Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5 | Page 6 | Page 7 | Page 8 | Page 9 | Page 10 | Page 11 | Page 12 | Page 13 | Page 14 | Page 15 | Page 16 | Page 17 | Page 18 | Page 19 | Page 20 | Page 21 | Page 22 | Page 23 | Page 24 | Page 25 | Page 26 | Page 27 | Page 28 | Page 29 | Page 30 | Page 31 | Page 32 | Page 33 | Page 34 | Page 35 | Page 36 | Page 37 | Page 38 | Page 39 | Page 40 | Page 41 | Page 42 | Page 43 | Page 44 | Page 45 | Page 46 | Page 47 | Page 48 | Page 49 | Page 50
Michael Ubaldi, September 8, 2003.
Will Bush lose his base? Not a chance: most people gripe about decent circumstances while accepting, deep down, that no one can be everything to them - least of all a politician. Back in early 2000, I saw a rural woman on television who'd obviously replaced the John Davidson posters on her wall with John McCain campaign banners. "I really want McCain as president," she said, "so if he doesn't win the nomination I'll hold my nose and vote for Gore, then try again in 2004." She didn't look quite right, as it were, and I imagine that her ambition is rare on both sides of politics. Another quality we can attribute to "most people" is an aversion to betting their shirts on four years of the country's executive office run by the opposition party. When events don't turn your way, it's cathartic to work up a little scorched-earth, "If I can't love her, no one will!" speech, tweaking an imaginary handlebar moustache as you tie an effigy of your uncooperative public official to train tracks. Or threaten to stay home from the ballots, the electoral equivalent of a five-year-old refusing supper.
Lileks, of course, says it best:
What part of “Compassionate Conservatism” was unclear from the start? As for the tax cut, I’m extremely grateful for it, even though I plan to do nothing with it but bury it in the backyard. Can’t let it get out into the economy, you know. I’m glad I already bought a shovel. Take that, you shovel-merchants who want to drain my bulging coffers! Screw you! Anyway, look at the reaction to a big-spending, big-government Republican: horror, apoplexy, the endless litany of disasters both close and distant. The Administration makes a few peeps about allowing a certain segment of post-boomer workforce actually have some control over a wee portion of their Social Security money, and you’d think they’d demanded we strip Granny of her flesh and toss her in a vat of lemon juice.
Reagan raised a few taxes himself, mind you. Part of the trick to defending against the modern left's accusations of Draconian, Miserly VillainryTM is establishing most or all of them as lies. Look: square-jawed politics comes to me about as naturally as extracting oxygen from seawater, but I recognize that the country had a president named FDR who expanded government services and received a permanent halo around his head with a policy patent alongside it. At least two generations follow the same principles and none will likely let go. Mine, I suspect, doesn't subscribe, and the libertarian squeaks and whistles from those younger than me herald a true reversal in public spirit. Big government isn't a black hole. For now, we settle.
Michael Ubaldi, September 4, 2003.
For an extremist, Miguel Estrada certainly won himself an awful lot of majority votes as instructed by Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution:
March 06, 2003 - Cloture not invoked in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 55 - 44.
March 13, 2003 - Second cloture not invoked in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 55 - 42.
March 18, 2003 - Third cloture not invoked in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 55 - 45.
April 02, 2003 - Fourth cloture not invoked in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 55 - 44.
May 05, 2003 - Fifth cloture not invoked in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 52 - 39.
May 08, 2003 - Sixth cloture not invoked in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 54 - 43.
July 30, 2003 - Seventh cloture motion not invoked in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 55 - 43.
Note that at no time of these cloture votes was any party engaged in the uninterrupted, physical continuation of debate to actually require a cloture vote. A successful filibuster without actually filibustering? That's a bad gentleman's rule to follow in the future - for either party. The Democrats are to blame for intransigence as much as the Republicans are for political cowardice.
Michael Ubaldi, September 3, 2003.
To hang or not to hang? Inevitably, the usual arguments of racial disparity in the sentencing of murder convicts came up. Well, men are more likely to receive the death penalty than women - and I've never seen a placard for that.
The source of inconsistent application of execution seems to originate from the blurry definition of consequences for first degree murder. A judge or jury's prerogative is helpful and necessary for most crimes - even felonies and lesser murder charges. But if premeditated murder considered to be first degree lends itself to any number of sentences, the kinds of contentious political modifiers as discussed in the thread are sure to come into play. From what I understand, first degree and second degree murder are so similar in qualifications that a prosecutor will often downgrade from first to second - regardless of any change in evidence. If the definition of first degree conviction requirements could be rarefied, and the sentence unified to capital punishment for states that allow it and life without parole in those that don't, we could see a much more consistent legal management of murder cases. Of course, the debates might then center on the thin line between first and second degree; but at least those convicted of first degree in a state would be given the same sentences.
