Monday, February 28, 2005

The uselessness of the MSM: can they find Lebanon on a map?

One of the major factors contributing to September 11th was the failure of the MSM. Its decision to ignore the numerous factors indicating that terrorism was a threat to America was key factor in a tragedy.

Far too little has changed. This is not the place for full review of the failures of the post-September 11th media. But tonight is a case in point.

Lebanon is on the brink of revolution. Thousands of protesters have flooded the streets. And as of 10.00pm the MSM webpages give us...

CNN leads with Steve Fossett trying to set a record for flying around the world.
ABC leads with the bin Laden/Zarqawi connection.
CBS leads with Michael Jackson.
Fox leads with the east coast snowstorm, Michael Jackson, and bin Laden/Zarqawi.
Only MSNBC leads with the Lebanon revolution.

Absolutely useles...

UPDATE: Maybe I should subscribe to Al Jazeera--which at least knows news when it sees it.
Needless to say, the blogosphere is in high gear, starting with our friends at Instapundit.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Condi 2008--winning Iowa/NH

Some nuts and bolts...suppose Condi is running in 2008--how exactly would she win?

The GOP nomination: Iowa, NH
Iowa would certainly be the shakedown cruise. If it's really true that her campaign skills are poor, we'll find out very soon. Given the fact that she's been doing talkshows every Sunday morning for the last four years, I expect her to do very well in the debates--although I don't expect Reaganesque stump speeches.

The three candidates with the greatest name recognition would be Condi, McCain & Rudy. I assume here that Jeb is out it for 2008 (although I think he'd do well in Iowa if he ran). Condi will have the best foreign policy credentials of any of the three; she will be the only one of the top candidates who won't need on-the-job training to lead the war on terror. Neither McCain nor Rudy has had to deal with foreign leaders, manage a war, or make any of the tough decisions on the War on Terror. When it comes to national security, Condi will trump any candidate in any party--and trump them in spades.

And I think Condi has a secret weapon for the primaries: Rush. Now this man clearly has a serious crush on her. Not to mention the fact that he seems to loathe McCain only somewhat less than he loathes Michael Moore. And Rush is not going to back Rudy, who is simply a New York liberal who is tough on terror and crime. That leaves Condi among the major candidates. I think Rush will be doing pro-Condi broadcasts every day throughout the primary season, and that will make it tough for either Rudy or McCain to knock her off.

More important than Rush, count on W to back her strongly: he can't do it openly, but I think W will make it clear to friends and associates that he is strongly behind her candidacy. As I've mentioned in other posts, there is good reason to think that W is looking to her as his successor.

In any case, Condi will campaign in Iowa as one of the top three candidates--and she may well be the frontrunner as early as November, if not earlier.

Problems? Yes: the Iowa GOP is very pro-life. Condi will need to solidify her pro-life credentials. If she doesn't, she will compete with Rudy for dividing up the non-pro life vote, and in the Iowa GOP primary that's not very large. If she does solidify her credentials, she will carry Iowa over McCain (whose grassroots support seems to wither by the week).

New Hampshire is very tough to read since NH's relationship to the Iowa results are complex. But if she carries Iowa, she can carry NH too. From there it would be on to the South where I think Condi will do well: she carries herself like a Southern gentlewoman, and I think the NY media will be amazed at her ability to pick up those guys with Confederate flags and gun racks that Dr Dean has talked about.

One other thing: once Condi wins her first primary, the MSM will puff Condi almost every chance they get. Yes, they will mention the glitches in her resume that have sometimes troubled them as long as she's a way of getting at W. But the biggest bias of the MSM is a bias for a good story. And "black woman as GOP nominee" is the best story in the primaries. Once she wins a primary, they will give her heavily favorable press throughout the primaries, only getting seriously critical after she clinches the nomination. She will be the #1 story (Hillary's coronation on the other side will be parallel, but secondary). And we will be flooded with Condi-Hillary stories from January on.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Condi: felling some presidential timber...

I should say at the outset that American Thinker is a new discovery for me. There are some very good, very sharp pieces posted over there. I'm going to take issue below with a recent post on Condi at American Thinker by Steve Warshawsky. My comments are after SED CONTRA. Here goes:

Beware the Condi bandwagon
February 15th, 2005

I am as pleased as anyone with Condoleezza Rice’s initial performance as Secretary of State. She’s a smart, articulate, passionate defender of America and George W. Bush’s foreign policy vision. But all the excited talk about “Condi for President” is wildly premature, and even dangerous to the conservative cause. For all her virtues and strengths, and she has many, Rice simply is not presidential material. This is not a criticism. Plenty of highly accomplished, successful people are not made out to be President. Rice is an outstanding cabinet official and a shining star in the Republican firmament. But she lacks the background and experience to be a credible, let alone winning, candidate for the White House in 2008.

