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Saturday, July 1, 2006
This Week's Excellent Readings

My favorite among favorites is a superb Barack Obama speech. It's as close to must-read as we'll get, I think.


I'm a conservative and a registered Republican, and I don't share many of Senator Barack Obama's political positions. But this week's number one favorite is a magnificent speech he gave in Washington, DC, on Wednesday. If he spoke for the entire Democratic Party, which he obviously does not, at least not yet, the Republicans would be hard-pressed even to compete -- and far better for the effort. But the greatness of this speech is not competitive politics. It is in his account of the place of faith in our politics. (Words matter, and if the voters start hearing Obama's words, he will quickly emerge as the favorite to win both the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination and the presidential election itself.) Here is one of the very intelligent things he said:

Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God's will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

A clear but distant second: Victor Davis Hanson uses a day at the lake to illustrate why America still works.

Diana West writes of civilization making war on the uncivilized.

Phil Windley writes for ZDNet on his first experience with touch-screen voting systems (in Utah, in this case). He notes, "This is the first time that the voting system has been based on technology that came with an established security industry," and says, "The issue of voting machine security isn't just going to go away -- after all, there are always plenty of new assistant professors that need to get tenure."

Suzanne Fields' farewell to a presidential speech writer intelligently treats the larger topic of faith's intersection with politics.

George Will says the cure is advancing the disease. He's talking about campaign finance reform, and I am thinking metaphorically about dirty needles.

Joe Klein of Time offers some very interesting thoughts on Iraq. (I'm not entirely certain that a lot of what he suggests isn't happening already.)

The War on Islamic Fascism

Mark Steyn walks all over the newest DemSpeak: redeployment. He has some interesting thoughts on a future that Democrats either will not or cannot consider, despite their desire to turn the US into "Lesser France." Here's a sample.

The greater likelihood is of a world with no superpower at all in which unipolar geopolitics gives way to nonpolar geopolitics, a world without order in which pipsqueak thug states that can't feed their own people globalize their pathologies.

Peter Beinart contrasts George W. Bush's and Tony Blair's world views, in a view from the left. Note along the way how some convenient but very disputable commonplaces, such as that the war in Iraq is a huge, obvious mistake, can simply be cited now as fact, despite debate.

Tony Blankley calls the overwhelming Democratic urge not to win in Iraq "a disqualifying instinct for an American political party."

Shooting Holes in the Boat, or All the Leaks It Can Find to Print

Jonah Goldberg observes that, in contrast to the Big Media Acronyms, "The wiretapping expose was greeted with a yawn by most Americans, who assumed the government was doing this sort of thing. Indeed, when the NSA program was exposed and President Bush was painted by a hysterical media as a threat to civil liberties, his approval ratings went up."

Accordingly, Paul Greenberg doesn't feel threatened by the government's tracking financial transfers; quite the opposite.

Michelle Malkin reviews the New York Times' resume in the matter of tipping off terrorists.

Rich Lowry decries the New York Times' stance that no government secret deserves to be kept secret.

So does Paul Greenberg.

Prosecute the New York Times, says Jack Kelly -- for reasons that are good and sound, and one that is cynical.

Wesley Pruden says we should go after the leakers instead.

And just when you think there is nothing left in the topic to inspire humor or sarcasm (humor's handy substitute), along come James Lileks and Michael Graham.

What does it mean that America's most-trusted institution is the military, and the Big Media Acronyms finish almost last in that race? Jeff Jacoby comments.

Max Boot paints a bleak picture of Iraq.

Anyone who could see through the partisan fog already knew this, but Kevin McCullough reiterates the fact that we did find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- more than a few -- and adds some new details.

Jeff Jacoby recommends a novel, set in what I hope is an alternate future, in which Islam has taken over America itself.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., predicts the future view of Congress' present actions.

Other International Topics

Walter Williams says, "The idea that foreign aid is a route out of poverty and political instability is not only bankrupted but a cruel and evil hoax as well."

US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton is fun and gratifying to watch. Here Tom Bevan of RealClearPolitics reports on a recent interview.

