Friday, August 31, 2007

Expert Advice on New Media

On socnets, from David All,

On e-mail lists, from Patrick Ruffini:

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Even Bloggers Take Vacations

Sorry for the light posting recently, but I've been very busy this week, and probably won't be blogging until after the holiday.

In the meantime, check out Bluey's write-up of yesterday's new-media seminar at Heritage, which was as insightful as it was inspiring.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Your Dream Jobs

1. Press Intern for Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN). Assist with duties in a busy press office. Applicants need to be a junior or senior in college with a journalism or related major and/or background. Strong organizational skills required. Send resume, cover letter and writing samples to Unpaid.

2. Production Director at Dana Press. The Washington, DC, publishing division of an international foundation with principal interests in health and education, seeks a substantive, capable, and creative manager to take charge of the production function.

3. Associate Producer at Weekend Live (Fox News Channel). The position includes working with producers and anchors writing scripts for air, pitching story ideas, developing segments, and booking guests for a weekend show based in the Washington, DC, bureau. In addition, the position is responsible for coordinating graphics requests, managing remote studio requests, booking ground travel for guests and assisting the playback operator with tape organization during the live show. Candidate should be a well-organized, strong writer who is used to working with a team. Candidate should also be willing to travel.

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Fred Thompson Update

It's that time again.

1. Bob Novak reports that "Thompson's decision to announce his presidential candidacy with a video was suggested by Newt Gingrich."

2. Why did Thompson, who in the winter of 1997 was considering quitting the Senate, agree instead to chair the committee investigating Clinton fund-raising scandals? Because he hoped the investigation would "galvanize support" for his then-hobbyhorse, now-bugbear, campaign finance reform, which was then stalled in Congress.

3. Jonathan Martin reports on the state of the campaign:

A Thompson source, requesting anonymity to speak candidly, voiced concern that Team Fred is still not ready for a the pressure cooker of a presidential campaign.

"There is no question that from a political standpoint, the testing-the-waters committee is right where it needs to be,” this person said, “but from a personnel standpoint, it's a completely different story."

"You have some gaping holes in the communications shop and in the overall management at the committee.”

Thompson fired his communications director Linda Rozett, a former chamber of commerce official, last week, displeased by her lack of campaign experience. Thompson’s spokeswoman, Burson Snyder, resigned two weeks ago, unhappy with a diminished role and uneasy about the disorder in the campaign structure. And Thompson's first campaign manager, Tom Collamore, was viewed as lacking the necessary political chops for a White House run and forced out.

Asked if the installation of Bill Lacy, Thompson’s close friend and the strategist from his first Senate race, had brought order to the operation, the Thompson source said, “It hasn’t yet.”

One person familiar with the day-to-day operation indicated that there could be belt-tightening measures taken to curb the outbound flow of cash from Thompson’s testing-the-waters committee.

After raising just under $3.5 million in June—about a million-and-a-half less than his advisers initially predicted they’d haul in—Thompson indicated that the financial report he’ll file along with the other presidential hopefuls at the end of third quarter in September may not dazzle the doubters.

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BREAKING: Alberto Gonzales Resigns

As heard 10 minutes ago on CNN.

Update: Of the three news alerts I receive, the Times was first, having sent its e-mail at 8:07 am. The Politico was second, at 8:47, and the Post was third, at 9:03.

Update (8/29/07): Looks like U.S. News was actually the first to break the story—last week. As its Washington Whispers blog reported last Friday night,

The buzz among top Bushies is that beleaguered Attorney General Alberto Gonzales finally plans to depart and will be replaced by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Quote of the Day

“Mrs. Edwards wishes husband John was a black woman.”

A blogger, whose name or post I cannot find, but who is quoted in today's NYT, in response to Elizabeth Edwards's comment, “We can’t make John black. We can’t make him a woman. Those things get you a lot of press, worth a certain amount of fundraising dollars.”

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On the Internet, Nobody Knows You're Naked. Or Do They?

Word to the Wikipedians: nothing you do on the Internet is really anonymous. Once you're online, you're assigned an IP address, which leaves a digital trail of your tracks.

The address can change each time you connect, but since organizations typically have a defined range, a young hacker named Virgil Griffith was able to ascertain which edits belong to whom.

Related: After what he estimates at 500 hours, another young tech whiz cracked the code restricting the iPhone to AT&T's network.

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Questions for the Candidates

Updated on 8/27/07

Here are some questions I'd like answered. As Dave Weigel observed of his queries, "It's just a list of nags that the candidates might not have talking points for. And those are the sorts of queries they should be getting every day."

For the Full Field
1. Do you believe that only [Mormons, Baptists, Catholics, born-again Christians, etc] go to heaven? Do you believe that only [Mormons, Baptists, Catholics, born-again Christians, etc] should go to heaven?

2. (A) Where do you get your news? (B) Do you read a newspaper on a daily basis? If so, which one or ones? (C) Do you read blogs? (D) If so, which ones?

3. Should using marijuana for medical reasons, as prescribed by a doctor, be illegal?

4. Everyone agrees that the tax code is too complex. How would you simplify it? Note: the question concerns tax reform, not tax cuts.

5. Running for president, especially in the age of YouTube, invites a massive amount of scrutiny. What aspects of a candidate's life, if any, should be private? For instance, is it appropriate to report that a candidate's children are not campaigning for him?

6. Name three things you did in your administration to increase transparency.

7. Why do you want to be president?

For the Democrats
1. What role, if any, would you task Bill Clinton with in your administration?

2. Do you send your children to private school? If so, why do you oppose giving vouchers to parents who are too poor to do the same?

3. What is the purpose of government?

4. Why or why not is the death tax good?

5. Should late-term abortion be legal?

6. You believe that abortion should be legislated at the federal level, via Roe v. Wade, but that marriage should be a state issue. Isn't this a contradiction?

7. Did U.S. foreign policy contribute to the reasons for the attacks of September 11, 2001?

For the Republicans
1. Is it wrong for the GOP to nominate for president someone who is pro-choice?

2. Would you allow an abortion in the case of rape or incest, or for the health of the mother?

3. Why does defining marriage as between a man and a woman necessitate the denial of more than 1,000 rights to gay couples that the federal government grants to straight couples?

4. In arguing against the "don't ask, don't tell" policy barring gays from military service, Barry Goldwater said that you don't have to be straight to shoot straight. Do you agree?

5. Is homosexuality a choice, or is it biological?

6. Of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Jerry Fallwell said, "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America—I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'" How did those "who have tried to secularize America" help 9/11 to happen?

