Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

This is Going to Go on Your "Permanent Record"

Christopher Caldwell raises some thought-provoking and even frightening questions about the role cyberspace can play in building and destroying reputations. It gives a whole new (and real) meaning to the old "permanent record" of lore.

Is Obama a Closet Friedmanite?

The left thinks so, and is very worried about it. Apparently they think Obama breathed the ambient air too deeply at the faculty lounge during his time at the University of Chicago Law School. One can only hope. . .

UPDATE: Maybe we really should be playing this to the paranoia of the left. So I think I’ll start rubbing my hands together and saying, "Ah--it’s all going according to plan!" After all, wasn’t Obama growing up in Indonesia at about the same time the CIA was carrying off coups, etc, in that region? With apologies to Manchuria, he’s the Indonesian Candidate! Rove’s mind-control ray is working to perfection! Memo to Karl: "What are we going to do now that they’re on to us. They weren’t supposed to find out until after the election."

Tim Russert

I just heard that Tim Russert died, probably of a heart attack. He was only 58 years old. I wanted to pay him my respects because his was the only show that I would watch not because of the guests who were to appear, but rather because he was the interlocutor. I always found him thoughtful and interesting, hard in his questions, but kind in his person. I don’t remember him ever saying anything just for the sake of apperaing to seem smart. He seemed the kind of common man who was a natural and unpretentious human being; quietly proud of having made his way, always with gratitude to those who helped and sacrificed on his behalf, especially his father. He loved his father and was grateful to him because he did his duty (and then some), never whined, and didn’t participate in that now common fake introspection that our most visible public citizens favor. Although he was a Democrat, he was of the old fashioned sort, the one who I always felt perfectly comfortable with. He, and they, loved his country not only because it was his own, but because it allowed him to come up to the level of equality that the Harvard types thought was their entitlement. I never got the sense that Russert thought he was entitled to anything, but he appreciated to have the opportunity to do things he loved. He seemed to me to have more smarts and a better character than the rest of his fellow talking heads combined. I will miss him and my good wishes are with his family. R.I.P.

What’s to Like about the South

So I’m sort of the MC for a conference for undergraduates in Boston on liberty and community. One of this morning’s topics: two of the southern essays by Richard Weaver. A weakness of Weaver (a very original and engaging polemicist) was his inability to confront the simple injustice of the segregation. But he does make us reflect on some distinctive strengths of the South as "regime" (in some loose sense); Its emphasis on structure or place, its openness to communal expressions of personal transcendence, and its affirmation of the indispensable guidance of tradition or "the past." Is the strength of the generic North its principled universalism, and is its weakness its impersonality or denial of the singular significance of particular persons? Is both the strength and the weakness of the South its focus on the particular or the personal, even at the expense of the principled pursuit of justice? Everyone knows the South is now the most "livable" part of the country--but maybe that’s because the fine weather, religion, localism, and gentility have been supplemented by integration (justice) and air-conditioning (technology). We’ve engaged in decade analysis and year analysis. Now we move on to REGIONAL ANALYSIS.

The Health of the State

I don’t mean to post so much today, but this item from today’s New York Times shows why government-funded health care can threaten liberty. Nationalizing the costs of health care gives the government a legitimate reason to moniter our diets in particular, and our lifestyles in general.

From Japan:

Summoned by the city of Amagasaki one recent morning, Minoru Nogiri, 45, a flower shop owner, found himself lining up to have his waistline measured. With no visible paunch, he seemed to run little risk of being classified as overweight, or metabo, the preferred word in Japan these days.

But because the new state-prescribed limit for male waistlines is a strict 33.5 inches, he had anxiously measured himself at home a couple of days earlier. “I’m on the border,” he said.

Under a national law that came into effect two months ago, companies and local governments must now measure the waistlines of Japanese people between the ages of 40 and 74 as part of their annual checkups. That represents more than 56 million waistlines, or about 44 percent of the entire population.

Those exceeding government limits — 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women, which are identical to thresholds established in 2005 for Japan by the International Diabetes Federation as an easy guideline for identifying health risks — and having a weight-related ailment will be given dieting guidance if after three months they do not lose weight. If necessary, those people will be steered toward further re-education after six more months. . . .

The ministry also says that curbing widening waistlines will rein in a rapidly aging society’s ballooning health care costs, one of the most serious and politically delicate problems facing Japan today

Obvious question: Is there a Sumo wrestler exemption? Or must they simply slim down by age 40?

How Odd of Dodd

To make the news.

Fun with Franklin

From Poor Richard:

Epitaph on a Scolding Wife by her Husband.