SED CONTRA: There's nothing wrong with her background or experience. Back in the 1970s nobody saw anything ridiculous in Henry Kissinger as a presidential candidate--it was his place of birth, not his credentials, that were the issue.

No one starts his (or her) career in elected politics by running for the White House.

SED CONTRA: But that's exactly what Ike did.

True, Dwight D. Eisenhower never ran for political office before being elected President. But Ike won World War Two! With all due respect, Condi is no Ike.

SED CONTRA: The key thing is name recognition and star power. Condi has both. She can walk into any GOP primary in 2008 with 100% name recognition and high favorability ratings. If she wants the GOP nomination, she'd be very difficult to beat. Her success as national candidate for the GOP depends principally on two things: she has to convince whites they can trust her--and there's no reason she can't do that if she tries (a little help from Karl Rove wouldn't hurt). And she has to convince blacks that she's not an oreo (to put it bluntly). I think if she wins the GOP nomination the "Condi's an oreo" meme will collapse of shame and embarrassment.

(This is not necessarily a bad thing, of course, but it means Rice has no chance of becoming President in 2008.) Even Hillary, who has presidential ambitions of her own, realized that she had to start by winning a seat in the U.S. Senate. If Condi wants to be a serious candidate for the White House someday, she needs to pursue a similar course.

SED CONTRA: As above, there's no political reason why Condi can't go straight to the top.

I would not recommend that she run for the Senate, however. The American President is the chief executive officer of the nation, not the chief legislative officer. He has advisors for that. Not surprisingly, successful presidential candidates overwhelmingly come from an executive, not legislative, background. Since 1900, almost every elected President previously served as governor or Vice-President (or President via succession): McKinley (governor of Ohio), Teddy Roosevelt (governor of New York and Vice-President/President), Wilson (governor of New Jersey), Coolidge (governor of Massachusetts and Vice-President/President), FDR (governor of New York), Truman (Vice-President), Johnson (Vice-President/President), Nixon (Vice-President), Carter (governor of Georgia), Reagan (governor of California), George H.W. Bush (Vice-President), Clinton (governor of Arkansas), and George W. Bush (governor of Texas). In addition, Taft (Secretary of War/governor of the Philippines), Hoover (Secretary of Commerce/head of European relief efforts during World War One), and Eisenhower (Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, during World War Two) all had strong executive-level credentials. Only two elected Presidents since 1900, Harding and Kennedy, made their names as Senators, and Kennedy is another exceptional case. (Trust me, Hillary won’t be the third, but that’s another article.)

SED CONTRA: Taft, Hoover, and Eisenhower are excellent examples of cabinet-level officials who went straight to the White House. Powell could probably have pulled it off if he'd wanted (and if he'd failed, it wouldn't have been for lack of credentials, but because of his liberal stands on some issues). Statistically, it's a (somewhat!) more frequent path to the White House than the Senate. I would add too that whatever Giuliani's limitations as a presidential candidate, I don't think lack of credentials (Senate/Governer/cabinet) is the problem. Ditto Condi--her credentials are in order.

Rice plainly lacks these credentials. Her academic and policy wonk backgrounds, however distinguished they may be, are not the stuff of Presidents. They might impress the chattering classes, but they do not mean much to average Americans who expect their President to be a “take charge” CEO-type, who can be trusted to manage and control the awesome machinery of the federal government. Rice has never even managed a business or led a major organization, let alone exercised executive branch authority at any level of government. Her role as Secretary of State is her first significant political position. Give her time to prove herself in this job, and perhaps win election to statewide office somewhere, before even thinking about “drafting” her for the biggest job of all in 2008, or beyond.

SED CONTRA: If you can handle the State Department and help lead the War on Terror, Americans will trust you to lead the country. Condi's real political problems all revolve around the difficulties of a single black woman winning support from the married white couples that are the bedrock of the GOP coalition.

If Rice were to run for President, her lack of executive-level credentials would not be her only weakness. Politically, she has no recognizable base of support. Although Dick Morris predicts she would garner support from African-Americans, Hispanics, and single white women (in addition to traditional Republican voters), this is nothing but crude identity politics masquerading as political analysis.

SED CONTRA: this is a little hard. The basic rule in politics is that you should do well among the groups that share your ethnic background. This rule holds at basically every level of politics, and there is no necessary reason for Condi to be different. She is all but certain to expand the GOP share of the black vote if she were at the top of the 2008 ticket. The real question is how much. If she can't shake the "oreo" label that some will apply to her as a black Republican, she will risk losing. To be specific: if she only gets about 15% of the black vote, then she probably won't win. If she gets 25% of the black vote or more, she will probably be unbeatable. The probability is that the dynamics of the campaign will run in her favor: day in, day out coverage of Condi as the first successful black to be at the top of a major ticket will probably revolutionize the black electorate. She could always blow it, but the odds are she would clean up big time.