7. Is global warming a naturally occurring or man-made phenomenon?

8. What is your exit strategy for Iraq? At what point do the costs outweigh the benefits?

9. What one cabinet position would you abolish, if any?

10. What role, if any, did Iraq play in the attacks of September 11, 2001?

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Friday, August 24, 2007

You Can Take the Man Out of New York...

From the NYT:

Jill Martin, a teacher from Le Mars, Iowa, her child in her arms, was becoming emotional as she told the candidate how she could not afford the rate increases on her health insurance.

“What are you going to do to make health care possible for people like me and my children?” Ms. Martin asked, her voice cracking.

Mr. Giuliani extended one arm in her direction, not to offer support but to beckon her to be seated. . . .

“I don’t know,” Mr. Giuliani said brusquely. “I don’t know the answer in your particular circumstance how you are going to afford it.”

He can also react harshly when interacting with voters he thinks are not asking smart questions.

In Laconia, N.H., when a young man asked him if he thought that terrorism sprang from some sense of “desperation” among Muslims around the world, Mr. Giuliani snapped that such wrong thinking was probably the result of a “liberal education.” He softened his response a bit as he held forth on the subject, but his gut reaction was so cutting that the crowd let out a collective nervous laugh.

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Rove on Bush via Gerson

Michael Gerson interviews Karl Rove about "Bushism," of which Rove, like Gerson himself, is "the most serious, tireless advocate":

Rove argues that Republicans win as activist reformers, in the tradition of Lincoln, McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. "We were founded as a reformist party," he said in our conversation this week, "not to be against something, but to help the little guy get ahead." The models he cites are 401(k)s and the mortgage interest deduction—government policies that encouraged individual wealth and ownership. Then Rove spent several minutes describing, with wonkish delight, the momentum and virtues of health savings accounts, a Bush-era innovation allowing individuals to save tax-free for routine medical expenses.

The activist use of government to help individuals get ahead may not sound controversial. Among Republicans, it is. In the 1996 presidential election, Dole's domestic message focused on the limits and flaws of the federal government—he talked endlessly of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which constrains federal power in favor of the states. In 2000, Bush's main domestic proposal concerned the use of federal power to catalyze state education reform—a head-snapping contrast.

Related: "The Compassionate Conservatism of George W. Bush."

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The Daily Digest

Senator Tom "Coburn feels about pork spending the way liberal environmentalists do about greenhouse gases," writes Stephen Moore: they're both a gateway drug, to deficits and global warming, respectively.

Front-runners are cautious, which is probably why Rudy has yet to setup a blog. Yet for whatever criticism his reluctance generates, the fact remains, He's winning. On the other hand, his continued frankness on the war is beginning to alienate his supporters.

Howard Kurtz names an unpleasant truth: "Everyone who is defaulting on a home mortgage is not necessarily a victim. I feel sorry for anyone in that situation. Losing a home is an awful thing. Some were undoubtedly pressured into buying by unscrupulous lenders. Too many greedy players on Wall Street got away with making shaky loans for too long. They sliced and diced mortgage debt into increasingly exotic paper and lost sight of the risks involved, figuring the Fed would bail them out if things got out of hand. But let's face it: Most of the people who took out home mortgages for no money down knew that this was a roll of the dice. Who gets to buy a house without a down payment? And most of those who took out adjustable-rate mortgages knew that their rate would balloon in a couple of years, and could do so at a level that would be hard to afford. They took the risk anyway. No one forced these folks to take on big mortgages they could barely handle."

Why do we call those who write about the media and movies "critics" instead of something more neutral-sounding, like "observer," "analyst" or "reviewer"?

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How to Read a Beltway Book

With an eye toward who looks good and who's absent without leave.

Mike Lux, of Open Left, explains (in a review of Matt Bai's Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics):

A love for his best sources. One of the most disturbing things that strikes me when reading books by big media journalists about the inner workings of the Clinton White House is how different some of the meetings were in the book to the meetings that I was actually in on. Certain people described in those meetings seemed so much more clever, more insightful, braver, funnier, etc. than I remembered. And others' roles, usually the ones arguing the opposite of the clever-sounding staffers, were downplayed or even distorted. . . .

It's all about the stars. I know we're in a winner-take-all culture, and maybe to sell books in general you have to focus on the best-known personalities. But again . . . a longstanding problem I have with a lot of traditional journalists [is] . . . their focus . . . almost entirely on the biggest names. This again felt like the case here. In the Democracy Alliance, there was a ton of information about founder Rob Stein, deservedly so. But Kelly Craighead (to take just one example), the calm, steady presence who helped hold the entire organization together at times when it was on the verge of completely melting down, got one throw-away line at the end of the book. In terms of bloggers, Bai spend a lot of time profiling Jerome and Markos, again deservedly so. But the brilliant Digby didn't get a mention, nor did John Amato and Crooks and Liars. Atrios got one, I think. Jane Hamsher and Firedoglake got a couple of quick mentions, both of them negative. Stoller and Bowers, who in my own obviously biased opinion, have done so much to organize the blogosphere, a couple quick mentions, one a very cynical one about Matt. Very few other bloggers, even some of the most influential, got even a mention.

Update (10/15/07): Reviewing Jeffrey Toobin's new book about the Supremes, David Margolick comes away with the same conclusion:

[T]o anyone who watches the court, or watches those who watch it, Toobin’s descriptions afford . . . the chance to ponder which of those justices talked to him for this book, and which did not. And talk to him some of them clearly did. Without their off-the-record whispers, there would be no “inside” story of any “secret” world to tell in The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court. . . .

First there’s Stephen Breyer, wtih what Toobin calls his “gregarious good nature.” Odds are he spoke, a fair amount. Then Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “frail” and “shy” and, Toobin says, with only marginal influence on her colleagues. Maybe, but she’d have said precious little. Clarence Thomas, we learn, had gotten old and fat since his famously bloody confirmation battle. No way. David Souter “detested Washington” and “cared little what others thought of him.” Probably not, but he’s quirky enough to have tossed off a tidbit or two. Then Anthony Kennedy, far more worldly and influential than the “conventional, even boring” burgher he first appeared to be. Almost certainly yes.

Antonin Scalia looked “lost and lonely” that day: absolutely not. Then Sandra Day O’Connor, about to entrust her seat to President George W. Bush, whom she considered “arrogant, lawless, incompetent and extreme.” Her fingerprints—or voice prints—practically leap off the page: how else could Toobin write something so incendiary so confidently? And finally there’s John Paul Stevens, “respected by his colleagues, if not really known to them.” Highly unlikely.