Here my poor Bridgets’s Corps doth lie,

she is at rest, -- and so am I.

Show me the body

Most conservative commentators tend to agree with Justices Scalia and Roberts that the Court majority was inventing law out of whole cloth in yesterday’s ruiling in Boumediene v. Bush, in which the Court struck down the Military Commissions Act (MCA) of 2006. They have much reason on their side. Whether habeas corpus rights ought to apply to non-citizens captured on the field of battle (or to others captured abroad by the military and intelligence agencies) is an interesting question.

Even so, it is worth recalling Richard Epstein’s strictures on the MCA.

Churchill stuff

A couple of book reviews to bring to your attention. First, Marc Falcoff on Arthur Herman’s Ghandi and Churchill, and then more significantly--the best short statement on the subject by far--Steve Hayward reviews two books on Churchill and the Jews in the current Weekly Standard.

Retail sales up

Are we, or are we not, in a recession? I was on a panel the other day with a liberal economist and he explained that we were, for sure. I thought I was persuaded. And yet this today:

retail sales sales jumped by the largest amount in six months. The biggest increase since November. I know nothing. Just passing it along.

Boby Jindal, again

Jonathan Miles writes on Gov. Boby Jindal. The article is not meant to be favorable, in my view, yet it may be, even as itreveals some details about him that I hadn’t known. This guy is hard to dislike. I even like the way he talks about his political opponents. Last paragraph:

If Jindal, whether of his own accord or McCain’s, doesn’t end up on the Republican ticket, maybe this is the matchup to imagine: Bobby Jindal, the brown-skinned son of immigrants, running against another brown-skinned son of an immigrant, Barack Obama, in 2012. Jindal launches into the story of meeting Obama at the State of the Union speech in 2005, when the senator introduced himself to Jindal, then a congressman. “I know who you are,” Jindal replied. Immediately, Obama offered some flattering words. Jindal responded teasingly, “Yeah, but you won’t say that to the TV cameras.” “Yes I would,” the senator said, calling his bluff. “Why don’t you do a campaign commercial for me?” said Jindal, playing along. “He said ‘I’ll do it.’ You just can’t fake that kind of earnestness,” says Bobby Jindal, sounding awfully earnest himself.

Democratic Party Imperfections

Can you not feel how the enthusiasm that has attached itself to the Obama campaign has waned a bit? Maybe even a a good deal. That he is ahead in all the polls is not so much the issue because (given Bush’s unpopularity, the last year of his term, the creaky economy, etc.) the issue is how come he is not ahead by twenty or more points (instead of five or six)? Obama has been making some mistakes, mistakes that go along with his lack of experience, and mistakes due to the fact he is, after all, a Democrat (he therefore also has some baggege to carry). Hillary’s uncivil manner of bowing out of the race hasn’t helped her party or Obama. Obama’s attempt to use the standard Democratic insiders (as in Jim Johnson) to help him select a VP has revealed that he is more of an ordinary politician than the one who walked on water just a few weeks ago. He is certainly no longer the Charisma Machine. And do note that some Democrats are not endorsing him, at least not yet. All this just shows that politics is not bean bag, and Obama may be a mere human, albeit young and inexperienced and lucid, yet, also a not yet fully known person. The hesitation now settles in. In the meantime, McCain has nowhere to go but up.

No Left Turns Mug Drawing Winners for May

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

Lois Nuss

Ron Smith

Joshua Distel

Joseph Downing

Dan Rosenburg

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 June’s drawing.

Classics of Strategy and Diplomacy

Here is a new site that the more serious among you, the happy few, will want to mark and come to with regularity, Classics of Strategy and Diplomacy. While we are pleased to host it, it is the work of strategy guru Patrick J. Garrity, whose work should not surprise. While Pat is a man of many parts, this subject and mode of thinking is his own best. I am betting that this site will be filled with Roman thoughts, and some cold wisdom, as the subject of some of the entries will be men who are "fit for treasons, strategems, and spoils," yet some will love music also. It has great potential for growth and effect.

Here is how he introduces the site:

"Classics of Strategy and Diplomacy is a website designed to encourage the study of those books, memoirs, essays, and speeches that best illuminate the nature of international politics and military affairs. We also explore forgotten, neglected and misunderstood classics; and identify contemporary writings that we expect to have lasting intellectual and political value. We pay particular attention to significant contributions by American writers and statesmen. The Classics website links an informal network of scholars and interested members of the public, under the auspices of the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University."

