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My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
|Samuel A. Alito (with Update)|
is the nominee. Here is Ed Whelan's version of Judge Alito's CV, which is very impressive--on a par with Judge John Roberts.
Just an observation: the President looks ticked off as he's announcing this nomination. I suspect he's ready for a fight.
Harry Reid is sad; Chuck Schumer is disappointed; Barbara Boxer is confused; nothing yet from Ken Salazar.
Time to strap up, everyone. This one could get interesting.
UPDATE: Ken Salazar is troubled.
A. Lewis "Scooter" Libby has been indicted for not being particularly honest with the grand jury.
First of all, anybody who apparently has a hugely successful legal background who manages to rise to the inner circles of Washington without understanding the dangers of not having your *^%#! together when you go in to testify before a grand jury deserves to be hung out to dry. Lying is wrong--lying under oath is criminal. Not bright (if true).
But mostly that's pretty good news. Fitzgerald could not make a case that a CIA agent had been "outed," nor could he pin any charges on Karl Rove or make the case that there was a great conspiracy at the White House. And before any lefties get worked up that "Rove is still under investigation," I would just encourage you to hold your breath waiting for any news on that front.
B. Harriet Miers withdraws, Bush to pick new nominee.
It was becoming increasingly clear that Miers was a no-go candidate, from her erratic track record to her hostility among the base to her underwhelming meetings with Senators. Pulling her off the field was an unfortunate, but necessary, admission of defeat.
Call it a tactical retrograde.
C. Economic Growth still very strong, at 3.8%, despite hurricanes.
Hello?? Is there anybody listening? Did anybody else hear this news on Friday?
D. Iraqi Constitution certified, ratified
Yet another under-reported bit of great news. Just another beam in the foundation of a free, stable, and peaceful Iraq.
All of this news from the end of last week really just points to one overriding political consideration: the President's second term REALLY has to start this week.
It is quite clear that in the year following re-election, this White House has had precious little success in getting its agenda accomplished, or at getting its message out. The agenda has, largely, been controlled by events and ineptness.
It is time for that to change.
Over the next several day I will be outlining a series of issues I think it would be wise for the White House to address, and for which even local candidates can use to their advantage. Yes, I know--why listen to me? Well, you're still reading, so . . .
Look, I'm not saying with any degree of credibility that there's the remotest chance of anybody taking my advice. I'm just speaking as one guy from the middle of America who's watching a Presidency flounder, and who thinks there are some things people care about out here that aren't getting any attention.
And it all starts with Monday morning , 8 am, the President announcing Michael Luttig as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. He's a man with judicial experience, a pedigree nearly unparalleled, and the sort of temperament that could withstand 20 minutes of furious questioning by Joe Biden. Not only that, all reports have him as being very bright and affable, and very capable of making the sort of national impression the John Roberts did.
If there has to be a battle, make it a battle you can win, with the absolute right person to fight it over. And it's very likely that such an appointment would tip off a filibuster, . . .
So battle, it is.
BtB, Red State is hearing Justice Alito. On the other hand, they've been wrong on the last two, so I think I 'll just wait until the presser in the morning.
|Silence On C and D|
Warning: COMPLETE AND UNADULTERATED SPECULATION FORTHCOMING
Just so you know . . .
Has anybody else noticed the complete LACK of new information regarding Refs C and D over the last few days? No polls, nothing really new from either side . . .
Don't you think if one side or the others' internal polls were showing strong movement one way or the other, that that news would have somehow leaked out? Or, better yet, if one side or the other was increasingly confident, that they'd have put up the money for a public poll? Of course, that would require substantial cash on hand; let's see, which side has more money . . .
Couple that with (as Ben pointed out) Joan Fitz-gerald deciding NOT to run for governor (a run that she speculated would hinge on the passage of C and D), and announced candidate Bill Ritter's, shall we say, careful support for C and D, and you start to develop a picture of one side beginning to lose confidence.
Like I said, this is complete speculation. But you learn a lot from body language; and right now the body language of the supporters C & D is, well, skittish.
|Be Careful What You Wish For|
Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination for the Supreme Court.
Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to be a Supreme Court justice Thursday in the face of stiff opposition and mounting criticism about her qualifications.
"It is clear that senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House -- disclosures that would undermine a president's ability to receive candid counsel," Bush said. "Harriet Miers' decision demonstrates her deep respect for this essential aspect of the constitutional separation of powers -- and confirms my deep respect and admiration for her."
Two words leap to mind: Pyrrhic Victory.
I completely fail to see how this in any way helps the President, other than to get one thing off his plate for the moment. The Corner and Laura Ingraham may be happy, but it seems to me that this actually weakens the President.
You want a Justice Luttig? McConnell? Owens? Better be prepared to win confirmation over a filibuster.
And a filibuster based SOLELY ON JUDICIAL PHILOSOPHY. This is the can of worms that has been opened up by not only the opposition groups, but by Senators wanting to know what her "Judicial Philosophy" would be. That makes judicial philosophy fair game for the Left. And that makes it all but certain that a strong conservative jurist will face a filibuster, and I just don't see the caucus being able to hold together to break it.
I will have to admit to flagging enthusiasm for the Miers nomination, a nomination I was lukewarm about from the beginning. But for her--and the President--to have taken the beating she has in public for the last three weeks has been bad for the party, and it's only going to get harder from here.
Look, I'm pretty sure that we have the better argument about the role of the Court in American life, but winning that argument with the American people is different than winning that argument in the Senate. And, at that, we really haven't shown any ability to make a good argument through the media fog for about a year now.
|This Doesn't Sound Like An Indictment Is Coming|
First of all, let me stipulate to the fact that I KNOW NOTHING! I am not a lawyer, nor was my father a lawyer, so my understanding of some of the legal intricacies involved in a grand jury are little more than basic. But I do know logic, and . . .
