The Groundhog Surpasses His Shadow

These are a few rather specific things for which to look in 2004. Specific is dangerous, so let's assume that the baby and the bathwater are both gone long before the Tarot has been put in the box. But here we go:

Look for the Democrat Party to remain divided. Okay, I'm starting with the obvious, but whomeve their eventual nominee, they will remain divided. If, by chance, the nominee is Howard Dean, we're looking at the rebirth of a phenomenon we saw two decades ago: [Republican President] Democrats. Twenty years ago, they were the Reagan Democrats, conservative (mostly southern) Democrats and Dems who just liked President Reagan. The Bush Democrats to fly in the face of a nominee Dean would be moderate-conservative-Democrats who think that President Bush is doing a good job and dislike Howard Dean. So whereas the Reagan Dems were reacting to the President, the Bush Dems will be reacting mostly to Dean.

No matter who the Democrat nominee is, the Veep selection will not be a current candidate. It will not be Hillary. It will probably be a moderate Senator from the mid west, and Indiana's Evan Bayh springs readily to mind.

There will be no consensus after the first ballot at the Dem convention, and then will begin a pre-planned "Draft Hillary Rodham" -- Rodham, as opposed to Clinton, because the Dems will want to maintain that "wall of seperation" -- movement. She will put on a public display of pensiveness, the gush for a while, the magnimously turn them down. She could never be a number two, and she probably believes the hype regarding her chances in 2008.

Things in Iraq will work out, in that they will be governing themselves by July. We'll still be there in force to maintain order, but the Iraqi government will be functioning. I won't predict when general elections will be held in Iraq, nor will I do so for Afghanistan. I do think, however, that the U.N. will broker some sort of peace between the Karzai government and the "moderate Taliban." When all is said and done, they get an Islamic Republic, albeit one not modeled after Iran or Mullah Omar's Afghanistan.

Speaking of Mullah Omar, I don't think we'll see him again. Like Elvis and the Sasquatch, there will be "sightings," though, for what they are worth.

Iran, in a post-Bam gesture of good will, could offer to surrender Osama bin Laden to the United States. They'll tip him off, of course, and he will "escape" to Pak, but Iran will then assert that they tried, hoping that eases some pressure on them. President Bush is not buying.

The economy does well enough, and my game is politics, not economics, so I won't give you an interest rate prediction. I will say that the stock market isn't going back, but that the dollar will remain weak.

It's early, and I haven't put any names in the blank spaces, but the President will have coattails and the GOP will gain eight Senate seats, including a John Thune upset of a weakened Tom Daschle. This will put them one below the magic number of 60. Max Baucus (D-Montana) will be enticed to make the switch, much to the delight of such as Rhode Island's Linc Chafee, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, and the two gals from Maine.

[Note: Senate Minority leaders, weakened by whatever hits Daschle, are as vulnerable as weakend House Speakers, such as Washington's Tom Foley in '94.]

Look for Senate conservatives to form their own caucus, but look for non-conservatives to seek to appropriate the label by joining. None of the four I beg as overjoyed at the edition of a liberal Baucus to their GOP "Mod Squad" will join. Maybe John Warner of Virginia. California's new Republican Senator -- former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin? -- will not apply.

Osama bin Laden will be captured after the 2004 election. Saddam Hussein will not be tried in 2004. We'll talk about the Cabinet after the election.

I know I have been too specific to hope for a perfect track record, but this is fun stuff. No matter how serious it seems, it has to be taken with the requisite grain of salt, or substitute if, like me, you're keeping an eye on your BP.

Happy New Year!

New Unemployment Claims Drop

New unemployment claims are at their lowest level since the day the President was sworn-in. [ABCNEWS.com] The four-week moving average, more stable, is at its lowest level since February 10, 2001, three weeks after inauguration.

The employment market has survived the Clinton recession. The economy has survived a terrorist attack and two wars. The economy has survived the burst of the Clinton bubble.

It's morning in America.

Monica Lewinsky's Legal Bills

That woman, Miss Lewinsky, has failed in her bid to have the government pay her legal bills in the criminal investigation of former President William Jefferson Clinton, the AP reports Wednesday.
To collect attorneys’ fees, Lewinsky needed to demonstrate that the perjury and obstruction probe of the president would not have occurred except for the now-expired Ethics in Government Act, which led to the appointment of Independent Counsel Ken Starr.
The three-judge panel's conclusion:
“The question is, would evidence of criminal wrongdoing by an incumbent president and accomplices of that president have escaped an investigation of similar scope in the absence of the Ethics in Government Act?” the court stated. “History teaches us that the answer is no.”
So the court found that we (taxpayers) do not have to pay for Monica's attorneys and that authorities didn't need Ken Starr fishing around to suspect Clinton of criminal behavior.

Chris Shays Scares People

Representative Chris Shays (R-Connecticut) isn't buying the words of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. According to a story on the web site of WVIT in Hartford:
"I think it's really irresponsible for our government to tell people that they don't need to take precautions," Shays said. "If Secretary Ridge says, 'Just do what you normally do,' I would say, what do you normally do? If normally, you go to Times Square, I wouldn't do what you normally do.
Shays is a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence,
"I know I wouldn't want to go to Times Square because I know it's a tempting target for terrorists," Shays said Tuesday. "I know I wouldn't let my daughter go."
Nothing specific. The New York City police department will be out in force: police snipers, seven police helicopters, sensors, scanners...

Shays then went on NBC's Today, between segments probably concerning gardening and underwear, and said that one of his guest will be former POW and retired Army Specialist Shoshana Johnson:
"Maybe the congressman should talk to her a little bit about courage. You're going to see a million people here who have the courage to come."
Bad answer, Mike. Celebrating New Years Eve should not be equated with ousting one of the world's most brutal, mutant thugs.

It's Wictory Wednesday again.

The solution is simple. Help reelect President George W. Bush. Click RIGHT HERE to be directed to the page where you can become a Bush Team Leader, an official part of the campaign. You can also join by donating at the campaign's SECURE SERVER. You can make a habit of visiting Political Annotation on Wednesday and sending the President a few dollars every week.

And here is the official Blogroll of the Willing, those who've taken the time and space to spread this important word:


Ashcroft's Recusal: the Democrat Perspective

Well, Schumer, Daschle, and Jay Rockefeller --three Democrat Senators of fine standing -- declared victory, chastised Attorney General John Aschroft for not stepping aside sooner, and looked forward to the results of the investigation into Valerie Plame-gate. Joe Wilson said something, and analysts and scholars will be debating the relevance and impact of his comments until after they've finished their coffee. [See blog post from yesterday.]

There was some regret that Ashcroft replaced himself with a lifetime Justice Department attorney (U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald of Chicago, rather than the special counsel they had sought, but Daschle said he was content to "quickly get to the bottom of this urgent matter and swiftly bring to justice the person or persons responsible." This was not, as the New York Times headline implies, the naming of an independent special counsel and an abject capitulation to Democrat demands.

The candidates for the Dem nomination were, of course, more hostile.

From this AP piece, we have that Lieberman was angry that Fitzgerald was "constrained by Department of Justice regulations that severely curtail the prosecutor's autonomy."

Candidate Dean complained that "the American people deserve a person whose honesty, objectivity and fairness are guaranteed to investigate this serious matter."

Kerry sniped that Fitzgerald is a "Bush political appointee [who carries] the same baggage as John Ashcroft." (On May14, 2001, the Chicago Tribune described Fitzgerald as a "politically independent, career federal prosecutor from New York.")

Deputy Attorney General James Comey will remain the acting AG for the case of the leak regarding that woman, Ms. Plame, As a sidelight, Comey is the U.S. attorney who filed the federal charges against that woman with the napkins, Martha Stewart.



Candidate Kerry's Latest Issue

In the Democrats' political killing fields of Iowa on Monday, candidate John F. Kerry cried the following:
"When we hear statistics like these and when we know how to turn them around, it is flatly unacceptable and irresponsible for the President of the United States to simply look the other way,"
To what was he referring?

The hat is tipped to Viking Pundit for this one.

Of all the matters on which the Democrat candidates have been harping -- jobs, including France in U.S. foreign policy decisions, tax cuts for their "wealthiest one-percent" -- Kerry managed to find a new one. Asthma. No kidding.

Here's this Fox News story.

Ashcroft's Recusal

Why would Attorney General John Ashcroft pick this time, several months into the Joe Wilson-inspired investigation to recuse himself? It seems obvious to me that something is about to happen, perhaps the revelation of the leaker behind Valerie Plame-gate and this is someone with whom Ashcroft is associated as one who serves near President Bush and at his pleasure. If that be the case, then Ashcroft almost had to stand away from the case, as the last thing the President needs as he prepares to begin his campaign for reelection are the quasi-legitimate squeals from the opposition.

