Archive:

November 2006, Part 1

Jim Miller on Politics




Pseudo-Random Thoughts



My Apologies for not making an election prediction.  I really did plan to make one, but just ran out of time.  One reason that I did not is that, as I have said before, the polls for the races below the presidency are not very good.  And, if you have any feeling for statistics at all, you can see how bad they are in the figure discussed in this post.  Take a look at the presidential polls, shown as blue dots.  Notice how closely they cluster around the curve.  Then, take a look at the polls for governor and senator.  Notice how much more scattered they are.  That tells me that they are much worse at predicting the outcome than the presidential polls, much more likely to be off by a large amount.

I planned to combine election results with the polls to make my predictions, but just didn't have time to gather all the data.
- 1:03 PM, 8 November 2006   [link]


Shelley Sekula-Gibbs Won The Race For Tom Delay's Old Seat — And Lost The Race For Tom DeLay's Old Seat:  How?  There were two races.
Sekula-Gibbs, a Republican, beat out four other candidates in the special election to serve the remaining two months in U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's term.

She lost the general election to Democrat Nick Lampson, however, for a full two-year term as the District 22 representative.  He will replace her in January.
She was on the ballot in the first race, but not in the second, which helps explain the differing results.

Most likely, there will be a rematch between the two in 2008.
- 12:17 PM, 8 November 2006   [link]


The Greatest Of These Is Charity:  Though some have definitions of charity that not all of us would accept.
Three Christian high school girls were beheaded as a Ramadan "trophy" by Indonesian militants who conceived the idea after a visit to Philippines jihadists, a court heard yesterday.
. . .
Hasanuddin [The leader of these "militants"] allegedly returned from a visit to members of Philippines Islamist group the Moro Islamic Liberation Front with tales of how that organisation regularly staged bombings to coincide with Lebaran, the festival that ends the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.  He later spoke with a preacher in Poso, Central Sulawesi, about whether such a plan could work in Indonesia, but expressed doubt about whether it was appropriate.

However, after further discussion with friends, he decided that beheading Christians could qualify as an act of Muslim charity.
Which seems, if I may say so, somewhat different from Christian charity.
- 11:11 AM, 8 November 2006   [link]


Just In Case You Missed It, here is Orson Scott Card's essay on why you should vote Republican.
There is only one issue in this election that will matter five or ten years from now, and that's the War on Terror.

And the success of the War on Terror now teeters on the fulcrum of this election.

If control of the House passes into Democratic hands, there are enough withdraw-on-a-timetable Democrats in positions of prominence that it will not only seem to be a victory for our enemies, it will be one.

Unfortunately, the opposite is not the case -- if the Republican Party remains in control of both houses of Congress there is no guarantee that the outcome of the present war will be favorable for us or anyone else.

But at least there will be a chance.

I say this as a Democrat, for whom the Republican domination of government threatens many values that I hold to be important to America's role as a light among nations.

But there are no values that matter to me that will not be gravely endangered if we lose this war.
. . .
I hope somebody emerges in one of the parties, at least, who commits himself or herself to continuing Bush's careful, wise, moderate, and so-far-successful policies in the War on Terror.
And I hope somebody emerges in both parties, though it is hard to see how such a person could be nominated in the Democratic party.

As you can see in my first post today, I think this election was a defeat, but by no means an irretrievable defeat.

(Not familiar with Card?  He's a fine science fiction writer, best known for Ender's Game, a book I heartily recommend.)
- 10:47 AM, 7 November 2006   [link]


Evan Thomas's 5 Percent:  During the 2004 presidential campaign, Newsweek editor Evan Thomas said, with a refreshing frankness, that the media would do everything they could to help John Kerry win, and that their help would be worth 15 percent.  He later amended that to 5 percent, but he did not retract his claim that the media would do what they could to make Kerry president.

Was media bias worth 5 percent to the Democrats in this last election?  At least that, in my judgment.  (By the way, "media bias" is the phrase that Thomas himself used when he made his claim.)  Much of the bias was in the selection of stories; as James Q. Wilson pointed out, positive stories about Iraq are rare in the evening broadcasts from ABC, CBS, and NBC.  Minor stories on Republican corruption make the front pages of our major newspapers; major stories about Democratic corruption are often buried in the back pages, if they appear at all.

That bias has, in my opinion, cost our major news organizations viewers and subscribers, and, of course, significant amounts of money.  I am not sure that they understand that point, and I suspect that, even if they did, many journalists would think the losses worth while.

(After Kerry's defeat, Newsweek ran a remarkably revealing story on Kerry's deficiencies as an executive.  They had to run it after the election, because they had been given extraordinary access in return for a pledge not to use the material during the election.  But other news organizations had not made the same promise and must have known about some of those deficiencies — and they didn't tell us about them, either.)
- 6:37 AM, 7 November 2006   [link]


Yesterday's Election Was A Serious Defeat:  Not just for President Bush and the Republicans, but for the cause of freedom all over the world.  The world will become even more dangerous, just as it did after the 1974 and 1976 elections.  If we believe Michael Scheuer, Osama bin Laden is, even now, celebrating in his cave.  And given how long Scheuer was following bin Laden, we should take his opinions on this question seriously.

But it is also a defeat I have been expecting, not necessarily in this last election, but some time soon.  The grim future that I have foreseen for a decade — at least a century of fighting off terrorist attacks from radical Islamists — is not something most voters want to accept.   (For that matter, I don't want to accept it myself, but the facts are too clear for me to come to a different conclusion about what we should expect in the next hundred years.)  Eventually, most voters were sure to tire of the struggle and to gamble that we can somehow drop out of it.

