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Power User
Posts: 42475

« Reply #200 on: October 26, 2008, 04:21:22 PM »

Anyone want to converse with CCP about the point(s) he raises?
Power User
Posts: 2004

« Reply #201 on: October 26, 2008, 04:30:05 PM »

I think CCP already said it honestly and very succinctly.

Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #202 on: October 26, 2008, 07:48:49 PM »

If the housing market was allowed to find it's real bottom pricing without interference, would that not reduce the cost of living for the working stiffs, like me?
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #203 on: October 26, 2008, 10:22:00 PM »

The Age of Prosperity Is Over
This administration and Congress will be remembered like Herbert Hoover.

About a year ago Stephen Moore, Peter Tanous and I set about writing a book about our vision for the future entitled "The End of Prosperity." Little did we know then how appropriate its release would be earlier this month.

Financial panics, if left alone, rarely cause much damage to the real economy, output, employment or production. Asset values fall sharply and wipe out those who borrowed and lent too much, thereby redistributing wealth from the foolish to the prudent. This process is the topic of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book "Fooled by Randomness."

When markets are free, asset values are supposed to go up and down, and competition opens up opportunities for profits and losses. Profits and stock appreciation are not rights, but rewards for insight mixed with a willingness to take risk. People who buy homes and the banks who give them mortgages are no different, in principle, than investors in the stock market, commodity speculators or shop owners. Good decisions should be rewarded and bad decisions should be punished. The market does just that with its profits and losses.

No one likes to see people lose their homes when housing prices fall and they can't afford to pay their mortgages; nor does any one of us enjoy watching banks go belly-up for making subprime loans without enough equity. But the taxpayers had nothing to do with either side of the mortgage transaction. If the house's value had appreciated, believe you me the overleveraged homeowner and the overly aggressive bank would never have shared their gain with taxpayers. Housing price declines and their consequences are signals to the market to stop building so many houses, pure and simple.

But here's the rub. Now enter the government and the prospects of a kinder and gentler economy. To alleviate the obvious hardships to both homeowners and banks, the government commits to buy mortgages and inject capital into banks, which on the face of it seems like a very nice thing to do. But unfortunately in this world there is no tooth fairy. And the government doesn't create anything; it just redistributes. Whenever the government bails someone out of trouble, they always put someone into trouble, plus of course a toll for the troll. Every $100 billion in bailout requires at least $130 billion in taxes, where the $30 billion extra is the cost of getting government involved.

If you don't believe me, just watch how Congress and Barney Frank run the banks. If you thought they did a bad job running the post office, Amtrak, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the military, just wait till you see what they'll do with Wall Street.

Some 14 months ago, the projected deficit for the 2008 fiscal year was about 0.6% of GDP. With the $170 billion stimulus package last March, the add-ons to housing and agriculture bills, and the slowdown in tax receipts, the deficit for 2008 actually came in at 3.2% of GDP, with the 2009 deficit projected at 3.8% of GDP. And this is just the beginning.

The net national debt in 2001 was at a 20-year low of about 35% of GDP, and today it stands at 50% of GDP. But this 50% number makes no allowance for anything resulting from the over $5.2 trillion guarantee of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac assets, or the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). Nor does the 50% number include any of the asset swaps done by the Federal Reserve when they bailed out Bear Stearns, AIG and others.

But the government isn't finished. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid -- and yes, even Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke -- are preparing for a new $300 billion stimulus package in the next Congress. Each of these actions separately increases the tax burden on the economy and does nothing to encourage economic growth. Giving more money to people when they fail and taking more money away from people when they work doesn't increase work. And the stock market knows it.

The stock market is forward looking, reflecting the current value of future expected after-tax profits. An improving economy carries with it the prospects of enhanced profitability as well as higher employment, higher wages, more productivity and more output. Just look at the era beginning with President Reagan's tax cuts, Paul Volcker's sound money, and all the other pro-growth, supply-side policies.

Bill Clinton and Alan Greenspan added their efforts to strengthen what had begun under President Reagan. President Clinton signed into law welfare reform, so people actually have to look for a job before being eligible for welfare. He ended the "retirement test" for Social Security benefits (a huge tax cut for elderly workers), pushed the North American Free Trade Agreement through Congress against his union supporters and many of his own party members, signed the largest capital gains tax cut ever (which exempted owner-occupied homes from capital gains taxes), and finally reduced government spending as a share of GDP by an amazing three ?189 percentage points (more than the next four best presidents combined). The stock market loved Mr. Clinton as it had loved Reagan, and for good reasons.

The stock market is obviously no fan of second-term George W. Bush, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Ben Bernanke, Barack Obama or John McCain, and again for good reasons.

These issues aren't Republican or Democrat, left or right, liberal or conservative. They are simply economics, and wish as you might, bad economics will sink any economy no matter how much they believe this time things are different. They aren't.

I was on the White House staff as George Shultz's economist in the Office of Management and Budget when Richard Nixon imposed wage and price controls, the dollar was taken off gold, import surcharges were implemented, and other similar measures were enacted from a panicked decision made in August of 1971 at Camp David.

I witnessed, like everyone else, the consequences of another panicked decision to cover up the Watergate break-in. I saw up close and personal Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush succumb to panicked decisions to raise taxes, as well as Jimmy Carter's emergency energy plan, which included wellhead price controls, excess profits taxes on oil companies, and gasoline price controls at the pump.

The consequences of these actions were disastrous. Just look at the stock market from the post-Kennedy high in early 1966 to the pre-Reagan low in August of 1982. The average annual real return for U.S. assets compounded annually was -6% per year for 16 ?189 years. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a bear market. And it is something that you may well experience again. Yikes!

Then we have this administration's panicked Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, and of course the deer-in-the-headlights Mr. Bernanke in his bungling of monetary policy.

There are many more examples, but none hold a candle to what's happening right now. Twenty-five years down the line, what this administration and Congress have done will be viewed in much the same light as what Herbert Hoover did in the years 1929 through 1932. Whenever people make decisions when they are panicked, the consequences are rarely pretty. We are now witnessing the end of prosperity.

Mr. Laffer is chairman of Laffer Associates and co-author of "The End of Prosperity: How Higher Taxes Will Doom the Economy -- If We Let it Happen," just out by Threshold.
Power User
Posts: 2004

« Reply #204 on: October 27, 2008, 12:23:27 AM »

If the housing market was allowed to find it's real bottom pricing without interference, would that not reduce the cost of living for the working stiffs, like me?
Actually, that is true; why is it so bad if inflated/bubble housing prices reduce?  And continue to reduce.  Bubbles burst; is that so bad?
And don't blame the banks, government, (democrats or republicans) etc; people agreed and bought these houses with nothing down and without the means to support the payment.
I could buy a Ferrari (red) with nothing down too.  Guess what?  They dealer/bank would take it back real fast after they figured out I couldn't pay.
Why am I suppose to feel sorry for homeowners?  I don't.  And the upside?  in the end as GM mentioned, the cost for everyone will go down.

I don't see why the government is interfering so much not to mention with our tax dollars.  Buy up these bad mortgages with tax dollars and reduce the cost basis?  Give me a break!
Power User
Posts: 7831

« Reply #205 on: October 27, 2008, 09:35:51 AM »

Thanks for the responses.  I think this is a fundamental problem for the Republicnas that needs to be addressed soemhow in some fashion before they can ever regain power.  Maybe we can come up with ideas.  WE need new leaders in the Rebuplican ranks.  Is anyone out there?

I am pleased with the bombshells on Drudge this morning.

I don't think most people in this country realize that BO is a marxist and a socialist and what they are actually voting for.

IF he gets in with full power in the House and Senate and can pack the court with judges who liberally interpret the constitution in ways that is not equal to all Americans we are headed for the end of AMerica as we now it and will second rate status.

As Mark Levin has apply put:

BO's philosophy is a form of reparations.  I don't think America really understands that and of coursse the mainstream media wants to ignore this in their hatred of Bush and Republicans in general.

I am terrified at the thought of a Dem controlled government with the likes of crazy loons like Pelosi and Reid, and BO.  I am terrfied for our great country and our future.   The younger generation has no clue what they are doing and who they are giving power to and what it means to their future.  As they said in ancient Greece - "youth is wasted on the young".

And BO will get everything he wants  with them controlling all of governement.  I can just hear it now - oh how he is such a compromiser and he gets all sides to work together - even though the Dems are ramming everything throught for hims with a helpless opposition.

Yes  - "clusterf..k" is right.

« Reply #206 on: October 27, 2008, 04:09:08 PM »

Rush's Blueprint
by David Frum

Last week, Tony Blankley published and Rush Limbaugh publicized what may prove one of the most important articles of 2008. I don't mean that the article was good - very much the contrary. But bad work can be even more important than good, if enough people can be got to believe it.

Here's Tony:

I suspect that the conservative movement we start rebuilding on the ashes of Nov. 4 (even if McCain wins) will have little use for overwritten, over-delicate commentary. The new movement will be plain-spoken and socially networked up from the Interneted streets, suburbs and small towns of America.

Here's Rush:

Since there is not a strong elected conservative anywhere, then conservatism right now is sort of like wandering in the distance with every conservative thinking that they're the smartest person in the room trying to show the way to the light. The way to the light is plainly visible. But everybody wants to be considered the smartest people in the room, so they come up with all these new things like "the era of Reagan is over."

And more Rush:

[T]here's a blueprint for winning it, 1980, there's a blueprint. McCain is not the blueprint for how Republicans win landslides. Going after moderates, independents, and all these yokels is not the blueprint. The blueprint's there, 1994, taking back the House, the blueprint's there. Why are these people ignoring it?

If I understand it correctly, the Blankley/Rush argument goes like this:

1) Reagan-style conservatism remains wildly popular with the American people. It was the "blueprint" for winning landslides between 1980 and 1994, and it remains the blueprint today.

2) Yet for some unaccountable mysterious reason, politicians are ignoring this blueprint! There is not a strong elected conservative voice in the country today.

3) So obviously what we need to do is return to the politics of the 1980s - and sit back and collect the rewards.

This argument raises one big question:

Could it be possible that the reason that we lack Reagan-style conservatives in elected office today is that they are having trouble getting elected?

Still more Rush, referring by name to people like Peggy Noonan, David Brooks, Christopher Buckley, Kathleen Parker, and me:

These are the people who are embarrassed by Sarah Palin 'cause she's not an intellectual and she didn't go to Harvard or have a college degree from approved universities and she drops her g's from words like morning and says mornin'. She's embarrassing, and I think something else really bothering these people is that they believe that she may become one of the key leaders of the conservative movement beyond 2008 if she and McCain lose this.

OK, let's develop this a little.

1) Sarah Palin has the potential to become a key leader of the conservative movement beyond 2008.

2) If that happens, she will follow "the blueprint" and achieve another conservative landslide - and another successful presidency!

3) But snobs like Peggy, David, Christopher, Kathleen and me are embarrassed that she drops her Gs. Our motto: "Unless we can nominate a Harvard graduate, we'd rather lose."

I have to wonder:

Can even Rush himself believe this junk?

I think Rush is a great entertainer and has often been a force for good in the conservative movement. But right now, he is feeding his audience pleasing illusions that can only lead conservatives to even greater troubles in the days ahead.

Take a look at this poll from Stanley Greenberg ( (Yes Greenberg's a Democrat - but he's long proven himself a realistic analyst of American politics. Greenberg is the guy who identified Macomb County, Michigan, as the heartland of the "Reagan Democrats" - and warned Democrats that they were losing both Macomb and the nation.)

While a sizeable majority of voters say Republicans have lost in 2006 and 2008 because they have been “too conservative,” a sizeable plurality of Republicans say, it is because they have “not been conservative enough.”

Over three-quarters of Republicans say Palin was good choice, while a majority of the electorate says the opposite.

Two-thirds of Republicans say McCain has not been aggressive enough, but a majority of voters think they have been too aggressive.

Looking to the future, a large majority of Republicans say the party needs to “move more to the right and back to conservative principles,” while an even larger majority of all voters say, it should move to the “center to win over moderate and independent voters.”

When Rush and Blankley tell us the blueprint is there, if only we would follow it, they are telling us something that is not true. They are offering flattering illusions when we need truth. They are leading us to disaster - and beyond disaster, to irrelevance.

Power User
Posts: 7831

« Reply #207 on: October 27, 2008, 04:59:19 PM »

Yes, yes, yes.

I agree with your commentary 100%.

Reagan *is* over.  They are wrong.  The country has moved left - though hopefully still right of center wherever that is exactly.

I am surprised by Blankley  who I thought was more practical but not by Rush who simply doesn't get it. 

"Could it be possible that the reason that we lack Reagan-style conservatives in elected office today is that they are having trouble getting elected?"


That is the reason why Romney who ran on "Reagan ideals" did not excite a single person who was not from the far right.

You hit the nail on the head.  Rush and the religious right are pulling the Republican party off the cliff.  In fact they may have already done it.  I don' t personally disgaree with them or have any avarice towards the religious rights views but they are NOT mainstream.  They cannot keep winning with the population becoming more minority, with the middle class struggling harder and harder and more and more people happier than hell to have government add them to the doles.

Wake up.  Latinos are not Reagan Dems.  Younger people are not Reaganites either.  Blacks appear to be hopeless targets for the Republicans thought they must try.  And women?  Impossible to understand as always cry

The majority in the middle, left of middle and right of middle are screwed.  Now we go from Rush Limbaugh right to Pelosi, Bama radical left.

Why can't we get a party that is truly in the middle that represents most Americans???

To hell with the fringes before they send us all to hell.

Give me centrism or give me death!!!  wink

Power User
Posts: 42475

« Reply #208 on: October 27, 2008, 05:57:45 PM »

AND centrism gives us the economically incoherent McCain.  A major disaster in American political culture is being imprinted right now--aided and abetted by McC's pandering populism about greed on Wall Street being the cause-- NONE OF THIS COULD HAVE HAPPENED BUT FOR THE GOVERNMENT/FED PRINTING TOO MUCH MONEY. GOLD FROM $250 TO $900?!?  BASKET OF COMMODITIES EXPLODING PRICES?!? OIL?!?  NEGATIVE INTEREST RATES?!? DOLLAR COLLAPSING?!?  ITS NOT LIKE THERE WEREN'T SOME REAL IN PLAIN SITE CLUES!!!

SERVING AS A MULTIPLIER WERE THE FMs, THE CRA, mark to market rules, etc.


Instead we get buffoonery from McC about Wall Street Greed and he's going to go after Wall Street even more than BO.  Barf.

OF COURSE, there was outrageous and unprincipled greed on Wall Street that greatly accelerated the process.  DUH.  Its Wall Street!  Its what they do!  AND THAT IS WHY YOU STICK TO YOUR F^&*(^(&G JOB OF KEEPING THE CURRENCY STABLE.
Power User
Posts: 7831

« Reply #209 on: October 27, 2008, 07:32:31 PM »

I don't equate centrism with populism.

Power User
Posts: 7831

« Reply #210 on: October 28, 2008, 09:29:08 AM »

"Elect us, hold us accountable, and make a judgment and then go from there. But I do tell you that if the Democrats win and have substantial majorities, Congress of the United States will be more bipartisan," said Pelosi

I am not sure anyone other than Pelosi could make such a statement.

A house divided cannot stand.  With Pelosi who is the least bipartisan and thus the most partisan conspiring pol there is, there is no hope of any bipartisanship.   I suspect BO will cruise way left as well.  He may be more conspiring then all of them.  But he might surprise us as he probably wants to be the popular king so he may just continue to kiss up to the pollsters data.
We'll see.
Power User
Posts: 42475

« Reply #211 on: October 28, 2008, 02:29:02 PM »

Running Against Reid, Pelosi and What's-His-Name.

Senator John McCain's snake-bit campaign may finally have hit on a theme that could resonate with independent voters in the runup to next Tuesday's election.

He has begun raising the specter of what a complete Democratic takeover of Washington would mean. He told a crowd in New Mexico last weekend that if Mr. Obama were elected, the public would have no effective brake on the liberal agenda of Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"Senator Obama's tax increase would put even more people out of work," Mr. McCain said. "But that is exactly what's going to happen if the Democrats have total control of Washington. We can't let that happen. Are you ready for Obama, Pelosi and Reid?"

Other Republicans are raising the dire prospect of one-party government. Senator Liddy Dole of North Carolina is running an ad warning voters not to hand Democrats "a blank check."

All of this harkens back to one of the most successful GOP rescue operations in recent political history. As Bob Dole fell behind the charismatic Bill Clinton in 1996, Republicans boldly appealed to independents to vote in favor of divided government. They put out ads featuring a fortune-teller gazing into a crystal ball showing over-the-top scenes of Biblical devastation, plague and conflict. An announcer warned: "Remember the last time Democrats ran everything? The largest tax increase in history. Government-run health care. More wasteful spending. Who wants that again? Don't let the media stop you from voting. And don't hand Bill Clinton a blank check."

It worked. Republicans kept control of Congress. Haley Barbour, then GOP national chairman and now governor of Mississippi, said at the time voters had responded to the idea of an insurance policy against one-party rule. With time running out, the GOP is resurrecting this golden oldie in hopes that independent voters may not like the idea of having the government completely controlled by the trio of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

-- John Fund

The Disarming Mr. Obama

There's at least one government program Democrats are planning to cut deeply next year. Rep. Barney Frank last week told the editorial board of his home district's South Coast Standard-Times that defense spending will be slashed by 25% in the next Congress. He said such dramatic cuts would likely force the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and a rollback in Pentagon plans for high-tech weaponry. "We don't need all these fancy new weapons," the Massachusetts liberal told the paper's editors.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has made similar comments on the campaign trail. In a video circulating on the Web (, he says he intends to cut "tens of billions of dollars in wasteful spending" at the Pentagon. "I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems. I will not weaponize space. I will slow our investments in future combat systems." He also would institute a new oversight panel to monitor the DoD's existing planning panel to make sure "it is not used to justify unnecessary spending."

On his campaign Web site, Mr. Obama says he also wants to increase the size of Army by 65,000 and the Marine Corps by 27,000, while expanding health care, special ops, civil affairs and other specialties and introducing a "Military Families Advisory Board." The Pentagon has worked in recent years to reduce overhead and increase what it calls "the tooth to tail ratio." Mr. Obama's clear agenda is to invest in more military tail, less tooth.

-- Brendan Miniter

Ted Stevens Joins the Pantheon

We now know that the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" championed by Alaska GOP Senator Ted Stevens did indeed lead somewhere: to the end of his career.

The senator was convicted yesterday on seven felony counts of failing to report gifts from the Alaskan oil-services company Veco on his financial disclosure forms.

Make no mistake. The fall of Ted Stevens was tied directly to his endless quest for earmarks -- pork barrel projects -- he could drag home to Alaska. While the federal indictment did not allege a clear quid-pro-quo, Veco CEO Bill Allen was demonstrably seeking earmarks from Mr. Stevens when he helped renovate the senator's house in suburban Anchorage while forgetting to send the senator most of the bills.

I vividly recall a conversation with Mr. Stevens about the earmark process back in 2006, when the testy senator was chairmonster of the Appropriations Committee. Our talk was surreal as he claimed "discretionary federal spending isn't out of whack," despite all evidence to the contrary.

But he also had moments of blinding candor. He acknowledged that a lot of the spending earmarks wouldn't have passed Constitutional muster before the Great Society. "Back when I was a lawyer in the Interior Department under Eisenhower, we wouldn't have dreamed much of this was anything but a state and local responsibility," he said. "But now that these are the rule, there is no one more tenacious in seeing my state is taken care of."

Sadly, Mr. Stevens also took care of himself, accepting gifts "on loan" for his house that ranged from a used La-Z-Boy recliner to an awful fish sculpture that he never reported on his financial disclosure forms.

There hasn't been a more sordid end to a Congressional career since former House Speaker Jim Wright resigned over bulk sales of a vanity press book or former House Ways and Means Chairman Daniel Rostenkowski went to prison for pilfering postage stamps and office furniture from the House.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"[A]ccording to The Huffington Post, Obama's lack of experience is immune from criticism because he attended Ivy League schools, ‘was a serious and successful student,’ is a well-traveled, published author, and has a diverse background. Heck, he's me! Yet, in every one of my encounters with America's rural communities, the diversity of my privileged experience was eclipsed by the depth of theirs. I had rhetoric; they had well-measured speech, punctuated by forbearing silences. I had easy answers; they knew there was no such thing. It is not that the Republican base is anti-intellectual, as David Broder claims; they are anti-elitist. An Ivy League education is hardly a universal signal of competence in anything other than the liberal cultural canon " -- Joan Chevalier, a New York City speechwriter and essayist, writing in the Boston Globe.

From Joe the Plumber to Joe the Non-Taxpayer

Under Barack Obama's tax plan, millions of Americans who have zero federal income tax liability would nonetheless receive tax rebate checks from the government. Liberals claim these handouts are not really handouts, but would partially offset what recipients pay in FICA taxes for Social Security and Medicare. That's how Mr. Obama can claim 95% of Americans would receive a "tax cut" under his plan.

How big is the bill for Mr. Obama's rebate program? A new study from the Heritage Foundation counts a prospective 10 million net new recipients of federal dollars, who would receive an average of more than $2,000 each year. That adds up to a massive $20 billion-a-year new welfare program. The left-leaning Tax Policy Center similarly forecasts a massive increase in spending on Obama's "refundable tax credits."

Now we know where a President Obama would spend some of the money he takes from Joe the Plumber. With Washington staring at a near-trillion-dollar deficit next year, his interest in "spreading the wealth" clearly isn't a sideshow. It's a central priority even amid the country's unprecedented economic troubles.

Power User
Posts: 9471

« Reply #212 on: October 29, 2008, 12:05:03 AM »

From CCP: "there is a growing wealth disparity in the US and if the Republicans do not address this in some fashion they will continue to swim against the demographic currents and may never recover. I don't want to punish successful people... There has to be some other answer to this. Ignoring this has resulted in the Democrat tsunami in my opinion."

"There must be another way to raise the living standards of the majority of Americans who are running in place and indeed slowly slipping behind while that has not been true for the rich.. They can ignore it at their own peril."

"People I think are tired of Reagan's mantra, philosophy and ideals.  They want action.  They want results."

It's true that too many Americans feel like they are running in place economically.  I think the reason is because of certain runaway costs rather than low income, an important distinction IMO.  Incomes are high and growing at least until recently. Americans have a median household income of over $50,000. That might be enough to get by if not for runaway costs in certain market segments have been escalated by meddling.  Sectors like energy, housing, healthcare, college tuition and overall tax burden come to mind.  Also I notice a wealth and debt mentality - we have so much access to money we say no to almost nothing.  So we find ourselves strapped.

The point about income and wealth disparity has flaws IMO.

Most obvious is that the Census Bureau pretends to measure poverty but doesn't count non-cash subsidies which can the the bulk of the income for people in programs like section 8, food debit cards, taxpayer health care, subsidized transportation etc etc. So they constantly understate the 'wealth' of the have-nots.

Secondly, there is significant income mobility - it isn't always the same people that are rich and getting richer. Also there is a difference between wealth and income.  Some with low income have wealth and some with high incomes lack accumulations of wealth.

Another flaw is wealth disparity increases when wealth increases and we've just come through about a 24 year boom. Wealth disparity certainly DECREASED during the current collapse of real estate and other investment values.  Disparity is a contrary indicator to wealth creation. 

If Reagan mantras have been worn out lately it's from false use not because they are no longer true.  Even Reagan expanded government in compromise, like a centrist or a pragmatist.

The desire to move up economically and to achieve more personal and family financial security should push people toward pro-growth policies, not leftism, but conservatism has suffered IMO from a leadership and salesmanship gap for a long time. 

McCain keeps trying to fight redistributionism but the clearest words against class envy came from this wise author:

"You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour." - God
« Last Edit: October 29, 2008, 12:16:44 AM by DougMacG » Logged
Power User
Posts: 42475

« Reply #213 on: October 29, 2008, 10:23:35 AM »

Bit of a tangent here:

I notice that this quote:
""You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour." - God" 

is a bit longer than the usual "Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's goods".    Why is that?  What you quote here resonates to me as being more what the original Hebrew would have said.
Power User
Posts: 9471

« Reply #214 on: October 29, 2008, 12:01:28 PM »

Crafty, The quote I attributed to God actually came through  They link to this anglicized version:
I was trying to one-up Obama's impressive endorsement of Gen. Powell by finding someone with even more gravitas for my side of the argument, lol.  He basically covers the car, the house the employees, even the wife.  We aren't supposed to be looking over our neighbor's stuff except maybe in the interest of friendly conversation, but not for theft or public takings.

