Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Just call me Mrs. Megatech

That’s what I am for Halloween. Mrs. Megatech.

What has happened to Halloween? The Wall Street Journal reports that sales related to Halloween may become Christmas-like. Meanwhile, my daughter’s pre-school doesn’t allow costumes on Halloween. (It makes things difficult, I’m told). Dismally, we received only a handful of trick-or-treaters tonight. But it appears adult halloween festivities are bigger than ever. What does it mean when a kid’s holiday that playfully invokes spooks and witches and the forces of evil becomes a grown-up holiday, involving participants who -- shall we say -- should know better?

Nanotechnology??

Nanotechnology? Isn’t this the sport where the guys in lab coats stand around and brag, "Mine’s smaller"?

Nanotechnology

Glen Reynolds has a piece in favor of nanotechnology, with some good links in the article. A number of "green" types are coming out against it. Remarkable stuff. Worth paying attention to.

Endorsing the Dead

While eating an early lunch, I perused one of my favorite sites on the web: the Barbra Streisand web page. If you haven’t discovered it yet, you have to give it a look--it’s like buttah. It is one of the best comedy sites on the web, and the fact that she thinks it offers serious political commentary makes it all the more amusing. If you needed any more reason to visit, she has posted her election endorsements. My personal favorite is Patsy Mink for Hawaii. Babs even puts (deceased) after her name. Given that endorsement, the actress/singer/activist/fundraiser/polical hack must really be torn about who to endorse in Minnesota.

Democrat Panic

I’ll start going out on a limb now, even though I will not make my detailed predictions on the elections until Monday. I believe that the Wellstone political rally/memorial hurt Democrats. Before the event I had a hunch that it could backfire on them, if badly handled. It was badly handled. They know it, even Dan Rather knows it. Jesse Ventura knows it, and he said it most clearly: "The Democrats ought to be ashamed of themselves." The American people now know it. At least Wellstone’s campaign manager has apologized. This will help them to nationalize the elections, but not to their advantage, not in the way they had hoped. It will not help them bring out the vote in any other state, maybe not even in Minnesota. And it will have the effect of bringing out the GOP vote, and even some independents. And in Minnesota they will now send out that great campaigner Walter Mondale to make a go of it and I hope he will bring his beef with him. I think Mondale only has a fifty-fifty shot at winning. See this recounting by Howard Kurtz for some details. All this shows how tough the Democrats are, and how hollow at the core. They are interested only in winning elections, the purpose for the victories no longer matter. Everyone is seeing this. Take a look at these two pieces on these issues, one by Jonah Goldberg and the other by Robert Novak.

Now for my hunches. I am climbing out on the limb. There, I am on it. One, The Republicans will retain the House. They may even gain two or three seats. Needless to say (given the historic losses by the party not holding the White House in off year elections) this will have to be seen to be a massive defeat for the Democrats. Two, The GOP will take back the Senate, barely. You can start sawing off the limb, if you like, but I think I’m right. (I’ll give you the details on Monday). I think I’m right because the only thing that would save the hollow-at-the-core Democratic Party in this election is a great Demo turnout. And I see no sign of that. They are now talking about just holding their own. Drudge reports that McAuliffe is already in trouble. I am smelling panic among the Democratic operatives as I am smelling the need for immediate cash. They are now playing defense, but you can only win if you play offense. Oh, yes, one more thing: The economy raced ahead at a 3.1% annual rate during the third quarter, and I predict that the market will be up for the third straight week in a row.

Haitian Hijinks

Recent efforts by the Democrats to make a political issue out of the arrival of Haitian refugees in Florida is perhaps the most disgusting in a series of desperate maneuvers in this campaign. Democratic accusations of a "double standard"--one set of rules for Cuban emigres and another for Haitians--is a transparent attempt to mobilize the African-American vote next week.

There is, of course, a critical difference between Cuban refugees and Haitian ones--the former are fleeing a tyrannical communist regime that the United States does not even recognize, while the latter are coming from a country ruled by a democratic regime; in fact, one that the Clinton administration helped to keep in power. Simply put, Cubans arrive on our shores as political refugees seeking asylum; the most recent group of Haitians arrived as illegal immigrants, not fundamentally different from those who cross the Mexican border every day.

This morning on Fox and Friends, a representative of the Democratic National Committee clearly admitted the motive behind this. Asked what the fallout from this issue will be, she confidently predicted that Florida governor Jeb Bush would be defeated. This, of course, would reflect badly on the President, "if he can’t even get his own brother reelected." Is it too much to hope that Florida’s African-American community will see through this obvious ploy?

Gerontocracy III

No sooner do I declaim about the senescence of the Democratic Party than, a few days after my 44th birthday, I receive my first AARP membership card in the mail. Haven’t they heard that people are living longer now?

My AEI colleague Michael Greve helpfully suggests that AARP really stands for "Angry Advocates for Rapacious Pensioners." Next to "Anti-Christian Litigation Unit" for the ACLU, this is one of the most accurate alternate descriptions around. We should use it widely.

Gerontocracy II: The New, Old Left

Of course, it is not just the return of old players, but "old" left ideas. Even Maureen Dowd, in between her rants about Rumsfeld, has noted the change:

Even though the Congressional leadership went along with the White House on the Iraq war, the Democrats have still been painted as the wimpy McGovernite party.

And now, with Walter Mondale and Jimmy Carter back at center stage, and with the Democrats beatifying the far-left Paul Wellstone as a way of holding on to the Senate, the ghosts of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.-E.R.A. are supposed to save the party?

The real Reagan made mincemeat of Mr. Carter and Mr. Mondale, casting them as girly-boys who lacked the swagger necessary to lead the world.

But Dowd mistakes when the tranformation occurred. As a particularly perceptive reader of noleftturns pointed out in an email, the shift in Democratic politics began with Gore’s disavowing the "New Democrat" policies and labels of Clinton in favor of a decidedly more populist message.

Dowd is right though: the Democrats took a beating when they espoused these policies before. In a world where people are again concerned with national security, the shift to the old line appeasement is likely to lead to similar results for the Democrats. Oh well, out with the new, in with the old.

Free Speech That Gives You the Munchies

The New York Times today praises the recent decision of the Ninth Circuit holding that the Federal government cannot prevent doctors from recommending marijuana to their patients, because these restrictions violate the free speech rights of doctors.

It is first worth noting that the op-ed page at the NY Times should really take the time to run their articles past someone with a law degree. O.K., that’s too much to ask. They should at least run them past a regular viewer of Law & Order. Take for example this statement:

The ruling gives new life to the medical marijuana initiative, also known as Proposition 215, which California voters passed in 1996. The law permits seriously ill people to use marijuana on the advice of their physicians, and it says that doctors may not be punished for recommending marijuana to their patients.

Those familiar with the law will recognize this as an overstatement. Last year, the Supreme Court found in analyzing claims brought incidental to Prop. 215 that there is no medical exception to the federal law’s prohibition on manufacturing and distributing marijuana. Thus, under the "new life" of the 9th Circuit’s ruling, a doctor may generally recommend toking, but the pharmacy may not sell it. In fact, if the doctor recommends a "distributor," he could likely be prosecuted for conspiracy to distribute illegal narcotics--something which even the Ninth Circuit opinion entertains. Indeed, the Ninth Circuit recognizes that giving a prescription for the drug would violate federal law. The most a doctor may do is recommend generally marijuana.

More interesting to me is the fact that the NY Times continues its cafeteria-style approach to the First Amendment. It doesn’t like campaign speech (unless of course the campaign speech is by the press--that is sacrosanct), so the First Amendment really doesn’t apply there. It likes liberalized drug policy, so the First Amendment is "core" there. You can fault them for being inconsistent in their legal theory at the Times, but not in the liberal rhetoric.

Gerontocracy

Is it just me, or is the Democratic party lineup coming to look like the Kremlin in its terminal stages, where the old guys had to lean against each other to stand up atop the Lenin wall during the military parades? Maybe the Democrats have suddenly taken to Thurmond-env

It is hard to predict what may happen next. Back before the 2000 election, it was said that if the Senate ended up tied, the Thurmond death watch would start. Who knew that control of the Senate would hang not on Thurmond’s physical health, but Jeffords’ mental health.

It is hard to believe that Mondale intends to serve a complete six year term if he wins, but the Republican candidate for governor in Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, is leading in the polls, so Mondale may have to tough it out.

Will Mondale still declare himself to be the candidate of "the sad" as he did in 1984? Inquiring minds want to know.

Money and Politics II

The Republicans do have more small ($1000) donors than do the Democrats. This is attributed at least in part to extraordinary efforts at donor list development. While the Republicans have been known to raise more hard and soft money than the Democrats, as a general rule soft money constitutes a larger percentage of the Democrats overall funds--that is, soft money is arguably more important to the Democrats.

As for the impact of the "reform" legislation on the Democratic party, the immediate result is that any soft money the Democrats have on hand will need to be refunded after the elections, or the law requires that it be "disgorged" to the federal government by the end of the year.

The second result is that the fundraising efforts which currently direct soft money to parties will be used to direct funds to certain advocacy groups (most likely 501(c)(4)s, which are non-profits that can lobby). Members of Congress are permitted under the reform bill to do some fundraising for these groups--a concession the black caucus and the NAACP received in order to get their support for the bill. While the law places the same onerous restrictions on advertisements run within 60 days of a campaign on these 501(c)(4)s, no one believes that this part of the bill will survive judicial review. That means that 501(c)(4)s are very strong in the new reform world, and parties become much weaker.

Money and Politics

I would like clarification of something. The New York Times reports today that the GOP has raised about $190 million in this election cycle (mostly hard money) and the Demos about $130 million (mostly soft money). Two questions: 1) does this mean that the GOP raises a lot from small donors, while the Demos raise a lot from big donors? 2) What will this mean for the Demos after the so-called reforms kick in the day after the election? Will not the Demos be massively disadvantaged by the new law? Somebody explain this to me. Simply, clearly, please, I teach theory.

Johnny Cochran’s Threat Against NFL

There is some clarity in racial matters in the sports world. Cochran threatens to sue the NFL because there aren’t enough black head coaches. Note the response of the head of the NFL Player’s Association, and especially the response of Jim Irsay, the owners of the Colts: "I have a (black) head coach and, I can tell you, he got his job because he is a tremendous football coach. Ours was not a decision based on skin color, that’s for sure." Good for Irsay, and good for Tony Dungy (the Colts’ Head Coach).

Huck and Jim and Sensitivity Training

In Portland, Oregon, it is demanded by some that if a teacher wants to read Huckleberry Finn he should do so only after "on-going" sensitivity training.
I find all this amazing considering the true greatness of the book, especially as it relates to blacks and whites. In his great lecture entitled "What Would America be Without Blacks?", Ralph Ellison said: "without the presence of blacks, the book could not have been written. No Huck and Jim, no American novel as we know it. For not only is the black man a co-creator of the language that Mark Twain raised to the level of literary eloquence, but Jim’s condition as American and Huck’s commitment to freedom are at the moral center of the novel."

Blacks Identify Less with Democrats

This is an interesting survey showing that now 10% of blacks identify themselves with the GOP (it was 4% two years ago) and 63% identify themselves as Demos (it was 74% two years ago). Jesse Jackson’s approval rating is now 60% (it was 83% two years ago) and Colin Powell’s approval rating is 73% (only Clinton is higher). Also note this massive fact that is mentioned only in passing in the article: The shift in Black attitudes is driven by the 36 and younger crowd! The article claims that all this will have no effect on next weeks’ election. Oh, really, but the two hundred or so geriatric liberals (see below) deciding to vote in order to honor Wellstone will? Pleeease!

Wellstone Effect to Help with Turnout?

This is from a Minnesota paper. Aside from being useful for quickly running through the latest polls (who’s up and who’s down) it is significant because it reports that now Democrats hope that the Wellstone rally might get a "few hundred additional votes from old liberals stunned back into political activism" and those votes might be enough (according to Zogby) because the Senate elections will be so close. I don’t buy it. I don’t believe that a few hundred ancient liberals are going to determine whether or not the Senate stays in Democratic hands. The pollsters are covering their you-know-what by claiming that everything is oh-so-close that we can’t call anything. This is shameful. These pollsters are paid for guessing and they can’t even do that. But I will take some very unscientific guesses soon, and I am betting that my batting average will prove better. For example, this poll from the same MN paper says that the numbers haven’t changed on Mondale-Coleman since the last polls when it Coleman vs. Wellstone. Well, I am betting that Mondale will not go up, will not get above fifty percent by Sunday, and that Coleman will hover around 47-49 percent by Sunday. And then how will we guess? Will the two hundred geriatric liberals (is that Mondale’s extended family?) make the difference?

Fallout From the Wellstone Funeral

AP reports that Governor Ventura has decided to appoint an independent to fill Wellstone’s seat until election day. This reversal from his previous decision to appoint a Democrat was caused by the partisan tone of Wellstone’s funeral, which offended his wife so much that it drove her to tears and caused the Governor to walk out. This suggests that Schramm may be on to something with his theory that the partisan funeral will cause a backlash.

Election Law Commentary on "The Corner"

Have I mentioned how much I agree with "The Corner’s" new election law commentator?

Doctors Take the Capitol

While getting my morning bagel, I was surprised to see a large gathering of doctors on the Ohio State Capitol grounds. Apparently, they are there to lobby the legislature to cap malpractice claims. That seems reasonable. That said, several of the doctors almost forcibly removed my spleen (better that than some alternatives I suppose) before I explained that I am not a plaintiffs’ lawyer.

Wellstone Funeral/Campaign Rally

An addition to Robert’s previous posting. I saw some of this on C-Span. I thought the thing was appalling. This was not a funeral it was a campaign rally, and highly inappropriate. Even liberal commentators have noticed this. William Saletan says that there was "creepy arrogance" about some (almost all, I would say) of the speakers. Howard Kurtz also notes this (more even handedly) and has some useful links that give a fuller picture of the event and the Demos use of Wellstone to "nationalize" the election. I have a feeling this will backfire on Mondale and the Democrats. At the least, the event has really energized Minnesota Republicans. We’ll pay attention to the polls.

Honoring the Memory

For days, the Republicans have been chided for any attempts to do polling or conduct anything approaching election activity in Minnesota, because this was disrespectful to the memory of Paul Wellstone. Any political activity should wait, at the very least, until after his memorial service.

Well, Wellstone’s memorial service was last evening, and from what I can tell, honoring Wellstone’s memory functionally meant holding a campaign rally. The Star Tribune reports that the event was "acidly partisan." When Harkin took the stage, "the crowd cheered as if for a star’s return to a basketball game." Mondale was greeted to chants of "Fritz, Fritz, Fritz." And Trent Lott entered to, oh yes, boos.

In case there was any question left in people’s mind, Rick Kahn, one of Wellstone’s friends, urged the crowd to help win the Senate race for Paul Wellstone. He also urged Republicans to drop their "partisanship" and work for Wellstone’s reelection.

So keep in mind, partisanship honors the memory of Wellstone if it is done by Democrats, but partisan activity is unseemly and disrespectful to Wellstone if it is carried out by Republicans.

French Supports War . . . on Fat?

The New York Times reports that McDonald’s France ran an "advertorial" in the magazine Femme Actuelle, stating that children should not eat McDonald’s food more than once per week. McDonald’s U.S.A. disagreed with the advertorial, but not before the lawyers involved in lawsuits against the fast-food industry could follow the example of so many tyrants past and present and offer their thanks to France.

