Wow, this is something I didn't realize (from The Note):

On the national level, about 3 percent of voters — roughly 4 million — identified themselves as gay or lesbian in exit polls taken during the 2000 election. And of those, about 30 percent voted for the Republican nominee, George W. Bush.

That's roughly the same percentage as Bush received from the heavily-courted Hispanic community (32%) and obviously far better than he did with Black voters.

Furthermore - although I have zero evidence to back up this assertion - I'd suspect that this understates slightly Bush's total gay vote as it would seem likely that homosexuals open enough to admit their orientation on a survey would be on the whole more liberal than those still in the closet.
Beautiful piece in JoongAng Daily on Korean and Polish attitudes towards America:

Then, is there a natural dovetailing of Korea and Poland? The answer is no. Poland and Korea have taken different paths. Unlike the swell of anti-Americanism in Korea, Poland has deliberately moved closer to the United States.
The world was shocked by the news that Poland promised to send 200 troops to join forces from the United States and the United Kingdom against Iraq. But it was not surprising considering the attitude Poland has shown toward the United States. Warsaw, which decided to buy 48 F16 combat planes from the United States, took side with the United States, as European countries were divided between pro-American and anti-American. Poland welcomes the idea of being home to U.S. military bases. The Polish love independence. That is why they are allied with the United States so as not to repeat history.
President Roh Moo-hyun, who will soon visit the United States, should keep the Polish peole’s choice in mind.

The bottom line is that many Koreans have forgotten what America did - and continues to do - for her. Memories of liberation are still fresh in Polish minds.
The Economist has an interesting, and very unflattering, look at Silvio Berlusconi as he readies Italy to take the helm of the European Union's rotating presidency:

Instead, parliament might usefully be turning its attention to Mr Berlusconi's conflicts of interest. These have been a real or potential embarrassment since before his first prime ministership nine years ago, and it seemed incredible that simple decency had not ensured a resolution by the 2001 election. But Mr Berlusconi seems to find it hard to distinguish between propriety and proprietor. Nearly two years after taking office for the second time, a promised law to tackle his conflicts of interest has yet to be enacted. In the meantime, though Mr Berlusconi exercises huge influence over the state broadcaster, RAI, his family has yet to divest itself of Italy's three largest private television channels.

I really do find Berlusconi's leadership a tragically missed opportunity. While I don't pretend to be an expert in Italian politics, he does seem to have the right vision for that country, both domestically and internationally. It's a shame that corruption charges - real though they may be - are hampering the changes that both Italy and Europe as a whole desperately need.
This could be one hell of a good idea (via Blogs of War):

President Bush is expected to call Friday for the creation of a free-trade area linking the United States and several Middle East nations over the next decade.
Bush administration officials say the president will make the announcement during a speech at the University of South Carolina.
Officials say Mr. Bush is not prepared to say which Middle Eastern countries would join the free trade area. But the president is expected to extend the offer to Middle East states that agree to fight terrorism, and to carry out governmental reforms.

I wasn't sure how I felt about GOP threats to sue over Democratic filibusters of judicial nominees, but I suspected it's a pretty stupid idea.

Juan Non-Volokh says it is stupid, and I'm convinced.
I hadn't noticed these comments by London Mayor and resident loon Ken Livingstone until today:

The controversial left-wing leader made his attack on Thursday. He told a forum of 200 schoolchildren: "I think George Bush is the most corrupt president since Harding in the twenties. He is not the legitimate president."
He added: "This (The U.S. administration) really is a completely unsupportable government and I look forward to it being overthrown as much as I looked forward to Saddam Hussein being overthrown."

I love hearing this kind of thing - once your adversary resorts to desperate, nonsensical attacks, you know you've won.

UPDATE: Want to know more about Ken? Check out England's Sword.


