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Joshua Sharf

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November 5, 2008

In Other Election News

Those of you following my race here in HD-6 by now know that I was defeated in the general election. The text of my concession is or will soon be up over on the campaign site.

But I wanted to mention a couple of other races around the country that I was following. In Cleveland, Josh Mandel trounced his Democratic challenger. Mandel won his seat in 2006, in a heavily Democrat district by walking, walking, walking. This year, when the marine reservist was recalled to active duty in Iraq, his opponent tried to capitalize by claiming he went AWOL on the citizens of his district. He also claimed that Jewis in the district voted for Mandel because of his Jewish name. Mandel, who had been worried about his re-election, cruised to a 71-29 victory.

And my friend Zudhi Jasser's amendment to the Arizona state constitution, preserving patient choice, appears to have very narrowly failed. That's too bad, but perhaps there will be a recount.

November 4, 2008

So You Say You Support Our Troops

A judge has ordered Virginia to preserve late-arriving military ballots pending a decision on counting them. These are ballots that are late getting back because they were late being sent out.

And they had better be counted.

I was speaking with a very-Democratic relative of mine who lives in Florida, who had nothing but praise for Republican Governor Charlie Crist, for agreeing to keep the polls open later in order to accomodate the Christmas rush. How is this any different?

November 3, 2008

Pollsters as Research Analysts

Over at Jim Geraghty's Campaign Spot at National Review Online, his mentor, alias Obi Wan, has this to say about the turnout models the pollsters are using, turnout models which very heavily favor Democrats:

Look, the real drama to this election is being provided not by the candidates but the polling community. By which I mean the decision they made to stake out — as Campaign Spot has noted — a remarkably bold position, that the Democratic Party turnout is not only going to exceed a recent historic advantage of 4 percent but go to 6.5 percent (Rasmussen) to 8 percent in many polls to even 12 percent in one.

I keep looking for the justification for this. Not easy to find. Rather like the academics' one-time belief in the Aristotlean spheres and an earth-centered universe, it just seems to be a pretty good working theory — some sort of way to make sense of observable phenomena and keep all the smart people talking agreeably and pleasantly among themselves.

This is remarkably similar to what happens when stock analysts all use multipels to value companies. Investors make decisions based on these valuations. In a rising market, the tendency is to push up the price of the lowest-valued stock. Also, sell-side analysts have an incentive to find reasons to raise their price targets. Once a security becomes, "fairly priced," the stock won't appreciate very quickly, and investors will be looking for new values to invest in.

It's only when the analysts, who have been looking mostly at each other, start looking at actual underlying value, and realize that they've effectively priced in the next century's and a half's worth of earnings, that the price falls. Quickly.

I would submit that there's an excellent chance that the models the analysts are using are over-pricing Obama. If the correction comes, of course, it'll come all at once.

November 2, 2008

My Dinner with Gloria

Gloria Steinem was in Denver this evening, at a house party designed to get Jews excited about carrying the Obama-message to their friends.

So was I.

While Ms. Steinem proposed to talk about, "the issues," in reality, the one issue on which she appears to actually be qualified to comment is abortion, but it wasn't the issue I was interested in discussing. She had opened her remarks commenting on how wonderful it would be if we could raise "just one generation without violence, since we now know that it is violence in the home that leads to violence in the streets and violence between nations."

Leaving aside the dubious proposition that all the world's wars are a result of corporal punishment, I asked the following: given the crowd assembled, Israel would certainly rank high among its concerns. And yet, it is not the Israelis who train their children to be suicide bombers, dress them up in little uniforms with genocidal slogans printed on their bandanas. It is, instead, Hamas in Gaza and the PLO in the West Bank that does such things. Why then has there been no clear statement of a moral difference between the two sides, not simply an attempt to draw lines this way or that way on a map, to split differences that don't even exist?

"You mean you don't hear that coming from the two candidates?"

"No, I mean I don't hear it from one candidate." Especially given that that one candidate has surrounded himself with people who feel quite comfortable talking to Hamas, including Rashid Khalidi." Because of time, I failed to mention Zbignew Brezezinski, Samantha Power, and others who have quite clearly been hostile to Israel.

Ms. Steinem read a number of supposedly strong pro-Israel quotes. Including the following, "...Israel's greatest security will come from peace." Of course, this reverses the formula exactly. In fact, Israel's peace will follow from its security. The difference is telling.

A friend of mine asked about the LA Times's suppression of a videotape of Obama toasting Mr. Khalidi. Ms. Stieinen professed ignorance of the tape. You know, I actually think it's possible that she lives in a such a bubble, and that the media has so thoroughly ignored this story, that she really might not know about the tape. To her credit, she promised to talk to the Times editors and get back to me, but I doubt she'll learn anything.

Afterwards, I also brought to Ms. Steinem up the fact that Obama hadn't been present for one version of the Iran sanctions bill, but had written a letter saying he would have voted against it. He then claimed in a speech in Israel, credit that "my committee, the Banking Committee," on which he doesn't serve, had passed an Iran sanctions bill. "That," I said, "is why I don't trust him."

"Well," retorted Ms. Steinem, "I don't trust McCain because he's the original go-to-country clubs white male Republican who sits around telling anti-woman and anti-semitic jokes."

Yes. I asked about an instance where Sen. Obama had at least left serious doubt, through his public policy statements, about how seriously he takes a nuclear Iran. And Ms. Steinem responded with an unsubstantiated, and unverifiable ad hominem attack on Sen. McCain.

You may draw your own conclusions.

October 17, 2008

Let's Pretend

That seems to be the Democrats' favorite game this year. In Ohio, the Democratic Secretary of State has persuaded the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court requirement that registrations actually be validated by election day. While the Supreme Court - possibly correctly - argued jurisdictional issues, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner was claiming that it wasn't necessary to validate up to 200,000 registrations with irregularities. I say, "possibly," because I'm pretty sure that a Colorado state court ruled on certain aspects of HAVA four years ago, but it's possible that the issues at stake here are different, and non-justiciable by a state court.

Secretary of State Brunner has already allowed up to 3000 questionable registrants to vote electronically early, making it impossible to retrieve their votes should there turn out to be fraud. But Let's Pretend all those votes should count.

ACORN's been very active in Ohio, registering individuals, both existent and non-, multiple times. But since it'll be hard to make sure all these voters are entitled to the franchise, Let's Pretend there's no problem here, nothing to see here, move along, move along. By dodging the problem now, the Court has set itself up for a much bigger headache later on.

Likewise, my Democratic opponent, Lois Court, on Tuesday, defended the notion of Single-Payer Mandatory Universal Health Care (abbreviated backwards, that's "CHUMPS") by claiming that "I define 'public good' to mean something that's good for the public."

Never mind that that's not what it means, either word-by-word or as a phrase. Let's Pretend that it is. Let's pretend that the only cost is the cost of delivery, not the cost of the product itself.

The problem with Let's Pretend is that sooner or later Mom, or as she's known in this case, The Real World, calls you in to get cleaned up for dinner.

The other side likes to style itself as, "Progressives." They are. They're Progressively More Expensive, Progressively More Intrusive, and Progressively More Restrictive.

September 19, 2008

Learned Hand on Joe Biden

Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes. Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands: Taxes are enforced exactions, not voluntary contributions. To demand more in the name of morals is mere cant.

Honorable Learned Hand, U.S. Appeals Court Judge, Helvering v. Gregory, 69 F.2d 809 (1934).

September 5, 2008

How Palin Plays in Douglas County

First words out of Steve Terry's mouth this morning at the Douglas County First Friday Breakfast:

"Sarah Palin!"

Followed by a hearty mock cheer, that was repeated by just about every speaker.

