Saturday, November 09, 2002

Ranting Screeds has been (passive voice again, rats) named Blog-of-the-Week by StrategyPage. This is a great honor. At least I am greatly honored, as I have the utmost respect for the work of the folks at StrategyPage.

It probably has something to do with this post. (Though it's also the aniversary of the death of Constantine VII Porphyrogenitos Makedonion. Btw, if anyone knows where I can get a copy of this book in good condition at a reasonable price, please let me know).

Speaking of StrategyPage, and of China, they have a incisive article on the evolving situation in China and the resulting state of their military.

Friday, November 08, 2002

Pictures Worth a Thousand words.
Martin Frost has withdrawn and tossed his support to Pelosi, future Congressional Minority Leader for Life.

Meanwhile, the 7th CD in Colorado is still too close to call.
Harold Ford joins the race for Minority Leader saying they need new (younger) leadership. Unclear from this report what sort of policy direction he would emphasize. In the past he's been called a moderate, but that's relative to the rest of the CBC.

He and Frost are likely to split the "anyone but Pelosi" vote. Thus, he's likely doomed to be ground under the wheels of the Pelosi juggernaut anyhow, just like Frost. But, again, worthy effort.

Upon Further Review: Ford will probably end up as Minority Whip after cutting a deal with Pelosi.
War Crimes Fears for British troops.

France has insured that the French are exempted from key ICC provisions for no less than seven years.

Also, this "judge, jury, and executioner" thing is getting annoying. It's either war or it's not. It's war, these are the enemy and are treated as such.
The EU Has strung Turkey along for years, setting terms for their admission to the EU, which the Turks have then initiated efforts to bring themselves into compliance with. The Turks have been eager to join and thus have taken steps to do what the EU has demanded. But no matter. They mustn't be let in according to a Frenchman.

These are the people who are always telling us how we should treat Moslems, but that is a very big factor in his list of reasons why Turkey shouldn't be admitted to the EU.

Now, don't get me wrong - I can't for the life of me understand why Turkey, or any other country, would want to join the EU. But they do, the EU has strung them along (and no doubt will continue to do so, papering over these comments but essentially making them policy while pretending otherwise).

What I really think should happen is America should give Turkey a trade deal at least as good as the one we gave Jordan, and Turkey should tell the EU to stuff it with their condescensions.
Self Determination in the EU: the vast majority of Gibraltarians voted to keep their political situation as it is, and refuse Spanish claims - which are hypocritical considering their insistence upon control of Ceutia in the face of Moroccan demands that are fundamentally identical to theirs on Gibraltar. But the will of the people is irrelevant.
UN Resolution Passes unanimously. Syria was expected to abstain, but voted for it.

This is a victory for Bush but somewhat of a defeat for me - not because the resolution ties us down (it doesn't), but because it serves to perpetuate the idea that the UN is some sort of guiding body towards which we owe deference (when, in point of fact, the reason the Resolution was passed in spite of continuing anxiety over the language from France and Russia is precisely because, after Congress voted and after our elections last Tuesday, the other countries knew we didn't have to genuflect any further. So they gave up the game).

One other reason why it represents a defeat is because Iraq may just pretend to agree, and then the charade of inspections will have to go on for however long - conducted by the same people who were caught completely by surprise when North Korea said they had an ongoing nuclear program.
The Emerging Democratic minority, by Michael Lind:
Today's Democratic party coalesced in 1972, during the anti-Vietnam war presidential campaign of George McGovern. The McGovern Democrats replaced the Roosevelt Democrats, a different party with the same name led by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey. The Roosevelt Democrats were a coalition of urban industrial workers, rural populists and suburban progressives, with strong support in the south and west. The McGovern Democrats are an urban party of the north east and the west coast, uniting urban blacks and Latino immigrants and their children with affluent white social liberals.

The McGovern party began to die the moment it was born. . .

the Democrats are stuck in the past. While a number of Democrats have tried to identify themselves with the technology revolution, all too many have tried to save obsolete rust-belt industrial jobs by means of protectionism that imposes costs on most American consumers. Democrats reflexively attack any proposals to modernise mid-20th-century social insurance programmes such as Social Security and Medicare. In the realm of civil rights, Democrats continue to treat American society as though it were still rigidly divided between black and white - even though the mixed-race population is exploding and Latinos will soon outnumber blacks.
The Democrats certainly seem headed for indulging their Left, which is an intellectual fringe in the country as a whole. As a wise man said recently, the Republicans try to run away from their fringe, while the Democrats fringe runs the party. Hello Minority-Leader-for-Life Nancy Pelosi.
This Guy may not be as bad as I originally feared. Time will tell, but this is a good sign.
The Grandmother of All MST3Kings, Norwegian Blogger's cutting commentary on GreenWar Terrorism.

I've only just started reading it (it's Looong - not a bad thing, but takes time). Certainly a subject that needs more attention. My Congressman, Scott McInnis, is one of the few who's been willing to conduct a government (Congressional) probe into the terroristic activities and connections of environmentalists, which of course has drawn nothing but contempt and outrage from the sorts of people who were desperately hoping that the DC sniper could be connected to skinhead militia movements.
Orwellian Iraq: PBS's Frontline World had a good segment on Iraq. If you missed it, check out the website resources on their investigative reporting in Iraq.
Some Advice For Britain's Royal Family.
Great News in China - but when will they start protecting intellectual rights (freedom of speech, concience, etc)? How about territorial rights (Tibet)? Personal rights? Political rights? When they get done "improving the legal system to protect private property", they can work on protecting other legal rights, too. Or why wait? Start now and work on it all comprehensively?