But we can't drop out of it.  As I have said before, the terrorists will teach us, however reluctant we are to learn, about the nature of this struggle.  I fear that our tuition bill has just gotten even higher.
- 5:21 AM, 8 November 2006   [link]


Hastings Versus Hastings:  While I have been writing a few sharp words about Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings, for example, here and here, Seattle Times staff columnist Kate Riley was attacking a different Hastings, Republican Doc Hastings

Hastings rode into Congress on the wave of the 1994 Republican revolution and, from day one, swallowed Newt Gingrich's Contract with America Kool-Aid.  Ever since, Hastings has been entirely complicit with the GOP leadership's shameless efforts to secure, protect and exploit their majority — an overreach that likely will cost them House control this year. Good riddance.

Riley, whom I generally respect, goes on and on about Doc Hastings, making her dislike for him clear, but not giving enough specifics so that I can understand why she dislikes him so much.  Until, that is, she gets to this point:

He's reportedly scarce in the district during the campaign, and his staff is sometimes openly hostile with the media.  Hastings sent The Seattle Times-owned Yakima Herald-Republic, which sometimes has not endorsed him, a signed fax, saying he would not be stopping by the newspaper office in the heart of his district.  It read: "In my case, since I'm not seeking the Herald-Republic's endorsement, it won't be necessary to include me in your endorsement interview schedule this year."

". . . openly hostile with the media".  Well, we can't have that, can we?

Let me reveal a secret to Ms. Riley.  Most Republicans are hostile toward the "mainstream" media.  What makes Doc Hastings different is that he is open about it.  And if she will forgive for saying so, Republicans have many legitimate reasons to be hostile to the "mainstream" media.   Many.

Ordinarily, I would have just let this column go, as an unfortunate slip by a journalist I mostly admire.  (And regular readers will know that I am not an easy grader when it comes to journalists.)  But I won't because of this fact:  A vote against Doc Hastings is a vote, most likely, to make Alcee Hastings chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.  Whatever Doc Hastings' sins may be, they are trivial compared to those of Alcee Hastings.  To advocate the defeat of Doc Hastings while ignoring the elevation of Alcee Hastings to chairman of the Intelligence Committee is to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(Riley may not know about the controversy over Alcee Hastings.  A search on the Seattle Times archives found just one reference to it, in this article.

In addition, minority-group members would gain power in a Democratic House. Black legislators are in line to become chairmen of the committees on taxation (Charles Rangel of New York), the judiciary (John Conyers of Michigan) and intelligence (Alcee Hastings of Florida).

Republicans are spotlighting that lineup and portraying it as extremist.  They jumped on Conyers for calling for impeachment hearings against Bush, an idea Pelosi flatly dismisses.  Republicans note that Hastings, before becoming a House member, was impeached as a federal judge.

That's all, and even that little bit is misleading, since Hastings was not only impeached by the House, but convicted by the Senate, and removed from his position as a judge.  All that was done by, as I have mentioned before, a Democratic Congress.  And it is downright deceptive to imply that only Republicans are disturbed by the idea of putting a man who was convicted of perjury and corruption in charge of the Intelligence Committee.

One of the legitimate reasons that Republicans are hostile to the "mainstream" media is their treatment of Democratic scandals, as in that article.)
- 9:54 AM, 7 November 2006   [link]

If You Vote In Washington State, or you are just curious, you can find my second round of endorsements here.
- 6:22 AM, 7 November 2006   [link]


The Rain Falls On The Just And On The Unjust:  But the unjust are more likely to stay home on election day when it rains.
A new study of voter behavior confirms something political operatives have long suspected: rain hurts Democrats and helps Republicans.  The study found that 1 inch of rain reduces overall turnout by slightly less than 1 percent and cuts the Democratic vote by 2.5 percentage points.

"Rain does have a significant effect decreasing the Democratic vote share," said Brad Gomez, a visiting professor of political science at the University of Georgia who co-authored the study. "That's a fairly sizeable swing."
Here's the election day forecast from the Weather Channel.   I should caution my fellow Republicans not to get too excited about the forecast for Oregon and Washington, since Oregon votes entirely by mail, and Washington votes very heavily by mail.  But it looks good for Republicans in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia.
- 4:50 PM, 6 November 2006   [link]


Worth Reading:  Even the day before election day.  No, make that especially before election day.   James Q. Wilson tells us how war reporting has changed since World War II.  Here are his first three paragraphs.
We are told by careful pollsters that half of the American people believe that American troops should be brought home from Iraq immediately.  This news discourages supporters of our efforts there.   Not me, though: I am relieved.  Given press coverage of our efforts in Iraq, I am surprised that 90% of the public do not want us out right now.

Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2005, nearly 1,400 stories appeared on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news.  More than half focused on the costs and problems of the war, four times as many as those that discussed the successes.  About 40% of the stories reported terrorist attacks; scarcely any reported the triumphs of American soldiers and Marines.  The few positive stories about progress in Iraq were just a small fraction of all the broadcasts.

When the Center for Media and Public Affairs made a nonpartisan evaluation of network news broadcasts, it found that during the active war against Saddam Hussein, 51% of the reports about the conflict were negative.  Six months after the land battle ended, 77% were negative; in the 2004 general election, 89% were negative; by the spring of 2006, 94% were negative.  This decline in media support was much faster than during Korea or Vietnam.
And here's his concluding paragraph.
The mainstream media's adversarial stance, both here and abroad, means that whenever a foreign enemy challenges us, he will know that his objective will be to win the battle not on some faraway bit of land but among the people who determine what we read and watch.  We won the Second World War in Europe and Japan, but we lost in Vietnam and are in danger of losing in Iraq and Lebanon in the newspapers, magazines and television programs we enjoy.
You will want to read everything in between.
- 1:07 PM, 6 November 2006   [link]


Saddam Hussein Still Has His Supporters:  Among them is, naturally, Robert Fisk.  (Who just received an award from the Lannan Foundation for — I am not making this up — contributing to "cultural freedom".)  Granted Fisk admits that Saddam is not the nicest man in the world, not even the nicest man in the Middle East, where the competition is not as stiff as it is in other parts of the world, but the bulk of Fisk's column is still devoted, as usual, to condemning the West for both supporting Saddam and removing him.  His description of the support the West gave to Saddam is, shall we say, imaginative.  And it is hard to see how we could satisfy Fisk.

