Sunday, October 31, 2004

HorseRace Blog

The HorseRace Blog is a very helpful site if you are looking for analysis of the polls.

Here's where he sees the electoral-vote math right now.

Right now the EV math is looking awfully tough for Kerry. He is definitely behind in FL, IA and, though I do not cover it here, NM. This gives Bush a minimum of 266 EVs. Plus, Bush is likely leading in OH and WI -- and I think Kerry will be unable to hold MN when all is said and done. The word on the ground is that BC04's organization in MN is a sight to behold. The big question on my mind right now is not whether Bush gets to 269, but whether he breaks 300 (which he would do if he carries FL, IA, NM, WI, OH and MN -- that would be 306).

Remember, I'm predicting 300 electoral votes for W.

The Blogging Caesar

The Blogging Caesar at methodology, I believe, is much more reliable than posted his final predictions (including a state-by-state analysis).

Mason-Dixon Polls

According to the National Council on Public Polls Polling Review Board, the Mason-Dixon Polling and Research organization did the most number of polls (23) in the 2002 elections, and yet they only predicted one race incorrectly. (In case you're curious, Zogby did worse. He's a notoriously unreliable pollster.)

On Saturday night, Mason Dixon released their latest polls. They have Bush ahead of Kerry in the battleground states of Florida (4 points), Ohio (2 points), Iowa (5 points), Minnesota (1 point), Colorado (7 points), Nevada (6 points), Missouri (4 points). Kerry is ahead of Bush in Michigan (2 points), New Hampshire (2 points), Oregon (6 points), Pennsylvania (2 points), and Wisconsion (2 points).

Robert Novak has a helpful column today (HT: Polipundit) on what to watch for on Tuesday night:

Americans glued to their television sets Tuesday night should get a pretty good idea of the outcome of the presidential election by 8 p.m. CST with the returns from the all-important battleground states of Florida (27 electoral votes) and Ohio (20).

These are the possible outcomes:

  • The early returns show either President Bush or Sen. John Kerry has clearly won both of these two states. In that case, you can call the double winner “Mr. President” for the next four years.
  • Bush is the clear early winner in either Florida or Ohio. That probably guarantees Bush’s re-election. Kerry then would have a steep hill to climb, forced to pick up states where he now seems to be trailing.
  • There is no early outcome in either of those two states, or Kerry clearly wins one state and the other state’s results are unclear. Then, look for a long election night – or perhaps a long month of November – before the winner of the presidential race is determined.

The Packers Rule

Contrary to my confident prediction that the Redskins would rule over the Packers today, it looks like the Packers had a good, decisive victory. Oh well--I still stand by my prediction regarding the Presidential race!

Great News in the Minnesota Polls!

The Minneapolis Star Tribune shows that Kerry has opened an 8-point lead over Bush in Minnesota, 48-41. Now if you are supporting Bush and you aren't familiar with the Strib, you might think that's bad news. Nope. We Minnesotans know that whenever you see a Strib poll, you automatically add 10 points to the Republican number. (Every election the Strib reliably runs polls that are outlandishly skewed toward the Democrats.) By my calculations, then, Bush has a small lead in Minnesota. By way of comparison, the more historically reliable Pioneer Press has Bush leading 48-47. The example of the Strib is one of the reasons to be cautiously skeptical about electoral-college predictors (like that have simple methods taking each state poll at face value. Part of my prediction is that Bush will carry Minnesota. If that happens, it should make the Strib embarrassed and cause them to re-examine their deeply unreliable polling methodology. But that will never happen.

Update: You have to check out a post from November of 2002, posted over at Powerline. They report on the final pre-election poll in the Coleman-Mondale race. The Strib's poll had Mondale over Coleman, 46-41. The Pioneer Press, on the other hand, had Coleman over Mondale, 47-41. Coleman ended up beating Mondale, 50-47. When I wrote above that Minnesota conservatives know to add about 10 points to the Republican numbers in a Strib poll, I wasn't joking.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Osama, Surrender, and Weakness

John Podhoretz on the Osama tape:

But something does jump out at you when you consider the message bin Laden was delivering to the United States. It was remarkably defensive, with bin Laden offering some kind of bizarre truce to the American people: "To the U.S. people," he said, "my talk is to you about the best way to avoid another disaster."

How thoughtful of him.

He told us that neither Bush nor Kerry could protect America: "Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda," he said. "Your security is in your own hands."

In other words, if the American people would somehow agree to consider the security needs of bin Laden and his followers (whether that means just al Qaeda or the entire Arab and Muslim world isn't clear), we'd be safe.

"Do not play with our security, and spontaneously you will secure yourself," he said.

This is, I think, a profound rhetorical change from the man who vowed in 2002 that "the United States will not survive, will not feel any safety or any security."

Usually, bin Laden and his people tend to use the most purple and terrifying language about the damage they're going to do to the United States, as we saw earlier in the week when the American al Qaeda follower "Azzam" said on his videotape that "the streets of America will run red with blood."

Now bin Laden is talking truce.

What's changed, perhaps, is the ferocity of the American response to 9/11. Since then, Osama has been on the run, his Afghanistan safe haven destroyed, his movement under relentless financial and military assault. By offering America a deal, no matter how twisted and pointless the deal might be, the quality that he might be showing us isn't strength, but weakness.

Maybe he's feeling the weariness suggested in the videotaped statement last month by his No. 2 man, Ayman al-Zawahiri: "Oh young men of Islam," he said, "if we are killed or captured, you should carry on the fight."

Maybe they're buckling.

And here's Wretchard at the Belmont Club:

It is important to notice what he has stopped saying in this speech. He has stopped talking about the restoration of the Global Caliphate. There is no more mention of the return of Andalusia. There is no more anticipation that Islam will sweep the world. He is no longer boasting that Americans run at the slightest wounds; that they are more cowardly than the Russians. He is not talking about future operations to swathe the world in fire but dwelling on past glories. He is basically saying if you leave us alone we will leave you alone. Though it is couched in his customary orbicular phraseology he is basically asking for time out.

The American answer to Osama's proposal will be given on Election Day. One response is to agree that the United States of America will henceforth act like Sweden, which is on track to become majority Islamic sometime after the middle of this century. The electorate best knows which candidate will serve this end; which candidate most promises to be European-like in attitude and they can choose that path with both eyes open. The electorate can strike that bargain and Osama may keep his word. The other course is to reject Osama's terms utterly; to recognize the pleading in his outwardly belligerent manner and reply that his fugitive existence; the loss of his sanctuaries; the annihilation of his men are but the merest foretaste of what is yet to come: to say that to enemies such as he, the initials 'US' will always mean Unconditional Surrender.

Osama has stated his terms. He awaits America's answer.

My Prediction

Bush will have at least 300 electoral votes, and will win 33 states for a decisive victory. Nevertheless, the networks will be slow to call it for Bush, doing everything in their power to avoid the fiasco of 2000. Numerous allegations of voter fraud and disinfranchisement--along with lawsuits--will come fast and furious. But most people will see through this and have little patience for the paranoia and sore-lossership. I would not be surprised to see some forms of violence and possibly rioting following the announcement of Bush's victory.

Tuesday night hopefully will tell--and you can see if I sound like a prophet, or am scurrying to clean the egg off of my face!

Friday, October 29, 2004

Polls, Predictions, bin Laden, and the Presidential race

A helpful site to bookmark in the next few days is the Wall St. Journal's Electoral College Calculator. You can play with the possible electoral scenarios.

Two sites that have been tracking the polls and their electoral implications are and The former is run by a strong Bush supporter; the latter by a strong Kerry supporter. They have different methodologies (both of which are explained on their site). uses a very simple formula for tabulating his predictions; uses a more complicated formula that incorporates a number of different factors. (For details, see here.)

The best advice on poll-watching is not to pay too much attention to the daily fluctuations, but to consider the averages and the trends. The best place to do that is at The RCP combined average poll has Bush up by 2.6 at the time of this writing.

