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October 31, 2004

If They Were Republicans, It Would be Hate Speech

Overheard at my local hippy/trendy coffee shop: "I actually heard a rumour on the internet that Bush is back on drugs. Maybe he's getting his crack from Powell."

Yea, these guys (two middle-aged men) were joking. Doesn't make the joke any less racist. Whatever happened to the Left?

Posted by David Mader at 08:48 PM | (0) | Back to Main

October 30, 2004


Just a quick post tonight. The polls appear to be tightening, although keep in mind the Democratic-friendly tilt of weekend polls (or at the very least the Democratic-friendly tilt of last weekend's polls). Based on the latest round of Zogby state-by-state numbers, Electoral-Vote.Com has Bush at 280; that includes a Republucan Michigan.

But here's the one item that's caught my attention this evening (I can't figure out Mickey's hyperlinks so I'm reproducing the whole post):

Man Without Qualities flags WaPo's insight into Zogby's polling "method" in South Dakota -- which seems to be what those of us who followed his numbers during the N.H. primary suspected all along. Apparently the Zogby poll shows

Republican Thune leading Daschle, 48.5 percent to 45.5 percent, just within the margin of error. At first, however, the poll had shown an even larger Thune lead, which seemed so improbable that the pollsters adjusted their voter turnout estimates and arrived at the narrower gap. [Emphasis added]
P.S.: This is one reason why the word "Zogby" is intrinsically funny! But mainly it's the "Z." ... P.P.S.: Doesn't Slate's Electoral Scorecard rely heavily on Zogby in awarding Wisconsin to Kerry? I think it does. Will! Don't eat Zogby's toast! ... Update: The Rapid City Journal has Zogby's less-than-confidence-inspiring explanation. (Zogby calls the redo "one I could easily defend.")
Wow. Imagine Zogby were doing the same on a national level. You could be forgiven for automatically applying a one-point readjustment to every Zogby poll you read from now on. And you'd be looking at a much different race.

Posted by David Mader at 08:52 PM | (0) | Back to Main

October 29, 2004


Megan McArdle, aka 'Jane Galt,' has a point-by-point endorsement which is long, but worth a read at least in part. Especially this part:

A number of commenters have tried to convince me not to vote for Bush by trying to scare me with dire tales about another Scalia or Thomas appointed to the bench. Folks, this is like trying to scare me with a free Porsche. I'd be in heaven with nine Clarence Thomases on the bench.
Heh. Me too.

Posted by David Mader at 07:37 PM | (0) | Back to Main

More Seriously

The tape will obviously have political ramifications, and with four days until the election, political analyses are justified. But I worry about the ramifications beyond politics. Over at the Corner, Ciff May notes that bin Laden's preferred course of action the week before an election is not a video-tape but a terrorist attack. He also notes that the appearance of the tape does not rule out the possibility of such an attack. I'm now quite substantially more worried about an attack this weekend than I was two hours ago.

Posted by David Mader at 07:24 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Guess He's Not Dead

Five days before the presidential election, Ol' Sammy bin Laden breaks his long silence and denounces George Bush, warning of more attacks if current American policies are contiued.

Drudge has a translated transcript, which reads in parts like a Michael Moore speech:

[George H.W. Bush was] influenced by these [middle-eastern] regimes, Royal and military. And [he] was feeling jealous they were staying for decades in power stealing the nations finances without anybody overseeing them. So he transferred the oppression of freedom and tyranny to his son and they call it the Patriot Law to fight terrorism. He was bright in putting his sons as governors in states and he didn't forget to transfer his experience from the rulers of our region to Florida to falsify elections to benefit from it in critical times.

Here's how it plays well for Kerry: it reminds the American electorate that Osama bin Laden is still at large, some three years after September 11. Some Kerry supporters have already floated this message on the cable channels.

Here's how it plays well for Bush: it reminds the American electorate, five days before the election, of September 11. More than 'national security' generally, the response to September 11 and the conduct of the broad war on terror is the president's strongest card.

Andrew Sullivan, who has endorsed Kerry, believes the latest tape will tip the election for Bush.

Karl Rove, you evil genius. This was taped at Gitmo, wasn't it?

ONE MORE THING (19:38 EDT): Here's how it doesn't play at all: Kerry and Bush both issue strong affirmations of the united American stance against terror, and refuse to make the tape a political issue. Democratic voters instinctively internalize Democratic spin; Republican voters internalize Republican spin; the few independents left find their inclinations affirmed by the tape.

Posted by David Mader at 07:18 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Hooray for Judicial Activism!

A Quebec judge strikes down Canada's satellite-television regulations, opening the door to foreign satellite-TV providers. Unexpected and most welcome.

Posted by David Mader at 11:22 AM | (3) | Back to Main

There It Is

Mark Steyn, in his latest column in the revamped Spectator, clearly expresses the concerns I have about a Kerry election, and the reason I support the President for reelection:

Were America to elect John Kerry president, it would be seen around the world as a repudiation not just of Bush and of Iraq but of the broader war. It would be a declaration by the people of American unexceptionalism — that they are a slightly butcher Belgium; they would be signing on to the wisdom of conventional transnationalism.

Posted by David Mader at 10:18 AM | (0) | Back to Main

October 28, 2004

Drudge Goes Wild

Yet another siren banner, this time to report that the CIA and FBI have (both?) authenticated the tape he reported yesterday, showing an American promising a major terror attack against the United States.

Posted by David Mader at 10:39 AM | (0) | Back to Main

No There There

The al Qaqaa 'missing weapons' story continues to implode. Now ABC is reporting significant discrepancies between the amount of explosives supposedly looted from the site in March, 2003, and the amount of explosives reported to be at the site by the International Atomic Energy Agency in January, 2003.

As noted earlier, what explosives were left behind may well have been shipped to Syria by Russian army personnel in the weeks leading up to the invasion of Iraq.

Andrew Sullivan writes: "Compared to all the other munitions sites that were looted during and after the invasion, al Qa Qaa is not that devastating." That sounds an awful lot like 'Fake, but Accurate!'

Sullivan has some good points about the failure to turn talk about Saddam's WMD into action to secure said WMD-facilities. But I wouldn't mind a recognition, on his part, of this obviously-popular tactic on the part of the mainstream media to seize on a story because they want it to be true even when it isn't, and then to plead that it 'represents' the truth when it's debunked. That's pretty darned shoddy, if you ask me.

Posted by David Mader at 12:34 AM | (2) | Back to Main

October 27, 2004

He May Already Be Dead

Ha'aretz reports that all members of Fatah (Arafat's militia) living abroad have been ordered to Ramallah. They're expecting him to go soon, if he isn't already gone.

Posted by David Mader at 11:25 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Big Day For Drudge

He's got the siren up there for the second time in twelve hours! Here's why:

GERTZ // THURSDAY // WASH TIMES: Russian special forces troops moved many of Saddam Hussein's weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation, The Washington Times has learned. John A. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said in an interview that he believes the Russian troops, working with Iraqi intelligence, “almost certainly” removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad.
Okay, how soon before Kerry or Edwards publicly blames the whole Qaqaa leak on Karl Rove?

UPDATE (22:50 EDT): Here's the Washington Times story.

Posted by David Mader at 10:43 PM | (0) | Back to Main

This Could Be It


Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's health has deteriorated and he is in critical condition, Palestinian sources said on Wednesday night. The sources went on to say that a team of doctors in his Ramallah headquarters were fighting for his life. According to some reports, the PA chairman regained consciousness, though he was suffering from hallucinations.

Yasser Arafat collapsed Wednesday evening, was unconscious for about 10 minutes and remained in a "very difficult situation," Palestinian officials said. A team of Jordanian doctors was urgently summoned to treat the ailing Palestinian leader...

Arafat was eating soup during a meeting with Qureia, Abbas and another official between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. (2 p.m. or 3 p.m. EDT) when he vomited, according to a bodyguard who was in the compound at the time.

The 75-year-old Arafat was brought to the clinic inside the compound, where he collapsed and was unconscious for about 10 minutes, the guard said. His doctors were urgently summoned.

And the AP has the following report on Palestinian governance after Arafat:

Within hours, three senior Palestinian officials formed a special committee to run Palestinian affairs during Arafat's illness, according to a Palestinian official in Arafat's office

The committee includes Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, his predecessor, Mahmoud Abbas, and Salim Zaanoun, head of the Palestinian National Council.

The committee was to run the PLO and the Palestinian Authority until Arafat recovers, the official said on condition of anonymity.

And we all know how well triumvirates work out.

Command Post relays doubts about the triumvirate - from some of its members.

More as it comes.

Posted by David Mader at 08:00 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Evening Poll Note

This isn't quite a 'wrap,' hence 'note.' The WaPo/ABC roller shows Kerry up 49-48%. Yesterday Kerry was at 50-48%, capping three straight days of poll improvement. His fall one point versus Bush could be within the margin - but it could also corroborate the pro-Bush poll movement in Rasmussen which I noted earlier.

Posted by David Mader at 07:36 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Hobbits Live!

Well, lived.

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists in Australia have found a new species of hobbit-sized humans who lived about 18,000 years ago on an Indonesian island in a discovery that adds another piece to the complex puzzle of human evolution.

The partial skeleton of Homo floresiensis, found in a cave on the island of Flores, is of an adult female that was a meter (3 feet) tall, had a chimpanzee-sized brain and was substantially different from modern humans.

It shared the isolated island to the east of Java with miniature elephants and Komodo dragons. The creature walked upright, probably evolved into its dwarf size because of environmental conditions and coexisted with modern humans in the region for thousands of years.


Posted by David Mader at 04:45 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Arafat Sick

Rumour out of Ramallah is that Arafat's health is deteriorating (more here).

Posted by David Mader at 04:40 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Keep an Eye on Drudge

He's got his little animated siren graphic going above the fold and is promising a 'world exclusive.' With less than a week before the election, this could be important.

UPDATE (13:45 EDT): Here's what he's got:

UPPERDATE (15:02 EDT): The Drudge report (ha!) is still below, but MSNBC says the CIA can't authenticate the tape, which they are considering a low risk.

Just as long as they don't call it a 'slam dunk.'



"In the last week before the election, ABCNEWS is holding a videotaped message from a purported al Qaeda terrorist warning of a new attack on America, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

"The terrorist claims on tape the next attack will dwarf 9/11. "The streets will run with blood," and "America will mourn in silence" because they will be unable to count the number of the dead. Further claims: America has brought this on itself for electing George Bush who has made war on Islam by destroying the Taliban and making war on Al Qaeda.

"ABCNEWS strongly denies holding the tape back from broadcast over political concerns during the last days of the election.

"The CIA is analyzing the tape, a top federal source tells the DRUDGE REPORT.

"ABCNEWS obtained the tape from a source in Waziristan, Pakistan over the weekend, sources tells DRUDGE.

"'We have been working 24 hours a day trying to authenticate [the tape],' a senior ABCNEWS source said Wednesday morning.

"The terrorist's face is concealed by a head dress, and he speaks in an American accent, making it difficult to identify the individual.

"US intelligence officials believe the man on tape may be Adam Gadhan - aka Adam Pearlman, a California native who was highlighted by the FBI in May as an individual most likely to be involved in or have knowledge of the next al Qaeda attacks.

"According to the FBI, Gadahn, 25, attended al-Qaida training camps and served as an al-Qaida translator.

"The disturbing tape runs an hour -- the man simply identifies himself as 'Assam the American.'"

Posted by David Mader at 12:48 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Mid-Day Poll Wrap

Rasmussen spells boing with a 49-47% tracking poll lead for Bush. (It's 50-48% with leaners). Recall that just two days ago Kerry led 48-46%, meaning the president has put in two days of very strong numbers.¹

But the big news from Rasmussen is that late-deciding voters are breaking for the president. Voters who've made up their mind in the past month favor Bush by 57-38%.

¹ A three-day tracking poll or 'roller,' as I call it, works like this: the pollster polls a group of people every night (Rasmussen polls 1,000 likely voters). After three days, the pollster aggregates the three one-day results and releases the numbers. Any day's poll, therefore, in fact represents a trend of voter preference over a three-day period. Rasmussen reported on Monday that Kerry, who held a two-point lead, had led in each of the three one-day polls reflected in Monday's numbers. Yesterday, the president was tied with Kerry; that means his Monday numbers must have been good enough to offset the previous two days of pro-Kerry numbers. Today, the president is up two points; his numbers must have at the least been better than the last day of pro-Kerry numbers, although they may not have been as strong as Monday's pro-Bush numbers. In short, though, today's poll represents one day of pro-Kerry numbers and two days of pro-Bush numbers, and those pro-Bush numbers have been strong enough to allow the president to reverse a two-point margin.

Posted by David Mader at 12:26 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Vote Bush

I haven't issued an endorsement, for one reason or another, but in place I'm going to direct you to Lileks, who today responds to Andrew Sullivan's endorsement of John Kerry. There are some key 'graphs, but I don't want to spoil it for you. Scroll down to "But in wartime" and read away.

Posted by David Mader at 12:04 PM | (4) | Back to Main

End of the Jewish Vote

Here's an interesting column from the Washington Post, suggesting that next week's election will mark the end of the 'Jewish vote' as a uniform bloc. It gives some useful context to the current debate within the Jewish community over politics. Specifically:

Orthodox Jews are far more likely to vote on Israel than other Jews. According to a recent American Jewish Committee survey, 74 percent of Orthodox Jews feel "very close" to Israel, compared with only 31 percent of Jews overall.
I'm actually shocked by that latter number, but it would certainly explain why the overwhelming evidence that Bush is and would be a better friend to Israel than Kerry has failed to sway more American Jews.

I do wonder, though, whether this will lead to the clear religious/secular split the author suggests. Specifically, I wonder what impact the 'Birthright' program will have on that 31% number. Many young Americans are returning from Israel with a newfound sense of connection to the land. Some of them, I suppose, will become 'religious' rather than 'secular,' and so will contribute to the inevitable rise of 'religious' Judaism as the normative expression of Judaism in America. But many, I suspect, will not, and for those the connection with Israel will become a defining aspect of Jewish identity. And absent faith or a connenction with Israel, I don't see what will ensure the continuity of 'secular' Jewish identity.

As a final aside, keep an eye on the returns from New Jersey and the Boroughs (especially Brooklyn) of New York, where the orthodox Jewish community is concentrated. Religious Jews don't have the numbers to sway a state like Jersey, but the support of large communities there may at least help to explain why Bush is as close to Kerry as he is.

Posted by David Mader at 11:44 AM | (1) | Back to Main

Morning Poll Wrap

Hey, it's actually morning this time.

RealClearPolitics only shows one national poll this morning, the Zogby tracking poll which puts Bush up one point, 48-47%. As the RCP Average chart shows, Kerry has been closing the gap for the past three or four days, which means my earlier prediction that Bush would increase his lead was, uh, wrong.

On the other hand, a Quinnipac poll shows New Jersey to be a tie at 46%, which it shouldn't be.

That's your morning wrap; more as it comes.

