Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The black vote

The Horserace Blog has a very clear explanation of the black vote and the Democratic Party. Also note the very clear and broader explanation of how and why the Democratic Party is without a base. He maintains, and I agree (although the point can be refined) that Kerry will lose the election for lack of black and Catholic support. It will not stretch your imagination to see what a bind the Demos are in after they lose this election: they stand for nothing (compared to their past) and have a base only in those states (California, Illinois, e.g.), where the GOP is incompetent or corrupt. I don’t know this guy, but he is good. Read it.

Crazy polls?

just released a poll and there is some very weird stuff in it. Not so weird is Bush leading Kerry nationally, 49-47%. And all these are weird: Kerry leads Bush in Ohio by 4%, in Florida by 3%, in Minnesota by 8%; Bush leads Kerry in Wisconsin by 8%, in Iowa by 2%, and in Pennsylvania by 4%. What does one say? Well, it is possible that the margin of victory (for either, I guess) is going to be much larger than we have been thinking. Or, polls may just be without value altogether. Pick one.
Also note that the CBS/New York Times poll is out and they have it Bush over Kerry, 49-46%. Also note that 49% of the people polled think that Bush will win, while only 33% think that Kerry will win. And Pew Research has it Bush over Kerry, 48-45%, among likely voters. Also note this: "Pew’s final survey suggests that the remaining undecided vote may break only slightly in Kerry’s favor. When both turnout and the probable decisions of undecided voters are taken into account in Pew’s final estimate, Bush holds a slight 51%-48% margin."

Washington, D.C. during the Civil War

Ralph Peters has a nice short review of a new book by Ernest B. Furgurson, Freedom Rising: Washington in the Civil War. Peters says it is a better characterization of the politics in the city than anything yet written, including Margaret Leech’s Reveille in Washington. I started reading it this morning and I think he is right.

Who loves you baby?

I guess China, if it could vote, would not be voting for Bush. And this
Christian Science Monitor glances at the whole world; the French don’t like Bush, the Russians do, etc., not that it matters. Bush is in the tradition of Reagan, although some of the allies have shifted, for example, Russia didn’t like us much before the regime change.

What Media Bias?

Here is a choice selection from today’s AP "news" article about the homestretch of the campaign:

On the stump Saturday, the two candidates responded to bin Laden’s tape in ways reflecting their long-held campaign strategies.

The president - who throughout the campaign has sought to deflect voter concerns about the war in Iraq, his handling of the economy and his job performance overall by fueling fears about terrorism - continued that theme.

At his first stop in GOP-leaning western Michigan, he reminded supporters of the 2001 attacks. "Americans go to the polls at a time of war and ongoing threats unlike any we have faced before," Bush said.

In response to the videotape, the Bush administration warned state and local officials that the tape may be intended to promote or signal an attack.

Kerry has tried to tap anti-war sentiment within the ranks of the Democratic Party while assuring swing voters that he would keep them safe. The decorated Vietnam War veteran pledged anew to "destroy, capture, kill Osama bin Laden and all of the terrorists."

With a touch of swagger, Kerry began one sentence by saying, "When I am president," and pledged to provide "leadership and hope" to U.S. troops seeking a quick return home from Iraq.

That really was a well-written, liberal op-ed. It’s just a shame that it is masquerading as news.

Bush will win

People are pestering me. Have I changed my mind about the election? Do I still think Bush is going to win? Etc. They are beginning to panic, I expect in part because of the many tracking polls they have seen, and others which are either connfusing or are spun by TV anchors to make it seem that there is a movement toward Kerry. There is no movement toward Kerry! Kerry does not have momentum. I have not changed my mind, and, just to be perfectly clear, let me reiterate the following: Bush will win. Although Kerry will probably take Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Minnesota, that will be as close as he is going to get. Bush will win Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Iowa and the rest (New Mexico, New Hampshire, Hawaii, will not matter). So, stop calling me. I have to finish grading some papers!

Tom Wolfe’s new novel

Charles McGrath writes a piece on Tom Wolfe and his new novel for the New York Times Magazine. Wolfe has a good eye is a good writer, and is an odd man who many on the left don’t like, therefore he is worth reading. His new novel is a chronicle of the American university, "a campus novel on steroids," says McGrath. I bet it will be worth reading. If you go to Amazon
(and click down) you can listen to Wolfe talk about the novel for a few minutes.

The coming battle for Fallujah

The Belmont Club has a very clear explanation of what is going on in Fallujah and Ramadi. Be sure to follow his links, especially to The Adventures of Chester and his links to maps, etc. It is being said that the battle will start immediately after the election.

"Fallujah watchers will have noticed that the Marines are closing out a last round of negotiations for surrender while they have been progressively shutting down insurgent checkpoints within the city by hitting them with smart munitions. My own speculation is that the negotiations were launched, not in the expectation of getting Zarqawi to lay down his arms, but in order to negotiate a separate peace with the different factions in town. The impending assault has been used as a negotiating lever to create gaps in the enemy ranks. This process is calculated to blind the enemy by shutting down his pickets and poison his intelligence channels -- not to mention introducing mutual suspicion and internecine fighting.

The main event next week will doubtless be the Presidential elections but for Marines in Anbar, their minds may will be on matters closer at hand."   

Like, Dylan TOTALLY Endorsed John Kerry!

I opened up this morning’s edition of the Mansfield News-Journal to find a half-age ad bearing the title "Luke Perry Endorses John Kerry for President." There was a photo of the former "Beverly Hills 90210" actor, dressed in what appeared to be a western-style costume from one of his classic films. It may have been "8 Seconds", or perhaps the gritty 2002 "Johnson County War". But apparently Luke deeply cares about this election, "as a former resident of both Mansfield and Frederickstown." Hmm, I wonder how long it’s been since he’s been back?

Dude, I was going to vote for Bush, but this heartfelt plea from DYLAN FROM 90210 has changed my mind. I am SO going to vote for Kerry now. No, wait, I’d better check to see who Ian Ziering and Jason Priestly are voting for first.


Charles Krauthammer says that the transformation of Afghanistan "represents the single most astonishing geopolitical transformation of the past four years. (Deposing Saddam Hussein ranks second. The global jihad against America was no transformation at all: It existed long before the Bush administration. We’d simply ignored al Qaeda’s declaration of war.)" And, Krauthammer argues, it has dissappeared from the public consciousness. Both things are true. One of the things I have not understood about this campaign is why Bush has not made a major issue of this in the campaign. Too bad. The other thing is, you would think the the various feminist organizations have said nothing about the real liberation of millions of Afghan women.

Everyone is in Ohio today

I guess the fact that all four candidates are in Ohio today makes it perfectly clear that Ohio is the most importants state. But please note that Ohio is critical for Kerry, while less so for Bush (if he can pick up Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota). Go to RealClearPolitics for all the polls, both national and state, as well as tracking polls (be sure to glance at yeaterday’s figures as well). So, everyone says it is close and it will depend on turnout and independents. I am still not persuaded that it will all that close, nor am I persuaded that the turnout will be the largest ever, over 15 million more voting this year than in 2000, as I heard one Demo apparatchik say this morning. Nor am I persuaded that independents will tilt for Kerry. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Take a look at the Electoral Vote tally at RealClearPolitics and do some math to see how difficult it is for Kerry to pull this off.

Why support Bush

George Will, frequently critical of President Bush, explains why Bush should be supported. It is good and elegant. A sample paragraph:

"Reasonable people can question the feasibility of Bush’s nation-building and democracy-spreading ambitions. However, having taken up that burden, America cannot prudently, or decently, put it down. The question is: Which candidate will most tenaciously and single-mindedly pursue victory? The answer is: Not John Kerry, who is multiple-minded about most matters.

Tuesday’s winner will not start from scratch but from where we are now, standing with the women of Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Back in Washington recently, Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, said those women were warned that Taliban remnants would attack polling places during the Oct. 9 elections. So the women performed the ritual bathing and said the prayers of those facing death. Then, rising at 3 a.m., they trekked an hour to wait in line for the polls to open at 7 a.m. In the province of Kunar an explosion 100 meters from a long line of waiting voters did not cause anyone to leave the line."

Election thoughts, Osama thoughts

I have been unnaturally busy the last few days, and I’m afraid that my hectic schedule will continue for a few more. I say this because a few folks, both on the comments page and via e-mail, have complained that this page was relatively silent yesterday. Hey, we are days away from the election, and you not talking! Well, I am talking (to the press, for example), but it is also true that I don’t have very much to say about the election that I haven’t already said here and elsewhere. Nothing has changed in one day, except the bin Laden tape and, whether you like it or not, that is entirely in Bush’s interest. In shorgt, I still believe that Bush will win the election, and will win handily. If you click here
you will see that both John Moser and I have given our predictions, in detail for the electoral vote, and some Senate races. Cleveland Plain Dealer has a poll of Ohio today, and the short of it is that Bush is ahead by 3 points (48-45%). And that’s how it’s going to turn out, imho, except that it is more likely to be Bush 51-48% in Ohio (very similar to the national vote). Let me also note a few things: Cheney is on his way to Hawaii, and today Bush is in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and Florida (not Ohio), While Kerry is in Wisconsin and Iowa, and then back to Ohio. Edwards is in Ohio, then Maine, and then Florida. Kerry is fighting for state he should have nailed down weeks or months ago. And then, of course, there is this bin Laden tape. Is there anyone who thinks this is in Kerry’s interest? I don’t think so, although the MSM spin is this: "gosh, we don’t who this will help or hurt." That’s bull. I guess this is the real October surprise. If you are a Kerry supporter, you will call Bush lucky, I guess.
Take a look at Belmont Club’s comments on the Osama tape. He quotes some of bin Laden’s talk and then concludes:

"It is important to notice what he has stopped saying in this speech. He has stopped talking about the restoration of the Global Caliphate. There is no more mention of the return of Andalusia. There is no more anticipation that Islam will sweep the world. He is no longer boasting that Americans run at the slightest wounds; that they are more cowardly than the Russians. He is not talking about future operations to swathe the world in fire but dwelling on past glories. He is basically saying if you leave us alone we will leave you alone. Though it is couched in his customary orbicular phraseology he is basically asking for time out.

The American answer to Osama’s proposal will be given on Election Day. One response is to agree that the United States of America will henceforth act like Sweden, which is on track to become majority Islamic sometime after the middle of this century. The electorate best knows which candidate will serve this end; which candidate most promises to be European-like in attitude and they can choose that path with both eyes open. The electorate can strike that bargain and Osama may keep his word. The other course is to reject Osama’s terms utterly; to recognize the pleading in his outwardly belligerent manner and reply that his fugitive existence; the loss of his sanctuaries; the annihilation of his men are but the merest foretaste of what is yet to come: to say that to enemies such as he, the initials ’US’ will always mean Unconditional Surrender.

Osama has stated his terms. He awaits America’s answer."

Why I am Voting for Bush

My friend Bob Lawson at Division of Labour has invited his contributors to say for whom they are voting, and why. In case anyone is interested, my answer is here.

OBL’s Endorsement of Kerry

Well, okay, not quite. It seems obvious that bin Laden does not want to see George W. Bush elected to a second term, but if the president has handled the War on Terror as incompetently as the Al-Qaeda chief suggests, then wouldn’t he want a Bush reelection more than anything else? On the other hand, if he wanted to use reverse psychology--he really wants Bush to win, so is making it appear that he prefers Kerry--I find it hard to believe that he would be playing up the president’s alleged incompetence.

No matter how one looks at it, the really puzzling part is why he would think that such a message would work; perhaps he’s hoping to boost anti-Semitism by linking his terror campaign to U.S. support for Israel. But I can’t see this as anything else but a boon for the Bush campaign.

By the way, Power Line notes the similarity between bin Laden’s words and arguments heard in Fahrenheit 9/11. "Do you suppose there are any Democrats honest enough to be embarrassed that Osama bin Laden has enthusiastically adopted their campaign themes?"

Kerry’s Polling About Bin Laden

AP is reporting that Cheney has blasted the Kerry campaign for taking a poll on the Bin Laden videotape. "A spokesman for Kerry’s campaign did not deny polling on the bin Laden videotape, but suggested President Bush has done so. Bush’s campaign strategist denied asking any poll questions about the al-Qaida terrorist." The best denial that Joe Lockhart could make is that the poll wasn’t quite made by the Kerry campaign: "Lockhart said Cheney was referring to a Democracy Corps poll and inaccurately linked it to the Kerry campaign’s private polling. Democracy Corps is a Democratic organization and not part of the Kerry campaign, though its management has worked closely with Kerry’s team." The only thing this poorly executed legerdemain raises in my mind is the question of whether "Democracy Corps" has made an in-kind contribution to the Kerry campaign, and if so, if they have complied with FEC rules.

This will probably not be covered enough in the day leading up to the election to have an effect, but it could have a substantial effect if it is covered. This act will likely remind people of Bill Clinton’s poll driven foreign policy--a foreign policy suited for unserious times--and would thereby confirm many voters’ worst fears about Kerry.

Colloquium Today

David Hackett Fischer, author of Washington’s Crossing, Paul Revere’s Ride and Albion Seed, will be at the Ashbrook Center today at 3:00pm discussing his newest book, Liberty and Freedom.

You can listen in live starting a little before 3:00pm by clicking here.


Ignore the polls. Here’s why the planets are coming into alignment for a solid Bush victory.

First, the victory of the conservative party in Australia by an unexpectedly large margin three weeks ago. I know--they say Iraq wasn’t an issue, but just imagine what the New York Times would have said if Howard had been defeated. Seems like a good omen.

Last week Castro falls ass-over-tea kettle on his face, looking remarkably like Saddam’s statute being toppled in Baghdad last year. Coincidence?

Now we see Yassir Arafat being rushed to a Paris hospital for an "undisclosed" mystery ailment. But did you see his photo yesterday? To paraphrase Monty Python’s parrot sketch, we’re looking at a soon-to-be ex-Arafat.

And then there are the Kerry factors: Americans are not going to elect a guy who owns a powerboat named "Scaramouche," or who wears a flower-power zipper-pull on his ski jacket.

An Observation about Trick-or-Treating

Last night my wife and I sat out on our front porch for an hour, handing out candy to the costumed kiddies who stopped by. And it occurred to me how much Halloween has changed for the worse. For one thing, it was still light out! When we finally packed it in at 7:00, it was just about dark--roughly the point when, during my childhood in the 1970s, we would have first ventured out of the house with our trick-or-treat bags in hand. And while Ashland has designated but a single hour for trick-or-treat, we would have been out for at least two, circulating far and wide in search of candy corn, Smarties, and the always-prized Reese’s Cups. By 9:00 or so we’d come home, exhausted, to begin the process of sorting our haul according to overall desirability, making trades when the opportunity arose.

But there’s something else I noticed. Today’s costumes are far more elaborate than what we had--anyone remember those boxed costumes with the cheap plastic mask? And it appears that folks today put a lot more effort into decorating for Halloween. It used to be nothing more than slapping a few cardboard cut-outs on the windows; today one might be suspected of having insufficient Halloween spirit if one doesn’t have a few styrofoam tombstones in the front yard and ghosts-made-from-sheets hanging from the trees. Okay, most don’t go as far as I do--I use a fog machine--but certainly the bar has been raised. But here’s what’s odd--the kids seem to enjoy it all less. I remember trick-or-treating as something I engaged in with absolute glee; we’d run from house to house, breathlessly shouting "TRICK OR TREAT" at each door. But the children we saw wandering through the neighborhood were sluggish. Few even seemed to be smiling; most didn’t even give the obligatory "trick or treat" unless I insisted on it as a condition of the transaction (which I began doing about halfway through). It was as if they were going through the motions. They wanted the candy, sure, and were willing to put on the silly costumes if that was what it took to close the deal. But one got the sense that their little hearts weren’t in it; that they’d much rather be sitting at home, waiting for the candy to be brought to them.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised by this. I probably would’ve been far less thrilled by Halloween if I knew it meant wandering the neighborhood in broad daylight, with my parents standing fifteen feet away. But I can’t help but find it sad; maybe next year I’ll leave the fog machine in the garage.

Cognitive enhancers

The Economist writes on the advances in drugs that will, somehow, help you remember more things than you now do. Very interesting, but I don’t think I’m interested. The only "cognitgive enhancers" I’m interested in is coffee to help me wake and a warm glass of milk (or a hot toddy) to get me to sleep, but I’m really not interested in having a better memory. There is a good chance that I would remember more than is good for me. Yet, wouldn’t it be good to remember with greater ease lines like these? "Now see that noble and most sovereign reason/Like sweet bells jangled, out of time and harsh." Maybe not.

The big picture

Andy Busch goes beyond the hurly-burly of the last few days of the campaign, as well as the confusing opinion polls, to try to get to the nub of the matter. What is the big picture in this election? One, do we have the courage to keep fighting? Bush is determined, Kerry is--at best--queationable on this issue. Two, are Americans willing to draw the line against the further erosion of the moral foundation of the society? Kerry wants us to obliterate ethical boundaries (on abortion, gay marriage, etc.) whereas Bush (to the consternation of his opponents) is determined to clarify those issues: nihilism is not an appropriate foundation on which to run a free society. Three, if they vote for Kerry Americans will contribute to the collapse of rational discourse by rewarding the Michael Moore, George Soros, and the others. Four, the next president may more than a few Supreme Court appointments. Do you think it will make a difference whether they are appointed by Bush or Kerry? Do you want judicial imperialism to continue? I think this sums it all up pretty well and I think the American people understand, and I think that’s why Bush will take not only Ohio, but the country.

Which polls are good

For those of you totally confused by pollsters and their methods--given the different conclusions they seem to come to--you should look at this very clear explanation of their differences and similarities by E.J. Drummond. Also see The Horserace Blog for thoughtful commentary on polls and polling. After examining the various national polls and their methods, Horserace Blog says this:

"So...what does this mean? Essentially, it means that the reliable polls are, roughly speaking, Time, Battleground, Gallup. All of the rest skew toward Democrats, and should be viewed with caution. A surprising number of the rest are either using questionable methods or are using unadvertised methods. This is absolutely taboo among social scientists. Methodology is the only element that the researcher can control, and thus it is critically important -- indeed it is an ethical responsibility -- for the researcher to make his/her methods avaiable."

