Thursday, September 30, 2004

50 years ago yesterday

I've just ordered the book, but I'm a sap for baseball sentimentality.

(Via the Poliburo Diktat.)

More perspective from the Middle East

Athena writes that,
you cannot possibly understand the magnitude of Arab hate for Israel unless you are here daily. The hate for Israel muddles every aspect of politics. You can be on the subject of politics in China and somehow, someway Israel is at fault. This is a problem.

While I support Israel’s fight against terrorism and right to exist, I also lend credence to some Palestinian grievances. But, Israel is always blamed at the Palestinian Leadership seems to never be held culpable.
This is one of the five lessons she's learned in a month studying in Jordan.

Trying to stir things up when the conclusion is foregone

The Senate race in New York is a virtual gimme for incumbent Democrat Charles Schumer. According to A.P., Schumer enjoys big leads in fundraising (as of the end of June, $26 million for Schumer and $0.5 million for his Republican challenger, State Assemblyman Howard Mills) and in the polls (Schumer 65%, Mills 17% according to a September Marist College poll). Schumer may not even run any television ads.

In an effort to get his message out, Mills is eager for debates. And according to a press release issued by the Mills camp today, Schumer's campaign agreed to a debate, but is now ducking the issue. The Schumer campaign has agreed to have a press person call me to discuss the matter. If and when anyone calls, I'll keep you posted. I cannot imagine the Schumer press people are too busy, given the Senator's recent comment:
I know it's tough to be a journalist when there's not much of a Senate race going on and you have to write something.
The most compelling part of Mills' web site is Schumer's Senate legislative record. Apparently over the last three years Schumer has introduced a grand total of 12 bills on which the Senate has agreed. It would be hard to imagine 12 less consequential bills. Eight were to rename post offices, one was to rename a cemetery, one was to rename a courthouse, and two were to conduct local studies.

Senate race

If you're interested in how the Senate races will turn out, here is National Review's state-by-state analysis (of the states which are not foregone conclusions) with a prediction that Republicans will pick up two seats.

Here's my prediction: presidential coat-tails will determine the Senate. For every percent over 50 that a presidential candidate garners in the popular vote, his party will pick up one Senate seat. If the popular vote is 50-50, neither side will pick up any Senate seats.

Betsy's Page, stats and links

Betsy's Page, part of my daily reading, linked to one of my posts this morning (for which I'm most appreciative).

As of 10:45 a.m. eastern time, Betsy had received 1304 visits already today, and she had posted ten items. Of those 1304 visits, just over 5.5% clicked through to my blog. That seems like a high percentage. I wonder if that click-through rate is normal. Her link to this blog was a short two-liner, without much explication:
Remember how the Europeans hated Reagan? Twenty years later, we don't care about the Europeans. It will be the same with Bush.
Would fewer folks be clicking through if Betsy had provided an excerpt? What if Betsy had instead written,

David M writes,

Remember the reasons for the European antipathy toward Reagan? He was a simpleton who couldn't understand that aggressive foreign policies like putting missiles in Europe would just antagonize the Russians and make the world a less safe place. He declared our enemy to be evil, not comprehending that the world is a more nuanced place.

Any of this sound familiar?

Would readers have been content with her excerpt and not clicked through to the post? I suppose web marketing agencies have a point of view on this type of topic in general on the web, but has anyone studied it in blogs?

Update: As of 11:30 a.m., Betsy's visits for the day are up to 1499, and the click-through rate to my blog is up to 5.94%. (Not that I obsess over readership...)

Economy grew faster than expected; A.P. headline parrots Kerry negativism

In the wake of an upwards revision in GDP growth, reinforcing the economy's incredibly strong growth over the past year-plus, a recent A.P. article reported a slew of good news for the ecomony:
  • The economy grew faster in the spring than previously thought.
  • The Commerce Department raised the second-quarter GDP growth rate to 3.3% from its earlier 2.8% estimate.
  • The boost came from "expanded business inventories and investments, an increase in exports and a drop in imports. "
  • Stocks went up on the news: The Dow was up almost 59 points and the Nasdaq 24 points.
  • A Wells Fargo economist said, "The economy is doing better than many anticipated... and the better news is that economic growth will accelerate" to a third-quarter growth rate approaching 4%.
Kerry's campaign, as the article reported, had a different take:
"Though George Bush keeps telling American families that things are getting better, the reality is a much different story," Kerry spokeswoman Allison Dobson said.
In light of this, what did A.P. choose to use as its headline?
Economy Grows at Weakest Rate in Over Year
Who says there's bias in the media?

Revolutionary rumors in Iran

I don't know the reliability of this report (linked by The Corner), but there may be some activity brewing in Iran:

Reports over the past 24 - 48 hours via several important information services such as SMCCDI, Peykeiran, Zagros and direct email reports and phone calls from Iranian citizens is beginning to shine light on what at this time looks to becountry-wide fighting and quickly escalating into what could potentially become a freedom revolution.

Several independent citizen sources have reported the formation of significant crowds throughout the country, and have heard many loud explosions and gun shots, including in the cities of Tehran, Esfahan, and Shiraz.

SMCCDI stands for Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran.

Update: Apparently the crowds were involved in peaceful demonstrations, perhaps of Zoroasterian origin.

Memo from Iraq: "Mr Novak, you are wrong... This is OUR dream."

I missed this Iraqi rebuttal to Robert Novak's column last week:

...I want freedom and democracy and so do most of my friends and relatives, and the vast majority of Iraqis I’ve known all my life. So do hundreds of thousands of IP, ING members, hundreds of political organizations and millions of Iraqis who are defending the American administration’s dream (you know, because we can’t have a dream!), and who wait anxiously for the upcoming elections. Are we not Arabs and Muslims? Or were we brainwashed by the American propaganda to believe that their dream was ours?

NO Mr. Novak, you are WRONG and I’m being very nice here. This is not an adventure and this is not a neo-conservative dream. This is OUR dream. The dream of millions of oppressed Iraqis who saw what dictatorship can do and who were dying to witness a moment of freedom, to live a peaceful life, a life that carries hope and make dreams not that impossible, a life similar to yours, or is it too much to hope for? We had this dream before anyone heard about neo-conservatives.

I don’t believe what you say about the American administration Mr. Novak, but even if you were right, you can give up on your dream. We won’t give up on ours, and may God help us.

Novak's column claims that Bush administration officials are recommending an early withdrawal from Iraq. The above excerpt takes particular exception to Novak's claim that,
Getting out of Iraq would end the neoconservative dream of building democracy in the Arab world.
(Link via Andrew Hofer.)

Moral equivalence run amok

This assertion, which seems to have increasing currency on the left, is absurd:
The Bush administration claimed that the liberation of Iraqis from the inhumane rule of a dictator was a good-enough reason for taking military action against that country. Now investigations of the U.S. military's torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib has stripped the United States of even that wobbly claim.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Retired Army officer Ralph Peters doesn't seem to like John Kerry:
In WWII, broadcasts from Tokyo Rose in Japan and from Axis Sally in Germany warned our troops that their lives were being squandered in vain, that they were dying for big business and "the Jew" Roosevelt.

Today, we have a presidential candidate, the conscienceless Sen. John Kerry, doing the work of the enemy propagandists of yesteryear.
(Link via Middle Ground.)

The ultimate John Kerry ad

Make sure your computer's speakers are on for this ad.

(Link via Blogs for Bush.)

Overheard on Air America

On the way home from lunch at the IHOP, I tuned into Al Franken's show on Air America radio, the overtly liberal talk radio station.

In introducing his guest, David Maraniss, Franken said, "I'm a huge fan."

Maraniss, an associate editor at the Washington Post, replied, "And vice-versy." (They then had a brief, chuckle-laced exchange on "versa" versus "versy.")

On the face of it, not a striking bit of dialogue. But imagine for a moment a Washington Post editor publicly acknowledging that he is a "huge fan" of, say, Sean Hannity. Or God forbid, Rush Limbaugh. Too much chance of being completely written off by his colleagues, or by people like the journalist who lost faith in her therapist because because she (gasp) listened to Limbaugh.

Foreigners for Kerry

The Washington Post headline trumpets, "Kerry Is Widely Favored Abroad."