Yah, aint gonna happen. But I long for the day when it will. Look, Taiwan and China started out at basically the same point 50+ years ago. Taiwan has managed to move ahead by leaps and bounds on all these fronts. There's no reason why China should extend certain rights and withhold others - except for the desire of the Communist Party to retain control.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Steven Den Beste has laid out some arguments about the nature of information evaluation in a dictatorship, such as that of the Ba'ath National Socialist regime of Iraq. I agree with it - he's substantially right about how dictators surrounded by yes-men make flawed calculations.

I think he left out one other possible scenario that Saddam could believe. Lots of people seem to believe it - not just those living in a dictatorship.

I think he believes that if his army can hold out long enough and appear to be bravely fighting while the U.S. and Britain beats up on an Arab country, and if he can beam out enough images of
    1) heroic Iraqis standing up against great odds fighting the infidel.


    2) the plight of Iraqi's suffering as a result of "American atrocities", causing widespread sympathy in the Arab world.
Then the "Arab street" will really rise up on Iraq's behalf, overthrow their governments, hound the Americans out of their bases nearby (from which our campaign will be conducted), and he'll win a stunning reversal and get everything he wants - become the leader of the Arab world (as all these revolutionaries line up behind him and put him in charge of the longed-for United Arab Ba'athist Republic).

Thus, he may not believe he has to defeat our forces, military vs. military: the Iraqi military must just hold out for a sufficient time until a revolution on his behalf in the Arab world pushes down their governments, results in us losing our bases nearby, and routs us out of the region (if he is assuming this, then he will be assuming that our combat forces, cut off from supply and support, will then be helpless and defeated).

The chance of that happening is insignificant, but I really do think he's drank the koolaide on this one - after all, so many other people who should know better (like in that AP story he commented on yesterday) spout a fairly similar scenario (though without drawing this extreme conclusion on the outcome - but coming very very close to it, and that being the logical outcome of the fear-scenario they present).

So he may not be so deluded as to believe his forces would beat the U.S.; he just has to believe they'll be able to hold out long enough for this uprising of the "Arab street" to occur.
Martin Frost launches a doomed, Quixotic, but noble campaign for the Minority Leadership position, trying to save the Democrats from themselves:
Mr Frost said on Thursday that the message was clear: "Our party must occupy the centre if we are to be successful, if we're to come back to the majority, and not move farther to the left. It's a clear choice." . .

But Mr Frost warned that moving the party to the left would leave the Republicans in power permanently.

"The battleground seats in this country are in swing, marginal, moderate and conservative areas," he said. "And if we want to write off all those seats. . . we will be a permanent minority party."

The two contenders differ most sharply on foreign policy. On economic policy, both voted against the $1,300bn Republican tax cut last year, and both opposed giving President George W. Bush authority to negotiate new trade agreements. Mr Frost said on Thursday he would like to see portions of the Bush tax cut rolled back.

But on foreign policy, Mr Frost voted in favour of giving the president authority to go to war with Iraq, while Ms Pelosi was with the majority of House Democrats in opposing the measure.
He will, of course, be crushingly defeated by Pelosi. But at least he will have done his best and not sat on his hands or said nothing.
Economic News will improve greatly next year if this story on the sea-change the elections will have on telecommunications regulations is accurate:
Mr McCain has never been as strong a backer of Bell deregulation as his republican House counterpart, Billy Tauzin, but Capitol Hill observers said the removal of Mr Hollings should help Tauzin-backed legislation that would strip back rules regulating the way Bells sell high-speed internet services. Mr Hollings has been a champion of start-ups that have tried to make the industry more competitive.
This will help reverse the downturn in the tech sector and bring it back to health. There's also this, which is welcome news as well:
White House economists are also working on a package of cuts including reducing the taxation on share dividends.
It was Clinton-era tax policy that helped create the climate where a) shareholders were not as vigilant as they should have been and b) CEOs pumped the stock, because that was the main way people got value (since dividends were snuffed out as a factor).
Productivity News continues to be excellent. We're set for at least 3% productivity growth this year. If the fourth quarter's numbers are anything like what we've had so far, it'll be higher.
Emblematic of the Deep-Seated Problems of the Democrats, they had two sorts of choices on how to react to the election results. To make it short and pithy, they could either understand that the image the Bonior-McDermott faction cut was costing them, or they could decide Gephardt's attempts to reposition the Democrats and overcome crap like that by actually working with Bush on the Iraq resolution was to blame.

In their reaction, it's clear they blame Gephardt, and the idea that the Boniors, McDermotts, and Pelosis of the party were what turned off voters isn't part of their mental picture.

Of course, more happened than just that. But it's emblematic of the underlaying problems the Democratic party has. Rumor is now that Landrieu will change her entire election strategy now: where before she tried to portray herself as just as strong on these things as Bush and willing to cooperate, now she will run on the opposite - sharpen the differences and move to the Left. Where she had previously positioned herself as a moderate Democrat, she will now be a Pelosi Democrat.

Again, good luck with that. Senator Tullis has a nice ring to it anyhow.

Leaving behind the substance for a moment, the tactic of doing a near 180 will likely leave voters questioning her sincerity. But since the real Mary Landrieu would have stood up, I can't fault that.
Choose-Your-Florida-Contest did anyone have this one? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller? No one saw that one comming?

Didn't think so.
The Left's Dissembling About the Plight of the Iraqi People doesn't please Norah Vincent:
There is an admirably principled stand to be taken against the sometimes bellicose Bush administration's justifications for war in Iraq, especially when it concerns the fate of already imperiled civilians. But in keeping with its habitual anti-establishment posturing, the left has placed the blame for the alleged atrocities against the Iraqi people almost exclusively on the U.S. rather than on the party most directly responsible for them, Hussein.