One wonders what possessed McDonald’s France to run these ads. Is the alternative to McDonald’s in France that much healthier? No, no, don’t eat a hamburger. Go home (or to a non-fast food restaurant), and enjoy some vegetables (covered in hollandaise), or a nice lean cut of meat (covered in bernaise sauce), or if all else fails, just gnaw a stick of butter.

New Jersey, Part II?

A lawsuit was filed yesterday in Minnesota by the Democrats seeking to force the state to mail out new absentee ballots. The Minnesota Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the matter tomorrow. It will be interesting to see if the party is seeking to force the state to use overnight mail to send the new ballots, or whether the election should simply be extended for a month or so to permit the ballots to get to the voters and back to the election officials.

Those Radical Conservative Judges

I failed to mention in the last posting on the Hobbs Act that Judge Garza voted to affirm the conviction and to uphold the Hobbs Act. This is interesting because Garza dissented in the 1999 Hickman case, which raised a nearly identical challenge to the Hobbs Act. Garza is considered to be on the short list of potential Bush nominees to the Supreme Court.

Like Ted Kennedy Doing an Interview In Front of a Bridge

Imus reports that Minnesota Senate candidate Norm Coleman did an interview for the Today show standing in front of an airplane--a very strange move given the tragic events of this past week. As Imus’s sidekick Bernard said, this makes about as much sense as Ted Kennedy doing an interview in front of a bridge.

Hobbs Act Unconstitutional?

Yesterday the Justice Department filed charges against the sniper suspects under the Hobbs Act, which prohibits obstructing commerce by extortion or threatened physical violence. On Monday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals split evenly (8-8) over whether the Hobbs Act was unconstitutional in light of recent Supreme Court opinions which more appropriately limit congressional power under the commerce clause. Because the court split evenly, the lower court’s decision upholding the prosecution for local robberies under the act was upheld. Notably, the eight justices voting to affirm did not write an opinion, a move that was rightly criticized by Judge Edith Jones. The case will likely be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court from here. While the Court has taken a strong interest in commerce clause cases, my bet is that they are unlikely to take this one unless a circuit split (that is, unless another federal circuit issues a conflicting ruling) develops.

Chang/Nathanson

Does lightning strike twice? No.

In New Jersey, a political insider convicted of related crimes informs on an elected official in a sealed proffer. The sealed document is released, and Bob Torricelli decides it is time to spend more time with his family.

In California, a political insider convicted of related crimes informs on an elected official, and when the court released the document we hear . . . what? Gray Davis soldiers on.

Why the difference? Is it the time zone? It can’t be that Bill Simon’s a less impressive candidate than Doug Forrester. If the poll numbers had cratered for Davis like Torricelli, would he have decided to take a break? If Nathanson had bought carpets and suits for Davis, instead of (allegedly) conspiring with him to shake down developers, would that have made a difference?

The SF Chronicle’s article on the release of Mark Nathanson’s letter is here. N.B. In both cases, prosecutors apparently chose not to pursue because the declarant was "unreliable."

Bye, bye, Chad?

The President signed the election reform bill today.

Washington Post Story.

As I understand it, the bill contains provisions for ID checks, and that’s great. But the major focus in the press is of course on the ballot requirements, and the whole Florida 2000 mess.

I like fairness and certainty as much as the next guy, but I’m not sure buckets of tax dollars for voting computers and training will do the trick. I can foresee in rural areas, where the clerk’s office (and its technicians) is some distance from the precinct that election administration might be smoother and fairer if the jurisdiction remained with punch cards. I administered a precinct with punch cards once, and our voters, accustomed to the routine, did just fine. In fact, since most of the precinct captains I know about are members of Our Greatest Generation, with perhaps more than a little antipathy for computers anyway, unnecessary conversion to computers may create more problems than it solves.

The Wellstone Effect

Gore invokes his name in Maine, Daschle in Iowa claims a "new chemistry" has been created by his death and there is "so much more energy than there was two or three weeks ago" and this will mean Democratic gains next week. And the Wellstone effect continues. All the while Demos are saying that Republicans (especially in Minnesota) cannot start campaigning against Mondale because that would be unseemly.

Bush in Free Fall?

Dick Morris claims that Bush’s popularity is in free fall, the Democrats have succeeded in nationalizing the election to their advantage, and implies that the last time things were this bad for a sitting president is 1994. You read the bad news yourself, it’s short enough. I don’t agree, and I’ll have more to say on these matters later.

The King Is Dead: Long Live Fox

The L.A. Times reports that Larry King Live, CNN’s top-rate show, fell in the ratings to Fox’s Hannity & Colmes. This dropped LKL to fourth place among primetime cable news programs, with Fox claiming the top three spots.

Maybe John Madden Is on to Something

The AP reports that a plane carrying Senators Lott, Santorum, and Fitzgerald to a scheduled event in Missouri was forced to land in Alabama after reporting landing gear problems. This comes days after a tragic plane crash claimed the life of Senator Paul Wellstone, and almost two years after a plane crash claimed Senate candidate Mel Carnahan. If you are in the United States Senate, John Madden’s bus has to look pretty good about now.

Bribes for Peace

Everyone’s favorite America-hater, Nicholas Kristof, writes today about the threat from North Korea. He argues that even sanctions will only lead to escalation. He quotes from an unofficial North Korean spokesman, who said that if we attacked the nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, "North Korea will retaliate immediately on New York and Washington, wipe out South Korea, wipe out Japan." It was ever so good of Kristof to tell the spokesman that he was in New York, garnering the concession of Chicago as an alternate target.

Thus for Kristof, the only solution is to cut a deal with North Korea. The deal would be essentially the same one outlined by Carter over the weekend, including elimination of the nuclear weapons program and peace talks with S. Korea in exchange for normalized relations with the West. But once again he like Carter fails to take into account the harsh realities of the situation: the North Koreans said that they wouldn’t build nuclear weapons if we just bribed them before. We put in nominal inspection, and they built the program anyway. No continuing system of bribes for peace is going to be sufficient. There will have to be real security measures--and real security measures mean having a gaggle of inspectors with free reign to go anywhere at any time. Neither Carter nor Kristof talk about how the nonproliferation is going to be enforced, presumably because they know that Kim Jong Il is going to fight any measure with teeth. Until they are willing to confront the tough issue of enforcement, their suggestions should be taken for what they are: at best fanciful hopes, and at worst the irresponsible enabling of tyrants.

Al Qaeda’s New Leadership

The Washington Post reports that recent Al Qaeda terror attacks and plots in Bali, Tunisia, and Singapore are being directed by six veterans of the terrorist organization who have risen to power in the absence of Bin Laden and his chief lieutenants. Worth a read.

Low Voter Turnout

An article in the Washington Post today suggests that there is not a coherent national issue driving voters this term. Rather, voters are concerned about numerous issues, including the economy, terrorism, and the possible war with Iraq. This really isn’t news. What is interesting, however, is reading the quotes from voters they interviewed, which suggested a low-level of voter enthusiasm. This is confirmed by Republican pollster Ed Goeas, who notes that polls show only around 65% of registered voters saying that they are "extremely likely" to vote, compared with the normal level of the high 70s for this time of the election year.

All this points to low voter turnout, and that means that it is anyone’s game. When there is low voter turnout, a highly mobilized constituency can be the difference in key elections. The push for the parties will then be get-out-the-vote activities. Look for heavy union activities in the days leading into elections, including perhaps a repeat of the practice of giving union members election day off to vote.

Assassination in Jordan

An American diplomat was gunned down in his driveway in Amman Jordan yesterday. The New York Times suggests that this was connected to the recent string of terror attacks in the middle east which have targeted Americans.

Triggerman Requirement

Fox News this morning interviewed the Bob Cleary, the unabomber prosecutor. Cleary noted that a major problem for the prosecution will be proving who pulled the trigger in each incident, given that some states (like Virginia) do not permit capital sentences for accomplices. The solution may be to go to a state like Alabama, which has law permitting capital punishment for accomplices to intentional murder.

The Aging Democratic Party

A call yesterday from a reporter from the Los Angeles Times led me to thinking about something. She wanted to know if I thought that both the Lautenberg and Mondale replacements indicated whether or not the "boomers" are being replaced or disowned in politics. Are the old folks making a comeback? I thought about it for a while and thought the question was badly put. The real question is: What does it mean for the Democratic Party when two guys in the mid-seventies are being seen as the heroes of this election, of pulling the party’s chestnuts out of the fire, of keeping the Senate in Democratic hands? This is especially odd, I argued, given that Clinton was a boomer (and played up his youth), claimed to be a moderate who overcame the post-McGovern leftward tilt of the party, and therefore was the only Demo president re-elected to a second term since FDR. In short, he was a successful president (from the Demo point of view). Now, in their attempt to win an election (and hold the Senate) the Demos are going backwards. They are already in the process of nationalizing the election by using the tragedy of Wellstone’s death as a replacement for a political philosophy that they have been disowning. Wellstone was on the fringes of the party. Yet, in being used as a symbol, his left wing political ideology is being revivified. They are saying "let’s win this for Wellstone." Well, this clarion call may prove to be successful in the short term, but it will have bad long term consequences for the Democrats. They are on their way toward re-defining their party as more liberal, they are on their way toward justifying the left-wingers in the party, the very thing they have been trying to overcome--with success--over the last twenty years. Also, what will happen to those younger and ambitious Democrats who are trying to climb up the ladder by following in the supposed Clinton moderate mode? This could become very interesting. Especially if they are successful in holding the Senate--and it is almost inevitable that the old gezeers get the credit--there will be an open ideological battle within the party that 1) the new turks will end up losing, yet the old liberal-left cannot end up winning and, therefore, 2) the Clintons (plural) will end up dominating. This will almost certainly insure that Hillary becomes the nominee in 2008. She will be seen as the center.

Muhammed Tied to Synagogue Shooting

The AP reports that John Muhammad has been tied to a murder in the state of Washington and to a shooting at a synagogue. This should surprise no one.

More Political Endorsements

The Washington Post today announced its endorsement of Anthony Wiliams for another term as DC mayor. I’m sure that Frasier star Kelsey Grammer, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who joined hundreds of other people who had their names forged on Mr. William’s nomination petitions, will be pleased to hear about the endorsement.

Alabama Offers the Toughest Death Penalty Law

The AP reports today that the states involved in the sniper shooting are vying to demonstrate which has the toughest death penalty law in order to convince the federal government to give them the first opportunity to prosecute the suspects. On this count, a brief review I have performed suggests that the state with the toughest law is Alabama. While Virginia does have the death penalty for minors, thereby permitting capital charges against Mr. Malvo, it also has a "triggerman" requirement (requiring the prosecutor to show that the defendant actually pulled the trigger for a fatal shot) for capital convictions. Given this, it is predictable that Malvo and Muhammed will get into a he-said/he-said defense, each claiming that the other actually pulled the trigger in a concerted attempt to avoid the death penalty. Even with the triggerman requirement, this defense is likely to fail: the evidence seems to suggest more than one shooter, and it is unlikely that a jury would be convinced by the defendants’ fingerpointing. That said, however, Alabama does not have a "triggerman" requirement, but rather permits capital punishment for accomplices to intentional murder. Accordingly, when combined with Alabama’s law permitting the death penalty for minors, and Alabama’s strong record for upholding capital convictions on appeal, it appears that Alabama would have the toughest capital law.

On the Wrong Anthrax Trail?

This is a fascinating (and long) newstory from the Washington Post on the still unsolved anthrax investigation. It is being suggested by scientists that the FBI has been unjustifiably holding on to an incorrect assumption, viz., that a single person is responsible. Here is an interesting paragraph: "Instead, suggested Spertzel and more than a dozen experts interviewed by The Washington Post in recent weeks, investigators might want to reexamine the possibility of state-sponsored
terrorism
, or try to determine whether weaponized spores may have been stolen by the attacker from an existing, but secret, biodefense program or perhaps given to the attacker by an accomplice."

Who’s on First II: Virginia is for Prosecutors

A wise reader sent me an email noting a couple of things about my previous post. One, the federal government is not the only entity which has restrictions on prosecuting where other states have brought a prosecutorial action for the same offense: some states have similar requirements. This is true, but as the Heath case demonstrates, Alabama has demonstrated that it is willing to prosecute after another sovereign in order to vindicate its interests.

The second point made by the reader was that the suspects are in federal custody, rather than Maryland custody as I stated. Mea culpa. I still stand by my argument that whoever is holding the suspects will have a strong political incentive to prosecute them. That said, given the administration’s stance on federalism, and the fact that, notwithstanding the Hobbs Act, murder is more appropriately a local crime, the feds will likely look to dish them off to a state. If so, I must agree with the reader that Virginia is the likely recipient of the suspects, given their strong death penalty statute, which includes the death penalty for minors.

Shelby Steele Article

Last night, just before the last game of the Series (the outcome of which, I mention in passing, I predicted!) I went to the local Barnes and Noble (OK, it’s really fiteen miles away) and picked up a copy of the November Harper’s. Now, I don’t normally buy the thing, because it is almost always filled with predictably liberal and pseudo-sophisticated over-writing, but I look at the cover, just in case. Well, it turns out that the lead essay is by Shelby Steele and is entitled "The Age of White Guilt."
Steele is very good, as we know. But this essay may be the best he has ever written. I read it just before the last game of the Series. Two great pleasures, back to back. It is not on-line so you will have to get your own copy. Get it. Read it.

The Double Standard

In a South Carolina Senate debate, Democratic candidate Alex Sanders attacked Republican candidate Lindsey Graham for a campaign ad featuring an endorsement by Giuliani. At a time when Giuliani is one of the most popular political figures in the country, this seems like an odd move. More interesting is the wording of the accusation:

"He’s [Giuliani’s] an ultra-liberal," Sanders said. "His wife kicked him out and he moved in with two gay men and a Shih Tzu. Is that South Carolina values? I don’t think so."

This comes on the heals of an ad by Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), which opponent Mike Taylor said insinuated that Taylor was homosexual. The ad, which shows Taylor applying makeup to a man in a cosmetology school that Taylor operated, talks about the poor financial management of the school, and concludes with the punchline: "not the way we do business here in Montana"--a phrase that Taylor supporters believe had a double meaning when viewed in the context of the commercial.

I just thought it was worth mentioning the double-standard on this issue. If either of these statements/commercials were made by Republicans, gay rights groups like the Human Rights Campaign would be marching on the state capitals and running ads against the candidates. The Democrats would be denouncing their opposition as homophobic or worse. Yet when the Democrats make such statements, the silence is deafening.

The Mondale Delay

John Eastman correctly points out the difficulty for Mondale with the absentee ballots, and I fully agree that there is legal action on the horizon. I would only add that the delay in announcing the candidacy may be more politically than legally strategic. Those who watched the talk shows this weekend noted that liberal commentators got free reign to praise Mondale, while any comments about his record of tax increases were quickly swatted down, claiming that it was improper to talk about such things before "we have had a chance to mourn" and before Mondale formally announces his candidacy. It now appears that Mondale will announce his decision to run after after the Wellstone memorial service tomorrow. In addition to showing some actual respect for the deceased, it also gives Mondale a maximum opportunity for criticism-free campaigning. Essentially, the media and liberal analysts get a few days to talk about what a great choice Mondale is, while shouting SHAME to anyone who would politicize the moment by talking about issues.