An interesting conclusion, given that the article cites polls for only four countries (three for Kerry, one for Bush). The evidence from other countries is anecdotal. That's the equivalent of polling Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia and Tennessee, interviewing a few selected people in other states, then concluding in a headline, "Bush Is Widely Favored In America." Is it possible that Washington Post overseas reporters tend to hobnob with the intellectual elite, and that the intellectual elite's worldviews do not mirror that of the general populace?

For argument's sake, however, let's grant that Kerry is preferred overseas.

Upfront, the article cites some reasons foreigners prefer Kerry, most of which would carry virtually zero weight with the American electorate. In addition to liking Kerry's apparent respect for allies' views, according to the article, Kerry's foreign fans apparently like that
he seems worldly, with an African-born wife. He attended school in Geneva and speaks French. A first cousin of Kerry's, Brice Lalonde, is a Green Party mayor of a small town in western France.
And, needless to say they tend to hate Bush. Or at least the ones interviewed for this article do. Remember the last president that was hated overseas with a passion? The Post does:

The deep antipathy has produced a round of Bush-bashing magazine covers, books and television debates that many foreign policy observers say is unprecedented, stronger even than the widespread repudiation abroad of President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.
Remember the reasons for the European antipathy toward Reagan? He was a simpleton who couldn't understand that aggressive foreign policies like putting missiles in Europe would just antagonize the Russians and make the world a less safe place. He declared our enemy to be evil, not comprehending that the world is a more nuanced place.

Any of this sound familiar?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

CBS hoax redux?

Instapundit links to an article entitled, "CBS Does It Again: Network Uses Phony Documents to Promote Draft Conspiracy":
Three weeks after he denounced the internet as being "filled with rumors," the embattled CBS anchor ran a story on his Tuesday "Evening News" program hoping to stir up fear of an impending military draft.

In a story that was a textbook example of slipshod reporting, CBS reporter Richard Schlesinger used debunked internet hoax emails and an unlabeled interest group member to scare elderly "Evening" viewers into believing that the U.S. government is poised to resume the draft.
Update: Bill from INDC Journal has the scoop via three interviews with CBS--a good example of original blogosphere reporting.

"The terrorists are losing"

In today's Washingon Post, David Ignatius discusses the ideas of a French Arabist, of all people:

The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has been toppled; the fence-sitting semi-Islamist regime in Saudi Arabia has taken sides more strongly with the West; Islamists in Sudan and Libya are in retreat; and the plight of the Palestinians has never been more dire. And Baghdad, the traditional seat of the Muslim caliphs, is under foreign occupation. Not what you would call a successful jihad...

Perhaps it takes an outsider -- a Frenchman, even -- to help Americans see the war on terrorism in perspective. Saturated in terrorism alerts and images of violence from Iraq, Americans may miss the essential fact that the terrorists are losing.

Update: William F. Buckley, who calls the French Arabist an "anti-Bush jihad expert," asserts that for Bush to succeed in Thursday's debate, he must accomplish the difficult task of planting perspectives such as the Arabist's.

(Washington Post link via Andrew Sullivan. Buckley link via Roger L. Simon.)

Best of Lileks

Check out 23 of the best quotes of Lileks over the past year, as compiled by John Hawkins.

Lileks' bleats often meander more than I can handle; but when he's on, he's on, as Hawkins' highlights show.

Quote of the day

I don't know where the planet Endor is, but this guy does:
Kerry's policy on this issue makes about as much sense as a Wookie on the planet Endor.

Setting low expectations

Partisans on both sides are convinced that in the wake of the debates, the media will show their guy losing ground:

Mike Murphy today in the Daily Standard:
As you watch the debate on Thursday night, remember: No matter what happens, on Friday morning, you're going to hear that the race is tightening.

A sure bet in this campaign is that the media will write a big October comeback story for John Kerry.
Paul Krugman today in the New York Times:
Let's face it: whatever happens in Thursday's debate, cable news will proclaim President Bush the winner. This will reflect the political bias so evident during the party conventions.

Soros on why to vote for Bush

George Soros says about the President,
If we re-elect him now, we endorse the Bush doctrine of preemptive action and the invasion of Iraq, and we will have to live with the consequences.
Yes, and that's why I will vote for Bush. For if we do not re-elect him, we likely subvert the Bush doctrine, and we will have to live with the consequences.

Jimmy Carter, partisan

Jimmy Carter is at it again. His article in yesterday's Washington Post is Still Seeking a Fair Florida Vote.

I was planning to issue a biting critique, but others have already done it better than I could. Go read Jane Galt's observations.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Sun puzzle fun

For decades the only daily crossword I had any fun doing was the New York Times', because of its cleverness and consistent high standards.

Then, thankfully, along came the New York Sun. The puzzles were as good as the Times', and often more clever. And I agreed with the editorial page to boot. (The very first issue of the modern version of the Sun had the answers to the puzzle in the last issue of the paper, which had been published many decades earlier!)

Today's Sun puzzle however was missing some clues. So I whipped off a notably bad limerick to the Sun's puzzle editor:
There once was a puzzle--what fun!
That appeared in Monday's New York Sun.
But seek though we might
Through the day and the night,
Nine clues could be found by no one.
Peter Gordon, the puzzle editor, responded forthwith:
There was a word puzzler named Peter
Who wasn't too good at verse meter
So he said, "Look below
For the clues and you'll know
It was a production error and not my fault, so now with this puzzle you can defeat her!"

57 Plain to see
58 Labor room laborer
59 Surround tightly
60 Meat in a mess
61 Hive site
62 Rasputin's refusal
64 Impolitely take
67 Tell a fib
69 New Year's ___
Sometimes small things are what make it worthwhile.

A view from Jordan

Jordan is considered one of the more "moderate" of the Arab states. And presumably a Jordanian who chooses to play host to an American student would be particularly moderate.

Athena is an American student in Jordan. Here is how her host mother sees things:
Out of the blue, my host mother asks, "Who do you think was behind 9-11?"

And of course I knew she was expecting me to say "Osama bin Laden," so instead I responded, "Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had a lot to do with the operational planning." She gave me a quizzical look so I gave her the, "of course he was one of the top people in Al-Qaida under Bin Laden."

To this she told me that was all a lie and that "the Israelis are behind this, it's all the Israeli Mossad who did this."

...Then she went on to tell me, "the Jews cut open the black Ethiopians and pour their blood in the sewers." Did this woman overdose on too much hummus or something? Then I said, "Do they drink the blood of Arab children too?" (Because I had heard this conspiracy theory). She replies, "I think so yes....

"HAMAS has every right to target everyone in Israel."
What hope is there?

Syria bans Hamas. What lessons for us?

The New Republic recently published an article entitled, How Sharon beat the intifada--and what the United States can learn. Consider this progression of stories over the last two days and figure out what is to be learned: I wish it were always this neat and clean.

(Last link via AlphaPatriot.)

Right versus wrong stuff

Tee hee.

Good poll summary

Real Clear Politics has a continually updated summary of polls in the battleground states. Good to use in conjunction with the map tool I pointed out Saturday. The Real Clear Politics electoral count for today is Bush 291, Kerry 221, toss up 26.

(Real Clear Politics links via via Charles at LGF and Ed at Captain's Quarters who points out that Oregon is surprisingly leaning towards Bush.)

Bush fulfilled Guard duty, volunteered for Nam

While I don't think Bush's National Guard record is a very relevant issue, many in the media do. So I wonder why this story is not getting more coverage. Actually, no, I don't wonder at all; Bush's Guard record is relevant as long as it hurts Bush. Why would a major media outlet want to run a story like this?
Retired Colonel Ed Morrisey served in the Air National Guard and is familiar with the President's record since the beginning of his service.

Opposite a portrayal of a soldier not performing his duty he describes a flyer, near the top of his class.

Retired Colonel Morrisey has trained, developed and commanded lots of soldiers over a distinguished career.

He also swore in one very notable officer.

"George W. went to pilot training, seated well, being selected to be a fighter pilot, which is at the top of the line in the Air Force selection process. Came back to train in the F-102 at Ellington. He stood alert like anyone else," says Colonel Morrisey.

According to Morrisey, then-Lieutenant Bush more than fulfilled his guard requirements.

Morrisey says in the six years the President served he never failed to meet participation point requirements.

"Bush averaged 176 per year. In no year did he have less that 50," says Morrisey. "He was rated by his commander, Col. Maurice Udell in the top 5 of his pilots."

