Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Carnival of Divided Government Septimus Decimus - Scary Halloween Edition

UPDATED
Welcome to the October 31, 2007 edition of the Carnival of Divided Government Septimus Decimus - Scary Halloween Edition. This the latest in a continuing series of irregularly scheduled compilations of bloody blog posts, ghostly essays, and horrifying articles on divided government conjured up from the blogosphere and the demon infested inferno of main stream media.

While scary, this carnival cannot compare to the heart stopping fear induced by yet another Presidential debate. Last night, it was the Democrats in Philadelphia on MSNBC. I had to choose between attempting yet another death defying live-blogging the
live-bloggers or get this Carnival edition out on time. Since you are reading this (hopefully on Halloween) - you already know I chose to fulfill my Carnival responsibility. I chose wisely, but did watch the debate. Seeing Edwards, Dodd and Obama stalking Clinton, shooting silver bullets, and attempting to put a stake through the heart of the vampire queen put me in the right mood for this carnival theme. Equally frightening, was watching the undead candidacy of Richardson and Kucinich desperately searching for fresh blood and invoking UFO's. Spooky. As usual, a good summary and coverage by Andrew Sullivan, Joe Gandelman and Nick Gillespie.

Introduction

As explained in earlier editions, we have adopted Latin ordinal numeration in order to impart a patina of gravitas reflecting the historical importance of the series. In this edition, as in all of the CODGOV series, we select volunteers and draftees from the blogosphere and main stream media on the singular topic of government divided between the major parties (leaving it to the reader to sort out volunteers from draftees). Consistent with this topic, the primary criteria for acceptance in the carnival is to explicitly use the words and/or concept of "divided government" in submitted posts. A criteria that, to our endless befuddlement, is ignored by many of the bloggers submitting posts, which sadly results in DWSUWF reluctantly ignoring their fine submissions. Without further ado...

Ten Spine Tingling Divided Government Posts.

We begin with Andrew Roth at The Club for Growth, who fears that "Congress Reaches the Wrong Milestone":
"My good friend Rob Bluey notes that the U.S. House has had more than 1,000 roll call votes so far this year. On the surface, it looks like the Democrats are doing something, but if you investigate further, you'll see that they aren't doing much of anything. Of course, this is a double edge sword. Divided government is preventing a lot of bad proposals from passing, but it's also preventing a lot of good ones, too."
Nothing to be afraid of Andrew. That is the way divided government is supposed to work. You see, the Democrats may not agree that the bills that are being prevented from passing are all "good ones". When Democrats and Republicans craft bills that both agree is a "good one", it will pass.

BNJ at Cynical Nation is haunted by the bone chilling realization that maintaining a divided government means voting Republican for President, and choosing from that lot presents quite "The libertarian dilemma":

"Yeah, there are things about Rudy that concern me. There are aspects of all the candidates that concern me. Most libertarians I know are accustomed to making tough, pragmatic choices as to which half-a-loaf they're going to cast their lot with. So what's a small-l libertarian to do? All the Democrats, without exception, want to roll back the Bush tax cuts, so that puts them at an extreme disadvantage with me right off the bat. Furthermore, I think divided government is the best friend a libertarian can have in the real world. With Congress firmly in Democratic hands, I'm reluctant to send a Democrat to the White House unless I just have to."

He does not have to send a Democrat to the White House in 2008. I hope my comment exorcised his electoral demons. This edition BNJ scores a rare two-fer with his perfectly titled post "The Joys of Divided Government":

"I was just encouraged that Bush could actually veto a spending bill, because I was really beginning to doubt it. But this is exactly why I think divided government is the least of all evils. Does anyone doubt for a minute that Bush would have happily signed the exact same bill had it been sent to him by a Republican congress? I don't. God knows he signed off much worse budgetary abominations during the past six years."

So true.

Christopher arrives at a similar conclusion at the The Charter of Dreams when he invokes the nightmare of single party control of the federal government. His post has a complex title utilized frightening new mind control technology "The Presidential Logic of a Giuliani Candidacy: New York City (the way it was) and Divided Government":
"Finally, the Democrats will probably hold onto the House and Senate in 2008 (because the GOP screwed up -- and they know it), so by putting a Giuliani in the White House, we'll be giving divided government a chance. Disclosure about how well I'm trying to manipulate you: the headline of this post has an Emotional Marketing Value Score of 47.06% with equal appeals to your intellectual and empathetic spheres . . ."

I had no idea WTF Christopher was talking about with that title score, but I did find it oddly compelling. Following the link, I determimed that the title of this post has a barely competent EMV score of 30%.

Chad Wilcox at Quiet Declarations has "A different take on Conservatism":
"...the challenge of that definition of conservativism is that it’s by definition a reactionary ideology, which may help to explain why it’s most effective when it is in a position of checking (as in a minority or divided government) or reforming (see: Contract with America) as opposed to enacting and executing laws derived from a consistent set of principles."
It is as good a theory as any to explain why good "Dr. Jekyll" conservatives turn into evil "Mr. Hyde" Big Spending, Big Deficit, Big Government Republicans when they hold all the cards in Washington.

