|View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Saturday, January 31, 2004
And Second Am I!
Just a short bioblurb here to round out Joshua's kind introduction of yours truly to the Blogosphere. True, I'm not a pilot; rather, I'm a bluewater sailor who spends most of his summers practicing on Lake Chatfield, near the big oceanic expanse known as "Highlands Ranch." And, if I'm truly taller than Joshua, it's only because I stand on the shoulders of giants! (;->)
Truth to tell, I'm originally American, but decamped to Canada when I was 18 to escape the draft--that is, 18 months! When my parents found out that I could talk in whole sentences, they wanted to draft me into pre-school! Hardly fair for a mere toddler, I felt . . . . Seriously, for some strange reason, my Ontario-born mother didn't feel that New York City was a civilized-enough place to raise children, and so the family headed to Toronto. And this was back in 1957! Of course, she did have a history of being prescient, and so I've paid attention to her ever since.
I've been in Colorado since 1980, when I entered the DU law school, thinking I was headed towards a career in elective politics. A summer in D.C. changed my perspective dramatically, and I settled for a life of comparative ease and sanity in the Rocky Mountain West. Politics can be an addiction, however, and so I've kept my hand in over the years as a campaign worker, sometime consultant, and special-issue activist. It's hunting season again, and, as Joshua prophesied, it's gonna be a whale of a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to being a part of this community!
For those who might be interested in learning more about me and my current foci, and even possibly connecting, Joshua tells me he's gonna enable a hotlink on my name. As Italian tour guides are wont to say, "Andiamo!"
Friday, January 30, 2004
Then There Were Two
I'd like to welcome aboard Bill Eigles, esq., to the View From a Height Team. Bill lives here in Denver. He's not a pilot, but makes up for it (and maintains the Official Site Theme) by being taller than I.
Bill's originally Canadian, having sneaked across the border Frodo-and-Sam-like one wintry December eve back in the 70s. When he discovered that he was going to have to wait until May to see whether or not the Buffalo streets were really paved with gold, he headed west. And south. Colorado offered him the snow without the cold.
Bill's an attorney, although he's pretty much out of that business now. He's been in Colorado much longer than I, so he has a better grip on the mechanics of state politics, although he's not actually what you'd call a politico. Those of you who follow state politics anywhere know that the shelf-life of a state politics far exceeds that of all but a handful of national figures. Colorado politics have arisen a little like the mountains: slow changes marked by titanic upheavals. Ten years ago, every major state-wide figure was a Democrat.
Welcome to the Blogosphere, Bill. It's gonna be fun. Feel free to add actual biographical facts, if you like.
Look Ma, a Keyboard!
Thanks to Joshua, here's my maiden contribution to this trenchant blogsite on the issues of our times. So, "Mommy, Daddy, I'm now a novitiate blogger!"
Thursday, January 29, 2004
The Two Faces of John
This from the February 27, 1991 Boston Globe. It seems that one Walter Carter both faxed and mailed this letter to Sen. John Kerry on January 9 of that year:
Mr. Carter, having sent two copies of the letter, received two responses. Read carefully, and see if you can spot the subtle but important differences.
Don't Do This Now, But It's There If You Need It
From the AP:
Three Blind Mice
What was Kerry's formative experience again? From an April 23, 1985 Washington Post piece about a trip he, Sen. Harkin, and then-Sen. Al Gore took to Nicaragua.
Well, maybe indirect parallels. Certainly not the 17th.
Eighteen Years Ago
Charles Krauthammer is nothing if not consistent. Then again, his target hasn't moved much in 18 years, either. Look carefully for a Currently Important Name.
I guess it's fair to say that Democratic foreign policy has evolved somewhat in 18 years. They're now willing to be interventionist as long as no vital US interest is at stake.
Dean and Aspen
Took 'em long enough. The Denver Post finally got around to interviewing some people who knew Howard Dean during his ski tour at Aspen. Surprise, surprise, there are no surprises. He went to ski and hang out, at a time when Aspen was a place that kids with no money could go do that. Not a wild partier, just a really good skier.
On the other hand, he used to work for a Norwegian immigrant out in Aspen, who later opened a small restaurant in - Vermont. Knowing something about socialism first-hand, she had this to say about her former governor:
George Will today claims that the Democrats have rediscovered the virtues of masculinity, leading them to support Sen. John Kerry. Kerry seems to me to have decided long ago, on foreign policy, to be decisively passive. To be militantly inactive. He came back to dishonestly oppose Vietnam, supposedly on the basis of massive US war crimes. He opposed Reagan's "illegal war in Central America," which helped lead to democracy in that part of the world.
He opposed the first Gulf War, arguing for giving sanctions time to work, for up to 12 or 18 months, knowing full well that a president could almost never launch an offensive between his convention and an election. Kerry argued that sanctions would weaken Saddam's army, while our half-million men and women then deployed could stay out there indefinitely. Having served in Vietnam, he evidently never felt the need to look at a map of Korea.
Kerry, like the French whom James Taranto believes he resembles, has discovered the virtues of langor. Far easier to order up another Manhattan Iced Tea than to actually commit action.
Kerry would like us to believe that his military service alone is somehow important. True, he didn't run away to the slopes like Dean. He served with distinction, and put himself in harm's way, and for that service he's due the extraordinary thanks any veteran gets. But the presidency is about leadership and leadership is about judgment. Were it up to Kerry, Danny Ortega would still be running Nicaragua, and Saddam Hussien would be not only in Baghdad, but also Kuwait City. At least.
George McGovern was a war hero, too. He piloted bombers over Europe. Steven Ambrose wrote a book about him. None of that mattered when he proposed fatal weakness in our foreign policy. It shouldn't matter now.
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
It's always fun to see what Google or Yahoo! searches lead to this site. Because of the name, a fair number are something like "John+Kerry+Height" or "Seabiscuit+Height." We don't like to disappoint, so herewith, the listed heights of the remaining Presidential candidates:
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Liberals and Moderates
One of my favorite web sites, at least every two years, is Project Vote-Smart. It's been around, first as a gopher site and then as a web site, since at least 1994. Here are some selected, but representative, advocacy group ratings for Messrs. Edwards and Kerry.
Since Blogspot(TM) wants to make you scroll down to see the table, here's the punchline - except for the National Journal ratings, according to the advocacy groups, there's not a dime's worth of difference between the two.
If you're handicapping the race, Kerry starts to look like the favorite. While Dean avoided humiliation, and is still viable enough to keep running, he's starting to look more and more like he's peaked. Hugh, give it up.
Third place is where the action is. Kerry always had a problem in the South. While the Southern Democrats used to be more conservative than they are now, they're still more conservative than their Northern bretheren. This was the ticket for Edwards in South Carolina, and polls showing Clark running in front in Oklahoma. But neither man broke the magic 15% to pick up any delegates.
As I'm writing this, it's nip-and-tuck for third place. Fourth place probably means doom for either man. It probably hurts Edwards more than Clark, though, who was supposed to do well here. He may be able to keep limping along, but almost certainly won't be a factor in the final delegate count. The big question is whether or not Kerry has established enough momentum to push Edwards aside next Tuesday. If so, game over. If not, Edwards may still make a three-man race of it.
What I want to know is, where, outside of a fraternity prank, did Al Sharpton find 300 people to vote for him?
Piracy and Shipping Choke Points
Dana Dillon and Lucia Selvaggi write in today's Wall Street Journal (registration required) about the threat to international shipping posed both by piracy and terrorism at one of the world's most congested shipping lanes, the Strait of Malacca shared among Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. They describe the magnitude of the threat thus:
Indonesia has been in the same sort of denial that preceded the Bali bombing, and only Japan seems to be taking the threat very seriously. Since the attacks are predominantly coming from Indonesian shores, they have primary responsibility for stopping them on land. Historically, this sort of problem has only been solved by the presence of a significant naval presence. If we don't want, say, China to use this as an excuse to expand its blue-water navy, at our eventual expense, we're going to have to take up the slack.
Consumer Confidence Rebounds
The Consumer Confidence Index of the Conference Board rose to 96.8 in January, from December's 91.7. Other numbers also look good:
So people see their personal situations doing better, although they're still reluctant to breathe a little easier and take heart from their neighbors' improved sentiments. This seems to happen a lot, until there's a crystallization of opinion. For instance, in the 1992 elections cited on Powerline last week, even as Bush I's re-elect numbers and job-approval ratings were quite poor, in the low 40s, people still believed overwhelminly that he would be re-elected.
E. J. Dionne Doesn't
In the meantime, E.J. Dionne reports on the "regiments," more likely platoons, or veterans who he believes give John Kerry foreign policy credibility.
Some would say that the Democrats, seemingly focused on "electability," realize that military credibility is something that matters to the electorate as a whole, even if they themselves don't care much about it. I don't recall Dean's Battle of the Slopes at Aspen hurting him much at the time it came out. While Kerry went, it's not clear that his opposition to the war developed until it became to his political advantage. And it apparently extended as far as the appearance of tossing away his medals...
Kerry wants to refight Vietnam, for which conservatives now have an answer. He calls our support of the Contras and the government in El Salvador, "Reagan's illegal war in Central America." Let him go tell the voters in Nicaragua that, after they keep defeating the Sandanistas at the polls, in elections inconceivable without our military support for the opposition to that dictatorship. And who knows what his actual position on the Iraq war (and whatever comes next) may be? It seems he not only wants to refight the original Vietnam, but all the other non-Vietnam Vietnams since then. Bring it on.
