Saturday, October 30, 2004
If this election doesn’t result in my buying a one-way ticket to the booby hatch, nothing ever will.
The prime mover in my desire for heavy medication is, of course, the polls.
Happy Kerry supporters…
Yesterday: Kerry 46%, Bush 46%. Today: Kerry 47%, Bush 46%.
Yesterday: Kerry 46.7%, Bush 48.7%. Today: Kerry 47.1%, Bush 47.9%.
…or happy Bush supporters?
Yesterday: Bush 46%, Kerry 46%. Today: Bush 46%, Kerry 44%.
Last week: Bush 48%, Kerry 46%. Today: Bush 50%, Kerry 44%.
As the song goes: You keep me spinning right round, baby, right round. Like a record player, baby, right round…
. . .
BARKING MOONBAT CLUB...
...and Walter Kronkite is running for their president! Here is part of his response to a question about the bin Laden tape on Larry King Live last night:
In fact, I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing.
It is also worthwhile looking at King's follow up question. King, I beleive, is running for president of the Worst, Slowest-Witted TV Interviewers Club.
. . .
Friday, October 29, 2004
DAILY BUMPER STICKER
. . .
A BIT MORE ON THE LIBERTARIAN GUIDE
A few folks have noted that I neglected to mention gun control and free trade. Fair enough.
I see an advantage for Bush on both of these, but gun control would matter little in a Kerry Administration. He will certainly face a GOP House, almost certainly face a GOP Senate, so any gun control measure would go nowhere.
As for trade, Bush has a mixed record. On the bad side there are lumber and steel tariffs and textile quotas, on the good side are trade agreements with Chile and Singapore, plus a push for CAFTA. Although Kerry did support NAFTA, his plan no mention in his plan of wanting to expand free trade. Advantage Bush.
So, now it is 10 to 3, in favor of Bush.
. . .
THEY CAN'T BE SERIOUS
Andrew Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens give John Kerry too much credit. My latest at the Spectator.
. . .
Thursday, October 28, 2004
HOGBERG'S LIBERTARIAN GUIDE TO BUSH VS. KERRY
Should libertarians vote for Bush or Kerry? (Assuming they don’t want to vote for the libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik.)
Although I’m not a complete libertarian, I am very much in favor of limited government, and am generally in favor of freedom on social issues. One exception is that I favor some restrictions on abortion late in a pregnancy like the ban on partial-birth abortion (I would argue that is not inconsistent with libertarian principles, but that is another argument for another day; for right now, I will assume any restrictions on abortion are anti-libertarian.) Another is gay marriage on which I am ambivalent (another discussion for another day.)
Nevertheless, I have some strong libertarian leanings that have, at times, caused me to wonder if I should leave the top of the ticket blank this year. For my gripes about Bush, go here and here.
Thus, I have a run-down of various domestic issues comparing both candidates. For discussion here, I assume a policy is libertarian if it expands individual liberty. That can mean holding the line on taxes, preventing restrictive laws and regulations, and putting a break on government spending (thus, saving money for the taxpayers.) Obviously, no policy of either candidate is purely libertarian. My aim here is gauge which one is more libertarian.
Since I’ve talked about abortion already, let’s start with that issue:
Abortion: Bush has signed the partial-birth abortion ban. Kerry supports it, but only with the copout of protecting the woman’s mental health. Don’t need to be a rocket scientist on this one. Advantage Kerry.
Taxes: This one is not as easy as one might think. At first glance, Bush has a proven record of cutting taxes and wants to make his tax cuts permanent. Kerry wants to increase taxes on those making over $200,000. Yet, Kerry also claims he wants a middle class tax cut. However, the last time a Democrat presidential candidate promised a middle-class tax cut, the promise evaporated within about five minute upon his assuming office. Plus, Kerry has a track record of voting for tax increases. Advantage Bush.
Social Security: This one is no contest. Bush supports personal accounts, which will give people more choices with their Social Security taxes. No, it’s not perfect, but it will result in us having more freedom than we have now. Kerry claims he “will never privatize” Social Security. Advantage Bush.
Gay Marriage: Bush supports the Federal Marriage Amendment and wants Congress to approve it. Kerry says he opposes gay marriage, but that the Defense of Marriage Act is sufficient. Kerry will not push any further restrictions on gay marriage. Advantage Kerry.
Government Spending: This is a tough one. Bush has not done well at all on spending, although his latest budget does show some improvement. Kerry has a lot of spending initiatives, and only has a lifetime rating of 25 from Citizens Against Government Waste. Yet, Kerry says he wants to bring down the deficit, and if he is elected but has a GOP Congress, he may have to give up spending plans to pursue deficit reduction. This may seem crazy, but I’ll tentatively say Advantage Kerry.
