January 20, 2005

Bush's National Guard Service: Info from the Thornburgh Report

I learned a couple of positive things about George Bush from the the Thornburgh Report that I hadn't known before:

(1) Page 130 says that Bush volunteered to go to Vietnam, when his National Guard unit was asked. He was turned down, as being insufficiently experienced. Thus, his attitude was similar to Kerry's. They both signed up for a "safe" service-- the National Guard and the Navy-- and then later volunteered for slightly less safe Vietnam duty. The difference is that Kerry was accepted for it, and served a few months in Vietnam, before getting out as quickly as he could.

Why did Bush's volunteering not come up during the campaign? I suppose because Bush wanted to keep the topic off of his National Guard service generally.

(2) Page 131 says that Mary Mapes sent an internal CBS email saying that Bush's National Guard unit had no waiting list, and did have vacancies. There were indeed vacancies for pilots in the National Guard-- though there was a waiting list for certain other kinds of positions.

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November 27, 2004

Sailer on the IQ's of Bush and Kerry Voters, Different States

Steve Sailer's "The 2004 IQ Wars: So Much For The Candidates--What About The Voters?" is good. Exit polls are the standard way to check on the income and education of voters for particular candidates. As Sailer says, we have good reason now to mistrust the quality of the polls, but here is what they say:

Income. Not surprisingly, given Bush’s tax-cut agenda, voters with incomes over $100,000 went for Bush over Kerry 58-41 .

Education. In 2000, the self-reported educational level of the average Bush and Gore voters was virtually identical. In the 2002 House races, Republican voters did quite a bit better with the well-educated, winning 58-40 among college graduates and even winning a majority among those who had undertaken some graduate study. (The latter's ranks are inflated by Democratic-voting public school teachers who have done post-grad work in the easy field of Education.) v But in 2004, as you may have noticed, Bush ran a pretty dumbscale campaign. The Democrats normally win by a landslide among high school dropouts. This time, however, Bush wrestled Kerry to a draw among that segment. Bush ended up with an average voter with only a month and a half less schooling overall than Kerry's typical supporter.

Sailer quotes Professor Lindgren on the interesting fact that General Social Survey data (the standard sociology dataset) shows that conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats are both above average in education and do better on short word tests compared to moderates.

I was struck by Sailer's observation that "people with some graduate work" really means "public schoolteachers". He's quite right. Their Master's and Doctoral degrees, despite meaning very little, are extremely numerous, swamping real advanced degrees. So it is not the liberal professors who are driving the liberalism of people who have done graduate work. In fact, the professors are probably swamped even by the MBA's and MD's.

Much of his article debunks the comparison of Bush states with Kerry states, making obvious points such as that in the South, Bush voters almost certainly have higher IQ's than Kerry voters. But he also raises a problem with the plausibility of the data we are told about.

Everyone familiar with IQ testing scoffed at the validity of the hoax data that claiming the average IQ in Connecticut was 113 and in Utah was 87. To see why, it's important to understand how IQ tests are scored.

The mean is typically set at 100 and the standard deviation is 15. This implies that Utah's average person would fall 26/15ths (or 1.73) standard deviations lower than the average person in Connecticut.

Using the Normdist function in Microsoft Excel, you can easily put this on a percentile basis. This hoax data therefore implies that a Utah resident of average intelligence (50th percentile) would be only at the 4th percentile in Connecticut. The average person in Connecticut (50th percentile) would suddenly be at the 96th percentile if he moved to Utah.

When phrased like that, the numbers appear obviously wrong.

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November 05, 2004

County Level Election Maps 2000 and 2004, Vanderbei Purple America Maps

Robert J. Vanderbei of Princeton has
county-level election maps, blending red
(Republican) and blue (Democrat). Of course the colors
should be the opposite, especially for 2000, when Yale Blue
Bush ran against Harvard Crimson Gore. The first maps are
for 2004. The second one has bumps for where the population
is greatest. The third one has just Red and Blue depending
on who got a majority in the

The second set of maps are for 2000-- one of
Prof. Vanderbei's "Purple America" maps, and one that uses
just Red and Blue depending on who got a majority in the

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November 03, 2004

Post-Election Thoughts

1. Bush has an actual majority of the popular vote, the first time this has happened since 1988.

2. My last-day electoral forecast is looking good. So far I've no states wrong, and it looks like I was right to call New Mexico for Bush.

3. As usual, almost all the incumbents were re-elected. Maybe we shouldn't be surprised. After all, we'd naturally find a close fit between a representative and his district-- that's why he was elected in the first place, and that's why he votes the way he does.

4. There was massive opposition to same-sex marriage in the ballot propositions. See Clayton Cramer on this.

5. Why don't we stamp people's hands with invisible, indelible ink, as in third-world countries? Maybe the cost isn't worth it. Or maybe live double-voting is not a problem. Absentee ballots are no doubt where the biggest fraud is.

6. I'm surprised that it was so close. Not only is Kerry the most leftwing Senator, with few accomplishments and a lot of votes he'd rather not have anybody remember, and not only is the economy in good shape, but there were at least four scandals in his campaign this summer:

(a) Advisor Joe Wilson turned out to be lying about his mission to Niger.

(b) Advisor Sandy Berger was caught stealing secret government documents.

(c) Kerry himself was caught having very dubious grounds for the war medals he boasted so much about.

(d) The Kerry campaign and CBS was caught using obviously forged documents to try to discredit Bush's war record.

Add to this Kerry's refusal to release his war records (except selectively) and his wife's tax returns (except the first two pages).

And what scandals came out about the Bush campaign? Nothing, despite intense attempts to find something damaging about his National Guard record or Swiftvets connections or Halliburton. There was constant abuse and insinuation, but nothing ever panned out.

I think this shows the power of the mainstream media. They are growing ever more aggressive in their bias. Also, it may be that all the money flowing into the get-out-the-vote effort has paid off, and that the new voters don't really know anything about the candidates except that their recruiter has endorsed one of them.

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November 01, 2004

Electoral College Prediction

I am usually too optimistic in elections. My September prediction was Bush 328, Kerry 210, based on polling history and voter misperception of Kerry's leftism. Below is an excellent analysis of the state-by-state vote by Joshua Davidson. I agree with him, except that I'd give Bush New Mexico-- the polls are in his favor there, after all, and Bush's hawkishness plays well with Western voters. That would make the vote Bush 279, Kerry 259, as in the map above. Here is the Davidson analysis (I've added some boldface):

Every four years I write my prediction for the presidential election. Usually I do so much sooner in the campaign but this year has been unbelievably close with polls conducted on the same day showing vastly different results.

Here is my track record: In 1992 I predicted Clinton over Bush 331-207; he won 370-168. In 1996, I predicted Clinton over Dole 312-226; he won 379-159. In 2000, I predicted Bush over Gore 290-248; he won 271-266. You will thus notice an overestimation of the Republican's chances. I don't claim not to be biased but that bodes ill for Bush.

A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win.

Let's look at the states that are solidly for Bush: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina (Edwards no help here), North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming. That's 191.

Kerry's solid states are: California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. That's 160.

States that I think are likely to go to Bush are: Arkansas (Bush leads in almost all polls, he won in 2000), Colorado (he leads in all polls, has gone Democrat only once since 1980 (1992) - and it doesn't seem the proposal to split the electoral votes is likely to pass), Missouri (he leads in all polls, he won in 2000, culturally conservative state), Nevada, and West Virginia. That's 36, which gives Bush 227.

States that I think are likely to go to Kerry are: Hawaii (usually an extremely Democrat state, Bush is doing unusually well at the polls, perhaps because Hawaii has a popular Republican (Jewish female) governor), Maine (without splitting the electoral vote, which can happen in Maine), Michigan (Kerry is ahead in most polls, union state with Democrat governor, hasn't voted Republican since 1988 - but could be close), New Jersey (you hear some talk how it is tighter than expected but I think Kerry will win big here), Oregon (Bush had high hopes here but isn't close), Pennsylvania (Kerry wins pretty much every poll, went for Gore in 2000). That's 68, which gives Kerry 228.

Now for the really close states:

New Mexico: The most Hispanic state in the nation, Clinton won it twice, Gore won by less than a thousand, but Bush ahead in most polls. But I am giving it to Kerry. Kerry now at 233.

Minnesota: Supposed to be real close, but hasn't voted Republican for President since Nixon (of course, Mondale was on the ballot twice). I think Minnesota will trend Republican (and it elected Norm Coleman over Mondale two years ago), but this year will more likely than not stay Democrat. Kerry now at 243.

Iowa: Kerry has done slightly better in the polls and Iowa is one of the most dovish states. It went for Dukakis in 1988 (Dukakis only won 10) and it went for Clinton over Dole in 1996, although you might have thought Mr. Ethanol could have taken that state). Therefore, I put Iowa in Kerry's camp. Kerry now at 250.

Florida: It will be close, but I think Bush will take the state. He has done slightly better in the polls; Jeb is popular and won handily 2 years ago, even though a lot of people thought the Republicans would pay for the 2000 fiasco. W got a lot of credit for timely assistance after the hurricanes. I think the Jews will be a little less supportive of the Democrat ticket this time (no Lieberman, Bush clearly the more pro-Israel candidate). The new generation of Cubans is less anti-communist and therefore more likely to support Democrats, but the Republican candidate for senator, Mel Martinez is Cuban, which might help Bush keep those younger Cubans. Bush now at 254.

New Hampshire: Bush did win this in 2000, but this state is in Kerry's backyard and Kerry leads in a majority of the polls. Therefore, I give it to Kerry. Kerry now at 254.

Wisconsin: Kerry is 8 points ahead in the latest Zogby poll although Bush was ahead in most polls a week ago. Wisconsin has seen movement toward the Republicans but I am not sure enough to give this state to Bush. Therefore I give it to Kerry. He is now at 264.

