Sunday, March 27, 2005

Let her die with dignity

Kate Adamson explains it. She was misdiagnosed PVS and had her feeding tube pulled:

"Michael Schiavo says starving Terri is a kindness. It’s not," said Adamson, who, after extensive therapy is now able to walk and talk, but is still paralyzed on the left side of her body. "Have any of you gone without food for a couple of days? When I was in the hospital, my feeding tube was turned off for eight days. I suffered excruciating misery in silence. It was one of the most painful experiences you can imagine. If they want to kill Terri, they should have the guts to put a gun to her head. Does that sound repulsive and violent? They should be even more repulsed with the violent torture of slowly and painfully starving this woman to death."

Rome's determination to save Terri

John Allen's excellent column from National Catholic Reporter:

So much has been written and said about the Terry Schiavo case in the United States that I hesitate to add anything here. It's already well-known that the Holy See has been outspoken; three senior Vatican officials have appealed directly on Schiavo's behalf, including Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Cardinal Javier Lozano Barrigan, president of the Pontifical Council for the Health Care Pastoral; and Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

The American press, already accustomed to the engagement of religious conservatives on Schiavo's behalf, has not given a great deal of attention to these Vatican interventions, treating them as largely pro forma.

In fact, however, if one sees these statements through the lens of normal Vatican operating procedure rather than the particular contours of American debate, they're really rather extraordinary. As a general rule, Vatican officials restrict themselves to enunciating general principles, treating particular cases, pieces of legislation or elections as something for local bishops to address. Readers will remember, for example, during the American debate over communion for pro-choice Catholic politicians, that Vatican officials outlined the general rules in church law but never even cited the name "John Kerry" in doing so.

The willingness to enter into the particulars on Schiavo, therefore, suggests that officials in the Holy See regard this case as of singular importance, analogous in the camp of "Culture of Life" issues to the Rocco Buttiglione case in Europe in the area of "secular fundamentalism." In both instances, several Vatican officials (including, both times, Martino) believed that something so unjust, so potentially important in terms of precedent value, was taking place that it had to be denounced by name.

From the point of view of the Schiavo drama, the Vatican is no doubt a bit player. Its role is, nevertheless, unusual, and may signal a growing willingness on the part of at least some Vatican officials to get down to brass tacks when key moral and cultural questions are at stake.

Why Al Qaeda is losing...

Here's an excellent statistic from the Strategy Page:

"Based on information posted on al Qaeda web sites (praising individual "martyrs" who died in Iraq), some 60 percent of the al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq are from Saudi Arabia. Another ten percent are from Syria, seven percent from Kuwait, about 15 percent from many other Moslem nations, and eight percent from Iraq."

That's a recruiting disaster for Al Qaeda. America invades Iraq, yet AQ has virtually no success at convincing the occupied Iraqis to join AQ. The AQ numbers continue to look pretty much like the September 11th hijack team: overwhelmingly from Saudi Arabia and the Wahabi educational system there.

This agrees with reports that have been in the Arab press ever since Baghdad fell: the Iraqis hate AQ because AQ are a bunch of foreigners who come in, side with Saddam, and murder native Iraqis.

AQ is losing...even in Iraq.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Debunking the Da Vinci Code


The Vatican has a new official to debunk the Da Vinci Code.

Over Thanksgiving various family members urged me to read The Da Vinci Code.

As a thriller, it wasn't bad--but I can't say it gripped me in any way. The problem?--this is one of these thrillers that depends on the author convincing the reader that he is in total command of all the details. Tom Clancy's The Hunt for Red October works because the author convinces you that he understands what it is like to be inside a modern submarine. Michael Crichton command of medical and technological detail plays the same role in many of his novels.

As for Dan Brown? Well, suppose you read a baseball novel where the author was convinced that Michael Jordan was a hall-of-fame baseball player. Or suppose you picked up a political novel where Bill Clinton was thought to be a former governor of California.

Same problem with Dan Brown. I can't speak for his understanding of art history, but as a biblical studies professional I would say that he knows less about Christianity and the Bible than the average American 13 year-old boy knows about the NFL.

The debunkings of Da Vinci are now so numerous that one scarcely knows where to begin.

For a debunking by a religious studies professional with no pro-Christian bias, see Bart Ehrman's book: Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code..

The evangelical magazine Christianity Today gives a critical review.

Opus Dei, the Catholic group that functions as the axis of evil in the novel, offers a rebuttal.

May I here close with a personal take?--I have been telling friends for some time that The Da Vinci Code is great advertising for Opus Dei. My guess is that at the end of the day, the novel will be shown to have resulted in a substantial boost in Opus Dei recruiting.

For evidence that I might be right, consider this snippet from First Things:

• Opus Dei plays a prominent part in the conspiracy theories propounded in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Learning that a company is running Da Vinci tours, Opus Dei decided to make lemonade out of lemons and invited the company to bring its clients to Opus Dei houses where they received a PowerPoint lecture on the truth about Opus Dei. Apparently the arrangement is working out to everyone’s satisfaction, although possibly not to Dan Brown’s. The Tablet reports that some Catholics are deeply troubled by the book. “We understand that members of one parish book club who read it were so troubled they sought an explanation from a priest.” They sought an explanation from a priest! You can hardly get more troubled than that.

Governor Bush: checkmated by the courts

John Gibson at Fox wants to send in troops. Veritatis Splendor is hoping that Jeb Bush will take Terri into custody. Bill Bennett in NR hopes that Jeb Bush will send in police to save Terri's life.

This isn't likely to happen--and it shouldn't. The problem is simple: Governor Bush has no legal authority to send in the troops. Bennett, in his piece, admits this but argues that the right to life requires Jeb Bush to send the troops anyway.

