Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Haditha and the Hurry to Condemn

Michelle Malkin nicely summarizes the facts and evidence that we now have concerning the alleged atrocities in Haditha. Without excusing what could be a horrific finding (if what is alleged turns out to be true) she argues, persuasively, for patience as more facts come in. But for perspective, her last line is her best and more or less says it all: ". . . I will remind you that while the murder of civilians is and remains an anomaly in American military history, it is the jihadists’ way of life."

"Anchors Away"

Nationally syndicated columnist Mona Charen’s latest column on immigration focusses attention on our argument challenging the popular myth that the Constitution mandates "birthright citizenship." People down on the border know that "birthright citizenship" provides a powerful incentive for illegal sojourns into the United States for purposes of giving birth on U.S. soil. Here’s how Austin Bay, editorial writer for the Houston Chronicle, reported what he calls the "baby predicament" in a May 20, 2006 column:

"At the first indications of impending birth, a pregnant Mexican woman crosses the border in a car. As her labor begins in earnest, her driver drops her off at the hospital. The doctors confront an immediate challenge: A baby is definitely being born. In the typical case, the soon-to-be mother has had no prenatal care. However, she has had a plan — her child will be born in the United States, come political hell in Washington or high water in the Rio Grande."

Talk to any doctor in El Paso, or any border town, for that matter, and you’ll get the same story. There is even a "birth tourism" industry in southern California, as recently reported by the Los Angeles NBC affiliate in a major expose, following an old 2002 Los Angeles Times story about South Koren "birth tourism" trips to the U.S.

All from a misunderstanding of our Constitution’s Citizenship Clause. We’ll keep pressing the point, because our very sovereignty, and the principle of government by consent, is at stake. My testimony on birthright citizenship before the House Immigration Committee in September 2005 is available here.

Politics, adjudication, and same-sex marriage

I thought a little more about Jonathan Rauch’s recent column, first discussed here, and put the result, for what it’s worth, in this week’s TAE Online column.

More Thoughts on Dress

All this talk of Nicholas Antongiavanni’s fine book, The Suit, reminds me of George Washington’s The Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation" (a list of rules which Washington copied and amended as an adolescent). In it, rule #52 instructs the reader that: "In your apparel be modest and endeavor to accommodate nature, rather than to procure admiration; keep to the fashion of your equals, such as are civil and orderly with respect to time and places." The point being that "style" ought to make one look good and respectable rather than to draw unnecessary attention to oneself. Thus Antongiavanni’s point is well taken that the mistake of "fashion" is very often the mistake of the young--who, lacking something more substantial to bring attention to themselves, seek out easier paths to glory (or "self-expression" as we now say). The only thing I regret about Mr. Antongiavanni’s fine book is that it is limited to style advice for men . . . but then, knowing the author as I do I can say with confidence that he has wisely so limited himself! But a companion volume for women is sorely needed!


Dan Balz has a lengthy piece in today’s WaPo on Hillary. Note this:

"On balance, most of those around Clinton say her hard-to-pigeonhole profile is a political asset -- the product, they say, of a curious intellect, the absence of rigid ideology, an instinct for problem solving and a willingness to seek consensus even across party lines. Her detractors see her career as the work of an opportunistic politician who has sanded the sharp edges off her views, so much so that there is little sense of authenticity when she speaks."


John Derbyshire reflects on citizenship, illegals, and Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt. 



Memorial Day

This is my 2004 Memorial Day Speech at the Ashland Cemetery, as a podcast. Remember the honorable and the brave on this Memorial Day!

Style, not fashion

My favorable mention of neckwear, which I disliked until having read The Suit, brougt forth some mirth. So a quick expansion of my sentiment. In The Suit Chapter XXI is called "Of Neckwear." It begins thus:

"The first conjecture that is made of the style of a man is to see his ties, for these ’come into the room almost before the man’; and when they are tasteful and suitable, he will always be reputed smart because he has known how to recognize them as tasteful and to wear them when suitable. But if they are otherwise, one can always pass unfavorable judgment on his tastes, because the first error he makes, he makes in this choice."

And Chapter XXV of The Suit is entitled, "How Much Fashion Can Do in Sartorial Affairs and in What MOde it May be Opposed." It ends thus:

"I conclude, thus, that as fashion varies from season to season, those men are well dressed whose prudence enables them to resist her charms, and those who cannot resist, ill dressed. I judge this indeed, that it is better to risk being thought hidebound than to entrust yourself to fashion, because fashion is a harlot; and it is necessary, if one wants to protect oneself, to beat her back and spurn her enticements. And one sees that she will try to trick you with siren songs, exposed flesh, and blown kisses. And so always, like a harlot, she is more successful in trapping the young, because they are less cautious, more impetuous, and lack the confidence to eschew the current."

The last chapter of The Suit is entitled, "Exhortation to Seize Dress and to Free It from the Vulgarians."

Truman and us

I heard Bush’s West point speech and agree with Joe that it was stirring. I am glad that he has brough Truman into focus so clearly. For more on how Truman was specifically American (rather than Wilsonian) see Elizabeth Edwards Spalding’s very fine book, The First Cold Warrior: Harry Truman, Containment, And the Remaking of Liberal Internationalism, just published. She also, by the way, has an article called "True Believers," in the current issue of The Wilson Quarterly. She examines religion in the White House by comparing the presidential faiths of George W. Bush, Woodrow Wilson and Harry Truman. (Not yet on line) The best bigraphy of Truman is by Alonzo Hamby.

Saddam: From Criminal to Clown

Meanwhile in Iraq, the trial of Saddam Hussein goes on, and Richard Cohen laments that it has become a "sputtering charade." Instead of bringing to light Saddam’s horrendous crimes, the trial is becoming more about George W. Bush:

I suppose the handwriting was on the wall when Michael Moore failed to mention Hussein’s crimes at all in his movie "Fahrenheit 9/11." Years from now, someone coming across the film could conclude that the United States picked on the Middle Eastern version of Switzerland. Now, all the weight is on one side of the moral scale.

Cohen would also like to know how many of those who opposed the Iraq War on moral grounds can, with clean consciences, support U.S. intervention in Darfur. Come to think of it, so would I.

A Kos convention in Vegas

Matt Bai reflects on this event, taking place next week. His conclusion: the new politics of the "netroots" will come to resemble the old politics. It’s not so much that all politics is local as it is that all politics must become tactile.

Politicians know that politics is, by its nature, a tactile business. New technology may change the way partisans organize and debate, and it may even spawn an entirely new political culture. But at the end of the day, partisans will inevitably be drawn to sit across the table from the candidates they support or oppose, just as votes will still be won and lost in banquet halls and airport hangars and all the other seedy, sweaty stalls of the political marketplace. Online politics can’t flourish in the virtual realm alone, any more than an online romance can be consummated through instant messaging.

He must, then, be hopeful about the domestication of the Kossacks, or indifferent to the effects of "disinhibition" on our political life.

Commencement at West Point

GWB delivers a stirring speech, honoring West Point’s Class of 2006, whose members enrolled after 9/11. He names the struggle--"the long war with Islamic jihadism"--and compares it to the Cold War, and himself (at least implicitly) to Harry Truman. As this article notes, the President "left it unsaid that Truman was deeply unpopular at the end of his two terms in office and that it took a generation to appreciate his achievements." A journalist who recognizes that he or she is writing the proverbial "first draft of history" ought to remember not only the first part of the sentence, but also the second part.


Robert Conquest reviews Geoffrey Hosking’s book on Russia. Also see Stephen Kotkin’s review of books on Russia in the current The New Republic (on line for subscribers only).

Machiavelli’s Suit

Nicholas Antongiavanni is a masterful writer, a deep thinker, and a man of wit. It is also possible that his soul is his clothes. Anyway, I got my first four copies of The Suit on Thursday; they were stolen by my friends by Friday. I ordered more, and advise you to do the same. I read into it enough to know that it may be akin to a sartor resartus of our time. It is a replay of
The Prince, chapter by wonderful chapter.
It will teach you style, and you will want it because Antongiavanni so desires it. I am now persuaded by style’s own knight and have become a lover of neckties! The book is an argument for a week, laughter for a month, and a good jest forever. If you lack wit in your mind and mirth in your heart then read it for the sake of power. As Mark Twain said: "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society." I love this book!

Rauch on federalism and gay marriage

Jonathan Rauch argues that the Marriage Protection Amendment is unnecessary, especially given the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. This is unpersuasive, since (of course) a subsequent President could reshape the character of the Court in any number of ways, some of which would permit the very thing proponents of the Marriage Protection Amendment fear--the federal judiciary imposing one state’s marriage regime on all the states, or imposing its own marriage regime on all the states.

Rauch’s other arguments are also unpersuasive. Consider, he says, abortion. Opponents of abortion want a federal solution there. Why not accept his federal solution here? My response is that, yes, many opponents of abortion argue that, absent any explicit Constitutional language, abortion ought to have been left for state regulation. But the Court, they also argue, was willing to impose a national solution on abortion. Why wouldn’t the Court be willing to impose a national solution on gay marriage? The language of equal protection seems more likely to yield that result (and the pieces--Lawrence v. Texas and Romer v. Evans--are in place) than in the case of privacy and abortion, which required a great deal more, shall we say, judicial ingenuity. So if everyone could be confident that no federal court would find any basis for imposing gay marriage on the nation, they might not be interested in an amendment. But Rauch’s reassurances, given his own position in the debate, are hardly comforting.

Rauch also argues conservatives are supposed to be friends of the legislature, but an amendment would take matters out of legislative hands. Sort of. After all, state legislatures would be called upon to ratify the amendment. At most, in other words, it would take matters out of some state legislatures’ hands (those that wanted to enact legislation providing for gay marriage).

But the bottom line concern remains the behavior of the judiciary, which Rauch tries to downplay or dismiss. I would prefer to make all these arguments in the legislative arena, but judges have a habit of not letting me do so.

I’ll concede Rauch’s point that the amendment is highly unlikely to attract 67 votes in the Senate, but so what? That doesn’t make it a merely political measure. If you’re trying to influence the wider culture, then this is precisely the sort of thing you do. And if you wait until the courts have presented you with a concrete problem, it may be too late effectively to do anything about it.

Searching Congressional offices

Truth be told, this brouhaha surprised me. House Speaker Denny Hastert’s initial position seemed untenable, and he’s come close to conceding as much. The best analysis I’ve seen is here and here.

Kmiec on the federal marriage amendment

Noted legal scholar Douglas Kmiec adds his voice to the chorus of concern about the threat that approval of gay marriage poses to religious liberty.

More Patrick Henry College

NPR’s Terry Gross interviews Michael Farris and fails to get him to say anything outrageous, though I suspect that more than a few regular NPR listeners might find him oddly chilling or chillingly odd. That isn’t to say that you’ll agree with everything you hear.

I mentioned before that the incoming Dean, Gene Edward Veith, blogs. He has posted his thoughts on his new job here and here.

Looking for a good book on Katrina?

This isn’t it. Any reader of Brinkley’s other works could have predicted as much.

Georgia evolution sticker case

A three judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has sent the case back down to the District Court, finding that the records of the trial proceedings are so incomplete as to preclude a ruling on the merits of the appeal.

We have concluded that the unfilled gaps in the record, coupled with the problematic nature of some of the district court’s factfindings, prevent proper appellate review of the merits of the important constitutional issues raised in this
case. For reasons we will explain, we have decided the best thing to do is remand
the case to the district court in order for it to conduct new evidentiary proceedings and enter a new set of findings based on evidence in a record that we will be able to review.

The panel, which included long-filibustered Bush nominee William Pryor, left it up to the lower court judge as to whether to conduct an entirely new trial:

[W]e leave
it to the district court whether to start with an entirely clean slate and a completely new trial or to supplement, clarify, and flesh out the evidence that it has heard in the four days of bench trial already conducted.

I think that it’s hard to predict how the panel will rule when it has a complete record before it. (I was amazed, on reading the opinion, as to how many problems there were in reassembling the evidence that apparently was before the trial judge.) In any event, the trial judge’s opinion (which ruled that the textbook stickers describing evolution as a theory, not a fact, "endorsed" religion, thereby violating the Establishment Clause) turned in large part on the sequence of events leading to the School Board’s adoption of the sticker. When I wrote about this decision before, I wasn’t impressed by the district judge’s opinion, which seems to take any outcome favored by religiously-motivated people as an impermissible endorsement of religion. For him, the question is simply whether the Board responded to their pressure in adopting the sticker. If they’re accommodating in anticipation of objections, that may be O.K., but if they’re responding to objections, that’s apparently not O.K. His opinion assumes the latter set of facts, but the record currently available doesn’t seem to support it. That the appellate court wants to have the facts straight does not mean that it will necessarily support his reasoning, assuming that the facts (as he understands them) can be established or reestablished.

