10.30.2004

The One Man Conspiracy

I've said this before here, but I'm saying it again. It is friggin' lame that any quasi-intelligent person is taken seriously as long as they attribute any political phenomena to Karl Rove. Anything and everything can be explained by Karl Rove; it's not even necessary to implicate the CIA, the masons, or wicked multi-national corporations. Something weird happen? Some voter turnout abnormality? Kerry's breakfast gave him diarrhea? Terrorists making home movies? Must've been that evil genius Rove.

10.27.2004

269-269




From California GOP Consultant Dave Gilliard's blog...



With one week to go, George Bush and John Kerry are in a virtual dead heat in both popular and electoral votes. It is very possible that the electoral count could finish at 269 to 269, throwing the race to the House of Representatives!



Here is my analysis of where its stands:



Iowa 7 Leans Bush

Colorado 9 Leans Bush

Michigan 17 Leans Kerry

Pennsylvania 21 Leans Kerry

West Virginia 5 Leans Bush

Missouri 11 Leans Bush

Nevada 5 Leans Bush

Arkansas 6 Leans Bush



If these states hold, Bush has 234 Electoral votes and Kerry has 228. That leaves six states that could go either way:



Florida 27

New Mexico 5

Ohio 20

Wisconsin 10

Minnesota 10

New Hampshire 4



Right now, I'd say that New Mexico and Wisconsin are leaning slightly to Bush and Minnesota and New Hampshire are leaning slightly to Kerry. That puts the electoral count at 249 Bush to 242 Kerry.



Florida and Ohio are too close to call. If all my other assumptions are correct, Ohio, with 20 votes, is not relevant. This election, like 2000, will be decided in the Sunshine State.



If Bush wins Florida and loses Ohio, he finishes with 276 Electoral votes to Kerry's 262 If Kerry wins Florida and loses Ohio, he finishes with 269 Electoral votes - one short.



That means Kerry has to win Florida and Ohio, while Bush just needs Florida, if all the other assumptions hold.



Now the fun part. If Bush wins Ohio and Kerry wins Florida, the Electoral College will finish at 269 for each candidate.



More later on what fun it would be to be a presidential elector in a tied race...

10.26.2004

SHAWN STEEL SAYS "VOTE NO ON 62 OR THE PARTY'S OVER"




By Shawn Steel
Immediate Past Chair CRP
Director California Club for Growth


In a few days the California political world may erupt. A key purpose of Prop 62 is to reduce the conservative influence in the Republican Party. Moreover, Californians face the permanent destruction all minor parties, marginalization of the major parties and an evisceration on political activists.

In November, California voters will decide whether to adopt a radical scheme to fundamentally change our electoral system in this state.

Prop 62 financed by Dick Riordan and a host of super rich power brokers who are seeking to end the contest of ideas in political primaries. Originally promoted as an "open primary" election initiative, fortunately that that deceptive language was taken off the ballot by Judge Judy Hersher. In reality it would impose a "Louisiana-style" non-partisan voting process in California.

The Louisiana primary election law was devised by former Governor Edwin Edwards, a Democrat, in 1975 as a means of throttling the growth of a then-emerging Louisiana Republican Party. The notorious Edwards went on to beat corruption charges in 1987, but was convicted in 2001 of racketeering, extortion, and fraud and sentenced to ten years in prison.


To use Edwards' Louisiana system as a model for elections in California is outrageous. Louisiana has long had a reputation for corrupt "Banana Republic" politics and the state's primary election law permitted extremists like David Duke and Edwin Edwards to be finalists for governor in 1991. Louisiana voters were forced to choose between the Klansman and the crook.

Some 10 billionaires individuals helped pay for signatures to qualify this Louisiana-style primary to be on the California November ballot. They include Haim Saban [Mighty Morphine Power Rangers], Eli Board [Broad & Kaufman major developers], Don Bren CEO Irvine Co. and John Chambers CEO of Cisco Systems.

This ballot proposition is not an "open primary" or even the "blanket primary" proposal adopted by Californians as Proposition 198 in March 1996. It is a radical scheme that will destroy the role of political parties in our state.

If this initiative is adopted there will be no official party nominees for any office. Primaries are literally abolished. There would be no official Democratic candidate and no Republican candidate, or any other party candidate.

This will allow wealthy self financed candidates to dominate elections for generations. Inevitably this will create on going personality cults. Instead of facing party activists, wealthy candidates will massage the public with pabulum messages.

In this radical system, candidates' names would appear on a primary ballot randomly placed. Listing party affiliation would be up to the parties. All voters, including those not affiliated with a political party, would receive the same ballot and would be allowed to vote for any candidate regardless of the candidate's party affiliation. The two candidates receiving the highest number of votes regardless of their political party would appear on the November election ballot.

To a large extent, the two candidates qualifying for the November election will depend on the field of candidates running in the primary. In statewide races, if the primary field consists of three or more Republicans and two Democrats, the November general election would likely be between two Democrats. Similarly, if the field consisted of three or more Democrats and two Republicans, the run-off would likely be between two Republicans. These whimsical outcomes are anti-democratic.

Former Congressman Tom Campbell, author of Prop 198, observes that in his 1992 senate race, the two candidates qualifying for the November run-off both would have been Democrats, if this Louisiana-style primary had been in effect.

