September 2006, Part 2
Jim Miller on Politics
Counting Ballots Isn't Complicated: But it seems to be beyond the ability of Milwaukee.
A day after the City of Milwaukee reported a primary election turnout above 80,000 — more than a quarter of the city's registered voters — a Journal Sentinel analysis found that the number might be inflated by tens of thousands.Judging by the article, this is a case of flawed vote counting software, not massive fraud, but, even so, it is not encouraging to see this kind of failure in a city that was plagued by vote fraud in the last two presidential elections.
- 1:13 PM, 15 September 2006 [link]
While Researching Rhode Island in the Almanac of American Politics, I came across this amusing tidbit about Senator Lincoln Chafee.
. . . Lincoln Chafee graduated from Brown, where he was captain of the wrestling team, and went off to horseshoing school at Montana State University. For seven years he worked as a farrier at racetracks in the United States and Canada.He then went back to Rhode Island and began a conventional political career, so we can't say that he went directly from farrier to senator. (There ought to be great many jokes about his trip from horse barns to the Senate, but I haven't seen even one.)
(The Almanac also says that Chafee was "only the second son appointed to the Senate to succeed his father, the other being Harry Byrd, Jr., in 1965".)
- 8:53 AM, 15 September 2006 [link]
A Better Organization is one of the advantages the Republicans will have in this election, according to Michael Barone. And the way Republicans used that organization to save (probably) a Republican senate seat in Rhode Island illustrates that conclusion.
Sen. Lincoln Chafee won his GOP Senate primary in Rhode Island by a 54-to-46 percent margin over Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey.I don't have to believe that, but I will say that Barone is generally correct about such questions, and that most observers agree that the Republicans learned a lot from their narrow win in 2000 — and showed what they had learned in 2004. Rhode Island, though it has two House seats, is not much larger than the average House seat (roughly 1 million versus roughly 700 thousand), so if the Republicans can gain 4500 votes for their candidate in this primary, it is not implausible to think that they might be able to gain a few thousand votes for their candidates in many of the marginal House seats this November.
I expect the Republicans to keep this organizational edge, as long as Howard Dean is the Democratic chairman. Dean is entertaining, but he is no match as a political technician for either Karl Rove or Ken Mehlman.
- 1:55 PM, 14 September 2006 [link]
Ever Think That New York Times Acts Like A Criminal Organization? Some of those running the New York Times agree.
Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has taken his place among the spirits permanently haunting West 43rd Street. "The basic goal," New York Times reporter David Barstow said, "is to make it more difficult for a future Fitzgerald to follow the breadcrumbs of phone records and notes and expense slips from reporter to source."The idea that they could avoid these legal perils by acting less like drug dealers or Mafioso does not seem to have occurred to those running the New York Times.
Which newspaper was loudest in its demands for the appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald? Why, it was the New York Times, as many of you may recall. While the New York Times was calling for a special prosecutor, more sensible people, including editorial writers at the Wall Street Journal, were trying to explain to the Times that a special prosecutor would have to question reporters, including some reporters working for the Times. Remarkably, those running the Times seem not to have learned anything from this affair.
(By way of the American Thinker.)
- 6:19 AM, 14 September 2006 [link]
That Was Quick: On Tuesday, I wrote that it was too soon to tell which party would win the US House of Representatives. This morning, as I was glancing over the Chicago Boyz site, I noticed that the Intrade betters were now predicting a Republican win. (By, granted, a small margin (Bid: 52.6, Ask: 55.8).) So I checked the Iowa market and found a similar shift toward the Republicans in the last two days, though the betters are still, very slightly, favoring a Democratic win.
As for me, I think it is still too soon to tell. When the election gets closer, I plan to do my own prediction.
