Sunday, October 31, 2004


As I've been thinking about the upcoming election, like everyone else who has spent any time analyzing elections as part of their profession, I've been pondering the possible electoral wild cards that might crop up and make a difference. One of the most interesting is the possibility that many Jewish-American voters will pull the lever for Bush. Jewish voters, of course, traditionally vote Democratic. But this year I've heard anecdotal evidence to indicate that many are considering a vote for the President. This morning, Adam Brodsky addresses his fellow Jewish-Americans in blunt language in the NY Post.

On Tuesday, my tribe — the Jews — may blunder big- time, voting maybe 3-1 or more for John Kerry and perhaps giving him the edge. Which raises a simple question: ARE YOU ALL NUTS?

Jews, the old stereotype suggests, earn like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans — that is, for Democrats. Al Gore beat George Bush 4-1 among Jews in 2000. But this election, Jews have more to lose than ever. Sorry, but I need to be shrill: As Ed Koch (a Jewish Democrat backing Bush) said about Jesse Jackson, Jews would be crazy to pull the lever for John Kerry.
Let's face it: A vote for Kerry is a vote for European anti-Semitism. And terrorists. In Iraq . . . and Israel. It's a vote for Hamas and Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. Al Qaeda. And Arafat, if he's alive.

Think that's over-the-top? Then why are all these monsters praying for a Kerry win?
Why, in a new tape, do terrorists threaten to massacre Americans for "electing George Bush" and in another does Osama bin Laden deride Bush specifically? I'll tell you why: Because they fear Bush and see weakness in Kerry. They believe Kerry will defer to terror-appeasing, Jew-hating France. And "negotiate" with terrorists. Certainly, there'll be no more "wrong wars in the wrong place at the wrong time" in their sacred Middle East.

As my mom might warn: Who exactly, my co-religionists, do you think they'll come for first?

Pretty tough stuff. Follow the link to read the rest.


Arnold Beichman writes about the one big idea that President Bush has adopted that is critical for the survival of freedom in the 21st Century.

And the one big thing that Mr. Bush knows is that in a world of democracies we would come as near to world peace as human nature and the nature of interstate relations would allow. For since the first new nation came into existence in 1789, when the U.S. Constitution was promulgated, no democracy has ever fought a war with another democracy. And by democracy I mean, to cite Seymour Martin Lipset's definition, a political system with a peaceful transfer of power and a social mechanism to enable people to influence decisions made by public officials.

Beichman refutes the common criticisms of that point of view by carefully defining when a nation became a democracy (Great Britain was not yet a democracy in 1812, for example). I would argue that even if one could cite an example of a democracy going to war against another democracy it would not negate the claim that the world would be more peaceful if more nations were democratic. Follow the link to read the whole article.

Saturday, October 30, 2004


Lawrence F. Kaplan has a great piece in the Wall St. Journal about the mood in Iraq as we prepare to go to the polls here in the U.S. It appears that many Iraqis are hoping for a Bush win.

As far as Iraqi elites are concerned, President Bush brought democracy to a land that knew only dictatorship. From Sen. Kerry, however, they hear no commitment to build a liberal state or, for that matter, any state. What they hear instead is a presidential aspirant who complains about "opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them down in the United States of America," even as his campaign aides dismiss Iraq's prime minister as an American "puppet."
Not surprisingly, surveys by the Iraqi Center for Research and Strategic Studies find that, whereas Mr. Bush garners the most support in the Kurdish north and from Iraq's well-educated urban elites, Mr. Kerry draws his strongest support from what the Center's Sadoun al-Dulame calls Iraq's "hottest places"--hotbeds of resistance to the U.S. A poll taken earlier this month in Baghdad, for example, finds that while President Bush would win a higher tally in New Baghdad's Christian precincts, Sen. Kerry carries Sadr City hands down.

Follow the link to read the whole column. Kaplan points out that most Iraqis don't care who wins since they are more concerned with day-to-day survival. But there is a justifiable degree of fear that if we reject George W. Bush, how long will it take before we reject his policies?


The Belmont Club has a unique take on the Bin Laden video...

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

An interesting view, but I'll stick with my analysis. I'm convinced that someone who knows about American politics is advising Bin Laden and helped him put together this speech in order to intrude upon the election. I think it's pretty clear that Bin Laden prefers the European approach Kerry will follow over the more aggressive posture of Bush.


Reading excerpts from the Bin Laden video this morning leads me to wonder if he has hired an American political consultant...

He (Bush) adopted despotism and the crushing of freedoms from Arab rulers and called it the Patriot Act under the guise of combating terrorism.....

"We had agreed with the (the Sept. 11) overall commander Mohammed Atta, may God rest his soul, to carry out all operations in 20 minutes before Bush and his administration take notice.
"It never occurred to us that the commander in chief of the American forces (Bush) would leave 50,000 citizens in the two towers to face those horrors alone at a time when they most needed him because he thought listening to a child discussing her goat and its ramming was more important than the planes and their ramming of the skyscrapers. This had given us three times the time needed to carry out the operations, thanks be to God...

Follow the link and read the rest. It's amazing that he should release this tape at this time with this kind of language. It's directed like a laser beam into the US election process, even going so far (like American politicians would) to deny he is trying to take sides.

Friday, October 29, 2004


Follow the link to a breaking story about a news Osama Bin Laden video aired on Al-Jazeera today. He takes credit for the 9/11 attacks and takes some shots at Bush. If this turns out to be authentic it will be the first really hard evidence to surface in quite some time that shows he is still alive. It's also interesting that this should come to light at this time as we head into the last weekend of campaigning for the presidential candidates. This video, combined with the video of Azzam the American, will once again focus the discussion in this country on the war, rather than domestic issues. Scroll down for a link to a Dick Morris column on why he thinks the discussion of the war in the last week of the campaign is helpful to Bush, and may lead to his victory on Tuesday.


Drudge is reporting that there was a screwup at a Bush event at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH today...

Event workers had been told to fire off confetti pods when Bush said, 'God Bless'... his normal closing line. But 5 minutes before the end of his speech, Bush offered a "God Bless" to Arlene Howard, mother of George Howard a Port Authority of New York/New Jersey Police Officer killed in the World Trade Center... BLAM!!!!! Everyone first ducked -- hard -- then looked up to see confetti falling. Bush looked momentarily stunned, then plain unhappy, then just went on with his speech as the confetti rained to the floor of the Verizon Wireless Arena.


Meanwhile, the Associated Press is reporting that Bill O'Reilly of Fox News has settled the dueling sex harassment/extortion lawsuits with his former producer...

NEW YORK - Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly said Thursday he and a former producer of his talk show have agreed to settle their legal dispute over her allegations of sexual harassment, and his accusations that she was trying to shake him down. “This brutal ordeal is now officially over, and I will never speak of it again,” he said on his talk show, “The O’Reilly Factor.” Andrea Mackris, 33, who was a producer on the show, filed a lawsuit against the top-rated TV host Oct. 13, alleging O’Reilly made a series of explicit phone calls to her, advised her to use a vibrator and telling her about sexual fantasies involving her. Earlier that day, O’Reilly, 55 and married with two children, had filed a lawsuit accusing Mackris and her lawyer of trying to extort $60 million in “hush money” to make the case quietly go away. O’Reilly is host of the top-rated prime-time cable news program — and he’s seen his ratings go up by 30 percent since the case was filed. He told his viewers Thursday night, “This matter has caused enormous pain, but I had to protect my family, and I did. All I can say to you is please do not believe everything you hear and read.” Shortly before “Factor” aired, O’Reilly’s lawyer, Ronald Green, issued a statement saying the cases and claims had been withdrawn and all parties agreed there was no wrongdoing by O’Reilly, Mackris or Mackris’ lawyer Benedict Morelli. Morelli did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment. Green’s statement about the settlement did not mention money, and it could not be learned immediately whether it was a factor. “Out of respect for their families and privacy, all parties and their representatives have agreed that all information relating to the cases shall remain confidential,” Green’s statement said. When the accusations began, Green refused to confirm or deny specific things that Mackris claimed O’Reilly said to her, but he said at the time that “Mr. O’Reilly denies that he has done anything that rises to the level of unlawful sexual harassment.” Green also had said he believed there were tapes of conversations between the two and asked a court to compel Mackris to produce them so they could be played publicly. “I know that he does not fear what is on the tapes,” Green said at the time.

Does anyone really believe that O'Reilly didn't do anything wrong (and I don't mean that in a legal sense)? It seems pretty clear that if he hadn't talked dirty or suggestively to her, that is, if he were completely innocent, he would have fought her in court and tried to hammer her for extortion. While this may settle the legal claims, I think his reputation has taken a big hit.


The latest WMUR-TV/UNH Survey Center poll has John Kerry with a narrow lead in New Hampshire. Kerry stands at 50%, Bush at 46%. That's just outside the 3.6% margin of error for this poll. Their last poll, taken earlier in the month, had Bush with a narrow lead. Reading through the numbers, which also show Governor Benson with a narrow lead over Democratic challenger John Lynch, I can only find one area that seems a bit suspect. The survey shows Kerry with a substantial lead in the North Country, 57%-38%. While economic hardship in places like Berlin might explain that number, typically the North Country, like other rural areas in America, is conservative. Coos county went for Bush last time, although narrowly. The numbers relative to the state's entire population might make the disparity irrelevant, however. My gut tells me the result in New Hampshire will be close, but that Bush will prevail.


Former Clinton pollster and consultant Dick Morris predicts a Bush win...

HERE'S a two-part test to determine who will win on Tuesday:

a) Ask yourself: What is the issue we are talking about these days? Are we focused on terrorism and Iraq, or on health care and jobs? The answer is obvious: terrorism and Iraq.

b) Now look at the polls. Not the page that shows who they're voting for. That changes every hour. Look at the page that asks, "Which candidate do you think would do the best job of handling the war in Iraq?"

