The question as I see it is not whether or not we should “smash up Iraq.” We should do what advances our well-being. At the moment, getting at the terrorists is more important for our well-being than smashing up Iraq. Smashing up Iraq will not stop terrorist attacks now or in the future, even those with weapons of mass destruction. It might teach a lesson to other countries, but I believe the fate of the Taliban has done that. As far as I know, none of the countries that Steve mentions is supporting terrorism against the United States. On the contrary some of them are working (at least somewhat) with us against our common enemy, violent Islamists. Individuals in those countries, especially Saudi Arabia, may be sending money to terrorists or the institutions that nurture those who eventually become suicide bombers but, since these people don’t keep their money in those countries, smashing them will not necessarily stop the flow of money to the terrorists.
As for smashing countries in the Middle East, let Iraq serve as an example. We invade Iraq and take control. Then what do we do? If we pull out, who will keep control? Does anyone believe that the Iraqi opposition will be able to function as a government? Will the Europeans be up to it? The Turks could probably do it but it would not be pretty, since they would be likely to focus on a final solution to their Kurdish problem. Iran of course has geopolitical and religious interests in Iraq. Do we want the Iranians stepping in to the vacuum our departure creates? Anyone want the UN to take over? If we pull out, chaos is one likely result. If Afghanistan as a lawless home to anti-American Islamists turned into a big problem, Iraq post Saddam could be much worse. And if we stay? Do we want to occupy Iraq? That will create even more anti-American sentiment. The problem with this is that we need the cooperation of lots of countries around the world to handle al Qaeda (AQ). Creating mass anti-American sentiment in the Arab world is what AQ has been trying to do. Why should we help?
Saddam’s weapons are a serious problem, so serious that we may have to do whatever is necessary to take control of them. We should recognize, however, that doing so through military force is likely to create problems just as serious as those we would be trying to take care of.
The above of course is based on my typically pessimistic view of the world. Everything might work out. Post Saddam Iraq might quickly turn into a liberal democracy and start a chain reaction of liberal democratizing throughout the Arab world. Remember the effect of WWII on Germany and Japan? I think this happy outcome is unlikely. The Middle East today has almost nothing in common with Germany and Japan before WWII.
As for a strategy, I would suggest the following. First, we should recognize that we cannot exterminate Wahhabism, which is an idea. (Even if we could, it is not the only form of violent anti-American Islamic thought in the world.) We did not exterminate Marxism. It collapsed of its own contradictions. (Would the disappearance of the current Saudi regime have the same effect on Wahhabism that the collapse of the Soviet Union had on Marxism?) The same fate may overtake Wahhabism. In fact, in Egypt, where much of the Islamist (but not Wahabbist) thinking started, there are signs that people are turning away from violent Islamic views. Our strategy should encourage this. We should isolate the violent hard core, attack them (kill or capture them, whichever best serves our interests), strangle those that remain by depriving them of resources and develop some hedges in case isolating, attacking and strangling does not work or, which is likely, work completely.
To go back to the beginning, I believe there is a good chance that invading Iraq will work against isolating the hard core.
Note on this WaPo report on the Mombassa bombing the following paragraph:
Kenyans in the village this evening said the carnage would deliver a devastating blow to their already
weak economy. It is unfair, they complained, that innocent Kenyans would again have to die for causes
they had nothing to do with. Then they started shouting against Arabs, some of whom have settled here
and own stores in the city: "We love America," they yelled. "Go away al Qaeda."
This is pretty cool. A two-way radio (works for about a mile and a half) and a watch. About a hundred bucks a pair.
This is a short Reuters report explaining that the files of Guy Liddell, head of MI5’s counter-espionage branch, have been opened by the Public Records Office and he is recorded as having suggested to Stewart Menzies in August of 1944, head of MI6, that they should threaten Hitler with the use of nuclear weapons in case Hitler used V-2.
David Tucker writes: "I don’t think there is any necessary connection between the geopolitics of the Middle East and the terrorism problem, nor do I think we can rearrange the Middle East to our advantage."
Ordinarily I defer to Davids views based on his having had more foreign experience than me, but I am going to need to have this point explained more fully. It has struck me that smashing Iraq was a wholly appropriate next step in the war on terrorism after Afghanistan, and if we have to go through the charade of inspections to gain some measure of international legitimacy, then fine. The problem as I see it is that we arent willing to implicate Iraq directly in terrorism either because the evidence is circumstantial, or because a direct case against Iraq would be no less compelling against Iran, Syria, Libya, and probably Saudi Arabia as well. And so we are peddling the "weapons of mass destruction" line as a bit of a fig leaf to cover for the implications of policy that we arent yet ready to face. Yet, smashing up Iraq would convey a salutary lesson and warning to those other states.
David may be right that we cant rearrange the Middle East to our advantage, but it is large question that I understand is being contemplated around Washington these days. Does the difficulty of rearranging the Middle East stem from our own limitations (political, military and otherwise) as a reluctant imperial power, or from the inherent primitiveness of the region? And if we dont restructure the region in an aggressive way, what grand strategy does Tucker recommend? It seems to me that Wahhabism needs to be not merely contained, but exterminated. It would be nice if Iraq and Saudi Arabia would turn into Turkey, but didnt Turkey turn into Turkey because of involvement in a Western war?
He was born on November 30, 1874. He said: "What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place to live in after we are gone?" He lived well, and we should be grateful. Here is a good piece that Pat Garrity wrote a few years back for his 125th birthday, and one I wrote on the thirty fifth anniversary of his death.
Apparently Mark Steyn has his own site. It would seem to be easier to find his hard-hitting articles this way.
You’ve got the hand it to the U.N. They really know how to find the right people for the job. From today’s Washington Post (p. A18):
"Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix rejected yesterday a resignation tendered by one of his Iraq-bound inspectors after reports appeared that the Virginia man lacked a specialized degree and has played a leadership role in sadomasochistic sex clubs." (My italics.)
It gets better.
"Harvey John ’Jack’ McGeorge. . . founded, and has been an officer in, several sadomasochistic sex groups, through which he has taught courses on ’sex slaves’ and various techniques involving knives, ropes, and choking devices. . . McGeorge is a co-founder of Black Rose, a Washington-area S&M club, and a former officer in the Leather Leadership Conference." The story adds that McGeorge was recommended to the U.N. by our State Department. (What was that about people in striped pants??)
Iraqi camels are nervous tonight.
Bob Novak reports that the Democratic Leadership Council (Al Fromm and Bruce Reed) are warning that if the Demo Party moves left they will suffer huge losses in 2004. They attack the Judis-Tixeria thesis, and claim that a continual appeal to the Demo base will not cut it, the Demo base is not large enough. They’re right.
This is interesting in a kind archeological way. According to an article in the WaPo there is a childrens book writer in Luxembourg who has started writing in Letzebuergesch (or, Luxembourgish). This country of a half a million apparently needs a patriotic shot in the arm (more than a third of its residents are foreign born) so some are now writing for the first time in this off-shoot of German. Up until now this obscure language has only been used for oral communication. It had been assumed that the language is not sophisticated enough for the subtleties necessary in written expressions. Some claim otherwise. Here is short intro to the language , if you have nothing better to do.
Were back from Arnns place. Had a great Thanksgiving. The first thing I notice on returning was this article from the London Independent on the possibility of transplanting a face from a dead person to a living person. The report is from the meeting of the British Association of Plastic Surgeons. It is shocking. Yet, we should be prepared for more such shocks.
I think the Bush administration is pursuing the right strategy. Going after the terrorist organizations is more important than going after Iraq’s weapons with military force. The terrorists pose the more immediate threat. Going after Iraq’s weapons with military force is likely to make it harder to get the terrorist organizations. It may discourage cooperation with us in key countries. DoD has limited resources in certain critical areas (among them SOF) and will find it hard to fight both Iraq and the terrorists. Using the UN increases the willingness of people to cooperate with us. Cooperation is critical for success against the terrorists. Getting that cooperation comes at a price, so we have to weigh what we gain from seeking it against what we lose. I think the administration made the right call.
I would also guess that the disclosure report due on December 8 and our response will be only the first steps in a long process that may lead to the use of military force against Iraq. The inspection process will have to unfold; we won’t be able to hurry it much. I doubt that we will attack Iraq if the inspectors are still there and we cannot order them to leave. But having them there and snooping around is a gain and one that supports the more important task of dealing with the terrorists.
I believe that most of those in and outside the administration who would prefer to deal with Iraq now do so because they think that rearranging the geopolitics of the Middle East is necessary and perhaps even sufficient to deal with the terrorism problem and taking care of Iraq is the first step in this geopolitical rearranging. I don’t think there is any necessary connection between the geopolitics of the Middle East and the terrorism problem, nor do I think we can rearrange the Middle East to our advantage.
In light of the liberals new attacks on FOX news, etc., perhaps it is worth referring to the piece I wrote about Fox News for On Principle juts this last summer, which can be found here .
Im off to Jackson,Mississippi, so my next blog will be spelled with a southern drawl caused by my change in latitude and by the numerous bottles of wine which await me. Happy Thanksgiving.
This is a lovely story. I dont know anything about the writer. He is a novelist, by his own understanding a volvo-driving liberal disengaged from real life and America. His son joined the Marine Corps. First he was shocked and then he learned from his son (and the Corps) what America was about. You will not regret reading it. Ill be back on late Friday. Happy Thanksgiving.
Note that this AP dispatch on the appointment of Henry Kissinger just has to mention that Kissinger is not only a controversisal figure,
"But he has also been called a war criminal by his
harshest critics, for the role he played in Vietnam and other hot spots,
working at times with corrupt governments in pursuit of U.S. interests." AP ought to be ashamed of itself.
Vicki and I are going up to Hillsdale for Thanksgiving. Arnn and his flock have guaranteed that well have turducken, so how could we resist! Yet, with the whole Arnn and Schramm families at one table, it will be an unquiet meal. No doubt Ill have to listen to the brats braying, women clucking, and college presidents speaking in that ever-so-important-hushed tones that will do nothing to stir my blood; I just hope that it doesnt make for ill digestions.
I likewise have doubts about the inspections. My understanding is that they are starting at the sites where they left off when they were kicked out by Hussein. That seems like just the wrong strategy. You know that there is going to be nothing there, because Hussein already knows the site is under suspicion. Why not try a site that you haven’t previously inspected?
My sense is that Bush’s real strategy hinges on the December 8 disclosure deadline, when Hussein has to show his cards about whatever weapons of mass destruction he has. There is reason to believe that we and the Brits have intel about Husseins holdings already, that Hussein will lie, and that we will then strike. The task of eliminating the weapons is complicated because the UN inspectors are likely to emerge with white-gloves still Clorox clean, but if the intel exists, Bush should be able to make the case for those who are willing to listen. As for why he hasn’t revealed more details previously: my sense is that the administration doesn’t want to telegraph what it knows so that Hussein can play three-card monte with anthrax. Better to reveal the sites after they are destroyed.
In honor of R.J.’s blog about bagging his own holiday bird, I offer today’s story from the Opinion Journal, in which Brendan Miniter recounts his turkey hunting tradition. Who knew that turkeys were so tough to hunt? The admonition in the article regarding the necessity of a head shot was eerily reminiscent of G. Gordon Liddy. No word yet on whether Miniter finished the job by hunting a duck and a chicken.
I agree that Phil Gramm has done good for the Republic, and while he has earned the right to return to reading good books and to make the sort of money he deserves, I like many are having trouble watching Phil step off the public stage. I therefore have a modest proposal: Gramm for Treasury Secretary. It is well-known beltway gossip that O’Neill’s days are numbered. We therefore need a replacement who is going to be respected on fiscal matters. But we also need someone who will bring in the bona fides on homeland security. While there will inevitably be some power-shifts to the newly-established Department of Homeland Security, the Treasury Department currently has a leading role in the war on terror--namely, seizing the assets of terrorist organizations. Phil Gramm has the finance background and foreign policy experience from his years in the Senate to tackle this difficult task. So while I wish Phil a prosperous retirement from the Senate, the country may yet need him--now more than ever.
David Frum reflects on the lack of real freedom in Canada (property, contract) and has a modest proposal for some constitutional amendments.
This Jay Nordlinger piece was published a year ago when Gramm announced his retirement. It is a fine piece about one of the most thoughtful Senators, and since this was his last month in office, it is worth re-reading. I used to know Gramm in the seventies when he was just a professor (the only thing he said he ever wanted to become). He was the most thoughtful economist around, because he wasnt simply an economist. That is not to say that his understanding of the American regime was perfect, but his understanding was the result of his own efforts, of his own powerful mind. Well done, Phil. You have done some good work for the Republic. Now relax and go read some more books.
Richard Epstein offers a thoughtful, libertarians-eye view of Rawls and his work on NRO today.
Scientists are considering creating a hybrid (or technically, a chimera) formed from mouse and human cells to be used as a host to test embryonic stem cells. Scientists are generally bad at considerations that touch on philosophy or ethics, so the following should give readers reason to pause:
Dr. Irving L. Weissman, an expert on stem cells at Stanford University, said that making mice with human cells could be "an enormously important experiment," but if conducted carelessly could lead to outcomes that are "too horrible to contemplate." He gave as an extreme example the possibility that a mouse making human sperm might accidentally be allowed to mate with a mouse that had made its eggs from human cells
Of course, there are other views. Take that of Dr. Fred Gage, who suggests "that the question of making mice with human cells deserved further consideration and that scientists and the public ’should listen to each other more’ before reaching a conclusion to go ahead. . . . The earlier the mice were killed the smaller would be the ethical issue, in his view."
I am actually wondering what in the world is going on. First Daschle, now Gore. Haven’t these guys heard of CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, etc? Pay attention to Gore’s words; they must have been carefully selected. Especially note his use of the term "fifth column." It is possible that Gore is not serious, that he’s just ticked off because his books are not selling and his poll numbers look bad. This is what is called whining.
"The media is kind of weird these days on
politics, and there are some major
institutional voices that are, truthfully
speaking, part and parcel of the Republican Party," said Mr.
Gore in an interview with The Observer. "Fox News Network,
The Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh—there’s a bunch of them, and some of
them are financed by wealthy ultra-conservative billionaires who make political
deals with Republican administrations and the rest of the media …. Most of the
media [has] been slow to recognize the pervasive impact of this fifth column in their
ranks—that is, day after day, injecting the daily Republican talking points into the
definition of what’s objective as stated by the news media as a whole."
Based on my duplicate Kelly blog, I see that Schramm is running three minutes ahead of me today. If this keeps up, I may ask him to finish the Motion for Summary Judgment that Im currently drafting.
Yasser Arafats deputy says that the armed uprising against Israel was a mistake. He says they lost much, and gained very little. Its from The Jerusalem Post.
On the eve of Thanksgiving, or if you prefer, turducken day, Michael Kelly offers a few things for which he and indeed all of us should be thankful. Its worth a quote:
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful that . . . all the other deep and subtle and clever people of the Clinton White House, and all the thoughts they thought, and all the damage they wrought, are history.
I am thankful that we live in reality again. Or, to be more precise, I am thankful that we live in a reality defined by the actual consequences of policies, rather than what columnists and correspondents and editors can be gulled into thinking are consequences -- gulled at least for long enough to skate through that days news cycle and this seasons electoral cycle.
He also takes aim at those who suggest that Bushs foreign policy successes are merely accidents of history, rather than corrections of accidents. Worth a read.
This is a nice piece by Michael Kelly . He is thankful that the Clinton administration is no longer running our Iraq policy. Ditto.
Peter queries why Saudi criticsm seems to be cresting now. Well, the facts are perhaps overcoming years of careful work on the part of that regime here in the US (and not just in Foggy Bottom). Stubbornly, some still resist -- see the exchange between Cliff May and Bob Novak posted on NROs Corner yesterday. "Blame Israel First" only goes so far, and cant, for instance, explain away the Saudi visa scandal or the emerging money trail story. How long can Mr. Prince of Darkness retain what credibility he has?
I know that much needs to be said about the latest revelations about the flow of Saudi money to bad guys. For now, note this Frank Gaffney piece that recounts the many other problems that have surfaced in the past even though most have been ignored (at least publicly). I suspect that this is now changing. An interesting question is why now, why not a year ago, why not next year?
According to this BBC report a study recently conducted by some Ohio State scientists shows that there is a real danger of the internet collapsing as a result of some strategic attacks on certain major nodes. They apparently argue that it has become progressively more vulnerable, as it has become more commercialized and centralized.
Our problem is solved. The United Arab Emirates just held its first annual camel beauty pageant. There were $27,000 worth of prizes and trophies.
"The aim is to mark the respect and love the
UAE have for the camel," member of the UAE’s
National Federal Council Faraj bin Hamouda told
the Khaleej Times newspaper.
I refrain from further comment.
Steve Hayward has taken note of a trend, demonstrated by John Maddens telestrator homage to the turducken. But it doesnt stop there. Maddens web page leads off with the headline: "Time for Some Turducken." While some love him and some hate him for his use of the telestrator, few who look at Madden can honestly question the fact that he obviously knows his vittles. So bring on the football, and the turducken.
I resisted making comments on a subject that would get a fatwa issued against NLT, but recent comments about Muhammed’s wives, if not the references to the spicy sausage filled turducken, have probably sealed that fate, so I feel free to muse. The multiculturalist types who would have a hard time explaining away the fatwa against the journalist are likely the same folks who seek mandatory public funding for works of art like "Piss Christ," the infamous exhibit featuring a cross floating in a jar of urine. You see, the artist simply has a different perspective from the hegemonic and oppressive WASP culture which defines bourgeous American existence. For these souls, America is an oppressive regime because there are those who believe that public funds should not be expended for this sort of alleged art. Far better the regimes of, say, Nigeria. Imagine, if you will, if someone would offer "Piss Muhammed" in one of these countries. I will go out on a limb and say that public funding would not be the question of the day upon such an offering. Indeed, the immolation and fatwas would make what we’ve seen in recent days look like a beauty pageant by comparison.
What in the world is going on? I mean, really. The dark ages here we come. This is preposterous. Some Nigerian state official has issued a fatwa against the journalist who wrote that Muhammed might want to have one those beauties for a wife (Why not all of them, was my question when I first heard of this?). He wants the journalist dead for having insulted the prophet. How do multi-culturalists address something like this, by the way? Maybe we should keep talking about turducken.
Well, sometimes things work out OK This BBC story explains that Churchill was voted the greatest Briton ever. Diana came in third(?). Whatever happened to Shakespeare, by the way? To paraprhase the old man, maybe Britain has a future because it hasnt forgotten its past. By the way, his birthday is just a few days away, November 30th.
Today’s WaPo runs a long article on the Landrieu campaign. It is actually a good read because it clearly shows that she is desperate, tired, and whatever enthusiasm she has for the campaign is an artifice. She is clearly irritated that she has to do this; whatever happened to the divine right of senators? Also note that there are no out of state Demos coming in to campaign for her, no Daschle, no Clinton, no Kennedy (oh, that would really do her in!); this is significant and is a bad sign for the Demos for the elections in 2004. Since this is (according to Alt) my 301st blog I better make a prediction: Ladrieu will lose, she won’t get more than 47% of the vote. Keep track, Alt.
For those of you keeping count at home, Schramm offered his 300th blog this morning, which, given the relatively infancy of NLT, means that he produces a new blog about every 27 seconds! Other interesting statistics: 20% of his blogs contain references to "turducken;" 40% contain predictions; the remaining 40% explain why his predictions were right, and suggest that Hayward and I were spineless cowards for not reaching the conclusion.
I actually appreciated Haywards note on the Gore book. I didnt know how the publishers worked this. It makes perfect sense. And he is right in saying that this means that Gores book is not selling at all. Good.
The fact that Gores book is languishing on the best-seller list is a sign that it is a total bomb. It is a fairly easy matter for major publishers to juice a book in ways that push it up the best-seller list even when few real people are buying it. (You place large ghost orders with book chains that are later cancelled, send out lots of inventory to distributors even if you know most will be returned, etc.) The fact that it is only No. 21 on the best-seller list tells me that almost no real people are buying the book. Look for it on the remainder table at CostCo for about $1 within weeks. The publisher is certain to take a financial bath on the book; it will not earn back Gores advance and printing costs. . .
Now, can we get back to arguing about truly important matters, like turducken?
Notwithstanding Schramm’s recent stance against polling, I thought he might find these new numbers of interest. A recent New York Times/CBS News Poll finds that respondents viewed Gore unfavorably by a margin of 2-to-1. The GOP is viewed favorably, while nearly half the respondents viewed the Democratic Party unfavorably. Of course, the Times attempts to put their spin on the numbers by saying that "[t]hose polled did not appear to be particularly happy about how the election turned out." In reality, 37 percent stated that they were pleased, while 26 percent said they were disappointed. Given a presumption of an equally divided two party system, the numbers suggest that voters are pleased.
The New York Times conceded today that the economy grew faster than forecasted in the third quarter. This might explain why Democratic opposition to the Bush economic plan did not have public resonance in the last election.
I taped the Reagan special that was on the History Channel last night, and may get a chance to watch it one of these days. Any one else see it? Reviews?
In light of Rawls’s passing, it is appropriate to re-examine his influential book A Theory of Justice. Perhaps the best essay (critique) on the subject is in Allan Bloom’s Giants and Dwarfs. A must read for anyone who is going to law school--particularly if there is any risk that you will run into Martha Nussbaum.
There seems to be some disappointment (and surprise) that the Gores’ book is only number 21 on the best-selling list. Huge publicity, on every talk show, etc., and still nothing. Does this tell us anything? Is this like a good opinion poll? Is it more scientific, even? In the meantime, a new poll shows Bush holding steady at 65%.
Peter Berkowitz reports in The Weekly Standard about a new translation of The Federalist into Hebrew and a conference (with 600 in attendance!) on the book and its relevance to Israel. It is great to re-invigorate a conversation about the nature of self-government and constitutionalism by using this great American work. I wonder if there is an Arabic translation? Wouldn’t it be nice to have such a conference in Iraq, Iran, or Syria?
John Madden has just endorsed turducken on Monday Night Football, and even demonstrated how to carve turducken properly with his telestrater. This is bad.