Adoption of the Louisiana plan will have a devastating effect on small parties. With run-off elections involving only the two top vote-getters, it will be a very rare instance when a Green Party or Libertarian candidate's name would appear on the November ballot.

This system will result in perpetual internal warfare where two members of the same party vie for election in November legislative run-offs. How is a political party run "ground game" for their all their candidates if the party is at war with itself? How can there be genuine diversity of ideas if all partier are effectively disenfranchised?

In many coastal urban counties, Republicans and other parties will no longer compete. The same is true for Democrats in suburban and rural areas. Political diversity will suffer when parties will be totally eliminated from the November ballot.

There is probably no more important political proposition in the last
10 years than Prop 62. If passed it will marginalize all parties, reduce introduction of new ideas in the political process and allow wealthy personality cults to dominate California politics for decades to come. Its unfair to minor parties, its anti democratic and will have huge unintended consequences.

Thankfully we also have Proposition 60 which will provide constitutional protection for the right of political parties to have their candidate on the November ballot. Prop 60 trumps Prop 62.

The solution is clear: Vote No on Prop 62 and Yes on Prop 60.

10.22.2004

KERRY LEAD US TO WAR UNDER FALSE PRETENSES!


So, a friend of mine (I won't mention names here!) and I have been having a friendly back-and-forth about the Presidential election, now just 11 days away! She's backing Kerry, and I obviously am supporting El Presidente! She's pushed Kerry thus far based on a woman's "right to choose" and on the grounds that she thinks gays should be able to wed.

Today's dig on W was a little different. It went like this, "W started a war under FALSE PRETENSES." I disagree, and so attempted to lay out my point. See if you agree...


--

False pretenses? Is that what this is all about, not “The wrong war at the wrong time,” but false pretenses? Make up your mind already!!!

See, there have been two fundamentally different critiques of the War. The first being that the war was unjust, and the second being that ultimately it was just, but that Bush led us in there for unjust reasons. Though you give rhetoric to imply the second argument, I’ll assume you mean that the war was wrong in general. However, since you’re mi amiga, I’ll touch on both.

To work backwards, as most of you Democrats think we Republicans do anyway, the assertion that Bush lied about the rationale for war factually just isn’t so. Exhibit A being Bush’s March 19 primetime speech from his desk in the Oval Office, announcing the beginning of American Forces going into Iraq:

Right up front, Bush began, “…at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, TO FREE ITS PEOPLE and to defend the world from grave danger.” He ended his address, “We will BRING FREEDOM TO OTHERS and we will prevail.” His premise and his conclusion both hit on the dual purpose of the invasion.


I could go do a search of all his speeches leading up to the war, and they’ll all show the same thing, that his argument was always that there were two reasons for the Invasion: the benefits of liberating an oppressed people, and the assurance of the safety of the American people.

But where did these arguments, these justifications - these “pretenses” if you will – come from? Were they strategies developed from W’s ranch in Texas, as some have suggested?

Well, actually no. Long before Bush even began his campaign for President, while he was still a lowly Governor from Texas, regime change in Iraq was the official policy of the United States Government.

Bill Clinton called Saddam, “the greatest threat to our security in the 21st Century.”

Sandy Berger, Clinton’s National Security Advisor – quoting Clinton – said, “the best way to address the challenge Iraq poses is ‘through a government in Baghdad—a new government—that is committed to represent and respect its people, not repress them; that is committed to peace in the region.’”

Even Congress got into the action during the Clinton years, passing the Iraq Liberation Act, which read, “It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.”

As the Weekly Standard put it, “Clinton and Berger had suggested [regime change] might someday be necessary. For all the reasons that Berger had outlined, Saddam's regime itself was the problem, above and beyond his weapons capabilities. It was an obstacle to progress in the Middle East and the Arab world. It was a threat to the Iraqi people and to Iraq's neighbors. But a big part of the threat involved Saddam's absolute determination to arm himself with both conventional and unconventional weapons.”

Think about that – Bill Clinton agreed with President Bush.

And that was before September 11, which changed everything, and pushed all of this to the front burner. Things that before were to be considered necessary “someday,” suddenly became necessary sooner rather than later.

The Bush Doctrine stated clearly that the fight not only would be taken to the terrorists, but to nations that provide safe harbor to them as well.

Even just based on that, going into Iraq was justified, both rhetorically and as the next front of the War on Terror. The documentation of Saddam’s involvement with terror organizations is extensive. He provided them funding, gave them safe harbor, and met with leaders of various terror networks frequently. One of the Al-Qaeda leaders even was kept on Saddam’s payroll and lived in Baghdad.

But the reason for prioritizing Iraq as the second front of the War on Terror was different. Yes, there was a serious humanitarian benefit to freeing the Iraqi people. Yes, Saddam helped those who were plotting against us. But also, Saddam himself was a threat.

Before throwing mud at the President, keep in mind the evolving argument those of you on the left have used against the war. Based on the intelligence everyone at the time was using, the argument was that Bush was “rushing to war,” and that he should instead allow Hans Blix and his crew more time for inspections. Everyone agreed that they thought WMD existed, but argued about whether the war needed to be “rushed” into. The argument was expediency, not justification.