If we buy into the concept that disparity politics is valid and relevant, then what is the right amount of disparity?  The former Mpls congressman Martin Sabo (Keith Ellison's predecessor) proposed that companies could not pay it's highest paid employee more than 20 times what it pays its lowest paid worker.  If you buy fully into the unfairness concept and right to a remedy, why stop at 20-fold?  What is the right amount of disparity?  If unequal pay is unfair, why not mandate outcomes to be equal?  The answer of course is that that system would be even more unfair not to mention extremely inefficient.  Some have more invested in training, skills and resources.  Some people work harder, smarter or longer hours.  Some build products demanded in the marketplace and some build GM cars. How do you explain to an Obamist or Naderite that Tiger Woods deserves high pay for his golf and I don't... 

When we focus on disparity we lose out to policies that move in the direction of Marxism, public ownership, and mandated outcomes that don't make economic sense. Inherent in that is that to achieve lower disparity we have to remove or reduce the incentives and rewards to produce especially for the most productive among us and the result is less production, less income, less wealth throughout the economy. But if we can change the argument to whether or not to open pro-growth opportunities, to remove barriers to success, to give all taxpayers a piece of the responsibility for public spending and to recognize that the burden of achievement rests on the individual, then I think we move toward a more free and prosperous society. 

Who would want that?
« Last Edit: October 29, 2008, 12:06:45 PM by DougMacG » Logged
Power User
Posts: 7831

« Reply #215 on: October 29, 2008, 06:45:29 PM »


My thoughts,

"It's true that too many Americans feel like they are running in place economically.  I think the reason is because of certain runaway costs rather than low income, an important distinction IMO.  Incomes are high and growing at least until recently"

They don't just feel this way - whatever the reason whether increase costs or incomes not rising fast enough - they are running in place.

"If Reagan mantras have been worn out lately it's from false use not because they are no longer true." 

Reagan also remained oddly silent while money was hemmorrhaging out the window with the Savings and Loan mess.   Thanks to his kindness we have quadruple the number of illegals in the US.  How many of their offspring (now citizens) vote for members of his party?

"but conservatism has suffered IMO from a leadership and salesmanship gap for a long time."

I think simple Reaganism is not the answer alone.  What about the costs of education, health care, energy?  Free markets are not controlling these costs (although one could argue the greens have suppressed energy growth such as nuclear power and offshore drilling).  And this is a huge reason the Republicans are in the tank.  I don't want Obamanomics. He is an angry nut job IMO.  But also IMO the republicans  neeed to come up with more ideas and salesmenship but not the latter alone.

Power User
Posts: 513

« Reply #216 on: October 30, 2008, 11:57:19 AM »

Just ran across this quote in an Christian Science Monitor story

 Socialist Party of America presidential candidate Norman Thomas: "The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism, they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened."
Power User
Posts: 7831

« Reply #217 on: October 30, 2008, 03:14:17 PM »

IMO just simply touting Reaganism does not imply *change*.  And the concept of "change" is I think where BO has won the hearts and minds of many.

For 72 years old McCain is truly an inspiring man.

Someone called Rush on the radio earlier this pm and claimed that McCain destroyed the Republican party.  Really?
IS that what some Rebublicans think?  I really think any Republican further to the right would get wiped up.  If Romeny was running on the Reagan mantra he would even be further behind.

We need a Republican party that can speak to change. 

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« Reply #218 on: October 30, 2008, 06:42:56 PM »

Just ran across this quote in an Christian Science Monitor story

 Socialist Party of America presidential candidate Norman Thomas: "The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism, they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened."

I fear he will be proven correct.
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« Reply #219 on: October 31, 2008, 02:28:18 PM »

October 31, 2008

In today's Political Diary:

- Return of the Clinton Administration
- John Kerry as Secretary of State?
- Pelosi's Punching Bag
- McConnell's Last Stand
- Californication
- The Obama-Acorn Connection

Clinton III?

Barack Obama and Bill Clinton still have deep differences, but they managed to make
nice while campaigning together this week in Florida.

Mr. Obama may pay Mr. Clinton the ultimate compliment if elected. He's likely to
appoint Chicago Congressman Rahm Emanuel as his new White House chief of staff and
John Podesta of the Center for American Progress as his transition chief. Mr.
Emanuel served in the Clinton White House as a top aide, and Mr. Podesta is a former
chief of staff for President Clinton.

The Associated Press reports that an aide to Rep. Emanuel, Sarah Feinberg, said in
an email that her boss "has not been contacted to take a job in an administration
that does not yet exist. Everyone is focused on Election Day, as they should be."
But the AP also confirms that both Mr. Emanuel and former Senate Majority Leader Tom
Daschle have received feelers about the top White House staff job.

Mr. Emanuel was the architect of the successful Democratic takeover of the House in
2006, and is well known for tough talk and hyper-aggressive tactics. Should he get
the job, the Obama White House might well take on the look and feel of the Clinton
political "war room" that Dick Morris ran in the mid-1990s. The longer Mr. Obama is
a candidate, the more he has seemed to appreciate the Clinton approach. If this is
the "change" Mr. Obama has in mind, voters may be surprised how much it turns out to
be an updated edition of the last Democratic White House.

-- John Fund

Who Will Run the 'No Preconditions' Portfolio?

Jostling for jobs in a Barack Obama Administration is well underway, especially the
plumb Secretary of State position. While Mr. Obama tends to keep his own counsel, he
has relied so far on a small circle of advisers -- headed by Tony Lake and Susan
Rice -- while selectively allowing an array of former Hillary Clinton backers into
his tent since he secured the nomination.

The elder statesman in his circle, Mr. Lake had a bad run atop the Clinton National
Security Council, then failed in his Senate confirmation bid for the CIA. He doesn't
sound eager to try his luck again at the State Department. Meanwhile, just like
George W. Bush's "Dr. Rice," Susan Rice is the candidate's closest adviser on
foreign affairs. But she's also young (44), rung up a spotty record in the Clinton
Administration (overseeing Africa policy) and may lack the gravitas expected in a
post recently held by the likes of Colin Powell and Warren Christopher.

Who are some other contenders? John Kerry tells friends in Boston that he and Mr.
Obama have "an understanding." Mr. Kerry is desperate for a change from the Senate
and clearly has his eye on State. Richard Lugar and Chuck Hagel are two Republicans
who also might fit in an Obama Administration. A strike against Sen. Lugar is his
age (76) and the fact that he hardly seems an agent of "change." Mr. Hagel, the
Nebraska Republican, is leaving the Senate and agrees with Mr. Obama on most things,
primarily Iraq. But he's unpopular in the GOP and wouldn't win Mr. Obama many points
for "bipartisanship." Mr. Obama may prefer to stick with Robert Gates at the
Pentagon as his token Republican.

From the Democratic establishment, two names that come up for the state department
are Strobe Talbott and Richard Holbrooke, both intimate Clintonistas, Shunned by the
Obama crowd after the primaries, Mr. Holbrooke finally joined a "senior working
group" gathering in Richmond last week with the candidate. He hadn't been invited
last time. Sam Nunn and Lee Hamilton -- also on the long list -- were there too. "It
was done to keep them happy," says one Obama aide. Aside from his Hillary links, the
problem with Mr. Holbrooke is "he's too much his own guy. I don't think Obama wants
someone over there conducting his own foreign policy," my Obama source says.

Mr. Talbott, who served as No. 2 in the Clinton state department, would be easier to
control. He also heads the Brookings Institution, home to several other Obama
advisers, and (like several Obama associates) also happens to be a Rhodes Scholar.
"That seems to count a lot for those people," says one prominent Democrat.

If Mr. Obama wins next week, his personnel picks will shed light on a foreign policy
agenda that remains partly murky. He most clearly wants to withdraw from Iraq
quickly and make Afghanistan "Barack's War." But otherwise he's laid out a foreign
policy agenda consisting of more style than substance at this point.

-- Matthew Kaminski

Tilting at Nancy's Well-Fortified Windmill

Nancy Pelosi occupies one of the least competitive districts in the country. The
Speaker of the House routinely pulls in more than 80% of the vote, with Republican
challengers often struggling just to stay ahead of whichever wacky third-party
candidates happen to be running.

This year, the latter category is ably nailed down by Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war
activist best known for camping outside President Bush's Texas ranch. Ms. Sheehan,
who's running as an independent, has enlisted Roseanne Barr to record robo-calls on
her behalf and was this week escorted to an event by Sean Penn. With Ms. Sheehan in
the contest, the brave, hapless Republican in the race, Dana Walsh, says she's
"running against the two most dangerous women in America." In a district where
Democrats outnumber Republicans eight to one, she might be lucky to outpoll Ms.
Sheehan next Tuesday.

Ms. Walsh is an interior designer who admits in a campaign video that when the
financial crisis hit, she "was totally unprepared to understand it." She added:
"Most people in Congress didn't understand it either." Truth in politics.

While she's not unduly optimistic about her chances, Ms. Walsh maintains that
"someone has to run." And she's already raised twice as much money as Ms. Pelosi's
last Republican challenger. The vast majority of that money came not only from
outside the district, but from outside the state.

In her defense, Ms. Pelosi's extraordinarily safe seat is not the product of a
cynical gerrymander. Her district covers most of San Francisco and doesn't resemble
a snake slithering across the state to pick up just the right demographic to keep
Ms. Pelosi in office in perpetuity. Ms. Pelosi's dominance simply reflects the
ultraliberal politics of her town. Give Ms. Walsh credit, then, for standing up for
the principle that one-party elections have no place even in San Francisco.

-- Brian M. Carney

Kentucky Firewall

Will Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell be among the Republican casualties on Election
Day? In the latest Lexington Herald-Leader/WKYT poll, Mr. McConnell, the GOP Senate
leader, has slipped below the magic number for incumbents of 50%. If tradition
holds, he can't expect to win many late-deciding voters amid a barrage of attack ads
funded by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the closing days. Though
the Herald-Leader poll still has him clinging to a slim lead, 47% to 43%, he's
anything but a shoo-in.

Democrats relish the thought of knocking off Mr. McConnell as payback for the defeat
four years ago of their own then-Majority Leader Tom Daschle. Mr. McConnell's defeat
would also move them closer to a 60-seat, filibuster-proof Senate majority. One of
the party's top stars, Hillary Clinton, will even spend the last Sunday before
Election Day stumping for Mr. McConnell's Democratic challenger Bruce Lunsford.

Democrats were emboldened by last year's crushing defeat of incumbent Republican
Gov. Ernie Fletcher by Steve Beshear. But they may be reading too much into that
victory. South Dakota voters saw Mr. Daschle as an "obstructionist" and sent him
packing in 2004 while giving President George W. Bush a reelection margin of 22
points. Mr. McConnell's situation is totally different. He's still a conservative in
a red state that will almost certainly vote overwhelmingly for the Republican
presidential candidate. In the past, Mr. McConnell has managed to hold his seat with
the largest victory margins of any Republican in Kentucky history.

At the moment, though, he's being flayed for his support of the $700 billion Wall
Street bailout -- which the state's other Republican senator, Jim Bunning, denounced
as "socialism." Kentucky voters have a hard time understanding why they should pay
for a financial meltdown that so far has barely touched their state. Still, Mr.
McConnell may start to get some credit for making the hard decisions as Kentucky
begins to feel the pain.

Then there's this: Both he and his opponent have taken to calling their contest "the
second most important" in the country because of the prospect of a Democratic
supermajority in the Senate. As Mr. McConnell told supporters Wednesday: "There is
nothing the far left would like better besides winning the White House than to take
me out." That argument may yet be salvation for him and several other embattled GOP
Senators around the country.

-- Brendan Miniter

'Election Deception,' California-style

The profligate spending of California's local governments means pols are going to
extreme lengths to grab revenue. Voters in more than two dozen California
jurisdictions, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, will be asked next week to
approve telephone tax increases. Thanks to misleading summaries on local ballots,
many will actually think they're voting for tax cuts.

The California Taxpayers' Association calls it "Deception 2008." Only two
jurisdictions, Eureka and Seaside, appear to have legitimate phone tax repeals on
the ballot.

It all started in 2006, when the U.S. Treasury ruled that an antiquated "utility
user tax," created to fund the Spanish-American War, no longer applies to many of
today's phone services. Local pols realized they would need to get voter approval to
continue collecting the hefty taxes. But how to dupe voters into going along?
Answer: With ballot proposals that offer modest "cuts" in the phone tax and don't
clearly mention that, absent a vote, the tax would disappear altogether.

In some jurisdictions, politicians have gone so far as to craft tricky language to
expand the taxes to text messaging and other digital services. Sacramento's "Utility
Tax Reduction and Fairness Measure," for instance, fails to mention the new services
subject to tax, but promises to "preserve funding for essential municipal services
like police, fire protection and youth programs."

Bottom line: California voters should exercise extreme caution before voting for
something that sounds like a reduction in the tax on talking.

-- James Freeman

Follow the Money

Earlier this week, Anita MonCrief, a former employee of Acorn's Project Vote,
testified in a Pennsylvania court that she was given donor lists from the Obama and
other Democratic campaigns so she could approach donors who had "maxed out" on
candidate donations but could still contribute to Project Vote's registration

Both the Obama campaign and Project Vote strenuously deny the charge. Project Vote
says it "does not have any cooperation with the Obama campaign." Team Obama's
Pennsylvania campaign spokesman, Sean Smith, added that anyone was free to download
a list of Obama's donors from the Internet.

Ms. MonCrief gave me spreadsheets of donors from several Democratic campaigns that
were clearly not downloaded from the Internet. In any case, it's illegal for a
nonprofit group to use Federal Election Commission lists to help its own activities.
If the Obama campaign did give its lists to Project Vote, that would be very strong
evidence of illegal coordination between the two entities.

Whether or not the Obama campaign shared its lists, it certainly hasn't shown any
interest in going beyond the letter of the law when it comes to disclosing its
donors to the general public. Despite pleas from campaign-finance reform groups such
as Common Cause and Democracy 21, Team Obama has refused to follow Senator McCain's
lead and release names of donors who have given less than $200, even though such
donors supplied half of the $605 million the Obama campaign raised through September

Perhaps one reason is that, as the Washington Post reported this week, the Obama
campaign has turned off its Address Verification System, or AVS, at its Web site.
That program should have stopped most contributions coming in from citizens of
foreign countries -- a violation of federal law. The Federal Election Commission,
which does receive a complete list of donors, has a list of several thousand small
Obama donors it suspects may have contributed illegally from foreign countries.
Somewhere Richard Nixon, who in inflation-adjusted terms previously set the record
for the most expensive and controversial presidential fund-raising apparatus ever in
1972, must be smiling at the audacity of Mr. Obama's fundraising.

-- John Fund
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« Reply #220 on: November 05, 2008, 11:48:59 AM »

Obama's Miracle: He Makes Pollsters Look Good for a Change

Pollsters ended up not having a bad Election Night in most races. Scott Rasmussen of Rasmussen Reports notes that his final daily tracking survey had Barack Obama leading John McCain by 52% to 46%, which is exactly where the actual results stand this morning.

Mr. Rasmussen says the race was "basically decided in those two weeks in September when the financial markets melted down." The crisis enabled Mr. Obama to break out of his tie with Mr. McCain and open up a five-point lead. "He then hit between 50% of the vote and 52% of the vote for the entire 40-day period before the Election," Mr. Rasmussen tells me. "As for McCain, his number stayed between 44% and 47% on each and every one of the campaign's last 40 days."

The financial meltdown apparently eroded voter confidence in Republicans in general and prompted many to support Mr. Obama on "faith" that he represented the needed change. "Obama's successful finish came out of the fact he was able to hold his lead by appearing smooth, calm and disciplined," says Mr. Rasmussen. In other words, Mr. Obama was able to establish a comfort level with enough Americans to guarantee him an historic win.

-- John Fund

The Tournament of Blame

What were the biggest mistakes of the McCain campaign? Most everyone will cite the candidate's sudden decision during September's financial crisis to suspend his campaign and rush to Washington, D.C., where he proved an ineffective stage manager for Congressional Republicans leery of the first bailout package.

A survey of Republican strategists and officials yielded the following runner-up contenders for worst campaign failure:

1) Sarah Palin's handling by the McCain staff was abysmal, even if all the stories about her alleged flightiness were true. She was carefully held back from media interviews, then made her debut in a shaky interview with ABC's Charlie Gibson. Then it was decided to have her sit down next with CBS's Katie Couric, whose network was given freedom to edit and promote the interview in such a way as to cause her maximum embarrassment.

2) The McCain campaign never had an effective get-out-the-vote effort. When Republican National Committee officials met with McCain staffmembers in May, they were shocked that McCain aides had little interest in the RNC's vaunted voter contact list. McCain representatives assured RNC officials that the election wouldn't be won with Republicans, but with independents and moderates.

In the end, the McCain campaign stripped away funding for its get-out-the-vote efforts in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania and replaced them with high-cost TV ads. The results were not good. Mr. Obama romped to a solid 55% victory in the Keystone State.

3) John McCain himself took off the table the option of airing TV ads critical of Mr. Obama's association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Former Democratic consultants Dick Morris and Bob Beckel both agree that Mr. McCain unwisely and artificially circumscribed his campaign. "The Wright issue could have been framed as a judgment issue rather than as a racial issue," Mr. Beckel told me. "But they boxed themselves in only to discover that by comparison with 2004, there were few if any outside groups running independent ad campaigns critical of Mr. Obama's history and record."

It's not uncommon for losing campaigns quickly to descend into finger-pointing and recriminations once the election results are in. But some on the McCain campaign staff seem more eager than most to settle scores. I received at least three phone calls last night from McCain staffers who seemed to want to use me as a conduit for their complaints about the campaign.

Campaigns come and go, but political reputations in Washington have to be protected at all costs.

-- John Fund


Is it possible only two Senate Republican incumbents lost seats yesterday, keeping Democrats well short of a filibuster-proof 60? Three others are still in danger as votes are counted or recounted. It may have been a crummy year to be a Republican but not as crummy as many had feared.

Not much else besides an "R" bound together the GOP senators among yesterday's losers and near losers. Definitely out of office are North Carolina's Elizabeth Dole (former Reagan cabinet secretary) and New Hampshire's John Sununu (young reformer). Clinging to narrow leads are Alaska's Ted Stevens (pork king), Minnesota's Norm Coleman (middle-of-the-roader) and Oregon's Gordon Smith (ditto).

The losers had the misfortune of hailing from states where the anti-GOP mood was at its highest. New Hampshire sported some of the lowest Bush approval ratings in the country. North Carolina headed the list of red states that appeared ready to go blue. Yet the biggest news of the night may be the two GOPers who are hanging on in Oregon and Minnesota, states John McCain lost by double digits. The ticket-splitting that nonetheless apparently kept GOP Senators Smith and Coleman in the game is a glimmer of hope in a year when so many voters were willing to repudiate Republicans indiscriminately. In New Hampshire, Mr. Sununu was among the few warning against Fannie and Freddie years ago, trying to head off the financial crisis that ultimately came. He's now history.

Most of the Democratic challengers in these races spent far more time blaming their opponents for today's problems than promoting their own policies -- making it hard to extract a theme from their successes and near successes. Former New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen largely won her race by tying Mr. Sununu to President Bush. North Carolina's Kay Hagen spent most of her race complaining that Mrs. Dole hadn't spent more time in the state. Anchorage mayor Mark Begich was running against a senator who just last week was convicted of seven felony charges. In Minnesota, Al Franken's entire shtick is attack dog, not policy wonk.

Lots of Democrats yesterday enjoyed a slick ride on Mr. Obama's coattails. His get-out-the-vote operations were nothing short of extraordinary. A flood of new registrations and high turnout resulted in a boost all the way down the ticket. Democrats, for instance, signed up 137,000 new voters (compared with 50,000 for the GOP) in North Carolina this cycle. Turnout was expected to hit 75% in the state.

All the more impressive, then, is that GOP Senators in Oregon and Minnesota may live to fight another day because even Obama voters apparently decided Mr. Obama should have a loyal opposition looking over his shoulder.

-- Kim Strassel

Return of the Newt

Sixteen years ago, Republicans were in a position as dire as today's when Congressman Newt Gingrich assumed the mantle of leader of the opposition. Two years later Republicans won one of their biggest landslide victories in half a century. No wonder we're hearing that Republican leaders are trying to recruit Newt back as a new head of the Republican National Committee.

Other names under consideration include former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Dick Armey of Texas, the former House Majority Leader.

But Mr. Gingrich, the Speaker of the House from 1995 to 1998, is the one who can energize the party, some RNC committee members are saying. One is Rep. Jack Kingston, who says: "If Newt assumed that role of RNC chair, he would be at home with the position. He has served before during dark and dreary times" for the party.

"Newt has baggage to be sure," adds another longtime committee member, "but he is a strategic political thinker par excellence." Mr. Gingrich was the mastermind behind the Contract with America that helped win the first Republican House majority in 40 years. Shawn Steel, an RNC member from California, says: "Newt is one of the few people who knows how to be an effective party builder, and to unify the party around conservative ideas. He wakes every morning thinking about how he can put the hurt to the other team."

We're told Mr. Gingrich would be interested in the job, though he's pulling down a big income with his various enterprises and his association with various think tanks. Newt is also said still to be a master fundraiser with conservatives, a big asset given the party's depleted coffers. Most importantly, "one of the problems McCain and George Bush both have is that they are not good speakers," says Mr. Kingston. "Obviously, Mr. Obama is. And I think Newt could go head to head with him."

-- Stephen Moore

Words, More Words and History

Barack Obama's victory speech last night undoubtedly went through many drafts and was labored over long and hard -- and it sounded like it. For the first time, his eloquence seemed to become a barrier erected between himself and the world. With his first State of the Union address just weeks away, let's hope he learns to say simply and clearly that he wants a prosperous economy, disciplined government and a sustainable system for financing the country's health care consumption and retirement lifestyles.

John McCain's concession speech certainly was heavily worked-over too -- and yet didn't sound written at all. It sounded like the Mr. McCain we've all come to know directly revealing what we've all come to know about him. Mr. Obama's speechwriters should take note.

As for the third and invisible player in last night's drama, President Bush now heads for the history books, whose opinion he claims not to worry about. Whatever it might be, the "verdict of history" is hardly infallible and doesn't require or deserve universal assent. That said, if Harry Truman and Woodrow Wilson can recruit legions of admirers among subsequent historians, Mr. Bush will too -- and then some. After all, he doesn't bequeath his successor a futile stalemate in Iraq. He didn't win the war only to lose the peace. His military performance looks like genius compared to the Korean near-disasters of Pusan and Yalu. What's more, if the next president or two squander his success in Iraq, he's virtually guaranteed a place in the pantheon -- because historians are usually friendly to the visionary risktaker whose legacy is undermined by mere politicians.

-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

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« Reply #221 on: November 06, 2008, 12:04:08 PM »

Temporary Ted

People are scratching their heads that Alaska Senator Ted Stevens appears to have won re-election despite being convicted on seven felony counts of concealing improper gifts received from an oil services company executive. He clings to a 4,000-vote lead over Democrat Mark Begich, Anchorage's mayor, with several thousand absentee ballots not yet counted.

That Alaska is a Republican state and turnout was high due to the presence of Governor Sarah Palin on the GOP ticket isn't enough to explain how the 84-year-old Stevens appears to have become a political Lazarus. For one thing, turnout wasn't up very much, if at all. Certainly loyalty to Mr. Stevens, whose control over the levers of the federal budget has allowed him to play the state's Santa Claus for four decades, was a factor.

But the real reason for his survival appears to be tactical voting on the part of the state's voters. GOP sources tell me word was spread that the only way to keep the seat in the Republican column and prevent a possible 60-seat filibuster-proof Democratic majority was for voters to hold their noses and re-elect Mr. Stevens. Mr. Stevens himself implied as much in the race's only debate, held after his conviction.

The drama is now likely to play out as follows: Should Mr. Stevens be certified the winner, he will likely be told he won't be seated when the new Senate convenes in January. Governor Palin then would fill the vacancy for a period not to exceed 90 days, when a special election would have to be held. Mrs. Palin is likely to appoint her lieutenant governor, Sean Parnell, to the seat. Mr. Parnell, in turn, would likely face Mr. Begich early next year. Watch for a great deal of money to be poured into the race by Democrats, who hope that the absence of the legendary Mr. Stevens from the ballot will finally give them a chance to win.

