Sunday, February 09, 2003

Power Line has moved to its new home: www.powerlineblog.com

Please join us there.
I have frequently noted that the Claremont Review of Books is my favorite magazine. I've been working my way through the winter issue for the past few months, and taken all together the issue by itself is something like an education in American political thought and history. It is an incredibly impressive magazine, now available on newsstands in good bookstores like Barnes and Noble and St. Paul's Bound To Be Read.

City Journal is the quarterly publication of the Manhattan Institute. Physically, it is a beautiful magazine, surely the most beautiful public policy magazine in the country. The contents of the magazine are also outstanding. The winter issue of the magazine is a good example. Among the fine articles in the issue are Kay Hymowitz's essay on "Why feminism is AWOL on Islam" and Stefan Kanfer's essay on Cole Porter, "The voodoo that he did so well." Steven Malanga's "How the 'living wage' sneaks socialism into cities" belongs in our continuing series on "studies in liberal governance."

I previously posted Tom Wolfe's tribute to the Manhattan Insititute, but it's worth an encore in this context: "Revolutionaries."
Like Maryland Governor Bob Erhrlich (see below), President Bush has some serious proposals for educational reform. Here, Deborah Simmons of the Washington Times discusses his proposal to give states and parents greater control over early childhood educational programs, and the resistance he faces from Democrats and special interest groups that want to cling to the federally mandated Head Start approach. According to Simmons, studies show that, although solid learning may occur in Head Start programs, whatever academic acumen Head Start students bring into the classroom as kindergarteners or first-graders is too often lost by third or fourth grade. President Bush would like to address this problem by giving individual school districts and families more say in intergrating what is taught to pre-schoolers with the overall educational program of the particular school district. But this common-sense approach would mean less federal control. Thus it may prove unacceptable to Democrats.
Reader Steve Nygard alerted us to this sign that the nude anti-war protest movement continues to grow. Unfortunately, these women overlooked the disadvantages of nudity in New York in February; their turnout wasn't quite enough to spell "Bush."
Republicans are trying to address the parlous state of the public schools that serve minority populations (see the postings below). For example, Maryland's new Republican Governor, Bob Ehrlich, is forging ahead with his plan to bring charter schools to Maryland, according to this editorial in the Washington Times. As noted in the Washington Times news story posted below, Prince Georges County Maryland, a predominantly African-American area in suburban Washington, D.C., is one of the two main areas in the United States where blacks have turned to home-schooling in order to escape from the public schools. Yet, Erhlich is already facing bruising opposition from Democrats and education bureaucrats as he tries to implement meaningful reform.
Read this column by Cal Thomas in conjunction with the story below about home-schooling. Thomas reports on the inability of New York City public schools to teach students to read. According to Thomas, 60 to 70 percent of black and Hispanic children in New York City are illiterate. Percentages one-third that large would be disgraceful. Referring to the bumper sticker that says "If you can read this, thank a teacher," Thomas asks who one should thank if one cannot read. Teachers' unions, education bureaucrats, and Democratic politicians would be my leading candidates.
The Washington Times reports that an increasing number of black families are choosing to home-school their children. Blacks now make up 5 percent of the estimated 1.7 million children who were home-schooled last year. In 1999, it was estimated that blacks repesented only 1 percent of home-schooled children. The increase is the logical consequence of (a) the horrendous state of the public schools available to many African-Americans and (b) the unwillingness of African-American and other Democratic politicians to countenance public funding of alternative schools.
This AP story is typical of many we will be seeing as budget battles are fought in many states:

"Ernie Bulls and Gloria Padilla pose on their couch in their living room in New Haven, Conn., Thursday, Jan. 30, 2003. Bulls, who is completely blind, and Padilla who is legally blind and can see out of only one eye, have lost their jobs assembling T-shirts because of state budget cuts."

Don't expect to see any stories about the jobs that are lost because tax increases slow job creation in the private sector.
We haven't said much about the space shuttle disaster, mostly because we didn't have anything useful to say. It is worth noting, however, that the Galileo spacecraft is now approaching Jupiter, fourteen years after being launched for the purpose of exploring that planet. The picture below is an artist's rendering of Galileo and Jupiter.