Don't know what to make of this:

Two Romanian astronomers say their research shows Christ died at 3:00 pm on a Friday, and rose again at 4:00 am on a Sunday.
Liviu Mircea and Tiberiu Oproiu claim to have pinpointed the exact time and date of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection.
The pair, from the Astronomic Observatory Institute in Cluj, Romania, say Jesus died at 3:00 pm on Friday, 3 April, 33 AD, and rose again at 4:00 am on Sunday, 5 April.
Tim Blair found this Guardian editorial on Fox News' conservative bias. It includes such great lines as:

We don't want biased news over here.


Britain has a tradition of objectivity in broadcasting, which Mr Murdoch probably finds irksome.

Are the writers of the Guardian completely oblivious or brilliantly ironic?

As they say - we report, you decide.
Jeff Jarvis thinks Graham's support of the Patriot Act, and his general support of restrictions to civil liberties during the war on terror, will significantly hurt him in the Democratic primary.

Maybe, but I wonder if he hasn't already written off those voters given his decision to run as an "electable centrist."
And so it begins again.

Fred Barnes has the honor (as best I know) of being the first columnist of the current college football season to raise the cry for a playoff. With the ACC's raid of the no longer so Big East, Barnes says we finally have an opportunity to make a playoff work.

His plan:

The five big conference winners would get automatic berths: Big Ten (which has 11 teams), Southeastern Conference (12), Big 12, PAC 10, and the ACC (12). The other three would be wild cards. Football independents like Notre Dame would thus be able to get into the playoffs. Strong teams that didn't win their conference championship game would still have a chance to compete for the national title. In fact, one conference might have three or even four teams in the playoffs.

While the ACC expansion does make construction of an eight-team playoff a bit easier, it is not the "missing link in the creation of postseason playoffs" as Barnes would have you believe. I therefore give you:

The Indisputable Reasons Why College Football Should Never Have a Playoff

Where Will it be Played? - The most basic question that no one backing playoffs, in my opinion, has ever satisfactorily answered is where these games will be played. An eight-team playoff requires 3 rounds. Where are the preliminary rounds going to be played? One theory thrown around is to make the non-championship major bowls (rotating like the BCS does) host the 6 prelim games. Unfortunately, this simply won't draw fans. I was at the Florida-Miami Sugar Bowl a couple of years ago and it was nowhere near a sellout despite it being the final game of the season for 2 teams from a nearby state. Do you really think University of Washington fans are going to travel to, say, Miami for a first round game the weekend before Christmas? And please don’t compare it to the NCAA tournament – in that case 4 teams have to fill up a stadium 1/5th the size through significantly lower-priced seats.

OK, so what about playing them at the higher ranked team's home stadium? Won't that solve the problem of attendance? Maybe, but there are a couple of problems this plan, not the least of which is that Southern schools would never agree to it. You want to talk about a home field advantage, how about Florida State playing in South Bend not on November 1st like this year but at the end of December? Have you been to South Bend in December? Not fun. Bowden would never put his team in that position - and why should he? SEC, ACC, and other Southern teams are, generally speaking, built for speed, an advantage totally negated by a blizzard.

And the second problem with playing it at a host college? Money.

Money - The bowl season, as much as anything else, is about making money. Changing to a playoff, despite a potentially more lucrative TV deal, could have very negative, financial ramifications. If the prelims are played at neutral sites, as explained above, attendance would likely be lower than it is for that site's current bowl. To fill these seats, would the NCAA require participating teams to guarantee, say, 20,000 ticket purchases for each round as current bowls do? Schools could never afford this.

Moreover, community and corporate involvement will be dramatically reduced. Locals would no longer be supporting "The Orange Bowl" but instead "The Quarterfinal Game." Not quite as good for community pride, is it?

So what if we play the games on one of the participant’s campus? Forgetting about the fact that many of the potential teams simply don’t have significantly large stadiums, it would destroy the highly lucrative first tier bowls. Not only would this cause howling from those cities, it would negate much of the financial advantage from a playoff.

