Friday, February 29, 2008

It's Still Cold Out

Last post I complained about the mainstream media and their biased coverage of global warming. While this is a concern, the real problem is the people who are feeding biased information to the media.

Before James Hanson introduced the idea of greenhouse gases and global warming, major terrestrial climate events were ascribed to a complicated series of external events. These included irregularities in the earth's orbit, a minor wobble on the earth's axis, and long term shifts of ocean currents. These were carefully plotted out and considered sufficient explanation for ice ages and warm periods.

The greenhouse gases reached the public consciousness. Many climatologists now consider greenhouse gases the only driver of climate. Al Gore (not a real scientist but he plays one in documentaries) is one of these. Another is the web site Realclimate which Gore recommends.

So here's the thing, temperatures peaked a decade ago and declined a tiny bit over the last decade then dropped over the last year. See here.

The global warming alarmist had an explanation for why the temperature seemed to plateau. They simply said that the oceans were absorbing the extra heat but would soon fill up and catastrophic warming would start in again. This may explain the last decade but there is no way that they can explain the last year.

At one point in An Inconvenient Truth, Gore shows a graph of CO2 emissions and a graph of temperatures. It would appear that one causes the other. RealClimate has reduced the argument similarly. Months ago they said that even if their models were wrong, global warming must be happening. Just look at events like melting glaciers and the polar ice cap.

CO2 emissions have not declined a bit. They have increased although the rate of increase has been slowed a bit.

If you believe that the only driving force in climate is greenhouse gases then the world temperature has to have increased, or at least stayed steady. There is no room in this over-simplification for a cooling earth.

So what do they have to say about the current cooling? Nothing. RealClimate is silent on the subject. The closest that they come is to acknowledge that the Antarctica has cooled. They then go on to dismiss this since Antarctica "is covered with a gazillion tons of ice".

This is what upsets me. They don't admit that there might be a problem with their models, even when it slaps them in the face. What if the cooling phase continues? Will they ever admit it?

This is where global warming starts looking like a religion. Everything is taken on faith instead of testable truth.

In science a theory is supposed to include a prediction that says if one thing happens then the theory is true but if it fails then the theory is wrong. That has happened. Even if the world resumes warming again, the current down-tick is not in the models so better models are needed.

In the meantime, can we start building power plants and stop putting food in our gas tanks?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It's Cold Out

Here in Ohio we are in the middle of yet another winter storm. Temperatures are running 20 degrees below normal. This is not just a local phenomena. The snow cover for the USA is the most in 50 years. Wisconsin which got very little snowfall the last few years set an all-time record. All of that Arctic ice melt that we heard so much about has reversed. The ice cover is back and thicker than normal. Australia apparently ended a long drought. Greece and Baghdad had snow.

So what does all of this mean? Probably nothing. There is La Nina event going on which is a Pacific cooling trend, the opposite of an El Nino.

The important thing is how this is being reported, or not reported. You can find science watchers remarking on it. Here is an example. Some conservative columnists have picked up on it.

What you don't find is any mention in the MSM. A bit over a year ago we had a warm Winter caused by an El Nino event. This was reported as a sign of things to come. NBC had the journalistic honesty to show someone saying that it was all because of the El Nino. The next weekday they had to retract it and show someone insisting that the warm spell was all global warming and a sign of future winters.

This shows how much the MSM has descended from reporting the news to being advocates. It is surely news that 2008 had the coldest January world-wide since 1984. If it had been in the top 10 warmest Januaries it would have been reported constantly.

Two problems are occurring. The first is that the weather isn't matching the script. It is supposed to keep getting noticeably warmer. When it does then it must be because of global warming and needs to be reported as such. When it doesn't then there is no story - or more accurately, the story cannot be run because it would make people doubt global warming.

The other problem is the abysmal ignorance that the MSM has about climate science. If the world has warmed around one degree in the last century then why would you expect to be able to see the difference from one year to the next or even one decade to the next. Even the six degrees that some models show for the next century would take careful measurement to confirm. The idea that you can look at any single weather event, especially one associated with a known phenomena, and say that it is global warming is ridiculous.

On the bright side, as long as the La Nina lasts we will be spared the endless stories about how global warming is happening now.

We might also have a comfortable summer.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hillary, Bush, and Obama

It is almost too easy to write about Hillary Clinton these days but I'm going to take a swing at her, anyway. Her current attack against Obama says, "We've seen the tragic result of having a president who had neither the experience nor the wisdom to manage our foreign policy and safeguard our national security. We can't let that happen again."

