Thursday, October 31, 2002

As reported here over the last several days, the Minneapolis Star Tribune concedes that Norm Coleman's campaign is drawing crowds and gaining momentum. We believe that Coleman is now leading Mondale in both the Democrats' polls and the Republicans' polls. We will report further as soon as we have more inside information.
The Washington Times offers an optimistic take on the FBI's progress in infiltrating and neutralizing al Qaeda cells in the U.S.

By the way, Deacon, we should tell our readers that Michelle Malkin is a Power Line reader. She sent us an email saying we have "a GREAT blog!" We, of course, are far bigger fans of her than she is of us.
Michelle Malkin is a great favorite of Power Line, especially for her efforts on immigration issues. In this piece, she notes that no one seems to know how old accused sniper John Lee Malvo really is. This uncertainty points to a basic problem in our immigration system. As Malkin explains, minors who enter the U.S. illegally qualify for exemption from immediate deportation. They are automatically released to any family member living in the U.S. pending deportation hearings that often do not occur for many months. How does the INS determine the age of illegal immigrants who claim to be minors? According to Malkin, INS policy calls for the use of dental records and wrist bone X-rays. But liberal advocacy groups have attacked these tests as inhumane. One such group is the Northwest Immigrants Rights Project, which came to Malvo's aid when he was in INS custody. So what Malkin wants to know is, how did INS verify Malvo's age "before sending him on his merry way."
Yup, Deacon, he's dead. Bin Laden's been laiden six feet under (apologies, for the third time, to Mark Steyn). After the election is over, we'll go back to a more eclectic style of commentary. For the moment, before we return to the various hot Senate races, I want to note this contretemps. England's Culture Minister has denounced this year's Turner Prize entrants as "conceptual bullshit." This drew predictable howls from the artiste community. Unfortunately, along the way toward a balanced article, the London Times is required to describe the "art works" in question. Which resolves the debate in favor of the Culture Minister.
James Robbins, a National Review contributor on security issues, finds evidence that al Qaeda is in disarray. For example, some al Qaeda money is missing, apparently looted by middlemen no longer committed to the struggle. And al Qaeda no longer appears to be speaking with one voice. According to Robbins, its messages are uncoordinated and sometimes contradictory, varying in tone and style. Robbins suspects that bin Laden is dead and that a power struggle is underway for leadership of al Qaeda.
The invaluable Real Clear Politics brings together the latest poll data. President Bush's numbers are holding remarkably steady in the mid-60's, notwithstanding Dick Morris' moment of hysteria a few days ago. Bush is doing the right thing by touring the country, helping his party to hold the House and, we hope, take back the Senate from its unelected, illegitimate obstructionists. The generic Congressional preference poll is dead even, a good sign for Republican candidates.
More on the Wellstone death rally: The Star Tribune's top state political reporter is Dane Smith. I called him to ask about the Capitol Hill Blue story that we post below and offered to e-mail it to him. After cross-examining me regarding my identity and my employer, he asked me to summarize the story. He interrrupted me to say that he knew the story was false. I asked how. He said because he knows the local DFL officials, because they had told him so, and because he knows they could not orchestrate an event like that. And to think some people consider the Star Tribune's political coverage biased...
Matt Drudge has obtained the text of Walter Mondale's first radio ad, which is just now hitting the airwaves. Mondale has lost no time in going negative; the ad attacks Norm Coleman for promoting free trade. The strange thing about this is that Mondale has spent most of the last eighteen years as a lawyer in private firms, specializing in international law. At Dorsey & Whitney, a Minneapolis law firm, his practice consisted largely of trying to facilitate international business transactions on behalf of American corporations. It is simply weird for him to morph suddenly into a protectionist. Nor does it seem like a particularly smart strategy. Talking about foreign steel competition may help shore up Mondale's base on the heavily-Democratic Iron Range, but Coleman wasn't going to get a lot of votes there anyway. On the other hand, the Americans most committed to free trade are farmers, who sell their grain everywhere--and need to, since they produce far more than Americans can consume. The biggest unknown in this race has always been how well Coleman will do in Minnesota's rural areas; there are lots of Republican-leaning voters there, but they haven't all jumped to support Coleman because of his urban background and image. Mondale's attacking free trade may help to cement Coleman's support among farmers and other residents of rural areas.
Speaking of George McGovern, my cousin from New York wonders whether, with Tim Johnson apparently trailing in South Dakota, the Democrats will substitute McGovern as their Senate candidate.
More on the Wellstone death rally: Now the lying about it, exposed courtesy of Capitol Hill Blue's "Democratic operatives planned, engineered Wellstone political rally." They even planned Jeff Blodgett's "apology."
More on the Wellstone death rally: Trunk and Rocket Man have already made the most salient points about the disgusting memorial rally for Senator Wellstone. As an aside, I would add that the event may have been, in part, a release of pent up frustration among middle-aged Democrats who yearn to be back in 1972 nominating George McGovern. To Democrats like Clinton, Gore, and Harkin, Wellstone must have seemed like the one true-believer who never "sold out" his McGovernite ideals, not even when locked in his tight race with Norm Coleman. In paying tribute to Wellstone, these faux "New Democrats" apparently couldn't resist returning to their McGovernite roots and putting on a display that, like the 1972 Democratic convention, alienated mainstream voters. I'm not denying that the primary force at work was sheer opportunism. But it's possible that the subconscious desire to roll back the years to a time when left-wing Democrats could be unabashed left-wing Democrats helps explain the lapse of judgment that led to Tuesday's shocking display.

UPDATE: Deacon, you are right on the button. Life has been pretty depressing for leftists for quite a while-- Reagan, the Berlin Wall, the fall of Communism, prosperity in the West, and so on--but there was something about Wellstone that took aging leftists everywhere back to their roots. For one brief moment (not so brief, of course, for those of us who sat through the whole three-hour marathon), the leftists could pretend that they were back in Selma, Alabama or congregating on the Mall to oppose the VietNam war. They have been yearning for this for a long time.
Trunk's comments on Alan Page cause me to think about the current campaign by "civil rights" lawyers, including Johnnie Cochran, to coerce the NFL into hiring more African-American head coaches. The NFL is negotiating with Cochran and his colleagues over this. Cochran's group is pushing a plan whereby teams that hire African-Americans will be awarded extra draft picks. The Washington Post reports that Players Association president Gene Upshaw, an African American and NFL contemporary of Alan Page, is "vehemently opposed" to this plan. Good for him. The plan amounts to bribing teams to hire African Americans. By the same token, it punishes teams that hire white coaches they honestly consider the best available candidate. In addition, it would probably create bidding wars for highly qualified Africian American candidates, thus artificially inflating their salaries. In other words, if the plan works as intended, it will create racial discrimination with respect to both hiring and compensation. This is what passes for "civil rights" these days.
The Economist is no friend of Israel, in my estimation. However, its take on the Labor Party's departure from the national unity government is quite similar to those of the Jerusalem Post and DebkaFile that appear below. The Economist notes that Labor Party leader Ben-Eliezer had been looking for a pretext to leave the govenment for some time, in order to bolster his sagging popularity within his party. It reports that Sharon has said he may replace Ben-Eliezer as Defense Minister with retired General Shaull Mofaz, who has advocated deporting Arafat (I'm not holding my breath on that one). The Economist predicts that the next election will produce a new coalition government.
Don Lambro of the Washington TImes reports that the big-three Democratic strategists -- Carville, Shrum, and pollster Stanley Grennberg -- are advising Democratic candidates not to play up the economy as an election issue in the final days of the campaign. Why? Because Greenberg's polls show that the Republicans have a one-point lead on who can best handle the economy. Lambro cites the Georgia Senate race as exhibit A. Democratic incumbent Max Cleland has apparently lost all of what was once a large lead over Republican Saxby Chambliss, who is campaigning on abolishing the capital gains and death taxes. The larger point, as Lambro notes, is that the swing voters most likely to base their decisions on economic issues are members of the new investor class. These folks tend to understand economic issues and, for the most part, cannot be "spooked by class warfare."
Hugh Hewitt on the death rally: As part of our continuing effort to dwell on the significance of the Wellstone death rally of Tuesday evening, we respectfully direct your attention to Hugh Hewitt's outstanding World Net Daily column, "Using tragedy for political gain."
Mike Erlandson, Chairman of the Minnesota Democratic Party, was on the radio this morning talking about the backlash against the Wellstone pep rally. His repeated mea culpas failed to mollify the callers, all of whom were hostile. The most significant point, however, was that Erlandson was twice asked how, according to current Democratic polling, the backlash was affecting the Coleman/Mondale race. Erlandson acknowledged that there had been "damage," but refused to answer the question. Presumably if the Democrats' polling showed Mondale ahead, he would have said so.
Robert Novak has a column this morning in which he reports that Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page was interested in replacing Senator Wellstone as the Democratic candidate. Based on anonymous Democratic sources, Novak reports that "the DFL apparently did not want to risk running the African-American Page in an overwhelmingly Caucasian state, and Page was swiftly discouraged." The column is "Mondale gambit shows Dems' audacity." Novak's strength as a columnist is his shoe leather reporting, and he may well be right. But I wonder if this story has any basis in fact.

Alan Page is the most popular Democrat in Minnesota. Unlike every other Minnesota Supreme Court justice, he was originally elected--not appointed--to his position on the court. Did he really want to resign from his position on the court to undertake the race against Coleman? Novak fails to report that Justice Page declined to resign and enter the race to be the Democratic candidate against a weak Rod Grams in 2000. Justice Page has never run for political office, and a short campaign as the party's endorsed nominee would help cover his weaknesses as a novice candidate, but I doubt (based on no information) that he would have been willing to leave the court to take a flier.

