Considerettes

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Conservative commentary served up in bite-sized bits.

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"Warning: first examination of Considerettes suggests an excess of rational thought goes into that blog."
- Clayton Cramer


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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Take a look up and check out the slippery slope from the bottom. From virtual "no-fault" abortions to this:
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - A hospital in the Netherlands - the first nation to permit euthanasia - recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has already begun carrying out such procedures, which include administering a lethal dose of sedatives.

The announcement by the Groningen Academic Hospital came amid a growing discussion in Holland on whether to legalize euthanasia on people incapable of deciding for themselves whether they want to end their lives - a prospect viewed with horror by euthanasia opponents and as a natural evolution by advocates.

Secular humanist radicals have been calling for this for a long time. In fact, the like-minded Dr. Joseph Mengele was doing it 60 years ago. And here we are, killing live babies after birth. Dr. Henk Jochemsen, who studies medical ethics, puts it well.
"Applying euthanasia to children is another step down the slope in this debate," said Henk Jochemsen, the director of Holland's Lindeboom Institute, which studies medical ethics. "Not everybody agrees, obviously, but when we broaden the application from those who actively and repeatedly seek to end their lives to those for whom someone else determines death is a better option, we are treading in dangerous territory."

Today, the terminally ill. Tomorrow...?



This week's "Best of Homespun Bloggers" is up (well, it was up yesterday), as well as this week's Symposium question. I'm going to try and tackle that in the next couple of days. It's a toughie.



Sometimes it's very interesting to find out how folks find this blog via search engines; the terms they used that brought this site up. As I see them, I'll mention them here.

Today's "Considerettes" Search Phrase - "Low carb Snickers bars" (top result from Excite).



My blogger-in-law Jim Jewell has written a lengthy post about the confusion, misunderstanding and fear that is typically rampant this time of year. From lawsuits over the words "Merry Christmas" to "separation" confusion to making the Declaration of Independence unconstitutional, he discusses what the trends are and what possible answers we can come up with. Answers are necessary, and soon, otherwise, as Jim points out, historic speeches by John F. Kennedy may become outlawed.


Monday, November 29, 2004

He's shocked--SHOCKED!
The United Nations has revealed that the son of the secretary general, Kofi Annan, worked for a company being investigated in the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal for four years longer than he first admitted.

Mr Annan said last night he was "very disappointed and surprised" that his son Kojo had not told him the full story of his links to Cotecna in Geneva.

How this apple did not fall far from the tree is the subject of an ongoing UN investigation. Expect an answer...someday.



One of my good blog buddies has moved domains. "Marcland" is no more. Long live "Hubs and Spokes"!



You will watch those movie previews on your DVD, understand?
Since the advent of the VCR, and with the arrival of DVD players, those who want to get to the movie have been free to skip past the coming attractions.

The entertainment industry, however, is exerting pressure in Congress with the hope of making it impossible to skip past previews and advertisements at the opening of DVDs.

Legislative language that would have done just that — make it illegal for DVDs to allow fast-forwarding — was struck at the last minute from a copyright bill that passed the Senate late Nov. 20.

The legislation, however, is headed for an uncertain fate in the House, which could reconvene Dec. 6 and 7 to consider, among other things, stalled intelligence reform legislation.

Yup, 3 years from now, when the movies that those previews are for have themselves come and gone on DVD, you will still have to watch the trailers. You want a good example of "too much government"? There's a good one.
The entertainment industry asserts that revenue from the advertisements and publicity from the previews is central to its business plans, while opponents note that millions of VCR owners have been fast-forwarding past ads and coming attractions for nearly two decades.

The issue grew out of the proposed Family Movie Act, introduced this year by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. The bill would have exploited technology developed by ClearPlay, Inc., allowing families to skip past explicit sex and violence on DVDs.

The film industry, however, balked, arguing that the use of such technology would compromise filmmakers’ intended product.

I've discussed ClearPlay before; a technology that you employ by your own choice and to your own standards. Yet the Directors Guild of America was suing them. Seems the DGA thought that the only way to see a movie was their way, and we should have no choice in the matter. From that we now get really picky and suggest that the only way to watch a movie is to ensure we see the advertising that comes with it. Pathetic.

This has nothing to do with artistic intent, and everything to do with money. The rest is smokescreen.



This may sound like a disclaimer from a movie, but it's for real. "No babies were killed in the repairing of this spinal cord."
A South Korean woman paralyzed for 20 years is walking again after scientists say they repaired her damaged spine using stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood.

Hwang Mi-Soon, 37, had been bedridden since damaging her back in an accident two decades ago.

Last week her eyes glistened with tears as she walked again with the help of a walking frame at a press conference where South Korea researchers went public for the first time with the results of their stem-cell therapy.

They said it was the world's first published case in which a patient with spinal cord injuries had been successfully treated with stem cells from umbilical cord blood.

There are already many success stories using adult stem cells and umbilical cord blood, but the big push you keep hearing about is how only destroying embryos are we going to make advances. Well that's just plain wrong.
So-called "multipotent" stem cells -- those found in cord blood -- are capable of forming a limited number of specialised cell types, unlike the more versatile "undifferentiated" cells that are derived from embroyos.

However, these stem cells isolated from umbilical cord blood have emerged as an ethical and safe alternative to embryonic stem cells.

Clinical trials with embryonic stem cells are believed to be years away because of the risks and ethical problems involved in the production of embryos -- regarded as living humans by some people -- for scientific use.

In contrast, there is no ethical dimension when stem cells from umbilical cord blood are obtained, according to researchers.

Additionally, umbilical cord blood stem cells trigger little immune response in the recipient as embryonic stem cells have a tendency to form tumors when injected into animals or human beings.

No ethical issue and safer; a win-win for everyone. Let's keep this in mind.


Saturday, November 27, 2004

I asked my "Considerettes" corespondent in Russia what the word on the "Muscovite street" was about the Ukrainian election situation. Here's his response, with a note about how the news is being reported there and insight into the Russian political mindset in general.
The Russian reaction to the Ukrainian election is complicated.

This election stinks with the same odor as the recent Chechen 'election'. No one in Russia is fooled by this but their attitude is markedly different than one might expect. If you recall, just a few months ago was a very under-reported Russian presidential election. Putin won without a fight.

Russians idealize Putin to a degree that would be very uncomfortable to Westerners. When it comes to freedom of expression issues he is a tyrant, but in bread and butter issues he is a savior. After the fall of the Soviet Union things got desperate quickly. Hyperinflation turned the life-savings of a whole generation into pennies. No one living today in the West (not even Westerners living in Russia today) will ever appreciate the psychological effect this had on the society. To make matters much worse, those coming into their pension that they had been promised all their back-breaking lives got little more than $20 a month to live on (and it's not much better than that even today). Now that real economic change for the better is being felt almost nationwide, all other issues pale by comparison. No one objects to the lack of freedom of the press; Not a ripple of disturbance anywhere. "Show me da money", is the only relevant mantra.

I read a story in the (English) newspaper in Moscow about a Ukrainian prostitute working in Moscow. She came from Ukraine to Russia to take advantage of the new economic prosperity that she heard about. And unlike some others who migrate for financial reasons, she harbored no illusions about what she would have to do to get her piece of the pie. She was a prostitute in Ukraine before she even came to Russia. Her complaint was that the 'customers' in Ukraine were so poor that it made prostitution a bad living. So she came to where her practice would pay off. She credits Putin for the improvements and idolizes him as much as the Russians do.

It is true that Ukraine has been run by thugs for the past several years. Corruption rate there (according to Transparency International) is one of the worst in the world. The thought of some real prosperity coming to Ukraine as it has come to Russia is a tantalizing thought. This explains the showing, to whatever percentage, for the current Ukraine pro-Russian president.

I heard on the BBC that the several thousand election inspectors who witnessed the election process are unanimous in their opinion that there were serious-to-fatal flaws in the electoral process rendering it a political 'false-positive' outcome for the president. This news is not as aggressively reported in Russia. The Russian people despise these protests currently taking place in the cities of Ukraine. As always, Russians fear the West encroaching on their borders. If Ukraine had a Western loving president that would be a real threat to Russia. Xenophobia is not cured in one (nor two) generations. There are 1000 years of fear, loathing, and sometimes both for the West. The fact that we're on the same side now won't be discovered at any level of depth anytime soon. Also keep in mind the recent pro-Western president elected in Georgia. That did not go down too well in Russia. The West is fine as long as they stay in the west!

So,
* Since ethics and the various ‘fringe’ freedoms we enjoy in the West are NOT seen as essential;
* Since a pro-Western Ukrainian administration IS seen as a threat (They don't want to see another Georgia);
* Since the economic benefits that Putin has brought to Russia COULD spread to Ukraine;
all other reasoning disappears into insignificance for Russians.

I’ve seen it before so I don’t care to see it again. If you tried to debate with the average Russian about this you would hear the most righteous defense of the Ukrainian election and how it was administered. If you protested you would be condemned for trusting your Western news sources and given a lecture of how controlled by their governments and unreliable they are.


Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Brother-in-law Jim Jewell has some cautions for values voters.
This article by Bill Carter at the NY Times points out that "in interviews, representatives of the four big broadcast networks as well as Hollywood production studios said the nightly television ratings bore little relation to the message apparently sent by a significant percentage of voters.