Jacques Mistral at InTimeConviction explains the US government to his countrymen in "A Washington, le Congrès gouverne, le Président administre" [In Washington, the Congress controls, the President manages]:
"D’où le Congrès tire-t-il son pouvoir opérationnel, disons son pouvoir de gouverner puisque c’est le terme employé à propos du partage des tâches entre la Maison Blanche et la Colline (à titre d’exemple, l’équivalent de ce que nous appelons cohabitation se dit "divided government")? Tout simplement de ce que c’est lui, pas le pouvoir exécutif, qui décide des programmes, de la création des agences chargées de les mettre en œuvre et de leur financement, de ce qu’il consent, au Sénat, à la nomination de leur dirigeant et procède finalement à leur évaluation permanente au fil d’innombrables hearings."
I cannot disagree.

XWL at Immodest Proposals has been digging in the dark dusty graveyard of the NYT archives and unearthed an eerie parallel to the 1920 presidential election in "The more things change":
"Partisanship is nothing new. Fear of an overcharged executive branch is nothing new. For those playing along at home [my party]=Republican Party, [other party]=Democratic Party, and [foreign entanglement]=joining the League of Nations. The more things change . . . I wonder how much of this script will Sen. Clinton pick up? Will she suggest ending 'divided government' be a good thing? Will she suggest that she will rein in the executive branch? Will she offer a foreign policy that gives "peace in industry"? Will she offer the people "relief from anxiety and gratitude for a common-sense future"?"
Will the ghosts of election pasts possess the Democratic front runner? We shall see.

I suspect that Jimmy Atkinson gratuitously inserted the worlds "divided government" into his post "Comparison: Presidential Candidates on Major Healthcare Issues" posted at NOEDb: Nursing Online Education Database just to meet our criteria for inclusion in this carnival:
"Americans have lost patience with a failing healthcare system in our divided government, but some answers - such as a universal healthcare system - meet resistance in some quarters. The dissatisfaction is so palpable that other countries have picked up on the raw statistics to use as comparisons to their systems. This article addresses prominent healthcare problems and how each Republican and Democratic presidential candidate stands on those issues."
No matter. Rules are rules. If you mention divided government, you're in the carnival. Regardless, this is a great post, as Jimmy offers an excellent and comprehensive overview of health care issues and the positions staked out by the major presidential candidates. Well worth the read.

TBlumer at Bizzy Blog is experiencing some time management issues, but is not too busy to note this benefit of divided government in "So Many Posts Backed up, So Little Time":
"The federal deficit came in at $162.8 billion, down over 1/3 from last year, and $98 billion lower than where Bush in 2003 or 2004 promised it would be in the 2009-2010 budget, i.e., two years from now. September revenues were right at what I expected, but September spending was even lower than expected. Those who think that divided government in Washington is a good thing have a measure of vindication in the fact that total 2006-2007 spending was only 2.8% higher than 2005-2006 — not much higher than inflation, and the lowest rate of increase in a very long time."
Ah... sweet sweet vindication.

Barbara O'Brien at the Mahablog missed the last Republican debate and ruminates about the history and future of Conservatism in America after reading a Guardian article in "Wild Things":
"Tomasky points out that “movement conservatism” has been around since the 1950s, but not until the Bush Administration did movement conservatives have complete control of the federal government. Reagan had a Democratic Congress, and when the Republicans took over the Congress in the 1990s they had to deal with a Democratic president. Divided government moderated what the Right could achieve and provided righties with someone to blame for whatever went wrong."
Good observation, and with any luck, in 2009, divided government will moderate what the left can achieve and provided lefties with someone to blame for whatever goes wrong. I love it when a plan comes together.

Finally, we would be remiss if we did not modestly note some of the reaction to an excellent recent post on the subject by um... me. Bloggers joining the conversation initiated by said post "Voting By Objective" include: Mike the Actuary musing "On the Benefits of Divided Government"; Michael van der Galiën asking "Why Should You Vote for Divided Government"; Pete Abel posting at Central Sanity with "Divided-Government vs. Best-Candidate Voting", and at the Moderate Voice with "Situational vs. Ideological Voting".

One marginally off-topic post.

Finally, although we try to keep this carnival focused on the specific topic of divided government, we traditionally include one off topic post as a grudging acknowledgment and symbolic proxy for the many off-topic posts submitted. This month we venture overseas, with a post that does not speak to US divided government issues at all, is focused on a purely local issue, but nevertheless speaks to the efficacy of restraining bad government at bay by keeping politicians at each others throat.

Riversider presents "Ribble Barrage and Floodplain Building Developments Take 'Backward Step' - Has The Ribble Been Saved?" posted at Save The Ribble, saying,
"We are winning our environmental argument by setting one local council against another using the power of local blogging. Divide and Rule works both ways!"
As a fisherman, with an abiding affection for natural, healthy, free-flowing trout infested rivers, I really enjoyed reading Riversider's account of the efforts to save the Ribble. Check it out.

Miscellany

With that we conclude this edition. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for all of the submissions (on-topic or not). The next edition will be the Carnival of Divided Government Duodêvîcêsimus - Special Winter Solstice Edition, to be posted on or about December 22nd, 2007. It'll be a long stretch between now and then - unavoidable since my wife and I will be leaving next week for a month long trip exploring West Africa, and the blog will likely be on hiatus. Unavoidable unless - somebody would like to volunteer to host a Carnival of Divided Government between now and then. If you are up for it, Send me an email at DWSUWF AT Gmail DOT com. In either case, Blog articles may be submitted for the next carnival of divided government using the carnival submission form. Past posts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

UPDATE: 11/02/07 11/09/07
I know this is well past Halloween, but I needed to add a few more links.

Carnivalingus

Some recent carnivals and compilations of note:

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.