David Kay, who led an extensive investigation into Iraq’s WMD testified before Congress that, "All I can say is that among an extensive body of Iraqi scientists who are talking to us, they have said: The U.N. interviewed us; we did not tell them the truth, we did not show them this equipment, we did not talk about these programs; we couldn't do it as long as Saddam was in power. I suspect regardless of how long they had stayed, that attitude would have been the same."

In other words, Hans Blix could’ve built a house in Baghdad and stayed there searching for a dozen years, but while Saddam was in power, the truth was never going to come out.

And just what was that truth? That while the weapons may have been destroyed (or just have yet to be found); Saddam was in fact, actively maintaining the infrastructure to resume production of WMD as soon as he was free to do so. In the words of David Kay, “they maintained programs and activities, and they certainly had the intentions at a point to resume their programs. So there was a lot they wanted to hide because it showed what they were doing was illegal."

He went on to say that Iraq, "was in the early stages of renovating the [nuclear] program, building new buildings."

Kay concluded that, "they maintained programs and activities, and they certainly had the intentions at a point to resume their programs."

As Senate Democrat Leader Tom Daschle said, "The threat posed by Saddam Hussein may not be imminent, but it is real, it is growing and it cannot be ignored."


Mi amiga, you’ve got to realize that before this campaign heated up – it was one of the few things both Democrats and Republicans agreed on, that Saddam had to go. John Kerry and John Edwards believed that liberating an oppressed people, combined with ridding America of a serious threat, were damned good reasons to go to war. They both voted as such.

But when Howard Dean started to kick both of their butts in the Primaries, their votes and their rhetoric both fundamentally changed. Edwards even went a step further than the President to say that Saddam posed an “imminent” threat to the United States. Bush on the other hand, when asked by Tim Russert if the war was “necessary,” paused for a minute and asked Russert to elaborate.

Bush’s thoughtfulness showed that he believed that the war may not have been necessary, but that it was justifiable, and in the interest of the United States to conduct. Bush was and is correct that necessity isn’t a prerequisite for justifiability. Was WWI necessary? Was the European aspect of WWII necessary? Was the Korean War? For that matter was the first Gulf War? Wars are based on a judgment of whether the benefit of action outweighs the costs of inaction, and in this case the benefits clearly were superior.

What you have to realize is that the Democrats agreed with the President’s goal, but disagreed with the speed with which he sought out to accomplish that goal…that is; they agreed right up until campaign season began…

At that point, both of the Johns took an anti-war stance, Kerry more so than Edwards. That fundamental change is what propelled Kerry to victory in the Primaries. It wasn’t a principled reason, as you can trace his arguments supporting the war right up until the time Dean looked like he was running away with the Primary. That’s one of many reasons that Kerry scares me. With something as serious as war and peace, Kerry is willing throw off a dozen years of voting and saying one thing, in order to win an election. That behavior is not befitting any politician, especially the Leader of the Free World.


Bush’s rhetoric and his execution of the War have remained constant. There has been very little change of his justification of the war that hasn’t been brought about by developments of the war itself. Kerry and Edwards however, go every which way based on what that morning’s polling shows them. If you believe what the Johns are saying today about Iraq being the WRONG WAR AT THE WRONG TIME, you should be blaming THEM for leading us into a war based on FALSE PRETENSES, not the President!

10.16.2004

Awesomely Hilarious!!

This is friggin' hilariously fantastic! Check it out because there is no way you can disagree with that description. The only trouble is knowing which one is your favorite (mine is Hillary/The Bride of the Monster, but Al Sharpton is a close second).

10.13.2004

JOE TRIPPI ON POSSIBLE UNDER-REPRESENTATION IN POLLING


The cellphone brigade and why the polls may be wrong

In the last few weeks, I have been on college and high school campuses all over the country—from the University of Miami for the first Presidential debate, to the two high schools I’m visiting today in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I keep seeing the same thing— young people energized in a way that I have not seen in my entire 30 years of politics.

Yet most of the polling I have seen doe not reflect any expectation of a higher turnout than usual among these younger voters. I suspect that cell phones are the reason for this.
Pollsters have not come up with an effective means to conduct or even contact survey respondents who only use cell phones. But think of the explosive growth in cell phone usage (particularly among the young) over the past four years.

So if we are seeing, as I think we are, an increase in energy and commitment to vote among young people than at any other time in my lifetime— and at the same time pollsters lack the ability to reach young people and measure this rise in civic participation— then we have the ingredients for a big surprise on election day.

I can’t wait for tomorrow night’s debate and if there is any further movement in the polls afterwards—but I am becoming convinced that John Kerry is doing far better than the pollsters are findings these days.

If Kerry wins in November, and the election is not as close as it now seems, the surprise may come at the hands of young people armed with cell phones the experts could not measure.

10.12.2004

PJ DOES IT AGAIN

Putting Words in the President's Mouth
Sixteen obvious points that George W. Bush should make during the Wednesday night debate.
by P.J. O'Rourke

(1) My opponent, Massachusetts senator John Kerry--or, as I like to think of him, Teddy Kennedy with a designated driver . . .

