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Monthly Archives: September 2004

Not a Scandal

September 21st, 2004 - 11:07 am

There’s probably less to this story than meets the eye:

The Associated Press has learned a South Korean man who met with John Kerry’s fund-raisers was an intelligence agent for his country.

The A-P first reported this spring that the Kerry fund-raisers and donors had met with the man, who at the time was only identified as a diplomat.

The State Department says Chung Byung-Man’s contacts with donors and fund-raisers, if accurately described in reports, are “inconsistent” with the 1963 Vienna Convention. That accord prohibits visiting foreign officials from interfering in the internal politics and affairs of host countries.

There were at least three meetings with the man to discuss creating a political action group for Korean-Americans. The Kerry campaign says it was unaware Chung was an intelligence agent and it has returned all contributions involved.

Chung was found out, the money was returned – I don’t see a problem here.

(Thanks to reader Geoff G for the tip.)

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Playing to Lose?

September 21st, 2004 - 10:53 am

Dumb, dumb, dumb:

Why did it take so long for the Bush and Kerry campaigns to agree on a debate schedule? Sen. John Kerry had the answer for television’s Regis Philbin, who has hosted the quiz show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

“The big hang-up was George Bush wanted to get life lines, you know, so he could call somebody,” the Democratic candidate for president quipped Tuesday while appearing on “Live With Regis and Kelly.”

No, not Bush – Kerry.

Bush has yet to lose a debate, in part because of the expectations game. Set the bar low enough, and it’s easy to look like a winner. Sure, Kerry got a good laugh from Regis & Kelly, but he also did Karl Rove a favor by helping move the bar a notch or two lower.

Man, I’d love to play poker with this guy. Cash only, though, please.

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Good Question

September 21st, 2004 - 10:45 am

“Too paranoid? Or not paranoid enough?”

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Notice

September 21st, 2004 - 10:37 am

Sorry for the late start. The spambots hit the site hard last night, and even with MT Blacklist, it still took half an hour to delete all the comment spam. Then I got an email from my best high school buddy, who I haven’t seen in 16 years.

Playing coffee and catch-up right now, but I’ll leave you with this thought -

Dan Rather will not quit or be fired. He’ll take the blame, just like Janet Reno did after Waco, then keep his job for just as long as he wants it. That’s the way things go now.

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Okay, Now It’s A Scandal

September 21st, 2004 - 4:58 am

Utter jaw-dropper in today’s USA Today, via Powerline:

CBS arranged for a confidential source to talk with Joe Lockhart, a top aide to John Kerry, after the source provided the network with the now-disputed documents about President Bush’s service in the Texas National Guard.

Lockhart, the former press secretary to President Clinton, said a producer talked to him about the 60 Minutes program a few days before it aired on Sept. 8. She gave Lockhart a telephone number and asked him to call Bill Burkett, a former Texas National Guard officer who gave CBS the documents. Lockhart couldn’t recall the producer’s name. But CBS said Monday night that it would examine the role of producer Mary Mapes in passing the name to Lockhart.

Burkett told USA TODAY that he had agreed to turn over the documents to CBS if the network would arrange a conversation with the Kerry campaign.

So, let me get this straight. CBS just spent more than a week “protecting” the identity of Burkett, refusing to release his name to the general public–but they did put him in touch with a senior adviser to the Kerry campaign, before their story ran? The same week when the DNC started running ads based on the CBS story, which built on Burkett-supplied forgeries?

That’s the tipping point. This is officially a major political scandal, not just an embarrassment to a dinosaur news outlet.

CBS is toast. Dan Rather is toast. Joe Lockhart is toast… and John Kerry is burned French toast about to be tossed out in le dumpster.

Stick a fork in all of the above. They’re done.

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Query

September 20th, 2004 - 11:48 pm

I’m considering fisking Michael Moore – but would it be worth the effort?

UPDATE: By popular request, I won’t fisk Moore.

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September Surprise?

September 20th, 2004 - 11:42 pm

More on Darfour, Syria, and WMD.

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Rather E. Coyote

September 20th, 2004 - 11:37 pm

Just click already.

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Mail Bag

September 20th, 2004 - 11:36 pm

Bill Millan writes:

CBS has now confirmed that Mapes called Burkett, not the other way around.

