Monday, November 29, 2004

Dino Rossi Interim Update

Nov. 29: The Longview Daily News calls on Gregoire to concede:

"A 42-vote margin, my friends, that is a tied race." So said Christine Gregoire, the Democratic candidate for Washington governor, after coming out on the losing side of that 42-vote margin last Wednesday.

She is wrong. A zero-vote margin, that is a tie. To have more than 2.8 million votes cast in a race and have the difference come down to a mere 42 votes is amazing. Statistically astounding. And, no doubt, excruciating, if you're on the wrong end of that number. But it is not a tie....

The Daily News endorsed Gregoire for governor. We still believe she was the best candidate. Almost half the voters in the state agreed with us. Almost. We now believe the state would be headed down a path of bitter partisanship that would not serve us well over the next four years if repeated counts were to turn the governorship over to Gregoire....

If the ballots in King County are recounted by hand we can expect bickering, bullying and lawsuits aplenty for Christmas. Reminiscent of the Florida presidential mess in 2000, we'll have political partisans peering over the shoulders of elections officials as determinations are made as to a voter's "intent." Should that slight pencil mark near the Gregoire oval be counted? Should that dimple go to Dino?

If Gregoire and the Democrats insist on putting us through this, we ask that Gregoire pay to have the entire state recounted. It wouldn't be a bad political strategy on her part, considering that outside King County the results probably wouldn't change much. On the other hand, if the recounting is done only in King County and she picks up the votes she needs to pull ahead, taxpayers are automatically on the hook to pay for a hand recount of the rest of the state.

But it would be better for all if Gregoire took the proper step and avoided all that. It's time for Christine Gregoire to swallow hard and congratulate Dino Rossi for his victory in an historically close race.

Update, Nov. 30: The Everett Herald agrees:

The votes have been counted and recounted. Both times, Rossi was the winner. Gregoire should take the high road and concede, rather than putting up more roadblocks to an effective transition.

And we can be glad Edward David Perrotti isn't designing airplanes:

Ask any engineer at Boeing. Dino Rossi is not the winner. It has to do with the science of quality control....

Count one, the gap was 261, in favor of Rossi. Count two the gap was shrunk to 42, in favor of Rossi....

Take the 261 and subtract the 42. This number (219) is the inherent rate of change of the error in the election. It is likely to expect that on the next count, the gap will reverse, by this same number....

A third and final hand count, controlled and with inspectors, should result in a 177-vote win for Christine Gregoire.

Do the math. This is not rocket science.

But, as Sound Politics wisely points out:

The theory that every recount would produce a constant increase in Gregoire's lead is interesting, but would also predict surprising results -- For example, after 38 more recounts, Gregoire would increase her lead to 8,280, and she would need only 6,268 recounts to make her victory unanimous.

Do the math. This is not rocket science. Clearly, Edward David Perrotti is no rocket scientist. Neither are the editors of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, who deemed this letter worthy of publication.

Mr. Perrotti seems to be retired, but we can thank God that it doesn't look like he continued his pursuit of a career in Aeronautical Engineering, opting instead for the ambiguous world of finance.

Reforming the U.N.

They're still talking about reforming the U.N., mainly by throwing a whole bunch more countries into the Security Council. What they have yet to ask is how adding more members, possibly including veto power, is going to make the Security Council any less obstructionist.

From the New York Times, the scramble begins:

"For every country you can name," [a British Foreign Office minister] said, "there are two or three next in line who feel their positions entitle them to frustrate the process."

In Africa, the leading contestants are South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt. In the Americas, Mexico and Argentina will have doubts about the primacy of Brazil. In Asia, Pakistan can be expected to oppose India, and China is wary of admitting Japan and, with its veto, could single-handedly keep Tokyo out.

Egypt wants Arab and Muslim permanent representation on the Council while Indonesia pressed its case this fall to be considered the voice of what its foreign minister, Hassan Wirajuda, called "moderate Islam."

Italy, which does not want to be the only major Western European country without permanent representation on the Council, has publicly sought to undermine Germany's candidacy. It suggests instead that there be a seat for the European Union, although the charter at the moment recognizes only nation states, not groups of states, as members.

Of course, more obstructionism in the U.N. may not be such a bad thing. It could help us find a better road, like the Caucus of Democracies:

Since the U.N.'s creation, millions have been killed, maimed, starved, tortured or raped by brutal rulers whose governments nevertheless wield great influence in the U.N. General Assembly and the Security Council....

The U.N. today remains far short of realizing its potential or its stated aspirations. Its direction and control have been hijacked by authoritarian regimes, the relics of yesterday. We must work diligently toward realizing its original goals: freedom, democracy and human rights for all the peoples of the world. Until then, with our national values and security at stake, we must not permit our interests to be diverted and undermined by the unprincipled.

