Saturday, October 01, 2005

Howard Dean's Secret Memo

To: DSCC, DCCC, & NYT (Except David Brooks)
Fr: Howard Dean, DNC

YEEEEEAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH! It has been a good week, hasn't it?

In light of recent events, I'd just like to make a few recommendations. First, mention Hurricane Katrina whenever possible. For example, in response to the confirmation of John Roberts, an effective answer might be: "While I am disappointed that John Roberts has been confirmed as Chief Justice, what about the justice for the victims of Katrina? Or, if asked what the Democrat exit strategy is in Iraq, since we haven't come up with one yet, you might answer with "A lot better than FEMA's exit strategy for those fleeing Katrina!". Then move on immediately to the next question. No point in getting into specifics, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Blanco are Democrats, after all.

Along these same lines, we want to work Tom DeLay as often as we can.

Q. Will the Democrats in the Senate even make an attempt to work with the White House on the nomination of (fill in the blank, it doesn't matter who Bush nominates, we're going to oppose it.) to the Supreme Court, or will they use the fillibuster to delay confirmation?

A. That is a very good question. We are very troubled by the actions of Tom DeLay...

See how easy that is!

Find a way to mix in Bill Frist and the sale of his HCA stock as well; remember the standard to which we hold the Republicans is the mere appearance of impropriety; for us, as Al Gore demonstrated, it is "controlling legal authority". (Senator Clinton, the commodities queen, might want to lay off this one.)

Lastly, don't forget Bill Bennett. Mention him whenever possible expressing maximum outrage. (Note: Exclude Senator Byrd from this.)

If we move forward with this strategy we can't help but do well in 2006. We may even take back Congress. If that happens, at some point, eventually, we will actually have to develop a plan for governing.

We can all talk our future strategy over dinner. Senator Schumer, you're buying! You still have Lt. Gov. Steele's credit card numbers, don't you?

Friday, September 30, 2005

Damn You, Scott Ott!

I learned a valuable lesson tonight: do not have liquid in your mouth when going to Scrappleface. This is particularly true of brandy, which is quite painful in the nasal passages.

The headline:

NARAL Applauds Bennett's Pro-Choice Remark

Read the whole thing. If there is a better satirist working today, show me.

Someone Worth Reading

I am embarrassed to say I have only now discovered Michael Totten. Go to his site and bookmark it. Roger Simon, an admirer, calls him a liberal so I am going to add him to the blog roll as such, but his writings are too damn good to classify so easily.

The guy also walks his talk. He has the stones (or whatever gender-specific adjective you prefer) to be on his way to the Middle East to write for the next six months. He arrives in Lebanon today. Safe travels, I look forward to your posts.

Michael is from Portland. The next time I am there, and if you are around Michael, the Clear Creek Brandy is on me.

Bennett's Gaffe

Bill Bennett is a bright guy who said something stupid.

Bennett, on his radio show, "Morning in America," was answering a caller's question when he took issue with the hypothesis put forth in a recent book that one reason crime is down is that abortion is up.

"But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down."

Steve Levitt's book Freakeconomics, the book referenced by the caller, is a tour de force largely because it does something few books do today; propounds arguments a posteriori. Levitt readily concedes his hypothesis that legalized abortion correlates to a lower crime rate may be morally offensive to some. But the manner in which he marshals his facts, and the disinterested way in which he is an explicator of them, is powerful. (This is why I have contempt for Paul Krugman, yes, Clark Medal Winner Krugman [in 1991; Levitt won it in 2003]. Krugman starts with the premise "Republicans are bad, George Bush is worse, and then, as if at a buffet, picks and chooses the facts that conveniently support this belief.) Levitt also writes about why Sumo wrestling is probably fixed, why it might not be in the best interests of a homeowner to use a Realtor, and how teachers cheat on behalf of their students on standardized tests, so his book is largely apolitical.