People are not fools. They understand the humor, as well as the very real effect that Gov. Palin's nomination has had on this election. But they also understand that she's the Vice-Presidential nominee, not the Presidential nominee. Her nomination may turn out to be game-changing, and people have real affection for her, but are also capable of keeping things in perspective.

In the meantime, it was strange to be at one of these breakfasts where the majority of speakers were elected officials rather than candidates.

September 4, 2008


Stop it. Stop it now.

This party has been waiting for Ronald Reagan II since at least 1992, probably since January 21, 1989. But it's unfair to Gov. Palin and unfair to the conservative movement that's hoping it's found a future leader.

Sarah Palin is a first-term governor of a 3-electoral vote state. While this makes her over-qualified compared to Obama and Biden, it doesn't stack up against 8 years as governor of California. It's enough to qualify her for Veep, and to be trainable for President.

Ronald Reagan was a speaker gifted beyond belief. He was also a man with tremendous physical courage, who spent years negotiating with movie producers and personally fighting communism; who spent 8 years governing the most affluent and fractious state in the union; an intellectual who spent years afterwards writing radio addresses and working out his positions on the critical issues of the day.

Sarah Palin is a speaking phenomenon. She's a woman of strong convictions that she lives out herself. She's got a compelling personal story. She has stood up to bullies and thugs who think that politics is a 3rd grade cafeteria. She is - to all appearances - raw material of rare quality.

But she's not Ronald Reagan.

At least not yet.

September 3, 2008

Sarah-cuda, Once Removed

On Sunday, we had the chance to interview Mead Treadwell, who directs the Security and Defense Program for the Institute of the North, a Alaska's answer to our own Independence Institute, about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Part One has some rocky sound levels at the very beginning, and for some reason the sound cut out at just over 9:00, but the interview it enlightening and reassuring nonetheless. Reassuring to conservatives, alarming to liberals, no doubt.

UPDATE: I've had some complaints about the audio in certain browsers, so I've removed it from the posting. If Backbone America doesn't have it up yet, it will soon.

July 24, 2008

Iconography He Can Believe In

From this in morning's Denver Post about how, for a ticket to his convention acceptance speech, Barack will make you work.

July 21, 2008


So Obama has relocated his German speech - delivered in English, of course - from the Brandenburg Gate to here.

The Victory Column is a famous sight in Berlin, Germany. Designed by Heinrich Strack after 1864 to commemorate the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian war, by the time it was inaugurated on 2 September 1873 Prussia had also defeated Austria in the Austro-Prussian War (1866) and France in the Franco-Prussian War (1870/1871), giving the statue a new purpose.

Yes, much more appropriate, dontcha think? Why do I suspect that our German friends maybe are haffing a tiny, leetle joke at ze expense of Herr Obama?

June 26, 2008

Identity Delegates

There's a reason identity politics is a terrible idea:

Colorado's delegation to the Democratic National Convention has one man too many and must make changes to replace him with a woman, the national party revealed Wednesday.

The Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws Committee found the Centennial State — and eight others — out of compliance with the national party's requirement that delegates represent an equitable number of minorities, genders and other communities among delegations and standing committees.

So why not by, say, income distribution? (Can't find enough poor people.) Or religion? (Don't want Muslims on the same stage as Obama.) Or educational level? (Yes, professor.)

The possibilities are mindless. Really.

June 12, 2008

Rossputin Takes the Foot Off the Throat

As part of their 2008 smear campaign against Bob Schaffer, the Four Horsemen and their acolytes planned a "Foot On the Throat" effort, to so damage Bob's public image that he could never recover. As part of that effort, the Denver Post ran a series of articles detailing Bob's supposed misdeeds concerning a fact-finding mission to the Northern Marianas. In his brief stay there, Bob uncovered more facts than the Post did in several weeks worth of front-page "reporting."

Now, Ross Kaminsky has taken it upon himself to do some real reporting, not only about the trips, but also about the motivations and techniques of those behind trumping up the story. He'll be running a projected 8-post series on the non-story, and given Ross's thoroughness, it'll be a must-read for anyone who wants to be able to discuss this matter intelligently.

The first installment is here.

I've never made any secret of my admiration for Bob, and in the interests of full disclosure, I'll mention that both Ross and Bob have endorsed my campaign. Readers of this blog are clearly more than capable of adjusting for the lay of the land in my recommendation of the series, and of judging Ross's efforts on their own merits.

May 27, 2008

Atoms for Peace Redux

In private conversations over the last few months, I've been expressing the notion that McCain sees himself as a potential president in the Eisenhower mold. His military record is a fundamental but largely unspoken part of his campaign. He's more centrist than the party as a whole, although essentially conservative. He's more focused on foreign than domestic policy.

Today's revival of the Atoms for Peace speech was another step in that direction. What follows is my reaction to the speech, for which I literally had a front-row speech.

After touring the main foreign policy problems he'd be confronting as President, McCain focused on today's theme of nuclear proliferation. I have to say, that while McCain's delivery was statesmanlike and deliberate, the content of the speech was something of a disappointment.

The main theses of his nuclear policy are that 1) as the Soviet Union no longer exists, we and Russa are "no longer mortal enemies," and therefore the large nuclear arsenals we had in the past are unnecessary 2) to possess nuclear weapons was to threaten the world with extinction, and 3) international organizations - either the existing IAEA or new ones - can be made sufficiently robust to handle the problem.

All three legs are at least open to serious question, and suggest an Eisenhower-type approach to the problem, unfortunately with the benefit of 50 years of seeing what works and what doesn't.

Leg 1) assumes that Russia, as the only other large-scale nuclear power, is the only reason for retaining a large nuclear arsenal. But this sort of bilateralism ignores the rise of other nuclear threats. Reducing our own nuclear arsenal makes the remaining nukes more vulnerable to attack, and the Chinese have shown themselves to be a very resourceful adversary thus far. Their interest in space warfare puts our command and control - especially of our submarines and satellite intelligence assets - at risk. Advances in anti-submarine warfare could make us with for the day that we had a reserve force of land-based nukes. And such scenarios hardly exhaust the need for a large, survivable deterrent.

Leg 2), while unspoken, is wrong on the face of it. As has been pointed out before, we don't care about the British, or even the French, having a sizeable arsenal. We don't worry about Pakistan having nukes, although india does, and perhaps we should, as well. Even if Canada were to acquire nuclear weapons, it could hardly influct more damage than its influx of comedians has. (Quebec, though, might be another story.)

Leg 3) is in many ways the most problematic. If you read down to the end of Eisenhower's speech, you'll see many of the same proposals McCain tried to revive today, principles that were supposed to be the basis of civilian international control of nuclear power.

The governments principally involved, to the extent permitted by elementary prudence, should begin now and continue to make joint contributions from their stockpiles of normal uranium and fissionable materials to an international atomic energy agency. We would expect that such an agency would be set up under the aegis of the United Nations. The ratios of contributions, the procedures and other details would properly be within the scope of the "private conversations" I referred to earlier.

The United States is prepared to undertake these explorations in good faith.Any partner of the United States acting in the same good faith will find the United States a not unreasonable or ungenerous associate.

Undoubtedly, initial and early contributions to this plan would be small in quantity. However, the proposal has the great virtue that it can be undertaken without the irritations and mutual suspicions incident to any attempt to set up a completely acceptable system of world-wide inspection and control.

The atomic energy agency could be made responsible for the impounding,storage and protection of the contributed fissionable and other materials. The ingenuity of our scientists will provide special safe conditions under which such a bank of fissionable material can be made essentially immune to surprise seizure.

