Photo: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Photo: AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
(Review) James Lileks makes a World War II comparison with modern life.
Modern Life: standing in aisle 6 of Walgreens, considering the prices of camcorder tape, noting that the entire tobacco section has been replaced with scented candles, listening to my headphones: the man on the news insisting that America has declared war on Islam, and America will be defeated. LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING! he said, and he proceeded to tell me nothing I didn't know already: American troops are kicking down the doors of mosques in Iraq and using flame-throwers on the exposed soles of the faithful, etc etc. I turned it off and took off the headphones. The modern world: Muzak is preferable to the news. Times like these I do the unfair but instructive WW2 comparison; imagine a fellow standing in the aisle of a drugstore in 1942, with huge cans on his head, a thick cable going to a heavy box strapped around his waist.
Hey, Mac, what’s that?
“It’s a portable radio! It lets me listen to news and opinion wherever I go.”
“I wish to stay informed.”
I get it; sure. Good for you. A lotta these jakes and jills here, they wander ‘round like nothin’ changed, like the world’s still nothin’ but toothpaste and movie magazines. So what’s the news? Whaddya hear from the front?
“Oh, nothing from the front. I’m listening to a German-American in Brooklyn insist that the Nazis will defeat us.”
Brother, take them things off. Go listen to a jukebox or somethin’. Leave it alone for a while.
He'd have a good point
The WWII generation was simply different from us, in a truly qualitative way. Because, in 1942, you wouldn't have heard a German American expound on the radio about how the Nazis were gonna whip us.
Unlike us, the WWII generation hadn't come from 50 years of unparalleled economic prosperity, that insulated them from the essential harshness of the real world. Instead, they had a decade of economic depression that left a quarter of the workforce unemployed, and family fortunes reduced to worthlessness.
Their preparation for WWII was hardscrabble penury, midwest drought, and looming fascism across the world. That kind of preparation leaves you fairly clear-eyed and ruthless when the big test comes along.
When Bull Halsey steamed into Pearl Harbor a couple of days after the Japanese attack, his one comment after surveying the wreckage was, "When this war is over, Japanese will be a language spoken only in hell." George Patton's usual prediction to his troops was, "We're gonna go through those Nazi b*st*rds like sh*t through a goose!"
Although he said it without the asterisks.
CBS wasn't carrying interviews with some pompous academic who explained to us carefully that the Japanese attack on Pearl, while regrettable, was an understandable act of rage against our attempts to throttle the legitimate national aspirations of the Japanese people though our economic embargoes. Or that the Germans were attempting to reverse the unfair conditions foisted upon them by the vengeful Western Powers at Versailles.
No, CBS was carrying Ed Murrow, who explained to us that those Nazi SOBs were bombing London, and Bill Shirer, who after spending a nearly a decade in Berlin prior to the war, that those Nazi SOBs were enjoying it.
It was a different world, and our grandparents--the kindly old people who now offer us tea and cookies--were different people. Those people were ready to bear the hardships of rationing and years of separation at home, and the ugly tasks of killing Germans and Japanese abroad until those two countries were reduced to rubble.
We seem not, on the whole, willing to do what needs to be done. Or, rather, willing to do what needs to be done only if we can find a way to do without actually causing offense to anyone.
We've had it a lot easier than our grandparents. But they had a lot more resolve, and a lot less confusion about right and wrong.
(Review) The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that there is a move on Capitol Hill to convert about $20 billion of aid to Iraq into a loan.
Over Bush administration objections, many Democrats and Republicans in Congress want to ease the sticker shock of postwar operations in Iraq by requiring that Iraq repay up to $20 billion in proposed reconstruction aid.
Providing the aid as loans rather than direct grants is expected to ease the bill's passage through the Senate this week, despite lawmakers' persistent questions about specific items in the President's request. The House is expected to act by mid-October.
What slack-jawed morons think this is a good idea?
John McCain has it right:
"Every despot, every extremist, every opponent all over the world will say, 'See, the United States was only there for one reason, and that's the oil,' " Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) said. "That's what they'll say, and there will be some legitimacy to it."
That should be a blinding glimpse of the obvious. Obviously, it isn't.
I suggest you immediately get on the telephone or write a letter--not an email--to your congressman and senator and try to get this nipped in the bud ASAP.
If you don't know who they are, then you should be ashamed of yourself. But you need to go to the House or Senate web sites, find out who your congressman or senator is, and write a polite letter pointing out that this is an extraordinarily unwise idea. It is far more important to our national security to look like we are helping the Iraqis, than to look like we are looking for a nice chunk of cash out of the deal.
I mean, it's bleeding obvious!
(Link via Instapundit, like he needs any more inbound links.)
(Review) California's chief attention whore, Arianna Huffington, a woman who 9 years ago believed Newt Gingrich should be president, is now considering dropping out of the recall race in order to help quasi-socialist, mechista Cruz Bustamante in the governor's race.
You know, nobody makes a political turnaround like that in 9 years, especially after reaching their 30s, unless they are a complete dilettante.
When I look through my referral logs, I always find hundreds of referrals from these odd sites I've never heard of. Usually they're message boards. And they inevitably use one of two pictures from my web site. This:
No references to my articles, or blog, or political commentary. Just one of these two pictures. The Bush Photo was a standard Reuters picture from a couple of months ago. The meerkat picture is one I took at the San Diego Zoo.
It's just odd what people pick up on.
Oh well, at least they are using the pictures directly from my site instead of stealing them and uploading them on their own.
(Review) Afghanistan is set to unveil its new constitution, which is intended to be a compromise document that allows the new Afghani state to combine its fractious population into a single society.
But after 11 months of work by dozens of constitutional experts and three months of public consultations, in which 150,000 people submitted suggestions, "a balance has been found," an Afghan official involved in the drafting told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The [constitutional] commission sent 460,000 questionnaires out to the public this year and held meetings in villages across the country seeking public input.
No doubt this is a sign of another abject failure for the Bush Administration for failing to impose a carbon copy of the US Constitution on Afghanistan.
(Review) Mona Charen is a bit confused at the state of free speech law in this country.
If you are a stripper in a nightclub, or an aluminum siding salesman phoning Americans at suppertime, your activities are fully protected by the First Amendment. That is the import of last week's decision thwarting the Federal Trade Commission's Do Not Call list. But if you are a political organization like the American Civil Liberties Union or the National Right to Life Committee, you may not run advertisements 60 days before a general election urging Americans to vote for or against any candidate. That is the state of the law at this moment.
So the kind of speech the founders were most keen to protect -- explicit political expression about important public policy matters -- is slapped down, while invasions of privacy are not.
Welcome to Opposite World.
(Review) David Aaronovitch writes the speech that Tony Blair should give to the Labour Party Conference. Very amusing.
(Review) Pejman is all over Mark Kleiman's crowing about the Valerie Plame affair.
I'm not sure what went on vis a vis Plame, or her husband's antipathy toward the Bushies. But Bob Novak's response has been:
Nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this. In July I was interviewing a senior administration official on Ambassador Wilson's report when he told me the trip was inspired by his wife, a CIA employee working on weapons of mass destruction.
Another senior official told me the same thing. As a professional journalist with 46 years experience in Washington I do not reveal confidential sources. When I called the CIA in July to confirm Mrs. Wilson's involvement in the mission for her husband -- he is a former Clinton administration official -- they asked me not to use her name, but never indicated it would endanger her or anybody else.
According to a confidential source at the CIA, Mrs. Wilson was an analyst, not a spy, not a covert operator, and not in charge of undercover operatives.
Well, if true, that seems to take the wind out of the Left's sails, since it lets the administration off the hook.
But I think it would behoove the White House to get out front on this and ensure that 1) a full determination is made about who, if anyone, did something illegal, and 2) ensure whoever did something illegal is prosecuted.
Right now, the Administration is in danger of dying the death of 1,000 cuts, because of the constant sniping from the Left. Sooner or later the handfuls of mud the Dems are throwing at the president are going to stick, whether their charges are true or not.
The Republicans, quite frankly, are poor players of the game that is now being played by the Democrats. Ted Kennedy charges that the Bush Administration made up the justification for the Iraq war in Texas. Bush responds that Teddy is being uncivil. Democrats respond that Bush's criticism of Kennedy is a new low in cheap shots at such a virtuous Senator. The Administration's response is, well, nothing much.
The Democrats learned something very useful 10 years ago during the last round of the Social Security/Medicare crisis: Always attack. The Democrats essentially won that round because their line was that Republicans wanted to kill old people and starve children. And the only response the Republicans could come up with was "No we don't! Really!"
The Republicans need to learn how to play this game the way Democrats do. Every time Ted Kennedy opens his trap, somebody needs to point out that he could have been president if he'd only learned how to drive. Every time Pat Leahy mouths off about how "extremist" Bush's Judicial picks are, someone needs to point out that Leahy is a damned liar. Democrats are cackling with glee that they shot down the Estrada nomination through what was a campaign of outright lies. And the Bush Administration just takes it.
Well, I'm all for a civil tone in our politics, but if that's the game the Democrats want to play, Then that's the way I'd play it. I spent far too long in the shouting and killing people business to roll over like a weasel and expose my softer parts to those hyenas.
You want to change the tone in Washington, Mr. President? Then start pounding the Democrats like cheap veal for every lie and every inconsistency. Start making them pay the same price they demand of you.
By necessity, that sort of strategy requires that you root out any improper behavior in your own administration in a highly public way, so that it looks like a matter of you redeeming your own honor, rather than a response to sniping from the sidelines.
You can't "change the tone" when your opponents hate you. The only way to prevail in that sort of contest is to give as good as you take until the political price is too high for them to continue the game.
Back in 1984, I went to Air Base Ground Defense (ABGD) school at a miserable place called Camp Bullis, Texas. This 7-week course was the equivalent of the Army's advanced infantry training. The Air Force doesn't have dedicated infantry like the Army does, so the Air Force sends all it's Security Police personnel through ABGD, so that they can become the Air Force's infantry soldiers in wartime.
One of the important things they taught us there is that when you are ambushed, hunkering down to take cover is precisely the wrong response. Instead, you wheel in the direction of the enemy's fire and charge their position.
If you try to take cover, you're dead. If you charge into the teeth of withering enemy fire, well, that's probably not too good for your health either, but it gives you an excellent chance of breaking through their positions, disrupting the ambush, and routing the enemy force. At the very least, you'll take a good portion of them down with you.
Yeah, it's dangerous as hell, but it beats getting whacked where you stand. I think the analogy I'm trying to make is obvious.
(Review) John Derbyshire writes from an alternate reality, where a real war on terror is going on.
(Review) Clifford May writes that, as far as he knows, knowledge of Valerie Plame's CIA ties were pretty well known.
On July 14, Robert Novak wrote a column in the Post and other newspapers naming Mr. Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA operative.
That wasn't news to me. I had been told that — but not by anyone working in the White House. Rather, I learned it from someone who formerly worked in the government and he mentioned it in an offhand manner, leading me to infer it was something that insiders were well aware of.
So, if this is true, Novak's leak could have come from a number of sources, both inside and outside the government.
(Review) The DoJ is starting a criminal investigation into who leaked that Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA agent.
Plame is the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who challenged Bush administration assertions earlier this year that Saddam Hussein had sought uranium from an African nation.
Wilson was sent to Niger last year to check out the claim that Iraq's deposed leader had sought to purchase yellowcake uranium. He could not confirm the allegation, and in a July editorial in the New York Times challenged 16 words in President Bush's State of the Union address that said Saddam had made inquiries about uranium in Africa. One week after his column appeared, his wife's name was published in a newspaper column.
My position is simple: If a crime has been committed, find the guilty party, impeach them if necessary, and punish them.
I suspect it was some minor flunky somewhere in the Administration that did this. But, even if it goes to the top of the White House, anyone who breaks the law should be punished.
Unlike many Democrats vis a vis Clinton, I believe that principle is more important than party.
Not that I don't love a good party....
(Review) In a tolerably long and very scholarly Weekly Standard article, David Gelernter discusses what's really missing from the Bush Administration's rhetoric about Iraq: The moral justification for our actions. The president is uniquely willing to discuss our interests, but not the moral component.
The president needs to attack his opponents head-on, on principle. Peace is good, but if you have to buy it by turning your backs on suffering--at least don't be proud of the fact. We're proud that we didn't. Yes, our intervention served a practical purpose too, but let's start with Morality 101. In Iraq we expected to find hard evidence of cruelty, terror, and mass murder, and we did find it, and we told you so. (And the best reason to say so is not to win over opponents but to buck up supporters.)
Gelernter justifies this through a detailed example of the appeasement movement of 1930s Europe with respect to Nazi Germany.
People who are wrong but have seized the moral high ground, others who are right but cannot or will not pull them down--that was late-1930s Britain. Appeasers struggled with their opponents and beat them. Churchill spoke eloquently, compellingly; in reading his speeches, the historian Robert Rhodes James wrote in 1993, "one asks oneself again and again, 'Why didn't they listen?'" The standard responses--"because people were lazy and it was easier not to"; "because Churchill had made himself so grossly unpopular that people dismissed him without thinking" (James's answer, in effect)--are no doubt true. But there is more to this story, of direct concern to America today.
The appeasers wanted to right wrongs that had been inflicted on Germany in the Peace of Versailles that ended the First World War. Some held that Britain and the West were tainted by Versailles, lacked moral standing to dictate right and wrong to Germany or anyone else. But above all, they believed in peace. The distinguished anti-appeaser Leo Amery once said of Neville Chamberlain: "He described himself as a man of peace to the inmost of his being, and that he assuredly is."
Churchill, as Gelernter points out, never attacked the Conservative Government of Neville Chamberlain on moral grounds. Churchill argued from necessity, from the point of view of Britain's interests, from the threat posed by Nazi Germany. But he never attacked Chamberlain's policy as a false sort of morality per se.
Churchill and his few supporters could have met these moral arguments head-on, but they chose not to. They could have said: You are wrong in your application of Christian principle. They could have said: Peace is sacred, but not when you pay for it out of other people's suffering. Churchill was vividly aware of these issues but chose to base his campaign on security instead. He sought to bring his opponents to their senses, not (or only rarely) to prick the balloon of their moral presumptions. He talked strategy; they talked morality. Communications were doomed from the start.
A similar miscommunication is going on today between the president and his opponents. Like Chamberlain and Churchill, they are talking different languages.
One of the rare civil criticisms I got came from my friends at TAPPED, the Web log of the liberal American Prospect magazine. Their point is that Mr. Krugman was justified in his attack because supply-siders have no academic allies, despite a large number of conservative economics professors. "Supply-side ideas simply won't stand up under scrutiny," TAPPED wrote.
As it happens, around the time I was reading this blog entry, I had on my desk a recent paper from the International Monetary Fund, "An Analysis of the Underground Economy and Its Macroeconomic Consequences." Right on Page One, it has this to say: "Our model simulations show that in the absence of budgetary flexibility to adjust expenditures, raising tax rates too high drives firms into the underground economy, thereby reducing the tax base."
In other words, the Laffer Curve works — and this from an organization hardly known as a hotbed of supply-side economics. Nor is this the only instance in which the IMF has acknowledged fundamental truths about supply-side economics.
- As long ago as 1987, it published an entire book titled, "Supply-Side Tax Policy: Its Relevance to Developing Countries."
- In 1997, it published a paper on Social Security reform in France that contained this finding: "The simulation results ... point to the presence of 'self-financing,' whereby reductions in various tax rates lead to lower budget deficits in the long run, as the result of an expanding tax base and lower unemployment insurance outlays."
- In 1999, it held a seminar on trade policy that came to this conclusion: "A number of countries maintain tariff rates that exceed revenue maximizing levels. These countries could liberalize, at least initially, without significant adverse consequences for revenues from trade taxes."
The IMF is not alone in its acknowledgment of supply-side truths. Across the street, the World Bank has done similar studies. In 1993, one of them came to this conclusion: "Above a certain level of the official tariff rate, further increases in the official rate produces no increase (and there is some evidence of a decrease) in the collected rate."
The problem with Bartlett's explanation here is that practically every economist in the world believes that there is a Laffer Curve, or something very much like it.
Believing in the Laffer Curve, however, does not a supply-sider make. All the Laffer curve tells is is something we already know. If tax rates are too high--i.e., more than the citizenry wishes to pay--the citizenry actively seeks to avoid paying taxes, and government revenues decline.
But the folks at TAPPED are right. Despite the fact that university economics faculties are often staffed with conservatives of all stripes, there is very little support for supply-side economics in the academic world.
The reason is that supply-siders like Bartlett refuse to acknowledge the shortcomings of the Laffer Curve when dealing with anything other than the broadest gauges of taxation.
First, the optimum tax rate (or "equilibrium point") changes all the time. People allow themselves to be taxed, often at absolutely extortionate rates during wartime. During peacetime, people may feel that higher taxes are necessary to pay down a high level of national debt.
I personally feel that the reason the Clinton Tax hikes of 1993-1994 went down as well as they did was because people were perfectly willing to be taxed more because of their awareness of how much debt had been accrued over the previous decade or so.
But supply-siders universally attacked those tax hikes as the precursor to another recession. Well, they weren't. And, so far, the Bush tax cuts haven't added an extraordinary measure of economic recovery to the economy, especially as regards the jobs picture.
Why would that be?
Probably because we are awfully close to the optimum tax rates already. The tax rate cuts implemented by JFK and Ronald Reagan worked in the supply-side sense because rates were already extortionate. Kennedy bought the top rate down from 90% to 70%. Reagan bought all rates down by 15%, and lowered the top rate to 31%, along with indexing the rates for inflation.
There was simply no question that rates were on the right side of the curve prior to the rate decreases.
Nor is there any question that European or African tax rates are pretty far to the right side of the curve either. But I think there is some serious question about where US tax rates are in relation to the equilibrium point.
But, Bartlett is simply wrong in assuming that the IMF's embrace of the Laffer Curve in the macro means that there's academic support for it in the micro.
The 1993-1994 period shows the key weakness of supply-side theory as science. Science requires that a hypothesis do a couple of things.
Supply-Side fails at least the last two of those requirements. If supply-side theorists are right, they have to explain why the "largest tax increases in history", the 1993-1994 Clinton tax hikes, were immediately followed by an extraordinarily long and robust economic expansion, contrary to what supply-side theory predicts.
If it isn't repeatable, and it isn't predictive, it isn't science. And that's why TAPPED is right and Bartlett is wrong.
The Laffer Curve is only useful when dealing with what it purports to measure: A broad relationship of tax rates to government revenues. It cannot, as Bartlett appears to believe, be used as a foundation for an entire theory of macroeconomics.
I have a much longer critique of of Supply-side economics here, if you're interested.
(Review) According to Ronald Brownstein, Howard Dean doesn't really mind upsetting our allies. He just wants to do it his way.
Here's former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, in a speech in Iowa in February, describing Bush's foreign policy: "I believe that the president too often employs a reckless, go-it-alone approach that drives us away from some of our longest-standing and most important allies, when what we need is to pull the world community together in common action."
Now here's Dean, back in Iowa in August, telling a union audience how he would convince America's trading partners to adopt labor and environmental laws as stringent as those in the United States: "How am I going to get this passed?" Dean asked. "We are the biggest economy in the world; we don't have to participate in [the North American Free Trade Agreement] and we don't have to participate in the [World Trade Organization]. If we don't, it falls apart."
Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle.
It turns out Dean intends to talk to other countries about trade pretty much the way he says Bush talks to them about everything else. Much like Bush at the United Nations before the invasion of Iraq, Dean is offering the world a simple choice on trade: Either do things our way, or we'll abandon the international rules and systems that we, more than any other nation, helped to build.
I have offered the rather snide comment in the past that the Democrats haven't had a new economic policy idea since Das Kapital was translated into English. But, the Democrats' veer towards protectionism indicates the grain of truth in that remark.
(Review) John Leo writes that the parade of bad news coming out of Iraq is at variance with the experiences of people who actually go there to see what is happening themselves.
Some members of Congress are sounding the same theme. Georgia Democrat Jim Marshall says negative media coverage is getting our troops in Iraq killed and encouraging Baathist holdouts to think they can drive the United States out. Marshall, a Vietnam vet, said there is "a disconnect between the reporting and the reality," partly because the 27 reporters left in Iraq are "all huddled in a hotel."
Marshall and a bipartisan group of six other representatives just returned from Iraq. The lawmakers charged that reporters have developed an overall negative tone and a "police blotter" mind-set stressing attacks and little else. Ranking member Ike Skelton, a Missouri Democrat, said he found the creativeness and flexibility of the U.S. forces impressive, including their 3,100 projects in northern Iraq, from soccer fields to schools to refineries, "all good stuff, and that isn't being reported."
And why isn't it being reported? The vast majority of us cannot go halfway across the world to see what is happening for ourselves. We, as a people, require the proper information if we are to make informed policy choices. But, evidently, we're not getting that information from our free press.
And I'd like to know why.
(Review) Debra Orrin writes in the NY Post that, contrary to the media's line about an Iraqi "quagmire", we're definitely winning in Iraq. And elsewhere.
The cover of this week's Time magazine blares: "Mission Not Accomplished" - as if the Iraq war has suddenly morphed into a total failure. But is that true?
The mission was to get rid of Saddam. He's gone from power. It's an ongoing frustration that he hasn't been caught, but his removal has already brought a major shift in the Middle East, the center of terrorist threats.
Oddly enough, Saddam's exit has been most quickly accepted in the Arab world. The famous "Arab street" didn't erupt. Al-Jazeera TV lost some credibility. And post-Saddam Iraqi leaders were welcomed into OPEC and the Arab League.
It hasn't led to instant Arab-Israeli peace, but it has enormously reduced the potential support for Mideast terror. Saddam is no longer there to bribe the families of homicide bombers. No one but terrorists regrets his fall.
And others, notably Russian President Vladimir Putin this weekend, have joined Bush in warning the other two nations with Iraq in his "Axis of Evil" - North Korea and Iran - against any nuclear-weapons ambitions.
All of which suggests that Bush's action against Iraq strengthened America's credibility around the world, rather than weakening it as critics claim.
There is, on the Left, a strain of pessimism that, no matter how often it is proved wrong, simply will not go away.
Think about all we've heard from the Left since 911.
Now, the line is that post-war Iraq is a failure. Well, when I hear that, I gotta consider the track record of the guy who's telling it to me. And that track record is pretty awful.
Yes, we appear to have seriously underestimated what it would cost in time and money to pull Iraq back together again. But that isn't because we trashed the place, but rather, after running the place for two decades like it was his personal dog kennel, Saddam had pretty much trashed the place before we got there.
Well, not his places, of course. They all had gold-plated bidet fixtures.
But stories like this make me think that, once again, the pessimists are just wrong.
(Review) Tom McClintock, as always sure of his own rectitude, will not drop out of the campaign, even if it splits the Republican vote.
But McClintock, a 47-year-old career politician who has earned his conservative credentials during almost 17 years in the state Legislature, refuses to bow to critics who call him the Ralph Nader of the Republican Party, referring to the Green Party's 2000 presidential candidate widely asserted to have received votes that otherwise would have gone to Democrat Al Gore.
McClintock prefers to compare himself to Seabiscuit - the scrappy California race horse who outran the establishment. He said he believes millions of voters will embrace his anti-tax, anti-abortion, pro-gun philosophy.
"I believe in the final days of the campaign we'll see a lot of voters who prefer me but doubt I can win coming back in droves," McClintock said. "The crowds have been phenomenal. They say, 'Don't you dare drop out, we need someone to believe in.'"
I may believe that magic pixies will deliver bags of gold to me during the night. That doesn't mean it's gonna happen. Or that it's reasonable to believe it. His "grass roots" support, no matter how fanatically they believe in him, appears to be less than 20% of the population. With 18% of the vote an 65 cents, you can get a cup of coffee, but you won't be getting into the governor's mansion anytime soon.
Tom's got a serious messiah complex. That may carry a conservative senate district in Ventura. But it doesn't make him a very effective leader. I certainly don't think it would help him ram a budget down the throat of a legislature where even half of his fellow Republicans despise him.
People don't dislike Tom because they are "country club Republicans". They dislike him because he is insufferably sure of his own rectitude. You can get away with that kind of attitude in a legislature where your vote is one out of fifty. It's a lot harder to do so as a governor, where a mastery of the art of compromise and negotiation is a fixed requirement for dealing with the legislature.
But Tom thinks millions of voters will magically appear on election day, even though his highest poll reading is 18%. That doesn't indicate to me that Tom has a firm grip on reality, which, come to think of it, also isn't a very attractive characteristic in a potential governor.
(Review) The new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows what looks like bad news for Gray Davis in particular, and Democrats in General.
|Recall Gray Davis|
This tracks pretty closely to the Survey USA Poll I referred to last week.
Not that it means anything. The polls have been all over the place on this race, mainly, I think, because of the difficulty of figuring out who is actually gonna be voting.
Today's Gallup poll allowed voters to identify themselves as likely voters or not, which is probably closer to the mark than using past voting behavior as a guide.
It does seem, though, that the Gallup results point to the analysis I offered last week about what California voters are really feeling about this election.
People don't get this interested in an election if their primary interest is in keeping things the way they are. High voter turnout on election day probably means Gray Davis is dead meat. And that probably goes for Cruz Bustamante as well.
(Review) When Arnold Schwarzenegger conducts his audit of California state finances, he should really look at this.
(Review) Tony Karon asks the question. Frankly, I'd like to know, too.
Everybody thought Saddam had a WMD stockpile. We certainly knew he had built one prior to the Gulf War. We knew without a doubt that he was doing everything he could to hide them afterward.
Jeez, even the French and Russians thought he had a boatload of the stuff.
So where is it? Did he simply fool us into believing he had an arsenal he didn't have?
If so, that's pretty poetic justice.
(Review) Debra Saunders writes about Cruz Bustamante's...uh...generous ideas about illegal immigration. Essentially, Bustamante doesn't beleive any immigration is illegal.
When asked if he saw a distinction between legal and illegal immigrants earlier this month, Bustamante told reporters, "I think that anybody who works and pays taxes ought to have a right to citizenship."
