Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Evangelical crack-up?

In this time of questioning the political future of American evangelicalism, that’s what the NYT’s David D. Kirkpatrick calls it in his lead story for the Sunday Magazine. He spends a lot of time in Wichita and finds a number of evangelicals who are disillusioned with Republicans and with politics. They’ve got passion fatigue when it comes to abortion (all that work with so little to show), and know that there are other social questions about which they ought to be concerned.

To the degree that they’re not finding their salvation in politics, this is, I think, a good thing. (They’re right, after all.)

But this hard-learned lesson means that they’re unlikely recruits in any Democratic political effort. The concern with social questions such as those concerning the poor (who, we’re told, will always be with us) needn’t and shouldn’t lead to support for the panoply of government programs that Clinton, Obama, and Edwards have in store for us. But persuading evangelicals of that may require some effort to discuss the roles of civil society and the marketplace (as opposed to government) in dealing with poverty. And it won’t and shouldn’t evoke the same passions that have been associated with the abortion wars.

The good news for Democrats in this thus isn’t that, all of a sudden, there will be nothing the matter with Kansas. It’s that Republicans probably can’t count on quite as high a percentage of support and quite as high a turnout from evangelical voters who continue to be relatively socially conservative. As I’m not convinced that there’s another trove of votes for Republicans to find to make up for that likely fall-off, the GOP will be in for tough times.

I think that there’s "damage control" that can be done--mostly of the sort of plain, but hard, talk about how there are non-governmental solutions to problems that we should all recognize as problems. And I think that that it’s a good thing for Republcans to have to do this, rather than relying on the willingness of Democratic secularists to continue to enable their opponents to paint the party as anti-religious. In other words, if religious voters (as religious voters) are more up for grabs than they have been, then the parties (especially the GOP) will have to be more thoughtful in how they mobilize their various constituencies. Let’s hear more talk about opportunity and responsibility, and the culture and social settings that create them. This kind of talk appeals to religious folks, but not exclusively to them. And it can (or ought to) distinguish Republicans (and conservatives) from Democrats (and liberals).

Abortion: so what?

George F. Will argues that the status quo ante Roe leaves those who favor abortion rights nothing really to fear. Restoring moral federalism on abortion means only that each state will be able to establish its own laws. Things might change in morally conservative states, but are unlikely to change in others. So, he says to the anti-pro-lifers, why worry?

He’s right on the narrow merits of constitutional law, but he’s probably wrong on the soulcraft issues about which he used to care so deeply. Imagine the consequences of claiming that there isn’t a constitutionally enshrined right to choose. Imagine the admissibility of political and moral arguments about the right to life. Without the high ground of autonomy, protected by people in black robes, responsibility might make something of a comeback. And all the talk about "safe, legal, and rare" wouldn’t be a way of placating and disarming abortion opponents while protecting autonomy, but rather a real concession--with potentially real political consequences--that abortion is wrong.

Stated another way, the debate about abortion isn’t simply a political or legal or constitutional debate. It’s a moral debate. For abortion proponents, giving up the status quo for "moral federalism" is a step in the wrong direction, a step toward a new moral constellation. Moral federalism is an end-state only if it’s legitimate to have essentially any preference regarding abortion. Since that’s in effect what we have now--i.e., what the law "teaches" now--if moral federalism is something different, it’s different because it’s merely a political accommodation with "sin," that is, a step on the road to further delegitimization of abortion. A good thing, I think, but not one that folks to my left will acquiesce in.

Evangelicals adrift

Naomi Schaefer Riley says that efforts to pulls evangelicals leftward are meeting with resistance (at least of the foot-dragging sort), but that they’re also none too happy with Republicans. Her conclusion:

A recent poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life paints the picture: "Throughout Bush’s first term, party identification among younger white evangelicals remained relatively stable, but since 2005 the group’s Republican affiliation has dropped significantly--by 15 percentage points." The study notes, however, that "the shift away from the GOP has not resulted in substantial Democratic gains." In short, evangelicals seem adrift.

This development does not bode well for Republican turnout during next fall’s presidential campaign. And who can place a value on that?

John Fund

Doesn’t heart Huckabee. He surely isn’t a business conservative.

Rod at Home with Louisiana

But she’ll still break your heart. This column is our Crunchy friend Dreher at his best, including his enthusiastic endorsement of the a very un-Cajun and un-fundamentalist Louisiana stuck-with-virtue Republican who may save his state and even our country from the evils of faction and corruption.

