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Saturday, February 10, 2007
The Week's Excellent Readings

This week's "Favorites" section, top to bottom, is as good as it has ever been, and more fun than usual.


John H. Fund writes that Utah is now leading the way in school choice. He explains in detail the passage of the recent legislation.

Mark Steyn writes of climate change and the associated hysteria.

Yes, of course the endless talk of the 2008 presidential election and the preceding endless campaign, which seems well under way, is getting very tiresome (like this sentence). Try James Lileks as an antidote. His assessment of the candidates is funny -- but not shallow or stupid.

Paul Greenberg writes of self-esteem and self-respect, which he posits are opposites, in a sense. Here are excerpts:

Some of these kids may be all et up with self-esteem, but they're woefully short on self-respect, which is quite another thing. Self-respect flows from self-discipline and the real achievement it leads to. It doesn't depend on psychological gamesmanship. . . .

The mere mention of a religious idea in public has been known to make some of our more advanced thinkers break out in hives and litigation. As for those of us inclined to sneak a biblical allusion into our prose now and then, we need not fear; our "educated" classes may no longer recognize it.

The theory behind the Cult of Self-Esteem is simple: First get the cart, then put it before the horse. Just feel good about yourself and achievement will follow automatically. It would be too much to call this approach instant gratification; it's really more like pre-gratification. . . .

Want to build real self-esteem, the kind that is the fruit of self-respect and not just an inadequate substitute for it?

Expect, even insist on, competence. Don't pretend it's there when it isn't. If that sounds too hard, that's the catch with self-respect - it has to be earned. Self-esteem, on the other hand, costs little or nothing. And it's worth just what you pay for it.

Michael Barone offers a smart essay on military and diplomatic turning points in the Middle East.

John Podhoretz analyzes Rudy Giuliani's potential as a Republican presidential candidate and finds the prospects very promising indeed. Even conservatives want to like Rudy, he says.

Lenore Skenazy's charming essay compares research junkies with the world of fashion. Guess who's in heaven?

There are a lot of Molly Ivins tributes out there just now, for the obvious reason. So far, the one to read is Paul Greenberg's. (Anyone surprised?)

Herman Cain's essay on entitlements may have the best first paragraph of the week:

Entitlement is a disease, much like cancer. I fought and won my personal war against cancer, but have thankfully never suffered from entitlement. If there is indeed a divide in our country, as liberals in both political parties are all too willing to espouse and exploit, it may very well be between those Americans who feel entitled to guarantees of health care, retirement income and protections of their self-defined class, and the rest of us who have read the Constitution.

Max Boot applies some historical wisdom to the notion of surges and counterinsurgency.

Kathleen Parker's intelligent, serious column on pornography -- especially on our not protecting children from it very well -- is not fun to read. At times, if you'll pardon the childish diction, it's rather gross. It's definitely rated PG-13. Read it at your own risk. (But if you can't take this level of discussion, how will you appreciate the threat? And if you don't appreciate the threat, how will we ever intelligently discuss systematically protecting our children from filth?)

Mona Charen catalogs Rudy Giuliani's considerable conservative credentials.


Dinesh D'Souza writes of a turning point in Islamic revolutionary strategy, which led to September 11 -- with a lot of help from the enemy (us), that is.

The conclusion seems unavoidable. The Islamic radicals made the decision to attack America on 9/11 because they decided that America was cowardly and weak. They came to this conclusion largely as a result of the actions -- and inaction -- of the Clinton administration and its allies on the left. What could have been done to get rid of Bin Laden and avert 9/11 was not done. In this sense liberal foreign policy gave radical Muslims the confidence and the opportunity to strike, and they did.

Ian Bremmer explains the long-term benefits to the US of the new Iraq strategy -- even if, as he expects, the troop surge won't ultimately stabilize Iraq.

Kathryn Jean Lopez writes of women who are really oppressed and suggests a useful diversion for celebrities in the bargain.

National Politics

How 'bout that racial double standard? Mary Katherine Ham analyzes it, with a little help from Senator Biden and others.

Paul Jacob shines a scathing light on efforts in some states to circumvent the will of the people.

There's a theme here: Without career politicians, life itself would be impossible. Or so we're told . . . by career politicians.

Writing of John McCain's recent talk of taxes, Robert Novak suggests questions such as, How do you tell when a conversion is real? And what if John McCain alienates his base to tacking to the right?

Dick Morris complains of Senators from both parties who ignore their day job because they're so busy running for president.

Do you know what FCBI is? In case you don't, Tom Bevan explains what it is, before explaining why it might survive in a possible future Democratic White House.

Wesley Pruden writes of the looming Rudy Giuliani campaign. His last few, grating lines are these:

Conservative Republicans . . . have only to decide whether they're frightened most by the terrorist armed with a Koran and a dirty bomb, or by an abortionist and two little men atop the wedding cake.

Kathleen Parker takes a detailed, rather witty look at charges that Mitt Romney is a flip-flopper.

Clarence Page uses Senator Biden's recent foot-in-mouth episode as a stepping stone to larger thoughts.

Tom Bevan takes a detailed look at Gardasil and the new vaccination fascination.

Whether the Senate's recent failure to pass a resolution condemning the troop surge was a Republican victory or a Republican defeat is an open question, writes Robert Novak.

George Will explains an interesting, relatively new trend in Chicago: leasing public assets.

Charles Krauthammer is almost scathing in this essay about the words of politics. An excerpt:

When it came to doing something serious about the surge, the Senate ducked. It unanimously (81-0) approved sending Gen. David H. Petraeus to Baghdad to do the surge -- precisely what a majority of the senators said they did not want done.

If you really oppose the surge, how could you not oppose the appointment of the man whose very mission is to carry it out? Yet not one senator did so. Instead, they spent days fine-tuning the wording of a nonbinding, i.e. entirely toothless, expression of disapproval.

A serious legislative body would not be arguing over degrees of disapproval anyway, but about the elements of three or four alternate plans that might actually change our course in Iraq, something they all say they desire. But instead of making a contribution to thinking through how the war should be either prosecuted or liquidated, they negotiate language that provides precisely the amount of distancing a senator might need as political insulation should the surge either succeed or fail.

Around the World

Ed Feulner describes the developing race with China to weaponize space. (At least China's in the race. Are we?)

What's in a rumor? Richard Halloran writes of North Korea.

Jeff Jacoby catches the UN playing politics with global warming. The report wasn't actually the report, you see.


Walter Williams describes the worldwide connection between freedom and prosperity.

Democratic economic maxims aren't any truer when a Republican president parrots them, as Alan Reynolds explains.

The Culture, Broadly Defined

George Will claims that life is more than football.

Doug Giles wonders why conservatives, including conservative Christians, can't keep up in the realm of comedy. Ironically, it's a funny essay.

Dr. Lyle H.Rossiter psychoanalyzes radical liberalism.

Thomas Sowell explains (as others have before) how The New York Times cooked up its own statistics to show that marriage is a thing of the past.

Rich Galen writes of the Super Bowl, mostly, but not actually about football.

Paul Greenberg writes:

I now realize that, when my young Italian friend asked for the key to understanding America, I should just have handed him a copy of Lincoln's Second Inaugural, and said: "Here it is. Now go and study."

I know the name Lysenko from my extensive academic study of Russia. Now Jack Kelly underscores Lysenko's modern relevance.

American Fork

Amy Choate-Nielsen describes current UDOT plans and related discussion about Main Street and State Street in American Fork.

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