U.S. citizenship is a right for non-Americans who break the law.
In Bustamante World, illegal immigrants should pay no penalty whatsoever. Au contraire, they should be rewarded with documents, tuition discounts and health care.
As for Californians who believe in enforcing immigration law -- well, their beliefs get no respect. To call for any limits on immigration, or any enforcement of immigration law is to be anti-immigrant. Read: racist.
Reason #946,276 not to vote for Cruz Bustamante.
(Review) Charles Krauthammer reviews Teddy Kennedy's hysterical charges against President Bush about the War in Iraq.
You can say he made a misjudgment. You can say he picked the wrong enemy. You can say almost anything about this war, but to say that he fought it for political advantage is absurd. The possibilities for disaster were real and many: house-to-house combat in Baghdad, thousands of possible casualties, a chemical attack on our troops (which is why they were ordered into those dangerously bulky and hot protective suits on the road to Baghdad). We were expecting oil fires, terrorist attacks and all manner of calamities. This is a way to boost political ratings?
Whatever your (and history's) verdict on the war, it is undeniable that it was an act of singular presidential leadership. And more than that, it was an act of political courage. George Bush wagered his presidency on a war he thought necessary for national security -- a war that could very obviously and very easily have been his political undoing. And it might yet be.
To accuse Bush of going to war for political advantage is not just disgraceful. It so flies in the face of the facts that it can only be said to be unhinged from reality. Kennedy's rant reflects the Democrats' blinding Bush-hatred, and marks its passage from partisanship to pathology.
"Unhinged" is about as accurate a definition as any. The whole Left has come unhinged about Bush.
It seems to me that is qualitatively different from the "Clinton Hatred" we saw during the last administration.
Look, there's always gonna be a lunatic fringe. There were all sorts of conservative crazies out on the fringe during Clinton's term. The whole Mena airport/drug smuggling/mass murder thing. And, on the Left side of the ledger right now, there's the whole "Bush is Hitler without the snappy mustache" deal. We're always gonna have those types with us, because the tin-foil hat brigade is a venerable part of American politics.
The difference now is that these criticisms aren't confined to the loonies. When the senior senator from Massachusetts is part of it, something's up. When an editor of a respectable publication like The New Republic goes to great pains to explain why he hates the president, then we have something of a different order going on.
As I hinted previously, the real problem is not anything Bush has done, but the self-image of those on the Left.
Thomas Sowell writes about this in his book, The Vision of the Anointed. Many on the Left perceive themselves as having been anointed to bring to the rest of us--the benighted--a particular vision of political organization. The believe in that vision with a religious intensity. Consequently, those who disagree with them simply cannot be doing so out of a conviction that their policy prescriptions are wrong. Instead, they must be opposing the vision out of selfish or immoral motives. So, in the eyes of the anointed, opposition is a moral failing.
Hence, to Teddy Kennedy, Bush must have been lying about the need to go to war in Iraq. He must have had ulterior political motives. It simply can't be anything else. Because if it was a simple policy disagreement, that implies that Senator Kennedy's position might be wrong; that reasonable people might disagree.
If Kennedy's position is a fundamental moral principle, however, then reasonable people can't disagree. The right position is obvious, and opposition to it is not simply a disagreement, but an obvious and fundamental moral failure on the part of his opponents.
Of course there are issues that the right moralizes about. Abortion is the prime example. Many on the right feel that abortion is equivalent to murder. Many on the Left deny that, and try to tell us that an abortion is no more morally significant than scraping away some skin on the inside of our cheek. (Which makes one wonder, by the way, that the Left is then quick to assure us that the decision to have an abortion is a deeply painful one. Either it is significant or it's not. No fair trying to have it both ways.) But its an issue whose parameters and arguments are almost entirely moral in nature.
But on the Left, as I wrote last year, nearly everything is a moral issue. Tax cuts, foreign affairs, you name it. This is extraordinarily dangerous to a democratic political system, because it denies the legitimacy of any opposing viewpoints. That is nearly exactly the opposite of what democratic governance is supposed to be about.
(Review) The GOP bigwigs in California are abandoning Tom McClintock for the Arnold steamroller. Tom, however, just cant take a hint.
2002 gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon endorsed Arnold Yesterday. Today, Darrell Issa, the man who kicked off this whole recall deal, and finance the lion's share of it, is expected to endorse Arnold as well.
Not being content to simply split the vote, it appears that McClintock wants to ensure that the Republican Party goes down in flames in some sort of hideous Viking funeral, as a penalty for not choosing him.
McClintock's campaign team isn't happy with the GOP leadership's embrace of Schwarzenegger, who's making his first run for elective office.
"He's a liberal and Tom's a conservative and if that's where the party wants to go, fine," said John Feliz, a political consultant for McClintock. "But they'll pay the price with rank-and-file members."
Feliz also suggested that McClintock could run ads slamming Schwarzenegger's Republican credentials.
"We may very well do that when we come to the end of the campaign," he said.
Are you now beginning to understand why about half of his own Republican colleagues in the legislature don't like him? The more I know about McClintock, the more I believe he is a man of zeal, superbly convinced of his own rightness.
He may know a lot about the state's government, but more, and more, I'm coming to believe that if he were to be elected, he would accomplish almost nothing. Politics is the art of compromise, and compromise appears to be the one thing McClintock is incapable of doing. I think his rigidity and inflexibility would so alienate the legislature that any budget plan he tried to implement would be dead on arrival.
I think he'd be an utter failure as governor.
Photo: Reuters/Jim Ruymen
(Review) Andrew Peyton Thomas ponders the difference between Arnold, a a previous actor who sought political office. His conclusion: Arnold is no Ronald Reagan.
OK, fine, no argument there. But Thomas adds this bit of analysis into the article, which is the point I really want to address:
Recent polls have shown two especially notable developments. First, the electorate is split down the middle on whether to oust Governor Gray Davis. Second, there is a congealing of public sentiment around the three leading candidates. Depending on the poll, Cruz Bustamante now garners between 30 and 32 percent of the vote, Schwarzenegger between 25 and 27 percent, and McClintock from 14 to 18 percent. Bustamante's supporters are mostly partisan Democrats; Schwarzenegger and McClintock are dividing the Republican vote between them; independents are sprinkled in among the three. These groupings are unlikely to change appreciably in the next two weeks unless McClintock drops out. There is still a fairly large bloc of undecided voters (one in five self-described conservatives and one in four moderates were still undecided, according to the most recent Field Poll). Still, unless all of these votes go to one Republican candidate and Bustamante loses some of his support — an unlikely scenario — the odds are stacked against a Republican victory.
Now, I have echoed this analysis often enough myself, and, indeed, so has everyone else. But maybe it's time to look at some other factors that might prompt one to take an alternate view.
Interest in this election is high. Half a million absentee votes were sent in three weeks prior to the election. Half a million.
Voter registration is also way up. It's somewhere between the registration levels seen for the 2002 gubernatorial election and the 2000 presidential election. That's really high for a previously unscheduled special election.
These two points nag at me, because it brings something to mind.
Way back when there was a Soviet Union, and it started cracking apart, the Commie Sandinistas that were running Nicaragua were forced by international pressure to hold a free election. All of the pre-election polls indicated that the Sandys were going to win this thing.
Everybody in the country registered to vote. Lines started filling up at the polling places before dawn. By noon, the lines went for blocks.
By the end of the day, it was painfully obvious to the Sandys that they had gotten stomped like a Honda rider at a Hell's Angels rally.
P.J. O'Rourke, who was in Nicaragua observing the whole thing, noted a simple, yet easily overlooked principle. People don't start lining up at 5:00AM to vote for the status quo.
It may the same in California at this moment. Polls of "likely voters" really only cover people who have voted regularly in past elections. New voters, or people who only vote sporadically unless energized by something specific just get lost in the shuffle.
I'm not sure that what the polls are telling are really reflective of what the electorate is thinking. I don't think that hundreds of thousands of new voters have registered because they want to show their support for Gray Davis. And that implies that, after choosing to dump Davis, they won't be particularly keen to choose "Cruz Bustamante: A Browner Shade of Gray" as his replacement. If you are going out to vote for a change, after all, you vote for change, not for a replacement whose main selling point is, "I'm just like Gray Davis, but more so."
All the moaning about McClintock as a spoiler--justified moaning in regular times--might be completely wrong at this particular time. Polls that make Democrats smile by showing that Bustamante out-polls Arnold might be horrifically wrong if it's Arnold's entry into the race that has energized all these new voters. Arnold may just have gotten a lock on this election already.
I submit this proposition inquisitively, rather than asseveratively, but I suspect it at least bears thinking about.
(Review) The new SurveyUSA poll indicates that Bustamante may not win even if McClintock stays in the race.
|Recall Gray Davis|
I hope this is right. I'm in "anyone but Bustamante" mode right now.
Well, anyone except Huffington or Camejo.
(Review) Federal Judge Donald Walter was a staunch opponent of the War in Iraq. After spending a month there, he isn't a critic any longer.
I want to make it clear that, initially, I vehemently opposed the war. In fact, I only changed my mind after my trip.
The team of 12 that went to Iraq was to assess the judiciary and to make recommendations for the future. During the first two weeks, we talked to a few hundred Iraqis and interviewed about 60 judges.
Despite my initial opposition to the war, I am now convinced that, whether we find any weapons of mass destruction or prove Saddam Hussein sheltered and financed terrorists, we absolutely should have overthrown the Ba'athists - indeed, we should have done it sooner.
Judge Walter thinks that more people would probably be less critical about what's going on Iraq, if they knew the truth about what's happening there. Unfortunately they don't, and it appears that the press corps isn't going to tell them.
We are not getting the whole truth from the news media.
The news you watch, listen to and read is highly selective. Good news doesn't sell. Ninety percent of the damage you see on TV was caused by Iraqis, not by coalition forces. All the damage you see to schools, hospitals, power generation facilities, refineries, pipelines and water supplies, as well as shops, museums and semi-public buildings (like hotels)was caused either by the Iraqi army in its death throes or Iraqi civilians looting and rioting.
The day after the war was over, nearly zero power was being generated in Iraq. Forty-five days later, one-third of the total national potential of 8,000 megawatts is up and running. Downed power lines are being repaired and were about 70 percent complete when I left. There is water purification where little or none existed before, and it is available for everyone.
Oil is 95 percent of the Iraqi GNP. For Iraq to survive, it must sell oil. All the damage to the oil fields was done by the Iraqi army or looters. Today, the refinery at Bayji is at 75 percent of capacity. The crude pipeline between Kirkuk and Bayji has been repaired, although the Ba'athists keep trying to disrupt it.
By my sample, 90 percent of Iraqis are glad we came and the majority don't want us to leave for some time to come.
Why we are not getting a similar picture from the mainstream media is quite an interesting question, indeed. Are we getting real reporting, or are we getting only the news that conforms to the ideology of the reporters? Why do so many people who go to Iraq come back telling us that the media is not reporting accurately on the situation there? Why do they go there as critics and come back as supporters?
All interesting questions, none of which are being answered by the boys at CNN, CBS, et al.
(Review) My analysis of last night's gubernatorial debate in Sacramento can be given in short and sweet form.
Arnold Schwarzenegger: He didn't lose. Thus, he won.
Cruz Bustamante: How does a guy manage to be so arrogant, with so little to be arrogant about?
Tom McClintock: He seemed like a very nice boy. With disturbingly scary eyes.
Arianna Huffington: Now I know why Michael Huffington turned gay.
Peter Camejo: When the saucers land, he'll be the the first to volunteer as ambassador.
The longer version goes like this:
Arnold was, I think, the big winner--insofar as anyone won. All he had to do was show that, to paraphrase Fredo Corleone, he was smart, and that he could handle stuff. That was, I think, the Big Question about Arnold. A question he raised himself by refusing to participate in any of the other debates. He put that question to rest by being able to hold his own in the free-for-all portions of the debate. Too bad Arnold doesn't believe in all 10 Amendments contained in the Bill of Rights, which bothers me intensely.
Bustamante's Gore-like debate performance made me want to throw things at my TV. He has been essentially a paid hack for special interests for his entire career. Where does he get off acting so smug? Until last night, I despised Bustamante's policy "ideas" for the foolish crap they were. Now, I dislike him personally as well. It's a good thing I wasn't on stage last night, because about the third time he rolled those piggy little eyes at me I would have wanted to stomp around to his side of the table and slap him until he cried like a girl. We'll see how smug you are when your $10 billion in new taxes, sends businesses fleeing out of state, leaving us with a 10% unemployment rate, ass.
Tom McClintock. You know, when it comes to having an encyclopedic knowledge about how Sacramento works, nobody beats Tom McClintock. Unfortunately, when it comes to inflexible, unforgiving, ideological purity, nobody beats Tom McClintock. If Gray Davis gets recalled, Bustamante will be the next Governor, and it will all be McClintock's fault. He is incapable of bending or compromising, and he's incapable of being a team player. Tom always has to be right, and you have to do it his way, or no way at all. Half of the Republicans in the legislature despise him for precisely these reasons. If I ran the Republican Party in California, I would make it my personal mission in life to destroy his political career.
Arianna Huffington is...I mean...Judas H. Priest! Look in the dictionary under "shrill harpy". That's her picture, right there. Just the sound of her voice could be used to train pit bulls for the fighting ring. And to top it all off, she doesn't seem to know that she isn't running for President. Hey, Lady, that election happens next year. There's more than enough to do right here in California, without worrying about what George Bush is doing 3,000 miles away in DC. One gets the impression that she isn't really running for governor, just looking for an excuse to irritate us with runaway mouth of hers. She is the perfect attention whore.
Peter Camejo seems not to understand why there's no longer any Iron Curtain. In fact, there is very little poor Pete understands, except that you make too much money, and he wants to take it away from you. I half expected him to start running off on a rant about how the progressive revolutionary vanguard of international socialism would defeat the running-dog lackeys of the capitalist-imperialist forces. Jeez, this guy could have been a PR hack for Henry Wallace, except that Wallace would probably have taken a harder line on the Soviet Union.
These are our choices? It's either one of these guys or the proven rank incompetence of Gray Davis?
Maybe it's time to sell my home and move to Arizona.
(Review) Jonathon Chait writes in The New Republic that he hates President Bush, and tries to explain why he, and many of his friends on the Left do so.
Unfortunately, he gives the whole game away right at the very outset of his article.
I hate the way he walks--shoulders flexed, elbows splayed out from his sides like a teenage boy feigning machismo. I hate the way he talks--blustery self-assurance masked by a pseudo-populist twang. I even hate the things that everybody seems to like about him. I hate his lame nickname-bestowing-- a way to establish one's social superiority beneath a veneer of chumminess (does anybody give their boss a nickname without his consent?). And, while most people who meet Bush claim to like him, I suspect that, if I got to know him personally, I would hate him even more.
There seem to be quite a few of us Bush haters. I have friends who have a viscerally hostile reaction to the sound of his voice or describe his existence as a constant oppressive force in their daily psyche.
That tells me a lot more about your friends than it does about W. Most of all, it tells me that your friends are freaks.
Look, I think that Gray Davis is a rank incompetent and a political hack whose lack of ability has turned California into a fiscal disaster area. I think he needs to be thrown out of office. I think Cruz Bustamante, his putative Democratic replacement--and a man who finds the Lt. Governor's job an awesome intellectual challenge--is even worse.
But neither of them is "constant oppressive force" in my "daily psyche", despite my deep disdain for their policies. Do you know why? Because I have a life outside of politics.
How sad it must must be to have one's personal happiness dictated by the actions of a politician sitting in a distant capital.
If you are so wrapped up in your political ideology that you feel oppressed that an opposing politician is successful, then you need to get a freakin' life, for cripes' sake. Read a novel. Go to a play. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Connect with the larger world outside the beltway.
If the mere existence of George Bush a constant oppressive force in your daily psyche, then you've got some real problems of perspective. You are, in fact, hysterical. The political has become inseparable from the personal, and the success of a political opponent is an assault on your personal sense of self.
Your problem is not a thing that is based in the character of George W. Bush. It is based in your inner anger at not having one of your guys in charge. You are angry that your policies aren't being followed. That people aren't voting for your side. You are maddened at the thought that if Bush is successful, then it must mean people don't like you.
And that, near enough, is pathological. Because it means that the next conservative president will be equally oppressive to your psyche.
That strikes me as both sad and pathetic.
As you go deeper into the article, Chait describes with impressive detail why he feels Bush is worth of such hatred.
"Instead, Bush has governed as the most partisan president in modern U.S. history. The pillars of his compassionate-conservative agenda--the faith-based initiative, charitable tax credits, additional spending on education--have been abandoned or absurdly underfunded. Instead, Bush's legislative strategy has revolved around wringing out narrow, party-line votes for conservative priorities..."
So, Chait's first count of the indictment is that a conservative Republican president acting with a conservative Republican congress, has implemented conservative policies.
Well, yes, I can see how that would be a shocker. Because, as we all know, a liberal Democratic president with an equally compliant liberal Democratic congress would never implement liberal policies over the objections of a conservative minority. Right?
Maybe Chait hasn't been keeping up with current events, but we have a partisan political system. We've had it since George Washington's second term as president. I guess partisanship is only legitimate when Mr. Chait's party is doing it, implementing policy that Mr. Chait likes.
Chait complains liberals hate Bush even more than Reagan, because Reagan never pretended to be anything other than a conservative war horse. Bush was supposed to be a compassionate conservative, but he turned out to be just a plain ol' conservative.
It's just not fair. Why, he practically promised to let liberals get some of their policies implemented, and then--he didn't.
The ultimate crime.
Conservatives believe liberals resent Bush in part because he is a rough-hewn Texan. In fact, they hate him because they believe he is not a rough-hewn Texan but rather a pampered frat boy masquerading as one, with his pickup truck and blue jeans serving as the perfect props to disguise his plutocratic nature.
Oh. OK. So it's simple class hatred. Well, that's easy enough to understand. Chait hates Bush because Bush was born rich.
That's certainly a good enough reason to be oppressed by his very existence.
But perhaps most infuriating of all is the fact that liberals do not see their view of Bush given public expression. It's not that Bush has been spared from any criticism--far from it. It's that certain kinds of criticism have been largely banished from mainstream discourse.
Well, there could be a couple of reasons for this. It could, as Chait theorizes, be a tacit conspiracy in the media to protect Bush by declaring certain criticisms out of bounds.
Or, it could be that rational people in the media can recognize pathology when they see it.
The persistence of an absurdly heroic view of Bush is what makes his dullness so maddening. To be a liberal today is to feel as though you've been transported into some alternative universe in which a transparently mediocre man is revered as a moral and strategic giant. You ask yourself why Bush is considered a great, or even a likeable, man. You wonder what it is you have been missing. Being a liberal, you probably subject yourself to frequent periods of self-doubt.
Yes, I can see where that would hurt. After all, Bush is, as everyone knows, a moron. Sure, relatively few morons manage to acquire master's degrees from Harvard, but still...
In any event, despite his obvious dullness, Bush keeps wrapping up political victory after victory over Democrats. I imagine that would be frustrating to a partisan (but in a good way) Democrat like Chait.
Because it follows as night follows day that if Bush is a moron, then any view that credits him with some part in his won success must be "absurdly heroic".
How it must grate on Mr. Chait, day after day, watching Bush's success. How his heart must leap almost into his throat with joy every time Bush makes a misstep.
(Review) The California recall debates will be on tonight from 6:00PM to 7:30PM California time. The debate will kick off with the 12 Questions the California Association of Broadcasters came up with.
The link above goes to my answers to the 12 Questions.
(Review) Arnold Schwarzenegger writes in today's Wall Street Journal to explain his fiscal plan for California. In brief his plan consists of the following points:
First, on taxes, I believe that not only should we not raise tax rates on anyone in California, but we have to reduce taxes that make our state uncompetitive.
Second, the California state budget should not grow faster than the California family budget. We need to put teeth into a spending limit law through a constitutional amendment that caps state budget growth.
Next, the worker's compensation system needs an overhaul.
Fourth, I am a fanatic about school reform...I will maintain the state's testing program and bring school authority and spending closer to students, parents and local taxpayers and take it away from Sacramento bureaucrats...[W]e will expand choice options for parents with charter schools and enforce public school choice provisions in the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
I would agree with all of that, except the last point, which doesn't go far enough. How about vouchers, Arnold?
(Review) Jonah Goldberg writes that Wesley Clark's sudden popularity among Democrats is a sign of simple personal animosity towards Bush.
One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons shows two dogs in business suits sitting at a martini bar. One dog says to the other, "You know it's really not enough that dogs succeed. Cats must also fail."
This summarizes the attitude of so many Democrats today. Yes, yes they want to win. But even more than that, they want George Bush to lose. And the latest thinking is that a military man with an impressive national security resume, good hair and better posture is the perfect recipe to beat George W. Bush. If next week the computers at the DNC churn out a political analysis that says a mean-spirited sweaty socialist will win, then the party will go nuts for Michael Moore.
This of course makes sense considering the loop-the-loop inconsistency of the Democratic Party on foreign policy these days. Democrats are against nation-building in Iraq, because Bush is for it there. They're in favor of it in Afghanistan, because they think Bush is against it there. They're for multilateralism and the U.N. in Iraq because that's where Bush is seen as "unilateral," but at the same time they're aghast that Bush won't deal unilaterally with North Korea, ridiculing his insistence that regional partners and the U.N. be in on the talks. This is not serious foreign policy. This is "cats must also fail" thinking.
To win with this mindset, however, you have to make everybody else hate the president as well, not just the activists in the Democratic Party's far left wing.
(Review) Both environmentalists and businesspeople are saying the obvious. If Arnold thinks we'll be driving around in hydrogen-powered cars within a decade, he's living in what his native Austria would call wolkenkuckucksheim1
But even supporters of fuel cells said daunting technological hurdles associated with hydrogen-powered cars -- combined with consumers' preference for gas-guzzling vehicles -- mean that his pledge of lowering emissions is probably pie-in-the-sky.
Daniel Sperling, an engineering professor and director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis, said the impact of hydrogen-powered vehicles on emissions in the next few years is zero.
Yes, hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. It is not, however, floating around free on earth. And extracting it is pretty energy-intensive.
Scientists have long believed that hydrogen, the most abundant element, could be a relatively cheap and mobile source of electricity to power vehicles, with water vapor and heat as the only waste products.
But to become an effective fuel source, chains of hydrocarbons must be "cracked" -- a process that is both expensive and requires a great deal of energy. Environmentalists worry that a switch to hydrogen fuel cells could actually increase reliance on traditional, polluting sources of electricity.
In other words, right now, the energy needed to make hydrogen fuel would cause more pollution than the use of hydrogen fuel cells would eliminate.
Look, I love the idea of a hydrogen economy. I think we should really be looking at the science necessary to create it. But Arnold won't jump-start the hydrogen economy by government fiat.
California tried this nearly a decade ago with mandatory electric vehicle sales for all manufacturers. And they found out that just because Sacramento orders something, it doesn't magically get done.
1 Cloud cuckoo land
(Review) Election law professor Rick Hasen offers his analysis of the 9th's decision.
(Review) Here's the story. Last year, the people of California decided that candidates for governor could accept no more than $21,000 from a donor.
Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who's now running for governor in the recall election, wanted to raise some money. Indian gaming interests, in whose pocket Bustamante is firmly ensconced, wanted to give him money. $4 million, to be precise.
So, they donated the money to Bustamante's old, pre-contribution-limits campaign fund. Bustamante then transferred the money out of his old campaign fund and put it in his new one.
Bustamante, of course, was immediately sued by Republican State Senator Ross Johnson. In response, Bustamante said, in effect, that he wouldn't spend it on his gubernatorial campaign, after all. Instead, he would make commercials--starring himself, of course--opposing ballot proposition 54.
Sacramento County Judge Loren McMaster wasn't having any of that. She ordered him to return the entire $4 million to the Indian gaming interests from whence it came.
It appear, however, that Bustamante has spent a lot of that money. So the last two weeks of the campaign, he might not be able to have any paid media ads at all, because he's got to give that $4 million back.
(Review) president Bush's speech to the UN today met opposition from The Usual Suspects.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday criticized Bush's "pre-emptive" attack on Iraq, but also urged world leaders to set aside their disputes and join forces to build a peaceful democracy in the troubled nation.
The fact that, without Bush's pre-emptive attack, there would be no chance whatsoever to "build a peaceful democracy" there seems never to have entered his mind. Instead, thousands of Iraqis would still be facing daily imprisonment, torture, and death by being fed into industrial shredders. We should be sorry for stopping this? Don't hang around by the phone, pining for an apology, Kofi.
French President Jacques Chirac, a strong opponent to the Iraq war, said Tuesday that, "the war, embarked on without Security Council approval, has undermined the multilateral system."
"In an open world, no one can isolate themselves, no one can act alone in the name of all and no one can accept the anarchy of a society without rules," he continued. "There is no alternative but the United Nations."
Uh, actually, I think we just showed the world an alternative. Iraq is, if not a free nation, at least on the road to becoming one. Under the UN's aegis, Saddam Hussein would still be looting the country for solid gold bidet fixtures. If the UN is the only alternative, then the world is screwed.
I'm sure Jacques Chirac thinks we should go to the UN. It is, after all, the only place in the world where France has the power to be anything more than the useless, "also-ran" it's been since the 1950s. Additionally, one notes that Jacques Chirac wasn't particularly interested in the UN's opinion when it came time for him to dispatch French troops to Africa.
Chirac said the transfer of sovereignty to the people of Iraq is "indispensable" to the country's reconstruction.
But Chirac didn't repeat French demands for a handover within as little as a month and said it should be "gradual" and "according to a realistic timetable." Chirac also voiced support for a multinational force in Iraq, which would be under U.S. command. Some countries have said the United States shouldn't necessarily have that military authority.
Yeah, now that we've done the job they didn't want to do in the first place, they want to take charge of the situation.
