Friday, November 28, 2008

LPMN Podcast Episode #2

It took some more technical doing than I had expected/hoped, but here is this week’s edition:

 

 

Among other topics, I discuss Obama’s decision to keep Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, the ignominious end of the Hamdan terrorism case, and the return of famous/infamous  “Billion-Dollar Charlie” (Harvard prof. and lawyer Charles Nesson) to the national legal scene.

This podcast runs just about 20 minutes.

By the way, as I say in the podcast I am thinking of making Friday evening the regular posting time for this.  Leave any feedback on that, the content of the podcasts so far, or topics for future podcasts in the comments below.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

LMPN Podcast #2 – This Friday

I expect to have my second effort at a podcast up this Friday night, around 9pm or so.  It will be significantly less rambling more concise and better generally than my first attempt.

Preoccupied

I’ve been caught up with some personal and professional stuff, which explains the relative dearth of recent substantive posts.  (Plus, it’s Thanksgiving week. C’mon.)  But have no fear, I’ll have some good stuff (including posts on the auto bailout controversy and November SCOTUS arguments) up within the next few days.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Importance of Failures

In case you need a reminder (and really, in this bailout and subsidy-crazed time you shouldn’t) Victor Davis Hanson has one.

A Change in D.C. That We Can Believe in

How the Democratic chancellor of Washington D.C. schools is taking on the teachers’ unions to improve that outrageously awful school system.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Judge Orders Five Alleged “Enemy Combatants” Released

Yesterday United States District Judge Richard Leon (a George W. Bush appointee) ordered the release of five Algerians who were captured in Bosnia in 2001 and transferred to Guantanamo Bay.  Judge Leon concluded that the feds can continue to hold a sixth.   Among the detainees to be freed --if the Justice Department doesn’t successfully appeal-- is Lakhdar Boumediene.  (Yes, that Boumediene).

In 2005, Judge Leon ruled that the detainees were not entitled to habeas corpus rights, but with that judgment overturned by the Supreme Court he turned to the merits of their petitions.  The evidence the Justice Department brought against the five is classified, but Judge Leon was clearly not impressed: “To allow enemy combatancy to rest on so thin a reed would be inconsistent with this court's obligation,” he said.

Bosnia has agreed to take the five if they are released, but if Justice chooses to appeal it still could be years before that happens.

This, of course, is not the first defeat in terrorism cases the government has suffered in court:  In June the D.C. Circuit ordered (under the Detainee Treatment Act, not habeas) that a detainee be given a new military hearing or released, and in August a military jury at Gitmo essentially sentenced Salim Hamdan (yes, that Hamdan) to time served.  This is the first major defeat for the government under post-Boumediene habeas inquiry, however, and we can almost certainly expect more unless the new Obama administration radically changes policy on holding people the government doesn’t actually have any substantial evidence against.  

 

Correction: Corrected “last year” to “In 2005” in the second paragraph.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Attorney General Mukasey Collapses While Speaking to Federalist Society National Lawyers Conference

Disturbing news.

Update:  Word is that he is conscious and alert at George Washington University Hospital, but no further info on the cause of his collapse.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Babes of the Right - 2009

Need a 2009 wall calendar?  Have a thing for right-wingers of the female persuasion?  The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute will hook you up:

Following in the tradition of past calendars from the Luce Policy Institute, Pretty in Mink celebrates smart, conservative women role models ... with flair.
We took some of your favorite leaders of today’s conservative movement on a journey back in time, and made them up into glamorous movie stars of classic Hollywood. Back when the big screen was a little more glamorous, women were a little more feminine, the men a little more charming—and the world a little less politically correct.

Here’s the list:

Miss January — Kellyanne Conway
Miss February — Star Parker
Miss March – Susan Phalen
Miss April – Nonie Darwish
Miss May – Mary Katharine Ham
Miss June – Michelle Malkin
Miss July – Amanda Carpenter
Miss August – Sandy Liddy Bourne
Miss September – Ann Coulter
Miss October – Kate Obenshain
Miss November – Miriam Grossman, M.D.
Miss December – Clare Boothe Luce

As the saying goes: if this is the kind of thing you’re into, you’ll be into this kind of thing.  One (a calendar, that is) can be yours for $25, or zilch if you’re a student.

