Man Without Qualities

Friday, September 10, 2004

The Times And Messrs. Cheney And Kerry

A great deal of commentary has been generated by the recent Los Angeles Times editorial defending the Vice President's observation that if the Democrats win the White House, "the danger is we'll get hit again" by terrorists. But there has been little note taken of this curious passage from the editorial:

The war on terrorism is the central issue in the campaign, and both parties' candidates have various points to make about it. But the issue boils down to one question: Which candidate would do the best job, as president, of making sure that we don't "get hit again." That is what people really care about.

The editorial's point that Mr. Cheney's comment is nothing other than a bluntly phrased mirror image of arguments the Democrats have long been making is clearly correct. But the Times' assertion that terrorism is the central issue in the campaign is dubious and was certainly not necessary to defend the Vice President or otherwise make the editorial's points. True, terrorism is and must be an important issue. But that is very far from the Times' assertion that terrorism is the central issue in the campaign. And, even if terrorism is the central issue in the campaign now, it is by no means has to be (even if it should be). Indeed, Bill Clinton just had a well-reported "long conversation" with Senator Kerry advising him to move away from talking about his Vietnam war record and instead attack Bush on job creation and health care.

But something else is clear:

Terrorism is an issue "owned" by Mr. Bush. If the campaign is really framed with terrorism as its "central issue," then the Republican will almost certainly win.

No, the Times did not have to argue that terrorism is the central issue in the campaign. That argument all but awards the election to Mr. Bush. The Times didn't have to do it - but the Times did it anyway.

Whatever has Senator Kerry done to anger the Los Angeles Times this much?
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What Peggy Is Doing Now

Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie [September 09, 2004] announced that author Peggy Noonan will join the staff of the Republican National Committee as Senior Advisor to the Chairman beginning this week.
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You're Too Modest!

The Associated Press reports on its new poll:

Among all registered voters, Bush-Cheney led the Democratic ticket 51 percent to 43 percent, a modest bounce in support since early August, when Kerry-Edwards led 48-45 percent.

So according to this AP poll, among registered voters Bush-Cheney has gone from being 3% behind Kerry-Edwards to an 8% lead (51% to 43%). That's an 11% "bounce" in the relative standings of the candidates.

Is 11% a "modest" bounce?

One curious aspect of this poll is that it records Bush-Cheney as doing better among registered voters than the ticket does among likely voters. That's contrary to virtually all other polls. The definition of "registered voters" is determined by state law, but definitions of "likely voters" are seldom fully disclosed and are creatures of the posters' policies. My guess is that the AP, which has been increasingly partisan with a Democratic slant, has caused a poll to be created that incorporates a definition of "likely voters" that simply jerks the turnout towards the Democrats.

Time may tell. But at this stage in the campaign we are still so far out from the election date that actual election results will not definitively demonstrate any deficiencies in the polling methodology. The pollsters are much freer to run rampant.

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Thursday, September 09, 2004

A Climate Of Fear

The belief that George Bush has exploited the September 11 disasters to create a "climate of fear" through use of the Patriot Act and otherwise has become a common ingredient in an intense left wing loathing of the President described by Alan Bromley in OpinionJournal today.

I view that belief as so egregious that it's holders will likely one day cringe over it more than those who once acquired avacado green appliances now cringe over those memories.

But there may be a genuine political climate of fear in some parts of the United States - including my corner of Los Angeles:

Many Republicans are afraid to put Bush-Cheney bumper stickers on their cars or signs on their lawns because they are afraid of physical retaliation from angry liberals.

It is not just that one sees few Bush-Cheney bumper stickers and lawn signs - even in areas in which one knows his support is high. I do not have such a bumper sticker or lawn sign. In fact, most Bush supporters I have asked, even those who are fairly passionate on the topic, just don't think the risk of a key-scratch or broken home or car window, or much worse, is worth whatever benefit one receives from a partisan bumper sticker or lawn sign. There are just too many personal stories of cars and homes defaced and damaged.

The sentiment is not symmetrical: One sees plenty of Kerry-Edwards bumber stickers and lawn signs - even in highly Republican neighborhoods. Indeed,one sees plenty of such stickers and signs that express left-wing sentiments much more intense and partisan than mere support of the Democratic presidential ticket. Not infrequently these stickers and signs mention some form of violence or even death with respect to Republican officials.

I recall that way back when avacado green was in fashion there was a certain current of jokes about scary right wing bumber stickers. But regardless of one's political orientation, one knew such expressions of anxiety were jokes. One knew that because one could see that people didn't act on the "fears" privately - one saw lots of Democratic stickers and signs.

Now it doesn't look like a joke. Not here, not now. Here and now there is a quiet, low grade, but very real concern among many Republicans about what an increasing proportion of liberals have become and the petty violence of which more and more of them are now capable and prone. I sense they have been led to this new state by the same factors that have created the new angry Howard Dean Democrats.