The answer is always President Bush, usually by 10 points. And right below that, on "Which candidate do you think would do the best job of handling the War on Terror?" Bush leads again, usually by 20 points.

If the issue is terrorism and Iraq, and Bush wins those issues by double digits, then the winner will be . . . voila, Bush!

I will post other predictions as I find them. For what it's worth, I'll post my own prediction on Monday. You're welcome to weigh in with your prediction by clicking on comments.


Victor Davis Hanson is one of my favorite writers, and his piece on the National Review website is truly outstanding. He reminds us again of the immutable nature of war, lest we forget and allow our enemies to defeat us due to our own timidity.

Jihadists are amused that a few American soldiers, worried over their safety, can refuse orders, call 7,000 miles home in anguish, and expect that their complaints, handed over by Mom to the local TV station, will turn up on national cable news before their own commanders in the field even know what is up. A teenaged terrorist with a RPG, being filmed as he is killed, is every bit as an effective soldier through his globally broadcast death than had he lived on to hit his target Humvee with his rocket in the first place. We don't ask, "Which school-builder or power-restorer was he trying to obliterate?" but rather "Why did we have to kill him?"

When the Islamists behead a tearful Englishman or American, it is more likely that his surviving dad or sibling back home will be on television all over the Middle East within minutes damning Tony Blair or George Bush, without a word of censure for the Dark-Age head-loppers. After all, we are not Nepalese who storm the local mosque and put the fear of God into Islamists when they butcher our own. We are more likely to be frightened, turn on ourselves, and condemn some American somewhere who cannot stop "this."

But cannot our self-induced forbearance vanish as soon as we decide enough is enough? Should the American government ignore the EU hysteria, tell Kofi Annan to worry about his son's crooked shenanigans and not Americans' killing terrorists, and simply take Fallujah — as part of a larger effort to correct the laxity of the past and finish the war — then we would surely win. The fallout would be as salutary as our present restraint is disastrous. Like the murderous Pakistani madrassa zealots who flocked to Tora Bora only to be incinerated, Fallujah would not stand as a mecca for the jihadists, but an Armageddon better to watch on television than die in.

The truth is that war remains the same the more it changes. For all the technological gadgetry, foreign landscapes, baffling global communications, and endemic pacifism of the present age, war is still a struggle of the human spirit. The morality, materiel, and technology are all on our side. But we are confused in this postmodern age that such advantages should automatically equate to near-instantaneous and costless victory as they sometimes do in Panama and Serbia — as if the heart of the medieval caliphate next to Syria and Iran, replete with terrorism and a 30-year past of mass murder, is a mere Haiti or Grenada.

Read the whole thing. Someday, probably after the terrorists launch a successful nuclear, chemical or biological strike against us here at home, we will finally gird our loins to wage a real war against them using all our power.


Here is a link to the Fox News website where you can launch the video of "Azzam the American".


The missing explosives story is taking yet another turn as a videotape shot by a Minneapolis TV crew embedded with US soldiers in April of 2003 has turned up. The tape seems to confirm that at least some of the explosives were still locked and under UN seal at that Iraqi depot.

A videotape made by a television crew with American troops when they opened bunkers at a sprawling Iraqi munitions complex south of Baghdad shows a huge supply of explosives still there nine days after the fall of Saddam Hussein, apparently including some sealed earlier by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The tape, broadcast on Wednesday night by the ABC affiliate in Minneapolis, appeared to confirm a warning given earlier this month to the agency by Iraqi officials, who said that hundreds of tons of high-grade explosives, powerful enough to bring down buildings or detonate nuclear weapons, had vanished from the site after the invasion of Iraq.

This story continues to build as additional pieces of evidence get into the public arena. Conclusions, however, are hard to come by as these pieces paint a disconnected picture. Were all the explosives at the depot when the Americans arrived? Some of them? None? If some were already removed, who took them? If the removal happened after the Americans arrived, how was it done without dozens of trucks? The story is complicated even more by the efforts of each campaign team to place the story into their campaign narrative. The Kerry folks want the story to help them make the case that Bush is incompetent, while the Bush folks want it to highlight the dangerous nature of the Hussein regime. In the end, I think it won't change anyone's mind about how they vote, primarily because there doesn't seem to be any definitive conclusion to make as of yet.


I missed it, but last night ABC aired the new terror threat video.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - ABC News on Thursday broadcast a videotape it obtained last week of an English-speaking man who threatens bloody new al Qaeda attacks on the United States, but the network said U.S. intelligence officials could not authenticate the man's voice.
"U.S intelligence officials say while they still cannot authenticate the voice on the tape, it has all the trademarks of an al Qaeda production," ABC News said.
It said the voice of the speaker, identified as "Assam the American," did not match that of any known American al Qaeda suspects.

Follow the link to read the whole story. Now that ABC has done the right thing from a journalism standpoint, let's see if this will have any impact on the electorate. I'll have more on my own thoughts about all of this later today.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Some of you Red Sox fans may have heard about a website that features the front pages of papers from around the country (and the world). This first came to my attention after the Sox beat the Yankees in THE GREATEST COMEBACK IN SPORTS HISTORY. Apparently, the Sox were on a lot of front pages the next morning. Here is the link to the site the day after the Sox won the championship.


Blogger Megan McArdle, who is filling in for Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit, is raising questions about the authenticity of the new terror video Matt Drudge has been reporting on all day.

FURTHER UPDATE: A source at a news organization emails the following:
A CIA spokesperson whom I spoke to mere moments ago was very adamant in saying the ABC terror tape has ``not, not, not, not, not, not, not, not yet been authenticated.'' Thought you might like to know because, thanks to Drudge, a lot of people are getting this wrong.

Meanwhile, Drudge now says ABC withheld a portion of the tape from the CIA,

ABC NEWS withheld portions of an alarming new al Qaeda videotape which warns the next terror attack will dwarf 9/11 from the CIA when they submitted the video for analysis, a top federal source tells the DRUDGE REPORT. The CIA and FBI late Wednesday authenticated the tape, federal sources tell DRUDGE. ABC NEWS has been informed of the government's standing."What took place on September 11 was but the opening salvo of the global war on America and that our Lord willing, the magnitude and ferocity of what is coming your way will make you forget all about September 11," the man, whose face is covered by a headdress, warns in the video. "After decades of American tyranny, now it's your turn to die." ABC NEWS submitted portions of the video threat to the FBI and CIA on Monday for analysis, top government sources tell DRUDGE, after obtaining the tape from a source in Pakistan. A top goverment source said from Washington that ABC withheld the final 15 minutes of the tape from the CIA -- the portion of the tape where the man warns of retribution for Americans electing Bush and Cheney. "You are guilty, guilty, guilty. You're as guilty as Bush and Cheney. You're as guilty as Rumsfeld and Ashcroft and Powell...," the man states. He goes on to warn of an upcoming horror: "The streets will run with blood," and "America will mourn in silence" because they will be unable to count the number of the dead. "People of America, that was the verdict now for the sentencing: as participants and partners in the crimes of the regime, you too shall pay the price for the blood that has been spilled." One ABC source, who demanded anonymity, said Thursday morning, the network was struggling to find a correct journalistic "balance" before airing any story on the video. "This is not something you just throw out there while people are voting," the ABC source explained.

Looking at this from the standpoint of broadcast journalism, it is absolutely imperative that ABC get the video authenticated by a trusted source (in this case the CIA) before they air the report. If they get that authentication and then fail to air the report, I will find that very suspicious in light of how ABC and the other networks have treated these threatening videotapes.


Basking in the warm afterglow of the Red Sox World Series victory (or is that just a fuzzy feeling resulting from too little sleep) I'm in a sports kind of mood today. ESPN has a piece on sports curses, now that the 'Curse of the Bambino' has finally been thrown into the dustbin of history. If you're a sports fan you'll appreciate the tongue-in-cheek list.


Don't take the title of this post as literally directed at you (the stupid part, I mean). But I think this election, like 2000, does boil down to the result in the Electoral College (they all do, of course, but in most elections the Electoral College merely validates what the popular vote indicates). With the daily tracking polls showing Bush leading by only two or three points, and the mainstream polls (generally conducted over three-day periods) all show more or less the same thing, one needs to keep in mind this is a state-by-state contest. There are a number of websites that have Electoral College maps and calculators. The link provided is one of the better sites I've found. The webmaster of the site leans left (so far as I can tell), but the way the site is built makes it easy to see what states are in play. For past election results, check out


Check this out Sox fans...

TOLEDO, Ohio - Count Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts among those Boston baseball fans who have waited a lifetime to see the Red Sox win the World Series. President Bush says he's excited, too. Kerry, wearing a Red Sox cap as he bounded into a morning rally in Toledo, recalled someone phoning a radio show early in the campaign and saying, "John Kerry won't be president until the Red Sox win the World Series." He exclaimed, "Well, we're on our way!"
Not everybody felt that way. Boston pitcher Curt Schilling, interviewed on ABC's "Good Morning America," said, "Tell everybody to vote. And vote Bush next week." Bush congratulated the team's owner and president by phone — and thanked Schilling for his support. The president watched part of the final game Wednesday night as the Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, completing a four-game sweep to win their first World Series title since 1918, said spokesman Scott McClellan. "This is a long time coming and he shares in their excitement at winning the World Series," McClellan said. Kerry said, "I've been rooting for this day since I was a kid. ... This Red Sox team came back against all odds and showed America what heart is. In 2004, the Red Sox are America's team."

I don't know what is more significant in this story, Schilling revealing himself as an avowed Bush supporter or Kerry still trying to convince people that he's a real baseball fan.