Mr. Bennett should apologize, if he already hasn't. It was ill-advised to pick a specific race in order to make his argument; Bennett's opposition to abortion is well-known and now instead of discussing the morality of abortion we are discussing the immorality of racism. He shouldn't attempt to explain his way out of it. Having done that, the matter should be closed, in the same fashion that Jessie Jackson's remark that New York City was "Hymietown" was dropped.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Kurtz: The Horror!

Howard Kurtz knows what the hell he is talking about in the matter of Tom DeLay. Some choice excerpts:

Back in January, House Republican leaders backed off a rule change that would have allowed senior officials in the chamber--say, maybe the House majority leader--to hold onto their posts even if indicted.

Boy, that looks huge right now.

The leadership caved because of rank-and-file complaints that the party would send a lousy message by protecting one of its leaders who was charged with a crime. And with Tom DeLay's indictment yesterday, it's clear why they were so worried. DeLay stepped aside within minutes.

Yes, trying to change the rules at the beginning of the year was a disgrace and it did send a lousy message from the party that claimed, in 1994, to be the party of reform.

Some Repubs are reacting by criticizing the indictment--exactly the sort of thing they scoffed at when Clinton and his allies were ripping Ken Starr's tactics. Sean Hannity (with Colmes banished for the segment) told his first guest he couldn't figure out what the indictment was about. The guest? Tom DeLay, who called the case "ridiculous." Interestingly, DeLay complained about the "politics of personal destruction," a phrase popularized by Bill Clinton, whose ouster the Texan crusaded for ("Anybody who lies to a grand jury ought to be impeached.")

All true. But who watches Hannity and/or Colmes for discourse, or Crossfire, for that matter? Want a reasoned discussion, try the NewsHour or Charlie Rose, both on P.B.S.

"As ye sow, so shall ye reap." This is a lesson the G.O.P. is learning now. Was President Clinton, in the words of Nebraska Democrat Senator Bob Kerrey an "unusually good liar"? Of course. Did he embarrass and perjure himself over Monica? Yes. Was that muted by Republicans hounding him for six years previously with TravelGate, TrooperGate, WhiteWater, and on and on? You betcha. Did the G.O.P.'s impeachment of the president hurt them? Ask former Congressman Jim Rogan about that...

If DeLay is convicted, throw him in jail and out of Congress. Make sure he is stripped of his federal pension, while you are at it. But beware those who already profess his guilt; these are some of the same people who believed in Lynne Stewart's innocence even after her conviction and Martha Stewart's guilt before her indictment. (And for the love of God, don't take this as an endorsement of Martha.)

The Hammer Gets Nailed

Tom DeLay's indictment, and the response it has evoked, has unfolded in a manner that is entirely predictable. Republicans have reviled the prosecutor as a Democrat partisan with an obsession of bringing the House Majority Leader down. Democrats have spun the indictment as the work of a thoughtful and meticulous prosecutor who has complied unassailable evidence of DeLay's guilt. Both may be true.

I haven't been a fan of DeLay's tenure as Majority Leader; some of aspects of his personality that made him a very effective Majority Whip have rendered him unpalatable for the higher profile of Leader. To be sure, he is no more offensive than Senator Schumer of New York, that is an unreachable standard, but considering the way in which the Republicans spoke about governing in 1994, and what has happened since then, most of the G.O.P. management of the legislative branch has been disappointing. His recent comments on pork and governmental spending, noted in a previous post, are particularly appalling.

DeLay's behavior, and his reaction to criticism of it, is reminiscent of Dan Rostenkowski's arrogance: l'etat cest moi. (For future reference, allow me to point out that Rostenkowski, who pled guilty to mail fraud, was pardoned by President Clinton in 2000.) Controversy has swirled about DeLay for years and much of it he has brought upon himself though his words and deeds. The "liberal media" argument doesn't hold water here. He has stepped down as Majority Leader, as he should have; let the judicial system do its job.