I call it "a climate of fear" because nobody should have to take into account a serious likelihood that those who do not agree with a bumber sticker's sentiment will damage a car or a home. But I am not really afraid of these new liberals. They are pathetic.


STILL MORE Stanley Kurtz in on the case and has lots of interesting things to add.
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Old Time Religion

Teresa Heinz Kerry is not the only prominent Democrat who has been emitting richly aromatic condemnations of religious views held by millions of her fellow Americans. According to David Remnick's article in the New Yorker Al Gore has also recently cut loose some real stinkeroos in church:

Gore's mouth tightened. A Southern Baptist, he, too, had declared himself born again, but he clearly had disdain for Bush's public kind of faith. "It's a particular kind of religiosity," he said. "It's the American version of the same fundamentalist impulse that we see in Saudi Arabia, in Kashmir, in religions around the world: Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Muslim. They all have certain features in common. In a world of disconcerting change, when large and complex forces threaten familiar and comfortable guideposts, the natural impulse is to grab hold of the tree trunk that seems to have the deepest roots and hold on for dear life and never question the possibility that it's not going to be the source of your salvation. And the deepest roots are in philosophical and religious traditions that go way back. You don't hear very much from them about the Sermon on the Mount, you don't hear very much about the teachings of Jesus on giving to the poor, or the beatitudes. It's the vengeance, the brimstone."
I don't know what Mr. Gore is fussing about. He says he is a Baptist and President Bush is a Methodist. Norman Maclean famously wrote in A River Runs Through It:

"Methodists are Baptists who can read."

Personally, I think Mr. Gore and Mrs. Heinz-Kerry should just stay as far away from criticisms of other Americans' religions as possible. That was the approach of the Founders, including Thomas Jefferson - surely the most famous Democrat who never was a Democrat. These more modern Democrats should try singing:

If it was good enough for the Founders, then it's good enough for me!

[Thanks to James Taranto for the original link.]

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Wednesday, September 08, 2004

A Little Life

Two days ago, on a clear, hot Labor Day afternoon in Los Angeles, a little innocent life winked out somewhere near my home.

Lars was just a long-haired ginger tabby cat who showed up one day with a similarly colored short-haired litter mate we named "Nemo." They made themselves at home. We fed them and they tended the small vermin that otherwise pestered the property: rats, ground squirrels, moles, the usual. After Nemo disappeared some months ago, we also provided affection to Lars. He hadn't required or requested human affection while he had Nemo - they were each others' best companions. They remained half-wild, living in the yard and tolerating the humans on their turf only because we provided the food. We joked that they considered us the "big cats." But after Lars lost his brother he became steadily more affectionate and familiar and, eventually, a friend.

On Sunday the family enjoyed dinner on the patio. The evening was unusually hot and dry - like a real desert. Maybe it was an evening more like Los Angeles used to have often, before humans changed the area so much with development and gardens and foreign waters. A family of raccoons showed up to filch food from Lars' bowl. There must have been about seven of the cheeky, elegant creatures. We watched each other - humans and masked critters - while they made off with their goodies.

But there is a neighbor who does not like the raccoons - who descend on us from Griffith Park, just a few blocks away. He says they eat his back yard goldfish - lovely, flickering orange darts through a green pool. Years ago, within a year of our purchase of the house, this neighbor - a horrible, ugly little man bearing the name of "Gould" - actually telephoned me to request that I contribute financially to his killing the raccoons. Of course, that is illegal as well as offensive - and I told him that. He rejected all suggestions that he employ shocker fences or nylon underwater nets or any number of other devices that would protect his Piscean treasures. I know he poisoned the raccoons - although he denies it. Within days of his unsuccessful request for my subsidy, the then-current raccoons vanished - and so did my then-current cat, a gray tabby we had acquired with the property, a kind of genius loci. Within days a skunk appeared on the back stairs, staggering and disoriented, and died. Shortly thereafter we discovered a mother opossum in the yard, dead, with ten or twelve tiny kittens still clinging to her nipples. Animal control explained there was no helping them - and took the kittens away to be put down. Eventually the carnage abated. Nemo and Lars materialized some months later.

The two brothers occupied the premises for ten years. I forgot about the gray tabby and the raccoons and the poison. Then, some months ago, I noticed a raccoon on the property. It vanished over the Gould fence and I thought nothing of it. Shortly after that, Nemo disappeared.

On Monday morning my five-year-old son came in from the back yard with the urgent message that Lars was meowing weakly on the patio and that I should come right away. Lars was clearly very sick. Worse, his face distinctly indicated that he knew it - and that it was very, very bad. He wanted love. I sat on the patio for some time, stroking his fur. He put the side of his face on my hand. Eventually, I got up to go to my home office to locate an animal hospital opened on Labor Day. By the time I had found one, Lars had walked away. I haven't seen him since.

