Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Barone Does History: What Matters in Midterms

Michael Barone, through his careful reading of history and electoral statistics always the dean of political pundits, today leaves his home at US News to write for the Dow Jones folks at OpinionJournal.com.

Gentle readers must read this column in its entirety to continue to be considered gentle readers. It's all about the history of midterm elections and whether they indicate new political alignment and new policies. We quote Barone's conclusion:

All of which leaves me with the conclusion that ideas are more important than partisan vote counts. Democrats could not go beyond the New Deal from 1938 to 1958, because they had not persuaded most Americans to go Roosevelt's way until 13 years after his death. Similarly, Republicans never had reliable majorities for Reagan's polices until 1994, six years after he left office. Democratic gains in 1974 made the House the most left-leaning branch of government for 20 years--in vivid contrast to the prognostication of '60s liberals, who said it would always be the most conservative--and Republican gains in 1994 made it the most conservative-leaning. Those majorities affected public policy, but not always in ways their partisans liked.

If the Democrats are justified in preparing to change the drapes today, the questions to ask are: How enduring will be such a partisan switch? How much change in public policy will it accomplish? To the first question, the likelihood of an enduring partisan switch is not high--if you believe the polls showing the leading Republicans, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, walloping the best-known Democrats, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Al Gore, in 2008. Changes in public policy? Well, the lead item on the Democrats' wish list is to raise the minimum wage, a law first passed in 1938. Not exactly a new idea.

I don't know what the results of the midterm elections of 2006 will be. But I doubt that they will have the sweeping partisan or policy consequences of the midterm elections of 1874 and 1894, or 1938 and 1994.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Center-Right Ds: We'll Believe When Moderates Lead

Today's Gray Lady notes that Democrats, apparently heeding the SWNIDish call for reasoned engagement in the issues of the day, are fielding moderate-to-conservative candidates in House races in moderate-to-conservative districts.

We applaud this move, skeptically. Our skepticism stems from these realities that suggest that the party itself continues to veer sharply leftward, into irrational territory:

(a) Lamont is still the Democrat running for Senate in Connecticut, the result of the savaging of the gentle and wise Joe Lieberman. And party leaders have failed to acknowledge the awful mistake they made in permitting such a thing to happen, as Joe will trounce the leftist neophyte Lamont.

(b) Choices of where to run the Democrat moderates don't seem to us to be focused on making the party more moderate or the Congress more functional. To wit: in the Ohio First District, moderate and experienced John Cranley runs against Republican conservative Steve Chabot, the latter a candidate of distinguished record and unimpeachable integrity. In the Ohio Second, Victoria Wuslin, a left-wing candidate with no real political experience whose views (e.g. a gas tax based on the buyer's income) are at least a tad bizarre, runs against Jean Schmidt, a first-termer who's embarrassing to her district and vulnerable. Cranley will likely lose to Chabot, but he would have beaten Schmidt like a timbale. It would appear that revenge on Chabot, who was involved in the Clinton impeachment, is more important than actually winning a seat with a moderate.

(c) The Ds were supposed to have turned to the center with the appointment of Harry Reid as Senate minority leader after their 2004 embarrassment. Reid promptly became a reborn water-carrier for George Soros and the netroots socialists.

(d) No one is talking about the moderate House or Senate leadership that the Ds will appoint when they take power on the strength of their moderate candidates. Rather, we still expect Pelosi and newly-left Reid, not to mention the herd of senior nutcases who will preside over committees in both chambers.

If the Democrats are serious about becoming the party of the center, their first order of business should be, in an act of political contrition and wisdom unparalleled in the annals of party politics, to elect Joe Lieberman as minority (for surely this will be their ongoing role) leader of the Senate.

Census Bureau to Cincinnati: Never Mind

Well, it seems that all the attention to Cincinnati's precipitous population loss, which attention this blogger vigorously poo-pooed, was so much Chicken-Little behavior.

The US Census Bureau now estimates that Cincinnati didn't lose population faster than any American city. No, between 2000 and 2005 it gained 27 residents.

In sum, the city challenged the original numbers, saying that the estimate undercounted the number of new housing units in the city. And the obliging folks in Washington adjusted their numbers accordingly.

Of course, the very fact that Cincinnati went from worst (in the nation) to first (or nearly so in Ohio, where it joins Columbus as one of two major cities to add people) makes one disbelieve the entire enterprise of guessing how many people live in a city.

Nevertheless, we stand by our earlier assertions as to what suburbanites are missing by not living closer to the action and what the city needs to do to create better perceptions and reality about the quality of life within its borders.

Not least, we call again on our cowardly and balkanized local leaders to sacrifice their tiny municipal fiefdoms and reorganize the entirety of Hamilton County to become the City of Cincinnati, like its successful neighbors within the 100 mile radius of interstate highways.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Kinsley: Voting Against Rs as Rs OK; SWNID: Not If It Means Voting for Ds

Michael Kinsley's Guardian column today shows that he deserves his oxymoronic reputation as a smart leftist. It's replete with thoughtful observations about the nature of politics.

Kinsley argues that it's fine to vote for the party instead of the person. We agree, frankly. Neither Kinsley nor we would argue that one must always vote party, but neither is it better always to ignore party.

Where we part company is Kinsley's assertion that it's fine this November to vote for Ds, whom he with wit and style acknowledges have no coherent platform whatsoever, because it is the only way to punish the Rs for their failures.

We disagree. And not just because we're R-ish.

Kinsley is wrong because in such a situation, the punishment does nothing to alleviate the distress. For the sake of argument stipulating Republican "failure" (and we'd prefer to note that we live in difficult times when all policy successes will be marginal at best), we fail to see the advantage of exchanging a group with a failed record but some notion of the way the world works with one with no record and no notion.

Unless, that is, one hopes that with a brief period in the political wilderness, the group with a notion can regroup, reformulate, and be fit to govern again in a short period of time.

But Kinsley doesn't think this, though some Rs evidently do.

Still, can't the group with a notion become the group with a plan while they remain in power? And isn't that better than trusting the corridors of power to a bunch whose core beliefs, if they have them, don't match up with the view of the world held by the people who would elect them? And whose record of governance is no less filled with failure than that of the people whom they seek to replace?

Again, what troubles us about the body politic is not that the Rs have failed but that the Ds, by their adherence to genuinely failed ideologies that keep them from addressing the political mainstream, have not proved themselves worthy of consideration to govern.