Deb Saunders, an acute observer of the political scene and a conservative who writes for, are you sitting down?, the San Francisco Pravda, oops, Chronicle, has an essay today on the real troubles with DeLay of which his latest legal entanglements are just icing on the cake.

A political party is in big trouble when a criminal indictment may be the best thing that could happen to it. Yet it may well be that the indictment by a Texas grand jury of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay finally prods GOP biggies to stumble before a mirror and take a long look at what they have become. Only a mother could love the bleary, bloated faces staring back.

DeLay most certainly is guilty of losing touch with the American public. You could see it in his recent statement that the GOP-controlled Congress had cut all the fat in federal spending. Even before Katrina, domestic spending -- not including homeland security and defense -- rose $303 billion since 2001, according to the American Conservative Union. Yet DeLay, who says he wants less government, declared "victory" on overspending.

Defiant in his own defense, DeLay faulted "the politics of personal destruction" Wednesday. No, like the GOP giant Newt Gingrich before him, DeLay should recognize the politics of self-destruction. It's an old story. A scrappy young man goes to Washington to change the political culture, only to become the very things he once resented -- a defender of bloated government and a party hack who put power before principle. But he doesn't change the system, it changes him.

A Glimmer Of Hope

Go here to read about the actions of Nevada Senator John Ensign who is one of the few members of Congress who seem to want to do something about pork. (Thanks, Professor Reynolds.)

Making substantive headway against federal spending run amok has to start somewhere and it sounds like this group is on to something. I am hopeful that they can attract a few Democrats as well.

International "Freedom" Center Nixed

In a story first reported by NY1, Governor George Pataki has cancelled plans to build the controversial International Freedom Center at the World Trade Center site - and representatives of the center say the location change has forced the entire project to be scrapped.

The center had drawn criticism from some 9/11 victims' family members because it would not focus exclusively on the terror attacks. Family members also said the IFC could potentially contain exhibits that were anti-American. Pataki said Wednesday that he's given the center a chance to clarify its intentions, but there's just too much opposition. In a statement, Pataki said: “The creation of an institution that would show the world our unity and our resolve to preserve freedom in the wake of the horrific attacks is a noble pursuit. But freedom should unify us. This center has not.” The governor asked the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to work with the IFC to explore other locations for the center, but representatives of the center have decided to scrap the idea completely.

Good. And, according to the Maureen Dowd theory of grieving mother/media whore/compensated speaker Cindy Sheehan, anyone who lost a loved one at the World Trade Center speaks with "absolute moral authority", right?

Family members from support groups gathered Monday at the site to launch a campaign to "take back the memorial" weeks after a model for the first cultural building was unveiled.

"If the memorial fails to convey how we as Americans value the loss of life, if it fails to tell the story to those who visit 100 years from now, then we as a nation have failed," said Mary Fetchet, founder of Voices of September 11th, whose son, Brad, 24, died in the twin towers.

The site of the 9/11 attacks is not the forum to discuss anything other than the barbarity of the attacks, the heroism of those who died in trying to save others, and the resilience of a great nation. Imagine the outrage had interest groups insisted on a display of the "root causes" for the actions of Timothy McVeigh. Christ, even Hillary triangulated against the I.F.C.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Econ 102, Continued

Well, I had to shoot my mouth off, something that isn't an uncommon occurrence, unfortunately.
Jayanta Sen, a Ph. D in finance from the University of Chicago and professor at Ohio University has posted a link in the "comments" section that should be investigated regarding oil prices, taxes, and government regulation.

http://econstimulusgastax.blogspot.com

Good luck and bring your math with you. My only hope is that Ketel One makes me smarter...

Thanks for visiting, Jayanta.

Econ 102

If Paul Krugman wasn't proof enough that most journalists don't know the first thing about economics, the Post's editorial this morning should lay any doubts to rest. After making the inevitable Jimmy Carter/cardigan sweater comparison to Bush's call to conserve energy, comes this:

If Mr. Bush really wants to promote more careful energy consumption, he ought to tax it.