If Fitzgerald's team is still interviewing the neighbors to see if they knew what she did for a living, that sounds like a bad thing for the case. If the beginning of the case is the potential "outing" of a covert operative, and the investigator is only just now confirming the depth of the operative's cover, that pretty well draws into question the entire investigation, doesn't it? If the logical premise for an inquiry is false, than is it even possible for all other premises and conclusions to have any meaning? Of course not.
Then there's this tidbit, from deep inside the front page story:
But after grand jurors left the federal courthouse before noon yesterday, it was unclear whether Fitzgerald had spelled out the criminal charges he might ask them to consider, or whether he had asked them to vote on any proposed indictments. Fitzgerald's legal team did not present the results of a grand jury vote to the court yesterday, which he is required to do within days of such a vote.
Fitzgerald also had a 45 minute meeting with a judge, from which no new information emerged.
The grand jury is set to expire in two days, and they still haven't been told what charges to consider, much less vote on indictments within a time frame that meets the burden established by the law.
Now, I could be very, very wrong about all this. But nothing that I've seen presented either officially or unoficially make s me lose sleep for the futures of "Scooter" Libby or Karl Rove. And the wild speculation coming out of Washington only helps confirm some of my thinking--if anybody actually knew anything, the talk would be a little less hysterical, it would seem.
At any rate, it does seem as if this whole mess will be concluded in just a couple days.
So we can get back to more pressing things . . .
|Trying To Keep My Eye On The Ball|
While Washington gets itself all worked up over the rumor that indictments will be handed down tomorrow in the The Plame Game, two really big, interconnected stories are also on the front page.
One: The American military death toll in the Iraq war reached 2,000 Tuesday with the announcements of three more deaths, including an Army sergeant who died of wounds at a military hospital in Texas and two Marines killed last week in fighting west of Baghdad.
May God Bless each and every one of their souls, and those of their families. Their noble and able sacrifice has made possible the second story:
Iraq's landmark constitution was adopted by a majority of voters during the country's Oct. 15 referendum, as Sunni Arab opponents failed to muster enough support to defeat it, election officials said Tuesday.
Out of those two major stories, two farcical observations come to mind. The first one needs a little setup, with my own writing interjected within the brackets.
Nationwide, 78.59 percent voted for the charter while 21.41 percent voted against, the commission said. The charter required a simple majority nationwide with the provision that if two-thirds of the voters in any three provinces rejected it, the constitution would be defeated. . . .
Two mostly Sunni Arab provinces - Salahuddin and Anbar - had voted against the constitution by at least a two-thirds vote. The commission, which had been auditing the referendum results for 10 days, said a third province where many Sunnis live - Ninevah - produced a ``no'' vote of only 55 percent.
[Asked for comment, Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean responded: "Here's another example of Republicans getting what they want at the ballot box under shady circumstances, at best. Really, if you look at it, another 10,000 votes in Ninevah Province in the other direction, and you're now looking at a President Ker . . . at a whole different circumstance, just like in Ohio and in Florida. ]
And the second comes off of the wit and wisdom of Ted Kennedy:
"Our armed forces are serving ably in Iraq under enormously difficult circumstances, and the policy of our government must be worthy of their sacrifice. Unfortunately, it is not, and the American people know it," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat.
I wonder what Sen. Kennedy considers "serving ably?" Is it possible to "serve ably" in a failing mission? That is certainly what Kennedy is intimating. Perhaps he's narrowing his comments to the privates--in such a case it would be possible to sere well and honorably in a failing effort. But that failing effort must, then, indict the planners of the mission. Since Kennedy specifically says "Our armed forces" he is clearly including the lieutenants, corporals, sargeants, commanders, captains, colonels and generals in his assessment. That implies competence up and down the chain--all the way to the CINC.
Or perhaps more directly, if pulling off two successful elections in this part of the world while overthrowing a tyrant who has long been a threat to the entire region constitutes an unworthy policy--if committing Americans to follow through militarily on a policy signed into law by Bill Clinton--then perhaps the Senator ought to enlighten all of us as to HIS wiser course of action. Because he's been plenty happy to get air time, but predictably short of actual IDEAS as to how to manage this.
But, just for a little perspective, let's all remember that our own road to a Constitution was watered with the blood of 6,800 Americans, with over 18,000 additional servicemen dying from disease during the war. And from the beginning of the war to the successful Constitutional Referendum took over a decade.
|Hello, Kettle? Yeah, This Is The Pot . . .|
Remember all the stink the supporters of C and D are making over some $240,000 that was donated to the Independence Institute to combat C and D? Over $240K? Mostly because the source of the donations remains undisclosed?
Perhaps supporters of C and D should have hoped that their own donor list would have remained undisclosed. From the front page of the Denver Post:
C, D donors have much to gain
Is it "pay to play"?
Businesses and organizations that could benefit financially from November's ballot measures to suspend the state's revenue limits contributed $3.5 million - or more than three- fourths of the total $4.4 million given to the proponents' campaign - between early July and mid-October.
Those groups include road builders, health care providers, engineering firms, bankers and lawyers that could benefit directly through state contracts or more government funding.
Uh, WHOOPS! That's not exactly the sort of PR a ballot measure needs in the last week before an election. Some of those undecideds, the ones who were identified in last week's poll as primarily Republicans, aren't likely to sign on to something that appears so incestuous. But wait. . . it gets worse.
Here's the list of donors published by the Post:
Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce: $496k
Colorado Health and Hospital Association: $300k
Colorado Education Association: $200k
Centura Health: $195k
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees: $100k
American Federation of Teachers: $100k
Colorado Bar Association: $100k
MDC Holdings: $100k
Lafarge West: $75k
This list, in and of itself, should be plenty to make up the minds of those "undecided, suburban Republican" voters, if for no other reason than that two teachers' unions have donated more by themselves than the amount disputed for the anti-C people.
