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Saturday, December 9, 2006
This Week's Excellent Readings

Lots of discussion of the Iraq Study Group's (ISG, or CESM here) report, but also excellent sections on culture and economics, among other things.

Favorites: To Surrender or not to Surrender

"Before" and "After" below are before and after the Iraq Study Group (ISG) released its report on Wednesday.

Orson Scott Card pleads with the Democrats on Capitol Hill to do something before -- and more urgent than -- their Christmas shopping.

After: Mona Charen questions the CESMs' (Iraq Study Group/ISG's) supposed credentials as realists, based on their work product.

Before: In a two-part essay, Jeff Jacoby previews the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group (now known here at the blog as CESM) and considers the possibilities. (Here is Part Two.)

The president will be urged by many to waste no time implementing the Baker group's ideas. Which is indeed what he should do -- assuming that he has come around to favoring defeat in Iraq, the death of the doctrine that bears his name, and the empowerment of the worst regimes in the world. If, however, Bush prefers success to failure and would rather live up to, not abandon, the principles he has articulated in the war against radical Islam, he should politely accept the ISG report and then do the opposite of what it recommends.

[and from Part Two . . .]

Should the United States turn to Iran and Syria for help in reducing the violence bloodying Iraq? James Baker's Iraq Study Group, out this week with its well-leaked recommendations, thinks direct talks with Tehran and Damascus would be a fine idea. I think so too -- right after those governments switch sides in the global jihad.

As things stand now, however, negotiating with Iran and Syria over the future of Iraq is about as promising a strategy for preventing more bloodshed as negotiating with Adolf Hitler over the future of Czechoslovakia was in 1938.

Before: Mark Steyn isn't crazy about the CESMs or their (then) upcoming report, either, and he doubts James Baker's qualifications as the Super-Wise Man. There's more at stake here than just politics and approval ratings.

Before: As the Baker Bunch (CESM) prepared to release its already almost-released recommendations for our splitting from Iraq, Jonathan Last outlined James Kurth's plan to split Iraq. Into a pair of states, that is: one Kurdish and one Shiite, leaving the rebellious and bloodthirsty Sunnis out in the cold. This may actually make sense . . .

After: Niall Ferguson (a mind not to be dismissed lightly) has been reading the CESM (ISG) fine print. He comes to a different conclusion: It's not a plan for surrender.

After: Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., offers some thoughts on the CESM (ISG) report. Somewhere in the middle is this insight:

It is not good for the Free World to have such uncertainty about the word of the President of the United States.

Michael Barone says that LBJ and Vietnam might not be the best historical comparison for President Bush and Iraq. Barone takes a sensible look at history, among other things.

Newt Gingrich writes a smart column on the need to revisit freedom of speech and other topics, in light of terrorists' efforts to use certain kinds of free speech against us.

Before, then After: I don't share George Will's views of the war in Iraq, but he does have some useful insights. (I'm also not sure his declaration passes philosophical muster: "There can be no moral duty to attempt what cannot be done.") And here George Will doesn't trash the report, but says it has largely been overtaken by events.

Jack Kelly describes how, a a prelude to surrender in Iraq, the Democrats in the Senate, plus a few defecting Republicans, are arranging our surrender to our opponents (perhaps they are actually enemies) at the UN. Key words: John Bolton.

After: John Podhoretz has a plan.

Favorites: The Rest of Them, that Is

Paul Jacob tells why he admires Thomas Paine, and tells in the process the story of powerful writing and its effects.

Suzanne Fields offers a penetrating look at illegitimacy and its effects. An excerpt:

These single moms have lost considerably more than a man in the house. They've lost the middle-class script for planning for the future, and they've lost the traditional institutional arrangement that's required for upward mobility, made all the more crucial in a knowledge economy when a college drop-out can no longer find a job in manufacturing.

Marc E. Babej and Tim Pollak offer "Eight Marketing Lessons for '08," based on the 2006 election.

Tony Blankley offers a hard-nosed preview of the upcoming Democrat presidential primary race. There's a certain playful sarcasm here . . .

After two grueling years legislating in the Senate, this man, whose seasoned judgment the world will be relying on for its very survival, assesses that this is the optimum moment for him to lead the world. Everything he has done and thought in the last several months has prepared him for this moment. He is now at the peak of his experience and sagacity.


See also Favorites above. "Before" and "After" below are before and after the Iraq Study Group (ISG) released its report on Wednesday.

After: Mary Katherine Ham knows a marine who knows the stakes. Actually, she knows several. As to the CESM (ISG) report:

The mission is to lose. Lose slowly, lose “responsibly,” lose diplomatically, but lose without a doubt.

Before: Robert Novak describes President Bush's options in responding to the CESM (ISG) report.

Rich Galen does an interesting job decoding a recent day in the life of some presidents who did and didn't meet.

Victor Davis Hanson writes of Pearl Harbor and its 2001 reprise, and the two corresponding wars.

After: Jonah Goldberg is down on the CESM (ISG) and their report, too, including their singling out the report's bipartisan, allegedly apolitical unanimity as a major selling point.

The commission is making the same core mistake that was made in the Vietnam era: treating a war like a political problem to be haggled, spun and bartered. It may not seem like it because Baker & Co. claim so often to be transcending politics in the name of unity. But in fact, their political values trump everything, including the war.