I Guess I Could Unsubscribe From the Lists, But I’d Rather Just Gripe About It

From Nov. 5 (the day after the election) through today, I’ve received 12 e-mail messages from the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.  Nine of those have been fundraising e-mails, soliciting contributions for the Senate runoff race in Georgia and the recount fight in Minnesota.

Thank God they don’t have my phone number.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

LMPN Podcast – Episode #1

At last.  It’s a good bit longer (27 minutes) and a good bit more rambling than I anticipated, but it’s decent enough for a first effort, and at this point of frustration that’s the standard.  I certainly expect that my future efforts will steadily evolve for the better, both regarding content and audio processing (sound clarity, sound effects, etc.).  But for a shakeout episode that I recorded in one run-through, this isn’t too bad:

 

 

 

PS: If you think you hear a couple of faint traffic noises in the background during the podcast, you’re right: that’s from some traffic outside my apartment.  Next time I’ll filter that out.

More Technical Difficulties

My recording software --the supposedly magnificent Audacity-- is causing my computer to choke again.  I’ve finally given up on it and am switching to another application.  I’ll try to record the podcast again tomorrow (ie. Tuesday, which is actually now today).  Again, no promises, but I’ll get this all worked out eventually.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Oh, By the Way

You may not have heard about it, but yesterday the Iraqi cabinet agreed to a compact with the U.S. that will see U.S. troops withdrawal from Iraqi cities by June 2009 and leave Iraq entirely by January 1, 2012.  Final approval of the measure by the Iraqi parliament looks virtually assured.

The Election Is Over, But Palin-Induced Foolishness Continues

Katherine Lopez at NRO (who pre-election compared Palin to the statesmen of ancient Greece) now argues that Time should name Sarah Palin Woman of the Year.  An excerpt:

Like the “change” from the Obama campaign slogan embraced by so many, Palin offered something different. For some it was an anti-Washington feel. Many consider her a refreshing citizen-politician in the old mold, one that Thomas Jefferson would be proud to meet. Does that make her just like Obama? I do wonder what the campaign would have been like had they both been at the helm: He wouldn’t have had a monopoly on change, and she would have had her own staff and freedom to follow her instincts, and perhaps better advice than she was given as she ran for vice president.

The really astonishing thing is that Lopez seems right about the views of her allies: many in the social conservative wing of the GOP apparently really do believe the sentiments above.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

We’re Having Technical Difficulties. Please Stand By.

Tried to record the podcast today for posting tonight, but had to spend a good chunk of the day messing around with some problems caused by my audio software.  I finally have everything working (I think), but I’m going to wait until tomorrow to churn out my initial effort (mostly because I’m just fed up with the software tonight).  But my initial effort will be up by tomorrow evening.  So check back.

Friday, November 14, 2008

First Podcast: This Sunday (Probably)

So I decided to give the podcast thing a go, at least once.  No commitments as to content or length; you’ll have to tune in to find out.  Should be up by about 8pm Sunday night.

A Provocative Link for a Friday Morning

Jonah Goldberg says that secular conservatives, economic conservatives, and libertarians should get off the case of social conservatives.  He writes, in part:

This is not to say that one can’t be a moderate on this issue or that and be a Republican. But the idea that social liberalism and economic conservatism can coexist easily is not well supported by the evidence. For example, in Congress and in state legislatures, the more pro-life you are, the more likely you are to be a free-market, low-tax conservative. The more pro-choice you are, the more likely it is that you will be remarkably generous with other people’s money.

Goldberg also argues that pushing social conservatives to moderate their views is self-defeating because“The religious right is much more likely to stop being ‘right’ than stop being religious.”