This is not to say that I disagree with John--to the contrary I think he is right to point out that legal calculations are impacting the timing--rather I simply add these political calculations to the timing question.

Who’s On First?

There has been a lot of smoke cast about over the weekend about who should be first to prosecute the sniper suspects. Maryland is making a hard pitch, saying that because they have more victims, they should get the first chance. Virginia and Alabama are not pleased by such an option, because Maryland is a more liberal state--one with a moratorium on the death penalty, and one in which Mr. Malvo may not be given a capital sentence because he is a minor. The Feds also think that they should get the first shot, asserting that because this is an interstate spree involving extortion and murder, the Hobbs Act applies. Who then should get the first opportunity? The shocking answer is that in the long run, it really doesn’t matter.

Maryland’s prosecutor was on Meet the Press yesterday, trying to make it appear that he wasn’t trying to build a political name off of the prosecution. At the same time, he made at least one clear blunder in his claim that the Federal Government should not bring the claims first: he suggested that this would raise double jeopardy issues. But this neglects the fact that double jeopardy doesn’t apply where charges are brought by different sovereigns, whether the charges are brought by different states, or by the state and the federal government. In Heath v. Alabama, for example, a suspect entered into a plea bargain to avoid the death penalty in Georgia after he kidnapped an individual in Alabama and killed her in Georgia. The U.S. Supreme Court found that this prosecution did not preclude Alabama from prosecuting the individual (and from seeking the death penalty), because Alabama had its own interests as a separate sovereign to vindicate. There is an equally long line of cases supporting such action by the federal government. The one limitation on the federal government is found in the DOJ policy procedures, which precludes federal prosecution after a state prosecution unless the matter raises a substantial federal interest. The bottom line is that if the feds go second, there will be enough momentum within the DOJ to support this internal finding.

So where does this leave the question of who prosecutes first? First, the presumption has to be that Maryland will get the first chance. Contrary to all the commentary, it is not because they have more victims, but rather because the suspects are in custody there. Any transport of the suspects would be an act of comity, something which commonly occurs, but not where there is big political capital on the line. Here, Maryland has solid reasons to prosecute, and the prosecutor will be seeking to make a name for himself, which he can carry to state-wide office. The only entity who may have a chance of short-circuiting this process is the feds. To quote my law school professor, Richard Epstein, when it comes to the federal government, the general rule is "what Lola wants, Lola gets." How the feds would put a squeeze on the locals is unclear to me, but they seem to be the one entity who could make a play--particularly because they could carry out a prosecution in Maryland, and thereby avoid the issues of transferring the suspects out of state. Either way, however, the double jeopardy law does not prohibit Virginia or Alabama from prosecuting the suspects after Maryland. Given the more effecient judicial systems in those states, you can almost be assured that the suspects, if guilty, will be executed in either Virginia or Alabama before their appeals run in Maryland.

Today’s Nominee For Best Campaign Ad

While watching Meet the Press over the weekend, I saw an advertisement for Evelyn Stratton for Ohio Supreme Court. The ad was set up to look like a personal injury commercial, with two lawyers explaining that if you are stealing a hubcap, and the car rolls over your hand, then "that would hurt, and you can sue." They repeated this punchline with another hypo about drying your poodle in a microwave: that could hurt, you could sue. For someone who grew up in L.A., where every child knows the attorney slogan "Larry H. Parker got me $2.1 million," the ad was particularly funny. Stratton then offers the more serious point that frivolous lawsuits cost Ohio families $2500 per year. It’s hard to come up with good ads for judges, but this one gets the prize for today.

To Be A Kennedy

With the Maryland Gubernatorial race coming to the wire (the last poll I saw gave Erlich (R) a 1 point lead over Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D)), the Washington Post offers a lengthy puff piece on Townsend for anyone who forgot that her maiden name is "Kennedy."

Kristol and Hume predictions missing a key piece

As Robert Alt notes below, on Fox News this morning Bill Kristol and Brit Hume predicted a Mondale victory in Minnesota. Kristol and Hume are, I think, ignoring a key piece of Minnesota state law -- all those absentee ballots already mailed and cast for Wellstone will still be counted as Wellstone votes, even if the Democrats decide to "nominate" Mondale to fill the vacancy. (See Minnesota statute and Sec. of State explanation). So, unless the Democrats have been uncharacteristically lax in their absentee efforts in Minnesota this year (hard to imagine, given the closeness of the race and Democrat efforts nationwide in nursing homes, etc., to boost absentee votes to 30% of the total, as reported in Friday’s WSJ), Mondale would have to win a pretty big landslide on election day in order to prevail. Assuming total turnout of 2.3 million and about 5% going to minor party candidates (based on recent turnout trends, and taking into account that this is not a Presidential election year), an absentee vote of 30%, with 70% already cast (or that will be cast using the original ballots), and further assuming Democrat absentee efforts produced a 55-40% margin (first for Wellstone, then for Mondale), Mondale would have to win by more than 10 percentage points on election day in order to prevail.

I believe this is the reason that Mondale has not already committed to being on the ballot -- I expect to see litigation filed Monday asking a court to treat the absentee votes already cast for Wellstone as Mondale votes. Without that, it might be better for the Democrat party simply to urge Democrat voters to cast a vote for Wellstone and have a repeat of 2000 Missouri, if they can.

World Series, Angels Will Win

I have been trying to watch as much of this series as possible (although I did fall asleep by the seventh inning of the fifth game). I am rooting for the Angels because I was for so many lean years an Angel fan when I lived in California (couldn’t stand the Dodgers; pencil necks and would be movie stars, all). So here is Thomas Boswell’s article on yesterday’s game and what may happen tonight. A good read (even if you read it after the last game). I predict that the Angels will win because 1) they are more hungry and hence tougher in the clutch, and 2) they are playing at home; in the seventh game of the World Series this matters a lot.

Muslim Ties of Snipers

Mark Steyn writes on why we shouldn’t be surprised that these two killers were Muslims (I hadn’t yet heard that the younger illegal immigrant was also one) and that this is a bad sign: radical Islamists are a highly decentralized operation, but with enough organized cooperation to get things done. The point is, it doesn’t matter if they were acting on orders or simply improvising.

There He Goes Again

Jimmy Carter has an op-ed in today’s New York Times, in which he lays out his objectives for "engaging North Korea." In describing his actions in bringing about the 1994 agreement, in which the United States essentially paid the North Koreans not to build nuclear weapons, he paints a false dichotomy. In Carter’s world, there were two options: placate the dictator and ply him with cash (we’ll call this diplomacy), or face all-out-war. There seem to be a lot of possible steps in between, including notably cutting off funds through sanctions, rather than giving North Korea more money to develop its military capabilities.

Faced with the abysmal failure of his policies, Carter once again paints the false dichotomy: we can have peace talks or all-out-war. If North Korea forgoes any nuclear weapon program and enters into good faith talks with South Korea, then Carter thinks that America should move toward normal relations with North Korea. In other words, without saying how it is that we are to verify that North Korea no longer has a nuclear weapons program, Carter suggests that if Kim Jong Il makes a few more potentially empty gestures, we should send him more money. No one wants to rush into a war with North Korea, especially now that they have benefited from years of U.S. funding to build their military and nuclear resources. But there are options other than bribing North Korea to play nice on the peninsula. To begin with, we need genuine inspection of the nuclear capabilities, and not the equivalent of Carter’s inspection of the alleged Cuban biological weapons facilities (paraphrase: Mr. Castro told me nothing is here, and I don’t see anything here). Carter avoided suggesting inspection because it is unlikely that Kim Jong Il would give inspectors unfettered access, and he knows that that would be a deal breaker for both sides. Better to gloss over this point, and make an unalloyed pitch for equivocation. With due respect to the WSJ’s Best of the Web, Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

Mondale to Accept Nomination; Hume "Almost Guarantees" Return of Senator Mondale

Fox News Sunday, relying on the reporting of Fox News Channel’s Carl Cameron, stated that Walter Mondale is likely to accept the nomination to appear on the Minnesota ballot on Wednesday or Thursday. Bill Kristol stated that he believed the Democrats would hold the Minnesota seat with Mondale on the ticket. Brit Hume went even further, saying that he would "almost guarantee that Walter Mondale will be the new Senator."

Smith: On Rove’s Bad Side?

With the NH race so close, a key feature may be supporters of Senator Bob Smith, who are mounting a write-in campaign for Smith. While Smith has coolly endorsed Sununu, he has made no public efforts to rein in his supporters from carrying out the write-in campaign.

With Smith’s career winding down in the Senate, he is believed to desire a position in the administration. If Smith fails to swallow his pride and to provide direction to his supporters, instead of a cushy administration job, he may find out just how bad it is to be on the wrong side of Karl Rove.

Down to the Wire in NH

The Washington Post reports that the New Hampshire Senate race is almost dead even entering the final week. I confirmed this story against the latest poll by American Research Group, which shows John Sununu with a 2 percent lead over Jeanne Shaheen (+/- 4% margin of error). The Post article runs the same day that the Boston Globe unsurprisingly announced their endorsement of Shaheen. (Shouldn’t a Globe endorsement carry negative value in NH?)

Age and Inexperience

David Broder reports that Democrats are seeking Walter Mondale to replace Senator Wellstone on the Minnesota ballot. Continuing the "retro" candidacy tradition of Frank Lautenberg, Mondale last served in the Senate prior to his Vice Presidential run in 1976. The move for Mondale is a logical one for the Democrats, who need to recruit someone with a high name identification in order to stand a chance in the 8 days leading up to election day.

Mondale is 74. It is worth noting that the Mondale presidential campaign attempted to make an issue of Reagan’s age during the 1984 campaign. Reagan was 73. One wonders if "age and inexperience" will be an issue once again.

Colorado Senate Race

Andy Busch writes a comprehensive piece about the Senate race in Colorado. I disagree with Busch that Allard has run a good campaign; Busch is trying to put the best light on things. Although I hope he is right that Allard still has a chance, I’m worried about this one. The White House must think an Allard win is possible since the President is scheduled to be in Colorado on the 28th, this Monday. And here is a report on the amount of money each side has raised, totalling nine million; Allard has raised a few hundred thousand more than Strickland.

Chechen Leader a Wahhabi Muslim?

According to this report, Movsar Barayev, the Chechen commanding the terrorists who took over the Moscow theatre is a Wahhabi Muslim. I had no idea that there were any Chechen Wahhabis. What does this mean? The Russians stormed the theatre yesterday, freed the hostages--although about 60 died--and killed the terrorists, including Barayev .

Iraq War Only Weeks Away

Jim Hoagland writes in the Washington Post that the war is only eight weeks away. His sources are very good, worth reading.

Belafonte a Racist

Here is Andrew Sullivan in Salon on Belafonte. Although the whole thing is worth reading, here is a good paragraph.
"But this attempt to reduce Colin Powell, an accomplished soldier and respected diplomat who wields more influence than any African-American in history, to
a crude caricature of a racial stereotype should be called what it is. It’s racism. And what does Belafonte get from peddling in such bigotry? He gets an evening devoted to lionizing him Thursday night by a group that considers itself progressive: the Africare annual dinner. As an extra twist, this demagogue has the power to demand that Condi Rice, the most powerful African-American woman in the history of American government, be disinvited as a condition of his appearance." Clarence Page also beats up on Belafonte.

Minnesota law re ballot vacancies

The talking heads are right -- Minnesota statute sec. 204B.41 provides for the preparation of supplemental ballots when a vacancy in nomination occurs through the death or catastrophic illness of a candidate after the 16th day before the general election but not during the three calendar days before the election.
Significantly, absentee ballots mailed before the preparation of supplemental ballots "shall be counted in the same manner as if the vacancy had not occurred."

More on MN and vacancies

Various TV talking heads are reporting that Minnesota permits replacement of a party’s nominee on the ballot up to 4 days before the election. I wonder whether any state has a more lenient rule -- and how do they cope with the ballots? "Just write in Walter Mondale."?

Minnesota vacancy

First, my best wishes go out to the Wellstone family and his campaign.

Yet, morbidly, let me see if I understand Professor Eastman’s post and what he thinks will happen.

Here, a vacancy has occurred in the last year of a Senator’s term. The election will go forward with Wellstone and Coleman on the ballot, right? If Coleman wins, we have essentially the Carnahan situation, where the office is filled by gubernatorial appointment -- how soon thereafter is an election held? Six years? If Coleman wins, he wins, and serves a regular six year term. Right?

Minnesota Law on filling Senate vacancy

Given the impact of Senator Wellstone’s unfortunate and untimely death on the balance in the U.S. Senate, both currently and beyond November 5, there will undoubtedly be questions about how Senate vacancies are filled according to Minnesota law.

Minnesota Statute sec. 204D.28, subsect. 11, provides that the Governor may fill vacancies with a temporary appointment, who holds office only until a successor is elected at a special election or, in the case such as this when the vacancy occurs in the year before the term was set to expire, only until an individual is elected for the regular six-year term, in which case the newly-elected Senator will take office immediately for the remainder of the unexpired term.

More on Wellstone’s Death

It looks like both his wife and daughter were on the plane with him. They have two sons, not on the plane, and are alive.

Senator Wellstone Dies in a Plane Crash

CNN just reported that Senator Wellstone and seven other people on the plane died in a crash.

Another great apology

This apology appeared on "Secrecy News" an email news service to which I subscribe, written by Steve Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists. (It is a very interesting service if you want to stay on top of the classification debate, FOIAs or other disclosure issues in the defense/intelligence area). Let this be a lesson to you all.

"A WORD ON UFOS

"The item entitled "UFO Cult Resurfaces" in the previous edition of
Secrecy News included regrettable errors of commission and omission,
such as these:

"Proponents of UFO-related declassification are not literally a "cult,"
and it was gratuitously insulting to use that term; there are at
least some historically or otherwise significant documents that
remain classified (e.g. records on Project Moondust) that could be
considered UFO-related; there is nothing intrinsically disreputable
in the investigation of peripheral phenomena; and under the Freedom
of Information Act, anyone is free to ask for anything, as they
should be.

"But the fact remains that the interests of those focused on UFOs are
not the same as those concerned with the larger problem of public
access to government information. Though UFO disclosure advocates
have acquired the internet domain name "freedomofinfo.org," it does
not accurately represent their narrow goals. (For a more faithful
match between domain name and content, see www.freedominfo.org, the
online network of freedom of information advocates.)

Project Moondust?

Time for an Apology?

In what may be my favorite story of the day, a group of Los Angeles Barbers are seeking an apology from Jesse Jackson for, well, for his demanding an apology from the makers of the film Barbershop. The barbers claim that the movie, which notably includes an expletive directed at the Reverend Jackson, is not offensive. They also claim that Jackson’s statement has hurt their business, and that if he doesn’t apologize, they are going to file a defamation suit. While I have serious concerns about the merit of such a suit, I must say that it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Carnahan’s Last Stand

Last night during a Missouri Senate debate, Jean Carnahan wagged her finger at challenger Jim Talent, accusing him of accusing her of being unpatriotic. Talent responded by saying that it was not her patriotism but her positions that he questioned.

While I did not see the debate, the press accounts makes it sound like this was a "planned wag." If so, this was a remarkably bad calculation by the campaign. A finger wag has a school-marmish condescension to it that is not likely to sit well with voters. It also brings to mind someone who wagged his finger while being less than truthful (thank you once again, Mr. Clinton).

