Friday, September 26, 2008

McCain v Obama polling part 3

The current week being surveyed is September 22ndt through September 26th.

Gallup Tracking - 9/24 thru 9/26 - 2759 RV - McCain 44 - Obama 49
Hotline/FD Tracking - 9/24 thru 9/26 - 914 RV - McCain 43 - Obama 48
Rasmussen Tracking - 9/24 thru 9/26 - 3000 LV - McCain 44 - Obama 50
Fox News Poll - 9/22 thru 9/23 - 900 RV - McCain 39 - Obama 45
Marist Poll - 9/22 thru 9/23 - 689 LV - McCain 44 - Obama 49

Current average - McCain 42.80 - Obama 48.20 - Net + 5.40 Obama
Week 2 average - McCain 45.33 - Obama 47.33 - Net + 2.00 Obama
Week 1 average - McCain 46.50 - Obama 45.25 – Net + 1.25 McCain

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fouad Ajami writes of a Clash of Civilizations

In a January 2008 New York Times column, Fouad Ajami reverses himself somewhat regarding Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations
Those 19 young Arabs who struck America on 9/11 were to give Huntington more of history’s compliance than he could ever have imagined. He had written of a “youth bulge” unsettling Muslim societies, and young Arabs and Muslims were now the shock-troops of a new radicalism. Their rise had overwhelmed the order in their homelands and had spilled into non-Muslim societies along the borders between Muslims and other peoples. Islam had grown assertive and belligerent; the ideologies of Westernization that had dominated the histories of Turkey, Iran and the Arab world, as well as South Asia, had faded; “indigenization” had become the order of the day in societies whose nationalisms once sought to emulate the ways of the West.

Rather than Westernizing their societies, Islamic lands had developed a powerful consensus in favor of Islamizing modernity. There was no “universal civilization,” Huntington had observed; this was only the pretense of what he called “Davos culture,” consisting of a thin layer of technocrats and academics and businessmen who gather annually at that watering hole of the global elite in Switzerland.

In Huntington’s unsparing view, culture is underpinned and defined by power. The West had once been pre-eminent and militarily dominant, and the first generation of third-world nationalists had sought to fashion their world in the image of the West. But Western dominion had cracked, Huntington said. Demography best told the story: where more than 40 percent of the world population was “under the political control” of Western civilization in the year 1900, that share had declined to about 15 percent in 1990, and is set to come down to 10 percent by the year 2025. Conversely, Islam’s share had risen from 4 percent in 1900 to 13 percent in 1990, and could be as high as 19 percent by 2025.

It is not pretty at the frontiers between societies with dwindling populations — Western Europe being one example, Russia another — and those with young people making claims on the world. Huntington saw this gathering storm. Those young people of the densely populated North African states who have been risking all for a journey across the Strait of Gibraltar walk right out of his pages.

Shortly after the appearance of the article that seeded the book, Foreign Affairs magazine called upon a group of writers to respond to Huntington’s thesis. I was assigned the lead critique. I wrote my response with appreciation, but I wagered on modernization, on the system the West had put in place. “The things and ways that the West took to ‘the rest,’” I wrote, “have become the ways of the world. The secular idea, the state system and the balance of power, pop culture jumping tariff walls and barriers, the state as an instrument of welfare, all these have been internalized in the remotest places. We have stirred up the very storms into which we now ride.” I had questioned Huntington’s suggestion that civilizations could be found “whole and intact, watertight under an eternal sky.” Furrows, I observed, run across civilizations, and the modernist consensus would hold in places like India, Egypt and Turkey.
I still harbor doubts about whether the radical Islamists knocking at the gates of Europe, or assaulting it from within, are the bearers of a whole civilization. They flee the burning grounds of Islam, but carry the fire with them. They are “nowhere men,” children of the frontier between Islam and the West, belonging to neither. If anything, they are a testament to the failure of modern Islam to provide for its own and to hold the fidelities of the young.

More ominously perhaps, there ran through Huntington’s pages an anxiety about the will and the coherence of the West — openly stated at times, made by allusions throughout. The ramparts of the West are not carefully monitored and defended, Huntington feared. Islam will remain Islam, he worried, but it is “dubious” whether the West will remain true to itself and its mission. Clearly, commerce has not delivered us out of history’s passions, the World Wide Web has not cast aside blood and kin and faith. It is no fault of Samuel Huntington’s that we have not heeded his darker, and possibly truer, vision.

McCain v Obama polling part 2

The current week being surveyed is September 15th through September 19th.