(2) There are two organizations pushing for change in November--al Qaeda and the Democratic party. And they both have the same message: "We're going to fix you, America." On the whole, the terrorists have a more straightforward plan for fixing things. They're going to blow themselves up. Although, come to think of it, Howard Dean did that.

(3) Senator Kerry, what do you mean my administration "lost" 1.6 million jobs? Did Dick Cheney accidentally leave 1.6 million jobs in the Senate men's room or something? Did you find them? Have you got 1.6 million jobs that you're hiding, Senator Kerry? And if you're elected, are you going to give them back?

(4) Speaking of jobs, Senator, how come every illegal immigrant who wades the Rio is able to find one in about 10 minutes? Meanwhile, your Democratic core constituency has been unemployed for years. Are your supporters lazy, Senator Kerry? Or are they stupid? Back when Clinton was president, did your supporters think they got their jobs at Burger King because Bill was sleeping with the cow?

(5) You say health care costs are soaring? Well, I'm not the one with a personal injury lawyer on my ticket. I loved the billboards that John Edwards used to have all over North Carolina: "Y'ALL MIGHT HAVE GOT HURT AT WORK AND NOT EVEN KNOWN IT" and "FEELIN' POORLY? LEMME SUE YER DOCTOR!"

(6) Yeah, we're running a deficit. Like Democrats never did that. But at least we're borrowing the money when interest rates are low. It's the same as refinancing your home loan. Not that you'd know, Senator Kerry, since your rich wife paid off your mortgage.

(7) You say that we won the war, but we're losing the peace because Iraq is so unstable. When Iraq was stable, it attacked Israel in the 1967 and 1973 wars. It attacked Iran. It attacked Kuwait. It gassed the Kurds. It butchered the Shiites. It fostered terrorism in the Middle East. Who wants a stable Iraq?

(8) No, it turns out Saddam Hussein didn't have weapons of mass destruction. And how crazy does that make Saddam? All he had to do was tell Hans Blix, "Look anywhere you want. Look under the bed. Look beneath the couch. Look behind the toilet tank in the third presidential palace on the left, but keep your mitts off my copies of Maxim." And Saddam could have gone on dictatoring away until Donald Rumsfeld gets elected head of the World Council of Churches. But no . . .

(9) You say I didn't have the answers in Iraq? Well, what were the questions? Was there this bad man? Was he running a bad country? That did bad things? Did it have a lot of oil money to do bad things with? Was it going to do more bad things? If those were the questions, was the answer "more time to let international sanctions and U.N. weapons inspections do their job"? No, the answer was blow the place to bits.

(10) You say I didn't have a plan for the post-war problem of Iraq? I say we blew the place to bits--what's the problem?

(11) Yes, blowing a place to bits leaves a mess behind. But it's a mess without a military to fight aggressive wars. A mess without the facilities to develop dangerous weapons. A mess that can't systematically kill, torture, and oppress millions of its own citizens. It's a mess with a message--don't mess with us!

(12) Saddam Hussein was reduced to the Unabomber--Ted Kaczynski--a nutcase hiding in the sticks. Sure, the terrorism by his supporters is frightening. Hence, its name, "terrorism." Killing innocent people by surprise is not called "a thousand points of light." But, as frightening as terrorism is, it's the weapon of losers. The minute somebody sets off a suicide bomb, you can be sure that person doesn't have "career prospects." And no matter how horrendous a terrorist attack is, it's still conducted by losers. Winners don't need to hijack airplanes. Winners have an Air Force.

(13) You say you're going to get our friends and allies to take a bigger role in Iraq. Senator Kerry, what friends and allies? You're a sophisticated fellow. You're well-traveled and speak French. Are there some countries out there that you know about and the rest of us have never heard of?

(14) Let me tell you something, Senator Kerry. I don't blame the U.N. for not supporting me in Iraq. The world is full of loathsome governments run by criminals, thugs, and beasts. When I mentioned "regime-change," hairy little ears pricked up all over the earth. Beads of sweat broke out on low, sloping brows. Blood-stained, grasping hands began to tremble. I had to put poor Colin Powell on the phone to various hyenas in high office and have him explain that America itself needed regime-change from 1992 to 2000. And we didn't bomb the fellow responsible, and we only impeached him a little. Secretary Powell had to tell Kim Jung Il, Robert Mugabe, and Jacques Chirac to quit worrying and look at Bill Clinton and realize the fate that awaits them is a lucrative lecture tour, a best-selling book, and many willing, plump young women.

(15) Senator Kerry, you say you were in favor of threatening to use force on Saddam Hussein, but that actually using force was wrong. The technical term for this in political science is "bullshit."

(16) What are you going to do, Senator, give Saddam Hussein a mulligan and let him take his tee shot over?

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/004/770chlec.asp

10.11.2004

http://www.nationalreview.com/goldberg/goldberg200410080941.asp
October 08, 2004, 9:41 a.m.

Shame, Shame, Shame


Many of you just don’t care about this war.
by Jonah Goldberg

We should have let sanctions work longer. We should have given inspections another try. The WMDs weren't there so we shouldn't have gone to war. It's a mistake. A grand diversion. The wrong war, the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Shame on all you people.

I don't mean those of you who opposed the war at the time and I don't mean those of you who think Bush bungled the job after the fact. I mean you and you and you — and most especially John Kerry and John Edwards. Shame on you both.

