Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

How Lame Is This?

The Washington Post reports this morning that the National Cathedral is in fiscal trouble. The Cathedral has had to lay off 33 people, including some clergy (male or female???), and close the greenhouse. Now this is the Episcopal National Cathedral. You know, the denomination once referred to as "the Republican Party at prayer." Rich folk. The National Cathedral being on hard times is like Goldman Sachs not being able to make money on Wall Street, the NY Yankees not being able to win with the biggest payroll in baseball, like Michael Jordan not being able to dunk over Freddie Patek, like Democrats not being able to win an election in Massachusetts. Imagine how much money the National Cathedral would raise in the hands of a fundamentalist or evangelical (or Catholic) denomination.

Just shows that fiscal incompetence follows theological incompetence (says this ex-Episcopalian).

Gee, What a Surprise

Obama Resigns Church Membership.

What took him so long?

Traditionalist Wisdom

The American Conservative EUNOMIA">site offers some quite astute and relatively nonpartisan commentary on the election. Here’s the best case for optimism about McCain’s November victory: 1. Obama should be much further ahead in the polls than he is now; this is time for the canidate of the non-incumbent party to run amok, like Kerry did in 2004. It’s likely that CHANGE come fall is not going to be Barack’s friend. 2. The Republicans are in denial about how bad the Senate races look. Even Mitch McConnell is running behind! By October, it will probably be clear that the Republicans will be reduced to 40 or fewer seats--leaving them in no position to offer any resistance at all to President Obama. 3. McCain will be able to appeal quite effectively to fears about an UTTERLY UNCHECKED, very inexperienced, and very liberal president. What’s bad news for the party is good new for Mac, and that shouldn’t be all that surprising.

EUNOMIA also offers very good arguments against McCain choosing Romney for VP and against Obama choosing Webb. The key point in both cases is that the candidate won’t be helped by an obviously inauthentic choice.

What Happened. . .

. . . to Scott McClellan? I’m not going to waste a single minute reading his book looking for insight, but it does prompt reference to a great one-sentence summary: "This is the book of a smart-aleck, seemingly devoid of any sense of honor."

While that sentence fits McClellan, it was actually written in 1986 by James Q. Wilson to describe David Stockman’s anti-Reagan book The Triumph of Politics. Therein lies a lesson in the insubstantiality of McClellan’s book and the wider controversy surrounding it. At least Stockman’s dishonorable book dealt with serious questions of policy. Stockman’s problem was his "intellectual promiscuity" (Wilson again); no one doubted his intelligence and ability, though some of his weaknesses have apparently persisted in his business career and landed him in serious legal trouble today. McClellan has merely confirmed his lightweight status. Stockman merely showed that for all his brilliance he didn’t really understand politics very well, as the thesis of his book was that he was "shocked, shocked" that politics would intrude on his admirable budget-cutting designs. That said, there is much to be learned from Stockman’s disreputable book. McClellan is now "shocked, shocked" that a president would resort to persuading the American people through political rhetoric (a less pejorative term than "propaganda") to support his foreign policy. The difference here is that, unlike Stockman, McClellan doesn’t even rise to the level of "smart-aleck."

Fukuyama Supports Obama

...according to this Austrialian article. It’s much more clear why he’s against the current administration than why he’s for Barack. (But lots of sophisticated Obama supporters are like that.) Frank admits that the surge worked, but he adds that no president, even McCain, will be able to maintain the troop levels required to turn today’s stability into enduring political success. He can see how McCain could win, but how could he govern with huge Democratic majorities in Congress? Frank also contends we’ve shown a kind of lack of courage by overplaying and overreacting to the threat of terrorism and radical Islam. On a more theoretical level, he’s sticking with his revisionist view that "the end of history" really means that modernization and democratization tend to go together. But that’s a lot less than saying that human lives have become so happy and dignified that they can’t imagine doing any better (which is something like what the end of history would really have to be). We also have to hope, with ambiguous evidence so far, that China is not a big exception to the general historical rule. Let me make clear that I don’t agree with most of this (I got in trouble by saying Frank was way overrated when he was more fashionable among conservatives). But he knows a lot and gives a lot to talk about.

Dinner with Jeb

Some coverage of last night’s dinner with Jeb Bush.

Here is the talk, and Q & A, on Real Audio and in MP3 format.

Is McCain the New Goldwater?

