October 30, 2003
I'm going out of town; this site won't be updated until at least Monday.
Cross Over, Children
Just because you're a not a Democrat doesn't mean you shouldn't vote in the Democratic primary. So I argue in my newest piece at The American Spectator online.
(Can you cite the reference in the title to this post? Click here for the answer.)
October 27, 2003
Lampooning the Best Sellers
This is hilarious. It's unsigned, and my friend Phil Haney, who works at National Lampoon, isn't sure off-hand who the author is, but kudos, whoever you are.
The Spectator Online's Return
The website of The American Spectator, to which I contribute, has been redesigned, and is now called by the logical name of American Spectator online, rather than the confusing American Prowler. The latter was the name of the website started by former TASers when the print magazine was owned by George Gilder (and moving toward a somewhat different editorial character); the old team has since bought the print magazine back. The two names survived until now, and I salute the change-- I was getting tired of explaining this.
October 23, 2003
The 9/11 Generation
My friend Ryan Vooris emailed me yesterday about a new poll showing that support for President Bush is, perhaps surprisingly given the climate on most campuses, significantly higher than in the general population. ("Talk about a silent majority," wrote Ryan.) I was planning on blogging about this, but I couldn't do better than Tom Bevan's analysis at RealClearPolitics. Bevan looks at the internals on the poll, comparing them to the nation at large and Democrats in early primary states (the latter of whom are shockingly unconcerned about terrorism and national security). Bevan's theory: "Maybe the answer is that for this group of people, most of whom were in high school at the time, September 11 really did change everything."
I have a new book review at The American Prowler, examining Mark Palmer's dreams of ousting dictators and, more briefly, Riccardo Orizio's interviews with some that have already been ousted.
October 20, 2003
Twenty Million Derbs? Nope.
John Derbyshire writes that if a well funded third party candidate seriously addressed immigration, "and should that candidate's campaign not be derailed by the machinations of his opponents or the media, or by some gross blunder of his own, he will get at least 20 million votes next November -- more than Ross Perot got in 1992."
To which I say: Um... no.
In a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll of 900 registered voters conducted May 6-7, 2003, only 1% of those surveyed cited immigration as one of the two most important issues for the federal government to address. (This was the most recent most-important-issue poll I could find where immigration even registered; I got it out of Lexis, so no link).
Extrapolating from the 2000 registration figures, this means that there's a constituency of about 1.5 million for whom immigration reform is a top priority; if 2000 turnout patterns hold, and assuming immigration hawks do not differ significantly from the general population, about 1 million of those would actually vote.
By contrast, in an October 1991 Gallup poll (albeit not one limited to registered voters), 14% cited the Federal budget deficit, one of Ross Perot's signature issues, as the most important issue facing the country. (No link-- Lexis again.)
It would seem the Derb has fallen for the "I am the world" fallacy. He isn't the first.
Out of Iowa
Joe Lieberman and Wes Clark are skipping the Iowa Caucuses, focusing on the later primaries that they have a better shot at. It will be interesting to see the polls out of Iowa in a week or so; if Gephardt picks up the handful of likely caucus-goers who were leaning toward Lieberman and/or Clark, he'll be in a much more comfortable position; if not, Dean will gain an edge. The dynamics in the middle of the pack might also change; a third-place showing in Iowa could be valuable for either Kerry or Edwards.
With Dean as frontrunner and strategic shifts designed to grab the mantle of anti-Dean, this primary race may become quite divisive-- which, as this Larry Sabato analysis from earlier this month explains, would not bode well for the nominee.
The More Things Change...
"We have swept away Hitlerism, but a great many Europeans feel that the cure has been worse than the disease."
-John Dos Passos, Life magazine, January 7, 1946, "Americans are Losing the Victory in Europe"
(Just in case anyone still hadn't seen this.)
October 16, 2003
October 13, 2003
Feel Free To Skip This Post...
...if you think dog-blogging is lame, but I promise I'll make it quick. My household recently had a new addition, a two-year-old dachshund/beagle mix whom we adopted from the SPCA. Ladies and gentlemen: Gatsby!
October 10, 2003
Touching a Nerve
I was wondering why I was all of a sudden getting dozens upon dozens of hits from the Google search for "I hate Radiohead". It seems a New York Post article yesterday examined the strange phenomenom of those who refuse to worship at the alter of Thom, Jonny, and the gang; the Post article contained this line:
Check Google and you'll find nearly a thousand hits for phrases like "I hate Radiohead," "Radiohead sucks" and "Radiohead is overrated."