You voted for this war but you voted against the peace you say is so important to win merely because you decided that toppling the tyranny of Howard Dean's high poll numbers was worth paying any price, bearing any burden.

But forget all that. I just watched John Kerry preen in front of the cameras about how "good diplomacy" would have prevented the mistake he voted for. "Good diplomacy" in John Kerry's world would have let French and Russian politicians continue to line their pockets in the name of keeping Saddam in power so he could rape and murder and torture until "good diplomacy" welcomed him back into the "international community" and gave him the weapons he sought. I suppose in John Kerry's world good diplomacy lets the boys in the back of the bar finish raping the girl for fear of causing a fuss.

Okay, that was unfair. It just seems everything old is new again. Bush "lied" because he believed the same intelligence John Kerry believed. Bush "lied" even though John Edwards called the threat from Iraq "imminent" — something Bush never did. No one bothers to ask how it could be possible that Bush lied. How could he have known there were no WMDs? No one bothers to wonder why Tony Blair isn't a liar. Indeed, no one bothers to ask whether the Great Diplomat and Alliance Builder believes our oldest and truest allies Great Britain and Australia are lead by equally contemptible liars. Of course, they can't be liars — they are merely part of the coalition of the bribed. In John Kerry's world, it's a defense to say your oldest friends aren't dishonest, they're merely whores.

Oh, one more thing no one asks. How could Bush think he could pull this thing off? I mean, knowing as he did that there were no WMDs in Iraq, how could he invade the country and think no one would notice? And if he's capable of lying to send Americans to their deaths for some nebulous petro-oedipal conspiracy no intelligent person has bothered to make even credible, why on earth didn't he just plant some WMDs on the victim after the fact? If you're willing to kill Americans for a lie, surely you'd be willing to plant some anthrax to keep your job.

And speaking of the victim, if it's in fact true that Bush offered no rationale for the war other than WMDs, why shouldn't we simply let Saddam out of his cage and put him back in office? We can even use some of the extra money from the Oil-for-Food program to compensate him for the damage to his palaces and prisons. Heck, if John Edwards weren't busy, he could represent him.

I'm serious. If this whole war was such a mistake, such a colossal blunder, based on a lie and all that, not only should John Kerry show the courage to ask once again "How do you tell the last man to die for a mistake?" but he should also promise to rectify the error. And what better, or more logically consistent, way to solve the problem Bush created? Kerry insists it was wrong to topple Saddam. Well, let's make him a Weeble instead. Bush and Saddam can walk out to the podiums and explain that his good friend merely wobbled, he didn't fall down. That would end the chaos John Kerry considers so much worse than the status quo ante. And if the murderer needs help getting back in the game, maybe the Marines can cut off a few tongues and slaughter a couple thousand Shia and Kurds until Saddam's ready for the big league again. That will calm the chaos; that will erase the crime.

Yes, yes, these are all cheap shots, low blows, unfair criticisms. I know. Good and nice liberals don't want Saddam back in power. Sweet and decent Democrats shed no tears for Uday and Qusay. These folks just care about the troops who were sent to die based on a lie. I care about the troops too. But despite John Kerry's insistence that he speaks for the American Fighting Man, some of you might consider that a sizable majority of Americans in uniform will vote for Bush, according to surveys and polls. And since the Kedwards campaign continues to tell us that men who fight and serve cannot have their judgment questioned, that should mean something. Oh, wait, I'm sorry. I forgot. Only fighting men who served for four months on the same boat with John Kerry are above reproach or recrimination. Even if you served in the next boat over, you're just a liar.

Damn, that was another cheap shot, another low blow — one more Dick Cheneyesque distortion. We soulless warmongers sometimes forget ourselves. I realize now that you forces of truth and light are nothing like me. If only Bush had justified this war in the high-flown language of liberty and justice he uses now, then you better angels of the American nature would have supported the toppling of Saddam.

Of course, Bush did exactly that. He spoke of the lantern of liberty lighting the Middle East long before the Iraqi Statue of Tyranny fell down in that Baghdad square. But he was lying then, of course. He only said that stuff to please those bloodlusting neocons who didn't care about Bush's vendetta to avenge his father and were too rich from their access to Zionist coffers to care about the Texas oil man's plot to capture the Iraqi oil fields and earn Halliburton the worst publicity any corporation has received in American history. Of course these neocons knew Bush was lying about democracy and WMDs alike, but they too didn't care that they would be found out. After all, that's a small price to pay for Mother Israel, where Jewish-American loyalties check in but don't check out.

Damn. Once again the gravity of Bush's villainy has pulled me off the trajectory of honest debate. I'm not making any sense. I'm not consistent in my "rationales." Indeed, John Kerry said it so eloquently when he noted that George W. Bush has offered 23 rationales for the war. Heaven forbid the International Grandmaster of Nuance contemplate that there could be more than a single reason to do something so simple as go to war. Let's not even contemplate that the ticket that says this administration hasn't "leveled" with the American people should have to grasp that sometimes leveling with the public requires offering more than one dumbed-down reason to do something very difficult and important.

