Alex's Outlook

Monday, December 29, 2003

Rudy vs Hillary 2006

New York venture capitalist John Ellis reports that Rudy is preparing for the "Super Bowl of Senate races": a challenge to Hillary Clinton in 2006.

The word around New York is that our former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, has decided to challenge Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton when she seeks reelection in 2006 — a matchup we almost saw in 2002 before he withdrew for personal reasons. Giuliani won't confirm or deny it (as recently as Friday he told radio host Don Imus he hadn't made up his mind), but two well-placed GOP insiders say it's "basically a done deal."


For Giuliani, challenging Clinton is a necessary step if he hopes to be a national GOP player. He could, if he chose, run for governor in 2006, but that wouldn't do him much good on the national stage. He would still be a pro-gay, pro-choice "Rockefeller Republican."

But Senator Giuliani would be a different matter. He would have slain the dragon, and slaying the dragon would bestow upon him exalted status. Major points of difference with the GOP's core constituencies — like the sanctity of life (abortion) and the evolution of mankind (stem cell research) — would become much less disqualifying.

Rudy is taking a major risk. He could have challenged Sen. Schumer, and won without too strenuous an effort. Apparently he has set his sights higher. It's certainly true that beating Schumer wouldn't have done Rudy much good nationally, but taking on Hillary is a much bigger gamble - especially if Hillary ousts Daschle as Senate Minority Leader after Senate Democrats get decimated in 2004. On the other hand, he would be a shoo-in for the 2008 Republican presidential ticket if he took down Hillary, and Hillary would be eliminated from the national scene, much as NY Gov. Mario Cuomo's prospects were terminated after George Pataki defeated him in 1994.

Still, the Republicans already have a bumper crop of strong presidential nominees in 2008. They would be better served by a center-right replacement for Chuck Schumer than a risky challenge to Hillary, a significantly stronger incumbent; and Rudy's Senate career would only last two years even if he won a long-shot challenge.

Merry Christmas / Happy New Year's

Sorry for the light posting - I've been rather busy with the year-end holiday festivities. Cheers :)

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Hee Hee

One of my secret agents has found Howie Dean's Christmas list:

1. Bad U.S. economy.
2. Dead U.S. Soldiers.
3. Vermont is the size of Texas.
4. Jimmy Carter is King of the World.
5. A cool accent.
6. Popularity
7. Socialism
8. Communism
9. I could make up my mind on issues.
10. No wealthy people (except for me and the other democrats).
11. Tea with Kim Jong Il.
12. Tea with the Ayatollah.
13. France takes over America.
14. France takes over the world.
15. Al Gore would stop touching me

This Christmas has to be Dean's (and the Democrats') worst in decades. Libya's unilateral disarmament in the face of Saddam's capture proved a major vindication for the "neocon" foreign policy, just when Iraq was turning from a minor to a major liability for Bush. The economy is sizzling, and the Dow hovers around 10300. Dean has nothing to run on.

At this point Dean could have signed up with the War on Terror and rejected his neomarxist economics of "re-regulating the economy" and ratcheting taxes up for everybody. Then he would have lost respectably. Apparently he would rather lose spectacularly, and a lot of Democrats seem to have the same Dean-or-death attitude.

Hypothetical polls 10 months before an election and a month before the first primary are generally worthless, but it seems that with every bounce Bush gets with the general public, Dean gets an equal bounce with likely Democrat primary voters, as shown below (Dec. 17). The Iowa caucuses are barely a month away. If Dean wins Iowa and sweeps New Hampshire eight days later, he will have eliminated Kerry and Gephardt, leaving the woefully inept Wesley Clark as The Anti-Dean by default; but that will be more than outweighed by Dean's momentum from the early victories. Dean is the runaway favorite for the Democrat nomination.

