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Saturday, January 27, 2007
The Week's Excellent Readings

There's much discussion of President Bush's State of the Union speech and the issues it touched, but a lot of other good stuff, too.

Favorites: Everything but the State of the Union Speech

Orson Scott Card's essay from a couple of weeks ago on President Bush's speech about the war in Iraq (and beyond) is must-read, both for its picture of how and why events have transpired and what we should do now. (Card is a Democrat, by the way.) One excerpt:

So the real question for Americans right now is: Would you rather fight the war now, in Iraq, with policies that will lead to victory, and with a military that has high morale and is prepared to do what is necessary to win?

Or would you rather fight it later, with the kind of anti-military, anti-victory President that the Democrats are almost certain to nominate in 2008, and with a demoralized military that will have to regain all the ground we already hold right now, and at a far higher cost?

It is not a choice between war and peace. It is a choice between a victory in defense of Western civilization, particularly America, or a defeat that will lead to a far more desperate war later -- and with far less economic strength behind us as we fight it.

George Will takes an insightful and rather witty look at the airline industry. His explanations have the indispensible virtue of clarity.

Steven Malanga makes a case you don't hear every day: Rudy Giuliani is a conservative.

In a GOP presidential field in which cultural and religious conservatives may find something to object to in every candidate who could really get nominated (and, more important, elected), Giuliani may be the most conservative candidate on a wide range of issues. Far from being a liberal, he ran New York with a conservative's priorities: government exists above all to keep people safe in their homes and in the streets, he said, not to redistribute income, run a welfare state, or perform social engineering. The private economy, not government, creates opportunity, he argued; government should just deliver basic services well and then get out of the private sector's way. He denied that cities and their citizens were victims of vast forces outside their control, and he urged New Yorkers to take personal responsibility for their lives. "Over the last century, millions of people from all over the world have come to New York City," Giuliani once observed. "They didn't come here to be taken care of and to be dependent on city government. They came here for the freedom to take care of themselves." It was that spirit of opportunity and can-do-ism that Giuliani tried to re-instill in New York and that he himself exemplified not only in the hours and weeks after 9/11 but in his heroic and successful effort to bring a dying city back to life.

How important could quotations from a couple of dead white guys, William Shakespeare and H. L. Mencken, really be? Very important, in this case. Walter Williams applies them to the current religious fervor over alleged human-caused global warming. (You may already have realized that my previous sentence qualifies me as a war criminal, in some environmentalists' view.) Williams also quotes a letter signed last year by "60 prominent scientists," which says in part:

Observational evidence does not support today's computer climate models, so there is little reason to trust model predictions of the future. . . . Significant [scientific] advances have been made since the [Kyoto] protocol was created, many of which are taking us away from a concern about increasing greenhouse gases. If, back in the mid-1990s, we knew what we know today about climate, Kyoto would almost certainly not exist, because we would have concluded it was not necessary. . . .

It was only 30 years ago that many of today's global-warming alarmists were telling us that the world was in the midst of a global-cooling catastrophe. But the science continued to evolve, and still does, even though so many choose to ignore it when it does not fit with predetermined political agendas.

Dean Barnett tells of some Republicans who are finally acting out their anger with Republican "Congresscritters," and doing so in a reasonable way. Here is his conclusion:

The time has long since come when Republican voters should demand that their office-holders be serious about the war. The anti-surge resolution is a frivolous thing, a pathetic exercise in rear-end covering. While differences regarding the war tactics urged by the White House are fair game, nakedly playing politics with matters of life and death is not.

The sooner the Republican Party gets serious about the war, the better it will be for both the country and the party.

Obviously the Republican Senate caucus isn't capable of taking the lead in showing such resolve. But perhaps Congressional Republicans will be able to follow the lead of their supporters, supporters who are very serious about becoming "former supporters" if the party continues on its current trajectory.

Jonah Goldberg explains:

Democrats love The Children.

Well, I don't.

