Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Sportsman of the Year

Congratulations to the Red Sox for winning Sports Illustrated's Sportsmen of the Year. They indeed had a heckuva run.

But the real sportsman of the year is Pat Tillman.

Medical Grand Rounds

Medical Grand Rounds is a weekly summary of the medical blogosphere. This week's edition is now up.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Gotta love France

Film made in France ruled not French

The latest film from French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, A Very Long Engagement, has been declared not French by a Paris court.

The film, which lands in theatres in North America on Friday, was shot in France using French actors and a French crew.

However, the administrative court ruled that the film does not qualify as Gallic...
(Via Dave Barry.)

New York Times Editors Regurgitate Democrat Talking Points -- Without Even Checking Them Out First

Oh, That Liberal Media! has the story.

Unspectacular sales due to bargain hunting or unexpectedly robust sales at high prices?

Are these guys reporting the same story? Check out these two stories on the weekend's holiday shopping.

But consumers were mainly snapping up bargains, not full-priced goods, fueling retailers' expectations for a solid -- not spectacular -- Christmas.

--Reuters, Nov. 28, commenting on weekend holiday shopping

Near-record crowds turned out for the holiday shopping season's Thanksgiving weekend kickoff, bringing with them unexpectedly robust sales gains to many malls and retail chains across the country....

Much of the action took place at higher price points. "It's the upper end that's really carrying the day,"...

--The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 29, commenting on weekend holiday shopping

The State Department Republican Underground

Bunker Mulligan points to a blog called The Diplomad. Here is part of the blog's self-description:
A blog by career US Foreign Service officers. They are Republican (most of the time) in an institution (State Department) in which being a Republican can be bad for your career -- even with a Republican President!
Lots of good stuff on Castro, France, the UN and the like.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Gobble gobble

A Thanksgiving message from the President:
All across America, we gather this week with the people we love to give thanks to God for the blessings in our lives. We are grateful for our freedom, grateful for our families and friends, and grateful for the many gifts of America. On Thanksgiving Day, we acknowledge that all of these things, and life itself, come from the Almighty God.

Almost four centuries ago, the Pilgrims celebrated a harvest feast to thank God after suffering through a brutal winter. President George Washington proclaimed the first National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, and President Lincoln revived the tradition during the Civil War, asking Americans to give thanks with "one heart and one voice." Since then, in times of war and in times of peace, Americans have gathered with family and friends and given thanks to God for our blessings.

Thanksgiving is also a time to share our blessings with those who are less fortunate. Americans this week will gather food and clothing for neighbors in need. Many young people will give part of their holiday to volunteer at homeless shelters and food pantries. On Thanksgiving, we remember that the true strength of America lies in the hearts and souls of the American people. By seeking out those who are hurting and by lending a hand, Americans touch the lives of their fellow citizens and help make our Nation and the world a better place.

This Thanksgiving, we express our gratitude to our dedicated firefighters and police officers who help keep our homeland safe. We are grateful to the homeland security and intelligence personnel who spend long hours on faithful watch. And we give thanks for the Americans in our Armed Forces who are serving around the world to secure our country and advance the cause of freedom. These brave men and women make our entire Nation proud, and we thank them and their families for their sacrifice.

On this Thanksgiving Day, we thank God for His blessings and ask Him to continue to guide and watch over our Nation.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 25, 2004, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all Americans to gather together in their homes and places of worship to reinforce the ties of family and community and to express gratitude for the many blessings we enjoy.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-third day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-ninth.

The New York Sun has more on the history of Thanksgiving and the presidency.

Clinton and Rather: Birds of a feather?

We now know that 53% of Americans think Bill Clinton will be remembered primarily for the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Cori Dauber suggests that Dan Rather will become the Bill Clinton of the media, remembered first and foremost for the bogus document story.

Hi, Europe. Are you nuts?

Herb Meyer used to be special assistant to the director of Central Intelligence and vice chairman of the CIA's National Intelligence Council.

And now he's written an open letter to Europe. Here's how it starts:

Hi. Are you nuts?

Forgive me for being so blunt, but your reaction to our reelection of President Bush has been so outrageous that I’m wondering if you have quite literally lost your minds. One of Britain’s largest newspapers ran a headline asking “How Can 59 Million Americans Be So Dumb?”, and commentators in France all seemed to use the same word – bizarre – to explain the election’s outcome to their readers. In Germany the editors of Die Tageszeitung responded to our vote by writing that “Bush belongs at a war tribunal – not in the White House.” And on a London radio talk show last week one Jeremy Hardy described our President and those of us who voted for him as “stupid, crazy, ignorant, bellicose Christian fundamentalists.”
And here's the conclusion:

What worries me even more than all this is your willful blindness. You refuse to see that it is you, not we Americans, who have abandoned Western Civilization. It’s worrisome because, to tell you the truth, we need each other. Western Civilization today is under siege, from radical Islam on the outside and from our own selfish hedonism within. It’s going to take all of our effort, our talent, our creativity and, above all, our will to pull through. So take a good, hard look at yourselves and see what your own future will be if you don’t change course. And please, stop sneering at America long enough to understand it. After all, Western Civilization was your gift to us, and you ought to be proud of what we Americans have made of it.
Good stuff.

I've just ordered Meyer's latest video, "The Siege of Western Civilization," reviewed here by the Heritage Foundation's Rebecca Hagelin.

Thanks to the USMC, from Iraqis

Did you hear the one about the letter home from a Marine in Fallujah? Jonah Goldberg recounts:
Many residents of that besieged town left bedding for the Marines and soldiers, along with notes thanking them for liberating their town from the terrorists and inviting them to sleep in their homes if necessary.

Picking a grammatical nit with William Safire

William Safire writes,
The principled refusal of two House committee chairmen to be steamrollered into hasty passage of a pre-election-driven bill has flipped the previous bashing of the supposedly domineering Bush 180 degrees.
Steamrollered? C'mon. American Heritage buys it, but I don't.

When the painters give my house another coat, is it paintered? When those same painters kick a ball around afterwards, is a soccer game playered?