OUR FRIENDS THE RUSSIANS was the Russkies all along, was it? So says Bill Gertz in today's Washington Times...

Russian special forces troops moved many of Saddam Hussein's weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation, The Washington Times has learned. John A. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said in an interview that he believes the Russian troops, working with Iraqi intelligence, "almost certainly" removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad.

Very the whole thing.


Matt Drudge continues to follow the terror video story and has the latest....

The CIA and FBI late Wednesday authenticated a disturbing new al Qaeda videotape which warns the next terror attack will dwarf 9/11. "The streets will run with blood," and "America will mourn in silence" because they will be unable to count the number of the dead, a man claims on the video. Further claims on the video: America has brought this on itself for electing George Bush who has made war on Islam by destroying the Taliban and making war on Al Qaeda. ABC NEWS obtained the tape from a source in Waziristan, Pakistan over the weekend. The network has withheld airing it, initially citing concerns over its authenticity. One senior federal official alleged ABC NEWS is now holding back from broadcasting any portion of the video out of fear it will be seen as a political move by the network during election week. One ABC source, who demanded anonymity, said Thursday morning, the network was struggling to find a correct journalistic "balance." "This is not something you just throw out there while people are voting," the ABC source explained. A second ABC source told DRUDGE: "We continue to report this story aggressively."

Follow the link to read the rest of the story as Drudge has more details on the video itself. I don't understand what these guys are talking about when it comes to 'journalistic balance'. What the Hell does that mean? You have a videotape warning of a new terror attack against America. In the past you've reported on these tapes, there existence, some details about them, even airing the videos themselves (or at least portions). Once you've got a definitive verification from a credible source or sources about the tape's authenticity, you run with the story. I can't believe they wouldn't run the story in a second if they thought it would hurt George W. Bush.


Like so many Red Sox fans I'm still stunned and amazed this morning. I first started following the Red Sox closely in 1974. They fell apart that year down the stretch, if I remember correctly. Then came the agony and ecstasy of 1975, 1977, 1978 and on and on. I was in the Army on leave for the 1986 World Series. I remember getting on my knees in front of the TV for that last inning of the 6th game. That game made me a believer in 'the curse'. Even though I am a rational person, a person who does not believe in UFOs or vampires (I don't listen to Art Bell), I do believe in the mystical qualities of baseball. Which is why I believe the way in which this all happened is so significant.

Consider that the Red Sox and Yankees rivalry has reached a new level of intensity following the Yankees victory in extra innings of Game 7 of last year's ALCS. That led to the Sox firing their manager and spending the off-season with two related goals in mind....beat the Yankees and win the World Series. They got Schilling and Foulke and tried to get A-Rod. They Yankees beat them on that one, but that only seemed to intensify the rivalry. Remember, there were scalpers selling tickets for spring training games at outrageous prices because of the insane demand. Every regular season series between the two teams had playoff-level intensity. All the energy of decades of rivalry seemed to concentrate towards one point...the meeting of the two teams in the ALCS.

On a highway overpass, I believe on Storrow Drive in Boston, there is an old sign that says REVERSE CURVE. Some years ago a graffiti artist altered it to say REVERSE THE CURSE. This has since become a rallying cry for Red Sox Nation. When the Sox went down 3-0 during the ALCS, it seemed as if nothing had changed. But consider that what we saw in the series was a reversal, a reverse sweep if you will. The Sox swept the Yankees, not by winning the first four games of a seven game series, but by winning the last four games...a reverse sweep. Consider also that this was the most amazing comeback in the HISTORY OF SPORTS!! One cannot imagine a more devastating defeat for the Yankees. Thus, the curse is reversed. Oh, by the way, it also just so happens that this was the 100th World Series (the Boston American League team...not yet called the Red Sox...won the first one in 1903), the fourth and clinching games was played on the anniversary of Game 7 of the 1986 World Series, and there was a total eclipse of the Moon during the game. Coincidence? I don't think so.

I join the rest of Red Sox nation in congratulating our heroes for getting it done when all those great Sox teams of the past couldn't do it. I also join all those who, like me, have relatives who spent their entire lives waiting for this day and didn't live to see it in expressing my belief that somehow, some way, they know their dream came true.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Other news outlets are doing what we call in the business "advancing the story".

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - ABC News has asked U.S. security officials to examine a videotape it obtained in Pakistan of an English-speaking man threatening a massive attack on the United States in retaliation for its war against al Qaeda, the network said on Wednesday.

A source familiar with the tape -- whose authenticity U.S. intelligence officials have so far been unable to verify -- said it contains a threat that the "streets will run with blood."
Responding to questions about the tape after its existence was first reported by Internet columnist Matt Drudge, ABC News vice president Jeffrey Schneider said the network has not aired the video because its authenticity has not been verified.

Drudge is often disparaged as not being a journalist. This really looks like journalism to me. Read the whole article for more details, or scroll down to the link to the original Drudge story that came out earlier today.


Matt Drudge reports there is another Al-Qaeda terror threat video out there, and ABC News is holding it...

In the last week before the election, ABC NEWS is holding a videotaped message from a purported al Qaeda terrorist warning of a new attack on America, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned. The terrorist claims on tape the next attack will dwarf 9/11. "The streets will run with blood," and "America will mourn in silence" because they will be unable to count the number of the dead. Further claims: America has brought this on itself for electing George Bush who has made war on Islam by destroying the Taliban and making war on Al Qaeda. ABC NEWS strongly denies holding the tape back from broadcast over political concerns during the last days of the election. The CIA is analyzing the tape, a top federal source tells the DRUDGE REPORT. ABC NEWS obtained the tape from a source in Waziristan, Pakistan over the weekend, sources tells DRUDGE. "We have been working 24 hours a day trying to authenticate [the tape]," a senior ABC NEWS source said Wednesday morning, dismissing a claim that ABC was planning to air portions of the video during Monday's WORLD NEWS TONIGHT. The terrorist's face is concealed by a headdress, and he speaks in an American accent, making it difficult to identify the individual. US intelligence officials believe the man on tape may be Adam Gadhan - aka Adam Pearlman, a California native who was highlighted by the FBI in May as an individual most likely to be involved in or have knowledge of the next al Qaeda attacks. According to the FBI, Gadahn, 25, attended al-Qaida training camps and served as an al-Qaida translator. The disturbing tape runs an hour -- the man simply identifies himself as 'Assam the American.'

Drudge is obviously implying that ABC News is holding the tape, not to verify it's legitimacy, but rather to avoid broadcasting something that would give George W. Bush a boost.


Long-time listener and caller Bill Asbell e-mailed this out to local newspapers.

Dear Editor,
John Kerry said the following when he first ran for Congress, “I’m an internationalist,” he told The Harvard Crimson. “I’d like to see our troops dispersed through the world only at the directive of the United Nations.” He has never refuted that statement. In 1984 when running for the U.S. Senate John Kerry made American unilateral nuclear disarmament the key plank of his Senate campaign.

This, when Ronald Reagan was rebuilding our military to put the Soviets out of business. He said about Reagan’s Administration "The defense expenditures of the Reagan administration are without any relevancy to the threat this nation is currently facing." He later said in 1990 that the Reagan Administration was a period of “moral darkness”.

In 1991, when the entire world agreed to ousting Saddam Hussein from his takeover of Kuwait, John Kerry was one of only a handful of Democrats who voted against the use of force, and he said that former President George H.W. Bush was “rushing to war”. He now uses the coalition of 1991 as one he thinks was successful, yet he voted against that action despite the coalition which included his beloved French, Germans and Russians, who are, by the way, not our "allies". They were Saddam's though.

In 1993, after the first World Trade Center bombing, Kerry proposed an amendment to slash $6 billion from the CIA and intelligence budget. He couldn’t get a single other Senator to co-sponsor his amendment, not even Ted Kennedy.

The American people have never elected President someone who, while serving in the military, chose to testify (in uniform) against a war his country was then waging, and who met with agents of the enemy on foreign soil. This is what Kerry did in 1971-73 while men were still being tortured in Hanoi and across North Vietnam being forced to hear him call them "war-criminals". The American people have never elected president someone who voted against an appropriation to support troops fighting in a war he himself had approved. Will they now?

John Kerry is lying daily on the campaign trail, scaring old people and African-Americans, and the lame-stream media gives him a pass. His record however in the Senate and before speaks volumes about how he’s more comfortable insuring that babies die before birth rather than terrorists before they strike. He has contempt for the military, like his good buddy Bubba Clinton had, for the CIA, and for genuine human rights. He claims to be an environmentalist but opposes a wind-farm on Cape Cod that might disturb his beach-front mansion’s ocean view. He doesn’t own any SUVs, “his family does”. He doesn’t give to charity, he prefers to tax others to give to bureaucracies. Kerry will be Jimmy Carter Jr. without the Southern Baptist piety. Have the anti-American Eurosocialists and useful idiots who perpetually want to relive the 1960s finally become 51% of the voting populace. We’ll find out on election day, if Kerry and Edwards’ trial lawyers don’t sue us into the new year when they lose.

Bill Asbell, Dover

Let's just hope the outcome is clear on election night. Let's also hope Kerry isn't a Jimmy Carter repeat or, worse, a repeat of LBJ.

If you would like me to post your comments about the issues of the day, just e-mail me at If I think it's worth posting, I'll put it up (with my comments, of course).


Ralph Peters thinks we are winning in Iraq...

The terrorist stronghold of Fallujah is increasingly isolated. Night after night, precision weapons and raids by special-operations forces kill international terrorist leaders. Terrified, the local troublemakers are trying to play the negotiations card. They know the U.S. Marines are coming back. And this time the Leathernecks won't be stopped short. Allah's butchers are praying that they can bring down our president before terror's citadel falls.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi people have been revolted by the terrorists' barbarities. They may not want U.S. troops in their streets forever, but they do not want to be ruled by fanatical murderers. Kidnapping aid workers and lopping off heads on videotape horrifies decent Muslims. The slaughter of 50 unarmed Iraqi recruits did not win hearts and minds.