Webb: Quoting Things I Published Is a Smear

Responding to quotations from his novels that he apparently doesn't want people to read, Jim Webb is ringing the usual Democrat bells sounded after criticism from Republicans. That is, this is a smear from Evil Genius Karl Rove.

Webb insists, as do all authors of sexually explicit scenes in novels, that his scenes advance the plot and illuminate the characters and situations. We aren't going to invest our precious SWNIDish time in finding out. Life on earth is currently too short to waste on novels that aren't widely acclaimed for a long time (i.e., "classics").

But we will stand by our admittedly out-of-context evaluation that these excerpts of Webb's purple prose have all the hallmarks of the sensationalistic, titillating style and objectives that predictably "spice up" potboiler fiction. These generally don't advance plot as much as they appeal to the voyeurism of the reader, covering for the absence of real plot, characters, conflict or significant themes.

It takes a writer of exceptional skill to do otherwise with sex, and even then, the results are debatable. We cite John Updike as evidence. Updike is certainly one of the greatest American fiction writers of the second half of the twentieth century, renowned for his ability to chronicle the travails of his era and social class. He is also renowned for his thoughtful portrayal of religious and moral issues from a Christian vantage point (gentle readers who haven't partaken of his brilliant, early short story "Pigeon Feathers" should do so immediately). He is also renowned for his graphic depiction of sex (none in the aforementioned story, but this is the very reason we hesitate to recommend Updike to others with the exception of this story and other pre-"Rabbit" work). And even with his moral and literary skill, he provokes critics to ask whether his sexual scenes are merely gratuitous displays of literary virtuosity in the service of voyeurism.

And Webb is no Updike. No one in critical circles is asking the question about Webb that they ask about Updike. No one in critical circles is asking any questions about Webb. Webb isn't writing literature; he's just having fun and making dough writing forgettable pulp that shocks.

We grant that America's bookracks are filled with paperbacks--read by so-called respectable, middle-class people, and sometimes written by prominent public figures--that have all that Webb wrote and more. We simply say that this is nothing to be proud of, and it may reveal more about the people who write and read this stuff than they care to admit.

And so we ask whether the voters of Virginia want to mainstream and lionize the demeaning depiction of sexuality by electing a purveyor of pornographic prose to represent them in the nation's highest legislative body.

Friday, October 27, 2006

VA Senate Now Clearly in R Column

Additional developments in the ongoing narrative of nasty campaigning lead us to assert firmly that the Virginia Senate seat will be won by Republican (and political klutz) George Allen.

A well known web source providing links to hot news stories and columns and publishing insider perspectives on scandal (i.e. gossip) today has posted excerpts from former Navy Secretary and Democratic candidate for Senate from Virginia Jim Webb's potboiler military novels. The excerpts are, to put it mildly, disturbingly pornographic. And we're not being prudish. They are mysogynistic, dehumanizing, brutal, brutish, bizarre. And without artistic merit, in our opinion both in the aesthetic (this is cliched writing at its worst) and legal (Potter Stewart would recognize this for what it is) senses.

That's why we're not supplying a link or even naming the web site. This stuff is awful. If you search it out yourself, you'll wish you hadn't. We wish we hadn't today checked the page that we check most every day.

As for Allen's famous "Macaca" remark, it doesn't just fade in comparison. It disappears without a trace, totally covered from view by this much less ambiguously scandalous revelation of the heart of Allen's opponent.

What's most amazing is that this stuff has been out there in public, in books that people presumably read. Apparently no one in the MSM has bothered heretofore to see what this Webb was really all about, or they knew and didn't care. It obviously took a Republican operative to point out the Webb has made significant money portraying humans as objects of cruel self-gratification. So much for the press doing its so-called job.

We doubt that even the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia who read such dreck will be able to vote for Webb without some misgivings now. Who wants a pornographer representing their state in the United States Senate?

For Every Measure There Is a Counter-Measure, Or Three Cheers for Entrepreneurs

Lucianne.com, our first page read of every day, posts this cartoon as its picture of the day, surely a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit if there ever was one.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Kaplan: Withdrawal Risks Genocide; Miniter: Media Has It Wrong

Atlantic editor Robert Kaplan, who has provided brilliantly informative articles on the American military throughout the war on terror, has posted on the magazine's web site a most sober and sane assessment of the way forward in Iraq.

In sum, withdrawal risks genocide in Iraq. The alternative is to engage Iraq's neighbors in preventing such an outcome.

We're not sure about the alternative. But we are confident of the risk in withdrawal.

Meanwhile, we remain intrigued that there are still responsible journalists like Richard Miniter, a freelancer formerly of the Wall Street Journal, who can write books proclaiming what his latest does. Disinformation : 22 Media Myths That Undermine the War on Terror argues that the situation in Iraq is not as altogether awful as one might conclude from the MSM, which relies on Sunni Iraqis largely connected to the old Baathist regime. For a taste, you can hear an interview with the author by Tavis Smiley here (use IE for this; you'll get an awful effect with Firefox).

Miserable News for Cincinnati Education: Willard Indicted

Cincinnati's W. E. B. DuBois Academy was almost certainly the city's most successful charter school and arguably the most successful school of any kind in educating at-risk students of poverty.

So it is very discouraging to learn that its founder, former superintendent and current paid advisor Wilson Willard was indicted for multiple counts of fraud.

Mr. Willard is innocent until proved guilty, and we hope that he's genuinely and totally innocent. But we find ourselves disheartened that what seemed a genuine success story in a critical area of social life and improvement in our city has degenerated months into yet another personal and financial scandal.


Additional Perspective on Previous Post: Vacuum of Iraqi Leadership

We commend to gentle readers the blog by Iraqis for the world, Iraq the Model, and note in particular a recent post on the meeting of Iraqi clerics of both Sunni and Shiite persuasions in Mecca. What the courageous and insightful Iraqi blogger notes is that these leaders went all the way to the holy city to sign an accord that affirmed that murder is wrong.

The absence of effective leadership on the part of Iraq's ostensible leaders is perhaps the most obviously underreported problem in the country presently. It's like India without Gandhi or South Africa without Mandela, or the United States without Lincoln, for that matter. All were huge messes,* but imagine how much huger the messes would have been without those remarkable, albeit flawed, individuals to command loyalty, restrain impulses, and compel rational and charitable responses to situations of disagreement among potentially warring factions.
*We're not familiar with the statistics on South Africa, but we know that the rate of mortality in the American Civil War and the Indian struggle for independence and subsequent partition were significantly higher than what we've seen in Iraq.