But Governor Bush's authority to use police power is an authority under law: he has no authority to use that police power outside of the law. As tragic as it is, the courts have checkmated justice at every point along the way, and at this point there is nothing that the governor can do. This tragedy has been likened to the Passion at every step of the way, and here the words of Jesus to Peter in the garden apply: "Put your sword back in its sheath." (Mt 26.52).

Friday, March 25, 2005

Iran on the brink of revolution?

RegimeChangeIran reports massive protests all over Iran.

For some time, reports have been coming out of Iran indicating massive disaffection with the regime. Although the ayatollahs are still thought to have the loyalty of about 30% of the population, the other 70% is eager to cashier mullahs and bring in democracy. Unusual among Muslim countries, most of the population is enthusiastically pro-American.

In response to President Bush's inaugural address, Iranians organized protests chanting "kush bush" (where's Bush?)--a reference to the president's declaration that he would stand with Iranians when they stood for their own freedom.

Tonight protests and arrests are sweeping the country. We don't know yet if this is revolution, but this story will need very close coverage.

Theophobia at the Princeton Review

The Princeton Review has for me always been a pretty hot group: their books on the GRE and SAT are first rate. And their attitude--SATs don't measure anything but your ability to take the SAT--is one I heartily affirm.

Their attitudes on "diversity" need a little, well, values clarification. For PR, a college where students don't pray is "diverse"; a college where they do is "monochromatic". ! ?????

So atheism=diversity=good. Buddhists+Hindus+Christians+Muslims+Jews="monochromatic"=bad.

Hmm. Wonder if the College Board could get away with turning that into a multiple choice question.

Ralph Nader, notorious theocrat, speaks out for Terri

For some time now the deep thinkers in the MSM have been arguing that the Terri Schiavo case is all a political ploy: a cynical attempt by evil theocrats to destroy the Constitution. As for the medical facts that cried out for a de novo examination, the rush to judgment without MRI or PET--facts? what facts? And how is it that half the Democrats in the House and Senate were also so swept up in the vast right-wing conspiracy?

Comes now Ralph Nader, well-known as a right wing pawn, to add his voice to the sinister machinations of Christian right extremists:

"A profound injustice is being inflicted on Terri Schiavo," Nader and Smith asserted today. "Worse, this slow death by dehydration is being imposed upon her under the color of law, in proceedings in which every benefit of the doubt-and there are many doubts in this case-has been given to her death, rather than her continued life."

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Dying with dignity?

The MSM is circulating the idea that dying by starvation is painless, dignified. They haven't read the story of Kate Adamson, who--like Terri--was misdiagnosed as PVS and was then denied nutrition...

The Kate Adamson story:

Kate Adamson is the mother of two who suffered a double brain stem stroke and was in a coma for 70 days. She was completely unresponsive to stimuli and was diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state. Doctors finally pulled her feeding tube and, for eight days, she lay dying. Instead of being unconscious as the doctors believed she was aware of everything.
During an interview on the O'Reilly Factor in 2003 she recounted the dehydration experience:

O'REILLY: When they took the feeding tube out, what went through your mind?
ADAMSON: When the feeding tube was turned off for eight days, I thought I was going insane. I was screaming out in my mind, "Don't you know I need to eat?" And even up until that point, I had been having a bagful of Ensure as my nourishment that was going through the feeding tube. At that point, it sounded pretty good. I just wanted something. The fact that I had nothing, the hunger pains overrode every thought I had.

Bob & Mary Schindler have invited Kate Adamson to address the Florida State House Committee on the Judiciary and share her remarkable story. Adamson, author of "Kate's Journey" and a renowned disability rights activist, hopes her story will change the way Terri is being perceived by those who hold her life in their hands.

Due to a catastrophic brain stem stroke, Kate was dependent on a feeding tube for all her nourishment and had the tube turned off for over a week. She, unlike most others, can understand what Terri is going through. Doctors had given up hope that Kate would ever recover, but she is now fully functional except for some paralysis on the left side of her body.

"I have a unique understanding of what Terri is feeling. I could feel everything that the doctors did to me, and I could do nothing. I was at the complete mercy of others, and they couldn't hear me. I have been given the opportunity to speak on behalf of one that has been robbed of her voice. We are praying that God will move on the hearts of Governor Bush and the Florida Legislature to stand up and protect the right of Terri not to be starved to death."

The American bishops in time of crisis

get taken to the woodshed by the Anchoress.

There are some distinguished exceptions--but basically, the Vatican is fighting for Terri, and the American bishops are AWOL.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The truth about Terri's medical condition...

In my judgment, the key reason for supporting Terri's appeal is that the courts have been fundamentally irresponsible in ordering her to die without bothering with either an MRI or a PET. In short, there is insufficient reason to believe the doctors claiming PVS--the doctors on the opposite side have equal to better evidence on their behalf: Terri is not PVS, and there is reason to believe she would benefit from rehabilitation.

Now comes evidence that even the CT that has been done was misread. The analysis is based on Terri's published CT, and is assessed by an MD online.

UPDATE: more medical evidence that Terri was physically abused prior to her head injury. Where is CSI Miami when we need them?

UPDATE II: Nobel-prize nominated MD states that Terri can be rehabilitated.

UPDATE III: Here, as so often, the MSM simply cannot be trusted to tell the full truth. Michelle Malkin is on the case.