Here’s some evidence that he is. I agree that they share the characteristic of being senators from Arizona. Being Goldwater is certainly admirable but not so promising for November. Barry’s campaign was one of the worst ever, and he had to rally at the end just to lose by an unprecedented margin. But of course Obama is no LBJ; he infinitely prettier and more personally popular. This article does do well in laying out the conservative virtues of our honorable candidate: his resolute opposition to earmarks, new entitlements, new taxes, and all that--not to mention his unquestioned patriotism. The trouble with that list is that it’s all about self-sacrifice, all pain and no gain. Mac has a hard time making it clear that his job will be to improve the lives of ordinary Americans. (A big exception here is his fine market-based health care reform, which maximizes both coverage and choice.) And Mac does share Barry’s libertarian aversion to the vulgarity of social conservatism. Lots to talk about in this thoughtful article...

Boomers Get a (well-deserved) Spanking . . .

. . . from Victor Davis Hanson. But this is no ordinary spanking; he takes it all the way back to Demosthenes (classicist, after all).

Of course, it’s easy for me (a non-boomer) to cheer this explanation--this shirking of responsibility and seeking of blame--and put it on the doorstep of my parents’ generation. But then, that would be very boomerfied of me, wouldn’t it? So I try to remember that it will fall to those of my generation to turn course . . . maybe, just maybe, that’s why we won’t have a boomer candidate in this presidential election. Are we trying to decide between the only two available alternatives: our grandparents and ourselves?

Trouble is, it seems every generation is now beholden to the navel gazing boomer mantra. Obama’s showing that he can "out-boomer" the boomers (ever the child of 1968, he even hangs out with some of their icons). McCain--though not a boomer--too often looks to be doing the pathetic "me too!" dance one associates with old guys who want to look cool. He has the look sometimes of a beleaguered college administrator giving in (in some lame half way) to the radical demands of a student sit-in.

Prof. Hanson owes us another article now. This time tracing back to the generations following the bad ones he describes in history. What becomes of them? What lessons can we draw from them?

McClellan’s Memoir Reviewed by a Memoirist

Peggy Noonan (yes, that’s twice in one day that I’ve linked to her) reviews Scott McClellan’s book and discovers that though she probably does not like Scott McClellan, she might believe him. She wonders, at any rate, if there isn’t something worthy of consideration in what he says--at least in terms of his larger arguments about and against the administration. Noonan does not defend McClellan from charge that he is a lightweight . . . indeed, she offers irrefutable evidence from his book to support that contention. But I think she is suggesting that some of the themes McClellan takes up are worthy of deeper consideration than McClellan is capable of giving them. Perhaps they should not be dismissed just because they have been embraced by Scott McClellan. And maybe he’s added a bit (even if only a tiny bit) to our ability someday to understand them.

Angry White Chicks

This essay in Newsweek argues that the battle between Clinton and Obama will have lasting negative implications for relations between black and white women. A taste:

Détente now seems out of the question. The relationship between black and white women was never that strong to begin with. Sure, we’ve had a few good moments here and there, and we have meaningful relationships with individual black or white girlfriends, but there has always been a stubborn divide. That divide is now a chasm of resentment.
Oh, yes . . . the meltdown of identity politics continues apace.

How to Enjoy Being a Girl in Politics

Peggy Noonan nails it. Hillary should have listened . . .

Another Bitter Irony for Feminism

Colleen Carroll Campbell writes a disturbing column today documenting the shift in the ratio of male to female births in countries like India, China and . . . the United States? The clear culprit in this unsettling trend is not (for a refreshing change) "global warming" but, rather, sex-selective abortion. I realize that this may come as a shock to some people, but it turns out that in many cultures people prefer to raise sons. The technology and the ideology of choice have empowered that preference for a generation and we are now witness to the result.

Campbell rightly points to other likely outcomes of this genius empowerment: a shortage of some 30 million females in China alone by the year 2020. This shortage is sure to lead to more exploitation of women in the form of early and forced marriage, kidnapping, rape, forced prostitution or sex slavery, and other forms of violence. And I’m not even going to speculate about the world political consequences of all that extra (and frustrated) testosterone walking around . . .

