Man Without Qualities


Saturday, November 09, 2002


But Are The Senate Democrats Silly Enough To Give It To Him?

Daschle runs again. Daschle said he is confident he will run unopposed.

Daschle said that Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, rumored to be a potential challenger for Senate minority leader, told him that he would not run against him.


And John Fund was just on MSNBC ( a replay from November 6) saying that McAuliffe is going nowhere despite his huge errors that probably cost the Democrats the election because McAuliffe is Bill and Hillary's man, and they are essentially the only really effective fundraisers the Democrats have.

It's Bill and Hillary who lost the Democrats control of Congress in 1994. Bill ran for President in 1996 by "triangulating" against the Congressional Democrats (and Republicans). Then in 1998 Republican excess in responding to Bill Clinton's personal excesses with Monica Lewinski cost them seats - but the Democrats were still forced by Bill Clinton to sully and compromise themselves in defending their President. That sullying and compromise eventually contributed seriously to Al Gore's failure to win the White House or the Democrats to make serious gains in the Congress in 2000 - despite peace and what then looked like a good economy. And now it's Bill and Hillary (through McAuliffe) who lost the Democrats control of Senate in 2002. Since he entered the national scene, Bill Clinton has been like an insouciant heir who dissipates the family fortune in a decade, especially the portion of the Democrat family fortune in Congressional hands.

If Mr. Fund is right, then, once again, the Clintons control equals Democrat - especially Congressional Democrat - disaster. But the Democrats just can't say no, like an abused spouse - in Mr. Fund's words.

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UPDATE: Discouraged ... Or Just Smart and Thoughtful?

There is increasing evidence supporting MWQ's suspicion that, with an assist from a Republican President who finally seems to understand how to reach out to them, minority voters are outsmarting the Democrats who are attempting to manipulate them with outdated racial cant. The CNN article linked above, for example, notes: A recent Joint Center poll found that younger black adults are increasingly more politically independent and less likely to identify themselves as members of the Democratic Party. Some political observers say the real issue Tuesday may have been low black voter turnout, which helped Republicans in key Southern states.
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W[h]ither Big Mo?

Since the November election Maureen Dowd has scribed two columns, for November 6 and 10, neither of which offers a peep about the Election Day triumph of the man and President she has dubbed the "Boy Emperor." (Get it? She "dubbed" Dubya?! It's like the fancy word play Big Mo gins out, huh? I should also get a Pulitzer for this, just like Big Mo did!) And before the elections, Big Mo just could not bring herself to write a column that didn't revolve one way or the other on what Republicans were doing or thinking, especially Mr. Bush and his Administration. Sheesh, back then, Big Mo even saw the sniper terrorizing the Washington, DC, area, as an opportunity to discuss various attempts to turn events to political advantage.

Not now. Now Big Mo is busy, busy, busy providing asinine, credulous cover for nutty Saudi politicos! Sample: [The minister of education, Mohammed Ahmed Rasheed and half a dozen deputies,]were defensive about American suspicion of the religious hard-liners' influence on boys' schooling. "Why don't you go to Israeli math textbooks and see what they're saying — `If you kill 10 Arabs one day and 12 the next day, what would be the total?' " demanded one deputy. Agreed another: "If 5 or 8 percent of our curriculum has to be changed, then 80 to 90 percent of the content of American media has to be changed." Big Mo - she who drips acid commentary whenever Secretary Rumsfeld speaks, even if he speaks only obvious truth - expresses no skepticism about the statements of these dorks.

But the daring Big Mo loses no time in reducing Saudi society to terms she really understands: "Saudi Arabia has some remarkable women, but you won't find them helping to run the country; the toilet seats at the Foreign Ministry are routinely left up." Yes, indeed. The implied observation is that the Saudis don't have sexually segregated washrooms at the Foreign Ministry the way we do in the United States. Or did those nasty men make Big Mo use the men's room? Please, Big Mo, give us the essential details! She even writes, in her sole reference to a Republican in this column: I missed John Ashcroft desperately. Sad.

Presumably the deployment of Saudi toilets can hold Big Mo's attention for only so long, and she will eventually return to her love of American politics. Then she can fill us in on how November 5 never really happened, or how it was all the result of some "testosterone drenched delusion" or some other Big-Mo-trademarked type observations.

Until then, her most recent columns suggest that she obtained an extra large prescription of Prozac or the like before fleeing TOO the Middle East. Now that's someone who's taking this election hard.

Really hard.




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Georgia Switches

The Man Without Qualities is no fan of Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords.

But it is important to keep him in perspective.

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Friday, November 08, 2002


Nancy Pelosi

"I can give you the pluses; she is an articulate, attractive, intelligent person. And I think having a woman as a spokesman for either party is good," Mr. Weber said. "But that's where the pluses end."

Mr. Weber is too foregiving.

UPDATE: The Minuteman explains.
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We All Agree.... Don't We?

Arnold Kling, an economist, writes:

"Economists agree on many things. We are all for free trade. We are all more persuaded by Bjorn Lomborg than by Edward O. Wilson. We all believe that government support for scientific research helps the economy. We all support Lawrence Lessig in his attempt to overturn copyright extension (the Sonny Bono Act)."

The Man Without Qualities finds this statement more than passing strange.

It's not that MWQ isn't in favor of free trade. But Laura Tyson, who eventually served as chairperson of the President's Council of Economic Advisers under President Clinton, argued in her incorrect, highly influential and dangerously wrongheaded book, "Who is bashing whom?" , for a conscious policy of government aid to encourage US high tech industries. She asserted in that book that free trade was just a text-book myth and that it was meaningful that most of the world had gone over to a regime of "managed trade". She advocated forcefully government support to US-based and US-owned high tech industry. There is no doubt that Ms. Tyson is an economist of high credentials who does not favor free trade - at least in the full sense, and MWQ believes in any meaningful sense. It is simply absurd to write that all economists "are all for free trade."

