Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The new Democrat majority

The Wash. Post reports:
The president in his State of the Union address Tuesday night left out a tiny little suffix that means a whole lot to some people. He did it so subtly you could have missed it. Just a little "-ic." What's in an "-ic"?

Bush started the speech on a bipartisan note, honoring the first Madam Speaker, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, and calling on the country to come together.

Then: "I congratulate the Democrat majority," he said...

Bush does this a lot, and while it's hard to say if the omission was intentional in this instance, it is a semantic tactic that's been part of Republican warfare for decades. ...

The bloggers caught it, of course. (Bloggers catch that sort of thing.) "Code word," wrote one. "Calculated insult," wrote another. ...

"Like nails on a chalkboard," says John Podesta, chief of staff in the Clinton White House, and president of the Center for American Progress. ...

The missing "-ic" has a long legacy. Dick Armey was fond of saying "Democrat Party." Commie-hunting Sen. Joseph McCarthy even used the phrase half a century ago. Bush used it Tuesday night even as he was calling for politicians to "cross that aisle," even in the context of a formal address and even as he addressed a Congress dominated by those he was insulting.
Notice how the Wash. Post and the other Democrats are much more concerned with mindreading than whether the term is correct. Note also that they confuse "Democrat majority" with "Democrat Party".

The LA Times reports:
"That was an oversight," Bush said in an interview Monday with National Public Radio. "I'm not trying to needle?. I didn't even know I did it." ...

"It's a long-standing intentional partisan political slight," said Daniel Weiss, chief of staff to Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez). "It's kind of like flashing colors in a gang. It's code. It says, 'I'm one of you, I'm a right-wing conservative.' "

And experts on political locution say it's a deliberate, if ungrammatical, linguistic strategy. ...

The use of the term "Democrat Party" goes back decades. One explanation sometimes offered is that Republicans began to use it to hint that corrupt Democrats were not terribly "democratic" and had no right to use that word to describe themselves. Others say it was adopted because it sounds annoying and echoes the word "bureaucrat," with its negative connotations.

Whatever the initial impulse or rationale, the term became controversial as far back as the 1950s. Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) famously used it to deride Democrats during his hearings investigating whether Communists had infiltrated the U.S. government. During the 1956 Republican convention, the usage was so common that it prompted the New York Times to report that dropping the "-ic" had become official party policy.
I don't know whether Democrat Party or Democratic Party is more correct. But it seems to me that it is more correct for Pres. Bush to say "Democrat majority" in a speech. Saying "democratic majority" sounds redundant and stupid because all majorities are democratic majorities. The word "democratic" means "by majority rule" and we've always had democratic majorities in Congress as that is the way legislatures function. In print, capitalization can distinguish Democratic from democratic, but they are pronounced the same in a speech.

I had no idea that Democrats were so easily annoyed. They sure can blame a lot on Sen. McCarthy. If saying "Democrat Party" is somehow a statement against commies infiltrating the USA govt, then so much the better.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Proposed California bicycle safety law

The Si Valley paper reports:
Assembly Bill 60, introduced by Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, would prohibit drivers from passing cyclists unless their vehicle stays at least three feet from the bike. ...

Under existing law, a driver overtaking a bicycle in the same direction is required to pass to the left at a ``safe distance,'' or face fines of up to $250.

Under the proposed law, a driver passing a cyclist in the same direction must keep ``a minimum of three feet,'' without interfering with the safe operation of the bicycle. Violators would face a $250 ticket.

The measure also allows a motorist to swerve away from the bike and cross the double yellow line into a center turn lane. Under existing law, that center lane can only be used to make left turns and, in some places, U-turns.
This is a sensible proposal. I drive and bicycle on 2-lane roads with a double-yellow divider and no bike lanes or shoulders. The current law is impractical because it is impossible for a car to pass a bicycle without either breaking the law or endangering the cyclist. Usually the car does both. This law would give a legal rule for a car to pass safely.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Charles Murray on IQ again

Charles Murray got more controversy than he wanted in The Bell Curve, and is writing about IQ again:
Some say that the public schools are so awful that there is huge room for improvement in academic performance just by improving education. There are two problems with that position. The first is that the numbers used to indict the public schools are missing a crucial component. For example, in the 2005 round of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 36% of all fourth-graders were below the NAEP's "basic achievement" score in reading. It sounds like a terrible record. But we know from the mathematics of the normal distribution that 36% of fourth-graders also have IQs lower than 95.