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Matthew Scully Joins Team Thompson

Michael Shear has the scoop:

Thompson spokeswoman Linda Rozett confirmed Thursday that Scully has joined Team Thompson, but wouldn't say what, specifically, he is doing for the non-campaign. . . .

Word on the street is that Scully is busy writing Thompson's announcement speech.

Related: "Scully, Gerson and McConnell."

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Dick Cheney You Don't Know

Howard Mortman reprints Kenneth Tomlinson's review of Stephen Hayes’s new book, Cheney: The Untold Story of America’s Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President:

[W]henever I think about the most powerful material in the book, I come back to Cheney’s early life. Like the time Cheney was twice nailed for drunk driving while working in transmission line construction in the mountains of Wyoming. Hayes writes:

The same month that he was arrested for a second time, Cheney’s friends and former classmates received their diplomas from Yale. As he sat in the jail cell in Rock Springs, the contrast struck him hard. For 18 years, Cheney had a carefree life marked by a series of seemingly effortless accomplishments. His admission to Yale, on a full scholarship, appeared to continue this promising trajectory.

Now almost four years after the excitement and anticipation of that first cross-country train trip to New Haven, Cheney found himself alone in jail, left to contemplate everything that had gone wrong. Even for someone who had been—and would be—known for his equanimity, it was another disturbing new low.

So how did Cheney emerge from these depths?

He experienced no rehab or AA. Fact is, he didn’t even stop drinking.

Seems his girlfriend who had just graduated early from the University of Colorado let him know she had no intension of spending her life with an electrical worker who was in trouble with the law. He knew Lynne Vincent was a woman of her word. So he simply straightened up and went to the University of Colorado let him know she had no intension of spending her life with an electrical worker who was in trouble with the law. He knew Lynne Vincent was a woman of her word. So he simply straightened up and went to the University of Wyoming (where he lived on tomato soup and rice) and got interested in political science.

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The War on Terror Is Not the Cold War

“Jihadism is a mosquito bite compared to communism.” So says Lieutenant General William Odom, the director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan from 1985 to 1988, in next week's issue of Time.

It’s a provocative assertion, and Odom, who now works at the neoconservative Hudson Institute, is no dove. But is he right?

On one hand, whereas we could contain Stalin through the policy of mutually assured destruction, suicide bombers are, by definition, undeterrable. Indeed, despite a massive nuclear arsenal, the Soviets never once attacked the United States, whereas al Qaeda succeeded in inflicting the worst assault on American soil ever.

On the other hand, the Soviets were better armed, wealthier and more numerous than al Qaeda. As the New Republic's Peter Beinhart has put it, “The U.S.S.R. was a totalitarian superpower; al Qaeda merely espouses a totalitarian ideology, which has had mercifully little access to the instruments of state power.” Does anyone doubt that if Osama bin Laden ever acquires a nuke, he would not use it?

Furthermore, the Soviets funded and armed the Koreans and Vietnamese, among other insurgencies. And if you want to compare Communism to al Qaeda-ism, it’s not even close: Communism oppressed billions—virtually all Asia, Latin America, parts of Africa and South America—whereas jihadism has under its boot, at most, tens of thousands.

So is Odom right? The short answer is yes: nuclear weapons, in the hands of a global empire, trump jumbo jets in the hands of 19 men. The long answer, to paraphrase historian Richard Pipes, is that the threat of jihadism is both less menacing than communism, in that jihadis are militarily weaker, and more dangerous, in that they are fanatics who are impervious to negotiation.

* Thanks to Chris Matthew Sciabarra, who helped me answer this very question in college.

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Rudy's Rhetoric


"When people overdo it about terrorism, terrorists actually win. You're sort of like becoming agents and instruments of the terrorists."


"They hate you!" says Rudy Giuliani in his new role as fearmonger in chief, relentlessly reminding audiences of all the nasty people out there. "They don't want you to be in this college!" he recently warned an audience at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. "Or you, or you, or you," he said, reportedly jabbing his finger at students. In the first Republican debate he warned, "We are facing an enemy that is planning all over this world, and it turns out planning inside our country, to come here and kill us." On the campaign trail, Giuliani plays a man exasperated by the inability of Americans to see the danger staring them in the face. "This is reality, ma'am," he told a startled woman at Oglethorpe. "You've got to clear your head."

Concludes former FBI director Louis Freeh,

If you compare [Rudy's] remarks to what every politician and most of our citizens were saying on September 12, 2001, you would not find it noteworthy or unusual.


  • In one 15-minute phone interview in August, Giuliani compared the terrorism threat with Nazism or communism six times (Time).
  • "If one of them gets elected, it sounds to me like we're going on the defense," he said. "We've got a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. We're going to wave the white flag there. We're going to try to cut back on the Patriot Act. We're going to cut back on electronic surveillance. We're going to cut back on interrogation. We're going to cut back, cut back, cut back, and we'll be back in our pre-September 11 mentality of being on defense" (Washington Post).

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Where Regimes Like Us, the People Dislike Us

The NYT notes the "paradox of American policy in the Middle East": In

promoting democracy on the assumption it will bring countries closer to the West . . . almost everywhere there are free elections, the American-backed side tends to lose.


  • The Palestinians elected Hamas over the Bush-backed Palestinian Authority.
  • The Iraqis voted for a government sympathetic to Iran.
  • The Lebanese elected an opposition candidate over a former president supported by the Bush administration.
  • The Egyptians have voted in growing numbers for the Muslim Brotherhood.

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Obama Isn't Wrong

Obama advisor Samantha Power explains:

For years, conventional wisdom in Washington has said that the United States cannot talk to its adversaries because it would reward them. Here is the result:

  • The United States has not talked directly to Iran at a high level, and they have continued to build their nuclear weapons program, wreak havoc in Iraq, and support terror.
  • The United States has not talked directly to Syria at a high level, and they have continued to meddle in Lebanon and support terror.
  • The United States did not talk to North Korea for years, and they were able to produce enough material for six to eight more nuclear bombs.

That said, Obama isn't necessarily right, either. The real debate, as opposed to the one playing on TV, about meeting with our enemies concerns two things: (1) Whether a presidential candidate should meet with our enemies himself or send an envoy, and (2) Whether he should set preconditions for the meeting.

What do you think?

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Good Questions. Good Answers

From the Economist:

A Democracy Corps poll found that Americans believe by a majority of 57% to 29% that government makes it harder for people to get ahead in life. The same poll found that 83% of people believe that, if the government had more money, it would probably waste it.