This has put the left in the odd position of bewailing crimes committed against the Iraqi people while at the same time doing everything in its power to oppose the only means -- violence -- of toppling the very perpetrator of these crimes.
It's not an accident, or an innovation, that the Left is defending the National Socialist Ba'athist regime. Considering who the vanguard of the anti-war movement is, it's not a shocker to see them interested in spreading the propaganda and point of view of a totalitarian dictatorship and blaming everything on the west in general and America in particular.
Appeasement, though, far from ensuring peace, would subject Iraqis to yet more violence, subjugation and deprivation at the hands of their kleptocratic leader. Diplomacy has failed. There is no bargaining with Hussein, no appealing to his better nature even on domestic issues. This is hardly surprising because he is a confessed admirer and epigone of Josef Stalin.
That last bit is instructive because so very many of the "anti-war" people today are the intellectual and ideological heirs of those who rationalized Soviet tyranny and said their misdeeds were caused by U.S. policy.

In all to many cases, they're not even the "heirs", they're the very same people.
David Broder admits that Bush can no longer be called an "accidental" President:
the support he won by his sterling performance after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has endured, and he showed on Tuesday that he could convert that popularity into votes for his fellow partisans. That is the most powerful leadership tool any president can possess.
The Cult of Multilateralism by Daniel Mitchell, in the Washington Times:
But this is not just a matter of self-interest. Having just spent two of the last three weeks in Europe, I believe Europeans have adopted an almost cultlike worship of multilateralism. To Europe's bureaucratic elite, a policy is automatically correct if it is the product of international discussions, especially if the negotiations take place under the auspices of an international organization.
Because of this multilateralist mindset, there is almost no effort to defend or justify policies that result from international discussions.
Indeed, those who try to discuss whether these policies are desirable are treated as heretics because the European elites interpret open debate as an attack on the sacred process of multilateralism.
When I used to refer to "MultiCultists", it was in reference to something else (but part of the same sort of ideological outlook - both happen to be fetishes of "Transnational Progressivism"), but this fits, too, and the adherents aren't all European. Many Americans have the same attutide.
Meanwhile, Richard Cohen sulikly blames 30 second ads.
New York Post Post-Election Roundup Dick Morris eats a piping hot plate of crow. He also hits on what the Mondale candidacy meant for many:
Looking like an aging member of Brezhnev's Politburo, he seemed the ghost of liberalism past as he emerged as his party's best-known Senate candidate. His very appearance told one volumes about the Democratic Party's embrace of his tax-and-spend past. The repositioning of the '90s vanished in a nod of his gray head and, like twice-cooked pork in a Chinese restaurant, he led his party to a second defeat.
E.J. Dionne says the Dems' defeat is a debacle:
The result is an electoral catastrophe, worse for Democrats than the 1994 Republican sweep. Then, at least, Democrats held the White House and could shape the political argument. Now, they have no power centers, no obvious leader.
He urges the Democrats to indulge themselves in full-throated Leftism:
Most Democrats - centrists as well as liberals - believe that the Bush tax cuts are a disaster not only because they threaten fiscal chaos, but also because they will deprive the government of revenues needed to solve problems. But too many Democrats were afraid to say that.

Most Democrats fear the impact of courts packed by right-wing judges. But too many Democrats were afraid to say that.

Most Democrats believe that government regulation - to protect the environment and to curb business abuses - can be a good thing. But too many Democrats were afraid to say that.

Most Democrats worry that a divided Bush foreign-policy team will mismanage a war on Iraq and needlessly alienate our allies. But too many Democrats were afraid to say that.
Go Ahead. Make Reagan's Day. Meanwhile, Andrea Peyser is far closer to explaining why Democrats like her voted Republican
IT'S a bit like falling out of love.

On paper, I look like a Democrat. I'm pro-choice on abortion. I detest guns. I'm also an enrolled Democrat, and don't intend to switch parties anytime soon.

But on Tuesday morning, I waltzed into the voting booth in my left-leaning corner of the People's Republic of Brooklyn, and performed an act of once-unthinkable infidelity - one that gets ever-easier with each repetition:

I pulled the lever under the Republican line. And I cast my vote for George Pataki.

My, that felt good.
There's a nice big picture accompanying her column. Not of any candidate, but of someone who played a big but under-reported factor in the election.
CNN, which of all the news channels, gave the most credibility to the charade elections in Iraq, called Republican election victories a "coup d'etat". (link via Andrew Sullivan. Sullivan also makes a good point about running Simon instead of Riordan. In the White House's defense, Ari Fleisher backed Riordan in the primary, but the California Republicans prefered Simon and got what they wanted. Point is, the national party isn't to blame for the continuing self-destruction of California Republicans. Yes, Riordan is a liberal Republican, but he's not horrible, and he'd have been better than Grey-Out Davis. The Cali Republicans got the candidate they wanted and all of California got stuck with a Governor that no one really wanted as a result).
The Infighting and Finger Pointing are already heating up. James Carville, of course, loves this "eat our own young" behavior:
"I kind of enjoy the second-guessing and recriminations and finger-pointing," says James Carville, the former Clinton strategist. . ."Yes, I will engage in the petty carping and sniping. I'll jump out there with the best of those sniping."
Good. Keep up the bad work!

When are the Dems going to give this character the hook? Or, better yet, bang the gong? He - and the cloud of minions associated with him - isn't helping them.

On a tangentially related front, see this Eric Raymond piece on what has become of the Democratic party.
UN Hokey-Pokey: France wants to continue to pussy-foot around:
Jacques Chirac and Vladimir Putin called for the removal from the draft of "ambiguities" on the automatic use of force.
They want it to be unambiguous that if Saddam does not comply, nothing will happen (except we'll return to the UN for another round of obstructionism).

However, they're not going to get their way - this is it, take it or leave it stage. Finally.
Douglas (R - Challenger) Wins Vermont Governor Race, Racine concedes.
The European Central Bank decided not to cut interest rates.