Granted, this is what Schumer and his lot have been demanding, but it is not what they demanded. They wanted the AG to step aside before there was a hint that there might be a conflict. Ashcroft seems to have waited until it became apparent, at least to him, that there would be.

Also, this investigation is going to uncover nothing legally actionable. To criminally indict someone on charges of disclosing the name of a CIA agent, there must be grounds to believe that the leaker knew that the release of such information was illegal and leaked it despite this knowledge. The law was created to prosecute government officials who maliciously disclose the names of intelligence agents.

There was no malice, thus there can be no indictment. This finding will contain more credence to critics coming from someone other than a close Bush appointee.

Recusing himself was the smartest thing politically for John Ashcroft to do. Valerie Plame-gate is a minor matter, and the wisest course is not to needlessly allow it to become a more complex and troublesome problem. This sets no deleterious precedent, and the Democrats do not get their "special counsel." (Patrick Fitzgerald, who will head the investigation for the justice department, is a U.S. attorney from Chicago.) This should allow me and my fellow supporter of the President to breathe a sigh of relief.

One wonders if Karl Rove had anything to do with asking Ashcroft to step aside as the smartest move politically. One also wonders, though this could be unrelated, whether Rove was the leaker. As brilliant as Karl Rove is, his strategic mind can be replaced. There is one thing he seems to have, though, which is invaluable in this particular Administration: the President's trust. That's something crucial to this Administration and this election.

My wife tells me to blame Rich Bond. I usually do, so I think I will.


A Better Howard Dean Comparison

We've seen him compared to everyone from George McGovern to George Bush, and I don't see either. I've compared his grassroots organization unfavorably with that of Ross Perot in 1992. I'm looking for something better, and I might have found that comparison in Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.

I read a nifty piece in today's NRO about Khatami and his positions; to wit:
Iran's President Mohammad Khatami voiced his opposition to the death penalty, stating that "he did not even wish for the execution of captive Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein." The very same day, in the northern town of Gonbad-e-Kavoos, an Iranian man convicted of murder was hanged in public, becoming the tenth execution in Iran reported by local press over the past week.
Khatami also denied that his country ever sought to develop nuclear weapons. Speaking at the World Council of Churches in Geneva, the Iranian leader stated that the Islamic religion forbids the use of weapons which kill indiscriminately, saying that "We cannot go and seek a nuclear program because of our religious faith." Once again, it was a good timing for such a statement, just one day following the arrest of nuclear scientists, Dr. Farooq Mehmood and Yasin Chohan by Pakistani authorities, for possible links to the transfer of nuclear-related information to Iran. Dr. Farooq is the director of Pakistan's prestigious nuclear facility, Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL), which developed the country's nuclear and ballistic-missile programs.
The right-sided blogosphere has been replete with examples of Howard Dean's lies. Like Khatami, he's not even good at it.
Iranian president Khatami has accumulated a long list of public lies and deceptions since he became the president in 1997. "The biggest lie," says Reza Bulorchi, the executive director of the U.S. Alliance for a Democratic Iran, "was Khatami himself, the so-called 'moderate reformer.'"
Khatami even has a loyal, grassroots following. These are the people who shout down reformers and demand the deaths of the various infidels.

Dean is not McGovern, Mondale, Carter, or -- gag -- President Bush (as Los Angeles Times columnist Ron Brownstein asserted yesterday). He most resembles Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, who has his own web presence HERE.

Musharraf's New Power in Pak

Geopolitics. Some quick background: Pakistan's President Nawaz Sharif was ousted by coup in October of 1999, and General Pervez Musharraf was installed as military dictator. In June of 2001, he decided that he was the president, and he declared himself to be so. On September 11, 2001, terrorists loosely based in neighboring Afghanistan made General/President Musharraf a player on the world stage. He reestablished a national assembly after elections in 2002. His main battle within Pak has been with the Islamist parties, but the leaders of these parties have no given him new powers [Reuters link] in exchange for his promise to resign as chief of the military by beginning of 2004.

To put Musharraf and Pakistan in a geopolitical context, there have supposedly been several assassination attempts directed at General Musharraf of late. Some geopolitical experts and even some within various world governments have thus stressed that it's not important whether Musharraf lives or dies; rather, the stabilizing factors must stay in place. One wouldn't say such things regarding President Bush or, to use the other side, French President Jacques Chirac. Of course, they are elected leaders of stable nations.

Musharraf's most shiny new power comes in the form of a constitutional amendment, Article 270-AA:
"The Proclamation of Emergency of October 14, 1999, all President's Orders, Ordinances, Chief Executive's Orders... shall not be called in question in any court or forum on any ground whatsoever."
This serves to validate everything he has done to date, including the Emergency Declaration, in which he abolished every last bit of Pakistani government and declared: "The whole of Pakistan will come under the control of the Armed Forces of Pakistan."

Musharraf can also abolish the legislature at any time with the consent of the Pak supreme court.

Opponents inside Pakistan claim that those in the elected leadership are surrendering power to a single man, Musharraf. Others also see this as the militarization of Pakistani governmental institutions. This is true, and it is loathsome. The alternative, though, is an unstable country with enemies and nukes, a whim away from launching death at India and/or becoming a new place for international terrorists to lay their hats. That would inevitably turn into an Islamist dictatorship. This is especially nefarious at a time when democracy is peeking in at that region.

Public Adulation

Good morning. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday evening -- and reported by the Associated Press (via CBSNews, in this case) -- shows that President George W. Bush is the most admired man, receiving top honors from 29-percent of the 1,004 adults surveyed between December 5 and 7, with the usual margin-of-error of plus or minus 3 points.

The President was trailed by Secretary of State Colin Powell and Pope John Paul II with 4-percent.

The woman most admired by those surveyed, given her constant adulation in the media, was Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, given happy account by 16-percent of respondants. Oprah Winfrey received the nod from 7-percent of those who answered, first lady Laura Bush garnered 6-percent and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice won four-percent of the responses.

Those surveyed were not given a list of names from which to choose, so they took whomever first came to mind with little thought or reflection. The President usually receives the most mentions from respondents to the question regarding men, while the first lady is said to usually fare better. But with the constant drumbeat of Hillary stories in the press, her name has to be the most memorized. She's significantly less significant than the media portrays her, but her name is going to spring first to the minds of some of those who hear it a dozen times a day.




A Novel Idea

Candidate John Edwards, the one Democrat who could play with George Bush, has a novel idea for job creation: a tax cut. He's going to give us five-million jobs in two years. From the Associated Press:
Edwards' proposal called for:

- Tax breaks for companies that agree to keep their operations in the country, a move he said would create 52,000 jobs in Iowa alone.

- Targeted tax cuts for middle-class families, which he said would put money in the pockets of 1 million Iowans.

- Creating a first-time homeowner tax credit, which would help 70,000 Iowa families move into a house.

- Offering 120,000 Iowa families a $2,500 tax credit for each new child born, making it easier for at least one parent to stay at home with the infant.

- Offering retirement savings incentives to 980,000 Iowans, offering tax incentives for setting money aside. Another 260,000 families would benefit for a lowered capital gains tax, he said.
He wants to repeal parts of the President's tax cuts which he said benefited the very wealthy, etc.:
"We know that President Bush's tax cuts did not do enough for working people," Edwards said. "But our answer cannot be to raise taxes on those who make the least. We cannot say to the average family of four in Iowa: your taxes are going up by more than $1,700."
That's how much Edwards says that Dean's total repeal would cost middle class families.
"One America does the work, while another America reaps the reward," Edwards said in a speech detailing his efforts to bolster quality of life for middle-class Americans. "One America pays the taxes, while another America gets the tax breaks."
Class warfare, and the wealthy trial lawyer is for the little guy.

He's on a different wavelength than is the imploding frontrunner, and a few thousand Deaniacs on the Internet who do not even know their candidate cannot change much.

Dean's grassroots campaign is no match for that of Ross Perot in 1992. Perot formed a grassroots organization, started a party, dropped out of the race claiming conspiracy, reentered the race, picked a man not cut out to be a politician as his running mate, and still took 19-percent of the vote that November. Dean's campaign is not even in the same league.

approval Ratings, political science, and history

Historically, a President's approval rating late in the year prior to a General Election has predicted the success, or lack thereof, of that President in the next election. Since the second President Roosevelt, every President save one has won a reelection he sought if he finished the year with an approval rating above 50-percent. (The exception was President Carter, who finished the year before the election at 54-percent but ran into destiny in the person of Ronald Reagan.)

Let's look at these end-of-year ratings and the subsequent elections. In 1939, President Roosevelt's approval rating was 64-percent; in 1940, he was reelected. In 1943, he was at 66% and won the next year.