Jonathan Steele explains in The Guardian how and why a recent speech by Vice President Cheney may mark a renewed, negative Washington attitude towards Russia.

The Culture

Suzanne Fields muses on privacy, manners, cell phones, and assorted new names for not growing up,

George Will uses Gone with the Wind to illustrate how much our culture has changed in a few decades.

Jon Gordon writes for Forbes about the importance and advantage of motivated employees.

Are our children supposed to make us happy? Betsy Hart thinks the question is a symptom.

I've always thought I could never have been a girl, and I'm still right, if Celia Rivenbark's account of sleepovers is a good barometer.

Kathleen Parker's account of the shifting sands of Protestant doctrine is not for the theologically weak-stomached -- but since that's not you, feel free to read it. Be warned: If you consider only the form, it will sound like blasphemy. If you consider the substance . . . how else could she do it?

Here's a delightful Doonesbury rerun on evolution and intelligent design, of all things.

National Politics

Tom Purcell discusses the wit and wisdom of Will Rogers and its modern applications. "If stupidity got us into this mess [pick your mess, really], then why can't it get us out?" Indeed.

Liberals are still trying to figure out why they're not in power at the moment. Jonathan Chait's current contribution is interesting, at least.

Michael Barone wonders why they hate us -- not the Islamofascists, but the New York Times.

Dick Morris has an interesting thought for Senator Joe Lieberman, who is likely to lose in a primary contest with an anti-war candidate in Connecticut. I wonder if there are any lessons here for Utah's unnaturally polarized means of selecting a party's candidates.

Ben Smith of The New Republic analyzes New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's prospects as a third-party presidential candidate.

With a name like "Voting Rights Act," it must be a good thing, right? Mona Charen comments.

Jonah Goldberg explains the bipartisan triumph of progressivism. Here's an excerpt which illustrates an unfortunate choice between pretty bad and considerably worse:

Progressivism is not merely the faux populism of the Internet. Nor is it solely the label for whatever policies self-described Progressives prefer. It is a faith - often grounded in Christianity, but not necessarily so - in the redemptive power and professional competence of the state. And, frankly, I despise it.


. . . Much of intellectual conservatism has bought into the logic of progressivism. The war on terror has hastened the classically Progressive yearning for security. The arguments between the political parties for the foreseeable future will not be between champions of state intervention and champions of laissez-faire. They'll be between those who want the state to do "liberal" things, on race and the environment, for example, and those who want it to do "conservative" things, such as faith-based initiatives and national education standards. Forced to choose, I'll take the latter. But I won't like it.

George Will writes in Newsweek of the riveting Connecticut primary contest involving Senator Joseph Lieberman.

Writing at RealClearPolitics, Ryan Sager describes the "Wal-Mart voters" and their implications.

Pardon the expression, but are the Republican elites in bed with the Democratic elites? Paul Campos makes an interesting case.

Electronic Voting Machines in Utah

(See also "Favorites" above.)

This Alan Choate story in the Daily Herald assesses Utah County's first experience with touch-screen voting machines.

Josh Lofton of the Deseret Morning News discusses electronic voting machines and another new development, early voting.

Here's a USA Today article by Andrea Stone about software vulnerabilities in voting machines. (News flash: No software is perfect! Somebody alert Microsoft!)

Gotta love those poll workers -- seriously! Three writers praise Utah's poll workers in this Salt Lake Tribune opinion piece.

It makes sense to audit the results after the fact. The Deseret Morning News' Josh Loftin reports on plans to do that in Utah. (IMO, saying that a certain report identifies the new machines as "extremely vulnerable" seems like a serious overstatement.)

American Fork and Thereabouts

More on that American Fork/Utah Lake resort idea, from the Salt Lake Tribune and the Daily Herald.

The Deseret Morning News lists some of the upcoming American Fork Steel Days activities. Note: Friday's attraction is really the American Fork Symphony, not the Utah Symphony. Would that it were . . .

This just in (not!): The sewage treatment plant stinks. Cathy Allred reports.


Dave Barry has some thoughts about electric bills and the utilities that expect us to pay them, pile-based organization, and other familiar topics.

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