collaboration was a group of people working together toward a common goal. The group "leader" (though that word is awfully insensitive, don’t you think) responded with awe and asked that everyone take a few moments to absorb the enormity of what my friend had said. My friend reported feeling himself getting sucked in at this point: "Hey," he said, "I’m thinking maybe I’m some kind of f*&^ing philosopher!"

When the hugging and the crying started, however, my friend bolted and was able to make it home in time for his daughter’s ballet recital where the applause might be more genuinely given--however equally deserved. And alas, his words are no longer received with awe and beard-stroking.

Beyond the French Syndrome

John Zvesper reflects on the fracturing of relations between America and Europe, and especially the French. He argues that we should not allow "French-led rhetoric to overstate the extent to which European governments (as distinguished from public opinion not expressed through elections) have agreed with the French position on Iraq." Keeping the "french syndrome" in mind ("talking louder than anyone else, making a little more noise, and thus believing that you constitute a majority all on your own"), Zvesper walks us through the problems and possibilities. Very fine.   

Bush the ruthless (and elegant)

John Podhoretz has some advice for those who think that President Bush is either evil or a doofus (or, an evil doofus). Podhoretz is right in thinking that Bush is both ruthless and elegant, just think about how he has managed the departures of half his cabinet. He concludes: "The president has cleared the decks for his second term with surprising speed and even a dash of ruthlessness. You might think ruthlessness and elegance can’t co-exist, but you would be wrong. Elegance has a ruthless clarity about it, just as Bush has a ruthless clarity about him." Perche le iniurie si debbano fare tutte insieme.

Cub Scouts help out for Hannukah

If not for Cub Scouts in Houston, Army Spc. Joseph Lowit, stationed in Iraq, would find it next to impossible to celebrate Hannukah.
Good story. 

Ohio vote official

Ken Blackwell, Ohio’s Secretary of State, has certified the vote in Ohio. The winner Monday based on official results from county election boards, with the final tally of 2.86 million votes for the Republican, or about 51 percent of the vote, and 2.74 million or 49 percent for Democrat John Kerry. Of course (unfortunately), some are still demanding a recount and Jesse Jackson is still hyperventilating.

Karzai sworn in as president of Afghanistan

Hamid Karzai was sworn in as Afghanistan’s first elected president, in a very long time, in about five-thousand years, ever: "In a brief inaugural address, Karzai expressed his thanks to the Afghan people, who defied Taliban threats to participate in largely peaceful national elections in October, and to the United States, which led the international coalition that ousted the Islamic fundamentalist regime in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."

Back to the Sixties?

I’ve been talking casually with a number of folks for months now about the prospect that the Looney Left (but I repeat myself) might revive Weather Underground-style violence if Bush won the election. One can easily imagine how Michael Moore will defend bombings, shootings, etc.

It looks like the first wave of violence may come from the segment of the Left this is most discouraged and outraged: the environmentalists. This morning’s Washington Post (registration required) carries a front-page story about the largest arson in Maryland’s history that took place yesterday: 20 new homes in a subdivision were torches in what investigators describe as a well-planned, sophisticated operation. The development has been a magnet for environmentalist opposition (a six acre wetland is supposedly threatened), including even pickets at the work site.

This comes hard on the heels of a report recently issued by top environmentalists under the title "The Death of Environmentalism", which bemoans the perceived increasing impotence of their movement.

Elections in Iraq

Here’s an interesting article in today’s Washington Post.

A sample:

"The clergy are advocating elections 100 percent," said Sami Shamousi, the prayer leader of a Shiite community center in downtown Baghdad. "It has become a religious responsibility for us to encourage participation in the elections."

At his worship hall, he has distributed about 200 leaflets printed by the Ghadir Foundation, a community organization that is based in the sprawling slum of Sadr City and is loosely supervised by Sistani and other senior ayatollahs. Stacks of posters with Sistani’s portrait were piled in dimly lit rooms, darkened by an electrical outage. On shelves were bundles of leaflets and pamphlets that present questions and answers about the vote: "What are we electing?" and "What does proportional representation mean?"

In a second-floor office sat Sayyid Hashem Awadi, 38, a gaunt cleric in black turban and gray gown who directs the foundation’s staff of 30. For 65 days, he said he had been too busy to return to his home in Najaf.

"This stage is too critical," he said. "We’re afraid of failure."

On his desk was an Arabic-language pamphlet on civil society, a phrase that usually describes a vibrant give-and-take between citizens and their government. The pamphlet, printed by his foundation and emblazoned with a map of Iraq, notes the term was imported from the West. But it adds, "In reality, the crises sweeping our societies force us to seek help though other people’s experiences."

Awadi, whose speech shifts effortlessly from Western thought to Islamic principle, nodded his head in agreement.

