Wednesday, July 2 2003
HELPING THE DEMS COMMIT SUICIDE: If Republicans want to make sure President Bush is reelected next year the best thing they can do is to get online and contribute $20 - to Howard Dean's campaign. You think I'm joking?

Dean's phenomenally successful fundraising efforts this past quarter have catapulted him into the top tier of Democratic candidates and make him a legitimate threat to win the nomination. Despite the best efforts of Bruce Reed, Al From, and other DLCers to snap the party out of its current bout of hysteria, a growing portion of the base is looking more and more content with getting on the Dean train and riding it straight over the cliff. Republicans should be happy to give them a shove.

By contributing millions of dollars to Dean's campaign over the next few months, Republicans can ensure the good doctor stays at the top of the pack and has as loud a megaphone as possible. Another $7 million quarter and Dean will be well positioned to win Iowa and to spend whatever's necessary to beat Kerry in New Hampshire.

Don't worry, helping Dean isn't going to hurt President Bush: he just scooped up $34 million in the last six weeks and is on track to raise something close to $200 million for his reelection bid. Besides, allocating a small percentage of resources to try and engineer the best possible match up in the general election is smart politics - just ask Gray Davis. And George Bush is no Gray Davis.

Tossing a few million Dean's way to help propel him to the nomination will be money well spent: the guy is flat out unelectable. He was against the war, has no military or foreign policy experience and doesn't even know how many people are in the U.S Armed Forces. He's against tax cuts. He's sort of against the death penalty and sort of for gay marriage - though it's tough to tell because his positions continue to "evolve" and he doesn't offer direct answers.

If the economy improves over the coming year - and the indications are that it's going to - Dean will be lucky to win Vermont in 2004. And after his recent appearance on Meet the Press, you'd have to consider George W. Bush to be the favorite in any debate.

So I'm off to Howard Dean's website to chip in twenty beans. I suggest you do the same. Political parties only commit suicide every so often, and if the Dems have decided they're going to stick their head in the oven in 2004, I'm ready to pony up a few bucks for a chance to watch it happen.

IL SENATE UPDATE: Time for a quick update on the Illinois Senate race. Two more candidates jumped in the race this past week, Andy McKenna and John Cox. Two more, Jim Oberweis and John Borling, are expected to announce soon.

McKenna seems to have some strong establishment backing and will be a legitimate contender. Cox, on the other hand, is running for the third time in four years (IL10 in 2000 and U.S. Senate in 2002) and doesn't have a prayer of winning the nomination. Oberweis finished second in the 2002 GOP Senate primary here and has the resources to be competitive, but it's hard to see his campaign catching fire. Borling is a wildcard. He's a highly decorated Vietnam veteran and former POW, but whether he can parlay his story into a successful candidacy a la John McCain remains to be seen.

Meanwhile Jack Ryan, the only announced GOP candidate for Senate, continues to make the rounds and build his profile. Tom Roeser, the dean of conservative journalists/broadcasters here in Illinois, recently interviewed Ryan and seems to have been impressed.

On the Democrats' side, things are relatively quiet. Comptroller Dan Hynes remains the nominal front-runner. Hynes main rival, gazillionaire Blair Hull, is currently touring the state blasting Bush on the war and on tax cuts. Meanwhile another top tier candidate, State Senator Barack Obama, just received the first major endorsement in the Senate race from U.S. Rep Lane Evans. - T. Bevan 8:24 am

Tuesday, July 1 2003
HOMELAND SECURITY: How much should we spend on Homeland Security? Tim Russert led off Meet the Press with this comment: "first, this new task force report just out this morning warning that the United States may not be ready to respond to another terrorist attack." In the course of his interview with Dr. Jamie Metzl and former New Hampshire Senator Warren Rudman, we were bombarded with the point that the country is woefully unprepared for the next terrorist attack.

Listening to the ominous descriptions of how first responders are underfunded, my first thought was, "so what?" Maybe it's because I know there is no amount of spending that will make us 100% secure. I mean, it's not like we aren't spending money on Homeland Security. The last I heard we were spending billions. Dr. Metzl says:

We went around the country meeting with emergency responders, meeting with policemen, with firemen, with public health officials, and uniformly, we were told that they did not feel that they had the equipment they needed to do what the public expected of them. And we were really concerned about it. I mean, that was the basis of this report, and it wasnít about taking any potshots at anybody. Itís not a Democratic issue. Itís not a Republican issue. Itís a national issue about security and preparedness, particularly after 9/11 when we know that there are people out there who want to hurt us.

