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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

I've been gone a long time. Bad karma in December. No real excuses since then.

Anyway. I guess I'm back.

I started to comment on Martin Devon's site about his (very early) speculation on the Republican presidential candidate in 2008. But the comment got too long and I figured I would put it here.

Rudy Giuliani was a damn good mayor prior to 9/11. He was elected and reelected in a heavily Democratic city. He undid most of the damage to the City done by prior administrations by controlling crime. But during and after 9/11, he was nothing less than magnificent. And when I heard that he had returned that $10 mil gift from the Saudis, I vowed to vote for him for any office, up to and including God.

I hope he runs. I'll vote for him, gun control warts and all.

Martin likes Condoleeza Rice. So do I. If Cheney resigns (presumably for health reasons) and she is appointed as Veep, then she'll have the inside track for the nomination in 2008. Even without being appointed as VP, Condi would make an excellent opponent for Hillary.

But a Rice nomination would not be good news for Giuliani. He would make a good choice for her running mate from an electoral college point of view (since he would have a real shot at swinging New York into the red column) but I think that he would make a terrible Vice President. It seems to me that he has a personality that requires that he be fully in charge in order to function well.

Additionally, the calendar presents Giuliani with a problem if he were offered the second spot by the Republicans, regardless of who leads the ticket. He is 60 now. He will be 63 in 2008. That is certainly not too old to be President. But if he were nominated as VP in 2008, then, assuming a win in 2008, he has to look all the way out to 2016 for a shot at the top spot. At that point, he will be 71. Reagan notwithstanding, that's a bit long in the tooth for a President.

So my guess is that Giuliani would turn down an offer to be the nominee for VP in order to wait and see whether a run in 2012 might be possible.
Monday, November 29, 2004

For reasons which will be of interest to no one outside my family, I have not been having a very good November, and it is a sure bet to turn into a worse December.

Which is why I was so pleased to find this on Fritz Schrank's blog today:

Psalm 2004

Bush is my shepherd, I shall be in want.
He maketh me lie down on park benches,
He leadeth me beside the still factories.
He restoreth my doubts about the Republican Party.
He leadeth me into the paths of unemployment for his cronies' sake.
Yea, though no weapons of mass destruction have been found, he maketh me continue to fear Evil.
His tax cuts for the rich and his deficit spending discomfort me.
He anointeth me with never-ending debt:
Verily my days of savings and assets are kaput.
Surely poverty and hard living shall follow me all the days of his administration,
And my jobless child shall dwell in my basement forever.
Everyone needs a good chuckle now and then.

Oh, and go vote for Pat Tillman. (Note: BEFORE you vote, the picture of Tillman has to be displayed. Change the displayed picture by using the menu in the upper left corner of the picture.)
Friday, November 19, 2004

Rand Simberg links to a story supposedly about redesignating a proposed Interstate Highway from I-69 to something (anything) less, umm, suggestive. Despite the fact that this appears to be a hoax, there is a real world precedent.

In New Jersey, there was (and is) a highway running from Trenton up through Flemington to Clinton (in NW Jersey). Back in the 60s, they had to change the number from Route 69 to Route 31. It wasn't the prudes or even the snickers that got them to make the change. It was the fact that every male college student in American stole the signs.

And when you compare the rather dull signs that NJ uses, you can imagine what would happen with badge shaped red white and blue signs used for interstates.
Saturday, November 13, 2004

Theo Van Gogh resided in Holland and produced short films, one of which, Submission, (which can be seen in its entirety here) concerned the suffering of women under Islam. According to CNN, "The English-language film was scripted by Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a member of the Dutch parliament, has repeatedly outraged fellow Muslims by criticizing Islamic customs and the failure of Muslim families to adopt Dutch ways. That film apparently resulted in his recent murder.

Van Gogh does not appear to have been a moderate person. He railed publicly against Muslims in general. If the report I read (and can no longer find) is true, the terms he used to describe them and their religion were beyond the pale. None of which justifies his murder. The only response to bad speech is more speech. Not murder.