I think I’ll ruminate on this for a while, but my initial reaction is that Goldberg mistakes or misstates what we (and by “we” I mean all conservatives or quasi-libertarians who, whatever their views on the merits, don’t get out of bed in the morning politically mostly to fight on issues like abortion, gay marriage, and prayer in schools) generally want from hardcore social/religious conservatives.  We’re certainly not asking them to abandon their views, we’re asking them to realize they are in a political coalition that needs to win the votes of persuadable voters who have economically and fiscally conservative tendencies but may not agree with, say, teaching “intelligent design” in schools.  Put another way, we’re just asking them to tone it down a bit. 

 

Update: Inserted the link. Might be helpful.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Good to Know

Just checking the Post Office’s requirements and fees for various mail services and came across this:

12.2.4 Bees and Poultry

Unless sent at the First-Class Mail or Priority Mail prices, special handling is required for parcels containing honeybees or baby poultry. Under 601.9.3.7, only queen honeybees may be shipped by aircraft. Check with your local Post Office for mailability prior to mailing honeybees other than queen honeybees at First-Class Mail or Priority Mail prices.

So the next time you go to mail some honeybees, you’ll thank yourself for reading this blog.

But wait, does that mean that only queen honeybees and no other kinds of bees can be shipped by aircraft, or that queen honeybees can only be shipped by aircraft, not via regular transport?

I gots to know.  Off to read 601.9.3.7.

 

Update:  Looks like the former.

The LSAT + Grades Approach Is the Worst One for Screening Potential Law Students, Except for All the Others

Some profs. at UC Berkeley are studying junking the LSAT + grades (often combined mathematically to create an “index score”) formulation for law school admissions and replacing it with an alternative that would deemphasize cognitive abilities and put weight on behavioral traits and attitudes. Why?

Definitions of “merit” and “qualification” have become too narrow and static; they hamper legal education’s goal of producing diverse, talented and balanced generations of law graduates who will serve the many mandates and constituencies of the legal profession.

A thought:  I’ve never come across anyone --white, black, Hispanic, Asian, or other; male or female; young or old; straight or gay; poor, rich, or in between-- who wanted to be represented by a lawyer with less-than-stellar “qualifications,” and I’m pretty certain I never will.

Another thought:  Can there be any doubt that a new testing regime would highly value adherence to statist political beliefs (or in academic lingo "a strong commitment to social justice”)?

(Warning: Website at above link quite buggy, at least in IE8.)

(Hat tip: George Leef at Phi Beta Cons blog.)

WVU Authorities Suppress Distribution of New Conservative Newspaper

I’m angry that I haven’t heard about this before, but apparently West Virginia University officials are hindering distribution of a new conservative newspaper on campus. Staff members of The Mountaineer Jeffersonian, even after getting prior permission from the President’s office, were barred from distributing the paper without purchasing newspaper racks, a new and heretofore unenforced rule (the official student newspaper is distributed without racks in many, many spots on campus).  The newspaper has hired an attorney.

WVU has a history of trampling on the First Amendment rights of its students (for instance, until quite recently it had a policy limiting demonstrations on campus that was one of the most limiting in the country).  And, at least in the seven years I was there (2000-2007), WVU officials often further discriminated against political speech they didn’t agree with, meaning conservative/libertarian speech.

I was hoping things had improved. Apparently, they’ve worsened. 

Visit the website of The Mountaineer Jeffersonian here, and read the first issue of the paper here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Second “Ugh” Inducing Moment of the Day

If this BBC fellow is to be believed, associating yourself with a picture of Joseph Stalin is apparently a hot new thing in the UK.

To Do or Not To Do (a Podcast, That Is)

For a while, I’ve had the idea of doing a weekly podcast for this blog.  For any unfamiliar with the term, a “podcast” is simply a radio show that’s posted to the net instead of, well, broadcast over the radio.  The podcast wouldn’t be live, but would be playable directly from this blog or downloadable to your favorite mp3 player or computer.  The content would come from the categories of “law,” “politics,” and “miscellaneous nonsense,” (duh) but would supplement, not duplicate, the written content here.  I think I would endeavor to generally keep the podcasts very short in length, say very rarely longer than ten minutes,  both because I don’t think I’d have time to spend prepping for a much longer show and because I don’t think anyone would want to listen to it.  I would probably do it on Sunday and post it Sunday night.

