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Saturday, November 4, 2006
This Week's Excellent Readings

Naturally, this week's list includes a lot of writing about next week's election, but there's good writing on other topics, too.


Ian Bremmer's article on openness, stability, Iraq's future, and related topics is very insightful.

Victor Davis Hanson writes wisely of writers, the novels they write, the difference between reality and fiction, and what happens when political candidates' staffs read the novels the opponent has written.

Christopher Hitchens discusses the US obligation to continue in Iraq and the likely consequences to many Iraqis if we don't.

Quite apart from my general agreement with George Will's take on voting, I admire this piece for its wealth of delicious lines, including these:

Having fixed Iraq and New Orleans, the federal government's healing touch is now being applied to voting. . . .

For more than two centuries before Congress passed HAVA, Americans voted. Really. Unlike today, those who were elected -- Clay, Webster, Lincoln and lesser lights -- often were more complex and sophisticated than the voting machinery. . . .

The lesson that should have been learned from Florida was: In Florida, as in life generally, one should pursue as much precision as is reasonable -- but not more.

Today's political climate -- hyperpartisanship leavened by paranoia and exploited by a national surplus of lawyers -- makes this an unpropitious moment for introducing new voting technologies . . .

We should not be surprised if, on Nov. 7, new voting machinery does what new technologies -- dams, bridges, steamships, airplanes -- have done through history: malfunction.

Joe Biden, US Senator from Delaware, says he's from a Southern state, but Paul Greenberg isn't buying it. Hang around for the last paragraph.

Here Paul Greenberg explains that Americans losing their enthusiasm for a war is actually the historical rule, not an exception.

Forgive me for continuing to think that style still matters in politics and government, but . . . Steve Chapman celebrates what little humor there has been in the campaigns this year.

Janice Shaw Crouse reminds us that "the greatest generation" wasn't just the soldiers who went away; it was also the women, especially wives, who stayed behind.


Mark Steyn speaks of a recent meeting with President Bush and the discussion there about the war on Islamofascism. Here's a good excerpt or two:

If it really is, as Democrats say, ''all about the future of our children,'' then our children will want to know why our generation saw what was happening and didn't do anything about it. They will despise us as we despise the political class of the 1930s. And the fact that we passed a great prescription drug plan will be poor consolation when the entire planet is one almighty headache..

A Dutch gay "humanist" (which is pretty much the trifecta of Eurocool), van den Boogaard was reflecting on the accelerating Islamification of the Continent and concluding that the jig was up for the Europe he loved. "I am not a warrior, but who is?" he shrugged. "I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it."

Debra J. Saunders puts Iraq timetables and opinion polls in a very reasonable perspective. And here she corrects her data and adjusts her conclusions.

Mona Charen evaluates the flaws in both parties' approaches to the war in Iraq.

Jack Kelly wonders what it means that Moqtada al-Sadr is still alive.

Max Boot argues intelligently that national survival requires keeping up with the times -- in terms of warfare, that is.

Austin Bay offers an update on the New York Times' exposure of supposedly secret anti-terrorist measures.

Marvin Olasky has some sobering reminders about 1956 and some things that happened -- and didn't happen -- in Hungary.

Herman Cain has some stern words about "armchair presidents."

Diana West says that the reason the issues and the public are confused, where Iraq is concerned, is that the Republicans in Congress are confused.

National Politics: John Kerry's Foot in John Kerry's Mouth

Jonah Goldberg recounts John Kerry's misfire and its aftermath.

Clarence Page adds in interesting historical perspective.

Michael Medved explains why John Kerry's crack matters more than some other things that happen in an election year.

National Politics: Tuesday's Election

Burt Prelutsky doesn't know any conservatives who won't vote on Tuesday.

The truth is, I know an awful lot of conservatives and I don’t know a single one who is so irresponsible, so unconcerned about America’s well-being, that he would sit idly by and allow this catastrophe to take place.

As usual, Thomas Sowell has a point. Here's part of it:

Contrary to what you might think from the way the media cover politics, elections are not about the careers of politicians but about the fate of the country. That fate is definitely on the line now with a nuclear Iran and a nuclear North Korea looming over our children's future.

The time is long overdue to get serious about the caliber of people to whom power and responsibility are to be entrusted.

Mike Allen gives five reasons the White House is optimistic about November 7.

I'm tired of people playing the race card. I'm tired of people saying someone else is playing the race card. I'm tired of op/eds about the race card. But I'm glad I read Jeff Jacoby. The best part is his link to this commercial. (Again, by linking to YouTube I am not endorsing all of its content.) This commercial doesn't seem racist to me, but it does seem like someone, at least, thinks politics should be fun.