-- John Fund

Obama v. Pelosi

Barack Obama obviously has thought carefully about mistakes made by previous Democratic presidential winners who wrongly believed a Congress controlled by their own party would help make them a success.

Pollster Doug Schoen, who helped Bill Clinton win re-election in 1996 over overwhelming odds after the 1994 Democratic debacle, recently warned in a Journal op-ed: "If the Democrats govern as if there is no Republican Party, they are likely headed to the kind of reaction that Bill Clinton faced when he made the same misjudgment after the 1992 election victory." Mr. Schoen cites specifically a meeting in Little Rock after the election with Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and House Speaker Tom Foley, when Mr. Clinton agreed to defer to Congress on key elements of his legislative agenda. The subsequent lurch to the left did incalculable damage to his presidency.

That may be one reason why Mr. Obama has chosen Rahm Emanuel, a respected member of the Congressional leadership, to become his new White House Chief of Staff. Mr. Emanuel has a reputation as a tough partisan, but he has also exhibited impatience with left-wing members of his party who have overly ambitious ideological agendas. A likely first assignment for Mr. Emanuel will be reminding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that, after only two years of Democratic control, Congress already has a lower approval rating than even President Bush's.

To the extent Mr. Obama becomes a successful president, it will be because he remains his own man and trusts the brilliant political instincts that have gotten him this far, this fast.

-- John Fund

Throw the Bums In

For an idea of just how ugly the anti-GOP tide was in this election, and how powerful was Barack Obama's influence on the ticket, consider the Democrats who survived. Not even earmark scandals or constituent insults were enough to dislodge Pennsylvania's Paul Kanjorski and Jack Murtha.

Mr. Kanjorski was considered the Democratic Party's most vulnerable member this year, and for reasons of his own making. The twelve-termer from Northeast Pennsylvania's 11th District landed in the soup after directing millions in defense funding to a research company owned by his relatives that ultimately went bankrupt. Mr. Kanjorski was widely expected to lose to his well-known Republican challenger, Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta. Instead, a flood of newly registered voters came out to support Mr. Obama and brought Mr. Kanjorski along for the ride.

That was also the case in Western Pennsylvania, where 17-term Rep. Murtha had managed to offend most of his district by claiming his constituents were "rednecks" who might be too "racist" to vote for Mr. Obama. That got voters thinking about Mr. Murtha's long and checkered past, and wondering if they wouldn't like something new in the person of retired Army lieutenant colonel William Russell. Closing polls showed the race surprisingly tight, yet Mr. Murtha, after an emergency visit by Bill Clinton to the district, pulled 58% of the vote. "You keep sending me back regardless of what I say," Mr. Murtha chortled afterward.

True, if unfortunate.

-- Kim Strassel

Quote of the Day

"[John] McCain deserves credit for a respectable showing and dodging the full-on disaster his party could have faced. How did he achieve that? One word: 'Maverick.' While Obama made a strong case tying McCain to President Bush, McCain was able to cut loose some of that dead weight by distancing himself from Bush over the campaign's final weeks. McCain won a striking 31 percent of voters who said they disapprove of Bush, including 16 percent of voters who said they 'strongly disapprove' of Bush. In 2000, by way of comparison, Al Gore carried just 9 percent of voters who disapproved of Bill Clinton" -- National Journal's John Mercurio.

Leading With Ideas

With the election results pouring in early Tuesday night, Florida Rep. Adam Putnam announced he was resigning from his post as the No. 3 Republican in the House, saying: "It is time to step off the leadership ladder and return my focus to crafting public policy solutions for America's generational challenges -- the very reason I ran for Congress in the first place."

Mr. Putnam is one of his party's most promising young leaders -- smart, principled and gifted politically. He also is living evidence that at least some Republicans understand why their party has so quickly become irrelevant.

Potentially another is GOP House Minority Leader John Boehner. He didn't step down to take responsibility for Tuesday's outcome, but he did send a letter to his members spelling out the party's need to win back credibility "issue by issue" by showing voters that Republicans have better solutions to the problems facing the country.

History will show the GOP's slide from power began earlier but became precipitous with Hurricane Katrina. Remember, in the weeks before the storm hit, Republicans were talking about votes on tax cuts and Social Security reform. But between President George W. Bush's slow response to the devastation and Congress's giddy rush to spend billions indiscriminately to "rebuild" from the storm, the small-government, low-taxes agenda that had animated the GOP since Ronald Reagan was swept away.

Majority Leader Tom DeLay went so far as to pooh-pooh concerns by saying the budget had already been stripped of wasteful spending. Mr. DeLay unceremoniously refused to support efforts by Rep. Mike Pence and other conservatives to offset any Katrina spending with corresponding cuts. The Bridge to Nowhere only became the most visible sign of the utter collapse of GOP credibility on bread-and-butter issues.

After Tuesday, there will no longer be a Republican in the House from New England. Republicans already have taken a pounding in recent years in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan and Iowa -- regions hit hard by the loss of manufacturing jobs but also suffering under a burden of taxes and regulation that have driven businesses and households to friendlier climes. These are states where the GOP agenda, if enacted, might actually do some visible good. Instead Republicans themselves are an endangered species.

The path back to power is to do what Rep. Putnam is suggesting. The GOP has to show itself to be relevant again in the upper Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and New England. Writing off much of this territory has left the party with a shrinking base. If the GOP's hold on the South is now in jeopardy -- as the results from Virginia suggest -- that's all the more reason to start back at the grass-roots level. How long Republicans will remain in the political wilderness depends on what they start doing today.

-- Brendan Miniter

« Reply #222 on: November 06, 2008, 12:57:01 PM »

Great dialogue on future of the GOP and conservative movement from Slate. I broke it into two parts.

From: Jim Manzi
To: Tucker Carlson, Ross Douthat, Douglas Kmiec, Kathleen Parker, Christine Todd Whitman
Subject: A Return to Reaganism Won't Be Enough
Posted Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008, at 9:04 AM ET

Tucker, Ross, Douglas, Kathleen, and Christine,

What should the GOP, and the conservative movement more generally, be concentrating on for the next few years? Developing, demonstrating, and communicating solutions to the current problems of the middle class.

Most conservatives who propose a return to "Reagan conservatism" don't understand either the motivations or structure of the Reagan economic revolution. The 1970s were a period of economic crisis for America as it emerged from global supremacy to a new world of real economic competition. The Reagan economic strategy for meeting this challenge was sound money plus deregulation, broadly defined. It succeeded, but it exacerbated a number of pre-existing trends that began or accelerated in the '70s that tended to increase inequality.

International competition is now vastly more severe than it was 30 years ago. The economic rise of the Asian heartland is the fundamental geostrategic fact of the current era. In aggregate, America is rich and economically successful but increasingly unequal, with a stagnating middle class. If we give up the market-based reforms that allow us to prosper, we will lose by eventually allowing international competitors to defeat us. But if we let inequality grow unchecked, we will lose by eventually hollowing out the middle class and threatening social cohesion. This rock-and-a-hard-place problem, not some happy talk about the end of history, is what "globalization" means for the United States.

Seen in this light, the challenge in front of conservatives is clear: How do we continue to increase the market orientation of the American economy while helping more Americans to participate in it more equally?

Here are two ideas among many.

First, improve K-12 schools. U.S. public schools are in desperate need of improvement and have been for decades. We do not prepare the average American child to succeed versus international competition. Schools can do only so much to fix this—in a nation where 37 percent of births are out-of-wedlock, many children will be left behind—but it would be a great start if the average school didn't go out of its way to make kids lazy and stupid.

No amount of money or number of "programs" will create anything more than marginal improvements, because public schools are organized to serve teachers and administrators rather than students and families. We need, at least initially, competition for students among public schools in which funding moves with students and in which schools are far freer to change how they operate. As we have seen in the private economy, only markets will force the unpleasant restructuring necessary to unleash potential. Conservatives have long had this goal but are unprepared to win the fight. Achieving it would be at least a decade-long project.

The role of the federal government could be limited but crucial. Suppose it established a comprehensive national exam by grade level to be administered by all schools and universities that receive any federal money and required each school to publish all results, along with other detailed data about school budgets, performance, and so forth each year. Secondary, profit-driven information providers, analogous to credit-rating agencies and equity analysts, would arise to inform decision-making. The federal role would be very much like that of the Securities and Exchange Commission for equity markets: to ensure that each school published accurate, timely, and detailed data. This would not only improve schools in the aggregate but also serve to provide a more realistic path of economic advancement to anybody with a reasonably responsible family and help to acculturate more Americans to a market economy. This would also become a model for other reform of entitlement programs, from retirement accounts to medial care.

Second, reconsider immigration policy. What if, once we had control of our southern border, we came to view the goal of immigration policy as recruiting instead of law enforcement? Once we established a target number of immigrants per year, we could set up recruiting offices looking for the best possible talent everywhere from Beijing to Helsinki. It would be great for America as a whole to have, say, 500,000 very smart, motivated people move here each year with the intention of becoming citizens. It would also do wonders for equality if they were not almost all desperately poor, unskilled, and competing with already low-wage workers.

Other examples of policies that can raise competitiveness and lower inequality, ranging from reduced small-business regulation to allowing individuals tax deductibility for private health care purchases to automatic (with an opt-out) enrollment for 401(k) plans, become obvious once you start to look for them. What they tend to have in common is a focus on building human capital and effective market institutions. That is, they build the key resources of the new economy.

The conservative movement has become excessively dogmatic and detached from realities on the ground. It needs to become more empirical and practical—which strike me as traditionally conservative attitudes.

From: Douglas W. Kmiec
To: Tucker Carlson, Ross Douthat, Jim Manzi, Kathleen Parker, and Christine Todd Whitman
Subject: The Not-So-Grand, Really-Old-Idea Party
Posted Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008, at 10:22 AM ET

Tucker, Ross, Jim, Kathleen, and Christine,

Ronald Reagan attracted me to his side in 1980 with five words: "family, work, neighborhood, peace, and freedom." It was Barack Obama who spoke in those timeless terms in this election, and he received his just reward Tuesday evening. What's more, he spoke about them by using well-considered, new ideas—for example, universal health insurance, as well as a national commitment (and not just an anemic executive order) for faith-based and often neighborhood social-service delivery.

How might Republicans catch up? With respect to family, it has been a good many years since the Supreme Court approved vouchers, yet Republicans have yet to pursue the opportunity. A nationwide voucher effort for math and science, or a voucher for full tuition, for low-achieving children would have plenty of social-science research and support behind it. It would also put families back in charge of the upbringing of their children.

The right to life remains a highly important and sensitive topic. Republicans have been trying to sell themselves for so long on the basis of judicial appointments and the supposed "fifth vote" to overturn Roe, sometimes you wonder if they realize how selecting judges on that basis disserves the rule of law. It also keeps Republicans perennially looking like the gang that can't shoot straight—given the number of "fifth votes" they've already appointed to the court, from Sandra Day O'Connor to Anthony Kennedy to David Souter.

The Democrats had a brilliant strategy on abortion this year: Don't play the futile court speculation game. Instead, Obama's team promoted life in ways that don't depend upon a Supreme Court vacancy and cooperating nominee. Specifically, Obama had the Dems commit to promote life with enhanced social and economic assistance. This idea had traction—the Catholic vote literally switched from Republican to Democrat, going (in preliminary numbers) 55-45 for Obama nationwide, which is amazing given the amount of outright lies and falsehoods the GOP was purveying about the president-elect on this issue. (Not to mention the co-conspiring clergy the Republicans captured, who were literally preaching that voters would go to hell for voting for Barack.) The Republicans became the party of fear and damnation rather than solution or respect for life. As a consequence, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Virginia are in the Democratic, not the Republican, column.

It's admittedly hard to untie the abortion knot, but here's a thought: Republicans could have moved a constitutional amendment that would presume life to begin at conception, while further providing that no government, federal or state, is competent to legislate on the question absent a supermajority. The effect? Taking the Supreme Court's "activist" thumb off the scale against life while at the same time avoiding the criminalization of a woman's freedom. This is not the ideal Catholic position, but it's closer, and the Catholic Church has less standing to complain about a grant of freedom that could then be fairly influenced by the moral instruction associated with a woman's religious choice.

Of course, respecting the dignity of work requires Republicans to think past the pretense of the unregulated market, which as an ideal has never truly existed. One might expect that Republicans, as the proponents of the benefits of vibrant competition, would not promote antitrust principles that reduce competition by making mergers and consolidation too available. Incentives promoting both employment security and better work/family balance are also worth exploring.

As for peace, it is well past time that the neoconservatives be given a good swift boot out of the Pentagon, if not the town. Then Republicans could give up trying to sell us the stale bill of goods that Iraq is the central front of anything or that the surge is working. Trade, too, remains an opportunity for expanded freedom. Our principles of international trade should match the stronger EU market integration that minimizes impediments to commerce, rather than permit even the most heavy-handed regulation so long as it is facially nondiscriminatory between in-state and out-of-state commerce.

Finally, beyond these somewhat wonkish ideas for policy innovation, Republicans ought to remember occasionally that they are—or at least were—the party of Lincoln, and ought to promote civil and human rights. That is better than dragging one's feet on reasonable ways to break up the systematic racism or gender stereotypes that still inhabit much of our culture.

The GOP also needs to recruit some new blood. Ron Paul was young at heart and amusingly nonconformist, and Sarah Palin was well-dressed, if somewhat goofy in demeanor. Mitt Romney looked, thought, and acted like a president, which is probably why a party that indulges far too much gratuitous intramural sniping over whether Hayek or von Mises is the better thinker eliminated him with embarrassing sniping about his faith.

Given the historic opportunities embodied by the talented and inspiring Barack Obama, it is not clear to me that any GOP candidate could have prevailed. But one thing is obvious even to the man on the street: A campaign without a fresh face or new ideas was more of the same—and if nothing succeeds like success, nothing new succeeds at even less.

Welcome to the wilderness. It is time to think, rather than grouse or govern.

From: Ross Douthat
To: Tucker Carlson, Douglas W. Kmiec, Jim Manzi, Kathleen Parker, and Christine Todd Whitman
Subject: No One To Blame but Ourselves
Posted Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008, at 11:30 AM ET

Tucker, Doug, Jim, Kathleen, and Christine,

Two years ago, while the Republicans were busy losing the House and the Senate, a young conservative writer named Michael Brendan Dougherty inclined his ear to the sound of right-wing recriminations and observed that "at the end of the day, the arguments all seem to boil down to something similar: If it were more like me, the Republican Party would be better off. It's failing because it's like you."

In the wake of Barack Obama's victory, this will be the pattern of conservative commentary for months and perhaps years to come. Foreign-policy realists will insist neoconservatism doomed the Bush administration to failure. Anti-immigration activists will claim that the Republican Party would have beaten Obama if only it had nominated somebody who actually opposed illegal immigration, instead of just pretending. Small-government conservatives will claim that if the Bush administration had only held the line on domestic spending, everything would have turned out differently. The dwindling band of Rockefeller Republicans will blame the whole thing on social conservatives for being too strident about abortion and gay marriage and turning off moderates; social conservatives, for their part, will argue that John McCain didn't talk enough about abortion and gay marriage. And so on.

I have my own dog in a number of these fights, but it's important to point out that nearly every faction will be able to score some points and lay some blame: A pair of defeats as resounding as '06 and '08 have a thousand fathers, no matter how much every right-winger would like to assign paternity to someone else. Which means that the best thing, by far, for the American right would be for every sect within the conservative temple to spend some time in self-examination before it turns to flinging blame.

Social conservatives, a group in which I count myself, might profitably meditate on how to disentangle our primary political goal—the protection of the unborn—from secondary issues like, say, abstinence-only education and the debate over evolution and intelligent design, which dovetail too easily with caricatures of religious fundamentalism (as Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin both discovered in the media coverage of their campaigns). Meanwhile, those Republicans who wish that the GOP spend more time talking about, say, capital-gains tax rates and less time talking about abortion should recognize that in this election, the McCain ticket did exactly that, sidestepping the social issues and instead emphasizing a business-friendly tax agenda and (late in the game) Joe the Plumber's case against progressive taxation. This strategy did not exactly reap impressive returns.

Or, again, anti-immigration hawks should ponder the fact that in the long run, the GOP cannot win without Hispanic votes, and recognize that the party's increasingly poor showing in the Southwest has a lot to do with the bile that some conservatives direct at illegal immigrants. But advocates of comprehensive immigration reform should recognize that they lack credibility with many voters who are motivated by concerns for law and order rather than by bigotry; that by nominating John McCain, the most pro-immigration figure among the primary contenders, the GOP gained exactly nothing with Hispanic voters; and that the party will need other ways to win Latinos than simply pandering to their ethnic loyalties.

Likewise, in foreign policy, neoconservatives would do well to draw chastening lessons—about the utility of pre-emptive war, America's capacity for nation-building, and so on—from the debacles of the last four years. But neoconservatism did not give us Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, and it's not as though there was a groundswell of opposition to the invasion of Iraq among non-neocon right-wingers. And the realist community, in particular, might profitably ponder how so many of its members found themselves supporting the invasion of Iraq and then opposing the only strategy—the surge—that's offered any hope of a decent outcome in that country.

There's a great deal of talk about a conservative crackup at the moment, as there always is after a big defeat. And some cracking-up will no doubt take place: Some factions and demographics will leave the right-wing tent, never to return, and others will (I hope!) join up in their place. But I suspect that the conservative coalition won't change all that much, once the dust has settled: There will still be free-marketeers and religious conservatives, idealists and realists, libertarians and law-and-order types. And as long as we're all going to be living together, each faction would do well to give the beams in their own eyes at least as much attention as they give the motes in the eyes of their neighbors.

« Reply #223 on: November 06, 2008, 12:57:23 PM »

Part Two...

From: Christine Todd Whitman
To: Tucker Carlson, Ross Douthat, Douglas W. Kmiec, Jim Manzi, and Kathleen Parker
Subject: It Was Obama's Victory, Not Liberalism's
Posted Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008, at 2:19 PM ET

Tucker, Ross, Doug, Jim, and Kathleen,

As conservatives, we have some questions to ask ourselves today. Has the country really embraced the idea of "redistributing the wealth"? Are Americans convinced that Washington is going to have the answers to all our needs? I don't think so. One pollster I heard zeroed in on people's obsession with Barack Obama the person, not necessarily Obama the ideology, and I have to agree. When the dust settles, I don't think we'll find a liberally recalibrated nation on our hands. Obama's victory showed that the majority of the American people aren't narrow-minded and don't object to bipartisan policy solutions.

I see this election as being more about hope than just change. It was about the hope that we can and should expect more out of our government—an area where Republicans have disappointed, but economic conservatism has not. This election was a clear repudiation of the last eight years. I can't tell you how many longtime Republicans have been in touch with me to say that they really wanted to vote for John McCain but couldn't accept the rightward tilt of the campaign, which they had seen too much of during the Bush administration. Thomas Friedman said it well in today's New York Times:

    Bush & Co. did not believe that government could be an instrument of the common good. They neutered their cabinet secretaries and appointed hacks to big jobs. For them, pursuit of the common good was all about pursuit of individual self-interest. Voters rebelled against that. But there was also a rebellion against a traditional Democratic version of the common good—that it is simply the sum of all interest groups clamoring for their share.

What this means for Republicans and what this means for conservatives are two different things. For economic conservatives, we have to examine where we fit in American politics today—sadly, the party that used to represent us has strayed from the fundamentals. I hope that our home will lie with the GOP in the future, but that is not a given in light of the last eight years.

For the GOP, I hope that we are investing time in figuring out how to hold a coalition of economic conservatives, social moderates and conservatives, and foreign-policy conservatives under one umbrella. As Ross implied, we must resist the temptation to form a circular firing squad that casts blame on one or the other faction within the party. I, for one, am content to have the GOP wander in the Obama wilderness for four years if it forces my party to have a serious self-examination.

From: Tucker Carlson
To: Ross Douthat, Douglas W. Kmiec, Jim Manzi, Kathleen Parker, Christine Todd Whitman
Subject: Let's Find Someone Who Speaks English
Posted Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008, at 12:08 PM ET

Ross, Douglas, Kathleen, Jim, and Christine,

These entries are so smart that I don't have much to add, apart from the obvious: The various Republican constituencies need some reason to hang together. It's not obvious what socially conservative, big-government types like Mike Huckabee have in common with economically conservative libertines like Rudy Giuliani. So why are they in the same party? It used to be because they both hated communism. Then it was Bill Clinton. Most recently, it was a shared fear of Islamic extremism. What now? Time to think of something—quick. There's no natural reason these two groups should be connected. In fact, they sort of despise each other, as you'll notice immediately if you ever eat with them.

Once the party figures out what it's for—or more precisely, against—it ought to stick to its story. People respect principle, even if they disagree with it. That was Ron Paul's secret. (The gold standard? Who's for that? Didn't matter. Paul seemed like he sincerely was.) Let's say you spent decades extolling the genius of the free market, then, the moment an economic crisis struck, your first instinct was to swoop in and nationalize entire industries.

People might begin to suspect you weren't really sincere in the first place. They might also wonder if you ever really understood your own policies. You could lose an entire election over something like that.

Finally, after the party has settled on what it believes, it ought to go shopping for a leader. I recommend someone who speaks fluent English. This matters, it turns out, and not just for aesthetic reasons. In a democracy, eloquence is a basic condition of leadership. A president has a moral as well as a political obligation to explain his program. His constitutional powers are limited to just a few (war, the veto). His real authority comes from persuasion.

It helps if you can talk.

From: Ross Douthat
To: Tucker Carlson, Douglas M. Kmiec, Jim Manzi, Kathleen Parker, and Christine Todd Whitman
Subject: Kmiec's Abortion Folly
Posted Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008, at 1:40 PM ET

Tucker, Douglas, Jim, Kathleen, and Christine,

I tend to think that the GOP's position on abortion is pretty low on the list of topics that conservatives should be fretting about at the moment: My impression is that the life issue (or the choice issue, if you prefer) had very little impact on either party's fortunes in this cycle. But since Douglas Kmiec suggests that conservatives could profit from Barack Obama's example on the issue, let me offer a few words in response.

The trouble with seeking common ground on abortion is that the legal regime enacted by Roe and reaffirmed in Casey permits only the most minimal regulation of the practice, which means that any plausible "compromise" that leaves Roe in place will offer almost nothing to pro-lifers. Even the modest restrictions that prevail in many European countries (and that, not coincidentally, coincide with lower abortion rates) are out of the question under the current legal dispensation. This, in turn, explains why the national debate inevitably revolves around the composition of the Supreme Court and the either/or question of whether a president will appoint justices likely to chip away the Roe-Casey regime or justices likely to uphold it.

This state of affairs creates enormous frustration for pro-choice Republicans, a group in which I know some of the participants in this discussion count themselves, since it makes it next to impossible for pro-life primary voters to consider supporting a pro-choice candidate for the presidency or vice presidency. I think this frustration is somewhat misplaced, since to my mind any pro-choice American who sincerely seeks a national consensus on the subject of abortion should support overturning Roe and returning the issue to the democratic process—a position that I would have liked to see the pro-choice Rudy Giuliani experiment with, for instance, in his quest to become the GOP nominee. But I certainly understand why pro-choicers don't see things quite that way.

What I don't understand at all is Kmiec's position, which seems to be that the contemporary Democratic Party, and particularly the candidacy of Barack Obama, offered nearly as much to pro-lifers as the Republican Party does. I am sure that Kmiec is weary of being called a fool by opponents of abortion for his tireless pro-Obama advocacy during this election cycle, but if so, then the thing for him to do is to cease acting like the sort of person for whom the term "useful idiot" was coined, rather than persisting in his folly.

Those seeking a primer on the case against Kmiec's putatively pro-life position on Obama and abortion can begin here or here or here. Suffice to say that what he calls "outright lies and falsehoods" about Obama's views were, in fact, more or less the truth: The Democratic nominee ran on a record that can only be described as "very, very pro-choice," and his stated positions on abortion would involve rolling back nearly all the modest—but also modestly effective—restrictions that pro-lifers have placed upon the practice and/or appointing judges who would do the same. There may have been reasons for anti-abortion Americans to vote for Barack Obama in spite of his position that abortion should be essentially unregulated and funded by taxpayer dollars. But Kmiec's suggestion that Obama took the Democrats in anything like a pro-life direction on the issue doesn't pass the laugh test. (And nor, I might add, does his bizarre argument that because the goal of placing a fifth anti-Roe justice on the court is somehow unrealistic, the pro-life movement should pursue a far more implausible constitutional amendment instead.)

