David Rodeback's Blog

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Saturday, July 29, 2006
The Week's Excellent Readings

Paul Greenberg, Charles Krauthammer, William Bennett, Orson Scott Card, Tony Blankley, and Greg Crosby lead the list, which has a lot about the Israeli/Hezbollah conflict, but many other good things besides that.


Orson Scott Card makes so many essential points in this analysis of the Middle East that, well, you'll just have to read it yourself. But here's what he comes to after discussing Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. The italics are mine:

For me, there is only one test of candidates for Congress this fall. Do they actively support aggressive opposition to terrorists and terrorist-supporting nations, including the continuation of the occupation and pacification of Iraq? If both candidates fit that description, then of course you can look at other issues. But whenever the choice is between Churchill and Chamberlain, then no other issue really matters, does it?

Paul Greenberg explains how the current Middle East conflict is not -- at least not yet -- an Arab/Israeli conflict.

The same Paul Greenberg here relays reports from friends in Israel.

Charles Krauthammer analyzes the morally bankrupt world response to the war.

One of the most telling things about George Washington's character is what he did, which other victorious generals in history had not done. This is another excerpt from William Bennett's latest book.

William Bennett wonders what is disproportionate in a Middle East filled with people who think other nations should be extirminated. His description of Hezbollah in Lebanon -- actually, he's quoting Amir Taheri from the London Times -- is nearly that of a nation unto itself:

Hezbollah is a state within the Lebanese state. It controls some 25% of the national territory. Almost 400,000 of Lebanon's estimated 4 million inhabitants live under its control. It collects its own taxes with a 20% levy, known as "khoms", on all incomes. It runs its own schools, where a syllabus produced in Iran is taught at all levels. It also runs clinics, hospitals, social welfare networks and centres for orphans and widows.

The party controls the elected municipal councils and appoints local officials, who in theory should be selected by the central government in Beirut. To complete its status as a virtual state, the party maintains a number of unofficial "embassies": the one in Tehran is bigger and has a larger number of staff than that of Lebanon itself.

Hezbollah also has its own media including a satellite television channel, Al-Manar (the lighthouse), which is watched all over the Arab world, four radio stations, newspapers and magazines plus a book publishing venture. The party has its own system of justice based on sharia and operates its own police force, courts and prisons. Hezbollah runs youth clubs, several football teams and a number of matrimonial agencies.

Tony Blankley makes a compelling point:

Most Europeans and far too many Americans still see Hezbollah terrorism as just part of that "Arab Israeli mess" in the Middle East. (And, of course, Hezbollah doesn't want foreigners to stop them from killing). But more importantly, most of the peoples of the world -- including the United States -- still don't believe that radical Islamist terrorism is a grave, worldwide challenge to civilization.

And therein lies our great strategic failure to date. So long as most people -- certainly most Europeans, perhaps most Americans -- see Islamist terrorism as merely the more or less disconnected actions of a relatively small number of fanatics, then Europeans will never send their sons to fight and die to defeat it. And, of course, they particularly won't send their sons to risk death for the "Jewish state" of Israel or the "imperialist" United States. And who can ask any parents to risk sacrificing their sons for some foreigners -- whether despised or not?

President Bush has failed in five years to successfully make the case either to America or to the Western world that we are, in fact, in a mortal, worldwide struggle, what my old boss Newt Gingrich recently called World War III; what I called "The West's Last Chance" in my book last year; and what I and many others have called the clash of civilizations.

Only when that case has been made persuasively will the real struggle for victory begin. Only then will Europe raise armies to fight -- not for Israel or the United States -- but for their own survival.

Greg Crosby has some noteworthy quotations, and I guarantee you won't like some of them -- it's up to you which.

Israel vs. Iran's Puppets (and Modern Warfare Generally)

See also "Favorites" above.

Michael Barone says this time may be different: No one's buying land-for-peace now.

It seems a little odd that we'd still feel the need to defend the USA's or Israel's right to exist, but some question one or the other, and Michael Medved defends both, articulating in the process some thoughts about what makes a nation.

Suzanne Fields pens this reminder of the impropriety of restraint and proportion at present and of what it has meant historically to be a Jew.

Thomas Sowell wonders how World War II would have ended if Americans and others then had implemented the same attitudes and strategies many embrace now.

There's a lot to be said for missile defense, and Frank J. Gaffney says much of it here.

Maggie Gallagher notes the difference between standing for something and accomplishing something; in the process she makes me marvel yet again at Democratic narcissism.

David Warren explodes some common, "beneath the elementary" sorts of myths about the current conflict. Note that even some Arab countries are overtly taking sides opposite the Big Media Acronyms now, in addition to the usual players, the US, Israel, and reality generally. A sad day for the BMA.