When Mr. Safire works, does a column get writered? Or perhaps columnisted? Is his current column being challengered by me?

Perhaps those two House committee chairmen refused to be steamrollered because they preferred to be steamrolled.

Update--Mr. Safire's response is less than illuminating:

Dear Reader:

As you can imagine, I've been swamped with e-mails responding to my column in recent months. I read them all, most assuredly, including yours. But I cannot begin to answer them individually or I would have no time left to write a column that delights, illuminates, stimulates or infuriates.

Ergo this automated response. (Curious how "automated" has replaced "automatic." And why do I use "ergo" when "therefore" will do?)

Don't take offense, and don't stop writing. I'll keep reading what you send me.


William Safire

Two recent polls from The Polling Company

Sappy good news:
[T]wo-thirds (67%) of Americans surveyed selected “visiting with friends and family” as their favorite thing about the Thanksgiving holiday.
Bad news for Bill Clinton (and the country):
Despite the fact that Monica Lewinsky's name is only mentioned two times in the new Clinton Presidential Center, a majority of Americans think of her or her affair with Bill Clinton when they reflect on the most memorable events of the Clinton Administration, according to a recent national poll of 800 adults. Respondents were asked to reveal what they thought Bill Clinton would be most remembered for while in office in an open-ended question unprompted by pre-arranged response categories.
(Hat tip for the latter link: Betsy.)

Pre-school madness

Dave Barry on one reason I left NYC:
In certain places, by which I mean Manhattan Island, serious parents start obsessing about Harvard before their child is, technically, born. They spend their evenings shouting the algebraic equations in the general direction of the womb so the child will have an edge during the intensely competitive process of applying for New York City's exclusive private preschools -- yes, PREschools -- where tuition can run -- and I am not making this figure up -- well over $15,000 a year. If you're wondering how on earth a preschool can get away with charging that kind of money, the answer is three words: really delicious paste.

But seriously, the question is: Why are these parents willing to go to such extremes, and spend so much money, to get a child into a certain nursery school? The answer is: They're insane.

No, that's unfair. They're simply people who want their children to have every possible academic advantage so they can get into Harvard, which admits only extremely high achievers, which a lot of the time means students whose parents have driven themselves insane.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

If America's not to blame, who cares about atrocities?

Laer Pearce--whose blog I recently found via Betsy Newmark (and so far I like it)--notes the far worse horrors allegedly committed by U.N. staff and soldiers (rape and sexual abuse of 150 Congolese girls age 12 to 15) than anything U.S. soldiers were accused of doing at Abu Ghraib.

He then compares the relative press coverage of the two incidents. Deafening silence on the Congo. And how many times did Abu Ghraib make the front page of the New York Times?

Read Laer's piece here.

LA Times: bias or just poor editing?

Laer Pearce notes some poor editing at the LA Times:
The LA Times sunk to new lows Sunday, editing key context out of an Associated Press story about the Red Cross' recent comments on Iraq. Their cuts could lead many readers to think the Red Cross was critical primarily of US actions at the mosque in Falluja, when, in fact, its context was much broader.
Laer reprints the article highlighting the omitted context.

Blog glossary question: Is it technically considered dowdification when a newspaper edits out key paragraphs from a wire service story and thus changes the meaning of the story?

Cryptic crossword fans

Keep your eye out for the Friday, November 26, copy of the New York Sun. It will have the paper's day-after-Thanksgiving cryptic crossword.


What media bias?

In the wake of one of our military's most successful campaigns, here in its entirety is what the current issue of Time has in the table of contents under "world":

  • Damage control: Video of a Fallujah shooting peels open a debate about self-defense and war crimes
  • What Soldiers Suffer: Combat "stress injuries"
  • War Game: Is the Taliban safe in Pakistan
Remember, at the cost of some 40 U.S. lives, the Marines and Army have just taken Fallujah, one of the worst dens of terror in the world. In the process they dispatched over 2000 enemy combatants and terrorists. What's more, they gave warning to the city ahead of time in hopes that innocents would evacuate. This was a great victory.

    And yet what Time sees fit to print are the above three articles. And people wonder why America thinks the mainstream press is biased.

    Update: Welcome, readers of Betsy's Page. If this is your first visit, feel free to have a look around. The main page is here.

    NYT news reporter versus the US, again

    Apparently the Association of Opinion Page Editors is far more tolerant of anti-American tirades that is the student body at Rockford (Ill) College.

    Here's what New York Times reporter Chris Hedges said in his address to the opinion page editors' annual conference (as reported by Opinion Journal's James Taranto, quoting The American Spectator):
    "We're absolutely reviled around the world, as we should be," Hedges said. "Our only friends are war criminals"--a reference, he explained, to Ariel Sharon and Vladimir Putin.

    America's amoral, bloodthirsty ways and the hate they generate would be much plainer to the American people, Hedges said, if only so many journalists weren't "trapped" by the government's war clichés and oriented to a Washington-centric view of the world. This group, he said, included his bosses at the Times.
    There is no indication in the article of why Hedges, notably not an opinion journalist, was a featured speaker at the conference (except to promote a book he had written).

    18 months ago, Taranto also reported on a Hedges anti-American tirade (this time quoting the Rockford, Ill. Register Star). That time round the audience, the Rockford College graduating class, booed Hedges off the stage.

    Another headline of the day

    Dan Rather Scrambles to Confirm Story of His Resignation

    Headline of the day

    Iran Suspends Uranium Enrichment, E.U. Suspends Disbelief

    Monday, November 22, 2004


    I thought that any fourth generation Republican Jewish American must surely be some relation to me.

    Then I came across this blogger and this freeper. And only one of the two is related to me.

    More on the shooting of a wounded terrorist in Iraq

    Last week I mentioned this perspective on the shooting of a wounded terrorist in Fallujah, from the point of view of a marine writing home from Iraq. I link again because it's worth reading.

    And here (via Andrew Sullivan) is an account by Kevin Sites, the photo-journalist who filmed the infamous footage.

    I recommend these two pieces as context for anyone who saw the video of the incident.

    More perspective on the incident here.