The biggest problem for Carnahan, however, is that she wagged her finger about a serious issue which she has treated with anything but seriousness. After all, it was just last week that she was quoted as saying “I’m the number one target of the White House. They can’t get Osama bin Laden, so they’re going to get me." So, after denigrating the armed forces in Afghanistan and making light of what is probably the most serious issue to voters, she thought that it would be good to lecture others on patriotism.

Both the comment and the wag are symptoms of the same disease: Carnahan’s campaign is faltering, and she in response is flailing. As reported here yesterday, even the DNC Chairman has publicly recognized that Carnahan is in trouble. The wag may simply be the last straw.

Spying for Hezbollah

What struck me about these twelve Israelis who were arrested for spying is that they were Arabs. I didn’t know that there were Arab officers in the Israeli military. I wonder if there are Jewish officers in the military of Arab states? I also didn’t know that Hezbollah operated as a professional intelligence service.

War Only Weeks Away?

This is a thoughtful (and short) analysis of American power, character, and--really-- geopolitics. It is from the London Times.

The Stupidest State

Dave Barry is angry that Florida (his state) is 47th on the list; he can’t believe that there are three stupider. Amusing.

Muhammad’s License Plate and 9/11

John Muhammad got his NJ license plates on the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. There was also a bomb scare (phoned in) minutes after the transaction.

Like a Duck in a Noose

This is an attempt to figure out what was meant by the phrase "like a duck in a noose" that was read by the Montogomery County police chief on Wednesday night at the direction of the sniper. It is, apparently, a reference to an old fable. ABC News claims it is from a Cherokee Indian story. It may still be worth figuring it out. Why do I sense that this is not yet over?

North Korean Nukes

This is an excellent article by Henry Sokolski on the North Korean nuke problem, how we got here, and what not to do again.

Some Facts on the Two Arrested in Sniper Attacks

Here are some bare-bones facts from CNN on how these guys were caught, and then a timeline on who was killed from ABC News, and the dates. Note that Muhammad was briefly stopped by cops on October 8 (the shootings started Oct 3), but he was not suspected of anything (he was in Baltimore, his vehicle tags were from New Jersey, his driver’s license from the state of Washington); yet, later, the notes made from that encounter helped cops get him.

The Meaning of the Moscow Theatre Attack for the U.S.

This is a very good article from National Review Online detailing the connections between Chechen so called "rebels" and terrorists, why this attack on the 600 people in the theatre is a true horror (akin to 9/11), and why it "may portend the shape of looming evil." I would like to hear from readers on this issue.

Jean Carnahan: McAuliffe’s #1 Worry

DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe conceded in the New York Times today that his number 1 worry was whether Jean Carnahan of Missouri could hold her seat against challenger Jim Talent. The article, which includes so many quotes from McAuliffe that you might confuse it for a press release from the DNC, also makes clear what has been obvious for some time: the DNC’s highest priority is defeating Jeb Bush in Florida in order to send a message to the President.

Sniper Arrests?

Things are not yet clear. Are these the snipers? Although one cop is reported to have said "we got our guys," nothing is clear yet. But, I must say, the fact that at least one of the guys is a Muslim and is noted by some to have anti-American sentiments, is not irrelevant. The media is hardly able to mutter such sentiments and possibilities. This would not be the case, I bet, if these guys were some white supremicist nuts. Both the facts of the case and how it is unfolding in the press are worth watching the next many days. Here is a piece from a Seattle paper. And the report from FOX News.

Bush’s Popularity

Gallup reports that Bush continues to be very popular, a week and a half before the election. Note some of the figures reported and see which issue is more likely to have an effect on the elections. Which party would better handle terrorism: GOP 52%, Dem 23%. Which party would be better handling health care: Dem 52%, GOP 29%. Mac Owens argues that, like Lincoln, Bush continues to be understimated. Advantage Bush.

No Time to Sleep

Senator John McCain writes an op-ed in the Washington Post today contrasting the failed accommodationism of Clinton’s policy in North Korea with the Bush policy in Iraq. He argues that America needs to sustain credibility in the international arena, and that Pyongyang will be watching to see if we carry through with our ultimatums against Iraq. The article is worth a read. Readers of this column will note that this article comes the same week that media guru Marshall Wittmann begins his tenure as McCain’s Communications Director.

"We Got Our Guys"

Washington, DC--John Allen Muhammed (aka John Williams) and 17-year-old stepson Lee Malvo are in custody on suspicion that they may be responsible for the sniper killings. MSNBC reports that a member of the Montgomery County police said after the arrest "we got our guys."

Muhammed is a gulf war veteran who is reported to have made anti-American statements, and to have expressed support for the September 11 bombers. The police appear to have gotten the vital tip from the sniper himself. In a phone conversation with the officers involved in the case, an individual believed to be the sniper said that he was serious, and that they should "check with the people in Montgomery." The police found a shooting which occurred at a Montgomery, Alabama liquor store in which the shooter used the same caliber rifle as was used in the DC area shootings. The police were then able to identify Malvo based on a fingerprint found at the convenience store.

Federal officers in Bellingham, Washington (near Tacoma) have collected potential evidence, including a tree trunk from a Duplex where the suspects lived while Malvo went to high school in the area. The tree is believed to have been used as a target, and may contain potential ballistics evidence.

Appeal to Immigrants in Sniper Case

Maryland authorities appealed for witnesses to the shootings, especially
immigrants, to call them with information, and the U.S. government promised not
to target illegal immigrants who offer help to investigators. This is a new development, isn’t it?

Iraqis Linked to OK City Bombing?

This is intriguing. The story might be worth paying attention to.

Chechens Take Hundreds Hostage

AP reports that about 20 Chechens have taken over a Moscow theatre with about 700 people inside. They threatened to blow them all up (including themselves) unless Russia got out of Chechnya.

Rove the Captain

The elections are upon us and every pundit is worried because there is no general issue that reveals itself. (Will the elections be decided on a penny issue like the cost of prescription drugs, or a nickel issue like social security, etc.) Yet, it is now starting to be admitted that 1) Demos will not take back the House, and 2) they will be pretty lucky if they keep the Senate. In short, conventional wisdom is about to fall. So where do you look to figure it all out? Study polling data until the last minute? Push some more paper around pretending that you are a general while not wearing any boots? No, look to those whose minds are focused and who have some responsibility to look after the whole field of battle. Look to those who wear boots and who don’t ride horses only for pleasure. Find the great captain and you will find that he is not calculating from bits and pieces of unconnected information. Find him in the heat of battle surveying all before him. Look to his insights and his daemon and don’t ask him to explain the penny and nickel questions. He will have a plan and that plan has evolved from his eye and brain and soul and it will encompass the whole theatre of operations and it will be accurate. And that plan will reveal itself as an insight; not perfectly clear to anyone but himself. Look to Karl Rove. He may be such a captain.

Oriana Fallaci’s Book

I’m just starting to pay attention to Fallaci’s new book, The Rage and the Pride, which is getting an interesting reception in Europe. She is being villified and attacked and threatened for criticizing Islam. Italian women are fascinating, no? As the Poet said, "Those girls of Italy, take heed of them." (All’s Well, II,i,22)

No! Lamar! Go for the JUGULAR

Lamar Alexander, candidate, wrist wrestling champion, and master of dirty handshake tricks.

Killer Handshake Story

Seinfeld Election

Walter Shapiro writes in USA Today that this is the "Seinfeld election." He means that it is about nothing. There are no issues, no movement, everything is so evenly balanced, etc. Then he says that he is starting to worry that he is missing something big. Indeed, reporters may be missing something big when they are reading tea leaves, looking for a nuance here and a revealing and worried eye there.
What could they be missing? Two things: The popularity of President Bush and the low voter turnout from those who would normally vote Democratic. As a practical matter the latter point is becoming very significant. The reports over the last week--and never hesitate to read between the lines in such reports--indicate that the Democratic turnout will be underwhelming. No black-Hispanic alliance or enthusiasm in Texas, for example, no anti-business sentiment resulting from corporate corruption, no anti-Republican hatred from rank and file union members, no real worry about the economy (or at least holding GOP responsible for its sluggishness)... You get the point. No issue is making Demos enthusiastic, and they need to be fired up to come and vote in a non-presidential lection. Now only the big things start counting. Now let’s pay attention to the Senate races in Missouri, South Dakota, Minnesota. The House will stay in GOP hands.

Gun Control in England

Here are the consequences of banning guns in England; the left calls their ban the "gold standard" of gun control. Only the bad guys have them and crime is rising. The article is from Reason.

Domestic Issues the Key?

USA Today runs a lengthy article that maintains, one way or the other, that of the twenty one House races and seven for the Senate that seem to be toss-ups, domestic issues will determine the winner. One sage is quoted saying that "What’s going to swing the vote is jobs, prescription drugs, education, and Social Security." I hope this guy has tenure.

Presidential Greatness?

This is a talk Sid Milkis gave at one of the Ashbrook Teachers Institute (seminar for high schools teachers) last summer. It is pretty good, for an academic! You can listen to all three seminars (on the Founding, Lincoln, and the Presidency) by going here. Profs who taught the seminars were: Lucas Morel, Mac Owens, John Moser, David Tucker, Christopher Flannery, and Gordon Lloyd.

Is Saddam Crumbling?

Andrew Sullivan has a few good paragraphs reflecting on the demonstrations in the streets of Baghdad and asks whether we could have another Ceausescu on our hands.

Sniping at Snipers II

Living just off the Beltway and across the street from an elementary school, with my own private police officer parked in front of our house every day, I know I shouldn’t make light of the sniper business. (On the other hand, I recall from childhood my upper crust British aunt who rode out the Blitz in London in 1940, describing how put out they were when the Luftwaffe’s nightly raid arrived early and interrupted the dessert course. Where is that spirit today? I’m afraid it died with Churchill, who, recall, opposed evacuatng England’s children to Canada. . .)

So when I heard the sniper’s message this afternoon that "your children aren’t safe any time, any place," my first thought was: "Isn’t that the motto of the Children’s Defense Fund, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Ralph Nader, and both Clintons??"

Day-O!

That wacky Harry Belafonte just can’t stop! For someone who made it big on "The Banana Boat Song" I’m not sure I’d be using those slavery metaphors quite so recklessly. Check out this Belafonte fan site for a collection of notes to Harry from people who believed they could reach him via the Web.

Let me add that Condolezza Rice was my undergraduate advisor at Stanford. She was a fiercy formidable person as an Assistant Professor of Political Science. I do not think Mr. Belafonte and the lemmings at Africare have thought this thing through.

Accurate Bombing and Civilian Casualties

This article from the Christian Science Monitor makes clear that a mere technical problem becomes a moral issue when we are at war with a tyrant. In the Gulf War we meant to hit, and did hit, the Amiriyah bunker and we killed over 400 civilians. And it was Saddam’s doing. He is willing to sacrifice his own people.

Note this paragraph:
"The Pentagon targeted Amiriyah because it picked up electronic
signals coming from the site, and spy satellites could see a lot of
people and vehicles moving in and out of the bunker. It fit the profile of
a military command center, says Charles Heyman, the
London-based editor of Jane’s World Armies. The Pentagon didn’t find
out until much later, says Mr. Heyman, that the Iraqis had put an
aerial antenna on top of the bunker. The antenna was connected by
cable to a communications center safely 300 yards away."

And in the next war we can be certain that Saddam will do similar things, and then his propaganda machine will roar.

Collapse of the Universe

I want to be brief, yet this needs to be brought to your attention. I have to run off to my Churchill seminar. It has been determined by two dogged physics professors that the universe will stop expanding and collapse in the near future. The universe, it would seem, will disappear in somewhere between ten and twenty billion years. This is rough news. And my father still wonders why I didn’t study something serious, like physics. Well, off to my Churchill seminar; I need to figure out the structure of the War of the Spanish Succession.

European Humor

Jonah Goldberg on NRO brought this irresistable bit of silliness to my attention and I can’t resist bringing it to yours. It is a lengthy chart indicating what each European country thinks of its neighbors. For example, the Poles think that the Hungarian are SDD (short, dark and dirty) and NRE (not really European). Unfortunately, the chart isn’t comprehensive enough. For example, it is not possible to figure out from the chart what the Hungarians think of the French: TWS (the women are sexy) and TMTS (the men are too sexy) and THBWD (they have better wines, dammit) and DLAF (done like a Frenchman). Of course, if Goldberg weren’t so pro-European, he might have elaborated on some of this. What we need is some European (i.e., ethnic) humor: What’s the first thing a Slovak does when he wants to make scrambles eggs? (asks the Hungarian).... Well, you get the drift. A nice place to be from.

Urbane Urban Warfare

The New York Times runs a story today on how the U.S. has refined our war plans to fight in cities. We are no longer talking of razing cities, and have taken into account--with more seriousness than ever before--Sun Tzu’s warning: "The worst policy is to attack cities." So we are relying more than ever on intelligence, tight coordination, rapid movement, and selective targeting. The Defense Department has published a massive document (150 pages), called a "Doctrine for Joint Urban Operations," on the subject. Worth having a look.

GOP Ahead in Texas

This morning’s Dallas Morning News runs a story (and polls) showing that the Republican candidates for Governor and U.S. Senator are ahead (by 10 to 15 points) and that there is no such thing as a black-Hispanic coalition that the Demos have been counting on. Low turnout will clearly be a problem for Dems. The base is not energized. This seems to be a national problem for them.

McCall: How to Finish Third in New York

As previously noted, Clinton and Democratic officials have appealed to N.Y. gubernatorial candidate Carl McCall to do something, anything to resurrect his flagging campaign(see posting below). McCall seems to have decided that the best way to do this is to accuse Governor Pataki of a lack of leadership for failing to require ballistic fingerprinting of rifles before the sniper began his rampage. Now here’s an idea that’s sure to lose McCall several points among upstate voters by antagonizing hunters. It also has the virtue of offending downstate voters by appearing to use recent tragic events for brazen political purposes. If McCall keeps this up, a third place showing may actually start to look good.

NY Dems: National Humiliation

The New York Post reports that Democratic party officials have informed former President Clinton that the NY Democratic Party faces the potential "national humiliation" of a 3rd place finish by Carl McCall in the governor’s race. McCall has fallen behind both Republican incumbent Pataki and Independent candidate Tom Golisano. Such a loss could be more than symbolic: a third place finish would drop Democratic candidates names to the 3rd spot on NY ballots for the next four years.

Death And Taxes

The Chicago Sun-Times offers perhaps the most depressing news of the day: "The Internal Revenue Service employees manual has instructions for collecting taxes after a nuclear war." Somehow we all knew that the only living things to survive a nuclear holocaust would be tax collectors and roaches.

Emerging Democratic Majority?

Todd Lindberg considers a book by Judis and Teixeira that claims that there is an emerging Democratic majority out there and there is no excuse for the Demo activists for not taking it all over and winning.

Anti-terror Political Strategy Needed

Fareed Zakaria claims that our military strategy against terrorists is going well, but we don’t have a political strategy worthy of the name. It’s a short piece, not fully persuasive, but worth considering. I’d like to hear more on this.

Suicide Bombing in Israel

Fourteen killed today.

Yet Another Shooting

A man was shot this morning in Montgomery County, MD. It is not yet clear that it is the same killer.