If you want more, you can go here, here, here, and here. The pro-evolution folks at Panda’s Thumb anticipate an opportunity for the district court judge to apply the Dover ruling, which I criticized here. One of the commenters offered this nice little bit of bigotry:

Actually, I would welcome it if the Georgia crackers decided to allow the stickers. It would mean a Supreme Court case, which would kill ID once and for all, nationwide.

Update: The Discovery Institute has more analysis here, and there’s a very good article in the local Marietta paper here. This AJC article is more complete than the one linked above.

Debate over slavery in Ohio Senate

The Columbus Dispatch runs this article, "Senate Debate turns nasty," that tries to explain a "racially tinged" confrontation between Senator Ray Miller ("a black Columbus Democrat") and Senator Jeff Jacobson ("a white Republican from suburban Dayton"). Because it is not a long story you should read it yourself just to note how confusing it is. This may be a good exmaple of how not to write a news story. The article makes everything clear but the most important things: What was the cause of the confrontation and why was it racially tinged? The cause, somehow, had to do with "Lincoln’s actual view on slavery." Yet, this is not elaborated upon at all, save to say that the confrontation had to do (somehow) with a bill to declare September 22 Emancipation Day in Ohio (no further explanation is given) passed 33-0. The claim that the debate was "racially tinged" seems to have something to do with the fact that the President of the Senate (Sen. Bill Harris) put an end to the disorder (he called for a 10 minute recess). While Miller doesn’t claim that Harris is a racist, he says this: "What we have to be care of at all times is not to engage in some action that is racist, whether it is intended in a malicious manner or not." Another Democrat, C.J. Prentiss, however said this: "We absolutely perceived racist behavior. We’re not calling Bill Harris a racist, but it was racist behavior." I get it now. Thanks for the clarification. Why was it "racist behavior"? Perhaps this paragraph explains it:

"Democratic senators said they objected to Jacobson’s questioning Miller’s view on black history, including Lincoln’s stance on slavery. And they objected to Harris gaveling Miller out of order but allowing Jacobson to continue, even violating Senate rules by moving from behind his desk to continue the debate."

Well, maybe it doesn’t explain it, after all. I sure would like to know Miller’s opinion on "Lincoln’s stance on slavery" and what Jacobson’s objection to it was. Now, that would be interesting! Just for the record, Lincoln was always against slavery.

Update: A video of the exchange can be found here. The video does, however, end before the state troopers are called in.

Economy booming

The economy
"shot forward at an upwardly revised 5.3 percent annual rate in the first quarter, the fastest growth in 2-1/2 years, as companies built up inventories and exports strengthened."

Some Sources on Immigration

This article claims that "evidence that immigrants have harmed the opportunities of less educated natives is scant." This one suggests that immigrants’ effects on wages are minimal. Alan Krueger has demonstrated the same thing. Here’s a paper that goes so far as to suggest that the reverse is true; that "overall immigration generates a large positive effect on the average wages of U.S.-born workers."

Tyler Cowen tells us, in this op-ed, that "Americans have heard from politicians for more than 200 years that immigration will cause the sky to fall. Yet each time it has only made us stronger."Rachel Friedberg writes in the Quarterly Journal of Economics that mass immigration into Israel has had no adverse economic effects. Several other economists have reached the same conclusion. Richard Vedder and Lowell Galloway demonstrate here that native-born Americans are far more likely to become public burdens than are immigrants.

Did someone claim that there was no scholarly literature showing that immigration was anything but bad for the economy?

More commencement follies

I’m interested in readers’ comments about this speech and the ensuing brouhaha. Note that the speech was given at a Catholic institution by a graduating senior, chosen by students and faculty as an embodiment of the institution’s ideals and character.

At Dickinson College, the commencement speaker was alumnus John E. Jones, III (’77), the judge in the Dover Intelligent Design case. Here’s some of what he had to say in Carlisle this past Saturday:

As has been often written, our Founding Fathers were children of The Enlightenment. So influenced, they possessed a great confidence in an individual’s ability to understand the world and its most fundamental laws through the exercise of his or her reason. And that reason was best developed, they clearly believed, by a broad based liberal arts education that caused its recipients to engage the world by constantly questioning and persuading others.

Ironically, but perhaps fittingly for my purposes today, we see the Founders’ ideals quite clearly, among many places, in the Establishment Clause within the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This of course was the clause that I determined the school board had violated in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case. While legal scholars will continue to debate the appropriate application of that clause to particular facts in individual cases, this much is very clear. The Founders believed that true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in a Bible, but was to be found through free, rational inquiry. At bottom then, this core set of beliefs led the Founders, who constantly engaged and questioned things, to secure their idea of religious freedom by barring any alliance between church and state.

As I hope that you can see, these precepts and beliefs, grounded in my liberal arts education, guide me each day as a federal trial judge. I am daily exposed to many disciplines, I must learn and relearn things constantly, and I am at risk of deciding a case incorrectly if I accept that which is presented to me at face value.

And so what are the lessons for you in all of this? You are not children of The Enlightenment, but you are now the product of the closest we can come to approximating that---recipients of a strong liberal arts education. So allow me to then suggest these lessons. First, the fundamental idea behind what you have now accomplished is that you are leaving here with all of the tools, but you must use them wisely. The love of learning that I hope has been instilled in you, the tendency to question all that is around you, and the ability to engage the world, all of these things must not be left on this beautiful campus as you depart this weekend. These traits, now inculcated, must endure and be cultivated. Remember that Thomas Jefferson, throughout his life, accumulated a library of almost ten thousand books. George Washington died with nearly a thousand volumes in his collection. These gentlemen read voraciously, including daily newspapers and periodicals.

I find myself in agreement with Judge Jones on at least this: "the practice of law ought to rest on a foundation of liberal learning" (which is what I said he appeared to lack in his Kitzmiller opinion).

I would say that his liberal education left him a dogmatic rationalist (mistakenly attributing that stance as well to all the founders and assuming that it alone animated the Establishment Clause), but there’s also this:

Joseph Campbell was a lifelong student and teacher of the human spirit and mythology. Some of you may have studied him. He said something that I read once and never forgot. It has guided me in my life, and I would suggest that it should guide yours. Campbell said this: "I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time--namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be."

When he reaches for spiritual depth, he gets Joseph Campbell and following one’s bliss!!!! So he’s not simply a dogmatic rationalist. He’s aware, however dimly, of the limits of rationalism, but its aridity (at least as he experiences it) has left him nowhere interesting or profound to turn. This is unfortunate, given Dickinson’s roots.

Update: Christianity Today notes that Jones’s views are contrary to those of John Dickinson, his alma mater’s namesake, which of course isn’t sufficient to refute his view of religion, but may be adequate further to question his view of history. A belated hat tip to Rob Vischer.

More higher ed stuff

Vincent J. Cannato reviews this book on Harvard, which probably ought to be read in conjunction with Ross Douthat’s Privilege, about which I blogged here.

The conclusion of the new book seems to be that Harvard is solipsistic, standing for nothing other than itself:

The core of this book, though, is a defense of the idea that universities should be about something. What makes an educated person? Unfortunately, too many professors and administrators, if they ever bother to think about it, would have difficulty answering the question beyond the pabulum found in most university brochures.

So how does Harvard define an educated person? A Harvard education, the university states, "must provide a broad introduction to the knowledge needed in an increasingly global and connected, yet simultaneously diverse and fragmented world." Mr. Lewis, rightfully dismissive, notes that the school never actually says what kind of knowledge is "needed." The words are meaningless blather, he says, proving that "Harvard no longer knows what a good education is."

Such institutional incoherence has consequences. In his sharpest criticism, Mr. Lewis charges that Harvard now ceases to think of itself as an American institution with any obligation to educate students about liberal democratic ideals. As the school increasingly focuses on "global competency," the U.S. is "rarely mentioned in anything written recently about Harvard’s plans for undergraduate education." In the absence of agreement on common values or a core curriculum, anything goes. Echoing Allan Bloom’s critique of relativism, Mr. Lewis writes that at Harvard "all knowledge is equally valued as long as a Harvard professor is teaching it."

I’ve written before about the vacuousness of Harvard’s educational "ideals," which, I fear, will, er, inspire imitators across the country.

I’ve also written about the thinness of moral community on our college campuses, which (I fear) reflects but also informs the society at large.

All of this leads me back to commencement addresses. I think that commencement speakers should be chosen carefully, because they are supposed to embody the characteristics the college or university honors. I think that the argument made by those who objected to Condoleezza Rice as a commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient should be taken seriously. The university should stand for something, and why not "the values of the Catholic and Jesuit traditions" and "humanistic values"? (I know, I know: let’s spell it out, rather than relying on shorthand; and let’s avoid overused and vacuous words like "values.") This ought to be the subject of a serious discussion, before the commencement speaker is chosen, not the subject of a subsequent protest (outside the bounds of university procedure, with no likelihood of actually influencing the decision and every likelihood of simply enabling political posturing).

While I disagree with those off campus who protested Secretary Rice’s presence, they’re just doing what Americans are entitled to do. On campus, however, the decision has been made, the arguments have been conducted. It’s time to be a graceful and respectful host, recognizing that this is not the time to flaunt one’s opinions.

Bottom line: let’s have serious discussions of the good life everywhere on college campuses. If we have them, we’ll likely make better decisions, not only about who to invite to speak at commencement (not that I object to the invitations extended by BC and New School University), but also about how we should conduct ourselves as citizens of these United States.

Ceasar’s essay

Joe Knippenberg brought this Jim Ceasar essay to our attention a few days ago (and I noted his book Nature and History a few months ago). I finally got around to reading the essay on the ideas that move American politics. It is very good, and I recommend it. I think he has it essentially right.   


This is hard to resist, from The Onion. (Hat tip: NRO)


Edwin Meese considers the amnesty question by reminding us of the debates in 1986. 

The awful German language

Do the Garmans have a sense of humor or not? Maybe they cannot, given the structure of the language. Mark Twain may be relevant here.

New Blog

Daniel McKivergan has a good post on China (and note the India reference and link at bottomn) at the Weekly Standard blog. Take a look.

Gephardt’s doubts

Former Rep. Dick Gephardt said something intelligent the other day. When asked if the Dems could take back the House he said this: "If the election were today, we’d win back the House, but it is not today."

Commencement follies

Is the title of this week’s TAE Online column. There are plenty of complicated issues here, and I only broach some of them. What I will affirm without question is that Condoleezza Rice and John McCain were more grown-up and indeed closer to the spirit that ought to prevail on campus (not necessarily in their conclusions but rather in the way that they encounter disagreement) than were their detractors, some of whom had received their college degrees a long time ago.

Democrats and evangelicals yet again

The WaPo’s Ruth Marcus weighs in, worried that Democrats might go too far in wooing evangelical voters. A snippet or two will give the flavor:

The risk is that, in the process of maneuvering, Democrats’ reframing and rebranding could edge into retreating on core principles. It was unsettling to hear Dean -- in the process of cozying up to evangelicals -- mangle the party platform, saying, incorrectly, that it states that "marriage is between a man and a woman." In fact, while deliberately silent on marriage, the platform supports "full inclusion of gay and lesbian families . . . and equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections."

This would be the Democratic Party whose President in 1996 signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law, and 118 of whose House members and 30 of whose Senators (including such luminaries as Joe Biden, Christopher Dodd, Tom Harkin, Herbert Kohl, Patrick Leahy, Harry Reid, and, yes, even the late Paul Wellstone) voted for it. In 1996 taking this stance was the expedient thing to do; now expediency can be served just as well by silence.

But wait, there’s more:

Likewise, it’s fine for Hillary Clinton to talk about the "tragedy" of abortion, or for Democrats to emphasize the importance of reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies. But I get awfully nervous when Redeem the Vote’s Brinson says of abortion, "As long as the national Democratic Party makes that a centerpiece of their platform or something they’re advocating, as long as that’s front and center and they’re saying women have a right to do this, it’s going to turn off religious voters."

So, by all means, let Democrats woo evangelicals and cast the message in a way that speaks to religious voters. But in doing so, keep in mind: What does it profit a party to gain a demographic but lose its soul?

Read that last sentence again: support for abortion is the "soul" of the Democratic Party. Ramesh Ponnuru, call your office.

No post-Katrina gas gouging

Michael DeBow has the rundown.

The state of the GWOT

Ralph Peters offers the following midterm grades:

Our global report card right now? A for effort. B for results. C for consistency. D for media integrity. And F for domestic political responsibility.

As they say, read the whole thing.

Hat tip (because a curtsy would be unmanly): Wheat and Weeds.

They’re Assimilating

Among the enemies of American Kultur is Alvaro Vargas Llosa, who recites a few inconvenient facts:

The states with the largest Hispanic population are the ones with the lowest unemployment rates.