At a minimum, it is essential that the U.S. take the lead in establishing and strengthening a Caucus of Democratic States committed to advancing the U.N.'s assigned role for world peace, human dignity and democracy. The recently established Community of Democracies (CD) has called for this move, a recommendation jointly supported in a recent report by the Council on Foreign Relations and Freedom House....

A strong case may be made for the need for an international body to which all of the world's states, democratic and authoritarian, belong. Discussion and constructive exchange may flow from it. But let us not bestow on it the appearance of being a forum of principle or wisdom qualified to judge the dimension of our national welfare and value. The changes necessary in the U.N. will be difficult to achieve, and some may not be achieved at all. But the impetus for such change must be a commitment to human rights and democracy. We should put Kofi Annan's statement to the test: "When the U.N. can truly call itself a Community of Democracies, the Charter's noble ideas of protecting human rights . . . will have been brought much closer."

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Rossi Wins! - Twice!

Nov. 24: Rossi Wins! Again! Democrats call it a "tie".
Democratic King County elections official says "the machine count is going to be more accurate than a manual count."

Nov. 23, 5:20pm: Recount Update: Rossi has a net gain of 55 votes from 36 counties representing 64% of all votes, for a total lead of 316. Sound Politics provides timely analysis of the situation, including some magical mystery ballots discovered in Snohomish County as well as the ongoing selective hand-count in King County. We're still waiting on results from King, Kitsap, and Whitman counties.

Nov. 17, 7pm: Rossi wins by 261; headed for recount.

8,140 votes were counted today (2,013 more than the counties previously projected). Benton County (where Rossi leads by almost 40 points) finally reported in at 6:33, putting Rossi over the top. Secretary of State Sam Reed had already declared there would be a recount.

Nov. 16:

Despite King County's "discovery" of around 10,000 magical mystery ballots and Grays Harbor's "oops we counted those twice" revelation, Rossi managed to eke out a 19 vote lead today (from 158 votes behind yesterday).

If the remaining 6,127 ballots both (1) exist and (2) follow the pattern of all previous ballots, Rossi will win by 599 (requiring a statewide recount).

When this is all over, there should be an investigation into the King County elections office. Our one consolation is that least this year they shouldn't be able to be sitting in there eating chads.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Road Trip Across America, the Sequel?

The Next Road Trip Across America?


NEW ORLEANS - Beginning in January, die-hard Republicans can drive coast to coast without ever passing through a state run by a Democratic governor.

In large part, they have Gov. Bob Taft to thank.

Likewise, President Bush would not be planning for his second inauguration in January were it not for Ohio and Taft, a fact acknowledged by Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser, when he led the Republican Governors Association in a standing ovation for Taft at a recent dinner.

As chairman of the group, Taft guided a nationwide fund-raising effort that netted a record $18.3 million, two-thirds of which fueled governors' races in 11 key states. The Republican Governors Association became the top Republican "527" fund-raising organization in the country this year.

Republicans won nine of 11 governorships, including three states -- Indiana, Missouri and Washington -- which had not had a GOP governor in more than a decade. They lost two races, including incumbent Gov. Craig Benson in New Hampshire, and Montana, where the seat was open.

Republicans now control governorships in 29 of 50 states, covering 65 percent of the U.S. population....

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Ukraine: Polarization and Democracy

And they say the U.S. is polarized...

From "Ukraine's Democratic Strengths", by Stephen Sestanovich:

In last month's first round, two-thirds of Ukraine's 27 regions preferred one of the two finalists to the other by a margin exceeding 3 to 1. Yushchenko, strongest in western Ukraine, won 10 of these lopsided contests; Yanukovych, an easterner, won eight. In five regions, the gap was more than 10 to 1 -- and in some places it approached 30 to 1.

Yet Ukraine's very dividedness has turned out to be a crucial ingredient of its emergent democratic success. To be sure, after every election (no matter who wins) a large portion of the public feels deeply estranged from its leaders. That may be bad for national identity and civic consciousness, but it has so far been good for democracy. In Ukraine, merely winning an election doesn't enable you to put your opponents out of business -- something that, across the former Soviet Union, incumbents have had no trouble doing. The country's divisions give losers a political base that can't be taken away.


Ukraine is sometimes treated as a "halfway" country of Eastern Europe -- less burdened by Soviet legacies than Russia, but not able to throw off the past as easily as countries that were never part of the U.S.S.R. There is much truth in this description, but it is wrong about one thing: popular attitudes. Perhaps because they are so divided, Ukrainians actually have more democratic views than almost any other post-communist country.