WHO TOLD MAPES THAT BURKETT HAD THE DOCUMENTS?

We know that prior to Mapes’s call to Burkett, Burkett had call Cleland and told him about them. We know that Cleland had told Burkett to call other Kerry Kamp members. It is just about inescapable that a Kerry operative told Mapes.

I don’t think this can be hidden for long.

Not in this day and age it can’t.

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Fact Check My Ass

September 20th, 2004 - 11:33 pm

Never underestimate the power of Google.

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John Kerry: Dumber Than an Amoeba?

September 20th, 2004 - 11:19 pm

Thanks to demographic changes, if John Kerry were to win the same states Al Gore did in 2000, Kerry would lose 278 to 260, instead of Gore’s 271-266 nailbiter. To win, Kerry needs to find ten EC votes somewhere. But where?

Let’s write off big parts of the map where Kerry – or probably even Jesus, if He ran as a Democrat – simply can’t win. There’s the South, short of Florida and perhaps Virginia. Everything between Kansas and Utah, and between the Rio Grande and the Canadian Border (minus New Mexico) is Bush Country, too. So what states can and should Kerry contest? It’s a short list:

New Hampshire
Ohio
Florida
Nevada
Virginia*
Missouri

Taking New Hampshire and Nevada (9 votes total) wouldn’t cut it. Ohio, Florida, Virginia, or Missouri by themselves, would. So how is Kerry doing in those states? Let’s see the latest numbers from Mason-Dixon, Rasmussen, Zogby, and others:

New Hampshire – Kerry up 6, to Bush up 9
Ohio – Bush up 3 to 8 points
Florida – a tie, up to Bush by 6
Nevada – Bush up 4
Virginia – Bush up 4
Missouri – Bush by anywhere from 2 to 14

OK, then – Florida is Kerry’s last, best, and maybe only hope. But that’s assuming an awful lot, given what’s going on in a few of Kerry’s base states.

Right now, Pennsylvania (21) and Iowa (7) are both up for grabs, Wisconsin (10) looks strong for Bush, and New Mexico (5), Minnesota (10), and Oregon (7) are all weak for Kerry. That’s 60 EC votes Kerry can no longer count on to win. Instead of fighting in Florida, he’s got to watch his back in six states he ought to have in the bag. Meanwhile, Bush’s only big worry is Florida.

Now that Kerry has exhausted the Vietnam issue both for himself (thanks to the Swift Boat Vets) and Bush (thanks to Dan Rather), he needs some fresh ammo. If what we’ve read the last couple days is any indication, Kerry thinks that Iraq is exactly the right caliber.

Brace yourselves, kids – Kerry is going to do some damage in the next week, hammering Bush on Iraq. Bush’s numbers will slip. But if Bush is vulnerable on Iraq, Kerry is even more so. He can hurt Bush, but thanks to Kerry’s history of taking every possible position on Iraq, he won’t be able to gain any traction from it.

In the meantime, Rathergate will continue to fester, and there’s not a damn thing Kerry can do to stop it – and there’s nothing Bush need do to encourage it. A hundred years from now, journalism schools will still be teaching about Dan’s Folly.

The more important question is, what about the Democrats’ Folly? In a field with Joe Lieberman (the “Let’s win the war without being total Republican bastards” candidate) and Howard Dean (the anti-war guy), the Democrats nominated a guy who is neither fish nor fowl.

Kerry voted against the Gulf War in 1991

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Wargaming the Electoral College

September 20th, 2004 - 2:40 pm

While we wait for Rasmussen’s update, here’s mine.

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From The Bleachers

September 20th, 2004 - 11:21 am

For those who’re interested, my Monday-morning Auburn football column is up, covering the real Tigers’ 10-9 win over LSU.

For those who aren’t interested, we now return you to your regularly-scheduled blogosphere triumphalism…

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Notice

September 20th, 2004 - 11:12 am

A few links to keep you reading, while I put Star Wars in the DVD player.

Election Projection (the Republican site) has Bush up 328 to Kerry’s 210.

Electoral-Vote.com (the Democrat site) calls it 327-211 for Bush.

GeekMedia, which uses the TradeSports results, has a narrower Bush victoy, 284-243 – with Iowa and New Hampshire too close to call.

Even Jonathan Alter is giving advice to Kerry, a link which I should have filed under the “Abandon Ship!” series.