And it's not that MWQ doesn't like Bjorn, for example. In fact, MWQ finds Bjorn - properly construed - highly persuasive. And I have said so. But Mr. Kling's assertion, as written, is simply preposterous. The category of people legitimately calling themselves "economists" - even "academic economists" - includes many of Bjorn Lomborg's most vicious critics. MWQ finds it hard to understand how a man of Mr. Kling's sophistication could write that economists "are all more persuaded by Bjorn Lomborg than by Edward O. Wilson." In fact, my personal experience is that most academic economists are essentially mediocre, liberal hacks, and it is hard to believe Wilson wouldn't win a vote of at least those economists in a landslide.

Do all economists believe that "government support for scientific research helps the economy?" Really? Even among the libertarians in the bunch? But, more generally, government sponsored research diverts - or at least deploys - some of the most valuable and scarce human capital any modern country possesses. Are we to believe that there is no substantial controversy among economists over whether it is efficient or otherwise beneficial to the society for deployment of such resources to be handled by the government? That's absurd on its face.

As to the curious - even bizarre - assertion that all economists "support Lawrence Lessig in his attempt to overturn copyright extension (the Sonny Bono Act)," it is worth noting that if this assertion is true it says more about the political structure of the country's population of economists than about the current state of economics. But are we to believe that no economists serve as consultants to the advocates of the Sonny Bono Act? Of course, after reading the "Economists Brief" filed by some very august economics worthies with the Supreme Court, one is almost compelled to note that Mr. Kling does not say here that all economists "support Lawrence Lessig" on the basis of any strong economics argument - since the economics in that brief is weak and highly incomplete, at best. Professor Lessig may just be a charming guy.

ARNOLD KLING REPLIES:

Musil says that Laura Tyson argued against free trade, so I can't say that economists are for free trade. Well, polls show that over 95 percent of economists are for free trade. And even Ms. Tyson seems to be proud of the pro-trade policies of the Clinton Administration in which she served.

He says that economists do not all support Bjorn Lomborg, citing one John Quiggin from Australia. Well, I take back the word 'all' and say instead 'all economists for whom I have respect,' or somesuch.

Musil says that he thinks the government should not support scientific research. He is entitled to his opinion, but if you were to take a survey of economists, I'll bet that you would find that over 90 percent think that the government should support scientific research. It is as classic a public good as national defense.

Musil thinks that the argument that economists make against the Sonny Bono act is weak. I find it compelling. The present discounted value to the creator of an extension of copyright from 50 to 75 years is close to zero. Therefore, the act does nothing to stimulate creativity. Makes sense to me. Sorry that Musil does not care for it.


MWQ RESPONSE TO ARNOLD KLING: Mr. Kling is a highly intelligent and gifted observer of economics, but in attempting to speak for the economics profession as a whole he errs in ways virtually anybody possessed of such a hubris would err.

Laura Tyson is now a professor at the Haas business school at the University of California at Berkeley on leave as Dean of the London Business School. She was previously at Princeton and, of course, sat as Chair of the President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors (1993-95) and Chair of the National Economic Council (1995-97). She is quite articulate and has spoken firmly against free trade. Mr. Kling's statement that she is "proud" of her free market accomplishments demeans her through second-guessing: Her book speaks for itself. She is by no means an isolated voice. Indeed, her book and thinking have both had broad and pernicious influence in academia and government. She is definitely part of the "economics mainstream."

As for the reception of the economics profession to Bjorn Lomborg, it is not difficult to locate many economists who seriously oppose Bjorn Lomborg's thesis. Mr. Kling dismisses my example of John Quiggin as just "one Australian." But the reason I cite to Mr. Quiggin is that his writings collect the anti-Lomborg views of many other economists, especially views on the Kyoto Protocol:

Experienced debaters rarely commit themselves to an unambiguously false statement. So I was surprised to read Bjorn Lomborg's claim that 'the results of all major cost-benefit analyses show that doing Kyoto or something even grander is simply a bad investment for the world'. There are plenty of examples to prove him wrong.

Among the many economists whose work supports Kyoto is Jeffrey Frankel, a member of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Clinton. Frankel is cited by Lomborg for his work on economic growth, but his work on climate change is ignored. According to the modelling reported by Frankel, the costs of Kyoto would be about 0.1 per cent of GDP for developed countries. This is far below the range of $150 billion to $350 billion (0.6 to 1.5 per cent of GDP) cited by Lomborg.

Frankel is not alone. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cites a range of model estimates of the costs of implementing Kyoto using market mechanisms. They show that, with a global system of emission rights trading, the cost of implementing Kyoto would range from 0.1 per cent to 0.2 per cent of GDP.

Lomborg dismisses global emissions trading as politically infeasible because it would involve the redistribution of billions of dollars to developing countries (page 305). But then he turns around and attacks alternative ways of implementing Kyoto by suggesting that the billions required could be better spent - by redistributing them to developing countries.

To put the cost estimates in context, 0.1 per cent of Australian GDP is about $600 million per year. The economic benefits generated by the Great Barrier Reef alone are more than this, but, like reefs around the world, it is already being affected by bleaching arising from rising water temperatures. Interestingly, Lomborg promises to refute the claim that 'coral reefs are dying', but this issue is not mentioned in the chapter on global warming or, as far as I can see, anywhere else in the book.

Other economists argue that the benefits of doing 'something even grander' will exceed the costs. A recent paper entitled Climate Change:An Agenda for Global Collective Action, proposes a modified version of Kyoto which could achieve greater reductions in emissions while overcoming some political objections. One of the authors is Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the 2001 Nobel prize. Other notable supporters of action to mitigate global warming include Kenneth Arrow, William Cline and Paul Krugman. Lomborg gives 16 references to his preferred expert, William Nordhaus, but omits all these eminent economists.


Further, as the Anti-Lomborg Sitereports: "The Danish Ecological Council felt a more thorough response to Lomborg's book was needed. They therefore gathered a group of twelve Danish scientists - from science as well as economics and social science - publishing a critique (in Danish) in 1999. As of end June 2002, there is an English version of their work available. They are kindly making it freely downloadable from their website."

That anti-Lomborg book includes a very pretty picture of a cloud-laced blue sky as its first page and a chapter entitled "The World’s Future According to Dr Pangloss" by Hans Aage, Professor of economics. Additional examples of anti-Lomborg economists may be found here and here and here,, but the list could be greatly extended.