Ah, I know. The problem isn't that Bush has offered more than one reason, it's that he's changed his reasons. That is the complaint of those who would otherwise support the war. Alas, that's not true, he's merely changed the emphasis. After all, what is he to do when he discovers there are no WMDs? Violate the "Pottery Barn rule" and simply leave a broken Iraq to fester? But let's imagine for a moment that he has "changed the rationale." Isn't that what Lincoln did when he changed the war to preserve the Union into the war to free the slaves? Isn't that what the Cold War liberals did when they changed a value-neutral stand-off into a twilight struggle between the human bondage and the last best hope of mankind?

Ah, but in the Cold War we never fought the Soviets, we merely leveled sanctions. Couldn't we have done the same to Iraq, since Saddam was no threat to America? I'm sure all of the people asking this asked it already of Bill Clinton when we toppled Slobodan Milosevic, a man who killed fewer people, threatened America less, and violated fewer U.N. sanctions than Saddam ever did.

I'm tired now. But the sad news is I could go on.

I'm not saying there are no good arguments against the war. I am saying that many of you don't care about the war. If Bill Clinton or Al Gore had conducted this war, you would be weeping joyously about Iraqi children going to school and women registering to vote. If this war had been successful rather than hard, John Kerry would be boasting today about how he supported it — much as he did every time it looked like the polls were moving in that direction. You may have forgotten Kerry's anti-Dean gloating when Saddam was captured, but many of us haven't. He would be saying the lack of WMDs are irrelevant and that Bush's lies were mistakes. And that's the point. I don't care if you hate George W. Bush; it's not like I love the guy. And I don't care if you opposed the war from day one. What disgusts me are those people who say toppling Saddam and fighting the terror war on their turf rather than ours is a mistake, not because these are bad ideas, but merely because your vanity cannot tolerate the notion that George W. Bush is right or that George W. Bush's rightness might cost John Kerry the election.

I get e-mails from you people every day and I see your candidate on TV every night. Shame on you all.

Tomorrow’s Wall St Journal is another one of those days that make their editorial page so damned important. Yah, they’ve got some cool ed’s on the Afghan and Aussie elections, and a great comparison of job numbers right now, versus 1996. But they also run two awesome op-eds. The first by super-genius Steve Moore about how John Kerry is a hypocrite of unbelievable proportions when it comes to taxes. The second, by another Cato guy, Roger Pilon deals with how importation of drugs from Canada would ruin the drug industry in America, taking away incentive for the companies to continue the R&D that allows them to pump out all the cool drugs they do… And guess what, if you weren’t reading it here, you could go grab today’s Journal from a newsstand for a single, solitary BUCK!

A Wild and Crazy Guy



By STEPHEN MOORE

October 11, 2004; Page A18

Remember the classic 1970s comic routine from Steve Martin? You can make a million dollars and pay no taxes. First, find a million dollars. Then when the IRS comes knocking on your door demanding to know why you didn't pay your taxes, you just simply tell them you forgot. And then you say: "Well excuse me."

Well, John Kerry has his own version. It goes like this. You can make a billion dollars and pay almost no taxes. First, marry a billionaire. Second, hire a gaggle of tax accountants and lawyers to bring your tax rate down to about half what many middle-income families pay. Except for John Kerry, this is no gag; it's reality. According to the Kerrys' own tax records, and they have not released all of them, the couple had a combined income of $6.8 million in income last year and paid $725,000 in income taxes. That means their effective tax rate was a whopping 12.8%. And it was all (presumably) done legally.

Now don't get me wrong: I'm not against people paying a 12.8% tax rate. Far from it. I just believe that all Americans -- even those who can't afford to hire tax attorneys to set up complicated trusts and find legal ways to stash income in other tax-sheltered investments like municipal bonds -- should have a shot at that kind of non-confiscatory tax rate.

Under the current tax system the middle class pays far more than the Kerry tax rate. In fact, the average federal tax rate -- combined payroll and income tax -- for a middle-class family is closer to 20% or more. George W. and Laura Bush, who had an income one-tenth of the Kerrys', paid a tax rate of 30%.

Of course, there is delicious irony in the Kerry family tax-return data. Here is the man who finds clever ways to reduce his own tax liability while voting for higher taxes on the middle class dozens of times in his Senate career. He even voted against the Bush tax cut that saves each middle-class family about $1,000.

The Kerrys have unwittingly made the case for what George W. Bush says he wants to do: radically simplify and flatten out the tax code. Dick Armey and Steve Forbes have persuasively argued over the years that America should have a flat tax with a rate of 17% to 19%. John Kerry has consistently opposed a flat tax, because he says it would be a tax break for the rich. But the truth is with a 19% flat tax, some rich people with lavish tax shelters, like John Kerry, would pay more taxes. I calculate that the Kerrys would pay another $500,000 of taxes if we had a flat tax.

So before John Kerry is given the opportunity to raise taxes again on American workers, shouldn't he and Teresa at least pay their fair share?

Mr. Moore is president of the Club for Growth.


The Reimportation Blues



By ROGER PILON

October 11, 2004; Page A18

It seems the issue of drug reimportation is finally ready for prime time. In Friday night's debate, John Kerry reaffirmed his support for drug reimportation while President Bush said he would consider supporting it if he could be certain it was "done in a safe way." A bill lifting the federal ban on reimporting prescription drugs passed the House last year, overwhelmingly. Three such bills now sit in the Senate. Several state and local officials, defying federal law, have begun their own reimportation programs.