A third of Hispanic Americans have average household incomes over $50,000, and the rate of growth in purchasing power among Hispanic Americans over the past ten years is triple the national average.

Eighty-three percent of Hispanic Americans speak English, and 60 percent of them were born in the United States.

Hispanic Americans are learning English faster than did Italian and Polish immigrants a century ago, and 30 percent of Hispanic Americans are marrying non-Latinos.

Gore and Perot

Here is the New York profile of Al Gore (is he running?). Do note, as Byron York does, this comment by Gore on the Perot factor in ’92 and ’96:

"In both 1992 and 1996, Bill Clinton and I were very fortunate to have a significant third-party candidate that drew virtually all of his votes from the Republican nominee. By contrast, in 2000, there was a third-party candidate drawing from me."

The great immigration question

Here is Mark Helprin on the immigration debate, and the coming together of political opposites. A left that disdains America and a business right both is "similar to the self-satisfaction of those who would have sold Lenin the rope with which he planned to hang them. This is the lobby, strange as it may seem, for illegal immigration." The importation of labor, he asserts, is the essence of the illegal immigration question.

Update: You had also better read Mark Steyn on why this is really NOT an illegal immigration issue at all.

Yes, and that’s exactly what worries us!

Hillary Clinton to the New York Post (commenting on the musical selections on her iPod):

"I’m a child of the ’60s and ’70s."

Is this political Hell yet?

Are there more GOP House seats in play now than there were a month ago? Are the House races being "nationalized"? Adam Nagurney says yes to both questions. Richard A. Viguerie (surprise!) thinks that conservatives have been betrayed and, "Sometimes it is better to stand on principle and suffer a temporary defeat." He is willing for that defeat to come. He cites examples, but, of course, his examples are incomplete. Still, he wants to feel good about himself, and he likes being angry. So, not only are white conservatives moving away from Bush and the GOP, but so are Latinos, according to Thomas Edsall. There are some stretchers in the article for sure, yet there is something to all this drumbeat. On the other hand, nothing stays the same in politics. Pretty soon the Dems will have to start talking and taking positions; that will be telling.

Fradkin on Ahmadinejad’s letter

While this piece by Hillel Fradkin covers some of the same ground discussed by Amir Taheri, Fradkin offers still more analysis, of which this is a sample:

The Muslim world, for its part, is rich with the opportunities created by great longing, great resentment, and great anger. Those longings (for a more glorious role for Islam) and those resentments (over the fallen estate of Islam) have been brewing for a long time. For those in the Muslim world moved by these sentiments, the attacks of September 11, 2001, offered the satisfaction of a victory and produced admiration for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

But Osama also promised further victories, that this was the beginning, not the end, of the new Islamic jihad. And in this he has not been successful, presumably because of the vigor of American and allied attacks on al Qaeda in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Even in Iraq, where al Qaeda under the direction of Abu Musab al Zarqawi keeps up the battle, it has not yet achieved its aim of driving American forces out and may not. Moreover, its engagement in Iraq has had liabilities for al Qaeda, which were the substance of al-Zawahiri’s letter of last summer. Al Qaeda as such may be in decline.

In these circumstances, Ahmadinejad has attempted to step into bin Laden’s place as the leader of the radical Islamic movement, as the man with the will and capacity to challenge and threaten the United States. Ahmadinejad has already enjoyed some success in parts of the Muslim world. This has been accompanied by the resurgence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and especially Palestine, where Hamas won control of the Palestinian Authority. This has permitted him to assert, as he does in his letter, that the forces of radical Islam--or, as he would have it, simply Islam--are on a roll. Ahmadinejad has bent every effort to support and join forces with Hamas and may well succeed. And, as always, he has Hezbollah in Lebanon at his disposal.

From all these developments, the radical movement has gained renewed confidence in the claim, first put forward by Osama bin Laden, that its adversaries, principally the United States, do not have the stomach for a long fight, or even a short one. Islam’s enemies can and will be pushed back and defeated by radical forces, because the latter, unlike their enemies, do not fear death and even welcome it. They can even, as Ahmadinejad recently said, accept the possibility of nuclear war as a necessity of the struggle. Altogether the spirits of the radical Islamic movement are high, and Ahmadinejad is the most powerful voice of that spirit.

Fradkin’s conclusion:

[W]hat is known, or what should be known and deeply grasped, is that everything Ahmadinejad--and for that matter the radical movement as a whole--does is guided by an ideological vision and commitment. It needs to be addressed as such. For the moment and not only for the moment, this requires that liberal democrats declare that they have no intention of abandoning their way of life and see no need to do so, since they are fully prepared to defend it and because that way of life provides the resources--political, economic, and military--to defend itself.

It is necessary to inform Ahmadinejad and his radical allies that they are in for a real fight. This may not suffice to lead them to question their fundamental assumption and inspiration that we are on the run. But it may give pause to the many Muslims and non-Muslims standing on the sidelines, who see radical success and do not see American or Western resolve.

Of course the best person to make the first such declaration is President Bush--not as a Christian but as the world’s leading liberal democrat. And not to Ahmadinejad, for whom a direct reply would be a victory, but to the Iranian people, the Muslim world, and the non-Muslim world.

Unlike GWB, who ultimately professes confidence in everyone’s innate longing to be free, Fradkin offers no such assurances. What is necessary, regardless of how one answers the question regarding the universal attractiveness of liberal democracy, is resoluteness in its defense. The expression of resoluteness (at which GWB has been quite good, as have others in the Anglosphere) is, however, only a beginning. The words and deeds have to be sustained. For a long time.

Hat tip: Powerline, which also calls our attention to this piece by Amir Taheri, which insists upon the (still disputed) authenticity of Iranian laws requiring non-Muslims to wear distinctive badges.

Bernardini Wins the Preakness

There’ll be no Triple Crown winner this year, as Barbaro, winner of the Kentucky Derby and favorite of all the handicappers in today’s race, suffered a leg injury when he came out of the starting gate prematurely. Just seconds into the actual race Barbaro’s jockey pulled up on the reins.

Bill Finley at ESPN was one of the few who thought that there was far too much fuss being made over Barbaro’s chances for a Triple Crown. Of course, Finley’s favorite was Brother Derek....

More People = More Prosperity

Over at TCS Daily, Don Boudreaux punctures the argument that the United States can’t absorb any more immigrants.

McCain at the New School

Once, this was the place that housed those who fled tyranny in Europe. Now, when in a chilling reminder of the past, Iranian Jews and Christians are being forced to wear colored badges, students at the New School respond in a rude and childish manner to John McCain’s commencement address. A sample:

He eventually enters into a Bushian rift: “All people share the desire to be free”; “human rights are above the state and beyond history”; we are “insisting that all people have the right to be free.” Someone shouts: “We’re graduating, not voting!” Lots of derisive shouts and laughter and applause.

As McCain continues with a personal story, a student shouts: “It’s about my life, not yours.” McCain:

“When I was a young man, I thought glory was the highest value...” Groans from the students. “It’s not about you!” “Sit down!”

McCain circles back around to the theme of civility: “We are not enemies, we are compatriots...” Boos, shouts. McCain: It “should remain an argument among friends”; we should be “respectful of the goodness in each other.” Literally one person applauds.

McCain goes on to tell his story about his reconciliation with an opponent of the Vietnam War: “I had a friend once...” Groans, boos.

He talks about forgiving his friend who dissented from the war. Hostile rumblings from the students.

He says after the reconciliation, he and his friend “worked together for shared ideals.” A shout: “We don’t share your ideals!” As McCain closes there is a mix of boos and applause, and a few people even stand to clap.

This needs no further commentary.

Update: The report about Iranian legislation appears to be incorrect, but not the report of how badly McCain was treated. The graduates insisted that the occasion was intended to honor them, but those who behaved rudely were not themselves honorable. Should we take the New School grads as exemplars of how to behave hospitably to our guests? Or how we should conduct our discussions?

Greatest Love

The Ashbrooks have the opportunity of writing essays and thereby be honored with the Taylor Awards. This essay by James Kresge was one of the winners last semester. Because it has to do with Avi Zaffini, a Marine now in Iraq, I thought you might be interested in reading it.  

Democrats and evangelicals again

I wrote on this theme some time ago, responding in part to a previous article by the tireless Amy Sullivan, who is at it again. This time she argues that some evangelicals can be won over by stressing environmental issues--"creation care," so to speak, or stewardship, if you’re just a little old-fashioned.

There are at least two things wrong with her picture. First, she virtually concedes that environmental issues can largely be tie-breakers, assuming all other things are equal (two pro-life or two pro-choice candidates, for example). Rick Santorum should be worried, but how many other Republicans will be facing credibly pro-life Democratic opponents this fall? (Michael Barone surely knows; I don’t, but I suspect that there can’t be more than a handful in House and Senate races.) The folks, it seems to me, who have more to worry about, given Sullivan’s own argument are pro-choice Republicans, who can’t count on abortion to differentiate themselves from their Democratic opponents.

Second, in her effort to persuade Democrats to get serious about the evangelical vote, Sullivan regales us with stories of Democratic ham-handedness.

Whether Democrats take advantage of this turning point remains to be seen. At the local level, they have made a good start, with unprecedented efforts by state parties to reach out to evangelicals. Following the example of newly elected Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, some Democratic candidates have launched ads on religious radio stations, and state party leaders have met with evangelical and Catholic leaders to "clear the air." In some cases, these gatherings represent the first time the two groups have ever sat down with each other. While Democrats know they won’t win over conservative evangelicals, they realize there is an advantage to improving their image in the broader religious community. "You don’t have to convert everybody; you just have to take the edge off," one state party leader explained. "Now that they’ve met me, they can see I don’t have two horns and a tail."

Unfortunately, this enthusiasm in the states has not yet been matched by support from the national party. In part, that’s because many professional Democrats continue to believe that evangelicals aren’t "their" voters--or they confuse evangelicals with fundamentalists and so assume the whole demographic is out of reach. These assumptions may explain the general tone-deafness with which some leaders approach evangelicals. In the summer of 2005, an unnamed party official explained Democratic outreach to evangelicals this way to U.S. News and World Report: "We’re dealing with a serious bloc of people, not just crazies with big Bibles." Imagine Ken Mehlman explaining Republican outreach to black voters by saying, "These are not just lazy high school dropouts."

When Howard Dean attempted to make things better in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, he just made them worse. Tellingly, if unintentionally, he distinguished Democrats from Christians: "We [Democrats] have an enormous amount in common with the Christian community and particularly with the evangelical Christian community." And he bobbled the answer to repeated questions about the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) evangelical outreach efforts. First, Dean responded by mentioning that his chief of staff, Leah Daughtry, is a Pentecostal minister. Then, sensing that was insufficient, he named some black and Hispanic religious leaders with whom he had met as part of a "vigorous outreach program." Officially, the DNC has a name for this program: the "Faith in Action Initiative." Alas, that initiative--which Daughtry describes as a way "to help state parties develop faith outreach programs"--has done little to actually help state efforts, at least according to the handful of party chairs I called. And, while the party has hired a staffer to oversee outreach to black churches and is searching for another to meet with Catholics, there are no plans to hire a counterpart for white evangelicals.

I’m tempted also to revisit the work I did for my Patrick Henry posts, calling attention to this AmSpec piece, written by incoming PHC president Graham Walker, which on some level echoes worries I’ve heard voiced in other contexts about the "liberal" tendencies of elite evangelical colleges: without a substantial intellectual tradition of their own, they’re more susceptible to being influenced by "the culture."

This leads me to ask two questions. First, are the moderate noises that Amy Sullivan discerns a result of the "evolution" of some portion of evangelical higher education? My friends at Touchstone might have a thing or two to say about that.

Second, ought the folks at Patrick Henry to be a little concerned about perhaps losing touch with the Reformed and even (shudder!) the Roman Catholic traditions that might give greater intellectual heft and stability to their conservatism?

A last point and then I’m done: over at Mere Comments, James M. Kushiner and Russell Moore wonder how much influence the National Association of Evangelicals really has.

Patrick Henry College update

It turns out that one of the protagonists at Patrick Henry College describes himself as a loyal NLT reader. Erik Root, whose essay on St. Augustine was no longer available at its original location, provided a copy to me. You can read it for yourself here, thanks to the efforts of Ashbrook’s Ben Kunkel.

If you haven’t had your fill of PHC-related material, you can work your way through this spirited exchange of posts or engage in some Schadenfreude with this columnist and his commenters.

For those of you not up on your 17th century theology, some of what’s going on here is a debate between Calvinists and Arminians, not to be confused with Armenians. The incoming president of PHC, Graham Walker, sounds kinda Arminian to me. The college’s statement of faith would seem to encompass both contending points of view, but it remains to be seen how big the tent really is.

Right now, PHC looks a little more like an enclave and a little less like an instrument for engaging the culture.