The choices of viewers, whether in Los Angeles or Salt Lake City, New York or Birmingham, Ala., are remarkably similar. And that means the election will have little impact on which shows they decide to put on television, these executives say."

Indeed choosing your entertainment should be motivated by some of the same things you used to choose your President, if you really value your values.

UPDATE: Bryan Preston of Junkyard Blog weighs in on this. His impression is that the hypocrisy rate is lower that a surface reading of the stats would show.



And this is why we need more tax cuts.
Austerity in big-ticket government programs hasn't dulled lawmakers' appetite for special interest spending items that curry favor back home.

The spending plan awaiting President Bush's signature is packed with them, doling out $4 million for an Alabama fertilizer development center, $1 million each for a Norwegian American Foundation in Seattle and a "Wild American Shrimp Initiative," and more, much more.

Despite soaring deficits, lawmakers from both parties who approved the $388 billion package last weekend set plenty of money aside for home-district projects like these, knowing they sow goodwill among special interests and voters.

They also raised the ire of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a pork-barrel critic who took to the Senate floor to ask whether shrimp are so unruly and lacking initiative that the government must spend $1 million on them.

"Why does the U.S. taxpayer need to fund this `no shrimp left behind' act?" he asked.

Among items in the package: $335,000 to protect North Dakota's sunflowers from blackbirds, $2.3 million for an animal waste management research lab in Bowling Green, Ky., $50,000 to control wild hogs in Missouri, and $443,000 to develop salmon-fortified baby food.

Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, won dozens of special items for his state — enough to fill 20 press releases.

In one aimed at northern Alabama, Shelby took credit for the $4 million budgeted for the International Fertilizer Development Center. "In addition to the important research conducted at this facility, the facility employs numerous Muscle Shoals-area residents," he noted.

While there's plenty of pork being doled out on both sides of the aisle, I'm especially disheartened to see that the victories handed to Republicans are being so ill-spent (pun intended) on this sort of business-as-usual waste. If the citizens of Alabama don't want to fund fertilizer, why should I? If the taxpayers of Bowling Green are too stingy to research their own animal waste, why are they asking me to pay for it?

Ladies and gentlemen, you have the power of the majority. Use your power for good; for long term good. Tom Daschle, as minority leader, had quite the power for pulling pork, yet the voters there tossed him out in favor of better ideas. That's what will bring change to Washington; ideas, not a larger share of the pork pie.

The solution is still, and has always been, smaller government.

(Cross-posted at Redstate.org. Comments welcome.)


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

So then, will my HMO pay for it?
LONDON (Reuters) - An ingredient in chocolate could be used to stop persistent coughs and lead to more effective medicines, researchers say.

The study found that theobromine, found in cocoa, was nearly a third more effective in stopping persistent coughs than codeine, currently considered the best cough medicine.

The researchers, from Imperial College London (ICL), said the discovery could lead to more effective cough treatments.

I mean, they sell chocolate a pharmacies, right?



A man who has come to personify the fabrication of facts to support a news story is finally doing the right thing.
Dan Rather announced today he will step down as anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News" on March 9, 2005 24 years to the day after his first broadcast as the network's anchor.

Actually, just sort of the "right thing". He may be leaving the news anchor desk, but he's going to stick around on the show that made him infamous.
Rather will stay with CBS News, working full time as a correspondent for both editions of "60 Minutes," and taking on other assignments as well.

Here's hoping that this change portends good news at CBS, and that they can find someone willing to check their bias at the door.

More details here.

And >chuckle< even more >snicker< here.



This week's Homespun Symposium poses this question:
Is the division in America important to you? What will be necessary to heal it? What part do you see Bloggers playing in that discussion and how will you personally contribute to it?

If you look at the answers from Homespunners who've already posted on this question, you note that this country has been divided for a good long time. The Civil War is typically mentioned, as well as quotes from a few other Presidential campaigns, showing how bitterly divided we've been before, more so than now. To these examples I'd add that there was quite a division in this country over whether or not we should even be our own country. Not everyone was in favor of the Revolutionary War. After the revolution, not everyone was in favor of a national government. The Federalist Papers were, in part, an attempt at convincing those people.

So division in this country is nothing new. What is relatively new is that this division is being portrayed as a Bad Thing. When Bill Clinton couldn't muster 50% of the popular vote, the MSM said little to nothing about how Clinton would have to reach out to Republicans and compromise with them, or about how "bitterly divided" the country was. Division then wasn't reported on much. Division today is the above-the-fold front-page headline. Division, according to liberals and the MSM, is bad and it's destroying the country, or so they'd want you to believe.

Well, except that within a Republican administration, division is good. When Colin Powell resigned, Democrats and the media started the hand wringing over a lack of diversity of opinion within the Bush administration, while they were silent over a similar situation under Clinton (and remain consistently silent over the huge diversity problem in universities today, which slant heavily liberal, which explains why they're silent).

The way I see it, a healthy division is good. It keeps both sides from falling off their respective extremes. Too much division can be bad and can simply paralyze us. The division in the country is good, the debate is good, we need it. Division within an administration is less good and can keep it from doing what it was elected to do. Leadership means making decisions, not bickering until we all agree, because we won't.

So is the division important to me? I think the "division", as currently defined (red state / blue state), is important to me, but not in the sense that it needs "healing". I think that division is good for our republic. I do believe that the way some folks express that division needs "healing", but that's beyond my power. The best way I can keep the division healthy is to express the truth as I see it, exposing lies I come across, and doing this in a civil way. One of the other respondents referred to individual blogs as "gnats" in regard to how bloggers will contribute to the discussion. He has a point, but at the same time a swarm of gnats can alter the direction of a person. So I'll continue to buzz.


Monday, November 22, 2004

First, a rehash of charges from a discredited "documentary":
Democrats spent much of the presidential campaign this year accusing President Bush of improperly close ties to Saudi Arabia. The case was made in Michael Moore's film "Fahrenheit 9/11," in a bestselling book by Craig Unger titled "House of Bush, House of Saud," and by the Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Kerry."This administration delayed pressuring the Saudis," Mr. Kerry said on October 20. "I will insist that the Saudis crack down on charities that funnel funds to terrorists... and on anti-American and anti-Israel hate speech."The Media Fund, a Democratic group whose president is a former Clinton White House aide, Harold Ickes, spent millions airing television commercials in swing states with scripts such as, "The Saudi royal family...wealthy...powerful...corrupt. And close Bush family friends."

So now, consider this:
President Clinton's new $165 million library here was funded in part by gifts of $1 million or more each from the Saudi royal family and three Saudi businessmen.

The governments of Dubai, Kuwait, and Qatar and the deputy prime minister of Lebanon all also appear to have donated $1 million or more for the archive and museum that opened last week.

Who was in bed with whom? They certainly seem to be very friendly with the Clintons.


Friday, November 19, 2004

Oh please oh please oh please.
UN staff are expected to make an unprecedented vote of no confidence in Secretary-General Kofi Annan, union sources say, after a series of scandals tainted his term in charge of the world body.

The UN staff union, in what officials said was the first vote of its kind in the almost 60-year history of the United Nations, was set to approve a resolution withdrawing support for Annan and senior UN management.

Annan has been in the line of fire over a series of scandals including controversy about a UN aid program that investigators say allowed deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to embezzle billions of dollars.

Staffers said the trigger for the no-confidence measure was an announcement this week that Annan had pardoned the UN's top oversight official, who was facing allegations of favouritism and sexual harassment.

The union had requested a formal probe into the official, Dileep Nair, after employees accused him of harassing staff and violating UN rules on the hiring and promotion of workers.

Top UN spokesman Fred Eckhard announced on Tuesday that Nair had been exonerated by Annan "after a thorough review" by the UN's senior official in charge of management, Catherine Bertini.

Annan underlined that he "had every confidence" in Nair, Eckhard said, but UN employees ridiculed the decision and claimed that investigators had not questioned the staff union, which first raised the complaints in April.

"This was a whitewash, pure and simple," Guy Candusso, a senior member of the staff union, told AFP.

It's so good to hear that there is still some sanity in the halls of the United Nations. It probably won't do any good (Annan's spokesman said he'd serve out his term, which ends in 2006), but it's nice that at least this group of insiders has stood up for the right thing.

UPDATE: It passed.



Following the "values vote" on the last Election Day comes this values issue; Target won't allow the Salvation Army to put it's red Christmas kettles in front of their stores.
Salvation Army volunteers across metro Atlanta will be ringing their bells again starting Wednesday, calling for contributions to the annual holiday fund.

But the Army's familiar red kettles won't be outside Target stores this year, here or anyplace else in the country.

Target officials have told the Army they would strictly enforce a company policy against solicitation outside its stores.

In the past, Target had granted the Army an exemption. This year, because of the number of other nonprofit groups across the U.S. asking for spots outside the stores, the company decided to do what a spokesperson said is "fair and consistent."

Local Army officials said while they understand Target's decision, they will have to scramble to reach this year's goal of $1 million in holiday kettle contributions in metro Atlanta.

Target has been the Army's best location for holiday donations. Last year, the 25 Target stores in the Atlanta area pulled in $240,000 out of total kettle donations of $860,000, said George Hoosier, major general secretary for the Georgia Salvation Army.

There were 220 kettle sites in all.