They made it out of Nigeria, landed in London, only to be verbally abused by Germaine Greer, Glenda Jackson, and other feminists. One of the feminists said that if they go ahead with their pageant, the contestants "will be wearing swimwear dripping
with blood." Another said that the contest was "like a cargo of nuclear waste shunned by all."
In the meantime, to get a bit of a perspective on both Nigeria (on the verge of civil war) and why Islamism is not driven by opposition to U.S. policy on Israel, read this piece by Paul Marshall.
Roll Call reports that Rep. Lucas, a conservative Kentucky Democrat who only won by 51-47 on November 5 (and Bush got 60% in his district in 2000) may make a decision even as early as today about switching parties. He has been talking with Dennis Hastert. He may lose the next election if Sen. McConnels former chief of staff runs against him. Thanks to Power Line for the heads up.
The fur is flying at Brooklyn College over the administration’s denial of tenure to Robert David Johnson, a young professor of U.S. diplomatic history. Although he has an impressive record of scholarship (two books published by Harvard University Press, and he’s only in his mid-30s), and is a highly popular teacher, there are apparently concerns about his "collegiality." According to one source at the college, Johnson has "alienated practically everybody, no matter what political orientation, whether left-wing, right-wing, or no wing."
However, the local chapter of the National Association of Scholars smells a rat. According to them, Johnson’s trouble stems from his public questioning of Brooklyn Colleges affirmative action policies, and his objection to a "teach-in" on the war on terrorism that included not a single defender of U.S. or Israeli foreign policy. The full story is documented here.
As a side note, I’ve met Johnson personally, and he’s no conservative. However, his scholarship is top-notch; indeed, twenty-four leading historians of all political stripes have issued a public protest over the denial of tenure.
I am sorry about this tiger-footed rage after the game; I wonder what would have happened if Michigan had scored on the last play! Alt is right, I wasnt in Columbus. But my son Joe was. I asked him if he had been involved, he said no, he had actually fallen asleep at a friends house. Too tired, he said; hes been working too hard. You decide.
Alt is right that I’m right. Landrieu is finished, and I’m willing to bet a turducken on that! Her comments that Robert refers to indicate her desperation. See this article from the Times-Picayune explaining how each candidate will or will not support the Bush agenda. Terrell is almost entirely supportive, and Landrieu balks at many. Jesse Jackson has now endorsed Landrieu, in an attempt to get the black vote out. This is the best Landrieu can do, but it will not be enough. Bush is more popular in the state than she is, and he will be there a few days before the election; she will lose.
The bad news is that Buckeye fans did not resist the temptation to commit acts of vandalism after the Buckeyes victory over Michigan. The good news is that based on the time of his blogging and police photographs at the scene, we can pretty clearly rule Schramm out as a suspect.
The Times-Picayune reports that Landrieu offered these words to opponent Suzanne Haik Terrell after their last debate: "This will be your last campaign." Terrell took it as a threat, while Landrieu said that she meant that Terrell would not be a viable candidate after this run. Either way, the personal nature of the attacks, and the shrill tone of the campaign suggest a candidate who can see victory slipping away. Looks like Schramm may have been prescient once again.
Michael Ledeen argues that Iran is teetering on the brink of chaos. He notes that almost no press is given to some amazing developments; over half a million marched in Tehran (and many other cities had large demonstrations) last Friday and it is estimated that over half were women. In some cities it is not clear who is in charge. That interesting things are happening it seems to me is true, that doesn’t mean, however, that Ledeen is right to say that we must act right now to overthrow these bad guys. Note this NY Times report on an alliance of sorts we have with an Iraqi Shiite now living in Tehran. It’s complicated.
Is anyone working in France today? Reuters reports that the truck drivers are striking and have formed blockades, the air traffic controllers are striking this evening, causing airlines to cancel flights, and tomorrow tens of thousands of railway workers "and other state employees" are scheduled to march in opposition to the great enemy of privatization. Its good to see that it is business as usual in France. Speaking of striking air traffic controllers--as I recall, Reagan had a solution for that.
WaPo has an interesting article about how consumers are not upgrading their computers as quickly as they once did. It seems that computers have reached a level where the operating systems that are a few years old are able to do the basic web surfing and email applications which consumers desire. Ah, for the good old days, when you left the store only to find your model obsolete and selling for hundreds less in a matter of weeks if not hours.
The Washington Post editorial page yesterday concluded that the Leahy judiciary committee and the Hatch judiciary committee operated similarly in an editorial entitled "War Over Judges." They point to the fact that 100 judges were confirmed by these committees respectively. Of course, they conveniently ignore the fact that Leahys judiciary committee voted on party lines against two candidates for the circuit court based upon trumped up accusations of ideological unfitness.
Given the numeric similarities, the Post concludes that the problem facing judicial confirmation process is systemic. The good news is that they recommend adopting something like Bushs proposal to streamline judicial nominations. But then they take a play from E.J. Dionne, and the New York Times, and Ralph Neas (thus, the intellectual clone reference), and say that Bush needs to show "some flexibility on nominations to key courts." What, you mean like the flexibility that Clinton demonstrated with liberal Justices Ginsburg and Breyer? The Post is correct in noting that the system has not been operating properly, but the solution is not to force the President to abdicate his responsibility in judicial selection. Quite frankly, no one believes that the groups wailing for consensus judges would be doing so if the President were a Republican and the Congress were Democratic. That said, the closely divided nature of the Senate has caused the president to choose judges who are undeniably qualified and around whom reasonable consensus may be built. Perhaps it is time that the opposition groups realized this, and made some concessions of their own.
If you are a Democrat this piece will make you even more despondent. No real new information in this, yet it makes the Demos national prospects look very bleak indeed. And this, by James Traub, analyzes the effect that Clinton had on his party: not as clear as the effect that Reagan had on his. Indeed, he argues that Clinton’s masterful tergiversations--a "serial redefiner" is what Traub calls Clinton--is what has put the Demos in their current fix; Clinton’s "protean" ways allowed the Demos to play good defense against GOP ideological and electoral dominance, but without lasting value. Traub’s short piece leads more directly into the possibility of talking once again about a Republican realignment.
"The Tax Song" is a number one hit in Germany. It ridicules Schroeder for jettisoning his campaign vows just weeks after the election. Very funny article, a must read. Schroeder is not amused. Good. He is becoming like Daschle.
Here is a short guide to how well Bush has done on his European trip. (Thanks to Powerline). The only thing I will add to it are two points: One the (former) East Europeans are more pro-American than the West and that will be useful in the long run. It will also mean that whatever foreign policy EU will have (which by definition is squishy), it will have to be relegated to a secondary status to the foreign/military policy of NATO (which is less squishy). Two, all this is done without ticking Russia off; this doesn’t mean that there will be no Russia complications in the future, but that is distant; and this will do for now. This is also good for Russia, they can get their (smaller) house in order and talk less about ruling those petty little Baltic states, etc. And, the Cowboy wore his boots for much of the trip.
In Bucharest--in the same square in which Ceausescu had to be lifted to safety from the roof of the Communist Party heaquarters by a helicopter (three days later he was excecuted) in December of 1989 because the people were going to lynch him--Bush said this: "Your country also brings moral clarity to our NATO Alliance. You value freedom because you have lived without it. You know the difference between good and evil, because you have seen the face of evil." This is Cowboy talk, and the ten thousand plus in Revolutionary Square understood exactly what he meant.
By the way, there is a fairly good restaurant just off the square. It was, natch, intended for the Party elite, but by the time I got there--three months after Ceausescu’s death--it had become more open. So we talked about republican government and the connection between food and politics over fair Romanian wine and bear meat.
This is an op-ed by Tom Gibson (in the Denver Post) that is worth reading. It is not rocket science, but it is one of those rare instances when a public argument is made against polling (he calls it a fraud). I think he is right. And I think we ought to have some conversations on these matters. Polling has a bad effect on both politics and the coverage of politics (aside from the fact that they are not to be trusted) and therefore on how citizens understand politics. Any opinions and/or articles on these matters would be appreciated.
George Will is ready to talk about politics from 2004 and on. He begins with the U.S. Senate. Do the Democrats have a chance to regain the majority? Hardly none, argues Will. The Demos will be defending 19 seats and the GOP only 15. Even more important, nine of those GOP seats are in states that Bush carried, seven by 15 points, and 2 by five. And, eight of the nineteen seats that the Demos will defend are in states carried by Bush. Very promising for the GOP, a hard nut to crack for the Demos.
I wrote a short analysis for the Pacific Research Institute of how the environmental vote seemed to have gone AWOL in the recent election (it is only 550 words, and you can read it here .) In short, I argue that the environmental vote is a paper tiger, and conclude that Republicans have little to fear from it so long as they have a sensible environmental policy. I will have a longer piece on this coming out shortly from AEI.
I am getting deluged with vituperous e-mails from people who seem to misread the piece as saying Republicans should endorse the environmental agenda. I am not sure I am being understood here; perhaps other bloggers can weigh on on this. A "sensible" environmental policy means the kind of thing the Bush administration has just done--changing rigid Clean Air Act regulations that actually keep the air dirtier than it needs to be. The media is mis-reporting this, of course.
OK, I am going to make a munchie-run and then sit on my couch and holler for the Buckeyes. But before I go I wanted to ask you a question. Did you know where O.J. Simpson was hiding before the Bronco chase? On the University of Michigan campus. That’s the last place you would find a football player. Now, cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!
This is a nice short piece by Christopher Caldwel on the Daschle outburst against Rush means: the Demos anti-democratic arrogance that now seems to have become the bedrock of their party.
Although this is a typical, ordinary NY Times story on the Louisiana Senate race if you read it carefully, and even read between the lines, you will note that the jig is up. Landrieu will lose for essentially the same reason that the Demos lost the Senate: Bush is very popular and Terrell has tied herself to him both politically and personally (and Bush will visit the state a few days before the election) and Landrieus base, or whats left of it, will not turn out in sufficient numbers to help. I predict that it will not even be close, double digits.
Here is William Greider on The Nation explaining what a good thing Gores move to the left is and how the liberals ought to take advantage the publicity he is getting on nationalizing health care by starting to work now to include it in the Democratic Party Platform. In the meantime Dan Balz reports in the Washington Post reports that Gore is less popular with the Demo elites than he is with ordinary Demo folks. And here is an op ed on Gore from the London Times on how Gore is positioning himself.
This is the Michael Isikoff story in Newsweek about large sums of money, through the wife of the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., going to Saudis in the U.S. who were helping the hijackers. Although the evidence is only circumstantial at the moment, it is strong. This is the AP story on the same. And this is the NY Times version.
Recalling the elan of the early anti-Castro days, how about a new bumper sticker that reads: "Al-farabi, Si!, Wahhabi, No!"
You want a real Big Game. USC v. UCLA is nice, Army/Navy sentimental. No, no. It is The Game between Stanford and Cal. Alert readers will know that this is the 20th anniversary of The Play. I write about my own Play role here.
Oh, Ken and Robert, the national security panels were interesting. I don’t recall anyone mentioning the Civil War. So some war powers argument seemed a little, shall we say, incomplete.
This is an interview with Stephen Schwartz (author of The Two Faces of Islam) on Wahhabism, the extremist form of Islam we are dealing with. Good read, makes clear something complex. Has good insights on Islam in the Balkans as well.
I just came out of an Arts and Sciences College meeting. You know, the typical stuff: the less important the subject is, the more discussion. I am usually loud and outspoken at these things, and everyone humors me. But I did something really imprudent. Under my breath--during an especially boring part of the meeting--I made a favorable reference to Michigan in the upcoming game. I was joking, of course, being the patriot that I am, yet, even I sensed that it was no laughing matter when a female faculty member (a perfectly nice and intelligent woman) scowled at me, pulled aside her overcoat to reveal a scarlet sweater over a grey turtleneck. She frowned and said "That is not funny. I am going to report you." I reassured her that I was only kidding. She said that was good, because she wasnt. I think Ill just stay at home until the game Saturday (12:15 our time).
Senator Lieberman has started interviewing campaign staff in case Gore decides not to run, it is being reported. Who said Gore is not running, I mean aside from Gore?
Here is a statement (in Adobe format) from Carville, Shrum, and Greenberg on why the Demos lost and what it means. This isnt impressive to me. We have to speak out and address the countrys problems and this is still the Democrats moment. Yup, thats about it. They get paid for this stuff?
Now Jules Witcover gets in on promoting Gary Hart for President; Gary as the restorer of the Jeffersonian republic of virtue.
The EPA is spending $715,000 to determine whether or not oak trees in the Ozarks area are causing pollution in St. Louis. This has to do with the trees giving off isoprene, which when combined with sunlight and water turns into formaldehyde. When this is confirmed I guess the environmentalists will want the trees cut down. Somebody send a memo to Reagan.
While USC was not my team even when I was on the left coast, I must defend them as being the true warriors in college football. After all, when was the last time that an Ohio State player took a bullet during practice? That actually happened to former USC quarterback Rodney Peete. Sure, they wear pantyhose when the temperature drops below 65 degrees to keep their legs warm--but it is kevlar panty hose.
Peter is worried that in his far-off old age he may have to trade in his motorcycle for a Segway Human Transporter. I guarantee him this is nothing to lament. Last spring, the Segway people brought one of their Transporters here to the Columbus Dispatch and let us each try it out. It was amazing! You can’t fall off this thing. It’s the closest thing to riding a magic carpet I’ve ever experienced. The machine stays underneath you no matter how clumsy (or drunk?) you are. And man does it go if you want it to!
Anyone who tries one becomes a believer. In fact, they end up giggling and whooping like a 10-year-old.
The machine also a marvelous example of this country’s inexhaustible ingenuity. Each time you think technology has been pushed to its limits, some American comes up with something like this to remind you that it just isn’t so.
This is an interesting report on some new discoveries about dogs based on some new DNA research and some more understandable studies. Dogs seem to have a better sense of humans and what they want than chimps, for example. And--I hesitate--it just may well be the case that dogs have not evolved from wolves, although the study only implies this. The point is my dogs like me, even that willful SOB Irish Wolfhound I once had, but then, he was Irish. That island breeds some valiant creatures! I wonder what it would be like to have a Hungarian Komondor? Oh, well, never mind. Jonah Goldberg at NRO brought this article to my attention.
I was struck by Bush wearing his cowboy boots to some of the NATO meetings. I think that says a lot. It is worth noting is that this expanded NATO has value to counterbalance the European Union; it forces some of the Europeans to be less local in their thinking. Krauthammer alludes to this. And John O’Sullivan notes that Bush is being entirely successful in reshaping NATO as an alliance against terrorism. Interesting stuff going on, and so far, the Cowboy is doing just fine. And this despite the fact that one of Chretien’s underlings called Bush a moron.
Historians of American politics are abuzz this week about revelations by Robert Dallek in the current issue of The Atlantic Monthly regarding John F. Kennedy’s health. For years there had been allegations that Kennedy, after running in 1960 as the candidate of youth and "vig-ah"--implying that Eisenhower’s heart condition disqualified him from serving in the country’s highest office--was in poor health himself. Dallek’s research shows that JFK actually suffered from a wide range of ailments, including colitis, Addison’s disease, recurrent urinary-tract infections, and what would be diagnosed today as osteoporosis--the last brought on by the cocktail of medications he took daily to treat his other problems.
Dallek, writing in the tradition of court historians such as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., portrays this as "a story of iron-willed fortitude in mastering the difficulties of chronic illness." I see it differently--while Kennedy was undoubtedly courageous, he was clearly in no condition to serve as president. That his health was successfully kept from the American people has to count as one of the greatest electoral swindles of the 20th century. When will the Camelot myth finally die? Perhaps not until the baby boomers pass from the scene....
After entering bankruptcy, USAirways laid-off 16,000 people--23% of its workforce. Who will be the champion of the little people? Who will fight for their jobs? Who else, Ted Kennedy. O.K., so maybe he didn’t fight for all the workers. But he did fight for some. O.K. for two. O.K., for two particular women. The women worked in what is called "Executive Services," which cater to the airlines VIPs--including Ted Kennedy. The day after the women were laid off, Kennedy called the President of the USAir personally "not to save his perks, but to rescue the jobs of the two women employed there, according to Kennedy spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter." He intervened "because of their distinguished service to him and others." Not since Eddie Murphy gave a transvestite prosititute a ride home have I seen such a pure act of charity. I guess it just shows that there is no river too wide, and no bridge too far for Ted to traverse in defense of a woman in distress.
I admit it. When I lived on the left coast I used to watch USC play UCLA football and think that this was really a great game, a great rivalry. How embarrassing! I didn’t know that their quarterbacks were social work majors and their running backs wore panty hose to keep their legs warm. I didn’t know that football could be played in weather so foul that your toes froze. I was sheltered.
I have been trying to talk politics with people in Ohio for the last week, and they will not have it. They just want to talk about the war and all of Ohio is on fire! They mean a tumultuous war, a war with kith and kin and kind with kind confound, a war of quartering steel and climbing fire. The talk is only of the war with Michigan. After all, it has been going on since 1890’s. The story is filled with great captains (Woody Hayes) and the ministers and instruments of war, hearty and valiant troops (too many great ones to name), and even has a Benedict Arnold (except his name is Bo Schembechler in Ohio). It is a tale full of noble victories and unjust losses, of soothsayers in Columbus predicting a fourth quarter win in Michigan, of the hard knowledge that Ohio State has only won two out of the last fourteen games. This is no idle tale, it is close to the heart and mind of my fellow citizens. Identity and happiness is at stake. Tickets are being traded for first born sons, men are known to have given up their Helens to get to the game. Honor and the nobility of life are at stake. The Trojan War was nothing compared to this contest between giants. There is nothing else. The optimists argue that virtue is bold and that none by virtue fall. The pious pray that the God of battles steel our soldiers’ heart. And the pessimists hope that God will sort things out. Yet, we think we know that God is just.
These Buckeyes are people who know the disciplines of war. These bloody, bold, and resolute men are ready to try their fortunes, to the last. The state will effectively shut down on Saturday. Newborns on that day will be named Buck and Tressel, gender being irrelevant. Everything is at stake. We’ll talk about the war on terror another day, after Ohio State defeats Michigan by three points.
The ruckus over the beauty pageant in Nigeria reminds me of when the Miss World pageant was held in Bangalore (I’m not making this up) India in 1996. A protest group named Mahila Jagran Samiti, which apparently translates to “Forum for the Awakening of Women,” threatened to commit mass suicide by immolation to protest the pageant. “Wearing miniskirts is not part of our traditional culture,” their spokesperson told reporters. (They don’t like Kentucky Fried Chicken either, it turns out. No word on what they think of turducken, but I can guess.) The spokesperson also said that the group had abandoned plans to have one member per day set herself on fire. Instead, they wanted to preserve their entire 15-person suicide squad for a mass immolation during the crowning ceremony, which was held in an outdoor stadium. The local constabulary talked them out of it, thus depriving Miss World of unprecedented ratings.
And Peter, all you really need to know about ERISA is that it really stands for: "Every Ridiculous Idea Since Adam." Just like most statutes from Washington.
I missed the Homeland Security panel, as I was popping between meetings and the conference. I did hear that Lino Graglia suggested that honest Americans should not have anything to hide, and that therefore they should welcome the added surveillance and potential intrusions into privacy because it will aid in apprehending the terrorists. While this was related to me second hand and therefore may fall short of adequately capturing Graglia’s thoughts, the suggestion is nonetheless disturbing. While the government should not be unduly hobbled in its efforts to collect intelligence, this interest in security should not necessarily mean casting aside ordinary protections for individuals "persons, houses, papers and effects."
It would have been good to have seen the panels, and I would be interested in your thoughts on them. So far, I have heard a lot of anxieties on both sides of the issues, but fewer substantiated facts.
On the subject of turducken, it is cooked with different stuffing in each layer (including, for example, Oyster dressing in one layer, and a spicy dressing with sausage in another) and is roasted, not deep fried. You can see a picture of a finished turducken on the right side of this web page. There is also an interactive link on the right side of the same page which has audio and pictures describing the process of making a turducken.
The AP reports that over 50 people have been killed and hundreds injured in Lagos, Nigeria over a newspaper article that suggested that the prophet Muhammed may have chosen a wife from among the Miss World contestants. Official U.S. government publications describe Nigeria as a "republic transitioning from military to civilian rule." As the Poet said: "Beauty is a witch."
Robert, you really got me thinking in a way the Washington Post and LA Times have failed to do so today. (I haven’t had my daily Aristotle yet, but then again I’ve missed it for some time now.) I’m sorry we couldn’t have had such, or a similar conversation at the Federalist Society meeting? What did you think of the homeland security panels?
Now this unnatural turducken is stuffed with dressing as well? One could stuff the chicken with, say, an apricot and cornmeal dressing, the duck with wild rice and cranberries, and the turkey with sausage, in addition to the creatures themselves? Is this concoction roasted? It’s not deep-fried, is it?
There’s no reason for Masugi to recoil from the Turducken. Layers of poultry and stuffing--what could be better? No, such fear and loathing is appropriately reserved for the Tofurkey, which as best as I can tell does violence to the Thanksgiving holiday. Did the pilgrims feast on soy beans? Does anyone else think that the phrase "turkey-like texture and flavor" is not exactly appetizing? No, the Thanksgiving feast should celebrate God’s bounty bestowed to the carnivore, or at least to the omnivore. In this spirit, what could be better than a turkey, stuffed with a duck, stuffed with a chicken?
I thought the Daschle statement Peter referred was going to be his "what minorities in this country can expect from hard-right editorial politics" letter in yesterday’s (Wed., Nov. 20) Wall Street Journal, which concerned the Indian tribes and possible voting irregularities in South Dakota. "Firewater" indeed! Drink from the firehose of popular opinion!
Knowing a little more about food than politics, I still recoil at the thought of, if not the word, "turducken."
The latest poll shows Terrell leading Landrieu, 48% to 40%. Notice who is getting her base to support her.
As this story from the London Telegraph makes clear, the Germans have started attacking Churchill as a war criminal because he approved of the bombing of civilian populations. An article in the largest newspaper in Germany is arguing that Churchill wanted to exterminate the German civilian population; it claims that civilian deaths were not only collatoral damage, but were the purpose of the bombing.