I suppose I could find a thing or three to agree with in Kmiec's longer list of ideas for how the party he abandoned could win back his vote. But frankly, I don't see the point. I understand that the pro-life position on abortion does not command majority support in the United States and that people of good will can disagree on the subject. And I have no doubt that the Republican Party can profit from greater dialogue between its pro-life and pro-choice constituents—and do a better job, as well, of addressing itself to both pro-lifers and pro-choicers who aren't already inside its tent. But I can't begin to fathom why the GOP should consider taking any advice whatsoever from a "pro-lifer" who has spent the past year serving as an increasingly embarrassing shill for the opposition party's objectively pro-abortion nominee.

Tucker Carlson is an author and commentator for MSNBC and The Daily Beast.
Ross Douthat is the author of Grand New Party and a blogger for the Atlantic.
Douglas Kmiec is a professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University.
Jim Manzi, chairman of an applied artificial-intelligence software company, is a contributing editor of National Review.
Kathleen Parker is an author and syndicated columnist who also blogs for the Washington Post.
Christine Todd Whitman is the former governor of New Jersey and author of It's My Party, Too.

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« Reply #224 on: November 06, 2008, 07:46:14 PM »

I like the one from Jim Manzi (whoever he is).

That is preciesly my position as to where we need to go not just as a party but as a country.

We don't need more Ann Coulter's analysis whose shrill (as usual) discourse from her stonified position on the far right is beyond obnoxious.  I wouldn't bother to post it.  You all know where to go if you want to waste your time as I did reading it.

Her brand of exclusionism is exactly why so many in this country despise Republicans.

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Posts: 42475

« Reply #225 on: November 06, 2008, 10:22:43 PM »

Good post from SBMig.

I too liked Manzi's comments in particular but found all of them assaying to be thoughtful and not just chattering class chatter.
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Posts: 42475

« Reply #226 on: November 10, 2008, 12:11:53 PM »

Where Did All the Voters Go?

Everyone was predicting a record voter turnout this year. It didn't happen. About half of young people, for example, stayed home, though those who did vote went overwhelmingly by 2 to 1 for Barack Obama.

What also happened was that Republicans stayed home, falling to 28.7% of the electorate from the 30% in 2004. Democrats turned out in slightly higher numbers, representing 31.3% of the total vote, up from the 28.7% in 2004.

At least one Democratic strategist says he's surprised overall turnout did not increase over 2004, despite rabid anti-Bush feeling, Barack Obama's rock star candidacy and massive investments in get-out-the-vote operations (GOTV).

"It sort of calls into question some of the vaunted ground game discussion, the whole turnout machine," the unnamed Democrat told "The GOTV effort was redoubled in 2008 compared to 2004, but it did not seem to make that big of a difference." Among states where voter turnout actually declined this year were such battlegrounds as Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In historical terms, political scientist Curtis Gans says this year's turnout was about the same as the 1968 Nixon vs. Humphrey race as a percentage of the voting-age population. Factoring in the big increase in black participation since then, this year's turnout was actually below that of the 1960 and 1964 elections.

-- John Fund

At Least Al Franken Can Play Himself in HBO's 'Recount II'

What to expect in the stalemated Minnesota Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken? Mr. Coleman now leads by a mere 238 votes after local officials corrected a few errors in their counts. Next comes an audit of selected precincts followed by a mandatory hand recount of 2.9 million ballots.

The first deadline comes today, when all 87 counties are scheduled to submit official counts. This should be the last time the vote count shifts before the official recount. Ballot challenges are all but inevitable. Minnesota isn't Florida -- the state uses optically-scanned paper ballots, so there won't be any hanging chads. But state officials expect to discover that election machines miscounted an unusual number of ballots because so many first-time voters are believed to have mismarked their ballots. By one estimate, two votes out of 1,000 may be mismarked, which would mean the machines improperly counted as many as 5,800 votes.

Ultimately, challenged ballots will go before a state canvassing board that consists of two state Supreme Court justices, two district court judges and is chaired by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a Democrat. Starting on Dec. 16, the board will review the challenged ballots to see if "voter intent" can be fairly determined. Barring legal challenges, Mr. Ritchie hopes the process can be wrapped up a week before Christmas.

But court challenges are almost certain. The Coleman campaign already lost a bid to discard 32 absentee ballots from heavily Democratic Hennepin County. The campaign says the ballots weren't properly secured and could have been tampered with. Both camps now are directing volunteers to keep watch on ballot boxes throughout the state. Meanwhile, Mr. Coleman is still trying to recruit an election expert to monitor the recount on his behalf. U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger had agreed to take the job but bowed out after realizing it conflicted with his current assignment of investigating possible police misconduct at the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities last summer.

Mr. Coleman, who was a Democrat until 1996, has experienced his share of unusual campaigns, so at least he's steeled for the roller-coaster ride. Not only was he bested by pro wrestler Jesse Ventura in the 1998 governor's race. In 2002, he was running neck and neck in the polls with popular Democratic Senator Paul Wellstone when Mr. Wellstone died in a plane crash less than two weeks before Election Day. To take Wellstone's place, Democrats quickly nominated former Vice President Walter Mondale, who held the seat from 1964 to 1977. But Mr. Coleman still managed to eke out a 60,000-vote victory.

-- Brendan Miniter

The Palin Factor

In the closing days of the election, it was an article of faith among the pundits that Gov. Sarah Palin had become a drag on the Republican ticket. Whether because of the "Troopergate" investigation or her primetime network interviews, Mrs. Palin's popularity with the public declined considerably. Once hailed as an inspired pick, Sen. John McCain's choice of the unknown Alaskan governor was generally viewed as a missed opportunity.

So now that we have piles of exit polling data to sift through, what can we say about Mrs. Palin's effect on the election?

Asked if she was "a factor" in their vote, 60% said yes, while 33% said no. Yet of those who said Mrs. Palin was a factor, 56% voted for Mr. McCain, while 43% voted for Mr. Obama. Even among independent voters (a group Mr. McCain lost by eight points) she was a net vote-getter for the Republican ticket among those independents who said Mrs. Palin was a factor.

Mrs. Palin, however, didn't come through with one big group of voters -- those who supported Sen. Hillary Clinton in the primaries. In the immediate aftermath of Mrs. Clinton's defeat, polls suggested that a good portion of these voters were ready to support the Republican ticket. It must have seemed too tantalizing a prospect for the McCain campaign to pass up by choosing a man as a running mate. Yet, in the end, Mrs. Palin didn't seal the deal with Hillary voters, who went for Mr. Obama 83% to 16%.

On other important voting blocs, such as white women, gun owners and Evangelicals, the McCain-Palin ticket performed about the same as the Bush-Cheney team in 2004.

The conclusion? Mrs. Palin failed to win the election for Mr. McCain, but that's setting the bar awfully high. Given the headwinds, Mr. McCain perhaps was lucky to do as well as he did -- and his showing might well have been worse without Mrs. Palin on the ticket.

-- Blake Dvorak,

The Mercurial Mr. Jones

Nothing illustrates the Republican party's fortunes in North Carolina since 1994 better than the career of Congressman Walter Jones, a Democrat turned Republican and now apparently turned Democrat again.

In 1992, Mr. Jones ran for Congress as a Democrat to succeed his father, Walter B. Jones Sr., who was retiring after a 25-year career. The younger Mr. Jones lost the primary narrowly. Sensing that political tides were shifting in the state, he ran in a reconfigured district in 1994 as a Republican and won.

But he was never a close fit with his new colleagues, opposing the Iraq war and routinely voting as a less-than-party-line stalwart on other issues. In 2006, Congressional Quarterly called him the third most likely Republican and eighth most likely House Member to defect from his party's caucus, doing so about 36% of the time.

That record of apostasy generated a primary challenge to Mr. Jones this year, but one he weathered with 59% of the vote and the continued support of GOP party leaders. He coasted to victory over a weak Democrat last week in a district that the Cook Political Report says leans about 15 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in presidential elections.

Mr. Jones has long hinted he might be a double-switcher, especially after he was denied an Armed Services subcommittee chairmanship in 2006. He admitted being approached by Democrats at the time but told The Hill newspaper: "I just take each day as it comes; I certainly think about where I will be a year or two, three years from now, but that's God's plan, not mine. . . . I think at the present time, because of the pro-life issue primarily, I am where I need to be. But I am an independent."

Well, it's been two years since that statement and, sure enough, Mr. Jones is poised today to rejoin the Democrats. The news couldn't come at a worse time for the North Carolina GOP, which just lost a U.S. Senate seat, a U.S. House seat and saw the state shift to the Democratic column for president for only the second time since Ronald Reagan's 1980 election.

Party switchers have an indifferent record of winning their next races, which clearly is why Mr. Jones is making his switch early so as to give voters as much time as possible to acclimate themselves to his latest change in political fashion.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"[Barack] Obama, who is not without an ego, regarded himself as just as gifted as his top strategists in the art and practice of politics. Patrick Gaspard, the campaign's political director, said that when, in early 2007, he interviewed for a job with Obama and [campaign adviser David] Plouffe, Obama said that he liked being surrounded by people who expressed strong opinions, but he also said, 'I think that I'm a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm gonna think I'm a better political director than my political director.' After Obama's first debate with McCain, on September 26th, Gaspard sent him an e-mail. 'You are more clutch than Michael Jordan,' he wrote. Obama replied, 'Just give me the ball'" -- New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza on "How Obama Won."

Extreme Makeover

The liberal news media apparently have some advice for John McCain on how to crawl back into their approval zone.

You'll recall that Mr. McCain was the toast of liberal pundits and journalists during the 2000 campaign and for many subsequent years. As he courted conservatives to win the GOP nomination this year, however, all that changed. The media wondered how Mr. McCain had wound up embracing his "dark side." But now that the election is over, he can redeem himself.

Christopher Beam, a political reporter for, offers a guide on how Senator McCain can "rehabilitate" his image following the alleged nastiness of the just-concluded campaign.

"The media, a group John McCain once called his 'base,' have fallen off the boat," Mr. Beam writes. "Now is the time to rebuild." He suggests Mr. McCain begin by acknowledging "mistakes" in his campaign (or what the media believe are mistakes) such as his choice of Sarah Palin as running mate. He should also write a tell-all memoir, painting his own campaign in unvarnished colors. In addition to working overtime now to support President Obama, he should also make it a point to "p--- off Republicans" by adopting political stances that please the media.

Mr. McCain is certainly getting similar strategy tips from many of his aides and confidants. Just how much of that advice he takes will tell us a lot about John McCain's need for media attention and approval.

-- John Fund

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« Reply #227 on: November 12, 2008, 11:51:28 AM »

Can Newt Save the GOP?

Both the Democratic and Republican National Committees are likely to have new leadership next year.

Former Democratic Governor Howard Dean of Vermont is stepping down, having completely recovered from his unfortunate reputation as an erratic and wildly liberal 2004 presidential contender. As chairman of the DNC, he adopted a controversial "50-state strategy" that had the party pouring resources into states it normally didn't contest. His strategy paid off this year as Barack Obama won such states as Indiana and Virginia that had not voted Democratic at the presidential level since Barry Goldwater's landslide loss in 1964.

Unknown yet is whom Mr. Dean's replacement will be, but it's certainly going to be someone President-elect Obama will have confidence in -- campaign manager David Plouffe comes to mind.

On the Republican side, the jockeying to replace current GOP Chairman Mike Duncan has begun. Mr. Duncan has been a competent administrator and fundraiser but the widely perceived need for new blood in the wake of the party's second consecutive drubbing at the polls makes him unlikely to be re-elected.

Several candidates are lining up to replace him. Michigan GOP State Chairman Saul Anuzis is actively campaigning on a platform of reinvigorating the party's grass roots and returning to basic conservative principles. South Carolina Party Chairman Kalton Dawson is touting his fundraising abilities as he rounds up votes among fellow RNC members.

But several insiders believe the next RNC chairman must have some star power and an ability to get on national talk shows at a time when the new Obama administration will dominate media coverage. Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, now chairman of the GOPAC conservative training academy, is allowing friends to make calls on his behalf. Mr. Steele is already a fixture on cable TV news shows and well known in Washington D.C. conservative circles.

But some Republicans are touting someone with an even bigger media profile -- former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. "The Republican National Committee has to ask itself if it wants someone who has successfully led a revolution," Randy Evans, Mr. Gingrich's personal attorney, told the Washington Times this week. "If it does, Newt's the one."

While it sounds implausible, many Republicans think a return of Mr. Gingrich to the national stage would be the jolt of energy the party needs. They point out that many were also skeptical that Howard Dean could sublimate his ego enough to become a successful party leader -- a worry clearly now proven wrong in Mr. Dean's case.

-- John Fund

Belushi and Ackroyd, They're Not

C-SPAN unearthed a remarkable video from its archives this week. Back in 2005, freshly minted U.S. Senator Barack Obama was part of a celebrity roast for his Chicago pal Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who is now about to become his White House chief of staff. The event, a charity benefit for an epilepsy foundation run by the wife of Obama strategist David Axelrod, provides an eerie preview of the new top players in Washington.

During his turn at the microphone, Mr. Obama took a risk and joked about an accident the teenage Emanuel suffered that caused him to lose part of his middle finger. "As a result, this rendered him practically mute," Mr. Obama joked about the famously profane Mr. Emanuel.

Mr. Obama also had fun with the fact that the young Rahm practiced ballet, quipping that his friend was "the very first to develop Machiavelli's 'The Prince' for dance. It was an intriguing piece -- a lot of kicks below the waist."

No dinner honoring a Chicago pol would have been complete without a few pokes at the city's rich tradition of political corruption. Mr. Obama obliged, noting that he was in awe of the fact that Mr. Emanuel had avoided appearing before a criminal grand jury. He chalked it up to the fact that Mr. Emanuel shared the same lawyer as Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak, who was then in hot water over the Valerie Plame affair.

All in good fun, but here's hoping that notwithstanding the jokes about Chicago, not too many of its cultural mores and patronage politics seep into the DNA of the Obama administration.

-- John Fund

Read Their Lips

It wasn't all bad news for conservatives on November 4th. Voters across the country decided the fate of scores of ballot initiatives dealing with taxes and government spending. With our friends at the National Taxpayers Union and Americans for Tax Reform, we've compiled some of the most important results. For the most part, voters aren't in a full-fledged tax revolt but they're a lot less enthusiastic about new taxes than President-elect Obama seems to be.

First, the defeats. Two of the most prominent anti-tax initiatives, one in Massachusetts to abolish the income tax and another in North Dakota to cut income taxes by 15%, failed by two-to-one margins. In a previous election, an initiative to abolish the Massachusetts income tax had come within four percentage points of winning. What changed? Carla Howell, who led the effort to repeal the tax, was quoted in the Boston Globe: "The teachers unions spent 100 times more on advertising than we did. The message to voters: advertising works."

Minnesotans were among the few voters in the country who said "yes" to new taxes. An initiative to raise the sales tax by 3/8ths of a percentage point pay for the arts was approved.

But otherwise, the left's crusade to raise revenues for new spending programs was mostly beaten back and in some cases trounced. Arizonans voted to ban transfer taxes on property sales by 77% to 23%. Maine voters repealed an alcohol and soda pop tax by 64% to 36%. Coloradoans rejected a teensy 0.2 percentage point sales tax hike to benefit the disabled by 63% to 37%. Floridians defeated a measure that would have allowed localities to propose new sales taxes to benefit community colleges by 57% to 43%. The left's latest crusade to impose "fat taxes" on McDonalds and other fast food purchases was clobbered in localities in North Carolina and Virginia, even as these voters helped elect Barack Obama. Finally, one of the biggest successes for anti-tax activists was defeating an amendment to gut the spending limits in Colorado's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, despite huge money spent by the spending constituencies.

Though California was home to one of the nation's seminal tax revolts -- 1978's Proposition 13 -- the latest results in the Golden State were mixed. Voters inexplicably approved a high-speed rail bond of $10 billion, with at least another $30 billion of spending required to complete the project. This is a state that's already hopelessly mired in debt.

On the other hand, renewable energy may be a liberal and environmentalist panacea, but even Californians apparently aren't too eager to pay for it. Voters rejected $5 billion in renewable energy program bonds by 60% to 40% and thrashed a measure requiring all utilities to generate at least one-fifth of their power from renewable energy by 2010 (it lost by 65% to 35%). Colorado voters also crushed Governor Bill Ritter's tax on "big oil."

"We had some big victories last Tuesday," says National Taxpayer Union spokesman Pete Sepp. "We blocked a lot of bad things from happening." That's what Republicans in Congress will have to learn to do over the next four years.

-- Stephen Moore

Quote of the Day I

"Sarah Palin made a vast difference in John McCain's favor. Compared to 2004, McCain lost 11 points among white men according to the Fox News exit poll but only 4 points among white women. Barack Obama's underperformance among white women, evident throughout the fall, may be chalked up, in large part, to the influence of Palin. She provided a rallying point for women who saw their political agenda in terms larger than abortion. She addressed the question of what it is like to be a working mother in today's economy and society, and resonated with tens of millions of white women who have not responded to the more traditional, and liberal, advocates for their gender" -- political analyst Dick Morris in his syndicated column.

Quote of the Day II

"Now it's starting to get creepy. In an odd way, the selection of Rahm Emanuel as Barack Obama's chief of staff fulfills yet another plot line that unfolded during the final season of NBC's 'West Wing,' which must have been written by Nostradamus. As aficionados of the long-running show will know, Emanuel is widely cited as inspiration for the character of Josh Lyman, who becomes the chief of staff to the new president, Matthew Santos. And the real conspiracy theorists know why that's important: The Santos character is modeled after Obama. (The writers spoke repeatedly with David Axelrod while composing their prophetic plot lines.) This isn't the first parallel to emerge from the show. . . . At this rate, John McCain will be named as Obama's secretary of state. After all, that's how the season ends, with Santos picking his former rival in the ultimate gesture of bipartisanship" -- Lucas Grindley, writing at Government Executive magazine's "Lost in Transition" blog.

Voters vs. Tort Sharks

One heartening aspect of last week's election was a surge of voters taking a new -- and inspired -- interest in elections for state attorneys general. The public clearly has become wary of top law officers with ties to the tort bar who campaign to increase litigation and target the business community.

In West Virginia, a little known GOP lawyer Dan Greear came within a few thousand votes of knocking off state AG and institution Darrell McGraw, who now begins his 16th year in the job. Mr. Greear was supposed to be a write-off -- he was outmatched in funding, name recognition, and up against a powerful, populist AG who has long used his position to dole out political patronage (culled from legal settlements) to favored constituencies. Mr. Greear nonetheless managed to surprise the political establishment by nearly pulling off an upset. In the process, he educated a lot of voters about what their state's reputation as a legal hellhole was costing its economy. He also inspired a cowed West Virginia business community to take a stand against Mr. McGraw's pro-litigation agenda.

Mr. Greear may have lost, but his efforts will likely have a lasting impact. Call it the Eliot Spitzer effect: Mr. McGraw is now on notice that a lot more voters have been clued in to the game he's been playing and don't approve.

Meanwhile, sitting GOP attorneys general in Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington State handily fought off challenges from Democratic opponents who had campaigned in favor of bigger, nastier litigation. In Indiana, Greg Zoeller, chief deputy for the current attorney general, won the top slot in part by noting that his office never had been close to trial lawyers. His Democratic opponent, Linda Pence, was a trial attorney. In North Carolina, a pro-business Democrat, Roy Cooper (who as attorney general threw out the Duke rape case) was reelected in his race against a Republican personal injury lawyer.

Sadly, Missouri and Oregon both elected particularly anti-business Democrats to the AG's office -- for which they may eventually pay a price in lost jobs and investment. In the middle of hard economic times, voters elsewhere have figured out that they make their states more competitive by electing an attorney general committed to the rule of law, rather than to shaking down business for the benefit of special interest groups.
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« Reply #228 on: November 13, 2008, 12:37:27 PM »

November 13, 2008

In today's Political Diary

'Election Day' Won't End Till Democrats Have 60
Nancy Rules
Pence for His Thoughts
The Man, Not the Plan (Quote of the Day)
Howard Shows How

Nightmare on Constitution Avenue

With news that Democratic candidate Mark Begich has taken the lead from incumbent GOP Senator Ted Stevens in Alaska's Senate race, Republicans are beginning to visualize a nightmare scenario in which Democrats actually reach the goal of 60 Senate seats that would allow them to stop any GOP filibuster.

The scenario runs like this:

First, Republicans lose the Alaska seat. At least 15,000 provisional ballots and an estimated 20,000 mailed absentee ballots remain to be counted. Ominously for Republicans, Mr. Begich now holds an 814-vote lead after some 50,000 absentee ballots were counted this week. The race could remain undecided for some time. Alaska will continue to accept absentee ballots through Nov. 19 if they were postmarked by Election Day.

Democrats also have an excellent opportunity to pick up a Georgia Senate seat if President-elect Obama decides it's vital for his party to win the December 2 runoff between GOP incumbent Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin. With a snap of Mr. Obama's fingers, money and resources from Team Obama's vaunted organization would pour in. Dispirited Republicans might well stay home, allowing Democrats to capture the seat much as Republicans took a Georgia Senate seat in a similar 1992 runoff. "We're a long way away from having the resources we need to match the Democrats," Senator Chambliss told reporters.

Then there's Minnesota, where GOP Senator Norm Coleman's lead over comedian Al Franken has just dwindled to 206 votes even before a statewide recount begins next week. Republicans fear that Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, an ally of the activist group ACORN, will attempt to put his thumb on the scale during the process.

If bad breaks occur in all of these races, Democrats will win the important strategic and psychological prize of 60 seats, and Republicans will have lost 15 Senate seats in just two election cycles -- a modern record.

-- John Fund

The Godmother

How determined is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to start the new term with her caucus marching in lockstep behind here? Take a look at the House Democratic leadership races -- if you can stay awake.

Barack Obama's tapping of Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel as his White House chief of staff opened up his powerful position as chair of the Democratic Caucus. Just a few days ago, rumors were flying that at least two challengers would seek his job. Connecticut Rep. John Larson, currently vice-chairman, made clear his intention to run. Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, architect of this cycle's House wins, said he wanted to run as well, setting up a showdown. Meanwhile, the vice-chairman's job that Mr. Larson is vacating quickly attracted competing bids from Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky, New York Rep. Joe Crowley, and Florida Rep. Kendrick Meek.

But Mrs. Pelosi was apparently having none of it. Suddenly Mr. Van Hollen announced that he'd decided to stay put as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as well as accepting an additional title as "assistant" to Speaker Pelosi. That left Mr. Larson unopposed for the caucus chairmanship. At the same time, Reps. Shakowsky, Crowley and Meeks all changed their minds and decided not to run for the vice-chair slot. Instead, most will be supporting Mrs. Pelosi's handpicked ally for the job, California Rep. Xavier Becerra, who now appears a shoe-in.

In short, Mrs. Pelosi seems to have orchestrated the party's internal reorganization without any major infighting. Then again, she's also leaving some ambitious caucus members without prizes. We'll see how they respond once the legislating begins.

-- Kim Strassel

Hoosier Hero

The message of this election and the 2006 election is simple: "Big government Republicanism is a failed experiment."

So says Rep. Mike Pence, the Indiana Republican. Mr. Pence is running to become chairman of the House Republican Conference, the No. 3 power slot and effectively the communications director of the Republican Party. He is currently unopposed, but Dan Lungren of California has hinted he might also vie for the job. The leadership elections are next week.

I caught up with Mr. Pence on Wednesday and he was in a feisty mood. "Our job," he tells me, "is to expose and defeat the liberal agenda that is coming." He sees the first round being fought over a big-spending "stimulus" plan from the Obama administration as well as an attempt to reinstate the ban on offshore drilling. Mr. Pence says his party needs to discover its inner Reagan and bring back a "vision of policy contrast" with the Obama liberals. The only thing embattled Republicans have going for them, he adds, is that America "is still a center-right country. Voters know that we can't tax, spend and bailout our way back to prosperity."

Mr. Pence is ideally suited to rehab the Republican Party. He voted against three Bush initiatives that have grown the government mightily: the Medicare prescription drug benefit, the No Child Left Behind school spending law, and September's $700 billion financial rescue plan. Mr. Pence says he got into the race for conference chairman after a call from House Minority Leader John Boehner, who told him the party needs his crisp message.

Mr. Pence is a Reaganite optimist who tells me something that seems paradoxical but true. "For the first time in eight years, we as conservative Republicans have the wind at our backs." He means that being in the minority can be liberating, allowing the party to rediscover its bearings and figure out how to modernize the GOP message. Step One, he says, will be repudiating the Bush-era philosophy of "big government Republicanism."