Obviously she means President Bush but her statements could as easily refer to her husband. Bill's foreign policy mistakes are many. His abrupt pull-out from Somalia convinced terrorists that America was a hollow tiger, easily bested. He blustered when Saddam expelled the UN weapons inspectors but only backed up his threats with a missile barrage. This left Saddam convinced that Bush would limit himself to a missile attack which Saddam could survive. When Clinton took office, relations between Israel and the Palestinians were getting better. In 1999, Clinton tried to push both sides to sign a final peace treaty containing terms that were unacceptable to elements on both sides. The result of this was a renewed violence that has yet to run its course. The AIDS crisis in Africa waited for funding until the Bush administration. I could go on.

As for national security, under Clinton the different branches of national security were walled off from each other. This was a big factor in 9/11. Clinton reacted to a bombing of the World Trade Center and US embassies in Africa as an annoyance rather than a pattern of escalating attacks.

But this is the model that Hillary would like to return us to.

Hope or Hype?

Barack Obama is being billed as a different kind of politician who will rise above partisan politics.

What would you expect of such a politician? His background should show that he is willing to work with the other side. He should vote his own mind, regardless of party position. He should be willing to take stands that will anger the party. He might even gain the reputation of being a maverick.

This sounds a lot more like McCain than Obama. While McCain has an 80+% record of voting for conservative causes, his differences have been notable. Conservatives hate McCain-Feingold. His immigration bill included amnesty which most conservatives loath, and he was one of the bi-partisan group that vowed to keep the Republicans from invoking the "nuclear option" in amending Senate rules.

By contrast, Obama has a 97% rating for voting with the Democrats. On specific issues, he only departed from the Democratic majority to vote against President Bush such as the ratification for Justice Roberts. In the Illinois Senate he dodged unpopular positions by voting present instead of yes or no.

Now, it is possible for a president to pass his agenda without compromise. Reagan did this. Democrats hated his proposals for tax cuts and government cuts. Democratic leaders offered alternative bills but Reagan pushed his preferred versions through anyway, despite the House being controlled by Democrats.

But Reagan didn't rise above partisan politics. Democrats hated him with a passion unmatched until the current George Bush. Many pundits trace the current polarized parties to Reagan's influence.

Obama has been compared to Reagan (and not just as an insult). He suggested it himself only to be slapped down for it by Hillary.

Here is someone at Huffington who sees Obama as the next Reagan. I think that he is off-target. Reagan's appeal was not just that he was so telegenic. He came with a whole new philosophy. He preached cutting taxes and limiting government. Obama has not expressed any new direction in government. His policies are similar to Hillary's and come down to something for everyone with lots of new taxes to pay for it all.

Obama's candidacy owes more to Oprah than Reagan. With her help, he has turned his name into a brand (including the "O"). Where Oprah gives everyone a car, Obama gives everyone $4,000/year for college.

Monday, February 25, 2008

McCain and the NY Times

I saw someone at the Huffington Post (sorry, I didn't save the link) describe the recent article about McCain as their gift to him. It sounds strange but this is probably correct.

The Huffer pointed out that the timing was favorable to McCain. The story has been floating around as a rumor since December. By running it now it can't hurt McCain's primary campaign. While he doesn't have the magic number of delegates yet, he is so close that no one else can stop him. Also voters will have forgotten it by November.

The article helped McCain in other ways. Nothing endears you to conservatives than the feeling that the New York Times is picking on you unfairly. By running a poorly sourced story about something that may or may not have happened in 1999 the Times has outraged conservatives. Fund raising is up. Instead of complaining about McCain not being conservative enough, Rush Limbaugh and other radio hosts are now defending him. This in turn has change how the McCain campaign is being reported. Until now the main story was conservatives rejecting him. Now the story is about how unfairly the Times treated him.

With some people this sort of story sticks and with others it is rejected. There was a story linking Bush (41) with a lady ambassador. Both parties denied it and the story died. On the other hand, when the stories started about Bill Clinton, they came complete with audio recordings. After that the best the Clinton campaign could hope for was that the next bimbo to confess would be attractive. McCain is well respected and this story will not stick.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Michelle Obama and Pride in America

"For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country, because it feels like hope is making a comeback." — Michelle Obama

This is a puzzling statement. There are several ways that she could have meant this. According to her husband's campaign:
“What she meant is that she’s really proud at this moment because for the first time in a long time, thousands of Americans who’ve never participated in politics before are coming out in record numbers to build a grass-roots movement for change.”
But she didn't say that she was proud for the first time in a long time. She said that she was proud for the first time in her adult life. It also begs the question about why she has never been proud before?