- 5:38 AM, 14 September 2006 [link]
President Romney? Maybe. When I look for a president I begin by looking at successful governors. Being a governor is the best training for being president, and a governor's performance in office is almost always the best guide to his performance as president. (If we had paid more attention to Jimmy Carter's mixed record as governor of Georgia, we would never have elected him president.) If Florida governor Jeb Bush were not the son of a former president and the brother of the current president, he would be near the top of my list of governors to consider. But he is, and that excludes him, at least for the next election.
So I have begun looking seriously at other Republican governors. And I have found one Republican governor who impresses me, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. I haven't settled on Romney as my favorite, but I have found much in his record to admire.
You can't discuss Romney's prospects without mentioning the great question: Is the United States ready to elect a Mormon president? Or two questions, actually. Is the Republican party ready to nominate a Mormon, and is the country ready to elect a Mormon? My tentative answer to both questions is yes, in some circumstances. In fact, in Republican primaries, his late conversion to a pro-life position might be a more of a problem than his religion. (You can find a discussion of that late conversion in this Bill Sammon analysis.) And in a general election, Romney might have the help of evangelical and Catholic leaders, because his views on moral questions are closer to theirs than the views of the Democratic candidate. That may seem strange for those who know a little about the history of the Mormons, but times change and people change with them.
(I do have to note the great exception, President Lincoln. He never held any executive office before he became president, but he was, in my opinion, our greatest president. But that doesn't mean that we should start our searches for president by looking at one-term congressmen.
One interesting oddity in his record: Romney spent two and a half years as a Mormon missionary — in France.)
- 8:18 AM, 13 September 2006 [link]
Some Of The Attacks On President Bush are just plain funny.
Actor Sean Penn wasted little time unleashing his volatile political views on the Toronto International Film Festival yesterday, calling US President George W. Bush "a Beelzebub".The article does not say whether his audience broke into laughter after that. But they should have, even though Penn is said to have something of a temper.
(By the way, how dumb is it to think that a Beezelbub could be dumb? The Prince of Darkness has his faults, but stupidity is not among them.)
- 7:07 AM, 13 September 2006 [link]
"Too Soon To Say" That's my answer to a much debated question: Will the Democrats take control of the House or the Senate this November? I say that because I think that campaigns matter — and the campaigns have barely begun. 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. Another way to say that is that, if the election were held today, the Republicans might well lose control of both houses of congress. (The current betting, as I write, makes the Democrats favorites to win the House, but not the Senate, according to both Intrade and the Iowa Election Market.) But the election isn't being held today, it is being held eight weeks from today. And the Republicans have, I believe, an opportunity to make up lost ground in those eight weeks.
And the Republicans may have already made up some of that lost ground, according to this analysis.
Ignored was a Gallup Poll released in late August that found an unexpected tightening in what pollsters call the "generic ballot" question: "If the election were being held today, which party's candidate would you vote for in your congressional district?" Pundits looking to assess the national mood regularly cite the results of this question, and did so promiscuously earlier this year when Democrats enjoyed seemingly insurmountable advantages such as 54% to 38% in late June, or 51% to 40% immediately before Congress' August recess.In brief, Gallup found that, earlier in the year, the Democrats were showing strength in Republican districts, but no longer are. (Yes, he misused "exponentially", but we know what he means.)
Events between now and the election may help the Republicans. For example, gasoline prices have fallen and are likely to continue to fall.
American motorists should expect gasoline prices to slide another 10 cents at the pumps in the next couple of weeks, tracking a steep decline in the price of crude oil, the AAA motorist group said on Tuesday.Every bit lower will help the Republicans.
A dramatic foreign event between now and the election would also, most likely, help the Republicans. And that's true whether the event is good or bad. Americans tend to support the president, at least temporarily, during foreign crises. After the botched Bay of Pigs invasion, Kennedy's popularity actually rose. (To his credit, he found that strange.)