In 1947, President Truman's approval rating was at 54%, and he won in '48. In 1953, his approval rating was under 50%, at 23%. The next year, he dropped out of the race for the Dem nomination after losing the New Hampshire primary to Senator Dick Russell (D-Georgia).

In '55, President Eisenhower's approval rating was 75-percent, and he was reelected the next year.

At the end of 1963, newly sworn-in to lead a nation in mourning, President Johnson's approval rating 74%, he was elected in easily in 1964. In '67, LBJ was at 46-Vietnam-percent and opted not to seek reelection.

In '71, President Nixon was at 50-percent approval and walked over George McGovern the next year.

In 1975, President Ford's approval rating was at 39%, and Carter cleaned his clock in '76.

We mentioned Carter's loss after his 54% rating at the end of the previous year.

President Reagan was also at 54-percent at the end of 1983, and 1984 set records.

GHWB was at 50% at the end of 1991, not over that level, and Clinton defeated him the next year.

Clinton was at 51-percent in '95, and he defeated Bob Dole the next year.

This brings us to 2003. President Bush is at 63%.

Howard Dean can argue that most of that is ancient history, that things are different. This is what I tried to argue in school; my professor told me that a smart analyst does not bet against history without a mitigating factor, such as hostages in Iran and foolish speeches about malaise.

The mitigating factor this time could be Iraq if something disastrous goes down, but that's not likely.

The Dems, right now, need one of two things to go sour: the reconstruction of Iraq or the economy. At this point, I'm inclined to say both. Part of the reason I can speak so confidently of the President's reelection is his approval rating.

Dems' Desperation in the Los Angeles Times

Many liberal pundits have pretty much decided that Howard Dean will be the Democrat nominee, and they no longer appear to back him enthusiastically now that he continues being Howard Dean. The only way they see to plant the sees for a very unlikely Dean victory in the General election, they have acknowledged, is to denigrate the opposition.

In today's Los Angeles Times, Mark Kurlansky posits that Dean has to defeat the racism of Dick Nixon, circa 1968. He argues, feebly, that Republicans win Presidential elections by appealing to the racist, southern yahoos using the racist codeword: "States' rights." We all should know, he intimates, that the term has little to do with the Federalism of Madison and Jefferson; rather, it implies the "the right to own slaves."
Nixon saw his opportunity in the decline of the great civil rights movement and the killing of Martin Luther King Jr. He judged that the South, a solid Democratic bloc that had never forgiven Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans for the Emancipation Proclamation, was furious about 10 years of civil rights progress and was ready to turn on the Democrats, who had received faithful Southern support since before the Civil War. In the end, Nixon defeated the Democrats not because of their worst disaster, Vietnam, but because of their greatest accomplishment, civil rights.
How does one counter such histrionic rhetoric? To argue that the Republicans really do oppose slavery is to lend some sort of credibility to his statement. I can only conclude that Kurlansky is either a sick bastard or is out of his head with desperation. Probably both, if the latter can cause a man to write this hideous tripe, let alone submit it for publication:
Nixon also began a campaign for an anti-civil rights court and in so doing sharpened the division between parties and turned the U.S. Senate into a far meaner place. Lame-duck President Lyndon Johnson had chosen Associate Justice Abe Fortas to be U.S. chief justice. Back in those quaint times, both Republican and Democratic senators recognized the right of the president to have his choice. Fortas had almost overwhelming support from Democrats and Republican leaders. But John Ehrlichman, later Nixon's chief advisor on domestic affairs, worked with Robert Griffin, a GOP senator from Michigan, who got 19 Nixon Republicans to oppose the nomination.
Four decades after the fact, he's attempting to extract false bogeyman from ancient history. (Sick.)

The other example of desperation at the Times is a lot less hateful. Ron Brownstein, in his opinion piece promotes the notion that Dean is George Bush in drag, the liberal version of the President.
The real reason Bush and Dean appear to be twins beneath the skin is that their current political strategies and styles are so similar. Dean has ascended in the Democratic presidential race by defining himself as the anti-Bush.

But in his approach to politics, Dean is now Bush's mirror image, the liberal equivalent of a conservative president.
Before we laugh this one away as a desperate attempt to drag the President to the Dean level by comparison, let us hear what Brownstein has to say.
Almost every major policy decision Bush has made in office — from his tax cuts, to his energy and environmental plans, to his decision to invade Iraq without explicit United Nations authorization — has reflected the preferences of his core conservative supporters, even at the price of alienating moderate swing voters.

As a candidate, Dean has shown the same priority. At every stop, he insists Democrats must shift their attention away from the swing voters that Bill Clinton prized to excite core liberal constituencies like union members, women's groups, minorities and gay rights activists. "We are going to take back the Democratic Party from the idea that the way to win elections is to neglect our base," he insists.
He assumes that when the President makes policy decisions, he is running for reelection. This is a chic theory in trashier liberal circles, that Karl Rove runs the White House. He seems unable to accept that not every President governs as did Bill Clinton. Some have core values and "the vision thing," and President Bush is one of them. And that is the way he campaigns. Dean campaigns in all directions.

Brownstein also asserts that both Dean and the President "share a tendency to sometimes speak before they think, and to dig in deeper when events seemingly demand retreat." He gives no examples, and I can think of none on the President's part. He asserts that Dean, like the President, see the world in black and white terms. Brownstein is either afraid to recognize or incapable of grasping that the world exists in black and white terms. This should be even more apparent now, when the examples have become so suddenly stark.

But if Dean see the world as black versus white -- and not in Kurlansky's ugly sense -- it does not show. He fancies the world to be a billion "dazzling" shades of gray, each to be explored as the mood strikes. Thus Osama bin Laden can be guilty, not-guilty, and "ask the jury." He can switch religions on a bike trail, campaign away from Christ, and call Jesus his preferred role model.

Kurlansky calls the GOP racist and says that for Dean to win, he must defeat that racism. Brownstein says that Dean is Bush in a mirror, and " imitating the president may not be the most promising strategy for beating him.." One paper, two obscenities. Desperation does this to some.

Correcting the Hartford Courant

From today's Hartford Courant:
NEW CASTLE, Del. -- A year ago, if political experts had to choose a candidate who would set Democratic fund-raising records, win Al Gore's endorsement and be in the top tier of presidential contenders at the start of 2004, it would have been Joseph Lieberman.
Wrong, at least here. A year ago, I thought that candidate John Edwards, if anyone, would set Democrat fund-raising records, what with the support from the legal profession and, I incorrectly assumed, his grass roots (which, as it happens, never quite materialized.) He proved me right for the first reporting period, then faded fast.

A year ago, as now, I did not think it mattered in a positive way who would win Al Gore's endorsement. If I would have guessed, it would have been candidate John Kerry. They dig each other. The Gore people consider Lieberman to have been a drain in 2000.

Top tier at the start of '04? Lieberman was one. Gephardt with Iowa, Kerry with New Hampshire, Edwards with South Carolina. I didn't think much of Dean, thinking he was Kucinich in a nurse's outfit.

I did not think Lieberman had a shot at the nomination, as he is not one to excite the electorate (Clinton, Carter) or even fool the electorate into believing they are exited (Mondale, Dukakis).

So I was off the mark, I suppose, but in a different direction.

Move on Moveon.org

Moveon.org is the nebulous Democrat internet organization -- actually three organizations -- which pays for the creation and presentation of amateurish, non-sequitur ads which do nothing but attack the GOP.

The Argus blog contains a thorough and revealing description of Moveon.org, from Sunday.
What I can tell you is that according to MoveOn.org's faq, the San Francisco Foundation Community Initiative Funds, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that is not allowed to attempt to influence the outcome of elections. They aren't doing go directly, but.. Anyway, you can see their 2002 990-PF (PDF) at Guidestar. On page 7, we see expenses that would make our finance committee go nuts, and on page 12, we see that they gave $15,249 to MoveOn.org to raise awareness of the individual's ability to make a difference in American politics (on page 20, it mentions a grant of $17,698, so I don't know if these were two different amounts or the $15,249 was the part related to political activity).
Check it out.

The Dean Juggernaut

Good morning. The bit about the Dean Juggernaut and its secret energy task force -- about which I wrote yesterday afternoon -- seems to be the big political news so far this morning.

The Dean campaign is spinning as best it can, but this was stupidity.

It came on the heels of the Dean Juggernaut threatening Democrats with certain death if he does not win the party's nomination. This is another Dean doing I reported and analyzed yesterday.

This won't affect the Deaniacs, of course, as they've bet the farm on a dolt and stubbornly refuse to be sophisticated enough to look elsewhere. Like Dean related, these people will be dispirited and directionless once Dean is finally dismissed as the clown that he is, and they will drift aimlessly away. The Democrats will have to do it without these folks, which they'd have to do anyway.