UPDATE IV: This testimony by a neurologist explaining why Terri is not PVS summarizes the evidence powerfully.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Heroes at Harvard

From NR:

At 3 p.m. today, in solidarity with Terri Schiavo, I and a group of Harvard students (who have signed with me below) began a hunger strike that will last until Terri’s feeding tube is reinserted or until the hour she dies by sanction of the U.S. courts at the behest of her husband Michael Schiavo and his lawyers. So far we have been joined by a student from Weston Jesuit School of Theology and we welcome others to join with us as well. We have been inspired in this effort by the example of Terri Schiavo's sister, Suzanne Vitadamo, and of a number of other concerned individuals mentioned in the news. We are eating no food but are consuming basic liquids (something Terri herself is not permitted as she is dying on her hospital bed). Any suffering we experience will be offered in a spirit of solidarity to Terri and to her grieving family and friends who, cruelly, are being kept even from comforting her during her last hours by the harsh hand of the law. We hope that Terri’s husband, Michael Schiavo, and those medical professionals and law enforcement officials presently responsible for her life will come to acknowledge that Terri has as much dignity and value as every other human person and that she should be protected, cared for, and loved despite her unfortunate condition -- not left to die at their hands. If you have any questions or wish to join with our effort, please contact me; my information is below.
Signed, Bronwen Catherine McSheaHarvard Divinity School MTS '05
Michael F. LorelliHarvard Law School JD '05
Kristin H. WilliamsHarvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences G2
Ryan HeckerHarvard Law School JD '05
James E. MaschoffHarvard Law School JD '06
Luisa Lara Harvard College BA '07
Christopher Collins, S.J. Weston Jesuit School of Theology (student)

Terri's Passion

The power of the culture of death is on ugly display this morning: A pro-Clinton federal judge, after taking a break for dinner last night and breakfast this morning, wipes his mouth and sentences Terri to death by starvation.

The Anchoress offers her jeremiad. She links to a brilliant post by Blue Eyed Infidel: I can't wait to starve my dog to death.

Hugh Hewitt shows how the federal judge set aside his oath to support the law and the constitution, and sided with euthanasia instead.

Condi 2008 at NR

The National Review reports: Condi has a 61% approval rating. And NR clearly doesn't take her "Sherman" too seriously.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Defending Terri

Here are some key links:

1. Meeting Terri
2. The medical evidence for Terri
3. Senator Bill Frist, MD on the medical case for saving Terri.

This is Palm Sunday--a day to save life, not destroy it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Condi is still in this race

Or so says the Washington Times.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Condi's run and the pro-life movement

The Washington Times carries an interview with Condi.

1. Condi clears the decks to run. Asked to take a Sherman, she quietly declines: "I really can't imagine it." In other words--she won't rule out running. In fairness, she probably has not made up her mind at this point; and she probably has also not given it much hard thought. As Ariel might say, "It's all so...sudden."

2. She may well have an interest in keeping her options open as long as possible. A secretary of state who is seen as a potential president probably has more clout, both with foreign governments and domestically. If she is a live option for a permanent residence in the White House, both foreign leaders and congressional kingpins have to take her much more seriously.

3. She positioned herself in the interview as a moderate on abortion: she is against government funding for abortion, and favors banning partial birth abortion. But that's as far as she goes. In the long run, that won't be enough. The pro-life wing of the GOP is very important--especially in Iowa, and they will want a stronger pro-life position from her. Or they will look elsewhere in the primaries. But this is an issue on which positions have been known to evolve as candidates get more serious about running. The odds are that the positions sketched in her interview with the Washington Times may not be her last words on the subject.

Oh, boy. Everything gets messier.

She does an interview today on MSNBC. Was that a Sherman or not? Powerline thinks it was. I'm not so sure, but I'm working off the transcript. If that's a Sherman, it looks to me like she put so many escape clauses into it, that it's not going to take Houdini to get her out of it.

Pro-lifers will appreciate the fact that she made it clear that she supports the President's Mexico City policy. Again, that's not enough, but it makes a stronger case for her when it comes time to court the pro-lifers--me included.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Master's Voice: MSM want Condi vs. Hillary

By this point, it's difficult to think there's much doubt: the MSM are sliding rapidly to an all-but-open advocacy of Condi vs. Hillary 2008 match-up.

Some of my friends complain on a regular basis about the liberal bias of the MSM. And it is there. But time in Europe has left me more respectful of the MSM than some: if you think CBS is biased, you haven't spent much time reading what passes for journalism in Germany or the UK. Next to them, Dan Rather is a model of fair and balanced reporting. To put it differently, however slanted the MSM is, there is nearly always a good faith effort to at least try to be neutral--or at least to look like it. Would that the Europeans were as balanced as the American MSM.

More powerful--often--than liberal vs. conservative bias is the bias among the MSM for a good story. And for the MSM, Condi vs. Hillary is the dream race. As an opportunity for hype, headlines, and stories that will drive ratings up, Condi vs. Hillary is a match made in heaven. Condi is going to benefit for the next four years from the drive of the MSM for a great race in 2008. Her careful refusal in recent days to rule out such a run is going to add fuel to the fire. At current rates, Condi will be the apparent GOP front-runner sometime in 2007.

Rasmussen's Condi vs. Hillary poll

There was a poll in February on Condi vs. Hillary at Rasmussen.

Hillary again wins 47-40. Hillary cleans up among unmarried by voters by standard Democratic margins. Condi and Hillary tie among marrieds--that's the key. The GOP typically cleans up among married voters. Condi has to convince married couples that she's the woman to trust with their children's future.

A global war on poverty

This morning a faculty member in the business school mentioned Jeffrey Sachs and his proposal for a global war on poverty. Then I check Instapundit and Sachs again. Instapundit links to Daniel Drezner, a libertarian at UChicago, for a discussion. Drezner in turn gives us the key website for Sachs at the End of Poverty website.

This is a very important subject which will get more attention (I hope) in a later post. Constructive thinking about poverty is badly needed. It is encouraging that Sachs takes free markets seriously. Maybe we need to put a copy of Sachs' book on Condi's desk!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Blogger Demographics

Instapundit has a must-read link on blogger demographics.