Good riddance.

-- Stephen Moore

Quote of the Day

"First, the good news for Obama: Sixty-two percent of Americans expect him to be a 'good' or 'great' president, and 70 percent expect the economy to improve over the next four years, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. . . But data in the Quinnipiac poll shows that overall goodwill won't necessarily translate into automatic support for Obama's policy proposals. Obama called for the closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay during the campaign, and it was reported on Tuesday that the president-elect is already looking into shuttering the facility. But a 44 percent plurality of voters said Guantanamo should remain open, compared with 29 percent who wanted it closed and 27 percent who weren't sure. On Iraq, Obama's plans don't match voter sentiment right now, either. . . . And even on some Obama proposals with widespread support, Americans don't seem optimistic they'll be enacted. Fifty-four percent of voters believe the president-elect will not follow through on his oft-repeated campaign pledge to lower taxes for 95 percent of Americans" -- David Herbert, National Journal "Poll Track" columnist, on new post-election polling of voter attitudes about a Barack Obama presidency.

They're All Deaniacs Now

Four years after Howard Dean took over the Democratic National Committee with promises to invest in party building even in heavily Republican territory, his would-be counterparts in the Republican Party are talking about imitating Mr. Dean's approach. After all, it's tough to argue with two straight cycles of nearly unparalleled Democratic success.

Mr. Dean's "50-state strategy," which invested financial and human resources everywhere from Alaska to Wyoming and the Deep South, is credited with reviving the party in states where it had lately withered. In turn, those states helped steal more than 50 House seats from Republicans over two cycles, some in districts that gave President Bush more than 60% of the vote in 2004.

No wonder candidates looking to replace RNC chairman Mike Duncan are touting the Dean model as a way to rebuild the GOP. "We have to come up with our own 50-state strategy, so to speak," says Michigan GOP chair Saul Anuzis, who made his candidacy official on Wednesday.

"I thought Howard Dean had a pretty good idea with his 50-state strategy," echoes Oklahoma Republican Party chief Gary Jones, who is backing a combined ticket of former Senator Fred Thompson and one-time Michigan National Committeeman Chuck Yob for the RNC post.

Mr. Dean, the former Vermont governor who made a name for himself during the 2004 presidential primaries for his anti-war appeal to liberals, is an unlikely role model for Republican Party strategists. But they know a good idea when they see it. Along with gains in Congressional elections and picking up Electoral College votes from enemy territory in Indiana, North Carolina and even Nebraska's Second Congressional District, Democrats under Mr. Dean made impressive gains in state legislatures, including netting about 100 legislative seats this cycle (though several are being disputed in recounts).

Another great idea Republicans are adopting from Mr. Dean: If a candidate for public office helps raise money and manpower for state and local party organizations, the national party will always return the favor.

-- Reid Wilson,

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« Reply #229 on: November 13, 2008, 01:15:36 PM »

second post of the day:

Political races are about candidates and issues. But election results, in the end, are about numbers. So now that the dust is settling on the 2008 presidential race, what do the numbers tell us?

First, the predicted huge turnout surge didn't happen. The final tally is likely to show that fewer than 128.5 million people voted. That's up marginally from 122 million in 2004. But 17 million more people voted in 2004 than in 2000 (three times the change from 2004 to 2008).

Second, a substantial victory was won by modest improvement in the Democratic share of the vote. Barack Obama received 2.1 points more in the popular vote than President Bush received in 2004, 3.1 points more than Vice President Al Gore in 2000, and 4.6 points more than John Kerry in 2004. In raw numbers, the latest tally shows that Mr. Obama received 66.1 million votes, about 7.1 million more than Mr. Kerry.

About Karl Rove
Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy making process.

Before Karl became known as "The Architect" of President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, nonpartisan causes, and nonprofit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden.

Karl writes a weekly op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, is a Newsweek columnist and is now writing a book to be published by Simon & Schuster. Email the author at or visit him on the web at
Four out of five of these additional votes came from minorities. Mr. Obama got nearly 3.3 million more votes from African-Americans than did Mr. Kerry; 2.9 million of them were from younger blacks aged 18-29. A quarter of Mr. Obama's improvement among blacks -- 811,000 votes -- came from African-Americans who voted Republican in 2004. Mr. Obama also received 2.5 million more Hispanic votes than Mr. Kerry. Over a third of these votes -- 719,000 -- cast ballots for Republicans in 2004.

One of the most important shifts was Hispanic support for Democrats. John McCain got the votes of 32% of Hispanic voters. That's down from the 44% Mr. Bush won four years ago. If this trend continues, the GOP will find it difficult to regain the majority.

Mr. Obama won 4.6 million more votes in the West and 1.4 million more in the Midwest than Mr. Kerry. Mr. McCain, on the other hand, got more than 2.6 million fewer votes in the Midwest than Mr. Bush. In Ohio, for example, Mr. Obama received 32,000 fewer votes than Mr. Kerry in 2004 -- but Mr. McCain got 360,000 fewer votes than Mr. Bush. That turned a 119,000 vote GOP victory in 2004 into a 206,000 vote Democratic win this year.

Then there were those who didn't show up. There were 4.1 million fewer Republicans voting this year than in 2004. Some missing Republicans had turned independent or Democratic for this election. But most simply stayed home. Ironically for a campaign that featured probably the last Vietnam veteran to run for president, 2.7 million fewer veterans voted. There were also 4.1 million fewer voters who attend religious services more than once a week. Americans aren't suddenly going to church less; something was missing from the campaign to draw out the more religiously observant.

In a sign Mr. Obama's victory may have been more personal than partisan or philosophical, Democrats picked up just 10 state senate seats (out of 1,971) and 94 state house seats (out of 5,411). By comparison, when Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in 1980, Republicans picked up 112 state senate seats (out of 1,981) and 190 state house seats (out of 5,501).

In the states this year, five chambers shifted from Republican to Democrats, while four shifted from either tied or Democratic control to Republican control. In the South, Mr. Obama had "reverse coattails." Republicans gained legislative seats across the region. In Tennessee both the house and senate now have GOP majorities for the first time since the Civil War.

In today's Opinion Journal

A Barack MarketEmpire State ImplosionThe Greens Get Harpooned


Wonder Land: A Monument to Government Power
– Daniel HenningerHistory Favors Republicans in 2010
– Karl Rove


How to Put the Squeeze on Iran
– Orde F. KittrieObama and Missile Defense
– John R. BoltonIt's Time to Rethink Our Retirement Plans
– Roger W. Ferguson Jr.This matters because the 2010 Census could allocate as many as four additional congressional districts to Texas, two each to Arizona and Florida, and one district to each of a number of (mostly) red-leaning states, while subtracting seats from (mostly) blue-leaning states like Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania and, for the first time, California. Redistricting and reapportionment could help tilt the playing field back to the GOP in Congress and the race for the White House by moving seven House seats (and electoral votes) from mostly blue to mostly red states.

History will favor Republicans in 2010. Since World War II, the out-party has gained an average of 23 seats in the U.S. House and two in the U.S. Senate in a new president's first midterm election. Other than FDR and George W. Bush, no president has gained seats in his first midterm election in both chambers.

Since 1966, the incumbent party has lost an average of 63 state senate and 262 state house seats, and six governorships, in a president's first midterm election. That 2010 is likely to see Republicans begin rebounding just before redistricting is one silver lining in an otherwise dismal year for the GOP.

In politics, good years follow bad years. Republicans and Democrats have experienced both during the past 15 years. A GOP comeback, while certainly possible, won't be self-executing and automatic. It will require Republicans to be skillful at both defense (opposing Mr. Obama on some issues) and offense (creating a compelling agenda that resonates with voters). And it will require leaders to emerge who give the right public face to the GOP. None of this will be easy. All of this will be necessary.

Mr. Rove is a former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
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« Reply #230 on: November 14, 2008, 10:55:41 AM »

WSJ: What do bleeding Detroit auto makers, Colombia and green groups have in common? Not a lot, unless you are Nancy Pelosi.

If there was a moment that highlights to what extent the Democratic Party has become captive to its special interests, this might be it. Mrs. Pelosi and Harry Reid have spent this week demanding that Washington stave off a car-maker collapse. What makes this a little weird is that Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Reid are Washington. If they so desperately want a Detroit bailout they could always, you know, pass one.

Ken FallinInstead, having punted the Detroit question in the past, and having failed to offload it on the Bush administration, Mrs. Pelosi is now stuck dealing with it in the middle of a lame-duck session that is tangled in Colombia trade politics. Detroit's demands are meanwhile pressing in a postelection environment where Big Labor and greens are presenting their own bills for political services rendered. If you're wondering why Mrs. Pelosi hasn't yet decided what will happen when Congress returns, it's because she hasn't decided which group to annoy.

Democrats have been trying to shuffle money to Detroit since summer, but their timing has been off. The Michigan delegation's big push for auto funds coincided with September's financial crisis. With Washington in a panic, voters howling over $700 billion for banks, and an election in the offing, the leadership decided a Detroit bailout was one hot potato too many.

This decision was made easier by the fact that the Big Three's balance sheets have made even sympathetic Washington spenders worry about throwing money at a bankruptcy. Democrats decided it would be better to direct the funds in a way that allowed them to later deny fault.

The plan? Make it the Bush administration's responsibility to give Detroit cash -- namely by claiming after the event that the $700 billion rescue package for financial institutions was in fact a rescue package for auto makers. This was attempted with several hilarious "colloquys" -- pre-scripted dialogues between members that were quietly inserted into the Congressional Record after the vote, all aimed at rewriting the "intent" of the law. Say, this one, from Oct. 1:

Michigan Sen. Carl Levin: "As Treasury implements this new program, it is clear to me from reading the definition of financial institution that auto financing companies would be among the many financial institutions that would be eligible sellers to the government. Do you agree?"

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd: "Yes, for purposes of this act, I agree that financial institution may encompass auto financing companies."

Fun. Meanwhile, Democrats passed $25 billion in aid for Detroit, though under the careful guise of "green" funds to help it meet new fuel-efficiency standards.

Alas! All for naught! Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson has stubbornly insisted that -- whatever the dreamy "intent" of Sen. Levin -- the $700 billion is, indeed, earmarked for financial institutions. Even a last-ditch letter-writing campaign by Mrs. Pelosi and the Michigan members this weekend, begging the administration to let them off the hook, wouldn't budge Mr. Paulson.

If that weren't enough, the administration has had the temerity to take Democrats at their legislative word, and demand the auto makers actually use that $25 billion in green funds for . . . green retooling. Which, needless to say, isn't going to help the Big Three CEOs pay their upcoming health-care bills.

And so Mrs. Pelosi has been landed with Detroit, again. The auto makers have staged a brilliant PR campaign, tying their misfortunes to today's financial mess -- never mind those decades of mismanagement. They've warned that the ripple effect of a crash could cost three million to four million jobs. Democrats have also undoubtedly been reminded by UAW President Ron Gettelfinger that those come from his union, which recently helped Mrs. Pelosi win an election.

The problem is how not to offend the other groups that just helped her win an election. The White House has intimated that its price for Democratic legislation in a lame-duck session would be the passage of the Colombia trade agreement. Yet Mrs. Pelosi has successfully sat on that deal for months at the demand of the broader union movement, which just spent hundreds of millions to increase Democratic majority.

Meanwhile, another trial balloon -- a proposal to loosen the rules governing the $25 billion in green money -- sent Mrs. Pelosi's environmental friends bonkers. They also just spent big helping Democrats, and insist the money go to building clean cars, not digging out Detroit.

Mrs. Pelosi has since tasked Barney Frank with "drafting" a bailout bill. Yet by yesterday, Democrats were backing away from a vote, complaining they weren't getting help from Republicans. That might work now, though come January, a bigger Democratic majority will no longer have the GOP as an excuse. By the looks of this week, that's when the real fun begins.

Write to
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« Reply #231 on: November 14, 2008, 11:33:26 AM »

I'm a little surprised about Hillary as SOS.
Actually I thought it was going to be Bill as the payoff for their support of BO at the end of the Pres campaign.
It looks like the CLintons are going to win big with all their people getting on the BO bandwagon and Hill set up for her run in 2012 or 2016 whenever BO leaves the stage.  We all know it won't be his VP - Biden - for 2012 or 16.

Amazing isn't it?  Practically my entire adult life I will have to put up with the Clintons.

At least we will not have to hear how she is the "first" SOS who is a broad and another "glass ceiling broken" blah blah blah be de blah.
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« Reply #232 on: November 17, 2008, 11:37:50 AM »

November 17, 2008

In today's Political Diary

More Clinton Melodrama
They Vote Secretly So You Won't Have To
Grand Old Toupee (Quote of the Day I)
The New Affirmative Action Babies (Quote of the Day II)
Three Musketeers

What's Behind the Hillary Head Fake?

In floating the idea of Hillary Clinton becoming his Secretary of State, Barack Obama has scored a two-fer. If she accepted such an offer, he would instantly neutralize his strongest potential adversary within the Democratic Party, enhance his relationship with Democratic women and gain a tough-minded operator who might actually be able to manage the notoriously independent Foggy Bottom bureaucracy.

But Reason #1 also makes it very unlikely Mrs. Clinton will become Secretary of State. As the nation's top diplomat, she would be barred by both law and custom from any partisan politics. Fundraisers for the Democratic Party or Democratic candidates would be off the table. She would have to dismantle her formidable political operation. Finally, she would be forced to follow Obama administration policy and rule out, as a loyal soldier, any possibility of challenging him for the 2012 Democratic nomination if his administration were widely seen to be unsuccessful.

Look for a face-saving maneuver that will, in the end, keep her out of the cabinet. One excuse would be the difficulty of unwinding the large number of conflicts of interest arising from Bill Clinton's global foundation, whose myriad of donors Mr. Clinton would be less than anxious to make public. As the New York Daily News dryly notes: "Questions about those donors, some say, might trip up a new administration that has made itself all about promoting a new kind of politics."

Thus Barack Obama will get credit for having considered Hillary Clinton to be the nation's top diplomat and none of the blame when it doesn't happen. Mr. Obama may be good at shooting hoops on the basketball court, but his real skill is in the political head fake.

-- John Fund

A Secret Ballot for Me, Not Thee

Last year, Democratic Senators voted for so-called "card check" legislation that would have deprived millions of employees of the right to vote secretly on whether they want to be represented by a labor union. Tomorrow many of those same Democratic Senators will insist on using a secret ballot process to determine whether Joe Lieberman will be stripped of his chairmanship of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

That same day, Republican Senators are likely to use a secret ballot to decide whether to expel convicted colleague Ted Stevens from their caucus. Later in January, the House Democratic Caucus will use a secret ballot to determine whether Michigan Rep. John Dingell keeps his chairmanship of the House Energy & Commerce Committee against a challenge from California Rep. Henry Waxman.

In other words, many legislators who value a secret ballot to preserve their own privacy and freedom from intimidation in conducting Congressional business are nonetheless prepared to support union-backed "card check" legislation to strip American workers of the same privacy and freedom. Instead, a workplace would be deemed "organized" as soon as 50%-plus-one-worker signed cards carried around by union organizers authorizing such a move.

If card-check passes, workers in company after company might soon see their workplaces dominated by the same kind of union shop arrangements that helped bring Detroit's auto making industry to its knees -- and all without workers being able to choose their fate in the privacy of a voting booth.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"We're going to need more than just a political comb-over" -- Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty at a meeting of the Republican Governors Association on the current state of the Republican Party.

Quote of the Day II

"ome of the conservatives' complaints about a liberal tilt are valid. Journalism naturally draws liberals; we like to change the world. I'll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. . . . Are there ways to tackle this? More conservatives in newsrooms and rigorous editing would be two. The first is not easy: Editors hire not on the basis of beliefs but on talent in reporting, photography and editing, and hiring is at a standstill because of the economy. But newspapers have hired more minorities and women, so it can be done" -- Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell, in an article called "Remedying the Bias Perception."

No Room for RINOs

South Carolina's Mark Sanford is one of three GOP governors now being widely mentioned as potential saviors of the Republican Party between now and 2012. All are conspicuous for calling on their own party to live up to its principles. Most notably, none have advocated the GOP move to the left.

Mr. Sanford is a two-term governor known for vetoing spending bills, pushing market-oriented policy reforms (such as moving his state's Medicaid system to a private account-based model) and criticizing the lapses of the national GOP. "Some on the left will say our electoral losses are a repudiation of our principles of lower taxes, smaller government and individual liberty," he wrote on after this month's elections. "But Tuesday was not in fact a rejection of those principles -- it was a rejection of Republicans' failure to live up to those principles."

In the same op-ed he took a swing at Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, identifying him as someone who "personifies what went wrong in the election. . . He was a proud champion of pork barrel spending and bridges to nowhere and stayed so long that he developed a blind eye to ethical lapses that would be readily seen by scout leaders and soccer moms alike."

Two other leading lights for a troubled GOP are Govs. Sarah Palin of Alaska and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. Before she became John McCain's running mate, Mrs. Palin was best known for challenging her own state GOP to cure its spendthrift, corrupt ways. She unseated a sitting mayor in her first bid for office and became a giant killer by knocking off the high-handed, free-spending Gov. Frank Murkowski in a Republican primary.

Mr. Jindal is a boy wonder of the party. At 25, he was appointed to fix Louisiana's failing Medicaid program, and succeeded. At 32, he lost a hard-fought campaign for governor but later landed a Congressional seat from which he criticized bureaucratic bungling in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Last year, after Katrina had destroyed Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco's reputation, he won his second bid for the office by promising sweeping reform of Louisiana's corrupt and inefficient government culture.

That Republicans are coalescing around these three governors is also revealing for who is not included. Several years ago Christie Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey and EPA administrator, wrote a book called "It's My Party Too." She used that treatise to argue for the party to abandon its conservative roots. Even after two serious GOP drubbings at the polls, she has found no takers. Likewise, Lincoln Chaffee, the former Rhode Island Senator once labeled a "Republican in Name Only," was still complaining last week to the Washington Post that "right-wing talk show hosts and the Ann Coulters and that ilk" never understood that the GOP needs people like him.

Maybe that's because Republicans have looked closely at the election results. The country hasn't so much moved left as it has abandoned a GOP that abandoned its own principles. In Ohio, Barack Obama actually won about 40,000 fewer votes than John Kerry did four years ago. Mr. Obama took Ohio only because John McCain pulled 350,000 fewer votes than George W. Bush did in 2004. Republicans and Republican-leaning voters stayed home.

That's not an endorsement of the ideas of the left. It's a lack enthusiasm for a party that failed to deliver the smaller government it promised in Washington. At least the GOP, in settling on future leaders like Governors Jindal, Sanford and Palin, seems to understand that.

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« Reply #233 on: November 20, 2008, 11:48:47 AM »

Going for the Big Money

A highly placed Democrat tells the Arizona Republic that Governor Janet Napolitano's nomination to head the Department of Homeland Security in an Obama administration is "a pretty done deal."

Some national Democrats are puzzling over why Gov. Napolitano would leave midway through her second term, turning over the job to Arizona's Republican Secretary of State Jan Brewer, thus giving the GOP control of both houses of the legislature and the executive branch.

The answer may be twofold. A change of scenery might be welcome given Arizona's ugly budget crisis, brought on by years of overspending and lax oversight by all the state's political players. Secondly, a cabinet secretary earns $191,300 a year, more than double the stingy $90,000 annual salary that Arizona's constitution allows its governor. Arizona is also one of a handful of states that doesn't provide its chief executive with a governor's mansion. "It's a win-win for Janet," one Arizona elected official told me. "She escapes having to make massive budget cuts or tax hikes that would be unpopular and gets to play with the major players in Washington."

-- John Fund

If Hillary Gets the Nod . . .

It still seems unlikely, but the camps of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton seem to be working hard to smooth her appointment as Secretary of State. Many of Mr. Obama's advisers still have doubts about the wisdom of the choice, but others are swept away by what calls a potential "masterstroke on the road to creating the most unified, powerful Democratic leadership in living memory." With Mrs. Clinton out of the Senate, only Wisconsin maverick Russ Feingold might be left to stir up meaningful Democratic opposition to Obama policy initiatives in the U.S. Senate.

New York Governor David Paterson is already reviewing potential replacements for Mrs. Clinton's Senate seat should it fall vacant. Topping the list is Andrew Cuomo, the state's attorney general and a potential rival to Mr. Paterson's ambitions to win a term in his own right in 2010 (Mr. Paterson was elevated from the Lt. Governorship when Eliot Spitzer resigned in a prostitution scandal). Other possibilities include Rep. Nita Lowey, a strong Hillary ally who would likely hold the seat for a short time given her age -- 71. Another is Rep. Nydia Velazquez, whose appointment would recognize the growing clout of Hispanics in New York state politics.

Meanwhile, key to Mrs. Clinton's appointment are discussions over Bill Clinton's conflict-laden philanthropic efforts. Representing Mr. Clinton in negotiations are his former White House counsels Bruce Lindsey and Cheryl Mills. Representing Mr. Obama is his transition chief John Podesta, himself a former Clinton chief of staff. Together, in meetings that must be surreal, these former Clintonites are hashing out disclosure rules for Mr. Clinton and his high-rolling donors.

-- John Fund

Howard's End

Tom Daschle yesterday quickly accepted Barack Obama's offer to head the Health and Human Services Department. Perhaps even more interesting is who didn't get the job: Soon-to-be-former DNC Chief Howard Dean.

Mr. Dean certainly had a liberal fan club pushing for him. A medical doctor by training, he burst onto the presidential scene in 2004 on the strength of his "universal health care" plan as governor of Vermont. The militant Netroots crowd -- which he was among the first Democrats to cultivate -- has remained loyal and has been howling for his appointment. Some left-wing Democrats also felt he deserved the job as payment for the electoral victories he oversaw as head of the DNC.

Back in reality, however, Mr. Obama was having none of it. Plenty of top Democrats were fine with letting Mr. Dean run the DNC. His attack-dog style and Internet savvy were well suited to a job that was focused on winning elections. But his personal aggressiveness couldn't be more at odds with Mr. Obama's cool demeanor. And putting Mr. Dean in control of one of Mr. Obama's most cherished initiatives (health care) would've made John McCain's Sarah Palin pick look safe.

Mr. Dean didn't help himself by squabbling endlessly with party leaders during his DNC tenure. He had some particularly nasty go-rounds with Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who was angry the DNC chair wasn't sending him more money to help elect Congressional Democrats. Mr. Emanuel will now be Mr. Obama's White House chief of staff.

Mr. Dean has already said he won't seek a second DNC term, no doubt because he knows the position would lose much of its profile with a Democratic president in the White House. Team Obama may well feel the need to reward Mr. Dean with a post, but finding one that would match his expectations could prove tough. Any job that Mr. Dean might want is a job that Mr. Obama might prefer not to entrust to an unpredictable rabble-rouser with a notoriously sharp tongue.

-- Kim Strassel

Quote of the Day I

"I honestly think I will not mind not having to answer to the press. It's very different than a few years ago. The press doesn't focus on issues anymore -- it's whether who's winning or losing, who's happy or sad and so on, and educating the public about issues isn't something the press wants to do anymore. I will not miss that aspect of it. I will love having my privacy. Let me put it in a positive way" -- retiring Connecticut Republican Rep. Chris Shays, quoted at about what he will miss least about his job.

Quote of the Day II

"[A]s every horror fan knows the monster never dies. In the case of the credit-crunch the risk of a final lunge comes from a damaging political response. . . . The major lesson from the Great Depression of the 1930s was that terrible policies managed to turn a financial crisis into a disaster. The infamous Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 was introduced by US policymakers to block imports in a desperate attempt to protect domestic jobs. But it helped worsen the recession by freezing world trade. At the same time policymakers were encouraging firms to collude and workers to unionize to raise prices and wages. The current backlash against capitalism risks leading to this repeat. . . . Although 2009 will be a year of shrinking rapidly, if politicians protect free markets 2010 should see a return to growth" -- Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom, writing at

Boehner Hangs On

Despite low enthusiasm for the party's House leadership, Ohio Rep. John Boehner kept his spot atop the GOP House conference yesterday after beating back a weak challenge from California Rep. Dan Lungren.

Mr. Boehner, who despite the party's lackluster performance keeps good personal relations with much of the caucus, survived by giving conservatives what they wanted. House Minority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri announced shortly after Election Day that he wouldn't seek the post again. He will be replaced by his chief deputy, Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, a brainy up-and-coming conservative voice in the conference.