In truth, I do love kids. But it's the "the" in The Children that's the problem. It transforms children into a principle for which any violation of limited government is justified.

<big snip>

Children are hugely important. But they shouldn't be a Trojan horse for policies you can't sell fair and square. If saying so makes me anti-child, so be it.

You'll want to read what brings Maggie Gallagher to write:

It takes many years in Washington before a man becomes brave enough to publicly admit that the way he finds out what the American people really want is to consult imaginary voices living in his head. But my goodness, it certainly explains a lot about that town, doesn't it?

Ken Blackwell writes of victory and defeat, and the battles that never end. Don't miss the excellent Elie Wiesel quotation near the end.

Flemming Rose and Bjorn Lomborg are two guys Al Gore will not debate, because they accuse him of distorting, inventing, and ignoring evidence in his single-minded pursuit of an environmentally obsessed, economically suicidal -- and, please note, homocidal -- world.

Victor Davis Hanson explains a serious, long-term solution for illegal immigration that isn't talked about much these days.

Thomas Sowell explains that greed makes a flimsy economic theory.

Pete du Pont explains the sham of "pay as you go."

The most important goal of the new Democratic congressional majority is establishing a liberal national economic policy: bigger government and higher taxes. Spend more even than the Republicans have been spending (an annual 7.2% increase during the Bush years), and raise rather than lower tax rates.

Daniel Henninger writes that our pessimism is contributing to our defeat in Iraq, and he explains its roots.

Favorites: State of the Union

John Podhoretz calls the speech gracious, and says President Bush found a new political voice. During his interesting analysis, Podhoretz notes that Democrat behavior strongly suggested they don't want to win in Iraq.

Larry Kudlow offers his own survey of the economic state of the Union.

Paul Greenberg waxes eloquent about the speech, current circumstances, political calculation, etc.

Ben Stein's lynch mob detector is going off. This is an insighful article.

Alan Reynolds takes apart the bizarre, imaginative, and very familiar economic claims in Senator Webb's response.

Robert Novak reports that President Bush already had Senator Reid's and Speaker Pelosi's rejection in his pocket when he mentioned forming a bipartisan advisory council on the war. Here's the beginning of the article:

When President Bush in his State of the Union address Tuesday night called for a bipartisan "special advisory council" of congressional leaders on the war against terrorism, he had in his pocket a rude rejection from Democratic leaders. Thank you very much, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but no thank you.

Three days earlier, Reid and Pelosi wrote a letter to the president, turning down his offer (contained in his Jan. 10 speech on Iraq) to establish a council consisting of Democratic chairmen and Republican ranking members of the relevant committees. "We believe that Congress already has bipartisan structures in place," they said, adding: "We look forward to working with you within existing structures."

That could be the most overt snub of a presidential overture since Abraham Lincoln was told that Gen. George B. McClellan had retired for the night and could not see the president. Courtesy aside, it shows that the self-confident Democratic leadership is uninterested in being cut into potentially disastrous outcomes in Iraq.

Steve Chapman isn't crazy about the energy portion of the peach.

Michael Barone offers a good play-by-play, in reverse, of the speech, including notes on who applauded what. This is best read after you've been through the speech itself.

Michelle Malkin takes up the immigration section of the President's speech. Note that she doesn't believe him -- as many conservatives don't -- when he says there will be no amnesty, partly because she seems to believe that a guest worker program is amnesty. (At least at the end of the piece she suggests that there's more to solving the problem than building a fence.) Along the way, she also notes the important fact that we don't have the functioning bureaucracy necessary to solve this problem.

What President Bush didn't mention in the State of the Union address is that every part of the current legal immigrant applicant machinery that would be tasked with implementing the "guest worker" illegal alien amnesty is backlogged and broken.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., describes the urgency and importance of President Bush using his State of the Union address to turn small minds to the unpleasant facts.

Linda Chavez explains the medical insurance proposals in the speech.


