November 2004, Part 2
Jim Miller on Politics
Some Kinds Of Vote Fraud Are More Equal Than Other Kinds:
That's the conclusion I have drawn from many years of reading the New York Times. Which kinds are more equal? Let's see.
Last Friday, the New York Times put this article on the front page, while admitting that there was nothing to it.
Other possible instances of vote fraud have also drawn the attention of the New York Times. The newspaper did a big investigation of the Florida military vote in 2000, all focused on whether Bush had received a few votes that he was not entitled to. (They were uninterested in whether he had lost some military votes that he was entitled to.) They have given extensive coverage to the possibility that electronic voting machines, especially those from Diebold, whose chief executive has supported Bush, might be hacked.
But they are almost completely uninterested in other cases of vote fraud, especially the kind that occurs routinely. That kind, as I have mentioned many times before, is almost all committed by Democrats (often against other Democrats), in minority communities, with absentee ballots, by people who having been creating fraudulent votes for years. Those who want examples can go back through my posts for the last year or so, or can search for newspaper articles on the subject.
They are even uninterested in vote fraud that almost tipped a presidential election. There is strong evidence that Democratic operatives almost stole enough votes, about 15,000, from George W. Bush in Palm Beach county to tip Florida and the election to Al Gore. The New York Times has never bothered to investigate the charges, though they drew intense interest from Republicans on the net at the time, and have been raised again by John Fund in his book, Stealing Elections. (If you are interested in the evidence, look here and here.)
What makes the first set of vote fraud stories more equal than the second set? Why does the first set deserve space in the New York Times, while the second set does not? Two possibilities jump out from the examples. Potential vote fraud is important, but real vote fraud is not. Or, Republican vote fraud is important, but Democratic fraud is not. I think, having read the New York Times for many years, that we can combine the two for a stronger statement: For the New York Times (and most other "mainstream" news organizations), potential Republican vote fraud is important, but real Democratic vote fraud is not.
Often, as in this example, the bias in the liberal media is found more in which stories they choose to cover — and which stories they choose not to cover — than in how they cover stories.
(Incidentally, this problem of selection bias invalidates the method Daniel Okrent used to test for bias in election coverage at the New York Times. Okrent concluded, after reading all of the newspaper's election coverage for months, that the newspaper had been fair. The conclusion, even if you agreed with Okrent, which I don't, is unwarranted. Every single election story could have been fair and balanced, and the newspaper could still have been biased. If every story on Bush had a negative subject and every story on Kerry had a positive subject, the newspaper's election coverage would have been massively biased, even if none of the stories were.Crossposted at Oh, That Liberal Media.)
- 4:56 PM, 16 November 2004 [link]
Last Month, I wrote a post describing what might be called distributed vote fraud, fraud committed not by a party or a candidate, but by individual voters. Because we have loosened our election laws, distributed vote fraud is more common — and almost never detected. The most recent results from Washington's race for governor suddenly make the abstract argument in my post relevant.
Here's my guesstimate about the edge that Democrats get from distributed vote fraud in Washington state.
If the Democratic margin, statewide, is less than 100 votes, then illegal votes will certainly have tipped the election. If the Democratic margin is 1,000 votes, then illegal votes will almost certainly have tipped the election. If the Democratic margin is 10,000 votes, then illegal votes probably did not tip the election.And here's Christine Gregoire's current margin.
Gregoire led by 158 votes last night among nearly 2.8 million votes counted. Observers say a mandatory recount seems likely, with election officials estimating there are nearly 22,000 ballots still left to count across the state two weeks after Election Day.That's narrow enough so that I would say that Gregoire's current lead almost certainly comes from illegal ballots.
Let me repeat an argument I have made before. With our current election laws, every close win by a Democrat, in primaries or in general elections, will look suspicious. That's not good for our democracy.
(If Dino Rossi does lose very narrowly, should he make a legal fight and look for enough illegal votes to invalidate the election? I would advise against it. Although it might be possible, in principle, to prove that enough illegal votes were cast to decide the election, it would be enormously expensive and divisive. And the Republicans would get no sympathy at all from the "mainstream" media in such a fight.)
- 7:42 AM, 16 November 2004 [link]
Vote Fraud In Bernalillo County: At the end of this post, I noted that there was strong evidence that many of the provisional ballots cast in New Mexico's Bernalillo county were fraudulent and speculated that there might have been an organized effort to stuff the ballot box by one a radical group supported by George Soros, such as ACORN. Today I received an email from New Mexico supporting that speculation.
I can tell you that ACORN was very active in a number of areas in New Mexico. Living nearby, I'm especially aware of how active they were in Bernalillo County. Among other things, news reports indicate they were implicated in the large number of voter registrations (the news stories said 10-20,000) identified as fraudulent when the voter registration cards sent out were returned by the post office because they were for nonexistent addresses. They were apparently also the reason a number of parents were surprised to find voter registration cards arriving in the mail for their 12- and 13-year-old children. I don't know if the voter registration forms found in a couple of crack houses were collected by people they employed. I also don't know how many of these "people" voted.(Those not from New Mexico may need to know that Bernalillo county includes Albuquerque. It is the largest county in the state, with 356,638 registered voters.)
