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Patriot Facts


Orin Kerr writes about the widespread misunderstandings of the Patriot Act–misunderstandings that he has done more than anyone to clear up. He also asks whether those misunderstandings are a good or a bad thing. The case that they are a good thing is that false fears will help avert real dangers of government overreach. I think that the most charitable (and accurate) interpretation of John Ashcroft’s famous “phantoms of lost liberty” testimony is that he was denying precisely that proposition. I also think Ashcroft is right.

Money Love


Derb: It’s not money that’s evil. The full Biblical quote is: “The love of money is the root of all evil.” Seems to me it’s okay to like money, but a sin to love it.


Speaking of Star Trek


Check out this lawsuit by Activision(maker of Star Trek video games) against Viacom (maker of Star Trek movies and TV shows).

Web Briefing: October 14, 2014

Question For Paul Johnson


Back in the 1960s, when Paul Johnson was editor of the London New
, I was a devoted reader of that journal. (It is now sadly
declined.) I recall that in one of his weekly diaries he passed an
observation to the effect that there were only two things he was sure of:
one, that money is the root of all evil, and two, that the only cure for
unhappiness is hard work. I should like to ask Mr. Johnson whether, in the
subsequent 37 years, he has revised his opinion on either of these points.


For Derb Watchers


For the month of July, Derb watchers please note the following. (1) I am
doing a one-hour talk (about the Riemann Hypothesis) on NPR July 30th–see
here (2) The cable/satellite TV
channel AMC is running a season of Bruce Lee movies. Way of the Dragon /
Enter the Dragon
is to be
shown July 26, I think.

Johnson Questions


Peter: I’d ask Paul Johnson about his astonishing level of productivity. How does he put out so much? What are his daily work habits? As a fellow writer, I’d like to know. There’s a darker follow-up topic, though: Johnson has a reputation for sloppiness–for getting little things wrong in what are otherwise magisterial histories. Why doesn’t he hire a grad student to proofread?

Debate This


How about Randy Barnett versus Robert Bork on the Ninth Amendment? I’d sure like to read that one.

Bork Knows Everything?


This morning in The Corner, Peter Robinson writes: “Next week I’ll be shooting a couple of episodes of Uncommon Knowledge, one with Judge Robert Bork, another with Paul Johnson, the English historian. Within his field, each knows everything.” During his Senate confirmation hearing, Judge Bork revealed that there was one thing about which he knew nothing, The Ninth Amendment:

I do not think you can use the ninth amendment unless you know something of what it means. For example, if you had an amendment that says “Congress shall make no” and then there is an ink blot and you cannot read the rest of it and that is the only copy you have, I do not think the court can make up what might be under the ink blot if you cannot read it.

Years later, I was on a Federalist Society panel moderated by Judge Bork. During his introduction, he noted my books on the Ninth Amendment and remarked, “seems like something I should read.” Indeed. In your interview, Peter, you night ask him what he now thinks it means. If he says it refers to state statutory and common law rights (the answer he gave in The Tempting of America)—BUZZ—wrong answer. (The correct answer: natural “liberty” rights.)

Welcome to the sandbox. Wear sunscreen.

Btw: Debates, Debates


NRO’s debating Liberia. Check it out . (Yes, I send you to the homepage and not the pieces directly on purpose. Duh.) They’ll be another installment of the Liberia debate tomorrow. And let us know what you would like to see debated and who you would like to see debating–unless it is Jonah vs. Me on Star Trek or Jonah vs. Rich on cats and dogs–those requests have been noted.

U.S. Women Too Much Trouble For Saudis?


NR intern Carlos Ramos-Mrosovsky points out this piece in the Arab News. Seems the Kingdom is actively discouraging men from marrying foreign women. Not worth the trouble? Well, actually, when you consider stories like Pat Roush’s, you realize the Kingdom is not getting nearly enough grief from the U.S., when their men abduct American citizens, the children of their foreign wives. We’re in agreement with the House of Saud, though, here: For the sake of the children, especially, by all means, discourage!

Once a Nanny...


In light of the BBC’s most recent antics, it might be worth pointing out that the Beeb has ever and always been–well, a bit wet. Among other offenses, it refused to play Noel Coward’s Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the Germans during World War II. Presumably the problem was that the BBC’s nannies didn’t think their benighted listeners would get the point of Coward’s savagely camp thrust at those who wanted to go easy on the Germans once the war was over:

Let’s be sweet to them
And day by day repeat to them
That sterilization simply isn’t done.
Let’s help the dirty swine again
To occupy the Rhine again,
But don’t let’s be beastly to the Hun.

On the other hand, it probably didn’t help that Coward also took an impish shot at the BBC itself in the next-to-last verse (“Let’s be free with them/And share the BBC with them/We mustn’t prevent them basking in the sun”). Bureaucrats never have a sense of humor when it comes to themselves.