Since the Korean War, the UN has never been keen to get involved in combat operations. They've usually waited 'til the war was over, then sent in peacekeepers to shoot the wounded. That's precisely what they want to do this time out, as well.
If it was up the UN, Uday would still be cruising Baghdad in his white Mercedes, looking for more virgins to rape. So, I'm not gonna come over all quivery at the thought of UN "blue helmets" leading the Iraqis down the path of salvation.
In fact, based on their results in the past, I suspect that quite the opposite would occur. I refer you to the bang-up job the UN did in the former Yugoslavia.
(Review) The full 9th Circuit ruling is a per curiam ruling, which means no one is credited with authorship, and there are no dissents. So we don't know how the individual votes on the panel went.
The ruling shreds the ACLU's case for requesting an injunction postponing the election.
First, an injunction, also known as a request for "injunctive relief", is basically a request for the court to tell someone, "Knock it off!", Usually, you request a preliminary injunction (as the ACLU did in this case) in order to get someone to stop doing something while a court case proceeds. In order to get an injunction in the case of an election, where there is a substantial public interest in holding a constitutionally required election, there are some tests you have to meet:
[A] plaintiff is required to establish "(1) a strong likelihood of success on the merits, (2) the possibility of irreparable injury to plaintiff[s] if preliminary relief is not granted, (3) a balance of hardships favoring the plaintiff[s], and (4) advancement of the public interest (in certain cases)."
The court held that the ACLU did not meet the bar that these requirements set. The ACLU advanced an argument based on Sec. 2 of the Voting Rights act. The Court's response:
To establish a Section 2 violation, plaintiffs need only demonstrate “a causal connection between the challenged voting practice and [a] prohibited discriminatory result.” Smith v. Salt River Project Agric. Improvement & Power Dist., 109 F.3d 586, 595 (9th Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks omitted). There is significant dispute in the record, however, as to the degree and significance of the disparity. Thus, although plaintiffs have shown a possibility of success on the merits, we cannot say that at this stage they have shown a strong likelihood.
On the issue of the public's interest in holding an election, the decision notes:
The decision to enjoin an impending election is so serious that the Supreme Court has allowed elections to go forward even in the face of an undisputed constitutional violation.
Elections, as it happens, are important, and it takes something pretty egregious to get the courts in the business of canceling them. That is as it should be, because, as the Court writes:
If the recall election scheduled for October 7, 2003, is enjoined, it is certain that the state of California and its citizens will suffer material hardship by virtue of the enormous resources already invested in reliance on the election’s proceeding on the announced date. Time and money have been spent to prepare voter information pamphlets and sample ballots, mail absentee ballots, and hire and train poll workers. Public officials have been forced to divert their attention from their official duties in order to campaign. Candidates have crafted their message to the voters in light of the originally-announced schedule and calibrated their message to the political and social environment of the time. They have raised funds under current campaign contribution laws and expended them in reliance on the election’s taking place on October 7. Potential voters have given their attention to the candidates’ messages and prepared themselves to vote. Hundreds of thousands of absentee voters have already cast their votes in similar reliance upon the election going forward on the timetable announced by the state. These investments of time, money, and the exercise of citizenship rights cannot be returned. If the election is postponed, citizens who have already cast a vote will effectively be told that the vote does not count and that they must vote again.
An election that is postponed is really not the same election, but rather a separate election. You cannot return the voters to the mindset they had during the first election.
Moreover, while there is the possibility that some voters may be disenfranchised if the election is held now, all voters will be disenfranchised if the election is delayed. Under those circumstances it's clear that the public's interest in holding the election now outweighs the theoretical proposition that some voters might be effectively disenfranchised. As the Court writes:
We must of course also look to the interests represented by the plaintiffs, who are legitimately concerned that use of the punch-card system will deny the right to vote to some voters who must use that system. At this time, it is merely a speculative possibility, however, that any such denial will influence the result of the election.
So, the recall goes on as scheduled. It is possible, of course, that the ACLU will petition the Supreme Court to hear this case.
The chances of the Supreme Court choosing to do so are effectively zero.
(Review) The en banc panel of the 9th Circuit has denied the ACLU's request for an injunction against holding the election. The election's on!
The link above goes to the summary of the decision. The FUll text of the decision is here.
(Review) I expect I will comment more on the president's UN speech in due course, but first, I'm waiting for the 9th Circuit's recall decision.
The link goes to the text of the speech.
(Review) Darrell Issa, the San Diego congressman whose personal fortune funded most of the recall petition drive against California Governor Gray Davis, is a bit less excited about the recall now.
"If two major Republicans remain on the ballot, I'd advise you to vote 'no' on the recall," said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista (San Diego County), who spent more than $1.6 million of his own money to help gather signatures to recall Davis.
"It would absolutely guarantee that (Democratic Lt. Gov.) Cruz Bustamante will be the governor, even though a majority of voters are asking for a no-tax solution" to California's budget problems, Issa told a lunchtime meeting of the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.
There has been some new polling that indicates that Cruz Bustamante would lose to either Arnold or McClintock, but will win if they both stay in.
I think Issa is right. I also think Tom McClintock should drop out of the race, because Arnold has a much better shot at winning. I may end up voting againt the recall, just to stave off the disaster that is Bustamante.
(Review) Deroy Murdock writes that Ted Kennedy is a backstabbing weasel, and that President Bush should start playing serious hardball with him.
Of course he says it nicer than that.
Last week's anti-Bush tantrum is more than enough reason to table the president's and the GOP's tender feelings for Kennedy. This always has been a one-way affair in which respect, affection and legislative deference have flowed like honey from Bush and Republican senators towards Kennedy. In return, Kennedy has extracted everything he can from the White House and his GOP colleagues — engorging bills with tax dollars and red tape — then squirted vinegar in their eyes on issue after issue.
Bush should now make it a practice to oppose anything Teddy supports.
Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
Photo: AFP/Patrick Kovarik
Photo: AP Photo/Markus Schrieber
(Review) Howard Bashman has a roundup of what to expect from the 9th Circuit this afternoon.
(Review) Michael Reagan writes that when his dad was running for president in 1980, he didn't go to the debates in Iowa, and got thrashed by George H.W. Bush in the Iowa Caucus. Arnold, he says, is making the same mistake now in his California gubernatorial race.
I recall that story because looking at Schwarzenegger ‘s campaign I realize he hasn't gone to a single debate - now they are putting up empty chairs with his name on it to emphasize his absence - and the only debate he is going to participate in is the one where they’ll give the candidates pre-written questions before they walk in the room. Four of the major candidates are going to boycott it for that reason and he’s going to be the lone guy out there.
Arnold's unwillingness to participate in any of the debates except the upcoming one on Wednesday bothers me, because I wonder whether he's doing so because he just doesn't know enough to go one-on-one with long-time political professionals like Bustamante or McClintock.
Then, over the weekend, he came out with his hydrogen vehicle plan. Earth to Arnold: No one makes hydrogen vehicles. In fact, no one even makes hydrogen for the hydrogen vehicles nobody makes.
I love the idea of hydrogen vehicles. Currently, though, they are in the experimental stage, and cost an arm and a leg. Oh, and it costs an arm and a leg to make hydrogen, too. We're at least a decade away from viable hydrogen vehicles.
But I digress.
While making his pitch for hydrogen vehicles, Arnold slammed Gray Davis for talking a lot about the environment but doing nothing. He was unaware, apparently, of several pieces of environmental legislation signed by Davis, and got called on it. He then had to backtrack, making him look like he really wasn't aware of what's been going on in Sacramento.
So the Wednesday debate is a key one for Schwarzenegger. He really needs to shine, because Tom McClintock will make him look like a fool otherwise.
Which might be just enough to ensure that Neither McClintock nor Arnold have a chance at replacing Gray Davis.
Indeed, voters may just decide that the devil you know is preferable to the devil you don't know. After all, if the replacement choices are 1) a Socialist Mechista who wants to increase taxes by $10 billion per year, 2) an actor with no political experience and no discernible knowledge about the issues, and 3) a conservative ideologue whose social stances are outside the California mainstream, then voters may just want to keep Davis on.
At least his incompetence is a known quantity.
(Review) At 1:00pm, Pacific Time, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will sit en banc to re-hear the recall case. Most legal scholars feel that the court will overturn the ruling of the 3-judge panel from last week that ordered the election postponed.
(Review) Mickey Kaus writes that, due to a complaint from the California Legislature's Latino Caucus, Dan Weintraub's "California Insider" blog on the Sacramento Bee's web site will now require editorial approval for every item he posts.
So, it's not really a blog any longer, I don't guess. At least not in the sense that it provides us with Dan Weintraub's unexpurgated views. It's just another arm of the paper, now, and will only print what his editors allow.
Maybe it's time for him to begin a new blog, outside of the Sac Bee web site.
(Review) Even though Canadians get cheaper prescription drugs that Americans, it doesn't always mean that the Canadian system is better. If you don't believe that, Sally Pipes advises, then ask any Canadian.
(Review) Bret Stephens advises us to pity the French, but also to remind ourselves that their problems are their own fault.
In their addiction to state subsidies -- from unemployment insurance to pension plans to government make-work to corporate bailouts -- the French are peerless. But the well's gone dry. Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is bravely attempting to pare spending. He will not succeed. Future national crises will ultimately push this government into doing what French governments always do: capitulate.
At some point, of course, successive capitulations will lead to a general collapse. France may be eternal, but it's not for nothing that the current constitutional arrangement is known as the Fifth Republic. Its problem is not political. Nor is it social or economic. Its problem is Frenchness itself. Other countries confronted by militant trade unions, for instance, have broken them. That's what Margaret Thatcher did in Britain. Other countries confronted by a broken welfare system have fixed it. That's what Bill Clinton did in the United States. Other countries whose governments were heavily invested in their own economies have sold off state assets. That's what Ernesto Zedillo did in Mexico.
But not France. Trade unionism, indulgences for the indolent, a collusive relationship between industry and government -- that is France. So is the endless summer vacance, the short working hours, the general attitude of entitlement. In France, as in places like Japan, what's lacking isn't economic or educational or technological resources. These they have in spades. What they lack is an ability to change. Yes, France is eternal: The nation of Napoleon III is the same as the nation of Henri Phillippe Petain is the same as the nation of Jacques Chirac. Progress has not intervened. The mind-set that brought France to its crises of the 1930s operates today.
And 10,000 dead in the recent heat wave--when temperatures soared to near those of, say Dallas--is just the latest example of France's perennial failure.
(Review) Economist Alfred Tella writes that our big jumps in productivity signal good things about the economy in general. But it can also mean bad things for employment prospects and, by extension, the president's chances for reelection.
(Review) A new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California shows 53% of likely voters want to recall Gray Davis.
Among candidates, their support shows as:
Further proof, I think, that if Republicans want to have a chance at winning the governor's office, McClintock needs to go away. That 18% undecided vote is still a huge player in determining who wins the center seat if Davis is recalled, and McClintock is s spoiler if anywhere near half of those voters swing Bustamante's way.
And, since 67% think the upcoming debate on Wednesday is important, it means that Schwarzenegger has to shine like a superstar during that debate in order to get that 18% to break his way.
(Review) John Craig writes up President Bush's vulnerabilities, and gives the Dems a few ideas about how to beat him.
[W]hile three out of four Americans believe the world is more dangerous place than it was two years ago, 57 percent of the public also believes that it is more important for Bush to focus on the economy than to fight terrorism. This recommends a Democratic strategy that focuses on Bush's policies.
"War on terrorism." "Homeland security." What exactly do these phrases mean, Mr. President, and where are the concepts that undergird them leading us? Mr. Bush and the Republicans win the patriotism argument, so you do not attack post-9/11 acts head-on, nor appear hopeful, as does the hard left, that Iraq turns out to be a political albatross.
Smoke out our good friend Tom Ridge and get him talking about what an orange alert is in fact and what being able to invoke one does for the citizens of Bangor and Boise. We are two-plus years past the heat of the moment, and it is reasonable to ask about specific long-term divisions of labor between the feds and local law enforcement agencies. Are we going to keep paying a hell of a bill for county police overtime at the airport indefinitely, merely because Washington says we have to? What's the plan?
Environmental matters are another subject that provides political opportunity, if -- and it is always the big if with the Democrats -- the radicals can be kept on the sidelines and the public debate is about realistic economic choices and not a passion play between good and evil. (See drilling for oil, anywhere.) There are many good reasons to reduce emissions to further clean up the air, stop overfishing and befoulment of the oceans, protect forests and energy costs.
The only problem with this advice, and it's not an inconsequential one, is the that the people whose hearts burn redly with the flame of progressivism are the people who actually select the Democratic nominee, all other things being equal. It's difficult to steer a moderate course during the Democratic Party's nomination process. A candidate who follows such advice might very well beat the president in a one-on-one election. But it would be hard for him to win the nomination he needs to get into such a face-off.
(Review) Mark Steyn takes some well-deserved shots at the Democratic Presidential candidates.
Meanwhile, in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, the ''centrist'' candidates hoped to make their stand on the intriguingly nuanced distinction that Bush was far too slow to act on doubtful intelligence re: 9/11 but far too quick to act on doubtful intelligence re: Iraq. It doesn't make much sense but its very lack of consistency is what passes for ''moderation'' in the modern Democratic Party. Unfortunately, the more the moderates attack Bush for his handling of the war, the more the livelier lads on their left attack the moderates for the moderateness of their attacks on Bush. Most of the senators running for the nomination have been tugged so far to the left by the anti-war front-runner Howard Dean, they're now running against their own voting records as much as against the president.
Sen. John Edwards voted for the Patriot Act but is now opposed to it.
Sen. John Kerry voted to authorize war with Iraq but now says that in voting for war, he wasn't actually voting for war. Perish the thought. It never occurred to him that, after getting Kerry's vote in favor of a war, the president would be dumb enough to take him at his word. No, sir. In voting to authorize war, the senator says he was really voting to get weapons inspectors back into Iraq. ''It was right to have a threat of force,'' he says, ''because it's only the threat of force that got Hans Blix and the inspectors back in the country.'' So, when he votes to whack your taxes up, he's really only trying to encourage you to comply with the tax rates that already exist?
And, now that Howard Dean has driven most of his plausible rivals crazy, we have a new Voice of Sanity -- Gen. Wesley Clark, whose responses to questions on the war make the French foreign minister sound like a straight-shooter.
With the president spending August back at the ranch, the Dems and their media chums have had the run of the playpen. And, with assistance from the British press and just about every European government, their big routine for the entire month was: Iraq's a quagmire! The war on terror's a failure! We need to surrender now before things get any worse!
And the net result of this media onslaught? According to a poll in the Washington Post, 69 percent of Americans think Saddam was involved in 9/11.
There are some things that make Bush vulnerable in 2004. The War on Terror, though, really isn't one of them. The people appear to have blocked out a solid consensus to trust W on that.
The trouble is, if they do attack Bush where he's weak, namely the economy, and the soft jobs picture, they run the risk of being dismissed as irrelevant if the War on Terror remains the public's prime concern.
So, the Democrats are playing a weird half-and-half strategy that doesn't make them look like shining lights of strength when it comes to national security.
Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
Photo: AP Photo/Laurent Rebours
(Review) Megan McArdle writes that one of the root causes of the growing income inequality in the United States is based in the growing influx of immigrants.
But I digress. On the subject of inequality, I turn again to Mr Easterbrook's The Progress Paradox, which argues that the increase in inequality (and most of the increase in people without health insurance) is due to immigration. Citing data from the Center for Immigration Studies, he says that we could nearly eliminate inequality if we just shut down immigration. If we do not want to do that, however, a steady influx of uneducated foreigners with a weak social network is going to drag down our statistics.
I suspect that it probably isn't immigration per se that is so bad, although legal immigrants tend to be rather poor, but illegal immigration.
Not only do illegal immigrants tend to be dirt poor, but, being illegal, they are caught between the cracks, as it were, and find it difficult to become anything other than dirt poor. The range of opportunities available to them, outside of day labor or migrant labor, tends to be quite limited. Additionally, they repatriate much of the income they do receive to families back in their home countries, such as Mexico, which alone receives $12 billion per year in foreign income from this.
Naturally, being in this country illegally also makes it more difficult to assimilate, since they have to remain in the "gray" or "black" portions of the economy, for fear of being caught, even if they did have the money for things like ESL night classes, etc., which they don't. So, they must avoid all possible contacts with officialdom, which prevents them from buying houses, engaging in legal contracts, etc., and a whole plethora of things we do every day that weaves the rest of us--legal immigrants included--us into the fabric of society.
Until we are willing to grapple honestly with the issue of illegal immigration--and how to stop it--the problem will continue to fester.
(Review) Howard Bashman writes that the 11-person panel who will hear the re-argument of the recall decision is about as conservative as it is possible for the 9th Circuit to get.
None of the three original judges will sit on the panel, and three other liberal judges have recused themselves due to close ties to the appellant.
The 9th circuit convenes en banc for rehearings like this only about a dozen times per year, and when they do, they usually overturn the 3-judge panel decision.
This appears to about as good a panel as the pro-recall forces could hope for.
(Review) Dan Weintraub notes in his invaluable "California Insider" blog at the Sacramento Bee that Governor Gray Davis was apparently under the impression he was speaking to the Interplanetary Tolerance League Wednesday Night.
My vision is to make the most diverse state on earth, and we have people from every planet on the earth in this state, ah, we have the sons and daughters of people from every planet, of every country on earth, in this state.
The real problem, of course, as Weintraub notes, that Gray Davis actually doesn't have a vision. Or, at least, if he does, he can't articulate it in a way that compels Californians to listen.
(Review) Jill Stewart rounds up the huge turkeys the California legislature has trussed up and sent to Gray Davis' desk for his signature.
Those that don't kill the business climate encroach on property or privacy rights. This is a travesty.
An even bigger travesty is that the California political media don't report on this.
Well, except for Jill Stewart.
(Review) The 9th Circuit will rehear the recall election delay ruling, en banc. The Chief Judge, Mary Schroeder will head the 11-person panel. The rest of the members will be drawn at random. The drawing will include the original three judges who voted to stop the election.
The court will re-hear the case on Monday.
(Review) Ruben Navarette writes that, not content with his new Patriot Act powers, the president wants even more.
Specifically, Bush wants at least three things. He wants federal law enforcement agencies to be able to circumvent judges and grand juries with the issuance of "administrative subpoenas" in terrorism cases. He wants to expand federal death penalty statutes to cover more terrorism-related crimes. And he wants to make it easier to hold detainees in terrorism-related cases without bail.
I think the President has all the power he needs without resorting to "Administrative Subpoenas". Indeed, the very idea has sort of a creepy, Robespierre, French-revolution sort of sound.
I'm all for having terrorists whacked whenever we get the chance, but once the government has these powers the temptation to use them for other things will eventually become overwhelming. The RICO statute sounded like a good idea when it was only going to be used against guys whose names ended in vowels, too. But it didn't stop there.
And even if you think Bush is Plato's perfect ideal of the philosopher-king, the chances are that the next guy won't be.
The Bush Administration is starting to veer into dangerous territory. As Justice Brandeis wrote, "The greatest threats to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."
(Review) Victor Davis Hanson writes that illegal immigration is the root of several of California's biggest problems. Despite that, it's the one issue no one wants to talk about.
Even more damaging than the political aspect, though, is the fact that illegal immigration is creating a de facto apartheid society in California.
Perhaps we can begin talking anew about illegal immigration in moral terms. Do we really expect hard-working youths from central Mexico to work 30 years in construction, hotels or the fields without marrying, having children, losing a job or getting hurt? How can such a worker without legal status, education and mastery of English support a family on $10 an hour when most native Californians cannot on $30? Are we to continue to shrug and offer, "At least the money is better than in Mexico" or "None of our own people will do the work" or "They are going to drive anyway" -- all the surreal platitudes that left, right and center use to condone or ignore the chaos and exploitation?
For more on VDH and the illegal immigration problem, you should read his newest book Mexifornia.
(Review) Daniel Henninger writes in todays Wall Street Journal that Americans are starting to get a bit tired of the constant carping of our European "allies", like France. And Americans were a bit taken aback by the hostility they encountered while traveling there over the past year.
While we're an easy-going people, we have a limit, and we tend to snap when you push us past it. Henninger thinks the Europeans ought to give that a little thought.
You can either get the benign version of the American superpower, the one that comes with American values, such as a belief in self-determination even for the wogs, a version that most likely will include continued support for institutions such as the U.N. Or, amid derision and abuse, you may get the truly realpolitik version, which will be mainly about cold-bloodedly protecting the superpower's commercial interests, and will include little or no interest in the U.N. and similar platforms. Americans are patient. But they aren't punching bags.
Put it this way: Either you can have George Bush's America ("In Iraq, we are helping the long suffering people of that country to build a decent and democratic society"). Or Dirty Harry's America ("But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya--punk?").
For decades, Europeans have regarded their American summer visitors as ill-dressed rubes with little sense of history or the grand, complex world beyond Peoria. In the past two years, Americans have learned a lot about history. Out of that history emerged once again the unique combination of idealism and toughness that brought the U.S. into Iraq, and will keep it there. It would behoove this country's critics to try harder to understand both impulses. If only out of self-interest.
I think everyone wants the nice, friendly superpower, rather than the tight-lipped, touchy one, don't you?
(Review) German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, says all the right things in his New York Times op/ed piece today. And he keeps saying them, right up 'til the very last paragraph.
It's the last para that's the stickler, though.
However, we must not forget that security in today's world cannot be guaranteed by one country going it alone; it can be achieved only through international cooperation. Nor can security be limited to the activities of the police and the military. If we want to make our world freer and safer, we must fight the roots of insecurity, oppression, fanaticism and poverty — and we must do it together.
That is the crux of the argument between the US and Europe, and it isn't going away anytime soon.
To Europeans, "international cooperation" essentially means "European permission". And that might not be such a bad idea, if we actually believed that the Euros were as concerned about our security as we are. The Euros are also a bit discomfited about the idea of using force, partially out of misguided principle, but partially from the knowledge that they are incapable of exercising any of it outside the continent of Europe, and precious little of it there.
(Review) Secretary of State Colin Powell writes that we'll stay in Iraq as long as it takes to get them on their feet, and in charge of their own country.
With our support, the Iraqis have made great progress. But it will take time and money to finish the job. President Bush has asked Congress for $20 billion to help rebuild Iraq's infrastructure. Next month, the international community will meet in Madrid to pledge additional assistance for Iraqi reconstruction. With these funds, and our continued help, I know the Iraqis will take great strides in rebuilding their battered country.
How long will we stay in Iraq? We will stay as long as it takes to turn full responsibility for governing Iraq over to a capable and democratically elected Iraqi administration. Only a government elected under a democratic constitution can take full responsibility and enjoy full legitimacy in the eyes of the Iraqi people and the world.
It will certainly continue to cost us in blood and treasure to do so. But the cost of not doing so would be incomparably greater.
(Review) Arnold Schwarzenegger has released his plan for cleaning up Sacramento:
As governor, Schwarzenegger would support and work to expand a plan pending in the Assembly, SCA 1, to place open records and open-meeting provisions in the California Constitution. The idea is based on a system in place in Florida.
Lawmakers, the governor and the lieutenant governor would be prohibited from raising campaign cash while the state budget was under consideration -- beginning with its unveiling in January and ending with its signing, which can vary tremendously.
Politicians would have to disclose on the Internet all campaign contributions of any amount within 24 hours of receiving them.
Schwarzenegger said he would work to change the constitution to remove redistricting from the Legislature's purview.
These all sound like good ideas, but, since the state budget is the real whopper issue right now, I'd prefer a little more specificity on that.
I love this sentence in the story, though:
Early reviews were supportive from good-government advocates but skeptical from the Legislature and the Governor's Office.
Heh. I'll bet.
Photo: Reuters/Marc Serota
(Review) The California Broadcasters Association has revealed the questions they will be asking the recall candidates in the upcoming debate. I thought I would try my hand at answering them.
How would you propose enhancing revenue and/or what specific cuts would you propose to achieve a balanced budget?
The main problem with California's budget is the excess spending in which we've been engaged. Over the past five years, the combined inflation rate and population increase has been 21%. Over that same period, however, we've increased spending by 40%. The first thing we must do is roll back that extra spending across the board. I would present a budget to the legislature that would cut that extra 19% across the board, in all programs.
We already have more than enough revenue coming in to support spending at that reduced level, which would be the same level of per-capita spending as we had in 1998.
Leaders in the business community are convinced that this state is losing jobs and unable to attract new businesses. If you agree, what are two things you would change to make this a more business-friendly state? If you disagree, what are the misconceptions you would like to correct?
The main problem facing California businesses is the crisis in our Workman's Compensation program. Over the last 18 months, WC premiums have tripled, leaving us with the highest cost WC program in the country, yet one that pays nearly the lowest compensation for workers in the country. Costo Inc. a warehouse retail chain that does business in 36 states, reports that 70% of their corporate WC cost comes from California alone.
Deep, and unflinching reform is needed:
Reforming WC should be the first priority in luring businesses back to California, and keeping our current businesses here.
Second, we must reform our work rules to allow employers--and employees--the flexibility to create work schedules that work best for them. We must eliminate the daily overtime pay requirement, and allow employees and workers to agree to flexible work hours, such as the 10 hour per day, 4 day workweek. By creating overtime standards that are stricter than the Federal standard, we make California less competitive vis a vis other states.
California is not a closed economy. Businesses--and workers--who don't like it here are free to move to the surrounding states, where the business climate is much more congenial. Not only are they free to do so, but they are doing so in the thousands. We need to stop the hemorrhaging of jobs and businesses out of state, by reforming our workplace rules, and workman's comp practices.
How are you going to insure that all Californians have adequate health care?
The issue of health care in California is directly tied to the issue of illegal immigration. The financial burden of illegal immigration on our county health care systems is simply unsupportable. California spends $4 billion on health care for illegal aliens alone. We must encourage the Federal Government, in every way possible, to stem the tide of illegal immigration to this country. Moreover, our local and state law enforcement officials should detain and turn over illegal aliens to the immigration authorities every time they contact them.