The Post Gets It (Mostly)
Deacon from Powerline has noticed that the least biased sections of the Washington Post seems to be its editorial page. Today, the Post's lead editorial takes the Democrats to task for not understanding the nature of the current recovery. It comes from greater efficiency and productivity, which is always very closely tied to standard of living and income.
Of course, they take a shot at the current deficits. I'm not delighted by deficits, either, but the fact is, they're not large as a function of GDP by historical standards, and there's hope that we'll grow out of them. Plus, they began to accumulate both as a result of falling tax revenue from the recession, and a deliberate attempt to stimulate the economy, which they have. If we continue to run $500B deficits year after year, that won't be good. But right now, there's every reason not to worry about them.
Monday, January 26, 2004
Edwards Tackles the Tough Ones
John Edwards, in USA Today today (courtesy of Real Clear Politics), comes out strongly opposed to college admissions preferences - for legacy students. These are children of alumni. These preferences, practiced by almost all colleges and universities. As policy, they're a courtesy to alumni; as fundraising, they're smart.
Edwards defends affirmative action, naturally, as promoting "diversity," since he certainly can't defend it as promoting fairness. He provides no evidence that legacy applicants are more likely to be admitted to a school than are beficiaries of affirmative action. Nowhere does he state the number of students so affected. How many students who get into, say Virginia, with legacy help, couldn't have gotten into another comparable school, but either didn't want the hassle, or did want to carry on a tradition? How many students really are going to Harvard rather than Roanoke County Community College because dad went to Cambridge?
Edwards is both taking a slap at President Bush, widely perceived as getting into Yale on his father's coattails (the only coattails his father seems to have had), and signalling that he's going to try to run a populist campaign, playing off his image as a moderate. He talks as often about his poor upbringing as Kerry does about Vietnam; so often you half expect him to claim that he was raised a poor black child. We'll see if it works.
For the past few days, and the next few, we are hosting a neighbor's dog while she and her son are on vacation. The dog is terrific, pleasant, doesn't complain, goes about his business (which we'll get to in a moment), and we'd have him again in a minute, but let's just say you don't really know a dog until you live with him.
Clancy, theirs, is a small springer spaniel. Clancy runs around the house randomly sniffing the floor, like one of those ergodic pool cleaners filmed at 18 frames per second and played back at 24 fps. He'll also run back and forth between the hallway and a given room 10 or 20 times in a row, as though he's got doggy Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. "Gotta touch that chair again. Again. Again. Again..."
It suggests a way to clean floors while you're out of the house. Rubber-lined cloth dog booties that you soak in floor cleaner. Then, you hang a timed treat dispenser over a shallow pool of diluted cleaner. The dog roams the house for a while cleaning the floors, then replenishes his foot-mops when he shows up to get his half-hourly treat.
This would be true even if Sage were making an effort to make Clancy feel like a welcome guest. Sage, ours, is a very large black lab, about 110 lbs. Sage is and always has been, an only dog. So sharing is, shall we say, not in his nature. He seems to want to play, but he's also a little threatened and annoyed by Clancy hanging around, getting treats there were clearly meant for him, before Clancy showed up. So he'll growl at Clancy while his tail is up and wagging. All part of the cognitive dissonance of being a large lab, I suppose. Fortunately, Clancy doesn't seem to mind, ceding whatever it is Sage thinks he wants, and going back to sniffing out the ghosts of parakeets who once lived here.
Sunday, January 25, 2004
U.S. News and John Ashcroft
U.S. News, in its January 26th issue, runs a cover story on Attorney General John Ashcroft. Unlike most reporting on this subject, Ms. Ragavan makes a deliberate attempt to separate the personal from the policy.
I thought the policy questions got more of a fair shake than you normally see. For instance, it treats the Patriot Act rationally, making the point that most of its provisions were already in force for organized crime investigations. It takes to task those critics who lump in detainees and deportees with Patriot Act complaints, pointing out that the rhetoric is unfair, as one has nothing to do with the other.
It did seem to me, however, that their treatment of the alleged politicization of the department, while not taking the complaints at face value, failed to sufficiently consider the source. The loudest complaints come from "junior staffers," whose only point of reference would be the severely politicized Reno Justice department. They would tend, by tenure, temperament, and politics, to find the appointment of conservatives by a conservative Attorney General objectionable. Only one career manager is quoted, who was one of five reassigned. Without being told his seniority, or how many career managers served on the level of those transferred, we have no perspective within which to judge his complaints. Certainly he might have reason to be resentful of the effects on his career, which would tend to impugn rather than confirm his testimony.
As for the personal, the following quote sums up the story's take. Fortunately, they avoid talking about his singing.
Friday, January 23, 2004
Defending Thomas Friedman
If ever there were a September 10 publication, it's the Village Voice. It has reinforced its move from liberal to lefist. Since revolutions eat their own, I suppose it makes some sense that media critic Cynthia Cotts has now penned an article attacking Thomas Friedman for donating some prize winnings to his synagogue library.
It seems that Friedman, along with Joshua Micah Marshall, Paul Krugman, and Charlotte Observer columnist Tommy Tomlinson each won $2,000 from Tina Brown's new periodical, The Week, in its inaugural Opinion Awards. Krugman and Tomlinson each gave their money to public libraries; Marshall gave his to his old prep school. Apparently, the scandal of the evening was Friedman's announcement that his cash was going to the library of a synagogue he (and Times bete noir William Safire among others) had founded.
Daniel Radosh, widely-published freelancer, actually asked on his blog whether this was an attempt to launder the money so as to keep it. What do you mean, "started a synagogue?" Especially, as Cotts takes pains to point out at the end, one that doesn't even have a building? Cotts apparently is unaware of the multitude of synagogues that start out renting space from apartment buildings, storefronts, and even churches. The Palo Alto Orthodox Synagogue for years met in the basement of a bank, but that didn't help them gain the considerable financing necessary to put up a buiding.
While Cotts spends some time attacking the monetary ethics of the shul rabbi, the target of the piece is clearly Friedman. Certainly a columnist or a reporter has no business contributing directly to political campaigns or causes he'll be convering. But the path by which she gets to her conclusion is so tortured that whatever "freight" she sees has been dumped by the roadside long before then: Friedman donates to a shul library; that shul is Conservative; it's part of the Masorti movement; religion and politics are mixed in Israel; so the Masorti movement has taken political positions, maybe even on Israeli foreign policy; Friedman has written nice things about Israel. Voila! Friedman is really giving his money to support political causes in Israel.
Hers is a media column, so from time to time she looks at journalistic ethics. I looked through her columns on Lexis-Nexis, although they're all available on line at the Village Voice site. I couldn't find anything criticizing black journalists for belonging to churches that hold political rallies on the Sunday before election day. I can't find any investigation of the relationship of Muslim editorial writers to Mosques, and those mosques' relationship to stateside fundraising arms of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.
Her slant on the Middle East is clear, too. Before 9/11, she accused the American media of being too sympathetic to Israel. After 9/11, two weeks after 9/11, she accused the American media of being afraid to float the theory that it had been payback for our support of Israel. (Evidently she missed the daytime and Nightline appearances of Hanan Ashrawi to say just that.)
On a column on the blurring between media & political "insiders" and "outsiders," she had this to say about suicide bombings:
Ah yes, what party you get invited to. Just like being shredded by the emissaries of a pathological society. But then, living inside the fishbowl of the leftist New York escrittati makes your life the standard by which all else must be judged.
Never mind the thousands of people who may actually die if they don't take proper precautions. The "real victims" are going to be writers-turned-Cassandras that nobody listens to. Never mind that, in their eagerness to avoid making that mistake, the journalists themselves return to form when it comes to Iran and the North Koreans.
By Cotts's logic on Friedman, which of course I don't accept, Krugman's contribution to a public library helps support a librarian who belongs to the ALA, which annually passes resolutions condemining Israel, castigating the United States, and praising Castro's spirit of academic and intellectual freedom.
Such criticism would be absurd. Worse than that, it would make meaningful participation in civic life impossible, not just for reporters but for everyone.
Thursday, January 22, 2004
Quiz Show FAQ
Speaking of Sleep
Light blogging today. Got a go-live date of Monday for a contract, my regular work, and the all-seeing eye of Graduate Business School. Later, though, there's been movement on Indian casinos, and a very interesting story regarding your favorite Middle East columnist and mine, Thomas Friedman.
For a good laugh, tune into that media titan, the Food Network, tomorrow at 9:30 AM Eastern, 8:30 Central, 7:30 Mountain, etc. You'll get to see yours truly make an appearance as Contestant #2 on the jumbo hit "Trivia Unwrapped." Just remember, the camera adds 10 pounds, and there were three or four cameras in the studio.
The Wrong Judge?
I like Charles Pickering. Powerline has amply documented the attempted slander of the man. The Democrats can't admit that they don't want a center-right judge on the federal bench, so they accuse the man of racism. In the end, the debate's about the Supreme Court. Starve the district courts of conservatives of those favoring judicial restraint, and it'll make conservative high court nominees a harder sell, and liberals ones an easier sell, if only by virtue of tenure and experience.