Well, this reveals more about current German sensibilities (not that some kook wrote a kooky book, but that a major newspaper decides to serialize it) than about Churchill’s policy. Winston had a pretty good knowledge of the laws of war and the difference between civilization and barbarism. And he also knew something about modern technology and its effects (the submarine and the airplane are ones he worried about most) on modern all-out wars that were guided by ideologues and had no respect for limited (and relatively civilized) wars of the past. The area bombing was always controversial (even during the war) and even Churchill could--after viewing of an Air Ministry film of German cities burning--ask the question: "Are we beasts? Are we taking this too far?" He was conscious of the problem. See his March 28, 1945 memo to the Chiefs of Staff, for further reflection on the issue. Much can be said on this subject, and reasonable people can disagree, of course, yet it cannot be stated that the Brits or Churchill tried to exterminate the Germans. Is it possible, is it likely, that the Germans are, once again, becoming the idealists/ideologues that they have been in the past? Let us see some measured reason come from this people.
By the way, I saw on the news this morning Bush sitting with Blair at the NATO meeting holding a news conference, and the camera took in the whole man. Bush was wearing his cowboy boots! Cowboy boots in the heart of Europe! What a good man Bush is!
This is really too much. Tiring, boring, predictable. If Daschle doesnt watch himself, and continues whining, hell turn into a Democrat.
The New York Times today suggests that Illinois Governor George Ryan should commute all the prisoners on death row to life in prison. Ryan had suggested that this was an option, but recoiled when a hearing demonstrated the horrific nature of the crimes committed by these inmates. The Times suggests that he should not be moved by that, but rather by the fact that there have been mistakes--DNA has proved that some of the men on death row were innocent. What the Times does not do is say that the DNA evidence also likely proved that many of the men sitting on death row are guilty. What about these inmates? Should their sentences be commuted, even when we are certain that they committed the crimes? The New York Times seems willing to treat DNA evidence as a one way ratchet--we will point to it to get people off death row, but ignore it otherwise. Like Justice Blackmun, who voted to grant habeas in every death penalty case toward the end of his term, the New York Times is less concerned with process and more concerned with their own opposition to the death penalty. That’s fine, but the Times should not dress up its opinion in the clothing of process, when it is clear that they do not want the death penalty even when process is sufficient and guilt is undisputed.
Do we have to continue to be subjected to this guy? Gore is now criticizing Bush’s war on terror as feckless. Here are his thoughts from the New York Times:
Al Gore said today that the United States had failed to destroy Osama bin Laden and dismantle the network of Al Qaeda because President Bush spent the fall campaign "beating the drums of war against Saddam Hussein" instead of prosecuting the war on terror. . . .
As a result, Mr. Gore said, Americans are as much at risk of a terrorist attack now as they were before Sept. 11. . . .
"I think they lost focus," Mr. Gore said in remarks that served to build on a speech he delivered in September when he asserted that Mr. Bush would not be able to plan at one time for a war against Iraq while still dealing with Al Qaeda. "And I think the country is paying a price for it."
Memo to Al: it is possible to deal with both Saddam and the war on terror. In fact, the two could--I know this is a tough one--could just be interrelated. You know Al, things can be different, but the same. Saddam could be both a ruthless dictator, and a potential terrorist threat. Or to put it in terms Al can understand: a man can be both a Buddhist monk, and a campaign contributor.
George Will has a nice article today dissecting Gore’s historical revisionism regarding the 2000 election. He does a particular service in taking the wind out of the "selected, not elected" chant of the Democrats by noting that under Gore’s theory, he would have been selected by the Florida Supreme Court, who unlike the U.S. Supreme Court had ignored the requirements of the U.S. Constitution.
I wrote about this ad nauseum at the time, and have attempted to move on. But Gore can’t move on, and thus we have to continue revisiting the same facts--facts which Gore and his devotees continue to reject. This cognitive disconnect and resentment seems to be the driving force in his run in 2004--and will likely be his political undoing once again.
Scientists in Maryland are attempting to create a partially man-made new form of life: a single-celled organism with the minimum number of genes necessary to sustain life. While the scientists claim that they have removed the genes that would enable it to infect humans or to live in the hostile environment of the real world, the phrase that kept coming to mind while reading the article was "dangerous tinkering."
A woman, believed (by someone) to be dead was placed in a body bag at the DC morgue. On closer inspection, she was found to have a pulse.
Officials, in marked understatement, say that regular procedures were not followed. Gosh, I’d hope . . .
See the story here.
Im glad you asked. ERISA is the "Employee Retirement Income Security Act." It is a complex federal statute that in many places supercedes state law with regard to employee benefits programs (and not just pension plans as the title suggests). You know the questions about whether a patient can sue their HMOs? Thats an ERISA question. In other words, its an area of law that makes a conversation with Al Gore seem somehow scintillating.
Look Alt, I do food, you do politics. Its that simple. Soon, well have an Alexandrian feast. What in the world is an ERISA case?
Schramm expands his blogging horizons by writing about space and he is a theorist--nay a philosopher. I just once step beyond blogging on law and politics and Im fooling myself like Al Gore! Thats cold. From now on I guess I will have to limit myself to blogging about ERISA cases.
The NY Post reports that publishers are considering a proposal to publish Justice Clarence Thomass memoir. Despite the fact that Sandra Day OConnor published a memoir, and Chief Justice Rehnquist has published several books while on the court, look for liberals to start talking about how inappropriate it is for the Justice to profit while in office.
China recently tested a new anti-ship cruise missile with a range twice as far as U.S. estimates. The Washington Times reports that "[t]his weapon is believed by Pentagon officials to be part of Beijings efforts to develop a long-range strike capability against U.S. aircraft carriers and ships."
Byron York comments on the Shedd vote, and notes that the Democrats ability to muster 44 votes in opposition was intended to send an ominous message to Republicans--they have enough votes to filibuster a nominee any time they want.
True enough, but theory and practice are very different things on the Senate floor. You still take political heat for filibustering (i.e., you are do nothing obstructionists), which means that the Democrats are not likely to do so unless they have a candidate dead-to-rights. This returns the Senate to something more like the pre-Leahy/Schumer standard. Accordingly, if they are able to completely demonize a candidate as they did (or, more appropriately, attempted to do) with Bork, they will have the votes to filibuster, but otherwise, I think they will do what they did here: express their displeasure with a high "no" vote count. Thus, for example, Justice Owens gets through, and if they even think of filibustering Estrada, they are likley to get flogged by fellow Democrats with Hispanic constituencies.
Perhaps most interesting is the fact that Landrieu voted against the Shedd nomination. There has been a lot of back and forth on this, and her final vote suggests that she is attempting to shore up support with minority groups, which have been lukewarm to her candidacy and which opposed the Shedd confirmation.
I had a Gulf Lobster Thermidor last night, with a full bottle of Cuvee Dom Perignon, preceded by a couple of shots of cheap Jack Daniels (which I kept spilling on my rattlesnake boots). I felt I owed this to myself because I had lost the better part of the evening listening to Al Gore trying to pronounce boring and banal correctly. I was adrift in existential angst and really would have spent my time better reading Jean Paul Sartre (who I havent read since my undergraduate days and then only because of the threat of force). Now, Alt, if you think that celebrating Thanksgiving in the South (and eating Turducken) is the very essence of haut cuisine, then you and Gore should continue fooling yourselves. And that may be the connection between food and politics. Besides, I will remind you, I am married to a Southerner who considers herself a great cook. I am a graduate of a hard school and know exactly the connection between food and politics. By the way, I lied, I ate hospital food last night.
Although largely buried in the papers today, Dennis Shedd was confirmed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals last night. When Strom Thurmond stood to offer his words of support for his former staffer Dennis Shedd, the Senate gave him a standing ovation--a more fitting response for the elderly Senator than the broken promises he received from Leahy. Shedds confirmation follows that of Judge Michael McConnell, who was confirmed to the Tenth Circuit by voice vote last Friday night. What a difference an election makes.
Im spending this Thanksgiving in the warm Southern confines of Jackson, Mississippi visiting friends, which means that I will be greeted with a true southern Thanksgiving table. Yes, that means Turducken. A turkey, stuffed with a duck, stuffed again with a chicken. The New York Times explains the joys of turducken:
A well-prepared turducken is a marvelous treat, a free-form poultry terrine layered with flavorful stuffing and moistened with duck fat. When its assembled, it looks like a turkey and it roasts like a turkey, but when you go to carve it, you can slice through it like a loaf of bread. In each slice you get a little bit of everything: white meat from the breast, dark meat from the legs, duck, carrots, bits of sausage, bread, herbs, juices and chicken, too.
You see, Schramm, its not just about politics--theres food, too.
I have been trying not to watch Gore on "everything and always AlGore TV", but he is an ominpresent fact, like a head cold that will just not go away. And the timing of this latest Go AlGore campaign is timed so that those who enjoyed the GOP victory in the last election only had less than a week bathing in the warmth of victory. From now on its Gore and nothing but Gore. And this is a Gore (and his Tipper, attached lovingly to his hip) that is vivacious and funny and far left and has made his peace with reality (and he is being praised for this?). Michael Kelly reflects on all this in a lovely piece in todays WaPo. As far as I can tell, he nails Gores essence, or, at least its latest manifestation. Note especially Kellys emphasis on Gores newly re-defined family values, and what this foreshadows. His first line is perfect: "A terrible banality is born. Again."
Building on the previous entry about Kerry, the opposition angst that he demonstrates in that column is in full view with Senator Landrieu. On Meet the Press this weekend, she tried to paint Terrell as being in lock-step with the policies of the President, while she was an independent who would stand up for Louisiana when the President is wrong. But unless I missed it, she never offered such an example. Best as I can tell, the strategy is to suggest that shes an opposition candidate to appease Democrats, but demonstrate that you shes with the President to appease Republicans and moderates. Well see if you can fool all of the people all of the time.
This is a story from The Times of India on the microwave bomb. There is also a note about the thermobaric bomb. Short and clear.
Howard Kurtz suggests that Senator Kerry of Massachusetts may well emerge as the Democratic frontrunner in the medias review of the Democratic candidates which he likens to the forthcoming ABC reality show "Are You Hot?" Gotta give Kurtz points for honesty. Kurtz notes that Kerrys has a number of assets: hes a Vietnam hero, hes got experience as a Senator and in the foreign policy arena, hes got a wealthy wife, and hes got "good hair." But these may not help him with what even Kurtz recognizes to be his big drawbacks: hes a liberal from Massachusetts. Bush v. Dukakis, part II. The article is worth a read because it shows the angst in the Democratic party: Kerry talks about opposing the President, but then doesnt do it on the war vote (despite the fact that he voted against the Gulf War in 1991).
Tony Blankley offers a nice short course on how to read Woodwards new book on the war (parts have been excerpted in the WaPo). He explains Woodwards method and why the book, in the end, is not woth reading, regardless of the hype it has been given; the most interesting parts have already been serialized, and it is clear that George Tenet and Sect of State Powell are the heroes (Rummy and Cheney wouldnt talk to him).
Singer/Actress/Director/Activist/Spelling-Bee-Champ/Geographer/Oil Magnate/Shakespearean-Scholar/Face-of-the-New-Pelosi-Led-Democractic-Party Barbra Streisand offers her thoughts on the November 5 election in a blog entitled ". . . A Sad Time." Babs--or more likely her conventional-wisdom spouting ghost writer, muses that
The Democrats who stood up to the president and showed strong opposition leadership were the ones that won on Tuesday. Hopefully, by 2004, the party - and the people - will get the message.
Many thanks to The Volokh Conspiracy, which brought this little gem to my attention. It seems there is actually a use for the French and existential philosophy after all:
Efforts to root out the remaining Taliban and Al Qaida forces in Afghanistan heated up yesterday when the Allies revealed plans to airdrop a platoon of crack French existentialist philosophers into the country to destroy the morale of Muslim zealots by proving the nonexistence of God.
Elements from the feared Jean-Paul Sartre Brigade, or Black Berets will be parachuted into the combat zones to spread doubt, despondency and existential anomie among the enemy.
Hardened by numerous intellectual battles fought during their long occupation of Pariss Left Bank, their first action will be to establish a number of pavement Cafés at strategic points near the front lines.
The whole article, which is very funny, is here.
Today is the 139th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, not only the shortest speech ever given, but arguably the best. Do yourself a favor: read it aloud and let the Anglo-Saxon rhythms reveal themselves to your ears.
The Sixth Circuit refused to grant a stay pending appeal for four schools in Ohio which display the Ten Commandments as part of a "Foundations of American Law and Government" display. The decision can be found here.
Also, Howard Bashmans How Appealing blog links to pictures of the religious and secular displays (which includes a depiction of Moses receiving the decalogue) in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court courtroom, which was mentioned in the Alabama Ten Commandments decision.
What happens when you throw a filibuster and nobody shows? Just ask Senator Leahy, who had intended to to filibuster Judge Shedd’s appointment to the Fourth Circuit on Friday. The only problem is that none of his obstructionist pals showed. No Dick Durbin, who was the only Senator to vote against Judge McConnell’s confirmation to the Tenth Circuit. No Chuck Schumer. No Dianne Feinstein. Byron York offers some insight as to why the filibuster didn’t happen, including fears that it would hurt Landrieu’s campaign. But for the real answer we need look no further than the leader of the charge--Ted Kennedy. Even he realized that successfully filibustering Shedd was a bridge too far, and this is coming from a man who knows a thing or two about bridges--political and otherwise.
A Federal District court in Alabama ruled that Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s 5,300 pound granite display of the Ten Commandments violates the Constitution’s Establishment Clause. Justice Moore has pledged to appeal, but he may run into trouble for failing what has variously been called either the Frosty the Snowman or the Rudolph test.
Under a series of constitutionally bizarre Supreme Court rulings, religious displays including nativity scenes are generally permissible so long there are other non-religious articles--like Frosty, or Rudolph, or a robot present. Justice Moore has seemingly argued his way out of the rudolph exception by denying the requests of Civil Rights groups to put up a copy of MLK’s "I Have A Dream" speech, and atheists’ requests to display a tribute to the atom--an idea the atheists no doubt stole from the Simpson’s tribute to the inanimate carbon rod. The U.S. Supreme Court has previously struck down the display of the Ten Commandments at public schools, but has not ruled on them in courthouses. Should the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately take the case, they would hear it sitting beneath Moses and the Ten Commandments (you can see the carving on a virtual tour here [ Free Quicktime viewer required), and in front of the public doors to the courtroom, which likewise have the tablets carved in them. The New York Times story (which includes a picture of the display) is here, and the court’s decision is here.
Following up on the Busch hypothesis, E.J. Dionne argues in todays WaPo that just as Democrats were dumb to underestimate Bush, the Republicans would be dumb to underestimate Pelosi. In particular, Dionne argues that Pelosi experience as a mother of 5 will appeal to white suburban couples with children, a group which has increasingly distanced itself from the Dem Party. Given her liberalism, she will also motivate the base. Dionnes comments when viewed with Buschs suggest a trend in the conventional wisdom--one which should not be ignored.
The New York Times reports that a special federal appeals court overturned a previous decision which limited the ability of prosecutors to utilize wiretaps obtained for intelligence purposes to actually prosecute the terrorist. The decision is described as sweeping, in so far as it dismisses the widely held legal belief that this division between intelligence wiretaps and criminal prosecutions was somehow legislatively sanctioned. The lead editorial in the Times calls for the Supreme Court to overturn the decision and for Congress to re-write the statute, in order to prevent this broader intelligence gathering power from being used to infringe upon civil liberties.
Andy Busch is right to warn not to underestimate Nancy Pelosi. (We should expect this from the author of such a fine book on Reagan--plug, plug.) She is likely to get a pass much of the time from the media (especially the Judy Woodruff’s of the world), and Republicans will make a mistake just to call her a San Francisco liberal without making more serious arguments about the issues. If nothing else, now that she is the leader she will probably boost her already prodigious fundraising to a new level, making it easier for the party to dump the egregious McAuliffe.
Among the gems in the Washington Post magazine feature on Al Gore last weekend was this little detail:
"Theres an aromatherapy candle on a coffee table near him, its flicker lonely and small in the still-chilly, mostly uncarpeted house. . ."
But wait! Theres more!
"As Gore talks, he periodically lets out the controlled exhale that yoga practicioners and women in labor know as the cleansing breath, a means of slowing down and staying calm"
Maybe hes just practicing his heavy-sigh act for a debate rematch with Bush.
Other punch lines welcome.
Bruce Sanborn reflects on anger in politics, no, not the Illiad, but rather on Garrison Keillors wrath. A funny and thoughtful piece on a comics anger.
Andy Busch writes a warning to those (of us) who are excited by the fact that Pelosi is heading the Demos in the House: she is a liberal and will move the party to left (and it looks like Gore is going to help her) and that will be good for the GOP. Not so fast, says Busch. He thinks that it is possible that she will begin to set up the kind of majority that Gingrich established and for similar reasons: she will practice the politics of conviction and will go for the GOP’s jugular. This could not only help her re-organize the base of the party but could have the strategic effect of building a Democratic majority that is more than fleeting. He explains what the GOP will need to do if she proceeds with this plan: they will have to start making serious arguments, they will have to be more coherent and "it will require the consistent public articulation of an argument that is better." The implication is that the GOP will have to become better than they have been. Very thoughtful, very good read.
I saw the encounter between Mary Landrieu and Suzanne Haik Terrell on Meet the Press yesterday. I was not impressed by Landrieu. She is overly aggressive, too talkative. Her only message was that she will be an independent voice. And she made a big point of saying (many times) now that the GOP has control of the Senate she should be elected so she can be an independent voice. The GOP doesn’t really need the LA seat to have the majority in the Senate, so therefore she should be elected. Besides, she just loves everything George Bush does, etc. You get the picture; a lot of empty rhetoric and a lot of skating around on the issues. Landrieu spoke an infinite deal of nothing. Terrell was refreshing by comparison. Intelligent and articulate, honest, but not a talk hog. I liked her. I bet I know something about what kind of women Lousiana voters like. Terrell will win. The governor decided to endorse her after he saw the debate. Here is the story on the debate from The Times-Picayune and Governor Foster’s endorsement.
Amazon is offering (the first?) the Segway Human Transporter for $4,950. You can be the first (as they say) on your block to own one. Delivery will be in March of 2003. Is this what we have to look forward to in our old age? Instead of cruising around on a motorcycle am I going to buzzing around town on one of these things? God, I hope not.
The New York Times has an editorial raising questions about the "Total Information Awareness" project. While this is often mentioned in the same breath as the Homeland Security Bill (it should be noted that the Times does not do this), as best as I can tell the TIA is already in existence, and is not dependent on the passage of the Homeland Security Bill. Even so, the TIA’s proposal to create dossiers on average Americans without reasonable suspicion, let alone probable cause, is enough to raise concerns.
This sort of data collection is just an extension of the "know your customer" provisions, which commandeer banks to reveal information about "suspicious activity" by customers. The controversial know your customer provision was expanded in the U.S.A. Patriot Act to include broker-dealers, presumably based upon information that the terrorists appear to have purchased a large number of "puts" (that is, they went short) on United and American Airlines before the September 11 bombing, in an attempt to profit from the predictable crash in the stock after the terrorism.
Americans have an admirable skepticism toward the collection of information about their activities by government agencies, or by anyone else for that matter. My sense is that an unrestricted ability on the part of the government to collect data will incense the population--even in these extraordinary times.
The New York Times reports that authorities are investigating whether a string of recent acts of vandalism--including slashing SUV tires and damaging windows on cars and fast food restaurants--may be the result of Earth Liberation Front, a group recognized by the FBI as a domestic terrorism organization. The group claims to lack a centralized command, but confirmed for the Times via email that it has cells active throughout the United States, and that this activity may be caused by an active cell. Charming.
Homeland Security is likely to pass this week, and while they have a lot of other, more dangerous priorities, ELF may deserve some attention in the near future. The group has done more than $50 million in damage in the U.S., often resorting to arson. Of course, they are not always that bright. The Times reports that they have freed minks only to have them run over by cars, or sprayed them with paint (to make their fur useless), only to kill them from exposure.
This is an article from the London Times that considers the latest arrests there of terrorists said to be interested in gassing the underground. It is well written and even instructive on how the likes of MI5 is handling things. But it is also amusing, in that dry-English-kind-of-way.
The Washington Post today continues its lament about how the plaintiffs in the McCain-Feingold litigation are thwarting the publics right-to-know by redacting information which they deem confidential under a joint protection order. How unconscionable! Yet somehow the Post fails to recognize who started the game of hide the information: the reformers. Yes, it was McCains office that first exercised privilege to prevent the release of potentially sensitive information--information which would have shown the kind of access that lobbyists, including so-called reform lobbyists had to the Senator.
It is an odd position the Post takes: compel speech they favor; prohibit speech they disfavor. So much for free speech.
As you know (although the media doesn’t publicize it much) there have been huge student demonstrations in Iran for over a week. The supreme leader has said that he will review the death sentence of a dissident academic. Joining those demonstrations has been a grandson of the Ayatollah Khomeni, by the way. (We may lose a man, but we always end up getting their children or grandchildren; remember Stalin’s daughter?). It is the opinion of many serious people that these demonstrations are just another example of the crisis situation the regime finds itself in. Indeed, Micahel Ledeen thinks it is time to liberate Iran, now.
This program summary is from the Brookings Institute (Im on an email list for them). The tone of self importance is, well, obnoxious. The "cadre of master executives" business sounds like a weird amalgam of biz school and a George Lucas film. I wonder who funds this stuff?
E X E C U T I V E E D U C A T I O N
Mastering the Art of Public Leadership
March 2003; Washington, DC
A new ten-month leadership development program that will build a cadre
of master executives who will have the knowledge, wisdom and skill to
transform public policy into compelling results for the American people.
Mark Steyn explains why there is no longer a gender gap, or, even better, why whether or not Pelosi is a woman doesnt matter. Or, yet best of all, he admits to media bias in all matters political, and thinks its in the interest of the good guys and hopes that the likes of Judy Woodruff and Jonathan Karl keep up their bias. Besides, it turns out that old women (OK, elderly ladies) vote Democratic, while the young are for the GOP. He finds all this worthy of ridicule, and he is right, as usual. An amusing read.
