Thursday, September 30, 2004

Debate Reaction
I decided not to go into specifics, because the swing voter doesn't care about them. My feeling was that Bush was less prepared than Kerry, and seemed quite evasive. On the other hand, if you were one of the ten people in the country who can explain Kerry's Iraq position, you win a cookie. If you believe that position is workable, you lose it.

My prediction is that Bush loses some momentum and Kerry cuts his lead to two or three points.
Blogging a Blogger's Class.
Well, its been awhile, and I have difficulty keep attention otherwise (I have become very adept at answering questions while playing civilization 2 in law school), so I will be blogging Eugene Volokh's free speech class until he tells me to stop, which I don't expect him to do. Besides, this will give me something interesting to blog, which I haven't really had the desire to do as of late. Not sure if I'll start this today. I might wait until next week, as there are a few other "errands" I have to take care of right now.

Check back tonight for blogging on the debates.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Going to Texas
My clerkship search is over and next year I will be working in the Northern District of Texas. After I catch up on some work, I'll hopefully get back to blogging again, but first I have to get a new computer - my old laptop fell five feet while interviewing, smashing the screen (which is why I have been unable to blog). A new one is supposed to arrive today, so hopefully I'll be blogging again soon.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Whose Side is McCain On?
The Nation has some interesting speculation.

Monday, September 20, 2004

I'm in shock. I'm close to tears. Why does this stuff always happen to Cleveland sports teams?

Kellen Winslow Jr.'s hyped rookie year may be over after it barely began — much like a promising season for the Cleveland Browns.
Courtney Brown is done, too. Another serious injury has ended the former No. 1 overall draft pick's 2004 season and perhaps the defensive end's career as well.

Well, at least I'll have my Sundays back this fall. I should probably update my resume too - no longer any need to have watching the Browns as a hobby for this interviewing season.
Is South Carolina Back In Play?
Liberal Blogger Kos thinks so.

Update: My good friend Sean Hayes sends word that New York might be in play as well. Strange. Very Strange.
Condo Troubles
Coming back from Clerkship interviews today, I was given a bit of caution about buying into condos from my cab driver. Turns out that quite a few condos are run like fiefdoms by their board of directors (or the building manager if the board is new). Once in office they can be tough to remove - those who aren't there will often vote to retain an old board, and others can be intimidated to stay in line. More interesting is that it may be common practice when repairs or maintenance comes up that corrupt board members occasionally will inflate the true price and receive a kickback. Seems like a classic agent-principal problem - but I am not sure how widespread this is as my info is only second hand. Anybody have any experience with issues similiar to do this?

Friday, September 17, 2004

Lower the Drinking Age
Finally, some groundswell for this idea. If the concern is that driving drunk raises risks, then why not further raise the DUI punishment? Better yet, why not create a similiar punishment for those who are driving while close to sleeping? Don't those individuals create similiar risks?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

A Good Story
Read here
We are Getting Taxed HOW MUCH?
If you ever were curious about the level of "hidden taxation" take a look at this line regarding how high a national sales tax would need to be -

Economists at the Brookings Institution figured the tax rate would have to be closer to 60 percent over the next 10 years to fully replace all federal tax revenues including the estate tax.

This reminds me of a story - I recently asked some friends from China why they didn't naturalize as U.S. citizens. Their reason for avoiding it wasn't based on national pride - rather they felt taxes were too high to stay here longterm.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Blogging off for Interviews
I will be interviewing for at least the next week, possibly longer. For what? For Clerkships. I'll provide more details later, but basically I will not have time to blog until this ends. Hopefully, that will be by next Friday, but check back randomly in case I have time for a spontaneous update/post.

Monday, September 13, 2004

The Reasons for the AWOL Focus.
At this point, precious weeks have been wasted by the Kerry campaing to regain his lead in an attack that few if any care about and that has weakened key allies of his campaing (Dan Rather). The big question is why? Lorie Byrd at Polipundit has some good analysis, but her basic point is the following:

From all the evidence I am seeing, it looks like Kerry is ready to give up on trying to attract the moderate, swing voters and is trying to fire up his base to make sure they turn out the vote. Giving up on swing voters this early sounds like a crazy thing to even suggest, but continuing to run on this AWOL National Guard stuff is just that -- crazy.

