Sunday, April 29, 2007

$400 haircuts and yoga-Edwards is just your Average Joe

From a N.Y. Times Q&A with Russell Simmons:

"Are there any presidential candidates who inspire you?

I talk to John Edwards more than I talk to anyone. He has said more things about the conditions we need to think about. He went to yoga with me. He did the whole class, an hour and a half. He sweated like crazy. He’s in good shape, but it was hard on him."

This ridiculous gap between John Edwards' rhetoric and his lifestyle just grows more apparent by the day.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Why doesn't the President demand the same sort of loyalty from his appointees that he gives to them? George Tenet, was a Democrat who was originally appointed by Bill Clinton. He was routinely criticized by both Democrats and Republicans during his tenure, especially Richard Shelby who said numerous times that Tenet should be fired. Instead, the President keeps him, gives him an undeserved Medal of Freedom, and he repays the President by writing a tell-all criticizing this administration. Bush's biggest weakness is cronyism in hiring decisions. The worst part (see Brownie) is they are not even loyal in return.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Richardson is not ready for prime-time

Governor Richardson, who people believe is a plausible VP candidate or even a dark-horse for the President, made a few comments at tonight's debate that he will regret.

From Roger Simon at the politico:

"They all support Roe v. Wade (though when Bill Richardson was asked to name his “model” Supreme Court justice, he named Byron “Whizzer” White, one of only two justices to vote against it."

"Williams asked Richardson why he resisted asking for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ resignation “because he's Hispanic.”

(“He came from nothing; I know the guy,” Richardson said. “Did it affect me that he was Hispanic. Yeah, it did, and I said so. I think the American people want candor. They don't want blow-dried candidates with perfection.”)
More trouble for Apple founder Steve Jobs and by extension, Apple Board Member Al Gore. If Al Gore runs for President, this issue could really ruin his candidacy.
Harvard Professor Charles Fried in lehman's terms concludes that Justice Kennedy's majority opinion in the most recent abortion case sucks. I am not sure Fried is right in his conclusion regarding the "undue burden" precedent set out in Casey and this decision but as per my previous post he is correct about Kennedy's incoherence.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Hold the presses... David Brooks actually writes a sensible column:-)

David Brooks is one of the few columnists to write anything sensible on the recent Supreme Court Decision in Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood. While I am not as confident as he is that the country could reach a consensus on this issue, it is clear that many people favor a middle-ground approach.

I also agree with his criticism of Justice Kennedy's rationale. He writes, "Furthermore, the reasoning Justice Anthony Kennedy used to uphold the law — about mothers who may come to regret their abortions — is not only bizarre, but far removed from the original revulsion that prompted the whole issue."

I am under the impression that in order to get Kennedy to sign on to the opinion the Conservative bloc probably had to allow him to write the majority opinion and use his rationale. However, the Court and the country would have benefitted from a clearer and better argued position by another justice. Justice Ginsburg seems to have gotten the better of the argument in dissent, despite being in the minority of the country in opposing the regulation of this procedure. Knowing Kennedy he will probably try and get back in the likes of Linda Greenhouse's good graces by writing an opinion for the liberal majority in a another controversial case. Hopefully, he will articulate a better rationale for his belief.

Senator Reid's weak attempt to clarify

Apparently, Senator Reid has "clarified" his remarks on partial birth abortion and Justice Alito. His spokesman wrote to an Internet blogger, "Senator Reid opposes abortion except in the cases of rape, incest, and when the life of a mother is at risk. Consistent with this position, Senator Reid supported the Partial Birth Abortion Ban and supports the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday. However, Senator Reid continues to disagree with Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito on many issues and that is why he opposed their confirmation."

Funny, but why would Senator Reid choose to express his disatisfaction with Justice Alito on the day when the Justice is ruling in favor of a bill that Senator Reid vocally supported? It seems that Senator Reid is trying to have it both ways. Additionally, one would think that Senator Reid would be touting this decision on his website but he has chosen not to. Instead, he appears to be trying to distancing himself from the decision by speaking out against gun control, thereby angering liberal supportives but picking a fight with Republicans on Iraq, thereby placating liberal supporters.