Update: My further and somewhat more formally stated thoughts are in an op-ed here.

Update #2: A WaPo article here.


Joseph Knippenberg and I had a good conversation about higher education, the liberal arts, and such matters. Joe’s one of the smart guys on these issues, and he is worth hearing. Of course, there was not enough time....but, we’ll do it again. Thanks, Joe.

Can We Kiss and Make Up?

Jed Babbin has a thoughtful examination of the troubles brewing between conservatives and the President. Do we need to enter couples therapy to avoid the divorce that will, as he puts it, give Nancy one house and Hillary a white one?

Babbin thinks, "[w]hat drives conservatives bonkers is Mr. Bush’s failure to speak and act decisively on the problems we think most urgent." Uhhhhh . . . yeah. That about sums it up.

On the other hand, saying that is not such a good starting place for therapy. Why not, as they say, let’s discuss the things we like about each other? I’ll go first: W., I like it when you talk tough. I loved it when you, standing at ground zero in front of the firemen, spontaneously told the terrorists they were going to hear from all of us soon. That was very, very fine and an inspiring moment that has carried me through many a hard journey with you. Because when you said that, I knew you meant it. I knew then that whatever may be our disagreements about this or that particular thing involving the carrying out of the war, you mean business about conducting it and you’re going to do the best that any man possibly can given the circumstances. You made me trust you. So I guess what I’m asking for here is another example of that. Can you inspire us all in the right direction here? How about let’s quit talking about policy for now and talk about what it means to be an American? I’m for (and I think most folks are for) letting anyone who really wants to sign up for that difficult job have a go at jumping through the hoops. But let’s be clear about what an American is first. Then, when I trust you again, we can have a grown up discussion about what those hoops should be. O.K., your turn.

The Al Gore Code

With lots of chatter over the last 24 hours that The Da Vinci Code movie is something of a plodding bore, what kind of an omen might this be for the film about the guy who’s name rhymes with "bore"--An Inconvenient Truth?

If you’re keeping up with this subject, here’s my latest article on climate policy from the current issue of National Review, and if there are any NLT readers in New York, I’m debating NASA’s chief climate alarmist James Hansen next Tuesday evening. The forum is free and open to the public, and you can get the details here.

The Rewards of Parenting and the Decline in the Birthrate

Glenn Reynolds has an interesting post today pontificating on the possible connection between the declining birthrates in this and other industrialized countries and the increasing burdens of parenthood. He doesn’t mean that parents have suddenly acquired real responsibilities that previous generations did not have--but our collective psyche has willingly taken on burdens that our grandparents would have repudiated.

Think especially, of the safety craze--you know that tendency to want to encase your precious charges in bubble wrap? Everything from car seats, to hyper "parental involvement" in the schools, to organized "play dates", to chaperoned after-school activities that require chauferring--all these things whether for the ultimate good or ill of the children--have undoubtedly added to the social cost of raising children. Unless you are a celebrity and can give your kid a completely wierd name like "Apple" and wear them like an accessory, there is little social prestige associated with being a parent these days. Reynolds argues that the trend away from minivans to SUVs is a small piece of the evidence supporting that claim. If it were considered more prestigious to be a parent than it is to be an outdoorsman, people would put their kayaks on top of their minivans rather than pack their kids into an SUV.

Having said all of that, I have to plead guilty to alot of the new parenting sins Reynolds spells out. My kids have play dates; they are in (some, but not too many) organized activities; they cannot roam the neighborhood without adult supervision; I’m very involved in their schools; I drive an SUV (though we actually do use it for towing); and I generally wouldn’t think of putting them in a car without a carseat. Why? I think it come down to a fundamental issue of trust. It’s not so much a question of trust for our children (though I acknowledge that can sometimes be a problem) but trust for other adults. It is particularly difficult to trust adults who are supposed to be in charge. Again, why? I think it is because unlike my parents or my grandparents’ generations, it is not safe to assume that most other adults (even adults with children) are coming at life from the same basic moral outlook. I think parents "hover" (as our principal likes to say) these days because they don’t really believe that they safely can do otherwise. I think there is a real sense in which parents these days know how precious their children are but no longer believe (or have much reason to believe) that the rest of society shares in that opinion. The safety craze, in my view, is the natural and loving reaction of good parents to a society that is indifferent (at best) and sometimes openly hostile to the best interests of children. A small example of this: Driving home from a field trip to the Long Beach Aquarium last week another mother and I with our two 6 year-olds in the back seat, were astonished by the question from one of them, "What is ’better than sex’?" Until we realized that they were reading a billboard on the freeway advertising for a radio station! You can’t even drive in your own car for an innocent 1st grade field trip without these kind of assaults on decent sensibilities!

Hat tip: Richard Samuelson at The Remedy.

Jaroslav Pelikan, R.I.P.

Jaroslav Pelikan passed away Saturday. He was born in Akron. This is the New York Times obituary, and this review of one of his books is also worth reading. I always thought that Pelikan’s Jesus Through the Centuries was a very fine book.

Academic hiring

This, unfortunately, is S.O.P., though not necessarily at the "distinctive" places. Hat tip: Mike DeBow.

War and civic responsibility

This week’s TAE Online column takes as its point of departure the WaPo article I noted here.

In it, I act the heretic, suggesting (shudder!) that in the name of republican virtue we raise gasoline taxes.

I suppose that this makes it even less likely that I’ll join Steve’s august company (for which, by the way, congratulations are very much in order).

I Knew I Liked Australia

I didn’t think I’d experience an unsolicited endorsement for my Age of Reagan
as nice and fulsome as Jonah Goldberg’s on The Corner a couple weeks ago, but now Jonah has competition from the Prime Minister of Australia. I was puzzled to have been invited to the White House state dinner for Howard last night--I figured it had to be a computer glitch or some other grand confusion. Just check the guest list and see if you can spot who’s out of place.

But then I went through the receiving line, whereupon Prime Minister Howard hears my name and says, "You’re a writer!"

Me: "Um. . . yes."

PM Howard: "The Age of Reagan, right?"

Me: "Why yes. You actually know of it??" (The book has sold exactly 2 copies in Australia.)

PM Howard: "I just finished it."

Pres. Bush: "Is it a good book?"

PM Howard: "Terrific book."

Pres. Bush (to me): "He’s well briefed."

Cue to photographer. Meanwhile, I’ve started packing our bags to move to Australia.

Kenny Chesney was good; Bush clearly likes to boogie to country music; he was bipping and bopping in his chair. Other cabinet members who I won’t name looked more like Easter Island statues during the set.

P.S. One reason The Age of Reagan tended to escape wider notice (outside of NLT and the Ashbrook Center that is) is that it arrived in bookstores on September 10, 2001, and was, needless to say, overtaken by events, though it did receive good print reviews. Volume 2, on the Reagan presidency itself, is taking me forever to get done for a variety of reasons, but for those of you who keep e-mailing, it is on the way!

Not Even a Single

President Bush didn’t quite strike out with his speech last night, it seems to me. What he did was, arguably, worse. He tried to bunt--but it got caught. See, if you haven’t already heard, Hugh Hewitt’s interview with I.C.E. Asst. Secretary, Julie Myers. It’s titled "How to undo the impact of a Presidential address in one easy lesson" by Radioblogger, but I’m not sure there was much impact to undo. There is a basic problem of trust in politics. When you haven’t got it there isn’t much you can say to earn it. You certainly cannot go around saying things that attempt to appeal across the wide spectrum of opinion that the President tried to attract last night. When no one believes you to begin with, you look even more vacuous and pathetic.

Let me try to be more clear: I do not doubt that the President is sincere in his wish to deal with a problem that is--largely--inherited and certainly messy. But his thought on the matter continues to display--to my way of thinking--a kind of soft-headed compassion that just is not useful. If you cannot wrap your mind around the importance of the fence and securing the southern border, period, whatever it takes--and continue to muddy the waters with perepheral questions of "guest workers" etc., there is something huge missing from your sense of priority. If it were me, I would simply drop all talk of what to do about the illegals who are here--for now. Fix this problem and then pick that up again when it is reasonable to discuss it.

By way of segue to the question of what to do about illegals who are here--he needs to begin talking in a serious way about what it means to be a citizen of this country. What are our rights and what obligations do we have if we mean to protect them? What ought we to expect from our fellow Americans? How ought we to think about questions of patriotism and love of country? We cannot begin to address the problem of assimilating some 12 million or more immigrants--legal or otherwise--unless and until we seal the border and understand what citizenship in America means.

Public reaction to the President’s immigration speech

It’s hard not to regard this CNN poll as good news, though its value is limited by the overall composition of the polling group, more Republican than the population at large (since--however unfortunate this may be--Republicans are more likely to watch a speech by a Republican president than are others).

You can read and watch the speech here. The folks at National Review didn’t much like it, thought the site’s symposiasts had a few--only a few--nice things to say, amidst much criticism and grumbling.

I await the inevitable editorial by Bill Kristol, with whose mildly positive comments I found myself in agreement last night.

Catholic Church, actually Cardinal Mahony, and immigration again

This is interesting, though I don’t think it violates the church’s tax-exempt status. Stanley Kurtz wonders about the double standard, but the encouragement of immigration activism comes from the top and the dissociation with pro-life activism seems to come, in this case, from the parish priest.

Patrick Henry College

Someone asked in the comments on another post about this LAT story regarding Patrick Henry College, about which I know a bit.

Here’s an earlier story covering some of this ground, as well as another from the same source (a local Virginia paper).

You can read the article that caused some of the brouhaha here. I regard it as unexceptionable.

PHC’s new president is Graham Walker, author of these books. PHC’s new academic dean is Gene Edward Veith, who blogs here. I wish them all the best as they navigate through a rough patch in PHC’s development.

Update: There’s more on this issue here. Unfortunately, another article that is, shall we say, of interest, "Of St. Augustine and Politics," originally published here in a PHC magazine, is no longer available on the web. If anyone out there has a copy they’re willing to send my way, please do so.

There is one misleading feature of the piece in CT. I’m not altogether certain of the timing, but the search for an academic dean long antedated this particular controversy, and while there is some coincidence in Michael Farris’ announcement that he was stepping away from the college presidency and the publication of the currently unavailable article, I suspect (but do not know) that the change in roles had to be in the works long before the article was published. In other words, even if this controversy hadn’t broken, PHC would have had a new president and a new academic dean.

Update #2: Here’s a re-posted version of an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, otherwise available only to subscribers. Hat tip: Michael DeBow.

Jim Ceaser on blue vs. red

Jim Ceaser is one of our best commentators linking theory and practice in American politics. If you haven’t read Reconstructing America, The Perfect Tie, or Red Over Blue (the latter two with Andrew Busch), you simply must. His latest is Nature and History in American Political Development: A Debate, which I just ordered via the Ashbrook site.

You can find what appears to be a summary of that book’s argument in this essay (a 25 page pdf), which is the "framing essay" for this conference. The essay ranges widely over the American political spectrum, offering incisive commentary on tendencies and theories on both the Left and Right. Here’s the concluding paragraph:

The non-foundationalist position represents a utopian experiment that has as yet no basis in real political science. Nothing in experience suggests it could ever work, at least for a nation that is tasked with performing an important role on the stage of world history. Without a foundational principle, even more without the moral energy that derives from a concern for foundational principle, a community cannot exist in a deep or meaningful sense. And without this energy, a community would be unable to extract from its members the added measure of devotion and resolve that are needed for its survival and for undertaking any important projects. What is involved, ultimately, in the shift to non-foundationalism is an evacuation of what makes a nation. When the illusion of a genuine nation existing without foundations is finally acknowledged--if it is acknowledged--political life will return to the real political question: which is not whether to have a foundation, but rather, which one(s) to embrace and in what mixture. This conclusion only gets us back to where sensible political life begins, which is finding foundational remedies to the problem most incident to foundational thinking. On that ground, and on that ground alone, let the polarization continue.

Read the whole thing.   

A duel

A Rubik’s Cube on a subway, comes an unlikely vendor, and a choice. A good very short story.

Updike’s "Terrorist"

Christopher Hitchens writes what might be the perfect example of a book review, that is, if you want to do harm to the book and great pain to the author, in this case John Updike. Too bad, but you can’t get the whole thing on line. Worth the price for the paper copy of the current Atlantic.

Al Gore-Comedian

Being middle-aged these days (aaaaghh!!), I seldom stay up late enough to see Saturday Night Live anymore. So I missed Al Gore in his comedy debut (some would say his comedy debut was his 1992 book Earth in the Balance, or his 2000 campaign). The complete video can be viewed at Expose the Left. (Idle query: who needs to "expose the Left" when they’re so busy exposing themselves?? Never mind.)

The parallel universe Gore paints is, of course, a liberal fantasy, bit who doubts lots of libs think it plausible.