At the same time, businesses should be encouraged to provide health insurance to their workers by corporate tax breaks that allow them to deduct the cost of health care premiums for their workers.
But let me be clear: It is not the responsibility of the state to provide health care for it's citizens. We may certainly do so as a matter of conscience for the poorest among us, but the private health care system in the United States is the most advanced in the world, and it is so because it's private.
Everybody talks about wanting a colorblind society but what does that actually mean to you? In other words, how do we know when we have succeeded?
We will know when the government no longer uses racial classifications for any reason. But one sure way to prevent a color-blind society is by requiring the citizenry to constantly identify themselves by primitive racial and tribal affiliations. That, however, is precisely what we have increasingly done over the last two decades.
We cannot eliminate racism from the hearts of men through government fiat, no matter how much we may desire it. All we can do is make race a forbidden classification for any government purpose. As far as the government is concerned, we should not be white, black, or brown. We should all simply be citizens. Not only do I believe this to be the moral course of action, I believe the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment requires this colorblindness by the government.
What should be the top priority for California right now?
The top priority should be cutting state spending, and restraining its rate of growth, by law, to the rate of inflation plus the percentage increase in population. And we should do it by law, in the same way that other states have done.
Legislatures will always spend, if given the chance. They should be prevented from doing so by a governor who is willing to say "no", and state law that caps the rate of spending growth.
If elected Governor, will you support the expansion of charter schools in California?
I will not only support the growth of charter schools, I will support the growth of all schools by pushing for voucher programs to give all parents a choice in where to send their children. A state monopoly in education is just as damaging to the public good as any other monopoly. Even public school teachers recognize that, based on the rate at which they send their own children to private schools.
Public schools in California are bloated, stuffed full of unnecessary administrative expenses, and prone to waste valuable educational time on things other than the "Three Rs". Competition will require that public schools correct those excesses.
Moreover, the suggestions made by Capistrano Unified School District Superintendent James Fleming for budget flexibility and for restructuring school finance should be adopted by the state legislature. This will vastly improve the budget outlook for California's public schools.
What do you expect to accomplish in the time remaining on Gray Davis’ term that he could not?
The problem isn't that Gray Davis didn't accomplish anything while he was governor. It's just that the things he accomplished were mostly bad. Bad for the state, bad for the budget, and bad for the people.
He accomplishments include:
These are precisely the type of "accomplishments" that California doesn't need.
What I expect to accomplish that Davis did not is to say "no" to the legislature when it comes to spending money we don't have. I will say "no" when the legislature asks to raise taxes and increase the burden on the state's citizens, who already pay more state taxes than the citizens of nearly every other state.
What is the single most important piece of legislation either signed or vetoed during this past legislative session?
The Driver's License bill is currently the worst, because it allows anyone with a Tax ID number and some other form of ID to obtain a drivers license. This is an invitation to fraud, and identity theft, as well as a homeland security hole that terrorists will be eager to exploit.
Do you support reducing the Vehicle License Fee (car tax), and if so, where would you find the revenue to replace the loss to the budget?
I do not support the Car Tax. Registration of vehicles should be an administrative matter, not an invitation to more taxation. At most, registration of a vehicle should cost a nominal, set registration fee of no more than $75.00 per year.
Because the Car Tax is based on the value of the vehicle, it has some unpleasant side effects. It contributes to poorer air quality because it prevents the replacement of older, more polluting vehicles with newer cleaner ones by increasing both the initial and annual costs of owning the new vehicle. It slows the economy because it substantially increases the cost of buying a new car, encouraging buyers to put off new purchases.
As far as replacing the revenue the car tax provides, well, I wouldn't.
The problem California is facing is not that we have insufficient revenue. The problem is that that state spending increased by 40% in four years. When a person goes on an insupportable spending spree, they can't make up for it by ordering their employer to increase their salary. By the same token, the state legislature shouldn't be able to use the law to force their employers, the people of California, to provide more revenue to provide the money to support their champagne and caviar spending habits.
We don't need Car Tax revenue. We need spending restraint in Sacramento.
What services will your Administration expect local governments to provide and what stable source of revenue will you give them to do it?
The most important services are obviously police and fire protection, and emergency health care, although, of course, cities often provide much more.
City finance in California is fairly precarious because the appetite for spending in Sacramento has turned cities into net donors to the state treasury. Currently, California cities receive less than $300 million in state assistance. That's 0.5% of the General Fund. At the same time, property tax revenues shifted away from the cities to the state through the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF) amount to more than $800 million.
Sacramento has been ruthless in appropriating more and more local revenues for state purposes, and it must stop. Cities and counties need the access to those stable property tax revenues that Sacramento has stolen from them. Even if we eliminated state assistance to cities, while repealing their ERAF extractions, cities would receive a revenue stream of more than $500 million, compared to the $300 million they currently receive.
That would completely eliminate the need for a large state revenue stream to the cities, and would give cities control over the much larger revenue stream from their own tax base once again.
Under Governors Pat Brown and Ronald Reagan, California spent up to 20% of its General Fund on Infrastructure - such as roads, bridges, colleges, hospitals and water systems. Now we spend closer to 1%. Proposition 53 on the ballot raises that figure to 3%. What are your positions on Prop. 53 and what will you do to invest more in California's aging infrastructure?
We must upgrade our transportation infrastructure. Our population growth has far outstripped the abilities of our roads and highways to keep up. Anyone who has had to take the daily commute in LA, San Diego, or San Francisco knows that we don't have enough highway to handle the increases in traffic.
Our water facilities are, in many cities, 70 or 80 years old, and many Californians are so concerned about their water quality that they regularly buy bottled water, rather than use tap water for drinking or cooking. We must upgrade those facilities to ensure safe and clean water.
The legislature has essentially ignored California's infrastructure for twenty years, preferring to spend money on a wide variety of programs that fail to address the basic infrastructure that serves as the basis for our economy. We must set aside a larger portion of our budget to repair our aging water, transportation, educational, and sewer treatment facilities. By 2020, California's population is expected to reach 45 million people, and the legislature currently has no plan to upgrade our infrastructure to support the expected population.
As our population continues to age, the demand for government services to seniors will increase dramatically during the next decade. What do you intend to do to proactively manage this demand?
Much of the answer lies in my response to the previous question. Adequate infrastructure spending must be committed to our seniors, though the creation of senior centers, and the enlargement of hospital facilities to handle the increased demands of an aging population.
At the same time, as a large number of Californians retire, the state's tax revenues will flatten out as they leave the work force. The legislature has so far shown no sign that they are aware of how this demographic trend will affect either revenues or spending. As the nature of our population changes, so must our spending priorities.
Government cannot be all things to all people, nor can it fund every pleasing-sounding program that comes before the legislature. We must concentrate our state spending on vital government programs, and on eliminating wasteful or unnecessary ones. We must shift spending from peripheral programs to those that are most needed by our citizens.
(Review) That, according to John Derbyshire, is the age we're living in.
He doesn't like it much.
(Review) The folks at the Field Poll think they know why results of the LA Times' poll is so different from all the other recall polls, and weighted so heavily toward success for the Democrats.
Despite the fact that, according to the Times own polling, only 10% of the electorate in California is Black or Asian, the Times poll oversampled so that 18% of respondents in the Times recall polls are black or Asian. Blacks, of course, are overwhelmingly opposed to the recall, and Asians tend to be split down the middle.
So, the Field Poll people have some questions for the LA Times.
In the absence of any reporting by the Times Poll as to the relative sizes of their black/African- American and Asian subgroups and how they divided in their voting preferences on the recall, we offer these observations for consideration. The September Field Poll found that 6% of the likely voters in its sample were black/Africans-American voters and 7% were Asians/others. Last year, in a statewide exit poll conducted by the Times, it was found that 4% of all voters in that election were black/African-Americans and 6% were Asians.
Why did the size of the unreported racial/ethnic subgroups in latest Times Poll amount to 18%, when according to its own exit poll, blacks and Asian voters combined comprised just 10% of all voters in the last general election? Did the Times Poll sample include a proportionate number of black/African-Americans or a disproportionately large number, whose inclusion, due to their strong opposition to the recall, could have skewed their poll results? And, what about the preferences of Asian voters, who historically tend to be more divided in their voting preferences on partisan matters? If there were imbalances in these minority group cells, were they weighted to bring them into conformity with historical voting patterns? If not, why not?
Gotta love that LA Times, huh? No bias there.
This simply isn't the type of error one makes by accident. Either the Times' pollsters are rank incompetents, or the results have been intentionally...uh...massaged.
(Review) According to the San Francisco Chronicle, voter interest in this recall election is phenomenal.
With fewer than three weeks until a scheduled Oct. 7 election, state elections officials report nearly 400,000 Californians have already voted, although the election may be put off until March.
That's nearly 5% of the electorate that has already voted. Essentially, the election has already begun. Imagine if a court stopped an election at 9:00 AM on election day. And people are still requesting ballots.
"As a matter of fact, I think we've had even more requests," said Alma Rosas, spokeswoman for the Santa Clara County elections department. "We haven't seen a slowdown of it."
"We're swamped," added Tehama County Registrar of Voters Mary Alice George, where one in every 27 voters have already spoken through absentee ballots.
I simply cannot believe that an unelected judiciary can blithely stop a constitutionally-mandated, democratic election.
But I'm not surprised. Shocked and saddened maybe. But not surprised.
(Review) Californians will vote on either Oct 7 or Mar 2, for Proposition 54. This proposition will ban the collection of any racial data by the state of California, for any purpose whatsoever.
Shelby Steele writes in support of Prop 54 for today's LA Times.
A great problem for black Americans is that we are so often squeezed into statistical aggregates. We are inner-city crime rates or high infant mortality rates or disproportionate drug arrests, high dropout rates, the highest rates of homicides and so on. For decades now, a sociological identity made up of tragic and disgraceful statistical profiles has been all but imposed on us. We are the most statistically described group in human history. But it hasn't helped, and it never will.
It is hard to find ourselves as simple human beings amid all this sociological description, hard to see simple human solutions to problems so abstracted and politicized by race. If Proposition 54 — which will go before California voters either Oct. 7 or in March — ultimately became national law we would lose nothing more than a capacity to argue. But blacks and other minorities would gain a precious racial invisibility that would only make us more visible as human beings.
As Steele notes, it is not possible to attain Dr. King's goal of a color-blind society by following the path of race-consciousness.
(Review) To Friedman writes in the NY Times that France is not our friend, but, rather, is becoming our enemy.
(Review) James Lileks comments on the 9th Circuit:
[I]magine you've been asked to complete the sentence "I'm pleased that that the courts have canceled the election before it took place, because . . ."
I wouldn't know what to say. And I’m fascinated by those who leap to finish the sentence. They’re perfectly comfortable with the courts calling off a vote in advance. Wow: jaw, meet Mr. Floor.
04 is going to be bloody, and it’ll be bloodier still after that. This is the sort of stuff that infects the body politic to the point where people demand that we saw off a limb, because the smell is too horrid. This is the stuff that leads to Constitutional Conventions.
Yes, as it stands right now, we hold democratic elections only at the sufferance of Federal Courts.
I'm pretty sure that's exactly what the Founders had in mind.
(Review) Bill Saletan accuses his fellow Liberals of outright lying in their attempts to blame the Republicans for all bad things.
(Review) Barbara Lerner writes that removing Yasser Arafat, either by exile from Palestine or exile from this vale of tears, won't solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem.
Palestinian leaders made it plain all along, in Arabic: There are no Palestinian leaders who want peace. There never were. Oslo was a sucker's game from the start...and the Palestinian Authority is what it has always been: A terrorist organization at war with Israel and the West, willing to settle for nothing less than total victory, starting with Israel's total destruction. ...
Palestinians, too, are ruled by gangs of despotic, terrorist thugs, but unlike the Iraqis, the average Palestinian doesn't hate his home-grown oppressors. He admires them inordinately, and identifies with them with a sick passion. Asked whether there should be more terrorist attacks, 60 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza said yes; asked whether the Palestinian Authority should arrest Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, 88.8 percent said no. The upshot is that when Howard Dean and his domestic look-alikes join with the roadmap's U.N. and EU sponsors, pressing George W. Bush to quit trying to create a peaceful Iraqi state and to redouble his efforts to create a peaceful Palestinian state in-stead, he can tell them, in all honesty, that America cannot create peaceful states. We can only offer people the chance to do that for themselves. We made that offer to the Iraqi people and to the Palestinian people. The Iraqi people accepted our offer, and we won't desert them now. The Palestinian people rejected it, over and over again, for ten long, bloody years, and now, it's time to take that offer off the table.
(Review) Walter Williams responds--tongue in check--to those who criticize his support of Free Trade.
(Review) Even the editors of the Washington Post are on my side, vis a vis the 9th Circuit.
Just about every election in this country sees some disparity among the voting technologies deployed by different counties. This fact has not previously caused federal courts to block elections. Nor did Bush v. Gore require that all counties use technologies producing equivalent rates of error. The Supreme Court majority was concerned with a retroactive recount of already-cast votes, in which -- in its judgment -- basic standards of fairness could have been ensured but were not. The result was that identically marked ballots were being counted differently. As explained by Justice David Souter, these problems are of "a different order of disparity" from regional variations in voting machines -- which, he noted, the Constitution "does not forbid . . . even though different mechanisms will have different levels of effectiveness in recording voters' intentions."
I hope the 9th Circuit is getting a wake-up call that will allow it to overturn its own panel, rather than getting spanked by The Supremes.
(Review) Fouad Ajami writes in a lengthy Foreign Affairs article that the world is full of anti-Americanism, and it has very little to do with George W. Bush. It is about the burden of modernity, and the Luddite reaction to it. And there is little we can do to change that.
The United States need not worry about hearts and minds in foreign lands. If Germans wish to use anti-Americanism to absolve themselves and their parents of the great crimes of World War II, they will do it regardless of what the United States says and does. If Muslims truly believe that their long winter of decline is the fault of the United States, no campaign of public diplomacy shall deliver them from that incoherence. In the age of Pax Americana, it is written, fated, or maktoob (as the Arabs would say) that the plotters and preachers shall rail against the United States— in whole sentences of good American slang.
It is who we are, you see, not who leads us that is the problem.
(Review) Robert Samuelson reviews the current employment picture, which is, unfortunately, still a bit creaky. But, he writes, things aren't all bad.
There are grounds for hope. One is that job losses are exaggerated. The government has two employment surveys: a payroll survey of 400,000 business establishments (firms report how many people they employ) and a survey of 60,000 households (people are asked who's working and who's looking for work). Only the payroll survey shows continuing job losses. The household survey indicates a 1.8 million gain since January 2002. The payroll survey misses hiring by new companies, goes the argument; they are not in the sample. Unfortunately, the case is shaky. About 60 percent of the reported job gain occurred in one month (January 2003) and seems mostly to reflect statistical adjustments. Another question mark involves a huge jump in the self-employed, almost 600,000 in a year; many of these "jobs" may be wishful thinking.
The stronger case for optimism lies elsewhere. Corporate retrenchments may be slowing, and other sources of job loss -- weak overall demand, an expanding trade deficit -- may be ebbing. "As companies see the recovery take hold, they'll start to hire," says Nariman Behravesh, chief economist of Global Insight, a forecasting service. Its model predicts monthly job gains later this year (50,000 to 60,000) and greater gains next year (100,000 to 200,000). These would absorb the natural increase in the labor force but would not be large enough
Let's hope he's right.
(Review) David Frum answers that question.
If any one figure sums up the illusions and errors of the 1990s, it is Clark. Clark was the general who led the U.S. into a purely humanitarian war in Kosovo – at exactly the moment that the Clinton administration was disregarding the gathering threat to the United States from Middle Eastern terrorism. Clark has criticized the supposed and alleged errors of U.S. planning in Iraq – notwithstanding that his campaign in Kosovo was based on an unending series of errors, above all his claim that his air campaigns could destroy Serbian military capabilities without harming the Serbian civilian population.
Plus, let's not forget, almost starting WWIII with the Russians during that campaign, by ordering the Brit troops under his command to oppose the Russian's landing at a Serbian airfield.
The Brit refused, referred it to his national chain of command, who then talked to the US chain of command, where cooler heads ultimately prevailed.
After the minimum decent interval, Clark was given his walking papers, and sent into early retirement.
(Review) Debra Saunders writes that the 9th Circuit's claim that the California Secretary of State had officially ruled the punch-card ballot system to be unacceptable is untrue.
The panel ruled that the recall election should be postponed until March 2, 2004, when all counties should have replaced their punch-card systems. The judges also noted that former California Secretary of State Bill Jones, a Republican, "officially" deemed punch-cards to be "unacceptable."
Wrong, bristled Jones on Monday. Jones noted that after Florida 2000, he pushed for California to modernize its balloting systems by 2006. The ACLU and other organizations sued the state to dump punch-card ballots more quickly. A federal judge in Los Angeles picked March 2004 as the deadline -- and the parties agreed.
"If I had thought these systems were so egregious, I would not have" suggested keeping punch cards until 2006, said Jones. He asked: If the ACLU believed that punch-card ballots disenfranchised voters, "why didn't they appeal that decision" for the 2002 elections?
If you're counting, that's three central pillars of the 9th Circuit's argument that have fallen today, with two of them being apparently factually incorrect, and one being based on questionable data.
A former aide to [Democrat] Jerry Brown when he was secretary of state, [UCLA law professor Daniel] Lowenstein described the Monday ruling as "one of the worst instances of judicial interference with elections that I've ever seen and I've been active in this field for about 30 years."
So, really, it was just another run-of-the-mill decision for the 9th.
In contrast, the present decision attacks states' rights at their very core. The short election period is central to California's political integrity. Its constitution places a limit of six months on this extraordinary process. By extending the election beyond this period, the court condemns the state to an extended period of political paralysis.
While California's punch cards are obsolete, they have worked well enough for decades. And while there is a chance of fiasco this time, there is a certainty of a widespread disruption of precious First Amendment freedoms. Instead of delaying the vote, the court should have focused on more concrete problems. For example, it could have ordered the state to open more polling places in heavily minority areas.
Instead of concentrating on concrete remedies that might have solved the perceived equal protection problems, the court went directly to the nuclear option of preventing a the people of California from holding a constitutionally-mandated democratic election.
The state constitution mandates a quick election not only, as Ackerman writes, to prevent political paralysis, but also to prevent the opposite, political activism.
Since the recall was certified, the legislature and the governor have been engaged in an orgy of legislation designed to get every possible leftist policy enshrined in state law prior to the governor's dismissal. The short election period is designed to limit the damage an outgoing official can do.
Perhaps now you're getting a glimpse of why the 9th Circuit is the most overturned circuit in the nation. In the 2002 term, 26 of 27 cases decided by the 9th Circuit were overturned by the Supreme Court.
That's a record of incompetence and unwarranted judicial activism that's hard to beat.
(Review) There's a reason why libertarians and conservatives often wonder if Leftists are incapable of reasoning rationally, and the 9th Circuit's decision on the California recall provides a brilliant example of why this is.
The left side of the blogosphere is in the throes of rapture, claiming that Bush v. Gore has now hoist conservatives on their own petard.
I can only assume that's because they can't read plain English, or more likely, can't be bothered to read for comprehension at all.
The 9th Circuit claims the following:
Plaintiffs’ claim presents almost precisely the same issue as the Court considered in Bush, that is, whether unequal methods of counting votes among counties constitutes a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. In Bush, the Supreme Court held that using different standards for counting votes in different counties across Florida violated the Equal Protection Clause. 531 U.S. at 104-07. The Plaintiffs’ theory is the same, that using error-prone voting equipment in some counties, but not in others will result in votes being counted differently among the counties. In short, they contend that a vote cast in Los Angeles or San Diego is entitled to the same weight as a vote cast in San Francisco.
Really? The plaintiff's theory is the same?
In Bush the Supreme Court wrote:
The question before the Court is not whether local entities, in the exercise of their expertise, may develop different systems for implementing elections. Instead, we are presented with a situation where a state court with the power to assure uniformity has ordered a statewide recount with minimal procedural safeguards.
The issue in Bush concerned the lack of standard rules under which a fair recount could be conducted, because Florida lacked a uniform, statewide set of rules for manual recounts. The Court specifically declined to address the issue of different voting mechanisms in different districts.
So, no, he plaintiff's theory is not the same, at least according to the plain text of Bush v. Gore. To claim otherwise is simply sophistry.
Moreover, under the 9th Circuit's reasoning, every district in the United States would have to use a uniform method of voting, because any different method of voting would be open to legal challenge on grounds of unacceptable error.
And, considering that every method of voting, even manual, handwritten ballots, have a measurable margin of error, what is an unacceptable rate of error, anyway? Because no matter what method you use, there's going to be about a 2%-3% rate of error involved.
As a practical matter, the 9th's decision would make nearly every election, held anywhere, into a legal nightmare, unless a uniform voting system was employed. As Robert Alt writes:
Proponents of the Ninth Circuit's opinion will inevitably argue that the principle is the same — i.e., that voters are being treated differently from county-to-county. This fails to recognize that, while subject to error, the punchcard system is not so unreliable or "different" compared to other systems that it threatens the right to vote, or substantially dilutes votes from county-to-county. By contrast, Florida's different and changing standards concerning how much chad must be removed from similar punchcards for a ballot to qualify as a vote did undermine the rudimentary requirements of equal treatment.
This subtle distinction was lost on the Ninth Circuit, which boldly held that "the effect of using punchcard voting systems in some, but not all, counties, is to discriminate on the basis of geographic residence." While the Left Coast court attempted to limit the reach of its result, it is hard to see how this reasoning does not create a series of ever-increasing obligations for the states.
It simply cannot be true that, after 227 years of holding elections with wildly varying methods of voting, we have now discovered a new Constitutional principle that, in effect, requires every county in the US to use the same voting method, or face a 14th Amendment legal challenge on equal protection grounds.
KFI Radio's Eric Leonard is reporting that there are a couple of fishy things with the ACLU's case against the California recall.
First, the ACLU used a "scientific study" from UC Berkeley in their briefs to show how unreliable the punch-card voting system is. As it turns out, this study was directly funded by a company that makes electronic, touch-screen voting systems.
Second, despite the ACLU's claims that minorities are confused by the punch cards, the Secretary of State's office reports that the highest error rates come from districts with a preponderance of Caucasian voters, not minority districts as the ACLU claims.
So, according to Leonard, of the two central pillars of the ACLU's case, one is based on what may be a biased study on punch cards paid for by a competing manufacturer, and the other is simply factually untrue according the the actual voter records maintained by the state.
I haven't seen any print sources pick this up yet (hence the lack of a link), but KFI is playing it very big this morning. KFI can be heard in Los Angeles (and, indeed, a large portion of the western US) on AM 640.
(Review) It looks like there is some dissension among the 9th Circuit's Judges about whether the three-judge panel made the right decision on the recall. If so, the entire 11-judge court would hear the case en banc.
This would be a good way to overturn the panel's decision without having to send it to the Supremes.
Photo: Reuters/Larry Downing
Photo: Reuters/Chip East
Photo: Reuters/Mike Blake
Photo: AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau
(Review) According to FOXNews:
The Senate voted 55-40 to support a "resolution of disapproval" of new rules approved by the FCC in June. While Democrats lost a couple votes — Sens. Zell Miller of Georgia and John Breaux of Louisiana — and Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina were on the campaign trail rather than the Senate floor, they managed to pick up 12 Republican votes.
I am, in principle, opposed to large aggregations of power, whether it aggregated in the government, or in the hands of large corporations.
This is especially true, I think, when it comes to media outlets. I think we are far better off with a large number of smaller media outlets than a small number of large media outlets.
I think our experience with relaxing ownership rules has been, on the whole, a negative one, and I'm happy to see that 12 Republican Senators feel the same way.
(Review) It's called "prozac", Paul. Look into it.
(Review) Con-Law guy Robert Alt analyzes the 9th Circuits recall decision. He also supplies a brief sketch of the judges who made the decision.
After all, the panel includes Judge Pregerson, who, following the Supreme Court's decision upholding California's three-strikes law, issued a series of dissents stating that he cannot apply the three-strikes law in good conscience. Judge Pregerson makes no attempt to distinguish the cases in which he dissents from the case decided in a contrary fashion by the United States Supreme Court. He does not even attempt to apply a legal rationale for his dissent. Rather, he asserts his own will in place of the legislature which wrote the law, and the United States Supreme Court, which declared that specific law to be constitutional.
Then there is Judge Thomas, who gained notoriety recently for authoring the decision which, by applying a procedural rule retroactively, has the potential to overturn more than 100 capital cases. Judge Thomas issued this decision despite the fact that every other circuit (including, ironically, the Ninth Circuit) had previously found that the principle of law that he on relies does not apply retroactively.
Finally there is Judge Paez, who referred to California's Proposition 209 — a popularly enacted civil-rights initiative which prohibited the use of race as a factor in admissions to state universities — as an "anti-civil rights initiative." Conveniently, the question presented to the court of the whether election may go forward in October affects not only the recall, but the Racial Privacy Initiative sponsored by Ward Connerly. As luck would have it, Mr. Connerly was also the sponsor of Paez's favorite: Prop. 209.
As Alt writes, with a panel made up of these guys, the conclusion was foregone.
(Review) Andrew Peyton Thomas writes that it's time to break up the 9th Circuit.
(Review) Stephen Moore answers the Democrats who argue that the Bush Tax Cuts are causing the projected Federal budget deficits.
The root of the huge deficits has been an inability of Congress and the White House to control their spending appetite. In the past three years, the federal budget has grown more than one-half trillion dollars. Some of this is attributable to justifiable expenses to fight the war on terrorism. But non-terrorism-related federal expenditures are now growing at a faster pace than at any time since Lyndon Johnson was president.
This is much like the 80s. The Congress, controlled then by Democrats, always decried Reagan as a budget-busting spender. Yet, Congress appropriated $157 billion more than Reagan asked for.
There seems to be a Culture of Spending in Washington in general, and in Congress in particular. And Republicans are turning out to be just as bad about it as the Democrats were when they ran the place.