Studies of elections show that they are often decided in the last week or so before the vote. If, for instance, the 2000 election had been held a week earlier, Bush would probably have won by three or four points. (The drunk driving "scandal" was timed perfectly. If it has been sprung earlier in the year, Bush would probably have suffered no significant damage. And many of the journalists who hyped it knew that it was bogus.) And the same is true of many other elections. Harry Truman was behind for much of 1948, but he pulled ahead at the end, with the help of a vigorous (and very partisan) campaign. And I suspect that the Republicans did not get the lead in the 1994 election until the last month, maybe even the last few weeks.
So, for many reasons, it is too soon to tell which party will control the House and Senate for the next two years. And you shouldn't pay much attention to anyone who tells you differently.
(Some of you will noticed that I borrowed the title from a famous quip on the French Revolution by Zhou Enlai. For the record, I have no trouble saying that the French Revolution was mostly a bad thing, if only because of the enormous number of people who died in the repression and wars that followed.)
- 5:22 PM, 12 September 2006 [link]
Throw The Bums Out! That's the spirit in which I will approach Tuesday's election for the three seats on the Washington State Supreme Court. Not because I think that any of the incumbents are bums — I have no reason to believe that — but because I have become so dissatisfied with the performance of the court in the decade since I returned to Washington state that I am ready to turn out almost all of the incumbents.
I won't discuss specific cases, though you are more than welcome to do so at Sound Politics. Instead, I will identify what I consider the central flaw in the court. A court can follow the law and the constitution, which is what I would prefer. Or, if it chooses to act as a legislature, it can follow the will of the majority of the voters. I don't care for that, but I can understand how someone could justify it. Time and time again, majorities on Washington's Supreme Court have done neither. Instead, they have voted to please the state's Democratic political establishment. And I consider that way of deciding indefensible on any grounds. (And I would consider it equally indefensible if they were voting to please the Republican political establishment, such as it is).
I can not think of a single decision, except possibly the 5-4 decision not to establish same-sex marriage, where the court has displeased that establishment. (Even the same-sex marriage decision might have support from much of the Democratic establishment on prudential grounds. They might prefer a different decision, but they would prefer, even more, not to lose a friendly judge.) And a little bit of thought should show you that the Democratic establishment must be wrong in some of the cases that come before the court. But they don't lose many decisions. (If you can think of any exceptions to that generalization, besides gay marriage, please note them in a comment.)
Sometimes this desire to please the Democratic establishment has led to absurd decisions. Often, since Democrats generally want to extend government power (except in criminal cases), it has led to infringements on individual rights. A decade of watching these absurd decisions and these infringements is enough for me. Next Tuesday, I will vote to throw the incumbents out, and to elect Jeanette Burrage, John Groen, and Stephen Johnson.Cross posted at Sound Politics.
- 3:01 PM, 12 September 2006 [link]
That's Their Story: And they're sticking to it. One of the most infuriating things about most "mainstream" journalists is their unwillingness to make corrections — especially when those corrections come from people who are not members of their guild. That, as I said in August, is the unlearned lesson of the Jayson Blair scandal.
And here is a recent, and exceptionally infuriating example of that unwillingness to make corrections, however warranted. As you almost certainly know, many doubts have been raised about the reporting from Lebanon of the recent war between Israel and Hezbollah, in particular about some of the photos. Here's how Ian Mayes of the Guardian responded to one set of criticisms:
On Tuesday July 25 the Guardian carried a report from south Lebanon headed: Red Cross ambulances destroyed in Israeli air strike on rescue mission. It appeared on page 6, the last of three pages devoted to the Middle East crisis that day. The report was filed from the southern Lebanon city of Tyre by one of the paper's most experienced foreign correspondents, a former Jerusalem correspondent, Suzanne Goldenberg.There are a "fairly large number of inconsistencies and anomalies" and there is "cause for doubt", but he has his story and he is sticking to it. In short, evidence doesn't matter. Why not? Because Goldenberg is sticking by her story. And because some, but not all, "authorities" still support the story.
Ian Mayes is not just any old journalist. He is the Guardian's reader's representative and president of the Organisation of News Ombudsmen. (Which lends support to the argument I have made from time to time, that newspaper ombudsmen are, on the whole, worse than useless.)