Novak refers to Justice Page as a "law-and-order" liberal. Novak provides no evidence for this characterization of Justice Page, and I am aware of none. The "law-and-order" part is pure hokum. Only the description of him as "liberal" is correct. Novak sounds to me like he's making this stuff up as he goes along.

The imputation of racism to Minnesotans as the Democrats' reason for not selecting Page also rings false to me. When he most recently stood for reelection, Justice Page was the leading vote-getter in the state. He is personally popular; as a Minnesota Viking, he was the NFL's first defensive Most Valuable Player--around the time Fritz Mondale last ran a statewide campaign. The imputation of racism to Minnesotans as a reason for rejecting Justice Page as a candidate sounds like something Democratic bigwigs would say in this context to justify dissing Justice Page, so Novak's story is plausible in that sense. But without some evidence to support the story, I don't believe it.
Recap on the Star Tribune Minnesota Poll: Tuesday's "memorial rally" for Senator Wellstone was the buzz yesterday, and the aftershocks are reflected in the Star Tribune today. The coverage is so lame, however, that it is barely worth a look. The news recap lets the senator's campaign manager "take responsibility" for what transpired, without exactly exploring what that might mean. The story is "GOP demands equal time; Wellstone aide apologizes; Ventura upset" In its editorial this morning, "The Speech/Straying from memorial to rally," the Star Tribune instructs those of us who were revolted by the offenses against taste, decorum, and courtesy that the Democrats put on national display Tuesday night in Minneapolis to "try to put it aside." The editorial's focus on the egregious Rick Kahn conveniently ignores the other stemwinders from the senator's son and from Tom Harkin as well as the booing of Republican dignitaries. Rather than to try to "put it aside," we intend to dwell on it.

Which brings us to yesterday's Star Tribune Minnesota Poll on what is now the official Mondale/Coleman race. The poll showed Mondale up 47-39, with an 8-point lead. We wrote yesterday at great length about both the patent and latent defects of the poll. For the details see our posts under yesterday's date. There are two problems with yesterday's poll. Here is a summary of our take on it.

First, unlike most good political polls of which we know, the Minnesota Poll does not attempt to locate a representative sample, assess the "likely voters" among the sample, and break down the preferences of the likely voters. Rather, the Minnesota poll applies formulas to adjust the raw data it obtains from its survey. We think that as a result of these adjustments the reported result of the poll understates Republican strength generally and Coleman's strength specifically. The leading example of this phenomenon is the Minnesota Poll's final (November 5, 2000) pre-election Gore/Bush poll showing Gore with a 10-point lead in Minnesota; in the actual Minnesota popular vote, Gore edged Bush by 2.5 percent. We think much if not all of that margin was produced by the Star Tribune's own erroneous poll.

Second, the Mondale/Coleman Minnesota Poll reported yesterday had an exaggerated sample of Democratic respondents. The Minnesota Poll's last Wellstone/Coleman poll had a sample that was 40 percent Democratic; yesterday's Minnesota Poll had a sample that was 51 percent Democratic. Below we reproduce verbatim the "explanation" provided by the director of the Minnesota Poll, Rob Daves. We also provide the response of Coleman campaign manager Ben Whitney to Daves' "explanation." We think Ben has the better of the exchange, but you can judge for yourself.

Daves' "explanation" reminds me of the late comedian, Professor Irwin Corey. Corey's specialty was speaking in the peculiar gibberish of professorial expertise. However, Professor Corey was intentionally hilarious; Daves is funny only accidentally.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

I spent a good part of the evening watching national news programs that talked about the Minnesota Senate race. I noticed that all of the Democrats who were interviewed had been given the same talking points. They all said that 1) prior to Wellstone's death, Norm Coleman had engaged in a vicious, negative campaign against Wellstone; and 2) Coleman did not observe a truce following Wellstone's death, as the Democrats did. Both of these claims are flat-out lies, as any Minnesotan could tell you. The Coleman/Wellstone race was vigorous and hard-fought, and appropriately so. But the most "negative" campaigning in that race was by Wellstone, who ran a series of ads that attacked Coleman personally, based on the fact that Coleman changed parties years ago. Even more absurd is the claim that Coleman failed to observe the campaign embargo. On the contrary, Coleman suspended all campaigning from the moment of Wellstone's plane crash until today. Not only did he not campaign, he was as gracious as could possibly be expected and repeatedly paid tribute to Wellstone as a gallant foe. Last night, while the Democrats engaged in their partisan orgy, Coleman remained silent. Only today has he resumed his campaign. There were, in fact, several Minnesota campaigns that failed to observe the cease-fire agreed to informally by the parties. All of these campaigns, without exception, were by Democrats, as even the partisan Minneapolis Star Tribune was forced to acknowledge. All Republicans scrupulously observed the cease-fire. These are not opinions, these are facts which any Minnesotan can verify. Nevertheless, the national Democratic party has sent its representatives out to be interviewed, armed with talking points that are, quite simply, false. What does one make of a party that cannot tell the truth--not about events of the dim historical past, but about events that occurred during the last few weeks and days?
We've posted a lot on the Minnesota Senate race over the last two days, and I thought it might be helpful to try to synthesize where we think things currently stand. The most fundamental point is this: The Democrats had hoped that there would be no campaign following Wellstone's death; that six quiet days would pass by without controversy, and that Walter Mondale would then be crowned Senator. This morning's Minneapolis Star Tribune warned the Republicans strongly against campaigning against Mondale. The same paper helpfully offered up a poll intended to show that Mondale has the race in the bag, so there is no need for a campaign. Now, this plan may never have worked in any event, but it was blown sky-high by last night's fiasco. A huge backlash against the Wellstone rally is in progress. Governor Ventura has blasted the Democrats harshly, as have various media figures in the Twin Cities. A local TV station has planned a debate for Friday night, and has announced that either Mondale will appear, or he will be represented by an empty chair and Coleman will have the time to himself. Meanwhile, Tim Russert has offered to come to Minneapolis on Saturday to moderate a debate. It should now be impossible for the Democrats to avoid one or more debates. The legitimate polls show the race to be a virtual dead heat, prior to last night's disaster. The Democrats have stumbled badly and are now engaged in damage control, trying to apologize for the rally. But the significant fact is that if they ever could have finessed the election and slipped it past the voters without a real campaign, that is impossible now. The Democrats are beginning with an even start, and are in for a tough six days.
Two polls sponsored by the Baltimore Sun and the Bethesda Gazette contain good news for Republicans here in Maryland. First, Bob Ehrlich leads Kathleen Kennedy Townsend by 46% to 42%. This spread slightly exceeds the margin of error. Second, Republican incumbent Connie Morella leads Chris Van Hollen 44% to 42% in the 8th Congressional District. Morella's support among African-Americans, an important constituency in her newly configured district, has risen from 17% to 32%, if the poll is to be believed. And her support among moderates has risen from 37% to 57%. In the end, however, voter turnout is the key to both of these races.
The Wellstone rally showed bad taste and bad judgment, but this is simply insane: Andrew Sullivan looks at the "Wellstone was murdered" theorists.
The Denver Post reports on the latest Zogby poll in the Colorado Senate race. The poll has Republican incumbent Wayne Allard leading Democrat Tom Strickland by 41 percent to 39 percent. Zogby views this as "terrible news" for Allard because "the undecided normally break against the incumbent." Zogby is also predicting a Mondale victory. However, he sees the Republicans retaining control of the House.
Usually we rely on Rocket Man to bring us the latest from DebkaFile, an Israel-based internet publication devoted to reporting and analysis of intelligence, security, and terrorism issues. However, with Rocket Man working diligently to get to the bottom of the Star Tribune's treatment of "leaners," it is left to me to present DebkaFile's analysis of the Labor Party's walkout from the Israeli government. Its basic take is similar to the Jerusalem Post's discussed below -- key Labor Party minister Ben Eliezer walked out to salvage his faltering position within the Party. However, in typical fashion, DebkaFile adds twist upon twist to the analysis. First, it reports that Ben Eliezer's ploy isn't working; he is actually losing ground within his party. Second, DebkaFile sees the influence of the European Union and the State Department behind the walkout as part of plan to replace Sharon with a left of center government that can work with Arafat. But third, DebkaFile argues that Arafat would actually rather see Sharon in power, inasmuch as Sharon has decided not to harm Arafat, so he can go on playing the victim of a "repressive" govenment. Nonetheless, Arafat is happy to see the breakup of the coalition government because it makes it more likely that Sharon will be further ostracized by the international community.