    Rooney: political agenda drove CBS to air anti-Bush forgeries


    Speaking at Tufts University on Thursday night, CBS's Andy Rooney attributed the motivation behind CBS's hit on President Bush based on forged documents to the political agenda of CBS News staffers. "There's no question they wanted to run it because it was negative towards Bush," the Tufts Daily's Keith Barry quoted Rooney as revealing during his remarks.

    Update: Here is the original article from the Tufts Daily:
    Rooney's own show, "60 Minutes," was involved in a public and politically charged flap when it unwittingly used false documents in a Dan Rather piece on Bush's National Guard service.

    "I am very critical of some of the people at CBS who make it apparent what their political leanings are," Rooney said. "That's what happened to this thing of Dan Rather's that got out. There's no question they wanted to run it because it was negative towards Bush."

    Teen ennui

    James Lileks:
    Two moms, two daughters. The mothers are dressed well, late 40s; one daughter is a lanky teen wearing the standard sullen LIFE SUCKS face, eyes darting around to see if anyone catches her doing something as STUPID as looking for Christmas ornaments with her Mom. If you could intercede, you’d say “see this here? This item your Mom is considering for this year’s tree? In 25 years you’re going to come across this in a box of stuff when you’re cleaning out her house and it’s going to stop you dead just to look at it. Either you’ll recognize it, and be reminded of all those Christmases you had that you’ll never have that way again, or you won’t recognize it – in which case you’ll wonder what was so terribly important that a Christmas at home with your folks went unrecorded in your teenaged mind. Loss or guilt, your choice. Maybe both.” But of course if you do that, they call the manager. The other child was 13 or so, not yet infected with the bleak soul-sucking ennui of American Teenhood, but clearly looking forward to the day when everything would suck as much as it sucked for the cooler older girl.
    My oldest is five, so I haven't yet dealt with this.

    (And do people really shop for Christmas ornaments before Thanksgiving?)

    Sunday, November 21, 2004

    A nerd's waste of time without redeeming social value

    I just saved a cartoon world.

    Saturday, November 20, 2004

    Jerry Mathers would be proud

    A.P. reports:
    Beavers found a bag of bills stolen from a video poker casino, tore it open and wove the money into the sticks and brush of their dam on a creek north of Louisiana Highway 48.
    (Via Dave Barry.)

    Friday, November 19, 2004

    On shooting a wounded terrorist

    I don't know what happened. But this is a powerful story.

    A liberal, in the classic sense of the term

    Steven Den Beste on classic liberalism:
    I am a humanist. I am a liberal, in the classic sense of the term, meaning that I think that the goal of a political system should be to liberate the individuals within it to have as much ability to make decisions about their own lives as is practical, with as little interference by other citizens or the mechanisms of the state. I strongly believe in diversity at every level: diversity of opinions, diversity of political beliefs, diversity of lifestyles. When in doubt, permit it unless it is clearly a danger to the survival of the state or threatens the health and wellbeing of those within the state.

    Another merger?

    In the wake of the K-Mart-Sears merger announcement, has anyone heard rumours about an impending merger of Stop & Shop and A & P?

    Apparently it'll be called Stop & P.

    K-Mart & Sears

    Tony Iovino of A Red Mind in a Blue State writes today,
    What is formed today with the merger of K-Mart & Sears is the biggest bankruptcy filing of 2007.
    Is he right? Who knows? I don't know much about the merger outside of what I've read in the paper the past couple of days.

    Overall it seems to me that much of the merger's potential seems to rest on the management instincts of Edward Lampert, the very successful 42-year-old hedge fund investor driving the deal. Not knowing much about Lambert, I for one am not rushing to buy the stock.
    My enduring image of Sears from decades past is the catalogue. When Sears dropped the catalogue in the early 1990s, what then was the store's image? Kenmore appliances, I suppose.

    The enduring image of K-Mart from decades past is the blue light special, and for the past decade, Martha Stewart. With her fall from grace, what is the image? Chapter 11 and store closings, I suppose.

    "Republicans Outnumbered in Academia, Studies Find"

    I'm shocked--shocked!--by these findings, as reported in the New York Times.

    Women's rights in Saudi Arabia

    In June I commented on the lack of women's rights in Saudi Arabia.

    Steven Schwartz, author of The Two Faces of Islam, has more on the topic:
    Most people, both inside the Saudi kingdom and outside it, would agree that it will be a cold, cold day before the rulers of Riyadh grant rights to women. Nevertheless, on a crisp, cold, and clear Saturday, November 13, a protest materialized in front of the fortress-like Saudi embassy in Washington, demanding freedom for women as well as the liberation of anti-extremist dissidents locked up by the world's most rigid Islamist regime.
    The article is discouraging. Apparently would-be government reformers are treated more harshly than, say, al Qaeda members and supporters.

    And the plight of women in Saudi Arabia is bleak. The article points to a glimmer of hope--a visible increase in "anti-extremist discontent with the Wahhabi dictatorship." It's a glimmer which does not seem very bright to me.

    Thursday, November 18, 2004

    U.N.: Blame the Jews for anti-Semitism

    Today's Opinion Journal carries a notable piece by Prof. Anne Bayefsky. I'll get to the piece in a minute. First a bit on the writer.

    I complain about the United Nations. Anne Bayefsky does something about it.

    Bayefsky's credentials

    Early last year she launched a web site dedicated to improving implementation of U.N. human rights treaty standards, by making such standards--as well as remedial mechanisms--more accessible, especially to the victims of human rights abuse. Since the site's launch early last year, it has reportedly attracted over half a million visitors from 96 countries.

    She has a fairly impressive human rights record. As her web site states, Bayefsky is

    the recipient of Canada's preeminent human rights research fellowship, the Bora Laskin National Fellowship in Human Rights Research. She is currently a member of the International Law Association Committee on International Human Rights Law and Practice, and Editor-in-Chief of the Series "Refugees and Human Rights," published by Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague.
    She is also a senior fellow at Hudson Institute. The list goes on, but enough on her credentials.

