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Tasteless?



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One adjective in the opening paragraph of this week’s New Yorker piece by Hendrik Hertzberg says more about the attitude of certain sections of the intelligentsia to George W. Bush than any number of books, petitions or agonized interviews on NPR:

“The most tasteless passage in last week’s State of the Union Message came about half an hour into the speech, as President Bush was enumerating his Administration’s successes against Al Qaeda. Three thousand suspected terrorists have been arrested, he said. “And many others have met a different fate,” he went on. “Let’s put it this way: they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies.” Talk about smoking guns. You could almost see the President blowing across the upturned barrel of his Colt .45.”

Tasteless?

I don’t know what is worse about the use that word – the self-congratulatory sense of moral superiority that it implies or the feckless suggestion that this conflict should now be judged on aesthetic grounds. These terrorists are fanatics’ fanatics, foot soldiers or worse in a movement that would eliminate both us and our civilization, a civilization that includes everything that the New Yorker is supposed to stand for. We can – and should – mourn the way that these individuals chose to waste their lives, but their deaths, like the deaths of, say, an SS trooper or a Gulag guard, are hardly a matter of regret.

Rather the reverse, I would think.


Death Wish 2003



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The latest attempts to reform Britain’s ‘Senate’, the House of Lords, took place in the early years of the Blair government with significant changes in the membership of that supposedly august body. The hereditary component was greatly reduced, leaving effective control with the so-called ‘life peers’, a motley collection of the (supposedly) good and the great appointed to the House by successive governments. This change was always seen as a first step in the modernization process – the next step was, allegedly, to try and make the House of Lords rather more democratic. Prime Minister Blair, who always rather liked the idea of packing the place with ‘Tony’s cronies’, was never quite so sure.

And, nor it seems, are Britain’s dim Tories. In a number of votes last week, they showed once again that they are incapable of embracing either good sense or popular policies. More Conservative MPs voted for Blair’s preferred option of an all-appointed Lords than opted for their own leader’s proposal – an all-elected Lords.

Losers.


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Another Dem For Estrada



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Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) will support the confirmation of Miguel Estrada to the federal bench. (Thanks to How Appealing.)

Web Briefing: January 25, 2015

Support Estrada



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At People for the American Way’s expense. Stuart Buck shows how.

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Who Are The Free Traders?



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The Cato Institute has been rating congressmen based on whether they support free trade. By their lights, very few congressmen consistently support international commerce that is both free of restrictions and unsubsidized. Here’s their report. John McCain emerges as one of the good guys.

Seeing Through Spin



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In much of the media, it’s accepted as fact that Roe v. Wade legalized abortion only in the first trimester, that the Supreme Court is only one vote away from overturning Roe, and that partial-birth abortion is a rare procedure done only in cases of fetal deformity or threats to maternal health. The National Right to Life Committee has released a memo that debunks all of these myths.

Not Exhibit a...



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In the Islam means Peace argument:


SAN`A, Yemen (AP) _ A Yemeni man irritated by noisy nut sellers outside his house threw an explosive device at them Friday, seriously injuring four people, security officials said.

The blast rocked a crowded market place in downtown San`a, located near the headquarters of the country’s intelligence services.

Security officials speaking on condition of anonymity said the man who threw the bomb was arrested shortly after the blast.

The officials said the man became irritated by the noise being made by people hawking nuts outside his home. The market area was particularly busy ahead of an Islamic holiday period.


Didja Notice...



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The Attorney General announced the security alert? Um what’s the Director of Homeland Security for if not to make announcements about homeland security? Just a question.

Dhs



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I dont mean to blow this out of proportion, but I have just given up trying to get on the Department of Homeland Security’s website. Now, on one hand, I hope they have higher priorities than updating their website and making sure it is working and accessable to Americans. But, on the other hand, isn’t part of the job of the DHS to help make Americans feel secure. Not a false sense as a veneer, mind you, but seems like it should be part of the package. And, for the record, as of two minutes ago, when a colleague got on the site, however slowly, the alert code there was still yellow.

Lincoln in D.C.



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Cool-sounding Library of Congress event on Monday sponsored by the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, with Sam Waterston from Law and Order (hey he should bring that Fred Thompson fella with him) playing Abe. The Commission website is also the NRO cool site of the day today. (The bicentennial is 2009, in case you were starting to count.)