One of the criticisms leveled at the President is that he sought guard service to keep him from serving in Vietnam.

Morrisey says, "not so."

"The Air Force, in their ultimate wisdom, assembled a group of 102's and took them to Southeast Asia. Bush volunteered to go. But he needed to have 500 [flight] hours, but he only had just over 300 hours so he wasn't eligible to go,” Morrisey recalls.
(Link via Instapundit.)

Sunday, September 26, 2004

NYT Magazine: Conservative blogs? What conservative blogs?

The right side of the blogosphere is not pleased with being dissed by Fear and Laptops on the Campaign Trail in today's NY Times Magazine.

See, for example, Little Green Footballs:
And in a 10-page article, covers only the left wing blogs, including the worst, most virulent centers of lunacy.

In glowing terms.
Or see Allah.

Or the Politburo:
For the NYT, these three Lefties suffice to represent blogs, with only the briefest mention of the other side of the 'sphere.
Here's Ace:
Well, after two weeks in which conservative bloggers and conservative posters on conservative fora like FreeRepublic disprove a major media fraud and nearly bring down a sitting anchorman (and when I say "nearly," I just mean we're not done yet), the New York Times decides to write a big Sunday Magazine article about bloggers.

About FreeRepublic, that started the ball rolling?

About PowerLine, that greatly advanced the story in those first hours?

About LGF, who proved the documents to be forgeries within hours of seeing them by just posting an MS Word copy of the text on his site?

Oh, no.

You might think that those might be the bloggers the NYTimes would talk to-- you know, the ones actually making news.

But you'd be wrong.

In the first clear victory for the blogosphere over the legacy media, the New York Times decides to spend ten pages talking about...

Daily Kos, Josh Marshall, and Wonkette.
And the Daily Kos is complaining about the article, too. Hmm.

Update: Hugh Hewitt:
Rarely has an institution gone to such great lengths to confirm its own bias and validate its increasing irrelevance as the New York Times does this morning in the almost unbelievably unbalanced New York Times Magazine piece on the blogosphere. The responses at Allah, LittleGreenFootballs, and Ace of Spades are fine jumping off points for a scorecard on the article's absurdities, and Betsy'sPage is keeping track of the responses from the center-right of the blogosphere.

I am with Glenn in being neither surprised nor upset, but not for his reasons. This piece is what the lawyers call "an admission against interest" combined with an undeniable expression of liberal bias in MSM. The admission is that the blogosphere matters a lot. The expression of bias is the incredible series of whopping omissions in the coverage. This is MSM's attempt --and there will be many more-- to "credential" some of their favorites in the blogosphere, thus elevating them and hopefully their readership. How can you be surprised that the way left Times profiles way left bloggers for their way left audience to hopefully bookmark and consult as a sort of internet annex to the still dominant New York Times?

It is a vast cry for help, a plea for reinforcements. The bloggers are inside the citadel, so call in the allied bloggers.

Steyn on Kerry on Iraq

Take a look at Mark Steyn's latest column, Kerry's looking for American failure -- and he's it. An excerpt:
Kerry didn't show up for Allawi's visit to Washington -- he was in Ohio again, which is evidently becoming the proverbial Vietnam-type quagmire for him. Nonetheless, barely had the prime minister finished than the absentee senator did a daytime version of his midnight ramble and barged his way onto the air to insist that he knew better than Iraq's head of government what was going on in the country. One question from his accompanying press corps was especially choice:

''Prime Minister Allawi told Congress today that democracy was taking hold in Iraq and that the terrorists there were on the defensive. Is he living in the same fantasyland as the president?''

It would be nice to think this was a somewhat crude attempt at irony, but given America's Ratherized media this seems unlikely. Just for the record, Allawi is not living in a fantasyland. He's living in Iraq, and he begins his day with a dangerous commute across Baghdad's ''Green Zone.'' John Kerry's regular commute, by contrast, is from his wife's beach compound at Nantucket to his wife's 15th century English barn reconstructed as a ski lodge in Idaho. Nonetheless, he's the expert on Iraq and the guy living there 24/7 is the fantasist, and he's happy to assure us the prime minister doesn't know what he's talking about. It's all going to hell, forget about those January elections, etc.

What a small, graceless man Kerry is. The nature of adversarial politics in a democratic society makes George W. Bush his opponent. But it was entirely Kerry's choice to expand the field, to put himself on the other side of Allawi and the Iraqi people. Given his frequent boasts that he knows how to reach out to America's allies, it's remarkable how often he feels the need to insult them: Britain, Australia, and now free Iraq. But, because this pampered cipher has floundered for 18 months to find any rationale for his candidacy other than his indestructible belief in his own indispensability, Kerry finds himself a month before the election with no platform to run on other than American defeat. He has decided to co-opt the jihadist death-cult, the Baathist dead-enders, the suicide bombers and other misfits and run as the candidate of American failure. This would be shameful if he weren't so laughably inept at it.
(Via Wizbang.)

Saturday, September 25, 2004

A better electoral map

Daly Thoughts links to a very cool tool for generating electoral maps of the presidential race. The user can filter in or out various features as desired. For example, you can generate a map including all polls since Aug 15 excluding Gallup, and including likely voters only.

(The same Daly Thoughts soundly abuses me in this week's Bonfire of the Vanities.)

Friday, September 24, 2004

Overheard from John McCain

John McCain at a fundraiser today:
The good news: we've got all the money we need for the Senate campaigns.

The bad news: a lot of it is still in your wallets and purses.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

News flash from the left: Allawi opposed Saddam

This evening I watched Hannity & Colmes interview Bill Bennett. Colmes (representing the left, for those unfamiliar with the show) had a particularly embarrassing moment.

Colmes asked what he apparently thought would be a "gotcha" question, exposing Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi as some sort of monster and thus exposing the poor judgment of the Bush Administration for letting him take power.

What was Colmes' damning question? He asked Bennett if he was comfortable with Allawi in light of allegations that have just emerged that Allawi, with the help of the CIA, had tried to kill Saddam with a bomb.

Bennett of course was quite comfortable with that. Indeed how could anyone not be comfortable with that? Colmes continued by protesting that first of all this would have disrupted the Iraqi government and second, while there's no evidence to support it, there might have been some collateral damage. Can he be serious? Does he think that cooperating with the U.S. to try to take out a murderous despot like Saddam somehow disqualifies Allawi for office? Especially when regime change was the stated policy of the U.S. government? And when we have since gone to war to make that regime change happen?

Is Colmes losing touch with reality? Tonight was the first time in awhile that I watched the show, but if this performance is representative, surely Hannity could find a better foil.

Update: Instapundit has a round-up of comments on the Kerry camp's disrespect of American ally Allawi.

Allawi versus Kerry

If you haven't read today's address to the U.S. Congress by Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi, here it is.

Some highlights:

First, we are succeeding in Iraq.

It's a tough struggle with setbacks, but we are succeeding.

I have seen some of the images that are being shown here on television. They are disturbing. They focus on the tragedies, such as the brutal and barbaric murder of two American hostages this week.

We Iraqis are grateful to you, America, for your leadership and your sacrifice for our liberation and our opportunity to start anew.

Third, I stand here today as the prime minister of a country emerging finally from dark ages of violence, aggression, corruption and greed. Like almost every Iraqi, I have many friends who were murdered, tortured or raped by the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Well over a million Iraqis were murdered or are missing. We estimate at least 300,000 in mass graves, which stands as monuments to the inhumanity of Saddam's regime. Thousands of my Kurdish brothers and sisters were gassed to death by Saddam's chemical weapons.


And let me tell you that as we meet our greatest challenge by building a democratic future, we the people of the new Iraq will remember those who have stood by us.

As generous as you have been, we will stand with you, too. As stalwart as you have been, we will stand with you, too.

Neither tyranny nor terrorism has a place in our region or our world. And that is why we Iraqis will stand by you, America, in a war larger than either of our nations, the global battle to live in freedom.

Of course John Kerry feels that he is better able to assess the situation in Iraq than is Allawi. Is that the best way to get elected?

Update: As usual, ScrappleFace nails it:

Kerry Offers Allawi Guided Tour of Iraq

Democrat presidential contender John Forbes Kerry today offered to give Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi a guided tour of Iraq to clear up misunderstandings that Mr. Allawi has about the situation in his own nation.