"The loss will be hard to make up," Hoosier said.

The five counties in the Army's Atlanta unit relied heavily on kettle donations at Targets.

(Just as a clarification, George Hoosier isn't a "major general secretary", he's Major George Hoosier, who holds the position of General Secretary for the Salvation Army in the state of Georgia.)

I grew up in the Salvation Army, and my parents were "officers" (i.e. ministers), now retired. However, my dad, a self-described "Christmas-aholic", runs the kettle effort in Ithaca, New York, and I'd rung bells and played my horn at a kettle from at least 6th grade through college, and I've done so occasionally in the past few years even though my family and I attend another church.

Target has been one of the best places to put a kettle, and the loss of those locations means thousands upon thousands of dollars aren't going to make it to the folks who need it. Unless, that is, we make an effort to overcome that potential shortfall. Instead of giving your child a quarter to put in the kettle, give him or her a dollar. Instead of just the spare change you got from your purchase in the store, add just a couple of $1 bills. Doubling your contribution from <$1 to $2, just in itself, if multiplied by everyone who would normally just put in their change, will make a noticable difference. Remember, too, that The Salvation Army is one of the most efficient charitable organizations around. (This information from Forbes magazine shows the Army takes only 10% of the funds raised for expenses.)

In some places, it's more than Target. Best Buy and Home Depot are also implementing this kind of policy. Instead of making choices, they'd just rather not get involved. And it may not be stopping there. K-Mart has been a great location for "bell ringers", but Sears has a policy that keep the kettles away, and the two have just announced a merger.

But perhaps there's more than just being "consistent" behind Target's change.
Bell-ringers and red kettles are a familiar site around retail centers each holiday season. But some activists hope to put a dent in the collections of the Salvation Army for what they say are the religious charity’s anti-gay policies.

For the fourth consecutive year, the PFLAG [Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays] chapter in Genesee County, Mich., will protest the Salvation Army’s red kettle program, hoping their supporters will drop enough dollar bill-sized protest notes in the kettles to make an impact in the fund-raising, which brought in $93 million last year.

...

The Salvation Army says the protest has little, if any, impact, according to Maj. George Hood, national community relations and development secretary for Salvation Army.

“I’m not even aware of any protests that took place last year,” Hood says. “Nobody reported any significant impact at all.”

But the charity took a significant hit this week when gay-friendly retailer Target banned the Salvation Army from soliciting at its stores across the country, although store officials said they are only bringing the organization inline with its corporate policy banning soliciting at stores.

(Emphasis mine.) This isn't proof of any connection, to be sure, but the misinterpretation of the Army's stance on homosexuality does have the gay community up in arms. One wonders how much this fever spilled over into Target's decision.
The Salvation Army offers health benefits to married heterosexual employees, their spouses, and children. Single employees are also covered, but no coverage is extended to domestic partners, regardless of sexual orientation, according to Hood.

Because the Salvation Army is a church and charitable organization, Hood says, it stands firm in its fundamental belief that homosexuality is not condoned in Biblical scripture.

“We have no stance against the gay community whatsoever,” Hood says. “There is a misinterpretation about what we are doing or what we are not doing.”

Homosexuals are trying to force a religious organization--a church in every sense of the word--to go against its own principles. How "tolerant" of them. And understand, too, that the Army's charitable work is done for all, regardless of sexual orientation or any other factor.

So let me ask you to do your part and give just a little more this time. And you can even do it online. Thanks.


Thursday, November 18, 2004

Taranto's "Best of the Web Today" is always a must-read, but today it's..um..."mustier"?
Liberal Racism: A Little Perspective

Both before and after her elevation to secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice has been the target of a series of racist caricatures by liberal cartoonists. Rush Limbaugh points out three: a Doonesbury strip by Garry Trudeau that refers to her as "Brown Sugar," a Jeff Danziger cartoon that portrays her as Prissy from "Gone With the Wind" (also the topic of a Wall Street Journal editorial last month) and, most recently, a Tuesday political cartoon from Pat Oliphant that depicts the secretary-designate as a parrot with enormous lips. (This seems to be a running feature; yesterday's Oliphant cartoon does it also, this time with President Bush as a pirate.) Blogger Winfield Myers catalogues other examples.

Limbaugh is incensed by these displays of bigotry and hypocrisy (emphasis his):

It is grotesque. It is insulting. It is vile. It is angry. It is childish, and it is typical I think of what the left has become. They claim to be holy [sic] than thou. They claim to be above all of us when it comes to understanding the downtrodden and minorities. They claim to be the only ones that have the ability to have the compassion and understanding, and yet they get away with racism. They get away with bigotry. They get away with sexism, and they get away with homophobia--and in the case of Condoleezza Rice, they get away with an attempted character destruction of a truly brilliant and accomplished woman who came from nothing to become the first black female secretary of state.


Myers echoes the point: "This is part and parcel of the left's embrace of moral and intellectual nihilism, which in turn has led to a belief that the ends for which they labor justify the means."

We don't really disagree with any of this, but it strikes us that the outrage, while understandable, is perhaps a bit overwrought. It's not as if the works of Trudeau, Danziger and Oliphant are going to provoke an outbreak of lynching or cross-burning. These expressions of racial prejudice don't actually diminish Rice's accomplishments, and they are not going to prevent her from becoming one of the most powerful people in the world. These cartoonists have merely proved to the world that they are prejudiced against blacks who don't share their views--and that's good to know.

The absence of outrage from the liberal sensitivity police, who would be up in arms if a conservative cartoonist committed a similar offense (cf the reaction to National Review's 1997 cover depicting the Clintons as Asians, second item), shows that liberals are hypocrites when it comes to race--and that, too, is useful to know.

It is truly amazing how must this kind of behavior is tolerated by the left. Yeah, they call themselves the party of the "tolerant", but is this what they have in mind?

Taranto's week-daily E-mail is time well spent. Get it.


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

A new study is putting the lie to the idea of a truly "safe" abortion:
Women who undergo abortions suffer serious psychological problems more frequently than was previously thought, according to a new study.

Published yesterday in the Medical Science Monitor, the study surveyed 331 Russian women and 217 American women who had undergone one or more induced abortions, but who hadn't experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth. Among the study's major findings were:
  • Of American women, 53.9 percent felt badly after their abortion while only 13.8 percent felt relief.
  • Some 36.4 percent of the American women had suicidal thoughts and 26.7 percent increased their use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Only 10.8 percent of the American women surveyed said they received adequate counseling before the abortion. Fully 84 percent did not receive adequate counseling and 5.2 percent were unsure.
  • Over 42 percent of American women reported being sexually or physically abused before age 18 compared to only 11.4 percent of Russian women.
  • About 50 percent of all the women surveyed felt that their abortion had been morally wrong.
  • Some 79.2 percent of the American women had never been counseled on alternatives to abortion.
  • Over 54 percent of American women were not sure about their decision to abort their pregnancy.

"This is the first published study to compare reactions to abortion among women in two different countries," said Dr. Vincent Rue, lead author of the study and co-director of the Institute for Pregnancy Loss. "It is also the first to provide a detailed breakdown of traumatic symptoms which the subjects themselves attribute to their abortions. These results will help mental health workers to be better prepared to recognize and treat the psychological complications of abortion."

Further study is probably warranted. The thing I note is that this kind of information is probably not presented to the women involved--they don't get the whole story--since almost 80% don't get adequate counseling. It further proves that abortion, from the Planned Parenthood side of things, is not about the women but about the money. PP doesn't get your money if you put your child up for adoption, so they don't say much about it.

Follow the money.



UNSCAM update: The United Nations is holding their collective hands over their collective ears and collectively singing "La la la I can't hear you" very loudly.
private intelligence firm hired by the United Nations to look into corruption in the oil-for-food program provided valuable leads to U.N. investigators, but they were ignored, the company's director says.

"We found it extremely frustrating to be in a position where we could do something significant to dramatically assist the investigation into the oil-for-food fraud and not be allowed to proceed," said Derek Baldwin, director of operations for IBIS Risk Management Services Inc.

The legitimacy of anything resembling moral outrage from this crew is losing value at an astonishing rate. Their scoldings of how we act in our defense are so much barking from French Poodles, and nothing more.

Read the whole thing. It stars an Iranian network, Jacques Chirac and Kofi Annan's son, with Egypt playing a supporting role. Sec. Gen. Annan himself plays the part of Inspector Clouseau.



Oh fer goodness sake...talk about irony.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Bill Clinton's presidential library devotes one of 14 exhibit areas to scandal, explained in the context of Republican Party efforts to discredit Clinton.

In a pre-opening tour of the library, media got a look at the 14 alcoves detailing different aspects of Clinton's years in the White House. His peace efforts receive twice as much space as the scandals.

"His supporters will say, 'Oh, why did you give this so much space?'" library director David Alsobrook said Wednesday. "But his detractors will come up and say, 'Dave, where is the blue dress?'"

Alsobrook was alluding to the garment produced by Monica Lewinsky during the investigation that led up to Clinton's impeachment.

The scandal exhibit, called "The Fight for Power," mentions Lewinsky by name and includes sections called "Politics of Persecution" and "A New Culture of Confrontation."

