Friday, November 28, 2008

Indian security forces are finishing off the terrorists in Mumbai, as commandos storm a Jewish center. Earlier, two hotels were secured, although there was a significant loss of life. The attacks appear to be motivated by an effort to destroy any possible thawing of relations between India and Pakistan. The operation was apparently well planned, and was certainly sophisticated, involving multiple teams attacking multiple targets almost simultaneously. This has heightened the Indian suspicion that elements of Pakistan's intelligence service had a hand in planning the operation. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail, as it would be disastrous for the world if these two nuclear-armed powers were to go to war.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Is the massive government intervention into our economy the solution to the problem, or will it become the problem?

The Senate race in Minnesota is just getting started.

Some folks on the left are beginning to understand that they've been had, but they aren't yet willing to blame Obama.

Tony Blankley has some thoughts on how our health care system might change under Tom Daschle.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An amusing take on the "Clinton Restoration".

A not-so-amusing take on the possibility of a bankrupt Great Britain.

Another political strategist will have an office in the White House. More evidence that the "change" mantra was all about political posturing.

A Russian analyst predicts the breakup of the United States.

Caroline Glick calls for President Bush to do two things before he leaves office. I don't agree with her on either count.

A near-riot and a besieged parliament Iceland.

A theory about the collapse of Citi.

Robert Samuelson explains why we may be seeing the "reverse wealth" effect, as people cut back on spending because they perceive, correctly, that their personal wealth is shrinking due to the collapse of their investments and the value of their real estate. I think this "reverse wealth" effect is very real, as the "wealth effect" which happened during the last 15 or 20 years was probably the major driving force behind our enormous consumer economy. Now, afraid that they no longer have the money they thought they had, people are drawing back, even if they still have as much (or more) annual income than they did in years past. This will keep us on a downward economic spiral for some time to come.

Christopher Hitchens says the last thing we need is a Clinton in charge of foreign policy. I suspect the selection of Hillary as Secretary of State is more about a crafty Obama taking out a political rival. We may be entering a very tough four-year period. The last think Obama needs is a potentially powerful rival to take him on for the nomination in 2012 (as Ted Kennedy took on Carter in 1980), leaving him, even in victory, weaker as he takes on the GOP nominee.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Another big bank bailout.

Victor Davis Hanson examines what went wrong for conservatives in the recent election.

Michael Yon says the war in Iraq is over, and we won.

Former Michigan Senator Spencer Abraham says Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the American auto companies would signal their demise.

Bill Kristol says even the smart guys have no clue as to what should be done about the economic crisis.

George Will says a recent gun control decision, which conservatives liked, is just as bad as Roe v. Wade.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

According to this story in The New York Times, Hillary Clinton will be the next Secretary of State. Also, a new Treasury Secretary is announced, which causes the markets to jump. Still, the good news is offset by bad news, as a major bank teeters on the brink.

Will Tom Daschle provide the coup de grace for American conservatism?

Some details about the men held at Guantanamo Bay. When the newly inaugurated President Obama reads these details (and those details not yet declassified) I wonder if he will still be so keen to close the facility? Perhaps, if he feels the need to close the facility for political and diplomatic reasons, he will not feel the need to release some of the men on the list.

Mark Steyn has some comments on the latest controversy surrounding Sarah Palin, which involves the video of an interview with the Alaska Governor while turkeys were being slaughtered in the background. It seems Palin was doing the now traditional political "hah hah" story of "pardoning" a turkey at a turkey farm in her home town. After the ceremony she held an impromptu press conference at the farm. Unfortunately for her, in the background of the shot one of the farm employees was busy doing his job...that is, slaughtering turkeys. The story is getting a lot of attention, but reaction is, once again, breaking down along ideological lines. Those who think Palin is a moron use the story as evidence that she is, indeed, a moron for allowing that backdrop. Those who think she is a "red meat" American (I believe she has some experience hunting, for instance), see it as evidence for their position (even though turkey is a "white meat"). Having once been a media advisor to a political campaign, I can say with certainty it would not have been the backdrop I would have chosen. I would have told Governor Palin that most people are hypocrites when it comes to food. They want to eat meat, but they don't want to slaughter the animals, or see them slaughtered, or even contemplate the fact that the meat they buy at the market was once a living, breathing creature (even a stinky, stupid, disgusting one like a domesticated turkey). But, "it is what it is". As for me, I plan on enjoying my turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More market turmoil yesterday, but at least one economist sees light at the end of the tunnel.