What state, what region, what economic or cultural groups does she represent? The faculty of Stanford University, the members of the National Security Council, and the Board of Directors of various Fortune 500 companies, while useful friends to have, do not make up a winning electoral coalition. Tip O’Neill famously once said that “all politics is local.” While this may be an overstatement, it nevertheless highlights a key feature of American politics: successful politicians build their constituencies from the ground up. What is Rice’s constituency? Born and raised in Alabama, educated in Colorado, living for many years in northern California (hardly a Republican stronghold), and now working in Washington, D.C., she is a peripatetic modern professional. This may have been good for her career, but it is terrible for politics.

SED CONTRA: As an African American woman she has an excellent chance to sweep the major urban areas. As a Republican, she should be able to maintain the GOP base. If she does this, then the Dems lose and they lose in a landslide. Is it certain? No. Probable? Yes.

Another of Rice’s political weaknesses is her complete lack of domestic policy experience. Although she is a Cold War scholar and defense policy expert, the closest Rice has come to working on domestic policy issues is serving on the Board of a Bay-area educational foundation and as Vice-President of her local chapter of the Boys and Girls Club of America. While these are admirable endeavors, they are hardly sufficient for someone who wants to be President of the United States. Even after 9/11, domestic policy issues – including Social Security, health care, taxes, crime, education, tort reform, and welfare – remain the centerpiece of presidential politics. As governor of Texas, President Bush gained experience and credibility in these areas, something Rice sorely lacks. Rice needs to establish her own domestic policy bona fides, before she will be in a position to contend for the White House.

SED CONTRA: as a university prof she has excellent credentials for telling every family in America she knows exactly what to do to guarantee their children the best possible education. In fact, there is probably no candidate in the race for either party whose credentials are as strong. Education is a major issue with families and with married women: Condi has a chance to clean up here.

Finally, one cannot ignore the demographic factors that would play into a Rice candidacy. First, while I do not believe that Rice’s being black is a negative, neither is it a plus. I do not doubt that there are voters who would not vote for her simply because of her race, but I am convinced their number is too small to make any difference electorally. Nor is there any reason to believe that these voters are more likely to be Republicans than Democrats or to reside in “swing” states versus solidly red or blue states. So whatever political effect such racism would have is likely to be negligible. At the same time, there will be voters who will be energized by the prospect of electing a black President and “sending a message” that racism has been relegated to the dustbin of American history. (Much of the excitement over the prospect of a Colin Powell candidacy in 1996, which I shared, came from these sorts of feelings.) Although such sentiments are honorable, they are unlikely to motivate many Republican voters, who will refuse to play “diversity” games with the Presidency of the United States, or persuade many Democrats – who otherwise revel in diversity games – to vote for a conservative presidential candidate.

SED CONTRA: Here we get to the crucial issue: exactly how many votes will Condi pick up as a black woman? There's no real reason to think she'd do worse than Blackwell in Ohio--and she would probably do substantially better. On the other hand, I don't think she'd do as well as Colin Powell. We won't really know until she declares, and heads into the campaign. But the African American community is increasingly disenchanted with the Dean/Kerry white liberals who now control the Democratic party and who have more enthusiasm for gay marriage than the problems of urban America. If Condi wins the GOP nomination, BET and black radio and black newspapers across the country are going to be falling all over her.

Rice’s being a woman is a different issue, however. Whether we like it or not, most Americans – men and women – are not accustomed to having women in positions of significant authority outside the family. Moreover, I think it is safe to say that many Americans – men and women – view women CEOs, women generals, and women political leaders through a rather skeptical lens. Especially women generals. Do many people outside of NOW take them seriously, as leaders of men who go into battle to kill the enemy? I doubt it. Well, the President is commander-in-chief of the most powerful military in world history, one that is engaged in deadly hostilities, and deadly serious stand-offs, across the entire globe. Fair or not, the American people will not easily be persuaded to put a woman in this position. Consequently, any woman presidential candidate, including Rice, will be fighting an uphill battle to overcome this inherently pro-male bias in the nature of the Presidency. This is not an impossible task. Indira Gandhi, Golda Meier, and Margaret Thatcher all led their countries in wartime. But these three women rose to power in parliamentary systems, which have a different political dynamic than our constitutional system, making it easier for women to assume leadership positions. Nevertheless, I expect this threshold to be crossed here in my lifetime. But it will require a female candidate who has much more high-level political and business experience than Rice.

SED CONTRA: Steve, I don't know what you do for a living, but I spent ten years working in a hospital in Cleveland in the 1980s--and the Midwest that I lived in was ready for a woman president back then. We had women in authority at every level of the hospital from the CEO on down. On this one, I just think you're nuts. And part of the proof of it is the strong enthusiasm for Condi among the very conservatives that you might have thought would be most ambivalent. Steve, pal, the America that would have been fearful over women in power disappeared about 25 years ago... Yes, I think there would be some question as to whether any specific woman comes across as tough enough to stand up to America's enemies. But a man will have almost the same problem--and as W's Secretary of State, I don't think Condi's going to have that problem. And if it's Hillary vs. Condi, there's no question who America will trust on the War on Terrorism: Condi the elegant hawk will pluck the feathers of Hillary the dove (and no, Hillary probably won't be able to shake the dove label in Middle America: the GOP machine will see to that).