New Template at President Aristotle

This being a new blog, I'm experimenting with a new template. I don't think this is as cool as the previous template. But it's easier on the eyes. And it allows me to put the quotation from Aristotle front and center on the blog. Bloggers with good suggestions on putting together quality templates should please drop me a line!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

IBD: "Bush is known to be warm to the idea of Condi as his successor."

Incredible. I've suspected this for a while. But how does IBD know this? Does IBD know this? Or is this just wishful thinking from IBD?

IBD poll hypes Condi 2008

Condi continues to cast her spell over key Republican constituencies.

Today Investors Business Daily published a new poll on Condi vs. Hillary. And IBD's coverage is as fair and impartial as the New York Times--which is to say, it's a pro-Condi puff-piece.

Let's get to the numbers. Condi loses to Hillary 50-37 with 11% not sure. We aren't given internals as to what percentage of the respondents were Democrats or Republicans, nor are we told if these are registered or likely voters.

Now there is no reason for Hillary to panic about any poll that shows her winning by 13 points. But the breakdowns are enough to give any Hillary strategist a lot to think about--and worry over.

White women break even 44-44. What?!? Hillary can't carry white women against Condi? Hillary must carry white women to beat a GOP candidate in 2008. This is bad news.

White men break for Condi 47-40. This probably represents a floor for Condi and a ceiling for Hillary. The 13% undecided in this group look to go heavily GOP.

Blacks support Hillary over Condi 84-6. This is not a shock: since she is a black Republican, many blacks will wonder if Condi is really black. At present, Condi runs behind W's 2004 numbers with blacks. It will be very difficult to keep Condi below W's numbers in any real campaign. Most likely Condi will get at least 25% of the black vote in any general election, and the chances of her getting a majority of the black vote are excellent. In that case, Hillary's 13 point overall lead collapses like a house of cards.

Hispanics support Hillary 56-27. That leaves 17% undecided. The truth is Hispanics just don't know what to make of Condi right. Nor is it easy to predict how this figure will change in a real campaign.

Married women support Hillary 45-43. Condi as a single woman will need to connect with the married women that are the core of the GOP coalition. Hillary's support level here may represent a ceiling--which would leave Hillary in serious trouble.

In all, this kind of poll raises real worries for Democrats: Hillary's 50% figure, initially encouraging, may well represent the ceiling of her support in any race against Condi--in which case, Senator Clinton can head back to her NYC town house, and Condi can worry about picking out the drapes in the Oval Office.

But last--look at IBD's cheerleading in this piece: "The contest is delicious to contemplate: Hillary Clinton, who, not withstanding her gestures to the right, cannot give up the shrill, Eleanor Roosevelt-inspired rhetoric of the divisive left. And Condi Rice, brilliant, ladylike, untarnished, triumphant as democracy takes hold in the Middle East. Both awesomely articulate. And one reaching deep into the American conscience as no political figure since Abraham Lincoln." [Italics added].

Holy smokes. So IBD--the rich white capitalist oppressor class--is now hailing as Condi as a figure who touches the American conscience as no political figure "since Abraham Lincoln"!?!

Now leaving aside how one feels about this as neutral journalism, what does it tell you about Condi's ability to electrify her party? Among exactly the part of the party that might be expected to be most suspicious of her, she seems to excite--well, dare I say, near-Reaganite enthusiasm?

2008 is a long way away, but if Condi keeps igniting this kind of wildfire passion among the Republican core, she will head into 2007 as the GOP front-runner for 2008.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Condi the Tsunami and the realignment of 2004

2004 constitutes in all probability one of the great realignment elections of American history. These sea-changes sweep powerful as the ocean tide and almost as regular: 1788/Washington, 1824-28/Jackson, 1860/Lincoln, 1896/McKinley, 1932/FDR, 1968/Nixon and the Sunbelt coalition...and now 2004/W and the September 11th coalition.

The Democrats, like all losing parties in a realignment, are in denial; and that very denial is part of what makes it impossible for them to make the kind of changes necessary to reverse the realignment. A party that lionizes Michael Moore, sees Kerry go down in bitter defeat--and then hires Howard Dean for DNC is a party that has lost the capacity to tell itself the truth about who it is and who America is.

The person that may put the final nails in the Democratic party's coffin is Condi Rice. W's new secretary of state has been picking up support within the GOP remarkable for anyone--but especially for a black female leader of a party that has not in recent years succeeded in winning majorities of either blacks or women.

Consider the CPAC straw poll.

CPAC straw poll:
(c. 4500 at the convention in DC during 17-19 Feb 2005)
For the GOP:
19% Giuliani
18% Rice
11% Allen, Frist, McCain

Since the convention was held in Washington, Giuliani as a former mayor of New York probably gets some benefit from the eastern demographics of the conference. But the results are still remarkable. The heavily white, well-to-do, disproportionately male conservatives of CPAC--the hard-core conservatives that are the base of the party--it is these people, exactly the wing of the GOP that one might expect to be most suspicious of Condi that are strongly enthusiastic about her as president.

CPAC is consistent with the evidence of the Right Wing News straw poll of 50 key weblogs--including Belgravia Dispatch, Michelle Malkin, LaShawn Barber, etc. The respondents were asked to name the five candidates they most desired to see be the GOP nominee and the five candidate they least desired to see as the GOP nominee. Condi the Tsunami:

Right Wing News

Condoleeza Rice (61.5)
Rudy Giuliani (39.0)
Jeb Bush (31.0)

The list of respondents suggests that these websites are broadly representative of GOP websites in general--in other words, the hearts of conservative websites that will play a major role in shaping the GOP debate over the next four years are beating I-heart-Condi. Or least they are beating more strongly for her than for any other likely GOP nominee. And the charge of Blogs for Condi is now well underway.