British Contrarian Journalist Articulates SWNID Assessment of Iraq

Journalist Tim Hames, unknown to us previously, posts in the Times of London a most excellent (in that agrees with us) assessment of the present situation in Iraq and the merits of the British and American efforts there. Because it is embedded in a column that takes on matters less urgent, like the British relationship to the United States, we will quote the critical portion in full. Because we simply affirm it, we will offer no additional comment:

Secondly, I am not inclined to castigate the US Administration for what has occurred in Iraq. As Matthew [Parris, another Times writer] correctly says, it is far from obvious that deploying many more troops after Saddam Hussein was toppled would have made sense, or that the “de-Baathification” of the Iraqi Army and bureaucracy was a miscalculation. For a start, “de-Baathification” was scarcely a deliberate US policy. These institutions simply disintegrated when their leader disappeared.

The largest single mistake, in retrospect, rests elsewhere. The problem has not been the Bush Administration underestimating how much Iraqis might come to loathe the West for the “occupation” but a failure to grasp the extent to which, thanks to Saddam, Iraqis had come to fear and hate each other.

That inter-communal hatred is the present cause of Iraq’s troubles. American soldiers have died in tragic numbers this month not because of any so-called insurgency that wants to drive the US out of Iraq but because they have been attempting to prevent rival religious and sectarian militias from killing their enemies. The effort to hold together a central government in Baghdad (a drive, ironically, designed to reassure the defeated Sunnis) does not command sufficient consensus to sustain it.

What needs to be done now, as James Baker, a former US Secretary of State, appreciates, is to secure a decentralised settlement and convince the Shia majority to divide the oil revenues in a way that each camp will consider fair. In such a situation, as Kim Howells, the Foreign Office Minister, has outlined, US and British forces could be withdrawn steadily throughout 2007 without chaos.

I would not bet against Iraq’s future. That country retains extraordinary attributes. To declare it dead and buried a meagre three years after Saddam’s demise is, to me, premature folly. After all, would the recovery of Germany and Japan have been anticipated in 1948, three years after their surrender? Or the fate of Russia accurately assessed in 1994, during the chaos of the Yeltsin years, three years after the Soviet Union was disbanded? Or would anybody have expected that China would be where it is today in 1992, three years after the Tiananmen Square massacre?

The question that those of us in the pro-war camp have to confront is whether by, say, 2010 Iraq, the Middle East and the wider world will be demonstrably the better for Saddam’s overthrow than if he and his sadistic sons had been left in power. My answer to that question remains, unambiguously, in the affirmative.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Barron's, Enquirer Follow SWNIDish Wisdom

This morning's news brings indications that wisdom of the SWNIDish variety still can be found in the MSM.

Barron's (not to be confused with Michael Barone, y'all), the venerable investment weekly famous for its commitment to a dour view of the economy (Motto: "Sell stocks, buy bonds, it's 1929!") is prognosticating two Republican leaders, albeit with reduced majorities, in our bicameral national legislature in 2007. Their analysis is state-by-state and district-by-district and takes into account the Rs' historic and current advantage in dollars. This accords with our SWNIDish hope and, as we have noted, a sliver of other analysis and polling out there.

Meanwhile, the Enquirer, not known for the conservatism of its editorial opinions since Peter Bronson's retirement from the editorial board chairmanship, endorses both Mike DeWine and, most surprisingly, Ken Blackwell.

DeWine they celebrate for his thoughtful influence on Senate deliberations and Republican party policy. Blackwell gets kudos for his aggressive positions on reforming educational and governmental finance with a view to addressing Ohio's most acute economic problems. They also don't miss criticizing his recent campaign tactics. We agree, and we can't get over the fact that we do.

What surprises us about both endorsements is how the normally bland local opinion writers summon some uncharacteristically sharp criticism of the Democratic candidates' positions, or lack thereof. To wit, on Brown:

Brown echoes the talking point that seemingly has been fed to every other Democratic congressional candidate this fall - that his or her opponent is a "rubber stamp" for President Bush. This simple-minded toting up of roll-call votes is nonsense. You could just as easily - and unfairly - argue that Brown is a rubber stamp for Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi.

But it is especially nonsensical where DeWine is concerned. If you look beyond the raw percentage of votes supporting the leadership's stance, you see how DeWine has influenced his own party's position on those issues and has worked with members of the other party on finding consensus.

Most troubling about Brown his how he exploits Ohio workers' fears with his faux-populist, anti-free-trade rhetoric. He posits cause and effect where such relationships are not clear. He says he's very pro-trade yet opposes efforts to free up tariff structures that often have disadvantaged American firms more than those of other nations.

He pits large corporations - Procter & Gamble is one - against small businesses. This is especially crass. Small businesses, where most of the new jobs come from, are beginning to flourish in our state because of expanded opportunities for trade - both directly and through their supply relationships to the P&G types.

And on Strickland:
Strickland also talks of making Ohio an oasis of alternative energy research, a key point in his "Turnaround Ohio" plan. Yet he offers little in the way of specifics on how he will execute that turnaround. "We can fund initiatives simply by taking advantage of available federal and other funding or reordering our present priorities we've ignored in the past," he says on his campaign Web site. "Programs and budgets aren't leadership. Leadership is all about people and results."

We're not sure why that last sentence is marked as a quote. Are the Enquirer opinionists quoting Strickland again to hoist him by his own proverbial petard? Or are they ridiculing the vacuousness of Strickland's un-positions? Either way, we thank them for announcing that there's really only one set of policies to consider in the governor's race.

So our political self goes forward today hopeful that the eternal pessimists at Barron's are correct and that the Enquirer's opinions can have impact well beyond its declining readership.

And so on this Sunday morning, we will venture a cheeky political sermon (note to those inclined to comment: admittedly brash overstatement and oversimplification ahead), with the immortal Harry Truman supplying our text:

Truman was fond of saying, "If you want to live like a Republican, vote for Democrats." We say, if you want everyone to get rich like a Republican, vote for Republicans.

Update: We thank intrepid Barron's blog-searcher Christine for alerting us that the article in question is the free feature of the week. You can access the whole thing here.

We do admit that in the big picture it is not altogether comforting to realize how powerful an indicator of political success is a candidate's success in raising campaign funds relative to her opponent's. But we find every imaginable alternative to be even worse in their suppression of free speech.

