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Saturday, January 21, 2006
This Week's Readings

Here's a hefty set of readings on everything from Judge Alito to Washington pork, from intelligent design to the Utah State Legislature.

Here are some good readings from this week. Note that Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday would have been this week, if he had lived slightly longer than he did. Other major themes include lobbying and related reforms, and the Alito hearing.

Benjamin Franklin

There was a tendency this week towards using Benjamin Franklin as the lead-in to various subjects, but some pieces were just about Franklin..

  • My favorite was by Stacy Schiff. This well-written portrait and tribute is worth the trouble of the free registration required to read it at the New York Times.
  • I have to agree with Seymour Stanton Block about Franklin's greatest invention.
  • A Pittsburgh Tribune-Review editorial briefly defends Franklin from detractors.
  • Pete DuPont is good on Ben Franklin and national security.
  • Neal Lane is good on Franklin and intelligent design . . .

Intelligent Design (while we're on the subject)

That's the problem with both sides in this squabble. They are both functioning as religions, and they should stop it at once.

If both sides would behave like scientists, there wouldn't even be a controversy, because everyone would agree on this statement:

Evolution happens and obviously happened in the natural world, and natural selection plays a role in it. But we do not have adequate theories yet to explain completely how evolution works and worked at the biochemical level.

Lobbying, Pork, and Power Trips

  • Here's George Will on government as trough, a good piece (as usual).
  • Walter Williams and Jonah Goldberg have identified the root problem correctly, I think: There is too much power in Washington. It's largely a Tenth Amendment thing, I think. (Tenth Amendment) -- and note the good line from Friedrich Hayek at the end of the Williams piece.
  • Coming from the left, John B. Judis in The New Republic thinks the real solution to our lobbying and pork problems is publicly funded campaigns. A candidate would choose either public or private funding, and whichever one he or she didn't choose would be off limits. Here's the kicker: If a privately funded candidate "threatens" (whatever that means) threatens to outspend a publicly funded candidate, or if a publicly funded candidate is targeted by ads from an outside issue group, the government would make up the difference.(Accept public or private funding, not both; if privately funded candidate threatens to outspend, or if targeted by outside issue group running ads, then they get more.

Judge Alito and More

  • Here's an excellent essay by Michael Barone on the beautiful people versus the dutiful people, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, as that distinction applies to the Alito nomination and hearing.
  • Writing from Canada, David Warren comments on recent Canadian developments and also the Alito hearings, in discussing the "decency deficit."
  • A New York Sun editorial talks about what the Democrats are really afraid of, in connection with Judge Alito.
  • Here the editors of The New Republic labor mightily to explain why they oppose Judge Alito's nomination on rule-of-law grounds, of all things! It's just that the law they value most is not the Constitution or statutes passed by Congress -- it's previous legislation by the Court!
  • Thomas Sowell is not the first or last to note a real risk posed by the current style of confirmation hearings, but he's certainly worth reading.

American Fork and Utah Items

I was hoping for a piece on another specific item, but the American Fork Citizen hasn't put Thursday's issue on the Web yet. Meanwhile, here are:

  • Daily Herald and Salt Lake Tribune articles on the moving of two historic cabins. Good news.
  • Here at Utah Senator Michael Waddoups' blog is his promise to try again what the Legislature tried last year. He says, "We prohibit smoking in restaurants, stores, bowling alleys and businesses, but exempt private clubs, taverns, guest rooms at hotels and motels as well as fraternal and religious organizations." That sounds fair, right? But not to him. Apparently, anyone in Utah should have the right to go to any club, tavern, etc., including any other person's hotel room, without being inconvenienced by anyone else's choices. What's next, a ban on body odor -- or possibly Hostess Twinkies -- in the privacy of one's home? The Legislature should let the market take care of this one. If there's a demand for nonsmoking clubs and taverns, the market will meet it, just as the market has met the demand for nonsmoking hotel rooms. Gee, Mr. Waddoups, is it okay with you if I listen to music you don't like in the privacy of my own car or home? Don't worry, I don't have to invite you. (Gentle reader, if you wonder if I smoke or frequent night clubs, see my brief piece on this subject last year.)

Choosing a New House Majority (Republican) Leader

There's an interesting contest underway for House Majority Leader (Tom Delay's replacement). The outcome could have a lot to do with whether the Republicans in Congress have any credibility left at all with the voters, come November's election. The conservative in the race is the one to watch. He's coming from behind, running against two good old boys who are desperately trying to look like they're not part of the pork culture. His name is John Shadegg (R-Arizona).


  • Here's George Will on Wal-Mart being mugged by the Maryland legislature.
  • Jay Cost reasons that Secretary of State Condi Rice is not running for president in 2008 -- because she's Secretary of State. It's not because she said she's not running; that sort of honesty would be eerie in Washington politics.
  • Here's a long profile by Jodi Enda of freshman Illinois Senator Barack Obama. (I've blogged about Obama's potential before.)
  • Brendan Miniter discusses the Republican search for a new Reagan.
  • Robert Samuelson's piece on historical statistics is a lot more fun than the topic sounds.
  • Jack Kelly takes issue with Congressional tampering with the people's right to know.
  • Now that Mr. bin Laden has weighed in again, to put the most ominous possible spin on the fact that we haven't seen much from his organization lately, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross discusses him and his latest attempt to master Democratic National Committee talking points.
  • Peggy Noonan's worth reading on any topic. Here the topics happen to be the decline of the media monopoly and the future of the Republican Party.
  • Suzanne Fields has some thoughts that will not cheer you about Iran. Somehow, a tiger and a supper dish fit in.
  • Official, bipartisan spinelessness with respect the southern US border is hardly news in itself, but when it involves incursions by the Mexican military? Read Tony Blankley.
  • Here's an interesting piece on Russia by Amity Shlaes, in case you're tracking the world's largest former superpower.
  • Debra Saunders follows a beaten logical path from same-sex marriage to legalizing polygamy.
  • John Fund discusses school choice's real-life successes and political woes in Wisconsin.
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