There has been a fair amount of discussion about the future of the space program in the blogosphere as well as in conventional media. For what it's worth, I think the space program must and will continue. It is human (and American) nature to want to explore and to understand the world we live in. On the other hand, I don't think there is any particular pace at which space exploration need be carried out. The federal government is spending proportionately far less on the space program today than in the 1960's, when spending was fueled by our race with the Soviet Union. That's probably appropriate, in my view. But it is good to see projects like Galileo coming to fruition.
Mark Steyn's latest follows up on his terrific column on the absurdity of the UN: "After Iraq, UN's days are numbered."
The New York Post carries a column by Kay Hymowitz this morning that nicely complements Thomas Kranawitter's piece on multiculturalism: "Feminist fog."

Saturday, February 08, 2003

The Washington Post acknowledges a difficult landscape for Democrats: Senate Democrats Face Tough '04 Election. The reasons are pretty obvious; the number of seats defended, expected retirements, etc. But the Post includes, correctly, the fact that "Democrats' fundraising difficulties have grown more serious with passage of new campaign finance rules that severely limit access to their most easily raised cash." That is, McCain-Feingold's ban on "soft" money, which, as it typically originates with fat cats, is especially prone to be Democratic. The Democrats have gone in a short period of time from agitating feverishly for McCain-Feingold to matter-of-factly acknowledging it as a serious barrier to their ambitions. Maybe John McCain is a Republican after all.
Reader John Richardson directed my attention to this article by John Leo from townhall.com about a new study on the consequences of race-based college admissions. The study considers why there aren't more black and Hispanic college professors. According to Leo, the study finds the major reason to be that affirmative action is steering minority group members to colleges they are not really qualified to attend. Thus, although black and Hispanic colege seniors are about as likely as their white counterparts to want to become professors, they are less likely to attend graduate school due to low grades and lack of self-confidence. Leo points out that it may be difficult for supporters of racial preferences to attack the study because it was sponsored by the liberal Mellon Foundation and the presidents of the eight Ivy League schools. Instead, we can expect colleges to counter the problem identified by the study through more grade inflation and stronger preferential admission programs for minorities at the graduate school level.
I've been on the road for the past few days. One night I happened to see a clip of Bill Clinton talking about various terrorist attacks that he says he prevented during his Administration. But I fear that Slick Willie won't be able to talk his way out of this one. Indeed, in his desperation to defend his record on terrorism, Clinton is digging himself a deeper and deeper hole. History will give him no credit for "preventing" particular acts of terrorism that failed to come off due to the vigilence of law enforcement agents. To the contrary, the more attacks that were thrwarted during the Clinton years, the more Clinton will be judged criminally negligent for doing virtually nothing to strike back at Al Qaeda and other sources of terrorism.
Our new site is proceeding well. It looks like we may be able to make the move as early as Monday, or Tuesday at the latest. Stay tuned, I think you'll like it!
Our friends at FratersLibertas have not only created a nifty Churchillian "Deserve Victory!" bumper sticker with which to win friends among the right thinking and aggravate the derangement of leftover lefties, but have also dusted off and annotated Merle Haggard's ever timely "The Fightin' Side of Me." Check it out!
Better late than never. National Public Radio has issued a correction and apology for slandering the Traditional Values Coalition. In January 2002, NPR's Morning Edition reported that it had called the Coalition to ask whether the Coalition had been contacted by the FBI agents investigating the mailing of anthrax to Senate offices. NPR now admits:

"This report violated NPR editorial principles. No one had told our reporter that the Traditional Values Coalition was a suspect in the anthrax mailing. No facts were available then or since then to suggest that the group had any role in the anthrax mailing."

In other words, the NPR broadcast was motivated by sheer malice, based on political disagreement. If NPR's reporters are willing to perpetrate this kind of hoax, one can only imagine how their liberal bias infects their day to day reporting.
A tempest is brewing over proposed amendments to the Patriot Act; the amendments, billed as "Patriot Act II," are being worked on by Justice Department staff. Someone leaked a draft of the possible legislation to a left-wing front group called the Center for Public Integrity, which published it on its website. (I would link to the site, except that a banner headline by Matt Drudge has made the Center's site inaccessible for the time being.) The Justice Department responded to the leak by saying that the draft is being worked on by staff, that no final decisions have been made, and the draft has not yet been presented to the Attorney General. Notwithstanding the fact that no legislation has yet been proposed, the leaked draft is being greeted with hysteria by the left--see, for example, Talk Left--and by condemnation from libertarians like Glenn Reynolds.
All of this seems wildly premature, but for what it is worth, I thought that the original Patriot Act was enirely reasonable and, with respect to many of its provisions, long overdue. (For example, prior to the Patriot Act, wiretap orders could only be obtained for specified telephone lines. This allowed easy circumvention by merely changing cell phones. The Patriot Act permits orders allowing all phone lines used by a particular person to be tapped.)
Due to the overwhelming traffic at the Center for Public Integrity's site, I have not yet been able to read the draft amendments, but to the extent I have seen them summarized, it is hard to see what the fuss is about.
The left's goal here, of course, is not to focus on any particular anti-terrorism efforts, or to engage in any serious discussion of how best to balance security and freedom from government intrusion. (This distinguishes leftists from responsible libertarians like Reynolds and many others.) What the left wants to do, through the hysterical repetition of "civil liberties" slogans, is to achieve political goals by demonizing John Ashcroft and George Bush. See, for example, the new advertising campaign just launched by the ACLU, which--in the ACLU's own words--"paint[s] Ashcroft as a zealous ideologue who has hacked away at American civil liberties using post-September 11 concerns about national security as a pretext." As usual, you can count on the ACLU for reasoned, constructive discourse.
Several readers have asked us whether we are aware of any signs that are being produced to counter the "No War With Iraq" lawn signs that have sprouted up in recent weeks. Until today, the answer was No. But today's Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that an Eagan resident named Joe Repya, a retired Lieutenant Colonel, has produced a "Liberate Iraq" sign, shown below.