I'm sure I never will.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2004

A Deeper And More Comprehensive Wackiness At The New York Times

What the heck could be happening among New York Times reporters that might possibly explain the paper's front page weeper, A Universe of Loss and Recovery for 9/11 Families, Survey Shows? Quoted blocs below are all from that article:

A deeper and more comprehensive portrait ... emerges from a New York Times survey comprising scores of detailed interviews exploring the families' [of September 11 World Trade Center victims] emotional, physical and spiritual status. That survey found lives colored by continuing pain. Almost half still have a hard time getting a good night's sleep. A few said they no longer flew on airplanes. About a third have changed jobs or quit. About one in five have moved since 2001, and a fifth of those who still live where they did on Sept. 11 would move if they could. Very few who lost a spouse have remarried.

We should all have great sympathy for the families of 9-11 victims - and one assumes the Times' reporters who committed this article do, too. But sympathy does not excuse the Times from failing to provide any indication whatsoever as to how its survey respondents characteristics differ (1) now from what they were prior to the disaster or (2) from a similar group in the general population. Do the Times' respondents differ from the population generally in respect of the characteristics identified by the Times? Who knows! For example, it is undeniably sad that, of all survey respondents, almost half still have a hard time getting a good night's sleep. The Times evidently wants its readers to believe that its respondents disproportionately have trouble sleeping. But according to a recent National Sleep Foundation national survey among adults 55 to 84 years of age - the 2003 Sleep in America poll - about one-half of all older adults report having one or more symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights a week (48%). Indeed, it has been reported that up to 90 percent of older people report some type of sleep problem. But perhaps the Times' respondents included not so many older people - perhaps the Times spoke to more young parents. They hardly ever get a good nights sleep because babies won't let that happen.

Similarly, the Times sobs: About one in five have moved since 2001, and a fifth of those who still live where they did on Sept. 11 would move if they could. Dear me - the Times implies - the respondents' just can't stand staying where the memories of September 11 linger so painfully. But the Census Bureau reports that in a typical recent year - March 1999 to March 2000 - over 40 million Americans move. In the three years since September 11 approximately 120 million Americans have moved (ignoring double movers) - more than one in three of the entire population of about 300 Million. The real question the Times survey poses is: Why aren't the families of September 11 victims moving as much as the rest of us? There are a lot of reasons people move - or don't. But the Times doesn't care to sort any of that out.

What is one to make of findings highlighted by the Times such as "A few said they no longer flew on airplanes." and "Very few who lost a spouse have remarried." For example, surely in any given three-year period and any given population there are "a few" people who no longer fly on airplanes. How does this observation shed any light? And is it surprising or different that about a third of respondents have changed jobs or quit since 2001? Well, that observation suggests that the victims may have had a rather smaller number of retired, laid-off and stay-at-home relatives than is found in the population generally, since retired people, fired people and non-working spouses don't usually "change jobs or quit." Perhaps the Times in this case is just looking at working respondents - but doesn't tell us. In ordinary years people in the New York financial industry seem to me to change jobs a lot more than people in the population generally. Is that also true of their families? Who knows? - and the Times doesn't care.

Nor does the Times even mention whether the survey bothered to ask questions like: Did you have a hard time getting a good night's sleep before September 11? Or Did you change jobs or quit or move in the three years prior to the September 11 attacks? Nor did the Times look into the pre-September 11 remarriage characteristics of these people in any way - although the fact that "very few" have since remarried after the disasters was noted. In other words, the Times' "deeper and more comprehensive portrait" apparently cannot tell us how the respondents lives were changed by their September 11 experiences. The closest the Times comes to such an understanding is in noting that "about a fifth [of respondents] attend religious services more often than they used to" and that "one in 12 reported trying harder to "spend more time" with family and friends." But, even here, consider that "one in 12" observation. Does that seem high - the Times seems to think it is? My informal and unscientific survey of friends and acquaintances asking exactly that question ("Are you now trying to spend more time with family and friends than you were three years ago?) yielded a far higher percentage of respondents who said they were "trying" than "one in 12."

The Times used standard survey methods in questioning the relatives or close friends of victims who died at the trade center; relatives of those killed on the jetliners or at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania were not included. Still, the survey of relatives differed from a typical poll. Because the total number of relatives cannot be known with absolute certainty, the responses cannot be applied to all relatives with the statistical precision of a poll. For that reason, no margin of sampling error could be calculated.

A perceptive reader e-mails about this passage:

So, in a Presidential poll, we must conclude either:
(a) The total number of voters is known with "absolute certainty,"
which would probably be a scoop both parties would like to see reported; or
(b) Times polls should refrain from citing margins of error; or
(c) Times journalists are statistically illiterate.

