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Saturday, November 18, 2006
This Week's Excellent Readings

This week's list is heavy on election post-mortems and discussions of the transition on Capitol Hill, but there are gems on other subjects, too, prominently including uber-economist Milton Friedman, who passed away this week, dating and marriage counsel, and even -- blush -- Oprah.


Robert Novak explains how House Republicans are about to earn, once again, the title "Stupid Party." It has to do with leadership.

Newt Gingrich explains that it wasn't conservatism that lost the election.

John Podhoretz sees signs of health in the Democratic Party, not in spite of, but because of some infighting this week. An excerpt:

There are reasons to question Pelosi's political judgment, as Murtha's bungled majority leader bid demonstrates. The fact that Democrats did question it and went their own way suggests they're not go- ing to march over a cliff behind Pelosi, whose views constitute almost a caricature of American left-liberalism at its most provincial.


Democrats interested in building on their successes need to have these kinds of fights, quarrels and power struggles. When parties fail to have these clarifying battles, they end up making the kinds of disastrous errors that helped derail the Republican reform agenda and gave Democrats running room to trounce GOP Hill hacks as they did last week.

After surveying the political terrain, Peggy Noonan foretells surprise from the White House -- at least a partial surprise.

Charles Krauthammer describes the real problem in Iraq, and -- surprise! -- it ain't us. It's the Iraqi political culture. (And how, really, could we expect a country to have even a slightly healthy political culture after decades of tyranny?)

One can tinker with American tactics or troop levels from today until doomsday. But unless the Iraqis can put together a government of unitary purpose and resolute action, the simple objective of this war -- to leave behind a self-sustaining democratic government -- is not attainable.

Mark Steyn writes of the election, Iraq, and the United States' unproven staying power. Here are scattered excerpts:

The jihad crowd . . . employed a craftier strategy. Their view of America is roughly that of the British historian Niall Ferguson -- that the Great Satan is the first superpower with ADHD. They reasoned that if you could subject Americans to the drip-drip-drip of remorseless water torture in the deserts of Mesopotamia -- a couple of deaths here, a market bombing there, cars burning, smoke over the city on the evening news, day after day after day, and ratcheted up a notch or two for the weeks before the election -- you could grind down enough of the electorate and persuade them to vote like Spaniards, without even realizing it. And it worked.


Whether or not Rumsfeld should have been tossed overboard long ago, he certainly shouldn't have been tossed on Wednesday morning. For one thing, it's a startlingly brazen confirmation of the politicization of the war, and a particularly unworthy one: It's difficult to conceive of any more public diminution of a noble cause than to make its leadership contingent on Lincoln Chafee's Senate seat. . . .

Still, we are all Spaniards now. . . .

It has been a long time since America unambiguously won a war, and to choose to lose Iraq would be an act of such parochial self-indulgence that the American moment would not endure, and would not deserve to. Europe is becoming semi-Muslim, Third World basket-case states are going nuclear, and, for all that 40 percent of planetary military spending, America can't muster the will to take on pipsqueak enemies. We think we can just call off the game early, and go back home and watch TV.

Paul Greenberg voted Democratic (uncharacteristically) because his state party didn't put up good candidates. (Where have we heard that complaint before at the blog? Well, here.)

George Will writes of what the new Congress can and cannot do, in some interesting detail.

Jeff Jacoby offers an excellent historical look at where civil rights progress happens: the people, not the courts. (Not that same-sex marriage is civil rights progress . . .) Be sure to catch the last word, from Thomas Jefferson.

Tim Chapman profiles the candidates for the two most important leadership positions among House Republicans.

National Politics: The Election and Aftermath

Jeff Jacoby says the country's shift toward the political right actually continues, but the Republicans missed the boat . . . or the train, whatever. (It's my mangled metaphor, not Jacoby's.)

Michael Barone foretells the political future, both in governance and presidential politics.

William Rusher writes on what to expect, and what not to expect, in Congress in the next two years, after noting why the Republicans lost the election.

Donald Lambro foresees legislative gridlock in Washington and notes in passing that Wall Street is hoping for it.

Star Parker's analysis of the election differs from the conventional wisdom. Also, her account of why we need great leaders just now, and where they might come from and why, merits some thought.

Thomas Sowell's discussion of the next Congress includes this excellent observation:

The fact that you cannot stop something does not mean that you have to become an accomplice.

Jeff Emanuel offers Georgia as a model for Republican electoral success on a national level.

Michael Barone looks at the numbers from last week.

Michelle Malkin points out that, if future Speaker Nancy Pelosi really wants to clean house, she should take the garbage out -- not in.

Linda Chavez describes the role of labor unions in the latest election, and two pending court cases which may limit such a role in the future.

Maggie Gallagher lists some lessons learned about voter attitudes from last week's elections.

Bruce Bartlett's post-election autopsy has some interesting arguments -- for example, about the opiate effect on Republicans of conservative talk and Internet media.

Jonathan Turley lists specific things Nancy Pelosi should do if she really wants to "drain the swamp" of congressional corruption.

John H. Fund explains why John Murtha is a highly suspect candidate for House leadership. (Note that he later was defeated in his bid for House Majority Leader by a large margin.

Suzanne Fields says a lot of old stereotypes just don't apply any more in our politics.

Robert Novak says Nancy Pelosi's written endorsement of John Murtha for House Majority Leader was a serious error in leadership.

Races for Republican leadership in the House were interesting right up until they were over. Here's Tim Chapman's summary of things before Friday's vote.

Rich Tucker says conservatism is alive and well, and the Democrats have proven it.

Lorie Byrd, on the other hand, says the masks are off, and there aren't many signs of moderation among the Democrats.

Burt Prelutsky waxes candid about November 7, which he calls a "day of infamy."