Posted by David Mader at 11:26 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Two More Notes on Al Qa Qaaa

First: Andrew Sullivan suggests that the weapons site wasn't secured because there weren't enough boots on the ground. I'm sure this is true in some sense; but it smacks of Monday-morning quarterbacking. Recall that Turkey's eleventh-hour refusal to allow thoroughfare forced the coalition to radically alter its invasion plans. And keep in mind that Iraq was littered with sensitive sites requiring supervision. How many more troops would have been required to secure them all while combat with Saddamite forces continued? And does anyone really believe that if it weren't a weapons site it would be something else - say, oh, a museum - that the coalition was accused of failing to secure? Furthermore, if the problem is indeed that nefarious elements capitalized on the chaos of war to remove dangerous materials, wasn't that problem exacerbated by the year-long process of stick-shaking, coalition-building and UN-coddling? And if so, isn't the proper lesson here to simply skip the UN next time and attack without warning? But somehow I don't think that's what Sullivan and friends are arguing.

Second: The domestic scandal here is the use of the story by the main-stream media. CBS originally hoped to break the weapons story this coming weekend, only two days before the election. The New York Times beat them to the punch by almost a week. Yes, it appears that this information is, in some degree, newly released (or leaked). But the Times story contained no mention of the possibility that the weapons had been removed by the time American forces arrived at the site. How confident are you that CBS, given five more days, would have added that caveat? On the other hand, how confident are you that CBS hoped its late-breaking story would influence the election - if not for partisan motives, then simply to trumpet the network's importance in American life? I'm not saying this sort of behavior is illegal or unprecedented. I'm simply saying that it once again demonstrates that the mainstream media serves itself, and only itself; it's 'service' to the public is incidental and secondary at best.

Posted by David Mader at 11:22 AM | (2) | Back to Main

Al Qa Qaaa

I didn't comment on the 'missing' Iraqi weapons story when it broke, and while I didn't have any particular reason, I came to think that at least in part I'd refrained because it sounded bad for the President. When the news began to turn around, therefore, I held my tongue.

Please forgive the partisanship, therefore, in my pointing you towards this post by Michael Totten over at Instapundit, which suggests that the story has fewer legs every day.

For those who haven't been following: On Sunday, the New York Times 'broke' a story that hundreds of pounds of explosives had gone missing from a depot in Iraq. The inference was that Administration mismanagement had allowed some bad guys to steal some bad stuff. The Kerry campaign immediately jumped on the story as evidence of the President's unfitness for office.

The next day, a number of news organizations noted that their reporters had been embedded with the 101st Airborne division, which arrived at the site on April 10, 2003, and that at the time they found were no major stockpiles of explosives. The White House immediately cited these reports as evidence that the explosives (which were conclusively at the site in January, 2003) had been removed by the start of the invasion. Administration critics countered by pointing out that The 101st was not the first division to reach the site; specifically, the 3rd Infantry Division had been at Al Qa Qaa on April 3, 2003, raising the possibility that the explosives had been removed sometime over the week between visits.

Today, Totten points out in the link above that contemporaneous media reports suggest that the 3ID conducted thorough searches of the compound when it arrived on April 3. That doesn't conclusively demonstrate that the major stockpiles of explosives had been removed, but it casts doubt on the theory that the 3ID dropped the ball and allowed a major effort at removal to take place between April 3 and April 10.

Posted by David Mader at 11:07 AM | (0) | Back to Main

October 26, 2004

Is It Just Me...

... or is this sort of thing always happening in Taiwan?

Posted by David Mader at 11:42 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Evening Poll Wrap

Something for everyone, it seems. While this morning's Rasmussen roller showed a Bush bump, this evenings ABC/WaPo tracking poll has Kerry up one from yesterday, leading Bush 50-48%.

At the state level, pretty much every swing state has contrary numbers. For what it's worth, both Rasmussen and Zogby have Bush up in Ohio. (Zogby also has Bush up in Florida, but down in Wisconsin).

Lots of bouncing, and I'm really starting to wonder whether we're seeing a late-day Kerry bump in the popular vote. But it's impossible to tell, really, and very difficult to see whether or how it will impact on the Electoral College, which continues to favor Bush.

AND THERE'S THIS: Nine percent of likely voters have already voted. ABC finds them preferring Bush over Kerry by four points, 51%-47%.

That's not a firm poll, but it suggests one of two things: either Bush is doing well among undecideds, or the GOP is running a better ground game. As my brother pointed out during the Canadian election, early voters are money in the bank for the candidates. They allow party organizations to use election day to get out the swing vote. This looks like good news for Bush.

Posted by David Mader at 07:33 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Knesset OK's Gaza Plan

Sounds like good news:

The vote was 67-45, with seven abstentions, and marked a complete break from Sharon's long career as a champion of the settler movement [*cough*Nixon*cough*China*cough*cough*].

The parliament has 120 members, but one legislator was absent due to illness.

Sharon won with the help of dovish opposition parties. Many members of his center-right coalition, as well as religious opposition parties, voted against him.

I don't want to say that I told you so on February 2, 2004, but I did.

MORE (15:52 EDT): Here's the Ha'aretz account, which has a little more inside baseball. Nice to see that a majority of Likud MKs voted for the plan nothwithstanding the party's popular vote against. Notice that the United Arab List MKs voted for. The opposition seems mainly to be among the various religious parties.

Posted by David Mader at 03:37 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Mid-Day Poll Wrap

It's mid-day where I am.

Rasmussen, who yesterday had Kerry up by two, now has the candidates tied (at 48 without leaners, 49 with). Rasmussen is a three-day roller, and Kerry had lead each day leading up to yesterday's poll, which means Bush was leading -and by a substantial margin - in Monday polling. I think yesterday's Kerry lead reflected weekend numbers, which are often said to favor Democrats. The election, as an aside, is on a Tuesday - although most folks I know have already voted.

Not much change on the state level. Bush still leads by slim margins in states Kerry's going to need to win (Wisconsin, for instance); just winning Ohio won't do it for the Democrat. But again, the margins are slim.

What effect will two 'October surprise' stories - the Chief's cancer and the 'missing' weapons - have on the election? I'm guessing not all that much, although it'll be very hard to measure. As I mentioned, most folks I know have already voted, and I expect the pre-poll numbers to be through the roof this year. I don't see the Court becoming a major issue in this election, and the zeal with which the MSM jumped on the Iraq weapons story demonstrates where this election really is. As for that story, it does have the potential to do damage, notwithstanding the fact that there's no there there.

My prediction - increasing Bush margin in the pop-vote over the next two days. In the states - slow but steady increase for the GOP.

Posted by David Mader at 01:24 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Brace Yourselves

... and read this angry missive on continued Jewish support for the Democratic Party. I think we'll begin to see a trend towards the GOP this election, and in any case the realities of assimilation mean that the future American Jewish community will be both more religious and more politically conservative that today's; still, the unquestioning antipathy towards the GOP among mainstream American Jews can be frustrating.

Posted by David Mader at 12:50 PM | (0) | Back to Main

October 25, 2004

That Is the Answer

Ann Althouse, guestblogging at Instapundit, complains that the President failed to answer a question on FNC's Hannity & Colmes:

[Hannity:] If John Kerry were President, would he make this country more vulnerable, more susceptible to terror attacks?

[Bush:] That's ultimately the decision that the people are going to have to decide in this campaign.
That's an answer, and a pretty clear answer, as I read it. Bush a) suggests that it is a question worth asking, indeed a question fundamental to the upcoming election, and b) suggests that a vote for him is tantamount to an affirmative answer to the question. In other words, Bush supporters believe that a Kerry victory would make the country more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

And presumably Bush supports his own re-election bid.

Posted by David Mader at 11:30 PM | (3) | Back to Main


Who says there's no honesty in government?

Posted by David Mader at 05:55 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Poll Wrap, Afternoon Edition

Hey, I told you there would be an update. Here it is: the WaPo tracking poll, like Rasmussen a three-day roller, has Kerry up 49-48%. At the least, we know that these three-day rolling polls are consistent.

But compare those to Gallup's six point spread for Bush. Both could be right, I suppose - but if so, we'd expect to see the Kerry's lead in the tracking polls diminish in the coming days.

Posted by David Mader at 05:49 PM | (1) | Back to Main

My Election Bet

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the incumbent is going to win. Hey, you have to be bold every now and again.

Posted by David Mader at 03:57 PM | (4) | Back to Main

Must Have Missed That

Andrew Sullivan: "[Bush] is far closer to the evil of the death penalty than Kerry is to the evil of abortion."

When did we collectively come to the decision that a) abortion is universally evil and b) the death penalty is too? I'm not just suggesting that there are probably a very few people who hold absolutely by both propositions; I'm also suggesting that I don't see why one position necessarily logically demands the other. Anybody want to make the case for me?

Posted by David Mader at 03:52 PM | (2) | Back to Main

Poll Wrap, Morning Edition

I know, I know, it's not morning - not even where I am. But it's as likely as not that I'll supplement, so there you go.

Anyway, noteworthy on the poll scene today is Rasmussen's tracking poll, which now shows Kerry up 48-46%. The poll is a three-day roller, and Kerry has led in each of the past the days. Couldn't tell you why, and Rasmussen's findings are at odds with, well, pretty much everybody else's. Still, take note.

Also take note of the trend-line over at the Iowa Electronics Market, which shows Bush trending towards a pop-vote victory. I'm cautiously but increasingly optimistic of a Bush win next week, and with a week to go I'd expect the IEM Bush line to spike. Keep an eye on that.

Finally, Zogby has the president up by five in Ohio and three in Florida. Electoral-Vote.Com graphically represents the consequence of those numbers: a Bush EC margin of 285-247.

Posted by David Mader at 02:56 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Still More Proof

... that Krauthammer was right: Michale Totten notes that Richard Holbrooke, John Kerry's foreign policy advisor, says a President Kerry would "reach out to the moderate Arab states. He'd put more pressure on Israel, Syria, Saudi Arabia above all."

I'm not sure exactly what this means. The plain language meaning is that Kerry would reach out to moderate arab states by putting pressure on Israel - but the subsequent listing of Syria and Saudi Arabia doesn't make sense. Nor does the principle latent meaning - that Kerry would reach out to moderate Arab states by putting pressure on immoderate Arab states - since Israeli isn't an Arab state, moderate or otherwise. My best guess is that Holbrooke means to say that Kerry will reach out to moderate Arab states by applying an even pressure to Syria, Saudi Arabia [being immoderate Arab states] and Israel [being a Jewish state]. Holbrooke establishes 'moderate Arab states' as the standard, and presents immoderate Arab states and a Jewish state as the outliers on either side.

Just something to keep in mind.

[Via - oddly - Instapundit, where Totten and Ann Althouse are guest-blogging while Prof. Reynolds is away]

Posted by David Mader at 02:37 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Wolf Packs for Truth. Not as good as Football Fans for Truth, but funny nonetheless. "They told us we were shooting a Greenpeace commercial!"

[Via Volokh]

Posted by David Mader at 12:04 PM | (0) | Back to Main

October 24, 2004

Who's Sorry Now?

The author of a column calling for the assassination of President Bush (see here) has issued a classic example of the modern non-apology:

Charlie Brooker apologises for any offence caused by his comments relating to President Bush in his TV column, Screen Burn. The views expressed in this column are not those of the Guardian. Although flippant and tasteless, his closing comments were intended as an ironic joke, not as a call to action - an intention he believed regular readers of his humorous column would understand. He deplores violence of any kind.

Notice what Brooker doesn't apologize for - he doesn't apologize for writing the comment; he only apologizes for the 'offense' some took. In other words, he's not sorry for what he wrote; he's sorry that you didn't like it. The fault is not his; it's yours. The comment was "intended as an ironic joke," and he's sorry that you didn't get it.

Yet another symptom of the modern refusal to take responsibility.

[Via Instapundit]

Posted by David Mader at 05:56 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Michigan: No Mistake

New York Daily News columnist Zev Chafets says that recent polls showing Michigan evenly split between Kerry and Bush aren't outliers:

In 2000, Al Gore carried the Wolverine State by more than 200,000 votes. This year's conventional wisdom has conceded it to John Kerry. Two weeks ago, Democratic operatives began telling reporters that Michigan was in the bag.

They were wrong. Last Thursday, a poll in the Detroit News put President Bush ahead in Michigan by 4 points. A Knight-Ridder survey showed the race is a virtual tie.

This came as a shock to the Kerry camp, which has concentrated its efforts on other Big Ten industrial states. Kerry could win both Ohio and Pennsylvania and still lose the election. If he loses Michigan.

Chafets highlights two important factors: the opposition of many African-American voters to gay marriage, and the general lack of enthusiasm among traditionally-Democratic constituencies for John Kerry.

This has got to be making the Kerry people nervous. After all, if Michigan really is in play, then mightn't Hawaii be as well?

Posted by David Mader at 05:07 PM | (0) | Back to Main

There's Your Proof

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman provides grist for Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer's mill:

Now you find a steadily rising perception across the Arab-Muslim world that the great enemy of Islam is JIA - "Jews, Israel and America," all lumped together in a single threat.

This wider trend has been fanned by Arab satellite TV stations, which deliberately show split-screen images of Israelis bashing Palestinians and U.S. forces bashing the Iraqi insurgents. The trend has also been encouraged by some mosque preachers looking to explain away all the Arab world's ills by wrapping all the Satans together into JIA. This trend has been helped by the Bush team's failed approach to the Arab-Israel problem, which is to tell the truth only to Yasir Arafat, while embracing Ariel Sharon so tightly that it's impossible to know anymore where U.S. policy stops and Mr. Sharon's begins.

Krauthammer, recall, had written just last week:

In what currency, therefore, would we pay the rest of the world in exchange for their support in places such as Iraq? The answer is obvious: giving in to them on Israel.
Ever since Friedman came back from Saudi Arabia claiming to have personally developed a plan to solve to Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I haven't been particularly interested in what he has to say, and this column isn't challenging my attitude. From his 'discovery' that anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism are one phenomenon (and the fault of the Jews, Israelis and Americans, no less) and that Iraqis call Americans 'Jews' - a fact Maderblog readers learned on April 4, 2004 - to his comparison of Jewish 'settlers' and the Hizbullah terrorist organization, Friedman demonstrates the very attititudes which Krauthammer warns will predominate in a Kerry administration. And given Friedman's status as the leading international-affairs columnist at the nation's leading liberal newspaper, Krauthammer's warning is probably correct.

Posted by David Mader at 02:13 PM | (1) | Back to Main

You Don't Say

AP: Saddam Abused Oil-For-Food Program.

What would we do without the AP? Although at least this story is finally breaking beyond the Wall Street Journal.

Posted by David Mader at 03:36 AM | (0) | Back to Main

October 23, 2004

Now Hawaii

The Honolulu Advertiser has Bush and Kerry tied at 43% in the state. The perennially safely Democratic state. Maybe, like the Detroit News, they're out in left field. Or maybe, like the Detroit News, they're picking up on a trend nobody's yet noticed. Unlikely, I'd say, but I'm marking it just in case.

Posted by David Mader at 08:44 PM | (3) | Back to Main

October 22, 2004

Poll Wrap: Addendum

Two items of note, each good news for one of the candidates.

