November 30, 2002
BUY NOTHING DAY
BUY NOTHING DAY: Rod Dreher endorses (at least to some extent) the latest "Left-Green-Christian plan for Saving The Planet (TM)" (as Steven Chapman called it). It's official: this cruncy-con thing must be stopped.
A THANKSGIVING TURKEY
A THANKSGIVING TURKEY: Last night Dave and I finally saw Bowling for Columbine. P.J. O'Rourke once wrote that Bill Clinton seemed like he "knew what he was talking about—until he talked about something I knew." The wonder of the blogosphere is that there's someone out there who knows something about everything. Enter the name Michael Moore into the Search field on InstaPundit, and you'll find dozens of people who know-- Canadians who know he's lying about what Canada is like, Littletonians who know he's lying about what the Lockheed Martin plant near Columbine High School makes (sattelite launchers, mostly), historians know he's lying about history, and reporters who know he's lying about Tamara Owens, the probably drug-addicted mother who's son took a gun to school from the crackhouse they were living in (Moore portrays her as an honest, responsible, and hardworking mother victimized by welfare reform). B.S. doesn't fly quite like it used to-- but then again, people who care about actual facts aren't this movie's target audience.
November 28, 2002
GIVING THANKS-- FOR PRIVATE PROPERTY
GIVING THANKS-- FOR PRIVATE PROPERTY: James S. Robbins tells the story of the Pilgrim's privatization of 1623.
Fun fact: Robbins may be a closet libertarian! He was once a contributing editor to Liberty; during the (first) Gulf War, he was a stalwart hawk alongside isolationists (sorry, "non-interventionists") like R.W. Bradford and Sheldon Richman. If you think about it, his little parable-- of the Pilgrims' communalism, born of religion, and its failure-- has an almost Randian anti-religious subtext that is very un-National Review.
November 26, 2002
AM I PSYCHIC?
AM I PSYCHIC?: Dave Weigel emails that this Washington Post article makes me look "prescient." Well, sort of; the post he's refering to was talking about the race card in the next election, not just in Capitol Hill whining. If only I'd been less specific-- that's how the pros do it. This certainly doesn't mean it won't be a campaign issue, and actually makes it more likely, since black Democrats are starting to think about it. But I won't start gloating just yet.
THAT NELLY-BOY GORE
THAT NELLY-BOY GORE: On a day when Al Gore gets a 19% favorable rating and a 43% unfavorable (buried pretty deep, naturally, in the New York Times report), aren't there ways to mock him that, unlike this graphic from the NRO homepage, would not depend on implicitly calling him queer?
I do have thoughts on gay marriage, but if you're interested in the topic you probably read Andrew Sullivan anyway. (Actually, it was Deroy Murdock who had the best suggestion I've seen.) As to the politics, Kurtz's idea-- that gay marriage will help Republicans-- may be true in the short term, but very wrong in the long term. Why? Young voters, of course. From Sunday's Washington Post:
The survey found that the nation's youngest voters, who turn out in very low numbers on Election Day, are significantly different from the rest of the electorate. Their libertarian views cut across the social and economic spectrum. They support gay marriage and are more suspicious of religious values in public life, making them fair game for the Democrats. But they are also the only age group with majority support for partial privatization of Social Security (62 percent) and school vouchers (56 percent), both Republican issues.If Republicans define themselves as the anti-gay party, they'll risk forfeiting their electoral advantage in the coming decades. If Democrats are savvy enough to grow a free market wing (admittedly not on the immediate horizon), Republicans could be in real trouble.
As these voters grow older and turn out in larger numbers over the next decade, they are the only age group in which a plurality of people identify themselves as Republicans, edging Democrats by a 46-to-41 margin. This suggests not only that the Democratic Party cannot depend on the electorate of the future to restore its competitiveness, but also that the party faces intensified conflicts between its traditional constituencies and the more libertarian young electorate.
I hate the term "eagles," which Andrew Sullivan has coined for the pro-defense neo-libertarians that have risen to prominence (at least on the Web) since 9/11, primarily because it reminds me of the Eagle Forum, and Sullivan's eagles have little in common with Phyllis Schlafly. But I am delighted at the prospect of this ideological bearing becoming a serious political force in the future.
November 25, 2002
A QUESTION FOR "HEADLINE WRITERS"
A QUESTION FOR "HEADLINE WRITERS": What's with the scare quotes on "Faith-Based" in this front page Washington Post story? I don't think the faith-based initiative idea is a good one-- churches do good charity work as much because of their independence from the morass of government bureaucracy as because of their faith-- but I don't see anything wrong with the idea's name. Maybe the WaPo editors think that the word "faith" is sugar coating, and "support to religious groups" is somehow less slanted. I don't see it.