Gallup Tracking - 9/16 thru 9/18 - 2726 RV - McCain 44 - Obama 49
Hotline/FD Tracking - 9/16 thru 9/18 - 915 RV - McCain 44 - Obama 45
Rasmussen Tracking - 9/16 thru 9/18 - 3000 LV - McCain 48 - Obama 48

Average - McCain 45.33 - Obama 47.33 - Net + 2.00 Obama

Last week's average - McCain 46.5 - Obama 45.25 - Net + 1.25 McCain

Change from last week - McCain (1.17) - Obama + 2.08 - Net + 3.25 Obama

Friday, September 12, 2008

McCain v Obama polling part 1

Each week, I plan to post the most recent polls of the McCain/Obama presidential race. I will post on Friday afternoons only those polls where the entire polling period falls in the current work week. In this case the current work week is September 8th through September 12th.

Newsweek - 9/10 thru 9/11 - 1038 RV - McCain 46 - Obama 46
Gallup Tracking - 9/9 thru 9/11 - 2726 RV - McCain 48 - Obama 45
Hotline/FD Tracking - 9/9 thru 9/11 - 913 RV - McCain 44 - Obama 45
Rasmussen Tracking - 9/9 thru 9/11 - 3000 LV - McCain 48 - Obama 45

Average - McCain 46.5 - Obama 45.25

* RV stands for Registered voters. LV stands for Likely voters. Polls of likely voters are often considered more accurate because they screen those polled as to how likely they are to vote in the election.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Economic Case for Tax Havens

Hat tip Kudlow's Money Politics.

Dan Mitchell makes the case for low tax nations.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The US Supreme Court. A reason to support McCain for President?

Many conservatives who are reluctantly supporting John McCain for president are doing so because they are worried about the ideological direction of the US Supreme Court under a President Obama. This is a very legitimate consideration. I will now explain why this consideration has not persauded me to support John McCain.

Will there be a US Supreme Court vacancy?

The following the are the current Justices of the US Supreme Court along with their respective age.

John Stevens - 88, Ruth Ginsberg - 75, Antonin Scalia - 72, Anthony Kennedy - 72, Stephen Breyer - 70, David Souter - 68, Clarence Thomas - 60, Samuel Alito - 58, John Roberts - age 53.

It is my expectation that if Obama is elected, no conservative justices (Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito and Roberts) will retire. But it is very possible that two of the liberal justices, Stevens and Ginsberg will retire. Conversely, if McCain is elected, it is my expection that no liberal justice will retire.

The reason is that most US Supreme Court Justices care about what direction the court will take once they leave. It explains why Sandra Day O'Conner did not retire during the Clinton administration but waited until George W. Bush was elected president. It also explains why Harry Blackmun and Byron White did not retire during the Reagan and Bush adminstrations (1981-1993) but retired when Clinton was president. Blackmun retired in 1993 and White retired in 1994.

Who controls the US Senate? The Democrats.

Currently the Democrats have a 51 to 49 seat majority in the US Senate. Therefore, they have a majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which handles nominations to the US Supreme Court and the US Court of Appeals.

Most political experts believe that the Democrats will gain anywhere from 3 to 7 US Senate seats this November. This would result in a Democrat Senate majority ranging from 54 - 46 to 58 - 42. In addition, not all Republican US Senators are strong conservatives. So not all of their votes can be counted on in the event of a confirmation battle.

Another important consideration is the fact that the Democrats have already tried out their filibuster strategy and it worked very successfully to prevent Bush's judicial nominations from being confirmed. McCain is on record supporting, in principle, the Democrat party's right to filibuster judicial nominees. This means that the Democrats need only 41 of their members, not 51, to defeat a judicial nominee.

It is highly unlikely that a President McCain will be able to convince a Democrat Senate to confirm a constitutionalist nominee.

McCain's views on issues before the US Supreme Court

McCain has been an advocate of ignoring the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution and of campaign finance reform, which severely restricts the ability of American citizens to participate in politics within 60 days of an election. The conservative members of the US Supreme Court believe that much of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation is unconstitutional.

McCain is an opponent of waterboarding and supported a law that would prohibit any treatment of terror suspects that would be considered "humiliating." The conservative members of the US Supreme Court do not see this conduct by the federal government as unconstitutional.

Also, consider a portion of my previous post where I mention that John McCain assisted the Democrats in the Democrats' effort to retain the right to filibuster Bush's judicial nominees. This leaves open the very real possibility that McCain does not really desire a US Supreme Court that is more conservative. It is very possible that he is only using this tried and true campaign line of "judges that interpret the law and do not invent law" as a means of getting votes from conservatives in a tight presidential contest with Barack Obama.