What made me suspicious of vote fraud was the number of provisional ballots, about 12,000, according to this brief article. What made me certain of vote fraud was the number disqualified, roughly 6,600. That's about 6,000 too many to attribute to clerical errors. In the count of provisional ballots, John Kerry gained, if this article is correct, about 1,400 votes. We can be certain that part of that gain was illegitimate. When vote fraud is this widespread, not all of it will be detected.
An investigation of vote fraud in the county has been started by the state police and the US Attorney established an "Election Fraud Task Force" this summer to review complaints. Thank you, John Ashcroft.
How important is this? In 2000, Al Gore won New Mexico by 365 votes — officially.
(Those who follow these matters will not surprised to learn that the county has a history of disputes, that the Democrats are complaining that the Republicans are disqualifying voters for technicalities, that the Democratic Secretary of State was making it difficult for Republican observers to watch the counts, or that a "mainstream" newspaper was discounting, rather than investigating, Republican complaints).
- 3:38 PM, 15 November 2004 [link]
If Bureaucrats Are To Win Their Wars with elected officials, they almost always need support from sympathetic journalists. The CIA bureaucrats who are warring on the Bush administration have that support from Dana Priest and Walter Pincus of the Washington Post. In this article, they tell us that the CIA is in turmoil and that it is threatened by the actions of by Porter Goss's chief of staff, Patrick Murray. who is, an anonymous CIA informant tells us, "highly partisan", a charge that must have drawn a few laughs the White House considering its origin. In this article, they tell us that the new CIA chief, Porter Goss, may be isolating himself from the top level staff. (Since he is firing many of them, for good cause, that would seem to be a good idea.) And in this article, Dana Priest tells us that the turmoil continues.
Pincus must have had to grit his teeth when he wrote this latest story, with its dynamite quotes from Senator John McCain.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) yesterday supported CIA Director Porter J. Goss's shake-up of the intelligence agency, which he described as "dysfunctional" and not providing President Bush with the information needed to conduct the war on terrorism.Pincus skipped the most interesting quote, in which McCain, not a man to mince words, described the CIA as "in some ways a rogue agency", but Pincus did have space for a long defense from Congresswoman Jane Harman.
In none of the articles do Priest and Pincus tell us about the astonishing campaign by the CIA bureaucrats against the Bush administration, nor do they even hint at just how unusual that was. They deliberately leave out the heart of the story.
Should you ever trust Priest and Pincus? No. What they write may be true, but we can never be sure, as this series of articles shows, that it is the whole truth, or that they have even attempted to tell a balanced story. That often happens when journalists become conduits for bureaucrats attacking elected officials. The journalists can preserve their access to people who are, after all, breaking regulations and possibly laws, only by doing incomplete and slanted stories.
(The CIA bureaucrats have one victory in this war. They knocked off one of Porter Goss's aides by revealing that he had left the CIA because of a shop lifting incident. Did a CIA bureaucrat break the law by revealing that? Of course.)
- 11:06 AM, 15 November 2004 [link]
What Kind Of People Are We Fighting in Falluja? The kind of people who would take a middle aged civilian woman captive and then do this to her.
The body of a blonde-haired woman with her legs and arms cut off and throat slit was found Sunday lying on a street in Fallujah, a notorious Iraqi enclave for hostage-takers, marines said.They have not identified her yet, but there are two main possibilities.
Two foreign women have been abducted in Iraq and remain missing.What kind of people are we fighting in Falluja? The kind of people who would do these things.
U.S. Marines have found beheading chambers, bomb-making factories and even one Iraqi hostage as they swept through Fallujah — turning up hard evidence of the city's role in the insurgent campaign to drive American forces from Iraq.Hundreds of Iraqi civilians. The Iraqi troops who are fighting on our side in Falluja have even better reasons for the fight there than we do.
Those who mutilate and kill helpless women and murder civilians have their supporters in the United States. As Stefan Sharkansky noted here, one of the "peace" demonstrators in Seattle last week had a sign saying "Hands Off Fallujah". I guess whoever held it felt that there have been too few mutilated and murdered women, too few murdered Iraqi civilians.
- 7:07 AM, 12 November 2004 [link]
Michael Moore Has Destroyed Many Friendships: The creator of that nasty propaganda piece, Fahrenheit 9/11, has much to answer for. The hatred for Bush on the left did not originate with Moore, but he strengthened it and provided the less critical and less informed many reasons, some contradictory, for their hate. And his ideas didn't stay on the far left. As many have noted, his themes entered the speeches of many Democrats during the campaign, including John Kerry's.
Many of those who used material from Fahrenheit 9/11 did not believe all of what Moore said. Columnist Paul Krugman was more open about this than most when he said, more or less, that much in the movie was false, but that the movie was useful propaganda anyway. (That seems like an odd stance for a full time academic and part time journalist, but perhaps I am not up on the current standards at Princeton and the New York Times.) For that matter, it was never clear to me that Moore himself believed all that was in his own movie. When challenged on particular facts, he has often retreated into saying that Fahrenheit 9/11 is a comic work — even though it won prizes as a documentary.
The hate that the movie inspired will poison our politics for many years. It has also damaged many friendships, as you can see in several of the comments in this Tim Blair thread.