By using a recess appointment to put Judge Pickering on the bench, though, President Bush may have picked the wrong judge. Pickering has been waiting the longest, so I suppose it's most fair to him, but this is also about winning the political contest, too. The NAACP and the race-baiting groups are going to turn Judge Pickering into the poster child for right-wing extremist judges. It would have been a lot harder to do that with Justice Brown from California.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
The Rocky Does Immigration
It's ought to be a party game. How quickly, after someone brings up some social topic, does it take for someone to use the "r" word? In conversation, you can either count exchanges, sentences, or, in particularly civilized company, minutes. In this case, they made it all the way to the end of the subhead.
Congressman "Lonely" Tom Tancredo has proposed a Constitutional Amendment denying government services to illegal aliens. The Rocky's coverage of the story, along with the arguments used against it, are pretty much par for the course.
Oh, the irony! People who are here against the law are having a hard time making ends meet. Calculated to make you feel sorry for them. News Flash: I do feel sorry for them. I feel sorry that they come from countries that are so unable to piece together competent or uncorrupt governments long enough to get anyone other than day tourists from the Carnival Cruise boat to spend money there. Sorry enough to pull a Minnesota and pay for a one-way bus ticket back to where life was simple, and they understood the language.
Racist. Of course. Look, Bill, the only reason there are so many more illegal Mexicans here than anyone else is that the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are a hell of a lot wider than the Rio Grande. I'm with Medved on this one: there is no such thing as a "hispanic" race. Batista was black; Castro is pretty white. You calling Castro a racist? I didn't think so.
I think that to you, Dutch, anyone with brown skin who speaks Spanish looks pretty much the same. Last quarter, in marketing, one of the two hispanic students took great issue with the notion of "hispanics" as a market segment. Puerto Ricans don't think like Mexicans don't think like Cubans. On a recent flight, I sat next to a Puerto Rican. He had done time in Mexico City, and when I asked him what that was like, he said he got used to it. He seemed a lot happier here in Denver, living in my neighborhood among whites, than with his fellow "hispanics" in their native habitat. When you can explain to me the specific racial characteristics that make a Guatemalan different from a Mexican, come back and I'll listen. I don't think there are any.
Imagine that. Carlos Espinosa denied that his boss was racist. One of Tancredo's front-page issues has always been the budget. It doesn't surprise me that he'd piggy-back immigration onto its costs.
It would suprise the hell out of me, though, to find out that half the nation's health-care spending was emergency care to illegals provided by the federal government. The nation's entire economy last year was about $12 trillion. Health care accounts for about 14% of the economy, or $1.6 trillion. Half of that is $800 billion. This has to be millions. Tancredo's website has a speech with credible numbers. So it's possible that the reporter misheard. What's unbelievable is that any fact-checker who doesn't work for the New York Times could have let this slip.
I don't know that any of this is true. I don't know that anyone was more inclined to act offensively towards hispanics after Prop 187 was passed. I know there was a lot of talk about illegals not wanting to get caught. I know there was a lot of anecdotal evidence, told through a translator to sympathetic NPR microphones, about the fear that many illegals felt. I also know that these kids, whose parents weren't paying state income tax, were substantially increasing the student-teacher ratio in southern California classrooms.
Look, I've said it before, I'll say it again. I'm pro-immigration. This country benefits from immigrants who come here to learn the language and work hard. People who come here from south of Mexico have done an especially brave thing. You want to let those who are here stay, and then call in the Israelis to build us a fence? Perfect. You want to revive the bracero program? Be my guest. But a country has to have control of its borders. It can't let its territory become a safety valve for a country too weak-kneed to confront its own problems. It has to demand loyalty from those who stay. Just like we expect from every other immigrant of every other race, Dutch.
Campus Conservatives Coordinate
The College Republicans over at CU are setting up a site where, after proper vetting, reports of inappropriate liberal campus bias will be posted. The students need not have suffered gradewise for their beliefs, which always seemed to me to be a hollow standard at best.
Fact is, this isn't be done to persuade liberals of anything. They're beyond convincing. This is for the public debate, which they're well on their way to losing, too. The Academic Left has moved from denying a bias exists, to denying that it shows up, to denying that it matters. Nobody outside the 93% of professors who voted for Gore believes this any more.
This really isn't about blacklists. It's about building a case. With speech codes and judicial codes already in place, any disaffected lefty has a whole host of institutions to turn to if he feels wronged. In the meantime conservative newspapers are stolen, groups defunded, activities denied access, speakers shouted down or worse. A responsible debater says, "make your case." The Left simply denies there's a case to be made.
My friend JB over at the Rocky Mountain Progressives sounds, for all the world, just like a parody of himself. Actually, he sounds more like a parody of how the left remembers the "older generation" of the 60s. I don't think he's actually been cast in the local dinner-theatre production of "Bye-Bye Birdie;" for all I know, he can't even sing. All I know is that the Left has been carrying this particular tune for a long, long time. If the best argument he can come up with is the ghost of Joe McCarthy (a fine, fine baseball man, by the way), and that this particular activity doesn't create jobs, he's pretty much at the end of his fake book.
What's funny is how truly unobjectionable all of this really is. And how very, very threatening.
Former Prominent Democrats
Today's Denver Post features articles by two prominent state-wide Democrats. My self-promise not to gloat prevents me from pointing out that they're former office-holders. Exvigilare notes and comments.
Gimli Digs Deeper, Looms Larger
John Rhys-Davis, the Welsh actor who played Gimli in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, got himself into a little trouble last month with his defense of Western Civilization. Now, it seems his words have been appropriated by a racist British political party, the BNP. Rhys-Davis's proper response is an echo of Ronald Reagan's back when he was governor: they endorsed me, I didn't endorse them.
In digging a little deeper, myself, I ran across the following bit from an interview he did with the online science fiction/fantasy magazine, Crescent Blues. Gimli comes across as thoroughly, er, grounded. He manages, in a few sentences, to discuss our cultural assumptions about class, our ignorance of others' history, our romanticizing of the Aztecs, and Europe's narrow escape from Islam 1000 years ago. All the while dealing with an interviewer who'd rather argue her own comfortable prejudices than listen.
Monday, January 19, 2004
Powerline comments on a new Washington Post/ABC poll showing the President in pretty good shape. Hindrocket notes that conservatives are not happy with the President's spending, Medicare, and immigration policies, and that seems to be bleeding over into a certian vague discontent with the President as a whole, without gaining him the center. A couple of points:
Bad News: The President's re-elect number is only 48%. 50% is usually the magic number, which indicates that this thing may yet be close.
Good News: For some reason, they overpolled by 35 blacks. This is about 3% of the whole sample. Assuming that, 1) they almost all went left, and 2) black turnout usually is lower than white turnout, the actual re-elect number is probably over 50%.
As for the moderation in the President's policies, I certainly don't subscribe to the Karl Rove puppet-master theory. But Rove has spoken before of wanting to build a lasting Republican majority. (Maybe that's why Dean came out so strongly against McKinley today.) This is off the top of my head, but we can only do this if 1) conservative walk away 5 years from now convinced that "Bush was one of us," and moderates come away thinking "Bush was one of us." It will help keep the conservatives from being too hungry for a "genuine conservative," while showing enough results for the moderates not to start looking elsewhere.
Referendum on the Nighthorse
I kind of like Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. He's a character, no doubt, and since he switched parties ten years ago, he's been fairly reliable, although more to the left than I prefer. He's certainly not a Senate leader, although as the Senate's lone Indian, he tends to get a lot of ink on those issues. On the proposed casino, he's been solid, saying that he'd just like to see them buy some land and compete, rather than create a wholly artificial "reservation" as a tax and regulatory dodge.
Still, sometimes he makes you wonder what, exactly, he's thinking. He didn't show up at a Dick Cheney fundraiser last week. Then, when asked about the casino developments, he said that he's tired of being asked all these questions about Indian issues, and that the spotlight makes him wish, sometimes, that he wasn't a Senator. Inasmuch as Democratic State Chairman Chris Gates is setting up the party to claim that Sen. Campbell just doesn't care enough about being Senator, and may not even run, this probably wasn't the wisest choice of words. Campbell probably does get tired of being a token, but he's also gotten considerable mileage out of it, and needs to avoid looking like a crybaby.
Given the likely quality of his opposition, I wouldn't say he's in any kind of trouble. If you're going to make these kinds of blunders, January, when nobody is paying attention anyway, is the best time to make them. But if the Republicans really want to make the Senate judicial process filibuster-proof, they're going to have to keep this seat. So far, Campbell doesn't look like he's trying very hard.
Mts. Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. You'll notice a fair number of trees, mixed in amongst the various snowmobiling routes.
The Content of Our Character, Not the Color of Our Skin
Is there any holiday more politicized on our calendar than MLK Day? Liberals may carp about that trio of Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans' Day, but the reality is, that's pretty tame stuff compared to what goes on every year, especially every four years, at our black churches. This would probably with or without a national holiday, or 50 separate state holidays, as it were, but it certainly gets more ink this way. (The "National Holiday" is supplemented by 50 state holidays. I personally like Virginia's answer, which was to covert an existing holiday into Lee-Jackson-King Day, and it wasn't Spike and Jesse, either.)