"I'm grateful to Sen. Kerry for his generous offer," said Mr. Allawi at a joint Rose Garden news conference with President George Bush. "I'm sure he has a much clearer perspective on events in my homeland than I do."

A spokesman for the Kerry-Edwards campaign said the tour will help Prime Minister Allawi to "see the ugly face of American foreign policy and petro-imperialism, and strip him of his misplaced optimism." ...

Great quote?

National Review political reporter John Miller has a solid journalistic record. I enjoy reading his critiques of North Korea and irrational U.S. political views.

But I take exception to a tidbit he wrote today:
"I can tell when George Steinbrenner is lying," said Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago White Sox. "His lips move."
Great quote? I think not. Mildly amusing? Perhaps.

A couple of quibbles:
  • First, it was over twenty years ago that Reinsdorf said it (and was fined $500 for his wit).
  • Second, it's one of the oldest lawyer/politician/name-your-victim jokes in the book. American Heritage defines hackneyed as "overfamiliar through overuse; trite." I daresay this qualifies. A quick search shows that the joke has been told countless times about subjects as diverse as politicians, lawyers, Clinton, Bush, Kerry, Cheney, Condi, Jerry Falwell, the drug czar, recruiters, alcoholics, CEOs, clients, narcissists, those swifty hacks, men, Thai women, salesmen, cattle buyers, addicts, economists, Iraqi information ministers and conservatives to name a few.

Can a quote this hackneyed be great?

I'm no Steinbrenner fan, but I entreat Mr. Miller to stick to politics and not take on the greatest team ever.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Kerry supporters for Bush

I was browsing the official Kerry-Edwards blog today and found two remarkable posts:
I saw Bush's UN speech and I can understand some part of his appeal. ...There's an optimism or uplift to his message that I imagine is well received by his listeners. Presidents Clinton and Reagan also had this gift (and it is a gift). It's easy to come away from Bush's speech feeling good about the country and about Bush....

Senator Kerry is a fine man and a good speaker but he's not quite as easy to warm up to as Bush (or Clinton or Reagan). In some ways, he reminds me a bit of Carter, Dukakis and even Dole on the other side ... a little reserved and distant.

I'm confident the voters will take the full measure of each man and come to the right decision.

Posted by: MikeH on September 21, 2004 01:16 PM
Granted it's a bit dowdified (omitting a bit about Bush's rhetoric being removed from reality), but still a remarkable message considering in what blog it appears. Bush, like Reagan, is uplifting. Kerry, like Carter and Dukakis, is reserved and distant. Can the Bush campaign hire this guy?

Then there's this reply:


I just don't see the warmth in Bush or the good delivery of any speech, and never have. What comes across to me is empty rhetoric, abject stupidity, a cocky sense of entitlement, and the impression that Bush has been coached to within an inch of his life. This "warmth" thing has been manufactured by the White House and disseminated by the media. Bush only cares about promoting himself, his rich friends, and his narrow, destructive views.

To me, Kerry seems much more warm, intelligent, real, and natural. And Bush can't even stand in the same room with Clinton.

Posted by: RoseM on September 21, 2004 01:50 PM

If RoseM's attitude is widespread among Kerry operatives, Bush may just be misunderestimated all the way to the White House for a second term.

Golly, it's an honor to be nominated.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

"God bless you" versus "thank you"

My toddler is trying to figure out when to say "thank you" and when to say "God bless you." Bush's speechwriters may be struggling with the same issue.

Bush concluded his speech to the United Nations General Assembly today with the phrase,

May God bless you.
(This can be confirmed by a video of the speech and transcriptions on the web sites of the White House and various news organizations.)

But an earlier draft of the speech concluded not with "May God bless you," but instead with a simple,

Thank you.
The web sites of the U.N. and CBS News both contain the "thank you" version.

The U.N. version is labeled "Draft #21." The CBS version is labeled as "the text of President Bush's speech to the United Nations as prepared for delivery."

Did Bush ad lib his concluding sentence? Or was the speech he delivered actually prepared in advance as draft #22?

Why did God get inserted in the speech? Why was God not in the earlier version?

A look at the President's earlier U.N. addresses is inconclusive. Bush's Sept. 23, 2003 address to the U.N. did end with, "May God bless you all," but his Nov. 10, 2001 speech to the U.N. did not. (The Nov. 2001 address did however contain a reference to God in a passage about history having "an author who fills time and eternity with his purpose.")

Instead of "may God bless you," perhaps the President could have said "Gesundheit"--an oblique reference to Dan Rather, he who has recently come to personify the opposite of krankheit.

A little pun from my departed Grandpa for the German speakers in the readership.

It's late, I'm babbling. G'night.

Thoughts on Rathergate

The election. On the whole, I see Rathergate as a minor plus for Bush. Since the President was leading in the polls before the incident surfaced, and since it has drawn so much focus, it has somewhat crowded out other messages that might substantively influence voters.

Aside from the crowding-out factor, an argument can be made that the whole Rathergate kerfuffle benefits both candidates about the same:

Why this helps Kerry. It keeps attention on Bush's National Guard record, and it shows that most media outlets can police each other, defraying charges of widespread media bias.

Why this helps Bush. It exposes leftwing bias and a reluctance to face facts at a major media outlet, and it calls into question the tactics of those who would attack Bush.

CBS and Rather. Dan Rather has survived serious questions about his impartiality and his journalistic ethics before, and he will survive this. But he is nearing retirement age, and perhaps CBS will hasten the grooming of a replacement.

The network has serious egg on its face. It was wrong to ignore some of its own experts; it was wrong to air the segment on the memos; and it was wrong to continue defending the memos in the face of overwhelming evidence. Even its apology was weak. (We are unable to ensure the legitimacy of the documents, rather than We believe the documents were forged.) But the public has a short memory and the network will recover.

The media. In the long run this will be seen as a very small part of a much bigger trend -- the shift away from the "mainstream media," that is the big-3 television networks and a few large print publications, as unquestioned sources of news. This trend was well ensconced before the current scandal, as exemplified by cable news stations beginning to outdraw the networks (e.g., for this year's Republican convention) and by the increasing influence of blogs (e.g., the Trent Lott affair). Just as VCRs did not destroy movie theater industry, new media will not be the downfall of mainstream media. But they will continue to grow as competitors and complements of mainstream media.

Update: John Podhoretz is unimpressed by Rather:
And what Rather did yesterday was beyond forgiveness. He is continuing to argue that the airing of a patently fraudulent effort whose purpose was to change the results of a presidential election was an act of "good faith."

You know what I hope? I hope Rather doesn't quit. I hope he isn't fired. He is indeed the CBS anchor — and now that the boat is taking on water, his dead weight is going to sink it for good.

Self-absorbed observation

This is a relatively new, small blog with a small readership.

However as of now (midday), today's readers have been from the Netherlands, the U.K., Spain and Brazil, in addition to the U.S. Each international visitor came via a different, obscure link. Odd.

Update: Apparently the blog has had readers in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Other, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, United Kingdom and the United States.


Unfortunately I didn't have a hit-counter when I got the links from Instapundit or Andrew Sullivan, so I have no idea how many hits, or from where, the blog received on those two days.

"Help us fund our recount efforts now"

From a message I just received from the Kerry campaign:
Help us get a head start funding our recount efforts... [W]e can't wait. We need to begin raising funds now.

Palestinean leadership: Peace with justice, but kill the Jews

Once again, what Arafat's Palestinean Authority tells the world in English is starkly different from what it tells its own people in Arabic.
While [PA spokeswoman] Dr. [Hanan] Ashrawi was convincing an English-speaking audience that "peace with justice... is a real determining factor of our lives," a video address from the same Ramallah offices was broadcasting a very different message. Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) captured footage of two PA TV programs in three days showing official religious leaders openly calling for the genocide of Jews.
More excerpts and the story here.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Kerry on Iraq: "absolutely vital" then, "profound diversion" now

John Kerry speaking today at New York University:

The president claims it is the centerpiece of his war on terror. In fact, Iraq was a profound diversion from that war and the battle against our greatest enemy, Osama bin Laden and the terrorists.

