My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


More Education Observations

Linda Seebach is an editorial writer for the Rocky Mountain News, and, as such, is one of the sharpest voices in this region on issues educational. She tends to come at it from the center--that is, she seems to be sympathetic to public education, but is far from being an apologist for teachers' unions or for a failing establishment.

And on Saturday she did her usual good work tearing apart the latest "gloom-and-doom" report on the state of education:

I just hate it when some think tank whose work I very much admire - that would be the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, which is devoted to improving education - embarks on a silly exercise of a kind I very much dislike - that would be ranking the states according to some ad hoc grading scheme that assigns grades to each of a bunch of disparate indicators, computes the average and presents the results as if they mean something.

Which, of course, is something that could be said about most such exercises, especially the ones that try to compare American education to foreign counterparts.

There are three main categories, one for current performance, one for trends over the last 15 years, and one catch-all category of education reforms. . . .

The press release notes that only eight states have made even moderate progress over the last 15 years in improving academic performance for these poor and minority students, and that five of those states are among the top 10 according to the grades Fordham awarded for education reform. Hardly enough data points to show "that solid standards, tough accountability, and greater school choice can yield better classroom results."

At most, it's a weak correlation.

Which, also, can probably said for most such studies.

Look, I think it's difficult to make the case that the American education system is perfect: just look at the enrollment in remedial classes at the University level and you'll understand that we seem to be underserving our clientele.

On the other hand, I think we're expecting too much from the schools. At this point in our society, we are asking the public schools to, in effect, take a bushel of bruised apples, some moldy strawberries, a batch of blueberries, a handful of crabapples, some nice oranges, a couple really outstanding grapefruits, and all the critters that come with fresh fruit, and turn the whole collection into, at minimum, a roughly homogenous, decent group of bananas.

At some point, we're going to recognize that not every kid is cut out for college; that not every job actually requires a college education; that some of the most important people in society are the ones who can keep our computers running (which wouldn't take a college degree); and that there ACTUALLY ARE differences in both the potential and the ability to achieve that potential among children in our society--AND THAT'S OKAY. It might just be better for everybody if we spent a little more time teaching job skills and preparing some students for the workforce.

But that's just me. . . .


It Doesn't Take Much To Paint the Whole Movement

I know a lot of people who home-school their children. In almost every case, the reason they do so is to get their children away from the PC indoctrination that seems to come along with public school attendance these days.

But, apparently, not in every case . . . .

On weekdays, during what are normal school hours for most students, the Billings children do what they want. One recent afternoon, time passed loudly, and without order or lessons, in their home in a North Side neighborhood here.

Hayden Billings, 4, put a box over his head and had fun marching into things. His sister Gaby, 9, told stories about medieval warrior women, while Sydney, 6, drank hot chocolate and played with Dylan, the baby of the family.

In a traditional school setting, such free time would probably be called recess. But for Juli Walter, the children’s mother, it is “child-led learning,” something she considers the best in home schooling. . . .

As the number of children who are home-schooled grows — an estimated 1.1 million nationwide — some parents like Ms. Walter are opting for what is perhaps the most extreme application of the movement’s ideas. They are “unschooling” their children, a philosophy that is broadly defined by its rejection of the basic foundations of conventional education, including not only the schoolhouse but also classes, curriculums and textbooks.

Also revealed in this article is the little tidbit that only 25 states even have testing requirements for home schoolers.

Now, two things emerge from this article for me:

:one: isn't this sort of what the establishment thinks all home schoolers do, anyway? As such, wouldn't it be useful for this movement to come up with some metrics to establish the viability of this program? Otherwise, it sure does make the whole idea look goofy; which, in turn, casts a bit of a shadow on all home schoolers.

:two: kinda makes you wonder what the NYTimes' motivation is in running this article. Oh, never mind . . .


A First Step? Or a Misdirection?

Rep. Morgan Carroll (D-Denver) will introduce legislation in January to require the '527s' to report their beneficiaries every month, rather than each quarter as currently required by federal law.

This seems fairly straightforward--even obvious. A little transparency in how the ugliness John McCain left us is a good thing.

But . . . .

Now that they've seized the reins of power, isn't it logical that the first thing they might do is protect their flank? After all, the most effective 527 in the 2004 election was the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth. So why not act to cut off that possibility in the future?

Of course, they seem to have little to fear in Colorado. The Right doesn't seem able to mount a credible campaign for this state, and it could be years before we're capable of competing again. And with all the big money on the Left, there's no way of knowing where the ammunition is going to come from.

But on a national level, I'm just waiting for the first revisions of BCRA to come out of the Congress. It will, no doubt, be shepherded through the Senate by John McCain, who has shown an all-too-frightening willingness to surrender on behalf of the Republican Party. I hope I'm wrong, but . . .

Of All The Stupid Things To Say . . .

President Bush is rather famous--or notorious--for mangling the English language. But once upon a time he spoke rather clearly on one subject:

"I looked the man [Vladimir Putin] in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue.

"I was able to get a sense of his soul. "


Feel any need to add to and/or revise those statements, Mr. President?

A rare radioactive substance killed an ex-KGB spy turned Kremlin critic, the British government said Friday. In a dramatic statement written before he died, the man called Russian President Vladimir Putin "barbaric and ruthless" and blamed him personally for the poisoning.

Or . . .

Russia has delivered the first batch of some 29 anti-aircraft missile systems to Iran, a Russian newsagency reported Friday. The consignment is part of a 1.4 billion dollar deal signed by the two countries several months ago, Interfax said. The missiles systems are intended to protect Iran's controversial nuclear plants, the agency said.

Russia may no longer be able to stand toe-to-toe with the U.S., as it did during the late 20th century; but it most certainly still has the ability to move the chess pieces around the board, and seems intent on running blocking actions against American interests wherever it can.


The Religion Of Peace Strikes Again

These are abominations of everything we recognize as civilized.

--Revenge-seeking Shiite militiamen seized six Sunnis as they left Friday prayers, drenched them with kerosene and burned them alive, and Iraqi soldiers did nothing to stop the attack, . . .

This on the tails of . . .

--In the deadliest sectarian attack in Baghdad since the U.S.-led invasion, explosions from five powerful car bombs and a mortar shell tore through crowded intersections and marketplaces in the teeming Shiite district of Sadr City on Thursday afternoon, killing at least 144 people and wounding 206, police said [the number of dead is now 216]

And just to add to the fun . . .

--A Palestinian grandmother blew herself up in the Gaza Strip, lightly wounding three Israeli soldiers, in the first suicide attack claimed by Hamas in almost two years.

The mother of nine and grandmother of 41 became the oldest Palestinian suicide bomber at the age of 57,

Keep in mind that every person--EVERY ONE--who died as a result of these attacks was a Muslim. That's right, they just can't find the gates of Heaven fast enough to find out if the stories are correct.

Of course, the bombers themselves will never find out just what is in Heaven. Perhaps some of the childeren murdered in the marketplace will be able to greet them at the gates and point them in the right direction.