Candidate John Edwards

He still thinks he's in it, and I wish it weren't true. Here's is what I wrote this afternoon in the Rightsided Newsletter regarding candidate Edwards on Fox News Sunday this morning:

CANDIDATE JOHN EDWARDS was Chris Wallace's second guest on FNS, and he used the opportunity to introduce some more of his own brand of smarm. Edwards complained that he wants our policy to be "not just pre-emption, but prevention." He went on about "going it alone" and "American occupation," and how it was "just not working." The words seemed hollow, but that is probably because we have been hearing them, in one form and to one extent or another, since 2002.

Candidate Edwards voted against the $87-billion for the soldiers in Iraq. This was not a mere show vote, he insisted. When asked by Wallace, Edwards insisted that he would have voted against the appropriations even if he had been the deciding vote. He maintains that the President's policy has to change, and he saw his vote as the only way to effect that change. (He did not effect much of anything, but that was not his point.) "Yes, sir," he said to Wallace, "because what he [President Bush] was doing in Iraq was a failed policy, and it had to change." It did not change and it is not failing, but again, that's not his point. He accused those who criticize the policy yet wouldn't vote against it with the chips down of merely mouthing opposition. His vote, he insisted, was a form of action.

Edwards is trying to remove the credibility from Dean's contention that he supported the war in Iraq, which is a tough sell when Edwards is telling us that he thinks that the war was just but the policy was wrong. Howard Dean's supporters hate the President, the war, and anything associated with it. (Dean himself continues to vacillate on the finer points.)

Howard Dean recently said that Jesus Christ was his role model [blog post], after months of going on about how the South had to think about things other than "guns, God and gays.” It was Edwards who first criticized Dean last month for refusing to discuss values, and he continued to insist that such a discussion was important, though "I have no idea [what Dean's doing]. Dean can speak for himself." Edwards insisted that the Dems will win a debate of values with the President because "his values are not the values of the American people" and "we shouldn't concede any of these issues."

Edwards is, of course, lagging far behind in the polls, though he looks to something else for signs of his campaign's success. "You can feel the response. You can feel the momentum," he told Wallace, though it is safe to assume that if all one attended were Edwards rallies -- as does, of course, the candidate -- one would come away with the impression that Edwards is going to win everything in sight. Edwards insists that minds are not made up until January, when he suggests "there will be a substantial movement" towards his candidacy.

"I'm absolutely not interest in being vice president," he told Wallace in response to the question.
That's Edwards. He says this all with a straight face, and, you know, you damn well feel like you ought to believe him, 'cos shucks…

He's a great liar.

From the transcript:
WALLACE: Senator, since then, through diplomacy, Libya has agreed to give up all its weapons of mass destruction; Iran has agreed to surprise inspections.

In fact, hasn't the Bush policy of getting tough with other nations, hasn't that proven to be effective?

EDWARDS: No, it hasn't, Chris. Because what's happening is, we have, for example, a nuclear nonproliferation treaty that's full of holes, very difficult to enforce.

And because America is not showing leadership in bringing other countries from around the world together -- and what I talked about in addition in that speech that you didn't show was forming a nuclear global compact, where America leads and brings other leading nations from around the world to set real standards to stop nuclear proliferation and have real enforcement mechanisms.
That was a beautifully told lie. Whether or not you can see through it is not the point. You are not the typical American voter. The typical American voter wouldn't be caught dead reading something like this blog. You have your own savvy, knowing what to look for and which end is up. Some people are easily fooled. (Forty-three percent in 1992, anyway.)
WALLACE: … Senator, didn't you vote to go to war when it was popular, and then when things started going badly didn't you choose to vote against the $87 billion to support the troops?

EDWARDS: Absolutely not. What I said from the very beginning is that I thought Saddam Hussein was a serious threat, one that needed to be dealt with. I voted for the resolution. I stand by that decision. I did what I believed was right at the time.

Now, I also said at the same time that in order for us to be successful in Iraq, that it would be critical when we reached this stage for there to be a clear plan for what we would do and, second, for this to be an international operation, not just an American occupation.

And when the vote on the $87 billion came before the Congress, this was my chance, and other members of Congress' chance, to say the policy, the Bush policy in Iraq right now -- not working with others, doing this alone, an American occupation -- was not working. And we needed to change course.
The man voted for the war then voted not to support the troops, but he is capable of saying that this was not the case. He was sending a message.
WALLACE: Well, let's talk about the contest, the race. You have been campaigning around the country for months. You've spent millions of dollars on TV commercials. But the numbers indicate that you haven't caught on. Let's look at the latest polls.

In the latest Iowa poll, you're running fourth, with 5 percent support. And in the latest New Hampshire poll, you're running fourth, with 6 percent support.
Senator, what's the problem?

EDWARDS: Oh, there's no problem. If you're me and you're here on the ground and you see what's happening, I have a lead here in South Carolina which will be the third key primary state. In Iowa and New Hampshire, I've been moving up. There are other polls that show me doing much better than those numbers you just showed.
Suddenly, he's leading the field or within striking distance.

Look beyond the goofy grin with this one, at least unless or until he's through.

Dean Threatens Dems

The other Sunday Morning material pales in comparison to the sounds of the ongoing implosion of Howard Dean. Now, Time Magazine's Karen Tumulty claimed that "we all" (the political press) had been expecting Howard Dean to implode for months, but it didn't seem to be happening no matter what he did. The political press only recently began toying with the notion of a Dean implosion. I've been writing about it since before the birth of the blog last August, when Dean's campaign was beginning to take on an air of a surge to the top. I could very well be explaining my miscalculation when it doesn't happen, but I still believe it will and Dean will not be the Dem nominee.

Case in point: the Associate Press reports today out of Des Moines that candidate Dean is threatening the Democrat Party with mass desertions if he does not win the nomination. He explains that "millions" of new people have become active in the Democrat Party and will stay home if he doesn't get the party's nod.
"If I don't win the nomination, where do you think those million and a half people, half a million on the Internet, where do you think they're going to go?" he said during a meeting with reporters. "I don't know where they're going to go. They're certainly not going to vote for a conventional Washington politician."
But if Dean does win the nomination, the other Democrat voters might stay home rather than vote for him. There are more Democrats who like someone other than Dean that who support Dean.

With his statement, Dean has further polarized the Democrat Party into the pro-Dean neo-beatnicks and the rest. That being said, the Democrats need to go through this exercise, as they did in 1984, in order to credibly field a candidate in 2008.


Dean had Secret Energy Task Force

Listening to candidate Howard Dean self-righteously demand the release of the record of the Administration's Energy Policy Task Force chaired by Vice President had all the earmarks of a losing challenger picking all the old, rehashed issues for something which will work against the President with more than just the simple-minded Deaniacs. As the Associated Press reports today, it was also pure hypocrisy.
[A]s Vermont governor, Dean had an energy task force that met in secret and angered state lawmakers.

Dean's group held one public hearing and after-the-fact volunteered the names of industry executives and liberal advocates it consulted in private, but the Vermont governor refused to open the task force's closed-door deliberations.

In 1999, Dean offered the same argument the Bush administration uses today for keeping deliberations of a policy task force secret.

"The governor needs to receive advice from time to time in closed session. As every person in government knows, sometimes you get more open discussion when it's not public," Dean was quoted as saying.

Dean's own dispute over the secrecy of a Vermont task force that devised a policy for restructuring the state's near-bankrupt electric utilities has escaped national attention, even though he has attacked a similar arrangement used by President Bush.
The Dean campaign has protested that the two energy task forces are not comparable (for specious reasons)but:
"In general, what is good for the vice president should be good for the governor. A candidate who attacks on grounds he is vulnerable is foolish," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a University of Pennsylvania professor who helps run a Web site that compares presidential candidates' rhetoric to the facts.
Read the AP Piece and rest assured that Karl Rove could tell you even more about Dean's task force. As I said months go, Deans lines could work in the Democrat primaries but cannot be run from in the General Election.


Face the Nation, Deaniacs, and Perot

Host Bob Schieffer had on his show New York Times columnist David Brooks, Karen Tumulty from TIME Magazine, and Dan Balz -- full glare -- from the Washington Times.

Brooks noted that the United States is the most powerful nation in the world and asked: What are we going to do with that power? Tumulty pointed out that more U.S. soldiers have been killed since combat ended than during the actual war.

I found it interesting that she did not use false qualifier "since President Bush declared the end of combat operations." Perhaps the tale that President Bush went onto the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and declared the war over was not having its desired effect.

Balz went on about Howie Dean: "He seems to be the first candidate to bring Democrats into the process." He emphasized the internet, how Dean was doing something revolutionary by making ordinary people feel a part of the campaign, a part of the process. Balz has forgotten Ross Perot in 1992.