November 23, 2002
SENATOR NO, FAILURE
SENATOR NO, FAILURE: I'd almost missed Jonathan Rauch's intelligent assessment of Jesse Helms, a hero to conservatives who shouldn't be.
PLAYING NICE: Jonah Goldberg, responding in The Corner to the only thing I had time to link to yesterday, says that libertarians should be more respectful of conservatives if they expect the same. Apparantly, he hasn't noticed how libertarians treat each other, let alone conservatives. I think it was Cato founder Ed Crane who said something like when two libertarians agree with each other, both think the other sold out. Abortion and immigration have been contentious in the past, but after Sept. 11, unsurprisingly, the foreign policy fission has gotten particularly bitter at times (if you read blogs widely, you probably have an inkling of what I mean; Brink Lindsey mentioned this most recently here).
The Libertarian Party is not a serious political project, and those who really think it can be are dwindling in number (along with party registration roles). Small-l libertarians make fun of the LP way more than Jonah Goldberg ever has. As to the sniping at conservatives, it comes naturally to many libertarians who arrived at their politics in large part by what disgusted them about some quarters of the right. It's often stupid and childish, but don't sweat it; we'll fight about it amongst ourselves ("Don't call Bush a moron! Would you prefer Gore?" "He wouldn't be any worse!" "You're nuts!"). The point of Barnett's piece was to suggest ways the Right can welcome libertarians into their political coalition; the Republicans are better positioned to win by picking up libertarian votes than the LP is to win by picking up conservative votes. In fact, this was the weakest suggestion Barnett made; specific ideological deliniation-- or even a few cheap laugh at the libertoids' expense-- is more important to many conservative writers than coalition-building. If it wasn't, they probably wouldn't be "conservative writers," at least not primarily; they'd be working for a PAC.
November 22, 2002
G.O.P. MACHERS: I really hope you read this.
(NB: Macher is today's Yiddish vocab word!)
November 20, 2002
DESPERATION: Mickey Kaus noted last week that "It's come to this for Democrats," linking to a hilarious form where hysterical lefties can email Olympia Snowe, Lincoln Chafee and Arlen Specter, and beg them to change parties before the eeeevil right-wingers start mobilizing the federal government to drown babies for the fun of it. TomPaine.com ran a version of the plea in an ad on the New York Times editorial page today; Michael Kieschnick's WorkingAssets.com piece is plugged at the bottom. Dave Weigel has an amusing dissection of the simple errors of fact rampant in the piece.
I have to wonder if the NYT would accept editorial-page ads from a right-wing group, whether or not it was equally hysterical and sloppy.
November 17, 2002
THE WSJ VS. SEX
THE WSJ VS. SEX: When the Wall Street Journal-- or anyone else-- lauds "a remarkable coalition of Christian evangelicals and feminists," it's time to be worried. While I've no doubt that there is terrible exploitation and general nastiness in the sex trade (the Journal's article has some lurid examples), this is inherent in anything pushed underground, largely by government sanction. No, I'm not saying that in the lawless third world, the life of a prostitute is "empowering" because it's legal, but I would venture to guess that in Nevada-- where liberal democracy, rule of law, due process and all that good first-world stuff reigns in addition to debauchery and sin-- prostitutes are a lot better off than in parts where their trade is illegal.
The WSJ actually framed this (at least on the website) as an attack on Hillary. I'm not Mrs. (Ms.?) Clinton's biggest booster, but doesn't their tagline sort of mis-state her position? It says "Hillary Clinton backs 'voluntary' prostitution." The article says:
...Sen. Hillary Clinton rightly attacked this trafficking as "nothing less than the equivalent of modern-day slavery." Like so many voices at this conference, though, Mrs. Clinton's anti-trafficking rhetoric is belied by an ideological disposition--pushed during her husband's administration--to try to exempt from prosecution pimps and handlers of women who have "voluntarily" chosen prostitution.Impeachment was also "pushed during her husband's administration," but I don't think she was ever for it...