Rasmussen’s tracking poll shows Bush up almost 3. They’ll have their EC projection up at 5pm Eastern.

Lawyers don’t get no respect in Denver.

Dan Rather sort of apologizes, and Eric Raymond fisks it.

Stephen LaPerla tells me the NYTimes buried the lede – to the results of their own poll. You have to click to the second page to find out they think Bush leads by 9.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to do some serious geeking out.

UPDATE: Electoral-Vote.com link is fixed.

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Gulp

September 20th, 2004 - 9:15 am

Will someone remind me please why I’m voting for Bush:

Inside the Bush administration policymaking apparatus, there is strong feeling that U.S. troops must leave Iraq next year. This determination is not predicated on success in implanting Iraqi democracy and internal stability. Rather, the officials are saying: Ready or not, here we go.

Yes, I know Iraq isn’t the only front in the war. But if Bob Novak is right, this is a very bad sign.

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Notice

September 20th, 2004 - 9:11 am

OK, OK – I’m up. First things first, though. Let me get some coffee.

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Required Reading

September 19th, 2004 - 6:35 pm

Eric S. Raymond has returned to blogging and given us this:

A long-serving governor of Louisiana once boasted that he could not fail of reelection unless he was caught in bed with a live boy or a dead girl. Thanks to Rathergate, George W. Bush has a lock on the White House unless he’s at least as seriously embarrassed during the next forty days. Kerry’s approval ratings are hovering around 36%. It seems that the MSM cannot deliver Evan Thomas’s 15-point swing anymore

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One Last Thing

September 17th, 2004 - 12:10 pm

I think this says it all, don’t you?

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Notice

September 17th, 2004 - 12:08 pm

Damn, but I’m excited about this.

It’ll have to wait until Sunday, though – and so will blogging. Melissa and I are off to spend the weekend with friends in Silverthorne, and to celebrate a much-belated birthday.

Gifts, good company, some (read: “a lot of”) drinking, and no computers. Delightful. Will somebody please tell the news to take a 48-hour break for me? Thanks.

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More on Iraq

September 17th, 2004 - 10:29 am

Speaking of Ralph Peters, he has a non-chest thumping piece in today’s NY Post. Read it.

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One-Upsmanship

September 17th, 2004 - 12:17 am

Today we get a perfect Bleat. Lovely and entertaining.

That’s my way of saying, “I love ya, Lileks, but I’ve told a better scary bug story.”

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Bush’s Intelligence

September 17th, 2004 - 12:08 am

Here’s today’s big story (unless, of course, on tonight’s newscast, Dan Rather gives his hands the OCD Lava-soap-and-Brill-O-Pad-treatment while screaming, “Out, damn spot!”):

The Bush administration has sought to downplay the significance of a U.S. intelligence forecast painting a pessimistic picture for the future of Iraq, insisting that predictions of difficulties ahead — including the possibility of civil war — were not a surprise.

Sources have confirmed to CNN that a National Intelligence Estimate was sent to the White House in July with a classified warning predicting the best case for Iraq was “tenuous stability” and the worst case was civil war.

The Bush administration, however, continues to argue publicly the U.S. is making good progress in Iraq, with the President saying Thursday that “freedom is on the march” in Iraq, citing scheduled elections in January next year.

As usual, there’s truth on both sides.

Did Bush & Co. downplay (or publicly ignore) the threat of civil war? Of course they did. So did Germany when they were the first to encourage and recognize Croatian independence back in ’91. You do the right thing, and hope you don’t get burned. I talked about the civil war threat (or worse) briefly before and after the Iraq War, but didn’t pay it too much attention. I read history for a hobby – talking about the risk of a civil war after a war is almost as obvious as talking about the “possibility” of casualties during it.

The danger isn’t the guerilla wars aren’t winnable, as this chart (lifted from Jim Dunnigan) shows:

Conflict / Period / Victor
Greek Civil War 1944-49 Government
Spanish Insurgency 1944-52 Government
Chinese Civil War 1945-49 Insurgents
Indochina War 1945-54 Insurgents
Iranian Communists 1945-46 Government
Philippine Huk War 1946-54 Government
Madagascar Revolt 1947-49 Government
Korean Partisan War 1948-53 Government
Malayan Emergency 1948-60 Government
Kenyan Mau-Maus 1952-55 Government
Cuban Revolution 1956-58 Insurgents
Sarawak/Sabah 1960-66 Government

However, if you’ll look at the dates, you’ll notice that each anti-guerilla campaign took years. The shortest insurgency (Iran’s postwar Communists) was defeated quickly, but Islamic countries never were fertile ground for Soviet-style communism. Soviet tanks, sure, but not outright communism. In other words, we face a long battle in Iraq – and that’s the danger.