It's not even clear from the article who was surveyed. The article explains that the Times used standard survey methods in questioning the relatives or close friends of victims who died at the trade center ... but then the article goes on to fuss over just relatives, not close friends.

So who was surveyed - "relatives" or "relatives or close friends?" We are then told that the total number of relatives cannot be known with absolute certainty. Is the Times suggesting that the total number of close friends of a given victim can be known with absolute certainty? Perhaps a "close friend" is defined by the Times to be an actual respondent self-identified as a "close friend." Of course, in that case the total number of close friends of a given victim can be known with absolute certainty. Is this deeper and more comprehensive portrait of the victims' families and close friends based on such a meaningless tautology?

The families are, it turns out, acutely aware of how others see them. Close to half those interviewed believe that other people feel too much has been said about what happened on 9/11. A third said friends and neighbors avoided talking about the attacks when they are around.

Unless the respondents' are accurate in their observations, none of this indicates that the families are acutely aware of how others see them. For example, is it true that the public really generally believes what one respondent, William Wilson, said: "They've got this idea that we're all multimillionaires and why don't we just get over it, or life goes on - that whole general drift." I feel for Mr. Wilson, but I don't think the public is as hard hearted as he thinks in his grief. He doesn't seem to be "acutely aware," he seems to be upset and distracted.

At the same time, they are worried about another terror attack on New York. More than three-quarters described themselves as "very concerned" about another attack, a concern shared by two-thirds of New York City residents, according to a separate Times poll completed at about the same time. Other relatives said the government's color-coded threat warnings had made them feel anxious, not secure. Most said, though, that they were not doing anything differently since the most recent change in the alert level.

How does identifying a characteristic of the respondents that is shared by two-thirds of New York City residents help to illuminate how these people have been particularly affected by the September 11 attacks?

The Times seems to present the fact that the government's color-coded threat warnings had made them feel anxious, not secure as somehow bad or peculiar - even a failure on the government's part. But the threat warnings are supposed to make people "feel anxious" - just as, say, the fire alarm going off is supposed to make the residents in the house "feel anxious." A good warning system makes people feel secure in the large because it makes them feel anxious when it is activated. Another Times observation suggests that the respondents do feel very secure (even alarmingly or irrationally secure), although the Times reporters don't seem to understand the significance of their findings:

The relatives also share the alarm felt by other New Yorkers over how the city would handle another attack. In the poll of city residents, 51 percent said the city was not adequately prepared to deal with one.

Since its very unlikely that many New York City residents have "no opinion" on this topic, this finding seems to imply that almost one-half of New York City residents (and, apparently, the families of September 11 victims) think the city is adequately prepared to deal with another attack like the September 11 disaster.

Think about that. One-in-two New York City residents and members of victims' families think the city is adequately prepared. This is exactly the kind of delusional thinking that Democrats are counting on to make people think that terrorism is no longer the issue it once was. Now there's a story.
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Why Tell? II

A perceptive reader e-mails some telling observations:

I think the whole LA Times story is a misdirection from Karl Rove. He may talk about turning out the base, and I believe Bush and Co. have spent the last year building a very solid grassroots organization in key areas. All the little indications are that the Republican base is highly energized (more TV viewers for the RNC than the DNC, the polls showing Bush holding 90-95% of Republicans etc.)

The key to understanding Rove's strategy is to notice where Bush has campaigned since the RNC convention last week:

Scranton, PA
Cleveland-Akron, OH
West Alllis, WI
Erie, PA

What do these areas have in common? Why, heavily unioniised, blue-collar Reagan Democrats, of course. Who appealed to these folks at the convention? Zell Miller.

This is the strategy for the Bush campaign: Get the Reagan Democrat vote, and my indications are that they are succeeding big time.

(BTW, Kerry is having to spend time and effort in these areas too, where he should have had tied up the base long ago.)

Makes sense to me.


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Monday, September 06, 2004

The Fuss And The Fury And The Coverage

John Kerry likes to be seen by the media engaging in lots of sports and physical activities. Windsurfing. Skiing. Football. Motorcycling. Bicycling. Hunting. Scuba. Bowling. Hockey. Baseball. More. He likes having the media record him in such activities that he sometimes has them there at times and places that any political professional would recognize as posing very real and obvious potential political costs, costs the New York Times reported he incurred on one of his recent jaunts:

Several Democrats said they were not happy to see news photographs of Mr. Kerry windsurfing in the Atlantic waters off Nantucket during the convention, suggesting that it underlined the very image of Mr. Kerry - as a wealthy, culturally out-of-touch liberal - that the Republicans were trying to convey.