When pollsters from Pew Research Center's 2003 Global Attitudes Project asked people in Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria and Russia their view of a series of democratic norms, they found that Ukrainians came in first in their support for fair elections, a fair judiciary, freedom of the press and free speech.

By the way, President Bush's greatest margins were 45 points in Utah (2.7 to 1) and 40 points in Wyoming (2.4 to 1). Kerry's were 81 points in DC (10 to 1) and 25 points in Massachusetts (1.7 to 1).

Update, Nov. 23: Ukrainian Leader Calls for Talks to Avert Violence:

KIEV, Ukraine — Outgoing President Leonid Kuchma called for negotiations in Ukraine's spiraling political crisis Tuesday, hours after the leader of the opposition declared himself the winner of a disputed presidential election to the approval of tens of thousands of protesters....

Update, Nov. 24: U.S. Rejects Ukraine Vote Outcome.

Update, Nov. 29: Behind the Scenes at Kiev's Rally.

Update, Dec. 4: Ukraine Prepares for New Election.

Update, Dec. 7: Doctors at the Austrian Clinic That Treated Ukraine’s Opposition Leader Confirm There Was a Plot to Kill Him.

Update, Dec. 26: Yushchenko Declares Victory.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Let's Have a Good Old-Fashioned Filibuster

I still like the idea of having structures like the Senate that slow down the government, but these "filibusters" where Senators don't do anything more than refuse to vote are just cowardly. If they want to fight, let's have a good old-fashioned filibuster, a spectacle before the cameras. As Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute puts it:

Back in the 1950s, when filibusters against civil rights bills were almost routine, the Senate would force the filibusterers to take to the floor and go around the clock, bringing the Senate to a halt and letting the public see what was going on. The way to overcome intense minorities is to do just that. If anything, the live television feeds on C-SPAN would make the images even more resounding today. If the filibusterers' actions are outrageous and unsupportable, let the public react. Their resolve will eventually be broken.

Last year, Senate Republicans took a faux step in this direction with a 35-hour debate to highlight the issue. But it wasn't serious.

So get serious. When Democrats filibuster Miguel Estrada or Priscilla Owen, make them take to the Senate floor around the clock. Stop every other Senate action. Set up cots outside the Senate floor, just as Johnson, then-Majority Leader, did in 1957 and 1958. The press will eat up the drama.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Arafat's Legacy

Charles Krauthammer, in the Washington Post, reviews the legacy of Egyptian Terrorist Yasser Arafat:

Arafat invented modern terrorism: airplane hijackings, kidnappings and the spectacular mass murder, like the Olympic massacre of 1972. Others had tried it. Arafat perfected it. He turned terrorism into a brilliantly successful political instrument, a vehicle to international recognition and respect. The man who murdered more innocent Jews than anyone since Hitler died an international hero. The president of France bowed to his casket. The secretary general ordered U.N. flags to fly at half-staff.

Jeff Jacoby, in the Boston Globe adds:

YASSER ARAFAT died at age 75, lying in bed surrounded by familiar faces. He left this world peacefully, unlike the thousands of victims he sent to early graves.

In a better world, the PLO chief would have met his end on a gallows, hanged for mass murder much as the Nazi chiefs were hanged at Nuremberg.


It would take an encyclopedia to catalog all of the evil Arafat committed. But that is no excuse for not trying to recall at least some of it.

Perhaps his signal contribution to the practice of political terror was the introduction of warfare against children. On one black date in May 1974, three PLO terrorists slipped from Lebanon into the northern Israeli town of Ma'alot. They murdered two parents and a child whom they found at home, then seized a local school, taking more than 100 boys and girls hostage and threatening to kill them unless a number of imprisoned terrorists were released. When Israeli troops attempted a rescue, the terrorists exploded hand grenades and opened fire on the students. By the time the horror ended, 25 people were dead; 21 of them were children.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Importing Price Controls

Mark Steyn, covering the Presidential campaign for the Chicago Sun-Times, had this to say about drug "reimportation." It sums up the ignored reality of the issue pretty well:

...if there's four words I never want to hear again, it's "prescription drugs from Canada." I'm Canadian, so I know a thing or two about prescription drugs from Canada. Specifically speaking, I know they're American; the only thing Canadian about them is the label in French and English. How can politicians from both parties think that Americans can get cheaper drugs simply by outsourcing (as John Kerry would say) their distribution through a Canadian mailing address? U.S. pharmaceutical companies put up with Ottawa's price controls because it's a peripheral market. But, if you attempt to extend the price controls from the peripheral market of 30 million people to the primary market of 300 million people, all that's going to happen is that after approximately a week and a half there aren't going to be any drugs in Canada, cheap or otherwise -- just as the Clinton administration's intervention into the flu-shot market resulted in American companies getting out of the vaccine business entirely.