First, both the Iowa Elections Market and RealClearPolitics show a tightening of the race (although note that ABC/Washington Post, Newsweek and Rasmussen all have the race at about 50/46 Bush).

On the other hand, RealClearPolitics also tracks a bump in the president's job approval, which had been pushing the mid-forties earlier this week. A recent slate of polls brings it up to, or just over, the 50% line, which is where it's probably going to have to be for reelection.

Posted by David Mader at 07:03 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Israel and the Election

Charles Krauthammer thinks he knows just what Kerry plans to sacrifice in return for the goodwill of the international community.

I think the Hammer is a little overheated, but fundamentally correct. Sympathy with Israel and hostility to the Palestinian Authority (as distinct from the Palestinian people) are simply not consistent with Kerry's supposed 'internationalism.' In fact, much of the criticism of the Bush administration to date has centered upon the President's willingness to give Israel a relatively free hand in responding to Palestinian (and, increasingly, Islamist) terror. This is seen widely, both without and within America, as unjust. And yet Israel is undoubtedly safer today than it was four years ago, and the products of its free hand - its campaign against Hamas and the construction of the wall - leave it closer to internal peace than at any time in recent memory.

John Kerry would not, I believe, sell Israel out. But his support would not be the same, ideologically or politically. That's terribly important. here's why:

Increasingly concerned about Iran's nuclear program, Israel is weighing its options and has not ruled out a military strike to prevent the Islamic Republic from gaining the capability to build atomic weapons, according to policymakers, military officials, analysts and diplomats...

"Nuclear weapons in a country with a fundamentalist regime, a government with which we have no diplomatic contact, a known sponsor of terrorist groups like Hezbollah and which wants to wipe Israel off the map — that makes stable deterrence extremely difficult, if not impossible," [analyst Gerald] Steinberg said.

Someone recently asked me, upon learning that I was Jewish, whether I was a Zionist. Her definition of 'Zionism' was slightly un-traditional, but I think the question is representative of something we all should remember: support for the existence of the State of Israel is not universal, and it is not to be assumed. I don't believe, as I said before, that John Kerry would permit - or be able to permit - a fatal weakening of the American-Israeli alliance. But I think it's fair to say that he isn't committed to it in the same way that President Bush is. In today's world, that's a considerable difference.

Posted by David Mader at 04:55 PM | (0) | Back to Main


"From that far away they can't even hit me?"

Posted by David Mader at 04:25 PM | (3) | Back to Main

Eminem: Smarter Than You Think?

Believe it or not, I find this profanity-laced back-and-forth to be more thoughtful than much of what we often hear from Bush critics, especially celebrities. I don't agree with him, of course. But I'm impressed that he premises his comments with: "America is the best country there is, the best country to live in." I'm glad he knows it.

Posted by David Mader at 04:23 PM | (2) | Back to Main

Poll Wrap

Not very much to report today. Bush maintains his 3-4% lead in national polls. The EC continues to swing back and forth, with Ohio and Florida switching Bush/Kerry to Kerry/Bush in recent polls. Interestingly, the Detroit News stubbornly insists that Bush leads 46-43% in Michiganl I poo-pooed the idea yesterday. I continue to think it unlikely, but maybe they're picking up on a trend that no-one else has yet noticed. As some have pointed out, nobody called the 2002 midterms right.

Anyway, that's all I've got today. I'm beat, and there aren't any major developments. If you have something to add, hit up the comments.

Posted by David Mader at 02:35 PM | (0) | Back to Main

A Favor for an Ex-Pat

Can someone pick one of these up for me?

Posted by David Mader at 11:38 AM | (4) | Back to Main

October 21, 2004

So Much Reason, So Little Sense

Reason Magazine has published a poll of the voting intentions - and history - of various prominent libertarian and libertarian-leaning personalities. Have a look.

I don't want to get all self-righteous, but as a non-citizen who desperately wishes he could vote, I'm almost disgusted by many of these responses. I don't really care how these folks intend to vote; what I can't stand is the attitude reflected in the 'who cares, it's all the same' responses. Even worse are those folks who 'can't remember' who they voted for in 2000. Can't remember? You were voting for the President of the United States! I know, I know, good libertarians are aghast at the size of the federal government, see it as an abomination, etc, etc. But folks who ostensibly appreciate the threat posed by massive government power should be the first to the voting booth. As Rick Mercer pointed out prior to the Canadian election, when it comes to running a country the lesser of two evils is really, really important.

I'm also struck by a) the fact that not a one of those who plan to vote for Kerry mentioned or otherwise indicated an appreciation for the fact that we're fighting a war on terrorism right now; and b) the number of people who cited Jefferson as their favorite president. Jefferson believed in perpetual revolution. Just a thought.

Posted by David Mader at 06:44 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Parties, Polarization and Polls

Bush backers looking for some good news will enjoy this column by Michael Barone, which anticipates a comfortable Bush victory. All politics nerds, though, should have a look at Barone's closing thoughts:

I have a theory—I can't prove it; it's just a theory—that in these polarizing times there are low ceilings on both of our political parties. Both are unacceptable to near majorities of the voters. My theory is that the ceiling on the Democrats is about 51 or 52 percent and the ceiling on the Republicans is a little higher, about 53 or 54 percent.
Click through that second link to see his reasoning. It's an interesting theory.

Here's my interesting theory: it would be easier for the Democrats to raise their ceiling than for the Republicans, but both parties would have to break with a core constituency to gain ground. The Democrats would have to give up Michael-Moore radical leftism and embrace a commonsensical, Joe-Lieberman-esque approach to win over the American middle. The Republicans would have to figure out a way to moderate or split with the religious right - which just isn't going to happen.

If the Democrats lose in November, they'll have yet another opportunity to change course. If the GOP loses, I can see both the further entrenchment of the loony left in a ruling Democratic Party and a refusal of the religious right to give ground to moderate Republicans.

Yea, I just said a GOP victory would be better and less polarizing for the country. Didn't mean to, but it came out, and I'm actually pretty impressed by my little theory there. Comments?

[Barone story via Hugh Hewitt]

Posted by David Mader at 04:00 PM | (4) | Back to Main

A Lady With Class

I don't know which is more damaging: Theresa Heinz-Kerry's 'no real job' remark or the First Lady's reaction:

"She apologized but she didn't even really need to apologize," Mrs. Bush told reporters at a coffee shop before attending a rally for President Bush. "I know how tough it is and actually I know those trick questions."
Ouch. Many good folks will have seen Heinz-Kerry's remark as simply not a nice thing to say. Those same good folks will see Bush's response as gracious and polite. That - like Ashley's Story and the Mary Cheney flap - all play into that intangible 'nice' factor that I've been talking about for months.

Of course, the 'nice' candidate didn't end up winning back then, so it may not batter. But with swing voters, I wouldn't dismiss the theory.

Oh, and one more reason I love Bush's reaction: it says to Heinz-Kerry (and to the rest of us), 'Here's how you be a First Lady. How's that for a real job?'

Posted by David Mader at 03:39 PM | (2) | Back to Main

Poll Wrap

Not much new to report today. For laughs check out the Detroit News, which has Bush up four points in Michigan. Uh-huh. And he's leading in D.C. too, right? Apparently this is the twentieth time out of twenty, cuz it just ain't right.

Bush maintains his national lead of somewhere between two and four points, and seems to be strengthening a little - from 47-48% earlier in the week to 48-49% now. That's a good trend, and he'll hope it continues.

The Electoral College remains somewhat sticky, but Rasmussen has moved Colorado back into the Bush column. The ballot initiative to split the state's EC votes is also faltering, I believe.

That's more or less it. The swing states remain swingy, and many of the states where Kerry's shown strenght over the past week are now showing contradictory results - Hampshire, for instance. Either we're in yet another period of movement or the polls are hopelessly snowy.

Posted by David Mader at 03:32 PM | (0) | Back to Main


So apparently John Fund didn't make it to the conference he was supposed to attend last night, and didn't check into his hotel. The Federalist Society folks can't find him. Hope he's okay; maybe somebody should tell James.

Posted by David Mader at 03:24 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Class All Morning

Until 3:30 eastern, actually. More later, including a report on what John Fund has to say here at the law school at lunch.

Posted by David Mader at 12:41 PM | (0) | Back to Main

October 20, 2004

Kerry's Conservative Court

What if John Kerry wins the election and the Supreme Court legalizes medical marijuana?

Here's what I mean: The U.S. Supreme Court is now said, by many legal scholars, to be in the midst of a 'conservative revolution.' Quite aside from the question of Roe v. Wade, the court has been moving towards certain limits on government activities for the first time since the New Deal. The question of 'Federalism' - in this context, whether Congress can exercise the Commerce Power in a manner that infringes upon State sovereignty - is said to hang in the balance of one judge; a Democratic president, it is presumed, will appoint liberal justices who will help reverse the recent 'federalist' jurisprudence.

On the other hand, the Supreme Court has come down with a number of decisions recently which many outside of the legal academy will undoubtedly see as rather liberal. The Michigan affirmative action case (539 U.S. 306), the virtual child porn case (535 U.S. 234) and Lawrence v. Texas, the sodomy case (539 U.S. 558), come to mind.

So what happens if the Supreme Court decides to uphold a California law allowing the medical use of marijuana? The question is presented in Ashcroft v. Raich, which the Court will hear this term. Could there be a backlash against the 'liberal' Supreme Court running roughshod over state designs in order to impose its own moral agenda? Could such a backlash translate, into a Republican supermajority in the Senate in 2006? Could it bring popular pressure to bear on a President Kerry not to nominate liberal justices when vacancies arise on the high court?

Now, none of this is likely to happen, because the Court almost certainly won't uphold the California law (or rather, it won't strike down the Federal law with which the California statute conflicts). All sorts of people have filed briefs in support of the California law, including, wonderfully, a group of 'liberal' states led by California and a group of 'conservative' states led by Alabama. A group of liberal and conservative constitutional scholars have also urged the court to allow the California law to stand.

But the basis of their arguments, almost across the board, is the aforementioned 'federalism' doctrine. To one degree or another, all the amici suggest that Congress ought not to have the power to regulate a state's internal medical marijuana regime. The problem is that the justices most sympathetic to legalization are also the most hostile to federalism, while the justices most sympathetic to federalism are also the most hostile to legalization.

The one possible exception, I think, is Justice Thomas, who has taken (in my opinion) the most intellectually consistent approach to federalism and the Commerce Power in the court's recent cases. In fact, the amicus brief by the Institute for Justice in favor of the California law might as well be addressed to Thomas. IJ, bless their hearts, ask the Court to overturn the understanding of the Commerce Power that has been in place since the New Deal. They're absolutely right, but there's only one justice on the Court who's receptive enought to that position to take a stand on it - Thomas. If the liberal justices manage to ok the California law on grounds other than federalism, and if Thomas joins with them for his own Commerce Clause reasons, we might well see the start of the 'liberal court' backlash I suggested above.

Hey, we can all dream.

UPDATE (00:51 EDT 10/21/04): The amicus briefs for Raich are available via the Volokh Conspiracy. I recommend the brief by the Institute for Justice, which offers a fairly readable overview of Commerce Clause jurisprudence (and why it should be reviewed); I'm working my way through the legal scholars' brief, which is much more dense and, surprise, academic.

Posted by David Mader at 07:38 PM | (4) | Back to Main

Poll Wrap

Former KausFiles correspondend 'Mystery Pollster' explains away the static in recent polls - particularly Ohio but nationally as well - by pointing out that the president's numbers have bounced around within a fairly tight range, while the Kerry and undecided numbers have fluctuated more widely. He suggests that most undecideds are in fact Kerry leaners who are simply not quite ready to pull the trigger, and I think that's probably a fair interpretation (explaining why the Bush numbers have stayed fairly consistent).

The president's main hope right now is that undecided voters will buck the trend and break for the incumbent. We're now less than two weeks from election day, in a cycle followed more closely by the electorate than any in recent memory. If voters still aren't ready to throw themselves behind Kerry, there may be reason to believe that ultimately, in the voting booth, they will choose continuity over change. The Bush campaign's final push on the theme of 'niceness' may help in this regard.

But, as I say, that's the president's main - and perhaps only - hope. I'm right now of two minds. On the one hand, I'm tempted to say that we've entered a period of indeciferable poll noise, and that we won't know how things stand until the second. But on the other hand, I look at the polls in front of me, showing slight but significant Kerry margins in most of the important swing states. It's no longer an up-hill battle in the electoral college - not by the numbers, at least. Bush's national bounce has not translated into state gains. The indicators point to a Kerry victory. I hope to be surprised in November, but I can't say I'm confident.

Posted by David Mader at 01:32 PM | (3) | Back to Main

October 19, 2004

'All He Wants To Do is Make Sure I'm Safe'

This is easily the most powerful ad I've seen this cycle. It also happens to be the biggest ad-buy of the cycle. Will it swing votes? I wouldn't bet against it.

[Via Instapundit]

Posted by David Mader at 06:20 PM | (7) | Back to Main

Getting Noticed

The AP profiles Canadian anti-Americanism. Worth a read, for an outsider perspective. Note the appearance by Carolyn Parrish.

Posted by David Mader at 03:19 PM | (0) | Back to Main

More Health-Care Blogging

Or, 'Ujjal Dosanjh is the Greatest Canadian Health Minister Ever':

"It is completely untenable to think that Canada could supply [American] needs and our own for even one month, let along on an ongoing basis," said Louise Binder of the Canadian Treatment Action Council and Best Medicines Coalition.

Binder said she has heard that in Winnipeg, Manitoba, there is a shortage of desperately needed cancer drugs that are readily available to American consumers through Internet pharmacies based in Canada.

But Canada's health department insists Americans don't pose a threat to the country's drug supply. For example, Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh said Monday he believes Canada has a surplus of vaccine that could be provided to the United States, though probably not enough to meet the U.S. demand.

Okay, Mr. Minister? See, here's the thing: Canada manufactures a flu vaccine. Canada does not manufacture the types of pharmaceutical drugs which Canadian seniors are now having trouble finding.

If you can't appreciate the difference, then for the love of your country, resign your damned portfolio.

Posted by David Mader at 03:03 PM | (0) | Back to Main


The Fraser Institute:

Waiting times have stalled at their peak levels of about 18 weeks, according to The Fraser Institute’s 14th annual survey, Waiting Your Turn: Hospital Waiting Lists in Canada, released today.

The total waiting time for patients between referral from a general practitioner and treatment, averaged across all 12 specialties and 10 provinces surveyed, increased slightly this year; rising to 17.9 weeks in 2004 (from 17.7 weeks in 2003)...

Among the provinces, Manitoba achieved the shortest total wait (14.8 weeks), while Ontario at 15.5 weeks lost its status as the province with the “best access,” a distinction that it had held since 2000. Alberta (17.8 weeks) had the third shortest waiting times for care. Saskatchewan has the longest total wait in 2004 (33.3 weeks). The next longest waits were found in Prince Edward Island (27.4 weeks), and New Brunswick (20.9 weeks).

This isn't a comparative post; I'm not saying that the American health-care system is better. I'm just saying that this seems pretty terrible, in the absolute.