It may not be all that crazy of a strategy. Remember back to July when this was said in the Washington Post?

Some Bush allies say it is more efficient to boost turnout among partisans than to sway the fence-sitters, who the campaign believes may be 10 percent of the electorate or less. "How much time and energy do you give to picking up the 10 percent, who are disengaged from politics, and how do you communicate with them even if you want to?" asked Grover G. Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. "You can go to the 45 percent [who already support Bush] and ask them to bring a brother or a sister or a friend to the polls."

A key difference between the two is Bush's efforts to shore up his base occurred in July. We are now in mid-September. There is very little time left until elections and the swing voters are leaning, but not solid, in Bush's direction. So why is Kerry trying to shore his base up now? One possibility is that it is not solid for him, a possiblity that a quick conversation with any democrat will make one discount. The other possibility is that Kerry is doing this because his advisors will think it will work. I think that this is evidence of them being so far removed from how average people think and so blinded by their hatred of Bush that they are unable to detachedly to do the most important thing - their job.

For as my Grandpa Jerome Fladen liked to say, lose your cool, lose your argument.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Taking the Weekend Off
The news has been boring me as of late, and I don't currently have the desire to write anything. So I'm going to be taking the weekend off (unless a major event occurs), and I'll be back to posting on Monday.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

AWOL and Swift Boats
I don't care about Bush being (allegedly) AWOL from National Guard duty, yet I find the fact that Kerry wasn't (allegedly) in Cambodia and was (allegedly) given medal he didn't earn terribly important. Why? Because it is Kerry who is, and has been for the past 30 years, running on his record as a Vietnam War Hero. Without Vietnam, what exactly does Kerry stand for? Nothing.

Bush on the other hand is running on his foreign policy record. His days in the National Guard, like his days snorting Coke, are irrelevant.

Update: Instapundit has some good links, some of which suggest the memo used to nail Bush was probably a forgery.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Kerry on the Offensive
This was on CNN who linked to an AP article
GREENSBORO, North Carolina (AP) -- Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Tuesday that new predictions of a record federal budget deficit are fresh evidence that President Bush is taking the country in the wrong direction.
Only George W. Bush could celebrate over a record budget deficit of $422 billion, a loss of 1.6 million jobs and Medicare premiums that are up by a record 17 percent," Kerry said. "W stands for wrong -- the wrong direction for America.

Sean Hayes sends this funny take on the Kerry's new attitude, and his "recent" desire to hit Bush back:

[L]et's also remember that this is the man who called reagan's 8 years those of moral darkness and lambasted the deficit at every turn while calling for defense cuts to solve the problem: we know how that turned out.

also, W stands for Wrong is such a crappy, timid catchphrase (have you heard kerry deliver this mantra yet? he sounds like a major tool). Kerry must suck at chess, despite his elitist nature, because he never seems to think more than one move ahead. i.e., why would you dare open this middle initial can of worms when your middle initial is the letter F, and your candidacy has successfully created a new webster definition for what used to only describe "shoes worn on the beach"???

but, for us actual dubya supporters, this is all great. all those times stories about going on the offensive, about how he's a fighter, etc...please, keep smearing Bush. Would anyone actually say the reason kerry is slipping is because he's been too nice to bush? Since about this time last year the dems have done nothing but smear bush (if you think otherwise, then why is a big complaint about kerry his lack of policy specifics?). this stuff isn't working. kerry and co. have accused the president of everything under the sun, and if they just want to keep calling us evil and whatnot, go ahead--but the public clearly ain't buying it.