Time, Battleground, and Gallup. Keep your eyes on those.

South Dakota

has Thune ahead of Daschle, 48.5-45.5%. He also has the load on the one House race, where the Republican (Diedrich) leads the Demo (Herseth), 48.5-45.5%.
Earlier this year, Daschle and Herseth had double-digit leads.

Missing explosives?

Washington Post editorial raises some good questions (some raised by Cliff May and others yesterday) about the weapons cache story. Bill Gertz thinks the Russians might have been involved. Could this be true?

More on Kerry and the Military

I was curious about the possibility of men and women in the armed forces choosing to retire rather than face the prospect of serving under John Kerry as commander-in-chief. I therefore e-mailed a friend of mine from graduate school, who is now serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, to get a sense for what he’s heard. Here is his response:

I have heard a little bit of "If that turd Kerry gets elected." type talk, but I haven’t been in position to do much political observation around here. I have had to ponder that question myself - I am approaching my 20 year mark. I don’t know if I would want to serve under that guy. I managed to stomach 8 years of Bill Clinton - although he made sure I saw Bosnia close up - and only got really, really angry when I found out he had Monica Lewinsky under the desk fellating him while he was on the phone with a swing vote Congressdude from KY during the run up to the vote on the Bosnia authorization.

Obviously it’s dangerous to try to generalize from this, but his dilemma is worth noting here nonetheless.

Afghanistan Reborn

Charles Fairbanks writes a terrific (and long) article on what a great success Afghanistan has been. He find it all remarkable and much to the advantage of the Afghans (and the U.S.). Fairbanks is a prof at Johns Hopkins/SAIS, and runs their Central Asia-Caucasus Institute.    


Quinnipiac poll has Bush ahead, 49-47% in PA. Zogby
disagrees. He has Kerry leading Bush, 49-46% in PA. Zogby also has figures from other states and nation-wide polls in the above Reauters story.

Kerry’s religion

Maybe we should give Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe the last word on Kerry’s religion. Also see this on the normality of Bush’s faith by Joe Knippenberg.

Bush and Gay Unions

I have not heard much said about this story today. Why is Bush saying this and why is he saying it now? I have no great insight on either question--except to say that if he is saying it, he must believe it. Anyone else?

Might Kerry Reinstate the Draft?

One of our readers, Vernon Dozier, has offered a comment that deserves to be moved front and center:

Hasn’t anyone considered that Kerry would need a draft a lot more than Bush? Bush is very popular among current military personnel (he stands to get 75% to 80% of the military vote), and the various branches are currently meeting recruitment goals. In contrast, Kerry is reviled by about 95% of those who served directly with him because he pissed all over them with false accusations of atrocities merely to promote his own political ambitions. Who the hell would volunteer to serve under such a commander in chief?

In fact, this is very much in line with what I learned today from talking with a student who has friends in the armed forces. It is no secret that the men and women of the military find Kerry despicable, and apparently there are many who say that if he is elected they will not reenlist. Assuming he would be unable to make up for these losses with French and German soldiers, it is at least as reasonable to suppose that Kerry would reinstate the draft as it is to suggest that the president might.

Kentucky’s gay marriage amendment

increasingly support a constitutional amendment that would ban civil unions and strengthen a state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman, according to a new Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll.

Seventy-six percent of likely voters polled said they would vote for the amendment. Eighteen percent of likely voters said they opposed the amendment and 6 percent said they were undecided. The telephone poll — of 690 likely voters taken Oct. 18-20 — had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points."

Depressed mice

Although this story is only tangentially related to the election, I post it anyway. Scientist have discovered that newborn mice when given prozac get depressed as they get older. "Mice treated with the antidepressant Prozac early in life grow into adults with emotional problems, a new report concludes."

"Researchers began injecting mice with fluoxetine four days after birth until they were 21 days old. Nine weeks after their last injection, the adult animals were given a series of behavioural tests designed to assess their level of anxiety and depression.

The team found that rodents who received drug as newborns were more intimidated by new surroundings and moved more slowly to avoid painful shocks compared to controls. ’They are more inhibited in novel situations,’ says Gingrich. ’Extrapolating to people, we’d say the mice are showing symptoms of anxiety and depression or emotional problems.’"

Missing explosives, the non story

The Belmont Club, as Joe Knippenberg says in the comment section, is all over the missing explosives story. The bottom line: the place was searched by units of the 3rd Infantry Division before the 101st Airborne arrived and there are contemporaneous press reports to document this.

Ohio is not a swing state

I wrote this paragraph on Ohio for NRO’s Battlegrounders:

"This is a brief response and note to Kathryn’s bringing to our attention Jay Costs points (below). I also think that Bush is doing much better in Ohio than the MSM gives him credit for; the MSM are spinning. And this explains why Bush was able to stay away from the state for ten days; he has a chance to take Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota, and still hold Ohio. Rove isn’t an idiot and they haven’t given up on Ohio. Jay mentions many good reasons for thinking this and he is essentially correct. I want to emphasize a few things, only some of which he mentions. First, as he mentions, Ohio is very much of a GOP state, it is not a swing state; the Democratic party is hardly to be found; and there is no interesting state-wide Demo candidate running for any position that in any way will help Kerry; Voinovich will be re-elected with about 63% of the vote. Second, the social-moral issues (gay marriage, abortion) and security concerns have a huge impact in Ohio, especially among women and African-Americans. This is even reflected in nation-wide polls. Kerry cannot break even with Bush with female voters; he needs to get at least 10% more of them than Bush and Bush will pick up about 13% of the black vote. Third, only fools will think that the roughly 800,000 newly registered voters are all going for Kerry; they will end up breaking about 50-50; pay attention to the large number of voters the GOP has registered, these guys have not been napping for the last five months; there are new voters in rural counties too, they’re not all up in Cuyahoga County. Fourth, Bush will get a much larger percentage of Independents than some folks think. Fifth, there is no enthusiasm for Kerry, even among his supporters. Nobody likes this guy, and his wife seems to justify the worst tendencies of the French Revolution; it is impossible for people to envision her in the White House as first lady. I will predict that Bush will win the state by one or two points less than "Issue 1" (no gay marriage) will pass with: "Issue 1" will pass by about 6%, and Bush will take Ohio by 4 or 5 percent. It is my considered opinion that the Democrats and the Kerry campaign are extremely desperate in Ohio. And I understand why."

Another MSM non-story on the draft

Thomas A. Ricks writes another MSM spin piece a few days before the election on how the draft just might be re-instituted. Are there no certain dregs of conscience left within these people?

The Jewish vote

Peter Beinart of The New Republic writes on the Jewish vote. Worth reading, even though it is not as conclusive regarding how Jews will end up voting in this election; despite the GOP push for those votes, most Jews will still back Kerry. Yet, Bush has succeeded with Orthodox and more religious Jews and the implication of that is this: "Religion is eclipsing ethnicity as a force in American politics."

Voter Fraud as Disenfranchisement

We’ve all heard the charges and counter-charges by now. Every time a Republican wants to take steps to prevent voter fraud, he or she is accused of trying to "suppress the vote" or to "disenfranchise" people. But as Will Wilkinson points out, voter fraud is in itself a form of disenfranchisement:

If somebody’s dog manages to vote for John Kerry, then, in effect, Velma Thompson (or whomever) failed to vote for that nice man, George W. Bush, even though she tried. Whiskers cancels out Velma. Here’s another way to make the same point. Each Bush vote is paired with a Kerry vote and they’re both thrown away. The winner is the one who has votes left on the table after all the other guy’s votes have been chucked. Pairing legitimate voters with voting felons, dogs, corpses, and Frenchmen has precisely the same effect on the outcome as shooting legitimate voters before they can get in the door of the high school gym.

Hat tip to Instapundit

Show time!

A couple of pieces in the Washington Post merit a mention this morning. One claims that the electoral map has expanded, that a few more states are back on the table. While this

of the electoral map--with Hawaii, Arkansas, and West Virginia now being back in play--may be temporary, it may also mean something, the Post just doesn’t know what. Well, it means that the election will be really, really, really, close. Yup, that’s very thoughtful stuff. Good analysis! Except, of course, it is wrong. And then there is this calculus that claims to show 33 different possible combinations in which the Electoral College could come out in a tie! Sure, this is fun stuff, but politics is not mathematics. The election, as you know, will not be close, but I send this stuff your way because this gives the Kerry campaign something to talk about, rather than focus on their funk. Quick ads based on a set-up NY Times headline not based on fact does not a campaign make. It doesn’t matter what Kerry does during the last few days, he will not get more than about 47% of the vote nationwide and will end up losing the Electoral College by between 50 and 60 votes. Spend the last few days of the campaign watching them--and the MSM--spin and squirm. It’s show time, folks!

More on the Missing Explosives

Here’s Bill Kristol’s take on Kerry’s use of the New York Times allegation of missing explosives in Iraq. Even Richard Holbrooke, one of Kerry’s most important foreign policy advisors, admits that he has no idea whether or not the charges are true.

What we have here is a naked effort on the part of a UN agency to unseat the current president, fully backed by the New York Times, CBS, and the Democratic Party. This should bring consequences.

General education in a free society

Apparently, Harvard is reviewing its general education curriculum. This booklet, Essays on General Education in Harvard College was published in April, and some of it is very interesting. Note especially this one by Harvey C. Mansfield, called, "A More Demanding Curriculum." (PDF file) While all seven pages are worth reading, note this especially:

"Far too little is taught about America at Harvard. The Government Department has too few courses on America; little on the Supreme Court, for example, and less on American foreign policy. The History Department has no course on the American Revolution or on the American founding. The first half of sophomore tutorial in Government, Government 97a, does have a good syllabus on American ideas and institutions, but this is taught in small sections and is not a regular lecture course. Courses in American history and politics should be part of the recommended or required part of the curriculum."

Much thanks to Joseph Knippenberg for bringing this to my attention, and to Southern Appeal for posting it.

Fahrenhype 9/11

The Dick Morris documentary Fahrenhype 9/11 which sytematically takes apart Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 is available for rent at most Hollywood Video stores. My husband and I watched it this weekend and I thought it was quite effective. One of the reasons it was so effective is that it takes pains to interview people (other than Ann Coulter) who are not the usual suspects. Many Democrats and New Yorkers who truly understand the threat are interviewed and support Bush. An easy recommendation for any relatives/friends you may have who are sitting on the fence.

Mr. Kerry, you are no FDR.

Despite his "Rushmore-like" facial features, John Kerry is no FDR. Thomas Sowell has a devastating article that demonstrates how Kerry’s political immaturity and irresponsibility lead him to his never ending demand for "plans." In war, however, some things cannot be planned. Sometimes we have to react--and sometimes we will take it in the shorts and there will be no one to blame but the enemy.

A sample from Sowell’s piece: "FDR said something else that has relevance today: ’If we are to be completely honest with ourselves, we must admit that there is risk in any course we take.’ He said that on December 29, 1940. But today there are those who think you can ’plan’ everything and that anything bad that happens is the fault of leaders who did not "plan" for it right. ’Plan’ seems to be a magic word politically."

Missing explosives?

If you are interested in the NY Times story on the missing cache of explosives, see Powerline.
They have all the links, including the NBC report that questions the NYT report. Also this from Cliff May at NRO. I quote in full: "Sent to me by a source in the government: ’The Iraqi explosives story is a fraud. These weapons were not there when US troops went to this site in 2003. The IAEA and its head, the anti-American Mohammed El Baradei, leaked a false letter on this issue to the media to embarrass the Bush administration. The US is trying to deny El Baradei a second term and we have been on his case for missing the Libyan nuclear weapons program and for weakness on the Iranian nuclear weapons program.’

(For the record, I don’t reveal my sources so if that means I end up sharing a cell at Sing-sing with Judy Miller, so be it.)"

Additional note: Drudge
has an interesting big footnote to the story. It turns out that CBS’s 60 Minutes was going to run with the story on the evening of the election. The NY Times ran with it, and has now been proven to be highly questionable by NBC. So CBS either got lucky or some producer made the right decision. Yet, one I can’t help wonder who fed the (bogus) information to CBS in the first place.

Colorado initiative is unconstitutional

Todd Gaziano and Tara Ross deliver the death blow to the Colorado initiative that would destroy the winner-take-all system for the electoral votes of Colorado. They argue that it is "flatly unconstitutional." There is a large difference between the people and a constitutional or representative body of the people, i.e., a legislature. The framers knew the difference, and the Supreme Court has upheld the fact that it is only state legislatures that may act; a state constitution may not delegate certain national functions to anyone else or redifine its legislature to be the people. Although only op-ed length, this piece has it all, including footnotes. Very good and very useful, get it out to everyone!

So, what was Kerry’s stand on Iraq again?

Mickey Kaus calls our attention to yet another old quote by Senator Kerry that has returned to haunt him. Today he may be claiming that Iraq was a "diversion" from the War on Terror, but here’s what he told John McLaughlin late in 2001:

I have no doubt, I’ve never had any doubt -- and I’ve said this publicly -- about our ability to be successful in Afghanistan. We are and we will be. The larger issue, John, is what happens afterwards. How do we now turn attention ultimately to Saddam Hussein? How do we deal with the larger Muslim world? What is our foreign policy going to be to drain the swamp of terrorism on a global basis?

So, in other words, his fear was that Afghanistan was a diversion from Saddam Hussein! As Megan McArdle over at Instapundit put it, "Don’t Kerry’s people know about the internet yet?"

Most important poll?

The Weekly Reader poll is out, "and the winner is President Bush. Hundreds of thousands of students participated, giving the Republican President more than 60% of the votes cast and making him a decisive choice over Democratic Senator John Kerry.

Since 1956, Weekly Reader students in grades 1-12 have correctly picked the president, making the Weekly Reader poll one of the most accurate predictors of presidential outcomes in history."

Catholics against Kerry

Brian P. Golden, a three-term Democrat state rep in Massachusetts, explain why he and other Catholics should not support Kerry. Latest polls have Kerry carrying about 50% of the Catholic vote. The short of it is this: "For 20 years, on matters most fundamental to Catholics, Kerry has been consistently wrong."

Bush doubling his black support?

Star Parker tries to explain the two recent polls showing Bush with about 17-18% support from blacks (double what he got in 2000). Parker is not surprised by this and thinks that the gay marriage issue is one reason, aside from general disillusionment with the Demos.  

Hawaii for Bush?

Michael Barone considers the a recent poll showing Bush ahead by one point, and another showing Bush and Kerry even. Is it possible that Bush will win Hawaii? Barone thinks it is, and he explains why; one reason, they tend to vote for incumbents. A bit of useful Hawaiian political history. Good.  

War Plan Orange and Iraq

The Belmont Club has a tight essay (circa four pages) called "War Plan Orange." It weaves seamlessly between the retreat into Bataan, and Saddam’s war plan. The start: "In retrospect Saddam’s plan to defend Iraq may bear a resemblance to War Plan Orange’s retreat into Bataan. Since reinforcements could not come to the aid of US divisions in the Philippine Islands in time to repel an anticipated Japanese invasion, the plan called for the abandonment of the capital and a concentration of forces and supplies into the Bataan peninsula, where MacArthur’s forces could hope to hold out until relief eventually arrived. MacArthur attempted to change the plan at the last moment, attempting to fight near the beaches and was belatedly forced readopt the strategy of withdrawing into Bataan, a mistake which cost him thousands of tons in supplies. Still, by skillful rearguard actions at the Agno and Pampanga Rivers, MacArthur slipped 80,000 men into his defensive redoubt and held out for four months. Three years later, Tomoyuki Yamashita, facing the same strategic problem against superior forces, moved his 272,000 troops into the mountainous spine of Luzon where he held out for a little over eight months.

Faced with an invasion of Iraq in 2003, Saddam carried out his own sideslip maneuver into a redoubt. The Duelfer report notes that Saddam may have begun moving his WMD materials into Syria as the US vainly attempted to get UN authorization to topple his regime." Read on.

Historians in disarray

Peter Charles Hoffer a professor of history at University of Georgia, "contends that his profession ’has fallen into disarray’ and aims a polemical blast at his fellow historians for condoning sloppy scholarship and an anything-goes ethical climate." And: "Hoffer accuses the American Historical Association (AHA), where he has served as an adviser on plagiarism and a member of its professional standards division, of abdicating its responsibility to enforce basic scholarly principles in both realms [both scholarly and popular history]." This report on Hoffer’s latest book in the Boston Globe is worth a read. 

A few more tracking polls

The TIPP tracking poll has it this way nationally: Bush 50%-Kerry 42% (Nader 2%). Five days ago they had Bush ahead by 1 point. See the nice chart, starting
September 13th. Zogby
tracking poll of the ten battleground states is interesting:

Colorado, Kerry 49-45%. Florida, Bush 49-46%. Iowa, Bush 47-45%. Michigan, Kerry 52-42%. Minnesota, Kerry 46-45%. New Mexico, Bush 49-44%. Nevada, Bush 48-44%. Ohio, Bush 47-42%. Pennsylvania, Kerry 47-45%. Wisconsin, Bush 48-45%.

Gallup poll

The Gallup/CNN
poll is out. Bush leads Kerry 51-46%, among likely voters. Here is the way CNN reports it:
"The presidential race continues to be tight, with President Bush possibly holding a slight lead over Sen. John Kerry among likely voters, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup national opinion poll published Monday.

Fifty-one percent of likely voters said they would back Bush, and 46 percent expressed support for Kerry.

The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points, meaning the true leader was unclear." Among registered voters Bush leads 49-47%. Bush gets a 51% job approval.

Kerry leaving Colorado

Rocky Mountain News reports that the Kerry campaign has packed its bags, in effect, and left the state; Kerry scrapped a planned campaign stop in Denver.

Maybe He Should Have Tried Inventing the Internet . . .