Monday, October 29, 2007

GWB vs. LBJ Redux

Last week David Lightman wrote a column for McClatchy Newspapers comparing the spending record of the current Bush administration to the generally acknowledged gold standard of big government spending - LBJ. The column was entitled "Bush is the biggest spender since LBJ", but the statistics quoted in the article crown George W. Bush as the U.S. discretionary spending champion of the modern era:
"Take almost any yardstick and Bush generally exceeds the spending of his predecessors. When adjusted for inflation, discretionary spending — or budget items that Congress and the president can control, including defense and domestic programs, but not entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare — shot up at an average annual rate of 5.3 percent during Bush’s first six years, Slivinski calculates. That tops the 4.6 percent annual rate Johnson logged during his 1963-69 presidency. By these standards, Ronald Reagan was a tightwad; discretionary spending grew by only 1.9 percent a year on his watch ... Brian Riedl, a budget analyst at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group, points to education spending. Adjusted for inflation, it's up 18 percent annually since 2001, thanks largely to Bush’s No Child Left Behind act. The 2002 farm bill, he said, caused agriculture spending to double its 1990s levels. Then there was the 2003 Medicare prescription drug benefit — the biggest single expansion in the program’s history — whose 10-year costs are estimated at more than $700 billion. And the 2005 highway bill, which included thousands of “earmarks,” or special local projects stuck into the legislation by individual lawmakers without review, cost $295 billion. “He has presided over massive increases in almost every category … a dramatic change of pace from most previous presidents,” said Slivinski."

The column got a lot of attention in the blogosphere and MSM, including the Washington Post, James Joyner at Outside The Beltway, Justin Gardner at Donklephant, Steven Reynolds at the All Spin Zone, 6SpeedTA95 at The Liberty Lounge, The Street.com, Gray Matter, Leisure Guy at Later On, Deraj at Volcanvo, Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters, Investor's Business Daily, Taylor Marsh, USA Today, Houston Chronicle, MVDG Gazette, and many more.

The most interesting aspect of this coverage, is that they all missed the real story, including David Lightman. The source of the data used in Lightman's story is the research done by Stephen Slivinski, Director of Budget Studies at the Cato Institute, author of Buck Wild, and DWSUWF favorite. As Stephen himself explains:
"Further to Dan’s post below, here’s the McClatchy story arguing that President Bush is the biggest spending president since LBJ. The article got lots of notice — probably because it was linked on the Drudge Report for most of Wednesday. The story is mostly old news — I’ve been making the same point for years. But, because it is based on updated data that I provided to the reporter, I’m happy to see the message ripple through the news cycle."
This is also old news to DWSUWF readers, as we have been covering Slivinski's analysis of this story since May, 2006. So what is the real story? It is not about whether GWB or LBJ is the biggest spender. It is not about whether Republicans or Democrats are bigger spenders. It is about spending under divided vs. single party control of the government. Once more, lets go to the source of the research for the Lightman column - Stephen Slivinski from September, 2006:
"...government grows slower when at least one house of Congress is controlled by a political party different than the president's—a condition known to political scientists as "divided government," or popularly known as "gridlock. Since 1965, government has grown slower in periods of divided government than in periods of united government. On average, united government tends to lead to a 3.4% annual increase in federal spending in real per capita terms—over double the growth under divided government: 1.5%. When you look at the data in terms of how fast government grew in relation to the economy, the results still favor divided government. The average yearly increase in government above and beyond GDP growth is 25 times faster when one party has a monopoly over both the legislative and executive branches than it does when gridlock is present. The one thing you can usually count on in Washington is partisanship. When Republicans are the beleaguered minority—or a congressional majority fighting a big-spending White House—they are in their element. Big Government is the clear enemy. But once they find themselves in control of it all, they don't rein each other in. Instead, they egg each other on. We can see this by comparing how a GOP Congress treated the proposed non-defense budgets of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. During the years of divided government under Clinton, a sort of gridlock ensued. The Republican Congress managed to cut Clinton's domestic spending requests by an average of $9 billion each year between fiscal 1996 and 2001. Contrast that with the budget outcomes under President Bush—specifically the years in which Congress was held entirely by Republicans. Between fiscal years 2003 and 2006, Congress passed, and Bush refused to veto, non-defense budgets that were an average of $16 billion more than the president proposed each year."

To my knowledge, William Niskanen, former chariman of President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers, was the first to document this effect. Slivisnski's research has built on and amplified Niskanen's work. It is beyond dispute that the two biggest spending Presidents of the last 50+ years are GWB and LBJ. Depending on which metrics are used, one can quibble about who is the single biggest spending pig, but by any measure, they are the top two. LBJ led a unified Democratic government during his tenure. GWB led a unified Republican government for the first six years of his administration. During the time this administration also enjoyed majority control in the legislature, discretionary spending was increasing at over 7% per year, blowing away LBJ's record. Since GWB faced a divided government this year, the annual spending increase has dropped to a 3% rate. I am not going to try and explain the mechanism of why it works. It just does. Every time, without exception. If the objective of limiting the growth of federal spending is important to you, there is one sure way to get there - keep this government divided.

Let's not kid ourselves. A single party Democratic government in 2009 will be every bit as bad as the single party Republican government of the last six years. The only difference will be which special interests and lobbyists will be the beneficiary of the increased spending of our tax dollars. The logical vote in 2006 was to vote for a straight Democratic ticket to divide our government. The logical vote to avoid LBJ Redux in 2009 is to vote for a Republican president in 2008 to keep it divided.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Red Wind




There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.

