Monday, February 19, 2007

Kerry now admits the economy was "pretty decent"

Senator Kerry in a recent interview defending his Presidential run stated, "And I came within a hair of beating a wartime president with a pretty decent economy and a 50 percent approval rating." That's correct, he admitted the economy was pretty decent in 2004.

It's funny because in 2004, he claimed that President Bush was presiding over the worst job recovery since Herbert Hoover. Then in the interview he has the audacity to speak of Republican character assassination and mistruths in 2004. He also defends the sport of windsurfing for those poorer souls like him (never mind that he is married to a billionaire or his middle name is Forbes) that cannot afford yachts like all these Republicans. That is always the urban myth that is most amusing that all rich people are somehow Republicans yet Democrats spend a lot of time in those wealthy Republican enclaves:-) of Park Avenue, the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Beverly Hills, Silicon Valley, and Cape Cod raising money.

Edwards, never a voice of moderation

A number of articles, see
his local paper or
U.S. News
have talked about Presidential hopeful John Edwards' evolution from a "centrist" in 2004 to a "liberal populist" in 2007. However, in fairness to Edwards his beliefs have not really changed. He was the same liberal opportunist than that he is now with the exception of his vote on the war in Iraq, he has not really changed a single position.

While he did not call for universal healthcare in 2004, it was clear that he was in favor of it and the Kerry campaign was in fair of civil unions (and some say once elected would have advocated for gay marriage). He was never a centrist but the mainstream media seems to characterize every Democrat with a southern accent is a centrist.

Edwards has and always will be an opportunist. The reason he most likely voted for the war in 2002 was it quite popular and conventional wisdom held you could not be elected President if you voted against the war resolution, even Kerry voted for it before he voted against:-) The reason at least in part that Edwards is so adamantly against the war, is the conventional wisdom is now that you cannot be supportive of the war and win the Democratic nomination in 2008. The only time he appeared to be more moderate was in his 1998 Senatorial run and he had to in order to get elected in North Carolina.

However, I would like to take the opportunity to chastise the mainstream media for continuing to characterize Edwards' "two America" class warfare rhetoric as moderate in 2004. Neither his rhetoric nor his voting record (which was shown to be similar to Kerry's) ever reflected moderation.

Unfortunately, the media which is overwhelmingly Democratic, skews the public perception of candidates and does a disservice to voters time and again. A good example today is the characterization of Obama as a "moderate" or Hillary as a "hawk" when neither their voting record or rhetoric is consistent with this. Obama was considered the liberal anti-war candidate in the Illinois Democratic primary in 2004 and his voting record in the Illinois state Senate was consistent with this characterization and Hillary has never been a vocal supporter of the Iraq War and her public pronouncements on the war from the time of the vote to now have always sounded Kerry-esque.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Schumer's Faulty Premise

Nation Editor-in-Chief in her review of Senator Schumer's new book writes, "in his new book, Positively American: Winning Back the American Middle Class One Family at a Time, Senator Charles Schumer reveals the imaginary constituents that have long informed his political career: Joe and Eileen Bailey. The Baileys live in a suburb of Long Island with their three kids, they both work, and they earn about $75,000 annually."

The problem with his imaginary constituents is the problem with Democratic tax policy in general. It would be hard to imagine living in Nassau County a middle class existence with three children on a household income of $75,000 a year, where the price of an average home is $586,401.

Democrats typically define anyone who makes over $100,000 as wealthy (remember the tax cuts for the rich rhetoric) never really taking into account cost-of-living adjustments. As someone who lives in a modest but very pricey house in the expensive Park Slope section of Brooklyn, Senator Schumer of all people should know better.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The influential evangelical leader Richard Land seems to indicate that he will not vote for Rudy Giuliani in the general election even against Hillary Clinton. What makes this especially bizarre is the foreward to Land's recent book is written by Joe Lieberman, who is more liberal on social issues than Giuliani and who has also been divorced. What gives?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The editor-in-chief and co-owner of the liberal magazine, The New Republic, has this to say on George Soros’s recent comments comparing the U.S. to Nazi Germany:

“No, you are not seeing things. He said de-Nazification. He is not saying, in the traditional manner of liberal alarmists, that the United States is now where Weimar Germany was. He is saying that the United States is now where Germany after Weimar was. Even for Davos, this was stupid. Actually, worse than stupid. There is a historical analysis, a moral claim, in Soros's word. He believes that the United States is now a Nazi country. Why else would we have to go through a "certain de-Nazification process"? I defy anybody to interpret the remark differently. The analogy between Bush's America and Hitler's Germany is not fleshed out, and one is left wondering how far he would take it. Is Bush like Hitler? If it is "de-Nazification" that we need, then in some sense Bush must be like Hitler. Was the invasion of Iraq like the invasion of Poland? Perhaps. The more one lingers over Soros's word, the more one's eyes pop from one's head. In the old days, the Amerika view of America was propagated by angry kids on their painful way to adulthood; now, it is propagated by the Maecenas of the Democratic Party.