Col. Repya says that when word of his signs got out, they were quickly snapped up; he handed them out in front of a local talk-radio station. He expects to have more signs in about a week.
We'd be curious to know whether similar signs are appearing in other parts of the country.
Former Arizona Cardinal and exemplary American Pat Tillman is now an Army Ranger: "Tillman just a phone call away from deployment." (Courtesy of No Left Turns and Andrew Sullivan.)
We can't defend America if we don't love her, and there's nothing that the traitors in the academy want more than to make us hate her. But America is under ideological assault not only in the universities, but also in the schools from kindergarten on, where multiculturalism has become the official state religion. We have therefore long needed a citizen's guide to multiculturalism -- a brief but serious account that explains the phenomenon and sketches out an appropriate critique. The chapter on multiculturalism in Dinesh D'Souza's early 1990's book on the universities, Illiberal Education, does a good job of providing such an account and critique, but the book has lost the currency it had upon its publication. Now the Claremont Institute's Thomas Kranawitter has done an outstanding job tackling this difficult subject in "The Intellectual Errors and Political Dangers of Multiculturalism."
The anti-war nudity movement continues. In what I believe is the largest such protest so far, approximately 750 Australian women shed their clothes to protest Prime Minister Howard's participation in the possible war with Iraq. The Prime Minister had no immediate comment.

We'll do our best to keep you informed as the movement spreads.
The most important column on the Web today is Michael Ledeen's "Godfathers of terror."
The issue of the Weekly Standard out this morning features its arts editor's reflections on the cancelled White House poetry event honoring Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Langston Hughes: "The poets vs. the first lady." Former Nixon administration White House counsel Leonard Garment also has a column on the subject in this morning's New York Times: "A song of themselves."

Another subject I can't get enough of is that of France. On Thursday the Wall Street Journal carried an excellent column by Christopher Hitchens that it has now made available online: "The rat that roared."

Friday, February 07, 2003

Pro-Saddam demonstrators are gathering in Munich, where Donald Rumsfeld will address an international conference on security policy tomorrow.

The London Times reports that the State Department has warned Americans to stay away from Munich for the next few days. Munich's mayor "dismissed the warning as ridiculous," but the Times says that "the fact that Munich now counts as unsafe for Americans along with Iraq, Iran, Libya and Yemen has taken the Germans aback. Suddenly, they see themselves being edged towards pariah status."
Here is Thomas Sowell on a recent study titled "Increasing Faculty Diversity," which examines the shibboleths of affirmative action and finds them to be unsupported by the facts.
Debka File reports that the major terrorist organizations of the world--Iraq, al Qaeda, Hezbollah and other Palestinian groups--have come together to plot "a multi-pronged mega-terror offensive assault" on targets in Europe, the Middle East and the United States, potentially including nuclear weapons. Debka says further that "sources report too that interrogation of the dozens of terrorist suspects in custody revealed that Iraq and Saudi intelligence agents continue to provide the terror cells with operational intelligence, while Saudi institutions and bodies are al Qaeda’s primary source of funds and manpower." Debka's theory is that the U.S. has refrained from making this intelligence public, notwithstanding the fact that it would decisively incriminate Iraq, because the Administration is not yet ready to deal with Saudi Arabia's central role in the terror network.
Today Hamas organized a pro-Iraq demonstration in Gaza City. Here is a young boy carrying a poster of Saddam Hussein.