But one doesn't need first to do a search for anti-Lomborg economists to strongly suspect that they are probably out there in droves. As one commentator put it: The environmental movement does not defend "science," as editor Rennie would have it. Rather, it uses science as a weapon to advance the cause, as Charles T. Rubin put it in his Weekly Standard review. Most academic economists move in the comfortable, insultated, liberal world of academic communities - places in which the Kyoto Protocol normally commands much more respect than, say, the writings of Moses or Saint Paul. Even before doing a search, why would one presume that there are no (or almost no) "green" economists from such communities who are either convinced that Kyoto is good for the world, or willing to use their expertise to cobble together arguments supporting it? To see how far academic economists are willing to go in discarding the basic tenets of their profession to support a political end, it is worth remembering that during the Clinton administration an apparently sane full professor of the Princeton economics department published a study purporting to show that if the minimum wage (i.e. price of labor) were increased, then employment (demand for labor at the increased price) would also rise – AND THIS PREPOSTEROUS AND FRAUDULENT STUDY WAS NOT HOOTED DOWN BY THE ECONOMICS PROFESSION, although it was eventually discredited.

As to government-funded scientific research, I would find it remarkable if economists universally agree - or agree without substantial dissent - that government funded research is a "public good" regardless of the nature of that research and regardless of what resources (including human resources) are diverted from other sources. Do "all economists" agree that "all or almost all" government funded research in the old Soviet Union was a public good? The government is generally a highly sub-optimal agent of determining resource deployment - that's why "industrial policy" is a bad idea and contrary to basic principle of "free trade," which Mr. Kling thinks "all or almost all" economists support. Apparently it's a profession not troubled by internal intellectual consistency. One could assume the problems away by just concentrating on research that should be funded but which the private sector won't fund, for whatever reason. But that solves no interesting problem. [As an aside, the obvious untruth of Mr. Kling's assertion that "Musil says that he thinks the government should not support scientific research" is there for any reader to determine. What is at issue here is whether there is dissent in the economics profession over this issue, not whether MWQ believes the government should fund research.]

I have posted extensively on Professor Lessig's effort to overturn the Sonny Bono Act, and I will not say much more here. However, I will note that even Professor Lessig has withdrawn his argument that Congress cannot Constitutionally extend the copyright term prospectively from "life + 50" to "life + 70" - conceding that such a decision is not for the Supreme Court to make. (Professor Lessig's brief to the Supreme Court states at page 14:Nor do petitioners argue ... that “50 years are enough to ‘promote . . . Progress,’ . . . [but] a grant of 70 years is unconstitutional. Whether 50 years is enough, or 70 years too much, is not a judgment meet for this Court. ) But Mr. Kling's argument - and that of the Economists Brief - goes right over this cliff.

Mr. Kling is certainly entitled to replace his references to "all economists" with "all economists I respect" or the like (although my guess is that his e-mail from economists rather disinclines him to that move). But that would very much change the content of his assertion. Referring to the opinions only of those one respects can come dangerously close to a roundabout way of saying “I think.” It is quite easy to find near-unanimity in any population - even economists - if one treats it like a cocktail party at which one speaks only to one's friends.

I also note my complete disapproval of Mr. Kling’s reference to polls and percentages, which I do not believe are appropriate measures of the existence of substantial dissent in the economics profession. It is, after all, a profession based on ideas – not a mobocracy. Indeed, just prior to the rapid ascendancy of the Chicago School one probably could have determined by a poll that “all or almost all” economists were Keynesians – as Richard Nixon famously remarked. Does that mean that the little band on the Midway, many of whom have since been awarded Nobel Prizes for work done at or before that time, didn’t then constitute significant dissent?
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Ms. Pelosi, Meet Messrs. Kinnock and Foot

After it's first defeat at the hands of Mrs. Thatcher, the British Labour Party went through several rounds of - and several leaders - insisting that Labour's problem was that it had not distinguished itself enough from the Tories. The proffered solution was a move to the left. Messrs. Kinnock and Foot set about to accomplish the move, and they succeeded - Labour moved smartly left.

Labour also moved into ever more serious electoral defeats until its remains were salvaged by Tony Blair, playing largely from a book written by Bill Clinton. Rank and file Labour members have largely despised Mr. Blair from the beginning of his ascendency, but they live with him because he has shown that he can win.

The House Democrats have now chosen their own version of Kinnock and Foot in the form of Nancy Pelosi - a literal San Francisco Democrat. It is some measure of how big a step Ms. Pelosi's selection represents that not so long ago when the Democratic Leasership Council held greater sway, the term "San Francisco Democrat" was widely treated as a near synomym for "loser." Indeed, Bill Clinton's success in 1992 was largely attributed to his success in convincing the Democrat interest groups so forcefully represented by Ms. Pelosi to stay out of sight until after his election. At that point, those interest groups quickly emerged and the Clinton Administration attempted to deleiver to some extent. The results were chaos and political disasters culminating in the 1994 loss of the House by the Democrats, a loss that has continued ever since.

The pace of politics in the United States is generally faster than that in Britain - and my guess is that Ms. Pelosi is an evolutionary experiment that will quickly go the way of most adverse mutations. It is odd, for example, that the House Democrats have chosen as their leader a person from a state whose electoral returns were not consistent with the Republican surge seen in the rest of the country. Most likely, Ms. Pelosi's approach will lead to electoral results for the Democrats even more disatrous than those of the recent midterm elections and then her prompt ejection from the House leadership. Eventually, the Democrats will find their Tony Blair.

But her selection is significant and does carry real dangers for the country. There are many ways the Republicans can lose power almost regardless of their performance in office and almost regardless of Democrat leadership, policies or politics. The economy could tank. The coming war could hold nasty surprises. The Republicans could be wracked by scandals or infighting brought on by their success. If Ms. Pelosi and her kind - who, it seems likely, are only going to proliferate in the near future - are at the helm if and when such a power shift takes place, the nation will be in for a very destructive period.

