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Saturday, October 14, 2006
This Week's Excellent Readings

It was a good week -- or maybe it was bad, or just interesting. In any case, this week's list of excellent things to read is longer than usual and possibly even better.


Walter Williams offers and excellent explanation of just processes and unequal results. Democrats would certainly prefer that you not read this in an election year.

Matt Towery remembers why former House Speaker Newt Gingrich resigned, and, naturally, it's not what the BMA remember.

With a party begging for brains and action in place of cocky half-wits and slick-looking talking heads, Newt Gingrich is looking more and more like the hero he truly was.

Paul Weyrich writes, and promises to write more soon, on what the new conservatism needs to look like, and why we need it.

Paul Greenberg stands accused of committing inadvertent poetry -- and seems rather giddy about it, if truth be told. (He also scores a point or two for Tocqueville, who is tops in my book, too. Not my book of poets, of course.)

Jack Kelly writes an insightful piece on North Korea, nukes, US foreign policy, China's interests . . . and even the possibility that the first device North Korea exploded was a dud.

Jonah Goldberg, the quintessential well-read conservative commentator, profiles intellectual and popular liberal paranoia about the things people like me allegedly would do if we were in power.

One is tempted to invoke Orwell's dictum that some things are so stupid, only an intellectual could believe them. But, truth is, lots of otherwise normal people believe this stuff.

Tony Blankley speaks candidly and convincingly of elephants and jackasses.

Dennis Prager writes of what is almost a grim historical constant -- except that it is increasing.

If you are debating whether to be optimistic or pessimistic about humanity's future, here is a point to consider: In every generation, especially in the last century, vast numbers of good people -- often the best people -- have been murdered by the worst people.

Forgiving those who hurt you is one thing. Is forgiving those who hurt -- or rape or murder -- someone else a different thing? Jeff Jacoby thinks so.

Paul Greenberg writes of the opportunity costs when "the appeal to reason goes unmade" in our politics.

It's good that at least someone is writing about Christopher Columbus this week. At least, I guess it's good. "Someone" in this case is Tom Purcell.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., writes on what has changed and what hasn't, in the aftermath of a North Korean nuclear test, and has some good ideas for (finally) addressing the problem.

Let's get one thing straight at the outset: The threat North Korea poses today is actually not appreciably different from that the Stalinist regime constituted last week. The difference is that we no longer have the luxury of ignoring it, or dealing with it through feckless "six-party talks," which amounts to the same thing.

Thomas Sowell Is a Favorite

Thomas Sowell writes this week of frivolity in politics. So far, it's  four-part effort.

Here's the first paragraph of Part I.

With a war going on in Iraq and with Iran next door moving steadily toward a nuclear bomb that could change the course of world history in the hands of international terrorists, the question for this year's elections is not whether you or your candidate is a Democrat or a Republican but whether you are serious or frivolous.

Here are two separate excerpts from Part II:

The most that can be said for the current Republicans is that they want to throw away less money than the Democrats. In general, Democrats are the only real reason to vote for Republicans. . . .

Those disappointed Republican voters who plan to stay home on election day to protest their elected officials' failings are seeing politics as a way to vent their personal emotions. That is a frivolous self-indulgence in a deadly serious time for this nation.

In Part III, Sowell offers some thoughts about how Republicans might attract some black voters, and says,

Nowhere is political frivolity more in evidence than in issues involving racial and ethnic groups. Disagree with some policies or demands and you become an instant "racist."

The substance of those policies or demands, and the substance of the objections to them, get lost in an orgy of rhetoric and personal accusations. Racial issues are just one of a growing number of issues where rational discussion has become virtually impossible.

In Part IV, he takes on frivolous voters and a largely frivolous Congress.

Unfortunately, there are too many voters -- in both parties -- who act as if choosing whom to vote for is like choosing sides to cheer or boo at a sports event. . . .

Every opportunity for in-your-face obstructionism has been seized, whether the issue was serious or trivial.

Education: Murder at School, Play Beats Homework, the Math Wars, and More

James Carroll considers the recent school slayings. An excerpt:

The slaying of innocent girls in the sacred precinct of a school is a self-excluding act. However the crime is adjudicated, the man who commits it has banished himself from the human family.

Lenore Skenazy puts its briefly -- the virtue of play over homework, that is.

Orson Scott Card writes of homework more passionately and at greater length. (He cites more sources, too.) Here are Part I and Part II.

Here's a scary page from the math wars by one John Dewey. (Thanks to Oak Norton for the link.)

Mona Charen's look at Columbia University's Teachers College won't surprise or reassure you.

North Korean Nukes

See also "Favorites" above.