Campbell calls this development a "bitter irony" and she is dead right. The irony is that access to abortion and other forms of neo-natal technology were supposed to liberate women from some of the more burdensome and difficult aspects of their nature. We took away the power that nature held over our fates and gave ourselves the "right" to make independent decisions (ha!, wink, wink--nod, nod) about what is best for our own bodies. No longer would a woman be forced into multiple and unwanted pregnancies only to remain in a condition of thankless servitude to a man . . . This empowerment was supposed to create a new dawn of equality and to end misogyny, wasn’t it? Perhaps it turns out that the best way to end misogyny (or at least keep it in check) is to work with nature--creating a good and decent civilization where life is respected--rather than working against nature as if She were the enemy.

Kudos to the Big Mac (Owens, that is)

Hey Mac!--aren’t you infringing on my beat? That’s okay: I’ll fire from the same foxhole as Mac any time.

As for Julie’s query about coal-to-liquid below, I’m not sure what to make of this. I’ve had the coal-to-liquid people in my office saying they can do it profitably at an equivalent price of $50 a barrel for oil. But then they want Congress to give them massive loan guarantees because Wall Street won’t finance the development of coal-to-liquid plants. If the production costs are what they say they are, they shouldn’t need help from Washington, given current energy prices. So I’m agnostic about this.

Congress and High Gasoline Prices

I have a piece in today’s Wall Street Journal on the topic of high gasoline prices. My conclusion is that Congress, not "Big Oil," bears most of the responsibility, because the former has made it impossible for U.S. producers of crude oil to tap significant domestic reserves of oil and gas, and it has foreclosed economically viable alternative sources of energy in favor of unfeasible alternatives such as wind and solar.

The fact is that world oil supply has been curtailed by the cartel-like behavior of foreign national oil companies, which control nearly 80% of world petroleum reserves. Faced with little competition in the production of crude oil, the members of this cartel benefit from keeping the commodity in the ground, confident that increasing demand will make it more valuable in the future. Despite its pious denunciations of the behavior of U.S. investor-owned oil companies (IOCs), Congress by its actions over the years has ensured the economic viability of the national oil company cartel.

It has done so by preventing the exploitation by IOCs of reserves available in nonpark federal lands in the West, Alaska and under the waters off our coasts. These areas hold an estimated 635 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas – enough to meet the needs of the 60 million American homes fueled by natural gas for over a century. They also hold an estimated 112 billion barrels of recoverable oil – enough to produce gasoline for 60 million cars and fuel oil for 25 million homes for 60 years.

I argue that announcing that these areas will be exploited will have the same effect as Ronald Reagan’s deregulation of domestic crude oil prices at the beginning of his first term. At the time, thanks to the decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to curtail output, the price of oil was at a level that in real terms is only now being matched. Domestic price controls ensured that the OPEC cartel would face little or no competition in the production of oil.

Reagan’s deregulation of crude oil prices created incentives for domestic producers to invest in exploration and to increase production. The threat of increased output by non-OPEC producers destroyed the discipline among OPEC members necessary to restrict production to maintain high prices. Facing the likelihood that an increase in supply would lead to lower future prices, OPEC producers increased output in the hopes of maximizing profits before prices fell. The cascading effect caused oil prices to tumble.

The piece has gotten me an invitation to appear on CNBC this afternoon, some time around 2:50.

Kudlow’s Coal Strategy

Lawrence Kudlow, in the context of making a very clear argument for getting government out of the business of picking winners and losers in the energy markets, makes a very astute observation about the location of the majority of the country’s coal deposits . . . an observation that Sen. McCain would do very well to take in, absorb, and contemplate as he moves forward in his bid for the Presidency. Of course, if everything Kudlow implies about the workability of this coal-to-liquid technology is true, it probably tears to bits my argument for considering Lieberman for the VP position, since he’s sponsoring legislation that effectively would eliminate it . . . but I think it’s possible that this coal strategy is better in both the narrow electoral sense and in the larger national interest sense. It would certainly be wonderful for Ohio. Curious about what our Mr. Hayward knows and thinks about this coal technology . . .

Power to the Mommybloggers

Laura McKenna writes about the lack of respect offered to "Mommybloggers" by the MSM courtesy of a simply awful sounding "interview" conducted by Kathie Lee Gifford (uh, duh!?) for The Today Show. Mommybloggers run the gambit from personal diarists reflecting upon the exploits of themselves and their children to those, like McKenna, who blur the lines of distinction between personal and political blogging. McKenna offers links to a good number of these blogs, so read her write-up to get a good feel for the culture of the "Mommyblog."