Most people are too timid to say it but she could have meant that she thinks little of her country because of perceived racism and she is finally proud because a black man has a good shot at winning the presidency. There is a good chance that this is how she thinks. Unlike her husband who some people think is not "black enough", Michelle was born to and raised by black Americans. This gives her a different perspective than her husband who was raised by his white mother and grandparents and, for a while, by a step-father in Indonesia.

While Michelle has done better for herself than most people, some racial incidents in her childhood may still factor into her views about her country. She has been quoted as saying that her husband could be shot just for going to the gas station. Clearly she is convinced that most whites are racists.

But Michelle is also a liberal (now known as a progressive). Many liberals follow the teachings of Noam Chomsky and others who insist that America is an evil empire that only brings harm to the world. She might feel like George Soros that the USA needs "de-nazification". This attitude is pretty common on the left.

Neither of these is a good attitude for a First Lady. I doubt that most Americans want to be hearing about institutionalized racism, especially from someone who is currently rich and powerful. Neither to Americans want to send a First Lady on a good will tour only to have her tell other countries why they should hate the US.

The trouble is that both of these possible explanations seem more likely than the one the Obama campaign is putting out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bubble Economies

Hillary spends a lot of time complaining about the housing bubble. According to her it is all Bush's fault for not providing proper regulatory supervision. The "Clinton" administration diesn't get off so lightly. It played its own role in today's economy.

Hillary and Bill like to boast about how well the economy did under the "Clinton" administration (I'm using quotes because Hillary tries to take credit for her husband's administration). It did do well but there are a couple of things to remember. The first is that NAFTA and foreign trade certainly had a lot to do with the economy in the 1990s and Hillary is running against NAFTA. More relevant is the Internet bubble.

Al Gore didn't invent the Internet but he did talk about an Information Superhighway. He didn't mean the Internet, he meant a new proposed system but the term was quickly applied to the Internet, especially after the invention of the web browser. This led to an explosive growth in the Internet. Companies were formed on a shaky business plan and quickly went public making their investors millions. Thousands of new companies were founded based on doing business on the Internet. Many of these companies financed themselves by paying shares to other companies and to employees. Just the aura of the Internet was enough to boost a company's stock prices beyond all reason. Look at AOL which was not even making a profit buying media giant Time/Warner based on stock market value (and look at how well that turned out). This was actually one of the more successful Internet mergers. Both companies survived and are still around in some form.

The Clinton administration was ecstatic. They openly boasted that they had built a new economy which was recession proof because it was international. High stock markets values were not a sign of anything except the potential limitless profits to come. The coming crash was so obvious that Doonsbury joked about it for a couple of over years before it actually came. No regulatory oversight there.

In 1999, Bill signed into law a measure that allowed banks to merge across state lines. This lead to mega banks.

When Bush took office in 2001 the Internet bubble had already burst and the economy was in mild recession. In addition to tax cuts and a rebate, Bush got the Fed to lower interest rates to historic lows. This stimulated the economy but led to other problems.

First, low interest rates drove down the dollar. Investors don't want to put money into the US if it will get a poor return.

The other problem was the credit explosion. People were refinancing and either spending the difference or buying a larger, more expensive house. With interest rates so low, people could afford to pay more for houses. This drove house prices to unrealistic amounts. People were also taking out second (or third) mortgages based on the new value of their house. The new mega banks encouraged people to treat the increasing value of their homes as something to be spent.

The Fed left interest rates too low for too long but without the Internet bubble, they would not have needed to lower them in the first place and without the bank mergers, it is unlikely that banks would have wrapped loans into security vehicles.

So yes, things happened under the Bush administration that could have been minimized but the Clinton administration had similar problems as will the next administration. At least no one in the Bush administration boasted about building a recession-proof "new" economy.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Inevitable Obama?

Assumptions change with lightening rapidity in this atypical election year. A couple of weeks ago Hillary was the front-runner who would finally sink Obama on Super-Tuesday. Super-Tuesday came and went with the two candidates essentially tied. Then a new count showed Obama slightly ahead. Then came a string of primaries in states that Hillary was polling poorly in.