Ohio: Obviously, under my analysis, it is now down to Ohio which is really too close to call. The Realclearpolitics.com poll consensus is a dead tie. However, Bush has done better in the most recent polls (probably outdated by the time you read this). Bush won in 2000, not by much. The state has two Republican senators and a Republican governor and in recent years has only voted for Democrats when they are from the South (Carter, Clinton). When I am feeling optimistic, I give the state and thus the election to Bush; when I am feeling pessimistic, I give the state and thus the election to Kerry. I am going to give it to Bush, partly because I have given most of the really close states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Iowa, New Mexico) to Kerry. If Bush loses Ohio, he can still win by winning either Michigan or Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin and Iowa or Wisconsin, New Hampshire and New Mexico. If Kerry loses here, he has lost (unless he wins Florida). A real possibility, however, is that Bush loses Ohio but wins Wisconsin and either New Mexico or New Hampshire, in which case we will have a 269-269 tie.

What happens in a tie: The correct question is what happens if no candidate gets a majority of electoral votes (cast by the electors - there is always the possibility of a "faithless elector", especially in a tie). In that case, the House of Representatives, voting by state, with each state getting one vote, decides among the top three vote-getters (thus, if there is one faithless elector who votes for McCain, for example, the House could choose him). How a state votes is dependent on how its representatives (the ones chosen in this election) vote. Right now the Republicans control a significant majority of the house delegations and we can assume that probably won't change. Thus, Bush would probably win if the House decided. The Senate would choose the Vice-President based on a majority vote of the new Senate - which could go either way. Theoretically, they could choose Edwards.

Obviously there are a lot of factors that I couldn't take into account (the effects of voter fraud (or intimidation), any event that occurs between now and election day, the inaccuracy of polls, weather, and most importantly, post-election litigation.

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October 27, 2004

Cramer on Vote Fraud

Clayton Cramer has a good post on a simple form of vote fraud: just pretend to be someone else and vote before they do. Absentee and early voting make this kind of fraud particularly easy. He recounts one such incident that just happened. One part of his story that struck me in particular was that the authorities were completely uninterested in pursuing whoever perpetrated the fraud. When there's no enforcement, we can expect a lot of fraud. This is a major advantage of the electoral college. If we simply elected whoever had a majority of the popular vote, that would give a big incentive to pile up fraudulent vote in the states in which you had complete control of the government. We still have a problem with this within states: a corrupt part of a state can exercise undue influence via fraud.

Cramer also writes about an easy step towards reducing the problem:

Question: Is there any good reason why a voter should not have to present valid identification at the polling place?

The answer, by the way, is No.

I consider one of the most important actions of the next Congress to be passing a law requiring anyone voting in a federal election to show an official picture ID.

The other easy step is to reduce the amount of absentee voting, or to eliminate it altogether.

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September 28, 2004

RealclearPolitics Poll site

A good site that lists the results of state presidential polls is RealClearPolitics-polls

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September 23, 2004

Candidates' Nightly Polling

Via Drudge, the Washington Times has an interview with Karl Rove that tells us about the extent of polling in presidential campaigns: ...

... Mr. Rove said he thinks the president is five to six percentage points ahead of Mr. Kerry nationally, although the Bush campaign is not conducting national polls. However, Mr. Rove said, "We have an army of pollsters" doing extensive sampling in battleground states.

"We've taken all the battleground states and molded them together so that we're doing 600 sample a night or 800 sample a night in every battleground state and then aggregating all of those," he said.

"So we're talking about literally interviews in the thousands every night," he said. "And you run three nights of those, and you're talking tens of thousands of interviews."

It makes sense not to do national polls, since they wouldn't affect a candidate's decisions. What is striking is that Bush is doing a *nightly* scientific poll in each battleground state. The public pollsters take three nights per poll of that size.

Two ideas:

(1) The candidates' actions might tell us more than the public polls we see, since the candidates see better and more frequent polls.

(2) Someone should press the campaigns to reveal their data after the election, just for scholarly and historical purposes. It sounds like great data.

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September 21, 2004

Mrs. Heinz Kerry on Mozambique's "Communists"

The New Yorker reports that Mrs. Heinz Kerry is surprisingly sound on the subject of "national liberation movements":

Heinz Kerry’s father moved back to Portugal with his wife after the Socialist regime of Samora Machel came to power in Mozambique, in 1975, and the country became independent. Machel nationalized private property. "My father wanted to die there," she told me with bitterness. "He didn’t come to make money to take back to Portugal. He had nothing in Portugal." But, as crime rose and the economy crumbled, white nationalists who had supported frelimo felt, she said, increasingly embattled and marginalized. "The Portuguese colonials were not bad people compared to the crooks who took over," she told a reporter in Fort Lauderdale last March, and added that she could empathize with the Cuban exile community in South Florida because her parents had also "lost everything to the Communists."

But what did she think of John Kerry's support for the Communists in Vietnam n the 70's and for the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in the 80's? Ten years after the independence of Mozambique, Kerry was still saying--emphatically-- that the Sandinistas were good-guy liberators supported by the people, not the corrupt looters they actually were. This just intensifies the biggest mystery of John Kerry's life: how he got Theresa Heinz to marry him.

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Smith on Estrich: "Faster than a U-turning Swiftboat . . ."

Tom Smith at RC has a wonderful post on Professor Susan Estrich, "Faster than a U-turning Swiftboat . . ."

For those of you just joining us, the good Professor only recently penned this now infamous (but still pretty obscure) screed, in which she revealed that she and her Democratic friends were out for blood, hoping to bribe tattlers to tell all about W's inglorious past, everything from AWOL antics to illegally procured abortions, not because it was easy, but because it was the right thing to do. We are mean Democrats, hear us roar. But suddenly, all has changed. Just like that! A new dawn has dawned, a new day has dayed. Now that the dirt from the memo-gate hand grenade has exploded, lodging shrapnel in, to extend a metaphor, the collective Democratic hind-quarters, it's time to move on.

But Susan, I'm not ready to move on! Couldn't we please have the Democrats try again, just one more time! There must be other stories out there that could be so unbelievably, spectacularly mismanaged that they could bring a major media institution to its knees, and kick the remaining life out of a floundering campaign! In fact, you must hurry, or Kerry-Edwards might just die of its own. You owe it to your fans. We haven't had this much fun since watching the anchor-persons' faces as they read the result in Bush v. Gore.

Wonderfully written! In particular, "the anchorpersons' faces", "We are mean Democrats, hear us roar", "bring a major media institution to its knees, and kick the remaining life out of a floundering campaign!", "the dirt from the memo-gate hand grenade has exploded, lodging shrapnel..."

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Poll Numbers for Jewish-, Arab-, and Moslem-Americans

It's interesting how the Muslim and Jewish vote is going in the 2004 election. Best indications are that Muslims have shifted en masse from Bush (whom they supported in 2000) to Kerry, while the Jewish vote is going to be as solidly Democratic as ever. This is the main reason why my electoral college map gives Michigan to Kerry.

I decided to collect data on this. Bottom line: the best, though not top-caliber polls say the Muslim Arab-American vote is Kerry 96, Bush 4 of voters making a choice, and the Jewish vote is Kerry 77, Bush 23....

...The article, "U.S. Jews, Arabs in vote flip-flop?" says:

In 2000, Bush got about 19 percent of the Jewish vote, and the Bush-Cheney campaign is determined to raise that significantly.

Arab Americans helped elect Bush in 2000. He won 45 percent of Arab American votes nationwide, while Al Gore won only 38 percent and Ralph Nader, 13 percent.

Daniel Pipes has been keeping tabs on this. A Zogby polled 502 Arab-American voters in 4 key states during September 9-12. Note that one must not confuse "Moslem-Americans" with "Arab-Americans". In Zogby's poll of Arab-Americans, his subjects were 35% Roman Catholic, 28% Orthodox, 24% Muslim, and 13% Other/No Affiliation. That reduces his sample down to 102 Moslems, which is too small to be very dependable. Nonetheless, he's a reputable pollster, so it must be a random sample, which is more important than being a big sample, and the results are overwhelming as far as the Moslem Arab-Americans are concerned:

Roman Catholic Orthodox Muslim
Bush 40 50 3
Kerry 46 31 70
Other/Not Sure 14 19 27

Roman Catholic Orthodox Muslim
Bush 40 49 2
Kerry 44 33 65
Nader 6 9 15
Other/Not Sure 10 9 19

Most Arab-Americans are apparently Christian-- just think of all the Lebanese and Palestinians (not to mention Egyptian Copts and Iraqi Assyrians) who found things too hot for them back in the Middle East. Zogby says, "The voters came from four states (Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania), reflecting the overall demographic profile of the national Arab American community." The Arab World has become decreasingly Christian (and Jewish) and a lot of those who fled came to America. It's important, too, to keep in mind that many (most?) Moslem-Americans are not Arab-Americans-- think of all the Black Muslims and the people of Indian and Indonesian ancestry.

As you can see above, Bush and Kerry split the Roman Catholic vote, and Bush has a definite edge with the Orthodox Arab-Americans. It would be interesting to know how the religion's politics split on specific issues. An April 2004 poll by Zogby found that Arab-Americans as a whole-- Moslems and Christians combined-- were almost exactly split on who would do better on Israel-Palestine-- Bush, Kerry, or Nader (27-22-25)-- and on Iraq they rated Bush and Kerry as about equal and Nader as distinctly worse (37-34-16).

Turning to different data, ann unscientific poll of Muslims was done by the notorious Council on American-Islamic Relations:

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported that 54 percent of eligible Muslim voters said they would vote for Kerry, while 26 percent favored Nader. A sizable 14 percent of Muslim voters said they are still undecided. (Fifty-five percent of the respondents said they voted for President Bush in the 2000 election.)

As Daniel Pipes says,

CAIR's Unscientific Polling The Council on American-Islamic Relations has a tradition of conducting straw polls (questions "were faxed and e-mailed to Muslim individuals and organizations nationwide" it helpfully informs) and then pawning these off as scientific surveys, which then get picked up by guillible reporters. Straw poll results released today of 644 individuals, however specious, do have an interesting implication. In "Poll: U.S. Muslims Increase Political Activity Since 9/11," CAIR announces that American Muslims would vote for, among Democratic candidates for president, Howard Dean (26 percent), Dennis Kucinich (11 percent), John Kerry (7 percent), and Carol Moseley Braun (6 percent). "Only 2 percent said they would vote for President Bush."