Dean already seems to be looking into the future, towards the general election. Howard Dean (laughably) intends to embrace Jesus on the campaign trail to gain appeal among Southern voters. The move is typically arrogant and conceited; does Dean really think Southerners will take him as one of their own if he gives Jesus a prominent place in his campaign? (For that matter, would Southerners care what Dean's religion was so long as he continued to be a pro-gay, anti-gun, pro-choice Northeasterner?) With Dean's "Saddam's capture hasn't made us safer" whining (he's twisting himself into yet another semantic pretzel now that Kaddafi has surrendered his WMD), Dean will be lucky if he wins Minnesota in 2004, much less a single Southern state. (Including Florida.)

The GOP couldn't hope for a better gift than Howard Dean's nomination. Here's hoping.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Texas Chainsaw Gerrymander Survives

Because of gerrymandering, only about 38 House districts will be remotely competitive in this election cycle. Even so, with Republican control of the House hanging on a threadbare 229-206 majority, that still made for a somewhat competitive House of Representatives, especially since Democrats will probably gain at least two House seats this year in special elections. If the Republicans were cut down to a four- or five-vote majority, their control of the House would be significantly compromised; this year's Medicare bill wouldn't have passed the House with such a slender majority.

Now the Republicans have virtually guaranteed themselves control of the House until the next redistricting cycle in 2011. Tom DeLay's gerrymander of Texas, recently validated by the Justice Department, will be much more reflective of Texas' conservatism, and the Republicans will likely wipe out seven Democrats. Instead of a net loss of 2-3 House seats for 2004, then, the Republicans will probably pick up 4-5, more if Bush has massive coattails come November.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

British cops could get power to stop motorists at push of a button

From today's Guardian:
After speed cameras, road humps and mobile phone bans, there could be more bad news for Britain's motorists. Police are urging Ministers to give them the power to stop vehicles by remote control.
In what will be seen as yet another example of the in-creasing power of Big Brother, drivers face the prospect of their cars being halted by somebody pushing a button.

The police lobby is being led by Superintendent Jim Hammond of Sussex police, who chairs an Association of Chief Police Officers technology working group which is examining the idea.

The conventional wisdom in Europe is that GWB is rapidly curtailing civil liberties here. The somewhat unfortunately named Patriot Act, however, has done virtually nothing to erode American civil liberties; the sole civil-liberties-curtailing that I've seen in Patriot (giving the Justice Dept. the ability to check library records) has *never* been used. Ironically, it's in Europe that civil liberties are going to hell, and Britain, which today is completely controlled by Labour, has been the worst offender of all.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Coulter Skewers Kerry

It's been a while since I read Ann Coulter, but her sarcasm regarding liberals and the capture of Saddam seems particularly appropriate now, in light of Howard "The capture of Saddam has not made us safer" Dean's recent verbal gymnastics:

In a speech to the Pacific Council the day after Saddam was captured, Dean nearly choked on the words, "The capture of Saddam is a good thing," and then quickly added, "but the capture of Saddam has not made America safer." (Possible headline: "Dean Says Saddam's Capture Good Thing, Just Not Really Good Thing.") If George W. Bush announced that a cure for cancer had been discovered, Democrats would complain about unemployed laboratory rats.

On Fox News Sunday, Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., said of Saddam's capture: "This is a great opportunity for this president to get it right for the long term. And I hope he will be magnanimous, reach out to the U.N., to allies who've stood away from us."

It's as if he were reading my mind! After listening to all the bellyaching from European leftists for the past eight months, I think I speak for all Americans when I say I've been on tenterhooks waiting for the right opportunity to grovel to the French. And now we have it – a major win is the perfect opportunity! That Kerry has an uncanny sense for what the average American is thinking.

What was interesting about Kerry's suggestion was that it was the exact same suggestion liberals were making when they claimed the war was going badly. The day before Saddam's capture, the New York Times editorialized: "The way to deal with all that is going wrong in Iraq remains as clear as it was on the day that Mr. Bush declared an end to major combat operations. ... Instead of driving away France, Germany, Russia and Canada with financial sanctions, the president should be creating the room for compromise ..." Damn that Bush. He squandered the good will of a bunch of people who hate our guts.

Apparently, this is what liberals mean by "a plan":

Military setback: Appeal to the French.
Military victory: Appeal to the French.
Saddam captured: Appeal to the French.
Osama captured: Appeal to the French.
Osama catches Saddam: Appeal to the French.