November 15, 2002
SECRET BLOGS?: Mickey Kaus, reflecting on the subtle distinction between communications between candidates and interest groups, and the campaign-finance-law distinctions over public vs. private, floats this idea (via "alert kf reader B.B."):
What if Coleman had just had a blog, where he routinely hinted at the kinds of new ads, media buys and other free speech activities he hoped other concerned citizens might undertake against Mondale? ... And what if the URL for this "public" blog wasn't all that widely known?(Ellipses in original) Give me a break. How could a blog for any candidate-- at least for an office major enough to attract soft money-- not attract attention from other blogs? Someone would google the candidate's name (or the state or whatever), realize that there's a blog, point it out to Instapundit, and then any privacy-loophole would be gone.
This isn't to say that a blog wouldn't be useful for a candidate. In addition to communicating to soft-money interests what message he wants to get out, a blog could be a rallying point for campaign workers and a way of creating buzz without relying on journalists. But without password protection (which I'm pretty sure would qualify as private communication) or some search-engine-foiling trickery (which would be pretty iffy, legally speaking) web pages that deal with things people are interested in will be found. On the Internet, anyone can hear you whisper.
November 13, 2002
I WONDER: Will not supporting Harold Ford, Jr. over Nancy Pelosi (as most Democrats won't) come back to haunt current House Democrats in future campaigns? Republicans don't usually play the race card, but primaries can get ugly.
(This is one of those things where if it happens in two years, I can link back and show how smart I am, and if it doesn't, you won't remember. Win-win!)
November 12, 2002
PARTIAL-BIRTH'S WORTH: The Washington Post reports on conflicts among Republicans on how hard to push the pro-life agenda. Glenn Reynolds expounds on the unlikelihood of overturning Roe v. Wade. I find it worrisome that, according to Glenn, the prospect of agitators on the Supreme Court steps might affect the Court's jurisprudence (even in the reverse-psychology manner he suggests). Glenn also links to a Connecticut Law Review article in which he and Dave Kopel point out that directly regulating abortion is beyond the authority of Congress, Constitutionally speaking; the article is "scholarly," meaning written for people who are paid to read it, but the gist is fairly intuititive. Their key point is that there's a strong federalist argument against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, but that opponents of the ban rarely use it (because the left actually favors extra-Constitutional Congressional authority).
The policy argument that defenders of partial-birth abortion (I forget the medical euphemism) do make is that a ban mustn't threaten the "health" of the mother. Conservatives rightly point out that this language is broad enough to include just about anything, given the general acceptance of the concept of "mental health." The conservative alternative-- protecting the "life" of the mother-- is likewise seen as over-narrow by advocates of abortion as a right. (Doesn't the AP style "abortion-rights advocate" tip the balance toward pro-choice assumptions?) The best argument opponents of a ban have is the mothers who would not be able to give birth again without the procedure-- which is why Bill Clinton had those mothers, holding their children, standing behind him when he vetoed the ban.
So why has no one suggested a modified Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act allowing for an exception to protect the mother's future ability to conceive? This seems to me to be most in the "pro-life" spirit; I suspect it's never come up because it wouldn't score many political points for either partisan base.
If the Bush judges are such doctrinaire originalists as left-leaning talking heads suggest, a federal ban on partial-birth abortion-- along with one on cloning, stem-cell research, etc.-- shouldn't stand a chance. And if these fights are fought where they should be, in the state legislatures, then it should be no big deal for people who really care about abortion politics (and, more importantly, laboratories that want to do research on blastocysts) to move to a more hospitable state.
November 11, 2002
AWAKE: No, I didn't sleep for 5 days; away-from-the-net travel prevented posting. But if you've been sleeping too well, this should keep you up.
November 06, 2002
THE BATTLE OF WOUNDED KNEE
THE BATTLE OF WOUNDED KNEE: Since I can't sleep, I've been watching the returns trickle in from South Dakota. Dave Weigel (before he went to bed two hours ago) did the analysis of the counties, and discovered that Shannon, where two of the three outstanding precincts are, is very heavily Democratic; there's an Indian reservation there, the site of Wounded Knee. (The news rarely discusses the politics of outstanding precincts and never discusses their ethnic or socio-economic make-up. Political Correctness lives.) Daves predicting (since Thune's lead is currently under 200 votes) that this'll put Johnson over the top. Tom Daschle, according to Kathryn Jean Lopez, is also saying that Johnson will win-- but that it will be it'll be weeks before it's certain.
I CAN'T SLEEP
I CAN'T SLEEP: It's nearly 7:30. I've been up since mid-day yesterday. In the mirror I look really tired, but I'm so pumped up from election night (more from the energy coming out of the online political-junkie network as any stake I have in the Republican win) that I can barely feel the sleepiness. I have things I need to do today that will require prior rest, but I just don't feel like going to bed. So maybe blogging will tire me out.