Just think about that for a moment: two teachers unions, whose purpose is ostensibly to protect teachers in their disputes with school districts--though they claim almost sole proprietorship over all things educational, including student improvement--have donated almost as much by themselves to the campaigns to approve C and D as the entire defeat C and D campaigns have raised. For them to do that, the unions must be of the belief that TEACHERS--not students--would benefit from C and D. And I wonder how they think that would happen? Hmmm? Perhaps a simple expectation that increased state funding would translate almost directly into higher teacher salaries? Hmmm? Which , if it has any positive effect on student learning, only does so in an indirect way, if at all.
But more than that, isn't it more than a little distasteful that the union of public employees is in a position to put up $100k, surely for little more reason than to protect their jobs? And perhaps that would be justifiable in terms of an investment strategy.
But it is rather unseemly as an instrument of public policy making.
|What's Wrong With Kids These Days?|
Nothing. Or, at least, I would contend that a great number of them are outstriping the accomplishments of many of their older counterparts.
Want some proof? Come down to Invesco Field tomorrow to watch some 4000 high schoolers put blood, sweat and tears--and, oh yeah, music--into the Colorado State Marching Band Championships for Class 5A and 4A high schools. This is, if I'm not mistaken, the single largest student competition in the state, and represents literally hundreds of hours of student preparation time, not to mention countless hours on top of that of instructor and director effort. And if you can't make it to Invesco tomorrow, the small schools will have their championship competition on Monday at the new Cerry Creek Schools stadium in Aurora.
|Not Fit To Govern|
Lately, I have had a much easier time identifying with my friends on the Left. That is, it seems as though for every embarrasing statement by the likes of Ted Kennedy, Republicans are able to manage at least one of their own. Thursday gave us a gem of an example:
One, called by critics the "bridge to nowhere, would connect Ketchikan, Alaska, to an island where there is an airport and about 50 people. The highway bill allotted $223 million for that project and $229 million for another bridge near Anchorage.
"We find ourselves in significant difficulties as a nation," Coburn said, referring to the massive costs of hurricane relief and the mounting federal deficit. The Alaska bridges, he said, "are very low on the totem pole" of national priorities.
But in the tradition-bound Senate, Coburn was taking on an unwritten rule that one senator does not attack the projects sought by another.
"I've been here now almost 37 years," Stevens said. "This is the first time I have seen any attempt of any senator to treat my state in a way different from any other state."
"I don't kid people," he said. If the Senate decides ... to take money from our state, I will resign from this body."
Watching the coverage of this, I would swear Stevens was ready to break into tears at any moment. It was all very Voinovich-ian.
Perhaps such meltdowns in the Senate explain this:
. . .the money situation for the Republicans in the Senate is not quite as bad as the situation for the [House} Democrats. The DSCC narrowly outraised the NRSC last quarter, and currently holds about a 2-1 advantage in CoH [Cash on Hand]. These numbers are not devastating, but they are bad, and if they do not improve soon, could bode serious problems for the continued Republican control of the Senate.
Speaking of things that Elizabeth Dole does not do well, recruitment on the Republican side has been nothing short of atrocious. To recap briefly, Johanns (NE), Hoeven (ND), Giuliani (NY), Capito (WV) and Rossi (WA) all took a pass on running in 2006, instantly turning 5 elections that would have been "toss-ups" into either "lean Democrat" or "solid Democrat." When the scale of elections goes statewide, the money starts to matter progressively less, and the person running starts to matter more. The bottom line is that there are a lot of Senate seats that ought to be at the very least in play for Republicans that aren't right now.
Add to that the fact that Republicans are defending two very tough seats in PA and RI, and are facing a very stiff challenge from top-flight candidates in places like TN, and the picture for the Republicans in the Senate look considerably worse.
I gotta believe that the complete lack of discipline over the Miers nomination--REGARDLESS OF THE BASIS--will not add to the overall impression of competence among Senate Republicans--ALSO, REGARDLESS OF ACTUAL SOURCE OF MELTDOWN. Frankly, I'm not surprised the RSCC is having a hard time drafting candidates--would you want to be a junior member of THIS group?
|Of Implications and Speculations|
Two interesting stories caught my eye tonight, and not as much for what they are as for what they could be.
The first is this: Syria Feels Heat Over U.N. Report
Middle East Is Captivated By Findings in Hariri Killing
A day after its release, a U.N. report that implicated senior Syrian officials in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri escalated pressure on the already beleaguered government here and ignited renewed demands that Lebanon's pro-Syrian president step down.
And the second is this: Editor Says Reporter May Have Misled The Newspaper in Plame Leak Case
The comments by Robert Bennett came as Executive Editor Bill Keller accused Miller of apparently misleading the newspaper about her dealings with Vice President Cheney's top aide, signaling the first public split between Miller and the management of a newspaper that had fully embraced her in the contentious legal battle.
Now, like I said, in and of themselves, these stories may or may not amount to much. But I like looking at domino theories--thus the "speculation."
If pressure, particularly international pressure from France and the U.N. manages to topple the Syrian government--or perhaps some negotiated deal keeps Assad in power but fully cooperating--that could spell the beginning of the end of the Iraqi insurgency. It is safe to assume that the "insurgents", i.e. the terrorists, are using Syria as a base of operations; it may also be safe to assume that money, supplies, and munitions are also flowing through Syria. A change of leadership within Syria could lead to a cutting off of the pipeline. In addition, maybe it's too much to hope but that a new Syrian regime would "encourage" the real Lebanese government to allow us access to the Bekaa Valley, where a great deal of speculation re: Iraq's WMDs is centered.
Of course, it's also possible that a new Syria would be led by something or someone a bit worse than Assad.
And, as to the second story, since most of the recent speculation regarding the Plame investigation is centered around the idea that Rove/Libby would be indicted for a cover-up based on not remembering much of the original events of the case, wouldn't it also be possible that Miller could be indicted for the very same thing? If she "misspoke" to her bosses, what might she have said to the grand jury? It would seem clear that she misstated many things to the grand jury already--why would she have a higher threshhold for prosecution than Rove and Libby?