Another Possible Sniper Shooting

MSNBC is reporting another shooting, which occurred at approximately 6am this morning in Montgomery County Maryland. Initial reports suggest that the victim, who was shot in the chest and rushed to the hospital, may have been a bus driver. For those of you in the DC area, get ready for a tough commute, as the police have shut down the Beltway and Connecticut Avenue into DC from Maryland to search vehicles. This comes the day after Ashland, Virginia police revealed that a note found at the site of Saturday’s shooting in the Richmond, Virginia area was in fact left by the sniper.

No Homework, Public Shame

A frustrated mother placed a sign around her son’s neck, put him on a street corner for all to see. The sign read: "I didn’t do my homework," and then something like, honk if you think this punishment is right. The police were called in. Tough times, these.

Missouri Senate Race

This is worth a careful read. It is from the Kansas City Star. The Democratic Governor of Missouri claims that if Carnahan loses--this is a special election in which she would have to give up her seat the next day--he will get his lawyers together "to see what appropriate action should be taken." Why am I not surprised by this third-world-understanding of what constitutional government is all about?

Davis vs. Simon into the Last Innings?

Bill Whalen argues that the California gubernatorial race isn’t over yet. Television ads, low turnout, and new revelations about Gray Davis’ corruption are factors that haven’t yet fully worked themselves out (yet). I would emphasize the possibility of low voter turnout in a state that is predominantly Democratic; this has to help Simon. It also shows that the Democratic base is not motivated to vote.

French Sniper?

I am throwing this for what it’s worth. There is a French master marksman gone AWOL and he is in North America when last heard from. ABC News reports that there is speculation that there might be a connection with the sniper shootings.

Non-Militant Islamists

An article from the San Francisco Chronicle describing the rejection of violence by some former islamic militants. This has been going on for a while but has not been reported much in our press. The article describes a situation that will call for very careful thinking and action on our part.

Holden Up the Senate?

The Kansas City Star reports that Missouri Democrats are "mum" as to whether they would try to delay the seating of Jim Talent as Senator if he defeats Carnahan in the November election. While ordinarily a candidate would be seated in January, the Missouri election is to fill a seat to which Carnahan was temporarily appointed, and therefore federal law provides that the seat should be filled immediately upon certification of the result by the governor. Governor Holden (D), whose duty it is under federal law to certify the successful candidate’s election to the Senate, stated that if Talent is elected "we’ll get our attorneys (together) to see what appropriate action should be taken. We will move as expeditiously as we can with the facts that we have." Of course, there is simply no need to consult with lawyers unless you are wishing to delay certification. There is only one reasonable inference from this statement: if it makes a difference in the composition of the Senate, Holden is going to stall.

When Holden talks to his lawyers, perhaps they will tell him about a "writ of mandamus"--an extraordinary writ which courts may use to force officials to perform the functions of their office. These writs may be issued very quickly--within a day--and unfortunately for Governor Holden’s plans for delay, the petition will not be filed before the New Jersey Supreme Court.

The Problem with Pragmatism

Edward Lazarus writes an interesting albeit incomplete article on Findlaw critiquing the law and economics movement’s reliance on the presumption of human rationality. Lazarus questions the movement not only based on recent Nobel winning scholarship (the prize was in economics, and not in peace, so it actually means something) that suggests that men act from both rational and irrational impulses, but also based on his assessment of how law and economics scholars like Judge Richard Posner have imposed their views in the place of existing law. This is a very powerful critique, and is one with which Posner would not disagree (other than in the conclusion that this is somehow wrong).

While Lazarus seems disturbed by the replacement of administrative judgments with the law-and-economics-influenced assumptions of judges, he does not reach the underlying problem of pragmatism--the results oriented jurisprudence which judges like Posner use to assert their view of the proper results in priority over the statutory text. Accordingly, for Posner, jurisprudence is not limited to interpretation of statutes, or even to filling in the "gaps" in statutes. Rather, if the legislature reaches an inefficient result, he believes that it is the role of the judge to fix it, even if such a result is in direct conflict with the statute.

If Lazarus thought more deeply about his critique, he would find that it is tied up in the larger problem of pragmatism. But critiquing pragmatism would require him to engage pragmatic liberal judges--judges like Justice Breyer, who subscribes to the theory that judges may impose their vision of the best result, but doesn’t use anything like law and economics to moor his decisionmaking. It will be interesting to see if Lazarus is capable of being evenhanded enough to make the larger pragmatic critique, or whether the rant against law and economics is simply opposition to the imposition of one set of assumptions or preferences based on nothing more than his own subjective preferences.

NASCAR Politics

The Charlotte Observer reports that Senator John Edwards (D-NC)--a potential presidential contender in 2004--sponsored a race car in Iowa in his ongoing campaign to raise his flagging name recognition among voters. New Hampshire’s State Democratic Party Chairwoman suggested that a similar strategy could be successful in NH, which hosts two NASCAR weekends per year. First, am I the only one who finds it ironic that a trial lawyer is sponsoring a sport which involves automobile accidents? More importantly, does this suggest a new trend in campaign advertising? It’s enough to make someone long for the good old days, when race cars were sponsored by beer and Viagra.

Caution: Wide Left Turns

For those of you with the common sense to have missed Mary McGrory’s column on Sunday, I offer the following recap of what has to be the most morally bankrupt and confused ruminations I’ve read in some time. The title of the piece speaks volumes: "Unequal Opportunity for Tyrants," a title which is supposed to reflect her thesis that the White House is inconsistent in its treatment of Saddam Hussein and North Korea’s Kim Jong Il.

The article begins inauspiciously enough by referring to the "warlords" in the White House, whom she refers to as being "as clueless as the frustrated police pursuing the shooter who has been rampaging through Washington’s suburbs . . . ." For this sentence alone, Ms. McGrory earns the moral equivocation award of the week. How on earth can anyone believe that ousting brutal dictators and using military force against terrorist cells is the same as the petty tyranny of warlords? It is not long before the metaphor has left her, and she is claiming that Bush has done "a credible imitation of Alexander the Great conquering the known world" until North Korea entered the world stage with its recent statements regarding a nuclear weapons program. First, a little piece of writing advice for Ms. McGrory: try to pick consistent allegations. Being a warlord is not even remotely similar in scale with being a world conqueror like Alexander the Great. Second, try to make allegations that you can support with even a scintilla of credible evidence. I know that this one is tough, but readers have been known to expect it. To date, Bush has responded militarily only in Afghanistan, has suggested action in Iraq to respond to violations of UN resolutions, and has suggested that the U.S. does not rule out the possibility of essentially defensive military actions against regimes that aid and abet those who took hostile actions against the U.S. This is hardly the stuff of either a warlord or a world conqueror. By contrast, Clinton utilized force in more places during his tenure in office--but I seem to have missed Ms. McGrory’s denunciation of what must have been for her a dreadful tyranny.

Ms. McGrory then makes the case for why Kim Jong Il is a very bad man. On this point we agree. Her suggestion from here, however, is that his being arguably worse than Hussein demonstrates some sort of bias or hypocrisy on the part of the White House, because the White House has chosen to pursue Iraq but not North Korea. But it is quite apparent that what she wants is not equal treatment for tyrants, but equal appeasement of tyrants. Indeed, to support her view on appeasement of Iraq, she offers proof from the Wellstone campaign that the public really doesn’t want the war, given that Wellstone has not paid a price for voting against the war. Yes, and he is running in Minnesota, where he was able to make the calculation that the Iraq vote would not hurt him politically. Were he running in, say, South Dakota, or Missouri, or Colorado, however, he would be packing his Washington bags to move home by now.

Leaving aside this homage to appeasement, McGrory’s argument fails to make a none-too-subtle distinction: it is not inconsistent to take less costly action to stop a rising power, and not to take more costly action to stop a more developed power. By her reasoning, America would have been helpless to have responded to any tyranny in the world during the Cold War unless we were willing to attack the U.S.S.R. and China at the same time.

For the final paragraph, McGrory simply loses it. For those who suffer from high blood pressure, I don’t recommend it. For all others, I reprint it in full:

But as we barrel down the road to war with Iraq, maybe we ought to quiz our unilateralist president about why it is necessary for us to bomb, invade and occupy Iraq while North Korea gets the striped-pants treatment. Is it because North Korea has a million men under arms? Is it because Kim Jong Il never threatened to kill Bush’s father, or because he has no oil, or is not a Muslim? Maybe we should ask the advocates who dreamed for 10 years of invading Iraq. Do Richard Perle, Richard Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz believe in equal opportunity for tyrants? Their leader seems to be pointing the other way.

There are so many problems here, it is difficult to begin. How many countries must join the U.S. before it is no longer a unilateral action? Perhaps Ms. McGrory should look up the meaning of the word unilateral before she misuses it so badly again. The other accusations--in particular the anti-Muslim bias argument--are the sort of shameless race-baiting that could earn her a position in the Cynthia McKinney campaign. The President has done an admirable job of trying to restrain religious or nationalistic animosity by referring to those who committed terrorist acts as betraying their religion, and the accusation is therefore the worst sort of demagoguery.

If this is the best that the left has to offer, then they better get ready for a sharp right turn by the voting public.

"Phoney War" is Over?

David Warren argues that, with the North Korean nukes revelation, Bali bombing, etc., it looks as though this period of "phoney war" is coming to an end. There are many fuses lit, and things will get ever more serious.

Carter and Carterism

This is George Will on Carter and North Korean nukes. It nails Carter and what Will calls these "recurrent episodes of Carterism."

World Series Notes

As was done last year, Fox Sports is beginning its World Series game broadcasts with a scene of a fighter plane lifting off from an aircraft carrier, with the reminder, "You’re watching Fox Sports!" No other network would make such an unalloyed display of patriotism, let alone make sport of the brave work of our fighting men and women in the same way they often do themselves. (My favorite graffiti written on bombs in the first Gulf War was: "Give war a chance.")

It has been said since September 11 that the wave of patriotism that swept the country would have a half life. Although this is true, one notes from the first two World Series games that the crowd is still deeply serious and moved by the ritual recital of the Star Spangled Banner. It was only a few years ago that some idiot team thought it a good ideas to have Roseanne Barr sing the Star Spangled Banner before a game. It is easy to predict that that sort of frivolity will not soon happen again, if ever.

Go Angels!

No House Majority for Democrats

Stu Rothenberg runs through a dozen House races that are open (no incumbents).
The seats Demos are likely to lose include Michigan’s 10th (formerly Bonior’s seat) and Ohio’s 3rd. Worth a look, few Demo gains expected, if any.

Clinton’s Heart

I saw a brief interview with Clinton on Saturday (I think) in which he was asked about being inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. He said that he was honored and that such matters go beyond color of one’s skin. So far so good. Then he quoted (he said) Martin Luther King, Jr. to the effect that what matters is not the color of one’s skin, but the content of one’s heart. Of course, King said "content of our character" not heart. Clinton intentionally misquoted it; he just couldn’t bring himself to say character. Amazing, but not surprising.

Gov. Gray Davis Corruption List?

This is a fullsome list of Davis’ contributors and what they have gotten in return for the big bucks contributed. Does anyone know if the Simon campaign has used any of this stuff? The sheer volume and brazeness of it amazes me.

Silly Times

Today’s New York Times Sunday Magazine has a cover story from lefty economist Paul Krugman (forget a link; like most Krugman pieces, it isn’t worth reading) bemoaning the decline of the middle class and the growing ranks of the super rich. This same issue of the magazine, perhaps coincidentally, contains the twice-a-year special section on luxury real estate--the kind of stuff we call "real estate porn" around our house. Who says the Times has no sense of humor or irony?

A Liberal View’s House Races

The Nation runs an article on five House races in five states (Arizona, South Dakota, Illinois, Georgia, and Maine) claiming that these Democratic candidates have a chance because they are running on liberal issues and themes.

Saudi Financing of Terrorists

The Council on Foreign Relations released a study showing that the Saudi government has been turning a blind eye to the problem that many wealthy Saudis have been funding al Qaeda. O.K., we’re surprised. Here is the full report.

The North Korean Threat

The Bush administration seems to be recovering from a serious momentary lapse in its reaction to North Korea. It has called upon the world to institute a technology trade embargo on the rogue state because of its clandestine and illegal program of nuclear arms development. A high level diplomatic mission, including assistant secretaries of state John Bolton and James Kelly are travelling from China to South Korea, Russia, and Japan to discuss the situation. President Bush is going the raise the Issue with Chinese President Jiang Zemin next week in Texas. It will also be on the agenda between Bush and the leaders of Japan and South Korea when they meet in Mexico in two weeks for the Asian Pacific Economic Summit

It is good that the government is picking up the momentum. Immediately after the news broke of the revelation of the North Korean nuclear program, the administration seemed to treat with a diplomatic shrug. By doing so, it was in danger of weakening its rhetorical case against Iraq. Fearing to seem to be over-reacting, the administration instead under-reacted to the news of the new North Korean nuclear threat. On the surface at least, it made the nuclear threat posed by Saddam Hussein seem not so unique.

The government was right not to want to look like a cowboy intent on shooting up any local bully that gains an overly big stick. But by not calling the North Korean program what it is—a serious destabilizing threat to the North Pacific—it made unilateral action against Saddam Hussein look that much less imperative.

It would have been better had the administration had been consistent in the principles it has enunciated ever since George W. Bush took office.

Point one: Appeasement never works. The attempt to buy off an aggressive ideological regime like Iraq or North Korea will always fail. The UN’s policy of appeasement of the last ten years failed in Iraq, and the Clinton policy of appeasement of the 1990s has also failed with North Korea.

Point two: North Korea violated an international agreement. It lied. It has shown itself to be a danger to the region.

Point three: Nuclear non-proliferation used to be the number one foreign policy goal of the left, of Europe, of the United Nations, and of the Third World. All nations and parties should now join in condemning the North Korean action and in demanding that they give up their program and turn over their fissionable materials to the international community.

Point four: Because of Saddam Hussein’s previous record in war-making and his penchant for slaughtering civilians, and because of his stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, he is a clear and present threat to the nations of the region and to thousands of innocents here and abroad.

Point five: Though the North Korean program is a serious threat, it does not constitute an immediate danger of causing a regional holocaust.

Point six: The United States regards the North Korean action as a grave threat to the long term stability of the North Pacific. Consequently, we should send a high level delegation to our allies in the area, particularly to the Republic of Korea and Japan, in order to discuss a joint response to the new serious state of affairs North Korea has brought about.

Point seven: Iraq and North Korea have vastly differing capabilities in weapons of mass destruction. But in this they are the same: They both must be disarmed of those destructive capabilities.

George W. Bush once included North Korea in "the axis of evil." He has been proven right. He must make good on his own prediction. Margaret Thatcher told another George: "Now don’t go all wobbly." Our credibility regarding Iraq will only be strengthened if we treat North Korea with firmness, albeit with the military option necessarily further down the list than it needs to be in relation to Saddam Hussein.

Is the CIA Intelligent?

