The Sideshow

Archive for November 2004

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Tuesday, 30 November 2004

On the blog

Alert: The Corpuscle says: In more WNYC news, on Wednesday, December 1, 2004, at approximately 11:40 a.m. Eastern Time, Brian Lehrer will have a discussion on what he perceives as "the journalistic gap" between what the mainstream (mainlining?) media has to say about reports of voting irregularities, and what various other organizations are doing and saying about it. (And check out this post on a fascinating article about where doctors fall on the bell curve - and some who manage to reside miraculously well above the top of it.)

The Talking Dog says that Vioxx is just the tip of the iceberg, and there are at least five more drugs that should be pulled off the market immediately.

Chuck Dupree of Bad Attitudes is a big fan of Gibbon and has done a short series of posts on the subject that makes interesting reading: The New Crusades, A Bridge From Antiquity to Modernity, A Zealous Distrust of Zeal. Meanwhile, Jerome Doolittle offers an old scribble from his notebook on Realpolitik.

PNH catches President Sissy. (I told you W stands for Wimp!)
20:38 GMT

It's not just abstract

The news headlines from Bloomberg and the NYT version of the AP story suggest that the case is about whether the Court feels like making marijuana accessible for medicinal use, and indicating a "skeptical" or "hesitant" response.

But the NYT editorial was, as usual, just conservative. This is, after all, the newspaper from which Rosenthal used to carry on his bizarre anti-drug campaign, to the disgust of every liberal who read their op-ed pages.

If this was about guns, they'd have delivered an emotional outburst that made a middle-of-the-road plea for more gun laws without ever addressing the liberal argument that America's unusual level of gun violence is less about guns than about something else that's going on in our society. In other words, in the true way of conservatives, they would blame an artifact rather than examine root causes. When it was about the Computer Decency Act, they carried on about "smut" rather than acknowledging that pornography isn't much of a problem or informing the public that the CDA was written to suppress a great deal more than dirty words and pictures. By taking what are actually mainstream conservative positions and failing to illuminate the liberal position, this newspaper managed to convince a number of deluded folk who think the NYT is a liberal paper that these views were themselves liberal, rather than the conservative positions they are.

Now the NYT is mumbling about the Constitutional niceties rather than the more urgent business of giving people access to a drug that can help them.

And now I've already noticed people from the right remarking on the present case in terms of the conservative argument, in that right-wing way of pretending their arguments are particularly central to liberal positions. So they're talking about how "liberals", in the form of the NYT, are trying to cope with a states' rights position when it works in their favor to do so, rather than understand (as the NYT, which is not a liberal paper, doesn't either) that it is neither the states nor the federal government that have priority in the view of liberals, since there is something much more important: The interest of the individual has to take precedence over that of all other parties to the issue.

The State has long ago failed to prove an interest in its anti-marijuana position that can override the interest of individual rights and freedoms, so we don't really get all that distracted by junk like whether the prerogatives of Congress, the states, or the fed are being intruded upon. Marijuana is just a drug, like dozens of other drugs that can be purchased either by prescription or off the shelves. Since government cannot demonstrate an advantage to society for its anti-drug campaign, it has no legitimate choice but to let it go. The fact that it does not merely proves that it is currently embarked on a project which is not meant to benefit our nation.

See, liberals are only in love with institutions (like, say, the Constitution) to the extent that said institutions protect our rights and liberties at the personal level. We like the fed when it is protecting us from our more immediate neighbors, and we like the individual states when they are protecting us from the fed (and we like anybody who protects us from our bosses), but it's us we want protected, not "the states" or "the federal government". It doesn't really matter whether the Constitution gives Congress the right to regulate interstate commerce or anything else when the issue is that I can grow medicine in my backyard that works better for me than anything I can buy at the drugstore or the liquor store.* Let them get away with this stuff and soon they will be saying that you can't grow your own tomatoes, either.
*Let it here be noted (again) that marijuana does not actually work better for me at anything. It just makes me feel slow and tired and hungry, and sometimes a bit nauseated and dizzy, which is not my idea of a good time. But it does work better for some people, and I see no reason why they shouldn't have it.
13:40 GMT

Monday, 29 November 2004

Learning to count

Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine filed a Freedom of Information request: With not much original reporting, I discovered that the latest big fine by the FCC against a TV network -- a record $1.2 million against Fox for its "sexually suggestive" Married by America -- was brought about by a mere three people who actually composed letters of complaint. Yes, just three people. [...] Note well that this is how the supposed army of "moral values" crusaders is inflated by media and government. Reading stories about the FCC's actions, you'd think that millions are outraged by what's on TV. No, millions watch TV. Only three are outraged.

James Fallows in the Business section of the NYT: Electronic Voting 1.0, and No Time to Upgrade: A columnist in The Washington Post recently suggested that nostalgia for paper ballots, in today's reliably computerized world, must reflect a Luddite disdain for technology in general or an Oliver Stone-style paranoia about the schemings of the political world. Not at all. It can also arise from a clear understanding of how computers work - and don't. The more you know about the operations of today's widely trusted commercial computer networks, the more concerned you become about most electronic-voting systems.

Why we must not "Get Over It": Before the election, Karl Rove often said that the secret for winning in 2004 was to bring to the polls the four million evangelicals who didn't vote in 2000. Apparently they didn't vote in this election as well. Yet Bush's 2004 total was eight million more than he had in 2000. Where did Bush's Eight Million Surplus Votes Come From? Furthermore, what happened to all those Kerry votes? [...] Are we to understand that these long lines in the poor and African American districts were composed primarily of evangelicals infuriated at the very idea of gay marriage? If so, then similar crowds would be expected in the southern "Bible Belt," and they were not there.
22:49 GMT

Media notes

Dan got smeared: As a CBS News correspondent in the early '80s, I worked with Rather and have known him for more than 20 years. Listen to me: There is no way on this Earth that he would have knowingly used fake documents on any story. Yes, it's true, a lazy and amoral media helped the right-wing attack dogs destroy the career of one of few remaining journalists in Big Media who actually wanted to report the news. What makes this particular article interesting is that it is written by Bill O'Reilly, who still can't admit that it wasn't Rather's celebrity that made him a target, but the fact that he was not a stenographer for the right-wing lie machine. (via)

In Leak Case, Reporters Lack Shield For Sources: The basic argument in favor of legal protection for a reporter's pledge of confidentiality is that the public interest is served by making sure that whistle-blowers can take their tales of official wrongdoing to the news media without fear of reprisal. That's right and good. But whoever leaked Valerie Plame's covert identity to reporters was not whistle-blowing against government abuse or illegality - they were simply committing a crime for political reasons that harmed our country. These two things are not the same.
18:50 GMT

Take Action!

Stop The Execution of Frances Newton in Texas

Frances Newton is scheduled to be executed in Texas on December 1st, 2004. She was convicted in October 1988 of the murder of her husband and two children in April 1987. She is currently seeking a 120-day reprive to allow forensic testing which lawyers say will prove her innocence.
Via Norbizness.
17:05 GMT

Two from the Guardian

He's got it taped - Martin Kettle profiles American legend Studs Terkel: I think the old labels don't work now. Left, right. Conservative. I'm a conservative. I want to conserve the bill of rights. I want to conserve clean water and the blue skies and clean food.

Playing for time: Israel shocked by image of soldiers forcing violinist to play at roadblock. And so am I. The rightwing Army Radio commentator Uri Orbach found the incident disturbingly reminiscent of Jewish musicians forced to provide background music to mass murder. "What about Majdanek?" he asked, referring to the Nazi extermination camp. "That which we hate, we become," says TBogg.
15:51 GMT

Bush won?

Mark Crispin Miller doesn't believe it, either. Let's Get Real, he says.

To let ourselves believe that the "election" was legitimate because this claim or that has been disproved (apparently) is to not honor reason. On the contrary, a veritable sea of evidence, statistical as well as anecdotal and circumstantial, supports the claim that Bush, again, was not elected by the people.
To nod agreement that this was indeed an honest win is to forget how Bush was shoehorned into office in the first place; to ignore the ease with which electronic totals can be changed without a trace; to suppress the fact that Diebold, Sequoia and ES&S-the major manufacturers of touch screen voting machines and central tabulators-are owned and run by Bush Republicans, who have made no secret of their partisan intentions; to deny the value of the exit polls, which turn out to have been "mistaken" only in the swing states; to downplay the weird inflation of the Bush vote in county after county, where the number of votes for president was somehow higher than the number of voters who turned out; to ignore the bald chicanery of the Bush supporters who ran the central polling station in Ohio's Warren County and forced out the press and poll monitors so they could count the vote in secret; to forget the numerous accounts of vote fraud coast to coast throughout the prior weeks of early voting; to overlook the fact that every single "glitch" or "error" that has been reported favors Bush; to ignore the countless instances of ballots-absentee, provisional-thrown away or left uncounted; to forget that the civilian vote abroad (some four million Americans) was being mishandled by the Pentagon (which had somehow become responsible for doing the State Department's job); and to ignore the many dirty tricks reported-the polling places quickly relocated at the last minute, the fake voter-registration drives, the thousands of Americans who found themselves not on the rolls, the police road-blocks, the bullying pro-Bush poll workers, the machines that kept translating votes for Kerry into votes for Bush. And so on.
The New Statesman is a bit more cautious, but still: The evidence of fraud is not yet conclusive but, given the Republicans' record, it is all too plausible.

I want to thank Hecate over at Eschaton for not only focusing on this subject, but picking up on my "lame duck" meme and also reprising my use of our friend Arlo's words. Not sure whether Hecate reads The Sideshow or great minds etc., but needless to say, I agree with her.

How the Ohio election was rigged for Bush has lots of examples of voter-suppression efforts, but there are other oddities as well:

In Cleveland, where a public hearing was held on Saturday, November 20, there was a different pattern of voting irregularities. These include heavily Democratic wards with abnormally low reported rates of voter turnout, three under 20%. In Precinct 6-C where Kerry beat Bush 45 votes to one, allegedly only 7.1% of the registered voters cast ballots. In precinct 13-D where Kerry received 83.8% of the vote, only 13.05% reportedly voted. In precinct 13-F where Kerry received 97.5%, the turnout was reported to be only 19.6%.
[(Raw figures are here.) Via, via this page full of items on the subject.]

So where did all of those long lines come from? And if the vote swung so heavily on the stealth "evangelical" GOTV effort, why all the places they didn't show up at all, because, apparently, almost nobody did? What really happened to those precincts?

Meanwhile, Jesse Jackson doesn't believe it, either - Jackson joins critics of Ohio vote: The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Sunday that the Ohio Supreme Court should consider setting aside Bush's win in Ohio and that Congress should investigate how Ohioans voted.

One you may not have seen before: A map of election problems in the US.
14:28 GMT

DMCA carpet-bombing

IP Justice's report on the World Intellectual Property Organization meeting is looking pretty hairy:

The proposed treaty would create sweeping new rights for broadcasting companies that would severely undermine the public interest and subvert the rights of creators to large broadcasters.
These controversial provisions, similar to the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), have been shown to harm to freedom of expression, consumer rights, technological innovation, and market competition. Now WIPO proposes to grant an additional layer of rights for broadcasters, on top of the rights of copyright holders, to prevent consumer and scientific circumvention of technology locks on broadcasts. If the treaty passes, consumers will be unable to access public domain programming that is locked up by broadcasting companies. Artists will also be required to seek permission from broadcasting companies if they want to use their own performances.
Again we see the needs of the public dismissed as in conflict with the needs of specific industries. This isn't just about file-sharing music, you understand - this is actually suppressing technological developing that could ultimately benefit society as a whole, possibly promote economic growth for a nation, in the name of protecting a small industry elite.

Those of you who are familiar with arguments against unions may recognize behavior that is precisely what anti-union arguments purport to oppose, but apparently those kinds of arguments are only interesting when they protect ordinary working people. Imposing stasis on innovation is just fine and dandy when it's in aid of big corporate bodies.

Apparently, dirty tricks are being used at the WIPO meeting in order to foreclose debate and negotiation, as well. This thing is being rammed through even over the objections of some of the larger nations.
11:59 GMT

Now in plain sight

Drug WarRant noticed something interesting: The government's case against medical marijuana explicitly gives as an argument something that, when people like me say it (and we do), is dismissed as some sort of conspiracy theory. Quoting from Ashcroft v. Raich: Medical Marijuana and the Supremes:

Among the feds' arguments is one usually left unspoken: prohibition serves the interests of the pharmaceutical corporations. As expressed in the Solicitor General's brief, "Excepting drug activity for personal use or free distribution from the sweep of the CSA would discourage the consumption of lawful controlled substances." It would also undercut "the incentives for research and development into new legitimate drugs." That's as close as the government has come to acknowledging that wider cannabis use would jeopardize drug-company profits.
So add this to the list of things they no longer think they have to hide from us. Here the needs of the public are pitted directly against those of Big Pharma, and the federal government is comfortable treating the latter, rather than the former, as its client.

And that, friends, is what modern "conservatism" is all about.
10:38 GMT

Sunday, 28 November 2004


That Colored Fella is musing about people who are no really haha I mean it not gay. (And do you wonder how many drugs Melhman has to take to get to sleep at night?)

The Night Light says: The Bush prison initiative disinters a 200-year-old thought control experiment and animates it with an "Up With People"/"Promisekeepers" facade. (Via The Daou Report.)

Natasha has learned that, like most corporate bodies, the Bush administration is psychopathic.

Long Story, Short Pier is on Canary watch, and yes, you really only need to read the names of these four bills to know it's time to climb out of the mine. Also, I learn here that Americans United for Separation of Church and State has a blog.

Getting served.

22:00 GMT

Lingerie of the Day

In lieu of our usual feature, here's a blogger who cuts to the chase - why mess around with nasty old politics when you can just indulge your Corset Dreams? Jennifer even offers a personal touch and might let you buy her something nice to model from the Figleaves catalog (the source of most of our Bra of the Week features).
16:25 GMT

American Taliban

Conservatives can whine about it all they want to, but there was nothing untoward - or inaccurate - about Julian Bond's appellation for the far-right crazies who now run the country. The Taliban wing of the Republican Party is now so thoroughly in control that they rarely try to hide it anymore. Watching Arlen Specter grovel to retain his seat is all the evidence you need that so-called "moderate" Republicans only stay in the party at all by selling their souls. The mythical "principled Republican" no longer exists within that party - his name was Jim Jeffords.

As we all know, the best authoritarian program involves making use of the forms of government without actually adhering to them. Pretend support for democracy, pretend belief in free speech, pretend Christianity, we've seen it all before. (Everything is peachy, right?) It's not an accident that horrible little creeps start coming out of the woodwork in droves as their "respectable" leadership makes the environment safer for them. (That link came via a blog I just found called The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy).

They have already erased much of what we used to know. We used to know, for example, that preventing young people from seeing sexual imagery, that stigmatizing it, actually has harmful effects. Yet now we have people with fairly liberal views, making liberal arguments, who say things like this:

And porn, like alcohol, is meant to be a treat for adults. In fact, everyone I've spoken within the adult industry also supports the separation of children and adult content -- that's why it's called adult content.
No one used to care to make this distinction because everyone knew that there was nothing special about being under 18 that made pornography problematic. There is no evidence, anywhere, that anyone of any age has ever been harmed by seeing pornography. On the contrary, the people who seem most prone to becoming sexually violent are those who saw less pornography, and saw it later in life, than the rest of us.

The right-wing doesn't want you to know, of course, that there's nothing like a lot of repressive religious upbringing to create your basic serial rape-murderer, which is why they've kept their program of lies amped up for over 30-years. But it's not sexual violence they want to get rid of, it's social equality that they just can't stand.

Social equality is such an inconvenience to those who wish to be world-dominators, too. If it worked for Rome, why shouldn't it work for us? (For certain values of "us", that is.) Sexual repression, rigid sex roles, and economic misery for the masses work very, very well for people who'd rather be powerful than great. Better to reign in Hell....

I guess if people don't go to school they can be convinced that when we run out of oil, we'll have electric or alcohol-fueled cars and nothing else will change. They'll forget what the term "petroleum products" means, and they will forget what they look like, too. The remaining reserves will be hoarded for what will become luxuries. Your children won't need computers anyway, and by then birth control pills will be banned, so the fact that they are too expensive for anyone but the very rich to afford won't be a problem. (And the very rich, you can be sure, will have them anyway, whether they are legal or not.) We need you to get pregnant a lot to produce all that cannon fodder. Keep talking about abstinence, as if they didn't already know you're going to have sex, just like you always have. Teenage sex was not invented in the 1960s, no matter what they tell you.

Maybe Bérubé has the right idea.
14:05 GMT

Why your e-mail to me is bouncing

I don't know what's going on at Cix, except that they are not as good as they once were - which used to be very good indeed.

Cix was a lot like The Well in their conferencing system, and very reliable in their mail handling as well as their support, but they've been bought and sold a number of times, now, with predictable results. But until recently at least they remained the best mail-handler I'd ever had. That hasn't been working out so good the last few weeks. The problem is intermittent - sometimes I get the mail, sometimes I don't, some of it eventually arrives, but I'm not sure all of it does.

They've also done something that messes up all Gmail headers so that instead of a clean reply field they read a load of gibberish and the ordinary reply function doesn't even work. The gibberish is also in the "From:" field when I look at headers, so I don't know who it's from. How unhelpful.

To add injury to insult, they've actually bounced legitimate mail from two of my correspondents, and neither of them had any interesting oddities in their headers that should have triggered it. Very annoying.

So, once again, I am having thoughts of moving off of Cix, but you know how it is, you've had the same addy for ten years and you just hate the thought of changing it. Developing....
11:59 GMT

Blogging Texas

Via Charles Kuffner, a new weblog by Sarah Berel-Harrop called mUUsings that has some informative posts, such as one giving a pointer to 10 question guide on the Matthew Shephard murder, presumably as a response to the 20/20 piece of revisionism. Says Sarah, "It saddens me that 20/20 would air this piece, give the murderers this soapbox, when the plea agreement - which took the death penalty out of the sentencing picture - specifically prohibits them from discussing the murder with the press. Brutally murder a young man and rub the family's face in it, very nice going. ABC, this is not your finest moment."

Sarah also brings up another one of those "election problems" that we are assured we shouldn't be concerned about: "I was looking at the canvass report for the SD 149 race and I find that in precinct 283, which has zero (0) registered voters (per the county clerk), 10 people voted: 9 for Heflin, 1 for Vo." Heflin, of course, is one of the Republicans who has been calling for a recount; perhaps he should re-think this. But check out this post that explains the bizarre demands and procedures involved in that weird little recount situation. Is this any way to run a democracy?
11:01 GMT

Humane brutality

First of all, it's not all as harmless as it looks:

Claims Over Tasers' Safety Are Challenged

Taser International, whose electrical guns are used by thousands of police departments nationwide, says that a federal study endorses the safety of its guns, but the laboratory that conducted the research disagrees.

And secondly, you can't trust them to use it instead of lethal force:
Many police officers say that Tasers give them a way to restrain dangerous suspects without using firearms or fighting with them. But civil liberties groups say police often use Tasers on people who are merely unruly or disobedient, not dangerous. Recently, police officers in Miami shocked a 6-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl in separate incidents, prompting widespread criticism.