After: Wesley Pruden uses the term "argle-bargle" (new to me) to describe the report. (I haven't heard that before.) He also says this is a predictable outcome for a group chaired by James Baker III, and he quotes numerous Arab responses. Two excerpts:

The closer someone looks at the fine print, in fact, the more theological it looks -- not the work of "realists" but the predictable spin of partisan advocates.


The Baker-Hamilton panel delivered themselves of 169 pages of argle-bargle in the language so beloved on Capitol Hill, full of rant and second-guessing, accusing many and persuading few. Argle-bargle never packs the punch of the obvious delivered with the bark on. John McCain said it plain: "I don't believe that a peace conference with people who are dedicated to your extinction has much short-term gain." Right on.

National Politics: Presidential Election 2008

Kevin McCollough looks at our political climate and explains why Barack Obama will take the presidential oath of office in January 2009.

Dick Morris wonders who, if anyone, will be an authentic conservative Republican candidate for president in 2008.

Jonah Goldberg doesn't want a rerun. (Neither do I.)

Michael Barone describes two governors: one with presidential ambitions, one not.

Dick Morris contrasts the president he thinks Bill Clinton was with the president Hillary Clinton will be if elected.

National Politics: Everything Else

Mike S. Adams takes what I consider the proper view on Congressman-elect Keith Ellison's intention to take his oath of office with his hand on the Koran: let him.

Care of a glimpse of the political future? Watch whether the White House caves on Social Security or not. Star Parker outlines the problem.

David R. Francis describes the Democrat economic wish list. (My take: small potatoes.)

A Wall Street Journal opinion describes some Senators' attempts to bully the energy industry into silence and cooperation.

Michael Medved notes that the gay agenda is no longer equality, but special privilege.

Paul Weyrich says, Watch for the Democrats to try to revive the Fairness Doctrine, using the FCC to silence conservative talk radio.


Who says the first concern of a public school district is the academic education of children? In Seattle, not even Supreme Court precedents are allowed to interfere with the race-based social agenda. George Will writes.


Here's one of several things Rich Lowry mentions that you'll want to remember as the Democrats rev up their class warfare machine next year:

The key difference between the richest and poorest households, Reynolds finds, is simply work: "Most income in the top fifth of households is from two or more people working full time. Most income in the bottom fifth is from government transfer payments."

John Fund tells how Hong Kong and London are spoiling to replace Wall Street at the top, if they haven't already. Thank Congress.

Janet Novack describes the possibility that the new Congress with authorize states to require out-of-state merchants to collect sales tax on sales to customers in each state.

Thomas Sowell invites us to consider, do we prefer sanctimony or economic good sense?

Maggie Gallagher says no to government-negotiated (read that "controlled") prescription drug prices.

The Culture

Burt Prelutsky tells of a M*A*S*H episode he wrote a long time ago.

Neither cattle nor whiskey, the "Irish bulls" Paul Greenberg collects are relatively safe for ordinary household use, even by minors. I think.

Julia Gorin doesn't find George Clooney sexy at all. (Her blog post is rated PG.)

The fighting men who are out there risking their lives on America's side -- and using guns to do it -- would be surprised to know that a man who partially attributed John Kerry's 2004 defeat to himself not riding in the candidate's cross-country train is even the same gender. They barely see John Kerry as being the same gender.

Thomas Sowell finds a glimmer or two of hope that we have not yet completely lost our sense of right and wrong.

Suzanne Fields explains the the serious problems caused by illegitimacy.

First conservatism, now liberalism. Big surprise (not!): I enjoy Lyle H. Rossiter's view of liberalism as a psychological disorder.

Roger Schlesinger makes an interesting argument for buying the most house you can afford on a15-year, not 30-year, loan.

Does it mean anything about religion in America that the The Nativity Story opened to less viewers than some decidedly less pious pictures? Bill Murchison wonders. (Maybe it's because everyone knows how it ends?)

Now that's truth in advertising: an organization which calls itself the Freedom from Religion Foundation. According to Jay Sekulow, the group is pursuing its agenda before the Supreme Court.

Uh-oh. Will Joel Stein have to apologize for Jesse Jackson . . . for apologizing to Jesse Jackson? Weird century, isn't it?

A light-hearted Paul Greenberg gives us something new to look for in the newspaper.

Here's a little film about beauty (the artificial kind) that's worth seeing and thinking about.

Around the World

Niall Ferguson speaks of a new generation of demagogues -- and past generations and also the meaning of the word. Along the way, he warns:

History's lesson is that personal freedom is all too often the demagogue's first victim, especially when popular sentiment is whipped up against some internal or foreign enemy.

If you're wondering who the next British Prime Minister will be, you'll want to read Matthew d'Ancona.

Max Boot has some ideas for limiting the damage Russian president Vladimir Putin can do in the world.

Charles Krauthammer calls the recent murder of a Russian in London "the ultimate deterrence." Stick around for his final paragraph.

American Fork and Environs

Megan C. Wallgren describes American Fork's newly-renovated City Hall. (I haven't seen it yet. My bad.)

Remember that Ponzi scheme? (No, not Social Security.) Now there are criminal convictions, described in this AP story from Minneapolis.

Here's one more small development in a saga that will get a lot longer: Finally dealing with traffic problems in northern Utah County. Todd Hollingshead reports.

Rosalie Westenskow writes of American Fork's historic bell and its remodeled home.

Some landowners want to leave Pleasant Grove and be annexed into American Fork -- presumably more out of displeasure for the former than love for the latter. Todd Hollingshead reports.

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