I posted an article on intelligence yesterday by Herbert Meyer, and a reader had this response:

Does Meyer think that any agency tries not to hire the smartest people it can find? If we were on a war footing and everyone had to go into the military, then some very bright people might prefer the CIA. That is not the situation we are in. Besides, the OSS was not that great a success, and the OSS role in analysis, what Meyer is talking about, was negligible. Also, if you have a hypothesis, that controls what you see. In a laboratory that is fine because you can run controlled experiments and test your hypothesis. Outside the laboratory you cannot or almost never can. There is no way to refute a firmly held hypothesis with intelligence. What we know is ambiguous and you can always find something to encourage you in thinking that your hypothesis is right. Trying new ideas is fine and needs to be done. But there is a counter-example to the one that Meyer cites. Casey refused to believe that the Soviet Union was doing as little as his analysts said they were to support terrorism. He made them rewrite the report several times. He finally got something closer to what he wanted but the Soviets were not doing what he thought they were doing and the way he thought they were doing it. His hypothesis was wrong but he would not let it go. Finally, is the CIA a bureaucracy or not? If it is and must be then how will this work with Meyer’s idea? In other words he seems to argue that there must not be brillant people in CIA because they did not get 9-11 right. But maybe there are brillant people there but they did not get it right because in a bureaucracy brillance does not always win. How does Meyer imagine we will organize ourselves if we do not do it bureaucratically?

Sniping about Snipers

Living inside the Beltway in suburban Virginia, where filling up the gas tank has come to be seen as an act of courage, the news today that a witness to the latest shooting apparently made up the whole story about an AK-74 rifle (the kind you’d practice with in a Middle Eastern terrorist training camp) and a cream-colored van has added to the state of confusion and bewilderment.

The related news story of Friday afternoon got: The U.S. is questioning Al Queda prisoners at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay to find out what they may know about the DC-area sniper. That, coupled with the unusual news yesterday that the Pentagon is assisting in the search for the sniper, lends credence to the suspicion that this may indeed be a terrorist act.

My guess is that it is going to turn out to be some nut, like most serial killers. Serial killers are notoriously difficult to catch, and most are caught not from high tech detective work, but rather from a lucky break. And I comfort myself at the gas station by keeping in mind that the odds of being struck by this creepo are about the same as winning the lottery, and less than the odds of being hurt or killed driving in my car to the gas station. I don’t know anyone who’s ever won the lottery; I have had two very slight acquaintances who were murdered, but known several people killed in car crashes.

Yet the DC sniper doesn’t seem like most serial killers. There is no such thing as a "typical" serial killer, but most of them seem to space out their killings over regular intervals, and most act alone. Most seek out an identifiable class of victims (Dahmer went for homosexual men; Wayne Williams after black children in poor Atlanta neighborhoods; John Wayne Gacy, childen; the Green River Killer, prostitutes, and so forth). The sniper, if he or she is indeed a single individual, is less predictable.

Then, too, one should keep in mind that immediately after President Bush named the "axis of evil" in January, Speaker Rafsanjani of Iran said that Iran would respond "in the heartland of America." Many have been the predictions that Palestinian-style suicide bombings would eventually come to American streets, but it is difficult to obtain or smuggle C-4 explosive in the U.S. Just as the Sept. 11 hijackers used our own planes as weapons against us, it would be far easier to use guns and ammo readily available here to instigate terror. Random sniped is in obvious ways more effective than bombing.

So even if the DC sniper turns out to be merely the latest in a string of home-grown nut cases, this episode should serve as a wake-up call for what might be possible in the future. Surely the terrorist sleeper cells we suspect are present in our midst can watch CNN too.

Sniper Training?

It is being reported that an al Qaeda bad guy in Belgium told us that al Qaeda has been training snipers . We are looking into it. Is this why the Defense Department got involved in the Washington D.C. area sniper case?

Cowboy

I enjoyed writing a short essay called "Cowboy" for the current issue of On Principle and it turns out that today’s Washington Times used part of it on it’s Culture section, with a good shot of John Wayne (not offered with the online edition).

Iraq War and Israel

This is an important article on our apparent agreement with Israel regarding Iraq: our invasion of Iraq will be based on preventing an attack against Israel. This has wide implications; trying to keep Israel out of the war and on how we will conduct (and start) the war. There is reason to think it will work.

More than One Fiend at a Time

A couple of things must be said about the revelations of the North Korean nukes. First, everyone should go back to 1994 and reconstruct what really happened with the much touted agreement that would give them oil and recognition if they stopped their nuclear program. Also, we ought to recollect all the good guys’ warnings about such an agreement, including McCain’s. Second, we ought to think deeply about why the North Koreans would willingly reveal their chicanery now instead of tomorrow. This is an interesting question that may be related to our war on terror and Iraq. The possibility that it is a threat that is tied to our war efforts in some way shouldn’t be discounted. Third, judging by the stupid way the media has been pressing the administration on Korea (example, "You are going to attack Iraq because it may be building nukes, why don’t you attack North Korea, which already has nukes?"), North Korea’s action may already be having an effect that is meant to confuse our deliberations on the terror war and Iraq. Is this part of their purpose? That this proves --as if further proof were needed--that we are in the middle of a high stakes game is a massive fact that will soon be noticed by everyone. Many mettles will be tested. It seems that it is always more than one fiend at a time. Today’s New York Times notes the Pakistan-North Korea connection. And the Washington Post tries to recount how we followed the aluminum. This is an AP review of the various statements (Condi Rice’s, for example) from the administration, also noting some of the diplomatic initiatives under way.

U.N. Negotiations on Iraq

The only thing that seems clear is that we may be at a crucial stage in our negotiations with the recalcitrant Security Council members (France, China, Russia). This Washington Post story outlines the issues and the way it is starting to work itself out. There are great dangers here, as Charles Krauthammer points out. I am still of the opinion that the administration knows what it’s doing. Powell is holding tough. I don’t think I would like sitting across the table trying to negotiate with him when I knew that his mind was so settled.

Intelligent Intelligence

It shouldn’t shock anyone if I say that the most important element--more important than ever--in our current war is our ability to gather, understand, and use intelligence. Everything depends on this. Herbert E. Meyer writes thoughtfully on this. If you disagree, I sure would like to hear from you.

Appeasing Terrorists

Mark Steyn writes about the Indonesia attack and thereby has the opportunity to beat up on the appeasers, especially the Australian ones. Great article. Deeply moving.

Lautenberg Misfires

The DSCC is running a new ad in favor of Lautenberg, in which they attack Forrester’s position on gun control. After mentioning that 51 New Jersey children die every year from gun violence, the ad offers the following:

"Forrester actually said ’It isn’t any of my business whether my neighbor likes to shoot semi-automatic weapons or not.’Really? tell Doug Forrester his opposition to sensible gun laws is dangerous for New Jersey"

This statement seems to play on the common confusion among Americans between what is a semi-automatic and what is an automatic weapon. Of course, a semi-automatic is just a gun with a clip which can only fire one bullet per pull of the trigger. While such guns ordinarily can hold more bullets than a revolver, they are similar in the rate of fire (once again, one bullet per trigger pull). Automatic weapons, by contrast, are capable of firing multiple bullets per pull of the trigger, and, this is the important part, have been illegal since the 30s.

When taken in perspective, Forrester’s comment is not terribly remarkable--semi-automatics are perfectly legal. What is more remarkable is that the DSCC seems to think that it should be politicians’ business whether Americans own legal weapons.

Saddam’s Manipulation of Western Media

This two-part essay from The New Republic by Franklin Foer explains with perfect clarity why--by definition--those Western media outlets that get into Iraq and want to stay in Iraq cannot possibly be reporting back the real news (aka, the truth). The method described herein has been true in all modern tyrannies. Great read.

Real Honor for a Fictional Sleuth

The BBC reports that "The great fictional character Sherlock Holmes is to receive a posthumous Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Society of Chemistry." Can there be any method to this madness? I admit that I am fond of this modern sleuth and Socrates-like man. Holmes once said of himself: "I am the last and highest court of appeal in detection." But still, if every why has a wherefore, I don’t see it. And how can it be posthumous? Sherlock never lived.

Preventing Genocide by Arming People

Glenn Harlan Reynolds argues persuasively that paper agreements stating opposition to genocide have not prevented any. The list of countries doing it in the last century is not short. Those committing genocide were never inconvenienced while doing their horrible work. Yet, interestingly, there has not been genocide where the population was armed. Solution? Arm the people. What is the U.N.’s and human rights advocates’ solution? Paper agreements signed by counries like Cambodia, Rwanda, and the Congo, and maybe drop in some peace-keepers after the fact. Add to this the U.N.’s policy of international gun control and the situation seems hopeless. He cites an article by Daniel Polsby and Don Kates in the Washington University Law Quarterly that "not one of the principal genocides of the twentieth century, and there have been dozens, has been inflicted on a population that was armed." Good read, follow the useful links.

Tear Down This Wall

As long as Bartlett’s is finally going to recognize Reagan’s famous quote at the Brandenburg Gate, it is worth taking a moment to read the speech, which is available online here. I tried to find a sound file for the quote, which I am almost positive I have heard on the net before, but I can’t find it.

Georgia Senate Race

Democratic Sen. Max Cleland is in an ever tighter campaign against the GOP challenger Saxby Chambliss. I think the main thing holding his campaign together is the (apparently) enthusiastic support he gets from conservative Democrat Senator Zell Miller. Also, it helps that Democratic liberals (e.g., Daschle or Clinton) have not openly campaigned for him. Zell is giving Cleland cover. The President’s trip to Georgia today indicates that the Republicans think they have a shot at the seat, else he wouldn’t have gone down. This story from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution makes all this pretty clear.

Economic Freedom in the World

As seen in recent protests against globalization, the idea that free markets naturally lead to poverty, sickness, and environmental degradation still has a significant hold on the minds of many. A necessary corrective is the latest edition of James Gwartney and Robert Lawson’s Economic Freedom in the World, which rates and ranks 123 of the world’s nations based on the extent to which their economies are burdened with public spending, taxation, and regulation. It turns out that the United States is only number three--both Hong Kong and Singapore have more economic freedom than we do.

However, what is most interesting about Economic Freedom in the World is that Gwartney and Lawson go on to demonstrate how indices of economic freedom track with the sorts of things that we like to see in a country--wealth, health, literacy, environmental concern, etc. Contrary to the claims of the modern Left, there is more of each of these in countries with high level of economic freedom. Moreover, while economic freedom seems to have little impact on poverty--the poorest 10% of the population tends to garner roughly the same percentage of national income whether the country be socialist or free-market--there is no denying that the poor are better off in absolute terms in countries with a high degree of economic freedom. In the nations with the most rigidly controlled economies, average income of the poorest 10% runs just over $700 US. However, in the most market-oriented countries the figure is more like $7000 US.

The conclusion? If you want to fight poverty, illiteracy, disease, environmental degradation, etc., stop lobbying for higher taxes and more regulations and let the market work!

For more information on Economic Freedom in the World, visit Robert Lawson’s home page: http://capital2.capital.edu/faculty/rlawson/pubs/

Bartlett’s No Longer Ignores Reagan

Justin Kaplan, the editor of Bartlett’s Quotations just now explains why he ignored Reagan in the previous edition. In the USA Today article he was quoted as saying: "I admit I was carried away by prejudice. Mischievously, I did him dirt," he says. He has added six Reagan quotes to the new edition, including, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," which Kaplan calls "one of the greatest moments in Western history."

Another Bad Book on Lincoln

Ken Masugi writes a devastating review of DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln. It appears in the Oct 14th edition of National Review (the paper version).

Calling for Anti-War Left Revival

Todd Gitlin writing in Mother Jones is calling (pleading, really) for a "sensible" anti-war movement to take place, one that disassociates itself from the old hard-left and morally compromised leaders like Ramsey Clark. He thinks it will play in Peoria.

Stalin Who?

As long as I’m promoting Dave Barry, his most recent column is worth a look. In it he quotes the letters of middle school children who were given the assignment of responding to his claim that young people don’t read newspapers. Among their suggestions for getting more young readers:

’’I don’t like reading about death, war and government. Write about things that we can relate to.’’

’Don’t use jokes that we don’t understand. In your article, you said, ’a much higher percentage than the general population voted for Stalin.’ Who is Stalin?"

I weep for the future.

Simon as Governor?

George Will says that the Anaheim Angels can’t be where they are, but there they are. He has reasons to think that Simon may be looked at similarly. Despite the banana-peel-strewn campaign that he is running, he is still there, and just maybe, he will win. Sometimes good things happen to good people. Perhaps this is one of those instances.

Light ’em if you got ’em

John Stossel’s segment on 20/20 this Friday will take aim at the tobacco settlement. Hailed by Clinton as a victory for children, it has proved to be a victory for state spending sprees, and tobacco lawyers. In fact, at least one state has actually used part of the tobacco settlement to--get this--subsidize tobacco farmers. For a humorous look at why states should cut out the middle-man and start growing tobacco themselves, take a look at Dave Barry’s column.

South Dakota Senate Race

An obscure professor writes on the U.S. Senate race taking place in an obscure state (to be found on a great and famous site). It is a good article, worth reading. I hope it’s true. Thune is on a roll against Johnson. It would be excellent to win this seat because even Dan Rather wouldn’t be able to obscure the fact that it is a slap at the national Democratic leadership. Also, the Republicans have a bit more money than the Democrats.

Stopping the Senate’s Confirmation Logjam

Last week the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing inquiring into the Senate’s refusal even to consider a significant number of President Bush’s circuit judge nominees. During the hearing, at which I testified (click here for testimony) , I proposed legislation that would vest the appointment of circuit court and district court judges -- "inferior officers," in the Constitutional sense -- in the President alone if the Senate has failed to act on any nominee within six months. An op-ed on the subject is published in today’s Wall Street Journal; a copy reprinted with permission is available at The Claremont Institute.

Interpreting the Numbers

Something to keep in mind when viewing the fundraising levels mentioned by Schramm below is that the parties are facing a "use it or lose it" scenario regarding the soft money. The day after the elections, McCain-Feingold goes into effect, and the parties will be forced to either refund the money or disgorge it to the federal government (it is interesting to note that the General Counsel’s office of the Federal Election Commission originally recommended only disgorgement). Given these options, this month should signal a dionysian spending spree--all campaign ads all the time--brought to you by McCain-Feingold.

Woody Harrelson Rant

Woody Harrelson rants on again in a London paper (he’s got a gig there) about how bad the U.S. is, governments make war not people, and similar pap and sound and fury. The only good acting you ever did, Woody, was in Cheers and that was only because the script was first class and--this is not unimportant--you played an idiot.

Money for the Elections

There are a couple of interesting newstories out on how the fund-raising is going for this election cycle. The Republicans have a huge advantage, so large that the Demos are talking about using some money they have for a building fund and apply it to next month’s election. But the Democrats have raised more soft money than the GOP .

Homeland Security

David Tucker writes a thoughtful essay on the big question regarding homeland security: What is the relationship between freedom and security? He draws the paramaters that the discussion (not just the approval of the new department) must be placed into.

More On Zogby Polling

Demonstrating my honed, Pavlovian response to Schramm’s ringing of the blogging bell, Ruffini raises an interesting point, which I think is probably right in terms of his skepticism of war on Iraq polling and wrong regarding candidate polling. He begins by pointing out that pollster John Zogby’s brother James Zogby writes for the Arab news. This is only a small sliver of the story. James Zogby is the President and Founder of the Arab American Institute. He also co-founded the Palestine Human Rights Campaign and American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. In these roles, he has been a vocal advocate of Arab policy, which includes AAI’s opposition to "unilateral" U.S. action against Iraq. The brothers Zogby are close. John’s office is located at the Arab American Institute, and he is reported to call his brother 10 times per day.