The BBC reports that President Hugo Chavez has taken control of the Caracas police from the Mayor (who is anti-Chavez), by military force. This is just going to get worse.
The London Guardian reports that a senior Iraqi (known as "Chemical Ali" to the Kurds) has visited a number of countries (including Algeria, Tunisia, and Lybia) trying to find out whether any one of them would be willing to take in the Iraqi leadership. None of this can be confirmed, of course, yet it is interesting. It could also be an attempt on the USs part to undermine morale within the Iraqi regime.
Until now North Korea has only acknowledged to having a program to produce highly enriched Uranium, but now it has admitted to having nuclear weapons, according to the BBC.
This is from the current issue of The Economist and although I am not sure what brought it on it claims that the French are not only having political and economic problems, but are in the middle of a self-esteem crisis. Given the little I know about the French, this does not surprise me. But note the military cooperation the US is getting from the French on the Island of Djibouti, France’s largest overseas base. And note this equally pessimistic article about Germany. Schroeder’s government is off to a terrible start, and his support has taken a nosedive since his re-election. Robert Samuelson thinks that the German economy is in such bad shape that he calls Germany "the sick man of Europe;" that appelation used to be reserved for Turkey. Maybe such matters are worth considering when Dubya finds himself in the middle of Europe next week. It is being reported that he will not have a private meeting with Schroeder .
A terrorist attempted to take over an El Al flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul He had a knife. He was subdued by two security guards on board. The bad news is that a man (an Israeli Arab) was able to get on an El Al flight with a knife. El Al is supposed to be the safest airline on the planet.
Even the New York Times cant hide the fact that the Democratic Party is in dissaray. Notice the comment of one Demo operative: "We dont have the farm team that we had 10 or 20 years ago." And that will mean a long term problem, not just 2004.
This Roll Call article considers the 49 new members of Congress who won their seats by less than 55% of the vote . These are the only competitive House districts and this is likely to be true in the 2004 elections as well. Another reason why the Demos are not going to take the House back in 2004.
I guess the Mongols are the good guys in this one. Tumultuous biker wars shall kin with kin, and kind with kind, confound.
This is a very clear piece by a physics professor at Berkeley on some of the new technological devices that will come into play if there is a war in Iraq. It appears in an MIT publication.
This is an Andrew Sullivan piece in Salon on how the left is using/abusing the popularity of the movie "8 Mile" for political purposes. Thoughtful.
The Washington Times carries a newstory today about the privacy provisions in the Homeland Security Act. And here is the William Safire column of a few days ago that has caused such a ruckus. He thinks tyranny is at the door. Yet, I don’t understand what this Poindexter project ("Information Awareness Project") has to do with the Homeland Security bill. Here is the text from the White House . I may be missing something but I don’t see anything to be overly concerned about. Correct me if I am wrong.
Here is Karen Tumulty’s piece in Time magazine on what Gore is up to. This is one of the many pieces in print and on TV that you will be seeing about Gore. He has made a strategic decision to be the topic of conversation for the next many months before he declares his candidacy. It is clear to me that he is campaigning already, and that he is acting and talking according to a pre-conceived plan established before the election debacle. And it is also clear that he is going to be on the attack from now on. He means to make clear where he stands, and he will not want any ambiguity about it. He wants to present a clear alternative to Bush and the GOP. He wants to give direction to the Democratic Party, and will not want Pelosi to get in his way. Indeed, he is forcing her to jump on his bandwagon as early as possible. He wants to make sure there will not be any other Demo candidate to his left. The fact that his poll numbers are so low is entirely to his advantage; they can only go up. (See this LA Times poll from today which claims that only about a third of the Democratic insiders want Gore to run again). This strategy may assure him the nomination of the Democratic Party, yet it will also surely assure him a defeat in the general election. Among other things, Gore calls Bush’s foreign policy "horrible," his environmental stance "immoral," and his economic policy "catastrophic." At one point in the interview he makes the amazing claim that our foreign policy is now "based on an openly proclaimed intention to dominate the world." I believe that this bold calculation to move to the left and to craft a new unabashedly liberal Democratic Party will serve him well. If he keeps it up--which I believe he will--he will act like a magnet to the various left/liberal parts of the Demo Party and will end up shaping the party for years to come. He is right, this maneuvre will be clarifying. So much for the possibility of moderating the Democratic Party. Maybe Pelosi should become his running mate. The Democratic Leadership Council is now dead. Unless, of couse, Hillary revivifies it after 2004, at which time--after the massive Gore defeat--she will pretend to move the party back toward the center and become the moderate Democratic candidate in 2008. Isn’t politics fun?
This is Ann Coulters amusing (?) piece of advice to the Democratic Party and what directions they may profitably take.
George Will considers the governor-elect of Michigan (D) and the chatter she has caused (because she is an unabashed liberal and very attractive) because she should be (because of the above two points) a natural candidate to be on the Demo ticket for 2004. Trouble is, she was born in Canada. Folks are now beginning to talk about changing this provision of the Constitution (Art II, Sect 1) and Will, although concluding that it shouldn’t, seems a bit ambivalent about it. Well, I am not ambivalent: the foreign born (of non-US parents) should not be allowed to become president. I am betting that this will become an issue during the next year. I’ll pay attention.
This BBC story claims that Iraqi scientists infiltrated UK germ labs just before the Gulf War (thanks to Miss Lopez at The Corner).
David Broder writes an interesting article in today’s Washington Post, in which he suggests that the November 5 victories track the Bush-Rove political strategy in Texas. That strategy led to Republican political dominance in the state through get-out-the-vote efforts and a return to straight-ticket Republican voting. Broder suggests that the November election may prove to be this strategy on a larger scale. Worth a read.
This is a hilarious piece from The Onion on why scientific socialism doesnt work.
John J. Miller writes in the NY Times that it was the Libertarian vote (more than 3,000) that cost Thune the Senate seat in South Dakota; Thune lost the seat by 524 votes. This marks the third consecutive election in which the libertarian has cost the GOP a Senate seat. He also points out that it was the Green candidate who allowed Bush to win Florida (Nader took 97,000 votes from Gore); Bush won the state by 537 votes. Worth contemplating, this.
I have always loved Peggy Noonan. She is a fine writer and was a great speech writer for President Reagan. For many years I used her first book, What I Saw at the Revolution in classes to introduce students to the high-mindedness of politics. Thank God she has continued to write. And now she has this great piece on smokers and how they are being treated. It is especially good on the politically correct/puritanical tendencies of liberals. But it is also good on describing a smokers reasonable attitude toward life, explaining why smokers are essentially conservative, why they arent moderns. You should read this, even if you dont smoke. It is a classic.
This is a wonderfully clear article by Tom Krannawitter on not only why Davis was re-elected in California but--more important--why California is constitutionally progressive/liberal and therefore dangerous in its politics. It is very clear on how the progressive/liberal idea, as it has worked itself out in or most populous state, encourages the growth of government and discourages the responsible work of political parties.
Michael Kelly claims that the Democarts are in denial (I agree) and what dangers they place themselves in. And Charles Krauthammer writes (as a former psychiatrist) that logic and empirical evidence have no therapeutic effect on what liberals believe (I agree): they continue to disengage from reality. If you are still in doubt that this might be true note Al Gore’s endorsement of the Canadian health care system. Here is David Frum’s column on that. And if you made it through all of the above, then read this Washington Post Sunday Magazine profile of Al Gore: what he thought about during the last two years, how he has turned inward (has he found anything?), how he hasn’t analyzed why he lost, how he hasn’t talked with his former campaign manager more than a few times during this time, how he doesn’t have a life without politics, and therefore how he really has no choice but to run, unless he starts taking Thorazine. He can try to hide it, but the fact is that he doesn’t think there is life after politics. He is entirely a political man. He is unhappy unless he "serves." He is a liberal. He is also thinking about Hillary as a running mate.
The latest word on the Hill is that the Homeland Security bill will pass next week, and the Senate is likely to recess on Wednesday until early January. It looks like the previously mentioned Democratic hopes of thwarting the Homeland Security Bill were not supported by sufficient votes.
Nicholas Kristoff writes an op-ed in the NY Times in which he contemplates his own navel by 1) praising the Israelis (19 years later) for having taken out Osirak and 2) then critizes Bush for wanting to finish the job and then 3) decides that if pre-emption is sometimes justified then it follows that he ought to take out Pakistan. The man is quite dense, no understanding of practical wisdom, of prudence. I guess he uses his columns for psychotherapy, but no deep thinking.
Just based on this report on his book tour, it is increasingly obvious that Gore has turned left . He still complains about the Florida vote and the Supremes decision (Tipper claims Al won) and is now suggesting that medicine be socialized. Call me naive, but I am still surprised by his whining schoolboy attitude. I keep thinking he can do better, he can be better. I have always overestimated him. No more.
The History News Network was formed a couple of years ago by a group of historians (including, among others, Joyce Appleby of UCLA and Pauline Maier of MIT) concerned that journalists were far more likely to consult economists and political scientists than historians (here’s an idea--try writing better and more accessible books). Their website frequently gives excellent insights into the mind-set of the early 21st century American academic.
A case in point is this little gem, about a historian at St. Xavier University who responded to a respectful e-mail from a cadet at the Air Force Academy by denouncing the young man as a "baby-killer" and a "coward." He has since apologized.
A well-placed hill source informed me that the Democrats, while conceding on judges to help Mary Landrieu in her Louisiana runoff, are seeking to prevent the passage of the Homeland Security bill in its current form. This would be consistent with the new "confrontation" party stance, and would also likely be a huge political mistake.
The Federalist Society celebrated its 20th anniversary last night in DC. The speakers included the sort of legal luminaries that have shaped American jurisprudence like Judge Bork and Justice Scalia, as well as current administration officials such as Attorney General Ashcroft, Solicitor General Ted Olsen (who stole the show), Secretary of Interior Gail Norton, and Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham. This lineup was impressive, but what is truly impressive is the impact that the Federalist Society has had in changing discourse at American law schools. While American law schools are still largely bastions of the left, through the auspices of the Federalist Society, real debate on legal issues occurs on these campuses. And when I say debate, it is no longer limited to just different perspectives on how great Justice Brennan’s decision was in a given case. For this I owe the Federalist a debt of gratitude. Happy 20th anniversary.
A rare first edition of Isaac Newtons Principia was stolen from a St. Petersburg library.
This is a brief story out of England. It speaks for itself. Kind of macabre way to end the day.
I find it remarkable that a week after a huge electoral loss that, at least in part, was due to the Democrats inability to speak clearly on terrorism, Daschle would criticize the President (and American policy) as he does. "We cant find bin Laden, we havent made real progress," says Dashcle. This is very foolish. Of course, our anti-terrorism policy may be rightly criticized, I understand that. Yet, to say that we havent moved off the same base we were on a year and a half ago because we havent caught bin Laden is silly. Can this be attributed to miscalculation? Not after the election. It is simply misjudgement. And it amazes me.
The Democrats have elected Nancy Pelosi their leader. Although I am open to the argument that this really isnt that important because, after all, there will soon be a Democratic nominee for president who will define the party, I think it is important. There is a much better chance that the reverse will happen; Pelosi will define what the party and the Democratic nominee will be like, what they should believe and stand for. If I am right, her tenure will go a long way toward marginelizing the Democratic Party. It will soon consist of nothing but groups only united by their interests and passions in promoting their very specific and narrow agendas. And it will place such limits on any potential presidential nominee. Furthermore, I think that is what she is interested in doing. This means that life for the Republicans will be easier than it should be if there were a real opposition party with principles and guts. Too bad. The GOP would be better if there were serious contenders. If I am right (well see in two or so years), than any real opposition to regnant GOP opinions and policies will come from within the GOP. All of this implies that the Democratic Party is dead.
The Senate Judiciary Committee favorably reported 10th Circuit nominee Michael McConnell and 4th Circuit nominee Dennis Shedd to the Senate floor today by a voice vote. That brings the total number of nominees who have been cleared by committee but who still await full Senate votes to 17 District Court nominees, and 3 Circuit Court nominees. There are currently 79 vacancies in the federal courts.
Since Barbara Walters thought it was worth gushing over Gores current home in The Note, I thought I would stay the night and offer this blog from Gores childhood home. No, Im not in the farm in Carthage, Tennessee where Gore claims to have grown up in his 1988 campaign ads; Im in his real childhood home: The Fairfax Hotel on exclusive Embassy Row in D.C. (now the Westin Fairfax). Only four stars--must have been a rough childhood. If I start writing nonsense about trees having the right to sue, then you know there is something in the water.
Slate’s Timothy Noah examines what John Judis and Ruy Teixeira refer to as the "ideopolis," and tries to explain why they vote Democratic. It is worth a read, but deserves some scrutiny as well.
Noah describes an "ideopolis" as a "metropolitan region with a nerdy postindustrial economy." In other words, these are the tech centers that have grown up in Silicon Valley, Massachusetts I-128 corridor, and North Carolina’s research triangle. In addition to these classic tech areas, Judis and co. include Madison, WI, Nashville, TN, & Portland, OR. For Judis & Teixeira (J & T), the surprise is that working class whites tend to vote Democratic in these areas, joining the otherwise solid latte drinking computer executives and ethnic minorities. Their explanation is that these areas are not as class driven, and thus according to Noah’s recapitulation of J & T, "Republican appeals based on bigotry, resentment, love of guns, and hatred of abortion ’have largely fallen on deaf ears.’" Very mature. I suppose I could with equal fairness say that Democratic anti-semitism (Cynthia McKinney, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan) also does not seem to sway these voters.
Noah to his credit does not think that the class argument is sufficient. He suggests that the presence of universities is behind the voting patterns. He argues that because universities, and therefore surrounding communities, are heavily dependent on government funds, they both have an economic incentive and can see the wonders that government spending can actually do.
This is true to a point. Yes, people do tend to vote with the pocketbooks (remember "it’s the economy, stupid?"), and in communities that are dependent on large research universities, this means that many people vote based on who is promising more government funding. After all, trickle-down tax theory has always been tough to explain--naked subsidies aren’t. But this neglects the other impact of college towns. Generally speaking, university students tend to be more liberal. Whether you subscribe to
the rebellion theory or to the "you’re more socially conscious when you are
young" theory, or the "minds shaped by 60s liberals who overtook the academy theory," the average college student was more likely to vote for Nader or Gore than for Bush--if they bothered to vote. They don’t tend to vote heavily in their
college towns, but they do tend toward activism, including get-out-the-vote
activity which impacts the surrounding communities.
But the college explanation only works so far. Yes, Madison is very much a college town, and that tends to help explain the situation there. Nashville likewise has a strong college presence, but it is not as pervasive in the local conscience. But it is difficult to say that Stanford and Berkeley is really behind the voting patterns in Silicon Valley. And blaming Harvard for the I-128 corridor would seem to underestimate that this is Massachusetts. What then is the explanation?
First, you need to look at voting patterns before the new economy. Interestingly enough, only North Carolina, best as I can tell without actually looking at specific voting districts, was solidly Republican prior to the influx of new economy jobs.
Not to dash the hopes of those who would create broad new theories, but the answers seem more location specific. Thus, Madison has always been liberal--best as I can tell the biggest concern is the legalization of marijuana for non-medical purposes. Silicon Valley is heavily motivated by San Francisco politics. The new economy types tend to be socially liberal, both in terms of abortion policy and social planning. It is this rebellion against social conservative policies that probably explains Silicon Valley’s connection to the D party more than their desire to be taxed at a higher marginal rate. Portland, Oregon views itself as more a frontier city to this day. They pride themselves on being independent. While heavily dependent on the
timber industry, the city dwellers are probably among the most environmentally sensitive voters, spending oodles of money for social planning to avoid sprawl. They are socially liberal--consistent with
the frontier mentality. For Portlanders, Government shouldn’t touch their bodies--whether it is in prohibiting drugs, or abortion, or assisted suicide. Nashville, Tennessee is an area where Southern Democrats and unions converge. You
have a lot of old economy workers. You have a lot of folks who were
lifelong Ds, who are middle class white, who for associational reasons
don’t change their party affiliation, even if they are swing voters or closet Republicans. You still have some fairly strong union influence
in the state, which is still among the strongest of the D supporters. That
said, many register D but crossover and vote R (look at the 2000 election).
J & T’s "class" model fails to take into account that class is still a major issue in many of these areas. In Tennessee, the clash is between old and new money, as well as between the rich and poor. In Silicon Valley, there were class differences during the boom among the worker drones and the executives. While these differences may not fit quite as neatly into the rich/poor dichotomy because both would be considered rich by J & T, the differences nonetheless are there.
Noah’s model therefore is more accurate, but it, like J & T’s theory, fails to take into account the historical and local issues that shape voting behavior. It seems that all politics is local, and that is why Michael Barone’s detailed analysis of local constituencies is still a better guide to voting trends than a theory which appears to be contrived to support the theory of a "Coming Democratic Majority" which has yet to and may not arrive.
Professor Michael McConnell and Dennis Shedd are scheduled for markup before the Judiciary Commmittee today concerning their nominations respectively to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and may well be voted out of committee today. While advocacy groups continue to oppose Bush nominees--I have received action alerts from both Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women opposing their confirmation--the Democrats are going to have a hard time blocking these qualified lawyers. McConnell in particular comes to the Judiciary Committee with the backing of liberal law professors Cass Sunstein and Larry Tribe. He previously served as law clerk to two of the most liberal judges of the last century: Judge Skelly Wright and Justice Brennan. With this kind of bi-partisan experience and support, the Democrats only hope for success was to deny him a vote, which is what they did until the election. But the obstruction now has to end with the change in power. There are those, including the New York Times, which have called for Senators to fillibuster. This is easier said than done, particularly when the candidates are as well-qualified as the current round of nominees. With any luck, today’s hearings will signal a significant shift from the Leahy/Schumer/Neas policy of obstruction which has dominated the Judiciary Committee for the past year.
Like many political junkies, I subscribe to "The Note" by ABC. It is a daily email that provides summaries of news and some analysis, and is generally somewhat useful. For the last two days, however, it has been a chronicle of travels with Al. First yesterday, after a lengthy hiatus, The Note returned with an interview with Barbara Walters about her interview with Gore. It proved a very basic point: the only thing more boring than an interview with Gore, is an interview with someone about interviewing Gore. For paragraphs, we got to listen to Walters gush about Gore and how lovely his Tennessee home is and how funny Gore is. Gore funny? Gore, actually in Tennessee (did I mention that he lost Tennessee in the election)? It was too much to fathom, let alone to bear.
Then today the The Note droned on about the fact that Gore has come out in favor of a single-payer health care system, a la Canada’s socialized health care plan. While I predicted to friends privately on election night that Democrats would bring back a universal health care proposal, the bigger question is: with Congress returning to session today, why on earth is The Note leading with policy statements by a former presidential candidate? I know that they are trying to boost interest in Walter’s interview with Gore, but I don’t think that stories about Gore’s stance on single-payer health care is going to do it.
The Washington Post gives a dispatch from the land of obvious today: "[Democratic]Party Set to Take Left Turn." Dont they read this blog? Mirroring comments made here yesterday, the Post muses:
But most troubling to some in the centrist movement, the incoming House Democratic leadership is deeply rooted in the liberal hotbeds of the two coasts. This could spell trouble for Democrats in the years ahead. If the party moves too far left, political observers say, it could alienate swing voters and complicate its efforts to win back the presidency and control of Congress in 2004.
I couldnt agree more.
Here is the new Quinnipac Poll showing that Gore is in the lead among Democrats for the nomination, but that Bush is a double digit winner in any hypothetical race.
Here is the amazing--childish, stupid, thoughtless, raving--letter from Iraq to the UN apparently accepting the terms of the UN resolution. This letter should be required reading in Freshmen composition courses on how not to write. I am betting that what it really means is that they are not going to go along with this, by the way.
This is a brief, but sound, overview by John Fund, of why polling is imperfect, and why it is in the grips of change.
This is a great George Will column on what the Pelosi leadership of the Demos (the party of condescension) in the House will mean for them.
Sooner or later, someone had to mention party realignment. After losing one election, it is premature to talk about realignment, but after two, a party generally begins to make corrections. These corrections will generally go one of two ways: toward the party base (generally the harder left or harder right respectively) or toward the political center.
The last Democratic realignment occurred with Clinton. After embarassing losses in 80, 84, and 88, the Democratic party was ready for a shift, and this time to the center. By taking the stance of being tough on crime (remember Clinton rushing back to Arkansas to preside over the execution of the mentally retarded inmate) and by later triangulating Republican economic policy on balanced budgets and welfare, Clinton was able to deliver the party. It is for this reason that Clinton still remains popular: he is the Moses who took the Democrats out of 12 years in the desert and into the promised land.
But Clinton’s successor did not share his vision. While distancing himself from Clinton’s personal problems, he also distanced himself from the centrist politics which had led to previous Democratic success. Instead, Gore opted for the populism of the Mondale era, and achieved Mondale-like results (in fairness, Mondale did carry his own state in 84).
Following this loss, the Democrats in this election were at sea without a rudder. They wanted to run a campaign in opposition, but they realized the opposition positions were losers. Thus, they criticized the President’s economic plan, but refused to say that they would reverse it and raise taxes. They questioned his foreign policy, but recoiled from criticizing him on Iraq after Kirk’s precipitous 6-point drop in the polls for doing just that.
In the wake of this debacle, the party has been forced to decide what went wrong, and which way the correction should be: toward the center, or toward the left. With the ascendancy of Nancy Pelosi, the party’s answer seems clear: toward the left.
Now I could go on at this point about how this will lead to future losses, but the more interesting feature is how this impacts the next two Presidential elections. The Democratic nominee will likely be liberal in 2004 based on the shift in the party. Senator Kerry from Massachusetts seems to have anticipated this, and therefore made it clear over the weekend that he will soon officially begin his candidacy. But there is a clearer candidate: Hillary. Remember, the only Democrats who faired well in the recent elections were Bill and Hillary, who were received like rock stars at Democratic events. They were the ones who excited the crowds and got donors to part with their money.