You should read into it, and as Fluellen says (I paraphrase), because Patrick knows the disciplines of strategy and war, and so will you when you read about William Robertson or Nicholas John Spykman, for example. But also note some of his recent short (blog-like) posts. Good start, Patrick, and thanks much.


When I read this very early this morning I was reminded why I love reading almost everything Camille Paglia writes. Very good with the first coffee. 

Jim Webb as Obama’s VP

The Politico’s gives a few reasons why it is not likely that Sen. Jim Webb will become Obama’s running mate. And yet, this is America, and it is the crazy season, and there is a weird connection between neo-confederates and multiculturalists.

I add, in passing, something I have said many times before: Webb is an impressive guy, a fine writer (but I disagree with him on Iraq and the connection between the Declaration and the Constitution). Obama is more likely to look toward a former senator from Georgia, who has more experience and a lot more authority on defense matters than does Webb, plus no baggage.

Bobo Liberalism

Mikey Kaus has some fun mocking New York Times reporter,Ron Lieber for his desire to be above the herd at Starbucks.

Rewards are nice, but recognition is better. So if I’m one of Starbucks’s best customers, I want to have elite status, as I do on American Airlines. I want shorter lines, better freebies, special seating (Aeron chairs, preferably) and electrical outlets reserved just for me and my laptop.

In addition to Kaus’ comments, it’s worth considering Lieber’s attitude as a reflection of how American Liberalism has changed over the years. Lieber thinks of himself as an individual customer who deserves special treatment, rather than as an equal who should be treated the same.

It might be interesting to see how this tension plays out in the next several years.

New York . . . eeeww York!

One in four New Yorkers has herpes.

Guess they need some more aggressive sex ed. classes there? Yeah . . . that’s the ticket.

2008 and 1980

This comparison--which is really a comparison of Obama and Reagan--is showing up on the web. President Carter was almost as unpopular as President Bush, the economy stunk, and we we’re demoralized by our failure to prevail against a Middle Eastern country beginning with I. But Jimmy’s reelection still looked possible because of the perception that Reagan is just too extreme (just as McCain’s victory looks possible now because Obama seems too extreme [too scary, Wrighty liberal]). Reagan helped himself by seeming like a calm and reasonable guy in the debates, and we have to admit that Barack might well end up being EVEN better at that. Still, the polls showed the 1980 election to be close until Carter’s collapse in the last 10 days. Lots of voters seemed to have concluded: What the heck, let’s go for the CHANGE, anything will be better than... I don’t know what to make of this necessarily imperfect comparison. That’s up to you to discuss. (One obvious difference, of course: McCain is not actually the incumbent held in contempt.)

Thank the Lord!

Here’s a comment a wise man sent me:

From Obama’s closing remarks at his victory speech a week ago today:

"I face this challenge with profound humility and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. . . . I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal. . . . This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation."
He remakes an already great nation, he heals the sick, provides meaning in the lives of people, he beats back the oceans in a manner that would make King Canute green with envy. And he does this in profound humility.

And to think that leftist blacks used to deride Martin Luther King as "De Lawd."


Let’s move from decade analysis--the Sixties--to year analysis--1968. It was surely a violent year. Remember Memphis, Los Angeles, Chicago, Tet, Mexico City, Paris, and Prague. But that the scope and significance of that violence was nothing, of course, compared to 1776, 1789, 1865, 1914 etc. How important is 1968 in the emerging discipline of year analysis? What does the year stand for in our hearts and minds?

The Founding

The Rodney Dangerfield of the Founding

John Adams gets no respect. (Fourth item)
Categories > The Founding

America at its best

The Economist just landed on my desk. Note the striking cover and this lead editorial with the same title. I don’t bring it to your attention because I agree with everything in the piece (you could argue, I suppose, that there ought to be a question mark following best), but because it is (in my view) a pretty good reflection of how the broad world looks at this campaign and the candidates.

Rowling on the Imagination

Free Frank Warner calls our attention to a fine speech the creator of Harry Potter gave at Harvard. We imaginative animals can understand what we haven’t actually experienced, and so we should spend some time each day imagining what our lives would be like without political freedom. Maybe in her literary way she taught those privileged kids some gratitude.

Alexander Hamilton’s "Grange" Relocated

The only home Alexander Hamilton ever owned was moved to a new location in St. Nicholas Park, in Harlem on Saturday. Like Hamilton himself, it seems this house has had a hard time staying in one spot. But it is good to see that this house also has some of his staying power. This is the home’s third location but it was part of Hamilton’s original 32 acre estate (as was its previous, second, location). It seems the National Park Service intends to give the house (and, we hope, Hamilton) some needed and serious attention. If only we could get Congress to do the same . . .