Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Foreign Affairs

Combating Muslim Domestic Terrorism

The Internet lures American Islamic youth to romantic lives of terrorism, and many American Muslims are hard-pressed but determined to combat it.  Such resistance to violent madness is of course obligatory and to be expected as a simple duty; the tougher question is how aggressive American Muslims will be in tracking down the agitators.  As under collegiate honor codes, it is easy enough to avoid cheating but a lot harder to turn in a suspected cheater.

The difficulty here was seen in the Japanese American relocation of World War II.  Pro-Japan militants would beat pro-Americans in the relocation centers.  Finally, a separate facility at Tule Lake had to be established for these domestic supporters of Japan.   Brian Hayashi's Democratizing the Enemy (see p. 127 via google search) has a solid account of the relocation.  As a professional historian, he presents a range of evidence well, thus allowing the reader to come to conclusions in variance with his own, ultimate criticism of the relocation policy. 

Finally, on the related matter of the Christmas airliner terrorism, the NY Times has details on the incendiary device.  See also the NY Post account.   

Categories > Foreign Affairs


Four Horsemen of the Progressive Apocalypse

That's the cover  story of the current deadtree National Review.  The four essays analyze the writer-activists who shaped the left today. Jonah Goldberg, Tiffany Jones Miller, Bradley C.S. Watson, and Fred Siegel profile Richard Ely, John Dewey, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and Herbert Croly.  These well and lesser-known thinkers wrote beginning about a century ago, and in a sense they live today in the mind and policies of not just the left but of much of the right and center as well (consider especially the jurist Holmes).  All have in common the desire to replace the political and moral foundations of American constitutionalism and its rule of law and limited government with an enlightened elite.  The point here is that their theorizing succeeded in practice.  To confront the left we need to understand its roots, and these essays expose them brilliantly.

So far no excerpts at NRO, but pick up the issue at your bookstore/magazine shop, as this issue presents thoughtful journalism at its best. 

Categories > Conservatism

Pop Culture

Armstrong reviews

Two more very positive reviews of Terry Teachout's Pops, by Louis Bayard and Stefan Kanfer (I haven't found a negative one yet).  When he died in 1971, British poet and jazz critic Philip Larkin praised Armstrong as "an artist of Flaubertian purity, and a character of exceptional warmth and goodness."
Categories > Pop Culture


California and the rest of us

Ross Douthat outlines why the argument about what went wrong with California is really an argument about the future of America.  He uses and praises Bill Voegeli's two great essays (in City Journal and The Claremont Review of Books).

Categories > Politics


False Prophets and Lefty Policy

The New Republic is running a list of "a few choice predictions about disaster that never came," which, they say, show that conservative critiques of liberal and/ or progressive policies are always mistaken.

An appropriate response, might be, Megan McArdle's long reflection on unintended consequences. A sample:

[In the 19th century] unwed mothers could not, in most cases, obtain welfare; they were not allowed in public housing (which was supposed to be--and was--a way station for young, struggling families on the way to homeownership, not a permanent abode); they were otherwise discriminated against by social services. The help you could expect from society was a home for wayward girls, in which you would give birth and then put the baby up for adoption. . . .

Now, in the late fifties, a debate began over whether to extend benefits to the unmarried. It was unfair to stigmatise unwed mothers. Why shouldn't they be able to avail themselves of the benefits available to other citizens? The brutal societal prejudice against illegitimacy was old fashioned, bigoted, irrational.

But if you give unmarried mothers money, said the critics, you will get more unmarried mothers.

Ridiculous, said the proponents of the change. Being an unmarried mother is a brutal, thankless task. What kind of idiot would have a baby out of wedlock just because the state was willing to give her paltry welfare benefits?

People do all sorts of idiotic things, said the critics. If you pay for something, you usually get more of it.

C'mon said the activists. That's just silly. I just can't imagine anyone deciding to get pregnant out of wedlock simply because there are welfare benefits available.


Etc., etc., etc.  Just because some predictions have been mistaken, that does not mean they are all mistaken.  I used to expect better from TNR.

Categories > Politics

Literature, Poetry, and Books


Consider this, "The Four Ages of Man," from Yeats:

He with body waged a fight,
But body won; it walks upright.

Then he struggled with the heart;
Innocence and peace depart.

Then he struggled with the mind;
His proud heart he left behind.

Now his wars on God begin;
At stroke of midnight God shall win.

Pop Culture

Another Shot at AVATAR

...this time from Reihan Salam of Forbes.  Bottom line: "The irony of Avatar is that Cameron has made a dazzling, gorgeous indictment of the kind of society that produces James Camerons."

To tell the truth, I'm not sure how long it's been since Cameron has made a film that I had any interest in seeing.  I can still taste the vomit in my throat from Titanic.

Categories > Pop Culture

Political Parties

The Democrats Remain True

A quick response to Peter's post below:  The Democratic Party has always been a sectional party of different guises--Southern pro-slavery, post-reconstruction, New Deal coalition, and Great Society.  Pundits who accuse the Republicans of growing from Southern racist votes need to keep their eyes on the ball:  particular interests.  The New Deal-Great Society coalitions were cobbled together to serve the needs of their disparate, factious partners, through an emerging administrative state.  Obamacare with its messy procedure and laughable compromises simply highlights the Democratic Party approach to legislation.  You can denounce it as "Chicago politics" or socialism, but of course the senators are simply out to get what they can for their constituencies.  For the place of principle here, note the party's intellect, Obama himself.  One should reread Charles Kesler's study of Obama to see what might be coming in the New Year.

Republican leader McConnell may have played the best hand he could:  of course with 60 votes something would pass.  The point was to make the result so vile that the House might reject the compromised Senate bill.  Surely a conference would destroy the compromises. 

Are the Republicans any more principled, less sectional or factious?  That's the subject of something longer than a blog post.

Categories > Political Parties


Obama's recent accomplishments

This is George Will at his best.  He combines a few paragraphs on the indiscernible accomplishment of Copenhagen (which Obama, in his attempt at "self celebration", calls "unprecendented") and a few on the health care bill passing the Senate.  While the latter doesn't solve the problem of the uninsured or the rise in health care spending, but the legislation does, says Will, "solve the Democrats' 'problem' of figuring out how to worsen the dependency culture and the entitlement mentality that grows with it."  His condemnation of Reid and Nelson is a work of art.  I predict that the Nebraska gambit will be followed by an impressive backlash against Democratic candidates nationwide.  And, by way of a preview of the 2010 elections, note this  Washington Post story on four vulnerable Dem Cong seats in Virginia.
Categories > Presidency

Pop Culture

Egalitarianism Run Amok . . .

Earlier today, I was looking over some old files, and I happened upon a bit of nonsense that I took down about a decade ago.  Would you believe that Disney's 1997 Mr. Magoo has this disclaimer at the end?

The preceding film is not intended as an accurate portrayal of blindness or poor eyesight. Blindness or poor eyesight does not imply an impairment of one's ability to be employed in a wide range of jobs, raise a family, perform important civic duties or engage in a well-rounded life.

All people with disabilities deserve a fair chance to live and work without being impeded by prejudice.

Happening on the old file, I wasn't sure if I was reading an actual quote or a satire. I found confirmation elsewhere in the blogosphere.   Apparently, it's real.

Categories > Pop Culture

Blizzard BBQ in DC

Steve Hayward (with help) showing us how to cook a steak in D.C. after a blizzard!  Nicely done, but I hope not too well done! Where is the Stag's Leap Cabernet?  Regards to the family and Merry Christmas!

Will the World Implode? (Update)

A Christian columnist at the NY Times (cleverly disguised as a film review of Avatar and riff on Tocqueville).

For Kate, and others interested:  C-SPAN's Q&A with Ross Douthat.

Shameless Self-Promotion

California Theming

In the unlikely event there are NLT readers still standing who haven't read enough on California's governmental train wreck, my latest essay for the Claremont Review of Books adds to the body of literature on this dismal subject.  The year-end compilation of NLT bloggers on California's troubles includes this National Review article by Steve, and my piece in City Journal.  Police Navidad!


One Last Go At the Copenhagen Collapse

. . . before I return to shoveling snow.  Over at Planet Gore, I explain why I think environmentalists will some day come to rue global warming as the issue that ate their movement alive.  Meanwhile, I'm told I get a lot of air time tonight on the Fox News documentary about climate change that Bret Baier is hosting at 9 pm eastern.  I spent nearly an hour in the interview chair with Bret, so we'll see how it turns out.
Categories > Environment