Posted by David Mader at 12:33 PM | (2) | Back to Main


One of the most under-referenced 'poll' services, I think, is the Iowa Electronics Market Aggregate Probabilities Chart. That's probably because it's fairly hard to read. (No guarantees I'm reading it right myself).

Here's the chart right now:

The key to understanding this chart is that it represents the sum of probabilities in the market that either candidate will win. There's no tie to a specific price/vote-share; in other words, a Kerry value of 48¢ doesn't mean the market expects him to get 48% of the vote. It simply means the market expects him to lose. In this chart, the 50¢ line is key; a candidate above that line is expected to win; a candidate below that line is expected to lose. What's more - and here's the interesting bit - movements in the two lines indicate movements in expectation. So when the Kerry line moves up and the Bush line moves down, it means the market sees Kerry's prospects improving while Bush's prospects fall.

Read that way, the graph seems remarkably accurate. Remember that a slight majority of polled Americans consistently say they expect the President to be reelected. Through the summer, the graph bumps back and forth within a tight band between the two candidates, both of whom hew quite closely to the 50¢ line. After September 1 - the tail end of the Republican National Convention - the expectation that Bush would win shot way up. Note that the value of the Bush line pushed much higher than Bush ever actually reached in the polls; again, this is because the chart represents expectation, and in early September there was a widespread expectation that Bush would win.

The trend reverses in mid-September with the debates. The race tightened considerably, although Bush maintained a comfortable lead in the Electoral College, and that's reflected in the chart. Then, following the final debate, Bush caught some momentum; between the Mary Cheney mistake and the perception that Kerry failed to capitalize on his debate 'wins,' expectations in Kerry fell while expectations in Bush rose.

Watching the trends (not the trend-lines over the course of the graph but rather the trend of the lines at any given point) can therefore give you a pretty good idea, I think, of where the election is headed. And in the past couple of days, the trends have ticked away from Bush and towards Kerry. That's causing me to second-guess my comments yesterday. But more on that later.

BY THE WAY: For kicks, compare the graph above to Real Clear Politics' poll average graph.

Posted by David Mader at 11:45 AM | (1) | Back to Main

Sue the Short-Pants Off 'Em

In many an American jurisdiction, these runts would be 'concerted action' tortfeasors, even if the particular culprit is identified. (If not, they might all be 'alternative liability tortfeasors). The Restatement (Second) of Torts, §876 (a secondary source which has been widely incorporated into the common law by courts) holds that

For harm resulting to a third person from the tortious conduct of another, one is subject to liability if he

(a) does a tortious act in concert with the other or pursuant to a common design with him, or

(b) knows that the other's conduct constitutes a breach of duty and gives substantial assistance or encouragement to the other so to conduct himself, or

(c) gives substantial assistance to the other in accomplishing a tortious result and his own conduct, separately considered, constitutes a breach of duty to the third person.

Of course Canada has its own common-law tradition, and Quebec doesn't have a common-law tradition at all. But I'm halfway through my first term, which means exam preparations have begun. So expect more of this.

You've been warned.

Posted by David Mader at 02:10 AM | (0) | Back to Main

'Messianic Judaism'

Reader Matt Strauss calls me out for my heated assertions regarding 'Messianic Judaism' at the tail end of this post, which he (correctly, I think) finds at odds with my otherwise laissez-faire attitude. He writes:

I don't see why apologists of any faith trying to convince members of another faith of certain ideas with facts, arguments, reason and all those other good liberal things should be looked at any differently than Democrats trying to turn Republicans into Democrats or vice versa.

I agree. But I disagree with the proposition that 'Messianic Judaism' as a broadly defined movement (or tactic, rather) is akin to an open debate and discussion in an attempt to win over open minds.

I'll preface my further comments by noting that my knowledge of 'Messianic Judaism' comes almost entirely from counter-missionary groups which might have an interest in playing up certain distasteful practices among Christian missionary communities.

Nonetheless, I think it's important to recognize certain common practices which define 'Messianic Jewish' organizations. Such groups organize churches which they give Hebrew names, often with no indication in the name that they are in fact churches rather that synagogues; they often conduct services in Hebrew, relying in some part on standard Jewish liturgy and custom; and, most troubling, they present the worship which they direct as consistent with normative Judaism. (I think that's a fair representation, though the final point is both the most subjective and the most controversial; I invite discussion.)

But what I find most objectionable is the practice among 'Messianic Jewish' congregations of targeting recent Russian Jewish immigrants and inviting them to their churches to worship. This was a particular problem in the early- and mid-1990s, when thousands of Russian Jews left the former Soviet Union. Many had an awareness of their Jewish identity but no strong knowledge of Jewish practice or tradition. 'Messianic Jewish' organizations sought, in my opinion, not to engage these Russian Jews in a discussion of faith, but rather to fool them into believing that 'Messianic Jewish' worship was in fact a form of Judaism.

And here's the central point: the worship of Jesus as the Christ is fundamentally incompatible with Jewish faith. Period. Yes, I know that Christianity was established as a faith by Jews, and that early Christians considered themselves to be Jews. But there's a reason why everybody now acknowledges a distinction: observant Christians and Jews both came to recognize the central distinctions between their faiths, and, moreover, came to identify themselves by that distinction to a greater or lesser degree.

So I'll say it again: 'Messianic Judaism' is not Judaism. The very use of the word 'Judaism' in the name of the movement suggests very strongly that the essential purpose is not to engage in open discussion for the purposes of prostelyzation, but is rather to trick unwary Jews into professing a faith in Jesus while believing such a practice to be consistent with the Jewish religion.

I support the right of religious groups to proselytize, although as one who professes a faith which does not stress proselytization I find it unusual and unduly aggressive. I do not believe that the power of the state should be brought to bear on the 'Messianic Jewish' movement, because I believe that its practices and tactics are protected by our civil rights. But I also believe that such devious tactics are destructive of the very dialogue and discourse they are said to represent, and that ultimately the assault on Judaism inherent in their deception must lead to a bitter falling-out between Judaism and those who seek to undermine it.

Posted by David Mader at 01:33 AM | (1) | Back to Main

October 18, 2004

Presbyterian Church May Pressure Israel

Israel may tell Presbyterian Church to go [censored]:

The head of a visiting U.S. Presbyterian Church delegation called on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories and said Monday that his church is studying the possibility of withholding investments to increase pressure on Israel.

"The occupation by Israel in the West Bank and Gaza must end because it is oppressive and destructive for the Palestinian people," the Rev. Nile Harper said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Oh, so the Presbyterian Chuch must support Prime Minister Sharon's plan to withdraw from Gaza and most of the West Bank, right? Nope: "[Harper] criticized as "unhelpful" the barrier Israel is building in the West Bank to prevent Palestinian suicide bombings." Unhelpful unless your aim is to, you know, stop suicide bombings.

But stopping terrorism doesn't seem to be on the Presbyterian agenda: "The 24-member delegation traveled to Lebanon on Sunday and met with the south Lebanon commander of Hezbollah, a group Washington calls terrorist but Lebanon sees as a legitimate resistance movement against Israeli occupation of Arab lands." Trucking with terrorists, condemning the Middle East's only democracy but one; this is the public face of the American Presbyterian Church.

That's a shame. I have no place lecturing Presbyterians about their church, but as a sometime-historian I know that Presbyterianism was a motivating force in the creation of modern liberal democracy. I also suspect that most identifying American Presbyterians are as committed to freedom now as their Church, or rather their associations of presbyteries, ever was. It's entirely proper, if I may be so bold, that good Christians speak out against human rights abuses in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. But it seems to this non-Christian, who has tremendous sympathy for all men and women of faith, that sympathizing with terrorists while simultaneously condemning a democratic government (even as it enacts policies consistent with its critics' demands) touches on the limit of good Christian behavior.

But who am I to say.

BACKGROUND: Glenn Reynolds commented on this in July, when the Church's 216th General Assembly adopted a motion for divestment. It makes you wonder if this latest announcement isn't just headline-grabbing.

Here is the Presbyterian Church's Israel and Jewish Relations page. Note that along with the divestment resolution, the recent General Assembly "reject[ed] a proposal to suspend national-level funding for any further "messianic" new church developments until this form of evangelization can be evaluated in light of our understanding of Christian-Jewish relations." So called 'Messianic Judaism' is the one normative form of Christian worship with which I am totally at odds, and which I believe to be fundamentally inconsistent with the principle of peaceful coexistence. But that's for another post.

Posted by David Mader at 10:55 PM | (2) | Back to Main

RSS Feeds

A friend is looking for a good RSS-feed program or service, something to make blog browsing easier and less time-consuming. I know some of my readers use some kind of syndication service like BlogLines.com. Do y'all like it? Do you have a particular service you'd recommend or would stay away from? Please drop a comment or, if you'd prefer, e-mail mader-at-maderblog-dot-com. Thanks!

Posted by David Mader at 08:33 PM | (5) | Back to Main

Poll Round-Up

A couple of weeks ago, after the first debate, as Kerry drew even in the national polls, I noted that the Electoral College numbers seemed sticky; Bush maintained a comfortable lead in the College far longer than he maintained his lead in the popular polls.

It seems possible that we're seeing the reverse today. Eventually, and by the third debate, Kerry had drawn much closer in the Electoral College, making a very small number of swing states determinative. Since that final debate, however, the President has opened a small but significant lead over Kerry in the national polls; see Real Clear Politics for the round up. The Electoral Vote, however, remains tight; check out the latest from Electoral-Vote.Com which, like Rasmussen, now has Florida as a toss-up.

I'm not entirely sure why Electoral College numbers should be stickier than national numbers, especially given the fact that many pollsters are now doing regular (even daily) state tracking polls; still, we saw that phenomenon before, so we may well be seeing it again.

If not, we're looking at an incredibly tight race right now, with Bush barely up in Florida, Kerry barely up in Pennsylvania and Ohio too close to call. The disparity between national polls and EC tallies, however, and particularly the disparity between national polls and swing-state tallies, leads me to believe that we're in a period of state-poll flux, and that things will settle a little as the week progresses. Again, this is motivated simply by the lag-phenomenon we saw with Kerry's national and EC numbers in mid/late September.

Posted by David Mader at 07:32 PM | (2) | Back to Main


The AP has an interesting story [link now fixed] on proposed reforms to Britain's education system. It seems to me the panalopy of O-Levels, A-Levels, GCSE's and so on was reformed in some sense about a decade ago, but I can't be sure; when the Swiss Family Maderson was in London, we brothers two were schooled at ASL, the American school. (It explains a lot, doesn't it?)

In any case, I wonder whether anybody has thoughts on the proposed reforms. I was afraid at first glance that the changes would do away with the heavy streaming which the current system encourages, but the new 4-tier diploma setup seems to maintain a fair degree of specialization (certainly more than in North America).

On the other hand, I continue to question the fetish for longer and longer school tenures. I recognize, on the one hand, the economic gains associated with increased schooling; on the other hand, I strongly believe that we as a society have developed expectations for education in a whole slew of occupations that simply don't require it. Does one really need to be in high-school until 18 or 19 in order to drive a truck? And let's do away with the condescending pity for lower-skilled labor; more Canadians self-identified as truck drivers, if my memory serves, than any other single occupation in a poll a couple of years back. Certainly we want every worker to be educated in his field, so that he is more efficient and (so) productive than his competitors. But is a high-school diploma really the best way to achieve this type of education? Even given a broad streaming setup? Or mightn't a modified apprenticeship arrangement, in which individuals began to specialize in a trade at 14 or 15, be better suited?

I certainly am not convinced of the argument I make, but I'd be interested in a discussion.

Posted by David Mader at 04:33 PM | (2) | Back to Main


The Telegraph: "The French are fond of constitutions: that is why they have had so many over the years." Ouch.

Posted by David Mader at 04:17 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Magic 87

The KE'04 campaign has put out a new ad calling the Iraq war a 'mess' based on the fact that there are, on average, 87 attacks a day against coalition troops.

The ad may well be effective. But is it really a good idea for the Kerry campaign to put out an ad - any ad - that prominently features the number 87?

Posted by David Mader at 12:32 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Truth and Political Opportunity

I caught a very interesting panel discussion on Friday afternoon hosted by the local chapter of the American Constitution Society. The panel addressed judical aspects of the upcoming election. One of the most interesting comments came from UT's ConLaw Professor Sanford Levinson, an unabashed liberal Democrat who said that he almost hoped to see Roe overturned if only to deny the GOP its most effective base-consolidating issue. Many on the right, he suggested, were secretly happy with the Roe status quo, because it neatly framed the debate such that the GOP can quite easily win the allegiance of a broad segment of the electorate without the immediate necessity of turning protest into legislation.

I bring this up in response to the discussion following this post on the Ontario government's decision to ban pitbull dogs. The discussion turned to gun-control, and participants on both sides of the issue were quite surprised to discover, I think, that not only hand-guns but what we commonly think of as 'assault rifles' are not in fact banned in Canada, but only restricted.

This seems almost incredible. Both the ruling Liberal government and the opposition Conservative Party - and their intellectual supporters - imply through their rhetoric that handguns, at the least, are banned in Canada. Liberals tend to see this as a good thing (in contrast with those crazy Americans) while (real red-meat) Conservatives see it as a problematic thing (mostly because of the potential impact on long-guns and other firearms, admittedly).

Is it possible that both camps have an interest in perpetuating an inaccurate understanding of the state of Canada's gun laws? Seems reasonable to me; Liberals get to present a 'progressive' face while Conservatives get to exploit the issue to rally the base. Who stands to gain more by presenting the truth to Canadians? Or do both camps simply stand to lose?

Posted by David Mader at 01:57 AM | (0) | Back to Main

October 17, 2004

The Calendar Says 10/17...

... but it's 87 degrees in Austin today. That's 30°C. I'm just saying.

Posted by David Mader at 04:09 PM | (2) | Back to Main

What He Said

My buddy Matt at Living in a Society makes the case for second-amendment rights:

When the government outlaws the ability of citizens to enjoy particular types of property under the justification that said property has the potential to cause harm, we're continuing down a dangerous road. In a free society laws should be passed against actions that cause harm. Owning a gun does not automatically result in the murder of children. Rekless gun owners are the cause of harm. Legislating against these firearms is an assault on rights of property ownership, shows a fundamental distrust in the citizens of our country, and worst of all is only a reactionary response to media fearmongering and misplaced public outrage.
I agree. Oh, wait - Matt's not talking about guns. He's talking about pitbulls.

I still agree, of course. But I'm interested to hear the justification for the different standard.

In any case, Matt makes a wonderful case for individual rights and property ownership, once again confirming his position as my favorite social democrat. Way to go, Matt!

Um, unless you were being sarcastic.

Posted by David Mader at 01:57 PM | (8) | Back to Main

October 16, 2004

Forced to Face the Demons

M. Simon has an interesting take on the Mary Cheney brouhaha, and one that I haven't seen elsewhere:

So let me say it out loud. Most of the gay hatred in the country comes from the right. This is a fact. The DOMA is all about catering to that hatred. Or should it be cratering?

OK? We all know this. Why hide?

Kerry did what he did because he thought it might peel some Bush supporters. Thank you Senator for forcing the right to face its own prejudices. The rule is: lose your prejudice or lose.