Here's a roundup of some of the sermons from yesterday:
Paul Martin badly needs a calendar; Coretta Scott King evidently has forgotten all the events between Sumter and Appomattox, and little Jarrett Maupin's favorite Purim costume is that of a bigoted slanderer who's incited others to murder. Unlike some others, I can't claim to know how Dr. King would have stood on the pressing issues of the day. But somehow, I don't think this is quite what he had in mind.
Of course, the law offices that house the Swedish Consulate here in Denver were closed today for MLK Day, so we'll try again tomorrow. In the meantime, there's an online Swedish newspaper survey on whether or not to remove the "artwork." On the right-hand side of the page, in the middle, is the survey:
Bör den omtalade installationen på Historiska museet tas bort?
Now, stop imagining the Muppet Show Chef reciting it long enough to vote. Vote your conscience, of course.
Clark Gains Endorsements
In the last couple of days, Wesley Clark has picke dup a couple of big-name endorsements. It's not entirely clear they do him much good, coming as they do from Michael Moore and George McGovern. If the race for the Democratic nomination is going to be decided by who gets the best anti-war nominations, the party really is in serious long-term trouble.
Meanwhile, Clark also seems willing to join Dean in the, "it's an interesting theory but I can't prove it" sweepstakes. During Moore's "endorsement," he referred to a debate between the "general and the deserter." Leaving aside Moore's own qualifications for questioning anyone else's veracity about anything, read Clark's comments on the matter:
Remind you of anyone? Andrew Sullivan, about a year ago, uncovered a three-year-old New York Times story putting this stuff to bed. But Clark sounded like he was trying out for the Diane Rehm Show. There's a word for people who "hint" about things they know not to be true: slanderer. Oh not in the legal sense, no. But this is the "higher standard of leadership" he's promising us?
Peanuts and Snake Oil
Carter says that he won't be endorsing anyone, presumably because that would be unfitting in his status as ex-President. Writing letters to foreign government, asking them to actively sabotage the foreign policy of the current President, however, that's no problem.
The display at the Carter Center having to do with the Iranian Hostage Crisis, as it was then known, claims that Carter pursued his policies without regard to his own political future. At some point between now and November 2, he and Howard Dean will have something else in common.
Texas Redistricting Finalized
The Supreme Court has decided not to rule on a lower court's decision to allow the Texas redistricting to stand. Barring further challenges, which of course, are always possible, the map will be used from now through the 2010 Congressional Elections. The Democrats have already been using this issue to fire up the anger that Howard Dean and Wesley Clark (see above) are trying to capitalize on.
Sunday, January 18, 2004
Several days ago, the Israeli Ambassador to Sweden attacked a display of anti-Semitic of "artwork," put up as part of a conference on racism and bigotry. Powerline, the Jerusalem Post, and LGF have been all over the story.
It turns out we have, here in Denver, a Swedish Consulate, to whom I would hope all of us would make our feeling known, in an appropriate manner. Please, nothing that could even remotely be construed as a physical threat. Letters, faxes, and phone calls, that note that Sweden seems to have let its moral compass go haywire would, however, be very effective. I'll be calling the consulate tomorrow to see if they have a list of Swedish products available in Denver.
Thursday, January 15, 2004
Not a Good Start
Am I the only one who's a little worried about Ben "Nighthorse" Campbell's Senate campaign. Yes, I was worried about Allard, too, but he also ran with the wind at his back, and only won by 5 points. Campbell seems to be thinking he can pretty much coast to a win. His fundraising seems to be lagging, and Gary Hart is teasing the Colorado Democratic establishment with talk of a Senate run. So far, Campbell has just alluded to Hart's having been, er, six inches away from the White House (althought it's doubtful he could have beaten Bush I), and now he claims it would just be a tune-up for a 2008 Presidential run.
Hart has no way no how no chance of getting the Democratic nomination in 2008. A whole new generation of late-night comedians and a whole new generation of viewers barely remember theMonkey Business, but they'll find out, and it won't be flattering. Hart's 67 right now, which would make him 71 at 2009's inaugural. Campbell can point these things out, but what's missing is some comment about what Hart stands for, and how it's not right for Colorado or the country. Campbell's a moderate, but the state has moved to the right as Hart has moved to the left, and he can win on straight policy.
Dogs Don't Kill People...
Okay, dogs do kill people. Then their moronic owners say they don't see how it could possibly have happened.
Right, then. Whom does she blame? Nature vs. Nurture vs. what, Dave Barry's dog satellite? Just in case you were inclined to give the distraight woman the benefit of the doubt...
And you thought Steve Irwin's behavior was irresponsible? Let's look at the judgment here. She's under criminal indictment, has already lost a civil suit. Her old dogs killed one woman and mauled two others before being shot (guns don't kill dogs, people kill dogs who kill people; you listening Clayton Cramer?), and she goes out and gets another pit bull to play with her daughter. She must be trying to teach her daughter not to be afraid of dogs. Laura, look at me. I want you to listen to me very carefully. Be afraid. Be very afraid. As a rule, I'm not a big fan of Social Services. But this woman needs to be relieved of her children and her freedom, and given the Queen Jezebel treatment.
She claims the gal who got killed provoked the dog by hitting it in the head. Listen, babe. I own a labrador retriever. Within 2 weeks of getting him I had taught him not to play-bite. I had my father pretend to slug me one time, and the dog growled, jumped between us, and then had no clue what to do next. I thought maybe he'd try to lick Dad to death. I've seen little children beat him on the head, pull his tail, and bang on his back, and he basically just moves away, wanting to know what he did wrong. The only time I've seen him get upset is when some child tried to take away his stick. I pulled him away with the leash, scolded him, and suggested to the child that that might not be a good idea. And you know what? I don't let the dog chew toys or sticks around children. If you own a dog, you need to be blind not to know that dog's temperment.
This woman is a menace. She's indirectly resposible for deaths and maulings, and now she's putting more people at risk. For her daughter's sake, I sure hope she doesn't soon qualify for a Darwin award.
More Bar Mitzvahs
The more I think about this, the less I like it. Not hate it. Doesn't make me want to go out and invent some truly authentic Jewish ceremony involving pine trees and stars, or anything like that. A more sour Joshua would say something like, "Look, you've got yours, leave ours alone," and he'd have a point. Jews want to participate in America, and there are many more than enough secular holidays and traditions to go around. We like New Year's, Valentines, July 4, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving, along with the rest. You start wanting Bar Mitzvahs for your kids, you might not understand why I don't want a Channukah Bush in my house.
It's also a symptom of two religions that, in the public mind anyway, have lost their real significance. This isn't a matter of taking a pagan symbol and incorporating it into your religion. Both Christianity and Judaism have done that in their past. No, this is taking another religion's ritual, and without any intent to usurp, making it a secular event. It has no religious meaning for the adopting group, either. Honestly, I'm not sure what does. Religion is supposed to be about big things, like our relationship to the infinite, how to organize society. A bar or bat mitzvah is supposed to signify that the boy-turned-fountain-pen is now old enough to begin exploring those things.
I shoudl say that this is entirely unthreatening to Jews. But please, with all the Democratic candidates trying to show how Jewish they are, and now this, I'm beginning to feel like the flavor of the month.
Richard Cohen's Nightmare
Clark may be able to get a crowd to respond to red meat. But it's basically Dean's shtick. Calling the President, literally, "unpatriotic" is unlikely to turn on too many voters.
Make no mistake: it's not Wes Clark's Army. It's our Army. Wes Clark neither built, nor effectively commanded this Army. Maybe the Air Force, but his one near-decisive moment with the Army almost started WWIII in a race to the Pristina airport. It's already been pointed out before that the "rush to war" took 18 months. "His" Army hasn't been abused. It's been used for what it was trained for, preserved astonishingly intact, and knows what it's doing is important. Deacon's comparison to MacClellan looks more and more apt every day.
As near as I can tell, the President's pretty popular with the troops. That whoop you heard Thanksgiving morning looked pretty sincere to me. If Clark actually had any respect for the grunts he cares about, he'd realize that these guys know they're on camera when the President shows up to talk. And they still respond. You don't want to be a prop? Respond with respectful but subdued applause, like they did during Hilary's Look-At-Me Tour of Afghanistan and Iraq.
My biggest worry about Clark isn't Clark, but the people around him. The Clinton faction within the Democratic party is making itself increasingly visible in support of Clark. This accounts for some of his rise within the party, his increase in fundraising, and some of his credibility that he appeared to have blown early on. The Clintons are professionals, the Deans largely amateurs.
Were Clark to get the nomination, he would almost certainly lose to Bush, barring economic or terrorist disaster for the country. But he wouldn't take the whole party down with him like Dean might. Bush would be forced to run a real campaign, as opposed to being able to devote resources to the down-ticket candidates. The Republican gains in the Senate and House would be limited. Hilary would inherit a stronger party, although one perhaps less inclined towards self-criticism, than if Dean were nominated. More importantly, Clark will retain the Clintons' friends in the party hierarchy. Hilary would also find a party establishment that had spent four years working to get her, specifically her, elected President.
Only Without the Guilt
From yesterday's Wall Street Journal:
I knew that most hospitals did circumcisions now, but who knew it would lead to this? I can't say I'm thrilled by this. More like, bemused.