Florida Rep. Adam Putnam, last cycle's Conference Chairman, also agreed to forgo a re-election bid. He will hand his conference gavel to Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, a former head of the Republican Study Committee and a popular ex-radio host with a big following among conservatives.

Reps. Cantor and Pence were both rumored to be interested in Mr. Boehner's job, so accommodating them with new positions might have spared Mr. Boehner a tougher challenge than he got from the late entry Mr. Lungren. Mr. Pence had previously tried to unseat the Minority Leader after the 2006 elections. Mr. Boehner's reelection comes despite antagonizing some conservatives by cooperating with Democrats to approve this fall's $700 billion bank bailout. As Republicans move right, meanwhile, House Democrats are moving left. The Democratic caucus this morning voted to oust John Dingell from the powerful energy and commerce committee in favor of the ultraliberal class-warrior Rep. Henry Waxman.

Mr. Boehner also succeeded this week in electing a new chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, a thankless position over the last two cycles, which have seen the GOP lose more than 50 seats and the majority. Texas Rep. Pete Sessions ousted Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole to take the helm for what most expect will be a brighter year for Republicans.

Messrs. Boehner and Cole had clashed often over staffing issues and what some called Mr. Cole's hands-off approach in Republican primaries. Democrats were much more active during the primaries in helping those candidates they considered the best fit for the districts in question. Republicans did not adopt a similar strategy until late in the cycle.

-- Reid Wilson,

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« Reply #234 on: December 04, 2008, 11:54:35 AM »

Laughing All the Way to the Senate

The Minnesota Senate recount is starting to resemble a "Saturday Night Live" skit that could have been part of Democratic candidate Al Franken's repertoire as a comedian.

This week, Ramsey County elections officials found an additional 171 ballots that hadn't been counted on election night. It turns out a broken voting machine had been replaced, but voters who used the first machine never had their ballots recounted. Mr. Franken picked up 37 votes from that error, but promptly lost 36 votes the next day after neighboring Hennepin County found that 133 votes in one precinct had been counted twice. Minneapolis elections director Cindy Reichert said she believes the error occurred when election judges at the precinct on election night mistakenly ran ballots with write-in candidates through a counting machine a second time. "There are human errors that are made on Election Day," she deadpanned.

Meanwhile, the recount in Minnesota's other 85 counties grinds on. With 93% of votes recounted, Mr. Franken's lawyers claimed yesterday they were now 22 votes ahead -- the first time their man has taken the lead from GOP incumbent Norm Coleman. The Coleman campaign promptly fired back with a press release puckishly claiming they were some 2,200 votes ahead. The Minneapolis Star Tribune's scoreboard right now has a Coleman lead of some 303 votes.

But the final outcome is likely to hinge on just how many of the 12,000 absentee ballots that were rejected for various reasons will ultimately be counted. In some cases, voters failed to follow instructions on the ballot. In some cases, they were submitted by people who had never registered to vote. The Franken campaign insists some 1,000 of the rejected ballots represent valid votes and vows to go to court to make sure the ballots are counted. The dispute may ultimately have to be resolved by the U.S. Senate itself, which has been known in the past to keep seats vacant while it conducts its own investigation.

"I have no doubt in my mind that Al Franken got more votes in this election than Norm Coleman," says Franken attorney Mark Elias. "I don't know what that margin's going to be. But the direction is all in one place, and we believe that's going to continue."

In other words, the Franken campaign is bound and determined to keep counting votes until their man is ahead -- and only then will it be time to stop counting lest the next batch of uncounted votes turn out to favor Mr. Coleman. It's an approach that certainly deserves a laugh, but hardly the way an important election should be resolved.

-- John Fund

The Rangel Time Bomb

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has two ethical time bombs on her hands. She'd be smart to defuse them quickly before they interfere with executing the Obama agenda.

One big headache for Ms. Pelosi is New York Democrat Charlie Rangel, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, who faces multiple tax and regulatory scandals involving his many residential properties. Last week the New York Times also raised serious questions about Mr. Rangel's promotion of a tax loophole that benefited a major donor to a library to be named after him. Both the Washington Post and New York Times have editorialized for Mr. Rangel to step down, but Ms. Pelosi is apparently having none of it. "She told me I am her chairman of the Ways and Means Committee as long as I want to be," Mr. Rangel told reporters at a Harlem ribbon-cutting yesterday.

She may be sticking with Mr. Rangel because she has no stomach for the succession fight that would come. The next ranking Democrat on the important tax-writing committee is California Rep. Pete Stark, whose greatest hits include accusing GOP lawmakers of sending troops in Iraq to die "for the president's amusement." As an unnamed lobbyist told Congress Daily, the business community "would go nuclear" and Republicans would "have a field day" if the gaffe-prone left-winger Mr. Stark were to seek the chairmanship.

No less uncertain has been Mrs. Pelosi's trumpet on the Democrats' other nagging ethical liability, namely Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson, who gained unwelcome notoriety when an FBI raid found $90,000 in cash in his home freezer. He was indicted last year on 16 criminal corruption charges and will soon face trial.

Two scandals might be unfortunate, but a third, if it crops up, could seriously undermine Ms. Pelosi's ambitious agenda. Recall how GOP House leadership passivity amid a succession of ethical lapses finally gobbled up the GOP's political capital in the eyes of voters. Lest the names be forgotten, the hall of ignominy includes Rep. Randy Duke's conviction on corruption charges, Rep. Bob Ney's criminal entanglement with lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Rep. Mark Foley's salacious emails with House pages.

Lesson: These things build slowly but tend to overwhelm party leaders who don't act soon enough. Ms. Pelosi has been warned.

-- Brendan Miniter

Quote of the Day I

"My staff tells me not to say this, but I'm going to say it anyway. In the summer because of the heat and high humidity, you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol" -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in remarks yesterday welcoming the new, air-conditioned Capitol Visitors Center.

Quote of the Day II

"Republicans were happy to make [Tuesday's Georgia Senate runoff] a referendum on Obama; [GOP Senator Saxby] Chambliss consistently warned Georgians of giving the president-elect a 'blank check' in Washington. But can [Democratic challenger Jim] Martin's loss really be seen as a repudiation of Obama, given that he'd already lost the state by 5 percentage points? And what about the 'short coattail' theory -- that without Obama at the top of the ticket in 2010, lots of Democrats are going to be vulnerable? In preparation for this line of attack, House Democratic strategists are already making sure to point out the significant number of House candidates who overperformed Obama's showing in their districts this November, arguing that his effect on downballot races has consistently been overstated. The theory: House Democrats took control of Congress in 2006 without Obama on the ticket and can do just fine on their own in 2010, thank you very much" -- Hotline editor Amy Walter.

The Obama-Gore Consensus

Barack Obama's great virtue is his ability to behave like a cynical politician without getting a reputation as a cynical politician.

The latest example is his left-pleasing promise during the campaign for a windfall oil tax, now quietly removed from his transition web site. Explained an aide, the tax was all along meant to apply only if oil prices are over $80 a barrel. "They are below that now and expected to stay below that."

Mr. Obama here makes a choice in favor of good economic policy. But there's something else going on. He's a student of the late radical thinker Saul Alinsky, who argued that you do or say what's necessary in a democracy to gain power, while keeping your true aims to yourself. Mr. Obama's novel contribution has been to turn this exploitation on his supporters on the left (who admittedly are so wedded to their hero that, so far, they don't seem to mind).

His next big challenge is an upcoming conference updating the Kyoto targets. Mr. Obama has not backed off his overwrought climate rhetoric, but listen carefully to Al Gore. Now that Democrats are on the verge of power, he's backing off cap-and-trade and carbon tax proposals (i.e. visible energy price hikes for consumers) in favor of a new approach, massive government subsidies for "green technology."

Two fans, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaustell, co-founders of the Breakthrough Institute, write approvingly of what they call Mr. Gore's highly "significant shift." "He knows that cap-and-trade, and most any new regulation, would raise energy prices -- a political nonstarter during a recession."

Uh huh. Mr. Gore, when he's close to power, always drops the politically unpopular medicine his climate views would seem to necessitate. When he ran for president, he tried to lower gasoline prices by opening up the petroleum reserve. There was no recession at the time.

But the former veep is perfectly in sync with Mr. Obama. Energy taxes popular with the left but unpopular with voters will soon be off the table to preserve his second term hopes. But that doesn't mean an end to "climate policy, " which can still be used to foster a network of trade groups willing to kick back some of their taxpayer subsidies to maintain Democrats in power. This will do nothing for climate change (and indeed nothing proposed or entertained in Washington would make a difference to climate). But it will help cement Democratic ascendancy over Washington's iron triangle of interest groups, politicians and the bureaucracy.

Indeed, Mr. Gore, as an investor and promoter of several green energy funds himself, is a walking conflict of interest here -- one whose bogus credibility Mr. Obama will happily make use of. Alinsky would be proud.
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« Reply #235 on: December 05, 2008, 12:22:39 PM »

A Coup in Canada
No Way to Run a Country
Life and Times of Harvey Milk

A Confederacy of Hosers

Canada voted only seven weeks ago to bring back Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government for another term, but this week a cobbled-together party coalition of Liberals, left-wing New Democrats and Quebec separatists almost threw him out of office. What began as a revolution ended as farce yesterday as it became clear Mr. Harper would keep his job.

Mr. Harper clearly blundered last month when he proposed to end the government subsidies that go to all of Canada's political parties, a move that advantaged his incumbent administration's ability to collect private donations. The outraged three opposition parties promptly met and signed a coalition agreement in which they would vote "no confidence" in Mr. Harper's government and take over with a slim majority. The Liberals and New Democrats would govern with the Bloc Quebecois providing support in exchange for more concessions on financial aid and autonomy.

The problem is that Canadians had just voted, and having parties that recently lost an election take power without a new election struck many as profoundly undemocratic. A Globe and Mail poll found that some 60% of Canadians opposed the deal. The poll also found that, if a new election were held today, the Conservatives would win a commanding 45%, while the Liberals would get only 24% and the New Democrats a mere 14%. Just seven weeks ago, the Conservatives had won re-election with 37%.

When all was said and done, the movement opposing Mr. Harper quickly unraveled once he met with Canada's Governor-General, the country's head of state, and won her approval to shut down Parliament till January 26. With Parliament not in session, there was no way the "no confidence" vote could be held next week as planned.

David McGuinty, a Liberal member of Parliament from Ottawa, summed up developments by saying the Governor-General had effectively given a tongue lashing to all players in the drama and told them to go home and play nice. It certainly looks as if no one comes out of this episode with political stature enhanced.

-- John Fund

Uh-oh, Canada

Just as U.S. voters are heading left, Canada's seemed to be heading right. But then Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper blew up his coalition this week (see above). If he doesn't patch it back together by the time Parliament reconvenes in late January, his government could still fall and be replaced by a coalition of parties never chosen by voters.

Even sillier, the new prime minister would be the head of the defeated Liberal Party. Right now that honor belongs to Stephane Dion, who actually resigned as party head after the LP's terrible performance at the polls. His successor won't be named until May, so Mr. Dion would serve as the head of government until then. In other words, Canada would be led by the lame-duck chief of a party that was rejected at the polls two elections in a row. He would then be replaced by a member of Parliament who'd never been subjected to voter scrutiny as the government's possible leader.

-- Michael Philips

The Club for Breaking Even

Republican Tom McClintock finally won his race for a California House seat yesterday, after the district's counties turned in their final vote tallies to the secretary of state, giving Mr. McClintock a lead of nearly 1,800 votes over retired Air Force Lt. Col. Charlie Brown. Mr. McClintock, the leading spokesman for Southern California conservatives, had been term-limited out of his state senate seat.

His victory is also a victory for the anti-tax Club for Growth, boosting its winning percentage in House and Senate races to .500. Mr. McClintock's Democratic opponent conceded the race rather than request a recount in the tight contest, giving the Club -- whose PAC spends money in support of candidates with anti-tax platforms -- eight wins and eight losses at the end of the 2008 general election season.

Of course, that decent-sounding record is somewhat dimmed by the fact that four of the Club's eight losses were incumbents. These include New Hampshire Sen. John Sununu and three House Republicans: Florida's Tom Feeney, Idaho's Bill Sali and Tim Walberg of Michigan. On the other hand, the Club can boast knocking off freshman Democrat Rep. Nick Lampson, who occupied Tom DeLay's old suburban Houston seat. He was beaten by the Club-supported former Pentagon aide Pete Olson.

But Mr. Walberg's loss in Michigan's 7th District is particularly significant. In 2006, he became the first Club-backed candidate to oust a fellow Republican in a primary. He defeated GOP moderate Rep. Joe Schwarz and then went on to win by just four points against an underfunded Democrat in that year's general election. This year, though, he lost to Democrat Mark Schauer by three points.

A similar outcome in Maryland gave the last laugh to another moderate Republican unseated with the Club's help -- Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, a nine-term congressman in Maryland's 1st Congressional District. Mr. Gilchrest had faced primary challenges before, but he fell victim back in February to Andy Harris, for whom the Club offered substantial financial backing. Mr. Gilchrest went on to endorse Mr. Harris's Democratic opponent, Frank Kratovil, who won by fewer than 3,000 votes last month.

Club for Growth President Pat Toomey knew it was a difficult year for Republicans and made the best of his group's break-even performance. "As the Republican Party struggles to rebuild itself in the coming months and years, these conservative stalwarts will be major players in that crucial effort," he said.

-- Kyle Trygstad,

Got 'Milk'?

You can bet that "Milk," the new film starring Sean Penn as the first openly gay politician elected to office in a major city, will be an Oscar contender. Ballots for the Academy Awards will be cast early next year in the aftermath of California's passage of Proposition 8, a statewide ban on gay marriage. Already, the film has been caught up in politics as some are urging a nationwide boycott against Cinemark movie theaters after Cinemark CEO Alan Stock donated $10,000 to the "Yes on 8" campaign. "He should not profit from now showing 'Milk' in his theaters," says the boycott Web site.

Politics aside, "Milk" is a fascinating celebration of a man who was both a symbol of gay empowerment and a martyr to gay rights. The film premiered on the 30th anniversary of his death in 1978. Harvey Milk only served as a member of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors for 11 months before he, along with Mayor George Moscone, was gunned down at age 48 by Dan White, a former Supervisor who nursed political grudges against both men. White was convicted only of manslaughter after putting up a preposterous defense that too much junk food had impaired his judgment -- a foretaste of even stranger legal arguments in later years as more and more people have sought to avoid responsibility for their actions.

Milk is celebrated in the film for his aggressive leadership on gay rights, especially for helping defeat the Briggs Initiative in 1978, which would have banned gays from teaching in public schools -- a measure also opposed by Ronald Reagan and many conservatives. But the story of Harvey Milk as a politician was more complicated than his sexual orientation. At the heart of all of his campaigns was the notion that government had to be responsive to the rights of individuals.

Although he espoused left-wing politics in his later years, Milk was a political conservative until he was almost 40. He had served as a Navy officer, worked on Wall Street and enthusiastically handed out flyers for Barry Goldwater at subway stops in Manhattan in 1964. It was the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon's invasion of Cambodia that most influenced his move to the left. In 1970, he settled in San Francisco and opened an independent camera store in the then-emerging gay neighborhood around Castro Street.

His interest in local politics began when, not long after opening his business, he was visited by a state bureaucrat who demanded a pre-payment of sales taxes on products he hadn't yet sold. Next, a local public school teacher asked if he could borrow a film projector because none of those at his school worked. Then a local business association tried to discourage city bureaucrats from issuing business licenses to gays. Milk promptly organized the still-popular Castro Street Fair to demonstrate the clout of the gay business community.

He ran for office several times, appealing for gay votes but also as an angry populist demanding government accountability. "Milk has something for everybody," was his slogan.

Despite some unfortunate political correctness, the film "Milk" is a powerful statement in favor of tolerance and the power of one individual to bring about change. Like Spike Lee's "Malcolm X," the film takes a controversial historical figure about whom many people have only a sketchy idea and makes him both human and accessible.

-- John Fund

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« Reply #236 on: December 08, 2008, 12:19:12 PM »

Let Caroline Run

Is there a divine right for the Kennedy family to hold a U.S. Senate seat, as they have for 54 of the last 56 years? Nepotism on Capitol Hill has become an art form, and there is no better practitioner than Senator Ted Kennedy. Only hours after news of his cancerous brain tumor last spring, the New York Daily News reported that he was telling friends he wanted his wife Vicki to take his Massachusetts seat.

Now the New York Post is reporting that Mr. Kennedy "has been working back channels to promote niece Caroline as the replacement for Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Senate." New York Governor David Paterson has already spoken with Ms. Kennedy about her interest in the job, the paper says, and her uncle has helpfully sent word to the governor that if she were appointed "legislation affecting New York would receive prompt attention."

Two generations after anti-nepotism laws began to open up civil service positions to excluded groups like Jews and blacks, "the pendulum seems to be swinging the other way," says Adam Bellow, author of a book called "In Praise of Nepotism." The National Journal reports that 63 current members of Congress, including at least one-third of U.S. Senators, have relatives who have lobbied or consulted on government relations at the federal or state level in recent years. At least eight former legislators who are now registered as lobbyists were replaced by relatives in their former Congressional seats.

Yet I sense a backlash is brewing. A deep-seated American belief holds that those who gain public office through artificial privilege should be viewed with suspicion. That wariness can certainly be overcome, as the electoral success of political workhorses Senator Evan Bayh and former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida demonstrates, but some brighter lines are certainly in order. Back in 1960, a Scripps-Howard reporter shocked the country and won a Pulitzer Prize with the revelation that one in five members of Congress had relatives on the official payroll. There ought to be some decent restraint on official nepotism, and now is the time to show it. If Caroline Kennedy really wants to represent New York in the Senate, she has the visibility and the connections to raise money and run for the office in her own right.

-- John Fund

Who's Multicultural Now?

Louisiana isn't known as a leading indicator of political diversity even though it has always been a mixture of northern Baptists, New Orleans blacks and Bayou Cajuns. But the state sports a governor whose parents came from India, a Lebanese-American Congressman and now the nation's first Vietnamese-American congressman.

Anh "Joseph" Cao fled South Vietnam as a boy in 1975 when a Communist invasion threw the last remnants of U.S. influence out of the country. He quickly taught himself English and earned degrees in philosophy and physics. In 2000 he became a lawyer specializing in immigration work.

He, like many anti-Communist Vietnamese refugees, also became a Republican. While a half-dozen Democrats fought to challenge indicted Congressman Bill Jefferson in their party's primary, Mr. Cao held back and husbanded his resources. After Mr. Jefferson won a Democratic primary runoff against Hispanic former news anchor Helena Moreno by 57% to 43% last month, Mr. Cao began collecting endorsements from Democrats who were furious at the revelation that Mr. Jefferson had hidden $90,000 in alleged bribe money in his home freezer.

On Election Day, Mr. Cao's campaign flooded local voters with two automated "robo" calls from Ms. Moreno and from respected former New Orleans District Attorney Harry Connick Sr. Both urged voters to abandon Mr. Jefferson and vote for Mr. Cao, a former law professor who specialized in teaching ethics.

Mr. Cao was aided by low voter turnout on Saturday, but he also managed to win black votes that few Republicans have ever gotten before. "It's no longer an issue of black and white," he explained, noting that his Asian heritage meant he hadn't been part of the old racial rivalries in the city. "It now goes to the issue of who's going to better represent the 2nd District to bring about change, to bring about reform." After his victory, Mr. Cao exulted that "the American Dream is well and alive."

Indeed, the country's 1.5 million Vietnamese Americans are coming into their own politically. Mr. Cao was able to draw on the votes and support of more than 20,000 who live in the New Orleans area. In California's Orange County, Janet Nguyen serves on the Board of Supervisors and much of the area is represented in the State Assembly by Republican Van Tran. Last month, the city of Westminster in Orange County (pop. 90,000) elected its first city council in which a majority of members are Vietnamese-Americans.

Republicans now have Mr. Cao as a national spokesman to carry their message to Asian voters. Two-thirds of Vietnamese Americans indicated they were voting for John McCain over Barack Obama in this year's election, a clear break from the voting pattern of other Asian groups. Democrats acknowledge the historic nature of Mr. Cao's victory, but they also note that he will be hard pressed to keep his seat in a normal turnout election two years from now in a district that went overwhelmingly for Barack Obama.

-- John Fund

The Vietnamese Swing Vote

"The future is Cao." So wrote House Republican Leader John Boehner in a note to his GOP colleagues last night. "The Cao victory is a symbol of what can be achieved when we think big, present a positive alternative, and work aggressively to earn the trust of the American people."

Saturday's victory by Republican Anh "Joseph" Cao in the battle for a New Orleans House seat is also a big opportunity for the Republican Party to visibly reach out to an immigrant group that has traditionally supported the GOP but is in danger of slipping away. When he is sworn in next year, Mr. Cao will become the first Vietnamese American to serve in Congress in history. He will therefore become an ambassador to a community that is small in total numbers but heavily concentrated in a handful of states and capable of tipping the scales in close elections.

Though the largest Vietnamese community can be found in California's Orange County, Virginia is the state with the second largest. And one reason Barack Obama surprised many by carrying that traditional red state was his aggressive outreach to the Vietnamese community. Ironically, Vietnam veteran John McCain never bothered to court what should have been a well-disposed constituency. Two years earlier, another Vietnam vet, Democrat Jim Webb, made a strong play for their support in his Senate race. Mr. Webb, whose wife is Vietnamese American, ended up defeating incumbent Republican Sen. George Allen by a few thousand votes. Had Mr. Allen run more strongly among Vietnamese-American voters, he'd likely be in the Senate today.

After Mr. Cao's victory on Saturday, he was flanked by his wheelchair-bound father who had, as one press report put it, "spent seven years in a North Vietnamese prison camp during that country's civil war." One reason Republicans could long count on Vietnamese-American support was that they didn't call the Vietnam War a "civil war" but a case of communist aggression against a free country. Mr. Cao's victory is now an opportunity for the GOP to reconnect with a Vietnamese community that's likely to grow in electoral importance in the future.

-- Brendan Miniter

Quote of the Day

"I was embarrassed . . . ashamed at their treatment. They [the lawmakers] wanted to unload on [the Detroit executives in last week's bailout hearings]. They wanted to grandstand, smack them around. . . . I said to [GM Chief] Rick [Wagoner], 'You're a better man than me.' I would have told the committee, 'Kiss my butt,' and walked out" - mega-auto dealer and Nascar championship team owner Rick Hendrick, on last week's Congressional hearings with the Big Three auto makers.

Baby Al, It's Cold Outside

Al Gore is having a bad decade. So far, 2000-2008 has seen a very slight cooling. According to Climate Research News, "This year is set to be the coolest since 2000."

Even more amazing is that 2009 isn't expected to get any better for Democrats on Capitol Hill who will be pushing cap-and-trade legislation to slow down catastrophic global warming. The Farmer's Almanac predicts another colder than usual year in 2009 with the highest snowfall in years. We will see if the 200-year-old Farmer's Almanac is more reliable than the NASA multi-billion dollar climate forecasting models.

More bad news for the "heat is on" crowd: A new U.S. military report says that "scientific conclusions about the causes and potential effects of global warming are contradictory." The report, titled Joint Operating Environment 2008, states that global warming's impact on rising sea levels, hurricanes and other natural disasters is "controversial." Why? Because, as the report correctly notes, scientists themselves are in disagreement about what a warming planet would mean: "Some argue that there will be more and greater storms and natural disasters, others that there will be fewer."

Environmentalists are quick to respond that a few years of cooling prove nothing, and they are mostly right. But the important point is that the global climate computer models -- which Mr. Gore cites in his Oscar-winning docudrama "An Inconvenient Truth" and which are the sole basis for predictions of dangerous human-caused warming -- have a terrible track record when matched against actual climate experience. Many of the same alarmists who now downplay a year or two (or eight) of cooling once pointed to the seemingly hot years in 2004 and 2005 as proof positive of manmade global warming. Most readers will remember the screaming headlines about the "The Hottest Year Ever." But as we've learned since, the data were actually in error. The hottest years of the past century were in the 1930s, before 90% of the manmade carbon emissions even took place. Talk about inconvenient truths.

The latest cooling data give the alarmists something really to be alarmed about. Precisely because the science is so uncertain, anecdotes have tended to drive public and political perception of climate change. But the anecdotes today are of a planet that has stopped warming and may be cooling, and of climate lobbyists who repeatedly have been forced to back off their most alarming claims about recent temperature trends.