I think that's probably fair. There's no denying that much of the outrage on the right is now coming from those who fear an anti-gay backlash on the second. I just hope that doesn't obscure what I believe is the very real and entirely legitimate repugnance that many feel for reasons entirely unrelated to Ms Cheney's sexuality.

Posted by David Mader at 09:38 PM | (0) | Back to Main

October 15, 2004

Kerry's Gaffe

My take on Kerry's Mary Cheney comment seems to be supported by this Washington Post poll showing widespread discomfort with the Democratic candidate's debate remark: "Nearly two in three likely voters -- 64 percent -- said Kerry's comment was "inappropriate," including more than four in 10 of his own supporters and half of all swing voters. A third -- 33 percent -- thought the remark was appropriate." Maybe he'll blame his advisors.

Posted by David Mader at 07:37 PM | (1) | Back to Main

The Wonders of Socialized Medicine

Dan brings to my attention the latest Mark Steyn column from the Western Standard:

Socialized health care redefines the relationship between the citizen and the state. Even if it worked – even if it wasn’t a decrepit, SARS-spreading sinkhole – it would still be bad in its softening effect on the citizenry.

But, of course, it doesn’t work. In April this year, Gérald Augustin of Rivière-des-Prairies, Quebec went to the St. André medical clinic complaining of stomach pain. He’d forgotten to bring his Medicare card, so they turned him away. He went back home, collapsed of acute appendicitis, and by the time the ambulance arrived he was dead. He was 21 years old, and he didn’t make it to 22 because he accepted the right of a government bureaucrat to refuse him medical treatment for which he and his family have been confiscatorily taxed all their lives. Clinic director Rouslene Augustin says it’s the policy to refuse all patients who don’t have their cards with them. No big deal, he wasn’t anything special, no-one in her clinic even remembers giving him the brush.

I can't find anything on Google News, but I pulled the following from Nexis:

A 21-year-old man died of appendicitis after he was refused treatment at an emergency clinic because he didn't have his provincial health card with him.

Gerald Augustin complained of stomach pains on Thursday but the receptionist at the St-Andre medical centre told him he had to go home to get his health card. He didn't make it back to the clinic in Montreal's east end.

About four hours later, a friend alerted police and called an ambulance for the man, who had a fatal attack of appendicitis in his apartment. He was pronounced dead in hospital.

Rouslene Augustin, administrator at the St-Andre clinic, said the man had not appeared to have any urgent symptoms when he arrived there.

"If this guy was an emergency case, we would accept him if he had his card or not," she told CTV affiliate CFCF. "I don't see what we did wrong. I'm not defending the clinic, we just followed the rules."

Health department spokesperson Dr. Marc Giroux said clinics are obligated to provide service for emergencies even if no medicare card was produced.

In non-emergency situations, patients must provide payment upfront and are later reimbursed by the provincial health insurance board. (Toronto Star, April 24, 2004, page A23)

One of the reasons Canadians are so susceptible to demagoguery regarding 'American-style health-care' is the near-universal belief that American health-care resembles some John Q dystopia where patients without health insurance are refused treatment. But that's just not true.

The most revealing passage in the Star story is the final sentence: "In non-emergency situations, patients must provide payment upfront and are later reimbursed by the provincial health insurance board." The same general principle is true here, but the Canadian interpretation of 'up-front' is immeasurably more strict. I went to the hospital a couple of weeks ago for symptoms that must have been essentially similar to Gerald Augustin's. I was admitted and treated without a health insurance card. I was presented with a bill only when I was discharged, at which point I was offered the ability to pay in monthly installments. The girl at the counter asked me the maximum monthly payment I felt I could pay. In other words, I could have had a complete course of non-emergency treatment without health insurance and I could have payed for it in reasonable monthly installments for months to come.

Compare that to the tragic story above. Augustin was refused treatment because he didn't have his health-card - something which simply would not happen here, according to policy - and because he was unable to pay prior to or at the time of treatment - something that American hospitals, public and private, do not, according to policy, require.

American health care is not perfect. But it's 'Canadian-style health care' that should be the dirty word.

Posted by David Mader at 07:31 PM | (2) | Back to Main

Breaking News

Daily Show host Jon Stewart is voting for Kerry.

I'm sure you're as shocked as I am, and I pledge to remain on top of this surprising and unexpected development.

Posted by David Mader at 06:36 PM | (4) | Back to Main

Florida Slipping?

Rasmussen moves Florida back into the toss-up category, making the race 213-194 for Bush. Bush isn't trailing in Florida - he hasn't trailed there for weeks - but his lead is within five percentage points, and has been for a few days.

Posted by David Mader at 06:09 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Cheap Canadian Drugs, Part II

Confused by all this talk about the international trade in pharmeceuticals? Don't worry - you're just as qualified as 'Dr. William Schaffner, a member of the U.S. advisory committee on immunization practices':

When President George W. Bush spoke of importing Canadian flu vaccine during Wednesday's election debate, many in the U.S. public health community were struck by the irony of an administration that slams the door on cheaper Canadian drugs, but looks north for help with an embarrassing vaccine shortage.

"It seemed ironic to many of us who were watching that the president had kind of disparaged the importation of Canadian (prescription) drugs but seemed to be interested in exploring the possibility of importing Canadian vaccine," [Dr. Schaffner said] Thursday.

Okay, we're going to work through this slowly: the President is opposed to the re-importation of pharmeceuticals manufactured in the United States and sold at below-market prices. The president has indicated his support for the importation of vaccine doses manufactured in Canada and sold at cost.

Am I condescending? Yes. Is this man a member of a government panel on vaccination? Yes. Am I about to apologize for my condescension? Just as soon as he apologizes for passing himself off as an expert on the issue.

Or maybe he just defines the government expert.

Posted by David Mader at 03:49 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Mary Cheney

I think Kerry's remarks about Dick Cheney's daughter may come to be seen, historically, as the turning point in this campaign - the point at which Kerry hit his high-water-mark and began to lose his momentum, and the point at which Bush began to pull back into a significant lead. (Assuming he does pull into a lead; it's all speculative at this point).

Here's what Kerry said:

[Bob Schieffer, moderator]: Both of you are opposed to gay marriage. But to understand how you have come to that conclusion, I want to ask you a more basic question. Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?

[Senator Kerry]: We're all God's children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as.

I think if you talk to anybody, it's not choice. I've met people who struggled with this for years, people who were in a marriage because they were living a sort of convention, and they struggled with it.

And I've met wives who are supportive of their husbands or vice versa when they finally sort of broke out and allowed themselves to live who they were, who they felt God had made them.

I think we have to respect that...

Andrew Sullivan has been arguing, strongly, that any suggestion of impropriety on Kerry's part must be founded upon the assumption that lesbianism is something shameful, a liability and an embarrasment not to be discussed in polite society. See here for a good summary of his argument. He has a certain point, and it's a good one: we should not be in a place where a candidate's lesbian daughter is an electoral liability, and such candidates should nonetheless be forthright in rejecting the support of the voters who would be swayed by such a fact.

But while that is a very real political calculation, I don't think that's why this issue will have traction with key voters. Go back and re-read Kerry's answer. Now tell me this: what does Mary Cheney have to do with Kerry's response, except for the fact that she's gay? Does Kerry say, "the president should be more sensitive to this issue, given his proximity to a family which stands to be negatively affected by the FMA"? No. Does he say, "although I oppose gay marriage, I believe that I, like the Vice President, would support the protection of the traditional definition of marriage even if my own daughter were lesbian"? No.

All he does is cite Mary Cheney as an example of a lesbian before going on to talk about the issue in the abstract. Most people won't be put off by this because they now know, as if they didn't before, that the Vice President has a lesbian daughter. Most people who are put off by this will be put off because it's just not a classy thing to say. Sullivan says it should be seen as no different than noting a candidate's child's military service. But most people would be put off by using an opponent's child as an example in one's own election bid. Sullivan also suggests that since Cheney is her father's campaign manager, she shouldn't be seen as a typical candidate's child. But Kerry doesn't identify her as a campaign manager. He identifies her as a child. And talking about your opponent's children, for whatever reason, is seen, by a good many voters, as improper. All politics is not personal, thank heavens, and I think a good many voters are going to be made uncomfortable by Kerry's effort to blur the distinction just a little bit more. (Hugh Hewitt has been making this point, although one can sense a degree of what Sullivan identifies as the 'taboo' in Hewitt's treatment [Correction - 19:42 EDT - though Hewitt makes reference to the 'taboo' argument, he himself believes the real source of outrage is the crossing of the private/political boundary].

In the past three weeks John Kerry has done a good job portraying himself as strong on defense, responsible in Iraq, and a steady leader. In short, he closed the gap between himself and the president. Presented with two men who offer largely the same platform, voters will turn to that most elusive of elements, likeability. And I think a lot of people who saw Kerry's remark on the evening news will instinctually react negatively. Add that to the president's own warm final-debate performance, and you've got a recipe for a Bush rebound in the final weeks of this campaign.

UPDATE (19:37 EDT): See this Washington Post poll, indicating widespread (64%) disapproval of Kerry's comment.

Posted by David Mader at 03:21 PM | (6) | Back to Main

Proof and Intelligence

UT ConLaw prof Philip Bobbit, who worked with the NSC before coming back to Texas, had a very interesting column in the Guardian on the intelligence failures surrounding Iraq and Saddam's supposed WMD. Bobbitt applies a very lawyerly approach, and the result is worth a read.

Posted by David Mader at 02:47 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Pulling Away?

The president is putting up some pretty good national numbers coming out of the final debate, although only a third of the sample is post-debate. This will sound bolder than I feel: I don't see Kerry reversing these numbers. The president has regained his advantage in handling the economy and national defense, which was shaken after the first debate. The CW - at least in the main-stream media, and according to snap polls - has been that Kerry won the debates, but Kerry doesn't seem to occupy the strong position one might expect of a winner. On the contrary, as Hugh Hewitt has observed, the lasting liabilities from the debates - from the 'world test' comment to the Mary Cheney remark (of which more later) - have been Kerry's.

Kerry's task in the debates was to show himself presidential. In that he certainly succeeded. But Dubya has redefined the presidency, or at least his presidency, and that's the benchmark against which any challenger to this president will be measured. The key to a President Bush is his likeability. That was on display in the final debate. Kerry's play-president was senatorial and detached. At the end of the day, that might keep him from bringing around the swing-voters he needs.

Posted by David Mader at 01:51 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Cheap Canadian Drugs

Well, that should bring in the Google hits.

On Wednesday I noted that John Kerry, supposed internationalist, was proposing an approach to prescription drugs which would make Canadians sicker and less able to access such drugs. (In fairness, President Bush doesn't seem much better on this point, no doubt due to the strength of the AARP).

Turns out the good folks at the National Post were thinking much the same. First my former prof William Watson had a column (subscribers only) on the likely effect of an open North American market in prescription drugs. His bottom line: drugs will get more expensive for Canadians, not cheaper for Americans.

Then the editorial board weighed in with a leader on the subject. They do a good job of explaining the concern:

The reason our prescription drugs are currently cheaper than those in the U.S. is that ours are subsidized, discounted and price-controlled. Pharmaceutical companies charge Canadians less for prescriptions in part because Canadians simply cannot afford to spend as much as Americans on specific drugs. (Incidentally, the same goes for a pair of khakis at The Gap, though casual clothing has not yet become an election issue.) Meanwhile, our Patented Medicine Price Review Board legally mandates maximum drug prices.

The result is that pharmaceutical companies make less money in Canada than in the United States. They accept a lower return here, because they have a more profitable market south of the border, which helps pay for the research and development of new life-saving drugs that might otherwise go undiscovered. But company shareholders are unlikely to put up with Canadian price levels if they are extended to many Americans.

In the comments to my earlier post, my buddy Iain challenged me on the free-trade restrictions implicit in such a scheme. It's a good point. From a purely economic perspective, it might be useful to allow Canadian drug prices to rise to where they ought to be, if only to illustrate to Canadians a) how poor they are and b) what a problem socialized medicare can be.

On the other hand, price-discrimination is among the more market-acceptable responses to the problem of providing goods to impoverished consumers. If there is to be a solution to the provision of cheap drugs to Africa, it will involve a strict ban on re-exportation. The WTO countries have moved in that direction, agreeing to prohibit re-exports and mandating certain requirement - up to and including the color of pills - in order to identify re-exported drugs.

Watson, in his column, bristles a little at Canada being compared to or associated with a third-world country, but the truth is that from the perspective of American pharmaceutical companies the approach is much the same. In each case there's a market that's too poor to afford the drugs it desires. In each case there's an economic incentive to provide those drugs at the highest cost that market can afford. And in each case, presumably, there's a moral argument for providing the impoverished sick with the drugs they need to regain or sustain their health.

John Kerry proposes to undermine that approach, at least with regard to Canada. Doctrinaire free marketers may rejoice. It certainly puts lie to the notion that the Democratic candidate is a champion of international cooperation.

Posted by David Mader at 12:21 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Rise of the New Media Watch

Powerline notes that this New York Times story cites Real Clear Politics for its polling data.


Posted by David Mader at 10:21 AM | (0) | Back to Main

October 14, 2004

More EC Round-Up

Rasmussen has Bush up two in Ohio, and Kerry up four in Iowa (ending 10/12). Those numbers are better for Bush than Kerry, although I suppose it's easier for Kerry to flip Ohio than for Bush to flip Iowa. Still, if Pennsylvania is as close at is seems, it'll be an uphill battle for Kerry on the second.

Posted by David Mader at 08:34 PM | (0) | Back to Main


If you watched last night's debate, you'll probably enjoy this.

[Via OxBlog]

Posted by David Mader at 08:28 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Ohio Plus Seven

The New Republic's Ryan Lizza points out the flip-side to my electoral-college post yesterday:

Assuming a base of 243, if Kerry wins only the biggest of these five states--Ohio--he would still lose the election 275-263. To win, he has to keep his base of 243, prevail in Ohio, and still find seven more electoral votes. He has three options: take back Iowa (7) or Wisconsin (10) from Bush; win Colorado (9); or win two out of the three small toss-ups: West Virginia (5), Nevada (5), and New Hampshire (4).

That's what it is coming down to for Kerry--Ohio plus seven. (Of course, if New Mexico begins to slip away, call it Ohio plus 12!)

Sounds about right. Check out today's map over at Electoral-Vote.Com, which has Bush up 284-228 with 26 votes in the air (Iowa (7), Jersey (15) and New Hampshire (4). Kerry would need Ohio (20), Iowa and Jersey to squeak out a win at 270-268; Bush, by contrast, could lose Ohio, Jersey and Hampshire and win by taking only Iowa, giving him 271-267. Ceteris paribus, of course.

Hey - maybe Iowa, rather than Ohio, is the key this year!

UPDATE (16:55 EDT): I've been counting Pennsylvania in the Kerry camp, but I just had a look at RealClearPolitics' Pennsylvania page and noticed that since 10/4/04, Kerry hasn't led in any poll by more than two points. In the past couple of days two separate polls have found each candidate up one point. That state is still very much in play.