Looking ahead to 2012

If McCain wins the 2008 election, it is reasonable to believe that the Democrats will win the 2012 presidential election. This is because the Republican party has not held the White House for 4 consecutive terms since the 1896-1908 time period. The inevitable desire on the part of the American people for change is likely to result in a Democrat White House four years from now.

A very likely scenario is that there are no vacancies on the US Supreme Court during a four year McCain presidency. Conservative Justices would not retire out of concern that a replacement could not get a fair hearing from the Democrat Senate and, also, out of concern that McCain would appoint a moderate or liberal to replace him. Liberal Justices would not retire out of concern that McCain would appoint a conservative or moderate to replace him or her.

The a likely result is that there would be several US Supreme Court vacancies in the president term beginning in January 2013, when the Democrats would hold both the White House and the US Senate. Not only could the Democrats fill judicial seats occupied by older Liberal Justices with younger Liberal Justices. They might be able to fill judicial seats occupied by Conservative Justices with Liberal Justices. This is because of the advanced age of Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy, both currently 72 years old.


The US Supreme Court is a profoundly important institution as is the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution. Entrusting someone like John McCain, someone who has demonstrated in his Senate career a complete disregard for the intentions of the 1st Amendment, to maintain or expand on the conservatism of the US Surpeme Court is a huge gamble that conservatives will likely lose.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Why I will not be voting for John McCain

There are two main reasons why I will not be voting for John McCain for President in this November's election: (1) John McCain's demonstrated willingness to assist the left wing of the Democrat party on important issues and (2) the fact that, given America's decentralized electoral system, America will not likely move to the right until a Democrat is elected President of the United States.

First, let's look at John McCain's record of assisting the Democrats on important issues.

The 2001 and 2003 Bush Tax Cuts

In the spring of 2001 George W. Bush was in his first year as President and he had just inherited a recession from President Bill Clinton. The tax cut proposal that Bush had campaigned on became all the more necessary due to the sagging economy. Among the 50 Republican US Senators, nearly all of them supported the Bush tax cuts. Most of the Democrat US Senators opposed the Bush tax cuts, partly for ideological reasons and partly for tactical reasons.

The Democrats generally support redistribution of wealth and, thus, oppose tax reduction. In addition, given that Bush's main purpose in proposign tax cuts would be to get the economy out of recession and to create economic growth, most Democrats believed that this would work to their political disadvantage. A weak economy under a Republican president would be more political advantageous for the Democrats than a strong economy.

So, most Republican US Senators supported the Bush tax cuts and most Democrat US Senators opposed the Bush tax cuts. What was John McCain's opinion of the 2001 Bush tax cuts? McCain opposed the 2001 Bush tax cuts using rhetoric nearly identical to that of Massachusetts US Senator Ted Kennedy
"I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle-class Americans who need tax relief." --- John McCain June 9, 2001
During the 2008 Republican primaries, McCain stated that he opposed the 2001 Bush tax cuts because they did not include spending restraint. But a look at the record shows that this is misleading.
Senator McCain not only voted against the Bush tax cuts, he joined leading liberal senators in offering and voting for amendments designed to undermine them. All in all, Senator McCain voted on the pro-tax side of 14 such amendments in 2001 and 2003. These included such odious measures as:

An amendment sponsored by Senator John D. Rockefeller (D-WV) to prohibit a reduction in the top tax rate until Congress enacted legislation to provide a prescription drug benefit.

An amendment sponsored by Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) against full repeal of the Death Tax.

This vote is in keeping with Senator McCain's 2002 vote against repealing the Death Tax.

An amendment sponsored by Tom Daschle (D-SD) and co-sponsored by Senator McCain to limit tax reduction in the top tax bracket to one percentage point.
McCain was only one of two Republican Senators to vote against the 2001 Bush tax cuts and one of only three Republican Senators to vote against the 2003 Bush tax cuts.

The Democrats' Filibusters of Bush's Judicial Nominess

In McCain's acceptance speech at the Republican convention last Thursday, McCain said that he supports judges who objectively interpret the law and do not legislate. But it's important to look at McCain's behavior during the Clinton and Bush administrations to see whether McCain's recent words really match up to his intentions.

Like most US Senators at the time, McCain voted for Clinton's US Supreme Court nominees Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 1993 and Stephen Breyer in 1994. At no time during the Clinton administraton did McCain vote to prevent any of Clinton's judicial nominees from receiving a confirmation vote.