In 24 months, Bush has perceptibly degraded terrorist operations throughout the world. The rebuilding in Iraq is going better than could possibly be expected. Liberals don't care. They just want to turn everything over to the French. (And, apparently, the recent capture of Saddam presents us with a golden opportunity to do so!) The Birchers were right about these people. They believe in world government more than they believe in the United States.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Dean pulls away from other Democrats in wake of Saddam's capture; Al Sharpton surpasses Edwards and Kerry both in national polling

  • Dean 23
  • Clark 10
  • Lieberman 10
  • Gephardt 6
  • Sharpton 5
  • Kerry 4
  • Edwards 2
  • Moseley-Braun 1
  • Kucinich 1

    Technically, Don't Know leads the field with 28% of likely primary voters.
    The capture of Saddam has had virtually no effect on the Democrat base.

  • Wizard of Oz = Populist Allegory

    I guess it isn't surprising that I should think of this now, as I am searching for excuses to not study for the BC calculus test which will take place 7.5 hours from now. But anyway, a couple of weeks ago I was dozing off in history class (we were studying the post-Reconstruction period - yawn) when my teacher advanced the thesis that the Wizard of Oz was a pro-Populist allegory. It was surprisingly convincing. I.e., the "wicked witch of the East" represents the rich tycoons from the eastern states, the other witch represents the farmers and miners of the west (the "good guys"), the Yellow Brick Road represents the march of Coxley's Army to DC, the poppy field represents the seductive lure of eastern money on the journey to the Emerald City, etc. I don't know enough about the story to give the other parallels, but everybody in the Wizard of Oz is supposed to represent a figure from the 1890's-1900's era, according to my teacher's argument. Supposedly The Wizard of Oz was written during that era. I thought it was an interesting idea, anyway.

    The Self-Destruction of the Liberals

    I have already hypothesized that the turn for the better in Iraq, which the Deaniacs have dreaded so much, will not derail Dean's steamroller towards the Democratic nomination. The superb blog Power Line agrees:
    The excellent blog Captain's Quarters follows up on my ruminations about whether Dean is Iraq-proof among Democrats. It concludes that Dean's tone-deaf comments about Saddam will not cause him to suffer much among Democrats, not because Dean is Iraq-proof, but because the passionate left hates Bush more than it hates Saddam. It then provides a characteristically insightful comparison of the left's demonization of Bush and the right's demonization of Clinton, noting that, in both instances, the hatred is hard to explain rationally since both presidents have governed essentially from the political center.

    I agree with some of what the Captain has to say about the parallels between the Bush haters and the Clinton haters (myself included). However, I don't think that Bush hatred provides the underlying explantion of the left's position on Iraq. As I tried to argue in my earlier post ("Other Things That Didn't Matter To Many Democrats"), liberal Democrats have been taking these sorts of positions since Bush was a Yale student and his father was a young Congressman. The reason why they do so, I believe, is a deep ambivalence about the exercise of American power and, for some, a deep ambivalance about America itself. The hatred for Bush stems, in signnificant part, from the same source. Bush personifies the unabashed exercise of American power. No amount of moderation, or indeed liberalism, on issues such as health care or education can overcome his stance on the more fundamental question of the meaning of America. In that sense, the left's hatred of Bush may not be all that irrational.

    The 25% of the electorate that shares Dean's views is taking the Democratic Party into a political abyss. Dean's numbers have at the very least stayed the same since Saddam's capture; maybe Gore's endorsement canceled out any blowback from Dean's recent "We are no safer with Saddam gone" antiwar speech, but Dean is still the runaway favorite for the Democrat nomination.

    I have no problem with the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" running off the 04 cliff like a tribe of lemmings, but for the sake of the two-party system I am glad thatthe more anti-idiotarian elements of the Democratic Party are biting back at Dean:

    Lieberman, the most fervent supporter of the war among the Democratic candidates, was especially harsh in his response to Dean's remarks. Calling Hussein a "homicidal maniac," "a brutal dictator" and "a supporter of terrorism," Lieberman said in a conference call with reporters that if Dean "truly believes that the capture of this evil man has not made America safer, then Howard Dean has put himself in his own spider hole of denial."