Tyler Doyle in turn, sends this more serious take on Kerry's new moves:
The nation’s top Democratic strategists get together to try to repair Kerry’s sinking campaign, and the best they can come up with is “W. stands for wrong”?Perhaps these are the same people who figured that photographing the senator while windsurfing in Nantucket (truly the sport—and venue—of the common man: was there no regatta on Martha’s Vineyard that weekend?) would show off his “man of the people” persona. All the tough rhetoric (and even if Kerry’s attacks on Bush are valid, it’s difficult for them to resonate with voters when they’re buried in 45 minute rambling snooze-fests) and catchy slogans in the world still fail to address what Kerry would do if he were president. It’s abundantly clear from the fact that voters prefer Bush on the majority of issues—even issues where Bush has been less than stellar the past three and a half years—that the “President Bush has done poorly on X issue; I would address issue X in a better way (without providing any real specifics)” strategy has not worked. While I am honestly surprised with how well the President is doing at this point, it’s really no mystery, given that the Democrats seem hell-bent on selling the American public a product (Massachusetts liberalism mixed with Bob Shrum’s angry populism) that they haven’t wanted since 1964. Maybe the influx of Clinton staffers will change things, but Kerry has lost a lot of momentum at this point, and “W stands for wrong” (like “reporting for duty” and “help is on the way” before it) is not going to take him to the White House.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Blogging off for the working day
New job today. I'll post later.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Kerry - a 4th Quarter-Come-From-Behind-Quarterback?
That's what the NY Times has Howard Dean and Bill Weld suggesting.
Mr. Rendell said the mood of Democrats had swung sharply since Mr. Kerry's nominating convention.
"I think there is real concern," he said. But he added, "Everybody has a level of optimism that it can turn around and will turn around."
Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont who lost the Democratic nomination to Mr. Kerry, said Democrats were overreacting, noting Mr. Kerry's come-from-behind victories against William Weld in the 1996 race for Senate in Massachusetts and Mr. Kerry's decisive defeat of Dr. Dean in Iowa.
"They've been very aggressive and they've really turned withering fire on John Kerry and clearly we have to respond to that," Dr. Dean said. "I tell you, I'm the one person in America other than Bill Weld that knows John Kerry can respond."
Remember, Dean lost to Kerry after behind ahead in the polls in Iowa (his scream that signalled his implosion came after learning he finished in third). Bill Weld lost Kerry for Kerry's Senate seat after being ahead in a race.

Here is my question - I don't know much about why Dean's lead disappeared in Iowa. And I don't know anything about the Weld-Kerry race. What happened, and how did Kerry take advantage of it? Does anybody know?
Ellis Oster sends this email reconcilling yesterday's conundrum:

Hey Elliot,
Here's an article about a Frank Luntz focus group in OH that liked Bush's speech. Also, Washington Post's focus group contained people from NM, NH, and MO, all swing states, but as you know, each not of the same category as a OH. NM went to Gore and will most likely go to Kerry this year (plus, did you notice that one of the NM "swing voters" already decided he's not voting for Bush, and is choosing between Kerry or Nader, so of course Bush's speech ain't gonna make him vote for Dubya). NH went to Bush but
most polls show that it will go to Kerry this time (it's the New England thang), which doesn't matter at all so long as Bush wins every other state he won in 2000 plus recent polls show him ahead in WI and PA, wish the Post had some swing voters from these states). As for MO, probably the most influential of the states in this focus group (Bush is leading in MO and will most likely win it), the Post doesn't go much into what these swing voters said about Bush's speech, other than they gave him high marks for his personal appeal.

Anyway, to reconcile the Post focus group and the latest Time and Newsweek polls, just remember: focus groups mean squat and are not as accurate as polls (actually, read that to be not accurate at all, let alone compared to polls, because the news organization can pick and choose who it wants for the group, no random selecting). Wait for more polls with a Bush bounce to be released on Monday. If they are weekend polls, add a point or two Bush's way since weekend polls tend to disfavor Republicans. Not saying that Bush nailed this election yet, but certainly changed the pace right when he needed to: the Labor Day mark.

Take care, Ellis

P.S. Concerning Bush's speech, I definitely agree with you about his big government proposals (read Bob Novak's Friday column about this, it's a great piece). That being said, he hit a home run. He did what every single commentator thought he should do. He laid out his domestic agenda for the next four years (granted, ain't a fan of all the spending proposals, hope he's lying about 'em, but at least he set out an agenda with specifics, which he had not previously done). He turned the election around from the economy (where Kerry slightly edges Bush, except on taxes)to the war on terror (where Bush kills Kerry, except on Iraq). And he had great personal appeal. Right after Bush's speech, Bill Kristol correctly pointed out that while Kerry's speech was hailed by all the pundits, it did not resonate with the voters since he seemed so artificial. Bush was definitely not artificial at all.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Report from The Protests
One of my leftist contacts sent had this email sent to him. He then sent it to me, and I am posting it here because it offers an interesting view from a different perspective then I usually publish.

