Saturday, November 15, 2003

Why Jindal lost

This blog is still on hiatus and will be for a month or two, but I have to comment a little about how Bobby Jindal managed to blow a ten point lead in the last week and lose the governor's race. There are several things that you could point to, but a couple of the biggest were the poor GOTV effort and the poor ads by the Louisiana Republican Party this week.

I live in a house with 4 other registered Republicans, and I don't think we got a call this week asking us to vote. Certainly, no one knocked on our door. Reporters only talk about message -- and message is important -- but campaign tactics are important too, and I certainly saw no evidence of a systematic voter ID and turnout campaign.

The ads talked about Blanco going negative (which is an old story) and said that Blanco even claimed that Jindal wanted to let women die. The Louisiana Democratic Party did in fact say that -- but the state GOP actually did Blanco a favor with their ad, because all they did was repeat the accusation without discrediting it. The ad's tone was mean-spririted, which violates the cardinal rule of campaigning when a man is running against a woman. Voters feel sorry for the woman if the man attacks her in a mean-spirited way, and those ads were awful.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Going on hiatus

Unfortunately, I've had some things come up in my personal life that are going to require me to stop blogging for a while. I can't imagine not writing here on a regular basis, so I don't know how this is going to work out, but it has to. Maybe I'll be able to explain in a month or two when I've got things sorted out. In the meantime, I'll value your prayers. Thanks for reading.

Democrats (now desperate) smear Jindal

As Bobby Jindal maintains a lead in the range of 5 to 8 points in most polls, the state Democratic Party is worried about low turnout leading to a Jindal landslide. So they decided to mail a piece alleging that Bobby Jindal "is willing to let Louisiana women die" because of his opposition to abortion. That's a lie, as Jindal supports allowing abortions when necessary to save the life of the mother.

Timshel can complain if he wants that the candidates are complaining too much about negative campaigning, but I think Jindal is right to be "offended" by this smear.

Bad trends for the Dems

Mort Kondracke noticed the Pew numbers that I remarked on below. He writes on GOP gains in key swing states and adds:

Current approval ratings have yet to factor in an improving economy - the 7.2 percent third quarter growth rate, surging productivity and reduced numbers of new jobless claims - all of which are bound to help Bush.

Extravagant Democratic attacks on Bush's credibility and trustworthiness have caused no dents in his reputation. An October Zogby International poll showed that 56 percent of voters are "proud" to have Bush as president and only 26 percent "ashamed." By 64 percent to 31 percent, they consider him "honest and trustworthy."

It would seem that Bush's re-election rides on one thing: success or failure in Iraq. At this point, according to Pew, 60 percent of voters say that going to war was the right decision and only 33 percent say it was not. Democrats, who think it was wrong by a margin of 54 percent to 39 percent, are out of step - for now.

Kondracke is right. If Bush wins the peace in Iraq, then he will coast to re-election. Otherwise, we Republicans may find the election to be a long, hard slog.

Dick Morris is right about Clark

Dick Morris is one of those people who is often brilliant and just as often totally full of it. You need a good BS detector to read his columns or listen to him on TV.

Today is one of those days when he nails it. He points out that the Wesley Clark boomlet is over and that the campaign all really comes down to Iowa. If Gephardt wins, there will be a real fight for the nomination, and you can construct scenarios where a number of candidates win (though Dean would still be strongly favored). On the other hand, if Dean wins in Iowa, then it's all over.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Reflections on the electorate

I just finished going through the new poll from the Pew Research Center and I thought several things were important:

Republicans have made notable gains in a number of key swing states. Michigan, Minnesota and Iowa -- three Midwestern states Al Gore won in 2000 by very slight margins -- have all experienced significant shifts in party ID toward the GOP. And the five-point advantage enjoyed by Democrats in Florida in the run-up to the 2000 election has evaporated. In polling since Sept 11, 2001, 37% of Floridians call themselves Republicans, 36% Democrats.

Though there has been an overall net increase in the percentage of voters identify with the Republican Party, the largest increase has come in the swing states that were crucial in the 2000 election -- a 5% jump in those states collectively. This is devastating news for the Democrats, as it is going to make defeating President Bush much more difficult in 2004 than in 2000. The 5 point bump for the GOP in California also bodes ominously for the Democrats, since it would appear that Democrats will have to actively defend the state (which they cannot afford to do).

Something completely different that I noticed in the poll was the response of black Americans when asked whether discrimination against blacks is rare. While only 20% of blacks outside the South say that discrimination is rare, a full 31% of Southern blacks agree with that statement. That figure strongly suggests that racism is a bigger problem outside of the South than in it. When Howard Dean suggests that most white Southerners are racist, keep that statistic in mind. It shows how out of touch the liberal elite is with the true nature of Southern society.