John Kerry on Dec. 14, 2001 on Larry King Live:
KING: What about enhancing this war, Senator Kerry. What are your thoughts on going on further than Afghanistan, all terrorist places... [Ellipsis in orginal]

KERRY: Oh, I think we clearly have to keep the pressure on terrorism globally. This doesn't end with Afghanistan by any imagination. And I think the president has made that clear. I think we have made that clear. Terrorism is a global menace. It's a scourge. And it is absolutely vital that we continue, for instance, Saddam Hussein.
Three years ago Iraq was "absolutely vital" to the war on terror. Today it's a "profound diversion."

Is this the moral clarity Mr. Kerry will use to lead the country if he is elected president? Or is this political opportunisim? You be the judge.

Can there be any doubt which candidate would lead the War on Terror with a steadier hand?

Update: In his speech today, Kerry also said,

By one count, the President offered 23 different rationales for this war. If his purpose was to confuse and mislead the American people, he succeeded.

His purpose was to present a wide range of reasons which taken together presented a compelling case to liberate Iraq.

His two main rationales – weapons of mass destruction and the Al
Qaeda/September 11 connection – have been proved false… by the President’s own
weapons inspectors… and by the 9/11 Commission. [Ellipsis in original.]/p>

When did the President link Iraq to 9/11? He didn't. Kerry knows he didn't. This is just dishonest.

Gallup poll biased toward Bush?

In case you're spending all your time on right-leaning blogs, be aware that the left-leaning blogs are saying that the recent Gallup poll—which showed Bush leading by 13% among likely voters—is biased toward Bush.

...Gallup oversamples greatly for the GOP [40% of sample], and undersamples for the Democrats [33% of sample]. Worse yet, Gallup just confirmed for me that this is the same sampling methodology they have been using this whole election season, for all their national and state polls.

If Gallup's sampling methodology is consistent over time, then Gallup is showing a real Bump for Bush, regardless of whether the underlying sampling is accurate. (Gallup had Bush with a 7% edge in likely voters immediately following the Republican convention.) But it is unclear what the real numbers are.

And it is far too soon for Bush supporters to get cocky. The Washington Times reports that three other polls are showing the two candidates within a percent of each other among likely voters.

Update: Turns out weighting by party ID may be a bad idea. See Mystery Pollster and Kausfiles for more details.

Update: Chris Graham of The Augusta (Va) Free Press (which carries the tagline, "Our only agenda is the truth") is reporting,
And then you have to factor in Fox News, which makes no secret of its bias, and which was saying a couple of weeks ago that the election was too close to call, according to its own polls. [Emphasis added.]
Mr. Graham, please let me know where Fox News has acknowledged an organizational bias in the election. This is a major scoop if you can find it.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

The Watcher of Weasels' "Watcher's Council" each week holds a contest seeking the most link-worthy blog posts. I'm submitting a post this week.

Here are the obligatory links:

Friday, September 17, 2004

Life imitates satire: blame Bush for the hurricanes

A satirical column in, Sept. 8:
"Two hurricanes in two months and George Bush has done nothing to stop them" exclaimed one Kerry supporter. "He knew about these attacks before they happened, he needs to be impeached!"
A writer to a (South Florida) Sun Sentinnel columnist, as reported Sept. 12:
Charley, Frances and now Ivan form an unprecedented three major hurricanes in one month. While Bush fights a war-for-oil in Iraq, his catastrophic energy policies have unleashed nature's attack on Florida.
Does this mean that if we had left Hussein in power, we wouldn't be having these hurricanes? I guess he was more powerful than we thought.

Iraq planned WMD programs. NYT misses headline.

The New York Times today published and article entitled, Iraq Study Finds Desire for Arms, but Not Capacity. The article makes some relevant points, but leaves out some other equally compelling information.

First, the headline. The most significant new information in the report is "considerable detail, particularly on the question of Iraq's intention to produce weapons if United Nations penalties were weakened or lifted." Okay, let's make that the headline. Here's my vote for a better headline: Study Reveals Iraq's Plan to Resume WMD Programs Once U.N. Sanctions Lifted.

On to the article:
A new report on Iraq's illicit weapons program is expected to conclude that Saddam Hussein's government had a clear intent to produce nuclear, chemical and biological weapons if United Nations sanctions were lifted, government officials said Thursday.

But, like earlier reports, it finds no evidence that Iraq had begun any large-scale program for weapons production by the time of the American invasion last year, the officials said.
Let's revisit the 2003 State of the Union in which the President said we cannot wait until the threat is imminent: "Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announce their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option."
The most specific evidence of an illicit weapons program, the officials said, has been uncovered in clandestine labs operated by the Iraqi Intelligence Service, which could have produced small quantities of lethal chemical and biological agents, though probably for use in assassinations, not to inflict mass casualties.
This confirms key evidence presented by Bush in the State of the Union: "From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological-weapons labs. These are designed to produce germ-warfare agents, and can be moved from place to a place to evade inspectors. Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them." Seems he didn't destroy them after all. Also, are small labs not potential precursors for larger labs down the road (as mentioned much later in the article)?
A draft report of nearly 1,500 pages that is circulating within the government essentially reaffirms the findings of an interim review completed 11 months ago, the officials said. But they said it added considerable detail, particularly on the question of Iraq's intention to produce weapons if United Nations penalties were weakened or lifted, a judgment they said was based on documents signed by senior leaders and the debriefings of former Iraqi scientists and top officials, as well as other records.
So if, as some suggest, we would have been better off continuing with the inspections and sanctions, two results seem inevitable: 1) The rampant corruption of the sanctions would have continues and 2) As soon as inspections scaled down, Iraq would have ramped up its weapons program.

The officials said the report would portray a more complicated and detailed picture, based on a far more extensive examination of suspected Iraqi weapons sites and records, as well as the debriefings. They said new information in the draft report based on on-site inspections of clandestine labs described the possibility that they were intended to provide small quantities of poisons.

A final version of the report, by Charles A. Duelfer, the top American weapons inspector in Iraq, is expected to be made public within the next several weeks.

In its current form, the report reaffirms previous interim findings that there is no evidence that Iraq possessed stockpiles of illicit weapons at the time of the American invasion in March 2003, the officials said. Prewar intelligence estimates that said Iraq actually possessed chemical and biological arsenals and was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program were cited by the Bush administration as the major rationale for war.

Not exactly so. The Times itself critiqued the Bush administration for not identifying one major rationale for the war. Only after it became likely that there were no WMDs did the Times, and the left in general, center on WMDs as the "major rationale for war."
With the presidential election campaign in its final weeks, Republicans and Democrats are likely to seize on separate aspects of the report in an effort to score political points.
True enough. Wonder on which of those points the Times will seize?

Skipping ahead in the article a bit...

Mr. Kay's report last October cited "a clandestine network of laboratories and safe houses within the Iraqi Intelligence Service" that contained material suitable for research into chemical and biological weapons. Mr. Duelfer's report, based on inspections of clandestine labs, will say the Iraqis were capable of using the labs to produce small quantities of lethal agents or to conduct very primitive research as a very early step toward broader weapons production.

Mr. Duelfer, who took over as the chief weapons inspector in January, said in testimony to Congress in March that Iraq did have dual-use facilities that could have produced biological or chemical weapons on short notice. He also noted that Iraq was working until March 2003 to build new facilities for the production of chemicals.

But officials who have seen Mr. Duelfer's report say it describes no conclusive evidence that any effort was under way to use these facilities for weapons production.

As this article noted near the beginning, Iraq's strategy was to wait until the weakening of inspections before rolling out the weapons program. Seems that dual-use facilities currently used for benign purposes fit that plan well. And while finding mass production of weapons would certainly have retrospectively bolstered the case for war, remember that the case for war was premised on acting before the threat becomes imminent.
Mr. Bush, who warned before the war that Iraq's illicit weapons posed an urgent threat to the United States, now generally describes Iraq as having been a "gathering threat," a phrase he has used at least 11 times since Aug. 12. In a Sept. 9 campaign speech, Mr. Bush told voters in Ohio: "Remember, Saddam Hussein had the capability of making weapons; he could have passed that capability on to the enemy."
Wrong. Bush said before the war that we must act before the threat is imminent.
Mr. Kerry, by contrast, has focused on the fact that the illicit weapons have not been found in Iraq as evidence that Mr. Bush's assertions lack credibility. "Everybody knows that just saying that there are weapons of mass destruction didn't make them so," Mr. Kerry said in an Aug. 2 television interview.
While I suspect the quotation is accurate, I would have preferred this Kerry quotation (from a Dec. 14, 2001 television interview): "I think we have to keep pressure on terrorism globally. This doesn't end with Afghanistan by any imagination... Terrorism is a global threat, a scourge. And it is absolutely vital that we continue, for instance, [with] Saddam Hussein." If the Times can focus on what Bush said (or actually, what the Times wants Bush to have said) in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, the least it can do is quote what Kerry was saying at the time.