My view is that there's a war coming in the region that will shake things up in ways that will render irrelevant the games being played in connection with the walkout.
Hugh Hewitt relates the Wellstone memorial fiasco to the general deterioration of the Democrats under the leadership of Bill Clinton, Tom Daschle et al. Hugh's article is called "Using Tragedy for Political Gain."
Rocket Man, we report, you decide. The Coleman campaign shares your skepticism. Here follows the Coleman campaign's response to Daves, received a moment ago:

"You admit that there was a 100% increase in the partisanship measure (to 10%) from your last poll and from what is historically valid per exit polls (which is 5%). This ignores that you generated another 5% of imbalance by not considering leaners a part of their party - which I find inexplicable and inconsistent with what many other pollsters do. In your news article you refer to them as Democrats/Republicans so why are the leaners not worthy of consideration as members of their party with respect to your polling? If you include them you created a 15% over sample of Democrats. The fact that you had the same number of hard D's from your last poll is really irrelevant. It is the relative partisanship that matters - so you did oversample Democrats compared to Republicans. If the goal was to accurately inform readers, then you failed. Finally, you did not explain why this absolutely critical issue of your sampling is never explained to readers. You manage to reveal in the news articles how many phone lines are in each household you sampled, but neglect to discuss what is the easiest way to generate a distorted result for the poll. I do not get it..."
Trunk, if you can make head or tail of Daves's explanation, you're a better man than I am. He goes on and on about how they allocate "leaners," but presumably they allocated leaners in their prior poll as well, so that can't explain why the percentage of Democrats in the sample went from 40% to 51%. And he keeps saying that the percentage of "strong Democrats" in their most recent poll is EXACTLY the same as the Voter News Service percentage in 2000. That, of course, proves nothing unless we know how the remaining voters (a large majority of the sample) were allocated. In short, Daves gives no coherent explanation of why the Democratic proportion of the sample went from 40% to 51% in twelve days.
Even more on today's Star Tribune Minnesota Poll: The Star Tribune's Mondale/Coleman poll is obviously the story of the day and bears further examination. One of the mysteries of the the Star Tribune's Minnesota Poll is the various formulas it employs to adjust raw survey results. I believe they are proprietary, like the formula for Coca-Cola. The formulas are in any event applied invisibly to the raw data to obtain the published poll results. But on occasion the published results themselves have visible problems, and today's results provide a good example.

Today's survey results are based on a survey sample that was 51 percent Democratic (16 points over the Republican share), as opposed to a survey sample that was 40 percent Democratic in the last published Wellstone/Coleman Minnesota poll.

Rob Daves is the director of the Minnesota Poll for the Star Tribune. Daves has received an irate e-mail message from the Coleman campaign noting that the Minnesota Poll survey sample for the poll reported in today's Strib was 51 percent Democratic, versus 40 percent Democratic in the Strib's last reported Wellstone/Coleman poll. The Coleman campaign has further noted that no Minnesota exit poll has shown Democrats to exceed Republicans by 16 points. We have contacted Daves regarding this issue and Daves responds as follows:

"The [Minnesota Poll survey] sample was 51 percent DFL and those who leaned to the DFL, 36 percent GOP and those who leaned to the GOP. Exit polls normally don't break out leaners separately from independents, as we do...

"If you treat the leaners in our poll as independents, the way the VNS exit poll does, then our sample was 36 percent DFL, 26 percent GOP, and 38 percent Republican[sic--this should read "Independents"]. But remember that exit polls have a pretty big margin of sampling error, usually bigger than our poll, so their numbers are not exactly a gold standard. [Daves referred to and attached a table we are omitting.]

"As you'll notice, the percentage of strong partisans is remarkably stable between the two polls, one done over a 5-night period with call backs, refusal conversions and all of the standard techniques we use to get a good sample...The differences come in the fluidity of the leaners, who typically bounce in and out of weak partisanship anyway. And our percentage of strong DFLers in the Oct. 28 poll is EXACTLY what the VNS percentage was in 2000 -- hardly a Democratic bias.

"The 2000 VNS exit poll showed a 5-point advantage for DFLers over Republicans. Our Oct. 11-16 poll showed 5-point advantage for DFLers over Republicans, when comparable measures are used. Our Oct. 28 poll showed a 10-point advantage, but not because there were too many DFLers (that percentage was EXACTLY what the 2000 VNS percentage was).

"Moreover, a look at our unweighted demographics for the two polls shows a remarkable similarity in the proportions for education, ideology (liberal/moderate/conservative), and geography. The overnight sample slightly undersampled men and 35-44 year olds, compared with the Oct. 11-16 sample, but we weight on those variables to bring them into Census proportions anyway, just as I'm sure Glen does. If you just look at unweighted ideology, the proportions are virtually identical in the two polls.

"Sorry, but I don't buy [the Coleman campaign's] criticism of the poll's sample."
The backlash against the Democrats' political rally last night may not be limited to Minnesota. A reader from Atlanta writes, "I cannot express how shocked we were as we watched that campaign rally unfold on Fox News. I've voted both sides of the aisle all my adult life, but I was so appalled by the blatant attempt to capitalize on the death of a fine man and the others who died...that I might never vote for a Democrat again."
It appears that a significant backlash against the Democrats' over-the-top performance at the Wellstone "memorial" last night is developing. This morning Tom Barnard, the Twin Cities' dominant radio personality, said the phone lines were "burning up" with callers expressing outrage over the Williams Arena pep-fest. Call volume was so heavy that the show had to cancel a contest because the winner couldn't get through. Barnard said that he was born and raised a Democrat but is 100% Republican after the Democrats' sorry performance last night.
There is a lot of buzz this morning about the fact that television cameras showed Jesse Ventura and his wife, Terry, getting up and wallking out on the Democrats' pep-fest at Williams Arena last night. I heard Ventura being interviewed on the radio this morning. He said that he found the Democrats' misuse for partisan ends not only of Wellstone's death, but of the families of the other victims of the crash, to be deeply offensive. He said that his wife was so shocked and offended by the Democrats' conduct that she was brought to tears, prompting their walkout.
Republican former Congressman Vin Weber is our friend and a guy who has maintained frienships across party lines for many years. Yet Vin was not only sickened by the Democratic faux "memorial" rally yesterday, he expressed his disgust to a reporter. In the Star Tribune's "Memorial Service" supplement this morning, Vin is quoted prominently as follows: "What a complete, total, absolute sham. The DFL clearly intends to exploit Wellstone's memory totally, completely and shamelessly for political gain. To them, Wellstone's death, apparently, was just another campaign event." Didn't they forget to drop the balloons though? In any event, the story is "Republicans decry service as political."
Here's the Jerusalem Post's report on the departure of Israel's Labor Party from Ariel Sharon's government. All of the Labor ministers, including Defense Minister and party leader Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, have resigned, ostensibly over a dispute regarding budget allocations to Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, the article views the dispute as insubstantial. It suggests that Ben-Eliezer left the government in order to bolster his position in the upcoming Labor Party primaries. Polls show Ben-Eliezer trailing two more dovish challengers. Moreover, the article notes that Labor was always expected to bolt the coalition eventually in order to position itself as a "moderate" alternative to Sharon. Labor's departure will not topple Sharon's government, but will force Sharon either to rely on "small far-right parties" or call for early elections. Right now, elections are scheduled for November 2003.
The Washington Post on how Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is keeping Bob Ehrlich on the defensive in their toss-up race for Maryland governor by proposing yet new restrictions on the sale of guns. Even the Post voices skepticism about efficacy Townsend's various proposals on the subject.
The Washington Times on why Muhammad and Malvo should be prosecuted "anywhere but Maryland." It comes down to the death penalty. As I noted last week, it is basically a dead-letter in Maryland. In fact, currently there is a moratorium on the death penalty here. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was a prime-mover for the moratorium, although she is now saying that the death penalty is a "no-brainer" in Muhammad's case. Moreover, moratorium or not, Maryland cannot execute Malvo because he is under 18. And, as the Times explains, it is far from clear that it can execute Muhammad because, believe it or not, his crimes may not be sufficiently "aggravated" to meet the limited conditions under which the death sentence can be imposed in ultra-liberal Maryland. "No-brainer," indeed.
Bill Whelan of the Hoover Institution reports on the Callifornia gubernatorial race. A federal judge has released letters from attorneys representing a convicted state coastal commissioner alleging that, a decade ago, he and Gray Davis schemed to obtain campaign donations from developers in exchange for political favors. However, Whelan questions whether these allegations, though shocking, will have shock value, since this is what voters have come to expect from Governor Davis. The most recent poll shows Davis leading Republican Bill Simon by ten percentage points, but stuck at only 41 percent. Perhaps the most significant point in Whelan's piece relates to voter turnout. According to Whelan, next Tuesday's vote will challenge the midterm electin of 1942, when only 35.7 percent of voters participated, as the lowest attended election in American history. This could give the Republicans an advantage in California and elsewhere.
The Washington Post reports on the tight congressional race in Baltimore County between Republican Helen Bentley and Democrat Dutch Ruppersberger. The Republicans may need to win at least one of the two hot Maryland races, the other one being the race in ultra-liberal Montgomery County between Republican incumbent Connie Morella and challenger Chris Van Hollen. I have always thought that Republican chances are better in the Baltimore Country race. But the Post calls that one a toss-up and says that Ruppersberger is slightly ahead in the most recent poll. The bad news is that Democrats have a heavy advantage in registered voters. The good news is that Republican Bob Ehrlich, who has represented the district for the past eight years, is leading Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in the district by 20 points. This should help Bentley, who represented the district prior to Ehrlich.
Apparently I wasn't the only one who was appalled by the Wellstone "memorial service." The Associated Press reports that "Wellstone Memorial Turns Into Rally". Note that the AP repeats the results of the Star Tribune's Minnesota Poll and declares Mondale to be "comfortably ahead." The Democrats will do everything possible to create an air of inevitability around Mondale and prevent a real campaign from breaking out over the next six days.
More on the Star Tribune Minnesota poll: The news of the day is the Mondale/Coleman race and the Star Tribune's poll showing Mondale with an eight-point lead. There are a couple of funny things about the Star Tribune's coverage here. What strikes me first is that, according to the poll results, Mondale has simply succeeded to Wellstone's support, whatever it was. The story posted by Rocket Man below that reports the Star Tribune's Minnesota poll results lacks a description of the poll's methodology that accompanies such stories and that we have previously posted verbatim.