Conventional wisdom had suggested that Hillary would run in 08. But the realignment may change that. If another liberal runs and loses in 04, then her chance may be gone for 08, given the probability that the party’s pendulum would again swing back toward the center. Still more important, given recent losses, is the fact that the Democratic party is going to look for a clear winner in 04: someone who can win in the primaries and weed out the gang of 20 candidates who seem destined to run. Gore is no longer able to scare off competition--it now seems unlikely that he will be able to keep his own running mate from running against him--but Hillary could.
Thus it now seems clear that the party has charted its leftward course, and that course may well place Hillary in the position to be a presidential contender sooner than most think.
This is a very fine (and funny!) piece by Bruce Sanborn on what has happened in Minnesota. He beats up on everyone who merits it, from Garrison Keillor to Walter Mondale. Great read.
There have been serious demonstrations in Iran over the last few days, and these demonstrations have not been widely reported. Here is an article from the NY Times. But especially note this NR columns from Michael Ledeen. This is getting more serious and worth watching. There is a fair chance that the place could fall apart (and there is a relationship between what happens in Iraq and Iran, I remind you.)
This is a perfectly revealing piece by Joe Klein (from Slate) that means to give advice (friendly) to the Democrats from a friend. Notice how Klein works through it point by point, and especially note that he suggests that Demos revel in their "complexity" (read, miniature politics). I almost feel sorry for these guys. Theyre in a box. They should start from scratch, but they will not be able to; that would call for a new party.
Here is another example of an op-ed (from Denver) trying to make the case that Hart is a viable candidate . He is a man with new ideas. I know, I know, he was a man of new ideas when Mondale beat him for the nomination in 1984, but after all, now that Mondale is finally out of the picture, it may be Harts time. I am telling you that this is not monkey business. Harts launching pad is his work on the 1999 Commission on National Security. Pay attention.
To respond to Peter, something is up. There is a very real sense among Black voters that they have been neglected by the Democratic party. The question I have heard among Black voters directed toward the Democratic party is roughly "what have you done for me lately?" One strategist I spoke with mentioned that Black voters are aware and are motivated by the fact that Blacks have done better under Bush than they did under Clinton. For all the rhetoric of the Clinton administration, there was not a Black Secretary of State or a Black National Security Advisor. Combine this with Republican candidates in this last election who were difficult to villify, and you get low Black voter turnout in key states.
The more interesting question is what this means for the future of the Democratic party. As I have mentioned previously, I think the party is going to lunge leftward, and they will make a hard appeal to what they view as the minority base of the party.
But how will they do this? One likely move will be to place Black politicians in more powerful positions. In this regard, Fords bid for Minority Leader now--even if predetermined to be unsuccessful--is strategically a good one. He has cast himself on the national stage, and he is poised to benefit from a party that will be hungry for able and ambitious Black leaders. He has also done his best to cleanse himself of any affiliation with the extreme Cynthia McKinney elements of the Black Caucus--showing that there is room for moderate Blacks in the Democratic party. This will go far in appealing to suburban White voters, with whom the rhetoric of the Sharptons and the McKinneys simply does not resonate.
The second area where the Democrats will attempt to make inroads with minority voters is somewhat speculative, but here it is. The Supreme Court has been asked to hear the University of Michigan affirmative action case this year. After having side-stepped a similar case from Texas six years ago, it seems relatively clear that they will take this one. In so doing, it is likely that the Court will issue a decision at least partially undermining a basic nostrum of left-wing ideology: that diversity is a good in itself which deserves the highest legal protection. If this happens, look for the Democratic party to seize upon this as an issue. I predict a call for a new Civil Rights Act--call it the Civil Rights Act of 2004--which will seek to circumvent the decision by forcing colleges to take into account socio-economic factors or other criteria designed to achieve predetermined levels of diversity.
Finally, the Democratic party is going to seek to forge even stronger alliances with minority advocacy groups. This is particularly true because of McCain-Feingold. Once again, a bit of legal prognostication: McCain-Feingold is currently being challenged in federal court, and is all-but-destined to make an appearance before the Supremes. The most vulnerable provision of the act--the provision which clearly contradicts existing Supreme Court precedent--is the so-called Wellstone Amendment, which limits the ability of advocacy groups to run ads 60 days before an election. This provision will be struck down. That said, there are numerous provisions which impair parties, and the odds are that not all of these provisions will be struck down. This already would suggest that advocacy groups will be playing a larger role, but theres more. McCain-Feingold was nearly defeated because of opposition by the Black caucus, which rightly feared that the bill would impair get-out-the-vote efforts. In order to secure the cooperation of the caucus, language was added that permits Congressmen to solicit funds directly for advocacy groups for get-out-the-vote activities. When you combine the fact that the restrictions on advocacy groups will likely be struck down, and these same groups are given special dispensation by the act, you get a new political world in which advocacy groups take on the role previously occupied by parties. Thus, McCain-Feingold doesnt end soft money, it just redirects it to factions.
In this climate, the Democratic party will become weaker, while minority advocacy groups will likely have the opportunity to act as the de facto Democratic party. In order to do so on a broader scale, however, they will need to have a broader outreach than the narrow racial interests which have characterized some of their most outspoken leaders. This is why Fords moderate statements are important, and this is why he may be poised to lead the coming Democratic party.
I think Andrew Sullivan is right to say this article in the NY Times is frightening about the push for a new kind of diversity on campuses. Note this quote from the President of Occidental College, in LA:
It is our job as educators to construct conscious
communities in which students and others
spend time, work and play with people unlike
themselves — ethnically, ideologically, politically."
What is the purpose of higher education? Re-education camps? Shouldnt people be allowed into college because of the academic qualiity of their high school work? This is amazing stuff.
I think this David Broder column is worth reading. He is not only the "dean" of Washington columnists, with a reputation for knowing the inside stuff, but because he wants to seem to be non-ideological (and non-partisan) his opinions have to be look at carefully. If you read his article carefully you will note that the Democrats have put themselves in seven or eight different kinds of knots that they will find very difficult to get out of. The implication of these knots is that they will continue to play miniature politics; adjustments here and there only, thereby not allowing themselves as a party to stand for anything, unless they take the full-bore liberalism/progresssivism/populism mode. In that case they they will continue to lose.
Robert brings to our attention the Harold Ford article and candidacy. What he says is fine, yet a few more angles should be thought about. It seems to be the case that black turnout in the election was much lower than anticipated (and much lower than needed by the Democratic Party). What does the Ford candidacy have to do with that? Will blacks in the Demo Party support Ford or not? What does it mean if they do, and what does it mean if they don’t? Could this Pelosi-Ford battle be seen in some way as the start of a split within the Demo Party among blacks and whites? And what would that have to do with the liberal-moderate (new Demo) split? Wasn’t there already a problem with Maynard Jackson wanting to be DNC Chairman a few years back? As I recollect, he was pretty much dismissed as a serious candidate by the Clinton people. McAuliff got it, and were there not a lot of blacks angry about all that? I think there are some interesing possibilities here that the media is not talking about. If they are I have missed it. I am also taking note of the fact that Ford is putting himself forward as representing the younger Demos. I think this could be significant. Is this a start of a young Turk movement? I think Thomas Mann of Brookings is wrong when he says that this attempt to beat Pelosi will end up hurting Ford ("Ford is fighting the wrong battle at the wrong time.") I remind you that compared to Ford, the other party leaders are ancients; this includes the Clintons. That Ford is ambitious and not foolish or imprudent seems to be self-evident. Something is up.
Rep. Harold Ford (R-TN) writes an op-ed in today’s Washington Post entitled aptly enough "Why I Should Be Minority Leader." While he claims that he is not running to move his party to the left or the right, it is clear that he is emphasizing "New Democrat" centrist themes, and contrasting these with more liberal themes. For example, he addresses the genuine differences between the Democrats and the President on national security:
Although Democrats have traditionally sought the upper hand on domestic issues, we now live in a post-9/11 world. If we want the American people to trust us to govern, we cannot take a dismissive or defeatist attitude toward issues of national security.
One area of stark contrast between my opponent and me is Iraq. Rep. Pelosi opposed the president and voted against the resolution. I worked with Republicans and Democrats to pass a narrowly tailored resolution and joined Democrats and Republicans in voting for it. Ultimately, congressional support helped the administration negotiate a strong resolution that won the unanimous approval of the U.N. Security Council.
But no matter how individual members voted on the resolution, our problem as a party in this most recent election was that we raised objections rather than offered solutions. Many Americans may be apprehensive about the president’s national security strategy, but they understand that he has one, and that the Democrats don’t.
Given this bold move, it will be interesting to see which way the Democrats vote. As another article in the Post notes, it is all but assured that Pelosi will win. This may well determine the direction of the Democratic party reallignment. More on that soon.
OK, I may be overeacting to this story (which Eric Green brought to my attention) which claims that wine drinkers are less likely to get dementia (than beer drinkers, for example), but yet I hope there is something to it. Last night Eloise Anderson, Marv Krinsky and I drank enough to make sure that we never get dementia; although it was more useful to them because they are, well, older, while I am yet young! It turns out that women just need to become mothers in order to become smarter and to be less effected by dementia. No wine necessary for mothers! Too, bad.
Thanks to NROs The Corner for pointing this interesting newstory out about the 13 days in Minnesota. It is long, but a good story.
CBS reports that Gary Hart isn’t ruling himself out as a presidential candidate.
This is amusing. Black powder guns were found to be loaded in Chicago’s Field Museum.
This Robert Kaplan article in the Sunday New York Times is about how pro-America Romania is (and the rest of what used to be called Eastern Europe). It is an interesting piece for many reasons, not the least of which is that the expansion of NATO East might just well be the balance we will need against the anti-American West Europeans. Worth a read.
Fareed Zakaria reflects on the view of East Asians about the election (pro-Bush) and compares their view to that found in Europe (anti-Bush). Typical Zakaria piece; kind of thoughtful, but always backs off at the end.
Tim Noah in Slate reflects on the Judis and Teixeria thesis, and doubts it. He focus on the state-legislative losses of the Democrats . The GOP now has (barely) a majority of the state legislative seats for the first time since 1952.
Leo attributes the GOP victory to the issue of terrorism. He is partially right, of course.
Here is the entirely predictable view of Jesse Jackson on why the Demos lost, and why they were succesful in a few places. More on this later.
I bring this blog out of Minnesota to your attention. It is run by two guys (Hinderaker and Johnson) and they seem very sensible. It is called Powerline. Take a look.
A friend sends a link to a Bill Moyers commentary on the election that I was certain was a spoof. But no: It’s the real thing.
Among the precious complaints of the Rev. Moyers (Michael Kelly last year called Moyers "a liberal scold" and "sort of a national deacon") is that Republicans will "use the taxing power to transfer wealth from working people to the rich."
I suppose we can forgive Moyers for thinking such nonsense, since using the taxing power to transfer wealth from working people to the rich is in fact the business model of PBS, where Moyers has made his riches. Earning it in the competitive marketplace is quite beyond his imagination.
Here is the Presidents speech at Arlington National Cemetery today. May God bless all our veterans!
I have seen Harold Ford a few times on the tube (including his Friday press conference) and, while I dont think he has a chance of being selected as Demo leader, a few things occured to me. Ford is a young energetic fellow. He speaks well (although he uses too many words) and seems thoughtful. He reminded me in many ways of a Democratic Gingrich: ambitious and energetic, an over-achiever. He is not without flaws, but he is young. The Demos are making a big mistake in not giving him his due. This fellow is going to be around for a while, and I think he will--over time--have a following.
Here is Michael Barone’s essay against those (liberal) talking heads and Democratic politicians who keep trying to maintain that everything is still evenly split.
Several days ago, Peter Schramm posted an anonymous response to an article I wrote on the Hellfire attack. I would like to use up a few electrons responding because what my anonymous critic wrote is typical of the way conservatives think about these things and is, I believe, wrong in every particular.
Killing terrorists is not good unless it is good for us. After Afghanistan, it is less important for us to show that we are tough in order to deter the terrorists. We need to consider other things, such as those I mentioned in the article, when deciding how to act and particularly when to use violence.
Any time we use violence, there is a cost. The principle point of the article was that we must weigh those costs against the benefits we hope to gain. My critic mentions Rambo ambushing someone and cutting their throat. Such an approach is altogether compatible with the responders anonymous attack but it is an approach that disdains careful or cautious assessment of costs and benefits for the momentary thrill of a "victory." I believe that attitude will ultimately cost us victory.
It is not true, as anonymous asserts, that the terrorists are hitting us whenever and wherever they can. There is a lot of evidence that they are thinking carefully about how they use violence. We must do the same if we are to beat them. Nor is it true as he asserts that arithmetic is on our side because there are more of us than there are of them. This assertion shows fundamental ignorance of the problem. Arithmetic is not at issue. Intelligence is. It is very hard for us to find the terrorists. It is much easier for them to find us. So, as I said in the article, tit-for-tat violence does not favor us.
The war on terrorism is not a war, at least as that term is normally understood. Neither is it simply a criminal investigation. Except for the destruction of the Taliban and, should it occur, the destruction of Saddam’s regime, it is more like a police action than a military action. This is another way of saying that the application of violence is only part of what we must do and should typically be only a small part.
First Dennis Miller and now. . .
The scatchy rocker Tom Petty reveals himself to be a cultural conservative in today’s Washington Times. Sample: "Only a sick culture would sexualize young girls. It’s disgusting. . .Why are we creating a nation of child molesters? Could it be that we’re dressing up 9-year-old women to look sexy?. . . I think television’s become a downright dangerous thing. It has no moral barometer whatsoever. . ."
Waddyawannaguess that Petty has a daughter?
It is probably redundant to suggest that the major news media in Minnesota have a liberal bias, but our Minneapolis friend Scott Johnson provies a great deconstruction of the consistent bias of the Minneapolis Star-Tribunes polls at "The Trouble with the Star-Trib Poll"
Nancy Pelosi represents most of the City of San Francisco, arguably the most hostile territory (out of step perhaps?) for the Bush Administration in the US, in Congress. Here’s her bio from her web page:
Her father, Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr., served as Mayor of Baltimore for 12 years, after representing the city for five terms in Congress, where he served on the Appropriations Committee. Her brother, Thomas D’Alesandro III, also served as Mayor of Baltimore. Rep. Pelosi graduated from Trinity College in Washington, D.C. in 1962. She and her husband, Paul Pelosi, a native of San Francisco, have five children: Nancy Corinne, Christine, Jacqueline, Paul and Alexandra, and five grandchildren.
A couple of facts are notable. She’s a liberal Catholic from Baltimore, with five kids. She might know something about give-and-take politics from her family.
But she represents a remarkably provincial city. If you want a hearty dose of Blame America First, just talk to an average San Franciscan.
I think it will be interesting to see how these factors interact once she’s a household name.
George Will noted this morning on This Week that Nancy Pelosis congressional district broke down 77% for Gore, 15% for Bush, and 8% for Nader in 2000. This does not speak well for the perspective of the soon-to-be House Minority Leader.
This is the Thomas Ricks piece about the war plan against Iraq, should war prove necessary. It is interesting in itself (quick strikes, no big bombing campiagn, huge troop backup in case necessary, counting on an internal revolution, etc) and also note that it was released after the UN vote, although the plan has been in place for a while.
Todays Washington Post runs a newstory on how badly the Demos have underestimated Bush (and Reagan). There will be more of this sort of thing, but the Demo elites still will not get it. They are too arrogant and too ideological to see such a simple truth. You might want to consider how Lincoln was underestimated by looking at this piece by Mac Owens.
It is being reported in South Carolina that Sen. Ernest Hollings (D) may not run for re-election in 2004. Not only is he 80 years old, but he is reading the tea leaves.
This is John Blooms (of UPI) take on how ill prepared and boring the TV anchors and commentators were. He only exempts Chris Mathews. I generally agree with him (although I did not watch Mathews); they were dry-as-dust-boring and would give only minimal analysis, and this includes (I am sorry to say) FOX News. Bloom is right, everybody had set pieces they wanted to deliver, all really missed the big events and stories.
Here are a few of opinions worth considering. Rich Lowry thinks that Bush has some unique opportunities, in part because he is still underestimated (like Truman), that could lead to a realignment. And the predictable establishment opinion on how Bush did it is represented by Newsweek’s Howard Fineman . Even he admits that Bush has been underestimated.
And The Washington Post runs a newstory on how Bush and the GOP muscled their way to victory. And David Limbaugh attempts to explain why there was such a high Republican turnout.
This appeared in yesterdays WSJ.com Opinion Journal. Barone is beginning to reflect on the elections (and I believe that there are only three people worth paying attention to in these matters: Barone, Steve Hayward, and--surprise--your humble servant) and his opinions are worth considering. He compares last week GOP victory with that of Kennedys in 1962. And surmises that the Republicans have the opportunity to build a majority coalition.
Dick Feagler writes opinion columns for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and he has his own weekend TV show (I think). Although not Aristotle, the guy is quite thoughtful and seems to be an original. Certainly most people in northern Ohio know him, and tend to like him. This is a short column of his from today’s paper and I think it fairly represents why he is no longer a Democrat, and shows why the current Demo Party has driven/is driving away the old style "New Deal Democrats." Just a few lines:
The Democrats like to call themselves the "party of inclusion." But over
time they’ve included too much. They stopped being Democrats and
started being "liberals." Tagging the label "liberal" on Democrats is the
smartest thing the Republicans ever did.
Every crack-brained notion from every liberal pressure group has been
thumb-tacked to the Democratic Party. Christopher Columbus was a
bloodthirsty adventurer. Thomas Jefferson was a racist. Busing is a
solution to segregation. Black people whose ancestors may or may not
have been slaves deserve huge chunks of money from the government. A
Boy Scout, unwilling to recite the scout oath because the word "God" is in
it deserves the nation’s attention.
I think McDonalds deserves whatever fate has in store, if only because the Happy Meals toys have become unbelievably lame. You now get these bits of larger toys, apparently to encourage you to go back for the rest of the toy. So, if the toy is a car, a garage and a ramp, you might get the ramp. On your next visit, youll probably get a fragment of an unrelated toy.
Winston is three going on 16 -- we dont need more McDonalds advocacy in the house anyway, even if this promotional theory worked, which it doesnt.
Oh, at last nights visit, apparently they were out of the normal toys because we received the "toddler" toy - a car with a rattle in it. 11 month old Normie liked it, at least. You want a good toy - go to Carls Jr. if you are fortunate enough to live near one. I cant speak to Burger Kings toys, since we dont have a BK nearby that Im aware of, but they were advertising Simpsons related merchandise, and that cant be all bad.
As a long-suffering shareholder of McDonald’s depressed stock, I’ve been pondering Peter’s observations from the other day about McDonald’s declining quality. I can now authoritatively pass along the news that environmentalists are the proximate cause of McDonald’s downfall.
As every double-quarter pounder lover knows, McDonald’s now has this stupid "made-for-you" system that supposedly makes your burger fresh when you order it, just like Wendy’s. If you have ever peered back into the kitchen, you will see them pull patties out of some heated drawer. This, we are told, is supposed to be better than having a wrapped burger sit under a heat lamp. And it always takes a long time for them to get it all together; not-so-fast-food.
In retrospect, I can date the decline of McDonald’s back to their caving in to environmentalists over the old polystyrene clam-shell burger box that used to keep a burger reasonably hot and fresh-tasting even under a heat lamp. (And they made great buckets to dump your fries, too, remember??) McDonald’s agreed to dump the clamshell and use paper wrappers instead after a huge campaign by environmentalists, who disliked the polystyrene box supposedly because it can’t be recycled. (This is not true, as it turns out.)
So: a new cause for the Ashbrook Center is clearly to bring back the clamshell box, heat lamps, and fast service.
This Post article has more on the American Kamal Derwish who was killed in the Yemen attack. He was the guy who recruited the Buffalo six.
This is a book review of the just published Saddam: The Secret Life by Con Coughlin. It appears in the London Telegraph. It is reviewed by William Shawcross. "Power into will, will into appetite, And appetite, an universal wolf."
This is Mark Steyns contribution to the debate on why the Dems lost so big on Tuesday. It is, of course, well written and funny. I cant resist citing one paragraph:
Whether the Democrats understand any of this is difficult to know: To
their cheerleaders in the press, Bush is still too dumb to be President:
Hes "Shrub," the idiot Dauphin, the pampered frat-boy. Even I
underestimated the guy: In this column on Monday, I figured hed blown
it. As usual, I was wrong! And I couldnt be happier! The Dems are
beginning to look like the cunning predator in a Looney Tunes campaign,
standing there charred and bewildered having mistaken their tail for the
dynamite fuse. If Bush is too dumb to be President, how dumb do you
have to be to be consistently outwitted by him?
More Miller from the Jay Leno show:
"Of course the Democrats lost. Just look at the **9%#! platform they were running: (1) We want to take more of your money, and (2) We really dont care all that **[email protected]! much about protecting you."
The indispensible Media Research Center posted a transcript of Dennis Millers rant on Iraq on the Tonight Show:
"Its not a perfect world. Listen I think Bushs old man could have ended this whole dilemma in the Middle East around 12 years ago. We were like two exits away on the Jersey Turnpike from croaking this toad and we back off because the coalition doesnt want us to go up the road. Are you kidding me? The coalition? This better not happen again. You know Tony Blair is a cute kid and one of my favorite Martin Short characters in waiting, but the simple fact is we dont consult the Brits on anything anymore. We havent listened to them since our boys dressed up like the Hakawi tribe and boosted all the Tetley tea in the Beantown Harbor around 200 years ago. I dont want to ask the Brits what to do here. We gotta assassinate Saddam Hussein. Why have we taken assassination off the table as a viable political tool? And yet theyll tell you the collateral damage of civilians is acceptable. But youre not allowed to assassinate the main pain in the ass. My theory is if you have trouble with your conscience pretend youre trying to kill the guy next to him and think of him as collateral damage, alright?! If that will allow you to get to bed at night." [applause] Miller: "Listen. Negotiating with Saddam Hussein is about as practical as practicing aroma therapy on a French man. Okay? Its not going to happen."