Iraq, he said, was long a militarized society, where in Hussein’s days "you either obeyed orders or you are killed." Awadi’s vision was a society in which opinions were respected and disputes were "not a reason for killing each other." The way to create that society was through the elections in January, he said, a process in which people’s opinions would be respected.

Read the whole thing.

Academic diversity one more time

Steven Lubet writes a clever column in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In the interest of exposing readers of NLT to a "diversity" of opinion, I thought I would post it here.

For the record, I have misgivings about legislative "solutions" like the "academic bill of rights" and Steven Balch’s proposal for a kind of academic consociationalism, especially when it’s instituted from on high.

Here’s my response in a letter to the editor I just sent:

I appreciated Professor Lubet’s provocative article, which did for me what caffeine can’t. But I have to take issue with the stereotypes he associates with conservatives and liberals. Contrary to his assertions, in my 30 years as a student and professor, I have come across plenty of competitive and aggressive liberals and plenty of conservatives who valued objectivity and free inquiry. Indeed, I wonder how much competitiveness it took Professor Lubet to win a position at one of America’s top law schools?

All sorts of people are attracted to higher education, to liberalism, and to conservatism. Let’s examine the ideas, rather than impugning motives or purveying misleading stereotypes. In other words, let’s work to deserve the trust we in higher education would like to have from the American people.

Chinese drank fermented adult beverages 9,000 years ago

The Ancient Chinese were consuming fermented beverages possibly wine as long as 9,000 years ago, according to scientists who used modern techniques to peer back through the mists of time.

Early evidence of beer and wine had been traced to the ancient Middle East. But the new discovery indicates that the Chinese may have been making their drinks even earlier. I don’t have to tell you that this is worth reading.


U.S. Civil Rights Commission

A bit of good news, although there is some question whether Mary Frances Berry will leave with grace: President Bush "will appoint two new members to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights this week, possibly as early as today, and replace panel Chairman Mary Frances Berry. Several sources close to the commission told The Washington Times yesterday that the new panel members will be Ashley Taylor, a former Virginia deputy attorney general, and Gerald Reynolds, the former assistant secretary in the Department of Education's civil rights office. The new members will replace Ms. Berry and Vice Chairman Cruz Reynoso on the eight-member panel."

In an unrelated matter, another member of the Civil Rights Commission, Jennifer C. Braceras reminds us that President Bush could appoint someone to the Supreme Court who has not been a judge.

Categories > Race

Liberal Education

Joe Knippenberg here and here
brought up some serious issues a few days ago. These issues--having to do with a liberal education and what we can (or should) expect from a college president--are very important, of course. A number of people have said they want to respond to this and have a conversation about it, yet are slow to respond, in part, because of the immediate end-of-semester schedules. So, while I expect further reflection on these matters, I don’t think it will get serious for another few weeks.

Yet, to help things along, I am including the following pieces from the Ashbrook web site. Christopher Flannery wrote Liberal Arts and Liberal Education a few years back. And David Foster wrote On the Goal of Liberal Education last year.
And this, Educating Citizens (somewhat longer), was a chapter in a book, now much revised, is also by Christopher Flannery.

Sarkozy and the French

The Economist published this long essay on Chirac, Sarkozy, and French politics in general late last month. I have forgotten about it, until now. It is a pretty good; with some insights into the problems the French are having. Unlike Chirac, Sarkozy is a "reformer" and he now has the opportunity to remake the ruling party, and eventually, to replace Chirac.

"Mr Sarkozy, by contrast, has no time for tradition for tradition’s sake. In an enlarged Europe, he argues that France can no longer rely on the Franco-German motor and needs to cultivate a group of six that also includes Britain, Spain, Italy and Poland. Atlantic-minded, he urges a milder approach to America. He advocates an overhaul of the French social model, pushing for less state regulation and a more flexible labour market; his inspirations are Britain and Spain, not moribund Germany. He considers that the French model of integration has failed French Muslims, and argues for American-style social engineering to help minorities advance. In short, where Mr Chirac urges caution and conservatism, Mr Sarkozy presses for modernisation and change. ’France is not eternal,’ says one of his aides. ’If it does not reform, it will disappear.’"

Putin’s Kiev problem

William Safire thinks that Putin has revealed himself for what he really is during the Ukraine electoral crisis: he is a dictator gripped by fear. And he has lost Ukraine; his despotic ways couldn’t prevent the flowering of freedom.