Want to read what happens when a conservative book hits a liberal nerve squarely? Read Alan Wolfe on the new Dinesh D'Souza book -- an excerpt from which was listed here among last week's favorites. Stalin, Satan, McCarthy -- these, supposedly, are D'Souza's heroes, based on the Wolfe's reading of the book. Maybe if they call him enough names . . . 

Here Dinesh D'Souza himself explains several liberal myths that just ain't so, where Iraq, Iran, Osama bin Laden, and Islam are concerned.

Michelle Malkin and others have caught the Associated Press with its facts down -- again. Some mosques AP reported were blown up . . . weren't. And there's more. (Good grief. Facts mean nothing. Obey your politics . . .)

Even the Left gets it right sometimes. Senator Barbara Boxer apparently has decided that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is not a nice organization. Joel Mowbray explains.

Benny Morris describes the second Holocaust, "in five or 10 years' time."

Lorie Byrd doesn't pull any punches. She says the Democrats don't want victory in Iraq.

Jeff Emanuel writes of al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and its recent plans for attacks in the US.

Around the World

Masha Lipman describes Russia's economic and political conditions.

Austin Bay reports on the ongoing stabilization of the Balkans, eight years after the war, and suggests a lesson or two for application in Iraq.

Paul Weyrich explains that the international race to militarize space is on, even if the Left in the US doesn't care to believe it.

Writing of Israel, Caroline B. Glick explains that rule of law and rule of lawyers are opposites.

National Issues: More on the Speech

Hugh Hewitt identifies the key paragraph in the President's speech and offers a flattering historical comparison.

Charles Krauthammer says the energy independence proposals are useless, and says there are three things we can do now: tax gas, drill in the Arctic, and use nuclear power. He finishes this way:

Our debates about oil consumption, energy dependence and global warming are not meant to be serious. They are meant for show.

Perhaps President Bush should have engaged Michael Medved to help with the speech?

Jonathan Alter gushes about Senator Jim Webb's response for the Democrats.

Jonah Goldberg notes that, when the Democrats had a chance to applaud the notion of victory in Iraq, they sat on their hands.

Mona Charen saw them sitting on their hands, too. Here are two paragraphs, one from near the beginning, then the last.

The Republicans in the room rose to their feet and applauded. The majority party members remained planted in their seats. So there it is, stark and unmistakable, the Democrats do not wish to win in Iraq and will do nothing to further the cause of victory. As Speaker Nancy Pelosi said upon taking the gavel, "Iraq is not a war to be won but a situation to be managed."


Drawing the lessons from our 20th-century confrontation with totalitarian menaces, Ronald Reagan counseled that weakness is provocative. That insight is eternal. Today, America has the economic and military capacity to lead the world -- but our psychological fitness for the part is in serious doubt. There is no end to the malevolent forces who will be eager to fill the role if we decline it -- and we will find a world dominated by them far more horrifying than anything we face in Iraq.

National Issues: 2008 Presidential Race

Jonathan V. Last says Mitt Romney has some hurdles to clear, but -- and I think this is intended as a compliment -- he also says:

Romney is a seriously great politician. In fact, he might well be the GOP's Bill Clinton, only without the personal baggage. Should Republicans decide they need a Clinton to beat a Clinton in 2008, then Romney could be their man.

Michael Barone muses on the flaws in our method of selecting presidential candidates, and therefore presidents, and what, if anything, we can do about it.

Joan Vennochi discusses John McCain's worries about Mitt Romney and his possible courses of action.

Barack, Hillary, Iraq, the BMA . . . Mark Steyn melds them all into a commentary on our postmodern politics.

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann write that the major Democratic presidential candidates are racing each other to the left.

Don't look now, but they're monkeying with the presidential primaries. Peter A. Brown reports.

Neal Boortz describes the Hillary Clinton the BMA won't portray. Warning: This blog post is not for people who think we should always say nice things about everybody. It is caustic in tone and unflattering in its description of New York's junior Senator.

Bill Murchison explains that policy matters more than race or sex.