Persecution? Confrontation? Do you mean all those Clinton administration officials who trashed anyone who dared contradict the President? The same ones with egg on their collective faces when Clinton finally, after lying and obfuscating, owned up to his own behavior? When you lie to the American people and lie under oath, dealing with it is not persecution, that's prosecution, and it's a perfectly legitimate job of government. Heaven help us if the checks and balances in our system are ever generally considered "persecution".

It's not the "Clinton Library", it's the "Museum of Sour Grapes".



This just in from ScrappleFace: The country is facing a potentially debilitating "bickering deficit"!
Expert Warns of 'Bickering Deficit' in New Bush Cabinet
(2004-11-17) -- The Bush administration faces the "grave and growing threat of a bickering deficit" which will jeopardize U.S. foreign policy during the president's second term, according to an unnamed future former senior administration official.

"We've gone from feast to famine when it comes to the intra-Cabinet squabbling which is essential to formulating a globally-respected foreign policy," said the official. "It is crucial that the president appoint department secretaries who not only disagree with his philosophy and strategy, but also personally dislike each other, envy the president and don't mind talking about it with reporters."

Many long-time employees in the departments of state and defense have also privately expressed alarm at the president's nomination of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state.

"I hope the Senate will do something to head off this train wreck at Foggy Bottom," said the anonymous source. "Otherwise, America will be represented abroad by a competent, hard working woman who understands the president's objectives, shares his philosophy and has earned his trust. How can anything good come from that?"

Shockwaves have also rippled through news organizations, as editors and producers scramble to retool their foreign policy coverage strategies in the face of what one called "the leak drought which could result from a cabinet focused on accomplishment rather than individual self-aggrandizement."

Heh heh. Just remember that a similar deficit occurred during the Clinton administration, and there was no hand-wringing over that. And at last check, Norman Mineta's still a Democrat.


Monday, November 15, 2004

In an emotional TV interview airing tonight, Ronald Reagan's daughter says President Bush's re-election is "tragic" because it could curtail badly needed embryonic stem-cell research.

Four years of delay in embryonic stem-cell research could be potentially devastating to millions of suffering Americans, former First Daughter Patti Davis tells Katie Couric on NBC's "Dateline."

Yup, it's a shame that Bush's presidency has kept embryonic stem-cell research from getting funding.

Oh...wait a minute. Maybe not.



Homespun Symposium

Each week over at Homespun Bloggers, we're starting a new feature where a question is put to our group and we'll post links to all those with an answer. This week's question is: Is it time for the U.S. to end the Electoral College? If so, in favor of what alternative system? If not, why is it still relevant and beneficial to the nation?

I've actually talked a little bit abut this issue as far back as the 2000 election. Back then, I found a document on the web site of the Federal Elections Commission called "A Brief History of the Electoral College". It hasn't been updated to note the popular vs. electoral vote situation in the 2000 election itself, but it is a fascinating and educational look into the issues surrounding the creation of the Electoral College. Read that first before making up your mind.

This paper identifies two main requirements that the Electoral College imposes on candidates for the presidency:
  • The victor must obtain a sufficient popular vote to enable him to govern, even if it's not an absolute majority, and
  • The popular vote must be sufficiently distributed across the country to enable him to govern.

What this means is that the winner has balanced regional support, even if that balance is tipped in favor of distribution rather than absolute numbers (as it was in 1888 and again in 2000).

The paper presents a number of pros and cons of the Electoral College and is a fairly balanced look at it, although it does come out in favor of it ultimately. I'd like to highlight just one of its points and add one of my own.

Minorities: With the Electoral College, the voice of minorities in this country is enhanced so that they cannot be so easily dismissed by candidates. Small minorities in a State can (and have) been able to be the difference between winning all of a State's electoral votes or none. Without this clout, blacks, Hispanics, farmers, Iowans, or whatever other group you can come up with can have a larger voice in the matter, and this speaks to one of the ideas of America.

If the President was selected solely on the basis of popular vote, a candidate could simply ignore minorities who's votes wouldn't matter in the big picture. Getting a bare majority of the big city vote can be enough to get the electoral votes of California or New York, but then the candidate needs to appeal elsewhere in other states and among other groups of people to win the Presidency. If popular vote was all that mattered, the candidate could just continue to appeal to the wants & needs of those in highly concentrated population areas. This would not be in the best interest of a country that wants the President to be the President for everyone. Thus the Electoral College forces the issue of minority views into the national debate, which is good for all of us.

Voter Fraud: Under the current system, a candidate gets the same number of electoral votes for a state, whether he takes 50%+1 of the popular vote for that state or 100% of it. Thus any attempts to rig an election in a state are pointless after a majority is reached. Therefore, in order to have an impact nationally, the fraud must be widespread, in multiple states, rather than allowing it to work with only a few "friendly" areas involved. This makes voter fraud less of a viable tactic, and diminishes its impact when used.

Again, the paper linked above has quite a bit more, but these two issues are the ones that are one the top of my list. The paper ends this way:
The fact that the Electoral College was originally designed to solve one set of problems but today serves to solve an entirely different set of problems is a tribute to the genius of the Founding Fathers and to the durability of the American federal system.

I'd have to agree.

[Stop by the Homespun Bloggers web site through Wednesday to see all the answers.]


Sunday, November 14, 2004

This weeks "Best of the Homespun Bloggers" has been posted. Take a look at some good commentary.


Friday, November 12, 2004

A very good article by Ronald Baily at Reason magazine about the muddiness that is climate predicting. He first notes a couple of studies that show that the temperatures at the north & south poles are rapidly warming. Or at least, if you only look at part of the data.
But University of Alabama at Huntsville climatologist John Christy, a climate expert on whom I have relied for years, makes some interesting observations about the Arctic Council's report. "If you look at the long term records, the Arctic has been as warm or warmer than it is today," says Christy. He cites temperature data from the Hadley Centre in the UK showing that from 70 degrees north latitude to the pole, the warmest years on record in the Arctic were 1937 and 1938. This area is just slightly above the Arctic Circle.

Furthermore, those same records show that the Arctic warmed twice as fast between 1917 and 1937 as it has in the past 20 years. After 1940, the Arctic saw a big cool-down and climatologists noted sea ice expanding in the northern Atlantic. Christy argues that what he calls the Great Climate Shift occurred in the late 1970s and caused another sudden warming in the Arctic. Since the late 1970s there has not been much additional warming in the region at all. In fact, on page 23, the Arctic Council Assessment offers very similar data for Arctic temperature trends from 60 degrees north latitude—the area that includes most of Alaska and essentially all of Greenland, most of Norway and Sweden, and the bulk of Russia.

And what about the Antarctic?
But again, the picture is complicated. Overall winter sea ice around Antarctica has been increasing since 1979. However, Antarctica experienced a very rapid decline in winter sea ice in the early 1970s and the area covered today is not quite as large as it was before the decline in the 1970s.

But the average temperatures for most of Antarctica outside of the Antarctic Peninsula have been declining since the mid-1960s. So is this evidence that the amount of warming predicted by computer climate models is wrong? Not so fast, say even some climatologists who report on the Antarctic cooling. They insist that their data do not overturn predictions of rapid global warming. Richard Lindzen, a climatologist from MIT and a global warming skeptic, points out, "the Antarctic is not warming and there is nothing in the models that distinguish the temperature trends they predict in the Arctic from those in the Antarctic." Climate is messy.

Correct, and that is why things like the Kyoto Treaty, which simply assume the conventional wisdom on global warming, are foolish precisely because it attempts to set national policy based on a foundation of sand. This is just a tiny portion of the article. It's well worth the read.



My web hosting site has been tossing around the directory where my HTML is supposed to be and they changed it again today, so I had to re-re-configure Blogger again, which is why today's posts didn't appear until just minutes ago. Anyway, enjoy.



Sympathy for a terrorist, part..um...three.
While Yasser Arafat is being remembered by many as the father of modern terrorism, the United Nations headquarters in New York City is honoring the Palestinian leader by lowering its flag to half-mast.

"Deeply moved" by news of his death, U.N. General Secretary Kofi Annan gave Arafat a "special tribute" before the General Assembly this afternoon after conveying condolences to his wife and daughter.

"By signing the Oslo accords in 1993 he took a giant step towards the realization of this vision," Annan said in a statement delivered by a spokesman.

"It is tragic that he did not live to see it fulfilled."

Flags at half-mast for a terrorist? This is truly amazing. Sec. Annan, don't you think with just the slightest bit of give on his part, Arafat could have easily see the Oslo accords fulfilled rather easily? You worry about President Bush going to war against a guy who filled mass graves, but you're deeply moved by the death of a guy who killed innocent people by the thousands?

Pardon me if this is shouting, but WHERE IS THE SANITY IN ALL OF THIS? It's painfully absent, to my reckoning.

(OK, as of now I'm done with Arafat postings. OK, unless something even more insane comes across the wires.)



Fer goodness sake...how long do you think this accusation has been waiting to be made?
"I accuse Israel of having poisoned the blood of Abu Ammar," Khaled Meshal, the overall leader of Hamas told Al-Jazeera TV, using Arafat's nom-de-guerre.

That script must've been in cold storage for decades now, just waiting for the day Arafat died. Talk about sour grapes.



