Belmont Club has a good discussion of the "Rise of Extremes." No where was this more evident than in the Democratic vote on the Judiciary Committee that Judge Alito should not be referred to the Senate. See Washington Post. When Judge Ginsburg was considered, almost all Republicans voted for her, even though her politics were not particularly agreeable. Essentially, now we seem to have a new litmus test of belief, rather than a question of whether a candidate is judicial in temperament and experience. See the RCP Blog for how the Senate debate and vote is likely to go.
Arnold Kling, a MIT PhD economist, has a fine article out (the first of a series) aimed at how liberals might communicate better. Part of the message is that they might think through the implications of their policy ideas. Kling works through Maryland's idea of requiring companies (but aimed at Wal Mart) to improve health care benefits for its workers by requiring that a certain percentage of company funds are applied. For more on the Wal Mart healthcare issue see BusinessPundit and Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution.
Thomas Lifson's most recent post at The American Thinker discusses the implications of President Bush's education as a Harvard MBA for his approach to the Presidency. As a graduate from the competing business school on the West Coast, I fully appreciate his points. Lifson speaks from his nearly contemporaneous experience at Harvard Business School, and makes the point that Harvard did not hand out the degree lightly. Apparently poker was the big game at Harvard - I must say that I personally favored bridge, mostly because I couldn't afford poker! Lifson says that Bush was a "very avid and skillful poker player" when he was a student at Harvard and that "[o]ne of the secrets of a successful poker player is to encourage your opponent to bet a lot of chips on a losing hand." We'll see if that is what's happening now!
The Bull Moose (a democrat in the Teddy Roosevelt tradition) strongly points out the flaws in the Democrat's focus on the man in the White House, rather than on the overall world situation and the threats it poses. As the Bull Moose points out: "... politics should not be the animating
concern of the moment. The Moose fears that soon we will again be
forced to deal with the reality of the fact that this remains a very
dangerous world. The most immediate threat to our complacency is likely
to be Iran which is a nation on the verge of nuclear capability
governed by an insane anti-Semite who does not hide his ambition to
wipe Israel off the map. While Russia is arming Teheran to the teeth,
the Bush Administration has no clear strategy to deal with this threat
from this charter member of the famed axis of evil. And the Democrats
are too preoccupied with appeasing their left base to pay much
attention to the matter." And, perhaps one of the reasons the White House may not appear to be thinking through these issues is because they are spending way too much time defending themselves, rather than engaging in a reasoned debate. The discussion is carried on in significant detail at The Moderate Voice. Gandelman notes that one needs to appreciate that "there truly are people out there who want to kill Americans en masse — and that is not an exaggeration." Yes, and I wish our politicians would stop fooling around and focus on that issue rather than the trivia and personal vendettas they seem consumed with.
A not unrelated post by Wretchard at The Belmont Club this morning discusses the impending dissolution of the West.
Read this terrific article by Thomas Lifson in The American Thinker regarding liberal-think (or non-think). The unwillingness of the left to engage in real intellectual dialogue is one of the reasons that their position is getting chipped away. People see through the various "memes" and begin to resent that they are being talked down to by those who "know better." And perhaps that is the ultimate problem with the liberal politics -- they know better - what health insurance you need, what your children should or shouldn't be taught, that religion is really bunk, and, that government can and needs to take care of poor people. Living in the "blue" northeast, I also share in the observations of Bookworm, who characterizes herself as a "crypto-conservative." There are a variety of environments where political discussion is simply not advisable! Bookworm points out on her blog Bookworm Room, however: "This is a warning for conservatives too. While we want to break the
liberal stranglehold on the media, we do not want to create our own
stranglehold, since that will inevitably lead to a conservative
intellectual decline as we slowly expire in our own idea-free echo
chamber. The point is to restore balance, something the liberals
rightly fear as the end of their intellectual reign."
The San Diego Union-Tribune has an indepth view into the sordid world of defense contracting and influence peddling related to Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's indictment. The San Diego based contractors paid money to carefully selected congressmen for them to then put pressure on the Department of Defense to fund projects of questionable utility. It is not pleasant to think that one of the players, "Dusty" Foggo, is third in command at the CIA right now. The National Journal's The Hotline picks up on the article's mention of a hospitality suite kept by the lobbiers which included several bedrooms, and wonders if we are about to see a "DC Sex Scandal" - that would certainly liven up the news.
Laura Rozen concludes: "In fact, what is most stunning about the San Diego Union-Tribune report and the Cunningham case in a larger sense is the outrageousness, the excesses of what goes on legally
every day in DeLay-run, GOP controlled Washington between lobbyists,
those seeking government contracts, and congressmen -- much less the
illegal straight-out bribes Cunningham has admitted receiving. How
corrupt the whole enterprise is, through and through." The only part I take exception with is that this is a Republican - Delay problem --- this problem runs through all political persuasions, and as the article makes clear, was happening during the Clinton years as well. The Clinton DOD could have cut the game short.
The All Spin Zone reports on work done by Cannonball and has some other cites. Randy Cunningham seems to be the tip of the iceberg.
Dick Armey has an excellent call-to-arms for Republicans in the OpinionJournal. He points out that right now many people can't tell Republicans from Democrats, and that isn't good. Armey supports the "Young Turks" who are pushing for budget cuts and agains the pork-laden bills. He includes pithy guiding principles or "Armey's Axioms":
(1) Make a deal with the devil and you're the junior partner. (2) You can't get your finger on the problem if you've got it in the wind. (3) When we act like us, we win. When we act like them, we lose.
It is downright fascinating to see how the Democrats are positioning themselves after the President's dynamite speech on Iraq this morning. The President laid it out -- we are making progress, the Iraqi's are taking responsibility and growing their skills, and Iraq will be a success if we persevere. So, not too surprisingly, Nancy Pelosi is in the cut-and-run camp. On the other hand, Senator Hillary Clinton, positioning herself carefully, suggests that the time to begin bringing troops home is in 2006. Well, this is interesting as it sounds like that might, in fact, happen under the "Bush Plan" if things keep progressing. Senator Kerry is obviously triangulating for a presidential run too: "[T]he best way to stand up for the troops is to provide the best policy for success." Yup, that's true, and maybe the Bush administration is on track for success. According to the Washington Post, Kerry argued: ""No one has ever suggested or believes that we should run in the face
of car bombers or assassins," Kerry said, referring to a passage in
Bush's speech. "No one is talking about running in the face of a
challenge. We're talking about how to win, how to succeed, how do you
best achieve our goals? That's the choice here. And what the president
did not do today again is acknowledge the fundamental reality of the
insurgency."" Well, this is a sea change in the perspective of the good Senator Kerry who is now talking about how we can win in Iraq, not how we crawl away as quickly as possible.
Betsy's Page highlights Max Boot's on-target commentary in the LA Times about why we can't trust democrats on issues of national security and defense. Their recent vacillations certainly don't instill any confidence! We do need to support the exceptions to this, particularly Joe Lieberman who has been consistent and just published an excellent statement in OpinionJournal. However, as you can get a hint of in the comments to this PrawfsBlawg entry, skepticism over Lieberman's views is rampant (and this is one of the more polite blogs).