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The Daily Digest

The long-awaited successor to ABC PAC has arrived: Rightroots. Congratulations to Patrick Ruffini, who designed the site, and to the blog advisory board: N.Z. Bear, Lorie Byrd, Soren Dayton, Mary Katharine Ham, Patrick Hynes, Matt Lewis, Liz Mair, Ed Morrissey and Kavon Nikrad.

Meet Megan McArdle, aka Jane Galt, of the Asymmetrical Information blog, courtesy of Cheryl Miller, the new editor of Brainwash.

Meet Matt Drudge, courtesy of the LA Times.

Another gaping loophole in congressional ethics reform: executive branch officials can still, and routinely do, accept trips from companies and trade associations with a stake in their agencies' decisions.

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Your Dream Jobs

1. Associate Producer at NPR Digital: Arts and Features. The Arts and Features group focuses on arts news as well as social-media and rich-media content. We're looking for a creative writer, editor and multimedia producer with daily news experience to help us take NPR's arts and features sections, including Books and Movies, to the next level. This is a full-time union position in Washington, DC. Salary and benefits are top-notch.

2. Editorial Intern at the American Spectator. Flexible hours are offered for class schedules as needed. Duties will include proofreading, data entry, Web site maintenance, administrative work and assisting editors with research and anything else that arises. Internship is ongoing, so submit your resume and cover letter at any time to; type "Spectator Internship" in the subject line. One to two writing samples are preferred. College credit can be made available. A small transportation stipend for full-time interns may be arranged. Time requirement: 15-30 hours per week.

3. Production Internship, via the Institute for Humane Studies. Spring placements are available in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and other major media centers across the country. Past placements include Warner Brothers, Focus Features and Big Mouth Productions. We consider applicants at all levels of experience—from extensive camera work and training in Final Cut Pro to simply a general interest and desire to work in the film and media industry.

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What rights should straight people have that gay people shouldn't?

Rudy Giuliani opposes gay marriage because he "believes marriage is between a man and a woman," as his campaign Web site states. But he supports domestic partnerships, which he believes recognize "equal rights under law for all Americans."

What's the difference between "marriage" and "partnership"? 1,100 federal rights and responsibilities, according to the Washington Post.

The question then arises, as Marc Ambinder has put it, "[W]hat rights should straight people have that gay people shouldn't?"

This is political dynamite, and even as Rudy declines to specify, the way he has framed the distinction implies an answer. If, as he says, he supports "equal rights," then the only difference between "marriage" and "partnership" is semantic—a kind of "separate but equal" doctrine. Anything beyond semantics, however, logically necessitates unequal rights.

In other words, either you support equality or you support discrimination.

Rudy seems to recognize this dilemma; as a campaign spokeswoman told the Boston Globe, "It's about rights and benefits more than the title." Indeed, this was a point Rudy made in 2004 on the O'Reilly Factor: "So now you have a civil partnership, domestic partnership, civil union—whatever you want to call it—and that takes care of the imbalance, the discrimination, which we shouldn't have."

To be sure, people can reasonably disagree as to whether such sweeping change should arise democratically or juridically. But procedural issues aside, if the difference between "gay marriage" and "domestic partnership" is just words, then what's the big deal anyway?

Update: Even Charles Krauthammer, who is rarely at a loss for perspicuity, can barely muster up an argument. “I think it is a mistake for society to make this ultimate declaration of indifference between gay and straight life, if only for reasons of pedagogy,” he writes.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Daily Digest

Attention Becki Donatelli and David All: "Which political action committee gave the most money to congressional campaigns in 2006? EMILY's List? The National Rifle Association? Nope, nope and nope." ActBlue—the Web-based bundler—was the single biggest PAC contributor in the last cycle," according to the Democratic Strategist.

Soren has christened him Governor Reverend Huckabee. Matt Lewis prefers William Jennings Huckabee (though Reason's Jesse Walker reminds us that real populism is much more than a "vague willingness to align yourself with the common man").

Ed Kilgore, a former speechwriter and legislative counsel for Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA), reflects on his old boss's credentials for a third-party presidential run. My take: policy-wise, Nunn offers a lot to like, but simply put, third parties fail.

Blogger John Henke once observed, "I'm never more interested in, and excited about, the Republican Party than when they are the opposition party." In a recent cover story, the Economist elaborates: "[T]he conservative movement is at its most deadly as an insurgency. The movement was born during the 1964 Goldwater campaign as a revolt against the liberal establishment. It enjoyed its glory days when it was battling Hillarycare and trying to impeach Bill Clinton. A[nother] Clinton presidential nomination would undoubtedly reunite and re-energize the movement."

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Your Dream Jobs

1. Manage the Web site of the Washington Wizards.

2. MTV's Choose or Lose is looking for aspiring journalists to cover the 2008 election via written stories, vlogs and photos.

3. Intern in the Office of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice. "Most of what we do is related to the president's judicial nominees, but we also work on DOJ-related legislation and a couple interns have actually drafted immigration appellate briefs." E-mail me if interested.

4. Clerk for the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Refugees under Ranking Member John Cornyn (R-TX). Law clerks carry out a variety of tasks and projects during their six weeks, including tracking legislation, engaging in legal research and writing, and attending briefings and hearings. Past clerks have helped draft letters to government officials, brainstorm with counsel on breaking legislation, assist in preparations for committee hearings and briefings, and provide in-depth legal research. Full or part-time; a stipend is available. Click here (PDF) to apply.

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Politicians Are People, Too

They have a sense of humor.

Romney: "I asked Ann, my wife, 'Did you ever in your wildest dreams believe I would be running for President?' She told me, 'You weren't in my wildest dreams.'"

Rudy: "To have a description of my mistakes in 30 seconds?"

Fred Thompson: "I am sitting here with a long face and broken heart as I contemplate sunsets on the Mediterranean, which I will not see. . . . We must remember the unspoken vow that all United States senators take upon entering the Senate: I shall have no money, and I shall have no fun. I, of course regarding myself as an unconquerable soul, am still determined to break the second part of that vow."

Karl Rove
: When his resignation from the White House was announced, some staffers at a Seattle Times news meeting cheered. Rove responded by sending a basket of cookies to the newsroom, with a note saying, "My wife shares in your enthusiasm."