"I might have gone windsurfing - you certainly have a right to clear your head,'' said Mr. Rendell, a former head of the Democratic National Committee. "But I'm not sure I would have taken the press with me."
Mr. Rendell's comment is clearly correct and very general. The issue is not Senator Kerry's heavy engagement in sports and other physical activities - he may just like such things and/or use them to clear his head. The question concerns why he brings the media along so often even though their coverage of his sporting jaunts often impose clear costs on his political ambitions. His media-covered bicycle fall costs him substantially - including by suggesting that he is a klutz (shades of Gerald Ford!) and by drawing attention to his hyper-expensive custom Serotta bicycle. Worse for the Senator, his sporting activities are often a rather bad mix with his often rather nasty personality. For example, while snowboarding in Ketchum, Idaho, Senator Kerry was knocked over by one of the Secret Service men assigned to protect him. When asked about the crash by a reporter, the Senator infamously replied , "I don't fall down. That son-of-a-bitch ran into me." Or "knocked me over," depending on which version you heard. Snopes observed:

[T]hat Mr. Kerry didn't deliver the insult directly might speak worse of him.... [I]t's almost understandable to call the other party to an accident all manner of cuss words in the immediate aftermath of a collision. Such an outburst is akin to dancing about swearing a blue streak after dropping a hammer on your foot, in that what is vented - though heartily felt at the time - is inappropriate and is realized to be such once the moment has passed. Yet, once there is distance between the accident and the fulmination, the "heat of the moment" defense no longer applies in that sober reflection is presumed to have taken place in the interim.
So why does Senator Kerry bring the media along on his sporting jaunts so often, even with a potential downside so obvious and potentially serious and sometimes clearly experienced? Certainly some physical activity helps present the image of a vigorous leader. But the current and most past presidents have not felt the need to go beyond taking the media along on presidential jogs or periodic wood chopping on the ranch. Why does John Kerry go so much further?

Well, one thing an over-documented sporting life has been used for in the past is to conceal serious health problems - with the most notorious example being John F. Kerry's idol, John F. Kennedy. John Kennedy is now known to have been a very sick man, with a seriously injured back and Addison disease, among other problems. At critical points in his term he was impaired by powerful painkilling and anti-inflammatory drugs. It is now also known that John Kennedy and his organization used an ultra-active media campaign depicting Mr. Kennedy in sporting and physical activities to distract attention and counter adverse consequences arising from his precarious health.

Mr. Kerry has refused to date to release his complete medical records. He is a cancer survivor. John Kerry may also suffer from parasomnia, a sleep disorder, which can manifest in many ways, including insomnia, sleepwalking, night terrors, and restless leg syndrome, among others.

Would distracting attention from those infirmities be worth the cost of the political embarrassment of bringing the media along on so many sporting jaunts?

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Sunday, September 05, 2004


The Kerry campaign and other Democrats have been arguing that illegal - indeed, criminal - co-ordination of the Bush campaign and the Swiftees could be all but deduced from a single attorney having them both as clients. But, come on - everyone knew the Democrats were just joshing, right?

Now the New York Times reports:

Among the better-known former Clinton aides who are expected to play an increasingly prominent role [in the Kerry-Edwards campaign] are James Carville, Paul Begala and Stanley Greenberg, campaign aides said. .... Mr. Greenberg, who was Mr. Clinton's pollster in 1992, resigned Tuesday as the pollster for independent Democratic groups that have been running advertisements attacking Mr. [Bush*] so that he would be permitted, under the law, to play a more prominent role in advising Mr. Kerry's campaign.

[The Times commits what seems to be a bizarre typographical error here. The sentence actually reads: Mr. Greenberg, who was Mr. Clinton's pollster in 1992, resigned Tuesday as the pollster for independent Democratic groups that have been running advertisements attacking Mr. Clinton ...]

Stanley Greenberg sits on's advisory board and is otherwise up to his neck in strategic decision making for anti-Bush 527's.
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Why Tell?

Perhaps more amazing than the thought that a man who has made, say, billions of dollars is really telling the world how to do it in a book costing the reader, say, $12 - after ordinary discounting - is the thought that a Presidential campaign is really telling the world its strategy for winning the election.

Why would any sensible campaign let such information out more than is absolutely necessary to effect the strategy? The benefits to the campaign from releasing such information is difficult to identify - but the potential costs are obvious and huge.

Does Macy's tell Gimbel's? Maybe Gimbel's told Macy's - or the media - too often. That might explain why there's no Gimbel's today.

Put another way: I don't believe that the Bush campaign told the Los Angeles Times (the Los Angeles Times!!!! Ronald Brownstein!!!) anything meaningful and/or reliable about the Bush-Cheney campaign strategy. Yes, the Republican campaign obviously wants Republicans to turn out - and just as obviously the Republicans are making efforts to make that happen. But why would the campaign share with Mr. Brownstein its true thinking on whether turnout or swing voters are more significant? There is no reason - I don't think the campaign did any such thing. And I think the Times is silly to think otherwise - and so is anyone who believes the Times' article.