Peter Wehner explains why bilateral talks with North Korea are a bad idea. (Folks, if you don't happen to know already, it's time to learn what the word risible means. It's just about the nicest adjective one can use for the Democratic leadership's idea of what to do with North Korea, and Wehner uses it. Are they fools -- the Dems, I mean -- or are they convinced that we are fools, who can't tell the difference between the security of our country and the ascendancy of their party?)

I'm not necessarily an expert, but Jed Babbin's plan sounds really good to me. I also like the tangential insight in this excerpt:

No matter what the president does between now and November 7th, he'll be accused by the Dems and convicted by the media of politicizing every problem he tackles. Mr. Bush's rule should be that if you're pursuing good policy, you should take every political advantage that comes with it. To the charge of politicization, he should plead gleefully guilty while reminding Americans that one of the reasons they voted for him in 2004 was that -- unlike John Kerry -- George Bush is capable of acting without the UN's permission.

Debra J. Saunders spoke with Secretary of State Rice.

James Lileks is on point and somewhat tongue-in-cheek in the bargain. "Poor dears, under such beastly stress."

Charles Krauthammer offers some analysis of the theory, practice, and limits of deterrence. Note his last comments on how deterrence might work until there are two rogue nuclear states.

Foley's Follies and the Aftershocks

Burt Prelutsky is shaking his head at former Congressman Foley's refuge in alcoholism; here's an excerpt. Later he notes one of the meetings of the word congress, which I knew but hadn't thought of. (I wish I had.)

I guess you can't blame Foley for trying to bamboozle us. After all, he's just another in a long line of creeps who have tried to blame drugs and booze for their creepiness, as if Martians had tied them down and forced illegal substances up their noses and down their gullets

Robert D. Novak analyzes the impact of House Speaker Hastert not resigning, and looks into the minds of Republicans who decided not to force the issue.

Paul M. Weyrich, who earlier called for Speaker Hastert to resign, has cooled off and changed his mind.

Kathryn Jean Lopez says we don't need congressional pages, anyway.

And while it's creepy for a congressman to be crying at a congressional-page farewell speech, as Mark Foley did in 2002 -- it's also a little off, to be completely honest, for a teen to spend his youth on Capitol Hill. It's not natural! Play ball. Read the books you won't have the time to read the rest of your life. Spend time listening to the wisdom of your parents -- you won't have them forever. Get involved at school. Do some volunteer work. There will be time to indulge your political passions -- too much time, even! There will be time to spend on the House or Senate floor if you still think that's your calling in a few years. And you know what? You'll be a richer, deeper person for having spent more time in real America before you head for the Hill -- and the Beltway will be better for having a Renaissance you and not a kid who has wanted to be president since he was 12 and filled his resume accordingly.


Terence Jeffrey sorts out the Sunnis and Shiites as clearly and comprehensively as anyone.

Michael Goodwin has James Baker trying to find a middle ground between Republicans and Democrats on Iraq.

Victor Davis Hanson explains some important thoughts on the difference between history and gossip. Note particularly his discussion of using anonymous sources.

Jerry Newberry has a brief report from among US troops in Afghanistan.

National Politics

Robert D. Novak provides ample evidence of this assertion:

Republicans in Congress seem unaffected by their conservative base's anger over pork.

Michael Barone calmly foretells what a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives will look like -- if it happens.

Geoffrey R. Stone lists ten things modern American liberals tend to believe. Nine of them more or less describe me. I am a conservative. I don't think it's a very good or useful list.

Phyllis Schlafly explains, among other things, why the scheme to add one more seat for Utah in the US House of Representatives, in exchange for one for Washington, DC, is on thin constitutional ice.

George Will says the Governator got it right when he vetoed an end run around the Electoral College. In the process, Will offers an excellent, brief defense of that institution.

Robert Novak's lengthy piece adds some details to the Valerie Plame scandal, in which he was a participant, and in the process illustrates the desperate lengths some will go to in perpetuating what everyone already knows is a lie.

Damon Linker writes:

Polls may show Rudy Giuliani in the lead for the Republican nomination in 2008. John McCain may appear to have the political clout to serve as President Bush's anointed successor. But it is Gov. Mitt Romney, the Mormon from Massachusetts, who has captured the imagination of the religious right.

Mike Gallagher doesn't use the word risible like that other guy I mentioned. He goes straight for "fall-off-the-chair-roaring-with-laughter-and-rolling-around-on-the-floor . . . funny" in this commentary on the notion that the Democrats have the moral high ground this month.

The Culture

Leonard Pitts, Jr., mourns the death of a good man and the segment of society he aimed to save.