The more important responsibility of this atomic energy agency would be to devise methods whereby this fissionable material would be allocated to serve the peaceful pursuits of mankind. Experts would be mobilized to apply atomic energy to the needs of agriculture, medicine and other peaceful activities. A special purpose would be to provide abundant electrical energy in the power-starved areas of the world.

But these proposals only work if the countries involved cooperate - i.e., if they see the threat of nukes to be worse than the nuclear arming of their allies. It should be quite clear by now that Russia (Iran), and China (North Korea and Syria), hold fundamentally the opposite position on this question from ours. The countries hell-bent-for-leather (in Iran's case, quite literally) on developing a Bomb have made it quite clear that they are willing to impoverish their countries in the effort, and thus far, in both Iran's case and North Korea's, the local population has failed to rebel. And the IAEA, under Mohammed El Baradei, has been worse than useless in deterring Iran's ambitions.

Instead of dealing with the Iranian problem on its own, McCain seeks to enlarge the problem to one of nuclear proliferation generally. In doing so, though, he threatens to blunt our own ability to deal with Iran in yet another international bureaucratic nightmare.

Memorial Day Weekend at Bernie's

From Obama's speech yesterday:

On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes -- and I see many of them in the audience here today -- our sense of patriotism is particularly strong.

May 1, 2008

McCain in Denver

I had the chance to see John McCain's combination Health Care symposium and townhall meeting this morning over at the JCC. It was packed, as these events ought to be by now, and McCain aquitted himself well as a speaker.

Eventually, there was some stuff to like, and some to remind me of why he wasn't my first choice.

He started off by thanking us for all the water we send to Arizona. Now this was interesting, because in 2005, he made a joint appearance with George Bush to promote Social Security reform, he opened by saying how glad he was to come to Colorado to visit his water. This elicited somewhat good-natured boos and hisses, but it's amazing how his tone changed, now that he was asking for votes.

He also singled out Divided We Fail, the AARP's attempt to unite America under a crushing burden of debt, by blocking any meaningful reform of Medicare. I couldn't tell whether he was actually being supportive, or whether he had caved to a group that was shadowing his every appearance on this issue. But the whole post-partisan idea of a purple Donkephant ignores the fact that the two parties are supposed to present very different visions for the country. It's something that McCain himself has been accused of forgetting.

As for the apparent centerpiece of his health care proposal - a $5000 tax credit for individuals buying their own health insurance, while simulatenously starting to remove the incentive for businesses to provide that, is a terrific step in the right direction. He rightly pointed out that individuals are presumed not to be smart enough to intelligently spend the money, but fairly quickly learn what works and what doesn't. At the same time, divorcing health insurance from business will increase portability, and probalby add more cash to employees' paychecks at the same time.

There is some concern about what happens to group coverage. He didn't directly answer that, but my own guess is that this reform will have to be combined with the ability for small businesses and individuals to band together to form their own groups. At the same time, increasing competition by allowing insurance to be bought across state lines will bring prices down.

The rest of the plan sounded like more nany-state hectoring, though. All those extra plans to encourage people to be more healthy could be implemented much more efficiently through, oh, more expensive insurance for those who don't?

One moment stood out for me. I don't think it was a planted question, but when one woman who runs a laser- and massage-therapy clinic with her husband asked a question, McCain interrupted to prompt her to define and discuss laser therapy and its benefits. It was obvious he knew the answer, but just as obvious that he wanted her to say it. He didn't need to prove how smart he was by lecturing; he could do it just as well by letting her talk with pride about her work.

April 25, 2008


It's 1971, and the world's going mad. And ABC buys a film from a kid named Spielberg called, "Duel."

It's an odd little movie about a guy (Dennis Weaver) driving home through the southern California mountains from a business trip. He passes a semi, which ticks off the semi driver, who then spends the rest of the movie trying to kill Mr. Weaver by running him off the road, running him over, pushing him in front of a train, etc. He won't let go until McCloud finds a way to push back, in deadly fashion.

(Even at this early stage, the film shows the master's touch, building up tension, and then releasing it at a higher level each time, until the final, climactic showdown. When Carey Loftin, a stuntman not an actor, playing the truck driver, asked Steven Spielberg what his motivation was for tormenting the car's driver, Spielberg told him, "You're a dirty, rotten, no-good son of a bitch." Loftin replied, "Kid, you hired the right man.")

The tagline on one of Duel's posters: "When the headlights of a truck become the eyes of a psychopath." A lot of Obama supporters probably feel that way about Hillary right about now.

April 23, 2008

The Unions and 2008

Hillary Clinton won Pennsylvania last night 55-45. But what was interesting was the change in union support from previous contests. In Nevada, the two essentially tied, but the powerful Las Vegas-based service unions supported Obama. In Pennsylvania, the more heavily industrial unions supported Clinton, and she crushingly won union households 59-41.

But in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, home of the Steelers, union households comprised only 31% of the vote in the Democratic primary. That's it. That includes the public employees, which are both more unionized and more Democrat than private employees. What's more, of that 31%, only 19% were actual union members, while 12% were non-union voters in a union household.

(Interestingly, Clinton won actual union members 57-43, but won the non-union cohabitants 61-39. Naturally, I have no idea what this means. This may be because men are more likely to be union members, but women are more likely to vote for Hillary.)

Of course, Obama won the black vote 89-11. And while Hillary won those without college degrees 58-42, the "education gap" manifested itself again, with Obama winning college graduates 51-49. (Hat tip:

In 1968, Teddy White warned that the Democrats might well become the party of northern unions, southern blacks, and college campuses. In the past, these groups have tended to vote at least somewhat in synch, although the union vote has never matched the Democrat predilection of its leaders for campaign donations.

It may well be that the decline in private-sector union membership has hit a natural bottom, and can't really decline much farther. On the other hand, a severe economic crisis of the sort the Democrats appear determined to bring about could form the basis for renewed interest in unions as a means of soaking the supposedly deep pockets of companies verging on bankruptcy. In the meantime, the mutual disenchantment of blacks and unions, and the contempt of college campuses for both, are making the Democrat coalition look awfully shaky this year.

March 17, 2008

Recreate '38

Netflix is addictive. While working on the computer, I spent yesterday watching Seabiscuit twice - once with commentary and once without - and watching the special features, including a mini-documentary about the Seabiscuit's times, the Depression. Unenlightened self-interest has pretty much wrecked horse-racing, but if the current crop of self-styled "Progressives" has its way, we may soon get to relive the 30s economy.

(WARNING; The following links contain shameless self-promotion and extreme economic geekery. Follow at your own risk. The management assumes no liability.)

Even almost 80 years after the fact, we still don't fully understand the Great Depression. Still, economists now seem to be groping towards a multi-pronged consensus: 1) the Fed tightened money when banks were failing, 2) stubbornly high wages and 3) artificially high tariffs kept the costs of doing business up when they should have been falling. Amity Shlaes adds 4) uncertainty caused by incessant government "experimentation" with the economy as another leg.

When unions and union contracts keep wages artificially high, they discourage new hiring. The profit from increased sales doesn't match the cost of the new workers needed to get there. Further. businesses can't lower prices through economies of scale; and consumers don't have money coming into buy the stuff, anyway. This isn't just bad for workers, it's pretty much bad for everyone except union bosses, who can keep on collecting fat-cat salaries and perks, and spending their union dues on politicians devoted to, er, keeping wages high.

Now, you can offset some of this through incresed productivity. Unions don't much care for this, either, because they think that it costs jobs. It's only the very definition of economic progress, so you'd think "progressives" would be in favor of it, but next time you see one, ask how it is we've managed to keep everyone employed as the population has gone up 100 times in 200 years.