Looking further, who would control ticket distribution for these games - the host team or the NCAA? If the host runs ticketing, not only does it reduce the game's revenue potential (lower ticket prices, guaranteed tickets for students), but also raises the question of profit distribution - I'm sure the NCAA and the visiting team aren't going to allow the host to keep all of the money. Therefore it is logical that the NCAA would collect all profits from these games and institute a guaranteed payoff to participating teams, much like what the BCS does today. But the difference would that the $13mm BCS teams get today is not from the NCAA but from the bowl committees. This is important because it is the bowls themselves that have the task of running the operation and take the lion’s share of the game’s fiduciary risk. Does the NCAA now assume the risk and responsibility involved with actually running these games? How would this work? The NCAA, I suppose, could subcontract operations to the locals who run the regular season games at that stadium. But in taking over operations and ticket distribution, many of the same problems would arise as do from neutral sites. Do you really think 20,000 Gainesville residents will travel to Madison, WI for a first round game in December? Of course not, which means that to attract fans the NCAA will have to attract a fan base similar to who would attend a regular season game. Thus ticket prices would have to be far lower than they are for a current first-tier bowl, further reducing any financial incentive for a playoff.

It Won't Stop the Bitching - But what about all the good that will come from a playoff? Barnes says “No one would doubt that team's claim to the title. There would be no conflict in polls. There would be nothing for Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon to disagree about on ‘PTI.’”

Not a chance.

Look at the NCAA basketball tournament. Fans bitch about their team not getting the 65th slot, and you don’t think we’re going to complain when our team doesn’t get one of three at large bids? And, if home field goes to the higher ranked school, imagine the fights over the fourth and fifth seeds, especially if that means the difference between playing in, say, Miami or Ann Arbor.

Will a playoff eliminate some of the post-season fighting? Sure – but we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking an eight-team playoff is some sort of meritocracy panacea.

Why? - So what if we do solve all the problems above? What if they do find a way to solve the financial hurdles and the NCAA does convince Mark Richt to play in the snow? I say – so what? What is so bad about the current system? Yes, teams get screwed. The Irish beat Florida State in 1993, both teams finished with one loss, and yet the Noles got the national title. ND fans had a right to be pissed, and a playoff would have given them a chance to win the title. But so what? The arguing is fun. One of the things that makes college football so much fun is that, in the regular season unlike with basketball, every game matters. Why do we want to change that? If an eight-team playoff is a success, how long do you think it will take them to add one more round? Pretty soon, the regular season becomes meaningless.

Critics say the current system is broken. No way. The bowls are one of the true highlights of the sports year. The BCS has already taken away some of their glory - why do we want to eliminate them completely? So until someone can not only answer these objections, but also present a better affirmative case for a playoff than “Miami got screwed in 2000,” I say we keep the current, and fundamentally unbroken, bowl system.
One issue where anti-war fears were certainly justified is, post-conflict, that America may retreat from its newfound global responsibilities. Victory in Iraq has given us a golden opportunity to fundamentally change the global order, and it's imperative that we not miss this chance. One of the most crucial tests for American engagement will be Poland, now under intense pressure from Germany and France due to its support of efforts to overthrow Chirac's buddy Saddam:

Washington has offered Poland leadership of a 7,000-strong multinational force to keep the peace in a quarter of Iraq to reward Warsaw for its strong backing for the toppling of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
That has further strained ties between Poland and the European Union's anti-war heavyweights France and Germany, and may overshadow a three-way summit in Wroclaw on Friday meant to set the stage for Poland's EU entry referendum next month.
Undaunted, National Security Adviser Marek Siwiec said the controversy would at last add ''beef'' to the so-called ''Weimar Triangle,'' a decade-old format more noted for talk than action.
The Weimar Triangle was set up in 1991 to help anchor newly-democratic Poland in western Europe, and involves meetings with Germany and France.
LGF found this cool site celebrating Israeli achievements.
Using the Bennett debate as a springboard to larger issues, Andrew Sullivan writes:

But my major disappointment is that I haven't found anywhere in Bennett's enormous oeuvre any articulated defense of this crucial distinction between the societal effects of gambling and those of other private, consensual behaviors, like living with another man, or smoking weed, or watching porn. (Don't give me the lame "weed's illegal" argument. So is gambling in many states. I want to see an argument about why it should be illegal in the first place.) I see nothing wrong with any of these activities, and indeed would defend anyone's right to seek such pleasures (and, boy, are they pleasures) in their own time and their own homes.