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More On Bounce

The extent of the Kerry-Edwards predicament following the no-or-negative-bounce Boston Democratic Convention compared with the certain-but-not-how-much-bounce of the Republican New York Convention can be sensed by considering how many historical precedents were shattered this year, as noted by the Gallup Organization:

The lowest bounce recorded is that seen for Kerry following this year's Democratic convention. Support for Kerry actually declined by one point among registered voters (and two points among likely voters) over the course of the convention -- a "negative bounce." Kerry is not the first candidate to experience no boon from his convention. George McGovern saw no change in support for his candidacy spanning the Democratic convention in 1972. ....

1. The order in which the conventions occur. Looking at all bounces between 1964 and 2000, there appears... to be a real advantage in terms of a ticket's bounce when that party's convention comes first. ....

2. Whether the party holding the convention is currently in the White House. Including 1992 in the calculations, challengers look like they have a significant edge over incumbents (7.1 points for challengers vs. 5.5 points for incumbents).

3. The party effect. ... When including 1992, the Democrats surge ahead on this comparison, leading Republicans by more than a full point: 6.9 points vs. 5.6 points. ....

Out of the 17 elections since 1936, 12 included an incumbent seeking re-election -- as Bush is now. Of the nine successful incumbents, all but one (Truman) were ahead as of Labor Day. Of the three unsuccessful incumbents, only one (Jimmy Carter in 1980) was ahead on Labor Day, while the other two (Ford in 1976 and Bush in 1992) were behind. While both Ford and Bush managed to shrink their Labor Day deficits by Election Day, neither managed to win.

Clearly, the odds favor Bush's re-election if he can establish a lead over Kerry on Labor Day, and the odds obviously become greater the larger Bush's lead over Kerry is at that point. But it is important to note that in more competitive elections such as the one this year, the candidates' standing on Labor Day, alone, is not necessarily strongly correlated with the outcome. In elections in which the Labor Day gap was five points or fewer, the leading candidate prevailed only twice (in 1936 and 1940) and lost three times (in 1960, 1980, and 2000). It is important to note that in 1960 and 2000, the leads were not outside the polls' margins of error, so the candidates could be considered to have been tied on Labor Day.

Note: The 1992 election was arguably unusual, and Gallup includes a separate analysis excluding that election - an analysis which is deleted above and which in some respects tends to make Kerry-Edwards look less like an alarming failure. However, every election has its own unusual features. Gerald Ford, for example, was an unusual "incumbent." I can see no special reason to specifically exclude 1992 instead of, say, 1976 - so I don't.

UPDATE: Gallup reports that Bush-Cheney leads by 7% immediately following the Convention.
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Some Substantiated Charges

Although many of the charges against Senator Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth are supported by testimony of witnesses present at the scene, the New York Times insists on referring to the Swiftee charges as "unsubstantiated." Does the Times just have very high standards? After all, there are lots of claims out there about lots of things and supported by varying amounts of evidence. The Times, like every media outlet, has to have its own standards as to what constitutes an "unsubstantiated" claim.

Given how persnickety the Times has been about the Swiftee claims, isn't it passing strange that the Times has not even used the word "unsubstantiated" in almost any article it has run recently except to describe the Swiftee claims. Nor has the Times recently referred to any other claim by any other person anywhere in the world about any other topic as "unsubstantiated." The few Times articles that have even used the word "unsubstantiated" do not use it to describe an "unsubstantiated" claim, as in this Times article that appears towards the end of the search list regarding Vermont and drugs.

And then there is the curiously asymmetrical treatment the Times gives to the Swiftee charges compared to the treatment of similar Democratic charges against Mr. Bush. For example, in a single Times article we find these two passages:

The anger over [John Kerry's] antiwar period remains on fire to this day, consuming a group of veterans who have lobbed unsubstantiated charges that he did not earn his medals and are questioning his fitness to be president. ....

It was ... when Mr. Bush left his Texas Air National Guard unit to transfer to Alabama, that has led Democrats to question how and where he performed his prescribed military service ... Mr. Bush has consistently said he never requested special treatment, though Ben Barnes, who was speaker of the Texas House in 1968, said in 1999 that he had been asked by a Houston businessman - not by the Bush family - to recommend Mr. Bush for a pilot's slot, and that he had done so.

