From the Department of Unrelated Thoughts, herewith a survey of the best items from my notebook over the past week or so:
AT A BLOGGERS' LUNCH at the Heritage Foundation, some great quotes from former Ambassador John Bolton, now the author of the hot new book, Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad.
A) "Anything that provides competition for the United Nations is a good thing."
B) We should make NATO a "global" alliance: "Take it worldwide" and include other allies.
C) The United Nations isn't totally useless, but it is "just another utensil in our toolbox for foreign policy... a butter knife, perhaps."
D) "Negotiation is not a policy; negotiation is a tool."
E) The Law of the Sea Treaty is "a bad treaty that needs to be defeated. It is like Dracula coming out of his coffin.... It was a bad idea [back in the 1970s] and it is a bad idea today.... We don't need the Law of the Sea Treaty to protect our interests."
F) "In foreign policy generally, we are over-lawyered."
G) Too many liberals (and State Department types) think that terrorists are merely something like "bank robbers on steroids." But they are something else entirely and must be dealt with in terms of warfare and not in terms of courts.
H) "I am quite worried about Hugo Chavez [in Venezuela]. President Bush once called him 'Castro without brains.'" (But that doesn't mean he's not dangerous.)
FRED THOMPSON CONTINUES to baffle. One day he totally blows an answer about abortion by suggesting that the issue is whether or not to send women to jail. That's absurd. But the next day (figuratively speaking), he gets the endorsement of the National Right to Life Committee. One day he sounds bored and distracted; the next day he comes across as focused and strong, especially on issues such as terrorism. One day he seems to have nothing much new to say, and the next he comes out with a truly strong and brave proposal to reform the Social Security system. In fact, that proposal is the single bravest and most consequential domestic policy proposal by any candidate in this whole campaign, and Thompson deserves an incredible amount of respect, and thanks from conservatives across the board, for stepping forward with it. In all, this Republican race, from a handicappers' standpoint, is probably the most interesting one in at least three decades.
LEAVING POLITICS FOR A MINUTE... Remind me, again, what that was about how the NFL is all about parity. Not. Two teams seem so far and away the cream of the crop that it's if they were in a different universe, while another team is still winless after nine weeks and two others have just one win. As for the top two, everybody knows how amazingly strong the New England Patriots are. But (and this adds a note of the bizarre to the whole season), just how amazing are the Indianapolis Colts? Have you EVER heard of a team, playing against another squad that is likely playoff bound (i.e., not at all a pushover opponent) that gives up not one but two kick-(or punt-) return touchdowns, whose quarterback throws SIX interceptions (at least three of which were not really his fault, but that's another story), who has a 100-yard interception return by its linebacker called all the way back because of an "inadvertent whistle," and whose kicker (generally considered one of the two or three best kickers in NFL history) misses not one but two short-to-mid-distance field goals, and whose usually unflappable coach utterly wastes a time-out in what even he later admitted was a really dumb decision -- and yet, after all those disasters, still loses a nationally televised game by only two points??!?!???
Now THAT is a team to be reckoned with.
THE INTELLECTUAL RIGHT IN THIS COUNTRY is now almost entirely united in agreement that the Law of the Sea Treaty is terrible. Every conservative editorial page I can find is against it. Every major conservative columnist who has written on it (as far I can find) is against it. And this is not one of those cases where, as in immigration, the Wall Street Journal and National Review are split, or where one huge element of the conservative movement is arrayed against another. Everybody seems to be against it. So why, oh why, is the Bush administration in favor of it? The administration's position is sheer madness.
Another bit of madness from the administration is that it adamantly refuses to take concrete steps to reverse the slide of the dollar. The dollar must be strengthened. Failure to do so -- via tough talk from Treasury and perhaps via a few asset sales from the Fed, if the Fed will comply-- is flat-out dangerous, and could undo all the good for the economy that the Bush tax cuts have done. Stop the dollar's slide, NOW!!!
On the other hand, the administration still is receiving far too little praise for the tremendously encouraging success of the "surge" in Iraq. One example: I spoke to a wonderful lady this week whose son is serving in the once-dreaded Fallujah. Now he's almost "bored," she says. The troops there are doing wonderful work rebuilding civil society, but they really aren't fighting off bad guys much. In terms of bullets and bombs, it's mostly quiet. Thank goodness.
Meanwhile, this week the president of the Iraqi Bar Association was in Washington, D.C., along with another 10 or so prominent Iraqi attorneys, and they are an impressive lot who report that they have seen progress in the past year in establishing a more workable court system over there. Yes, the United States, its allies, and the Iraqi people themselves (most of whom are of good will) will indeed win the effort to secure the peace in that troubled nation.
Okay, that's enough for now. Back next week with something less random.
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