So what say you, dear readers?  Would you be interested in a weekly LPMN podcast that was usually about six or seven minutes long?  If so, would you (contra my tentative intention for it to have a general focus) like it to focus on any specific content areas in the law or politics?  Should it be shorter? Longer?  Should I drop the notion altogether?  Leave your feedback in the comments.

“Ugh” Inducing Moment of the Day

Asked what important conservative reforms Republicans can bring to the table as they attempt to rebuild their electoral appeal, rising conservative star Mike Pence apparently offered (wait for it, wait for it, wait for it…) upholding the “sanctity of marriage” as the most important element of the GOP’s new message.

Yes, because that’s all that’s been wrong with the GOP over the last few years: Republicans just haven’t hit social issues hard enough.

By the way, later this week I’ll have some of my own broad thoughts on what the GOP needs to do in the coming years to get back into victory lane in 2010 and 2012.

(By the way, I pretty much agree with Andrew Stuttaford’s commentary included at the link: in the short term the gay marriage political issue is generally a positive for politicians who oppose it, but it’s pretty clear that opponents are losing the long-term fight.)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Barack Obama Rode to Victory on a Massive, Unprecedented Surge of New Voters!

Or not.  Per CNN:

A new report from American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate concludes that voter turnout in Tuesday’s election was the same in percentage terms as it was four years ago — or at most has risen by less than 1 percent.

 

(Via Drudge.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Meet the New Politics. Same as the Old Politics.

Two developments today:

1.  Rahm Emanuel has accepted Barack Obama’s offer to become his Chief of Staff.  Emanuel has a well-deserved reputation as a skillful political player, and an even better-deserved reputation as an utterly ruthless political player.

2.  It appears that Senate Democrats will strip Joe Lieberman of his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.  Lieberman, as you’ll recall, gave a primetime speech at the GOP convention endorsing John McCain.  He also stuck with the Dems after they tried and failed to defeat him for reelection in 2006, when a switch of his allegiances could have given control of the chamber to the GOP.  Of course, Harry Reid will no longer need Lieberman’s vote, and thus Lieberman will probably no longer have his chairmanship.

Will Obama intervene to persuade Senate Democrats not to go through with this retribution?

Don’t hold out too much hope.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cali. Passes Constitutional Amendment Banning Gay Marriage

I’m sometimes surprised (though I probably shouldn’t be) by how much traction social conservative issues can get in solidly blue states and among traditionally blue demographics. For instance, last night California voters adopted an amendment to their state constitution defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, in effect overturning that hugely controversial and shoddily reasoned ruling from the California Supreme Court earlier this year.  If the exit polls are correct (a big, big if), blacks and latinos provided the margin of victory for the measure, while a majority of whites voted against it.  The measure passed despite the fact that supporters were massively outspent in the closing days of the campaign by a consortium of heavy hitters like Google.

On the merits of such marriage provisions, I’m ambivalent: I like the fact that they check the illegitimate policy ambitions that certain courts try to conceal under the guise of interpreting constitutional provisions, but I think amendments that reserve the issue of the definition of marriage to state legislatures are preferable to outright constitutional bans.  (Indeed, as a policy matter I’d like to see governments gradually get out of the marriage business altogether, but that’s another post).  But the political success of such amendments across states with very different political dispositions shows the continuing appeal of some of those social wedge issues.

I Don’t Believe It. For All the Good Republicans Who Lost Last Night…

With 99 percent of precincts reporting in Alaska, Ted Stevens is ahead in his bit for reelection.

God damn it.

In other Senate news, it looks like Gordon Smith (R-Oregon) might just hang on, though 25 percent of the vote there has yet to be counted. And Norm Coleman has a 757 vote lead over Al Franken.