OVERHEARD: A conversation Dave heard with Mark Kirk: "Connie [Morella] lost." "So now you're the most liberal Republican..."
A REPUBLICAN NIGHT
A REPUBLICAN NIGHT: Fun to be with the happy side tonight. Mark Kirk won by a landslide, and though Illinois Republicans didn't do so well at the state level (okay, it's a bloodbath-- Chicago now owns Springfield), the Kirk victory and the national Republican surge lifted spirits.
The Chambliss victory took me by surprise (kudos to Karl Rove for seizing an opportunity there, as presidential campaigning appeared to tip the balance); other than that, my Senate predictions have been spot on. But (and it's a big but)... South Dakota, Missouri, Colorado, and Minnesota are still un-called. What's more, Dave Weigel's late analysis of the counties left to report in Colorado suggests that Allard, who's in the lead, is well positioned to win. (I'm blogging from Dave's room at the moment.) Good news for Republicans, bad news for my track record as political-psychic. UPDATE: Stephen Green says Fox has called for Allard. Dave and I hadn't seen that yet.
November 05, 2002
A REPUBLICAN PARTY
A REPUBLICAN PARTY: I'm spending election night at Mark Kirk's re-election party. I say re-election party because the liberal (but pro-defense) Republican is guaranteed to win, so the suburban GOP troops should be in a good mood. (No, it's not open to the public, but I have ins.) There's a slim chance I might find an internet hook-up; barring that, my notes on the evening will be up in the morning. (It's not like you can't find other blogs commenting on the election returns, anyway.)
START SLOW-ROASTING THE CROW
START SLOW-ROASTING THE CROW: Early exit polls from Drudge show I might have been wrong in Georgia and North Carolina (though Dole and Bowles have see-sawed during the day), and Josh Marshall's numbers show I might have been off with New Hampshire. (Marshall's numbers are apparently from earlier in the day-- and he still has Dole ahead-- but Drudge doesn't have NH). UPDATE: Now Drudge has Sununu up in NH. And now VNS is scrapping their exit polls, meaning wildly unreliable internet forecasts are all we'll have to go on until the actual votes are counted. Imagine!
ON A LIMB
ON A LIMB: Yes, I'm going to make election predictions. After the election, I want to mock people who made ridiculous predictions, and I can't really do so without going on record myself.
Arkansas: Pryor (D gain) Isn't it ironic that Hutchinson was hurt by marital infidelity (with a staffer who later became his second wife) in the land of Clinton?
Minnesota: Coleman (R gain) Tough call, but I think the memorial/rally and the debate might send Mondale back into deep-freeze. Recounts-- and litigation over absentee ballots-- very likely.
South Carolina: Graham (R hold)
Colorado: Strickland (D gain) Allard's numbers are pretty weak for an incumbent. Governor Owen's re-election will have some coattails, but my guess is not enough.
Missouri: Talent (R gain) Talent takes office as soon as the election is certified, which under Missouri law could be the next day, but even if there isn't a recount battle, there might be a fight about when to certify the election (the Democratic Governor may drag his feet). If the Dems don't net a loss, but Talent wins, (and/or Coleman wins, if he's going to take office in mid-November, which is still unclear), expect a nasty fight over whether to have a lame-duck session and whether to pass an organizing resolution if there is one.
South Dakota: Thune (R gain) This is a coin flip. Literally-- a Canadian tooney I grabbed out of the foreign coin jar on this desk came up heads. If it had been tales, I'd've called for Johnson. Has Charlie Cook tried this?
Georgia: Cleland (D hold) This will be close, but I think the Chambliss upset is still a long shot.
New Hampshire: Sununu (R hold) Shaheen's momentum has been hyped enough that a mini-backlash is possible.
Tennessee: Alexander (R hold)
Iowa: Harkin (D hold)
New Jersey: Lautenberg (D hold) Hey, kids, do you like to win? Try cheating!
Texas: Cornyn (R hold)
North Carolina: Dole (R hold) Josh Marshall says, "I really sense that... [either Texas or North Carolina] is going to come out Democratic." I really sense he's wrong.
Lousiana: There will be a run-off; tentatively, I'll predict Landrieu wins the run-off (that would be a D hold), but things can change a lot in a month.
So, assuming the Landrieu victory, that gives us a net gain of 1 for the Republicans, leaving the senate 50 to 49+1, with Cheney as tie-breaker (that's in January-- after the lame-duck confusion and before the potential Lincoln Chafee switch). A couple days ago I was thinking the Democrats would hold the Senate and possibly gain a seat or two, but the late polls showing a national Republican surge have intrigued me enough that I changed my New Hampshire pick, and the coin said Thune. So there you go.