End of analysis of Times article and beginning of more general thoughts.

I was and am a supporter of the Iraq invasion. It has made the world a better place by improving our long-term position in the War on Terror and incidentally freeing tens of millions of people from a brutal dictator. I pray that the problems on the ground in Iraq are mere hiccoughs on the way to a pluralistic democracy in the heart of the Middle East -- a process which may take many years. But even if it does not turn out that way, we still have done the right thing.

I am very concerned by what seems to have been a major intelligence failure regarding Iraqi WMDs (unless they are were moved to Syria). In this world of nuclear weapons and terrrorists, I think we have no choice other than a doctrine of pre-emption. But pre-emption demands first-rate intelligence. What will it take to get there?

Update: Captain Ed weighs in on the report:
Duelfer's report promises something for everyone; a bone for the Left, which they will use to beat George Bush over what they continue to insist was his only "justification" for toppling Hussein. The GOP stalwarts can and will argue that Duelfer's report also demonstrates the futility of trying to wait out Saddam and his boys through twelve years of economic sanctions. This has more implications than just electoral...

Unlikely lecture series

  • Bill Clinton on ensuring marital fidelity.
  • David Duke on racial sensitivity.
  • Dan Rather on journalistic ethics. Never mind.

(Link via Chrenkoff.)

    Thursday, September 16, 2004

    "The current economic downturn"

    If I understand it correctly, a relative of mine was just tasked by his school newspaper with explaining why the current economic downturn (sic) is not Bush's fault. Another student will argue the other side.

    Current economic downturn?!?

    Perhaps my relative's editors have been getting too much of their information from the New York Times, CBS News and the like. I could see that leading to a world view in which this sort of reasoning might prevail: Bush is in office and he's incompetent, so the economy must be in a downturn. Now let's debate whose fault it is.

    Hate to break the news, but the economy's booming.

    Here's my unsolicited draft attempt to write the article my relative was assigned:

    In the last year our nation has seen the greatest rate of growth in the last two decades. We're growing faster than any other industrialized nation. The chairman of the Federal Reserve last week testified to the traction of the current expansion.

    Let's look at some of the evidence:

    • Jobs. This economy has created roughly 1.7 million jobs in the last year. The federal government's household survey* shows more Americans working now than ever before in the nation's history. The survey also shows almost 2 million more Americans working now than when Bush took office.

      So, how do the employment numbers compare to recent history? In the 70s average unemployment was 6.2%. In the 80s it was 7.3%. In the 90s it was 5.8%. Today unemployment stands at 5.4%. Not bad.

      Bush policies created all this job growth despite two strikes:

      1. Bush inherited a recession, and
      2. About a million jobs were lost in the four months following 9/11.

      What, I hear my Democratic critics yelling, how can you say Bush inherited a recession?

      Well, the stock market started to dip in spring of 2000, well before Bush took office (in January 2001). In the third quarter of 2000, growth was negative, and after small positive growth in the fourth quarter, it was negative again in the first quarter of 2001. By late 2000, there was widespread feeling among economists that we were headed towards a downturn. The official start of the recession was March 2001, about forty days after Bush took office. There is no conceivable policy that Bush could have undertaken in those forty days to avoid recession. Indeed, this was a Clinton-Gore recession. Bush's first ecomomic policies were not signed into law until considerably later in 2001, after the recession was well underway.

      A point of interest regarding the discussion of jobs during this campaign: Be wary of Kerry supporters who like to talk about supposed job loss in the private sector only. This ignores the roughly 900,000 new public sector jobs (most of which are teaching jobs).

    • Home ownership. More Americans own homes than at any other time in the nation's history (in both percentage and absolute terms). And minority home ownership also is at an all-time high.

    • Other ecomomic indicators: Inflation rates remain in check, interest rates remain low and productivity remains high.

    • Taxes. Bush has lowered the tax burden for all tax-paying Americans, and (despite what you may have heard) the wealthy pay a higher portion of the income tax burden under the Bush tax cuts than they did previously.

    In summary, Bush inherited a recession (compounded by the ecomomic consequences of 9/11), and he turned it around to the point where the country's economy is growing faster than it has in the lifetime of any current high school student.

    * Note: Some people prefer to look at the payroll survey because it has a larger sample size. However, the payroll survey fails to count jobs created by new small businesses, entrepreneurs and sole proprietors, where much of the current job growth is focused.

    Note to my relative: If you do decide to use any of this, check the numbers first. Many of them come from interview answers by the Secretary of Commerce, speaking without notes. You should probably verify the figures with unbiased sources. I have provided links to back some, but not all of the data. Some of the data (like minority home ownership) would be better if it were more current. Other data (like number of teaching positions created) need to be sourced.

    Update: Turns out he only has 100 words.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2004

    NY Times guidelines put avoiding embarrassment ahead of good journalism

    The New York Times integrity guidelines encourage reporters to avoid inaccurate quotations. Fair enough.

    But why avoid inaccurate quotations? Not because they are bad journalism. Rather because, as the guidelines explain, the Times might get caught. And getting caught would erode reader trust.

    Read for yourself:

    Unless the writer has detailed notes or a recording, it is usually wise to paraphrase long comments, since they may turn up worded differently on television or in other publications. "Approximate" quotations can undermine readers’ trust in The Times.

    Seems that if there is no chance of the correct quotation showing up elsewhere, a reporter should feel free to risk using an incorrect quotation.

    Perhaps we should re-examine the Jayson Blair case. Was he just following his interpretation of company policy?

    The Times has not asked for my input, but it seems to me the guideline would be ethically sounder if it read,
    Unless the writer has detailed notes or a recording, it is usually wise to paraphrase long comments, since it is unethical to publish an inaccurate or "approximate" quotation.
    Update: I sent Daniel Okrent (public editor of the Times) a copy of and link to this post (preceded by a note asking about his baseball writing--apparently he's the guy who invented rotisserie baseball). Here is his reply:
    Yes, I used to write about baseball. Now, writing about The Times, I find that some observers tend to be a bit too literal. I think that, on its own, the section you quote suggests what you say it does. But I think the way the paragraph begins is essential to the policy: "Readers should be able to assume that every word between quotation marks is what the speaker or writer said." That's about as direct as it gets, especially in a statement about integrity; that to do otherwise is unethical is implicit.


    Daniel Okrent
    Public Editor
    N.B. All opinions expressed here, unless otherwise attributed, are solely my own
    I appreciate Mr. Okrent's reply, but my criticism stands.

    Bush campaign in trouble?

    A "longtime Democratic insider" characterized Kerry's campaign as being "in chaos" and argued that "the problem is worsening."

    But wait. The source for this is CBS News.

    First conclusion I reach: Bush must be in trouble.

    Can you believe this LA Times headline?

    Rather Rides Out Latest Partisan Storm

    Update 1: How do you reconcile the above headline (to a news article, no less) with this excerpt from an editorial in the same paper, same day:

    CBS News was had. It's hard to reach any other conclusion about documents that CBS and anchor Dan Rather have defended as revealing the truth about George W. Bush's military service.

    Update 2: The link to the Partisan Storm article above is now a working link to the LA Times site (free registration required); the old link via Yahoo has expired.

    (Hat tips: LGF and

    Kerry on Imus

    Heard part of the Kerry interview on Imus this morning. While Imus said today that he will likely vote for Kerry, that did not stop him from asking a few hard-hitting questions. Some observations:

    1. Overall impression: If his performance on the Imus interview is the best Kerry can do, there is no way he can make up the ground he needs to win in November. As Imus said after the interview [I'm paraphrasing from memory], "I asked Kerry a number of questions on Iraq, and after listening to his replies I still don't know where he stands."

    2. A highlight of the interview: Imus asking Kerry whether the American soldiers at Abu Ghraib should be punished if they violated the Geneva Convention, and if so why should Kerry not be punished for his own violations of the Geneva Covention to which he testified before the Senate. Kerry's response was unconvincing.