A new study bolsters the case for the "broken windows" theory, which is that the disorderly picture created by allowing minor crimes to go unpunished leads to more violent crimes and neighborhood breakdown.

The George Steinbrenner era comes to an end as "The Boss" officially passes control of The New York Yankees to his son Hal, with his older son Hank remaining in charge of baseball operations.

The John Dingell era comes to an end as Henry Waxman is put in charge of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The Attorney General collapses while giving a speech. Ironically, a piece he wrote about the problems created by granting habeus corpus rights to enemy combatants in in today's Wall Street Journal.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

For John Kerry, if he can't be Secretary of State, how about a glittering consolation prize?

One historian has it right when it comes to fighting piracy.

Deflation fears strike the markets.

Iran has enough uranium to make a bomb.

Could the Mammoth be about to make a comeback?

Karl Rove describes the challenges facing Barack Obama as he transitions from campaigning to governing.

Of course, that giant sucking sound Obama is hearing is the money he needs to bring change to fruition going down the tubes.

An interview with Bob Novak as he fights brain cancer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ted Stevens has lost in Alaska, which pushes the Democrats number in the U.S. Senate to 58, including Joe Lieberman, who has been allowed to keep his committee chairmanship.

David Broder and Thomas Friedman are unhappy with the possibility that Hillary Clinton will be the next Secretary of State. But could the choice be one that makes Conservatives happy?

As the automakers continue to beg Congress for more taxpayer money, there are some dissenters out there. Mitt Romney, who was born in Detroit, the son of an auto executive, says the Big Three should be allowed to go bankrupt. George Will agrees.

Somali pirates continue to seize ships, while the "international community" finds itself powerless to do anything about it. Historically, piracy has always flourished when the great commercial nations were either unwilling to do the tough things needed to stamp it out, or when they were too involved in fighting each other (and then, oftentimes, they were subsidizing the pirates so that they might prey on their enemies). There are only three solutions, as I see it, to this problem. One is to restore stability to Somalia. No one seems willing to spend the blood and treasure that would be required to do that. The second possibility is to attack pirate strongholds, burn their boats, and hang all the pirates that can be captured. No one seems willing to do that, either. So, I guess the solution we will see going forward is the third one, which is to pay up.

Finally, the trailer for the new Star Trek movie is out. Here is the story in The Daily Mail, which features the trailer. It sure doesn't look like your father's Star Trek, but it may very well be what Gene Roddenberry would have wanted, were he to have had access to the special effects technology of today, and the looser standards for sex and violence.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

According to the British newspaper The Guardian, Hillary Clinton will be offered and accept the position of Secretary of State.

Ralph Peters wishes Obama would not make statements he has no hope of backing up.

One of the more frightening consequences of the global economic crisis is the situation that is developing in China. The grand political bargain between the Butchers of Beijing and their people, which was made as those leaders dropped Communist ideology but maintained authoritarian rule, was that those leaders would keep their power but the people would get prosperity in return. That bargain has worked out well for more than 20 years, but it seems now to be in jeopardy. History tells us that the most devastating consequence of the Great Depression was World War II. Ponder that one for a moment while you consider what might happen as a result of this severe economic crisis (whether it reaches Great Depression levels or not).

An argument from a Harvard economist for allowing the auto companies to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, rather than simply giving them taxpayer money.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Here is an irony for you. According to Peter Robinson, in this piece at, during a conversation with the late, great economist Milton Friedman, Robinson noted that the intellectual battle against collectivism was largely won in academia...

Academia as a whole may have continued its long, sorry wobble to the left, I continued, but the economics profession had proved an exception, moving the other way. Departments of economics across the country now grasped the importance of free markets. "Mises, Hayek, Stigler and you," I told Friedman. "You've transformed the intellectual climate. You've won."

Friedman shook his head. "We may have won the intellectual battle," he replied, "but in practical politics, it's difficult to see that we've had any effect at all."

Government spending had continued to grow, he explained. After a pause during the Reagan years, regulations had once again proliferated. For a moment, Friedman grew silent. Then he looked at me.

"The challenge for my generation," he said, "was to provide an intellectual defense of liberty. The challenge for your generation is to keep it."

With the most Liberal politician to ever sit in the Oval Office due to take up residence there in January, I guess I would have to say, "Good luck with that".