Every day, Iraqis are more engaged in defending their own country. Elections are still on track. The suicide bombings continue, but they haven't deterred Iraq's new government. Nor have they been able to stop the Coalition and Iraq's expanding forces from cleaning out one terrorist rat's nest after another.

Muqtada al-Sadr is quiet as a mouse. Najaf is being rebuilt. Two-thirds of Iraq's provinces are quiet. We never see any headlines about our Kurdish allies in northern Iraq — because they're building a successful modern society in the Middle East. Good-news stories aren't welcome in our undeniably pro-Democratic media.

Peters believes the only thing that is keeping the bad guys going is their belief that they can influence the American people to elect John Kerry, which Peters believes would be bad news. Read the whole thing.


Here is a poll that includes some numbers on early voters...

While the 2004 election is locked in a virtual dead heat, for nearly one in 10 likely voters it's all over but the counting: They've already cast their ballots. Nine percent of "likely" voters in the ABC News tracking poll say they've voted for president, either by absentee ballot or early voting, a number that's jumped in the last week. Fifty-one percent say they went for George W. Bush, 47 percent for John Kerry.

The rest of the article has a breakdown of the larger poll, and also tries to mitigate against the impression created by the first paragraph (i.e., that Bush is winning) by saying that early voters tend to be older, more conservative and more Republican.


I've been meaning to post something on the issue of Iran's nuclear program and the possible response of the Israelis. This op-ed piece by Arnaud de Borchgrave in today's Washington Times explains the situation very neatly. The bottom line?

Some ranking European diplomats based in Tehran have told their home governments Iran will pursue its nuclear ambitions as long as Israel remains the only nuclear power in the Middle East. Israel, for its part, long ago concluded its very survival depends on its nuclear monopoly in the region. Hence, its decision to destroy Iraq's nuclear reactor before it went critical in 1981. With 10 percent of the world's oil reserves and oil at $50 plus per barrel, Iran may not be too impressed by the threat of U.S. and European sanctions under counter-proliferation strategies. But these may persuade Iran to opt out of NPT and, like North Korea, go nuclear before the U.S. can figure out how to neutralize its efforts.

My question, which de Borchgrave does not address, is whether electing George W. Bush or John Kerry will make any difference in how this scenario plays out.


The headline actually doesn't reflect the nuanced nature of this story. I was struck by the last paragraph...

But Nazar Judi, a 41-year-old money trader who had his right hand cut off by Saddam Hussein's security forces nine years ago, is squarely in the Bush camp. "I prefer Bush over the other guy because he knows Iraq well," said Mr. Judi, who received a new prosthetic hand from the U.S. Army and was flown to Washington to meet Mr. Bush in person. "I hope he wins his election because he wants to modernize Iraq." A photograph of the American president shaking Mr. Judi's prosthetic hand hangs on the wall of a back room at his Khademiya office. In the front room, however, are portraits of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the vehemently anti-U.S. Iranian cleric, and his successor, Ali Khamenei, the current theocratic ruler of Iran.

Read the whole article to appreciate the full irony of that last bit.


It's already starting:

Democrats in Florida already are pursuing nine election-related lawsuits, accusing state election officials of conspiring to disenfranchise minority voters. Led by the Florida Democratic Party, the People for the American Way, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the AFL-CIO, the lawsuits target, among others, Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, President Bush's brother. The suits say Republican officials refused to count provisional ballots, improperly disqualified incomplete voter registrations, established overly restrictive rules to disproportionately hurt minority voters and actively sought to disenfranchise blacks.

I'm getting a headache.


Here is a pessimistic view of where we are in the war on terror in this morning's NYT. The authors (Daniel Benjamin and Gabriel Weimann) make some points that seem right to me, especially concerning the success of the Islamofascists in tapping into the dark side of Islam.

For the radicals, the fighting has become a large part of a broader religious revival and political revolution. Their discussions celebrate America's occupation of Iraq as an opportunity to expose the superpower's "real nature" as an enemy of Islam that seeks to steal the Arab oil patrimony. "If there was no jihad, Paul Bremer would have left with $20 trillion instead of $20 billion," one Web site declared.

Moreover, the radicals see themselves as gaining ground in their effort to convince other Muslims around the world that jihad is a religiously required military obligation. And the American presence in the region is making the case for fulfilling this obligation all the more powerful... Meanwhile, radicals in dozens of countries are increasingly seizing on events in Iraq. Some Web sites have moved beyond describing the action there to depicting it in the most grisly way: images of Western hostages begging for their lives and being beheaded. These sites have become enormously popular throughout the Muslim world, thrilling those who sympathize with the Iraqi insurgents as they see jihad in action. Fired up by such cyber-spectacles, militants everywhere are more and more seeing Iraq as the first glorious stage in a long campaign against the West and the "apostate" rulers of the Muslim world.

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


No, the title of this post does not refer to the situation in Iraq. It's actually the conclusion about where we are in this country that is slowly taking shape in my mind as we enter the last week of this election cycle. I had hoped that in the last week President Bush would begin to pull away from Senator Kerry as more Americans became familiar with him and his policies and judged them wanting. My second best scenario was that Americans would coalesce around Senator Kerry as the preferable alternative to President Bush, recognizing that Kerry's foreign policy, especially concerning the war, really isn't all that different from the President's. Neither appears to be happening. Bush partisans (and I count myself among them), while many of us find fault with some of his positions and decisions, are solidly with the President. Kerry partisans, while many find fault with either his positions, his style, or both, are solidly with him. Polling seems to indicate very few people in-between. In every society in recorded history, when people are so divided that they see the same facts and draw completely different conclusions, trouble is the result.

Thus, the title of this post....ungovernable. An image is beginning to form of a repeat of 2000, but this time with the specter of a war on-going, with thousands of American troops in harms way, with enemies ready to strike us if they perceive weakness. Furthermore, because of those factors, a repeat of 2000 would be far, far worse. In 2000 we thought the good times would go on forever. We lived in an era of perceived peace and prosperity. Only a small minority of folks were so embittered by the results that they refused to recognize the outcome of the election. In the days following 9/11, George W. Bush enjoyed over 90% job approval. Will the next President, if he wins by the narrowest of margins, if, heaven forbid, he wins the Electoral College but not the popular vote, be able to govern?

This does not seem fanciful to me sitting at my keyboard, watching the news on TV, listening to the radio, reading the polls and the columns and the posts on the internet. Only once in American history did a large segment of the population reject the results of a presidential election. That, of course, was 1860. The election of Abraham Lincoln led to the secession of the southern states and a bloody Civil War. The way we frame our citizenship is very different now. There is no bloc of political leaders who have a ready made answer to the election of an unacceptable President as the leaders of the South did in 1860 when they opted for state secession. But it seems as if passions are certainly running pretty high. It seems the issues we face are nearly as existential as slavery and state's rights. While I don't imagine widespread, large-scale violence in the aftermath of a disputed election, I do expect scorched-earth political tactics in Washington to reach levels we haven't yet seen. Thus, the word ungovernable.

The consequences of such an outcome, assuming you buy into my assumptions, would be survivable if these were ordinary times. Eventually we would have another election. A new, uniting figure would emerge, a Reagan, a Roosevelt, who would tap into the shared vision we have of what America is and should be. But these are not ordinary times. We are at war. Can it be possible that we are witnessing the first evidence, at the seeming height of our power, of America's true decline? I hope I'm wrong. I hope the polls are wrong. I hope Americans swing definitively towards one candidate or the other (preferably the President). If not, the Chinese curse I allude to in the banner of this blog will seem all the more real for our generation.


Here is a blog by pollster Mark Blumenthal that digs deeply into poll results and methodology. He addresses questions concerning sampling error, screening for likely voters, how cell phones impact polling, and on and on. A good place for political junkies to get a slightly different kind of fix.


American Research Group of Manchester, NH has some new state polls out. They show Kerry and Bush in a statistical tie in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Florida - Kerry 49%, Bush 46%
Ohio - Kerry 49%, Bush 47%
Pennsylvania - Kerry 50%, Bush 47%

All of these polls are of likely voters. If these numbers are correct, then we may be about to see a replay of 2000. However, there may also be a problem with polling this year. Scroll down for a link to a Dick Morris piece about polling that appears in today's NY Post.


Matt Drudge continues to follow up on the missing explosives story. His angle is that the media was looking to use the story to torpedo Bush on election eve.


News of missing explosives in Iraq -- first reported in April 2003 -- was being resurrected for a 60 MINUTES election eve broadcast designed to knock the Bush administration into a crises mode. Jeff Fager, executive producer of the Sunday edition of 60 MINUTES, said in a statement that "our plan was to run the story on October 31." Elizabeth Jensen at the LOS ANGELES TIMES details on Tuesday how CBS NEWS and 60 MINUTES lost the story [which repackaged previously reported information on a large cache of explosives missing in Iraq, first published and broadcast widely in 2003]. The story instead debuted in the NYT. The paper slugged the story about missing explosives from April 2003 as "exclusive." An NBC NEWS crew embedded with troops moved in to secure the Al-Qaqaa weapons facility on April 10, 2003, one day after the liberation of Iraq. According to NBC NEWS, the explosives were already missing when the American troops arrived. It is not clear who exactly shopped an election eve repackaging of the missing explosives story. The LA TIMES claims: The source on the story first went to 60 MINUTES but also expressed interest in working with the NY TIMES... "The tip was received last Wednesday. CBS NEWS plan to unleash the story just 24 hours before election day had one senior Bush official outraged. "Darn, I wanted to see the forged documents to show how this was somehow covered up," the Bush source, who asked not to be named, mocked, recalling last months CBS airing of fraudulent Bush national guard letters.