Michael Ubaldi, August 30, 2003.
Damn! To think that just last evening, I was talking about it. Tom Maguire beat me to the Democratic ticket: Dean-Clark.
Howard Dean's lead is unexpected and momentous; it's his nomination to lose. John Edwards' low arc shows that he lacks national appeal - something Dick Gephardt should have accepted long ago. Joe Lieberman isn't angry or left-leaning enough to appeal to the party's dwindling-yet-conspicuous core. That leaves Carol Moseley-Braun, Bob Graham and the two loonies, who were ornamental to start with, and John Kerry. As a Senator - a dry one at that - Kerry's only hope was to glide into position through seniority and name recognition like Bob Dole did in 1996. His was a game of preventing the depletion of capital since his personality and platform precluded a grassroots groundswell. He's running as empty as my alliteration capacitor. Trailing Dean in New England seals his fate.
Dean-Clark is a workable composite on paper. Balance the antiwar leftist with the general, and questions of military deficiency are, for at least a certain segment of liberal voters, taken care of. Dean's "conservative" fiscal policy spin, in spite of his plan for socialized medicine, is only aided by the conservative aura of former brass. As Maguire points out, gun control is practically made a non-issue. Dean appeals to the new left and LBJ boomers, Clark to the FDR diehards. Neither is controversial or scandal-ridden; both are articulate and, when not whipping bilious insults at the president, surprisingly affable.
America's not kind to modern liberal presidential hopefuls. With Clark's potential outreach to centrists, the ticket might have had a chance if Bush lost more domestic battles and there were no active totalitarian threat to humanity. But the first didn't happen and the second did. Bush is no longer a malapropist Good 'Ol Boy to more than a fiery few. He's an executive fighting a yet-successful war. Both Clark and Dean are documented as hesitant on strategic resolve; more equivocal than the worst of the Bush-Saudi questions; skeptical of American power; and approbatory of our bane, the increasingly corrupt and adversarial "United Nations" nations. Security matters. A lot of self-interested pundits spoke grimly about 2002's politics going local; it didn't happen. Why do surveys routinely show domestic issues rating higher than fighting terror while a consistent majority supports the president? Give credit to the American people: they know what needs to be done but to avoid paralyzing themselves with anxiety, keep the gross of the matter at the back of their minds.
That translates into an apparent disinterest during every month but November. The same applies to specific, war-related issues. Iraq's weapons have not been revealed, and yet belief has hardly budged from wartime highs. Iraq is both rebuilding and defending itself against invasion, but most regular Americans show patience and hope for success. News reports indicate Taliban resurfacings in Afghanistan, though no one seems to take seriously the possibility of Islamists reconquering the country. These are Bush's greatest strengths and can be fortified. If in one year Saddam's guilt is proven beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt; Iraq and Afghanistan are still markedly improving; and other threats like North Korea, Iran and remaining Near East dictatorships are dealt with satisfactorily, the kind of criticism Dean and Clark use today to ply the left and grab headlines will screech like nails on a chalkboard for the general population. Add in an acceptable economy by election time, and we should expect a landslide of 1984 or 1988 proportions.
Michael Ubaldi, August 27, 2003.
Alabama is raging, the scuffle beginning to move into familiar, contentious quarters. Though Chief Justice Moore has reacted to a court determination, his refusal to obey, noble or not, is unlawful. That is the whole of the immediate matter. Unfortunately, the larger issue of religion in public life looms; standard-issue quotations of the Founding Fathers are being tossed about by each side with the intention of marking each "Q.E.D."
A few thoughts about Thomas Jefferson, as I plan to leave the debate to the scholars and pugilists. An abstract utilitarian, Jefferson was certainly firm in his belief that religion, in a personal sense, remain, well, personal:
I have ever thought religion a concern purely between our God and our consciences, for which we were accountable to Him, and not to the priests.
I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the United States. Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in religious discipline has been delegated to the General Government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority.
I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrines; nor of the religious societies, that the General Government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting and prayer are religious exercises. The enjoining them, an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises and the objects proper for them according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands where the Constitution has deposited it...Everyone must act according to the dictates of his own reason, and mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States, and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.
Michael Ubaldi, August 23, 2003.