Sympathy for a terrorist, part deux:
In a tribute to the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat, the New York Times yesterday featured a glowing obituary that blames Israel for Palestinian terrorism, ignores major violent incidents, contradicts historical accounts of certain events, whitewashes viscious propaganda on Palestinian TV, and hails Arafat as a "statesman" and the only Palestinian leader who could make "painful compromises for peace."

In the 5,265 word obituary by writer Judith Miller, readers are introduced to Arafat only as "the wily and enigmatic father of Palestinian nationalism who for almost 40 years symbolized his people's longing for a distinct political identity and independent state ... No other individual so embodied the Palestinians' plight: their dispersal, their statelessness, their hunger for a return to a homeland lost to Israel."

You'd think these folks are jockeying for a position in the Palestinian Authority or something.

It has generally been the left in this country that has aligned themselves with the Palestinian cause and consequently with Arafat. To them, Israel's mere existence is at fault when Palestinians engage in terrorism to destroy it, as this eulogy plainly shows. The methods by which this group has tried to get their own state have been horrific, yet the Times barely mentions this.
In the most direct reference to Arafat's terrorism, which has involved the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, the 1973 murders of two US diplomats in Khartoum, the 1986 murder of an American on the Achille Lauro cruise ship, killings of hundreds of Israelis in homicide bombings, and murders and assassinations of Palestinians seen as threats to his leadership or collaborators with Israel, Miller, citing no specific examples, calls Arafat's "violence" the "air piracy and innovative forms of mayhem staged for maximum propaganda value."

He may have been responsible for the death of thousands, but at least he was innovative. Oh, and it is "thousands", not just hundreds. The latest intifadah has claimed 900+ Israelis.
"Mr. Arafat," Miller gushes, "assumed many poses. But the image that endures – and the one he clearly relished – was that of the Arab fighter, the grizzled, scruffy-bearded guerrilla in olive-green military fatigues and his trademark checkered head scarf, carefully folded in the elongated diamond shape of what was once Palestine."

Fact-checking, please? Would someone show me a map, drawn by an independent party (i.e. these don't count), with a sovereign country called "Palestine" with Jerusalem as its capital? And then let's not forget that the Palestinians are surround by (allegedly) friendly Arab countries that simply refuse to give them asylum, using them as pawns against Israel.

And now the hand behind the moving pawns is finally dead after all these years. As I've said before, we can only hope that this will bring about a more peaceful situation than could ever occur while Arafat was alive.



Want to welcome the folks from Oh, That Liberal Media, Clayton Cramer's Blog, Fraters Libertas and Lago in the Morning (sorry, no permalink there) who are coming to read my thoughts on bin Laden's Arafat's eulogies. Thanks for stopping by and take a look around, especially at the Homespun Bloggers crew (to the left, and down a bit).


Thursday, November 11, 2004

Yasser Arafat's dead. This will be heralded as good news by most peace-loving folks, except of course those same Palestinians that cheered the 9/11 attacks.

Let us look now at the praise he's getting from people. First of all, note that President Bush did not actually praise the man himself, thankfully.
The death of Yasser Arafat is a significant moment in Palestinian history. We express our condolences to the Palestinian people. For the Palestinian people, we hope that the future will bring peace and the fulfillment of their aspirations for an independent, democratic Palestine that is at peace with its neighbors.

Yes it is significant, in a positive way frankly. But let's take a look at how other governments and the news media are referring to him. As you read this, just remember that Arafat has been the terrorist's terrorist for at least 30 years, and consider how you'd feel if these words were spoken of another terrorist who hasn't been working as long; Osama bin Laden.

The first paragraph of the linked AP story says this:
Yasser Arafat, who triumphantly forced his people's plight into the world spotlight but failed to achieve his lifelong quest for Palestinian statehood, died Thursday at age 75.

Imagine the lead for OBLs demise; "Osama bin Laden, who triumphantly forced his faction's demands into the world spotlight but failed to achieve his lifelong quest for the demise of the United States, died Thursday at age 52." You'd choke on those words for OBL. His "quest" has involved the worst terrorist attacks on our soil ever. Yet Arafat's goons have been killing Israelis at a serious clip and his terrorism is simply part of a "quest". How poetic...and utterly foolish. He could have realized his "quest" virtually in full during the Clinton administration, but he walked away from it. A Palestinian state would remove his power and influence. Given his actions, he most certainly did not want that.

None other than French President Jacques Chirac called Arafat a "man of courage and conviction". Is walking away from the peace table courageous? Does killing innocent people make you a man of conviction? Make the case if you want, but just get ready to eulogize bin Laden in the same way.

How about the German government?
"Yasser Arafat's life stands for the varied and tragic history of the Palestinian people and the Middle East as a whole." German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said. "In it were reflected many people's hopes for peace, but time and again also their disappointments and setbacks."

More tempered remarks, yes, but let's rewrite this for a second. "Osama bin Laden's life stands for the varied and tragic history of the Muslim people and the Middle East as a whole. In it were reflected many Muslims' hopes for peace and sharia law, but time and again also their disappointments and setbacks." What a setback for OBL when we booted the Taliban out of Afghanistan. What a disappointment that women can go to school and vote. If someone spoke this about bin Laden, you'd be horrified at reading them, but for Arafat even these "tempered" comments are considered worthy of a worse man. How does this make sense?

Jeff Jacoby has some good observations on the news media's fawning over Arafat.
Derek Brown wrote in The Guardian that Arafat's "undisputed courage as a guerrilla leader" was exceeded only "by his extraordinary courage" as a peace negotiator. But it is an odd kind of courage that expresses itself in shooting unarmed victims -- or in signing peace accords and then flagrantly violating their terms.

Courage to walk away from 95% of what he wanted to turn back to violence? That's not an act of courage, it's a desperate attempt to continue to hold on to influence and power. Jacoby continues:
Another commentator, columnist Gwynne Dyer, asked, "So what did Arafat do right?" The answer: He drew worldwide attention to the Palestinian cause, "for the most part by successful acts of terror." In other words, butchering innocent human beings was "right," since it served an ulterior political motive. No doubt that thought brings daily comfort to all those who were forced to bury a child, parent, or spouse because of Arafat's "successful" terrorism.

And again imagine this kind of praise heaped upon Osama bin Laden, who achieved exactly the same thing. Before 9/11, how many Americans even knew his name? So then, was 9/11 the "right" thing to do?
Some journalists couldn't wait for Arafat's actual death to begin weeping for him. Take the BBC's Barbara Plett, who burst into tears on the day he was airlifted out of the West Bank. "When the helicopter carrying the frail old man rose above his ruined compound," Plett reported from Ramallah, "I started to cry." Normal people don't weep for brutal murderers, but Plett made it clear that her empathy for Arafat -- whom she praised as "a symbol of Palestinian unity, steadfastness, and resistance" -- was heartfelt:

"I remember well when the Israelis re-conquered the West Bank more than two years ago, how they drove their tanks and bulldozers into Mr. Arafat's headquarters, trapping him in a few rooms, and throwing a military curtain around Ramallah. I remember how Palestinians admired his refusal to flee under fire. They told me: `Our leader is sharing our pain, we are all under the same siege.' And so was I." Such is the state of journalism at the BBC, whose reporters do not seem to have any trouble reporting, dry-eyed, on the plight of Arafat's victims. (That is, when they mention them -- which Plett's teary bon voyage to Arafat did not.)

Imagine a BBC reporter weeping for what might have happened to OBL during the Tora Bora bombing? Preposterous, you might think. And yet they weep for a terrorist worse than him. Maybe it's because Arafat didn't do his dirty work on American soil (or British soil, in the case of this BBC writer). That shouldn't matter, but apparently it does to Ms. Plett.

The death of Yasser Arafat should have been met with just as much joy as the death of Osama bin Laden will. (Well, I hope it will, but now I'm not so sure.) The fact that he was the de facto head of a political group should not mitigate that. He had no intention of acting in their best interests as he demonstrated time and time again. Every olive branch held out front was made of plastic, and the gun behind his back was cocked. And yet the press and "Old Europe" can't help but hold him up as some sort of philanthropist.

To the mainstream media, I have a suggestion. Start writing your eulogies for Osama bin Laden. It should be easy; you've already written the template today. But it's nothing to be proud of.

UPDATE: Former President Jimmy Carter has weighed in on Arafat. He called the terrorist "a powerful human symbol and a forceful advocate" and that he provided "indispensable leadership to a revolutionary movement". Hey Osama, sign this guy up to speak at your funeral.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

For the "voter fraud" conspiracy theorists, please read Pejman Yousefzadeh's compilation of debunkification. Say goodnight, guys, and turn out the lights when you leave. The election's over, and Bush won.

Oh, and "fair and square", by the way.



The Homespun Bloggers are gearing up for life after the election. If you want to join, now's a good time. (It's always a good time to get additional linkage, eh?)

Also, there's work going on to do some new things with the group. A new Topic of the Week feature will be starting soon, and I'm working on a potential "Homespun Radio" streaming audio program. Stay tuned!



The case for "mandate": RealClear Politics has a table showing the popular votes from both the 2000 and 2004 elections, and a column with the change in percentage for Bush this year vs. 2000. In every single state, Bush got a larger percentage of the popular vote this year (even if just by .1 point, but as high as 7.8 points).

Whine as you may about a "deeply divided" country, but the fact is that this divide got shallower in the past 4 years. Don't mistake a higher fever pitch of hate from the left for deeper division. Just because they're louder doesn't mean there are more of them. It may just mean they see the writing on the wall and are more desperate.