    He added: "I fear that the American people will wonder if they will be safer with him as president if Howard Dean cannot understand why the capture" of Hussein has made America safer.

    Lieberman has finally realized that only by distinguishing himself as part of the sane wing of the Democratic Party can he have a prayer of winning the nomination; he can't out-Dean Dean. I think it's too little, too late though; maybe if a more viable candidate like Edwards takes the gloves off, we could have a real liberal catfight on our hands.

    Tuesday, December 16, 2003

    Breaux retires; Daschle will face the fight of his life

    The Republican Party got a slew of good news in the last two days.
  • First, Bush's job-approval ratings got a 5-7 point boost from the capture of Saddam. Duh.

  • Secondly, Senator John Breaux, a popular moderate Democrat, is retiring from his Louisiana Senate seat in 2004. He is not giving up his seat so that the Democrat governor can appoint another Democrat to get a leg up for the 2004 campaign. Considering that a Republican has NEVER held either of Louisiana's Senate seats, it will probably be a slightly uphill campaign - unless Howard Dean gets the nomination and his coattails drag the Democrat down with him.

    The two possible Republican contenders for Breaux's seat are Bobby Jindal and David Vitter. Vitter is already in, and Bobby Jindal barely lost the race for governor a few weeks ago, thanks to a last-minute advertising barrage. Jindal has a lot of goodwill left from his gubernatorial race, but he did not gain a lot of white crossover Democrats that Louisiana Republicans normally get. A good argument could unfortunately be made that Jindal's skin color makes him significantly less electable, and cost him the gubernatorial race.

  • Finally, John Thune has announced that he is not running for Bill Janklow's House seat. Janklow was forced to resign after he was convicted of manslaughter while running a stop sign, and many people thought that John Thune, a very popular ex-Representative, would try to win Janklow's seat instead of a theoretically much tougher race against Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. However, the capture of Saddam has changed the equation for the better, and Bush will no doubt have significant coattails. SD routinely goes 60-40 for the Republican presidential nominee, and Thune will get some extra votes there, especially because Daschle has been the point man in Operation Obstruct GWB. It's now practically a sure thing that Thune will run against Daschle in 2004.

    With Iraq getting rosier every day, it may lead high-profile Republicans to enter races against other normally safe Democrats in red states, like Sens. Byron Dorgan, Harry Reid and Blanche Lincoln.

    Concerning the open Senate seats, the Republicans are favored for all of them, except (arguably) Louisiana. Oklahoma, Georgia and South Carolina will be pretty easy GOP wins; the Democrats may not even have a serious nominee for the Georgia race. North Carolina and Florida will be easy, too; Louisiana and South Dakota will be tossups. The Alaska Senate race was thought to be competitive, but I don't think it is anymore. Now if the GOP can just get a high-profile opponent to Nevadan Harry Reid and North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan...

    The GOP is looking at +5 Senate seats for 2004, in addition to a Bush landslide.

  • Sunday, December 14, 2003

    Now that Saddam's been captured... has to wonder if anything *isn't* breaking Bush's way. The economy seems poised for 4-5 percent growth this year and 5-6 percent in 2004. A major inspiration of the Iraqi resistance has been captured and humiliated. Al-Qaeda has been badly mauled. The WMD debate will fade into the background now, I think.

    I wonder what effect this will have on the Democratic primary contest. If the TradeSports futures market is any indication, Howard Dean is still the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination. Although Dean is not much more liberal than Clark, Gephardt, Kerry or Edwards, he is perceived as such, especially relative to Edwards - which will make him even easier to demolish ten and a half months from now.