"The evidence suggests that far from being used to avoid lethal force, many police forces are using Tasers as a routine force option," said Curt Goering, senior deputy executive director of Amnesty International. "The way these weapons are being used in some circumstances could constitute torture or ill treatment."

But of course, in our zero tolerance society, I guess unruly children should just be grateful they weren't machine-gunned.
00:32 GMT

Saturday, 27 November 2004

Too fat and happy to blog

I'm still stuffed and lazy, so go read ScaramoucheBlog for things like Robert Byrd's Thanksgiving remarks, and save this stuffed camel recipe for next year.

And check out this Oliphant cartoon.
23:30 GMT

Before you shop

I know some people are advocating a "don't shop" policy for the post Thanksgiving season. While a consumer strike sounds on the surface like an interesting idea, it really isn't doable. But there are still ways to make your money work for your ideals.

Frequent Eschaton commenter Thumb is among the latest group sitting in for Atrios this time, and has a good post up to help guide you through this shopping season. The bottom line is that you should find creative ways to put your money back into the community. How? Well, avoiding chain stores is a start. Avoiding small businesses, however, is unhelpful:

Boycotting all businesses is counter intuitive - though I still won't patronize any business with a NFIB [National Federation of Independent Businesses] sign because of their campaign tactics against Paul Wellstone. Spend only what you can afford but be creative and useful with those gift ideas. And please focus on non-chain stores. Independent retail stores are considerably more likely to be getting their inventory from domestic sources than the big box retailers. And it doesn't even have to be a product to be a gift. We get my honey's parents prepaid lawn care. We've given out certificates for favorite local restaurants and small bookstores. Give someone golf or yoga lessons, maybe a certificate for a massage (I can guarantee you those will be micro-business people).
Another virtue of this method: Thumb says, "Ironically most of all the business owners I deal with (the exceptions seem to be those who inherited their families business - go figure) are Democratic supporters." So there you go.
12:45 GMT

In the mix

It's Really not an attempt to incite religious hatred... - and Roz explains it all to Gilbert Keith Chesterton and Clive Staples Lewis.

I hadn't realized that there's an entire site dedicated to our least favorite member of Congress: The Daily DeLay. Via Josh Marshall.

Amanda knows she's straight, but that's not what it's all about.

Supreme Crackpot strikes again: Speaking at a conference on religious freedom in America on Monday hosted by Manhattan's Congregation Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in North America, Scalia said that the founding fathers never advocated the separation of church and state and that America has prospered because of its religiousness. (Via Buzzflash)

$700,000. That's how much of the $1.2 million the Bush administration is giving to groups that promote abstinence-only programs is going to The Silver Ring Thing.
11:41 GMT

Happy Thanksgiving

No, I'm not late. I know it was Thursday, but over here it was just an ordinary workday so we're having Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday with a few of our Chosen Family members.

Something I'm particularly grateful for at the moment is my shiny new webhost. You've noticed the page loads much faster? I sure have.

A few people seem to want a more thorough explanation of what happened last week, so here it is: I exceeded a bandwidth cap that, as far as I can tell, did not exist when I signed up for the account (which wasn't all that long ago). Since I don't know when the cap was initiated, I don't know when I started exceeding it, but I was well above the stated limit for a couple of months, and then suddenly they took the site down without warning, saying it was an automatic process. I asked why they hadn't said anything sooner and they said it was a semi-automatic process. They restored the site and told me not to do it again. I asked if they would give me a bit of grace while I set up the new site, and they said they couldn't because it's an automatic process. I asked them exactly when the cap was put on and, with the kind of precision that tells you they were trying to sneak it past us, they said: "The cap has been there for a while we have just however put in place automated systems to police it more efficiently." Ha ha ha. This annoyed our Alpha Geek so much that he instantly did the research on a better webhost. A much better webhost. And my shiny new domain name. And now I'm all happy again.

Meanwhile, Mark Evanier makes me laugh. I agree completely about the one true cranberry sauce.
02:32 GMT

Sight & Sound

Promoting her new book, The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media that Love Them, Amy Goodman appeared on Hardball and slammed the media for doing steno for the administration. Crooks and Liars has the video.

SupaDubya music video. Trust me, it's smart and right on the money.

Astronomy Quilt
01:28 GMT

Friday, 26 November 2004

Things I saw

From The Coincidence Theorist's Guide to 9/11: That FBI informant Randy Glass, working an undercover sting, was told by Pakistani intelligence operatives that the World Trade Center towers were coming down, and that his repeated warnings which continued until weeks before the attacks, including the mention of planes used as weapons, were ignored by federal authorities, is simply one of the many "What Ifs" of that tragic day. Via Dave's Wibblings.

Send a Christmas card to aliens.

A reminder from Bill Gibson: Re Creationism, I must point out an unfortunate subtext that's no longer quite so obvious. Having grown up in the previous iteration of the rural American south, I know that what *really* smarted about Darwin, down there, was the logical implication that blacks and whites are descended from a common ancestor. Butt-ugly, but there it is. That was the first objection to evolutionary theory that I ever heard, and it was a very common one, in fact the most common. That it was counter to Genesis seemed merely convenient, in the face of an anthropoid grand-uncle in the woodpile. Via As I Please.

Feeling a draft? Dare to follow a coward.
12:27 GMT

An evening in London

So there I was, finishing a good meal at my favorite restaurant, sipping my coffee, chatting about Lee Hoffman's autobiography, when a group of people walked in. And there he was, arm in arm with an attractive woman who was acting as his other guide-dog. As they walked by our table, I heard him ask her what she did. "I'm a litigator," she said. My dinner companion looked quizzically at me. "Is that...?" I nodded. "There goes the neighborhood." We paid the bill and left. It's bad enough having to run into him when I go to the Houses of Parliament for something political, but David Blunkett when you're trying to eat is just too much.

And then I get to the pub and there's this article in the Evening Standard Called "Hain the Hypocrite" (which I wanted to link but I can never find anything on their site) by Peter Tatchell, about the latest atrocity by Blunkett which is - get this - trying to outlaw any demonstrations in Parliament Square that might interrupt "the enjoyment" of the area. And this is because one guy is out there every day holding an anti-war sign.

"It's David Blunkett!" said one of our group. "Why don't they just tell him the guy is gone?"

I was almost too grumpy to laugh, having so recently had the enjoyment of my dinner interrupted.
01:25 GMT

Blog notes

At Bad Attitudes: "We on the progressive end need to maintain our relationships with those on the libertarian end," says Chuck Dupree, going on to quote Lew Rockwell, who has been sounding of late like some sort of wild-eyed, shrill, lefty blogger. Meanwhile, Jerome Doolittle has discovered George Bush, deficit hawk, and also takes us for another trip down Memory Lane with Ollie North.

At Alternative Hippopotamus, wingers say the darnedest things: There's all this stuff about how the left hates Bush because his wife's a librarian, and hates Condi Rice, because she's African American. Yeah, that pretty much busts the left-wing viewpoint wide open. If there's one thing we hate more than minorities, it's the readers.

Which country is called the "beacon of freedom"? If it's good for them, it's good for us. Let the recounts commence. Here.
00:17 GMT

Thursday, 25 November 2004


Dave at Seeing the Forest explains the real story: Summary - the teacher was forcing his students to listen to and read "Christian Nation" propaganda. The school asked him to stop. The teacher is suing the school with the help of a right-wing "Christian Law" organization, the Alliance Defense Fund. But because the material contained quotes from American historical documents, the headline is "Declaration of Independence Banned at Calif School." Give me a break.

'Lowdown tricks' sap poll-watcher's faith in fair U.S. voting: But when Tina returned in 2000 to live in America, she was concerned about allegations of election tampering. A patriotic American, Tina had trouble believing widespread voter fraud could occur in this country. But after acting as a nonpartisan observer Nov. 2 this time around at a precinct in Florida, she says she's lost faith in the system. In nine hours Tina says she saw "lowdown tricks" that have made her feel "disgusted, angry -- and yes, energized." That's why she wants her story told. Via Cursor's Derelection 2004 page.

I do not believe for one minute that The Washington Post would have accepted an advertorial insert, even if it were entirely truthful and honest, that represented the opposing view to this piece of crap. Via Atrios.
15:25 GMT

Food for thought

I was just thinking, isn't this about the time John Kerry should be making a statement saying how thrilled he is to hear Republicans like Powell and Lugar decrying election fraud? I mean, with a really wry grin....

It's not bad enough that we're still hearing that the people who control all branches of government and the media are still pretending to be rebelling against the establishment, but now Bush is being compared with the insurgents - by one of his supporters. Think about that for a minute.

It's not about "gay marriage." It's not just about abortion, either. It's much, much worse.

So, if everybody was sneaking out to support Bush in a resurgence of religious self-righteousness, how come Cincinnati repealed it's anti-gay rights amendment?

Paul Krugman says it's When, Not If, and Molly Ivins says Save room for when things get worse. (Both via drbeeper).
02:48 GMT

Wednesday, 24 November 2004

Close to home

Does anyone know if someone sells decals for keyboards? Several of the letters on my laptop keyboard have already completely disappeared, and most of the others are getting hard to read. Jeez, the thing isn't even a year old.

I was just looking around in my archives and found this old post quoting Marc Crispin Miller and Pamela Troy about the right's attitude toward the left, and thought if you're new here that stuff might interest you.

And while I was looking in my archives, I found a post I was looking for from earlier this year where I came up with a word, but I think I should have called them Thanatics.
23:57 GMT

In the mix

Melanie at Just a Bump in the Beltway quotes from a subscription-only article (Via Philocrites) from The New Republic by Leon Wieseltier, The Elect: God's Second Term: I will not be God-whipped. For a start, it is not at all clear that the "values" analysis of George W. Bush's reelection is correct . . . Moreover, the "faith" that is being praised as the road to political salvation, the Bush ideal of religion, is a zealous ignorance, a complacent renunciation of proof and evidence and logic and argument, as if the techniques of reason were merely liberal tools. . . .

At The Left Coaster, "pessimist" presents A Tale of Three Christians - and what appears to be an argument between sects over whether those with the RFID tag under the skin will be the ones who go to heaven or the ones who will not be raptured. Thats...weird.

The Bullmoose, on the occasion of Dan Rather's recent announcement, observes that the right's whining about liberal bias in the media doesn't really hold water, and anyway he prefers Rather to what remains.

At TalkLeft, two death penalty cases: Frances Newton May Be Innocent and Executing Charles Walker. The latter involves a case where there's no body "or even a trace of blood indicating a crime was committed." Yet both of these people are slated to die.

Juan Cole is being SLAPPed - MEMRI is pulling a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation on him.
22:22 GMT

Our crazy quilt

Huggable bugs:
Giant Microbes

Jim Henley discovers botanical colonialism: I'd be fascinated to see any refutation of the factual claims Michael Ewens and Arthur Silber have found about draconian IP laws imposed on Iraqi farmers, who, on plausible readings of the source documents, "will be forced to use plant seeds from specific US companies, effectively banning the farmers from using their own seeds."

Greg Palast notes that Richard Lugar has condemned the election flaws in Ukraine, and wants to get hold of Lugar to get his comments on another election: This reporter was unable to reach Senator Lugar regarding the inconsistency of official election results and exit polls in the USA; the intimidation of minority voters in Florida and Ohio; nor the failure to count two million ballots cast, half by African-American voters, in America's first post-democratic election held earlier this month. Palast is also working on a study of the 2004 election and is asking for donations to fund the work.

David at The Art of Peace is back from hiatus and thinking about the next election.

Susan at An Age Like This says they just don't care - Rumsfield can't even be bothered to sign the letters to the families of our dead soldiers.

David Neiwert is away for Thanksgiving but the links for the series on The Rise of Pseudo Fascism are up, now.
20:03 GMT

What you'd Rather have

Judging by Memeorandum (here[*] and here[*] and here[*], not to mention here and here[*]), the most important story in Blogistan is the announcement that in March, Dan Rather will be stepping down from his job as managing editor and anchor of the CBS Evening News.

The spin on this is that Rather made a Significant Error in a news report and then failed to do damage control come clean fast enough, so he should lose his high-profile gig. In real terms, newspeople don't usually lose their jobs over making one error of detail in an otherwise accurate story, even if they are a bit slow to determine and admit that they got something wrong. The fact is that if the detail of the Killian memo had not been added in the first place, the story would have been only that George Bush's military records don't back up his claim to have honorably fulfilled his National Guard duty.

The right-wingers are claiming victory - victory for right-wing blogs, victory for what they believe is an intelligent criticism of someone they regard as a biased, liberal newsman, and victory for what they think is the truth. Of course, it's nothing of the kind. They've been trashing Rather for years because he isn't enough of a right-wing partisan for them, and they absolutely hated him for not being as enthusiastic about the Monica Lewinsky story as the rest of the media was.

This is a guy who has been doing this job for 24 years and in all that time has made few serious errors of this type, and the right-wing has hyped them up as if they were bigger than, say promoting the fake Whitewater story that turned a non-story into a $70m investigation of a president leading to impeachment, or the phony "evidence" for invading Iraq. We don't hear journalists being hammered for getting those stories wrong, even though they were considerably more serious errors in news judgment. When the likes of Gerth and Miller and Safire (and the entirety of the FOX news team) get the same treatment Rather got, then we can take these criticisms seriously.

I agree with Jeralyn (of course) that this one error is not enough to justify toppling Rather's career. Skippy says: love him or hate him, dan rather was one of the last remaining anchors to (a) put his own life on the line (see his trip to afghanistan) and (b) actually be a journalist.

But yes, this is a victory for the right-wing noise machine that never shuts up about getting rid of newspeople they don't like. This isn't the only one they've managed to get rid of, just the biggest fish. Liberals have managed to raise questions about the reputations of a couple of (highly-repellant) small-fry to the extent that even their bosses got sick of them, but the fact is that we just don't make enough phone calls and fire off enough letters to have the same effect.

Meanwhile, Rather will remain at CBS, but not in Cronkite's chair.
16:12 GMT

Debunking debunkers

Throughout the controversy over the election, what we've seen is a series of documented facts showing anomalous outcomes and numerous discrepancies countered by theorizing about how these (thousands of) problems could have come about without any fiddling of the voting returns. These range from the mysterious invisible Republican turnout late in the day on 2 November to the usual racist claims that people in black (Democratic-leaning) districts were just too stupid to figure out how to fill out a ballot.

A popular theory about the Florida election is that oddities in the state's crossover vote (extraordinarily high percentages of Democrats voting Republican) were explained by the presence of large numbers of Dixiecrats - people who are registered as Democrats (because they wouldn't be members of the Party of Lincoln) who now vote Republican because that party currently is closer to their (racist) "values". I assume you have to be pretty oblivious to 30 years of political change in America to accept this theory, but it has actually been dragged out to explain the alleged heavy crossover for Bush in Florida. (People who do this point to the FL panhandle, but they seem to be assuming that the panhandle is where all the anomalies occurred, and they're wrong.)

Hilariously, the foundation of that claim for this election is that we saw the emergence of a similar pattern in the 2000 election.

This paper (.pdf) analyzes the data from the election and makes short work of most of the rationalizations, including this one:

In fact, there are a number of reasons to suspect that the "Dixiecrat hypothesis" does not explain Florida voting patterns in the 2000 election. The first is that, nationally, the transition in party identification began 20 years ago and has essentially run its course. There are no more than a handful of Democratic state senators and representatives from Republican north Florida. Perhaps voters have retained registrations to a party for which they do not vote at either the local or the national level, but in terms of voting behavior, there's little reason to believe that there is unusual crossover.
So another problem with this theory is that this level of dramatic inconsistency actually seems to have begun to intensify in 2000 and continue to do so this year, rather than fading as it has everywhere else. The Republicans must be in serious denial if they are having to treat the Dixiecrat phenomenon as a new, rather than historical, pattern.

At any rate, the GAO has announced they will be investigating the election, although none of this is likely to come to fruition before the results are certified and beyond our reach. But if enough attention is paid to this issue, we can hope enough noise will be made that something can be done before the next election.
13:38 GMT

And there's still Iraq....

Julie Saltman gives us a pointer:Kevin Sites, the photojournalist who filmed the Marine shooting the unarmed, wounded insurgent, has a blog. He describes the incident and his reasons for releasing his footage to the press in a very moving Open Letter to the Devil Dogs of the 3.1.

Mary Kay reads about, and falls in love with, a marine base commander who truly does Get It, and stands in stark contrast to the people who are running the show.

Jeanne D'Arc still has the capacity to be shocked at the horror we have created in Iraq. Even Saddam did better than this. Did we go there to prove to the world that we weren't even as good as a tin-pot dictator? Well, we did that. Jeanne says: I was horribly nanve. I thought they were con artists, not thugs. Alas, they are both.

And Juan Cole says US Hated From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli. No surprise, is it?
02:05 GMT

Immoral media

Media Matters has two recent examples of the genteel and compassionate voices of our ruling party's supporters:

Falwell called NOW "the National Order of Witches". He also said, Up until this generation with the influence of the American Civil Liberties Union and anti-Christ groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State -- [...] It is true. I know those guys and the fact is they're so anti-religious, anti-Christian that they have tried to secularize the country.

G. Gordon Liddy: listening to Hitler "made me feel a strength inside I had never known before". He says some other crackpot things, too.
00:30 GMT

Tuesday, 23 November 2004


Akureyri, Iceland

Patrick linked World City Photo Archive and I've just spent a lot of time there at the Iceland and Afghanistan pages. I was particularly taken with these pictures of Reykjavik and Isafjordur. And there was something I hadn't realized about Kabul.
21:20 GMT

On the blog

The Republicans, despite controlling virtually everything now, are still pretending to be victims of liberal dominance. But Mel Gilles knows what victims really sound like. Via The Funny Farm.

We haven't seen a lot of good ranting from Granny in a while, but she seems to be back, with The **NEW** Bush Agenda.

What message did the rest of the world take from the result of our recent election? American Fails visits our ghosts.

Jack Heneghan doesn't seem to have gotten the idea of permalinks together yet, but have a look at his recent posts at Exempli Gratia.

Scorpio is wondering how far they'll go. Five years ago none of this would have seemed merely silly. Now it just seems like the logical next step.

Aspasia has some good advice, but I reckon it's getting a bit late.