(Review) Ralph Peters is reacting badly to the idea that we bring in Turkish or Arab peacekeepers into Iraq.
I spent the past week in Germany, speaking with our soldiers, from generals to privates. Some were just returning from Iraq, while others were about to deploy. I did not hear a single complaint about the mission. Even I was surprised by the optimism and commitment of our troops and their leaders. Our soldiers love their work and do it well.
But every soldier, no matter the rank, with whom I raised the subject of Turkish, Pakistani or Arab peacekeepers coming to Iraq agreed it was a crazy, fatal idea.
We can't be a superpower on the cheap. We started this, and we have the wealth, power and troops to finish it. Better to compromise on tax cuts than to compromise on the outcome in Baghdad. If President Bush, acting on foolish advice, transforms victory into defeat in Iraq, the effect upon our security will be worse than that of a hundred Mogadishus.
Don't squander this opportunity, Mr. President, by taking the politically easy course.
(Review) Former LA Mayor Richard Riordan weighs in on the 9th Circuit's decision, in this morning's LA Times.
In reaching its result, the 9th Circuit ignored well-settled law. The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized the need to give individual localities the flexibility to adopt voting systems that are best tailored to their unique circumstances, even though some counties will inevitably be better than other counties at counting. This has never been considered a constitutional problem by Supreme Court justices on either side of the ideological spectrum. This was affirmed by the Supreme Court in Bush vs. Gore by both the majority and the dissent. The majority explicitly held that its decision did not change the right of different counties to use different systems. Justice John Paul Stevens, in his dissent, reaffirmed the right of states "to delegate to local authorities certain decisions with respect to voting systems," even though there may be "enormous differences in accuracy."
This is the most important paragraph of the article, in that it points out that the 9th Circuit shouldn't even be involved here. The Supreme Court has already addressed this question, and the 9th Circuit knows it. Both the majority and minority opinions in Bush v. Gore held this same interpretation.
So, the current Supreme Court has already addressed the Voting Rights issues of the 9th Circuit's decision. What remains, then, is purely a matter of state law, and a conflict between the state constitution and the state Election Code. As such, it is a matter for the state courts, all of which have upheld the state constitution.
But wait, there's more!
Nor does the 9th Circuit decision make sense practically. The 9th Circuit enjoined the Oct. 7 election because of imperfections in the voting systems, even though they were the same systems that elected Davis in the first place — not once but twice. For some reason, the systems that put him in office are somehow not good enough to remove him from office.
More important, the 9th Circuit ignored the undisputed evidence that the new systems that would be implemented in March 2004 were untested at best and would probably produce additional voting problems.
What will be unveiled in March is not the latest generation of touch-screen voting, but an InkaVote system that has never been used anywhere in the country.
The InkaVote system is just like the punch card system, except instead of punching out a chad, it inks the little box. Other than that, it is essentially the same system as the Vote-Matic.
And of course, my earlier point still applies. The counties in question could just use pencil and paper and vote manually. Instead, the 9th Circuit just decided to disenfranchise the whole state.
So, is that the standard now? If the Federal courts don't like the way we do elections, they can just stop them?
Is this really the precedent we want to set?
(Review) Charles Krauthammer thinks he has the answer.
Whence the anger? It begins of course with the "stolen" election of 2000 and the perception of Bush's illegitimacy. But that is only half the story. An illegitimate President winning a stolen election would be tolerable if he were just a figurehead, a placeholder, the kind of weak, moderate Republican that Democrats (and indeed many Republicans) thought George Bush would be, judging from his undistinguished record and tepid 2000 campaign. Bush's great crime is that he is the illegitimate President who became consequential — revolutionizing American foreign policy, reshaping economic policy and dominating the political scene ever since his emergence as the post-9/11 war President.
Yeah, I can see where that'd be kinda upsetting.
It doesn't explain why Bill Clinton touched off such visceral hatred on the right, though. His first two years aside, Clinton turned out to be a fairly moderate president, and even co-opted a fair number of Republican issues as his own.
The division between the Left and Right is deep and wide, and I don't think it's going to get better anytime soon.
Well, Israel has decided they won't kill Yasser Arafat. And that makes the UN giddy with delight.
The chief U.N. envoy to the Middle East, Terje Roed-Larsen, told the Security Council the peace process has broken down and that he fears even worse bloodshed lies ahead. He accused both Israelis and Palestinians of failing to "seriously and actively" address each other's concerns, and stressed that Arafat is the democratically elected leader who "embodies Palestinian identity and national aspirations."
And just when does President Arafat's term end?
Don't both answering that. It's a rhetorical question. His term never ends, because his "democratic election" wasn't to an office with a fixed term. It was, instead, a way to coat his position with a thin veneer of civilization and legitimacy, after which he can rule as President for Life.
It's quite possible that there can't be a Mideast peace deal even if Arafat gets whacked (which is, I hasten to add, my personal preference, since God knows he deserves it). But there certainly won't be peace as long as he has anything to do with it.
While various countries sought to pressure Israel to soften its stance, Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qureia asked the Fatah party to choose candidates for up to 16 of his 24 Cabinet posts -- a decision that gives Arafat significant control over the composition of the new Cabinet.
Yeah, I can already see the blazing path to success that Qureia is forging.
(Review) Wesley Clark is throwing his hat into the ring.
(Review) Well, now that I've had the time to ponder the 9th Circuit's decision on the recall, I'm a bit upset over the decision. And, of course, I'm not the only one.
Chapman University law professor John Eastman, who directs the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence at the Claremont Institute, was particularly critical of the 9th Circuit's decision.
Eastman said the attorneys in this case had reached a settlement with Shelley last year that punch-card ballots would be discontinued in March 2004. Shelley acknowledged the inferiority of punch-card ballots, but statewide elections in 2002 were allowed to proceed.
"If the punch-card ballots are illegal," Eastman said, "does that mean that the manner in which the current governor was elected is illegal, so we now have a vacancy in that office as well as every other statewide office? It's rather extraordinary to stop the recall using the same procedures that were used to put [Davis] in office in the first place."
The problem I have with the decision goes deeper than Eastman's though.
The basic issue in the case is that the California Constitution's requirement to hold the recall election within 80 days of its certification conflicted with California election law, in that, once the Secretary of State has decertified a voting method, it is no longer supposed to be used.
After the 2000 election fiasco with the Vote-Matic machines in Florida, the Secretary decertified those machines, and directed that all counties replace them with the new touch-screen system by 2006. The ACLU took the state to court, saying that 2006 was to long a time, and the end result was that the date was moved back to March 2004 for their replacement.
Because the machines couldn't be replaced in time for the 2002 election, they were allowed to be used.
Now, of course, the ACLU argued that the intent of the agreement in that case was to ban the use in statewide elections after 2002. Because the recall was an unforeseeable election, the target date of March 2, 2004 was chosen because it was the next general election. The ACLU argued that the use of Vote-Matics in this statewide election violated the earlier agreement.
The 9th Circuit essentially decided that the decertification of the Vote-Matic system supersedes the California Constitution's requirement to hold the election within a specific time frame.
Well, I disagree. For a number of reasons:
And a less drastic remedy does exist. Even if we accept the 9th Circuit's ruling that the Vote-Matic machines can no longer be used, then the obvious remedy is not to stop the election, but rather to order the affected counties to print paper ballots, and conduct the vote manually.
Give each voter a paper ballot and a #2 pencil and let them place a check mark or an X in the appropriate box. Then, we don't have to worry about the reliability of the Vote-Matic machines at all.
The other problem with the ruling is also addressed by John Eastman, who makes a point I've made in this journal many times before.
"If [judges] operate unfettered, they really become tyrannical," Eastman said. "It doesn't matter if it's a king, a parliament or a body of judges. Anytime they have no check on their authority, they tend to become tyrannical."
Imagine this story were to take place in, say, Russia. An unpopular president faces an election where he faces being turned out of office. Then, just a few weeks before the election, a court whose members are from the same party as the president, stops the election on technical grounds.
What would we say about that?
And why is this any different?
It's nothing more than banana republic politics, cloaked in sonorous Constitutional phraseology.
Here in California we've had several occasions in the past few years in which we've passed ballot measures, such as Prop 187 which would have denied public services to illegal aliens, only to see the 9th Circuit gut them.
Whatever else this may be, it certainly isn't democracy. We are moving ever closer to a judicial oligarchy, where unelected, lifetime-tenured judges, overturn democratically chosen public policies at their will.
It's past time for Congress to take a look at reigning in the Federal Judiciary, especially in matters of state law.
(Review) the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has halted the California Recall election, saying that the use of punch card machines in some counties is unacceptable.
Although they were perfectly acceptable a year ago to elect Gray Davis.
So, I guess this will be going to The Supremes pretty quick, where I suspect it will be overturned, just like practically everything the 9th Circuit sends to there.
(Review) William Raspberry thinks that school vouchers and other programs are only fair. After all, why shouldn't poor black children have the same sort of choices that rich white ones have?
[T]here is something that troubles me about the anti-voucher crowd as well. Much of the opposition comes from middle-class folk whose own children attended (or had the option of attending) nonpublic schools. And the question that won't go away is: If choice is good for middle-class children, why is it bad for poor children who, without some sort of subsidy, may find themselves stuck in underperforming schools?
Stuck is the right word. Whenever there's an opportunity for poor parents to move their children out of low-performing schools -- whether that opportunity is a public subsidy (as in Milwaukee), a private scholarship or a low-cost Catholic school, there's no shortage of takers. The conclusion has to be that they hadn't left earlier because they had no choice.
Before he makes this announcement, though, he is careful to take about 10 paragraphs to explain that, for the most part, he finds the people who push for public school vouchers to be offensive because they're, you know, Republicans.
(Review) The Financial Times responds to Sweden's rejection of the euro with the following sage advice for the Euro-Zone countries.
Outside the single currency, Sweden has recently enjoyed higher growth, lower unemployment and lower inflation. Inside, voters saw economic stagnation and turmoil over budget deficits. The European Central Bank has been criticised for keeping interest rates too high for too long, while smaller countries have lambasted France, in particular, for flouting the stability and growth pact. The euro cannot be blamed for structural problems in France, Germany and Italy - which have deeper roots - but it is unsurprising that the Swedes opted to stick with what they knew.
Potential benefits are still there for countries that join the euro - notably in higher inward investment, exchange rate stability and lower interest rates. It is vital, though, that eurozone countries speed up reforms and agree budget rules they can adhere to. These changes are needed for the economic health of the 12 existing members, regardless of any newcomers.
Of course, there no indication at all that the Euro-Zone countries are interested in embarking on these types of reform. The governments of both France and Germany are not willing to face up to the powerful unions in those countries that would oppose the deep reforms necessary to rationalize their economies.
At some future point, both countries will be forced into reform, if for no other reason, than because their defined-benefits pension schemes will be unfundable before too long.
Still, despite years of lackluster economic performance, nearly zero job growth, and high structural rates of unemployment, they have resisted every call to reform their iron-clad labor market rules. That doesn't strike me as the type of mind-set that will be swayed by an FT editorial.
And that doesn't bode well for the European dream of creating a single currency that can compete with the US dollar.
(Review) The editors of the Christian Science Monitor have it exactly right.
The math is fairly simple: Most Golden State GOP activists are conservatives. Most voters at present are not. This is not Ronald Reagan's California: The electorate's political and demographic fault lines have shifted markedly since 1990; registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 44 percent to 35 percent. Conservative GOP candidates can coast to victory in certain legislative districts, but they cannot currently garner enough votes to win statewide elections.
With Schwarzenegger, the conservatives can get much of what they want. But they're unhappy with his positions on social issues (abortion, gay rights, gun control) and don't quite trust him on fiscal issues. With McClintock they get a candidate who is ideologically pure, but who will have a difficult time attracting the moderate voters along the coast needed to win election.
Faced with a choice between principle and victory last year, the GOP chose principle - the conservative Mr. Simon defeated former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan in the GOP primary. As a result, the unpopular Governor Davis narrowly won reelection with only 47 percent of the vote.
Despite intense pressure to withdraw, McClintock characteristically vows to stay in the race. His decision may determine the success of California Republicans for years to come.
GOP leaders can talk about their commitment to Conservative principles all they want, but, for the most part, the California electorate doesn't share those principles, at least as far as they relate to social issues. The CAGOP--or, at least, a good part of it--has been stubbornly unwilling to acknowledge that fact.
When a GOP politician like Pete Wilson does, and gets elected, about half of the CAGOP leadership spends their time sniping at him from the sidelines.
Nobody knows how to make the Perfect the enemy of the Good like the CAGOP.
(Review) Michael Barone criticizes the "zero-defects" mentality the press has on issues relating to Iraq, and compares the progress that generals Lucius Clay and Doug MacArthur made in occupying Germany and Japan.
Jean Edward Smith's biography of Gen. Lucius Clay reveals that the first time he read the government's plans for post-World War II Germany was on the flight over there to take charge. William Manchester's American Caesar shows that Douglas MacArthur, however knowledgeable about the Far East, did not have clear ideas on how to rule postwar Japan. Clay and MacArthur improvised, learned from experience, made mistakes, and corrected them, adjusted to circumstances. It took time: West Germany did not have federal elections until 1949, four years after surrender; the peace treaty with Japan was not signed until 1951.
Today's media have a zero-defect standard: the Bush administration should have anticipated every eventuality and made detailed plans for every contingency. This is silly. A good second-grade teacher arrives in class with a lesson plan but adapts and adjusts to pupils' responses and the classroom atmosphere. A good occupying power does the same thing.
The trouble is that it's hard for the Bush Administration to show progress to a press corps that is adamantly opposed to seeing it.
(Review) Jon Henke delivers a delightful little fisking to USA Today's Al Heuharth.
(Review) One of the things I despised wearing when I was a USAF Security Policeman was the BDU uniform, which they started issuing to us around 1987.
First it was heavy and hot in the summer. Second, wearing the blouse outside the pants looked sloppy, and the two lower cargo pockets on the blouse were essentially unusable, because I was always wearing a gun belt with my 9mm pistol and gear, or ammo pouches with 240 rounds for my M-16. And to make matters worse, with the BDUs you couldn't wear belt keepers that attach the gun belt to your pants belt. As a result, your gun belt would slide up to your chest, our want to pull around sideways when getting in and out of a patrol car or Hummer.
Prior to getting the BDUs, we wore the old OD Green utilities, which I liked a lot better. They were lighter, cooler, and you tucked your shirt in so you could keep your gun belt anchored to your pants belt.
The new uniform seems like a vast improvement over what we had to wear since the late 80s. I also like the 3-button Henley-style t-shirt with your name and the USAF logo on it. The wide rigger's belt on the pants is perfect for wearing under a gun belt too.
The linked article has several good, hi-res pictures of the new uniform. It's sharper, and has a distinctive Air Force look to it. Ok, I could do without the 5-pointed USMC-style BDU cap, but I was an SP, but I would never have worn it anyway. I wore the same blue beret that the Lieutenant in the pictures is wearing.
Or does he?
US Policy, foreign relations, foreign actions.......they all have consequences. The consequences may not be "Just" and they may not be "Good".....but they exist all the same. We are not exempt from the laws of cause and effect.
The US has made many decisions in the mid-east....
......some bad (Iran/Contra).
......some unfortunate but justified (support of Saddam in the 80s).
......some good. (repelling Iraq from Kuwait).
......some purely mythical (US giving "permission" for Iraq to invade Kuwait). (never happened, btw)
Actions have consequences and, sometimes, those consequences include events like 9/11.
That doesn't justify what happened on 9/11.....nothing could.
But it does explain it. 9/11 did not happen in a vacuum.
In fact, it was the "good" decision we made which led directly to 9/11.
Ironic, isn't it?
Actually, it isn't so much a disagreement as it is a necessary pointing out that every decision our country makes has a price.
That makes it incumbent upon us to weigh the costs, and determine whether we are willing to pay the price before taking action.
It also means--and this is extraordinarily important--that we must weight the cost of not taking action as well.
I got this from a blog called Daily Adult Joke. Please be advised that while the author of this blog sometimes makes some interesting and pointed comments on public policy, a good portion of this blog is really, really, not safe for work.
And I only looked at this blog because it appears in my referral logs. Really.
(Review) Nick Kristof is in Kartovik, Alaska, and he says that it's becoming seasonably warm, which is a bad thing.
In the past, I've been skeptical about costly steps (like those in the Kyoto accord) to confront climate change. But I'm changing my mind. The evidence, while still somewhat incomplete, is steadily mounting that our carbon emissions are causing an accelerating global warming that amounts to a major threat to the world in which we live.
Alaska has warmed by eight degrees, on average, in the winter, over the last three decades, according to meteorological records. The U.S. Arctic Research Commission says that today's Arctic temperatures are the highest in the last 400 years, and perhaps much longer.
The U.S. Navy reports that in areas traversed by its submarines, Arctic ice volume decreased 42 percent over the last 35 years, and the average thickness of ice below water declined 4.3 feet. The Office of Naval Research warns that "one plausible outcome" is that the summer Arctic ice cap will disappear completely by 2050.
Essentially, he's not skeptical anymore. It's pretty clear that the climate is changing. In point of fact, it's been changing since the Little Ice Age of the 12th-13th centuries, when the global climate was significantly cooler. Since then, the climate has been warming.
The key question is why the climate is warming, and what, if anything, can be done. Kristof thinks he knows.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, reflecting a consensus of scientists, concluded that human activity had probably caused most global warming in recent decades. It predicted that in this century, the seas will rise 4 to 35 inches.
Well, that sounds pretty scary, doesn't it. Sounds like science has the answer already. Or, at least, it would sound that way, if it wasn't for the paragraph that immediately follows the one above.
Some 14,000 years ago, a warming trend apparently raised the sea level by 70 feet in just a few hundred years. Today's computer models don't foresee a repeat of that, but they also can't explain why it happened then.
Ah. I see. So scientists are absolutely sure they know that human activity is the cause of the current warming now but they can't explain why a very similar--and rapid--warming occurred 14,000 years ago.
Of course, we've always known that the earth climate varies quite wildly, and with unpredictable periodicity.
100,000 years ago, there were glaciers practically all the way down to Kansas. 100,000 years before that there weren't. At one time, the earth's climate was all tropical and rain foresty. It may be like that again in the future.
But, since we know the earth's climate has been variable all throughout it's 4.5 billion year history, it seems like a bit of a leap to declare that this time the variation in climate is all our fault.
(Review) John Kurzweil, Editor of the California Political Review, says he'll vote for Tom McClintock because Arnold will harm the California Republican Party.
Return to Republican civil war is inevitable under Mr. Schwarzenegger, just as the civil war was unavoidable under Wilson, a man who "wanted to win" as much as the Terminator does. A strong grass roots structure becomes an automatic brake on and embarrassment to a Party leader who opposes the grass roots' political goals. When Governor Schwarzenegger, for instance, wants a tax hike, he'll know Senator McClintock, among others, will rise in the Legislature, at Party gatherings, before reporters, and on talk radio to point out in detail how destructive to the economy and to GOP fortunes it will be. The governor will know that Mr. McClintock will be cheered by most ordinary Republicans, and by many other Californians, who will then think ill of the governor. So Governor Schwarzenegger, like Wilson before him, will counter-attack, adopting the usual clichés about rigid, right-wing ideologues stuck in the past, uncaring, unpopular, unable to lead, and the press will eat it up.
Maybe he's absolutely right, but I couldn't care less. The chief problem in California right now is not whether the Republican Party will be able to get together, hold hands, and sing "Kumbayah" if Arnold gets elected.
The chief problem in California right now is whether the state will have a decent economic future. So far, it looks like the legislature will get the following laws passed, and signed into law by Gray Davis prior to the Oct 7 recall election:
And that's not all. A future under Cruz Bustamante, the most likely replacement for Gray Davis if McClintock and Arnold split the recall vote, will contain the following bits of prettiness contained in his "Tough Love" plan:
So, at this juncture in our history, pardon me if I'm not all that freakin' concerned about whether the Republican Party can hold pleasant, cordial meetings.
We need a Governor who will say "no" to the legislature. It's that simple. Right now, the best chance of getting that kind of governor, since McClintock doesn't have a hope of getting elected, is by uniting behind Arnold.
Arnold promises that he will be that guy. Unlike Kurzweil, I am inclined to a) take him at his word, and be b) leave the intra-party squabbles of the state's Republicans to be handled later.
The direction the Democrats are taking this state is plain. And it's a lot more scary to me than worrying that Republican get-togethers in the future might be marred by intemperate language.
(Review) Steve Hayward writes in NRO's "Corner" blog:
However, the leftist argument against high corporate salaries is usually based on some egalitarian-inspired notion of "fairness" or "intrinsic merit." This is bosh, of course (see: Hayek), but we should not pass up the opportunity to demand that the left apply the same standards to their friends in Hollywood. This might be one way of shutting them up.
(Review) Read Charles Krauthammer now. I won't even attempt to excerpt it.
Just read it.
(Review) Thomas Sowell writes that the Republicans should come out with a "Contract with Black America" to try and engage African Americans on policies where the Democratic party has failed them.
Education is the most obvious example. Poll after poll shows that most blacks want school vouchers. But Democrats -- black and white alike -- bitterly oppose anything that would offend the teachers' unions, who are among their biggest political backers, in terms of money, votes and the ability to mobilize precincts on Election Day with manpower and phone banks.
The teachers' unions are the 800-pound gorilla of the Democratic Party. So there is no way the Democrats can match what the Republicans can offer black parents on vouchers.
It is not just on the need for school choice, but also the need for school discipline and school safety, that the Republicans can offer what the Democrats cannot.
In an increasingly education-based and high-tech economy, lack of a decent education is a lifetime sentence to the bottom of the pile.
Another exercise in self-righteousness by another key Democratic Party constituency is environmental extremism.
Census data make it painfully clear that blacks are being forced out of many communities where affluent liberal Democrats have had unchallenged control for years and have let the green agenda run amok. In such communities on the northern California coast, the numbers of blacks have fallen absolutely, even while the population as a whole has grown.
Liberal Democrats do a lot of talking about a need for "affordable housing." The time is overdue for Republicans to call them on it, expose their hypocrisy, and get out the message that there is no free lunch -- because those who end up having to pay are often those who can least afford the green agenda.
These aren't bad ideas, especially on education.
Our education system is failing African-American students miserably. No amount of affirmative action, quotas, or set-asides will compensate for the failure to provide quality schools for all children, not just rich, white, suburban ones.
(Review) Terry Eastland writes in the Dallas Morning News that the Democratic filibuster of judicial appointments will damage the Democrats by backfiring against their long-term interests.
One is retaking the Senate in 2004. In the 2002 elections, Mr. Bush made judges an issue as he campaigned for Republican candidates in key states. He repeatedly hammered Democrats – then in charge of the Senate – for their slow and unfair processing of his circuit court nominees...Republicans say the judges issue helped rally their base last fall and may have pulled in voters from the political middle. To what extent it might have done those things isn't really known. But we do know the election results: Democrats lost key states and their Senate majority.
Meanwhile, the Democrats face another problem, which would arise if a Democrat is elected president, and if Democrats – in 2004 or 2006 – were to regain control of the Senate. Why would anyone think a Republican minority, remembering the precedent set by the Democratic minority during the 108th Senate, wouldn't be tempted to filibuster a Democratic president's circuit court nominees?
And who in the Democratic Party would have the credibility to argue against filibustering judges?
There'll probably never be a Federal judge confirmed for the rest of our lives. And why should we be surprised? That's what happens when you politicize the judicial nominations process.
(Review) Now that it's perfectly clear to everyone that Oslo, and it's successor, the Road Map are abject failures, Daniel Pipes offers a new plan for peace. And he bases it on far more realistic grounds.
I propose a radically different approach for the next decade:
- Acknowledge the faulty presumption that underlay both Oslo and the road map: Palestinian acceptance of Israel's existence.
- Resolve not to repeat the same mistake.
- Understand that diplomacy is premature until Palestinians give up their anti-Zionist fantasy.
- Make Palestinian acceptance of Israel's existence the primary goal.
- Impress on Palestinians that the sooner they accept Israel, the better off they will be.
- Conversely, so long as they pursue their horrid goal of extermination, diplomacy will remain moribund, and they will receive no financial aid, arms or recognition as a state.
- Give Israel license not just to defend itself but to impress on the Palestinians the hopelessness of their cause.
When, over a long period of time and with complete consistency, the Palestinians prove they accept Israel, negotiations can be reopened. The sooner we adopt the right policies, the sooner that will be.
It seems to me that this is the only basis on which peace with Israel is possible.
At this point, it seems to me that the Israelis will begin looking at far more drastic options--including the expulsion of all Palestinians from the West Bank and Gazaq--if they feel peace cannot be accomplished with the Palestinians.
So far, the only thing the "peace process" has bought Israel is a large number of dead civilians.
(Review) Yossi Klein Halevi, the Israel correspondent for The New Republic, writes in the LA Times that the Oslo Accords have turned out to be a bitter lesson for the Israeli public.
However problematic, the West Bank settlements aren't the main problem. The reason there is no peace isn't because Jews live in the West Bank city of Hebron but because they live in Tel Aviv.
We have come to this conclusion reluctantly. We desperately wanted to believe that a "new" Middle East was prepared to accept a non-Arab state in its midst and stop confusing the Jewish return home with yet another colonialist invasion. But the Palestinian leadership convinced us that the Oslo process was never about land for peace but, at best, land for a tenuous cease-fire.
The spread of pathological Jew-hatred in the Arab world, where Holocaust denial has become mainstream and where schoolchildren are taught that Jews are usurpers with no historical roots or rights in the Holy Land, only reinforces the unlikelihood of achieving peace anytime soon.
And Yasser Arafat is the prime cause of this failure. Which is why he should go.
(Review) The Sacramento Bee continues its generally excellent recall coverage with a story on this weekend's Republican Party Convention in LA, and the attempts that will undoubtedly be made to get Tom McClintock to get out of the race. That will effectively make it a 2-man race between Arnold and Lt. Gov Bustamante.
