Tuesday, November 30, 2004


As Ukraine teeters on the edge of civil war, I am struck by the fact that so many of us haven't been paying any attention to the on-going reversion to autocratic rule that has been happening in Russia. The new Czar, now called President Putin, has consolidated his power and has increasingly turned his attention to the former Soviet republics (and former provinces of the Russian Empire) in his effort to restore Russia to Great Power status. Michael Gove writes in the Times of London about this trend.

Putin's distaste for democracy does not end at Russia's borders. Indeed, his borders don't even end at Russia's borders. Russia's leadership has consistently tried to forestall, undermine and crush democratic movements in its near-abroad. It has troops on the far western border of Ukraine, policing the gangster state of Trans-Dniester, a breakaway territory which has consistently undermined the integrity of the Romanian-speaking republic of Moldova. Russia has also supported secessionist movements in Georgia and Azerbaijan, in an effort to undermine the independence of those former Soviet republics. Additionally, Putin has provided backing for those former communist leaderships, such as Alexander Lukashenko's in Belarus, which have been happy to reject democratisation and cluster under Moscow's umbrella.

In Ukraine, Putin is trying all his old tricks. He has signaled his backing for the anti-democratic strongman, Yanukovych, even campaigning for him during the election. Russia's military strength in the region has been not-so-subtly advertised. And, unsurprisingly for any student of the Putin manual of state subversion, secession of one half of the country has been floated.

These manoeuvres reflect Putin's background and ideology. Although raised in the Soviet system, and using tactics to destabilise and control neighbours which were familiar to Stalin, it would be wrong to think of Putin as a born-again communist. He is instead heir to an older, continuing, tradition in Russian politics. As a former KGB man, who has surrounded himself with other old comrades from the bureau, he is a believer in the rule of an enlightened elite of grimly efficient patriots who will safeguard Russia from the corruption of Western thought and the consequent risk of disintegration. From the Tsarist Okhrana through Lenin's Cheka to the KGB and today's FSB, there has existed among Russia's secret police elite a determination to maintain Great Power status by ensuring the state is not debilitated by liberalism.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, November 29, 2004


Mackubin Thomas Owens writes about the military strategy in Iraq in The Weekly Standard. He again reminds us to ignore the media coverage.

Critics are asking what the operation in Falluja really accomplished. They note that the insurgents' leaders appear to have escaped and that violence has erupted elsewhere in northern Iraq. Media accounts also routinely describe the fighting outside Falluja as a "rebel counteroffensive" that surprised the U.S. military, implying that the reduction of Falluja merely created more insurgents. But the view conveyed by these headlines is myopic. An equivalent headline in June 1944 would have read: "Massive U.S. Casualties on Omaha Beach; Hitler's Reich Remains Intact, Defiant." Such stories fail to place Falluja, Mosul, Tal Afar, and other cities in northern Iraq in context. The fact is that Falluja is part of a campaign, a series of coordinated events--movements, battles, and supporting operations--designed to achieve strategic or operational objectives within a military theater. Falluja is just one battle, albeit an extremely important one, in a comprehensive campaign to stabilize the Sunni Triangle.

Follow the link to read the whole article.

Sunday, November 28, 2004


Charles Krauthammer has it right about Iraq...

IN 1864, 11 of the 36 United States did not participate in the Presidential election. Was Lincoln’s election therefore illegitimate? In 1868, three years after the security situation had, shall we say, stabilized, three states (not insignificant ones: Texas, Virginia and Mississippi) did not participate in the election. Was Grant’s election illegitimate? There has been much talk that if the Iraqi election is held and some Sunni Arab provinces (perhaps 3 of the 18) do not participate, the election will be illegitimate. Nonsense. The election should be held. It should be open to everyone. If Iraq’s Sunni Arabs — barely 20 percent of the population — decide they cannot abide giving up their 80 years of minority rule, ending with 30 years of Saddam’s atrocious tyranny, then tough luck.

I absolutely agree. Perhaps the specter of the Shiites and the Kurds making decisions without them will get reasonable Sunni leaders to make a greater effort to curb the Sunni-based insurgency. Read the whole thing, as they say in the blogosphere.


Follow the link to a NY Times story that gives some background o the Wisconsin hunter murders. The alleged shooter is a Hmong, part of a large community of Hmong who have settled in the St. Paul, Minnesota area. While the article focuses on the cultural divide between Hmong and the largely White, Northern-European descended folks of that part of Wisconsin where the shootings happened, it does not shed any light on the specifics about the lives of the victims and the life of the alleged shooter. Apparently, he was a former member of the Army National Guard who emigrated to the US 24 years ago and is a naturalized citizen. There is some question as to whether the white hunters used racial slurs against him and, more importantly, whether they fired first.

The article is worth reading, though, for it's examination of a little-known subject, the removal of the Hmong from Laos by the US government because they were our allies against the Communists and faced persecution after our withdrawal from Southeast Asia, and how they are faring in their process of integration into American life.

Saturday, November 27, 2004


This is not a surprise...

MOSUL, Iraq, Nov. 26 - American troops have discovered 32 bodies here in the past two days, the latest sign that insurgents in the north are increasingly focusing their efforts on killing and terrorizing vulnerable Iraqis, especially those working with American forces. Seventeen bodies were found Friday, after 15 were discovered Thursday, according to a military spokesman here. In the past eight days at least 65 bodies have been found, and one American commander says more than 20 have been confirmed as members of the new Iraqi security forces. No identification has been made of the newest bodies or whether they were Iraqi soldiers or national guardsmen, said the spokesman, Lt. Col. Paul Hastings. But he called the new killings part of the insurgents' "campaign of fear, intimidation and murder, and doing whatever they can to disrupt operations here." Many of the bodies found Friday were strewn about a cemetery in western Mosul, said First Lt. Eric Joyce. Some had been shot in the head, and one was decapitated, he said. The bodies appeared to be of men between 25 and 35 years old, Lieutenant Joyce said. Five were shrouded with blankets; four others, all shot in the head, were face down. Most of the bodies were bloated, "so you know they'd been dead for a while," he said. "But a couple were brand-new. You could see the fresh blood."

In recent weeks, insurgents in Mosul have had little luck attacking American troops head on, as their rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and roadside bombs typically do little damage to the 19-ton Stryker light armored vehicles that the Americans have been using in the city.
Instead, the insurgents have settled on a gruesome alternative intended to destabilize and terrorize, focusing their efforts against the one thing Americans have counted on as the linchpin of an exit strategy from the country: the new Iraqi security forces. The insurgents are picking their fights carefully while taking refuge, commanders believe, in places like Old Mosul, an ancient district in the city center. Its narrow, twisting streets and alleyways make it a perfect place for insurgents to stage hit-and-run strikes and then blend in among the district's 500,000 residents, all packed into a single square mile. Insurgents are abducting Iraqi troops at taxi stands as they return from leave and seek transportation to bases in northern Iraq, the commanders say. And infiltration of the new security forces remains a major concern. Three Iraqi soldiers were recently detained for collaboration with insurgents; one was caught at an illegal checkpoint helping insurgents identify others in his unit. Many of the bodies found over the past week had been shot in the head, burned, mutilated, decapitated and, according to an American commander, labeled with notes that warn, "This is what happens to Iraqi National Guard soldiers." Other members of the security forces have had their identification cards pulled from their pockets and placed prominently on their bodies.

The insurgents "have learned that if they go head to head with us, they'll lose big time," said Lt. Col. Erik Kurilla, the commander of a battalion that oversees much of western Mosul. "Instead they are going after the Iraqi security forces." In one battle on Nov. 11, he said, about 40 insurgents from a force of 60 or 70 were killed by American troops. By contrast, insurgent attacks on American Stryker convoys have been ineffective. Since last month, convoys from Colonel Kurilla's battalion have been hit with 20 rocket-propelled grenades and 9 powerful bombs - all "without loss of life, limb or eyesight," he said.

Read the whole thing.


From CNN...

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said the new draft resolution put forward by three European powers at a key meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog is still unacceptable despite recent changes, Iran's state-run news agency reported Saturday.
"There has been a good deal of changes in the draft resolution, but still, there are points that are not acceptable to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and run contrary to the Paris agreement," Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said, according to IRNA. Kharazi also rejected reports from Vienna that Iran agreed to give up the use of 20 centrifuges as part of a plan to freeze its nuclear program entirely.