According to Debra J. Saunders, Nancy Pelosi is fitting right into the "culture of corruption" in her new majority role.

Donald Lambro describes stiff opposition the Democrats' major agenda items are already facing, including among large blocks of their supporters.

Rich Lowry makes the case that the election was not an affirmation of the nation's preference for amnesty in the immigration debate.

David Strom writes that you used to know what you were getting when you voted Republican, and the recent breakdown in that "branding" is what caused both houses of Congress to change hands.

As usual, Robert Novak has some interesting inside observations about the people on Capitol Hill.

Tony Blankley explains the difficulties of rebuilding the conservative Republican coalition.

National Politics: In the States

Abigail Thernstrom describes the initiative Michigan voters just passed opposing racial preferences.

La Shawn Barber discussed the resolution Michigan voters passed last week to eliminate race-based discrimination (affirmative action), and one state official's hostile reaction to it.

They weren't high profile issues, but many of the initiatives on the ballots in the states impact business. Matthew Swibel lists a bunch of them.

National Politics: Miscellany

Elizabeth MacDonald discussed the near-term future of Sarbanes-Oxley reform.

Mike S. Adams clearly explains his opposition to affirmative action.

Wesley Pruden wonders if the Democrats will now go after the NCAA.

Terence Jeffrey says Rudy Giuliani has no chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

William Perry Pendley describes a Bush Administration land grab bigger than the Clinton Administration's most notorious land grab.

George Will writes of the Supreme Court, capital punishment, and the Ninth [Circus] Court of Appeals.

There should be two Supreme Courts, one to reverse the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the other to hear all other cases.


There is something grotesque about an execution a quarter of a century after a crime. But there is something repellent about the jurisprudential hairsplitting that consumes decades, defeats the conclusions of juries' deliberations, and denies society the implementation of a punishment it has endorsed.

According to Joel Mowbray, Senator Hillary Clinton might not be the Arkansas presidential candidate.

Alas, writes Diana West, Republicans have become nearly as politically correct as Democrats, with all the intolerance that implies.

Rich Galen briefly profiles leading Republican presidential candidates.

Ben Shapiro thinks Barack Obama's "understanding" crosses the line between open-mindedness and empty-headedness.

Economics: Mostly (the Late) Milton Friedman

A giant, Milton Friedman, has left us. Bruce Bartlett explains how large a figure he was, and why.

Ralph Kinney Bennett's essay on playing tennis with Milton Friedman is a delight.

Brad DeLong's essay on Friedman focuses on economics, not personality -- but maybe the two are actually inseparable in Friedman's case.

Mark Alexander recalls both the humor and the massive influence of Milton Friedman.

Daniel Henninger revisits the ideas of another controversial economist, Arthur Laffer, and a quarter century of their (very successful) history.

Veterans Day, a Little Later

Mark M. Alexander has some poignant thoughts about Veterans Day.

Kathleen Parker offers specifics in asserting that we owe our veterans more than they are getting.


Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., says the case was there to make, but the Bush Administration failed to make it effectively. Meanwhile, some form or other of defeat looms . . .

Amir Taheri reports our enemies' glee at our election results.

Austin Bay recounts the US failure to support the Iraqi people after our first war with Saddam and the Iraqi memory of that, along with the reappearance of one of the players from that time: James Baker.

Michael Fumento is embedded in Iraq -- along with only ten other reporters. The fault is not the military's, he says. And he notes that some media folks don't think we have a right to know what is actually going on in Iraq.

Richard Z. Chesnoff wants the Bush Administration to wake up and smell the Persian nukes.

Donald Lambro advocates a "Reagan strategy" in Iraq.

Larry Elder asks, Are the Democrats united behind an Iraq plan or not?

Mona Charen says we're about to give up.

The Culture

Doug Giles contrasts life in Florida with life in Texas.

Burt Prelutsky muses on the differences between men and women, and explains why he would like to inherit a lot of money. Somewhere in that first part is a sad commentary on society.

James Bowman writes of honor -- what it is, where it came from, where it went.

Phyllis Schlafly summarizes how we have reached the point where parents' -- read that taxpayers' -- values are deliberately excluded and undermined by the public -- read that publicly funded -- schools.

Michael Medved considers who is less tolerant: the believers or the secularists. (Hint: It's not Elton John.)

Ruben Navarrette reports on a new study of parents and how they spend their time -- and in what quantities.

Walter Williams says:

The solutions to the major problems that confront many black people won't be found in the political arena, especially not in Washington or state capitols.

Paul Greenberg muses on the virtues of a politically incorrect condition, being alone, as he talks about Andrew Wyeth's works.

How great a force is Oprah? Almost without peer, writes Janice Shaw Crouse, who describes the megastar's gospel of "church-free spirituality."

Doug Giles writes sensibly in what appears to be the first of a series of articles on the question, "How does a girl avoid dating or marrying some festering bag of ripe compost?"


Henry T. Edmondson says the change in partisan control of Congress bodes ill for the quality of public education (though not for the public education industry itself, to be sure).

Jay Sekulow describes yet another ACLU attempt to remove religion from public life.

Jonah Goldberg explains how "diversity" equals racism in higher education.

Oak Norton is pointing to a major victory in the Utah Math Wars as if the war is over. I'm more of a pessimist than that, but I don't dispute that a major battle was just won. Three cheers for Oak in any case. Here are a Deseret Morning News article by Tiffany Erickson and Laura Hancock and a Salt Lake Tribune article by Nicole Stricker.

American Fork and Environs

Here's a brief Salt Lake Tribune report on audits of electronic voting in Utah.

This Daily Herald editorial gripes about poll worker training.

UDOT's looking at another dangerous American Fork intersection, according to this Chris Jones story.

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