Saturday, November 11, 2006
The Week's Excellent Readings
This week's list is very heavy on election-related discussion, starting with a fine essay by Peggy Noonan and including some selections from before the election, a couple of gems about Election Day itself, and a lot of analysis of the results. After all that is a small selection of good stuff on other topics.
Favorites: Peggy Noonan on the Election
I'm not sure I agree with every detail and nuance of Peggy Noonan's essay, but I wish I could say it as she does. For me it's the best read of the week.
Favorites: Before the Election
Michael Kinsley is as reliable a leftist as there is in our media. For example, he still believes that George W. Bush stole the 2000 election and that the US Supreme Court's decision overturning the Florida Supreme Court's violations of Florida law (which would have created a sort of Democratic voter fraud free-for-all) was the worst Supreme Court decision ever. At least you know what he's thinking. In this article, he essentially says, we should vote democratic first, before reading Speaker Pelosi's plan for the future, because it's that bad. Here are his first and last paragraphs:
What will a Democratic House of Representatives be like? The Republicans have been painting a portrait of Democrats roasting children on a spit in the Capitol Rotunda. Hoping for a more encouraging view, I picked up A New Direction for America - a 31-page manifesto released by House Democrats in June. All I can say is, thank goodness I voted beforehand.
Maybe A New Direction is just a campaign document. My fear is that the House Democrats may try to use it as a basis for governing.
Orson Scott Card nails it. The war, that is, and the war before that, and the election, and their implications.
There is only one issue in this election that will matter five or ten years from now, and that's the War on Terror. . . .
If control of the House passes into Democratic hands, there are enough withdraw-on-a-timetable Democrats in positions of prominence that it will not only seem to be a victory for our enemies, it will be one. . . .
I say this as a Democrat, for whom the Republican domination of government threatens many values that I hold to be important to America's role as a light among nations.
But there are no values that matter to me that will not be gravely endangered if we lose this war. And since the Democratic Party seems hellbent on losing it -- and in the most damaging possible way -- I have no choice but to advocate that my party be kept from getting its hands on the reins of national power, until it proves itself once again to be capable of recognizing our core national interests instead of its own temporary partisan advantages. . . .
[Later, referring to our past failure to support rebellions we encouraged . . .]
That is part of our track record: Two times we persuaded people to commit themselves to action against oppressive enemies, only to abandon them. Do you think that would-be rebels in Iran and Syria and North Korea don't remember those lessons?
Conning the Voter, Part I (writ small): Paul Jacob writes of Proposition R, which he calls "the sleaziest ballot measure in America." This is why we have to keep an eye on government. See the next section to find out if it passed.
Conning the Voter, Part II (writ large): Kevin McCullough gives no quarter in this article about liberals' need to fool people all the time, as illustrated by the furor when John Kerry recently spoke his mind.
Robert Novak analyzes President Bush's recent campaign efforts.
Debra Saunders offers a political profile of probable future Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Bill Clinton gets one right, and Jack Kelly defends Pennsylvania Rick Santorum (which, in my case, is preaching to the choir).
Thomas Sowell talks about media filters and spinners and their role in the election.
And here Thomas Sowell has some cutting insights about the game of politics and its major American players. Here are some scattered excerpts:
Even some Republicans have said privately that the Democrats have the edge in playing the game of politics. Given the greater political shrewdness of the Democrats and the overwhelming bias of the media in their favor, it is remarkable that Republicans have had any political success at all.
That the Republicans are still a viable party is one measure of how far the Democrats' policies and values differ from those of most Americans. . . .
Facts are the only real antidote to a seductive vision. But facts do not "speak for themselves." Somebody has to articulate those facts and explain their implications. The liberal media will certainly not do it and too often the Republicans do it badly or not at all. . . .
Getting people to vote for moderates, in order to put extremists in power, may be the newest and biggest voter fraud.
Michelle Malkin explains "pre-emptive delegitimization" -- that is, the Democrats setting us all up in advance for their "we win or you cheated" strategy. (I don't know whether it's good or bad that they didn't need it, after all.)
Admittedly, Rudy Giuliani sounds like a man who is running for president. But in the process he makes a good case for voting Republican.