Why is it so difficult for so many people to believe that a government run by a bunch of religious fanatics is unwilling to give up it's pursuit of nuclear weapons? For that matter, why is it so difficult to believe that ANY government which feels it is surrounded by enemies would be unwilling to give up it's nuclear weapons? The pursuit of nuclear non-proliferation was, in my estimation, always fated to succeed only with those governments which believe they are not threatened by any existential threat (Sweden, Switzerland, New Zealand, for example) and to fail with those who believe otherwise (Iran, North Korea). Only two nations that I know of have given away their nuclear programs voluntarily...Libya, after it became clear to Colonel Khaddafi that he might go the way of Saddam Hussein, and South Africa after it's Apartheid government ceased to exist (thus, nuclear weapons failed to preserve it's existence and, thereafter, became irrelevant). The Iranian Mullahs have every incentive to keep their program going, in secret if possible, in public if necessary.


An interesting story from the BBC...

Journalists on Ukraine's state-owned channel - which had previously given unswerving support to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych - have joined the opposition, saying they have had enough of "telling the government's lies". Journalists on another strongly pro-government TV station have also promised an end to the bias in their reporting. The turnaround in news coverage, after years of toeing the government line, is a big setback for Mr Yanukovych.

Now, if only the BBC would join them in that promise. I won't hold my breath.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


Here is a link to a webblog that is featuring some e-mails from Marines in Fallujah, including one from the grandson of General Chuck Yeager (the man who, with the right stuff, was the first to break the sound barrier). Please take some time on this Thanksgiving Day to read these accounts from our courageous Marines and give thanks that this nation still produces such men and women.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Tony Blankley thinks so.

This Christmastime could be the moment when Western Europe finally joins our war on terrorism. Anti-Islamist fear and anger from the mouths of the European volk is breaking through the surface calm perpetuated by the elite European appeasers. The assassination and mutilation of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by an Islamic fanatic — and the retaliatory firebombings of mosques by ethnic Dutchmen — have forced high European leaders and news outlets to begin to publicly face up to the implications of September 11, 2001 and the migration of Muslims in large and hostile numbers into the heart of Europe.

I've often been critical of the people of Western Europe. It seems to me that they long ago lost their will to defend themselves. I've heard Blankley make some of the same points, so I believe he has also come to that conclusion. But now he believes the tide is changing, and he looks to Germany as much as the Netherlands for evidence of this change.

Heating the German national broth is the re-emergence of a call for German "Leitkultur," the term for the dominant and guiding culture. Der Spiegel quotes Christian Democratic leader Joerg Schoenbohm: "In the Middle Ages, ghettos were founded to marginalize the Jews. Today, some of the foreigners who live with us in Germany have founded their own ghettos because they scorn us Germans. Those who come here have to adopt the German Leitkultur. Our history has developed over a thousand years. We cannot allow that this basis of our commonality be destroyed by foreigners." Edmund Stoibel, the Bavarian Christian Social Union's candidate for chancellor two years ago, said: "We have to defend the Christian tradition of our country." Even the Social Democrat Chancellor of Germany, Gerhard Schroeder, called for banning headscarves for schoolteachers in German public schools.

Read the whole article. Blankley thinks Europe may now finally be aware of the threat posed to them by Islamofascism. I hope he is right.


Much has been made of the exit poll information that came out of the national election held earlier this month. One of the key components the MSM has latched onto as a reason for the re-election of the President is the so-called 'moral values' issue. The atheistic/agnostic liberal media elites have conjured up the image of millions of bible-thumping evangelicals streaming out of their homes on election day to vote for the man they believe was chosen by God to be our President.

It's a compelling image, and has the virtue of being true for some of the electorate. The problem with it is that it doesn't explain the President's victory. Only a relatively small fraction of the population of Bush voters (over 60 million of them, by the way) are born-again Christians. Presumably, not even all of them consider the President as chosen by God to lead us. So how to explain the 60 million? The soon-to-be chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman, has the answer in this morning's Washington Times.

Although Sen. John Kerry turned out large numbers of Democrats earlier this month, the president turned out even more Republicans. Mr. Mehlman explained that although Democrats used paid union members to get out the vote, Republicans used volunteers who were neighbors of the voters they targeted. "At the end of the day, love beat money," he said. "And the fact that 1.4 million volunteers, and 7.5 million e-activists, were out working their hearts out, day to day, beat a paid army."

It wasn't RELIGIOUS conviction that turned out those GOP voters, it was simply CONVICTION. Only a person of great conviction will volunteer for a cause. In this case, millions of people volunteered to help the GOP get their voters out. Those folks, for a wide variety of reasons, believed that it was imperative to re-elect the President. Many of the millions who responded to the call of the volunteers felt the same way. It was this energy and conviction that put George W. Bush back in the White House for four more years. Will you call me an evangelical (I'm not) if I say "Hallelujah"?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


It's almost Thanksgiving and they are still counting the votes from the election held on the first Tuesday of this month. That is not unusual, of course. Absentee ballots, paper ballots from rural districts and the new provisional ballots all take time to count. You may remember the headline from the British tabloid that said something about 59 million Americans being dumb for voting for George W. Bush. Well, the actual figure is more than 61 million, 61,121,520 at this point and still counting. Follow the link to Dave Leip's site about US Presidential elections, the best I've seen on the subject. You'll also note that as they keep counting the margin between Bush and Kerry remains remarkably stable. It was about a 3.5 million vote lead for Bush the day after the election, and it is about that now. The President's lead in Ohio has dropped from about 180,000 the day after the election to about 130,000 now. Still, one can see why the Kerry people knew better than to draw things out into a recount. They knew the margin was too much to overcome, even if they got the lion's share of absentee and provisional ballots. They also knew that if they were to demand a recount with that kind of margin in Ohio, the Bush people would do the same in Pennsylvania (where Kerry won with a current margin of 130,000) or Wisconsin (Kerry by only 13,000). There simply isn't a Florida 2000 scenario to be found in the 2004 election (Bush leads by 380,000 in Florida at this time, by the way). The two closest states are New Mexico and New Hampshire. Kerry won New Hampshire by about 8,000 votes and Bush won New Mexico by about 8,000 votes. At some point, though, each state will make it's results official and we will finally know the exact number of "dumb" Americans who made the right choice (stick it in your eye, you European lefties) for President.

Monday, November 22, 2004


Is this the fan who started it all? According to one of the local TV stations in Detroit, police have tentatively identified John Green of West Bloomfield, Michigan (the man in the white baseball cap you've no doubt seen in the video) as the man who threw the cup of beer on Ron Artest while Artest was lying on the scorer's table, which led Artest to charge into the stands during the Pacers-Pistons basketbrawl game. Artest has been suspended for the rest of the season. Green, if he is the one who threw the cup, should also face the harshest punishment possible under law, as well as lose his season tickets. Frankly, I find the behavior of both these individuals moronic.


I just finished reading H.R. McMaster's Dereliction of Duty. This is an absolutely must-read for anyone who wants to understand how America blundered into the Vietnam War. McMaster's devastating account of how LBJ, Secretary of Defense MacNamara and the Joint Chiefs of Staff failed in their duty to the American people is a cautionary tale that should be mandatory reading for every officer in the US military who hopes one day to be a member of the JCS or in any position to influence US war-making policy as well as anyone who hopes to be President of the United States. I hope George W. Bush has read it, as well as Rumsfeld and General Meyers. This book also provides plenty of evidence for those of us who believe LBJ was the worst President of the 20th Century.


This is nuts...

5 shot, killed in fight over hunting stand in Wisc.

November 22, 2004

HAYWARD -- A dispute among deer hunters over a tree stand erupted yesterday into a shooting that left five people dead and three injured, officials said. The alleged gunman was arrested at the line between Rusk and Sawyer counties, according to Sawyer County sheriff's officials. The violence began shortly after a hunting party saw a hunter occupying its tree stand, Chief Deputy Tim Zeigle told KSTP-TV. A confrontation and shooting followed. One of the shooting victims radioed back to the deer shack for help, he said. When more hunters came to the scene, they also were shot, Zeigle said. Wisconsin's deer gun hunting season started Saturday.

I've heard of road rage...but deer stand rage?

CNN has more details, so follow the link.