James Wadsworth on Social Security

I was just doing some reading this morning, and came across something interesting from 1935, during the congressional debate over the original Social Security Act. New York Republican James W. Wadsworth, after acknowledging that there was nothing that he could say or do to prevent the passage of the wildly popular legislation, offered this dire prediction:

I know the appeal this bill has to every human being, that it appeals to the humane instincts of men and women everywhere. We will not deny, however, that it constitutes an immense, immense departure from the traditional functions of the Federal Government for it to be projected into the field of pensioning the individual citizens of the several States. It launches the Federal Government into an immense undertaking which in the aggregate will reach dimensions none of us can really visualize and which in the last analysis, you will admit, affects millions and millions of individuals. Remember, once we pay pensions and supervise annuities, we cannot withdraw from the undertaking no matter how demoralizing and subversive it may become. Pensions and annuities are never abandoned; nor are they ever reduced. The recipients ever clamor for more. To gain their ends they organize politically. They may not constitute a majority of the electorate, but their power will be immense. On more than one occasion we have witnessed the political achievements of organized minorities. This bill opens the door and invites the entrance into the political field of a power so vast, so powerful as to threaten the integrity of our institutions and so pull the pillars of the temple down upon the heads of our descendants.

Hmmm, I wonder if I can write in James Wadsworth on the ballot in the Republican primary....

Can’t we all just get along?

Renowned classicist Mary Lefkowitz has a new solution for our culture wars: bring back the Greek gods.

The polytheistic Greeks didn’t advocate killing those who worshiped different gods, and they did not pretend that their religion provided the right answers. Their religion made the ancient Greeks aware of their ignorance and weakness, letting them recognize multiple points of view.

There is much we still can learn from these ancient notions of divinity, even if we can agree that the practices of animal sacrifice, deification of leaders and divining the future through animal entrails and bird flights are well lost.


Openness to discussion and inquiry is a distinguishing feature of Greek theology. It suggests that collective decisions often lead to a better outcome. Respect for a diversity of viewpoints informs the cooperative system of government the Athenians called democracy.

Unlike the monotheistic traditions, Greco-Roman polytheism was multicultural. The Greeks and Romans did not share the narrow view of the ancient Hebrews that a divinity could only be masculine. Like many other ancient peoples in the eastern Mediterranean, the Greeks recognized female divinities, and they attributed to goddesses almost all of the powers held by the male gods.

The world, as the Greek philosopher Thales wrote, is full of gods, and all deserve respect and honor. Such a generous understanding of the nature of divinity allowed the ancient Greeks and Romans to accept and respect other people’s gods and to admire (rather than despise) other nations for their own notions of piety.


Paradoxically, the main advantage of ancient Greek religion lies in this ability to recognize and accept human fallibility. Mortals cannot suppose that they have all the answers. The people most likely to know what to do are prophets directly inspired by a god. Yet prophets inevitably meet resistance, because people hear only what they wish to hear, whether or not it is true. Mortals are particularly prone to error at the moments when they think they know what they are doing. The gods are fully aware of this human weakness. If they choose to communicate with mortals, they tend to do so only indirectly, by signs and portents, which mortals often misinterpret.

Ancient Greek religion gives an account of the world that in many respects is more plausible than that offered by the monotheistic traditions. Greek theology openly discourages blind confidence based on unrealistic hopes that everything will work out in the end. Such healthy skepticism about human intelligence and achievements has never been needed more than it is today.

There you have it. If you could choose a religion for merely political reasons, you might choose polytheism, especially since it--naturally, as it were--provokes philosophical skepticism. Of course Lefkowitz’s picture of the gods and the Greek response to the gods conveniently elides the conflictual aspects of Greek religion (all too often imitated by those proud and bellicose Greeks). If only the gods could learn to get along--to be open to the free exchange of ideas the way Wellesley professors are (oh wait, faculties aren’t like that...)--then perhaps all could be sweet. But we’re fallen and fallible, as a non-polytheistic religion reminds us. I guess we’ll just have to muddle through.

Apologies for getting to this a few days late. I just saw the piece in the Atlanta paper this morning, a few days after it ran in the LA Times.

Mac Owens and Orbis

I got an e-mail saying this, in part: "The Foreign Policy Research Institute is pleased to announce that
Mackubin (Mac) Owens has been appointed Editor of its flagship
publication, Orbis-A Quarterly Journal of World Affairs, effective with
the Summer 2008 issue. Owens is a prolific writer on military affairs
and a long-time associate of FPRI, where he is a Senior Fellow in the
Program on National Security."

There was more to it, but just praise of Owens, and I don�t want to go there. This is the Orbis site. I don�t get all this. I guess Owens has too much free time on his hands, although he is scheduled to teach a couple of classes in our MAHG graduate program next summer. Slow down, Colonel. You are not thirty-something anymore. Congratulations.

3 Questions

In response to David Tucker let me first thank him for pointing to the ways in which what I said could be misunderstood and for posing these questions for our further consideration.

Question 1: Is Wahabbism the same thing as Islamo-fascism? I am no expert on the tenets of the Wahabbist version of Islam but, from what I understand of it, it may be possible to be Wahabbist and not also be an Islamo-fascist. So the answer is "no." The one does not necessarily embrace the other.