I’m not sure I qualify for the title of "Mommyblogger" though I’m certainly a "Mommy" and it’s been alleged, on occasion, that I’m a blogger. Still, after reading McKenna’s discussion of Mommybloggers, I think there are additional requirements. I don’t--for example--feel particularly compelled to discuss potty training in a detailed and graphic manner; though I have noted my inability to be shocked by such things.

McKenna notes that while Mommyblogs and Mommybloggers tend to be subjected to disrespectful treatment in the media and in the culture, there are reasons for Mommybloggers to be of good cheer in the face of what she considers a temporary condition. First, much of the dismissal comes from those who (still!) want to dismiss the whole phenomenon of blogging as the ramblings of madmen and madwomen in their underwear. This is no longer a serious or a defensible opinion about the whole of the blogosphere, but honesty compels those who want to defend blogging to admit that it is not unfair to characterize a good chunk of it that way. Yet for Mommybloggers, McKenna argues, there is the additional burden that much of what they cover is dismissed as "girlie talk" and somehow unworthy of serious reflection or attention. To that, I say re-read what I said above about what honesty compels. But insofar as there are serious (and seriously compelling, intelligent and witty) Mommybloggers, at least marketers are sitting up and taking notice. Johnson and Johnson, for instance, tried to sponsor a Mommyblogger conference--though they seem to have suffered from some old school hang-ups about the propriety of including infant children--as if this was an ordinary "business" conference. McKenna seems to think that despite this blunder from JnJ, corporate America is only a few steps behind figuring out how to adapt to and make use of this new cultural phenomenon. As it grows--and I think it must--I wonder if the response from the political world will be as quick or as adept in "getting it" as the private sector has been. I wonder, further, whether conservatives will be able to make use of their natural edge in this market or if they, like JnJ (whose product line ought to give it a natural edge), will fumble. McKenna ends her post by pointing to this poignant post from Surrender Dorothy in which SD notes, "Here we are, world. Here we are." Not quite, "I am woman, hear me roar . . ." but then, it’s that much more believable.

Mark Baerlein’s musings about the Dumbest Generation and the stupefying power of technology aside, I think this is just one example of the ways in which the world will change--for good or ill (though I think mostly, for good)--in the coming generation. Moms of all stripes and varieties will enter the blogosphere (with varying degrees of success and value, to be sure) but at least they have the potential to be refreshingly less monolithic and pathetic than are the offerings of so-called women’s television and morning talk shows.

Negative Industrial Policy

I see that the CEO of Dow Chemical is blaming the government for the rising cost of energy. A good CEO in the MBA/ bureaucratic mold, he complains about our lack of industrial policy: "The government’s failure to develop a comprehensive energy policy is causing U.S. industry to lose ground when it comes to global competitiveness, and our own domestic markets are now starting to see demand destruction throughout the U.S."

Is that a fair characterization? It is true that we don’t have a "comprehensive" energy policy. We do, however, have a variety of policies that shape and direct the market for energy in the U.S. We have rules regulating the kinds of plants that may be built in the U.S., and where they may be built. We have policies regulating what we may import, how, and at what cost.

In short, the vast array of EPA, zoning, trade, and other such regulations keep us from having a free market in energy, which would allow us to liberty to figure out how to get more energy more inexpensively. Perhaps the best energy policy we can have is to open up these markets. We don’t need the government to guess which types of plants should be build where. But we could use some help allowing us to find our own way without a maze of regulations complicating the process.

Jeb Bush replaces Tony Snow

Tony Snow cancelled on us for our Annual Dinner. We are told that his doctors are telling him he cannot travel. I wish Tony the best. We were able to get Jeb Bush to replace him, I am happy to say. I thought he did a fine job as governor of Florida. His talk is entitled "America’s Promise."

Bush’s McClellan . . .

. . . as a dog who once barked and now bites. The New York Times reports on a memoir by the former press secretary for the Bush Administration entitled "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception," which comes out next Tuesday. The theme is self-deception, and you can guess who feels bad about it, now. Not a pretty picture for all involved.

Stuart Taylor vs. The California Court

Taylor is all for same-sex marriage, and he’s happy that our laws seem to be progressing in that direction. But he’s still outraged by judicial imperialism or shameless judicial legislation. McCain needs to read this article and learn why he, too, should be outraged at this assault on self-government.