[TNR link via Sullivan]

Posted by David Mader at 04:45 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Adam Daifallah beats me to the punch in pointing out two new ads from the Swift Vets and POWS for Truth. I'm not sure how effective these will be. The first barrage of Swiftvet ads damaged Kerry pretty considerably over the summer - mostly because, I'd argue, Kerry had never faced this sort of attack on this front before in his public life. But once the mainstream media overcame it's reluctance (or refusal, rather) to cover the vets, it supersaturated the story in its attempt to demonize the vets. The result is the same: almost everybody knows, by now, that Kerry served and that many of his brothers in arms have serious reservations about the man. I imagine most people have made up their minds on the issue. I don't see this latest and last barrage swinging too many voters.

On the other hand, maybe this late reminder will bring to mind among swing voters the reservations about Kerry they themselves harbored over the summer and into September. We'll see, I guess.

Posted by David Mader at 03:40 PM | (1) | Back to Main

An American in Paris

Poor girl. And I didn't know that French was contagious:

Liz Mott, 20, an American born in Paris, said she watched the first debate and felt a deep sense that another four years of Bush would endanger the world to a greater degree.

"Everything Bush said was stupid," she put it.

Well, I'm convinced. If only I was born in Paris, too.

Posted by David Mader at 03:23 PM | (0) | Back to Main

John Lott

Had the pleasure of hearing John Lott address a small gathering at the law school yesterday (one of the benefits of going to a law school with an active Federalist Society). His hour-long talk was divided into two main parts: he first talked about the anti-gun bias prevalent (predominant, even) among the mainstream (print) media; he then turned to the various arguments against gun control, up to and including safe-storage laws (which we have here in Texas).

This latter section was the less remarkable, for myself at least, since these kinds of arguments, while important, are fairly unoriginal. The sentiment expressed in the phrase 'when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns' may have created it a cliche, but that sentiment has never, I think, been sastisfactorily refuted. As Lott argued, any approach to guns has advantages and disadvantages; the question must be what the net effect is. Going through the statistics - familiar to me, but counter-intuitive to many - on home invasions and violent-assault survival rates, Lott made the case for a net benefit to individual gun ownership. (In brief, jurisdictions where homeowners are permitted to keep firearms have drastically fewer home invasions when someone is at home; also, of the various possible responses to a potentially-violent attack, armed response has a better survival rate than passivity, I believe, and certainly than attempting to flee or resisting without a weapon).

The more interesting part of the talk, for me, was Lott's treatment of the print-media's bias towards guns. For instance, he noted that while almost all papers will report a gun-related crime such as a murder or armed robbery, almost no papers report defensive uses of guns - where the deceased was not an innocent victim of a crime but rather a criminal. (The exceptions - the Houston Chronicle and the Dallas Morning News - made an editorial/policy decision to report on all 'news,' and both papers consider the death of a criminal as newsworthy as the death of an innocent). Similarly, papers often amplify tremendously any instance of a child shooting him or her self or another with a firearm, despite the fact that dangerous incidents of this type are far less common than, say, the drowning of infants in five-gallon buckets in the home. But papers almost never (we're talking a fraction of a percent of the time) report on instances of a child using a firearm to protect his family - an occurrence that's likely as rare and certainly as newsworthy.

Lott also illustrated his argument through an analysis of press responses to school shootings. He noted that after one of the first widely-publicized school shootings in 1997, hundreds of papers published unique articles about the story. Only about fifteen mentioned the vice-principal, and fewer than ten mentioned that he was involved in subduing the shooter. Only a couple revealed that when the shooting had stared, he ran over half a mile to his car - parked outside of the 'school zone' - retrieved his firearm, ran back and subdued the shooter (without shooting him) minutes before the police arrived.

In all, a very interesting talk. Lott has a book on anti-gun bias which touches on this sort of media treatment, for those interested at a better version of the argument, from its source.

Posted by David Mader at 03:08 PM | (0) | Back to Main

"People from the Middle East"

When Kerry said that 'people from the middle east, allegedly' were coming across the border, he was talking about Chechens. I'm almost certain - why else the 'allegedly'? In fact, that 'allegedly' makes perfect sense if he's responding to as-yet-unconfirmed reports of twenty-five Chechen terrorists secretly crossing into the US from Mexico, reports which broke yesterday or early today.

Now, is Chechnya in the Middle East? I'm inclined to say no - but maybe that's immaterial.

Posted by David Mader at 12:01 AM | (0) | Back to Main

October 13, 2004

It's Remarkable, By the Way...

That the Social Security question of a presidential debate is predicated upon the presumption that Social Security is broken and that we must fix it.

Policy wonks have been saying it for years, of course, but it's nice to hear the politicos themselves acknowledge the fact. Now if only they'd, you know, fix it.

Posted by David Mader at 11:44 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Importing Drugs from Canada

Can I just say, because I don't think anybody else in America is saying, that 'allowing Americans to import drugs from Canada' - as Senator Kerry advocates - would, by equalizing costs between the countries, make Canadians sicker and less able to access prescription drugs. Some internationalist.

Posted by David Mader at 11:33 PM | (3) | Back to Main

The Debate

I was at a law school society function for the debate, and so ended up watching rather than listening to the debate and instead talked politics with a die-hard liberal and a blue-dog Democrat. Much more interesting, I think. But I caught the final question. And whatever anybody says about mainstream media bias showing through in the debates via the moderators, the decision to ask the final question of the final debate about family was a huge gift to the president. Family is this president's theme. Here's what I wrote on September 1.

Posted by David Mader at 11:28 PM | (0) | Back to Main

How it Could Go To the House

Or, 'How Ohio Might Not Matter.' Check out Real Clear Politics' Electoral College breakdown (this is a time-specific link that will change tomorrow). They've got Bush with 264, Kerry with 237 and 37 up in the air. If Bush were to win New Mexico (5) and Kerry were to win all the rest (including both Ohio and Maine's district-specific vote), both candidates would have 269 Electoral College votes (by my math, which is probably wrong) and the elecction would go to the House. If Bush were to win both New Mexico and any other toss-up state, he would win - even if he lost both Penn (which it looks like he will) and Ohio (which is a big toss-up, and widely expected to be determinative).

Of course the map will change tomorrow, and on every tomorrow until the election. But still, it's a fun game to play.

Posted by David Mader at 02:56 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Steyn's Pledge

Four years ago, in the pages of the National Post, Mark Steyn pledged that he would stop writing about American politics if George Bush lost the 2000 election. It was a squeaker, but Steyn was vindicated and continued to write (his subsequent departure from the Post was for different reasons).

Now Steyn has repeated his pledge in the Irish Times:

By contrast, readers of this column may have gained the impression that George W Bush will win the Presidential election on November 2nd. If he doesn’t, I shall trouble readers of this newspaper no further. It would be ridiculous to continue passing myself off as an incisive analyst of US affairs after I’ve been exposed as a deluded fool who completely misread the entire situation. In the bright new dawn of the Kerry Administration, you’d deserve better... If Kerry wins, I’m outta here.
I wish I shared his confidence. And I sure hope he's right.

Posted by David Mader at 12:44 PM | (0) | Back to Main

October 12, 2004

Law School T-Shirts

I'm only half-way through my first term, so I only really appreciate about half of them.

[Via Volokh's Orin Kerr]

Posted by David Mader at 11:10 PM | (0) | Back to Main

W(h)ither Canada?

I recently noted a New York Times story which highlighted a feeling of despair among certain Canadian intellectuals over the direction - or lack thereof - of the country. The post generated some interesting discussion both in comments and at other fine blogs.

Now the Toronto Star brings us Linda McQuaig's response. McQuaig can stand in pretty well, I think, for the Canadian Trudeauvian-nationalist class. She comes straight out and calls the malaise school of thinkers anti-Canadian:

The Times presented Canada as a virtual cesspool of despair over the sorry state of the country.

"I'm in almost total despair," University of Toronto historian Michael Bliss told the Times.

What is driving professor Bliss to despair? Could it be Canada's high rate of homelessness, poverty, unemployment? Apparently not.

"You have a country," Bliss continued, "but what is it for and what is it doing?"

What is it for? Couldn't it just be our collective attempt to live well together?

What seems to infuriate Bliss and the other neo-conservatives is the value Canadians attach to social programs, particularly public health care.

"A country is not just a health system," scoffed military historian Jack Granatstein, also quoted in the Times, who apparently feels the size of a country's military is a more appropriate measure of greatness.

True, a country is not just a health system, but how a country organizes something as important as its health system reveals a lot about what kind of country it is.


I'm still thinking a lot about this, especially because, as is probably evident, I'd fit squarely into the category of anti-Canadian 'self-haters.' Now if that were true, it wouldn't bother me all too much - my views have been called (to my face) un-Canadian for years, and I've certainly come to embrace that approach [welcome to Texas]; nonetheless, if I and my Canadian background are to have a final parting of the ways, I'd like to know a little better just what it is that's driving us apart. And all McQuaig gives me is the same old health-care muck and a sense that political ideology defines national identity. I hope that's not true. But no-one's done any better in enunciating just what Canada means.

Posted by David Mader at 12:02 PM | (9) | Back to Main

October 11, 2004

Your Good-News Story of the Day

It's rare to read a wire story that fails so wonderfully to hide it's enthusiasm. But read this story in full to see an unabashedly positive response by an AP reporter to the Afghan election:

From remote mountain villages to the poorest slums, Afghans embraced their first-ever chance at democracy with enthusiasm and curiosity, many camping out before dawn so they could cast their ballots early. They also largely ignored Taliban threats to disrupt the presidential vote, handing a major defeat to the insurgency...

Months of bluster and bravado by what is left of the former Taliban regime proved empty. The rebels promised an all-out war on election day, and distributed "night letters" warning people to stay away from the polls.

On election day, Taliban fighters managed to kill eight policemen and at least five civilians, but the militants were the day's biggest losers. They lost 25 men in a clash with U.S. and Afghan forces, and handed the 18,000-strong U.S.-led coalition perhaps its biggest victory since the end of the war that toppled the Taliban in late 2001.

This is a tremendous victory for Afghanistan, a tremendous victory for democracy and, as Andrew Sullivan says (and not incidentally), a tremendous victory for George W. Bush. But even if you're not a Bush supporter, two out of three ain't bad. And these two out of three are absolutely wonderful.

Posted by David Mader at 06:42 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Some Allies

It probably isn't entirely fair to call the Wahabi fundamentalism which is predominant in Saudi Arabia 'medieval.' But 'pre-modern' may not be so far off:

Women may neither vote nor run in Saudi Arabia's first nationwide elections, the government announced Monday, dashing hopes of progressive Saudis and easing fears among conservatives that the kingdom is moving too fast on reforms.

Some women considered the move yet another indignity in a country where they need their husbands' permission to study, travel or work. But others said they wouldn't trust themselves to judge whether a candidate is more than just a handsome face.

The AP's absurd fetish for 'balance' is behind that last sentence, of course. The sentence is based on the comment of one woman interviewed in a shopping mall, but the real lead from that interview is buried: "What's the point of voting?" [Rima Khaled, 20, asked]. "Even if we did vote, we would go home to the men in our lives who will have the last say in whatever we do." Riyadh, y'all better hope - no, pray - that's resignation. Because if it's dissatisfaction, your days are, mercifully, numbered.

Posted by David Mader at 06:36 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Hadn't Heard This

From the AP:

French authorities tightened security around embassies in Paris following the bombing, which loosened stones from a wall of the mission, broke windows in the neighborhood and damaged cars in the vicinity. The bomb was concocted with a canister of gas filled with gunpowder, police said.

On Monday, police explosives experts set off a controlled detonation of a case on a motorbike parked in front of the Canadian ambassador's residence.

I'll try to find more; it's unclear whether the package was in fact an explosive.

Posted by David Mader at 06:31 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Sorry for the long silence; the Brothers Mader have been reunited here in Austin over the weekend, so there hasn't been much time to post.

Before I went dark, I said that despite his stronger popular-poll numbers Kerry faced an uphill battle in the Electoral College. I'm happy to say that, last Friday, RealClearPolitics (which is now getting shout-outs on FoxNews) said much the same:

There is no question that the situation for Senator Kerry has improved dramatically in the last week. From an Electoral Vote standpoint, however, he is still facing an uphill battle.
As some readers have pointed out, ElectoralVote.Com now has Kerry over the magic number of 270. It's certainly true that Kerry has improved his electoral college standing in the past weeks. But keep in mind that, after toying with various averaging mechanisms, E-V is simply citing the most recent state poll. So, for instance, he's giving Ohio to Kerry based on an October 7 poll which had Kerry up by 1 point. Rasmussen, by contrast, will place a state in a candidate's column only if the candidate leads by a significant margin over a series of polls. Under that method, they see Bush ahead 240-179.

Whatever the spin, it seems quite possible that the trifecta of Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio will determine the election. Florida appears quite firmly in the Bush column, while Pennsylvania has been leaning Kerry. That makes Ohio the state of the moment. Dan tells me he remembers reading a NYT piece from January or February detailing the GOP's ground-game efforts in the suburbs of Ohio's cities. Rove may have called it, but it's not yet clear that he can pull off a win.

But - and here's my more partisan punditry - I think Bush still has the upper hand. In my earlier post I doubted Kerry had much room for growth. I stand by that. The fundamental fact of this election, as demonstrated by Kerry's nuisance comment, is that one party's base believes we're at war while the other party's base believes we're not. (That's a generalization which, I think, will stand). In order for Kerry to win, he has to 'cross the floor' in a manner of speaking - he has to present himself as a wartime leader, a strong candidate capable of fighting terrorism. But these are fundamentally Republican issues. Warren Kinsella recently wrote on his blog that a candidate wins a debate by having his opponent speak to his issues. I don't see why an election would be any different. Kerry may be able to convince the middle that he's a better wartime candidate than President Bush. But it's counter-intuitive. That gives Bush the edge.

Posted by David Mader at 12:38 PM | (0) | Back to Main

October 06, 2004

October Surprise - II

A couple of days ago I mentioned a story from CNSNews suggesting the leak of Iraqi intelligence documents detailing WMD procurement and links to terrorist groups. Now the web's other independant and conservative-leaning news service, WorldNetDaily, has pictures purportedly showing a mobile Iraqi chemical/biological weapons lab.

One of two things is happening here. On the one hand, supporters of the President, spooked by the Democratic resurgence, may be pushing stories (which may have been held in reserve for just such an opportunity) in an attempt to bolster their man in the closing weeks of the campaign. On the other hand, we may be seeing a concerted effort to lay the groundwork for an honest-to-goodness October suprise by the White House. I'm strongly inclined to the former, but, as I said before, keep an eye on stories like these.

Posted by David Mader at 04:24 PM | (2) | Back to Main

Will Ivan Decide the Election?

Earlier this year - before the convetions and the SwiftVets and the debates - the CW was that November's election would be almost as tight as the 2000 carnival, and that a handful of swing-states would decide the contest. The first on this list was always 'of course, Florida,' where things had been so tight last time around.