The candidates, of course, don't just rely on the public polls. They have internal polls that help them determine the battleground state visits in these final few days. ABC News' The Note has the candidates schedules. Of interest: Cheney will soon be visiting Hawaii, which has been a liberal stronghold for the past 20 years. Bush now leads Kerry by less than 1 percent. Further, Kerry is visiting a number of states that Gore won in 2000, but which are no longer considered safe.

One interesting question in these final days is whether the new Osama bin Laden tape (partial WaPo transcript here) will help Bush or Kerry. I strongly suspect it will help Bush. In fact, I think it could make the election result much closer than conventional wisdom is now suggesting. (Cf. N.Z. Bear's opinion that "Osama bin Laden probably just gave the election to Bush.) Some think the tape will favor Kerry, since it reminds us that OBL is still uncaptured. That's plausible. But consider these factors:

(1) It reminds us of 9/11--one of America's darkest hours and one of Bush's finest.

(2) It highlights terrorism, which the polls show that Bush leads Kerry on this issue at an astonishing spread of 61 to 28.

(3) It seems pretty clear that OBL wants Bush to lose. Many will reason: if OBL is against a victory for W., I'm for it!

(4) It echoes the Democratic talking points. OBL blames the Patriot Act for undermining freedom, and mocks Bush for reading "My Pet Goat" will the Towers were being hit. (Gee, do you think OBL has been listening to Michael Moore?)

(5) It is freshly anti-Israel, which could help the U.S. Jewish vote.

We shall see....

Wheaton Philosophy Conference

Tomorrow morning is the last day of the Wheaton Philosophy Conference. The topic has been "Divine and Human Freedom"--always an interest of mine. Interestingly, one of the speakers, John Fischer, mentioned today that there is a blog on free will and moral responsibility: The Garden of Forking Paths.

Much of the conference has been frustrating. Contemporary Christian philosophers today tend to approach the questions without recourse to Scriptural authority. There is very little integration with theology and exegesis. Not to sound overly negative, but many Christians would be shocked to see the utter lack of theological competance among many philosophers.

The highlight was dinner tonight with Mark Talbot (philosophy professor at Wheaton), Paul Helm (philosophy and theology chair at Regent), Bill Davis (philosophy professor at Covenant College), and Paul Helseth (Christian Thought professor at Northwestern College, and co-editor with me on a couple of projects). These guys all approach philosophy and theology from a God-centered perspective that submits to the sovereignty of God and the authority of Scripture. It was a wonderfu time of fellowship and an lively discussion!

BTW, for those who are interested in--or confused about--the issue of free will, moral responsibility, and God's providence, I would highly recommend Mark Talbot's chapter in our book Beyond the Bounds, entitled "True Freedom." You can also buy an inexpensive booklet version of the article here. Prof . Helm reiterated tonight what a superb article it is, and I agree.

Stassen Critiqued

Randall O’Bannon and Laura Hussey of the NRLC respond to Stassen's response, posted on this blog. Their piece is called: Stassen’s Thesis Blaming Bush for Abortions Still Flawed.

Update: The Heritage Foundation also examines the discussion. For those new to the discussion, you can catch up here and here.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Wrap Up

Blogging will be light to non-existent for the next few days. I'm heading to the Wheaton Philosophy Conference. The theme is "Divine and Human Freedom."

A few items of interest before I head out the door:

Ralph Peters--author of Beyond Baghdad: Postmodern War and Peace--pens a helpful take on those missing explosives. Peters column was written before the Gertz story broke, but he still gets the issue exactly right. It's called: The Myth of the "Missing Explosives": A Shameless Lie. This should be read in conjunction with Hugh Hewitt's piece in the Weekly Standard, entitled The Commander-in-Chief, which shows how Kerry's latest attack on Bush is in reality an attack on our military and the fine men and women who are so bravely serving our country in Iraq.

Jim Gerharty, who runs one of the best political blogs of this election season--The Kerry Spot--is reporting that ABC News will be turning to him, and some other bloggers, throughout election day for analysis and commentary. This is excellent. Even though I have a great deal of frustration with the MSM, they are still indispensable and are not going away any time soon. So it's certainly exciting to see this kind of synergy and cooperation. It makes me much more likely to watch ABC News on Nov. 2. [Ed. note: Have you considered watching CBS News's coverage? Um, no.] Oh, by the way, guess who the BBC will have on during their election coverage? They will be turning to Michael Moore and George Soros, among others! (No, I didn't make that up!) The bias runs deep, doesn't it?

Finally, Joe Carter at the Evangelical Outpost has posted an indispensable primer on stem cells research and policy.

Russia Tied to Iraq's Missing Arms

In an earlier post I mentioned the breaking story reported by Bill Gertz in the Washington Times regarding Russia's probable involvement in the missing explosives cache in Iraq. The Drudge-linkage crashed that WaT server, but JK at HalfwayAway has kindly provided the full text. This may be one of the most significant stories of the year. (Also make sure to read the WaT editorial, Non-Explosive Issue,