The Commons

Here is Hayward’s "other" blog The Commons: "The Commons Blog is a collaborative web log dedicated to the principle of promoting environmental quality and human dignity and prosperity through markets and property rights. Put more simply, it’s about free markets protecting the environment." Note the explanation for the name. He also blogs at The Corner, and his better half (Allison) has her own blog, Skeptics Eye where she talks about campaign finance issues. By the way, do note that she is, shall we say...ahem...slightly better looking than Steve.

The letter

Amir Taheri places Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s letter to GWB in chilling historical context. Hat tip: Religion Clause.

My Other Blog

I occasionally blog at another site. Yes, it’s true. and today’s posting is worth mentioning here, but as I’m trying to build up traffic at that other site, I won’t cross-blog it here; you’ll just have to click the link to see it.

What Would We Do Without Those Gimlet-Eyed "Analysts"?

Boston Globe headline:

Analysts Say McCain Wooing Religious Right

An alternative headling for this post might be: "Analysts Puzzled at Sharp Decline in Newspaper Circulation."

Why Win?

Adam Nagourney write today in the New York Times about the thought I expressed in my previous post, Hillary’s Headache, namely, that the Democrats would be better positioned in 2008 if they come close but fail to capture either house of Congress in November.

Money quote:

As strange as it might seem, there are moments when losing is winning in politics. Even as Democrats are doing everything they can to win, and believe that victory is critical for future battles over real issues, some of the party’s leading figures are also speculating that November could represent one of those moments.

From this perspective, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world politically to watch the Republicans struggle through the last two years of the Bush presidency. There’s the prospect of continued conflict in Iraq, high gas prices, corruption investigations, Republican infighting and a gridlocked Congress. Democrats would have a better chance of winning the presidency in 2008, by this reasoning, and for the future they enhance their stature at a time when Republicans are faltering.


Iraq war veterans at home

This WaPo story is based on interviews with 100 of the some 500,000 veterans of the war in Iraq. (In other words, these are anecdotes, not data. Interestingly, however, if there’s an agenda driving the choice of interviewees and topics, it’s not the one you might expect. This isn’t "Iraq veterans oppose war.")

Two points stand out. First, there’s the gratitude and support coming from ordinary people--spontaneous applause in airports, for example (which I’ve seen as well). Second, there’s this, which reveals such agenda as there is:

But perhaps the worst is when [people] don’t say anything at all and just go on living their lives, oblivious to the war.

Which is exactly what Army Capt. Tyler McIntyre was trying to explain to some family members while eating at an Italian restaurant when he was home on leave a couple of years ago.

He looked across the restaurant and saw everyone stuffing their faces with pasta and drinking wine. "And everyone’s kind of just sitting there doing it," he said.

Which is really sort of extraordinary, he said. The country is at war. People are fighting at this very moment. Don’t these people know what’s going on? Don’t they care?

No, he decided. They have no appreciation for their easy, gluttonous lives and don’t deserve the freedom, prosperity and contentment he was fighting to protect.

He wanted to yell, "You don’t know what you have! You don’t appreciate it! You don’t care!"

But he didn’t. He kept his mouth shut. He was only home on leave. Soon, he would be going back to the war.

Republican (that is to say, non-bourgeois) virtue, anyone?

Hibbs on Dreher

Thomas Hibbs reviews Crunchy Cons, spending some time comparing CCs to bobos, a thought once suggested to me by another wise man.

On the surface, both groups long for a kind of romantic authenticity and risk turning their way of life into a new trend in shopping, precisely the thing the crunchies profess to abhor. And yet the crunchies depart in striking ways from the bobos, nowhere more dramatically than on the topic of religion. For the bobos, religion must be measured by its contribution to the expansion of the self; thus, bobos engage in the (at best paradoxical) task of erecting a “house of obligation on a foundation of choice.”


Not all readers will be moved to imitate the sort of choices made by the crunchies, but one at least can admire the sacrifices made and especially the sense of missionary devotion to the family; for example, giving up a lucrative position in business to run a local farm or sacrificing a second income to homeschool kids. They also demand a great deal of time and imaginative energy. It is not surprising that these choices either result from, or lead to, profound changes in self-understanding. One interviewee after another speaks of realizing a “calling.” Far more than the bobos, the crunchies and their children will be prepared, to the extent that anyone can be prepared, for tragedy.

I think there’s something to this, but I wonder to what extent the choice that precedes the calling also continues to condition it. There remains a distance between someone like Dreher, an "American ’church shopper’ who’s made a stop with the Catholics and now thinking about switching over to the more incense-ridden Orthodox" , and, say, Nicholas Wolterstorff, who has written (and spoken) very movingly and profoundly about his "induction into the tradition" and would, I think, qualify as a crunchy lib with not a bobone in his body.

Hibbs offers another sharp observation:

Do the crunchies want to save America or the Republican Party or, having acknowledged the short-term irreversibility of civilized decay, do they plan to “retreat behind defensible borders”? Of course, Dreher and most of his crunchies are somewhere between these two options, just as the contemporary Republican Party is between social conservatism and libertarianism. To the extent that the crunchies aspire to opt out of the wider culture, they are vulnerable to the free-rider objection: that of creating little enclaves that are nonetheless dependent on the society that they have abandoned for services and protections. As I say, this is clearly not Dreher’s ideal, but it is a difficulty the crunchies should face squarely.

I wonder how Dreher will answer this question; Hibbs says there’s room for another book. Dreher, thus far, has just noted and quoted the second paragraph of the review, before it gets interesting.

Our Way

Rich Policz on Green Lanterns, Superman, and other American things. 


Here is my podcast with Ed Morrisey (he runs the blog Captain’s Quarters). We touched on politics and al Qaeda. Enjoy.

Coming to a School Near You

The Los Angeles Times reports this story--brewing now for a couple weeks. California State Senator and lesbian, Sheila Kuehl (whom you may remember from TV’s Doby Gilis--sp? sorry, before my time), successfully shepherded through the California legislature a bill that will require text books used in California public schools to highlight the accomplishments of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people. Leaving aside all the usual objections that certainly apply here, let’s also examine the obvious absurdity of a legislature inserting itself into a subject like this when California has had to have a judge put an injunction against the schools to prevent high school seniors from having to pass the state’s exit exam (because too many people were failing). Reason #7878736 my kids won’t go to California public schools.

The worst part of it is that if Arnold signs this and it becomes law, other states will see the same text books incorporated into their schools. The largest text book market in the country is in California. What we ask for, we get and you get.

Think you’re safe in business school?

Some critics of American higher education have assumed that much of the harshest ideologues were to be found in the traditional liberal arts or in their agenda-driven progeny. Whatever may be true of sociology and cultural studies, business departments, relentlessly focused on the bottom line, and hence disciplined by the market, would be safely non-ideological.

But wait! Dean Barnett has found a Harvard B-school professor (much published and with a named chair, no less) whose political opinions and judgments wouldn’t be out of place on the Daily Kos. He’s written a novel (downloadable from this website), which is informed by the analysis (I’ll be generous and call it that) offered in this paper. Some samples:

When Albert
Gore conceded the presidential election to Bush’s son, George W. Bush, in December 2000, anger seethed in the streets of Washington, DC and cities throughout the nation. Disgust with the US Supreme Court for stopping the vote recount in Florida then ruling by fiat that Bush had won the election generated clenched fists and cries of fraud. Four years later, on election
night in November 2004, there was no solace for the once-again aggrieved. Allegations of faulty voting machines in Ohio gave many the impression that the United States could no longer hold a presidential election the outcome of which could gain the unqualified acceptance of winner and loser.


In both 2000 and 2004, our country teetered on the edge of instability, possibly even violence. A month after the Supreme Court affirmed Bush the winner of the 2000 election, Bush rode in a limousine through Washington, DC to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for his inauguration, and, it was not a
victory parade. “At times it seemed as if there were more protestors than well-wishers along the route,” Time reported. “An egg hit Bush’s limo as it reached Pennsylvania Avenue” (Nancy Gibbs, 1/29/2001 Time, p. 28, photo, p. 32). Four years later, fiery protests came in response to the news that Bush prevailed in the 2004 election. Feelings that the result of the 2004 election was tainted evoked the kind of military imagery that Sidey could
not find in Washington, DC in 1992. Sidey, mentions scuffles between police and protesters, and former President Bush’s thank you to injured NYPD Detective William Sample. ( 9/13/2004 Time).

As we look at the current political scene, a long period of uncertainty over the actual winner of a presidential election is not out of the question; nor dramatic civil conflict. The processes by which Bush became president
in 2000, and retained office after the election of 2004, have convinced many
that he is in power as the result of dishonesty. One recalls Stalin’s comment
on elections – “It doesn’t matter who votes,” he observed. “It matters who
counts the votes.”

Note that he accepts uncritically--and never questions--the claims of those who argue that the victories in 2004 and 2004 were illegitimate. He never mentions, for example, the media-sponsored recount which showed GWB extending his margin of victory, and simply accepts at face value the allegations of voting fraud in 2004, all of which emanate from the fever swamp. He’s surely right that there are some who refuse to accept the results of the 2000 and 2004 elections (and he may be one of them), but the vast majority have, as they say, moved on.

One who hasn’t, at least by Mills’s accounting, is Bill Clinton, which makes speculation about a contested election in 2008 at least entertaining. Of course, his speculation about 2008 assumes that the Republicans will be the bad guys, either rigging the elections or refusing to accept a Democratic victory. So the scenario, and the novel based on it, paint Republicans and conservatives as the villains of the piece, whereas the truth is that in 2000 and 2004 those who (rather implausibly) threatened political instability were on the Left.

Remind me not to recommend Harvard Business School to those of my bright students inclined in that direction.

Update: Mike DeBow beat me to the punch, linking to an article in the Harvard Crimson more than a week ago. I’m sorry I missed that the first time.

Will they or won’t they?

Filibuster Bret Kavanaugh? Seek to impeach the President, should they win a majority in the fall?

Democracy in action

Here. I note that the senior citizens who seem to have dominated this town meeting came from a retirement community that is Quaker-related.

Hat tip: Peter Robinson at The Corner.

NSA data mining

Here’s the USA Today article that kicked off the latest communications surveillance furor, which is described here, here, here, and here.

The WaPo article notes that some of this is old news, and the timing of the article--connected with the Michael Hayden nomination--is surely a little suspicious. Also worth noting is Power Line’s observation that this report further compromises our efforts to keep track of terrorist communications.

This Volokh Conspiracy post, together with the comments, offers a little insight. And if you read the newspaper articles carefully, it’s not clear that there’s any illegality or much of a threat to anyone’s privacy. In other words, my initial inclination, subject to change, is that much of the sound and fury about this is politically motivated, intended further to wound the Bush Administration. The incidental side effect of this is, I repeat, to give terrorists further information about what we’re doing to track their communications.

Update: A quickie poll suggests that the politics of this issue currrently favors the Bush Administration. Some portion of those polled seem to favor the program, but also approve of public disclosure of it, which defeats the program’s purpose. Oh well.

The Congressional reaction, further detailed here, is predictable. The disclosures will galvanize and mobilize the Democratic base, enable Senators to posture and pontificate during the Hayden confirmation hearings, generate bad press for the Bush Administration, and yet--perhaps--actually help the Republicans overall. Stated another way, if Democrats attempt to exploit this issue, it’s evidence not only that they’re not serious about security policy, but that they’re not capable of making sound political judgments. For more on both these points, see this article.

Update #2: Some of the complex legal issues are canvassed by Orin Kerr and his commenters here, a post I missed when I first wrote about this issue. Suffice it to say that there are plausible arguments on both sides; the issue is whether the Article II executive powers and the AUMF come into play in such a way as to overcome all the other legal subtleties.

No penalty

Jonah Goldberg put this out on The Corner with no comment. I also have no comment. Beware.

Couldn’t Happen to a Nicer Bunch

This front-page story in today’s Washington Post contains this fun little nugget:

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), who is leading the [Democratic] party’s effort to regain majority status in the House, stormed out of [Howard] Dean’s office several days ago leaving a trail of expletives, according to Democrats familiar with the session.

Everyone knows about Dean’s "Mad How" disease, but by election day many folks will come to realize that Emanuel is just as vein-bulgingly frenetic as Dean. This won’t be the last blow-up we hear about. The interesting thing is to make book on how long Dean lasts after the election: win or lose, the party’s Capitol Hill bulls are going to force him out.

The Beast Didn’t Starve

I always enjoy reading Jonathan Rauch, because even though he often departs from the right’s policy prescriptions, his fundamental worldview remains that of the conservative/libertarian. He is at his best when he points out that certain things we support can produce consequences that we most likely do not.