If this is true it once again shows that the media bias we members of the VRWC have been talking about for so long is demonstrably, unquestionably true.


Former Clinton political consultant Dick Morris has it right about why it's impossible to know what will happen in this election.

The difficulties of accurately surveying presidential prospects have become ever more daunting with each new election cycle. The growing difficulties account for the wide fluctuations in survey data.

The main variant in the data relates to the likelihood of a person actually voting. With half of the potential electorate normally forsaking the franchise, pollsters have great difficulty in identifying who will actually participate and weeding out the real voters from those who will stay home.
Most turnout models developed in recent years are predicated on the relatively low turnouts in recent U.S. elections. In 2000, for example, only about half of those who were eligible actually cast ballots. Even in a "high turnout year" like 1992, just 53 percent of the voting-age population actually cast ballots.

But every indication is that this year's turnout will dwarf our recent experiences. With record numbers of new voters coming on the rolls and get-out-the-vote operations generously funded by "independent" political committees released from any effective controls by the so-called campaign-finance reform, participation is likely to soar. The massive funding of these supposedly non-partisan political committees has empowered massive drives to sign up new voters and to generate a high turnout.

The closeness of the 2000 election is generating new voters. With party feelings approaching fever pitch as the election nears and emotional issues like terrorism, gay marriage, recession and the like dominate the campaign, turnout seems likely to be very, very high.

The truth is, no modern pollster really has any idea what to expect if turnout reaches the high 50s or closes in on 60 percent.

Prepare to be shocked and amazed on election night, one way or the other.


Matt Drudge has the latest on the missing Iraqi explosives story. The whole thing has seemed highly political to me since the story broke. It's designed to enhance the most vital Kerry campaign storyline, that the administration has made us less secure due to incompetence.

The NYTIMES urgently reported on Monday in an apparent October Surprise: The Iraqi interim government and the U.N. nuclear agency have warned the United States that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives are now missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations. [The source behind the NYT story first went to CBSNEWS' 60 MINUTES last Wednesday, but the beleaguered network wasn't able to get the piece on the air as fast as the newspaper could print. Executive producer Jeff Fager hoped to break the story during a high-impact election eve broadcast of 60 MINS on October 31.] Jumping on the TIMES exclusive, Dem presidential candidate John Kerry blasted the Bush administration for its failure to "guard those stockpiles.""This is one of the great blunders of Iraq, one of the great blunders of this administration," Kerry said.

In an election week rush:
**ABCNEWS Mentioned The Iraq Explosives Depot At Least 4 Times
**CBSNEWS Mentioned The Iraq Explosives Depot At Least 7 Times
**MSNBC Mentioned The Iraq Explosives Depot At Least 37 Times
**CNN Mentioned The Iraq Explosives Depot At Least 50 Times

But tonight, NBCNEWS reported: The 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives were already missing back in April 10, 2003 -- when U.S. troops arrived at the installation south of Baghdad! An NBCNEWS crew embedded with troops moved in to secure the Al-Qaqaa weapons facility on April 10, 2003, one day after the liberation of Iraq. According to NBCNEWS, the HMX and RDX explosives were already missing when the American troops arrived. "The U.S. Army was at the site one day after the liberation and the weapons were already gone," a top Republican blasted from Washington late Monday. The International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors last saw the explosives in January 2003 when they took an inventory and placed fresh seals on the bunkers.

If the explosives were already missing when US troops arrived it fits into the story I posted last night about an Iraqi plan to fight a guerrilla war after their conventional forces fell to the US-led onslaught. Scroll down for more on "War Plan Orange".


Once again we have an example of a liberal columnist who purports to know something about New Hampshire (and he should as he lives nearby and has visited often...hell, he may even live here, I don't really know), Thomas Oliphant of the Globe giving us an example of Republicans who are going to swing New Hampshire to Kerry.

This drift of moderates away from Bush was epitomized by still another event last week that wasn't supposed to be suffused with politics, but this is New Hampshire in election season. It was the Business and Industrial Association's annual dinner where its "lifetime achievement award" was presented to a true pillar of moderation her, prominent attorney Malcolm McLane.
The Bush surrogate at the affair was chief of staff Andrew Card, who gave the same robotic recitation of "the president in crisis mode" he has been giving for three years. After Card left, McLane brought the nonpartisan crowd to its feet with a typically concise statement that he intended to support Kerry and John Edwards.

For decades, he and his wife, Susan, a tower of liberal Republicanism in the Legislature, have typified the state's vital center. Susan McLane switched parties a decade ago after supporting Bush's dad in 1988. She and her daughter, Manchester attorney Annie McLane Kuster, have published a touching book about the family and its efforts to cope with Susan McLane's experience with the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

As Malcolm McLane puts it, the family has never changed its politics, it is the Republicans' big tent that has moved, not them. I suspect they are at least a metaphor, possibly a harbinger.

The man doesn't even understand how he contradicts himself when he describes Susan McLane as a Liberal, and yet part of the "state's vital center". Excuse me? If one is a Liberal, one is not in the center, one is to the left! I am not in the center, either. Of course since I am a Conservative, Oliphant would never think to characterize me as part of some "vital center" in the state's politics. Good grief!


Here is a suprisingly even-handed overview from the Boston Globe of our close gubernatorial race here in New Hampshire. The latest polls show a mixed picture, although I still think Governor Benson has the edge. As stated in the article, the Democrats have gone back to what is a winning formula for them by nominating someone who says he will veto an income or sales tax. Still, no Governor who ever wanted a second two-year term has ever been denied one in our state's history. Of course, no one down 3-0 in a best-of-seven MLB playoff series ever came back before this year, either.


From the London Telegraph:

The French government said yesterday that it would seek a "new alliance" with whomever won the US presidential election next week. A diplomatic chill has characterized exchanges between Paris and Washington over the past two years as a result of French opposition to the war in Iraq. But the French foreign minister, Michel Barnier, said that the two countries needed to forge a new alliance. This alliance "must be based on mutual respect, which is not allegiance", he said.

Mr Barnier declined to express a preference between President George W Bush and his Democrat rival, Senator John Kerry. His brief remarks on French television indicated both the importance Paris attached to building a better understanding with America, and the likely limitations of any immediate improvement.

I'm reminded of a line from the excellent Civil War movie "Glory", when the character played by Morgan Freeman is awarded the rank of Sergeant-Major he tells his CO, Colonel Shaw (played by Mathew Broderick), "I'm not sure I'm wantin' this Colonel"


This piece from will almost certainly receive little or no play in the mainstream press, but members of the VRWC (Vast Right Wing Conspiracy) will be all over it today. I'm sure it will make the talk radio rounds. In it, the WND reporter describes the discovery of documents that link John Kerry (either knowingly or as a dupe) to efforts by the North Vietnamese to achieve victory over the US.

The first documentary evidence that Vietnamese communists were directly steering John Kerry's antiwar group Vietnam Veterans Against the War has been discovered in a U.S. archive, according to a researcher who spoke with WorldNetDaily. John Kerry testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971. One freshly unearthed document, captured by the U.S. from Vietnamese communists in 1971 and later translated, indicates the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese delegations to the Paris peace talks that year were used as the communications link to direct the activities of Kerry and other antiwar activists who attended.

As Glenn Reynolds would say on Instapundit, read the whole thing.


A very funny column from David Brooks this morning in the NYT, especially if you've ever run into the type.

Monday, October 25, 2004


The Belmont Club is an excellent site for insightful analysis of the war, with lots of historical allusions and links to other analyses. This post compares the insurgency in Iraq with the original plan devised by the US Army to defend the Philippines against Japanese attack in the late 1930s. War Plan Orange called for the US and Philippine forces to retreat to the Bataan Peninsula and hold out until relieved by superior forces from the states. MacArthur didn't have the resources to pull it off in December of 1941 and he made things worse by discarding the plan when the Japanese attacked initially, only to go back to it after he'd lost a tremendous amount of what supplies he had. Did Saddam and his generals create a plan to release all the criminals, seed the populace with special Republican Guards and Saddam Fedayeen, disperse the armaments (primarily in Sunni areas), ship WMD to Syria, and encourage looting and disorder? It makes sense.


Here is the new Franklin Pierce New Hampshire poll. They say the sample actually over-represents Republicans, but the results seem to contradict that. It has Governor Craig Benson and Democrat John Lynch in a tie at 45%, while Kerry leads Bush 50.1% to 41.3%. When I worked for former US Senator Gordon Humphrey when he ran for Governor in 2000 I remember that Franklin Pierce polls significantly overstated Governor Shaheen's lead, as compared to the final result (Shaheen won by just under 4%, as I recall). Take it for what it's worth.


The news of Chief Justice Rehnquist's cancer surgery has caused the usual speculation about vacancies on the court. A thought occurred to me as I was watching the coverage on network news this evening....What if John Kerry becomes President, but the GOP retains control of the Senate? Conversely, what if President Bush is reelected but the Democrats still maintain their ability to filibuster? What, you say those are the only two realistic possibilities? So, if that is the case is it possible that when the next vacancy occurs, which will be soon, no matter who is President the Senate will be thrown into turmoil by a confirmation showdown? Is it not also possible that the Senate will not be able to confirm a new justice? That there will be complete deadlock? I think it is not only possible, but probable. The sides are so divided, something we are seeing played out writ large in the presidential election, that they may not be able to come to some compromise. The only way out of this dilemma, it seems to me, is if the President chooses a Senator to fill the court vacancy. As we saw with Porter Goss and John Ashcroft, it's hard for members of the congressional club, especially the Senate club, to reject one of their own.