Of course! Because taxes are the answer to everything!

Precisely because consumers are already outraged by fuel prices, a further, tax-induced price increase would force demand down more sharply than it would in normal market circumstances.

I am sure the airline and trucking industries will be delighted with this proposal. Does the Post further consider the degree to which an added surcharge on fuel would be inflationary? Put another way: Look around you. How much of what you see got to you through transportation? Who absorbs the cost of higher fuel taxes? Every American consumer not living in a fortified compound somewhere in Idaho. (Which is starting to sound like an attractive alternative.) Homeowners, many of whom are leveraged due to current high housing prices, must also be enamored with the idea of higher inflation and, as a result, higher interest rates.

But the sharp reduction in demand would cause the pretax fuel price to fall sharply, too, offsetting the after-tax increase.

So as I understand it, the Post is saying that their genius plan to reduce oil consumption, and therefore the price of oil, will successfully keep prices right where they are, but with more taxation. Brilliant!

What about more oil exploration? Tax incentives for companies (especially start-ups) to develop alternatives to the internal combustion engine? A national plan for more refineries? Clean-burning coal? Shale oil? Nuclear power? The WaPo is strangely silent.

Such jejune writing reminds me of what Reagan once said about those with a similar philosophy:

"If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidize it."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Oh Dear God

The Reliable Source has this gem:

Senator Ben Affleck.

If you liked him as Bennifer . . . you'll love him as Benator!

That's the hot new idea being tossed around by Virginia Democrats, who are desperately searching for a big name to challenge the reelection bid of rising GOP star Sen. George Allen next year, now that outgoing Gov. Mark Warner has ducked out.

How low can the Democrats go? Affleck, the Art Garfunkel to Matt Damon's Paul Simon, doesn't even have the talent to act the part of a Senator. I have furniture smarter than him.

On the other hand, Caligula made his horse a Roman Senator.

"Hey Ben, what's two and two?" (Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. Stomp.)

Monday, September 26, 2005

Yawn.
















Grieving mother/media whore is at it again, and as you can see, she is positively disconsolate over the loss of her son and arrest.

Cindy Sheehan, the California woman who became a leader of the anti- war movement following her son's death in Iraq, was arrested Monday along with dozens of others protesting outside the White House.

Sheehan, carrying a photo of her son in his Army uniform, was among hundreds of protesters who marched around the White House and then down the two-block pedestrian walkway on Pennsylvania Avenue. When they reached the
front of the White House, dozens sat down _ knowing they would be arrested _ and began singing and chanting "Stop the war now!"

Police warned them three times that they were breaking the law by failing to move along, then began making arrests. One man climbed over the White House fence and was quickly subdued by Secret Service agents.

Sheehan, 48, was the first taken into custody. She smiled as she was carried to the curb, then stood up and walked to a police vehicle while protesters chanted, "The whole world is watching."

The Post Bats .500

An editorial in the Post this morning is, in light of its previous support of John Roberts, confusing.

Yes, the argument for diversity on the Court is laudable, but how would the MSM feel if Bush picked an African-American woman like Janice Rogers Brown? They would be apoplectic. Because that is not the kind of diversity they mean; they are talking about what they consider ideological diversity, by which they mean "moderate" which is another way of saying "liberal".

Their accusation of Justice Thomas being the most "radical" member of the Court is laughable. What about Justices that look to the opinion and laws of foreign countries to help guide their interpretation of the United States Constitution? Isn't eviscerating the takings clause and allowing the indiscriminate use of eminent domain radical?

The Post, like many on the Left, have a reverence for stare decisis that is... convenient. Yes, such a philosophy should guide all nine Justices but if it required absolute fealty, would we ever have had Brown? Would the Post care to defend such respect for precedent in such a case?

The disheartening fact is that for many stare decisis means "upholding Roe" and little else. Certain residents of Connecticut may beg to differ.