Martin Frost has dropped out the running for House Minority Leader, clearing the way for liberal Democrat Nancy Pelosi to succeed Gephardt in that position. The Washington Post gives some background on the selection and on Pelosi here. And yes, Schramm predicted that Pelosi would best Frost as well. Look for the Democrats to take a serious lunge left, a move that will likely alter the predicted Democratic presidential candidates in 2004 and 2008. More on that later.
The Times-Picayune reports that Governor Foster (R) has refused to endorse Suzanne Haik Terrell (R) in her bid to unseat Senator Mary Landrieu in next months Louisiana runoff. Foster, who backed Rep. Cooksey in the election that forced the runoff, claims that he was turned off by negative campaigning and held out the possibility of endorsing Landrieu.
Wandering the French Quarter last evening, I saw a large campaign banner for Mary Landrieu. I know that politics are a little different in the bayou, but I have to presume that tourists are still not eligible to vote.
. . . or, The Doctrine of Unintended Conseqences, Chapter 2 Million:
A news squib on the CNN craw said that Chinese herbalists are killing fewer rare animals for their aphrodisiac properties; it is not necessary because of the availablility of Viagra.
Who knew that Viagra would help the environment?
Peter asks whether a recount in South Dakota is mandatory. From my quick review of the South Dakota law, a recount is only undertaken if, in elections closer than 1/4 of 1 percent, a petition is filed by the candidate or the requisite number of voters.
S.D. St. 12-21-08 through 12-21-14. An automatic recount is required only in the event of a tie. S.D. St. 12-21-16.
Could someone tell me the truth: Is there a mandatory recount in the South Dakota Senate race? Thanks
This is a good conversation about anti-Americanism between Paul Hollander, Victor Davis Hanson, Stanley Kurtz, and Dan Flynn.
Curtis Gans study of voter turnout is in and some of the details are worth noting. First, for 2002 (39.3%) elections was higher than 1998 (37.6). Second, because of Bush and GOP efforts the Republicans did better than the Demos. Do read this.
Is it merely a coincidence that the UN Security Council has agreed at last to a US-sponsored resolution on Iraq three days after Bush smashed up his opposition in the election? Perhaps the UN, like the Supreme Court (supposedly), now follows elections returns, too.
I have been saying for over a year that the McDonald’s chain was running some inferior operations; slow service, messy, chaotic places they have become. They are closing 175 of them. I’m not surprised.
John Podhoretz appreciates Bushs humor during the press conference. I actually believe that some good writing is in order on this issue (Podhoretz is fine, but its just a start) because Bush does have a great sense of humor. I have seen it in person. And I think it means something more than what is ordinarily understood by such matters. His kind of wit, it seems to me is to be found among a certain kind of person, with a very fine and special character (e.g., Lincoln, Churchill, Coolidge). Where did you study all this goodly speech? Asks Ketherina of Petruchio. He replies: It is extempore, from my mother wit.
The Security Council just approved, unanimously, the Iraq Resolution.
This is a comment on David Tucker’s article "Hellfire" sent in by a reader:
I believe Tucker errs on the side
Certainly capturing terrorists is important
because of the additional intelligence that can be
gained from them. But killing them also is important
because it accomplishes two things:
1) It undermines the belief (created by the
Clinton administration) that the United States is a
paper tiger, unable or unwilling to strike back. Bin
Laden and folks like him have spread the notion
throughout the world that the U.S. is wussy and can be
defeated by a handful of determined terrorists. Taking
out terrorists a handful (or more) at a time is an
effective counter-argument, one that Muslims will
respect, even if they hate us.
2) It makes it clear to terrorists that the middle
east and surrounding Muslim nations are not a safe
haven. There will be no more undisturbed terrorist R&R
in Yemen or anywhere else. They’ll all be glancing
over their shoulders watching for the hellfire missile
with their name on it. And next time, while they’re
watching the sky, a U.S. special forces rambo should
leap out of the sand and cut their throats.
Tucker’s concern that the Yemen strike will
provoke the terrorists to retaliate is a bit bizarre.
The terrorists already are hitting us whenever and
wherever they can, and will continue to do so whether
we react or not. We’re already on the downside, so
there is no downside in striking back. If anything,
successful retaliation by the U.S. will give the
Also, arithmetic is on our side. The tit-for-tat
will only go on only for so long. When the terrorists,
who are outnumbered, are all dead or cowering in a
cave, it ends.
Tucker also says such attacks make it harder for
us to tell the Israelis not to do the same, and such
attacks make us look like the Israelis, feeding the
Muslim belief that the U.S. is anti-Muslim.
Well, we shouldn’t be telling the Israelis not to
do the same. We should be telling the Palestinians
that until they stop the homicide bombings, we fully
support Israel’s right to retaliate against those who
direct the bombings.
As for convincing Muslims that we aren’t
anti-Muslim, those Muslims who understand this don’t
need any further convincing, and those who believe the
U.S. is anti-Muslim probably are not going to be
persuaded otherwise, no matter what we do. The best we
can hope for with the latter is simply too overawe
them with our power to kill those who attack us.
That’s the familiar Machiavellian approach I guess:
They’re never going to love us, so the next best thing
is to make them fear us.
I think the Yemen attack was all to the good. We
need more victories like this. This IS a war, not a
criminal investigation. We should prosecute it like a
war. That means killing the enemy with great vigor
whenever we can.
Here are a few interesting pieces on the election from today’s press, with special emphasis on the plight the Demos find themselves in. Ruffini has a few good paragraphs, as does Sullivan. And then Michael Lind writes in the Financial Times, and Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post. And then Peggy Noonan. All worth reading, all useful for future arguments about the meaning of the Demos loss for both them and the GOP.
I know why you are going to the Big Easy. You are going to eat at the finest restaurants in the country and pretend you are doing something important. But, in case you do something important, you might want to check out this blog site run by a guy--as far as I can tell--who knows a lot about Louisiana politics. Try to learn something, Alt.
Showing the lengths to which NLT will go to provide in-depth election coverage, I am off to New Orleans this weekend to provide on location analysis of the Landrieu runoff. Look for the special "Politics in the Big Easy" blogs beginning this evening. Any claims by Schramm that I am just going down there for hurricanes and for the favorable exchange rate for beads is just more sour grapes over that whole "theory v. philosophy" exchange.
Allisons point is well taken. I agree that this is a problem. One of the things I didnt like about Reagan is that he didnt work on this problem explictly enough. Remember when he stopped off in Minnesota the night before the 1984 election, on his way to California, just to hold a rally at the airport because he (and his advisors) wanted to win MN (and every other state). He should have stopped off at a critical Congressional district and helped the GOP candidate. My sense is that Bush (and Rove) are thinking about this; he certainly acted like it during this campaign, and bowed to the party during his press conference yesterday. Also, one of the reasons I dont like the so-called campaign finance reform is because it hurts parties. This has to be fixed.
I note that Schramm (can I call you that, Peter?) found the partisan breakdown of the vote at the federal and state levels. Yes, people voted for Republicans more than for Democrats. But we should remember that we are living in a time with decreasing party identification and loyalty. Membership groups and volunteer organizations are sucking wind today as it is. Political parties have had increasing trouble attracting grassroots participants.
Moreover, the damage McFein ShayMe reforms do to political parties (by federalizing and limiting state and local grassroots activities) also means that the GOP (in particular) seems poorly positioned to take advantage of this election and increase its partisan base.
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I pulled this off Drudge. They are photos taken inside a C-130 transporting captured terrorists. Very interesting.
Steve Sailer at UPI crunched some numbers to show that the sizable swing to the GOP ; he ignored third parties.
House races: 53.5 % Republican/46.6% Democratic
Senate races: 52.2% Republican/47.8% Democratic
Governors races: 52.8% Republican/ 47.2% Democratic
Pro-Islamic hackers based in Malaysia and Indonesia have been increasing their activity in Asia, causing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage.
The GOP had a net gain of about two hundred (200) legislative seats in the election and will hold a majority of these seats for the first time since the Eisenhower presidency. Historically, the party that holds the White House also loses seats in state legislatures.
Here is a short overview of the upcoming battle for the Democratic (minority) leadership position in the House between Pelosi and Frost. Pelosi will win.
This is a thoughtful analysis of the outcome of the election by Andrew Busch. It not only gives you a good perspective historically, but attempts to answer two questions:
Why did this historic victory happen? What difference does it make?
And here is E.J. Dionnes take on this "electoral catastrophe."
You should read this by Tina Brown (remember this deep thinker?) not because it will teach you much, but because it is well written and amusing. And also, it is revealing of the Democratic tendency to want a star (aka Bill Clinton) who will just mesmerize any pundit who uses the words aphrodisiac and testosterone with such revealing ease. Tina is jealous because (she thinks) Bush has that quality, as is revealed in Alexandra Pelosi’s Journeys With George. She thinks that once Al Gore sees the movie, he will want to slit his wrists. She also comments on Hart, Kerry, and the Norwegian Wood.
I have been watching Bush’s press conference. He is clearly enjoying himself, has the wind at his back, and is quite amusing. I couldn’t help reflecting on what he is like compared to Clinton. Clinton would be hectoring, lecturing, preaching, holding his ego out in front of him for public view and forcing the universe to be, albeit temporarily, as political as he is. Bush isn’t gloating, his ego is not ominpresent. He is not running a perpetual campaign. Very good. You can’t help liking the guy.
Reuters is running this great photo of Bush clearing brush on his ranch (from August) to make a point about the Europeans being more concerned than ever that the electoral victory on Tuesday gives Bush on opportunity to be even more of a cowboy. I say now, as I have said before, good for Bush (and the Europeans, even if they don’t know what’s good for them!). I ought to frame this thing.
David Tucker writes on our succesful attack on terrorists in Yemen. His reflections are good and thoughtful. Although he assumes that we did the right thing in killing them (in this instance) he suggests that just because we are able to carry out an operation like that doesn’t mean that we should. There are a number of other considerations that should be thought through. The argument moderates my inclinitation to kill these guys just because we can.
Dick Morris, of course, had said that the Demos would win (I can’t remember if I blogged it at the time; I thought it so stupid--about a week before the election--that I may not have). But here is his piece today trying to explain why he missed it all. The piece is perfectly ordinary, but the essence of it I quote here because this is what I did, and this is why I got it right (except for those 500 or so voters in South Dakota, darn it!); and this is what the ordinary pundits/pollsters can’t do; they pay too much attention to polls, numbers, all the inside crap. So Morris explains, in effect, why I got it right:
"Unfortunately, I missed many of these developments as they
were unfolding. The hardest thing to do in politics is to be an
insider and think like an outsider -- like a real, live voter."
Unfortunately, there is no formula for this. Add a little knowledge of human nature (theory, Robert!), know a few real citizens, talk to folks (not the oh-so-deep-thinkers), get a sense of the larger things they are thinking about (war, peace, economy, trust, etc.) and add a dash of common sense, and a little Shakespeare for the music. Of course, this is all "unscientific" (thank God!) so everyone calls it a guess. It is really analysis and insight. It used to be called thinking. Of course, it also means you can be wrong. Yet, when you are wrong, you can explain why you are wrong. You still end up learning something. This last point explains why the Demo operatives can’t explain what happened on Tuesday.
In light of continuing questions about whether McCain-Feingold applies to runoffs or recounts, I have amended my previous entry to include the relevant language from the statute. The bottom line is that the bulk of McCain-Feingold does not apply to runoffs and recounts, so long as the election forcing the runoff or recount occurred before November 6. Therefore, it is the position of the FEC that McCain-Feingold’s rules do apply to the special election being held on November 30, 2002 to fill Patsy Mink’s seat in Hawaii, because it does not fit into the "runoff" exception.
And they are moving left. Peter Beinart of The New Republic argues that this is inevitable because there is now no counterweight as Clinton was the counterweight when Kennedy and Conyers tried moving the party to the left in 1994. The Demos are in a dangerous predicament, he argues. And if Pelosi and her kind take over the party they will not govern for a generation. Do read this.
David Corn of the very liberal Nation writes a first class article attacking the Demos and McAuliffe and Gore and their spin on the outcome. Excellent.
A reader sent this blogger’s note on Georgia politics, and the hard ball the Demos have been playing there, including reapportioning seats to the GOP’s massive disadvantage (on the face of it) and how all of it backfired on them. Good page-long read.
This is Will’s column for today. It is worth reading. Just note the following paragraph for clarity regarding those Demos who are claiming that this is still a 50-50 nation and therefore their huge losses don’t mean much:
"In 1980 a cumulative shift of 21,470 votes in four states would have prevented Republican capture of the Senate, blocking Ronald Reagan’s agenda. In 1982 a switch of 31,095 votes in five states would have given the Senate back to the Democrats. In 1986, 24,626 votes in five states gave the Senate back to the Democrats. In 2000, a switch of 1,115 votes in Washington state would have rendered Republican control of
the Senate invulnerable to the defection of Vermont’s Jim Jeffords. The 2000
elections produced a House with 221 Republicans, 212 Democrats and two
independents (one supporting each party), but a collective shift of just 2,750
votes in five districts would have made Dick Gephardt speaker."
Here is the Gore interview with Barbara Walters. It doesnt seerm especially thoughtful to me. He says: "I think it means the Democrats have to be the loyal opposition in fact and not just in name." Ill chaw on this for a while.
It is a start of the Democratic bloodletting. Here is the Post story. Dont look for him to run for president.
This is a pretty clear story on the U.S.s final resolution to be voted on by the Security Council. It seems to me that this is all the administration wanted, and no one will veto it.
The U.S. Army has announced that a high energy laser was used to shoot down an artillery round in mid-flight. TRW is developing it for U.S. and Israel. Very cool.
The conventional wisdom is that the Democrats emerge from yesterdays elections without a clear leader. But an insightful Senate staffer I spoke with this morning reads the tea leaves differently: given the crushing defeat suffered by the Democrats, Al emerges as the new Democratic standard bearer. No, not Al Gore . . . Al Sharpton. As I suggested yesterday, the big story in a number of the races was the poor Black turnout for the Democrats. This combined with Democratic rumblings about the need to get back to liberal policies and to run true "opposition" campaigns may be just the recipe for Sharpton ascendance.
The reactions from overseas are entirely predictable. They are worried that Bush now has more power and authority to conduct American foreign policy. Here is the AP report and here is the one from Reuters. In case there is any ambiguity regarding my opinion on such matters, please see this short piece I wrote for On Principle recently. It is called "Cowboy."
Allison is right, but more needs to be said on this. I hope the VNS is never used again. In the old days (before Allisons birth!) the networks reported the votes as they came in and also interpreted and explained what it meant. Example: That Kennedy (in 1960) was so far ahead in the Illinois return doesnt mean much because the returns we have coming in are from Cook County which always votes Democratic by the following percent, etc. All the anchors used to do this. Albeit they werent as good as Michael Barone, they were doing similar things. It was thoughtful, valuable, and the listener learned a lot about American politics (and geography). With the advent of the exit polling data (VNS) all that died. The effects have been awful. Everything is driven by such polling; the results became everything and speed was everything. Last night was more fun than any election returns I have watched in about 30 years, and it vwas because VNS exit polling wasnt being used.
This is a great victory for the President. His popularity is deep and broad and he is trusted. His political enemies (and even some friends) have always underestimated him and they still do so. Now, with yesterdays results in mind, even a blind man ought to see that this is a serious person (as are the people around him) and he means to act in the world for larger game than what we have gotten used to under Clinton. We have moved into a mode of serious, high minded, politics. And, in some measure because of the war against terrorism, this is consequential politics. Bush is confident about his purposes, his means, the people he has around him. This confidence shows. The American people knew all this and voted accordingly. In this sense the election was "nationalized" by Bush. This is what the talking heads missed.
Yet for some (network newscaster, the New York Times, et al) this will be difficult to understand because they have gotten used to the Clinton/Demo mode of expediency and trimming and victory at any cost. It is the beginning of the end of winning elections by the repetition of little mottos: prescription drugs, faltering economy, etc. This sort of pap, delivered by the always boring and always predictable Daschle and Gephardt will have to end (although it will not yet end, of course) for them to get anywhere. In the meantime a new mode in American politics has been created, a mode that is really a continuation of Reagans massive good work that was temporarily interrupted by the Democrats miniaturization of politics.
The story on VNS seems to be that after the $12 million dollar revamping of the service post-2000, the media participants were shocked to discover its exit polling in meltdown on Tuesday. But I heard early on election day that VNS had indicated over the previous weekend things weren’t working, and had signaled on Saturday to participants that they should make a backup plan. I assume that the failures were in the context of the exit polling analysis, since the backup plan suggested was to go with AP’s service.
Anyhow, it has been a while since I incorporated a link so here’s one to Mickey Kaus’s blog, which is fun to read on VNS and other news.
I slept well, albeit little long. I have spent the morning taking phone calls from friends and allies. The kowtowing got so bad that for a while this morning I confused myself into thinking that I was responsible for this GOP victory, whereas I only guessed it. But now we shall see, as the Duke says to the Friar, If power change purpose, what our seemers be." Bush is no Angelo, so I am content. There is much of interest in this outcome and for me the next step is to try to figure out what it means for the Democrats, what they should do, what they will do, and how they will do it.
Is Schramm gloating through silence today? The lack of blogs suggests the quiet before the storm.
The elections are not over. In addition to the automatic recount in South Dakota, there is still the runoff in Louisiana for Senator Landrieu’s seat. I previously suggested that this would be run under McCain-Feingold’s rules, because the effective date of the law is today. I have been informed that a last minute amendment grandfathered in this race and any recounts under the old rules. Here is the relevant language:
Except as provided in the succeeding provisions of this section, the effective date of this Act, and the amendments made by this Act, is November 6, 2002. . . . . [Selected provisions, including soft money rules] shall take effect on November 6, 2002, but shall not apply with respect to runoff elections, recounts, or election contests resulting from elections held prior to such date.
Accordingly, under this grandfather provision, the parties will be able to use soft money to conduct the recounts in South Dakota, and for the runoff in Louisiana.
The SD Sec. of State reports that with all precincts reporting, Johnson leads with 167477 votes to Thune’s 166949 (dont make me do math--I didnt get enough sleep to do math). I say "leads" rather than "wins" because this triggers an automatic recount. Remember those alleged voting irregularities at the Indian reservations? Early reports suggest that this recount may take up to two months.
The spoils of victory rightly go to Schramm, who best as I can tell has been running through the streets of Ashland for the past month screaming "Never Give Up! . . . Never Give Up! . . . NEVER GIVE UP!" He was chomping on a cigarette rather than a cigar at the time, but you get the idea. That said, Ive never been so happy to have been judged wrong in my life.
Mondale, the candidate of "the sad" (as he claimed to be in 1984), is more proof of the remark (I think it was Fitzgerald??): There are no second acts in American life.
The first sign that something big was afoot came early in the evening, after the VNS numbers were thrown out and when initial returns from Georgia showed Chambliss leading Cleland, Bush ahead in Florida, and, for me, the most important sign, Anne Northup comfortably ahead in her swing House district in Kentucky (where I lived for a year). Suddenly Pat Caddell melts down on MSNBC, attacking Democrats as corrupt, lacking courage and message! Chris Matthews dyspeptic shreik reached a whole new octave, and Donna Brazille slumped in her chair in a clear funk. And it got worse from there. (James Carville finally put a trash can over his head in CNN, a vast improvement over his normal visage. . .) By far the most savory moment was when NBCs Bob Kur and Brian Williams announced that Kennedy Townsend had lost in Maryland: Both looked obviously stricken at the news.
What does it mean? Is this a sign that Bushs coattails showed up two years late? And/or is this a sign that the foundation of realignment, first suggested in the results of 1980 and 1994, is starting to solidify in a meaningful way? The late pre-election polls and what exit polls we have suggest that Republicans are increasingly competitive with Democrats even on the issues where Democrats are supposed to be strongest (economy, health care, etc). Social Security and Mediscare didnt work. (The Oregon health care initiative went down HARD, a sign that there isnt much room to go with that issue.) There is no sign that environmental issues helped Democrats anywhere (and the enviro groups spent big on this election). GOP wins on northeastern governors races shows that the GOP is alive in its historic homeland.
Let the Democratic bloodletting begin. It will be said, correctly, that black turnout was not sufficient, and Democrats will now try hard to reverse this in the next election. How? Look for a renewed push for reparations. (There are signs in windows in black neighborhoods in Oakland, CA that read "Reparations Now!") More generally, Pat Caddell is right: liberals will now blast the centrists for depriving the party of a message. This will be fun to watch.
All hail Schramm, who wins the prize for the best predictions. I wont say anything about humility. . .
The presidents foreign policy may not have many friends among American academics, but the ones it does have tend to be ones that matter. In this essay, John Lewis Gaddis, author of Strategies of Containment and perhaps the worlds most distinguished historian of the Cold War, discusses why he thinks that Bushs September 2002 report on "The National Security Strategy of the United States of America" represents "the most important reformulation of U.S. grand strategy in over half a century."
If this is what it feels like to be wrong, then Ill try to be wrong more often. (Grin.)
Here is the chart of our predictions and the results . The short of it is that the GOP increased their majority in the House, and regained a majority in the Senate. For the three results that are yet in question at this hour you can click on "results here" and go the secretary of state site for the state. Regarding my own predictions, all I have have to say to my friends Hayward and Alt is this; In victory: magnanimity.
Alt is a lawyer.
It seems to me that the Voters News Service numbers that are coming in are not realiable. I wouldnt trust them much anyway, but especially not since they have said publicly that much of their numbers they themselves do not trust. There has been some sort of breakdown. So I think we are just going to have to wait for some real numbers to start coming in. In the meantime, Ill hold an abbreviated Churchill seminar. Here is the CNN site that should have real numbers after the polls close.
Schramm accuses me of confusing "theory" and "philosophy." One must always be careful when lodging accusations at lawyers. I do no such thing, and in fact I will demonstrate that it was Schramm who made this characterization.
I stated "I knew Schramm was a theory guy . . . ." Where could I have gotten the idea that Schramm was preoccupied with "theory" rather than "philosophy"? Faithful readers of this page will no doubt recall that this arose not from my pen (or keyboard), but from an entry written by none other than Schramm. In a blog raising questions about what the new campaign laws mean for the Dems, Schramm asks:
"Somebody explain this to me. Simply, clearly, please, I teach theory" (emphasis added).
