Thursday, November 11, 2004

Veterans Day

The torch is passed. Posted by Hello

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from falling hands we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
A heartfelt thank you to all of those who have served.

To our troops serving in Iraq and around the world, and to all our allies, both old an new, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

To those former allies who have broken faith, remember those of yours who gave their all and think of what you owe them.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

More Debunking

Josh Levin, writing in Slate, also debunks the Olbermann conspiracy theories in Still Raging Against the Machines - Debunking another election conspiracy theory:

The big problem with this theory is that this year's results match those from 2000. (And with the exception of Dixie, which used punch cards in 2000, all of these counties used optical-scan machines four years ago.) In 2000, Baker County had 83 percent registered Democrats, and 69 percent of the county's voters went for Bush. Dixie County had 86 percent registered Democrats, and 58 percent went for Bush. Franklin County: 81 percent registered Dems, 53 percent for Bush. Holmes County: 83 percent registered Dems, 68 percent for Bush. (For complete 2000 results in Florida by county, look here. For 2000 results as compared to voter registrations, look here.)

While each of these counties had a lower percentage of Bush voters in 2000 than in 2004, the 2000 election was much closer than this one. Each of these counties also appears to be moving toward the GOP. In all four, there is a lower percentage of registered Democrats and a higher percentage of registered Republicans in 2004 than in 2000.

Of course, you could argue that this similarity to the 2000 results just points to an even bigger conspiracy. But that's a bit, well, crazy. Take a look at the geography: All four counties are either in Florida's panhandle—known by some as the Redneck Riviera—or the northern part of the state. Like their neighbors in Georgia and Alabama, northern Florida voters tend to be very conservative. Baker, Dixie, Franklin, and Holmes counties are represented in the House by two Republicans and a Blue Dog Democrat who lists his No. 1 issue as "Second Amendment rights." Democratic registrations here are more an artifact of history than evidence of massive fraud.

This article was a follow-up to Levin's earlier round-up of election conspiracy theories inspired by electronic voting, Rage Against the Machines , which is well worth reading.

Keith Olbermann Loses It

In the spirit of Yogi Berra's "It ain't over till its over!", former humorous sportscaster turned deranged political pundit Keith Olbermann refuses to concede defeat:

Here's an interesting little sidebar of our system of government confirmed recently by the crack Countdown research staff: no Presidential candidate’s concession speech is legally binding. The only determinants of the outcome of election are the reports of the state returns boards and the vote of the Electoral College.

That’s right. Richard Nixon may have phoned John Kennedy in November, 1960, and congratulated him through clenched teeth. But if the FBI had burst into Kennedy headquarters in Chicago a week later and walked out with all the file cabinets and a bunch of employees with their raincoats drawn up over their heads, nothing Nixon had said would've prevented him, and not JFK, from taking the oath of office the following January.

This is mentioned because there is a small but blood-curdling set of news stories that right now exists somewhere between the world of investigative journalism, and the world of the Reynolds Wrap Hat. And while the group's ultimate home remains unclear - so might our election of just a week ago.
That post, from November 7th, Olbermann's first since the early hours of November 3rd, apparently marks his descent into "Reynolds Wrap" territory.

The focus of Mr. Olbermann's rant is the fact that certain counties in Florida where the majority of registered voters are Democrats, went for Bush. Evidence of the vast right wing conspiracy at work? Were voters intimidated? Were electronic voting machines rigged?

Only in Keith's fevered dreams. As the Yale Free Press Blog points out in Vast. Right. Winged., these same counties went for Bush over Gore in 2000 and for Dole over Clinton in 1996:

The reason these counties have such high Democratic registrations is because they likely still have traditional Southern loyalties to the Democrats, but being in Northern Florida and the Panhandle, they are all very very conservative. No wonder, they even voted for Dole!
The discrepancy is merely a reflection of the solidification of the South as a Republican bastion - voting habits have changed faster than party registrations. I can understand that journalists can't be experts in every field, but can they at least do a bare minimum of research before airing crackpot theories?

Monday, November 08, 2004

King of the Hill

Wolf Blitzer on CNN just segued into a report on Arafat with a line that the Palestinian people are asking themselves "What now? Who takes over?"

That's part of the problem with the Palestinian "State" - it's not one. It's an enclave ceded to and controlled by a gang of ruthless terrorists. Isn't there an "elected" Prime Minister? Shouldn't he have some role? No, instead it will be a dog-eat-dog struggle to see who ends up sitting on top of the ruins at Ramallah.