The 2008 presidential election will present Republicans with a potentially historic opportunity to strengthen their support across the country and solidify their status as the majority party in America. The choice of candidate to succeed George W. Bush will be critical to this goal. A weak candidate (a la Bob Dole) could allow the Democrats to retake the White House and make inroads in Congress. I do not know who the right Republican candidate will be. Many have suggested Jeb Bush. Others have promoted Rudy Giuliani or John McCain. Still others have plumped for Ken Blackwell, Ohio’s black Secretary of State who probably will be elected that state’s governor. Frankly, I do not think we will know who the viable candidates are until after the 2006 midterm elections. A lot can happen between now and then. But I do know that 2008 is not the time for Condoleezza Rice. Republicans should stop fantasizing about Rice and start thinking seriously about the next Republican President.

SED CONTRA: You're right that 2008 is important. And I agree that Jeb would be a good pick. But Condi is not a fantasy. If Powell had been kept on as Secretary of State, nobody would have said Powell was a fantasy as a candidate--except for his burning his bridges with the conservatives who are so important in GOP primaries, but that's another issue. No, Condi is the real deal. She has the potential to destroy the Democratic party for the next generation, and to do so with a power and breadth of coalition that no other candidate potentially has. Could she self-destruct? Sure. Absolutely...But so could the other candidates. Giuliani might be too socially liberal. McCain could alienate pretty much everybody (loose lips sink ships, Senator). Jeb might be too Bush, too soon. It's time to make Condi the front-runner...and watch the panic among the Democrats spread...

Thanks for the post! I disagree, but count me...

Cordially yours,


Blogs for Condi

Just recently asked to join the "Blogs for Condi" list.

1. Condi is the logical successor to W in leading the War on Terror. She has been Present at the Creation--as one previous foreign policy wise man once put it. The decision to place democracy as the key goal in the War on Terror was bold, brilliant--and deeply American. And Condi has been central to this decision. Her loyalty to the president, her intelligence, her class, her integrity, and her grace under fire, make her the logical choice as the next GOP nominee for president.
2. 2004 will in all likelihood turn out to be a re-aligning election. Realignments tend to be cyclical and generational, recurring almost like clockwork every 36 years: 1788, 1824/28, 1860, 1896, 1932, 1968--and 2004. The single greatest weakness in what will surely be called by future historians the Septmber 11th coalition is the weaknes of GOP outreach to non-white Americans. The solidification of the September 11th coalition is essential to victory in the War on Terror--and to America's liberty. The best current candidate to solidify that coalition is Condi. The GOP is fortunate to have a leader with her character and integrity at such a crucial moment in the history of the Republic.
3. President Aristotle is an absolutely no-compromise pro-life blog. We are not unaware that questions have been raised about Condi's pro-life credentials. Yet we are confident that Condi will run a pro-life Department of State, and that by 2008 her pro-life positions across a spectrum of issues will be clear.

Finally, we are not unaware that Condi herself is said to have dismissed interest in being president--which in light of the Gollum-like ambitions of most presidential candidates is yet another of her qualifications for the job. Eisenhower had the same reservations--but answered his country when she called upon him. We are confident that Condi can be counted on to do the same.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Political Genius of George W. Bush

"The Political Genius of George W. Bush" was a column by Carlos Watson shortly after the election--and since Watson writes for CNN, it was praise from an unexpected source.

Truthfully, I was dubious: this was a president who had gone from circa 90% approval ratings after September 11th; to circa 70% approval ratings after the fall of Baghdad; to sink within an eyelash of unemployment on 2 Nov 2004--not the usual credentials for political genius. If the occupation of Iraq had been executed with the same skill as the fall of Afghanistan, Bush would have been elected in a landslide. Instead, the thorough-going incompetence of the Bush team inflamed, infuriated, and divided the country--and nearly led to Bush's defeat. The historic drama of the Iraqi elections in January 2005 vindicated the wisdom of the invasion--but also highlighted the tragic mismanagement over the previous two years.

What makes my mind drift back to the Bush as political genius meme is the recent opening to raising the income cap on Social Security taxes--currently getting some discussion over at National Review. In effect, President Bush is placing on the table the possibility of a deal: he will agree to raising the cap on Social Security taxes, if Democrats will give him what he wants--personal investment accounts.

As a bold gambit to break the Social Security deadlock, this borders on the brilliant--and if he pulls it off, it will be brilliant. The initiation of private accounts for Social Security would be a revolution of FDR-style proportions--something acknowledged with hope by Republicans, and with fear and loathing by leading Democrats. But the bargain that President Bush is tacitly offering is going to be very difficult to resist: the President has an excellent chance now of pulling in just enough skeptics to get this bill past. And if he gets it, his claim to being a great American president will be lit up with neon lights--much to the nausea of the hate-Bush crowd.