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Thursday, November 07, 2002


No Retribution Needed

The New York Times considers the question of "retribution" against Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords, quoting Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform and a prominent conservative strategist, as saying:

"I don't think Republicans will blockade the state of Vermont, but if Jeffords asks for anything and there's any way to say no, then no will be said, because they won't want to give him anything to put in a press release.

But it is certainly not necessary for the United States Senate to deprive the citizens of Vermont of almost any benefit in order to deprive Mr. Jeffords of bragging rights. Vermont just elected a Republican Governor, Jim Douglas. Any federal benefit to Vermont - including those favored by Senator Jeffords - need only be positioned publicly as obtained by Governor Douglas. Senator Jeffords may continue to labor on behalf of his State, and obtain little personal political benefit for his efforts.

Such a strategy won't be nice, but it will pretty much be politics as ususal. Of course, Senator Jeffords reportedly has few personal friends among the Senate Republicans, so one thing he will probably not be able to do very much is convert his personal relationships into federal benefits - but this places him at no more of a disadvantage than any Democrat, and is not "retribution."
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Hair Of The Dog

The New York Times reports that some Democratic leaders said the party had made a mistake in failing to engage President Bush on his tax cut — one clear area of economic disagreement between the two parties — and by falling in line behind Mr. Bush when he pressed the issue of Iraq in the midst of a fall election.

Yes, indeed. Campaign to raise expected taxes while the economy threatens to "double dip" and launch a transparently politically motivated opposition to the President's effort to control a terrorist state preparing weapons of mass destruction. That would have been some party platform.

But such an approach probably would have solved at least the problem of post-election Democratic leadership in the House. No such leadership would have been needed, since there probably wouldn't have been any Democrats left in the House after the election. And if some did survive, they could all have shared the "leadership" chores among their single digit number.



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Wednesday, November 06, 2002


Whom The Media Would Destroy ...

... they first make powerful and brilliant.
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Discouraged ... Or Just Smart and Thoughtful?

There are increasing reports that one of the major reasons the Democrats did so badly in this election was that many African American voters stayed home. When they did vote, African Americans delivered over 90% of their vote to the Democrats.

Perhaps they were discouraged, as some commentators suggest - I'm sure at least some African Americans were discouraged.

But I also think that something else is also going on: More thoughtful African Americans understand that the racial demonization of the Republicans and George Bush that has been perpetrated by the Democrats is at least dubious. I write this largely on the basis of admittedly personal, anecdotal experience - but also on structural grounds. Specifically, every day every American sees Colin Powell and Condi Rice acing it. Secretary of Education Rod Paige has an unenviable, tough job - but he toughs it out and makes a difference.

I don't think these appointments and performances have converted millions of Afrian Americans to Republicanism. But, I also think that together with the President's education and faith-based initiatives, the whole package has raised enough doubts in the more thoughtful, private reaches of the African-American community to increase their resistence to the usual Democrat race-mongering. It may not yet be enough to create a substantial African-American vote for Republicans - but it's likely enough to persuade at least a substantial minority of African-Americans not to vote Democratic.

Sometimes not voting at all is the correct, rational, public-spirited decision. Goo goos take note.

UPDATE: The more this kind of thing spews from the left, the more the African American community is likely to pause and wonder who speaks in their names.
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Election on Elm Street

For the hoot of seeing nearly pure hallucinatory self-delusion at work (play?), it's worth a detour to The Headwaters of De Nial today.

Every post is a self-inflicted pinch: "If only I do it again, this time just right," Atrios and his readers seem to say, "I'll surely wake up from this nightmare!"

But that man they see as their own, private Freddy from 1600 Elm Street just won't go away!
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More Historic Than One May Think

The word "historic" is being bandied about rather freely now with respect to the election results. For example, the New York Times uses it in an article that also includes this passage:

The party that controls the White House almost invariably loses House seats in off-year elections. Democrats broke that trend when Roosevelt was president in 1934, and when Bill Clinton was in the White House in 1998. But the Republicans have never gained seats in the House when a Republican was president.

Similarly, the party that controls the White House generally loses seats in the Senate, with a handful of exceptions, including 1962 under Kennedy and 1970 under Nixon.


But the election results seem more "historic" than this kind of statement admits.

In fact, the above passage addresses only the question of the party in the White House gaining seats in Congress - which is rare eough to be called "historic."

BUT I CAN THINK OF NO OTHER EXAMPLE EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THIS COUNTRY IN WHICH THE PARTY IN THE WHITE HOUSE CAPTURED A HOUSE OF CONGRESS IN A MID TERM ELECTION. THAT MAY BE MORE THAN "HISTORIC" - THAT MAY BE A FIRST. It certainly didn't happen in 1934, 1962, 1970 or 1998.

It is possible such a thing happened in the 19th Century - my resources are not that complete. I believe that a professional historian should check this out.

UPDATE: Claudia Rosette writes: It was also the first time since the Civil War that the president's party wrested a majority of Senate seats away from the other party in an off-year election.

That's interesting, but other aspects of the Civil War rather overshadow the election. After all, many States simply left the Union - it's not really the election that caused the balance to tip. It would be interesting to know if the party in the White House had taken a house of Congress in a midterm election at any time before the Civil War.

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And Away He Goes

Report: Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri said Wednesday he had not decided whether to seek a new term as minority leader; a few officials thought he would not do so. And Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., publicly suggested it might be time for Gephardt to step down.

UPDATE: Matt Drudge reports: House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt decides not to seek new term as party leader.

Mr. Daschle? Mr. Daschle? Destiny on the phone. Collect call for you!

FURTHER UPDATE: Dick Gephardt's exit is confirmed.
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It's The Sea-change That Brings In The Tide

Since at least October 22 the Man Without Qualities has argued that predictions that this election would not result in major change were probably seriously wrong.

Those observations were extended on October 26 and October 29 and October 30 and November 2 and November 3 and early election eve.

In a related matter, on October 26 the Man Without Qualities also pointed out that Mondale was weak and that the Minnesota situation was not comparable to Carnahan while the conventional wisdom almost unanimously deemed Mondale a sure winner. This observation was extended on October 27. By October 29 some "clearer thinking" was said to have brought some pundits around to the view of the MWQ, and on that same date MWQ predicted the vulgar Wellstone Memorial would probably backfire.