November 04, 2002
MEET DEAN BARKLEY
MEET DEAN BARKLEY: Third-party-watcher Micah L. Sifry profiles the newly appointed Independent Senator from Minnesota for The American Prospect Online. (Congrats to the post-Chris Mooney TAP Online for running something worth reading, for once.) Sifry's prediction on what Barkley might mean for the Senate (and remember, it's unclear how long he'll be staying there):
If I had to guess, I'd say that Barkley isn't likely to align himself with either Trent Lott or Tom Daschle if control of the Senate, even temporarily, comes down to his vote. He'll caucus alone and vote his conscience. That will probably not be good news for any of the GOP's rightwing judicial nominees, or for special interests hoping to sneak more corporate welfare into the spending bills that have to be resolved during the coming lame duck session. Then again, Barkley's also not likely to roll over for organized labor on the homeland defense civil service issue, nor is he a free trade critic like Wellstone.How to read the line about it "not being good news" for judges? The current struggle is over the fact that the judiciary comittee won't even allow Bush's judges to face a floor vote. If the Republicans control the Senate, that'll change, and many of the nominees-- who aren't nearly so "rightwing" as Sifry's editors at TAP might have us believe-- will be confirmed easily. If Barkley really cares about scuttling judicial nominees, he'll back the Democrats; if he's philosophically loose-constructionist, but also as fiercely independent as Sifry makes him sound, he may prefer to let the Republicans bring their nominees to the floor-- where he can vote against them.
PAGE ONE MEETS PAGE SIX
PAGE ONE MEETS PAGE SIX: Deliciously catty political gossip from The Prowler:
"Someone is going to have to look at how many candidates Gore campaigned for in the last week of the election and how many of them lost," says a Democratic National Committee staffer. "He was just a disaster. Whoever was supposed to prep him did an awful job. All he talked about was himself. No upbeat message, no rallying cry for the candidates. Just him."I wouldn't be surprised if Republicans started giving money to Gore for his 2004 primary campaign; he's the dream opponent, at this point.
YOU DON'T SAY
YOU DON'T SAY: "[T]he race now turns on which candidate can get more of his supporters to the polls." -Jim Geraghty (Apologies to Best of the Web for the headline. Apparently, Geraghty is trying to lift NRO readers' spirits by pretending New Jersey is actually an exciting race, instead of the completely hopeless one it appears to be.)
ATTACK OF THE LAWYERS
ATTACK OF THE LAWYERS: I covered some of the legal questions in Minnesota below. Byron York goes over some of the others. As Mickey Kaus puts it, "A smooth election with winners and losers -- there's your Man Bites Dog story!" Kaus is actually running a "Pick Your Florida" contest. I think his favorite scenario-- where the Democrats do better than expected and control of the House comes down to party-switchers-- is the least likely. Dave Weigel even thinks (at least, as of last week's predictions) that there will be no December run-off in Louisiana (a possibility York discusses in the article linked above). Maybe it's Man Bites Dog after all? (I doubt it.)
QUESTIONS IN MINNESOTA
QUESTIONS IN MINNESOTA: Gov. Jesse Ventura appointed his advisor, Dean Barkley about the same time as the Mondale-Coleman debate. Questions:
1. Who will Barkley, an Independent, caucus with? Jim Jeffords, the other Indy senator, backs the Democrats; Barkley said in a Fox News phone interview a short while ago that he didn't know yet. It's therefore unclear which party controls the Senate right now.
2. Does he serve until January, or only for a few days? There was some thought that whoever won the election would take office as soon as he's certified, which is how this statute reads to me, but now the lawyers seem confused over whether this is the statute that applies.
3. If he serves until January, will the winner of the election affect Barkley's decision on who to caucus with?
4. The confusion with absentee ballots suggests that if the election is close (as it appears it will be), there will be lawsuits. Will the legal wranglings affect Barkley's decision on who to caucus with?
5. If he decides to caucus with a different party than the winner of the election, will there be lawsuits to determine whether he serves until January?
6. Since they're saying that Coleman won the debate, did Ventura help Mondale by drawing attention away from it? (I'm not in Minnesota, so I don't know how this was handled on TV, and of course if the debate is replayed later when more people are watching, then it becomes a moot point.)
7. Can we get Marge Gunderson to straighten everything out?