But nobody seems to have noticed. I did not see Soros's canard reported in other places, and on the Times' website on the day I saw it there were only four comments. Imagine the outcry if a Republican moneybags--say, Richard Mellon Scaife--had declared that Hillary Clinton is a communist or that Bill Clinton's America had been in need of a certain de-Stalinization process. But I hear no outcry from Soros's congregation. People who were repelled by Bush's rather plausible notion of the "axis of evil" seem untroubled by Soros's imputation of even worse evil to Bush. Because Bush really is a fascist, isn't he? And Cheney, too; and Donald Rumsfeld, and Antonin Scalia, and even Joe Lieberman, right? Or so I fear too many liberals now believe. There seems to be a renaissance among liberals of the view that there are no enemies to the left. I hear no Democrats expressing embarrassment, or revulsion, at Soros's comment. Whether this silence is owed to their agreement or to their greed, it is outrageous.

In the same conversation at Davos, Soros announced that he is supporting Senator Barack Obama, though he would also support Senator Hillary Clinton. So my question to both of those progressives is this: How, without any explanation or apology from him, will you take this man's money?”

It is odd that the Democratic party, which continually holds that Republicans are beholden to big business and their campaign contributors, does nothing (no comments from Howard Dean, Hillary, Obama, or Edwards) to denounce such incendiary comments. Hopefully, someone in the Democratic party will actually stand-up to Soros and his repeated despicable comments. Just because someone is wealthy does not give them the right to engage in slanderous remarks.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Barack Obama formally announced his candidacy for President of the United States. I thought both his speech and the backdrop of this speech (Springfield, Illinois) were far more impressive than the two other top-tiered candidates for the Democratic nomination, Clinton and Edwards. It was not lost on anyone the analogy to Lincoln. Additionally, unlike the John Edwards speech where the crowd seemed just like local residents gathering around to see what all the fuss was about, Obama drew a huge crowd that actually seemed inspired by the canidate. Obama's image is likely to become more negative as the campaign goes forward and more his radical past comes to light, however today was a very solid start for him.

Just a few thoughts:

While the Democrats have a stronger and deeper field, the Republicans have top tier candidates whose positions are more towards the center of the country (excluding the Iraq War). Although people continually refer to Hillary as a centrist, she has basically maintained the liberalness people expected when she was first elected to the Senate in 2000. Even her supposed hawkishness is a facade. Her war vote has been explained the same way, Kerry did, that she was misled by the President and that she was not voting for the war but just to strengthen the President's hand at the UN. Both of which are false. There is not a single issue, in which I can find that she really defied her party on.

In fact, Edwards, Obama, and Hillary are basically down the line liberals who do not really diverge from the Democratic line on any major social or economic policy. The difference among the three is Obama seems to actually stand up for what he believes and can actually disagree with someone, while doing so in a respectable manner. He also seems a little more authentic than most of the Democrats current or past candidates for president. Which is why most Republicans tend to like him better than Edwards or Hillary, both of whom seem willing to say anything to win and are uber-partisan.

On the Republican side, McCain, Giuliani, and Romney have all bucked the party line on host of things and still hold positions at odds with party orthodoxy. If the Republican nominee (probably McCain) keeps the focus on the issues and Iraq ceases to be a major issue, the Republicans will actually have a decent shot in 2008.
Much has been made over Rudy Giuliani's so-called switch on abortion. However, there is nothing inconsistent with being pro-choice but favoring judges who favor a certain interpretation of the Constitution. I happen to be pro-choice and a supporter of Roe v. Wade but I still believe Justice Scalia is a skilled judge worthy of being on the Supreme Court. I believe one's viewpoint on Roe v. Wade, should not be used to disqualify or qualify that justice for a seat on the Supreme Court.

Yes, Giuliani is being somewhat disingenuous in his support of "strict constructionist" judges which has become almost a code term, but that does not mean his position on Roe v. Wade has changed. As the article points out, he has always taken the Catholic approach to abortion, who has been pro-choice but not enthusiastically so.

I would also just interject that the term "strict constructionist" is overused. I am not sure Justice Roberts, who gives considerably more weight to legislative history than Scalia is an originalist or a strict constructionalist in the mode of Scalia.

Friday, February 09, 2007

I found this tidbit in this cbs article about the draft Al Gore movement to be quite interesting: "due to a range of business ventures, aides have said Gore could spend as much as $50 million of his own money to launch a credible presidential run."