If we leave Iraq unfinished – whether it takes three years or a dozen – then we will have thrown away our first, last and best chance at creating the first decent nation-state in the Arab World. We’ll have torn up the Game Plan. Do Americans have the patience to finish the job?

If we make that mistake, you’d better believe, it will come back to bite us on the ass. Bush seems – seems – to understand that. Kerry doesn’t. And I’m not sure the folks who wrote the NIE understand it, either.

LENGTHY UPDATE

One comment was so good that it (and my reply) ought to be made part of the main post. Josh writes:

I’ve often wondered this… why isn’t Iraq divided into seperate states? It seems that our Confederation of seperate states has worked pretty well so far. Since Iraq is a country where there are dozens of different warring parties, did they ever consider a plan like that?

If you laugh to yourself while reading this post, delete it and save me the shame.

I replied:

I’m not laughing, not in the slightest.

I argued last year (or was it 2002? It’s too late to look up the link), that a multiethnic, democratic Iraq could be just the thing to start some positive trends in the Middle East.

On the other hand, no less an authority than Ralph Peters (forget his chest-thumping NY Post columns, and read his stuff for Parameters), argues that the best hope for the people of Iraq is partition. Three states, centered on Mosul (Kurdistan), Baghdad (for Sunnis), and Basra (for Shias).

The longer the insurgency continues, the more sense partition makes. Problem is, the bespoke-shoes boys at the State Department would never stand for it. (Neither would the UN – although State is a far greater obstacle than the idiots on the East River.)

Which means there’s another danger I should have addressed in the original post, but failed to. Namely, that political infighting in the Executive Branch (State vs Pentagon vs White House) could also ruin our chances of making things right.

Can we do it? Can we set things right? I said it before the Iraq War and I’ll say it again: I don’t know – but I do know we have to at least try.

UPDATE

Man, those latenight blogging sessions can lead to some silly errors. East River, not the Hudson. I knew that, but I blame the martinis.

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A Worthy Cause

September 16th, 2004 - 11:33 pm

Some of the people hurt by Hurricane Ivan are family. Stacy Tabb – of Sekimori fame – the woman who designed this site and many others – has a family member in need.

So why don’t you click here, and give whatever you think you can?

Please.

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How to Read the Polls

September 16th, 2004 - 11:10 pm

You probably already caught this on Instapundit, but here’s what was buried deep in the link:

The Pew poll found the race at 46-46 among registered voters, and 47-46 Bush among likely voters. A Gallup poll being released Friday has Bush up 54-40 in a three-way matchup, with Ralph Nader (news – web sites) at 3 percent.

Big discrepencies like that one are why I like to stick to tracking polls, like Rasmussen. Forget the registered voters data — that’s always off. But even among likely voters, Pew shows a one-point race. Gallup has a 14-point spread. Obviously, one of these guys (if not both) is wrong.

Tracking polls are different. They publish every day, not once a week or a month. While they may suffer from some bad methodology (all polls do, period), they still allow you to see the broader trend. Because whatever bias a tracking poll has (again, all polls are biased), it tends to even out in the wash.

Perfect? Hardly. But probably the best thing going — even though all they can show you reliably isn’t hard numbers, but, once again, the broader trend.

When Pew shows a one-point race, I’m more likely to beleive that than I am Gallup’s big blow-out. But each poll is flawed, in that it tries to take a snapshot of a moving image. If you know anything about photography, you know that when you take pictures of runners, you usually end up with either a blurred background or a blurred subject. And if your shutter speed is fast enough to capture everything clearly, then you’ve captured such a brief moment in time that the photo reveals little about the race.

Tracking polls attempt to take a movie of a race. They can’t show the finish line, but you get a better idea of the back and forth between the runners — er, candidates.