Health Care: Bush does want some government intervention in health care, like expanded rural health centers and expanding Medicaid for Children (although he does propose giving states more flexibility with Medicaid, which might eventually mean a serious reform of the program.) Yet he also favors expanding Health Savings Accounts, tax credits to purchase insurance, allowing people to buy insurance out of state, and allowing small businesses to pool their resources together—all expansions of liberty. John Kerry, on the other hand, wants nothing but more government involvement in health care. First, he wants the government to cover 75% of catastrophic coverage beyond $50,000, claiming it will reduce costs. But it is a case of cost-shifting, not costs savings, as it will simply be taxpayers instead of insurance companies paying the cost. Worse, it will increase overall costs as insurance companies will have incentive to issue risky policies on the cheap, as they will be able to pass of the bulk of the cost to the taxpayers. Although John Kerry says his plan isn’t about government forcing people to do anything, these two sentences in his plan give the game away: “Health economists predict that these savings will automatically be passed onto workers in the form of higher wages and/or other forms of compensation. If employees do not share in the savings, the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Labor would develop policy options to ensure that employers do share these savings with workers.” Furthermore, once government starts picking up the cost of something, like Kerry wants to do with catastrophic care, it is axiomatic that burdensome regulation eventually follows. Add to that that (1) Kerry wants to allow the government to bulk purchase prescription drugs (bulk purchasing of flu vaccine led to lots of regulation which eventually drove a lot of manufacturers out of business); and (2) he wants to backdoor price controls on prescription drugs via drug reimportation from Canada, and this issue is big Advantage Bush.
Education: Although I like the idea of No Child Left Behind, that schools have to show results for the funding they get, there is no way to get around the fact that it means more federal meddling—not to mention Bush has boosted spending on education. A second administration promises more of the same. But is Kerry any better? He not only wants more spending on K-12, but also for pre-school, after-school programs, and child-care. History has shown that with more federal spending, more regulation is sure to follow. This issue is a wash.
Affirmative Action: The Bush Justice Department has opposed the University of Michigan’s position on affirmative action. That’s not much overall, but when you run “affirmative action” through the search engine at Kerry’s website, you get all sorts of hits saying that Kerry is committed to “defending affirmative action.” Thus, I give a small Advantage Bush.
Minimum Wage: Kerry supports this job killer, wanting to boost it to $7 an hour. Bush has never supported an increase, and shows no indication of supporting one. Advantage Bush.
Tort Reform: Bush has supported efforts in Congress to cap punitive damages and reform product liability. John Kerry has done his best over the years to block such efforts. Bush currently supports medical liability reform. Kerry claims he supports it, and some of his proposals like “3 strikes and no more frivolous lawsuits” have some merit. Yet it also involves more regulation of health-care companies. Advantage Bush.
Energy: I can see little good in either of their plans. Both are big-government, incentive-laden, regulation-riddled garbage. This issue is a wash.
Welfare Reform: Bush supports expanding welfare reform by upping the amount of hours worked by welfare recipients. Run the term “welfare reform” through the search function of Kerry’s website, and you get about 91 hits, and in one of them you find “supports efforts to restore benefits to essential programs for legal immigrants that were lost in the 1996 welfare reform law.” He did vote for the 1996 welfare reform law, but that may have been driven more by the fact that he was in a tough Senate race with Bill Weld . As far as I know, he has not lifted a finger to stop Ted Kennedy's blockage of the extension of the welfare reform of 1996. Think this issue would be a priority for a Kerry Administration? Me neither. Advantage Bush.
Judicial Activism: Bush promises to appoint only “strict constructionists.” Of course, we’ve seen what has happened before with GOP judicial nominees, like David Souter who was appointed by Papa Bush. But Kerry says unabashedly that he will only appoint judges who will defend Roe vs. Wade—i.e. a litmus test. Since Roe vs. Wade is quite possibly the biggest usurpation of judicial power ever, Advantage Bush.
Environment: Bush doesn’t have a very good free-market based environmental record. The Property and Environment Research Center, a premier free-market environmental group, recently gave Bush a C+ grade, up from a C- only two years ago. Bush’s plan still involves a lot of new regulations. But John Kerry’s plan isn’t any better. The deal breaker here is that Kerry supports the Kyoto treaty, a mess of worldwide regulation and a sure jobs killer. Bush does not support it. Slight Advantage Bush.
By my count, that is nine issues on which Bush is more libertarian, and three on which Kerry is. Add to the fact that gay marriage is something of a moot issue at the federal level since the Federal Marriage Amendment isn’t going anywhere unless the GOP picks up 15 more seats in the Senate and 50 more in the House (which isn’t going to happen), and the score is even more in favor of Bush.