And here, the always-charming Palestinians burn American and Israeli flags.

In another world, one might expect the Palestinians to have some sympathy for the suffering of the Iraqi people under Saddam. But in this world, the same all-consuming hatred that drives them to try to exterminate the Jews makes them indifferent to the afflictions of their fellow Arabs.
Minneapolis's execrable Mayor Rybak has "clarified" his day-old ban on unmonitored communications between the police and the media: "Rybak clarifies police media policy."
You may remember that some days ago, we linked to a story about an Iraqi man who jumped into a U.N. inspection van in Baghdad, yelling "Save me!" in Arabic and clutching a notebook. He was hauled away by Iraqi security guards while the U.N. inspectors watched impassively.

Now his relatives outside Iraq are pleading for information about his whereabouts; their relatives in Baghdad "cannot say anything." Hans Blix "appeared flummoxed" when questioned about this matter. He said that other than awaiting a report from Iraqi authorities, the U.N. has "not taken any other steps to ascertain whether the man might have been an Iraqi scientist or otherwise in possession of information he wanted to share with inspectors about Iraq’s secret weapons programmes." Blix was assured, however, that "there was nothing in the booklet he seemed to be carrying." (I like that "seemed." The notebook was clearly visible in photographs.) As to the possibility of the man having valuable knowledge of the Iraqi weapons program, Blix noted that Iraqi scientists could find "more elegant ways" of communicating with the inspectors.

That really sums up the United Nations pretty well. This poor man was foolish enough to look to the U.N. for protection, assuming that as between him and a murderous dictator, the U.N. would be on his side. In all likelihood, he has since been tortured to death. But for Mr. Blix, he just wasn't elegant enough to meet the U.N.'s standards.

(Via PoliPundit.)
President Bush again frames the Iraq issue as a test of the United Nations, not of his policy: "This is a defining moment for the U.N. Security Council. If the Security Council were to allow a dictator to lie and deceive, the Security Council will be weak....The U.N. Security Council has got to make up its mind soon as to whether or not its word means anything."

This continues the brilliant strategy that the President began with his speech to the U.N. several months ago, when he told the U.N. it risked irrelevance if it failed to enforce its resolutions on Iraq. Once again the President has put himself in something of a no-lose position, at least as far as the U.N. is concerned. If the Security Council wants to sanction action to get rid of Saddam, great. If instead it chooses to consign itself to history's dustbin, that is perhaps regrettable, but something the President and the U.S. can certainly live with.

And throughout this crisis, Bush has benefited greatly from the fact that friends and foes alike know that he means what he says. Whether the Security Council's "word means anything," as the President says, is very much in doubt. Whether Bush's word is good, no one questions.
Josh Chafetz is the young prodigy who has brought Oxblog to deserved prominence. Josh discovered the immutable "laws of Dowd," among other notable accomplishments. Apparently Josh's Oxford studies and blogging accomplisments aren't enough to occupy a 24-hour day; Josh has now become the co-founder of the Oxford Democracy Forum to promote democracy around the world and support the just use of force. Josh's announcement follows the announcement of the founding of the Yale College Students for Democracy.
I received the new (March) issue of The American Enterprise magazine in the mail yesterday. It should be available on newsstands shortly. The issue is devoted to the theme of the Civil War, a theme occasioned by the release of Gods and Generals -- the prequel to the movie Gettysburg -- on February 21. Bill Kauffman of the magazine's editorial staff has a long piece in the issue on Gods and Generals that is available online: "The Civil War Returns." You might say he liked the movie.

Karl Zinsmeister, the magazine's editor, has an introductory essay on American interest in the Civil War that is also available online: "What do you mean, 'a good war'?"
FrontPage has an excellent symposium on the question "The 'Peace' Movement: A Front for the Anti-American Left?"
Oliver North has a hilarious column comparing Secretary Powell's presentation to the UN with the OJ trial: "The OJ trial at the UN." North concludes as follows: "In the O.J. trial, Cochran made much of the fact that no murder weapon was ever found and convinced a jury of 12 to let O.J. off the hook. The evidence on Saddam is now before a 'jury' of 15 in the UN. President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair need to act soon, before Dominique de Villepin persuades them that the Scud doesn't fit -- and they vote to acquit."

David Brooks expands on this point in his piece on the Weekly Standard's Web site: "French Kiss-Off." Is it wrong to hope that the French hold to their position and therefore assist us in drawing the correct conclusions about the absurdity, irrelevance and odiousness of the UN? Just asking.