Russia tied to Iraq's missing arms

By Bill Gertz

Russian special forces troops moved many of Saddam Hussein's weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation, The Washington Times has learned.
John A. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said in an interview that he believes the Russian troops, working with Iraqi intelligence, "almost certainly" removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad. "The Russians brought in, just before the war got started, a whole series of military units," Mr. Shaw said. "Their main job was to shred all evidence of any of the contractual arrangements they had with the Iraqis. The others were transportation units."
Mr. Shaw, who was in charge of cataloguing the tons of conventional arms provided to Iraq by foreign suppliers, said he recently obtained reliable information on the arms-dispersal program from two European intelligence services that have detailed knowledge of the Russian-Iraqi weapons collaboration.
Most of Saddam's most powerful arms were systematically separated from other arms like mortars, bombs and rockets, and sent to Syria and Lebanon, and possibly to Iran, he said.
The Russian involvement in helping disperse Saddam's weapons, including some 380 tons of RDX and HMX is still being investigated, Mr. Shaw said.
The RDX and HMX, which are used to manufacture high-explosive and nuclear weapons, are probably of Russian origin, he said.
Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita could not be reached for comment.
The disappearance of the material was reported in a letter Oct. 10 from the Iraqi government to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Disclosure of the missing explosives Monday in a New York Times story was used by the Democratic presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry, who accused the Bush administration of failing to secure the material.
Al-Qaqaa, a known Iraqi weapons site, was monitored closely, Mr. Shaw said.
"That was such a pivotal location, Number 1, that the mere fact of [special explosives] disappearing was impossible," Mr. Shaw said. "And Number 2, if the stuff disappeared, it had to have gone before we got there."
The Pentagon disclosed yesterday that the Al-Qaqaa facility was defended by Fedayeen Saddam, Special Republican Guard and other Iraqi military units during the conflict. U.S. forces defeated the defenders around April 3 and found the gates to the facility open, the Pentagon said in a statement yesterday.
A military unit in charge of searching for weapons, the Army's 75th Exploitation Task Force, then inspected Al-Qaqaa on May 8, May 11 and May 27, 2003, and found no high explosives that had been monitored in the past by the IAEA.
The Pentagon said there was no evidence of large-scale movement of explosives from the facility after April 6.
"The movement of 377 tons of heavy ordnance would have required dozens of heavy trucks and equipment moving along the same roadways as U.S. combat divisions occupied continually for weeks prior to and subsequent to the 3rd Infantry Division's arrival at the facility," the statement said.
The statement also said that the material may have been removed from the site by Saddam's regime.
According to the Pentagon, U.N. arms inspectors sealed the explosives at Al-Qaqaa in January 2003 and revisited the site in March and noted that the seals were not broken.
It is not known if the inspectors saw the explosives in March. The U.N. team left the country before the U.S.-led invasion began March 20, 2003.
A second defense official said documents on the Russian support to Iraq reveal that Saddam's government paid the Kremlin for the special forces to provide security for Iraq's Russian arms and to conduct counterintelligence activities designed to prevent U.S. and Western intelligence services from learning about the arms pipeline through Syria.
The Russian arms-removal program was initiated after Yevgeny Primakov, the former Russian intelligence chief, could not convince Saddam to give in to U.S. and Western demands, this official said.
A small portion of Iraq's 650,000 tons to 1 million tons of conventional arms that were found after the war were looted after the U.S.-led invasion, Mr. Shaw said. Russia was Iraq's largest foreign supplier of weaponry, he said.
However, the most important and useful arms and explosives appear to have been separated and moved out as part of carefully designed program. "The organized effort was done in advance of the conflict," Mr. Shaw said.
The Russian forces were tasked with moving special arms out of the country.
Mr. Shaw said foreign intelligence officials believe the Russians worked with Saddam's Mukhabarat intelligence service to separate out special weapons, including high explosives and other arms and related technology, from standard conventional arms spread out in some 200 arms depots.
The Russian weapons were then sent out of the country to Syria, and possibly Lebanon in Russian trucks, Mr. Shaw said.
Mr. Shaw said he believes that the withdrawal of Russian-made weapons and explosives from Iraq was part of plan by Saddam to set up a "redoubt" in Syria that could be used as a base for launching pro-Saddam insurgency operations in Iraq.
The Russian units were dispatched beginning in January 2003 and by March had destroyed hundreds of pages of documents on Russian arms supplies to Iraq while dispersing arms to Syria, the second official said.
Besides their own weapons, the Russians were supplying Saddam with arms made in Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria and other Eastern European nations, he said.
"Whatever was not buried was put on lorries and sent to the Syrian border," the defense official said.
Documents reviewed by the official included itineraries of military units involved in the truck shipments to Syria. The materials outlined in the documents included missile components, MiG jet parts, tank parts and chemicals used to make chemical weapons, the official said.
The director of the Iraqi government front company known as the Al Bashair Trading Co. fled to Syria, where he is in charge of monitoring arms holdings and funding Iraqi insurgent activities, the official said.
Also, an Arabic-language report obtained by U.S. intelligence disclosed the extent of Russian armaments. The 26-page report was written by Abdul Tawab Mullah al Huwaysh, Saddam's minister of military industrialization, who was captured by U.S. forces May 2, 2003.
The Russian "spetsnaz" or special-operations forces were under the GRU military intelligence service and organized large commercial truck convoys for the weapons removal, the official said.
Regarding the explosives, the new Iraqi government reported that 194.7 metric tons of HMX, or high-melting-point explosive, and 141.2 metric tons of RDX, or rapid-detonation explosive, and 5.8 metric tons of PETN, or pentaerythritol tetranitrate, were missing.
The material is used in nuclear weapons and also in making military "plastic" high explosive.
Defense officials said the Russians can provide information on what happened to the Iraqi weapons and explosives that were transported out of the country. Officials believe the Russians also can explain what happened to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Piper on the Candidates

John Piper explains why he's disillusioned with both Kerry and Bush--but given that Piper is a one-issue (pro-life) voter, we still know who he'll end up voting for.

Regarding That October Surprise / Attack

Bill Gertz is reporting in Thursday's Washington Post that "Russian special forces troops moved many of Saddam Hussein's weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation.... John A. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said in an interview that he believes the Russian troops, working with Iraqi intelligence, 'almost certainly' removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad." The full article is here, though at the time of this posting, Drudge's linking to it has temporarily crashed the Washington Times server.

Remember, John Kerry has now made the missing weapons a centerpiece of his final-week attack on Bush--going so far as to make a TV ad about the issue! The NYT rushed the story as a last minute October Surprise/Attack. CBS was sitting on the story until election eve. Andrew Sullivan called it "exhibit A" in the "criminal negligence" of this Adminstration.

Oh well. Maybe they can dig up something else instead.

(Hat tip: JK at

MSM = Mainstream Sullivan Media?

Andrew Sullivan's blog was one of the first that I read. I was hooked. His writing was intelligent, witty, and provocative. I disagreed with him on lots of things, but always found myself challenged.

Andrew is a fiscal conservative, a social liberal, and a hawk on foreign policy. He has supported Bush in the past, but the President's endorsement of a constitutional amendment on marriage and his mismanagement on the Iraq war (an invasion Sullivan enthusiastically supported) have drawn Andrew's wrath.

On Wednesday Andrew finally wrote his endorsement of John Kerry for President.

Today James Lilek gave Andrew's endorsement a good fisking. (If you've never read Lileks, be patient during the first few paragraphs--it sometimes takes him a little while to get going!)

Anyway, I decided to write Andrew a letter this morning. I was pleasantly surprised tonight to see that he had reprinted it onto his site (all posted letters are anonymous).

Here is what he reprinted. I do hope he takes it to heart. (BTW, though I do editing for a living, I am a virtual typo machine! So I've cleaned up some of my typos which remain in the post on Andrew's site.)

Obviously the Kerry endorsement surprised no one. You made the case for him as well as can be made, I suppose. I do suspect--though I don't know--that you don't truly believe in your heart that Kerry is the kind of man to lead the next phase of the GWOT. It does seem as if, in the deepest recesses of your heart, you wish you could cast a "no" vote on Bush without casting a "yes" vote for Kerry. If this weren't true, I don't think elements of your primary endorsement for Kerry would include things like he will be forced to do the right thing, and the fact that he sounded militarily strong at his convention!

You, of course, are free to endorse Kerry. But I suspect that I am not alone in telling you this: From now on, whenever you write something hawkish on your blog, I will silently say to myself--every time--Yes, Andrew, but you voted for
John Kerry. Again, I think deep in your heart you know that John Kerry is not the sort of man who understands the GWOT. Imagine telling yourself a year ago that you would be voting for a candidate who said that 9/11 didn't really change his views much at all, and that he longed for the 9/10 days where terrorism was a "nuisance"!

On to my main point: my largest disappointment is that I'm increasingly finding your blog difficult to differentiate from the MSM. That's one of the reasons I became a reader and contributor in the first place. You weren't afraid to stick it to the NYT. You presented "the other side" that the MSM were ignoring on Iraq.

But now, I fear you are deeply identifying with the MSM. And maybe you are now at a place where you can understand the internal rationality of the liberal media bias: you get to a point where you detest a large number of Bush's policies to such a degree that you will do anything it takes to make him look stupid or, ultimately, to ensure a Bush defeat. In the last month I've read in amazement as you consistently pick the outlier poll to highlight, showing phantom Kerry momentum. All of a sudden, you have begun treating CBS and the NYT as two neutral, utterly reliable news sources. You have begun appealing to Joshua Micah Marshall to back you up! Yes, we know you have deep anger and resentment toward the President. Fine. But at least, perhaps, you could hide it a bit. It's starting to seem like there isn't a mainstream Bush-bashing story that you don't devour. There's hardly a Kerry endorsement you won't highlight. Every Bush misstep is further evidence that there's no plan and the world is going to end in Iraq. You think the weapons cache story al Qa Qaa is "exhibit A" in the case of "criminal negligence" on the part of the Bush administration--before you've even done any research on the story yourself. (Since when has the
modus operandi of Andrew Sullivan been that the NYT says it, it must be true?!) You also seem to act as if the liberal bias of the MSM and their sloppy journalistic standards--something you used to speak passionately and persuasively on--have disappeared.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The September 10 Candidate vs. the September 12 Candidate

In my opinion, Daniel Pipes--director of the Middle East Forum--hits the nail on its head in this column in the New York Sun: 9/10 vs. 9/12 on 11/2.

The Redskins Rule

[Welcome readers--see the "Update" below.]

One of the great fallacies of this political season is that the election will be decided on November 2. Wrong. The whole thing will be determined this Sunday afternoon at Fed-Ex field in Washington, D.C. That's where the Washington Redskins host the Green Bay Packers. You can forget Zogby, Gallup, Rasmussen, RealClearPolitics, etc. None of them can match the track record of the Redskins Rule.