Those who advocate a strong internationalist tilt to U.S. policy are also hopeful.

Michael Gerson warns the President-elect about three potential showdowns to avoid. From a purely partisan viewpoint, I hope he blunders into all three.

Meanwhile, the future of the GOP is being debated, with Jonah Goldberg making the case that the soul of the GOP consists of those who combine social and economic conservatism.

Bill Kristol writes about the Republican Governors Conference, and Fred Barnes sees potential silver linings in an Obama Administration.

Finally, while the political world is buzzing about the possibility of Hillary Clinton becoming the next Secretary of State, the most important story in the papers this morning is this one, which chronicles the laudable efforts by some to eliminate the maddeningly secure packaging of most toys and electronics. Having spent too much time on Christmas morning struggling with such things (oftentimes too stubborn to simply get the proper tools for the job), I fervently hope they succeed in their endeavors. If the Obama Era brings change like this, well, that's something I can believe in.

Friday, November 14, 2008

As chances for an auto industry bailout diminish in Washington, David Brooks writes about why such a bailout would be harmful. Charles Krauthammer agrees.

Jonathan Cohn makes the contrary argument, which is that it would be far more expensive for the country to allow General Motors to fail.

But, if GM is too big to fail, who else deserves such help? Are we not headed down the road to a command economy? Will that not lead to years of economic stagnation?

Paul Krugman writes about "Depression Economics".

Peter Beinart writes about the new Liberal order which is taking hold with the election of Obama and the consolidation of Democratic control of Congress.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Obama is "shocked, shocked" that his supporters expect him to be an agent of real change. He has built up his image as the messiah of hope and change in order to win an election. The disillusionment that will follow when he cannot live up to the image will be a terrible impediment to governing, which will make things politically very difficult for his party in 2010, and for Obama himself in 2012.

Obama is backing away from the idea of unconditional talks with Iran, but may be falling into the trap of talking to the Taliban in Afghanistan. This is another area where Obama will disappoint his hard core supporters.

Karl Rove says history favors the GOP in 2010. His conclusions are based on the numbers, and I agree with him on that. As I wrote above, however, I think the GOP's success in the next two elections will be based the disillusionment of Obama's supporters and the negative effects of an economy in a deep recession.

The Treasury Department is redefining the $700 billion bailout plan. Next year will be the year of the bailout.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Victor Davis Hanson points out what should be obvious...electing Barack Obama did not change the world.

Women may not rule the world politically, but they are making a good effort at it here in New Hampshire.

Obama as one term President? It's the economy, stupid.

A pollster runs the numbers and finds that this was a base election after all. Democrats came out in larger numbers, and Republicans did not.

Despite that news, it still looks like the Republican base is shrinking, which bodes ill for future elections.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More commentary on the election results...

Jay Cost says the results tell him the election was not a realignment.

A pollster says farewell to the "Reagan Democrats".

David Brooks sees a battle between Traditionalists and Reformers inside the GOP.

Deroy Murdock hopes to see some heretics excommunicated inside the Republican Party.

Christopher Hitchens has a common sense warning about the future.

P. J. O'Rourke has a rather unique take on what happened.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Pentagon board says cutting big weapons programs is essential to meet the military's other pressing needs. My prediction? The big programs will stay in place. Just think of them as jobs programs, and you'll have a better understanding of the military procurement process.

Andrew Klavan writes about the war movie Hollywood should make, but probably won't. Meanwhile, The New York Times features this piece about soldiers at a lonely outpost in Afghanistan. Also in the Times, a piece about U.S. raids against al Qaeda, and Obama considering Presidential orders that would reverse some Bush policies.

Amity Shlaes hopes Obama won't make the same mistakes that FDR made.

Paul Krugman hopes the same thing, but his view of FDR's mistakes and Shlaes view are very different things.

Bill Kristol points out why President Obama will be a formidable foe for Conservatives in the years to come.

Robert J. Samuelson says the specter of deflation is now on the horizon.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The unemployment rate hits a 14-year high of 6.5%. Unfortunately, we ain't seen nothin' yet.

President-elect Obama faces more than just a deteriorating economy, he also will find more than one difficult foreign policy challenge, including a possible resumption of the Putin Presidency in Russia (which would just confirm what I have thought all along, which is that Putin is the new Czar).

David Brooks and Paul Krugman have very different hopes for the new administration.