Sunday, November 21, 2004


Much is being made about the recent brawl between NBA players and fans at The Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan. By now, everyone with cable TV should have seen video of the brawl at least a dozen times. So far, the NBA is reacting properly by first suspending the players involved and then completing an investigation to determine final punishment. It seems pretty clear to me that everyone agrees players should not go into the stands to fight with fans (although one of my fondest memories of the old Boston Bruins was the night that Peter McNabb, Mike Milbury and Terry O'Reilly went into the stands at Madison Square Garden in New York back in 1979 to duke it out with some unruly Rangers fans...but maybe that's just the Boston-New York thing). It's also clear that fans shouldn't throw objects at players or go onto the court to challenge them to fisticuffs (both of which happened at The Palace).

The bottom line is that while this is an unfortunate incident, and an embarrassment to the NBA, it is not some earth-shattering event. There have always been incidents involving professional athletes getting into fights with fans. The key is to make sure the people involved are severely punished. The players and fans involved share one thing in common...they are all under the jurisdiction of the laws of the United States and, in this case, the state of Michigan. The authorities should examine the videotape of the incident and identify players and fans involved and charge them with the appropriate crimes. They should be prosecuted and, if guilty, properly sentenced under the law. In addition, the Detroit Pistons should make sure those fans so identified as having thrown objects or engaged in fighting are no longer allowed into their arena. The Pistons should also spend the money necessary to have more security personnel. As for the NBA, severe suspensions and fines seem appropriate.

Finally, if there is one potential long-lasting result of this incident, it is that it continues the trend of the NBA being viewed by more and more Americans as out of touch with their values. Do you really want to bring your kids to an arena where you are packed closely with people who get drunk, shout obscenities and generally look like they are a bunch of hooligans and thugs? For a long time the World Champion New England Patriots suffered because of the boorish behavior of their fans in that rat-trap called Foxboro Stadium. The Kraft family changed all of that. Boorish behavior at Gillette Stadium leads to banishment. The NBA needs to recognize that cultivating a family-friendly environment is the only way to ensure long term success as an entertainment franchise.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit recommends that everyone read this story, and I heartily concur. Here is a snippet, but please follow the link and read the whole thing.

Mutilated bodies dumped on Fallujah's bombed out streets today painted a harrowing picture of eight months of rebel rule...A... poster in the ruins of the souk bears testament to the strict brand of Sunni Islam imposed by the council, fronted by hardline cleric Abdullah Junabi. The decree warns all women that they must cover up from head to toe outdoors, or face execution by the armed militants who controlled the streets. Two female bodies found yesterday suggest such threats were far from idle. An Arab woman, in a violet nightdress, lay in a post-mortem embrace with a male corpse in the middle of the street. Both bodies had died from bullets to the head. Just six metres away on the same street lay the decomposing corpse of a blonde-haired white woman, too disfigured for swift identification but presumed to be the body of one of the many foreign hostages kidnapped by the rebels.

While it is true that our troops use weapons that can cause terrible damage to innocent men, women and children, please remember that our enemy DELIBERATELY targets the innocent for this kind of brutal treatment.


Read this letter from a Marine sent to the folks that run the PowerLine blog. It puts into context the decision by that young Marine to shoot the wounded Iraqi.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Two murders...two very different enemy.

They couldn't be more different. Margaret Hassan was an aid worker, born in Ireland, who had dedicated almost her entire adult life to helping the people of Iraq. She married an Iraqi. She lived among the Iraqi people. She lobbied on their behalf. She tried to bring food and medicine to those who suffered in that long-suffering country. Theo Van Gogh was a filmmaker. He was also known for being brash and combative. It appears that he deliberately tried to be insulting to Islam and Muslims, in his films and in his public statements (calling Muslims goat, for instance).

Two people, one who obviously loved an Arab-Muslim people (the Iraqis), and another who obviously despised Muslims. In the end, their differences meant absolutely nothing to the Islamist fanatics who murdered them. In the eyes of these butchers all that mattered was that both were, to them, infidels. Are there still people who deny, then, the nature of our enemy? Are there still people who cannot see that the fanatics who shoot a Dutch filmmaker in public, then cut his throat as he begs for his life, and the fanatics who take an aid worker hostage, then shoot her in the head on videotape, are truly a brutal enemy who cannot be reasoned with or bargained with? Are there still those who cannot see that we are in a fight to the death with an enemy at least as vicious and fanatical as the Nazis?

If there are such people, I hope these brutal murders will help them see the light.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Last night NBC News aired a story by producer Kevin Sites about a US Marine killing a wounded Iraqi inside a mosque in Fallujah. Follow the link to the AP story about the incident.

To those who have never been in combat, this seems like a pretty clear case of an illegal killing. But consider these comments...

Charles Heyman, a senior defense analyst with Jane's Consultancy Group in Britain, defended the Marine's actions, saying the wounded man could have been concealing a firearm or grenade. "In a combat infantry soldier's training, he is always taught that his enemy is at his most dangerous when he is severely wounded," Heyman said. If the injured man makes even the slightest move, "in my estimation they would be justified in shooting him."

Also consider this fact...

Sites reported that a Marine in the same unit had been killed a day earlier when he tended to the booby-trapped dead body of an insurgent. NBC reported that the Marine seen shooting the wounded combatant had himself been shot in the face the day before, but quickly returned to duty.

I have talked to many combat veterans over the years, including my own uncle who was a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge in WWII. In the chaos of combat the line blurs between what is acceptable violence and what is unacceptable violence. During the early days of the Guadalcancal operation in the Pacific in WWII, for instance, US Marines routinely tried to take the surrender of Japanese soldiers and treat their battlefield wounded. But after a few incidents of Japanese soldiers killing Marines who tried to help them, the Marines stopped following the rules of war. My uncle relates in his memoirs the same thing about his experience in France with the Germans. Once an American soldier or Marine sees a comrade killed by a wounded, booby-trapped enemy, then all the wounded enemies become suspect. I believe this may be what we are seeing in Fallujah.

The military will follow a procedure to adjudicate this matter. They will try to determine if the Marine was justified in shooting the wounded Iraqi. If not, he will face disciplinary action or a court martial. The more worrisome aspect of all of this is not the fate of that Marine, rather it is the public relations defeat our forces suffered because an NBC cameraman was there to record the scene. The tape has been aired repeatedly and unedited by Al-Jazeera. It has been shown in an edited form here at home, and, presumably, in Europe and elsewhere.

The recent election results here at home give me some hope that a majority of Americans understand we are in a fight to the death with fanatical barbarians and will, therefore, understand the brutal realities of the fight. The news that British aid worker Margaret Hassan has been executed by her captors, and the existence of a videotape of the execution, will once again stand to counteract the negative publicity created by the actions of the young Marine. The world will once again see that when faced with a possible violation of the rules of war and civilization, the US will work to find the truth and punish the transgressors, if necessary. By contrast, our enemies celebrate the execution of their helpless prisoners.


Follow the link to a New York Times story about members of the Army's Individual Ready Reserve who are fighting their call-up to active duty. There are, in my estimation, two points to remember about this.

First, the former soldiers involved all should have read their enlistment contracts closely and understood their obligation. For most, this involved spending some amount of time in the Individual Ready Reserve. The former soldier should have received a form each year to verify his/her address, a pointed reminder that he/she was subject to a call-up.

Second, the Army makes mistakes. For example, I served three years of active duty in the Army in the late 1980s. My total commitment, however, was eight years. I was discharged from the IRR at the end of 1993. I received a DD 214 and a signed discharge certificate. Unfortunately, I kept receiving the Army Reserve magazine and the address update form, as well as the occasional call from a personnel soldier verifying my whereabouts. As a former personnel clerk myself, I knew this meant I was still being carried on the rolls of the IRR. Unlike some of the folks you read about in stories like the one from the NYT, I did something about it. I sent copies of all my paperwork to the Commanding Officer of the IRR with a letter asking him to fix the problem. He did. I'm now the proud owner of TWO DD 214s and TWO discharge certificates from the IRR.

In the end, as the article points out, many of these cases will be fixed as the Army realizes it's mistakes. This is NOT a back-door draft. For the former soldiers in the IRR this is their obligation. For those called up mistakenly, it's the Army's job to make it right.

Monday, November 15, 2004


I've often made the argument with liberal friends that their view of poverty in America is skewed by their intellectual framework, since most don't have any first-hand experience of real poverty. That's why this article by Steven Malaga caught my eye. It's a bit lengthy, but it correctly points out the complicated nature of poverty in this country and why one-size-fits-all government programs are usually not the answer. Just follow the link and read the whole thing.

Saturday, November 13, 2004


Here is the elephant (pun very much intended) in the Democrats' living room, courtesy of Francis X. Maier in the Rocky Mountain News...