I have all but lost the closest friend I have ever had, all because of my support for George Bush. She ended up being virtually brainwashed by Fahrenheit 9/11 and has since become a hate-filled, bitter person.Those on the left who agree with Moore tend to think that supporting Bush is evil; those who disagree with Moore (not all on the right) think believing him is idiotic. It is hard to sustain a friendship in those circumstances.
I had a small experience of this kind myself. At one of the local bookstores, I have sometimes chatted pleasantly with one of the clerks, an older man originally from Britain, judging by his accent. And then, a month or so ago, he urged me, more or less out of the blue, to see Fahrenheit 9/11. I am sure it did not occur to him that I might be offended by the very suggestion and that I would think less of anyone who made it.
(There's an interesting account here describing how this hatred, partly caused by Michael Moore, has divided a small town. It includes one unintentionally funny bit describing how a "part-time education teacher", Cameron Marzelli, is doing research on those strange people who voted for Bush. They, and the small towns that contain so many Bush voters, make her "nervous", she says. She's an academic of sorts and is uncomfortable talking to people who disagree with her — which says something interesting about the University of Massachusetts, where she works.)
- 5:48 AM, 12 November 2004 [link]
Want To Be A Space Tourist? I needed a break from politics, so I downloaded Celestia and flew around the universe for while this afternoon.
Celestia is a free real-time space simulation that lets you experience our universe in three dimensions. Unlike most planetarium software, Celestia doesn't confine you to the surface of the Earth. You can travel throughout the solar system, to any of over 100,000 stars, or even beyond the galaxy. All travel in Celestia is seamless; the exponential zoom feature lets you explore space across a huge range of scales, from galaxy clusters down to spacecraft only a few meters across. A 'point-and-goto' interface makes it simple to navigate through the universe to the object you want to visit.It isn't quite as intuitive as that description suggests. I would advise downloading the documentation along with the program, and looking through the section on controls before you try flights by yourself, though you won't need to read it for the demonstration and the canned destinations.
You can even, according to the Discover article that induced me to download the program, hitch a ride on an unmanned spacecraft and view the solar system from its perspective. The latest version includes the Cassini spacecraft now exploring Saturn and its moons.
You aren't limited to the real universe; users have added data files that let you visit parts of the Star Trek and Babylon 5 universes. One fan has even created a terraformed Venus, many years in the future. For more add-ons, see this site.
Celestia would be a good teaching program for elementary and junior high science, I think.
(Since it uses 3-D graphics, you'll need a fairly modern computer to run it. It worked fine on my two year old home built system, which was mid range at the time I built it. There are versions for Windows, the Macintosh, and Linux (SUSE and Mandrake). The program file is about 11 meg and the document (in MS Word form) is about 3 meg.)
- 5:30 PM, 12 November 2004 [link]
Bush Versus The Bureaucracy: Let me reverse the usual order and begin with an old-fashioned solution.
If we lived in a primitive age, the ground at Langley [the CIA headquarters] would be laid waste and salted, and there would be heads on spikes.Alas, there are practical difficulties with that solution, but something must be done about the problem, which threatens the very foundation of our democracy.
Now that he's been returned to office, President Bush is going to have to differentiate between his opponents and his enemies. His opponents are found in the Democratic Party. His enemies are in certain offices of the Central Intelligence Agency.Brooks doesn't even mention one of the worst violations; the CIA has been funding anti-Bush organizations, possibly in violation of the law. Of course the leaks to news organizations violate regulations, and may violate the law if they reveal classified information.
How does this revolt at the CIA threaten the foundation of democracy? The CIA is refusing to accept the results of our elections. Bush won in 2000 and again this year. Under our system, that gives him the right to set the policy. Officials in the CIA (or any other bureaucracy) are free to disagree, privately, or to resign and make their disagreements public. They can not legitimately revolt against Bush's policies.
The consequences of this revolt could be disastrous. The war against terrorism can be won only through good intelligence. By attempting to destroy the Bush administration, the CIA bureaucrats have made it certain that everything that they produce will be distrusted, and that the White House will not share intelligence with the CIA. Brooks says that has already happened.
White House officials concluded that they could no longer share important arguments and information with intelligence officials.It is entirely possible that we will fail to detect a terrorist attack because of this information blockage.
I can see only one permanent solution to this problem; we must cut back on civil service protections for managers at the CIA and other bureaucracies. This is not a new idea; Charles Peters, the founder of the Washington Monthly (and a man of the left) argued for it for many years, for exactly the reason that I have given above. In a democracy, elected officials should have the power to control the bureaucracies.
There is a short term measure that could help. Bush should appoint a prosecutor to investigate the possible violations of the law by CIA officials. We need a tough, no-nonsense prosecutor with a gift for publicity. Rudolph Giulani comes to mind, and he does seem to be looking for work, though he might not want this job. It would be fun to hear Giulani explain to CIA officials that they can listen to "Hill Pukes", or they can resign.
(There is nothing new about this problem. It is not even unique to democracies. Bureaucracies have followed their own policies since they were invented. Some American bureaucracies — the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover and the Army Corps of Engineers under many leaders come to mind — have been able to escape effective control for many years. All large American bureaucracies have at least a few civil servants who undermine elected leaders. But there are customary limits; for example, when the Defense Department fought Clinton on a number of issues, it did not go nearly as far as the CIA has in its revolt against Bush.