If this is the direction of things, it's time to look seriously at the issue, because it's not as simple as many seem to think. Right now the issue is being staged as a morality play. Greedy drug companies are gouging seniors, only to sell drugs cheaply abroad. If they can make a profit there, at lower prices, they can do it here, critics say. Let's lift the ban and buy drugs at foreign prices. If it were that simple, the deed would have been done long ago. Yes, the federal ban should be lifted, but then the market should be allowed to work. If a bipartisan Senate bill succeeds, however, that second step won't happen.

* * *


International price comparisons are difficult to make. Still, Canada's review board recently reported that Americans pay on average 67% more than Canadians for patented drugs. The European differential is also substantial. To average Americans, however, what matters is the price of their drugs. They go online or they board buses to Canada and they're shocked by the difference. So they ask why.

Here's why, in a nutshell. Modern "miracle drugs" don't come cheaply. Given onerous FDA safety and efficacy standards, it takes on average 12 to 15 years and $800 million before a company can bring a new drug to market. Before the first dollar of profit comes back, those R&D costs have to be recovered, of course. But a company looks at the world and sees essentially one free market, America. Socialized medical systems abroad impose price controls. Seeing that, companies charge market prices here (half the world market) and take what they're offered abroad. Foreigners are classic "free riders" as Americans pay most of the R&D costs.

That part of the story portrays Americans and companies alike as victims of foreign price controls. There's another part, however: the economic rationale that puts companies in the driver's seat. When they look at the world, companies see different levels of demand. To maximize profits, therefore, they segment markets and price differentially. Nothing's wrong with that: airlines and theaters do it. Pricing too high excludes too many buyers. Pricing below what buyers are willing to pay yields too little profit.

Probably both scenarios are in play, but on either, companies have to guard against "parallel markets" -- drugs being resold by local vendors from low-price to high-price markets. If they don't, all their drugs will eventually go to the low-price markets, where companies don't recover true costs, only to be resold to high-price markets, thus undercutting the companies' profit-making venues.

Companies have two basic ways to preserve market segmentation: no-resale contracts, and supply limits. Both are consistent with free market principles. Back in 1987, however, drug companies took a short cut: they asked Congress to ban drug reimports. They won a statutory, public law solution to a private law problem, and therein lie difficulties.

In effect, third-party Americans were told they couldn't buy from willing foreign sellers. (In fact, Canadian provincial officials are actually encouraging local pharmacies to resell to Americans.) Thus, by opposing reimportation, the administration comes off as anti-free trade. Americans resent the price differences and the interference -- especially those who understand the free-rider issue.

What's to be done, then? Clearly, the situation today is politically unsustainable, as events are proving. The ban should be lifted, therefore, not to encourage reimportation, which isn't likely to happen, but simply to allow market practices to surface. Today, with their high-profit American market protected, companies don't have to bargain hard abroad. The ban shields them, allowing them to claim they have to accept foreign price controls. Practically, Americans are subsidizing socialized medical systems abroad.

But with the ban lifted, and the threat of underpriced drugs flooding the American market, companies would be "forced" to adjust. They could still try to maximize profits by segmenting markets. But they'd have to guard against parallel markets the right way, through no-resale contracts or supply limits. They could offer a country lower prices, but the country would have to police its exports, since America would no longer be policing imports. That places the incentive where it belongs, on the country benefiting from the bargain. And if that failed, companies could limit supplies, as they're doing now with Canada.

In Europe, however, no-resale contracts are illegal -- from a mistaken belief that they're anti-free trade. That's why there's a thriving parallel market there. If that's the way Europeans want it, companies will have no choice but to limit supplies or raise prices. That's how markets work. Companies should be free to segment markets. But if it doesn't work, international prices will move toward equality. And if that happens -- as is likely, given enforcement difficulties -- there'll be no reimportation, which moots the safety issue as well.

With the ban lifted, no one knows whether prices will rise abroad and fall here, or just rise abroad. That's for markets to decide. The last thing we want, however, is the bipartisan Dorgan-Snowe Senate bill, which would lift the ban and then prohibit companies from "gaming the system" -- limiting supplies or raising prices abroad. In effect, the sponsors want to freeze the current situation, then import below-cost drugs from abroad -- at those prices. The sponsors seem not to appreciate that the only reason a company can sell a drug for $20 in Germany is because it's sold for $100 in America. The bill would actually import foreign price controls, and that would be the end of future R&D and the miracle drugs it produces.

Opponents of lifting the ban say that if we "forced" market practices on the world, countries would balk at paying those prices and would steal American patents. But a close reading of the WTO Trips Agreement, protecting intellectual property, should allay those fears. The administration needs to watch the issue, however; and in treaty negotiations it should encourage a clear separation of commercial and charitable undertakings. In particular, the "compulsory licensing" arrangements designed to help poor countries with their drug needs should be scrapped in favor of a more market-oriented approach to this problem.

Drug reimportation is thus more complex than at first it seems, but as with so many other issues on the public's plate today, a healthy dose of market principles is the right prescription.