Iraqi leaders are more comfortable with making a status of forces agreement with the U.S. now that Obama will be the new President, according to this story in The New York Times. It makes sense, since the opponents of the agreement have wanted some assurances about an eventual U.S. military withdrawal. Now, with Obama, they feel more comfortable that they will get such assurances.

Contrary to expectations, turnout in the election was not substantially higher than in 2004.

Rahm Emanuel has accepted the position of new White House Chief of Staff. A good choice, I think, as the position requires a tough guy who has the President's back at all times.

One little noted fact about the election is that the New Hampshire State Senate is now a female-majority body. That's the first time it has ever happened in any American legislative body (and maybe in the history of the world, for that matter) as far as I know.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

As President-elect Obama mulls over his potential cabinet choices, including the possibility of Senator John Kerry taking a position, which would set off a political scramble in Massachusetts, there are still ballots to be counted in other races, especially in the Senate.

In Alaska, according to the Anchorage Daily News...

While a Democratic wave swept the rest of the nation, not even FBI investigations could keep Alaska's Republican Congressional delegation from holding leads the day after the election.

Big support from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough gave Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, who a jury found guilty of seven felonies last week, a narrow edge over Democrat Mark Begich. Stevens is appealing the verdict.

There are still more than 55,000 votes to be counted in the race, and the outcome won't be known until at least Nov. 14.

In Minnesota, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune...

Sen. Norm Coleman's narrow lead over DFL challenger Al Franken in the U.S. Senate race narrowed even more Wednesday, guaranteeing a recount that would be the state's biggest ever and could stretch well into next month.

Coleman declared victory Wednesday morning, when his unofficial lead over Franken stood at 725 votes out of nearly 2.9 million cast, according to the secretary of state's tally. By the end of the day, as county officials from around the state forwarded adjusted figures to the state, that margin had shrunk to 477 votes...

Recounts are required in races with a winning margin of less than one-half of 1 percent, although a losing candidate may request that it not go forward. Coleman and Franken each received 42 percent of the vote, and Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley got 15 percent.

In Georgia, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution...

Fulton County election workers still had about 1,500 absentee ballots to count Thursday morning, but “we can see light at the end of the tunnel,” a spokesman said.

The Fulton ballots were the last to be tallied in Georgia’s election, with the final count in Georgia’s close U.S. Senate race and other elections at stake. The ballots could determine whether Democratic challenger Jim Martin and Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss are forced into a runoff.

In Oregon, according to The Oregonian...

Democrat Jeff Merkley has leapt from Oregon's statehouse to the U.S. Senate, ousting two-term Republican Gordon Smith after an expensive, high-stakes contest that will help shift the balance of power in Washington.

The Oregonian projects that Merkley will squeak by Smith by the time all votes are counted.

If that projection pans out, it puts the Democrats at 57.

In New Hampshire, Republicans are picking up the pieces, but at least they showed a pulse by picking up a few seats in the New Hampshire House.

As for the consequences of the win by Obama and the Democrats on Tuesday...

Andrew Bacevich says it marks the end of an evangelical foreign policy.

Despite talk of the restoration of the "Fairness Doctrine", some believe an Obama Administration will be a boon for Conservative talk radio.

Shelby Steele believes Obama's victory was driven by White guilt.

Rich Lowry says McCain and the GOP lost the political center.

George Will examines the past for clues as to how this might play out in the future.

Finally, while Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats ponder their domestic policy agenda, dark clouds continue to gather on the foreign policy horizon. Could Barack Obama face the same fate of George W. Bush? Elected on a promise of domestic actions, but diverted by pressing foreign policy crises?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Well, I'm back from New York City and pondering what happened yesterday. As I thought, Obama won with over 52% of the popular vote and over 300 electoral votes.

At the moment he stands at 349 electoral votes, with only Missouri and North Carolina still outstanding. Obama is ahead in North Carolina and McCain is ahead in Missouri. If it stays that way, it will end with Obama earning 364 electoral votes.