Dan Senor explains the Iraqi prime minister's jarring position on this conflict. The essential sentence:

Iraq's new prime minister is not beholden to Mr. Sadr; but Nouri al-Maliki must keep his antenna tuned to how Mr. Sadr might manipulate any move he makes, including coming down on the wrong side of the Hezbollah-Israel conflict. [You'll have to read the article to learn who Mr. Sadr is. Clue: He's backed by Iran.]


Star Parker has some interesting specific details about public and private schools, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), and so forth, but her general point deserves mention, too:

Choice, competition and freedom are core values that define what we are about as a nation. It is troubling to think that we have gotten to the point where these truths are no longer obvious and we have to do research to try and figure out if they are a good idea.

Linda Chavez discusses the testing of teachers and some trouble certain states are about to have with NCLB on that subject.

Charles Murray explains some deception in NCLB's statistical tests. This one belongs in some sort of "how to lie with statistics" hall of fame.

Economics, Taxes, Etc.

Should we have to pay every time we recent some sort of benefit from someone or something? Paul Jacob thinks not.

Alan Reynolds uses Hong Kong as the setting for a pretty good discussion of various forms of taxation and the recent history of one of them.

Rich Karlgaard writes, "It's the spending, stupid!" Amen.

How big a deal is trade on the world stage? Michael Barone will give you an idea.

The Culture

Rich Lowry analyzes recent major court decisions in favor of traditional marriage.

Tom Purcell is nostalgic for the summers of decades past.

Terrence Jeffrey reports on a bill I could get behind, which, for the purpose of protecting the traditional definition of marriage, exploits a little-known clause of the US Constitution allowing Congress to regulate and limit the appellate jurisdiction of federal courts. The mechanism is somewhat technical, but the approach is interesting and innovative.

Lenore Skenazy has a list of grievances against air conditioning, and, as far as I can tell, the only seriously questionable one is global warming. She takes a stab at "all the ways air conditioning has made us a lonelier, chubbier, less-fulfilled country."

Paul Greenberg has some interesting points to make about embryonic stem cell research -- more light than heat, I think, which is better than we usually get on this issue.

If you're willing to overlook Lee Siegel's ritualistic invocation of President Bush's "criminal incompetence" and a few predictable slams at conservatives and Republicans -- a conservative has to do that when reading The New Republic -- he has some very interesting things to say about the political blogosphere.

Betsy Hart thinks wives expect too much of husbands, and I leave that without further comment.

National Politics

Debra J. Saunders identifies Senator Joe Lieberman as the Democrats' version of John McCain.

It is one thing for Democrats to feel superior to rube Republicans who don't like McCain because he is not sufficiently doctrinaire. When, however, a Democrat gets along with Republicans and espouses moderate positions, well then, he is a turncoat, plain and simple. The episode demonstrated how voters value bipartisanship -- from the other side, only.

Doug Wilson discusses the origins of the current overwhelming political incivility in the US and has a suggestion or two for combatting it.

Bruce Bartlett has some useful insights into the political uses of the veto.

Gambling . . . morally wrong, or at least unwise. Federal prohibition of online gambling . . . worse, says Walter Williams. (It's nice to hear someone mention the Tenth Amendment once in a while.)

If the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act is approved, it will become a precedent for congressional control over other aspects of the Internet and an important loss in our liberty.

Will New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg run for president an independent? Apparently, he's contemplating it. (True, he's registered as a Republican, but that was a last-minute marriage of convenience, and everybody knows it.) Paul Weyrich reports.

Jeff Jacoby rants a little about Democrats, Republicans, and race.

Robert Novak paints an unsatisfying picture of federal judicial nominations, in the wake of a few unheralded recent confirmations.

William F. Buckley tells a great story from several decades ago about the federal budget, then discusses more recent spending.


Let's just make a bad situation worse, shall we? Jonah Goldberg reports on a very bad idea in Arizona.

Evgeny Morozov analyzes Russian foreign policy, Russia's developing proxies, and some things the US could do in the region.

Paul Greenberg eulogizes Arkansas' recently departed lieutenant governor, Win Rockefeller.

American Fork and Environs

Susan Whitney of The Deseret News writes about American Fork's City Hall, old buildings that talk, and the people who listen.

Jordan Gunderson rants about Hollywood and CleanFlicks, and makes an important point along the way. It has to do with Hollywood not wanting to give customers what they want. He refers to another blogger's similar thoughts.

Things are exploding in American Fork, according to this brief Deseret News story. Well, one thing did, at least.

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