The methodology employed by the Minnesota poll has at least a couple of peculiarities. First, it asks a series of questions to determine the likelihood that a particular respondent will vote and then, based on the respondent's answers to these questions, it "weights" his answers "to model a probable electorate." The Star Tribune does not say today what its turnout projection is; when it said so last, its poll results were based on a projected turnout of 55 percent. Lower turnout would favor the Republicans; higher turnout would favor the Democrats. According to the Star Tribune, the adjustment or weighting of responses is "based on formulas verified in past elections."

Second, the poll further adjusts the survey results based on the particular poll respondents' household size, number of phone lines, and "variations because of sampling in gender, age, education, and geography." As I have said before, there is obviously much room for error and and for mischief here. Because today's reported Minnesota poll results suggest that as of Monday evening (when the poll was taken) Mondale has simply succeeded to Wellstone's support as previously measured by the Star Tribune, I think our previous discussion of the Minnesota poll bears repetition here. For the benefit of readers who are looking for help in interpreting today's reported Minnesota poll results, the following paragraphs below reiterate my discussion of the Minnesota poll from last week.

The Star Tribune Minnesota poll has a long and inglorious history in Minnesota. Most famously, in 1978 the Minneapolis Tribune (as it then was) called all three major state races wrong by a wide margin on the basis of its Minnesota poll. According to the Tribune on the Sunday before the election, the Democrats were about to sweep the gubernatorial and two Senate races. Instead, 1978 was the year of the "Minnesota massacre." The Democrats were routed; Republican Al Quie was elected governor, and Republicans Dave Durenberger and Rudy Boschwitz were elected Minnesota's senators. Following the election, as I recall, the Tribune apologized to its readers, accounted for the errors it had made, and vowed to put its house in order. Rob Daves was hired to run the poll in 1987, when the Star Tribune states the poll "returned to the newsroom," and the poll has employed a computer-assisted telephone interviewing method to conduct the poll since 1990.

I complained a couple weeks ago about the persistent Republican undersampling in the Star Tribune Minnesota poll. Such undersampling is generally difficult to prove, because election day results that differ from final pre-election poll results can simply be explained away as reflecting post-poll shifts in voter sentiment. I have previously observed that the Star Tribune's final year 2000 pre-election presidential poll results were strikingly discrepant with the actual election results in a way that was inconsistent with every national poll. I would now like to review the details.

The Strib's final pre-election poll results were published on Sunday, November 5. 2000, two days before the election. The story reporting the poll results ran on page one as "Gore takes 10-point lead in state." The story dramatically reported that in a race that had been neck and neck, Gore had opened a 10-point lead over Bush, 47 percent to 37 percent; the poll had been taken from October 31 to November 3. The story reported that the race was "still-volatile" and quoted University of Minnesota political science professor Steve Smith as saying, "Gore's in the driver's seat in Minnesota. It appears a number of Minnesotans came back to Gore--where a lot of people expected them to be all along." On election day, however, the race was in fact neck and neck; Gore edged Bush in Minnesota by only 60,000 votes out of 2,450,000 votes cast, 47.9 percent to 45.5 percent.

I don't think the Star Tribune Minnesota poll can have been accurate, and the effect of the poll on Republican voters must have been demoralizing. The remarkable fact about the 2000 presidential election is that Bush's pre-election lead, measured in every national poll, evaporated in the days before the election. In their post-election recap "Gore's Closing Surge" in the Weekly Standard (November 27, 2000), Jeffrey Bell and Frank Cannon wrote, "Natonal pollsters are nearly unanimous in believing that a George W. Bush lead of perhaps 5 percentage points at the end of October turned into the dead heat in the popular vote that was cast on November 7." The article reviewed final shifts in voter sentiment in detail, showing that Gore's closing surge varied in size around the country; his gains were widespread but not uniform.

I thought at the time, and still do, that the Star Tribune's final pre-election poll was wrong and probably affected the election result in Minnesota. I called Rob Daves to say as much and to complain about it. I also summarized the Bell and Cannon article that belied the Strib poll results. With no evidence other than his own poll, Daves stated that Minnesota was an exception to the national trend; in Minnesota, Bush had a closing surge.

If I were Rob Daves, I would have been mightily embarrassed by the discrepancy between the final pre-election Minnesota poll results and the election results. When I called Daves, however, he unapologetically defended the accuracy of the poll results, though without the citation of any relevant evidence. I was appalled by his sheer lack of professional introspection in the face of substantial evidence that contradicted his assertions. He was also utterly unconcerned about the impact of his poll on voters even if it was inaccurate.

If I were the owner of the Star Tribune, I would be seriously concerned about the quality of my product. If the Strib's poll product were edible instead of legible, it would long ago have been recalled as dangerous to human health, or it would have killed off its customers. We can only hope that someday the Star Tribune cares as much about the quality of its news product as McDonald's does about the quality of its hamburgers.

The problem persists to this day. When I called Daves a couple weeks ago to reiterate the point I made to him two years ago, he again cited the literature supporting the poll's methodology. As stated above, the poll's methodology employs a weighting of responses for the likelihood that a particular respondent will vote and an adjustment of results for the estimated percentage of eligible voters who are likely to vote. I don't think the Star Tribune has publicly disclosed the bases for whatever weighting and adjustment it applies to its poll results. Daves has declined my bet for dinner at a restaurant of his choosing that Coleman would do five points better than the Strib's final pre-election poll.

In his conversations with me Daves has generally referred to the accepted social science research that supports the Minnesota poll methodology. Even if the poll's theoretical underpinnings are sound, however, the evidence of actual election results strongly suggests that the poll errs in practice, consistently, in favor of the Democrats by about five to seven points.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has released its latest Minnesota Poll; the headline trumpets the claim that "Support Shifts to Mondale," while the body of the story says that "Dramatic political developments since Wellstone's death Friday have had little effect on voters' leanings in the U.S. Senate race." I guess the Strib's headline writers just can't restrain themselves. The poll says that Mondale leads Coleman by 47% to 39%. The Trunk dissected the Minnesota Poll's methodology in a series of posts a few days ago; the bottom line is that the Strib's poll appears designed to overstate Democrats' support by about five per cent. Taking that bias into account, the results of this poll are essentially the same as the two polls taken by Republican pollsters over the last 48 hours. The race, in other words, is at present a dead heat, as it was before Wellstone's demise. The Strib's poll also confirms the finding of the Republicans' polls that the Wellstone situation is not benefiting other Democratic candidates, specifically Roger Moe, who is trailing Tim Pawlenty in the race for Governor. The Strib's results confirm that Tim Penny has fallen out of contention, and their poll's four point lead for Pawlenty probably translates into a seven to nine point lead in reality.
Update: The word on the street is that Walter Mondale has cashed in approximately $6 million in stock options on shares of United Health Group, the HMO on whose board of directors he has served for several years. This is potentially explosive because Mondale's wealth has come not as the result of many years of hard work, but rather by selling his name and attending a few board meetings. In short, this appears to be exactly the kind of sweetheart deal that is fairly characterized as "crony capitalism." This has the potential to be the issue that blows Mondale's candidacy sky-high. We will be on top of the issue as the facts develop.
Somewhat surprisingly, Minnesota's Democrats are running scared. The lawsuit filed earlier today, which I posted on below, requests that absentee ballots cast for Paul Wellstone be construed as votes for Walter Mondale. The Democrats' position is too ridiculous to require refutation. How a voter could be "deemed" to have voted for a candidate who was not even in the race at the time the voter filled out the ballot is incomprehensible. At the same time, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a semi-official voice of the DFL party, says that "all Minnesotans" are "lucky to have [Mondale]" as a candidate and warns the Republicans against attacking Mondale in the few remaining days of the campaign. Apparently the Democrats are afraid that after eighteen years of retirement from public life, Mondale will be unable to meet the rigors of even a six-day campaign. It will be interesting to see how the Star Tribune responds when Mondale declines Coleman's challenge to debate the issues of the day.
The Democrats' "memorial service" for Paul Wellstone is in progress now, being televised on every Twin Cities station. I watched only the first few minutes; it was a pep rally, not a memorial service. It is at Williams Arena, home of the Minnesota Gophers basketball team, and as it began, a parade of celebrities entered the arena to wild applause and raucous pop music. Bill and Hillary are there, Ted Kennedy, most Democratic Senators and some Republicans. One person who isn't there is Dick Cheney, who was disinvited by the Wellstone family on a flimsy pretext. I turned it off, so I don't know whether it later resembled a memorial service more than a rock concert. Whether any votes will be swayed by this extravaganza remains to be seen. The tastelessness and open partisanship of the part I saw will certainly turn off some voters.
Here comes more voter fraud, this time in Michigan.
The Democrats commenced a lawsuit in the Minnesota Supreme Court this morning, seeking to overturn the bipartisan plan for handling absentee ballots that was agreed upon by Democratic Attorney General Mike Hatch and Republican Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer. As discussed below, there are relatively few votes at issue here; it is fair to infer that, notwithstanding their professed confidence, the Democrats are expecting a very tight Senate race.
The non-Israeli Jews and Jewish refugees of the Arab Middle East are not exactly a popular or well-known victim group, though not because they have not been horrifically persecuted in their countries of origin. By contrast, anyone who has ever visited Israel must be struck by the manner in which Arab Israelis participate in the civic and commercial life of the country. The contrast with their Jewish counterparts in Arab countries tells you almost everything you need to know to understand the source of the Middle East's intractability. For the telling story of one refugee, check out "Libyan Jewish refugee shares story." The story ran in the Yale Daily News with a fine companion column by a Yale freshman, "Locating intolerance in the Arab world."
Speculation is rife that Walter Mondale's eighteen years in private life may have made him vulnerable as a political candidate, and that the Democrats may have acted hastily in selecting Mondale before thinking through what skeletons may be in his closet. Mondale has been on the board of directors of an HMO for some years, and it is being reported that over the last several years, he has sold several million dollars worth of stock. This is still rumor at this stage, and it is not clear how stock sales by Mondale and other insiders may correlate to losses suffered by outside investors. But it is obvious to all who know Mondale that, for better or worse, he is no Paul Wellstone. One can only speculate how Wellstone's partisans will react when they learn about Mondale's business dealings over the past two decades.
The first two rounds of polling subsequent to Paul Wellstone's fatal accident have been completed. As reported in the Washington Times this morning, and as posted below, the Republican Senatorial Committee's poll, conducted Sunday night, showed Walter Mondale with a 45%-43% lead over Norm Coleman. The Minnesota Republican Party did its own polling Sunday and Monday nights, using a different pollster, which showed the race to be a dead heat. Speculation is that the "Princess Diana effect" has peaked and is now ebbing. The party's polls also indicate that the outpouring of sympathy for the Wellstone family has had no impact at all on the other Minnesota races. Gubernatorial candidate Tim Pawlenty and House candidates Mark Kennedy and John Kline continue to lead their races.
Here is an important piece by Hugo Gordon of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Gordon explains the anti-democratic machinations of the European Union. In this instance, Ireland is re-voting on whether to agree to the Treaty of Nice, which involves a massive transfer of power from the people of Europe to the unelected authority in Brussels. The Irish rejected this once, but under the Euro rules, only a "yes" vote is permanent. When the "plebs" vote no, they are considered to have "got the answer wrong" and "are asked the question again after a period of re-education." Gordon says that the United States should care about this because it is part of a larger campaign to "demolish the concept of national sovereignty" against which the U.S. is the ultimate target.