But if you've got tariffs in place, the incentive to invest in more efficient equipment and processes declines. Fifty-cent tariffs on Brazilian sugar ethanol mean that we can continue to produce expensive, inefficient corn-based ethanol to the point where we cause food riots in Mexico. Inefficiency makes it harder to ramp up production when you want to, and also artificually suppresses economic activity.

Combined, the two are deadly.

Fortunately, the Dems will only be in a position to repeat mistakes 2) and 3), while exacerbating 4) again as well. Unfortunately, that may well be enough to spread what should be a short recession over most of the next 10 years.

Last word to the brilliant Lileks:

Speaking as an utter amateur, I’m worried less about a recession than inflation. I’m worried most about a recession, inflation AND a jolly round of trade wars, coupled with fragile banks, overcapacity, diminished consumer confidence and aggressive messianic collectivism. Something about that smells familiar. I love studying the thirties and forties, but not first hand.


Progressively more restrictive. Progressively more expensive. Progressively more intrusive.

Progressively more...reactionary.

March 12, 2008

Mark Udall, Natural Gas, Iran, and You

Mark Udall - a good, patriotic American - is a threat to national security.

OK, not all by himself, and not any one of his positions, but as part of a Democratic Senate majority, and as a combination of his policy views.


  1. He has repeatedly opposed expanded gas production on the western slope
  2. He has voted against an additional 700 miles of fencing along our border with Mexico

Why is this a threat to national security? Because Iran is almost certainly plotting to disrupt our supply of natural gas from Mexico, And because they may well be trying to insert operatives directly into the United States.

Todd Bensman of the San Antonio Express-News, wrote the series, "Breaching America," and appeared as a guest on Backbone Radio with John Andrews and me. Well, he's back, with a story about Iran establishing a presence in Nicaragua, now run by Venezuela-friendly and decidedly US-unfriendly Danny Ortega.

Make no mistake, this is no humanitarian mission. This is exactly from the Soviet playbook - promise aid to establish a reason for being there. In this case, the aid amounts to a ridiculously ambitious project with little-to-no economic reason for being. Send a high-level delegation, with ministers of electricity, or whatever, providing cover for intelligence operatives. (Note that one of the delegation members is the Iranian Ambassador to Venezuela, also a likely intelligence agent.)

With completely ineffective border security, the Iranians will soon be in terrific position to start slipping agents across borders. And there aren't a whole lot of borders between Managua and El Paso.

More immediately, they may already have tried to blow up the main Mexican pipeline. Or, they may have gotten the idea from that attempt, and want to do it right this time.

If it were an oil pipeline, it might matter less. Oil is easily shipped all over the world, so there's a world market for it. Natural gas is difficult and expensive to ship across oceans, and the US has also resisted building LNG terminals. This means that there is, at best, a continental market for natural gas. And it also means that the best defense against any disruption in supply is...a good, reliable, local supply.

Mark Udall's policies leave us both more vulnerable to an attack, and more vulnerable to the effects of that attack.

March 11, 2008

Old New Deal

Home sick yesterday with something that even weapons-grade Mucinex wasn't helping, I saw a part of a speech where Barack Obama proposed his "solution" to the higher education "crisis." This is a paraphrase, but not much of one:

I'll make college education affordable for every American with a $4000 tax rebate payable towards tuition. We're going to invest in you. But in return (There's always an, "in return." -ed.), we're going to require you to invest in us by volunteering in the Peace Corps, the VA...

I'd give it about half an hour before every college in the country raised tuition by about, oh $4000. Repeat after me: subsidies either raise prices or create surpluses.

But the really insidious part is that public service requirement, couched as, "investing in us." "Us" being the government and government programs. Obama is proposing to take more of your money, transfer it directly to liberal universities, many of whom already get your tax money or have endowments the size of small countries' treasuries, and then claim the first two years of your kids' working lives doing make-work projects for the government.

Now, if "us" meant the country, then going out, getting a job, and doing research in alternative fuels or new drug therapies, possibly nanotech. Notice what else is missing from this list: the CIA, FBI, the military.

But then, making money or defending the country aren't nearly as appealing as ticking off allies.

Progressively more expensive. Progressively more intrusive. Progressively more restrictive.

March 7, 2008

How To Win Allies and Influence Governments

Is David Sirota really suggesting that the government of Canada is involved, for political reasons, in a conspiracy to influence the US Presidential election? That's certainly what he implies in his most recent posting:

Instead, she made the entire NAFTA debate about an uncorroborated report from the right-wing Canadian government designed to embarrass Barack Obama.

The clear implication is that the Canadian government, a coalition government led by the Conservative Stephen Harper, deliberately leaked a report from a career civil servant in order to embarass Barack Obama because of his stated opposition to NAFTA.

If anyone's frustrated by this whole affair, it's the Canadian government, which is being used as a political football by two candidates "committed" to rebuilding supposedly shattered relations with our allies:

A Canadian Embassy official would not confirm or deny that such a contact took place, but said it's totally implausible that her officials instigated one to reassure Canada."

Our ongoing frustration is the number of times we are sideswiped, not out of malice, just because they (U.S. politicians) never thought about us," the official said.

This passage comes from the very same CBC article that Sirota claims proves that Hillary's just as mixed up in NAFTA-gate as Obama is. Of course, the article also notes that:

Some close to the embassy are doubtful a contact with the Clinton campaign took place. If it did, there is no paper trail on what was said.

The first thing the Clinton campaign would have done before beginning sharp criticism on Obama over the meeting is to ensure that the attacks couldn't backfire, they said.

"If they were exposed on this issue, they wouldn't have gone bananas," said one source.

Yes, accusing our largest trading partner and historically closest ally with deliberately mucking around in a US Presidential election is precisely the sort of thing guaranteed to win us renewed respect and esteem around the world.

It's a good thing that Sen. Obama is committed to talking unconditionally to our sworn enemies. Because by the time these two (or three, if we include Mr. Sirota) are done, we'll have a lot longer list of countries who will only speak to us on those terms.

March 4, 2008

The Machine

Bob Beckel was just on Fox News, discussing the decision of a federal judge to keep the polls open in certain precincts in Cuyahoga County near Cleveland. With a smile, he made four points:

1. The precincts in the Obama campaign's lawsuit appear to have been cherry-picked to maximize the black turnout
2. There does not appear to have been a prima facie case of voting irregularities in any of those precincts
3. If the judge was a Clinton appointee, that was a mistake
4. If the judge was a Reagan appointee, the Clinton campaign might think about bringing that up
5. Cuyahoga County frequently reports last, and it often comes down to, "How many votes do ya need?"

And the Democrats think Karl Rove is Machiavellian.

I'd note that point #2 means that a federal judge may well have violated the Constitution (Article I, Section 4) in overturning the state's polling times without a good reason for doing so. (And he doesn't appear to be a refugee from the Florida Supreme Court.) This is a most unusual action, especially when it's not extending polling in heavily Democratic precincts around St. Louis in a general election.

Just remember this the next time some member of the Kos Kontingent brings up Diebold.

UPDATE: Even when it's not close, they cheat, anyway.

February 11, 2008

Super-Duper Delegates

It's all about delegates. It's always been about delegates. In 1948, Spencer Tracy ran for President. Now such a thing couldn't be repeated today, because Hollywood had him run as a Republican. You think things are in the hands of the party bossess today? Consider the following exchange:

Southern Politician: I can personally guarantee fifty-five delegates for Mr. Matthews.
Mrs Matthews (eagerly): And how many electoral votes is that?
Southern Politician: Oh, ma'am (chuckle), this is the Republican convention!