Wesley Pruden profiles an interesting, but not particularly beautiful, Senate race in Tennessee.

Star Parker opines the New Jersey Supreme Court just improved Republican electoral prospects by more or less legalizing gay marriage.

So the court essentially said that same sex partnership walks like a duck, looks like a duck and should be granted all the rights and benefits of a duck, but concluded it didn't have the authority to call it a duck.

Now the state legislature has 180 days to decide whether to call it a duck, or to call it a goose that has the same legal standing as a duck.

Robert Novak describes a tightening Montana Senate race.

Sometimes trying too hard jeopardizes a political win. Jonathan Garthwaite analyzes adventures in Missouri, featuring Michael J. Fox.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., might be going a little to far when he calls Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania "an American Churchill," but you do have to admire Santorum's political courage. (Note to Mr. Gaffney: Please don't use the word literal when you mean exactly its opposite.)

Michael Barone offers an interesting short history of midterm elections over the past century and half or so.

Kathleen Parker does the nearly impossible: She explains the Missouri stem cell/cloning amendment clearly.

Donald Lambro notes that, no matter who wins, the majority in the House of Representatives is likely to be a lot narrower, which makes things rather difficult for the winners, not just the losers.

Jack Kelly thinks Novelgate was a low blow -- but somewhat just in a Senate campaign regrettably filled with low blows.

One of the Senate races to watch is in Maryland, where black conservative Republican Michael Steele is pretty close to Democrat Ben Cardin. Mary Katherine Ham writes.

Even if things shift on Capitol Hill, it won't be a realignment of historic proportions, writes Charles Krauthammer. It will be quite normal.

So when the results come in and the Democrats begin to crow, remember this: By historical standards, this is the American people's usual response to entrenched power -- a bracing and chastening contempt. Sixth-year presidents nearly always bring their parties down.

National Politicals: Generally

I don't suppose the BMA would agree, but Ben Shapiro has a pretty clear and sensible idea of the political spectrum: left, right, center, extremes.

Jonah Goldberg explains the complexity of the immigration reform logjam in Congress.

Michael Barone analyzes the challenges and limitations of polling in a changing society.

No less an icon than George Will sees Mitt Romney's presidential star rising.

Max Boot is not a great fan of Ike.

Froma Harrop see some interesting possibilities in the re-emergence of federalism, if Howard Dean's 50-state Democratic party strategies take effect.

It's no secret there are double standards afoot in our politics. But Burt Prelutsky's recitation is probably worth reading anyway.

The Culture and Its Politics

Lenore Skenazy is not crazy about those Chevrolet ads.

Clarence Page takes aim at abuses of deaf culture, making a larger point along the way.

Jay Alan Sekulow's article is not a masterpiece, but it does explain that Planned Parenthood receives truckloads of the taxpayers' money from the federal government. As you might guess, he's not happy about it.

Dick Morris explains how things weren't quite as Sen. Hillary Clinton says they were . . . again.

Walter Williams says pursuing diversity makes sense only to academics.

Maggie Gallagher discusses reponses to the New Jersey Supreme Court's recent ruling mandating gay marriage or an equivalent. The most interesting detail to me is the difference she describes between the State of New Jersey's argument in the case and the State of New York's argument in a similar case, which led to the opposite ruling.

The key words in Suzanne Fields' look at the political culture are "Generation Jones" and "culture of dumbness."

Paul Greenberg offers some astute thoughts on writing editorials.

Rebecca Hagelin distinguishes the promising from the fanciful in the field of stem cell research. Here's a thought:

Follow the money, folks, because believe me, if embryonic stem cells offered any real hope, private companies would be lining up around the block to fund it. Sure, some would avoid it because of the ethical problems, but not all. That's why the proponents of embryonic stem-cell research are beating the drums for taxpayer money. It's their only chance.


Henry T. Edmondson, III, isn't telling us anything new when he describes the unflattering conclusions of a study of American colleges of education, but I think we should just keeping hearing it and hearing it anyway, until we decide to take it seriously.


There goes Nicaragua again, and look how the US State Department is involved. Robert Novak reports.

American Fork and Environs

Caleb Warnock, ahem, celebrates the recent American Fork City Council discussion of a dog park. Among his other gifts, he has a great deadpan.

Alison Snyder describes the proposed water bond issue in American Fork. It's a pretty good summary of the issue.

Here's more good but unsurprising news in the Deseret Morning News about that American Fork High School Marching Band.

As another election season winds (we hope) to a close, some folks would rather read Barbara Christiansen's article on American Fork's new fire truck than read another word about politics. Do you blame them?

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