The State Department has also been in revolt against Bush, though not so outrageously. But it has been bad enough to inspire an anonymous site, with this explanation for its existence.
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!And they appeal to a "Republican Underground" at the State Department for tips. Think about that for a moment. The people in the State Department who support President Bush — who was, I repeat, elected — find it wise to conceal their views.
The argument Brooks makes will be familiar to Laurie Mylroie, whose book, Bush vs. the Beltway, is subtitled "How the CIA and the State Department Tried to Stop the War on Terror".)
- 7:56 AM, 12 November 2004 [link]
The Ecological Fallacy, Again: More than two years ago, I explained this fallacy, after spotting it in a Paul Krugman column. Since my traffic was much lower then, many of you will not have seen the explanation, so let me go through it again. Here are some classic examples and a definition from a semi-official source.
In 19th century Europe, suicide rates were higher in countries that were more heavily Protestant, the inference being that suicide was promoted by the social conditions of Protestantism (Durkheim 1897; also see Neeleman and Lewis 1999). According to Carroll (1975), death rates from breast cancer are higher in countries where fat is a larger component of the diet, the idea being that fat intake causes breast cancer. These are 'ecological inferences,' that is, inferences about individual behavior drawn from data about aggregates.Please note the "necessarily" and the "may be". Fat in the diet may cause breast cancer, but you can not be certain of that looking only at the national statistics of breast cancer and dietary fat.
In this campaign year, many have made this error. It is tempting because we know which states backed which candidate, and we have mountains of aggregate data on the states. Let me give you three examples, from many. One Bill Well posted a chart that correlated state IQs and votes in the 2000 election, showing that states with higher IQs generally voted for Gore. (You may have seen an updated version for the 2004 election.) I assume he wants us to infer that Gore (or Kerry) voters have higher average IQs than Bush voters. Columnist Michelle Malkin used aggregate state data on charitable contributions to show that states that voted for Bush in 2004 were more generous than states that voted for Kerry. I assume she wants us to infer that Bush voters are more generous than Kerry voters. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman makes a whole set of inferences, some resting on data from a single state, Massachusetts.
Yes, Democrats need to make it clear that they support personal virtue, that they value fidelity, responsibility, honesty and faith. This shouldn't be a hard case to make: Democrats are as likely as Republicans to be faithful spouses and good parents, and Republicans are as likely as Democrats to be adulterers, gamblers or drug abusers. Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the country; blue states, on average, have lower rates of out-of-wedlock births than red states.All of these conclusions were arrived at through the ecological fallacy, so the reasoning behind them is wrong. That does not necessarily mean that the conclusions are wrong, though most of them are. Since Republicans have higher average levels of education than Democrats, most likely the average IQ for Republicans is higher by few points than for Democrats. (Republicans should not get too proud about that, because there are more Democrats with advanced degrees, so the Democrats probably have an edge among the very smart, as well as the not so smart.) Malkin is probably right about individual generosity; I think I have seen survey data that supports her argument.
Let me take Krugman's claims one by one. Democrats, on the average, value faith less than Republicans, as the exit polls in the New York Times show. Those who voted for Kerry were much less likely to attend religious services. Democratic activists are much more likely than Republican activists to be hostile to people with faith, especially evangelicals. Democrats are a little less likely to be honest than Republicans, as a number of surveys have shown. (This result will not surprise those who remember that the Democrats have by far the biggest share of felons.) Democrats are less likely to be "faithful spouses and good parents", something one can see in the different support for the two parties among the married. The highest rates of out-of-wedlock births occur in groups that are heavily Democratic.
(I should add two points here, just for the Democrats in the audience. First, that Republicans have an edge, on the average, in personal morality does not mean that every Democrat is a terrible person, or that every Republican is a decent person. Second, a person's private behavior only weakly predicts their public choices. Some good people make terrible choices when they vote, and some bad people make good choices.)
So that's the fallacy, and there are some current examples. Try not to commit it yourself and if you see examples, please let me know about them.
(I have seen the ecological fallacy in Krugman's columns a number of times, which I find puzzling. The ecological fallacy is not an obscure error; I am almost certain that many at Krugman's academic home, Princeton, would have spotted it, just as I did. Do none of them tell Krugman, or does he ignore his fellow professors when they try to correct him? Neither seems plausible, but those are the only possibilities that I can see.
I plan to write a brief letter to the New York Times about the error in Krugman's columns, but doubt that they will print it.
There are other errors in the IQ table, as the author more or less admits. Let me mention one common mistake, deriving IQs from the SATs, by state. Although you can get an IQ from an SAT score, you can not easily get a state's average IQ from a state's average SAT scores. There are many reasons for that; perhaps the most important is that not every high school student takes the SATs.
The statistically inclined may want to read more of the paper I used for the definition. There are more examples, with statistics, and some discussion of several statistical techniques that sometimes can be used to infer individual behavior from aggregate data.)
- 2:30 PM, 12 November 2004 [link]
More Trouble With Provisional Ballots: There will be a lawsuit over Washington state's gubernatorial election.
State Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt said yesterday his party is "exploring all options," including suing King County for failing to let his party inspect a list of voters whose provisional ballots might be thrown out.KVI radio has just reported that Berendt has filed the lawsuit, which he had to do today for any practical effect.
Berendt wants that list because the Democratic candate for governor, Christine Gregoire, is now trailing by more than 3,500 votes and needs every vote she can get.
County officials have found signature problems with about 929 provisional ballots. Those ballots will be counted only if voters sign another form by 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Each voter who cast a provisional ballot at a county polling place Nov. 2 was given an access number to check online or by phone whether the vote was counted.King county, which includes Seattle and most of its suburbs, is controlled by the Democrats, but election officials there, citing federal law, have refused to release the list, which would allow the Democratic party to contact voters who have had their provisional votes invalidated because of signature mismatches. Other counties, controlled by Republicans, have released those lists. You would have to know far more than I do about election law to know which election officials are correct, though obviously it should be uniform.
In the rest of the article, I learned that Republican watchers are trying hard to check the signature matches, and that the Democrats are complaining of harassment when the observers get too close. On this issue, again assuming the article is correct, I think the Republicans are in the right. You can't verify signatures without a close look.
I fear that no matter which candidate wins this election some in the losing party will think it stolen.
(Earlier, King county was estimating that they had about 37,000 provisional ballots. If they have counted 12,000 and disqualified 929 for mismatched signatures, then about 8 percent of the provisional ballots are being disqualified — for that reason alone. Presumably many others are being disqualified for other reasons. I gather that only those with signature problems can be retrieved.)
- 7:01 AM, 12 November 2004 [link]
Yesterday, I Received a question about the "insourcing" post. That led me to take a look at the NAM site for answers, where I found this "Fact of the Day".
In 2000, one-in-five manufacturing jobs was supported by exports, a 40-percent increase from 1990 when less than one-in-seven jobs depended on exports. While this represents impressive growth, even more impressive are the good-quality jobs supported by exports that, on average, pay 14 percent more than jobs supported by the domestic economy.So our manufacturing exports are gaining as a share of our total manufacturing. That's hard to reconcile with the claim, often made, that the United States can't compete in manufacturing. Some one must be buying our stuff, besides ourselves.
(Now one might be skeptical about material from a lobbying group such as the National Association of Manufacturers, but the figures they are using come from the Commerce Department.
And there's another number I found at the site, also from the government, that you might find interesting. In the last 12 months, manufacturing grew at the rate of 4.9 percent, which is, I am fairly sure, faster than the economy as a whole.)
- 11:05 AM, 11 November 2004 [link]
Veteran's Day is a good day to remember World War II columnist Ernie Pyle. Though he never served in the armed forces, he died with them, shot by a Japanese machine gunner in 1945 on Ie Shima. Before that, he had covered the war almost continuously, beginning with the Battle of Britain in 1940.
His columns almost all looked at the war from the viewpoint of the soldier, or the sailor, or the Marine. He actually apologizes when he spends some time with General Bradley. Typically, he spent time with a small unit and used what he learned to explain a small part of the war. To understand urban warfare, he went with a small unit as it captured part of a town. To understand anti-aircraft, he spent a night with a unit protecting the Normandy beachhead. To understand the the tank recovery units, he went with one as it hauled back damaged tanks in the darkness. (Both German and American. The soldiers in this unit knew the German tanks so well that one soldier crawled into one and diagnosed its problem by feel; some control levers were bent, blocking movement.) To understand ordnance, he spent a day in a shop where men repaired guns and other equipment.
He found two of his most striking stories at the repair shop. Equipment was sometimes short in the first days of the Normandy invasion.
Repairmen told me how our paratroopers and infantrymen would straggle back, dirty and hazy-eyed with fatigue, and plead like children for a new rifle immediately so they could get back to the front and "get at them sonsabitches." One paratrooper brought in a German horse he had captured and offered to trade it for new rifle, he needed it so badly.The rifles that the unit was repairing sometimes told stories, including one very sad one.
Just as a driver paints a name on his truck, so does a doughboy carve his name or initials on his rifle butt. I saw crude whittlings of initials in the hard walnut stocks and unbelievably craftsmanlike carvings of soldiers' names, and many, many names of girls. The boys said the most heartbreaking rifle was one belonging to a soldier who had carved a hole about silver-dollar size and put his wife or girl's picture in it, and sealed it over with a crystal of Plexiglas.Not all his stories were sad, or even sober. Pyle ended a column on anti-aircraft with this one.
So far as I know, we entered France without anybody making a historic remark about it. Last time, you know, it was "Lafayette, we are here." The nearest I heard to a historic remark was made by an ack-ack gunner, sitting on a mound of earth about two weeks after D-Day, reading the Stars and Stripes from London. All of a sudden he said, "Say, where's this Normandy beachhead it talks about in here?"(From Brave Men.)
Columns like those show why he was so popular with the soldiers, but they had a more practical reason to like him, too. Early in the war, fliers got extra pay for flight time, but infantrymen did not get extra pay for combat. After Pyle wrote a column urging "flight pay" for infantrymen, Congress passed a law making the change, a law popularly known as the "Ernie Pyle bill".
I won't make the comparison between Pyle and today's journalists, since you have, most likely, already done that. I think it fair to say that none will ever come close to his popularity with those in the front lines.