But it's not a "lame" argument to say that the crucial distinction between Bennett's gambling and smoking pot is indeed their respective legalities. Regardless of one's views on weed, the fact remains that Catholic (and other faiths') teachings place great emphasis on obedience to (moral) secular laws. Sullivan says gambling is legal in many states and, thus, is seen by society as an equal vice. Yet the fact that he did not gamble anywhere other than Las Vegas and Atlantic City proves the importance of the legal distinction within Bennett's morality. If he would have been going to a bookie, then any weed-gambling distinction would have been blurred as his great error would have been in simply breaking the law. But the fact that he gambled only where the law allowed means he saw the legal question as also an ethical concern.


Occam found an interesting article noting that it seems to be Jews themselves who are having the hardest time believing that America is ready for a non-Christian President:

In the most flabbergasting wrinkle of the early campaign season, Lieberman's fund raising has been hampered by the reluctance of some Jews to donate to a Jewish candidate. "This is so illogical," says a close Lieberman friend. "How is it possible that Jews are the biggest problem? It is hurting Lieberman financially."
The paradox is a testament to a paranoid streak in part of the Jewish community still traumatized by the Holocaust. No other segment of the population appears to hold Lieberman's Jewishness against him, and he is running strong among Southern Christians.
The hesitance of Jewish donors was discussed at a meeting of Lieberman's national finance committee last Wednesday in Washington, D.C. "There's no doubt there has been an initial concern among some Jewish givers over whether America is ready for a Jewish president," says Lieberman fund-raiser and former Rep. Mel Levine. "The irony is you don't hear that outside the Jewish community at all."

Like Kennedy's Catholicism in 1960 (which the article briefly discusses), I don't think America is troubled by the thought of a Jewish President. Indeed, I'd say that a professed atheist would have a far harder time winning - and leading - than an Orthodox Jew.

That said, I think it's worth considering that Lieberman will be faced with a great challenge internationally on matters relating to Israel. Consider this excerpt from Jeffery L. Sheler's piece in the March 10 issue of US News and World Report:

Still, some wonder if the president might be influenced by evangelical teachings that envision an end-of-the-world battle between Israel and its enemies. "It would be dangerous for a president to take a particular theology like that and apply it to world events," says Charles Colson, an evangelical commentator and former Nixon aide. "I have no reason to believe President Bush has done that." White House spokesman Ari Fleischer has emphasized that Bush makes his judgments on Iraq and other issues as a "secular leader." Even so, Bush's religious allies say they're comforted knowing he seeks divine wisdom. "I sleep more peacefully at night," says Cizik, "knowing that the president is a man who trusts in the Lord."

This has certainly become a refrain we've heard over and over again - Bush and other evangelicals back Israel because of their kooky apocalyptic vision for the world. It couldn't be simply that Israel is a freedom-loving democracy in a sea of fascist thugs.

Now if Bush has these accusations thrown at him due to his support of Israel, one can only imagine what the French will say when it's a Jewish President backing Israel.

This is certainly not to say that this concern should harm Lieberman's chances at the Presidency. As they say, if worries about French and Arab reaction prevent a Jew from being elected, the terrorists most certainly win. Nevertheless, it is worth at least recognizing the very real trouble Lieberman might face in attempting to implement his very correct foreign policy vision.
Geoffrey Wawro has a fascinating look at the creation of a new Italy, and the path that got it here.