It is worth noting that we have seen this kind of move from him before. The core of No Child Left Behind was to trade rigorous testing and accountability for a large increase in education funding--and in the end even Ted Kennedy and John Kerry voted for the bill.

The ability to come up with a creative middleground for partisans of every stripe is one characteristic of political genius. President Bush has pulled this off at least once before as president--and he may be about to do it again.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Condi 44--the most powerful weapon in the world...

Wonderful post over at The Shape of Days. President Bush--known within his family as "43" since dad was president 41--is rumoured to tease Condi with the nickname "44". A blogger then picks up the Clint Eastwood reference with a French twist: "feel lucky today, punque?"

I wouldn't want to vouch for the literal accuracy of the rumour. But I'd guess the basic drift is dead-on...quite apart from the president being an inveterate joker.

1. The president is not--at heart--an ideologue...notwithstanding his ability to put major ideas into inaugural addresses. As with his father, he is fundamentally about people: you wind up in Dubya's cabinet, not because you are a brilliant mind or an ideological soulmate; rather, you wind up in W's cabinet because he likes you, trusts you, and feels confident that you are loyal to him. Condi got her job because of all the people that might have been sent to State, Condi is the one to whom the president is closest on a personal level and whom he likes and trusts the best. The key here is the power of friendship.
2. W is one of the most ambitious men ever to hold the White House; he wants to be remembered as a great president, and he knows that a key part of that is installing a successor to carry on his legacy. He sees his legacy as principally in foreign policy and the war on terror. Now if you wear W's Texas boots, whom do you see as the most likely person to carry on your legacy in foreign policy after you are gone? Cheney?--he's out. McCain?--these two guys don't really get along. Giuliani?--there's a reason W couldn't find a place in the cabinet for Giuliani. From W's vantage point, the most logical successor is probably the woman he just appointed Secretary of State: Condi.
3. Never been a black, unmarried woman president?--that's probably in part just what W likes about Condi: it gives W an opportunity to break the mold, to do something never done before in American history. If W set the stage for the first black president--not to mention the first black woman president--well, a chance to rewrite the history books is exactly the thing W is always gunning for.

Condi: .44--with a bullet...

The death of Sr Lucia of Fatima (1907-2005)

"In the end my immaculate heart will triumph"--the words of the blessed Virgin to Sr Lucia.

Amen and amen.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Economic Freedom and the 7th Commandment: you shall not steal

Spent some time tonight looking at the economic freedom report of EFN: This is a thought provoking document, and I will call attention to a few points here.

1) Economic freedom is an essential part of controlling corruption. I was once asked by a business student why honesty in business was important: wasn't corruption just how you got ahead in the business world? I resisted the impulse to tell the student that his comment was a perfect example of how poor corrupt third world countries stay poor and corrupt and third world. EFN gives the data.

2) Economic freedom does not produce societies skewed against the poor: the share of national income held by the bottom 10% does not change very much when you expand economic freedom: the least free societies the poor command about 2.1% of GDP, the most free societies they command about 2.5% of GDP--the economically free societies are actually somewhat more even in income distribution, though not dramatically so.

3) The major difference is that economic freedom produces dramatically more successful economies: in the least free societies, the poor average $823 in per capita GDP; in the most free societies the poor average about $6877 in per capita GDP.

Aristotle had this scoped out in the fourth century BC--but EFN gives us valuable documentation.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Aristotle/Thomas & the Ownership Society from Cato

An excellent article from the Cato Institute on the Ownership Society:

Great Thinkers on How an Ownership Society Fosters Responsibility, Liberty, Prosperity
By Dr. Tom Palmer
January 2004

As the American Founders knew and as generations of serious students of society have long known, an ownership society is a society of responsibility, liberty, and prosperity. A number of policy initiatives - including creation of personal retirement accounts, expansion of medical savings accounts, and school choice - have been proposed recently that seek to strengthen an "ownership society." Such initiatives build on a long and deep tradition.


Ownership induces people to act responsibly. In The Politics, Aristotle noted that "What belongs in common to the most people is accorded the least care: they take thought for their own things above all, and less about things common, or only so much as falls to each individually." (Book 2, chapter 3, 1262b32, Carnes Lord, trans.) Thomas Aquinas observed in the Summa Theologica that property "is necessary to human life," "First because every man is more careful to procure what is for himself alone than that which is common to many or to all: since each would shirk the labor and leave to another that which concerns the community, as happens where there is a great number of servants. Secondly, because human affairs are conducted in more orderly fashion if each man is charged with taking care of some particular thing himself, whereas there would be confusion if everyone had to look after any one thing indeterminately. Thirdly, because a more peaceful state is ensured to man if each one is contented with his own. Hence it is to be observed that quarrels arise more frequently where there is no division of the things possessed." (Iia, IIae, Q. 66, Fathers of the English Dominican Province, trans.) In short, people take care of what is their own.