    The U.N.: Jews are responsible for anti-Semitism

    Back to the piece Bayefsky published today. She writes how the U.N. has essentially concluded that Jews bear the responsibilty for anti-Semitism.

    How did the U.N. reach said conclusion? Bayefsky documents how the U.N. relied on the advice of various so-called experts with records of espousing anti-Semitic (or nearly so) ideas. One advisor on the topic was denied a U.S. visa either because of espousing or endorsing terrorist activity or because of being considered a public safety risk or national security threat. For details, read the article.

    Bayefsky concludes,
    Another day, another U.N. meeting, another U.N. report, and another serious step backward in combating anti-Semitism.

    And don't forget, another American taxpayer dollar.

    Pathetic stuff. The U.N., that is, not the article.

    Further reading (by Bayefsky)

    Bayefsky knows whereof she speaks. For readers interested the U.N.'s approach to Israel and its attitude towards Jews and anti-Semitism, you may want to check out these recent articles, all by Bayefsky:

    Inadequate security?

    Some smart people think our security mechanisms are not up to the job.
    • Here is Heather MacDonald.
    • And here is Mark Helprin.
    Is our nation willing to accept that we are at war? For our sake, and our children's, I hope so.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2004

    (Source unknown.)

    Did Kitty Kelly plagiarize a blog? Can the NYT get a web site right?

    According to an article in today's New York Times, Kitty Kelly is being sued for plagiarizing a blog in her book on the Bush family:

    Seven paragraphs of material in the book, totaling about 400 words, repeat verbatim or closely track sections of Mr. Wilson's article, titled "George W. Bush's Lost Year in 1972 Alabama." The article, which can be found at www.southerner.net/blog/awolbush, was published on Feb. 2 on Mr. Wilson's Web site, Southerner Daily News. Ms. Kelley's book was released on Sept. 14.

    But reminiscent of Bob Dole in the 1996 presidential debates, the Times omits the last five characters in the web site URL. Anyone attempting to locate the site specified by the Times gets a message reading, "This page cannot be found." The appropriate web site title is http://www.southerner.net/blog/awolbush.html.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2004

    Jay Leno line of the evening

    "I haven't seen this many secretaries running from the White House since Clinton was president."

    Now that's a name for a blog

    Easily the most colorfully named blog yet to link to me is The Resplendent Mango.

    Why I will not support Amnesty International

    Back in May I posted an entry called Amnesty International moves further from relevance discussing Amnesty International's just-released annual report. Here's an excerpt:
    You are reading correctly -- the only country that AI's summary mentions as a perpetrator of human rights abuses is the U.S. No mention of terrorists as human rights abusers. No mention of countries that routinely torture their own citizens.
    The entire report contained no mention of human rights concerns in Cuba, China, North Korea or most of the former Soviet republics.

    And now Power Line posts a copy of a flyer advertising an upcoming Amnesty International meeting. The flyer, which was apparently posted around the Penn State campus, reads, "Pissed off about the election?... Come share your views and your anger..." It contains a picture of a boy stomping on a swastika. The implications are (1) AI is looking to attract Bush haters and (2) AI thinks that Bush is somehow associated with Naziism.

    And so the potentially great organization of Amnesty International has alienated me yet further.

    Boy, that Garrison Keillor is funny

    Some time ago I linked to a journalist deploring anti-Republicanism as socially acceptable bigotry.

    And never more socially acceptable than when practiced by Garrison Keillor.

    Or is my sense of humor just falling short on this one? Eugene Volokh doesn't think so.

    (Via Instapundit.)

    Principle and practice

    The Ancient Jew proposes a framework slotting political debate into one of two categories:
    • [Debate] based on enduring principles of right and wrong.
    • [Debate] where the question is less right vs. wrong, and more a question about efficacy and workability of a given policy.
    To the degree that my formal education addressed political debate, it centered on the former category to the unfortunate detriment of the latter.

    Monday, November 15, 2004

    Powell and three others are out. Six overall.

    The A.P. reports that six members of Bush's cabinet are on their way out:

    The White House on Monday announced [Secretary of State Colin] Powell's plan to depart along with the resignations of Education Secretary Rod Paige, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.

    Combined with the resignations earlier this month of Commerce Secretary Don Evans and Attorney General John Ashcroft, six of Bush's 15 Cabinet members will not be part of the president's second term...
    Here's an endorsement of Zell Miller for State. Is this quote for real?
    I don't much care what France thinks... they're just a buncha wine drinkin', crossandwich eatin' buncha pansies that make love with their mouth and ain't never seen no bath water ... the only beret worth wearin' is a green beret and they'd all be doin' the Sieg Heil shuffle if it weren't for our brave boys over there in Dubya Dubya Two. And Jock Chir-rack? I'd like to git that greased-up toe-licking mama's boy out behind a woodshed and slap him stem-whinin'. Problem is, he'd run like his feet was on fire and his ass was catchin', jes like all them damn frogs.

    In the wake of the election, he wants to emigrate

    Frenchman Fred Gion dreams of life in Red State America:

    I want to immigrate to Red State America.

    I mean it. I've just filled an entry form for the annual diversity visa lottery administered by the U.S. government. I've done it for the fifth time, and now the odds are on my side...

    The hope of the future, as I see it, is in America.

    See, I want my green card because I need smiles, not the constant pouting we live with in France. I want to live where people are happy with their lives and confident about what's to come. I want to live among people like those I saw at the Republican convention, which I stayed up late to watch on CNN International. Those folks looked like they were fun to be with. They looked optimistic, pleased to be there, none more than that successful European immigrant, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger...

    My family and I will be safer in America. Aside from Tony Blair, I don't think European leaders really understand the stakes in this war on Islamic terrorism. President Bush does...

    Read the whole article in the Dallas Morning News.

    (Via National Review's Rod Dreher at The Corner.)

    Safire to leave NYT

    William Safire's final op-ed column will appear in the New York Times January 24, 2005, though his Sunday language column will continue.

    My votes for a replacement: Mark Steyn or Mark Helprin.

    Election debrief

    Cox and Forkum:
    (Click on image to enlarge.)