Dick Morris foretells a "bloody Tuesday" for the Republicans. (As it happens, he was right.) Be sure to note the last paragraph, probably the best summary of a Democratic majority's agenda:
The Democrats will use their majorities to conduct a two-year campaign for the presidency. Most likely, it will work.
Favorites: Election Day
Paul Greenberg is at his poetic best in this homage to Election Day, the calm between storms.
Kathleen Parker exults that the system still works, no matter the results this week.
On Election Day, no one had to step over a pool of blood to get to the polls; no one had to risk a sniper's bullet or an improvised explosive device to cast a ballot. And no one had to worry that sore losers might drag "traitors" from their cars for preferring a different approach to governance. . . .
However our enemies may interpret the outcome of the midterm elections -- or how much they may cheer Rumsfeld's departure -- they must have noticed that we manage to sort our differences without killing each other.
We fight with words and ideas rather than bullets and bombs.
Favorites: After the Election
I put this one first in this section so you know it's here and can come back to it when you need it. When you're tired of all the serious analysis, check out James Lileks: same topics, much more fun.
Dick Armey explains how the Republicans lost and how they could win again in the future.
Eventually, the policy innovators and the "Spirit of '94" were largely replaced by political bureaucrats driven by a narrow vision. Their question became: How do we hold onto political power? The aberrant behavior and scandals that ended up defining the Republican majority in 2006 were a direct consequence of this shift in choice criteria from policy to political power.
Personal responsibility in public life follows naturally if your goal is good public policy.
Charles Krauthammer notes that this is probably not a realignment in American politics, and he has an interesting observation about both parties:
This is not realignment. As has been the case for decades, American politics continues to be fought between the 40-yard lines. The Europeans fight goal line to goal line, from socialist left to the ultranationalist right. On the American political spectrum, these extremes are negligible. American elections are fought on much narrower ideological grounds. In this election, the Democrats carried the ball from their own 45-yard line to the Republican 45-yard line.
The fact that the Democrats crossed midfield does not make this election a great anti-conservative swing. Republican losses included a massacre of moderate Republicans in the Northeast and Midwest. And Democratic gains included the addition of many conservative Democrats, brilliantly recruited by Rep. Rahm Emanuel with classic Clintonian triangulation. Hence Heath Shuler of North Carolina, anti-abortion, pro-gun, anti-tax -- and now a Democratic congressman.
The result is that both parties have moved to the right. The Republicans have shed the last vestiges of their centrist past, the Rockefeller Republican. And the Democrats have widened their tent to bring in a new crop of blue-dog conservatives.
Jonah Goldberg assesses the finger-pointing (current and potential):
Now, let's get back to the important business of pointing fingers and assigning blame. Conservatives have been sharpening their bayonets for months, waiting to inaugurate the first great intramural bloodletting of the new millennium. Libertarian types think the fault lies in too much social conservatism. Social conservatives see too much worldliness. Both see too much compromise, while moderates, squishes and other RINOs (Republicans in name only) see too little compromise. Realists and isolationists see too much war. Neoconservatives and other hawks see, if not too little war, certainly too little commitment to do everything it takes to win the ones we're in.
Of all these arguments, the only two you are likely to hear ad nauseam are: too much social conservatism and too much war.
Republicans lost because they behaved like self-indulgent politicians, not purists. Conservatives care a lot about ideas, so that's where we'll try to assign blame. But the ideologues aren't to blame. The Republicans are.
I didn't have an opportunity to listen to Rush Limbaugh's response on the day after the election, but I heard rumors. He's feeling liberated. Conservatism didn't lose; good ol' boy Republicanism lost. And so forth. Here's a substantial excerpt, both text and audio. I recommend the audio.
George Will explains that, for the Republican Party, conservatism was not the question the voters answered this week -- but it is the answer for 2008.
Mona Charen says the election turned on political corruption, not Iraq.
This year, Republicans had many reasons to be lukewarm about their representatives. Spending has been obscene. Earmarks are a disgrace. The reforming zeal the class of '94 arrived with has long since melted into complacency. Some conservative voters may have chosen to sit this one out. But the overriding reason for the Democrats' sweep -- just as it was for the Republicans 12 years ago -- was corruption.
Dick Morris says:
The Democrats seem to have taken over the House. That means that, regardless how the cliff-hanger races in the Senate turn out, the key question is whether the Republican leaders will shed their arrogance and understand that they need to listen to the American people. . . .