It is almost inconceivable that any society this enamored of death could either be defeated, or could ever manage to rule the caliphate they hope to recreate. Until some voices of reason start to emerge from the greater Muslim community, I'm afraid that they rather deserve the scorn and mistrust with which they are often greeted.

Oh, and, by the way, of all the mistakes committed by the U.S in Iraq, are any of them more important than the decision not to take out Muqtada al-Sadr when we had him holed up in a mosque early on in the war?


If It's Already Been Said Perfectly, Don't Add To It

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a. . . war . . ., which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Interesting Question

Raised by, of all things, a television show.

Warning: quota of hypotheticals soon to be vastly exceeded.

One of the few shows I find worth watching on television is Criminal Minds. It strikes me as smart, with a good ensemble cast, and a little bit of a darker take on the traditional crime drama.

Tonight's show was particularly compelling. It centered around the cast trying desperately to thwart a terrorist attack by, on one side, interviewing a detainee at Gitmo, and on the other side chasing down leads and nearly getting blown up by a false lead.

It is television, so, of course, there were the obligatory mindless references to the "inhumane" conditions at Gitmo and the nobility of the FBI insisting on doing things by Marquis of Queensbury rules.

But the interesting thing for me was how, at the end of the episode when the FBI, of course, thwarted the attack, they showed a clip of a news report mis-reporting the thwarted attack as a failed robbery. And it led me to this question:

How many successful interdictions has the government covered up, and, if so, why?

It seems to me ludicrous to think that we haven't stopped any attacks, since, of course, we haven't been attacked. So why haven't we heard too much about them? Have all of the plots been stopped in the early stages, like Lackawanna?

And I was trying to imagine why the government would cover up such an attack, if they have. I suppose the obvious answer is to prevent a panic. We've seen how the economy grounds to a halt and behavior patterns change; so maybe the smart thing would be to cover up.

On the other hand, we do seem to be slipping far far back into a September 10th mentality, so maybe it would be good to now just how dangerous the world is. And I don't think its possible that the world will be getting any safer now, given how the Middle East seems to be slipping towards regional conflict.

So it brings me to the thought that maybe, just maybe, it would behoove the administration to reveal a little bit about what sort of threats it has stopped in the last five years. Complacency is an easy, happy--and dangerous--mindset, but it does seem to be the default position for the media, the Left, and much of America.


File This One Under "No Duh!"

And, surprise of surprises, it comes to us from the world of public education.

Large numbers of students diagnosed with learning disabilities could be helped by better reading instruction, particularly in the lower grades, state education officials believe.

More than 30,000 Colorado students are considered learning disabled - the largest handicap category among the state's 83,000 special education students. Numbers are similar in other states.

But educators now believe most of those students aren't handicapped at all. . . .

Steinberg believes that more than 50 percent of learning disabled students are misclassified.

Of course they are. It's ludicrous to think that the category "learning disabled" has exploded to encompass 38% of all special education students in the state, and that the problem is this brand new handicap that nobody ever heard of before. And, I think what's most infuriating for the public is the amount of money that IS REQUIRED by federal law to be spent on getting interventions to these students who ARE NOT HANDICAPPED.

Let me say that again: if the public knew how much of their tax dollar went to getting special services for kids who, essentially, are either [sorry--non-PC moment coming] dumb or lazy or who were poorly taught in 1st grade, they would never pass a mill levy election again.

Are learning disabilities real? Absolutely. Dyslexia leaps to mind--a neurological condition which impedes the students' ability to absorb, understand, and act upon information.

But there is a vast world of difference between dyslexia and a student who struggles to read in the fourth grade because he wasn't taught well in first grade, was never read to at home as a child, and whose parents never bothered to notice that the kid couldn't read the instructions to the Halo 3 game they bought him, but which keeps him occupied seven hours a day.

Look, I'm not just some guy mouthing off about public education. I'm in the trenches every day. And I see hard working kids with legitimate handicaps who are working their tails off to overcome them; I also see otherwise perfectly normal kids who are either so inattentive (and, NO, that doesn't mean they're ADHD!) or so completely disengaged as to render their output unrecognizable for their age group. One of my best friends in college, and one of the finest musicians and teachers in the state now, had such horrible dyslexia that she could barely read a sixth grade reader, much less the music that was her passion. BUT SHE WORKED TO OVERCOME--and has made quite a nice life and reputation for herself. These misdiagnosed students aren't likely to make such a nice recovery.

But here's the thing: I actually have a solution!!

Education needs to get away from the idea of age-level grouping. And I don't mean the standard conservative line about ending age promotion. I meant ending age-level grouping altogether.

When a child enters school, test them for their abilities. Then place them with students of similar ability, and begin to instruct them. When they achieve whatever benchmarks have been established, move them to the next level.

If they finish twelve years' worth of work, get them enrolled in college classes--if that happens sooner than twelve years, then so be it. They deserve to have the state pay for their college.

Some accountability for students and their families HAS to be restored to the system. It's altogether too easy--and this comes mostly from the Right--to blame schools and teachers for failing the students. And while there is certainly a component of that in play, to place all the blame in that way absolves the family of responsibility in a way that guarantees eventual student failure.


Media Lies and Mis- or non- Representations

In case you missed these two bits of news from Thursday:

Scientists for the first time have grown human heart valves using stem cells from the fluid that cushions babies in the womb - offering a revolutionary approach that may be used to repair defective hearts in the future. . . .

The Swiss experiment follows recent successes at growing bladders and blood vessels and suggests that people may one day be able to grow their own replacement heart parts - in some cases, even before they're even born.

And . . .

In promising new research, stem cells worked remarkably well at easing symptoms of muscular dystrophy in dogs, an experiment that experts call a significant step toward treating people.

Two dogs that were severely disabled by the disease were able to walk faster and even jump after the treatments.

The study was published online Wednesday by the journal Nature. It used stem cells taken from the affected dogs or other dogs, rather than from embryos.

As near as I can tell, these two stories pretty much trump anything put out by the embryonic stem cell research community so far. And not by just a little bit.

I wonder if the media, who has been startlingly silent in covering the successes of non-embryonic stem cell research, will continue to stonewall during the almost inevitable national and statewide battles over embryonic stem cell funding. Because, of course, . . .

For human use, the idea of using such "adult" stem cells from humans would avoid the controversial method of destroying human embryos to obtain stem cells.

And, by the way, THEY ACTUALLY WORK!!!

Why Did The GOP in Colorado Lose Last Week?

And not to absolve them of fairly uninspiring campaigning, but . . .

from today's Rocky:

Independent political groups in Colorado raised more than $17 million to dominate this year's battle for control of state government.

Kinda makes you think it was a bi-lateral battle, doesn't it? Like both sides worked it pretty hard through the shadowy corridors of media 527's. Only a hint of reality shows up in paragraph 4:

And just like they did at the polls, Colorado Democrats swamped their Republicans counterparts in spending on races for governor and the state legislature.