In the second presidential debate, Senator Kerry chastised the President for failing to adequately consult with the UN Security Council prior to action in Iraq--something he claims to have done:

"This president hasn’t listened. I went to meet with the members of the Security Council in the week before we voted. I went to New York. I talked to all of them, to find out how serious they were about really holding Saddam Hussein accountable," Mr. Kerry said of the Iraqi dictator. (emphasis added.)

In December 2003, the Washington Times reports that he made a similar statement to the Council on Foreign Relations, in which he explained that he understood the "real readiness" of the United Nations to "take this seriously" because he met "with the entire Security Council, and we spent a couple of hours talking about what they saw as the path to a united front in order to be able to deal with Saddam Hussein." (emphasis added.)

Joel Mowbray of the Washington Times reports this morning that UN officials are disputing Kerry’s claim that he met with the entire security council:

An investigation by The Washington Times reveals that while the candidate did talk for an unspecified period to at least a few members of the panel, no such meeting, as described by Mr. Kerry on a number of occasions over the past year, ever occurred. . . . [O]f the five ambassadors on the Security Council in 2002 who were reached directly for comment, four said they had never met Mr. Kerry. The four also said that no one who worked for their countries’ U.N. missions had met with Mr. Kerry either.

Equally damning, a U.N. spokesman said that "our office does not have any record of this meeting." Of course, Kerry did meet with the French representative to the UN (shocking!), but his statements reported by the Times do not help Mr. Kerry:

Jean-David Levitte, then France’s chief U.N. representative and now his country’s ambassador to the United States, said through a spokeswoman that Mr. Kerry did not have a single group meeting as the senator has described, but rather several one-on-one or small-group encounters.

He added that Mr. Kerry did not meet with every member of the Security Council, only "some" of them. Mr. Levitte could only name himself and Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of Britain as the Security Council members with whom Mr. Kerry had met.

Some will inevitably suggest that this was a mild exaggeration or a misstatement to be ignored. But aside from going to Kerry’s honesty, which had been questioned in this campaign, it also goes to the heart of Kerry’s claims against Bush. Kerry does not appear to have disputed that Bush spoke with select representatives from the UN, such as Britain. Kerry’s complaint was that Bush failed to adequately consult (or, bow deeply) to the full Security Council. But now we learn that Kerry did not do so either. He went and talked to a few of his friends--notably the French--and construed that as sufficient consultation. We again see that for Kerry, the sine qua non of multilateralism is appeasing Old Europe. This is why the facts underlying the gaffe, or to use the language of Democrats--the fact that KERRY LIED!--is important. Hat tip to Powerline.

A note on the Scots-Irish

Yesterday I mentioned James Webb’s new book, Born to Fight, and his op-ed in the WSJ on the same theme. Instapundit pointed me to this NPR interview with Webb on his book. Also note
this especially thoughtful (and long) comment on the whole matter. Also note that David Hackett Fisher, author of Albion’s Seed, will be holding forth at the Ashbrook Center at the Colloquium this Friday, although it will be on his new book, Liberty and Freedom.

Blackwell on the hot seat

The Cleveland Plain Dealer runs a front page story in today’s Sunday edition (above the fold, with large photo) on Ohio’s Secreteray of State Ken Blackwell. Blackwell, say Democrats, is the "next Katherine Harris" because he is in charge of what (say they) is a massively flawed electoral system in the state. The story mentions all that (although it was written before Blackwell’s position on provisional ballots was vindicated by a federal court), but really turns out to be a background piece on Blackwell, the most prominent conservative politician in the state. While the Plain Dealer story is not exactly in Blackwell’s corner, either on the voting issues for the upcoming elections or on his political thinking, you can still get a pretty good idea--if you read with care--of what Blackwell is like. He is a tough, smart, well read, conservative, and deeply religious man (the PD doesn’t mention that he is a Catholic) who is often at odds with his own party, a party still essentially moderate and Taft-like. And he is a guy who doesn’t mind taking chances, which shows me that he is principled. And, by the way, Blackwell will run for governor is 2006; and he has a very good shot at it. I should add that I know Blackwell very well, met him in 1988 when I came to Ohio (We were on a panel discussion about foreign policy; I didn’t know anything about him, but quickly discovered that not only was he smart, but we agreed on all the essentials; and he liked to laugh a lot!), and he has been sitting on the Ashbrook Center’s Board for many years. He is worth paying attention to for many good and serious reasons, not only on how he handles the election in Ohio.

Nasty, divisive politics?

All the MSM seem to think that this campaign is especially mean and notably partisan. David Brooks seems to agree and tries to explain this great divide by saying that the two candidates are describing different realities, not only different policies, and we are in the middle of a "leadership war": i.e., Demos and Republicans are looking for differnt things in a leader. Read it and judge for yourself, but I’m not quite persuaded. William Schambra, writing for The Christian Science Monitor thinks that we ought to get a historic grip! Our politics have always been
tough, vicious, overstated and divisive and the people don’t really mind. It is only the elites that mind this, he argues, partly because in this robust political world they don’t seem to have much influence.

"The Founders believed, as James Madison noted in Federalist No. 10, that ’So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.’

The idea is that democracy would liberate individual self-interest and narrow political ambition to an unprecedented degree, thereby skewing our politics toward a fairly low common denominator. But the Founders believed that our dispersed, decentralized political institutions could harness and counterbalance this crude political energy, moderating it and directing it toward some semblance of the common good."

So we shouldn’t be shocked when Andy Jackson was described by his opponents as a bigamist, drunkard, adulterer, and even a murderer. Lincoln was called an ass, a grotesque baboon, a dictator, and a coarse vulgar joker (which he was, by the way). Schambra’s suggestion for us citizens: " In the closing days of this election season, American citizens should celebrate, enjoy, and throw themselves into the exasperating, wonderful spectacle of our presidential election.

And when they hear complaints about our debased politics, they should reflect on this lament: ’The age of statesmen is gone.... God save the Republic ... from the buffoon and gawk ... we have for President.’

That was the New York World in 1864, commenting on the renomination of Abraham Lincoln."

Bush and his IQ

John Tierney, writing for The New York Times, notes that--based on military test records--it looks like Bush’s IQ is in the 95th percentile, while Kerry’s is in the 91st percentile (circa 125 and 120 respectively). He bases his information partly on this.
(via Instapundit).

USS Virginia commissioned

The U.S. Navy commssioned a new attack submarine yesterday, the U.S.S. Virginia. It is the "the lead ship of its latest class of fast-attack submarines specifically designed for post-Cold War security threats. The $2.2 billion, nuclear-powered USS Virginia differs from other submarines because it can not only roam the deep blue ocean but also get close to shore in shallow water, which Navy officials say is important in fighting terrorism." Very cool. Read on.

Court decision on Ohio’s provisional ballots

Secretary of State Ken Blackwell’s provisional ballot rules are reinstated by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This means that those ballots that are cast outside the voters’ own precinct (anywhere in the county according to an earlier decision by a lower court) will not be counted. This lessens the chance for mischief in Ohio.

Reporting from Michigan

I’m posting this from a hotel lobby in East Lansing, Michigan, where I’m attending a conference. The blogosphere seems to be buzzing about this tantalizing tidbit from Power Line. Hindrocket has learned "that a major newspaper will break a front-page story Monday morning that could create a serious problem for the Kerry campaign. We don’t yet have any details, but it relates to a foreign policy issue, and it will call into question--amazingly enough--John Kerry’s truthfulness."

Columbus Dispatch endorses Bush

Columbus Dispatch has finally endorsed George W. Bush. Although the paper has not endorsed a Democrat since 1916, it was wavering, according to all reports.
The endorsement is tepid, but it is an endorsement, and should mean something to the Bush campaign in Ohio, given the importance of the state’s electoral votes. The lengthy endorsement is worth reading because while it outlines the conservative criticism of Bush (spends too much, etc), it also makes clear the reasons why he should be re-elected.

The latest French flap

notes (with glee) that there is a bit of a tet-a-tet in France about whether English ought to be the required second language in schools (follow his links). The French are so thin-skinned and chauvinistic about their language! It’s not that the teacher’s unions and other advocates of linguistic diversity are not interested in having the students learn other languages, it’s just that, well, maybe something other than English would be best. How about Arabic? asks one deputy from the ruling party. He predicts that although English might be the international language today, tomorrow it might be Japanese or Spanish. Yes, indeed, that might prove to be true. I would guess in favor of Japanese, myself.

But seriously. English is a big, fat, and fast moving language. It grows naturally, as it were, from the ground up. No need for an Academy to save the language; it couldn’t keep up. It grows daily, and it has always stolen from any language it has come into contact with (even from Hungarian, see "coach"; or from Hindi, "pundit," "nabob," "thug"; or from Tamil, "pariah"; or from Arabic, "assassin," "azimuth," "admiral."). I also mention, en passant, that it is the language of Shakespeare. And it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the best poets of other languages learn English just to be able to read the Bard in the original and translate it. The words it allows to be created and used (Shakespeare aside) are something to behold: snafu, punk, sexy to sex up, and boogie and hip-hop, to blues and buzz to beatnik and hippie. And this creative and imperialist nature of the tongue make other languages--French might be an example--seem Mickey Mouse in comparison. English has at least three times the vocabulary of French, and eight or nine times the vocabulary of German or Hungarian. Some might say that the language has too many words! I suppose we could do without doohickey, doodad, or thigamajig, but they sure are fun. Maybe the French ought to be questioned or interrogated, or maybe just asked (a good, old, short word), what the dickens they are up to.
I am not saying that English (and maybe American English in particular) is not capable of using weasel words, as Teddy Roosevelt called them, we just have more options or choices or alternatives or preferences. Pick is good. The French are such snobs, aren’t they? (From sine nobilitate, the phrase Oxford students who were not noble were to put after their names. It was quickly abbreviated to "s. nob.," and then snob became one who wants to seem as though he is of noble birth.) That’s enough. I’m gonna watch the Cardinals of St. Louis play the Red Sox of Boston and listen to the talk about the American sport. I’ll hope for a gopher ball and then a grand slam, or at least a couple of homers. A rhubarb would be fun. I’m betting that Manny Ramirez will be the money player tonight. Is either pitcher a southpaw? I hope no bean balls will be thrown. Did y’all get all that?

Hawaii poll

A poll in Hawaii
has Bush ahead, 43.3-42.6%, with 12% undecided (four percent margin of error). This can’t be good news for Kerry. Gore carried Hawaii, 55-37% in 2000.

Hitchens (slightly) for Bush

Christopher Hitchens has endorsed Bush, perhaps oddly, writing in The Nation. Typical Hitchens. Good read, and revealing. 

Time mag poll

Time mag poll came out yesterday, with much good news for Bush:

"President Bush has opened a 5 point lead against Senator John Kerry, according the latest Time poll. If the 2004 election for President were held today, 51% of likely voters surveyed would vote for President George W. Bush, 46% would vote for Senator John Kerry, and 2% would vote for Ralph Nader, according to the TIME poll conducted by telephone from Oct. 19 – 21. Among all registered voters surveyed, Bush leads Kerry 50% to 43%.

Last week’s Time poll found 48% of likely voters would vote for Bush, 47% would vote for Kerry, and 3% would vote for Nader. That poll was conducted Oct. 14-15 and included 865 likely voters." Also note this (a few paragraphs down): Bush’s approval ratings are up to 53%, and women are evenly split (46-46%), whereas two weeks ago Kerry had a lead among women, 50-42%. Keep your eye on the women vote; Kerry has to win them by 10 points, else he has no chance.

October 23, 1956, "man issues forth again"

On October 23, 1956, the revolution against Soviet Communism in Hungary began. It finally ended in 1989.

Here is a poem by Tibor Tollas, in Hungarian
on the revolution. This
site has a few paragraphs about the Hungarian language, with a translation (next to the Hungarian) of the above poem (a few clicks down). Tibor was a friend.

The Scots-Irish vote

James Webb claims that the some 30 million Scots-Irish are invisible to the cultural elites, but a candidate for president can’t get elected without them. "The president will not win re-election without carrying the votes of the Scots-Irish, along with those others who make up the "Jacksonian" political culture that has migrated toward the values of this ethnic group.

At the same time, few key Democrats seem even to know that the Scots-Irish exist, as this culture is so adamantly individualistic that it will never overtly form into one of the many interest groups that dominate Democratic Party politics. Indeed, it can be fairly said that Al Gore lost in 2000 because the Democrats ignored this reality and the Scots-Irish enclaves of West Virginia and Tennessee turned against him." Read it all. It may be imperfect, but it is interesting. Webb, a novelist (Fields of Fire, etc.), was Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy, and one of the most highly decorated Marines in the Viet Nam War. His new book, Born Fighting: How the Scots Irish Shaped America, is now available

Hareios Poter Kai he tou Philosophou Lithos

Harry Potter in Greek? Why not, it is already out in Latin. "Quidditch" is ikarosphairike, by the way. (Thanks to Ken Masugi)

Kerry and the goose

Here is Powerline’s
take on the weird Kerry-goose story. Where’s the goose?

Heinz-Kerry on Motherhood

Anyone who doubts that Theresa Heinz-Kerry’s comments about Laura Bush were an intentional assault on the value and intellegence of at-home mothers, should remember two things. 1. When the comments were made, she was under the (mistaken) assumption that Mrs. Bush did not work outside the home. Therefore her comment that Mrs. Bush had never had a "real job" in her adult life HAD to mean that Heinz-Kerry does not consider being a full-time mother a job. It cannot be interpreted any other way. 2. Her "apology" did not include an acknowledgement of motherhood as an occupation. Obviously, she could not have forgotten that Mrs. Bush is a mother. Further--since when is being a wife not considered real work?

The only conclusion to draw from that kind of thinking is either that Ms. Heinz-Kerry is so out of touch with the real work involved in motherhood and wifehood (servants and infinite money may do that to a person) that she does not realize that it is work, or she really does buy into the ideology of the extreme feminists in her party who consider the work of a homemaker beneath the dignity of women and women who perform it as parasites. In any event, my own grandmother (who tends, generally, to vote Democrat) was so incensed by these remarks that she is voting for Bush. She lives in Ohio, by the way. My sense of it is that this kind of talk will most offend women in the mid-west battleground states. Not good for Kerry.

Sacrificing Israel

Charles Krauthammer thinks that Kerry will sacrifice Israel in order to get "allies" for some of other policies, including. Of course, this is not spoken of in public. In the meantime, "The Jewish Press" endorses George Bush for president.

Hanson on Kerry’s Failure

Victor Davis Hanson offers a fine article today explaining Kerry’s electoral problem. VDH suggests that things should be going well for the challenger:

We hear of mayhem daily in Iraq; news on the economic front is mixed; and an entire host of surrogates has defamed George Bush in a manner not seen in decades during a political campaign. Why, then, does Kerry gain little traction, trail in most polls, and perhaps even start to slip further? After all, he is a hard campaigner, has a razor-sharp memory, speaks well, looks statesmanlike at times, raises lots of money, and has a mobilized base working hard for his election.

Hanson offers a number of reasons for this failure, but ultimately concludes (rightly, I think) that "it was a mistake to nominate him in the first place, and a further mistake to add Edwards to the ticket[.] A Gephardt/Lieberman combination, or something reflecting such middle-of-the-road practicality and seriousness — scolding the president from the responsible right on tactical lapses in postwar Iraq — would never have gotten though the extremist primary and embarrassing Deanomania, but it might well have won the general election." As for pith, however, his opening line says it all: "Putin wants Bush, while Arafat prefers Kerry — and that is all we need to know."

Electoral College votes

Here is RealClearPolitics
Electoral College map, based on recent polls. Note that they give Bush 227 electoral votes to Kerry’s 189. This
is the page contaning the details. By the way, the latest line of the MSM (mainstream media) reflects the panic in the Kerry campaign. Since they cannot deny that in the national polls Kerry is behind, and yet some ten of the battleground states are "too close to call," (RealClear calls them toss-ups) it is now possible--so say these wise ones--that Bush may win the popular vote while Kerry will win the electoral college. This will not happen.

A kook scenario?

This from a reader:

Except for one or two nights, I have been VERY optimistic about this election outcome. I think (and always have thought) Bush will get about 320 EVs, winning WI, NM, IA, possibly either MN or NJ. Right now we have a quesitonable poll out of Detroit giving him a 4-point lead in MI, too. PA is not out of reach.

However, what I find interesting is the near-unanimous view that Kerry was dead until the first debate ("Bush blew it"). Here is a kook scenario that may not be so kookie after all:

*Rove/Bush did not know "which" John Kerry would show up for debate #1. They still did not know what Iraq policy he would try to take. Therefore, I don’t think they prepared, somewhat deliberately. Why bother?

*But, there is, IMHO, a more important dynamic going on. (To "buy" this you have to remember Rush’s comment that Bush is not out just to win, but to destroy the Dem Party as we know it). Bush knew he was NEVER going to knock out Kerry in one debate, despite the hype. However, if he damaged him too badly in that debate, the DNC and 527s were all ready to start drawing money away from him and focusing on re-taking the senate. Given the short-sightedness of Republicans in NV, WA, IL, AR, AK, and CA in putting up weak candidates, they had a great chance. I believe Bush/Rove saw this as a real threat. How to keep Kerry "in the game" and keep the money at the "Kerry table?"

*The answer is, let him (and the media) think he won. Now, that’s damn risky, but W has always been a gambler. Running "against" pro-war Dem senators in 2002 was an incredible risk, and it paid off in every single case.

*Now all the national polls have Bush back up, and most of the state polls, including OH and FL, have Bush scratching back into a lead. (I think, based on Jay Cost’s analysis at "The Horserace," these polls seriously undercount GOP strength, esp. in the battleground states, too).

Finally, today we have Maureen Down saying that the Dems are depressed and Julianne Malveaux admitting blacks ain’t gonna come out for Francois. I have thought for two weeks that the election is over, and that the internals of both camps knew it. So what is Francois doing? He’s playing to the base, the base, the base. This late in the game, he’s trying to rally the base. Why? Because She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has given him the word that he must NOT have a 350 EV meltdown, lest it split the party, and She . . . needs a party upon which to run in 2008. I think the Dems KNOW they are in danger of a Whig-type collapse.