If he did not have this non-aggression pact with Senator Ensign, Reid might be vulnerable the next time he is up for re-election. Republicans can and should run a tough challenger. If Ensign proves unwilling to do much for the challenger perhaps he can enjoy a non-leadership position in the Senate.

The issue demonstrates that Senator Reid is not exactly a principled politician. I do not care if he favored or was against this decision, I just believe he should be intellectually honest and consistent on a matter he claimed to care about.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Reid's hypocrisy exposed

Over at the confirm them blog:

"“A lot of us wish that Alito weren't there and O'Connor were there.”

"That’s Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s puzzling reaction—at a press conference—to today’s Supreme Court decision upholding the federal partial-birth abortion ban. This remark from a man who voted for the partial-birth abortion ban found constitutional today and against an amendment to the bill declaring that “Roe v. Wade was appropriate and . . . should not be overturned.”

Is Sen. Reid saying that he voted for the federal ban hoping it would be overturned by the Supreme Court? Is he saying that he voted for what he believes to be an unconstitutional law? Or was he just hoping that he could score points with the Left by bashing President Bush’s Supreme Court picks, without pro-life voters in his home state of Nevada noticing the contradiction??"

It always seems odd to me how much emphasis that voters whether they be pro-life or pro-choice place on a politician's position on abortion as opposed to the judges that politician will confirm. While Reid voted for the ban, it seems he wanted to have it both ways and vote against judges who will uphold the ban. Democrats are in many ways lucky to have a leader who gets credit from some of the pro-life community for characterizing his position on abortion as pro-life yet who is able to find other excuses not to confirm justices who are thought to either favor restrictions on Roe v. Wade or overturn it altogether.

Conversely, pro-life Republicans were lucky to have pro-choice Arlen Spector as the then-head of the judiciary committee as some more informed conservatives such as Hugh Hewitt noted. He was better able to shephard conservative justices through the process then say Orin Hatch and was able to provide cover for pro-choice Republican Senators who wanted to vote in favor of Alito but were afraid of repercussions back home. The same would be true for conservatives with Rudy Giuliani.

I happen to support the Roe v. Wade precedent as I am pro-choice and I see handing the issue back to the states as problematic although admittedly the legal reasoning behind Roe is shaky at best. That said, I would have been happy to confirm Roberts or Alito and while I don't know much about the constitutional arguments in this case and not sure which way I would have voted, it seems perfectfully legitimate to pass this restriction which I don't see as an "undue burden" for those seeking abortions. It also seems in keeping with the majority opinion in this country on this procedure.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Florida may have got a little more purple

Regardless of the merits of Governor Crist's decision to restore felon voting rights, it appears politically damaging to the Republican Party and maybe even to Governor Crist next time he is up for re-election.

Here is the liberal blogosphere reaction:

"Florida: Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, with a single stroke, made his state more politically competitive for Democrats in the next election cycle by restoring the voting rights of an estimated 515,000 felons who have committed "less serious" (nonviolent) crimes. Salon's Farhad Manjoo gives the implications:

The ex-cons belong to traditionally Democratic demographics -- many are African-American, and many are poor. If they're allowed to vote, they'll likely go to the polls at lower rates than everyone else; Uggen and Manza's work suggests felons turn out to vote at about the half the general turnout rate in any given election. But in a state as closely divided politically as Florida, that could still make all the difference. In the past several decades, say Uggen and Manza, at least two Senate races in Florida would have gone to Democrats instead of Republicans had felons had the right to vote. Buddy McKay would have beaten Connie Mack in 1988, and Betty Castor would have beaten Mel Martinez in 2004. And, of course, the 2000 presidential election would have gone to Al Gore. Uggen and Manza's research suggests Gore might have picked up 60,000 votes from felons."

While this reaction may be overly optimistic on the part of Democrats, the evidence clearly demonstrates that ex-convicts overwhelmingly vote Democrat. If Democrats were smart they would make restoring felon voting rights a top governing priority in states where they control the governor's mansion. They can always point to Governor Crist to insulate themselves from criticism.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I found this somewhat troubling. In an article about John McCain, the liberal Newsweek reporter Jonathan Alter wrote, "He respects Michael Gordon of The New York Times, who got in trouble with his paper when he told Charlie Rose that the surge might work. (Had Gordon said it would likely fail, it's hard to imagine the Times rebuking him for editorializing.)"