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
For all of those columnists out there like Mike Littwin, who can't understand the difference between markets and incentives, here's an object lesson. This is from a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed from last April 25, written by Donald Burke, epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins:
Now China has seen a couple of SARS cases, and while they're not walling up the towns and posting guards, they're been, shall we say, pretty responsive. The one thing the Chinese government fears more than papier mache Statues of Liberty is loss of foreign capital. Their expansion, their ability to keep their bad banks afloat, all depend on foreign capital. One whiff of SARS, they fear, and the foreigners are gone for good, maybe to Dehli.
The point is, China has a great incentive to make sure SARS doesn't show up. They have, in fact, a great incentive to be a very good world citizen, for the moment. The problem is, this only goes so far. Business has always valued stability of the moment over real democratic institutions, which are almost always more stable. There's no evidence that big business has learned this lesson, and the more heavily invested they are in China, the less likely they'll be to tolerate any sort of social upheaval.
Make no mistake about China's long-term intentions - they want to kick us out of Asia for good. They see us much as we saw the old European empires around the turn of the century. Meddling in their hemisphere, and riding for a fall. They're playing for time, confident that it's on their side. Right now, China holds an increasing, although not decisive, portion of our outstanding Treasury debt. The deficit is now a national security issue. We're right to run onw short-term, but long-term, we can't let a hostile foreign power gain that kind of leverage over us.
Jonathan over at the Mangled Cat has a nice piece about a 15-year-old girl who thinks that circus animals acts are cruel. I'll admit, there's something a little sad about them. It's one thing for the shepherds to be doing their thing over at the Stock Show, another thing for an elephant to dance.
Animals have instincts, not rich inner lives full of imagination and deep life-fulfilling aspirations. The tiger that took off after Roy wasn't looking for a lateral transfer - he was reverting to instinct. Certainly it's not part of any bear's instinctual makeup to tango. But they also seem pretty adaptable. An elephant wasn't meant to dance, but he's probably not going back to the dressing room thinking he was meant for better things. You can't waste an animal's life in the same sense that you can waste a person's life. My lab's life, by his standard, is a waste, since he's not out retrieving ducks. But I don't see him complaining or launching petition drives to free the labs.
At least the ones in the circus get to do something. It's much sadder for me to walk through a zoo and see the animals pacing around in their cages. Is unending boredom cruelty? Probably, which helps account for the San Diego Zoo's enduring popularity. About that, I can only suggest that we need to do the best by them that we can. Not everyone can afford acres of faux-jungles and faux-savannah. But zoos should at least try to strive for providing more than a taxidemist could.
As for the 15-year-old, I wonder what she thinks of this?
Legislature Looks At Campus Liberalism
The Colorado legislature is considering a bill that would eliminate mandatory "diversity" "training," and ensure free speech on campus, effectively ending campus speech and thought codes. The liberal House Minority Czar Andrew Romanoff, naturally enough, considers it a "distraction." I went to school at a more conservative university, Virginia, although they now employ Julian Bonds for some mysterious reason. And now, in business school, I'm a little more insulated from the left-wing takeover of the campuses. Not that Buie Sewell isn't trying. But there's no question that prospective faculty get vetted for their politics, and that if anything constitutes a "hostile work environment," it's college campuses for conservatives.
This won't address that, Romanoff's fulminations notwithstanding. This bill is about students, not faculty. It's about conservative students enjoying the same free-speech rights that liberals make movies about, usually set in the 50s.
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
Flogging a Dead Horse
The Indispensible MEMRI has a timely reminder of what it is we're up against. It seems that the Saudi Press has been engaged in a long-term, vigorous debate over the uses of public flogging as a punishment for harassment and "congregating in front of girls' schools."
At first, I thought it said "blogging." Certainly there seem to be enough angry Saudis out there, many of them working for the Authority PV & PV. Maybe they dressed up their harassers in orange jumpsuits (the women in orange burkas, of course), and put them in stockades at computer terminals, keeping the "BlogForArabia.com" up-to-date. But no, they mean Thank-You-Sir-May-I-Have-Another flogging. Dozens every week, according to press reports.
Now the first thing to keep in mind is that the very same people who call in a SWAT team when a mother taps her kid in the supermarket aisle to keep him from spilling an entire shelf of Wheaties onto the floor, they have nothing whatsoever to say about this. Two or three whole generations have grown up, who would give you a blank stare if you said to them, "go outside, boy, and cut me a switch." (Well, they'd probably give you a blank stare at pretty much anything, but you get my drift.) This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does make you wonder why, if a little corporal punishment threatens to unbalance Johnny for the rest of his life, selling tickets to said punishment is just a respectable cultural expression of disapproval for groping.
Not that this makes the defenders of flogging defenders of womenhood. Allah, forfend! ISM, who would no doubt have a fit if it were suggested that going half-naked into a barful of drunken sailors on shore leave on Saturday night might not be the best way to, er, "promote virtue," are perfectly happy flying off to keep us from defending ourselves from people who think this way:
Talk about blaming the victim. "Long Fake Eyelashes?" This is all it takes to get some poor Saudi slob, straight from the mosque and the latest sermon, to work up a sweat? I guess if you're used to shapeless blobs, maybe. Explain to me how this doesn't play into every 70s detective TV series stereotype about the leering sheik. How on earth would he see the eyelashes, hidden under robes, veils, and tinted lenses. "Provocative veils?" What, do they have their phone numbers written across them?
Remember, we're not talking about a prison sentence here, with Ali Bubba to teach the real meaning of harassment. (Can you say, "Open, Sesame?") We're talking about a full-fledged, public beating of a grown man, and, as a warm-up act, a grown woman. It's a good thing it's so cheap, although that bit about a "skilled flogger" is a little creepy. Do they have flogging schools? Do you work your way up from the provinces to the Big Show in Riyadh or Mecca? "Russell Crowe stars in Flaggellator."
This guy teaches at a technology college. What chance does a society have of learning 21st Century technology from someone whose mind is still mired in pre-history? Just more evidence that confronting people with modernity doesn't mean they won't go retreating back into their diaphanous robes.
The Economics of Snowmobiles
Sunday's Post also carries describes the devastating effects of a judge's Yellowstone snowmobile ban on the town of West Yellowstone. It's the main portal of entry for snowmobiles into the Park. Businesses rely on stability and predictability to make decisions. Following the increase of winter tourism, many had expanded lodging, and bought new four-stroke machines. Nobody is suggesting they be made whole. And who knows where the money would come from for that, anyway.
Environmentalists are worried about the speculative life of a buffalo. In the meantime, real people are being destroyed here. Contrary to the assertions of those fit enough to ski for days without food or sleep, it's not just the five people who own the rental businesses are affected. It's all their employees. It's the hotel owners, operators, and their employees. It's everyone who sells gas or trail mix or goggles or chapstick or food.
And what she wants is what matters. As mentioned before, that buffalo didn't seem the least bit disturbed. I have no way of substantiating her claims on the Park Service complaints, and apparently the reporter didn't even try. Even then, how many people fill out forms in support of the status quo? I know I don't like crowding and noise, but I also know that if I start locking out other people, I may be next.
Secrecy vs. Content
In the Paul O'Neill flap (Rocket Man is on the air now with Mike Rosen debuking his claims), O'Neill, as much of the press, is focusing on the leak/non-leak, of classified information. This is secondary to the fact that the documents don't say what he claims they do. It's the same misplaced focus being placed on the leaked Democratic Judiciary Committee documents. The documents themselves in one case are exculpatory in the extreme; in the other, they convict their authors of malice. In both cases the content is far more important than their secrecy or release.
In the case of the Democratic papers, secrecy is useful for working purposes. But nobody's life it at stake, and if staffers can't be trusted to usea shredder properly, maybe they need to go back to the Tom Daschle Staffer School for some refresher courses in deniability. Even in the case of the Iraq papers, they're two years out of date, and clearly overtaken by events.
But the story the papers actually tell is either too complex or too disturbing for the press to handle. Secrecy is so much easier to understand. But so much more irrelevant.
Sunday's Denver Post carries a typically wrong-headed article about TABOR and its effect on Medicaid.
Diane Lucas can get a job. It says so two sentences later.
So which is it? I have no idea what other fiscal problems were besetting Dr. Lucas's business. It sounds to me as though there's a workable model out there, a combination of a standard practice and a certain amount of pro bono work. Of course, it's so much easier to blame me for not paying higher taxes, on top of what I already pay for my own insurance. On top of what I do already give to charity.
The ratcheting-down effect is real, but various "advocates" see state spending and taxing limits as the real enemy, and want to use any revision to eliminate the ratchet as a means to attack the whole notion. Usually these groups work independently. The fact that they're teaming up is an indication of both their weakness and the popularity of the amendment. Ms. O'Brien no doubt feels a particular need to point the spotlight onto TABOR. Her group is the main champion of one of the other legs of the triangle - Amendment 23, which mandates ever-higher spending on public education.
As is ever the case, the problem is that the state can't raise taxes at a whim. Ask California about that. Governor Owens strongly supports TABOR. If he wants to keep it, now may be the best time to cut a deal. He's termed out, and Colorado isn't so red a state that it couldn't elect a Democratic governor with a working legislative majority to gut the thing.