Who’s Going to Tell P-Diddy?

This past week the Channel One Network, which connects some 12,000 middle, junior, and high schools across the country, sponsored a mock election in which roughly a million teens were polled. The result was a convincing win for the president, who took 55 percent of the popular vote and 393 electoral votes. This comes despite the ongoing bombardment of Democratic propaganda coming from MTV, under the guise of its "Rock the Vote" campaign. Hmm, maybe things aren’t going to be so bad after all. (Hat tip to Instapundit.)

Kerry’s Desperate Push for Black Support

Yesterday, the Washington Times reported on Sen. Kerry’s renewed effort to drum up support among black voters. This follows on the heels of a recently released report (pdf file) by David A. Bositis of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which shows Kerry drawing only 69% of black voter support. The only thing more striking than this comparatively low figure is Bush’s 18% (no typo, folks), which is surprisingly high, given the anemic 8% of black votes he actually drew in 2000. Of blacks living in the South, where more than half of black Americans live, 14% gave Bush their support, compared with 72% for Kerry. 12% of this group is still undecided on the question.

What to make of this? Well, a few qualifiers are in order. (1) 11% of blacks expressed a preference for neither candidate (Nader polled 2%), which means many or most may still break for Kerry come November 2. I say “most” not only because history shows the challenger garnering the undecided vote by a 2:1 ratio over the incumbent, but also because the same survey in 2000 polled Gore at 74%, with 14% expressing no preference. Bush’s pre-election figure of 9% in 2000 remained steady at best, with a marginal decline to about 8% when blacks actually cast their ballots.

(2) The poll took place between Sept. 15 and Oct. 10, which covered all of the debates except for the last one. This long time span is puzzling and makes interpreting the results even more difficult than usual. Bush’s national poll numbers trended up from the convention in early September to a peak near month’s end. Any ground gained among blacks during that time may have dropped off during the debates, but this poll does not indicate if those supporting Kerry or Bush were interviewed late or early in the process.

Other noteworthy survey results: (1) Blacks gave their highest favorable rating to Hillary Clinton, 80%, compared with 15% unfavorable and only 5% expressing no preference. Cf. Bush, who drew 30% favorable rating (to 67% unfavorable), and Barack Obama, who also drew only 30% favorables from blacks but only 7% unfavorable. The vast majority of blacks surveyed (63%) either did not know Obama or did not know enough about him to express a preference. For what it’s worth, this survey also sampled the general population and showed a 53% favorable rating for both Bush and Hillary Clinton.

(2) When asked to identify themselves as Democrat, Republican, or Independent, fewer blacks said “Democrat” in 2004 (63%) than in 2000 (74%). Blacks identifying themselves as Republican increased from 4% in 2000 to 10% in 2004. My guess is that part of this is due to a “9/11 effect,” for the increase in GOP I.D. occurred markedly among those aged between 26 and 50 from 2000 to 2002, with it tapering off a bit from 2002 to 2004 in that age group, though rising significantly for those aged 51 and up.

(3) “How would you rate the job that President Bush is doing?” 22% of blacks said excellent or good, compared with 76% saying fair or poor. That 22%, while not a strong endorsement from black Americans, reflects a higher measure of support for the status quo from a portion of America usually depicted as almost uniformly against the president’s policies. While Bill Clinton is scheduled to stump for Kerry in Philadelphia next Monday, this is one extreme makeover that is not likely to take.

Prediction: Barring an eleventh hour smear of Bush, along the lines of the NAACP’s despicable ad trying to link Bush to the Jasper, Texas lynching, the president should improve from 8% to at least 12%-14% of the black vote. The decline in black registration as Democrats, the significant support for Bush among conservative blacks (who constituted more than a quarter of the 2004 sample), and the inability of Kerry to clinch the deal like previous Democratic presidential candidates (whose southern roots were a definite help), give me more hope this time around. Bush’s experience as commander-in-chief in a dangerous world, coupled with his strong, clear convictions about the war against terrorism and the road to an ownership society (during a pretty good economy), make him a more credible and tested candidate than Kerry.

True, 12%-14% is not exactly a black realignment, but it may reflect greater independence of thinking and action on the part of blacks. They have witnessed one term of a Bush Administration, working with a Republican Congress, and cannot mistake their improved status in America. If Bush is re-elected with a significant increase among black voters, it may signify the beginning of a break through a political logjam that could result in a serious realignment of black political loyalties in the not too distant future.

Kerry Won’t Repeat Gore’s Mistake

Via Drudge, John Kerry is apparently planning to declare victory early on Election Day, putting him in position, when the inevitable complications arise, of allowing him to defend what he has already claimed. This was Gore’s big mistake in 2000, it is argued--by conceding to Bush prematurely, he created "a sense of inevitability in voters’ minds about Bush’s presidency."

Consequently, I’ll be expecting to hear Kerry’s victory speech at about 6 pm EST.

Mason-Dixon poll of red states

The Mason-Dixon poll released late yesterday has some very good numbers favorable to Bush from six red (states Bush won in 2000) battleground states: CO, MO, NH, OH, WV, NV. Easy to read. Ohio is the tighest race, Bush leads by one point; he leads by ten in Nevada.

Ohio’s punch-card ballots

George Will is very clear on what voters’ responsibilities should be, regardless of those liberals who argue that they are "disanfranchised" when they make mistakes in voting. He points out that 72% of Ohio’s voters will use the punch-card system (only used 12% nation-wide) and we should be prepared for accusations of "racial disparities", among other things.  

Susan Rice

Stephen Hayes considers the views of Susan Rice (not Condi), especially on Iraq. She is likely to become Kerry National Security Advisor, should he win. 

The polls

Michael Barone, one of the most sober analysts in the country, considers what the polls tell us.
This might seem confusing because the media spins it, and because some of them seem contradictory. He clarifies. Read the whole thing, but note this: "Note that George W. Bush’s percentages range from 45 to 52 percent while John Kerry’s percentages range from 42 to 47 percent. In only one poll does Bush fall below 47 percent, which is Kerry’s highest percentage."   


Andy Bowers, writing for Slate, explains why Minnesota is up for grabs this year. Powerline
considers this a reasonably balanced look at presidential politics in the state, and says: "While Minnesota has historically been Democratic, there is little doubt that demographically, it is a red state. The only question is whether its transition to a Republican majority will be complete by November 2. For what it’s worth, those in charge of the Bush campaign in Minnesota say they are ’cautiously optimistic.’ The party’s polling shows the race even."

Arnold to Ohio

It looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger will come to Ohio the weekend before the vote. This can’t be to Bush’s disadvantage!

A note on political moderation

John Zvesper writes a very thoughtful article from Europe and considers the Europeans’ view that Bush thinks of the USA in messianic terms; that he sees America as the savior of the world. The Europeans think that what they call Bush’s Republican messianism is less acceptable than Woodrow Wilson’s more acceptable Democratic version. Let Zvesper thoughtfully walk you through all this. It’s a good trip. And he has some advice for Bush that will (or should) lead his critics to understand that Bush thinks that political moderation is a virtue, and the source of that moderation is the standard of natural human equality and not an unprincipled and unlimited "multilateralism." Here is the Bush speech of September 11, 2002 that Zvesper
refers to.   


Viewfromaheight notes two Colorado polls, one putting Coors over Salazar in the race for the U.S. Senate, 45-40, and the Gallup with Coors 49-48%, thus erasing a 9 point deficit two weeks ago. CORRECTION: Salazar is leading by one point, according to Gallup. Sorry.

Ohio polls

The Mystery Pollster claims that--appearances to the contrary notwithstanding--the Ohio polls are consistent if you consider, he argues, what he calls the incumbent rule: He claims that because Bush’s numbers (47 or 46% in five polls) are consistent, the variation is in the Kerry, Nader, or undecided numbers. In short, if these numbers for Bush true and if the incumbent rule is true, the mystery pollster claims that Bush is headed for defeat. Big ifs, of course. But this is pretty clear stuff, even if you don’t agree with it, it is still worth reading.

Ramesh Ponnuru speaking

Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor of National Review, is speaking today at the Ashbrook Center. He will explain what is at stake in the lection! I invite you to listen to it live by clicking on his name. It starts at 12:30 p.m.

Ohio’s votes and the courts

Ken Blackwell, Ohio’s Secretary of State wants those voters who use provisional ballots to sign an affidavit saying they understand that if they are voting in the wrong district their vote may not count. The Demos are up in arms! In the meantime Blackwell has appealed the case to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. I hope there are enough rational judges to see that the original ruling by District Judge Carr is outrageous and leans toward regime change. The Demos want nothing else but an institution of a sort of Rousseauian participatry democracy or general will! We’ll soon see if the rule of law still has meaning in Ohio.

The GOP and Ohio

I am blogging on Ohio for NRO’s Battlegrounders, along with a bunch of other good folks and I said yesterday that only two Republican candidates won Ohio without winning the presidency(1944 and 1960). I was corrected by a reader. He said this: "Actually it has happened 3 other times:
1856 - John Fremont won Ohio but lost to James Buchanan;
1884 - James Blaine won Ohio but lost to Grover Cleveland;
1892 - Benjamin Harrison won Ohio but lost to Grover Cleveland.

So in the 37 elections since the founding of the Republican Party, Republicans have lost 14 elections.

In those 14 lost elections, 5 times Republicans have carried Ohio but lost the Presidency -- or about 36% of the time.

Even if just restricting the count to elections since 1944 (a fairly arbitrary time period), Republicans lost 7 races, two of those while carrying Ohio -- or still almost 30% of the time.

So while it’s certainly not the norm for a Republican to win Ohio and lose the overall race, it certainly is not that unusual either." I thank the kind reader.

The campaign

Joseph Knippenberg fears that Kerry’s works do indeed reveal his faith, and that’s precisely what he fears. Kerry has thus far campaigned "as the candidate of unlimited, illimitable human power." Andrew Busch says that voters are weary of the charges and the countercharges in the campaign. They are ready for something more positive.
Bush should go positive at the end: "If Bush decides to go largely positive at the end, he should tell the story of his administration straight into the camera, and then explain clearly what he wants to do (including the "ownership society"). A heartfelt narrative would be better than a recitation of familiar campaign lines. It may even be time to revive the art of the election-eve 15 to 30 minute televised broadcast. All indications are that voters’ interest is high this year, as it was in 1992 when Ross Perot had surprising success with that format." Bill Safire also thinks that the purveyors of fear will lose.  

Arnold’s problem

Another note on Arnold Schwarzenegger: The California governor said on Monday that his speech backing President Bush at the Republican Convention in August resulted in a cold shoulder from his wife, Maria Shriver, a member of the famously Democratic Kennedy family.

"Well, there was no sex for 14 days," Schwarzenegger told former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta in an on-stage conversation in front of 1,000 people.

"Everything comes with side effects," he said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Edward Prescott on taxes and free trade

Arizona Republic runs a story on Edward Prescott, the Arizona State University professor who shared the 2004 Nobel Prize for economics. He disagrees with Kerry on taxes and outsourcing.
"When you cut tax rates, employment always goes up. The idea that you can increase taxes and stimulate the economy is pretty damn stupid."

Ohio polls

A FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll released this afternoon found Bush ahead 49-44%, while the ABC poll says that Kerry is leading, 50-47%. ABC also found that the proposed amendment to the Ohio state constitution banning gay marriage is leading, 48-45%. The Ohio poll (University of Cincinnati), also released today has Kerry ahead, 48-46%. Also, Voinovich lead Democrat Eric Fingerhut for the Senate, 62-35%.

Non-partisan and Liberal

NLT readers also may be interested to know that after weeks of indecision on the issue, Gov. Arnie has endorsed Proposition 71. Prop. 71 is the Embryonic Stem Cell initiative that devotes $3 billion of tax-payer money to research on stem cells collected from human embryos. Though I am not surprised by his lack of circumspection on the moral front, it is strange coming from a man who was supposed to be the savior of California’s fiscal woes. $3 billion!?!?

Schwarzenegger Goes Non-Partisan

Well, it didn’t take long for Gov. Schwarzenegger to make good on his non-partisan approach to partisan politics. In an article from the LA Times, he says he endorsed Prop. 62 because Californians "deserve to have an open primary so that they can vote for whomever they’d like, no matter what party a candidate represents." He added, "An open primary is an important reform that will lead to more mainstream legislators from each party coming to the Capitol to solve California’s problems." Big Arnold did not define what a mainstream legislator is, but one might infer that it has something to do with the degree to which one holds fast to the principles of one’s party. I’m open to a correction on this point.

The article concludes by reminding readers of the following:

Californians approved an initiative similar to Proposition 62 in March 1996 and used a primary election system that allowed voters to cast ballots regardless of party registration in 1998 and 2000.

The U.S. Supreme Court, acting on a lawsuit filed by party leaders, declared that system unconstitutional in 2000. The court ruled that only political party members had a right to pick their party’s candidates.

Supporters of Proposition 62 said they have addressed the court’s concerns and believe this version of a blanket primary would survive a court test.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll let the Times’ Michael Ramirez literally draw my conclusion.

Kerry’s heavy handed assaults

David Brooks thinks this: "Incredibly, Kerry is launching attacks that play up doubts voters have about him. Over the past few days, he has underscored the feeling that he will say or do anything to further his career." His attacks are costing him the campaign, Brooks argues.  


Rassmussen says that it is even in Minnesota, 47-47%.

New Jersey poll

Quinnipiac finds Kerry ahead in New Jersey, 49-45% among likely voters.

Kerry’s French

Was Kerry speaking French or Freedom? (via Instapundit.

Desperate Housewives?

Ken Masugi at The Remedy posts about crime fiction novelist, Andrew Klavan, who argues that stories told by American artists need to be more inclusive--i.e., include more characters with conservative values. In particular, he mentions that it would be nice to see a character who is a "self-fulilled housewife." Bravo! I could not agree more after having subjected myself for a second time (the first was only for 15 minutes--it was all I could take) to the new ABC melo-drama Desperate Housewives. I watched it the first time because I knew it was going to be a hit, suspected I knew why, and had a notion I might write something about it. But it was so god-awful pedestrian, over-wrought, and full of cliches (and yes, I get that it is supposed to be a parody) that I couldn’t take it.

I watched it again last night because I have heard about little else from my female friends and aquaintances for the last two weeks. I must admit to being somewhat mystified by their approval of the series since most of these women are, in fact, housewives and the show is very clearly meant to belittle that occupation (the characters are all neurotic in one way or another). But then, last night about 1/2 hour into it, it hit me. The Villain is a man--indeed a husband. This does not bode well for the health of our society or our marriages. As I realized this, I turned off the TV and looked at my husband and suggested we find something better to do.

Changes needed on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

Abigail Thernstrom gives yet another reason why Bush should be re-elected: To do something serious with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. At the moment it is the plaything of
Mary Frances Berry, and she plays hard and loose with both facts and rules. Bush will have a chance to appoint new members when he is re-elected.

The Demo spin

If you are interested in finding out how the Demos are spinning the bad poll numbers (aside from watching CNN and CBS) take a look at Ruy Teixeira and Ronald Brownstein. Also see Chris Suellentrop at Slate for a summary. I feel their pain.

Jimmy Carter, again

Jimmy Carter was interviewed by a Scottish newspaper. He is promoting his new novel on the Civil War (which, I regret, is not the first thing on my reading list). Of course, Carter, who just couldn’t help himself, says some outrageous things. This is very much worth reading, but you’ll probably get as angry as the guys at Powerline did!

Colorado poll

This Rocky Mountain News polls finds that Bush has increased his lead by 4 points compared to last month. Bush now leads by 5 points, 47-42%. The increase is due, they claim, to these three factors: "He narrowed Kerry’s advantage among independent voters from 30 points to 7.

And he padded his lead among Republicans by 4 points, while Kerry’s lead among Democrats stayed the same.

Perhaps most important, the president turned a 7-point deficit among women into a 2-point advantage." He continues to lead Kerry among men by 9 points.

Kerry the clueless

According to Martin Peretz, the editor of The New Republic, John Kerry’s opinions on the Mid-East and Israel are "muddled foolishness." He writes this good (and a bit longer than the norm) op-ed for the Los Angeles Times 

An additional note: Palestinian Authority foreign minister, Nabil Sha’ath , has endorsed Kerry, as has former Maylasian prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad.

Defending the Electoral College

David Davenport and Gordon Lloyd have written a few op-eds in defense of the Electoral College and federalism. This one is called, Who’s Afraid of the Electoral College? and this is Electortal Storm Warning, and this, Taking the Election to Court (Again).   

Short old words are best

This editorial from The Economist (Oct 9, 2004; not available on line) on writing, or talking, for that matter, is very good. I reprint the whole of it, and hope that some students are paying attention (I have been reading the freshmen’s papers on Xenophon’s Education of Cyrus!). It begins with a quote from Churchill that I use in every class.

It is entitled, "Out with the long."

"Short words are best," said Winston Churchill, "and old words when short are the best of all."

And, not for the first time, he was right: short words are best. Plain they may be, but that is their strength. They are clear, sharp and to the point. You can get your tongue round them. You can spell them. Eye, brain and mouth work as one to greet them as friends, not foes. For that is what they are. They do all that you want of them, and they do it well. On a good day, when all is right with the world, they are one more cause for cheer. On a bad day, when the head aches, you can get to grips with them, grasp their drift and take hold of what they mean. And thus they make you want to read on, not turn the page.

Yes, yes, you may say, that all sounds fine. But from time to time good prose needs a change of pace – a burst of speed, a touch of the brake, a slow swoop, a spring, a bound, a stop. Some might say a shaft of light and then a dim glow, some warp as well as weft, both fire and ice, a roll on the drum as much as a toot on the flute. Call it what you will. The point is that to get a range of step, stride and gait means you have to use some long words, some short, and some, well, just run of the mill, those whose place is in the mid range. What’s more, though you may find you can write with just short words for a while, in the end you don’t have to give in and reach for one of those terms which, like it or not, is made up of bits, more bits and yet more bits, and that adds up to a word which is long?