Oh, well . . .as long as they limit it to just the state stuff, right? Not so fast . . .

Then you get this hint about how the balance played out . . .

Through last month, Democratic 527 groups had raised $10.8 million, compared with $6.4 million for Republican campaigns . . .

Oh, so it's not quite a fair fight, is it? Or is it?

. . .In the first three weeks of October alone, the independent groups from both sides of the political spectrum raised about $4.5 million. That's more than Democrat Bill Ritter raised during his successful campaign for governor.

Oh. Maybe it was balanced.

Democratic and Republican independent groups poured $1.23 million into four key state Senate races in just 25 days last month.

Sounds balanced still.

Republican and Democratic 527 committees spent about $1.5 million in the first 25 days in October on 11 key state House races

Uh-huh. Still balanced . . .

It isn't until paragraph 34--THIRTY-freakin'-FOUR-- that we find out exactly how the balance played out in the targeted state legislature races.

In all 15 targeted state House and Senate seats, the Democrats were able to outspend the Republicans - in some cases, by 4-to-1 ratios.

Further, in the companion piece and graphic today, we find this useful information [as of this moment, I haven't found the link--this is straight out of the paper]:

In October, the "Coloradans for Life" Committee (there's a bit of a deceptive name, don't you think?) spent $1.09 million on Democrats; that's only a little bit less than the $1.24 million spent by the Trailhead Group on Republicans. Which is all well and good. Until you notice that ALL of the other Republican groups mustered a grand total of $154K in October; the Democratic groups spent over $2 million.

In October the Democratic 527s spent about $1 million on state Senate races, the Republicans a mere $236K; the Dems spent $1.2 mil on state House races, the Republicans a mere $304K.

On one race alone, that for State House District 55 the Democrat 527s spent $161K; the Republican 527s only managed $28K--a more than 5-1 discrepancy.

Where do the Democrats get all that money?

Well, other than Tim Gill and Pat Stryker, there's this beautiful piece of information which all the soccer moms who reflexively listen to the teachers' unions ought to know:

CEA and 3 local affiliates (JCEA, DCTA, BVEA) have given $256,000 to Main Street Colorado...CEA has given $200,000 to Citizens for Progress...CEA and affiliates have given $157,334, and AFT-Colorado $10,000, to Citizens for Colorado...CEA has given $74,300 to Clear Peak Colorado

Now, I'm no math major, but that amounts to . . . .let's see, carry the one . . .


That's more than any Republican 527 Group spent in total with the exception of the Trailhead Group and the slight exception of the Colorado Leadership Fund (which spent $743 K).

So, what are the lessons we must take from this news?

Well, for one, the Democrats have managed, through their surrogates, to buy this election. No, really. They bought this election. Thank you, Mr. McCain, for taking the money out of politics.

And, secondly,

"The Republicans historically were identified as the party of the wealthy individuals," political analyst Eric Sondermann said. "That has changed in the last decade."

And the Republicans have yet to figure out the way this new game is played.


Sitting down to watch the really big game today. I don't have any skin in this game, like Ben or Hugh, but Michigan-Ohio State is one of the great traditions in all of sports.

Personally, one of my favorite parts is the "Dotting of the I" in the script Ohio that the OSU band makes to complete the pregame festivities. I was actually a little disappointed today that the band missed an opportunity to do one of the truly classy acts ever: imagine if, instead of high-stepping out to the spot and marching the dot, if the sousaphone player had high-stepped to the spot and respectfully laid down a U of M ball cap in honor of Bo Schembechler.

Look, nobody understands the culture of the college band like me (yes, indeed, the limits to my geekiness know no bounds), and so the honor of "dotting the I" is THE moment for a college band member, especially if you're a sousaphone player--think of them as the offensive linemen of the band. So to do something like I suggest would be asking a LOT of somebody. But still, I think institutions, especially ones as tainted as college athletics of late, have an imperative to represent themselves as well as possible these days.

However, in a related thought, this is a great opportunity to list my favorite college football rituals. Feel free to suggest others, to criticize, to complain--it's what we do.

1. Dotting the I of the script Ohio
2. The marching in of the student bodies at the Army-Navy game
3. Chief Osceola's midfield war challenge for Florida State
4. The running of Ralphie the Buffalo at U of Colorado home games (you had to know that would be there)
5. The flyover of the F-16s at Air Force games
6. The entrance of the Irish Guard for the Notre Dame marching band--I've seen them close up; between fourteen and seventeen dour, kilted men all over 6'2" with an additional 18" of q-tip hat is an impressive sight

Have at 'em.


Spot On On Point

I draw your attention this morning to Vincent Carroll's perfect-pitch column in the Rocky this morning.

"Super-rich philanthropists Tim Gill and Pat Stryker spent a combined $6.5 million this year to push Colorado to the left."

- Rocky Mountain News, Nov. 9

Thank goodness Colorado voters passed Amendment 41 last week, shielding this state from the insidious possibility that a lobbyist might ply a lawmaker with a latte. Some of those voters might actually believe they've toppled Big Money from its political throne . . .

The sarcasm is wonderfully placed, and Carroll continues on to pose the exact right question:

Imagine that Gill decides next spring that he would like some face time with Gov. Bill Ritter, and dispatches a well-paid underling to request a meeting. Does anyone seriously doubt that Ritter would clear a spot on his calendar for this wealthy liberal activist who dispenses cash as freely as a Saudi sheik at a roulette table?

The only thing missing is a similar shot across the bow of John McCain and the oh-so-smug BCRA. Remember, Coloradans, that the access to power by the wealthy was a door opened by McCain/Feingold.


Easing Back In

Having come back from a self-imposed blog exile, I'll just ease back in with quick hits on some of the news of the last week.

--Rumsfeld resigns. Really?!?! Because he was responsible for the Congress' incompetence of the past two years? And then the timing. Like, what, it was crucial that he makes it to November, as opposed to accepting this resignation in July? I don't get it. This is just one more piece of evidence that the White House has lost its mojo.

--McCain To Form An Exploratory Committee. While the carcass of the Republican majority was still steaming in the foyer of the Capitol, John McCain was already thinking about himself. Nice leadership. Jerk.

--So what's the difference between him forming, and being called a jerk, and Guiliani forming, but getting a pass? The difference is that McCain had a role in his party's demise, and as a celebrity had a responsibility to help maintain that majority, and he failed.

--Republicans hurry back to Washington to elect leadership. Morons. As if licking their wounds in the company of the other wounded is a better idea than maybe getting out and talking to their constituents and figuring out what they screwed up and why they couldn't close the deal.

--A word of warning: two years ago the state of Colorado elected a Democratic state legislature to go with a Republican governor in the last two years of his term. The Dems were able to pass pretty unambitious, but populist, legislation which they and the press were able to make look like they were doing the people's business. This year, as a reward, the Dems were awarded larger majorities and a Democratic governor.