Hussein draws even stronger support from a British blogger, David Cox.  Cox has both a pleasant smile and an agreeable argument.
Living under tyranny may not be ideal, but it is not impossible. In the Soviet Union, life took on a character of its own, in which the human spirit managed to flourish in spite of the political constraints.  The literature generated in those conditions can still inspire us.  Today, many former Soviet citizens feel no more free under the yoke of global capitalism than they did before, and some would like to see the return of Stalinism.  The people of China seem in no rush to jettison a regime that holds out the prospect of prosperity at the expense only of liberty.
Easier, of course, to say that from Britain than from Iraq, when it was ruled by Saddam.

Finally, there is the New York Times editorial page, which, like Fisk and Cox, admits that Saddam was not an entirely admirable human being, but then follows that admission with this:
Regrettably, yesterday's sentence to death by hanging in a case involving the execution of 148 Shiites in the 1980s fell somewhere short of that goal.  Mr. Hussein got a fairer trial than he ever would have allowed in his courts.  But Iraq got neither the full justice nor the full fairness it deserved.
. . .
The appeals court that will now review the verdict can undo some of the damage by taking into account some of these deficiencies.  At least, it should defer the carrying out of any death penalty long enough to allow the completion of a second trial, in which Mr. Hussein is charged with ordering genocidal massacres against the Kurds.
The trial was imperfect — unlike most trials in the United States — therefore, Saddam should not receive the sentence he so clearly deserves, at least not yet.
- 3:43 PM, 6 November 2006   [link]


The Republicans Gained During The Campaign:  Which is what I predicted would happen, way back in September.
I also believe that Republicans tend to gain during campaigns, though I will admit I have not seen a formal examination of that question.  I think that Republicans gain because of the bias of "mainstream" journalists.  Between elections, most voters get most of their information from "mainstream" journalists, few of whom like Republicans much.  During the campaign, many voters get to hear the other side.  This is especially important for offices below the presidency, where voters may have little idea what, if anything, a senator or congressman has done.
(Voters also get to consider the alternative — and one or two voters may not be excited about the idea of Alcee Hastings as Intelligence Committee chairman, or Nancy Pelosi as Speaker.)

And what this useful summary from Pew Research shows has happened.
A nationwide Pew Research Center survey finds voting intentions shifting in the direction of Republican congressional candidates in the final days of the 2006 midterm campaign.  The new survey finds a growing percentage of likely voters saying they will vote for GOP candidates.  However, the Democrats still hold a 48% to 40% lead among registered voters, and a modest lead of 47%-43% among likely voters.
. . .
Republican gains in the new poll reflect a number of late-breaking trends.  First, Republicans have become more engaged and enthused in the election than they had been in September and October.  While Democrats continue to express greater enthusiasm about voting than do Republicans, as many Republican voters (64%) as Democratic voters (62%) now say they are giving quite a lot of thought to the election.  About a month ago, Democratic voters were considerably more likely than GOP voters to say they were giving a lot of thought to the election (by 59%-50%).  As a result, Republicans now register a greater likelihood of voting than do Democrats, as is typical in mid-term elections.

The Republicans also have made major gains, in a relatively short time period, among independent voters.  Since early this year, the Democratic advantage in the generic House ballot has been built largely on a solid lead among independents.  As recently as mid-October, 47% of independent voters said they were voting for the Democratic candidate in their district, compared with 29% who favored the Republican.  Currently, Democrats lead by 44%-33% among independent voters.
All those trends are consistent with my theory.

So why aren't the Republicans now leading?  Because, and here I agree with Tom Maguire, of the Mark Foley scandal.  (I almost wrote "scandal", but that wouldn't be fair.  It was a scandal, though a minor one.  Still, it is a strange sex scandal that lacks, by most accounts — actual sex.)

Can the Republicans overcome that scandal and still retain control of both the House and the Senate?   It is possible, though my guess is that the betters are right, and that the odds are against the Republicans holding the House.  (Tomorrow, I hope to have more than a guess for you, but I will have to look at a lot of numbers between now and then.)

Much depends on whether that trend toward the Republicans continued in the last days of the campaign.   I haven't seen any public evidence on that, one way or another, though the parties are running their own daily polls.  If I had to guess — and again this is just a guess — I would say that most likely the trend has continued.  I suspect the last minute person-to-person campaign being mounted by the Republicans is still having an effect.  But I don't know that for sure.   So it may be a long night tomorrow, and all those who wrote stories about a Democratic sweep may find themselves wishing they had been less certain.
- 9:47 AM, 6 November 2006
It's just a straw in the wind, but the latest Rasmussen poll has Bush's approval ratings up, and his disapproval ratings down — since yesterday.
- 1:22 PM, 6 November 2006   [link]


I Learn All Sorts Of Things When I Listen To NPR:  Some of them are even true.  And some of them are only partly true, and some of them are not even a little bit true.

This morning, for instance, I learned that the Nicaraguan "Contras" had forced Daniel Ortega from power through a civil war.  That is, at best, incomplete, because Ortega stepped down after losing the 1990 election.  One could make a strong argument that the war forced him to hold the election and that he lost the election because a majority did not want to continue the war, but to leave out the 1990 election is at best misleading.

This morning, I also learned from NPR that the United States had not signed the Kyoto Protocol.   For the benefit of the misinformed (and anyone who works for NPR), here are the facts.
The United States (U.S.), although a signatory to the protocol, has neither ratified nor withdrawn from the protocol.  The signature alone is symbolic, as the protocol is non-binding over the United States unless ratified.