It is worth noting too that she does not seem to be a polarizing candidate for the GOP: the nominees mentioned for "least desired" turned a tie between McCain and Gingrich.

It's not really surprise then when Polipundit's Alexander McClure taps Condi for 2008.

Nor should we miss the latest version of Patrick Ruffini's on-line poll. This is a very interesting poll: Ruffini headed W's 2004 internet campaign, so he is closely tied in to the GOP base, both the grass roots activists and the national leaders. The current tally shows:

Patrick Ruffini 8 March 2005 (1776 votes)
Tier I: Rice (41%), Giuliani (12%), Bush (9%)
Tier II: McCain (8%), Romney (6%), Allen (6%)
Tier III: Santorum (5%), Brownback (3%), Sanford (3%)

This is simply astonishing, and it's difficult to think of anything like it. Certainly the black Democratic congresswoman Shirley Chisholm never generated this kind of excitement among the Democratic party's rank and file. To put this in perspective, Condi the Tsunami is getting the same kind of numbers among GOP activists that Hillary is showing with the Democratic party as a whole.

Today we get a new poll from Marist:

The Marist Poll (851 registered voters 14-16 Feb 2005)
(427 Dems/347 GOP of 1009 respondents)

Hilary is the odds-on favorite among the Democrats--they prefer her (39%) to Kerry (21%) or Edwards (15%). So right now, Condi appears to beat any other GOP challenger by a margin comparable HRC's pasting of the Democratic field--at least among GOP activists.

The Marist polls shows that the better known GOP candidates are for now ahead among Republicans generally: Giuliani leads with 25%; McCain 21%; and Condi 15%. The discrepancy between Condi's current ranking with the general public and her ranking with the GOP activist base need not be a major cause for concern for Condi strategists: the general public has only started to pay attention to her; Giuliani and McCain have been front and center much longer.

The Marist poll then moves to looking at GOP vs. Hillary match-ups. It is worth mentioning that the internals of the polls are heavily slanted in a pro-Democratic direction: 42% Dem to 35% GOP--which is ridiculous. The post-November 2004 polling provides excellent evidence of realignment: for the first time since the days of FDR, more Americans identify themselves as Republicans than Democrats.

The results of the poll are further evidence of a pro-GOP realignment: in a poll that begins with 7% or more slant in a Democratic direction, Giuliani beats Hillary 49-47; so we are probably looking at a ten point victory of Giuliani over Hillary if the election were held today.

McCain crushes Hillary 54-42; without adjusting for the bias of the poll. The GOP bloggers who have such deep antipathy to McCain might well reflect on his power to demolish the highly probable 2008 Dem nominee.

What of Condi? She loses to Hillary 51-43. If we adjust for the 7-point Democratic edge of the Marist poll, then Condi and Hillary run a dead-heat. It is amazing that Condi does this well at this point in her career: she is not yet as well known as Giuliani and McCain, and is not yet perceived as having the experience to be president. In 2008, after four years of having led the War on Terror, those perceptions are likely to be sharply reversed, and millions of Americans may well see Condi as W's logical successor for defending America against terrorism. This isn't certain, of course, and I have posted elsewhere on this blog on the potential risks of nominating Condi--and some of these risks are reflected in this poll. But there is plenty of time ahead, and Condi will have excellent opportunities over the next four years to put herself in position to take a commanding lead over Hillary.

In the meantime, Hillary and the Democrats are on track for getting buried in 2008--the biggest question is who gets the honor of being the undertaker...we've already got a pretty good guess as to the name and gender of the corpse.

Atlantic Monthly: liberals don't care about the poor..

The Atlantic Monthly via TigerHawk

Barely three weeks after the election the trendy, the motor force of the so-called "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," rallied its adherents coast-to-coast in a round of 1,600 house meetings. The assembled liberal activists—some 18,000—polled themselves and then published their top six political priorities. The results, in order, tell you all you need to know about the current state of progressive detachment and denial. Election reform and media reform came in first and second. The war in Iraq was third, followed by the environment, the Supreme Court, and civil liberties. In short, the biggest problems liberals face are those damned voting machines and Fox News. Glaringly absent from this activist wish list is anything vaguely resembling an aggressive populist agenda. The MoveOn plan provides no answers to those sweaty plebes out there who are "stoked" by kulturkampf rhetoric as well as all-too-real fears about their jobs, wages, health insurance, and school tuition

Okay, so The Atlantic Monthly doesn't actually say that the new generation of liberals doesn't care about the poor. But compare the social passions of with 1968 and civil rights and Black Panther chic--whatever their other failings, the liberals of that generation were determined to launch and win a War on Poverty. But today's generation--nope. Their passions are elsewhere. And it showed up in the results of 2 Nov 2004--the tepid response to John Kerry and the indifference in the black community to whether Kerry won or lost.

Large parts of the white working class are now solidly GOP. And black pastors, furious over gay marriage and deeply concerned over the black family, are looking toward a GOP that offers faith-based initiatives and affirmation of the traditional family. The white suburban grad-school liberals, proud of their education and contemptuous of those who don't share it, have no clue as to what is going on in their country, and no clue as to how much they've done to lead their party to defeat.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Doves are cooing over Condi the Hawk

This is priceless. Self-proclaimed dove says Condi smoothes her feathers... at Dove's Eye View:

March 04, 2005
Diplomacy Works
Matthew Yglesias says in TAPPED: Diplomacy
"what liberals need to be pointing out here is the extent to which this Lebanon episode -- like Ukraine's Orange Revolution before it, and, one hopes, political reform in Egypt -- vindicates the general liberal approach to world affairs. Choosing your moments carefully, following the lead of domestic opposition groups, and working through non-military channels can be a very effective way of getting things done."
The Dove was thinking a less coherent version of this thought while listening to Condoleeza Rice on the radio, talking with Jim Lehrer about Syria. Our Secretary of State impressed me today, and my oh-please-don't-b.s.-me-I'm-switching-you-off meter didn't buzz. If Condoleeza is as sincere as my meter says she is, and if she's able to back up her sincerity with good diplomacy, then I will post a picture of her in that dominatrix coat suit over my computer. She's certainly displaying measured,
articulate steel. Good for her.