So it's interesting to note that Bush has maintained a consistent, if not particularly large, lead in Florida for about a month. Early in September there was skepticism regarding Florida polls because so many people had been displaced by the hurricanes. But weekend polling still finds the president up by about five points, and it's probably fair to say that as many people are back home as will be voting on November second.

It's possible, though, that the hurricanes are indeed the cause of these unexpeted polling numbers - not because of displacement, but because the emergency has brought Bush to Florida time and again in the past few weeks. Ordinarily he'd be stumping, and so acting political. But he's been hands-on involved in the distribution of aid, and so has been acting presidential in that uniquely dubya-esque manner, the president-next-door. I wonder if this hasn't shifted the state in his favor, and whether that, as much as anything else, will determine the Electoral College winner on election night.

Posted by David Mader at 02:07 PM | (0) | Back to Main

By the Numbers

Now that Rasmussen shows a tie, there's no denying the bounce Kerry got out of last week's debate. And while the CW is that Cheney came out ahead of last night's veep contest, there are some who claim that Cheney performed so poorly that the Kerry/Edwards ticket will pick up even more momentum. Well, they better hope so, because they need it.

The Electoral College map refuses to budge. There's good reason to suggest that Kerry's debate performance shored up his support among those who might have been expected to support him but who abandoned him over the summer. Remember when, in early September, New York and New Jersey were being called 'the new swing states'? Remember when Kerry's California lead fell to very tenuous single digits? Well, that's reversed; CA, NJ and NY are all now solidly blue. That's good for Kerry when the alternative is seeing them go red. But those are states that absolutely have to be blue for the Democrats to have any hope of winning the White House. They've shored up the base; can they expand?

It'll be an uphill battle. Check out the EC map at ElectoralVote.com, run by a Democrat who constantly updates based on the most recent state polling data. States in which Bush leads by 5% or more give the president 239 votes. The magic number is 270. Kerry's 5+% states, by contrast, give him 169. If Bush wins all the states in which he leads by less than 5%, he's over the top. If Kerry wins all the states in which he leads by less than 5%, he'll still need 38 electoral college votes. And here's the kicker - pure 'toss-up' states, in which the candidates are absolutely tied, offer only 21 electoral votes. Kerry could win all of those and still come up short.

In other words, Kerry has his work cut out for him. Not only must he secure his own relatively small (in EC terms) base, which he's only now starting to do; he must also expand into the President's base by turning weak Bush leads into weak Kerry leads. He's got a month and two debates, so it's certainly possible. But don't be fooled by the popular-vote numbers: President Bush still has the upper hand in this election.

Posted by David Mader at 01:48 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Troy: Stand For Freedom, Here and Now

The following is the text of an address given by Gil Troy before a rally at Concordia University in Montreal on Tuesday, October 5, 2004:

Photo Credit: Adam Daifallah

I usually don these robes once a year – for graduation. And I tell you, it never fails. Every time I wear these academic robes – with their origins stretching back to the Middle Ages – it fills me with awe, it offers a living link to an illustrious tradition, it reaffirms the values I cherish, it reminds me why I became an academic. To me, these robes represent the ideals of academic freedom, of vigorous thought, of open inquiry, of mutual respect, of civility, of learning from one another – even those with whom we might disagree.

Usually I wear these robes to march with dozens of other colleagues in an academic processional, to welcome thousands of graduates into the "company of educated men and women." I usually feel proud, I feel pleased, I delight in the achievements of my colleagues and our students.

Unfortunately today, I stand before you feeling very alone, feeling very concerned, feeling very sad. Where are my colleagues to stand up for the values of academic freedom so central to the mission of the university? Where are the students, from the left and from the right, black and white, Jew and non-Jew, to stand united and say, "we are here, we are ready, to defend the free and open and civil inquiry so essential to our educations, both in the classroom and outside"?

I'm well aware that I'm a guest here on this particular campus – and I thank the students for inviting me – but I'm here today because this is an issue that affects us all. And I stand before you in these academic robes, not as a Harvard man, and not as a McGill professor.

I stand here as a concerned and outraged member of the academic community, I stand here as someone who has devoted his life to fulfilling these fundamental academic and democratic ideals which are under assault today. I am wearing these robes as a challenge: every time we are forced to rely on police to escort a guest to campus – let alone bar him or her from speaking – we fail as academics; we should be able to provide our own security, if necessary mobilizing in a multi-colored procession of academic gowns rather than having to cower behind a thin blue line of noble, brave police officers.

There are three essential facts to this case.

1. Jason Portnoy, a legitimate, full-time, tuition-paying student at Concordia University wanted to stretch his education by inviting former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to speak. In so doing he was exercising a basic right enjoyed by dozens of students on this campus every year – and by thousands of students on campuses throughout the world. Portnoy's complaint – if you will – is a legitimate one. Why is he being discriminated against, not being allowed to host his choice of speaker in his academic home?

2. The "security risk assessment" – and the subsequent decision to ban Barak from the Concordia campus – punishes the potential victims and not the potential perpetrators of the crime. It risks giving hooligans a violence veto. It is unfathomable to me that the mere threat of violence can silence speakers, especially one known internationally as a peacemaker. It is unconscionable for a university to create this kind of a precedent. And I ask, who's next, what's next, what other discussions will be squelched because they are too "provocative"?

3. Offering an off-campus site is the problem, not the solution. It implicitly admits that something is broken here, that something is seriously wrong on this campus. If the good administrators of Concordia, if my distinguished colleagues, cannot control their own campus, who, may I ask, is running the show – just who is in charge?

So I ask again, where are the administrators, where are the leaders of this university to make sure this university lives up to its name Concordia – and fulfills its academic and CIVILIZING mission?

I ask, where are my colleagues, where is the faculty to defend academic values of free and vigorous debate and to point out that appeasement is not peace? The problems here will not be solved until distinguished guests can be hosted freely and peacefully on this campus.

I ask, where are colleagues from McGill, UQAM, U de M, U of T, and UBC? As educators, are we comfortable with a campus which only gives a one-sided perspective on any topic, from the Middle East to the Middle West? Don't we need to challenge our students to show to them that there are other perspectives other than Noam Chomsky's?

I ask, where is the Mayor? Are you, Mr. Mayor, aware of the fact that here in Montreal we are being told that it is too risky to learn from the former leader of a sister democracy?

I ask, where is the Premier of this Province, where is the Prime Minister of this great land? Do you Mr. Charest, do you Mr. Martin, sleep well at night knowing that fundamental Canadian values of decency, civility, and dialogue are being threatened under your watch? That there is no peace, no order, no good government, when we cannot even sit and reason together on a university campus?

A special word, if I may, to the security forces, to the brave men and women of Concordia Security, of the local Montréal police, of the Sureté de Quebec, of the RCMP. We honor your service to us, to your fellow citizens, to this country. We do not wish to disrespect you or dismay you – we are not the ones who riot, we are not the ones who cursed you, we are not the ones who have threatened or now threaten you with violence.

But you know, better than any one of us, about the broken windows theory of policing – that little problems unchecked metastasize into big ones. Just as vandalism becomes a gateway to other crimes, so too does giving in to intimidation. If we allow trouble to fester, if we don't stand for our rights right here, right now, it will only get worse. We simply ask you to work with us, to protect us – and to help make it clear who the potential criminals are – and how they can be stopped effectively, legally, equitably.

I know this is a bigger issue. And that's why I'm here. I know that in too many places in the world today Israelis are demonized, marginalized, banned by the forces of unreason who libel even Ehud Barak despite his peacemaking efforts.

I would love to see pro-Palestinian professors and students here and elsewhere standing up and saying: I disagree with Ehud Barak, but I will defend his right to speak; just as I say I disagree with Norman Finkelstein and literally dozens of other Israel- America- and Canada- bashers who have spoken here in these last two years. But I just don't defend their rights to speak, I welcome the opportunity to learn from them, to shake up my views.

I know that when rights of free speech and peaceable assembly become optional not mandatory, when they become contingent on liking those who wish to speak freely or assemble peaceably, we're sliding down that slippery slope to intellectual totalitarianism.

I know that in campuses throughout North America people are struggling over the boundaries of speech, that there is all too often in too many places a toxic environment that festers, that politicizes everything, that polarizes everyone, that divides colleagues, silences dissenters, and conquers our spirit.

I know that there are too many people – ironically, in the name of diversity – who think the "UNI-iversity" means perpetuating only one, alternative, quite marginal school of thought. And woe to any free thinkers who deviate from the line of the day, the methodological trend of the moment, the political perspective of the narrow-minded thought police who might be temporarily ascendant.

But we know that the university means UNIted in civility to learn from a DIVERSITY of opinions. Come, let us reason together, come, let us stand together, come let us fight this assault on us all, Because if we don't take that stand right here, right now, it will only get worse and worse.

I said that I was feeling alone in my robes – and it's only half true. When I look out in this crowd, when I see student-heroes like Jason Portnoy, when I hear about the coalition building with Hillel and Amnesty International and the CSU [Concordia Student Union], when I'm honored to share the podium with a blessed peacemaker such as the Rev. Darryl Gray, I know I am not alone, we are not alone, we will not waver, and we shall prevail.

Posted by David Mader at 01:39 AM | (5) | Back to Main

October 05, 2004

The Veep Debate

I watched it, which means I have to do work now and don't have time for a proper post, but I want to get my two cents in. I don't know if anybody watched, or whether it'll make any difference. But if it does, it will be a huge win for Cheney (and so Bush). That's not simply because, as some have suggested, both candidates look good but Cheney looked better. Cheney looked good and Edwards did not.

Visuals in a debate are huge. Many will assume that because Cheney was slumped he failed to come across as strong. But even with the 'mute' treatment, it was clear that Cheney was an experienced public servant discussing matters of policy from a position of strength. Biggest indicator: Cheney addressed, almost invariably, the moderator (who, by the way, was terrific). Edwards, on the other hand, came across as a pure politician, and an inexperienced and insubstantive one at that. He was not in a position to discuss policy from experience, and it showed in his demeanor. Biggest indicator: Edwards addressed, almost invariably, Cheney.

So there's your visual: Cheney having a discussion with the moderator about policy from experience, and Edwards attacking from the side on political talking points. Put the substance of the issues aside; that's a clear win for Cheney. Edwards didn't look like a Veep-in-waiting, he looked like a VP-candidate - a politician.

Final quick thoughts: Edwards made the mistake, over and over and over again, of talking about 'the President of the United States.' That's fine on the primary stump when you're shilling the up-from-the-dirt life story. But his job here was to attack the Republican nominee. That man is George W. Bush. Call him the President and you've given him half the election. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Ok, that's it for now. Will the polls vindicate my analysis? Time will tell. But my prediction - a small bump for Bush and a corresponding small dip for Kerry.

Posted by David Mader at 11:51 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Free Speech at Concordia

Adam Daifallah has pictures. Many kudos to my former prof Gil Troy, who's a strong advocate of democratic freedoms and has put his name on the line time and again to stand against the slow and insidious erosion of freedoms that too many in western academia and the chattering classes accept and encourage.

Posted by David Mader at 10:08 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Your Daily Numbers

RealClearPolitics has your round-up on the popular vote, and the polls - including, now, Rasmussen - show the race to be a tie, with the candidates within a point of one another. That's pretty much unchanged since Sunday or Monday. Yes, I know it's only tuesday, but the good-news spin for the Bush folks is that the three-day rollers, with their inevitable lag, are now on par with the spot polls - which suggests that we've seen the extend of the Kerry 'bump.' Of course the Veep debate is tonight, and while most people won't watch it, news-types will, so there'll be a whole new storyline tomorrow.

State-side, the Kerry camp can't be too happy: all the sources on my blogroll are showing Bush up by about a hundred EC votes, averaging at about 300-200 in favor of the President. The Democratic Electoral Vote Predictor gives Bush the widest margin at 120, while the Republican Election Projection has the tightest margin at 52. Handicapping? Maybe, but the trend (Dave Leip has Bush up 72, Electoral College Breakdown gives Bush a 90-vote lead, and Tripias has Bush by 104) still shows the President with a significant lead where it counts.

(As an aside, if these numbers continue we may well see the increased calls for electoral college reform that Dave K. warned of a few days back. But I remain confident that either the popular vote numbers will shift or the President will start losing EC votes).

Posted by David Mader at 05:07 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Would Canadian Liberals Support Military Spending

... if only so we could buy submarines that don't suck?

Posted by David Mader at 03:57 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Isn't There a Better Headline?

Maybe I played too many combat flight simulators when I was a kid, but when I hear that someone downed an airplane I assume they shot it down. Is this standard terminology in the commercial industry?

UPDATE (13:02 EDT): As Dave K. points out in the comments, the BBC has indeed changed the headline. Unfortunately, I didn't take a screenshot and I can't remember the precise wording. Needless to say, the BBC makes no note of the change.

Posted by David Mader at 11:57 AM | (1) | Back to Main

About Those Foreign Leaders

John Kerry, upon a time, went on about how 'foreign leaders' essentially endorsed him in his campaign to unseat President Bush, but he was never able to name any of those supposed international supporters. Well, strike these two off the list:

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski has slammed Dem president hopeful John Kerry for not recognizing Poland's contributions and sacrifice to the war in Iraq.

"It is sad that a senator with 20 years of experience does not recognize Polish contribution. This is immoral," Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski told FACTS in an interview commenting on the US Presidential Debate.


If Junichiro Koizumi could vote in the November U.S. presidential election, the Japanese prime minister would almost certainly cast his ballot for his diplomatic soul mate, President Bush...

Some in Japan do fear that a Kerry victory would mean an unwelcome shift of White House attention away from Japan and toward its Asian neighbor and rival, China.

But what are Europe's ascendant power and America's longest-standing Asian ally next to our good friends in Paris and Berlin?

Posted by David Mader at 10:22 AM | (0) | Back to Main

October 04, 2004

Why Didn't Anybody Tell Me?

How did I miss a new U2 single and the announcement of the release of a new album?

UPDATE (01:05 EDT 10/5/04): With my snazzy new American credit card and my (consequent) snazzy new iTunes account I was able to download the single for a buck and bring you my review.

When All That You Can't Leave Behind was released in the fall of 2000 (back before I blogged), I saw it as a sort of retrospective. It sort of felt like the album U2 never released between Josh Tree and Achtung Baby, only produced and released a decade later. 'Walk On' was 'With or Without You' a decade later, 'Elevation' was 'The Fly' a decade later, and so on. To a degree, that was the point: the 'electrical' sounds of Achtung Baby had been extended past critical acceptance on Zooropa (remember that one?) and were criticized outright on Pop. ATYCLB was supposed to be a 'return to the roots,' an eschewing of electrics in favor of the old rock feel.

If that first attempt to rediscover their roots only got U2 to the turn of the 90s, the new single, Vertigo, suggests that the upcoming How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb will take the band right back to the mid-80s. This too seems to be conscious; check out the cover to the new single:

I picked up a great poster in my freshman year that I've subsequently misplaced, a reproduction of a concert bill for some Dutch or German venue in the mid-eighties. It was very, very similar, particularly with the greyscale-and-red color scheme. I don't think that's a mistake.