I personally would have been happy to have attributed Schramm’s diversions to philosophy, but it was Schramm who suggested that his intellectual journey took him not to Athens or even Piraeus, but all the way down to Paris, where theory is in fashion. Forgive me Schramm, know that it is not I that wishes you such a fate.
I must agree with his observation that beauty is inherent, and not in the eyes of the beholder. I would point to the observations of Lewis, and through him to Coleridge. Coleridge observed two tourists viewing a waterfall: one called it "pretty," the other "sublime." Coleridge applauded the one who called it sublime. Contrary to the view of subsequent literary critics, Lewis argues that "sublime" best conveyed the inherent beauty of the thing, and was not an observation of the viewer’s subjective "feelings" about the waterfall. This is true and good. Now on to the beauty of election returns.
Drudge is posting numbers which are pretty consistent with the unreleased polls I have seen. Heres a brief overview:
AR: Pryor (D) with an easy lead
CO: Strickland (D) with an easy lead
GA: Chambliss (R) +4
MN: Coleman (R) +3
MO: Talent (R) with the lead over Carnahan
NC: Bowles leads Dole
TX: Cornyn (R) +8
Based on tracking numbers I have seen, Georgia and Minnesota are looking increasingly solid for the GOP. Its way too early to tell with Dole in NC, although Im sticking to my prediction of a Dole win there.
I am sorry to see that my friend Alt doesnt appreciate my philosophical repose in the midst of an election I am deeply interested in (this means, among other things, that he confuses theory with philosophy; dangerous, that). I know the games afoot. Therefore, to things beautiful. Beauty is not in the eyes of the beholder. Human beings recognize it by a sort of natural intuition and a natural pleasure. There are many forms, from the antiphonal birdsong, to the color and shapes of flowers, to the Mona Lisa and David; and then the stars. This is not to deny that man-made things cannot be beautiful; even the words that they use in their attempt to pierce the object they behold. So Romeo says (upon seeing Juliet for the first time): "O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright." Never mind what Enobarbus says about Cleopatra when she appears on the wharf; you might be too young to handle it. The point is that all beautiful things are good for you and, sometimes (perhaps always?) a participation in, yes, even a look at, will swell the soul with joy. Then, you may to turn to other lovely sights (such as the slaying of political opponents in battle) with a deeper appreciation of those human qualities that both allow you to see the beautiful, and sometimes even to make it. There, beauty and victory become one. That is not theory, it is philosophy, and "There is nothing ill that can dwell in such a temple."
Internal numbers from last night show Allard with a slim lead in Colorado. This combined with the strong showing Owens (R) in his bid for governor (some polls show him leading by more than 30 points) suggests that Allard may well pull out a squeaker. For the record, this would balance out my miscall on Hutchinson.
The beauty of space? I knew Schramm was a theory guy, but I had know idea of his fondness for the Laputans. In addition to rain today and thunderstorms this evening, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution is reporting longer than usual delays for voters, most likely caused by the fancy new voting machines, which crashed in one location due to an electrical failure. Look for really low voter turnout.
James Q. Wilson writes a thoughtful (and lengthy) article in City Journal about the reform that Islam really needs: religious freedom. Without it, he argues, modern politics--and modernity--is not possible. He summarizes the essential elements in European history that led to this religious freedom (and briefly addresses the American addition to its deepest understanding). Unsurprisingly, he uses Turkey as an example of an Islamic country moving in this direction. Given the political developments of last week in Turkey--where the fundamentalist based party has come to power, yet claiming to respect religious freedom--I hope he is not overly optimistic.
Although I am satisfied with seeing some beautiful shots of symmetrical planetary nebula taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists are interested in knowing what causes the beautiful things. Apparently magnetism has something to do with the amazing shapes and colors. Click on the image. Take a break from politics; its not everything.
The Mitt Romney (R) campaign in Massachusetts has filed a complaint, alleging that union officials were seen entering the polls with voters, and instructing them on how to vote. This follows suggestions that Democratic operatives in Maryland had planned to offer $75 to $100 in "walking around" money to voters--no strings attached of course.
The Christian Science Monitor has an article that one the one hand claims that the Baader-Mainhof Group (also known as RAF) is being "re-examined" (i.e., placed in a better light) in German society, and, on the other hand, the article itself helps toward making liberal-left idealists out of these homegrown Marxist terrorists. Read the article and see if you get a real sense of how awful these people were, of how many people they killed and kidnapped, of how many buildings they blew up? You don’t get the truth, you get historical revisionism of the worst sort. The movies and t-shirts and writings in the new Germany glorifying these terrorists are no longer judgmental, they now become "activists" and examples of "natural growing pains" of a new state. And this is supposed to be good news, according to the The Christian Science Monitor. The Germans ought to be ashamed and the Monitor ought to lose all its readers.
Rich Lowry reports that Hutchinson is toast. I guess I shouldnt have relied on chicken entrails in making my predictions. On the brighter side, there is some optimism about Thune in SD, but Ill believe it when I see it.
The one prediction I am worried most about is my pick for Hutchinson to win in Arkansas. The latest Zogby poll has Hutchinson trailing by 13 points. Hutchinson is most hurt by revelations of his marital infidelity, which has turned off conservative Christian voters. The question is whether these voters will cross the line and vote for Pryor, or simply not vote. In years past, the trend has been that they would not vote. This was demonstrated in the low Christian Coalition turnout for Bush in the southeast after the drunk driving revelation. Here then is the X factor: Governor Huckabee is facing a relatively close re-election bid. Christian coalition voters are likely to show up to the polls for Huckabee. The question is whether they will relent and vote for Hutchinson when they are in the booth. The Huckabee coattails may be the one factor which would permit Hutchinson to pull the upset.
I agree with Glenn Harlan Reynolds that everyone should go back to paper ballots. It is cheap and easy, and if there have to be any recounts, it can be done by anyone. There is a direct connection between the citizen voting and his choice; there is something concrete and firm about it. With the advent of computers the citizen is progressively removed from the act of voting. Also, the recount is done by experts who only other experts can question. It will be like dueling Medieval theologians. It will be a matter of faith. Those matters of faith will begin tomorrow. It will be a mess.
According to Matt Drudge, there are already complaints being made about Floridas new election machinery! Could we be in for another messy, messy election?
Overlooked in the coverage of the Dole/Bowles race in North Carolina is the role of college basketball in this race. In a state which is dominated by Blue Devils and Tarheels, what is more natural than looking to Coach Krzyzewski or Dean Smith for voting guidance? Thus, Coach K held a fundraiser for Dole (and has been criticized for doing so), while Smith threw his weight behind Bowles. Well see whos holding the trophy later tonight.
This article really shouldn’t surprise anyone, yet I take delight in it. It is by a student at Harvard and appears in The Harvard Crimson. It reflects on the lack in teaching ability at Harvard. I love the reference to "incomprehensible, wandering lectures." What the student misses here is that those incomprehensible and wandering lectures are supposed to reflect the oh-so-deep-thinking going on in front of the student who, it just so happens, isn’t smart or deep enough to understand it; or at least that is what the professor would say if he were asked.
This is an interesting story from todays Washington Post about not only the expansion of NATO but about its imminent embrace of a new military strategy which would include setting up of a multi-national deployment force. This will merit some conversation, but for now my political instinct say its not a good thing.
It is being reported that Gary Hart is considering running for president. This has been floating around for a few weeks and does not surprise me. Given the hollow core of the Democratic Party now (and its looming losses today) I think Hart should run; he will have as good a chance as anyone else to become the Democratic nominee. Besides, he just may be old enough not to get into any more monkey business.
Stephen Moore of the Club for Growth points us to ten conservative races to watch. Some are especially interesting, including Indianas 2nd Cong district, and the governors races for So. Carolina, Arizona, and Wisconsin.
On one of the closest election day’s in recent memory, the lead editorial in the Washington Post online isn’t on the races, but addresses campaign finance law. The Post criticizes the parties for acting within current law by raising soft money, and refers to the FEC as "spineless" for attempting to undercut the law.
As someone who has testified twice before the FEC in the last few months, I can assure you that the Commission has been anything but spineless in its attempts to assure that its regulations don’t make the McCain-Feingold any more unconstitutional than it already is--and this despite constant and rancorous opposition by editorial boards of the Post and NY Times. No, to be spineless is to work for a editorial page which has an exemption from campaign funding limitations--an exemption which permits you to expressly advocate for the election or defeat of candidates--and then to use that privilege to cast stones at others who don’t take kindly to having their free speech rights impaired.
If the editorial post really wanted to assure that soft money is out of politics, they would forego the huge contribution they make every year by writing favorable op-eds and endorsing candidates. After all, column space costs money, and therefore would constitute a contribution in the absence of the statutory exemption. The Post is angry that the parties didn’t follow the spirit of the law by foregoing soft money in this election, even though the law didn’t require this. I suggest then that the Washington Post set the standard for obeying the purported spirit rather than the letter of the law by foregoing the press exemption.
No exit polls yet? Hungry for election coverage? Did you miss NLT’s election predictions and commentary? For Peter "larger than life" Schramm’s picks, click here. For Steve "Megatech" Hayward’s picks, click here. For Allison "don’t blame me for ’megatech’" Hayward’s picks, click here. And finally for Robert "when do I get to file the election lawsuits" Alt’s picks, click here.
WaPo reports this morning that Justice Department officials are increasingly looking at Alabama as a strong option to get the first opportunity to prosecute the sniper suspects. The reasons offered are the strength of the evidence--witnesses and fingerprints place both Muhammad and Malvo at the scence of the liquor store murder--and Alabama’s tough capital punishment laws. As I have mentioned here before, Alabama has the toughest law, and so it is good to see that it has not been ruled out as a first prosecution option.
This is a report on how six al Qaeda members, including one that was responsible for the USS Cole bombing, were killed in Yemen yesterday by a CIA Predator firing a missile. The President said the following: "The only way to treat them is [for] what they are - international killers. And the only way to find them is to be patient and steadfast, and hunt them down."
Think that the Senate is divided 50(D)- 49(R)-1(I)? Think again. With Governor Venturas appointment of Independent Dean Barkley to fill Wellstones seat until the winner of todays election is certified, the count is 49(D)-49(R)-2(I). Trent Lott is reported to have already called Barkley.
Noonan nails the debate. I watched many newscasts last night and was struck by how inane and/or misleading the newscasters were on this issue (and many others having to do with the elections).
As poll watchers know, weather impacts voter turnout: worse weather means worse turnout. Typically, Republicans do better when turnout is low. With that in mind, here is your election day forecast, with compliments to weather.com:
Minneapolis, MN: 38H/30L; Rain and Snow showers.
Sioux Falls, SD: 40H/27L; Freezing drizzle this morning, followed by afternoon sun.
Baton Rouge, LA: 70H/50L; Heavy rain and thunder.
St. Louis, MO: 48H/37L; Morning rain.
Nashville, TN: 55H/43L; Heavy rain.
Atlanta, GA: 60H/53L; Heavy rain with thunder storms in the evening.
Little Rock, AR: 55H/40L; Cloudy.
So put on your rain slicker and get ready for low voter turnout in a number of states with close elections.
I just saw Giuliani on Fox and Friends. He predicted a one seat gain in the Senate for Republicans, with Republicans holding the House.
On Monday, November 4, Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura appointed Independent Party member Dean Barkley as interim senator to replace Senator Wellstone. See news account at Findlaw.com.
Contrary to media accounts, Senator Barkley is to serve until the person chosen at the election on November 5 is certified to take office. Minnesota Statute sec. 204D.28, subsect. 11 and 12, 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.
This is an article from Roll Call claiming that there are a number of Democratic Congressmen who might leave the party after Pelosi gets elected to Gephardt’s job (the assumption is that Gephardt will give up his leadership of the Democratic caucus after the unsuccesful attempt to gain a majority in the House and the party will turn left with Pelosi in charge). I don’t think Gephardt will give it up, but who knows. Things may change after tomorrow.
Nanotechnology is being used to have tanks change their colors as needed, and even heal themselves. This short article from the BBC is very cool.
This is an interesting piece trying to show that the idea and practice of citizenship is losing ground; people are seeing themselves more and more as customers rather than citizens. This analysis is not perfect--and certainly not comprehensive--but it is worth reading. It is by Crenson and Ginsburg.
David Pryce-Jones writes about Muslim self-pity, fantasy, and conspiracy by way of consolation. It is from The New Criterion. Thoughtful and instructive.
Mark Levin writes a very funny letter to Al Gore giving him some advice on how he should regain his balance and composure. Its a great quick read.
The networks had egg on their respective faces after the 2000 debacle, in which they called states too early, then pulled them, then reannounced them . . . well, you get the point. In light of this, networks claim to have taken a "once bitten, twice shy" approach to declaring election victories this year. Even so, there is a high likelihood that they will error when declaring the outcome in Minnesota.
As I have suggested below, the key factor in Minnesota will be absentee ballots. If the networks assume that the absentee ballots will be within a standard deviation of the outcome from the exit polls, then the networks will most likely be wrong, and may erroneously announce the race. Remember that under the Minnesota Supreme Courts opinion, absentee votes cast for Wellstone count for Wellstone unless the voter casts a subsequent vote for another candidate. Given the limited timeframe for mailing ballots, the majority of these secondary votes will be cast directly at the physical polls, and there is likely to be a large number of individuals who simply fail to do so. This means that the absentee vote should overwhelmingly favor Coleman.
This break in ordinary voting patterns is likely to be forgotten by those handicapping the final outcome of the election, and may lead to a Dewey beats Truman moment for Minnesota.
Here is a Dick Morris prediction that is almost exactly the contrary of mine. Morris bases his predictions on the latest Zogby polls. I think he is badly wrong. If there is a surge, it is a GOP one.
Enough partisan politics! Here is a nice piece about cowboy boots and how everyone wears them, (at least in Texas) regardless of their politics. I hasten to add that not all cowboys live in Texas.
I have seen about twenty minutes of this debate. I keep walking away from it because I am embarrassed for Mondale. I predict Mondale will lose by ten points.
Rounding out the prognostications, here are my calls. First, though a few general thoughts. As everyone has said, these races are going to be decided by turnout. The Dems are in dire straits in the mid-Atlantic and the South, because their voting strength there is from Black voters, who do not appear to be energized in these elections (e.g., a high percentage of Black voters have reported being undecided, which is more likely a position of apathy rather than indeicision as between the Democratic and Republican candidates). This will have an impact in places like Georgia.
SENATE: Final tally: R+1
NC: Despite Erskine’s (D) charge, Dole (R) holds on. In order to pull off a win, the Democrats would need extraordinary turnout from Black voters. ED is just not the sort of politician who will engender that response, so look for a Dole win.
TX: Cornyn (R) bests Kirk (D). This is a race that shows that judicial nominations can have a bite. Kirk spoke out against Justice Owen’s nomination, and took a 3-point dive in the polls. He then spoke out against the President’s stance in Iraq, and took a 6-point dive. Despite a surge at the end, he has not been able to recover.
NH: Shaheen (D) beats Sununu (R). My sources in NH tell me that Sununu has run a lackluster campaign, and most importantly, Smith supporters are going to write him in at a rate of about 2-3%. This is enough to assure Shaheen goes over the top, and should be enough to assure that Smith never works in Republican politics again.
CO: The veterinarian isn’t going to the pet cemetary, but to the political one. Despite his best attempts, Allard (R) proved to be a poor campaigner, and suffered from low name ID despite being an incumbent. Look for Strickland(D) to take this race.
NJ: Lautenberg(D) takes this race. Don’t get me started on the NJ Supreme Court, or why it is truly despicable that the NJ voters are giving the Dems a pass on this race.
SD: Johnson (D) will hold on by a very narrow margin. Look for more allegations of voter fraud, and possible litigation if the final numbers are close (but I don’t think they will be quite that close).
MO: Score one for my alma mater. U. of C. alumni Jim Talent (R) pulls out the win over pseudo-incumbent Carnahan (D). Talent has run a strong campaign, and despite narrowing margins, will walk away the winner. Look for the governor to attempt to delay certification to the Senate (Talent should become Senator immediately upon certification), leading to potential litigation to force the governor to do his duty.
AR: If you asked me yesterday, I would have said that Pryor (D) would win. Hutchinson has been plagued by the basic principle that you don’t dip your pen into the company ink--at least not if you plan to run on a "family values" platform. His infidelity is likely to depress voter turnout among Christian conservatives--not to increase the vote tally for Pryor. That said, Pryor’s imbroglio over his allegedly undocumented alien nanny has the makings of an upset in what was going to be a close race. Given this recent revelation, I’ll give Hutchinson the edge, but by the slimmest of margins.
LA: Landrieu (D) won’t make it to 50%, thereby forcing a run-off.
MN: Youth and skill are going to make a surprise showing over old age and treachery. Look for Coleman (R) to pull out the W, in large part because Mondale (D) absentee voters will need to go to the polls to assure their ballots arrive in time, thereby depressing the Democratic absentee turnout. For the same reason, look for litigation in this race. As I understand Minnesota law, the winner takes the seat immediately, notwithstanding Gov. Ventura’s appointment today. A win here combined with a win in MO will give the Republican’s the lead for the lame duck session.
GA: My upset special. Look for Chambliss (R) to pull out the win over incumbent Cleland (D). There has been a definite buzz coming from Georgia for about the last 2 weeks. Cleland is vulnerable on national security, which given his war record seems ironic. This one’s going to be a squeaker, but the edge of momentum goes to Chambliss.
HOUSE: Final tally: R+2
The generic poll showing Republicans ahead of Democrats really hurts the Dems. Republicans normally do better than this poll shows, so look for a solid showing, with a pick-up of around 2 seats.
I don’t have a lot to say here. Look for Davis (D) to hold on in California and to be the most hated governor in the country. Ehrlich (R) appears to be poised to beat Kennedy-Townsend (D) in MD, and I’m calling Romney for MA. Finally, Jeb Bush (R) comes through with a solid win in Florida.
All-in-all, if the races break the way I predict, it will be a good day for the President. He will have broken the historical mid-term slump, and he will have defeated the Democrats in the two states where they specifically targetted him for symbolic reasons: TX and FL.
For a while I thought that it may be prudent to hold off on my predictions until I see five minutes of the Mondale-Coleman debate later this morning. But, one, Hayward already has his predictions in and, two, the debate doesn’t matter, it will just show what I already know. The media pollsters/pundits think that their best safety lies in fear; they are afraid to predict because everything-is-oh-so-close. There is no more valor in them than in a wild duck! Although I will not accuse Hayward(s) or Alt of being cowards, I do think they are wrong. They are counting trees, while I am looking at the forest.
SENATE. Just for the record: there is no question that Texas, North Carolina, Tenessee and South Carolina will remain in GOP hands. I don’t care what the last minute polls are saying about a Democratic wave here or there, it won’t happen. Although I admit that the races below will be very close and, inevitably, there will be some surprises, the GOP will take back the Senate. The main reasons for this are 1) Bush’s popularity and his great exertions for the GOP candidates, 2) No Demo theme that has a national appeal, and 3) poor Demo turnout. Coleman will win in Minnesota. He has run a good campaign and has been very prudent since Wellstone’s death. The Democrats’ campaign rally mode instead of a memorial hurt them badly (as I predicted). They have not been able to re-group and ended up both energizing the GOP base to come out and vote and also turned enough independents in their direction to make victory possible. Ventura has helped. Mondale is seen to be too ancient, too retro and the debate this morning will be proof of that. Allard will win in Colorado because: one, demographic trends favor the GOP, and, two, it is a re-run of the election six years ago and the last loser never wins in a re-match. Hutchinson will keep his seat in Arkansas, barely. Pryor is not exactly squeeky clean, and I believe the Christian Right will forgive Hutchinson’s antics (in part to keep the Senate in GOP hands). Talent will take Missouri. Carnahan shouldn’t be in there, she hasn’t proven herself, and has run an inferior campaign. But the GOP will lose New Hampshire. Shaheen will win because Smith screwed Sununu. It will cost him at least 3 points. And Shaheen has run a good campaign. And last, the GOP will take South Dakota. Bush will have more of an effect in this state than any other, Thune has been a good candidate and Johnson is boring. Landrieu will not take 50% on Tuesday, but she will win in December. The one I am least confident of is Georgia; yet I think this will be the surprise GOP victory, the great upset. Chambliss is a solid candidate and has been able to portray Cleland as a liberal (despite Miller’s attempt to help him). It is significant that no national Democrat has gone down to Georgia to help Cleland. Instead of helping, their presence would have lost him the election; the last thing he needs is liberal support. So, if my math is correct, GOP will be up by three.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. Not only will the House stay in GOP hands, but the Republicans will gain from two to four seats. This, of course, will be a huge victory given the history of the party holding the White House losing seats in off year elections, yet the media will portray it as a no-big-thing, something that was expected.
GOVERNORS. That the Demos will pick up a a few seats goes without saying. Given the numbers of GOP governors that is natural. There are a few important ones the GOP will hold: Texas and Florida. Also, Ehrlich will win in Maryland. Of course, despite the great moral victory in these three states (especially Florida), the media will focus on the Demos picking up states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.
And the last prediction is that this will put the Democratic Party into a tailspin. Their great expectations of six months ago will not have been met. There will be chaos; Gore will end, limping, into the nomination for 2004. And then, all Hell will break lose, there will be no natural leader, save Hillary (and Bill). And she will be the nominee in 2008. I can predict the outcome of that too, but I restrain myself.
Hayward did the honorable thing and rushed through the starting gate with his predictions. I am pausing to see how the Mondale-Coleman debate goes this morning (10 a.m. central time--should be aired on FOX and I would think C-SPAN). But in fairness, I will reveal to Schramm and Hayward the thinking process on the delay. First, I am told that polls showed that if Mondale refused to debate, he would have lost the election. He therefore agreed, but agreed to this strange morning event rather than a prime time event, in order to give the event less impact.