On July 25, 1997, before the Kyoto Protocol was finalized (although it had been fully negotiated, and a penultimate draft was finished), the U.S. Senate unanimously passed by a 95—0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (S. Res. 98)[33], which stated the sense of the Senate was that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing as well as industrialized nations or "would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States".   On November 12, 1998, Vice President Al Gore symbolically signed the protocol.  Both Gore and Senator Joseph Lieberman indicated that the protocol would not be acted upon in the Senate until there was participation by the developing nations.[34]  The Clinton Administration never submitted the protocol to the Senate for ratification.
So the United States signed the protocol, but the Clinton administration never submitted it to the Senate for ratification — for obvious reasons.  (In many quarters, this is thought to be all President Bush's fault, though it occurred before he was even an official candidate for president.)

And then I learned from NPR that "neocons" — as their enemies call them — had turned against President Bush over the Iraq War.  John Ydstie of NPR interviewed, at length, David Rose of Vanity Fair, who has written an article titled Neo Culpa.   After the interview, Ydstie noted that David Frum writing, in of all places, the lefty site, Huffington Post, did not entirely agree with the article.

But Ydstie did not mention other denials, though he said he had tried to contact some of the others interviewed for the article.  If he had looked at some conservative sites, he would have found these scathing replies from Michael Ledeen, Michael Rubin, and Richard Perle.

And what did they say about the piece?  Michael Rubin calls the article a "pre-election hit job".  Michael Ledeen titled his post: "The Latest Disinformation Campaign from Vanity Fair".   And Richard Perle said that Vanity Fair "distorted my opinion about the situation in Iraq".   But listeners to NPR did not hear those opinions, though all of them were published on the net, yesterday.

As always when I correct a "mainstream" journalist, I add this disclaimer.

(Ydstie's odd name seemed familiar, so I searched my archives and found another post — and another error he had made.  The earlier error, like those I discussed above, is often made by intellectually lazy lefties, especially those who make no effort to read conservatives.)
- 7:59 AM, 5 November 2006
More:  I wasn't sure I had it right, so I listened to the end of the story again to see what parts of Frum's post Ydstie had quoted.  He noted that Frum had said that he had been quoted out of context, and he quoted or praphrased the first sentence of the last paragraph.
Rose has earned a reputation as a truth teller.
But he didn't give listeners the rest of the paragraph.
The same unfortunately cannot be said for the editors and publicists at Vanity Fair.  They have repackaged truths that a war-fighting country needs to hear into lies intended to achieve a shabby partisan purpose.
Was Ydstie trying to deceive listeners by leaving that part out?  I can prove that he was, but I know which way I would bet.
- 1:36 PM, 5 November 2006   [link]


This News Was Expected:  But it still cheered me up.
Angry, shaking and defiant, Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death this morning by hanging for ordering the massacre of Iraqi civilians.
And I find it mildly encouraging that one of his co-defendants, Mohammed Azawi Ali. was acquitted.   Only mildly encouraging because I didn't follow the trial closely and so I have no idea whether he is innocent.  But that acquittal does suggest that those running the trial are trying to do justice, under terribly difficult conditions.
- 6:59 AM, 5 November 2006   [link]


First Round Of Endorsements:  This round is easy:  You should vote against Alcee Hastings for Intelligence Committee chairman.  You can do that most easily if you live in Florida's 23rd district.  But you can also vote against Hastings anywhere else in the United States, indirectly.

Here's why you should vote against Alcee Hastings.

Hastings was a U.S. District Court judge when he was impeached by a Democratic House in 1988 by a vote of 413 to 8.  The action came after a recommendation by a special investigative committee of the federal judiciary that concluded Hastings lied and fabricated evidence to win an acquittal on bribery charges in 1983.  In 1989, a Democratic-controlled Senate convicted Hastings of accepting a $150,000 bribe in 1981 in a criminal case and for committing numerous acts of perjury at his trial.

One impeachment count in particular should raise a red flag in light of the Intelligence Committee post.  According to Congressional Quarterly, one of the counts "alleged that Hastings leaked information about a wiretap he was supervising and thereby forced a halt to an extensive federal undercover operation in the Miami area in 1985."

Leaked information about a wiretap?  This is the man who would be privy to details of National Security Agency operations, including its warrantless surveillance of communications between al-Qaida operatives and their U.S. contacts?  Hello?

(You can find more about Hastings' ethical problems here.)

Even if Hastings had a clean record, he would be an unsuitable choice for chairman of the Intelligence Committee.  He has no education or experience in intelligence or foreign affairs, other than his service on the committee.  He is an extremist; the 2006 Almanac of American Politics says that his "voting record has been the most liberal in the Florida delegation".

That's why you should vote against Alcee Hastings; here's how to do it.  The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (or, if you prefer its official name, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence) is chosen by the Speaker.  If the Republicans retain their majority, the current speaker, Dennis Hastert, will name the chairman (most likely the current chairman, Peter Hoekstra).  If the Democrats win a majority, then, almost certainly*, Nancy Pelosi, now Minority Leader, will become speaker and name the chairman.  Newspaper accounts differ; some say that she has promised to name Hastings chairman, others only that she is considering him for chairman.  Anyone who would even consider Hastings for that position is unfit to be speaker.

To prevent Hastings from becoming chairman of the Intelligence Committee, we must prevent Nancy Pelosi from becoming speaker, which means voting against every candidate who would vote for her as speaker.  In all but a few cases, that means voting for the Republican candidate.   (Pelosi did not receive a unanimous vote from Democrats when Congress was last organized, and will not receive the vote of Gene Taylor of Mississippi this January, judging by his past votes.  A few other Democrats might vote against her, too.  If I lived in a district where one of those moderate Democrats was running, I would consider voting for them — if they pledged not to vote for Pelosi.)