Could you imagine the firestorm that would erupt if Fitzgerald came back with no indictments for the political players in this little drama, but instead nailed a reporter for printing the name of a "covert operative"? That sure would be fun to watch.
Of course, I have no information that would validate any of this--that's why it's "implications and speculations."
Daniel Henninger, in the Opinion Journal Online, has laid out a four-step plan for the President to get his ship back on its moorings. It looks like this:
1. Withdraw Miers; nominate Edith Jones
2. Go to Iraq, make a major speech
3. Get the new Fed Chairman right
4. Embrace Spending limits
I'm not entirely sure I agree with the whole list, but it is interesting. To be sure, I have already called for #2, though I thought a prime time speech to a joint session was the way to go; and I think #3 is a no-brainer.
But #4 is, perhaps, not the most politically sound move; the political gains he would make in the base would be offset by those decrying the "heartlessness" of the administration (What? you were thinking that he would get credit in the press or anywhere else for fiscal discipline? that's a no-win situation.).
And I'm not sure about #1, either, though I have to admit I'm more open to the possibility than I was a week ago. I continue to be disturbed by the White House's ineptness at handling the PR aspect of the nomination, and I haven't heard more than token approval of her answers to the Judiciary Committee's questionnaire. I'm not entirely sure, any more, that this is a hill worth dying on. But then, nominating Edith Jones seems like picking an enormous fight that, in his current condition, he might not be able to win. And again, maybe because of his own party (remember the Gang of 7??).
It is an interesting idea, and one I will entertain for a while.
|MSM Coverage of the Real Story|
WaPo: In Iraq, Two Views: Hero or Villain, p. A20
NYTimes: Defiant Hussein, Lashing Out at U.S., Goes on Trial, page unclear, but not on front page of website (in honesty, the coverage of a "divided" Iraqi sentiment does warrant front page web coverage)
USAToday: Saddam pleads not guilty, court adjourned until Nov., page unclear, but not on front page of website
WashTimes: Saddam rejects 'so-called court', page unclear, front page of website
Now, not to harp on the whole "media bias" thing, but one has to wonder if the legitimate trial of a brutal dictator who the U.S. has recently deposed is worthy of front page coverage. The WashTimes thinks so; I wonder why the opinion of the other newspapers is so different.
Or, actually, the better question might be this: if there were a Democrat President, or even if this had been under the auspices of the United Nations, would this story warrant front page above the fold coverage. Or close.
In fact, when Slobo Milosevic was put on trial at the Hague, his arraignment warranted page 2 coverage. Not front, above the fold, but a bit more than page twenty.
Imagine the opposite: Saddam on Trial gets front page, above the fold; his image is on the lead story of every evening newscast; and the details that the prosecutor laid out very capably today
are on every lip as the country discusses the imposition of real justice in Iraq. Do you think that might have a little effect on the polls? Maybe?
|A Word On $491 and Fine Print|
One of the latest commercials in favor of Referendum C attacks to math of opponents, and claims that the real number of refunds foregone by voters if C passes is $491--"because it says so right in the blue book." Even Channel 9 News tonight, in it's "Fact Sheet" on Referendum C, touted the $491 figure.
The problem is, $491 is a deliberately deceptive number. You have to read the fine print.
And I quote (from the Blue Book itself):
There are currently 16 methods to refund money, as listed in the Referendum C Appendix. One of the methods is the sales tax refund, which almost all taxpayers receive. The sales tax refund accounts for about 42 percent of all TABOR refunds and is distibuted based on income levels. Taxpayers are expected to receive a total of between $350 and $1,021 over the next five years, or an average of $491, in sales tax refunds.
So, yes, it's true that the Blue Book says--and I believe it's accurate--that the average taxpayer would agree to forego $491 in refunds over the next five years. At least, that's the number for the 42%.
So, let's see. . . 491 divided by .42 . . . carry the . . . move the dot . . .
SO THE GRAND TOTAL WOULD ACTUALLY BE $1,169.05 over a five year period, which is almost exactly what the opponents of C have been saying all along.
So, I suppose there are really two questions:
a. is that a reasonable amount you are willing to give to the state over the next five years, and
b. what does it say about the proponents of C and D that they engage in such deliberate obfuscation of the facts?
|A Word On "Kicking the Can"|
Many commentators have been noting that the great Iraqi compromise of last week--that which enabled the Sunnis to come out and vote for the Constitution--is little more than "kicking the can" down the road, laying the groundwork for more difficult battles down the road.
Well, let me refresh everybody's memories about other famous "kicks down the road."
The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars to each person.
Recognize that? Hey, congratulations!!! Somebody must have been educated outside the public system.
Yep, that's from our very own American Constitution, Article I, Section 9, Clause 1.
Now, obviously, that wasn't a permanent solution. But that grand compromise held up for about 70 years before we, as a country, decided to improve on it.
I bring that up to point out the "kicking the can down the road," that is, compromise, is an essential and necessary component of good democracy. And sometimes it's not perfect, or pretty, or even particularly good. But that's how it works.
And, insofar as this "kick" made it possible for Iraq to pull together for an historic vote this weekend, and drew the Sunni minority back in to the political process, then I would say that there is hardly any reason to denigrate this compromise. Yes, there is work ahead of the Iraqi people.
But even we Americans had to change our own Constitution pretty dramatically (remember that little thing called the "Bill of Rights"?) before it was considered a final document.
So let's just take a deep breath and give the Iraqis a chance. They've earned it.
Mark Steyn, in his own inimitable way, has a hilarious column in the Telegraph today. It actually has a serious point, but I'll just give you a bit of the humor to draw you to it:
Last week, on Belgian television, the UN children's agency premiered the first adult movie featuring the Smurfs. By "adult", I don't mean it was a blue movie. Only the characters were blue. But it was an adult movie in the sense that the Smurfs were massacred during an air strike on their village, until, in the final scene, only Baby Smurf is left, weeping alone surrounded by wall-to-wall Smurf corpses. It's the first Smurf snurf movie.
