Vol. 9, No. 2


In this issue:

1. Alito Shuffle
2. DeLay and Confuse
3. Moving the Market
4. Quick Hits
5. New at Reason Online—Under Her Thumb
6. News and Events

1. Alito Shuffle

The midterm elections begin today, or so the Democratic Party hopes. And party activists might be right about that. The Alito nomination might crystallize public unease with the Bush administration and give Democrats a rare consistent theme to campaign on in the fall. But don't bet on it.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has already demonstrated the problem for Democrats: She sounded like Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) in making the case that government is too untrustworthy to let one party control the House, Senate, and White House. She does not really believe that, and voters know it. And even thought Democrats are trying to broaden their differences with Sam Alito and the Bush administration beyond abortion and to the domestic spying scandal, that does quite ring true either. It was some career government official who blew the whistle on the warrantless searches by the NSA, not the loyal Democratic opposition.

Most of all, the focus on the question of presidential power gives Alito the opportunity to draw a distinction between his position and that of the lawyers in the Bush Justice Department-assuming there is one. That could leave him essentially agreeing with Democrats on some points, thereby disarming the issue and showing his independence. But that remains to be seen. The actual questioning of Alito, as opposed to the boilerplate opening statements, will have to tease that out, not to mention comprise the first big political fight of the new year.

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2. DeLay and Confuse

The other big source of Democratic hopes for 2006 is found in the person of now ex-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.). DeLay's campaign finance legal woes back in Texas claimed his leadership slot, but he will still be a featured part of all Democratic house campaigns.

Republicans intend to replace DeLay with a Midwesterner, as that region will again feature the most contested house races, but it will not be Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who has waged a lonely battle against the GOP spending spree from his post as head of the Republican Study Committee. Pence has decided not to stand for that election.

One of the biggest GOP advantages for 2006, however, is that Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) remains minority leader. Pelosi has not exactly forged a disciplined message for Democrats, instead allowing the agenda to be set largely by outside groups, along with the odd news story of the moment.

3. Moving the Market

This could be a big week for the stock market. Should the Dow stay above 11,000 with a broad advance, an important psychological barrier could be breached. Investors would finally begin to put the various shocks that started with the bubble-bursting first quarter of 2000, continued through the funny-money phase embodied by Enron in mid-2001, was rocked by 9/11, and has continued with various oil, terror, and weather shots ever since.

There is also an important number to keep in mind: 11,722, the Dow's all-time high, which was reached just about exactly five-years ago. That is the truly magic number and will be serious milestone if it is ever topped. Staying above 11,000 is obviously a necessary first step in that process, but that is very scary to many investors who still remember losing 10 or 15 percent a day not long ago.

Consequently there could be some real jagged moves in the coming weeks as investors try to test the ground and see if it is really firm, or another illusion.

4. Quick Hits

Quote of the Week

"Urban coyotes are more active at night than their rural counterparts, so humans don't see a lot of their activity." -Researcher Stanley Gehrt of Ohio State University on Chicago's quite thriving coyote population which may number as many as 2,000.

Stern Stuff

Howard Stern kicks off his satellite radio show talking to George Takei about anal sex and whether "cuntie" is a bad word.

Cheney Watch

Vice President Dick Cheney is out of the hospital, but worries about his health are not gone. If anything, concern that he has some sort of chronic circulatory issue is bound to increase.

Nuclear Spring?

Is the United State planning to nuke Iran? Is Israel?

5. New at Reason Online

Under Her Thumb
Congress acknowledges family violence strikes men too. Cathy Young

In Praise of Leaks
Hunting for the line between whistleblowing and treason. Julian Sanchez

Who's Afraid of Human Enhancement?
A Reason debate on the promise, perils, and ethics of human biotechnology.

And much more!

6. News and Events

Get liberated with Ronald Bailey's brave new book for a brave new world!

In his new book, Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution, Reason's Ronald Bailey examines the scientific and ethical controversies surrounding everything from stem cell research to therapeutic cloning to longer life spans to genetically modified food.

Buy Liberation Biology in hardcover from Amazon for just $18.48!

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