My wife is a Democrat. Her family home in Chicago is lined with photos of the Kennedys. As a child, she remembers Saul Alinsky organizing neighborhood groups in her living room at the invitation of her mother and father. She volunteered on the Eugene McCarthy campaign. She worked as a floor runner at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Adlai Stevenson was a household icon. My wife is a Democrat. Always was, always will be - at least in her heart. But she hasn't voted for a major Democratic candidate in more than 25 years. And therein lies a lesson for any Democrat who wants to understand the debris of the 2004 election. I met my wife before I had returned to my childhood faith. One day I made the mistake of poking fun at those neanderthal Catholic views on abortion. What I got for my ignorance was a kindly but memorable tutoring on the sanctity of human life. For my wife and her family, being a Catholic meant being a Democrat, and being a Democrat meant fighting for the little guy - literally. That included the poor, the homeless, racial and ethnic minorities, and the unemployed. It also meant defending the unborn child. For my wife, arguing whether an unborn child was a "full human person" or a "developing human being" was irrelevant - or worse, a kind of lying. The dignity of the unborn life involved was exactly the same, whatever one called it. In the years since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion on demand, my wife and I have struggled many times with the choice of voting Democratic. Our youngest son has Down syndrome, and Democratic policies often benefit the disabled in ways Republican policies don't. But it's also true that children like our son are becoming extinct in part because the abortion lobby has a stranglehold on the Democratic Party platform, with all that it implies for legislation and judicial appointments. The easiest response to handicapped children is to kill them before they arrive. That's not a solution. That's homicide.

Follow the link and read the whole thing. This doesn't just apply, in my estimation, to traditional Catholics. It explains why poor and middle-class people of all faiths who truly believe in the tenets of their religion are having a hard time voting for Democrats, even though they might agree with Democrats on economic policies.

Friday, November 12, 2004


One of the most persistent and important questions facing the U.S. government as we battle insurgents in Iraq is whether or not Iraqis will take it upon themselves to fight for their new country. We've heard a lot over the last year and a half about the on-going campaign to train tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqi police, National Guard, and security forces, as well as the new Iraqi Army. It's clear from media reports that the training effort has had it's ups and downs. The most telling signal was when the military put General Petraeus (former commander of the 101st Airborne Division) in charge of the training of Iraqi forces. Clearly the earlier training had not lived up to expectations.

This has led many in the MSM to questions the reliability of Iraqi forces, implying that they are the modern equivalent of "Marvin the ARVN" (troops of the South Vietnamese Army) who didn't want to fight for an illegitimate government during the Vietnam War. Chris Mathews of "Hardball" on MSNBC has been very persistent in making that implication (most recently last night while interviewing Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska...a Vietnam Veteran). Mathews obviously believes, and he represents many others who share the belief, that we are facing a popular, nationalistic insurgency, like Vietnam, that we cannot defeat.

The only way to prove that this point of view is inaccurate is to find evidence of Iraqis, in large numbers, coalescing around their new government, even to the point of being willing to fight and die for the new Iraq. Thus, the performance of Iraqi troops in operations like we are seeing in Fallujah is absolutely critical. George Will points out that this fact is understood by America's top commanders in the region.

...operations in Fallujah, and perhaps in three or more other Iraqi cities, may determine whether elections scheduled for late January midwife the birth of a viable state. And as the operations began, there was an expectation here that of the eight Iraqi military units collaborating with U.S. forces, three or four would perform reasonably well, two or three might reveal significant inadequacies and one might flunk the test. Military professionals have a realism born of familiarity with military history — America's (e.g., the U.S. Army's poor performance in its first major engagement of World War II, at the Kasserine Pass in February 1943) and others' (e.g., the disintegration, along ethnic and religious lines, of the Lebanese army in the 1970s). As events unfold in Fallujah, the two great questions are: In a region where there is little tradition of armies loyal to the state, can Iraq's military be reconstituted while a new Iraqi state is being constituted? And can this be done before Americans' patience is exhausted by the suspicion that the current Iraqi government is prepared to "fight to the last American"?

Will, reporting from CENTCOM, believes there is reason for optimism.

Success in Iraq, people here believe, is contingent on three ifs:

* if Iraqi military and security forces can stay intact during contacts with the insurgents;

* if insurgents are killed in sufficient numbers to convince the Sunni political class that it must invest its hope in politics;

* if neighboring states, especially Syria, will cooperate in slowing the flow of money and other aid to the insurgency. If so, then America can — this is the preferred verb — "stand up" an Iraqi state and recede from a dominant role.

(CENTCOM Commander General John)Abizaid, who speaks Arabic and has studied the region (and in the region, at the University of Jordan) believes that the Fallujah operation begins a 12-month period from which America will learn the parameters of the possible. When a visitor suggests that in two weeks we will know much, another officer tersely replies: "Two days." That was said on Monday. So far, the performance of Iraq's apprentice military, now working with U.S. units...permit tentative — very tentative — optimism.

When watching media commentators expounding about the latest instance of Iraqi troops performing poorly in battle, remember the military history that Will alludes to in this column. Remember that green American troops broke and ran during battles in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War II and Korea. In each case, the American troops were either poorly trained, poorly led, poorly equipped, or some combination of two or all three of those problems. In most cases the poor performance came at the beginning of the conflict. The only reason we haven't seen that happen in our most recent battles (Grenada, Panama, Gulf War I, Afghanistan, Gulf War II) is because we now have a professional, volunteer military. Each new cadre of troops is trained by combat-experienced officers and NCOs. Even units filled with green troops upon entering their first combat situation are commanded by officers and NCOs with prior combat experience. Add to that equation the overwhelming superiority in technology and firepower our troops bring to battle, even green troops can be put in a situation where they have all the advantages.

This is the key for getting the new Iraqi troops to perform well. Hopefully, our commanders will put them in situations where they can acquire combat skills while retaining all the advantages. As they face danger and succeed, confidence in their commanders and their own skills will grow. As this happens, one can hope that more Iraqis will feel a sense of pride in their accomplishments. Indeed, I believe that will be the most important cornerstone to be laid for the creation of a new Iraq.

Thursday, November 11, 2004


To mark the end of World War I with the Armistice signed on November 11, 1918, the English poet and novelist Thomas Hardy wrote the following:

There had been years of Passion - scorching, cold,
And much Despair, and Anger heaving high,
Care whitely watching, Sorrows manifold,
Among the young, among the weak and old,
And the pensive Spirit of Pity whispered, 'Why?'

Men had not paused to answer. Foes distraught
Pierced the thinned peoples in a brute-like blindness,
Philosophies that sages long had taught,
And Selflessness, were as an unknown thought,
And 'Hell!' and 'Shell!' were yapped at Lovingkindness.


Calm fell. From heaven distilled a clemency;
There was peace on earth, and silence in the sky;
Some could, some could not, shake off misery:
The Sinister Spirit sneered: 'It had to be!'
And again the Spirit of Pity whispered, 'Why?'

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


Check out this column in the Boston Globe. Stephen Prothero hits the nail on the head about "the God gap" between the two parties.

Now that the election has divided the Union yet again into blues and reds, Thomas Frank's "What's the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America" has become a must read. Here Frank vents about how Republicans conned Kansas farmers and Wal-Mart greeters into voting for tax cuts for the rich. By dangling before these innocents false promises of an abortion-free America, Republicans bamboozled the good people of Kansas into voting against their economic interests. So what to do? Run left, Frank argues. Protect the interests of working people, not those of big corporations. Then watch America turn as blue as John Lee Hooker. So goes the sort of liberal the heartland loves to hate. The problem with this analysis is that there's nothing the matter with Kansas. As anyone who has ever hugged an evangelical can tell you, red-state Americans are not confused about their economic interests. They are simply subordinating them to what they believe are more important matters.

Bingo. Still, I'm confident most of far-left Democrats won't get it.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


U.S. Marines and Army soldiers are now engaged in the most important battle so far in the war on terrorism. The Afghanistan campaign, now that elections have taken place in a peaceful manner, is largely over. But the Iraq campaign continues, and may have reached a decisive moment. Last April the Marines had a chance to destroy the insurgency in Fallujah, and perhaps deal a decisive blow against the insurgency in the entire Sunni Triangle. They were denied that opportunity for political reasons by U.S. and Iraqi leaders. Now the time has come to crush the insurgency, and it appears to me that the Iraqi interim government is seriously committed to that end and is willing, therefore, to unleash all the power of the U.S. military toward that end.