Well, I thought, say what you like about the UN, but any organisation that wants to bomb the Smurfs can't be all bad. Instead of those wimps at Dudley council banning Piglet like a bunch of nancy boys, why couldn't they make some blockbuster video nuking the Hundred-Acre Wood and leaving Pooh to die in a radioactive Heffalump pit?
Go. Read. Today.
|Thank God For This Opposition|
Donald Lambro in the Washington Times reports today on some advice the Democrats have been getting.
House and Senate Democrats have asked the authors of a sharply critical analysis of their party's strategic election weaknesses to brief them on their political proposals in preparation for the 2008 presidential campaign cycle.
The 70-page report, "The Politics of Polarization," by two veteran Democratic strategists who worked in the Clinton White House, takes the party and former presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, to task for being weak on national security and cultural issues. It also criticizes them for championing a liberal agenda that has driven centrist, married and religious voters into the Republican column.
This is interesting, and, well, to most of us, somewhat obvious. So you would think it would be easy to expect the Dems to take this advice, which could spell trouble for Republicans. But you would be wrong.
Mr. Galston and Ms. Kamarck have been down this road before. They co-wrote a similarly stinging critique of the Democrats' 1988 presidential campaign, titled "The Politics of Evasion," charging that liberal Democrats "were clinging to a series of myths that thwarted critical thinking and needed change."
Re-examining many of the party's same strategic mistakes in his latest study, Mr. Galston said, "I've seen this movie before. Here we are 16 years later and the sequel is very much the same."
In my opinion, the White House has been pretty bad at the public relations game for quite a while now. To some degree, I find it nearly miraculous that the President won re-election, given the ineptness of the WH communications effort coupled with the overwhelmingly biased press coverage of the last two years. And it hasn't been any better lately--since about mid-July it's been as if all the smart people left the country. Consider Sheehan, the economy, Katrina, Harriet Miers, and the lack of shouting about our other foreign policy successes (Lebanon, North Korea).
If I had my way, the President would ask to address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night in prime time with network coverage. I would ask the Prime Minister of Iraq and General Patreus to be in the front row, and I would shout about the great success of this weekend's Iraq vote from the loudest bully pulpit in the civilized world. I would follow that with a loud and forceful OFFENSE on the Miers nomination, including, if necessary, a sharp rebuke of conservative critics who have criticized her nomination because they DON'T HAVE ENOUGH INFORMATION.
It's time for the White House to get off the schneid [ed. query: what's a "schneid", and why does anyone get on one?] on the public relations game and start demonstrating the public leadership that drew the American public to the President's side in the days after 9/11.
But I'm not holding my breath for that to happen.
So, short of the White House getting better about this, I think all we can do is take comfort in the fact that any bad news requires an opponent capable of capitalizing on it. And, lucky for us, the opponent in this case is the Democrats.
|Meanwhile, Back On The Main Story|
It is beginning to look a lot like the Iraqis have ratified the draft Constitution.
As expected, two of the heavily Sunni provinces--Salheddin and Anbar--seem to have rejected the Constitution, and, perhaps, by not a small margin.
The home province of ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, Salaheddin, has overwhelmingly rejected the new constitution in Iraq's referendum, the electoral commission said Sunday in the regional capital Tikrit.
At 78.5 per cent, more than two thirds of the eligible voters in the province said 'no' to the new constitution, the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) said after the vote count was almost complete one day after the referendum. . . .
In the restive city of Fallujah in Anbar province, where voter turnout was 90 per cent, 99 per cent of those who voted cast their ballots against the constitution.
However, if you recall, a rejection by more than two-thirds in THREE or more provinces was required to reject the whole Constitution.
The two other provinces with Sunni majorities are Ninive and Diyala. A large number of Shiites and Kurds live in Diyala so a two- thirds 'no' vote was not expected there.
In Ninive it was predicted that the capital Mosul, where many Kurds live, could tip the scales in favour of a 'yes' vote.
In fact, if the reporting at Powerline is correct--an unusual caveat for Powerline, but their numbers are unlinked--the Sunni majority itself approved, or at least failed to reject, the draft Constitution.
But in the other two Sunni-majority provinces, Diyala and Ninevah, it appears that most Sunnis supported the new constitution. In Diyala, 70% supported the referendum, with only 20% opposed. In Ninevah, with more than 80% of polling places reporting, 79% had voted in favor. There is no way to get those numbers unless most Sunnis voted "yes."
Yep, another stinging rebuke of the American Plan for Iraq.
|More C & D Polls|
The Denver Post has a poll today on referenda C & D. The information from this poll is about the same as the one I wrote about the other day.
If the election were held today, 47 percent of the poll's 625 respondents said they would vote in favor of Referendum C. Forty-four percent said they would vote against it, and 9 percent remain undecided.
Poll respondents are split on Referendum D: 44 percent said they would vote yes, 45 percent would vote no, and 11 percent were undecided.
My memory and instincts from the other day seem borne out by one of the election experts interviewed in the article.
The narrow margin suggests that the ballot measures are likely to lose because undecided voters typically opt for the status quo, Coker said. Another factor is Republicans compose the biggest group of undecided voters.
"Unless it's over 50 percent, I'm always skeptical," Coker said.
I would be curious to see numbers about expenditures in the campaign for C & D. The supporters are making a big deal about the $240,000 that are coming in from out of state to help the Independence Institute fight the ballot initiatives. Yet that couple hundred thousand--out of total expenditures of $320 k) SEEMS like small change compared to the expenditures by proponents of the initiatives.
And still, with all the help getting the message out (including an endorsement today by the Post editorial board), Colorado's natural fiscal tendencies are showing.