Then there is the ban on new words, or at least a puff for the old. Why? Time has moved on. The tongues of yore need help if they are to serve the way we live now. And, come to that, are you sure that the Greeks and Gauls and scribes of Rome were as great as they are cracked up to be? Singe my white head, they could make long words as well as any Hun or Yank or French, home de lettres who plies his trade these days.

Well, yes, some of those old folks words were on the long side, but long ones were by no means the rule. And though the tongue in which you read this stole words from here and there, and still does, at the start, if there was one, its words were short. Huh, you might say, those first “words” were no more than grunts. Yet soon they grew to be grunts with a gist, and time has shown that, add to the length of your words as you may, it is hard to beat a good grunt with a good gist.

That is why the short words, when old, are still the tops. Tough as boots or soft as silk, sharp as steel or blunt as toast, there are old, short words to fit each need. You want to make love, have a chat, ask the way, thank your stars, curse your luck or swear, scold and rail? Just pluck an old, short word at will. If you doubt that you will find the one you seek, look at what can be done with not much: “To be or not to be?” “And God said, Let there be light; and there was light,” “We are such stuff as dreams are mad on,” “The year’s at the spring/And day’s at the morn…/The lark’s on the wing;/The snail’s on the thorn.”

It can be done, you see. If you but try, you can write well, and say what you want to say, with short words. And you may not need a lot of them: some words add just length to your prose. That piece of string, the one whose length you all the time have to guess, is no less fine if it is short than if it is long; on its own, its length is not good, not bad, just the sum of its two halves. So it is with words. The worth of each lies in the ends to which it is put. Tie your string well, or ill, and its length counts for naught. Make your point well with short words, and you will have no use for long ones. Make it not so well, and you will be glad you kept them crisp. So, by God, will those who have read you.

Senate races

Washington Post runs an articles on the Daschle-Thune race in South Dakota (and notes the others; can be clicked on the box on the right). While the article is nothing remarkable, it worth a quick read. In Oklahoma and Colorado GOP senators have retired. In Alaska the GOP senator was apppointed (the governor’s daughter). There are five Demo seats up due to retirement (Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Lousiana). Go to Realclearpolitics for the poll n umbers in each state. Although most are said to be tossups, my guess is that the GOP will take Georgia, Lousiana, South Carolina; probably North Carolina, Florida, and Colorado as well (the latter three will be much closer). The fact that Bush is going to take all these states by handsome margins (save Florida which will be closer) will help the GOP candidates. Illinois will be a turnover, of course. Alaska can go either way. Also note that in most these races (including, most oddly, in South Dakota) the Demo candidates are trying not to identify themselves with Kerry. Bad sign for Kerry.

Fair game Mary Cheney

Bill Safire explains that Kerry used the fact of the Cheney daughter’s lesbianism was "part of a deliberate Kerry campaign strategy." The campaign thought it was a no-lose proposition. "One purpose was to drive a wedge between the Republican running mates. President Bush supports a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to a union of a man and a woman; Cheney has long been on record favoring state option, but always adds that the president sets administration policy. That rare divergence of views is hardly embarrassing.

The sleazier purpose of the Kerry-Edwards spotlight on Mary Cheney is to confuse and dismay Bush supporters who believe that same-sex marriage is wrong, to suggest that Bush is as ’soft on same-sex’ as Kerry is, and thereby to reduce a Bush core constituency’s eagerness to go to the polls."

Poll scepticism

Jim Geraghty is a bit sceptical about polls (as he should be) and lists a half-dozen 2002 Senate race polls to prove his point. Instructive. Powerline is sceptical about the Newsweek poll as well as the Gallup poll.

Bush is like the Islamic fundamentalist enemy?

The already famous New York Times Magazine by Ron Suskind on George W. Bush (not in his favor, of course) begins with these two paragraphs (I assume that quote is honest, and that is not to Bartlett’s advantage):

"Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush, told me recently that ’if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3.’ The nature of that conflict, as Bartlett sees it? Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.

’Just in the past few months,’ Bartlett said, ’I think a light has gone off for people who’ve spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he’s always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.’ Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush’s governance, went on to say: ’This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can’t be persuaded, that they’re extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he’s just like them. . . .’"

Iraqi killing fields

This BBC report on a mass grave in Iraq is very much worth reading even though it reports on something horrible. "The skeletons of unborn babies and toddlers clutching toys are being unearthed, the investigators said." And: "One trench contains only women and children while another contains only men.

The body of one woman was found still clutching a baby. The infant had been shot in the back of the head and the woman in the face." There is more.

Team America

Roger L. Simon loved Team America. I guess I had better go and see it! "The good news, however, is that the first major studio release about the War on Terror is actually in favor of the war. Even though Team America accidentally destroys the Louvre and the Sphinx, among numerous other monuments of civilization, and seems to revel in or be oblivious to collateral damage of all sorts, you know they are doing the right thing in the end. Terrorists are seen as objects of derision, of course. But the true targets of the filmmakers’ venom are the narcissistic Hollywood actors who pretend to oppose the war..."

Gallup shows Bush ahead by 8 points

The new Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll is out. Bush leads Kerry by 8 points, 52-44% among likely voters. Two weeks ago Gallup showed Bush ahead by 3 points among likely voters, 49-46%. Here are the details of the poll. I watched CNN at 6 pm tonight and note that they talked about as an even race! The talking head never mentioned the 8 point difference, but did show it on a graph (compared it to the 49-46 Bush lead among registered voters). No matter, four or five more days and they will not be able to spin numbers.

Things fall apart?

A reader brings to my attention this comment on polls by Steven Den Beste (with an interesting graph). Den Beste thinks this:
"In September, I think there was a deliberate attempt to depress Kerry’s numbers, so as to set up an ’October comeback’. Of course, the goal was to engineer a bandwagon. Public opinion isn’t usually as ephemeral as these polls suggest that it is. But there can be long-term trends, and I find it interesting that such a thing actually does show through. It’s quite striking how close some of the data falls to the long term trendlines which I’ve drawn in. The reason the Democrats and the MSM are getting frantic is that they’re losing." This is not an unreasonable or silly opinion. There is no question in my mind that the MSM is covering Kerry’s rear and they are incompletely reporting the facts of the campaign, or that they are intentionally misleading. I also understand that polls--in large measure--are political acts, yet it is very difficult to hide the movement toward one candidate or another, especially near the end (unless, of course, the election is as close as the 2000 election was).

The Belmont Club reflects on the Den Beste analysis and says this, in part: "Follow the link to his graph, which visually conveys more information than can be easily described. The most striking thing about the Kerry trend line is that it suggests a system that has been maxed out, like an engine which has reached the limit of its design. That suggests a far larger problem for Liberals then the mere weakness of a Kerry candidacy. To a substantial extent, Kerry is a proxy for an abstract candidate called ’Anybody But Bush’. The failure to get maximum acceleration when the Left needs it most could indicate that its traditional political instruments are losing traction. Celebrity endorsements, mainstream media support, favorable reviews from academia plus street events rooted in the old antiwar-civil rights movement -- the old winning combinations -- no longer have an overwhelming effect. That doesn’t mean they have no effect. We will know whether Steven den Beste’s long term trend lines are correct in a little over two weeks.

A big Kerry win will indicate will indicate that the Liberal position is after all, a stable one, and that the system is returning to its equilibrium state after an accidental derangement occasioned by September 11. George Bush will have been identified as an aberration; the United Nations and the transatlantic alliance will reassume their accustomed places. The old order will be restored. But a Kerry loss or even a narrow win will suggest that a permanent sea-change has taken place."

The shrinking battleground states

Ron Fournier of AP analyzes the battleground states. "Sixteen days before Election Day, the president needs to scrape together at least 48 of the remaining 99 votes from tossup states to win re-election. Kerry needs 53 to stop him.

The AP analyzed poll data, both public and private, and interviewed analysts in key states in the days since the final debate Wednesday. While public and private polls suggested Bush may be gaining ground on Kerry, the consensus was that the race was remarkably close going into the last two full weeks of campaigning.

A surge by either candidate - 3 or 4 percentage points in national polls - could shift the eight states and the 99 electoral votes to one candidate, putting him on course for a 300-plus electoral romp.

That would put other states on the bubble - Democratic-leaning Minnesota, Michigan, Maine and perhaps even New Jersey if Bush takes off; and GOP-leaning Colorado, West Virginia and Arizona if Kerry gains steam."

Kerry’s slide

A New Hamshire poll shows the race dead even. Chris Suellentrop for Slate asks: Is it time for Democrats to panic? "If you’re a John Kerry supporter, here’s some bad news to chew on: Despite winning all three debates according to opinion polls, Kerry hasn’t taken the horse-race lead in a single poll that’s been released since the third debate, and he seems to be trending the wrong way." And this: "if you’re searching for the Occam’s Razor explanation for Kerry’s small but noticeable slide in the polls since Wednesday, his comment about Mary Cheney is probably it."

Red Hot Hillary Peppers

The local media (here in LA) reports that Hillary Clinton made a campaign stop in California along with the band, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, to rally the younger vote for John Kerry. This is interesting on so many fronts.

1. The rally was actually called "Take Back the Senate" and it was aimed at getting the majority in the Senate back for the Dems--not a specific rally for Kerry as the media claimed.

2. If it were a rally for Kerry, why campaign in California where Bush has almost no chance of winning? Safe place for Hillary to claim she put in the effort under the radar screen--good place for her to build a base for the next go around. Also, is Boxer in trouble?

3. Why do they need to get in touch with the younger vote? Could it have something to do with recent polls that have shown Bush gaining ground in the 18-34 crowd?

In any event, the reports on the event were nauseating. This band was playing their wild music against a red, white and blue backdrop reading "Take Back the Senate" and then Hillary or Barbara Boxer or some other Democrat operative would come out in their oh-so-put-together pant suits and give some boring speech about how important voting is. You know 80% of the students there were there for the drugs or the music or some other unmentionable. But what a strange combination of elements it made! It looked like the nerd version of Woodstock!

Time & Newsweek polls

Time mag poll says the race is "deadlocked" with Bush leading Kerry, 48-46%, among likely voters. And Newsweek also calls the race a "dead heat" among registered voters, but has Bush leading Kerry among likely voters, 50-45%.

Kerry’s electoral college problem

Steve Hayward notes the Riley Poll found that Bush is leading among likely voters in Oregon 48-43% (a month ago in a Riley poll it was Bush 46-45%) and Oregon may well be shaky for Kerry. Gore won Oregon by only 3,000 votes in 2000. Steve may well be right and this leads to a small thought. Along with Oregon keep your eye on the following states won by Gore in 2000: Wisconsin (by circa 5,000 votes), Iowa (by 4,000 votes), and New Mexico (by 400 votes). The short of it is that should Kerry lose any one of these states, he can’t be elected because there is no serious movement in his direction in any state that Bush won in 2000! To repeat what you already know: Kerry has to take every state Gore took plus add one that Bush won. For a while the Kerry campaign thought they had a chance to take Missouri (no) or North Carolina (no) or maybe even Lousiana (no). Although they are pretending that they have a chance in Nevada and Colorado, I don’t see it. Now they are in the position of having to struggle just to keep what Gore had! This is what the elite media means when they say that the battleground states have shrunk to about eight or nine; Kerry’s opportunities are progressively more limited. Bush is ahead in most polls in Wisconsin, Iowa, and New Mexico (and now Oregon?). It is not yet a serious argument for Democrats (or NBC or CNN) to make that the race is so close in Colorado or Nevada or Ohio that Kerry has a serious chance. Bush leads in all three (although Zogby shows Kerry up by one point in Nevada, and there is a bit of variation of polls in Ohio). Please note the latest poll from New Jersey: the Fairleigh Dickinson University poll finds Kerry leading 44-42% among decided voters, but "when leaners are included in the race" it is 46-46%. This explains why Bush is heading to New Jersey (and why is he going to Michigan, I wonder?). How would I advise Kerry, given all this? Plant yourself in Ohio for the next two weeks, it’s your only shot (and yet it may not be enough even if you take Ohio). If Bush takes Wisconsin (10 electoral votes), Iowa (7), New Mexico (5), Oregon (7) and--maybe--even New Jersey (15) for a total of 44 electoral votes, it doesn’t matter if Kerry takes Ohio (or Bush could just replace the 20 electoral votes lost with Ohio with Wisonsin (10), Iowa (7), and New Mexico (5). There is too much territory for Kerry to cover and he will not be able to do it. It doesn’t matter how much CBS and the others try to cover this up. Take a look at the useful map with the latest state polls at
Tripias and all the useful information at Realclear politics.

Oliver Stone and Alexander

I have always wondered why Oliver Stone would make a movie about Alexander the Great. Maybe this is why: He is defending the bisexuality in “Alexander.” Stone:
“Alexander lived in a more honest time. We go into his bisexuality. It may offend some people, but sexuality in those days was a different thing. Pre-Christian morality. Young boys were with boys when they wanted to be.”

Ready for college English?

Eighty percent (that’s 80%) of high school juniors in California "are not ready for college English." "The scores reveal what I’ve been saying all along," said Jack O’Connell, state superintendent of public instruction. "We must make our high schools more rigorous if we want our students to be prepared."

Florida and Latinos

The Washington Post reports on a Florida poll it conducted (with Univision and the Tomas Rivera Institute). Note that while the article protrays a "deeply divided" and "deadlocked" state headed for another "photo finish," I am not persuaded that it is that simple. The poll says that it is 48-48 among likely voters. And then as you read on you discover that Bush’s job approval is at 51% (while Gov. Jeb Bush’s is 69%!), and terrorism and Iraq and the economy top the issues; "Bush is judged better able to handle terrorism and Iraq, but he and Kerry are statistically even on the issue of the economy. Asked which candidate they trust to handle the major issues facing the country over the next four years, Bush has a 49-to-47 percent edge among likely voters." And also note that Bush "holds a double-digit lead over Kerry on who is a stronger leader and trusted in a crisis, and has a smaller advantage on the question of who is more likeable." Then on to Latinos: Bush leads 61-32 and "Bush received 81 percent of the Cuban American vote, while Kerry captured 42 percent among Puerto Ricans, the second-largest Hispanic group in the state, and about 48 percent among Hispanics of all other nationalities." And yet, the impression the piece wants to leave is that Kerry is making inroads to Hispanic votes (rather than merely Cuban). Also note that WaPo claims that Cuban-Americans were underrepresented in the Survey "because the polling consortium missed predominantly Cuban neighborhoods when it selected its sample of precincts." Ooops, sorry about that! The article continues to give a false impression, yet, it eventually concedes that "The president has generally solid approval ratings among Florida Hispanics, with more than two in three saying they approve of the job he has done on terrorism. He receives just over 50 percent support for his handling of the economy, Iraq, immigration and relations with Cuba. In all cases, his ratings among Cuban Americans are significantly higher than among non-Cubans, although his ratings on terrorism top 60 percent with the latter group.

Bush holds a large advantage over Kerry among Cuban Americans and a smaller lead among non-Cuban Hispanics in Florida on who is trusted more to handle terrorism, Iraq, education, Cuban relations, immigration, abortion and same-sex marriage." And they are split even on the economy. By the way, in 2000, Bush won 32% of the Latino votes nation-wide, while Gore won 61%. Today, Kerry gets 54% of the Latino vote, while Bush 37%. I remind you that Karl Rove said a few years ago that if Bush could increase the nation-wide Latino vote by just 3% he couldn’t be beaten.
Rasmussen, by the way, has Bush up 49-46% in Florida and Mason-Dixon has Bush leading 48-44% (likely voters).

Calvin Coolidge

The good folks at The Corner have had a brief and useful conversation on Calvin Coolidge (scroll down a bit, the comments are scattered). Among the many useful things mentioned are the late Tom Silver’s wonderful little book, Coolidge and the Historians and Robert Sobel’s Coolidge: An American Enigma. You should also note Robert H. Ferrell’s The Presidency of Calvin Coolidge. That Coolidge is a much maligned and underestimated man you already know. He was the last president to write his own speeches, he translated Dante, he was a non-progressive thinker. See this great speech of his on the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Fourth of July. I can’t resist two paragraphs (but do read the whole thing, please). Note the truth, the cadence:

"About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

In the development of its institutions America can fairly claim that it has remained true to the principles which were declared 150 years ago. In all the essentials we have achieved an equality which was never possessed by any other people. Even in the less important matter of material possessions we have secured a wider and wider distribution of wealth. The rights of the individual are held sacred and protected by constitutional guaranties, which even the Government itself is bound not to violate. If there is any one thing among us that is established beyond question, it is self-government--the right of the people to rule. If there is any failure in respect to any of these principles, it is because there is a failure on the part of individuals to observe them. We hold that the duly authorized expression of the will of the people has a divine sanction. But even in that we come back to the theory of John Wise that ’Democracy is Christ’s government.’ The ultimate sanction of law rests on the righteous authority of the Almighty."    

Kristol on Kerry

Bill Kristol is very hard on Kerry for thinking that Cheney’s daughter is fair game in his unclever attempt not to talk about the gay marriage issue.

O’Reilly Factor

The latest scandal to come down the pike with the purpose to take down another so-called conservative icon (though I would strongly dispute that designation for Bill O’Reilly) illustrates again the childish intellectual tendency of the Left in America to think that pointing out individual acts of personal hypocrisy is enough discredit ideas. Why, if so-and-so can’t live up to his own notions of virtue then those notions of virtue must be unattainable! They must be wrong! Gotcha.

Yeah, that works in 6th grade debate class. But grown-ups have learned to think longer and harder than that. We have learned that truth does not depend any one person’s ability to live up to it.