Could it be any clearer that France and Germany, the two driving forces behind this campaign, are no longer our strong allies? Few tears need be shed over this realization. Why were they our allies in the first place? Not, I would argue, because of shared values and democratic traditions. When the alliances were formed, we shared few values or traditions with Germany (to say the least) and France had little history of stable democratic rule. It seems to me that we became allies of these two nations primarily because they were the key states to be allied with in our struggle with the Soviet Union. Today, though, our struggle is with a different force, and France and Germany are by no means the most important allies to have in that struggle. Israel, Russia, Turkey, and Pakistan and/or India are far more relevant. Much of Europe may become what India was during the Cold War -- a large and sanctimonious irrelevancy.
John O'Sullivan notes that "If we had to rely on the U.S. government and major news media for enlightenment, we would be utterly mystified as to why John Muhammad and John Malvo allegedly went on a killing spree. They are pretty sure that it has nothing to do with Islam or illegal immigration. Aside from that they are baffled." O'Sullivan points out that there never was any evidence to support the "angry white male" profile, and that three columnists--Michelle Malkin, Andrew Sullivan and Mark Steyn--provided more reliable information and sounder analysis than the entire mainstream media. Why? Because "they were not wearing ideological blinders when they looked at [the] facts." O'Sullivan concludes that Sullivan, Steyn and Malkin demonstrate that "reporting is too important to be left to the reporters," a sentiment that will meet with no objection in the blogosphere.
Dick Morris notes that President Bush's approval rating has dropped significantly. He attributes this partly to the fact that Bush is using presidential capital in hotly disputed congressional races (as he should be doing). The other main cause, as the charming Mr. Morris expressed it on national television last night, is that Bush is perceived as "a pussy" on Iraq because he's "dancing" with France and Russia after convincing the country that we need to invade.

During his television appearance, Morris predicted that a Mondale-Wellstone race would be very close. Morris claimed that he didn't know of any poll results. He said he based his prediction on the fact that Mondale "was never that popular in Minnesota" and is an ancient laborite hack, rather than a populist like Wellstone.
Our friends at Real Clear Politics have pulled together the latest generic Congressional preference polls and find that, on the average, the Democrats lead by two points, 44% to 42%. This difference is insignificant, except that it fails to show any late surge in the direction of either party. The significant issue, as always, will be voter sentiment in the relatively few competitive districts. Meanwhile, the right direction/wrong direction polls are showing a trend in favor of "right direction." I generally find this poll question to be unhelpful; however, a number of pundits have purported to find signs of an anti-incumbent wave, which these numbers do not support.
According to the poll reported in the Washington Times this morning in the story Rocket Man links to below, the Mondale/Coleman race is a statistical dead heat. The story includes the following observation, consistent with Rocket Man's (and Hugh Hewitt's) take on the race: "'What's been lost in the coverage of this tragedy is the strength of Coleman's candidacy,' said Dan Allen, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. 'Minnesota remains hugely competitive, no matter who the Democrats select later this week.'"
The Republicans conducted a telephone poll Sunday night, which showed Mondale with a narrow 45%-43% lead over Norm Coleman. The results were given to the Washington Times, presumably to deter a sense of inevitability--"coronation," as the Trunk put it--about Mondale's candidacy. This is anybody's race, I think.
The New York Times this morning has a piece on the impact of Senator Wellstone's death on the three-way gubernatorial election, "Senator's death reverberates in race for Minnesota governor."
Among the signs of the return to something close to politics as usual this morning is the return to politics as usual on the news pages of the Star Tribune. The Strib discounts Mondale's age as an impediment to his appeal to voters in "Mondale's age not seen as big issue." In the spirit of scholarship the story helpfully explains, "Historians note that the word Senate is derived from the Latin for 'council of elders.'"

Lovers of words such as the proprietors of the Power Line also note that the word Senate shares the same Latin root ("senex") as the English word "senile." My authoritative Cassell's New Latin Dictionary also includes the related Latin word "senium," noting in italics that it means "old age, especially the weakness of old age, decline, decay." See, children, Mr. Mondale is perfectly qualified to be our "senator," exactly as the Star Tribune "news" story suggests.

Senility is also the key to the Democrats' strategy in pulling out the incredibly foreshortened Mondale/Coleman race. Note the focus on getting "supplemental absentee ballots" to the nursing home set in "Hatch, Kiffmeyer resolve ballot issues."

The comedy continues in "A truce in politics? Not for long." One must read almost to the end of this carefully structured story to hear it alleged--gosh, I guess the three reporters who share the byline couldn't verify it themselves--"Apparently, the only candidate or party ads that have sneaked through the weekend and Monday were by DFLers, Republicans said." When it comes to politics, as opposed to policy involving that silly old Saddam Hussein, the Democrats deeply believe in the disarmament of their enemies.

President Bush, on the other hand, believes in putting up a fight. The Strib reports that "Bush reportedly to campaign in Minnesota on Sunday." I vaguely recall that President Bush the elder campaigned in Minnesota on the weekend before the gubernatorial election in the similarly foreshortened Perpich/Carlson race of 1990 that Arne Carlson narrowly pulled out. As we said earlier in this context: May it be a portent!