What IQ is necessary to give a child a reasonable chance to meet the NAEP's basic achievement score? Remarkably, it appears that no one has tried to answer that question. We only know for sure that if the bar for basic achievement is meaningfully defined, some substantial proportion of students will be unable to meet it no matter how well they are taught. As it happens, the NAEP's definition of basic achievement is said to be on the tough side. That substantial proportion of fourth-graders who cannot reasonably be expected to meet it could well be close to 36%.
One the arguments against the validity of the IQ concept is that it is based on cognitive tests like the ETS SAT tests, and not related to neurobiological research on the brain. But there is actually a lot of research relating IQ to neurobiology, as is summarized in this 2004 review.

Bad argument for a spanking ban

In an essay advocating making benign spanking a criminal offense, Emily Bazelon writes:
Is the rise in kids beating on each other evidence of undisciplined, unruly child mobs, or the result of other unrelated forces? The data don't tell us, so take your pick. A similar split exists in the American social-science literature. In a 2000 article in the Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, Dr. Robert Lazelere (who approves of spanking if it's ``conditional'' and not abusive) reviewed 38 studies and found spanking posed no harm to kids under the age of 7, and reduced misbehavior when deployed alongside milder punishments like scolding and timeouts. By contrast, a 2002 article in Psychology Bulletin by Dr. Elizabeth Gershoff (not a spanking fan) reviewed 88 studies and found an association between corporal punishment and a higher level of childhood aggression and a greater risk of physical abuse. This is the sort of research impasse that leaves advocates free to argue what they will -- and parents without much guidance.
This is not really a research impasse. It is entirely possible that the more aggressive kids exhibit behavior that causes them to be spanked more, and that the spanking is beneficial. Bazelon even admits that there is a study that indicates exactly that:
An effort by University of California-Berkeley psychologist Diana Baumrind to tease out the effects of occasional spanking compared with frequent spanking and no spanking at all. Baumrind tracked about 100 white, middle-class families in the East Bay from 1968 to 1980. The children who were hit frequently were more likely to be maladjusted. The ones who were occasionally spanked had slightly higher misbehavior scores than those who were not spanked at all. But this difference largely disappeared when Baumrind accounted for the children's poor behavior at a younger age. In other words, the kids who acted out as toddlers and preschoolers were more likely to act out later, whether they were spanked occasionally or not at all. Lots of spanking was bad for kids. A little didn't seem to matter.
Yes, there is a correlation between corporal punishment and physical abuse. That is like saying that there is a correlation between owning a car and drunk driving. It is just an artifact of the definitions, and has no policy implications.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Optimum weather for California

The global warming doomsayers are cited in this Si Valley newspaper article:
Agriculture is the industry whose fate is most closely linked to climate, and California is by far the biggest agricultural producer in the country.

The state grows more than half of the nation's fruits, nuts and vegetables and is virtually the sole source of more than a dozen crops, including nectarines, raisins, artichokes and olives. Texas is a distant second, bringing in less than half of the $26 billion grossed by California farmers and ranchers.

Other states may escape relatively unscathed, and some studies show that the uptick in temperature and longer growing season predicted by climate models could actually be a boon to agriculture in the northernmost states.

But California's climate is already close to ideal for many of the fruits and vegetables it is famous for, and even the most optimistic predictions show California on the losing end. ``At the current crop mix that we have, we're pretty much at the optimum, so changing that would push us over the peak of that curve,'' said economist Olivier Deschjnes of the University of California-Santa Barbara.

In a forthcoming study in the American Economic Review, Deschjnes and Michael Greenstone of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimated that global warming will result in a 4 percent, or $1.3 billion, increase in agricultural profits for the United States by the end of the century. But California may see an annual loss of 15 percent, or $750 million.
So some economists say that California's agriculture is optimized for its weather, along with its soil, labor, market, etc. Just like agriculture everywhere else.

Any climate change will cause disruptions, but it is reasonable to assume that farmers will adapt, and optimize their crop production for the new weather conditions. If you want to measure the effect of global warming, then you should compare current production to the likely optimized production of the future.