Look, it's not my fight, so at some level, the most senior Democrats in each state could pick a slate by fiat and I wouldn't care. But while, if I were an activist, I might relish the thought of finally ridding my party of this troublesome beast (and his beastess), I really can't see anything immoral about superdelegates voting their consciences.

For one thing, that's what they're there for, to keep the party from going off the rails. If they provide the margin for one candidate over another, victory in November would cover a multitude of sins. Of course, the superdelegates are hardly infallible. Created in 1980 to prevent another Kennedy insurgency, they helped choose Mondale over Hart in 1984. And as we all know, Minnesota still hasn't gone Republican since 1972.

Arguing some sort of moral obligation to abandon or endorse based on a separate vote smacks of changing the rules in the middle of the game. Now, I have to admit to a certain schadenfreude in watching this longtime Democratic pastime finally turn fratracidal. But again, it's hard to see why there's a moral obligation to abandon one's own best judgment, especially when exercising that judgment is considered a duty of the office-holder.

In fact, should the nomination not be decided by the convention, the superdelegates might well choose to "honor" "democracy" by seating the Florida and Michigan delegations, possibly pushing Ms. Hillary over the top, without ever actually having to endorse her.

One side point. On Backbone Radio last night, Mike Littwin made some comment about how Democrats in this state think that victory relies on not being too partisan. I don't think anyone's going to accuse Ken Salazar of not being partisan, not after the way he used the Attorney General's office to his party's advantage. But to argue that not taking sides in an intramural fight is somehow "less partisan" is kind of silly. Does anyone think that Bill Ritter is going to endoorse John McCain if Obama's the nominee?

Then again, let Mrs. Matthews have the last word: "You politicians have remained professionals only because the voters have remained amateurs."

February 7, 2008

Romney Drops Out

Mitt Romney just announced at CPAC that was suspending campaign operations, claiming that continuing to campaign would only increase the chances of a Democratic victory in the fall.

While we can't discount the reasoning entirely, politicians don't stop running for president unless they can't win. He almost certainly didn't like the polling data from the upcoming caucuses, which were widely seen as his chance to stabilize the ship. Implicit in his concession is a call for Republicans to suck it up and support McCain in the general election, although Huckabee and even Ron Paul will get some increased protest vote from here on in.

With McCain as the almost-certain nominee, we have the likelihood - for the second election in a row - of a sitting Democratic Senator, Zell Miller, now Joe Lieberman, addressing the Republican convention in support of its nominee.

(Colorado Media Matters notes whines that Lieberman is not, technically, a Democrat.)

CLARIFICATION: While Joe Lieberman is no longer technically registered with the Democratic Party, he is listed as an "Independent Democrat," and caucuses with the Democrats. If he chooses to run for re-election, it's a safe bet he'll do so as a Democrat.

Most people think of his as a Democrat, and most people will remember that he was the Democratic nominee for Vice President eight years ago. I'm sure the party, the networks, and the newspapers - properly mortified - will be at pains to point out he lost the primary, in advance of his speech.

FURTHER CLARIFICATION: Senator Lieberman was also permitted to retain his seniority by the Democratic caucus after his re-election, and serves as the Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

This is truly a distinction without a difference, but it's good to know that Mr. Soros's money is going to good use.

February 3, 2008

Substitute for Achievement

Arlen Specter is the reason some people will vote for Ron Paul on Tuesday. Well, that and the belief that the Civil War was optional and that we turned lower Manhattan into a set for Capricorn One so that we could pay Halliburton to visit the apocalypse on Baghdad.

But today, Arlen Specter is the poster boy for the claim that, "Politicians need activity; it's their substitute for achievement." And that too often that activity comes at the expense of our liberty, time, and money, and at the expense of important things like the defense of the realm.

First of all, Specter is just wrong, wrong, wrong when he claims that football has an anti-trust exemption. It doesn't. Competing leagues come up from time to time, and the USFL won an anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL. (For damages of $1; tripled to $3; would that John Edwards had been the plaintiffs' attorney on that one. Maybe he could have used his cut to go Dutch at Goodwill with Mark Steyn on that coat.)

Secondly, any taping was a violation of a league rule, not a law. Sure, we all saw Joel Fleischman take down "Twenty-One," but that was actual fraud, misrepresentation of cheating as competition. This isn't the Black Sox or even Pete Rose putting down bets on the Reds. And nobody's claiming that the league fed the Rams' game plan to the Patriots or gave them a wiretap on Mike Martz's line to the booth. I don't recall Specter convening hearings when the NBA ref was found betting on games, although maybe someone in Congress did.

Specter claims that the public has the right to be sure that the games aren't being compromised by cheating. Oh, please. Someone ought to hog-tie him and use him for a fumble drill out at Redskins' Park and he'll see what cheating looks like.

Still, it's sad that Roger Goodell thinks that the fact that NFL discovered and investigated these rules violations on its own is any sort of help at all. The Army discovered and investigated the Abu Ghraib abuses itself. That didn't stop the New York Times and certain Soros-funded arms of the Clinton Campaign (or is it the other way around? Hard to know who you're campaigning against sometimes, as Obama might say.) from turning it into a bludgeon to undermine support for the war, the troops, and the administration, in some order of importance.

Good grief. Has the Senator no respect for our most important national holiday?

January 30, 2008


After Florida, we're now officially in the semifinals. With Giuliani and Edwards dropping out after finishing third - Rudy's best and Edwards's normal, it's McCain vs. Romney, and Clinton vs. Obama.

In fact, I'm sorry to see Giuliani and Edwards drop out just before Super-Mega-Hyper Tuesday. As a sincere semi-supporter of Rudy, I won't surprise anyone with the Republican half of the statement. But I'm sorry to see Edwards go for much the same reason - voters should have a chance to express their preferences and their support, and the system we have now is simply too hasty.

In primaries, polls often have a self-fulfilling quality, as nobody wants to waste his vote on a loser. But the end result is a bit like voting in the Florida panhandle while the networks release exit polls - the Heisenberg effect of elections.

And yet, to some extent, primary campaigns are a self-validating process. Fred Thompson's failure to have run anything showed early and often. If Rudy could misread the political dynamic to such an extent, making such a catastrophic strategic error says something about his national viability, no matter his positions.

As for Edwards, well, his supporters (cough) will cry, "poor" from here until Tax Day, but he could have largely self-funded by renting out one or two vacant wings of his house, or maybe by filing an asbestos lawsuit. He was, as Powerline likes to say, the man so fraudulent he shocked even John Kerry. Major, earthshaking political speeches by definition are heard by someone other than the speaker.

When I was studying for the Series 7, the instructor noted that since the exam was almost all memorization, if you ran out of time, time wasn't your problem. When you've been running for President for over four years, if you run out of money, money wasn't your problem.

January 28, 2008

Clinton vs. McCain

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline claims to have a hard time imagining how the Clintons would be able to smear John McCain, given his war record and status as a near national icon. Here's how:

She: Neither Senator McCain nor I want this race to be about age or gender.
He: I said I couldn't make Hillary younger or prettier. Fortunately Sen. McCain does both those things for me.

As she denies that age is an issue in the campaign (he'll continue to refer to it), count on a compliant media to spend at least a week on message on this one.

That bit about the media is tremendously important. Sen. McCain is used to getting favorable press treatment, and I suspect he's completely unprepared for the reversal on that front, which could well make his much less, "electable" than many of those voting for him suspect. On that score, a Republican who's used to dealing with the hostile media, such as Giuliani or even Romney, may well stand a better chance in November.

January 10, 2008

Live-Blogging the Debate

This is long, and copied from the Politics West Gang of Four.