It is therefore not surprising that pollster John, who has also been vocal in the past about Arab-American issues, should oppose action in Iraq. Anytime a pollster has a horse in the race, there is reason to scrutinize his polls (which is why the media pays less attention to polls conducted by the political parties). If, as Ruffini reports, Zogby is asking questions which include "sending your sons and daughters" to die or refer to the death of thousands of Americans, then he is obviously slanting the questions to increase the opposition numbers. Even so, in a white paper announced yesterday, Zogby concedes that 70 percent of "Americans consider Saddam Hussein a threat to the safety and security of the US." He also suggests that "Americans have expressed that they do not feel the [Iraq] debate is a matter of political timing, and [ ] they do perceive Hussein’s Iraq as a legitimate threat . . . ." He does, however, go on to question whether Bush will win points in 2004 based upon this action, and suggests that the press have drawn the wrong conclusions by asking the wrong questions. Thus, I would simply suggest that readers look at the questions Zogby asks in Iraq polls before drawing conclusions.

Ruffini goes a step further and asks whether this may have an impact on Zogby’s candidate polling. Here I have my doubts. First, Ruffini fails to consider that James Zogby also was a confidant of President Clinton, and served on the DNC’s Executive Committee in 1999. Using the same logic of a brother’s influence, why is it that brother John’s polls don’t unduly favor Democrats? John has built a reputation as being the straightest shooter among the pollsters: he was the only pollster to call the 1994 Republican landslide, and his findings regarding a razor-thin Gore popular vote edge in 2000 were also among the, if not the most accurate. While men may be blinded by their passions, self-interest here serves as a check: John obviously knows that slanting his candidate surveys would be bad for his reputation and therfore bad for business. Yes, cooking the books on Iraq would be bad as well, but election polls may be verified against actual exit results in a way that opinion polls cannot.

The evidence cited by Ruffini about recent polls doesn’t make the case that Zogby is a "fraud" in his handling the of candidate polls. While it is somewhat disconcerting that Zogby volunteered his services against the Tom "The Hammer" DeLay, he still found DeLay up by 20 points. As for the Torricelli polls, Ruffini suggests that Zogby showed Torricelli leading when every other poll showed the Torch with even odds or worse. Here, it’s not clear that Ruffini is shooting straight. First, he doesn’t say what date he is referring to on the Zogby polls that showed Torricelli leading. The article he cites regarding Torricelli’s terrorism ties was on September 17, before the wheels had fully come off the Torricelli electoral bus. It must be remembered that as late as September 27, the Washington Post was reporting the race as a dead heat, while on September 28th, the Washington Times cited a Zogby poll showing Forrester ahead by four points. The court didn’t announce the release of the campaign documents which spelled the polling crash for the Torricelli campaign until September 27, so given the Post’s numbers and court’s timing, Zogby’s poll seems to have been on the mark, and maybe ahead of the curve. Yes, there has been a large swing in Minnesota in favor of Paul Wellstone (who voted against the congressional authorization on Iraq), but this is the state that elected Jesse Ventura--nothing surprises me there. And if we are going to talk about big swings, the theory doesn’t take into accout the big swing in favor of Talent in Missouri. Last time I checked, Talent wasn’t singing Kum-baya and wearing love beads about Iraq.

I’ve droned on too long, but the point is that yes, everyone knows that Zogby’s got strong opinions about the middle east, and so polls on that topic should be viewed with skepticism. But I think that Zogby has too much to lose to cook the books on numbers at home, and Ruffini didn’t make the case.

Condi Rice

Rice writes on op-ed (for the London Telegraph) on American foreign policy, trying to get around the "realism" vs. "idealism" schools. Short and worth reading. It’s nice to have a sensible Director of the NSC.

Zogby Polling Questioned

Patrick Ruffini raises a few interesting questions about some of Zogby’s methods, as well as the possibility that his anti-war views are affecting his polling analysis. Zogby has the reputation of being one of the best pollsters. Perhaps our resident expert on these matters, Robert Alt, will comment on this. It’s too early in the morning for a fat man to think straight; besides, I have a lecture on Machiavelli to prepare. It’s OK, they’re Freshmen.

Korean Nukes

North Korea has announced (I am guessing we were able to prove it) that it has a secret nuclear weapons program . Does this reflect well or ill on Clinton’s foreign policy? I thought those guys said they had an agreement with North Korea on these matters. Oh, well. Good morning.

Detergent Boycott in Egypt

Procter and Gamble sells a detergent in Egypt named "Ariel." Some think it is named after Ariel Sharon so there is a boycott underway. It is in fact named after the character in The Tempest and has been on the shelf since the 1920’s.

Rumsfeld and Top Brass at Odds?

If this story has merit (by Ricks and Loeb) it could be worth paying attention to.

Another Use for Duct Tape

It has now been proven that duct tape is more effective in removing warts than liquid nitrogen.

Banning Billiards

Uzbekistan just banned billiard parlors. Something is up.

Memorize Koran and Get Years Off

If you are in prison in Dubai (and I bet that wouldn’t be fun) you could get fifteen years off your sentence if you memorize all of the Koran; only five if you memorize a third.

Israel to Respond

President Bush met with Prime Minister Sharon today and it was made clear by both that Israel will respond if Iraq attacks . Bush said of Sharon’s situation: "He’s got a desire to defend himself." Simple. To the point. True. Good.

Radio Sawa Popular

Radio Sawa is now the most popular radio station with the young in Amman, Jordan. Good.

Not Even a Park Bench

The New York Times today reports that Bush is making a campaign issue of the delays and obstruction committed by Democratic Senators who oppose his judicial nominees. As I have said on this page before, this is appropriate: Senators should be held accountable for their votes against candidates or their failure to act. The Times of course failed to mention the drastic understaffing in the courts--the Sixth Circuit for example has a vacancy rate of approximately 50%--an error of omission they would have never committed during the Clinton years. The Times did, however, offer a reason that the Democrats have been so successful in blocking judges:

they were enacting a strategy discussed at a party retreat in April 2001, where the senators were exhorted by their leaders and others to be willing to oppose nominees on ideological grounds and accept any political fallout.

The "others" doing the exhorting at this now infamous retreat included Harvard’s Laurence Tribe and Chicago’s Cass Sunstein, both of whom are well-reputed to covet a Supreme Court seat of their own. Yet by making ideology a fair consideration, they have perfected the argument themselves: they are too far outside the mainstream to deserve even passing consideration. So oddly enough, by conspiring against qualified nominees, these two judicial aspirants have assured that the only way they will ever see the world from behind a bench is with a visitor’s pass.

Lethal Force

The New York Times reports that a Michigan appeals court reversed the manslaughter conviction of a pregnant woman who stabbed and killed her boyfriend after he punched her the stomach. The judge has ordered a new trial, claiming that the woman should have been able to argue not only self-defense, but defense of her unborn quadruplets. Like some tort cases that involve injury to unborn children, this case once again raises a conundrum in the law: at 17-weeks pregnant, the mother could have chosen to legally abort the children, or she may argue that it was necessary to use lethal force to protect them.

What Does Campaign Finance Have to Do With Anti-Terrorism Policy?

The Washington Post today reports that the ACLU plans a $2.5 million media campaign aimed at criticizing Bush’s anti-terrorism policies. Later in the same column, the Post describes the controversy surrounding the confidentiality of documents in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold bill. The Post doesn’t attempt to explain what these two stories squeezed together have in common, so let me offer a suggestion: under McCain-Feingold, the ads that the ACLU is suggesting would be illegal in 2004, because they would mention a federal candidate (Bush), would be run within 60 days of an election, and would use corporate money (the ACLU is a corporation).

American Power

Fareed Zakaria’s attempt to articulate the nature of America’s unique status as the sole superpower is worth reading. He concludes that Machiavelli is wrong in saying that it is better to be feared than loved. America is good because of its "universal values" and it is therefore liked in the world. There is more to all this, but its a start.

Nobel Gesture

Michael Kelly writes a good piece suggesting that either Bush is the best candidate for the Nobel peace prize and in doing so explains what peace and war mean and the good that American power has brought to a rowdy world. Not that the "Bourbons of Oslo" (as he calls them) will listen, of course.

Jonah Goldberg, in his speech at the Ashbrook Center yesterday, nicely explained that the Nobel peace prize was less a prize for Carter and more a "back-handed un-peace prize for George Bush." He also made some other nice comments on the prize. Click here for a three-minute audio excerpt of his speech.

PETA being Pelted

Schoolchildren in Scotland threw milk at two PETA protesters (one dressed as a cow) for ten minutes before the cops arrived to save them. The PETA sillies were trying to get the children to stop drinking milk. The children are wise.

Giuliani and Churchill

I was told that Rudy Giuliani was on Oprah on September 30 and they had a conversation about the value of books, especially biographies, and, notably interesting, about what Giuliani read the night of September 11th (actually the early morning of the 12th) when he finally got home to try to get some sleep. He read Jenkins’ new biography of Churchill. This is part of the transcript, from Oprah’s site.


Mr. GIULIANI: The—the second lesson is study, read and learn independently. It’s a little bit like prepare relentlessly, but it’s a lesson I learned from my mother. My mother used to tell me you can learn everything in books. Books contain the secrets of life... And her—her idea was that in books, you could find the answers to any—any of the problems that you face. And that’s how I ended up on the evening of September 11th, really the morning of September 12th, beginning to re—read and actually read a new biography of—of Churchill.

...

Mr. GIULIANI: The—the—I—you know, the best way—the best way to—to study leadership is reading biographies of the people that you admire and—and doing the best you can to incorporate those things in—in—into you. You know, I read a lot of biographies of Churchill, but I also read a lot of biographies of Franklin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson and—you—you name it. And then I cop—and then I copied a lot of people. People that I worked for had a big, big impact on me.

WINFREY: And—and went back and read Churchill—Was it the night after the…

Mr. GIULIANI: Yeah, r—and re—read it and re—read it that night.

WINFREY: Isn’t that the first thing you read?

Mr. GIULIANI: Yes.

WINFREY: After you went home, 2:30 in the morning?

Mr. GIULIANI: I read—I went home, I found an advanced copy of a new biography of—of Churchill by Jenkins.

WINFREY: Churchill.

Mr. GIULIANI: I opened up the pages about the Battle of Britain in 1940, because I felt that that was close to what we were facing. Here they were attacked and bombed every night. And let—let me see how Churchill faced it.

WINFREY: We’ll be right back.

Al Qaeda’s Soft Targets

A Washington Post story maintains that "al Qaeda is resorting to more
indiscriminate attacks against ’soft’ targets," and the simplicity of these attacks "might make them more difficult to predict and prevent." Recent examples include the
carnage in Bali, sniper attacks in the Phillipines and Kuwait, suicide bombings in Pakistan and Tunisia.

Jonah Goldberg Speaks

Jonah Goldberg, the editor of National Review Online, spoke at the Ashbrook Center a few hours ago to over three hundred mid-westerners with a fair sense of humor. He was well received by all, and well loved by the young. They were curious to see whether a man who writes for a living (and writes well!) can also speak well. They were not disappointed. He wound up the watch of his wit, and it struck, even me. You can hear him by clicking here.

Can’t Afford Not To . . .

A jury Monday recommended that Gregory McKnight be sentenced to death for the murder of 20-year-old Kenyon college student Emily Murray. What makes this case unusual is that the judge overseeing the case initially prohibited the prosecutors from seeking the death penalty, not because the law did not permit it for the crime (it did), but because he believed that rural Vinton County, Ohio could not afford the defense. After Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery weighed in by filing an appeal, the judge relented and allowed the prosecution and court appointed defense to go forward.

And what a defense it was. Mr. McKnight’s lawyers attempted to pin Ms. Murray’s death on . . . Ms. Murray. They drudged up tragic details of her past to suggest that because she had attempted suicide in high school, maybe she killed herself. The only question then was whether this was before or after she drove 80 miles from her residence, rolled herself in carpet, and placed the carpet neatly in Mr. McKnight’s trailer. Talk about blaming the victim.

It is good that the state chose to challenge the judge’s determination regarding ability to pay, not merely because the decision to bring a capital charge was vindicated by the jury, but also because it leaves fiscal questions for the political branches.

More Incumbent Woes: Jeb, Allard, Hutchinson

Picking up where Peter Schramm left off in his posting yesterday regarding anti-incumbent sentiment, the latest round of Zogby/MSNBC’s 10-day tracking polls show a dead heat in key races throughout the country. With a 4 1/2 point margin of error, the poll shows Florida Governor Jeb Bush with only a 3 point lead over challenger McBride. In Arkansas, Tim Hutchinson is tied with challenger Mark Pryor at 45% each, and Colorodo Senator Wayne Allard is trailing challenger Tom Strickland by a point.

Ordinarily mid-term elections are losers for the party of a sitting president--with the most prominent example of this being the November revolution of 1994. So far, this election doesn’t seem to be fitting into the ordinary mid-term model. Voters are approaching the polls with concern regarding the economy and uncertainty regarding the prospects of war. Given this anxiety, look for an increasing number of voters to be open to change--a move that is not necessarily good news for incumbents.

Undressing the Victorians

Roger Kimball discusses "Exposed: The Victorian Nude," an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, but is really elaborating on Edmund Burke’s statement that "manners are of more importance than law," and therefore says thoughtful things on the current culture wars.

Democracy in Iraq

Victor Davis Hanson writes thoughtfully about the possibility of establishing some form of democratic rule after the tyranny ends in Iraq. Although it is not going to be easy, and it will certainly not be perfect, freedom is the only thing that hasn’t been tried. And it is worth the trying. Although the piece is long it is worth reading. This is the first of many on this topic that you will see because a discussion of the issue is both necessary because the regime will soon fall, because it is in our interest, and because the subject brings up fundamental political issues that always merit discussion.

Taking Aim at PBS

The Pentagon today reports another successful test of a ground-based missile defense system, the fifth successful test (and fourth in a row) since such tests began in 1999. The timing is appropriately just days after PBS ran an episode of Frontline, which offered, as John Miller of NR points out, a slanted attack alleging the impossibility of such a system. For more evidence of the impossible, you can visit today’s post by Miller, in which he describes how Israel has already built an impressive missile defense system.

Amiri Baraka the Poet

In case you are interested in seeing a first class evisceration of the great poet of New Jersey, here is John Derbyshire doing it perfectly. Jonah Goldberg brought to my attention the wonder-poet’s defense of himself . Read and be outraged.

Hillary for President?

This is a good way to end the so-called working day. I just saw the results of a poll by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion which found that 69 percent of Americans do not think that Hillary Clinton should ever run for president.

Pat Buchanan and the Left

Andrew Sullivan’s blog brought to my attention this article by Ronald Radosh on Pat Buchanan’s latest effort to promote one certain kind of right wing view. It is a new weekly magazine called The American Conservative. Now in its second issue (I will get around to reading it soon enough), Radosh has some sound opinions about how Buchanan’s kind of Right melds nicely into the Left; struggle against globalism, American imperialism, and so on. Just in case you are predisposed to be uncritical of Buchanan, take a look at it.

Talent Leads Carnahan

This Zogby Poll in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch shows a "a seismic shift," according to pollster Zogby, from his September poll because the numbers are almost exactly reversed. Talent has 47.3 to Carnahan’s 40.8 percent. Notice how the story emphasizes an "anti-incumbency wave" that is sweeping across the country. This is the first I have heard of this wave. Is it possible that it is, more precisely, a pro-Bush and/or pro-GOP wave? And, can journalists be honest enough to admit it? Keep looking for this anti-incumbency wave and let’s see who will ride it.

