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Saturday, November 25, 2006
This Week's Excellent Readings

Thanksgiving, the war, the election, and a lot more.

Favorites: Thanksgiving

The best Thanksgiving essay I read this week was George Will's . . .

. . . Until I read Allen Guelzo's. The latter has merits far beyond Thanksgiving, to be sure.

Favorites: Everything Else

Mark Steyn discusses the great divide among Republicans and the need for someone to come along and reconcile "the War Party" with "the Small Government Party" so Republicans can win again.

Paul Greenberg (of Arkansas) tells of snobbish hand-wringing in New York and Philadelphia, as some great art leaves for . . . Arkansas.

Victor Davis Hanson's penetrating analysis of the Middle East and the War on Terror generally could have used a bit more editing, but he captures both the difficulties and the ironies of the current conflict.

Michael Barone discusses past policy successes and the need for new Republican ideas for 2008. Along the way, see if you agree with his idea of "the only realistic conservatism."

Senator John McCain gave a good speech the other day. Could the man who, with his "gang of fourteen," probably cost the Republicans the Senate be serious about being a conservative, all of a sudden? Miracles happen, I suppose, but I remain skeptical about this one.

Betsy Hart describes "helicopter parents" who won't let their children grow up.

Bill Murchison says that liberty isn't everything. It needs one more thing to survive.

Linda Chavez offers some personal memories of Milton Friedman.

Walter Williams analyzes the economic lessons to be learned from Europe.

Thomas Sowell's thoughts on attracting honorable people to politics deserve some serious thought.


Christopher Hitchens wonders why we should listen to James Baker, anyway.

Here are excerpts from Tony Blankley's excellent essay on withdrawing from Iraq:

The decisions made on Iraq over the next few months will take the measure of America's maturity and sense of responsibility. Because, whether we like it or not, our decisions -- and our decisions alone -- will determine whether the barely containable murderous pathologies of the Middle East will just be dumped into the face of humanity -- or whether rational efforts will be persisted at to contain and mitigate its civilization-threatening forces. . . .

If we, the most powerful force on the planet, in a fit of disappointment and anger at our bungling policies to date, decide to shrug off our responsibilities to the future -- we will soon receive, and deserve, the furious contempt of a terrified world. In fact, even those Americans who today can't wait to end our involvement in the "hopeless" war in Iraq will -- when the consequences of our irresponsibility becomes manifest -- join the chorus of outrage. . . .

The emerging Washington consensus is an exercise in self-delusion unworthy of a 5-year-old. The almost consensus Washington argument assumes that if only we would formally talk with them, Iran and Syria would volunteer to pull our chestnuts out of the fire while we start removing troops from Iraq. Such arguments exemplify the witticism that when ideas fail, words come in very handy. . . .

We have only two choices: Get out and let the ensuing Middle East firestorm enflame the wider world; or, stay and with shrewder policies and growing material strength manage and contain the danger.

James Q. Wilson ponders the demise of the "patriot reporter" in this long essay, which looks at the history of the matter, debunks some proposed explanations, and offers others in their place.

We are told by careful pollsters that half of the American people believe that American troops should be brought home from Iraq immediately. This news discourages supporters of our efforts there. Not me, though: I am relieved. Given press coverage of our efforts in Iraq, I am surprised that 90 percent of the public do not want us out right now.

Niall Ferguson sketches the complexity of the Middle East and comments on the nature of civil wars.

The dream of a democratized Middle East had its origins in another bad idea: the notion that the main conflicts in the post-Cold War era would be clashes between civilizations, in particular those of Islam and the West. Turning Iraq into a democracy was supposed to initiate a fundamental transformation of Islamic civilization.

The reality, however, is that the majority of conflicts in our time have been within civilizations, not between them -- civil wars, not holy wars. And, as the cases of Lebanon and Iraq clearly illustrate, such wars tend to be fought by neighboring ethnic groups. Only occasionally are the Muslims all on one side and the "Westerners" -- shorthand for Christians and Jews -- all on the other.

Suzanne Fields discusses a Holocaust analogy that works. Along the way, she takes this nice shot at the BMA:

Israel has strong friends in America, particularly among evangelical Christians. Nearly everyone has known this for a long time, but some people always find out late. The New York Times discovered it only last week, and put the news of its late discovery on Page One.

Caroline B. Glick says that British Prime Minister Tony Blair's body has lately been possessed by cheese-eating surrender monkeys. Actually, she didn't put it that way, but the idea is the same.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., reports that Democratic political strategist Pat Cadell is angry at Republicans . . . for losing. It has everything to do with the war against Islamic fascism.

Michael Novak writes the lessons Islamists have learned from the war.

Mona Charen argues, "The proper question is not whether it is discrimination but whether it is justified." The context is the war against Islamic fasicm, but the point has broader implications.

Max Boot suggests that some of difficulties in Iraq are really rooted in our own historical mistakes.

Around the Globe

Artemy Troitsky writes a very personal essay, in which he says democracy in Russia is in retreat.

Michelle Malkin's list of thinks the BMA should be thankful for mentions dangers to media in several nations, including some in Western Europe. Then she adds this sarcastic note:

Give thanks we live in America, land of the free, home of the brave, where the media's elite journalists can leak top-secret information with impunity, win Pulitzer Prizes, cash in on lucrative book deals, routinely insult their readership and viewership, broadcast enemy propaganda, turn a blind eye to the victims of jihad, and cast themselves as oppressed victims on six-figure salaries.

Peter Brookes offers a detailed look at the fate of Ukraine's "Orange Revolution," two years later. It's not all good, but it's definitely not all bad.

National Politics: The Earmark of the Beast

Paul Weyrich reports on the continuing battle against congressional earmarks and one of the fight's leaders, Senator Thomas Coburn (R-OK).