Many Republican Party leaders believe that Schwarzenegger's star power, full wallet and centrist appeal are key to wresting away the Governor's Office from Democrats. Schwarzenegger trailed top Democratic contender Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante in a recent poll but was by far the leading Republican. McClintock, meanwhile, likely could not beat Bustamante and instead, some Republicans fear, would split the GOP vote.
"If Bustamante wins this election, I'm going to blame Tom McClintock for it," DeMartini said.
A wave of party leaders, members of Congress and others are expected to privately take McClintock aside during the three-day convention that begins today to try to persuade him to bow out.
Let's hope the arm-twisting can work. McClintock can't beat Bustamante. Arnold can, but probably only if McClintock quits.
You know, maybe it's just me, but take a look at McClintock:
I mean, doesn't he just look a little goofy? Sure, I know he has all the experience, and he a fascinating guy with a wealth of knowledge and unmatched experience in state government. He'd make a fine governor.
But, you know, when you look at him, something just screams "Conservative Ideologue".
(Review) With the recall election looming, CA Gov. Gray Davis is stacking the appointments deck with as many cronies and hacks as he can before he's booted out of office.
With Senate confirmation needed before today's scheduled adjournment of the Legislature, the governor on Thursday pushed through two nominations to the sought-after University of California Board of Regents -- one for a major donor, the other for an icon in the farm worker movement, who helped deliver the Democratic Latino vote in last November's election. Since late July, when the secretary of state certified the Oct. 7 election, Davis also has found spots for union leaders, spouses of elected Democrats and people close to some of his top aides, including his chief of staff and Cabinet secretary.
So, while the legislature crams as many bad bills through as they can, to get them to Davis for signature prior to the election, Davis is doing the same for the state's political appointees.
(Review) The LA Times has released another poll on the california recall. Now, as I've mentioned previously, the Times seems a bit less than unbiased in its polling, but, even with that said, the news for the Times favorites isn't all good.
|Recall Gray Davis|
The news for Bustamante is worse than the plain number above make it appear, though.
Still, the poll found troubles emerging for Bustamante as voters learn more about him. His unfavorable rating surged from 29% in the August poll to 50% in the new one. Rivals have been hammering Bustamante for taking more than $3 million in campaign money from Indian tribes that run casinos — and for refusing to distance himself from a Latino student group that critics view as radical.
Sacramento Bee political columnist Dan Weintraub adds:
This is a big drop from Bustamante's 13 point lead in the last Times Poll, with most of the erosion coming from Cruz's slide rather than Arnold's improvement. The poll also shows some interesting shifts deeper in the numbers. Bustamante’s support among Latinos has declined from 51 percent to 47 percent while Schwarzenegger’s has nearly tripled from 12 percent to 30 percent. McClintock, meanwhile, continues to see his image and rating improve, even among Democrats. The poll also found moderates more inclined to support the recall today than a month ago, even as the overall lead slipped.
The breaks don't really look like they're going the Dems' way on the recall.
(Review) The 9th Circuit Court of appeals--the most overturned court in the United States--is hearing a case bought by the NAACP to stop the recall elections. Appealing a case they lost in District Court, the NAACP argues that minorities and the poor find that using the punch card voting system is too difficult, and the Secretary of State has already declared the punch card system to be obsolete, ordering all California precincts to switch to touch-screen computers by March.
If I was a minority or poor voter, I'm not too sure how pleased I'd be by the NAACP's argument that I'm too stupid to know how to vote using the punch card system.
But, in any event, these arguments might work at the 9th Circuit, since, really, almost any Leftist silliness does.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Harry Pregerson noted during the hearing that the California secretary of state had found the punch-card system unacceptable because of errors.
"So we have to accept the unacceptable. Is that what you're saying?" Pregerson asked lawyers representing the state.
So, the recall election, now scheduled for a little more than three weeks from today, might not happen after all, Despite California's constitutional requirement that it be held.
Not that the actual text of constitutions seems to carry much weight up there in Frisco.
The Sacramento Bee has more on the story.
(Review) The Bush Administration doesn't like the idea of expelling Yasser Arafat.
The Bush administration has notified Israel it is opposed to the expulsion of Yasser Arafat even though "he is part of the problem and not part of the solution" in the tense standoff with the Palestinians.
Well, if he's part of the problem, why not?
"We think that it would not be helpful to expel him because it would just give him another stage to play on," spokesman Richard Boucher said as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government threatened to oust Arafat from the West Bank.
Well, that may be what you lace-panty, striped-pants boys in Foggy Bottom think, but it's about as stupid a statement as I've heard come out of the State Department in a while.
Which is saying a lot, actually.
Maybe he will get another stage to play on. But the freakin' stage he's on now allows him to siphon off millions of dollars of Palestinian Authority money for himself, dole out cash to his pet "militants" and "security forces"--i.e., his personal thugs--while holding a veto power over any peace agreement his feckless "Prime Minister" tries to sign.
You're right about one thing, Dick. He is part of the problem. The biggest part.
Maybe if he was phoning in his criticisms from Morocco, he'd be a little less problematic.
But, I tell you what, I'll compromise. Why don't we just kill the sonuvabitch, and let him play on center stage in hell?
Jezz, I tell you, sometimes I think the only reason we need a Department of Defense is because we have a state Department.
Is it even remotely possible that we'll ever again have a presidential administration that will refuse to kowtow to these Mideastern autocrats?
When Mulay Achmed Mohammed el-Raisuli (The Magnificent) kidnapped Eden Pedicaris, an American citizen in Morocco, Teddy Rossevelt sent in the Marines with a simple order: "I want Pedicaris alive or Raisuli dead."
Ol' Teddy must be spinning in his grave like a Pratt & Whitney jet turbine right about now.
(Review) The Israeli Cabinet has voted to expel Yasser Arafat from Palestine.
My view has always been that he should be expelled to the next life, but maybe this is one of those half measures that does the trick.
I should point out that haven't made a move to actually do it, but they've agreed that it sounds like a good idea in principle.
(Review) Economist Alan Reynolds has noticed something interesting about the Unemployment numbers from last week.
When government officials asked people if they had a job last month, 137.6 million said "yes." But when employers were asked, they said they had only 129.8 million on nonfarm payrolls.
Experts decided the recession started in March 2001...According to the survey of households at that time, there were 137.7 million employed -- virtually the same as now. Yet the payroll survey then counted 132.5 million jobs -- 2.7 million more than now.
Depending entirely on which measure you choose, we have either recovered all the jobs lost during the recession or lost 2.7 million.
This is one of the problems when you look at non-farm payrolls. (I mean, aside from the fact that farm payrolls increased by 155,000 workers last month.) The unemployment numbers come from two surveys: The Household Survey and the Business Survey.
The business Survey doesn't pick up a lot of things. For example, if you use independent contractors or temps, they don't show up on your employee rolls. Instead, they show up on the household survey.
So, in 2001, just prior to the recession there were, according to the household survey, 137.7 million people employed. Now, there are 137.6 million employed.
But the business survey magnifies the number of job losses, because it misses a chunk of the self-employed.
Now the unemployment rate is certainly higher than it was, but as Reynolds remarks:
In reality, today's 6.1 percent unemployment rate is the same as it was in 1994 or 1987 or 1978 -- years in which nobody pretended to see any similarities with the Great Depression.
Back in the 1990s, I was hosting "The Business Day" on KMNY in Los Angeles. When, in 1995, the employment rate dipped below 6% economists started getting worried.
For decades, you see, everyone had come to accept that, based on the experience of the post-war period, 6% was the Non-Accelerating Inflationary Rate of Unemployment (NAIRU). The NAIRU was essentially the rate of full employment. An unemployment rate less than 6% meant Bad Things, economically.
Businesses would have to pay higher wages to attract new workers. As a result prices would rise, as costs increased because of the scarcity of workers.
As it turns out, of course, the NAIRU was substantially less than 6%. And since even 4% unemployment didn't spark inflation, who knows what the actual NAIRU now is?
So, now, a 6.1% unemployment rate send the Left into a tizzy. Amusingly, it was the Leftish economists who were in a tizzy back in 1995, predicting that increasingly lower rates of unemployment implied another 1970s-style inflationary surge.
Funny how perspectives change.
Now, clearly, the unemployment rate does imply that people who want to be working can't find jobs, and that's a bad thing. But the current situation isn't quite as bad as the non-farm payrolls number makes it look.
Still, while he have apparently gotten back to the number of jobs we had in 2000, we haven't created new jobs to account for the entrants onto the labor market over the past three years, so we're still behind the curve on job creation.
And today's initial claims for unemployment were, for the second week in a row, above the key 400,000 mark, which indicates that there is still weakness in the labor market.
(Review) John Derbyshire notes that even though two years have passed since 911, much still hasn't changed.
We have not taken control of our borders and entry points. Our diplomats have not given up their addiction to "peace processes" and "initiatives" and "deals" with people who plot our destruction. Our domestic Left has not stopped believing that everything bad in the world is our fault, and that our enemies will become our friends if we only grovel a little more, apologize a little more, retreat a little more. The self-styled "paleocons" have not budged an inch from their insistence that 9/11 was a judgment on us for our persistent, ill-considered meddling in Middle Eastern affairs, and that all will be well if we give up all those messy, un-American foreign entanglements and alliances and pull back to within our own borders. Our allies in Western Europe have not been woken from their opium dreams of security and peace, even as their ancient churches are pulled down to make way for mosques. Our universities are still filled with academics like Edward Said, lecturing us on our wickedness and cruelty.
There's still a lot of work to be done.
(Review) 60 years ago, on the second anniversary of another day of infamy, FDR didn't wallow in tearful reminiscence, and didn't allow Congress to do so, either.
A few weeks earlier Congress had passed a joint resolution calling for the observance of "Armed Services Honor Day" on December 7. But President Roosevelt vetoed the measure. "I consider the commemoration ... to be singularly inappropriate," he wrote. "December 7, two years ago, is a day that is remembered in this country as one of infamy on the part of a treacherous enemy. The day itself requires no reminder, and its anniversary should rather serve to cause all the people of the nation to increase their efforts contributing to the successful prosecution of the war."
It was good advice then, and good advice now.
Too bad FDR's Democratic Party is no longer with us.
(Review) Victor Davis Hanson sums up the last two years very nicely.
In our current feeding hysteria that diminishes astounding success to quagmire or worse, what disinterested observer would ever believe that in just 24 months we have liberated 50 million people, destroyed the odious Taliban and Saddam Hussein, and routed 60% of the al Qaeda leadership — all at the cost of less than 300 American dead? It is almost as if the more amazing our accomplishments, the more we must deprecate them.
That is what we need to keep in mind: Progress is being made, and at a relatively slight cost.
As for what it all means:
It will require an economist, politician, historian, philosopher, and artist to make sense of the world turned upside down after September 11, which unlike Y2K really did prove to be the abyss between the millennia.
Until then, we would do better to think simply of the dead, and to pledge both that we shall never forget them and in our lifetimes and, according to our efforts and station, we shall not allow it to happen again to any others on these shores--so help us, God.
That just about says all that needs to be said.
This weekend, the California Republican Party will be holding a convention. Both Arnold and Tom McClintock will be there, and the word is that by the end of the convention, the party will officially endorse only one of them.
Schwarzenegger is scheduled to speak to the convention at lunch Saturday, while McClintock gets his turn a few hours later at dinner. But McClintock isn't likely to get his hoped-for debate, which GOP Chairman Duf Sundheim warned would be "a bloodbath in public."
Party officials also may head off any attempts to endorse either of the candidates, a floor fight that could highlight rifts in the party.
"There's only one issue that matters at the convention and that's Schwarzenegger versus McClintock," said Mike Schroeder, a former GOP chairman who hasn't endorsed either man. "No one believes that they both can stay in and still keep (Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz) Bustamante from winning."
This is just crazy. What needs to happen, and happen now, since absentee ballots are already available, is for the state GOP to tell McClintock in no uncertain terms that he can't win, and he will destroy the party's chances for taking back the governor's mansion unless he quits.
Indeed, they should make it clear that unless he quits and endorses Arnold--who has the only realistic chance of winning--that the state GOP will do everything it can to defeat him in any election for any office he attempts.
That's the stick.
The carrot is to tell him that if he does quit, the party will stay neutral if he decides to run in 2006 primary against Arnold, and will give him all possible support for any other office for which he decides to run.
They won't do it of course. The California GOP is completely unable to resist its suicidal impulses. They simply can't see a cliff without succumbing to the terrible urge to Thelma and Louise it right over the edge.
The CAGOP is a prime example of the impotence and uselessness that follows when you allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good.
(Review) Geoffrey Wheatcroft surveys the reaction to 911 over the last two years by the "intellectuals".
One after another, literary luminaries and academic pundits felt unable to condemn the killing, express sympathy, and leave it at that. They had to say, "Butwhatabout" US imperialism, what about globalisation, what about Palestine? Rana Kabbani’s reaction was to howl that "All must kowtow to the Pentagon and the almighty dollar, or be blown to smithereens," and she described the murder of thousands of ordinary New Yorkers as "a painful lesson that Americans have had to learn."
Once an armed response by the US had begun, "Butwhatabout" turned into moral equivalence, or "we are all guilty," or tu quoque. The veteran critic and novelist John Berger (yes, still with us) called the mass murder in New York "the direct result of trying to impose everywhere the new world economic order (the abstract, soaring, groundless market) which insists that man’s supreme task is to make profit," and he added that the American war in Afghanistan was an "act of terror against the people of the world."
I wonder sometimes, don't they ever get tired of parroting the same old phrases over and over, using the same stock arguments they used to make about why we shouldn't antagonize the USSR? Is there anything about this country that they like? Wouldn't they feel more at home in, say, Paris?
Which reminds me, why is Alec Baldwin still here? He promised he'd leave the country.
(Review) I a perfect example of the kind of self-defeating politics for which California Republicans have become famous, Tom McClintock says he will not quit the recall race for governor.
Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock told Fox News on Wednesday that he'll never drop out of the race and said that GOP front-runner Arnold Schwarzenegger lacks original ideas, is afraid to debate and has stalled in the polls.
"I'm in this race to the finish line," McClintock told Fox News in an interview taped with the senator in Sacramento. "In all the polling that's been done on this race all the momentum is on my side. What Arnold brought to the race is what Arnold has and he really hasn't moved much. I've gone from an asterisk to double digits and if the momentum in the first half of the campaign carries into the second half, I'm going to be in very good shape on election night."
McClintock is clearly an ideologue who is unable to compromise. So get used to the idea of Governor Bustamante. Because, if Tom McClintock has anything to do with it, Bustamante will be the next governor.
As you can see, I've corrected my bookmarket problem with allowing comments by, once again, modifying the code.
Working with Movable Type has been a very pleasant learning experience. Being able to customize anything I want has been a big eye-opener. For example, my entry screen now looks like this:
In addition to the standard tool butons for Bold, Italics, Underline, and a hyperlink, Ive added new buttons to automatically create:
I am very happy with MT.
All I need now is a spell-checker and I'm set.
And no sooner do I ask for a spell-checker than I find one. IESpell is a spell checker that can be used not just with movable type, but with any form entry you make with your browser. It spell-checks text fields anywhere in IE, so it can be used all across the spectrum, not only in MT. It's quite a nice little tool.
I guess I have it all, now.
(Review) Evidently, the editors of the Jerusalem Post have had enough.
The world will not help us; we must help ourselves. We must kill as many of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders as possible, as quickly possible, while minimizing collateral damage, but not letting that damage stop us. And we must kill Yasser Arafat, because the world leaves us no alternative.
Only now, after more than 800 Israelis have died in three years of suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks, has Europe finally decided that Hamas is a terrorist organization. How much longer will it take before it cuts off Arafat? Yet Israel cannot accept a situation in which Arafat blocks any Palestinian break with terrorism, whether from here or in exile. Therefore, we are at another point in our history at which the diplomatic risks of defending ourselves are exceeded by the risks of not doing so.
Actually, I wonder why Arafat hasn't already been pushing up daisies for years.
(Review) The Nation's Jonathon Schell, predicts that all is lost in Iraq, and the best course of action is just to learn how to lose the war on terror.
[Senator Joe] Biden says we must win the war. This is precisely wrong. The United States must learn to lose this war--a harder task, in many ways, than winning, for it requires admitting mistakes and relinquishing attractive fantasies. This is the true moral mission of our time (well, of the next few years, anyway).
The cost of leaving will certainly be high, but not anywhere near as high as trying to "stay the course," which can only magnify and postpone the disaster. And yet--regrettable to say--even if this difficult step is taken, no one should imagine that democracy will be achieved by this means. The great likelihood is something else--something worse: perhaps a recrudescence of dictatorship or civil war, or both. An interim period--probably very brief--of international trusteeship is the best solution, yet it is unlikely to be a good solution. It is merely better than any other recourse.
And once we've done that, we might as well go ahead and slit our wrists, because life is so hard. I mean, really, what's the use of even trying? Besides, we're all gonna die anyway. Might as well get it over with.
Well, there you go. The Left's idea of National Security policy. That should win a lot of elections.
On the other hand, when reading Mr. Schell, it's always intructive to remeber, as Instapundit points out, Schell is the guy who spent the 1970s and 1980s telling us the Cold War was unwinnable.
(Review) St. Luke's Hospital has offered 60s Radical and cop-killer Kathy Boudin a job working in a "privately funded position in the hospital's HIV-AIDS Center."
Boudin has spent her last several years in prison working on AIDS-related issues.
She will be released from prison sometime in the next several days, after serving 22 years for her part in in a 1981 Brinks robbery in which a bank guard, Peter Paige, and two police officers, Officer Waverly L. Brown and Sergeant Edward J. O'Grady were killed.
Boudin, of course, is listed as a "political prisoner" by the usual suspects on the Left, the dead bodies of two police officers and a bank guard being, evidently, just politically unfortunate.
What is the fascination these Commie thugs still have for the Left? Look at this press release from the Indymedia. One of their little talking points about why she should be paroled is that
She was not at the scene of the Robbery.
Well, no she wasn't. She was in the getaway U-haul that the robbers transferred to a few minutes after the robbery where Paige was killed. So, no, she wasn't present at the robbery.
Only at the ambush where two cops were killed and one wounded by the bank robbers she was transporting in a U-Haul.
She did nothing to distract or cause the death of any police.
Oddly enough, the survivors of the ambush tell a different story. When the 4 police officers stopped the U-Haul, she exited the vehicle, and almost managed to convice the cops that they had stopped the wrong people, even to the point where Sgt. O'Grady directed Officer Brian Lennon to put the shotgun back in the car. "I don't think it's them," said O'Grady.
Those were essentially his last words.
Seconds later, the robbers opened the back of the U-Haul and cut down Officer Brown and Sgt O'Grady with their M-16s.
Maybe it's just me, but that sounds like a bit of a distraction. And it certainly makes her an accessory.
Oh, and by the way, at the time of the 1981 robbery, she'd been on the run from the police for 11 years for her part in some rather nasty bombings.
Frankly, I don't care how "rehabilitated" she is, or how wonderful her AIDS work has been. If it was up to me, she'd never draw a free breath of air for the rest of her life.
And I have nothing but contempt for any morally crippled fool who considers her a hero.
(Review) A new Osama bin Laden videotape has surfaced, played on--naturally--Al Jazeera. A new audiotape came along, too.
The deal is, the video tape does not have bin Laden speaking. Indeed, it looks kind of fishy.
Al Jazeera said the videotape was made in late April or early May of this year. No snow is visible in the footage, and the grass is a bright green. A small cluster of wildflowers can be seen, suggesting -- given the apparent high altitude at which the video was shot -- that the videotape was made in early summer. At such an altitude, wild flowers would not be blooming in early September.
So, if OBL is still alive and walking around, why not have him hold up the front page of todays Islamabad Times? Just so we'd--you know--be able to tell whether or not he's currently alive?
I mean, prior to our attack on Afghanistan, the guy showed up in more videos than Asia Carrera. Now, he can't be bothered to make a 30-second promo.
It's just suspicious, is all I'm saying.
(Review) Shelby Steele compares Dr. King and Jesse Jackson, and finds Jackson wanting.
The March on Washington was a majestic American moment because it offered a vision of America that was at once critical, inspiring, and flattering. King's "I Have a Dream" speech is an American manifesto since, like the Declaration of Independence, it carries the flattery of high expectations: that America can achieve a colorblind society. This speech articulates the spirit of the civil rights legislation that followed it in the same way that the Declaration articulated the spirit of the Constitution.
So black protest taught America that it could not be a legitimate democracy unless race ceased to be a barrier to individual freedom. This was instructive protest of the highest sort because there was parity between its accusations against America and the wrongs which America could grudgingly acknowledge. It said America was a racist society and it clearly was. Thus King, out in front of a movement with a near-perfect equilibrium between what it charged and what was acknowledged, gave black protest an unquestioned integrity and authority. By the late '60s, protest represented a permanent vision of authenticity in black America. Not only did it carry glamour and authority, it also became the core of a new black identity.
The young Jesse Jackson was glamoured by protest just as the young Norma Desmond was given mystery by silence. Both were enhanced by a glory that came from context. But for the older Jesse, as for the older Norma, the context changed. America took King seriously and made great progress in the struggle to eliminate race as barrier to individual freedom. Today whites know that progress has been made, and this knowledge means something profound for blacks: that black protest has essentially ceased to be instructive. It tells no one anything they haven't already acknowledged. There is no longer parity between what blacks accuse and what whites acknowledge.
The breakdown of this parity is what makes today's black leadership so Norma Desmond-like. When Jesse proclaims a Yale labor dispute the equivalent of Selma, he is scratching the ground for a semblance of that old equilibrium between black accusation and white acknowledgement that would make his authority uncontestable -- and bring the longed-for comeback. King towered by standing atop a near perfect equilibrium; no black leader since has matched his stature because white America has made it impossible. By weakening race as a barrier to freedom, whites can no longer sincerely acknowledge wrongdoing commensurate with what black leaders accuse them of. Black protest has become bad theater -- shrill, unconvincing.
It seems that we're getting farther and farther away from that colorblind society Dr. King spoke of.
(Review) Steve Brown and Chris Coon highlight the troubling ideology behind groups such as MALDEF and MEChA.
"California is going to be a Mexican state; we are going to control all the institutions. If people don't like it they should leave." That chilling warning was given by 1998 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and founder of MALDEF, Mario Obeldo. Praised as a great American and a “hero” by then First Lady Hillary Clinton and California Gov. Gray Davis, Obeldo has refused to back down from his racist forecast.
Their manifesto, EL PLAN DE AZTLÁN, paints a disturbing picture. Using revolutionary rhetoric lifted straight from Marx and Stalin, they make clear who they consider their enemies. The plan begins, “In the spirit of a new people that is conscious not only of its proud historical heritage but also of the brutal 'gringo' invasion of our territories...Aztlán belongs to those who plant the seeds, water the fields, and gather the crops and not to the foreign Europeans.”
"Aztlan", of course, being California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
Their economic model is a mix of nationalistic Marxism, stating that their “cultural background” will “contribute to the act of cooperative buying and the distribution of resources and production. Land and realty ownership will be acquired by the community for the people's welfare. Economic ties of responsibility must be secured by nationalism and the Chicano defense units.”
No doubt these Chicano defense forces will be the vanguard of the glorious people's revolution against the running dogs of the capitalist-imperialist forces.
Their goal is clearly spelled out: to “drive the exploiter out of our community and a welding together of our people’s combined resources to control their own production through cooperative effort.”
MEChA also calls for reparations, asking for “Restitution for past economic slavery, political exploitation, ethnic and cultural psychological destruction and denial of civil and human rights.”
Presumably, their concern for "human rights" does not extend to the "gringo invaders", whom they plan to expel from "Aztlan".
Fascinating article. You should read it.
(Review) Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante has evidently decided that his best campaign tactic is to appeal to the far left.
Regardless of the political calculations, the lieutenant governor's positions are striking. He has called for raising taxes on the wealthy and regulating gasoline as a public utility. He has attacked companies like Wal-Mart for being anti-worker and has vowed to force more businesses to provide health insurance for employees.
He also has taken up the cause of immigrants, voicing support for an amnesty for the estimated 2 million illegal immigrants in California and backing a newly signed law that will allow them to obtain driver's licenses. As an assemblyman in the mid-1990s, he voted to require that applicants show proof of legal residence to obtain a license.
On Sunday, after a rally in Fresno, Bustamante told reporters that every immigrant who works and pays taxes should be able to become a citizen. Asked if he saw a difference between legal and illegal immigrants, Bustamante rebuffed the question: "Have you been out to the fields?" he snapped. "I have. I grew up out there."
He also has repeatedly refused to distance himself from separatist doctrines associated with the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan or MEChA, the Latino student organization.
The Democrats are apparently bound and determined to run California into the ground.
On the other hand, this is probably good news for those of you who don't live in California, because you'll have plenty of jobs as businesses here move out of state.
|Recall Gray Davis|
|California Chamber of Commerce|
|California Chamber of Commerce|
The thing that is becoming crystal clear at this point is that it's time for McClintock to go. The only thing he can accomplish at this point by staying in is to split the Republican vote, and turn the Governor's mansion over to Cruz Bustamante.
Since Bustamate's main plan for solving the budget problem in $10 billion in new taxes, including a statewide socialized health care system, his election would be an unmitigated disaster.
And if McClintock doesn't get out of the race and throw his support behind Arnold, that is the likely outcome.
(Review) The Europeans may chatter about how "unilateral" the US is, but no one holds a candle to them when it comes to unilateralism in trade protectionism. Especially in matters touching agricultural policy, where the EU is the most protectionist and subsidy-prone region of ther world.