    3. When Imus noted that Unfit for Command was number one on the Times nonfiction best-seller list, Kerry said that this was because right-wingers have been buying the book in bulk. Not exactly right.

      While Kerry is correct that bulk sales can influence the Times best-seller list (as Business Week exposed and the Times acknowledged almost a decade ago), it does not appear to be the case with Unfit for Command. The Times now notes with a dagger (+) instances where bulk buying might have influenced the rankings, and no dagger appears by Unfit for Command. Check it out here.

    Update: MSNBC has posted a transcript of the interview. More thoughts on the interview from JustOneMinute:

    In response to each question, Kerry delivered his stump speech, which was a bit tough for the radio audience - I thought Imus should have inserted one of those warnings saying "Do Not Listen To This If Driving or Operating Heavy Machinery"; what a time for Kerry to attempt a filibuster.

    Kerry's proposed healthcare spending spree

    Last week I printed a couple of reasons to dislike the Kerry health plan.

    Joshua Claybourne examines the costs of the Kerry plan more closely:

    [T]he Massachusetts Senator offers health care proposals at a 10-year cost of $653 billion to $1 trillion, depending on which campaign you ask. The proposals are in addition to the $564 billion already enacted by Republicans last year. Either way the costs are enormous, and the proposals come from a candidate who spent most of last week hypocritically complaining about Bush budget deficits.

    Claybourne argues, and I agree, that Bush, backed by a Republican Congress, should never have let healthcare spending grow as much as it has. But I also agree that Kerry would only make it worse.

    (Via Andrew Sullivan.)

    Update: ScrappleFace has a different perspective:

    "George W. Bush can only wish that I had a plan so he could have something to attack," said Mr. Kerry, who is also a U.S. Senator. "But if I had a health care plan, don't you think I would have introduced it during my 19 years in the Senate? After all, the legislative branch is where legislation starts, not the executive. I could have written a health care bill, rallied support among my senate colleagues and used my ample leadership skills to push it through with a veto-proof majority."


    Tuesday, September 14, 2004

    A British bobby on why Bush will win

    A bobby explains Bush's appeal:

    I like Bush because he is affable and if he says he’s going to bomb you he is as good as his word and I think that counts for a lot in politicians today. Articulate he is not but he seems to get by.

    I never could warm to Clinton because he fudged everything which probably means he was a pretty good politician. He will always be remembered for his poor judgement where women were concerned.

    As for Kerry he seems blessed with neither charm, determination nor political savvy.

    I think the Bush dynasty is safe.

    This comes via Peter Schramm whose blog, No Left Turns, I found today. Schramm is a former Reagan official and current head of the Ashbrook Center, an organization whose programs are "are directed to the scholarly defense of individual liberty, limited constitutional government and civic morality, which together constitute our democratic way of life." Sounds good to me.

    From my first exposure to Schramm's work, I like it. And you cannot quibble with his judgment in terms of the links he chooses for his blog.

    Forgeries & WMDs

    A Jonah Goldberg reader compares Rather's stance on the memos to a hypothetical Bush stance on WMDs:

    Imagine this press conference:

    GW Bush: We found WMD in Iraq. All of our critics have been completely discredited.

    Media: Can we see them?

    GW: No. You'll just have to take my word for it. We have experts to prove their authenticity.

    Media: Can we talk to the experts? Can we interview the people who found the weapons?

    GW: NO. And the mere fact that you are asking these questions proves that you are partisan rumor mongers. End of story. case closed.

    Seems to be the comparison is not yet complete. Imagine the press conference continuing:

    Media: We have pictures of the alleged WMDs. Our experts say that they're really peashooters.

    GW: Our experts have credentials. We only choose experts who never wear pajamas.

    Media: But our experts say that the straws in the pictures could really only be used to shoot peas.

    GW: The weapons we found were clearly labelled "nuclear, biological and chemical weapons." Our experts have confirmed that.

    Media: Did your experts see the weapons?

    GW: We described the weapons to our experts over the phone. We told them about the "nuclear, biological and chemical weapons" label. Our experts have assured us that this labeling is consistent with WMDs.

    A message to CBS

    Here's a copy of a message I sent to CBS News' consumer alerts folks:

    On your website, you write, "Know of a scam that needs investigating? Tell us about it! Email us at ."

    Please launch an investigation into the scam CBS' 60 Minutes II perpetrated by presenting documents damaging to the President which have turned out very likely to be forgeries.

    Also please investigate why CBS is standing by its story when so many other media outlets, major and minor, have determined the documents to be faked.

    Thank you,

    (Hat tip: AlphaPatriot.)

    Sullivan on Rather

    I'd like to say that Dan Rather needs to resign from his profession. But, judging from the last few days, he already has.

    Monday, September 13, 2004

    Political comics

    Now that the best political comic strip around is on indefinite hiatus, check out these political cartoons.

    Lest we forget -- 1098 days ago

    Worth watching.

    I cried as I watched.

    It's not easy to watch, to remember. But it's important.

    (Hat tip.)

    Update: A round up of sentiments on 9/11.


    Many pundits have more to say than I do on the CBS News memo kerfuffle.

    So as part of what Hugh Hewitt has called the blog tail, I'll leave it at this:
    Dan Rather is a doddering fool and CBS is covering up for him.
    Update: For those not familiar with the issue, check out:

    Thursday, September 09, 2004

    It's appalling if their guy does it

    In an unsigned editorial today, the NY Times writes that,
    it would be appalling to suggest that terrorists were rooting for one side or another in this race.
    The reference is to a recent comment by Dick Cheney, a known supporter of Bush.

    Where was the outrage of the Times editorial writers when Times columnist Paul Krugman, a known hater of Bush, wrote,
    In reality, all infidels probably look alike to the terrorists, but if they do have a preference, nothing in Mr. Bush's record would make them unhappy at the prospect of four more years.
    Hat tip: Taranto.

    Am I an idiot? The Kerry health plan

    Am I an idiot?

    Well I don't like some pieces of the Kerry health plan, so I must be.

    A couple of the points I don't like:
    • Increasing government's role by "having the federal government pick up 75 percent of catastrophic costs" and by "picking up the full cost of more than 20 million children."
    • Increasing costs through higher legal fees, couched as "allow[ing] Americans to hold HMOs accountable."
    And those are just a couple of the unsavory aspects of the plan that leap out based on a 45-second review of the document.

    (Link via LGF commenter Sean II.)

    Blame the Jews for the Russian massacre

    I am shocked, shocked! to find that various members of the Arab media are blaming the Jews and Israel for the massacre of children in Russia.

    In fairness, some in the Arab media have condemned the killings outright and bemoaned that the terrorists were Muslim.

    Wednesday, September 08, 2004

    Wrong war...

    What is the origin of the phrase "Iraq: wrong war, wrong place, wrong time," the apparent new rallying cry of John Kerry?

    A Cato Institute article published January 1, 2003 in Liberty Magazine was entitled, "Iraq: Wrong Place, Wrong Time, Wrong War." It took Kerry a while to jump on the bandwagon.

    We're better off without Saddam, but we'd be better off without having invaded Iraq (or something like that)

    On Monday Kerry called the invasion of Iraq,
    the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    In response to a Howard Dean comment last December, Kerry said on CNN Capital Gang,
    Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein and those who believe today that we are not safer with his capture don't have the judgment to be president.
    I'm sure that a Kerry-supporting commentator could contrive a nuanced reconcilation of the two sentiments, but they don't jibe with me.

    (Hat tip for the two quotations: William Kristol.)

    Tuesday, September 07, 2004

    All the news that's fit to print (unless it hurts our guy!)

    All the news that's fit to print (unless it hurts our guy!)

    Saturday, September 04, 2004

    Getting petty with Hillary

    Hillary on her husband's impending quadruple bypass surgery:
    We're in very good hands and we're delighted we have good health insurance. That makes a big difference and I hope some day everybody will be able to say the same thing.
    On the one hand, it is a tough time for her, so I should let her comment slide.

    On the other hand, I'm not going to.

    Thought A: Give me a friggin' break -- must she politicize everything?

    Thought B: Her statement is not even factually accurate. Having health insurance does not "make a big difference" in their case. In some people's cases, yes, but not in theirs. Between Bill and Hillary's two best sellers, they could afford the best heart surgery they can find even had they no insurance whatsoever.