The path for the Democrats back to complete power in Washington is simple: eliminate earmarks, tighten up ethics rules, and try not to do or say anything to really tick off middle America. The Colorado formula is simple to follow, and it only requires two years of discipline and team-centered thinking.

Guess the Dems are pretty happy McCain isn't one of them.


Post-Mortem: Colorado

[I'm splitting my post-mortem into two sections: national and state. The reason for that will be clear in a minute, but I do see the two events separately.]

I blame John McCain.

Now, before you write that off as glib, or as yet another simple reflection of my dislike of the man, stick with me and let me elaborate.

First of all, I do recognize that the national mood against the GOP played a role here. But. . .

----I believe that, once Governor Owens became "cheerleader-in-chief" for Referendum C last fall, this campaign was a near inevitability.

In my short experience watching Colorado politics, it seems that the one issue which really drives Republican victories in this state is that of low-tax, small-government governance. Holding the Conervative line on spending and taxes and--yes, returning the excess to the taxpayers--has always been a winner in this state.

So when the Governor signed on to lead the charge to have the state keep our money, I think he severely weakened the ideological position of Republicans all around the state. And you could see how much it boxed in Bob Beauprez in the campaign--he was too weak in support of it, but he never made a case against it, and he got hammered in the primary from the right and hammere in the general from the left.

But the worst thing C did was to blur the distinction between the GOP and the Democrats.

So, why did Owens jump on this ship?

----Because he was working with a hostile legislature that had a good enough majority to do even worse things to TABOR. Politically, Ref C was a compromise position which allowed TABOR to stay in place, but let the state make up ground on the recession in a hurry. Turns out that the revenues to the state have been so good once things turned around that that was likely to happen all by itself pretty quickly, but at the time it looked like the smart political thing to do.

So, why did Owens have a hostile legislature?

----Because the Democrats--led by Tim Gill and Pat Strycker--overwhelmed the state with enough money two years ago to, basically, buy the legislature. The state parties didn't have the kind of money to keep up, and the GOP had no similar operation to counter. Come to think of it, the GOP still has no similar operation now, two years later.

Why did the Dems have such an advantage?

--Because they were the first to take advantage of a little recognized section of the tax code which creates a loophole through which giant trucks filled with campaign money can drive--the 527 committee.

And here is where this gets back to John McCain. Nice campaign reform there, Senator. Seems to have worked to keep money out of politics.

At least, it kept out Republican money.

No BCRA, no 527s; no 527s, no Democratic legislature; no Dem leg, no Owens leading C; no Owens on C, then we still have that most important issue in Colorado on which Republicans can run and win.

If you can't make the case that your side is different from their side, you can't convince them to ignore the propoganda.

Yes, I realize that chain of logic requires a bit of a buy-in.

But, clearly, this state hasn't completely lost its mind. We accepted the Marriage Amendment by a comfortable margin, we defeated Partnerships by a safe margin, we rejected legalizing pot by a lot, and the minimum wage hike was a photo finish.

So, what does it say that all the issues continue to break towards the conservatives, but the conservative candidates can't get across the finish line?

It means that the contrasts are not sharp enough to justify ignoring the national mood. And you cannot draw those contrasts if you cannot get on the airwaves enough.

Colorado Republicans, anxious for some leadership in two years, need to remember their mood on this day when John McCain comes around asking for their support. Hugh has already blamed him for a big role in the national defeat; I'm gonna join Hugh (there's a risky position) in laying Colorado's next four years in his lap.


Post-Mortem: Nationally

[I'm splitting my post-mortem into two sections: national and state. The reason for that will be clear in a minute, but I do see the two events separately.]

I tend to look at the results of this election less as refutation of policy, and much more as a rebuke of the practice. When you look at the Democrats that were elected to replace Republicans, you don't really see a massive ideological shift: Casey is "pro-life", Webb is a former SecNavy and easily claims a "blue dog" mantle, McCaskill ran as a cultural conservative, Tester is a law & order candidate, and Whitehouse can hardly be said to be more liberal than Chaffee. The exception is Brown taking out DeWine, but Ohio was really never going to work for the GOP.

What really drove this election, I think, is the issue of competence. On that count, let me tick off a non-comprehensive set of events/attitudes that ruined the Republicans for this cycle.

:Assumptions You know what they say about these. I think there are a number of assumptions that contributed to this result:
--assuming that once Iraqi territory was conquered, it would stay conquered. This led to the battle plan that ran through Iraq, captured and toppled Baghdad, and thought everything would be okay from there
--likewise, assuming that the Iraqi people would be on our side after we 'freed' them made us complacent about the challenges of the insugency
--the same sort of complacency led us to think, apparently, too late of securing the borders and preventing Iran and Syria from taking an active role in fanning the insurgency
(mind you, I do NOT in any of this fault the military leadership; their plan was based on intelligence, and I think we've all started to understand that our intel in the region SUCKS!)
All of these assumptions were in place in 2004, as well; the difference is that the country was okay with the same news for a year; now, we're going on three years and it's time for things to be getting better.

--on purely politics, assuming that the media would have no choice but to, if not give you credit for, at least MENTION that the economy is remarkably strong and that the tax policy of this President and Congress may have played a role in that (maybe)

This one is my biggest pet peeve. I actually think that GOP strategists all over the country were just waiting for the strong unemployment numbers and a stock market record to bring the voters over to us. At no point in this interminable campaign did I see a candidate speak the plain truth about state of the economy; the President stumped on it, but, really, nobody's listening to him now.

:Katrina. I think the beginning of the end was here. Whether it's fair or not, the image of the President flying over the disaster zone, followed by the weeks of horrible press and laughably weak politics, took all the mantle of "daddy" off the White House. It was during this event that the confidence the country had in Pres. Bush to take care of them faded away. At the very least, the President missed a golden political opportunity to be "consoler in chief; at most, the image of an unconcerned, slow-to-act Executive was etched indellibly on the American mind.

:Lack of Focus Put that in contrast to the speed with which Congress and the President acted on Terry Schiavo. Or how quickly they were able to act on the strictly symbolic measures to refute John Murtha's call for "redeployment." Clearly, government is capable of dispatch--it should choose its subject lines more carefully.

:Leadership as Title, Not Action. If you analyze the last year of Congress, I think you'll find that real leadership was only coming from Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, though perhaps only in the form of disciplining their caucus. Bill Frist was unable to herd a 10-vote majority into filling the federal bench, into getting a workable Immigration Bill into conference, into confirming John Bolton, into making the tax cuts permanent . . . the list goes on. On the other hand, one person who did seem to get something done was John McCain--and most of that was a betrayal of the party.

Add to this category Dennis Hastert, who was too slow to put ethics reform front and center. While it's possible that Mark Foley was not in his lap, after seemingly beating down the "culture of corruption" charge for a year, not acting quickly, decisively and publicly early on looked weak. And, of course, who can forget Hastert coming to the defense of William Jefferson, as if Congressional perks were more important than ethical behavior.

