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Saturday, May 20, 2006
This Week's Excellent Readings

Jennings, Bennett, Prelutksy, Krauthammer, Barone, and Taheri lead the list.


Marianne M. Jennings writes eloquently of her mother's influence.

William Bennett's brief account of the United States' responses to Muslim terror during the Washington, Adams, and Jefferson presidencies sounds rather familiar -- which is, of course, the point.

Burt Prelutsky is having fun here, as usual, but I think he's nailed (a) the irrelevance of the third-party or independent voter and (b) the essential differences between Democrats and Republicans.

Charles Krauthammer's response to President Bush's immigration speech is my favorite so far.

Michael Barone discusses President Bush's "seven freedoms."

Amir Taheri reports on conditions in Iraq. It's not what you're used to seeing on the nightly news. (Someone seems to have sneaked in and stolen some of his punctuation, but life will go on . . .)

Iraq, Terrorism, Soldiers, Movies . . .

Lynn Vincent profiles some National Guard soldiers . . . some of whom are still alive to remember the ones who aren't. (Is there anything in the world like an American soldier? Has there ever been?)

Read Caroline B. Glick's piece and then tell me, if you can, that completely cutting off direct and indirect US aid to the Palestinian Authority isn't long overdue. Maybe we should include Amnesty International in that, too. Read Diana West on the subject, too.

Looking for the origins of the Islamists' bitter fanaticism? Suzanne Fields says we should look to honor.

Stanley Kauffman is insightful but not particularly enthusiastic about Flight 93.

Clifford D. May reports ongoing terrorism in Brazil.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., has a point: There's a war on. Some deny it, of course.

Sensible Intel Is Only Allowed When Democrats Are in Power

Mark Steyn is on a bit of a rant -- but substantive -- about the latest government-has-your-telephone-number pseudoscandal.

Paul Greenberg writes of General Hayden, recently nominated to head the CIA, and of larger issues.

Ronald A. Cass tries to put the NSA's alleged capers in legal and political perspective. Oh, by the way, the unnamed NSA sources that broke the latest pseudo-scandal may have been -- get this -- lying. Verizon, Bell South, and AT&T say so. (What a dilemma! Trust the government or trust telephone companies . . .)

Jack Kelly on recycled old news and a mostly unreported intercept in Iraq.


I'm not sure Mona Charen's approach to immigration is practical; in other words, I'm not sure we're that smart institutionally.

Rich Lowry says the President's plan is to enforce the US southern border with symbolism.

Dick Morris thinks the President's Monday speech was right on.

Linda Chavez is excellent on assimilation.

US Politics

Jonah Goldberg talks about the growing economy and widespread resistance to admitting it -- but on the way to a larger point:

So here's where I hope to find a pony amidst all the manure. The idea that any White House "creates" jobs is absurd and always has been. Alas, there is no machine in the West Wing basement churning out job openings for welders and ophthalmologists. The $12 trillion American economy is too big, too diverse and too complicated for the government to "run." Sure, economic policy matters, but the crude standard often used by politicians, political reporters and Hollywood betrays their belief in the cult of governmental power.

George Will muses on the title of a new book by Joe Klein, Politics Lost: How American Democracy Was Trivialized by People Who Think You're Stupid, and takes at shot or two at the dangerous notion that government should dictate the tone and content of the political campaigns which are trying to elect people to be the government.

Here in Vanity Fair is a long excerpt from a forthcoming Douglas Brinkley book on the Katrina disaster. Don't expect an even-handed evaluation of the major political figures involved -- not for another ten years, y'know? And I can't vouch for the details one way or the other. But it's an interesting picture. (Why do we expect competence from bloated government?)

I'm with Froma Harrop on this one: Seniors should play by the rules.

Jack Kelly does a nice job of describing why a lot of folks outside the Beltway, including your humble blogger, are displeased with the President and even more so with Congress.

Robert Novak offers an instructive account of corporate welfare in jeopardy on Capitol Hill. Chalk up one more good deed for Senator Tom Coburn.

George Will addresses "an aggressively annoying new phrase" in American politics: "values voter." After all, someone has to defend language and reason from political assault, and George Orwell left us long ago.

John H. Fund tells how incumbent heads are rolling even in primary elections.

Lorie Bird's message to unhappy conservatives is essentially this:

Disagree, dissent, march, email, telephone the White House and the Congress, heck, even mail a brick, but it doesn't make sense to completely destroy the man who will be leading the country for two more years, or to destroy the Republican Party unless you are ready to accept the agenda of Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid.

(I agree. Why give up the limited territory won in the last six years, so that it just has to be won again next decade or whenever? This is a tug-of-war, and every inch matters.)

Education and Related Institutions

Ruben Navarrette discusses obstacles to real education reform, including schools which cook the test results books.

Here's a long Kevin Kelly piece on the quest to create a universal library, and the two world views (essentially, Google's and publishers') that are clashing legally in the process.

Common sense might dictate that the NAACP would strongly support school vouchers, but, as Star Parker reports, politics dictates otherwise.

The Culture

Robert Bruegmann offers this long essay in defense of sprawl.

Here's Betsy Hart on LAT, the new acronym for adult selfishness.

If you're watching Big Love out of . . . whatever interest, and if you like words like antinomian and ethos, you might find Lee Siegel's piece in The New Republic insightful. I'm not watching (no HBO), I do like big words, and I did enjoy the piece. Here's most of the last paragraph:

Big Love is both the indictment of a commercialist ethos of gratification and the expression of it. As television grows less and less constrained in its imagination of the antinomian and the weird, you wonder where the emphasis will finally fall, on a new type of popular art or a new type of pandering to the appetites.

Walter Williams Gets His Own Heading This Week

Walter Williams recently received an award from The Foundation for Economic Education, which aims "to study, educate, and advance the first principles of freedom."

Those first principles are: individual liberty, the sanctity of private property, the rule of law, free markets with peaceable, voluntary exchange, and choice and responsibility over government coercion.

President Vaclav Klaus  of the Czech Republic also received the award. Of his speech, Williams reports:

The title of President Klaus' address was "The Threats to Liberty in the 21st Century." Not his words, but the threat to liberty in the 21st century is the same as it has been throughout mankind's history. That threat is use of the coercive powers of government, under the color of law, to take the rightful property of some people and give to others, and the forcible imposition of the will of one group of people on another group. Such acts, most often done in the name of good, explain the ugliest portions of human history.

Williams himself says:

The question is whether America will degenerate into what has been mankind's standard fare throughout history. We have yet to see the kind of arbitrary control, abuse and violation of basic human rights seen elsewhere. But if we ask ourselves which way are we heading, tiny steps at a time: toward more personal liberty or toward greater government control over our lives, the answer would unambiguously be the latter.

So, Apparently, Does Michael Barone

Michael Barone makes his case that we still live in the world of Thatcher and Reagan.

Local Interest

I was a delegate to the Utah County Republican convention but not the state convention, and so can give no firsthand report. Here's a good Salt Lake Tribune piece instead. Incumbents are having a rough ride this year, and deservedly so.

On the Utah State Democratic Convention, see DaltonGirl's inimitable report.

Some months ago the American Fork City Council approved a "planned community" zone to accommodate a proposed new development. The design for that development raked in a Governor's Quality Growth Award this week. Julie Rose reports for KCPW.

Thomas L. Friedman's discussion of the global economy has some other merits, but watch particularly for the effect of broadband on villages in India.

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