LTC (ret.) Ralph Peters is one columnist who has consistently recognized the nature of the fight in Iraq. With operations begun in Fallujah, he believes the time has come to make this a quick and decisive victory.

Now we need to finish the job swiftly, no matter the cost in death and destruction, before the will of our civilian leaders weakens again. Stopping even one building short of the annihilation of the terrorists and insurgents would be a defeat. Al-Jazeera will pull out the propaganda stops, inventing American atrocities. The BBC will pressure Tony Blair to rein in our president. Iraqi faction leaders will press Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to accept a cease-fire for "talks." The weight of the free world is on the shoulders of our Marines and soldiers and on the backs of our Iraqi allies. They've got to wrap up major operations in a week.

I agree. Deal a devastating blow to the insurgents. Make them come out for a stand up fight, and annihilate them. If they disperse to other towns, follow them and kill them. If it is necessary to repeat this operation in other towns in the Sunni Triangle, do so until the job is done. It is impossible to justify the sacrifice of even one U.S. soldier or Marine unless we are prepared to fight our way to total victory. That means, in this case, the creation of a relatively free, relatively stable, relatively prosperous and relatively pro-American Iraq. The existence of a pluralistic, democratic Arab nation in the center of the Middle East will do more to ensure our final victory in the war on terror than anything else we could possibly do.

Monday, November 08, 2004


Long-time listeners to my radio show know that I spent a considerable amount of time talking about the changing dynamics of global power, especially after 9/11. Most Americans prior to that terrible September day did not spend much time thinking about foreign policy, or America's place in the world, or the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, or the demographic changes in Europe. One had to go to foreign policy magazines like Foreign Affairs to get any in-depth discussion of those issues. That has changed somewhat since 9/11, but even today most Americans are still uninformed and uninterested in the currents that are re-shaping the relationships between the U.S., it's allies, and it's enemies.

One of those currents is, I believe, becoming more evident to Americans as we fight the global war on terror, especially in Iraq. That is the increasing irrelevance of Europe. The title of my post refers to the name given the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, "The Old Man of Europe". Europeans knew that the Ottoman Empire, which had lasted for centuries, was in it's last years (eventually the empire fell at the end of World War I). I believe that Europe now is "The Old Man of the World", a society in it's last years of decay.

The evidence that supports this view can be found first and foremost in an examination of fertility figures for all the Western European countries. Each and every one is below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per couple. If this trend continues we will see an economic collapse in Europe, and I believe the first signs are visible even now.

Nicole Gelinas writes about Europe in her column in this morning's NY Post. The angle she takes is the most newsworthy one...French reaction to the victory of George W. Bush. But she also points out some of the factors that are leading not just France but all of Europe down the path of irrelevance and dissolution.

The French will not accept the current global reality: That France, due to Western Europe's economic and military stagnation, cannot greet America as an equal partner on the world stage. But they are simply too proud to crawl back to America on America's terms. "We must stop talking about America as a hyperpower," Le Monde wrote. "America's power is only an echo of Europe's impotence."

But to admit that is to split Western Europe wide open domestically. As the French astutely observe, Western Europe cannot hope to expand its nominal military power to balance Bush's global "hegemony" without first expanding economically — and paring back social spending.
French President Jacques Chirac wants to expand Western Europe's military power outside of NATO — but Europe simply doesn't have the money. And one thing is as clear to Europeans as Bush's victory: Old Europe is not growing.

The European Union's four-year-old "Lisbon Agenda" to make Europe the most competitive economy in the world has failed abysmally, E.U. officials admitted Wednesday. Europe can't grow its way out of second-world political and economic status because its largest economies — Germany and France — won't deregulate labor markets and won't open up tightly controlled economies to new industries and new immigrants. And nothing will change until European citizens allow their politicians to ease this suffocating government vise-grip on the economy — and to reform the continent's cradle-to-grave welfare state.

The demographic reality I pointed out above is the main reason Europe is not growing economically. With native-born citizens not reproducing at a sufficient rate what little growth Europe is achieving is primarily because of immigrant workers, mostly Muslims. This is already leading to social upheaval and will lead to even greater levels of displacement, anger and violence. Europe is no longer a military power capable of competing with the United States (much to President Chirac's chagrin), and soon it will no longer be able to compete economically (if that isn't true already).

While I take a certain degree of pleasure in contemplating the discomfiture of the Europeans, the realist in me sees the danger in all of this. We needed Western Europe to stand as a bulwark against Soviet expansionism. We need them today to stand as a bulwark against Islamist Fundamentalist expansionism. Unfortunately, the strategy used to defeat the Soviet Union (the stationing of hundreds of thousands of US troops in Europe backed with nuclear weapons) cannot be used against the Islamists, a more diffuse and ethereal enemy. Additionally, the growth of Western Europe after WWII was a great help in pressuring the Soviet Union and it's client states by showing their peoples the futility of their own system and the attractiveness of ours. If Europe continues to stagnate it will not provide that example to the peoples of the Islamic world.

All-in-all, it's a conundrum that will have to be considered by American policy-makers even as their energies are directed toward the more immediate task of defeating the Islamists on the battlefield.

Saturday, November 06, 2004


Yesterday, the New York Times published articles by regular columnists Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert, excerpts of which I've quoted in the post below. Both men just don't understand what's happening to the Democratic Party in national elections. Today the Times has regular columnists Nicholas Kristoff and David Brooks, both of whom DO understand what is happening. Kristoff sees an overseas model for success...the British Labor Party, which, under the leadership of people like Tony Blair, changed it's image from an anti-American, socialist, union-loving, nuclear-freeze party to something more acceptable to the British middle class.

The Democrats need a similar rebranding. But the risk is that the party will blame others for its failures - or, worse, blame the American people for their stupidity (as London's Daily Mirror screamed in a Page 1 headline this week: "How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?").
As moderates from the heartland, like Tom Daschle, are picked off by the Republicans, the party's image risks being defined even more by bicoastal, tree-hugging, gun-banning, French-speaking, Bordeau-sipping, Times-toting liberals, whose solution is to veer left and galvanize the base. But firing up the base means turning off swing voters. Gov. Mike Johanns, a Nebraska Republican, told me that each time Michael Moore spoke up for John Kerry, Mr. Kerry's support in Nebraska took a dive.

David Brooks believes the Democrats are learning, once again, the wrong lessons from the election results.

Every election year, we in the commentariat come up with a story line to explain the result, and the story line has to have two features. First, it has to be completely wrong. Second, it has to reassure liberals that they are morally superior to the people who just defeated them.
In past years, the story line has involved Angry White Males, or Willie Horton-bashing racists. This year, the official story is that throngs of homophobic, Red America values-voters surged to the polls to put George Bush over the top. This theory certainly flatters liberals, and it is certainly wrong. Here are the facts. As Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center points out, there was no disproportionate surge in the evangelical vote this year. Evangelicals made up the same share of the electorate this year as they did in 2000. There was no increase in the percentage of voters who are pro-life. Sixteen percent of voters said abortions should be illegal in all circumstances. There was no increase in the percentage of voters who say they pray daily.

Brooks says the President won with a broad cross-section of Americans, doing better even in Blue States like New York and Massachusetts than he did in 2000. But, he says, the Democrats are refusing to see the truth.

But the same insularity that caused many liberals to lose touch with the rest of the country now causes them to simplify, misunderstand and condescend to the people who voted for Bush. If you want to understand why Democrats keep losing elections, just listen to some coastal and university town liberals talk about how conformist and intolerant people in Red America are. It makes you wonder: why is it that people who are completely closed-minded talk endlessly about how open-minded they are?

Cool. I've posted a link so you can read both articles.

Friday, November 05, 2004


For the last three days I've been watching, listening and reading as Democrats and their allies in the MSM go over the election results and try to figure out what happened and what they did wrong. It's clear, as I said in the last post, that they just don't get it. It's also clear that they are completely blind to their own prejudices...So blind, in fact, that they won't be able to mount a true play for majority party status in this country again any time soon.

Just check out Paul Krugman in the New York Times...

Democrats are not going to get the support of people whose votes are motivated, above all, by their opposition to abortion and gay rights (and, in the background, opposition to minority rights). All they will do if they try to cater to intolerance is alienate their own base.

Notice that Krugman believes people who oppose abortion and gay marriage are also racists. How about Bob Herbert?

For all the talk about values that we're hearing, the president ran a campaign that appealed above all to voters' fears and prejudices... He said, essentially, be very afraid. Be frightened of terrorism, and of those dangerous gay marriages, and of those in this pluralistic society who may have thoughts and beliefs and values that differ from your own.