As for the Jewish vote, the August 17 Washington Times discusses the poll by Anna Greenberg for the partisan National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC).

Mr. Kerry, the Democratic nominee, leads Mr. Bush 75 percent to 22 percent. That share is four percentage points less than the 79 percent that exit polls said was won by the 2000 Democratic ticket of Al Gore and Sen. Joe Lieberman -- the first Jewish candidate ever on a major-party presidential ticket.


The NJDC poll of 817 self-identified Jews who said they are likely to vote was taken July 26 to 28 and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Although partisan, this sounds like a scientific poll. Jewishweek.com has more to say about it (I couldn't find the poll report itself in a quick search):

When asked "which two of the following issue areas would be MOST important to you in deciding how to vote for a candidate for President?" Israel was mentioned by 15 percent of the respondents -- far behind "terrorism and national security" and "the economy and jobs" at 42 percent, "affordable health care" and "the situation in Iraq" at 24 percent, and "Social Security and Medicare" at 19.

In the NJDC poll, 73 percent of the respondents said they attend synagogue "several times a year" or "hardly ever," and 60 percent reported belonging to no Jewish organizations.

My reading of this is that Moslem-Americans care a lot about their religion, and I bet most of them think we should not have removed Saddam Hussein from power. It would be interesting to ask this question in a poll, as well as whether Israel should be eliminated a country. Most Jewish-Americans, however, are thoroughly assimilated, except for not having adopted Christianity after they left religious Judaism, so they fit the typical political profile of non-religious Americans. That means being heavily Democratic, with no particular attachment to Israel. Being Jewish-American is like being Norwegian-American, an ethnic identity, often strongly felt, but without implications for sympathy with foreigners like Israelis or Norwegians.

This is not inconsistent with the existence of powerful, Jewish, pro-Israel lobbyists. Israel's strongest if not most numerous supporters are Jewish; but it does not follow that all Jews are strong supporters of Israel. Most American Christians do not even notice, much less care about foreign persecution of Christians, even though the strongest lobbying against such persecution is by Christians. And I would expect to see much different political beliefs among devout Jews, even loosely defined as Jews who attend a synagogue at least once a month.

Thus, it is quite clear that if we just look at Jewish and Muslim votes, Bush has had a net loss of support because of the Iraq War. Adding in Arab-Americans generally would help to dilute the loss from Muslim-Americans, but would not outweigh it. For the chief political influence of the Iraq War, though, we need to look at Christian and non-religious voters.

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September 20, 2004

The 1864, 1896, and 2004 Elections

Rasmussen Reports has a webpage comparing the 2004 and 1896 elections that is worth reading. But it is wrong. The election to compare with 2004 is not 1896, despite what Karl Rove may think, but 1864....

... In 1864, incumbent Lincoln had gotten a definite minority of the popular vote in 1860, and was so offensive in personality and policy to the losers that many states seceded. He was blamed for getting our troops bogged down in a civil war which, while mostly won militarily, and with some spectacular successes, seemed to be dragging on indefinitely.Lincoln was, however, very popular with people actually in the military. People made fun of his "nation-building" policy in the South, which was getting nowhere. They also made fun of his folksy western style and speech, how little he learned in his college years, and his supposedly dull and uncultured intellect. Many saw him as the tool of Republican Party leaders-- in particular, of his Secretary of State, Seward, and his all-star Cabinet. (Not of his vice-president-- though he did switch to a new VP, Democrat Andrew Johnson, for the 1864 election, in order to broaden his support.) A major Democratic accusation was that Lincoln had destroyed civil liberties in the North using his war powers and in defiance of the courts. Lincoln and his Republican Congress also had expanded the federal government considerably using the cover of the war, and government contracts were making certain Republicans rich.

The challenger, McClellan, had a background in the same organization as Lincoln-- the Illinois Central, of which McClellan had been president and for which Lincoln was an outside litigator. McClellan ran on his war record, though some people said that his leadership had actually helped the enemy more than his own side. His position was confused, though, because while he was pro-war, merely charging that Lincoln was running it poorly, much of his party was anti-war. This was intentional-- the party leaders wanted balance, and McClellan was a safer bet than wilder anti-war candidates. Despite his failures as a general, however, McClellan still considered himself much smarter than Lincoln, to whom his attitude had been condescending even while he was a general. Despite this, it was clear that the Republican Party was the party of ideas even in domestic policy-- national bank charters, the Homestead Act, high tariffs (I didn't say *good* ideas)-- while the Democrats wanted to block such innovations.

The main feature of the 1896 election, on the other hand, was that economic policy so dominated that leading figures and blocks of voters from each party bolted to join the other. The incumbent President Grover Cleveland was a "Gold Democrat", favoring tight monetary policy, and was really more like Republican McKinley than like Democrat Bryan. Bryan was from a traditionally Republican state, Nebraska, and he attracted lots of Western Republican support while losing Gold Democrats in the East-- including Senators on both sides. Other notable features were that neither foreign policy nor issues of character played any role, that McKinley far outspent Bryan, and that McKinley was known for gravitas and long expertise in Washington, while Bryan was known for his oratory. Hard to see Bush and Kerry there!

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September 16, 2004

Kerry and Bush at Yale; Prof. John Morton Blum

I got nostalgic last night after talking to the Battery Chemist, who had been following Rathergate since the first night, and after skimming over The Guardians, the recent book about the Eastern Establishment- Kingman Brewster, Mac Bundy, Bishop Paul Moore, John Lindsay, and their pals. I'll blog another time on their interesting mix of talent, high-mindedness, and failure. For now, though, I'll note that Tom Veal has a good post on "John Kerry’s Yale Political Union"....

I cannot, in fact, think of any Union president who went on to a conspicuous career in national politics before John F. Kerry. His immediate successor, Jay Wilkinson, now a federal appeals court judge, perhaps places second. Of Kerry’s Yale contemporaries who are now politically prominent, only George Pataki had a substantial Union career. George W. Bush, John Ashcroft and Howard Dean didn’t bother to join.


At the end of his freshman year, John ran for chairman of the Liberal Party. His opponent, Lou Sigal, was a year ahead of him and had the advantage of seniority, but John campaigned much more vigorously. I was later told by Liberal Party members that his platform consisted of two planks: his initials ("J.F.K.") and the argument that electing a Jewish chairman would "give people the wrong idea about the party". That may sound bizarre, but Yale had only recently dropped its Jewish quota, and antisemitic attitudes lingered, even among the soi disant apostles of tolerance.

[Of course, it turns out, too, that John Kerry is Jewish-- but didn't know it at the time because his grandfather had kept it quiet.]


In Fall 1963, John’s first term as Liberal chairman, the Political Union enjoyed (or suffered) a rare moment in the national spotlight. It invited George Wallace to speak, outraging the Mayor of New Haven. The Mayor called on his friend, Yale Provost and acting President Kingman Brewster, Jr., to stop this affront to decency. Brewster, a bully by nature, summoned the members of the Union executive board to meet with him and told them that they had two choices: They could rescind the invitation to Governor Wallace, or they could be expelled from Yale. After a heated debate, they voted five-to-four for rescission, with John among the majority.

[In the book, *The Guardians*, I don't recall the details about *how* Brewster bullied the Union, which are interesting.]

John was reelected chairman for the Spring 1964 term, but all was not well with his party. Membership and activity declined sharply. Only 13 members qualified to vote in the May 1964 Union elections (about a third as many as the next smallest party), and almost all of those were openly hostile toward their nominal leader. One of the most vocal Kerry critics was elected to succeed him as chairman.

Happily for John, the Conservative Party and the Party of the Right, each with about an equal number of qualified voters, were at loggerheads over how to divide the Union’s elected offices. When the Conservatives insisted on taking not only the presidency, which the PoR was willing to concede, but also the office of speaker (the presiding officer at meetings), the chairman of the PoR, who wanted to be speaker himself, offered to back John for president. In return, John promised not just to support Party of the Right candidates for three of the five elected offices (the maximum that any one party could constitutionally hold) but to give its members half of the appointed positions, too.

[This is classic PU dealmaking, and goes to Kerry's credit as a politician. Note, however, the problems of leadership and administrative ability showing up even at this young age.]


The reader has doubtless surmised already that the ideological makeup of the Union did not fit the stereotype of 1960’s political activism at elite universities. The right-of-center parties dominated, and the ones to their left were not all that liberal . John’s successor as Liberal chairman was Jorge Dominguez, a Cuban refugee of firm anticommunist views. When, in February 1965, the House debated a resolution calling for American withdrawal from Vietnam, only one Liberal (not John Kerry) favored it, and it went down to defeat by roughly a three-to-one margin.


I’d like to note, as a corrective to inferences that many draw about the collegiate John Kerry, that he was not notably wooden or arrogant . I knew him moderately well and always found his company pleasant. He was also quite a good speech maker, albeit with a baroque tendency that was then commonplace in the Political Union. ... He was overtly and intensely ambitious, but so were plenty of other Yalies. Indeed, he was not the most ambitious of my contemporaries. (That would be Victor Ashe , whose subsequent career reached a climax of sorts when he spent millions of dollars to win 34 percent of the vote in a Senate race against Al Gore.)

I googled a few people of the PU era just after Kerry's and found mention of Rapoza and Menefee and Koford (whom I knew about anyway, since he's an economist).

In looking up Professor John Morton Blum, who it seems is still alive and talking to reporters, I found this article by Lanny Davis (Clinton's lawyer) on George W. Bush:

... I also remember certain courses did catch his interest, especially History 35, a popular course taught by John Morton Blum, the legendary liberal professor and award-winning biographer of Theodore Roosevelt.

History 35 focused on three of the most important progressive periods in U.S. history-- the populist era, Woodrow Wilson progressivism and FDR liberalism.

I saw George carrying a textbook from the course and jokingly asked, "What's a good Republican like you doing in Blum's course?" He smiled. (Smiled, not smirked. I don't understand why people say he "smirks." When he says something good, he looks pleased with himself --he should be! But that's different from a smirk, which connotes arrogance. Of all the things George may be, he's not arrogant.)