Just last week the race was certain to go to the convention with each candidate holding enough pledges from superdelegates to keep the other from securing the nomination. More recently the pundits started assuming that the superdelegates will fall in line behind whoever has the most regular candidates. With that pronouncement, Obama seems like the eventual winner.

On the other side, I keep reading that McCain only came in first because Romney and Huckabee split the conservative vote.

There are problems with both opinions.

First, while Obama has a dedicated following, it has not been enough to secure the nomination. He may well win but the fact that the race is so drawn out shows that he only appeals to a portion of the Democratic party. Further, now that he has become dominate the progressive wing is taking a new look at his record and they are not sure they like what they see. True, he has an impeccable progressive voting record which appeals to him but it also puts him a lot further to the left than he presents himself. This will probably hurt him with swing voters. Also, he has been strongest in closed caucuses in red states. These are states that it will be very difficult for him to win in November. Hillary has been winning or coming close in the blue and purple states. Obama needs to keep all of the big states that Kerry won and add a new one like Ohio where Hillary is running way ahead.

Then there is McCain. Contrary to popular opinion, he is not ahead because his opponents split the social conservatives. He is ahead because, after Super-Tuesday, he had twice as many delegates as everyone else put together. Limbaugh and Dobson might convince some conservative voters to stay home but they are making the case to moderate swing voters that McCain is one of them.

Combine that with Obama's liberal record and you have some real problems for the Democrats in a year that they assumed they could not lose.

Of course, everything could change again in the next two weeks. Hillary could take Ohio and Texas, twist a few arms, and some out on top. Something could happen in Iraq to sour the surge which would hurt McCain. November is still a long ways away.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Obama-Rama-Givaway

Barack Obama isn't shy about making promises to the voters. At this campaign rally he promises:

  • Health care for everyone. You will still have to pay but he will cut rates.
  • Better pay for teachers.
  • Free summer school and after school programs.
  • College for everyone.
  • Paid long-term leave if a relative gets sick.
  • Higher minimum wage.
  • More unions.
  • Free child care.
  • Pay equity for women.
I'd like to know how he's going to pay for all of this. What happened to that fiscal responsibility that the Democrats campaigned on in 2006?


  • An end to the war in Iraq
  • 40+ miles per gallon on cars and
  • an end to middle-east oil imports

Maybe for an encore he will wave a magic wand and pixies will come out of his rear.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

It Takes a Democrat

A friend of mine thinks that there is no way that the Republicans can with the Presidential election but the Democrats can lose it. The surest way to do this will be for one candidate to be perceived as steeling the nomination from the other. This will cause a big part of the party to stay home in November which, in a tight election, would be enough to swing it.

Both Hillary and Obama are working hard at this.

Hillary is trying to have the delegates from Michigan and Florida seated at the convention. She won both states by a huge margin, mainly because she violated, in spirit, a pact with the other candidates not to campaign in these states. Now that she needs every candidate she is trying to get the DNC to reverse itself. Since she never said a word about her deep concerns for the disenfranchised voters in those states, one can only assume that her move is totally self-serving.

Obama is taking his own shot at changing the rules to help his campaign. He is arguing that the superdelegates should all vote for the person who has the most regular delegates, in effect doing away with the superdelegates. Again, he didn't worry about their undemocratic influence until it looked like they could cost him the nomination.

Both candidates have strong arguments in favor of their positions. There are financial benefits to being the first states to hold a primary and there is no reason that these should always go to the same states. Michigan and Florida are large states and denying them any delegates it pretty harsh (the Republicans halved these states' delegate count which seems much more fair). On the other hand, a lot of Democrats didn't bother to vote since they knew it was a waste of time and Hillary's name being the only one on the ballot gave her a huge advantage. The only really fair (but expensive) resolution would be to insist that these states vote again. Hillary has not mentioned this.

While Obama can make the case that, as front-runner, he is the choice of the people, Hillary's campaign has pointed out that his biggest wins were in caucus states which are the least democratic. The superdelegate system was originally set up just for a situation like this. If neither candidate can get enough delegates then both should be scrutinized carefully. In the absence of an overwhelming victor, the candidate who is slightly ahead may not be the strongest candidate in the general election. At the very least, it gives the party a chance to select the candidate who best represents the party.

This happened in 1984. Walter Mondale was supposed to be the candidate but Gary Hart was doing well. The unions who had endorsed Mondale called in favors from superdelegates and Mondale clinched the nomination (they should have reevaluated this process after Mondale lost to Reagan in an historic landslide). Obama may be the strongest candidate but there are several factors working against him. His youth and enthusiasm is easily countered by McCain's experience.