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Daily Digest

The Washington Post recently reported that a clutch of PACs founded by Linda Chavez serve mainly to enrich the Chavez family. Of the $24.5 million raised by four Chavez PACs (above) from 2003 to 2006, $242,000—or 1 percent—was passed on to politicians. Even less—$151,236—was spent on independent political activity, like mailing pamphlets. For comparison, David Freddoso, a newly named staff reporter for NRO, reports that in 2005 and 2006, the National Right to Life PAC raised $3.1 million and spent $2.7 million on independent expenditures and candidate contributions, while the Susan B. Anthony List PAC raised $292,000 and spent $248,399 on such activities. In the same period, the Pro-Life Campaign Committee (PLCC), a PAC run by Chavez's husband, raised $1.95 million and spent $14,432.

Why don't Democrats have an Ames straw poll?

Time for some tough love toward Korean peninsula: let's end Seoul's military dependence on America, recommends Doug Bandow. Counterargument: independence would spur an arms race between the South and North. Do we really want another country to go nuclear?

Mitt Romney today became the fifth Republican presidential candidate to undergo the scrutiny of the Club for Growth. The Club's conclusion: "His record on trade, school choice, regulations and tort reform all indicate a strong respect for the power of market solutions. At the same time, Governor Romney’s history is marked by statements at odds with his gubernatorial record and his campaign rhetoric." Given this mixed assessment, Jonathan Martin induces that "unless [Fred] Thompson tells them what they want to hear, it seems like Rudy [my link] has the inside track on getting the Club's support."

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Quote of the Day

"I'm going to be honest with you—I don't know a lot about Cuba's health-care system. Is it a government-run system?"

John Edwards.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Your Dream Jobs

Every Monday morning, America's Future Foundation sends out AFF Room 101, an e-mail that keeps its members abreast of its upcoming activities. The e-mails contain a section called Your Dream Job, which advertises one exciting position, usually in the DC area.

In the same spirit, and because job-hunting can suck, I'm starting a sporadic series of blog posts called Your Dream Job. Here's the first:

1. Looking for a new media internship? Do video production and Web design for CEI.

2. Work at YouTube: "YouTube is an extremely team-oriented, creative work place. Every single employee has a voice in the choices we make and the features we implement. Besides all the traditional benefits (competitive salary, full medical/dental, stock options) you'll have the opportunity to directly influence a revolutionary service used by millions of people every day. Oh, and you'll get free snacks and your very own YouTube T-shirt."

3. is seeking “intelligent, charismatic and humorous” actors to play hosts on its new business news Webcast. Candidates are encouraged to “Think Tina Fey.” According to a spokeswoman for Condé Nast, the daily business Webcast will be part of the refreshed Portfolio Web site, which will graduate from its test stage on August 23 with new bloggers, additional content and a redesigned home page. (The Webcast will be introduced at a date to be determined.) “It’s not going to be a fake news show at all; it’s going to be a serious news program with a twist,” said a Condé Nast spokeswoman, adding that the Webcast would be written by journalists and that both journalists and actors are being considered as presenters.

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The Daily Digest

Steve Chapman picks apart the straw men in Rudy Giuliani's foreign policies.

Leona Helmsley, the millionaire businesswoman who was convicted in 1989 of tax evasion, died today. In April, I faulted her prosecutor—Rudy Giuliani—for "trumpet[ing] this indictment on par with his going after Tony Soprano. . . . [P]rosecutors wield enormous discretion as to which cases they prosecute, and it's unfortunate that Rudy made his bones on Leona Helmsley's back."

Jennifer Rubin explains why Fred Thompson's defense of his lobbying for abortion rights rings hollow. "First, he wasn't lawyering; he was influence peddling and not engaging in any legal advice when he was phoning Sununu or speaking to his former congressional colleagues. . . . Second, everyone makes choice[s] about how they want to use their time and make money."

Last week, Team Thompson suffered another senior resignation: spokeswoman Burson Snyder. "I support Senator Thompson fully and plan to assist in any way I can in the future, but I plan to pursue a better professional fit," Synder tells Jonathan Martin. Her gripe echoes that of J.T. Mastranadi, who resigned after less two weeks as research director. According to a friend, Mastranadi was "fed up" with the "lack of structure" and was unclear about his role in the coming campaign. According to sources, as paraphrased by Martin, Synder chafed "at the uncertain lines of authority and chain of command within both the communications team and the broader campaign staff."

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Quote of the Day

"[A] lot of the Republicans who have condemned them and talk about their platform of family values, interestingly, didn't keep their own families together. Give Bill and Hillary Clinton credit for doing something we say they should have done and that is hold their marriage together in spite of enormous trials."

Mike Huckabee.

(Hat tip: AmSpec Blog.)

Update: "I'm appalled when people are so personal in their attacks on her," Huckabee recently told the Weekly Standard, in reference to Hillary. "Nothing will engender more support for her than being perceived as a bully of a guy attacking this woman."

Related factoid: Huckabee and Bill both served as governor of Arkansas (the 54th and 50th), where they were also both born, in a town named Hope.

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Take This Bill and SCHIP It

Deroy augments and adds to my arguments:

1. "Washington already lets 14 states cover 670,000 'boys' and 'girls,' up to age 25, some of whom have been drinking legally for four years and voting for seven. Ninety-two percent of Minnesota’s SCHIP budget insures adults."

2. Hillary's "proposal, like the House Democrats’ bill, would cover children in families up to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL), double today’s target. Thus, a family of four making $82,600 could receive federal-government medicine. Meanwhile—the Heritage Foundation’s Rea Hederman estimates—70,000 'American families are both poor and high-income—simultaneously.' They qualify for SCHIP and the Alternative Minimum Tax."

3. "77 percent of children between double and triple FPL and 89 percent between 300 and 400 percent of FPL already have private health insurance, notes Cato Institute scholar Michael Cannon."

4. "Senate Democrats would fund this extravaganza via a 156 percent cigarette-tax hike—from 39 cents to $1 per pack. Heritage forecasts that 22 million new smokers would have to light up by 2017 to keep SCHIP afloat. So, SCHIP promises to improve children’s health while exploiting adult tobacco addiction."

5. The NYT reports that in addition to redefining eligibility, the bill also redefines geography, by quietly instructing federal officials to treat certain hospitals as if they were located elsewhere, where compensation from Medicare is substantially higher.

6. Bluey notes that language eliminating the Medicare trigger has been stripped out.

Update (8/30/07):

7. Cato is hosting a Hill briefing on September 13, nicely titled "Sinking SCHIP." The event's description is equally well-stated: "Congress has approved legislation that will increase the tax on tobacco, which is paid mostly by poor people, to fund government health insurance for nonpoor people."