Question 2: What do you mean by Islamo-fascism? I mean it literally. I mean fascism that finds its inspiration in and believes itself justified because of the teachings it finds in the Koran. Is every Islamic person an Islamo-fascist? Of course not. It isn’t even true that every fascist who happens to be a Muslim is necessarily an Islamo-fascist. The fascism has to find its roots (or rather claim to find its roots)--rightly or wrongly--in the Koran and the teachings of its "scholars."

Question 3: Why is it wrong for someone to refuse medical services for religious reasons, even if doing so threatens their life? I actually did not say that--so I’m not sure how to respond to the question. I don’t think it is wrong--at least not in a legal sense. It can and often is my opinion that such refusals are foolish--but I would not impose that view on someone who disagreed with me. I probably wouldn’t even tell them my opinion unless I knew them well because I would think it rude to intrude. I don’t even think it is wrong (in a legal sense) to refuse medical treatment on the grounds that you just don’t prefer to do it. You may be foolish, but I don’t think you can be compelled to be smart in this instance. But what I do object to is a culture that seeks to suppress information that a grown woman can use to make her own choices about her own health care. I object to it here--where we have those who suppress information that suggests childbirth and nursing are important to a woman’s health because it’s not PC to say it and it might offend women who choose not to do these things--and I object to it in Saudi Arabia--where women are afraid of the social backlash that comes to them if they see a male doctor or have a mastectomy. I also have to say that I find it preposterous that any serious so-called "religious" person would rather see his wife or mother or daughter die than permit her to disrobe in front of a male doctor who might help her to prevent that. And it is despicable for a man to abandon a woman who must chose to have a mastectomy if she intends to keep living. If a woman is so foolish (or fearful) that she will not heed good sense when presented with all the (truthful) information, I suppose I have nothing to say to her about that in any legal sense. I would not force her to get a mammogram or have a mastectomy. But I see nothing wrong with telling her that she really ought to do otherwise. She may take it or leave it--as many (very free) women in our country do too.

You did not ask about, but I think you implied that you wondered why I suggested that it was "Islamo-fascism" at work in this case. I think it is fascist to actively suppress the truth in order to manipulate or limit people’s choices. I think it is fascist to take away a person’s liberty in this way. So that explains the fascist part. The "Islamo" part comes from the reasons why those who suppressed information or punished women with cancer did what they did. It comes from their ideas about gender inspired by their extreme version of Islam.

But I should be clear that there was no suggestion that the government of Saudi Arabia was itself responsible for this suppression or bad behavior. On the contrary, the story suggested that things were improving, women were speaking out and educating each other and, after all, Laura Bush was there to promote breast cancer awareness. She would not have been invited if they were all complicit with this kind of thing. She would not have been invited if they were all "Islamo-fascists."

Muslim Christian Dialogue

In a recent issue, the Economist reported that 138 Muslim scholars, including Grand Muftis from several nations, wrote a letter to Christian leaders, Pope Benedict among them, asking for a dialogue. The Muslim leaders pointed out that Christianity and Islam contain a third and a fifth, respectively, of the people on earth. “If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace. The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake,” stated the Muslim leaders, according to the Economist.

In the spirit of the Muslim leaders, I would like to ask Julie Ponzi three questions about her post October 25, “Suppression of Breast Cancer Information--Islamic Style.” Is Wahabbism the same thing as Islamo-fascism? What do you mean by Islamo-fascism? Why is it wrong for someone to refuse medical services for religious reasons, even if doing so threatens their life?

Buy this book

I just received my review copy of John DiIulio’s Godly Republic (thanks to the good people here) and will preliminarily note three things. First, he gets blurbs from an amazing number of people, from Robert George to George Will to Gigi Georges (and that’s only the G’s). Second, he acknowledges both GWB and HRC, not to mention Rick Santorum and Joe Lieberman. Finally, all the after-tax royalties will go to faith-based charities.

But seriously, folks, his middle ground seems reasonable and attractive at first glance, though I’m sure to have quibbles along the way.

The Crisis in Candidate Literacy

That means two things: The current candidates have written 18 mostly mediocre and sometimes ghost-written books. And let’s admit it: We alleged experts have, at best, glanced at only a few of them. Romney’s love of McDonald’s burgers may mean that his taste in food mirrors his taste in novels, or that he doesn’t allow bobo snobbery get in the way what he genuinely experiences with his own tastebuds. Rudy’s praise of the vital virtue of loyalty may not be the message for 2008, given that our president might be criticized for having abused that virtue. McCain’s is full of straight talk about his own failings, and Fred’s is not about anything he’s done lately. Huck’s may be Straussian, with a complicated numerology going on. And Biden’s book actually sounds worth reading, because anything Irish and sentimental is worth reading. If you’ve actually read any or all of these, please let us know what you think.