The Times is far too modest. Not only has Mr. Bush consistently said he never requested special treatment, the only "evidence" adduced by the Times to the contrary is the bald statement by Ben Barnes, a highly active Democrat and Bush opponent, that he was asked by "a Houston businessman - not by the Bush family - to recommend Mr. Bush for a pilot's slot, and that he had done so." Why is Mr. Barnes' statement enough to allow the Times to omit the word "unsubstantiated" from its description of the Democratic charges - but the testimony of the many Swiftees is not enough for the Times to drop the word when describing their charges? The Times reports that Mr. Barnes, a highly interested, partisan and obviously biased "witness," first made his claim against Mr. Bush in 1999 - long after the fact. Why cannot Mr. Barnes even come up with a copy of his letter of recommendation for Mr. Bush or any other written documentation or even the name of the person to whom he made the recommendation? - surely the Speaker of the Texas House keeps records of such things. And even if Mr. Barnes' claim were correct, the Times presents no evidence that Mr. Barnes' "recommendation" had any effect - not even Mr. Barnes says that he knows that his recommendation made any difference.

In short, why does it take so little for the Times to "substantiate" a charge against Mr. Bush but so much to "substantiate" a charge against Senator Kerry?

I charge bias against the Times. And I submit that my charge is well substantiated by the text of the Times itself - essentially a confession in the Gray Lady's own hand.

Instapundit has more on the curiously asymmetrical Times.
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How Does The AP Live This Kind Of Thing Down?

From Don Luskin:

Here's the whole chapter-and-verse on the affair of the AP wire story that erroneously stated that after announcing Clinton's heart problems, "Bush's audience of thousands in West Allis, Wis., booed. Bush did nothing to stop them." Read the whole story -- it's an amazing example of press bias. But be sure to listen to this audio-clip so you'll have no doubt of what really happened. It's an open and shut case of a liberal reporter just flat-out lying. Now the only question is how many liberal bloggers (and liberal New York Times columnists) are going to cite this new urban legend as reality.

Does the Associated Press have no shame at all? Where's the explicit correction? - if one exists, I haven't seen it. Where's the AP apology?
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Yet Another Kind Of Bounce

TradeSports is now betting on a 60%-40% Bush-Kerry finish in November.

From Viking Pundit.
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Smaller Bounce?

Sunday September 05, 2004:

The Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll shows President George W. Bush with 48% of the vote and Senator John Kerry with 46%. The Tracking Poll is updated daily by noon Eastern. Two-thirds of the interview for today's report were completed after the President's speech on Thursday night.

That's not much bounce - even less than yesterday. But so far Rasmussen seems to be a bit anomalous. Zogby, TIME and Newsweek all show a bounce of at least 9%. But some of those polls may have sampling problems exaggerating the bounce.

By the way: "Oversampling" of one group or another does not by itself invalidate a poll or make it misleading. One of the black arts of polling is "adjusting" the final results from the raw data for exactly over and under sampling. Almost all major pollsters make such adjustments - but most are very discrete about revealing how they adjust. For example, pollsters are aware that under certain conditions and at certain times one group or another tends to be home to answer the telephone, and that some people just won't respond to surveys very often even when they do answer the telephone - and the pollsters adjust for all that.

The problems arise when the "adjustments" are bad. For example, the infamous Los Angeles Times polls purporting to show Gray Davis not doing too badly virtually on the eve of his landslide recall seems to have "adjusted" its raw data by assuming voters favorably disposed to Mr. Davis would turn out fairly massively. They didn't. A recent Los Angeles Times presidential preference poll unfavorable to Bush-Cheney was widely criticized because it clearly oversampled Democrats - and from the final results it was just as clear that the pollsters didn't adjust correctly for the oversampling.

I cannot determine from the TIME, Newsweek and Zogby Polls whether they have been adjusted at all, or at all appropriately.
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Caught ... Not Caught

The AFP:

A sickly Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri was captured after a deadly gun battle in his hometown north of Baghdad, bringing to justice the last giant of Saddam Hussein's regime after a year-and-a-half manhunt, officials said. Iraq's national guard closed in on Ibrahim, stricken with leukemia, as he received a blood transfusion at a medical clinic in his birthplace of Ad-Dawr on Saturday, interior ministry spokesman Colonel Adnan Abdelrahman told AFP.
The BBC:
Initial announcements by the Iraqi authorities suggested he had been arrested on Saturday while receiving treatment at a clinic near Tikrit. But the US military have made it clear he is not in their custody, and the Iraqi national guard later denied involvement in any operation.

Beats me!
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Catherine Seipp Undoes Maureen Dowd

An earlier post suggested that the American news market seems to be heading the way of the British news market - with outfits such as CNN and the Times bearing an increasing resemblance to loony left shops such as the Guardian. The more the CNN's and New York Times of the American market have been countered by the likes of Fox News, the shriller and more tendentious the CNN's and New York Times become. On the opinion pages side of the equation, the persistence of Maureen Dowd at the Times makes a nice "Exhibit "A."

Big Mo has brought some of her columns together in the form of an unnecessary book, Bushworld. Catherine Seipp takes the book apart. It's no contest - but it is funny.
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Florida. Again, Florida.

Can it be be true? The radar map seems to prove it!