    So long, Mr. Arafat

    Documentation of a lifetime of terror.

    (Via Oh, that liberal media!)

    More from Tom Wolfe

    From The Sunday Times (the one in England, that is):
    I was at a dinner party in New York and when everyone was wondering what to do about Bush I suggested they might do like me and vote for him. There was silence around the table, as if I’d said “by the way, I haven’t mentioned this before but I’m a child molester.”
    (Via Craig Newmark.)

    High-tech personal communication device professional journalists refer to as a "telephone"

    I like a bit of well-placed journalistic sarcasm. In this case Bill Steigerwald looks into some of MSNBC's Keith Olberman's voter fraud allegations:
    On Tuesday I checked out some of Olbermann's claims. Using a high-tech personal communication device professional journalists refer to as a "telephone," I called an elections bureau person...
    Steigerwald concludes by answering the question of why no major print or electronic outlet--except MSNBC's Olberman--pursued the story of Florida and Ohio voter fraud:
    I don't know, boys. Maybe it's because before they start making wild charges of "vote fraud," real journalists pick up a telephone.
    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

    Friday, November 12, 2004

    Outright falsehood

    Reading more of Kerry's 2003 campaign book, A Call to Service: My Vision for a Better America, I came across this passage on page 72:
    More than likely, George W. Bush will become the first president since Herbert Hoover to end his first term presiding over an econoomy with fewer jobs on his last day in office than on his first day.
    This is a demonstrably false claim that Kerry also repeated during the campaign. Don't know why nobody called him on it.

    In fact, four of the five prior elected presidents ended their first terms presiding over an economy with fewer jobs than when they started. Rusty Shackleford did the math using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    (Link via Andrew Hofer.)

    Ashcroft's record

    Jonah Goldberg:

    By conventional standards, Ashcroft was among the best attorney generals in American history. Violent crime dropped 27 percent on his watch, reaching a 30-year low. Federal gun crime prosecutions rose 75 percent, and gun crimes dropped - something that should please liberals. By unconventional standards his service was heroic. There hasn't been a single terrorist attack since 9/11, despite all predictions by experts and efforts by terrorists to the contrary...

    The chorus that treated him so shabbily says it's good such a "polarizing" figure is leaving. Fine. But maybe it's too bad the people who made him such a polarizing figure aren't.

    (Via Lorie Byrd.)

    Charitable states

    Apparently, red state residents give a higher portion of their incomes to charity than do blue state residents.


    The New York Post editorializes on how the Middle East is changing.

    Quote of the day

    Dutch blogger Arjan Dasselaar:
    On the one hand, I meet plenty of people, both Dutch and Muslim, who say they condemn the Van Gogh murder. But. They understand it.

    On the other hand, I meet a slightly smaller number of people, mainly Dutch and not as many Muslims, who say they don't want to condone the attacks on mosques. But. They understand it.

    May I offer a heartfelt raised middle finger to both groups?
    (Via Andrew Sullivan.)

    The Price of Freedom: Americans at War

    I'd like to visit the Smithsonian's new military exhibit, reviewed favorably here by the Washington Post.

    The Post's review makes a few--not all--aspects of the exhibit seem a bit more tainted by political correctness than I'd like, though not more so than the reviewer would like.

    (Via Ranting Profs.)

    Another concession from John Kerry

    "I also learned that not all of the Reagan proposals were bad."

    --John Kerry on page 71 of A Call to Service: My Vision for a Better America (2003, Penguin Group).

    Thanks, John.

    The more I read of this book, the happier I am that we did not elect Sen. Kerry.

    An African-American accustomed to voting Democratic or Independent writes, "Why blacks should give Bush a chance." His conclusion:
    Ideally, as many, if not more black Americans would vote Republican as Democratic. A party that respects us—by granting us the human privilege of self-empowerment—is the one that deserves our vote, regardless of whether or not that party gives evidence of thoroughly "liking" us. Our challenge is to achieve for ourselves, whether liked or not. If this is not an "authentically black" position to adopt, then the concept of black "authenticity" has become decidedly too abstract for me to grasp.
    (Via La Shawn Barber.)

    Thursday, November 11, 2004

    Quote of the day

    Tom Wolfe:
    I would vote for Bush if for no other reason than to be at the airport waving off all the people who say they are going to London if he wins again. Someone has got to stay behind.

    Simple prejudice in you

    I just came across this Phyllis McGinley verse:
    We might as well give up the fiction
    That we can argue any view.
    For what in me is pure Conviction
    Is simple Prejudice in you.
    Eric Ormsby quoted it in a review of the CD "American Wits" in yesterday's New York Sun. I've ordered the CD, which includes McGinley, Ogden Nash and Dorothy Parker reading their own poems.

    (I would link to the piece on the Sun's web site, but I haven't ordered a digital subscription. The Sun is the only daily I know which charges print subscribers an additional fee to access the paper online.)

    John Ashcroft's letter to the American people

    Read it here.

    Tuesday, November 09, 2004

    Kofi Annan versus the U.S.

    Not all New York newspapers behave as if they are house organs of the Democratic party. From today's New York Post:

    U.S. and Iraqi forces last night were heavily engaged in what may well be the decisive battle for Iraq's future.

    People of good will everywhere wish them well — but U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan wishes Operation Phantom Fury never got started.

    Last week, Annan wrote President Bush and Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Iyad Allawi, warning that an assault on Fallujah would alienate Iraqis and make it difficult to carry out the coming elections.

    Annan can't possibly be that naive.

    He's not; he simply opposes U.S. power. He opposed Operation Iraqi Freedom, calling the war in Iraq "illegal." And he opposes Phantom Fury.

    Read the whole thing here.

    (Via Betsy Newmark.)

    Monday, November 08, 2004

    Quote of the day

    National Review's Jonah Goldberg:
    Take the two leading liberal columnists at the New York Times, Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman. As we all know, one's a whining self-parody of a hysterical liberal who lets feminine emotion and fear defeat reason and fact in almost every column. The other used to date Michael Douglas.