Robert Novak reports on a few US Senators' latest efforts to close down the "favor factory."

National Politics: The Election and Aftermath

Froma Harrop mulls the possibility of a Senate Democrat changing parties.

Joel Mowbray looks at Ohio, one of the few places where Republicans did well in close races.

Jack Kelly talks about Republicans losing centrist voters, noting in the process:

This shouldn't be surprising. Americans are warm-hearted and generous. They favor center-right solutions to most problems -- but not a vendetta against people whose "crime" consists chiefly of doing what it takes to feed their families.

It was ever thus. No party running on a nativist platform has been successful nationally. When House Republicans traded in the sunny optimism of Ronald Reagan for the sour crabbiness of Pat Buchanan, their fate was sealed.

Jessica Holzer profiles the new congressional leadership -- mostly the Democrats, of course. One excerpt:

Unabashed liberals all, they are all likely to kick up a fuss over the decision to invade Iraq and open up all sorts of investigations into the conduct of the war. They will be backed in the Senate by Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware and Carl Levin of Michigan, who will be the respective heads of the Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees.

Michael Barone draws conclusions from South Dakota voters' defeat of an abortion ban, including this one:

The fact that an abortion ban could not pass muster with the voters of a state like South Dakota should convince clearsighted prolifers that, even if Roe v. Wade were overturned tomorrow, abortion is simply not going to be banned in the United States anytime soon. True, opposition to abortion is very high in a few jurisdictions (Louisiana, Utah, Guam). But it was almost as high in South Dakota, and the ban was overturned. American voters are ready to support many limitations on abortion. But it seems that very large majorities nationally are not willing to approve an outright ban.

Robert Novak discusses the way President Bush fired Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Bruce Schneier wonders if our votes got counted. He's too paranoid for me, overestimates the dangers of electronic voting, underestimates the security of paper ballots, and could probably be mostly satisfied by electronic voting machines which create a recountable paper trail -- why would anyone buy or sell any other kind? -- but argues his stance more articulately than most.

National Politics: Everything Else

George Will's piece on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision not to run for president has some interesting insights into the region, presidential politics, and leadership generally.

When Ruben Navarrette, Jr., says that municipal ordinances banning housing rentals to illegal aliens are "dishonest, misdirected, and destined to fail," I give him two out of three (the first and last). He makes an interesting argument.

According to Robert Robb, John McCain isn't yet offering the right solutions to difficult problems. Here's a well-worded excerpt:

The question is whether McCain, during his presidential bid, will propose a tough solution to this tough entitlement problem. In his GOPAC speech, McCain simply referred to bringing all the parties to the table to hammer out a principled solution.

That's happy talk for getting Democrats to join in the dirty work. Ain't gonna happen. Democrats are clearly going to continue milking the political benefits of denial.

Kathryn Jean Lopez says we are truly blessed and have much to be grateful for in the political world, even if the words "Speaker" and "Pelosi" now seem to fit together.

Ben Shapiro catalogs Barack Obama's liberal credentials, just in case you thought the latter was something else.


Niall Ferguson writes that Milton Friedman's monetarism died a decade before Friedman himself.

In an open letter to Senator-elect Jim Webb Virginia, Rich Tucker, a constituent, debunks some of the falsehoods Webb recently spouted to The Wall Street Journal, straight from the Democratic catechism.


Kathryn Jean Lopez discusses marriage as an issue in the 2008 election, highlighting Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's statements.

Jonah Goldberg explains the perils of rejecting everything inherited from the past.

What's in a little black book? Gene Weingarten tries the Sherlock Holmes thing.

James J. Kilpatrick makes the case that, in writing, sometimes less is just less.

Kathleen Parker says we should be grateful for Christian evangelicals -- and she has the history to prove it.

James Lileks offers no pretense of political correctness in an essay that features John Edwards, Wal-Mart, class struggle, and other exciting adventures.

You could say that if a 6-year-old can figure it out, then the concept has been presented so simplistically it lacks a real-world application.


Lefties are running amok in San Francisco, according to Jeff Jacoby -- not that that's a real surprise. (Who cares about readin', writin', and arithmetic? Our public schools' purpose is the fostering of correct political attitudes.)

John H. Fund discusses the Michigan initiative banning racial preferences -- including affirmative action.

Cal Thomas's thoughts on the late Milton Friedman focus on school choice.

This KSL report on teacher salaries interested me in a way it might not interest you: I'd love to be able to afford to be a teacher.

Education: The Math Wars

The Salt Lake Tribune editors think the Math Wars should be a lesson to educators.

Nicole Stricker recounts recent Utah battles in the Math Wars. Notice how hard the Alpine School District representative spins fuzzy math. It's important that every child be successful -- not necessarily that every child learn to do math.

I was a freak. I was good at math and I enjoyed it. Peter E. Trapa reports on research that shows that the math skills and the enjoyment typically don't go together.


The Delta Center in Salt Lake City is now EnergySolutions Arena, according to the KSL report? I'm actually not part of the knee-jerk anti-nuclear-waste crowd, but this is at best . . . infelicitous. As in, ick. But money talks, or so I've heard. (They'd have to pay me to get me to call it by its new name, I think.)

A Deborah Bulkeley article describes legislative attention to a program designed to detect and track racial profiling in law enforcement.

Lisa Riley Roche discusses redistricting proposals.

American Fork and Environs

Tad Walch reports that the voting machines themselves were not guilty in the case of the 112 Utah County polling locations that were dysfunctional for a while on Election Day morning.

Jazz is alive and well in American Fork -- or at least from American Fork. Rebecca C. Howard reports. (Does the Crescent Super Band ever play in American Fork?)

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