Brooks’ VP Choices

David is waffling a bit on Nunn for Obama. His new idea is Tom Daschle, and that would make for an authentic ticket. Why shouldn’t Barack pick a very competent nice-guy liberal? But for McCain the best Brooks can come up with is Pawlenty and Portman--two yawners. Brooks does give us the news that Mac himself is thinking seriously about Meg Whitman (the billionaire who just stepped down as CEO of eBaby). I don’t know enough about her to comment much, but the jokes will start flying about McCain loving to surround himself with really, really rich women. And she may not be the ticket for holding the Reagan Democrats in place. On the other hand, given the Republican talent dearth, I’d be vetting her too. She may be great; she’s certainly hyper-competent and one of the most influential people in American business life today.

Saving the Democrats from Themselves and Us from Them?

All kidding aside, and even if I can’t swallow all of it, there is something serious supporting Jonah Goldberg’s argument about McCain choosing a Dem for his VP nominee. It is this: Perhaps we have to save the Democrats from themselves before we can a.) save the country from the consequences of the direction of today’s Dem. party and b.) save the Republicans from self-imposed oblivion.

Let’s look at some of the facts before we move on. As you look at the field of possible contenders, Jonah is right to argue that none of them really brings a solid plus without also bringing aboard some complicating baggage. Jindal, though an excellent choice for many of the reasons we’ve articulated here before, does run the risk of looking like a gimmick and also of ruining his own career. And it’s very likely that Jindal will not want to do it and I cannot blame him for it. Romney will only please a very select group of conservatives and turn off a very large segment of the undecided voting public. I promise you, if he is selected, it’s over. We lose. He makes it almost impossible (fairly or not) to beat Obama with the elitist stick that will win this election for McCain if properly employed. It’s also true that if we get a Republican squish for the Veep nominee, we lose. This will send the conservatives into a howling fit from which McCain is not likely to recover (though I do suspect that McCain does not really believe this and, for that reason I fret over him . . . he should, under no circumstances, tempt the fates with any more deliberate insults levied at conservatives).

McCain’s objective if he means to achieve victory is to maintain the conservative base and attract sensible voters from the middle. There’s more to doing that than choosing a Vice Presidential candidate--to be sure--but this choice will be one of the yardsticks by which the tone of his campaign will be set and measured. So how can I entertain the possibility of a Democrat as VP?

Instinctively, I’m inclined to dismiss Jonah’s idea and say, of course, he should choose a REPUBLICAN above all else. I may still hold that opinion even after I seriously entertain the idea of choosing a Dem. But perhaps there is some utility in thinking through the possible reasons for McCain choosing a Dem, even if we reject it in the end. I’m going to dismiss Sam Nunn for my purposes and consider, instead, Lieberman. I choose him only because he is more well-known today (esp. among younger voters), well-liked by all sorts, and he carries with him the irresistible aura of a wronged man. Choosing him would first be an admission from McCain that he is not going to (and cannot) re-christen the Republican party in his image. After the initial anger Lieberman’s nomination would cause, McCain could use it to reassure conservatives that he isn’t trying to re-invent the conservative movement or re-shape the Republican party. Rather, he’s trying to be practical and do a specific job: win the war. This could give conservatives the hope of living to fight another day on the turf of their choosing rather than that of John McCain. I, for one, prefer this to having to carry water for McCain. If this alliance between McCain and Lieberman could be painted as something like a war-time coalition government or a task force of the parties. Apart from the good it would do for the parties--as it is sometimes good to break up a fight even if you know it will later resume--it would be good for the country to unite around this issue of ending the war in Iraq with honor. It allows John McCain to fight on the warrior ground upon which he is most comfortable and most capable. It forces Obama to enter into an area in which he’s quite uncomfortable and, we’ve seen, incompetent. It highlights McCain’s strengths and Obama’s weaknesses. It is courageous to take on this fight and people will respect that. I have always liked the idea of attacking the question of the war head-on. He might as well. If he tries to skirt it, he will lose as people notice he’s not defending his position and his claim of courage loses credibility. He can only win as a war president. I think he knows this.