Friday, October 20, 2006

SWNIDish Advice Statistically True: To Finish Grad School, Get Married

Inside Higher Education today reports on a study by economist Joseph Price of Cornell University demonstrating, against conventional wisdom but in accord with SWNIDish wisdom, that being married is linked to success in graduate school.

The advantage is strongest for married men but still significant for married women. And it applies even though married graduate students tend to be older and have lower GRE scores than singles. Being married with children also seems to be an advantage.

The author of the study anecdotally attributes part of the marriage advantage to time management. We agree.

We'll further argue that the same aspects of character that tend to make people marriageable also tend to make them good graduate students.

For years we've been telling students not to think that being married will make grad school harder. Now we're glad to have some statistics to back our intuition.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Nikki Giovanni Flap: Organizers Should Have Known

Cincinnati's news reporting has mostly been beset with a spasm of reaction to the miserable excuse for a poem read by alleged poet Nikki Giovanni at the dedication ceremony for the renovated Fountain Square. A story with a link to a Word document with the entire poem is available here, for those with the patience.

Most reaction has been about how unsuitable it was for her to use vulgar expressions to insult Ken Blackwell. Actually, we think she probably got Blackwell a few sympathy votes from that move.

We actually don't mind the political stuff, and we're unshocked by the vulgarity, though we would prefer to do without it. But we vigorously object to this miserable piece of incoherent, unpoetic and inaccurate drivel being read to living people. The "poem" possesses nothing of a remotely poetic character. It reads more like a randomly arranged list of "things to do in Cincinnati," with a couple of hackneyed political remarks thrown in for good measure.

What's worse, Giovanni didn't even get the details right. "I am Montgomery ribs," she intoned. We assume she refers to Montgomery Inn Ribs. "I am Findlay Street Market." No, you are merely Findlay Market. "I am Symphony Hall." Well then, you are not in Cincinnati. No such venue exists in Our Fair City. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra plays in Music Hall.

In sum, we agree with Xavier English professor Norman Finkelstein, whose opinion on Giovanni the Enquirer summarizes this way:

Finkelstein called Giovanni's poem a "klutzy" piece that seemed to have been dashed out in a few minutes, a poem that reached for "too many easily accessible images of Cincinnati and Cincinnati history." Giovanni might have included her reference to Blackwell to be provocative, he said - but "in doing that, whatever poetic integrity the thing had went down the tubes."

Giovanni "has a good deal of skill and panache in handling a certain kind of public oratory," Finkelstein said. "I don't think she's a particularly strong poet anymore."

But this is no sub-par performance for Giovanni. This is what she does. Again, we defer to the experts, per the Enquirer:

James Cummins, a professor of English at the University of Cincinnati and curator of the school's Elliston Poetry Collection, agreed that the poem wasn't good - just a string of images, a catalog of facts, a bit of opinion. . . .

He also said that while Giovanni might not be a "great poet," she is a "poet/activist" known to speak her mind - and event organizers should have expected just that.

"Absolutely, they knew what they were getting when they asked Nikki Giovanni," he said.

Exactly. Giovanni is successful as a poet because she has managed to do what lots of people in the arts have done historically: bamboozle people of means and pretention into paying her. In earlier ages, that largely meant producing things that flattered the ruling classes. Now it means producing things that offend the middle classes. For those wealthy elites whose tastes have developed no farther than their naively quasi-Marxist politics, such offense to the bourgeoisie is the equivalent of artistic merit, not to mention penance for their own social privilege.

Ironically, on her own terms this makes Giovanni, who called Blackwell a political whore, a poetic whore.

Zogby/WSJ Show Rs in Senate, Blackwell with a Faint Pulse

Zogby, never noted for favoring Republicans, continues to track the November elections less favorably for Dems than do other sources.

The Wall Street Journal's handy interactive map for tracking current polling data, strangely similar to the NY Times's, shows a net gain of one Senate seat for the Democrats, leaving the GOP with a comfortable 55-45 majority.

Further, Zogby puts Brown's lead over DeWine in Ohio within the margin of error. If DeWine pulls off a squeaker, then the Senate, minus Rick Santorum but plus Tom Kean, Jr. from New Jersey, stands pat.

Meanwhile, the pathetic, inept campaign of Ken Blackwell can take hope in the Zogby report that he still trails empty suit Ted Strickland by only ten points. We think there's still time for Blackwell to make a run by telling his story and touting his moderate, appealing proposals, not the ridiculous character assassination on which he's been relying. The problem with character assassination in a race like this is that no one is voting for Strickland because of his character to begin with. They're just voting against the Republicans, and negative campaigning gives one more reason to do that.

Plan a nice buffet of snacks for the evening of November 7, because it looks like you'll still be munching in the early morning of November 8.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Barone: It's Still a Republican World

Michael Barone has been backing off earlier prognostications that the Rs will hold both houses of Congress. But he's unrelenting in his assessment of the body politic as a whole.

In the eyes of the principal coauthor of the Almanac of American Politics, 2006 will not represent realignment to the Ds. The shift will be too small (the race will be close and the margin small), is not based on new ideas from the opposition party (the minimum wage is the centerpiece, and it's been around since 1938), and is unlikely to sustain itself into 2008 (Ds poll way, way behind Rs for the White House).

If that sounds like a lot of things you've read from SWNID, it's because Barone is also Seldom Wrong.

If the election becomes a referendum on Bush's job performance (an assessment that Barone calls unfair in light of history, again a SWNID topos) or a response to voters' fatigue with the fatigued Republicans (again familiar), the effect will be temporary.

Gray Lady: Ds Must Run Table to Take Senate, Nearly Same for House

The NY Times Election Guide tally of US Senate races belies the paper's tone about the upcoming election. Specifically, it shows:

40 Senate races "safe" for Ds (including uncontested seats)
8 Senate races "leaning" to Ds
3 Senate races "toss ups"
2 Senate races "leaning" to Rs
47 Senate races "safe" to Rs

This means that to prevail in the Senate, Democrats must take all the races that lean to them and all the toss-ups (including NJ, which is currently in their hands). Fail once, and they need to pick up one of two races that lean R. N.B. that "lean Democrat" in this case can mean very thin polling margins, like Brown's in Ohio, definitely subject to turnout.