Finally, it's worth noting that much of America's increasing political polarization in terms of values comes from increasing religious polarization. The percentage of Evangelical Protestants continues to rise, as does the percentage of young people who hold to no religion.
Who does Howard Dean think he is?

That's the title of an expansive article by David Tell in The Weekly Standard that covers a lot of bases and makes for fascinating reading.
Girl picked as Homecoming King

I was going to dismiss this as silly and stupid until I noticed this:

"We felt that once a girl runs for king, it becomes a gender issue," said teacher Mike Dwyer, co-adviser for Hayward High's Gay and Straight Alliance. "As long as some people don't fit neat definitions of gender, there's going to be gender inequality, gender discrimination, sexism and heterosexism."


Anthony pressed on because she realized that her running for king was meaningful to gays on campus.

"People said, 'I appreciate what you're doing,' That's when I realized it was bigger than me," she said. "I gave them confidence to openly say, 'I'm gay.'"

I think it's important to note how both the feminist movement and the gay rights movement have worked to stress the false idea that there is no difference between men and women.

I also noted this bit:

Students and teachers consulted the dictionary, which suggests a king is male. Despite that definition, Principal Debra Calvin ruled that Angela could try for king.

Then I guess it all depends on your definition of "male," right? Amazing that a school is willing to accept the idea that nothing means anything.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Feminized church?

Reflecting on Kim du Toit's rant, Donald Sensing has an awesome post up about the sissification of Jesus, along with some pictures that illustrate the problem very graphically. Excerpt:

As children in Sunday School we see our first pictures of Jesus as the good shepherd (see above, for example). They are wildly inaccurate. They show a Zest-fully clean Jesus with his Breck-shampooed, blow-dried hair, in a spotless, Bill Blass robe, carrying a little lamb on his shoulders. This is an inoffensive, domesticated Jesus, a tamed Jesus who looks good. This Jesus is a poster boy for people who think that Christian faith is supposed to make them popular. But if this wimpy, smarmy, gender-confused, television-evangelist-looking Jesus ever told you, “I lay down my life for the sheep” (cf: John 10:11), you’d laugh out loud in derision. And if it ever occurred to you that your life was literally in his hands, you’d cry in despair.

A good shepherd Jesus would have grubby clothes that were torn and tattered, perhaps bloodstained. He would clip his hair short because it would be constantly dirty. Soot and sweat would be streaked across his face. His hands would be grimy. His aroma would prove he is unacquainted with Ban Roll-on. The type of fellow who can do the work that shepherding requires is not the kind of fellow any of us would invite home to meet mother. Good shepherds don’t appeal to persons of refined sensibility.

A good shepherd Jesus would look out of place in our Ethan Allen dining rooms, and probably in most churches as well. This is not a Jesus who has time to idle the day away with us. Jesus the good shepherd has countless skills and strengths, honed on this earth to rescue us from countless dangers, including ourselves. Bluntly, a good shepherd is ready for battle at any time. “Ours is a Jesus who is powerful enough to grab us from the jaws of a hungry wolf. But at the same time Jesus is also powerful enough to grab us from the jaws of too much civility and niceness, from our need to have a pretty picture and a happy ending to the story, from our hiding from the raw, sometime coarse and smelly vitality of life itself.” (Rebecca Young)

In the tame, domesticated and frankly feminine images of Jesus we use, we suppress Jesus’ masculinity, of which shepherding is one example. It’s a cultural thing, you see. Boys and men find it overwhelmingly important to be seen as manly men, independent, confident and self-assured, but Christian faith is culturally seen as a sort of wimpy crutch for people who can’t handle life on their own. Such stereotypes are reinforced by artistic and verbal images of Jesus that I think would make his first apostles wonder just whom we are talking about.

As I said in his comments, my Jesus is the guy who threw the money-changers out of the Temple with his bare hands, not the feeble, effete person he is sometimes drawn to be.
Jindal takes huge lead in new poll

Thanks to Timshel for the update. Bobby Jindal (R) is pulling away from Kathleen Blanco (D) in our gubernatorial race. It's clear that Blanco is simply out of her league and only made the runoff because the black vote was divided in the primary. She never radiates any confidence, and I always wonder if she makes it through each speech or debate only by memorizing talking points.

The false accusation against Jindal made her look even more confused and incapable of governing.

Finally, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's entire advisory committee for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues has resigned in protest over the mayor's endorsement of Jindal. I think that fact alone will guarantee Jindal's election -- Louisiana as a whole is a very socially conservative state.