The question becomes how does someone accrue that kind of money so quickly? It seems quite suspicious. Many politicians cash in on their post political career by giving speeches, writing books, becoming CEOs, consultants, partners in law firms, etc.

Former politicians like Giuliani, simulatenously do all of these things and make a ton of money. For the most part, there is not too much wrong with this. After all, quite a number of these politicians passed on lucrative private sector careers to serve the public. Although granted Al Gore was much more sanctimonious than most. Remember his "people versus the powerful message"?

Be that as it may, Gore is not a CEO of a major company, is not a partner in a law firm, his movie proceeds were supposed to go to charity, so one wonders what he has done to earn $50 million dollars. Sitting on the boards of Apple (where possible criminal wrongdoing took place) and Google as well as making some speeches for money, would not seem to net in excess of $50 million dollars.

Hopefully, some more facts will come to light.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Interesting article about some veteran political strategists trying to recruit a third party candidate in 2008. It is not a bad idea. The problem is that there is a disconnect between the elite (including political strategists) in this country and the general populace. The majority of Americans would actually prefer a candidate that was more economically populist than the Republican nominee but more socially conservative than the Democratic nominee. Most of the moneyed and political elite would prefer a candidate more socially liberal than the Republican nominee but that was more pro-business and libertarian than the Democratic nominee. As such, I think Unity08 (assuming they get anybody credible at all) will end up with a social liberal in the mold of a Michael Bloomberg or John Anderson, who will attract some supporters but mainly be a spoiler candidate as opposed to a serious contender.
The Washington Post political blog has interesting commentary on the 2008 vulnerable House seats. At a time when most Republicans are very pessimistic on the 2008 outlook, I am actually cautiously optimistic. Because of the creation of the minority/majority districts in the House, the political landscape in general where there is more red than blue states, and the overall Conservative bent of this country, the Republicans have a chance to pick up seats and in a good year take back the House and maybe even the Senate.

Some of the pickups in 2006 like the Kansas' 2nd District and the old Delay seat were probably flukes. If the Republicans can recruit good candidates they can win a decent number of these seats back as well as challenge Democratic incumbents in red districts.

In the Senate, Republicans have historically underperformed. In both the 2000 and 2004 elections, President Bush won the vast of majority of states. States like North Dakota and Arkansas should not have two Democratic Senators and if the Republicans run good candidates they will not.

The New NRCC Chairman, Tom Cole, has it right : ("He repeats a pair of facts — that Republicans have their largest minority in the last half-century and that Democrats now hold 61 districts that President Bush carried twice — with the frequency of someone who has been delivering the same argument to donors helping to retire the committee’s $15 million debt.

His pitch is basically this: All variables equal, Republicans have the edge, and they will take the majority again.

“Believe me, if we could carry every congressional district that the Republican [presidential] nominee carries … I would take it right now, sight unseen, end of the game,” Cole said. “And I would bet you we would have the majority."").

Congressman Cole, who I hope and suspect will be more effective than his predecessor, Tom Reynolds, seems to be on the right track. However, if he could just take away one lesson from Rahm Emanuel it should be this: run a strong opponent against your DCCC counterpart, Chris Van Hollen. Reynolds, was in fact paralyzed by the fact that he was in danger of losing and therefore had to spend considerable effort to save his seat at the expense of doing his job at the NRCC. Van Hollen, like Reynolds, is considered to be in a safe seat. However, while the district leans Democratic, it is by no means a safe seat. Connie Morella, a Republican represented the district until a narrow loss to Van Hollen in 2002. Van Hollen, like Reynolds is very likely to hold on to the seat but having a strong opponent will take him off his game and force him to spend less time helping other Democratic candidates.
It is clear that the Democratic Congressional majority is setting the domestic legislative agenda now. Listen to any of the President's recent speeches and it is clear that he is following rather than leading on domestic policy. His focus has been on core Democratic issues: energy independence, executive compensation, global warming, health care, and immigration. So far, his conciliatory tone and rhetoric has gotten him little.

As a Republican, I am willing to give him a little leeway in this department. His approval numbers are terrible and he needs to get them up in order to improve both his legacy and the possibility of the Republicans retaining the White House in 2008 and the Republicans chances of taking back Congress. Obviously, Iraq will play a larger role than domestic policy, but nonetheless it is important to show that he can get legislation passed.

However, the President should remember that there is a difference between triangulation and capitulation. Bill Clinton succeeded in triangulating by presenting himself (fairly or unfairly) as a more moderate alternative to the more extreme Republican-controlled Congress. The President should be flexible but not too flexible in dealing with the Democratic (not Democrat:-)) Congress.