That might be fine. The EU's problems aren't going to be solved by monetary policy (the introduction of the Euro helped prove that). They're regulatory and tax related.

In related news, the unemployable rate in Schroeder's Germany continues to go up.

Yes, I said "unemployable".
Total Election Tally:
    GOP 52.2, Dem 47.8 (UPI figures.which are a little "clean", because there's votes for other party's out there, which they ignored. Also, the headline writer commited basic rounding error, but then journalists are notoriously bad at math).

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Rumors Have Been Going Around all day that Dick Gephardt is going to step down as Democrat Minority Leader, and it's confirmed.

Of all the top level Dems, he's the only one that showed any spina at all - not that he's great. But he was not as bad as the others.

This will likely make Nancy Pelosi the Democrat's Minority Leader in the House. That will mean the Democrats will indulge their Left again before they start soul-searching and wondering why it is they failed to attract support. Senate Democrats will also likely veer Left.

As the Democrats allow themselves to be driven Left to indulge their base, the problem that DNC "New Democrats" supposedly fixed will re-emerge. This will also create openings for the Republicans - no guarantee that the Republicans will properly seize the opportunities this will create, but it certainly opens the door.

For example, I never thought there was ever much of a chance that Zell Miller would switch parties. But after what happened in Georgia last night to some fairly popular Georgia Democrats, alongside with what's going to happen with the very Democrats Zell has the least affinity for calling the shots in their Caucus even more now, I think there's a chance he will switch (don't get me wrong, I still put the odds at no better than 5:1, but I thought they were close to zero before, in spite of all the wishful thinking/speculation on the subject from various others).

I also think the Democrats are willfully learning the wrong lesson from the election results: they figure if they polarize further to the Left, they'll stir up the electorate on their behalf. I'm not sure that is a smart conclusion to draw.

Sure, that'll invigorate their base some, and appeal to the fringe. But for every two votes they attract in that manner, they'll probably turn off three others.

All I can say is "good luck with that", and realize that it'll be a bit longer before the Democrats (re)start the ideological re-evaluation that I think is needed before they'll be able to appeal to voters like me again.
UPI Has a Roundup of European "diplomats" whinning over the election results and what it means for their efforts to put a bit in America's mouth and place themselves in the saddle while we carry them at their direction. (Btw, how come European "diplomats" never have to be diplomatic, and no one expects them to be? They can be as snide, sarcastic, pouty, and generally adolescent in their remarks as they want to be, and that, too, is America's fault, while our guys are expected to be careful and conscious of how every word they say will be interpreted by others. Oh, wait. I know why. It's because we are the world's grown-ups, and the EU nations, the continental ones at least, are petulant, surly, sulky adolecents from whom no one, least of all their defenders and champions in this country, expect any better).


Likewise, all those people who were instructing us to take lessons from election results in Europe and what it meant about attitudes towards America there - well, I never bought that argument, the argument that we should be all chagrined and apologetic after seeing how elections in, say, Germany turn out, and become properly deferential. But since they loved that argument so much (after all, they made it), they get to eat it in reverse now. That argument cuts both ways, if it cuts at all, and "Europe can stuff it" is the lesson they, using their own logic, must take from the election results here.

But I suspect such people, the ones who insist we must be so introspective about election results in Europe and what it means about America's role in the world, will rationalize things away when it comes to what our election results say about their policies.
I Almost Forgot: Blogosphere favorite, Denise Majette (D - GA), slayer of Cynthia, was officially elected to Congress in Georgia.

That isn't a surprise at all, but it's still nice.
The News Just Keeps Getting Bettercut interest rates by 50 basis points (that's half a percent). It's about time.
Bush Reaching Out To Democrats already. The last time he offered his hand they gnawed it off, but we'll see what happens this time. Can't hurt but try, and some Democrats will be open to cooperating with the President, at least on some issues, and will want to reciprocate the "new tone" this time.
In Florida, swarms of observers found no problems worthy of note. On the other hand, some of what is legal is disturbing.
San Francisco citizens are tired of how their city indulges the homeless:
The win for Proposition N and failure of Proposition O come during a time when San Francisco voters are flush with frustration about the city's intractable homeless population and its potential impact on the tourist industry.
Happy Fun Pundit on voting:
Krugman and other 'get out the vote' types go wrong. They think voting itself has intrinsic value. Whereas I think voting only has value if it is the end product of careful, considered thought. I don't WANT last-minute voters who are swayed by an op-ed on Election Day. They don't add information to democracy - they mask the information in noise.

Democracy is not a religion that requires ritualistic voting to maintain itself. It is a system of government that requires informed, public-minded citizens to study issues and make their preferences known through many mechanisms, including the vote.
I used to be one of those people who would go around harassing his friends and co-workers into voting. Even when someone came back at me and said they haven't followed the races much and didn't know the issues, I encouraged them to go in and pull the lever anyhow (that was back when there were levers).

I stopped doing that some years ago because I decided that if people didn't care enough to follow the campaign and bring themselves up to speed, they shouldn't be bothered into voting (essentially randomly or based entirely on biases and preconceptions). I also stopped voting in certain races - I'd vote in the races where I knew what was going on and could make a good decision, but for some, where I had neglected to make myself know the differences between the candidates, I just wouldn't vote in those offices. I feel much better about that than I did when I had a sort of guilty feeling every time I picked a someone when I had barely even known the names of the candidates, much less what they would do when elected.

It's also disciplined me a bit as a voter - I work a little harder now so I'll be able to make a informed choice.