When All Else Fails, Blame the Computers

The New Republic is trying to get to the bottom of the story about Private Beauchamp and the accuracy of his writing for their website. There’s been nothing in the magazine’s pages or on its website for almost three months since the editors promised to determine whether they could or couldn’t stand behind the story. TNR’s editor Franklin Foer told Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post yesterday that Beauchamp didn’t stand by his stories and he didn’t recant them. The implication is that the magazine is satisfied because the stories might be true. Opinion journalism apparently has something in common with horseshoes and hand-grenades: Close is close enough.Here’s what a TNR website search turned up today:

"Your search - Beauchamp - did not match any documents.

Thank you for coming to The New Republic! We are still trying to work out the kinks of our new website and ask for your patience while we move all of our content to the new location."

Nordlinger on Missile Defense, etc.

Jay Nordlinger has two pages full of good comments on everything from missile defense to President Bush’s honesty on Cuba to the left’s hatred of Dick Cheney to Sarkozy’s Israel policy.

As Jay says, it’s a "grossly long Impromptus," because he won’t be able to write again for several days. One reason he won’t is because he will be here tomorrow giving a talk for the Ashbrook Center. If you are in the area, tickets are still available.

Podcast with Jeremy Bailey

I did a podcast with Jeremy Bailey, a political science prof at the University of Houston. Jeremy’s book, Thomas Jefferson and Executive Power, was recently published by Cambridge University Press. We had a 20 minute conversation about the thesis of his book that I think was very interesting and enlightening. Thanks to Jeremy for the book and the podcast.

The Civil War Continued

After a hiatus, I have posted another installment of my series on the Civil War, aka The War of the Rebellion

This piece covers the critically important, but often underappreciated 1863 campaign in Central Tennessee. As I note in the piece, the Confederate general John B. Gordon described the Rebel setbacks at Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga as "a triune disaster to the Confederate cause."

But I conclude that the case can be made that the most important of these was Chattanooga. For even though 1863 appears in retrospect to be the decisive year of the war, war weariness in the North was becoming widespread, even with Union successes in the field. Dissent in the North was a major concern for Lincoln; indeed, he did not expect to win the election of 1864.

It was Sherman’s capture of Atlanta in September of 1864 that changed the electoral equation. Had Atlanta not fallen when it did, it is very possible that Democrat George McClellan would have been elected president, with the Copperhead Rep. George H. Pendleton of Ohio, as his vice president. A negotiated peace may well have followed.

But before Atlanta could fall, Union forces had to penetrate the Appalachian barrier at Chattanooga, opening the road to Atlanta. Had Bragg prevailed at Chattanooga, or even delayed its loss to the Union, the outcome of the war may have been far different than it was. The title of Peter Cozzens’ book on Chattanooga says it all: the loss of the city to the Confederates was indeed "the shipwreck of their hopes."

I also address the Lost Cause myth that claims that Confederate military leadership was generally superior to that of the Union. In fact, the only consistently successful Confederate army was Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. I don’t have a lot of positive things to say about Braxton Bragg, who commanded the main Confederate army in the West, the Army of Tennessee. I try to show how his failures in leadership destined his unfortunate army to stumble from one defeat to another.

Genuflecting at the altar of people-worship

Apropos of Peter L’s post, I wonder if Fred Thompson’s "laziness" isn’t a sign of Aristotelian magnanimity (or perhaps a gesture in that direction, self-conscious or not). Aristotle’s magnanimous man is famously slow to do anything other than the greatest things, thinking well enough of himself to think that much of the petty stuff isn’t worthy of him.

This is of course a problematical virtue (even from Aristotle’s point of view), and it doesn’t sit well with us democrats, as we like to be flattered and worshipped almost constantly. That Fred Thompson is short with reporters asking inane questions, doesn’t want to cozy up to the butter queen, and isn’t frenetic about campaigning (and that he wasn’t just absolutely enthralled by being a Senator) may speak well of him from a (sort of) aristocratic point of view. But "we the people" want someone whose most important concern is paying attention to our petty concerns. Or do we? Is it a sign of respect to be a "helicopter President" or to treat us like responsible adults?

More Idle Thoughts about Philosopher-Fred

He is lazy. He actually bragged about it in his high school yearbook. But that means he’s more like Churchill and Reagan than Nixon or Carter. Lazy men don’t start wars, and they’re rested up enough to get to work after some workaholic forces one on them.

Campaign matters

Daniel Henninger gives advice to Rudy Giuliani and religious conservatives about acting like grown-ups.

The NYT’s Gail Collins snidely argues that the failure of religious conservative leaders to rally around Mike Huckabee is evidence of their hard-heartedness:

Huckabee’s problems say more about the leaders of the religious right than about him. They’re united mainly by their hatred of abortion and gay marriage, and a desire to win. Considerations like who has the most Christian attitudes toward illegal immigrants don’t register. And the fact that as governor Huckabee spent a lot of time trying to spend money on the needy doesn’t go over all that well with the ones who believe that God’s top priority is eliminating the estate tax.