In the House, the situation is about the same:

190 seats "safe" for Ds (all contested, for those who forget the constitution)
23 seats "leaning" to Ds
13 seats "toss ups"
22 seats "leaning" to Rs
187 seats "safe" for Rs

Again, for minimal control, the Ds need safes plus leaners plus five of thirteen toss-ups.

The sheer closeness of it all probably explains why, to much press coverage, the RNC stopped writing checks for Mike DeWine. DeWine enjoys a personal fundraising advantage over Brown that may allow him to prevail. But holding Senate "toss ups" will be the focus of the national dough, as holding just one will prove decisive. And DeWine's race leans to Brown.

Again, we believe that many indicators point to low turnout, in which case effective get-out-the-vote efforts will tip some elections. That's why we still hold elections.

Freed-Hardeman Forum: Baby Step, But Which Way?

The Christian Chronicle, a publication of the a capella Christian Churches, today offers a report on the "Contemporary Discussion," previously announced here, between David Faust and D. Ralph Gilmore at Freed-Hardeman University Saturday.

SWNID was unable to connect to the FHU server for streaming audio, but we understand from water-cooler conversation (metaphor alert: this conversation was not actually held in the proximity of a water cooler) that (a) aspects of discussion felt more than a little hostile to Dr. Faust, the most gentle of gentlemen, prompting him to voice his disappointment with the tone of certain remarks, including the introduction to the entire discussion; (b) email to Dr. Faust since the discussion has been markedly positive.

This accords with our SWNIDish reading of the Chronicle story. We note several remarks that suggest less than full willingness to engage the logic of Dr. Faust's observations and analogies. We leave it to our insightful and gentle readers to note these for themselves. We will note that citing Ephesians 5:19, specifying singing and making melody in the heart, to support a no-instruments position both illogically identifies the worshiper's internal state with one expression (singing with the voice) while excluding all others.

But we note as well that per the article at least one FHU student found his heart strangely warmed to consider alternative points of view.

We note further what is at stake in the kind of hermeneutics and ecclesiology that spawns the instrumental debate, specifically citing another story on the Chronicle web site. To wit: noninstrumental churches of Christ in developing countries are being split over such issues as whether singing during the observance of the Lord's supper is acceptable or whether congregations can send money to other organizations.

We cite with enthusiastic SWNIDish approval this remark, quoted in the article, from Dick Stephens, an a capella brother ministering in Malawi, one country hit by such controversies, who provides what we think is decisive perspective:

All of this is going on while people are starving to death, babies are dying of malnutrition . . . villages are not hearing the gospel and Muslims are trying to make deep inroads in Africa.
We fail to believe that the Lord Jesus died for the sake of establishing a church that would even consider debating such matters as whether to use instruments or send money from a congregation to an organization.

It is, of course, sharply ironic that some who strive to uphold the heritage of Thomas and Alexander Campbell should perpetuate the very thing that spawned their rethinking of established ecclesiologies, i.e. the exportation (from Scotland to Northern Ireland and then to America, in the Campbells' experience) of unspeakably minor church controversies and the demand that exclusionary positions be taken by all on said controversies..

Saturday, October 14, 2006

And Don't Miss . . .

Peggy Noonan's column this week, which chronicles several recent incidents of leftists' bullying into silence the expression of views dissenting with the left, and which in closing asks the left to ask the question,

Why are we producing so many adherents who defy the old liberal virtues of free and open inquiry, free and open speech? Why are we producing so many bullies? And dim dullard ones, at that.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Strickland Warns of Blackwell's "65 Percent Solution"; SWNID Warns of Strickland's Slavish Devotion to Public Employee Unions

Yesterday's big news in Ohio's gubernatorial campaign was an event staged by Ted Strickland's handlers to bring the affable and vacuous Democrat together with fellow party members and representatives of teachers' unions to denounce Ken Blackwell's proposal that schools be directed to spend at least 65% of their budgets on classroom instruction.

All this, of course, is part of a very consistent elements of Strickland's campaign: the labeling of Ken Blackwell as a dangerous extremist. But more than that, it's a very consistent part of Strickland's politics: slavish devotion to the agenda of unions representing public employees.

Strickland, we undertand, has a 100% voting record with AFSCME, the major union of public employees who aren't teachers. Yesterday's event puts him in good stead, where he probably was already, with the AFT and NEA, the unions that stand for additional funding of the educational status quo in public schools. Restrictions like Blackwell's would stymie the career path of teachers looking to leave the classroom for the many administrative jobs created every year by the public education bureaucracy. The unions won't have that. So Strickland won't either.

At the risk of causing offense (like we care?), we will speak as an educator and administrator, albeit not in elementary and secondary education, but also as a consumer of elementary and secondary education. The idea that anyone would find onerous a requirement that less than two pennies out of three in a school's budget should go into actual instruction is to us breathtakingly absurd.

Education is about teaching. The longer we do it, the more we know it. That's why we refuse to quit teaching even though we administer. The suits need to be minimized; the teachers maximized.

But in that notion, there is something to fear, says Strickland, mouthpiece of the education trade union.

Fear Ken Blackwell, the extremist candidate who thinks that schools should spend almost two thirds of their money teaching!

Embrace Ted Strickland, the friend of the common AFT member, who will leave no public employee behind!

Price Hill Turnaround Near?

Price Hill, location of our Institution of Higher Education, has many current liabilities. But among its significant assets is the Price Hill Civic Club, a dedicated group of locals who band together to promote the general welfare.

Yesterday that meant giving Mayor Mallory a tour of "what's working" in Price Hill, namely:

  • razing vacant buildings
  • condemning and razing buildings that house nuisance tenants who produce lots of police runs
  • local businesses with commitment and vision that serve the community
  • surveillance cameras (Glenway Avenue will soon have thirty)

We vigorously applaud every such effort to improve this part of Our Fair City, as well as other parts. Keeping in mind the fundamental problem in Cincinnati of aged, substandard housing stock, we think that efforts like these can improve the quality of life for Cincinnati's citizens.

We'll go so far as to say that Price Hill is about to turn around. We concede that the turnaround may take awhile, like our lifetime plus ten years. But the fundamental factors that led to the neighborhood first being settled, i.e. its proximity to the central commerce and transportation center of the city, will make it resilient.

Insipid, Shrill and Bitter, Air America Now Bankrupt

It should come as no shock that Air America has filed for bankruptcy reorganization. The tone of programming was so uniformly awful, even repulsive, only the most dedicated liberals (yes, that's an oxymoron) could possibly listen.