Richard Rushfield is a left-wing journalist who decided to pose as a Bush supporter in a heavily Democratic neighborhood and a Kerry supporter in a heavily Republican neighborhood, and then wrote about it. You can guess where he received more flak.


Even though the new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll puts Bush up by 5%, the daily Rasmussen tracking poll now has Kerry in the lead for the first time since August. Once again I admonish everyone to remember that single polls can be thrown out if they don't seem to match any of the other polls. One should stay focused on the trend. Everything seems to be trending SLIGHTLY toward Bush. Rasmussen's sample may have been skewed. We'll watch this one through the remainder of the week. If it continues to show a Kerry lead, or oscillates between Bush up two, even, and Kerry up two, then we can come to some conclusions.


You may have heard President Bush (and many conservative commentators) describe John Kerry's worldview (and that of his allies and supporters) as "September 10th thinking". Many Americans may not quite understand what that phrase means in such a way as to verbalize it, but I think many understand it in an almost non-verbal, emotional way. It describes a way of thinking about our world and America's place in it that changed radically on September 11, 2001. This is the new dividing line in American politics.

The division begins with acceptance of the radical nature of that day. "September 10th thinkers" by definition do not accept that the world changed on that day. Their view of terrorism (which is the conventional wisdom in Europe) is that it is a criminal enterprise, to be dealt with through laws, courts, police, intelligence, and international diplomatic cooperation. They believe that by strengthening international institutions like the UN, the World Court and so on, the civilized people of the earth can deal with the terrorists and reduce their activities to some sort of minimal, acceptable, yes "nuisance" level.

On the other hand, "September 11th thinkers" believe that we face a potentially powerful, existential threat. We believe that the actions of the 9/11 hijackers opened a bold, horrifying new front in a war they have been waging for at least 20 years. The terrorists are not criminals in the traditional sense. They are not out to make money, or satisfy a lust for violence. They are inherently political in that they share an ideology...a view of the world that envisions a re-creations of the Islamic Caliphate of the Middle Ages. Because they have an ideology, they have political goals and objectives. Therefore, they cannot be dealt with the way one deals with criminals. They won't rat each other out for reduced sentences. They won't enter the witness protection program. In fact, they won't respond easily to interrogation under any circumstances. These men see themselves as warriors for God. They will do ANYTHING to achieve their goals.

These two views are, of course, completely incompatible. This is the reason why polling shows the people in the two camps don't even interpret the same facts in a similar fashion. Each sees a very different world through their very different colored glasses. In my heart, I wish the "September 10th thinkers" were right. It would be much easier to believe that the world hasn't fundamentally changed, that there is no existential threat to our lives, our societies, and the lives and futures of our children and grandchildren. But I believe that threat exists. If we fail to deal with it now it will only continue to grow and become more virulent. Using modern communications technology and highlighting the weakness and decadence of America and the West our enemies will recruit tens of thousands of followers. Eventually, corrupt Arab governments will fall and we will be faced with an Islamist sword poised to sever our economic carotid artery (yes, oil). Before that even happens we may be faced with the specter of fanatic Islamist in possession of nuclear weapons.

If we are right, the stakes have never been higher.


This news has the folks at CNN going into political convulsions. What impact will it have on the presidential race? Which side benefits? Wolf Blitzer has a Republican and Democrat spin doctor on right now, so I turned it off. The bottom line is that this will serve as a reminder to people who look at the composition of the Supreme Court as one of their primary issues that, indeed, the next President will get at least one, if not two or three, appointments. The average voter doesn't care much about this stuff. My suspicion is that the only ones paying an awful lot of attention on this are already decided on their candidate. Find the story details by following the link.


Here is one of my favorite web pages. It is from the website. Without a subscription, you can see all sorts of state polling information. It really is shaping up to be a repeat of 2000 if these numbers are right. Averaging a number of state polls together for each state, and calling any lead less than 3 points a tie, we can see Bush leading in Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, Colorado and West Virginia. Kerry leads in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Maine and Oregon. They are tied in Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Arkansas and Hawaii. One striking thing about this is that Hawaii was supposed to be solidly in the Kerry column. Gore won Hawaii 56%-37% in 2000.


Check out the new Zogby poll released today. It shows the President gaining ground, which seems to be the general drift if you look at the other mainstream polls. Zogby has a pretty good track record of getting close to the actual result. What I find most interesting about this poll is that Zogby includes the results from his 2000 polling at this same point in time. With 9 days left Bush led Gore by 3 points (remember that on the last weekend before the election Bush was beset by the revelation of an old DUI arrest which may have led some weak supporters to move out of his column and increased the number of undecideds to break for Gore). So, with 9 days left in this election cycle Bush leads by 3 points. Will undecideds break for Kerry? Scroll down to see a post on that subject.


When I hosted a daily radio show I talked often about the way to look at polls. In this election, perhaps more so than any other in history, we are bombarded by dozens of polls, national polls, state polls, and on and on. When reading these polls one should focus on the average number, not on the specifics of each poll. Thus, you can go to some sites like and get the averages (right now in a three-way race they have Bush at 48.7%, Kerry at 45.8% and Nader at 1.4%). While this would seem to indicate a Bush victory, one needs to dig deeper to properly analyze the situation. Pollster Nick Panagakis of the National Council on Public Polls writes the following about how undecideds behave on election day:

How will undecideds vote on election day? Traditionally, there have been two schools of thought about how undecideds in trial heat match-ups will divide up at the ballot box. One is that they will break equally; the other, that they will split in proportion to poll respondents who stated a candidate preference. But our analysis of 155 polls reveals that, in races that include an incumbent, the traditional answers are wrong. Over 80% of the time, most or all of the undecideds voted for the challenger. In 41 cases, or 32% of the 127, the incumbent ended with less than his stated poll percentage. This means that about one in four of all 155 polls actually overstated the incumbent's percentage. Of the 127 challengers who gained more undecideds than did incumbents on election day, 78 gained 10 or more points over their stated poll percentage. Making allowances for factors stated above, most polls appear to estimate support for the incumbent. All or most undecideds end up with the challenger regardless of the size of the undecideds.

I have heard this stated by polling experts in the past, but this is the first time I've seen it stated by a researcher with the figures to back it up. If this is true, then Bush needs to increase his margin in the polls by at least 2 to 5 more percentage points to pull it out. Of course, what this researcher can't know is whether other factors (like the screening technology that allows many people to avoid calls from pollsters) has altered the sample of people being polled.


The Guardian of the UK has issued an apology(?) for the remarks that seemingly advocated the assassination of George W. Bush by one of it's columnists (scroll down for the link to the whole column I posted over the weekend).

The final sentence of a column in The Guide on Saturday caused offence to some readers. The Guardian associates itself with the following statement from the writer.

"Charlie Brooker apologises for any offence caused by his comments relating to President Bush in his TV column, Screen Burn. The views expressed in this column are not those of the Guardian. Although flippant and tasteless, his closing comments were intended as an ironic joke, not as a call to action - an intention he believed regular readers of his humorous column would understand. He deplores violence of any kind."


According to this article from the National Review, a group of political scientists have published their predictions for the upcoming election. They predict a Bush victory, at least through an analysis of the total popular vote.

The authors and co-authors of the seven models include: Alan I. Abramowitz of Emory University, James E. Campbell of SUNY-Buffalo, Robert S. Erikson of Columbia University, Thomas M. Holbrook of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Michael S. Lewis-Beck of the University of Iowa, Brad Lockerbie of the University of Georgia, Helmut Norpoth of Stony Brook University, Charles Tien of Hunter College, and Christopher Wlezien of Nuffield College, Oxford University.

As Professor Campbell notes in an introductory essay, most of the models share some common features. First, they generally incorporate some measure of public opinion toward the president, such as job approval, into the model. Second, most use measures of the pre-election economy to help generate predictions. Finally, many of the models incorporate some measure of "incumbency advantage" as a part of their prediction.

While all the models diverge after this point in terms of the variables they include to generate predictions, each spits out a percentage of the two-party vote for President Bush. Here are the results, with each scholar listed next to the percentage of the vote he predicts President Bush will win:

Abramowitz: 53.7 percent
Campbell: 53.8 percent
Wlezien and Erikson: 51.7-52.9 percent
Holbrook: 54.5 percent
Lewis-Beck and Tien: 49.9 percent
Lockerbie: 57.6 percent
Norpoth: 54.7 percent
Median Forecast: 53.8 percent

You can read the whole thing by following the link. One of the problems with these models, like any model of human behavior, is that it relies on making the correct assumptions about who turns out and whether or not those that do turn out will repeat past behavior patterns. The author points out that these same guys predicted a substantial Gore win in 2000.


Read the following op-ed piece from today's Boston Globe. These people don't even understand the sickening irony of the phrase 'peace with honor', even though they seem to understand that the policy itself was a lie. It was not 'peace with honor', it was defeat. And yet, that is exactly what these people advocate in Iraq.

In the end, the war in Vietnam became exactly what the North Vietnamese propaganda machine had always (at first wrongly) claimed it to be: an antisocial war. It became a war that pitted the US military against the people of another country. Whatever the justice of the original mission, the character of the war changed, and it became an unjust war. President Johnson, to his credit, refused to preside over the continuance of that war.

It fell instead to President Nixon to manage "peace with honor": declaring a US victory and then abandoning South Vietnam to its own compromised resources. This is now the Bush administration's best course in Iraq. The only other remaining policy option is to expand military service, and if history is any guide, providing security in Iraq will require an army of at least a million soldiers. Unfortunately, due to the more widespread and intensified threat we now face, a future Bush administration may attempt to do both.

Read the rest of it by following the link.