Nor do Van Gogh beliefs or statements justify one of the more ridiculous responses of Dutch authorities to his murder in removing a mural stating "Thou Shalt Not Kill" from a wall near a mosque following complaints from the leaders of that mosque.

In response to Van Gogh's murder and the pathetic political correctness evidenced by the removal of that mural, there have been a number of recent incidents of violence directed against Muslims.

Captain Ed correctly states that this is a direct result of the murder of Van Gogh, but I also think that a backlash is precisely what the murderers hoped to achieve by killing Van Gogh. I also think that the rise of vigilantism and the use of arson can hardly be said to advance the cause of Western values among the less radical Muslims in the Netherlands or elsewhere in Europe.

I don't have a good solution to suggest for the problems faced by Dutch society, other than to say that they have to quickly get control not only of the Islamic nutballs in their midst, but the violent people on the other end of the spectrum as well. In the short term, the authorities must pursue and prosecute those who participated in Van Gogh's murder: the planners and enablers as well as the perpetrators. Likewise, the people lighting the fires and throwing the bombs at Muslim schools and mosques must also be stopped, arrested and prosecuted (although, as an aside, this will probably prove to be more difficult, since it seems to me to be less organized and less directed than the murder of Van Gogh).

In the long term, the only real solution is to integrate the Muslim immigrant community into the existing social structure. The only way to do it is to make certain that each immigrant has an interest in maintaining the society he has recently joined.

How exactly can that be accomplished? Well, a good start might be to look at how the US dealt with its immigrant waves. We had lots of them: Irish, Italians, Eastern Europeans, Latin Americans, Russians, Chinese, and I know that I have probably insulted half the world by leaving them out of that list. We are still quite good at giving recent immigrants a stake in our society, but we used to be better at it. The rise of identity politics and multiculturalism seems to have degraded our ability (perhaps our desire) to integrate new groups into the existing societal structures.

Western Europe in general and Holland in particular, are "farther along the curve" of accepting multiculturalism than we are. Is it too late to accomplish the needed changes there? I don't think so, but that's only a guess. I certainly hope not. Even if it is too late for the Dutch, the US can and should take note of what happens when a large unassimilated minority is repeatedly told that its values are just as good as those of the society which surrounds but is not accepted by that minority, a society that the minority risked everything to migrate to.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004

UPDATE (12/20/04): Captain Ed comments on the filibuster rules and the nuclear option.

Recent comments by (relatively) liberal Republican Arlen Spector of Pennsylvania have generated some controversy. He is (was?) expected to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee and thus be responsible for nominees to the federal bench. Therefore, when he suggested that Bush not nominate people opposed to abortion, the pro-life wing of the Republican party swung into action.

The outrage expressed was not unfounded. Spector survived a primary challenge from the right only with endorsement and the active support of President Bush. And therefore to be seen as laying the groundwork to oppose Bush's future judicial nominees was seen as a betrayal of that support. There were immediate demands that the chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee be given to someone else. Others in the party noted Spector's immediate backtracking from his original comments and his record of support for all of the nominees submitted so far by Bush. This second group is concerned that by denying Spector the chairmanship to which he is entitled under the seniority rules as they now exist, the more strident Republicans will provide cover for the few remaining liberal Republicans in the Senate (Snow, Chafee, etc.) to side with the Democrats in continuing to filibuster Bush's nominees.

I think there is a much more basic rule change that could be accomplished which would be more effective than denying Spector the chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee, and I have not seen it suggested anywhere. Do you remember "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"? Jimmy Stewart was conducting a one man filibuster against the evil political machine. He literally had to stand and speak for days on end. There were two ways the filibuster could be ended. One was by a vote for cloture (which had to pass by a super majority) and the other was by the filibustering party yielding the floor. Once the filibustering party yielded the floor, the filibuster was over and a vote on the bill being blocked (or any other bill) could be held. Until the filibuster was ended, no vote could be held on the bill being filibustered or any other bill.