For certain weather-sensitive crops like premium wine grapes, any change at all is likely to change what grape farms produce the best grapes. This change is as likely to be for the better or for the worse. There is no chance that we will run out of premium wine grapes. These newspapers that run scare stories about how premium wine production might fall by 4% are irresponsible.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Natural implications of gay sheep research

You would think obscure scientific research on how to induce sheep on a farm to breed would be non-controversial. But the NY Times reports:
Dr. [Charles] Roselli, a researcher at the Oregon Health and Science University, has searched for the past five years for physiological factors that might explain why about 8 percent of rams seek sex exclusively with other rams instead of ewes. The goal, he says, is to understand the fundamental mechanisms of sexual orientation in sheep. Other researchers might some day build on his findings to seek ways to determine which rams are likeliest to breed, he said.

But since last fall, when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA] started a campaign against the research, it has drawn a torrent of outrage from animal rights activists, gay advocates and ordinary citizens around the world ...

In an interview, Shalin Gala, a PETA representative working on the sheep campaign, said controlling or altering sexual orientation was a "natural implication" of the work of Dr. Roselli and his colleagues.

Mr. Gala, who asked that he be identified as openly gay, cited the news release for a 2004 paper in the journal Endocrinology that showed differences in brain structure between homosexual and heterosexual sheep.

The release quoted Dr. Roselli as saying that the research "also has broader implications for understanding the development and control of sexual motivation and mate selection across mammalian species, including humans." ...

If the mechanisms underlying sexual orientation can be discovered and manipulated, Dr. [Paul Root] Wolpe continued, then the argument that sexual orientation is based in biology and is immutable "evaporates."
Apparently gay activists are committed to the dogma that sexual preference is a biologically determined and immutable orientation. They are scared that scientific research will prove otherwise, and want to suppress any such research, even in sheep.

I am guessing that Mr. "Gala" did not really need to identify himself as being "openly gay".

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Laws against personal relationships

Volokh reports that Wash. State and other states have criminalized certain personal relationships.
And if you're the professional involved, don't just worry that these rules will apply to you only if the patient (or the other "key party" involved) complains. No matter how good your relationship with the person you're seeing, no matter how nonacrimonious any possible breakup, no matter how carefully you make sure that you only date people who won't want to jeopardize your career, someone else may file the complaint ...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Student sues for 1A rights

A couple of months ago, USA Today reported:
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) ? A Missouri State University graduate has sued the school, claiming she was retaliated against because she refused to support gay adoption as part of a class project.

Emily Brooker's federal lawsuit, filed on her behalf Monday by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, claims the retaliation against her Christian beliefs violated her First Amendment right to free speech. ...

In the complaint, Brooker said she was accused of violating the school's Standards of Essential Functioning in Social Work Education.

She said one of her professor's, Frank G. Kauffman, accused her of the violation after he assigned a project that required the entire class to write and each sign a letter to the Missouri Legislature in support of gay adoption. Brooker said her Christian beliefs required her to refuse to sign the letter. ...

Brooker said she was called before a college ethics committee on Dec. 16, where she was questioned for two hours by faculty members. She alleges they asked her questions such as "Do you think gays and lesbians are sinners?" and "Do you think I am a sinner?" She said she was also asked if she could help gay and lesbian people in social work situations.
She won the case.

This campus Leftist bullying would never have been public if the prof had just given the girl bad grades. But he brought a grievance against her, and tried to get her kicked out of college. She was forced to defend herself.

It is amazing that a college professor could think that a Christian is unfit for social work, and try to blackball her for it. Yes, I think that he is a sinner.

George writes:
Social workers should not be prejudiced. If Brooker is unwilling to lobby for changes in the law to alleviate discrimination, then she probably subscribes to antiquated Christian beliefs that some behaviors are more moral than others. If she wants to be a social worker, then she must learn that social work includes working for social change in our society. The college should not be giving degrees in social work to people who will not fit in with other social workers.
If that is really the policy of the social work dept. of the college, then the college catalog and web site should say so.

Here is another Kauffman defender.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Silly no-spanking law proposed

Here is a good Si Valley letter to the editor:
Bill would usurp parental rights

Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, pet guardian and mother of none, is proudly pushing legislation to dictate to the millions of Californians who are parents just how they should discipline their children (Page 1A, Jan. 18). She cites the source of her inspiration as a chat with one friend who pointed out that more than 10 European countries already ban the spanking of children.