I don’t know if it would be wise to state up-front that McCain will only seek one term. Jonah’s right that this would cheer conservatives . . . but then McCain would be a lame duck from the get-go. Further, it is asking too much of his pride to suggest it. On the other hand, if he is clever, he may get the same benefit Jonah speculates about if he just lets that idea float and keeps people guessing. Besides, things could change. Something terrible could happen to the country and we may not want to change horses in mid-stream. I almost always think it’s a terrible idea not to leave open the possibility of re-election in a republic.

More good things that could come from this choice: It would be good for the Democrats to see the more extreme wing of their party suffer a serious defeat. If Lieberman is the choice and wins along with McCain, Lieberman would be vindicated. He may not be (exactly) a Scoop Jackson Democrat. But he’s a damn sight better than anything else they’ve got going right now. He’s a person of some integrity and backbone and he’s got a common-sensical love for the country that appeals to everyone. He connects with the people we need in order to prevail in the struggle we’re in with the radical elements of Islam. It is better to have those people planted firmly on our side (even if temporarily) and to give them a stake in the fight than to have them loosely tied and trailing behind the radical elements among the Democrats where they can’t do anything but wring their hands and get used, occasionally, to attack the wisdom of Republicans. With the Dems they can do no good and affect nothing. With us, they can help their country and rise to a position of prominence--perhaps one day strong enough to regain control of their own party and defeat us. But such a defeat would be honorable and I am willing to risk it. I would rather suffer that than defeat at the hands of the likes of Obama & Co. and watch my country do great damage to herself and others.

Some may object that there is also a danger that admitting these folks in among our ranks may work against us and allow them to take over our party. I concede that. But I am not afraid of that challenge. I do not think they could transform the Republican party as easily as those who fear this imagine. I think it’s more likely that the Democrats would find themselves in need of copying us in an attempt to bring these folks home to them. Then we’d have a genuine and worthy fight for the center. I would be happier to do combat on these friendly terms with a loyal opposition than to have to continue in these pointless squabbles with an opponent who does not even come to the table with the same understanding of the terms. We could make real inroads with some of these voters, I think, and the GOP could build itself a strong center.

Do we have to save the Democrat party from itself before we can work on saving the Republicans? I’m still very tentative about this but I begin to suspect that we do.

A Country for Old Men?

Jonah G suggests that McCain pick Sam Nunn for his VP nominee. David Brooks, among others, made that suggestion to Obama. They could both pick him, I guess, adding needed stability to our political system. Jonah’s full suggestion is that the old guys’ ticket pledge to serve one term, and that pledge would be quite credible given actuarial statistics and such. Mac’s choice of Nunn, of course, would make for great TV. If that wouldn’t trigger a convention rebellion against the presidential nominee, I don’t know what would. I still say McCain should play a bit against type and actually pick a REPUBLICAN.

Theology and Biotechnology

I’m very recently back from a very high-level conference at BYU on a bold, deep, timely, and original forthcoming book in MY ISI Religion and Culture Series--Richard Sherlock’s NATURE’S END: THE THEOLOGICAL MEANING OF THE NEW GENETICS. I’m too lazy to link the amazon page, but you will notice that you can buy the paperback for $10.20 there. That’s probably the best word per buck (and certainly thought per buck) deal among serious books on the web. I spoke on "Stuck with Virtue and Stuck with Technology" and Susan Shell from Boston College spoke on Kant and biotethics. Susan made Kant sound so insightfully EMPIRICAL that I had to work hard not to convert to Kantianism. Meanwhile, various brilliant and articulate Mormon scholars showed me what friendly and spirited discussions about faith seeking understanding should always be like. Thanks to Ralph Hancock for putting this wonderful event together.

Addendum: Here’s the link to Nature’s End.

Don’t Be a Weasel

Instapundit points out that .Yahoo, Ask, and other search engines take notice of Memorial Day on their main pages. Google, however, does not. I guess Google thinks that Memorial Day is less worthy of note than Earth Day, the first day of Spring, Persian New Year, and other such days.

How the culture changes

Well, that was quick.

A friend of mine who teaches pre-school and the early grades in California informs me that she has already heard young boys and girls turning to each other and saying things like "I could marry you or you or you" and pointing to boys and girls randomly.

Needless to say the curriculum bureaucracy will support the new ideology, and it won’t be long before such things are no longer noteworthy.

Shameless Self-Promotion

Here’s a new review of a book by ME.

Garbage In Garbage Out

Question: If global warming leads sea levels to rise, and if population growth over-taxes our water supply, would building more and better desalinization plants solve both problems at once?