:Betrayal of Principles Not only did the fiscal irresponsibility of Congressional Republicans become obvious and public in the last year (thanks, in no small part, to Ted Stevens' "Bridge to Nowhere"), but then to have Republicans fight against Earmark Reform and fight against transparency made it look as if there was no difference between the GOP and the Dems on this issue.

:Failure to Recognize the Strengths of Your Opponents Much has been said about the GOP caucus warning its members early on about a tough campaign, and how much that advice was ignored. I would also add to this that the GOP seems--seemed--to count on making up 4-5 points in the cycle with its GOTV efforts. What? As if after three cycles the Dems wouldn't figure it out and get better at this, too. All indicators are that the GOP GOTV effort was as good or better this time around; guess theirs was, too.

:A DISASTROUS Senatorial Campaign Committee Not only did the NRSC decide to pump $1 million into Lincoln Chaffee's primary campaign--a move which probably cost it most of its fundraising for the rest of the cycle--but then it showed a stunning incompetence at recruiting candidates. By my rough count, there were four vulnerable Dem seats left, basically, uncontested this cycle.
1. Nelson in Florida: in a state where a new GOP governor won fairly easily, you couldn't get a better candidate than Katherine Harris?
2. Nelson in Nebraska: Nebraska is as red as it gets, but Tom Osborne decides to try for Gov, fails, and then the Senate seat is basically conceded
3. Conrad in North Dakota: you're telling me that in the same type of state where a sitting Majority Leader got taken out two years ago, you can't manage to find somebody who can at least hold the GOP registration numbers?
4. Byrd in West Virginia: admittedly, a longshot--nobody's better at bringing home the pork; but WV went strong for the President in 2004, and Byrd is off his rocker. We couldn't have, at least, made the DSCC spend money here?

And, by the way, thank you, Senator Dole, for two awful television appearances in the last month of the campaign.

So, as I look at it, it was either an incompetence in governing or an incompetence in campaigning, or the combination of both, which conspired to bring down Republican leadership in Congress.

Really, though, in an era of 24/7 cable news, is it possible to hold on to majorities the way the Democrats did in the second half of the 20th century? I doubt it. A twelve year run at governing is pretty good.

What's most troubling is how willing the Republicans were to contribute to their own demise. In 1994, the GOP flat-out BEAT the Democrats; this year, the GOP lost.

Whether they can find their way back into power any time soon depends on their willingness to look--long and hard--in the mirror. This makes me think, maybe, no.

Final Word For Tonight

Well, it's obvious by now that the GOP got their collective butts handed to them in a sling tonight. Even if Burns manages to pull his out of the fire in the remaining seven or so counties, it will do little to assuage the crushing defeat.

So, six years ago the President won a contested election to lead a government that had a narrow GOP majority in the House and a narrow Dem majority in the Senate (after Jeffords made his jump). Now, he is very unpopular and leading a narrowly hostile legislature. In his first term, we got tax cuts, No Child Left Behind, and a handful of other major pieces of legislation; this last year, with a governing majority in both chambers, we got . . . a fence--maybe. But with a governing majority we were unable to simplify the tax code, unable to reform immigration, unable to reform social security, and still unable to confirm judges.

Frankly, I wonder if we're really going to see much of a difference.

What is painfully obvious right now is that the Republican Party is screaming out for a leader who is not only authentic but who is articulate and obviously intelligent and--perhaps more than anything--media-savvy. In 2000 we wanted authentic because the country was tired of Bill; after 9/11 we needed someone who knew right from wrong, perhaps regardless of other qualifications; in 2004 we got lucky because Kerry was so obviously and painfully INauthentic; now, I would say we need a person can influence and marshall the national psyche to accomplish great things, not just be content to get along.

But, more than anything, what is needed is a face and a voice that can, once again, connect with Americans. And a face and a voice don't mean a damn thing unless there's a brain and a core of beliefs behind it.

And, yes, John McCain--that last requirement eliminates you.

Losing is good for the soul every once in a while. But only if you're smart enough to look at the game film honestly and figure out what went wrong. I should think the GOP has a lot of film to digest over the next several months. Which is good, since all those committee chairmen and -women have some extra time on their hands now.


Election Watch List [UPDATED]

UPDATE 10:39 Oh, NOOOOOOOOO! The Allen campaign has called the networks and made the claim that the networks have flipped the numbers. That is, Allen thinks he's is actually ahead, and some of the vote counters have closed up shop and gone home for the night.


UPDATE 10:30 Tennesse has gone to Corker, but by only 3 percent. This is a win, but by my system of tallying things, this is an indicator of GOP weakness: another negative.

Now I'm at -8

UPDATE 10:15 All the votes are in and counted in Virginia, and Webb is up on Allen by 3,000 votes, triggering an automatic recount. It's entirely possible that the balance of power in the Senate will hinge on this recount. We may not know (as I predicted) that we won't know the final results for weeks.

Anybody heard from David Boes and Ted Olson lately?

UPDATE 9:42 new stuff in green

Now its at -7, and there's a very good chance that that number could go to -10 or -12 within about an hour.

Right now Allen trails slightly with 99% in, Talent is ahead fairly comfortably but the big cities are still out, Corker is ahead fairly comfortably, and Burns looks pretty weak right now. If these trends hold and Talent loses from the big cities, we'll have a Senate that is 50 Dems, 49 GOP, and 1 Ind who is really a Dem.

A Democratic House, a Democratic Senate, a majority of Democratic governorships.

Yep. That's a bloodbath.

UPDATE 9:04 p.m. new updates in blue (and, no, I didn't just find the color thingy on blogger)

Right now, I have the GOP at -6 on my informal card. That, based on my experience (ha ha ha) is a beating, but not a full bloodbath. FoxNews shows the Dems have control of the House by one seat at this point, and the Senate is still out (four races within 3 points, and the Dems need 3 of those to control the Senate).

Keep a close eye on Virginia and Maryland--these are both too close to call, and could both lead to litigation.

UPDATE 8:30 pm As races go one way or the other down below, I will mark the effect in red.

As of right now, it doesn't look like a full-blown bloodbath, but it also doesn't look very good. As of right now, both houses of Congress look pretty close, and Colorado looks BAD!!

My scoresheet has the Republicans at -3, with three races that could be called for the GOP still awaiting a call, and several races for the Dems not yet called but looking bad for the GOP.

Stay tuned . . .

UPDATE: If stories of the exit polls being skewed by up to 6% are true, that could really effect this whole thing. Therefore, I am not counting anything in the win or lose column until the number of precincts reporting is about 40%.

In 2002 I made a list of races to watch, starting in the East and working my way across the country. In this fashion, by about 5:30 I knew Jeb won handily, the GA Senate seat was in GOP hands, the MD governor was a Republican, and the trend was pushing hard all across the country for our side.

