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Saturday, December 16, 2006
The Week's Excellent Readings

Two Favorites sections this week: Iraq and everything else. And a lot of other stuff, too, of course. Read what interests you. It's a relatively free country.

Favorites: CESM (look it up)

Paul Greenberg suggests that honor might best be our guide with respect to Iraq, that we should keep our word. (It seems odd to me that Senator John McCain should be this course's exponent, but let's give credit where credit is due.)

As is so often the case, Mark Steyn gets it just about right, and allows us to have a little fun reading, too. Don't expect his several alternative renderings of ISG (here at the blog, CESM) to be very complimentary. The analysis here doesn't sound-bite well, but here's an excerpt to show the general tenor of his thoughts:

If they're lucky, this document will be tossed in the trash and these men and women will be the laughingstocks of posterity. But, if it's not shredded and we embark down this path, then the Baker group will be emblematic of something far worse.

Charles Krauthammer hails the CESM debacle as a prime opportunity for President Bush to do something other than what the CESM report suggests. He begins:

As a result of the Iraq Study Group, President Bush has been given one last chance to alter course on Iraq. This did not, however, come about the way James Baker intended. It came about because the long-anticipated report turned out to be such a widely agreed-upon farce. From its wildly hyped, multiple magazine-cover rollout (Annie Leibovitz in Men's Vogue, no less) to its mishmash of 79 (no less) recommendations, the report has fallen so flat that the field is now clear for the president to recommend to a war-weary country something new and bold.

Jack Kelly's look at the CESM recommendations features Paris Hilton, Thomas Jefferson, JFK, a Hooters restaurant, and some sound thinking.

Caroline B. Glick's commentary on Iran, Syria, and Iraq doesn't get any more cheerful after this dark beginning:

When the history of our times is written, this week will be remembered as the week that Washington decided to let the Islamic Republic of Iran go nuclear. Hopefully it will also be remembered as the moment the Jews arose and refused to allow Iran to go nuclear.

With the publication of the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group chaired by former US secretary of state James Baker III and former congressman Lee Hamilton, the debate about the war in Iraq changed. From a war for victory against Islamofascism and for democracy and freedom, the war became reduced to a conflict to be managed by appeasing the US's sworn enemies in the interests of stability, and at the expense of America's allies.

Baker and his associates claim that the US cannot win the war in Iraq and so the US must negotiate with its primary enemies in Iraq and throughout the world - Iran and Syria - in the hopes that they will be persuaded to hold their fire for long enough to facilitate an "honorable" American retreat from the country.

Favorites: Other Topics

According to Michael Medved, Hanukah isn't what you think, and it's a lot more relevant to the 21st Century than you knew.

Michael Barone writes of lobbying and says the problem isn't that Constitutionally-protected petitioning of elected officials. It's big government.

Paul Jacob writes of baseball, art, cities funding projects, volunteerism, and other topics, all intertwined in a large city well to the east of Utah. The best lines:

I can imagine the solons and their sycophants thinking, perhaps even saying out loud: We can't do these great things for the people if we let those unwashed masses decide whether or not we can spend their money on our big ideas.

Emily Parker writes of noteworthy Japanese author Haruki Murakami, his fiction, and the role of the fiction writer in national politics and national memory.

On the way to wishing us all a merry Christmas, Burt Prelutsky has a few candid thoughts for his own about religious intolerance. An excerpt:

Although it seems a long time ago, it really wasn't, that people who came here from other places made every attempt to fit in. Assimilation wasn't a threat to anyone; it was what the Statue of Liberty represented. E pluribus unum, one out of many, was our motto. The world's melting pot was our nickname. It didn't mean that any group of people had to check their customs, culture or cuisine, at the door. It did mean that they, and especially their children, learned English, and that they learned to live and let live.

That has changed, as you may have noticed. And I blame my fellow Jews. When it comes to pushing the multicultural, anti-Christian, agenda, you find Jewish judges, Jewish journalists, and the ACLU, at the forefront.

George Will says that if Barack Obama wants to be president, 2008 is the year to run. Will's reasons are quite interesting.

Michael Barone describes the differences in the two parties' approaches to committee leadership in the US House of Representatives.


See also "Favorites: CESM" above.

Michael Barone says the CESM (my term for the Iraq Study Group) offers too much carrot and not enough stick. He also suggests Alaska as a model for Iraq on one point.

On one hand, Armstrong Williams is admirably concerned about Afghanistan. On the other, he's swallowed the CESM report hook, line, and sinker.

Writing for The New Yorker, Hendrik Hertzberg gleefully reads the introductory matter of the CESM report as a stinging rebuke not only of President Bush's Iraq policy, but also of his foreign policy generally. The recommendations themselves, he admits, slip sometimes into incoherence . . .

Paul Greenberg recasts the CESM report as a report to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943.

Wesley Pruden's thoughts on human "contributor[s] of worldwide flatulence" are not very complimentary to Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, the CESM, and others. He's really talking about the war on Islamic Fascism, but don't read this if his methane-laced approach offends you.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., highlights James Baker's imperious stance in and since releasing the CESM report, and suggests that if President Bush refuses to embrace the really dangerous recommendations, he will enjoy bipartisan support. (Meanwhile, the other side is saying that if he accepts everything, that's what he'll get.)

Michelle Malkin reports on one small victory in the stateside war on Islamic Fascists and discusses an ongoing threat.

Tony Blankley has a message for President Bush. Along the way, he calls the CESM report "a cynical document intended to build a political consensus for 'honorable' surrender." Here's how the message ends:

Lincoln was alone in the self-same rooms now occupied by George Bush. All his cabinet and all his military advisors had counseled a path Lincoln thought would lead to disaster. He was only a month in office and judged by most of Washington -- including much of his cabinet -- to be a country bumpkin who was out of his league, an accidental president. Alone, and against all advice he made the right decision -- as he would do constantly until victory.