Ironically, these same nations are making news for their alarming decline in birth rates. Perhaps potential parents are discouraged by the prospect of spending 18 or so years living in a home run by a child wielding the power of law enforcement to avoid being disciplined. Lieber deserves to be spanked by her constituents for proposing this bureaucratic usurpation of parents' rights and responsibilities.

Bob Nystrom
Mountain View
He has an interesting testable hypothesis here. I wonder whether laws undermining parental authority are correlated with declining birth rates.

The paper's lead Page 1 story for the last two days has been about a new mother leaving the hospital with her baby:
A day after a San Jose mother slipped away from Valley Medical Center with her newborn, employees probed how the woman eluded security guards, especially since sensors in her baby's hospital bracelet triggered an alarm.

The incident sparked a frantic five-hour search for Karla Lugo, 24, and her infant daughter before Lugo returned to the hospital voluntarily after sheriff's deputies found her at a friend's house. The baby was in good condition at the hospital Thursday, but she is in Child Protective Services custody as authorities investigate whether Lugo broke the law. ...

VMC spokeswoman Joy Alexiou said Lugo had every right to leave, even though her daughter's test results triggered a call to Child Protective Services. Lugo knew authorities had been called, but there was no court order restricting her custody of the girl, born by caesarean section Tuesday. ...

The case at Valley Medical Center also was unusual, Kemp pointed out, because the mother left with her own baby. ``And people leave `A.M.A.,' or against medical advice, all the time,'' she said.
This is weird. The woman was not in jail. She was within her rights to leave at any time. Sure, the hospital would have preferred that she check-out in the usual way, but she does not have to do that.

I have left a hospital against medical advice myself. I have even gotten conflicting medical advice, meaning that my actions would be against medical advice no matter what I did. No law requires people to obey medical advice.

Perhaps the same sort of nanny-state zealots who push anti-spanking laws will soon push to outlaw acting against medical advice.

George writes:
You act as if the mother left innocently, or because of a legitimate medical belief. But she appears to have left because because a hospital bureaucrat had turned her into Child Protective Services, and she was trying to avoid an accusation that might result in the police taking her kids away.
She is innocent until proven guilty. They have already taken her kids away, because they don't like her attitude I guess, but she ought to be entitled to a presumption of innocense. If she has committed some crime, they can indict her, try her, and convict her, just like any other criminal. As long as she has not been arrested or charged or anything, she is not required to wait around for whatever accusations might arise.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Racist Duke profs are unapologetic

The racist Duke faculty is digging in its heels:
There have been public calls to the authors to retract the ad or apologize for it, as well as calls for action against them and attacks on their character. We reject all of these. We think the ad's authors were right to give voice to the students quoted, ...
We stand by the claim that issues of race and sexual violence on campus are real,...
The racist Duke professors seem determined to accuse innocent people and inflame racial hatred.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Obama drawing parallels

Chicago Sun-Times reports:
"We will have an announcement very soon," said Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Monday.

Obama will make his 2008 White House run official any day now. I'm told by the Obama camp: "standby."

"Could be as early as this week," said Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs.

Obama spoke at a Dr. Martin Luther King Day memorial in Harvey, a south suburban Chicago suburb and then took questions from reporters. ...

Obama's own words:
"We will have an announcement very soon but I didn't want to use this day to indicate my plans because I am humbled by what Dr. King accomplished.

"And I don't think that-you know-whatever my political plans are are comparable to the heroic struggles that he went through and I don't want to draw false parallels."
I am expecting Obama to hold a press conference next month on the day after Washington's Birthday, and then try to imply that he didn't want to draw parallels between himself and George Washington.

Update: I was a little off. Obama is reportedly going for Lincoln's birthday, as of Feb. 9.

Update: Sure enough, Obama used Lincoln's birthday to compare himself to Pres. Lincoln.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Teach to the test

I just heard CBS radio news broadcasting a sound bite from someone griping that because of increased emphasis on standardized testing in the USA public schools, teachers have to "teach to the test" and stick to the curriculum, at the expense of teaching current events, such as how we got into the Iraq War. (I missed the name, and do not have an exact quote.)

This is good news. I'd rather forbid the teachers from subjecting the students to their political propaganda.

I wouldn't mind if schools taught the actual reasons for the war as stated by Pres. GW Bush and Tony Blair, the reasons given by Congressmen who voted for the war, including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, and the majority of other Democrats, and the actual reasons cited by the United Nations when it voted to give Iraq and ultimatum.