Again, Bush supporters are bigots. Thomas Frank, like Herbert and Krugman in today's New York Times, also doesn't understand how to analyze the situation because of the limitations of his own world-view...

Still, the power of the conservative rebellion is undeniable. It presents a way of talking about life in which we are all victims of a haughty overclass - "liberals" - that makes our movies, publishes our newspapers, teaches our children, and hands down judgments from the bench. These liberals generally tell us how to go about our lives, without any consideration for our values or traditions. The culture wars, in other words, are a way of framing the ever-powerful subject of social class. They are a way for Republicans to speak on behalf of the forgotten man without causing any problems for their core big-business constituency.

Just as Krugman and Herbert cannot get past their prejudice concerning conservative religious folks in America as closet racists, Frank cannot read them outside his Marxist framework of characterizing the human condition only in economic terms.

In Slate, Jane Smiley is even more frank about her prejudices...

I grew up in Missouri and most of my family voted for Bush, so I am going to be the one to say it: The election results reflect the decision of the right wing to cultivate and exploit ignorance in the citizenry. I suppose the good news is that 55 million Americans have evaded the ignorance-inducing machine. But 58 million have not. (Well, almost 58 relatives are not ignorant, they are just greedy and full of classic Republican feelings of superiority.)

I wonder if she'll be invited to her next family reunion. The bottom line is pretty simple. If the Democrats nominate people who fail to refute the conclusions drawn by people like Smiley about Red State Americans, then they will continue to lose. Those traditional, conservative, God-fearing folks in places like Missouri, South Carolina, West Virginia, Iowa, Montana, etc. simply will not vote for people who think they are ignorant racist homophobes.

It's unclear as of yet if some Democratic strategists understand this problem. I suspect people like James Carville and the folks at the Democratic Leadership Council are tearing their hair out reading comments like those I've quoted in this post. As for me, to use the now in vogue marketing phrase...I'm lovin' it.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


After reviewing the many thoughtful posts and vicious rants of those on the left reacting to the GOP victory this week I've come to the conclusion that the Republican majority is safe for years to come. The reason? THEY STILL DON'T GET IT!!!!

Just read Tom Friedman or Maureen Dowd in the NY Times. Just go to Instapundit and follow the links to many of the left-wing bloggers. Read the reactions from Hollywood in this morning's Washington Times. After all the polls, the focus groups, the research and now an election, they still can't face the fact that this is a country where the majority care deeply about moral values. What is worse, those on the left not only can't believe the majority care more deeply about moral values than economic or other concerns, they don't respect those beliefs or the people that hold them.

The majority of left-wing America (the dominant bloc in the Democratic Party) simply oozes disdain for Red State Americans. They believe that the people who hold traditional Christian values are a bunch of ignorant, NASCAR watching, beer-swilling, racist, homophobic rednecks who shouldn't even be allowed to participate in the decision-making in this country. As long as they continue to hold that view they, and the Democratic Party, will continue to lose national elections.

Consider this simple fact. The only two Democrats to win presidential elections since this realignment began in 1968 (when bible believing people, primarily in the South, began voting more for Republicans than Democrats) were Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. They won not only because they were Sons of the South, but because they held traditional Christian beliefs. Therefore, even though they were both liberals (Carter more so than Clinton), they did not look down on those who shared their religious belief system. Both men understood that you can believe in God and the divinity of Jesus Christ and still be an intelligent, decent, cultured person.

There is also a final irony. Many of the leadership elite of the GOP, in terms of their fundamental personal beliefs, are not all that different from the leadership elite of the Democratic Party. Atheists and agnostics are very well represented in the upper echelons of the GOP. They continue to steal a march on the Democrats because they do not exude disrespect and disdain for people of faith. It's not just that they understand they can't show that disdain to those folks for fear of losing their votes, it's because they really do respect people who hold those beliefs. Atheistic and agnostic Republican elites have easily and enthusiastically followed the leadership of bible-believing Christians like Ronald Reagan (whose faith was more artfully hidden) and George W. Bush precisely because they respect (and, perhaps, even envy) their faith.

The bottom line is that the Democrat elites just can't get passed their disdain for Red State Americans, and it shows. As long as that is the case, they'll continue to lose.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004



1. George W. Bush - No longer see-lected, W. is ee-lected, and by a majority, too.
2. Hillary Clinton - Now the field is clear for a run in 2008.
3. Jeb Bush - Turns his positive image as the Governor in charge during adversity (four hurricanes) into a big win for his brother in the Sunshine State.
4. The Grand Old Party. More Senators, Governors and House members. Truly the majority party in America today.


1. John Kerry - The dream of a lifetime has come to an end. Now we'll learn the true measure of his character.
2. Terry McAuliffe. Why does this guy keep his job?
3. The Democratic Party. Still unable to figure out how to reconnect with America's Heartland.
4. The Mainstream Media. A complete election night fiasco as anchors and analysts on all the networks continue to rely on completely bogus exit poll information long after it's erroneous nature became apparent. Would they have relied on the information if it had shown a Bush lead in the face of a real-world Kerry surge? Puh-leeeezzz.

Meanwhile, here in New Hampshire.....


1. John Lynch. From relatively obscure head of University System of New Hampshire to a Democrat, no less.
2. John Kerry. His campaign was turbocharged in the Granite State earlier this year, last night it provided him with a Red State takeaway.
3. Kathy Sullivan (Chairman of the State Dems). She gets a winner (which makes it easier to forget that her candidates for US Senate and Congress fell short...again).


1. Craig Benson. Arrogant rich guy buys Governor's office, ticks off nearly everyone in sight, fails consistently to see ethical problems before they crop up, becomes first NH governor to be denied a second two-year term since the 1920s.
2. Government reform. Really good reform ideas crash and burn because....see above.
3. NH GOP. Lose conservative reform governor (see above) to no income tax/no sales tax moderate Democrat. Can you say four more years?


The Associated Press is now reporting that John Kerry has conceded the presidential race to George W. Bush.

"Congratulations, Mr. President," Kerry said in the conversation described by sources as lasting less than five minutes. One of the sources was Republican, the other a Democrat.

The Democratic source said Bush called Kerry a worthy, tough and honorable opponent. Kerry told Bush the country was too divided, the source said, and Bush agreed. "We really have to do something about it," Kerry said according to the Democratic official.

Kerry is expected to make a concession speech at 2 PM today. The President will speak at 3 PM. In the end, Kerry and his advisors must have looked at the numbers in Ohio and realized that there was no realistic way to crunch the numbers so as to create a scenario whereby Kerry would overtake the President's 130,000 vote lead. In addition, they had to consider the fact that the President was leading in the popular vote by more than 3.5 million. The final electoral tally will take a little while to sort out, although it appears the President will win Nevada and New Mexico as well as Ohio.

So why did Bush win? Why did so many pundits (me included) get it wrong? Like all prognostications, mine was based on certain assumptions. Those assumptions were as follows:

1. The Democratic base was more energized (primarily by Bush-hatred) than the Republicans.

2. The Democrats' ground game (get-out-the-vote efforts) would do better than the GOP.

3. More young people than normal would turn out, and they would trend towards Kerry.

All of these turned out to be wrong. The GOP base turned out with at least as much energy as the Democrats and their GOTV efforts were at least as good. Finally, young people didn't turn out as heavily as many thought and my guess is that many more young folks voted for Bush than most experts would have believed.

I was dead wrong...and I couldn't be happier about it.


It's not quite the morning in America that the Reagan campaign used to such great effect during the 1984 election, but I'll take it. Even though Kerry still refuses to concede at this hour, and the networks refuse to put Ohio and New Mexico (and probably Iowa) in the Bush column, it seems clear that George W. Bush has won re-election. Fortunately, the nightmare scenario I envisioned has not come to pass. While there are hints of 2000 in the talk of provisional ballots in Ohio, the President has such a large lead in the Buckeye State (over 130,000) that it doesn't seem possible he could lose even after all the provisional ballots are counted. More importantly, from a public relations standpoint, Bush is leading by a significant margin in the popular vote (almost 4 million). It's only a matter of time before Kerry reads the handwriting on the wall and officially brings this race to a close.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


What I hoped would not happen apparently is happening. While I was depressed by the high turnout (which I hate to say, but there it is), which seemed to bode ill for Bush, and the exit poll results that also seemed to indicate a Bush defeat, I am now even more depressed about what I believe is a nightmare scenario. The winner will take this election by such a narrow margin that there will be no hope of uniting the country. The only hope I can hold onto at the moment is that the winner will take both the popular and electoral vote, and the margins in the close states will be such that lawsuits and recounts will not prevent the winner from declaring victory and, more importantly, the loser accepting defeat. Let's hope the man on the short end of the stick will address his fellow Americans as a statesman.