The following link is to a story in the Weekly Standard about the activities of John Kerry as a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War and the deliberate (and understandable) obfuscation being conducted by his campaign today relative to those issues. More evidence that bringing up Vietnam might do more harm than good.


The open letter posted below alludes to a picture of John Kerry hanging in a Vietnamese museum. Here is a link to a story about that picture.


My friend and long-time listener and caller Bill Asbell forwarded this to me. I have checked out the author and he appears to be legitimate. I've thought from the beginning of this campaign that using Vietnam as the centerpiece of his campaign might do Kerry more harm than good, not necessarily because of what Kerry did or did not do while in Vietnam but for what he said and who he associated with after the war.

Open letter to Vietnamese-Americans, Vietnam and other Veterans concerning the upcoming elections From Mike Benge Former VN POW, '68-73.

Many people including Vietnamese-Americans, Vietnam and other Veterans and others, especially the younger generation, know very little about the Vietnam War. Even the Vietnam Veterans by and large knew little more than a microcosm of what was going on other than their little part of "Hell." Almost everyone has seen the picture of the South Vietnamese General summarily executing a Viet Cong, but was never told that this VC was part of a special assassination unit that had just finished cutting off the legs of the dependents, wives and children, in the police barracks just down the street, who smeared on the wall in blood: this is what happens to American imperialist collaborators. All to many know little more than what they may have seen mis-portrayed in movies such as "Apocalypse Now" or editorialized in TV portrayals or books, even school text books, that are often more fiction than fact. Few know the real Senator John Kerry who is aspiring to be President. During the Easter Campaign in 1972, after American combat troops had pulled out of Vietnam, the Army of South Vietnam fought gallantly against the North Vietnamese communist army, defeating them in battle, and driving them in defeat back to North Vietnam and their sanctuaries in Laos. However, because of John Kerry's appalling testimony before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 1971 in which he falsely charged that all U.S. troops in Vietnam were war criminals, Senator Ted Kennedy was able to persuade the Senate to cut off all future funding for Vietnam. Therefore, there was no money to purchase ammunition, bombs or parts to repair any equipment necessary to continue the war and ward off the North Vietnamese army that led to the fall of Vietnam to the communists in 1975.Kerry was spokesman for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), and largely based his testimony on fabrications by VVAW members who had either not been in the military, or if they had been had not been in Vietnam, or if they had been in Vietnam had never been in combat. John Kerry also stated that the Vietnamese people didn't care if they lived under democracy or communism, and they would probably be better off under communism. He went on to say that if the communists took over Vietnam, at most, only a few hundred South Vietnamese would be killed. The North Vietnamese communist government (NVG) signed the Geneva Conventions on the Treatment of Prisoners of War in 1957, yet it grossly violated all provisions of the Convention by starving, torturing and murdering not only American military POWs, but civilians as well. The communists also committed the same atrocities against thousands of South Vietnamese POWs, as well as any third-country allies who happened to fall in their clutches. [I know this from first hand experience having been a civilian POW of Hanoi for 5 years, including spending time in "tiger cages" and in their less than luxurious prisons in Hanoi including Hoa Lo prison - the Hole of Fire, aka the Hanoi Hilton.] When the communist North Vietnamese retreated after being defeated in the battle for Hue that ended Feb. 24, 1968, they took with them over 3,500 South Vietnamese POWs, soldiers, civil servants as well as their wives and children, including three German Doctors working at the University of Hue. All were systematically murdered and buried - 20 to 40 bodies to a grave. The bodies showed clear evidence of atrocity killings: groups of bodies tied together, each with hands wired or tied with bamboo strips behind backs, rags stuffed in mouths or plastic bags tied over their heads, with many of the bodies contorted but without wounds (indicating being buried alive). Right after my captured during the TET Offensive in 1968, North Vietnamese officers, in order to impress me of their seriousness, staged a "kangaroo court," a mock trial, in a leper colony, where they had 15 Montagnard ethnic minority teenagers, with their hands wired behind them, kneeling on a bamboo platform, accusing them of being counter-revolutionaries. Communist cadres were dispersed among the lepers and when asked by the officer staging the trial what should be done with them, the cadre began shouting, "Kill them! Kill them!" The lepers afraid for their lives were urged by the cadres to join in the condemnation, a freak-out show that would make Francis Ford Coppula proud - then a NVA officer walked up behind them, executing a coup de grace, shooting each teenager in the back of the head. Probably less than 100 people remember, and less than a dozen saw the pictures of, what happened when the North Vietnamese soldiers overran a Stieng ethnic minority village in Tay Ninh Province in 1967 and systematically fried the men, women, children and babes in arms with flame throwers -- turning the entire village into charred corpses. Apparently the North Vietnamese atrocities made no impact on the mind or conscience of Senator John Kerry, for he made no agonized outcry. He never led demonstrations at North Vietnamese embassies or consulates. No, instead, John Kerry led demonstrations in Washington, DC, marching under the Viet Cong flag, and regurgitated falsehoods before the Senate Foreign Relations, and betrayed his "band of brothers" calling them all "war criminals." And John Kerry dishonored those dead Americans whose names are on that cold black granite wall in Washington, DC - The Vietnam Memorial - who died fighting for freedom and democracy for the Vietnamese people. John Kerry testified that American Servicemen in Vietnam committed atrocities, reminiscent of Genghis Khan, and the acts were "not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command." Who Kerry was describing was the Vietnamese communists, not American soldiers. On April 18, 1971, Kerry appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" stating "Yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities…" Whether this was a mea culpa by Kerry, only he knows.Instead of punishment for war crimes, through the intense advocacy efforts of presidential hopeful John Kerry, the communist killers and torturers were rewarded with favorable diplomatic and trade relations that have allowed them to line their pockets with gold and fatten their offshore bank accounts from ill-gotten gains. As a Senator John Kerry has fought harder for the Vietnamese communists since his return than he ever did against them during his short four months in Vietnam as a Swift Boat commander. In 2001, Kerry single-handed prevented the Vietnam Human Rights Act from going to the floor of the Senate for a democratic up or down vote after passing the House 410-1. John Kerry gave aid-and-comfort to the enemy, and his actions after coming back from Vietnam prolonged the war instead of shortening it, causing the unnecessary deaths of over 2 million Vietnamese and 3 million Cambodians, and hundreds of thousands Laotians. General Vo Nguyen Giap, the North Vietnamese general, the architect of the military campaign that finally drove the U.S. out of South Vietnam in 1975, is cited as crediting Presidential aspirant John Kerry and his VVAW with helping them achieve victory. In Giap's 1985 memoir about the war, he wrote that if it weren't for organizations like Kerry's Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Hanoi would have surrendered to the U.S." Giap was quoted as saying, "What we still don't understand is why you Americans stopped the bombing of Hanoi. You had us on the ropes. If you had pressed us a little harder, just for another day or two, we were ready to surrender! It was the same at the battles of TET. You defeated us! We knew it, and we thought you knew it. But, we were elated to notice the media were definitely helping us. They were causing more disruption in America than we could in the battlefields. Yes, we were ready to surrender. You had won!" John Kerry's picture hangs in the Vietnamese communist's war museum (formerly called the War Crimes Museum) in Saigon (now called Ho Chi Minh City), in which he is immortalized in tribute to aiding the communists in winning the war. America went to war in Vietnam for the right reasons, fighting for freedom and democracy for the Vietnamese people and history has proven this fact. However, because of the likes of John Kerry, the United States abandoned the Vietnamese people to the brutal fascist Vietnamese communists. In his campaign, John Forbes Kerry heralds his military record as a badge of honor in his campaign; only after coming home, he desecrated it -- That's not what a hero does. John Forbes Kerry does not deserve the respect of Veterans, nor their vote, or the vote of Vietnamese Americans who value honor over deceit. Don't let the United States once again betray the Vietnamese people by electing John Kerry as President.

Michael Benge spent 11 years in Viet Nam, over five years as a Prisoner of War-1968-73. While serving as a civilian Foreign Service Officer, he was captured in South Viet Nam by the North Vietnamese and held in numerous camps in South Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos, and North Viet Nam. He spent 27 months in solitary confinement and one year in a "black box." For efforts in rescuing several Americans prior to capture, he received the State Department's highest award for heroism and a second one for valor.

Sunday, October 24, 2004


Read this piece from the Guardian of the UK. I think it is representative of much of the European Left (and the American Left for that matter). The only difference is that most of the American Left is not advocating Bush's assassination (yet).


After sleeping late following the Red Sox victory over the Cardinals in game one of the World Series, I've finally had a chance to do my morning reading. A number of interesting columns, including Tom Friedman of the NYT and Michael Barone of US News (find Friedman at and Barone via a link from Friedman's column highlights a sickness in the Arab world that is helping to drive this war we are in, and Barone writes about the close election. I'v provided a link, though, to perhaps the most disturbing column of the day by the Boston Globe's token conservative, Jeff Jacoby. I believe he is correct about the general ignorance of most Americans when it comes to political issues. My explanation for this ignorance is that in our complex world most people only have the time and energy to become informed, even expert, about those things that pertain directly to making a living. It's not that the average American is stupid, it's that he doesn't have the time or inclination to get fully educated on political issues. Stop anyone on the street and ask what he or she does for a living. Then ask them questions about what they do. You'll no doubt get intricate answers about selling on the futures markets, Admiralty Law, or how to properly service an oil furnace. Only people who make a living at politics, or covering politics, can give you in-depth answers about health care policy, etc. Still, even if my explanation is the correct one, it doesn't change the fact that this generalized ignorance allows politicians to get away with all sorts of distortions. I wish I had a better answer.