    Thursday, November 04, 2004

    The election was rigged. Just ask the Loony Left.

    NYU professor Mark Crispin Miller has no doubt the election was rigged:

    First of all, this election was definitely rigged. I have no doubt about it. It's a statistical impossibility that Bush got 8 million more votes than he got last time. In 2000, he got 15 million votes from right-wing Christians, and there are approximately 19 million of them in the country. They were eager to get the other 4 million. That was pretty much Karl Rove's strategy to get Bush elected.

    But given Bush's low popularity ratings and the enormous number of new voters -- who skewed Democratic -- there is no way in the world that Bush got 8 million more votes this time. I think it had a lot to do with the electronic voting machines. Those machines are completely untrustworthy, and that's why the Republicans use them. Then there's the fact that the immediate claim of Ohio was not contested by the news media -- when Andrew Card came out and claimed the state, not only were the votes in Ohio not counted, they weren't even all cast...

    Read it all in Salon. Or if you don't want to sit through Salon's ad, read 90% of the article at the Democratic Underground, where you'll notice the commenters taking it all very seriously.

    (Hat tip to NoLeftTurns, the Ashbrook Center blog.)

    David M's prognostications

    I give myself a rating of fair on political prognostications in this blog:
    • On May 27 I predicted that Bush would be re-elected. Accuracy: Good.
    • On May 27 I predicted that Hillary would win the presidency in 2008. Accuracy: Unknown.
    • On September 30 I predicted that for every percent over 50 that a presidential candidate won in the popular vote, his party would pick up one Senate seat. Accuracy: fair to poor. Directionally I was accurate in that Bush won the popular vote and his party picked up Senate seats. But since Bush won 51% of the popular vote (garnering a three-point margin) my prediction would have yielded one new Republican Senate seat. In fact the Republicans picked up four seats.


    Peggy Noonan writes of a Bush mandate:
    While holding his margins among white men and married women from 2000, Mr. Bush expanded his vote among Jews (24% from 19%), and notably among the key swing blocs of Hispanics (42% from 35%) and Catholics (51% from 47%). He also rolled up larger margins in his Southern and Western base, while improving his vote in such "blue states" as Pennsylvania and Iowa. Just because an election is close doesn't mean it isn't decisive.

    ...Mr. Bush has been given the kind of mandate that few politicians are ever fortunate enough to receive. The voters expect him to use it.
    Albert Hunt predictably disagrees:
    An Impressive Victory; No Mandate

    Arafat, an obstacle almost removed

    As the world wonders whether Yasser Arafat has died, the Jerusalem Post writes that as long as Arafat is alive, the PA and PLO leadership bodies
    are unable to take any crucial decision on political and security matters without referring to him or his senior aides in Paris.
    That seems to be the problem. As long as Arafat is alive, he will be involved.

    And as long as Arafat is involved, as President Bush has made clear, there will be no real movement towards peaceful coexistence with Israel.

    Let us hope some real progressive leadership emerges for the PA.

    It's not for Iraq that the European Left hate Bush

    An American in Britain writes about European liberals' hatred of Bush:
    Bush was loathed by the British and European Left-liberals before he had done anything in office. He was detested purely and simply for what he was.... But the idea that the most recent wave of rabid anti-Americanism stems from mistakes in Iraq is simply absurd. Anyone whose historical memory goes back more than 10 minutes should recall the extraordinary effusion of hatred that spewed from sections of the opinion-forming class as a consequence of America being attacked.

    ... George W Bush is not hated here and in Europe because he removed a genocidal tyrant in Iraq and failed to anticipate the chaos that followed.

    He is hated because he is the embodiment of everything that the United States is, and Europe is not: not just enormously powerful, militarily and economically, but brashly confident and fervently patriotic. Where Europe is steeped in historical guilt and self-loathing - so immersed in its own unforgivable past that it is trying to fashion a constitution that actually prohibits national pride - America is profoundly proud of the success of its own miraculous achievement.

    (Via American Faith.)

    "Bush tax cuts are unfair to the rich"

    Steven E. Landsburg expounds on a theme I discussed a couple of months ago, but he has a somewhat different twist:
    So in the not too distant future, most of us will be paying higher taxes, but the rich will be paying a larger share of those taxes than anyone would have expected before the Republicans came to town. How should we feel about that?

    My own opinion is that the rich already pay too much—it seems patently unfair to ask anyone to pay over 30 times as much as his neighbors (unless he receives 30 times as much in government services, which strikes me as implausible). If you share my sense of fairness, you'll join me in condemning the president's tax policy.

    But if, on the other hand, you believe that the tax system should soak the rich even more than it already does—or, to put it more genteelly, that the tax system should be more progressive than it already is—if, in other words, you are a mainstream Democrat—then George W. Bush is your guy.
    (Hat tip: Hofer.)

    Wednesday, November 03, 2004

    Q & A on Iowa and the media

    Background: On Tradesports.com, the odds of Bush winning Iowa are 99% and have been for many hours.

    Question: Of the following news agencies, which one(s) have called Iowa for Bush?

    • ABC News
    • CBS News
    • NBC News
    • CNN
    • Fox News
    • NY Times
    • LA Times/AP
    • USA Today
    • Washington Post
    • WSJ/AP
    • Yahoo! News

    Answer: None.

    Kerry concession based on numbers more than principle

    Glenn Reynolds--and to some extent Ann Althouse--give Kerry too much credit when they praise the candidate's decision to concede:
    Congratulations to Senator Kerry for doing the right thing, particularly as I imagine he was facing pressure from some diehards to stretch things out.
    But Kerry's decision to concede was based not on altruistic principle but on a realistic assessment of the numbers in Ohio, as I laid out earlier.

    An e-mail message I just received from John Kerry himself backs up this thesis:
    I would not give up this fight if there was a chance that we would prevail. But it is now clear that even when all the provisional ballots are counted, which they will be, there won't be enough outstanding votes for our campaign to be able to win Ohio. And therefore, we cannot win this election.

    Nov. 3 News: Kerry could still win; Bush could win in a landslide. Really. Kind of.