I will resume blogging once we know who has won. That may be later tonight, or tomorrow morning, or next week (if it's next week I'll do my normal review of the news).


The National Review website is a great place to check out the inside buzz from the GOP perspective. Check this insider e-mail they just posted...

We are feeling very confident about Florida. So are people on the ground there, who know a good deal about these things. Among the specific facts worth noting: In DuVal County, our goal was to win by a 40,000 person margin. We’re now at a 60,000 person margin. Most of the Panhandle counties are outstanding. Eighty percent of Broward County is in. We expected to be down 200,000 -- and our worst case was that we would be down 300,000. The latest information is that we are down by 170,000. In addition, Ohio looks increasing good for us. Reports from the ground are that people are very upbeat about turnout (for example, in places like Franklin Country). Let me make a broader, and very significant, point. The media are now changing the models they are using to estimate where things stand. The actual votes underscored how flawed the exit polling data was – and so the media are making adjustments in where things stand. What does that specifically mean: The final exit polls had us down by five to six points in Wisconsin; the estimates now are that we are even. The exit polls had us down three points in Iowa; the estimates now are that we are even. The exit polls had us down in New Mexico; the estimates now are that we are even. The tide is turning in our direction. We aren’t ready to declare victory; but we ready to say that we feel very good about where things stand, and where things seem to be headed.

Just watching all the networks as they talk through the results and their projections I can see how they are struggling with the exit poll data. Clearly that data is not being reflected by the actual numbers. As for New Hampshire, the numbers coming in are almost certainly from the more urban areas of the state. The later numbers are from the smaller, more rural towns, which could put the state into the President's column (however narrowly).


I just saw Susan Estrich on Fox. Having once been in the position of having to spin a lost election (as Media Advisor to Gordon Humphrey's gubernatorial campaign in NH in 2000) I sensed her anguish. She was bristly and tight. Does she know the numbers in the exit polls are not matching the real results, somewhat like 2000?

On the other hand, Ken Mehlman, who works for the President was exuding confidence in his interview on CNN just a few minutes before Estrich went on Fox. The information that might be making the difference is the actual numbers coming out of Florida. Right now it appears that Bush is winning counties he did not carry in 2000.


The networks are being extremely cautious about calling certain states...Bush states. Is this because they have numbers that show Kerry doing much better than anyone thought? Possibly. But I would be shocked if Bush didn't win South Carolina by a very large margin, and North Carolina and Virginia by a comfortable margin.

The news continues to move toward a repeat of the deadlock of 2000, which is the worst possible outcome for the country. I hope we begin to see numbers breaking one way or the other within the next few hours. Otherwise, we will be faced with situations like the absentee ballots on hold in Pennsylvania. Those ballots won't be counted until a judge rules on them tomorrow morning. The Bush v. Gore precedent looks worse all the time. Personally, I wish the court had called the vote in Florida a tie and thrown the election, constitutionally, into the House. Bush would have won, it would have been seen as political, but it would have kept the lawyers and the judges out of it.


After running out to pick up the kids I've done a quick survey of all the political sites that I know about. Speculation on more right-leaning sites is running rampant that the Kerry-Edwards folks planted skewed exit poll numbers that show Kerry leading in order to depress GOP turnout in the late afternoon and evening. Scroll down for my link to Mystery Pollster who explains the truth behind exit poll information. The bottom line is that this information is, like any poll, subject to numerous variables and cannot be trusted.

The area of concern for Bush partisans (like myself) is overall turnout. No one in his right mind can believe that high turnout bodes well for GOP candidates. To my knowledge, the GOP has never done well in a truly high turnout election. Marginal voters historically are either young voters (well-educated or not), poor people (usually less well-educated) or folks who have dropped out for whatever reason (crossing all demographics). Certainly one can check historic patterns and see that young people and poor people generally trend Democratic. However, 9/11 is the wild card. This is our first presidential election since the war began. The last nation-wide election we held under these conditions was in 2002, and the GOP did well (and shocked the pundits and pollsters). Anything is still possible. While I'm sticking to my Kerry victory prediction, I am prepared for anything.


While the blogosphere and the news websites go around in circles over the exit poll information that is trickling out, Mystery Pollster reminds us why we should take them with a grain of salt...

2) The mid-day numbers do not reflect weighting by actual turnout – the end-of-day exit poll used to assist the networks in determining winners will be weighted by the actual turnout of voters at each selected precinct. The weighting will then be continuously updated to reflect turnout at comparable precincts. In the past, mid-day numbers have reflected a weighting based on past turnout, so the leaked mid-day numbers may tell us nothing about the impact of new registrants or the unique level of turnout this time.

One point needs emphasis here: even in past elections, networks never called an election based on raw exit poll numbers alone. They were first weighted by a tally of the full day's turnout at each sampled precinct. This end-of-day data is (obviously) not available at 12 noon.

3) Voting patterns may be different early in the day - People who work full time jobs typically vote more heavily before or after work. Even a perfect mid-day exit poll – and there is no such animal – may not be any better at picking a winner than the half-time scores in any given football game on Sunday. Also, despite what you may have heard on the West Wing, I know of no serious study showing a consistent Democratic or Republican tilt to the morning or evening hours (if anyone does, please email me).

Read the rest as it is a primer on how these polls work.

Updates....Jonah Goldberg at NRO is convinced the Wonkette numbers posted below are not exit poll results. Drudge is reporting that exit poll information he has been posting on his site is based on a sample that is heavily dominated by women.


The Horserace Blog has an interesting take on the issue of whether or not we will see large numbers of new voters today.

Game theorists would argue that people vote based on a cost-benefit analysis. There are inherent costs to voting (information costs required to learn about the candidates, transportation costs, time lost costs) and these can be compared to the psychological benefits (i.e. fulfilling civic duty, following tradition). Now, in 2000 the benefit from voting was greater than the cost for voting for about 54% of eligible adults. In other words, about 46% of America decided that the costs were too great, 54% decided that they were not. Suppose that these early turnout indications are true, that the Democratic and GOP faithful are coming out in droves upon droves. What happens to the marginal voter? The probability that he will vote actually declines, as his time costs are going through the roof. He gets to the polls, sees a wait of up to two hours and decides, "Awww...forget it! I don't like either of those bozos, anyway!"

Read the whole thing. It sounds plausible, but the problem with this argument is that doing a cost-benefit analysis on human behavior cannot take human emotions into account. Fear may be motivating some first-time voters to get out this time, or hatred, or any number of other emotions. If so, those people will not calculate the cost of standing in line in their determination to act on their motivating emotion.


That, at least, is what Matt Drudge is reporting. I've been using his website as a source (and a great collection of mainstream media links) for years as show prep for my radio show. He has lots of sources inside the media and the campaigns. His practice over the last few election cycles is to release what he knows about the preliminary exit poll data as the data is collected. Apparently, the first batch of information shows Kerry "competitive in key states" and with a "small lead in Florida and Ohio". Follow the link to read what he has learned.

These results should, of course, be taken with a grain of salt. In 2000 it was erroneous exit poll data that led to the networks calling Florida for Gore in the early going. I doubt very much they will make that same mistake again.

An update....Wonkette (a blogger) is reporting these exit poll numbers that also show good news for John Kerry...

State Kerry/Bush
AZ 45-55
CO 48-51
LA 42-57
MI 51-48
WI 52-48
PA 60-40
OH 52-48
FL 51-48
MICH 51-47
NM 50-48
MINN 58-40
WISC 52-43
IOWA 49-49
NH 57-41

The Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin and New Hampshire numbers don't look right to me. While Kerry could win them all, I don't think he will win them by such large margins. Again, this is exit poll information and could be completely wrong (or, it could be right when only those who voted between 7 AM and 11 AM or so are taken into consideration).

Here is the link to Wonkette.


Over at the Horserace Blog, Jay Cost has averaged the last national polls together and come up with a Bush lead going into the election today.