Lenin Ramirez Sanchez

Remember the terrorist Carlos the Jackal? Well, it turns out that his brother Lenin is now director of energy of Venezuela. So, let me get this straight: Lenin is now heading the energy department of an OPEC country, the same OPEC that Carlos took hostage in 1975 and even killed three of them. Isn’t politics interesting?

Saddam’s Sons

In case there is any doubt in your mind about the quality of the regime that Saddam Hussein has built you should read this story from Newsweek about his two sons. It is clear that his sons have the souls of tyrants, and nature has not made a mistake: tyranny is both inherited and cultivated. And these true sons, trying to outdo their father, make sure that (as Macduff says):


Each new morn,

New widows howl, new orphans cry; new sorrows

Strike heaven on the face.

Yet, we must be satisfied in knowing that, at least in part, justice means that measure for measure must be answered. They will bleed for it.

War on Iraq Means War on Terror

Reuel Marc Gerecht thoughtfully explains why the war against Iraq is necessary in order for the war on terror to succeed. He explains how the Europeans (despite what some of their intellectuals and political elites say) will be drawn closer to America because of common interest. And Gerecht also explains why fear of American power will draw more Middle East states into our orbit. This has already been proven to be true; he cites Pakistan as the best example. He says that conducting an effective war against Iraq will ensure the continued support (especially intelligence sharing) of those Arab states still sitting on the fence.

Bush’s Rhetoric

President Bush has had a terrific three weeks. His success, according to Bill Kristol, has had to do with his "clarity, toughness and straightfordwardness with which he has marshalled his arguments." But now Bush has to move from seeking support to fighting a war. His purpose now becomes the defeat of Saddam and this will mean that he has to start deceiving and misleading because his audience is no longer the American public or our allies, it is Hussein himself. And even though Saddam knows we are going to attack him, tactical
surprise is possible and--given the fact that he has some useable weapons of mass destruction--necessary in order to minimize casualties. So Kristol reminds us that over the next many weeks and months Bush will have to use the fog of war to keep Saddam Hussein off balance and we should keep this in mind if we note a change in his rhetoric: He will now start lying, as he should.

Blood For Oil

With congressional approval of action in Iraq moving us closer to what now seems inevitable action in Iraq, it is only a matter of time before the drumbeat of “blood for oil” becomes deafening (that is, unless blood for rice overtakes it). It is worth remembering, however, that some of the countries most prominent in their opposition to the war also stand to profit the most from propping up Saddam Hussein’s power. For example, France is the Iraq’s leading import partner--22.5% of Iraq’s total yearly imports are from France. China and Russia tie for 3rd place with 5.8% respectively. Not to leave out the Germans, a 1993 study of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control suggested Germany was the worst western offender in terms of selling Iraq the goods necessary to bolster its war machine, including the sale of the vital components to extend the range of its SCUD missiles.

If the United States really just wanted oil, we could simply lift the sanctions and call the policy “engagement.” Given this possibility, the accusation of “blood for oil” just doesn’t carry much weight. By contrast, from a raw, economic perspective, many of Iraq’s current trading partners may believe that they would be better served by propping up Hussein, thereby keeping the U.S. alienated to trade with Iraq. Of course, they would fair better if the sanctions were dropped—but they would fair even better in a world in which they could trade freely with Iraq, but the U.S. chose not to because of our concerns about Hussein. I would like to think that this is an unlikely scenario to explain the actions of our Eurasian friends, but such an explanation is at least as plausible, if not more so, than one which suggests the U.S. is willing to spend billions of dollars and risk the lives of our young men and women on a war whose "oil" objective could be achieved by fiat. So the next time you hear another country making noises about “blood for oil,” it is worth considering that the real blood for oil trade-off may in fact be made by those who advocate no action at all.

Our Friends the Germans

The British Daily Telegraph reports [registration required] that Iraq has been building a 33-foot long supergun capable of firing chemical or biological weapons. The 209mm gun designed by late Canadian ballistics expert Gerald Bull is estimated to have a firing range of 35 miles, making it capable of hitting targets within Kuwait, a potential staging grounds for U.S. and international forces. Iraq obtained the materials to build the gun from German businessmen, who are being prosecuted in Mannheim.

This announcement provides us the opportunity to offer our congratulations to Gerhard Schroeder for securing another term as Chancellor by campaigning against German intervention in Iraq under any circumstances, including under the UN flag. His assertion that he was forging a “German way”—a phrase not heard since the Nazi era—offered assurances of Germany’s role in the post-Cold War world. If it weren’t for these stalwart signs of support for the U.S., we might confuse the acts of these businessmen for overzealous German patriotism rather than acts of treason and terror.

Campaign 2004: The Moose on the Move

Washington is abuzz with rumors about the possibility of a McCain presidential bid in 2004 based on McCain’s recent hire of Hudson Fellow Marshall Wittmann, who wrote a popular blog under the pseudonym of “The Bull Moose.” The American Prospect first reported last week that Wittmann was hired for the position of Communications Director for McCain. Noting his status as “the capital’s preeminent quotemaster,” TAP speculated about the importance of the move:

Wittmann isn’t just any old communications director. He’s not an interim hire, the kind of guy you bring on temporarily, as you wind down and prepare to retire. And Wittman [sic] wouldn’t leave his cushy gig at the Hudson Institute for just anything. No, Wittmann is a big gun -- the kind of guy you bring on to build policy proposals, spark new ideas and prepare for a big challenge. Tapped speculates that either McCain is preparing for some new campaign or initiative as a senator, or he’s laying the groundwork for another presidential run.

Does the Bull Moose’s move to the Hill portend a move by McCain? Only time will tell.

Great Moments in Congressional Hypocrisy

“The Founding Fathers certainly intended that the Senate advise as to judicial nominations, i.e., consider, debate and vote up or down. They surely did not intend that the Senate, for partisan or factional reasons, would remain silent and simply refuse to give any advice or consider and vote at all, thereby leaving the courts in limbo, understaffed and unable properly to carry out their responsibilities for years.” (Testimony of Sen. Patrick Leahy, May 10, 2000).

Well, for Senator Leahy, it seems that it is not necessary to have a vote up or down when the partisan or factional “reasons” also happen to be your friends. Thus when the usual assortment of activists gave him a call expressing their last minute opposition to Fourth Circuit nominee Dennis Shedd, he was more than happy to cancel Shedd’s scheduled vote, in so doing flouting Senate rules, personal promises, and his previously mentioned lofty ideals.

Of course, this failure to conduct a vote is just the latest in an ever-lengthening chain of abuses. Take for example Professor McConnell, who after languishing for more than a year was finally given a hearing, during which it was made abundantly clear not only that is he eminently qualified, but also that he has support from both the ideological left and the right. Even so, Leahy has not permitted a vote. Or take Miguel Estrada, a judicial nominee deemed to be well qualified by the ABA, who has also been waiting since May of last year. Once again, Leahy permitted a hearing, but no vote.

Given his recent act of bad faith, Leahy should be forced to hold a vote on these nominees before election day. Because Leahy and Schumer have chosen to make this a political process, their colleagues should be made to answer for their choices through the political process. Accordingly, Senators should be made to explain to their constituents why, for example, they would choose to vote against a highly qualified Hispanic nominee like Miguel Estrada when the sole criticism to date is speculation that he might be conservative or that he might become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice one day. To force such a vote will be difficult, requiring a commitment from at least 41 Senators, but to do otherwise is to permit Senator Leahy’s hypocrisy to continue.

Pulling a Torricelli

You heard it here first. We warned that once the New Jersey Supreme Court opened the floodgates, it would only be a matter of time before parties began dropping candidates faster than Martha Stewart acting on a hot IMClone tip. The New Jersey court, in an opinion issued in the wake of its order permitting Frank Lautenberg to replace Robert Torricelli on the ballot, dismissed this possibility, citing the difficulty “for any party, logistically, politically, and financially, to replace a candidate closer to an election.”

It appears that the New Jersey court is as good at reading tea leaves as it is at reading statutes. The Wall Street Journal reported on October 10, 2002 that the Republicans in Montville, N.J. are attempting a last minute replacement for the position of Township Committee. But those relying on the decision are not limited to the confines of New Jersey. The Washington Post reports that Republican Senate candidate Mike Taylor backed out of the race in Montana to allow the party to bring in a candidate who could win. In Hawaii, the Torricelli precedent was cited without success in a court challenge to permit the Democratic Party to put their candidate of choice on the ballot to replace Patsy Mink, who died on Sept. 28. The Post reported elsewhere that Republicans in Pennsylvania are “joking” about “pulling a Torricelli” to replace flailing gubernatorial candidate Mark Fisher with the more popular acting governor Mark S. Schweiker.

So there you have it: "Pulling a Torricelli" has become a new term in the political lexicon befitting the career of the man who inspired it.

This Week on ABC

I finally got a chance to watch "This Week". Normally I have better things to do. A couple of things struck me. First, the liberals continually said the "Bush brand" and the "Bush product" when talking about the attempt of the President to both campaign on behalf of GOP candidates and raise money. What they were trying to do is to disparage the GOP campaign by pretending that they are acting as if they are selling soap. In fact what the liberals are worrying about is that the GOP base will turn out to vote in larger numbers--because of the great popularity of Bush--than is normal for off-year elections and/or that the GOP leaning independent vote will turn out in larger numbers than normal. If either one of these two things happen then the GOP will get the Senate back. In case this happens (which is likely, in my view) George Stephanapoulos made sure that he used his last few minutes to warn everyone that GOP Senator Lincoln Chafee might well leave the GOP. Boy George would have had a more interesting (and fairer) point if he would have mentioned that it is equally possible that Democratic Senator Zell Miller might change parties if necessary.

Second, the liberals are hoping that--now that Bush has won Congressional support for his Iraq policy--the "multilateralist" vs. "unilateralist" debate within the admininistration will be re-born. What they mean by multilateral (it turns out) is with the U.N. and what is unilateral means without the U.N. It turns out that it does not matter to the liberals whether or not the administration has built up a coalition (which it has). Acting only under U.N. auspices matters. But this conversation within the White House has already taken place and the good guys won. Besides, as George Will pointed out, the President has a vote in such a debate and he is not a multilateralist and his vote counts for 51 percent. The liberals can keep dreaming (and hoping that Powell will side with them) but the truth is the discussion is over.

Nobel Peace Prize

The only thing I would have to say about Carter getting the Nobel Peace Prize has already been said by others. One of the best criticisms of Carter was done this May by Jonah Goldberg (although to call Carter a "monster" is over the top). That Carter is often silly and embarrasing is absolutely true. And I also have no comment on the fact that the head of the Nobel committee made clear that by giving the award the committee meant to be critical of U.S. policy on Iraq. "Oh shame, where is thy blush?"

Stephen Ambrose Dies

Almost ten years ago I heard a professor of history criticize a book by a fellow named Stephen Ambrose. He said it was too easy to read, meant for a popular audience, and, he continued, it was much too patriotic. I knew this merited investigation and I immediately started reading Ambrose. The left-wing professor was right. Whatever Ambrose wrote was a good read. He read like a writer rather than a history professor and the reader could feel his deep appreciation for the American way and the American character. That ordinary, common, good-every-day-Americans liked to read him was a sign that virtue had not yet left the American breast. I am sorry that he died so soon, but I am glad that he lived and hope that his books live as long as there are people in the world who will want to learn something about the American man, why the last century is called the American century, and what moves Americans to fight. This newstory announcing his death is from the AP .

Democrat Confusion

David Tell explicates nicely how confused the Democrats are regarding Iraq, and although he admits that they have made some progress since 1991, they still havent shown the kind of backbone that will be necessary (except for Senator Zell Miller) for many more months to come. George Will tries to explain the deep divisions within the Democratic Party on security issues.

Congress Passes War Resolution

Here is the Washington Post story on Friday. Note that all the Democratic presidential hopefuls voted in favor, and the only Democrat Senator in a tough race this fall to vote against is Minnesota’s Paul Wellstone. This is the text of the resolution.

The short of it is that Bush has shaped the international debate in exactly the way he has wanted. He will now get a very strong U.N. resolution that will mean that he will also have a coalition. And, most important, we might get our way without crying havoc and let slip the dogs of war. This is impressive, even if some of his opponents think (still!) that it has been haphazardly done. In other words some think all this is an accident. This is no accident. This is the kind of design that both Aristotle and Machiavelli (never mind Sun Tzu) would agree is prudent. Besides, it is not true that virtue has no friends. This news story makes clear that this resolution is much better and stronger than the one his father got twelve years ago. The story in USA Today makes clear, in short form, how the White House did this.

Giuliani for Senate

Robert Alt makes a modest proposal, not lacking in wit, on why Giuliani should run for the Senate in New Jersey, and do it now, not in six years. It’s perfectly OK since Forrester is behind in the polls! Must read.

Terrorism

It looks more and more as if the French tanker off the coast of Yemen was hit by terrorists. Mark Steyn asks Europeans to spend more on the military. He is not an optimist. Paul Marshall reflects on our new (and better) relationship with some West African countries, and hopes that Nigeria doesn’t become the next hotbed in Islamic radicalism. And this interview with Jeffrey Goldberg is interesting. He claims that Hezbollah is more dangerous than al Queda.

Elections

Democrats Folding

Mark Steyn on the Demos unraveling. Very funny. And Democratic Senator Zell Miller writes this thoughtful piece showing that the Democratic Party is re-playing the 1970's. How come this guy is still a Democrat? David Broder adds his two cents on the the Democratic Party's malaise and why they are unable to give the public any idea of where they stand on pressing issues of the day and what it has to do with their Vietnam memories. Noemie Emery explains why Bush drives the Democrats crazy.
Categories > Elections

Congress

Elections

Fred Barnes has a quick glance at the competitive Senate races. They're still toss-ups. And here is Stuart Rothenberg's take on some of the open Senate seats. This is Time magazine's contribution to the discussion.
Categories > Congress

Journalism

New York Times Lying

Dick Morris slams The New York Times for the recent push-poll they conducted and why it was slanted.
Categories > Journalism

Foreign Affairs

Arab Support for War

This is a clear article from Arab News explaining the support we are getting from Arab countries, some of it public, some private, most of it duplicitous, all of it useful, and hardly reported in our press.
Categories > Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs

Father of Suicide Bomber

This is an article about a letter that a father of a suicide bomber sent to the London-based Arabic language daily Al-Hayat. Note the courage of the last paragraph, especially.
Categories > Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs

Bush in Cincinnati

The President gave a fine speech in Cincinnati on Monday night. He is doing the right thing and, as far as I can tell, the right way. It is important that he continue to act like a cowboy: his threat of invasion has to be taken seriously by the bad guys. If it is taken seriously, there is a chance that there will be no war because Iraq will disarm. The Congress will vote this week and I predict that about seventy percent (at a minimum) of the Senators and Congressmen will approve the resolution. Then things will break wide open at the U.N. Here is Bush's speech. John Podhoretz reflects on the President's excellent speech in Cincinnati, and why the major networks didn't cover it.
Categories > Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs

Babbling Daschle

Here is Tim Russert's conversation with Daschle last Sunday. Russert pressed him on the differences between the 1998 resolution (which Daschle supported) and the current one and found the Senator to be babbling. Well done, Russert!
Categories > Foreign Affairs

Courts

NJ

If you want a perfectly clear (and shocking) explanation and interpretation of the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling on the Torricelli case, see this great Robert Alt piece. And George Will argues persuasively that the Democratic Party should be punished nationally for this travesty.
Categories > Courts