Monday, October 28, 2002

In Minnesota we are fortunate to get Hugh Hewitt's great drive-time radio show on 1280 AM The Patriot. The show is outstanding in many respects, all related to the respect with which Hugh treats his incredibly loyal audience. We are therefore especially proud that in order to keep his finger on the pulse of the fast-breaking political developments which we are in the middle of here, Hugh invited Rocket Man to join him on the show this evening, with more to come during his visit to Minnesota on Friday. Rocket Man batted 1.000 answering Hugh's questions. We want to tip our hats both to Hugh and to the Power Line proprietor who made us proud.
More attention is being focused on the absentee voter issue in the Minnesota Senate race. Apparently the Secretary of State's office is working on a system whereby absentee voters will be allowed to show up at the polls and cast a vote for Mondale if they had mailed in their ballots before Wellstone's accident. This is, of course, totally contrary to the usual procedure with absentee ballots, and the mechanics would seem to be problematic. We will post further when we have details on the Secretary of State's plan. Absentee ballots will probably be the main source of controversy if, as I expect, the election is very close.
More on the Moussaoui connection: On Saturday we noted the weird fact that the co-pilot on Senator Wellstone's plane (Michael Guess) had worked at the same Eagan, Minnesota flight school that Zacarias Moussaoui attended. Here is the Star Tribune story on the overlap between Moussaoui and the co-pilot, "Co-pilot played minor role in story of Moussaoui."
Now Jesse Ventura is saying that he expects litigation to arise out of the Minnesota Senate race. He objects specifically to the fact that under Minnesota law, as we discussed earlier, absentee ballots cast for Coleman will naturally be counted for Coleman, while absentee ballots cast for Wellstone will not count for Mondale. "That to me right there creates an unfair election," Ventura says. Ventura has usually sided with the Democrats throughout his four-year term, and could be a useful front man for the Democrats if they lose the election and decide to challenge the result in court.
Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review considers Mondale beatable. In fact, he predicts that after the first polls of the race are taken, the Republican party will increase, rather than decrease, its commitment to Minnesota.
Thanks for the response on Jews in Minnesota, Rocket Man. You make what I think is an essential point -- the absence, as of now, of meaningful bias against Jews in America's heartland. Of course many on the left don't see this as refuting the notion that America is a land of bigotry and prejudice because they see Jews as part of the "oppressor class." But what of the Jews themselves? It never ceases to amaze me when my fellow eastern urban Jews rail against the Christian Right and worry about anti-semitism in the nation's heartland. They lack any appreciation of the historically unprecedented manner in which Christians have embraced Jews in this country or of the fact that religious awakenings here generally do not produce a rise in anti-semitism as they do elsewhere. Perhaps most disturbingly, liberal Jews seem oblivious to the fact that the most virulent anti-semitism in this country is to be found among core Democratic constituencies. It is reasonable for Jews to avoid complacency even as to the attitudes of their friends. But surely we must also be able to figure out where future trouble is most likely to come from.
John Eastman of the Ashbrook Center makes a good point (scroll down) that we haven't seen anywhere else about the Minnesota Senate race. An unknown number of absentee ballots have already been cast; under Minnesota law, those cast for Coleman will count for him, while those cast for Wellstone will not count for Mondale. Eastman assumes a 2.3 million voter turnout, 30% absentee ballots (based on the nationwide Democratic efforts to get the absentee total that high), and assumes further that 70% of those absentee ballots have already been cast, or will be cast using the original absentee ballots. On those assumptions, Eastman calculates that "Mondale would have to win by more than 10 percentage points on election day in order to prevail." He hypothesizes that this may be why Mondale has not yet officially accepted the offer to run. Eastman's point is valid, but I am afraid his assumptions are too optimistic. Coleman will have a lead based on absentee ballots already cast, but it is unlikely to be that large. In the last election, only 6% of Minnesota's ballots were absentee. Even if one assumes that will double to 12%--a liberal assumption--that is only around 276,000 votes. Further, while there is no way to know how many of those ballots have already been returned, 70% seems very high to me. If you assume that 12% of the voters will vote by absentee ballot this year; that 50% of those ballots have been returned or will be returned using the original form; and Coleman gets 45% of those absentee ballots, he has a head start of 62,100 votes. To offset that lead, Mondale would have to win by 3 percentage points, so that 49% for Mondale, 46% for Coleman and 5% for third parties would allow Mondale to squeak by. So I think Eastman's numbers are too optimistic, but his basic point is valid. If I am right and the Coleman/Mondale race turns out to be closer than most people expect--not a "coronation," as the Trunk believes--absentee ballots could make the difference.
Here is an excellent piece by Times of London columnist TIm Hames. Hames argues that "the War on Terror is proceeding far better than it is fashionable to acknowledge" because leaders who might have been inclined to provide refuge and resources to terrorist bodies have been obliged to abandon such ambitions. The exception, says Hames, is Arafat who "has a series of connections with armed fanatics that are not dissimilar to those which existed between Mullah Omar and bin Laden." Hames also takes French President Chriac to task for his "grotesque grandstanding" on the U.N. resolution.

A large part of me hopes that France blocks the resolution. When we proceed anyway, the media and the Democrats will characaterize our action as "going it alone, without the support of the international community." But most people will realize that we are merely "going it without France." People will also understand that, under the liberal-internationalist regime, Congress can authorize military action even if both Senators from up to 24 states vote "no," yet the single vote of France or Russia or China can block action. This would be a salutary lesson.
In his terrific National Review Online Impromptus column this morning, Jay Nordlinger notes the Nazi-like anti-Semitism that permeates the mainstream of the Arab world: "I bring you good news from the Middle East! Egyptian television is airing a blockbuster series based on 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,' that 19th-century czarist forgery that has acted so widely — and so long — as a poison. And The Matzah of Zion, the blood-libel-perpetuating tract by the Syrian defense minister — Mustafa Tlass — continues to sell like hotcakes. It was the big hit at the recent Damascus book fair (helluva selection there, must have been).

"Ladies and gentlemen, the fact is unavoidable: The Arab region is psychotic. And ain’t nothing that no one can do about it. That one can see, anyway."
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Minnesota's Republican candidates will resume campaigning on Wednesday. The quotes from party chairman Ron Eibensteiner indicate that the Coleman campaign will emphasize Coleman's youth and vigor, and the fact that Mondale has been on the sidelines for nearly twenty years. Curiously, the Republicans also intend to point out that Mondale is not as liberal as Wellstone. Coleman's campaign manager is talking about pressing for a debate with Mondale, which presumably means the Coleman campaign shares the conventional view that Coleman will be the underdog against Mondale.
Real Clear Politics pointed us to this piece in the Miami Herald, which nicely makes the point that the anti-war left isn't so much anti-war as it is anti-Bush.
The Washington Times assesses the possibility that al Qaeda may already possess various types of nuclear devices.
The Trunk would know this exactly, but the Jewish vote in Minnesota can't be over 2%. For those who persist in labeling America a land of bigotry and prejudice, it is noteworthy that, notwithstanding this tiny percentage, both of the last two holders of the Senate seat now at issue, Wellstone and Boschwitz, were Jewish, as were both of the contenders for the seat this year, Wellstone and Coleman--a fact which has not been deemed politically significant in any of the last four elections. The problem with Boschwitz's "Jewish letter" was not that it alienated Jewish voters, but that it was more broadly construed as an attack on his opponent's religious faith, or lack thereof. By way of comparison, imagine the firestorm that would erupt if a candidate were to produce literature urging voters to support him because he is a better Christian than his opponent, and concluding with the words, "a Christian you can be proud to vote for." This is what Wellstone did.

Sunday, October 27, 2002

As Trunk likes to say, we are consumers as well as producers of this site. Today, I'm mainly a consumer, and I'm learning a great deal about recent Minnesota political history. I had no idea that things Jewish could prove decisive in Minnesota elections. What percentage of the Minnesota vote is Jewish? How did Rudy do with Jewish voters in elections before and after the letters? What did non-Jews in Minnesota make of all this, if anything. I don't suppose it's possible to post the 1990 letters and the news stories regarding them but if anyone can do it, Rocket Man can. Maybe you guys would rather not, in any case.

Trunk, I think your description of Mondale as "a perfect fool" is itself perfect. Offhand, I can't think of anyone who got so far in American politics yet seemed so mindless. He strikes me as just about the only Democratic politician of note who couldn't figure out that old-fashioned liberalism had to be repackaged. Everyone else either became a "new Democrat" or a strident class warrior. Mondale just kept serving up affable liberal platitudes. I recall his debate with Bob Dole in 1976 pretty well. Mondale kept talking about the "tremendous problems" we faced and how the government needed to solve them. Dole seemed to become irritated by the sheer idiocy of what Mondale was saying and couldn't resist taking shots at him. In the end, Dole was perceived as mean-spirited and Mondale was proclaimed the victor. Mondale reminds of the guy who goes for a walk, whistling all the way. Alll sorts of horrible things are happening around him, but he doesn't notice and isn't at all affected. He arrives at his destination with a his hair perfectly in place and a big smile. I fear that this time his destination, once again, is Washington D.C.
More on Walter Mondale and the Wellstone Succession: Rocket Man, as always, your memory is perfect, and the story does not get much less painful through the lapse of time. As to the need for a Democratic president for Lillehaug to become a judge...I invite Deacon to weigh in.

Now that the Mondale succession to Senator Wellstone's candidacy is a done deal, I want to weigh in briefly on Mondale's return to public life. Like many Minnesotans, I have a relationship with him that extends back quite a ways. When I graduated from high school in June 1969, I went to work as an intern for the summer in his Washington office. Like all such senate offices back then, his was relatively small and informal. I worked directly for his chief of staff, Mike Berman. Mike is now a Democratic consultant who is frequently quoted in background stories on Mondale.

Given his personal rectitude, his longevity as an officeholder, and the offices he has held, Mondale has become the elder statesman of the Democratic party in Minnesota and perhaps nationally. As the vice president and a vital member of what was to that time the worst administration in American history, Mondale is an ideal barometer of the liberalism of our era. When he talks about the comprehensive domestic and foreign policy catastrophes that brought down the Carter administration--unprecedented inflation/recession, the Iranian hostage taking, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan--he talks about them sincerely as if they were a plague of locusts that descended from the sky, unrelated to the policies of his own administration. He is a perfect fool.

Fast forward to 1996. As Bill Clinton found himself immersed in the campaign finance scandals that revealed his adminstration to be the most corrupt in American history, he called on Walter Mondale to head a commission that would provide him the political cover he felt he needed to ride out the scandals. As such, Mondale became the butt boy (or ass clown) of the Clinton administration.

Mondale was of course the right guy for the job of heading the commission. As a member of the senate in 1974, Mondale had been a leading advocate of the campaign finance reform law that governed in 1996. In accepting the job, Mondale characterized the regime of campaign finance law that he was partially responsible for as a "nightmare" without himself or anyone else noting its direct relationship to the "reform" he had sponsored as a senator.

Even greater irony is suggested by the fact that as a University of Minnesota Law School student in 1956, Mondale had published an incredibly astute law review note criticizing Minnesota's campaign finance law on grounds that applied generally to laws like the 1974 law (and to the reform law adopted this year). Mondale himself was aware of the irony; in 1979 he had contributed an autographed copy of the law review note to a University of Minnesota Law School fundraiser (I bought it--cheap).