In this month’s Atlantic Rauch takes on that most sacred of conservatism’s cattle, tax cuts. Ronald Reagan, of course, popularized the idea that by cutting taxes it was possible to reduce the size of government by "starving the beast." If revenues fell, the argument went, legislators would have no choice but to exercise fiscal discipline.

The problem, of course, is that this is precisely what didn’t happen. Government spending has soared in the past five years, just as it soared in the 1980s--in the wake of significant reductions in income tax rates. The missing tax revenue, Rauch argues, was quickly made up through borrowing, and as a result the whole episode sent the mistaken and dangerous message to taxpayers that it was possible to keep all of their favorite programs fully funded, but with less money. On the contrary, he claims, in the 1990s Bill Clinton raised taxes, and the ensuing years saw actual decline in the size of the federal government. This was not surprising, because now taxpayers recognized the pocketbook effect of big government.

I think Rauch tends to give the lawmakers of the 1990s too much credit--the cuts of that decade stemmed less from taxpayer outrage than the impression (mistaken, as it turned out) that the end of the Soviet Union meant that the United States could gut its armed forces. Nevertheless, in a period of runaway spending under the administration of an allegedly conservative president, we would be foolish to dismiss Rauch’s central point--it’s hard to starve a beast when it has so many credit cards.

Black Republicans, underdogs?

In a long article, Dan Balz of the WaPo asks what Blackwell, Steele, and Swann have in common. Should the Dems be worried? Balz is quick to point out that he three candidates all trail their Democratic opponents in opinion polls, etc. But I think the Dems ought to be worried, very worried.

More clarity on abortion

One of the things I liked about Ramesh Ponnuru’s book is the clarity he brings to the discussion. Here’s more clarity, in response to this Ponnuru piece, from Sharon L. Camp, CEO of Planned Parenthood’s Guttmacher Institute: "Behind almost every abortion is an unintended pregnancy."

In other words, abortion is last-ditch birth control in almost every case. All those in favor of abortion as a form of birth control, raise your hands.

Knippenberg on Ponnuru on abortion

In this week’s TAE Online column, I explain why I think very well of Ramesh Ponnuru’s The Party of Death.

The column focuses on abortion, though the book also deals with stem cell research and euthanasia. On this last topic, I have some misgivings about what he has to say, but that may be the result of my not yet having adequately sorted out my own views.

To state what I take to be Ponnuru’s position most baldly, we are never entitled to say that life is not worth living. I know that aristocrats who believe in death before dishonor can’t hold that position, but many aristocracies historically countenanced infanticide. Are the two attitudes, one of which I admire and the other of which (to say the least) troubles me greatly, intimately and necessarily connected? If they were, then I think I’d be driven in the direction of what seems to be Ponnuru’s position.

What gives me pause, however, is martyrdom, which suggests, from a point of view that Ponnuru would presumably endorse, that mere life may be sacrificed, that there are things worth dying for. I should die rather than be compelled to live in a way that contradicts (what I understand to be) God’s will. What precisely is the difference between this attitude or view and that of the aristocrat? Both are dedicated to something higher than the "mere self," though the latter might merely be devoted, from the Christian point of view, to a collection of "glittering vices."

Here’s where I’m not sure about Ponnuru. Perhaps I missed something, or perhaps his approach simply didn’t call for him to address it. Does his argument against euthanasia from natural law or public reason overlook the possibility of martyrdom because that’s only justifiable on religious or revealed grounds, because (in other words) it’s not based on a political position? What, then, does he make of the person who says "give me liberty or give me death"? How is that, on non-revealed, publicly affirmable grounds, different from the opinion that a life marked by great suffering or debility is not worth living? Must we, if we are to oppose euthanasia, also deprecate dignified patriotic self-sacrifice?

I hope not, but I’m not confident that I have an argument for the latter that can’t also be deployed on behalf of the former.

Is there anyone out there who can point me in a fruitful direction?

Update: Ramesh Ponnuru’s reponse to my query is here. He carefully states that "defying tyranny" and "witnessing" are not choices for death itself, but rather look to a higher good, presumably also not merely a personal good. Would Cato the Younger’s suicide, after failing to defeat Caesar count as defying tyranny, as opposed to dying in an attempt to resist tyranny, or could we regard it as "selfish," as there is no impetus there to be long-suffering?

What about Socrates, who chose to drink the hemlock, rather than escape? While one can understand his action in terms of accepting a just punishment or living up to his end of a contract, he is also quite explicit that, given his circumstances, the "mere life" he could lead while in exile wouldn’t be worth living. How is this not "selfish"?

Orwin on Smith on Strauss

Cliff Orwin’s review of Steven Smith’s book on Leo Strauss is worth reading, as, apparently, is the book. In Orwin’s estimation (which I regard as quite reliable, if not authoritative), Smith deals ably with the grand themes of Strauss’ work, above all, the relationship between reason and revelation. If there is a shortcoming, it is in Smith’s effort to offer up Strauss as a critic of the Iraq war:

The climax of Smith’s attempt to rescue Strauss from his critics, especially those who consider him the progenitor of neoconservatism, lies in a final discussion offering a critique of the war in Iraq delivered in the name of Strauss himself. The discussion focuses on the Bush administration’s definition of its goal as the elimination of political evil. By contrast, Smith emphasizes, Strauss always considered evil a permanent aspect of the human situation, and just as he stood against liberal illusions on this score, he would have objected no less strenuously to the illusions of present-day neoconservatives.

About the effort to pigeonhole Strauss as a neoconservative, Smith is undoubtedly right. But, to deal with last things first, his own effort to recruit Strauss to the anti-war cause is every bit as dubious. It is also an open question whether the current architects of American foreign policy have really been seized by the naive expectation of ending evil—as opposed merely to recognizing the need to fight it. Of one thing we can be sure: in politics, Strauss always insisted on calling things by their proper names. It is difficult to imagine that he would have objected to labeling 9/11 an act of evil; that is merely to call a spade a spade.

Still, as Smith is well aware, there is something futile in speculating about Strauss’s views on this or that policy. Far more important is the task of coming to terms with his thought. In this regard, Smith’s book is an excellent introduction, and can be read with profit by those already familiar with Strauss as well as by those coming to him for the first time.

Read the review and buy the book.

Hat tip: Bruce Sanborn.

Palestine Near Economic Collapse?

The international welfare state of Arafatistan is near economic collapse according to this report in the Financial Times. It makes clear that in the absence of foriegn support, there is not much genuine economic activity in the nascent Palestinian nation.

Ramirez Cartoon

No Left Turns Mug Drawing Winners for April

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

Kevin Risner

Sharon Berger

Marsha Cosgrove

Aaron Napier

Valerie Hamilton

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 May’s drawing.

Illegal Immigration: Guest Workers vs. Amnesty

If Michael Barone is right (as Joe suggested below) and the time is ripe for some sort of immigration omnibus bill, I hope some consideration--some deep consideration--will be given to the work of Victor Davis Hanson in this piece from the Claremont Review of Books and elsewhere. He is the only author I have seen who seems to grasp the fullness of the human problem at the heart of the immigration debate. And he’s not afraid of the tough questions or the tough answers. For example:

In some sense, guest workers are far more destabilizing than a one-time amnesty. The former constantly enlarges the number of exploited and soon to be disillusioned aliens; the latter ends it. The prohibition of bilingual government documents and services, and of a racially chauvinistic and separatist curriculum in our schools and universities, would also send a powerful message that one should not come north unless he is willing to become a full-fledged American in every linguistic, cultural, and political sense of the word.

In other words, he wonders if amnesty--though hugely unpopular--isn’t in reality a better solution than an on-going "guest worker" program because "guest worker" would only extend and exaccerbate the problems associated with illegal immigration. Of course, we would have to be serious about the amnesty being a one-time thing and the border would have to be tightened up in a serious way first. Hanson takes seriously the need to assimilate immigrants in a way that few other commentators have. If you haven’t looked as his work on this subject, you should. As I recall, he also had a great essay published on this subject awhile ago in Hillsdale College’s Imprimis.

Update: Yes, he did. Here it is.

Murdoch and Hillary

This from Drudge: Ruport Murdoch, has agreed to host a political fundraiser for Hillary Clinton this summer. "Murdoch’s surprise decision to raise money for Clinton in July, on behalf of NEWS CORP., parent company of FOXNEWS and the NEW YORK POST, underlines a dramatic turn of relations between Murdoch and Clinton, who in 1998 coined the phrase “vast rightwing conspiracy” to denounce critics of her husband.

Some say the move by Murdoch reflects approval of her Senate career, notes FT’s Caroline Daniel. Others point to Murdoch’s record for picking future national leaders. Last century, he threw over the British conservatism he’d long supported to back longshot Tony Blair." Also this from CBS News. But, also note this from Markos Moulitsas.

Barone on the politics of immigration

Michael Barone thinks that the time may be ripe for an omnibus immigration measure. I hope he’s right, else more coyotes will be saying "God bless America".

Gay marriage and education in Masachusetts

I missed this article a few days ago. My favorite snippet:

Eliza Byard of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network said gay families exist everywhere _ the only thing different about Massachusetts is that same-sex marriage makes it much harder to push them aside. Public schools must acknowledge gay families, she said, even if it upsets parents who believe same-sex relationships are immoral.

"One of the basic realities of American life," she said, "is that all of us have to deal with beliefs we disagree with."

Does that mean that it’s O.K. to criticize gay marriage and homosexuality in school settings? Or does the need to be tolerant only apply to those with whom you disagree, as the 9th Circuit held recently?

Digital lynch mobs

The WaPo’s Richard Cohen didn’t think Steve Colbert was funny. He received thousands of emails disagreeing with him.

Usually, the subject line said it all. Some were friendly and agreed that Colbert had not been funny. Most, though, were in what we shall call disagreement. Fine. I said the man wasn’t funny and not funny has a bullying quality to it; others (including some of my friends) said he was funny. But because I held such a view, my attentive critics were convinced I had a political agenda. I was -- as was most of the press, I found out -- George W. Bush’s lap dog. If this is the case, Bush had better check his lap.

It seemed that most of my correspondents had been egged on to write me by various blogs. In response, they smartly assembled into a digital lynch mob and went roaring after me. If I did not like Colbert, I must like Bush. If I write for The Post, I must be a mainstream media warmonger. If I was over a certain age -- which I am -- I am simply out of it, wherever "it" may be. All in all, I was -- I am, and I guess I remain -- the worthy object of ignorant, false and downright idiotic vituperation.

Beyond deciding that he’s unlikely to read much more of the email he gets from interested readers, Cohen has another thought:

This spells trouble -- not for Bush or, in 2008, the next GOP presidential candidate, but for Democrats. The anger festering on the Democratic left will be taken out on the Democratic middle. (Watch out, Hillary!) I have seen this anger before -- back in the Vietnam War era. That’s when the antiwar wing of the Democratic Party helped elect Richard Nixon. In this way, they managed to prolong the very war they so hated.

Could Karl Rove really be that clever?

How’s This for Service?

Joe asks, I answer.

I have dispatched the following urgent letter by Western Union telegraph to the BEPE (Best Ex-President Ever):

Dear President Carter:

Even though I don’t care for you very much, and even wrote a critical book about your political career, good manners and a sense of decency compel me to bring to your attention that someone is trying to besmirch your hard-earned reputation as a man of piece by publishing drivel under your byline in the International Herald Tribune.

The person purporting to be "Jimmy Carter" suggests that the good people of Hamas are really as cuddly and peace-loving as Howard Dean, if only we’d be reasonable. in this day of hightened copyright protection and intellectual property rights, you should immediately seek a cease-and-desist order against this clever impostor. Even though his style is very good and a great imitation of your previous articles, I saw through it immediately! (It is probably your pal Little Assad, on a bender in Damascus.) But others might take it seriously. You wouldn’t want that!

Your servant,
Steven Hayward

Where’s Steve Hayward when you need him?

Jon Schaff links to this VC post, which links to this op-ed by Jimmy Carter. I’m speechless too.

Steyn on the Coalition of the Thinking About It

Mark Steyn has a devastating piece today in The Australian on the equivocation of the Left on the situation in Darfur. He applauds George Clooney and other Hollywood celebs for taking on the cause--if they are serious. But then he considers what seriousness on the subject must mean and concludes that their seriousness is, of course, to be doubted. No doubt they seriously wish for a change in Darfur. No doubt their hearts are in the right place and, I for one, give them credit for at least getting the story on the front pages (albeit somewhat late). But how to get beyond informing people of the problem? The usual "multinational" coalition of forces that they call for is not going to materialize, Steyn argues. These things always boil down to exactly what they boiled down to in Iraq--the "Anglosphere" as he calls it. And Hollywood types can’t be expected to support that! God help the people of the Sudan while this "debate" rages.

Economists Are from Mars. . .

. . . and this proves it.