-- Raymond Chandler - Red Wind from Trouble is my Business

The Santa Ana wind driving the Southern California fires has eased, offering hope that the fires can be soon contained. Photos in the slideshow above are from the Flickr group Southern California Fires - 2007. Our thoughts are with friends, firefighters and bloggers living, breathing and feeling the fire from way too close.

Dale Franks at Q&O Blog has a photographic report in "San Diego Fires":

"This volume of displacements easily eclipses the size of the Katrina evacuations in Louisiana. At the same time, however, things seem to be working far better than they did in New Orleans. San Diego's "Superdome" is Qualcomm Stadium, and it is a primary gathering point for refugees. By all accounts, the crowd is calm, and in mostly good spirits, despite the fact that refugees are being accosted by roving bands of clowns. Yes, you read that right. Clowns. With red noses and everything. I can't think of anything that would lower my spirits more, but apparently there are some misguided people who do not believe that clowns are the embodiment of menacing evil."
Matthew Søberg Shugart has been monitoring the fires from his blog Fruits and Votes - this from his post "Lull":

"The good news is that the wind has died down. The bad news is that the wind has died down.This is the view to the southeast (over the persimmons) to the southeast at about 7:40 this morning.1 That’s not fog. That’s smoke. Bad day if you need to breathe."
Rick Rockhill at Palm Springs Savant posts "San Diego Fires: My Personal Experience":

"Monday morning I made my usual weekly drive from Palm Springs to San Diego for a few days at the office. I was not fully prepared for what I would encounter. I made my usual journey from I-10, and discovered that route 79 through Banning was closed for some reason, so I took the mountain pass through route 60. There were intense winds blowing sand, making visibility quite difficult. By the time I made it all the way south on the 15, it was nearly 5:00 AM and I-15 was shut down. The wildfire had jumped the freeway, making it impossible to pass. I was diverted along route 78 to the I-5 freeway along the Pacific Ocean coastline. After several hours in the car with Shimi (dog) and Owen (cat), I reached the area where there was evidence of the massive San Diego wildfires that were burning."
Da Goddess lives in Poma and is posting pictures and stories of her evacuation Her updates here:

"It's been heartbreaking to see the devastation. We watched a local newscaster stand before his burning home yesterday. Again, he was one of many. And that's what we all are -- one of many. A week ago, I was worried about what I was going to do when my comp PDA checks stopped in a month. Compared to those who don't have homes anymore, I feel lucky.Go to the San Diego Red Cross website to find out what you can do. Please. There are so many people who need your help."
Grace Davis worries about her friends, offers some fire advice and meditates on the impact of technology at State of Grace, also compiling at Blogher a compilation of resources and others "Blogging the Southern California Wildfires:

"The infernos engulfing thousands of acres in rural and residential Southern California are being amply covered by bloggers in and around the region. Here is a sampling of citizen journalists/live bloggers documenting and photographing the disaster."
Finally, while searching the sphere, I found this item in the category of Truly Unfortunate Headlines - from a promotional puff piece a few months ago:

"Romance is something that needs to be kept alive as often as you have the chance to do. And what better way to do so than by opting for a romantic getaway in a place that has the right atmosphere, great dining, quiet surroundings and the life of a metropolitan city as San Diego. Why Choose a San Diego Romantic Getaway? San Diego, California boasts of the best possible weather you can wish for year round, mild and gentle never too warm nor too cold. This makes Sand Diego a place that many choose for vacations."

On the other hand, for graduates of the Glenn Beck School of Silver Linings, this could be used as tag-line for an advertising campaign to re-invigorate the San Diego tourist trade. As Chandler wrote, when the Santa Ana blows anything can happen.


Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ron Paul kicks RedState butt

A follow-up on the RedState decision to ban the posting of positive comments about Ron Paul while continuing to permit the posting of negative commentary. Andrew Sullivan asked if RedState was "Frightened much?" Justin Gardner at Donklephant also had questions:
"So why did they take such heavy handed measures? Were they simply just annoyed? Scared? A little bit of both?"
Here is the answer...

This really does say it all (click on graph to enlarge):


Live graph here. Hat tip to commenter John Campbell at Donklephant.

The sad answer, is that this is a textbook case of P.E. (Popularity Envy). Ron Paul is simply bigger than RedState, and this is understandably difficult for Erick and company to accept. While Ron Paul's large growing popularity continues to surge and thrust ever upward, RedState's flaccid popularity seems small, shrunken, perhaps even impotent by comparison. When you really look at it, it is kind of pathetic.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.
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FW: You're Invited: RedState Action Emails

An open e-mail reply to an invitation from Erick Erickson, CEO REDSTATE, e-mailed this morning (minor edits from actual e-mail). - mw
========
Erick,

Thanks for the invitation.

Now, I know that this is a mass-mailing, but decided to respond as if you personally sent it and are going to read the reply. You know, just in case you were sincere.

I'd like to participate. I'm in. Sign me up. However, it is a bit problematical, since I was blocked at RedState a year ago. My second blog post at RS was deleted, and my user ID (DWSUWF) was subsequently blocked completely for a truly innocuous fact based comment. Apparently I was perceived as a "threadjacker" despite the fact that I was responding directly and factually to a comment thread initiated by a RedState regular.

Whatever. It's your site, you do what you want with it. If listening to yourselves talk within a narrowly constrained and arbitrary range of acceptable views is what you want to do, hey - knock yourself out. As in - continue to do your best to knock the Republican Party out of any meaningful participation in the federal government in 2009.