History is already being rewritten, and hardly anyone remembers thosereasons anymore. I would first test the teachers to see whether they can state the reasons for war correctly. I doubt it.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Kids affecting their parents' diet

NY Times reports:
Adults who live with children eat more fat, and more saturated fat, than those who do not, according to a new study.

The report, published online last week in The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, was based on data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Survey, a six-year nationwide study of more than 33,000 people carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study authors argue that parents are picking up bad eating habits from their kids. Their main example is that parents eat more cheese than other adults.

But cheese is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. The study found that parents do not consume more calories than non-parents. It found that parents consume more fat, but consumption is still within guidelines.

The research paper says:
The epidemic of obesity and lifestyle-related chronic diseases is fundamentally tied to Americans' poor eating habits. As measured in the National Health and Nutition Examination Survey (NHANES), the percentage of calories from fat decreased from 36% to 33% and saturated fat from 13% to 11% from 1971 to 2000. ... Overall, Americans remain above guidelines for consumption of saturated fat and total fat. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 recommends that adults maintain their total fat intake between 20% and 35% of caloric intake ...
33% fat may seem like a lot, but if the USDA guidelines recommend 20% to 35% fat, then 33% is within guidelines. Someone eating 33% fat is likely to be healthier than someone eating 19% fat, if these guidelines are accurate.

Some people falsely assume that less dietary fat is always better. It is not. If it were, then the guideline would be 0% fat, or 0% to 10% fat. In fact, most obese people got fat by eating excessive carbohydrates, not fat. They would have been better off if their caloric intake had a higher percentage of fat, not lower. Children especially need to eat fat.

I think that it is quite possible, based on this data, that kids induce parents to eat more nutritious meals. Parents go out of their way to make healthy and nutritious meals for their kids, and then eat them themselves.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Economics PhD job discrimination

The Marginal Revolution blog quotes an economics paper co-written by the Freakonomics guy:
Our results raise an interesting question: Why are some characteristics much stronger predictors of grades than of job placements? Foreign-trained and male students achieve substantially higher first-year grades, on average, but do not appear to be placed into much higher ranked jobs.
I am just guessing here, but there are some obvious explanations. Women benefit from affirmative action programs in both admissions and job placement. A consequence is that men will have better grades and get worse jobs on graduation.

Besides discrimination against men, there may also be discrimination against foreigners. A lot of foreigners speak with heavy accents and may therefore be less desirable for teaching jobs.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Choosing life is a choice

Orlando Florida Sentinel reports:
Republican-controlled legislatures in Georgia and Ohio, where the "Choose Life" plates also are available, have denied pro-choice designs in the last two years.
The sentence doesn't make any sense. A plate that says "Choose Life" favors a choice.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Cleric killed in Gaza after plea for calm

I am always looking for examples of some Mideast Mohammedan who is actually in favor of peace. Here is the latest:
GAZA (Reuters) - Unidentified gunmen shot dead a Muslim cleric after he delivered a sermon in the Gaza Strip on Friday calling for an end to fierce factional fighting between Hamas and Fatah, hospital officials and local residents said. ...

Brushing aside Haniyeh's plea for calm, Fatah issued a statement in Gaza: "Blood for blood and aggression for aggression ... and all the sons of the movement should retaliate to each aggression openly."

The cleric, who was in a car when the gunmen opened fire, was not affiliated to any faction. No group claimed responsibility for the shooting, which occurred after prayers at a mosque in the Maghazi refugee camp.
Former pop music star Cat Stevens claims to be an example, but he refuses to denounce terrorist Mohammedan organizations like Hamas. I don't know how he can be an advocate for peace, and not profess any opinion on the suicide bombers and other terrorists who are killing innocent civilians. Maybe he just doesn't want to get killed himself.

Don't pair up with matching genes

New Scientist reports:
They say opposites attract -- and a couple's differences may be key to lasting happiness, according to a new genetic study of people in relationships. The findings were so predictive, that a DNA test could one day reveal how likely a woman is to cheat on her partner, the study suggests. ...

The study revealed that as MHC genetic similarities increased, it was the women who were the most dramatically affected. They were less sexually responsive to their partners, more likely to have affairs, and more attracted to other males, particularly during fertile days of their menstrual cycles, Garver-Apgar says. In relationships where MHC genetic differences were significant, these potentially relationship-splitting behaviours were either absent or greatly reduced. ...