On the other hand, Bill Simon was just too inept to take advantage of all the structural advantages he had in California, and which I thought he - or at least his later, more competent campaign team - would be able to exploit to far greater advantage than actually turned out to be the case.
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Fun In South Dakota

Tim Johnson has provisionally won re-election as Senator from South Dakota by 527 votes. The vote difference can be accounted for as coming from the same Indian reservations which have been under serious federal investigation for voter fraud for the past few weeks.

There is to be a recount. The matter may end in the courts.

But, ultimately, the Republican controlled Senate will decide who won the South Dakota Senate race. ("Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members...")

If there is a real question remaining over the authenticity of those reservation votes when the Senate reconvenes, the decision as to who will represent South Dakota may be very much on Trent Lott's agenda.

UPDATE: Since it's fairly obvious he screwed up royally, why can't Senator Daschle just stop talking for a while? He seems incontinent, as with this:

[Senator Tim] Johnson will probably find himself in a recount situation and face a possible challenge to the vote totals after that.

If there is a challenge, it would be decided by the U.S. Senate, making Tuesday’s change in leadership even more significant.

Daschle says he doesn’t see the same fate for Johnson.

“I think the recount will be definitive. I don’t think it will have to go to the Senate,” Daschle said.


Since Senator Daschle can't possibly know what he's talking about, why does he just NOT TALK for an instant? Can't he let up on his self-destructiveness for a moment or two? What's wrong with him?
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Tea and Sympathy

Various deeply annoyed Democrats were on the air late last night saying that the results of this election may be to pull the Democratic Party left and into a more confrontational mode with the President over the coming Iraq incursion.

Of course, the Democrats are free to do that if they like.

But after some hours of contemplation, the Man Without Qualities cannot think of a real world scenario that would be more likely to cause Georgia Senator Zell Miller to abandon the Democrats than the confrontational, leftish proposals that last night were being vetted, and are still being vetted, by irate Democrats.

So as the Democrats work through the spells in their edition of the Tibetan Book of the Dead in planning for their eventual reincarnation in whatever form, no doubt the White House will be having sweet little tea parties with the Senior Senator from Georgia.

Perhaps they will be tea parties in which offers to respect Senator Miller's full seniority (and then some) post-switch might be on the etagere along with the clotted cream.

UPDATE: So far, the Democratic leadership seems to be in deep denial. House Minority Leader For The Moment Gephardt told the New York Times:

"What you've got to look at is the incredible amount of special interest money that was on their side. ... There were races where we were outspent 4 to 1, 5 to 1, the pharmaceutical companies probably spent $60 million across the country."

But it wasn't the pharmaceutical companies that made the Democrat-rich minorities stay home in elections which, despite all predictions to the contrary, had pretty high turnout in other constituencies.

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The Man Who Fought The Zeitgeist - And Won!

Not Mondale - God forbid. But Tim Johnson struggled to a very slim victory in South Dakota. Johnson won by a mere 527 votes out of more than 334,000 cast, with all precincts reporting.

Hey, 527 votes. That's a number one could gin up with phony absentee ballots on a reservation or two!

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Tuesday, November 05, 2002


There's No Fighting The Zeitgeist

It's midnight in Los Angeles. Only the Minnesota and South Dakota Senate seats remain undecided. But each of them was very close before the election began, and the winds that have moved the country slightly but definitively towards the Republicans swirl through those states, too.

So I believe it is unlikely that the Democrat will win either in either of those states.

I'm going to bed. I'll find out in the coral light of dawn.
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Sea-change Tonight?

A couple of minutes ago, the Fox News election team pronounced this an election of no change. The Man Without Qualites cannot agree. At this point in the evening, compared to 2000 there is an apparent serious reduction of the African-American vote across the country. Further, a key "proxy election" (the Florida governorship) is now being called to Jeb Bush with a spectacular 19% margin. It is hard to see how a Democrat can do well in almost any close election without a vigorous African-American turnout. Sununu is carrying precincts in southern New Hampshire which were expected to go Democrat. Liddy Dole has won in North Carolina over what many observors thought would be a very close race but wasn't. So far all of the major trends are moving Republican, and fairly strongly. Obviously, Democrats are being elected, but it's hard to find a breeze or current that hasn't turned in the Republican direction to the extent any reasonable margin of pre-election error might have allowed. With so many "close" races, that's a disaster for the Democrats.

If these voting patterns hold, this will be a very big Republican win.

With Erskine Bowles now added to the Clintonian boneyard with Reno, Reich, McCall, Cuomo and others, the evening is already a disaster for Terry McAuliffe and Hillary Clinton.

Indeed, it now seems likely that following this election the Republicans will makes historical gains in both the House and Senate giving them control both houses of Congress and allowing huge numbers of Republican federal judges (probably including replacement of several aging Supreme Curt Justices) to pass through committee and confirmation, and that none of Gephardt, Daschle or McAuliffe will retain any national or party leadership roles.

Is that a "status quo" election?
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Say It Ain't So

Even Zogby is now showing a substantial late move to the Republicans. But nobody wants to believe it.

Well, by tomorrow we won't have to.

Morals tomorrow.

Comedy, comedy, comedy tonight!
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"Krugman the Magnificent"

Why does Paul Krugman bother with bad economics and punditry when he could apparently make some real money as a mind reader? "Carnac the Magnificent" is a piker compared to Mr. Krugman, who processes lesser minds than his by the thousands:

Of course, some pundits tell you that not much is at stake in this particular election, that the parties aren't really very different on the issues. I don't know what planet they are living on: in reality, the parties are further apart than they have been since the 1930's. The fact that anyone imagines otherwise is a tribute to the timidity of the Democrats, who are afraid to say what they really think, and the subterfuge of the Republicans, who show a disciplined willingness to pretend to hold positions they actually abhor.

How does Mr. Krugman know what both Democrats and Republicans "really think" or "actually abhor?" DOES Mr. Krugman think he knows what both Democrats and Republicans "really think" or "actually abhor" even when it's quite other than what they say?