Tuesday, November 09, 2004

And now comes the next round.
ATLANTA - As promised, gay-rights supporters filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to throw out a same-sex marriage ban voted into Georgia's constitution last week.

They say the amendment contained misleading language, asking voters only if they wanted to define marriage as between a man and a woman, not whether they wanted to ban civil unions. The measure passed 3-to-1 last Tuesday, winning with huge margins among almost every demographic.

In the Fulton County lawsuit, the gay-rights supporters call the amendment "fatally flawed" and said the language on the ballot "had the effect of unfairly attempting to influence voters." The plaintiffs include two Democratic state legislators and a University of Georgia law professor.

The group of gay-rights supporters also tried unsuccessfully to block the amendment vote, on the same grounds that it was misleading. The state Supreme Court ultimately decided it could not intervene until after a vote was taken.

The lawsuit names Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue as defendant. Monday, at a caucus meeting for Republican members of the state House, members of the GOP promised to fight the lawsuit.

"We will take all actions necessary to defend the decision of the people and will not look kindly upon any tampering with our state constitution," said Rep. Glenn Richardson, R-Dallas.



"A Tale of Two Internet Fundraisers" is the topic of my call to Bill Bennett on today's "Considerettes Radio". As I've mentioned before in a previous election postmortem, The Daily Kos was raising money for 15 candidates. This, one of the premier Democratic blogs, raised over $500,000 for these candidates. Redstate.org, a similar type of group blog for conservatives but really just getting going and with not nearly the readership (yet) of dKos, raised money for 4 candidates. Of those 4, 3 won, but of the 15 that Kos was raising money for, not a single one won their race.

I discussed this with Bill Bennett on his "Morning in America" radio show and suggested that this may mean that in this election cycle people were more driven to the polls by ideas rather than images. All the money raised for TV ads and such didn't keep Tom Daschle from suffering an historic defeat. Bill notes that the economy, jobs, and the promise of pork didn't even matter as much as core values, but even on the issue of the economy I think some folks really did understand the truth of the matter. Listen in and see if you agree.

"Considerettes Radio" on Bill Bennett's Morning in America (WGKA, Atlanta, GA) 11/9/2004 8:35am EST (464K)


Friday, November 05, 2004

Bon voyage!
The number of U.S. citizens visiting Canada's main immigration Web site has shot up six-fold as Americans flirt with the idea of abandoning their homeland after President Bush's election win this week.

"When we looked at the first day after the election, Nov. 3, our Web site hit a new high, almost double the previous record high," immigration ministry spokeswoman Maria Iadinardi said on Friday.

On an average day some 20,000 people in the United States log onto the Web site, www.cic.gc.ca -- a figure which rocketed to 115,016 on Wednesday. The number of U.S. visits settled down to 65,803 on Thursday, still well above the norm.

Bush's victory sparked speculation that disconsolate Democrats and others might decide to start a new life in Canada, a land that tilts more to the left than the United States.

Have a nice trip! Yeah, your taxes may be higher, but they make up for it by making you wait weeks for "free" health care. And you'll fit right in, too!
The idea of increased immigration by unhappy Americans is triggering some amusement in Canada. Commentator Thane Burnett of the Ottawa Sun newspaper wrote a tongue-in-cheek guide to would-be new citizens on Friday.

"As Canadians, you'll have to learn to embrace and use all the products and culture of Americans, while bad-mouthing their way of life," he said.

Just like they do now.



I dunno. Maybe hanging chads weren't all that bad.
An error with an electronic voting system gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in suburban Columbus, elections officials said.

Franklin County's unofficial results had Bush receiving 4,258 votes to Democrat John Kerry's 260 votes in a precinct in Gahanna. Records show only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct.

...

In one North Carolina county, more than 4,500 votes were lost because officials mistakenly believed a computer that stored ballots electronically could hold more data than it did. And in San Francisco, a malfunction with custom voting software could delay efforts to declare the winners of four races for county supervisor.

...

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, a glitch occurred with software designed for the city's new "ranked-choice voting," in which voters list their top three choices for municipal offices. If no candidate gets a majority of first-place votes outright, voters' second and third-place preferences are then distributed among candidates who weren't eliminated in the first round.

When the San Francisco Department of Elections tried a test run on Wednesday of the program that does the redistribution, some of the votes didn't get counted and skewed the results, director John Arntz said.

"All the information is there," Arntz said. "It's just not arriving the way it was supposed to."

I'm in the computer field, so I know how this stuff can happen, and without some sort of paper backup you're at the mercy of silicon. At least with the Florida 2000 debacle, there was something to recount.



What bad economy?
New U.S. jobs soared at the sharpest rate in seven months in October, the government reported on Friday, helped by a surge in construction activity as hurricane-battered areas in the Southeast were rebuilt.

A surprisingly strong 337,000 jobs were added to payrolls last month -- twice the 169,000-job growth that Wall Street economists had forecast and the strongest since March when 353,000 jobs were created, the Labor Department said.

Still, the unemployment rate edged up to 5.5 percent from 5.4 percent in September, but that was because more people joined the search for employment, a potentially hopeful sign.

Not only was October a strong month but the number of jobs created in the two prior months was revised up -- to 139,000 in September instead of 96,000 and to 198,000 in August instead of 128,000.

Some folks say that to vote Republican is to vote against your own economic self-interest. For these kinds of people, letting me keep my own money so as to stimulate the economy is somehow not in my best interest? It's better if the government takes more and more of it from me? Hardly.



Glenn Reynolds notes that the mainstream media lost almost worse than John Kerry did. Why did they fail in delivering the 15% of the vote that Evan Thomas of Newsweek said they would? Glenn explains:
But they failed. They failed because they don't have the power that they used to have. And they don't have the power that they used to have, well, for several reasons:

The first is that they've lost their credibility. Their Bush-hatred was so palpable, and so poorly concealed, that even accurate stories reflecting badly on the Administration lost much of their sting because of the unmistakable glee with which they were presented. Add to that the many stories that turned out badly, and the sputtering how-dare-you-question-us response when they were challenged, and there's not a lot left.

The second, which goes closely with the first, is that there are alternatives. Back in what news people consider the Golden Age -- the 1950s and 1960s -- there were few alternatives to the three big television networks and local monopoly papers. If they didn't report something, it wasn't news. If they did report something, even if their reporting was wrong or dishonest, most people believed it, and few people got the other side of the story. That's not true anymore. Talk radio, cable news channels, and the Internet have opened up the conversation and allowed for criticism. This has made the bias, and the inaccuracy, and the outright manipulation in the Old Media easier to spot.

It will be very interesting to see the trends in MSM watching/reading. Will they continue to drop as they are, or drop faster? I really don't think there's much of a chance that they'll gain viewership/readership.


Thursday, November 04, 2004

This was definitely a record-setting national election, but here in Georgia we had some of our own records set.
  • We had 77% voter turnout statewide, with some precincts seeing a 80+% turnout.
  • For the first time in state history, Georgia has two Republican senators.
  • Republicans won a majority in the State House of Representatives and held the majority in the State Senate. For the first time since Reconstruction, Georgia is being governed by Republicans in both Houses of the Legislature and holds the Governor's Mansion.

When someone suggests that George W. Bush won on the basis of a single issue or "likability" or tries to paint his victory as simplistically as possible, just remember all the other Republicans--gaining seats in the U.S. House, Senate and in state capitols across the country--that came out on top.

How did it really happen? Zell Miller gave his answer.
From Washington, retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Zell Miller, who has blasted the national party for tilting too far to the left, reminded state Democrats that he sounded the warning bell.

"It's pretty simple," Miller told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "When you write off centrist and conservative policies that reflect the will of most of the people in your state, you write off your state. If Democrats want to win a majority again in Georgia, they cannot remain silent on gay marriage. They cannot embrace a liberal presidential candidate.

"They cannot let themselves be dragged to the left by leaders who are bent on tearing people down rather than building the party back up."

Miller's last line was aimed at Bobby Kahn, chairman of the state party, who said Miller has made some valid points about the national party's perceived leftward tilt.


UPDATE: Added the links, the Miller quote, and fixed, based on one of the articles, the top precinct turnout percentage.

(Cross-posted at Redstate.org. Comments welcome.)


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Got an E-mail (from my sis) about the whole marriage definition thing.
I'm so glad we had a referendum on the definition of marriage. Some nouns are really confusing, so having the people of 11 states explain that "marriage" is something between a man and woman really clears things up for me now.

Can we have some more referendums on other nouns and maybe some verbs, too? What is "grass"? Do weeds count as grass? Can the voters tell me what a "car" is? Does an SUV qualify?

And how about a referendum on what "is" is?

Heh heh.



Some observations on the election from around the blogosphere.

Clayton Cramer (conservative):
If the Democratic Party had been running against a Republican with a booming economy and no war problems, this would have been disappointing. But they ran against a President who has been fighting with a sputtering economy, an unpopular war that has not worked out very well--and they can't win? They have among the most astonishing media campaigns in recent memory including Fahrenheit 9/11, with a campaign finance law (McCain/Feingold) designed to disarm the NRA, billionaires like George Soros spending tens of millions of dollars to defeat George Bush (and perhaps manipulating oil prices to that end), and they still can't win? There's a message here, and the Democratic Party better start asking some questions about why it couldn't beat a stupid Texas cowboy like George Bush.

