September 27, 2003


A CPA informs me that John Rowland has raised sales and income taxes in Connecticut, something I overlooked in my latest TCS piece. In that piece, I wrote:

Two other Blue State governors have also signed the [Americans for Tax Reform] pledge. One is John Rowland of Connecticut, who's pro-choice and has signed a domestic partnership bill into law. Though both Rowland and his legislature are now rather unpopular thanks to the Nutmeg State's budget stand-off, Rowland's anti-tax pledge has served him well in the past; he's now in his third term.

While that is all technically correct, it is important to note that Rowland violated the ATR pledge in 2002. None of the poll analyses that I looked at while researching my piece mentioned this as a component of his current unpopularity, strangely, instead seeming to argue that Rowland was unpopular for not compromising on taxes.

This is certainly not fatal to my thesis, and it actually may bolster a somewhat related argument that Grover Norquist made last week.

Posted by John Tabin at 12:45 AM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2003

Lang Lang Plays Plays a Mean Mean Piano Piano

I have a new review up at The American Enterprise Online of a new album featuring the extraordinary young Chinese pianist Lang Lang with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Posted by John Tabin at 04:02 PM | Comments (0)

The Low-Tax Liberals

Must the "moderate" Republican compromise on every issue? Of course not. I have a new piece up at on the culturally liberal but genuinely economically conservative Republican governors who are succeeding in the Blue States.

Posted by John Tabin at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2003

Old Joke, New Suit

An item of Tabin family lore: As a precocious toddler, I held up an action figure and made this very pun on the make of my mother's car at the time. There was no ensuing legal action.

(Mine wasn't nearly as big as the doll pictured-- the oil embargo was still a relatively fresh memory, and thus we had to make do with less plastic. Remember how GI Joes shrunk, and only grew back to 60s proportions in the 90s?)

Posted by John Tabin at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2003

Fun With LexisNexis

A new poll shows Gen. Wesley Clark tied with President Bush:

Clark, a retired Army general, garnered 49 percent support to Bush's 46 percent, which is essentially a tie given the poll's margin of error.

To put that into perspective, let's set the Wayback Machine to October 31, 1995. Chuck Raasch reported in the Chicago Sun-Times that day (no link-- Lexis is a subscription service):

If the presidential election were today, Colin Powell would easily defeat President Clinton and narrowly win a three-way race as an independent against Clinton and Sen. Robert Dole, according to a new poll.

The poll, by Louis Harris and Associates Inc., gave Powell a 49 percent to 33 percent advantage in a two-way race against Clinton, with 14 percent saying they probably would not vote, and another 4 percent saying they were not sure.

The difference between the two generals, of course, is that Clark is actually running. But the comparison is illustrative in one respect: at the time that poll was taken, little was known about Powell's policy positions; the same is true of Clark. (In Clark's case, his positions appear to be unknown even to Clark himself.)

Unlike Powell, Clark actually has to start articulating specific positions on a whole range of issues-- not just a whole range of positions on a specific issue. Which is to say that Clark's current level of popularity is at least as likely to be a ceiling as a floor, if not more so.

UPDATE: I seem to have won the lottery for the first link in the Carnival-- welcome new traffic! For an earlier post on Clark/Powell parallels, check here. And feel free to explore the rest of the site.

Posted by John Tabin at 01:48 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2003

Here Comes the Story of the Hurricane

You may have seen these pictures floating around the Internet. They don't actually show last week's hurricane, but if you fell for the hoax you're not the only one-- one of the local news channels in Baltimore was showing these on Friday.

Apart from some flickering, our electricity stayed on through the whole storm, but traffic lights just a couple of blocks away are still out. (This makes for rather treacherous driving; the rule that a broken stoplight should be treated as a stop sign is, to put it mildly, not universally observed.) All county schools were closed today, and several of the local schools are staying closed tomorrow for flooding or electrical problems. Should you happen to need news on Baltimore County school closings, check here.

We stopped at an animal shelter over the weekend and put a deposit on a dog. If our application is approved, we may name her Isabel.

Posted by John Tabin at 07:38 PM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2003

Isabel Ringing

The lights have already flickered briefly here, so the computer is going off as a precaution. Also, my girlfriend is a Baltimore County Public School teacher, and she has a weather-related four day weekend, and sitting in front of the computer working and blogging is far less appealing than curling up on the couch together and listening to the storm. See you next week.

Posted by John Tabin at 07:47 PM | Comments (1)

September 17, 2003

Clark News Network

CNN is keeping up a split screen showing Gen. Wesley Clark shaking hands during a discussion of his candidacy with Judy Woodruff. Woodruff interviewed Clark yesterday; he also appeared this morning on America Morning. Just in case you missed those or just can't get enough, he's also appearing with Aaron Brown tonight on Newsnight.

One might think that after giving Clark so much free exposure as an Iraq War commentator in the spring, CNN would be reticent about seeming to become Clark's personal soapbox. One might be wrong.