So, in the spirit of that night, here is my list of races that I'm watching tonight. The margin is an indicator of strength. That is, most of the time a win is a win and you don't get points for moral victories. But in the case of elections, a closer than expected margin could be the leading indicator of a trend, so. . . I don't think it's necessary to win every important race--in fact, I don't think we can. But if we can hit the targets I've identified it would mean the GOP resurgence was no fluke, and I'd be hopeful of having a decent night.


FL Gov--Crist by 10%; if he wins by 10, it could pull enough votes to elect . . . Crist by 7% with 82% of the vote in (-1) 7% at 92% (-1) 8% with 94% (-1)
FL 16--Joe Negron by any amount Negron down by 1000 votes with 84% in down by 2200 with 92% down by 2300 with 94%
VA Senate--Allen by any margin is a big victory Allen up by 32,000 with 94% in--gotta wonder why the networks are holding this call . . . .oh, never mind Allen by 29,000 with 96% by 6,700 with 98%
CN Senate--Leiberman by 12%; not exactly a victory for our side, but a good rebuke of the KosKids could signal a good night Leiberman by 8% with 30% in 9% at 41% by 9% with 62%
NJ Senate--Kean within 4%; I don't think there's any way to overcome the corrupt machine in NJ, but a close race could mean something Menendez by 10% with 71% in (-1) 9% at 81% (-1) 8% at 95% (-1)
PN Senate--Santorum within 3%; I just don't think he can overcome everything. Too bad, too. Casey by 20% with 46% in--OUCH!! (-1) 20% at 65% (-1) 20% with 81% (-1)
MD Senate--Steele within 3%; too much Democratic machinery Cardin by only 2,500 votes with only 31% in--wonder why this one got called so quickly Steele is actually ahead by 4% with 45% in--WHEN ARE THEY GONNA RETRACT THEIR CALL!?!?!? (WaPo has retracted) Cardin by 1,600 with 57%


OH 15--Pryce by any margin; she was a top target Pryce by 3,800 votes with 92% in--again, gotta wonder why this one hasn't been called yet by 3,100 at 97%--AGAIN Final by 2% (+1)
TN Senate--Corker by 6% Corker by 5% with 66% of the precincts in--AGAIN, where's the call? by 54,000 at 82%--AGAIN by 60,000 with 87%
MI Gov--DeVos within 4% Granholm up by 10% with only 21% in 15% at 43% (-1) (-1)
MI Senate--Bouchard within 4% Stabenow up by 12% with 21% in 17% at 43% (-1) (-1)
MN Senate--Kennedy by any margin Klobuchar up by 28% with 18% in 26% at 36% (-1) (-1)
MN 6--Bachmann by any margin Bachmann up by 4% with 24% reporting by 6% at 41%--AGAIN by 6% at 53% (+1)
TX 22--if Sekula-Gibbs can pull this one off, at least one bright Dem hope would be dashed Lampson up by 34% with 11% reporting by 10% with 55% by 10% with 66% (-1)


by this point, we should have a good idea where everything's going, so there are fewer things to watch out here

MT Senate--Burns by any margin too early Tester at 10% with 4% by 6% with 6%
Colorado--all of it; there is a good chance that this state will shift dark blue tomorrow too early Gov to the Dems, everything else too early CD7 to Dems, CD 4 too close, StateLeg too early (-1)
WA Senate--McGavick within 5%; again, the machine too early Cantwell by 11% with 14% in
AZ 5--JD Hayworth by 5% still too early Mitchell by 7% with 79% in by 8% with 95% (-1)

So there's what I'll be watching for, for what its worth.

I stand by my earlier prediction that we will not know who controls Congress before we go to bed tonight. I think enough of the close races will break GOP that the balance will be in doubt until the lawyers get a chance to fight it over.

Without a full prediction, my sense of the race is getting more positive. I don't think tomorrow night will be anywhere close to the bloodbath the pundits think it will be, but just what the final count will be I have no idea at this point.

The Early Exit Polls Have Leaked

and it looks like the GOP might lose 132 seats in the House, and 17 seats in the Senate.

Still developing . . .

By the way, for those of you who don't get me. . . I'm joking. Look at the time index at the top of the post.

Still, expect stories like this all through the day.

Media Lies and MisRepresentations

Not really a lie so much as a sleight of hand.

After three days of saturation coverage (by that I mean a full-page, front-page Friday, a full-page, front-page Saturday, and a nearly full-page, front-page Sunday) I would have thought the newspapers might have gotten tired of shooting at Ted Haggard.

But I was wrong.

On a day when even the NYTimes put Saddam's conviction on the front page, the Denver Post still found room to devote about 32 column-inches to Icky Reverend Ted.

At least the Rocky managed to make the banner Saddam, though most of the space on the front page was devoted to the Broncos.

Hey, everybody--LOOK! It's the blimp!!


And In Case It Hasn't Been Said Yet . . .

let me offer a hearty, enthusiastic congratulations to the men and women of the United States military. Through their efforts, their sacrifice, their courage and perseverence and professionalism, the Butcher of Baghdad has been fairly tried, and justice rendered in open court.

Thank you, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. Good Work!!


The Worm Turning? [UPDATED]

ABC News/WashPost Generic Congressional Ballot: Dems +6, down from +14 two weeks ago.

This follows the CNN poll released earlier in the week showing the Republicans closing the gap on the same question by 6 points.

Sure, there are other polls, but they're almost all static. So, at the very least, there has been no movement towards the Dems. Given the evidence at hand, we may be finally starting to see the electorate returning to its senses.

But there's still plenty of time to screw it up.

UPDATE: the trend continues

From TKS:

Pew is out with their final pre-election poll and just like the ABC/Wash. Post poll, Pew shows Republicans with momentum. In the generic ballot, Dems lead by just 4 points. More importantly, the GOP has made significant cuts into the Dems once gigantic lead among indies.
(The last Pew poll put the Democrats' generic ballot advantage at 11 points.)

And also from TKS:

The Gallup poll is out; in two weeks, the Dem's advantage on the generic ballot has narrowed from 13 points to 7 points.

My Ballot

For what it's worth.

Governor: Beauprez (R)
7CD Representative: O'Donnell (R)
SecState: Coffman (R) I've met him--he's an impressive guy. . . .and a soldier.
Treasurer: Hillman (R)
AG: Suthers (R)
State Rep: Crane (R)
Board of Ed 7: Kunz (R) Middleton was endorsed by Sue Windels--that made the choice easy
Regent: Davidson
Judges: retain all but Davidson and Marquez--in a system such as this, to not get unanimous approval is startling
Amend. 38: no--I prefer representative democracy, with all its flaws
Amend. 39: yes--the full-time employment for school accountants amendment
Amend 40: no--again, our system is set up with lifetime judges for a reason; if they're bad, we should vote them out; otherwise, elect the right people and you'll get the judges you want
Amend 41: yes--sad that we even need something like this
Amend 42: no--can't think of a better way to kill job growth
Amend 43: yes--"for this reason shall a woman leave her family and cleave to a man . . ."
Amend 44: no . . . .dude
Ref E: yes--seems the least we could do
Ref F: yes--whatever
Ref G: yes--simply housekeeping
Ref H: yes--probably just a "message" law with little teeth, but its a good message
Ref I: no--ease of contractual entry and enforcement is not a Constitutional right
Ref J: yes--see above
Ref K: yes--another good message

What Good News?