There are a couple of neat photos in this post at This Space for Rent.
18:55 GMT

The scoop

Courtesy of Media Matters for America, we learn that not only has the media ignored the story of the Berkeley study on Bush's mysterious extra votes in precincts using electronic machines, but they've ignored the debunking of the debunkers:

A November 19 Associated Press article on academia's "fixation" on Senator John Kerry mentioned how the Berkeley study has increased "Internet buzz" about the possibility of flawed election returns. The article questioned the study's findings by quoting its critics who "say Bush's success may simply be due to a better get-out-the-vote effort, or fears of terrorism driving many Democrats to choose Bush over party loyalty" and listing possibly influential factors that were not included in the study such as "the number of campaign visits that the Bush campaign made to a county, or the number of residents who consider themselves evangelical Christians." The AP article was picked up by The Miami Herald (November 20), The Indianapolis Star (November 20), the Los Angeles Times (November 19), and The Boston Globe (November 19), among others.
So the Associated Press believes the conspiracy theory of the mysterious stealth GOTV effort by Bush supporters that magically transformed Kerry's lead to a loss at the last minute. OK.
A November 19 article in the Oakland Tribune on the Berkeley study noted that a Massachusetts Institute of Technology political scientist was asked by the Tribune and the Associated Press to replicate the analysis of the study. He succeeded in doing so, and said that an investigation into the discrepancy was "warranted."
The technology news website CNET published a November 19 article on the study, which also appeared on The New York Times website. The report quotes a Princeton University professor of microbiology who conducted an independent analysis, using different methods, that produced results similar to those of the Berkeley study. The Princeton professor also lent credence to the study, saying: "Their analysis indicates that even when all these variables [within the study] are accounted for, a significant difference remains between counties that used electronic voting and counties that used optical scanning or paper ballots."
A "fixated" academia examined the study to see if the results held up and discovered the results were much the same. Looking for replicability is what good scientists do. What passes for science among Republicans - and the media - these days is to just decide they don't like the facts.

Elsewhere, Keith Olbermann reminds us:

In Ohio, the reality of the recount is beginning to sink in, and local governments aren't happy about it. The Associated Press ran a story Monday afternoon in which its reporter quoted the incoming president of the Ohio Association of Election Officials, Keith Cunningham. "The inference is that Ohio election officials will not count every vote," said the man who is currently head of the Board of Elections in Allen County (that's the Lima area, northwest of Columbus). "That's just insulting; it's frivolous and simply harassment."

Advised of the recount push by the Green and Libertarian Parties, and their plan to sue to force a second tally even before Secretary of State Blackwell is scheduled to certify the first count, Cunningham said his statewide group might sue back to prevent a recount. "I need to see if this is merely my opinion or reflects the opinion of the association."

The claim is that it's about the money, but, hey, doesn't Kerry have a few million in campaign funds he hasn't spent yet?
17:37 GMT

Places of interest

The moment we've all been waiting for: Jack Chick explains Islam.

No sooner did I link Mike's Live Journal than he decided to start a real weblog, called The Corpuscle, and with a fine post called The Error And The Pity to start things off.

Eli at Left I on the News has a reader participation post, Like Rolling Stone, asking us to contribute our own top songs of all time - top protest songs, that is.

The Left Coaster has the perfect picture from the big shindig at the Clinton Library (add your caption). And the actual Clinton Presidential Center page has the video with the whole gang.

Have a look at this series of spectacular sunset photos from Dangerous Meta. Much thanks to NewMexiKen (of NewMexiKen) for the heads-up.
05:56 GMT

Welcome to....

Yeah, I've set up the redirect, now, so you should all be changing your links and favorites if you haven't already. And here we are.

So, I am deeply annoyed to learn that CBS says DeLay may be off the hook. Gee, and after they went to all that trouble to re-write the rules for him, too. Josh Marshall says someone-or-other seems to think DeLay managed to arrange deniability, but Josh reckons if that were so, why the rule-rule change in the first place?

It's a different Skippy than our own One True Skippy, but this guy, who actually uses capital letters, was once in the Army and compiled a list of 213 Things Skippy is no longer able to do in the Army.

I see the complete raving loony perverts are out in full force again, testifying in the Senate that Internet pornography is the new crack cocaine.

The NYT Business section has an article about file-sharing that mostly says the amount of revenue lost by the recording industry to free downloads is slight, but they appear to have fallen for the idea that fewer items shipping is the same thing as fewer items sold. The article also seems to underestimate - or, rather, not notice the existence of - the promotional value of free downloads. So this is another behind-the-curve item, but at least they're working their way up to the idea that maybe file-sharing isn't costing the industry all that much money after all.
02:49 GMT

Monday, 22 November 2004

Eyeball news

Okay, I haven't set up a re-direct for The Sideshow yet, but I will as soon as I've properly wrapped my mind around the idea. The whole site is mostly duplicated at its new home now but archives aren't deleted, so your old permalinks to individual posts will still be good.

So do me a favor and change your blogroll links and your favorites ASAP to:

And then you can watch some movies:

Fiore: The Depressed Democrat's Guide to Recovery (Via An Age Like This)

Video: George W. Bush: MISTAKEN
23:00 GMT

Propagate this link!

I'm now (The www. prefix will work too, but why bother?)
17:56 GMT

Fact vs. Fantasy in the election

We have two strains of thought: One is that every single indicator of who would win and was winning the presidential election was wrong because of a stealth campaign by Bush that was largely invisible and occurred almost entirely below the radar, to the extent that nothing was indicating a Bush win (except for some cooked polls that have been picked apart to the point of destruction). The other is that the vote itself was cooked.

The first strain is clearly conspiracy theory: that the Republicans somehow, deliberately, managed to hide their campaign and their support completely from experienced watchers who were looking for them, yet somehow their supporters showed up to overwhelm Kerry supporters at the last minute, and nobody saw them.

The facts clearly support the second strain of thought - that the vote was cooked - but the media has chosen to believe that despite any evidence on the ground, a lot of mysterious Bush voters happened to be there when no one was looking. And lied to the exit polls. And did this only in places that were using electronic voting machines owned by a highly-partisan Bush-supporter who had publicly vowed to do whatever he could to bring home the election for Bush.

To believe the "Bush won" conspiracy theory, you have to believe that not only Zogby was wrong, but that both Democrats and Republicans completely altered their behavior and switched their voting patterns, and that Republicans did this in such a way that nobody noticed it even while it was happening.

Democrats vote late in the day. It's always been true, and everyone knows it. When exit polls early in the day say the Democrat is winning by a wide margin, you can take it to the bank that it's not going to get any better for the Republican as people start coming home from work. And that's exactly how it looked on the ground on election day - there was no late surge of Republicans to outnumber the Democrats. And yet, at the last minute, somehow, the polls suddenly started showing Bush coming even and then breaking ahead at a time when there was no sign of these Bush voters suddenly showing up at the polls. How did that happen?

Some folks at Berkeley have done a statistical analysis for us, with all sorts of charts and tables and graphs with color lines and everything, The Effect of Electronic Voting Machines on Change in Support for Bush in the 2004 Florida Elections. That's a .pdf (via Bartcop), but here's the finding for those who don't want to be bothered:

Electronic voting raised President Bush's advantage from the tiny edge he held in 2000 to a clearer margin of victory in 2004. The impact of e-voting was not uniform, however. Its impact was proportional to the Democratic support in the county, i.e., it was especially large in Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade. The evidence for this is the statistical significance of terms in our model that gauge the average impact of e-voting across Florida's 67 counties and statistical interaction effects that gauge its larger-than-average effect in counties where Vice President Gore did the best in 2000 and slightly negative effect in the counties where Mr. Bush did the best in 2000. The state-wide impact of these disparities due to electronic voting amount to 130,000 votes if we assume a "ghost vote" mechanism and twice that - 260,000 votes - if we assume that a vote misattributed to one candidate should have been counted for the other.
Well, now, that's mighty suspicious, isn't it? The suggestion of the machines flipping Kerry votes for Bush is about as subtle as a brick, here, folks.

Need more? How about Was it hacked? in The Orlando Weekly:

How do we know the fix was in? Keefer says the total number of respondents at 9 p.m. was well over 13,000 and at 1:36 a.m. it had risen less than 3 percent - to 13,531 total respondents. Given the small increase in respondents, this 5 percent swing to Bush is mathematically impossible. In Florida, at 8:40 p.m., exit polls showed a near dead heat but the final exit poll update at 1:01 a.m. gave Bush a 4 percent lead. This swing was mathematically impossible, because there were only 16 more respondents in the final tally than in the earlier one.
No, really, you think it was a fair election? Just how big a brick do you need to get hit in the head with?

The New York Times needs a brick the size of Ohio, apparently, and even that may not work. You have to work to ferret out the facts in Matt Bai's Who Lost Ohio? because Bai apparently believes it's good enough to say that, well, since Kerry lost, the Republicans must have done a better job than anyone noticed at the time. But here we have people actually going out and looking at the supposedly conservative boondocks counties that made an 11th-hour swing for Bush, right at the moment they are supposedly making the swing, and there's no one there - except a few straggling Kerry voters. It's not just that no one saw the Bush campaign, but there weren't many signs of Bush voters at the polls at the time when this surge of same was supposed to be suddenly swamping what had until then been a commanding Kerry lead.

No, I'm sorry. All of the facts say that people voted for Kerry. Only the machines disagree. The only real question at this point is why Keith Olbermann seems to be the only person in Big Media who thinks that theories about the magical/invisible Bush surge aren't good enough to counteract the facts.
15:18 GMT

Saturday, 20 November 2004

News of the moment

A Sideshow domain name has been registered but isn't activated yet. Once it is, I'll expect you all to change your links right away!

Meanwhile, I am posting at Avedon's other weblog (site feed), which you should check out, because interesting and important stories haven't disappeared.
15:17 GMT

Friday, 19 November 2004

Vast apologies

I've spent a lot of time lately trying to communicate with my ISP and find out what went wrong. As you no doubt noticed, my site disappeared yesterday around lunchtime and told visitors that the site had been removed due to excessive bandwidth usage. They also sent me an abuse notice saying this excess had happened "within the last 24 hours."

This made no sense, since usage had been considerably more in the period leading up to the election, peaking on November 2nd and 3rd and then dropping to much lower levels than it had been at in more than a month. A query in response generated nothing more than an auto-response noting my response and saying they'd get around to me...eventually. The phrase "two weeks" was rather alarming.

So I found some other ways to hector them until they finally sent me mail explaining that I had been consistently exceeding bandwidth all month and giving me some precise figures for a change. And, sure enough, I had been. In fact, I'd been exceeding the limit for two months. They also said they were restoring the site but I'd better either upgrade or don't do it again!

So I politely wrote back and said thanks for the explanation and why didn't you tell me this two months ago instead of cutting me off with no warning? And also asking what upgrade options I have (and hinting that comparison-shopping might also be in the cards). Which is where we are now with them.

In the meantime, it's obvious I need to arrange a domain name of The Sideshow's very own so that I can (a) automatically redirect to Avedon's other weblog in emergencies and (b) give y'all time to change your links so that if I do migrate elsewhere (which is already being looked into, of course), the transition will be less painful.

If you didn't remember about the emergency weblog on Blogspot, you can go there now.
16:24 GMT

Wednesday, 17 November 2004

Under a cloud

Back in the day, the Republicans passed a rule that said you had to give up a leadership position in the House if you were under indictment. Of course, that was when the guy under indictment was a Democrat. Now it's Tom DeLay, though, and they want to change the rules to protect him. "What a difference DeLay makes!" says Lambert at Corente, who observes that "now the jackboot's on the other foot, isn't it?

Heather went down pretty much the same thought pathway I did while listening to Mark and Marc talking about Wal-Mart on Morning Sedition: That the existence of those big stores that supposedly offer you more choice at lower prices is actually reducing our choice and not necessarily delivering lower prices. They're big and powerful and can undercut your local businesses, but once they've driven out the competition, they don't really have to worry about that anymore. When they've finally eliminated all your local shops, what choice will you have then?

Up in Scotland, Ken McLeod is still mourning America: It's been like a death in the family. Not of someone close, but of someone you didn't expect to miss so much until after they were gone. You wish you'd made more of an effort. You find yourself thinking of other things, and then feeling an unaccountable sadness seep into your day, and then remembering why. Or you keep coming back to it, looking again at the old photos, at the once insignificant postcards. I mean all that; that's been, to my surprise, exactly how I felt. The death is of an idea of America and the mementos are the blogs of my friends. Ken has some recommendations for how we can try to come back to life. God knows they are better than the ones the Democratic leadership has come up with.
16:09 GMT

Stuff from around

Inspired by Marty (of BartcopE!), your Thought for the day: Allowing a foreigner from Austria to become your head of state was a bad idea in 1933 and I don't see why it would work any better now.

With everything else that was going on, I almost didn't notice this, but Cynthia McKinney won. You can see her victory party in Windows MediaPlayer at her site.

Via TwoGlasses, Michelle Goldberg on blue state federalism at Salon: What we're seeing, [Cannavo] says, is the growth of blue-state nationalism, a new sort of identity politics forced into life in reaction to the relentless insults of red America. For years now, conservatives have excoriated liberals in almost exactly the same way that previous right-wing movements demonized Jews -- as unwholesomely cosmopolitan, traitorous, decadent, inclined to both socialism and economic elitism. Right-wing authors like Michael Savage, Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter routinely try to write their opponents out of the nation.

Jerome Doolittle: Any citizens simple enough believe that Bush is looking out for their old age with his schemes to privatize social security should study very carefully the story of what happened when the courts handed a huge Teamsters Union pension fund over to Wall Street 20 years ago. Read it all, but the nutshell version is that Jimmy Hoffa and the mob did a far better job than Wall Street at managing the money of half a million truck drivers.

Did lawyer-observers on Election Day miss fraud incidents? My client conceded the race on the belief that the results were clear. The results are anything but clear, however, and American democratic legitimacy requires an honest reappraisal of the events in Florida and around the country.

Is the country swinging left? This guy thinks so: Just as George W. is cackling over his new mandate, Colorado -- The Bellwether State -- has changed direction. Start with the Salazar brothers, newly elected to the House and Senate. Look at the legislature, now controlled by the Dems for the first time in 40 years. Look at the newly enacted tobacco tax, at Fastracks in Denver, and at the passage of Amendment 37 that mandates renewable energy. And look at Michael Merrifield, overwhelmingly re-elected to a second term.

Someone explain to me how this could be: The bill would also permit people to use technology to skip objectionable content -- like a gory or sexually explicit scene -- in films, a right that consumers already have. However, under the proposed law, skipping any commercials or promotional announcements would be prohibited. The proposed law also includes language from the Pirate Act (S2237), which would permit the Justice Department to file civil lawsuits against alleged copyright infringers.

Kinky Friedman is running for Governor of Texas.
11:43 GMT


In honor of William Safire's announced impending retirement, Media Matters has compiled a list of some of his greatest hits, including his various false claims about WMD being found in Iraq, Al Qaeda links to Saddam etc. And ending with this:

In a March 14, 2000, article at, Conason recounted the numerous false accusations Safire leveled against the Clintons, including Safire's January 1996 headline-making column that called Hillary Clinton a "congenital liar:"
Again and again over the past several years, Safire has charged the Clintons and their associates with such offenses as fraud, conspiracy, perjury, witness tampering and obstruction of justice. Using the jargon of Watergate to emphasize their culpability, he has written about the so-called Clinton scandals as if even the most minimal professional scruples and cautions did not apply to him -- let alone the standards of fairness that are held sacred at the newspaper of record and in all reputable news organizations. ... But a newspaper as uniquely powerful as the New York Times carries unique responsibilities. When one of its most prominent writers recklessly damages the reputations of people who turn out to be innocent of the offenses he has alleged, a reckoning is in order.
No reckoning, of course, has ever come, nor any attempt anywhere at the Times to set the record straight. By contrast, we have a White House that is manifestly guilty of outrageous, deliberate falsehoods, and the NYT still won't let Krugman call Bush a liar.
02:39 GMT

Bloggy bits

Oh, gosh, I seem to have forgotten The Sideshow's third birthday on the 14th. Oh, well....

Charles Dodgson says a flight attendant got fired for posting these photos on her weblog. Don't worry, they are disturbingly work-safe. The bastards. (Charles also notes that TNH has solved the globalization problem.)

It's already time to start thinking about the annual Koufax Awards, but this year the folks at Wampum are asking for a little help because they need to do a temporary upgrade in order to speed up the bandwidth for this popular feature. (I'm waiting for them to introduce a "Best Pink" category.) Meanwhile, Dwight Meredith looks at the real problem with frivolous lawsuits, and the real way to fix it, too.

Tim Porter has a conference report: Ultimately, says Rosen, journalists need to answer the question: "How can you be useful again?"
01:30 GMT

Tuesday, 16 November 2004

The landscape

Here and here and here, Sisyphus Shrugged is on the trail of Republicans, some of whom are having trouble agreeing with each other. I'm not sure who Timothy M. Gay is, but he wrote one of the articles Julia linked, which says: There are a lot of Republicans troubled by their party's exploitation of contemporary know-nothingism. You know who you are. And before your party's degeneracy is complete, you ought to do something about it. Because camouflaging the fear and loathing of gay people as "moral values" isn't the base alloy of hypocrisy. It's hypocrisy itself.

In Tapped, Matthew Yglesias explains that there's more to opposing Bush's judicial choices than just abortion (though abortion is a very good indicator of how judges will approach all those other things), and Nick Confessore talks about how Harry Reid will have to represent the 50.8% of us who voted for Democratic Senators.

So, what does our friendly local expert have to say? The Problem with Electronic Voting Machines at Schneier on Security. As Bruce points out, they're not the only problem, but right now they are a serious one.
22:02 GMT

Working as designed?

Eric Olsen (no, not Erik Olsen!) has a review at Blogcritics of Morris Fiorina's Culture War? that says the kind of thing that baffles me completely:

I voted for Bush but I am a social liberal, an economic and environmental moderate, and a strong believer in the separation of church and state.
In my case, I just thought it best to return Bush to office to (attempt to) finish what he began regarding the war on terror.
The question I'm struggling with right now is just what it is he started. Is what's going on in Iraq a feature or a bug?

It seems obvious to me that if the Bush administration had been interested in preventing the proliferation of weapons from Iraq to terrorists, they would have made safeguarding weapons caches a priority - but they didn't; they ignored them.

So what were they doing? One theory is that the neocons simply wanted a country where they could carry out their economic experiments without interference from local governments, and Iraq fit the bill. Others say they just wanted to plunder Iraq's resources and getting rid of its government first was necessary.

Another theory is that chaos in the middle-east serves the purposes of corporate war profiteers and political hawks who know that hawkishness is an easy way to keep power as long as there is actually a war in progress somewhere. There are other variations on this theory that chaos was the desired effect, all citing different purposes.

But none of them includes a desire to end terrorism, and the reason for this is that it is difficult to believe that anyone could have been stupid enough to make this many mistakes in pursuit of that goal. I'm not sure that's true - after all, Alan Greenspan admitted he was genuinely surprised that the former USSR didn't become an instant flowering democracy as soon as the communist government broke up. The rise of the KGB into a mafia simply hadn't been anticipated at all. By him - but people who understand how money and power work, who realize what the Constitution is for, should have expected this all along. These aren't people who have a firm grasp of the obvious.

It's still a frustration when libertarians defend Bush's policies. It's not a question of whether repressive policies will be implemented, because many have already been implemented. The Patriot Act has already passed. It is already being used to harass and intimidate people who have the wrong religion or even the wrong political opinions. The separation of church and states is crumbling now, not tomorrow. They are breaking our military and pursuing polices that seem guaranteed to force us into a draft. And, while I believe there might have been ways to turn Iraq into a flowering democracy even though the invasion was a terrible idea in the first place, the administration has attempted none of those (tried and true) methods of turning dictatorship into democracy, instead opting for methods long known to do quite the reverse.