The September 11th Coalition and the Black Vote

Gov Howard Dean a few weeks ago made news with his thoughtful comments about America's racial problems:

“You think the Republican National Committee could get this many people of color in a single room?,” Dean asked to laughter. “Only if they had the hotel staff in here.”

Of course, if either Gen Powell or Condi Rice had entered the room that would have been one more black cabinet member than Gov Dean appointed to his cabinet in his entire tenure in Vermont.

The contrast between W and Dean points out the shift that is going on as part of the realignment of 2004: the current generation of Democratic leaders--such as Dean and Kerry--don't really care about African American problems and it shows: their emotions are invested in the war, the environment, abortion and gay rights...the problems of urban America don't make the top ten items on their list. This is not to say that they're anti-black; it's simply to say that their priorities and passions are elsewhere.

And herein lies the GOP opportunity. Numerous black pastors are deeply worried about the future of the African-American family. With illegitimacy rates in the black community running around 66%, the crisis of the black family and the Democratic party rhetoric about alternate lifestyles are diametrically opposed. The key here is whether the GOP can shed its generation-long failure to establish ties to the black community. The current evidence is that it can: The New York Times, often the last to pick up on these things, covers the story.

Why W is right about raising the SS cap

W stunned many of his supporters by placing on the table the possibility of raising the SS cap.

The Club for Growth blitzed the idea in a press release. Larry Kudlow at National Review dismissed it as "mad cap". Donald Luskin at National Review Online said the idea was "harebrained". Amity Shlaes over at Tech Central Station said this was really a tax on small businesses. The Wall Street Journal worried that the President was negotiating with himself, and negotiating too early.

Unusual in his support was Patrick Ruffini:

Unlike Beltway grasstips conservatives, I'm open to the idea of lifting the payroll cap -- particularly when combined with personal accounts. It would allow substantially more funds to be vested in personal accounts than is currently envisioned, further entrenching support for the idea. Thinking strategically, such a move would increase the appetite for tax reform and AMT relief; broadly, I see the need for this kind of safety valve when the uber-progressive income tax is looked at. And making both payroll and income taxes flatter makes it A LOT easier to enact tax cuts across the board.


1. All of us who support the Ownership Society would prefer to create private SS accounts without raising taxes. But that might not be politically feasible right now.

2. The question is: would the benefit of private accounts be canceled by raising the tax cap for Social Security?

3. Unfortunately, there is no way to do a cost-benefit analysis of that since: a) there is no current agreement on the size of the private accounts to be created; b) nor is there agreement on how high the cap might be raised.

4. But what is clear is the politics of this. Creating private accounts has never been in 70 years. Cutting marginal tax rates has been done numerous times. If W trades private accounts for a hike in the marginal tax rate, there is every reason to believe that very soon--2008, for example--the GOP can campaign on a program of cutting the top marginal rates, either by establishing a flat tax, a consumption tax or some other sharp cut in the top marginal rate. By contrast, the opportunity to create private accounts in Social Security may well come only once in a generation. If we miss this, we may never get another opportunity to introduce free-market principles within Social Security. That is why W is right to put a hike in the tax cap on the table, and that is why he is right to raise this as an option.

5. The more pointed question is whether W is raising this issue too early in the process--negotiating with himself. Probably not. He hasn't said that he would in fact do it--nor has he suggested what kind of an increase would be acceptable. He's said only that he'd talk about it. He's free to reject every single tax cap increase proposal as unacceptable--so he's kept all his options open.

It would certainly be preferable to introduce private accounts into Social Security without any increase in the tax cap at all. But it would be better to have private accounts with an increase in the tax cap than not to have private accounts at all. This is in all likelihood a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change for the better the biggest domestic spending program in the US government--carpe diem! There will be another day--probably as early as 2008--to cut the marginal tax rates down to size.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat

One of my discoveries of 2004 was Hugh Hewitt.

I stumbled across a column of his at The Weekly Standard, clicked over to his website, and well...several months later, I've got a blog.

I liked him for a number of reasons. He was smart, he understood how the game of politics is played, and he cared about many of the values I cared about. Our personal histories went in opposite directions: he started Catholic, and became an evangelical; I started evangelical and became a Catholic. And it didn't hurt that both of us are from Ohio and support the Cleveland Browns...

I picked up If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat after the shooting stopped, after W was safely in as our new president. I read it as someone who grew up in a family where liberal Democratic politics was our real religion. Catholic families get the catechism over the dinner table; we got the New York Times and liberal politics. When we grew up, we knew that all Republicans were going to hell (if there was a hell), and that Richard Nixon was the anti-Christ (or the closest thing to it). So picking up HH's book was designed as political solace after a trip home--blood is thicker than gravy, as Maureen Dowd says: my brother had been a campaign director for Kerry in Cleveland; both parents took off election day to campaign for Kerry.

Ad maioram dei gloriam--W won, and HH's book gives sage advice as to how to keep Democrats on the losing track.

The book runs 220 pages, not counting appendices. Despite the fact that HH is a lawyer, the language is clear and intelligent--one of the best parts of the book is a chapter about keeping the message simple..."Close elections inevitably turn on the votes of illiterate people." (p.85). Reagan understood this. W understands this. Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and John Kerry don't. Reagan and W became president. Mondale, Dukakis and Kerry didn't. Who, really, was smarter?