A Win Over Media Bias

Michael Barone in U.S. News & World Report explains Bush's win as a victory of love over hate:
Millions of Democrats and leftists have been seething with hatred for George W. Bush for years, and many of them lined up before the polls opened to cast their votes against him--one reason, apparently, that the exit poll results turned out to favor Democrats more than did the actual results. But Republicans full of love, or at least affection, for George W. Bush turned out steadily later in the day or sent in their ballots days before.
Barone argues that the current electoral results, not just for the presidency, but for Congress as well, following on the heels of similar results in 2002 indicate that this is now a "51 percent nation" with the majority leaning Republican.

Barone also turns his eye on those who aided and abetted the "anyone but Bush" crowd, the MSM:
He has been the target all year of vicious and biased coverage from old media, many if not most of whose personnel saw their job as removing this scourge from the presidency. The 60 Minutes story about Bush's Air National Guard service, which was based on obviously forged documents, is only the most egregious example. Old media have headlined violence in Iraq and reported almost nothing about positive developments there; they highlighted the charges of self-promoter Joseph Wilson and spoke nary a word when they were proved bogus; they have given good economic news far less positive coverage, studies show, than they did when Bill Clinton was in office.
The handicap provided by the negative drumbeat of the MSM makes Bush's victory all the more impressive.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Where Do Terrorists Come From?

Jonathan Last, writing in The Weekly Standard, argues convincingly against the assumption that Bush's policies are creating more terrorists than say John Kerry's more nuanced approach. His points:

* Prior to George W. Bush, American policy towards Islamic extremism was basically one of malign neglect. This policy--the adverse of Bush's--seems to have created very many terrorists. Or at the very least, it seems to have created very many terrorist attacks. See September 11, 2001.

* Kaus and others theorize that America's war on terrorism is helping recruit many new terrorists. Maybe, maybe not. There's no proof either way. There is proof, however, that soft American policy in Somalia--again, the opposite of Bush--was used as actual al Qaeda recruiting propaganda. (Remember that bin Laden called America the "weak horse.") So it would seem that, at the very least, the terrorists thought the old, softer, American policies were good for helping them create new terrorists.

* There's another country which has some applicable experience in these matters: Israel. Under Ehud Barak--the Israeli Bill Clinton / John Kerry--terrorism in Israel skyrocketed. This may well have been accompanied by an increased number of terrorist recruits. Under Ariel Sharon--the Israeli Bush--terrorist attacks dropped precipitously. It seems possible--maybe even obvious!--that terrorist recruiting also suffered.
Last also distinguishes between Arab anger and terrorist recruitment and argues against singling out Islamofascism as inherently different in this regard than other "pathologies" that have opposed Democracy in the past:
I doubt Kaus would have argued in 1944 that killing Nazis was only going to create twice as many of them.
Read the whole thing here: Where Do Terrorists Come From?

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Myth of the Leftist "People"

Stanley Kurtz, writing in The Corner:

This notion that “the people” are really on the side of revolution predates and inspires all the nonsense about voter “intimidation” in the 2000 election. But this election has exploded the fantasy of “the people’s” secret leftism. We finally got massive turnout, and it was dominated, not by newly energized leftists, but by a silent majority of “shy Republicans.” The myth of the secretly leftist “people” is over. There is just no plausible way to blame this election on anything other than the public’s relative conservatism.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

One Day, Two Presidents

On the same day President Bush clinches a victory, Hamid Karzai was proclaimed Afghanistan's first elected president. Kind of fitting.

A Gracious and Emotional Concession Speech

Senator Kerry ended his presidential bid like a gentleman, conceding victory to President Bush this afternoon in an emotional speech from Boston's Fanueil Hall.

Early in the campaign, when Howard Dean and Wesley Clarke looked like contenders, I hoped that the Democrats would field a more seasoned serious candidate. Senator Lieberman would have been my first choice in such dangerous times, but I would have been happy with either Kerry or Representative Gephardt. As Kerry rode his "electability" and Vietnam service to the nomination, I soured on him. As he embarked on a bitter, rancorous campaign, calibrated to appeal to the worst "anyone-but-Bush" elements of his party, my dislike intensified. When the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth exposed him as a resume-padding JFK-wannabe, and as the MSM furiously tried to prop him up while tearing down Bush, he reached a nadir in my estimation.