When Mondale stepped into his role as head of Clinton's campaign finance commission in 1996, Rocket Man and I wrote a long article about all this for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The article appeared there as well as in a shorter form in the Washington Times. I'm taking the liberty of posting the shorter version of the article for whatever interest it may have in this context. The piece is "Fritz '56: Reflections of the Young Mondale on Campaign Finance Reform."
This photo of a typically angry, smug-looking anti-war protester marching in front of a "Books Not Bombs" poster reminded me of one of the saddest stories I've ever read. Shortly after the liberation of Afghanistan, the Washington Post ran an article about a man who was arrested by the Taliban because he had books in his house other than the Koran. He was imprisoned and hideously tortured for two years; miraculously, he was still alive when Afghanistan was liberated, and he was released from prison. The constant beatings, electric shocks and other tortures inflicted upon him took a fearful toll; at the time he was interviewed by the Post, he was brain-damaged, incontinent, suffered from severe back injuries and could walk only with difficulty. He was twenty-six years old. At the end of the interview, the man said: "I never want to see another book." I have no idea what the protester carrying that idiotic sign meant by it, but if he truly wants to bring books to Iraq in place of the daily terror that exists there now, he should be supporting President Bush.
Consider yourself recognized, Trunk. You called it first. You're right about Lillehaug too; but before he can be a judge they've got to get a Democratic president.

The Trunk's comments on Paul Wellstone's funeral arrangements are not merely personal. The Trunk was no doubt recalling how Wellstone got his big break in politics. When Wellstone received the Democratic nomination to challenge Senator Rudy Boschwitz in 1990, he was relatively unknown. As his views and his persona both became better known, he was widely regarded as a goofball. However, he ran a populist, "cute" campaign that was the model for Jesse Ventura's effort in 1998. Still, as election day approached he was a distinct underdog. A week or two before the election, Wellstone sent a letter to more or less every Jew in Minnesota which attacked Boschwitz, implied that Wellstone was a better Jew than his opponent, and concluded by urging its recipients to support Wellstone, "a Jew you can be proud to vote for." Wellstone's letter enraged some of Boschwitz's Jewish supporters, who sent a responsive letter to the same mailing list. This letter pointed out that Wellstone (unlike Boschwitz) had never played any part in Minnesota's Jewish community; it may also (I can't now remember) have questioned whether Wellstone was a practicing Jew at all. Wellstone then collaborated with the local newspapers in turning the Boschwitz letter (Rudy did not write the letter but did, as I recall, know about it) into a major cause celebre. The controversy over Boschwitz's "Jewish letter" was widely credited with tipping the balance of the election in Wellstone's favor. You had to study the fine print in the newspaper accounts very carefully to glean the fact that Boschwitz's supporters were responding to a Wellstone letter that implied that Boschwitz--a devout man who was also, as I once heard Benjamin Netanyahu say, one of the most important supporters of Israel in the United States--was not a good Jew. The story was reported in such a way that the vast majority of voters never even heard about Wellstone's letter. Anyway, this is how Wellstone got his start in politics, and this is why the eulogies to his wonderful integrity leave my cold. Trunk will correct me if my memory of these events is inaccurate in any detail.
The Star Tribune's big page-one story this morning is Eric Black's "Mondale close to yes." Will somebody please recognize me for reading the tea leaves correctly as early as Friday at 6:15 p.m.?

Rocket Man should note the key role played by his acquaintance David Lillehaug, originally of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in the deliberations here. I have the sense that David might be willing to make himself available should Mondale call on him to play a role when he returns to office, and that David's long-sought judgeship is now so close he can taste it. Rocket Man, what say you?
Mark Steyn on the theme sounded by Rocket Man the other day -- the failure of the media and of law enforcement to contemplate that the sniper might "be named Mohammad rather than Bud" and the apparent failure to contemplate the possible implications once he turned out to be named Mohammad. Steyn concludes that "given the performance of the FBI, the Immigration Service and other federal agencies, it may be time for at least one white male to get a little angry: the President."
Fox News is reporting that Mondale is on board to run; Tom Daschle is in St. Paul and, along with Wellstone's two sons, has been lobbying Mondale hard. Fox News says, however, that the official announcement may not come until Wednesday.
It's not okay to write unguardedly about Senator Wellstone yet, so I will simply say that I was interested to see where Senator Wellstone's funeral would take place. The Star Tribune has what are to me two interesting stories today about the funeral arrangements. The first is credited to the AP and alludes to some of the diplomacy involved here, "Two faiths might make Wellstone burial tricky." This story quotes my friend Rabbi Raskas (he married me and Mrs. Trunk; when he blessed Little Trunk at Saturday morning services after she was born in 1984, we had to ask him not to give his then-weekly anti-Reagan sermon) as saying Senator Wellstone was "thoroughly Jewish." On this score, I will simply observe that Senator Wellstone's son Paul David appears to have been named after the senator. Naming a child after a living person is prohibited by Jewish law, which is why you have never met a Jewish "junior." Folks who self-identify as Jews don't do it. The second story, by Martha Sawyer Allen, discusses the arrangements for Senator Wellstone's funeral. The story is "Wellstone family to hold private Jewish service."
It's so important that the Democrats retain control of the Senate that the New York Times has its two biggest political reporters assigned to help the Democrats think through the Wellstone succession issue. In this morning's Sunday Times, Adam ("big-time"--Vice President Cheney) Clymer and Adam ("small-time"--Big Trunk) Nagourney have "Mondale associates say he is likely to agree to pursue senate seat."

Saturday, October 26, 2002

Rocket Man, I agree that Wellstone was wrong about virtually everything and that this is the most publicly-relevant test of him as a politician. I certainly would voted against him if I lived in Minnesota and would llikely have devoted time and money to the campaigns of those who ran against him. However, from what I could tell (and not having followed him that closely I may be wrong), Wellstone had the courage of his convictions, which I find admirable. Such courage, if he had it, might not have distinguished him from Helms and Jackson, Jr., but it would have distinguished him from Daschle, Gore, and so many others.
Speaking of geriatric former Senators who have been thrust onto the comeback trail, the latest New York Times poll shows Frank Lautenberg leading Doug Forrester by a margin of 48 percent to 36 percent. According to the poll, Lautenberg has picked up the overwhelming majority of voters who were undecided when Torricelli was in the race, but who have now made up their minds. Moreover, many voters still do not know who Forrester is.

Meanwhile, in the New York gubernatorial race, George Pataki is running away from his Democratic opponent Carl McCall. Pataki is at 44 percent; McCall is at 29 percent; and billionaire businessman Tom Golisano is at 23 percent. My conservative cousin in New York is impressed but not pleased with Governor Pataki's showing. He notes that New York's bond rating is "almost as low as Louisiana's, upstate is a disaster area economically and, with Wall Street in the tank, the City's economic boom has ground to a halt." How has Pataki managed to flourish? According to my cousin, by running as a "pro-organized labor Democrat." Specifically, "in exchange for outrageous giveaways that will burden the state for years, he's garnered the support of the Teachers and Hospital Workers unions. The Empire State Gay Pride organization has endorsed him. In exchange, the Republican-controlled State Senate will approve a gay rights bill that had been vigorously opposed by the GOP leadership for decades." My cousin concludes that Golisano is the only candidate in the race who is running as a traditional Republican, "supporting tax and spending cuts while calling for an end to the corporate welfare and payoffs to union bosses that have contributed to New York's economic decline. Golisano is doing well enough that Pataki will start running negative ads against him, but not well enough to have any chance of winning. Pataki is looking like the new Nelson Rockefeller from whose adminstration, my cousin will tell you, New York has never fully recovered.
There are many excellent blogs; here is one called Carthaginian Peace. Scroll down a little and note the photos of the anti-anti-war protesters in Washington, many of whom are Iraqis who long for their country to be free.

Deacon, you are probably right about the Maryland race, and this is shaping up as a bad year for the Republicans in governorships generally. But it is striking that Townsend can't do any better than a dead heat, under the circumstances.