However, not all libertarians weigh all policies equally—in fact, few probably do. If gay marriage is your obsession, as it is for certain writers, then Kerry is your libertarian man.
But on balance, Bush’s domestic policies would do more to expand individual liberty. If you are libertarian and weighing a host of issues, it is hard to see how Bush does not come out on top.
. . .
DAILY BUMPER STICKER
. . .
RALLY AT SILVERDOME
Hat tip to Moses Fridman of Jews for George for providing these photos of the Bush rally yesterday at the Silverdome in Michigan. The rally had 20,000 attendance, filling up the lower levels. The photo montage begins with Congressman Joe Knollenberg warming up the crowd.
. . .
WHO IS TO BLAME FOR OHIO?
It is not who you might think. My latest at NRO.
. . .
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
More posts today, here, here, and here.
. . .
DAILY BUMPER STICKER
. . .
NYTROGATE: THE STUPID ISSUE
Getting into an email battle about the missing explosives in al Qaqaa with one of my lefty friends about yesterday, I heard all the same charges about President Bush: “W. is incompetent,” “W. is a failure,” blah, blah, blah.
That just shows how the left has no sense of perspective anymore and how desperate they are to defeat Bush. Even if the explosives were “looted and stolen” (a pretty unlikely scenario given how difficult it is to move 380 tons), keep in mind that the Duelfer report showed that the U.S. armed forces have either destroyed or secured 400,000 tons of explosives. What is missing from al Qaqaa represents less than 1% of that.
I did not realize that an error rate of less than 1% constitutes “incompetence” or “failure.”
Maybe my problem is I’m using the wrong standard. Perhaps John Kerry walks on water?
UPDATE: Yep, the Army had searched al Qaqaa back in early April of 2003.
. . .
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
GAY MARRIAGE REALLY ON THE BRAIN
I’ve been ignoring Andrew Sullivan’s sight since he mentioned Bob Barr’s opposition to President Bush as some sort of notable event. After that, Sullivan should have renamed his blog from the Daily Dish to the Jobber Joke.
Anyway, I didn’t have to go to his website to see his completely un-shocking endorsement of Kerry since it was at TNR. Here it is. Read it if you must.
Otherwise, here is my two-sentence summary: Sullivan has no faith that John Kerry will wage an effective War on Terror. But he pretends that Kerry will because, unlike Bush, he doesn’t support the Federal Marriage Amendment.
Oh wait. I’m not supposed to say that. That’s an “unanswerable smear.”
. . .
DAILY BUMPER STICKER
. . .
YOU KNOW YOU'VE ARRIVED...
...when you receive your first piece of real hate email. It is below in italics, with my comments.
Wish you were with me in Nam, because you wouldn't be now...
Hmm…does that mean the VC would have gotten me, or you would have done a “Sgt. Barnes” when no one was looking?
Hog Heaven... no, more like a pig.
Ouch! That hurt.
Guess we keep throwing pearls before swine like you.
They are throwing pearls before me? Pearls are worth a lot of money. Where are they?
Too late, you friggen war profiteer…
There you go with this money theme again. Sorry, but Donald Rumsfeld hasn’t sent me any money for supporting the War on Terror. Oh wait, maybe he has the pearls! When is he going to deliver them to me?
…cuddle with Bush…
Well, I have shaken his hand. That’s about all I’ll do with him. I don’t support gay marriage. Is Rumsfeld here with the pearls yet?
…my vote has been cast.
Good. Love to see citizen participation. Did you vote for Bush?
Is Rumsfeld here with the pearls yet?
. . .
Monday, October 25, 2004
DAILY BUMPER STICKER
. . .
THAT KERRY STORY, PART III
Sorry, but this story has teeny-tiny legs, at best. So Kerry didn’t meet with the all members of the Security Council, but he did talk to a few members individually. Here’s why it isn’t going anywhere:
(1) I doubt the rest of the press is going to care. Because:
(2) It’s not like Kerry has touted his meeting with the U.N Security Council at every campaign stop, in every debate, in every press appearance, etc., like he did his Vietnam service. So:
(3) Because Kerry hasn’t emphasized this non-meeting every moment of the day, it isn’t something that voters readily identify with him. No one is going to care if he fudged some details about this. And, finally:
(4) Even if the Kerry campaign is pressed on this, it can muddle the issue by pointing out that Kerry did meet with a few members of the Security Council, and just say he misspoke, and that will be the end of it.
Yes, I was hoping for more, but so what? It’s not like Bush’s chances of winning are dependent on a bombshell against Kerry.
. . .
THAT KERRY STORY, PART II
Bob has some thoughts on it over at his place. More about it from me in a later NRO post.
. . .
IS THE NATION LOSING ITS MIND?
My latest at the Spectator.
. . .