Eric Olsen isn't someone who is stupid or oblivious. And while there are some people who you know are never going to vote Democratic, he isn't one of them. And though the current manipulation of the media is designed to mislead Americans into trusting the maniacs who are running things, it's not clear why it is working on someone like Eric. How do we beat that?
16:13 GMT

If it ain't on TV, it ain't goin' on

Last night, Hecate was sitting in for Atrios at Eschaton and she said a few words:

Of course, Kerry was telling the truth about the atrocities in Viet Nam. Every war has atrocities. Now, there's a new one in Iraq. But it's too icky to show on tv. Too bad. This war will end when Americans get to see every night at dinner what their sons and daughters are becoming. What the true cost is of those SUVs. If it's too icky to show, maybe it's too icky for us to be doing it?
And, sadly, someone called Tow said this in the comments:
Are the troops fighting in these really nasty battles (ok, they're all bad, but Fallujah is bad to the 10th power sounding) EVER going to come home? I would think a few of these guys speaking up might get some people's attention. Iraqi Veterans Against the War. Or something.
Sadly, because the equivalent of the VVAW already exists: Iraq Veterans Against the War. (And I see that Mother Jones has a story on them, Breaking Ranks, in the new issue.) Additionally, Veterans Against The Iraq War seems to be a more general vets' group. And while Operation Truth isn't specifically an anti-war group, they're not a "support our troops by agreeing with everything the administration does" group, either.

I can't tell from here how much time the media is giving this story:

Three years after he was honorably discharged from the Army, Frederick Pistorius was surprised to learn he was a deserter.

But there it was, on his doorstep: a letter from Barry W. Kimmons, Deputy Chief, Deserter Information Point Extension Office of the Army Reserve Personnel Command.

"On 12 July 2004 you were involuntarily mobilized to active duty in the United States Army," the letter says. "To date you have not reported to your mobilization station as required by your orders." Possibly Pistorius had not responded for two reasons. The Pistorius family had moved from the address in Sharon, Pa., to which the Army had sent its first letter. More saliently, having served honorably in not one but two branches of the U.S. military, with no additional obligation showing on his discharge papers, Pistorius would have had no reason to think he was subject to anything but his civilian job at a local steel plant.
"They basically told me that my Marine Corps time doesn't count as military service," Pistorius said.

(Via The Left Coaster.)

It sounds like people who get their news from television aren't going to know these things until the people who actually run the mainstream media finally decide they have had enough - if that ever happens.
13:38 GMT

Evidence room

Bearing in mind that "evidence" in this case is not proof of voting fraud, but is certainly proof that a closer look should be taken at the reliability of US elections, let's consider this comment (one among many interesting comments) to a post over at Political Animal:

While there is a serious problem with the disparity of voting technologies (a fact that by international definition automatically disqualifies U.S. elections from certification), this alone cannot explain the disparity in exit polls.

Consider that in 2000 the exit polls were off by a wide margin in ONE state. That disparity was later explained primarily by a large number of spoiled ballots that had been intended for Gore, mostly in Duval (the largest chunck) and Palm Beach. The exit poll was not wrong ... the vote counting was. Again, not alleging conspiracy, simply pointing to the fact that 10s of thousands of Florida voters intended to cast votes for Gore and did not.

The spoilage rate in parts of Duval exceeded 50%. This is far above the expected spoilage rate of even the worst vote-counting devices (the vote-a-matics), which is about 3%. Whatever happened, it wasn't due to normal voting technology errors.

Now, in 2004, we have a similar exit poll discrepancy but it is present in at least 9 states (probably more ... similar errors were exhibited in many non-battleground states).

This is, statistically, extremely suspicious. You just don't have large discrepancies across many states all in one direction. Such a massive discrepancy is not likely to be due to a cumulative sum of small errors, but (as in Florida 2000) due to a very small number of big errors.

So, what is common to all the states where the polls were far off? First, is the exit poll methodology, which is why that should be examined. 2004 exit polls used updated methodology, and it could be that the updates distorted the numbers. However, the problem is not obvious. Why was, for example, Wisconsin NOT distorted? Why were the distortions predominantly in the presidential race and not other ballot contests? It is not enough to simply say "the exit polls were wrong", one must investigate and determine why they were wrong.

If not the exit polling methodology, then the errors are due to something else.

We should find out what that "something else" is, and then fix it.
12:26 GMT

Por Vida

My friend Pete Hisey says: I am begging EVERYONE TO BUY THIS CD. Not only is it great music, $3 goes to Alejandro for a liver transplant.

(Pete is also very excited about this little scandal involving Senator Man-on-Dog.)
04:49 GMT


There's a lot out right now about the "war" between the White House and the CIA. I hate to defend the CIA, but at least some of them tried to do their job and if "the intelligence" was faulty, it's the intelligence at the top we should be pointing to. Putting Porter Goss in charge is just adding injury to insult. Charles Pierce in his most recent letter to Altercation (scroll down or search on "Pierce") is also leaping to the agency's defense:

"The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president's agenda."

And there it is. Courtesy of a former (you freaking bet!) top-level spook, as relayed by Knut Royce of The Baltimore Sun yesterday, the single dumbest notion yet to leak out from under the Mayberry Machiavellis. I have enormous respect for the Newsday guys, and I have no illusions that this would ever happen in any major newspaper, but ought not the next piece of the story read something like this?

"Of course, as history and common sense would tell us, this perception no more conforms to reality than it would if the White House perceived the CIA to be a pod of humpback whales, an exaltation of larks, a gathering of the Inuit tribes, or an alternative rock band from Pullman, Washington. Sources have declined comment on whether or not the White House political operation has stopped its brief experiment with psilocybin mushrooms."

The reality is no joke. The CIA is on its way to becoming the enforcement arm of whatever the foreign policy fantasts next want to foist on the nation. Unless, of course, the CIA decides to fight back. There's progressive politics for you in November of 2004 -- hoping that the spooks will covertly undermine the lunacies of an elected government. Thanks again, America.

In other news:

Bill Scher saw that jerk Lieberman doing the Sunday talk shows: Yes that's right. The so-called moderates are already organizing and strategizing over how to avoid standing up to the GOP.

I can't even tell if this is parody or real news: Hostettler mounting campaign to change the name of Interstate 69.
03:33 GMT

Some stuff I saw

Diana Moon at Letter From Gotham has a long post-election post of her own and also a letter from Texas that complains about how both parties ignored Texas, despite the fact that there are signs the Dems can do a whole lot better if they really put some elbow in it. Why? Because the Dems made some ground here in Texas. Doubtless you heard about DeLay's redistricting fiasco down here, during which the Democratic legislators bolted the state - twice. A couple of districts were designed to oust prominent Democrats. Guess what? The Dem won in one of them. Dallas County (which includes Dallas proper and several suburbs) voted in a Dem as county sheriff. She's also the first woman elected to the post (we had one in the late 1920s who filled her late husband's term). She's also openly gay, which turned out to be mostly a non-issue. When you consider that Dallas is the buckle of the Bible Belt, that says something.

The GOP wants to pretend this is all there is to it: The sheer number of voters that Bush inspired to turn out demonstrated impressive strength. But on several key indicators, Bush's victory ranks among the narrowest ever for a reelected president. But Bush also inspired a larger number than any candidate to vote against him. Ronald Brownstein in the LAT on the unusual narrowness of Bush's victory.

Rorschach says Safire is going to retire next year. Can't you just see them at the NYT? "So many crackpots, so little op-ed space...." Speaking of which, it seems the Pope has been doing his bit for world peace, again.

James Carville has egg on his face - literally.

Unfortunately, I don't see a map with Beyond red and blue (again), but Robert David Sullivan has a different look at the divisions in the states and where the parties should be looking for votes: Kerry won the battle for new votes in only two regions, Upper Coasts (his home base, where he won 60.3 percent) and Great Lakes (which includes Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit, and which he won with 56.7 percent). But it's worth repeating that Kerry still beat Bush in two other regions -- and that he didn't actually lose votes in any region. Compared with 2000, Bush's win was decisive, but this map shows that the Republican Party can hardly rest easy in 2008. [Update: The map is with the earlier article.]
00:54 GMT

Monday, 15 November 2004

More witless advice for Democrats from the SCLM

The Values Gap in Time by Joe Klein provides another example of mainstream media guys who just don't get it:

But they have also been enthralled by the most intolerant of their interest groups. The liberal hostility to funding faith-based social programs-which are provided mostly by poor black and Latino congregations who need the financial help-is a witlessly secularist reaction against some of the most successful antipoverty efforts in the U.S. The liberals' defense of abortion beyond the first trimester has no moral rationale unless the life of the mother is at risk.
Catch that? Klein has no idea what the liberal position on any of these things is. But he's not saying we should articulate those positions better - he's saying we should abandon them because, well, they irritate Republicans. He seems unaware that churches didn't have to wait for "faith-based" programs to get government money to help people fight their way out of poverty, because they were already available and legal; there is no evidence that making them "faith-based" improves their impact. He also seems unaware that the government actually used to provide far more effective programs than the "faith-based" stuff, before the Republicans started dismantling them. Meanwhile, we are supposed to pretend that separation of church and state doesn't actually protect freedom of religion, just like we're apparently supposed to forget that late-term abortion is in fact performed to protect the life and health of the mother - a damned good moral reason for preserving it. That's why the Supreme Court overturned the law Congress passed banning it.

Cluelessly, Klein goes on:

Their full-throated embrace of freedom of speech ignores the social pollution caused by the arrant commercialization of the culture. If Democrats cannot concede even these points and show a real appreciation for the values of faith, they will have a hard time winning national elections anytime soon.
On the rare occasion when this plaint is actually accompanied by examples, it's usually something like "ads for Viagra on the radio," something that aggravates liberals as much as it aggravates everyone else, but then, it wasn't our idea to pretend that corporations were entitled in their advertising to the free speech rights that the Constitution grants to the press and to individuals, or us who decided it would be a great idea to allow pharmaceutical houses to advertise prescription drugs on the radio. Who's idea was that? Um....

Klein, like so many of his colleagues, knows what "liberal positions" are only through the lens of the RNC's talking points. And that's what they tell us is "the liberal media".
23:38 GMT

Hot topics

Amanda at Mousewords: I don't know what the answer is to make it so that artists can get paid for what they do. But I think it's clear that you can't undo what's done--the concept of "intellectual property" is damaged beyond repair. Instead of trying to turn back the clock, it's time to start looking for new methods to pay people for what they do.

Vaara has completed transcripts for the BBC series The Power of Nightmares, which I heartily recommend.

In The St. Petersburg Times, Robyn Blumner on Tuesday's winners: not us: Perhaps the biggest winners on Tuesday were all those people who said they voted to protect "moral values." Oh, we understand that this concern had nothing whatever to do with providing for the poor or making sure children have health insurance. And we also know that the amorality of sending young men and women to die for a war grounded in a lie is not what you meant either. (via)

Not "Was It Stolen", but "Was it Stealable" by Stirling Newberry: The question is not "was the election stolen?" but "was it secure"? In this post 911 world, we can easily make the distinction between "nothing went wrong, today" and "something could go wrong". What we will find, regardless of whether there is a way to make it add up to enough votes to swing the results, is to prove that there are pervasive irregularities in the balloting system, that these pervasive irregularities favor the Republican Party consistently, and that the "solutions" proposed often make the situation worse not better. (Via our good friend Simbaud)
19:29 GMT

A preponderance of evidence

Click for more.

NYT editorial About Those Election Results actually gets it, saying: Defenders of the system have been quick to dismiss questions like these as the work of "conspiracy theorists," but that misses the point. Until our election system is improved - with better mechanics and greater transparency - we cannot expect voters to have full confidence in the announced results. Pity it isn't a front-page series, though. Maybe someone should write to Daniel Okrent and have him explain that news decision.

Dems won 3,000,000 more Senate votes than the GOP. Too bad it doesn't show where it counts. Hm, wait a minute.... (via)

Democrats Prevail in Washington Ballot Lawsuit: A judge Friday ordered election officials in the state's largest county to turn over the names of about 900 voters whose provisional ballots are in dispute. [...] A lawsuit by Democrats had sought to block election officials in King County, home to Seattle, from discarding the disputed ballots.

Another page of links on voting problems
12:46 GMT

Third world nation

This is from Bob Somerby on election day:

KRUGMAN (11/2/04): Over the weekend, people in some [Florida] polling places had to stand in line for four, five, even six hours, often in the sun. Some of them - African-Americans in particular - surely suspected that those lines were so long because officials wanted to make it hard for them to vote.
We don't know why those lines are so long. But let us state what we've seen few Big Pundits state-it is, simply put, an astonishing scandal when people have to stand in line five hours to vote. Is Jeb Bush's Florida a banana republic? It is astounding-astonishing; intolerable; inexcusable-that the situation Krugman describes exists in this affluent nation. Is there any other part of our culture where people are asked to do this?
Yes, the Republicans wanted to make it hard for them to vote, so they created something that resembled those long bread-lines in the Soviet Union we used to hear so much about. That's just one of the things that happened this year that a responsible press in a democratic country would regard as a scandal.
00:33 GMT

Sunday, 14 November 2004

Stupid, stupid, stupid

In case you needed proof that none of today's big shots in the political world - whether they're doing the politics or just covering it for the press - have any idea what's going on, Adam Nagourney and Carl Hulse provide it in the NYT:

New Democratic Leader in Senate Is Atypical Choice
No he's not, no he's not, no he's not.
He is a teetotaling Mormon, a former Capitol Hill police officer who opposes abortion and was a cosponsor of the constitutional amendment banning flag-burning. He is a little-known senator from a red state whose considerable skills do not include being a compelling presence on television or behind a lectern.

Yet for all that, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, who is about to become the new Senate minority leader, has risen from the gray battlefield of the Democratic campaign and is about to become one of the two most powerful Democrats in Washington - at a time when his party is hungering for help.

Yes, that's just what we needed, because we hadn't already pretty much lost the farm by having a relatively conservative Senator from a red state up there doing virtually nothing to help the Democratic cause. And, of course, what being Senate minority leader did for Tom Daschle was make him into a target for the GOP, which ended up losing him his seat.

So, having sacrificed Daschle first, how do they explain making the same mistake again?

"When you look a presidential election where we lost in every age group except one, I think it time to do some reassessment - and that's one reason why I'm glad Harry is there," said Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California. "I believe very strongly that the voice of the moderates of our caucus ought to have some sway. I have noticed in the past that all the gravitas has slid to the left. All one has to do is look at the map to know that you can't win a presidential election that way."
Have I mentioned lately that we need to get rid of Feinstein?

It gets worse, as young Matt Yglesias points out, quoting the same NYT piece:

Some Democrats looking for a ray of light in the election argued that [Senator Harry] Reid's amiability might make it harder for the White House to demonize him.
Ha ha ha. Yes, of course, the Republicans are much too nice to demonize a sweet guy like Reid - they've only attacked the others because they were, you know, traitors to the country who worshiped Osama and Saddam. Gosh, it's a good thing the Democrats have seen the light and picked someone who doesn't hate America!

Like Matt says:

This "immunization fallacy" needs to be combatted in all its manifestations. People thought after the 2000 election that it wouldn't be possible to demonize Tom Daschle, the soft-spoken veteran moderate Senator from very red South Dakota, but it was.
Yes! And that was obviously because he hated America! He was such a firebrand, too - we all remember how he screamed himself hoarse for the last four years, don't we? No wonder they had to get rid of him.

But as we know, the truth is that the modern Republican Party hates America, and they will drag any Democrat into the gutter with smears and lies and hateful campaigns of viciousness and the last thing we need is yet another nice guy to lie down for them. We sure don't need Diane Feinstein cheerleading us into total capitulation. We needed a party leader who had the spark and the resources to fight back hard. And this is what they gave us. God. Damned. Fools.
23:23 GMT

Keep your eye on the ball

Mapleberry Blog's Curmudgeon has two posts up on that most important issue, starting with this letter to Terry McAuliffe & the DNC expressing chagrin that they seem to be showing no interest whatsoever in free and fair elections in the United States. And here's the other post, re-stating what should have been obvious to all and yet, strangely, has not been.

Even Keith Olbermann, the one journalist who has taken the issue at all seriously, seems to think it's only about whether Kerry won. Well, it ain't. Let me say this again:

It's not simply a question of being able to prove that this election was fixed, it's that we absolutely must be able to prove that every election is not fixed.

So go on over to Old American Century for some more links on the subject.
18:38 GMT


In our brave new world, high school kids who want to sing Dylan's "Master's of War" are expressing "an extreme leftist point of view" and must be censored, I learn from Kevin Drum. All the money you made will never buy back your soul.

Bush politicized the intelligence-gathering process, and now David Brooks is complaining that the CIA is being political when they object to this waste of their efforts. The other fabulous Michael, who we know and love from his posts at rec.arts.sf.fandom (and he's another sexy bastard, too), lines up Brooks against Seymour Hersh and thinks maybe Hersh (and the CIA) have this one right. (Did you ever think you'd be defending the CIA? Or that you'd see me doing it?) By the way, Michael is also served with, and serving, a draft notice.
13:44 GMT

Kill this meme

I keep reading various versions of the theme that Bush has to reward his Christianist supporters for their votes and will now move more forcefully to the right since they (allegedly) delivered for him this year at the polls. Take, for example, this passage from Michael Crowley in his Slate article on James Dobson: The religious right's new kingmaker:

He's already leveraging his new power. When a thank-you call came from the White House, Dobson issued the staffer a blunt warning that Bush "needs to be more aggressive" about pressing the religious right's pro-life, anti-gay rights agenda, or it would "pay a price in four years."
Pay how? Do they know something we don't know? I mean, I know this administration ignores the law at every turn, and they have a Congress that happily aids and abets, but Constitutional Amendments have to be ratified at the state level, and even Tom DeLay's power only extends so far. But everyone - and I mean everyone - seems to be talking as if it's being taken for granted that "the White House" and George Bush are planning to run for election again in another four years.

The term "President for life" is the bitter phrase we have always applied to dictators in countries where they either don't have elections at all or where the elections are known to be thoroughly corrupt (like Saddam's sort of elections). So, if it's only tin-foil hat types who are doubtful of the legitimacy of Bush's means of holding on to power, why the hell is everyone acting like he will still need those right-wing voters four years from now? Shouldn't they be referring to him as a "lame duck" instead?

Via The Left Coaster.
11:48 GMT

Saturday, 13 November 2004

More stuff to read

Arianna: As at almost every other turn, the campaign had chosen caution over boldness. Why did these highly paid professionals make such amateurish mistakes? In the end, it was the old obsession with pleasing undecided voters (who, Greenberg argued right up until the election, would break for the challenger) and an addiction to polls and focus groups, which they invariably interpreted through their Clinton-era filters. It appears that you couldn't teach these old Beltway dogs new tricks. It's time for some fresh political puppies. (via)

Michael Miller of Public Domain Progress wrote a fan letter to The Atlanta Journal and Constitution's Jay Bookman: For persistently engaging in this most basic form of patriotism, thank you. Remember to write to journalists - and their publishers or networks - to thank them when they produce good stuff. (Why do you think Keith Olbermann kept following up the election story? It's because they got an extraordinary amount of positive feedback. And why do you think news shows and papers give so much ink and time to right-wing hackery? Because the right-wingers write to them a lot. We have to balance them out.)