(I have started a new category of significant posts on the right, "Uncorrected Mistakes". I expect to have little trouble finding many more examples. And I have almost no hope that we will be able to shame many "mainstream" journalists into making more corrections — no matter what the evidence.
I have also added this tongue-in-cheek disclaimer
Here's the zombietime post for those who would like to see the evidence for themselves.
And here are two supporting posts from Tim Blair and Charles Johnson, who have exposed many errors by journalists, and a few outright frauds.)
- 1:24 PM, 12 September 2006 [link]
Today's Michael Ramirez Cartoon sums up the Clinton legacy on terrorism nicely.
(And, yes, I can think of an obscene version of the cartoon, but I'm not going to go there. I'm not even going to be suggestive. But you are welcome to use your own imaginations.)
- 11:04 AM, 12 September 2006 [link]
The 2,996 Project: In one of the better memorials, bloggers organized a cooperative effort to honor the 2,996 who were murdered on 9/11. Here are four posts, picked mostly at random, from Michelle Malkin, Chris Mazur, Ed Morrisey, and "Sistah Toldjah". That's about all that I could read at one time without tearing up.
- 5:30 PM, 11 September 2006 [link]
How Much Attention Did Clinton Pay To Intelligence In His First Years In Office? Not much, as this sketchy biography of James Woolsey reminds us.
As Director of the CIA, Woolsey is notable for having a very limited relationship with President Bill Clinton. According to journalist Richard Miniter:Woolsey headed the CIA for almost two years, from February 5, 1993 to January 10, 1995. And Clinton essentially refused to see him during that time.Never once in his two-year tenure did CIA director James Woolsey ever have a one-on-one meeting with Clinton. Even semiprivate meetings were rare. They only happened twice. Woolsey told me: "It wasn't that I had a bad relationship with the president. It just didn't exist." 
The relationship was so bad that when a crackpot crashed a light plane into the White House, Washington wags quipped that it was just Woolsey trying to get in to see the president.
Not even the first attack on the World Trade Center, which occurred on February 26, 1993, got Clinton's attention. (That attack, had it succeeded, would have killed far more people than were killed 0n 9/11. The terrorists hoped to topple one tower into the other, which would have killed everyone in both towers and many more in the neighboring buildings. If I recall correctly, the terrorists hoped to kill 250,000 people. If they had succeeded, that loss would have been greater than the US losses in every war except the Civil War and World War II.)
Why was Clinton so unwilling to speak to the head of the CIA? I have never seen a good explanation. But we still need one.
- 12:40 PM, 11 September 2006 [link]
Why 9/11? The Japanese chose December 7th to attack Pearl Harbor for sound tactical reasons. They knew that the American forces were least on guard on Sunday mornings. Osama bin laden and company seem to have chose the time of the 9/11 attack for similar tactical reasons. They went early enough in the morning so that they could be assured of getting all, or almost all, their men on the planes.
But why did they choose 9/11 for the day of the attack? I think it likely that they chose that date for symbolic reasons, since the attack was, as I have said before, essentially a propaganda attack. But what does it symbolize to them? I have seen a number of speculative answers to that question. Most seem to think that bin Laden chose that day because it marked some great Muslim defeat. One popular explanation is that it marked the defeat of the Ottoman forces in the second siege of Vienna.
The battle marked the turning point in the 300-year struggle between the forces of the Central European kingdoms, and the Ottoman Empire. Over the sixteen years following the battle, the Habsburgs of Austria, and their allies gradually occupied and dominated southern Hungary and Transylvania, which had been largely cleared by the Turkish forces.(Although picky folks might note that the victory was actually won on September 12th, when the Polish king, John Sobieski, led the relief force down from the hills in an attack that destroyed the weary Turkish army.)
But the second siege of Vienna isn't the only famous Muslim defeat that occurred on 9/11. There was also the defeat of the Ottoman forces at the siege of Malta.