Saturday, October 23, 2004


Here is an opinion piece from Great Britain that says it all about the stakes of our presidential election. I found this via a great website called


Lenin said capitalism would fall because, among other reasons, the capitalists would sell him the rope necessary to hang them. Read this article from the Washington Times about the hate-filled propaganda of our enemies and the fact that a company in New Jersey hosts their website.


The case of Margaret Hassan illustrates perhaps better than anything else that has happened so far the true nature of our enemies. I have provided a link to the Washington Times article this morning for the latest news on her status. This is a woman who has spent her entire life helping Iraqis. Yet the barbarians that are holding her are threatening her with execution and forcing her to make these videotapes, weeping, pleading for Britain to withdraw its troops. I, for one, cannot in good conscience back any policy other than total war against these barbarians. I, for one, cannot vote for any leader that would not wage total war against them. While I still believe George W. Bush COULD do more, I find it impossible to believe that a liberal senator from Massachusetts (where I grew up and lived for many years) WILL do more. Furthermore, the reaction of the Labor party in Britain as described in the article is illustrative of the mindset of those on Kerry's side of the aisle. Rather than reacting with outrage at the barbarians who have taken this woman hostage, they blame Tony Blair and George Bush. The barbarians aren't just at the gates, they may already be inside them.


I'm not sure I agree with everything in this column, but Brooks usually has a good handle on what's going on, and it's definitely worth reading.

Friday, October 22, 2004


The death this week of Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove while she was in a crowd of young people celebrating the Red Sox victory over the Yankees will bring into sharp focus a trend not followed by many people outside the law enforcement community. That is the use of so-called non-lethal weapons, primarily designed to deal with crowd control. At this time local authorities are investigating the incident, but local media reports indicate that she was killed after being struck in the eye by a plastic pepper spray dispenser, a marble-sized ball designed to be fired at a person's chest, shatter on impact, and dispense the spray to disable the target. As the son of a police officer, and the brother of another, I have a great deal of sympathy for the officer who fired the projectile that killed the young woman. He will be haunted by it for the rest of his life. I also understand that the situation must have been chaotic, with thousands of fans in the streets, some climbing lamposts, others setting fires and overturning cars. Witnesses say the officer fired in the direction where he thought a bottle had been thrown from, which landed at the feet of his horse. But what I think we must understand is that these so-called non-lethal weapons are still projectile weapons and, in that sense, are of the same character as the firearms we all know are deadly. When a projectile is fired at soft tissue faster than a human being could throw it, then common sense says bad things can happen. In fact, baseball fans know that a certain kind of projectile (a baseball) thrown by a certain kind of person (a major league pitcher) hitting just the right spot can kill a man. Police officers know that when they fire their weapon they may kill someone. They are trained extensively in the appropriate use of that weapon. Are they trained as extensively with the relatively new non-lethal weapons? Are they told that when they fire the weapon someone could die? Perhaps not. I suspect the manufacturers of these weapons vigorously market their supposed non-lethality. My guess is that when they demonstrate the weapons they emphasize how cool it is that you can now fire at someone and disable him without permanent injury or risk of death. Hopefully, this tragic incident will cause law enforcement officials to re-examine these new weapons. Certainly they have value. But, in my view, police officers may need to be trained to regard these weapons more in the way they look at their traditional sidearms, with a lethal mindset.


Amidst all the noise emanating from the punditocracy over the last few months as this election cycle grinds on to its conclusion one hears a question regarding scenic New Hampshire; Why is George Bush trailing in an overwhelmingly Republican state? The answer may be difficult to find for many of the mainstream press whose experience of our little state is limited to their week-long stay (mostly in Manchester) every four years. But for us locals, the reasons seem pretty clear. While it is true that New Hampshire's State House has been dominated by Republicans for over a century (the House of Representatives has not had a Democratic majority since the 19th Century, and the State Senate was run by Democrats only for two short periods in the 20th), and the congressional delegation sees a Democrat only from time-to-time, what is missed by many of the so-called experts is the make-up of many of our Republicans. Conservatives in this state call many of their fellow Republicans RINOs, which stands for "Republican in Name Only". These are folks who are intellectually quite close to the Bill Clinton-John Kerry ideology when it comes to Foreign Policy, and oftentimes on Domestic issues as well. Many consider themselves old-fashioned Rockefeller Republicans. Some are turned off by the Christian Right (their term), others by the Newt Gingrich-style Conservatives who would cut the size of government (their view). Their existence makes any analysis of this state using voter registration figures that indicate party identification problematic at best. Outsiders typically make judgements about New Hampshire politics because of the larger-than-life personalities that have walked throught the state's history. Governor Mel Thompson, Union Leader publishers Bill and Nacky Loeb, Pat Buchanan, and so on. None of these folks ever represented the majority of the state's citizens (except Mel Thompson, and that was over 20 years ago), and certainly not all Republicans. New Hampshire is a state that now reflects the rest of the nation. Bitterly divided over the war in Iraq, social issues like abortion, and tax and spend policies on the Federal level. Granite Staters continue to send people to their legislature and to the Governor's office based on a few bed-rock local issues, most importantly the presence or absence of a state income tax. The only Democrat to hold the Governor's office in the last 20 years, Jeanne Shaheen, did so because she opposed a state income tax. The current Governor, Craig Benson, won an overwhelming victory two years ago because, as an anti-income tax candidate, he faced an avowed income tax supporter. The Democrat candidate for Governor this year, John Lynch, is giving Benson a run this year only because Lynch doesn't support an income tax and lots of folks don't care much for Benson (I still think Benson will win, though). The bottom line....throw out the party-identification numbers. While Bush will still win a sizeable number of Republicans, many will vote for John Kerry, while almost all Democrats in this state will go Kerry's way. Voter turnout and how Independents vote will make the difference here. Right now, all the polling suggest a close race with a slight advantage for Kerry. George Bush may need some reverse coattails from Governor Benson. Unfortuntately for the President, Benson's campaign hasn't yet provided them. With two weeks to go, it still looks like John Kerry will win New Hampshire.


During the last few years it's become popular to criticise the presidential election process in this country as rancorous and mean-spirited. Self-important guardians of the public taste take to the television airways and explain how the American people are turned off by the attack ads and the harsh rhetoric. They talk of a divided America in tones that suggest they believe it may lead to the country's downfall. For those whose knowledge of U.S. Presidential elections is limited to within living memory, this is at least partially understandable. But spend a little time researching American political history in the late Nineteenth Century and one quickly discovers that the divided America today and the resultant politcal brawling is like a church supper in comparison.
So you think George W. Bush was see-lected, not ee-lected? Then you would love the 1876 campaign. The Democrats were called the party of treason as Republicans "waved the bloody shirt" of the Union war dead to deny them votes. It didn't work as Samuel Tilden defeated Rutherford B. Hayes by more than 250,000 votes, but was denied the Presidency when disputes about the validity of the electoral votes of South Carolina, Louisiana and, yes, Florida led to a Congressional Committee awarding the election to Hayes by an Electoral College vote of 185 to 184..
How about 1880? Hayes declined even to seek the re-nomination of his party. A fractured GOP took 36 ballots at their convention (those were the days when political conventions actually decided things of importance) to nominate James Garfield who went on to defeat Democratic nominee Winfield Scott Hancock by only 1,898 votes out of over 9 million cast (although the Electoral College margin wasn't that close - 214 to 155). It didn't work out very well for the unfortunate Garfield who was later assasinated by a deranged office-seeker. His Vice-President, Chester Arthur, served out his term.
What about 1884? President Arthur couldn't get the GOP nomination and one of America's most famous Republicans at the time, General William Tecumseh Sherman, didn't want it. (When asked about the nomination Sherman uttered one of the most famous lines in American political history, "If nominated I will not accept. If elected I will not serve.") The Republicans settled on James Blaine of Maine who squared off against Grover Cleveland in a campaign marked by charges of corruption and bribery (against Blaine) and fathering an illegitmate child (against Cleveland). Cleveland won by less than 26,000 votes out of over 9.5 million cast. (During the campaign Cleveland supporters were met by shouts of "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa?". After the victory exultant supporters finished the ditty with "Gone to the White House...Haw....Haw...Haw!").
The Electoral College decided the contest again in 1888. The GOP nominated Benjamin Harrison to take on President Cleveland. While Cleveland again won a narrow margin in the popular vote, beating Harrison by more than 95,000 votes, the Republican secured the victory in large part because Cleveland's Tammany Hall enemies in New York swung that states 34 electoral votes to Harrison. Cleveland got his revenge in 1892 when he defeated Harrison in the rematch, winning the popular vote by over 350,000 and securing a 132 electoral vote margin of victory.
What is to be learned by all of this? The rough and tumble politics of late Nineteenth Century America that led to so many close elections (and twice to Presidents elected without benefit of victory in the popular vote) resulted from real divisions in the body politic. The United States had just fought a bloody civil war and the politics of that war and it's aftermath dominated the era. The country was also facing radical economic change and an unprecedented level of immigration which would, in time, change the face of American culture. There were major social reform movements that gained prominence in that era, from the drive for universal public education, to the enfranchisement of women, to the prohibition of alcohol. During that time African-Americans gained their civil rights, and lost them again. The conquest of a continent concluded with the official closing of the frontier in 1890. Americans began to look across the oceans for the satisfaction of their imperial ambitions.
Questions of great consequence lead to divisions of great significance. Weighty issues often lead to violent conflict. The true greatness of the American system is that far more often than not, we answer our great questions and resolve our weighty disputes inside the political system created by those dead white males some of us still call the Founding Fathers. Only once in our history have we resorted to massive violence to solve a political dispute. So while you may still be disgusted by the virulent rhetoric, the charges and counter-charges, the attack ads and the psuedo-scandals, try to keep it all in perspective. If we survived "Ma, Ma...where's my Pa?", I think we can handle "Unfit for Command" and "Farenheit 911".