In the Senate, the Democrats have gained 5 seats, but could win as many as 8, since the races in Alaska, Oregon, Minnesota and Georgia are still undecided. In Alaska, Senator Ted Stevens, despite his felony convictions, is ahead by a small margin. There are still thousands of absentee ballots to count, so the race is not over. It may be several days before a winner is declared. If Stevens wins, he still needs to get his convictions overturned on appeal, or he might be expelled from the Senate. It would still be a GOP hold under that scenario, as Governor Sarah Palin would pick his replacement. In Oregon, there are still a lot of votes to be counted, and Democrat Jeff Merkley has now taken a very slim lead. I expect this to be a Democratic gain. In Minnesota, it can't get any closer and that means a recount, with Coleman hanging on by his fingernails. It beats me how it will turn out, but just for laughs I'll call it a GOP hold. Finally, in Georgia Saxby Chambliss will probably face a runoff because he didn't get to 50 %. He should win that battle. If that is the case, then the total Democratic gain for the election will be 6 seats. Will Joe Lieberman still caucus with the Democrats? Will they let him? When those questions are answered, we'll know the numbers. The bottom line is that the Democrats do not have a filibuster-proof majority.

In the House, the Democrats are currently up 20 seats with a chance to gain a few more, but not as big a debacle as I had feared.

History was made. The Republican Party is in disarray, the future is unknown. I'll have more on that tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day. At last. Get out and vote.

The A.P. defines the concept of "landslide".

George Will lays out the numbers to give us some historical perspective as we watch the election returns tonight.

Obama wins in Dixville Notch and Hart's Location here in New Hampshire.

The latest RealClearPolitics Electoral Map, which assigns each state to a candidate based on the latest polling average, shows a solid Obama win, 338-200. The only way to reverse the scenario is to flip Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada into the McCain camp (all states that went for Bush in 2004). I just don't believe it will happen.

What do I think will happen? For almost two years I have been writing on this blog that I believe an enormous anti-Republican tide has been building, driven mainly by dissatisfaction with the fact that we have troops fighting in two wars that don't seem to have an end in sight. This belief was based on my reading of the elections of 1952 and 1968, when incumbent Presidents were mired in unpopular wars. In both cases the party that held the White House lost it to the opposition. Generally speaking, when an incumbent President is very unpopular, as is now the case with George W. Bush, his party suffers when the voters go to the polls. This is true with off-year elections and in Presidential elections. I suspect that we will see an enormous turnout today, and it will lead to a big victory for Obama and the Democrats. Ironically, this victory will not be driven, as I thought it would be, by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rather, it will be driven by the economic anxiety that has gripped the nation. Americans have spent the last several months watching as their investment portfolios have collapsed, and seen their home values plummet. In recent weeks many have started to see jobs being lost, and just about everyone is afraid for their own job. This is a perfect storm. War, economic uncertainty, and a terribly unpopular incumbent President. It is a formula for the absolute repudiation of the President's party. Thus, I expect a Republican debacle tonight. Obama will win comfortably (although not by as large a margin as he might have, since there are doubts about his experience and his ideological outlook), with at least 300 electoral votes and at least 52% of the popular vote. The Democrats will win at least 7 Senate seats, and might get 8 (although I do not believe they will get to a filibuster-proof majority of 60...which might be just wishful thinking on my part). Expect a 25-30 seat gain in the House.

I hope I am wrong.

Monday, November 03, 2008

One day to go before we elect a new President. The latest RealClearPolitics Electoral Map shows the race a little tighter than it was a week ago, but it still requires one to assume that the polls are wrong to posit a McCain victory. However, as a fun little exercise, I manipulated the map to assume that Obama needs at least a six point lead in the average to win a state (assuming that the polls do not adequately measure anti-Obama sentiment, whether based on racial animosity or not). Thus, any toss-up state that went for Bush last time and has either a tie, a narrow McCain lead, or a narrow Obama lead, under six points, is put in the McCain column. Doing so today leaves a 269-269 electoral vote tie. That would throw the election into the House of Representatives for the first time since the 19th Century. Since the Democrats control the House, Obama would win, of course, but what a civics lesson it would be.

Who is Barack Obama, anyway? Stanley Kurtz believes he is a left-wing radical. Conrad Black agrees, and says Americans are poised to elect him based on ignorance and panic. Pat Buchanan believes he is a socialist.

If Obama wins, Ralph Peters believes he will still face the burden of international leadership.

Over in the U.K., at least one writer thinks Obama will be bad for the world economy.

There is at least one good thing about an Obama victory, though, which is that it will mean the end of Hillary Clinton's quest for the Presidency.

But, it still could turn out differently, and McCain could be the winner. In that event, Bill Kristol has some advice for Liberals.