Bell Waring hearts libertarians - and says their destiny is the Democratic Party: Let's come together, people. You have nothing to lose but your insulting, theocratic, soi-disant Republican allies. (via)

Reality Check's The Myth of Corporate Government
17:53 GMT

After the rain

While the right-blogosphere and the monopoly media are giving us their twisted ideas of what is wrong with the Democratic Party, liberals, and the so-called liberal media, ex-Republican Paula Hay has written what may be the cleanest advice I have seen yet for Democrats for what we need to focus on to get back in shape. (And also, she supplies the term "monopoly media".)

Jonathan Last, in The Weekly Standard, insists that John Kerry was not a bad candidate: I have to assume that many of these critics never actually followed the candidate around, because close-up, Kerry was a pretty good candidate. I saw Kerry blow away crowds in New Hampshire. He gave a very good convention speech. He was excellent in the first presidential debate (but for the "global test" line, which haunted him afterwards). His day-to-day performance on the stump was also very fine--I saw him handle tough questions from voters with aplomb; and when he was interacting with a crowd, his rich and haughty caricature disappeared completely.

Here's another cute little voting machine glitch story - if you voted the straight Dem ticket, your votes went to the Libertarians.

Via Mark Evanier, another neat bit of red/blue state cartography, but this time without going to purple to show the way the states' results were mixed. This map looks a lot more evenly divided than the standard map. The creator also notes that: The District of Columbia makes for an interesting example of another failing of the conventional red state-blue state map, as well as of this map: voters from different states are not equally represented. For example, the little bit of blue in D.C. represents nearly 20,000 more voters than the large swath of red in Wyoming. Similarly, the blue in New York State represents more voters than all the red in Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico combined.
05:01 GMT

Stuff to read

By now everyone is probably aware of both the the Lancet study on the number of Iraqi deaths and the numerous people trying to debunk it. Over at Crooked Timber, Daniel Davies critiques the critiques and concludes that the study itself is good science.

Matt Welch takes Daniel Henninger of WSJ to task for complaining that the Abu Ghraib story was the media yelling, "Fire!" in a crowded theater. This is the common reaction of the right when they are caught with their pants down - it's all the media's fault for actually reporting it. It's really more a case of conservatives perpetually shouting, "Theater!" in a crowded fire.

Via Kevin Drum, Jonathan Chait's piece in the LAT saying that it's conservatives, rather than lefties, who are the real conspiracy theorist nuts. Naturally, many commenters to Kevin's post just can't see that suspicions about this election could be any less nutty than, say, accusing the Clintons of murdering Vince Foster (and investigating them for it five times).

Matthew Yglesias recommends this piece by David Sirota in The Washington Monthly about how a Democrat won the Montana gubernatorial race without pretending to be a Republican. It's an otherwise thoroughly red state, but, His victory was so resounding and provided down-ballot party members such strong coattails that Montana Democrats took the state senate and four of five statewide offices.
01:13 GMT

Friday, 12 November 2004

It's worth finding out

It's really very hard to read things like this from Squoosh and not wonder how the guy didn't win the election:

I do have to say, I feel the slightest ray of sunshine through the hole in the ozone layer, because Minnesota managed to go decidedly Democrat, despite the swelling ranks of psycho-Christian evangelicals pouring into our suburban crapholes. Yea, us! I even read this morning that Edina (Edina!) voted for John Kerry. This may mean nothing to our non-Minnesotan peeps, but Edina is your prototypical old, rich, snooty, cantankerous, straight-A suburb. They have always been right wing, because dangnabbit they don't want their taxes going to the darkies, if you catch my drift. They have never, as far back as records go, voted for a Democrat. Until John Kerry. Snap! And kudos for Wisconsin as well for eeking it out for the less-bad guys and especially for giving Feingold some more time to piss off 58 million-plus fuckwads out there.
That's the thing about it - all these people voting blue who had always been red before, and yet somehow Bush got more votes. It doesn't figure.

Now, I don't blame The New York Times for not wanting to print stories that assert as fact that there was certainly election fraud, but I do blame them for dismissing it all as blog-hyped conspiracy theory. These are charges of election-fixing, and the Times shouldn't be sneering, it should be investigating. Look how quickly they dismiss what, a mere five years ago, would have been regarded as a frighteningly suspicious fact:

And the early Election Day polls, conducted for a consortium of television networks and The Associated Press, which proved largely inaccurate in showing Mr. Kerry leading in Florida and Ohio, continued to be offered as evidence that the Bush team somehow cheated.
Exit polls are important because you must have something to measure the accuracy of the vote by - not the other way around. Exit polls are accurate; it's the ballot-counting that gets fixed. The normal reaction when the exits and the vote-counts don't match is to say, "Hm, could there have been cheating going on at the polls?" Instead we have The Newspaper of Record assuming that it's just an artifact from the inaccuracy of the exit polls.

But of course, the Times continues to miss the real point, which is not that the election was stolen, but that we have no way to prove that it wasn't. Which means we don't know whether we had "a free and fair election." And that's not good enough.

From JuliusBlog, this QuickTime video: We Had a Dream, a tribute. (via)
22:35 GMT

Morality tales

In the future (this Sunday), Frank Rich will be writing On 'Moral Values,' It's Blue in a Landslide:

The blue ascendancy is nearly as strong among Republicans as it is among Democrats. Those whose "moral values" are invested in cultural heroes like the accused loofah fetishist Bill O'Reilly and the self-gratifying drug consumer Rush Limbaugh are surely joking when they turn apoplectic over MTV. William Bennett's name is now as synonymous with Las Vegas as silicone. The Democrats' Ashton Kutcher is trumped by the Republicans' Britney Spears. Excess and vulgarity, as always, enjoy a vast, bipartisan constituency, and in a democracy no political party will ever stamp them out.
But the distance between this hard-core red culture and the majority blue culture is perhaps best captured by Tom Coburn, the newly elected Republican senator from Oklahoma, lately famous for discovering "rampant" lesbianism in that state's schools. As a congressman in 1997, Mr. Coburn attacked NBC for encouraging "irresponsible sexual behavior" and taking "network TV to an all-time low with full frontal nudity, violence and profanity being shown in our homes." The broadcast that prompted his outrage on behalf of "parents and decent-minded individuals everywhere" was the network's prime-time showing of Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List."
Rich is always a bit behind the curve and deeply steeped in the mainstream media's conventional wisdom - he's as lazy as the rest of them - but he's right about one thing:
[Marshall] Wittman echoes Thomas Frank, the author of "What's the Matter With Kansas?," by common consent the year's most prescient political book. "Values," Mr. Frank writes, "always take a backseat to the needs of money once the elections are won." Under this perennial "trick," as he calls it, Republican politicians promise to stop abortion and force the culture industry "to clean up its act" - until the votes are counted. Then they return to their higher priorities, like cutting capital gains and estate taxes. Mr. Murdoch and his fellow cultural barons - from Sumner Redstone, the Bush-endorsing C.E.O. of Viacom, to Richard Parsons, the Republican C.E.O. of Time Warner, to Jeffrey Immelt, the Bush-contributing C.E.O. of G.E. (NBC Universal) - are about to be rewarded not just with more tax breaks but also with deregulatory goodies increasing their power to market salacious entertainment. It's they, not Susan Sarandon and Bruce Springsteen, who actually set the cultural agenda Gary Bauer and company say they despise.
As Justin observes, the Bushistas did scam some of the evangelicals, but then, they scammed almost everyone.

The Reverand James Forbes of the Riverside Church wrote a while back about The Moral Urgency of Electing John Kerry. As a news story, this aspect of the "moral values" vote has been perhaps the most under-the-radar of all, but most black preachers and many whites have been saying all along that their liberal values are underpinned by their Christianity, and they've never supported Bush, for exactly that reason. If the media itself had been liberal, they would have been focusing on these people when the issue of "moral values" came up, and refusing to accept the idea that morality is only about sex.

You can tell that Bill McClellan has moral values:

I'm a liberal, and that means I believe in responsibility, both personal and collective. Collective responsibility? You betcha. I believe that society - that's us - has a responsibility to take care of the less fortunate and those who can no longer provide for themselves. Social Security, for instance, is a liberal idea. Both for retirees and the disabled. If a working person becomes disabled, he or she will get a monthly check. It's not going to put a person on Easy Street, but that person is not going to have to sit on the sidewalk begging like you see in some countries. Back when the whole Social Security program was being founded, many of our conservative friends were against it.
Some people's moral values are in doubt, as Jonathan Schwarz says in John Ashcroft's Real Religion:
We all know John Ashcroft is a religious man. And now that he's leaving the Justice Department, let's remember what that religion actually is. Here's something he said in 1998 to Southern Partisan magazine:
"Your magazine also helps set the record straight. You've got a heritage of doing that, of defending Southern patriots like [Robert E.] Lee, [Stonewall] Jackson and [Confederate President Jefferson] Davis. Traditionalists must do more. I've got to do more. We've all got to stand up and speak in this respect, or else we'll be taught that these people were giving their lives, subscribing their sacred fortunes and their honor to some perverted agenda."
No, I'm not saying Ashcroft's real religion is racism. (Although the link above has truly appalling instances of Southern Partisan "setting the record straight.") It's something else.

Ashcroft here is referencing the last sentence of the Declaration of Independence:

...for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Do you see what Ashcroft switched? The people who signed the Declaration of Independence mentioned their fortunes, but what they called sacred was their honor. Ashcroft changed it so as to refer to "fortunes" as being sacred.

I suggest this tells you what Ashcroft and the Bush administration -- despite their public piousness -- truly find sacred and truly worship.

My own morality tells me that unwanted pregnancy is a tragedy; Amanda has a look at people whose morality means increasing the misery rather than trying to ameliorate it. Well, that was just one in a series. Here's another:
To hang up the snark for a minute, this more than anything burns me up about the abstinence-only crowd is that they are always bleating about the "consequences" of premarital sex as if these consequences are mere acts of god that we have no control over, when of course the high rate of "consequences" are attributable to the lack of sex education and access to health services that the abstinence-only crowd has agitated for. They want to tell kids that "decisions determine destiny" while avoiding the fact that their decision to agitate for ignorance has determined our destiny as a country that's up to its neck in unplanned pregnancy, STD's, and HIV.
Don't forget the sexual violence and child abuse, Amanda! Yeah, that's the real dirty secret in America's closet - the fact that the "moral" right gives us some of our worst violence and crime.

More than a week after the real liberal media debunked this claim by right-wingers, delusional wingnut Charles Krauthammer announces that the 'Moral Values' Myth about the election is, in fact, a myth - which he claims was invented by the liberal media to explain away the fact that they lost the election. Why? Because it's a way for liberals to assuage our "moral vanity":

You never lose because your ideas are sclerotic or your positions retrograde, but because your opponent appealed to the baser instincts of mankind.
Of course, this is the sort of thing people like Krauthammer have to tell themselves when liberals have been talking for weeks about the fact that more than half of the people who voted for Bush have made clear that they would not actually support the administration's "ideas" if they actually knew what they were. We don't think people voted for Bush because of "moral values"; we think they voted for Bush because they believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11 and thank god we found his nuclear weapons, which otherwise would be aimed at their small-town shopping malls. It obviously appeals to Krauthammer's own moral vanity to believe that there is some reason other than the fact that his candidate's ideas are so retrograde and sclerotic that he had to lie to pass himself off as an acceptable candidate, and that therefore supporters are just plain pig-ignorant and thought they were voting for someone different.

But the So-Called Liberal Media, which gets it's talking points about things like the "moral values" vote direct from the RNC, is stuck on this idea, so it's obviously true that the rest of us are going to have to counter it by pointing out that bigotry and killing people aren't moral values, they're immoral values.
16:53 GMT

It's the verifiability, stupid

Maureen Farrell on The Elephant in the Voting Booth: The White House, you might recall, discounted early exit polls which showed Kerry winning because they were too heavily skewed by heavy female turnout. Yet Bush supposedly won the election largely thanks to support of married women in the suburbs. Wouldn't the early female vote count in his favor, then? Who was more likely to be voting during the day? Working women or so-called "security moms"?

David Broder found out that there is No Vote Necessary in an e-mail from a reader: "While she was on the phone . . . I was informed that my congressman, John Mica, was unopposed. I said, 'I knew that, but shouldn't his name be on the ballot, with a line below it for a write-in candidate?' That seemed traditional to me. I asked whether Mica didn't need to get at least one registered vote somewhere so he could be returned to Washington as an 'elected official' to serve another two years. The answer came back over the phone that Mica had been 'automatically reinstated in Washington.' So... what is the difference between running and not running?

The Brad Blog has loads of links for stories on election problems.
14:48 GMT

Mostly painless stuff

Find the faces
Hidden Pictures (via)

This Space for Rent supplies us with a little Langston Hughes:

Democracy will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.
How we voted - the cartography.

The Sideshow completely agrees with Simbaud that it would be poor form to link to this, and if by some unhappy chance you accidentally find yourself looking at it, you will go to Hell if you dare to laugh.

Going to School with Fafnir and Giblets

The Case That Must Not Be Named! (via)
02:00 GMT

Because we have to keep watching

12thharmonic is quoting Dr. Avi Rubin:

Moreover, because the KEY was IN the source code, all Diebold machines would respond to the same key. Unlock one, you have then ALL unlocked.

I can't believe there is a person alive who wouldn't understand the reason this was allowed to happen. This wasn't a mistake by any stretch of the imagination. This was a fixed election, plain and simple.

This second coup d'etat is either stopped now or America ceases to be.
However, I was worried about something else as well. In the past week, the media coverage of potential problems in e-voting has been unbelievable. I spent most of the week doing media interviews and appeared recently on the Today show, on 60 Minutes, on the cover of the Baltimore Jewish Times, in several major national newspapers, and on quite a few radio shows. The media was setting up the election as potentially marred by e-voting. There was a problem with this. The biggest threat posed by the current crop of electronic voting machines is a software problem, either malicious or due to an unintentional bug, that affects the outcome of the election in an undetectable way. The media, however, focus on detectable problems. To some extent, I felt that the election was going to be viewed as a referendum on electronic voting, despite the issue not appearing on any ballot. However, even if the election were viewed as 'successful,' it would not alleviate the vast majority of my concerns with the machines. Voting machines that are vulnerable to wholesale rigging can still perform perfectly normally. It is possible that nobody exploited the vulnerabilities this time around, and it is also possible that there was fraud or serious error, but that they went undetected. Electronic voting will be judged on the noticeable failures, and the unnoticeable ones are the most serious.

The Green Party has called for a recount in Ohio; Tom at Corrente reports a rumor that it's gonna happen, and says Keith Olbermann continues on the case, reporting that Ralph Nader is also in the mix (maybe he remembered that this power can be used for good), but the issue all around is that it costs money. It also turns out that the lockdown in one Ohio county that was explained as a response to a Homeland Security alert has been disavowed by the FBI (surprise, surprise), and Ralph Nader apparently does a good impression of Richard Nixon. (Who knew?) And so it goes....
03:33 GMT

Thursday, 11 November 2004

Love & Politics

Calif. settles electronic voting suit against Diebold for $2.6M: California Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced Wednesday a $2.6 million settlement with Diebold Inc., resolving a lawsuit alleging that the company sold the state and several counties shoddy voting equipment.

Jim Henley says: Fallujah Once, Shame on YOU: My suspicion last week was that most guerrillas were withdrawing from Fallujah in advance of a heavily hyped assault. A better question is, were they all there in the first place? Was Fallujah really the geographical nerve center and quartermaster's store of the insurgency, packed to the gills with foreign and Iraqi fighters, like we've been reading all these months? Or was Fallujah just another trouble spot that got hyped into Death Star status by the media and the military? Also: Mad Science explains Michael Ledeen.

Iris Chang is dead. She exposed an ugly secret in Japan's World War II history (and took a lot of flack for it), and now we are told she has killed herself. Steve Clemons knew her, and shares his thoughts on this sad occasion.

Skimble has the news that Jeff Skilling wants a change of venue because too many of Enron's victims in Houston already know he's a scumbag. (And 93,000 extra voters? Boy, they really must've been worried about those absentee ballots.)

John M. Ford wrote to TNH about why he refuses to call it "fundamentalism": Indeed, where exactly is the Christianity or Islam in either of these two debased ideologies? Apart from a handful of symbols and catch phrases (along with pastiches, like "The Rapture," that baldly pretend to be authentic principles), there's nothing of Jesus or Mohammed, or the long discussions of how we should then live that followed them.

Conservatives make up new excuse for why they are basically dumb. Look, the reason "conservative" professors are not so popular in academe isn't because of "bias", it's because they talk crap. Get it through your heads, dammit!

Richard Cohen recommends you watch Last Letters Home on HBO - which, I understand, is being unlocked for viewing by anyone who has cable whether they subscribe to HBO or not. Rachel Madow and Lizz Winstead were recommending this on their show today, just in case you want a more reliable opinion. It sounds good.

If you believe in anything decent, fight this thing like crazy. I do not want to see America's old people left on ice floes.

Greeting cards from the damned
17:20 GMT

Get it done

Steve Gilliard has written a letter to liberals. He doesn't want people to get wound-up with the idea that Kerry "really" won unless they have evidence, but he does want us to get it together on what we have to do to start winning - "You want to preserve abortion rights, defend them. Don't whine about Bush and his future judges." That's wise counsel; there's no point in complaining about the positions of potential judges if you can't make a case for your own position. So:

I wouldn't worry too much about the people who bought Bush's lies. The ones who want to will come around. Someone posted a story about a 20-something Bush voter who was glad her husband was too old to be drafted. When asked, she said he was 25. When told she was wrong, she turned white as a ghost and stammered...."I thought they only drafted up to 23". Well, missy, no. They can draft up to 36, but they usually stop at 26. The skills draft could go up to 34.

Or when the college Republican goes down to the local Walgreens and asks for her birth control pills only to be told that the pharmacist refuses to fill the prescription because she's opposed to birth control.

The question you need to ask is this: what do we offer them when they wake up? What do we tell them? Who do we offer for them to vote for. We need to pick the fights closest to home and be credible. We should go after the libertarians and fiscal conservatives and tell them the GOP is leaving them. The Vets, who are being betrayed by them. We need to welcome these people and explain what the GOP is really turning into.

We need to oppose them, not just in Washington, but at City Hall and the school board. We end the free ride we gave them. We oppose them at every turn.

We oppose them at every turn, absolutely. But we also have to make clear what our own program is about. We're not "pro-abortion", for example, we're for people being able to raise healthy children because they can get an honest day's pay for an honest day's work. If that sounds mundane, please bear in mind that at the moment we are in a political environment where wanting that simple thing is being labelled "far left". These so-called "pro-life" folks are saying that having a law against abortion is smarter than giving people hope that their children will have a real future. That's not just stupid and immoral, it's disgusting.

Start learning more about individual issues and formulating ways to crystallize and articulate responses to what the other side says. Some people are already doing that. If you don't think you have a facility for doing that, find others who do and start collecting the good points together for use in anything from policy documents to fliers to bumper stickers. It's all good.

Anyway, I made a rather longer-than-usual response to Steve's post, in the comments:

I think everything Steve says in this post is right, but I also think it's important to safeguard our vote. That means it's important to keep the story alive - not because there's any certainty that the election was rigged, but because there's no certainty that it wasn't.

