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Saturday, September 16, 2006
The Week's Excellent Readings

This week is heavy on the war and September 11, as befits the fifth anniversary of the latter, but there's some other great stuff to read, too.

Favorites: Various Topics

Here is a superb Paul Greenberg essay about -- it could be about almost anything and be superb -- about baseball.

Marvin Olasky says compassionate conservatism is definitely not dead, and it's not a euphemism for unrestrained government spending, either. He suggests a major improvement I've pondered for a long time, too.

The Bush administration in 2001 could have chosen a decentralizing strategy based on vouchers for the needy and poverty-fighting tax credits. That would have allowed citizens, rather than officials, to decide which poverty-fighting charities were worth supporting.

Tom Purcell seeks help from a therapist for his addiction to Wal-Mart. (I myself am not addicted. I shop there a lot, but I can quit anytime I want to. Really.)

More seriously, George Will nails the Wal-Mart thing, and suggests that it will come back to bite the Left.

Liberals think their campaign against Wal-Mart is a way of introducing the subject of class into America's political argument, and they are more correct than they understand. Their campaign is liberalism as condescension. It is a philosophic repugnance toward markets because consumer sovereignty results in the masses making messes. Liberals, aghast, see the choices Americans make with their dollars and their ballots, and announce -- yes, announce -- that Americans are sorely in need of more supervision by ... liberals.

James Lileks is both witty and scathing in this look at the effects of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act.

Peggy Noonan doubts the merits of Democrats obsessing on President Bush, and finds them both unlikely and unworthy to win leadership.

Favorites: September 11 and the War Against Islamic Fascists

Charles Krauthammer says military action against Iran is a year or less in the future, and he describes the political, economic, and diplomatic consequences of acting -- or not.

Victor Davis Hanson reviews the evidence, noting in the process what I suppose should be obvious now:

In this war evidence means nothing -- superstition, bias and delusion everything.

Robert Tracinski describes some lessons we've learned since September 11. Here's an essential part of his analysis:

The objection that you commonly hear today is that the war in Iraq had nothing to do with September 11 because Saddam Hussein did not directly support al-Qaeda. But this objection is the sign of a mentality that is not seeking to learn from events or to draw lessons from them. It is a fractured Pragmatist mentality that views each threat to America as a unique and unprecedented event, with no lessons to be drawn from it to apply to other threats.

Kathleen Parker recalls some of the things we've learned about ourselves and our enemies since the plane hit the first tower on September 11.

Suzanne Fields' look at September 11 and the larger war includes these splendid quotations from the past:

Evelyn Waugh on Rudyard Kipling: "Kipling believed civilization to be something laboriously achieved, which was only precariously defended. He wanted to see the defenses fully manned and he hated the liberals because he thought them gullible and feeble, believing in the easy perfectibility of man and ready to abandon the work of centuries for sentimental qualms."

Waugh in 1938: "Barbarism is never finally defeated; given propitious circumstances, men and women who seem quite orderly will commit every conceivable atrocity. The danger does not come merely from habitual hooligans; we are all potential recruits for anarchy. Unremitting effort is needed to keep men living together at peace; there is only a margin of energy left over for experiment however beneficent."

Goethe: "To act is so easy; to think is so hard."

T. S. Eliot in 1922: "Humankind cannot bear very much reality."

9/11 Plus 5

See also "Favorites" above.

Chuck Colson lists things we've learned and things we haven't since September 11.

Leonard Pitts, Jr., writes:

That's the lesson of these last five years, that there is no vacation from history, no finish line you cross where you can raise your arms and lower your guard. Chaos is not the aberration. Respite from chaos is. And being human means molding yourself to that reality, finding a way to live in the spaces chaos leaves.

Kevin Hassett looks at the economic aftermath of September 11, closing an intelligent analysis with this:

Regardless of the damage Bin Laden inflicted on western economies with his heinous attacks, the harm he has done to the standard of living of the Muslims throughout the Middle East is far worse.

If 9/11 had never occurred, we would all be better off, but the biggest economic winners might have been the world's Muslims.

Jed Babbin looks ahead to the tenth anniversary of September 11.

Mona Charen reports on a meeting with President Bush.

Torture is not a happy subject, and Rich Lowry's discussion of interrogation techniques is not a cheerful one. Where would you draw the line?

William Rusher takes up the question, "Is it a war." (Duh. But it's not an ordinary war.) He makes some good points here.

What some conspiracy theorists will believe in is, well, unbelievable. Mary Katherine Ham comments.

Jonah Goldberg looks at the conspiracy theorists and their theories.

Kathryn Jean Lopez says that it will help the Republicans in November if the Democrats actually get what they demanded this week: more television coverage for their statements on the war and national security, not just for the President's.

Michael Goodwin explains how September 11, 2006, was a bad day for the Democratic Party.

Jack Kelly says, among other things:

Better to stick with a president who's made mistakes in fighting the war on terror than to trust Democrats who don't even realize we're at war.

Diana West speaks of things that are black-and-white and things that aren't. She closes with this description of the US mission:

It is to stop the corrosive spread of Islamic law, through violent terrorism and peaceful immigration, into the West.

National Politics

Zzzzinnnngg! I didn't plan to list this Debra J. Saunders column until I read the last lines:

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the Senate Democratic leader, truly is the gift who keeps on giving to the GOP. Or as he told The New York Times this week, "If Republicans want to spend the whole month on nothing that is relevant to the American people, we are happy to do that." You know, I believe him.

Joel Mowbray discusses Keith Ellison, who has since won the Democratic primary in Minnesota and likely will be elected to Congress in November from Minnesota's 5th District. He is a Muslim who keeps some very suspicious company. It should be an interesting race to watch.

There are workhorses in the Senate, and there are show horses. Paul Weyrich describes a workhorse.

Froma Harrop says the Democrats could win on immigration, and she suggests a plan. (Certainly, the Republicans don't seem inclined to win on immigration!)

Robert Novak casts more light on Plamegate, as he is uniquely poised to do.

Alan Sears has pretty much nailed it -- the reason why I derisively call the ACLU the "Anti-Christian Liberals' Union."

Education, Economics, and a Historical Perspective

Debra J. Saunders is skeptical that the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics' new math standards herald more than a cosmetic change. 

This front-page Wall Street Journal story talks about the changes in math standards and the larger debate. Thanks to Oak Norton for pointing it out.

David Strom does a good job explaining oil prices, and suggests we see our politicians as part of the problem, not the solution. Economics 101, he calls it, and that's about right.

How does one explain the 20th Century -- a bloodbath -- and what does it mean for the 21st? This long Niall Ferguson article will intrigue and challenge you, but likely will not cheer you.

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