But understand that this is what you are flirting with: Democratic President. Democratic majority in the House. Democratic Senate with a 60 vote plurality.

Pretty scary.

That kind of single party Democratic control will certainly be as big and possibly an even bigger disaster than the six years of single party Republican control proved to be.

On the off chance that you chose to unblock me at RedState and restore my deleted blog posts, I will be happy to accept your invitation, participate in the "action e-mails", and will resume cross-posting and commenting on your site. I share your concern about the corrupting influence of earmarks on our federal government and our representatives who continue to abuse the earmark process for personal gain.

FWIW - this is what you can expect from me:

I am committed to voting and supporting the Republican candidate for President in the general election regardless of who is nominated. I will do this for the exact same reason that I supported a straight Democratic ticket in the mid-terms. I was then and am now voting for the objective of limited government, restrained spending growth, greater oversight, greater protection of our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, more careful legislation, and better governance. All of these objectives are an automatic byproduct of divided government and lost when a single party takes control of the federal reins of power.

Now, I know you don't like surprises at RedState, so fyi - these are some examples of what I would x-post at RedState should you restore my posting privileges.


Now I know that these do not conform to the RedState Officially Approved Line of Political Discourse, but it is not exactly DailyKos material either. Since you did initiate this correspondence and invited me into the Action Email network, I thought I would at least provide you the courtesy of a complete reply.

Thanks again for the invitation, and I look forward to your decision.

Regards, MW (aka DWSUWF)

___________________________________________

Mike Wallach I Propagandist

Divided We Stand United We Fall


___________________________________________

PS - I will also be posting this as an open letter on my blog.

PPS - Since I was a member over a year ago, I was wondering if I would qualify for an exception to the RedState ban on newbie Ron Paul supporters? Just curious.


From: RedState.com [mailto:Alerts@RedState.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2007 6:56 AM
To: mw
Subject: You're Invited: RedState Action Emails

RedState.com

Dear RedState Reader,

Did you know that within weeks of top Clinton donor Norman Hsu getting on the board of the New School, Hillary Clinton got a major earmark for the school? Did you know that the FBI is now investigating Mr. Hsu because of his Clinton donations?

What if I told you that Republican Senators willingly voted for the earmark, largely unaware that it was even in what they were voting on.

Now what if I told you that we could really shake things up and stop things like this from happening again? We have thousands of readers across the country and today I'm pleased to tell you that we now have a very cool way to get back in the fight.

Today we're flipping the switch on a RedState Action Email list. As events warrant in Washington or out in the fifty states, we'll send out emails asking you to help out by sending an email, making a phone call, or writing a letter.

Imagine being able to get a short summary of what action needs to be taken, a link to click that will call your phone then connect you to your Congressman, and detailed talking points to share with your member of Congress. An easy, painless process that together, with the thousands of other RedState readers, will have a real, measurable impact.

Because we don't want to spam you, we're going to make this opt-in. This email is just to let you know we're starting Action Emails. If you want to participate, please click here to opt-in.

Click Here to Opt-In to RedState Action Emails

RedState is excited to play a more active role in the political process. Through our new Action Emails, we aim to make it as simple as possible for you to get involved. To get started, simply click here and stand by to help. In the meantime, go to www.redstate.com and participate in the ongoing conversation.

As a bonus to signing up for our Action Emails, we'll help you out a bit. We know you don't have time to keep up with everything going on out there. So we'll send you a simple email once a week detailing the one or two stories that the media isn't reporting. We'll link to other blogs talking about the story, provide solid background, and make sure you stay in the know, even when you can't surf the web.


All the best,


Erick Erickson
Editor, RedState.com

Forward This Email to a Friend


P.S. If you do nothing, you will not get RedState Action Alert emails, but we'll keep you on our email list for

============

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday Miscellany - Wherein we learn that personal computers are not productivity tools.

I returned from my fishing holiday a week ago, but events have conspired to keep me from returning to a regular blogging schedule. This is not to say that I ever was on a regular blogging schedule. I am just less now than I was before.

There is a lot to catch up on - so we'll use this post to clear the decks of a variety of items - some on-topic - some not.

ITEM - If there is political debate during the seventh game of the ALCS Championship, did it actually happen?
Apparently so. Apparently it was a good one. Apparently some bloggers watched it. Apparently some just read the transcript. Apparently the top tier candidates took the gloves off. Apparently Ron Paul is not considered a top tier candidate by the Fox debate moderators or ABC News. I wouldn't know, as I did not watch it. I can report that the Boston Red Sox won the ALCS.
ITEM - Bad Tech 1 - Hacked blogs
I guest blog and cross-post at Justin Gardner's centrist blog Donklephant. The site was hacked and blown away last week, but Justin is working his way back. The blog is back up now with some missing recent content, and some very hard lessons learned. Joe Gandelman noted the attack as well as a much less serious (ok it was actually funny) non-destructive attack on Ann Coulter's site.
ITEM - Bad Tech 2 - ATT "malware" attack
While I was on my fishing holiday, my wife called to report that her laptop would not boot. None of the usual first level fixes worked (restore last good boot, "safe" boot, etc.) and since I couldn't fix it from afar, she used our desktop computer until I got back. I just spent the better part of last week recovering data, reinstalling Windows, finding and restoring backups, reinstalling programs, and reimplementing security on her laptop. I assumed the problem was caused by a virus or other malware slipping through our security software. Bad assumption.