A reader sent this to me. Read it aloud as you try to remember how Hemingway felt when you once read him:

"I have been reading Hemingway lately. I don’t know why. Moveable Feast and then the Sun Also Rises. There’s a lot of Paris in them. Paris in the 20s. Maybe that’s part of it. Paris. In the 20s. But there are some people too and some loving and a little fighting. Not much fighting. Then there are the horse races and the horse betting and the drinking, lots of drinking, in the morning and the evening and the afternoon, but not too much horse betting or racing, though there is some loving, and there are the bulls and the bull fighting. Not in Paris. That is in Pamplona. But there is still loving in Pamplona, and drinking, and that is where the little fighting is. But it is mainly about the bulls in Pamplona or about the bull fighting or the bull fighters. It is about one bull fighter named Pedro Romero. He is beautiful and he is the real thing and he is still just a boy. That’s what makes it bad, what happens to him. But it is really about Brett. The loving and the drinking and the fighting and the badness."

Consequences of Ukraine crisis

Michael McFaul, of Stanford, argues that whatever the outcome of the Ukraine election crisis, Putin is the loser and it is time for us to re-evaluate our relationship with Russia. Very thoughtful. A sample: "Whoever wins, Russian president Vladimir Putin is a clear loser. No matter what the endgame, Putin has suffered a serious setback because of the way he tried to deal with his most important neighbor. Putin’s behavior has weakened Russia’s influence in strategic Ukraine and damaged the Russian president’s reputation in the West. It should call into question the Bush administration’s embrace of the Kremlin leader.

Putin fancies himself a foreign policy pragmatist,
adept at defending Russian national interests in a rational, dispassionate manner. In Ukraine, however, he has been exposed as a leader still driven by outdated ideological constructs like "spheres of influence" and "East versus West." The result is Putin’s greatest foreign policy disaster since he took office four years ago."   

Ohio and the vote

About 400 people marched
in Columbus demanding a recount, some shouting "welcome to the Ukraine." Also see here.
But, in fact, there are no extraordinary problems with the vote or the vote count. This is much to do about nothing. The editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer said:
"We have been chasing them down as they come up, and a lot of them are so groundless. We are finding that there were some legitimate counting errors and glitches in the computer system. But they were found and we have found no evidence of conspiracies or anything showing that the outcome would have been any different." The editor of the Columbus Dispatch said: "We have written a lot about it, but we have found very little evidence that anything has happened in the election that didn’t happen in every other [Ohio] election. Every rock we have turned over, we’ve found nothing."

He cited the state’s biggest election problem being too few voting machines. "But our analysis shows they had waits everywhere, in Democratic and Republican precincts."

Steve Rosenthal, the CEO of America Coming Together, argues--based on exit polls--that the Democrats lost Ohio not because the GOP had a better mobilization effort.

"The reason Kerry lost the election had much more to do with the war in Iraq and terrorism than the political ground war in Ohio. Terrorism trumped other issues at the polls -- including moral values -- and anxious voters tended to side with Bush.

• By 54 percent to 41 percent, voters decided that Americans are now safer from terrorist threats than four years ago, national exit polls said.

• By 55 percent to 42 percent, voters accepted Bush’s view that Iraq is a part of the war on terrorism. By 51 percent to 45 percent, they still approved of the decision to go to war (though a majority expressed concerns about how the war is going).

• Just 40 percent said they trusted Kerry to do a good job handling the war on terrorism, compared with 58 percent who felt that way about the president.

The Bush campaign was able to persuade some voters who supported Gore in 2000 to turn to Bush in 2004 on the issues of terrorism, strength and leadership. Bush bested Kerry among those who voted in 2000 by five percentage points -- Bush bested Gore in 2000 by three points.

The other major factor was our side’s failure to win the economic debate. Despite an economy that was not delivering for many working people in Ohio, the exit poll results show that voters in Ohio did not see Kerry providing a clear alternative. Just 45 percent expressed confidence that Kerry could handle the economy, compared with Bush’s 49 percent."

Bush attends Army-Navy game

President Bush
attended the Army-Navy game yesterday in Philadelphia. He said a few words to each team in their locker rooms, sat on the Army side, then switched to Navy at halftime. Who’s going to win?" a reporter shouted from 50 feet away. Bush hesitated a moment and said, "The United States of America." He got "a thunderous welcome," according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

What Was Lost

Another from Yeats, "What Was Lost."

I sing what was lost and dread what was won,

I walk in a battle fought over again,

My king a lost king, and lost soldiers my men;

Feet to the Rising and Setting may run,

They always beat on the same small stone.

Passing through nature to eternity, "I am Pat Tillman, damn it!", was the last thing he said. Steve Coll writes the first of two pieces for the Washington Post on the death of Pat Tillman.


Good morning. This is "The Everlasting Voices," by W.B. Yeats:

O sweet everlasting Voices, be still;

Go to the guards of the heavenly fold

And bid them wander obeying your will,

Flame under flame, till Time be no more;

Have you not heard that our hearts are old,

That you call in birds, in wind on the hill,

In shaken boughs, in tide on the shore?

O sweet everlasting Voices, be still.