And so it was that on Tuesday, September 11th 1565, the Ottoman Turks were driven from the Malta by the stalwart defense of a small group of living anachronisms and the island's own brave inhabitants. The greatest military force in the Mediterranean was broken on the walls of the island's fortresses, and the swords, spears and shields of the islanders and the Knights.(Malta was then, as it was in World War II, a key to control of the Mediterranean.)
And the defeat of the Ottoman forces at the battle of Zenta.
The Battle of Zenta or Battle of Senta, fought on September 11, 1697 just south of modern Serbian town of Senta (German: Zenta), on the east side of Tisa (Tisza), was a major engagement in the Great Turkish War (1683-1699) and one of most decisive defeats in Turkish history.Whatever bin Laden's reason(s) for choosing 9/11, these speculations tell us something about our enemies. They want revenge for defeats suffered hundreds of years ago, defeats suffered by Muslim armies that were engaged in wars of conquest. (Or in the case of Zenta, re-conquest.) That should make it clear that we can surrender to our enemies, but we can not appease them, can not buy them off with concessions. Many still refuse to face that unpleasant fact.
(There's a longer description of the battle of Zenta here, and a biography of the victorious commander, Prince Eugene of Savoy, here. (Strange fact: Eugene wanted to serve in the French army, but was refused a commission by Louis XIV. He joined the Austrians and became one of the greatest enemies of the French king.))
- 9:09 AM, 11 September 2006 [link]
"Getting It Right" That's the title of Ralph Peters' column. And here's his uncompromising conclusion:
The biggest story since 9/11 is that there hasn't been an other 9/11. According to our hysterical media culture, everything's always going wrong. The truth is that we've gotten the big things right.Though the critics can — and mostly will — ignore it.
After the 9/11 attack, I expected more attacks within a year, and I think that most others did, too. Why was I wrong? There are a number of possible explanations for the lack of attacks but the most obvious explanation is that, as Peters says, "we've gotten the big things right". And we should celebrate that success.
(Later this week, I hope to discuss some of the other explanations for the lack of attacks.)
- 5:58 AM, 11 September 2006 [link]
Want To See The Parts Of "The Path To 9/11", That Have Been Cut? Here they are.
Which is what I predicted would happen, though I expected talk show hosts, rather than bloggers, to be the first to do this. But with so many copies of the original out (900, I think), I should have realized that it was inevitable that the cut portions would be available on the net, and soon.
And for an analysis that expands on my argument that the attacks on the ABC docudrama are foolish, see this fine Tigerhawk post.
- 4:25 PM, 10 September 2006 [link]
If He Continues As He Has Begun, Democratic senate candidate Ned Lamont will provide us with many a chuckle before this campaign ends. Here's his latest blunder.
Ned Lamont, Connecticut's Democratic Senate candidate, has sharply criticized Senator Joseph I. Lieberman's public rebuke of former President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, suggesting this week that Mr. Lieberman turned his back on a decades-old friendship and helped make a tragic episode a "media spectacle."But, as it turns out, Lamont held a different opinion at the time.
Ned Lamont, who this week chastised Senator Joseph I. Lieberman for his public rebuke of President Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, wrote to Mr. Lieberman at the time praising the eloquence of his speech on the Senate floor.Lamont erred by bringing up the subject at all, and he erred by forgetting his own email. (Or by thinking that the Lieberman staff would not dig it out.) Most voters, especially independents, liked Lieberman's speech, so it was a mistake even to mention it. But to do so when Lamont had expressed the opposite view at the time is sheer folly. It makes Lamont look both foolish and unprincipled, which is not easy to do with a single statement.
(You can find a similar analysis here, along with links to some leftist complaints about newspapers even covering this, and some funny comments.
By the way, polls show that Lieberman is leading Lamont, though not by enormous margins. All in all, it looks like this will end very well for the Republicans.)
- 4:00 PM, 10 September 2006 [link]