Air America programming is everything that liberals think that conservative talk radio is, few of them having actually listened to conservative talk radio. Air America hosts are shrill and mean, dishing out ad hominems like M&Ms. Themes are utterly predictable and even more repetitive. The best conservatives manage to mix up some humor, much of it self-depreciating, and do cultural analysis along with politics. Air America is wall-to-wall screeds about the stupidity of President Chimpy W. Hitliar, Fascist Mastermind Dick Cheney, Evil Genius Karl Rove, and the end of constitutional freedoms.*

Most frustrating to us about Air America was the utter failure of Al Franken to manage a single funny moment. Franken once worked for the biggest comedy show on TV. Stuart Smalley, Franken's signature character, was amusing, back in the day. But if Franken was even grin-inducing once, it seems to have escaped the attention of all of America--Air, Ground, Water and Other Elements.

No, we didn't listen to Air America consistently. We lacked the fortitude. But many gentle readers would be surprised to know how many times we punched it up to give it a chance. And every time we found it had all the intellectual depth of a high school pep rally, but even less imagination and humor.

We believe that successful liberal talk radio is remotely possible. It will take something inventive enough to hook listeners of all persuasions, drawing not just conservatives from their own talkers but liberals from the rap and rock that presently numb their minds.

Maybe there's a funny liberal out there who can do it.

But we know this. Bill Maher, Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams and Al Franken need not apply. None have been funny for years.

Maybe Sacha Baron Cohen?

*We don't know how Air America hosts square the end of freedom with their ability to broadcast freely, even when losing mass amounts of money.

For This Effect, We Can't Pick the Cause

We've been waiting to see whether the buzz would grow about the revelation that Senate Minority Leader and aspiring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accidentally misreported or deliberately hid a major real estate deal in Vegas.

It hasn't. But the Foley scandal still has legs.

Why? Here are the possibilities:
  • Sex is more interesting than real estate.
  • Democrats are expected to be dishonest, so Reid's story isn't news; whereas Republicans are expected to be moral, so the Foley scandal is news.
  • The MSM desperately wants a Democrat Congress, or at least a competitive election.
We just can't decide.

Most Depressing Political News Since 1996: Warner Bows Out

Dimmed today were the prospects of our two-party system providing the body politic with a reasonable choice for Chief Executive in 2008. To wit: Mark Warner, the only moderate Democrat of electable stature, is dropping out of the presidential race.

Warner has been viewed as the most likely alternative to Hillary for the Dems. Now that mantle falls on the unlikely shoulders of Evan Bayh. Bayh has served terms as governor and senator in the Hoosier State (motto: the place you pass through between Ohio and Illinois). His primary electable characteristics have been good looks, an incoherent political philosophy that passes itself off as moderate pragmatism, and most importantly his magic surname inherited from his father, an Indiana senator of dubious reputation and accomplishment, but more importantly still from his mother, regarded by naive Hoosier voters as a secular saint for her loyalty to her philandering husband (sound familiar?) while undergoing treatment and ultimately succumbing to breast cancer.

Bayh will not play successfully on any national stage. Known in the Indianapolis legal community, amongst whom he practiced law before joining the family political business, as "Ken" to his wife's "Barbie," Bayh will be like John Edwards without the ideas (and if you're asking "what ideas?" about John Edwards, you get the idea).

So the Dems will either nominate Hillary or someone further to her left (and if you're asking if something to the left of Hillary is possible, you get the idea, but here you should shudder).

This almost certainly assures the republic of another Republican chief executive, unless the Rs make the mistake of nominating someone so closely identified with the Religious Right that he can be successfully tarred with the extremist brush. And since George Allen appears to have completed his self-destruction, that's likely not in the cards, if it ever was.

But SWNID, by all accounts a Republican sympathizer, does not rejoice in this outcome. The Rs desperately need the sharpening of their thinking and communication that comes from having nuanced opposition. That prospect evaporated today.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Step Toward John 17:21 Fulfillment to Be Taken Saturday

Cincinnati Christian University President, most recent North American Christian Convention Past President, and friend of SWNID David Faust will be participating in a "Contemporary Discussion" (translation: debate, but with niceness) at Freed-Hardeman University. His discussion partner (translation: debate opponent, but a nice one), will be Dr. D. Ralph Gilmore of FHU.

The topic of the discussion is “What Will It Take to Be ‘Together Again?’” Of course, the central issue is the use of instruments in worship. Dr. Gilmore expresses his desire for unity this way:

Although there are other differences in addition to the instrument, most would recognize that it is a major, if not the major, barrier. I would like for us to be able to worship together again and work together again. And I would like to think that, for the sake of unity, they (the Independent Christian Churches), would lay the instrument aside.

Gentle readers who would like to become gentle listeners for this occasion can do the streaming audio thing via the FHU web site. Discussion begins at 9 a.m. CDT (10 a.m. EDT, or 1400 GMT, for our global audience) on Saturday, October 14.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

If You Can't Trust a Communist Monomaniacal Dictator, Who Can You Trust?

The Washington Times (owner: Sun Myung Moon) is reporting leaked preliminary intelligence that the NoKo nuke may have been a no-go.

It takes a high-explosive charge to compress the critical mass of a nuke to make the fission. And the preliminaries suggest that the high explosives went off, but the nuke didn't. In other words, Kim's bomb may have been a dud, rather like his missiles.

It's hard to believe that Kim's command economy is having difficulty with quality control, let alone the honesty of its publicity. And who wants to trust a South Korean cult leader to report on a North Korean cult leader?

But it could be true. Just maybe.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Osama and Franco: Still Dead?

We remain intrigued that the Osama-died-of-typhoid rumor has had no clear affirmation or denial, particularly from Osama.

Could it be that the old man is dead? And that the Bushies know it? And that the Evil Genius Karl Rove is waiting to reveal it as his crowning October surprise (after having engineered the whole NoKo nuke thing to get Foley off the front page)?

No, no, it couldn't be. If Osama were dead, CNN would tell us.

Ohio Gov: Strickland Holds Shrinking Lead, Blackwell Needs to Tell His Story

Underreported this weekend is the Rasmussen poll that shows one third of Ted Strickland's lead over Ken Blackwell having evaporated in the same week that the Foley scandal threatened Republicans nationwide.

That's how you tell the story when you want Blackwell to win. If you like Strickland, you note that Strickland remains twelve points up in Rasmussen and well ahead in every other poll.