Since we use ATT ( SBC) DSL, and I implement the full suite of security products provided by the service, I was surprised we had a problem. I am quite paranoid and obsessive about computer security, specifically to avoid this kind of a mess. Everything on her computer was set up for automatic updates and I told her to always accept security updates. Bad advice.

I won't go through the whole sordid tale of woe figuring out what happened, but will try to net this out. The ATT security suite crashed her computer. Let me repeat that. The very software that is intended to prevent computer failure and loss from malware, created a problem that had an identical impact on her computer and my life as if we were the victims of a successful catastrophic malware attack. There was no difference in time and data lost. I was effectively attacked by my internet service and security software provider.

This is what happened. While I was away ATT updated their security suite and replaced CA anti-virus with Norton anti-virus. Norton security software is well known as a resource pig. Mrs. DWSUWF's laptop is a older HP model, with 256K of memory running Windows XP (224K of usable memory). Not really enough memory for XP, but it was adequate for her usage, which is limited to browsing and e-mail. After reinstalling Windows and restoring backup data, I tried to reinstall the ATT Security suite that used to run just fine on her laptop. That is when I learned about the "upgrade." The software would no longer install on her machine as the new version required 256K of usable memory. The older version was no longer available. While I was gone Mrs. DWSUWF accepted the upgrade as instructed by me without noticing the small-print warning that it would not run on a 256k machine. Result - catastrophic failure exactly as if we had been attacked. Thanks ATT. After spending a week of my life and $70 for additional memory, things are now back to normal. Well, except for my blood pressure, these veins throbbing out of side of my head, and the lingering traces of smoke emanating from my ears. I'd like to figure out a way to cost ATT as much productivity as they cost me, but a letter to the CEO will probably have to suffice.
ITEM - Divided government is still delivering as advertised.
President Bush found his veto pen, applied it to the SCHIP bill, and among much partisan wrangling his veto was upheld. As a consequence some semblance of fiscal spending restraint continues to be seen under our divided government. This restraint (and the President's veto pen) could not be found not under the last six years of single party Republican control, and likely will be lost again if we get single party Democratic control in 2009.

Congress also is about to trim some of the more egregious Executive power expansion and civil rights violations in the FISA surveillance bill, with the promise of further refinements in the future. Chris Dodd is once again taking a strong leadership role on issues of constitutional rights, reinforcing the DWSUWF selection of Dodd as the preferred Democratic candidate for president.

Pete Abel
at Central Sanity had some thoughtful comments on our Voting by Objective post, which he also cross posted under the title Situational vs. Ideological Voting at the Moderate Voice. I have been remiss in adding my comments to his post, as well as following some other favorite blogs while I have been "distracted." I'll be getting back into the blogging swing of things over the next couple of days.
ITEM - Carnival of Divided Government - Special Halloween Edition
A reminder, that we are less than a week from the next Carnival of Divided Government. Blog articles may be submitted for the next edition of the carnival of divided government (to be posted on or about Halloween) using the carnival submission form. Submitted posts must use include the words and/or concept of "divided government" to be considered. Past posts can be found on the blog carnival index page.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Carnival of Divided Government

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Stack Ranking the Contenders

Updated rankings, informed by Tuesday's Republican debate. This the tenth major update since the very first DWSUWF Presidential Stack Ranking was posted on 06:06:06 AM on 06/06/06, the latest since the ranking of 07:07:07 AM on 07/07/07, and the second stack ranking since DWSUWF embraced Republicanism (sort of) ...

DWSUWF 2008 Presidential Candidate
Stack Ranking v. 2.7

1) Ron Paul (R)
2 ) Chris Dodd (D)
3) Mitt Romney (R)
4) Joe Biden (D)
5) Fred Thompson (R)
6) Hillary Clinton (D)
7) John McCain (R)
8) Barack Obama (D)
9) Chuck Hagel (R) /Mike Bloomberg (I)/ Unity08
10) Al Gore (D)
Changes: The major changes are on the Republican side. With Hagel out, Ron Paul moves to the top of the Republican rankings. I am just not willing to completely let go of Chuck quite yet. I cling to the hope that he is no more sincere about not "intending" to be a candidate than Larry Craig was "intending" to resign from the Senate. I hooked Chuck up with Bloomberg in the number 9 spot on the off chance that Unity08 fills the gap if/when the GOP collapses completely. Ron Paul's fund raising, debate performance and internet savvy campaign continues to impress, although I still do not believe he has a snowball's chance in Hell of winning the nomination.

Iraq remains my primary issue for 2008, which presents a challenge to my Republican ranking with Hagel out. Romney's slick Clintonesque sincere-ish quality, even when explaining 180 degree flip-flops in core convictions serves him well in this regard. It is clear that, like Bill Clinton, he will govern based on the polls and continuous compromise. Not a bad thing, since there will still be a Democratic majority in Congress in 2009 and 70% of America wanting us out of Iraq. As president, Romney will get us out of Iraq quickly, no matter what he says now to get the nomination. He can be trusted to blow with wind. Out of this batch of Republican candidates, it's good enough for me. After Iraq as an issue, respect for the Constitution and individual liberties rises to the fore. I liked Fred Thompson's answer in the debate about securing Congressional approval and American support before any more foreign military adventuring, so he debuts in the ranking as my number three Republican. McCain's views on the war are a problem, but the rest of the Republican field on torture and civil liberties are worse. McCain holds our fourth Republican spot.