    I can't picture Bush winning with less than 54 percent of the vote. It is desperately important that Bush campaigns with a crystal-clear agenda of tax reform, tort reform, Social Security privatization, and confirmation of all his judicial nominees, as well as maintaining an aggressive, unilateral-if-necessary foreign policy. It would be a disaster for Bush to lose his opportunity to gain a conservative mandate. The greatest blunder of Reagan's administration was campaigning with no agenda in 1984. He got his landslide, but no mandate. His second term was a sad reversal of his first, with several tax increases and an accelerating expansion of government. His drift to the center resulted in the collapse of the Republican Senate majority in 1986, loss of further congressional seats in 1988 and 1990, and the election of that liberal in moderate coat and tie, Bill Clinton, in 1992.

    A 2004 landslide without at least three additional Senate seats or a progressive conservative platform would be a colossal defeat for conservatives, because it would be a wasted opportunity. Conservatives do not want a repeat of 1972/1984.

    Saturday, December 13, 2003

    Strom Thurmond's Mixed-Race Daughter?

    Apparently segregationist-Democrat-turned-conservative-Republican Strom Thurmond fathered a mixed-race daughter more than three quarters of a century ago.
    A 78-year-old retired Los Angeles schoolteacher said she is breaking a lifetime of silence to announce that she is the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of former U.S. senator James Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), once the nation's leading segregationist. In an interview, the woman said that Thurmond privately acknowledged her as his daughter and provided financial support since 1941.

    Thursday, December 11, 2003


    Two years ago or thereabouts, Bush signed McCain-Feingold into law, even though he thought it was bad policy. He no doubt figured that the Supreme Court would strike down the law, or at least curb the outrageous free-speech restrictions within it. Wrong!

    Apparently child pornography is free speech, but criticizing a candidate 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election doesn't count as free speech.

    If there is any one reason to support the Republican Party, it's to gain control of the courts, because the courts are the effective lawmakers of 21st-century America. (It's true that O'Connor was a Reagan appointee, but the traditional conservatives will not tolerate another O'Connor or Souter ever again, and the Republican establishment can't afford to ignore them. The GOP base and establishment have both paid the price of nominating a "moderate.")

    Wednesday, December 10, 2003

    Conservatism of the 108th Congress

    Paul Weyrich, an ancient grass-roots conservative warrior, has a surprisingly positive take on the 108th Congress.
    In the past week or so I've done a half dozen interviews on the performance of Bill Frist in his first year as Majority Leader. No doubt I was called by major news organizations because their Google search revealed that when Frist was first elected I made some statements that were skeptical of his likely performance.

    I don't know if I'll get quoted this time because I told the reporters I have come to like and trust Frist. He has been the most effective Republican leader since Everett Dirksen, and I have known them all.

    Frist's "conservative highlights" of 2003 include:
  • The partial-birth abortion ban;
  • Defeat of contraceptive prescription-drug coverage in health care plans;
  • Defeat of a bill promising unfettered abortion access at military facilities;
  • A ban on human cloning;
  • Confirmation of 12 of 18 Circuit Court nominees, most of whom have "the same views as those being blocked";
  • The 39-hour judicial talkathon, which at least raised the issue of obstruction of judges; and
  • slashing taxes on capital gains and dividends.
    Congress also passed, fairly easily, free-trade treaties with Singapore and Chile. Not very big markets admittedly, but still a step in the right direction. Combined with Bush's retraction of steel tariffs, I think it's safe to say that free trade has regained dominance within the GOP.

    Frist has of course neglected to mention Congress' skyrocketing spending or the McCain-Feingold "campaign finance reform" act. But overall, the Republican Congress has taken a moderately conservative course in governing the country. The growing chasm between government revenue and government expenditure cannot be maintained; as the Republicans steel their current slender majorities, that gap will be bridged by, at the very least, more budget cuts than tax hikes. The Republican base will accept nothing less, and the Party can't do without its conservatives.

  • Tuesday, December 09, 2003

    Has the GOP Found a Government Program It Doesn't Like?
    WASHINGTON (AP) — Citing the improving economy, the Republican-controlled House decided Monday against extending federal unemployment benefits before Congress leaves for the year. Democrats said it would mean a joyless Christmas for tens of thousands of jobless Americans.
    "It's almost inconceivable to me that Republican leaders are poised to play the Grinch again," said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California.
    Surprising, is it not?

    WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 — Al Gore has decided to endorse Howard Dean for president, aides to the men said Monday, a move that rocked the Democratic presidential field and hastened Dr. Dean's evolution from a long-shot maverick to a leading candidate of the Democratic establishment.

    Mr. Gore will announce his endorsement of Dr. Dean on Tuesday at events in Harlem and in Iowa, Democrats close to both men said.

    It just can't get any better than this. Howard Dean is pretty much guaranteed the Democratic nomination now. Thus the Democrat standard-bearer will go into the general election with the following proposals:
    • To "re-regulate" the economy;
    • To raise taxes on the average American family by over $2,000 per family;
    • The complete absence of a foreign policy
    • Dean has also made some extremely impolitic remarks to the South, such as that the South should stop basing its vote on "abortion, guns, God and gays." Leaving aside the fact that those are the only issues besides government and taxes to vote for, Dean typifies the Yankee-Birkenstock-liberal arrogance that Southerners hate so much.

    Methinks Dean will win about 7 states - Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and Vermont for sure; California, NJ and Maine are maybes.

    Saturday, December 06, 2003

    It's Not Worth It
    "No one should find the need to take his marbles and go home just because of one issue (gay marriage). As one who has fought the dragons of leftist public policies for several years, I can attest to the old adage that 'there is strength in numbers.' The political left in our nation succeeds because they remain united around a core conviction - big government, while conservatives and libertarians splinter in the pursuit of ideological purity on every issue. This is insanity. Anyone who would question the dedication to conservative principles of David Horowitz and George Will, for example, because they offer a different perspective on the issue of gays, is out of his friggin' mind. And, I can't put it more eloquently than that."

    --Ward Connerly on gay marriage

    Mel Martinez to Quit HUD to Run for Senate
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush (news - web sites)'s housing and urban development secretary, Mel Martinez, will resign to enter a crowded primary race for a U.S. Senate seat in Florida, Republicans said on Friday.

    "He's definitely running," said a senior Republican strategist in Washington.

    Florida made a dramatic right turn in the 2002 midterm elections, when Jeb carried the governorship by 14 percentage points (57-43). I thought Bush was almost certain to carry Florida in 2004. Now, with Martinez alongside Bush's ticket, I think it's a sure thing; I also think the Republicans are guaranteed the Senate seat.

    Now all we need is for Louisiana Sen. Breaux to announce his retirement, and open the seat up for Bobby Jindal in 2004.

    Wednesday, December 03, 2003

    Sharia's European Renaissance

    Two counterterrorism experts, Lorenzo Vidino and Eric Stakelbeck, have something to say about the rise of Sharia law in Western Europe, and it is not encouraging:
    Young women killed for dating. Limbs amputated for petty theft. Makeshift courts deciding the fates of members of local Muslim communities. The Western world has grown accustomed to hearing about the brutalities of Islamic law. However, these primitive practices are no longer limited to the remote tribal areas of Pakistan, the backward kingdom of Saudi Arabia, or oppressive, mullah-dominated Iran. Today, thanks in large part to a massive flow of immigration from Muslim countries, sharia law and medieval customs are becoming increasingly common in the heart of Christian Europe...

    ...The effects of the application of sharia in Europe are not limited to Muslim women. Last year, in the small Italian town of Eboli, hospital workers treated a young Algerian man whose fingers on his right hand had been chopped off. Under questioning, the man refused to reveal how he had sustained his injuries, but investigators have no doubt that he was the victim of punishment carried out according to Islamic law. Authorities in southern Italy, where many migrants from North Africa flock to work in agriculture, are becoming accustomed to such incidents. A Sicilian doctor revealed to the Italian magazine Panorama that victims of violent sharia justice go to the hospital only as a last resort, "when the bleeding is serious." He added that he had become knowledgeable about how amputations must be made according to Islamic tradition (the hand has to be chopped off piece by piece, without breaking any bones).