In Washington state, voting against Alcee Hastings means voting for Larry Ishmael over Jay Inslee, Doug Roulstone over Rick Larsen, Michael Messmore over Brian Baird, Doc Hastings over Richard Wright, Cathy McMorris over Peter Goldmark, Doug Cloud over Norm Dicks, Steve Berens over Jim McDermott, Dave Reichert over Darcy Burner, and Steve Cofchin over Adam Smith.  (If it were not for the Democrats' choice of Nancy Pelosi, and her apparent choice of Alcee Hastings, there are one or two races in that set where I might not make an endorsement, just because I don't know enough about the candidates.)

So there you are.  If you are at all concerned about our national security, vote for the Republican House candidate — unless the Democratic candidate has pledged not to vote for Pelosi.

And in the most competitive Washington race, let me pound on this point one more time:  A vote for Darcy Burner is a vote to make a corrupt extremist, who was convicted of perjury by the Senate, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.  I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that.  There are other reasons to vote against Burner (and perhaps a few reasons to vote for her), but that's enough for me.  And should be enough for anyone who cares about our nation's security.

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(*I say almost certainly because it is possible that a few Democratic congressmen will put the good of the country ahead of party loyalty and deny Pelosi a majority, even if the Democrats win a majority of seats.  It is unclear what would happen after that, but they might be able to force the choice of a more moderate Democrat as Speaker.

Some will wonder why Pelosi made this strange choice.  You can find my tentative explanation here.)
- 9:32 AM, 4 November 2006   [link]


Mountain Blogging:  I'll be starting a new series of pictures from my second disaster area tour soon, but when I looked through my pictures from the tour, I found this earlier picture of Mt. St. Helens, taken from Mt. Rainier at the end of August, which I thought was pretty enough to share.


The photo was taken at, or close to the maximum telephoto on my Olympus, 10X, so the scene is compressed; the Tatoosh range, which you see in the middle ground, does not appear nearly that close from that spot.  If you look closely, you can see a small portion of the "Crescent" glacier inside the St. Helens crater.
- 3:47 PM, 3 November 2006   [link]


The Internet Routes around censorship again, this time with the help of Amazon.   (And I must say that Steyn's book does look interesting.)
- 2:54 PM, 3 November 2006   [link]


Who Are The Terrorists Backing In Tuesday's Election?  WorldNetDaily asked some terrorists and got some frank answers.
Everybody has an opinion about next Tuesday's midterm congressional election in the U.S. — including senior terrorist leaders interviewed by WND who say they hope Americans sweep the Democrats into power because of the party's position on withdrawing from Iraq, a move, as they see it, that ensures victory for the worldwide Islamic resistance.

The terrorists told WorldNetDaily an electoral win for the Democrats would prove to them Americans are "tired."

They rejected statements from some prominent Democrats in the U.S. that a withdrawal from Iraq would end the insurgency, explaining an evacuation would prove resistance works and would compel jihadists to continue fighting until America is destroyed.

They said a withdrawal would also embolden their own terror groups to enhance "resistance" against Israel.
And these same leaders were amused by an argument made by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
In a recent interview with CBS's "60 Minutes," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, stated, "The jihadists (are) in Iraq. But that doesn't mean we stay there. They'll stay there as long as we're there."

Pelosi would become House speaker if the Democrats win the majority of seats in next week's elections.

WND read Pelosi's remarks to the terror leaders, who unanimously rejected her contention an American withdrawal would end the insurgency.

Islamic Jihad's Saadi, laughing, stated, "There is no chance that the resistance will stop."

He said an American withdrawal from Iraq would "prove the resistance is the most important tool and that this tool works.  The victory of the Iraqi revolution will mark an important step in the history of the region and in the attitude regarding the United States."
Now one could say that WorldNetDaily (like the New York Times, come to think of it) is not always the most reliable news source.  And one can say, with certainty, that terrorists do not always tell the the truth, and may have been lying in these interviews.  And we can not be sure that these terrorists are representative, and speak for most Islamic terrorists.

All that is true.  But is also true that these statements are broadly similar to statements found in captured documents both in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

And the conclusion that WorldNetDaily comes to, that terrorists hope for a Democratic win on Tuesday, is shared by one of America's foremost experts on Osama bin Laden, Michael Scheuer, who "created and served as the chief of the agency's [CIA's] Osama bin Laden unit at the Counterterrorist Center".
In a world where leading Western experts have consigned Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to near-irrelevant status, the gangly Saudi is on the verge of seeing the forces he leads and inspires knock off their third infidel government.  Not bad for a guy running from rock to rock and cave to cave.

First was the defeat of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's conservative government after the Islamists' 2003 attack on Madrid's train station.
. . .
Next down the drain was the government of Thailand via last month's military coup.  After the coup, rumors of deposed Premier Thaksin Shinawatra's corrupt activities spread, but at base the Thai generals seized power because of the increasing intensity of the Islamist separatist revolt in Thailand's three Muslim-dominated southern provinces.  Nearly 2,000 people have died there since 2003, the central government is losing its grip in the region, and Mr. Thaksin's military response to the unrest was making little progress.

The Thai generals named a Thai Muslim as the new premier, and he has said it is time to slow military operations and talk about autonomy for the Muslim south.
. . .
Even so, bin Laden, et. al, know the biggest prize looms just ahead — the chance that the Republican Party will be ousted from one or both houses of Congress.
. . .
If Americans vote for what sounds like sweet reason from the Democrats, bin Laden and company will rejoice.  What they will hear is the death knell for any prospect of effective U.S. military resistance to militant Islam.  With the Republicans out, the Islamists will be confident that Democrats will deliver the best of both worlds: less emphasis on military force and a rigid maintenance of U.S. foreign policies that are hated with passion and near-unanimity by 1.3 billion Muslims.   If Osama approved of music, he would be whistling "Happy Days Are Here Again!"
I think the terrorists, to the extent that they have an opinion on our parties, mostly favor the Democrats.  I really do.  The terrorists might be wrong in that; it is possible that a victory for Nancy Pelosi would be a defeat for al Qaeda, but nothing in her record makes that likely.