Did Tocqueville Exaggerate the Danger of Soft Despotism?

Mr. Postmodern Conservative reminds people that that’s what I think for now.

Uncommon Sense on Global Warming

As I’ve said before, I disdain from cluttering this august political site with the latest dreariness about global warming (if you’re a glutton for this subject, bookmark NR’s Planet Gore instead.) But sometimes an extraordinarily good article will appear in the most unlikely place. Such is the case with physicist Freeman Dyson’s splendid article in the New York Review of Books. The editors and regular readers of the NYRB must he having a case of the vapors (hopefully not greenhouse gas vapors. . .)

Here’s Dyson’s important conclusion:

All the books that I have seen about the science and economics of global warming, including the two books under review, miss the main point. The main point is religious rather than scientific. There is a worldwide secular religion which we may call environmentalism, holding that we are stewards of the earth, that despoiling the planet with waste products of our luxurious living is a sin, and that the path of righteousness is to live as frugally as possible. The ethics of environmentalism are being taught to children in kindergartens, schools, and colleges all over the world.

Environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion. And the ethics of environmentalism are fundamentally sound. Scientists and economists can agree with Buddhist monks and Christian activists that ruthless destruction of natural habitats is evil and careful preservation of birds and butterflies is good. The worldwide community of environmentalists—most of whom are not scientists—holds the moral high ground, and is guiding human societies toward a hopeful future. Environmentalism, as a religion of hope and respect for nature, is here to stay. This is a religion that we can all share, whether or not we believe that global warming is harmful.

Unfortunately, some members of the environmental movement have also adopted as an article of faith the be-lief that global warming is the greatest threat to the ecology of our planet. That is one reason why the arguments about global warming have become bitter and passionate. Much of the public has come to believe that anyone who is skeptical about the dangers of global warming is an enemy of the environment. The skeptics now have the difficult task of convincing the public that the opposite is true. Many of the skeptics are passionate environmentalists. They are horrified to see the obsession with global warming distracting public attention from what they see as more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet, including problems of nuclear weaponry, environmental degradation, and social injustice. Whether they turn out to be right or wrong, their arguments on these issues deserve to be heard.

Today’s Issues

Here’s an incisive look at the McCain’s VP three. The key argument against Romney: He won’t help Mac connect with the working-class Reagan Democrats. That’s pretty key. The key arguments against Jindal: 1. Taking the nomination might be bad for his career. BUT that would only be the case if he performed poorly as a candidate or is otherwise blamed for the ticket’s defeat. 2. He might show McCain up, as Bentsen showed Dukakis up. BUT it might be more reasonable to say that Mac’s and Bobby’s strengths and weaknesses complement each other.

ISSUE NUMBER TWO... The California court decision, combined with Obama’s semi-embrace of it, point to both a likely crisis in self-government and an unprecedented opportunity for Republicans in this otherwise most unpromising year. As many pundits (including our Carl) have written, the real issue is that those who oppose same-sex marriage will end up facing the same legal regime and social ostracism as those who oppose, say, interracial marriage. But the truth is that the latter opinion really is both groundless and contrary to our basic principles and the former one is based on real natural and religious concerns. There are plenty of Americans who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds, but there are others, such as our Darwinian Larry, who can see that it’s probably a huge error (one which has, admittedly, been unfolding in our country for many decades) to completely detach marriage from biology and make it simply a matter of individual autonomy or rights. It’s at least the case that Americans should be free to disagree on this issue, and that decisions should be made by legislatures, not courts. And legislatures, of course, are particularly good on compromising conflicting moral principles.

It might be that McCain is particularly well situated to make the constitutional case against the judicial activism that’s emerged in MA and CA and might easily spread to the SCOTUS. If Romney or Huckabee were to take the lead, people would say that’s because of their conservative religious views. But Mac conceivably could be particularly credible in separating the constitutional from the religious case. He might make it clear that the issue has nothing, necessarily, to do with believing in a particular faith-based dogma and even less with "gay bashing." Of course, it might also be the case that the issue doesn’t and won’t move Mac at all.

Memorial Day

This is Mac Owens’ offering for Memorial Day. Thank you, Mac.

Negotiating from a Position of Strength

Scott Johnson shows us how Barack Obama’s approach to negotiating with onerous foreign leaders differs both with reason and with Democrat luminary, JFK.