When the Democrats took over the US Senate in May of 2001 during George W. Bush's first year in office, Bush began having trouble getting his judicial nominees confirmed as the Democrat controlled Senate judiciary committee often refused to even hold confirmation hearings for Bush's judicial nominees. In the November 2002 elections, however, the Republicans gained a net of 2 US Senate seats and obtained a majority of the US Senate and, thus, obtained majority control over the Senate judiciary committee. It looked like Bush's judicial nominees would have a chance to get confirmed to the US Court of Appeals.

That's when the Democrats began using the Senate's 60 vote cloture rule to prevent Bush's judicial nominees from receiving a vote. This had not been done when the Republicans were a minority in the US Senate during the Clinton administration from 1993 to 1994. Many Republicans Senators protested against the Democrat minority's use of the Senate's 60 vote cloture rule to prevent Bush's judicial nominees from receiving a vote. But John McCain was not one of them. In total, the Democrats successfully prevented 10 of Bush's nominees to the federal court of appeals from receiving a confirmation vote.

In the November 2004 elections the Republicans gained a net of 4 US Senate seats, a 55 to 45 seat majority while President Bush was reelected in his race against Democrat John Kerry. The Republican Senate leadership indicated that they would use a parliamentary vote, often referred to as "the nuclear option," to bypass the Senate's 60 vote cloture rule if the Democrats continued to prevent Bush's judicial nominees from receiving a vote.

Most Republican US Senators vocally supported their leadership, President Bush and Vice President Cheney in their determination to allow Bush's judicial nominees to receive a confirmation vote. That's when John McCain became the first Republican US Senator to announce that he would vote with the Democrats on the issue of the filibusters on Bush's judicial nominees. Here's an excerpt from McCain's interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball program on April 14, 2005.
MATTHEWS: But bottom line, would you vote for what’s called the “nuclear option,” to get rid of the filibuster rule on judgeships?

MCCAIN: No, I will not.

MATTHEWS: You will stick with the party?

MCCAIN: No, I will vote against the nuclear option.

MATTHEWS: You will vote—

MCCAIN: Against the nuclear option.

MATTHEWS: Oh, you will?


MATTHEWS: So you will vote with the Democrats?

MCCAIN: Yes, because I think we have got to sit down and work this thing out. Look, we won’t always be on the majority. I say to my conservative friends, some day there will be a liberal Democrat president and a liberal Democrat Congress. Why? Because history shows it goes back and forth. I don’t know if it’s a hundred years from now, but it will happen. And do we want a bunch of liberal judges approved by the Senate of the United States with 51 votes if the Democrats are in the majority?
McCain's argument that "some day there will be a liberal Democrat president and a liberal Democrat Congress" and that, therefore, Republicans should want to preserve the option of the judicial filibuster was made by McCain knowing that most MSNBC viewers were unaware that McCain voted for US Supreme Court nominee Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer. Ruth Bader Ginsberg was an ACLU General Council who supported Co-ed prisons and lowering the age of sexual consent to age 12. McCain not only didn't attempt to filibuster any of Clinton's judicial nominees, he voted for many of them even if they were extreme Left-Wingers. But when Democrats filibustered Bush's judicial nominees, McCain announced that he would vote with the Democrats to allow them to continue their obstructionist behavior.

America's electoral system and the perverse effect of electing a Democrat President

President Clinton takes more credit for the 1996 Welfare Reform than he should. But it is also true that Welfare Reform would probably not have occurred if President George Herbert Walker Bush had defeated Bill Clinton in 1992. Why? Because the political party that holds the White House usually loses Congressional seats in mid-term elections. The 1994 mid-term congressional election represented an example of this, as did the 2006 mid-term congressional elections. Bill Clinton, a Democrat, was president in November 1994 and the Republicans ended up winning both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years. This would not likely have happened had President George Herbert Walker Bush prevailed over Governor Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential election. The Republican Congress elected in 1994 would pass welfare reform in 1996. President Clinton reluctantly signed the welfare reform legislation.

If one is dissatisfied with a US House of Representatives led by Democrat Nancy Pelosi and a US Senate led by Democrat Harry Reid, the quickest way to remove the Democrats from their majority status in Congress is to elect a Democrat president. Again, this is because of the perverse nature of America's decentralized electoral system. The American people tend to view the party of the President, not the party that holds a majority in Congress, as responsible for what is happening in the country even though Congress arguably has as much or more power over the direction of the country. That's why it shouldn't be surprising that the Democrats regained control over Congress not during the Clinton administration, but during the George W. Bush administration.

If this country is to be turned around, the Democrats must be removed from their majority status in Congress. For that to happen, the Democrats must first win the White House.