"A disciplined willingness to pretend to hold positions they actually abhor?" All or almost all Republicans? Mr. Krugman thinks they are all or almost all subject to discipline from the President, it seems. Yes, to Mr. Krugman all the little Republicans seem to sing:

When the little blue clerk
In the middle of his work,
Starts a tune to the moon up above,
It is the White House that is all,
Simply telling us to fall in line


And why do Mr. Krugman's columns keep suggesting his weird conspiracies? He is a bird that sings but one note all night long.

Here's a test, Mr. Krugman: My e-mail address is on the upper left. My nominal opinions are slathered all over this blog. NOW E-MAIL ME AND TELL ME WHAT I REALLY THINK AND ACTUALLY ABHOR!

I can hardly wait to find out!

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Early Poll Numbers Appear

On Drudge [2:00 pm PST]:

Based on early exit polls, GOP is set to win Georgia, Missouri, Minnesota and S Dakota ; DEMS set to win Arkansas, Colorado, North Carolina and New Jersey. EXIT POLLS REVEAL: JEB BUSH IN PUSH TO VICTORY, LEADS MCBRIDE IN EARLY VOTING

If so, we may all find out what Senator Chafee is made of.
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EUnilateralism

The internationalist crowd, especially in EU legal circles, have been very quick to argue that America is "unilateralist" - even when the United States simply declines to submit to a treaty by which it was never bound or withdraws from a treaty which provides for withdrawal. For example, The Kyoto Protocol was overwhelmingly rejected by almost the entire United States Senate and never bound the United States. Similarly, while the Clinton Administration signed the "Rome Statute" for the International Criminal Court, the United States Senate - and therefore, the United States - never approved the treaty, and the Bush Administration withdrew Executive approval. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty was also decisively rejected by the Senate. The Biological Weapons Convention is another bad treaty the United States has properly resisted extending. And, of course, the United States exercised its rights as specified in the Anti Ballistic Missile treaty with Russia to terminate that treaty in full accordance with its terms. All of these acts have been savaged as examples of American "unilateralism," even though the United States acted as of right in each case.

The recent German election gave a pungent wiff of European unilateralism.

But the German fuss was surely just the petite chose a commencer compared to a new ruling of the European Court of Justice that holds that eight EU states acted illegally when they signed bilateral air deals with the United States offering advantages to their national flag carriers. That EU high court held in an unappealable decision that the bilateral ``open skies'' accords with Washington violated EU law since they infringed on the power of the EU head office to regulate and negotiate air transport accords with non-EU nations. The ruling overturns valid and binding "open sky treaties" the United States has entered into with Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Britain and Germany. The court is "still considering" similar cases against Italy, France and the Netherlands and Portugal.

"The agreements ... are now null and void," EU Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio told a news conference.

Eight fully negotiated, ratified, binding treaties in a blow! Talk about unilateralism!

This EU court case is another example of an increasingly common European shell game: when it suits their purposes, the Europeans insist that they all be treated as separate entities, but increasingly it is the emerging unified EU dirigiste interests that really count. Like an old Monopoly game played at a family Christmas, this European shell game is often unpacked for purposes of assessing "international opinion." For example, when the issue of the death penalty arises, the Europeans discuss the matter in terms of every European country (many) abolishing the death penalty where the United States (one) has not - even though the basic EU treaties require that member states abolish the death penalty where the United States Constitution leaves that decision to the 50 States. Often the EU-wide coordination is imperfect and informal - as with the European "position" on Iraq, but certainly real enough to strip the European countries of any reasonable argument that their decisions are independent. By way of example, the world should not count the decisions of France and Germany to oppose an American Iraq invasion as "separate" if those decisions depend on coordinated Franco-German commercial dealings with Iraq - if that is indeed going on as rumored.
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Lileks Does Mondale-Coleman

Worth the detour.
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Now, About That Memorial Service

The often dazed and confused Nicholas D. Kristof gropes towards a lucid moment in today's column in which he belatedly notices that the intellectual processes and writings of the American left now often resemble those of Lower East Side street crazies.

Of course, full cogency is too much for him to accomplish all in one try. He raises old controversies in the usual "both sides do it" distraction, which blurs his focus on the present. He mistakes Bill O'Reilly for a hard conservative. And he asserts that "Democratic politicians like Tom Daschle haven't joined the conspiratorial hysteria" - where Senator Daschle was himself one of the first and worst instigators of the insane suggestions that President Bush knew personally that the September 11 attacks were probably coming. Senator Daschle famously had to beat a hasty retreat from his disgraceful assertions, which he did by sublimating them into accusations that the President "should have known." Maybe Mr. Kristof missed that day at school. But he should have the courage of his convictions: the real problem here is exactly that the insanity on the left now often penetrates into its deepest, and supposedly most stable, institutional recesses. The Democrat and liberal centers do not hold against the forces Mr. Kristof identifies.

But the most interesting tidbit in Mr. Kristof's column is his disclosure of polling data regarding the politicized Paul Wellstone Memorial Service:

A Minnesota poll shows that nearly one-quarter of voters are less likely to vote Democratic in the Senate race because of the bitterly politicized Wellstone memorial service.

My, my, my. "Nearly one-quarter" is it?

When you put it that way, I can certainly understand why Mr. Blodgett fell into "deep regret."
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Contempt of Court

Yesterday, in three unanimous decisions and without bothering to hear arguments, the United States Supreme Court reversed the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals - in two cases reinstating convictions and in a third case reversing a grant of asylum to a Guatemalan immigrant.

Three unanimous reversals of a Circuit Court without argument in a single day is almost certainly a first for the Supreme Court. Such high court actions are not just taking care of business. Rather, the Supreme Court is sending a conscious, intentional, non-partisan message to the Ninth Circuit: we think you on the Ninth Circuit are crummy, arrogant, partisan judges. It is especially important to note that the Supreme Court acted unanimously here - there is no hint of a partisan political aganda in the high court decisions. The Ninth Circuit thinks it's writing about important things in its silly decisions that defy everything from Supreme Court precedent, to common sense to federal statutes. But it looks like the high court has simply decided that the Ninth Circuit indulgence of its numerous "head case" judges has just become a huge, banal, tedious administrative problem.