    While these incidents may seem isolated, in actuality, several Muslim groups in Europe openly advocate the introduction of sharia in the West. Uneducated immigrants might use sharia simply because it is a system they are more familiar with, but militant Islamic organizations push for the introduction of Islamic law because they believe it is a superior system, the law revealed by God, and therefore the only acceptable law.

    In Germany, Milli Gorus, a militant Turkish Islamic organization with more than 200,000 members, is accused by German intelligence of promoting Islamic law among Turkish immigrants in Europe. The August 2001 issue of Milli Gorus's official publication, Milli Gazete, featured an article stating that "A religious Muslim is also at the same time an advocate for sharia. The state, the media, and the courts have no rights to interfere. The allegiance of a Muslim to sharia cannot be condemned or questioned...

    As the Muslim population in Europe continues its rapid political and demographic ascent, this will only get worse.

    Islam seems to be unique in that it has generally rebuffed the Western consumerist/materialist culture, even when totally immersed in it. Furthermore, on virtually every possible issue - women, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, etc. - Sharia's dictates are completely contrary to those of Western civilization. Sharia, despite allegations that it doesn't represent "true Islam," is well-grounded in Islamic theology, which is why so much of the Muslim world supports it.

    However, the growing cancer of traditionalistic Sunni Islam is unlikely to be stopped, at least as far as Europe is concerned. Europe's welfare states are dead in the water without Muslim immigrants, and Muslims are already too potent a voting bloc to be cut off.

    Tuesday, December 02, 2003

    Bush Job Approval Spikes

    Bush's job approval has jumped to 61 percent, according to the Annenberg Election survey.

    Bush's ratings on the economy are 50-48 positive, and dead even on Iraq. Seventy-two percent of Americans approve of Bush personally.

    The Decline of France

    The Weekly Standard's Christopher Caldwell has an extensive and detailed analysis of the collapse of France here:

    Today France has the highest youth unemployment in Europe, at 26 percent; only 37 percent of its over-55 population works, a world low. Its employment rate of 58 percent is at the bottom of the developed world. (The figure is 62 percent in the European Union and 75 percent in the United States.) And this grim employment picture is worsened--some would even say caused--by a political inequity. Over the past decade, public-sector employees have been able to enrich themselves in ways that private-sector ones cannot. Government employees can retire after 37.5 years on the job, versus 40 for private workers; they get 75 percent of their salary as a pension, versus 62 percent in the private sector; and the salary in this calculation is based on the best-paid six months for government workers, versus an average of their last 25 years for workers in private industry. So the latter wind up subsidizing the former.

    France's decline on the foreign-policy stage has the same root cause, Baverez thinks: a desperate, retrograde clutching at institutions that no longer serve their original purpose. Nostalgic for the bipolar confrontation of the Cold War--not just because it was stable but also because it provided a context in which France could leverage its international power--France is stuck in the 1960s.

    I think the article is applicable to Germany, Italy or any other Western European country, except maybe England. Europe faces a crushingly large public sector that has made leftist governments, including "centre-rightists" like Chirac, a permanent part of life. Europe's economies are averaging about 1% growth; England's pathetic 2.6% leads the Continent. Europe's people pay an average of 50% of their incomes in taxes, and their per-capita incomes average about 40% less. Finally, Europe's birth rate is about 1.35 children per woman, which means that the indigenous population is vanishing very fast. It's a devastating commentary on Europe's socialist-atheist culture.

    France is only the most visibly declining Western European country. All the other Continental countries face the same problems, and are going down the same path to population and financial oblivion.

    Kyoto is DEAD

    Russia says it will not ratify in its present form the Kyoto Protocol designed to mitigate global warming.
    "The Kyoto Protocol places significant limitations on the economic growth of Russia," presidential aide Andrei Illarionov has announced in Moscow.

    The landmark environmental pact cannot now enter into legal force, especially since the US has also repudiated it.

    It means the protocol will either have to be renegotiated or the nations that have signed will have to go it alone.

    The Russian decision will come as a devastating blow to many of the delegates at a meeting of the signatories to the United Nations Climate Change Convention, being held in Milan this week.

    Can you say 'ex-Protocol'?