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Caption Contest

Please leave suggestions in the comments.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Daily Digest

Cherry-picked Michael Gerson: In the field of environmentalism, "brows tend to be frozen in furrow and despair is a professional credential." But there is cause for hope, and it's not because people are pedaling to work instead of driving. Example: Innovation, not austerity, reduced smog in Los Angeles. Writ large: "The answer to global warming will eventually be technological—the production of energy without the production of heat-trapping gases."

Ninety-six members of Mitt Romney's family traveled to Iowa to help him win the Ames straw poll. By contrast, Rudy Giuliani's son will not campaign for his dad, and his daughter is supporting Barack Obama.

Racism, vile and visceral, remains alive and well in Louisiana.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bill Richardson: Economic Opportunist

Erza Klein continues the deflation of the Richardson-as-libertarian hype:

I no longer think Richardson is an economic conservative. I was misled by his support for a balanced budget amendment, his attempts to contrast himself with anti-growth politicians, and his constant comments that "[t]he Democratic Party, our first solution is to tax, but I'm not of that school." In our interview, he shredded the implications of every one of those comments, often to the point of incoherence. He stipulated that his balanced budget amendment wouldn't apply during recessions or war and would allow him to better preserve our safety net; he admitted that current tax revenues are insufficient and would have to be increased; and he refused his opportunity to attack some visible strain of economic thinking in the party.

Rather, Richardson is an economic opportunist. He's adopted the conservative's rhetorical critique of liberal economic thought in order to distinguish himself from the other candidates, most of whom are responding to this moment of mortgage crises and insecurity with a forthrightly progressive vision. Richardson's vision, which ticks off the same checkboxes as all the other candidates (crumbling infrastructure, rising college debt, 45 million uninsured, Social Security under attack, etc.), comes couched in a superficial critique of anti-growth Democrats he won't name and a strain of economic thought he won't specify.

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Quote of the Day

"He could be more pro-growth if he were only willing to be less anti-deficit."

Ezra Klein, of the American Prospect, on Bill Richardson.

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Mike Deaver Has Died

Of pancreatic cancer, at his home in Bethesda. From the AP's obit:

Deaver was celebrated and scorned as an expert at media manipulation for focusing on how the president looked as much as what the president said. Reagan's chief choreographer for public events, Deaver protected the commander in chief's image and enhanced it with a flair for choosing just the right settings, poses and camera angles.

"I've always said the only thing I did is light him well," Deaver told the Los Angeles Times in 2001. "My job was filling up the space around the head. I didn't make Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan made me."

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Marriage: Federaliztion or Federalism?

Veteran conservative activist Craig Shirley has called it "the height of intellectual dishonesty" to advocate repealing Roe while calling for the federalization of marriage. "[B]ehavioral issues belong at the state level," he observes.

Indeed, the conservative position on gay marriage—to say nothing of the consistent position—should be a federalist one. This is also the strategically sound liberal position, as TNR's James Kirchick argues:

[Federalism] appeals to conservatives who oppose gay marriage (like former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr [my link]) but agree that it is a subject best left for states. It also acknowledges that the president's power to enact legislation on gay marriage is extremely limited. The most a Democratic president could do is repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. . . . which would be a considerable accomplishment and open the door to granting federal benefits to gay couples in states where such unions are recognized. But marriage laws themselves [would] still [be] within the purview of the states.

Related: "Why Can't Democrats Explain Their Opposition to Gay Marriage?"

Update (8/22/07): The gay rights movement is often compared to the civil rights movement. But one parallel often overlooked is the importance of incrementalism.

For example, in 1957, civil rights leaders derided the Civil Rights Act as a sellout and a crippling compromise. But as (historian?) Robert Mann observed in an op-ed yesterday, "[B]y giving lawmakers confidence that voting for once-radical ideas wouldn't make the sky fall," the bill "paved the way for subsequent, stronger rights legislation."

Indeed, the monumental Civil Rights Act of 1964, like the Voting Rights Act of 1965, would never have passed in 1957.

The corollary: Same-sex equality won't happen tomorrow. It will proceed, to borrow a phrase from political scientist Phil Klinkner, as an unsteady march.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

The Daily Digest

Under Governor Mitt Blunt, Missouri has established the Missouri Accountability Portal (MAP), a Web site that MAPs out the entire state's finances. Better yet, Blunt did this using existing staff and resources, without a single additional expenditure.

In another instance of what I call "reverse snob appeal," Michael Medved and Jim Geraghty extol Mike Huckabee's anti-elitism. "Huckabee spontaneously deploys the warmth, humor, gift of gab, accessibility and kindness that we haven’t seen in a GOP presidential contender since Reagan," writes Medved. "He comes across as a regular guy who cares about other regular guys. He also possesses a rare ability to craft catchy phrases that connect with people." For Geraghty, Huckabee is "a vague populist with a fresh face who has quietly accumulated 10 years of executive experience."

Grover on Cheney: "His penchant for secrecy makes Howard Hughes look like Gypsy Rose Lee."A few days later, Grover also got a dig in at GWB, whose "compassionate conservatism" he referred to as "whatever that was."

What's the point of a blind trust if you know what's in it?

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Daily Digest

Belize, 2005

I'm always skeptical when someone says that Saudi Arabia is modernizing, just slowly. (I guess it depends on whether your definition of "slowly" means at the pace of a snail or turtle.) And yet, an op-ed in yesterday's Christian Science Monitor, which argues that King Abdullah is "sidelining the traditional clergy in favor of the merchant classes and more progressive religious voices," merits consideration.

Any libertarian can tell you why farm subsidies are egregious, but few do it so plainly, so concisely and so cogently as John Stossel.

Karl Rove once said that the press is "less liberal than it is oppositional." Exactly.

Reason's Jacob Sullum concretizes the McCain-DeMint consensus about Congress's recent ethics reform: "If a pickpocket becomes a mugger, he becomes more open and honest, but that doesn't make him more admirable."

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Barack Reagan

Kirk Dillard, the Republican minority whip of the Illinois state senate, illustrates the threat Obama represents to conservatives:

Obama can be to liberalism what Ronald Reagan was to conservatism, and that's a friendly face or likable personality that can move the country left.

Phil Klein, to whom Dillard gave the above quote, elaborates in a cover story for the American Spectator:

A quarter century ago, Ronald Reagan not only won the presidency, he won the argument, selling a generation of Americans on the virtues of individualism and limited government. Just as Reagan's sunny optimism portrayed conservatism in its most positive light, Obama puts a happy face on liberalism.