Remember, Perot started a group -- United We Stand, America -- which included regular people become active in politics for the first time in their lives. They were part of the process, they thought. They held meetings, get-togethers, meetups, and picnics. They made bylaws and received faxes from Dallas. And it was all centered around a charismatic lunatic.

It's happening again with the Deaniacs, updated for the Internet age.

The main difference between the Perotistas and the Deaniacs resides, of course, in their leaders. Ross Perot was serious, while Howard Dean is a driven fraud.

Brooks complained that Republicans listen to Rush Limbaugh and cannot name famous authors, while Democrats don't know how to make gumbo. ("Different worlds," was his term.) His other theory is that people now feud about the political leaders they hate -- Clinton, Bush -- while they pretty much have all become centrist on the issues. I hope he listens to the tape and regrets opening his mouth, because those thoughts are not connected with reality.

Brooks thinks gay marriage is the "most divisive [topic of] social debate," but he does not see it becoming a major issue in the election. I had said that the issue lacks the fundamental importance of gun ownership rights or abortion.

Schieffer said that candidate Gephardt has the greatest chance of defeating Dean, after an Iowa victory. They all agreed that Jacko was the most disturbing story of the year, and Ed Bradley's interview with Jacko will be aired on CBS this evening.


Mission Accomplished

This afternoon's Rightsided Newsletter has been delivered to Inboxes worldwide, with a discussion of Chris Cox on FNS, candidate John Edwards on FNS, and sub-host Terry Moran's talkers on TW.

In this space later, I'll have a look at Bob Schieffer's chatterheads on FTN, Wolfgang Blitzer and Rudy Giuliani on tape for LE, and sub-host John King's roundabout with Rangel on Dreier on LE.

The RSN itself, the online version, is linked above if you want to check out what was said on the Sunday shows, and you can subscribe there as well.


The Sunday morning Talk

MTP: NBC’s Meet the Press with Tim Russert
FNS: FOX’s Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace
FTN: CBS’s Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer
TW: ABC’s This Week with former Clinton staffer George Stephanopoulos
LE: CNN’s Late Edition with Wolfgang Blitzer

Well, it looks like the traditional "Year in Review" weekend for the Sunday talkers. On MTP, host Russert will talk to Laura Bush, which is always nice, and Carolyn Kennedy Schlossberg, whose father was President four decades ago.

On FNS, host Wallace talks to candidate John Edwards. His political press keeps repeating that he's a bundle of boyish charm with a nice hairstyle, but they keep offering him opportunities to emerge. Perhaps born of pity, it nevertheless gives the man the opportunity to lie to a national audience. This is dangerous, because he is the best damn liar in the field.

The other FNS guest is Representative Christopher Cox (R-California), who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee. Perhaps he'll be asked about the Frenchies and their blasé attitude towards the terrorist scare over the Christmas holiday.

FTN looks like a throwaway, with host Schieffer chatting with some myopic media types: Columnist David Brooks and journalists Dan Balz, Kimberly Dozier and Karen Tumulty. (Actually, Brooks is one of the better New York Times columnists. Honest. He used to write for the neocon journal The Weekly Standard.)

On TW, Steph talks to White House economic advisor Larry Lindsey and yesterday's news, former Clinton secretary of labor Robert Reich. Gingrich will be a guest, providing a foot-in-mouth role model for candidate Howard Dean if he's watching, as will from Clinton chief of staff Leon Panetta. Besides Lindsey, Steph will be taking the 1990s to a taxidermist and putting them on display so we can poke sticks at them.

On LE, host Wolfgang Blitzer Talks to Representatives Chuck Rangel (D-New York), who has been in a particularly foul mod of late, and David Dreier (R-California), one of Governor Schwarzenegger's boyz. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter's failed national security advisor, will be along to complain bitterly about something.

I'lll review and analyze them for the free Rightsided Newsletter, with the extra stuff appearing in this space.




Tomorrow Morning is Sunday Morning

Which means that I will watch all five Sunday Morning Public Affairs Talk Shows: NBC's Meet the Press, with Tim Russert; FOX's Fox News Sunday, with Chris Wallace; CBS's Face the Nation, with Bob Schieffer; ABC's This Week, with George Stephanopoulos; and CNN's Late Edition, with Wolf Blitzer.

I have to get a macro for that.

I review and analyze these shows for the Rightsided Newsletter, which is sent free to Inboxes around the world. I have been doing the newsletter and the Sunday shows since 1997.

To subscribe: visit the web site, or send a blank e-mail to rsn-subscribe [AT] topica.com.

I'll talk to you tomorrow.

Iraqi Oil belongs to the Iraqi People

On the WSJ editorial page on the web -- Opinion Journal -- today, Vernon L. Smith issues an interesting notion: The Iraqi People's Fund.
This is the time, and Iraq is the place, to create an economic system embracing the revolutionary principle that public assets belong directly to the public--and can be managed to further individual benefit and free choice, without intermediate government ownership in the public name.
Amen and amen.

He posits that the future Iraqi government will be "tempted to corruption, violation of rights and expanded political power" if it owns the assets, so give them to the Iraqi people. Here's his proposal:
Over a period of several decades, all Iraqi assets should be auctioned to the highest bidders in an individual, national and international business competition so that each asset or bundle of complimentary assets is transferred to the bidders who value them most for production, development or exploration. The auction could begin by selling existing producing oil properties, refineries, pipelines, and gathering, separating and terminal facilities over the next several years, then move to mineral, oil and gas exploration leases, and to land surface rights.
This sounds great, but who makes the sale and who collects the proceeds? Saddam's no longer in any position to do so, after all.

Under Dr. Smith's plan, I'd assume the United States conducts the auctions. As for the proceeds:
The proceeds would be deposited in a giant mutual fund for investment in index securities of the world's stock markets and monitored--but not managed--by the U.N. Investing in stock indexes would minimize the need for discretionary financial management, and the prospect of the next government exercising or re-establishing any central control over Iraqi assets. The Iraqi Fund should be a closed-end fund whose shares are tradable and listed on world stock exchanges. The proceeds of each new property auction would be deposited to the account for investment in index funds. Redemptions at market value would go to any Iraqi citizen who elects at any time to cash out any portion of his shares.
This plan, I think, deserves a closer study, but I'd immediately nix any possible United Nations role. That organization is directionless, corrupt, and morally bankrupt. The fund should be monitored by a board made up of representatives selected by the governments of the member countries of the Coalition of the Willing, with advisory/monitor roles for countries like France, Germany, Russian, and the Kingdom of Belgium if that will placate them.

Also, we must take into account that the Obstinate Block -- France, Germany, Russia, the Kingdom of Belgium -- have dibs on those proceeds, as do Iraq's neighbors, countries we'd like to see follow Iraq's democratic suit. Cash infusions are not a way to crunch governments.

But I like the thought, and I'll have to trust the good doctor on the feasibility of the economic aspects.

Kerry's Desperation is Showing

Question: If candidate John Kerry -- wannabe spawn of the real J.F.K. -- looked as if his desperation were showing, would anybody notice? (The forest is optional but would look good for New Hampshire.)

Look at what the Associated Press dragged in:
With a month to go before the New Hampshire primary, John Kerry says voters must choose between Democratic front-runner Howard Dean or a more centrist candidate like himself.
Candidate Kerry's lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union was six out of a hundred. That is only one point better than 5/100. Although his rating will probably be in the 20s for this year, depending on the votes the ACU chooses, that will be an election-year deviation and still very, very lefty. His life ACU, 6, is identical to that of Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York), whom we need not call a centrist Senator.

By contrast, candidate John Edwards's ACU is a 15 and candidate Joe Lieberman a 20. While these are not centrist scores, they reflect a touch more moderation than does Kerry's record. (Dennis Kucinich, scored on House votes, rates a 13 out of 100, also clearly to the Right -- if I may use that term in connection with this man -- of Kerry.)
Kerry said "we can't beat George Bush by being Bush-lite," referring to Dean's criticism of more centrist Democratic candidates.

"But we also won't beat George Bush by being light on national security, light on fairness for middle-class Americans or light on the values that make us Democrats."

Kerry told New Hampshire voters "the nation looks to you to determine the character and direction of our party."
What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson? (Didn't Al Gore assert that Simon and Garfunkle wrote that song about him?)

Wait for OBL's Trial

Good morning. A good deal has been written about candidate Howard Dean's comments in Friday's Concord Monitor [CNN story] ostensibly that Osama bin Laden is innocent until convicted by a jury of his peers.
"I've resisted pronouncing a sentence before guilt is found," Dean said in the interview. "I will have this old-fashioned notion that even with people like Osama, who is very likely to be found guilty, we should do our best not to, in positions of executive power, not to prejudge jury trials."