On the Democrat side, I can't make excuses for Bill Richardson's gaffe's anymore so have dropped him completely. In any case, he is apparently running for Vice President and Barack Obama has the inside track for that role. Chris Dodd is now giving Biden competition as the most articulate and intelligent of the Dems in the debate, and HRC remains, not surprisingly, the most "Clintonesque" (see Romney description above) of the Democrats. Although I still do not believe that he will run, I have added Al Gore in a special guest appearance in the ranking, as an acknowledgment of his Nobel Peace Prize honor.

As a reminder, the DWSUWF stack ranking is a preference not a prediction. This list represents the top ten candidates DWSUWF would like to see as President, stack ranked in order of preference. Imposed on this list are two constraints: alternating political party affiliation, and a divided government outcome in 2008.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Semi-live blogging the live bloggers - Republican Debate Starring Fred Thompson

UPDATED: October 15, 2007
It has been a while since I last live blogged the live bloggers covering a presidential debate. I have some unique challenges for this one, but since I am in Michigan, and the debate is in Michigan, and this is Fred Thompson's debut, I have to make the effort. I'll introduce this with a question I have asked before:
"There are plenty of bloggers covering the debate live tonight, but is anyone covering the live bloggers? DWSUWF rushes in where other, more sensible bloggers, fear to tread. "
As before, we'll include Daily Kos, Heading Right, Wonkette, for a "left", "right" and "whatever" perspective and will add the Reason Hit and Run Blog for a libertarian point of view. I'll also add a moderate blog if I can find one blogging live.

The challenge is that I am on a fishing holiday in the backwoods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and am "roughing it" with only basic cable from Charter Communications. This means we get 20 or so channels of infomercials, four channels of c-span, the broadcast networks, and that is about it. No CNBC so no live coverage. We do have broadband wireless internet, so should be able to get the live feed from MSNBC.

[TIME PASSES]

OK - after screwing around for 30 minutes trying to get the debate live on the MSNBC website, I remembered what the MS in MSNBC stands for - switched from Firefox to Explorer, and it works now, but I am 30 minutes late. Cracked a beer, and going with it anyway, this is going to be rough and slow - bear with me - I'll fix it as we go.

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Pre-Debate Comments:
Wonkette: "Supposedly this sixth GOP debate is an MSNBC/CNBC co-production starring “Mrs. Money Honey” and “Chris Matthews,” but the respective websites for those teevee channels have no mention of the debate. This is how ashamed they are, about everything. "
Daily Kos: "Republican debate today, 4 p.m. ET on CNBC. Apparently, it needed to be held before Grandpa Fred's bedtime."
Heading Right: "NBC, and even ABC’s The Blotter, is rehashing a ABC News story about Nixon referring to Thompson as “dumb”. The original story was reported by ABC on August 7th, 2007. Interestingly enough ABC quoted from a March 16th, 1973 tape that is believed to have been altered by DR. Stanley Kutler to protect John Dean. So the question is why is NBC and ABC reposting the story on the day of the debate. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm?
Reason - David Weigel: "The Republicans are debating economic policy at 4 p.m. ET on CNBC... and 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC. I don't know why they're filming so early, as my Thompson campaign sources assure me he already took his nap today, but it would be a lie to start "liveblogging" the rerun of this thing. So I'll be covering the first run here."

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Fred's First Question:
Wonkette: "Fred Thompson sees “no reason” why anyone would say we’re headed toward a recession. — Wait, he doesn’t know the word “recession.” He stumbled there and said “economic downturn” instead. Is that the new GOP codeword for “recession”?"
Daily Kos - Commenter Frank: "First question to Thompson. "Are we headed for a crisis?" A: Crisis, what crisis? People who don't have jobs and massive foreclosures are normal!"
Heading Right - Edward: "Fred’s First Answer A softball? Wow! He gets to review the Republican economic record AND trash the free spending ways of the last few years. That was a great way to start. If 2/3rds of the people think we’re in a recession, then they need a better education and a larger set of reading resources."
Reason - David Weigel: "Fred Thompson meets expectations, which, we'll remember, were incredibly low. Thompson makes a blatant grab for Larry Kudlow's approval, quoting his line (which no one else has really picked up) that our economic growth is "the greatest story never told."

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Ron Paul on Economics:
Wonkette: "RON PAUL JUST PWNED EVERYBODY HE IS THE MOTHERF*CKING WINNER. — God he’s whiny. — Yeah! Military Industrial Complex!"
Daily Kos - Commenter Plutonium Page: "Ron Paul RANT!! EXCESSIVE SPENDING BAD! "
Heading Right - RickM: "Military industrial complex? Why doesn’t someone call him out on that tired old canard. Christ! Even the Democrats don’t use that stupid fear mongering consipiracy nonsense anymore."
Reason - David Weigel: "Paul gives one of his best-ever debate answers, which makes sense since he's been training for a prime time (well, prime afternoon TV time) speech on the Fed and monetary policy since roughly 1960. It's... not quite true, but it's well put together and the audience, sort of surprised, applauds it."