George responded to my comment: "I've learned more from John Blum than any other teacher I've had at Yale. I don't care what his politics are, I love that course."

I took that course too, about ten years later, and liked it. Blum would regularly hold court at Branford Dining Hall at lunch, and I went to that a few times, too. He taught well, and he writes well-- I still have his books on Teddy Roosevelt and Wilson. What I remember best from that course is my difficulty in deciding who to support in the 1912 election-- Roosevelt (Bull Moose Party), Taft, or Wilson. Roosevelt had charisma, but liked regulation and was backed by the goofy Left; Taft had soundness and a good antitrust record; Wilson supported racism but also supported free trade. Now that I know more, Taft is easily the best of the lot. Yale, not Harvard or Princeton!

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September 14, 2004

Bush and Kerry on Free Trade

I'd been wondering where Kerry and Bush stood on free trade. Yesterday's WSJ had a couple of useful articles. Bottom line: Bush has been moderately free trade, with big exceptions; Kerry used to be free trade; Kerry is now moderately anti-free-trade; the heavy hitters against free trade are all Democrats. Next-to-bottom line: Kerry only likes multilateralism when it requires us to get the approval of our rivals for military action, not when it requires us to get the approval of our trading partners to help U.S. consumers....

Jagdish Bhagwati says

How does one forgive him his pronouncements on outsourcing, and his strange silences on the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations? Indeed, Sen. Kerry, whose views and voting record were almost impeccable on trade, has allowed himself to be forced into such muddled and maddening positions on trade policy that, if one were an honest intellectual as against a party hack, one could only describe them as the voodoo economics of our time.


Sen. Kerry is also not good news for the critical multilateral trade negotiations in the Doha Round. Where President Bush has articulated strong support for it, Sen. Kerry has ducked the issue. Then again, on top of the strange commitment to have a 120-day review of existing trade agreements (which presumably include the WTO), the Kerry-Edwards demand that labor and environmental requirements be included, with sanctions, in old and new trade agreements, clearly aims a dagger at the heart of Doha.

Daniel Ikenson says

The Byrd Amendment directs the distribution of antidumping and countervailing duties collected by the U.S. Customs into special accounts for disbursement to companies that supported the original petitions in these cases. Before the amendment became law, such duties were commingled with other government revenues in the general treasury.


The World Trade Organization ruled last month that eight U.S. trade partners are entitled to retaliation for U.S. failure to comply with its rulings against the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act, also known as the Byrd Amendment. But an issue much larger than the ruling is at stake. How the U.S. responds will have far-reaching implications for the WTO: Failure to comply could mark the beginning of its end as a valid institution.


These efforts are spearheaded primarily by Democrats in Congress, like Sen. Max Baucus of Montana and Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan. In response to the WTO finding against the Byrd Amendment in January 2003, Sen. Baucus said, "In the end, this decision may not matter much, as I suspect there is little support in Congress for implementing it."


In response to last month's ruling, John Kerry declared, "Once again, the Bush administration failed to stand up for American companies and workers at the WTO, and as a result, unfair trade practices are hurting our economy and middle-class families."


Yet despite opposition to the law from President Clinton and advocacy for repeal from President Bush, Congress shows no sign of relenting.

I'm not clear on where Kerry stands on Bush's steel tariffs, but given that West Virginia and Pennsylvania are swing states, both of them are probably equally bad on that issue.

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September 12, 2004

Is One of Our Two Major Parties Trying to Gain the Presidency Using Forged Documents?

Something , Peter Duncan wrote, via Jim Treacher and Instapundit, made me rethink a bit on Rathergate. Here is his idea, in my words:

What is the most serious issue in the campaign?

It is not whether Kerry faked his Purple Hearts 30 years ago, despite how he makes his Vietnam Service his main credential. It is certainly not whether Bush's superiors should have made him attend extra drills 30 years ago. It is not even whether Kerry has any idea of what to do differently than Bush in Iraq.

No, the most serious issue is this: Did the leadership of the Democratic Party try, with the complicity of CBS News, to take down the President of the United States using forged documents? ...

...At the moment, it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that the CBS documents are forgeries. Indeed, this is so clear that it is pretty certain that CBS knew they were forgeries-- certainly they must know by now, and they are still sticking by their story. What is unclear is whether CBS got the documents from the Democratic Party.

Perhaps that isn't important either. The Democratic Party as of Friday, when everybody knew the documents were forged, was still using them in its official letters. So the Democrats are trying to use forgeries to win an election, even if they didn't actually create the forgeries.

If it's just CBS, that's not so bad. But if it's the Democratic Party... that is not a good sign for democracy.

Here is the original fromPeter Duncan:

What is the serious issue?

It is NOT whether Bush completed his TANG (Texas Air National Guard) duty to completion or about how anything else that happened 30 years ago will effect the upcoming election.

It IS about investigating the CURRENT allegations that the Democratic National Committee willingly supplied false (forged) documents to a major news outlet (CBS) who all too dutifully reported this as "news" without providing a complete, and accurate accounting of the story, and who didn't adequately check the authenticity of these documents that leading experts in the private and public sectors (Pentagon) are now saying are forgeries.

Partisan politics, mud slinging, etc. are to be expected in an election year. Breaking the law, in an attempt to take down a sitting president using forged documents is much more serious.

I don't think the forgers have committed any crime here, actually, something I alluded to in a previous post. That doesn't lessen the moral gravity of what they did and what their supporters in CBS and the Democratic Party are doing now.

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September 08, 2004

Taranto on Bush-Kerry as Deciding Who to Hire

James Taranto is as good as Mark Steyn here, as he comments on Susan Estrich's suggestion that Kerry campaign on a platform of "Bush used to have a drinking problem and drinkers never really reform"....


Suppose you're an employer and you hear that one of your employees, who's been working for you for about four years, once had a drinking problem and in fact pleaded guilty nearly 30 years ago to a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence. You actually heard about all this when you initially hired him, and it did give you second thoughts, but in the end you decided to give him a chance. In the four years he's been working for you, you've seen no sign that he's fallen off the wagon. Is there any cause here to fire him? Even if the revelation about his past were new, wouldn't it have to be pretty severe to constitute grounds for termination?

Now say someone comes to you looking for a job. Right off the bat, you notice something strange about his résumé: It goes on for page after page about a job he held for four months, more than 35 years ago, but makes only the barest mention of anything he's done since. You have him in for an interview, and he can't give you a straight answer to any question about what he plans to do in the job if you hire him. Instead (to borrow a description from Joe Conason), he sounds like a bar-stool bore, with a bad habit of repeating the same lame boasts about that long-ago four-month stint again and again.

Still, you decide to check out his references. (John Edwards: "If you have any question about what John Kerry is made of, just spend three minutes with the men who served with him.") Some sing his praises quite extravagantly, but a greater number describe him harshly as a man of dubious character, and some accuse him of lying on his résumé. He acknowledges a few embellishments but refuses to provide you with documents that would shed light on the other accusations.

Would you hire this man? And would you fire an employee of four years' standing in order to create an opening for him?

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The NYT and Boston Globe Fail in Attempts to Smear Bush

The attempts by the liberal media to go after Bush's National Guard service are getting positively humorous. See Frank Rich of the a paper which does not consider documented charges of Kerry's medals fraud to be worth even mentioning to its readers:

In "A Charge to Keep," his 1999 campaign biography crafted by Karen Hughes, Mr. Bush implies that he just happened to slide on his own into one of the "several openings" for pilots in the Texas Air National Guard in 1968 and that he continued to fly with his unit for "several years" after his initial service. This is fantasy that went largely unchallenged until 9/11 subjected it to greater scrutiny.

Well, it's been subject to detailed scrutiny since then-- I don't know about before, though I wouldn't take Rich's word on the subject. The latest is the Boston' Globe's September 8 attempt at a scandal story. The Globe's problem is that it couldn't find anything to expose, so its writers have to breathe extra hard as they describe Bush's rather uninteresting service:

And early in his Guard service, on May 27, 1968, Bush signed a ''statement of understanding" pledging to achieve ''satisfactory participation" that included attendance at 24 days of annual weekend duty -- usually involving two weekend days each month -- and 15 days of annual active duty. ''I understand that I may be ordered to active duty for a period not to exceed 24 months for unsatisfactory participation," the statement reads.

Yet Bush, a fighter-interceptor pilot, performed no service for one six-month period in 1972 and for another period of almost three months in 1973 , the records show.

The reexamination of Bush's records by the Globe, along with interviews with military specialists who have reviewed regulations from that era, show that Bush's attendance at required training drills was so irregular that his superiors could have disciplined him or ordered him to active duty in 1972, 1973, or 1974. But they did neither. In fact, Bush's unit certified in late 1973 that his service had been ''satisfactory" -- just four months after Bush's commanding officer wrote that Bush had not been seen at his unit for the previous 12 months.

First, note that the Globe's attempted hit piece refutes Frank Rich. Apparently Bush was performing service for the National Guard pretty continuously from 1968 to 1971 and for most of 1972 and 1973. So he *did* fly with his unit for "several years" after his initial service. (I'll pass by Rich's "several openings" crack-- is he denying that the Air National Guard ever had openings?)

The Globe's big revelation is that Bush *could* have been punished by the Air Force *if* his service was deemed unsatisfactory. But it wasn't so deemed- in fact it was explicitly deemed satisfactory-- and so he wasn't punished. The Globe could equally well have said that Kerry could have been punished by the Navy if his service had been deemed unsatisfactory.

Well, how about insinuations? Maybe Bush missed some drills, and that offence would ordinarily get you court-martialed and sent to a firing squad, but he got off because his father pulled strings, and he blackmailed his superior officer using film footage taken in strip bars. The problem with this is that there's no evidence for it.

But wait... did Bush miss any drills? He needed "attendance at 24 days of annual weekend duty". That's 12 weekends. A year has 52 weekends. Thus, it's easy to do 12 weekends while skipping a 6-month interval. (I don't know why his commanding officer said he hadn't seen Bush for a year when the previous paragraph says that Bush only missed a 6-month period. Sounds like the commanding officer has a bad memory.)