I live and work in downtown Chicago. There is a local firehouse a block away from our home and it doesn't bother me one bit if they don't have 10 brand spanking new hazmat suits. I don't want every firehouse in cities across this country to be loaded up and prepared to deal with a full fledged nuclear, chemical or biological attack.

If we made sure every "policemen, firemen, and public health official" in America had all the equipment they needed we would be LESS secure in the long-run , not more.

What's rarely, if ever mentioned, is that all of the time, energy, spending and focus on Homeland Security comes at a cost. It's a significant cost, too, as it is a constant and permanent drag on economic growth in the country. Don't get me wrong, I'm not making an argument for spending nothing on security. Obviously there are prudent and reasonable measures we can take that will dramatically improve the nation's safety. These steps will cost money and the country needs to be willing to spend that money.

But the problem with Russert's program on Sunday and the whole debate on Homeland Security is the lack of a cost-benefit analysis as to how much we should spend on making this country secure:

MR. RUSSERT: Our viewers this morning, I have no doubt, are saying, ďAll right. We have this problem. You identified it. Now, letís solve it.Ē And it always comes down, in any times, to money. MR. RUDMAN: Absolutely. MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you a report: ďAmerica will fall approximately $98.4 billion short of meeting critical emergency responder needs over the next five years if current funding levels are maintained.Ē And here are the specifics: fire services, 36.8; urban search and rescue, 15.2; hospital preparedness, 29.6; emergency 911 systems, 10.4; communications, 6.8; public health, 6.7......
MR. RUSSERT: And you believe if this $100 billion over the next five years is made available, we would be better prepared? MR. RUDMAN: As long as the priorities are set by the department working with governors and with mayors, maybe itís not $100 billion, maybe itís $68 billion, maybe itís $112 billion. We know that the requirement is greater than we currently are appropriating.

Maybe it's $112 billion? Well guess what? If President Bush came out tomorrow and suggested we spend $115 billion, Hillary Clinton and Tom Daschle would come out Thursday and say we need $150 or a $170 billion.

The point here is that the requirement of securing a country as large and open as ours is always going to be greater than what we are appropriating. To Russert's credit, there is this one line in the whole interview where he concedes this reality: "Dr. Metzl, you acknowledge no natural limit can be established. You could spend the entire gross national product and still be unprepared."

Our best defense in the long-run is maintaining our status as the world's preeminent economy. I prefer the Bush approach of going on the offense and taking this fight to the murderous terrorists who are plotting how to spread botulism or anthrax or nuclear materials in our cities. Our best Homeland Defense is to remain as strong as possible both economically and military, and to proactively root out and destroy the terrorist cancer.

Instead of 10 hazmat suits in every firehouse I'd rather see 10 U.S Special Forces in every terrorist's living room with a little red laser beam pointed at their forehead. J. McIntyre 7:33 am

Monday, June 30 2003
BUSH AND THE BASE: Last week provided somewhat of a measuring stick for President Bush among his conservative base.

Social conservatives agonized over Supreme Court rulings upholding affirmative action and striking down sodomy laws across the country and were disappointed when President Bush issued a statement "applauding" the former and making no public mention of the latter.

Meanwhile, fiscal conservatives fumed as they watched the Republican-led House and Senate pass a new $400 billion prescription drug entitlement last week at President Bush's urging. Donald Lambro details the growing anger among fiscal conservatives in the Washington Times this morning.

There have also been recent rumblings among pro-life groups who are adamantly opposed to President Bush's possible nomination of Al Gonzales to the Supreme Court.

So is President Bush in the process of alienating his base? Not according to this article in today's NY Times. Despite the disagreements many of the narrowly-focused constituencies on the right have with President Bush, there seems to be an overall appreciation of his character, integrity, and his unwavering commitment to U.S. national security. There also seems to be an understanding that Bush, like Reagan, is helping to facilitate a continued shift toward conservatism in U.S. public opinion:

Today, many conservatives say, American public opinion is shifting their way, so there is no reason to be impatient ó or to pressure Mr. Bush into doing things before the election that might hurt him next year.

"The Republicans are looking at decades of dominance in the House and the Senate, and having the presidency with some regularity," Mr. Norquist said. "So if this year the tax cut isn't the one we wanted ó no biggie. There's a sense that we can afford to wait."

This tolerance of Bush only runs so deep, of course, and if the economy doesn't enjoy a robust recovery the President can't afford to have conservative groups sitting on their hands next November.

Meanwhile, the upside for conservative groups in the coming election is bigger than ever: if the economy does spring back to life and conservatives come out en masse for the President, it could produce a landslide victory and an historic mandate for Bush and his conservative agenda. - T. Bevan 8:44am

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