(HFP also reports that Hubert Humphrey was considering a run for Senate. Actually I think he'll join Hartpence in running for the Democratic nomination for President. After all, look at the rest of the field, as Hart did, and it's wide open. Especially since the Democrats have devoted a lot more effort recently to insuring that the Corpse Community is included in both candidates and get-out-the-vote efforts. Candidates from the corpse community outperformed other Democratic candidates last night: Mink won a Congressional seat in Hawai'i, and Lautenberg was elected to the Senate in New Jersey, illustrating the greater appeal such candidates have with the electorate compared to other Democrats. This is a part of their base that they need to win big if they're to have any hope of recapturing the White House in '04, so Humphrey's chances of getting the nomination will have to be considered very good).
Mondale Has conceded in MN.
Prostitutes are Protesting in - where else - France:
prostitutes protested against politicians who, according to several banners, "sleep with us and then vote against us"
Johnston (D - Incumbent) Wins in South Dakota in a race that came down to the wire. Only a few hundred votes separate them, so there may be a recount (I don't know if SD has a mandatory recount provision or not), but it probably won't change the results.
Why The Democrats Deserved to Lose, encapsulated by Mario Cuomo:
We need to work as we have never done before between now and November 5th to take the Congress back from Newt Gingrich and the Republicans, because ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, the Republicans are the real threat.
(speech at the Democratic Party Convention, 1996, as bin Ladin was escalating his war against America).
When I Heard the French "Approved" of It, I was downcast and expected the worst. But it seems the latest version of a UN resolution the U.S. has put forward doesn't give away the store. It seems we haven't blinked in the face of French intimidation and bullying after all.

I mean, sheesh, after all, the only sort of person who would have knuckled under are those without any self-confidence and backbone in the first place, who let themselves get dictated to when their is no need for them to submit.
Nat Hentoff on Sudanese Genocide, an under reported story, his article from the Village Voice re-published at Frontpagemag:
Since 1983, over 2 million black, non-Muslim civilians have died during the civil war in Sudan. Blacks in the south of the country have been fighting for self-determination and to end the enslavement of women and children, ethnic cleansing, aerial bombardment of schools and churches, and the creation of famine conditions—all of this by the National Islamic Front government of the north.
Personally, at this point I favor separation of the southern part of the country from the Sudan and creation of a new nation there.
Somewhere, Jim Jeffords Just Realized he became the loneliest man in the Senate last night.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, Linc is thinking "boy, I'm glad I'm not Jim Jeffords".
Exit Polls: I join those who didn't miss them. I liked it better without them.
CNN Calls MN for Coleman (R - Open Seat). A pickup for Republicans.
AP Reports on Republican gains in House.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Patsy Mink (D - DBD) Re-Elected to Congress in Hawai'i. Mink, of course, died several weeks ago.
Talent (R - Challenger) Wins Missouri


I wonder how long Frank Lautenberg will stay in the Senate if he's a member of the minority. Days? Weeks?
Pawlenty (R) Wins Minn. Governorship, pickup for Republicans (office formerly held by The Body).
Looks Like State Senator Jim Isgar (D) is winning re-election in spite of my vote for his opponent.

I can't really say I'm unhappy with that.
Well, I'm Not Surprised, but I am disappointed. Ron Greer lost bigtime to Tammy Baldwin (see all Wisconsin races here).
Cornyn (R - Open Seat) Wins in Texas a hold for Republicans (Gramm, R - TX, retiring).
Perdue (R - Challenger) Wins Governor Race In Georgia in another Georgia upset. Perdue will be the Republican Governor of Georgia.

Dumb-Dumb WINS! Re-Election in Colorado.

So I was incorrect in my earlier call of this race.

Ranting Screeds' endorsement was clearly a factor in this race.

Yah, right
One Thing I Won't Miss are the political ads that filled the airways. I'd hate to be in Louisiana right now, they're going to have to endure a multiplicity of horrible political ads for another month.
Trends Indicate Small Net Gain for Republicans In House of Representatives, in major reversal of normal mid-term history.
Carcieri (R) Wins Rhode Island Governor's Race in a significant upset. But

Democrats Defeat Morella (R - Incumbent) in Maryland Congressional Race, also an upset of sorts.
Wayne Allard - Tom Strickland (Colorado Senate) I may have called that race too soon.

I move it back into the "too close to call" column.
Ehrlich (R - Open) Wins Maryland Governor's Race beating demogogy on guns.
Romney (R - Open Seat) Wins Mass. Governor's Race, crushes Feminist-based demogogy that I really thought would whip the peons into line for the Democrats. Seems to have backfired, even in a Liberal mecca.
An Unscripted Linda Veser, of FoxNews, is kind of a babbler.

Not that we at Ranting Screeds can throw stones at babblers.
Arkansas Supreme Court Has Nixed Dem Efforts to Subvert Law, in a replay of Missouri two years ago, polls were still illegally kept open for almost an hour beyond the deadline ina heavily Democratic County.

Pryor (D - Challenger) Wins Arkansas, handily enough that the crap the Democrat Party engaged in on his behalf was moot. But they couldn't help themselves.
Terrrence McAuliffe, Democratic Party Chairman and Clinton Bagman, likely to be disappeared.