Indeed, the concept of ownership is at the very core of the idea of personal responsibility; we insist that people "own up" to their acts, that is, that they take responsibility for what they do. The philosopher John Locke, whose ideas had a strong influence on the American Founders, rested personal identity itself on the idea of ownership, for a personality "extends it self beyond present Existence to what is past, only by consciousness, whereby it becomes concerned and accountable, owns and imputes to it self past Actions, just upon the same ground, and for the same reason, that it does the present." (John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Book II, chap. XXVII, §26)

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Condi 2008

Condi 2008 is an idea with enormous potential--one rightly picked up by Dick Morris.

Patrick Ruffini is skeptical. The team at RedState is more positive.

1. The GOP has a serious problem with racial minorities. The Sunbelt coalition of 1968 (and afterwards) is built on whites: as Kevin Phillips rightly put it in his classic The Emerging Republican Majority, the Sunbelt coalition was based on white perceptions that the Democrats had gone from supporting equal rights for blacks to supporting special privileges for blacks. The basic rule for post-1968 presidential elections is that the GOP gets about 60% of the white vote, and the Dems get 90% of the black vote. As white voters decline as a percentage of the electorate, that is a formula for political obsolescence. Dick Morris knows exactly what he's talking about when he pushes Condi.

2. A logical place for the GOP to begin breaking into the black vote would be by running socially conservative black candidates on the national ticket. The question is whether Condi qualifies as a social conservative.

3. If Condi is really a "reluctantly pro-choice" evangelical, that's a problem--less in terms of outreach to blacks than in terms of retaining socially conservative whites. But notice her support with a very socially conservative Southern Baptist:

The Washington Times writes:

Many other evangelical and Catholic abortion opponents say they trust Mr. Bush and support — or at the very least reserve judgment on — his recent Cabinet nominations. "I know Condoleezza Rice and know something of the way she thinks and have tremendous confidence in her," said Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

If you know anything about Al Mohler, his support for Condi becomes very interesting--it suggests that she may well be much more socially conservative than some may realize. And it may indicate that she has the potential to do very well with white evangelicals.

4. Condi's biography is both strength and weakness: she's clearly a remarkable women. But will white blue-collar Democrats identify with a single black woman figure-skater with a PhD? Will married women identify with someone who doesn't have a family? There are ways to deal with these issues. Although she doesn't have a family, as a former Stanford prof she can credibly tell suburban women that she knows what we need to do to improve our colleges. Her national security credentials make her a logical successor to President Bush. But her biography is more of a problem than some may realize.

5. Charisma? I'm skeptical: the soundings that I've done about this suggest that she doesn't currently have the kind of appeal that Colin Powell carries.

6. Appeal to blacks?--the potential is there. But many blacks admire her--but don't really identify with her or know what to do with her. It may seem unfair, but the reality is that many African Americans--to put it bluntly--aren't totally sure right now how black she is.

7. The GOP: what is fascinating is the passion that many GOP conservatives have for her. She's marketable in the GOP 2008 primaries, for sure: instant name-recognition, and very strong credentials for the war on terror. If she can establish pro-life credentials, she can carry social conservatives.

8. All in all, she's a more logical choice for the VP slot than the #1 slot. But she has enormous potential. If she could pick up even 25% of the African-American vote while retaining traditional GOP white support, the Democratic party will find it all but impossible to compete--and the public perceptions of the two parties would likely shift dramatically as well. If she can solidify her support with social conservatives and reach out to Middle American whites, she has an excellent chance to solidify the Bush Realignment of 2004.

Cleveland Browns rock!

Mudville Gazette shows why the Browns are Condi's favorite team...

Sometimes it's Fun to Watch Football!
Sweet! The Chicago Tribune reports the sort of story that should be more common:
Fifty Marines got a special thank you for their service from the NFL's Cleveland Browns--a free trip to Sunday's Super Bowl.
The Browns donated 50 tickets along the 50-yard line to the football championship between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots for Marines who have served or will serve in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Some of the tickets, which cost $500 and $600 each, were passed out to stunned Marines on Friday at Camp Lejeune. Tickets also were given out at Parris Island training base in South Carolina, Reserve Command in New Orleans and Central Command in Tampa.
"I've been pinching myself all day," said Lance Cpl. Tony Agosto, 22, a heavy-equipment mechanic from New York. "I feel like a kid on Christmas Day."
Some folks might be concerned about exposing Marines to violence, but I say it's fun to watch football! Three cheers for the Browns!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

As America's greatest patriots head north...