So Gail Collins knows what the "Christian attitude" toward illegal immigration should be? I know that it’s complicated by considerations of the rule of law, kindness and hospitality to the stranger, and recognition that the state has one role in these matters and the church another. And the "needy" who deserve our help, according to Collins, apparently don’t include the unborn. Whatever their position on it--usually opposed--I doubt that any religious conservative regards eliminating the estate tax as "God’s top priority."

As do the other candidates, Huckabee has strengths and liabilities, the balanced assessment of which calls for nuanced judgment. Henninger is right: we need grown-ups. Collins isn’t one.

Populist and cosmopolitan evangelicals

Here’s a great Pew transcript featuring Hanna Rosin, author of God’s Harvard, and Michael Lindsay, author of Faith in the Halls of Power. They offer a richly nuanced survey of the contemporary evangelical scene (though I have to confess that some of the nuance doesn’t show up until TWS’s Terry Eastland begins asking his characteristically well-informed questions.

For me, the crucial question is the character of Lindsay’s "cosmopolitan evangelicalism" (noted here). Is it simply or largely stylistic (focusing on how to be "winsome" in a pluralistic society) or does it bring with it some intellectual sophistication (either in terms of philosophical and theological depth or in terms of an integration and accommodation with "the world")? In the past, some evangelicals (perhaps more properly called fundamentalists) worried about how "intellectualism" inevitably led people away from faith. It surely can do that, but it also strikes me that, absent a self-conscious engagement with a rich intellectual tradition that provides sufficient resources for relection and "self-defense," people who go out into the world will almost inevitably surrender to it.

Huck’s Shortcuts

Before the new man from Hope can become a really serious candidate, we’re going to have to come to terms with these pretty serious allegations about his unethical activity as governor. Of course, we decided to give another Arkansan chief executive a pass when similar (really, worse) concerns surfaced.

Jack Pitney Has a Crystal Ball . . .

. . . or else he’s just damn smart. See this article wherein he speculates about what would happen in the event of California wildfires--last May. Is he not spot on down to the bit about Dems blaming Bush? He can be forgiven for tooting his own horn on this at The Remedy. When you’re that accurate you should shout it. He’s right, too, that Presidential candidates will have to face an electorate demanding a better understanding of emergency management and the Federal government’s role. In the coming weeks and months there will be time to discuss it more fully. And while it looks like San Diego, especially, is doing a very good job of taking care of itself, disaster preparedness--in general--should be a topic that smart Republicans can take on in a direct way.

A frequent (and legitimate) complaint about the administration’s case for the war was that they didn’t do much to make people feel tied to it--to get us involved in the effort or ask us to sacrifice for it. Disaster preparedness is not exactly the same thing . . . but it’s tied to national security and could be (God forbid) tied to the war effort. And it is something we can all take more responsibility for achieving in our communities. The GOP should be out in front promoting this.

Suppression of Breast Cancer Information--Islamic Style

Last week, I noted the ways in which our own brand of leftist fascists have suppressed important information about breast cancer and other women’s health issues because the truth conflicts with their radical feminist agenda. This week we can see parallels in Saudi Arabia where Laura Bush is now trying to help spread some good sense and common decency amidst the prevailing Islamo-fascist mindset. Young women who value the truth should consider these parallels carefully before they jump on board the bandwagon of today’s kind of feminism.

Speaking of (to) values voters

Our friend RC2 has some characteristically smart and sharp observations on the speeches made at the summit this past weekend. She liked Fred Thompson’s speech the best, for reasons that I find persuasive, and she called attention to a weakness in Huckabee that one finds all too often in evangelicals: there’s an articulation of a "worldview" that, at its best, amounts almost literally to preaching to the choir, but isn’t worried about appealing beyond the sanctuary. (We’re often told that God will take care of that.)

On this point, I’m with my "natural law" friends and not so much with my "worldview" brethren, who should probably be paying attention to arguments like this. I hasten to add that I’m not making an argument for not being distinctive, but a distinctiveness articulated and argued for "rationally" might actually have a larger audience than one that doesn’t. (God can work in non-mysterious as well as mysterious ways.)

Stated another way, I don’t necessarily fault Mike Huckabee for engaging in evangelical "identity politics" (I owe this phrase to someone, but I can’t remember who) last weekend, so long as he can "reason with" other audiences. But too many evangelicals have drunk too deeply of the well of postmodernism (and its critique of rationalism as if it were all dogmatic Enlightenment rationalism), and have forgotten (if ever they knew) what they should have learned at the feet of C. S. Lewis, if not of his much greater teachers.