. . .the poll uncovered several bad omens for backers of the ballot measures: too many undecided Republicans, slipping support in the Denver suburbs and a majority of voters who say they'd accept across-the-board budget cuts.
|Today's Real Story (with updates)|
I'm searching the internet and surfing the dial for information about the voting going on in Iraq today.
Infuriatingly, there is precious little actual information out there. So keep your eyes on whatever sites you can find that are going to actually report what's going on, and I'll keep posting updates as I find them.
The television coverage this morning is awful. In fact, it's so bad that I'm stuck watching Christianne Amanpour on CNN for news. UGH!
What she is reporting is that turnout across Baghdad seems to be running at around 50%, which is about the same as in Fallujah, though Ramadi seems to have very low turnout. No reporting of turnout from elsewhere in Iraq.
Get that? No reports from elsewhere--from the places where you would expect turnout and enthusiasm high. Typical CNN.
On the other hand, there was a camera in a counting room at one Baghdad precinct, and while the reporter was unable to read the tally, Amanpour did say that the votes in the "yes" column were outpacing those in the "no" column.
As usual, the blogs are out in front. Iraq the Model has some good on-the-ground reporting, including the following:
-One attack was reported in Hilla; three armed men attacked a voting office but Iraqi security men were able to arrest the attackers. Nothing reported damaged in the office, one attacker was shot in the foot!
-Turn out rate in the Kurdistan region has exceeded 70% of the registered voters. (Sources: Al-Iraqia and Al-Hurra TV.)
-170,000 votes were cast in the first 3 hours in Kirkuk, that’s around one quarter of the registered voters in the city.
-Voting stations in Tal Afar are open but no reports on the turnout in the town, however the local officials of the electoral commission in Mosul said that the number of voters who turned out in the city is a “surprise”.
6:15 p.m. UPDATE
Iraq the Model is reporting that the Iraqi Electoral Commission is reporting that NINE OF THE EIGHTEEN Iraqi provinces had turnout of over 66%. Eight other provinces had "moderate" turnout (between 33%-66%--who wants to bet that those numbers are actually closer to the 66 than the 33), while one--JUST ONE--had a turnout of below 33%. In addition, there is some incredible video linked at ItM which I cannot urge you strongly enough to go watch.
Another spectacular failure for the Iraqi people and the Bush Administration policy.
Also, there were also, apparently, a grand total of 13 attacks by rebel terrorists, a puny number compared to the attacks from last January 31st.
But, apparently, the Iraqis aren't capable of taking care of themselves.
|Polling on C & D|
The Rocky Mountain News, in conjunction with Public Opinion Strategies, conducted a statewide poll of 500 voters related to Referenda C & D. The key findings:
:Referendum C is favored by a 49-46 margin, well within the margin of error
:Referendum D is favored by a 50-44 margin
:voters believe that C will pass by a 49-35 margin
If you've been getting tired of the advertisements for C and D, don't look for a break anytime soon. With the margin this close, you can expect quite a blitz until November 1st.
If memory serves, doesn't conventional wisdom hold that ballot referenda tend to run strong early, and then close up at the end? If that's the case, then I would think traditional electoral dynamics favors opponents by a nose. And at any rate, with the battle lines being basically the Governor, the legislature, all the business people and all the unions against Jon Caldara, Joe Stengel and Mike Rosen, you should think that C and D would be doing substantially better.
One of the key points which will work in favor of opponents is these two little tidbits from the poll:
:But the poll shows they aren't totally buying the argument that Colorado has a budget crisis: 51 percent said there are problems, but no crisis.
:If Referendums C and D win, Weigel said, it will be despite the fact that two-thirds of the voters say government will waste the money and 55 percent believe their taxes will increase.
One would think that will show up in the media blitz over the next two weeks.
|The Big Picture|
Much good news out of Iraq in the last couple of days--much of which is getting largely ignored.
:The coalition released a letter from Aman al-Zawahiri to Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi revealing, among other things, that Zawahiri is somewhat, er, indisposed to various forms of communication of late, that the Pakistani army is hounding him, and that al-Qaeda is a bit short of funds right now. For a thorough discussion of this letter and its implications, see Powerline.
:And a compromise has been reached between the factions in Iraq that all but guarantee the ratification of the referendum this Saturday.
These seem to be, I don't know, IMPORTANT developments. And, notably, both of them point to successes of the policies of the President.
Maybe the press will begin to notice the pattern of successes emerging from Iraq.
|Answering My Own Question|
Last night I wondered aloud ("a-inked?") what the President's thinking was in picking this particular battlefield. Today, I was reminded why.
Anybody taken a good look at the Supreme Court Docket for this term? Parental Notification, Assisted Suicide, . . . think these cases matter to the President? Think he might want his person on the Bench in time to vote on these?
Think a contentious nominee might take just a little longer to get through--perhaps so much so that even if confirmed, the nominee would not be able to vote on these issues?
And, is it just possible that, Arlen Specter notwithstanding, Harriet Miers might be able to get through committee and the Senate quickly enough to be there when these votes are cast?
Perhaps that's why this battlefield at this time.
|Harriet Miers: The GOP's Howard Dean Moment|
We on the Right have drawn an inexaustible source of amusement from the mad rantings of Howard Dean. First, as an obscure candidate who rose to favorite status before a famous melt-down, and, more recently, as an undisciplined and somewhat bizarre head of the Democratic National Committee.
But, what was it that first drew our attention to him? Anyone remember?
First of all, he came out against the War in Iraq early, loudly, and often.
Especially that loudly part.
He also forced the rest of the field to respond to his fundraising acumen by doing things like loaning themselves money.
Then he added to the fun by saying the capture of Saddam Hussein was irrelevant to our ultimate success in Iraq.
In other words, what he did was speak to and try to enforce orthodoxy on the Democratic Party. His words and actions forced the rest of the field into uncomfortable positions ("I actually voted for it before I voted against it") and other hard-Left rumblings. In the end, he was ineffectual with Democrats, but forced the vast middle to look at the Democrats as beholden and out-of-touch.