Posted by John Tabin at 03:26 PM | Comments (2)

September 16, 2003

Hollywood for Ugly People

I briefly reviewed the premier of K Street here yesterday. I now have a complete review of the HBO show up on the American Prowler (the American Spectator's website).

Posted by John Tabin at 12:09 AM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2003

A Boomlet for a General

With an air of military gravitas, he's an empty vessel into which one's fantasy positions can be poured, and he comes from a demographic that his party would love to win.

This could be General Wesley Clark, the former NATO Commander who's expected to either join the presidential race, or not, this week-- and who is already on multiple short-lists for vice presidential nominee. But it could also be Colin Powell in 1996 and 2000; there were similar boomlets on the Republican side for a Powell candidacy, also for either the presidency or vice presidency.

Why are some Democrats obsessed with him? He's a blank slate for their hopes. It's hard to believe that the Arkansas native could really add a competitive edge in the South, but many doubted that Colin Powell would really attract that many black votes-- that didn't stop some Republicans from dreaming of the General for either position on a Republican ticket. And now it's the Dem's turn.

The latest Democrat to dream is reportedly Bill Clinton himself. Perhaps Clinton's angle it to get a friend into a position of influence in the event of a Democratic administration; that way there's no need to gamble away Hillary's future. I'm sure Dick Morris has his own conspiracy theory brewing.

Posted by John Tabin at 01:19 AM | Comments (0)

The James and Mary Show

K-Street, Steven Soderbergh's new series on HBO, premiered last night. It stars James Carville and Mary Matalin as themselves in a fictionalized version of the real political world; a tight production schedule has them filming the week before it airs, so the plots are based on real life. The premier had Carville, along with guest-star Paul Begala, coaching Howard Dean, who appears as himself, for the Baltimore debate, and feeding Dean some of his best real-life lines. (This, much to the chagrin of Matalin, who's worried about losing clients for their consulting firm-- she and the firm's other Republican assure such clients as Don Nickles and Rick Santorum-- who, you guessed it, appear as themselves-- that Carville is just freelancing and this has nothing to do with the firm.)

This is all very strange and meta. And for a political junky, at least for this first episode, it's mesmerizing.

Posted by John Tabin at 12:47 AM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2003

You Read Lileks Today, Didn't you?

If not, don't miss it.

Posted by John Tabin at 10:08 PM | Comments (1)

Two Years Later

I have little to say, except to link back to my post from a year ago today, the thrust of which is a gentler version of the point Christopher Hitchens made on Monday.

Posted by John Tabin at 02:17 PM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2003

Theft? Or Charity?

I was amused to notice this at the bookstore today:

Note the bottom line ("Author of If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates"). If his previous book argued against voting, isn't it a bit strange for Hightower to claim the country has been stolen? Perhaps the tagline ought to be "We've given our country away and it's time to take it back." Of course, that would make Hightower a cowboy and Indian giver. (Rimshot!)

Posted by John Tabin at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2003

Why Hillary Won't Run

Mark Steyn says she should*, Kathryn Jean Lopez is convinced she will, and John Derbyshire thinks she will even (especially?) when she says she won't. But Hillary Clinton is not running for president in 2004.

Steyn asserts that "the party's busting to hand [Hillary] the nomination, [and she] only get[s] one opportunity to refuse," but this presumed "busting" is based not on the feelings of Democratic activists (who are focused, some excitedly and some nervously, on Howard Dean), but on national polls of Democrats; with most voters not yet paying attention, of course the former First Lady wins what is for the most part a name-ID measure.

Steyn also writes:

The way to look at it is like this: What does she have to gain by waiting four years? If Bush wins a second term, the Clinton aura will be very faded by 2008. And, if by some weird chance Bush loses to a Howard Dean, she's going to have to hang around till 2012. Logic dictates that, if Hillary wants to be president, it's this year or none.

Well, no. In 2012 Hillary will be 65-- old, but not deathwatch territory. (George H.W. Bush was 64 when he took office; Ronald Reagan was nearly 70.) A lot can happen between now and then, or between now and 2008; only some of the possibilities have to do with fading aura. While it's true that Hillary takes a risk by sitting this one out, the risks are not as grave as some portray them-- particularly when weighed against the risks of running too soon.

If Hillary loses, her presidential hopes are probably over; re-nominating losing presidential candidacies is generally seen as out of style. Perhaps more crucially, running would mean breaking her promise to New Yorkers that she'd serve out her first term-- which could put her Senate seat in serious jeopardy if the New York GOP manages to field a strong candidate. A 2006 loss could easily mean a permanent end to her political life.

My bet: That's a risk she's not going to take.

*Actually, Steyn says that Hillary would be the ideal if you're a Democrat and "you seriously believe that Bush is defeatable"-- he mischievously declines to mention whether or not he shares that belief.

Posted by John Tabin at 12:47 AM | Comments (1)