It was, ultimately, [GOP leaders' in Congress] failure to produce when they held the White House and both houses of Congress that led to Tuesday's losses. Had they passed Social Security reform, immigration reform and tougher measures for homeland security, they might have survived Iraq.
Instead, they squandered their lead through an orgy of self-indulgence and narcissism. . . .
It is cruel that it is the House leadership that is unhorsed by the election. The House passed all the legislation it had to enact. It was the Senate that failed.
Fred Barnes offers a useful nationwide survey of election highlights. Here are some noteworthy insights from near the beginning and near the end:
This one is pretty easy to explain. Republicans lost the House and probably the Senate because of Iraq, corruption, and a record of taking up big issues and then doing nothing on them. Of these, the war was by far the biggest factor.
Republicans cast themselves as the party of reform, but they didn't reform anything. And heaven knows, the public is eager for a lot to be reformed, starting with Congress itself and moving on to taxes and entitlements.
But you have to give Rahm Emanuel, the House Democratic campaign chief, credit for recruiting an impressive group of candidates, including a few non-liberals like Brad Ellsworth in Indiana and Heath Shuler in North Carolina. The media, however, is exaggerating the number of these unconventional Democrats. They are a handful, and the pattern of moderate and conservative Democrats when they get to Washington is to pipe down. Or, as losing Republican Congressman Chris Chocola said of his victorious opponent Joe Donnelly, they become "Nancy Pelosi."
In a fascinating analysis, Rusty Shackleford says Jon Stewart and his Daily Show tilted the election. (He also says we should never let facts get in the way or
John Podhoretz says the Bush presidency is over. See what he means, and what he doesn't.
Terence P. Jeffrey lists Democratic candidates who won by running to the right of Republicans.
Marvin Olasky talks mostly about poverty here, but also about why voters didn't stay with the Republicans.
If the mechanics of analyzing election returns and exit polls interests you, you'll appreciate Michael Barone's wee hours analysis, after seven hours at the news desk at Fox News.
Michael Medved draws seven lessons from the election. I particularly recommend lesson number six.
Conning the Voters, Part II: Proposition R passed in Los Angeles. Here's a Los Angeles Downtown News editorial
Donald Lambro foresees a dearth of solutions, and some cures that will be worse than the disease.
This Salt Lake Tribune article reports on the statewide experience with electronic voting.
Hugh Hewitt explains how losing the election was a two-year project for Republicans on Capitol Hill, led by John McCain.
Robert Novak doesn't blame Senator McCain, but he does blame Republican complacency.
It was a failure of concept as well as execution.
That failed concept relied on friendly, familiar Republican incumbents, who had delivered government pork for their district, negating intense voter hostility by using the party's time-tested machinery to get out its vote. These tactics proved useless in the face of a wave that was not so much pro-Democrat as it was anti-Republican.
Tony Blankley describes the inevitable intra-party struggles which will ensue, now that the winners and losers are known.
Jeff Jacoby talks about the black Democrat who just got elected to succeed Mitt Romney as Governor of Massachusetts. He mentions along the way what happened last time a Democrat ran the state.
Janet Shaw Crouse has some numbers on who voted how, and what made the difference.
Rich Lowry's point is:
The culture of corruption was really a culture of looking the other way, delaying action and hoping no one would notice.
The short version of Paul Greenberg's elegant piece is, "The system works." But he's not gloating.
Favorites: Not About the Election
Thomas Sowell says the West has mistaken squeamishness for morality. Here are scattered excerpts:
Two generations of being insulated from the reality of the international jungle, of not having to defend their own survival because they have been living under the protection of the American nuclear umbrella, have allowed too many Europeans to grow soft and indulge themselves in illusions about brutal realities and dangers. . . .
Having overwhelming military force on your side, and letting your enemies know that you have the guts to use it, is being genuinely anti-war. . . .
The famous Roman peace of ancient times did not come from negotiations, cease-fires, or pretty talk. It came from the Roman Empire's crushing defeat and annihilation of Carthage, which served as a warning to anyone else who might have had any bright ideas about messing with Rome. . . .
Not only is patriotism disdained [in the West], the very basis for pride in one's country and culture is systematically undermined in our educational institutions at all levels.