Nevertheless, in our SWNIDish opinion, Strickland is not the sure thing that many think. But he will be unless Blackwell starts campaigning smart. To wit: the requisite mudslinging (and wouldn't you like to get the fees commanded by that one nicotine-larynxed guy who does all the voice-overs for the political hit jobs?) needs to be accompanied by consistent, repeated telling of the Ken Blackwell ghetto-to-statehouse story.

Lincoln didn't win by saying that Douglas was "bad for America's working families." His people told his story as a poor boy who split rails, read by firelight, copied lessons with a charred stick on a shovel, and studied law when he discovered Blackwell's law text in an unclaimed barrel that he bought for salvage. (Note that they stopped there and didn't finish with his role as corporate counsel for the Illinois Central Railroad.)

Voters at present are likely dissatisfied with all available choices. At this stage, their commitments are plastic. Meanwhile, Blackwell has one fine story to tell. If enough people know it, they'll find it hard to vote against him. Who doesn't see the appeal in the hard-working black kid from Cincinnati's West End who goes to college on a football scholarship, marries his high school sweetheart, and rises through the ranks to run for the chance to be Ohio's first African-American governor?

In four weeks, Blackwell may be able to convince enough voters that he's that person, and not the devil who has stolen elections, connived with the corrupt Republican establishment, and will bankrupt Ohio on the way to more stolen elections and more corruption.

Eerie Political Coincidence

Blogger "Benny," a John Edwards acolyte (and we'd guess that more people know the meaning of "acolyte" than remember John Edwards), objects to our recent assertion that the only thing keeping John Edwards from being forgotten entirely is the inability of Kerry supporters to remove the bumper stickers from their Saabs and Volvos. In his words:

I guess the professor forgot that John Edwards was in Cincinnati not too long ago doing a minimum rally and to help do a private fundraiser for John Cranley, who is running for Congress.... I guess Seldom Wrong is wrong here.
Sorry, Benny, but you just proved our point. Who knew that Edwards was here? No one! Who cared? Even fewer! Minimum rally indeed! What if they gave a rally and no one came? What do you call such a rally? Absolute minimum rally.

But here's what's really weird. We compare this picture of Edwards at the Cranley event ...

... to this one of an acquaintance of SWNID.

Lay aside the shifty eyes and telltale red nose of the former, and allow for the extreme wholesomeness of the latter, and you've got identical cousins separated at birth. It's all much, much too close for comfort.

Kim's Nukes: Bad for the USA, Awful for China

The North Korean nuclear test (motto: "the story that will make them forget Mark Foley") is being spun as a diplomatic and military dilemma for the United States. And it is.

But it's worse, in our SWNIDish opinion, for China.

Here's why:

  • China used to be the only nuclear power in east Asia. Now there are two. Soon there will almost certainly be more, as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea will have to consider getting bombs in response.
  • North Korea is the exclusive ally of China. Japan, Taiwan and South Korea are loyal friends of the United States, not to mention shining examples of the benefits of capitalist democracy.
  • These developments will drastically alter the balance of power on the Pacific Rim against China for the foreseeable future, while in the long run strengthening the position of the democracies, led by the US.
  • If the Chinese try to shut down Kim and his boys (and any sanctions against the North Koreans will be as effective as China wants them to be), they'll have massive hordes of North Korean refugees in China. Worse for China, if North Korea collapses and is reunified with South Korea, the Chinese will face a stronger regional rival without a real ally in the region. So there's not much that they can do to change things.
This is, of course, also bad for North Korea (everything is, really). They're down to their last friend, and they just alienated that friend.

With all the sobering and frightening reality of nuclear proliferation, it's worth remembering that even nutcases like Kim have never had the nerve to risk nuclear retaliation. So while we'd prefer that he didn't have access to the technology, it can't, as Baroness Thatcher observed, be uninvented. He's got it, but that's worse for some governments than it is for the United States.

So what can the Chinese do? We wonder whether it lies within their grasp to foment a coup d'etat in Pyongyang, overthrow the nutcase Kim, and install a domesticated, pro-Chinese regime that will renounce nukes in exchange for a mutual defense pact with China.

Could this be why they put Jack Bauer on that freighter?

Ig Nobel Prizes: More Interesting Than Nobel Prizes

In this season of Nobel Prize announcements, we celebrate the recipients of the Ig Nobel awards. Given for research that "first makes people laugh, then makes them think," the Ig Nobels this year include research on why spaghetti breaks into multiple pieces, why dung beetles are really finicky eaters, and how high pitched sounds can be used to alert or repel teenagers with no effect whatsoever on adults.

Read about the Ig Nobels and be amazed at the breadth of human curiosity.

Light in the Darkness on College Admissions

Inside Higher Education (motto: "the cheekier, cheaper alternative to the Chronicle of Higher Education) is carrying a suitably cheeky and cheap article on the absurd state of elite college admissions. The author is Peter van Buskirk, a consultant and former admissions officer who, along with unsurprisingly touting his consulting services, makes some superbly trenchant remarks.

Here's one that applies to more than college admissions:

Rather, the frenzy that engulfs colleges and consumers alike is the product of a pervasive cultural phenomenon — a potent cocktail of social, emotional and behavioral ingredients that produces neurotic obsessions with having or being the “best.”

Indeed, ours has become a culture that values the best appliances, the best cars, the best vacations — and the best colleges, often at the expense of good values that would be more appropriate choices. And for each critical distinction we need to make, there is a consumer guide replete with research and rankings to make our jobs “easier.” In this instance, families are eager to buy what colleges are selling especially at colleges that hold the right amount of cachet. Much like a cultural virus, the frenzy associated with having or being the best has come to both transcend and permeate college campuses with tell-tale symptoms of paranoia and bold ambition.
And here's one that warms our SWNIDish heart:

Moreover, the propensity for focusing on top-tier colleges suggests that academic quality is reserved for a select few institutions (another of the fallacies that feeds the frenzy). Regrettably, a lot of the good and encouraging news of events taking place elsewhere in education fails to make the headlines. Educational success stories at colleges that lack cachet and innovations taking place at institutions outside of the limelight don’t seem to have the sex appeal to draw against the storied courtships involving the recruitment of students to elite institutions.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Unscientific Political Indicator Revealed

We hereby offer a word of caution about prognostications concerning the upcoming election. The basis of our warning is our use of a vitally important but wholly unscientific political indicator, one that we fancy is of our own making, though we are sure that someone else thought of it first.