Mr. Pilon is vice president for legal affairs at the Cato Institute.

10.09.2004

Something For That Sweet Girl You Know

I've been MIA for awhile due to the usual circumstances in my life. My apologies. Saw this today and I thought I'd pass it along. I ordered one for my chicky, shouldn't you?

Also, RCP has a dead on analysis on the electoral college math here. (hat tip to Peter Schramm)

A Friend Of Mine Makes An Interesting Observation...


John Kerry says the 'W' in George W. Bush stands for 'Wrong.' But he still can't explain what John Kerry stands for.

10.07.2004

McClintock on the Propositions


It's no secret to anyone reading this that I'm a big fan of Tom McClintock's. Hell, I worked for the guy. Here are his reccomendations for this November's Propositions. I have to say I agree with him on pretty much everything but 70, I just can't support making the Indian Tribes the largest political force in the state, even if it would mean helping Tom...



I've been getting a lot of calls about the various ballot propositions.
Here's how I see them:

1A. Watered Down Protection for Local Governments. YES, I suppose. Extends limited protection to local governments against future raids by the state AFTER the state finishes ripping off another $2.6 billion over the next two years. I support it because the protections are a slight improvement over
existing law, but if you really want to protect local governments, Prop. 65
is the ticket.

59. Public Records, Open Meetings. YES. Louis Brandeis said it best:
"Sunlight is the best of disinfectants." Public business should
be public.Period.

60. The Right to the Party of Your Choice. YES. This measure guarantees
all parties access to the general election ballot, and was written to knock
out Prop. 62.

60A. Selling Long-term Assets for Short-term Spending. NO. Sounds good on
the surface - sell surplus state property to pay for general fund spending.
Here's my problem: when surplus assets are sold - and they should be - the
funds should be used for the purpose for which they were raised. For
example, Caltrans land was paid for by highway taxes. When it's sold, it
should be used to build highways, not pay for this year's welfare increase.

61. Children's Hospitals Bond. NO. Our borrowing is out of control -
general fund supported debt is up 54 percent in 14 months. No matter how
appealing the purpose, California needs to stop borrowing until it has
brought its credit card binge under control.

62. Election Primaries. NO. They call it an "Open Primary," but what this
really does is to trade California's primary election system for a two-step
general election. The result: the power to determine the official party
nominee is taken away from the voters in the primary and returned to
backroom political bosses. A giant step backward from clean and open
elections.

63. Soak the Rich - And Then Us. NO. An extra tax on those making over $1
million might sound good to the rest of us - but beware. California's taxes
are already so disproportionate that the top 1Ú4 of 1 percent of income
taxpayers pays nearly one third of all income taxes. It doesn't take many
of them re-arranging their affairs to claim residency in Nevada (where there
is NO income tax), before there's a dramatic reduction in tax revenues. And
guess who they'll tax then?

64. Honest Work for Lawyers. YES. Puts an end to predatory law firms
that extort money by filing huge lawsuits against employers for technical
violations of law. About time.

65. Real Local Government Protection. YES. A lost cause - the proponents
have abandoned this measure in favor of Prop. 1A - but if you believe in
protecting local government funds from continued raids by the state, this is
the measure that will do so.

66. Weakens Three Strikes Law. NO. Under current law, in order to qualify
for a third strike, you have to be convicted TWICE before for VIOLENT
felonies. This bill requires the THIRD strike also be a violent felony.
Call me prudish, but after a thug has been twice convicted of raping,
assaulting and murdered his fellow citizens, I'm out of patience.
California's Three Strikes Law works. Don't weaken it.

67. Phone Tax. NO. A half-billion tax increase - about $60 a year for an
average family in both direct taxes and tax-driven price increases. Who
says talk is cheap?

68. Casino Grande. NO. I don't believe it's any of government's business
how grown-ups chose to spend their time and money as long as they're not
hurting anyone. But I object to the extortionate provisions of the measure
that would force Indian tribes to accept outlandish conditions or face
financial ruin.

69. DNA Samples. YES. Requires DNA samples to be taken from all felons and criminal suspects. It means that violent crimes will become much easier to solve - and with far greater certainty than ever before. It will give "Cold
Case Files" lots of new material.

70. De-politicize Tribal Gaming. YES. Provides a standard gaming compact
for any legitimate Indian tribe that asks for it, assessing the corporate
tax rate while restoring a free market to operations on Indian land. It
would remove gaming from the tortured political environment that now has
pitted tribe against tribe in winning monopoly franchises. A standardized
system is the best protection against the unjust political favoritism that
we're seeing today.

71. Stem Cell Research. NO. Stem cell research is a promising field, but
why are California taxpayers suddenly responsible for funding research for
the rest of the world? Worse, any discussion of research data when making
research grants is exempt from the Open Meetings Act and the Open Records Act. Want to know what your $3 billion has bought? Sorry, that's
confidential.

72. Health Care Coverage. NO. Here's a great idea. Require every
business with more than 20 employees to provide health insurance.

My guess:
a lot of businesses with between 20 and 40 employees will suddenly
have 19 -and an awful lot of folks will be without health care OR jobs. We're from the government and we're here to help.


Worth printing and taking with you to the polls. Better than any slate you're gonna see