But at the end, he did the statesman-like thing and avoided dragging the country through weeks or months of uncertainty, litigation and acrimony. For that, we all owe him a measure of gratitude.

Thanks Senator Kerry, you did the right thing.

"If It's Not Close They Can't Cheat"

It wasn't and they didn't. Kerry concedes.

(title and sentiment courtesy of Hugh Hewitt)

The Markets Give the Nod to Bush

The Dow intraday chart as of 10:39 this morning. Posted by Hello

Up over 150 points. Compare to this reaction yesterday when the exit polls showed Kerry ahead.

Andy Card Just Claimed Victory for Bush

White House Chief of Staff Andy Card just took the stage at the Reagan building, claiming victory in Ohio after saying that the Ohio Secretary of State has said the Presidents lead is "statistically insurmountable" even if all of the absentee and provisional ballots go against him. Card also claimed victory in Nevada, putting Bush over the 270 needed for victory, but said that, out of respect for his opponent, the President was giving Kerry some time to decide what he wanted to do.

Bush's Victory and Electoral History

As of 5:16 AM EST, CNN is reporting that President Bush has 57,432,504 votes to Senator Kerry's 53,757,732 with 97% of precincts in. How does this compare to the past few elections?

  • In sheer numbers, its the most ever cast for a presidential nominee, topping the 54,455,472 received by Ronald Reagan in his re-election bid in 1984.
  • Bush's 51% is the first majority received since the 53.37% received by his father, George H.W. Bush, in 1988. President Clinton received a plurality of votes in 1992 and 1996, but did not receive a majority, receiving 43.01% and 49.23% respectively as third party candidacies by Ross Perot split the opposition and Bush polled only 47.87% in his 2000 win.
  • Jimmy Carter remains the last Democratic presidential candidate to achieve a majority of the vote, barely pulling it off with a slim 50.08% of the votes cast in 1976 (while Gore beat Bush in the popular vote in 2000, he failed to capture a majority, receiving 48.38% as Ralph Nader and Patrick Buchanan each ran as alternative candidates.
(All historical stats courtesy of Dave Leips Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections)

Dow Plunges on News That Kerry Leads Early Exit Polls

The Dow intraday chart. Posted by Hello

The Dow plunged over 100 points after news broke that Kerry had a substantial lead in the early exit polls.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Suing Your Way to Defeat

The Weekly Standard has a summary of Daschle's unsuccessful suit against his Republican opponent, John Thune at Suing Your Way to Defeat.

Author Joseph Bottum thinks this stunt will cost Daschle the election (if he hasn't lost it already)and credits the alternative media with providing enough scrutiny to keep the judge in the case, a close personal friend of Dacshle's, honest:
Daschle has seriously misunderstood the power of the alternative media, especially radio and the Internet, to get news about this kind of thing out to the voting public. The South Dakota bloggers have been relentless: Jon Lauck live blogged the hearing (and the judge whined about it in open court: is that cool, or what?) Jason Van Beek kept the stream coming through the night, as did Steve Sibson, Ryne McClaren, and others.

The kind of political trick that Daschle's lawyers tried works only if it remains an unverified rumor through Election Day, and things don't remain rumors anymore. The new electronic world welcomes you, Senator Daschle--and it says goodbye to you, as well. The whole state now knows about the lawsuit, and your claims of vicious eye-rolling, and how you've turned into some weird guy at a cocktail party doing his chicken imitations.

Daschle v. Thune: Live Report From Courtroom

The Daschle v. Thune Blog liveblogged Daschle's unsuccessful efforts to sue Thune over Republican voter intimidation in South Dakota:Daschle v. Thune: Live Report From Courtroom.

Apparently, the suit involves allegations of "eye rolling" by Republican operatives. There's a whiff of fascism in the air.

Propaganda Maybe, but Our Propaganda

When the Man Comes Around Posted by Hello

A very moving slide show set to Johnny Cash's "When the Man Comes Around" (made me go download the song).

If you don't know what this election's about, watch. (via Jonah Goldberg at The Corner)

Monday, November 01, 2004

Utterly Disgraceful

On the eve of the election, and fresh on Bin Laden's admission of guilt, ABC News tops CBS' draft-scare story by running a piece on two groups that believe the U.S. government was behind 9/11. (hat tip to KJL at The Corner)

Stay tuned next week for the breaking story that the Holocaust was a Jewish myth designed to garner sympathy.