This is more evidence that the American people are looking more at ideas than rhetoric. Sounds good.

Debbie Payton (conservative):
Baloney. It’s all baloney from sore losers. While I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for Kerry and his supporters, who fought so hard for so long, to concede defeat (as it would be for any presidential candidate), I still don’t buy the “nation divided” line, and I regret that he used it in his concession speech today.

Read the whole thing to find out what "unity" has meant in the past.

Markos Moulitsas (Daily Kos, liberal):
We put together an unprecedented ground operation, but it was matched by the zealots on the right. We experienced an explosion in the blog world and started a nascent liberal radio network, but our message machine was far outmatched by the rightwing noise machine (Fox News, the Washington Times, Drudge Report, Talk Radio, etc.) We put forth quality candidates in races nationwide, only to see most outclassed and outgunned by a GOP which ran on three simple tenets: God, guns and gays.

My guys are a "ground organization", yours are "zealots". These are terms & euphemisms you toss around when you're losing the argument. Moulitsas' whole notion of a "right wing noise machine" is just partisan name-calling whilst covering your eyes and ears, pretending not to hear the torrent of bias coming from the likes of CBS and the NY Times. Again, I have a good feeling that the American electorate is looking at the issues these days, and not the classless rhetoric of the Michael Moores of the world.

Marc VanderMass (conservative):
Why is it that people warn about the dire consequences of Bush getting his support only from middle America and the south, but no one warns of the dire consequences of the Democrats getting all their support from the northeast, the west coast and a small part of the upper midwest?


A question the "left wing noise machine" will never ask.

TalkLeft (liberal):
TalkLeft will not support George Bush.

Thanks for being such good losers, guys.

Bryan Preston (conservative):
The Democrats as a party are irrelevant. They hold no levers of power, and their exercise of minority agitation in the Senate has cost them more seats there. Obstructionist Sen. Minority Leader Tom Daschle was defeated. The Democrats' shameless embrace of the worst elements in today's politics have cost them dearly. Maybe, just maybe, this big smackdown will resonate and bring that party back to its roots.

I hope so. I'd love to see a new Scoop Jackson wing rise from the ashes of this resounding defeat. If it does, the Democrats can reclaim a place at the table on the issue most pressing right now, which is national security. But as long as the Moore-Kerry-Kennedy wing leads the DNC, last night made it clear that the GOP will enjoy a string of victories into the horizon.

If you listen to Kos, the Moore-Kerry-Kennedy wing is too far to the right. That can only be good for Republicans.



More thoughts on the election:

Futures Markets: TradeSports is one of the best known futures markets, and it uses real money. Players buy and sell contracts for certain situations (e.g. Bush wins popular vote, Redskins win the Super Bowl, etc.) and the contracts pay out $0 if they don't happen or $100 if they do. Before election day, the TradeSports contract for Bush and Kerry were trading close to $50. Once the bogus exit polls hit the Internet, the Kerry contract jumped to $70+. As the night went on, and it was apparent how bad those early numbers were, the contract trades started going in the opposite direction. The question then becomes; how good are these futures markets at predicting the future if they're just as subject to polls as the networks are? Why not just stick with the polls we already have?

A lot has been written about Idea futures markets and their predictive value. One web site by Robin Hanson has links to a lot of such articles, including many he has written. Robin is also a player in a game that I mentioned earlier, the Foresight Exchange, which is similar to TradeSports but using fake money. While I have an account with FX, I don't play it as actively as others do. However, I stay on the mailing list because of the interesting discussions there. The predictive value of ideas futures has generally been considered quite good according to those in the field, but on the discussion list today I found some folks sounding more skeptical, especially in relation to their original idea that futures markets based on real money would be better predictors that fake money ones. Here's how the discussion went (names expunged):

Player A: "Tradesports, IEM, Betfair give Kerry a 71 to 74% chance to win." [This was at 5:30pm Eastern time. "IEM" is the Iowa Electronic Markets and Betfair is another (mostly sports) futures market.]

Player B: "Bush is even _lower_ on iowa--0.26 or so. Looks like W will really have to pull a rabbit out of the hat at this point. Having Jeb yank Kathy Harris's chain won't work this time." [Also around 5:30 pm. This morning I replied to this, "Anyone see a rabbit around here?"]

Player A: "Tradesports now gives Bush a 62% of winning." [10:02pm]

Player C: "Well, I'm starting to wonder if maybe real money isn't enough in itself to make a good market. IMHO, FX has been better than TS for the past few months. Looks like FX has some advantages. I guess player skill and better transparency." [11:15pm. First sign of skepticism. Now some of the heavyweights are having their notions about using real cash challenged. Frankly, if there is predictive value to futures markets, I too would've thought that putting your own money on the line would make it a better predictor.]

Player A: [at 7:00am]
Well the betting markets made a big reversal last night, from up to almost 75% in favor of Kerry, now down to a 5% chance for Kerry (even that looks too high, so I finally made my first election bet).

Of course we should expect this sort of reversal at least 1/4 of the time, so one can't be too stunned. But this does at least raise a small suspicion that theses markets were too volatile due to over-confidence. However, one case won't really show this - we have to look at statistics over many events to see if there's a trend.

In the end the important question is comparative - are there any other institutions that on average do better? So far direction comparisons between markets and other institutions in the field have favored markets. And real and play money have come out about the same. But the jury is still out.

Later his morning, another player has summed things up this way, noting that perhaps the markets didn't really add any new information to the mix.
It seemed to me that the money markets were poll driven. When the early exit polls seemed to say Kerry had the advantage the money markets moved swiftly for Kerry, and perhaps moved faster and further than they should have. Perhaps people hoped to turn a quick reaction to the polls into a tidy profit.

Later in the evening the money markets were declaring a Bush win while the networks were still waffling. I suppose that the networks also knew Bush had likely won but refused to say so, out of fear of looking bad. The networks have a vested interest in a close election--if they say Bush has won everyone will shut off the TV, go to bed, and stop watching the paid advertisements. Their reluctance to call it is understandable given the egg on their face last time, and the economics of it. The market's only incentive was to call it straight up, and did so.

Two general comments:

-- if the money market is poll driven, meaning, if movement in the market can overall be explained by the publication of polls, then there is no further research being done by market participants and the money market can only be WORSE then the polls, given that it simply adds market noise to them.

-- the market WAS good at cutting through the reluctance to declare a winner and present a clearer summary of the situation than the television anchors were willing to, despite apparently being based entirely on information provided by television anchors. So the market seems to be pretty good at presenting a clear summary of the information that has been presented; but it is not clear in this case that the markets had any *additional* information to go on.

Perhaps if the markets were much larger people would invest in independent research--until that point, is it reasonable to think that the markets can do better than the polls, if theoretically they are driven by the polling data?

Yes, the jury is still out, and this has really given the futures market folks a lot of data to chew on. The concept does sound interesting to me, but when you do this with real money, you have to add the "quick buck" factor in. Many people will play the market, not so much to get the cash benefit of being right, but just gaming it based on gut feel and trying to get some quick cash out of the whole thing. I think that adds "noise" to the information trying to be expressed by the market and you don't really get a good picture. Then again, these are humans we're talking about. One more poster said this:
But was it really rational to accept this poll data at face value? In retrospect, the data was wrong. And many commentators during the day pointed to inaccuracies and bias in raw exit poll data, such as http://www.mysterypollster.com/main/2004/11/exit_polls_what.html . And historically the midday exit poll data has not been that good, in 2000 and 2002 it was pretty far off. Yet the markets seemed to move based on this data.

Maybe the markets have learned their lesson and will be more cautious in the future, but institutionally it should not be necessary to learn in this way. This historical data should have been enough to teach the lesson.

But the markets are only human.



[I've been trying to post this all morning. Blogger is so...blogged down...apparently. A big day for posting.]

Thoughts on the election:

>yawn< I stayed up until 1am last night and felt pretty good about the outcome of the election. At 9am this morning I still do.

OK, I'll admit it; the initial reports of a Kerry surge, driven by exit polling, did give me a few jitters early on, and when there were no surprises on into the evening (no former blue states going red), I wasn't totally at ease until about 10pm or so (Eastern time). However, at this point, unless John Kerry can pull a huge percentage of the absentee & provisional ballots in Ohio, the fat lady has sung and Dubya has 4 more years coming to him.

Some notes:

The Popular Vote: OK Democrats, can we now get over this whole "selected, not elected" bit? I'm still looking for the concession speech from Michael Moore who really wanted this election to be determined by the popular vote (never mind that pesky "Constitution" thing). Bush got more popular votes than any President in history. Get over it.

Same-sex Marriage: On another "will of the people" subject, 11 states from all across the fruited plain, said quite plainly that "gay marriage" isn't marriage.
The margin Tuesday in North Dakota was 3-1 in favor - the same as in Georgia and Kentucky as the proposal passed in all 11 states where it was on the ballot. The margin was 6-1 in Mississippi, while the amendment was also approved in Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah.

And from the same article, an additional reminder of why it's become a constitutional issue.
Gay-rights activists intend to press marriage-rights lawsuits in states like California and New Jersey, where they believe the high courts might eventually rule in their favor.

