Thursday, January 20, 2005


I'm in Instapundit mode

Tony Blankley takes Seymour Hirsh to task.

Who will replace Danforth?

Today marks the end of John Danforth's tenure as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. This speech shows why Michael Novak should replace him.

Thursday, January 13, 2005


And the winner is . . . more or less

Sound Politics is the best source for news and commentary on the Washington gubernatorial election fiasco.

A new election clearly appears warranted, as the results of the first one are not trustworthy. The fact that 348 provisional ballots were permitted to be counted as votes at polling places in King County without the eligibility of the voter being first determined is itself ground to find that there is an unacceptably low confidence level in the election result. Add in the highly questionable decisions by canvassing boards (with the poster child being a ballot with a writein for Christine Rossi that was counted as a Christine Gregoire vote), and the shenanigans from the appearing and disappearing ballots in King County (plus the approximately 1800 more ballots counted that voters known in that county), and it should be a simple decision for a court.

A new election is also warranted in the North Carolina race for State Agriculture Commissioner where 4438 votes were lost in Carteret County (because no paper record was kept and the machine stopped recording data input due to its memory being full) and the margin was approximately half that many votes. A court has thrown out the state election board's plan, but that plan made little sense - it would have established a revote for the people whose ballots were lost AND for the residents of that county who didn't vote the first time. A new statewide election is the proper remedy. Carteret County happens to be a GOP stronghold, and the GOP nominee was unseating the incumbent Democrat without those votes, but the expectation that people would have voted a certain way, based upon the votes of others, is inimical to a democratic system.

Send the Marines

National Review's John Derbyshire misses an essential difference between the Congo and Thailand/Indonesia/Sri Lanka/India in his argument.

For all these differences, however, and with all proper respect to those who have selflessly given to the suffering people in south Asia, Orwell's remark is not quite truth-free. There is, for example, a capricious quality to rich-world charity. Our charitable impulses are mediated by, well, our media. We see an orphaned child or a weeping mother on our TV screen, and are moved to pity. Nothing the least bit wrong with that; but the world is full of orphaned children and weeping mothers who never make it to the nightly news. Here is a country that for five years has endured a horrible civil war, with fatalities guessed at three million. Must be lots of orphans and bereaved mothers there. Did you send any money to relieve their distress? No, neither did I.

There is nothing capricious about it. Sending money to help people in south Asia means donating it to a charity which is engaged in reconstruction efforts and/or distribution of food, medicines, etc. in countries where a natural disaster befell people, and where the government is welcoming assistance. Sending money to help starving people in the Congo, on the other hand, means trying to find someone who can brave the middle of a civil war (although at a much lower intensity currently than a few years ago) to deliver aid without being robbed or killed by either rebels or government-allied forces. The latter is a fool's errand, because we can expect that aid intended for the Congo will not actually do any good. Those people need armed troops to "convince" combatants to stand down.

There are more suitable examples of how the media chooses tragedies for our assistance - endemic serious diseases in countries such as Bangladesh are remediable by sending aid, but are almost ignored in the media. I still do not believe that the difference is capricious. A catastrophic event is far more newsworthy than a prolonged condition, simply because the former is changing markedly.

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