Alan Sears writes -- tell me this does not describe contemporary America familiar --

One of the more potent (and predictable) side effects of forcibly removing religion from public life, public conversation, and yes, public schools, is that society gradually loses touch with the religious dimensions of life.

We forget how to talk about faith... we misinterpret other people's religious actions and conversation... we underestimate faith's powerful influence in the lives of those who still take their deepest beliefs seriously.

Suzanne Fields catalogs recent interesting developments in the scientific understanding of -- perish the thought! -- male-female differences.

Is the human response to music an argument against evolution (meaning the theory that humans evolved from lower life forms, not the obvious fact that species evolve)? Chuck Colson says so.

Dan Neil's "Huckleberry TV" begs to be read on the strength of the title alone. His destination is RFD-TV, described in the following excerpt, but he gets there via a reference to having breakfast with 100,000 lesbians. He ends up thinking he might buy and train a mule.

Should you ever tire of the slickly packaged, compulsively hip and cynically commercial feel of televised entertainment, RFD-TV will feel like a corny oasis.

Marvin Olasky explains that the Nazis were not Christians, and that most Christians are not extremists. Would that others would explain this too . . .

For any Mormon with a sense of humor, here's a song someone sent me. (Mormons without a sense of humor should read some other blog. You will not be happy here. Then again, maybe you don't want to be.)

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

See Dennis Prager's article under "Favorites" above.

Bill Murchison notes a parallel on his way to this final sentence:

Now wouldn't be exactly the worst time in the world for Americans to ... grow up.

Bill Bennett writes of a diplomatic crisis in 1861 which somehow sounds more modern. Note that crises rarely have the good manners to line up in single file.

Dennis Prager writes of a grim historical constant.

If you are debating whether to be optimistic or pessimistic about humanity's future, here is a point to consider: In every generation, especially in the last century, vast numbers of good people -- often the best people -- have been murdered by the worst people.

Mark Steyn weighs in on the congressional page flap. Beware of coarse language. Here are three excerpts (of the weighing in, not the coarse language):

I'm a foreigner, so I might not be up to speed on how things work around here. But, insofar as I understand it after the last week, American politics is divided between: teenage pages; guys who are hot for teenage pages; guys who are enablers for guys who are hot for teenage pages; guys who devote inordinate time and effort to entrapping guys who are hot for teenage pages; guys who are rattled by guys accusing them of having devoted insufficient time and effort to nailing the guys who are hot for teenage pages and get panicked into holding press conferences. . . .

What an awesome force the Dems would be if only the ruthless skill and cunning that went into this operation could be applied to, say, national security. . . .

This last week is unbecoming of a mature democracy. In the wider world, America can survive being the Great Satan, but not the Great Laughingstock.

In this case, that thing is "extreme mentoring," a sport President Clinton popularized from the Oval Office. But John H. Fund also writes of an important, constant force on Capitol Hill: congressional staff, who exert tremendous influence on government, largely without accountability.

Uh-oh, is Bob Woodward getting caught with his facts down -- again? Jack Kelly says so.

Are we fighting terrorists and tyrants or not? Caroline Glick may make you wonder.

Ross Kaminsky identifies something ugly at Columbia University that is constant through generations.


See Walter Williams' offering under "Favorites."

Paul Johnson has some intriguing thoughts about the relative virtues of borrowing and lending.

Alan Reynolds offers an excellent essay on "technological provincialism," and offers evidence in the process that at least three of ten Americans need some remedial help in government, economics, or logic. (Note: Conspiracy theories tend to be both intellectually lazy and untrue.)

Frankly, Larry Elder won't increase your faith in the average American intellect, but he's worth reading anyway.

International Miscellany

Jay Sekulow reports that the European Court of Human Rights made the right decision in a recent case of interest, and they did it unanimously.

Max Boot reports that Americans have been idealists and interventionists in foreign policy for as long as there have been Americans. The opposite stance is more European.

Caroline B. Glick profiles the anti-Israel lobby in the US and their influence, including some signs of influence on the Bush Administration.

The secretary of state of a president who was once friendlier to Israel than any of his predecessors now claims that the establishment of a state for a people who have distinguished themselves as the most overtly pro-jihad, terrorist society in the world, would be the greatest thing American could ever do.

Local Interest (Maybe)

Yawn. Fergie visited American Fork this week. Yawn. At least it wasn't a state visit.

Caleb Warnock describes the American Fork broadband deal.

Amy Choate-Nielsen reports on the current American Fork/Pleasant Grove boundary and development negotiations.

I liked the Cabo Grill, too, and I'm glad it's back. Rodger Hardy reports.

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