Men were an entirely different matter, the study showed. They did not seem to be affected by genetics at all. As MHC similarities increased, men showed no change in the sexual interest that they had for their partners and seemed no more attracted to women outside of their primary relationship.
Got that men? Find a women with MHC genetic differences, or she will have uncontrollable urges to cheat.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Duke tries to fix its image

News from 2 weeks ago:
DURHAM - Dogged by months of damaging news stories about the lacrosse scandal, Duke University has launched a costly campaign of alumni dinners, national surveys and aggressive recruitment.

The effort -- which includes a 12-city tour by President Richard Brodhead and an entourage of faculty and students -- is part of a larger push to blunt publicity generated by gang-rape allegations involving lacrosse players. The charges resulted in an embarrassing examination of the school's social and academic culture. ...

There are signs that Duke's recruitment efforts could take a hit from the lacrosse fallout. The university's early-decision applications dropped by nearly 20 percent this past fall, and officials concede the decrease was related partly to the scandal.
Yesterday's news:
Two former Duke University lacrosse players accused of sexual assault last year are being allowed to return to the North Carolina school in good standing.

The Raleigh News & Observer reported that the university has informed Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty that their administrative leave of absence would be lifted and that both men, who were involved in the rape scandal, would be allowed to return to Duke.

David Evans, the third former lacrosse team player involved in the controversial case, graduated from Duke last year.
Duke is going to have to try harder than this. The scandal has exposed the Duke administration as a bunch of spineless racists. The lacrosse players were loyal Duke students who paid Duke a lot of money in tuition. Duke should have defended them as being innocent until proven guilty. Instead, Duke just threw them to the wolves.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Queen bee syndrome

UK research news:
Women bosses are significantly more likely than men to discriminate against female employees, research has suggested.

The study found that when presented with applications for promotion, women were more likely than men to assess the female candidate as less qualified than the male one.

They were also prone to mark down women's prospects for promotion and to assess them as more controlling than men in their management style.

The findings, based on experiments carried out among more than 700 people, suggest that the "queen bee syndrome" of female rivalry in the workplace may sometimes be as important as sexism in holding back women's careers.

Learn to live long

Which is these factors is the best predictor for good health and longevity? Smoking, race, income, education, diet, exercise, BMI, and health insurance.

According to this NY Times article, it is education. You don't have to attend college to know that smoking is bad for your health, so the causal mechanism is a little mysterious.

There are more comments here. Steve Sailor says that correlations with IQ were ignored.

Blaming Gerald Ford

A lot of people are saying that Pres. Gerald Ford lost the 1976 election because he pardoned Pres. Richard Nixon. It is true that the election was extremely close, and Ford could have won with about 10k more votes in Ohio and Hawaii.

But there are probably dozens of factors that similarly influenced enough voters to possibly shift the election. For example, appointing Nelson Rockefeller VP, continuing with hated Nixon cronies like Henry Kissinger, breaking his promise not to run for reelection, allowing S. Vietnam to fall to the commies, proposing to slow inflation with his ridiculous Whip Inflation Now buttons, making political gaffes like saying the commies don't dominate Poland, letting Jimmy Carter get all the Southern and evangelical voters, giving the appearance of being a dumb football player who is in way over his head, having an unstable wife, etc. We expect a president to lose when he loses a war and lets the economy tank. The amazing thing is that the 1976 election was as close as it was.

While everyone agrees that Nixon was a bad guy, less than 10% of the population can describe the crimes for which he was being impeached. Perhaps Ford should have just declined to prosecute Nixon. Ford was the Chief Executive, and has the authority to make the final call on who is or is not prosecuted by the Justice Dept. Maybe Ford was worried that he would be impeached for it, because Nixon's main crime was a failed attempt to impede the DoJ investigation of the Watergate burglars.

Pardoning Nixon also ended the official investigation of him. I guess the difference between Ford's obstruction of justice and Nixon's was that Ford was transparently using his presidential authority, and Nixon was being sneaky. Nixon was Tricky Dick, and Ford was just dumb. We think that Ford was telling the truth when he explained his reasons for the pardon. A lot of people suspected that he wasn't telling the whole truth, but I doubt that it really cost Ford very many votes.