    (Hat tip: KJL at The Corner.)

    9/11 Republican

    Two anecdotes I heard today from two friends of my family:

    A life-long 40-something Democrat living in Westchester County, NY says she is now a "9/11 Republican" and will vote for Bush.

    Another life-long Democrat (70-ish), perhaps under the influence of her Balkan significant other, is voting for Bush.

    Friday, September 03, 2004

    Answering Josh Marshall

    Looking for liberal reaction to Bush's speech tonight, I surfed to Talking Points Memo. As of this posting there is nothing on Bush's speech, but Josh Marshall has laid down a weird challenge:
    I don't know if George Pataki or the others can point to where John Kerry said he would only attack terrorists after they attacked us first.
    Well, Josh, perhaps you didn't find Kerry's acceptance speech at the Democratic convention very memorable, so let me remind you of a key line. In an effort to prove his strength on terror, Kerry said,
    I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as President. Let there be no mistake: I will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response.
    Zell Miller and George Pataki simply pointed out that we've already been attacked.

    Update: A Marshall urges me via e-mail to read Kerry's speech closer: "Does he say he'll only attack if attacked first?"

    Let's look at what Pataki said at the convention (since that was what Marshall was referring to in the first place):
    Where does Senator Kerry stand on all this? In Boston, he said that in the future "any attack would be met with a swift and certain response."

    Well, respectfully Senator, that's not good enough.

    We've already been attacked, time and again.
    Pataki quoted Kerry verbatim, then showed why Kerry's approach is not good enough. Pataki's point is valid, even essential.

    We have been attacked. We are at war against terrorism. Kerry should be talking about how he will win this war, rather than describing a future response to a possible future attack. We no longer need to wait for provocation; the provocation is there. Waiting could be deadly.

    Perhaps this is a fundamental difference between the mindsets of the two candidates. Bush understands that waiting for a future attack could be deadly to us; he believes the war is on and we need to take it to the enemy. Kerry has not been persuasive that he believes this, certainly not through his comments at the convention.

    Thursday, September 02, 2004

    Bush (the son) and Reagan

    Earlier I wrote about the data showing that the wealthy bear a higher portion of the tax burden under the Bush tax cuts than under previous tax law. And I wrote that the mainstream press routinely misses the story.

    Interestingly, the identical scenario occured with the Reagan tax cuts, both in terms of the wealthy bearing more of the tax burden after the cuts and the media stating the opposite.

    Let's hope Bush is as appreciated 16 years after his retirement as Reagan was 16 years after his.

    Red-faced red meat or time-honored tradition? Depends on which party ABC is covering.

    ABC's Good Morning America commenting on Zell Miller's speech at the 2004 Republican convention:
    ...Senator Miller pounded and pounded and pounded. It may have been very effective politics; it was not subtle.
    And this:
    Zell Miller was on a tirade. I mean, he was red faced, red meat for the red states.
    And this:
    Miller all but questioned Kerry's patriotism.
    Contrast that with ABC's Good Morning America's coverage of Zell Miller's speech at the 1992 Democratic convention: Miller
    engaged in the time-honored tradition of attacking the opposition.
    Conscious bias? Of course not. Bias? Of course.

    (Via InstaPundit.)

    Bush inching ahead

    PoliPundit writes that President's Bush's numbers in Rasmussen's tracking poll are the best since March. Here are the numbers:
    Date Bush Kerry
    Sept 2: 49 45
    Sept 1: 47 47
    Aug 31: 47 46
    Aug 30: 47 46
    Aug 29: 48 45
    Aug 28: 47 46
    Aug 27: 46 46
    Aug 26: 47 46
    Prof. Reynolds asks if it's a bounce. Perhaps, but not necessarily fully attributable to the convention. The dates are release dates compiling data from the three prior nights. So if there is a convention bounce it will not show up fully until Friday or later.

    Good news in any case, however. More relevant is that Bush seems to be surging (okay, perhaps poking ahead) in Rasmussen's electoral projections:
    Date Bush Kerry
    Aug 29: 213 207
    Aug 28: 200 190
    Aug 27: 183 193
    Aug 22: 183 203
    Aug 20: 183 223
    Aug 18: 192 223
    Aug 17: 192 228
    Aug 9: 197 228
    Aug 5: 197 232
    Aug 3: 197 227
    Jul 23: 208 227
    Jul 12: 197 254
    Jul 9: 203 247
    Jul 8: 203 226
    Jul 7: 203 237
    Jun 21: 203 210
    Jun 17: 188 227
    Jun 9: 177 227

    Quote of the day

    Tim Goodman:
    Somewhere this very morning, in a Democratic strategy session, someone is probably saying this: "Well, here's an idea, guys. How about not making Zell Miller mad again?"

    Swift boats and (media) double standards

    Benjamin Ginsberg pens a telling piece on media bias:
    Think you're getting unbiased, balanced coverage of politics? Or is there a double standard in the way the media treat Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives? ... Consider this:

    A $500,000 ad buy made by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth brings searing media scrutiny and "proof" of illegal coordination based on a lawyer (me) representing both the Bush-Cheney campaign and the Swift Boat Veterans; on an accountant working for Tom DeLay's political action committee; and on a $200,000 contributor to the group who is not a major donor to Bush-Cheney 2004 but who does know Karl Rove.
    Meanwhile, the media give practically no scrutiny to a $63 million, five-month, negative-ad buy done by Democratic "527" groups (the Media Fund, and others) with a revolving door of connections to the Kerry campaign. Consider:
    • Kerry campaign lawyer Bob Bauer and Democratic National Committee counsel Joe Sandler also represent 527s -- not illegal, but doesn't it deserve a little scrutiny?
    • Jim Jordan, John Kerry's campaign manager until last November, works for three of the 527s.
    • Harold Ickes, an executive committee member of the Democratic National Committee, heads the Media Fund.
    • Bill Richardson simultaneously chaired the Democrats' national convention and a 527.
    • Michael Meehan became Kerry's spokesman after running NARAL Pro-Choice America's "soft money" programs.
    • Zack Exley went from being a executive to the Kerry campaign.
    The coordination law prohibits individuals from "using or conveying" information on the private "plans, needs or projects" of a campaign to a 527 or vice versa. If the media can scrutinize my legal work, which doesn't even fall under the anti-coordination rules, why can't they scrutinize these Democrats with equal diligence?

    Bob Perry has been criticized and scrutinized for giving $200,000 to the group questioning Kerry's claims about his Vietnam service and for knowing Rove. But does anyone in the media see a double standard in the lack of reporting on the far more direct connections among major Kerry-Edwards fundraisers who have contributed to their 527s? These include: [list omitted]....

    The point isn't that they -- any more than Bob Perry -- have done anything illegal or improper. But the connections of these Democratic donors are far more direct than Perry's -- and there's been no similar media scrutiny for ad buys 126 times greater than the one Perry helped fund. If the media clamor that President Bush renounce the $500,000 Swift boat ad is fair, how many reporters asked Kerry whether he would request his 527s to cease their $63 million in negative ads? Also, wouldn't an unbiased press corps have gotten John Edwards to release his list of major fundraisers, as the Bush-Cheney campaign voluntarily did?

    When the Bush-Cheney campaign filed a detailed, 70-page complaint detailing illegal coordination by Democrats, the move produced 14 news articles, with no follow-up. When the Kerry campaign filed an unsupportable charge of coordination about the Swift boat ads, there were 74 articles, and the pack swarmed.

    Perhaps the reason is that, politically and culturally, reporters are far from representative of the voters or politicians they claim to cover objectively and fairly, as shown in a study by the Pew Research Center. That study concluded that
    journalists at national and local news organizations are notably different from the general public in their ideology and attitudes toward political and social issues. . . . [N]ews people, especially national journalists, are more liberal, and far less conservative, than the general public. . . . About a third of national journalists (34 percent) . . . describe themselves as liberals; that compares with 19 percent of the public. . . . Moreover, there is a relatively small number of conservatives at national and local news organizations. Just 7 percent of national news people . . . describe themselves as conservatives, compared with a third of all Americans.
    In a 50-50 nation, how do the media square this imbalance with the claim of being objective, fair and nonpartisan? The double standard in reporting on 527s suggests that some of the withering scrutiny visited on the Swift boat veterans should be directed inward.

    (Link via Andrew Hofer.)