Note the lack of the term "legislature", where laws are supposed to be passed. Gay-rights activists have changed the playing field, and they have been met on that field in a big way.

The Internet as Fund Raiser: Redstate.org is a web community of conservatives that, among other things, tried to do something similar for conservative candidates that the Daily Kos tried to do for liberal candidates; raise money for them. Kos has a huge community and they raised boatloads of money for their slate of 15 endorsed candidates ($546,392 as of this morning).

Redstate endorsed 5 candidates and raised money for them. One of which, Pete Coors, lost. The rest won their races, include John Thune who ousted Tom Daschle in a history-making upset. How did the legions of dKos do? All 15 of their endorsed candidates lost. Maybe, just maybe, the American people responded more to ideas than to political ads.

(More later, including my thoughts on how idea futures markets fared.)


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Via Instapundit comes this bad news for The Guardian. Bush is winning 53% to 46% with 59% of the precincts reporting. This is the county that the British paper tried to influence to vote for Kerry, but it really does appear to have backfired.

Thanks, British libs. We're indebted to you. >grin<



Over at "Daily Kos", kos is noting:
MSNBC exit poll indicates that the youth did not vote. The 18-29 bracked [sic] voted the same this year as in 2000, while 30-44 group was down.

That's what's killing us.

That's what you get when a very sizable group of your voters are not energized about the candidate but are just voting against the other guy.



Bummer, but it was nice while it lasted. Looks like McKinney is heading back to Washington with 63% of the vote. One really has to wonder if Denise Majette left that seat in order that McKinney could retake it. Majette was trounced, just as everyone predicted. Makes ya' go "hmmm".



Looks like 2/3rds of Coloradans have shot down the proposal to split up their electoral votes. That's both good for them (they've rejected political irrelevancy) and for the rest of us because the groups that were pushing for this considered the Colorado vote a bellwether for bringing this to other states. Good news all around.



Boy, talk about getting my heart beating...Fox News is showing that Cynthia McKinney is getting beat for a U.S. House seat 70-30 by her Republican challenger Catherine Davis. OK, OK, it's only with 2% of the precincts reporting, but I can hope, can't I?



Constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage are getting passed. So far, it's looking good in Georgia, Kentucky and Ohio. Given that Ohio is a big battleground state, this may bring out more of the conservatives to the polls, and makes things look better for Bush there.



According to exit polling in Georgia (reported by CNN), the Bush vote is coming from all quarters:

Male - 60%
Female - 54%
Independents - 57%

Of the major political parties, here are the cross-party voting numbers:

Republicans voting for Kerry - 4%
Democrats voting for Bush - 13%

Those are the most interesting numbers, I think. If Bush continues to get 3 times the crossovers of Kerry, this can only bode well.



With the early exit polling rumors hitting the streets, the TradeSports state-by-state map is getting bluer by the minute. Also the main Bush/Kerry contracts have changed value dramatically in favor of Kerry (72 vs 29). We'll see if this is just "irrational exuberance" or not once the real poll numbers start coming in.



Ever luvin'! The blogosphere must be burning up. I can't raise Instapundit or Command Post. However, Redstate.org is still reachable. Keep an eye on it.



Working from home worked well for voting. Got the the polling place, no line, no waiting for a booth, in and out in 5 minutes. Color me happy.

I found a nifty little portion of Fox News web site where you can select up to 10 races being watched around the nation and have a small window you keep open that will update the results of your chosen races every two minutes this evening. Go to FoxNews.com and click on "Track Your Races".

I'm still looking for a new site that will have a red/blue state map updated as the projections come in. (The Fox window only shows the popular vote percentage and the current electoral vote tally, but I'm interested in which states contributed to the count.)

UPDATE: Found one at CNN.com.



Here's a couple of predicted electoral maps that it will be interesting to compare to. The first is from electoral-vote.com, which predicts states based on the most recent state-by-state polling. It shows a Kerry victory 298 to 231 with 9 electoral votes left in states where the latest poll was a tie. The second is a composite of the information from TradeSports, showing how real money contracts for the outcome of each states voting were selling this morning. This map comes from GeekMedia.org, with the value of the contract (and thus the prediction for the state) based on the last actual trade, rather than being based on the bid or ask prices). Using that valuation, it shows a Kerry lead 252 to 232, but with 54 electoral votes too close to call. On both maps, red states are predicted for Bush and blue states are predicted for Kerry, while white states are considered.






electoral-vote.com


TradeSports


They look very similar, although the biggest differences are which states are considered too close to call. TradeSports has more states white, but all those states are blue (though barely) on the electoral-vote site. Additionally, one of the white states on electoral-vote (New Hampshire) is light blue at TradeSports. The only real discrepancy I see between the two is Hawaii, which has consistently voted Democrat in the past, but looks to be in play this year, with electoral-vote even predicting it "barely Bush".

As I said, it'll be very interesting to compare these predictions to the actual results. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Apparently, electoral-vote.com has more than one way to predict the outcome. I'm on a mailing list for a web game called The Foresight Exchange (kinda like TradeSports, but for fake money). One player asked this question:
I don't understand www.electoral-vote.com.

I just found out that it actually has four predictions, as of Nov. 1:
www.electoral-vote.com/fin/nov01z.html, Kerry 248, Bush 283, tied 7
www.electoral-vote.com/fin/nov01p.html, Kerry 238, Bush 256, tied 44
www.electoral-vote.com/, Kerry 298, Bush 231, tied 9
www.electoral-vote.com/pred/index.html, Kerry 306, Bush 218, tied 14

Same date, same analyst, same polls, different results. Can someone make some sense of this?

One of the folks replied:
Those pages use different models to predict the outcome. All I remember is that one of them is a linear trend oriented approach, and one allots 2/3 of undecideds to the challenger, which apparently has some historical basis for validity.

Anyway, just some food for thought. Of the 4 predictions, 2 favor Bush and 2 favor Kerry. Still a toss-up.

UPDATE #2: The electoral-vote.com site has been updated this morning with the latest polls, putting Kerry ahead only by 1with 15 too close to call. Some states switched candidates. Here's Tanenbaum's notes on this:
Another bumper crop of polls, 47 in all. Five states changed since yesterday. A University of New Hampshire poll breaks the tie there and gives Kerry a 1% edge in New Hampshire 49% to 48%. According to Zogby, Kerry is also edging ahead in New Mexico, 51% to 48%.

Now come some controversial polls. Yesterday we had Kerry ahead in Ohio on the strength of a Gallup poll showing him 7% ahead there. Today we have a new Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll showing Kerry 3% ahead there Please don't send e-mail telling me what you think of Fox News. I'm pretty good at guessing, but I am trying very hard to be impartial. Tomorrow we'll know. Similarly, in Wisconsin a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll shows Kerry's 7% lead has vanished overnight and been replaced by Bush's 3% lead. Again, PLEASE no e-mail about this. Instead, come back tomorrow for the post-mortem. If you don't buy these numbers, add 30 to Kerry and subtract 30 from Bush to get Kerry 292, Bush 231.

Finally, Strategic Visionn (R) says New Jersey is a tie. Yesterday I had an Eagleton-Rutgers poll showing Kerry up by 8% and today there was a Quinnipiac University poll showing Kerry ahead by 5% in New Jersey. But the rule still holds: most recent poll wins, and that is Strategic Vision. If you don't like this result, award Kerry another 15 electoral votes.



Voter turnout in Georgia is predicted to be around 72%. I find this a good thing, regardless of who's elected to the various positions up for grabs today. Hopefully, this will mean a more informed electorate in the future, if interest in politics expands a bit.

Lines are huge today, so I'm working from home (really nice to be able to do that), and plan on trying to catch those lines at ebb tide. We'll see.


Monday, November 01, 2004

How hard has the press been stumping for Kerry. Well first, consider this:
In the 2000 election, Mr. Bush and challenger Al Gore got equally lousy press, with each receiving evaluations that were about 2-to-1 negative.

That was then, this is now.
Sen. John Kerry has gotten the white-glove treatment from the press, garnering more praise from journalists than any other presidential candidate in the last quarter-century, according to a new analysis of almost 500 news stories released today by the Center for Media and Public Affairs.

"It's not just that John Kerry has gotten better press than President Bush before this election, he's gotten better press than anyone else since 1980. That's significant," said Bob Lichter, director of the D.C.-based nonpartisan research group.

"Kerry also got better press than anyone else in the days before the primaries as well," Mr. Lichter added.

In October alone, Mr. Kerry had a "record-breaking 77 percent positive press evaluations," compared with 34 percent positive for Mr. Bush, the study states.

Unprecedented, untrammeled accolades for Mr. Kerry were more than debate-related bounce, however. Since Labor Day, he also had a total of 58 percent positive stories, with just 36 percent for Mr. Bush.

And you'll never guess who's gotten the worst press of all. Well, if you know anything at all about the press, perhaps you will guess.
But Mr. Bush didn't get the absolute worst press on record. With only 9 percent positive stories in 1984, President Reagan got the most negative treatment by news outlets on record, the study says.

And who did Kerry unseat as the previously undisputed darling of the press?
Until this year, the record-holder for journalistic praise went to Walter Mondale, who accrued 56 percent positive press evaluations, also in 1984.

What liberal media? That liberal media!