That said, if O’Reilly is guilty of saying and doing the things he is accused of saying and doing I think every grown-up is also capable of judging for themselves exactly what he is all about. But it is preposterous to suggest that anyone exposed to such rude talk is entitled to collect $60 million. The solution to that is to expose him (pardon the pun) and go on your way. If you lose your job, so be it. I wouldn’t work for such a cad--let alone spend hours on the phone and out to dinner with him.

Overlooked Battleground?

No one is listing Oregon among the battleground states, but I’ve just seen a poll out of Oregon showing Bush with a 5 point lead (remember that Gore won Oregon very narrowly in 2000).

Moreover, Oregon has a defense of marriage initiative on the ballot, since this is another state where gay marriage has been attempted by political fiat. The gay rights organizations think Oregon is the one state they night defeat such an initiative, and is outspending the initiative proponents by a large margin. But the Riley poll I’ve seen shows the initiative ahead with 57% saying they will vote yes.

Ramirez Cartoon

Kerry as Neville Chamberlain

Victor Davis Hanson takes apart Kerry’s "nuisance" foreign policy. And William Tucker says that "Kerry is our Neville Chamberlain."   

Kerry and the Catholics

I forgot to mention last week that our parish "Respect Life" group had a drive for new and gently used baby goods for unborn babies at risk for abortion and their mothers. What was interesting about it is that the group is headed by a pretty vocal Democratic activist. When I approached the table to drop off our family’s contribution, I noticed a huge display on the election. There were transcripts of Kerry’s comments on abortion, including partial birth abortion, as well as President Bush’s comments. The implication was clear. There was no support for Kerry among even the Democratic Catholics involved. They were actively campaigning for Bush because they are actively campaigning for life. Republicans need to tend these young seedlings over the next few years--not just reap the benefits for this election.

This means explaining, in a much more convincing and clear way, the connection between a respect for life and other aspects of Republican social policy and fiscal policy. That means we have to explain the relationship between respecting life and respecting liberty as equally important and connected gifts from God. Bush calls it compassionate conservatism. Not bad, but not clear enough. We can do better.

Zogby-Reuters: Bush by 4

The latest Reuters/Zogby poll has Bush leading Kerry by a margin of 48-44. The poll was conducted over three days, and included one night of polling after the Wednesday debate. This is an increase over the previous Zogby poll, which gave Bush only a 1 point margin at 46-45.

Voter fraud

Robert Alt reviews John Fund’s Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy in the current paper version of National Review (you have to be a subscriber to read it on-line). Good review of a good book. Timely.  

Bush’s flaw

John Podhoretz argues that it is a good thing that Bush’s one flaw--his tendency toward complacency--showed itself in late September rather than late October, as happened in 2000. 

Edwards’ snake-oil

Charles Krauthammer, a medical doctor who lives in a wheelchair, writes passionately against John Edwards’ remark in Iowa on Monday. Edwards famously said: "If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again." Krauthammer is outraged! He thinks Edwards is a snake-oil salesman. Read it.   

All I need to know I learned in Kindergarten

File this under the category of "for what it’s worth": At my daughter’s kindergarten (where I am a teaching aide) the kids participated in the Weekly Reader version of the election today. Bush won by a margin of two to one. But this is not the best part . . . most of those voting for Kerry were boys. It was interesting because they came into the classroom with the very vocal intention of voting for Bush. So why did they switch to Kerry? When questioned about their reasons, these boys indicated that they were going to vote for Bush until they discovered that all the girls were voting for him. Then they figured they’d better switch! Gotta love ’em for that!

Debate transcript

Here is the WaPo transcript of the third debate.

Recap of the Debate

Five minutes before the debate was scheduled to begin, the power went out in my little burb. I felt like I was back in Baghdad. It flickered back on for a moment, only to crash for the majority of the debate. On the bright side, it did come back on in time for me to see the end of the Yankee and Red Sox game. So I have no particular insight on the debate, other than to direct you to National Review’s Expert Panel, which includes comments by our own Peter Schramm.  Schramm’s conclusion: "Combine that effervescent remark with his calm and serious explanation of his faith, and you have a decent and likeable man who people will like as president for another four years. There is no way Kerry can regroup from this." 

Why Boot is Supporting Bush

In the Los Angeles Times, columnist Max Boot explains that he hadn’t been terribly committed to Bush’s reelection campaign. He doesn’t agree with the president’s positions on gay marriage and stem-cell research, and he isn’t wild about the huge increase in discretionary spending that has occurred over the past four years. However, Matt Bai’s story in this past weekend’s New York Times Magazine has convinced him that a Kerry presidency would be a Very Bad Thing:

Kerry is offering Clinton redux. This focus on diplomacy and law enforcement, on treating Al Qaeda as if it were the Medellin drug cartel, may have been a plausible posture in the 1990s, when terrorism appeared to be a low-level nuisance. But 9/11 changed everything. Now we know that the jihadists would gladly incinerate one of our cities if they could get their hands on a nuclear bomb — and they won’t be deterred by the prospect of being arrested afterward.

Bush kicking donkey

Here is Joseph Knippenberg’s thoughtful take on the debate. A paragraph: "Remember, this is the debate that Kerry was supposed to win, hands down. His domestic positions were supposed to be more appealing than Bush’s, and the President was saddled with a recession and an agonizingly slow economic recovery. But Kerry’s relentless negativism grated after a while and managed also to distract us from what should have been his positive and hopeful message. Bush hit the nail on the head when he said, in effect, that a plan is not a litany of complaints. Although Kerry had his moments, he and his handlers have to be disappointed. He didn’t articulate a clear and coherent domestic program and didn’t even effectively make some of the more attractive promises he’d made in the past."

Powerline summarizes it all by saying that "Bush kicks donkey." I like it. Here is
Fred Barnes’ take on the matter. An interesting last paragraph: "Now here’s a strange twist on the debate. Bush was the winner in a focus group of uncommitted voters conducted by pollster Frank Luntz last night. The 23 voters thought Kerry, not Bush, won the debate. But they split 17 to 5 in favor of Bush on whom they now plan to vote for (one will vote Libertarian). ’They still don’t trust what John Kerry is saying,’ Luntz said, though they thought he said it well." Even Mickey Kaus thinks that the debate will help Bush. "It’s two hours after the event. I don’t remember many specifics. I do remember that Bush was personable, upbeat, human and articulate (he seemed to have gained about 20 IQ points since debate #1 while Kerry was near-funereal. He even looked like a mortician. Where’s the Man Tan when you need it?" Was it appropriate for Kerry to bring up Cheney’s daughter’s homosexuality? Mary Beth Cahill said (after the debate) that she was "fair game." Really, I groaned when I heard that. This will backfire on Kerry. Certainly, Lynn Cheney was not amused: "This is not a good man. Speaking as a mom, and a pretty indignant mom." She called his comment a "cheap and tawdry political trick."

W is for Women

If Bush was in trouble with women after the second debate (as Peter points out, via NRO and Rich Lowry, below) I think he made up for it tonight. He was at his best in discussing faith, family, and education without seeming "overbearing" or "judgmental". Above all, Bush’s wonderful and heartfelt response to the question of the "strong women" in his life was a homerun all around. It makes the famous "kiss" between Al and Tipper Gore at the 2000 Dem. convention look like child’s play. Everyone knows that the best foreplay for women is mental, not physical. Every woman watching that debate was thinking . . . "if only my husband would talk that way about me . . ." And Kerry’s lame, lame, lame--even damning--response to the question may be as bad for him with women as was Dukakis’s refusal in the 1988 debates, to defend the honor of his wife in the hypothetical event she was raped.

A quick take on the last debate

That Bush won this debate is beyond argument. He was aggressive, thoughtful, full of facts and talked about the future. Kerry was a bore. Every word he used he had used before. You did not see a mind working. Bush was especially good on taxes and education (and even had the chance to mention Kerry’s opposition to the Gulf War, finally!) and he was given a great opportunity for wit, and he took it, to his massive advantage. There is no way Kerry can re-group from this. This is what he is and it is now fully revealed. Bush will be re-elected.

Debate preview

Rich Lowry says this at The Corner:

Here is what one smart Republican insider thinks at the moment (quoting roughly): “It’s close. My sense was that we were up by 4 or 5. Now it’s down to a 0 to 1 or 2-point lead. If the election were held today Bush would still win, but it would be a long night. The first debate, people were willing to cut him a break. We’re seeing a cumulative effect of the two debates. The second debate, in particular, changed the dynamic among women. They thought he was too aggressive. The guys loved it, women were not quite as enthused. He didn’t do badly, but it moved. He lost ground among married women with kids and women over the age of 55. There has also been an erosion among independent males, but that may have more to do with the weak jobs number.

The bad news is that it moved, the good news is that Bush can get them back if he has a good performance tonight. Independent males will be paying particular attention to economic issues tonight. Marrieds with kids will be paying attention to education and domestic security. Women 55 and over will pay attention to health care, Social Security, and general economic issues. One thing I would look for is for Bush to be very strong on education. It’s an issue he knows well and is passionate about and I’m expecting it will be one of his real strengths in this debate. It was in 2000.

The next three to five days are a real inflection point that will set the equilibrium for the rest of the race. It will force one side or the other to try to change that equilibrium with paid advertising or through the media, and that’s going to be tough. Prior to the debates, the equilibrium was a 5-point Bush lead. Kerry had to change the equilibrium and he did. It’s just going to be a lot harder for one of the candidates to do that after tonight, through paid media. [Asked how Gore came back from a roughly 10-point deficit in October 2000.] If you look at it, among registered voters it was pretty much even in 2000. It shows how the registered voter number is the better one to look at. In 2000, it got toward the end, and African-American voters got fired up by their churches, and the union machines got engaged.”

Edward Prescott and taxes

Edward Prescott, who just won the Nobel Prize in Economics, had this to say about Bush’s tax cuts:
"’What Bush has done has been not very big, it’s pretty small,’ Prescott told CNBC financial news television.

’Tax rates were not cut enough,’ he said.

Lower tax rates provided an incentive to work, Prescott said."

P.J.’s advice for Bush

P.J. O’Rourke thinks Bush should say certain things in tonight’s debate. This is P.J.’s first suggestion, just to encourage you to read the other fifteen: "My opponent, Massachusetts senator John Kerry--or, as I like to think of him, Teddy Kennedy with a designated driver . . ."  


St. Louis Post-Dispatch says: "As of today, President George W. Bush’s campaign is no longer running TV ads in Missouri - reflecting the president’s confidence that he’ll carry the state on Nov. 2." The Kerry campaign ended its ads one week ago. Bush has had the lead in Missouri since early September, Rassmussen has Bush up 51-45.


This N.Y. Daily News calims that Bush may be giving up in Pennsylvania, he has no plans to visist a state that he has already visited 39 times. The Bush campaign is denying it. The L.A. Times runs a front-page story on the race in Pennsylvania. Nothing deep. Strategic Vision has Bush up by 2 points, and Qunnipiac has Kerry up by 2 points.

Bush and African-American churches

Joseph Knippenberg notes that the willingness of some black pastors to speak out in support of President Bush "may be an indicator of a modest movement away from the Democrats among African-American voters. A Pew poll conducted in late September found 12% support among African-Americans for Bush—not appreciably different from Bob Dole’s share of the vote in 1996—but a surprisingly low 73% level of support for John Kerry. John C. Green’s "American Religious Landscape" poll (completed in May, 2004) showed a six point decline in African-American Democratic identification from 1992 to 2004 (from 77% to 71%)." Here is John Green’s study Knippenberg refers to (PDF file, 57 pages). Knippenberg concludes:

"I’m hopeful for the future. Two years ago I argued that the faith-based initiative provoked so much Democratic opposition because it held out the promise of fundamentally changing the relationship between the needy and the state. Individuals embraced and assisted by a loving community would not long be clients of a welfare bureaucracy. Individual self-reliance—especially when embedded in a vital and vibrant community—is a good thing in itself. It’s bad only for those who want to rely on their clients for votes. And it may prove also to be good for the party that facilitated that independence. Not necessarily this year. But we can, I hope, be patient."  

Chechens and others

The Washington Times reports that the FBI is investigating the possibility that 25 Chechens entered the US via Mexico in July. James Q. Wilson reviews Richard Gid Powers’ book on the FBI for Commentary. Not only is this a very informative review on the "smoking guns" and the culture of the FBI that led them to be ignored, but he also reminds us, in recounting how badly the Zacarias Moussaoui case was handled, that Moussaoui was a member of a Chechen group with al Qaeda connections. Also note this piece from the Christian Science Monitor on Chechen-al Qaeda connections.

Last Thoughts on Derrida

I’ve had my nose down for weeks working on two books, two large lectures, and organizing a massive conference on climate change, so I have been neglecting my blogging duties here. The death of Derrida over the weekend has roused me from my single-minded focus. The New York Times headline was priceless: "Abstruse Thinker" it called Derrida.

But the real head-turner was the detail that has gone heretofore unmentioned: The announcement of Derrida’s death came from the office of French President Jacques Chirac. (Better known to our current president, rumor has it, as "Jackass Chirac.")

This raises some great possibilities from a potential Kerry presidency, since he so admires the French. In the spirit of Christopher Buckley, we may look forward to such White House announcements as:

"Kerry Expresses Concern for Stanley Fish Gall Bladder Surgery."

"Kerry Mourns Death of Noam Chomsky: Linguist Expires During Latest Rant."

"Kerry Alarmed at News of Cornel West Hemorrhoid Flare-Up."

"Kerry Joins Intervention to Get Michael Moore Committed to Weight Loss Treatment Program."

Other entries invited. . .

Fallujah turning against foreign fighters

This seems a promising report from the Washington Post: " Local insurgents in the city of Fallujah are turning against the foreign fighters who have been their allies in the rebellion that has held the U.S. military at bay in parts of Iraq’s Sunni Muslim heartland, according to Fallujah residents, insurgent leaders and Iraqi and U.S. officials.

Relations are deteriorating as local fighters negotiate to avoid a U.S.-led military offensive against Fallujah, while foreign fighters press to attack Americans and their Iraqi supporters. The disputes have spilled over into harsh words and sporadic violence, with Fallujans killing at least five foreign Arabs in recent weeks, according to witnesses."

Weird Madeleine

Madeleine Albright, Clinton’s Secreteray of State, in Maine: "’It´s a very simple issue. Bill Clinton lied, but nobody died,’ Albright said when asked, during a rally for Democratic candidate John Kerry, about her support for Clinton during his impeachment."
James Taranto asks: "No one died in Watergate either; does Albright think Richard Nixon should not have been forced to resign as president? And what does it say about the Democratic Party that its members are proud to declare their erstwhile leader a liar?"

Ugly Threats

You have probably heard that the Sinclair Broadcasting Group plans to air on its 62 stations a documentary on John Kerry’s antiwar activities, and their effect on American POWs in Vietnam. The left is, needless to say, up in arms about it, despite the fact that the Sundance Channel is airing an entire lineup of anti-Bush programming in the weeks leading up to the election.

What you may not have heard is the reaction of one Kerry campaign operative when asked by Fox News to comment on the impending broadcast: "They’d better hope we don’t win." The campaign has since claimed that no threat was intended. Uh-huh.

So, first there are attacks on Republican headquarters in various parts of the country. Now hints of retaliation by a Kerry administration against a media outlet. It really makes you wonder just what kind of people we’re dealing with here.

O’Rourke’s Debate Advice

In the Daily Standard, P.J. O’Rourke offers 16 pointsthat he would like to see Bush make in the next debate. Here are a few highlights:

(2) There are two organizations pushing for change in November--al Qaeda and the Democratic party. And they both have the same message: "We’re going to fix you, America." On the whole, the terrorists have a more straightforward plan for fixing things. They’re going to blow themselves up. Although, come to think of it, Howard Dean did that.

* * *

(8) No, it turns out Saddam Hussein didn’t have weapons of mass destruction. And how crazy does that make Saddam? All he had to do was tell Hans Blix, "Look anywhere you want. Look under the bed. Look beneath the couch. Look behind the toilet tank in the third presidential palace on the left, but keep your mitts off my copies of Maxim." * * *

(14) Let me tell you something, Senator Kerry. I don’t blame the U.N. for not supporting me in Iraq. The world is full of loathsome governments run by criminals, thugs, and beasts. When I mentioned "regime-change," hairy little ears pricked up all over the earth. Beads of sweat broke out on low, sloping brows. Blood-stained, grasping hands began to tremble. I had to put poor Colin Powell on the phone to various hyenas in high office and have him explain that America itself needed regime-change from 1992 to 2000. And we didn’t bomb the fellow responsible, and we only impeached him a little. Secretary Powell had to tell Kim Jung Il, Robert Mugabe, and Jacques Chirac to quit worrying and look at Bill Clinton and realize the fate that awaits them is a lucrative lecture tour, a best-selling book, and many willing, plump young women.

(15) Senator Kerry, you say you were in favor of threatening to use force on Saddam Hussein, but that actually using force was wrong. The technical term for this in political science is "bullshit."

Worth a few cups.   


Bush has apparently gained three points in the latest Zogby tracking poll, bringing him exactly even with Kerry. As earlier polls have suggested, newly registered voters lean toward Kerry by a 49-42 margin, while those who have voted at least once before prefer Bush, 48 to 44.

The Afghan election

Scott Norvell writes about the election in Afghansitan, you know, the one the media is not covering. Note this: "It was a regrettably typical comment from an American reporter in this part of the world. ’At least it’s news,’ he said of the Afghan election scuffle over the weekend. ’Otherwise, this is just a success story.’

God forbid it be a success story.

But that’s what it was here, no matter how hard the international media tried to spin it. There were no car bombs raining body parts all over the polling stations. There were no last-minute assassinations. There were no drive-by shootings. The best they could come up with for ’news’ was grumbling from hopelessly trailing opposition candidates about washable ink and threats of a boycott. The media’s disappointment was palpable." (Thanks to Instapundit).