Iranian Snapshot


James Lileks, the funniest man in cyberspace, isn’t funny all the time. Sometimes he starts out funny, then zaps you right between the eyes–like today.

The Title Iv Front


Martin Kramer has an important post today that suggests both a new problem, and a new strategy, for the battle over Title VI. Remember Prince Alwaleed? He’s the wealthy Saudi (actually, the fifth wealthiest man in the world) who had ten million dollars thrown back in his face by Rudy Giuliani. Alwaleed visited ground zero and made out a relief fund check, but only after pinning the blame for 9/11 on American support of Israel. Now Alwaleed is at it again. Only this time, he’s starting to fund universities. And other wealthy Saudi’s have recently funded centers at both Harvard and Berkeley. This certainly helps explain why so many programs of Middle East Studies are reluctant to criticize the Saudis. To do so means throwing away the prospect of millions in aid. According to Kramer, the upcoming conference of the Middle East Studies Association has twenty-five papers scheduled to be delivered on the Palestinian situation, but not one single paper on anything to do with Saudi Arabia. If Saudi money keeps pouring into American universities, Title VI may be undermined, regardless of any reforms we may succeed in making. So Kramer proposes a new rule. Title VI centers should be obligated to forgo all foreign funding. That is clearly in the national security interests of the United States. Without such an amendment, our area studies centers risk being corrupted or silenced by foreign countries. Unfortunately, there is good evidence that it may already be happening.

Jonbenet 893


If you think the movie house is full of tired summer sequels, how about morning TV? This morning, Katie Couric is back on the trail of the JonBenet Ramsey murder. To hard-news junkies, this story has always been a never-ending black hole for soccer-mom National Enquirer readers with Inquiring Minds. That’s not to suggest that no one should care about six-year-old beauty queens dying young, but rather why is this particular case so important over all the other unfortunate child murders in America? It just recalls the classic Onion headline: “Ugly Girl Dies, No One Cares.”

I know it could be worse. Katie’s Hillary interview could have had four parts instead of three.

Bearly News


Hmm, 10,000 people running around New Jersey with permission to shoot
. All this and bear contraception? Does it come in a pic-a-nic
basket, Boo Boo?

Hip Mama Konig


Next to join the Corner for the summer is Susan Brady Konig. Susan is a regular on NRO already. You can visit her NRO archive here.
A former editor at Seventeen (hey, that’s a glossy!) and columnist for the New York Post, she has written for the Washington Post, Ladies’ Home Journal, US, and NRODT (here and here–how about those ancient links?!), among others. Today Susan is a full-time mom who somehow finds the time to write for NRO and others. She is bright and fun and will be posting between pool-runs with the kids, no doubt! Those kids have a cool and funny dad, too; Susan’s husband Dave is also an NRO contributor (his stuff here). Welcome to The Corner, Susan!

Ask Judge Bork and Paul Johnson


Next week I’ll be shooting a couple of episodes of Uncommon Knowledge, one with Judge Robert Bork, another with Paul Johnson, the English historian. Within his field, each knows everything. And each has spent his career producing compelling, readable, musical prose, seeking to share his knowledge with the rest of us.

If you could ask Judge Bork and Paul Johnson a question apiece, what two questions would you choose? Bear in mind that the trick in talk television-even in talk television on PBS–is to get your guest talking. Tomorrow I’ll post the two or three questions that seem the most provocative/evocative–and then next week I’ll put the questions to the great men themselves.

Peter Robinson!


I’m delighted to welcome Peter Robinson to the Corner mix. I’m sure you all know Peter. He’s a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, is the host of Uncommon Knowledge on PBS (the old Firing Line slot). He is author of the It’s My Party: A Republican’s Messy Love Affair with the GOP and of the upcoming How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life. Among other things, Peter spent six years as a White House speechwriter during the Reagan years, where he penned a little line about tearing down a wall in Eastern Europe. No stranger to NRO (see here and here and here and here). Peter’s an all-around cool guy, like so many of our summer Cornerites–I know you’ll enjoy him.

Pryor Time


The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the nomination of William Pryor to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit tomorrow.

A Nation in Mourning


An e-mail: “I wonder why nobody mentions the interesting coincidence that Iranian-government paid operation to separate two adult Siamese twins which has dominated the news (especially Iran-related news) for a coupla days was timed right before July 9. Even now CNN goes on and on about mourning in Iran and schoolchildren paying tribute to the twins and does not even mention such insignificant events as anti-government strikes and demonstrations.”

I have no doubt that Iranians mourn for the conjoined twins who died shortly after surgical separation. It is a terribly sad story. But the reader raises an interesting question–though I stress this is just a casual observation–which you can’t help but wonder about on July 9, after reading some of the statements from the regime about the twins’ death, and knowing that the mullahs paid for the surgery.


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