So a bunch of readers did just that-- and this website is the first hit for "I hate Radiohead," the title of this post, which now features comments by several Radiohead fans. I could hardly scare up an angrier bunch of people if I urinated on a Koran live on al Jazeera.
October 08, 2003
I'm watching the coverage of Governor-Elect Schwarzenegger's victory. I must admit I'm having fun.
Check out the returns. When all is counted, Arnold will have gotten more votes that Gray Davis got in 2002. His total may exceed 50%. The GOP total-- Schwarzenegger+McClintock-- is going to land north of 60%. Remember, we're talking about California.
Arnold is among the strongest candidates I've ever seen; his victory speech, in particular, was terrific, sounding all the right bridge-building notes. But there's no doubt that his South Park Republicanism brought new voters to the polls; as I've argued*, this is a growing trend among Blue State Republican governors. If Arnold is able to govern effectively, he may become emblematic of a durable wing in the Republican coalition.
What could that mean for the future of American politics? Well... it's getting late.
*Note this addendum to that piece.
October 07, 2003
The Recall will pass, and Arnold Schwarzenegger will be elected. I'm not far out on a limb (or if I am, it's a really crowded limb), but I happen to think in this case that the majority of political analysts have it right. Remember, just because a view is contrarian doesn't mean it's correct.
Post-election litigation? If I had to bet, I'd bet against it-- but if it does come, it won't surprise me much.
One Down, Nine to Go
Bob Graham has dropped out of the Presidential race.
I think it's fair to say that Graham's candidacy was a complete disaster for him. I cheered him on when he was considering jumping in, because the country needed a serious foreign policy conversation, which he seemed poised to provide. Unfortunately, on the campaign trail his rhetoric became distinctly unserious.
Graham voted against the Iraq war resolution because it wasn't sweeping enough; he said the president would need the authority to directly target terrorist groups in the region, notably Hezbollah, or they would join the battle and complicate it. Though I don't think this is a fatal flaw in Bush's foreign policy (there are advantages to a one-step-at-a-time strategy), the critique is certainly substantive (Michael Ledeen, for one, would agree that the operation in Iraq is handicapped by playing defense.)
When he entered the presidential campaign, his rhetoric collapsed into simple defeatism as he bragged about his no-vote on the war before the pacifistic (except in the Balkans) audiences that animate Democratic primaries, particularly in the early stages.
Graham's vaunted fundraising prowess proved an embarrassing bust. That might not have been such an problem if he had used the primary to raise his profile as a vice presidential prospect; he could have once brought gravitas to a Democratic ticket-- and brought his critical state, Florida, into play. Instead, he destroyed any gravitas he had; his junior senator, Bill Nelson, now seems just as attractive a prospect for the V.P. nomination.
October 02, 2003
Luck, Justice, and Bowdlerization
The other day Julian Sanchez looked at a piece by Matt Miller in the Boston Globe. Sanchez's post, and the comments, are well worth a look; Sanchez deploys the great Robert Nozick against Miller's Rawlsian conclusions on political philosophy.
The Globe piece is drawn directly from Miller's book, which I just reviewed, and I must say I'm somewhat bothered by the editorial choices. The article seems to imply that Milton Friedman repudiates his 1953 paper "Chance Choice, and the Distribution of Income" with the line "Friedman chuckled as he recalled the article." -- but in the book, he's chuckling not at the essay but at the passing of years:
Friedman brought up his early article where he tried to think some of this through. He chuckled at the thought. It must have been sixty years ago, he said. (It was fifty, but who's counting?)
Also contrary to the implications of the Globe piece, Friedman does not reject free will. Here's the rest of the conversation after "I glanced at my tape recorder...":
I said, "I guess I feel there's a certain amount of luck and things that put you in a certain position and you're taking that and building on it--"
"But what gives you the characteristics that leads you to take that--?"
"You're right," I said, "because you can keep going back."
"You can keep going back," he agreed. "There's no first cause. Nobody has ever solved the argument of determinism versus free will. And you and I aren't going to do so either."
"So do you believe it's just an open question?"
"No, I believe, well..." He paused. "I believe that there's free will but I'm not sure. We're just not smart enough to be able to comprehend all of the infinite little steps that brought us here."
Hard to say whether it was Miller or the Globe editors who made the decisions on what to cut (I suspect a little of both), but some of the comments on Sanchez's post suggest that people really were misled.
3rd Street Tunnel Vision
I have a review of Matthew Miller's The Two Percent Solution up at the American Prowler (website of the American Spectator, but you already knew that).
There are a couple of angles on the book that I didn't get to in that piece; check back here later today for more.