"[He has] perfect pitch, I think, for the mood of the country, which is a flinch from the rhetorical vitriol for the mood that is consuming this town, "George Will said of Obama on ABC's This Week. "He's a little like Ronald Reagan in this regard: Reagan used to drive people crazy, in the Democratic Party, because they'd say the public doesn't agree with him on this or this or this or this, and they vote for him. They voted for him because they said we like him, he's not off putting, he's not frightening. And I think this is another 1980."

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Redstate Gratuitously Attacks Ron Paul and Mel Martinez

Redstate is the most prominent and influential group blog on the right. Its managing editor, Erick Erickson, works hard and does good work, and his success is evident in that Eagle Publishing recently bought the blog.

Three of Erick's recent posts, however, evince a streak of overzealous activism that is misguided and gratuitous.

First, he posted a ridiculous and insulting interview with Ron Paul: instead of actually talking to Paul, he parodied him as a Martian.

Second, he attacked another straw man: instead of engaging Paul's policy positions, he spewed venom on his supporters—"damn dirty liberal hippies in need of real jobs."

Finally, today, he trained his ire on RNC chairman Mel Martinez, who yesterday chided Romney and Giuliani "for opposing and mischaracterizing the Senate immigration bill Mr. Martinez helped craft," the Washington Times reports.

"It's about leading on the tough issues," Mr. Martinez told the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce ... "It was easy to say, 'This wasn't good enough, this isn't right, I don't agree with Martinez' ... But at the end of the day, what is your answer? How would you solve this?

Erick argues that the party chairman must never attack fellow Republicans, and so he is demanding that Martinez be fired, and is urging Redstate's readers to call their state parties to this effect.

The irony, of course, is that Erick is attacking a Republican for attacking other Republicans.

Moreover, Erick's outrage—he calls Martinez an "incompetent fool"—is wildly disproportionate to Martinez's alleged offense (a mild rebuke on its own, but especially mild when compared with Lindsay Graham's bigot remark).

Related: "A 12th Commandment: Principle before Party."

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The latest pol in Ryan Lizza's hot chair—and the first to grace the cover of Esquire in 15 years—is Barack Obama, the "perpetually second-place Dem optimism junkie," as Wonkette puts it. Here are the key passages:

Why he's an anti-populist:

As he listens to their concerns and gently corrects them, or offers a contrasting view, it’s apparent that one of the biggest challenges for Obama in winning over voters like these is that there isn’t an ounce of populism in him. He is in many ways an antipopulist—measured and rational rather than fiery and demagogic. He never rails against big corporations or fat-cat lobbyists or George W. Bush, even though his stump speech is filled with critiques of all three. Most recent reform candidates have been populist reformers, and both John Edwards and, to a lesser extent, Hillary Clinton are hitting populist notes in Iowa. But Obama seems to willfully resist the temptation to change his cerebral, sometimes off-putting style.

His primary challenge:

When they [Obama's pollsters] compared the percentage of Democrats who said they strongly approved of Obama with the percentage who said they would vote for him, they found that the latter number was significantly lower than the former. Inside the campaign, aides dubbed this “the Gap.” It was a sobering, hard number that quantified the difference between vague enthusiasm and actual votes. For Hillary Clinton, the gap is much smaller. The majority of voters who strongly approve of her also say they will vote for her.

His general challenge:

Pollsters are beginning to talk about Obama’s “beer problem.” Survey after survey shows that he appeals to the college-educated, “wine sipping” Democrats but isn’t reaching less educated “beer drinkers.” His aides explain away the polls, insisting that voters with more education are just paying closer attention to the campaign, and so therefore these numbers are actually good news—the more voters tune in, the more they will move to Obama.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

You Have a Blog, You've Watched YouTube Before, You Might Even Have Listened to a Podcast

Now, how do you integrate all this—not to mention embrace things like MySpace and Facebook, Digg and, Flickr, FeedBurner, Site Meter, widgets, Twitter, BlogAds and Google Groups?

Block off the day of August 29 (two weeks from today), and learn the tricks of the trade at the first-ever Modern Media Strategies Workshop. Sponsored by Google and hosted at Heritage, it's free and star-studded; plus, there's a reception afterward at Lounge 201. Details here.

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Rick on the Radio

At 7:30 pm tonight, I will be discussing blogs generally and the weekly Conservative Bloggers Briefing specifically, on Libertarian Politics Live, which airs on BlogTalkRadio.

Tune in if you can! If you can't, I'll post the audio here as soon as I receive it.

Update (8/20/07): Listen here.

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The Daily Digest

The Washington Monthly spotlights Manny Miranda and his latest venture, Families First on Immigration. In 2005, the New Republic profiled Manny's previous project, the Third Branch Conference.

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has long been living off the largess of his multimillionaire dad, whether via a partnership in his real-estate firm or a huge apartment on 5th Avenue. Less quietly, the father has also been bankrolling his son's political career.

The MSM is often accused, rightly, of being insufficiently skeptical in the run-up to the Iraq war. But as Matthew Yglesias points out, the same charge can be leveled at Washington's think tank establishment.

Earlier this year, the Cato Institute inaugurated a department of bioethics studies. The department's director, Sigrid Fry-Revere, explains the connection between liberty and the life sciences: "There is nothing more fundamental to being an individual than maintaining control over decisions related to one's physical and mental well-being. It is our personal vision of who we are, who we could be, and who we want to be that defines us."

How does this translate into practice? One example is a market-based solution to the perennial shortage in human organs. "The only real answer in a country as pluralistic as the United States is to allow individuals to decide for themselves what is and what is not denigrating," says Fry-Reverse. "Ultimately, freedom and self-ownership go hand in hand. If individuals don't own their body parts, who does? Anyone who believes that selling organs is an affront to human dignity doesn't have to do it."

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The Price of a Vote in Ames

USA Today breaks down the numbers:

• Third-place finisher Sam Brownback says he spent about $325,000 to win his 2,192 votes. That’s $148.27 for each vote.

• Second-place finisher Mike Huckabee spent about $150,000 and received 2,587 votes. That’s $57.98 per vote.

• Winner Mitt Romney has not said how much he spent. The reporting in this Washington Post article suggests at least $2 million and possibly more than twice that much. Assuming $2 million for 4,516 votes, that’s $442.87 per vote. But it could top $1,000.

How did Huckabee do it? Soren's guess: Americans for Fair Taxation turned out bodies for him.

"What great irony. The farthest left candidate on taxes 'wins' the straw poll because of his taxes coalition group."

Related: "Huckabee’s Rise Hurts Romney, Helps Rudy."