Dean added he is certain most Americans agree with that sentiment.
He could have avoided the fuss by looking at a hypothetical: "If found guilty," a smarter Dean would have said, "I think he should receive the maximum/minimum sentence prescribed by law." Howie made an amateur mistake in answering the way he did, but he has made quite a lot of such mistakes and will undoubtedly continue making them apace.

Dean's boyz got their candidate back on track later:
Later, Dean released a statement clarifying, "I share the outrage of all Americans. Osama bin Laden has admitted that he is responsible for killing 3,000 Americans as well as scores of men, women and children around the world. This is the exactly the kind of case that the death penalty is meant for.

"When we capture Osama bin Laden, he will be brought to justice and treated in the same manner that President Bush is recommending for Saddam Hussein."
That is better, but what is behind his mention of President Bush recommending a sentence for Saddam Hussein? He is stating that, according to his revised opinion, bin Laden deserves the death penalty while Saddam Hussein does not.

Bin Laden has not admitted that he is responsible for killing 3,000 Americans and others. He has never directly admitted his guilt.

But the important item to take from Dean's latest is his acknowledgment that Osama bin Laden will be captured. President Bush has assured us that OBL will be captured eventually, and Dean had up until this interview scoffed at the notion.



Democratic Toast

Dr. Taylor over at PoliBlog handicaps the race for the Dem nomination, post-Christmas, and there are not many surprises. [link] The candidates, in his presentation, are slices of bread at various stages of toast-hood, ranging from candidate Dean ("Wonder Bread fortified with vitamins With Yummy Vermont Syrup on top") down the axis of the forgotten -- candidates Kucinich, Sharpton, and Mosley-Braun ("Crumbs at the bottom of the toaster").

But doesn't Howard have a bit of egg on him? (These breakfasts are tricky things. Sometimes it sticks, sometimes…)

It's well worth a look, with lots of links imbedded!

Scripps-Howard Election Predictions

The Scripps-Howard news service has made what it calls "educated hunches, and here are the political predictions:
Howard Dean swiftly takes the Democratic nomination and picks New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as his veep. But George Bush and Dick Cheney win in a rout reminiscent of the drubbing Ronald Reagan gave Walter Mondale. Look for Dean to carry no more than 10 states, including his home, electoral-vote midget Vermont.
President Reagan won 49 States, with Fritz barely winning his home State of Minnesota, after suspected voter fraud, and the District of Columbia. Not even close.

And they forget the pending Dean implosion, which he just might be able to talk around. Dean won't win the South, no matter Whose name he takes in vain.
The Republican grip on Congress strengthens. Aggressive Texas redistricting boosts GOP's current 229-205-1 House margin by at least seven Republican lawmakers. In the Senate, retirements of veteran southern Democrats give the GOP a pick-up of four seats, for a 55-44-1 majority.
I don't know how they arrived at their figures, but it sounds good to me. I'm holding outside hope for 60 in the Senate, though.

They have a few other predictions which caught my eye:
Lots of talk but no action on a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a man-woman institution only. Gay marriage replaces guns and abortions as a leading cultural issue in the elections. The Supreme Court devises some clever technicality to avoid stripping the Pledge of Allegiance of the words "under God."
Gay marriage does not have the fundamental cachet of guns and abortions. It's not even close. The Supreme Court does not need a "clever technicality" to keep the Pledge of Allegiance as is. The Ninth Circuit need one to remove that expression.
Hot colors: Warm and earthy tones, with touches of electric blue and orange to spice things up.
Look for the color of 2004 to be Red, as in Red States on the electoral map.

Forgive me, but I enjoy these goofy predictions. Since I'm blogging this year, I just might make something up next week.

Dean and McGovern/Dean's "Religion"

I am listening to Bruckner's Sixth Symphony as I type this, so this subject might seem credible to me. I know it's not, but I'll humor the notion. The Boston Globe tells us today that Howard Dean's supporters reject comparisons of their candidate to George McGovern.
But the Peterses are wary of suggestions that anything more direct than their own bloodline connects the two presidential hopefuls. They concede there are striking similarities between the two campaigns. But they, like other Dean supporters, are troubled by comparisons between the two men, because of what McGovern has come to symbolize in American politics. Cast as a lefty peacenik, McGovern was trounced in every state but one by incumbent Richard Nixon in 1972.
He "Peterses" are a family wherein the parents were ticked off about a war and supported McGovern in '72 and the son is ticked off about a war and supports Dean one score and a dozen years later.
"And so McGovern has just become a word that you use, for someone who is a loser," said Fran Peters, 65. "Someone who loses everything except crazy Massachusetts."

In the decades since his defeat, and especially recently, McGovern's fate has been used by party centrists as a cautionary tale, proof that straying too far to the left is general election suicide. This year, leaders of the Democratic Leadership Council compared Dean to McGovern in arguing why he should not be the party's nominee in 2004. Republicans have drawn the parallel with some glee.
The campaigns can be compared, I think, but only in that the main block of strong supporters of both campaigns are/were bored twits who want something to believe in and thus have decided to play politics. And both campaigns are/will be losers.

The two men are nothing alike. George McGovern, for all that he was, had a set of beliefs which guided him, Howard Dean, on the other hand, is a vacuum. He's gone so far now, according to the Washington Times, as to hijack the name of Jesus Christ to win votes in the south:
Jesus is an important influence in his life, he told the Globe interviewer, and he probably will talk to voters about how Jesus has served as a "model" for him.
Dean takes the good and improves on the bad, which is what we do when we have a model. And think about that statement.

Right now, with support and endorsements as they are, Howard Dean is the soulless candidate of the Democrat establishment.

Like McGovern? Only in that his supporters are clueless and his campaign is a sure loser. After all these years, it is time to give George McGovern a little credit.


Japense ties with U.S. more important than with the U.N.

To us, it should seem obvious that Japan's relationship with the United States is much more important that that with the United Nations, and vice versa. The French wire AFP reports critically, quoting Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage from a Tuesday interview with a Japanese news agency:
"I would say that the most important document signed by Japan in the post-war era was the Japan-US security treaty back in 1960," he told the Tokyo-based economic daily.

"Joining the UN and signing under the banner of the UN would be the second," he was quoted as saying.
Secretary Armitage referred to the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between Japan and the United States of America, signed on January 19, 1960.

I agree with his premise, but the 1960 treaty is partially subservient to the United Nations charter, with the language:
The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international disputes in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations. The Parties will endeavor in concert with other peace-loving countries to strengthen the United Nations so that its mission of maintaining international peace and security may be discharged more effectively.
Also Article VII:
This Treaty does not affect and shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way the rights and obligations of the Parties under the Charter of the United Nations or the responsibility of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security.
So technically, it could not be more important than the all-absorbing U.N. treaty. Or it wasn't at the time it was signed, when the United Nations was at least considered a tool for world peace. The U.N. has since become an organization which acts mainly to issue forth prattle and condemn the Unites States and Israel, as well as to attempt to redistribute global wealth, and thus the charter is scarcely worth the effort which went into it.

Japan is sending troops to Iraq, and is working on its share of the Iraqi debt.


Dean's Consistent Implosion

Good morning, The morning announcer on Classical 103.5 -- to me, an internet stream out of DC -- assures me that today is the second day of Christmas and there are, in fact, a dozen such days. But it's back to blogging, which is a wonderful thing in and of itself.

I refer you to the December 26 editorial in the St. Petersburg Times: Dean's diversions -
The Democratic front-runner keeps committing gaffes that divert attention from more serious issues and raise questions about his electability
. His implosion is nothing if not consistent.

The Times editorial board lists Dean's insistence that his brother was a military war hero, his invitation to klansmen to join his campaign, and his assertion that President Bush had planned 9-11 to foster a financial windfall for his cronies. (My reporting of Dean's gaffes was exaggerated on all three counts, but that is what happens even to the most innocent mistake on the campaign trail. Dean's were not by any means innocent.)

The editorial mentions Dean's assault on the Democrat Party First, Dean had asserted that Clinton had taken the country in the wrong direction by insisting that "the era of big government is over," then he called members of the Democrat Leadership Council (DLC), "The Republican Wing of the Democrat Party."

Does this tendency for awful campaigning indicate that Howard Dean will implode? Not necessarily. You see, he's surrounded his campaign with "Deaniacs." These folks are similar to the followers of Ross Perot in 1992: a group of previously politically inactive people who find a charismatic (to them) candidate who makes them feel empowered. To these people, who whom Howard Dean is a sort of empowering savior, Dean can do no wrong.

These Deaniacs suddenly feel important because of Dean. They are part of the "Dean insurgency." Like the Perotistas took orders from Dallas, they take their orders from the Dean campaign. They are easily led to action by Trippi and the Deanies because they are still politically malleable and naïve and -- yes -- ignorant.