Bush: 49.0211423%
Kerry: 46.6923845%
MOE: +/- 0.85%

(Respondents: 13,026; Polls Used: Harris 11/01, Newsweek 10/30, ABC News 11/01, Gallup 10/30, GWU/Battleground 11/01, Pew 10/31, NBC News/ WSJ 10/31, CBS News/ NY Times 11/01, Marist 11/02)

Based on this result, we can be 99.999% confident Bush presently has a nationwide lead. Based on this result, we can be 95% confident that Bush presently has a nationwide lead of at least 1.31%.

I hope these polls are right. But I'm not confident about them because of the turnout factor. Pollsters weigh their results by factoring in turnout based on historical voting patterns. If turnout is so much higher than normal, all bets are off.


I caught this item via a link with the Drudge Report...

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - A Dutch filmmaker who had received death threats after releasing a movie criticizing the treatment of women under Islam was slain in Amsterdam on Tuesday, police said. A suspect, a 26-year-old man with dual Dutch-Moroccan nationality, was arrested after a shootout with officers that left him wounded, police said. Filmmaker Theo van Gogh had been threatened after the August airing of the movie "Submission," which he made with a right-wing Dutch politician who had renounced the Islamic faith of her birth. Van Gogh had received police protection after its release. Dutch national broadcaster NOS and other media reported that Van Gogh's killer shot and stabbed his victim and left a note on his body. NOS said witnesses described the attacker as having an "Arab appearance."

We are in a fight to the finish with people who reject all the fundamental beliefs of Western Civilization and are willing to do anything to achieve their goals. The enemy is powerfully motivated by an intense religious faith. Unfortunately, so many of our fellow citizens in the peaceful, prosperous West still DO NOT BELIEVE WE ARE IN AN EXISTENTIAL FIGHT. No amount of border guards, immigration laws, laws against wearing headscarves, bodyguards, airport screeners, or summits will defeat our enemies. Only a bold, radical effort to push the Islamic World into the 21st Century (an effort that won't succeed unless a majority of Muslims want it to) will serve to change the current dynamics.


As expected, George W. Bush took the lead in the early voting here in the Granite State. The North Country communities of Dixville Notch and Hart's Location cast their ballots just after midnight. Bush won Dixville Notch 19-7. Hart's Location split 15-15, with Nader getting one vote, according to the Union Leader. What does it all mean? Not much, but if you follow the link and read the UL story you'll see Kerry did a little better than Gore did in 2000.


If my little town in New Hampshire is any indication, the predictions of a large turnout are coming true. One of the poll workers I talked to just shook her head when I asked about turnout (I voted at 9:30 AM, a slow time, and waited only a few minutes). She said people were waiting 15 minutes earlier in the morning. My town only has 1750 residents. A 15-minute long line is unprecedented.


The polls on election morning put this race where many predicted it would be...a dead heat. Rasmussen has Bush slightly ahead, 50.2%-48.5%. Marist has Kerry 50%, Bush 49%. Battleground has Bush 50%, Kerry 46% (I'm hoping this one will be the right one). Tarrance Group (a GOP pollster) has Bush 51.2%, Kerry 47.8% and TIPP has it Bush 50.1%, Kerry 48.0%. Follow the link to and you can link to the details of each poll. The one thing these polls cannot account for is how large the turnout, and how the new voters will break. I'll be blogging throughout the day providing links to interesting commentary or information as well as my own thoughts.

Monday, November 01, 2004


Ever since the story broke about the study that said 100,000 Iraqis have died since the U.S.-led invasion, I've been looking for an analysis of the study to give me more information. Right when I heard the story it seemed completely implausible and downright political. Gerard Alexander in The Weekly Standard shoots holes through the study conducted by the British medical magazine Lancet.

Here's how the study worked. A team headed by a public health professor at Johns Hopkins asked a small sample of Iraqis about deaths in their households, and then extrapolated a national mortality rate from there. The first grounds for skepticism is a very unpersuasive methodology. Slate's Fred Kaplan points out that the study's method only supports a 95 percent confidence in the conclusion that the war caused somewhere between 8,000 and 194,000 deaths, an extremely wide range. In other words, even taken at face value, the study says that the mortality rate may have gone up quite a bit but also may hardly have risen at all, or may have landed anywhere in between. But the study doesn't explain this, its authors haven't highlighted it in press statements, and the Times never mentions it at all. Now, conditions in Iraq probably permitted at most a very small sample, which compromises the validity of findings. But researchers know that going in, and this team chose to press ahead anyway with a study whose results would almost inevitably be so imprecise as to practically invite being overblown and overhyped.

Read the whole thing, as Alexander points out other problems with the study.


Tomorrow over 100 million Americans will go to their polling places and cast a vote for President of the United States (as well as numerous other offices). This election will be watched more closely by more people worldwide than any other election in history. Love us or hate us, the people of this planet know that America is the indispensable country. We are the power, economically, militarily, culturally, behind Western Civilization as we know it. We are the bulwark of freedom, the last, best hope of mankind struggling against the forces of barbarism. It is an awesome responsibility. For the first time in a long time, it appears most Americans understand that responsibility and will seek to exercise it.

Which leads to the great wild card about tomorrow's election...turnout. No one really can predict how many Americans will turn out. Both major parties have launched unprecedented get-out-the-vote operations. Many states have made it easier to vote by absentee ballot, or created early voting opportunities. The flood of absentee ballot applications and the long lines in states where there is early voting are both indicators that we will see the greatest turnout (in terms of absolute numbers) in our history tomorrow.

So how will all these new voters break? Will they break to the challenger? Or will the support the incumbent? As a Bush supporter, I hope they choose to side with the President. But, if I don't miss my guess, they'll almost certainly break for Kerry, which is why I believe John Kerry will be the next President of the United States.

Why will new voters break for Kerry? Because most of them will be in the 18-39 age bracket, a group that traditionally leans more liberal and Democratic. But it's also more than that. These younger voters don't normally turn out because they don't believe they have a stake in the election. This time, I believe they see the stakes very clearly. We are at war with a barbaric enemy. Rumors of a draft cannot be dispelled no matter how hard the SecDef tries. Many young Americans have friends or former classmates at war in Afghanistan or Iraq. Therefore, the stakes for them couldn't be more personal. So, why Kerry? If these voters are concerned with the war over other issues, why won't they back Bush? Because, I believe, they have bought into the notion that the administration has bungled the war. This is the line the Kerry campaign has been trying to sell, and this is the line that the mainstream media has succeeded in selling.

This is unfortunate, because I believe the President is right in seeing the spread of democracy as the only long-term solution to the problem of international terrorism. He has failed not because he had the wrong idea about how to achieve that long-term goal, but rather because he succumbed to the short-term thinking of his political advisors in waging the war. Think of how different the situation in Iraq if we had 100,000 more troops right from the beginning? Think of how different it would look if the President had asked for a declaration of war against Al-Qaeda and Afghanistan in the days following 9/11? If he had immediately called on Congress to expand the Army by two divisions? Sadly, the President bought into the notion of his DOD civilians that the nature of war has changed, that it can be fought with fewer men and more machines at less cost in blood and treasure. For this, George W. Bush will be cast out of office.

On Wednesday, if my prediction turns out to be correct, I will write about the challenges facing John Kerry. Among the most difficult, how he can battle his own base (if, in fact, he is willing to do so...a very big IF) to achieve success in Iraq.

As for the future of this blog, starting on Wednesday another presidential election cycle will begin. Win or lose, the Republicans will certainly begin the courtship of New Hampshire necessary to get candidates in position to win the nomination. If Kerry loses, then both parties will begin that process. From my perch here in the Granite State, as I have for over a decade, I will follow the process and report and comment on it. I hope to be back sometime on the air here in New Hampshire but, whether I am on the air or not, I plan to continue this blog. I hope it will be of some use to you.


As we enter the last day of campaigning in this presidential election cycle, the last polls show a repeat of 2000. American Research Group of Manchester, NH shows a tie, Kerry 49%, Bush 48% (the one point difference is within the margin of error).

Zogby also shows a tie, Bush 48%, Kerry 47% (also within the margin of error).

Rasmussen will release it's last poll before election day at 3 PM this afternoon. Yesterday, they also showed a tie, Bush 48%, Kerry 47% (within margin of error, again). is keeping a daily average of the tracking polls. They show Bush and Kerry tied, Bush 48.5%, Kerry 46.8% (since most polls have a 2-4% margin of error, the Bush lead of 1.7% in the average would fall within that margin). Follow the link to view all the tracking polls. Notice that none of the polls gives Kerry an outright, beyond the margin of error lead. Newsweek gives Bush a 6 point margin and TIPP a 5 point margin.