And nobody - least of all the Ninth Circuit judges - should think that this is the end of the Supreme Court program. With the Ninth Circuit reporter crammed with ludicrous decisions such as the its recent demolition of a federal rule imposing administrative sanctions on doctors who recommend illegal marijuana use by their patients, the Supreme Court is preparing to aim lots of heavy artillery at this coast.
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A Few More Last Minute Polls

...on RealClear.

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Monday, November 04, 2002


The Piper Bills Germany for Just the First Installment

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has launched his second term with a bleak economic message for his country. Germany now faces unemployment of almost 10 percent, the likelihood of negligible economic growth at least through 2003 and public finances that are stretched close to the limit and worsening by the day. Mr. Schröder warned that significant cuts in German welfare benefits are needed, and significant tax increases have already been proposed. The welfare cuts, especially, are causing a deep and growing anger in Germany - and especially in the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

But Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's recently re-elected government that is supposed to resolve or at least improve the gathering adversity is less popular, and probably less capable of making the needed choices, than ever. The gathering anger within the SPD over the welfare cuts will only make things worse.

One wonders if Germans might one day wake up to understand that it wasn't really a good idea to re-elect their government on the basis of one-shot flood relief performance and an ill-conceived and manipulative opposition to the American challenge to Iraq and terrorism. In fact, it was more than a little stupid to do that. But that government is back, and the piper has almost certainly just begun to tender a long series of very large invoices.

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Night On Vote Mountain: The Goo Goos Come Out!

The brief period between Halloween and Election Day is normally haunted by the Goo Goos and their howls that all eligible voters should exercise that right.

This year, William Safire gives off a particularly vigorous hoot, even as he tries to deny he is performing yeoman Goo Goo service.

Lost in these exhortations all neglect is any cogent reason for goading any voters to the polls who would not go anyway.

Mr. Safire's suggestions - which range from allowing voting procedures more open to fraud, to government financed $100 bribes, to punishing non-voters, to shutting down much of the nation's aggregate economic activity on election day - sure would be expensive and annoying. But how likely is it that people who wouldn't vote without Mr. Safire's goadings are informed voters in the first place?

So these huge societal expenses are likely for the purpose of collecting the votes of politically uninformed people who don't otherwise care to walk a couple of blocks? Somebody actually thinks the government would become more legitimate and/or responsive to any important need because of such participation?
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GOP Graveyard?

Matt Drudge reports that Associated Press "test returns" (whatever those are) suggest a GOP graveyard in tomorrow's Congressional races.

UPDATE: An astute reader writes with the following:

Matt usually runs this feature every year in the run-up to election day. The "test return" is just a bulletin AP sends out over the wire to make sure it's members are aware of what the format of the election returns on the wire are going to look like. The results they report aren't based on anything other than the rich imagination of the author[s].

The folks who put it together could have just as easily shown them with a GOP landslide, but Matt likes to run these because it always reveals something about the political leanings of the folks at AP HQ.

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From Time To Time

In 1555 Queen Mary I of England ("Bloody Mary"), daughter of Henry VIII, announced that she was pregnant and that the baby was due in June 1555. In fact, Mary probably had cancer of the womb which she mistook for her pregnancy. Mary probably died from her womb cancer.

In 2002 Colombian doctors removed a 26-pound cancerous tumor from a 15-year-old girl after her parents took her to the hospital believing she was pregnant. After a three-hour surgery Thursday, doctors removed the tumor and the girl's right ovary. Doctors said the girl has a life expectancy of between 12 to 36 more months because the cancer seems to have spread to other parts of her body.

Link via Best of the Web.



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Unimpressed

Some people think Coleman trounced Mondale in the Minnesota debate. Sample from Peggy Noonan:

I think Mr. Coleman won the election this morning. I think he solidified his rising numbers, and picked up some undecided voters. And I think that considering what has happened in Minnesota the past few weeks that is one amazing story.

UPDATE: Others say neither candidate scored a knockout.

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The Jaundiced Eye Of A Beholder

As noted in a prior post, the New York Times and CBS News commissioned a poll released yesterday. Mickey Kaus, especially, has already pointed out some ways in which the Times article distorts some pretty important aspects of the poll results. But there are additional distortions in the Times coverage, one of which can be seen simply by parallel readings of the CBS News (not usually considered a Republican shill) report and the Times report regarding President Bush's impact on the campaign.

The New York Times (text buried well within the article) reports:

Still, as always, there was mixed evidence of the degree to which Mr. Bush benefited Republican candidates, and how much weight his appeal for a Republican Congress might carry. Nearly half of voters said it was "better for the country" to have divided government. About 40 percent said the president was not a factor in their vote, while 31 percent said they considered their vote to be one of support for Mr. Bush and 19 percent considered their vote to be in opposition to him.

In contrast, CBS News reports in the opening paragraphs of its article:

A factor that could play a significant role in voters' choices during this mid-term election is the man in the White House. A CBS News/New York Times poll released Saturday shows President Bush's influence being felt by about half of registered voters, a higher than usual number.

Forty percent of the registered voters surveyed say he will not be a factor in their vote.

Mr. Bush's impact will be more positive than negative — 31 percent say theirs will be a vote for Bush, and 19 percent say it will be a vote against him.


One has to read carefully to realize that these reports are reporting the same poll results. A media report isn't - or, at least, shouldn't be - a cheerleading chant or a palliative. To the reader, a big problem with this part of the Times report is that one is invited to overlook the immediate significance of an major ongoing development: The President has been and still is campaigning furiously in the final few days of the campaign - even as some polls (including this one) show a distinct shift in voter sentiment towards his camp and the Democrats have little to use to stem that momentum. Since this poll shows that President is having a substantial net positive influence for Republicans (as we know from the CBS report), his continuing national campaign is likely to help that momentum and further favor Republicans. Whether the Times likes it or not, that is news.

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Sunday, November 03, 2002


The Many Evils of Title IX

Richard Epstein demolishes all claims that Title IX is good, just or reasonable law.
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Nannies Again

Only this time it's a housekeeper in Arkansas.

One hopes that would-be-Senator Pryor understands that if his housekeeper in fact turns out to be an illegal alien, his denial that she is illegal will hugely aggrevate his problems.