The book is divided into six parts. Part I is The Stakes. The signature lines are taken from Churchill: Why, man, we are at war! and one of the Die Hard movies: I don't like you because you're going to get me killed! Exactly. HH offers a 50-page demolition as to why the Democratic party is totally patriotic and totally sincere--sincerely and patriotically incapable of understanding what must be done to defend the Republic.

Part II is A brief history of Democratic part cheating. A good 15 pages for voters too young to understand how many elections the Democratic machines have stolen in American history.

Part III is about Parties. This should be required reading for some social conservatives who think that issues can be separated from parties. Even if a pro-life Democrat became president, she would be forced to staff her administration with pro-abortion staffers--which would defeat the whole point. A pro-life Democratic senator will inevitably contribute to giving control of the Senate to a party that is fundamentally anti-life. HH is absolutely dead-on in these pages, and pro-life voters who think otherwise simply don't understand the real way in which democratic governments function. At this point in history, any vote for any Democrat to national office is a vote in favor of abortion, gay marriage, and everything else that social conservatives oppose.

Part IV is about Money. This is simple: give. A key part of any political movement is the willingness of supporters to give money. If you're not willing to give money to support your political values, don't be surprised when those who do give money have more influence in government than you do. The NRA may or may not speak for a majority of Americans, but it doesn't matter: its members give very heavily, and vastly outfund gun-control groups. So the NRA usually wins, and its critics usually lose.

Part V is about Message Delivery. There are a number of points here. Perhaps the most relevant is the blogosphere: for the last generation, the information flow to the American people has been controlled by political liberals in New York: ABC, CBS, NBC, the New York Times. The blogosphere offers the opportunity to pull the plug on the MSM. I think we have a long way to go on this point. Fox News controls only a small portion of the nightly news audience, vastly less than the MSM. But we have to start somewhere, and the Dan Rather scandal is proof of the power of webblogs to bring down even the most powerful of the mainstream press.

Part VI is about danger issues: issues that social conservatives care about, but may undermine the realignment that HH seeks. HH counsels caution in promoting these issues--even as his heart is on the conservative side of the spectrum.

Part VII is summary and conclusion. HH warns that failure to heed this message risks putting in power a political elite that can destroy the Republic as surely as French elites failed in 1789--and (more precisely) as the appeasement policies of 1930s Britain nearly led to the triumph of Hitler.

All in all, the book is well and wisely done. And there are numerous gems along the way. A few of my friends have forgotten President Reagan's 11th commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican. This is potentially disastrous when it comes to managing a coalition that prevailed in November 2004 by 51-48%. Highly recommended for them is Chapter 19: There Aren't Enough Targets That You Have To Shoot At Your Friends? Maintaining unity is essential for any successful coalition; there are better ways of making one's point than shooting at fellow Republicans. The circular firing squad is a Democratic invention that Republicans will do well to avoid.

A few key points...

1) HH would have done well to stress the extent to which race remains the pivotal issue in American politics. Chapter 2 is a helpful analysis of the three major wings of the GOP, and the three major wings of the Democratic party. But missing here is the reality of post-1968 national politics. As Kevin Phillips rightly pointed out in The Emerging American Majority, what broke up FDR's New Deal coalition was race: the belief among many whites that the Democratic party had gone beyond equal opportunity to providing special privileges for racial minorities. Since 1968, the GOP nationally gets about 60% of the white vote; Dems get about 90% of the black vote. It follows from this that permanent majority status for the GOP means maintaining white votes while reaching out to African Americans. The most probable issues that can help the GOP here are exactly the issues of social conservatives: African Americans are mostly socially conservative; their chief reluctance to vote GOP is the perception that Republicans are racist. The Ohio GOP has been very effective at countering this perception--with the result that the Democratic party has been virtually wiped out at the state level, and Ohio is on the verge of electing a black GOP governor.

2. The gay marriage issue is a political winner. The current GOP leadership is highly educated--and shares much of the libertarian social values of the post-grad school Democratic left. Many GOP leaders fear being labelled "intolerant". Done wrongly, there is that risk; but for Democrats gay marriage is a loser, even in hard-left Massachussetts. Carefully handled, this is one of the most powerful issues in the GOP arsenal--and it can play a key role in breaking up the Democratic lock on the African American vote. The numerous African American pastors that have been mobilizing against gay marriage need to be brought into the GOP fold.

3. Since the election, HH has been very brave about what is needed to keep W's coalition together. He argued very strongly for not undercutting Arlen Specter in the US Senate--and I believe he was right on this. He is now arguing for more pressure on the US Senate to shut down filibusters and to approve W's judges. Here again, there is every reason to believe that HH is right.

Finally: political realignments are cyclical. They come almost like clock-work at 36 year intervals: 1788/Washington, 1824-28/Jackson, 1860/Lincoln, 1896/McKinley, 1932/FDR, 1968/Nixon and the Sunbelt coalition. Almost certainly 2004 and W's September 11th coalition will be remembered as one of the great realignments of American political history. Karl Rove has been talking for some time about the similarities between our era and that of McKinley, and there is excellent reason to think that these comparisons hold. The challenge for those of us on the GOP side will be keeping this coalition together, and turning the coalition into effective government. For right now, the best guide for grass-roots citizens on how to do this is Hugh Hewitt's If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat.

Condi 2008--winning nationally

Condi has both the greatest risk of losing...and the greatest chance of burying Hillary in a landslide.