Come on Gordon and Norm, hold the line at 56.

 

Update:  Recount on in Minnesota. AP retracts their call for Coleman.

Doh!

After I “projected” Dan Greear as the winner in the WV Attorney General contest last night, Darrell McGraw came back and won it.

Bad news for my WV vote analysis skills, much worse news for the people of West Virginia.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Live Blog of Election Night 2008

I’ve been meaning to give live-blogging a go for quite a while now, but haven’t really had a good opportunity to do it.  But it’s perfect for this election night. You should see a widget below from Cover it Livc (the gold standard of live-blogging services).  My coverage starts at 6:30pm.  If you’re not familiar with how live-blogging works I’ll be posting many, many short updates over the course of the night.  I’ll mostly post on the federal races, but I’ll look to the results from the few competitive West Virginia contests as well.  I think it will be fun to read; I’m sure it will be fun, and a bit challenging, to write.

By default, the widget makes an audio “click” when I post an update, and of course you can scroll to catch up on anything you missed. So don’t feel compelled to stare at your computer screen all night.  You know, instead of staring at your TV screen all night.  

 

No Leaked Exit Poll Data Yet, But Something Interesting From Colorado

Out in Colorado, it appears that more than half of registered voters voted before Election Day.  The results from those votes haven’t been released yet, of course, but the partisan breakdown of early voters has been:

Democrats: 33.44%

Republicans: 32.64%

Independents: 24.71%

Now, it’s possible that Republicans are overrepresented among early voters compared to all voters (though the conventional wisdom says pretty much the opposite). It’s also entirely possible that those party ID numbers will hold true for the entire Colorado electorate but Obama will win independents and take more GOP votes than McCain takes from Dems, giving Obama a decent margin of victory (say, at least three points).  But from this number taken alone it looks like things are setting up for a pretty close contest out there.  And, just maybe, if GOP’ers are underrepresented among early voters…

But I’m getting way, way ahead of myself.

Now where the hell are those exit poll numbers?

2:54pm Update:  Regarding the exit poll numbers and the usual sources that leak them, at this point it looks like no one has nothin’.

6:04pm Update: Gawker claims to have the first state-by-state exit poll data out there. Not worth too much, I’m sure, but if it’s worth anything at all it looks pretty decent for McCain, assuming GOP voters are indeed underrepresented in the numbers : PA Obama +4, VA Obama +2, NC McCain +2, FL Obama +1, OH Obama +1. (Hat tip: The Corner.)

Monday, November 3, 2008

An Election Day/Night Guide, and Predictions

All times Eastern:

Pre-6:00pm

Two things:

1.  If you haven’t already, vote.  (Personally, I prefer that spirit of engaging in a grand democratic tradition that you only really get on Election Day to early voting, but to each his own.)

2. Watch the exit polls, but don’t expect them to be terribly accurate.  Exit polling has undersampled Republican voters in recent elections --in 2004, the exits showed John Kerry performing 5.5 points better nationally than he actually did--  and the same will almost certainly be true again this time around.  Still, they’re something, and I’ll be periodically posting the numbers here as they leak to the net.  

6:00pm

Polls close in most of Indiana, and the first counting of votes cast on the day starts.  (CNN has a good interactive chart of poll closing times for all the states available here.)

7:00pm

Polls in Virginia and Georgia, the rest of Indiana, and most of Florida close. 

7:30pm

By this time we should have a decent chunk of the vote from Indiana in. If the race looks tight, it will probably signal a bad night for McCain nationally.  But if he’s up by at least five points or so, it could be the first piece of evidence that pre-election polls seriously underestimated his strength.

Polls in Ohio and North Carolina close.  As do polls in the Great State of West Virginia.

8:00pm

Should have a good sense of how Indiana will go at this point, and enough data (votes and exit poll numbers) from Virginia to reasonably guess how tight the race will be there.  If Obama is on track for a blowout nationally, we’ll probably get the first confirmation around this time with a call of Virginia for Obama, an Obama lead in Indiana, and a fairly tight race in Georgia.