(You can read some of his columns here.
Veteran's Day was once "Armistice Day", after the day World War II ended; here's what I said about it two years ago.)
- 9:26 AM, 11 November 2004 [link]
Worth Reading: Belmont Club's posts on the fighting in Falluja. I found their discussion of enemy strategy, and how we are countering it, in this post especially interesting.
There are two factual nuggets in this screed [from an insurgent spokesman]. First, it gives us a map of the the towns which the enemy considers its bastions. Second, it hints of a fallback plan conceived before the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a subject earlier discussed in War Plan Orange. By plotting the enemy strongholds on the map it is at once evident that they are coextensive with two pathways.If you have any interest in the military problems our forces face, you'll want to read the whole thing.
- 6:22 AM, 11 November 2004 [link]
What Was Yasser Arafat? Or, to be more exact, what Western political category fits him best? The western categories do not always fit non-western political figures exactly, and some of our categories are less precise than we might like. Still, there is one that comes close. In my second post, I asked this same question about the Palestinian Authority. A look at the dictionary definition that I quoted there will show you that the Palestinian Authority can fairly be called a fascist organization. It follows that its founder and leader, Yasser Arafat, can also fairly be called fascist. For those who want to disagree, let me pose this question: If Arafat was not a fascist, what was he? No other western category comes close.
That almost no one on the left, where "fascist" is a common epithet, wants to admit this publicly shows how much we need a new Orwell, how much we need a man of the left willing to speak the plain and obvious truths.
That Arafat was also a terrorist is even less disputable, though that is almost as unmentionable as the fact that he was a fascist.
Some were not deceived about Arafat, but nonetheless deceived the public. I would guess that would explain Chris Patten's support for Arafat. As an official of the European Union, he helped block investigations that would link Arafat directly to terrorism — partially financed with money from the EU. From his public statements, I judge that Patten believed that Arafat was essential to some eventual peace agreement. Why a man as cynical and worldly as Patten thought that Arafat would ever agree to peace is not clear to me. Perhaps Patten didn't care about the lives, Israeli and Palestinian, that European subsidies helped to end. Perhaps he is simply too conventional, too much an insider, to think about the problem clearly.
You can find more about Arafat's bloody career here and here. I would only add that, like nearly every other fascist leader, Arafat brought enormous suffering to his own people, as well as others. As damaged as they are by his rule, I still wish them well. His death can not come too soon for the world, and for the Palestinians.
(I write of Arafat in the past tense, not knowing whether he is brain dead, as some reports say, though there are preparations being made for his funeral. There are so many rumors that is hard to know the truth of the matter; most likely he is brain dead, but the hospital is not pulling the plug while his wife and underlings struggle for power and the millions, perhaps billions, he stole from the Palestinians.)
- 4:20 PM, 10 November 2004 [link]
Last Week's Headlines: While sorting through my stack of newspapers I found three from last Wednesday. Here are the headlines:
Seattle Post-Intelligencer: BUSH LEADS;
KERRY DIGS IN
OHIO BATTLE COULD DELAY RESULTS
Seattle Times: Bush Leads
HE TAKES POPULAR VOTE; ALL EYES ON OHIO
ELECTORAL VOTE NOT LOCKED UP
Fight Isn't Over
New York Times: VOTER SURVEYS SHOW BUSH AND KERRY LOCKED IN RACE WITH LARGE TURNOUT
(I didn't try to copy the changes in font size with the subheadings. Please imagine them decreasing in size as they go down your screen.)
Those of you who read this site on election night know that I thought the preliminary results promising enough so that I went off to a Republican party at 7:17 PM, Pacific Daylight Time. I don't have any sources that the newspapers can't access, so how was I able to see what they didn't?
First, I paid no attention to the first, partial exit polls. I glanced at them when Drudge posted them, saw that they were wrong, and ignored them. (It even seemed obvious why they were wrong. They were partial results, and Republicans and Democrats do not vote at the same times during the day. There were, for example, far too many women in the first batch of poll results.) Second, I looked at the returns, rather than the news coverage. Third, I tried hard to get information from sources with a range of ideological viewpoints.
If you look at this election night journal from New York Times reporter Frank Bruni, you'll see that he did the opposite on all three. He took the exit polls seriously, he did not look at the returns, and he spent much of the night watching Dan Rather. He collected "Ratherisms", some quite funny, and I called the election early. Other journalists may have watched the election as Bruni did, rather than as I did. That would explain those cautious headlines from last Wednesday.
(I don't claim any great insight for seeing that the early exit polls were wrong. I think almost anyone who follows elections closely and understands how the polls are done could have done the same. I was genuinely surprised to learn that many journalists at the New York Times, and I would assume, other news organizations, took them seriously. Perhaps they just wanted to believe them.)
- 10:59 AM, 10 November 2004 [link]
Insourcing: Americans who worry about outsourcing, the loss of American jobs to foreigners, often do not consider the other side of the equation, insourcing. Here's a recent example.
