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Saturday, July 22, 2006
The Week's Excellent Readings

This week's list has a lot of commentary on the Israeli/Hezbollah/Hamas conflict, but plenty of good stuff on other topics, too.


Tunku Varadarajan recounts an insightful, entertaining recent interview with economists Milton and Rose Friedman.

Dennis Prager explains the Arab-Israeli conflict very clearly and concisely. The article is longer than this excerpt and worth reading, but here is its essence:

The Arab and other Muslim enemies of Israel (for the easily confused, this does not mean every Arab or every Muslim) want Israel destroyed. That is why there is a Middle East conflict. Everything else is commentary.

Paul Greenberg recounts, among other things, how the current conflict came to be regarded not as terrorists vs. Israel, but as Lebanon (et al.) vs. Israel. Also, a thought from The West Wing comes to mind: Perhaps we ought to appreciate the merits of a disproportionate response.

Pardon the pun, but Wesley Pruden speaks very prudently on the matter of presidential vulgarity, its recent application, and the reassurance he takes from it. (Don't read this if you're offended by mention of State Department types "with too much lace in their panties" or various non-vulgar references to mammal excrement.)

Burt Prelutsky's profundity in this article is actually John Stuart Mill's. Here's the last major paragraph:

One fellow who bears quoting, but don't count on people like Murtha or Kerry or Dean to do it anytime soon, is John Stuart Mill, the English philosopher and economist, who observed: "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse." For good measure, he added: "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance at being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

Happily, the camps my children attend in the summer don't resemble the one Tom Purcell conjures -- even if the public schools they attend during the rest of the year almost . . . do.

Gene Weingarten is in fine comic form in this installment (it's a series?) of "What If?"

Today we present another in the highly popular series of "What If?" columns, in which we explore alternative realities to reach universal truths about the human condition in as immature a fashion as possible.

Israel vs. Arabs

See also "Favorites" above.

Charles Krauthammer sees the present conflict as a "golden, unprecedented opportunity."

Jack Kelly explains why the current conflict needs to involve Israeli troops on the ground sometime soon.

Thomas Sowell looks at the conflict in terms of the words we use to describe it, such as "cycle of violence," which he finds misleading and inaccurate. Here is an excerpt:

Those who keep calling for an end to the "cycle of violence" are what make such violence more likely. "World opinion" in general and the United Nations in particular can always be counted on to counsel "restraint" in response to attacks and "negotiations" in response to lethal threats.

What that means is that those who start trouble will have a lower price to pay than if those they attacked were free to go all out in their counter-attack. Lowering the price to be paid by aggressors virtually guarantees more aggression.

Michael B. Oren explains in The New Republic why Israel should attack Syria, citing the 1967 Six Day War and its prelude as a comparable and instructive bit of history.

Jeff Jacoby points to Iran as the real culprit in the current Middle East conflict.

Rebecca Hagelin concurs -- "Hezbollah is a subcontractor of Iran" -- and analyzes Iran's motives. (Rockets are involved, to be sure, but it's not rocket science.) Her article also has links to a wealth of additional information.

According to Michelle Malkin, Hezbollah has sleeper cells in the United States. As if al-Qaeda weren't enough . . .

Of course, as Linda Chavez notes, the US and Hezbollah go 'way back, to a time before al-Qaeda.

What shall we call the war? James Lileks considers the possibilities, with a little help from Howard Dean, who is just being Howard Dean on this subject, too.

Mike Gallagher describes spoiled American brats who don't think the government is evacuating them from Beirut fast enough.

Paul Greenberg's commentary here is not fun to read, but is insightful.

Mona Charen marvels at calls for Middle East cease fire.

If you're feeling genuinely philosophical, you might enjoy Michael Walzer's attempt to measure the current Middle East conflict against "just war theory."

National Politics

Writing in The New Republic, Jonathan Chait tries to revive with scattered anecdotes the never-quite-dead, tiresome argument that "President Bush is too dumb to be president." (Smart people are all liberals, right? Not!)

The left needs more Liebermans, not less -- or so I would gather from Jack Kelly's description of the stakes in a Connecticut senatorial primary. Long live "the sin of civility"!

To the Kossacks [hard-left bloggers], Sen. Lieberman compounds the sin of hawkishness with the sin of civility. Though he opposes President Bush on virtually every issue except the war, he doesn't hate Mr. Bush, and does search for grounds for compromise.

Donald Lambro delivers the economic good news, of which this paragraph is a summary:

The government reports that tax revenues are significantly higher than anticipated, cutting the budget deficit much more deeply than was forecast. Unemployment has fallen to a low 4.6 percent after 34 consecutive months of continued job growth. The economy was growing at a blistering 5.6 percent rate in the first quarter, and the U.S. Treasury reports that total worker compensation (including wages and benefits) grew by 7.4 after inflation during the current expansion.

Jonah Goldberg writes of the liberals' unifying idea ("We hate Bush"), the dearth of big ideas on the left, the supposed sins of Joe Lieberman, and the supreme importance (to the left) of caring.

Okay, next strategy: Distort Reagan's presidency so we (as in they) can use it to bash Bush's. Fred Barnes explodes the new myths.

Herman Cain connects the dots between Social Security and illegal immigration.

Matt Towery has an interesting take on which Republicans are losing in primaries and why, and a suggest for Congress: Do something!

What does it mean when Senator Hillary Clinton starts agreeing with Mr. Newt? She's running for president, of course. Tom Bevan comments.

If you're watching Connecticut's Senate race, you'll want to read Jason Zengerle on Joe Lieberman.


Thomas Sowell's piece may not appear to be about education, but it is. It would be under "Favorites" above if that category were not already too crowded.

Morton Kondracke explains some optimism that reason may eventually prevail in the public schools.

Is it possible that Burt Prelutsky's commentary on conspiracy theorists is about education, too? (Perhaps, if one lacks real knowledge, one will invent or believe almost anything in its place?) Maybe it's a stretch, but that's where I'm putting it.

Men, women, college, slackers, fireballs, video games, lowered expectations . . . You figure it out. Maybe Betsy Hart can help.


See also "Favorites" above.

Is it "smart growth"? Thomas Sowell wonders.

No, we're not running out of oil. Walter Williams explains . . . again.

These Might Be About the Culture

Suzanne Fields tells of a fellow named Terry Lundgren, who wants to revive the downtown department store, and she remembers why that might be a desirable and attractive thing.

Greg Crosby mourns the mediocritization of the Ritz.

American Fork and Thereabouts

Barbara Christiansen writes about an upcoming tax increase in American Fork and related hearings.

It is pretty obvious, wasn't it, that American Fork isn't shrinking? Matt Canham reports briefly on a political battle over statistics.

Caleb Warnock reports on a long-overdue good idea that might finally be happening: a county-wide, or at least nort-county-wide library system.

A Salt Lake Tribune report says that home prices in American Fork have jumped 51 percent in a year. Here's the data for several Wasatch Front counties; here's the article. Wow.

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