I'm glad we've signed a free trade pact with Singapore, but I'm pretty uncomfortable with the idea that they got theirs ahead of Chile based on Iraq war politics. Free trade with Chile has been a long time coming, and to get elbowed out at the last minute over an unrelated issue strikes me as poor form. Linkage has its place in international relations, but Santiago isn't Paris: the Chilean failure over Iraq wasn't one of vehement opposition so much as lukewarm apathy toward our drive for war. One might assert, as Instapundit does, that crossing the United States ought to be expensive, but vengeance as national policy is best left to states more suited for it -- pre-1914 France, interwar Germany, the Arab nations. This is America.

I'm not fully decided to what extent we should make countries pay for backing, but we must never forget that America's greatness is built on our ability to set - and live up to - higher standards for ourselves than the world expects from an ordinary nation.
This week's Carnival is up over at Common Sense and Wonder.
Great point made by Iain Murray on the ICC:

It's funny that some of the people who declaim about international sovereignty the most in relation to Iraq are also great fans of the ICC idea. If you believe in legitimate sovereignty, you should also believe in the idea that nations that pass certain tests possess the right to self-determination. That includes, I have to say, the right to wage war on countries that the nations consider threats. It is, as Blackstone might put it, an auxiliary right of legitimate nationhood. We need to get beyond the ideas that nations in and of themselves are equal. A legitimate nation draws its legitimacy from the uncoerced consent of the governed. Anyone else forfeits the rights of a sovereign state in my book. This is probably a bit simplistic, but it's the gist of my belief, and what else are you gonna do at 1:12 in the morning?

Certainly throughout most of history, the primacy of international sovereignty was a conservative, not liberal ideal (yes - forgetting about those terms' changing definitions - but you know what I mean). Yet Murray correctly notes that even liberal internationalists now believe that "nations in and of themselves are equal." Does that mean we're all realists now?

Yes, but only because modern multilateralists see this aspect of realism as a necessary evil. Multilateralism - the belief in the inherent good of international institutions - requires sovereign egalitarianism. Set one nation above another, as Murray notes is eminently logical when comparing, say, democratic America to fascist Syria, is, unfortunately for multilateralists, wholly incompatible with their dreams for supranational institutions. Therefore, these internationalists are forced to reject the logical distinctions Murray draws between legitimate and illegitimate government because such acceptance would draw into question the validity of the UN and the ICC.
I don't really know why exactly, but I find this pretty cool:

The first ever non-white was sworn in on Tuesday to the Swiss Guard, which has protected popes for almost five hundred years, in a move apparently aimed at mending the corps' tarnished image.
Indian-born Dhani Bachmann, who was adopted as a baby by a Swiss couple, pledged allegiance to the corps along with 31 other new recruits, all clad in the stripy blue, yellow and red uniform that is little changed since the Renaissance.
Boston Globe:

But after a year and a half of strong statements from President Bush about fighting terrorism, along with his equally strong backing of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel, some prominent analysts in both parties say they detect a shift in the Jewish community. For the first time in more than 20 years, one Democratic pollster said he sensed an erosion of support from Jewish activists that could affect the presidential race. And according to researchers at B'nai Brith, younger Jewish Americans seem more likely to lean Republican than their parents.
Younger Jews do not have the attachment to defining moments in Democratic history like the New Deal that their parents and grandparents do, making them more open to consider voting for a Republican candidate, the researchers said.

Let's hope so.


Very Interesting:

Emissions of greenhouse gases from the European Union increased in 2001 for the second year running.
The European Environment Agency (EEA) estimates they were 1% greater than in 2000.
The EU as a whole is committed to reducing emissions by 8% on their 1990 levels by between 2008 and 2012.
On present trends, it appears to stand almost no chance of keeping its promise.
The 8% cut is the commitment made by the EU under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement on tackling climate change.

And then there's this:

There are now doubts about the willingness of Russia to do so, because some of its prominent scientists apparently believe climate change could be beneficial to the country.
It is organising a world climate conference in Moscow in late September, to re-examine the science of climate change.

But I thought global warming was proven, and anyone who doesn't believe in it may as well be a member of the Flat-Earth Society?