In further evidence that Colorado's politicans are just partisan, not crazy, it looks like they're getting together to protect the food industry from frivolous lawsuits from rich lawyers and their fat clients. I could stand to lose a few pounds, but to the best of my recollection, nobody either from the East Side Kosher Deli or at a brisket-laden Shabbat table, came over and pried my jaws open to get the food down.
Free Speech Disappointment
It's too bad that the Republicans are now going to the FEC, to get them to expand their regulation of 527 groups (named for the section of the tax code). Democrats have been way out in front of Republicans in organizing and funding these groups. The RNC, wanting time to play catch-up, wants the FEC to step in apply many aspects of McCain-Feingold to them, too. This is wrong. The way to counter these groups is to catch up. If that takes losing an election, or takes a little time, then that's what it takes.
I know, I know, in politics, you do what needs to be done. But the Federal Election Commission, I mean theexistence of the FEC in its current form, is a disgrace. Almost as much of a disgrace as McCain-Feingold. McCain-Feingold was almost completely a Democratic bill. Just as John McCain was the only Republican among the Keating Five, and the least implicated among all of them, so too was he one of the very few Republicans to support this monstrosity.
The Democrats supported McCain-Feingold and the Republicans opposed it, even though each party was acting in opposition to its own interests. The Democrats proved the Republicans point about money being like water - always finding its way around a blockage - by forming the 527 groups in the first place. Now the Republicans are proving their own point about the pernicious growth of government regulation.
If he can actually name another one, I'd be interested in hearing about it. As mentioned above, the loudest voices for shutting other people up have been the "progressive" ones.
Congress passes a law with strict funding provisions and restrictions on political speech. The President signs it. Both are confident that the Supreme Court will invalidate the worst portions of the law. The Court, to everyone's surprise, then upholds the whole thing. One party decides to encourage the executive to self-broaden its mandate. The executive agrees to do so under the rubric of the "spirit" of the law. No doubt the courts will be called in again to adjudicate. And I'm supposed to be relieved that the political process isn't being manipulated.
Monday, January 12, 2004
Like a Blind Man Reading Without Braille
Apparently, the O'Neill-Suskind "revelations" aren't all they're cracked up to be. Turns out the documents they claim show that Iraq war planning began, oh, when George W. was born, actually do nothing of the sort.
Friday, January 09, 2004
More Dean Theology
I seem to remember seeing the following quote in the now-infamous God-wouldn't-make-sinners interview, something like this:
That quote is no longer in the Washington Post story, nor on Lexis-Nexis. The reporter in question has no WaPo email address. Is it possible that this was humorous filler, never intended for publication? There's no correction, nothing. I know I saw this online. Any explanation, anyone?
UPDATE: I haven't been able to find any other reference to this quote. At this point, the only thing I can conclude is that it was either a reporter's error or an editing error. Too bad.
Thursday, January 08, 2004
Free To Choose
I was a physics major in college, not an economics major or a business major. I was the black sheep of the family, as both my sister and father graduated from McIntire at Virginia. So getting my MBA has required considerable backing and filling. I've recently been reading Milton & Rose Friedmans' Free To Choose. Although it was written almost 25 years ago, a number of the issues are fairly contemporary, such as the value of school vouchers in introducing competition to education. Friedman noticed early on the Left's desire to decrease freedom in order to will equality of outcomes.
He also makes another point. We exercise great power with our purchases, because they tend to be narrow choices. We can get close to 100% of what we want from a given purchase by choosing carefully. Elections, however, are a package deal. You have to set priorities, and unless you're the candidate, you'll get lots of things you don't like along with the things you do. Friedman keenly notes that this means we should reserve political action of things actally requiring consensus, rather than politicizing large swatches of our personal lives. Usually, we won't like the results.
Worth reading on its own is his description of the Great Depression's advance through the economy. We usually think of the stock market crash as being contemporaneous with the Depression, bank failures, apple carts, and sky-diving investors. In fact, the economy had begun to slow down in summer, the stock market bubble burst in October, but the bank failures didn't really start until the fall of 1930. Similar crises had ended painfully but quickly before. Why did this one go on?
First, the Fed failed to intervene in time to save the banks from a crisis of confidence. In the past, when recession turned into panic, banks facing a liquidity crisis could first turn to each other, and later to the regional Federal Reserve bank. But, riven by internal politics, the Fed refused to act decisively to save the Bank of the US (a private bank, despite the name). The name of the bank made it popular with immigrants and foreigners, but any large bank failure would have had much the same effect. (Interestingly, Friedman attributes its failure at least in part to anti-Semitism. The bank was one of the very few Jewish-owned institutions, serving mostly the Jewish immigrant community. I confess, I haven't been able to verify this. But I've never heard Friedman's reputation impeached on this point.)
The Fed, in fact, reacted by raising interest rates. Hoover raised taxes to balance the budget, and helped push through the high-tariff Smoot-Hawley bill. This triple-whammy helped turn what would have been a sharp, painful, but relatively short panic into the Great Depression. Friedman uses this to show that while the private sector generally was effective at halting panics and recessions, the Fed managed, within 20 years of its founding, to throw the world into economic chaos.
But the similarity to 1999-2000 is all too clear. A stock market bubble burst in early 2000, the economy went into recession shortly thereafter. The Republican response was to cut taxes and keep interest rates low. The Democratic response would have been to raise taxes and tariffs. While there's no evidence that a crisis of confidence in the banks was in the offing, it's almost certain that President Bush's tax cuts helped stave off what could have been a much worse recession, while the Democratic formula almost completely fails to learn from history.
The Virtues of Electability
Terry Neal at the Washington Post has an interesting take on the electability argument. He claims that Democrats, particularly Dean supporters, just don't care. They want to "send a message." I've seen elections where one side wants to "send a message," and I have to agree with Sam Goldwyn that the best way to do that is Western Union. The message that usually gets sent to the party establishment is usually quite different from the one that was dictated at the office. Something like "we have no idea about what national politics means."
Neal seems to think electability matters more after 8 years than 4, and he's probably right. This doesn't explain, though, where the Democrats came up with Michael Dukakis in 1988.
Note, though, that the fact that Dean supporters are more enchanted with the ride than the destination doesn't mean that Dean himself is. Dean wants to win. For a volunteer, it's a few-month party during off-hours or in-between classes. For the candidate, it's a brutal, grueling, harrowing years-long ride with personal, political, and character attacks, 16-hour days, and endless balancing of electoral politics, policy questions, and personal life. Nobody puts himself through this to lose.
Hail to Joe Gibbs
To anyone growing up in Washington, there are two Redskins coaches: George Allen, and Joe Gibbs. To Dan Snyder, a couple of years younger than me, and a whole hell of a lot richer, Joe Gibbs is The Man. I remember when Allen was fired, and the lean years of Jack Pardee. Joe Gibbs took over the team and went 0-5. Unlike Steve Spurrier, he retooled, changed entirely his notion of offense, went 8-3 the rest of the year, and won the Super Bowl (27-17 over Miami) the next year. He would win two out of three more appearances before switching to NASCAR. He would never come back.
Yesterday, he did. Joe Gibbs, the last guy who could make it work in DC, is back. It was like 1992 (37-24 over Buffalo)all over again. The next morning, I read every scrap of paper I could find about the game. Last night, I read every Washington Post article I could find. Suddenly, I was somewhere between 16 and 26, watching the Skins actually beat Dallas.
The first two Skins Super Bowl wins came during strike years, which no doubt made the third more satisfying. The second strike, some will recall, featured the replacement players. The Skins, under Joe Gibbs and Bobby Beathard, did their homework, got the best guys out there, and went 3-0 in the replacement games. Their replacements beat the Cowboys on Monday Night in the last replacement game played, a Cowboys team featuring some of their star players who had crossed lines to come back. And the regular Skins were the only squad to stay together and practice while on strike, and while their coach really couldn't even talk much to them. That's leadership - to hold your guys together when you're technically on the other side of a labor dispute.
Oh, and George Allen? Three years ago, his son became a Senator from Virginia.
Wednesday, January 07, 2004
For some reason, both the major media and the conservative portion of the blogosphere have been quiet about the Texas redistricting case. Given the courts mercurial nature of late, it's possible we're just not counting chickens. Powerline's Decaon points out that should the decision stand, it will all but assure the Republican House majority of surviving the traditional 6th-year backlash against the President's party.
As in Colorado, this was a partisan split, with the two judges appointed by Republicans forming the majority, with the Clinton appointee dissenting. Interestingly, the only thing, at least according to the Post, that the dissent could object to was the exclusion of disaffected Hispanics from Republican Henry Bonilla's district. This is a pretty thin reed, since it's clearly a political, not a racial minority, complaint. There's no evidence that the Hispanic vote, moved to another district, would be diluted, or that white Republicans in the new district wouldn't return the Hispanic Bonilla to Congress.
Idiotarian of the Year
Over at Little Green Footballs, the Idiotarian of the Year Voting for 2003 is underway. Michael Moore had won the primary, but St. Rachel of Corrie is bulldozing the competition in the final round, while my personal favorite, the International Solidarity Movement, languishes in 8th place. I can't feel too bad, since Dear Rachel is a special case of the ISM.
Last year's winner, Jimmy Carter, was excluded from this year's voting, on the grounds that it wouldn't be fair to the other worthy candidates. Since Jimmy's pretty much a perennial at this point, his exclusion is sort of an Idiotarian Lifetime Achievement Award. For some reason, I don't recall them mentioning this at the Carter Center...