For the past 72 years, the fate of the Redskins in their last game before the election has predicted whether or not the incumbent party holds the White House. If the Redskins win, the incumbent party stays. If the Redskins lose or tie, the incumbent loses the White House. The rule has held for the last 18 elections (see below).

David Dolan, an assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, calculated the odds of this happening for 1 in 263.5 million. (By the way, that’s 2,600 times higher than the chance of getting killed by lightning!)

Football fans will recall that four years ago the Tennessee Titans played the Washington Redskins in the pre-election game. The game, as you may recall, was a cliffhanger. (And Al Gore was actually at the game to cheer on his team.) But the Redskins Rule held: the Titans won, 27-21. And Bush won the presidential nail-biter.

Prediction: the Redskins will win decisively.

For the history buffs, here are the details:


Tennessee 27, Redskins 21

George W. Bush defeats Al Gore—Democrats lose the White House


Redskins 31, Indianapolis 16

Bill Clinton defeats Bob Dole—Democrats keep the White House


New York Giants 24, Redskins 7

Clinton defeats George H.W. Bush—Republicans lose the White House


Redskins 27, New Orleans 24

George H.W. Bush defeats Michael Dukakis—Republicans keep the White House


Redskins 27, Atlanta 14

Ronald Reagan defeats Walter Mondale—Republicans keep the White House


Minnesota 39, Redskins 14

Ronald Reagan defeats Jimmy Carter—Democrats lose the White House


Dallas 20, Redskins 7

Jimmy Carter defeats Gerald Ford—Republicans lose the White House


Redskins 35, New York Jets 17

Richard Nixon defeats George McGovern—Republicans keep the White House


Minnesota 27, Redskins 13

Richard Nixon defeats Hubert Humphrey—Democrats lose the White House


Redskins 21, Philadelphia 10

Lyndon Johnson defeats Barry Goldwater—Democrats keep the White House


Cleveland 31, Redskins 10

John Kennedy defeats Richard Nixon—the Republicans lose the White House


Redskins 17, Chicago Cardinals 14

Dwight Eisenhower defeats Adlai Stevenson—Republicans keep the White House


Pittsburgh 24, Redskins 23

Dwight Eisenhower defeats Adlai Stevenson—Democrats lose the White House


Redskins 51, Boston Yanks 21

Harry Truman defeats Thomas Dewey—Democrats keep the White House


Redskins 42, Chi-Pitt 20

Franklin Roosevelt defeats Thomas Dewey—Democrats keep the White House


Washington Redskins 37, Pittsburgh 10

Franklin Roosevelt defeats Wendell Willkie—Democrats keep the White House


Boston Redskins 13, Chicago Cardinals 10

Franklin Roosevelt defeats Alfred Landon—Democrats keep the White House


Boston Braves 7, Chicago Bears 7

Franklin Roosevelt defeats Herbert Hoover—Republicans lose the White House

UPDATE: Welcome readers! James Taranto writes:

This number seems vastly out of line. If we assume that the Skins have a 50% chance of winning each game and the incumbent party has a 50% chance of winning each election, the odds of the two indicators matching up for 18 elections in a row are 1 in 262,144 (2 to the 18th power). The odds that they will match up for 19 elections in a row are 1 in 524,288. Does this mean you should bet against the pattern repeating? Of course not. The odds that it will are 50-50 (with Bush and the Skins both slightly favored).

Hey. I report--you decide! If there's anyone out there who knows how to calcuate statistics, feel free to leave your answer in the comments section below, and/or email!

BTW, I've emailed Professor Dolan for his response.

Update 2. Professor Dolan emailed to say that misquoted him. He said "thousand," not "million." I blame Al Gore for inventing the Internet--or as George Bush calls it, the Internets. Sorry for the confusion. But I'm still predicting a Redskins--and Bush--decisive victory!

Update 3. I erred in my original post--as noted in the comments section below--by not specifying that it applies only to the last Redskins home game, not just the last game, before the election. Sorry for the confusion. And by now, everyone knows that the Redskins did indeed lose. Well, if the Red Sox can break "the curse," then the Packers can snap the "Redskins Rule"! Go W.

Oops, They Did It Again

Roger L. Simon--mystery novelist, screenwriter, 9/11 Democrat, and now blogger extraordinaire--is calling the latest NYT deception "a worse disgrace than the Jayson Blair affair. . . . Yes, this is worse than Jayson Blair." To see why, see here.

Update: Looks like 60 Minutes couldn't resist dipping its hands back into the jar, either!

I could not agree more with this quote from Cal Thomas (via Polipundit): “Regardless of who wins next Tuesday’s election (and no matter how long it takes to get the results following expected lawsuits and ballots cast by ineligible voters), this may well be the last election cycle in which the Big Media are taken seriously or regarded as influential.”

Monday, October 25, 2004

Reproductive Freedom in the 21st Century--Sanger Style

Alexander Sanger is the grandson of Margaret Sanger (the founder of Planned Parenthood). He is currently Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund, the chairman of The International Planned Parenthood Council, and the former President of Planned Parenthood in New York City.

On his Crosswalk blog, Al Mohler examines Sanger's new book, Beyond Choice: Reproductive Freedom in the 21st Century. Mohler notes that Sanger is on a crusade to transform the abortion debate:

Alexander Sanger wants the pro-abortion movement to get over its legacy of shame and move boldly to claim that abortion is actually a positive moral good.

. . . "Few women today publicly and proudly acknowledge having had an abortion," Sanger explains. "We can no longer be ashamed of abortion. Abortion won't become safely legal until we recognize and admit how reproductive freedom, including the right to an abortion, furthers human destiny. We got over our shame with birth control. It's time we did so with abortion."

. . . In his new book, Beyond Choice: Reproductive Freedom in the 21st Century, he argues that the movement for what he calls "reproductive freedom" has been hampered by a reluctance to claim that abortion is a moral good. By acting as if abortion is a matter of shame, he argues, the pro-abortion movement has undermined its own cause.

. . . "The primary focus of the pro-choice movement should be on why reproductive freedom is vital to humanity and why abortion is good," Sanger now insists. The abortion rights movement should argue "not for legal abortion, but for abortion" he insists.

For more on Sanger's Darwinistic perspective, as well as Mohler's response, read the whole thing.

Teens, TV, and Technical Virgins

Don't miss Joe Carter's post over at Evangelical Outpost entitled: Teens, Television, and the Technical Virgin: The Connection Between Viewing Habits and Sexual Behavior.

Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens--a columnist for Vanity Fair and a visiting professor of liberal studies at New School University--endorses Bush: Why I'm (Slightly) for Bush. Hitchens, like many in this post-9/11 world, is now a one-issue (war on terrorism) voter. His endorsement is an excellent read.

Where Do I Vote?

A helpful site:

Sunday, October 24, 2004


An inability to carry a tune is a problem that many of us have. It is not something to make fun of. But, honestly, if you can't sing, you should probably not try to have a singing career. Someone should have mentioned that to Ashlee Simpson. (Video here.)

Stage Fright

Fear of public speaking often ranks high on the list of people's fears. It's not something to make fun of. But honestly, if you have this fear, I don't think running for political office is the best idea. Someone should probably have told that to Maria Parra.

Update: Oops--sorry for the wrong link. It's been corrected. Thanks Josh!

Whopper Watch

Looks like the Washington Times has uncovered another Kerry Whopper. Kerry claims to have met with the entire UN Security Council in October of 2002, just a week before his vote to authorize force against Iraq.

"This president hasn't listened. I went to meet with the members of the Security Council in the week before we voted. I went to New York. I talked to all of them, to find out how serious they were about really holding Saddam Hussein accountable," Mr. Kerry said of the Iraqi dictator.
Speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York in December 2003, Mr. Kerry explained that he understood the "real readiness" of the United Nations to "take this seriously" because he met "with the entire Security Council, and we spent a couple of hours talking about what they saw as the path to a united front in order to be able to deal with Saddam Hussein."