Honda Motor Ltd said it will spend 270 million dollars to build a new plant in Georgia and upgrade two others in Ohio and Alabama as part of its effort to beef up powertrain production facilities in North America.In the last two decades, while Pat Buchanan and company have been claiming that American is losing all its manufacturing, the following auto companies have built or expanded production in the United States: BMW, Honda, Mercedes, Nissan, and Toyota. (And those more familiar with the car industry than I am can probably think of more.) Now, maybe the hard headed executives who run these companies don't understand the business, but that isn't how I would bet.
I can think of only one foreign car company, Volkswagen, that started manufacturing in the United States in the last few decades and then stopped. But then most observers don't seem to think that Volkswagen has been well managed in recent years.
- 8:08 AM, 10 November 2004 [link]
Provisional Ballots: When I first heard about provisional ballots, I thought they were an excellent idea. By letting a voter who is not on the rolls vote, but setting aside their ballot for further checking, you protect against both clerical errors and corrupt election officials. So when I read a critique of provisional ballots in John Fund's Stealing Elections, I was surprised. I should not have been because, as is so often true of election procedures, the devil is in the details. Provisional ballots can be a useful protection — if they are implemented properly.
There are practical problems with provisional ballots. They delay counts and can delay voting. But their largest problem is that they open one more door to vote fraud. The right state laws can keep that door almost entirely shut. Fund recommends the procedures adopted by Missouri.
To cast a normal ballot in Missouri, voters must be on the registered voter list. They sign their names, verify their addresses and show some form of identification. Parties are allowed to post "challengers" at each precinct, but they cannot unduly interfere with the election process.That is about the right number for a state the size of Missouri (population approximately 5.6 million).
In Washington state (population approximately 6 million), there were too many provisional ballots this year.
Provisional ballots are the most labor-intensive to count because they require more steps to verify, so they've been saved for counting after most of the absentees are tallied. There are 80,000 to 90,000 provisionals statewide, according to the Secretary of State's OfficeOf those, 31,700 were cast in heavily Democratic King county. The Missouri and Washington numbers are not directly comparable, because 2002 was an off year and Washington, unlike Missouri, makes it easier for voters to cast provisional ballots in the wrong precinct. But the number is still far too large. Roughly 3 million voted in Washington state this year. It is implausible that nearly 3 percent of Washington's voters really needed provisional ballots, not in a state that has generally well run elections. In 2000, just 17,000 provisional ballots were issued in King county, still far too many. (And those ballots may have provided the margin for Maria Cantwell's defeat of Slade Gorton.)
What do I worry about? This UPI article gives some examples:
Observers watching the counting of New Mexico's 2004 provisional and absentee ballots have uncovered evidence of voter fraud, Opinion Journal said Tuesday.As always, we must assume that not all fraudulent votes are detected. Note, by the way, the number of attempts to vote twice. If you allow voters to cast provisional ballots outside their home precincts, you make that kind of fraud easier.
Finally, provisional ballots provide a great temptation for activist judges. When a fight over illegal provisional ballots goes to court — as many will — a few judges will be tempted to settle the matter by doing, as John Edwards urged, and counting all the ballots, fraudulent or not.
(There are two examples of provisional ballots from last week's election that provide more insight. "Blackfive", a milblogger, was forced to use a provisional ballot in Chicago because his name was not on the rolls. He is not sure whether this was just one of those clerical errors, or whether some election official dropped Republicans just for the hell of it. Timothy Goddard was a Republican poll watcher in Everett, Washington, where he saw many provisional ballots, but no evidence of fraud.
Because there are so many provisional ballots yet to be counted in Washington state, I would be cautious about any election projections in the close governor's race. We simply don't know how many of them will be legal or what their party balance will be. My guess is that more will be Democratic than Republican, but that's just a guess. And there is the danger in this state, as in every other state, that some judge will change the law and legalize fraudulent ballots.)
- 7:13 AM, 10 November 2004
More: Those provisional ballots in Bernalillo country were mostly illegal.
Out of 13,000 provisional and in-lieu-of ballots, Bernalillo County Clerk Mary Herrera said today she has only qualified 3,000 as legitimate votes.This looks like an organized effort to stuff the ballot box. Wonder if one of the groups financed by George Soros, such as ACORN, was operating in the county?
- 8:29 AM, 10 November 2004 [link]
Now They Tell Us: This Newsweek extended campaign story appeared after the election, too late to affect voters' decisions. To get remarkable access to the two campaigns, Newsweek agreed to keep part of its coverage secret until after the election. I'll set aside for the moment whether that was a good decision or not; if you are interested in that question, see this discussion.
Although a few Newsweek reporters agreed to secrecy, most other reporters did not, and although the other reporters may not have had the same access, they had enough so that they could observe the same general patterns. And there is much that those other reporters chose not to tell us. Some examples I gleaned from Newsweek:
Mr. THOMAS: The Kerry campaign was even worse run than you think. Kerry was a bad manager. He could never make up his mind. He would dither and he'd second-guess every decision. They had to take away his cell phone twice, because every time they made a decision he'd get on his cell phone and start calling a hundred of his closest friends.It won't be shocking to readers of this site, where I made similar points during the campaign, though even I am surprised about the two cell phone removals. That it might surprise many voters is the fault of "mainstream" journalists. I have many reasons for not trusting them, and Newsweek has just provided some more.