Go to LGF, and do your patriotic duty. Vote for whomever you like, as long as it's ISM.
Tuesday, January 06, 2004
That's "well done!" to you. To Jonathan for getting through to Mike Rosen's show this morning, and asking Imam Kazerooni about those links on this mosque's website. Kazerooni is going to be on TV tomorrow night on another call-in show he frequents, so we may get another shot at him.
Duke University's Library - and Hamas
Duke University has decided to put up links and resource pages about Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian problem. The president of the Duke Conservative Union has detected a bias. I think he's got a point.
The University Librarian hides behind academic freedom in order to call Hamas a "political party," which is a bit like calling Glenn Close fond of Michael Douglas. Ah, yes, that, but so much more. All the Palestinian links get top billing. The UN even gets its own little refugee camp.
Mr. Ferriero, the University Librarian, argues that the site represents a diversity of opinions. Ah, that must be why they left Shas and the National Religious Party off of the list of Israeli political parties, while giving billing to the Socialists and, what's this?, Chadash, the Arab party in the Knesset.
When confronted with a lack of independent sources, such as Memri, Mr. Ferriero responds that, in effect, anti-Semitism doesn't have anything to do with Israel. Funny then that the section "Middle East at Duke" refers to the school's Hillel House. The "Collection of Links" includes a link to a list of Palestinian websites. For balance, it refers to Duke's Jewish Subject Resources, and the Jewish Virtual Library, not to any Israeli links site, like Wallah. If anti-Semitism isn't at issue, if this is a national conflict and not a religious one, why is Perkins going out of its way to point people to Jewish, rather than Israeli, websites? It may be the same impulse that forgives French Arab immigrants for gang-beating Rabbis and Jews out of frustration over Israel.
Under the "Maps," the Jewish Agency gets one map. Every other map links to the UN, to the Palestians, or to Gush Shalom. The Security Fence is always called the "Separation Wall." All three links to it are either Palestinian, Gush Shalom, or UN. Despite the presence of a perfectly good Israeli government site devoted to the fence. People who think this represents a "diversity of opinion" also never wondered why Jesse's Rainbow only seemed to have one color.
Speaking Truth to (Nuclear) Power
Jared has a fine explanation of why we shouldn't be fooled by Kim. Why we would allow ourselves to be fooled by any bad guys at this point is beyond me. Individuals such as he, Quaddhafi, the Mullahs, Robert Mugabe are so obviously corrupt and evil.
The genius of the American system is that it boxes its leaders into institutions. Those institutions need to allow for individual initiative and success, without becoming the exclusive tools of a few individials. We want neither the Western Front, 1915-1917, nor Napolean charging through Russia. People develop loyalty to the prerogatives of their institutions; even Republican Congressmen will resent a Republican President's usurpation of his privileges. None of these countries has anything even remotely resembling effective independent non-government institutions, never mind independent courts or legislatures.
They're not a prerequisite for our trust, or for an effective short-term alliance. But in a system without these restraining forces, the way to the top is usually with a gun. Not all dictators acquire a taste for making international trouble. Many Latin American generals came and went in an era of relative international peace. But the temptation is to blame your next-door neighbor Wilson, because isn't it spooky that you can't see his face, when things go south, and they always go south. Once they've opened that can of worms, the only box they should be kept in is pine with handles.
Owens Doesn't See His Shadow
Or maybe he does see his shadow. I can never remember. But it looks as though we're not in for 2 more years of budget worries. The state government actually seems inclined to reach a deal on the Gordian Knot of a budget we've been left. The Denver Post is reporting that Owens is starting to take a more active role in the negotiations. It seems he's been waiting for the legislative negotiators to define their positions a little more clearly before getting involved. When you control both houses of the legislature, you can do that. But any deal will require amending the state constitution, which needs 2/3 of each house before heading to the people for approval. The Republicans will need help in both houses, even if they maintain discipline, to push this through.
Owens is willing to deal on Amendment 23 and TABOR, trading off the ratcheting effect for the extra 1% yearly education increase. The Democrats want to "suspend" the 1% increase during bad times. I think getting rid of it altogether is the safer road. The legislature can make these year-to-year decisions about specific budget items as it is. There's always the danger that the bar is set too high, and the 1% never actually gets suspended. There's also the issue of the Gallagher Amendment. While voters rejected a change to it last fall, that was a standalone deal. They may be more amenable to changing it as part of a package. State Treasurer Mike Coffman, who would dearly like to run for Governor on having solved this problem, is proposing a three-way deal.
I've been very critical of Owens for not being out-front on this problem. It's good to see him showing up now, and hopefully he can get a deal out of it.
In a Denver Post article about economic the considerations of environmental bills:
Leaving aside that the least expensive thing to do is just to go out of business, he ignores the costs of enforced conservation. Having just come out of a recession, most companies are running pretty lean. If it were easy to cut costs, they would have. So any more conservation, assuming it's possible, will require new capital spending on energy-saving equipment. Now, in a low-inflation economy, this does make more sense, but wouldn't we rather have those companies increasing production and hiring more workers?
Thomas Sowell wrote a column recently about the woeful state of economics understanding in the country at large. When we're ignorant of this stuff, we can't hold our politicians to account. Worse, there's the chance that we elect ignorant people to (relatively) high office.
New York Times Corrections
The guys over at Powerline like to tweak the New York Times every once in a while for their corrections. Today's is a lot of fun.
Don't these people ever shop? I mean, outside the broom closets that pass for grocery stores in Manhattan. It may come as a surprise to them, in fact, it obviously does come as a surprise to them, that most of the country actually allows stores to get as big as they can afford to. Brought to you by the same folks who gave you rent control.
Depends on what you mean by "small." Haiti's kind of a small place, so maybe 15,000 is a lot. I mean, they doubled the average crowd for an Expos game. On the other hand, by 2008 they'll reach last night's Sugar Bowl attendance. "Small's" a relative term, and they probably shouldn't be so quick to correct themselves. I was on the Mall in Washington for our Bicentennial, and 15K would have been an embarassment. Then again, ISM would kill for that kind of turnout. They'd do they're killing over in Israel, but you get my drift.
They couldn't look this up? I know, 435 - 229 - 1 = 205. Still, Janklow was all over the paper, what, 5 minutes ago? Not an auspicious start to the year.
Monday, January 05, 2004
Howard Dean & Afghanistan
Hugh Hewitt posted a plea for help, for contemporaneous evidence that Howard Dean actually supported the war in Afghanistan. There doesn't seem to be much. A Lexis-Nexis Search of the appropriate news sources, from September 01 to March 02, on "Howard Dean" and "Afghanistan" turned up nothing. Well, almost nothing:
The recent ruling banning snowmobiles in Yellowstone has been commented on elsewhere, particularly in the Wall Street Journal,. The court ruled that a Bush Administration plan to allow fewer, cleaner snowmobiles was illegal, since the Clinton Administration had put into place a regulation banning them altogether. Now you need to be in extraordinarily good shape to see the park at all during winter, unless you want to be herded onto and off of busses like buffalo.
I'm lucky. Four years ago this month, I went snowmobiling in Yellowstone, and the place is tremendous. It's a completely different park from the RV-infested hot-springs Disneyland you get over Fourth of July weekend, when the traffic jam stretches the length of the park, and the wildlife have to wait for crossing guards to get around. It's certainly got fewer people, but it's also just - different. The snow is everywhere, the geysers go up with great billows of steam that last forever. The contrast between the thermal features and the world around them couldn't be greater.
And yes, there's wildlife. Coming back late one afternoon, I really needed to make time to return the snowmobile to the rental company, and a whole line of about 40 machines was lined up behind a buffalo. You don't pass a buffalo. You're told, as though you needed to be, that the buffalo has the right of way. The buffalo must have gotten the same briefing, because he knew who the sheriff was. If he had wanted to, he could have stepped off the path, or he could have gored 50 of us without breaking a sweat. He trundled along, backing up traffic, and he couldn't have cared less, because he knew ain't nobody gonna cross him.
Now the air behind him was cloudy, and the air at the entrance booths to the park, at West Yellowstone was practically blue with exhaust. But the newer machines and entrance limits could take care of that. Instead, a party voted out of office decided to keep you from seeing what I saw, pretty much forever. I don't think this is what Teddy Roosevelt had in mind.
Democrats Named Miller
Georgia Senator Zell Miller has a rip-roaring piece in today's Opinion Journal, letting loose with all of his frustrations with the current crop of Democratic pretenders. He's hard on Kerry and Dean, considering the first to be a phony and the second to be completely unelectable. But he reserves his best shots for Sharpton and Gore, with a glancing blow at the Democratic leadership that's visited this circus on his party:
Miller's a man with his priorities straight: "Like George McGovern in '72, Howard Dean has tapped into that anger. I think regrettably so, not only for the country but also for the party." Look at the order of "country" and "party." It's taken for granted that this is bad for the country, but he needs to prove that it's bad for the party. And it's also taken for granted that country comes first, and party second.
Good news on the property rights front. State legislators, led by a Republican from Broomfield, are proposing legislation restricting eminent domain to public projects, not private ones. I'd personally prefer to see an exception for areas that are truly blighted. Even then, though, one could argue that a truly devastated area can be bought cheap.