So it seems that maybe Bush's service was deemed satisfactory because he didn't actually miss any drills.

Suppose he did, though. Could it be that his superior would still consider his performance satisfactory? Yes. It might well have been that Texas had an abundance of pilots eager to get in flying hours on interceptors in 1972, and didn't need George Bush to fend off the threat of Soviet bombers. I've no doubt that Air National Guard service was not an onerous job, no more than was the 95% or so of John Kerry's service not spent in Swiftboats (he was in the Navy from 1966 to 1972, and in the Reserve then till 1978; 4 1/2 months of that was in Swiftboats).

The New York Times and Boston Globe stories do tell us some things, though:

1. The worst things Bush's enemies can find out about his military service aren't actually bad at all.

2. Those two newspapers are desperate to shoot down Bush.

3. The reason those newspapers were reluctant to cover the Swiftvets was not that they think accusations about the military service of 30 years ago are unimportant.

4. The reason those newspapers were reluctant to cover the Swiftvets was not that they think accusations about the military service of 30 years ago need strong supporting evidence.

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September 07, 2004

Poll Histories: Kerry and Dukakis

Instapundit has been collecting Dukakis-Kerry parallels, e.g. here and here. This is, of course, a fun subject for conservatives at the moment. My electoral college map and prediction are looking better all the time, though now I'm starting to wonder whether maybe Bush will take California (see also www.electoral-vote.com).

(for a better display, click http://www.rasmusen.org/x/images/polls.gif)

Here's my take on Kerry versus Dukakis. The similarity is that both were extreme liberals facing somewhat unpopular moderate conservatives in good economic times, but both were perceived as moderates and the press, heavily on their side, did all it could to preserve the moderate image. Both therefore had a strategy of not talking about issues, but that strategy ran into trouble when their opponents adopted the simple expedient of pointing out their liberalism using ads with specific, undisputable examples. At that point, their advantage in the polls started evaporating, as the diagram in this post shows. I've noted in a previous post the Rasmussen Reports polling data that shows that middle-of= the-road (i.e., wishy-washy) voters wrongly think Kerry is not a liberal. Kerry has a lot of support to lose still, when they learn more about him. Note what must be disturbing for him: Dukakis was in much better shape than Kerry until August, when they both started declining, but by September 1, Dukakis and Kerry were about even. Dukakis then fell even further-- and he didn't have Swiftvets to worry about.

Soxblog talks about "DUKAKISIZATION": how a candidate becomes a laughingstock. Kerry is an easy target for that, unlike Dukakis, who wasn't particularly goofy in appearance and manner until his campaign people told him to do things like drive tanks.

There are two big differences, I think. First, Kerry has a foreign policy records that can only be described as pro-communist, while Dukakis, a governor, had no foreign policy record.

Second, Kerry is highly vulnerable on character issues. His military record is fraudulent. He lied about American atrocities when he returned to America. He won't release his wife's income tax returns, an unprecedented secrecy in the recent history of presidential campaigns, which tells me there is something rotten hidden there (though it might be as simple as, say, not having any charitable deductions). He divorced his first wife under conditions as yet unexplored. He has lived extravagantly using the money of his second wife's dead husband. I don't recall anything in Dukakis's personal life that was as distasteful as any one of these Kerry defects.

What can Kerry do? If he wants to win, I think his best strategy is to keep on obfuscating and denying, and hope that somehow Bush self-destructs. That strategy is not likely to win, but that doesn't mean it isn't his best strategy. He is just not playing a strong hand. Or, if he wants to serve the public, he could imitate Goldwater and say all the extreme things he really believes, in the hope of moving public opinion in the long run even though he would lose the 2004 election.

It's time to bring back an old joke, I think, though it doesn't work as well as it did for Dukakis:

QUESTION: What does "Kerry" mean in the original French?

ANSWER: "McGovern".

By the way, on Dukakis vs. Kerry polling trends see also the Free Republic of July 17. One interesting comment there was:

I think another KEY point is the MEDIA BIAS factor, where polling data during the 'non-attention' time of the voters

Can someone run an analysis of the July/August #s versus the final numbers?

I think if you go all the way back to 1976, in every single race, the
Republicans improved on their July/August polling numbers:
- 1976 (large Carter lead -> small Carter win)
- 1980 (Reagan behind/even race -> big Reagan win)
- 1984 (small Reagan lead -> Reagan landslide)
- 1988 (Bush behind/Dukakis ahead -> Bush wins)
- 1992 (Clinton lead -> Clinton win smaller than Aug lead)
- 1996 (Clinton large lead -> Clinton wins by 7pts)
- 2000 (no change? Bush/Gore even in summer, then close election)

This is something worth exploring, perhaps even in a scholarly paper. Gallup has the data at the site I link to below.

Here is the explanation for my graph above. It uses Gallup poll data, recorded a bit sloppily because each date is actually from about 3 days of polling taken from here and here from www.pollingreport.com. I converted calendar dates to digital dates, and my Dukakis data is eyeballed from a strangely drawn Gallup graph. The poll is of "likely voters", in a two way race plus Neither, Other, and No Opinion, where I eliminated the Neither, Other, and No Opinion and show a candidates proportion of what remains. I graphed the data in STATA using the command

graph kerry dukakis date, xscale(3, 11.5) yscale(40, 60)xlab(3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11) ylab( 40, 45, 50, 55, 60) yline (50) connect(l[.] l[l]) symbol([kerry] [dukakis]) psize(200)

Then I saved it as a *.wmf file and converted to *.jpg. I couldn't figure out how to keep the Stata colors when I saved it, though.

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September 06, 2004

Voter Misperception of Kerry's Leftism

Rasmussen Reports
says that while most voters believe Bush is conservative, about as many think Kerry is moderate as that he is liberal. Since Bush is in the center of a conservative party, voters are right on that, but since Kerry is on the far left of a liberal party, voters still have much to learn about him....


September 4, 2004--Sixty-six percent (66%) of America's Likely Voters believe
that, in political terms, George W. Bush is a conservative. Following the
Republican National Convention, a Rasmussen Reports survey found that 23%
believe he is a political moderate.

For John Kerry, the numbers are 46% liberal and 40% moderate

Overall, those numbers have changed little throughout Election 2004. In fact,
they are virtually identical to numbers gathered shortly after the Democratic
National Convention a month ago.

Two thirds (66%) of conservative voters believe Bush shares their ideological
perspective. Similar percentages of moderates and liberals share that assessment of the President's ideology.

However, most liberal voters reject the notion that Kerry is one of them. Fifty-
five percent (55%) of self-identified liberals view Kerry as a moderate. Twenty-
eight percent (28%) say the Senator is politically moderate.

Conservative voters have an entirely different view--70% say the Democratic
nominee is politically liberal.

As this Jay Bryant piece notes, using the liberal group ADA's ratings, John Kerry's lifetime rating is more liberal than that of Ted Kennedy, Dennis Kucinich, Carole Moseley-Braun, Al Gore, Walter Mondale, or George McGovern. You can look this up straight from theADA, though it is awkward since they set up their records state by state. Is he the most liberal Senator? His score of 92 is higher than Ted Kennedy's 90, but Iowa's Harkin ties Kerry at 92 and Vermont's Leahy and Oregon's Wyden beat him with 93's and California's Boxer with a 96. Maybe others do to. But there is no doubt that Kerry is on the far left of the Senate, whereas Bush would, I suppose, be somewhere in the middle right.

Why is this voter misperception worth mentioning? Because it is crucial to
Kerry's success. It's hard to get a majority of voters if you're an extremist,
unless you're perceived as a moderate or unless your opponent is an extremist.
This makes Kerry vulnerable. If voters knew his views, his support would
collapse. Bush no doubt will publicize Kerry's views-- indeed, he is already
using the strategy of talking about Kerry's record. Kerry really only has one
defense: to fudge and look like a flip-flopper. Despite what the pundits say, I
think that's sensible of him, because to be consistently leftwing would be fatal
to his campaign.

I am hopeful, though. Notice from the Rasmussen Reports that conservatives
already know that Kerry is liberal. Since 54% of voters thinks Kerry is not
liberal, that means that more than 54% of non-conservatives believe Kerry is
liberal. Most of those voters are moderates, not liberals. Once they learn the
truth about Kerry, they will swing to Bush.

This, of course, is exactly what happened to Dukakis in 1988.
He stayed quiet about issues, hoping nobody would notice how liberal he was, but Bush Senior ran ads calling Dukakis a liberal and giving
good evidence of that. Dukakis had the gall to say it was foul play to call
attention to his political views, but voters disagreed.

It may be that in a month Kerry will be wishing for more
Swiftvet ads to distract voters from the ads Bush will be running about his
liberalism. After Clinton I think voters are more willing to elect a
scoundrel who shares their views than an honest man who does not.

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September 05, 2004

Electoral College Map

UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 21: The best state poll site is at Realclearpolitics.com , which collects various pollsters's results.

UPDATE of an earlier post:

See also the Gallup interactive state map, which has links to state polls.

The PBS Electoral College Pick-Your-Own-States Map is good. It would be even better if it put the number of electoral votes on each state, if it were accompanied by a table with the 2000 race percentages for each state, and if it could be frozen and saved after the user put in his own changes, but at least it is a start.

My forecast is Bush 328, Kerry 210, with the distribution of states in the map accompanying this entry.



The polls I trust most are at the Rasmussen Report. Note, by the way, that I, Eric Rasmus en, am unrelated to the Rasmussen of that report. I don't trust any polls very much, though. Bush still has a lot of ad spending to do, and the debates are still to come. Kerry will have even more ad spending (because of the Demo millionaires funding the 527s, where he's had something like a 60 million to 4 million dollar lead so far-- my unchecked guesses), and will also be in the debates. But so far the voters have been hit with huge amounts of free ads for Kerry in the form of the mainstream media's biased reporting. Bush's spending and the debates will go a little way towards evening that out.

Has anyone, by the way, calculated the value of the Democratic bias of the media? What I'd like to see is some estimate of the amount of newsprint and TV time that is effectively Democratic commercials, multiplied by the standard ad price for that time. I think it would swamp campaign spending, and would show that if we're really concerned about campaign finance reform, we should skip the small stuff- the billion dollars or so spent on paid-for ads-- and go right to the big money, which is the free ads in the form of news and op-eds.