James Pinkerton reports on the big trade conference in Cancun, and provides this little mot from our European friends:
As an example of such green Smoot-Hawleyism, in 2002 the EU has ordered drastic restrictions on the importation of foodstuffs -- those with levels of "contaminants" that modern scientific opinion believes to be perfectly safe. Should such an action, not supported by any hard-nosed data, be counted as an an illegal restriction on trade? Non, says, the EU, it's not an economic restriction at all; it's merely an environmental restriction -- and thus outside of the WTOs's purview. But the point, says Oxley, is that if the EU economy, which represents a quarter of world output, is allowed to slap on such restrictions based on its own eccentric eco-views, then the WTO is doomed.
This type of policy, quite typical of EU farm policy in general, is the type of...uh...closely reasoned argument that observers have come to expect from the EU's trade people.
Of course, that isn't to say the US is by any means a glowing partner in free trade under the current President. He did, after all, agree to a $300+ billion round of subsidies to US farmers. And, of course, let's not forget Steel, Textiles, or lumber.
But, at least the President has the saving grace of essentially admitting that its all politics when he does it. The European "concern" over "contaminants" is just insulting.
(Review) You may remember that CA Governor Gray Davis last week quipped about Arnold Schwartzenegger that he shoudn't be governor if he can't pronounce the name of the state. At the time I said that if a Republican had done the same thing he'd have been endlessly lambasted, but Gray would get away with it.
Then this morning I see this:
The California Senate voted 19-2 on Tuesday to demand an apology from Democratic Gov. Gray Davis (search) for what many regard as an ethnic slur made against Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Now, at first glance that looks like a good thing. Nice to see Gray catching some heat for his comment.
But wait a second, 19-2? That's way too few votes. But read a bit further:
Nineteen Democrats did not vote on the motion, which passed by a simple majority.
Ah. OK. Now I understand.
Working with Zogby International survey researchers, The American Enterprise magazine has conducted the first scientific poll of the Iraqi public. Given the state of the country, this was not easy. Security problems delayed our intrepid fieldworkers several times. We labored at careful translations, regional samplings and survey methods to make sure our results would accurately reflect the views of Iraq's multifarious, long-suffering people. We consulted Eastern European pollsters about the best way to elicit honest answers from those conditioned to repress their true sentiments. Conducted in August, our survey was necessarily limited in scope, but it reflects a nationally representative sample of Iraqi views, as captured in four disparate cities: Basra (Iraq's second largest, home to 1.7 million people, in the far south), Mosul (third largest, far north), Kirkuk (Kurdish-influenced oil city, fourth largest) and Ramadi (a resistance hotbed in the Sunni triangle). The results show that the Iraqi public is more sensible, stable and moderate than commonly portrayed, and that Iraq is not so fanatical, or resentful of the U.S., after all.Among the results of the poll:
But the Democrats' major legislative contribution to the war effort appears to be a plan — described yesterday by the ranking House Democrat on the Budget Committee — that would roll back at least part of the Bush tax cuts as the price the president would have to pay to get the needed war funds. This would have the added advantage, from the Democrats' point of view, of tipping the economy back into a recession just before the election (the good congressman did not mention this part of his plan). We need a new term to describe such legislative blackmail. I would call it political war profiteering.I get the feeling that the 2004 Elections are going to be a wild and wooly affair. And my sense so far is that the Democratic Party stands a very good chance at performing a highly public act of self-immolation.
Gov. Bob Riley's $1.2 billion tax plan was rejected overwhelmingly Tuesday night as voters agreed with those who said Alabama needs spending cuts rather than the biggest tax hike in state history.I guess the voters decided that Jesus doesn't like high taxes after all.
A 12-year-old girl in New York who was among the first to be sued by the record industry for sharing music over the Internet is off the hook after her mother agreed Tuesday to pay $2,000 to settle the lawsuit, apologizing and admitting that her daughter's actions violated U.S. copyright laws.Yeah, that's something for the music industry to be proud of.
OK, when I use the bookmarklet to create entries, it doesn't allow comments or trackbacks even though I specifically checked those ityems when I created my bookmarklet.
Back to the drawing board...
An estimated 15,000 people died in France's scorching heat wave last month, the country's largest undertaker said Tuesday, surpassing the official government estimate of 11,435.All from temperatures that wouldn't even raise eyebrows in Houston.
The Democratic presidential candidates took President Bush to task Tuesday, chiding him for creating, among other things, a quagmire in Iraq, a police state at home, a disenfranchised Florida and a health care crisis in America.I believe the president was also seen on The Mall, slapping ice cream cones out of little childrens' hands.
(Review) I wish I could say I was surprised by this.
Senate Republicans have dropped plans to force Democrats into a genuine all-out filibuster on judicial nominations and have fallen into tactical confusion following Miguel Estrada’s withdrawal from consideration for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last week.
The plan to force round-the-clock debate on President Bush’s controversial nominations was abandoned because GOP leaders decided some of their own senior caucus members could suffer health problems while the Democrats might escape with minimal political damage.
I guess it's official. A minority of 45 Senators now control the judicial nominations process. Republicans are congenitally unable to play hardball.
(Review) Pete Ueberroth is calling it quits. That leaves Arnold and Tom McClintock as the remaining two Republicans in the recall race.
Ueberroth's time to run for governor was gone a decade ago. And his embarrassing performance in the debate last week highlighted his unreadiness to become governor.
So, now, McClintock should go. I doubt that will happen though, which means Cruz Bustamante has a definite shot at wining on Oct 7.
Assuming, of course, that Gray Davis gets bounced. Which is not looking like as sure a thing as it did a few weeks ago.
(Review) Ben Shapiro has finally suggested it in his syndicated column: The only way to secure Israel is to expel the Palestinians.
Here is the bottom line: If you believe that the Jewish state has a right to exist, then you must allow Israel to transfer the Palestinians and the Israeli-Arabs from Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Israel proper. It's an ugly solution, but it is the only solution. And it is far less ugly than the prospect of bloody conflict ad infinitum. When two populations are constantly enmeshed in conflict, it is insane to suggest that somehow deep-seated ideological change will miraculously occur, allowing the two sides to live together.
Unfortunately, this insanity is generally accepted as "the only way forward." President Bush accepts it because it is politically palatable. The Arabs accept it because, for them, it is a Trojan horse. The Israelis accept it because they are afraid that if they expel the Arabs, they will be called Nazis.
After World War II, Poland was recreated by the Allied Powers. In doing so, the Allies sliced off a chunk of Germany and extended Poland west to the Oder-Neisse line. Anywhere from 3.5 million to 9 million people were forcibly relocated. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was pleased. In 1944, he had explained to the House of Commons that "expulsion is the method which, so far as we have been able to see, will be the most satisfactory and lasting. There will be no mixture of populations to cause endless trouble . . . a clean sweep will be made." Churchill was right. The Germans accepted the new border, and decades of conflict between Poles and Germans ended.
On the other hand, India and Pakistan did essentially the same thing to Muslins and Hindus, respectively, and it hasn't noticeably lessened tensions between them for the last 50 years.
Shapiro uses the word "transfer", probably because it sounds inoffensive. The actual word, of course, is "expulsion", which sounds a bit more brutal, and, to me at least, more truthful.
I am afraid, however, that he may be right, even though I might wish otherwise.
(Review) Young Steve Miller finds his Freshman Orientation at Duke University to be a bit confusing.
When the time came for questions I started off with some generic inquiries, but then I began to quietly, politely, question some of the troubling things I had observed during our orientation. For instance, during our schedule on one day our lunch was from 12-2. The itinerary read as follows:
"Noon-2pm: Lunch-grab lunch at the Marketplace or any one of the campus eateries.
"Noon-2pm: Students of Color Luncheon."
One lunch for whites. One for students of color. How wonderfully progressive.
In response to my question the dean remarked in the past Duke used to be segregated and that this was something the faculty was (rightly) ashamed of. He explained that they had an obligation to create as inclusive an environment as possible. He did not explain how we are to compensate for past segregation with more segregation; maybe that's one of the things I am supposed to learn at Duke.
I suspect Mr. Miller will find it a long four years.
(Review) 101-year old German filmaker and Nazi propagandist Leni Reifenstahl has died. Finally.
"I don't know what I should apologize for," [Reifenstahl] said. "I cannot apologize, for example, for having made the film "Triumph of the Will" -- it won the top prize. All my films won prizes."
And that film also won her the nickname "Hitler's Filmmaker". Nothing to apologize for about that either, I guess. And who cares if the film was an outright piece of Nazi propaganda? After all, it won a Prize!
Even as late as 2002, Riefenstahl was investigated for Holocaust denial after she said she did not know that Gypsies taken from concentration camps to be used as extras in one of her wartime films later died in the camps. Authorities eventually dropped the case, saying her comments did not rise to a prosecutable level.
Pretty incredible, perhaps, but still, not prosecutable.
Although she said she knew nothing of Hitler's "Final Solution" and learned of concentration camps only after the war, Riefenstahl also said she openly confronted the Fuehrer about his anti-Semitism, one of many apparent contradictions in her claims of total ignorance of the Nazi mission.
"Ve neffer knew what vass done to zeez gypsies or Jews. It vas all Hitler's fault! I vass never political!"
Riefenstahl said she had always been guided by the search for beauty, whether it was found in her hypnotizing images of the 1934 Nuremberg rallies with thousands of goose-stepping soldiers and enraptured civilians fawning for their Fuehrer, in her dazzling portrayal of the 1936 Olympic athletes in Berlin, or in her still photographs of the sculpted Nuba men.
Ah, the pure beauty of goose-stepping SS platoons.
Likewise, she defended "Triumph of the Will" as a documentary that contained "not one single anti-Semitic word," while avoiding any talk about filming Nazi official Julius Streicher haranguing the crowd about "racial purity" laws.
That's one sentence that tells us everything we need to know about Leni Reifenstahl's credibility vis a vis Nazism.
(Review) Chris Hitchens has figured out how we should commemorate the second anniversary of 911: Not to do it at all.
What is required is a steady, unostentatious stoicism, made up out of absolute, cold hatred and contempt for the aggressors, and complete determination that their defeat will be utter and shameful. This doesn't require drum rolls or bagpipes or banners. The French had a saying during the period when the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine were lost to them: "Always think of it. Never speak of it." (Yes, Virginia, we can learn things from the French, even if not from Monsieur Chirac.)
This steely injunction is diluted by Ground Zero kitsch or by yellow-ribbon type events, which make the huge mistake of marking the event as a "tribute" of some sort to those who happened to die that day. One must be firm in insisting that these unfortunates, or rather their survivors, have no claim to ownership. They stand symbolically, as making the point that theocratic terrorism murders without distinction. But that's it. The time to commemorate the fallen is, or always has been, after the war is over. This war has barely begun. The printing of crayon daubs by upset schoolchildren and the tussle over who gets what from the compensation slush fund are strictly irrelevant and possibly distracting. Dry your eyes, sister. You, too, brother. Stiffen up.
There'll be enough time for commemorations later. Right after we've put a bullet in the head of the last terrorist.
(Review) Bill Murchison replies to the Democratic Party presidential candidates whose "plan" for postwar Iraq is to let someone else handle it.
So what do the gentlemen propose specifically that we do differently? That's the thing we never hear. Turn it over to the United Nations, and get out, say some, including Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. More suggestions: Speed up the elections; create an Iraqi government; write a constitution.
Truly brilliant notions! We hand off to the Germans and the French, and to Kofi Annan, who will proceed to do what? And will subdue the murder squads how?
The expedited elections will feature what candidates? Ex-Baathists or not? What will the constitution look like? How will power be distributed among major religious and ethnic groups?
Lay a finger ever so lightly on a single one of these facile "strategies" for one-upping the Bush-Bremer strategy, and the pseudo-strategy crumbles. Nobody, it seems, has an answer notably better than Bush-Bremer. Nobody, indeed, has thought past the exclamation point at the end of the first sentence in a particular "answer."
In short, the Democrats are negaging in bomb-throwing, without any clear idea about how to fight or win the war on terror.
You can talk in fuzzy sound-bites all you want about "getting the UN involved" or "cooperating more closely with our allies", but those are little more than cheap bromides.
The UN is an organization that allows libya--Libya!--to chair the UN Commission of Human Rights. The UN is a diplomatic sinkhole where diplomats from totalitarian autocracies are listened to with polite nods of respect, as if their governments represented anything other than the power hungry fantasies of a semi-sane military strongman. That simply isn't an atmoshpere conducive to clear-headed opposition to terror. The UN is, after all, perhaps the last place in the world where Yasser Arafat, the father of modern terrorism, is treated like a legitimate head of state.
Yeah, I'm sure they'll do a bang-up job in Iraq.
Our European allies--with the exception of the British--couldn't organize a successful panty raid on a girls dormitory. And, frankly, they don't care to. Nearly half of all Europeans polled believe that war is never justifiable in any circumstances. They've entered a fantasy land where life is all fuzzy kitties, and talking can solve every problem. If it ever comes down to a situation where the Europeans have to watch our back, then we're f*cked.
Because it won't be a steely-eyed, muscular, Werhmacht killer doing it. It'll be a 19-year old Dutch conscript with hair down to his shoulders, a slightly goofy grin on his face left over from his last trip to the "coffee house", and who, because he's unionized, can only stand on guard until 5:00 pm, when he has to be released from duty, lest he file a complaint with his freakin' shop steward.
I spent three long years assigned to HQ Allied Forces Central Europe in Brunssum, the Netherlands. Trust me on this. The European militaries are, for the most part, comprised of parade ground soldiers. And, since the Germans don't even goose-step any more, they aren't really very good at that, either.
And those are the guys that Dean, Kerry, Kucinich, et al. want to trust with our national security.
(Review) James Pinkerton writes that those neo-cons like the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol, who are starting to call Donald Rumsfeld the "Architect of defeat" in Iraq are all wet.
So the difference between Rumsfeld and Kristol seems to boil down to this: Rumsfeld wants Iraqis to do more in Iraq, and Kristol wants more Americans in Iraq. As Kristol said on Fox, "I don't think it's very intelligent for the American secretary of defense to say, in Baghdad, that the Iraqi people need to do more."
Well now. Rumsfeld not very intelligent? What diplomats call a "frank exchange of views" is likely to begin. On the one side is the military, which sees its mission as winning wars the high-tech way. On the other side are some of the neocons, who see their mission as winning the world. And how is that done? By relying upon low-tech applications of young men and women, pulling guard duty in faraway places. In other words, instead of, for example, seizing the high frontier of space, we must doggedly secure the Iraq-Syria border. With American troops. Indefinitely.
And that is what is not "very intelligent". I would love to remake the world, too, if it were possible.
But, it isn't possible, and the best we can do is concentrate on those portions of the world necessary for securing our national interests. I don't think that, at the end of the day, the neo-con vision can be accomodated. Review
(Review) Brnedan Miniter offers his thoughts as the second anniversary of 911 approaches.
This is a war not only over the future of the Middle East, but over our very soul as a nation. Do we believe in ourselves and that we occupy a unique place in history? Does America have the moral authority to stand up--alone if necessary--against the tyranny of terrorism?
If so, then as Americans we must act. Today we have a president who is willing to take the battle to the terrorists even in the face of international pressure to do nothing. But for too long as a nation we've allowed our culture, driven by a fear of offending anyone, to drift toward timidity.
That must end today as we must also move toward rebuilding the civil institutions that ensure the strength of our republic. In the schools we must rescue civics from the social-studies teachers who teach anti-Americanism. In the public square we must fight to preserve the right of religious expression. Within our churches we must demand that our religious leaders lead. Ministers once reinforced the moral authority of a free people by preaching that freedom was God's gift to mankind. Today that message is largely left to the president.
Howard Dean says the Iraq war was based on a lie and that there are now more terrorists there than when Saddam ruled. Wesley Clark claims America is failing in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Other Democrats running for president have launched similar attacks. These are the words of those who would offer us the middle ground between good and evil. The terrorists are now showing themselves in Iraq and giving us a chance to kill them. We vowed in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks never to forget. But those will prove to be empty words if we forget where we must continue to stand.
It's hard to put it better than that.
(Review) The release of the new Field Poll for the California recall race is in, and here's how things stand at the moment:
|Recall Gray Davis|
The Sacramento Bee's Dan Weintraub provides his take on the numbers at the Bee's California Insider weblog.
What seems clear is that there is a good chance that Gray Davis will be replaced by his fellow Democratic Party hack Cruz Bustamante if things remain as they are now. That's not very good news for Californians who actually want some sort of change in Sacramento. All you get with Bustamante is a browner shade of Gray.
I think it's pretty clear that the Republicans are placing themselves at a disadvantage by running what is essentially a primary election while Democrats are running a general election.
Tom McClintock and Pete Ueberroth should do the right thing and fall on their swords. In a straight Bustamante/Schwartzenegger race, Arnold is essentially unbeatable.
In the fractured race we have now, Bustamante has an excellent chance of becoming the next governor. I don't think that's the solution we want to see.
(Review) James Lileks is responding to conservatives who feel the Bush Adminsitration is moving too far in a big government direction.
Anyway, look at the reaction to a big-spending, big-government Republican: horror, apoplexy, the endless litany of disasters both close and distant. The Administration makes a few peeps about allowing a certain segment of post-boomer workforce actually have some control over a wee portion of their Social Security money, and you’d think they’d demanded we strip Granny of her flesh and toss her in a vat of lemon juice.
It is more likely that a true unalloyed Democrat will be elected than a brass-tacks Republican. Get used to it. The number of people who want a particular Government program exceeds the number who want none. You want the NEA abolished? That will require two nuclear attacks on American soil. After the first the NEA will be more important than ever, as we sort out our feelings about the event through a nationally coordinated series of interpretive dances. After the second, the economy will be so far down the crapper-pipes that someone will point out that we shouldn’t fund the Mimes-for-the-Blind symposium when we really need the money for anti-radiation drugs.
As for the Iraq situation? I’m stunned that a country whose face was held mouth-down in the mud for 30 years hasn’t spontaneously produced a civil society in six months. I don’t think they’ve even started thinking about a new national anthem. Let’s give it all to the French.
Evidently, he's not buying it.
(Review) The response to Gray Davis signing the bill to allow illegal aliens to obtain a driver's license has started. Under California law, once the governor has signed a law, a petition drive that gets around 400,000 signatures over the next 90 days will prevent the law from taking effect. Instead, the law will appear on the ballot as an initiative in March for voters to give it the up or down.
I'm willing to bet that they will get the required number of signatures. At least, I certainly hope they will, and they'll certainly have mine.
I have no problem at all with legal immigration. Practically everybody in this country came from somewhere else. Immigrants from Asia and the Indian subcontinent are filling a lot of tech jobs.
Bit illegal immigration is a different kettle of fish altogether. I want illegal immigrants hunted down like blips fleeing the PsiCorps1, and sent packing back to wherever it is they snuck in from.
I certainly don't want to dilute the perogatives of citizenship by granting them to people who entered the country illegally.
1 Why, yes, it is an obscure reference, isn't it?
(Review) Tomorrow, Alabama voters go to the polls to vote on a tax hike estimated to bring in $1.2 billion in new revenue.
What's been interesting about this tax increase is that the governor of Alabama, Bob Riley< has been campaigning on this as the Christian thing to do. He argues--and ministers in a large number of Alabama pulpits yesterday argued--that the higher taxes are needed to take care of the poor, and increasing taxes is, thus, a Christian duty.
I think that's poppycock.
Comforting the afflicted and helping the poor are certainly Christian duties, of course. But the extent to which it is done by each individual is supposed to be a matter of conscience and choice.
Taxes, on the other hand, are not a matter of choice. The payment of taxes is compelled by the government through the use of force, and failure to do so is accompanied by steep penalties, including prison terms.
But if virtue is compelled, it is not virtue at all. Virtue requires that you perform good acts through voluntary choice. Doing good acts because the state is holding a metaphorical--or occasionally, a real--gun to your head is not a sign of virtue. It is merely acquiescence to physical compulsion, not a demonstration of your good character.
Now, you can say that by voting to increase taxes the electorate is making a free choice. But let's say 51% vote to raise taxes. That means that 49% are not making that choice and are being compelled to do so anyway. And, of course, people who are too young to vote will, in due course, be forced to pay those taxes as well.
Jesus said to render unto Caesar those things that are Caesar's, and unto God those things that are God's. He didn't mention mixing the two together to make it more convenient for ourselves, or to use Ceasar as an excuse for us to pawn off the burden of caring for the poor on the state, while at the same time engaging in the sin of false pride for our "compassion".
Now, if the people of the state of Alabama wish to increase taxes, they are certainly entitled to do so. But let's not pretend that state actions are a substitute for private virtue, or that forcing people to pay higher taxes, whether they wish to or not, is an indication of Christian values.
Apart from anything else, it eliminates the operation of free will, without which, virtue is meaningless.
(Review) Phyllis Schlafly notes that one thing California politicans are not talking about during this recall campaign, is the problem with illegal immigration.
John Chiang of the State Board of Equalization, California's tax oversight agency, estimates that the state loses $7 billion a year in unpaid taxes because of the underground sector. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 30.6 percent of Hispanics receive means-tested government benefits compared to 9 percent of whites. Tax revenues simply can't keep pace with the rising demand for government services.
Of course, the illegal aliens don't have health insurance, so when hospitals, which are forbidden to ask about citizenship, accept them as patients, the costs are loaded onto the backs of local taxpayers and patients who do pay their bills. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the cost of medical care provided to illegal aliens in California last year was $980 million.
California schools are an academic and financial disaster. Even though California spends $2.2 billion to educate children who are illegally in this country, nearly half of Hispanic adults have not graduated from high school.
Frankly, these estimates seem a bit low. As of last week, an LA think tank, whose name, unfortunately, escapes me at the moment, estimates the cost of providing public health care and education to illegals runs about $4 billion, instead of the $3 billion figure Ms. Schafley.
There are other costs, too. For example, nearly $10 billion in cash is expatriated to Mexico every year. Indeed, US residents sending cash back to Mexico is the Number 2 source of income for that country. And that $10 billion is obviously not spent in California, which means that a substantial amount of money in sales tax revenue--about $750 million--disappears from the state as well.
So, just these items alone account for $11-12 billion that comes out of the pockets of California taxpayers every year.
And, let's not forget the 25% of California's prison population that consists of illegal aliens. We're paying for that, too.
Oh, sure, we're paying less for fruits and vegetables, or any of a number of other products. But we are also seeing lower wages as illegals depress the cost of labor.
But I suspect that very, very few of our 135 candidates for governor will be talking about any of these facts in the remaining 4 weeks until the election.
There is a difference between illegal and legal immigration, and the economic costs and benefits of those two very different things.
(Review) California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante appears to have changed his campaign slogan slightly.
Old Slogan: No on Recall, Yes on Bustamante!
New Slogan: Yes on Bustamante!
I imagine Gray Davis has daydreams about his fingers gripping Bustamate's wattled throat, and squeezing tighter and tighter...
(Review) Paul Krugman's new book, The Great Unraveling 1 is out today, and Krugman Truth Squad member Donald Luskin was feeling a bit depressed about it. All he could forsee was an endless line of Krugman interviews, spouting Talking Points with calm assurance. He was, he admits, getting a bit worried over the prospect.
But when I saw the interview with Russert on Saturday night, I stopped worrying. And now I'm hoping that his 15 minutes of fame will be his undoing. In situations where he's separated from the prestige and credibility of his New York Times column — and when people can talk back — Krugman will no longer seem the Great and Powerful Oz. He'll stand revealed as nothing more than the man behind the curtain.
The nervous, stammering, shifty-eyed, twitching, ill-tailored, gray homunculus slumping across the table from Tim Russert Saturday night was simply not recognizable as the titan who strikes fear in the hearts of conservatives everywhere each Tuesday and Friday morning. He had all the talking points, but they seemed to be coming from someone else's mouth. It was as though, through some terrible casting mix-up, the part of Paul Krugman was being played by Woody Allen.
You know, the lead to that second graph is one of the best sentences I've seen crafted in quite a long time. "The nervous, stammering, shifty-eyed, twitching, ill-tailored, gray homunculus slumping across the table from Tim Russert."
God, I wish I had written that!
As it turns out, Tim Russert had used the Krugman Truth Squad to hammer Krugman with some nasty, Mike Wallace, 60 Minutes questions in the last segment.
Nicely done, Tim.
1 Okay, maybe some of you think it's wrong of me to link to Krugman's book on Amazon in hopes of getting a piece of the sales price. After all, it makes Krugman money, too. Why should I be helping the enemy?
Well, first, did you miss the part about how I make money off the deal?
But seriously, Krugman is not a bad economist, he's just a bad columnist. His academic work has been very important, and his economics popularizations like Peddling Prosperity and Currencies and Crises are important and interesting books. Krugman has also spent a fair amount of time in these books and others criticizing the Gephardt wing of his party for their protectionism.
Oh, and did I mention that I make money off the deal?
(Review) Steven Moore reports that Tom Dashcle, ostensibly a Democratic Senator from South Dakota, has his primary residence in Washington DC, according to the DC property tax rolls.
But here's the fascinating new twist to the story. It turns out, as first reported by Talon News, that Daschle and his wife have applied for the home owner's tax exemption for the D.C. home. D.C. law requires that to qualify for this tax break, the home must be the primary place of residence. To quote from the venerable Keith Jackson: "Whoa, Nelly!" To run for the Senate in South Dakota, Daschle has to be a resident of South Dakota — not a primary resident of the District of Columbia!
Could Daschle be legally prohibited from running for reelection because he no longer lives in South Dakota?
The Daschle campaign team has swiftly transitioned into crisis-management mode. The press release the campaign released explains away the predicament this way: "Linda Daschle works in DC and pays income taxes in DC. That makes Linda Daschle eligible for the homestead exemption on behalf of the Daschles."
Okay, let me get this straight. Linda lives in D.C. and Tom lives in South Dakota. Sounds like somebody needs couples therapy!
The press release further explains that "there is no question that Tom Daschle is a South Dakota resident. He has a South Dakota driver's license. He has South Dakota plates on his car." And then the trump card: "He pays South Dakota taxes." The only thing Daschle doesn't do it seems, is actually reside in South Dakota.
Who would ever thought by the way, that the leader of the Democratic party would be such a fanatic about tax avoidance?