Here's the problem:

But of the five ambassadors on the Security Council in 2002 who were reached directly for comment, four said they had never met Mr. Kerry. The four also said that no one who worked for their countries' U.N. missions had met with Mr. Kerry either.
The former ambassadors who said on the record they had never met Mr. Kerry included the representatives of Mexico, Colombia and Bulgaria. The ambassador of a fourth country gave a similar account on the condition that his country not be identified.

The whole article can be read here.

Stassen (Continued)

Readers who are interested in Prof. Stassen's most recent articulations on abortion ethics should consult his book, Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2003), co-authored with David Gushee.

In personal correspondence, Prof. Stassen tells me that he did not remember the 1977 statement "A Call to Concern" being in support of Roe v. Wade, and that positions do indeed change over the years. Fair enough. As I said above, those interested in knowing his current position should consult his book.

I want to thank Prof. Stassen for his prompt and cordial interaction. We certainly disagree on a number of significant issues, but I believe the dialogue can be important.

Everything-I-Need-to-Know-I-Learned-in-Kindegarten Foreign Policy

John Leo makes an excellent point in the most recent edition of US News & World Report. The immediate context is Andrew Sullivan's endorsement of John Kerry for President:

Many of the doubts that hover over Sullivan's case for Kerry are rooted in the value system widely shared among Democrats: Most people are basically good; wars are caused not by evil motives but by misunderstandings that can be talked out; conflict can be overcome by more tolerance and examining of our own faults or by taking disputes to the United Nations. As a personal creed, these benign and humble attitudes are admirable. As the foundation of a policy to confront terrorists who wish to blow up our cities, they are alarming.

This is exactly the way that I used to think. Now I refer to it as the the Everything-I-Need-to-Know-I-Learned-in-Kindegarten version of foreign policy.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Luther's Toilet

Now this is an archaelogical discovery that would be worth visiting!

Luther once famously remarked, "If I break wind in Wittneberg they smell it in room." Now we can go and see a place on which he spent a lot of time!

Stassen and "A Call to Concern"

By way of review: Glen Harold Stassen, an ethics professor at Fuller, wrote an op-ed piece (Pro-Life? Look at the Fruits) arguing that abortions have risen under Bush’s presidency due to conservative economic policies.

The National Right to Life Committee wrote a critique (short version and a long version). One of their points was that despite Prof. Stassen’s insistence that he was consistently pro-life, he was, in fact, one of the original signatories of ‘A Call to Concern,’ a 1977 document that expressed support for the Roe v. Wade decision and affirmed that ‘abortion in some instances may be the most loving act possible.’ If his view has changed, or if he sees this original stance as somehow compatible with his current ‘consistent pro-life position,’ he does not say.” Prof. Stassen responded yesterday in this space. He wrote, in part, “I did not sign a statement in 1977 supporting Roe V Wade; along with very large numbers of Christian ethicists, I signed a statement supporting academic freedom for Christian ethicists and moral theologians who take varieties of positions on these issues, and who were under pressure in some schools. I do not appreciate the personal attack.” Ramesh Ponnuru at National Review’s The Corner said the question could be quickly resolved if anyone could post the 1977 statement.

I’ve just returned from the library, where I found a copy of the original statement. It was a paid advertisement printed in the journal Christianity and Crisis (Oct. 3, 1977), pp. 222-234. I have reprinted it in its entirety, though I have not reprinted all the signatories.

* * *

A Call to Concern

The increasing urgency of the issue of abortion rights requires us as teachers and writers of religious ethics to speak out.

Abortion is a serious and sometimes tragic procedure for dealing with fetal life. It raises important ethical issues and cannot be blandly legitimized by the mere whim of an individual. Nevertheless, it belongs in that large realm of often tragic actions where circumstances can render it a less destructive procedures than the rigid prolongation of pregnancy.

We support the Supreme Court decisions of 1973 which had the effect of removing abortion from the criminal law codes. The Court did not appeal to religion or ethics in arriving at its judgment, but we believe the decision to have been in accord with sound ethical judgment. Taking note of the fact that theologians, as well as other experts, disagree on the fundamental moral question of when life begins, the Court decided that the law ought not to compel the conscience of those who believe abortion to be in harmony with their moral convictions.

In the last four years, however, those decisions have been subjected to a relentless attack from those who take the absolutist position that it is always wrong to terminate a pregnancy at any time after the moment of conception. Those who take this absolutist position have not hesitated to equate abortion at any stage of pregnancy with murder of manslaughter. From such an extreme viewpoint, all legal means are considered justified if they limit abortions, no matter what the human consequences for poor women and others—as in the recent efforts to deny Medicaid funds and to prohibit use of public hospitals for abortion services.

We feel compelled to affirm to affirm an alternative position as a matter of conscience and professional responsibility.

1. The most compelling argument against the inflexibility of the absolutist position is its cost in human misery. The absolutist position does not concern itself about the quality of the entire life cycle, the health and well-being of the mother and family, the question of emotional and economic resources, the cases of extreme deformity. Its total preoccupation with the status of the unborn renders it blind to the well-being and freedom of choice of persons in community.

2. “Pro-life” must not be limited to concern for the unborn; it must also include a concern for the quality of life as a whole. The affirmation of life in Judeo-Christian ethics requires a commitment to make life healthy and whole from beginning to end. Considering the best medical advise, the best moral insight, and a concern for the total quality of the whole life cycle for the born and the unborn, we believe that abortion may in some instances be the most loving act possible.

3. We believe it is wrong to deny Medicaid assistance to poor women seeking abortions.
This denial makes it difficult for those who need it most to exercise a legal right, and it implies public censure of a form of medical service which in fact has the moral support of major religious groups.

4. We are saddened by the heavy institutional involvement of the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in a campaign to enact religiously-based anti-abortion commitments into law, and we view this as a serious threat to religious liberty and freedom of conscience. We acknowledge the legal right of all individuals and groups, both religious and secular, to seek laws that reflect their religious and ethical beliefs. But the institutional mobilization of Roman Catholic dioceses, including massive financial contributions by those dioceses to the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, is inappropriate on this issue. If successful, it would violate the deeply held religious convictions of individual members and official bodies of many other religious groups about when human personhood begins, the relative rights of a woman and a fetus, and responsible family life. This is particularly a problem when there is no clear majority opinion on these fundamental issues nor an adequate social base or consensus for legitimate and enforceable legislation.

5. We call upon the leaders of religious groups supporting abortion rights to speak out more clearly and publicly in response to the dangerously increasing influence of the absolutist position. There may be some ecumenical risks in such candor, but those risks have been assumed by those who have pressed the absolutist position on religious grounds. In the long run, the true test of ecumenical authenticity is the ability to sustain dialogue and friendship in spit of very sharp disagreements on matters of substance.

* * *

Ed. note: As readers can see, the statement does indeed support Roe v. Wade: “We support the Supreme Court decisions of 1973 which had the effect of removing abortion from the criminal law codes. . . . [W]e believe the decision to have been in accord with sound ethical judgment.” Of course, the statement says more than this, but certainly curious as to why Stassen would say “I did not sign a statement in 1977 supporting Roe V Wade” when he did in fact sign such a statement. Even more curious is why he would label that truth a “personal attack.”

I will refrain from offering a full-scale critique of this document. But do note a couple of things: (1) Note the manipulative terms used to frame the debate. Their opponents’ positions are “rigid,” “relentless,” “absolutist,” “extreme,” and “blind.” (2) Re-read their first numbered point. Their “most compelling argument” against the “absolutist position” is the “cost of human misery.” An unbelievable statement--which essentially means that the utility or happiness of human beings is a higher good than the protection of life for human beings.

Ramesh Ponnuru in today’s Corner reprints an email from Michael New, a political science professor at the University of Alabama.