And I won't say anything further about Wellstone, simply because he is deceased, except to note that in my opinion, all politicians are sincere in that they all believe that the world will be a better place if they are elected. How Wellstone was different from anyone else, from Jesse Helms to Jesse Jackson, Jr., escapes me. The only publicly-relevant test of a politician is whether his proposals and his arguments make sense. Wellstone's didn't. That his death was a tragedy for his family goes without saying, as were the deaths of his wife and daughter and the others on board Wellstone's airplane--about whom, by the way, the press has reported virtually nothing. Wellstone's status as a Senator neither adds to nor detracts from the personal tragedy of his premature death; neither does his premature death either add to or detract from his status as a politician who was wrong about virtually everything.
Here in Maryland, I had expected Kathleen Kennedy Townsend to open a lead over her Republican gubernatorial opponent Bob Ehrlich following her fiercely negative campaigning. It hasn't happened. This report from the Washington Post shows that the two are dead even in the latest poll, each with 47 percent. Under these circumstances, the Post seems clearly correct in stating that the outcome will depend on "turnout." With whites favoring Ehrlich by a 58-38 margin and blacks favoring Townsend by 85-7, black turnout, which has fluctuated dramatically in past gubernatorial races here, will tell the tale. My guess is that black turnout, either actual or "constructive," will give Townsend the victory. But my pessimism may just be the result of a lifetime of witnessing Democratic victories in this state.
I'm not really qualified to opine on how Mondale will do in Minnesota, but it strikes me that Mondale gets basically every vote Wellstone would have gotten plus the votes of those who would have voted against Wellstone because he broke his "only two-terms" promise. Trunk, I enjoyed the account of your meeting with Wellstone. It doesn't surprise me that he created a warm feeling. I've heard he was very popular among the kids here in the Washington, D.C. area who worked in the Senate during summers. I confess to having admired the guy simply because, unlike so many other Democrats, he seemed to stand for something. I also believe that it was a good thing to have an articulate leftist in the Senate except to the extent that it created a Democratoc majority, as it did the past two years. I'm sure if Wellstone had been my Senator I would have disliked him, but from a distance I kind of had a soft spot for him, as was probably clear from my attempt at a report on his last debate with Coleman.
Our friends at Real Clear Politics are convinced that Mondale wins going away; the Trunk seems to agree. Maybe, but I'm not so sure. Mondale has been out of public life for eighteen years and is not very well known to a whole generation of voters. I agree he'll carry the geriatric set, but Wellstone would have done that too. A lot depends on how much Wellstone's negative ads have hurt Coleman. From a standing start, I think Coleman would beat Mondale. Most voters are ready for a new generation of leadership, I think. Anyway, I could be crazy, but I'm not so sure Mondale will run better than Wellstone would have, and if he doesn't it's anyone's race.
Sunday's Star Tribune strongly suggests that Walter Mondale will replace Paul Wellstone as the Democratic candidate for Senator Wellstone's seat. The triple-bylined story is "Speculation builds that Mondale will be on ballot." The coronation is on November 5.
I met Senator Wellstone only one time, but it was memorable to me. It was the day after the Jewish new year three or four years ago. We had just had my family over for the holiday, including Alan Einisman. Alan is the brother of a cousin-in-law and had worked as an aide to the senator in Washington. (This should be just the right connection to get my cousin booked to talk about Senator Wellstone on Larry King.) Alan told me at length how much he liked the senator and how much he had enjoyed working for him. The next day I was at at the airport leaving town, and looked into the news stand on the concourse I was departing from. I noticed someone plunking down one copy of each daily newspaper the stand carried, and looked up to see it was the senator. I said hello, introduced myself, and he greeted me warmly. I told him I'd been campaign treasurer for Rudy Boschwitz in his second race against him, the one in which he had whomped Rudy. He turned down his friendliness only a little, but inquired in detail about Alan. Much as I was predisposed to dislike him, and much as I wanted to, I left with a warm feeling for him personally and know I would have enjoyed talking with him at greater length. Although I was struck in person by how short he was, unlike most other politicians whom I have met personally, he was larger--not smaller--than life.
Weird beyond immediate comment is the fact that the co-pilot on Senator Wellstone's plane worked at the same flight school that Zacharias Moussouai attended last year, apparently at the same time he attended the school. The Star Tribune story has a profile of the co-pilot without any mention of their overlapping at the school, and I can't find anything via Google either. The Star Tribune story is "Co-pilot was living his dream before doomed flight."
Wake up and read the tea leaves: "Walter Mondale seen as possible Wellstone replacement on ballot." I could tell you why the stuff about Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page is a feint, but, as President George H.W. Bush used to say courtesy of Dana Carvey, I'm not gonna do it, it wouldn't be right.
The Boston Globe (courtesy of Instapundit) has a useful account of the Bellesiles affair, "With research in doubt, Emory historian resigns post." The affair is of interest in several respects beyond the particulars here, including insight into the whole apparatus of celebrity that awaits the pious fraud who plausibly caters to liberal prejudices. Also useful in this respect is the Fox News recap by Instapundit himself, Glenn Reynolds, "Fawning critics don't say book was fraud." Where's the Kingsley Amis or Randall Jarrell who can do justice to the comedy here?
An anti-war demonstration is going on in Washington; the photo below depicts some of the protesters dressed as ghosts, with signs saying things like "Ghost of an Innocent Iraqi." The protester isn't referring, of course, to the many thousands of innocent Iraqis who have been murdered by Saddam Hussein. As was the case in Afghanistan, ending the savage Saddam regime would save many more lives than it would cost. Given the left's total lack of interest in Iraq until the moment when President Bush started talking about the need for regime change, it is hard to take seriously the protesters' alleged compassion for innocent Iraqis.
This Wall Street Journal editorial documents how voting fraud by the Democrats has spread to the normally clean state of Wisconsin. It seems that Democratic operatives have been caught handing out free food and money to residents of a home for the mentally ill in Kenosha. The residents are then taken into a separate room and given absentee ballots. In 2000, Democrats were caught bribing homeless people in Milwaukee with cigarettes to vote for Gore. As Rocket Man has pointed out, such fraud by Democrats is quickly becoming (or, perhaps more accurately, being revealed as) a nationwide scandal.
We are not prone to second-guess police work, but the sniper investigation seems to have been marked by confusion and worse. The Washington Post reports that the snipers' vehicle's license plates were checked by police at least ten times, but apparently no one tabulated these sightings and noted that the snipers' Caprice was repeatedly spotted under suspicious circumstances. Most readers have probably seen the deeply offensive statement by the District of Columbia's Chief of Police--"We were looking for a white van with white people, and we ended up with a blue car with black people"--but the worst thing about the authorities' obtuseness isn't that it was bigoted, but that it was stupid. There was no reason whatsoever to assume that the snipers were white. There is nothing wrong with racial profiling; what is inappropriate is irrational racial profiling, as occurred here. Further, the authorities' premature fixation on the mythical white van seemingly blinded them to evidence inconsistent with their assumption. Just ten seconds after the shooting on October 3, a witness saw a dark-colored Chevrolet Caprice "creep away from the scene with its lights off." At least one other witness saw the Caprice, but did not report it; that individual now says that at the time, "I didn't know that [the Chevrolet] was important...and I didn't know if I wanted to get involved. And everybody's 'white van' this, 'white van' that." If more attacks of this type occur, police work will have to be better.
The Washington Post thinks Mondale's the one -- at least the one that the key Democrats seem to want and the one who isn't saying "no". It also mentions Skip Humphrey and ex-footballer Alan Page as possibilities. The Post finds the field of available Democrats to be indicative of a state party in decline. It also notes that Jesse Ventura could determine who controls the lame-duck Senate.
Egyptian television will air a "blockbuster" series based in part on the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" during the peak Ramadan viewing period, the New York Times reports.
Last weekend we posted the most widely read law review article of all time by Professor James Lindgren of Northwestern University Law School. The article demolished not just the analysis, but also the scholarly bona fides, of Michael Bellesiles (whose name I'm afraid I misspelled in my post) and his Bancroft Prize-winning anti-gun book, Arming America. Bellesiles was a professor of history at Emory University. Yesterday Emory University released the report of the distinguished panel of inquiry it had convened on the affair. The panel report found Professor Lindgren's article to be of great use in performing its task. The report was released yesterday, simultaneously with Bellesiles' resignation from Emory. The new issue of the Weekly Standard is out this morning and its Scrapbook section recaps the affair in the last item, "Ready, Aim, Fired."

Friday, October 25, 2002

With the rush of news in the last few days, one story that has been overlooked is the ever-expanding South Dakota voter fraud scandal. Democratic operatives in more and more counties have been found to have submitted fraudulent voter registrations. The Rapid City Journal reports on the spreading scandal and the Democratic Party's efforts to minimize what can only be described as a massive campaign of voter fraud. Not coincidentally, South Dakota insiders say that John Thune is pulling ahead in his Senate race against incumbent Tim Johnson.
The Chechnyan terrorist attack in Moscow is over, as Russian special forces appear to have done an excellent job of killing the terrorists without undue casualties among the hostages. The Washington Post reports that the Russian authorities moved on the occupied theater after the terrorists started murdering hostages.
The Star Tribune has posted a longer piece credited to the AP on the possible successor candidates to Senator Wellstone, naming a few folks I had not thought of. The piece is "Democrats to decide who will replace Wellstone on ballot," Another story in tomorrow morning's paper is by two of the Strib's political reporters and quotes all the relevant officeholders on the legal issues involved. Republican secretary of state Mary Kiffmeyer appears to be lost in a cloud of unknowing. The story is "Wellstone off the ballot, DFL will name a replacement," but in fact the story leaves open the possibility that the senator's name will remain on the ballot. I stand by my reading of the tea leaves for a variety of reasons, all of them cynical.
The authorities have been quick to say that there is no indication that John Muhammad was connected to al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization. This simply isn't true. This story from the Bellingham, Washington Herald has not been widely reported, but almost exactly a year ago, a man who knew Muhammad called the FBI to report him as a possible terrorist. Despite living in a homeless shelter, Muhammad flashed wads of cash and frequently took airplane trips on purported business. The man who reported Muhammad says that: "I felt like he was part of an organization. I felt like he had some connection with terrorists....I said he's got connections somewhere with somebody who's got money." It remains to be seen whether Muhammad was connected to a terrorist organization, but it is ridiculous to suggest that there is no indication that he may have been.
The signs so far this afternoon and early evening suggest to me that the DFL party will name a successor candidate to Sentor Wellstone. The Star Tribune Web site carries an AP story stating "Democrats to decide who will replace Wellstone on ballot." The KARE 11 news site has "Politicians scramble to deal with Wellstone succession." The Pioneer Press story, "Different candidate's name likely to appear on November ballot," baldly states that Senator Wellstone's name will not appear on the ballot. Reading the tea leaves here, it seems to me that former Vice President Walter Mondale (groan) is waiting to enter, stage left. Rocket Man, did we really have to write that Star Tribune column mocking such a revered elder statesman?