Basic Math:
Bush carried the country 51/48. Here's the breakdown by race:

Percentage of voters....and the resultant net advantage
Whites (77%)=58/41. Net advantage=13.1% GOP
Blacks (11%)=11/88. Net advantage=8.5% Dem
Latinos (8%)=44/53. Net advantage=0.7% Dem
Asians (2%)=46/56. Net advantage=0.2% Dem
Other (2%)=40/54. Net advantage=0.3% Dem
(Rounding and other problems=lack of exact agreement).

In other words, Bush won because he carried the white vote heavily. He lost every other racial subgroup. If it weren't for the fact that the white vote went heavily for Bush, JFK would be president.

To put it differently: Bush got a 13% net overall advantage from white voters; he lost 10% among non-whites; for an overall margin of victory in the USA of about 3%. Of the 10% that he lost among non-white voters, 85% of that margin came from African-American voters. Nationally, the Democratic party is absolutely dependent on heavy black support; without it, they cannot compete.

Hence the risk and the reward of running Condi: if she can make even modest inroads into the black vote while keeping her other support at Bush levels, then she wins in a landslide. If whites decide they don't trust her, she loses.

Condi's road map to the White House
Road map 1: white support is unchanged, and Condi gets 25% of the black vote. That reduces the margin for Dems from a net of 8.5 point to 5.5 points--a loss of 3% nationally in the polls. I would think 25% would be a floor for Condi. If she gets that, then she wins nationally 52.5-46.5.

Road map 2: white support is unchanged, and Condi gets 50% of the black vote. Condi's chances of picking up 50% or more of the black vote are excellent. As with Jimmy Carter in 1976 (first candidate f0r president from the Deep South since Reconstruction) and John F. Kennedy (first Catholic candidate for president since the 1920s), Condi will likely benefit from a "first-time" surge within her key social identity group. It should also be noted that most African American voters are female. The Democratic party will find it difficult to convince a majority of African American voters to vote against the first African American majority party candidate for the White House. If she merely gets 50% of the black vote, then she wins nationally by about 56-44.

Road map 3: white support is unchanged, and Condi gets over 50% of the black vote. I would not expect Condi to carry black votes by an overwhelming margin--the GOP has too much historical baggage. I would be surprised if she got 60%; a margin of 52-48 looks more reasonable to me. But if she carried 60%, then she wins by a net of 14%; perhaps 57-43%.

Question: could Condi do better than W among whites? Yes. Most of the time when a president runs for re-election, his performance can be predicted fairly reliably by the performance of the economy in the period prior to re-election. Bush substantially underperformed most of these predictions--and the most likely reason is the controversy over the war in Iraq. If Iraq is not a major issue in 2008 and the economy does well, Condi could in principle outperform Bush. But there are so many question marks about the problems of a single black woman picking up votes among the married white voters that are the GOP's base, that the safest thing is to assume that the Bush 2004 totals will be a ceiling for Condi 2008 among whites. If she exceeds Bush's support among whites, then we are talking about an electoral tsunami for the GOP.

How Condi could lose
Loss map #1: I can't see Condi getting less than 25% of the black vote; so I will assume that figure as a floor. That cuts the Dem advantage among blacks to a net of 5.5 points. Condi could lose if support slumps off among whites. It actually doesn't take very much. If whites only break even for Condi, then she loses by about 53-46. If my 25% floor for black for Condi is correct, then she must carry whites by 55-45 percent to win; if she slips to 54-46, then she loses. Since W carried whites 58-41, even a small erosion of white support for Condi could defeat her candidacy.

Loss map #2: It's very difficult to anticipate how Hispanics will react to Condi. I don't think she will gain any votes among Hispanics for being a minority; on the other hand, I can't see her doing worse 33%. In principle, the Democrats could add another 1.7% to their edge nationally if Condi only scores the minimum with the Latino vote.

Condi vs Hillary:
The above are offered as basic scenarios designed to set limits to speculation as to how Condi would do. What is the most plausible scenario?

I assume that Condi would run against Hillary in 2008. If Condi wins the GOP nomination, Hillary will be forced to put Barack Obama on the ticket. Condi will need to nail down the conservative base, and will likely put a white conservative on the ticket.

The entire situation will be politically completely unprecedented, and therefore more difficult to predict. How will white married men react to Condi? White single men? White married women? White single women? Much of the increase in Bush's 2004 support came among white married women, and Hillary may well be able to cut into this bloc running against a black single woman.

For what it's worth, I suspect that in a Condi/Hillary showdown the black community will react poorly to Hillary--I don't think they view her with the same enthusiasm as they do Bill.

As in 2004, the two states of Ohio and Florida will be critical. The GOP in Ohio has a reasonably strong relationship with black voters--and Ohio in 2008 may well have a GOP black governor. I would expect Condi to beat Hillary in Ohio. In Florida, the Hispanic community is conservative and more Cuban than in other parts of the USA--I would expect them to be comfortable with Condi and help her carry the state.

Overall, Condi can carry the most important swing states against Hillary. And I think she would carry the country. But I don't think she'd be as safe a bet to beat Hillary as would McCain. Overall, the best estimate right now might be that she carries the black vote by about 52-48 against Hillary/Barack Obama and carries perhaps 52-54% of the white vote for a victory nationally somewhere in the 52-54% range (depending on what the Hispanic vote does).

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The uselessness of the MSM 2.0

Fox leads with President Bush celebrating the World Series with the BoSox. Timely.
CNN leads with Fossett and long-distance flying. Vital importance on that one.
MSNBC leads with the Lefkow murders in Chicago.
ABC leads with the Ten Commandments case at the Supreme Court.
CBS leads with a poll on Social Security reform.

If democracy sweeps the Mideast will any American news agency notice?

For a major news agency leading with the Cedar Revolution, it looks like we're left with Al Jazeera... What a disgrace...