We call it the Personal Political Endorsement Scale, or PPES. In sum, this scale measures the number of political yard signs, bumper stickers and buttons that voters display. Lots of these indicate lots of interest in the election. Few of these indicate little interest.

The SWNIDish neighborhood is considered a bellwether for Cincinnati politics, as its demographics match almost exactly those of the city as a whole. One generally sees signs and stickers for candidates of both parties at all levels in many yards and on many cars.

And we see virtually none these days. There's one yard in the neighborhood with a Blackwell sign (not the SWNID household, we are ashamed to say), and one with signs for the entire Democrat ticket (a house that always displays multiple signs for the Ds, and it's not the mayor's). Otherwise, there's nothing. "For sale" signs vastly outnumber political signs, and there aren't that many houses for sale, either.

We see the same around Our Fair City. Usually in Cincinnati, yard signs sprout like dandelions. But there are few to none compared to the typical crop. The same can be said for bumper stickers. There are more leftover 2004 stickers (the only thing preserving public memory of John Edwards, by the way) than current ones.

So the PPES is low. And low PPES means low interest in the election among voters.

And that's not surprising. First, the party in power looks tired and maybe a little creepy, but the party out of power looks incompetent. That hardly inspires voters. Then, advertising is so uniformly and predictably negative (thank you, McCain-Feingold, for cleaning up our campaigns), who but the rabidly committed would want to vote for either party's candidates?

So, remembering that 2004 had a remarkably high turnout, we predict a low turnout for 2006.

And that means that everything will depend on which side gets more of their folks out to vote.
The "ground war," as the professionals like to call it, will decide this one.

You heard it here first.

Three Must-Reads

Lilies don't need to be gilded. Certain essays don't need explanation or comment. Today we recommend three, with the briefest of tasty quotations:

Nobel laureate Milton Friedman succinctly updates the world on the economic lesson of Hong Kong and how it is prospectively being unlearned by the island's Chinese masters. From the gargantuan granddaddy of the free market: "The ultimate fate of China depends, I believe, on whether it continues to move in Hong Kong's direction faster than Hong Kong moves in China's.... [Hong Kong] provides a lasting model of good economic policy for others who wish to bring similar prosperity to their people."

Reagan and Bush 41 staffer Peggy Noonan reviews Bob Woodward's State of Denial and--to her own surprise--reviews it appreciatively. From the impeccable Ms. Noonan: "History is human."

The always necessary Charles Krauthammer lays to rest the debate about the leaked and released National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. His aphorism, which he humbly styles a truism: "During all wars we are by definition less safe -- and the surest way back to safety is victory."

The truth, as a strange character once said, is out there.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Americans Are Better Off Than They Were

We've had a bit of a discussion on this blog about whether incomes for most Americans are getting better, worse, or staying the same.

Today we defer on this subject to Bruce Bartlett at National Review Online. Bartlett notes that the most recent reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the percentage of American households with incomes below $25k/year (2005 dollars) has fallen to 27.1 from 27.6 in 2004 28.9 in 1995 (the glorious Clinton expansion), 30.5 in 1985 (the glorious Reagan expansion) and 33.1 percent in 1975 ("Memories of the Ford Administration" and Whip Inflation Now).

Meanwhile, households with annual incomes above $75k in 2005 dollars are at 28.3 percent in 2005, previously at 27.9 (2004 24.4 (1995) 20.2 (1985) and 14 (1975).

So what has made wages stagnate by other measures? The answer seems to be that a larger percentage of labor costs are devoted to benefits, especially health benefits.

And all of this does not account for the falling costs of many goods, especially those that utilize microelectronics or are produced with the same.

So Bartlett explains what this may mean politically:

In short, despite all the talk about the rich getting richer at the expense of the poor, the fact is that the percentage of households with low incomes has fallen and the percentage of those with high incomes has risen. This is perhaps the main reason why Democrats have had trouble getting traction on the income issue: There are fewer people in the income class to which they historically have directed their message. The more people there are in the $75,000-plus income category the more people there are who are receptive to the Republican message of low taxes.

And we say it's little wonder that Sherrod Brown's attempt to run on William Jennings Bryan-style economic populism isn't going very far. Even in blue-collar Ohio, there aren't enough people with declining standards of living to believe that Robin Hood economics are the way forward.

Foleygate Heats Up, But Who Turned on the Gas?

SWNID goes to church on Sunday mornings, so we never see the Sunday morning religious ritual of the political chattering classes, the Sunday AM interview shows. But we hear the post mortem of said shows, and it seems that yesterday they were all about whether the Rs had acted swiftly or surreptitiously when they learned about Rep. Foley's creepy emails to congressional pages.

As always, we'll weigh in with an opinion or two. Maybe three.

  • If Wheaton alum Dennis Hastert had information that clearly indicated Foley's inappropriate interest in congressional pages and didn't act on it immediately, then he and his associates haven't learned what it means to be a Republican (first, that you have to have higher standards than Ds, and second, that Ds force you to live up to those higher standards and will clobber you if you stumble). And if that proves to be the case, it will be time for a cleaning out of the Republican leadership in the House.

  • If this had happened to a Democrat, he would now be portrayed as a victim. We'd be told that the pages were over the legal age of consent, that the media and the Republicans were distorting what was going on, that the whole tone of discussion was homophobic and would encourage discrimination and hate crimes, that Rs were implying that all homosexuals are pedophiles and all pedophiles are homosexual, that Foley was being "outed," that the Rs are losing on policy so they're trying to make sex an issue again, that Foley and others only cruise for young men via email because the Rs create such a hostile atmosphere for homosexuals. It's worth remembering that Barney Frank (D-Cambridge, MA, including Harvard and MIT) remains a prominent member of the House Democratic Caucus sixteen years after he admitted using his influence as a congressman with the probation officer for one Stephen Gobie, a prostitute with whom Frank had consorted.

  • If it is true that left-wing organizations have had information about Foley for months and have been sitting on it to maximize impact on the November elections, it won't look good for either party's commitment to protecting America's young people.

Update: Hastert insists that the really damaging information, the IMs, weren't known to him or others in the Republican leadership. He's demanding an investigation of who knew what when and why they took so long to notify anyone and why the someone was ABC News. So this will now become another kabuki theater about a reporter not revealing sources.