Hillary’s Headache

Over at Real Clear Politics, John McIntrye offers the argument that’s been rolling around in my mind for a while a slightly different form. If’ I’m Hillary Clinton, the last thing I want is for Democrats to take over the House or Senate this fall. Better to be able to run against total Republican control in 2008, than with Speaker Pelosi at your side. (BTW, did anyone see Pelosi’s performance with Russert on MTP yesterday? If anyone ever needed the hook more desperately. . .)

Anyway, here’s McIntyre’s conclusion:

While it may not be the best thing for the Bush administration, a Democratic takeover of the House would likely be a huge assist to the overall Republican campaign in 2008. It would deprive Democrats of the very powerful campaign message that after eight years of near total GOP control it was time for a change. It would also put Speaker Pelosi and committee Chairmen like Rangel, Waxman and Conyers front and center for public view. More than anything else in 2006, a Democratic take over of the House would change the dynamic of the 2008 race and, ironically, would probably be good news for Republicans.

Gay rights vs. religious liberty

Maggie Gallagher has looked at the future of religious liberty, should gay marriage, and the attitudes supporting it, become the norm. None of the people with whom she spoke think that religious liberty will have an easy time surviving. And she wasn’t speaking with opponents of gay marriage, religious conservatives, or enemies of religious liberty.

You can find draft versions of the papers whose authors she interviews here.

November in May

Congressional Republicans seem to want to run on local issues this fall. The White House thinks it can win with a national campaign. At the moment, I think the former is a counsel of despair, and that the latter depends upon the Democrats continuing to be Democrats. If the Democrats were credible on national security (they’re not yet, and haven’t been in quite some time) and moderate on some cultural issues, the Republicans would be staring minority status in the face.

If you favor "structural" explanations of recent Republican electoral successes, you’ll like this.

McCain and Falwell reconciliation

Byron York on McCain and Falwell. Very much worth reading.   

They’re running on this, and away from this?

I too read the WaPo article Peter noted here. Did you notice that there’s nothing about immigration in this article? Does that mean they’re not going to say anything coherent about it during the election campaign? Given the salience of the issue and the unlikelihood that it will be resolved by November, this seems like a big opening through which the Republicans can drive, assuming that they can find their own voice on this question.

BTW, my excuse for light blogging this weekend was that we were finally able to find a moment to shed dog (kennel) and kids (Oma and Opa) and get away to Asheville, N.C., which seems like a little bit of Berkeley beautifully situated in a sea of Billy Graham. We arrived just after Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga were here signing their book (there seemed to be lots left; story here) and left just before Bob Dylan (and Merle Haggard) played the civic center.

Our favorite discoveries were this chocolate store, which by itself almost makes Asheville a destination, and this restaurant. We tried to extend our crunchy streak at a local winery run by Waldensians, but found the wines not to our taste.

Remembering the great Clemente

George Will praises David Maraniss’ Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero. I saw the Giants play the Rockies (with John Abramson) in Denver a few weeks ago, and the fans had nothing but contempt and boos for Barry Bonds. Clemente was never booed. He was great, and everyone knew it.

Rousseau’s Terror

David Gilmour has a fine review of two books on the French Revolution, the Terror, and Maximilien Robespierre. The books are imperfect, but the review is not. Everything Gilmour says about the Revolution is true, albeit brief. The real motor of the revolution was violence, and if there was any "ideology" in it, it stemmed from Rousseau. His concluding lines: "In fact the Revolution was the fount and origin not of our world but of the totalitarian era, an inspiration to future dictators who could adopt Rousseau’s theory of the General Will as an excuse to avoid democracy and who could label their opponents counterrevolutionaries as an excuse to murder them without trial."

Early intensity and Ohio politics

Adam Nagurney & Ian Urbina write a front-page New York Times piece on politics in Ohio, "the most contested political battleground in the nation." This is worth reading because while it wants to show the optimism (or hope) for the Dems, it ends up pointing to the unlikelyhood of any Democratic gains. Ohio is supposed to present the Dems with "their best opportunity this year," but then they have Sherrod Brown running against Sen. DeWine. The problem is that Brown is very liberal and he will define all the Dems in the state for November (even Strickland, who is slightly less liberal, will be defined by Brown). Note Brown’s comments near the end of the article where he is foreshadowing his campaign themes: gas prices, oil and pharmaceutical companies set policy under GOP rule, and then there is the loss of manufacturing jobs, not enough people have health care insurance, etc. Quite predictable stuff, and without rhetorical effect. This will not do. What the Dems are really counting on is that Blackwell will self-destruct; but he will not, and they will lose because they cannot understand Blackwell’s appeal. I look forward to Nagurney’s front page article in November trying to explain why the Dems lost. A Washington Post article notes that the Dems are "confident" of winning back the U.S. House, and are making plans, both on policy (first thing they would do is raise the minimum wage!) and investigations of the White House. I do hope Pelosi, et al, continue to emphasize the latter possibility (the "power to investigate," as Pelosi notes it) because that is in the GOP’s interest.

Atlanta in the history of American conservatism

If you’re a Weekly Standard subscriber, you can read my review of this book on "Atlanta and the making of modern conservatism" here.

If you want to learn about the history of modern conservatism, don’t read the book. If you haven’t yet had your fill of books on post-World War II Atlanta politics, there are a few things you might learn. If you get your jollies reading about how conservatism is really just racism, and aren’t too particular about solid evidence and argumentation, by all means, buy the book.

Update: The folks at The Weekly Standard were kind enough to make the review available to the general public here.

Dean Off His Meds Again

The inimitable Howard Dean let’s fly with this howler:

"I was recently asked about the difference between the Democratic and Republican parties," Dean said. "When it comes right down to it, the essential difference is that the Democrats fundamentally believe it is important to make sure that American Jews feel comfortable being American Jews."

Aussie uber-blogger Tim Blair comments that "This might be the most clueless and bizarre line in the history of US politics." My thought is that the Republic National Committee ought to buy TV time for Dean to freak freely in front of as many Americans as possible.

Here Comes the Snowman

I’m looking forward to Tony Snow’s first day on the job coming up next week. Much was made of his previous highly critical statements about Bush, to which he reportedly said to Bush, "You should see what I wrote about the other guy."

Which brings me to my fondest hope--that he calls on Helen Thomas first at his inaugural press briefing, and that she asks him about his previous tart statements about Bush. And Snow replies: "You should see what I’ve said about you Helen. Next question."

More likely Thomas will ask one of her typically moonbat questions, and one hopes that one of Snow’s conditions for taking the job will be to swat down media nutcases like Thomas in precisely the manner they deserve. "Helen, raise your hand again when a serious question occurs to you. Next?"

Commencement speakers

Protests at Boston College because Condi Rice is chosen as commencement speaker, and at The New School because John McCain will be the speaker. Both of them are crazy ideologues, of course, but our colleagues in the academy are rational and intelligent and thoughtful and deep and serious and hard-working...and I have some ocean front property in Ashland I want to sell you.

Another Ashbrook Marine

Here is another picture of a former Ashbrook Scholar serving as a Marine in Iraq. This one, Capt. Josh Kirk, is a JAG and a graduate of UVA Law. The throne he is sitting on was found in the Al Faw Palace and was, apparently, a gift to Saddam from Yasser Arafat.

A diabetic and his Booker

James R. Harrigan writes as a type two diabetic. Pretty good, for a political scientist, although he claims that a shot of Booker is good for know, for medical reasons. Sure.

Darwin and conservatism?

James Seaton reviews Larry Arnhart’s Darwinian Conservatism and concludes:

"It is to Larry Arnhart’s credit that, despite his own adherence to evolutionary theory, he does not call for such a rejection. Indeed, Darwinian Conservatism makes it clear that even the most wholehearted acceptance of Darwin’s ideas does not require conservatives to reject either common sense or traditional morality. Addressing himself primarily to conservatives, Arnhart does not so much try to convince his readers that Darwinian biology is incontrovertibly true as to demonstrate that its findings, if true, strengthen the case for social and political conservatism.

He does this well, and accomplishes a more difficult task achieved by only the most accomplished scientists and thinkers: He makes connections between science and human life without succumbing to the temptations of scientism."

Also see this.

Bush as worst pres?

Gerard Alexander is a bit critical of this Sean Wilentz piece on George W. Bush being the worst president in our history. I noted the Wilentz piece here.

Gas about Ethanol

There are a lot of proposals being bandied about on Capitol Hill for how to reduce America’s alleged petroleum dependence. Nearly all of them are silly, according to Alan Reynolds of the Cato Institute, but the silliest is the notion that ethanol is going to be the country’s saving grace. He notes that the production of eight gallons of ethanol requires no less than seven gallons of gasoline:

Unfortunately, there is much less energy in 8 gallons of ethanol than in the 7 gallons of gasoline-equivalent needed to produce it. The Energy Department estimates the highway mileage of a Nissan Titan drops from 18 mpg to 13 mpg by switching to E85 (85 percent ethanol). That is why lavish subsidies to auto companies to produce flexible fuel vehicles are useless -- a disguised bailout at best.

The Age of Reagan

Jonah Goldberg just got around to reading Hayward’s "The Age of Reagan" and thinks it is "one of the best histories of recent American politics I’ve ever come across." I agree, but really Jonah, the darn thing was published five years ago!

An astounding comeback, 1938

Andy Busch writes the fourth in a series on midterm elections in America. This one is on the 1938 elections, when things looked especially bad for the GOP. Yet, some things happened that demaged FDR and gave the GOP some hope. And the Republicans made an astounding comeback, gaining six Senate seats and 71 House seats. This was the end of the New Deal.

Podcast with John C. Green on Ohio politics

I did a podcast this morning with Dr. John C. Green of the Ray Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron. The twenty minute conversation is about the Blackwell vistory and the state of politics in Ohio. It was a very good conversation, Green knows a lot and is articulate. Be sure to listen if you want to understand why the Blackwell victory was no surprise, and why he should become the next governor.

What the Moussaoui Verdict Proves

Two things: 1. The Jihadists are not without their reasons for thinking Westerners have become weak in the face of danger and 2. War Criminals do not belong in civilian courts. Terrorism on this scale is not a criminal act--it is an act of war. Trying Moussaoui as if he were an ordinary mass murderer guilty of breaking the law was as insane, if not more insane, than the persona he presented to that poor jury. And I am not without some sympathy for them. There was some talk about jurors fearing for their safety and that of their families as a result of their service. Who could blame them? They didn’t sign up for that job as do our brave fighting men and women. The military tribunal is the place that ought to have handled Mr. Moussaoui.

Peggy Noonan writes nicely about the miscarriage of justice. But, I think, misses the larger point that no matter what happened to Moussaoui at trial, we made a grave error in giving him that trial in the first place. Still, of course, death would have been a better sentence. As regular caller to the Hugh Hewitt show, Yoni (an American/Israeli citizen) pointed out, what we’re forgetting is that his living will inspire terrorists (foolishly, but nevertheless) to try and take hostages for bargaining. Every second he sucks air he endangers more American lives.

Steve, were your ears burning?

I just came across this post over at the Volokh Conspiracy. Todd Zywicki very much liked Greatness, though some of the commenters couldn’t bring themselves to agree (though there’s no evidence that they’d actually read the book).

After Roe

Ramesh Ponnuru discusses Jeffrey Rosen’s Atlantic cover essay, which isn’t available on-line. But this interview is (hat tip: RCP).

In it, Rosen claims to be a proponent of bipartisan judicial restraint, as, he says, Justice Byron White was. White, of course, dissented in Roe for reasons that Ponnuru would, I think, applaud.

Some of Rosen’s comments in the interview are a little odd, as when he said that Sandra Day O’Connor "seemed to have a unique ability to put her finger on the pulse of the median voter with exquisite precision and express it more precisely than Bill Frist or Harry Reid" and when he suggests that Chief Justice Roberts is no "libertarian radical" willing to pull the trigger on Roe. I agree that the CJ is no libertarian radical, but libertarianism seems to me to be the essence of much of the "pro-choice," "pro-self-definition" jurisprudence committed by members of the Supreme Court. Libertarians would, I think, vote to uphold Roe, so Rosen’s choice of an appellation seems off.

Update: I stand (somewhat) corrected by John Moser’s comment below. For a summary of the libertarian case against Roe, go here. On the other hand, the, er. vulgar libertarianism of my students generally tends in a pro-choice direction, whatever may be the case with their sophisticated and officially Libertarian brethren.

Weigel on Europe’s two culture wars

Stanley Kurtz recommends this article by George Weigel. I concur.

My wife and I have been telling ourselves that, once the kids are old enough, we’ll take them to Europe. I’m getting gloomier by the day about that prospect; the Europe we want them to experience may not be there, unless the movements whose rationales are articulated in this book gain traction.