So far the "proof" that it wasn't consists of saying that, well, we can think up reasons why the funny stuff wasn't actual cheating, just errors.

But that's not good enough. We need to be able to have faith in our system. We need to be able to know that the votes were counted, and counted honestly. We should never have to be in a position where there is a single precinct where we know before the election that there is no way to verify the vote. It is irrelevant whether Kerry did or didn't "really" win this election on an honest count. What's vital is that we can't know, and we must be able to know, every time.

Additionally, voter disenfranchisement should not be treated as acceptable. Adult citizens should be presumed to have a right to vote. There should be no laws on the books that make it easy to relieve a citizen of their right to vote. Not even felony convictions. All citizens have a stake in the outcome of an election, so they should all be able to vote.

Now: According to the Constitution, voting is a local issue. So there's nothing about working for verifiable voting that is inconsistent with Steve's very wise counsel to work locally. Verifiable voting can be part of a galvanizing grass-roots program and is therefore an issue that local politicians can campaign on. Making it a local campaign issue in individual precincts also makes it a weapon against governors who are responsible for putting in (or not getting rid of) unverifiable voting systems. It can be used that way state-wide.

We made some inroads in this election toward strengthening Democrats in local government, and that's where a strong national party starts. We have to keep doing that.

Which means if all you're doing is posting on blogs, you'd better have a good excuse - like being physically and economically unable to do anything else. If you're not doing something that reaches people who aren't reading blogs, you're not doing enough.

And if you're waiting for the next election cycle, your wait is over: It has already started, so get to work.

That's what it's all about. And, please, let's hear no nonsense about how, "There's always cheating and there's always gonna be cheating." For one thing, there is not always cheating. (There are plenty of places where ballots are counted in front of God and Everyone.) And for another, it's still no excuse for allowing the likelihood of cheating to be institutionalized.

We really can do better, you know.
14:53 GMT

Stuff I saw

Keith Olbermann is still blogging about the election, and says: With news this morning that the computerized balloting in North Carolina is so thoroughly messed up that all state-wide voting may be thrown out and a second election day scheduled, the story continues. And yet, I remember four years ago when the very idea of a do-over in problem areas was pronounced impossible. Meanwhile, Keith also points to this story in The Charlotte Observer about counting provisional ballots, which includes this:

The board had no split votes, though the one Republican, Phil Summa, raised two objections. He argued against counting ballots that were not signed by a precinct official, but neither of his Democratic colleagues seconded his motion. Summa's second objection was to the concept of counting votes cast in the wrong precinct. But he acknowledged that state law required the board to count those votes.
I don't know about the first objection, but why raise the second if state law said different? Just trying to scam his colleagues?

And from an earlier post, one of my favorites:

The problem is, the rubber clown immediately bounces back with the report that officials in Youngstown managed to catch a slight glitch in their voting there: a total drawn from all the precincts that initially showed negative 25,000,000 million votes cast. It evokes a Monty Python sketch ("Mr. Kevin Phillips Bong - Sensible Party - 14,352. Mr. Harquin Fim Tim Lim Bim Bus Stop Fatang Fatang Ole Biscuit Barrel - Silly Party -- minus 25,000,0000).
And also, you'll be happy to know:
The most pleasing thing of the last three days of blogs and newscasts is the reassurance from political professionals that all of you (all of us) who have wondered about what went on a week ago yesterday are not necessarily nuts. We might not necessarily be right, but there are some very stodgy, very by-the-book folks who think we're damned right to be asking.
Hell, yes. But there's more in that post that you should read.

Im the WaPo, Harold Meyerson says there's something good goin' down in the Democratic Party: Listen closely. That silence you hear is the sound of Democrats not recriminating. That's pretty much true - there's a lot of analysis, a lot of regrouping, but remarkably little of that circular firing-squad thing.

And Michael Feingold in The Village Voice has a good piece on Our Vanished Values, also worth a read. And that link came via I'm Just Sayin', which you might want to read more of.
11:17 GMT

Stuff you might want to see

Click for Sorry Everybody

David Corn on why it's important to count the vote even if the evidence of tampering doesn't turn out to be any good.

The trouble with Uzbekistan - speech by the British Ambassador to the Republic of Uzbekistan: Uzbekistan. Government sees statistics as largely an instrument of propaganda. Sound familiar? (Thanks to Phil Palmer for the tip.)

Bill Scher says the Dems need to present our own plans for tax simplification and other issues to undercut anything the GOP comes up with.

Consortium News says: There's been both praise and criticism for's four post-election stories, which tried to frame the questions about the Nov. 2 vote tallies and which depicted the U.S. news media as dangerously imbalanced to the right. So in response to the comments, we offer a fuller explanation of why we see a broken system that threatens to turn the United States into a democratic republic in name only. Explaining Ourselves, by Robert Parry, talks about the importance of a real investigation of the election as well as the vital need to create a liberal media infrastructure.

The trouble with Alberto Gonzales: Is this the best we can get?

TChris at TalkLeft has more discussion of enfranchisement of convicted felons - even when they are still in prison. I can't think of a reason not to let them vote - after all, the difference between convicted felons and anyone else is really only that they got caught.

Also at TalkLeft, more on voter disenfranchisement - by not getting those absentee ballots to voters in time. And one on voter intimidation by a familiar RNC thug working as an election official.

04:09 GMT

Spiritual strategy

Rabbi Lerner says The Democrats Need a Spiritual Left:

Imagine if John Kerry had been able to counter George Bush by insisting that a serious religious person would never turn his back on the suffering of the poor, that the bible's injunction to love one's neighbor required us to provide health care for all, and that the New Testament's command to "turn the other cheek" should give us a predisposition against responding to violence with violence.
Well, it would have been nice if Kerry had known how to do that. But politicians in general aren't terribly good at the spiritual values thing. God knows the Republicans aren't.

And we do have a spiritual left, but for some reason the mass media doesn't talk to them a lot - maybe because they don't have their own television network.

However, Christine Quinones thinks we do need a minister:

In reading about the necessity of Democrats to engage with the religious vote, it occurred to me: why are we depending on the pols to accomplish this? The GOP has its Falwells and Robertsons spreading the word to the faithful so that the Bushes and Cheneys don't have to do the heavy lifting. If there are so many evangelicals who think our way, where is their ministry's voice? Who better to connect liberal ideas to faith than someone whose job it is?

We wanna make progress? Put Real Live Preacher on Air America every Sunday morning.

I've actually heard a number of my favorite ministers on AAR on weekday mornings. This morning, it was the Rev. Barry Lynn. But here is RLP:
"See, I think Christianity is like a human poem, written over thousands of years by people who have a sense that there is something more important for us than just waking up every day and going about our business. I'm one of those people, I'm afraid. I know that makes me seem a little foolish to you, but maybe you have room in your life for one goofy friend, huh?"
Yeah, I could dig that on AAR on Sundays, sure.
00:59 GMT

Wednesday, 10 November 2004

Steve Gilliard has a magnificent screed up about the people who are running our country -

Bushco doesn't want to fight stateless terrorism. They created it and they benefit from it. You think they don't know terrorists target blue state cities? They also know that Wyoming gets $38 a person in "Homeland Security" funds and NYC gets $5 per person
- and those who voted for them -
Check 'em out! They want you dead. Don't you think you should be aware? Browse their sites and comment boards and then come back and tell me you can reach them, educate them, live in peace with them. Or that you want to.
A good venting. Via Shameless Agitator.
23:30 GMT

As the frog boils has the story: After early exit polls in Tuesday's election inaccurately suggested that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry would trounce President Bush, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie is recommending that major news organizations pull the plug on the prognostications.

Also via Buzzflash, Tanks in the streets at anti-war protest in LA: LOS ANGELES, November 9, 2004 - At 7:50 PM two armored tanks showed up at an anti-war protest in front of the federal building in Westwood. The tanks circled the block twice, the second time parking themselves in the street and directly in front of the area where most of the protesters were gathered. Enraged, some of the people attempted to block the tanks, but police quickly cleared the street. The people continued to protest the presence of the tanks, but about ten minutes the tanks drove off. It is unclear as to why the tanks were deployed to this location. Uploaded here is video from the event.

From the fire to the frying pan: Jeralyn at TalkLeft has confirmed that Bush's choice of replacement Attorney General is Alberto Gonzales, the man who wrote the "torture memo" advising that the administration could ignore the "quaint" Geneva Conventions, and who was also responsible for preparing briefings to then-governor Bush on death penalty clemency appeals - briefings which failed to mention any of the reasons for giving clemency.
22:58 GMT

Yesterday's news

Robert Parry has two pieces up on the voting problems, Evidence of a Second Bush Coup? and Bush's 'Incredible' Vote Tallies: George W. Bush's vote tallies, especially in the critical state of Florida where he earned more votes than registered Republicans, are so statistically stunning that they test the bounds of believability. Democratic activists, who worked hard to turn out millions of new voters for John Kerry, are wondering how the GOP pulled it off.

Bruce Baugh has decided he's not a libertarian anymore: I continue to agree with the principle that it's best to vote for a candidate rather than against one or more others, and I can see the logic in thinking that if there is no choice you actively approve of, refraining is the next best step. It's just that I realize what many others have before me: stopping a great evil is also a good act. And indeed this seems to me in accordance with a bunch of classic libertarian mottos like "Utopia is not an option". It seems to me now that it's more utopian to assert broad moral equivalence for every candidate capable of getting a major party nomination than to examine their histories and characters and look for grounds on which to say "this one is more a friend to liberty and human dignity, or at least less of a threat to them, than that one". Most libertarians seem to end up talking a better game than acting it out.

Ashcroft resigns: The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved. Whew! I'm sure glad that's over with.

One more reason to like Dick Durbin.
18:47 GMT

All the news in bits

Bob Herbert: You have to be careful when you toss the word values around. All values are not created equal. Some Democrats are casting covetous eyes on voters whose values, in many cases, are frankly repellent. Does it make sense for the progressive elements in our society to undermine their own deeply held beliefs in tolerance, fairness and justice in an effort to embrace those who deliberately seek to divide?

Charles Dodgson reminds me that Daniel Drezner was one of those undecided voters who wasn't prepared to support Kerry because although he knew he didn't like what Bush was doing, he wasn't sure he wouldn't also dislike what Kerry would do.

Ellen at Newshounds says that the situation is not hopeless, and it's just a matter of working hard and working smart.

Dave at Seeing the Forest has learned from experience and has more thoughts about why bloggers are an important supplement to the professional media's news process. In some ways, I guess you could say that bloggers have a better opportunity to see more than one tree at a time and get a view of the forest.

Over at the Register, cranky Americans tell the red-staters what they've lost. Interestingly, Matt Yglesias is saying much the same thing over at The American Prospect, but not nearly as snarkily. And yet, he still tell's them they're chumps.

Yet more from Thom Hartmann, who says This is a Game Where Principles are the Stake, and that if we could get through 1798, we can get through this.

Access Denied: Find out why growing numbers of doctors and pharmacists across the US are refusing to prescribe or dispense birth control pills.

On the time-travel front, Dylan Thomas writes about the current administration at Tina's Shark Tank.
03:17 GMT

Who were they?

Your must-read comes from Rick Pearlstein in The Village Voice:

The idea that last week's election results show that there is a great silent majority of Americans who vote first and foremost on their moral values, which means that they vote for the Republicans, has become gospel on our nation's airwaves by now. It is nonsense on stilts. Bush didn't win this election on "moral values." It turns out he didn't do any better among strong churchgoers, or rural voters, than he did in 2000. What was it that actually put him over the top? It's the wealth, stupid.
Where did the lion's share of the extra votes come from that gave George Bush his mighty, mighty mandate of 51 percent? "Two of those points," Klinkner said when reached by phone, "came solely from people making over a 100 grand." The people who won the election for him-his only significant improvement over his performance four years ago-were rich people, voting for more right-wing class warfare.
So before anyone decides to jettison liberal values, it's important to pay attention to what was really going on, and work to make that class warfare aspect much more clear in the future. The Republicans didn't win on "values" issues, they won on scaring Democrats out of being proud liberals. (Via The Farmer at Corrente.)
00:27 GMT

Tuesday, 09 November 2004

In the cultural cauldron

NYT: The Antiwar Right Is Ready to Rumble: On Thursday, Paul Weyrich, founder of the Heritage Foundation and chairman of the Free Congress Foundation, issued a call to conservatives for a serious debate about the administration's foreign policy. "The consequences of the neocons' adventure in Iraq are now all too clear," he said. "America is stuck in a guerrilla war with no end in sight. Our military is stretched too thin to respond to other threats. And our real enemies, nonstate organizations such as Al Qaeda, are benefiting from the Arab and Islamic backlash against our occupation of an Islamic country." (via)

Matt Welch: Gracious: Since Andrew Sullivan instructed us that "it's time we called a truce in the family squabble" and "put the bile and anger and passion of the past few months to one side," I figured I'd take a quick tour through the winner's circle to see if Sullivan's advices are being taken to heart. And he gives us that tour. It's not a pretty sight.

Chris Bowers looks at "Real" conservative values - what they are alleged to be and what they really are, based on the man and the values that conservatives appear to have supported for the presidency.
21:47 GMT

Moral hygiene

This piece by Fred Clark at Slacktivist about Chuck Colson was already interesting before I got to this part:

One of my biggest complaints with Colson over the past year is his failure to live up to the idea of restorative justice in his personal life. After his born-again experience, Colson reportedly apologized to many of the people he had attacked and slandered while working in Nixon's White House -- people like Daniel Ellsberg and John Kerry.

That's right, John Kerry. Richard Nixon hated and feared John Kerry's work with Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and Colson's job was to destroy anything and anyone that Nixon hated or feared. So Colson hired John O'Neill -- the same John O'Neill who resurfaced from his crypt this year to lead the Swift Boat liars crusade -- to batter the young veteran with all the lies he could invent.

The lies and slanders thrown at John Kerry during the recent campaign were all recycled from the 30-year-old files of John O'Neill. They were concocted at Chuck Colson's direction and on Chuck Colson's payroll.

Yet the born-again Colson did not bother to make a single statement this year condemning the rebirth of his and O'Neill's filthy campaign. (Or, at least, if he did condemn O'Neill, he did so very quietly and I never heard it.)

Instead, Colson spent the year once again working in concert with people like O'Neill. He recorded pro-Bush GOTV phone messages and used his "Break Point" columns and radio commentaries as an extension of BC04 (apparently he'd finally run out of ways to paraphrase/borrow/steal from C.S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man).

Fred says he is saving his words on James Dobson for later. Meanwhile, he also has a link-rich post you might want to check out.
20:01 GMT

The most important election story

Thom Hartmann has a much-quoted piece up called Evidence Mounts That The Vote May Have Been Hacked, but let's remember why we keep hammering this story. As he said in another piece, The Ultimate Felony Against Democracy:

Why have we let corporations into our polling places, locations so sacred to democracy that in many states even international election monitors and reporters are banned? Why are we allowing corporations to exclusively handle our vote, in a secret and totally invisible way? Particularly a private corporation founded, in one case, by a family that believes the Bible should replace the Constitution; in another case run by one of Ohio's top Republicans; and in another case partly owned by Saudi investors?
And for an interesting side-note, Ken Layne is curious about whether Karen Hughes really did sit Bush down in the very early morning of November 3rd to tell him that Kerry was winning in a landslide.

From the Voters Unite! problem page:

Broward County accepted on 2428 provisional ballots out of a "ton" of them. In many cases, clerks at the polling places gave provisional ballots to people who could have voted regularly, deputy registrar Salas said. She thinks many clerks had trouble with last names of voters with compound names -- they simply couldn't find their names in the precinct registers, even though they were there. Story
[Something I've been wondering all day is how it is that even in states that were supposed to be "close", they got rid of Republicans in local legislatures (one state legislature, I understand, actually went 100% Dem), and passed initiatives that Republicans had spent extraordinary amounts of money trying to defeat. It just seems odd to me that all these people came out to vote like Democrats and yet still ended up voting for Bush. It doesn't make sense.]

Keith Olbermann has more in the aftermath of his show last night about the voting problems, and somewhere down in the article says this:

Back to those emails, especially the 1508 positive ones. Apart from the supportive words (my favorites: "Although I did not vote for Kerry, as a former government teacher, I am encouraged by your `covering' the voting issue which is the basis of our government. Thank you."), the main topics were questions about why ours was apparently the first television or mainstream print coverage of any of the issues in Florida or Ohio. I have a couple of theories.

Firstly, John Kerry conceded. As I pointed out here Sunday, no candidate's statement is legally binding - what matters is the state election commissions' reports, and the Electoral College vote next month. But in terms of reportorial momentum, the concession took the wind out of a lot of journalists' aggressiveness towards the entire issue. Many were prepared for Election Night premature jocularity, and a post-vote stampede to the courts - especially after John Edwards' late night proclamation from Boston. When Kerry brought that to a halt, a lot of the media saw something of which they had not dared dream: a long weekend off.

Don't discount this. This has been our longest presidential campaign ever, to say nothing of the one in which the truth was most artfully hidden or manufactured. To consider this mess over was enough to get 54 percent of the respondents to an Associated Press poll released yesterday to say that the "conclusiveness" of last week's vote had given them renewed confidence in our electoral system (of course, 39 percent said it had given them less confidence). Up for the battle for truth or not, a lot of fulltime political reporters were ready for a rest. Not me - I get to do "Oddball" and "Newsmakers" every night and they always serve to refresh my spirit, and my conviction that man is the silliest of the creator's creations.

(Thanks for the heads-up to Kip, to whom I'm sure we all send our condolences.)

Larry Chin discusses the long list of "errors" and wonders whether Kerry's concession was more bait-and-switch, in The stolen election of 2004: welcome back to hell. It's possible that Kerry is being smart - I've heard it suggested that laying low could be a way of keeping the RNC spin machine quiet on all the reasons why votes shouldn't be counted at all - but we'll have to see what happens when those last counts are actually "completed".

There's a story in The Washington Post about how Kerry is all fired up to fight in the Senate and doesn't plan to "disappear" from the political scene like Al Gore did after the election. Well, that's good, what with him being in the Senate and all. Especially since he hasn't had much chance to be there lately. And especially especially since Al Gore was actually making a better showing over most of the last year than Kerry was, even though the press mostly chose not to notice (or else say he was nuts).

What I want to know now is, how fired up are Kerry and his colleagues to fight if those vote counts don't confirm Bush's alleged victory? Right now, I'm not seeing any signs of it.
18:50 GMT

Quick links

Happy birthday to Mr. Sideshow. I would like to be able to add a clever comment, but I don't have one.

Dangerous blogger investigated by FBI.

Bad weather in Washington

Shaula Evans gives voice to a thought I've had lurking in my mind as a way to defeat voter-suppression efforts: Re-register as a Republican. (via)

"Retirement" - it's so 20th century.

Digby explains the Coastal Establishment vs. Heartland/South divide. Seriously. Important post, go read it all. And take a look at this post about another under-the-radar Republican GOTV method (and more evidence that you must wear the Mark of the Beast).