Fox News' Major Garrett just reported that Bill Simon is out of the running for governing California. Arnold can now effectively add about 10% to his polling numbers while subtracting a prominent antagonist from his right. With a bow-out from Uberroth, the race after a recall will be a question of impossibilities: Arnold blundering a two-month campaign or Cruz Bustamante endearing himself to Davis- and Democrat-hostile voters. This has all the trimmings of a Schwarzenegger shoo-in.
UPDATE: Full story.
UPDATE II: Support for the recall "waning"? The AP seems confused as to the meaning of the word, which strongly implies a gradual or systemic decline. That's far from the story underneath the headline, which simply cites one poll from the LA Times that shows a smaller majority from respondents than the consensus established by most polls. A lower number? Of course, if the poll is accurate. But "wane" is transparently biased - at least before another poll in a week or two can confirm a decline. I'd consider this the first of a hail of bad calls from press agencies as they trip over themselves to define the race.
Michael Ubaldi, August 19, 2003.
That was until this report summarized Wall Street activity from the last year-and-a-half:
U.S. stocks rose on Monday, with the Dow Jones industrial average ending on a 14-month high, as rosy news from big retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. bolstered investors' hopes that the economy and corporate profits are improving.
Michael Ubaldi, August 18, 2003.
Megan McArdle, given a lump of rhetorical dung, tries to read entrails:
From Joe Conason:If your workplace is safe; if your children go to school rather than being forced into labor; if you are paid a living wage, including overtime; if you enjoy a 40-hour week and you are allowed to join a union to protect your rights -- you can thank liberals. If your food is not poisoned and your water is drinkable -- you can thank liberals. If your parents are eligible for Medicare and Social Security, so they can grow old in dignity without bankrupting your family -- you can thank liberals...
Yes, conservatives fought civil rights legislation - but the majority of those conservatives were Democrats. In today's foreign policy, the much-derided "Straussians" and "Kristolites" (or the subtly Hitleresque "Neoconservatives"), accused as having "hijacked" the Republican party, are very much akin to Wilsonian liberals.
The left stands firm on Cold War-implemented containment of foreign threats, a conservative position; while the right moves into uncharted, progressive waters of country-by-country democratization and self-actualization. The left insists on keeping social entitlement programs largely unchanged (conservative) while the right begs to reform them (liberal).
This goes along for most issues. Many strictly societal debates do remain divided, conservative to liberal, as the Democrat-Republican face-off we've grown up with. But it's a reflection of the larger issue that has eclipsed the 20th Century's left-right identification: morality and perspective.
What one will find consistent throughout the years is that, Republican or Democrat, moral absolutists will find their place on the right (i.e., Truman and Acheson); while moral relativists are at home on the left (i.e., Nixon and Kissinger). Politics of the day obscure this; historical consideration sorts it out. Cooperative and utilitarian motivation (idealization and rationalization, respectively) is one whale of a topic unto itself but, suffice to say, the center around which these two opposing forces spin.
UPDATE: I'll make a distinction between practicality and abstraction. The right, as I describe it, is "conservative" with conceptions of truth and value, or stubbornly absolutist - while in the real world, conservative or liberal, depending upon the nature of an issue. The left is "liberal" with those basic principles, or flexibly relativist - but can be considered either conservative or liberal in concrete application. So technically one could still refer to the right as "conservative" and the left as "liberal," only not in the traditional sense which is primarily concerned with the philosophy of politics.
Michael Ubaldi, August 15, 2003.
Rush Limbaugh isn't the only reliable conservative figure to voice serious reservations about Arnold Schwarzenegger's candidacy. The actor may be a perfect match for California's liberal constituency, but perhaps a little shy on political support from beyond the state:
[S]chwarzenegger is pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, and pro-gun control. If he has any thoughts on illegal immigration, or the crushing rates of legal immigration from Mexico and points south, he has not revealed them. His campaign utterances so far have been bromides about California's children. (When politicians speak of children, count the spoons.) Rudy Giuliani was a liberal Republican who was a hard-core conservative on one salient issue — crime. Schwarzenegger appears to be simply a liberal Republican. If he is to win a measure of conservative sympathy, he must endorse a firm no-tax pledge and a serious plan to retrench the Sacramento spending and regulatory regime.
Bottom line? NR doesn't like Arnold's politics, but they'll accept whatever comes.
Michael Ubaldi, August 11, 2003.
Joe Biden, everyone's favorite center-left, Senate curmudgeon, has put the burning question - will he run for president? - to rest. He will not be a Democratic candidate for 2004:
"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done," said Biden at a press conference Monday. "It is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."