Well, that's not how filibusters are conducted nowadays. To conduct a filibuster today, all one has to do is declare one. If a vote for cloture cannot pass with at least 60 votes, the bill being filibustered is tabled and the Senate goes on to other matters. I think that's a bad rule. I think the old rule was better. It made the party obstructing a vote stand up in public and say so. It imposed the heavy price of halting all business in the Senate. The new rule allows the Senate to get on with other business, but by doing so, it lowers the cost of the filibuster, and that, of course, allows more of them. I do not think that the cost of filibusters should be lowered.

Tom Daschle, the soon to be former Senate Minority Leader and the architect of the strategy of filibustering Bush's judicial nominees, was defeated in this years election. I think we should find out whether his defeat was related to his strategy of obstructionism. I think that the rules of the Senate should be changed back to require that the filibustering party must hold the floor to maintain the filibuster. Let the filibusterers (is that a word?) explain why blocking Nominee X is so important that none of the other pressing business of the country can proceed. I think that because the people conducting the filibuster would be blocking the entire Senate agenda, rather than just one specific proposal, it would be easier for the Republicans to peal away a few votes among the blue dog Democrats in order to end the filibuster.

Under the old rules, the vote for cloture had to pass with a two thirds majority in order to be successful. Under the new rules, only sixty votes (three fifths) are required. Please note that I do not suggest returning to the two thirds requirement, although if I had to choose between returning to the old rule with a two thirds requirement and keeping the new rule, I would, reluctantly, choose the two thirds requirement.

Bush has noted that he earned some political capital in the recent elections and that he intends to spend it. I think that both the country and the Senate would be better off with fewer filibusters. I think that the investment of a little of Bush's political capital in a rules change could pay big political dividends by bringing some discipline into the procedures of the Senate. Now is the time for him to roll the dice, if he is ever going to do so, by forcing the opponents of his policies in the Senate to actually obstruct all of the business of the country in order to continue to block a few policies with which they disagree. Not that he's going to be around all that long, but I would love to see Terry McAuliffe try to explain to a talking head on Sunday morning that it is more important for Miguel Estrada not to be on the federal appellate bench than it is for, say, a supplemental Iraq appropriations bill to pass the Senate.

If Tom Daschle, whose seniority allowed him to deliver a substantial amount of pork to his constituents, was defeated as a result of his obstructionist tactics, accomplishing the rules change suggested here will make the filibuster once again the rarity it was when Jimmy Stewart played a political naif swimming among the sharks in DC. And Bush's policies and judicial nominees will receive the up or down votes they deserve on the floor of the Senate. By returning to the old rules, Bush might well gain a victory for both his policies and his party.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Kerry has conceded. There will be no post election litigation. That means I won't have to boycott the Democratic Party for 8 years.

I'm pleased I still have the option of voting Democratic, but I am really glad Bush won. I think it was desperately important to our future. Melodramatic? Sure. That doesn't make it untrue. Despite his repeated statements to the contrary, Kerry's record screamed "retreat" in the war against the would be theocratic fascists who want the power to tell me when and how I have to dress, act and think, who want to decide whether when, and with whom my wife can leave our house, who, in short, want to rule the world. Say what you want about Bush, he's not going to back off in the war. The next four years are not going to go smoothly, but at least our adversaries cannot take heart from faltering American resolve. That would have been the message sent by a Kerry victory.

And a post election contest, however futile in the face of a 135,000 vote margin of victory in Ohio (100 times the margin in Florida 2000), would have told the Islamofascists to push just a little harder to widen the gulf just a little bit more between red and blue Americans. For his refusal to heed the siren call of the looney left, Senator Kerry deserves our thanks.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Someone scams them back.

Via Inoperable Terran.
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