Polls close in Missouri and Pennsylvania, in the rest of Florida, and in a number of other states.

8:30pm

We’ll likely know whether McCain has a plausible chance of winning at this point: he’ll need to have Indiana and Georgia in his column, be up in Virginia, and be up or very close in North Carolina, Ohio, and Florida.

9:00pm 

If Obama’s going to win by more than 5 points or so, we’ll know.  See the above states (except PA, where the heavily Democratic Philadelphia area vote will  come in first and obscure the state of the contest there).

Polls close in Colorado and most of the rest of the middle part of the country.

9:30pm

If the race is still close, look for some very important calls between now and 10:00pm.

Bonus:  If the contest is tight in New Hampshire (last polls close at 8:00) that may or may not tell us a lot about the race nationally, but it will tell us that the pollsters screwed the pooch once again there this year (after Hillary’s shocking win in the Democratic primary).

10:00pm

Polls close in Nevada.

10:30pm

We should know or basically know whether McCain has won the in-play Eastern red states (IN, VA, NC) and swing states (OH, FL, MO) he needs.  If he has, he’ll still need to take either (1) PA or (2) both Colorado and Nevada.

(By the way, here’s CNN’s electoral map calculator.)

 

 

Predictions

By midnight Obama turns Iowa, New Mexico, and Colorado blue, winning at least 273 electoral votes and the Presidency.  McCain holds IN, VA, NC, OH, FL, and MO, though mostly by quite slim (2-3 point) margins.  Nevada is extremely close, and remains too close to call into Wednesday.  Obama takes PA by about 4 points. Obama wins the national popular vote by a spread of about 3.5 points.

Other predictions:

- Sen. Norm Coleman holds off Al Franken in Minnesota.

- Dems fall short of capturing 60 seats in the Senate.

- McCain wins West Virginia by double digits.

 

Stay tuned for coverage throughout the day tomorrow, and frequent blogging tomorrow night.

 

[11/04 Update: Made a few cursory grammar, etc. corrections]

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Is There Reason for Hope?

Mason-Dixon released a new series of polls this weekend, with results from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Missouri, Colorado, and Nevada.  The polls were conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday.  They show McCain ever so slightly ahead in Ohio and North Carolina, and within striking distance (ie. within the margin of error) in all the rest.

So if the race has tightened further over the last few days, and the McCain/RNC turnout machine can somehow match the Obama/DNC operation, and the undecideds break for McCain, and maybe there’s a Bradley effect of one or two points in a couple of the states… 

What? After all, this is the election where we’re supposed to believe in the power of hope, isn’t it?

(By the way, stay tuned for my electoral predictions and a concise guide to watching the election night results, both coming up tomorrow.)

For the McCain-Palin Ticket

It occurs to me that while I have posted a fair amount in the last few months about developments in the presidential contest  I haven’t actually written much about the merits of the choice.  This has been partly because I think my view on the matter is pretty obvious from my usual posts, and partly because I doubt that there are many “persuadables” in my readership.  But with the election now only days away, I’ve come to think that if only out of a decent respect for the opinions of my fellow men (to steal and misuse a phrase) I should offer some brief explanation of why I will vote the way I will on Tuesday.

Let me begin by saying that I’ve never been an unabashed fan of John McCain, and have not become an unabashed fan of Sarah Palin during her brief time on the national stage.  Before this election cycle really kicked off, all the way back in early 2007, I cheered McCain for his regular opposition to Congressional pork giveaways but otherwise had a fairly low opinion of his policy views.  I found his fervent attacks on our most important political rights, in the guise of pushing campaign finance “reform,” appalling, and his supposedly “maverick” set of policy positions more like evidence of an incoherent (or non-existent) political philosophy.  His obvious love of being feted by the media and appearing on the 60 Minutes and The Daily Show to attack his GOP colleagues certainly didn’t help either.  My view softened a great deal after he risked his presidential campaign by supporting the surge of troops into Iraq, and by the time my favorite candidate, Rudy Giuliani, was knocked out of the GOP primaries I was ready to back McCain as the least worst of the remaining Republican candidates.  However, I still have more than a few doubts about his philosophy of governance and his judgment.