How unsophisticated are they? Well, there is a woman, a Deaniac, in the comments areas of the Blogs for Bush weblog citing an Al Franken book, "meticulously researched," as evidence that Republicans lie. Franken is not a political writer. He scribbles for the blinded and easily led Democrat masses who are hungry for dross, and he and his puppeteers are quite content to go on feeding them garbage. This is not the stuff of rational and cognitive people.

But Dean's got the Deaniacs. The Times editorial concludes:
Dean's stumbles haven't hurt him in surveys of party voters, largely because the other Democratic candidates haven't offered a very appealing alternative. Dean early on staked out a clear position in opposition to the war in Iraq, while most of the other candidates waffled. He also is a forceful critic of Bush administration social and economic policies, and his campaign's innovative use of the Internet has energized the party's base. That early momentum may be enough to carry Dean through a front-loaded nomination process that could be all but over by early February.

But the rash comments betray a lack of discipline - perhaps even a whiff of arrogance - that could doom Dean in a general election campaign against President Bush. So far, Dean hasn't shown the flexibility needed to transform his intraparty insurgency into a broader appeal to Democrats, Republicans and independents. Unless he does, the Democrats who have rushed to support him could make a decision in haste that they could come to regret before November.
In actuality, the Deaniacs do not understand this. They and their candidate make bigger asses of themselves as the days pass, but as long as they do not recognize it, they continue what they are doing.

Isn't it time someone told them they have a giant "KICK ME" sign taped to their collective back?



Merry Christmas

This was the beginning of today's Rightsided Newsletter:

I can wish you a Merry Christmas, and I can quote from the Gospel of Luke to let you know what my family and I are commemorating:

Luke 2:1-14

" In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”" (Luke 2:1-14, NABWRNT)

It's an amazing event -- God becomes man for the purposes of our salvation -- and it takes a dollop of faith to follow. And it challenges the intellect to even begin to comprehend.

I wish each of you a Merry Christmas.


Christmas Eve Conversations

Last evening at my father's house, my brother-in-law approached me to discuss the President. He had some observations, and he wanted to share them. My sister came over to join us at the start. Now, as foreign as it may seem to some of us, politics were not their first concern, but they know it is often mine.

We talked about the effect catching Saddam had on the President's approval. He saw boost, and we agreed that it was not merely for the fact of having caught the guy but because it gave us confidence that things were going well, that it wasn't a quagmire.

They wanted affirmation of what they thought: that it will be nearly impossible to defeat the President next year. I told them that they Democrats needed the economy to sour or the war in Iraq to go badly, quite probably both, in order to win next November.

My brother-in-law was enthusiastic when he noted that this President has had more happen to him, more adversity, than any President in his lifetime. And that the president handles it all with a smile and a certainty.

They talked about the Diane Sawyer interview, and my sister wanted to slap her. It annoyed her the way she pressed, tried to get the President to slip. On the WMD issue, she paraphrased the President's final answer to Ms. Sawyer: "Look, you can ask me that question any way you want, but my answer is going to be the same."

My brother-in-law candidly said he does not think that Saddam had any WMD when we attacked. He pointed out that Saddam had weapons in the past, had programs to develop, and would have developed them if given the chance.

Now, I'm not accusing my family of being typical Americans or even atypical Americans. It struck me that you do not need to study this, be educated in how to analyze it, etc., to see what is happening. This is not a nation of Deaniacs.



One more thing...

I'm waiting for someone to blame President Bush for ticking off that cow with his "unilateralist cowboy go-it-alone," etc. This sounds like something candidate Gephardt might do.

All Howie Wants for Christmas…

It's Christmas Eve, and that much is not lost on me. But CNN reported this afternoon:
In a filing Tuesday with the Vermont Superior Court, Attorney General William Sorrell asked the court to dismiss the complaint filed by Washington-based group Judicial Watch, which is seeking to unseal the records.

"Judicial Watch Inc. is not presently entitled to inspect the gubernatorial papers that were sealed by Governor Dean," the filing said.
On another note, we were just at my father's house for Christmas Even dinner. My uncle was there. He and I had a "history" of heated political discussions. We sat there, with my brother, and traded theories and observations. I can learn from listening to him, and he from me. We can enjoy our discussion.

It would be interesting if all conservatives and liberals could engage each other in such discussions, maybe figure out what's going in inside each other's head. But that would require respect, and there aren't that many liberals I respect. And some liberals don't seem to respect much of anything.


Gephardt on Dean/Clark '04

Candidate Wes Clark said candidate Howard Dean asked the general to be his veep last September. Dean and his boy Joe Trippi say Clark was never asked. And everyone thinks it is kind of funny.

According to this piece in the Des Moines register, candidate Dick Gephardt thinks that if Dean did ask Clark, Dean's getting ahead of himself:
"I've never thought that we should get ahead of ourselves," said Gephardt, a Missouri congressman. "We've got to have the people make the decision, not the prognosticators and predictors. A lot of what's going on in the last year is like a daily racing form: Who's going to win? We've got to get to the people speaking."
That's what he must say.

The Dean/Clark '04 story did not break Monday on CNN. It broke Sunday morning on ABC's This Week with Steph, in a taped interview Steph showed to Trippi and to his audience of several score Americans.

A lot of talk on the wire has been that surely Clarkie is telling the truth, since Dean cannot help but lie. While this is true, I have a different take: Clark makes stuff up. People call him and tell him to blame Saddam for 9-11, the murderous punk Milosevic spills out his most deeply held secrets to him, top-level military brass walk up to him and offer that the Bush Administration plans to invade Libya, Syria, Iran, and every other gawdforsaken place on the map. Clark is delusional. (I've spelled this before.)

This is a sad cast.

The President was a Global Running Joke

Before he took the decision to attack Iraq, the Russians sought other means to convince the President to do so. Fearing that his hormones might be in an uproar, some members of the Russian Duma sought to convince the president's young lover to take the necessary steps.

Yes, we're going back five years to this story from USA Today:
''The State Duma appeals to Ms. Lewinsky to undertake corresponding measures to restrain the emotions of Bill Clinton,'' said the motion by nationalist lawmaker Alexander Filatov.

''Many people link it with Clinton's impeachment and his intimate relations with a certain person, but if these relations develop into such acts of vandalism, than all of U.S. democracy is worth a penny,'' Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov told a Duma debate on the Iraqi crisis.
Not that the Russian Communists should be taken any more seriously than President Clinton. They again, they both used to run their respective countries (Clinton for one term only).


It's Christmas Eve

It's also Wictory Wednesday. Politics is politics, and as crass and commercial as it may seem at first glance, the campaign continues. We must reelect President Bush. The media-driven Dem frontrunner, candidate Howie Dean, picked his church based on a bike path. Candidate Wes Clark selected a church the fit his personal needs, which might well be one of Howie's bike paths but is not way to acknowledge a Higher Power.

So what do I, a person who might just exist only on the Internet, recommend? Help reelect President George W. Bush. Click RIGHT HERE to be directed to the page where you can become a Bush Team Leader, an official part of the campaign. You can also join by donating at the campaign's SECURE SERVER. You can make a habit of visiting Political Annotation on Wednesday and sending the President a few dollars every week.

And here is the all-important, official Blogroll of the Willing, those who've taken the time and space to spread this important word:


Kerry's Campaign Running on Ketchup Fumes

Good morning. I just read that, as planned, candidate John F Kerry has lent his own "financially strapped presidential campaign" $6.4-million. It seems that the true believers were not digging deeply enough into their pockets or, more likely, that there weren't enough true believers. By law, none of this money can be purely ketchup money -- borrowed from his wife, ketchup heiress Teresa Heinz -- although it was partially ketchup money.
Kerry borrowed the $6.4 million from the Mellon Trust of New England, which granted a mortgage on his half of the home that Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, own on Beacon Hill's Louisburg Square.

The mortgage features an adjustable rate starting at 3.125 percent, and the payments will be interest-only for the first 10 years of the 30-year loan. According to calculations by the Mortgage Bankers Association, Kerry's monthly payments during the first year will be $16,667, or $200,000 a year.
Now, if the down payment on this home was made with ketchup money -- as seems likely -- I'd argue that this at least has the strong taint of being ketchup money.

No matter. Kerry's running on borrowed ketchup money to be repaid with ketchup money.