Frogs! (via)
14:36 GMT

Bits of stuff

Suburban Guerilla says: Look at this. The reason we razed that hospital in Falluja is that it appeared to be the source of rumors of heavy casualties. Man, I am so, so glad that major combat operations are over - aren't you? (Also: If you want to work for the Beast, you have to sell your soul.)

My dad's ashes are interred at Arlington Cemetery because he enlisted during World War II. But after that, he got married, raised kids, and lived to be 86. Right now, a lot of people are dying for the wrong reason before they have time to do any of those things. At The Left Coaster, soccerdad directs our attention to Arlington West.

Also at TLC, Yuval Rubinstein on why Hillary should not be the candidate. He's right.

Eileen McNamara in The Boston Globe writes about what could be a A telling loss for the church in this election - or might be a greater victory than they realize.

The new, new colossus
04:36 GMT

Monday, 08 November 2004

It's so spiritual

Hm, right-wing evangelicals want credit for Bush's victory (and I'm sure everyone else is happy to let them deflect attention from the voting machines and terrorism), but Kevin Drum says that after analyzing the data, it doesn't look to him like they were as important as everyone is trying to claim.

In the NYT, Steve Waldman writes about how the right-wing evangelicals want payback for delivering the election. But, notes Laura at War and Piece, David Brooks is trying to play-down the influence the religious right is likely to have on Bush's second term.

Atrios figures they ought to be able to get the head of Arlen Specter if they want it, but says that Tapped disagrees.
23:05 GMT

You can leave your (tin-foil) hat on

Jeanne D'Arc says that Keith Olberman is going to be doing a show on possible election fraud tonight or tomorrow. And he thanks bloggers for keeping the story alive, although he warns that blog posts don't go through the fact-check filter that mainstream media stories do. But it doesn't matter whether the stories turn out to be true or not; what matters is that we should be in no doubt. In the comments, Kevin Hayden says:

Neither party will be able to make clear claims of legitimacy unless they are avid about correcting the process. Any shirking in this regard will give the appearance of cover-up and well it should.

What reasonable person would oppose a thorough investigation?

And someone called "a-train" says:
David Brooks trying to explain the discrepancies on PBS said, he got an email from Rove early in the day saying the polling numbers were wrong. This is supposed to put us at ease? How did Rove know?

Like the argument for the Patriot Act: "If you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about." If there was no fraud, no one should have a problem with an investigation.

Much as I disagree with that argument when it comes to the Patriot Act and similar legislation, it does seem rather odd that this argument is acceptable when it comes to locking people up forever without a trial, but not when it comes to merely creating verifiable reliability for voting. (And how did Karl Rove know that the exit poll numbers were wrong?)

The right-wingers like to point out that the Democratic Party has a long, old history of vote-fixing tactics. What they don't like to remember is that they're talking about a Democratic Party that began disappearing after the Voting Rights Act and the Southern Strategy - and those Democrats disappeared into the Republican Party. But they haven't changed their spots.

John Conyers, Jerrold Nadler, and Robert Wexler of the House Judiciary Committee have written to the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) asking for an investigation of the irregularities:

The House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff has received numerous reports from Youngstown, Ohio that voters who attempted to cast a vote for John Kerry on electronic voting machines saw that their votes were instead recorded as votes for George W. Bush. In South Florida, Congressman Wexler's staff received numerous reports from voters in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade Counties that they attempted to select John Kerry but George Bush appeared on the screen. CNN has reported that a dozen voters in six states, particularly Democrats in Florida, reported similar problems. This was among over one thousand such problems reported. "Touchscreen Voting Problems Reported," Associated Press, November 5.
Read the rest of the letter at Daily Kos.

Tsuredzuregusa has an Election Theft Roundup post up with lots of links, and Jack K. at RuminateThis says:

...smoke and fire, eh? When you boil all the meat off this thing and get all the way down to the bone, there's just simply too much here to simply shrug it off for fear of being labeled some sort of sore-loser sourpuss. Some hotrod needs to do some big time investigative work and try to get to the bottom of some of these curious incidents. Democrats, in particular, have a strongly vested interest in these stories being sniffed out, because nothing will suppress Democratic vote next time around like the voter-held opinion that voting doesn't matter since Republican thugs are going to steal the thing anyway.
You might want to check out Voter Protection Center to see what else is going on. Write to your reps to try to put more pressure on. Don't let up.
17:59 GMT


I was listening earlier to Ira Glass of This American Life talking on AAR about his show about undecided voters (RealPlayer hotlink), and what it basically comes down to is that these people knew where Bush stood and even though they hated it they were sure they hated it, as opposed to Kerry who they "didn't quite trust" - that is, they trusted Bush to lie and do horrible things but weren't certain Kerry wouldn't, so they voted for Bush. Weird.

Was Kerry a good candidate? In many ways, he looked more like the perfect candidate than anyone else in the field - he was the tallest and one of the best-looking physically. If you think that's a shallow analysis, you're right, but if you want to explain the gender gap this is what you have to know: Polls and studies show that men are more likely than women to vote for a man on the basis of looks. So you get yourself a tall, good-looking candidate if you can find one.

And Kerry was good-looking as presidential candidates go, and he was very tall, and he had all the pedigree, but he had two things against him: first, the vets who still hated him for coming back after Vietnam and exposing the problems with it, and secondly, his vote to authorize force in Iraq.

He might have been able to overcome the latter if he'd ever been any good at explaining his votes, but he was lousy at it. Kerry and all of his surrogates should have been all over the fact that what Bush did was not what the Congress had voted for, but they just let it slide. Similarly, they should never have stopped pounding the $87 billion dollars and why the money still hadn't been spent. There were a number of things wrong with that $87 billion, and Democrats never really hit any of them.

(And funding was actually the least interesting of them. Why did Bush say he would veto the bill? And why did Bush present a bill that included the facility to threaten the security of civil servants' jobs? Why was that more important than the issues that were supposed to be on the table? What was it doing in the bill in the first place? And Kerry should have brought the funding issue up every time Bush questioned how Kerry was going to pay for his own proposals. Why was Bush always proposing budgets that didn't even account for the costs of the war? And so on....)

People let the CW sway their choice of candidate. Kerry was a lot of people's second choice from the beginning, but there were reasons why he wasn't the first. The "electability" meme confused a lot of people. It's a waste of time to listen to what the idiots inside the Beltway say about electability. It is not a waste of time, however, to pay serious attention to how people actually vote. And they do vote for what they regard as sincerity. However, they don't like to vote for guys who seem dorky, which is why the RNC spent a lot of time trying to make it seem like wind-surfing was dorky. It's also why Kucinich never had a chance.

So. Our next nominee should be a tall guy who is good-looking for a politician, and who can't be painted as having supported the invasion in any way. He also has to be someone who can wipe the floor in debate with the next Bush-like creature the Republicans produce. (And that guy was never John Kerry. Bush's poor performance was a gift to Kerry, but watching the debates, my overriding impression was, "I could take both of 'em." I have, so far, only seen one plausible Democrat who is eligible to serve as president who I don't think I could beat in a debate. It's not Hillary Clinton.)

You know where I'm going with this, right? There is one guy who, no matter what you may have heard, once wiped the floor with Bush in a debate back when he was still in fighting form, before Bush had that stroke or whatever it was that made him look so pathetic in this year's series. He's obviously got strong and genuine feelings about the direction our country should go on the record, and is no longer as blinded as the rest of the Democratic leadership seems to be about what kind of people we are dealing with. He's even from the south. He's the guy who we should have drafted to fight this race.

We'll be talking more on this as time goes by. In the meantime, you know what you have to do.
15:48 GMT

A buncha things

Bra of the Week

Via Sasha Undercover, I have learned that The Rude Pundit Has completed his series on The Five Stages of Grieving For George Bush's Re-Election. Begin at Part 1 and scroll on up. (But just to be on the safe side, here are links for Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.)

Tena at First Draft (the other one) and Scribestalker have both posted their own thoughts on this week's Sunday morning sermon.

The Washington Post has an article trying to paper-over Karl Rove's dirty tactics and make it look like the country has simply moved it's values incrementally to the right over the last three election cycles. Mary at Pacific Views has a great post on what Rove really did to create this mirage of a right-ward move on the part of the public.

Meanwhile, since America has no other problems that need dealing with,Reuters says Karl Rove wants to move on that gay marriage amendment. I don't think they expect or want such an amendment to get anywhere, because that would deprive them of their issue. It's probably a way to keep everyone's eyes off of any debate that could try to emerge about piratizing privatizing Social Security or introducing a flat tax or something. (I mean, I'm sure it's not an accident that Bush signed an outrageous corporate tax giveaway while everyone in the world was obsessing on the election.) (Via Lambert at Corrente.)
01:14 GMT

Sunday, 07 November 2004

The gloat

Michael Kinsley, in one of his smarter moods, sorta writes the article giving the other side everything they want:

At the moment, though, one side of the great divide is being called upon for something closer to abjection than mere reconciliation.

So, yes, okay, fine. I'm a terrible person -- barely a person at all, really, and certainly not a real American -- because I voted for the losing candidate on Tuesday. If you insist -- and you do -- I will rethink my fundamental beliefs from scratch because they are shared by only 47 percent of the electorate.

And please let me, or any other liberal, know if there is anything else we can do to abase ourselves. Abandon our core values? Pander to yours? Not a problem. Happy to do it. Anything, anything at all, to stop this shower of helpful advice.

Thank you, Michael. Because, really, we have nothing to apologize for. Why should we apologize for wanting programs that work instead of programs that don't? Why should we apologize for being able to do simple arithmetic and for having common sense? I'm not sorry I supported a candidate who had more brains, more sense, and more character than George W. Bush.

No, I wasn't in love with Kerry. He was okay, as things go, but he was too far right and you know it. That I am sorry for. But I'm not sorry for refusing to lend my support to an administration that thrives on bigotry, murder, and lies.

Anyway, Kinsley can't resist just one little plea:

There's just one little request I have. If it's not too much trouble, of course. Call me profoundly misguided if you want. Call me immoral if you must. But could you please stop calling me arrogant and elitist?
We on my side of the great divide don't, for the most part, believe that our values are direct orders from God. We don't claim that they are immutable and beyond argument. We are, if anything, crippled by reason and open-mindedness, by a desire to persuade rather than insist. Which philosophy is more elitist? Which is more contemptuous of people who disagree?
But be fair! (A liberal whine, I know. Sorry.) Don't assert the prerogatives of victory and then claim the compensations of defeat as well. You can't oppress us and simultaneously complain that we are oppressing you.
But of course, they do, because they are both bad winners and whiners.

And anyway, I don't think it was so-called "values" that did the trick. Even leaving the entire issue of voting machines aside, Bush-voters leaving the polls did not, in any spectacular numbers, say they voted on the basis of "values". They said they voted on national security matters, on terrorism. And we know that most of those people were ill-informed about where the candidates stood and what had really happened. We know they thought Al Qaeda was connected to Saddam, that Saddam was connected to 9/11, and that we've even found WMD in Iraq. We also know that those same people, by and large, think we shouldn't have invaded Iraq if those connections were not there. But they think they were, and they think it because Bush and Cheney and all their news-minions kept claiming that to be the case. So, basically, they share my beliefs about "preemptive" wars, about what were the correct reasons to invade or not to invade, and so on. They just put their faith in liars.

Here's Digby:

I had always had my suspicions that the real problem for us was the terrorism issue. Kerry's anti-war past and the mere fact that he was a Democrat fit into an image of weakness that is almost impossible to break. That's why he rightly emphasized his war hero status and why Rove called in the swift boat liars to tear it down. What they wanted to do was get that image of Kerry the hero out of people's minds and the image of Kerry the effete liberal planted firmly in its place.

Kerry did a better job of overcoming that obstacle, and the more intractable obstacle of being a Democrat during a national security crisis, than anyone had a right to expect. He almost pulled it off. If he had he would have been able to banish the image of the Democratic weakling as effectively as Clinton banished the fiscal irresponsibility label. Too bad.

Does this mean Clark should have been the candidate after all? Maybe. But what's for sure is that a majority of the people of the United States do not feel more at home gay-bashing with the Jerry Fallwells and the Fred Phelpses than they do having coffee in Starbuck's with your basic Democrat.
23:57 GMT

Your Sunday morning sermon

The other day, Patrick quoted Mark Schmitt, who said, "The right question, I think, is not whether religion has an undue influence, but why it is that the current flourishing of religious faith has, for the first time ever, virtually no element of social justice?" Yesterday, I think Patrick allowed himself to be sidetracked by Matt Yglesias:

I think the answer is that it does have a strong element of social justice. Who's working to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa? Who's trying to help refugees in Darfur? Who's trying to stop global trafficking in women? Why, that would be socially conservative religious movements. For that matter, who's charged off on a neo-Wilsonian quest to spread democracy at gunpoint. The efficacy of the religious right's preferred means of spreading liberty around the world can and should be questioned, as should the sincerity of at least some of the architects of the strategy, but there's every reason to think that many -- if not most -- of the people who vote for George W. Bush and his forward strategy of freedom are perfectly sincere in their belief that this is what's happening and that it's a good idea.
It is sad to see that Matt has been hoodwinked by Bush's phoney AIDS initiative, which promises, but does not deliver, help against the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Among other things.

Look, if you want to stop problems, your first obligation is to find out what causes them. And people who think they can stop these problems by promoting guilt and repression and warfare are, at best, lazy, slothful, and self-righteous. They aren't helping, they are the problem. AIDS isn't stopped by false promises and the diversion of resources to pharmaceutical firms. Trafficking in women isn't stopped by promoting poverty while mouthing pseudo-Christian admonitions. Peace is not created by war. Democracy is not enhanced by having self-serving foreigners impose unfettered greed and manipulated elections (from which large sections of the populace and their respected leadership are excluded) on people whose electrical grid and water services you have blown up.

The most offensive thing about the Christian right may not be that they want to base their activities on "faith" rather than fact, or even that the one thing they claim is "inerrant", that is better than empirical fact and should be taken literally, is the Bible. The thing that's even more offensive is that they say they are Christians and yet base none of their actions on the teachings of Christ in the Gospels, what they say they believe is the literal word of God.

They want to put the Ten Commandments in every classroom and courtroom, but they don't want to have to read them. They're happy to teach school children to mouth the words of the Sermon on the Mount, just as long as they don't think about what those words mean. God only knows what they think the story of the Good Samaritan is supposed to be about. (I have actually heard them make up the idea that "the eye of a needle" may have been the name of a physical place, and thus says nothing about the relationship of the wealthy to God. Which suggests that Jesus was merely being vapid rather than instructive.)

There have always been assorted crackpots who quote scripture and yet use it to say exactly the opposite of what it obviously means. Pat Robertson once told his congregation the story of the Tower of Babel and then said something like, "And God saw that they all spoke with one voice... And we will speak with one voice...." In other words, he was treating the story of the Tower as an instruction to build one, apparently forgetting that God was displeased with the whole thing and knocked it down. (I've never actually understood God's motivation, here, but his disapproval was abundantly clear.)

Sometimes these twisted interpretations of Scripture actually break out of their little enclaves and take over the imagination of an entire culture. No one who has actually read the story of Onan can honestly believe it is about masturbation, but unless you have read it you may be completely unaware that what it's really about is familial obligation. (You have to give Onan credit, though. If there was ever a man who could claim he was provoked to rape, it was Onan, but he managed to resist all the same.)

But what part of "Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbor" do they not understand? Why do they find it necessary to translate "heal the sick" and "feed the poor" as "proselytize the sick and the poor and deny them aid if they will not play along"? How does the instruction to pray alone in the closet translate into, "Pray in huge stadiums with enormous crowds, preferably in front of television cameras that broadcast it to millions of viewers"?

And it's bad enough having their perverted interpretation of The Revelation (which does not mention America anywhere, by the way) used as a basis for federal policy, but surely any well-read Christian must be aware of who the bad guy is in that book, and what he does. It's no good pointing out that the Beast is supposed to be a Jew, because - haven't you noticed, yet? - American exceptionalism means we are the New Jews, the Chosen People, and Bush is our purported Messiah.

In this newer, brighter version of Christianity, you don't just spread the word of Jesus, you deny people both charity and paid employment if they fail to profess adherence to the word of Bush and the crippled "faith" his apostles wish to enforce. If that's what "social justice" has come to mean, we're not gonna get very far using this faith-based dictionary.
11:52 GMT

Don't let this happen to you

What it means to live in a democracy, by Sarah Gauch:

CAIRO When I received my absentee ballot on a recent evening I felt such a surge of emotion that I wanted to break down and cry.

I am an American citizen who has lived here in Cairo for 15 years. My feelings about living in this country have crested and fallen over time, but now I am left with one overwhelming sentiment: a deep and growing respect - and yearning - for democracy.

It almost sounds corny to say this. Too simple. Too George-Bush patriotic. But after living for 15 years in a country that only pretends to have a democracy, where the president, Hosni Mubarak, wins elections every six years unopposed by some 95 percent, where the press is censored and human rights are too often disregarded, I miss living in a democracy.

I miss benefiting from democracy's catch phrases: checks and balances, free and fair elections, freedom of expression. I miss living in a country where the politicians must heed the citizens' interests. I miss a rule of law that is efficient and consistent, a nation where corruption or torture, while they might happen, are condemned, investigated and prosecuted.
What really happens to your average Mohammad or Mona, citizens of Egypt, who have no say in the running of their country, their city or their neighborhood? What happens to a people who don't feel that their opinions matter - at all? For sure, some - the young, activists, intellectuals - will join in protests . Some join an opposition party or try to win a minority seat in a Parliament that the state party overwhelmingly dominates. (Egypt does have an elected Parliament unlike some other Arab governments.) In a country like Egypt, there are also effective nongovernmental organizations that work hard against the toughest odds - and make a difference.

But for your average citizen, what happens after years and years of feeling disenfranchised?

What I see is that many people stop trying, and they stop caring. The average Mohammad or Mona just drops out. They become passive. They let the government do as it pleases. Either way, the thinking goes, the state gets its way. If they do express an opinion, disagree or protest publicly, the results can be harassment, prison, even torture. (Under these circumstances who wouldn't turn to religion?)
Before I came to Egypt, I didn't think much about what it meant to live in a democracy. Now I do.

I don't understand what it is like to value democracy and individual freedom so little that you would move to Cairo and actually raise your children there. Or to value these things so little that you would vote for someone like George Bush. I don't want a world without them to grow up around my family's children, either. So, hey, be careful out there.
02:29 GMT

Saturday, 06 November 2004

Pretty pictures

Olympic Sunset

Autumn from Biomes Blog.

Maru also has a bit of autumn that isn't the usual super-saturated thing, just natural. And also the usual array of less pretty things.

The Iris Nebula and X-Rays from the Galactic Core
21:30 GMT

No Surrender

That's what Bruce says, and that's what Paul Krugman says: No Surrender:

[George] Bush isn't a conservative. He's a radical - the leader of a coalition that deeply dislikes America as it is. Part of that coalition wants to tear down the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt, eviscerating Social Security and, eventually, Medicare. Another part wants to break down the barriers between church and state. And thanks to a heavy turnout by evangelical Christians, Mr. Bush has four more years to advance that radical agenda.

