Category Archives: Political Commentary

Misleading Polls

I always get irritated when I see opinion polls, particularly on elections. One of the most misleading questions, in my opinion, is the one on “right track, wrong track” or “presidential approval.” There is always a presumption, that I don’t think is necessarily valid, that this translates automatically into prospects for the reelection of the incumbent. This is probably because the people who do the polls tend to think that voters are really as binary as the myth of the two-party system would indicate.

Perhaps I’m atypical, but you would not be able to figure out how I was going to vote on the basis of my answers to those questions.

I think that the country is on the wrong track, and has been so for decades. I disapprove of the president’s performance in many areas. If you asked me those questions, I’d answer, “wrong track” and “disapprove.”

Does that mean that I’m going to vote for John Kerry in November? Many would infer that, but there’s no logical reason to do so. Almost all of the issues on which I think that we’re on the “wrong track,” and of which I disapprove of the administration policy, would be vastly worse in a Democrat administration.

The polls don’t seem to take into account the fact that many (or at least some) voters will be holding their nose in the booth and voting for the lesser of two evils, as the result of the evil of two lessers, which renders those poll questions, if not meaningless, extremely misleading.

But They Have Such Spiffy Uniforms

Many airports want to return to private security screening.

To gauge how well federal screeners were doing, Congress ordered five commercial airports to use privately employed screeners who are hired, trained, paid and tested to TSA standards. Those airports are in San Francisco; Rochester, N.Y.; Tupelo, Miss.; Jackson, Wyo.; and Kansas City, Mo. A report comparing the performance of both kinds of screeners is due next month.

John Martin, airport director at San Francisco International Airport, said screeners are hired and trained more quickly there than at airports with government screeners.

“Bottom line: we don’t have long lines at San Francisco,” he said.

I’ll look forward to seeing the report.

Birds Of A Feather

Sounds like Mr. Clarke will fit right in with the Kerry campaign.

He says he agreed with the president’s policy before he disagreed with it, and that he thought there was a Clinton plan after he thought there wasn’t. And that he implemented the Bush policy at the time, before he didn’t.

Which Dick Clarke are we supposed to believe? The one who’s just got a new book out in an election year, after not getting the plumb administration job he wanted, or the one who was the administration spokesman at the time? I’m so confused.

[Update on Thursday]

David Reinhard has some good questions:

He’s worked under four presidents — three Republicans, one Democrat — at the highest levels. He was a counterterrorism official when the war on terror began. He’s making grave charges. What he says should be taken seriously. Except the disgraceful Clarke has made that impossible.

Consider the timing and context of his charges. If they’re true, why did he wait so long to make them? Why didn’t he make them the day he resigned his post in the Bush administration? A presidential dereliction of duty so vast would have required no less.

If he wanted his allegations treated seriously, why did Clarke make them in a book published in the middle of a presidential campaign in which his pal, Rand Beers, happens to be the top foreign policy adviser to John Kerry? If Clarke didn’t see the need to make his charges right after he left the administration, why didn’t he make them in an interview or think-tank seminars after the election? That way Clarke couldn’t be accused of having a financial or political motive. This offended official’s charges could be examined solely on their merits.

[One more follow up]

This one is a little surprising due to the source–Time magazine. Mr. Clarke does indeed seem to be at war with himself.

[Friday update]

Lileks has some thoughts on this, and the media coverage of it.

The Uncommon Touch

Hugh Hewitt explains why Senator John “I voted for it before I voted against it” Effing Kerry will lose this fall.

And I loved this part of Dick Cheney’s speech yesterday, in which he gutted the putative Democrat nominee’s “nuance” like a Rocky Mountain trout.

A few days ago in Pennsylvania, a voter asked Senator Kerry directly who these foreign leaders are. Senator Kerry said, “That’s none of your business.” (Laughter.) But it is our business when a candidate for President claims the political endorsement of foreign leaders. At the very least, we have a right to know what he is saying to foreign leaders that makes them so supportive of his candidacy. American voters are the ones charged with determining the outcome of this election – not unnamed foreign leaders…

… Senator Kerry speaks often about the need for international cooperation, and has vowed to usher in a “golden age of American diplomacy.” He is fond of mentioning that some countries did not support America’s actions in Iraq. Yet of the many nations that have joined our coalition – allies and friends of the United States – Senator Kerry speaks with open contempt. Great Britain, Australia, Italy, Spain, Poland, and more than 20 other nations have contributed and sacrificed for the freedom of the Iraqi people. Senator Kerry calls these countries, quote, “window dressing.” They are, in his words, “a coalition of the coerced and the bribed.”

Many questions come to mind, but the first is this: How would Senator Kerry describe Great Britain – coerced, or bribed? Or Italy – which recently lost 19 citizens, killed by terrorists in Najaf – was Italy’s contribution just window dressing? If such dismissive terms are the vernacular of the golden age of diplomacy Senator Kerry promises, we are left to wonder which nations would care to join any future coalition. He speaks as if only those who openly oppose America’s objectives have a chance of earning his respect.

Another Foreign Leader For Kerry

Anti-semitic loon Mahathir Mohamad has endorsed him.

“I think Kerry would be much more willing to listen to the voices of people and of the rest of the world,” Mahathir, who retired in October after 22 years in power, told The Associated Press in an interview.

“But in the U.S., the Jewish lobby is very strong, and any American who wants to become president cannot change the policy toward Palestine radically,” he said.

[Update at 3 PM PST]

I guess that Mr. Kerry isn’t thrilled with that particular endorsement. In fact, now he’s finally caught a clue, and changed his tune (what a shock):

To Heck With That Pesky First Amendment

This is one of the many reasons that I don’t like the Bush administration, though there’s no reason to suppose that a Democrat would be any better (Clinton certainly wasn’t). The “Drug Czar” says:

John Walters, in Las Vegas to push for a crackdown on the abuse of prescriptions drugs, said legalizing marijuana is “not an area for legitimate debate.”

No, it’s only an area for spewing nonsense by imperious federal officials.

Extropian On The Lam

I used to be fairly close to Keith Henson (who is, among other things, co-founder of the L-5 Society), back in the late seventies and early eighties, but I haven’t heard from him since he took refuge in Canada, a few years ago, from an adverse court judgement in his little war with the Scientologists. So I found this interview with him [via Clark Lindsey] quite interesting. You may as well.