For child actor Tony "Spanky" Blankley, a conservative of the "so-called" variety, is said to have declared Kerry's campaign dead last summer. Taking the realistic tack, I ignored him and continue to do so. Anything could happen. The race for the Dem nomination is shaping up to be one between Howard Dean and the incoming Anti-Dean. Many think this will be candidate Lieberman, some think it will be candidate Gephardt. I fear it will be candidate John Edwards, but Kerry is betting ketchup money that it will be him.
Kerry, whose 2002 income was $144,091, according to tax returns, must pay off the mortgage himself and cannot use his wife's fortune, estimated at $500 million. The $6.4 million is a loan to the campaign. Kerry can be repaid in full with contributions from individual donors until the primary season ends at the Democratic convention in July. After that, the campaign would be allowed to repay him a maximum of $250,000, according to the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.
He'll find the loopholes.

The Kerry campaign is running on ketchup fumes.



OBL in Iran

WorldNetDaily reports today that the world's least favorite case of renal disease, Osama B. Laden, is hiding in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The sources claim he is in Iranian territory in the border area with Pakistan, where he reportedly is being assisted by the Pakistani Secret Service ISI, which previously had assisted many ex-Taliban and al-Qaida fugitives to find safe harbor.

The most recent report also dovetails with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's announcement last summer that he had sent his own army into the northern tribal areas near the border with Iran to ferret out bin Laden.
The article cites Fox News Channel foreign affairs and terrorism analyst Mansoor Ijazz as placing bin Laden in Iran as far back as November. I heard Ijazz say the same thing with more certainty and due immediacy as late as Monday. The man has the contacts and the wings to be aware of the pulse and the goings-on in that region.

It is a shame, but I think the easiest course would be to take out a few mullahs, let them know that life is not safe for people with their deliberate mindset. It's tough to be the good guy.

Why support Clark?

In this CNN piece, Karen Walker, 56, "a Democrat who works at the Medical College of Ohio," tells us why she will vote for candidate Wesley Clark:
"Because he is a West Point graduate. He is a very smart individual. ... I believe he would be good in a foreign country."
Send him there.

Estrich: Dean=Reagan

Susan Estrich has made some asinine statements in the past, but none so outrageously dunderheaded as this one: Can Dean find success as a liberal’s Reagan? My God, woman, have you no dignity, propriety, or sense?

She opens by pointing out that the world was wrong for insisting that Howard Dean's campaign would fall to bits after the capture of Saddam Hussein. I know of no one, perhaps aside from some in the errant political press, who made such an assertion, and I doubt she does either. She's fabricating her premise just to prove it wrong, and her man is made out of straw. But this is a sideshow. As is this:
Whatever else happens, Howard Dean has used the war in Iraq to establish a national reputation as a politician willing to take a stand and stick with it.
Wrong. Before he "established his postion," he was quaking a little to and a little fro. I'm still unsure as to whether he would have considered the war to be justified with Kofi's okay. Howard Dean has taken no stands to which he's stuck. This anti-war kick is merely a bit of stubborn obstinance. He sees his objection to be his only chance at winning the Dem monition.

[For more on how much Dean is unable "to take a stand and stick with it," see Dean shifts on array of issues, from MSNBC.]

She establishes that Dean is a liberal.

An article in today's (Tuesday) Los Angeles Times argues that he is a centrist:
While Dean shares much of the group's [Democrat Leadership Council (DLC)] political philosophy, conservative fiscal principles and progressive social ideals, he has been at odds with its leaders, who have questioned his ability to beat President Bush.
Dean could be either; or, more likely, neither.

She maintains that Ronald Reagan governed California as a moderate but ran for President as a conservative, just as Dean governed Vermont as a moderate and is running for the Dem nomination as a liberal. Ronald Reagan did not pretend to be a moderate while governor of California or at any time thereafter. His public record, from at least The Speech in 1964 on, was solidly conservative. Dean vacillates from pillar to post.
The prevailing wisdom, at least for a time, was that no matter what Jimmy Carter did wrong, the actor from California was simply too far off the spectrum to be elected. What Reagan managed to do, especially in his one head-to-head debate with the incumbent, was to convince people that, in fact, he didn't have horns — that his views were neither frightening nor dangerous, and neither was he. Reagan made conservatism seem safe and nonthreatening, after Barry Goldwater had been caricatured as being neither.
Wrong. The prevailing wisdom in 1980 was that President Carter was ripe for defeat. Ronald Reagan was remembered not so much as an actor, as he was the former governor of California who was nearly the Republican nominee for years previously. He was known as a man of conviction and optimism, while Carter was the man who brought us "malaise," and irresolute and ineffective man who ran around lusting in his heart while the Ayatollah Khomenei danced the two-step on the American flag.

Her analogy is so flawed as not to deserve print. President Bush is not known or perceived as being Jimmy Carter. Dean does not deserve mention with Ronald Reagan.

Estrich concludes:
He might be the most skilled politician we've ever seen in action. We just don't know it yet.
Stealthy skill. Hey, if you don't know it, why say it?

Well, if he can win his party's nomination and defeat President Bush next fall, overcoming all he's said and done, he's got something going.

Then again, though I know a lot of Republicans who won't admit it, President Bush is the most skilled politician we have seen in a generation. And he does it without breaking a sweat.


As Charlie Cook Sees it:

National Journal's Charlie Cook, leading analyst and publisher of the Cook Political Report, has sent out his Tuesday Off to the Races column, and he sees things looking good for the President.
If politics was boxing, then you could say that a fast left-right-left combination has really knocked Democrats for a loop. The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted just five weeks ago (Nov. 14-16) indicated President Bush's overall job approval rating had dropped to 50 percent, and his disapproval rating was 47 percent. Both approval and disapproval numbers matched a Sept. 19-21 Gallup poll that represented the worst ratings of Bush's presidency. If those mid-November numbers had held through the end of December, Bush would have had lower job approval numbers at the end of his third year than any President from Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton.
President Nixon, of course, had only one third year, that of his first term, and he won his reelection the next year. President Reagan won his reelection, as did Clinton. Ford didn't have a third-year to call his own. Carter and Bush 41 were the two Presidents not to be reelected, and both can be partly attributed to a perceived stagnation or even "malaise."

The "left-right-left" Cook talks about was: First Punch, Thanksgiving in Baghdad; Second Punch, Saddam out of the hole; Third Punch, Qadhafi's shrinkage. The first two gave the President a boost in the polls, while no polls have yet surfaced to register the third (Qadhafi).
That these events have occurred at the same time the public seems to have concluded that the economy is turning around should not be underestimated. Consumer confidence polls had begun to show that while Americans had not yet seen improvement in the national or their local economies, their expectations that the economy was turning around did dramatically jump, and that is half the battle. The economy affected Bush in that fiscal concerns held down overall public optimism, which can't help but work against an incumbent president. At the same time, the ratings on Bush's handling of the economy have improved as well."
Cook, who is a non-partisan analyst, concludes that all the Democrats can do now "is step back, applaud politely and shake their heads in dismay. Perhaps the only solace Democrats can take from this is that it's all happening 10 months before the election instead
of, say, 10 weeks."

He concludes with some questions which will impact the election:
How durable is this wave of favorable news from the Middle East? How durable is this economic upturn? On the other hand, how durable is this latest terrorist threat? Will the threat turn out to be a false alarm, or will the alert and enhanced precautions thwart an attack, though there is little way of knowing if that is the case?
He raises the possibility that nothing happens during this period of Orange Alert. Instead of it being a false alarm, the heightened alert could have prevented any terrorist action.


As the atypical analyst Kermit said…

…it's not easy being Green.

Good morning. Former "consumer advocate" Ralph Nader -- the 2000 Green Party candidate whom some apologists believe cost Al Gore the Presidency that election -- has announced that he will neither seek nor accept the nomination of the Green Party next year [Washpost].
Ross Mirkarimi, who ran Nader's presidential campaign in California, said Nader recently called him to announce his intentions and is in the process of informing national Green Party officials that he will not be their standard-bearer in 2004.

"My understanding is that, if Nader runs, he does not want to run a mediocre campaign, and he is trying to assess the political and resource variables on how he would run the most serious campaign possible to unseat George Bush," Mirkarimi said. He said there appears to be "no consensus" within the Green Party over its approach to the 2004 campaign.
So, the Green Party is nowhere and Nader wants to run a "serious third-party campaign."

There is a split in the Green Party, as reported by the Washpost:
Those present divided themselves into three groups: Those who wanted to run the strongest possible campaign throughout the country, those who wanted to run only in those areas where the Green Party candidate would not be a threat to cost the Democratic Party nominee electoral votes in the contest with Bush, and those who wanted to skip the 2004 campaign entirely and throw Green Party support behind the Democratic nominee."
This sounds strangely similar to the Reform Party post-Perot.

Within any political party, there are bound to be factions and divisions. The success of a party is largely determined by its ability to work beyond the differences towards a mutual platform. The GOP has successfully done this. The Democrats were able to do so in the past, but look less likely at present. The Rossperots are a large footnotes and the Greens are, perhaps, a footnote to that footnote.

Go, Ralph, go.

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