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Meltdowns in Political Campaigns

I did a google search on Rasmusen Report to get the latest Kerry-Bush poll
figures. I was excited to see one item that turned up:

All About Meltdowns -- from US Rasmussen Report

I'm curious to see Dukakis and Kerry compared, perhaps with McGovern thrown in. Mondale and Goldwater didn't melt down, to the best of my recollection-- they started way behind and didn't have anywhere to go but up.

But then it turned out that the website I saw was not about John Kerry, but
nuclear reactors.

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September 04, 2004

Steyn on Kerry's Lowness and the Two Candidates' Platforms

Mark Steyn'sSeptember 5 column has his usual touch:

So we have one candidate running on a platform of ambitious reforms for an
''ownership society'' at home and a pledge to hunt down America's enemies
abroad. And we have another candidate running on the platform that no one has
the right to say anything mean about him.

And for this the senator broke the eminently civilized tradition that each
candidate lets the other guy have his convention week to himself?

These are two substantive points. The second paragraph is straightforward
writing-- though I hadn't seen the point made about Kerry's lack of fair play--
which is typical of him, and a big part of what the Medal Scandal is all about.
The first paragraph, though, is wonderful writing. Steyn has Bush's platform
down in one sentence, and Kerry's vacuity and hypocrisy in another.

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September 02, 2004

Teresa Heinz Kerry's Cookies

The Teresa's Cookies story came out in late July while I was on holiday in British Columbia, but the peculiarity of Teresa Heinz Kerry is worth noting. What I thought were Kerry's few good points are disappearing. He doesn't seem to have been a war hero after all. And I used to be impressed that managed to get Teresa Heinz to marry him. Now it seems she is paranoid, disloyal to her staff, and quite willing to confess to proffering a cookie recipe as her own which was not. Shades of Purple Hearts and Bronze Stars?....


Here is the New York Times report on the story.

Ever since voters began telling Teresa Heinz Kerry that they didn't think much of the pumpkin spice cookie recipe her office had submitted to Family Circle's presidential cookie bake-off, an aide said, Mrs. Heinz Kerry, the wife of the about-to-be Democratic nominee, has been thinking how she could tell America the truth: the recipe isn't hers.

In an interview on National Public Radio that was broadcast yesterday, the cookies came up in conversation and in the direct, unvarnished style that people have come to expect, Mrs. Heinz Kerry said: "Somebody at my office gave that recipe out and, in fact, I think somebody really made it on purpose to give a nasty recipe. I never made pumpkin cookies; I don't like pumpkin spice cookies."

Mrs. Heinz Kerry had originally submitted a recipe called Yummy Wonders, but, according to Family Circle, its test kitchen said the recipe did not work. When the magazine called her press office and asked if there had been a mistake, the press office sent the pumpkin cookie recipe without consulting her, said her press secretary, Marla Romash.


The recipe, and a Laura Bush recipe for oatmeal-chocolate chunk cookies, were published in the July issue of the magazine. Readers were asked to vote on their favorite.


Ms. Romash, who when she is not working in politics runs a baking-catering business, agrees with her boss. "If you tasted those cookies," she said, "you'd think someone was trying to do you harm, too."

Ms. Romash would not say why Mrs. Heinz Kerry would think an aide would want to harm her.

Not everyone agrees with Mrs. Heinz Kerry: in taste tests on television programs, tasters were evenly divided, said Susan Ungaro, editor in chief of Family Circle

Note Family Circle's retaliation-- if she hadn't been so rude they wouldn't have told us that her first, presumably authentic, recipe was so bad they wouldn't inflict it on their readers.

So another of John Kerry's strong points evaporates. I wonder if he really went to Yale?

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August 31, 2004

Cartoon: Bush, Kerry, and Mudslinging

The Weekly Standard had a good election cartoon recently:

I don't know how accurate it is. It may be that the reason Bush isn't far ahead now is the $60 million or so of Democratic 527-organization ads that have been slinging mud at him for the past year or so.

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Kerry's Fondness for Communists

On July 8 I blogged on "Kerry, Langston Hughes, Communism, and the Rectification of Names". Now the Weekly Standard has an article on "Kerry's Little Red Bookshelf". It turns out that Langston Hughes is not the only hard-core Communist Kerry enjoys quoting. There is a pattern....

...I was just learning how to use Comments in July, and I accidentally erased an
interesting exchange between myself and a reader who pointed out that Mrs. Bush
had also quoted Langston Hughes on one occasion. I'll see if I can reproduce my
point now, though I don't have the links to Mrs. Bush's quote. It was this. It's
fine to quote Communists, Fascists, and suchlike if they are good poets and the
poems are not ones in which they promote Communism and Fascism. That is what
Mrs. Bush was doing (though actually Hughes left Communism at some point-- I
don't know when). Even Communists can write poems about flowers and sunshine and
puppy dogs. It is only when a person quotes portions of poems which are not only
written by Communists but can fairly be called "Communist poems" that we should
get nervous-- and this is what Kerry did. Even if the particular passage quoted
is innocuous--"Let America be America"-- it is then an allusion to the meaning
and message of the entire poem-- that there should be a Communist takeover of
the United States and the imposition of a Stalinist system. If Kerry had done
this once, it could be chalked up to stupidity-- the liberal politician
posing as an intellectual who reads books, but embarassing himself by showing
that really he just reads quotation books. But Kerry seems to have a pattern of
doing this.

Does this mean he is a Communist? No-- not literally. He doesn't have a
membership card. But it is clear who he supported in the Cold War. I don't know
who he supports now.

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August 28, 2004

Electoral College Map; Campaign Finance Reform

UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 5. See also the Gallup interactive state map, which has links to state polls.

The PBS Electoral College Pick-Your-Own-States Map is good. It would be even better if it put the number of electoral votes on each state, if it were accompanied by a table with the 2000 race percentages for each state, and if it could be frozen and saved after the user put in his own changes, but at least it is a start.

My forecast is Bush 328, Kerry 210, with the distribution of states in the map accompanying this entry.

The polls I trust most are at the Rasmussen Report. Note, by the way, that I, Eric Rasmus en, am unrelated to the Rasmussen of that report. I don't trust any polls very much, though. Bush still has a lot of ad spending to do, and the debates are still to come. Kerry will have even more ad spending (because of the Demo millionaires funding the 527s, where he's had something like a 60 million to 4 million dollar lead so far-- my unchecked guesses), and will also be in the debates. But so far the voters have been hit with huge amounts of free ads for Kerry in the form of the mainstream media's biased reporting. Bush's spending and the debates will go a little way towards evening that out.

Has anyone, by the way, calculated the value of the Democratic bias of the media? What I'd like to see is some estimate of the amount of newsprint and TV time that is effectively Democratic commercials, multiplied by the standard ad price for that time. I think it would swamp campaign spending, and would show that if we're really concerned about campaign finance reform, we should skip the small stuff- the billion dollars or so spent on paid-for ads-- and go right to the big money, which is the free ads in the form of news and op-eds.

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August 25, 2004

Kerry's Favor Towards North Vietnamese Communist "Scholars"

Captain's Quarters has a new Kerry scandal, separate from all the Swiftvets stuff, about his advocacy of giving fellowships to study Vietnam refugees to North Vietnamese Communists:

Before dissecting Kerry's intellectual failings, let's be clear about his
intent. He made it clear that he understood that half of the fellowships went to
Communist nationals in a study that purported to research a refugee catastrophe
their government initiated. Implicit in this letter is Kerry's contention that
any dissent erupting from this choice would be invalid. This letter is no mere
boiler-plate salutation for a constituent; Kerry knew the situation and gave his
blessing to Bowen's handling of it.

Is it so unreasonable to say that Kerry is sympathetic to Communism?

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August 24, 2004

Tom Smith on Oliphant and the Mainstream Press as Dem Shills

Tom Smith at the Right Coast has a classic post on how Thomas Oliphant said that the mainstream press is a shill for the Democratic party.

Thomas Oliphant (whom I can never look at without imagining him in one of those propeller beanies) was there to uphold the honor of the daily press. I thought he was pathetic, but my lovely wife Jeanne thought he did OK.

Most annoying was Oliphant's repeating, over and over, that O'Neill's allegations simply did not live up to the standards of evidence required by the legitimate press. Oh please. It's rather late in the day to stand on the daily papers' claim to journalistic objectivity. O'Neill says he has sworn statements from eight officers and four sailors to the effect that Kerry left the scene of the incident of the action for which Kerry got his bronze star, and only came back later. The testimony of 12 eyewitnesses is evidence, and a lot more than the one or two anonymous sources behind many stories in the regular press.


JOHN O'NEILL: Jim, one other thing, they can look at swiftvets.com, which is the web site that has a great deal of information on it.
JIM LEHRER: Is there a web site that's comparable to that? I'm sure the Kerry --
TOM OLIPHANT: Yes, it's called the daily press, which is the most difficult thing for these guys to deal with.

Too, too funny. Oliphant says that what the Swiftvets are for Bush, the daily papers are for Kerry. Meaning what? Surrogates? That's correct, but Oliphant probably didn't mean to say it quite that way.

Take a look at the PBS Transcript of the Oliphant-O'Neill exchange. O'Neill is extremely persuasive, and his tone is utterly reasonable.

(See my Kerry in Vietnam archives for more posts)

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Cheney's Self-Deprecating-Apprecating Humor

A Washington Times story says this about Vice President Cheney:
"People keep telling me -- they say Senator Edwards got picked because he's charming, good looking, sexy. I said, 'How do you think I got the job?' " Mr. Cheney quipped in a stump speech in Salt Lake City, his sixth in three days.
That is a wonderful line. It is self-deprecating humor good enough to get a laugh, because the listener's first thought is, "They made a mistake giving the job to someone as ugly as you!"

But it is actually self-apprecating, if I may coin a word, because the reader's second thought is, "Well, actually you must have gotten the job because you're wise and talented."