Personally, and I say this as a sincere semi-supporter of Giuliani, I think he did very well, especially buying time for the tax-cut ad during the first break. In fact this was the first time that the majority of candidates started talking about tax cuts in correlation with the potential recession. Happy to see this. OK, I'm sick as the dog Colmes doesn't have in this fight, so that's all.

The Focus Group thinks Fred won? Ok, well, if they say so. But they keep saying he had facts and specific points. I didn't really see that, I'm afraid. The energy in his first answer apparently set the crowd's impression for the entire debate. Although I think Fox's showing a black, woman, Republican in South Carolina is something you won't see on CNN.

8:33 - Goler starts with crime-reporting, and then tries to expand it to more extensive non-reporting. Giuliani narrows it back down to the initial question. And then turns into the Energizer Bunny.

8:31 - Huckabee wants people to leave, and jst assumes that they'll do so. Er, why?

8:28 - Thompson: "High fences and wide gates." Good stump line. And addressing "sanctuary cities," by cutting off funding. Gee, we do do that for drunk-driving limits, don't we? Andrews will likeboth his and Paul's allusion to self-deportation, or the pull part of it. And Paul continues as the anti-war candidate.

8:27 -h Romney hits the "special path" issue. Good idea.

8:24 - Goler gets applause at the mentionof immigration. McCain gives a fine answer on this, but he was in fact a point man for a bill that everyone hated. He was a little reluctant to add in the whole fence thing at the time, and I'm not sure he gets this even now.

8:20 - Ron Paul's started out with a good answer...but "Robert Effing Taft???" This was one o fthe most irresp[onsible members of the Republican caucus in ther 50s, when it came to foreign policy. Again, what could have been avery strong answer was sabotaged by Paul himself. Because the whole Department of Education, lower taxes, lower spending, Constitutionalist message is the Republican message.

8:17 - Huck feeling sorry for himself about the religious stuff, but he's framed his campaign that way. This is a good answers, and it was kind of a silly question. But he turned it into a nice defense of marriage.

8:16 - McCain declines to attack Rudy, instead talking about hiimself. OK, good call.

8:14 - Rudy points out the value-neutral quality of "change," and he's going after Dems as much as Repubs. But he's completely avoiding the 9/11 question. Ford Administration committee on terroriam? Hmmm, have to look that up. And the normal recitation. Although he can repeat that part of throwing Arafat out of the Met again if he wants. That part ain't never gonna get old.

8:13 - Ooops. Huck's serious, not laughing. Strong answer on welfare reform, pointing out he's run something, and Fred hain't.

8:11 - Thompson bring up the tax pledge, and Huck's mention of it. Good parrry, but Huck's writing. Clever laugh-line alert. More generalities from him, though. Another weak answer from Fred.

8:09 - Huck starts out well here, but..arrggh! "49th in the nation!" No wonder the NEA loves him. This is a list of achievements, but may not be what people want to hear.

8:07 - McCain: "Geez, could tee one up better for me?" McCain's listing changes hes made in the past, including some fairly small items he started out with. He played a weak hand fairly well there, I think.

8:06 - Romney on the vacant concept of "Change," but at least he's listing his particulars. The problem is, the President doesn't have the power to "take Washington apart."

Paul's probably got a coherent point here, somewhere, but he's letting his emotion rob him of his chances.

8:00 - Giuliani on Israel is strong, but it's what he's said before. And Thompson also makes the point of exactly who's on what side in Pakistan, re:Huck.

7:59 - OK, Paul's just corrected that from before: "Arm the Arabs, not harm the Arabs." This makes more sense. But carrying out bold, daring raids, is different from strategic defense.

7:59 - Huck: "Dan to Beersheba" has got to be a Biblical reference. But at least he's spot-on on Israel.

7:55 - Did Romney just say we'd support the Pakistani military in lieu of its government? That's a problem, and it may just have put this guy at risk. The rest of the answer's ok, but this will come back to haunt him.

7:53 - "Should we continue to support Musharraf even though he's down in the polls?" Stock line about Iraq and the NYT, but it plays well. Oh goodness. Some Democrat is going to talk about Musharraf firing judges and bring up Bush. But he's hit the key point - the nukes.

7:53 - Good, calm, response from McCain.

7:52 - "We used to be allied with Osama bin Laden?" Er, no. We didn't. He's completely off the rails here. He's ranting.

7:51 - McCain's point is well-taken.

7:49 - Paul calls for "getting out," but it's unclear what he means. Israel & the Palestinians aren't costing us lives. "Why do we harm the Arab nations and they're the enemies of Israel?" Israel could have taken care of Saddam? Or the Arabs? What the hell did he just say?

7:48 - Wendel Goler's smart, but he takes even longer than Andrews to set up a question. The question to Giuliani is about Israel and the Palestinians, and he sets down the right markets, but then, so did Bush before he went off the rails. Giuliani turns the question now to the surge, and McCain points out he was Surge before Surge was cool.

7:46 - McCain's giving a good defense of his and Lieberman's oped today. Defense is the one thing he really has going for him, and his recalling of his support for the surge. Nice touch on the Man of the Year thing? Did it come up in a blog conference call?

7:42 - A little lame from Romney, but Paul's "Making fun of me..." just looks like he's feeling sorry for himself. Then he nods to the people booing Romney's joke.

7:41 - Paul would urge caution, and invokes the Gulf of Tonkin. His answer isn't coherent, although the Paulites like it. He knows perfectly well that this isn't going to start a war, and if he had taken one look at the USS Cole, he'd know what a small boat can do to the thin skin of a ship. Paul just doesn't get the Iranian threat. Not sure what the laughter is; maybe they were all leaping at the mike.

7:40 - But again, there's really nothing he to say except what McCain just did - you can't go around second-guessing on-the-spot decisions. On the other hand, he's just made the case for keeping the Navy engaged around the world.

7:39 - Giuliani is now dismantling the NIE. Good move, since at least unlick Huck, he knows what it is. But now, sigh, sanctions.

7:38 -Thompson didn't really give an answer, did he?

7:37 - Now, Huckabee is talking tougher. Again, remember, this is South Carolina. 55% of families have members associated with the military. And they're like McCain more and more.

D'oh! Forgot to hit the Gang of Four button for this posting.

During the break, a word about the dollar. Academics believe that we can only correlate about 25% of currency movements to known factors. The dollar will certainly fall in response to an expected recession. Because people won't invest here, and the demand for dollars will fall.

Paul also brought up the easy lending practices, but surely he can't be calling for government to regulate those markets more?

7:30 - Paul's answer about the truthers apparently thrills his supporters, but it looks like more tapdancing. He's not a truther, but he won't tell them to go away except insofar as it hurts him. Now he's hit his stride. I'm sure he'll get applause for all this.

7:28 - Giuliani also hits the right note about leadership. Leadership, not managerial ability. The principles are timeless, but the policies have to be made for today's issues. Smart move. And trying to steal a little of the federalism message from Paul. Careful though. Electability isn't enough to get you elected.

7:26 - Huck gets some applause of his own. And here we are back to Huck's record. Wait! What's that? A Democratic governor of Arkansas in legal trouble? You're kidding me! A recitation of his record "correction," and more applause.

7:24 - Thompson fires off the first guns. Real energy here, because he knows who's in front in today's polls. And the first applause of the night.

7:23 - Romney gives a solid answer on the key question, but then goes back to the Reagan question. Look, I love Reagan as much as anyone, but the battle over his legacy is either over or doesn't matter. And this doesn't really answer the question.

7:21 - Another McCain chance to show off his spending hawk. Although I didn't realize that Climate Change was a Reaganite issue. A weak answer, I though.

7:18 - Now, all of a sudden, Huck's a tax-cutter. Please. But he's right about the guns. But it was Question 2 until he got around to the Evangelical identity politcs.