Let me say that clearly: the greatest effect Howard Dean had on Democrats in 2004 was to force them further away from the vast middle of the electorate, where the votes for victory were. . .
and where the votes for victory were not.
Now, I'm not saying that the critics of the Harriet Miers nomination are nearly as out there or as entertaining as Mad Howard, . . .
but they are accomplishing the same thing.
What they want is a fight for the sake of the fight. What they want is strict SPOKEN orthodoxy to conservatism. What they want is to know that the person nominated will be exactly what they want. But more than that, they want a person whose credentials meet THEIR idea of substantial and adequate.
And they are willing to tear down the hard-fought walls of Republican strength to get what they want.
Over the top? Perhaps. But not more than Charles Krauthammer calling for Miers to withdraw her name. Not more than George Will saying that this President "in particular" is incapable or disinclined to understand how important judicial philosophy really is. Not more than Bill Kristol saying this President doesn't understand how important a seat on SCOTUS is (this, from a man who (if memory serves) was Chief of Staff to the famously erudite Dan Quayle).
Such writings about the President of the United States do nothing to move forward the agenda on tax relief, on security, on Iraq, and on myriad other agenda items which this President needs to accomplish. Not to mention his electorale strength approaching 2006.
In other words, they're willing to harm the party and force the President further to the right, all for the sake of orthodoxy.
So, while they are certainly welcome to their opinions, I would caution the aforementioned pundits to withhold criticism of Howard Dean in the future. Such would smack of. . . hypocricy.
I heard an on-air debate today on the Caplis and Silverman Show on 630KHOW between Douglas Bruce and State Senator Ken Gordon (D). I was unable to hear the whole thing, but I did catch about 45 minutes of it.
And, were I a ringside judge, I would have scored it a TKO in about the fourth round. The most important thing I heard was Bruce backing the Senator into admitting that Referenda C and D ARE, in fact, a tax increase.
There's a clip that should get an awful lot of ad play in the last four weeks.
And you know those ads that say the cost will be only a few hundred per family--because it says so right in the blue book! Turns out that that figure quoted, and printed in the blue book, applies only to the sales tax portion of the refunds. Of course, there are other kinds of taxes in Colorado.
Silverman hammered away with this question: isn't it fundamentally deceptive of the supporters of C & D to fall back on numbers that don't add up and to disguise the real cost and possible uses of this money?
Me, personally, I'm waiting for this ad:
The legislature is asking voters to approve a waiver of certain provisions of the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights. They say this waiver is necessary to guarantee the continuation of many state services.
They say the amount of money that they need is $3.7 billion.
What they don't say is that state budget analysts have placed the actual budgetary shortfall at closer to $1 billion.
What they also don't say is why they want the extra $2.7 billion.
What else they are conspicuously avoiding talking about is the fundamental strength of the Colorado economy, as indicated by an unemployment rate of 5.1%, a job growth of 80,000 jobs per month over the past three months [okay, so I don't have actual numbers at my fingertips, but you get the idea], and a constant growth of state revenues. In other words, the economy under TABOR is recovering very nicely.
So . . . .
Do you really think it's okay to give government a $3.7 billion dollar solution to a $1 billion problem?
I'm not holding my breath to see this ad, of course. But for me, this does boil down to that one little problem.
I'm not in denial that certain provisions of TABOR have hamstrung the state government to some degree. And, perhaps, a little tweaking is a good thing.
But not this particular tweak.
|More From Sun Tzu|
I posted last week some thoughts from Sun Tzu, an attempt to explain the President's choice of Harriet Miers. I really do believe that this may have been a grand strategic move. . .
However, one of the principles of warfare is the advantageous selection of the battlefield. Given the events of the past week--events which could have hardly been a huge surprise to the President--I was left wondering one thing:
Why did the President choose THIS battlefield? Why did he pick a fight in his own back yard?
I actually don't have any answers--I'm just thinking out loud and welcoming anyone else's input.
|Just For Some Perspective|
Remember just a few weeks ago, how all the Lefties were comparing the events in New Orleans to a "third world" country? Well, as if on cue, we now are reminded what actually does happen when natural disasters hit a third world country:
Officials initially said the powerful, 7.6-magnitute temblor killed at least 2,000 people. But the toll was widely expected to rise, and by Sunday morning, the Pakistani army's top spokesman said the military believed more than 18,000 people had perished, according to news services. He said 41,000 people had been injured.
Now, granted, in the days following Katrina, the mayor believed 10,000 people had perished--of course, he was proved wildly wrong.
Let's pray that the Pakistani military is similarly wrong.
And, just in case, let's pray for the Pakistani people, anyway.
|Again, God Bless The English Speaking Peoples|
While the French and the Germans and the Russians are busily trying to augment their own national incomes by helping Iran develop a nuclear program, our good friend Tony Blair is keeping his eye on the ball.
Tony Blair warned Iran yesterday to stop meddling in Iraq, saying that Britain would not be intimidated by Iranian-linked roadside bombs that have killed eight soldiers. . . .
"I want to be very, very clear about this - the British forces are in Iraq under a United Nations mandate. There is no justification for Iran or any other country to interfere in Iraq.
"Neither will we be subjected to any intimidation in raising the necessary and right issues to do with the nuclear weapons obligations of Iran under the atomic energy agency treaty."
Couple that with the President's speech on the War on Terror today, and you get the sense that leadership in the War on Terror is very much a trans-Atlantic thing, and that our most natural ally is, as it ever has been, our stoutest ally.
Gad Save The Queen and her Prime Minister.
|Senator Salazar Wades In Again|
Thus spake Sen. Salazar:
"It's troublesome to me the comment would be made," Salazar said at a Tuesday news conference in Denver. "It seems to me, all of the (information) the White House knows about Harriet Miers should be made available to the Senate and the American people. If they're making information available to Dr. Dobson - whom I respect and disagree with from time to time - I believe that information should be shared equally with a U.S. senator." . . .