Mr. Tony Blankley is not buying Ms. Hillary Rodham Clinton's renewed desire to have a nice chat. He's a bit tongue-in-cheek and somewhat sarcastic at times, but he has a point about the presidency.

Jeff Jacoby calls Democratic presidential candidates' silence on the war dangerous.

So if you're Hillary, and you're running for President, what do you do with Bill? Michael Medved explores the possibilities.

National Issues: The New Congress

George Will profiles Barney Frank, the new chair of the House Financial Services Committee and his unusually coherent, unusually liberal thoughts.

Robert Novak explains the damage which will be done by the House's newly-passed student loan bill, if it becomes law. (One more 100-hour fraud.)

Jonathan Gurwitz tries to figure out what the Democrats will do after the "first 100 hours."

National Issues: Everything Else

Did you know the tomato needs to be liberated? Paul Jacob explains one very small recent step for tomatokind.

Paul Greenberg writes that judges should be very, ahem, judicious in their public speeches.

Debra J. Saunders describes the political difficulty of limiting the California state government's spending, and throws some thoughts our way about public transit in the process.

James J. Kilpatrick recounts recent arguments before the US Supreme Court in a teachers' union case.

David Strom notes that we're about to get another warning about the end of the world.

It has become part of the background noise in our daily lives: the constant refrain that the world is rushing headlong into certain doom.

A doom, that is, that you will suffer unless you hand control of the economy and your daily lives over to the very elite that is warning of the impending disaster: the media, the left-leaning political class, and academics. As long as we surrender to the tender mercies of their magnanimity and good will, all might yet be well with the world.


See also "Favorites" above. 

Donald Lambro offers a clear explanation of the well-known but unintended consequences of raising the minimum wage. Here, he summarizes:

Perhaps no other so-called economic reform has been studied more than the impact of the minimum wage on poor-to-low income, unskilled, undereducated, unemployed Americans. The preponderance of these studies has shown time and again that raising the minimum wage does not live up to its promises. It doesn't create employment for those it is supposed to help; it reduces employment. It doesn't help the most vulnerable Americans, especially poor minorities; it worsens their plight.


Phyllis Schlafly explains that nationalizing the public schools is really not what we need to do, thank you very much.

Henry T. Edmondson III offers some educational insights, inspired by a visit to Italy.

The Culture, Broadly Defined

Orson Scott Card offers a long and thoughtful essay on parenting and children, a pet topic.

Clarence Page pays tribute to the late Art Buchwald.

Paul Greenberg remembers a colorful uncle.

Unspam Technologies, a Park City software company, is using Bayesian analysis to predict the best and worst films of this year's Sundance Film Festival. Some folks clearly have more fun with math than others.

Debra J. Saunders reports on a California state legislator who wants to make spanking a child a crime. Her party affiliation will not surprise you.

Jennifer Roback Morse has some thoughts on spanking, too.

Clear Registered Traveler may get you through the airport quicker.

George Will defends Jon Will's right to life. Here's the last paragraph:

Jon experiences life's three elemental enjoyments—loving, being loved and ESPN. For Jon, as for most normal American males, the rest of life is details.

James J. Kilpatrick insists that since is not an acceptable synonym of because, no matter what the dictionaries say.

Lenore Skenazy spent the afternoon giving away twenties, in honor of Larry Stewart.

Suzanne Fields suggests that a women without a man may not be like a fish without a bicycle.


According to this brief Deseret News article, John Dougall (R-American Fork) is proposing that local governments be required to maintain e-mail lists for notifying residents of public meetings. That amendment may actually kill a bill that would otherwise wrench required meeting notifications closer to the twenty-first century.

Congressman Chris Cannon received a less than ideal reception at the Utah State Legislature, according to this Alan Choate story.

American Fork, American Fork, and Thereabouts

Stephen Speckman writes of Slamdance and American Fork.

Bob Mims reports on one sign that Utah's high-tech sector might be slowing down.

According to Barbara Christiansen, the answer to American Fork's problem with noxious air in the pool bubble is ultraviolet light, and the price tag is $60,000.

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