Might this needless disdain of reason be at the root of the way all too many evangelical leaders engage in politics? Rather than try to "reason with" folks with whom they disagree, they assume that reason has no force in a fallen world, leaving themselves far too open to the temptation to rely on the heavy artillery, which in a fallen world doesn’t so much mean God as the emotionally mobilized evangelical foot soldiers. They think they have an answer to the question: "How many divisions does Focus on the Family have?"

Clarity on Giuliani’s Views About Abortion

I think Michael Medved makes some very important points in this article today about Rudy Giuliani’s position on the abortion question. As he explains, Giuliani really is "pro-choice" as distinguished from "pro-abortion." Many of us in the pro-life movement have been loathe to make that distinction in the past. But I think it is a real one that should be considered more seriously by pro-life folks. Like Medved, I would consider myself unhesitatingly pro-life. But I can also see that my position is a minority one. I think Rudy comes closer to representing what the vast majority of Americans think about the abortion issue and--when compared to the views of all leading Democrats--it is different and there is much to be preferred in it. It is at least worth considering a possible irony . . . could the least "pro-life" candidate actually do more to advance the pro-life cause than the other more emphatically pro-life candidates? I think it is a distinct possibility.

California Fires: How to Help Specifics

Again from my source on the ground, a specific list of things most needed:

50 cots * Mini-shampoos * Granola bars * SOCKS!! * Lotion * Bedding * Q-tips * Pre-packed aspirin/ibuprofen/Tylenol * Eyewash * Sunscreen * Gold Bond powder * Aloe vera

San Diegans can take these things to: AMERICAN MEDICAL RESPONSE 8808 BALBOA AVENUE, STE. 150 (BETWEEN 163 AND I-15).

Others in Southern California can take items to their local fire department where they will be sent to the location where they are most needed.

Useful Info if You Can Help

From an email I received from the front-lines of the relief effort:

Did you hear the National guard commander last evening say this is the most astounding civilian organized evacuation and relief effort he has seen in 40 years of working on disasters.

Some detailed notes: everyone thinks of diapers, no one thinks of Depends to donate. Not only the evacuees and relief volunteers need Gatorade and Pedialite, so do the folks in the animal shelters and kennels.

If you are able to be generous, and able to get to a relief shelter, take rolls of quarters and $20 bills and hand them out, as folks are asked not to use cell phones, and run out of coins for pay phones. Do not take homemade food--lots of folks have food allergies and these are exacerbated by the smoke. Batteries of all types a welcomed for small radios etc.

If you are in a safe neighborhood find out who needs breathing help, and who needs books etc for kids. OFten the usual caregivers for our elderly and small kids cannot get in as normal. The product Airborne really helps and is not hard for most people to tolerate.

One of the civilian volunteer shelters came up with a solution to the ’validation’ issue of who was allowed to do what--they bought colored Tees--everyone who was an evacuee was asked to wear one color, everyone who was a volunteer wore another, and no one could get a Tee without identification. Also there, and at Qualcomm, all kids who had parental permission, were dressed in "red runner" tees and did errands under adult supervision. The teenagers at Qualcomm and Del Mar fairgrounds are saying "This is the best experience of my life, I can really make a difference."

All civilian shelters have let people come in with pets, and pet care is proving one of the most soothing activities to offer folks.

Anyway, everyone is saying how remarkable the experience is and I think that is because the attitude is one of do what is needed now, we are in this together.

P.S.--urge folks not to donate sugar-based drinks, and to take with them gloves as the most important task they may be able to do is trash pick-up.

More Sources for Calif. Fire Updates

Courtesy of our frequent commenter, Carl Scott. Look here and here. Among all the disturbing and sad news comes a special worry for the soldiers and their families based at Camp Pendleton--as that area is now subject to some evacuations.

Project K.I.D., a wonderful group co-founded by my friend Lenore Ealy in the wake of the 2005 Katrina disaster, is already on the scene trying to help families with child care issues as they go about re-establishing their lives and their homes. (Imagine trying to navigate the mess of insurance and clean-up and federal agencies with a toddler in tow!) They are also working on general disaster-preparedness issues with a focus on localized (and therefore, more effective) efforts. This is something we all would do well to consider more than we are prone to do. Conservatives, especially, talk a lot about personal and localized responsibility. But how many of us really know what we would do in the event of an emergency like this? What is your plan? I confess that we have some plans . . . but not enough. And I’m not sure where I would go in my community for help if I needed it. Today is a good day to start thinking about that. In the meantime, it’s also a good day to help groups like Project K.I.D. who have taken it upon themselves to think these things through for us and point us in the right direction.

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt is recommending Kithbridge as another very useful link. I see they’re also linking "And I Still Persist" and "Infinite Monkeys." Good calls.

One-Term McCain?