And, of course, there is the usual Social Security and withholding tax mess - even if she is legal.
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Sea-Change, Heck. Time to Start Considering Reincarnation?

The polls are beginning to read like the Tibetan Book of the Dead for the Democrats.

The USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll this weekend shows that likely voters prefer Republicans to Democrats 51% -45% in House races. That alone is a bad sign for Democrats, but the gathering Republican momentum is yet another, perhaps more telling, factor, since these numbers mark a 9-point shift from two weeks ago, when Democrats led Republicans 49%-46%.

These poll results focus on House races. But with so many Senate races too close to call, it seems likely that a generic - and apparently still continuing - shift of voter support to the Republicans will have at least marginal effects in those Senate races in which marginal effects are all it takes to win or lose at this point.

It is also hard to square a "no big change" position with Jeb Bush's apparently obtaining a 15% lead in Florida - which in recent years has reflected national trends. Add to that the expected poor Democrat showing in New York and even the admittedly odd situation in California. Then there are stories of likely big turn-out problems in critical Democrat constituencies - such as African Americans.

And it is important to recall that the Democrats have largely run out of money to fight against the late momentum swing towards the Republicans - but the Republicans have lots of it. Then there is Al Hunt's observation that television stations have stopped most news coverage of the campaigns - which again works to the disadvantage of the Democrats - and further reduces their ability to resist a momentum swing.

At this point I believe there is increasing evidence that the country is in the process of making up its mind to hand both houses of Congress solidly to the Republicans.

Maybe that Zogby thing is just an erroneous fluke. But then Zogby did better than almost everyone else in 2000 - at least at the national level.

Mickey Kaus has characteristic thoughtful musings.

UPDATE: Apparently working from Zogby Poll material, which he believes to be probably correct, Dick Morris says that the Democrats look very strong in many once-close Senate races.

FURTHER UPDATE: Refering to the Morris take on the Zogby Poll findings, Mickey Kaus reports:

Zogby himself was on "To the Point" an hour ago -- the show airs at 1 P.M. PST -- and his estimate was only that the Democrats would "possibly, probably hold on to the Senate." That doesn't sound like such a "decisive advantage." What does Zogby know that Morris doesn't (or vice-versa)?

ANOTHER UPDATE: KausFiles is reporting: "The final Ipsos-Reid/Cook Political Report poll of "generic" party preference will show a 46-44 Republican advantage, with 10 percent undecided. That's a mild Republican shift from the previous Ipsos-Reid/Cook poll, which had the Dems up by 2 points."

Here again, this polls confirmation of momentum in favor or the GOP seems at least as important as it's static reading. As more people make up their minds, they seem to be breaking mostly towards the Republicans. That pocess still seems to be underway, given the 10% "undecided" vote remaining.

And these poll results are not even necessarilly inconsistent with the more pro-Democrat Zogby results if they are construed as simply being later polling than Zogby's. In other owrds, Zogby's polls may have been fine when they were done, but people may be in the process of making up and/or changing their minds since the Zogby poll was finished - in the process moving towards the Republicans.

While the Ipsos-Reid/Cook Political Report reports that among Likely Voters and Very Likely Voters, the trends in recent days seem to favor Republicans, there is also a Warning that may also apply to the other two pro-GOP polls released this weekend: Weekend samples are often more Republican than weekday samples, which may explain the "trend". Also, KausFiles says some political experts think these pro-GOP polls are just "bad polls."
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If He's the Saturday Night Live Host, Then Who's The Parasite?

CNN.com on "Saturday Night Live":

[M]aybe that's what contributed to their lousiness: writers who spent their summers reading US magazine instead of the newspapers. If the show doesn't snap together for this Saturday's Sarah Michelle Gellar-hosted edition, people are going to start making jokes about driving a stake into "SNL's" heart -- if that organ can be located.

But what does CNN.com know, anyway? There are other critics. Here's one that thinks it's hip called "Metromix":

"Saturday Night Live" came out of the seasonal gate Saturday looking exactly the same as it has for most of the past half-dozen years or so: like a tired, bloated icon of the television and cultural establishments that it began life dedicated to mocking.

Well, who ever heard of "Metromix"? They don't mean squat. Here's something called Teenink:

"Saturday Night Live" is not the same show that it once was. During the prime years of SNL stars including Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase and John Belushi were constantly creating new, fresh skits which were funny and brought the show to life. But now the weekly comedy show struggles to come up with a single funny scene, and original skits now come few and far between. As the hour-and-a-half show moves along, it seems to lunge for a laugh or a chuckle. Despite the good acting and the interesting hosts, the humor is simply not there. As the ratings continue to drop, the show must find a solution to its growing problem of lack of funny material. Until then, it will probably get worse.

"Bloated icon?" "Heart can't be located?" "Seems to lunge for a laugh or a chuckle?" "Probably get worse?"

Who could these reviewers have been expecting?

Someone tired, unfunny, bloated, yesterday's news, washed-up but still thinks he's the happening thing. And thinks that SNL is the place to prove it!?

Who could it be other than AL GORE?!

I'll bet he even does the Macarena just to show that a wild and crazy guy like him can make fun of himself - IF IT'S ALL CAREFULLY PLANNED IN ADVANCE! Watch out - he may even kiss Tipper again!

The inside word is that it's all a big misunderstanding and that Mr. Gore had actually asked for a slot on "Rowan and Martin's Laugh In!"
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UPDATE: Whither the Zeitgeist?

"Jeb is gone! There won't be anything as devastating to President Bush as his brother's losing in Florida." - Terry McAuliffe

JEB BUSH PULLS A 15 POINT LEAD - ZOGBY [Link courtesy of Matt Drudge]

McAuliffe is gone! - Robert Musil
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Minnesota Poll Dancers

Mondale is trailing Coleman by 6% in one latest poll.

But Mondale led Coleman by 46% to 41%, and 47% to 41%, respectively, in two slightly earlier polls.

Is this a situation in flux - or pollsters who just don't know how to "correct" the raw data? It's hard to tell.

And then there is that Monday morning debate.

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