UK global warming sceptic Professor Philip Stott had the best response:

"While lecturing everybody else, especially America, on the morality of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it has been abundantly clear from the start that most European countries didn't have a snowflake in hell's chance of meeting their own Kyoto targets."
Well, we may suspected this reason, but now it's confirmed:

The Vatican’s Congregation for Eastern Churches head, Syrian Cardinal Ignace Moussa Daoud I, has said the Pope's statements helped to prevent an anti-Christian reaction in the Muslim world.
He said Arab Christians were grateful to the Holy Father for the part he played.
"There was a big danger that Christians would be considered allies of the Americans, but thanks be to God all this was avoided because of the positions taken by the Pope and the Vatican”, he said.
The Pope’s statements against the concept of a "preventive war” had won new friends among Muslims, he added.

I fully understand this justification, but should moral doctrine really be based on appeasement of murderers?
Interesting quote today from the always interesting Lileks:

This is my favorite line from the news story:

“McCarthy flourished during Cold War anxieties, with some parallels to today's fear of terrorism.”

You remember when the Soviets drove a 707 into the Empire State Building.

My first reaction was "heh, that's funny." He's right that we need to fight hard against a group of people who genuinely desire our destruction.
Unfortunately, in doing so, he downplays the very real threat posed by the Soviets during the Cold War. While they may not have succeeded in killing thousands of New Yorkers, it wasn't for lack of desire. The Soviets also desired our destruction, and they most certainly did have operatives working in America, trying to undermine our system just as Islamic fundamentalists are today. Did McCarthy go to far and, thus, are comparisons between the two eras basically ridiculous? Absolutely. But we shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking Communism wasn't a very real menace, as dangerous then as Islamo-fascism is today.
Today's Note is also touting Graham's strengths:

We cannot figure out to save our lives why Graham is not being taken more seriously as a formidable candidate by the Gang of 500.
He is from the ultimate mega-state of presidential politics; he's been an overwhelmingly popular governor and senator; he can tout his electability, without anyone challenging it or giggling; he has a record on national security, health care, and the economy; he is unflappable; he has attracted a top-level staff in a hurry; he is well-liked in Washington and in his homestate; he has a strong fundraising record; he's a genuinely nice guy with fewer airs about him than anyone running; he has a loyal staff; etc.

While the buzz immediately following South Carolina was the return of Lieberman's momentum, I wouldn't be surprised if the next hot meme is the growing strength of the Graham campaign.
Mark Byron (link bloggered) also thinks Graham would be the Democrat who'd give the GOP the biggest headache.
The BBC is reporting:

A row has erupted over the control of a shrine devoted to one of Roman Catholicism's most popular and controversial saints, Padre Pio.
The Vatican has angered Capuchin monks in the southern Italian town of San Giovanni Rotondo by removing the sanctuary from their control.

But yesterday it was reported independently from Rome:

Responding to media reports, the Vatican denied it has removed the Capuchins from pastoral care at St. Padre Pio's shrine.
Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls said in a statement today that "the Capuchin Fathers will continue to run the shrine."

Might be just a case of miscommunication, but I can't help but think that there's more to this story than is out.
Hilarious (link bloggered):

NOSTRADAMUS predicted this, you know. Here's the relevant quatrain:

The great power and the weaker one
Shall in conflict create a grander being;
His words of unshaken faith
Then appear on garments of the beasteater

BBQ aprons bearing Mo Sahhaf's undying line "God will roast their stomachs in hell" are possibly the coolest Mo-related gimmick thus far, along with this t-shirt: "We will kill all of them ... most of them."
I disagree with Andrew Sullivan's "Republican Hubris Watch" today:

A reader emails:

"I was visiting relatives in Des Moines, Iowa, this past weekend. I noticed in several different neighborhoods the following yard sign: 'I stand with President George W. Bush and our Troops.' This is, as far as I can tell, an official GOP yard sign. I saw it in many different yards, and I saw it plastered to the front window of the GOP headquarters downtown. The coloring and lettering are identical to the official 'President Bush' bumperstickers I've seen. If that's not hubris and an attempt to politicize the military, I don't know what is. The implication is clear: those who support Bush support the troops, and those who don't support Bush don't support the troops. If that is the GOP message for 2004, hubris is truly ascendant."