UPDATE: Read the comments on this post from the hyper-liberal Daily Kos. Some of them are voting for Jindal -- that's how poor of a campaign that Blanco has run.

Democratic failures cause infighting

Oooo, this is fun. It'll be worse if Bobby Jindal wins Louisiana on November 15, as I think he will.
Brokered convention?

CalPundit notes a column pointing out that the Democratic Party has changed its rules to allow for proportional delegate allocation in its primaries, meaning that the winner-take-all system is out the window and a brokered convention becomes more likely.

I will agree that this rules change makes it more likely than ever, but I still think a brokered convention is extremely unlikely. The argument that the compression of the primaries won't give a frontrunner time to emerge and gain momentum is negated by the Feiler Faster Thesis -- the news cycle has become so compressed that there is still plenty of time for those lagging behind to be pressured to drop out.

A brokered convention is a political junkie's fantasy, but it's very unlikely to happen.

In a related thought, what would happen if a major hurricane were to hit Florida on November 4 of next year and Florida ended up being the deciding state again?
The Gelding of the American Male

Well, I think I'd better get around to commenting on Kim du Toit's explosive rant on why we don't have "real men" anymore and the damage that this is doing to society. Also be sure to read Spoons take on it. Basically, I think that Kim is right in the essentials of his rant, and Spoons is correct in nitpicking a few problems with it.

Among the reasons for this situation that Kim doesn't mention is the decreasing need for manual labor. A century ago, over 95% of the men in this country earned their living by working with their hands. Today, very few men have had the same benefit of growing up on a farm that I did. We have so many creature comforts that we have become soft. Most American men now sit in front of a computer screen during the day and make telephone calls as I do, instead of digging a stump out of the ground or chopping firewood or hoeing weeds all day (stuff I did growing up).

Kim is right that this phenomenon has had profound effects. I think we see that in the reaction to the War in Iraq. We see more and more people whining for the troops to come home, because we've lost a couple hundred soldiers since May. Sure, each loss is tragic, but during Vietnam we frequently lost over 500 soldiers a week. The loss of a few soldiers is taken as evidence that we "don't have a plan." How about toughing it out until the job is done and killing all the terrorists we can find? That sounds like a plan to me, but I'm afraid that Americans increasingly disagree. Can anyone out there doubt that America is losing its manhood?

All of that said, there's another criticism of du Toit essay that I'd like to make. Maleness does not equal honor, and it seems to me that the lack of honor is what du Toit is really criticizing. Moving away from the natural state, learning to curb our natural impulses -- this is what has allowed us to create what we call civilization. The changes that have occurred in our society are not all bad. Do we really want to go back to the days when wife-beating and workplace sexual harrassment were freely tolerated? I don't think we want to go back to the days when an aspiring actress had to perform on the casting couch before she was allowed to perform on screen. Nor do I want Marlon Brando's Stanley Kowalski to be a role model that we decide to emulate. I wish that Kim's essay had included that kind of clarification.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Wictory Wednesday

Every Wednesday, I participate in this drive to raise money and volunteers for President Bush's campaign. Please do your part.

President Bush remains in very solid shape to win re-election. One of the odd things I noticed about the new Marist poll is that more people say that they will "definitely vote against" President Bush (44%) than will vote for any of the Democrats in a head-to-head contest. It's easy for a lot of people to say that they'll vote for someone else -- until they have to consider the alternatives. Just wait until Karl Rove gets the TV commercials running. (UPDATE: Best of the Web noticed the same thing.)

By the way, David Broder is right that the compressed primary schedule will hurt the Democratic nominee.

Here's a list of the other bloggers participating in Wictory Wednesday:

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Dennis Miller gets it

Justifying the Iraq War:

You can take only so much. They blow up an embassy. We hold back; we try to be reserved. They blow up the U.S.S. Cole, it gets heated up even more. They blow up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Listen, I'm telling you, this country wouldn't have been America if somebody didn't get its ass kicked.

That is the sentiment that a large number of Americans feel and is almost completly unrecognized by the intellectual elite. Saddam "had it coming to him."

Monday, November 03, 2003

Another pickup opportunity for the GOP

Sen. Graham's decision not to seek re-election means that the Democrats chances of holding their ground in the U.S. Senate become even longer. I think that it is very likely that Republicans will win three of the four open seats in the South next year. The GOP should be favored in each race at this point. Keep in mind, too, that the Democrats may still not be done with the retirement announcements -- Louisiana's own John Breaux has been dropping hints that he may retire.

Bottom line: the GOP will gain seats even if the Democrats are able to pick off Illinois and win an upset in Oklahoma or Alaska.

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