A frequent commenter has challenged me to note what good news there has been for the GOP during this election cycle which has been ignored in the Old Media. Here's a partial list:

:Unemployment at 4.4%, a story buried on page 3 today . . . page 3 of the BUSINESS SECTION, that is
:wages up .4% this month, following being up .3% last month; such an accelerated increase in wages, in fact, that it gave investors the jitters about inflation yesterday
:speaking of inflation, its actually fairly well in check
:interest rates, while not at historic lows, are still quite low
:growth of GDP (the fullest--and most cryptic--measure of the strength of the economy) is progressing at an annual rate of over 3% for the year
:Dow Jones Industrial Average has set several all-time highs recently, including spending several days over 12,000
:state tax receipts up by more than a billion dollars this year, continuing a trend that started 6 months before CO approved referendum C last year
:five years after taking a multi-trillion dollar hit the deficit has been cut in half--two years ahead of schedule and "in the face of" those horrible tax cuts
:gas prices back down to normal--not something that I think the GOP should get any credit for, but it should improve the national mood a bit
:in spite of every effort by the NYTimes to give away the playbook, and in spite of every effort by Democrats to make us fight with one hand tied behind our backs, we still have not been attacked in the homeland after five years


Was/Is Mark Foley a creepy, disgusting slimeball? Of course. Did he deserve his punishment? I would say yes, and much, much more. Was it really worthy of several days' worth of front page stories? Hardly.

Has the news from Iraq been tough lately? Yes. But look at why--first, there's this wierd tendency among Muslims to celebrate holy days and months with violence; but second, because--of course--they know, the murderers/terrorists know, that they can influence the American election if they can keep the violence in the news. They assume, and, to a degree, correctly, that America no longer has the intestinal fortitude for difficult battles.

But neither of these explain the imbalance highlighted by the CMPA study. Indeed, it would seem to me that ONLY bias--whether deliberate or as an emanation of a dominant and unchallenged groupthink--can explain the difference in the coverage.


By order of the court, to happen within 30 days.

Along with Saddam, two other death sentences, one life sentence, three sentenced to 15 years, and two not guilty verdicts.

Not a big fan of the Death Penalty, here. But if ever there was a man who deserved it . . .

How much you wanna bet the Denver Post frontpage headline is about Ted Haggard's curiosity-driven, drug-induced, prostitution-soliciting, massage-receiving, . . .ickiness?


Light Blogging For A Few Days

much of my prime writing time will be devoted to working the election, so don't expect too much.

I'll post what I can, when, but probably not much to look for here until Tuesday night.

Just a reminder before I go: GET OUT AND VOTE. Do your civic duty, make your voice heard (insert your favorite platitude here . . .)

Not A COMPLETELY Useless Poll

So the Rocky Mountain News and Public Opinion Strategies has their most recent poll on the governor's race out.

Fifty-five percent of surveyed voters support Ritter, versus 33 percent for Beauprez.

22 points? Really. Does that seem right?

When Gov. Owens won his first election, it was by about 9,000 votes. So that doesn't really help.

I couldn't find the information about Roy Romer's last election--I figured him being the last Democratic Governor of Colorado, it would help to know how much he won by in his last election. But the SecState's website--conveniently and infuriatingly--only contains information from 1996 on.

So, I made what I considered to be a reasonable assumption: Romer, as a popular incumbent Governor, probably won in a landslide by . . . what?. . . 12-16 points. Does that seem reasonable?

So, extrapolating, I figure reality dictates that a Democrat in Colorado could probably match, but not exceed Romer's electoral performance. So it's reasonable to assume that, at worst, Ritter is up on Beauprez by 16 points.

Which means that this poll is skewed by about 6 points . . . AT LEAST.

And, since it's the same firm and methodology that polled all the other races earlier in the week, it's safe to use this poll as a plumb line for those.

So reality might actually look more like this:

--Amendment 43 is going to win by more like 58-42
--Referendum I is going to be rejected by something like 55-45
--Marylin Musgrave is likely to win by about 54-46
--pot will still lose
--the minimum wage amendment will lose narrowly
--and who knows about the O'Donnell/Perlmutter race; I haven't seen a poll on this one recently, though I know the last set looked bad for O'Donnell

And, granted, that's a bit of a leap of logic to get to this place. But so is accepting a 22 point lead for Ritter.

None of my predictions have changed since a couple days ago, though I will add the following at this point:

:Referendum I will fail, and probably by more than 5 points
:Amendment 43 will pass, and by quite a bit (maybe 15-20 points)
:the Minimum Wage amendment will fall, narrowly
:the Pot amendment will get smoked (c'mon . . . you had to know it was coming at some point)

That's where I see things at this point.

In other words, this new poll does little to illuminate the playing field at this point, though maybe it allows us to make a guess about the slope.


NYTimes: Iraq Had Advanced Nuclear Program

From Friday morning's NYTimes:

Last March, the federal government set up a Web site to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war. . .

Last night, the government shut down the Web site after The New York Times asked about complaints from weapons experts and arms-control officials. A spokesman for the director of national intelligence said access to the site had been suspended “pending a review to ensure its content is appropriate for public viewing.” . . .

Officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency, fearing that the information could help states like Iran develop nuclear arms, had privately protested last week to the American ambassador to the agency, according to European diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. One diplomat said the agency’s technical experts “were shocked” at the public disclosures.

The documents, roughly a dozen in number, contain charts, diagrams, equations and lengthy narratives about bomb building that nuclear experts who have viewed them say go beyond what is available elsewhere on the Internet and in other public forums. For instance, the papers give detailed information on how to build nuclear firing circuits and triggering explosives, as well as the radioactive cores of atom bombs.

Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away. . . .

In Europe, a senior diplomat said atomic experts there had studied the nuclear documents on the Web site and judged their public release as potentially dangerous. “It’s a cookbook,” said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of his agency’s rules. “If you had this, it would short-circuit a lot of things.”

Got that? Some of the documents taken from Saddam's regime were "a cookbook" for making a nuke.

Oh, but surely, Saddam would have never shared this information with anybody else, would he? There's absolutely no reason to think that the information held by the Iraqi regime was going to be shared with other bad players on the world scene.


So the Times thinks publishing important stuff is dangerous and bad, unless they're the ones doing it. And we absolutely have to prevent this information from going anywhere . . . except taking out the people who are responsible for it.

For what it's worth, none of the other major newspapers seem to care to pick up this bit of reportage.

So It Isn't Just Me

I've been pretty hard on the media. In fact, after this election and a little hiatus, I'm going to launch a new project devoted to the media.

But every once in a while I have to wonder if I'm just being too sensitive, or something. Turns out I'm not.