Is this an official sign? If it is, it does strike me as pushing the limits.

Both Sullivan and the reader are reading a bit too much into this, I think. Yeah, it's a bit ridiculous to say "pro-Bush=pro-troops," but honestly, aren't most slogans that absurd? What about Democratic signs that say voting for its candidate is "pro-woman?" Or when supporting a Democrat is "pro-teacher?" Are we Republicans really anti-woman and anti-education?

I don't really have a problem with this sort of campaigning - it's not hubris, just hyperbole.
The bullpen does it again. These guys are gonna kill me.


Terry M. Neal writes of Dean's anti-war stance:

His stance on the war was a gamble he appears to have lost. But even some pro-war Democrats might appreciate his principled opposition and refusal to fudge his position when the polls made it clear most Americans feel differently.

Wait a second. We're not talking about simply a principled stand in the face of hostile public opinion - Eisenhower sending in the troops to enforce school integration, for example. Instead Dean is sticking by his previous position in the face of overwhelming evidence that he was wrong. Why should this be a positive? Shouldn't we want a president who can reevaluate a situation based on new facts?
I always knew country music caused drinking, but violence too?

Listening to the melancholic country singer Johnny Cash can trigger violent thoughts and feelings, according to a study.
Psychologists have shown that A Boy Named Sue - the 1969 top 10 hit which tells of a young man seeking bloody revenge on his father for giving him a girl's name - increases negative and aggressive emotions in the listener.
Slate has an excellent analysis of what Clinton should - and should not - get credit for in Iraq II:

In other words, the military generally goes about its business, and it is often a mere coincidence which president pays for researching, developing, or deploying a particular weapon. It is doubtful that Clinton knew what a Predator was, nor is it likely that Bush could have passed an exam on the topic before the war in Afghanistan made it famous. Contrary to many Republicans' claims, Bill Clinton did not weaken the U.S. military—far from it. On the other hand, as defense analyst William Arkin put it, "If Jesse Jackson had been president, we would still have JDAM."

Kaplan focuses on the munitions used in and the planning of the war. One topic he really doesn't discuss is the overall moral of the military, an area in which Republican claims that Clinton weakened the military does have some validity. I have enough faith in our troops' professionalism, however, that should they have been asked to move into Iraq under Clinton, they would have performed just as skillfully as they did under Bush, regardless of their personal feelings for the Commander in Chief.
So now the problem with Bill Bennett is that liberals don’t believe he’s as lucky of a gambler as he says he is.

Listening to the Democrats attack the Bush's tax cuts, both past and proposed, I've been doing some thinking about the optimal level of taxation.

I started with two basic assumptions. The first is that, at a given state of the economy, there is an optimal level of taxation, a state where revenues are maximized with minimal harm done to the economy as a whole. While certainly this is a variable of one's view on government spending, even the most liberal democrats would never call for 100% taxation while no libertarian would argue that no taxation was needed. Therefore, within the context of a set level of government spending, we should, theoretically, be able to come up with an agreed upon level of taxation.

My second assumption, however, is that this figure is fundamentally unknowable.

With these in mind, I turn to the current debate. Recognizing that the optimal level of taxation is indeed unknowable, in supporting tax cuts Republicans argue simply that we do know that this level is below current figures.

The Democratic candidates, I’m afraid, are being far less intellectually honest. To a man (and woman), they’ve argued against any future cuts and many have come out in favor of repealing those implemented in 2001. Yet none are calling for more than minimal additional hikes. Why?

There really can be only two answers. One is that Reagan, with help by the small increases under Bush I and Clinton, brilliantly established the optimal level of taxation. Are Democrats really ready to argue that they were wrong to fight against those cuts back in the early 80s since those reductions have now produced the perfect tax level? I doubt it, especially considering John Edwards’ use of “Reaganomics” as a slur in South Carolina over the weekend.

