Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Why Marxism Doesn’t Work

This is a hilarious piece from The Onion on why scientific socialism doesn’t work.

Libertarians Cost GOP the So. Dakota Senate Seat

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.

Smokers as Ancients

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 smoker’s reasonable attitude toward life, explaining why smokers are essentially conservative, why they aren’t moderns. You should read this, even if you don’t smoke. It is a classic.

Why California is Democratic

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.

Thinking about Democrats and Gore

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.

Latest Buzz on the Lame Duck Session and Homeland Security

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.

To be a Hawk or not to be a Hawk?

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.

Gore Turns Left

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.

Jerk of the Week

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.

Homeland Security May Falter

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.

Federalist Society at 20

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.

Thieves in Russia steal Newton

A rare first edition of Isaac Newton’s Principia was stolen from a St. Petersburg library.

Social Workers Chat with Dead Woman

This is a brief story out of England. It speaks for itself. Kind of macabre way to end the day.

Daschle Critical of US Anti-Terror War

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 can’t find bin Laden, we haven’t 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 haven’t moved off the same base we were on a year and a half ago because we haven’t caught bin Laden is silly. Can this be attributed to miscalculation? Not after the election. It is simply misjudgement. And it amazes me.

Nancy Pelosi Elected

The Democrats have elected Nancy Pelosi their leader. Although I am open to the argument that this really isn’t 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 (we’ll 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.

McConnell and Shedd Move to the Floor

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.

Dateline: Gore’s Childhood Home

Since Barbara Walters thought it was worth gushing over Gore’s current home in The Note, I thought I would stay the night and offer this blog from Gore’s childhood home. No, I’m not in the farm in Carthage, Tennessee where Gore claims to have grown up in his 1988 campaign ads; I’m 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.

Ideopolis--Why All Politics Are Local

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.

Judicial Confirmation Hearings Today

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.

WaPo: Dems Make Left Turn

The Washington Post gives a dispatch from the land of obvious today: "[Democratic]Party Set to Take Left Turn." Don’t 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 couldn’t agree more.

Poll on 2004 Presidential Race

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.

The Iraqi Letter to the UN

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.

Why Polling is Imperfect

This is a brief, but sound, overview by John Fund, of why polling is imperfect, and why it is in the grips of change.

Demos, Party of Recycling

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.

Democratic Realignment and Hillary in 2004

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.

The Final Word on Minnesota Politics

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.

Iran is Collapsing?

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.)

Joe Klein on the Democrats

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. They’re in a box. They should start from scratch, but they will not be able to; that would call for a new party.

Gary Hart for President

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 Hart’s time. I am telling you that this is not monkey business. Hart’s launching pad is his work on the 1999 Commission on National Security. Pay attention.

Harold Ford and The Coming Democratic Party

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, Ford’s 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 there’s 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 doesn’t 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 Ford’s moderate statements are important, and this is why he may be poised to lead the coming Democratic party.

Diversity in Colleges

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? Shouldn’t people be allowed into college because of the academic qualiity of their high school work? This is amazing stuff.

Broder on the Democrats

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.

Harold Ford and the Democrats

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 Clinton’s. That Ford is ambitious and not foolish or imprudent seems to be self-evident. Something is up.

Harold Ford’s Bold Move

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.

More Wine, Better Mind

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.

What Happened in Minnesota

Thanks to NRO’s The Corner for pointing this interesting newstory out about the 13 days in Minnesota. It is long, but a good story.

Gary Hart Becoming Serious

CBS reports that Gary Hart isn’t ruling himself out as a presidential candidate.

Guns Found Loaded in Museum

This is amusing. Black powder guns were found to be loaded in Chicago’s Field Museum.

Romania is pro-U.S.

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.

East Asia pro-Americans

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.

The Emerging Democratic Majority?

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.

John Leo on the Election

Leo attributes the GOP victory to the issue of terrorism. He is partially right, of course.

Jesse Jackson’s view of the Election

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.

Look at this Blog

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.

Grab Your Puke Bag

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.

Veteran’s Day

Here is the President’s 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 don’t 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.

No More 49% Nation

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.

Hellfire Again

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 responder’s 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.

Tom Petty, neoconservative

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?

Minnesota Media

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-Tribune’s polls at "The Trouble with the Star-Trib Poll"

Pelosi info

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.

Pelosi’s Perspective

George Will noted this morning on This Week that Nancy Pelosi’s 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.

Bush’s War Plan

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.

Underestimating Good Guys

Today’s 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.

Another Demo Casualty?

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.

Election Night on the Tube

This is John Bloom’s (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.

Opinions on the Election

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.

Michael Barone’s take on the Election

This appeared in yesterday’s 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 Kennedy’s in 1962. And surmises that the Republicans have the opportunity to build a majority coalition.

Dick Feagler’s view of the Democratic Party

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.

Unhappy Meal

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, you’ll probably get a fragment of an unrelated toy.

Winston is three going on 16 -- we don’t need more McDonalds advocacy in the house anyway, even if this promotional theory worked, which it doesn’t.

Oh, at last night’s 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 Carl’s Jr. if you are fortunate enough to live near one. I can’t speak to Burger King’s toys, since we don’t have a BK nearby that I’m aware of, but they were advertising Simpson’s related merchandise, and that can’t be all bad.