The achievements of western civilization are buried in histories that portray every human sin found here as if they were peculiarities of the west. . . .
How many people have any inkling that it was precisely western civilization which eventually turned against slavery and began stamping it out when non-western societies still saw nothing wrong with it?
How can a generation be expected to fight for the survival of a culture or a civilization that has been trashed in its own institutions, taught to tolerate even the intolerance of other cultures brought into its own midst, and conditioned to regard any instinct to fight for its own survival as being a "cowboy"?
Doug Giles considers the jihad-filled future and finds contemporary American culture unable to deal with it.
Our soft and stupid culture is setting us up to be no match for these Muslim youth who are being wet nursed in Islamic death cults, being fueled with Muslim madness in a land with zero economic opportunity and are feasting feverishly on a steady diet of Anti-American disdain.
Yep, all things being equal, I believe they will eventually clean our kid's clock if we don't get a pro-American, kiss-my-butt attitude back into our warp and woof. These Muslim boys who currently reside across the sea (and some across your street) are not your normal young men.
This is sort of a problem for me. Why? Well, once again, Muslim young men dig jihad, and our youth love hair gel, teeth grills and blue jeans that are 17 sizes too big. Al Qaeda operative Maulana Inyadullah put it succinctly, "[Americans] love Pepsi, and we love death." This is not some moody, PMS phase Islam is currently going through. This is their MO.
Michael Barone says that John Kerry's attitude is stuck in the 1960s and contrary to fact.
National Politics: Even More on the Election
John Fund explains how what a lot of people already knew is finally getting some nationwide investigative attention: "Acorn" is a synonym for voter fraud.
John Ellis takes a very thoughtful look at negative campaigning and its consequences.
Carrie Lukas explains how the ascent of Nancy Pelosi to the House Speaker's chair will not be a picnic for women and families.
Robert Novak says Robert Gates is an unusual choice to succeed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Mike Gallagher is angry that Donald Rumsfeld is leaving, especially after President Bush said last week that he wasn't.
National Politics: Other Topics
Thomas Sowell reminds us about that Duke rape case no one seems to want to prosecute (or dismiss), because it's too useful. Never mind truth or justice, you see. Here's an excellent morsel:
It took centuries to establish the rule of law, at the cost of painful struggles, blood and tears. Nor did the blood and tears end when law was established, for maintaining the rule of law requires fighting those who wish to pervert the law for their own purposes and who will abuse their power to do so.
Victor Davis Hanson attempts to separate facts from myths in arguments about illegal immigration.
Matt Towery sees the hand of an older George Bush behind recent changes at the White House related to the war.
Richard Miniter has some unhappy thoughts about Iraq and some Bush Administration signals of its intentions.
I'll be picking up a copy of Common Sense Economics right away, so I can tell you if it's really as good as Walter Williams says it is. (I'm betting it is.)
Burt Prelutsky wonders about the costs of some the things he's seeing his utility company do, and the impact on his monthly bill. More people should wonder such things.
Suzanne Fields takes John Kerry's recent scandalous candor as a jumping-off point to explore the proposition that going to college doesn't necessarily make you smart.
In the mood for sarcasm? Mike S. Adams delivers. And please note that free speech was already mostly dead on campus before this week's election. (Don't blame future Speaker Pelosi.)
Ian Shoales probes "pretexting" and its implications. Small wonder we don't know who anyone is any more.
Kathleen Parker warns against taking fiction too literally.
According to Jonah Goldberg, religion is making a comeback worldwide (except in Europe -- but what about Islam?). More modernity does not necessarily mean less faith, after all.
I can't say I haven't had thoughts similar to Greg Crosby's when visiting the zoo.
Gene Weingarten's article on the secret of being funny is . . . well, funny.
Neither local nor of general interest: Nathan Jerke reports on a fun contest at Snake River High School near Blackfoot, Idaho, which was not held back when I attended and graduated there.
American Fork and Environs
This Alan Choate article summarized both public response to and Utah County's difficulties with the new electronic voting machines.
The editors of The Daily Herald apparently learned their math in the Alpine School District (100 minus 41.6 equals "more than 60"), but apart from that you might be interested in their take on the election results generally.
Barbara Christiansen summarizes the local election and pays particular attention to American Fork's secondary irrigation bond.
Copyright 2006 by David Rodeback.
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