(For more, see this Scheuer essay.)
- 2:17 PM, 3 November 2006   [link]


Journalists And Corrections:  In this post on New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, I added a parenthetical comment
(Krugman is also unwilling to correct factual errors, but in that he is like most journalists.)
A journalist — and one for whom I have considerable respect — wrote me a couple of informative emails disputing that generalization.  I have thought carefully about the arguments in those emails, and about my own experience, and have decided that the generalization was mostly right, but deserved some qualifications.

Let me start with an obvious qualification:  Most journalists are willing to make trivial corrections; almost all of them will, for example, correct the spelling of a name if you tell them about their error.

After thinking about the emails, I concluded that most journalists will correct errors if they are ordered to by an editor.  And perhaps, though this is less clear, if the journalists are told of their error by another journalist in the same organization.

But excluding those two cases, I have found, in my own experience, that most journalists are unwilling to correct errors — when the corrections come from outside, especially from non-journalists.  And I am not the only one who has had that experience.  Ordinary (and some not so ordinary, including a prosecutor) citizens tried to correct the false Jayson Blair stories in the New York Times — and the New York Times ignored them.   Blogger Tom Maguire has tried to get the Times to correct some large errors in their coverage of the Swiftboat controversy — and failed.   And many other bloggers have had similar experiences.

This should not surprise us; most people dislike admitting errors and, as Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell tells us, journalists" are often "thin-skinned and resist corrections".  That may be understandable human failing, but it is a fatal flaw for a journalist.

And sometimes jounalists resist corrections for another, and even worse, reason.  Last September, columnist David Broder called for journalists to admit what has been obvious for years, that there was no Wilson-Plame scandal, and that journalists who had attacked Karl Rove and others should apologize.  (I know of just one journalist who took Broder's advice, NPR's Daniel Schorr, and I am not sure whether he included an apology in his correction.

After the Broder column came out, I heard four local journalists discussing Broder's column on a local NPR talk show, Weekday.  Knute Berger, who edited the Seattle Weekly for many years said, forthrightly, that he would not make a correction, because he thought Rove was guilty of other things.  That did not surprise me; Berger has had a rather casual attitude about accusations against Republicans.  For example, he printed, at least twice, accusations that President Bush is the Antichrist.  What did surprise me was the reactions of the other three journalists, Steve Scher of KUOW, Danny Westneat of the Seattle Times, and Susan Paynter of the Seattle PI.  None of them said anything critical of Berger.  None of them said that of course Berger should correct the errors.

And if we look at the way the Plame "scandal" ended, with a whimper and very few corections, we can see that most journalists shared Berger's attitude.  I do not know of a single major news organization that made a systematic effort to correct their stories on the scandal.  Not one.  Few journalists were as frank as Berger, but in practice they did what he did; they refused to correct the record.   And we saw the same refusal to correct the record on the despicable Katrina coverage, even a year later.

So, yes, I do think that most journalists are "unwilling to correct factual errors", other than trivial errors — when those corrections do not come from their editor or, possibly, another journalist in their organization.  And I think that most journalists are especially unwilling to correct errors when those corrections might benefit Republicans.

(Some of the journalists at that Weekday program said they didn't understand the Plame "scandal"   For them, I will offer this brief summary;  President Bush and his administration told the truth; Joseph Wilson did not — until he was under oath.  Many journalists recklessly spread Wilson's false story, without ever examining the evidence.)
- 10:11 AM, 3 November 2006   [link]


So Many Posts To Do, So Little Time:  But I will do two endorsement posts and a prediction post before the polls close on Tuesday.  (Some other posts may get put off until after the election.)
- 9:08 AM, 3 November 2006   [link]


Coincidence?  Today, just one major newspaper, the New York Post, ran that hilarious picture reply to John Kerry on their front pages.  (And they did it with good tabloid headlines.)

And, in the latest report from the Audit Bureau of Circulation, we learn that the Post stood out in another way.
The Audit Bureau of Circulations FAS-FAX report for the six-month period ending September 2006 released this morning confirmed yet again that major metros are struggling to show growth.  The losses are steep while the gains are meager.

This is the fourth consecutive semi-annual report to register a severe drop in daily circulation and -- perhaps more troubling to the industry -- Sunday copies.  While the estimated decline 2.8% for daily circulation for all reporting papers may seem negligible, consider that in years past that decrease averaged around 1%.  Sunday, considered the industry's bread-and-butter, showed even steeper losses, with a decline of about 3.4%.
. . .
The New York Post got a leg up in the city's tab wars.  Daily circulation at the paper overtook the Daily News in showing gains of just over 5% -- perhaps the only major metro in the country to report such growth -- to 704,011 copies.
No, I don't think that's entirely coincidental.  The Post has taken a populist and conservative line for some years now, and has gained circulation, relative to its competitors, for some years.   It would be foolish not to consider the theory that some of their gains may be due to their non-leftist and non-elitist positions.

(Here's a list of 500 newspapers, showing the two that printed the picture.  One is a Philadelphia edition of a newspaper I have never heard of; the other is the Post.)
- 5:35 PM, 2 November 2006   [link]


Baby Boom In Iraq?  That's what the country's Health Ministry says is happening.
In the face of relentless violence, political chaos, economic uncertainty and nightly curfews, Iraq's maternity wards are experiencing an unlikely baby boom.