    It's November 3 at 3 p.m. ET, and depending on your source of news, Wisconsin is either called for Bush, called for Kerry, or not called. Same with Iowa. New Mexico is either called for Bush or not called. Same with Ohio.

    If you believe ABC News, which has not called any of the four states, Kerry could still pull out an electoral victory. On the other hand if you believe web site RealClearPolitics, all four states are called for Bush, giving him 294 electoral votes. (Interestingly, in this scenario Ohio could have gone to Kerry without changing the electoral outcome).

    To the degree that the main stream media have reached consensus, it seems to be that Bush won Ohio, Kerry won Wisconsin, and Iowa and New Mexico are not yet decided. Yet if you examine the closeness of the race and the number of votes not yet counted, Wisconsin looks just as close as Iowa or New Mexico.

    Without further ado, here is how some news sources are calling them.

    Iowa, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Ohio not called:

    Iowa, New Mexico and Wisconsin not called; Ohio to Bush:

    Iowa, New Mexico and Ohio not called; Wisconsin to Kerry:

    Iowa and New Mexico not called; Wisconsin to Kerry; Ohio to Bush:

    Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio and Wisconsin to Bush:
    New Mexico, Ohio and Wisconsin to Bush; Iowa to Kerry:

    Why Kerry conceded: an analysis of Ohio

    Earlier today Kerry called the White House to concede the election. According to CNN,

    A Kerry adviser said the campaign had concluded that the too-close-to-call battleground state of Ohio was not going to come through for the Democrats.

    The adviser said there was no way to gain votes on Bush without an "exhaustive fight," something that would have "further divided this country."

    Slightly disingenuous. Realistically, Kerry might have gained votes on Bush, or he might have lost votes, if the provisional and absentee ballots were counted. And it is virtually impossible for Kerry to have gained enough votes to swing the state, or even to trigger a statewide recount.

    Here's why--Kerry would have to accomplish the virtually impossible task of winning over 90% of the provisional votes. The analysis follows.

    With 100% of precincts reporting (but not the absentee or provisional ballots), the Ohio results are:

    • Bush, 2,796,147 votes, 51.01%
    • Kerry, 2,659,664 votes, 48.52%
    Bush's margin is roughly 137,000 votes. If the margin is no greater than a quarter of one percent of the vote, it triggers an automatic recount. (The current margis is about 2.5%.) If Kerry were determined to fight this out, he would have to count on the absentee and provisional ballots bringing the him into range for a recount (roughly a 14,000 vote margin). Kerry would need to make up 123,000 votes (137,000 minus 14,000) to trigger the recount. This seems implausible.

    Kerry could make up the votes through absentee ballots and provisional ballots. Since the absentee ballots include overseas military personnel, I suspect they will not give Kerry a substantive boost. That leaves the provisional ballots to make up Kerry's deficit.

    I estimate that Ohio issued 152,000 provisional ballots. The Ohio Secretary of State has a listing of provisional ballots issued by county here (link via Captain Ed). The total is 135,149, but 10 of the 88 counties have no data as I write this post. (The Ohio Secretary of State's office confirmed via telephone that they are still working on pulling together the data for some counties.) The 78 counties with data (including, by the way, heavily populated and heavily Democratic Cuyahoga county) average 1732.7 provisional ballots per county. If we extend that ratio to the remaining 10 counties, that adds 17,327 ballots to the statewide total for a new total of roughly 152,000.

    For argument's sake, I will make the friendliest assumption for the Kerry camp (though not a plausible assumption) that all the provisional ballots are deemed eligible for counting. In that case Kerry would need to make up 123,000 votes out of the 152,000 provisional votes. That means Kerry would have to win the provisional vote count by 137,500 to 14,500, which would mean winning 90% of the provisional votes.

    Thus, if every provisional ballot were judged eligible for counting, Kerry would need to accomplish the virtually impossible task of winning 90% of the provisional votes, just to trigger a recount. (Note that triggering a recount still would not assure Kerry a victory by any means.) If, as is likely, fewer than 100% of the provisional ballots were deemed eligible to be counted, Kerry would need to win even more than 90% of the provisional vote.

    Kerry seems to have looked at these numbers and decided he had no shot. Hence the concession.

    Of course, some hard-core Kerry supporters use somewhat different numbers to arrive at a very different conclusion. A bit of starry-eyed Democratic optimism:

    It's not over in Ohio. As this email notes:

    Bush is currently leading in Ohio by 136,221

    If there are 250,000 provisional ballots outstanding. The highest number I've seen.

    And 90% of those ballots are good, as they were in 2000. That leaves 225,000 votes.

    If 85% of those ballots prove to be for Kerry, about the number that Gore got in 2000. That leaves us with 191,250, giving us a lead of 55,029.

    If there are only 200,000 provisionals, following the same calculation would leave us with a lead of 16,779.

    If the provisional ballots are only 175,000 that leaves us with a deficit of -2,346 that will leaves us in a position to get an automatic statewide recount.

    Or, to put it another way, an automatic recount is triggered by a margin of 0.25% or between 13,000 and 16,000 votes.

    Tuesday, November 02, 2004

    Bush takes huge lead in betting odds

    Bush leads the Tradesports.com odds, 63.0-35.5.

    Bush pulls ahead in the betting odds

    The betting odds favor Bush again for the first time since early afternoon.

    Scroll down to "The money's on Bush Kerry Bush?" for updates on the odds.

    Bush is pulling back into the running

    Bush was the slight favorite going in. Early exit polls gave Kerry a big lead. Bush is outperforming the exit polls.

    By my tally, 26 states have been called, and not one of them is a surprise.

    There's still a horse race.

    Scroll down to "The money's on Bush Kerry?" for the latest odds. Bush is pulling back into the running.


    A bit of hope from National Review's the Corner:
    David E. Johnson, CEO of Strategic Vision, e-mails:
    At Strategic Vision, we have been reviewing and conducting exit polls and do not know where the media reports came from. We are showing a slight advantage for Bush in Florida by 1 point.

    President Kerry?

    Tradesports and the stock market are seem to be giving Kerry the edge.