(If Kerry was such a bad manager, why was he able to come so close to Bush? Two reasons. He is a good debater, especially compared to Bush, and was able to revive his campaign in the three debates. (I have thought for some time that debating ability is negatively correlated with executive ability and this provides one more bit of evidence for that argument.) And, the media sided with the Democratic candidate unmatched to an extent unmatched since at least 1984.
It occurs to me that Kerry's dithering inability to make decisions may be most common among children at a particular age. If you have any experience that would clarify that question, I would be interested in hearing from you. I'd like to know whether Kerry acts like a 9 year old or a 12 year old, or what.
Finally, there is one question Newsweek does not answer: Does Kerry have any religious beliefs? They mention nothing about them in the issue, which makes me think that religion is not central for Kerry, despite his campaigning from pulpit to pulpit during the last weeks of the campaign.)
- 4:10 PM, 9 November 2004
More: The "Medpundit" tells me in an email that:
Kerry's behavior is stereotypical for 14 to 15 year olds. The ubiquitous cell phone, the need for constant peer assurance, the liberal and casual use of profanity, are all hallmarks of this age group. Even the yellow rubber Lance Armstrong bracelet he wore during much of the campaign is the fashion statement of the moment among young teens.Of course she's right. The obsessive interest in sports is also typical of boys that age. And this helps explain why he has so few friends in the press. Kids that age are notoriously difficult to get along with.
- 7:00 AM, 11 November 2004 [link]
Worth A Look: This map of "purple" America, which shows the shades of voting patterns by county for most of the nation. By mixing the red and the blue, Professor Vanderbei gives what I think is a more accurate picture of the voting by county, than the more common red-blue maps.
(Like almost everyone else who makes maps of American party splits, Professor Vanderbei reverses the colors. Almost everywhere else in the world, red is used for leftist parties and blue is used for conservative parties. I am almost certain that American media companies reversed this because they did not want to label the Democrats, "red", which is more pejorative here than in most countries. It is still wrong.
I suppose the only way to get the colors right is to do some maps myself, and I may do just that.)
- 1:42 PM, 9 November 2004 [link]
Other Sites: I have begun posting on two group sites, one covering local politics, Sound Politics, and one covering media bias, Oh, That Liberal Media!. I hope to write a contribution for each site at least once a week. Sometimes, when I think it appropriate, I will put duplicates of those posts here, but not usually.
Thanks to Stefan Sharkansky for inviting me to contribute to these sites, and for doing the work to get them started.
- 1:24 PM, 9 November 2004 [link]
First They Came For The Jews, then they came for the Republicans.
Chris Finarelli could barely believe his own eyes last Wednesday.There are strong similarities between this attack and a 2002 attack on Jewish students. Meryl Yourish did great work covering that one and she is on top of this one, too.
We need her, and FrontPage, because these attacks will draw little, if any, attention from the "mainstream" media. I searched both the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner for articles on this attack, using "San Francisco State" as the search phrase, and found no articles.
In the previous attack, the university, or perhaps I should say "university", punished a Jewish student who was the victim of assault, after trying hard to ignore the whole thing. So far, the president of SFSU, Robert A. Corrigan, has said nothing about this attack, though he did have time earlier to urge the almost entirely Democratic student body at SFSU to vote. One of the saddest things to happen in my lifetime is the abandonment of support for freedom of speech by many American universities — if the attacks come from the left.
(In my search for more information on SFSU, I found this press release, offering expert commentary. I note that Professor David Tabb, an expert on "national politics, polling, voting patterns, and media and elections", says that:
It is important to know that in actual elections, more Democrats vote than Republicans (by about 4 percent). Most current polls like Gallup who use 'likely voter' models overestimate the percent of Republican voters," Tabb said. "Currently, Bush is 'really' ahead by about 2-3 percent, which is within the 'margin of error.' The election is still up for grabs.That was in response to Gallup polls showing a large Bush lead in September, I assume. Those who have followed this site through the election will recall that I said that it is no longer certain that more people identify with the Democrats than with the Republicans. Nearly every final poll underestimated Bush's vote, and the New York Times exit poll showed that equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans voted.
Journalists should feel free to contact me, rather than Professor Tabb, in the future.
I saw no evidence that the Political Science department at SFSU includes any Republicans. On general grounds, I would suspect that it includes no Christians, either.)
- 9:30 AM, 9 November 2004 [link]
Shouldn't Gary Locke Be A Republican? In his second term, Washington's governor set a moderate course and worked closely with the Republicans in the legislature. And now comes more evidence that Locke is in the wrong party.
Gov. Gary Locke and first lady Mona Lee Locke became the proud parents of a third child Saturday — baby girl Madeline Lee Locke, born at Swedish Medical Center.Three children, and no announcement that Madeline would be their last. What will Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and other allies of the Democratic party think?
Locke will be looking for work after January. Though he holds enough conventional Democratic stands to exclude him from most positions in the Bush administration, there are places, such as some commissions, where he could fit in. Wonder if Karl Rove and company are smart enough to see the advantages of including the first governor of Chinese descent in the administration?
(As a practical matter, Locke almost had to be a Democrat, since he began his political career in Seattle. It is possible, but much more difficult, for a Republican to start in Seattle.)
- 7:23 AM, 9 November 2004 [link]