Officially Orange



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Rod will never sleep again.

Students For War!



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Speaking of democracy promotion, Josh Chafetz over at Oxblog has just announced the formation of pro-war democracy promotion organizations at Yale and Oxford. Although I suspect I’m a lot more cautious about democracy promotion than Chafetz, I agree with a good part of what the new organization’s principles have to say. Best of all, whatever our differences on democracy promotion, here we have student organizations at two major universities that support action against Iraq. Good work!

Snow Days: Wouldn’t You Love to Be Relaxing At Home, Reading NrOndeadtree Right Now?



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What Remains



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Academic Freedom & 9/11



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The American Studies Association has just issued a warning that academic freedom is under threat in the post 9/11 world. What is the danger? Only the usual bogus complaints about the supposed McCarthyism of Campus Watch and other critics of the academy. On top of that, the ASA wants the government to stop its perfectly legitimate attempts to keep track of foreign students and professors. What the American Studies Association really wants is to go back to a time when few bothered to criticize college professors. And the ASA trots out the usual complaint that critics mistake opposition to government policy as anti-Americanism. The truth is, contemporary American Studies really is driven by an animus to America–to the point where those who believe that an identifiable American tradition even exists are treated as oppressors. For the story of how American studies turned against America, read this extraordinary article by Alan Wolfe.

Nice Email



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When I briefly lived in Prague, I heard sentiments like this all the time:

Your pointing out the view from Kosovo reminds me of why my East-bloc-born wife insisted our son be named Ronald when he was born last year. When she was a girl, she remembers her grandfather listening to VOA secretly and she wasn’t allowed to tell anyone at about it. She remembers her fathers secret recordings of American jazz, and his greatest prize was a bootleg copy of jimmy hendrix’ “star-spangled banner’. She remembers the embers of hope that sparked when Mr. Reagan denounced the Evil Empire, hope that America was aware of their misery and that through this their liberation would come. I have met many people from E. Eur and this story is common, if seldom reported. And none of the people I have met ever said they dreamed liberation would come from France or Germany.

More Zakaria Talk



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Drezner’s second point against Fareed Zakaria is that the illiberal democracies Zakaria warns of aren’t necessarily any more destabilizing than autocracies that develop into democracies gradually, without forceful intervention. That hardly negates Zakaria’s warnings about the dangers of excess optimism in our democratization efforts. I think Zakaria’s warnings against democratizing optimism need to be taken very seriously indeed. That doesn’t mean we can’t do anything to bring democracy to a conquered Iraq. In “After the War,” I talk about steps we can take. But Drezner is wrong to dismiss Zakaria’s ideas as “spectacularly wrong.” This democratization issue is going to be big. There are plenty of good arguments on all sides, and no easy answers. I look forward to Zakaria’s book.

The Democracy Problem



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Fareed Zakaria will be coming out with a book this April that sounds a note of caution about efforts to democratize non-Western countries. Zakaria will warn that attempts to democratize fundamentally illiberal cultures can backfire. He’s been presenting the book’s ideas via lecture, and University of Chicago political scientist (and blogger) Daniel Drezner has put up a critique.

Drezner dismisses Zakaria’s thesis as an essentially worthless idea, but Drezner’s points are not particularly telling. For one thing, Drezner claims that Japan and India prove that democracy doesn’t have to develop slowly, as it did in the West. This is plain wrong, as I argued at length in my recent City Journal piece, “After the War.” Japan and India took a long time to democratize, and we can learn much from their experience.

Dear Leader On C-Span



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I thought Rich was great on C-SPAN. He made it look easy, but in fact
thinking on your feet like that isn’t easy at all. Interesting to see how
the antiwar callers cut, paleocon vs. liberal. I thought there’d be more
paleos, but actually there seem to be a lot of Sean Penn liberals out there.
As antiwar cases go, the paleos’ is much stronger than the liberals’. The
liberal case is just–as always with liberals–rooted in wishful thinking.
I’d like to see a good knock-down debate between one of us pro-war
conservatives and an antiwar paleocon. That would be an instructive and
elevating debate. On this one, liberals are just nowhere.

Everybody Talks About The Weather, But...



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OK, it’s a snow day here in Lawn Guy Land, stuck with the kids all day. For
insight into how I feel about this, see the current NRODT.

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