February 8th, 2005 4:20 pm
Some Bush Foes Vote Yet Again, With Their Feet: Canada or Bust
By Rick Lyman / New York Times
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Feb. 4 -
In the Niagara of liberal angst just after Mr. Bush's victory on Nov. 2, the Canadian government's immigration Web site reported an increase in inquiries from the United States to about 115,000 a day from 20,000. After three months, memories of the election have begun to recede. There has been an inauguration, even a State of the Union address.
Yet immigration lawyers say that Americans are not just making inquiries and that more are pursuing a move above the 49th parallel, fed up with a country they see drifting persistently to the right and abandoning the principles of tolerance, compassion and peaceful idealism they felt once defined the nation.
America is in no danger of emptying out. But even a small loss of residents, many of whom cite a deep sense of political despair, is a significant event in the life of a nation that thinks of itself as a place to escape to.
Firm numbers on potential émigrés are elusive.
"The number of U.S. citizens who are actually submitting Canadian immigration papers and making concrete plans is about three or four times higher than normal," said Linda Mark, an immigration lawyer in Vancouver.
Other immigration lawyers in Toronto, Montreal and Halifax said they had noticed a similar uptick, though most put the rise at closer to threefold.
"We're still not talking about a huge movement of people," said David Cohen, an immigration lawyer in Montreal. "In 2003, the last year where full statistics are available, there were something like 6,000 U.S. citizens who received permanent resident status in Canada. So even if we do go up threefold this year, we're only talking about 18,000 people."
Still, that is more than double the population of Gettysburg, Pa. "For every one who reacts to the Bush victory by moving to a new country, how many others are there still in America, feeling similarly disaffected but not quite willing to take such a drastic step?" Mr. Cohen asked.
It will be six months, at least, before the Canadian government has any hard numbers on how many people are really making the move.
Melanie Redman, 30, assistant director of the Epilepsy Foundation in Seattle, said she had put her Volvo up for sale and hoped to be living in Toronto by the summer. Ms. Redman and her Canadian boyfriend, a Web site designer for Canadian nonprofit companies, had been planning to move to New York, but after Nov. 2, they decided on Canada instead.

Ireland and the Ownership Society

Katie at A Constrained Vision nails it:

Ireland with a bullet
In recent years, Ireland's economy has been improving rapidly:
Ireland, which was considered one of the region's poorer nations when it joined the EU in the 1970s, is now among the five wealthiest places in the world.Maybe it should be even higher. Dan McLaughlin, the chief economist at Bank of Ireland, says Ireland is now wealthier than the US as well. He cites Irish per capita GDP of €36 000 (R280 800) in 2004 compared with the US's $41 000 (R246 000).Ireland's success is even more remarkable because it doesn't have any special advantages:
The US is a superpower, with the world's reserve currency of choice; Norway has lots of oil, and not many people; while Switzerland and Luxembourg are secretive banking centres. Ireland has little to offer that other countries don't already have. It has even been lumbered with the euro.So what's the secret?
There are three main lessons that other countries should draw from the transformation of the Irish economy.Firstly, history doesn't count for anything. Few countries had as dismal an economic history as Ireland. It was dominated by a colonial power and suffered from famine, civil unrest and mass emigration. That hasn't prevented its transformation.Next, resources and geography don't count for much either. [Take that, Jared Diamond.]Ireland has few natural resources to speak of. And its geographic position isn't great. Stuck out on the western fringe of Europe, it's a long way from the region's main markets, and you need a boat or a plane to get there.Lastly, policy makes a difference. Ireland got a few big things right. It has lowered taxes.The corporate tax rate is just 12.5 percent, one of the lowest in the developed world. Income taxes are in line with European averages, with a top rate of 42 percent. [To compare, the marginal corporate tax rates in the US range from 15 to 35 percent.] Overall, government spending in 2003 was slightly more than 35 percent of GDP, about the same as the US and relatively low by European standards.In its 2005 report on economic freedom, the Washington-based Heritage Foundation ranked Ireland as the fifth-freest country in the world, just behind Estonia, and eight places above the US.Ireland has also encouraged companies from around the world to base themselves there. "There are no conflicts between capital and labour here," McCoy says. "There is a recognition that we are all in this together."Low taxes have been combined with excellent education, good infrastructure and a willingness to make global investors feel welcome.Hat tip to the Market Center Blog.

Terrorism and Columbia University

Alan Dershowitz--of the Harvard law faculty--lashes out fellow academics:

Dershowitz Says Faculty Members Work To Encourage Islamic TerrorismCrisis At Columbia
BY JACOB GERSHMAN - Staff Reporter of the SunFebruary 8, 2005
It's not often that a professor tells a packed crowd at Columbia University that Edward Said was a political extremist and that faculty members in the school's Middle East studies department encourage Islamic terrorism.
The professor who made those statements yesterday isn't from Columbia but from Harvard. Law professor Alan Dershowitz showed up at the intellectual home of Said, a literature professor who was a fierce critic of Israel, to rebuke Columbia's faculty and administration for tolerating an atmosphere on campus that he said promotes the hatred of Israel.