Despite the obstacles, the birthrate in Iraq actually has increased since the U.S.-led invasion 43 months ago, according to the country's Health Ministry.  The rate of births in the country has jumped from 29 births per 1,000 people in 2003 to 37 per 1,000 last year, according to government figures.
Most likely this story is true, though we must treat any statistics from Iraq with some caution.  I think this, like the earlier boom in marriages, is a positive sign.  (And we should not forget that much of Iraq is not plagued by violence, though the talking heads on television will not often remind you of that.)
- 4:15 PM, 2 November 2006   [link]


Routing Around "Mainstream" Media Censorship:  John Perry Barlow said: "The Internet treats censorship as a malfunction and routes around it."  And we have just seen that happen with the hilarious picture from the GIs in Iraq.  Twenty years ago, the picture would not have appeared on any TV program or in any "mainstream" newspaper.  At most, it might have popped up in a small-circulation, conservative magazine, weeks after it was taken.

But the Internet routed around the "mainstream" censors.  Steven Den Beste tells us how that happened.
The picture is hilarious, but think about the process: a handful of smartass soldiers currently serving in Iraq (from the Minnesota National Guard) created that poster, and someone used a digital camera to take a picture of 8 others holding it up with (deservedly) big grins on their faces.

Then the picture was downloaded into a computer and, I assume, emailed to someone in the US. I haven't got the slightest idea where it first appeared, but it spread like wildfire and at this point I've seen various versions of it on at least five sites, and many others have linked to one or more of those.   Within just a few hours of when that photograph was taken in Iraq, at least a million people in the US, halfway around the world, had seen the picture and laughed at it.  Probably by now it's many millions.  And that's without any participation by TV or magazines or the newspapers who, considering the prevailing political bias in such organizations, probably wouldn't have given it any exposure if they could possibly manage not to.
As it happens, I can tell Den Beste where the picture was first posted.  A Minnesota talk show host, Charlie Sykes, received the picture by email, talked about it, and posted it on his blog.  (This illustrates, by the way, something I have mentioned before, the fruitful alliance of blogs and conservative talk shows.)  And shortly after, the picture was all over the United States.

Many in the "mainstream" media are unhappy about the loss of their monopoly.  But they should learn to accept the loss, because they are not going to get their monopoly back, no matter how many "campaign finance" laws are passed.

(Thanks to Newsbusters for identifying the origin of the picture.)
- 10:46 AM, 2 November 2006   [link]


Here's  that picture from the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division (MN National Guard).  It is hard to imagine a more devastating reply to John Kerry.

I link to it because I suspect it will not even be mentioned in your local newspaper — even though it is a great story.  (And I linked to the Power Line copy of the picture, because the picture was taken by a Minnesota unit, and because John Hinderacker included some fine commentary from Victor Davis Hanson.)

(Little Green Footballs has a larger version of the picture, if you want a close look at the soldiers.)
- 5:17 AM, 2 November 2006   [link]


Those Dubious Vietnam Helicopter Stories:  During the Vietnam War, I heard, more than once, about Americans throwing prisoners out of helicopters.  Quite often the story included the detail that this was an interrogation technique; one prisoner would be thrown out to encourage the others to talk.

This makes a good story.  But did it ever happen?  Probably not.  While doing the digging for this post, I ran across this discussion in Guenter Lewy's America in Vietnam:
One of the stories told and retold was that of prisoners pushed out of helicopters in order to scare others into talking.  It is, of course, possible that some American interrogators engaged in this criminal practice, though not a single instance has been confirmed.  We do know of one case where such an occurrence was staged through the use of a dead body.  An investigation by the CID [Criminal Investigation Division] identified the soldier who had taken the photograph; it also identified a second soldier who acquired the picture, made up the story of the interrogation and mailed it and the photograph to his girlfriend. . . . The commander of the helicopter in question was reprimanded; the two crew members who had pushed the body out of the aircraft had since been discharged and therefore were beyond the Army's disciplinary jurisdiction. (pp. 321-322)
Let me repeat: "not a single instance has been confirmed".

Why do I mention this now?  Because I just heard writer Christopher Hitchens repeat the story on the Hugh Hewitt talk show, saying that he had heard it from a friend.  Was Hitchen's friend deliberately lying to him?  Probably not.  This is one of those stories that we tell, over and over, and, in the telling, come to believe.  But his friend was, almost certainly, wrong.  And so are so many other widely circulated atrocity stories from Vietnam.
- 4:04 PM, 1 November 2006   [link]


Negative Political Ads Are Good:  Or at least better, on the average, than positive political ads.  Andrew Ferguson summarizes the evidence from a recent study that supports that proposition.
There's a saying among political consultants popularized by the Republican ad man Mike Murphy: The difference between a positive ad and a negative ad is that the negative ad has a fact in it.

This bit of folk wisdom has recently found academic support.  In an original and thoroughly refreshing book published early this year, "In Defense of Negativity," the Vanderbilt University political scientist John Geer undertook a definitive survey of negative advertising.

The poor man viewed almost every presidential-campaign television commercial aired since 1964, positive and negative alike, and arrived at an unexpected conclusion: The negative ads were better.

Being an academic, Mr. Geer had to define "better" with some precision.  He had four criteria to distinguish good ads from bad.  The best ads discuss pertinent political issues, have a relatively high degree of specificity, rely on documentation to make their point, and raise questions that the public itself considers important.

By each measure, the negative ads scored higher than the positive ads.
One of my favorite ads — and, I have read, one of the most effective political ads ever — was a negative ad.  In the 1972 campaign, the Democratic nominee, George McGovern, was advocating that we cut the military budget by a third.  The Nixon team produced a devastating ad showing a hand sweeping toy soldiers, airplanes, and ships off a table.  They made a negative — and entirely accurate — ad that told voters something that they needed to know.

By way of Orrin Judd.