    Betting odds show Bush pulling ahead

    For election odds updates, scroll down to "The money's on Bush" below

    Only one quarter of Florida voters voting "for" Kerry

    A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll conducted Oct. 30-31 revealed that a remarkable number of people, including Kerry supporters, are not all that impressed with Kerry.

    I focused on the poll's Florida results, which incidentally showed Kerry leading by five points. (Some other polls show Florida leaning toward Bush.) But of particular interest to me was the reply to question 5B, asked only of Kerry supporters:
    Would you say that your vote is better described as a vote for John Kerry or a vote against George W. Bush?
    The results in Florida? Only 46% of Kerry supporters said their vote was better described as pro-Kerry while 45% said it better described as anti-Bush. Let me repeat that: Fewer than half of Kerry voters say they would describe their vote primarily as a vote for Kerry.

    (The same question among Bush supporters showed that an overwhelming majority would describe their vote as pro-Bush.)

    Now I have no idea who will win Florida. But I do think that the Democrats have failed to present a candidate who has captured the public's imagination. And I think that this is part of the reason Bush will win re-election.

    Next primary, perhaps the Democrats will nominate the strongest candidate rather than the one they perceive as most electable.

    Helprin on winning the War on Terrorism

    A reader writes that he suspects that history will prove this Mark Helprin essay to be "prescient beyond belief."

    In today's New York Sun, Daniel Pipes summarizes the Helprin piece:
    Mr. Helprin, author of such powerful novels as A Soldier of the Great War
    and Winter's Tale, writes a despairing analysis in the current issue of the Claremont Review of Books, in which he finds America's failure today to understand the threat it faces "comparable to the deepest sleep that England slept in the decade of the 1930s," when it failed to perceive the Nazi menace.

    Mr. Helprin finds that the country, and its elites in particular, remain enamored with the illusion that it can muddle through, "that the stakes are low and the potential damage not intolerable." In other words, September 11 did not serve as a wake-up call. He calls on Americans to make up their collective mind and answer the simple question, "Are we at war, or are we not?" If not, they need not worry and can remain happily asleep in pre-September 11 mode. If they are, "then major revisions and initiatives are needed, soon."

    Mr. Helprin sketches out the steps needed for serious war-fighting, both abroad (focusing on Iraq and Iran) and at home. The latter include: Truly secure the borders with a 30,000-strong Border Patrol, summarily deport aliens "with even the slightest record of support for terrorism," closely survey American citizens with suspected terrorist connections, and develop a Manhattan Project-style crash program to protect against all chemical and biological warfare agents.

    The means to take these steps exist; what prevents them from taking shape is the left being in a state of "high dudgeon" and the right not even daring to propose such measures. "The result is a paralysis that the terrorists probably did not hope for in their most optimistic projections, an arbitrary and gratuitous failure of will."

    Betting on the election

    Why am I putting such emphasis on Tradesports.com, the online betting site? Because it is the best way to for me to make sense of the election.

    There are many polls out there, and I cannot make any sense of them. Depending on which poll you believe, the battleground states could go either way and the election could go either way.

    But with Tradesports, people are risking money on the results of the election. They should be incorporating (and discounting) all relevant information including the polls, momentum, bias and anything else of interest. And so I will continue to follow Tradesports throughout the day to see how the election is going. For (irregular) updates to the odds according to Tradesports, scroll down to my prior post or click here.

    (Note that people are risking money on the election via the Iowa Electronic Markets, too, but in the Iowa case people are betting on the popular vote, not the electoral vote.)

    For various sites with polling data, look at the right column of this blog and scroll down to the heading, "Election Polls and Sites."

    Monday, November 01, 2004

    The money's on Bush Kerry Bush?

    Tradesports is a market when real people risk real money on the outcome of the presidential election. As of 11:04 a.m. ET, the last trades gave Bush a 55.3% chance of victory, Kerry 44.8%.

    November 1 (all times eastern):

    • 11:04 a.m.: Bush leads 55.3-44.8 (10.5-point difference)
    • 3:22 p.m.: Bush leads 56.0-44.1 (11.9-point difference)
    • 7:01 p.m.: Bush leads 54.4-46.3 (8.1-point difference)
    • 9:37 p.m.: Bush leads 53.5-47.0 (6.5-point difference)

    November 2 (all times eastern):

    • 8:50 a.m.: Bush leads 55.0-46.0 (9.0-point difference)
    • 8:53 a.m.: Bush leads 54.0-48.0 (6.0-point difference)
    • 10:23 a.m: Bush leads 54.0-47.9 (6.1-point difference)
    • 11:21 a.m.: Bush leads 56.0-43.7 (12.3-point difference)
    • 1:00 p.m.: Bush leads 56.1-43.0 (13.1-point difference)
    • 2:07 p.m.: Bush leads 57.0-43.3 (13.7-point difference)
    • 2:37 p.m.: Bush leads 55.0-45.0 (10.0-point difference)
    • 4:29 p.m.: Kerry leads 52.0-48.0 (4.0-point difference)
    • 4:38 p.m.: Kerry leads 66.0-35.0 (31.0-point difference)
    • 9:21 p.m.: Kerry leads 57.0-44.0 (13.0-point difference)
    • 9:40 p.m.: Kerry leads 54.0-47.5 (6.5-point difference)
    • 9:41 p.m.: Kerry leads 53.0-48.0 (5.0-point difference)
    • 9:46 p.m.: Kerry leads 51.1-48.0 (3.1-point difference)
    • 9:52 p.m.: Bush leads 55.0-45.0 (10.0-point difference)
    • 10:14 p.m.: Bush leads 63.0-35.5 (27.5-point difference)

    November 3 (all times eastern):

    • 10:00 a.m.: Bush leads 97.0-3.0 (94.0-point difference)
    • 10:38 a.m.: Bush leads 97.5-2..5 (95.0-point difference)

    Bold type indicates a lead change.

    A choice

    Mark Steyn is optimistic:
    This is the 9/11 election, a choice between pushing on or retreating to the polite fictions of September 10. I bet on reality.