To be clear about my meaning: Europe for me is not simply a tourist destination, but an essential part of my family’s heritage (intellectually, culturally, and personally--we still have family in Austria, the Netherlands, Germany, and Scotland). The great conversation in which I take part as an intellectual has been conducted on that continent for more than the past two millenia. Some of its most horrific practical fruits played themselves out there in the last century. And I fear that an insidious strain of that conversation will have an even worse effect in the future. Having failed to kill itself by killing all too many of its people (through war, genocide, and other means), Europe may euthanize itself, having lost the will to live.

The Roberts Court

More civil, more orderly, more deliberative? Who could have predicted that? Certainly not those who voted against him!

Education reform blog

Katie Newmark calls our attention to a new(ish) education reform blog, Edspresso.


Ken Blackwell won the GOP primary for governor of Ohio, 56-43%. No surprise here. The Dems have been saying that they (Strickland is their nominee) prefer running against Blackwell. Sure they do. Jimmy Carter also hoped that a fellow named Ronald Reagan would be his opponent and look what happened to him. Blackwell, a Reagan Republican, will win in November, be the first conservative (and black) governor of the state, and have a good influence nationally on the GOP. Good for everybody.

Jean-Francois Revel, RIP

In this morning’s WSJ, the editors remember Jean-Francois Revel, one of the few European public intellectuals of the 20th century who refused to embrace totalitarianism of either the Left or the Right.

Revel’s judgments were not unfailing, and in retrospect he was overly pessimistic about the ability of Western democracies to muster the will and courage to defeat their existential enemies. But by sounding the right warnings about the nature of those enemies -- and the places where our defenses were weak -- he not only helped win the Cold War, but redeemed the reputation of public intellectuals everywhere.

A national public service university?

This, described here, strikes me as a bad idea.

Centralizing the training of our "public servants" makes the creation of a bureaucratic mandarinate--a French (not to mention Chinese) thing, which ought to be enough to sink it right there--all the more likely. Do we want a bureaucracy even more "out of touch" than it currently is? Do we want one group of professors to be that influential in the preparation of our political leaders and public servants? (My fear, of course, is that such an institution would be quickly captured by the Left. Their students would comprise our bureaucratic elite, and be even more resistant to initiatives from conservatives in the legislative and executive branches.)

But even leaving aside this political consideration, a centralized bureaucratic training institution would to some degree deprive our governmental institutions of the leaven of diversity that comes from the fact that those who comprise it are educated at a variety of different colleges and universities. It is more in keeping with the "federal" character of our country to have our leaders educated all over the place, not just at a handful of schools. They reflect regional, religious, and ethnic diversity. In their education, they encounter, not just like-minded "future public servants," but folks who plan to pursue all sorts of different careers and ways of life. This, in other words, is the federal, republican, and democratic way of educating leaders.

I am, of course, sensitive to one issue that the plan’s proponents raise: it’s harder for students to enter into "public service" if they have a high debt load. But that can be handled either through a program of debt forgiveness/repayment for those actually enter public service or by a well-funded (privately--Bill Gates, are you listening?--or publicly) program of scholarships. We don’t need, and shouldn’t have, a public service West Point, but we probably do need a public service ROTC.

Of course, it’s highly unlikely that such an institution would get off the ground. Surely Republicans would know better than to fund it. But Democrats? Hmmm.

Remember crunchy cons?

The Washington Post has gotten around to giving Rod Dreher its gentle star treatment, with a very long profile beginning on the front page of the Style section. Whether this is the beginning of the end of Rod Dreher as a conservative pundit or the end of the beginning, I don’t know.

I learned one thing: on one dimension of crunchiness, the Knippenbergs win--my wife not only bakes our bread, but grinds the wheat herself. (Fie on those who shop at Whole Foods!) O.K., O.K., we don’t have two big millstones and a running stream, but I’ll take this small victory. (Oh yes, and we buy our wheat from a business run by a home school family.)

Dreher blogs now, by the way, here.

Update: Because I know that so many of you care about this, I thought that I’d give you breadmaking supplier’s website. If this isn’t crunchy, I don’t know from crunchiness.

Rumsfeld and some generals

Mac Owens takes up the cudgels on behalf of the SecDef. His conclusion:

Retrospective criticism is easy. Rumsfeld’s detractors would be much more credible if they could point to an instance in which their ability to discern the future was substantially superior to that of the man they have attacked.

Read the whole thing.

Schools and the First Amendment

This week’s TAE Online column deals with attempts to limit student speech in high schools. As usual, the 9th Circuit is capable of raising one’s blood pressure.

Libertarians and Real ID

David Schaefer patiently explains why libertarians are wrong about the Real ID Act.

Avi Zaffini in Iraq

One year you are reading Xenophon, Aristotle, and Madison, and next year
you are in a war; I hope he is as good a Marine as he was a student.

Good man, Avi… Semper Fi.

The academic left, left behind

Former SDS-er Todd Gitlin reviews three books about the academic left, offering the following conclusion:

Professor Brennan is right that the academic left is nowhere today. It matters more to David Horowitz than to anyone else. The reason is that its faith-based politics has crashed and burned. It specializes in detraction. It offers no plausible picture of the world. Such spontaneous movements as do crop up in America — like the current immigrant demonstrations — do not emerge from the campus left. Neither do reformers’ intermittent attempts to eject the party of plutocracy and fundamentalism from power, to win universal health care, to protect the planet from further convulsions, to enlarge the rights of the least privileged. If more academics deigned to work toward reforms, they might contribute ideas about taxes, education, trade, employment, investment, foreign policy, and security from jihadists. But the academic left is too busy guarding the flame of nullification. They think they can fortify themselves with vigilance. In truth, their curses are gestures of helplessness.

While "theory" is ultimately anti-political, the partisans of leftist purity simply seethe in their impotent rage. Perhaps the blog survey is correct.

Hat tip: Stanley Kurtz.

Peter’s "Born American"

If you haven’t yet found the time to read Peter’s grateful reminiscences on his life as a new American, find it soon. It’s a wonderful piece.

My dad, a generation older, but only a few years older as an American, read it with great pleasure. For him, a Dutchman who came of age during WWII, the U.S. was the land of opportunity and freedom. In 1953, after three years here, he responded to his adopted country’s call, joining the Army for what turned out to be a 20-year hitch. He shipped out for Europe from Camp Kilmer, where Peter spent his first days in the U.S. When Peter and his family were making the trek for Austria (my mom’s home), my dad was a young soldier, beginning a family while stationed in Pisa, Italy. By the time the Schramms made it to southern California, the Knippenbergs were back in San Francisco, where I was born. While we never darkened the doors of Schramm’s Hungarian Restaurant, I’ve eaten my share of goulash and "stuffed garbage."

Peter’s essay speaks to all of us, native and immigrant, who appreciate in our bones and in our heads, the American promise.    

Una problema

John Podhoretz thinks that the organizers of yesterday’s nationwide demonstration’s are secretly in the pay of the the anti-immigration lobby. Good argument. I saw an interview of a self-identified Hispanic fellow (can’t remember what organization he was with) yesterday in which he castigated the US for slaughtering the Indians (he didn’t say native Americans), being an empire, taking Mexico’s land, etc., and now he was demanding that anybody who wanted to come to such an aweful place be allowed to do so. Period. Amazing.


Now this is inflation! And to think Zimbabwe was once a relatively free and prosperous country.

There hangs a tale

I have been reading into Paul Johnson’s Creators: from Chaucer and Durer to Picasso and Disney this weekend. I like it. It is well written (no surprise), which makes some deeper thinking seem lighter than it really is, and I learn something from each page. Look at the chapters on Shakespeare (Falstaff and Hamlet), Jane Austen, Mark Twain, and also Bach; look not to agree, but to see into some of the great ones with Johnson’s eyes. Example:

"Indeed, if there is one area in which Shakespeare lacks moderation. it is the world of words. Here he is, in turn, excitable, theoretical, intoxicated, impractical, almost impossible. He lived in a period drunk with words, and he was the most copious and persistent toper of all."

Does the Duke Case Expose a Weapon in the Female Arsenal?

Cathy Young has an interesting article in The Boston Globe arguing that it is unreasonable to assume that women don’t sometimes lie about being raped. Without hazarding a guess about what actually happened in the Duke case, she argues persuasively that those who suggest simply questioning the credibility of a person making rape charges is somehow "blaming the victim" are off base.

This week our church bulletin had a little piece in it that cautioned readers to take very seriously any hint of a suggestion from a child about sexual abuse. I think that is probably good advice and I think that most parents would do that even without the advice. But women are not children. Oddly, those would-be feminists who suggest that women never or rarely lie about rape are giving them a rather back-handed compliment and demonstrating their own child-like naivete at the same time.

Did I say that?

I spoke with a reporter last week, leading to a quotation in this article. To wit:

Joe Knippenberg, an online columnist for the conservative American Enterprise, called Mahony a political grandstander.

"What Cardinal Mahony did there was run the risk of becoming a mere political actor and then sort of trading the prophetic voice for a mere political voice," Knippenberg said. "What’s the difference between a church worker who defies what he or she sees as an unjust law or human smuggler who defies what he or she sees as an unjust law?"


Considering that I prefaced my remarks by insisting upon the importance of the prophetic religious voice in politics and that I carefully noted the distinction between human smugglers and church workers who provided aid to those who arrived at their doorstep, I’d say that my statements were taken out of context.

Here’s what I said in
the op-ed that got the reporter’s attention:

But a Cardinal ought not to regard himself as an ordinary political actor. Mahony ought to have thought about two other consequences of his gesture. First, by implicitly comparing the Church to those at whom the law is really directed, he gives the brazenly cynical traffickers in humanity moral and political cover. They’re simply humanitarians, they can say, just like their brothers and sisters in the Church.

I also called his attention to this NLT post, in which I made the following version of my argument:

Does Cardinal Mahony think it should be a crime actually to assist people to cross the border illegally, regardless of one’s motives in so doing? It’s one thing to help out immigrants, no questions asked, who present themselves at your doorstep. It’s another altogether to help them into the country. I take it that everyone thinks the "coyotes" are despicable criminals. What if "well-intentioned humanitarians" got into the business, arguing that sneaking into the country is inevitable, that the border is a meaningless line anyway, that as citizens of the world, we should share our wealth and resources, and that decent folks would actually help, rather than exploit, the immigrants? I don’t know whether this is a fanciful scenario or not. I do know that Cardinal Mahony’s argument, surely unintentionally, worked to diminish the difference between compassionate humanitarians and human traffickers.

I think Mahony’s stance unintentionally elides the difference between humanitarians and human traffickers, providing a certain moral cover to the coyotes by offering a blanket moral condemnation of the law.

I also called the reporter’s attention to
this letter from Congressmen Sensenbrenner, Hyde, and King, which explicitly disavows the intent to go after church workers who help illegal immigrants.

Bottom line: I simply pointed out a risk in Cardinal Mahony’s statements-- in his blanket condemnation of the House bill and his threat to defy it, should it become law, he, presumably unintentionally, overlooks the distinction between humanitarians and human exploiters.

Blog reader survey results

This story summarizes some of the findings in this unscientific survey, which I think I filled out. You can find their category breakouts here and their analysis here.

One liberal crows over the results here, noting, for example, that:

Outside of academic journals, Democratic blogs almost certainly have the most highly educated audience of any news and opinion medium in the country. This is quite a contrast to the "naïve" stereotype about progressive bloggers. I would take a random sampling of progressive blog readers, with the points, against a random sampling of readers of any established news outlet in any intellectual challenge you can name. Progressive blog readers are very smart, and very highly educated.

Perhaps I’m catching them on bad days, but when I read sites like DailyKos, the first thing that jumps out at me is not the erudition of the commenters.

Hometown Endorsement of Blackwell

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to me, but my hometown paper The Zanesville Times Recorder has come out and endorsed the candidacy of Ken Blackwell for governor. See article here. It shouldn’t surprise me, I say, because the people of Zanesville are generally decent and hardworking folks and, on every recent trip I’ve had back there, I’ve heard more than a little complaining about the problems within the leadership of the Ohio GOP. On the other hand, state Senator Joy Padgett, (Blackwell’s opponent, Jim Petro’s running mate) heralds from southeastern Ohio and Zanesville is the heart of that territory. No matter.

The TR’s endorsement of Blackwell should tell you something about why his campaign is going to be so exciting and--potentially--electric. He means to change things.

Zanesville voters will especially love the idea of requiring school districts to spend at least 65% of their budgets (it probably should be more) on classroom instruction. It’s time to call the bluff of the education establishment. If more money is needed for classroom instruction, maybe they should be the ones tightening their belts instead of taxpayers. Zanesville has had levy after levy after endless levy to pay for schools in recent years. The TR sums it up nicely: "After years of tax hikes and scandals, it’s time for Ohio Republicans to take a fresh approach. That can start on Tuesday by nominating Ken Blackwell for governor."