The cities are going to fight this tooth and nail, so it's also a good time for the citizenry to prove that local government is more responsive than state or federal government, by telling them to cut it out.
Saturday, January 03, 2004
Dean Gets Religion
Just in time for the Southern primaries. When originally asked about religion, Dean brought up a little spat with a local Episcopal church over a bike path. Now, it turns out, he was just shy. Bruce Catton was fond of writing that the American public, having practically invented the con man, was the hardest of all publics to con.
I have no way of knowing what's really in someone's heart, of course, but color me skeptical.
Spirit Bests Beagle
OK, no gloating. Joshua to Self, "no gloating." But to see that control room explode with joy when they made contact with Mars Spirit was still pretty moving. Not quite Apollo 13 moving, because there are no human lives involved. But someday, maybe in my lifetime, there will be.
A Colorado State Senator, a Democrat, wants to ban camera cell-phones from locker rooms. The risks here are obvious, but the remedy seems to be a bit off base. This means that if one has a camera phone, he needs to buy a second phone? He needs to carry a second phone? The genie is out of the bottle, anyway, and if someone want to take perverted pictures, he'll just get a small camera.
The risks here seem kind of limited, anyway. Cell phone companies keep track of outgoing calls, and the number of places where you're naked are probably fairly limited. Tracking down who was in a restricted locker room at the same time as you is probably a matter of spadework. There will be switches, with visible lights, proving that the camera is off. A million ways to make it harder to take inappropriate pictures.
These cameras actually could be a pretty useful security tool. Remember that the Flight 93 passengers were alerted to their eventual fate by cell phones. Imagine the usefulness of a camera on the inside during a terrorist situation. I'm not saying that people shouldn't be concerned about their privacy. Only that passing another unenforceable law is liable to start a trend that does more harm than good.
Friday, January 02, 2004
Hooray for Ouray
In anticipation of life starting up again, I've retreated with the dog to a little town called Ouray, hidden in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. Take a look at the picture on their site, and you'll see what I mean by hidden. Surrounded by mountains. The only way into town is, well, the only way into town. It's not hidden well enough, since all the hotels are booked.
Ouray started out as a mining town. Like most mountain mining towns, there's a stream running through the middle of it, carrying gold flakes. Once the mining dried up, the town became a tourist spot, taking advantage of its remaining resource - ice. That the town wasn't flattened by an avalanche 6 months after it was founded is a testament to the steep, rocky faces that the mountains turn towards it. But the water does melt, and forms these:
That's right, icicles bigger than your house. Icicles so big that Joe Nacchio wanted to put cell repeaters on them for Qwest, until somebody pointed out that they melt. They not only melt, they break - take a look at the remains over top that lady's head. People climb this stuff competitively. One of the restaurants in town has pay-binoculars so you want watch your favorite climbers slow ascent, and hopefully not-too-rapid descent.
The town itself is small, cute, and likely to stay that way. There's no place for the town to grow, sort of a natural smart-growth plan, so the housing prices actually rival those of Denver. It's been snowing the whole time, which is probably par for the course, but hides the mountains behind the ones you can see.
There's some speculation that Dean will try to run to the left rather than the center in the general election. I don't think so, yet, but I don't see what other options he has. There's nothing in Dean's performance so far that indicates he wants to do anything other than win. Sealing the records, managing his money smartly, attacking the Washington party, which often works for the party out of power. In Vermont, he wasn't a raving lunatic. He was probably planning this campaign for several years, possibly since 2000. (Even Jimmy Carter decided to run as early as 1972. The staff of one of the Vermont newspapers has a book on him out, presumably compiled from their reports. It's worth taking a look at.
He's almost certainly counting on the convention to "reintroduce" himself to the public. Clinton had made many mistakes by the time of the 92 convention, but used it effectively. There are a couple of reasons this might not work for Dean. In 04, the public has seen much more comprehensive pre-convention coverage of Dean. Count on a lot of that coverage to be White House advertising. People aren't looking for a reason to vote against Bush. Unless something catastrophic forces people to give Dean a second look, nothing he does at the convention can help him there.
Also, 92's Democratic convention was stage-managed wonderfully by a party desperate to win. But a majority of Dean supporters want red meat, and the convention will have to feed that beast, or risk a listless floor. He's declared war on party establishment. If they don't think he can win, they have little or no incentive to cooperate with him. Dean probably won't listen to establishment advice that says he risks costing the Democrats a lot of races lower down, either. These factors may limit his ability to stage a moderate convention.
Hope for Hong Kong
This is a hopeful sign. Still, I can't think of any reason why the government should give in. Nobody's going to riot, and sadly, the government has plenty of legal ground to stand on.
More on Indian Casinos
Turns out that the proposal for an Indian casino near DIA is attracting opposition. Actual Arapahoe and Cheyenne from other states don't seem interested, local and state political opposition is building. Finally, the money for the project was supposed to come from compensation for the Sand Creek Massacre. Only the settlement was supposed to go to survivors and their descendents, and they don't seem to keen on having their settlement spent this way. Don't expect the idea to go away, though.
Dean the Scientist
I got my first taste of Howard Dean on Sunday on C-SPAN, and while the sample size was small, the idiocy-to-sense ratio was pretty high, including this whopper (not an exact quote):
First of all, doctors aren't scientists, they're practitioners. Family practice doctors may come up with theories, but they're usually picking from a pre-selected, small set of theories, either diseases they're familiar with or fairly common ones. Mark Steyn has documented quite graphically how Canadian "scientists" pigeonholed all the SARS facts last year into a theory that quite needlessly allowed several thousand people to be exposed to, and several to be killed by, a deadly, communicable disease. Doctors don't create new theories. Doctors make use of the best science has to offer. But unless they're doing research, they're not scientists.
"That's why we're in Iraq?" Here Dean must be referring to the WMDs. As Hugh Hewitt points out, absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. It's still a big country, and the WMDs would be small. Maybe they don't exist, but there's not an intelligence service in the world outside of Baghdad that thought so 10 months ago.
Dean then went on to explain that the Administration's theory was the "global warming doesn't exist." Well, not exactly. The Administration's position is that there aren't enough facts to prove that we're causing global warming. That's a very different matter, leaving a specifc hypothesis unproved, rather than claiming to deny actual data. Michael Crichton has discussed how global warming theory appears to be arrived at by consensus, when science doesn't operate by consensus. But apparently this small subtlety was beneath the notice of trained scientist Howard Dean.
ISM Gets Professional
The Islamofascist sympathizers over at the International Solidarity Movement are becoming more professional, and causing more trouble, according to the Jerusalem Post. There are hundreds of well-organized "activists" infiltrating the West Bank and living there now, according to Israeli police. Most recently, they have been implicated in taking part in violence at a border site a mere 5 miles from Ben Gurion Airport. The "Peace Movement" is not peaceful, at all.
Israel needs to aggressively target these troublemakers. They're rank amateurs compares with Hezbollah. But any incident involving deaths or injuries to them could be a public relations nightmare, a la St. Rachel of Corrie. More importantly, the false hope, the aid and comfort they bring avowed enemies of Israel and the US, can only extend the war, and get more Americans and Israelis killed.
If the ISM is seeking to comfort fascists and suicide bombers, you can help by letting Israel know she's not alone. Go over to one of the links there on the right, and give a few dollars to the Magen David Adom, or Friends of the IDF.
Thursday, January 01, 2004
New Year's Resolutions
Going through the Carter Center, despite the humor below, really was a profoundly depressing experience. I grew up in DC, and in many ways, those were my formative political years. Along with the emergence of Ronald Reagan, that explains my lifelong allegiance to the Republican Party. They were years of pessimism, but mostly, years of less. Less money, less time, less world influence. Wear a cardigan and turn down the thermostat to 65. The Brezhnev Doctrine, that Communism could never be turned back in any country, meant less freedom around the world. Small cars became popular, never mind that you just lugged all the stuff on the roof. Smaller houses started to be appealing. David Frum talks a little about this in his book on the 70s. From 1976 to 1980, we were told to expect less, and to make do with it.
This was profoundly un-American, and Reagan, with his expansiveness was the perfect antidote to it. The Left read his optimism as simplemindedness. The country ignored them, and rediscovered its will to do. We got back to being us. In that sense, George W. Bush really is an appropriate heir to his mantle, and thank goodness for that.
So, New Year's is as good a time as any to dream big, and resolve to make those dreams happen.
Separation of Powers
It hasn't started out as such a good year for Chief Justice Rhenquist. He's miffed about a new law that reduces federal judges' discretion in sentencing, and requires reports to Congress about judges who do depart from guidelines. He suggests that Congress should have consulted the judiciary before acting. Given this year's judicial Parade of Travesties, from the 9th Circus to the Supreme Court to the 2nd Circuit just a couple of weeks ago, I don't think he has much to complain about.
Separation of powers only works when each branch stands up for its own prerogatives. That's what Rhenquist is doing here, and there's not even a hint that he'd brook any violation of the law by a federal judge, only that he's displeased with it. But the judiciary has invited this sort of thing with it attempt to run the country from the bench. No doubt, it's only a matter of time before some federal judge declares that portion of the law invalid. Rhenquist's complaint is practically an invitation to do so. The executive and legislative branches have been much less vigorous in their own defenses.
Happy New Year