Ramesh claims that McCain would be the GOP’s strongest candidate in November and that he would make himself even stronger by pledging to serve only one term. It’s true that John doesn’t share Mitt’s or Rudy’s characteristic weaknesses; he’s not a Mormon and he’s been clear on being anti-ROE. But arguably the one-term pledge would focus attention on his (old) age, and his candidacy would focus the campaign on Iraq, which may not be to the Republicans’ advantage. And both Romney and Giuliani have that proven competence thing going for them; they’ve both been very effective executives.

California Fire Updates

As of now, we are blessedly spared from any fire danger in my area. But the smoke and ash are pretty oppressive anywhere you go in Southern California. The schools have canceled recess and pretty much all other outdoor activities. The best reporting and summaries (with links) I’ve been able to find are coming from my friend Ben over at Infinite Monkeys. When I last checked the numbers, the fires had consumed close to 700 homes and damaged hundreds more in the various areas where they are burning. Pray for those people and help where you can.

UPDATE: It’s much worse than 700 homes, unfortunately. It’s more than 1000 in San Diego county alone. I didn’t realize what a huge national story this was until this evening and the scope of the thing became more clear. (Also people keep calling to see if we’re o.k.--thanks!) So you all probably know as much as I do. Still, Ben’s links are quite helpful if you want even more information than you’re getting elsewhere.

Richard Land, post Values Voters summit

Southern Baptist heavyweight Richard Land continues to talk tough about Guiliani, even after a speech that contains the following passages:

First, I will veto any reduction in the impact of the Hyde Amendment or other existing limits on abortions or the public funding of abortions. (Applause.) I will support
-- I will support any reasonable suggestion that promises to reduce the number of
abortions. I support parental notification and will continue to, and I supported and
continue to support the ban on partial-birth abortion.


In many ways
-- in many ways, our liberty as Americans is protected by the separation of powers
between and among the three branches of government. In order for that to work as it was intended by our Founding Fathers, each one of the branches must respect the limitations that are placed on it by the Constitution. So it is critical that judges be conscientious in their role of interpreting the law, not creating the law.


And each opportunity I have, I
guarantee you I will appoint men and women who understand and act upon the principle
that I just said to you -- that it is their role to determine what other people meant when they wrote the words of our Constitution or the laws, not what they would like it to mean.


And if you need a yardstick, well what kind of judges would he appoint, then I can tell you I would appoint Supreme Court justices in the mold of Justice Scalia, Justice Thomas, Justice Alito, or Chief Justice Roberts. They might not agree on every interpretation, but over the course of hundreds of opinions, you will see a
consistency of interpretation that evidences their determination to figure out what the Constitution means.

This comes pretty close to what Land says he wants Giuliani to say:

He would [have to] say, number one, "This is a pro-life party. I realize I am out of step with where the party is, and I am not going to try to in any way weaken the [pro-life] plank." He could say, "I will only appoint strict constructionists, original-intent jurists to the federal judiciary." Strict constructionists by definition think that Roe v. Wade was an overreach and is a badly decided decision. If he were to agree to appoint a pro-life attorney general in the mode of a John Ashcroft …


And if he also said, "I will not veto any legislation that comes across my desk that restricts abortion. And if he were then to further say, "I will veto any legislation that comes to my desk that expands abortion rights …" If he did that he would mitigate the damage.

But Land remains obdurate: the summit speech did nothing in his view to mitigate his position among conservative Christians. Still, he’ll concede RG this much:

In the recent debate I think he helped himself a lot—[particularly] when he made the statement that if some sort of critical mass of four, five or six states [allow] same-sex marriage, he would support a constitutional amendment [to ban it]. He said that had always been his position. It may have been, but he certainly kept it a well-guarded secret. That will help him among social conservatives.

Call me squishy, but I’d be celebrating Giuliani’s gestures and looking for common ground wherever possible, at least to the point of being able to keep a door open for reconciliation. Stated another way: I’d rather be able to declare victory if Giuliani met me at 75% of the way, rather than have to concede defeat if he didn’t come all the way over to my side. Here’s RG invoking the shade of Reagan:

Ronald Reagan had a great way of summarizing it. He used to say, “My 80 percent friend is not my 100 percent enemy.”

That’s politics. If Land doesn’t want to play politics, he shouldn’t be giving interviews to Newsweek.

"If you are to be an alternative, you have to be where the alternative is needed."