Of course, the real purpose of the superdelegates was to allow party leaders to cut deals with the candidates. For minor party members this means pork, for major ones it means cabinet positions. It is backroom dealing at its worst but forcing these party leaders to give up this power will anger many of them. Obama needs an enthusiastic party behind him, not a party lead by people he already slighted.

At the least, both candidates should distance themselves from these efforts to change the rules after the fact. There are plenty of people willing to fight these battles independent of the candidates. That would let them take the high road. This is especially true for Obama. There is a lot of pressure on the superdelegates to vote for him. By entering this fight he tarnishes his image as a new-style candidate.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Berkley and the Marines

Last week, the City of Berkley sent a letter the the Marine recruiting office informing the Marines that they were there without the consent of the Council which wanted them to leave town. The Council also reserved the parking space in front of the office for Code Pink, granted Code Pink a perpetual permit to protest, and encouraged them to do so. This covers several issues, many of them troubling.

When approaching a situation such as this I try to look at all of the angles, something that the Berkley City Council did not do.

First there is the letter. This is insultingly rude and shows what a mockery the left's "oppose the war but support the troops" slogan is. While the Council claims that they only took this action in response to President Bush's foreign policies, statements made at the time show that many council members are outright anti-military. That said, the letter was a meaningless resolution and is allowable. This is a free speech issue which everyone should be able to enjoy.

Things get more worrisome from there.

I have noted before that there does not appear to be any facet of modern life that is so innocuous that someone doesn't protest it. Even the Weinermobile draws protests from vegans. The government's job is to be neutral in these protests. No anti-abortion groups have been given as much access to protest Planned Parenthood as Berkley gave to Code Pink. If the precedence stands then other cities could give similar preferential treatment to causes. Not all of these causes are liberal ones. The result is that, even if you support this particular action, you are unlikely to support what it will lead to.

Someone from Berkley might argue that it is the role of government to pick ad choose among various causes. This is authoritarianism. I suggest that they buy this book for some new ideas.

Besides, the Council's actions hurt more than the Marines. Other businesses are on that block and the Code Pink protests close access to all of them. Does the Berkley City Council believe that any business that allows a recruiting station as a neighbor is complicit and should also be punished? They deserve equal protection under the law, also.

Code Pink's protests should be allowed (free speech again) but in such a way that they do not interrupt the recruiting center or the surrounding businesses. Just like anti-abortion protests.

The final issue here is that Berkley is part of the United States. Its members have a duty to support the laws and constitution of the state and nation as well as their own whims. In this case they are trying to withdraw from part of their obligation - to contribute to the national defense. They may not agree with Bush but, as elected officials, they still have to support the government in an official capacity. They cannot pick and choose. Again, the precedent is undesirable by both sides.

In the 1790s, some western counties decided that they did not like the tax on Whiskey and openly rebelled. President George Washington raised and army and put down the rebellion.

I would not suggest that George W. Bush should personally ride into Berkley at the head of troop but the government is justified in taking action. There is talk of cutting federal funds by $5.3 million. That seems fair. They benefit from being part of the United States. They should allow their young people to volunteer to defend it.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The "Next" JFK

Obama Barack has been hailed as the next JFK by no less personages than Kennedy's daughter and brother. What the heck does that mean?

Is Obama proposing a legislative agenda similar to Kennedy's? This is a trick question. A recent Doonsbury strip had two college students talking about the Kennedy legacy. Since they were born 20 years after Kennedy's death they decided that they would have to Google to find out his legislative legacy. The punchline (such as it is, and you have to already know it or look it up) is that Kennedy didn't get any substantial legislation passed. This is a point of similarity with Obama who hasn't proposed anything but its not much of a campaign platform.

Obama's big claim to the presidency is his judgment. He says that he was always against the war and that this proves how intuitive he is. Actually, he is against war in general. If one goes poorly then he looks smart, if it goes well then he looks bad. Contrast this with Kennedy. Kennedy was a cold warrior. He actually ran to the right of Nixon in 1960. He claimed that the Republicans had allowed a missile gap (the Russians had more missiles than we did). It wasn't true but it got him into the White House. Once there, he allowed the Bay of Pigs to proceed. He also stationed missiles in Turkey which caused the Russians to place some in Cuba. The resulting confrontation brought the world as close to a total nuclear exchange as it is likely to get. There is no way that Obama will run as an anti-communist (or anti-anything else) hawk.