On the evening of my arrest, I was standing on East 16th Street during a spontaneous protest. There were several hundred people protesting and several hundred observing--many people on the street were innocent bystanders simply walking through the street on their way home. The police moved onto the sidewalk at both the east and west ends of the street using wire netting to hem the crowd in at one end and a troop of police, many in riot gear at the other. Police directed the crowd to keep moving in one direction while assuring us (on the sidewalk at least) that we would be permitted to pass. When the crowd was completely hemmed in, we were told to sit down and again assured we would be 'released' after the police gained control.

Several protesters were picked out of the crowd and handcuffed, a few suffered police brutality; musical instruments were smashed by angry police. After this show of force, boxes of plastic handcuffs were opened and police proceeded to handcuff ALL the people on the block. After about 3 hours, we were shuffled onto city busses and taken to a make-shift internment camp at Pier 57, known as Guantanamo on the Hudson. I asked one officer why he was not out fighting terrorism, he replied, "you ARE the terrorists".

We were held in busses during the unloading process, which took over an hour. Inside 'Guantanamo' we were directed into a large wire cage with razor-wire, until we were assigned sex-specific individual cages (also headed with razor-wire). Each cage contained a few metal benches and two portable toilets, each was extremely overcrowded so most people, tired and exhausted were forced to sit and sleep on filthy floors. This former bus repair depot was still drenched in diesel-oil, the stench of strong chemicals burned our eyes and what looked like open asbestos stanchions could be seen. After 15 hours, all people were coated with black soot, complained of eye and sinus irritations as well as skin rashes and some open sores began appearing. The police ignored constant requests for medical attention despite loud chanting, cage rattling and other jail solidarity tactics. Medical assistance was offered hours later.

We were then handcuffed again and taken via a corrections vehicle to our new destination--the corrections facility at 100 Center Street. After passing through metal detectors and patted down by officers, we were lead to group cells where we were fed (a slice of cheese on white bread)and settled down on tiled floors and metal benches. For the next 27 hours we were shuffled from one cell to another, fingerprinted, photographed and consistently promised imminent release. In all fairness, two of the 13 cells I 'visited' had thin plastic mats that could hold 8 tightly positioned sleeping bodies-- most people slept on the floor or benches. All the cells were cold with loud, large fans adding to our discomfort--blankets were
delivered on Thursday morning at 6am.

Although there was a significant presence of thug-like police inside the facility, many officers were openly sympathetic. Many thanked us, some applauded as we were paraded single-file out of the internment camp and some voiced their outrage; one police officer told us to settle down for a few days because it was the intention of our city government to keep us off the streets throughout the RNC. One police officer described the usual treatment of prisoners, comparing that to our "humane" treatment--we were the lucky ones. All the sympathizers I questioned said they were just following orders! Although I am very grateful to these officers for their kindness and open support, I question at what point will they stop just following orders?

On the 42nd hour, I spoke with a court-appointed lawyer who told me the courts were deliberately slowing the process of our release. Finally, I entered my 'not guilty' plea in front of the judge. I ama 55 year old mother with two grown daughters, have lived in the same apartment for 23 years, have a master's degree in education, currently sell real estate in the city and have no prior arrest record so I was not deemed a flight risk and released on my own recognizance.
Here is a Washington Post piece claiming that Bush's speech failed to sway undecides that they followed. And here is a new Time Poll with Bush having a double digit lead, up significantly from the start of the convention. Anybody want to take a stab at reconciling those two?