Friday, April 06, 2007

Bruce Bartlett, one of the original supply-siders, has a good op-ed taking issue with some of the myths perpetuated by some of the Republican candidates as well as rebuking to a lesser extent indirectly of some of those on the left who characterize supply-side economics as "voodoo economics."

However, I think Bartlett misses the point when he write, "Today, hardly any economist believes what the Keynesians believed in the 1970s and most accept the basic ideas of supply-side economics — that incentives matter, that high tax rates are bad for growth, and that inflation is fundamentally a monetary phenomenon. Consequently, there is no longer any meaningful difference between supply-side economics and mainstream economics." I am not sure he has any empirical proof to back-up that assertion but even assuming it is true regarding economists, many Democratic policy makers do not understand that in the long-run in many cases they will not collect a $1 of revenue for every $1 of a tax hike. Hence, this is why the Democrats running in 2004 and 2006 have always claimed if they revoked the tax cuts for the top 2% they could fund "insert program."

That said, this is a good article by Bartlett (despite his recent turn on the GOP) and probably a necessary one as many of the Republican presidential candidates at least rhetorically have boxed themselves in a corner by exclaming that tax hikes are neither necessary nor efficient. In the long run, this is probably not a good platform for the party as it does not appear to deal with economic reality.

The Money Quotes:

"The original supply-siders suggested that some tax cuts, under very special circumstances, might actually raise federal revenues. For example, cutting the capital gains tax rate might induce an unlocking effect that would cause more gains to be realized, thus causing more taxes to be paid on such gains even at a lower rate.

But today it is common to hear tax cutters claim, implausibly, that all tax cuts raise revenue."


"We believed that our tax plan would stimulate the economy to such a degree that the federal government would not lose $1 of revenue for every $1 of tax cut. Studies of the 1964 tax cut showed that about a third of it was recouped, and we expected similar results. Thus, contrary to common belief, neither Jack Kemp nor William Roth nor Ronald Reagan ever said that there would be no revenue loss associated with an across-the-board cut in tax rates. We just thought it wouldn’t lose as much revenue as predicted by the standard revenue forecasting models, which were based on Keynesian principles.

Furthermore, our belief that we might get back a third of the revenue loss was always a long-run proposition. Even the most rabid supply-sider knew we would lose $1 of revenue for $1 of tax cut in the short term, because it took time for incentives to work and for people to change their behavior."

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I would like to blog about this a little more, when I have more time but what the former editor-in-chief of the NY Times, Howell Raines writes in the Guardian is ludicrous. I have blogged a number of times about the "paper of record's" editorial slant but I had no idea that Howell Raines was so extreme. He writes, "None of us can say with certainty that Bush is simply a dullard, although that explains his regime of goofy tax cuts, corporate welfare and needless invasions." Notice that besides the typically leftist demagoguery he uses the plural "invasions" as opposed to invasion. This along with his comment that "US foreign policy became wars-for-oil" leads one to believe that Howell Raines along with a leftist conspiracy theorists and maybe a handful of the progressive caucus believes that Afghanistan was a "war-for-oil" and a "needless invasion."

I would be curious as to know what he would have advocated the U.S. doing in response to 9/11 and why he believes the U.S. has spent $100's of billions of dollars in Afghanistan for a relatively small amount of oil.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

More Bad News for the President

Matthew Dowd, the President's former chief political strategist in an interview with the NY Times criticizes the war in Iraq and the President's inability to seek bi-partisan consensus.

Considering Matthew Dowd was the one who designed the base strategy, I find it ironic that he is now criticizing the President for not being bi-partisan enough. Dowd, a former Democrat, has had a lot of personal difficulties in the last few years but he should have expressed his opinions to the President in private first before going public. Either way, this is going to attract some publicity and give the White House even more grief in the days ahead.