Underperformance by Democrats will lead to search for a scapegoat, he'll be fingered and put at the head of the proscription list.
Graham (R - Open Seat) Wins South Carolina. No change here.
Latest UN Resolution Proposal is to be put forward by the U.S. Wednesday. Said to have gained French approval. Well, isn't that very nice. Wonder if that means it will be worthless.
Hutchinson (R - Open Manhole) Projected by Ranting Screeds to Lose in Arkansas: Dem efforts to keep polls open in heavily Democratic counties are insurance for his defeat, but he was going down and going down ha'd anyhow (a little Al Davis lingo there).
Sununu (R - Open Seat) wins New Hampshire (retention for Republicans. Smith, R, given Royal Order of the Boot in primary).
Lamar! (R - Open Seat) Wins in TN (retention for Republicans; Thompson, R, promoted to Law & Order show, filling the office formerly held by Steven Hill (D, Manhattan County), so that's a pickup for the Republicans).
Katherine Harris Elected to Congress in Florida.
Harvey Pitt Resigns as from the SEC. Seems to be a move to bury news of it amid reports of election results on Wednesday.
Chambliss (R - Challenger) Wins Georgia. Republican Gain.
Strickland (D, Challenger) Wins Colorado

Hey, I tried my best, but not even the support of Ranting Screeds could overcome Senator Dullard's lacklusterness. The Senate certainly needs more wealthy Democrat lawyers anyhow.
Talent (R, Challenger) Wins Missouri
Dole (R, Open Seat) Wins in North Carolina. Retention for Republicans (Helms, R, retiring).
Arkansas Race: Democrat almost a gimmie to defeat Hutchinson (R, Dead Man Walking), but State Democrat Chairman went to a Democratic Judge to keep polls open in predominantly Democratic counties beyond the legal deadline.

If they had to resort to this, things must not have been going quite as well for them as they hoped.
Jeb Bush (R, Incumbent) Wins Florida

Frank Lautenberg (D, Cadaver) Wins New Jersey
Bushism of the Day: "Registered dead people can't put a sticker on their car!" - Perfect.
Interesting Article In the Guardian, of all places, today, on Bush:
On the evidence of Campaign 2002, Bush's critics need to brace themselves. What follows may not be comfortable reading. . .

But Bush's 35-minute address, a tweaked variation on the standard stump speech he's been giving across the country, gives a clue as to why Dubya is still enjoying approval ratings healthily above 60%.

For one thing, he delivers it well. It's a surprise, given the satirists' depiction of him as a linguistically challenged dunce, to see him speak fluently and without so much as a glance at any notes. And hearing him at length is different from seeing a soundbite on the news. It will break liberal hearts to admit it, but he's good.

In marked contrast to his dad, who always came across as an East Coast aristocrat, Junior has mastered the common touch. . .

What emerges is a picture of a president with a deep inner confidence. He's no intellectual; on that everyone agrees. (One senior Democrat laments that the office of presidency is wasted on a person so lacking in the "curiosity" to really enjoy it.)
But then Democrats always say that about any President that isn't a Democrat.
But once he has "internalised" a subject, says one close-up observer, he can speak from the heart about it. . .

Painful as it is for Democrats to admit, they face a president who has many of the qualities the job demands. He inspires loyalty: the Washington press corps complain that this is the least leaky White House anyone can remember. He is resolute, in a way that makes his lack of curiosity an asset: he is not tortured by seeing all sides of an argument. His back-slapping, frat-boy image does not convey it, but he also has some steel: not for nothing was he his father's "enforcer", on one occasion breaking the news to his dad's scandal-plagued chief-of-staff that his time had run out. . .

As he ends his speech predicting that incredible good will come from the evil of 9/11, asking, of course, that God Bless America, your thoughts can't help but turn to Ronald Reagan. Many Brits and Europeans thought him a clown, a bozo too dumb to lead a dog, let alone the free world. Yet somehow he was re-elected in a landslide and is still loved and revered by his countrymen.
You can add people like Dowd to the "Brits and Europeans" mentioned here. Speaking of which, in another bizzare twist, Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist, had a column today that seemed aimed directly at New York Times regime of Raines:
Traditionally in England, for example, conservatives found their views reflected each morning in The Telegraph, while Liberals read The Guardian for evidence of their own sagacity. Each side was convinced the other was not just wrong, but mad and immoral.

England has reduced that polarization recently, just as the U.S. seems to be trying to replicate it.
And this section seems to be aimed directly at New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd:
Then there's Iraq. I'm afraid that President Bush is making a historic mistake by pushing obsessively to invade that country. But it doesn't follow that he's necessarily stupid or venal.

One can disagree with the calls for war, as I do, but liberals discredit themselves when they claim that the only reasons Mr. Bush could be planning an invasion are finishing Daddy's work, helping his oil buddies or diverting voter's from corporate scandals. If we're to convince Americans of the perils of invasion, it'll be by citing arguments rather than epithets.

More broadly, the tendency of liberals to underestimate Mr. Bush as a nitwit boy king helped put him in the White House.
"Nitwit boy king"? Definately a riptose aimed at Dowd's polemics.
The SEC is Doing Such a Bad Job, they've expanded their charges against Worldcom as a result of their investigation.
Voter News Service had major troubles in '00. They said they fixed them. But if this was the WWF, the audience would be chanting "You Fucked Up" now.
Fareed Zakaria doesn't like our support for how the Russians are handling the Chechen - Saud - al-Queda Terrorist campaign.

The history he goes into is all fine, as far as it goes. But when he says this:
After two bloody years Moscow was unable to win and signed a peace treaty with the Chechens. In 1999 Russia reinvaded Chechnya, and since then it has had 100,000 troops in this republic, the size of Vermont.
he elides over and omits from the account the reason why the Russians re-invaded: the Chechen terrorists had continued their attacks on Russians during the "peace" period. This is akin to saying "after several years of peace negotiations, the Israelis once again invaded the West Bank" - leaving out all the actions that led up to it.

Now, one can disagree with the actions the Russians took in response, just as one can disagree with Israel, but leaving out significant information in this way is the action of a propagandist, something I never thought I'd associate with Zakaria. This is below his usual standards.

Similarly, on the actual actions of the Russians with respect to the Moscow theater hostage situation, the solution was a bad one but it was arguably the least bad alternative available. While the Bush administration has stated their support for what the Russians did there, I don't think they've come out in support of every action the Russians have taken in their war - a civil war (or rebellion) against the Chechen separatists, as Zakaria's article implies. Zakaria is right that there's no "moral clarity" there, so we've said very little publicly one way or another on it, while supporting Georgia in its efforts to dissuade the Russians from conducting incursions into Georgia.