There, at the very center of an immense mass of superheated air that entered Florida through West Palm Beach and is now circulating interminably over the state, fed by the bloviations of endless media gas bags, one seems to just make out the contours of an immense hanging chad.
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Fear And Loathing: A Savage Journey Into The Heart Of Teresa Heinz-Kerry

Teresa Heinz Kerry recently and infamously told one of her audiences "We need to turn back some of the creeping, un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits that are coming into some of our politics." She did not grace us with what she regards those "un-American traits" to be - but a speech she gave in 1994 and rediscovered by the Los Angeles Times suggests that she may regard the "traits" of conservative Christians to be un-American. From her 1994 comments, Pope Teresa also regards such "traits" as "un-Christian":

Americans have a newfound suspicion of those who are not like us. We see it in the political rise of the so-called Christian right.

Rather than preach Christ's gospel of love and tolerance, this group broadcasts its hatred for homosexuals and liberals and minorities and feminists. The movement calls itself Christian, but its appeal is to dark corners of the human soul - fear, loathing, the desire for uniformity, the need for conformity.

The term "un-American" is hardly well defined, I have no idea if Mrs. Kerry's comments are "un-American." But her asserting sweepingly of another Christian sect that its appeal is to dark corners of the human soul - fear, loathing, the desire for uniformity, the need for conformity is revolting.

Teresa Heinz Kerry says she is a Catholic. Not so long ago in this country Catholics could not realistically aspire to the Presidency because - that sect was long reviled as un-American by those in the "Know-Nothing" tradition. Times have changed for the better. But Mrs. Kerry's statement itself points backwards into those dark corners of the human soul ? fear, loathing, the desire for uniformity, the need for conformity that America left behind with the Know Nothings.

I will not presume to preach to a bishop. But in my opinion the Catholic bishops of this country may wish to point out in public and in the spirit of Vatican II that the American Catholic church does not regard politically active conservative Christians the way Mrs. Kerry regards them - including politically active conservative Christians in the highly non-Catholic evangelical tradition. The bishops might also point out that the Catholic church disapproves of homosexual activity (including gay marriage), abortion, female priests and many other things favored or tolerated by liberals - but the Church does not regard its teachings as broadcasting its hatred for homosexuals and liberals and minorities and feminists. The bishops might also ask Mrs. Heinz-Kerry whether she agrees. As noted above, Teresa Heinz Kerry says she is a Catholic. So does John Kerry.

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You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Quoted blocs below are from the New York Times:

Senator Bob Graham of Florida, a former rival of Mr. Kerry for the Democratic nomination, said Mr. Kerry still had not settled on a defining theme to counter what Democrats called the compelling theme of security hammered into viewers of the Republican convention.

"The people are there, the candidate is there; it's the reason to vote for the candidate that's still a little out of focus," Mr. Graham said.

Ah, yes. I knew there was something a little out of focus. The Democrats are just missing the reason to vote for the candidate. Fix that one little detail and everything will turn out fine. Just fine.

And Senator Christopher J. Dodd ... was one of several Democrats who said they now thought Mr. Kerry had made a mistake at his convention in July by talking mainly about his history as a Vietnam War veteran and criticizing Mr. Bush's policies, without offering a vision of what a Kerry term would be like.

Yes, yes, that "vision thing" again. I suppose some critical meanie might take a candidate's failure to present any vision whatsoever of his term in office in favor of harping on an inflated, minor, 35-year-old war record as a "mistake." Isn't Senator Dodd just picking?

Mr. Dodd said ... "Vietnam, in terms of John Kerry's service, that was a good point to make, but making it such a central point sort of invited the kind of response you've seen." .... Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana said Mr. Kerry had spent too much time talking about national security, including his own views on the Iraq war, and overplayed Mr. Kerry's Vietnam war experience, inviting the attacks that have dominated debate in recent weeks.

So Senators Dodd and Bayh both think that John Kerry "invited the kind of response you've seen" - that is, he invited the Swiftee ads, "the attacks that have dominated debate in recent weeks." That's just what the Swiftee vets and their advocates have been saying all along. Who knew Senators Dodd and Bayh were two of them?

Mr. Kerry's situation is complicated by the fact that because the Republicans scheduled their convention so late, there is relatively little time to turn things around.

Yes, that was the idea. And the Democrats not only have relatively little time to turn things around, but relatively little money to turn things around - thanks to the campaign finance "reform" laws they cherish so.

Democrats ... invoked Mr. Kerry's history of getting more focused on a contest only when he was faced with the prospect of imminent defeat.

Such Democrats seem to believe that either (1) Senator Kerry will remain unfocused or (2) the Senator is now "faced with the prospect of imminent defeat." Woody Allen expressed a similar idea in My Speech to the Graduates:

More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.

No doubt such Democrats are offering up similar prayers at this very moment.

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