"In the Corner I have noticed a lot of discussion about Dr. Stassen's article in Sojourners. As someone who has done some research on fluctuations in abortion rates, I might have some insights to offer. Overall, I think that Dr. Stassen's reasoning is very flawed for the following reasons.

1) Academic researchers who study abortion, almost never use data from state health departments the way Dr. Stassen does. Papers in academic journals always use data from either the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI). Both of these groups have collection mechanisms that are more consistent.

“2) Dr. Stassen does pose an interesting question when he asks why the abortion rate declined during the Clinton administration? The research I have done indicates that the decline has little to do with Clinton's policies. Instead, it has more to do with the sharp increase in pro-life legislation that was enacted at the state level during this time.

“In 1992, virtually no states were enforcing had informed-consent laws, by 2000 27 states had informed-consent laws in effect.

“In 1992, no states had banned or restricted partial-birth abortion, by 2000, 12 states had bans or restrictions in effect.

“In 1992 only 20 states were enforcing parental-involvement statutes, by 2000 32 states were enforcing these laws.

“My January study for the Heritage Foundation, which analyzes abortion data from every state from 1985 to 1999, provides solid statistical evidence that state legislation caused real declines in the abortion rate.

“3) Why was there this increase in pro-life legislation? There are two reasons and they both have to do with the election of pro-life candidates. The same candidates whom Dr. Stassen likely opposes.

“First, Republicans took control of both chambers of the state legislature in 11 additional states during the 1994 elections. In most cases, Republicans maintained control of these legislatures through end of the decade. This made it easier for pro-lifers in many states to enact protective legislation.

“Second, judicial appointees by Presidents Reagan and Bush gave state level pro-life legislation more protection. The Casey vs. Planned Parenthood decision was a disappointment to pro-lifers because the Supreme Court chose not to overturn Roe vs. Wade. However, by finding constitutional some of the policies in Pennsylvania's Abortion Control Act, the Supreme Court gave greater protection to state level pro-life legislation.

“Prior to Casey, the only laws that consistently survived judicial were parental involvement laws and Medicaid funding restrictions. After Casey, informed consent laws and many state partial birth abortion bans were upheld as well.”

Update: Ramesh responds to the above posting of "A Call to Concern":

"The most charitable view is that Stassen's memory has failed him: The document is an unequivocal statement of support for Roe and says zilch about academic freedom. If Stassen has changed his views since then, good for him. But he ought to correct the record."

Friday, October 22, 2004

Prof. Stassen Responds

Yesterday in this space we discussed an op-ed piece by Prof. Glen Harold Stassen of Fuller Theological Seminary. In an op-ed piece (Pro-Life? Look at the Fruits) that has been published and is now circulating the Internet, Dr. Stassen argued that the number of abortions have increased under the Bush administration, and that being pro-life goes beyond just rhetoric--it also involves economic issues like health care, jobs, etc.

I posted a brief response by my friend Matt Perman, and then the National Right to Life Committee issued a more detailed response (there is a short version and a longer version).

I have invited Prof. Stassen to respond, and he graciously agreed to do so in this space. Here is his response. He also sent a chart with related statistics. I will seek to post this just as soon as I can--but I'll first have to figure out how to upload a PDF file. More soon....


Randall K. O’Bannon and Laura Hussey are right that I say "state abortion data from 2001, 2002, and 2003 show a clear pattern of increase over figures from 2000 and earlier." But they are wrong when they deny this. They say I note "correctly, that there were about 1,610,00 abortions in 1990 and. . . 1,313,000 in 2000, representing an overall decline of 17.4% for the decade. Pretty much on the mark." This is a decrease of about 300,000 abortions per year in the 1990s.

Because my wife and I know from the experience of amazing, gracious help raising our son David, damaged by the German measles that my wife had when pregnant, we know that believing you can raise your child, and getting help in doing so, is hugely important in refusing to have an abortion. It is because we know this from first-hand experience that we know support for prospective mothers is crucial in preventing abortions. This is no "twist in logic," as they suggest. This is our life experience. Perhaps they have not raised such a child. Perhaps this is why they do not understand. My wife also worked as a nurse in a high school for pregnant teenagers, enabling them to bring their babies to school, to get their medical exams there, to get training in nutrition and healthy mothering there, so they would not have abortions. And they did not have abortions. They raised healthy babies. We know support for prospective mothers is crucial in preventing abortions. This is experiential reality. The data I analyzed are simply a supplement to what anyone who assists pregnant women should know intuitively.

An advantage of citing actual data publicly is that other persons can check the numbers to see if an error crept in. An honest person admits errors when they are found in this process, and makes corrections. O'Bannon and Hussey have worked hard to refute what I have shown, and they are right that I made an error in tallying South Dakota and Wisconsin. These two states experienced a decrease rather than increase, totaling 510 abortions. Correcting that error means that the increase in abortions in the sixteen states was 6,849, not 7,869. Hence if the trend in these sixteen states holds for the fifty states, the total U.S. increase in abortions that year was about 21,500. Had the average annual decrease in the years prior to Bush continued, we would have instead expected a decrease of 28,000 fewer abortions. Hence close to 50,000 more abortions took place in 2002 than expected.

They then raise the possibility that Colorado and Arizona increases may or may not be caused by better reporting. But there are also two countervailing possibilities. The very underreporting that they speculate on is more likely to occur in most states in the most recent years of 2002 and 2003 because some providers did not get their reports in yet. This underreporting may be corrected later when they do report. Hence the actual increase in abortions may be greater than the numbers I found. Furthermore in more recent years, quoting them, "RU486, the abortion pill, which went on the market in late 2000," may have resulted in abortions that were not reported because they did not take place in reporting clinics. This, too, probably means the increase in abortions was greater than the numbers I found. Had I estimated these possibilities of overreporting and underreporting, surely speculation and bias could have crept in. Therefore, I reported all the data that I could find, as it came from the state health departments, and did not omit any data one way or the other, in order to be as objective as I could. Selective reporting according to whether the data fit one's conclusion would bias the results. For example, O'Bannion and Hussey confirm my report that Illinois abortions increased in 2002, but then they report that they found data for Illinois in 2003, in which the number of abortions then decreased. Yet when they point to Wisconsin's 2002 decrease, they fail to report that in 2003, abortions in Wisconsin actually increased. Such selectivity looks like trying to defend against the truth and support a preconceived notion rather than accepting all the data in a consistent way. I sought to be objective by counting all the data the health departments reported.

O'Bannion and Hussey rightly state that I say the data show "if jobs are lost, abortion increases." But they call this speculation. It is surely more than that. I cite the following four sets of confirming facts:

1) Two-thirds of women who have abortions say they do not see how they could afford to raise the child. When unemployment is up, affording to raise a child is harder.

2) Half of women who have abortions say they do not have a reliable mate. Data from Children's Defense Fund clearly indicate that men without jobs do not usually marry. So increased unemployment in the last three years predict fewer marriages and fewer reliable mates, and therefore more abortions. I checked this for the sixteen states. Marriages in fact were down. Only three states had more marriages in 2002 than 2001, and as a group, their abortions actually decreased. Thirteen states had fewer marriages in 2002, and as a group, their abortions increased. Nicer confirmation is hard to fine.

3) Black and Latina women tend to be poorer and more unemployed. Their abortion rates are two to three times higher than white women.

4) The thirty-year trend confirms it. Abortion rates move in tandem with unemployment rates of women over the last thirty years. From 1973 to 1980, women's unemployment increased from approximately 6% to 7.6%, and the abortion rate increased from 16 to 29 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 45. (Of course, these were the first years after Roe v Wade, which surely also contributed mightily to the increase in abortions.) But then abortions did not keep increasing. From 1980 to 1992, unemployment decreased from 7.6% to 5.5% briefly, and then partway up briefly to 7%. During this period of slow decrease in unemployment, the abortion rate slowly decreased from 29 to 26. During the Clinton administration, unemployment dropped nicely to 4.5%, and the abortion rate dropped significantly to 21. During the present administration, women's unemployment increased above 6%, and the abortion rate appears to have increased to 22.