Russia is a complex patchwork of enclaves not unlike Checnya, and if it's in everyone's interest to keep Iraq together, then I'm not sure people can make an argument that Russia should allow various "autonomous zones" to split off. Keeping Russia from fragmenting is at least as important to the "international community" as keeping Iraq from fragmenting (I'd argue more important). Is this a nod of approval to how the Russians have conducted themselves either in the current Chechen war or in the past? No. It's a nod of understanding the problem they have and that it's not exactly the easiest problem to deal with.

Zakaria is one of the few commentators that is respected by both "sides" of the debate on war and how to handle terrorism. That's why it disturbs me to see him handle this in a polemical fashion that I don't expect from him. He's usually someone who can be relied upon to take note of the nuances and the tragic nature of some circumstances. I don't think he acquitted himself well here.
We Interupt this Election Ranting and France Bashing for some other news.

NATO is still trying to figure out what it should be.
Most dramatically, the NATO heads of government could announce creation of a multi-national rapid deployment force of about 21,000 troops that would allow NATO to operate quickly and effectively against new enemies far from Europe, the area NATO was formed to protect against the Soviet Union 53 years ago. NATO members may also announce commitments to acquire new aircraft and equipment that would make this an effective force and allow it to deploy on a week's notice.
The difference boils down to a choice between what France wants NATO to be: a tool for restraining the United States and directing it to French purposes, or what the U.S. and Britain would like it to be, an actual alliance where members work together - each actually contributing something beyond criticisms of those doing the work - to joint efforts.

Well, I guess, as it turned out, this post ended up with France.
This is a Sad Day For Me. The first vote I ever cast for a Republican was in that race I mentioned below between Scott Kluge and Tammy Baldwin. As a moderate, pro-defense, pro-gun, anti-Castro (and totalitarianism generally), anti-PC Democrat, I couldn't pull the lever for Baldwin. Since then I've drifted and been pushed (it's a push me, pull you universe, you know) more and more into being a Republican and a conservative.

But I never wanted to be one of those down-the-line guys who wouldn't vote for a good person who happened to be a member of the "other party". But today, for the first time, I'm not casting a single vote for a Democratic candidate. Under normal circumstances, my State Representative, Democrat Jim Isgar, would get my vote. He's a good man, who's done a good job, and as a person he deserves my vote.

He's run ads on the radio that are spot on: look at the man, not some label. But this time I just can't do it.

It's because of the behavior of the Democratic party as a whole, which continues to get worse, not better. Things like New Jersey (this time), but not just that. That was just one expression of an unwholesome attitude towards procedural democracy and the law that I just find intolerable. What does that have to do with Jim Isgar, a local candidate and state office holder, uninvolved in such behavior? Nothing. I'm unfairly punishing him.

But as a law abiding person myself, the only way I can express my disapproval is through my (legal) vote, and such things as contributions to the other side (if and when I ever have any money). Candidates like Jim Isgar suffer. I don't think I'm alone in reacting this way.

The Democrats always wonder why, in opinion polls, people seem to side with them more on "the issues" than with Republicans, in a greater proportion than the votes they get. In other words, there's a gap between the support "their" issues have and the number of people who vote for them. This can't be accounted for solely as a result of differentials in turn out, because the same pattern appears in exit polls of actual voters - some people who support Democrat positions on issues vote Republican. The Democrats have, in the past, chalked that up to slick marketing, deluding the voters, "corrupt" money, and the like (all actually variants on the Leftist trope of "false consciousness"). But I think they have to start asking what is it about them that causes people who would otherwise vote for a Democratic candidate decide not to.

Look, their behavior in New Jersey is going to be rewarded. Lautenberg is going to win. Also, I'm not the kind of guy they'll find easy to win back in most races (my political philosophy is not the same as the dominant ideology of the Democrats), though they'd still be able to win my vote for some races. If their behavior wasn't so appalling, in my view.

Behavior that's rewarded is encouraged - so the Democrats, by succeeding in New Jersey as they've succeeded in other occasions with deplorable tactics, will be tempted to emulate that behavior. It's only when guys like Isgar, good Democrats, complain that these antics are hurting them elsewhere in the country, that they might pause and re-evaluate the behavior of the party as a whole.

But it's sad for me, because I never wanted to be one of those people who voted a straight ticket, and ignored the (lesser, but not insignificant) flaws of "my" party just so I could stick it to the other side. But that's what I feel I'm reduced to, given that the means at my disposal consist of my vote and my weblog. I'm casting my vote for Republicans and explaining why here.

I didn't even bother to mention Isgar's opponent. Also, let it be known that I'm voting for Dumb-Dumb and not Strickland, but here control of the Senate is a factor, and wresting it out of the hands of the unctuous Daschle and getting Leahy out of the Chairman's seat. I know that the Dems are likely to retain control, but I can only do what I can.
On Elections: They're going to have them in Israel.
Today is a Day Where I'll Either Talk About the Election too Much or about the French. (Link via Instapundit).

I don't think corruption in French government and business surprises anyone. Least of all the French themselves. Did I mention Vivendi?
Chrétien in Canada has France-envy. That much has been known for awhile. But it's having an effect on Canada:
But waffling has its price. The old English-speaking alliance inherited from the Second World War and the Cold War -- the United States, U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand -- is breaking in half. The U.S., U.K. and Australia now sit at the alliance's adults' table, where the decisions are made. Canada and New Zealand sit at the children's table where their noises won't disturb the grown-ups. From time to time, when the kids really yell, the adults remember to send over a cookie, as the Americans did last week.
When Chrétien finally leaves office a year and a half from now, it won't be a moment too soon.
But, In Spite of the Election, I'll still find time to mention France. I won't forget them.
Oh, and I Forgot to Mention the amusing, but futile, pretences of France yesterday. Sorry. The election's got me all wound up. This blog will try to get back to normal by the end of the week, but it depends on how many Floridas there are and how many lawsuits the swarms of tort lawyers (the Dem's #1 donor block, or perhaps #2 behind government employees unions - the State organized as a special interest may still trump the trial lawyers, but it's close) the Democrats have sent out across the land will file.
You Know, I've lived here for a good number of years now, but I guess I'm a Metic, because I still consider Madison, WI home It'd be great if Ron Greer won.