(Review) Niel Cavuto isn't pulling any punches on the Republicans' drift towards Big Government.
Read it now. I won't even attempt to excerpt it except to echo his quote of former President Ford.
Gerald Ford had it right decades ago when he insisted that a "government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have."
This is definitely today's required reading.
And it is yet another in the series of high-profile Republicans who are starting to get nervous over the party's embrace of the Big Government policies it used to condemn.
I guess Bill Clinton was wrong.
(Review) Arnold Kling, who, like me, is a neo-Keynesian, writes that he'd give President Bush a B+ or an A- for his handling of the economy, especially since he's been doing exactly what the neo-Keynesians prescribe (except, of course, for the president's inability to support Free Trade over his political needs).
Orthodox Keynesian policy in a recession would be to cut taxes. The Bush Administration has done that. Orthodox policy would be to increase government spending over what had been planned. The Bush Administration has done that, too. When a student hands in an exam that repeats almost exactly what the professor was saying in class, but the student still gets a low grade, then one can only conclude that the professor has something personal against the student.
I believe that, if pressed, George Akerlof and the other economists who spoke out so vehemently would say that they are giving their bad grade to the Bush Administration on the basis of the long run path implied by tax cuts, taking the path of spending as given. They would have to admit that over the near term their differences with the Bush fiscal policy are almost immaterial.
Which tells you that their carping about Bush's economic performance is about other things than Bush's economic performance.
(Review) Amir Taheri writes that the changes that havce taken place in Iraq have already started to catalyze the Arab world, despite the naysaying constantly trumpeted in the media and, of course, among Democrats.
* In Syria, President Bashar Assad has announced an end to 40 years of one-party rule by ordering the Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party to no longer "interfere in the affairs of the government." The party is planning a long-overdue national conference to amend its constitution and, among other things, drop the word "socialist" from its official title.
"What we need is a space of freedom in which to think and speak without fear," says a leading Syrian economist. "Bashar knows that if he does not create that space, many Syrians will immigrate to Iraq and be free under American rule."
* A similar view is expressed by Hussein Khomeini, a mid-ranking mullah and a grandson of the late Ayatollah Ruhallah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic in Iran.
"I decided to leave Iran and settle in Iraq where the Americans have created a space of freedom," Hussein Khomeini says. "The coming of freedom to Iraq will transform the Muslim world."
* Saudi Arabia is also feeling the effects of Iraqi regime change. Last month King Fahd ordered the creation of a Center for National Dialogue where "issues of interest to the people would be debated without constraint." The center will be open to people from all religious communities, including hitherto marginalised Shi'ites. More importantly, the gender apartheid, prevalent in other Saudi institutions, will be waived to let women participate.
* Both Kuwait and Jordan have just held general elections in which pro-reform candidates did well. The new Kuwaiti parliament is expected to extend the franchise to women and to over 100,000 people regarded as "stateless." In Jordan, the new parliament is expected to revise censorship laws and to relax rules regarding the formation of political parties.
* In Egypt, the state-controlled media are beginning to break taboos, including reporting President Hosni Mubarak's refusal to name a vice president, as required by the constitution, and to end the tradition of single-candidate presidential elections.
* In a recent television appearance, Col. Muammar Khadafy (whose one-man rule has been in place since 1969) told astonished Libyans that he now regarded democracy as "the best system for mankind" and that he would soon unveil a package of reforms. These are expected to include a new Constitution to institutionalize his rule and provide for an elected national assembly.
* Even in remote Algeria and Morocco, the prospect of a democratic Iraq, emerging as an alternative to the present Arab political model, is causing some excitement. A cultural conference at Asilah, Morocco, last month, heard speakers suggest that liberated Iraq had a chance of becoming "the first Arab tiger" while other Arab states remained "nothing but sick cats."
This should make it clear why our success in Iraq is so important. We have a chance to transform the world by bringing the light of freedom to an area that has, over the past 100 years, fallen under the sway of brutality and totalitarianism.
Success may cost a significant amount in lives and treasure. But the rewards of success will be far greater than we can imagine.
(Review) John Leo is wondering why Cruz Bustamante and his ties past and/or present, haven't been investigated with a lot more thoroughness. He even quotes Tacitus, and mentions the lead the blogworld has been taking on this. The tacitus quote is also quite nice.
Tacitus argues that Bustamante's MEChA membership is a socially tainting act that can't be whisked away as a harmless youthful affiliation. He writes: "Former Klansmen and former Nazis don't get a pass unless they spend a great deal of time and energy apologizing for and explaining themselves in a convincing manner."
And that is really the heart of the issue. Why does Bustamante and MEChA get a free pass on this stuff?
Well, of course, we know why. When people of color call for racial separation, or even hint at violence as MEChA does, it's perfectly acceptable. It's just another example of the invidious racial double standards that have come to permeate our society.
(Review) Max Boot writes for the LA Times that, despite what we are hearing in the media, things aren't as bad in Iraq as we're told. After spending 10 days in Iraq, his impression is that the reality on the ground is different from what we are seeing on the Evening News.
Now the media are portraying Iraq as a proto-Vietnam, a land where U.S. troops can't do anything right and where they can expect a prolonged and painful defeat. But as in Vietnam, U.S. troops in Iraq are slowly winning the war on the ground, even as they're losing the public relations battle back home.
That, at any rate, was the conclusion I reached after spending 10 days last month with the 1st Marine Division, based in south-central Iraq, and the 101st Airborne Division, based in northern Iraq. Speaking with everyone from privates to three-star generals, I was impressed by an overall sense of optimism and resolve in spite of well-publicized setbacks such as the horrific bombing of a mosque in Najaf. Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of the 1st Marine Division, put it succinctly: "We've got the bastards on the run."
It's odd that people who go to Iraq and spend time there, or US Soldiers returning from Iraq after months there, have a much different impression of our progress than we are getting from the media.
It might be profitable to ask why that is.
(Review) Bill Safire is back from vacation, and writes about the failuremongers with which we are currently afflicted.
In what is called here "the Daily Schadenfreude," the impression is being marketed that the rebuilding of Iraq is a colossal flop. That Arabs are culturally incapable of self-government. That Islamic fundamentalism will sweep away any Western notions of individual dignity. That while Saddam was admittedly a "bad guy," the hundreds of thousands of his victims who are missing are none of the West's concern, and that a cabal of neocon hawks manipulated President Bush into war.
So goes the failuremongers' pitch. Their purpose, beyond justification of their decade of appeasement, is to cast as both ignoble and doomed this most necessary long-term counter to state-sponsored and fanaticism-driven terror. To wear down our will, they emphasize the likelihood that as long as we stay to rebuild, terrorists will shoot at our service members and relief workers and will sabotage power plants and oil fields. As we return fire, inevitable pictures of bloodied innocents will be shown on home screens.
In the coming political campaigns, failuremongers in Europe and at home will exploit reactions to these costs in blood and treasure. They will beat the drums to abandon control to a feckless U.N. bureaucracy. George McGovern's slogan of 1972 will be echoed by de Villepin Democrats and some panicky Republicans: "Come home, America."
I hope that we, as a country, can reject the failuremongers' advice.
Don't yawn off on me for talking about Movable Type too much, but there is, you may have noticed, a COMMENTS feature on the site now.
I have been criticised in the past for not providing comments. I did have the function for a while, through an ASP/Access thing, but it was way too slow, and screwed up the download time for the site something fierce.
There is a school of view that blogs that don't offer comments are somehow...wrong. Perhaps too concerned with the author's views, and not concerned enough about the reader's.
OK, maybe so, but really the blog is about what I think, not about what you think. Still, point taken, and now you can comment all you want, yet another way in which MT is superior to Blogger.
Still, if I wasn't a computer guy, and I wasn't comfortable with programming, I really, really wouldn't want to try installing Movable Type on my server. About halfway through the process, I'd be so frustrated, I'd want to start shooting someone. And, of course, working with the templates and the css styles aren't a picnic either, if you want to do anything other than use the 5 templates that come stock.
The great thing about Blogger--when its working--is that it is easy, and doesn't require that you get all that familiar with templates or CSS styles. It's convenient.
When it's working.
Movable Type is far less convenient than Blogger. But it works. It's on my server, and I control it, so I don't have to depend on some third party who may or may not be gettin' it done. And, I can tweak it in a way that's impossible to do with Blogger.
But, if you're thinking about using MT, and you aren't really comfortable with computers, it will really be worth the forty bucks to have the MT people do the installation for you.
Also, may I suggest WebmasterDeveloper1 for site hosting? Full support for PERL and Berkely DB, and also with full support for FrontPage extensions, .NET, PHP, ASP, Cold Fusion MX, Dreamweaver MX, and a bunch of other goodies. And very good prices, too!
1 Full Disclosure: I own it.
One nice thing about Movable Type is that, as a programmer, I can figure out how to tweak it, even though my usual programming is creating .NET applications, not PERL and CGI scripts.
So far, I've added buttons to the edit_entry template to add blockquotes and superscript to highlighted text. Also, I've modified the URL function so it automatically adds a 'target="new"' to the hyperlinks. Additionally, I've changed the Bold and Italic functions to use the STRONG and EM tags instead of the old B and I tags that Movable Type still uses.
So, now, my interface for adding a new entry looks like this:
I like being able to make the changes that I could never make in Blogger Pro.
Now, if only MT had a "Blog This" button for my browser...
Anyway, if you'd like to use this for your blogging purposes, I've made my edit_entry.tmpl file into a text file called edit_entry.tmpl.txt, which you can find here as a zipped text file if you'd like to try it. (That way, you can look over the text file first, to be sure I haven't done anything nasty to it.) All you have to do is take off the ".txt" extension, then replace your old "edit_entry.tmpl" with the new one.
Oh, and before you replace it, make a backup copy of your old one. It's never wise to go off half-cocked with new stuff without keeping backups
(Review) The key bit of the president's address this evening, rhetoriucal fourished asside, some of which were quite nice, was this:
Our strategy in Iraq will require new resources. We have conducted a thorough assessment of our military and reconstruction needs in Iraq, and also in Afghanistan. I will soon submit to Congress a request for $87 billion. The request will cover ongoing military and intelligence operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, which we expect will cost $66 billion over the next year. This budget request will also support our commitment to helping the Iraqi and Afghan people rebuild their own nations, after decades of oppression and mismanagement. We will provide funds to help them improve security. And we will help them to restore basic services, such as electricity and water, and to build new schools, roads, and medical clinics. This effort is essential to the stability of those nations, and therefore, to our own security. Now and in the future, we will support our troops and we will keep our word to the more than 50 million people of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Like Tom Friedman said a few months ago, the Iraqis should think they won the lottery. That means we will have to spend billion rebuilding there, create a more or less liberal and definitely peaceful government, and get the hell out physically, while still giving that new government all the support we can.
We must create an island of peace, liberalism, and stability in the Middle East, to prove it can be done, and to discomfit the collection of despots and lunatics that currently populate the present governments in the region.
(Review) Arnold Schwartzenegger was supposed to be the Grand Marshal of the Mexican Independence Day Parade in LA. But, they've decided to uninvite him completely.
Schwarzenegger was asked to be the parade's grand marshal through letters and e-mails, both before and after he announced his candidacy in the recall race. Representatives of the Comite Mexicano Civico Patriotico (Mexican Patriotic Civic Committee) refused to rescind their invitation in writing, but verbally requested Saturday that Schwarzenegger not attend.
Gray Davis and Gil Cedillo will still be there, though.
(Review) Now this is interesting.
California Gov. Gray Davis on Saturday took a dig at Republican gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger, telling one potential voter at a campaign stop that "you shouldn't be governor unless you can pronounce the name of the state."
Because Arnold is an immigrant, you see, and his English, while extremely fluent, still has a funny, Hogan's Heroes accent.
It's all in good fun when a Democrat does it. I can only imagine the calls for the head of a Republican who made the same kind of crack about, say, Arianna Huffington.
But that's because republicans are inherently racist, of course.
(Review) Jill Stewart, one of California's top politics journalists, notes that while the big recall debate is going on, Gray Davis is silently preparing to sign some interesting bills before he gets booted out of office on October 7. And once he signs them, we're stuck with them.
For example, here's a little gem. It's called SB2. Senate Bill 2. Sounds innocuous, doesn't it. Stewart gives us a synopsis of this little gem that Gray Davis is preparing to sign as soon as the Democrat-controlled legislature can get it to him.
Senate Bill 2 comes closer to socialism than anything I've seen heading for approval in 20 years. It would force California's hard-hit small and medium-sized businesses, with 20 or more employees, to pay 80 percent of employees' health coverage. Companies with more than 200 employees would be forced to pay that for the whole family. Even part-timers get this big perk.
Ok, here's a multiple choice question.
Pretend you are an employer with 23 employees. Gray Davis signs SB2 into law, and it becomes effective Jan 1, 2004. What do you do?
A) Suck it up and pay the extra $1200 per employee per year, because, well, it's the right thing to do, no matter how much it costs.
B) On Dec 16, 2003, call in your three suckiest employees and tell them they're out of a job in two weeks, and, by the way, Merry Christmas.
C) Call your cousin in Phoenix and ask him to start looking for office space for you, so you can shut your business down in California, and move to Arizona, where, fortunately, you already have existing clients.
Let's be realistic here. If you have a small business and your clearing 80k a year, are you really gonna spend the extra $27,600 a year?
Don't worry about answering. It's a rhetorical question, really.
Then, of course, there's the Workman's Comp problem that California has.
First, (although the media rarely explains this) California’s nutty rules allow the workers to essentially determine if they were injured on the job. Many doctors who make their living off workers comp are happy to oblige, proof or no proof. Only three states give workers so much say in this important matter---and naturally California clings more than any other state to this grossly abused and terribly subjective practice.
In 47 normal states, determining if a worker was injured on the job isn't largely up to the worker because that would be crazy! These states use "objective standards"---basically, an independent doctor who makes no money treating workers comp, and who utilizes American Medical Association guidelines.
But in California, we don't allow independent doctors to make the judgement. The unions view the rampant abuses as a form of paid time off---a perk for their workers. And here's the proof: years ago, special interest groups including the unions pressured the politicos to make it illegal to use the AMA guidelines.
Second, when determining if a worker should get permanent disability payments---a huge slice of California's crisis---our Orwellian "no fault" laws encourage the parties to go fight it out for months in court (as the trial lawyer lobby insisted so it could get rich off the system). As a result, 50 percent of all California workers comp cases hit court. In Utah, where independent doctors determine permanent disability, 4 percent of cases hit court.
The end result is, truly injured workers get screwed and are forced into court for months, and everybody else from doctors who look the other way to lawyers who string cases along, sucks the system dry.
Reforms you'll hear touted this week by less-than-honest media spinners like Los Angeles state Sen. Richard Alarcon, such as capping some medical fees and chiropractor visits, won't end the crisis.
The reason highly irritated Costco CEO Jim Sinegal delivered 150,000 signatures from Costco workers demanding reform to the capitol this week is that businesses---and now even the workers---are sick of the lying and delaying out of Sacramento. Costco operates in 36 states in the U.S., but 70 percent of its workers compensation costs come from California.1 Think about that math. That's as good a measure of the level of corruption and wealth-creation inside California's workers compensation system as any I've heard.
In California, Workman's Comp premiums have tripled over the last two years. Businesses are already leaving the state in not inconsequential numbers. Now, couple that with also having to pay the freight for everyone's health care premiums. and, if you have more than 200 employees, the health care premiums for all your employees' families as well.
What do you think the employment situation in California will look like a year down the road?
1 Emphasis mine.
(Review) When you're a Republican politician and Jonah Goldberg is waffling on supporting you, you may have some problems with your base.
I have a big wait-and-see attitude toward the President's comments tonight. But I must say that if it weren't for the war on terrorism, I'd be a bit at a loss these days to say something nice about him given his performance of the last six months. Yes, yes, tax cuts: good. And a few other things: Good. But, I'm really fighting this feeling that when he said earlier this week that whenever someone's "hurting," the "government has to move", he essentially jumped the shark. Maybe I'm just in a down mood about politics generally, but every day it seems more and more like the President is moving the Republican Party to the kissy-huggy liberal center at the behest of Rovian imperatives. I'll tell you, if he goes all Souter when/if there's a Supreme Court vacancy, I don't what I'll do. Ramesh noted a while back that when the Democrats move left, so does the GOP because the Center gets abandoned. It seems to me that's exactly what's happening and it just bums me out.
You see, here's the thing. I'm more or less a libertarian. What I want the Federal government to do is concentrate on the few things it can do better than anybody else. Interstate highways. Talking to foreigners. Killing foreigners when talking to them doesn't do the trick. You know, the big stuff.
Other than that, I want the Feds to butt out.
What I don't want is the behemoth of the Federal government to come shuffling through the neighborhood any time someody's "hurting". The federal government's help is--at best-- a blunt intrument. It's good for whacking things that need to be whacked, but it lacks the necessary precision required for dealing with ordinary human needs. That's what city, county, and state government is supposed to be for.
All of the available evidence shows that the Federal government should be the last resort for dealing with most problems. Look, we've spent nearly 6 trillion dollars on the poor since LBJ declared war on poverty 40 years ago. We could have bought the poor every acre of farmland west of the Mississippi. We could have bought them all of the oustanding stock for all of the Fortune 500 companies. And all we really have to show for it is about the same number of poor people today that we had when LBJ was on the verge of tears about it.
Government is not the solution, it's the problem. Government does a small number of things very well, and a large number of things fairly ineffectually. Even Paul Krugman, in his academic economic work, if not his NY Times column, shows that while market failures may be more common that previously thought, government "solutions" tend to be ineffectual or worse.
So, when it comes time to vote, where does a guy like me go? I don't cvare about abortion. I'm indifferent to gay marriage. I support free trade. I want a strong national defense and an effective national security establishment. I support lower levels of taxes and regulation.
Neither party gives me that option.
The Democrats certainly aren't going to give us a strong national defense. They can talk about FDR and Harry Truman all they want, but those guys are as dead as the Democratic Party they led. Today's Democrats just aren't that party. They're too busy explaining why America is the focus of most problems in the world.
But what am I getting with the Republicans, under a president who slaps tarrifs on every foreign product he can in the hopes of getting a little voting action from organized labor? A president who thinks the Federal Government should move when anybody stubs their toe?
I live in California, where we are just beginning to see the results of the mindless attachment to "compassion" embodied in "progressive" politics, and the willingness of government to jump in with new, high-cost "solutions" to every perceived problem.
We are becoming Europe, and the rest of the country, even under a Republican president, seems fairly keen to follow.
Well, I lived in Europe for 4 years, and let me tell you, it's not as keen as people seem to think.
But that's the path we're on.
(Review) KFI News' Eric Leonard is on top of the new law--which will go into effect on 1 Jan--that allows illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses. His investigation shows that the new law is a crock. For example:
A driver's license is the only official document needed to register to vote, according to the Registrar of Voters office in Los Angeles County, California. A spokesperson there said that's because, until now, a valid license was a clear indication of legal residency.
The Registrars office confirms an illegal alien, license in hand, would simply have to lie in response to the citizenship question on the voter registration form in order to begin voting.
The office said they have no way to verify whether or not an applicant is a citizen. Voter registration forms are signed under penalty of perjury, they said, and the citizenship question is simply answered, "on the honor system."
OK. The Honor System. I see.
Gil Cedillo, Jackie Goldberg and their ilk claim that illegal aliens won't register to vote because, you see, it's illegal. Ande, naturally, illegal aliens have no interest in doing anything illegal. That would just be wrong. And Gil Cedillo is an honorable man. I guess we just have to trust his gut feeling on this.
And then, of course, there's this:
Illegal aliens have been prohibited from buying or transferring firearms since the passage of the federal Gun Control Act in 1968, but federal law enforcement sources warn the driver's license bill will enable illegals to complete seemingly-legitimate gun purchases.
Just like the voter registration documents, California gun transfer forms rely on the honor system to establish citizenship.
"If they lie on their dealer record of sale and say, 'yes they are a citizen,' when they are not, there is ... not going to be a further check completed," said Hallye Jordan, a spokesperson for the California Department of Justice.
Sources inside the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said the implications of the new driver's license rules are especially alarming in Southern California, where they say rings of traffickers smuggle weapons from the U.S. into Mexico, where the guns are sold at inflated prices on the black market.
But...but...but...guns are illegal in Mexico! They have very tough gun control laws. How can all this smuggling be going on when it's...illegal.
But, Gil Cedillo--just like all the other Democrats in the legislature--tells us not to worry, and he is an honorable man. And so are they all. All honorable men.
But what about this:
A spokesperson for California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said this week their office withdrew support for the bill after lawmakers removed provisions for electronic fingerprinting of applicants, and last week, Department of Motor Vehicles investigators warned passage would lead to rampant identity fraud.
"As peace officers, we are concerned that there are already a great number of ways to illegally obtain a DMV license," DMV Investigators Association president Richard Carillo told the Sacramento Bee newspaper.
"SB 60 doesn't require comparison of prints or documents from non-citizens with their supposed nation of origin; nor does it allow for the DMV to verify prints that should be on file with federal immigration authorities."
So, not only do I have to worry about having my identity stolen by someone who obtained a fraudulent license in my name, and then uses it to obtain credit cards, etc. for which I will be on the hook when he defaults on payment, I also have to worry about terrorists coming into the California and using the state as a more or less willing participant in their ability to obyain real live driver's licenses to help them build a fasle identity.
But Gil Cedillo says it's not a problem. And he is an honorable man.
And Gray Davis, who vetoed a tougher bill on this issue last year because it didn't have enough safeguards to prevent fraud, just wen ahead and signed this bill without a second thought. His job is on the line, see, and he needs those hispanic voters.
So forget about identity fraud, voting fraud, and the war on terrorism. Gray has an election to win, you see.
And Gray Davis, like Gil Cedillo, is an honorable man.
(Review) I have been generally remiss in keeping the blogroll kept up. I noticed, however that the QandO blog is linking to me, and, though I blush to relate it, saying nice things about me, too. Indeed, Jon refers to me as "the man whose blog got me interested in the blogosphere".
Well, there's simply no way I can fail to blogroll my own Blogson!
Be a nice person and check out the QandO blog.
The Great Migration to Movable Type is complete. I can already point out about 10 things I hate about it.
First, it uses DIV tags everywhere. I hate DIV tags! Primarily because they have the odd habit of looking bad in the browser. For example, entire lines of text sometimes disappear. Oh, they're still there, you just have to highlight them with your mouse, and they'll re-appear. But, of course, they dhouldn't be disappearing in the first place, should they?
On the other hand, it works, which is more than you can say about Blogger's reliability over the past few weeks.
And, you can tweak it in a way you can't tweak Blogger. For instance, I edited the cgi script that operates the "New Entry" process, to add a blockquote function, since that's how I quote sources in my posts. Now I just click the new button I created, and it automatically adds the BLOCKQUOTE tag to the selected text.
Oh, there's no "BLOG THIS!" button with Movable Type either. That's one seriously cool thing about Blogger. You go to a web page, click the Blog This button, and a dialog box pops up with the page title and URL already there for you.
With MT, I now have to keep the MT screen open all the time and copy-and-paste back and forth between two browser windows. That sucks pretty hard, too.
Oh, and if you're not a programmer or web developer like I am, be very, very afraid of the installation procedure. You will be shocked and sickened should you attempt to do it on your own without the requisite level of experience.
Even though I don't regularly work in PERL, I actually managed the install and importing the last few months of posts in about two hours. Of course, I've spent the last 6 hours monkeying with the template and style sheets to personalize the look from the standard templates.
Oh, MT doesn't spell-check, either, which also can't suck enough.
But, unlike Blogger, it works, and it's on MY web server, not theirs. For the last week, every time I've tried to go to Blogger to see my blog, or edit it, all I got was a DNS error, or a quick redirect to the irritating and useless MSN search screen, which, by the way, I would have bombed with B-52s if it were in my power.
Blogger is a better and more convenient product to use, especially if you're on Blogger Pro, like I was. But, obviously, no matter how cool the product is, if it isn't working, the coolness kinda leaks away.
Anyway, I'm up. Here it is.
This has been, as you might have noticed, a terrible week for blogging. Apart from my schedule, which did limit the available amount of time, blogger has also been having hideous problems. Considering I pay for blogger pro, this isn't working out for me at all.
So, I am spending this weekend trying to move over to Moveable Type. Jeez, what a pain that is turning out to be.
Hopefully, the migration will be over sometime this weekend, and I can return to a more or less reliable schedule of blogging. I have to say say though, as a Microsoft developer, jumping through all the PERL hoops isn't my idea of fun.
I'm thinking of trying to create a .NET blogging engine...
As I'm sure you've noticed, blogging has been light this week, as I've had to deal with the real world. Sorry.
(Review) Bill Saletan wonders if John Kerry's campaign can be saved, but you get the impression that he kind of doubts it.
I can't get a rude but persistent question out of my mind: Can you believe this guy fought in Vietnam?And no amount of pusturing in front of aircraft carriers will change that.
He did, of course. He's the only candidate in this race who did. He earned the Silver Star and Bronze Star and was wounded three times. I didn't serve in that war (I was, among other things, too young), nor did most of my colleagues in the press. I respect what Kerry did and endured. Still, I look at him and wonder how such a brave warrior became such a cautious politician.
Lately, I've thought about Kerry's service when I watch Howard Dean, the candidate Kerry is trying to overtake. Now, there's a guy who looks like he fought in Vietnam. Dean's words always seem to be holding back an inferno of anger. John McCain was the same way. Kerry is the opposite: He claims to be angry, but you look at him and can't believe it. His body doesn't live up to his words. When Kerry disagrees with you, he makes you feel as though the disagreement is his problem. When Dean disagrees with you, he makes you feel as though it's your problem. I know Kerry fought and Dean didn't. But it's still hard to believe.
Speaking of which, where are all the Democrats decrying Kerry's use of of an aircraft carrier for a campaign photo op? They seemed pretty PO'd when it was the Commander-in-Chief doing it.