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Taxes and Spending:
Wonkette: "Oh good they are having a pissing match over who cut taxes to this percentage or that percentage. Everybody is falling asleep. The Money Honey is trading stocks on her Blackberry. Everybody quit applauding. Ron Paul is counting his gold doubloons."
Daily Kos - MissLaura:" "Ok, recap thus far: The economy's going great! Only thing that would make it go better is to cut taxes! All of them! I'm the guy who'll do that!"
Heading Right - Edward: "The Third Rail - Fred gets an endorsement of sorts from Maria, saying that he’s the only one willing to discuss specifics. He mentions privatization, and indexing benefits to inflation rather than wages. It would be a “major step in the right direction”. No one else got asked this question — why?
Reason - David Weigel: "It's all over, already: Giuliani and Romney are going to win this debate. They're the only wonks on stage and the only guys who know what they want to do, specifically, with the budget. Romney and Rudy scrap over their economic records and I really don't know how Romney expects to win these fights. Rudy cut spending in New York but... he thinks the line item veto is unconstitutional? That's a dealbreaker."

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Iran & War & Nukes & Congress & The Constitution:
Wonkette: "The extra-lame part is how utterly fake Mitt is, even when trying to pretend to be all “I’ll blow up Iran.” Smiling and preening through your “nuke Iran” threats is just fucking pathetic. — Duncan Hunter, on the other hand, is very grim when threatening Iran."
Daily Kos - FeelingBlue: Do you believe Congress has to authorize?
Hunter: Depends on one thing, doesn't think the pres. needs authorization if the enemy is fleeting, but should "if he has time." WTF??
Paul: Absolutely! Bashes the talking to attorneys thing. The thought that Iran could pose an imminent threat is ridiculous! [and there is applause}
whoever is next (a lot of these guys look the same to me!) - pres should do what ever he needs to do. Once again, if you have the time and luxury of going to congress, fine.
McCain - if immediate action, don't bother. IF long series of build up, go to congress/get approval. Depends on scenario. At minimum, would consult with the leaders at congress.
Thompson - John has it right but under war powers act there is always a conflict. Don't dimish the powers of the office, but if a close call, go to congress whether necessary or not (??)

Heading Right - Edward: "Fred Scores On The Congress Question “You need the American people on your side for a protracted conflict,” and therefore a President should consult Congress. Rudy wins again on the imminent circumstances debate by smacking Paul around for saying we’ve never been attacked like that. Rudy mentions 9/11, and Paul says it wasn’t a country, but what about Pearl Harbor?"
Reason - David Weigel: "It's a commercial break and here's the problem: I'm in an office currently being organized for a large event, and I can neither hear nor sit close to the TV. So I'll have to liveblog it from 9:41 on tonight."
DWSUWF - Dave! There are people out here relying on you for content! Ok, fine. One more section then I'm wrapping this for the night.

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Overall Impressions:
Wonkette: "Huckabee is protesting the format of the lightning round instead of answering. Fail... Rudy knows that most of the foreign debt is owed to him, and his law firm. He will sell more of America to the foreigners....Brownback doesn’t have any idea about economics, and doesn’t know Alan Greenspan’s name. FAIL.... McCain is deaf. He can’t answer anything about whether the very dramatic rate cut that totally turned around the entire stock market plunge of the summer was the right cut. He wishes interest rates were “zero.” He doesn’t know the markets have completely recovered from the summer credit-crunch mini-crash, and actually are higher today. He doesn’t follow U.S. economic news? He’s a buffoon... Ron Paul will give gold to the poor! ...Ha ha, Thompson knows the last name of the Canadian prime minister! He is ready for this job!...Mitt’s full of shit but “optimism” does have a huge impact on markets, if not the underlying economy."
Daily Kos - Ellicat, MetalCelt:Greatest long-term threat to the economy?
Romney: sense of optimism. we have to recognize that what we have as Americans is the envy of the world. we need to have leadership that will tell us the truth...and to lead.
Tancredo: the breakdown of the family. the best place is between a mom and a dad. this is a tough issue, but long-term, this is the greatest problem.
Thanks to all who kept this up - I feel unbelievably confident that the Dem will thrash these guys. Even HRC.
Heading Right - RickM: "Interminable…but instructive - Too long. Knock off the losers next time, make it McCain, Rudy, Mitt, and Fred and reduce it to about an hour. I think Rudy actually edged out Fred the last half hour but Thompson finished a close second. Romney third and McCain 4th. Just how it is in the polls…
Reason - David Weigel: - MIA

DWSUWF - Enough for now. I can't work without copying David's content. As is my new tradition, I'll take a day or two to digest, update this post with a summary judgment on the debate, and revise the Stack Ranking (see left sidebar).

UPDATE: October 15, 2007
First, Weigel finished up his live-blog by watching the re-run on MSNBC, and concluded with this: "The debate is over, and the MSNBC pundits are in agreement. Romney blundered by saying he'd "consult lawyers" if he was going to bomb Iran. Not because he wasn't going to ask Congress, but because, as Howard Fineman says, "voters want to hear something from the gut." America's doomed."

That out of the way, I'm back from my Michigan fishing trip, so it is time for a belated wrap up of the Michigan Republican debate:
Ron Paul got the most applause and was the most coherent - so what else is new? Giuliani is still laughing at Paul's replies, to his detriment. Huckabee went after the couch potato vote. Brownback adopted the Biden plan on Iraq, which is positive since he is more likely to be nominated than Biden. Tancredo is still a flake. Duncan Hunter? Was he there? McCain and Romney took off the gloves. On the no-brainer query "should the president consult congress on war" Romney got the answer wrong, while Paul and Thompson got it right. Ultimately, it was Fred's show. Yes, expectations were low, but he delivered some good lines, he didn't hurt himself, and he provided more substantial replies than the Republican Anti-Pauls. Game on.