-- Stephen Moore

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« Reply #237 on: December 09, 2008, 01:05:41 PM »

For the RNC, What Kind of 'Conservative'?

The race for the GOP party chairmanship has now jelled. Some 168 members of the Republican National Committee will make their selection from a half-dozen candidates at their meeting in Washington D.C. on January 29.

All of the candidates claim to be conservative, all insist that the party has to compete in states outside its Southern and Western bases, and all agree that the party needs to rediscover its basic principles.

But there are variations in approach.

Mike Duncan, the current RNC chairman, is running a low-key campaign touting his technocratic skills and taking some credit for the party's successes in Georgia and Louisiana runoff elections this month. Michael Steele, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland who is a frequent guest on Fox News, is a little more moderate on social issues than some of the other candidates, saying that Republican Congressional leaders misjudged the mood of the country when they pressed for a federal solution in the case of Terri Schiavo, a comatose woman who was allowed to die in accord with her husband's wishes. Mr. Steele has a good headstart in building support among Republicans who like his direct style and smooth television presence.

Other candidates include: Former Tennessee Republican Chairman Chip Saltsman, who made many contacts this year while managing Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign and is seen as someone in accord with the former Arkansas governor's populist pitch; Saul Anuzis, the chair of the Michigan GOP, who appeals to many Northeastern Republicans who say that the party needs to get away from its over-reliance on support in Southern states; and Katon Dawson, the current chair of the South Carolina party, who says the party can't afford geographic snobbery and is sending out a slick DVD touting his achievements in building a state party.

Last week, a new entrant joined the field. Ken Blackwell, a former state treasurer and secretary of state in Ohio who was his party's gubernatorial candidate in 2006, sent a letter to all RNC members. He calls for returning the party to its Reaganite roots and touts internal reform at the RNC, including "spending smarter, replacing staff and consultants and modernizing our fundraising infrastructure." Mr. Blackwell is the favorite of many movement conservatives, having served on the boards of the National Rifle Association, the National Taxpayers Union and the Club for Growth.

But this will be no conventional election. RNC members are concerned not just with the big picture but also with two very parochial issues: Members want somebody who will keep them personally in the loop on what's happening inside the party, and they also recognize the need for a good manager to keep on top of the sprawling Republican National Committee army of staff members and consultants.

"It's fair to say that the Republican Party has a habit of retaining old consultants and old Beltway players for far too long," one RNC member told me. "We saw the benefit the Obama campaign got by getting some fresh blood for their campaign versus the sluggish response of the retreads around Hillary Clinton. I think the candidate who is most likely to win is the one who will solve the party's 'staff infection.'"

-- John Fund

That Immigration Dog Don't Hunt

National and Louisiana Democrats pulled out all the stops in trying to elect longtime Shreveport District Attorney Paul Carmouche to Congress last Saturday. They touted Mr. Carmouche's anti-crime record and ran ads attacking Republican John Fleming, a physician, for advocating a private alternative to Social Security. Barack Obama taped a radio ad calling on voters to send Mr. Carmouche to Washington so he could back the Obama agenda.

But Democrats also made a blatant attempt to poach conservative votes from Mr. Fleming by attacking him on the immigration issue. Earlier this year, Dr. Fleming spoke in favor of allowing easier entry for foreigners with valid work permits and expressed general support for legal immigration: "We will welcome the positive contributions that they can make to our society. We will encourage them to [pursue] the American dream. And when they become citizens, we will gladly call them our fellow Americans."

Mr. Carmouche claimed Mr. Fleming's position was tantamount to wanting to bring more illegal immigrants into the U.S. "We certainly don't need to bus illegal aliens into the country, to take jobs that belong to Americans," he said in a recent debate. He told voters that on immigration, he was "completely in opposition to my opponent, John Fleming."

Mr. Fleming evenly responded that he supported strict enforcement of border controls, but bravely added that a policy that focused only on enforcement could only go so far. "Just simply deporting [people] is not going to solve the problem," he told voters.

In the end, voters had a clear choice. The final outcome was very close, but in a very anti-Republican year and running a handpicked centrist candidate, Democrats still lost. The lesson appears to be one that more than a few Republican candidates have learned in recent years: While a hard line on immigration may poll well, its concrete political benefits at the ballot box remain elusive.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"We've never seen anything like [Barack Obama's campaign organization] in this country. They have 4 million contributors, but they have several million more people who are on their e-mail lists. That's just a very, very powerful base for grassroots lobbying . . . We probably put too much weight on [having 60 Democratic votes for a filibuster-proof Senate majority] and not enough weight on the fact that a lot of Republicans, I think, either genuinely want to cooperate or are going to be fearful of the political consequences of not cooperating with President Obama in a period like this. So I think you'll see Arlen Specter, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and even some more conservative Republicans -- John McCain, for example, on issues like torture and Guantanamo could end up being a real ally of the new president" -- Democratic strategist and former John Kerry campaign manager Bob Shrum, in a Q&A with National Journal's XM Radio show.

Quote of the Day II

"On November 10, in a lengthy telephone call with numerous advisors that included discussion about Blagojevich obtaining a lucrative job with a union-affiliated organization in exchange for appointing a particular Senate Candidate whom he believed was favored by the President-elect and which is described in more detail below, Blagojevich and others discussed various ways Blagojevich could 'monetize' the relationships he has made as governor to make money after leaving that office . . . . Throughout the intercepted conversations, Blagojevich also allegedly spent significant time weighing the option of appointing himself to the open Senate seat and expressed a variety of reasons for doing so, including: frustration at being 'stuck' as governor; a belief that he will be able to obtain greater resources if he is indicted as a sitting Senator as opposed to a sitting governor; a desire to remake his image in consideration of a possible run for President in 2016; avoiding impeachment by the Illinois legislature; making corporate contacts that would be of value to him after leaving public office; facilitating his wife’s employment as a lobbyist; and generating speaking fees should he decide to leave public office"-- from a Justice Department press release today announcing the arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris on federal corruption charges.

Kozying Up with the Dalai Lama

President Nicolas Sarkozy has been regaining lost ground in the French polls, despite the global financial crisis and France's rising unemployment and personal controveries. Over the weekend, he further bolstered his popularity with a risky but crowd-pleasing move: meeting the Dalai Lama.

Mr. Sarkozy's sit-down on Saturday in Gdansk, Poland was his first meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader, who was in Poland to attend a gathering of Nobel Laureates. China's reaction was the usual fit of pique, which French Minister for Human Rights Rama Yade described as a "psychodrama." Not only did Beijing cancel a trade summit that was supposed to take place in Lyons on December 1. An editorial in the People's Daily denounced Mr. Sarkozy as "stubborn" and called his move "provocative and dangerous." The paper added: "He must pay for it."

"I am free to decide on my agenda as president of the French Republic," Mr. Sarkozy told reporters in response. "I represent values, convictions."

In this case, he also represented Europe's love affair with the Dalai Lama. In April, pro-Tibet protesters attacked the Olympic torch as it relayed through Paris. And last week, in honor of the Dalai Lama's visit, some 30 members of the European Parliament fasted for a day to greet his arrival.

But trade is important too. And more worrisome than the fulminating of the Chinese-language People's Daily may have been Beijing's English-language paper, China Daily, which warned darkly that the spat might hurt the image of such French brands as the Carrefour supermarket chain and Louis Vuitton luxury goods, both of which do good business on the mainland.

Having earned his bouquets for meeting the Dalai Lama, Mr. Sarkozy on Monday quickly tried to limit the damage by dispelling any notion that he was stirring up Tibetan separatism, saying there is "only one China."

-- Leslie Hook

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« Reply #238 on: December 11, 2008, 12:10:32 PM »

The Son Almost Rises

One key political casualty in the fallout from the Blagojevich scandal is likely to be Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who yesterday stepped forward to acknowledge he was "Senate Candidate 5" in the federal criminal complaint against Illinois' governor.

According to federal prosecutors, Mr. Blagojevich told allies that a representative of Candidate 5 had approached him on a "pay to play" basis and offered over $1 million in contributions in exchange for appointing Rep. Jackson as the U.S. Senator replacing Barack Obama.

Mr. Jackson said he had nothing to do with any such offer, although his attorney indicated that it was possible someone in Mr. Jackson's orbit had approached the governor without his consent.

Regardless of what ultimately happens legally, Mr. Jackson has now been captured on tape reading carefully from a prepared statement denying his guilt and then refusing to take questions from reporters on the advice of his attorneys -- hardly a launching platform to political greatness.

Mr. Jackson has been angling for a bigger political stage to play on for years, having frequently clashed with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley to the point that he almost challenged him for the office in 2007. Lately, though, the fiery congressman from Chicago's South Side had made peace with the Daley machine and was on track to secure its blessing for a bid for statewide office. At a breakfast held at last fall's Democratic National Convention in Denver, Mr. Jackson effusively hugged Mayor Daley and had to use a tissue to wipe away some tears as he explained the meaning of the reconciliation. "I've been trying to get to know Mayor Daley for 14 years," he told the assembled crowd.

Political reporters interpreted the performance as an obvious attempt to secure Mr. Daley's blessing as the next U.S. Senator from Illinois. It was a good strategy, but it crashed and burned this week as Mr. Jackson was caught up in L'Affaire Blagojevich.

Now, instead of moving to the U.S. Senate, Mr. Jackson faces months of uncertainty as federal prosecutors probe his relationship to the disgraced Illinois governor and the possible indictment of his associates or even himself.

-- John Fund

Kissing the Olympic Rings Goodbye?

Chicago's Olympic committee is holding its breath, hoping that the high-profile drama surrounding Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's arrest on federal corruption charges won't adversely impact the city's bid to win the 2016 Games. Earlier this year, Chicago was announced as one of the four finalists by the IOC along with Tokyo, Madrid, and Rio de Janeiro.

Though generally considered an underdog, most observers believe the election of Barack Obama as president significantly boosted Chicago's chances of becoming only the fourth American city to host the Games (St. Louis hosted in 1904, Los Angeles in 1984, and Atlanta in 1996). Indeed, Mr. Obama wasted no time in putting his new global clout to work on behalf of the Windy City: One of his first acts as President-elect was to tape a video message to IOC members that was submitted along with city's final bid on November 21.

"The United States would be honored to have the opportunity to host the games and serve the Olympic movement," Mr. Obama said in the video. "As president-elect, I see the Olympics and Paralympic Games as an opportunity for our nation to reach out, welcome the world to our shores and strengthen our friendships across the globe."

Olympic officials say Governor Blagojevich hasn't played much of a role in the bidding process thus far, but the Governor did pledge to contribute $150 million in guaranteed state funds as part of Chicago's overall $1.5 billion bid package to the IOC. These financial guarantees are critical to Chicago's chances, since Chicago is the only city among the final four whose financial commitments are not being fully backed by the host country's national government.

Initial reactions suggest that while the Blagojevich scandal is unseemly and not necessarily helpful in the short term, it won't have much impact, if any, on the final outcome. Then again, the IOC won't make the final decision until next October, and in the world of Chicago politics, who knows what could happen by then.

-- Tom Bevan, executive editor of

Those Tragic Al Franken Voters

Al Franken, the Democratic Senate candidate locked in an acrimonious recount battle with GOP Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota, has turned to to make the case that Minnesota officials aren't counting ballots that should be counted.

The Franken campaign released its latest video just before the State Canvassing Board's scheduled meeting on Friday, in an effort to convince the board to count several hundred absentee ballots that Team Franken claims were rejected for specious reasons. The video, which features seven voters who claim their votes should have been counted, is an effective piece of propaganda. As the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports: "In one scene, quadriplegic Mike Brickley of Bloomington is shown lying in bed -- with his head resting on a Minnesota Vikings pillow -- as he pleads with officials to count his vote."

Mr. Brickley tells the camera: "I may be a quadriplegic, but we are still someone, and we deserve to have our votes counted."

The Coleman campaign claims Mr. Brickley had his ballot rejected because officials found he was not registered to vote and that his signature on the absentee ballot didn't match the one used on the application for an absentee ballot. Mr. Brickley maintains he was registered and that his wife had to sign his ballot on his behalf because of his disability.

If Mr. Brickley is indeed registered to vote, I have no doubt a way will be found to have his ballot counted. But his hard-luck case doesn't address the many thousands of absentee ballots rejected for legitimate reasons. With Mr. Coleman holding a lead of between 190 and 300 votes as the recount ends, Mr. Franken has little chance of winning unless he can convince state officials to count a large number of absentee ballots that were originally rejected for not meeting legal requirements. There is precious little evidence that enough such ballots exist to turn the tide.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"When it comes to Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Dead Meat), many national TV talking heads can't resist playing amateur psychiatrist. 'He's crazy,' said one talking head of our governor. 'A sociopath!' said another. 'He should have been put in a straitjacket, not handcuffs,' said a third, all of them diagnosing Blagojevich as cuckoo. . . .
  • ne thing is clear: The pundits who make such diagnoses have never talked to a Chicago machine politician in their lives. How do they think Chicago politicians talk in private when they're muscling some other guy for cash? Like Helen Mirren playing the queen?" -- Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass.

Quote of the Day II

"Idiocy and greed aren't just for Republicans. For every Larry Craig, there's an Eliot Spitzer; for every Ted Stevens, there's a Rod Blagojevich. In our heads, we Democrats know that. It's just that in our hearts, we don't want to believe it. Because we're the good guys, right? But it's precisely when a party achieves power that its members need to start worrying the most about idiocy and greed. . . Gaining political power also corrupts in far more subtle ways. Members of political majorities succumb easily to smugness and complacency, to the conviction that explaining and justifying ideas is no longer necessary, to the temptation to dismiss critics as so many irrelevant cranks. 'Groupthink' is mainly a disease of the powerful and complacent, not the fractious opposition" -- Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks.

The Next Senator from New Yawk?

When Hillary Clinton vacates her Senate seat, there won't be any need for another carpetbagger to fill the spot. Among those applying for the job is Fran Drescher, star of "The Nanny" and a childhood resident of the outer boroughs of New York City. The actress best known for her role as a nasally New Yorker feels she could play that role just as convincingly in the U.S. Senate.

Ms. Drescher's publicist notes that she has been an advocate for women's health, notably the "Cancer Schmancer" movement, encouraging early testing. For that matter, she's also been a public diplomacy envoy for the State Department, a frequent visitor to Capitol Hill to lobby for cancer funding, and a fixture at Democratic conventions and fundraisers. For a celebrity, in other words, she's been far more of a political workhorse than, say, fellow small-screener and loud mouth Al Franken.

The rap on Ms. Drescher, of course, has always been that she's too annoying to listen to. Then again, being known for whining isn't necessarily a liability in politics. As she told People Magazine, her audiences on the lecture circuit have been goading her to get into politics for ages. "It was one of the single most-asked questions: When are you going to run? Only second to: Is that your real voice?"

Why should New York Gov. David Paterson pick her to fill the Hillary seat? "I would hope he would take into consideration that I'm a beloved New Yorker who gets the New York constituents probably as good, if not better, than any of the other people being considered," she told People magazine.

One other potential qualification is that Ms. Drescher was an energetic Hillary supporter in the Democratic primaries. If Mrs. Clinton has a say, the Nanny might be a shoo-in compared to current pollster favorite Caroline Kennedy, who famously stiffed her home-state senator and instead came out for Barack Obama.

-- Collin Levy

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« Reply #239 on: December 12, 2008, 12:49:07 PM »

The New Blacklist

Hollywood has spent more than half a century railing against the anti-Communist blacklists of the 1950s that prevented some people from working in the movie industry. Woody Allen, George Clooney and countless other celebrities have produced liberal-minded films purporting to show how evil the blacklist was and upbraiding those who were silent while it was imposed.

Well, a real live blacklist is going on in California now and only a few liberals are daring to question it. Last month, after California voters approved Proposition 8 prohibiting gay marriage, many activists were bound and determined to hound anyone who supported the measure. Scott Eckern, artistic director of the California Musical Theater in Sacramento, the state's largest nonprofit performing arts company, donated $1,000 to the "Yes on 8" campaign. Protests from the producer of the Broadway musical "Hairspray" and many other show business people soon forced him to resign.

Similarly, Los Angeles Film Festival Director Richard Raddon was forced to step down after it was revealed he had donated $1,500 to "Yes on 8." The festival's organizer put out a statement blandly saying, "Our organization does not police the personal, religious or political choices of any employee, member or filmmaker." Behind the scenes, however, many of the festival's board members pressured Mr. Raddon to resign. "From now on, no one in entertainment is going to feel safe making a donation as measly as $100 to a conservative defense-of-marriage campaign," says Brent Bozell, head of the conservative Media Research Center.

Nor is the modern-day blacklist confined to entertainment. This week, Marjorie Christoffersen, manager of the famous Los Angeles restaurant El Coyote, resigned after her restaurant was subjected to a month of boycotts and demonstrations because she had contributed $100 to the campaign against gay marriage. Ms. Christoffersen, who had been with El Coyote for 26 years, insisted her stance had nothing to do with prejudice against gays, but rather with her Mormon faith. That didn't impress the blacklisters. Fellow employees at El Coyote vouched for her kindness to gay employees, including personally paying for the mother of an employee who died of AIDS to attend his funeral. That didn't matter either. And neither did the fact that the managers of El Coyote sent $10,000 to gay groups to "make up" for Ms. Christofferson's contribution. The boycott continued.

The slowdown in business forced Ms. Christoffersen to leave, prompting Charles Karal Bouley, a former columnist for the gay publication The Advocate, to ask in the Huffington Post if the reaction against some Prop 8 supporters hasn't been "overkill." "Marjorie Christoffersen had the right to donate $100 to yes on 8," he wrote. "Americans have the right to be wrong. . . . Even Barack Obama said marriage was between a man and a woman at a time when we needed his voice on our side on equality. He let us down, too, remember, and many of you still gave him a job."

At least the Hollywood blacklist targeted those who either professed Communist sympathies or refused to sign loyalty oaths. As columnist Maggie Gallagher points out, "Targeting an entire business because one person associated with it made (in their personal capacity) a donation to a cause is brand new." Some gay activists are one step away from claiming that if someone disagrees with them, they shouldn't be allowed to work anywhere. The original Hollywood blacklist never went that far, but you won't see any movies made about the current intolerance mounted against supporters of traditional marriage.

-- John Fund

The Spector of Specter

Last night’s auto bailout collapse was not the last word on taxpayer dollars for Detroit, but the showdown was certainly a down payment on an even bigger Senate fight next year over labor unions.

In a conference call with bloggers yesterday, Republican Senator Jim DeMint said the biggest battle in next year’s Congress would be over card check legislation -- and pointed to Republican Senator Arlen Specter as the weak point in Republican defenses.

You might think Detroit’s troubles would be a warning against enlarging union power to dictate wages and terms to American business. Card check would allow union organizers to take over workplaces without a secret ballot vote. But Mr. Specter faced a tough primary fight in 2004 from conservative GOP Rep. Pat Toomey, and won largely because the state AFL-CIO strongly urged its Republican members to support him. Mr. Specter paid the union back by voting for card check in 2007, albeit at a time when Republicans had enough votes to stop it from becoming law.

Next year, Democrats will likely be only two votes short of the 60 votes needed in the Senate. And if Al Franken prevails in the Minnesota recount, Mr. Specter could end up being the deciding vote. Already, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Chief Bill George is telling reporters that the card check vote would be “critical” in determining whether the union throws its weight behind Mr. Specter again. Meanwhile, conservative activist Grover Norquist and Mr. Toomey, who now runs the Club for Growth, are laying down markers for Mr. Specter on the right. Mr. Toomey tells The Hill newspaper he might consider running against Mr. Specter again in the 2010 primary if Mr. Specter supports labor's agenda.

This morning, the UAW’s Ron Gettelfinger blamed failure of the auto bailout talks on GOP desire to get a “win” in advance of the card check fight. The talks collapsed over Democratic refusal to force the UAW to accept a reduction in wages and benefits to match the transplant factories of the foreign manufacturers.

Mr. Gettelfinger didn’t quite say so, but card check is also part of Big Labor’s increasingly hopeless strategy to preserve its Big Three pay levels. The idea is to drive up wage and benefit costs at Toyota, Nissan and other transplants. Card check is key. The UAW has racked up a goose egg in 20 years of trying to organize the foreign-owned plants, and Detroit's recent troubles are not exactly a big advertisement to workers in Tennessee or Alabama to welcome the UAW. Whether even card check would help is doubtful in any case. But certainly a process that continues to rely on a secret ballot free from intimidation is unlikely to advance the UAW’s cause.

-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

Quote of the Day

"Like his memoir, Fugitive Days , 'The Real Bill Ayers' is a sentimentalized, self-justifying whitewash of his role in the weirdo violent fringe of the 1960s-70s antiwar left. 'I never killed or injured anyone,' Ayers writes. 'In 1970, I co-founded the Weather Underground, an organization that was created after an accidental explosion that claimed the lives of three of our comrades in Greenwich Village.' Right. Those people belonged to Weatherman, as did Ayers himself and Bernardine Dohrn, now his wife. Weatherman, Weather Underground, completely different! And never mind either that that 'accidental explosion' was caused by the making of a nail bomb intended for a dance at Fort Dix. . . . I wish Ayers would make a real apology for the harm he did to the antiwar movement and the left. . . . I'd like him to say he's sorry for his part in the destruction of Students for a Democratic Society. He's sorry he helped Nixon make the antiwar movement look like the enemy of ordinary people. He's sorry for his more-radical-than-thou posturing, and the climate of apocalyptic nuttiness he helped fuel . . ." -- columnist Katha Pollitt, writing in The Nation magazine, in response to a New York Times op-ed by Obama friend and former Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers.

In Search of . . . Margaret Thatcher

Britain's Conservative Party was depressed to learn this week that it's not making up a great deal of ground against Prime Minister Gordon Brown despite a U.K. economy even harder hit by the credit crisis than the U.S.

On the third anniversary of David Cameron's rise to become leader of the Tories, a new Times of London poll shows his party garnering the support of just 39% of Britons. These are lousy numbers for a party long out of power and with the opportunity to blame a serious recession on Mr. Brown's Labour Party. The only good news for Conservatives is that Labour's approval rating is even lower at 35%, not much higher than George W. Bush's numbers.

Maybe that's why down is beginning to look a little like up to Conservatives, who've been on the wrong side of British pollsters for more than a decade. Mr. Cameron, who figures to square off against Mr. Brown in an election in 2009 or 2010, finally has begun differentiating himself from Mr. Brown's tax-and-spend policies. He has been warning voters of Labour's "unsustainably high" spending and of the inevitable tax hikes ahead. Some see this as evidence Tories are finally recapturing their Thatcherite mojo. In the last three years, Mr. Cameron has made many mistakes, from messily fussing over the Conservative "brand" to lacking an early and articulate rebuttal to Mr. Brown's statist maneuvers. Many voters on the right still wonder just how conservative this Conservative Party leader really is. He remains a vocal supporter of public services such as the National Health Service, one of the biggest reasons for uncontrolled spending growth.

Mr. Cameron's challenge is not dissimilar to the challenge faced by Republicans in Washington. After an orgy of "Big Government" conservatism, the latter are now trying to regain their status as a voice for fiscal restraint amid a crisis-spawned explosion of interventionism. Of course, it doesn't help that a president of their own party has been a big contributor to the spree. Mr. Cameron at least has the advantage of being able to sound a more credible trumpet -- if he's willing to use it. It took a decade of economic crisis on both sides of the Atlantic before voters gave the Thatcher-Reagan solution a chance. Let's hope it doesn't take so long this time.

« Reply #240 on: December 12, 2008, 03:42:00 PM »

A long National Taxpayers Union piece about congressional perks. Particularly galling is information about congressional felons still drawing pensions:
« Reply #241 on: December 12, 2008, 07:59:04 PM »

Good look at Illinois politics and corruption:
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« Reply #242 on: December 16, 2008, 11:48:04 AM »

Can David Paterson Say 'No' to a Kennedy?

Media reaction to news that Caroline Kennedy is actively seeking appointment to the U.S. Senate seat held by Hillary Clinton was certainly different from how the media responded to Sarah Palin's arrival on the national stage. Mrs. Palin may have been a mayor, chairwoman of a major state regulatory commission and a governor, but her entrance into big-time politics was widely ridiculed.

In contrast, the 51-year-old Ms. Kennedy is a shy and private person who has never held a job in public life beyond her 22 months planning strategic partnerships for New York City's public schools. She has co-authored books such as "The Right to Privacy" and also co-chaired Barack Obama's vice-presidential selection committee.