The Kerry Tax Rate

Stephen Moore’s revelation that the Heinz-Kerrys paid a tax rate of only 12.8 % adds the charge of hypocrisy to his arrogance from the debate on Friday (i.e., his pointing out that his tax plan would only affect him, Bush and Gibson). The people who really will be hurt by a Kerry tax plan are not the incredibly rich, as he would have you believe, but regular people who are working their ***** off to be rich someday. Moreover, it hurts the working class people who hold jobs in the vast majority of small businesses that will be taxed at the higher rate Kerry proposes. But I guess these are facts that are just a "nuisance" to Kerry too.

The campaign and the Duelfer Report

Andrew Busch walks us through the Duelfer Report and how it is to Bush’s advantage. His concluding comment: "Finally, the report opens up to public view a line of attack against Kerry that has long been available to Bush but has not been emphasized. Saddam’s WMD program did not stop in 1991 as the result of some random decision when he closed his eyes and put his finger down on a calendar. It stopped because Operation Desert Storm stopped it. If U.S. intelligence overestimated Saddam’s WMD progress in 2003, it had vastly underestimated it before 1991. After the first Gulf War, it became clear to shocked analysts that Saddam was only months away from developing nuclear weapons. In January 1991, John Kerry voted against that war, the war that kept nuclear weapons out of Saddam’s hands at nearly the last possible moment. The Bush campaign could only gain by hitting this point hard for the next three weeks. It would remind people that Saddam had a record, that Kerry has a record, and that the liberation of Iraq was less the launching of a new war than the ending of an old one, twelve years late."

WaPo on Clarence Thomas

The Washington Post runs two articles on Clarence Thomas by Kevin Merida and Michael A. Fletcher. Here is the
First that appeared Sunday and this is the Second, which appeared today. Apparently, they have been reporting on Thomas for the last two years, and they will have a book out on Thomas next year (Doubleday). But, it turns out that they have a number of other articles on Thomas (seven, I think); see the box on the right on either of the two above. Although there is a lot of interesting stuff in these pieces, e.g., Thomas wields some political power, is friendly and well-liked, especially by his clerks, I am not sure what to make of it all. I’ll read it with more care the next few days. But do note that there are more than a few references to Thomas being at Ashland University (at the Ashbrook Center) in 1999. He is quoted from his AU appearance because the dinner speech he gave is on line ( here) and C-Span covered his conversation with the students before the dinner (not on-line). This article starts off with a reference to the talk at Ashland.

Turkey, polygamy, and the EU

The London Times says that a poll in Turkey shows that 63% of Turks say it is perfectly OK for one man to have more than one wife. A perfectly interesting article in other respects too, mentioning among other things the siege of Vienna in 1683 (hence the origin of the croissant, by the way), and the fact that in Turkis textbooks Attila the Hun is the first Turkish hero mentioned. The Turks are wanting in the EU, and the Europeans are confused. Surprise.

Electoral College numbers

This is CNN’s tally of the electoral votes: Bush 301, Kerry 237. (The numbers include solid leads as well as leaning toward.) Although CNN claims that the margin remains unchanged from last week, they maintain that Kerry’s threatening Bush’s lead in a number of battleground states. And this is RealClearPolitics’ version: Bush 264, Kerry 220. Real Clear has a useful chart. Pay special attention to Ohio, Iowa, and New Mexico (all are in the toss-up category according to Real Clear) during the next seven or eight days. Or, to put it more clearly, if Bush takes Ohio, Kerry can’t win. And, if Kerry takes Ohio, Bush can still win.

French Military on the March

Well, sort of. They’re taking part in a parade marking the Dia de la Hispanidad--a sort of Spanish version of Columbus Day. But, as John Miller points out in his NY Post article, the American Marines have been uninvited from participating in the event:

Three years ago, in a gesture of solidarity following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Spain asked the Marines to take part in this annual celebration. They were invited back in 2002 and 2003. It looked like a new tradition was in the making.

But Spain’s prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has put a stop to that. "What does not continue," explained Defense Minister Jose Bono, "is subordination and getting down on our knees on orders from a foreign government."

Miller notes that "the United States has not ordered Spain to do anything — and that includes sending troops to Iraq last year . . . ." If there was any question after the Spanish retreat precipitated by the Madrid bombings, I think we can now say with confidence that Spain has joined the pusillanimous chorus that is Old Europe.

Bob Dylan no longer "tangled up in blue"...

Ignatius Boone sent me this note on Bob Dylan. It is based on a book a review in the Los Angeles Times (not available on line). Enjoy it.

OK, you aging Baby-Boom Conservatives, and baby-boom
high-achiever babies. You’ve known since 1980 that one thing only was
needed for a re-alignment in American politics and culture to be
consummated: Conservatives and conservatism must come to be seen as
"cool." But despite Dinesh D’Souza, Bobos, Ann Coulter, and Ahnold,
"cool" was as elusive for conservatives as the dead on arrival (and
departure) meanings of Jacques Derrida--RIP.

Now comes Bob Dylan--of all people--to the rescue. I haven’t
read the first volume of his autobiographical "Chronicles," just out,
but a review by Timothy Ferris in today’s LA Times quotes some culture
shifting lines that almost make me want to revisit the Sixties. A few

Aside from reporting that he was a fan of Ricky Nelson, the
Kingston Trio, Moon River, and wrestler Gorgeous George, Dylan puts in a
plug for consumerism, prime time television, and money-making. But
that’s just on the surface. As Ferris writes, Dylan "once dreamed of
graduating from West Point and dying gloriously in battle, and that he
raised his children to respect ’America, the country of freedom and
independence.’" Then--straight to the heart of the re-alignment, with
the pith of an American poet: "His favorite politician was Barry
Goldwater, ’who reminded me of Tom Mix.’"

But not quite to the deep American heart. To get his legs as a
young singer-songwriter, Dylan "started hanging out in an upstairs
reading room of the New York Public Library, reading hundreds of daily
newspapers, circa 1855-1865, on microfilm. The Civil War, when ’America
was put on the cross, died, and was resurrected . . . would be the
all-encompassing template behind everything that I would write.’"

So this Goldwater-, cowboy-, Lincoln-loving patriot-bard, out to
make an honest or dishonest buck, like any decent American, is
"[u]nwillingly dubbed the spokesman for his generation," and no matter
where he tries to hide, finds himself deluged by ’"gangs of dropouts and
druggies . . . [m]oochers . . . [g]oons . . . rogue radicals . . .
scarecrows, [and] stragglers’" from "all fifty states," and does what?
The obvious, all-American thing: he arms himself to the teeth! "with a
brace of repeater pistols and a clip-fed Winchester." ’"I wanted to set
fire to those people.’" But, of course, he is confronted with the sad
dilemma of all the true-blue Second Amendment faithful: The local chief
of police tells him that if there’s any shooting, "’it would be me that
would be going to the lock-up.’"

All right, so a little Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill sneak into
his repertoire--what are you: Platonists!? And besides, showing like a
true poet that he sees what everyone sees, but sees it first and more
clearly, Dylan records that even back when Dan Rather was a pup, he knew
what to think of the MSM: "’The press?’ he writes. ’I figured you lie
to it.’"

Kerry’s foreign policy

Here is Matt Bai’s long article published in The New York Times Magazine on Kerry’s foreign policy. It is very much worth reading, for it reveals more than it hides. And this is the Belmont Club’s take on it. As usual, very thoughtful. I like these two paragraphs:

"Bai’s article reminds me of one of those products which are described on the packaging as being a new space age, high-technology, portable illumination aid which on closer inspection turns out to be a flashlight. When the newfangled description of terrorism as a ’blended threat’ is subtracted, the entire program consists of the policies of the late 1990s. Bilateral talks with North Korea. Oslo. G-8. The United Nations. Warrants of arrest. Extradition requests. Not a single new element in the entire package, except the fancy rationale. There is nothing wrong with that, any more than there is anything objectionable about a flashlight, but a more candid characterization of Kerry’s proposals is not a voyage into uncharted waters so much as return to the world of September 10; in Kerry’s words ’back to the place we were’. It has the virtue of producing known results, and suffers only from the defect that those results do not include being able to prevent massive attacks on the American mainland.

Kerry’s world, in a way, is where one goes if George Bush’s vision proves false: the frying pan, as a place of refuge if one lands in the fire. As a negative vision it will always hold some attractions; which will grow in proportion to failures in the Global War on Terror and fade in proportion to its successes. Roger Simon succinctly described Bai’s article as a plea to return to ’business as usual’, a call to the past from ’the ultimate conservative’. It is heartbreakingly pathetic in its own way."   

Poll Update: Zogby Says Kerry Up by 3

A new Zogby-Reuters Poll has Kerry leading Bush 47-44, up two points from the Sunday poll referenced by Schramm below.

Tracking polls

The Washington Post tracking poll has it Bush 51, Kerry 46. Rasmussen tracking has it Bush 50, Kerry 46. And Zogby has Kerry leading 46 to 45.

The Nuisance of Terrorism

James Lileks, in a typical installment of the "Bleat"--typical in the sense that it leaps about from topic to topic--offers a witty but dead-on assessment of Kerry’s stated desire to get back to the days when terrorism was merely "a nuisance":

A nuisance? I don’t want the definition of success of terrorism to be “it isn’t on the rise.” I want the definition of success to be “free democratic states in the Middle East and the cessation of support of those governments and fascist states we haven’t gotten around to kicking in the ass yet.” I want the definition of success to mean a free Lebanon and free Iran and a Saudi Arabia that realizes there’s no point in funding the fundies. An Egypt that stops pouring out the Jew-hatred as a form of political novacaine to keep the citizens from turning their ire on their own government. I want the definition of success to mean that Europe takes a stand against the Islamicist radicals in their midst before the Wahabbi poison is the only acceptable strain on the continent. Mosquito bites are a nuisance. Cable outages are a nuisance. Someone shooting up a school in Montana or California or Maine on behalf of the brave martyrs of Fallujah isn’t a nuisance. It’s war.

As Lileks reminds us, the days when terrorism was a nuisance were the days when we were losing.

Kerry Blows the Second Debate

So claims William Saletan of Slate in his recent article. His article is largely an attempt to do what many of us would like to do--offer what "better" answers to debate questions on behalf of our respective candidates. In his case, the candidate of choice is Mr. Kerry. It is nonetheless interesting to note his belief that Bush won the debate--a sentiment with which I agree. We will see if the over-the-weekend polls reflect this belief as well.

Kerry’s National Defense Record

Robert Caldwell writes a long article in today’s San Diego Union-Tribune laying out Senator Kerry’s less than impressive record on national security. He goes through vote after vote cast by Kerry against key weapons systems, and points to position papers that Kerry issued during Cold War opposing weapons systems. He then goes to the heart of Kerry’s defense of these votes:

Kerry cannot pretend that these votes were only procedural technicalities. He cannot argue that the weapons systems he opposed were merely superfluous or, after 1991, Cold War relics. In case after case, these are the weapons American forces are using today.

Worth a read.   

Derrida is dead

The Parisian Heidegerrian Jacques Derrida has died. I’m tempted to deconstruct this, but I’ll just leave it as a postcard since my intention wouldn’t control the reading of the text. It would be the metaphysical illusion. Deconstruction is justice, Derrida said. I say Derrida isn’t even a trace; and that’s the truth.

Saddam’s long perspective

Michael Barone thinks that Duelfer Report gives good reasons for invading Iraq and deposing Saddam, and that the press is ignoring that part of the Report.
And David Brooks agrees: "I have never in my life seen a government report so distorted by partisan passions. The fact that Saddam had no W.M.D. in 2001 has been amply reported, but it’s been isolated from the more important and complicated fact of Saddam’s nature and intent."  

Kerry and Potter Stewart

Ken Masugi has a good note on Kerry’s use of Justice Potter Stewart as an example of the kind of Justice he would like to appoint to the Supremes.

Australia and us

The Belmont Club nails down the meaning and the importance of the Australian election. It appears that John Howard has by 52-47% (with circa 75% of the votes tallied), and this means that his majority will have increased. The Belmont Club explains why this proves the "depleted nature of Leftist politics." It looks as though Labor has lost ground to the Greens and they are relying on personalities or messengers rather than a message. That is, look at today’s (and tomorrow’s) U.S. Demnocratic Party). And then this, with obvious relevance to us:

"The really horrifying thing about Howard’s victory for Labor is that it proves that packaging and spin are ultimately dead ends. It is a cul-de-sac lined with klieg lights and celebrity occasions, but there is no exit all the same because it is the platform of the Labor party that is rotten. The hodge-podge of wacky environmentalists, professional victims, special sexual pleaders etc. have laid a dead hand on attempts to regard any issue, like the War on Terror, with anything approaching common sense. How else to explain why Labor should offer a country of 20 million people, living in close proximity to Indonesia, the chance to downgrade their alliance with the United States.

"If the Left were thinking clearly, it would realize that the single most striking aspect of George W. Bush is how ordinary he is. There is nothing in his strategy to combat terrorism beyond a refined common sense. He represents a threat to Liberalism for precisely the reason that an everyman reacting to an extraordinary historical challenge imperils kings and hereditary elites: the prospect he may discove by success in action that royalty with its cant and obscurantism is no better than he."

"Let’s welcome back on to the world stage the man deemed intellectually inferior to all his Labor opponents; a person said to be singularly lacking in refinement and bereft of nuance. The man who for nearly ten years beat them all and has won another term. Australian Prime Minister John Howard."  

Howard Wins in Australia

This just in from CNN:

Australia has returned incumbent Prime Minister John Howard for a fourth consecutive term of government, probably with an increased majority in the Parliament.

As Australia was a partner in the Iraq War, this cannot help but augur well for Bush’s chances in November.

Who’s afraid of Kerry’s tax plan?

Did anyone else catch the arrogance in Kerry’s remark to the audience that the only people in that room who would be affected by his tax plan were himself, the President, and Charles Gibson? Does he have some magic powers that allow him to determine a person’s annual income just by looking him over? The nerve of him! Well, he does have an uncanny ability to zero in on rich women.

Bush did a good job explaining how rolling back the tax cuts would hurt the middle class--even if it only taxed people making over $200,000. But more can be said on that. Good opportunity for political hay over the next few days.

Bush wins this one

There is no question that Bush won this one. He was clear lucid, clearly thinking aloud, rather than repeating old lines, which is what Kerry did. Kerry was too forward, a bit too in-your-face mode, lecturing, if not hectoring Bush. It wasn’t to Kerry’s advantage. The format was perfect for Bush. I am also pleased that Bush called him a Liberal, rather than simply a fli-flopper. I loved his clarity regarding abortion and the (complex) stem cell issue. Kerry, on the other hand, twisted and turned. Advantage Bush, and it should be reflected in the polls next week.

Some Electoral College calculations

J. McIntyre at RealClearPolitics has a nice essay on the way he thinks the Electoral College sits today. Kerry has made up some ground, especially in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Iowa, he thinks. But, Kerry still has an uphill battle; let McIntyre explain it. Note that Kerry hasn’t moved up in Florida and that Bush seems to be ahead in Wisconsin. Is it possible that Kerry could win Ohio and still lose the election? Also note: "Pennsylvania and Florida are must wins for Kerry and Bush respectively, a Bush loss in Florida or a Kerry loss in Pennsylvania means the election is over." A good read.   

Ironies and immaturities

Now that Ms. Heinz-Kerry has revealed on the Dr. Phil show that the secret to marital happiness is for women to understand and appreciate that all men are really just little boys (about that, volumes might be said) perhaps the ironies and inconsistencies of the Kerry foreign policy might be better understood as immaturities. Prudence in politics requires a level of maturity that can accept and understand priorities and inconsistencies. It aims for both the good and the possible. In every respect, Kerry lacks it. His whining in the first debate about our continued work on bunker-busting nuclear technology while we condemn other nations for their nuclear programs is only one, very glaring, example of this immaturity.

Everyone should understand that John Kerry is like the very clever student who catches on to facts and information so quickly that he never has time to chew on it. You would not describe this student as insightful because his opinions consist entirely of weighing and measuring disconnected bits of information with no unifying theme. His speed at aquiring this information has earned him praise as a boy and breeded arrogance in the man. His ability to reason has never matured. He sees nothing higher than his own clever wit. He cannot think long and he cannot think deep. Combine this lack of mental exercise with the prevailing moral relativism and you begin to understand why the young Kerry who could not see that a loss in Vietnam was only one step toward winning the larger Cold War is the same Kerry who sees no connection between a global war on Islamo-fascist terrorism and our efforts in Iraq. The action in Iraq is mistakenly called a war--it is really a battle. Kerry will never understand that. He’s too enchanted by his ability to point out that there is no known connection between Iraq and 9/11. He’s not a September 10, 2001 American . . . he’s a December 6, 1941 American.

Duelfer Report

Here is the Comprehensive Report of the
Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence
Iraq’s WMD by Charles Duelfer. (It is about 1,000 pages long.) Claudia Rosett argues that "Duelfer may not have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but he sure found information enough to blow the lid off the simmering scandal of the United Nations Oil-for-Food program. As it turns out, Oil-for-Food pretty much was Saddam Hussein’s weapons program." Also see this short CNN
story on the corruption. And note Matthew Continetti’s attack on the New York Times’ spin. Also note that the Economist
sees the essence of the Duelfer Report.

Bremer’s response

L. Paul Bremer writes an op-ed for The New York Times. Note a few items: "The press has been curiously reluctant to report my constant public support for the president’s strategy in Iraq and his policies to fight terrorism. I have been involved in the war on terrorism for two decades, and in my view no world leader has better understood the stakes in this global war than President Bush." And the last two paragraphs:

"Mr. Kerry is free to quote my comments about Iraq. But for the sake of honesty he should also point out that I have repeatedly said, including in all my speeches in recent weeks, that President Bush made a correct and courageous decision to liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein’s brutality, and that the president is correct to see the war in Iraq as a central front in the war on terrorism.

"A year and a half ago, President Bush asked me to come to the Oval Office to discuss my going to Iraq to head the coalition authority. He asked me bluntly, "Why would you want to leave private life and take on such a difficult, dangerous and probably thankless job?" Without hesitation, I answered, "Because I believe in your vision for Iraq and would be honored to help you make it a reality." Today America and the coalition are making steady progress toward that vision."