7:16 - Thompson brings up that the contagion has spread to the general credit markets. But this is a somewhat incoherent response. I get the sense that, like Paul, he's thought a lot about this, and is having a terrible time getting it into 1:30. UPDATE: he hit the tax cut reversal problem right, though. Businesses are already planning for higher taxes.

7:15 - Paul: Oy. Look, he's right about some of this, but the the problem he cites are just normal business cycle problems. The Fed didn't cause this with low interest rates, though. Long-term rates fell well in advance of the Fed's short-term cuts.

7:14 - McCain: Me too! Me Too! Only, not so much. Talk about spending. Tell me where they come from, though.

7:12 - Giuliani tries to steal a little of Romney's Club For Growth thunder. Finally, someone who understands where to cut taxes. Cutting spending will probably not stop a recession, but it's still the right thing to do.

7:10 - Huckabee continues as the populist. Not a single thing he mentioned causes a recession, and higher food prices owe as much to the corn ethanol subsidies he do love so well.

7:07 - McCain shows a weak grasp of economics, although a strong grasp of where the next primary is. That $400B buys the cheapest fuel available. Spending more on fuel, even if it's here, isn't going to help.

Romney starts off strong and then gets weak. Research into energy isn't going to avoid a recession. And right now, I'm looking for work. A middle class tax cut isn't going to increase my consumption, since I'm not paying anything right now anyway. Cut corporate taxes.

July 22, 2007

Barack The Line

From the AP this morning:

Democrat Barack Obama told union activists Saturday night that he would walk a picket line as president if organized labor helps elect him in 2008.

The Illinois senator also criticized President Bush's policies toward working people.

Gee, that must explain this:

Denver's lack of unionized hotels means that all the state delegations at the Democratic National Convention next year will have to be housed in nonunion venues.

The city's only union hotel is the Hyatt Regency, across from the Colorado Convention Center. Democratic officials have decided not to house any state delegations in the 1,100 room Hyatt, meaning the state delegations will be in other hotels around the city. The Hyatt will house national Democratic officials and party staff.

Then again, it's not the first time this has happened. From Election Day 2000:

But for those looking for the biggest bang for their buck -- or at least their parking meter -- LoDo was the place to be. Diana DeGette and Colorado Democratic Party (breaking away from its typical choice of union hotels) co-hosted a bash at the Soiled Dove...

Naturally, the AP buys into the notion that "workers" mean "union," and that workers' interests, even members' interests, are the same as the unions' interests. That must be why "union" increasingly means "government." It must also explain why every Democrat voted to eliminate the secret ballot for union certification. And why union bosses seem to have a hard time keeping their hands off their workers' money.

Well, no. This is why:

The San Francisco Chronicle reported: "California unions spent $88,000 (public employee unions' share was $68,000) in opposing Proposition 22, a 2000 ballot initiative that defined marriage as between a man and a woman"; a Los Angeles Times exit poll found that 58 percent of union households had voted yes on the measure. The Chronicle added: "California unions spent $32.7 million (public employee unions' share was $25.7 million) to oppose the recall of former Gov. Gray Davis, yet exit polls found half of union members voted for the recall and 56 percent voted for a Republican candidate to replace him—43 percent for Schwarzenegger and 13 percent for Tom McClintock."

According to the AP:

The union plays an important role in Iowa Democratic politics. Besides campaign money, an endorsement brings into play a legion of talented organizers throughout the state.

No doubt:

According to the court, the facts from Fort Collins show the teachers union crossed the legal line in its 2004 campaign activities.

On July 20, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the Colorado Education Association (CEA) and its local affiliate the Poudre Education Association (PEA) illegally helped state senate candidate Bob Bacon's campaign. The illegal assistance was crucial to Bacon's 2004 victory, which gave the Senate Democrats a one-seat majority.

In essence, Bacon skirted campaign finance restrictions by outsourcing the costly services of volunteer recruitment and literature distribution to CEA and PEA.

January 11, 2007

Well, They Had to Meet Somewhere

It's official. The 2008 Democratic Convention will be here in Denver. Apparently unfazed by a city in which the ubiquity of Wal Mart is matched only by the lack of union hotels, Hillary, Howard, and the whole motley crew are preparing to descend on us sometime next August.

For those interested, there will be a house available just for that week, at an attractive weekly rate. It's only 15 mins. from downtown driving, and on several major bus lines. Applications are being accepted now.

May 19, 2006

Ken Gordon's Strange Math

The Democrats want to amend the Constitution without having to amend it. In support of that proposition, another strange claim by Ken Gordon during our interview was that, "if John Kerry had gotten 60,000 more votes in Ohio," he would have been elected while losing the popular vote.

I guess they figure if they keep repeating this, it'll stick. The Ohio margin was 120,000 votes, not 60,000. Sixty thousand people would have had to change their votes, which is a very different thing. If 60,000 people had voted differently in Ohio, they surely would have done so elsewhere, probably making the question moot. And if New Hampshire, which was both smaller and more closely-run than Ohio, had gone the other way, Ohio wouldn't have mattered.

Look, almost every Presidential election is like this. Take a look at the map for 1976. Jimmy Carter won the national popular vote by 2 points. He won 297 electoral votes. So a swing of 29 electoral votes would have swung the election to Ford. Carter won Ohio by 11,000 votes, and Alabama (yes, that Alabama) by 15,000. So by cherry-picking 13,000 votes in those two states, Ford would have won the election while losing the popular vote.

Funny how 1976 never gets mentioned. Maybe if Ford had tried to sue his way back into office...

March 15, 2006

Yearning to Blog Free...

Instapundit reports that Bill Frist has introduced HB 1606, the Online Freedom of Speech Act into the Senate. Here's the text of the bill:

Paragraph (22) of section 301 of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 431(22)) is amended by adding at the end the following new sentence: `Such term shall not include communications over the Internet.'.

Colorado Representative Marilyn Musgrave is a co-sponsor in the House. Might make an interesting question for her Democratic challengers.

In Presidential terms, this is going to force McCain to take another stand that likely to be unpopular with the Republican base. Since the announcement appeared on Frist's funraising arm, VolPac, my guess is that the two are not entirely unrelated. It's harder to do this sort of thing in the Senate than in the House, of course, but count on seeing more of this sort of thing.

Of course, the the New York Times has come out against the bill as inimical to its interests fair campaigns

Politicians who chafe under the law's "soft money" ban would be free to run unlimited ads online, empowered by private donors who would not even be required to file campaign records. A similar loophole attempted by the Federal Election Commission has already been struck down in court for inviting "rampant circumvention" of the anticorruption law.

A far preferable alternative measure would fully protect the growing legions of bloggers, but not at the cost of turning the Internet into a tool for the abusive enrichment of candidates. A critical question is whether the Republican leadership will deny the public a fair debate over this issue by bottling up the alternative bill this week.

It is imperative that the courageous lawmakers who supported the McCain-Feingold reform law four years ago stand together against making the Internet a cornucopia of political corruption. Wavering Democrats, in particular, need a strong leadership call to stand fast, despite campaign-year cravings for more money. Voters need to pay particular attention to which lawmakers endorse this unfettered sale of political influence.

One gets the sense that for the Times, as for Gorbachev's USSR, its internal contradictions are finally forcing it to implode. How paying me for a campaign ad on my site enriches the candidate is hard to see. Admittedly, it's a little like office accounts, and we'll be waiting to see what the Denver papers have to say about it. But it's much more like 527 activity, which the Times and the Denver Post only seem to oppose on a partisan sporadic basis.

The call to "wavering Democrats" would have a lot more punch if Harry Reid hadn't introduced an identical bill - SB 678 - last year.

