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Saturday, September 30, 2006
The Week's Excellent Readings

From Chinese novels and Airbus woes to congressional elections and developments on American Fork's border, you can read about it here -- if I liked it or thought it important, that is.


It was emigrants and Soviet writers who wrote for the drawer (not for official publication) who told the story of the Soviet Union. The same phenomenon repeats itself in China. Emily Parker tells of a Chinese writer, Ha Jin. Parker gives a view of China itself and of the role of literature in a society.

Thomas Sowell speaks pointedly of double standards masking as morality, and other troubling signs of the times.

Did you realize that resisting political correctness is fighting for the good guys in the war against Islamic fascists? Diana West's intelligent article about the chip on radical Islam's shoulder includes this well-phrased insight from Daniel Pipes:

The Muslim uproar has a goal -- to prohibit criticism of Islam by Christians and thereby impose Shariah norms in the West. Should Westerners accept this central tenet of Islamic law, others will surely follow. Retaining free speech about Islam, therefore, represents a critical defense against the imposition of an Islamic order.

This George Will commentary is a favorite because it clearly illustrates a frequent phenomenon: Groups supposedly advocating a particular principle will fight that principle tooth and nail if their political and economic power is threatened. The site for this battle is Michigan, and the subject is mostly racial preferences.

The US high school dropout rate is a serious and increasing problem. Ruben Navarrette explains.

Rich Tucker's account of tolerance and intolerance, mostly in a Muslim context, has some good thought in it. It also has a little detail that might make you wonder if Europe might be a good deal more messed up than you thought. The key phrase is "thought crimes."


Jack Kelly describes a recent government report where the conclusions reported are not what the data reported indicate, but are skewed for political purposes. (Anyone who's surprised, stand on your head . . .)

Burt Prelutsky debates who's at fault with a Muslim who objected to a recent column, and who in the process sounds a lot like a Democrat.

Christopher Hitchens explains how safety -- siren song notwithstanding -- is only a second-order goal, not something we pursue direction (assuming we're rational).

Michael Ledeen notes that religion, once deemed irrelevant by the beautiful people -- more than once, to be sure -- now dominates public discussion, and our politically correct talking heads are unprepared to deal with it.

I can't vouch for the truth of Patrick Hurley's rumor, but he certainly has fun with it.

Jack Kelly speaks of "intel weenies" (not my phrase or his) who selectively leak intelligence for partisan political purposes.

Uh-oh. Pakistan just formally surrendered part of itself to al-Qaida and the Taliban. Tony Blankley reports.

The Nation

Jed Babbin catalogs October surprises and reasonably foresees more. Here's a salient point:

People who can't be buffaloed by the media into stampeding to the left can be convinced to step to the right, away from the media they distrust. You only need the courage to ask. Republicans don't have it.

John H. Fund writes of Mitt Romney and his (apparent) presidential campaign.

David Yepsen reports on some interesting poll results from Iowa about the 2008 campaign.

Robert D. Novak outlines some of the politics and personalities behind the recent compromise on terrorist interrogation.

Clarence Page writes of Barack Obama, 2006, 2008, and a few other things, in a good overview of contemporary partisan politics at the national level.


Paul Jacob explains how California -- that is, the state's government -- killed the electric car in trying to promote it. Here's a significant point:

"Wait and see" is a better attitude for bystanders -- and, in the context of progress, bureaucrats are most definitely bystanders -- than "mandate and wait."

Now that he's the world economy's most famous private citizen, Alan Greenspan is speaking openly about the massive productivity drain we call Sarbanes-Oxley. Ed Cone isn't convinced.

Is a United-Delta merger in our airline future? R. M. Schneiderman reports.

I wonder if Airbus troubles Chris Noon chronicles will slightly tarnish the European sense of superiority? I doubt it.

Things International

Jeff Jacoby reviews Hugo Chavez' resume. His final thought:

As night descends on Venezuela, thuggish rulers everywhere are finding Chavez a kindred spirit. There was indeed an odor of sulfur at the UN last week, but it didn't come from President Bush.

Debra Saunders writes of the Kyoto economic suicide pact (my term, not hers) and the "LearJet liberal." Here are two non-contiguous excerpts:

No wonder Lear Jet liberals love Kyoto: It allows them to look like they really, really care about the environment -- and have their contrails, too.

How can they be beautiful people if they don't jet to an island for a week or two of eco-tourism?

Charles Krauthammer mulls the latest applicatiion of "Krauthammer's Law."

Niall Ferguson notes the disconnect between politics and economics in our mad, mad, mad, mad world, where stable countries' markets are tepid and unstable countries' markets are bullish. Here's an excerpt:

There are two ways of explaining this mystifying disconnect. One is that everything is going according to the dastardly plan of the infinitely cunning capitalist imperialist running dogs. In perfect unison, wacko demagogues from the developing world have been wrecking the credibility of the U.N. and making George W. Bush look like a model of sweet reason. What more could Republican Party strategists have asked for in the run-up to November's midterms?

Well, maybe. The other possibility is that investors are continuing to mistake liquidity for security. Despite the much-trumpeted tightening of interest rates by the world's principal central banks, the reality is that monetary expansion has barely slowed. That seems to be encouraging a rather cavalier approach to risk assessment.

Kathryn Jean Lopez has a great idea that won't happen: Tony Blair for UN Secretary-General.


Phyllis Schlafly writes of the latest development in the Math Wars. (Note some unsettling statistics about college graduation at the end, too.) Here are non-contiguous excerpts:

One department-approved "exemplary" course, "MathLand," directed children to meet in small groups and invent their own ways to add, subtract, multiply and divide. It's too bad the kids weren't told that wiser adults have already discovered how to do all those basic computations rapidly and accurately.

The diversion of math into the teaching of political correctness was illustrated by the "anti-racist multicultural math" curriculum adopted by Newton, Mass. It's no wonder that test scores dropped after this "math" curriculum's top priority became "Respect for Human Differences."

Here's a travesty that will shock but not surprise you: freshmen at elite American universities know more American history than graduating seniors. Debra J. Saunders reports on a recent study.

The Culture

Suzanne Fields discusses children, television, and art, including the tendency of third graders with television sets in their rooms to score lower on standardized tests.

With tongue firmly in cheek, Tom Purcell identifies the radical Muslim problem as testosterone and the solution and "wussification."

Kevin McCullough attempts to explain why liberals love adulterers -- which is neither news nor rocket science, I admit. But it's worth reading occasionally.

You wouldn't think a one-page demographic history of the United States would be the least bit interesting -- that is, unless you knew that the writer is Michael Barone.


Having previously discussed discrimination and prejudice separately, now Walter Williams compares, contrasts, and intelligently applies them.

Mike Adams suggests fall readings. None of them are Chinese novels (see "Favorites" above), but I find some of them tempting, anyway.

I'm not sure Mary Katherine Ham's litany of gun-toting females warms my heart, but when society's laws fail to protect society, some things do start to resemble the wild, wild West.

This is the kind of women's empowerment that gets me going. A new women's studies program just doesn't do it for me the way a gleaming .380 does.

David Grimes expatiates on those voices in his head -- which apparently are not all bad.

American Fork and Environs

This Amy Choate-Nielsen article detailed a complex set of agreements on the boundary between American Fork and Pleasant Grove. (American Fork has a general plan; Pleasant Grove doesn't. American Fork leaders don't consider it proper for Pleasant Grove to build large high-density developments with no parks, etc., on American Fork's border.)

Caleb Warnock reports on some folks who want to "disconnect" from Pleasant Grove -- again on the border with American Fork.

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