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A Pattern

Updated on 8/16

Update (8/26/07):

Update (8/31/07):

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Veep Watch

RCP's Reid Wilson thoroughly runs down the various running-mate scenarios. Two of my favorite analyses:

Mike Huckabee for veep! "If the Democratic nominee is Hillary Clinton, who better to serve the role of attack dog than a former governor of a state closely affiliated with her? Huckabee's debate performances have been uniformly strong, and his stump speech—delivered without notes in Ames as others used a teleprompter—makes even some liberals nod along in agreement. He's a conservative from the South, but one who defies stereotypes and whose easygoing manner and message of compassionate conservatism will resonate well beyond Dixie."

Bill Richardson for veep? "Richardson's past raises some question marks. Whether it's the constant rumors (which he claims John Kerry's people tracked down, finding nothing of substance) or inconsistencies in some stories he tells (being drafted by a Major League Baseball team; a quiet conversation with the mother of a slain soldier she denies ever took place), or even his record (security problems at Los Alamos under his watch; a dramatically altered position on Iraq), choosing Richardson would seem to invite danger."

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fred Thompson Update 2.0 (above) impresses techPresident's Micah Sifry.

Given its high profile, revenues, staff and longevity, is Friends of Fred Thompson violating FEC regulations governing "testing the waters" committees? The NYT reports that Thompson may not use the committee "to explore a candidacy for a lengthy amount of time, or raise more money than is necessary to examine whether to run." Nonetheless, a specific complaint must be filed before the FEC investigates, and Thompson's general counsel is Michael Toner, a former FEC commissioner.

"If Fred Thompson formally announces his intention to run for president, NBC will not schedule any further repeats of Law & Order featuring Mr. Thompson beyond those already scheduled," which conclude on September 1, NBC said in a statement.

Check out Thompson's campaign staff, via techPresident's new StaffWiki.

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Are Liberal Ideas Harder to Communicate?

Rudy Giuliani is a Republican who holds the Democratic position on abortion. He's also a Catholic, which digs his hole even deeper, since various American bishops have threatened to deny him Holy Communion, as they did to John Kerry in 2004.

Accordingly, most political strategists would advise Rudy to avoid the subject of communion at all costs, on the theory that there's no good way out of this minefield. A satisfactory answer would require either an encyclical or a Castro-length sermon, they posit.

Sorry, but that's dead wrong. Instead of obfuscating or tiptoeing around the issue, Rudy plunged headfirst into it, in the current issue of the New Yorker:

“They [the bishops] have every right to tell me anything they want,” Giuliani said to me. “But then I have every right to believe anything I want. And, ultimately, that sort of expresses both my political faith and my religious faith. They have a right to instruct me. And then, having my own conscience, and my own mind, and being my own individual person, I have a right to determine whether I agree with that or I don’t agree with it. Now, there are some people that look at religion differently. That’s the way I look at it. It’s a way that helps me understand morality better. It helps me understand God better. And ultimately it’s my relationship with God, my relationship with Jesus, that’s the important one. And I’ve got to figure it out. And if they help me they do. And if I don’t agree with it then I have to go with my own conscience.”

Thus, in just 152 words—to a reporter, no less—Rudy defused a tinderbox. He didn't pander, but spoke from his heart. Joe Klein would be proud.

Rudy’s homily is especially important because it disproves the conventional wisdom that Republicans are better communicators than Democrats, the thinking being that the nuance of clause-draped liberal ideas doesn't lend itself to sound bites (cf., "support the troops" vs. "pro-troop, anti-war"). As Stanley Fish has brilliantly elucidated, what matters is not the message but the messenger:

If you can't explain an idea or a policy plainly in one or two sentences, it's not yours. . . . Words are not just the cosmetic clothing of some underlying integrity; they are the operational vehicles of that integrity, the visible manifestation of the character to which others respond. And if the words you use fall apart, ring hollow, trail off and sound as if they came from nowhere or anywhere (these are the same thing), the suspicion will grow that what they lack is what you lack.

Indeed, a good communicator can always articulate his message, regardless of complexity and without compromising the integrity of his argument. Tom Friedman, a liberal columnist for the New York Times, is a master of this art, using simple metaphors, like The Lexus vs. the Olive Tree and The World Is Flat, to encapsulate big ideas.

Bear this in mind the next time someone carps that, say, Hillary Clinton's position on Iraq is too sophisticated to be simplified. It's not the position, it's the person, that's the problem.

Update: As soon as I finish praising him for being forthright, I read that he's clammed up. Asked last week at a town-hall meeting in Iowa if he is a "traditional, practicing Roman Catholic," Rudy retorted, "My religious affiliation, my religious practices and the degree to which I am a good or not so good Catholic, I prefer to leave to the priests."

Update (8/20/07): The more I think about it, the less I think there's a contradiction between the above two quotes. In short, some questions, like whether one is a good Catholic, are inappropriate, and it can be refreshing to hear a politician tell a questioner as much.

In fact, this is what Mitt Romney told a writer for the Atlantic Monthly last year, who asked if he wears Temple Garments—white underclothing, with the "Marks of the Holy Priesthood" sewn in, donned with reverence by the most faithful Mormons. "I'll just say those sorts of things I'll keep private," Romney sensibly replied.

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Why There Will Be No Rove Republicans

Hindsight is 20-20, but Karl Rove's agenda was bound to fail. David Frum explains:

It was a politics that aimed at winning elections. It was a politics that treated the problems of governance as secondary.

Moreover, Rovian governance itself contained a fatal flaw, which Joshua Green pinpoints with libertarian precision:

As Mr. Rove sought a political realignment that would create a durable Republican majority, he seized on government as his chief mechanism. He tried to realign American politics principally through the pursuit of major initiatives that he believed would reorient a majority of Americans to the Republican Party. . . .

Mr. Rove’s entire vision for Republican realignment was premised on the notion that he could command government to produce the specific effects that he desired. But as a conservative could have predicted, his proposed policies unleashed a series of failures and unintended consequences. . . .

Mr. Rove married a liberal’s faith in the potential of government to a conservative’s contempt for its actual functioning. This was the contradiction at the heart of “compassionate conservatism.”

Green has profiled Rove twice for the Atlantic, once in 2004, and again this month.

More on Rove's big-government conservatism here.

Jonathan Martin reprints Rove's exit e-mail to colleagues here.

Update (8/23/07): On the other hand, as the Economist recently noted, Rove gave the conservative movement what it wanted:

the invasion of Iraq for the neoconservatives (who had championed it long before September 11th); tax cuts for business and the small-government conservatives; restricting federal funding for stem-cell research for the social conservatives; and conservative judges to please every faction.

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