The music has that same retro vibe. The opening riff - which I wouldn't call 'one of the Edge's fastest [and] most aggressive, as does iTunes - will immediately remind serious fans of the guitarwork on the Salome demos that eventually became, with electrics and post-production, Achtung. Larry has apparently said explicitly that the drum beats look back to the early eighties, and that's the sort of thing you can check out with Mullen, though for now I'll take his word.

The one weak link, however, is Bono. In a sense his vocals - and I'll be honest, I haven't listened closely to the lyrics, though I have the song playing more or less continuously now - echo his impassioned work on Boy ('I Will Follow') and October ('Gloria'). But while Bono's voice has matured in the two decades since those albums, it's also aged. He's never quite recovered from the throat problems that very nearly ended his career in the late 1990s, and by the end of the track he begins to sound tired (which is unusual since he almost certainly didn't sing the track straight through as released). There's a disjunction between the authentic retro of the band and the more strained 'reinterpretation' that Bono delivers.

Vertigo won't top the charts the way The Fly did in introducing U2's new (and, to my mind, greatest) sound on Achtung Baby. Long-time fans will appreciate this second attempt by the band to return to their roots. But the very exercise of 'returning to roots' betrays U2's fundamental problem: they're no longer offering the new and exciting music that took them to the top of the charts and superstardom in the late 80s and early 90s. Now they're simply trying to rehash their old sound. And the truth is, they were better the first time.

Posted by David Mader at 11:00 PM | (3) | Back to Main

Update on That Scalia Business

The Harvard Crimson corrects:

The Sept. 29 news story "Scalia Describes 'Dangerous' Trend" misquoted Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as saying that "I even take the position that sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged." In fact, Scalia said, "I even accept for the sake of argument that sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged."
Makes a little bit more sense. Now we've got Scalia banning orgies even if they had a redeeming social benefit.

Posted by David Mader at 08:33 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Even More Numbers

CBS has it a dead heat at 47/47. No word whether they're just using photocopies of the Gallup numbers.

I haven't read all of the inside numbers, but the trend seems to be Kerry improving his numbers while Bush maintains his own.

Posted by David Mader at 08:31 PM | (0) | Back to Main

What a Funny Way to Learn the Law

I'm reading for contracts, and it strikes me that the traditional American legal education has a very interesting and rather unusual approach to teaching law students how to act as lawyers. Consider: first-year law courses rely primarily on caselaw, which in the American legal system consists overwhelmingly of appellate-level decisions. (This is most simply because trial courts don't publish opinions ordinarily, which in turn is because only really juicy questions of law tend to get to the appellate level, and lawyers are interested in investigating those juicy questions, not the more mundane and uncontroversial decisions of the trial courts).

But as a result, and especially because the overwhelming majority of contested cases never even make it to trial, the examples of lawyerly conduct law students read in their first year are almost necessarily examples of lawyerly error. This is particularly true in contracts, I think, where in order to illustrate the fundamental points of the law it's necessary to read cases where two parties have managed to enter into an arrangement that may or may not be a binding contract precisely because of the sloppy work of their lawyers.

Now showing how it all went wrong is one way of teaching how to do it right, I suppose, but it's interesting that we will probably never come across caselaw wherein both sides have acted as they should. Good lawyerly conduct doesn't result in a suit at law. So we'll never be taught good lawyerly conduct itself, but only good lawyerly conduct as an implicit alternative to the case-law at hand.

Posted by David Mader at 07:25 PM | (0) | Back to Main

October Surprise

Keep an eye on this story:

Iraqi intelligence documents, confiscated by U.S. forces and obtained by CNSNews.com, show numerous efforts by Saddam Hussein's regime to work with some of the world's most notorious terror organizations, including al Qaeda, to target Americans. They demonstrate that Saddam's government possessed mustard gas and anthrax, both considered weapons of mass destruction, in the summer of 2000, during the period in which United Nations weapons inspectors were not present in Iraq. And the papers show that Iraq trained dozens of terrorists inside its borders...

A senior government official who is not a political appointee provided CNSNews.com with copies of the 42 pages of Iraqi Intelligence Service documents. The originals, some of which were hand-written and others typed, are in Arabic. CNSNews.com had the papers translated into English by two individuals separately and independent of each other.

Be skeptical, of course. There's no way to verify any of this right now, without the involvement of the intelligence community. And CNS, although up-and-coming, is not a major news agency, and is known to have a political bent.

But from a political perspective, this may make sense, especially given the role the internet (and CNS itself) has played in breaking and pushing news stories this election cycle. If someone within the government did want to leak this story, going through CNS would make sense, given the newly-apparent CNS->bloggers->Drudge->mainstream media nexus.

Posted by David Mader at 06:03 PM | (0) | Back to Main

More Numbers

The WaPo began its own three-day roller on Friday night, and the first results today - made up of entirely post-debate reaction - has Bush up five points among likely voters, and holding three points over Kerry among registered voters. That represents a tightening of the race, as other polls have shown. But the big impact of the debates, according to the WaPo's inside numbers, was the invigoration of the Democratic base and current Kerry supporters. We may be seeing a bit of an echo of that in the big media coverage of Kerry's performance.

Posted by David Mader at 05:51 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Today's Numbers

Rasmussen still shows Bush ahead at 49/46, giving Kerry a one-point bump since the debates. Zogby puts Bush up 46/45 in a two-way race, though Bush enjoyd three points when Nader is thrown into the mix. But Zogby's 46/45 is probably fairly accurate when taken on top of the weekend's Newsweek and, more recently, Gallup polls showing a dead heat (Gallup at 49/49).

On the other hand I find myself instinctually trusting Rasmussen not because it puts Bush up (at least not consciously) but because I think the three-day rolling poll worked very, very well for SES during the Canadian federal election this spring.

Notwithstanding Kerry's improvement in the popular vote, there has been no significant change in the electoral college breakdown among any of the major EC trackers. Post-debate attitudes may not yet be factored into state polling, though - but starting today we should see the effect, if any, of Kerry's 'win' last week.

Posted by David Mader at 02:33 PM | (0) | Back to Main

More Crushing of Dissent

As Instapundit would say, I blame John Ashcroft:

You might say it is a symbol of the Great American Divide, a teacher putting up a picture of President Bush in the classroom. Some say it is partisanship while others say it is patriotism.

Rita Bianco, Parent: "Children should know their president and their first lady!"

Parents expressing outrage after a teacher is kicked out of her public school for hanging a picture of President Bush next to pictures of other presidents in her classroom.

On Thursday, there was a back-to-school night for parents of students. Veteran English teacher Shiba Pillai-Diaz says she was shocked when three parents confronted her. The three, insisting the teacher either add John Kerry's photo to the montage of presidents or remove the Bush photo. When Pillai-Diaz refused, she says the school's vice-principal threatened her job which is an act that has parents here fuming.

Emphasis added to illustrate that this wasn't a partisan teacher trying to unduly influence her kids. Pop quiz for the complainig parents: why shouldn't John Kerry be on that wall? Because he is not now, nor has he ever been, a president of the United States.

There are all sorts of implications to the line of thinking expressed by the complainants, though I'm not sure how worthwhile it is to go into them. The most basic and important, though, is that it suggests they see George Bush, for the duration of the election campaign at least, as not being their president, but rather as being simply and singly a presidential candidate.

Now there may well be problems in having a sitting president run for elected office, and none would deny that it gives an incumbent certain structural advantages. But it has always been so, and a change to that structural reality - even a conceptual change - would represent a major reform, and quite possibly a major weakening, of our governmental order.

Posted by David Mader at 02:12 PM | (0) | Back to Main

October 03, 2004

This Song is Not a Rebel Song

... but it's hilarious. I missed it the first time around. Make sure you listen; you'll enjoy it.

Posted by David Mader at 10:44 PM | (1) | Back to Main

A Hypo for the Political Junkies

In light of Electoral Vote Predictor's suggestion that Democrats are leading almost across the board in Senate races, a question:

You're a major political party. You're guaranteed to hold one house of Congress. Would you prefer to win a) the other house of Congress or b) the White House? Explain. Does it matter which house you already control or stand to gain?

(That's how the hypos tend to be phrased in my casebooks, by the way, especially ConLaw. As an aside.)

(As another aside, I'm blogging from the bus-stop while waiting for my bus, and I have a 'very good' 48 Mbps connection. That's cool.)

Posted by David Mader at 05:53 PM | (1) | Back to Main

About That Global Test

Read this:

A LEAKED report has exposed the extent of alleged corruption in the United Nations’ oil-for-food scheme in Iraq, identifying up to 200 individuals and companies that made profits running into hundreds of millions of pounds from it.

The report largely implicates France and Russia, whom Saddam Hussein targeted as he sought support on the UN Security Council before the Iraq war. Both countries were influential voices against UN-backed action.

A senior UN official responsible for the scheme is identified as a major beneficiary. The report, marked “highly confidential”, also finds that the private office of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, profited from the cheap oil. Saddam’s regime awarded this oil during the run-up to the war when military action was being discussed at the UN.

I don't know whether the Bush campaign will be able to capitalize on this, but it certainly undermines John Kerry's 'global test' thesis.

And, back in the non-partisan world, it's also yet another reminder that America is one among a world of nations acting in their own self-interest. And yet note that - as far as we're aware - no major coalition member personalities are on the list.

Posted by David Mader at 12:52 PM | (0) | Back to Main

More on Those Rasumussen Numbers

In my debate post below I mention that Rasmussen has some numbers which contradict the prevailing 'Kerry won' meme:

--The latest Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll shows President George W. Bush with 49% of the vote and Senator John Kerry with 45%.

These results are based upon a survey of 3,000 Likely Voters conducted Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday afternoon. As a result, just over two-thirds of the interviews were conducted following Thursday night's Presidential Debate.

Interviews conducted on Friday and Saturday show Kerry with a one-point bounce so far since the debate. However, in post-debate interviews, Bush still leads 49% to 46%.

The debates did little to change voter perceptions of the candidates' political ideology. However, following the debate, there was an increase in the number who say finishing the mission in Iraq is more important than getting troops home as soon as possible.

Six percent (6%)% of voters say they changed their minds following the debate. This includes 3% who are now voting for Kerry, 2% for Bush, and 1% who are now undecided.

Also have a look at these numbers, which show a five-point bump among those who believe it's more important to finish the job in Iraq than to bring the troops home early. I suspect that's partly a result of the stronger line Kerry took (remember, I haven't seen the debate, so I'm working on second-hand impressions). If that's the case, it adds yet another challenge for Kerry, who must be consistently pro-'finishing-the-job' in the next two debates in order to avoid another 'flip-flop' in the eyes of a small but significant chunk of the electorate.

Posted by David Mader at 12:46 PM | (0) | Back to Main

The Debate

I didn't see it, as it fell on the second night of Sukkoth, so everything I know about it comes from after-the-fact commentary and reporting. (I should also note that I did a whole pile of reading last night, and forgot [um, or didn't bother] to collect links, so this will be largely unlinked. Sorry.)

My approach proved quite useful in tracking reaction and in highlighting the importance of spin in post-debate discussion. Most immediate reaction to the debate seemed to judge it a tie - neither candidate performing exceptionally, neither slipping up, neither going in for the rhetorical kill. The partisans all held for their man, and (perhaps consistently) many papers, including the Washington Post, scored the affair a draw.

But there was a considerable amount of spin that subsequently scored the draw a win for Kerry. Most of it had to do with expectation. Kerry has been painted as a flip-flopper for the better part of three months, and his ability to press a single message relatively concisely during the debate undermined that perception in the eyes of voters who had not been exposed to Kerry to date. Post-debate polling seemed to support this, with a clear majority of viewers calling Kerry the 'winner'.

I put winner in quotes because many of those same polls suggested that while viewers thought Kerry outperformed Bush, they still gave Bush stronger marks on factors including 'agrees with me on the issues' and 'would be a strong leader'. In other words, there may be a degree of miscommunication in those post-debate numbers, and Kerry supporters should be careful not to overestimate their significance.

On the other hand, Bush supporters should be careful not to underestimate same. Newsweek's latest poll now has Kerry up two points at 47%. It's not clear how reliable the poll is - it's a three-day rolling, only one day of which came after the debate, and Rasmussen's three-day roller from the same days has Bush up two. [Note: Rasmussen's Sunday poll has Bush up 49-45, notwithstanding a one-point bump for Kerry. See RasmussenReports.Com.] But it's probably safe to say that Kerry will enjoy a slight bounce from his performance at the debate, and will narrow the race even if he doesn't quite draw even.

So where does it leave us? We won't know the precise effect of the debates until some time later this week [although see the Rasmussen Sunday numbers above]. But we can speculate on expectation. If Kerry benefitted from the flip-flop characterization going into last Thursday's debate, his 'strong' performance gives Bush the underdog edge going into the town-hall debate on Friday. And given the almost universally poor reviews of the president's performance last week, it's now Bush who more or less has to show up (and not sigh so much) to have a strong night.

Moreover, if - as many have speculated - Kerry benefitted by presenting a coherent and consistent voice to voters who had never been exposed to him before, his challenge in the coming debates will be to maintain that consistency. If the short time limits last Thursday helped him remain pithy, subsequent debates provide an opportunity for him to expand on his comments - and it's in that kind of explanation that he tends to over-nuance to the point of self-contradiction. He's more or less bound to stick to last Thursday's script for the next two debates, because a contradictory statement - given his characterization as a flip-flopper - would likely be pounced on by Republicans and pundits alike.

Closing thoughts: I'm less confident now that at any time since before the Democratic Convention in July [although Rasmussen's numbers are comforting]. It will be some time before we see the impact of the debate in the state numbers, which are - thanks (and I mean thanks) to the electoral college - the numbers that count. It's pretty clear that, as many on the right predicted before the debate, Big Media has chosen to frame the first debate as the 'turning point' and the start of Kerry's comeback. That narrative has been helped along by Kerry's positive reviews. Whether it's an accurate assessment, the debate should remind all parties that this election is far from over.

Posted by David Mader at 12:41 PM | (4) | Back to Main

That Scalia Business

So here's my question: understanding that I'm a fan of the Supreme Court Justice, and noting that I wouldn't have too much of a problem if he really were objectively pro-orgy, and accepting notwithstanding the immediately-previous point that he probably was joking,

what's the joke?

I mean, is it a sort of ha-ha funny, knee-slap-inducing witticism that I, slack-jawed and dim-witted I, simply don't understand? Is it the sort of Harvard whisky-and-cigars remark that's just far too subtle for us Texas country yokels to understand?

What's the joke? Hi, I'm Tony Scalia, I'm a social conservative who believes in originalism and judicial restraint, I'd like my court to reconsider Roe, oh, and, get this, I think orgies relieve tension and should be encouraged! Get it?

See, it's sort of, uh, not funny in the way that a 'joke' usually is. Or what am I missing?

Posted by David Mader at 01:14 AM | (5) | Back to Main

It's Always Nifty...

... when you're doing background research on a prospective professor and you find that he co-wrote a law review article with both Glenn Reynolds and Eugene Volokh. In 1998.

Just sayin. Between the festival of Sukkoth and a pretty bad cold, I've been laid low these past few days. More to come in good time.

Posted by David Mader at 12:19 AM | (1) | Back to Main