By the way, Bremer will giving the first annual Michael G. Oxley lecture in Manfield on October 21. Tickets are available.

The Americanization of God

Christopher Levenick reviews three books on religion and America by George Marsden, Mark Knoll, and Richard Carwardine. Concluding paragraph: "Each of these books makes a major contribution to our understanding of America’s religious heritage, and each deserves the lavish praise it has received. Yet all three authors make an argument that perhaps says more about their modern-day sensibilities than it does about the objects of their study. They all take care to present Edwards and Lincoln as having eventually abandoned the idea that God had somehow set America apart from the rest of dreary human history. If ordinary Americans imagined themselves as a new Israel, the authors claim, better minds recognized the notion as sanctimonious vanity. Edwards, for example, speculated that only revivals in the New World could presage the millennium; Marsden finds the argument ’tortured’ and implies that Edwards later abandoned it. Similarly, because Lincoln once alluded to America as an "almost chosen people," Noll concludes that Lincoln doubted "whether America was the people of God." Carwardine likewise writes that Lincoln "distrusted" the "certainty of moral superiority" and "acute millennial consciousness" of Northern evangelicals. But there remains considerable evidence that both Edwards and Lincoln shared with their contemporaries the sense that America was called from above to great and noble things. In a day when American exceptionalism is roundly decried, it is apparently inconceivable to these authors that the keenest theological minds this land has yet produced may have shared with so many of their compatriots a deep and heartfelt faith in America."

Arkansas measure banning gay marriage

The Arkansas Supreme Court refused to strike from the November ballot a proposed amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage and civil unions.

A few polls

CNN reports on this CNN/Gallup
of three battleground states (all figures are likely voters): In Colorado, Bush and Kerry are even with 49% each; in New Mexico Bush leads 50-47%; and in Wisconsin Bush leads 49-46. Note this: "Although this is the first CNN poll conducted in Colorado and New Mexico, the national race has tightened considerably since Bush and Kerry faced off September 30." Just in case you weren’t aware of the impression they wanted to give you that the race is tightening or too close to call.

According to an AP/Ipsos
Kerry now leads Bush, 50-46% (3 point margin of error). Note some particulars: "On the question of who would protect the country, Bush led Kerry 51 percent to 45 percent among likely voters — down from the 20-point lead that Bush held in a Sept. 7-9 poll by AP-Ipsos." And this: "Virtually across the board, Bush’s approval ratings were as low as they have been since June. Kerry gained among women, opening a 12-point lead while slashing the president’s advantage with men." And this: "Slightly more voters consider Kerry honest, a reversal from last month. Far more voters consider Bush decisive (73 percent) than Kerry (43 percent), but the gap closed by 8 points." And this: "Bush and Kerry are considered equally likable, after Bush’s ratings went down and Kerry’s went up for an 11-point swing."

The Marist poll has it Bush-Kerry 49-46% among likely voters.

What the Iraq Survey Group Really Said

Glenn Reynolds has been perusing the report of the Iraq Survey Group, and wonders how any fair-minded individual can summarize it merely as "Iraq had no WMDs." In fact, he claims, the report serves to undermine Senator Kerry’s whole position on the war. Reynolds notes that Kerry has already admitted the France and Germany are unlikely to send troops to Iraq, no matter who is elected in November. The ISG tells us precisely why: the French were bribed into opposing Saddam’s removal in the first place. Reynolds writes:

It’s hard to pass the "Global Test" when the people grading it are being bribed to administer a failing grade. Perhaps Kerry should change his stance, and promise that a Kerry Administration would "outbid the bad guys." That approach is more likely to succeed than the one he’s been touting, which even he has admitted is doomed.

On GOP domestic policy

Related to the John Moser post below (and comments), George Will thinks that "If Sept. 11 had never happened -- if debate about domestic policy had not been drowned out by the roar of war -- the potential domestic ramifications of this election would give it unusual nation-shaping power. To understand why is to understand some of the Democratic rage about the specter of a second term for George W. Bush.

He has a multifaceted agenda for weakening crucial components of the Democratic Party, factions that depend on cosseting by the federal government. Consider trial lawyers and organized labor."

Pro-Cheney item

points us to this pro-Dick Cheney clothing item for women. I’m just reporting the facts.

The "values voter"

Jeffrey Bell & Frank Cannon write on the rise of the "values voter" for the Weekly Standard. They explain this: "If you had to pick a single reason why the Democratic party is weaker at all levels than at any time in the last 50 years, it is the transformation of moral-values issues into an overwhelming Republican asset." 

On the offense in Iraq

Mac Owens thinks that the final offensive against the bad guys in Iraq may well be going on.  

The Era of Small Government is Over

I watched some of last night’s debate, and agree that Cheney outperformed his opponent. But something kept bothering me about the whole event, and I suspect it’s a foreshadowing of the nausea I’m likely to experience if I watch the second Bush-Kerry tussle. Much of the debate--at least the part about domestic policy--seemed to go something like this:

Gwen Ifill: As you know, X is a matter of concern for many Americans. How do you intend to approach this matter?

Cheney: The president and I are very much concerned with X, and we’ve spent Y billion dollars in dealing with it.

Edwards: This administration has been woefully negligent in handling X. John Kerry and I have a plan to spend 2Y billion dollars on it.

Over at the Washington Post (hat tip to Real Clear Politics), Anne Applebaum reminds us that it was only ten years ago--although it seems much longer--Newt Gingrich led the GOP in capturing the House, promising to reduce the size and scope of government and to rein in the massive federal budget. And, of course, it’s been even less time since Bill Clinton announced that the "era of Big Government" was over. Sure, it was rhetoric, but even that seems to be more than what we’re getting in this election year.

Of course, this isn’t leading me to support Kerry. Given the choice between spending Y and 2Y on domestic projects, I’ll go with Y every time. And Kerry’s attacks on the administration for running up the national debt are laughable, given how much he’s proposing to spend, while at the same time offering further tax cuts to the middle class (I wouldn’t hold my breath for those, incidentally). But it does seem to me that the Republican vision articulated so well by Ronald Reagan--that of government as the problem, rather than the solution--is well and truly dead.

War in space?

Glenn Reynolds has a piece on space warfare. Interesting and informative stuff.

The Gravitas Gap

The polls are starting to trickle in, but I have yet to get a clear view as to how the moderates/independents viewed the debate last evening. The common line seems to be that Cheney won on substance, and that Edwards had the edge on style. I think that this may be wrong. This seems to have been a debate in which style and substance came together. Cheney was relentless in showing the errors of Edwards statements, and he did so with facts. Edwards would say that Cheney wasn’t being honest, but he would then go off on tangents or fail to provide the same kind of factual support. For example, after Cheney pointed out Edwards mistake regarding the $200 billion for the war, Edwards said that the $200 billion figure was right, but offered no support. Cheney by contrast had provided a detailed statement of how much was spent by who on what. Here is where style and substance merge: even if you didn’t know the issues or which candidate was right, the relentless marshaling of facts by Cheney--his style in presenting the substance--made it clear that Cheney was the man on stage and Edwards was the boy-debater. There was, quite simply, a gravitas gap--one which you would expect given that Cheney has a lifetime of public-service experience, compared to Edwards, who has been in public-service only slightly longer than the kid who asks "do you want fries with that" has had his job.

Bremer’s not enough troops remark

The Belmont Club’s take on the tiff over Bremer’s not enough troops remark.

More on the debate

Here is the piece I wrote a few hours after the debate, called "Freestyle Wrestling", for The Daily Standard. I actually enjoyed being there, but should have had dinner and a couple of beers before I went in. It turned into a long night. But, I must say, I was surprised by how unimpressive Edwards was. There is no doubt in my mind that Cheney took him to the cleaners. There were a lot of embarrased Democrats sitting around me during the last forty minutes or so. Here is Joseph Knippenberg’s take on the debate. Joe actually sent this in by about 1 a.m. Good man! He may not exactly think that Cheney is a "hottie" as Julie does, but he sure likes him. I agree. I think Bush ought to send him overseas whenever extreme difficult negotiations have to be done. I bet he wouldn’t lose any bouts!

Cheney a Hottie?

O.K., I thought it was just me and, as a girl who had posters of Lincoln and Churchill in her dorm room rather than the latest heart-throb, I tend to disregard my own opinions on these matters. But I’m telling you--Cheney struck an unexpected cord with women in this debate. Listening to female callers on talk radio in Los Angeles and talking with female friends (not just Republicans--but also not wild-eyed Kerry supporters), I keep hearing the same refrain--Dick Cheney was sexy in this debate. Security moms are not only impressed with his command of the issues, we were also strangely drawn to him as he talked . . . and it was more than just gravitas! He made John Edwards look like the Eddie Haskel that he is. Even though Cheney apparently DID meet Edwards before this debate (as per CNN) it is only more damning to Edwards that Cheney could not remember it. An undistinguished record indeed!

Vice-Presidential Debate

I am attending the Vice-Presidential debate in Cleveland tonight. I’ll post comments here and elsewhere on the web later in the night.

Baseball and strategy

Robert Kagan says something sensible about the New York Yankees (and is critical of the Washington Post’s pompous Tom Boswell) as well as our strategy in Iraq. An excellent piece.
Fine essay! Read it all.   

No Left Turns Mug Drawing Winners for September

Congratulations to this month’s winners of a No Left Turns mug! The winners are as follows:

Steve Armstrong

Daniel Weick

Kathy Olex

John Fentnor

Kathy Crothers

Thanks to all who entered. An email has been sent to the winners. If you are listed as a winner and did not receive an email, contact Ben Kunkel. If you didn’t win this month, enter October’s drawing.

Also, to Shawn Lee who won last month, your emails to Ben were getting through, but for some reason Ben’s replies were getting bounced back to him. If you send him your address, he can send you your mug.

Bush as hypocrite or fanatic?

Joseph Knippenberg defends President Bush against the charge of (religious) fanaticism by contending "that he is guilty of the lesser charge of American exceptionalism." He considers Bush’s language as reflecting the opportunity society (and not class warfare), and how Bush’s vision encompasses limited government and unlimited love, while Kerry’s default position is always another government program.

Bush’s religion and its connection to politics is Knippenberg’s topic, and he examines those (Kerry, et al) who charge him with either hypocrisy or fanaticism. This is a long op-ed and is very thoughtful. Note it.    

Some polls

Pew Research shows Bush leading Kerry 49-44% among likely voters, and 48-41% among registered voters. Only half of Democratic voters think that Kerry will win in November.
The CBS poll finds Kerry has made up five points among registered voters, and they are now even at 47-47%. As with all the polls, Bush’s favorables still look good, although Kerry has gained a few points in some categories: 52 percent of registered voters have confidence that Mr. Bush could protect the country from terrorism. Before the debate, only a quarter of registered voters had confidence that Kerry could; now, 39 percent do. And so on.

CIA appointee withdraws

Walter Pincus reports that "Michael V. Kostiw has withdrawn his name for consideration as CIA executive director, the third-ranking position at the agency, after public disclosure that he had resigned from the agency under pressure more than 20 years ago." Apparently, the guy lifted a slab of bacon in a supermarket in Langley worth about two bucks in 1981. There is probably more to this odd sounding story than meets the eye. Goss has appointed him his
senior advisor instead of third in charge.

Ohio poll

Columbus Dispatch conducts what seems to me to be a very serious poll (conducted "almost entirely" before the first debate; off only plus or minus 2%; you can see details by noting the box on the right). It finds that Bush leads in Ohio, 51-44%. And it’s the first time in the four Dispatch Polls during the campaign that Bush has won support from a majority of respondents.

France’s post WW II camps

The Guardian reports: "The government of Charles de Gaulle held hundreds of foreigners, including at least three Britons, in an internment camp near Toulouse for up to four years after the second world war, according to secret documents.

The papers, part of a cache of 12,000 photocopied illegally by an Austrian-born Jew, reveal the extent to which French officials collaborated with their fleeing Nazi occupiers even as their country was being liberated. They also show that, when the war was over, France went to extraordinary lengths to hide as much evidence of that collaboration as possible." (Thanks to Instapundit

An amusing take on the first debate

I just noticed this tongue-in-cheek characterization of the first debate from John Kinker. Very amusing, a brief sample:

"Lehrer: Senator, the first question goes to you. Should you be president?

Kerry: Yes, of course I should. But first I want to thank you, the President, this university, the state of Florida, and everyone who had anything to do with this debate. Now let me say, I should be president because I’m tough. And I’m tough because I served in Vietnam. I love America. I will defend America from the terrorists with my secret plan. In fact, four—count ‘em, four!—military men support me for president. I’ll even name them. It won’t take long.

Bush: I thank everyone too and my prayers go with the people of Florida. September 11 changed everything. Freedom is good. Need to fight hatred. Making progress. Hard work. Negativism sends wrong message to our troops, our allies, and the Iraqi people.

Senate Races

Donald Lambro rolls through the Senate races, and finds that the Demos have a chance to retake the Senate, but only if they sweep. He thinks Wisconsin might be a surprise. Also note that Rassmussen
shows Thune leading Daschle in South Dakota, 50-46%. Also see Realclearpolitics
for the latest polls on the Senate races.

Eliot Cohen on the first debate

Eliot A. Cohen is thoughtfully critical of both Bush and Kerry.  

WaPo poll

The Washington Post finds that among likely voters Bush lead Kerry 51-46%. "But the president held only a 3-point advantage among all registered voters, down from 7 points in a Post-ABC News survey conducted before last week’s presidential debate." Also this: "The proportion of likely voters with a favorable view of Kerry grew from 39 percent immediately before the date to 47 percent in the latest poll. At the same time, the proportion of voters with an unfavorable of him dropped by 3 points to 42 percent. However, Bush still remains slightly more popular, with 53 percent of all likely voters saying they had a favorable impression of him."

And also note from the WaPo that Kerry is redeploying staff from Virginia, effectively ceding the state to Bush, to either Minnesota or Wisconsin, depending on need.
Not a good sign.

The first debate

I have been like a Malay running amok (and in Philadelphia on Friday night through Sunday morning; it took me eight hours to fly back to Cleveland, by the way, two cancelled flights, had to go through Detroit, a real mess!), but I am back. This is a copy of a letter a friend sent (there is an indirect reference to his age by the way) to some of his family about the first debate. He sent it one day after the debate. I think it is good enough to quote in full:

Today we are being asked who won the debate last night.

Many, perhaps a majority of, listeners think Kerry won. (Recalling
my own High School debating experience 80 years ago, I might agree.)

The more important question is whether the American people want a
debater as Chief Executive.

There are fundamental differences between executives who make
decisions and take actions and those who are more comfortable
considering the issues and debating the ever-present alternatives. We
have many bright and capable Senators and Representatives and their
words are often persuasive. (Although sometimes I wonder whether they
are all on the same subject.) But we have only one President. The
Founders wisely separated those functions. The jobs are not

Many years ago, our Company assigned the development of a new product
to our Engineering Department. Months later the project was still being
engineered. The engineering department believed their duty was to
design a product that was as nearly perfect as possible. The had no
criteria to use to stop engineering and declare their job finished.

But while engineering was trying to achieve perfection, the sales and
manufacturing groups were without work.

The Chief Executive took the project out of Engineering and turned it
over to Manufacturing where producing the product quickly uncovered
design problems that were corrected immediately.

I never forgot that lesson. (Strange that I should remember it now.)

If you listened carefully to Kerry, you heard him say basically that
invading Iraq was a colossal mistake because 1) we rushed to war alone
instead of waiting for the UN and the inspectors, and 2) Saddam was not
a threat because he was not connected to 9/11, and therefore Iraq was a
diversion from our fight against terrorism. Everything else Kerry said
about Iraq was hung on those two old, previously debated ideas. Further
debate now is academic. We did invade Iraq. The issue now is how
quickly and effectively we adapt to change sin the plan made necessary
by actions of our opponents. Of course it is impossible to know what
might have happened if we had not gone ahead so Kerry is safe in arguing
against the action we took. I do think that his continuing "wrong war"
talk encourages the terrorists to try harder to displace Mr. Bush.

Nine-Eleven was the signal to pull Saddam and Iraq out of the
Engineering Department.

Should we tolerate radical Islam?

Since he is too much of a gentleman to promote his own writing, I have to let you all know that my colleague David Foster has written an excellent piece for another web site on whether those who support a free society should feel obligated to tolerate radical Islam. Anyone who loves political thought and is concerned about how to deal with Islamists in the West should read this piece. Be prepared, it’s serious.

Kerry, no home run

Joseph Knippenberg writes thoughtfully and elegantly about last night’s debate and declares that Bush won it because Kerry "offered us no compelling reason why the incumbent should be given the boot." Read the whole thing.   

Some reactions - Dick Morris

Here is a reaction to last night’s debate from Dick Morris. I think he’s largely right and offers similar thoughts as some of those commenting on previous postings here: Bush had a more coherent view of the Iraq war and did retort well on some issues (e.g., global "test"), but he also seemed - in a few places - a little too defensive in responding (e.g., the situation in Iraq is not a "catatrophic failure") and missed a few big opportunities (e.g., bunker-busting nukes). He almost seemed too tired or annoyed to really turn the tables on Kerry. As Morris concludes, if Bush had been a little quicker on his feet, this election would be over. I look for Bush to be stronger than people expect on domestic issues.

Feedback on the Debate

A Gallup Poll suggests that, by a wide margin, those watching last night’s debate believe that Kerry won (53%, as opposed to 37% who thought Bush performed better). But it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference in terms of overall voter preference. Slightly more believe that Kerry would do a better job than the president in handling Iraq (43%, as opposed to 40% before the debate). A solid majority, though, still think Bush would do better in this regard--54%, unchanged since before the debate. The percentage of folks who think Kerry would make a better commander-in-chief is also up, from 42% to 44%, and Bush’s numbers dropped very slightly, from 55% to 54%.

In short, if these numbers are any indication, the debate doesn’t really mean a thing. Which is why I made a point of not watching it.