THE DUMB MOOT REGISTER
My take down of its endorsement of John Kerry over at NRO Battleground. Another Battlengrounder post here.
. . .
Sunday, October 24, 2004
ABOUT THAT KERRY STORY
For details, see Powerline or RedState.Org.
This is the sort of thing that can sway the undecideds in an election, especially since it is coming at this late date. However, I would advise against getting too excited about this thing. If it is just more of the “Kerry flip-flopping, weak on defense, not giving the straight story,” it’s not likely to have much effect. Voters are already familiar with that sort of thing. This story might reinforce those things, but t is not likely to sway many undecideds.
For it to be a bombshell, it would have to be either, (1) a story showing that Kerry is lying about an issue position that has become synonymous with his campaign, or (2) Kerry on tape saying that America was to blame for the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Final word to all Bush supporters: Whatever the story is, don’t get complacent one iota. There is still a lot of work to be done in the next eight days.
. . .
DAILY BUMPER STICKER
Two today since I missed yesterday.
. . .
FOR NRO READERS
We told you so: The tax ‘cut’ only helped Iowa’s affluent
by Richard Doak
January 27, 2002
Des Moines Register
Once in a while, everyone should get to indulge the impulse to say I told you so. In the case of the editorial page, it would have to be phrased "we" told you so. We told you so about taxes.
Back in the'90s when members of the Legislature were bragging about cutting taxes because they had reduced the state income tax, we said that wasn’t quite true. What had taken place was not a tax cut, it was a tax shift.
In the years preceding the income-tax reduction, the Legislature twice raised the sales tax. Reducing the income tax after raising the sales tax wasn’t a cut we said. It was a tax shift—away from a tax that falls most heavily on the affluent toward a tax that falls most heavily on middle- and lower-income Iowans.
Now the numbers are in, and they confirm our analysis. There’s little satisfaction in it, though, because the numbers ought to make the state ashamed.
A report compiled by the Iowa Policy Project and the child and Family Policy Center looked at the combined effects of the 1992 sales-tax reduction. The number show an astonishing 80 percent of Iowans suffered a net tax increase, with the top 1 percent getting the biggest cut of all.
The middle-income earner ($32,000 a year) ended up with a tax increase of about $48. The top 1 percent (averaging $476,000 a year) enjoyed a tax cut of nearly $1,900.
And that study didn’t take into account an earlier sales tax increase that had occurred in the 1980s. Going back farther would make the shift in the tax burden look even worse.
We were right about something else too. When the legislature was slashing the income tax, we warned that the action was based on unrealistic expectations. That was at the height of the 1990s' boom, with revenue pouring into the states treasury. The Legislature assumed it would go on forever. We said if lawmakers cut the income tax too much, there wouldn’t be enough revenue coming in when the boom ended.
They didn’t, and there isn’t. Now, the state can't meet its obligations, so it's cutting the payments to care for people in nursing homes and slowing pay raised for teachers. Not to worry. The affluent got their tax cut and that’s all that matters. In case you hadn’t noticed, the primary purpose of government in the modern era is to make life more comfortable for the already comfortable. This has been perhaps the most profound change in American politics in my lifetime. I'm old enough to remember when Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House, Americanism reigned throughout the land and progressive taxation was regarded as one of the great achievements of our democracy, right up there with free public education and universal suffrage. The patriotism of the day held that to whom much is given much is expected.
Today's prevailing philosophy is that to whom much is giving, even more should be given. And progressive taxation is for saps.
At least since the 1970s moderate-and low-income Americans have been losing ground or merely holding their own. Almost all the huge economic gains of recent years have gone to the upper echelons.
Part of that is natural. When economic growth is driven by new technology, as it had been recently, the benefits tend to flow mostly to investors and the well-educated. They deserve their reward. But those who have been left behind don’t deserve to have their relative tax burden increased so that the rewards to the winners can be sweetened even more. Yet that’s happening. Income, capital gains and inheritance taxes are cut at the states and national levels, while sales and payroll taxes are raised, shifting the burden downward on the income scale. At the federal level, deficit spending has even been used to finance tax cuts for the affluent, saddling ordinary Americans with the interest payments on a bigger national debt.
The new philosophy of the comforting the comfortable has become so entrenched that anyone who questions it is immediately accused of class warfare or worse. Selected terms of economics are invoked like incantations to justify any action that mostly benefits the wealthy, and anyone who suggests that there might be a better way to stimulate the economy (like spreading the purchasing power more even throughout the population) is dismissed as someone who just doesn’t get it. That technique was successfully used by Enron, too. Before the company’s spectacular collapse anyone who questioned its murky business philosophy was attacked as an idiot who just didn’t get it.
Well, everyone gets it now.
One of these days, maybe people will begin to get it about the current philosophy in government too.
. . .
. . .