Then it bends back, because the listener's third thought is,"And, of course, Senator Edwards was indeed picked because he is good-looking, and his other qualifications are negligible."

And, finally, the fourth thought is a general lesson: "Aren't the media pundits who make a big deal of beauty in presidential candidates silly-- much too silly to be worth listening to about anything as imoprtant as government?"

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August 21, 2004

Election Year Economic Indicators

Glassman on economics indicators in the summer of 2004.

Yes, the number of people employed in July rose only slightly, by 32,000. But the unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent--down from 6.3 percent a year ago and the lowest since October 2001, right after the 9/11 attacks.

The rate today is lower than when Bill Clinton was running for re-election in 1996. It's lower than the average unemployment rate in the 1990s--not to mention the 1980s and 1970s.


Over the past 12 months, David Malpass of Bear Stearns points out, the U.S. economy--measured by our GDP--has grown at a rate of 4.8 percent. That's faster than in any 12-month period during the Clinton administration and three times as fast as Germany and France are growing.

Yet Kerry is doing well in the polls. I am puzzled. The economy is strong, and the challenger is from the extreme left of his party, uncharismatic, undistinguished, and hurt by a noticeable third-party candidate, yet opinion polls show him neck and neck with the incumbent. The challenger does have strong support from the media, but is that really enough?

I wonder if polling generally favors the Democrat until late in a presidential race. I'll be on the lookout for historical data on that. It's what I'd predict, since the Democrats have enormous free advertising via the networks and the newspapers, which must comprise, in effect, 90% of spending until late in the campaign season.

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August 08, 2004

Should I Vote for Someone Who Has No Chance to Win?

That is a good and practical question. Currently Bush, Kerry, Badnarik, and Nader are running for President. Currently it seems that only Bush and Kerry have a chance to win, and all the Libertarian Badnarik and Leftwinger Nader will do is drain away some votes from those two. So suppose you are a libertarian. Should you vote for Badnarik to express your libertarianism, or for Bush because though you like his policy views less, you much prefer him to Kerry>?

This is a hard question, but I'd like to suggest one idea: Vote for the person you'd like to see win. Pretend that you are the only person voting, so you get to decide which candidate wins.

That, after all, is the ostensible reason we vote: to choose the best candidate. Scholars in political economy call it "sincere voting", as opposed to "strategic voting", in which the voter makes some choice other than his true choice in the hope of manipulating the rules. It is much easier to design an efficient voting system if a social norm exists which causes everyone to vote sincerely. This is complicated enough that I'll use an example to illustrate.

Here's the example. If two people are voting on where to set the thermostat, then if they can be trusted to vote sincerely, the voting system can be that each votes for a temperature and then the two votes are averaged, which will work out to a good compromise. Albert would choose his preferred 70 degrees and Bob would choose his 76, and they would compromise on 73. If, however, Bob votes strategically, it would turn out that Albert would choose 70, Bob would choose 82, and the compromise would be 76-- Bob's true first choice. If Albert knows that Bob would vote strategically, then Albert would not accept this voting system in the first place. In fact, without sincere voting, there is no voting system that will achieve a good outcome.

So sincere voting is a desirable thing. Presidential elections are a bit different, because it is very unlikely that any one person's vote will affect the outcome. But for that very reason it should be easier to establish a norm of sincere voting. Are you worried that your vote for Nader instead of Kerry will cost Kerry the election? Don't worry. That is most unlikely to happen. Even Florida in 2000 was not decided by one vote. Bush's margin, by any of the many methods the Gore people veered among, was in the 100's of votes, if I remember correctly (it certainly was for the final judicial count and for the first official recount, before the Florida courts started messing with it, and I think it was for all the newspaper-sponsored hypothetical recounts based on Democratic lawsuits asking for differing counting methods-- but that's where I could be wrong).

The same goes for "protest votes". To vote for Nader because you want to teach Kerry a lesson and scare him is a bit silly, because Kerry will not notice your one vote.

So the question for the rightwinger is whether he really would like Badnarik to be President of the United States, instead of Bush. And the question for the leftwinger is whether he really would like Nader to be President of the United States instead of Kerry. Here is what I find most useful about this approach: it is different from asking the question, "Would I prefer Bush, or someone just like Bush except that he had Badnarik's political views?" You may like Badnarik's political views, but you should ask whether you really want an eccentric person in trouble with the law, with no experience in office, and with an undistinguished career in the private sector (see ) to be in charge of our nuclear weapons and in charge of the administration of the federal government. The same question must be asked of Nader versus Kerry, though there, Nader does have a longer and more impressive record of achievement than Kerry(or Bush, if we exclude Bush's first term in office), and perhaps more administrative experience.

On the other hand, a different argument for voting for Badnarik or Nader is precisely that the disruption they would cause in the federal government. If the social security checks don't get delivered, no legislation is passed, and there are lots of wild executive orders that end up in the courts because they clearly violate the law, maybe that is a good thing. Indeed, I can think of an example where, ex post, I voted wrong myself. In 1992, I should have abandoned sentiment and caution, and voted for Perot or Clinton instead of Bush the First. But I'll write about that in a separate post.

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August 02, 2004

Voting for Bush and Uzbekistan Christians

I was cc'd on the following letter from someone who objected to the reporting of the claim of an Uzbekistan pastor that Christians in his country were praying for George Bush to win the 2004 U.S. Presidential election. I had noted that for Christians abroad, our vote for Bush or for Kerry was a very serious matter, and that a Christian should pay more attention to this than, for example, to the candidates' positions on health care or taxes. It is one piece of evidence for a position I think is clear: that Bush, a religious man, would do infinitely more about the persecution of Christians abroad than would Kerry, whose religion has no noticeable effect on his life. I might be wrong on which candidate would be better for persecuted Christians, but even if I am, I hoped to convey a more general point: in any U.S. Presidential primary or general election, some candidate will be the best for persecuted Christians, and Christians ought to try to identify which one it is and think about that when they vote.

The letter I was copied on says,

Dear Sirs,

I am writing about your re-publication of a letter of James Lair about a "pastor" in Uzbekistan and the need therefore for all Christians to support George Bush.

As someone who has attended Catholic church in Uzbekistan, in Tashkent and Samarkand, who has seen the Russian Orthodox Church parades, and who has talked with Jehovah's witnesses in several cities of Uzbekistan , witnessed the work of many Korean churches - all in Uzbekistan - I find your letter to be unfortunately mis-guided.

Under the Clinton years, there was considerable pressure to allow the bulk of the population to practice their Muslim faith as they saw fit - under the Bush years, the country has drastically increased its torture and killing of Muslims it judges to be extremists.

I pray that you come to Uzbekistan yourself before invoking our Savior's name to further your own interests. One interview is not the situation in Uzbekistan.

In Christ's name I ask you to look deep in your heart and reflect on this.


Dr. David Mikosz

PS: Your message is being used by the Republican Party already: http://www.ks-ra.org/impactof.htm

Let's go over this carefully. Like the original story, it is just one small piece of evidence, but I think it does tell us something about a not uncommon mindset.
I am writing about your re-publication of a letter of James Lair about a "pastor" in Uzbekistan and the need therefore for all Christians to support George Bush.

The writer did not argue further that the pastor was an impostor, so I suppose he used quote marks to indicate his disdain for a pastor who dared voice a political opinion in favor of George Bush. Or perhaps the writer is a Roman Catholic traditional enough to be unwilling to call a Protestant pastor by the name "pastor". (That is not an entirely unreasonable position-- I myself object to calling pastors of *any* denomination "reverend", since that word means "to be revered" and I do not think humans should be revered like gods. But "pastor" is a word that makes a very limited claim-- a shepherd is not a grand person.)
As someone who has attended Catholic church in Uzbekistan, in Tashkent and Samarkand, who has seen the Russian Orthodox Church parades, and who has talked with Jehovah's witnesses in several cities of Uzbekistan, witnessed the work of many Korean churches - all in Uzbekistan - I find your letter to be unfortunately mis-guided.

That isn't a bad intro. It makes us expect that next he will give us some observations about how tolerant the authorities are, or how Bush's policies have or have not helped Christians, though our expectation will be disappointed.

A point the writer could have here is to attack the assertion made in the article that

"... it is illegal in his country to be a Christian. You see, his church is an 'underground' church. Amazingly, his city also has three 'underground' Christian schools," Lair said.

Lair says the Uzbek pastor talked about how the Christians have been arrested and even killed in his country.

Dr. Mikosz's experience tells us that Christianity in general is not illegal in Uzbekistan. My guess is that Uzbekistan is like most Moslem countries, in which it is not illegal to be a Christian, or to switch from one Christian denomination to another, but it is illegal to try to convert Moslems to Christianity, or to be a Moslem convert. But I don't think it is wrong to say that Christianity is illegal if it is only illegal for 95% of the population plus any Christian who follow his religion's command to share the good news (though I wouldn't object to someone saying Christianity is legal in Uzbekistan either-- "legality", here as elsewhere, often can't be stated precisely in one sentence Is it legal to lie in America? Ask Martha Stewart, and then ask Bill Clinton).
Under the Clinton years, there was considerable pressure to allow the bulk of the population to practice their Muslim faith as they saw fit - under the Bush years, the country has drastically increased its torture and killing of Muslims it judges to be extremists.

Here's the real substance of the letter: the claim (which I have no reason to disbelieve) that Democratic Presidents are good news for Muslim extremists. This, of course, is hardly incompatible with Democratic Presidents being *bad* news for Christian churchgoers, the point of the story he is criticizing.
I pray that you come to Uzbekistan yourself before invoking our Savior's name to further your own interests. One interview is not the situation in Uzbekistan.

"To further your own interests"? What are those, and how does he know what the reporter's interests are?

The writer is, of course, correct that one story might well misrepresent the situation in Uzbekistan. One story is a lot better than zero stories, though. Moreover, we see here someone who has been to Uzbekistan and doesn't like that one story yet doesn't say it is false.

In Christ's name I ask you to look deep in your heart and reflect on this.

"In Christ's name"? This comes immediately after the writer attacks someone else for "invoking our Savior's name to further your own interests". By the way, did the original article actually ask us to vote for George Bush "for God's sake"? No. Take a look back at it:
"He said something to this effect: 'I would like all of you to know that my church and the Christians in my country are praying that President Bush will be re-elected.'