But her political experience is painfully limited. A family friend, noting that she had never campaigned for anyone outside her immediate family before Mr. Obama, had to reach in explaining to Newsweek magazine that she could handle the rigors of campaigning. "She worked rope lines and spoke at campaign stops for Obama and was not turned off by that," the friend said. "In fact, she enjoyed herself."

There is no doubt Ms. Kennedy could raise tens of millions of dollars for the two Senate races she would have to run in quick succession -- one in 2010 for the remaining two years of Mrs. Clinton's term and another in 2012 for a full six-year term. She no doubt would also receive the same kind of kid-glove treatment from most of the media that Barack Obama has.

But don't count on a Kennedy continuing the dynasty that has kept a member of the family in the U.S. Senate for all but two of the last 56 years. A key factor in who will be appointed to the Senate seat is how the selection would benefit the political interests of New York Governor David Paterson, the man who will make the decision.

Mr. Paterson is himself a governor who happened into his job by accident after the spectacular fall of Eliot Spitzer. With a slowing economy, the prospect of massive tax increases and a volatile group of special interests making demands on the state's budget, his job in winning a full term in his own right won't be easy.

That's why the safest choice for Mr. Paterson might be to appoint state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who has been viewed as a possible primary challenger to the governor in 2010. Promoting Mr. Cuomo would remove the largest single obstacle to Mr. Paterson's election to the office he now holds, but it might also irritate women voters who were used to having Mrs. Clinton represent New York in the nation's capital.

"My heart goes out to David Paterson," Democratic political strategist Dan Gerstein says. "He's sadly become the grand champion of the no-win situation. No matter who he picks, he will alienate a lot of different communities."

Now, with Ms. Kennedy's openly public interest in going to the U.S. Senate, the question is whether he is willing to "just say no" to the Democratic Party's most powerful family dynasty.

-- John Fund

Obama's School Choice Is to Punt

In picking Chicago public schools chief Arne Duncan to be his Education Secretary, Barack Obama chose a middle course between appointing a fiery reformer and a favorite of the politically powerful teachers' unions that backed his candidacy.

Mr. Obama had been under pressure from liberals to appoint Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford University education professor viewed as an "old guard" defender of the educational status quo. On the other hand, many of his business supporters were backing Joel Klein, chancellor of New York City's public schools and someone who has often confronted teacher unions.

Mr. Obama instead opted for Mr. Duncan, a friend and Hyde Park neighbor who has often played basketball with the President-elect. Nonetheless, education reformers pronounced themselves pleased with the choice. Whitney Tilson, a founder of Democrats for Education Reform, said he had been impressed by Mr. Duncan's support for merit pay for teachers and willingness to shut down some failing public schools. Mr. Tilson said Mr. Duncan had been able to bring "real change" to the nation's third largest public school system and was the "perfect balance of being strong and getting what he wants and doing it in a way that wins."

All that may be true, but after seven years of Mr. Duncan's tenure in Chicago, its schools still remain seriously troubled. Mr. Obama, for his part, certainly never entrusted his own children to the Chicago public school system -- even schools in the affluent Hyde Park neighborhood where he lived. Instead, he sent both of his children to private schools -- as he intends to do when he moves to Washington, D.C.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"For the last decade or so, the Democrats have not been as strong on education reform as the Republicans have. The Republicans have been much, much better, in my opinion, on ensuring strict accountability for schools and for districts, for ensuring that people are held responsible for closing the achievement gap and significantly increasing student achievement levels for every single child. What worries me about the Democrats is that they tend to be softer on these things, and soft is not what we need right now. Allowing schools to continue to fail year in and year out without significant ramifications either to the district or to the school is doing a disservice to the children. . . . I don't think it's too much for the children of this country to ask for to have somebody who's leading the education system who is always going to put their interests first and foremost, who is not going to care about the politics, the political flak, how many adults get mad at them, keeping the adults happy" -- District of Columbia Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, on why despite being an Obama voter she is "somewhat terrified of what the Democrats are going to do on education," in an interview with's Amy Harder.

What If Sarah Palin Had Come from Chicago and Barack Obama from Alaska?

What's the difference between a hockey mom and a Chicago pol?

Apparently, it's more than lipstick. During the presidential campaign, Sarah Palin was criticized for having too thin a résumé to be vice president. But one portion of her record stands out now as being particularly relevant in the wake of Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich's arrest last week and Barack Obama's long-standing silence of Chicago ethics.

In 2003, Ms. Palin was appointed chairwoman and ethics supervisor of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission by then-Gov. Frank Murkowski. Before long she spotted what appeared to be ethical violations by fellow Republicans and also found the governor's response to be so sluggish that it bordered on willful blindness. The two Republicans she pointed fingers at were Randy Ruedrich, the state GOP chairman and a fellow oil and gas commissioner, and Gregg Renkes, the state's attorney general. Her beef with Mr. Ruedrich was that he appeared to be too close to a company he was supposed to be regulating. And Mr. Renkes appeared to have a financial conflict of interest in negotiating a coal-exporting trade agreement.

Mrs. Palin blew the whistle internally on both men. When nothing happened, she quit less than two years into her term. Later, when she was criticized by some Republicans for unfairly pointing an accusatory finger, she penned an op-ed and, using her famous hockey-mom metaphor, underlined the importance of holding government officials -- even members of her own party -- to high ethical standards. The incident cemented her reputation as a reformer when both men were later forced to resign and Mr. Ruedrich paid a $12,000 fine. Mrs. Palin went on to unseat Mr. Murkowski in a hard-fought GOP primary in 2006.

Compare this record to Mr. Obama's. An ethical cloud has been hanging over Mr. Blagojevich for years. We now know federal officials began looking into his affairs within months after he was elected in 2002. Mr. Obama came up in Chicago politics, shared at least one fundraiser with Mr. Blagojevich -- Tony Rezko, who was recently convicted of fraud and bribery -- and several other acquaintances, including top labor officials. But he apparently never saw any reason to publicly question the governor's ethics. In the past week the Obama camp has been compiling a list of contacts with Mr. Blagojevich and his inner circle since Election Day, which it will supposedly release next week. When that list comes out, let's hope it accurately portrays the overlap between the Obama and Blagojevich circles in Chicago. The question that will remain, however, is why didn't Mr. Obama ever assume the type of leadership role Mrs. Palin did in moving against public corruption within his own party and state?

-- Brendan Miniter

« Reply #243 on: December 18, 2008, 11:10:13 AM »

I couldn't come up with a better topic to publish this under, so point me toward one if you know of it. As that may be, seems we are always being told that reducing the speed limit will reduce accident, though this recent study shows only about 5% of accidents are speed related. As an admitted speeder, albeit one who signals lane changes, keeps to the right lane except to pass, who doesn't tailgate or or drive aggressively, etc. and who drives a lot, my experience is that the folks who are most dangerous are the ones who are distracted and ego-driven. This report confirms the distracted element, though it appears the methodology doesn't allow for ego issues to be derived. One hopes policy makers will heed the findings rather than reflexively lowering speed limits.

Article from:

US DOT Report Confirms Speed Not Major Accident Cause
US Department of Transportation study finds only five percent of crashes caused by excessive speed.

As lawmakers around the country continue to consider speed limit enforcement as the primary traffic safety measure, the most comprehensive examination of accident causation in thirty years suggests this focus on speed may be misplaced.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigated 5,471 injury crashes that took place across the country between July 3, 2005 and December 31, 2007. Unlike previous studies automatically generated from computerized data found in police reports, researchers in this effort were dispatched to accident scenes before they were cleared. This allowed a first-hand comparison of physical evidence with direct interviews of witnesses and others involved in the incident. NHTSA evaluated the data to determine the factors most responsible for the collision.

"The critical reason is determined by a thorough evaluation of all the potential problems related to errors attributable to the driver, the condition of the vehicle, failure of vehicle systems, adverse environmental conditions, and roadway design," the report explained. "The critical pre-crash event refers to the action or the event that puts a vehicle on the course that makes the collision unavoidable, given reasonable driving skills and vehicle handling of the driver."

Overall, vehicles "traveling too fast for conditions" accounted for only five percent of the critical pre-crash events (page 23). More significant factors included 22 percent driving off the edge of a road, or 11 percent who drifted over the center dividing line.

When driver error was the primary cause of a crash, researchers went further to identify the "critical reason" behind that error. Distraction and not paying attention to the road accounted for 41 percent of the errors. Ten percent of errors were attributed to drivers lacking proper driving skills and either freezing up or overcompensating behind the wheel. Eight percent were asleep, having a heart attack or otherwise incapacitated. A similar eight percent of errors were attributed to driving too fast for conditions and five percent driving too fast for a curve (page 25).

The NHTSA findings are mirrored in accident statistics provided by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. The agency's most recent report lists "speed too fast" as the driver error that caused 2.9 percent of crashes in 2007 (view chart, see page 19). More accidents -- 3.8 percent -- were caused in Virginia by drivers falling asleep or becoming ill behind the wheel. Another 14.6 percent were caused by bad weather such as fog, rain and snow. "Speed too fast" was a more significant factor -- 13.7 percent -- in fatal accidents, as compared to 18 percent of fatal accidents involving alcohol and 9.6 percent caused by sleepiness and fatigue ( view full Virginia report in 1.9mb PDF format).

In the NHTSA and Virginia reports, "too fast for conditions" does not mean exceeding the posted speed limit. A vehicle driving 10 MPH on an iced-over road with a 45 MPH limit would be traveling too fast for the conditions if it lost control, but it would not have exceeded the speed limit. The UK Department for Transport isolated cases where only the posted limit was exceeded and found that, "Exceeding speed limit was attributed to 3 percent of cars involved in accidents" (view UK report).

"Four of the six most frequently reported contributory factors involved driver or rider error or reaction," the Road Casualties Great Britain 2007 report stated. "For fatal accidents the most frequently reported contributory factor was loss of control, which was involved in 35 per cent of fatal accidents."

A full copy of the NHTSA report is available in a 400k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (U.S. Department of Transportation, 7/15/2008)

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Posts: 7831

« Reply #244 on: December 18, 2008, 03:16:35 PM »

From recent Newsweek mag.  I only get NsWk because I got it for free from frequent flier miles.  It is left wing propaganda de jour a la MSNBC so I don't care for their incredibly biased articles. 
This article about Jindal who is hard core in his right wing beliefs but also a more centrist pragmatist in reality is of note.  Is this the kind of rough roadmap answer for the Cans to make a comeback some day?  I don't know, but anyway here it is:
Their Own Obama
Bobby Jindal is in no way running for president. Or so he told Iowa.

Published Dec 13, 2008
From the magazine issue dated Dec 22, 2008
Bobby Jindal is in a hurry. It was only an hour ago that the Louisiana governor, 37, landed near the town of Longville (population: 2,462) and descended from his helicopter, Pelican One, into an SUV bound for the local Baptist church. And it'll be only a little while before Jindal reboards the chopper and resumes a tour that will, by bedtime tomorrow, take him to Breaux Bridge, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Arcadia and, finally, New Orleans—a typical, 1,000-mile, midweek excursion for the boyish politician who rarely bothers to eat or urinate when traveling, which is almost always.

But in the meantime, Jindal must answer The Question. Ever since arriving at the Longville church for today's event, the governor has been sprinting through his "New Louisiana" stump speech, a self-promotional recap of his 10 months in office, at the relentless pace expected of a guy who graduated from Brown at 21, completed his Rhodes scholarship at 23, ran Louisiana's Health and Hospitals department at 25, presided over the University of Louisiana system at 28 and served in Washington as an assistant secretary of health and human services and two-term U.S. congressman before becoming the country's first Indian-American governor at the advanced age of 36. Swimming in his blue blazer, the 5-foot-11, 135-pound Jindal looks more like a bashful science-fair contestant than the latest successor to flamboyant Louisiana Gov. Huey Long, and if it weren't for Jindal's lavish Southern drawl, he'd risk sounding more like one, too; this morning's remarks, like nearly everything he says, have consisted largely of the phrase "a couple of things" followed by a flurry of details, statistics and multipart plans.

Now Clyde Dennis wants to know how hurried Jindal really is. "Tell me about your national aspirations," says the burly 65-year-old justice of the peace, rising from his chair. "Keep hearing your name on TV and all that kind of stuff. We want to keep you in state here. Don't want you to go to D.C." Having fielded The Question before—after all, Jindal frequently appears on cable to explain how the GOP should "right its ship"—the governor is ready with The Answer. "I've got the job that I want," he says. "I told y'all a year ago that we've got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change our state. I want to be a part of that. And if you let me, I'm going to run for re-election. I'm not running for president. I think the American people are tired of politics, they're tired of elections, they're tired of campaigns. Anybody out there running for president four years from now, eight years from now, they're not helping themselves—and they're sure not helping their country."

 Three days later, Jindal, a Roman Catholic convert raised in a Hindu household, will repeat these lines, unprompted, at a gathering of nearly 1,000 adoring Christian activists. Which would be unremarkable, except that the event will take place not in Louisiana but in Iowa—the site, it just so happens, of the nation's first presidential caucuses.

There are plenty of rising stars in the GOP. But in the wake of Barack Obama's victory on Nov. 4, none has attracted as much speculation, curiosity and unapologetic hype as Jindal. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich recently called him "the most transformative young governor in America." Radio host Rush Limbaugh refers to him as "the next Ronald Reagan." John McCain eyed Jindal as a running mate, and Steve Schmidt, McCain's chief strategist, told The Washington Post in November that "the question is not whether he'll be president, but when he'll be president—because he will be elected someday." For his part, Jindal says he's uninterested in 2012—and given how his plan to run for re-election in November 2011 will make it near-impossible to prepare for the following January's nominating contests, he's probably telling the truth. But a veep slot—or 2016—is possible. "First of all, he's brilliant," antitax crusader Grover Norquist tells NEWSWEEK. "Two, he's from an immigrant community, so that speaks to immigrant experience, period. Three, he's a Catholic who lives his values instead of shouting at you about them. Four, he's a principled Reagan Republican. Five, he's from the South but doesn't look like a Southern sheriff. And he's got more successes as a governor, already, one year in, than George W. Bush or Obama had when they ran for president. He's exactly what we need."

This, of course, is the same sort of swooning that propelled a certain Illinois state senator to the presidency. So it's no surprise that "many prominent members of the GOP," as the Post noted, already consider Jindal their "own version of Obama"—the charismatic, nonwhite, Ivy League change agent destined to revitalize his party. Critics carp that Jindalmaniacs are simply jumping on the Benetton bandwagon, and Norquist admits that having at least one young, brown-skinned prospect is "helpful" in the age of Obama. But Jindal is no token. As his rise reveals, the governor shares with the president-elect something deeper—and, for Democrats, more dangerous—than age or color: the ability to walk between worlds. Immigrant and native, Brown and Baton Rouge, right and center, principle and pragmatism. The question now is whether Jindal can balance the dueling demands of Louisiana and Washington while preserving his fragile image as the future of the GOP. Louisiana Democratic Party spokesman Brian Welsh, for one, isn't betting against him. "Jindal's a force of nature," Welsh tells NEWSWEEK after following the governor to Iowa. "That's why I'm here, man. He's for real."

For Jindal, navigating difficult crosscurrents is nothing new. Born Piyush Jindal on June 10, 1971, to one of the few Indian families in Baton Rouge, he suddenly announced at the age of 4 that he would answer only to "Bobby," in honor of his favorite "Brady Bunch" character. Asked by NEWSWEEK why he chose an American name, Jindal insists that "there wasn't a whole lot of great thought gone into it." But Jan Daly, Jindal's English teacher, recalls that her top student "wanted to be Westernized." As a teen, Jindal rejected his parents' loose Democratic ties to become a staunch Reagan Republican—in part, he has said, because the Gipper was "very popular" and "easy to identify with." By the time Jindal arrived at Brown in 1988, he was a regular Alex P. Keaton. Arshad Ahsanuddin, a close friend, e-mails that Jindal sported "penny loafers with actual pennies in them" on campus, claiming, when confronted, that "it was the traditional way to wear that type of shoe." Since narrowly losing his first gubernatorial bid in 2003, Jindal has rarely appeared in public without cowboy boots.

Some might see Jindal as a political opportunist. But the governor's history of self-invention, yet another echo of Obama, seems less a product of ambition than of assimilation. Early on, everyone expected Jindal to fulfill the wishes of his demanding immigrant father by entering medicine—including Jindal himself. So the idea that he spent puberty polishing his political persona is a tough sell. "I never thought Bobby would run for office," says Mary Beth Guillot, his high-school principal. "He just wasn't the backslapping, glad-handing type." Instead, he has always been the consummate Organization Kid, striving to meet or exceed institutional expectations. As a college intern, he impressed Shreveport Rep. Jim McCrery with a massive manuscript on Medicare reform; five years later, he asked McCrery to recommend him for Louisiana health secretary. "How about deputy?" McCrery inquired. "No," Jindal, 24, replied. He got the interview—and the job.****
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Posts: 15533

« Reply #245 on: December 18, 2008, 03:36:57 PM »

I couldn't come up with a better topic to publish this under, so point me toward one if you know of it. As that may be, seems we are always being told that reducing the speed limit will reduce accident, though this recent study shows only about 5% of accidents are speed related. As an admitted speeder, albeit one who signals lane changes, keeps to the right lane except to pass, who doesn't tailgate or or drive aggressively, etc. and who drives a lot, my experience is that the folks who are most dangerous are the ones who are distracted and ego-driven. This report confirms the distracted element, though it appears the methodology doesn't allow for ego issues to be derived. One hopes policy makers will heed the findings rather than reflexively lowering speed limits.

**Speed may not be the cause, but the greater the speed, the greater the damage and potential for injury/death that results from the accident. The greater the speed, the less likely you are to avoid a collision with another vehicle or person.**
« Reply #246 on: December 18, 2008, 05:05:52 PM »

**Speed may not be the cause, but the greater the speed, the greater the damage and potential for injury/death that results from the accident. The greater the speed, the less likely you are to avoid a collision with another vehicle or person.**

Well yes and no; you gotta pay attention to conditions and adjust accordingly, but I'm a firm believer, particularly when two-wheeling, that you can avoid trouble by accelerating about as well as you can by decelerating. Leaving trouble behind you is a good thing, as is movement out of an area where a knucklehead is being a knucklehead.
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Posts: 9471

« Reply #247 on: December 18, 2008, 06:06:03 PM »

"One hopes policy makers will heed the findings rather than reflexively lowering speed limits."

I recall reading an idea I liked for setting speed limits - leave the road unposted for a short time and observe the flow of safe traffic.  Set the limit at the 85th percentile of observed speeds to include the safe drivers familiar with the road but leaving out enough to account for idiots, ego cases and drivers of full term pregnant woman whose water has broken.
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Posts: 15533

« Reply #248 on: December 18, 2008, 08:19:39 PM »

Driving Tips

Keep Your (Braking) Distance: More Than Just Slowing Down
By Scott Memmer and Joanne Helperin
Date Posted 11-23-2000

Although we at spend a lot of time writing about rpm, torque, 0-to-60-mph acceleration, etc., nothing is more important than your car's ability to stop itself. Knowing something about braking distances (how much ground a vehicle covers before it can fully stop) can make for safer and more enjoyable driving.

Let's start with the basics. A vehicle traveling at 60 mph covers 88 feet per second. But stopping that vehicle takes over 4.5 seconds and covers a distance of 271 feet. Why? Because there's more involved in braking than the actual time your brakes are applied to the wheels (called "effective braking"). In particular, "perception time" and "reaction time" add considerable distance to stopping your car.

Perception time is the three-quarters of a second it takes for you to realize that you need to brake. Reaction time is the three-quarters of a second it takes to move your foot to the brake pedal. When you combine perception and reaction time, a full 132 feet will pass before your car even begins to slow down from 60 mph. So from the time you perceive a braking situation until the time your car comes to a complete stop, a total of 4.6 seconds elapses. During that time your car travels — it bears repeating — a total of more than 270 feet. That's almost the length of a football field. Of course, the faster you go, the more time and distance it takes to stop.

There are other factors as well, such as road conditions. When weather is bad, your braking distance grows exponentially. On wet pavement, total braking time increases from 4.6 seconds to 6.1 seconds, and total braking distance shoots up from 271 feet to 333 feet. And it gets worse. In snowy conditions, even with snow tires, total stopping time jumps to 10.6 seconds and 533 feet. As a basis of comparison, this is roughly the same distance — actually, a little further — as the same vehicle coming to a complete stop from 90 mph on dry pavement, an effective doubling of the braking distance. Let us repeat that: a 100-percent increase.

So what do we do with all these numbers? There's nothing we can do about the weather or about road surfaces, but we can do something about the way we drive. Arming ourselves with knowledge can prevent the loss of property and human life.

First, if you drive a truck or SUV, be especially cognizant of your speed in bad weather. Sitting higher off the road than everyone else only means you'll have a better view of the passing countryside as you slam sideways into a snowbank.

Second, remember this law: That which makes you go won't make you stop. If you drive a four-wheeler, you're not immune to the laws of physics, in fact you're a bit more susceptible (if for no other reason than your overconfidence). Whether you drive an Escort or an Excursion, it doesn't matter. In fact, the heavier weight of a truck or SUV means it will take much longer to come to a stop, given its greater momentum. Repeat: four-wheel drive does not help you stop. We're tired of seeing you folks spun around on the side of the road facing the wrong way. Slow down before you hurt somebody.

Third, remember to keep a "space cushion" around your vehicle at all times — ahead, to the sides and behind your car. This can be difficult to accomplish, especially in heavy traffic where everyone is darting in and out. How close is too close when it comes to following the car ahead of you? There's a handy "3-second rule." When the vehicle ahead of you passes a certain point, such as a sign, count "one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three." This takes about 3 seconds. If you pass that certain point before you finish counting, you are following too closely. We suggest a 4-second (or more) cushion in inclement weather.

Fourth, the tires you choose and their condition are another important, yet often overlooked, factor. See our articles, "Tire Safety: Don't Ignore the Rubber on the Road" and "Tires: Traffic Safety Tips" for all the details on tire selection and maintenance.

There are a few other factors that affect braking distances. As stated before, the heavier your vehicle is, the longer it will take to stop. Bear that in mind when you shop for a car or when you load it up. Also, the looser the road surface (gravel, dirt, mud), the harder it is to stop.

Finally, we strongly recommend that buyers choose a car equipped with antilock brakes (ABS), which, with few exceptions, help decrease braking distances on any road surface and in any weather. Whenever a driver slams on the brakes (and it's happened to everyone), the tires have the potential to lock up, sending you skidding. In a skid, tires have little traction, you lose steering control and braking distance is greatly increased. Antilock braking systems are designed to prevent tire lockup by automatically and rapidly "pumping" the brakes, potentially decreasing braking distances in extreme situations.

Of course, in order to get the most out of ABS in emergency braking situations, you have to know how to use it. And really, it couldn't be easier; you just stomp on the pedal. Some drivers are inclined to ease up on the brake pedal when they feel the vibration (and hear the noise) of the ABS doing its work, but it's important to maintain constant, controlled pressure. Aware that people often don't supply enough braking pressure, many manufacturers now supplement their antilock systems with "brake assist," which senses panic braking situations and automatically provides full power braking to shorten the stopping distance.

Many new cars come with antilock brakes as standard equipment, but you must often purchase them as an option on low- to moderately priced cars. And on some models, you may have to step up to a higher trim level to get ABS. Regardless, antilock brakes are a worthwhile feature and we highly recommend that you spend the extra money to get them.

What about disc brakes? Do they make a difference? Today we usually find four-wheel-disc brakes as standard equipment on most midpriced coupes, sedans, wagons and SUVs. Many economy vehicles and pickup trucks, however, continue to utilize a front-disc/rear-drum brake setup, which in most cases provides adequate performance for the general consumer. Nevertheless, vehicles with four-wheel discs usually deliver shorter stopping distances and are less susceptible to fade (loss of braking performance due to heat).

Whether you're reacting to sudden slowdowns on the highway or to a child darting into the street, nothing is more important than safe, well-maintained brakes (and the tires that work with them). Have them inspected according to the maintenance schedule in the owner's manual, and don't wait to have them checked out if you notice a pedal vibration or excessive noise when braking. That squeal you hear is probably telling you something — something that would be cheaper to fix now rather than later.

Additionally, being aware of all the variables — your proximity to other vehicles, weather conditions, road surface — will help you judge proper speed and give you time to react to whatever comes your way.
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Posts: 15533

« Reply #249 on: December 18, 2008, 08:26:56 PM »

Good data on speed vs. braking distance here.
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