Democrats' Suicide Watch

Dr Dean locks up the chairmanship of the DNC.

Okay, he was not as far-left a governor of Vermont as he was a candidate for President.

Still, Dean epitomizes the paranoid style in contemporary Democratic party politics. It will be very interesting to see if he can run a more moderate, centrist party than his presidential campaign might indicate.

But the prediction here is that the GOP makes further advances in the 2006 national elections.

And 2008 is still far away--but for now take the GOP candidate (probably over Hillary) with 52-53% of the popular vote or more.

UPDATE: Not much sign of moderation here:
Dean Vows to Lead Democrats Back to Power
50 minutes ago

U.S. National - AP
By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - Howard Dean (news - web sites) promised cheering supporters Wednesday night he would harness their energy to lead the Democratic Party back to power in the halls of Congress and the White House by 2008.
AP Photo
Slideshow: Democratic Party

The virtually certain incoming chairman of the Democratic National Committee (news - web sites) rallied hundreds of young supporters, and a few he called "young at heart," in a campaign-style appearance at a Washington nightspot within view of the Capitol. In his first public appearance since clinching the chairmanship, he gave a glimpse of the kind of uncompromising leadership he plans for the national party.
The Democrats "are a party of the future, while Republicans are the party of the past," Dean said.
"We need to be proud to be Democrats," said Dean, recalling the kind of exuberant appearances he made during 2003 when he came close to winning the Democratic presidential nomination before collapsing in early 2004 in Iowa.
"We have to never be afraid to say what we believe," Dean said, as the crowd roared its approval. "Above all, we need to stand up for a different vision."
On the steps of the restaurant-brewery where the event was held, he urged supporters to look behind them at the brightly lit, white dome of the Capitol.
"After 2006, we will make major strides in regaining that building, and in 2008 we're going to have it," Dean said. "In 2008, there will be a Democrat walking down Pennsylvania Avenue to the other end."
Supporter Rebecca Cague watched Dean with a wistful smile.
"I feel like he is what we need to revive the party," she said. "He's not afraid to speak his mind; and when he does, he speaks for us."
Dean promised to work closely with top congressional leaders such as Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and with Democratic officials at the national, state and local level.
As Dean worked up the crowd, one of his supporters shouted: "Give 'em hell, Howard!"
"I'm trying to be restrained in my new role," Dean said with a mischievous grin.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

FDR endorses W's Ownership Society

From great article from Duane D. Freese at Tech Central Station:

Franklin Roosevelt, the same man whom Bush quoted as saying that "each age is a dream that is dying, or one coming to birth"; the same man who gave birth to Social Security in the midst of recession; also said, in his Message to Congress on Social Security on Jan. 17, 1935:

"In the important field of security for our old people, it seems necessary to adopt three principles: First, noncontributory old-age pensions for those who are now too old to build up their own insurance. It is, of course, clear that for perhaps 30 years to come funds will have to be provided by the States and the Federal Government to meet these pensions. Second, compulsory contributory annuities that in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations. Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age. It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans." [boldface added by BWG]

Those are the same principles Bush is upholding today, and those Democrats who booed Bush derided them with the same exhalation of breath.

Classic line...

On the Democratic response at Anklebitingpunidts:

If they were there when Jesus walked on the water they would say "Well,
that just shows that Jesus can't swim".

W: Wow!

Some of us who lived through the Reagan presidency will never forget him: my liberal Democratic aunt called him the finest orator in America--and he was. There have been many times since September 11th that I've looked toward the presidential podium and wished that I could see Ronald Reagan there.

As an orator, President Bush will never be remembered in President Reagan's class. But after the state of the union address, my reaction is simply: wow.

1) He began by paying tribute to the democratic revolutions in Afghanistan, the Ukraine, Palestine, and Iraq--and opened up the hope for peace if the Palestinians continue toward democracy.
2) He rightly celebrated the economic progress of the recovery.
3) He boldly laid down his goals for Social Security reform.
4) He affirmed his support for the defense of traditional marriage.
5) Then he went for the grand slam: I) he told Saudi Arabia to get on track toward democracy; II) he told the Egyptians to democratize; III) he told Syria to democratize and leave Iraq alone; IV) he said the same to Iran, and all but called for the Iranians to overthrow the mullahs: "When you stand for freedom, America will stand with you."
6) He paid tribute to an American soldier who died in Fallujah, and an Iraqi voter whose father had been killed by Saddam Hussein--and left not a dry eye in the house.
7) He closed with brilliant quotation from FDR on how every thing begins with a dream.

The president's dream is to democratize the Arab world, and he may well succeed. America has not seen this kind of courage in the White Houses since the days of Harry Truman. It's sometimes said if President Clinton was the country's first black president then President Bush is the first Jewish president. If that's true, then there's one other word for tonight's speech: chutzpah--and that's a compliment.