"I was stunned," said Lair. "I knew that this gathering had to include many pastors from all over the political spectrum and I was certain this would not go over well. Immediately, there were murmurings and rumblings throughout the audience and the MC seemed a little uncertain about what to do next."

However, this pastor would not be denied, Lair said. "Grasping the microphone firmly in, his hand, he continued, 'The officials in my country are afraid of President Bush, so they don't persecute Christians as much. Under Clinton it was very bad for us. Many of us were arrested, put in jail, and some were killed. With Clinton, it was very bad. But under President Bush, it has been so much better, so we are praying for him.'"

So the Uzbekistan pastor did not say that God wanted George Bush re-elected. He didn't even urge the audience to vote for George Bush. He didn't even say that Uzbekistani Christians wanted Bush to win! He just made the factual claims that he and his congregation were praying for George Bush to win, and that this was because they were persecuted more in the Clinton years than in the Bush years.
PS: Your message is being used by the Republican Party already: http://www.ks-ra.org/impactof.htm

Here we see another common idea: what matters about a story is not whether it is true or false-- the truth of the story here is never controverted-- but that it might help Republicans. The implicit moral directive is that Christians should suppress the truth if the truth might change people's votes.

It is not clear why non-Christians should be bothered when Christians are persecuted-- indeed, they might think it a good thing if Christianity is suppressed, and they might like it if that could be done in the U.S. too. But anti-Christianity around the world is a proper concern of American Christians -- as, indeed, it should be for anyone who believes in the general principle of religious toleration. The main difference between Christians and Non-Christians on this point, I hope, would just be that Christians would put greater weight on it relative to more self-interested, materialistic concerns.

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July 25, 2004

Joe Wilson, Kerry, and The Commissar Vanishes

Instapundit says that mention of Joe Wilson has been carefully excised from the Kerry for President website, though he still has a speaking spot at a Nation magazine panel at the Democratic Convention. I wonder if Sandy Berger mentions have been given the same treatment. It reminds me of a very good book, The Commissar Vanishes, about how Stalin kept having to change official documents as he kept on purging Old Bolsheviks. The book has wonderful before and after versions of Soviet pictures. I recall some story-- it must have been just after Stalin died and Beria was killed in the succession fight-- of how all the libraries were sent copies of a new,long, article on the Bering Strait that they were to use to replace the old article on Beria in their encyclopedias.

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July 22, 2004

Berger, Instapundit, and Weblog Advantages

Is Sandy Berger, Clinton's National Security Advisor and until recently one of Kerry's top security advisors, a bumbler, or is he a dangerous criminal? Those are our two choices, which does not say good things about Clinton and Kerry. All the evidence points to "dangerous criminal", and what Berger himself has to say confirms it more than it refutes it.

Instapundit has a great post that shows the value of weblogs, in which he quotes emails from readers. First, though, the story itself about Berger's removal of classified documents. Here's Byron York's summary of the Berger affair:

First, Berger has reportedly conceded that he knowingly hid his handwritten notes in his jacket and pants in order to sneak them out of the Archives. Any notes made from classified material have to be cleared before they can be removed from the Archives --- a common method of safeguarding classified information -- and Berger's admission that he hid the notes in his clothing is a clear sign of intent to conceal his actions.

Second, although Berger said he reviewed thousands of pages, he apparently homed in on a single document: the so-called "after-action report" on the Clinton administration's handling of the millennium plot of 1999/2000. Berger is said to have taken multiple copies of the same paper. He is also said to have taken those copies on at least two different days. There have been no reports that he took any other documents, which suggests that his choice of papers was quite specific, and not the result of simple carelessness.

Third, it appears that Berger's "inadvertent" actions clearly aroused the suspicion of the professional staff at the Archives. Staff members there are said to have seen Berger concealing the papers; they became so concerned that they set up what was in effect a small sting operation to catch him. And sure enough, Berger took some more. Those witnesses went to their superiors, who ultimately went to the Justice Department.

Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds, has a very good roundup of emails from his readers about whether what Berger did was common, sloppy practice in government circles, and whether government workers even know the rules about security. ( Jonah Goldberg at the NRO Corner says he's gotten lots of them too, but, to my disappointment, he doesn't bother to quote them.) To summarize: everybody knows the rules, they are taken very seriously, and Berger had to have known he was breaking the law in a serious way. Here's one example of an email sent to Reynolds:

Just to back up some of your other correspondents. I spent 27 years total in the AF - with a Top Secret clearance. I had at times, specific appended code word clearances, which are controlled on a strict need-to-know basis - because they often involve sensitive sources (say, you are getting data from a mole in the Itanian Gov. - that particular data would be graded TS and then given a code word to further identify it as very sensitive and to restrict access from those with just general TS clearances). In a nutshell, the security system from least classified to most classified was: Confidential, Secret, Top Secret, Top Secret codeword). When we worked on Top Secret codeword (it might read something like Top Secret Fishhook), it was in a vault and our notes were put in burn bags. We were not allowed to take any notes out -period. We clearly understood that you didn't screw around with Secret, much less TS or TS codeword. For us a slip-up meant the slammer. What Berger did is so far removed from accepted security procedure, that I can only see two possible explanations: dishonesty with an ulterior motive (political CYA, I would guess) Or he's crazy. There is no way a veteran in the security business doesn't understand the gravity of walking out with TS codeword data.

and here's another:

I really do not see how the bumbler theory makes any sense, and I highly object to the idea that people who work with very highly classified information simply forget the rules. Only someone who DOES NOT work with very highly classified information could possibly make that charge.

A first advantage of weblogs is that they allow for instant response-- news *and* commentary more quickly than the newspapers and TV can even manage news without commentary.

A second advantage is unbiasedness, in aggregate. There are so many weblogs and it is so easy to start one that the liberal establishment cannot suppress information. Even liberal weblogs will confront awkward facts, because otherwise the more intelligent of their readers will know it-- competition is just too tight.

A third advantage is accuracy. Weblogs can publish corrections instantly,and they can document their claims by linking to other webpages. If they link, readers can check and do their own analysis of the raw data. If they don't link, readers can know to be skeptical. Another part of this is that bloggers have personal reputations to protect. A journalist can jump from one newspaper to another after writing inaccurate stories, and his impact on the credibility of the entire newspaper is small anyway. Instapundit is one person. Moreover, that one person has a real job-- as a law professor-- and if he lies in his weblog it will hurt him in his real job too.

A fourth advantage-- finally coming to the Instapundit-on-Berger example-- is reader feedback. Readers who know more than the blogger can email him and give him information as yet unpublished. Sometimes this will be corrections, going back to my third advantage, but often it will be supplementary information such as the answer to the reasonable question, "Does everybody ignore the rules on removing classified documents, so Berger's offense was not really serious?" Readers of weblogs will know the answer to this, based on convincing evidence from government employees who know what they're talking about. Readers of newspapers will not. Even if a news story purports to answer it, readers will be properly skeptical of bias. In theory a newspaper could do the same thing as Instapundit and publish numerous quotes as evidence, but for some reason--space considerations perhaps-- newspapers don't.

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July 21, 2004

Sandy Berger and Clinton Security Lapses: A History

George Neumayr of The American Spectator has a nice wrap-up of the numerous security breaches of the Clintonites, exemplified best and most recently by former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger's theft of secret documents:

The image of Sandy Berger stuffing notes into his socks at the National Archives conveys the culture of carelessness and corruption under Bill Clinton far better than anything the 9/11 Commission will report. The Commission fails to see that the fundamental explanation for America's porous security before 9/11 is not structural but cultural. Eight years of Clintonian indiscipline exposed America to attack by disciplined terrorists.

America's elite are too enlightened to notice that lax morality produces lax security. But America's enemies are happy to notice even if America's elites won't. Like robbers sizing up a slipshod neighborhood as an easy target, the terrorists saw from the security lapses America casually accepted during the Clinton years that a 9/11 attack was possible.


Recall when ex-bar bouncer Craig Livingstone, elevated to a security position in the Clinton White House by Hillary Clinton, "inadvertenly"(Berger's word for cramming notes into his clothing) lifted 900 FBI files on political appointees from the Bush Sr. and Reagan administrations.


When one of Clinton's CIA directors, John Deutch, inadvertenly took home a CIA-issued computer with top secret information on it, Sandy Berger rushed to his defense, and succeeded in persuading Clinton to pardon him. "Berger and other senior White House officials believed Deutch deserved a pardon even though his home computer security violations were egregious. They cited his overall contributions to the government over many years and the fact that there is no evidence that any of the classified material he mishandled was ever obtained by unauthorized individuals," reported the Washington Post back then.


During the Clinton years, you could always count on a report about something missing, from laptops White House interns lifted to computers and documents untraceable at vital agencies. After the State Department lost a computer once, the Clinton administration explained it away merely as an official forgetting to close a door to a "secure" conference room. When White House officials walked off with hundreds of thousands of dollars of presidential souvenirs from Air Force One at the end of Clinton's term, that was explained away as precedent. When a spy placed an eavesdropping device in the State Department, that too was an accidental oversight. Apparently he just walked through the front door. The FBI reported after the incident that its officials had seen a Russian spy loitering near the Foggy Bottom entrance.

Hazel O'Leary, Clinton's Energy Secretary, had figured out his security ethos early on, and just dispensed with security badges for visitors to nuclear labs. Placing security badges on foreign visitors, she famously explained, was discriminatory. Then it was learned that nuclear secrets had been nabbed by Chinese Communists. Sandy Berger's response? "We're talking about breaches of security that happened in the mid-1980s."

Berger was criticized at the time for being blasé about security lapses and failing to report Chinese espionage at nuclear labs to Congress, and for having gone out of his way to interfere with a Justice Department investigation of Loral Space & Communications Ltd. for an illegal transfer of missile technology to China. Berger's Loral lobbying (the press reported that Loral chairman Bernard Schwartz was one of the Democrats' largest soft-money contributors during 1995-1996, and had hired a former National Security Council spokesman) was successful.

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