This suggests to me that Mondale’s handlers are nervous about how he will do. They are right to be worried. I have distant memories of Fritz debating Reagan, and needless to say Fritz was no Churchill at the podium. That said, however, I think it is fair to assume that Coleman’s oratorical style is not likely to be confused with Reagan’s any time soon.
So where does that leave us? My sense is that the race is Mondale’s to lose. If he does poorly, or if he gaffes, then he is in trouble. He could also be in trouble if he allows Coleman to dominate the debate, either through consistently offering superior answers, or through some memorable quip in response. But if the debate is like most, with the candidates offering canned responses targetted to key constituencies, from which there is no clear winner, then Mondale emerges as the victor, both of the debate and of the election.
Steve invited me to blog along with him on Prediction Day, but after reading his post I don’t think I have much substantive to add. As a general matter I think that we’ll see more post-election litigation. Florida showed both parties that they can weather a big, mean recount when things are at essentially a tie. Where are the "ties"? Colorado? (lots of new voters, lots of potential for challenges regarding registration and early and absentee voting). We’ve already seen reason to believe that South Dakota and Florida will be messy post-election. Texas, too, where the Dems have not just close races to work with and the pleasure of taking the fight to the President’s back yard. So it may be a while before the Senate is resolved.
Here are my quick picks: Senate: Johnson in SD, Bowles in NCar., Lautenberg in NJ, Kirk in Texas, Sununu in NH, Talent in Mo., Coleman in Minn (that’s my upset pick); Pryor in Ark., Strickland in Colo., Lamar! in Tenn., and Landrieu in La. after a run-off.
Governors: Pataki in NY, probably Perry in Texas, Ehrlich in MD (please oh please), "Becoming" O’Brien in Mass. Bush in Florida (but it’ll be messy), and Davis in California.
I like Steve’s comments about the House, but I will add that I am concerned about Ann Northup in Ky3.
Okay, I’ll go first, heedless of the movie producer Sam Goldwyn’s advice: "Never prophesy--especially about the future." (That’s second only to his remark that "An oral contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on!")
House: I believe the Republicans will pick up a minimum of 2 seats. The tipping factor is today’s NY Times poll showing that a larger portion of the electorate believes that the Democrats (rather than the Republicans) have no plan for governing if they gain a majority.
This will be a heavy blow to the Democrats, and a testimony to their lack of courage in reapportionment. If they had been bold and willing to take a risk in California, they might have netted three to five seats there--if not in this election then the next two. Instead their incumbents who want safe districts rolled over easily for Karl Rove’s plan to have incumbent protection districts and freeze the current split in place--a net plus for Republicans in California at the moment. Now Democrats will have to live with that craven decision for a decade.
My special upset calls in the House are John Kline over Bill Luther in Minnesota, and possibly, just possibly, Beth Rogers over Lois Capps on the California coast. Keep your eye on this one: The GOP quietly targeted this district for their Latino outreach, and Rogers, a sod farmer who speaks fluent spanish, has worked the new Latino areas of the district very hard.
I am not optimistic about the Senate. I predict no change or a Democrat gain of one or two seats, unless two upsets come through. Here is my handicapping: Dems pick up seats in New Hampshire and Arkansas, and hold on to South Dakota. Landreau goes to a runoff in Louisiana, but will survive. Republicans will pick up a seat in Missouri, and hold on to Colorado (though Colorado makes me very nervous--here’s to hoping the studly Gov. Owens can pull Allard across the finish line with him).
This leaves Minnesota and Georgia. In both cases the Democrats should be favored to win, but in both cases a Republican upset is possible. I have a hunch that this will be one of those years where one party will either win both of these or lose both of these, though this may be true across the board for South Dakota and Colorado, too. Remember that in both 1980 and 1986 the six closet Senate races were decided by a cumulative total of less than 50,000 votes. This year will likely be the same. Saxby Chambliss might pull it out in Georgia over Max Cleland, and likewise Coleman coud prevail over Mondale in Minnesota. (Remember that Mondale only won Minnesota in 1984 by about 5,000 votes, and friends in Minnesota tell me those votes were stolen; Reagan really did win there, too. But if they stole those votes once, they can do it again.)
The point is: Republicans will gain one seat only if they pull off upsets in Minnesota and Georgia.
Even if the Democrats do hold the Senate or gain a seat, look what they had to do: dump an incumbent in New Jersey, and reach back to the dark ages with Mondale. (Both states would likely have gone Republican without the strange course of events that took place this fall.) Can they really do this again two years down the road if Barbara Boxer is in trouble in California? And the GOP gains in the House are going to lead to much wailing and gnashing of teeth within the Democratic leadership. This will be fun to watch. They may even tear themselves apart McGovern-style after this election.
A couple of state races to watch: Oregon’s governor’s race, where Kevin Mannix, thought to be a weak GOP nominee, has made a horse race out of it with the better known Ted Kulongoski. This is tied to two things: Oregon, like many states, has a huge budget deficit, which means tax hikes are expected. Which party do you think will do a better job of dealing with these deficits? The GOP may have an edge in several states on these grounds. Second, Oregon has a ballot initiative this year calling for universal heatlh care, to be paid for by an 8 percent payroll tax. Small business people, and even organized labor, are up in arms against this, which may help Republicans.
While Bill Simon probably can’t pull it out in California, watch for Republicans down the ticket in other statewide offices, especially Tom McClintock, the GOP candidate for Controller. I think some voters who hold their nose for Gray Davis may split their ticket for some GOP candidates down the ticket as a crazy way of checking Davis.
Representatives John Lewis and Martin Frost address the growing rift between Jewish and Black Democrats in today’s Washington Post. The article establishes the "fact" of the "Jewish-African American partnership" by referring to the group’s common history of oppression. After this somewhat distasteful opening, the article makes a "concession":
Make no mistake, some leaders within our communities -- elected or otherwise -- have differences of opinion, and they deserve respect for the sincere, thoughtful positions they take. They also deserve the freedom to express themselves without being forced to bear the burden of speaking for an entire group.
For instance, some African Americans and Jews have approached recent debates on the Middle East from different perspectives. Of course, there is a long and distinguished tradition of nonviolence in the African American community. Jews should recognize that when some black elected officials advocate a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Middle East, it does not necessarily make them anti-Israel. And a secure peace is what all of us ultimately want most of all.
This is white-washing of the worst kind. The rift he is referring to has been caused by the likes of Cynthia McKinney and her anti-semitic father. This is not a mere difference of opinion: McKinney sent a letter to Saudi Prince Talal apologizing for the fact that Giuliani returned his gift of $10 million, after Talal suggested that America shared responsibility for the 9/11 terror attacks because its policy toward Israel. One of her aides suggested that Jewish members of Congress should not sit on House International Relations Committee because they have dual loyalties. Then there was her father’s blaming the loss on the J-E-W-S.
Let’s be clear: this is not a mere difference of opinion. This is anti-semitism, and in its face the Democrats have offered a combination of silence and revisionism as artfully illustrated by Lewis and Frost’s article. It should be remembered that Republicans were (and continue to be) blasted as racist because David Duke attempted to run as a Republican, even though the Republican party made clear that there was no place for the ideas or person of Duke in the party. Yet the Democrats believe that they can remain silent and still be the party for Jewish voters. Jewish voters aren’t likely to buy this. Until the Democrats are willing to denounce members in its ranks like Cynthia McKinney, and until they are willing to seriously reassess their policy on the Middle-East, expect the rift to continue.
The Washington Post reports that for Mondale to win in Minnesota, he needs to connect with the young activists who were behind the momentum in the Wellstone campaign. Perhaps that was why he was seen as a rally on Friday night "[w]ith scruffy twenty-somethings hopping up and down . . . awkwardly bobb[ing] his head and tapp[ing] his foot to the thumping rock song he didnt seem to know."
You can fool some of the people some of the time. If there was any time before the election, this ploy would surely fail. The question is whether Mondales pandering to youth will be successful in the few days before the election.
Finland is refusing to sell to Israel the best gas-detection kits in the world.
I have been trying to keep up with what Mondale is doing as a candidate. I watch him move around, talk, I even watch his body movements (slight). His person and his campaign is all recycled, all old, all utterly without value and passion. What passion there is--as they used to say twenty years ago--Scandinavian. The man is naturally boring, he just sighs away the days. Whatever vices he used to have at a younger age are now exacerbated. The New Republic had a good critical piece on his acceptance talk, and James Lileks finishes the job. I am thinking that he would lose big if the campaign lasted more than a week; now I am thinking it will be close, but he will lose.
One of the biggest controversies in the discipline of history in the past year has been the case of Michael Bellesiles’ Arming America. For those who might be unfamiliar with this book, its main thesis argued that guns were rare in the early Republic, and that the modern "gun culture" was invented by the National Rifle Association soon after the Civil War.
The initial reaction of the historical community, as well as the pro-gun control folks, was eager enthusiasm. Finally, it seemed, a major part of the anti-gun control argument--that guns played a key role in early America, and hence to take them away now would be an offense to tradition--had been swept away. But there was one problem: Bellesiles pretty much made the whole thing up. Several dedicated crusaders--particularly part-time amateur historian Clayton Cramer--revealed the awful truth; that the author had misrepresented many of his sources, and completely fabricated others. In any case, the whole, sad story is recounted here.
But the saddest part about l’affaire Bellesiles is that the initial whistle-blowers all came from outside the historical profession. True, some professional historians later joined the chorus, but for the most part historians slobbered all over Bellesiles’ thesis, and met the initial onslaught of Clayton and his allies by circling the wagons. How dare this...this SOFTWARE ENGINEER invade our sanctuary! How dare he challenge someone with a PhD and tenure at a major university! And, of course, there was the inevitable ad hominem--Bellesiles’ critics are part of the [gasp!] GUN LOBBY!
The upshot of all this is that it is clearer than ever that the historical profession is dominated by partisans who are quick to swallow any piece of "scholarship" that seems to back up their political agenda. Furthermore, if there is to be reform, it has to come at least in part from courageous outsiders like Clayton Cramer, who deserves our thanks for turning over this particular rock and exposing the nauseating stuff that lay beneath it.
Now, here’s the good news: a committee appointed by Emory University, Bellesiles’ employer, investigated the situation and has released a report which concludes that the author did, indeed, falsify his evidence. He has since resigned from the university.
OK, control of the Senate and the House may hang on results in a few close races. Sure, preelection shenanigans with absentee ballots, new ballots, and dead candidates may get you muttering about the fate of the Republic.
For an attitude adjustment I recommend the Website for California’s Proposition 49, the Schwartzenegger Initiative. Who doesn’t like a good afterschool program? -- and the picture of Arnold on the masthead is quite "becoming" as Mitt Romney might say.
Don’t miss the limited-edition print of Arnold in full weightlifting pose (and not much else) available to supporters.
My prediction is that this thing passes. Oh yeah, I also think Davis will probably win reelection, and be under indictment within 18 months. I don’t have any special knowledge on this matter -- its just a sense I have that the dam is about to break.
It looks as if Jesse Ventura will do a great deed on his way out. In large measure because of the way Wellstones memorial service was handled he has decided not to appoint a Democrat. He has also made another decision: he will appoint an ordinary citizen to fill the job (whether its for one day, a few weeks, or a few months) and he thinks it may well be a man whos current job is collecting garbage. I dont think he is kidding, and I am glad of it. I see no reason why such a man wouldnt do a great job. After all, the current nominee of one party is an unemployed man.
Charles Krauthammer has a fine column outlining where things are in the U.N. negotiations and reminding us not to go wobbly. And, I note in passing this significant development: Prime Minister Sharon has offered Benjamin Netanyahu the post of Foreign Minister; this is significant whether or not Bibi takes it.
Crystal Ball Predictions, which are generally pretty accurate, are saying that the Democrats will pick up around five governorships, but only one Senate seat, and are likely to lose three House seats to the GOP.
Is this a pessimistic or an optimistic outlook? Given that the incumbent party almost always takes a beating in midterm elections, I think we’d have to consider those sorts of results to be pretty darned good.
There are a few articles already out in support of my general optimistic disposition about this election. Here is one indicating that Democrats (of course, unnamed) are starting to talk more publicly about what they should have done during the past few months that would have made their party seem less hollow and more principled. And here is another showing that Demo candidates in the South have a chance at victory only if they dont seem like theyre Democrats; indeed, some of them are trying to run to the right of the GOP candidates.
I wrote on Monday suggesting that a Republican never would have received the soft treatment given to Alex Sanders, a Democratic candidate in South Carolina, or Max Baucus (D-MT), both of whom made statements or ran ads suggesting that gay values were not the values of their state.
Well the proof is in. California Democratic Chair Art Torres is asking gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon to apologize not for making a statement himself, but for failing to criticize an ad run independently by a county party group which is critical of public schools teaching about gay values.
Before Simon says a word in response, he should ask Torres what he thinks about the statements and advertisements by Sanders and Baucus. Don’t let Torres off the hook by saying "that’s not California"--after all, Torres fancies himself a mover and shaker in the national Democratic party. It is the height of hypocrisy for him to criticize Simon for failing to criticize an ad which was run independently of Simon, when members of his party are advocating the same message directly.
As readers know, Schramm, Hayward and I will be offering our election predictions on Monday, with the one who gets closest to the actual outcome receiving the honor and accolades appropriate to a member of the pundit-class, and all others receiving ignominy and shame. Schramm and Hayward have both given previews of their predictions. Both have mentioned the turnaround in the economy, and suggested that this will help the Republicans.
Those who know me will not be shocked to hear that I have a more cynical view. I am afraid that the economic recovery is not resonating sufficiently to provide a boost for the President yet. Remember, the economy was recovering prior to the ’92 defeat of Bush the elder, yet people still believed that it was the economy stupid. Admittedly, there are differences. Bush the elder ran a lackluster campaign, and the economy was the issue. But don’t underestimate the fact that many Democrats are still running with an emphasis on the economy, despite the fact that we are in a growth period.
Don’t get me wrong, while I am a pessimist, I think that there are several races where Republicans will pull rabbits out of the electoral hats. More on that Monday . . . .
Hayward makes good points. However (I just love that word!), consider the following.
Bush is very popular. We are in a war (admittedly a strange one, but one is reminded of it everyday in some way). The economy, although wobbly, has not only not tanked but the news has been getting better the last three weeks. The Democrats haven’t been able to pull out any issue (war, Iraq, economy, corporate corruption, etc.) that had sufficient meat and national breadth which could have been used to focus on as an enduring theme. They have had less money to spend. And last, it is now being reported that that this year’s turnout may be the lowest in a non-presidential election in circa sixty years. A lower turnout hurts Democrats more. And because Bush is campaigning hard in strategically based locations and he is sending other big guns out (including his wife to Minnesota) to do the same, and because he is truly popular, his involvement might mean as much as three points in key races. In other words, GOP turnout will be abnormally high. And, I repeat a point made yesterday: the Democrats seem to be worried and scrambling more than they ought to be. Yet, having said all that, I admit that the critical Senate races will be close. The House will not be.
According to which political scientist or politician you listen to, mid-term elections are a referendum on the party in the White House, or, as Tip O’ Neill had it, "all politics is are local." Neither of these are quite right for thinking about this election.
I came to this view afer reading a 20 year old article by Pat Caddell, whose polling expertise should not be slighted even if his opinions are often loopy. He wrote in 1981 that there is always a small segment of voters who move away from seeing an election as a candidate versus candidate situation, and see the election as a referendum type situation instead. If enough of these voters move as a block in one direction, a large swing occurs, such as happened in 1980 and again in 1994 for the Republicans. It may have happened in a small way in 1998, when Republicans lost across the board after reasonably expecting modest gains.
It is hard to read the tea leaves for next Tuesday with this possibility in mind. But the case for Republican pessimism is stronger than the case for optimism. The economy is a source of anxiety, though polls show this close as between which party would do a better job. The Iraq issue is supposed to help Republicans, but I have some naggng doubts; I think a lot of swing voters may be nervous about the issue--many people tend to be skittish about war until the shooting actually starts. Iraq might actually cut against Republicans with a few voters who think that it would be good to have more Democrats as a check on Bush. (Never underestimate the cognitive dissonance of the American voter, is a useful maxim to keep in mind.) These voters might make the difference in a few close races.
So the interesting question to watch is whether there will be a discernable and directional referendum phenomenon at work in this election. Despite the intensity of the two parties, it is hard to pick up right now. But then, it didn’t show up in the 1980 and 1994 elections until the last 72 hours or so, and it never showed up ahead of time at all in 1998.
Stay tuned for Monday’s predictions. . .
George Will has a punchy column that ties the Democratic Party’s mode and disposition in a nice bundle; how you should look at the Wellstone rally, the now permanent fixture of post-election litigation, and generally looking at laws as nothing more than suggestions. And Andrew Sullivan adds that the Demos in turning the memorial service into a farce revealed that "partisanship as the reason for living" is their only principle. And Peggy Noonans article (she has Wellstone write a memo to Democrats) is very good in showing the same problem.
E.J. Dionne writes an op-ed in today’s Washington Post critical of President Bush’s proposal to expedite to judicial confirmations. This is not news. What is interesting is Dionne’s recommendation for solving the problem:
Ending the judicial impasse would require Bush and the Democrats to agree that this moment requires a thoughtful balance in the judiciary, and it could be easily achieved. The two sides could agree on balanced slates of highly qualified and respected judges representing strong and opposing points of view, or they could jointly agree on moderate candidates known for good sense and restraint.
The first question is why this this ideological balanced slate of judges is necessary? No such requirement was imposed upon the liberal judges of the 70s, or the conservative judges of the 80s. Rather than requiring ideological balance, the confirmation process has generally permitted the President to appoint judges of his choosing. The Senate generally reserved their fire for what they thought to be particularly questionable candidates. But what we have seen with the current Judiciary Committee is unparalleled: an unmitigated attempt to stop every possible nominee, all the way down to the lowest steps of the judiciary. The rancor over appellate judges is also unprecedented. And yet, for Dionne, the proper response is for the President to take a step back and do what no other President has done: change the Senatorial "advise" function into something roughly equivalent with a co-nominating function. Rather than attempting to alter the historical process, perhaps he should take solace in it: after all, if history in the form of Justices Brennan, Blackmun, Stevens, and Souter has taught us anything, it is that Republican presidents aren’t that great at picking "conservative" judges.
The second question is who is to define who is to define the ideology of the judges. If you listen to Charles Schumer, anyone who doesn’t agree with NARAL and the Democratic party platform is "out of the mainstream" or a rabid conservative. Even liberal scholars like Cass Sunstein have the audacity to say that there are no liberals on the Supreme Court today--and this despite the fact that Ginsburg had previously been an activist for the ACLU.
Indeed, a strong argument could be made that many of Bush’s judicial picks already meet the moderate standard. Justice Owens, for example, is not seen as a carbon-copy of Scalia, and yet that is how she was portrayed by the committee. Miguel Estrada joined with the National Organization of Women in a case suggesting punitive damages for abortion protesters, and yet he is villified as "the Hispanic Clarence Thomas." The bottom line is that a requirement to appoint moderates is silly, because the term is too subject to manipulation.
The third question is whether Dionne really would be willing to stick with the system he has outlined in the future. Clinton had two appointments to the Supreme Court, and nominated two solidly liberal votes. If this were to happen again, would Dionne really be satisfied with two moderates, or with one liberal and one conservative? What if the balance of the Supreme Court were on the line, and a solid liberal were appointed first, and now it was time for the conservative appointment. Do you really think that Dionne and a Democratic president would abide by such a system when NOW activists were marching outside their doors?
Perhaps I am too cynical, or perhaps I just think that we should stick with the historical system: Let the President choose, and let the Senate actually vote up or down nominees. That’s how we’ll solve the impasse.
The Minnesota Supreme Court yesterday issued an order in response to the DFL’s challenge to balloting procedures in the wake of Senator Paul Wellstone’s death. In addition to finding that supplemental ballots for the physical polls must be produced listing Mondale as the DFL candidate (which was not in dispute), the court found that voters who have already cast absentee ballots should be able to request a new ballot, either by mail or in person. The court also ruled that if two absentee ballots are submitted, the later should count. The court also clarified that if only the original absentee ballot is received, it should be counted "in the same manner as if the vacancy had not occurred."
There has been some confusion about what this ruling means. Pointing to one of the ambiguities, Howard Bashman’s excellent blog "How Appealing" asks the question of whether the court’s language about counting non-substituted ballots "as if the vacancy had not occurred" means that these votes will be counted for Mondale. First, the language regarding counting the Wellstone absentee ballots in the absence of a replacement ballot is taken directly from Minnesota statute section 204B.41. Simply put, this means that if a voter does not replace their previously mailed ballot, a vote for Wellstone will count as a vote for Wellstone, and not for Mondale, because Wellstone was the candidate if the vacancy did not occur. This is consistent with ordinary voter law: we dont let parties change peoples votes. While Minnesota law permits a party to replace its candidate on the ballot due to extraordinary circumstances, voting law presumes that a voter selects a candidate, and not a party. Even under the loosest conceptions of voter intent, a voting official cannot presume that a vote for one candidate is functionally equivalent to a vote for any candidate of that same party. In this respect, the Minnesota Supreme Courts decision is consistent with Minnesota law and with general principles of election law.
Second, the court basically split the baby with regard to issuing new ballots. The court required elections officials to provide new ballots either via mail or in person for voters who have already cast an absentee ballot. By limiting the requirement to those who have already cast a vote, the court tacitly recognized that those who have yet to return their ballot may simply write-in Mondale (keeping in mind that there is not an unmitigated constitutional right to appear on the ballot).
This was far less than the Democrats sought in the case. The DFL wanted the court to require elections officials to produce a complete new set of absentee ballots (which is expressly contrary to the requirements of Minnesota election law), and they also sought to make the ballots available via email and the internet. The court rejected this option (wisely, considering the large probability of fraud with such untested methods), and stuck with either in person delivery or good ol’ fashioned snail mail. The court did not alter the Minnesota elecation day deadline for receipt of the ballots, however, and therefore the use of snail mail may be a poor option for those who wish to assure that their vote is received by the deadline. This will tend to mean that those seeking to change their absentee votes will need to show up in person to request and return their ballot to assure that it is received in time.