As for Palin, my previously expressed opinion of her unreadiness to be President if something were to happen to McCain hasn’t been changed by her post-nomination performance.  Moreover, we’ve learned that she apparently matches, or even surpasses, McCain in a troubling mental characteristic: both seem to think that having populist conservative political instincts is a substitute for having conservative policy ideas.   (It is bracing to think that in McCain and Palin Republicans have probably chosen two candidates who have read and thought less about the proper role of government in society than any other ticket in the past 50 years.)

But with all those flaws, and many others, voting for McCain-Palin over Obama-Biden is, to my mind, the clearly correct decision.

Now, dear reader, you may think that’s simply because my “conservative” views  --particularly on economic issues and on the makeup of the federal courts-- are more consistent with John McCain’s policy stances (even though those stances aren’t backed by a coherent political philosophy).  And it’s true: My profound disagreements with the policies Obama has exposed would alone be enough to get me to hold my nose and vote for McCain.  (Although, let us not forget that some foolish self-proclaimed conservatives, see eg. Christopher Buckley, have said they intend to vote for Obama in the hope that he won’t actually pursue the policies he’s said he’s going to pursue.)  But even for many non-conservatives, voting against Obama is the logical decision.  For the outcome of the presidential race won’t just determine who controls the Presidency, but whether Democrats will take control of the entire policymaking apparatus of the federal government.  Over the past two years, the policy ambitions of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and other “loud and proud” liberal Democrats in the Congressional leadership have been checked by a GOP President.  What will happen if that check is removed?  The likely answer is fairly clear. And, for most any non-hardcore leftist Democrat, undesirable.

It could be argued that Obama, as President and political leader of the Democratic Party, would curb the policy ambitions of Congressional Democrats, if only in the interest of furthering his chances of winning reelection in what will remain a basically center-right nation.  The problem is that we have no evidence whatsoever from Obama’s political past that he is inclined or able to stand up to members of his own party.  Indeed, the most remarkable thing about Obama’s record in the Illinois Senate and U.S. Senate is how consistently he avoided taking leadership positions on controversial matters.  I see little reason to think that Obama would drop that risk-averse political style, and taking on a Democratic Congress would require deliberately taking major political risks, risks that (at least in the short term) very well might not payoff.  Barack Obama is just not a fellow who is temperamentally inclined to force those kinds of confrontations.

Over the past forty years there have been three periods where one party has controlled the Presidency and both houses of Congress: 1976-1980 (Democrats), 1992-1994 (Democrats), and 2002-2006 (Republicans).  A vote for Obama is not just a vote for Obama, but a vote for a new period total Democratic control of high-level federal policymaking.  Popular opinion says that things didn’t go so well in Washington during those periods, and if Obama does prevail things likely won’t go much better this time around.   

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish

Despite his recent conviction on seven felony counts in federal court, polls showing him losing to his Democratic challenger, and the assurance from the Senate Republican Leader that there’s a “100 percent” chance he’ll be expelled if he is somehow reelected, Alaska Senator Ted Stevens has not only refused to resign but is fighting as hard as ever to return to the Senate.  Asked why he continues on, Stevens responded “The state needs me.”

If Stevens weren’t so obviously engrossed by self-importance and lust for power, watching the downfall of one of the most powerful people in American politics might have a tragic aspect to it.

As it stands, it will be satisfying to watch him lose next Tuesday.  And hopefully, his power-addicted counterpart representing Alaska in the House, master of log-rolling Republican Don Young, will be dismissed by Alaska voters as well.  Bad for the GOP, you say?  In the very short term, perhaps.  But further out, better for the GOP, the Senate, Alaska, and the country.