Mr. President, you are not alone. The ghost of Old Abe is on your shoulder. God Bless you and Merry Christmas.

Victor Davis Hanson offers several reasons why counting on productive talks with Iran is a bad idea.

Matt Towery reports on Newt Gingrich's recent labors to talk sense about Iraq.

Mona Charen's discussion of Jimmy "Communism-isn't-so-bad-and-the-real-Middle-East-problem-is-Israel" Carter makes me wonder why he, too, wasn't on the distinguished CESM panel.

Diana West wonders if we shouldn't just get out of the way, let the Sunnis and Shiites fight each other, and use the respite to plan the next round.

National Politics

Bartle Bull -- a great name for a columnist -- says that Rudy Giuliani is the new Bobby Kennedy.

Jennifer Roback Morse suggests a small step Republicans can make toward clearing up the immigration mess.

Robert Novak updates us on the little civil war erupting on Capitol Hill over pork. There's good news and bad news.

Harry R. Jackson, Jr., has some interesting thoughts about how Republicans might approach 2008, assuming they want to win, that is.

Walter Williams writes of the Fair Tax, which he doesn't think will ever happen.

Carol Platt Liebau has a modest proposal that makes a lot of sense, and also comments on an interesting development in the weird, wacky world of legal immigration.

Don't look now, but apparently we're supposed to suppress all opposition to Al Gore's earth-worship, by whatever means necessary. (Please, folks, if you have to make science into a religion -- a bad idea -- it's just that much worse if you use junk science!) Paul Driessen comments.

John H. Fund tells us some things to look for to see whether Speaker-elect Pelosi really intends to keep her oft-repeated promise to clean up the House of Representatives, ethically speaking. Buried in a very informative article is this morsel, which is delicious all by itself and is good news for good government:

A McLaughlin & Associates exit poll found that even among voters who supported Democrats for Congress last month, a 45% to 40% plurality said they favored having a smaller government that delivers fewer services over a larger government that offers many services.

Debra J. Saunders updates several points in the global warming / greenhouse gas discussion.

Jack Kemp remembers the recently-departed Jeanne Kirkpatrick.

Rich Galen writes in "Two Reports, One Conclusion":

Two reports were released last week: The Baker-Hamilton Commission report on how to save the world; and the report of the House Ethics Committee on the Mark Foley disaster.


Both of these reports lead to the same conclusion: The Republic is in trouble.

Dick Morris thinks Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi may be learning.

Terence Jeffrey seems to disagree, given whom Pelosi has anointed to lead the House Intelligence Committee..

Robert Novak evaluates the current state of John McCain's presidential candidacy.

Around the World

Niall Ferguson writes of Jeanne Kirkpatrick and dictators.


What do you do when the facts and the opinions based on those facts are simply wrong, in the field of political economics (where politics gets the front seat)? Alan Reynolds writes:

I have no idea what to conclude from a set of made-up statistics that supposedly make the economy of 1996 appear 3.5 times worse than 1974, except that political scientists should not tinker with economics.

The Culture

Kevin McCullough writes a thoughtful article on the sociopolitical phenomenon of gay couples having children, an issue which is now all the rage to discuss, what with the Vice President's daughter being pregnant and all. (Note: Obviously, her lesbian "life partner" is not the biological father.)

What is fair? Good question. Thorny question. Here Matt Woolsey raises the question with respect to big money in college football.

Tom Purcell takes issue with the "Man" in "Man Bag."

Jeff Jacoby opines about transfat Nazis (not the same as fat Transnazis, I suppose) and other threats to freedom.

Debra J. Saunders explains how the same-sex marriage lobby is proving its critics right again.

Kirsten Powers is not happy about the state of affairs on the doll aisle at the toy store. I don't blame her.

Read why Kathleen Parker asks,

If we're willing to sacrifice mothers and abandon the next generation, what sort of civilization, exactly, are we trying to preserve?


Andrew Ferguson writes of two recent reports on the state of American education, including the math wars' connection to teacher education.

There's a dirty little secret behind fuzzy math. The technique didn't become popular just because it supposedly made math easier to learn. It became popular because it made math easier to teach.

Indeed, a teacher didn't have to know much of anything to guide students blindly though a fuzzy math curriculum.

Mike S. Adams gushes over Pepperdine University. (He also thinks feminists with three-digit IQs are unimaginable, but I have known and worked with some. Can't win them all.)

Not that Capitol Hill Democrats will listen to Star Parker, but she says, among other interesting things:

If the newly crowned Democrats want to do better than Republicans, they should start with education. Barney Frank thinks that the nation's No. 1 problem is worrying what every one else is earning. The nation's No. 1 problem is the public school monopoly and what it is doing to inner city kids.

Thomas Sowell says that the mystical benefits of diversity in schools are non-existent, and the US Supreme Court is conducting a farce.

Henry Edmondson writes of "middle schoolism" and the academic decline which begins in middle schools.

American Fork

Megan C. Wallgren's article on the newly-released Betty Spencer history of American Fork includes a number of insights from the historian herself.

American Fork officials are holding up a intercity agreement on the Tri-City Golf Course because (gasp!) they want more information. Todd Hollingshead reports.

This Sam Penrod story raises questions like, "Who owns the driveway?" "Who owns the railroad crossing?" "Who owns the rail line?"

Megan C. Wallgren reports on a little zoning battle in an American Fork neighborhood. (This one raises questions like, "Is a duplex a better neighbor than a small professional office?" "How much of public responses to such matters is knee-jerk, and how much is based on actually thinking about actual facts?")

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