What, then, is the only other possible answer? That Democrats, despite their protestations to the contrary, actually believe the optimal tax level is far higher than it is today. If so, why are they afraid to say this? Obviously because it doesn’t sell politically. Yet shouldn’t we, when deciding whom to vote for in 2004, consider the fact that any Democratic candidate would raise our taxes significantly if they could get away with it? After all, they do philosophically believe our taxes are too low, they’re just afraid to say so publicly.
I’ve made my post-debate adjustments to the Grille’s odds on the Democratic primary. I’ve bumped Kerry down a bit as I now think he’ll need a significant victory in NH to keep any frontrunner momentum. I’ve also taken Edwards down and moved Lieberman up, as it looks like the Senator from Connecticut has taken the moderate Democrat banner. I’ve also moved Dean up slightly, not because I really think he’ll win, but given the uncertainty that exists between now and next spring, 20-1 odds are just hard to justify.

As always, let me know what you think of my assessment!
Iain Murray has the final word on the Bill Bennett "scandal."
Jeff Jarvis delves into an interesting political "what-if:"

"If, God forbid, we suffer another terrible attack, the entire game called the presidential race will change again. The Demo doves will fade away. The hawks will fly."

I'm not so sure. Certainly - assuming that gross negligence by the Bush administration is not to blame for the new attack - a majority of Americans will once again rally around the hawks. As with 9/11, the government will be given great latitude to pursue the guilty parties both domestically and internationally. Additionally, just as after 9/11, Jarvis is correct that Hawks will get a political boost nationally as more moderates see the need to hunt down the perpetrators.

But that's not what's going to decide the Democratic nomination. Right now, looking at postwar popular support for the Iraqi conflict, I'd say that roughly 50% of likely Democratic primary voters are "peace-at-any-cost," with the remainder of the party more moderate. Therefore, the real question is whether a new attack would cause a significant number of Dean's "Democratic Wing" to morph into hawks. That seems unlikely. This group, despite the discovery of mass graves as well as egregious French duplicity, still insists that war in Iraq was unjustified. A second attack, therefore, would be seen as proof of the foolishness of the war in Iraq, and their claim that Bush caused the terrorism by enflaming the Arab Street would resonate with this extreme wing. Therefore, since I don't believe that a large number of these doves will suddenly switch views, even a second horrendous attack on America won't have a seismic impact on the Democratic nomination.
Happy Cinco De Mayo - celebrating yet another ass-kicking of the French!


Great article in today's WaPo - required reading for those of you (everyone outside Florida) who doesn't know much about Bob Graham.

The Republican partisan in me certainly wants to see Graham remain obscure - he's one of the Democrats who scares me most. Largely moderate and able to carry Florida, but still ideologically pure enough for the Democratic base, Graham would definitely give Bush a race in 04.

That said, a strong Graham showing in the primaries would be good for America. Democrats need another strong, intelligent voice on foreign affairs to counteract John "Served in Vietnam" Kerry and Al "Slap the Donkey" Sharpton. And, frankly, it terrifies me to think that men like Dean have views that actually reflext a large swath of America. I'd like to think that Graham's foreign affairs based candidacy could inject some needed sense into the Democratic soul-searching on the subject.

And, despite my fears expressed above, a Bush-Graham battle in the general would also be positive. America needs a real debate on the future of American foreign policy, and Graham is the only candidate positioned to accept this challenge. Lieberman, internationally, really is Bush-light, while the other candidates - even those with intelligent positions like Edwards - desperately want to shift the debate to domestic policy. Graham, with his emphasis on Hezbollah over Iraq, actually has a well thought out, differentiated policy position. Most importantly, he has a desire to talk about it.

As a Republican, I'm pulling for Dean - but as an American, I'm rooting for Graham.
Yes, I know he tied the game last night and, yes, I know this slump won't continue no matter how much Yankee fans boo, but I'm still enjoying spelling Mendoza: