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Saturday, April 29, 2006
The Week's Excellent Readings

David Gelernter, Charles R. Kesler, Charles Krauthammer, Mark Joseph, Jonah Goldberg, and Dick Meyer lead the list.


David Gelernter says "No More Vietnams" -- but he doesn't mean what you think he means. This essay is superb.

These critics ought to be told firmly that Iraq is indeed another Vietnam. Once again we are in the middle of cleaning out one of the world's ugliest abscesses, which turns out (again) to be infected and putrefying. . . .

Not many nations get a second chance to show the world and themselves that they are serious after all, that their friends can trust them and their enemies ought to fear them. There is no way we can atone for the blood and death we inflicted (indirectly) on South Vietnam by abandoning it to Communist tyranny. That failure can never be put right. But we can make clear that "No More Vietnams" is a Republican slogan. It means that we will never again go back on our word and betray our friends, our soldiers, and ourselves. . . .

The United States has no tradition of running away. The left had better get this straight: Vietnam was an aberration. There will be no more Vietnams.

Charles R. Kesler looks at the Republican Party's struggles in the aftermath of great success and points to some critical issues. (At least I think they're critical.)

It's a bit of a surprise that Charles Krauthammer edges out Thomas Sowell for a "Favorites" slot here on the subject of gasoline prices, but so be it. Sowell is excellent as usual; he's brilliant at explaining economics to non-specialists. You can catch him below. But Krauthammer, who has his own well-proven gifts, wins this skirmish by showing very clearly how it's not the oil companies who are driving up the price of gasoline so much as it is our own politicians.

According to Mark Joseph, there are hecklers, and then there are hecklers.

It probably won't happen, but Jonah Goldberg wonders, what if the American presence in Iraq were put to an Iraqi vote? (By the way, isn't there a resemblance between Iraq now and West Germany in the 1980s, where people felt free to criticize the American presence because they knew we would stay anyway?)

Dick Meyer's piece on positive and negative liberty might to too philosophical for your taste, but I thought it quite insightful. There's something intrinsically American about resisting when other people think they know what is best for you and feel entitled to do something about it.

Gas Prices (Economics 101, Folks!)

Thomas Sowell explains yet again how supply, demand, and prices work, as he criticizes bipartisan demagoguery on gasoline prices. The following excerpt is not the whole point of the essay, but it is a good point in itself. It's not news, either, but it bears remembering.

Ironically, the people who are making the most noise about the high price of gasoline are the very people who have for years blocked every attempt to increase our own oil supply. They have opposed drilling for oil off the Atlantic coast, off the Pacific coast, or in Alaska. They have prevented the building of any new oil refineries anywhere for decades.

They have fought against the building of hydroelectric dams or nuclear power plants to generate electricity without the use of oil. They love to talk about their own pet "alternative energy sources," without the slightest attention to what these would cost in terms of money, jobs, or our national standard of living.

Even when one of their pet "alternative energy sources" -- windmills -- is proposed to be built near them, suddenly it is not right to spoil their view.

Politicians have indulged these spoiled brats for generations.

Thomas Sowell's sequel on oil prices is as insightful as usual.

Debra Saunders takes a more political view of gasoline prices.

Bill Murchison discusses gasoline prices and the growing supply of hot air.

Rich Lowry has tongue firmly in cheek as he deconstructs the vast oil price conspiracy.

Nick Schulz has an interesting take on rising energy costs and their lack of effect on consumption.

Wesley Pruden on oil, politics, and economics.

Political Miscellany

Stanley Renshon takes aim at the "Bush bubble myth." My favorite phrase is "a mental detour around the need to consider facts" -- but he's not talking about the President just then. You'll have to overlook a few typos in this one.

Richard Samuelson thoughtfully wonders if federalism (states taking their own, different approaches to issues) would heat up the culture war or cool it down.

Here we go again. The Democratic minority in the Senate is blocking judicial nominations again. Robert Novak reports.

Maggie Gallagher isn't playing fair. She's comparing liberal predictions about the effects of the 1996 welfare reform with actual outcomes. It's not sporting to use facts, is it? (I don't necessarily share her enthusiasm for the government meddling with marriage, but I'm definitely pro-fact.)

Adam Reilly pens an interesting and amusing piece on Mitt Romney's Mormonism and his presidential campaign. (Thanks to Swen Swenson for sending me the article.) How about this for a Romney line -- which you'll understand after reading the article: "Polygamy is something real Mormons joke about not, not something we do."

Pete du Pont has a stern prescription for spendthrift Washington Republicans.

Jonah Goldberg notes that radical Islam itself is a form of globalization.

Michael Barone surveys the political landscape of Latin America.

Mark Steyn goes on a gentle rant about the endless and endlessly flexible hubbub about climate change.


Professor Walter Williams discourses briefly on the minimum wage. Whom will you believe? Him or Oprah?

Peter A. Brown offers a quick lesson in Economics 101, a look at human nature, inequality, and so forth.


Jeff Jacoby adds a few more anecdotes to the growing mountain of cases where public school values clash with some families' values. The real issue here may not be the clash, but the public schools' disdain for the parents. (At least here in the Alpine School District, we're fighting over math more than gay marriage, but the official disdain, and one might say arrogance, is the same.)

Lynn Vincent writes a good piece on academic freedom in higher education -- students' academic freedom, for a  change.

Jennifer Roback Morse discusses male/female differences in math and science, the possible use of Title IX to meddle with universities, and the myth of equality.

The Regular Miscellany

Have you ever heard of Bernie Siegan? Paul Jacob remembers a quiet but influential thinker.

George Will remembers Carl Hayden, another influential fellow of whom you may not have heard. The subject is water.

Greg Crosby is enjoyable on the columns he didn't write.

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