A better alternative wouldn't be HR 4900, but to scrap the whole thing from start to finish, admit reality, and start over with a bill that permits complete political speech and requires disclosure as to who's paying for it. The Times like HR 4900 because it essentially captures Internet speech under the same rubric as the rest of campaign finance law, albeit with some exemptions that can be closed over time.

One problem is the sheer size of the Net. Any enforcement would be spotty at best, and therefore subject to partisan tinkering, or the appearance thereof, which is at least as bad.

Secondly, the Times can afford to hire lawyers to defend itself and its employees, if it chooses to do so, and if you're Judith Miller, you know what I mean. Since most of us do this for the fun and not the money, it raises the cost of compliance beyond what most of us are willing to pay. Sure, the limit's $5000, but why are attorneys and accountants entitled to a cut of anything over that?

Finally, when the Feds walk in and sieze the computer I blog from, they're also taking my business, means of livelihood, family finances, and so on. Try do that to ol' Pinch and see what happens.

Still, HR 4900 does conclude with these soothing words:

Not later than 150 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Federal Election Commission shall publish a single policy guideline for the use of individuals engaging in online communications which describes in plain language the rules and regulations applicable under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to individual Internet activity.

That makes me feel much better.

March 13, 2006

History Rhyming?

I'm off to a Denver Center-Right Coalition meeting, so I'll have to make this much briefer than it deserves.

I wonder if, instead of being the FDR or William McKinley that we had hoped, President Bush isn't going to end up more like Lyndon Johnson. Even many conservatives, being fed a steady diet of bad news from the front, are starting to look for a way out of Iraq, and Federal spending, fed a steady diet of entitlements, is starting to look like Edgar just before the gas attack. Right now, that's not inflationary or recessionary, but only because everyone else's long-term interest rates are even lower than ours.

If the party split grows, it could open the door for a serious but unpopular candidate like Hillary, playing the role of Nixon. Nixon's party at the time was about as minority as the Democrats are now - controlled nothing, and hadn't for a while. His victories did little to improve the overall party's standing, another Clinton parallel. But they did make the party credible again, and set the stage for Reagan to break the decades-long liberal monopoly on ideas.

Gotta run. Discuss.

January 29, 2006

The War and the Temptations of Electoral Politics

Since the Republicans are right on the War on Radical Islam, and since that is the defining issue of our time, and since, for the moment, most Americans agree, there is a strong temptation to try to ride this issue to victory after victory.

This would be a mistake with potentially tragic consequences for the party, and worse, for the country.

At the most basic level, the war is only one issue, and one that operates primarily (although not exclusively) at a national level. Focusing on the war makes it easier for down-ticket large-government Republicans to recreate the successes of Illinois and Pensylvania. Simultaneously, failing to make electoral tests of free-market economics and conservative social policy puts off serious reduction of government indefinitely - since those issues never win a mandate.

More importantly, though, acquiescing in making the war a partisan issue makes it almost impossible to win the war. Bruce Catton, in a series of lectures, published as America Goes to War, points out that the Civil War - and any war in a democracy, really - is as much a political problem as a military one.

Lincoln understood that the war couldn't be won if it became a Republican War. Lincoln was able to co-opt prominent state and local Democrats through the device of the "political general." Whatever their military shortcomings - and it's far from clear that they, rather than the professionals - did the lasting damage to the war effort - political generals served to keep the war non-partisan, and to keep the country generally unified on the issue.

In allowing the War on Radical Islam to become partisan, and by not co-opting lower-tier Democrats, every election becomes a referendum on the war, even if that's not the issue forwardmost in voters' minds. In means that in order to win the war, Republicans have to win every time, and in a 48-48 (or even 52-48) country, that's just not going to happen.

Now it's no good saying, "the Democrats wouldn't allow that this time - they were too set in their Bush-hatred." Even given that certain elements of their party were beyond hope, it's the President's job to find a way to get as many of them on board as possible. The longer we wait, the more powerful the anti-war voices get within the Democratic party, and the harder the job gets.

January 28, 2006

LPR Straw Poll

Lots of interesting goings-on at the LPR retreat, but for the moment, the most interesting one.

Hugh Hewitt (and the Fetching Mrs. Hewitt) made the trek from LA, and at the end of Hugh's presentation, he did his 2008 Republican primary straw poll. The results were telling.

In a room of about 150 people, John McCain raked in about 4 votes, Rudy a few more, and Romney somewhere in-between. George Allen received the proverbial Forest of Hands, probably between 2/3 and 3/4 of the room. Hugh said that the McCain apathy is replicated everywhere he goes, but that he was a little surprised at Allen's strength.

I still think that the real race is between Allen and Romney, the governors (or former governors) in the race.

December 15, 2005

Mother of Presidents

A new Rasmussen poll has recently-departed Virginia Governor Mark Warner leading current Senator George Allen 49% - 44%. This basically reflects the same margin that Warner-protege Tim Kaine had over Allen-protege Jerry Kilgore in this fall's Governor's election. Still, both men remain very popular, with Allen all but assured of re-election in '06. (If Allen's keeping Dick Wadhams around, it can only be for some other reason. Cough.) For Virginians, at any rate, this is a choice between two good candidates, rather than a lesser-of-two-evils.

Some of Warner's lead may come from the fact that Allen hasn't been governor for 8 years, and more and more people think of him as a senator first. Senators do not make good Presidental candidates, largely because of the nature of the institution. But Allen was a governor first, and has stated on a number of occasions that he prefers executive office to legislative. (It's the same advantage Hillary has, although she's got more of an Imperial mentality, I think.)

I've thought for a while that Hillary's greatest challenge will come from a centrist Democratic governor, someone who doesn't owe her anything and who can carry some southern states. Warner may be the guy. Alllen has national clout from his successful management of last year's Senate races. It's probably too much to hope for that Virginia would produce both nominees, but it sure would make for a fun campaign.

October 3, 2005

Another Clinton, Same Blair

This speech by Hillary Clinton is interesting:

President Abbas must be held accountable for any and all actions that take place under his leadership. The disengagement has shown a bright spotlight on the Palestinian people and their leadership. The excuses have had to end. They now have responsibility for Gaza. The world will see whether they are capable of exercising responsible leadership. Will they be able and willing to pursue a path of peaceful coexistence? Or will they be overrun by the extremists the terrorists, whose only vision of the future is the destruction of Israel? Will they build roads and infrastructure or will they loot buildings, greenhouses and synagogues?

... a nuclear-armed Iran would shake the foundations of global security to its very core.

Mind you, I don't think a President Hillary Clinton would actully do anything to hold the Palestinians accountable, nor let Israel do so for very long. Nor do I think she's got either a clue or an interest in confronting the mullahs or toppling their regime. This could simply be more triangulation.

Or, she could really remember the shellacking she took at that post-9/11 benefit concert. And if she is serious, the risk for the country is a dramatic shift to the left domestically, covered by a serious foreign policy.

I've believed for some time that Hillary believes that 2008 will look a lot like 1968, with herself taking the place of Nixon.

Via the new Weekly Standard blog.


Power, Faith, and Fantasy

Six Days of War

An Army of Davids

Learning to Read Midrash

Size Matters

Deals From Hell

A War Like No Other


A Civil War

Supreme Command

The (Mis)Behavior of Markets

The Wisdom of Crowds

Inventing Money

When Genius Failed

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Back in Action : An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith and Fortitude

How Would You Move Mt. Fuji?

Good to Great

Built to Last

Financial Fine Print

The Day the Universe Changed


The Multiple Identities of the Middle-East

The Case for Democracy

A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam

The Italians

Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory

Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures

Reading Levinas/Reading Talmud