I don't think that's likely. Tammy Baldwin is the perfect embodiment of a very prominent ideological core in Madison (the most famous part). True the district was represented for some years by moderate-Conservative Republican Scott Kluge (his status as a former local news anchor gave him name recognition and an undemonic image that allowed him to overcome the area's normal tendencies), who held the seat until - shockingly - he kept his pledge to serve only three terms. Baldwin, who had been his first opponent (and may have been Kluge's opponent in all those races, though I can't remember for sure now) in a tight election then won the seat.

I just hope Greer can pull it out, but that would probably be a miracle.
Fouad Ajami Hails "American Imperium". That won't make France happy. Nor will it make the wannabe Frenchmen in America pleased, either.
Charlie Rangle and Friend have admonished Belafonte for his attacks on Colin Powell. About time. It only took 'em what, a week? More?

But at least they did it.

Monday, November 04, 2002

Tuesday's Elections: Ranting Screeds Predictions: Lots of people are making predictions about who will win the Senate, what will happen in the House, how many Governorships the Dems will pick up, and for individual Senate races. I've decided not to do that. But I will make three predictions (one gimmie and two others).

Run-Off In Louisiana will be very hyper on both sides. In the end I think that Landreau will keep the seat (why, if more than 50% of voters vote for someone else on Tuesday? Because turn up should go way up in the run-off election. Also, not quite everyone who votes for one of the other candidates will vote for whoever survives the first round to face her. Most will, but some won't).

More Than Twelve Times as many House seats than Senate seats will be decided on Tuseday, but I predict that when the dust settles, more Senate incumbents will have lost than House incumbents (discounting races where, because of redistricting, incumbent faced incumbent). I might be wrong, but I won't be wrong by much.

I've always opposed term limits, and I still do, but if incumbents keep protecting each other through things like the Political Speech Regulation Act of 2002 and incumbent-friendly partisan redistricting that effectively eliminates risk of losing, I might have to reconsider. One of the reason that far more Senate seats are "in play" than House seats is because no one can use a computer to carefully craft the boundaries of States in order to rig things in advance to guarantee the seat is "safe" for whoever (or whichever party) currently holds it.

Now, I know that term limits won't really solve that problem (it would help, marginally). So I haven't changed my mind. . .yet. But something needs to be done to prevent pols from carefully picking out clusters of voters and drawing district lines so that each party is covered and most seats are essentially taken off the table.

This isn't a partisan issue for me - I don't hide the fact that I want the Republicans to win. They currently hold the most seats (and may just pick up a few more) and thus have the most to lose by making more seats competitive. Also, my Congressman, who I plan on voting for and who I like, is someone who's in a very safe seat and has token opposition. That didn't stop him from being out on Friday campaigning, waving at passing cars. But I still think it would be better if the race was more competitive. Forcing them to draw the most compact seats possible with the "cleanest" boundaries possible (ending jigsawing the boundaries to pick out clusters of certain kinds of voters) would be a start. Personally, I've come to think that this should take precedence over insuring that districts have the same number of inhabitants. They should all have very close to the same number of inhabitants, but I think competitiveness matters more. After all, the reason for trying to get the same number of people in a district, the "one man, one vote" principle, is so that each person's vote is equally valuable. In a situation where districts are designed to be "safe", 40% of the people in that district (approximately - it's sometimes more, sometimes a little less) can't affect the outcome. That almost means no one's vote really matters - not even the votes who's candidate wins (the outcome was fore-ordained by computer, political consultants, and legislatures before a single vote was even cast).

I know that there's no such thing as perfection here; there will always be "safe seats". But things are getting absurd. The situation that caused the "Term Limits" movement to flare up in the first place, where 90% of incumbents regularly won, was bad enough. It's gotta be over 95% of incumbents who run for re-election (and haven't been put into a district with another incumbent, which is the only way some of these folks lose at all) who are going to win this time.

The Most Under-Reported Story of this election, like past elections, will continue to be election irregularities and fraud. Virtually the only places that will give this story the attention it deserves will be right-wing hate-speech sites like this one and hate radio. This is because one party really does have the lions share of the blame on this one, and it's the party that most of the press is sympathetic to and feels should win. Many also believe that anyone should vote regardless of the legality of that vote (just like many think that election laws shouldn't stand in the way if the Democrats need to discard them in order to save a Senate seat that would otherwise be won by haters), so they don't find these stories a big deal (no, they tend to find efforts to combat illegally cast votes to be the outrage). The Democrats are sending swarms of lawyers out this year to intimidate poll workers and prevent them from excluding ineligible voters, so if anything it will be worse this year than in the recent past. Few will care, except for rabid partisans such as myself.
Some Good News about Iran. I'm not going to get sucked into over-playing this, however, and making more of it than there is. I want to wait and see how things unfold further. But the trend is a welcome one.
Turkey's Elections turned out as expected, with the Justice and Development Party sweeping to power, defeating a raft of one-hand-washes-the-other coalition parties led by elderly men.

They took 360 seats out of a possible 550. Like in so many Parliamentary-style electorial systems, they did this while getting the monumental landslide share of the vote - all of 34%. Wow. People from countries with similar electiorial systems say the U.S. is bizzare. . .