The OBL Tape

The Osama Bin Laden tape broadcast on al Jazeera (transcript of the broadcast portions here) "is authentic and was made recently" according to Bush administration sources as reported by Fox News. This assessment ends any speculation that Bin Laden was dead; speculation fueled by his long absence from any datable video tapes and a string of unauthenticated or vague audiotapes (see the Belgravia Dispatch's excellent summary here).

What's being made of it? Fox is saying that it appears that Bin Laden is seeking a truce:
Usama bin Laden appeared to soften his language toward Americans in a new videotape, saying that the United States would be safe from attack if it left the Muslim world alone.
This reading echoes an earlier post at The Belmont Club; Osama Bin Laden's Surrender Proposal;
It is important to notice what he has stopped saying in this speech. He has stopped talking about the restoration of the Global Caliphate. There is no more mention of the return of Andalusia. There is no more anticipation that Islam will sweep the world. He is no longer boasting that Americans run at the slightest wounds; that they are more cowardly than the Russians. He is not talking about future operations to swathe the world in fire but dwelling on past glories. He is basically saying if you leave us alone we will leave you alone. Though it is couched in his customary orbicular phraseology he is basically asking for time out.
The tape also marks the first time Bin Laden has claimed responsibility for the September 11th attacks. One wonders how Senator Kerry, had he been President, would have dealt with the absence of a confession from Bin Laden back in 2001. Given the Senator's preferred law enforcement paradigm, would there have been sufficient evidence to "charge" Bin Laden at the time? Maybe not, given Reuter's three-plus year use of the modifier "claimed" when describing Bin Laden's connection to the attacks on September 11th. Even giving him the benefit of the doubt, what would Kerry have done when the Taliban refused to extradite Bin Laden?

Bin Laden also seeks to re-write history, now claiming that it was American support for Israeli actions in Lebanon and the "occupied" territories that led to 9/11. In pronouncements from as far back as 1991, Bin Laden blamed the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia (a holdover from the first Gulf War) as the motivation behind his war on America. Bin Laden's revision of his motives appears to be an effort to curry support in the West where the plight of the Palestinians carries more weight.

A number of sources have also noted the similarity between Bin Laden's comments criticisms of President Bush aired in Fahrenheit 911 and later parrotted by Kerry during his campaign. Ties on Pigs initial reaction sums up the feeling:

From Ties on Pigs (hat tip Powerline) Posted by Hello

John Podhoretz, writing in the NY Post, also saw a connection:
Congratulations, Michael Moore! America's worst enemy and one of the world's most evil men is a big fan of yours.
and detected a defensive tone in Bin Laden's comments:
This is, I think, a profound rhetorical change from the man who vowed in 2002 that "the United States will not survive, will not feel any safety or any security."
The Kerry camp was also sensitive to the comparison. John Sasso, a senior Kerry Campaign aide, apparently wanted to throw a Fox News producer off the campaign jet after comments about the similarity in talking points from Fox's Neil Cavutto.

The Post is also reporting that Bin Laden is even less "cocky" in the unedited version of the tape:
Officials said that in the 18-minute long tape (of which only six minutes were aired on the al-Jazeera Arab television network in the Middle East on Friday) bin Laden bemoans the recent democratic elections in Afghanistan and the lack of violence involved with it.

On the tape, bin Laden also says his terror organization has been hurt by the U.S. military's unrelenting manhunt for him and his cohorts on the Afghan-Pakistani border.

A portion of the left-out footage includes a tirade aimed at President Bush and his father, former President George H.W. Bush, claiming the war in Iraq is purely over oil.
(Isn't this last point a staple of the Left - "No blood for Oil" crowd?) Al Jazeera played only a small portion of the tape to avoid passing along any coded messages from Bin Laden to al Qaeda operatives, but isn't it interesting what portions al Jazeera kept off the air? Powerline comments:
This is really very interesting. It sounds as though the full Osama video would have been much more a campaign commercial for President Bush. Which suggests that it may be Al Jazeera, more than bin Laden, that wants to help Kerry win.
Finally, several sources have commented that Bin Laden looks healthy and comfortable in the tape, suggesting that he feels secure about his safety. Speculation has been that, if alive, Bin Laden was in hiding in either the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan or in the port city of Karachi. Although the tape was dropped off to al Jazeera in Pakistan, would Bin Laden truly feel secure there with the Musharaf government ostensibly seeking him? The tape could be a clue that Bin Laden has found shelter in Iran.