"If information is being shared with people in a hidden and secretive way, I think that's wrong," Salazar said. "We need to know who it is that we're confirming to this lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court."
Boy, it didn't take very long at all for good ole, well-grounded, level-headed Ken Salazar to adopt a strong sense of Senatorial privilege.
|Harriet Miers and Sun Tzu|
Over the last two-and-a-half days I have had a great deal of time (some of it while sitting in a dentist's chair) to consider the Harriet Miers nomination. And, after some time, I think I have an idea what the President was thinking.
Then, achieving victory in every battle is not absolute perfection: neutralizing an adversary's forces without battle is absolute perfection.
--The Art of War
I sense, in much of the conservative criticism of the Miers nomination, a distinct disappointment at not getting to fight a battle. And, to a degree, I understand that inclination: a very public debate over the role of the Court in American life is long overdue, and is very likely one which conservatives could win with the American people. But that also seems like it could easily turn into a Sisyphaean adventure: the argument would never get a fair representation in the media, the other side would capitalize to raise money and the stakes for 2006, and conservatives' inevitable befuddlement before the intellectual heft of Chris Mathews and Tim Russert would distract from the real debate. Not to mention that the person who should be leading just such a debate is, well, perhaps, not our most articulate spokesperson.
On the other hand, I give the President a great deal of credit due to his track record on judicial nominations, a function of his office for which Harriet Miers was intimately involved. I suspect he knows very well what her view of the world and of the Court is, and he nominated a person who he thought could carry his legacy for twenty years.
And, given that Harry Reid put her on his own short list, and that she meets the criteria of possessing a uterus and a functioning cardiovascular system, I would say that it will be very difficult for Democrats to mount a tremendously credible offensive against her. In fact, the very fact of conservative opposition might make this the shrewdest move of the second term so far--the "vast middle" of the American electorate can look at such opposition and see in her a person that could mitigate the great fears of a RightWing takeover (I'm not talking for myself here--I'm simply pointing to the obvious politics).
In the end, the President may get through most important battles number two and three (after the GWOT) of his entire administration without drawing blood; in effect, neutralizing his enemies without battle.
I will admit to wanting to know more about Meirs before giving full-throated support, but nothing I've heard so far gives me pause. And if she goes to the Court and votes as I would expect this President's nominee to vote, then this would be a great victory for the President.
Perhaps, even, a perfect victory.
|Too Tired To Blog . . . .|
much. Guess I need more than just three hours of sleep. Not that that's stopped me before . . .
BUT, as to the main news of the day:
Color me unimpressed. Cautiously optimistic, but unimpressed.
|Adding Insult to Injury|
My sister alerted me to this story . . .
If this sort of thing is true, systemic, and widespread, it is the sort of thing that should cost companies HUGE amounts of public relations points, which should translate into HUGE losses in the corporate bank account.
Many South Mississippi homeowners devastated by Katrina put a human face on the "wind vs. water" insurance issue for a small group of lawmakers Monday, with sometimes tearful testimony.
"If they are going to tell you you are covered, and that you don't need additional coverage, then they should be responsible," said Kathryn Stone of Pascagoula.
Stone, joined by husband Leon and their son and daughter-in-law, who also testified Monday, were among thousands of South Mississippi homeowners who didn't have separate flood insurance.
They are being told their homeowners' policies won't cover damage from Katrina's waters because of flood exclusions. . . .
. . .insurance companies are improperly hiding behind flood exclusions. He said many structures the companies are trying to claim were destroyed by water were obviously destroyed first by winds. He said he has videotape to prove this for at least one area of Gulfport.
Look, I'm as much a pro-business guy as you'll find. Generally, I'm convinced that as soon as a legislature gets involved in "solving" a problem, you can be pretty sure it's gonna get worse.
But for insurance companies to try to fall back on the idea that "flooding" does not include uh . . .flooding . . . because the source was a hurricane rather than a river overflowing, is pretty thin, pretty crappy, and pretty much calls for some sort of government intervention.
|THIS Is What We Mean By "Judicial Activism"|
Justice Stephen Breyer was on This Week with George Stephanopoulis this morning, and, though I normally don't watch the show, this seemed like a pretty relevant week to have a Supreme Court Justice discussing his judicial philosophy in the context of his book "Active Liberty". And this was a rather illuminating interview (no transcript available--to my knowledge at this time).
I think the basic premise that Breyer operates under is that he--and he believes all judges--should operate under a system where they look back to the original intent of the framers of the Constitution, and look towards the consequences of their decisions, and try to make the two meet. He does, however, in a number of instances in the interview say "not all cases, but some" or similar caveats. He believes that looking at it in those terms removes a lot of subjectivity from the process.
Which, of course, begs the question: well, who decides which cases? You? Doesn't that automatically re-introduce subjectivity?
But more importantly, how can we exactly know the intent of the Framers, if not by reading the plain text of the document? And how can we know or foresee all the consequences of a decision? Surely nobody foresaw all the 527s that flowed out of the campaign finance law decision; if they had, they would have laughed at the folly of the law. And how about the ongoing creation of consequences flowing from Roe? It's hard to believe that 30 years ago the judges would have thought that privacy would suddnly come to cover all acts between consenting adults in their own homes, as it now does under Lawrence.
So, even though he dismisses his critics, one of whom Steph mentioned as bringing up "judicial mysticism," clearly his philosophy embraces a type of mysticism, in that he pretends to be able to see into the future.
In light of hearing this articulated philosophy, I am even more convinced that the President NEEDS to appoint a strong, originalist, conservative to the Bench.
NOTES: RedState is saying it will be Judge Karen Williams; ConfirmThem has it as either Judge Williams or Judge Michael Luttig. That probably means don't count on either of them getting the nod. Either way, keep your eyes and ears open tomorrow--I'm thinking this happens early in the day and touches off a massive media frenzy. This could get fun.