Rasmussen has a pretty good track record (no pun intended), and they show a pretty close race. But the broader trend is that Bush’s convention bounce, once fading, looks to be gathering some CBS-generated steam.

With less than seven weeks to go, the trend is against Kerry. That can change overnight. But the closer we get to November 2, the fewer chances Kerry gets to reverse the trend, and the harder he’ll have to try.

Expect some big fireworks – duh.

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Required Reading

September 16th, 2004 - 10:52 pm

One word: Krauthammer.

Well… maybe one small taste before you click:

Is Iraq part of the war on terrorism or a cynical distraction from it? “And everything [Bush] did in Iraq, he’s going to try to persuade people it has to do with terror, even though everybody here knows that it has nothing whatsoever to do with al Qaeda and everything to do with an agenda that they had preset, determined.”

That was April 2004. Of course, shortly after Sept. 11, Kerry was saying the opposite. “I think we clearly have to keep the pressure on terrorism globally,” he said in December 2001. “This doesn’t end with Afghanistan by any imagination. . . . Terrorism is a global menace. It’s a scourge. And it is absolutely vital that we continue [with], for instance, Saddam Hussein.”

So then Hussein was part of the war on terrorism — a “for instance” in fighting “terrorism globally.” Kerry temporarily returned to that position last week when he marked the 1,000th American death in Iraq by saying the troops have “given their lives on behalf of their country, on behalf of freedom, in the war on terror.”

How did Kerry get to this point of total meltdown?

Small taste, big bite — whatever. Go read the whole thing.

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Well, Shi’ite.

September 16th, 2004 - 6:04 pm

It’s Thursday evening, about 8 PM. I’m stuck in lovely (read: hellhole) Hampton, Virginia, after spending the day in a tiny room attending a meeting that would bore a John Kerry zombie. Meanwhile, back home in Atlanta, the power is out, and my wife and dog are dealing with a flooded basement thanks to our pal Ivan. My parents are also in the dark tonight, and I don’t just mean about what I did in college. I have no chance of getting out of here tonight; all flights into Atlanta are cancelled until at least tomorrow, and in the meantime, Ivan is doing his best to float my house down to Macon.

I think I’m going to go buy a bottle of anything and get loaded. Sitting around in airports is much more fun when you’re hung over…

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ABC News Says: “It’s Kerry’s to lose”

September 16th, 2004 - 5:12 pm

The man the Washington Post calls “king of election prognosticators,” predicts Bush will win 52.8% of the popular vote.

Since University of Buffalo professor James Campbell started doing this in 1992, he’s never been off by more than 2.3%. Do the math, and you’ll find Campbell’s method really gives Bush anywhere from 50.5-55.1%. Assume Nader pulls about 1% nationally (I don’t expect him to do much better, unless Kerry craters), and that leaves Kerry with 48.5-43.9%.

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WWKD (What Will Kerry Do?)

September 16th, 2004 - 11:25 am

Good news is bad news for Camp Kerry:

U.S. consumer prices inched up just 0.1 percent last month as gasoline and car prices tumbled, the government said on Thursday in a report suggesting an inflation spike earlier this year was an aberration.

A separate report showed initial claims for jobless benefits gained less than expected last week, implying the job market was a touch stronger than analysts had thought. For the first time in weeks, the claims data appeared unaffected by hurricanes, the Labor Department said.

That’s the data for August, leaving Kerry with only September’s reports to bolster him before the November 2 election. Jobs creation could still be stronger, but with the unemployment rate at only 5.4% after three years of war, oil spikes, and now hurricanes. . .

. . .well, it’s really no wonder Kerry hasn’t gained much traction with the jobs issue. And unless next month’s reports are unexpectedly bad, he never will.

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Abandon Ship!

September 16th, 2004 - 11:09 am

The AP’s Ron Fournier:

President Bush is embracing troublesome topics that should be hurting him and fighting for states that should be tilting away from him in a campaign that has focused so far on character over issues.

In the Bush view of things, Iraq is a political asset, voters won’t punish him for an ailing economy and the race is a referendum on Democratic Sen. John Kerry

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Best Ever?

September 16th, 2004 - 10:53 am

Bill of INDC Journal is the hardest-working blogger in the business.

Need proof? Click here and discover how he’s become a one-man investigative news department, lawyer, and FBI agent.

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