(Want to see a current negative ad that works?  Here's one in which Congressman Dave Reichert (who represents the district just south of where I live) attacks his opponent, Darcy Burner, for her lack of experience.  The ad is funny and entirely accurate, unlike some of Burner's ads.  I haven't seen any ads from her that are funny, and she has been reprimanded by the Seattle Times for an inaccurate ad.)
- 2:00 PM, 1 November 2006   [link]


Why Would Nancy Pelosi Want To Make Alcee Hastings Chairman Of The House Intelligence Committee?  No one (other than, perhaps, Hastings himself) thinks that he is the best choice for that sensitive position.  He has no experience in foreign affairs or intelligence, other than his service on the committee, and no significant accomplishments in either field.  Moreover, choosing Hastings for the post gives the Republicans (and moderate Democrats) a perfect issue.

A political tactician, such as Dick Morris, would advise Pelosi to find something else to give Hastings and his supporters in the Congressional Black Caucus, and would tell her that she should not forget that she will owe her House majority — if she gets one — to moderate Democrats in swing districts, who will not be happy to see her embarrass them this way.

Part of the reason for her decision is the feud between Pelosi and the current ranking Democrat on the committee, Jane Harman, a feud that seems part personal and part about foreign policy disagreements.  (Put crudely, Harman thinks that Islamic terrorists are a greater threat to the United States than President Bush; judged by her actions, Pelosi disagrees.)

That would explain why she does not want Harman to have the position that she would have, if Pelosi followed the usual rules of seniority.  But it does not explain why Pelosi wants to make Hastings chairman.  To explain that, I turn to my first post on Pelosi, describing her background in machine politics.  Her father Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr. was mayor of Baltimore, and from everything I have been able to learn about him, a typical machine politician.  As I said in that post, you will understand Pelosi better if you think of her as the daughter of the late Mayor Daley

The political lessons that you learn in that kind of household are different from those you would learn in most parts of the United States.  Typically, political machines do not have to fear defeats on their turf by the other party — as long as they stay united.  And by far the biggest threat to their unity has been ethnic splits.  Republicans in New England, for example, were sometimes able to defeat Irish-dominated machines by appealing to Italian immigrants.  And so a successful boss — and D'Alesandro was one — doled out offices and other goodies to the groups to keep them loyal.  And the groups learned to expect those offices and goodies as their right.

Many of those groups, especially those with machines of their own, still have those expectations.  Here, for example, is what a spokesman for the Congressional Black Caucus said about this dispute:
Pelosi has floated the notion of naming the intelligence committee's third-ranking Democrat, Texan Silvestre Reyes, who is Hispanic, but that's not flying with the black caucus.  "The CBC would not look kindly on that," caucus spokeswoman Myra Dandridge told The Post's Jonathan Weisman.  "The first order of business of the CBC chairman would be to protect his members, and Alcee Hastings has the seniority, the knowledge and the experience to be chairman of the intelligence committee."
Catch that?  The "first order of business" is not to work for the United States, or even for black Americans, but for the members of the caucus.  Mayor Daley would have understood that argument perfectly.

Now one might think that Pelosi would have learned more about politics after leaving Baltimore.   But, as it happens, San Francisco has become one of the most Democratic cities in the United States, and so Pelosi's political career has faced problems that her father would find familiar.  The groups are different, but the problems broadly similar.  As long as she keeps the various Democratic groups satisfied, she faces few political problems at home.  (Unlike her neighbor, Senator Dianne Feinstein, she has never run for statewide office; in fact, the House seat is the only elected office she has ever held.)

Giving a prime job to a man from one faction, regardless of his qualifications. would make good sense to Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr. and, so it seems, to his daughter.  But being chairman of the Intelligence Committee is not the same as being a Baltimore alderman.  We may dislike patronage appointments for alderman, but those aldermen are unlikely to damage our security.  Chairman Alcee Hastings might.

(Different news organizations have given varying accounts of how certain his appointment is.  The firmest that I have seen is this one from the Miami Herald:
Democrats say, though none publicly, that Pelosi has already told lawmakers that she plans in January to oust Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., the ranking Democrat on the committee, and replace her with Hastings.  He would become chairman if Democrats pick up 16 seats in November and take control of the House.
Columnist Michael Barone made much the same claim — apparently on much the same evidence.  So I believe that Pelosi did make that promise, and that, as of now, she intends to keep it.

By the way, personal feuds, such as the one between Harman and Pelosi, are also common in machine politics.

If you are wondering how strong the evidence against Hastings is, you will want to read this column by Ruth Marcus, who covered his impeachment and trial.)
- 10:36 AM, 1 November 2006   [link]


Of Course Kerry Should Apologize:  As I said in the preceding post, I believe that Kerry did not intend to insult the troops.  But when you say something insulting, even unintentionally, you ought to apologize.  Instead, Kerry said this.
In a statement released only moments after Bush spoke, Kerry said: "I make apologies to no one about my criticism of the President and his broken policy that kills and maims our heroes in Iraq every single day.  This pathetic attempt to distort a botched joke about President Bush is a shameful effort to distract from a botched war."
He should have started by saying that he had not meant what he said, and that he apologized for the unintentional slur, and then stopped.  He could return to attacks on Bush later.

I must admit that I am not displeased by this blunder and the way he has hurt the Democrats.   The Republicans are imperfect, but I think they are, on the whole, far better on national security than the Democrats.  And that is the main issue for me in this election.

(Does Kerry know that Bush did better in school than he did? I wonder if he does, though the facts have been available since at least 2004.  Bush's grades at Yale were slightly higher than Kerry's, and Bush's MBA from Harvard is more impressive than Kerry's law degree from a second rank school.)
- 6:20 AM, 1 November 2006
More:  After the 2004 campaign, Newsweek told us about a few of Kerry's faults that somehow they hadn't had space to cover before the election.  When I discussed them in this post, I said that Kerry acts like a child and wondered what age group fit his behavior best.  The "Medpundit" was kind enough to supply an answer: 14-15 years old.  And in my experience, kids that age are not very good at apologizing.  I don't suppose that Kerry will ever grow up — but I wish he would try.
- 1:34 PM, 1 November 2006   [link]