O'Bannion and Hussey say I look at only one year for my conclusions. In fact, I have looked at thirty years, but could report only one part of what I saw in a 700-word op/ed article.

They err when they claim I say that I got my information on national trends from Wisconsin Right to Life but that it actually came from Guttmacher. In fact I got my information from Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, not Wisconsin, as I say clearly. I am a native Minnesotan, where the state invests in education, and therefore the unemployment rate is among the nation's lowest, and the abortion rate is the very lowest, and where the abortion rate actually decreased in 2002 while others were increasing. I am proud of Minnesota. I did not get my data from Wisconsin or Guttmacher. Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life did get some of their data from Guttmacher, but I am citing the actual source from which I actually got my data—MCCL.

I did not sign a statement in 1977 supporting Roe V Wade; along with very large numbers of Christian ethicists, I signed a statement supporting academic freedom for Christian ethicists and moral theologians who take varieties of positions on these issues, and who were under pressure in some schools. I do not appreciate the personal attack. I invite O'Bannion and Hussey to come meet our son, who lives in our home with us, and meet my wife, who worked for many years in a school for pregnant teenagers so they could have their babies and stay in school and plan a future. It was a huge success, from a prolife perspective. I want our whole nation to be a huge success in supporting prospective mothers, and fathers, and their babies. I want us to be prolife in deed, not only in rhetoric. I am hoping that here we can find common ground. I respect O'Bannion and Hussey for their very extensive work in checking the numbers, and for their prolife commitment, and I sincerely hope we could work together.

I urge policy changes in both George Bush and John Kerry in the directions that I have indicated. Bush does better in words, and Kerry does better in supporting prospective mothers. I want Bush to support prospective mothers, and Kerry to articulate a commitment to dramatically reducing the number of abortions. Both changes are possible.


[Ed. note: Thoughtful, substantive responses are encouraged in the comments section below.]

Ramesh Ponnuru at National Review responds:

Prof. Glen Harold Stassen has argued that pro-lifers should support John Kerry because Bush's economic policies have led to increased abortion rates. The National Right to Life Committee, among others, has responded to the bits of evidence and logic Stassen uses to reach these conclusions. Now Justin Taylor has posted Stassen's response to the critiques. I don't doubt that Stassen is sincere in wanting to reduce the abortion rate. But to my mind, his response is totally unpersuasive, as was his initial "study." He doesn't establish that higher unemployment or lower health-insurance rates increase the abortion rate, that Bush's policies have caused unemployment to rise, or that abortion rates have even risen at all under Bush. For example, he does not deal with NRLC's point that abortion rates and unemployment rates don't appear to correlate with each other among states. Nor does Stassen attempt to deal with other factors that might have affected the data. Stassen also leans too much on his own family's experience, in a way that attempts to guilt-trip people out of disagreeing with him.

One side-issue that has come up here is whether a statement that the professor signed in 1977 supported Roe v. Wade. If anyone has a copy of that statement and could post it, this issue, at least, could be resolved.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

"Reclaiming the Center"

A book I co-edited with Millard Erickson and Paul Kjoss Helseth is set to be published in about a month. The title of this multi-author work is Reclaiming the Center: Evangelical Accommodation in Postmodern Times. It is a critique of postconservative evangelical tehology. Crossway Books, the publisher, has now posted a number of files from the book onto their website:


Excerpt: An Introduction to Postconservative Evangelicalism and the Rest of This Book (Justin Taylor) - 155K PDF

Excerpt: On Flying in Theological Fog (Millard J. Erickson) - 244K PDF

Index - 131K PDF

Back Cover

And here are the endorsements we've received for the book.

“When evangelicals confuse an improper passion for novelty with a proper pursuit of academic and pastoral relevance, the results can be distressing. I cannot express how grateful I am for the well-formed wisdom with which this book points to the abiding and decisive relevance for future route-finding of the old theological paths.”
J. I. Packer, Professor, Regent College

“For those evangelicals who—like myself—are increasingly troubled by extravagant claims made by various evangelical scholars about the nature of the ‘postmodern’ challenge, as well as by earnest calls to develop new epistemological and theological perspectives in response to this challenge, the writers of these essays shed much light. This book is must-reading for everyone who wants to promote a clear-thinking evangelicalism for our contemporary context.”
Richard J. Mouw, President and Professor of Christian Philosophy, Fuller Seminary

“Here is a collection of intelligent, provocative, gutsy essays that dare to fly into the eye of the scholarly storm over evangelical identity. Though different perspectives are present even here, the underlying thesis is clear and worth heeding: the eager, and sometimes uncritical, embrace of postmodernist paradigms may be as premature as it has proven to be unproductive for the well-being of the evangelical church. One of the most important books of the new century!”
Timothy George, Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

“Provocative, timely, and controversial!”
Donald G. Bloesch, Professor of Theology Emeritus, Dubuque Theological Seminary

“Compromise and confusion stand at the center of evangelicalism’s theological crisis, and a clear-headed and convictional analysis of the problem has been desperately needed. Thankfully, Reclaiming the Center has arrived just in time. . . . My fervent hope is that it will open evangelical eyes, humble evangelical hearts, and awaken this generation to the peril of accommodationism.”
R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“The authors of this well-designed volume provide a bold and well-argued response to what is sometimes called ‘postconservative evangelicalism.’ This important conversation regarding the essence, center, and boundaries of evangelicalism is here explored, interpreted, and assessed from a well-informed theological, philosophical, and historical perspective. . . . I heartily commend this volume and trust it will find a large readership.”
David S. Dockery, President, Union University

Keep on eye on a new blog which will be devoted to discussing the book:

Although the book deals only tangentially with the Emergent Church movement, we're hoping that a number of Emergent folks will read, consider, and discuss the book. I look forward to a fruitful dialogue.

Howard Dean

His new radio ad plugging his book tour is pretty funny. Gotta be able to laugh at yourself!

The "Real Job" of Mothering

In an excellent article on Teresa's gaffe (saying she doesn't know if Laura Bush has ever had a "real job"), Hugh Hewitt reminds of this wonderful quote by Teddy Roosevelt:

"No ordinary work done by a man is either as hard or as responsible as the work of a woman who is bringing up a family of small children; for upon her time and strength demands are made not only every hour of the day but often every hour of the night. She may have to get up night after night to take care of a sick child, and yet must by day continue to do all her household duties as well; and if the family means are scant she must usually enjoy even her rare holidays taking her whole brood of children with her. The birth pangs make all men the debtors of all women. Above all our sympathy and regard are due to the struggling wives among those whom Abraham Lincoln called the plain people, and whom he so loved and trusted; for the lives of these women are often led on the lonely heights of quiet, self-sacrificing heroism."

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Blog Recommendation

Check out Rusty Lopez's blog, New Covenant, as he just celebrated his first blogoversary. His blog description reads: "Evangelical Christian Blog based on clear thinking and sound philosophy. Topics include: Apologetics, Intelligent Design, Homeschooling, and Politics (and everything else inbetween)." And Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost (who is always worth reading) offers this recommendation:

Anyone who has ever wondered what happened to the “evangelical mind” should read New Covenant on a regular basis. Rusty is the kind of critical thinker and serious blogger that will transform the way evangelical Christians are perceived in the 21st century.

Kerry: The Pro-Life Candidate?

Glen H. Stassen, the Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary, recently wrote an article called: Pro-Life? Look at the Fruits. His believes that the number of abortions have risen under the Bush presidency. He concludes: “Economic policy and abortion are not separate issues; they form one moral imperative. Rhetoric is hollow, mere tinkling brass, without health care, health insurance, jobs, childcare, and a living wage. Pro-life in deed, not merely in word, means we need a president who will do something about jobs and insurance and support for prospective mothers.” The implication is left that John Kerry would actually be a better pro-life president than George Bush.