Kennedy's most lasting achievement was the space race but this was an offshoot of the cold war. We only went to the Moon because the Russians had beaten us to orbit. Obama is not proposing any lofty goals nor any competition with rivals.

On taxes, Kennedy proposed tax cuts (these actually passed under LBJ). Obama wants to repeal the Bush tax cuts, effectively raising taxes. He had talked about other tax plans.

In fact, on almost every issue of policy, Kennedy had a different position than Obama. Kennedy didn't even call himself a liberal. It was after his death that his brothers moved to the far left. Obama is actively courting the left (using the code term "progressive") and has an immaculate voting record on partisan issues.

So why do we remember Kennedy so fondly and why would Obama want to be thought of the same way?

Kennedy was the first media president. He was young, rich, hansom, and married to a lovely wife. He had a distinguished war record and a Pulitzer Prize. He was popular the same way that Brad Pitt is popular. His assassination increased his appeal as did comparisons to Johnson and Nixon, neither of whom had charisma.

This is where Obama is comparable. He is running for the presidency on little more than his personal charisma. He is under qualified and inexperienced but he is asking people to overlook this on the basis of his personality (and an opinion on other candidates' voting record). Like Kennedy, he has the potential to be popular but ineffective.

For years Democrats have wondered how they could lose when they run candidates who are right on all of the issues. The answer is that a) your issues are not the voting public's issues, and b) people realize that a President has to deal with more than a handful of partisan issues so they vote for the better leader. In Obama, the Democrats have a different candidate - one whose record isn't as important as the candidate himself.

Of course, Obama still has to beat Hillary Clinton and the established Democratic machine then beat McCain who has some personal charisma of his own as well as a whole lot more experience and a less partisan appeal.

In the end, it is better to be the next Reagan - personally popular and effective.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Learning from the Democrats

Watching Hillary move to the left, it is easy to forget the circumstances of the 2000 election. Republicans are currently presented with a choice similar to what the Democrats faced two elections ago.

Bill Clinton promised to be a moderate/liberal when he was elected in 1992. When Republicans took Congress in 1994 he moved to the right in a policy known as triangulation. This put him to the right of most Democrats and, theoretically, to the left of Republicans. In practice, he allowed the Republicans to pass much of their agenda then took credit for moderating it. Clinton's principal achievements in office - Welfare reform, balanced budget, etc., are all from the Republican playbook.

The liberal wing of the Democratic party hated this. In 2000 they wanted an openly liberal candidate. What they got was Al Gore who ran as a moderate continuation of the Clinton administration. He was opposed by a moderate Republican (most liberals would swallow broken glass rather than admit it but Gore and Bush were in general agreement on most issues).

A lot of liberals refused to vote for another moderate candidate. They either stayed home or cast their vote for Ralph Nader as a protest vote. Nader claimed that there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between Gore and Bush and his supporters agreed. Many of them were willing to suffer through four years of a Republican administration in order to move the party to the left.

Instead they got eight years and a president who they hate with a passion.

But their gambit worked. In 2004 Dean's big applause line was that he was from the liberal wing of the Democratic party. He didn't make the ballot but he gained control of the party.

Now, in 2008, both of the main candidates (plus Edwards) are all running as liberals. They don't use the word any longer, preferring "progressive", but they are far to the left of Clinton and they are openly to the left of Kerry's platform (Kerry may have been a liberal but he didn't advertise it).

So, are the Democrats happy? After all, their plan worked.

I don't think that they are happy. Many Democrats have spent the last seven years cursing Nader and wishing that Gore had won. Certainly Gore has moved to the left in recent years. They may have been quite happy with him.

What's more, they've spent the last seven years alternating between a deep funk and railing against every action Bush takes. It's hard to be happy when you've spent so much effort hating someone for so long.

The Republicans now have a similar choice. McCain is the clear front-runner with more than half the delegates. Its possible that the Democratic race will not be settled until the convention giving McCain a better-than-expected shot at the White House. The trouble is that he is an inconsistent conservative. James Dobson, for example, has vowed that he will never vote for McCain. The social conservatives hope to force future candidates to the right by sabotaging the 2008 election.

The question is will they have buyer's remorse? Will the prospect of a more acceptable candidate in 2012 or 2016 make up for 2-8 years of Hillary or Obama? Judging from the Democrats' example, it would be far preferable to have a moderate Republican in the White House than a progressive Democrat.

So Republicans need to suck it up and work for their candidate instead of marginalizing themselves.