Friday, September 03, 2004

Slate on Zell Miller's Bending of the Truth
Good stuff here.
This Ohio Voter Is Edging Closer to Voting Third Party
I saw last night's speech. Maybe it will win Bush votes - but it likely cost him mine. I will not vote for a liberal hawk claiming to be a republican whose spending policies will result in higher taxes, and as I have written previously such a vote is not throwing your vote away. Here are Andrew Sullivan's thoughts in a post which largely echo my own feelings:

People like me who became conservatives because of the appeal of smaller government and more domestic freedom are now marginalized in a big-government party, bent on using the power of the state to direct people's lives, give them meaning and protect them from all dangers. Just remember all that Bush promised last night: an astonishingly expensive bid to spend much more money to help people in ways that conservatives once abjured. He pledged to provide record levels of education funding, colleges and healthcare centers in poor towns, more Pell grants, seven million more affordable homes, expensive new HSAs, and a phenomenally expensive bid to reform the social security system. I look forward to someone adding it all up, but it's easily in the trillions. And Bush's astonishing achievement is to make the case for all this new spending, at a time of chronic debt (created in large part by his profligate party), while pegging his opponent as the "tax-and-spend" candidate. The chutzpah is amazing. At this point, however, it isn't just chutzpah. It's deception . . . the only difference between Republicans and Democrats now is that the Bush Republicans believe in Big Insolvent Government and the Kerry Democrats believe in Big Solvent Government.

Well there is another difference - I believe Bush's foreign policy is enough to make rooting for him to win from my current standpoint. And as such I'll help campaign for him by holding signs etc., as I still prefer Bush over Kerry. But there is a difference between rooting for a president and voting for one, and when it comes to how I identify myself, I will not self identify with a party that is demagoguing gay marriage, restrictive on abortion, ossified on the war on drugs, and worse of all, bent on spending money like the social democrats of Europe. And that the crowd cheered almost all of these things last night, only makes my decision more firm.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Zell Miller
Jesse Taylor is furious after seeing the speeches:
I honestly think this is going to help Republicans lose the election. This isn't just negative - this is ass-out mean in a way that a serious political party really can't and shouldn't embrace. It's hard to watch, and I'm jaded past the point of comprehension to Republican nastiness. This is not the way a party appeals to the center - the strategy seems to be little more than getting the base so angry that undecided voters and centrists rush into the party in order to escape the wrath of the rageaholics in Madison Square Garden.

Jesse Taylor is making the mistake of the closed minded - believing in essence that because he stronlgy disagrees with the speech and the passion of the speaker that the speech is negative. Zell Miller may have been slightly cliched, but negative he was not. Zell had a legitimate concern - whether John Kerry is as fit for handling national security. If Zell had answered that concern by questioning John Kerry's intelligence, that would have been negative. If Zell had answered that concern by calling John Kerry a Fascist or a Communist, that would have been negative. If Zell had answered that concern by attacking Kerry's personal life, that would have been negative. Zell did none of those things.

This is not to say that I enjoyed Zel's speech. I found it a bit too cliched, seeking sound bites for commercials as opposed to being enjoyable in a coherent sort of way (I am listening to Cheney's speech as I write this).

Anyway, out of this conglomeration of sound bites several caught my eye. The best line was clearly the - "U.S. forces armed with what, spitballs?" line that was said in reference to Kerry's habit of voting against advanced weapons systems.

This was good as well.
They don't believe there is any real danger in the world except that which America brings upon itself through our clumsy and misguided foreign policy.
It is not their patriotism — it is their judgment that has been so sorely lacking. They claimed Carter's pacifism would lead to peace.
They were wrong.
They claimed Reagan's defense buildup would lead to war.
They were wrong.
And, no pair has been more wrong, more loudly, more often than the two Senators from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry

This one as well was good
Kerry would let Paris decide when America needs defending.
I want Bush to decide.
John Kerry, who says he doesn't like outsourcing, wants to outsource our national security.

Read the speech yourself. You'll find a passioned speech. You'll find firm views. You'll find somebody who may have been a little boring although who he spiced his cliches with interesting lines. You'll find a politician who questioned Kerry's judgment, not his personal life. The judgement of a politician is the chief issue in politics. If debating the judgment of our politicians in matters of public policy is negativity, then politics truly has become solely the art of the photo op. I don't believe that it has, and deep down, I don't think Jesse does either.