My friend Matt Perman wrote a quick, persuasive response:

His first reason for the increase in abortions during Bush’s presidency is a decrease in employment and incomes, and a stagnant minimum wage. “In the past three years, unemployment rates increased half again. Average real incomes decreased, and the minimum wage has not been raised to keep up with inflation for seven years. With less income, many prospective mothers fear another mouth to feed.” He is implying that Bush’s policies are responsible for these things. I would say, instead, the economy began declining 6 months before Bush took office. Then, 9/11 hit. The recession and economic decline was therefore not Bush’s fault.

Instead, Bush’s economic policies kept the recession from being worse than it was. Almost all economists agree that in a recession, you cut taxes to stimulate economic growth. That’s what Bush did. And I’d argue, and Bush would too, that you should also cut taxes during the good times, because lower taxes increase the incentive to work and produce, thereby growing the economy more, recession or not. [Ed. note: See the recent comments by Edward Prescott—who shared the recent Nobel Prize in economics—who said the other day: “"The idea that you can increase taxes and stimulate the economy is pretty damn stupid.”] On a side note, I’d also want to add that minimum wage laws actually hurt the poor. This has been shown time and again. First, it needs to be said that most jobs are not minimum wage. Second, people who start at minimum wage don’t stay at minimum wage. If you are a good worker, you advance. But aside from those two things, minimum wage laws themselves hurt the poor. Here’s why: When there is a minimum that employers must pay, they hire less people (obviously, since the cost per employee is higher). That means unemployment goes up. Which means that there are less people that are able to get jobs, develop their skills, and move up the pay scale to higher paying jobs.

His second reason seems to be that there are fewer marriages occurring. Not sure how this can be pinned on Bush. Bush reduced the marriage penalty in our income taxes. The marriage penalty functioned as a disincentive to marriage, and Bush got rid of it. I would then add that, speaking to the last 50 years as a whole, it is actually liberal welfare programs (the kind of thing I think this author loves) that have kept so many inner-city people from marrying. The reason is that, because of the way welfare benefits were structured, it made more economic sense for an urban woman to keep having children but not marry. So welfare policies have destroyed the urban family.

Third, the author states: “Economic policy and abortion are not separate issues; they form one moral imperative. Rhetoric is hollow, mere tinkling brass, without health care, health insurance, jobs, childcare, and a living wage. Pro-life in deed, not merely in word, means we need a president who will do something about jobs and insurance and support for prospective mothers.” I agree that economic policy and abortion are not separate issues. But I totally disagree that increased government programs are the answer—and that is exactly what this guy is hinting at, obviously. I think that a pro free-market economic policy, which reduces government regulation and burdensome taxation, is actually the most pro-life economic policy you can have. The reason is that small government, low regulation, and low taxes stimulate economic growth. The result is that we have a rising tide that raises all boats. There are more jobs, so more poor can work. The economy is more productive, so the everyone, including the poor, make more money. So I am for Bush’s economic policies not because I don’t care about the poor, but precisely because I do care about the poor. Economic growth is the only long-term solution to poverty. Government expansion and entitlement programs actually make things worse, not better. This guy, then, has it backwards. He is opposing the very things that will solve the problems he cares so much about.

To these excellent points I would only add that John Kerry voted against the partial-birth abortion ban, against the bill that would make harming an unborn fetus a criminal act, and that in December of 2003, the NARL gave John Kerry a 100% rating for his pro-choice voting record. To think that John Kerry would be the better candidate to promote a culture of life in the United States, is frankly, a deeply mistaken fantasy.

UPDATE: The National Right to Life Committee has written a devastating piece on why Stassen's claims are "baseless" and how his numbers "don't add up." There's a short version and a longer version. Interesting quote, too:

Though he identifies himself as “consistently pro-life,” Stassen fails to mention that he was one of the original signatories of “A Call to Concern,” a 1977 document that expressed support for the Roe v. Wade decision and affirmed that “abortion in some instances may be the most loving act possible.”

(Hat tip: The Corner)


If you're looking for a good book on what Scripture teaches about eschatology (the end times), you should definitely read Anthony Hoekema's The Bible and the Future. Far too many people are getting their eschatology from the Left-Behind series, which teaches a vision of the future that won't come to pass (since Scripture doesn't teach it). If you disagree, I encourage you to read Hoekema for yourself!

Why I Love Teresa!

I love it when Teresa Heinz-Kerry does interviews! Doesn’t this quote from a USA Today interview pretty much sum up the coherence and eloquence of Teresa Heinz Kerry?

“We are continually being from somewhere.”

Also, the Kerry camp seems to have this weird fixation with insulting the family members of the Bush-Cheney team! Speaking of Laura Bush, she says:

“I don't know that she's ever had a real job — I mean, since she's been grown up.”

I guess teacher, librarian, and homemaker don’t count as “real jobs.” Nice one. I’m sure the Kerry campaign is thrilled that Teresa simultaneously insulted millions of people and one of the most popular women in America. Why the Kerry campaign lets her speak and give interviews, I'm not sure--but I sure do enjoy them!

No Moore

The trailers for Celsius 41.11 and Michael Moore Hates America show that these are two very different films. But both look well worth seeing. Unfortunately, only the latter is showing in the Minneapolis theatres.


The John Edwards' amazingly lengthy hair-grooming video now has music!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

An Open Letter to Young Voters

Joe at Evangelical Outpost writes an excellent open letter to young voters who are being scared by the phony draft rumors.

Ashley's Story

If you want to see the most expensive TV ad buy of the presidential campaign ($14.2 million), check out the Ashley's Story website.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Dembski Appointment

Excellent news. On September 16 Albert Mohler announced the establishment of the Center for Science and Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, along with the appointment of renowned philosopher of science William A. Dembski as its first director.

Dembski's writings can be read here.
He has a B.A. in psychology, an M.S. in statistics, an M.A. in philosophy, a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Illinois at Chicago; an S.M. in mathematics and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Chicago; and an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary. (For those keeping track, that's one bachelor's degree, four masters' degrees, and two doctorates!) He then went on to do postdoctoral work in mathematics at MIT, in physics at the University of Chicago, and in computer science at Princeton University

Dr. previously taught at Northwestern University, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Dallas, and Baylor University. He was formerly an associate research professor in the conceptual foundations of science at Baylor University, is a senior fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture in Seattle, and is Executive Director of the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design. Not bad for a guy in his early forties!

Kerry's Taxes

Excellent column by Stephen Moore in this morning's Wall Street Journal. The subtitle tells the bottom line: John Kerry and his billionaire wife pay lower taxes than you do.

The Kerry's paid 12.8% last year in their taxes. The average middle-class family pays about 20%. And the Bushes paid 30%.

Here are a couple of key quotes from the article:

Now don't get me wrong: I'm not against people paying a 12.8% tax rate. Far from it. I just believe that all Americans--even those who can't afford to hire tax attorneys to set up complicated trusts and find legal ways to stash income in other tax-sheltered investments like municipal bonds--should have a shot at that kind of non-confiscatory tax rate.

...Of course, there is delicious irony in the Kerry family tax-return data. Here is the man who finds clever ways to reduce his own tax liability while voting for higher taxes on the middle class dozens of times in his Senate career. He even voted against the Bush tax cut that saves each middle-class family about $1,000.

The Kerrys have unwittingly made the case for what George W. Bush says he wants to do: radically simplify and flatten out the tax code. Dick Armey and Steve Forbes have persuasively argued over the years that America should have a flat tax with a rate of 17% to 19%. John Kerry has consistently opposed a flat tax, because he says it would be a tax break for the rich. But the truth is with a 19% flat tax, some rich people with lavish tax shelters, like John Kerry, would pay more taxes. I calculate that the Kerrys would pay another $500,000 of taxes if we had a flat tax.

So before John Kerry is given the opportunity to raise taxes again on American workers, shouldn't he and Teresa at least pay their fair share?