Courtesy the Political Grapevine:

Meanwhile the non-partisan Center for Media and Public Affairs has analyzed stories about the elections during the seven weeks since Labor Day on the evening newscasts of the three broadcast networks. It reports 77 percent of on-air evaluations of Democratic candidates and members of Congress were positive — and 88 percent of the references to Republicans were negative.

Huh. I wonder if a 165-point differential in news coverage might have a little effect on the impressions of the electorate.

D'ya think?

Media Lies and MisRepresentations

Today's is all about the Kerry flap.

Front page of the Denver Post headline leads to this story:

Words spur pointing of 5th District fingers

Sen. John Kerry's remarks about Iraq took center stage Wednesday in Colorado's 5th Congressional District race.

Republican Doug Lamborn, a state legislator for 12 years, characterized Kerry's comments as "outrageous" and "insulting" and challenged Democrat Jay Fawcett to disavow himself of Kerry's support.

"If my opponent values our troops, he'll immediately renounce his endorsement from John Kerry, who has been so insulting to them," Lamborn said. "Our district has far too many veterans and active duty personnel for Fawcett to campaign with someone as extreme as John Kerry."

In and of itself, this is just fine. In fact, given the number of military installations in that district, one would expect commentary from this particular race.

The problem here is threefold, as I see it:

1. After a perfunctory acknowledgement that Fawcett said Kerry should apologize, the remaining bulk of the article was devoted to a flap over a campaign ad and a maybe/maybe not FEC investigation. Not exactly staying on topic.

2. There is, nowhere, any attempt to get the opinion of a member of the military. Even Fawcett, a retired Air Force officer, only speaks through a spokesperson. Again, in a district fairly brimming with military personnel, they make no attempt to get an opinion.

3. This is the only article about the effect on a local race, and they choose to highlight one of the relatively non-competitive races. How about seeking a comment from the O'Donnell/Perlmutter race? There's a military installation in this district, and Rick O'Donnell came out early and strong calling on Ed Perlmutter to denounce Kerry's comment--where's Ed on this one? His website is completely silent, though Sen. John Kerry is still listed first among all public figures endorsing him.

The real question isn't "where's Ed;" the real question is "where's the Denver Post?"


The Beginnings of a Conservative Resurgence, Or Just An Electorate Returning To Its Senses

That's the big question in the face of this latest round of polling on the ballot initiatives.

Forty-seven percent of respondents said they approve of Ref I, while 49 percent disapprove, according to the Rocky Mountain News/CBS 4 poll by Public Opinion Strategies.

A similar poll for the News and CBS 4 in early September showed 58 percent in support of Ref I and 38 percent against.

That sounds about right to me, though, given the poll's internals, those numbers could actually be even wider for the No votes (poll of registered voters on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday).

In addition,

Fifty-three percent of respondents said they would vote yes and 43 percent said no [on Amendment 43]. Those numbers are virtually the same as in the September poll.

And, on top of that, two more useful bits of information in the poll:

The pot measure, Amendment 44, is getting crushed — losing eight points of support since early September.

Only 34 percent of respondents support the proposal, which would legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for those over 21. Sixty-one percent oppose the amendment — up from 53 percent last month.


A sharp drop in support for the minimum-wage ballot issue has put the measure in the "danger zone" of not passing.

Just 53 percent of recent respondents said they'd vote for Amendment 42, which would raise the minimum wage to $6.85 and then increase it annually by inflation, as measured by the Denver-Boulder-Greeley Consumer Price Index.

The "yes" vote is down from 74 percent support in a mid-September poll, . . .

So it would seem there are some very important questions that come out of this round of polling.

A. To what degree are the initiatives driving turnout?

B. Is turnout for these initiatives any indication of pattern voting in statewide races? (i.e., will a sound defeat of Ref I indicate a good showing for Republicans?)

C. Are these polling trends indicative of a "wave" of conservative sentiment returning home just in time for the election?

D. Or, are these simply indicative of Colorado's typical conservatism cathing up to itself on issues, while having no effect on candidates?

Answers to all these, and much much more, just next Tuesday night.


Beauprez-Ritter Debate

I had a wierd confluence of events tonight which allowed me watch the last twenty minutes of the gubernatorial race tonight.

And I have to hand it to Bill Ritter--he is a very smooth candidate.

But he did say one thing which should immediately become a campaign ad, and should be hammered home by the Beauprez camp in the last seven days.

(transcript is not yet available, so this is from memory)

9NEWS' Adam Schrager: this question, Mr. Ritter, is from the Beaprez campaign. "Do you regret the decision to plea bargain so many illegal immigrants down from serious crimes to an obscure agricultural trespassing charge?

Bill Ritter: No.

Heroin addicts; pedophiles; drug distribution . . . these are pretty serious offences which Bill Ritter created a back door for.

We'll see if there's any gas left in the tank to make that case in the next seven days.

Election Predictions

--The media will try one more time to smear the whole lot of Republicans. Remember, it was the Wednesday before the 2004 elections when Dan Rather ran his little memo up the flagpole. There will be one more attempt before this is over.

--In the next couple days, you will start seeing complaints from Dems about the voting machines, including (probably) a made-for-tv lawsuit in a swing district. This is their way of laying the groundwork for the inevitable "Republicans stole it" mantra if they lose next Tuesday night.

--The exit polls seem to show a sweeping victory for the Democrats [developing]

--Colorado governor, state House, state Senate, and CD's 1,2, 3 and 7 will belong to the Dems

--Amendment 43 will pass with close to 60%, the marijuana thing will lose at about 78%, and Referendum I will be narrowly defeated, which will lead to the inevitable.. . . .

--lawsuits and court challenges to this election.

--The only prediction I'm really comfortable with is that we WILL NOT know the result of election next Tuesday night,or even next Wednesday morning. It may be quite a while before we know about several of the close races.

Pull up a seat, folks. At the very least, it will make for amusing television.

John Kerry, The Gift That Keeps On Giving

By now, just about every sentient being with any interest in this election knows what John Kerry said (and if you're reading this blog, you must be REALLY interested) and how he's tried to double down.

But what's really cool is the coverage. Channel 4 News had it in the first 7 minutes of coverage tonight, including about three minutes with a Staff Sargeant who, shall we say, took exception to John Kerry's comments.

However, what they didn't do was press the Ed Perlmutter camp for a comment--that would be what REALLY responsible journalists would be doing right now.

The O'Donnell camp, for their part, has already fired off two press releases asking Perlmutter to denounce John Kerry's slander, to no reply.

And, I note courtesy of The Corner, Kerry has already had one campaign event cancelled in the next couple days. There will be more.

Thanks, Senator. We appreciate your help.

Media Lies and MisRepresentations

Tonight's entry is a simple contrast of coverage.

From Sunday's Denver Post--banner front-page headline

Ritter Solidly Ahead in Post Poll

From today's Post regarding the new Zogby poll which shows the race within 2%.

[sound of crickets]

just a simple contrast in coverage.

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