J.C. Watts points to what should be obvious for GOP operatives. I note his article mainly because, in itself, it makes a powerful argument against the GOP front-runners and their operatives who seem to be doing nothing to cultivate support among blacks. Beyond that, however, consider this:

I can, without fear of contradiction, assure you the Conventional Wisdom Caucus and the Status Quo Caucus and the same-old-tired-establishment consultants are running the GOP front-runners’ campaigns -- and aiming to get no more than 1/12th of the black vote.
If that is true--how much more is true? How many other important opportunities are being ignored? If the "Conventional Wisdom Caucus and the Status Quo Caucus and the same-old-tired-establishment consultants" really are running the GOP front-runners’ campaigns to the extent that Watts posits, I expect this won’t be the only lost opportunity for the GOP this campaign season. If any group of individuals should have lost their jobs after the ’06 mid-terms (apart from the losing incumbents) it ought to have been the representatives of that (old) school of politics Watts condemns. If this political season is one in which the strength of the base is supposed to be questionable, I would think the smart money would work--not simply at begging that base to remain intact--but also at growing it. This does not mean that GOP candidates should approach new forums with their hats in their hands offering bread and circuses. That’s the "white guilt" of Democrats. The Republican version of "white guilt" is to ignore the problem or pander in half-steps. I am tired of white guilt in all its forms. Why can’t a Republican stand up, say what needs to be said and, thereby, do his audience the honor of treating them like thinking men and women. The MSM and the Dems will try to demonize such a candidate. But the candidate may be surprised to see growing respect and even support from those who seem to get no honest respect elsewhere.

Rich Lowry’s take on Huckabee

Vice presidential timbre.

Update: While I’m at it, here’s Terry Eastland.

A reminder

If you needed any reminding, Gary L. McDowell recalls the Bork nomination battle to discuss the stakes in the upcoming election. Of course, if Democrats makes the gains in the Senate that they expect, even a Republican President committed to "constitutionalism" will have a hard time filling the bench with acceptable judges and justices.

Friendship in Texas

Our friend John von Heyking sends word of this conference on friendship, featuring other friends, to be held at Baylor University later this week. Friends within driving distance of Baylor (in Texas, that means 500 miles, doesn’t it?) might consider dropping in.

Equal Time for Men

Last week I noted this story by Dr. Miriam Grossman outlining important information about breast cancer prevention that is often ignored because of ideology. Today, Daniel Halperin notes in The Washington Post some ways for men to prevent the spread of AIDS that might not be considered . . . well, politically correct.

Happy Birthday Daniel Boone!

A fitting tribute to his pioneer spirit appeared today in the Orange County Register.

Religion and politics miscellany

I neglected to link to yesterday’s big stories about the Values Voters summit. Well, here they are, including this weird bit of self-conscious cultural anthropology.

Here’s an article based on an interview with Mike Huckabee that ought to make a lot of people angry and others interested, especially in the light of all the reports (including this one, overblown though it is) that evangelicals are "evolving" politically.

Finally, here’s a story about a document to be considered by U.S. Catholic bishops at their upcoming meeting. Intended to guide Catholic participation in our current political season, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility From the Catholic Bishops of the United States" offers a nuanced response to efforts to nuance into diminished significance the "human life" issues that have been at the core of traditional Catholic and Protestant stances in the current poltiical debate. I suspect that the bishops’ Protestant brethren would also profit from reading the document, though I haven’t seen the whole thing.

Update: Here’s Byron York, arguing that there are five plausibly top tier Republican contenders in a wide-open race. Our friend the Friar, who has his doubts about Huckabee (and seems to lean toward Giuliani), calls our attention to this post by Evangelical Outpost’s Joe Carter (an employee of summit host Family research Council). The post is not calculated to leave feathers unruffled. And Carter answers our friend RC2’s plaintive request for speech transcripts.

Another Weekend Lost to the CRB . . .

Mark Steyn is quoted in the new issue of the Claremont Review of Books as saying: "The Claremont Review of Books is an indispensable publication . . . If like me you start reading late in the evening, you may lose sleep but you’ll gain an awful lot." I guess I read a lot slower than Mr. Steyn because I spent most the weekend with the CRB (between familial obligations, of course) and I’m still finding more time to lose and much more to gain! Charles Kesler has two excellent must read essays in this issue--but, of course, they haven’t posted them yet. This is going to sound odd . . . but I’m recommending reading this fine piece by Cheryl Miller on Edith Wharton first. Then read the Kesler essays when your hard copy arrives and see if there isn’t a common thread there. There is also a good review by Michael Barone of Bill Bennett’s two volume history of the United States. Of course, you can’t miss Steve Hayward’s fine essay on recent Reagan books. If you don’t subscribe already, you really are missing out. I can think of a thousand things I would deny myself before I denied myself the pleasure of reading the CRB.

Monty Python’s Upper Class Twit of the Year Award

. . . this is what our own Steve Hayward, in an interview with Frontpage Magazine, said Al Gore should have gotten instead of the Nobel Peace Prize. Good line. But you need to read the whole interview and the links therein to fully appreciate its humor.  

Louisiana’s new governor

I note with some pleasure that the "racists" in Louisiana just elected a Republican of color as governor. Congratulations to Governor-elect Bobby Jindal, a likely rising star in the Republican Party.