Democrats are now, understandably, engaged in self-examination. But while it's O.K. to think things over, those who abhor the direction Mr. Bush is taking the country must maintain their intensity; they must not succumb to defeatism.
I don't hope for more and worse scandals and failures during Mr. Bush's second term, but I do expect them. The resurgence of Al Qaeda, the debacle in Iraq, the explosion of the budget deficit and the failure to create jobs weren't things that just happened to occur on Mr. Bush's watch. They were the consequences of bad policies made by people who let ideology trump reality.

(I want to emphasize that one phrase up there, the resurgence of Al Qaeda. It should be remembered - and reiterated as often as you can find an excuse to say it - that George W. Bush is directly responsible for the revival of the dying movement of Islamism that bin Laden and his cronies had been grasping to re-energize. It had been rejected by Muslims worldwide, both at home and abroad. The violence had appalled people. 9/11 had appalled them, too, and an American president with a lick of common sense would have known better than to empower them the way Bush has done. Only George W. Bush, ranting about evil and "dead or alive" and "evil-doers" and actually enunciating the word "crusade" for all to hear, was foolish enough to hand Islamism an enemy so hideously hateful that it made Al Qaeda look good to other Muslims.)
So what should the Democrats do?

One faction of the party is already calling for the Democrats to blur the differences between themselves and the Republicans. Or at least that's what I think Al From of the Democratic Leadership Council means when he says, "We've got to close the cultural gap." But that's a losing proposition.

Yes, Democrats need to make it clear that they support personal virtue, that they value fidelity, responsibility, honesty and faith. This shouldn't be a hard case to make: Democrats are as likely as Republicans to be faithful spouses and good parents, and Republicans are as likely as Democrats to be adulterers, gamblers or drug abusers. Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the country; blue states, on average, have lower rates of out-of-wedlock births than red states.

But Democrats are not going to get the support of people whose votes are motivated, above all, by their opposition to abortion and gay rights (and, in the background, opposition to minority rights). All they will do if they try to cater to intolerance is alienate their own base.

Absolutely. The Al From types have been damaging the party for years by trying to convince Democrats that they should try to resemble Republicans on issues. We've been over this territory numerous times, and the answer is always the same: When voters have a choice between a Republican and a Republican, they vote for the Republican. Why should they put their faith in a Republican who doesn't have the guts to call himself one?

And why should they put their faith in a Democrat who doesn't have the guts to stand up and be a liberal?

Rather than catering to voters who will never support them, the Democrats - who are doing pretty well at getting the votes of moderates and independents - need to become equally effective at mobilizing their own base.

In fact, they have made good strides, showing much more unity and intensity than anyone thought possible a year ago. But for the lingering aura of 9/11, they would have won.

What they need to do now is develop a political program aimed at maintaining and increasing the intensity. That means setting some realistic but critical goals for the next year.

Democrats shouldn't cave in to Mr. Bush when he tries to appoint highly partisan judges - even when the effort to block a bad appointment fails, it will show supporters that the party stands for something. They should gear up for a bid to retake the Senate or at least make a major dent in the Republican lead. They should keep the pressure on Mr. Bush when he makes terrible policy decisions, which he will.

Right. Stand for something the Republicans don't stand for. Stand for the things people really do want, not just things they don't want that you give pretty names to ("Healthy Forest Initiative" as a license to destroy the environment; "Social Security reform" as an excuse to destroy Social Security, "Prescription Drug Benefit" as a way to jack up prices on pharmaceuticals).

Krugman says it's okay to take some time off and enjoy the holidays, but we need to come back fighting.

Daily Kos, unsurprisingly, is full of ruminations on how to proceed in the fight. Meteor Blades talks about Mass Media and the Progressive Future, and DemFromCT has some suggestions for activism and contacts.

Bill Scher is looking at what Democrats have to do to build our infrastructure. "But we have a problem. We have no leaders," he says. I think we can solve that problem. And the other advantage to that is that even if he isn't the nominee, an apparent ground-swell of support behind a Gore candidacy would help refocus the cameras on him and his message.

Meanwhile, Frame Wars is that article about Luntz, Lakoff, and the language of the discourse that everyone's raving about:

In this struggle to control political reality through language, you don't dispute specific words or rebut the facts; you don't even attack your opponents' frames. What you do is assert your side's frame, making it so big, so omnipresent, so unavoidable that it's as natural as talking about the roundness of the Earth. Disputing such a fact seems counterintuitive. Even heretical.
And then for the nuts and bolts, you can watch Votergate, the movie about Bev Harris' sojourn into the bowels of Diebold machines and the power of commercial organizations run by Republicans to control your vote.
19:56 GMT

Unlock the vote

Goldstein at Enemy of the People has more on those discrepancies in Florida. Reminding us that it was the optical-scan machines that showed the really suspicious figures, he says:

The other side of the story is that a similar phenomenon, albeit less pronounced, is observed in the 2000 election. But Jeb was Gov in 2000, too. And remember, no one recounted the small counties, as Gore focused his firepower on the larger counties with potentially rich undercount totals. The interesting thing is that this phenomenon is virtually absent in the last pre-Jeb election in Florida, 1996, in which Bill Clinton even won some of these small counties. Sure, Bill was a southerner, but Gore was too. And Gore actually got a higher percentage of the statewide vote in 2000 than Clinton received in 1996.

Bottom line: since the Bushies have taken control of Florida, we've seen a tidal shift in the small counties to almost Saddam-like republican majorities.

There's a paper trail somewhere. It would be startling to find that they hadn't already covered their tracks, but even if they have there are people who know about this, and someone who will confound the Rove postulate that humans are infinitely corruptible.

These are small counties. Let's do some manual recounts and compare to the op-scan totals. It will not be a huge undertaking.

Faun Otter has also done an analysis, up at Scoop, Exit Polls Vs Actuals, with a useful introduction by Scoop's editor.

Black Box Voting has filed a bunch of Freedom of Information requests on the voting machines, and that's probably going to require a lot of money, so you might want to throw some in that direction. But that's principally for the touch-screens - I'm not sure anyone is going after those optical-scan machines Goldstein is talking about.
14:19 GMT

Voices of decency

Well, this is a surprise, considering how much Richard Cohen casually smeared him before:

If you set out to create the perfect Democratic presidential candidate, you would probably choose someone from the South or the border states, since John Kerry lost virtually the entire region on Tuesday, and someone who is comfortable talking the language of religion and values, since John Kerry was not, and someone whose wife is identified with conventional values, and, last, someone who took a very early position against the war in Iraq, which John Kerry did not. Such a person already exists and, as luck would have it, has a name: Al Gore.
And I really hope no one is seriously talking about Hillary Clinton, who would be a disastrous choice for a multitude of reasons.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden has two posts on moral issues up, one applauding a recent complaint by Amy Sullivan about sloppy pollsters and reporters using terms like "moral values" and "moral issues" as, "shorthand for very narrow, divisive issues like abortion and gay marriage, feeding into twenty years of Republican rhetoric," and omitting other important moral issues entirely. And another quoting Mark Schmidt:

The right question, I think, is not whether religion has an undue influence, but why it is that the current flourishing of religious faith has, for the first time ever, virtually no element of social justice? Why is its public phase so exclusively focused on issues of private and personal behavior? Is this caused by trends in the nature of religious worship itself? Is it a displacement of economic or social pressures? Will that change? What are the factors that might cause it to change?
And here is E.J. Dionne:
What's required is a sustained and intellectually serious effort by religious moderates and progressives to insist that social justice and inclusion are "moral values" and that war and peace are "life issues." As my wife and I prepared our three kids for school the day after the day after, we shared our outrage that we in Blue America are cast as opponents of "family values" simply because we don't buy the right wing's agenda. No political faction can be allowed to assert a monopoly on the family.
You know something? I think Al Gore would be really good at this.
05:40 GMT

The message

Obviously, I don't believe Bush really won the election, but just as obviously, it wasn't all done with machines - there are some parts of the country that were happy to vote for Bush without the help of machines, and in every part of the country (as the purple map below shows), there were people who were happy to vote for Bush anyway. Bear in mind, too, that in counties that were always expected to go for Bush, the devices in the machines that prevent accidentally losing your vote were less likely to be disabled. They were also less likely to be targetted for other forms of voter suppression. As were white people or people with names that sounded "white". If those people suddenly decided they weren't so fond of Republicans, it'd be a whole new ballgame with a greater likelihood that the good guys could win anyway.

Is there any reason why whites should be more likely to vote for a Republican? Any reason why someone raised on the Gospels should reject the teachings of Jesus and vote for someone who is clearly more interested in the fortunes of the rich than the poor, and more interested in the fortunes of war? Emphatically, no.

So, obviously, Democrats are doing something wrong by not managing to reach enough of those people - because if we can reach them, it may provide us with a way to beat the machines. Or The Machine.

It is also obvious that we need to expand our own control of the media, but if we do, we still need a way to make our message more accessible, and I'm interested in seeing what people suggest for that.

Matt Yglesias has some bullet points:

1. Shouldn't at least part of coping with the "moral values" problem involve some effort to do a better job of convincing people that more liberal positions than the ones they currently have are actually the correct ones?

2. More broadly, you've got to have a strategy for convincing people that at least some of your currently-unpopular ideas are ideas that they should like, not just a strategy for trying to figure out which ideas will be popular.

3. (1) and (2) above are less the task of campaigns than they are something other people need to be doing out in society when a campaign isn't happening.

4. Look at Harry Reid's actual record as an obstructionist before you leap to the conclusion that he's too electorally-vulnerable to be an effective Leader. Has he broken with the party on any major judicial or legislative votes? As far as I can tell, no.

4. Stop arguing about the reason Bush won (or Kerry lost), these things are multicausal. Elections are complicated.

5. Concretely, and in the very immediate future, reality-based individuals (included, but not limited to, Democratic elected officials) need to start talking about Iraq as a currently ongoing war and not a campaign issue.

6. A desire not to undercut Kerry's campaign has, to a large extent, constrained what reality-based individuals have been saying and doing about this. Now that that factor is gone, we need to start discussing, debating, and advocating various courses of action. My thoughts (like, I suspect, those of many others) on this matter are somewhat muddled at the moment, and only an open exchange of ideas will let people get clearer.

7. Liberals need to learn to talk the talk and walk the walk of nationalism better. Hopefully in some guise that doesn't simply involve invading countries at random. Michael Lind has historically had smart things to say about this, and hopefully will more such smart things to say in the future.

8. Who's figuring out what happened to the Latino vote? That's important. The news that highly religious conservative white people like George W. Bush, though much reported over the past 24 hours, is fairly banal. The fact that Democratic support is waning among Latinos is not banal.

9. Keep in mind that fighting like hell to block GOP legislation and fighting like hell to gain some Senate seats may not be mutually compatible goals. Due to constitutional design, there are many more solid Red states than solid Blue ones. The Senate Democratic caucus is therefore bound to be either small, or else disunited and more conservative than the party as a whole.

I don't agree with everything Matt says here, but I agree with most of it, and I do think these are all points worth discussing.

In the comments, James J. Kroeger (who appears to be from Tax Wisdom) responds to Matt's second point:

If Democrats want to know how to know how to make currently unpopular ideas appealing, they might want to ask themselves how it is that the Republicans have---once again---been able to persuade millions of Average Americans to vote against their own best interests?

The answer is that Republican strategists understand something that their Democratic counterparts do not: the state of mind of The Swing Voter. The typical Swing Voter knows that he does not understand the subtle details of the issues well enough to make a wise decision, so he relies on his "impressions" of the candidates. Is this candidate someone I can trust to rule over me? Understanding this, the Republicans focus all of their efforts on defining Democrats in the minds of the Swing Voter in a negative, vaguely threatening way. They do this by relying primarily on negative campaigning.

Republicans know that accusations and insinuations are persuasive to Swing Voters primarily because they are typically headline-readers and sound-byte-nibblers who do not seek out in-depth explanations of complex issues. If the media reports that a Republican has accused a Democrat of having a character flaw, the average Swing Voter will tend to believe it unless it is successfully answered. These attacks not only create a negative image of their opponents; they also implicitly suggest that Republicans are devoid of the character flaws they are attacking. It enables them to indirectly claim that they are noble & virtuous before the electorate.

Republicans understand precisely what they are doing when they speak disparagingly of "those Democrats." It's a variation of the "us vs. them" social comparisons that are so common among high school students. Throughout October, Swing Voters constantly saw video clips of George Bush standing in front of his adoring supporters, ridiculing John Kerry with his smirky smile. People do not tend---on a natural level---to want to be associated with those who are being ridiculed.

Average Americans who put Republican candidates into office with their votes do so because they are identifying with those whom they intuitively perceive to be social "winners." They don't understand all of the nuances of the issues, but they do have this impression that there is something "defective" with The Democrats. Once they've become invested in their identity with the Republican Party, they instinctively defend Republican policies even when those policies are likely to harm them. In order for the Democratic Party to win these Average Americans back, they must begin to fight fire with fire.

If they want to again become the majority party, Democrats need to define The Republican Politician as a DECEIVING, MANIPULATIVE, SCHEMING, MEAN-SPIRITED, CON-ARTIST who willfully and gleefully assassinates the character of any innocent victim that stands in the way of his rabid lust for power. They need to create an image of The Republican Politician in the minds of the Average American that is instinctively feared. In defining The Republican Politician as essentially manipulative, Democrats will also indirectly be defining themselves as The Protectors of the Average American.

Democrats tend not to want to participate in "character attacks" because they maintain an idealistic hope that a respectful debate of the issues of the day is possible in a civilized society, but they really have no choice: the Republicans have no such inhibitions. Every attack and accusation they make must be used to define them as smiling, disingenuous weasels. In doing so, Democrats must express both derision and wisdom and show an eagerness to explain what the Republicans are up to. They need to take the time to point out and explain in television commercials the misrepresentations, the deceptions, the intent, and the strategy of the Republican attacks.

It will also be important for Democrats to spend more and more time ridiculing the stupidity of Republican policies and---implicitly---those who embrace/defend them. This is necessary in order to socially isolate those who belong to the Republican Party (or to at least counteract the social pressure on Swing Voters that is created when Republicans ridicule Democrats). If the Democrats fail to do this, the Average American will not even listen to what they have to say re: "the issues." If their image of Democrats is sufficiently negative, they won't want to be persuaded because they'd want to protect an identity that had become very important to them.

This could be right. And let's not pretend that this is the same thing Karl Rove & Friends are doing when they attack Gore or Kerry or Democrats - Rove knows he's lying when he says these things about us. And he'll know we're telling the truth when we say them about the GOP.
02:42 GMT

Friday, 05 November 2004

Remember: They never stop thinking of new ways to harm our country

Kevin Drum said to read the whole thing, and if it's not scary enough already, it's actually in the LA Bleedin' Times Crikey!

Christian Conservatives Must Not Compromise
Voters reject liberalism, an evil ideology.

By Frank Pastore, Former major league pitcher Frank Pastore is the afternoon host on the Christian talk-radio station KKLA, 99.5 FM.

Christians, in politics as in evangelism, are not against people or the world. But we are against false ideas that hold good people captive. On Tuesday, this nation rejected liberalism, primarily because liberalism has been taken captive by the left. Since 1968, the left has taken millions captive, and we must help those Democrats who truly want to be free to actually break free of this evil ideology.

In the weeks and months to come, we will hear the voices of well-meaning people beseeching the victor to compromise with the vanquished. This would be a mistake. Conservatives must not compromise with the left. Good people holding false ideas are won over only if we defeat what is false with the truth.

The left must be defeated in the realm of ideas, just as it was on Tuesday at the ballot box. The left hates the ballot box and loves its courtrooms, which is why it hopes to continue to advance its agenda through the courts. This must end.

I'm not going to reproduce the whole thing. I'm not even going to try to respond to its content, because, you know, it causes my jaw to drop and work voicelessly.

However, I do want to say that it's only fair, after we had all those op-eds in the mainstream press during the Clinton administration by people like Alexander Cockburn and all those other people who, oh, wait, I've never even heard of because you just never do get serious left-wing fruitbats trashing the opposition, you just get other right-wing fruitbats trashing liberals - just not quite as viciously as this.

Please let this be an anomaly that will not be repeated after the deluge of (polite but) horrified letters you're all going to send them.
22:03 GMT

Anti-terrorism law snares anglers

Two anglers are to appear in court under anti-terrorism laws after they were caught fishing at a port without permission.

Must've been that nookyuhlar fishin'.
21:35 GMT

Look, we're not joking

Above is the thumbnail version of a chart, posted by Mary at The Left Coaster, which she explains this way:

This graphic shows how the exit polls correspond to the tallyed votes for paper ballots vs electronic voting machines (first row shows the paper ballots, the bottom two rows show what the electronic systems recorded).
Now, you can believe that a whole load of Republicans lied about how they voted only in places that used certain machines, or it seems fairly clear that the machines weren't telling us the truth. And, by an amazing coincidence, the "errors" these machines made all favored Republican candidates.

Republicans are gloating that this proves the American public agrees with them and not with Democrats, but there is nothing we know about the American public that would support that.

Do a lot of people care about gay marriage? Maybe, but a majority of Americans seem to be okay with gay civil unions (they just don't like calling it "marriage"), and the percentage who actually consider that issue to be more important than others cannot possibly outweigh the many groups who got out to vote against Bush. (Most Americans don't even believe that gays shouldn't be able to teach. I don't think they lose any sleep at night over the idea that members of gay couples will be able to name their partners as their legal next of kin and community-property inheritors.)

Seriously. Young people (despite what you may have heard) did get out and vote in greater numbers than they had been, and they supported Kerry by a huge majority. Many people who were much more reliable Bush voters four years ago either voted for Kerry or did not vote: many evangelical Christians expressed dismay at how Bush had done less than nothing to live up to his claim that Jesus was his favorite philosopher; the military voted in much smaller numbers this year than they have in the past; much of the libertarian right abandoned the Republican Party; military families were polled as supporting Kerry by at least 4 percentage points; mainstream Republicans by leaps and bounds repudiated Bush and said they would either vote for Kerry or not vote. In addition, a clear majority of 2000 Nader voters moved to Kerry; older people were furious at the rip-off that Bush's prescription drug plan turned out to be; and so on.

As Randi Rhodes keeps saying, those people down in Palm Beach and Broward counties did not stand in line for hours in the hot sun just to vote for more of the same.

And I'm supposed to believe that Kerry ended up with only five or six million more votes than Gore? No way. No more than I believe Rove came up with an extra nine-and-a-half million more people who are terrified of gay marriage.

It's not security, either. With increasing numbers of mainstream Republicans, generals and other military brass, and even conservative magazines and their editors and publishers, speaking up about Bush's atrocious stewardship - on the air - it is inconceivable that more people support Bush than did before the invasion.

Bush did not win the election; the machines did.

Mary says it's time to get mad. So get mad. And find some way to fix this thing. It won't be easy. It will take money and thinking. Don't get so mad you can't think. We can't afford that.
18:49 GMT


Yahoo has a report on the car-wreck issue of Newsweek about the campaign that is painful to look at. For one thing, it's full of blatherings from people who really should have kept their mouths shut. Look, the Republicans can get away with this stuff but Democrats can't. It becomes ammunition for the RNC and the broadcast media will certainly use that against the Democrats. And as I've been saying for a lot longer than four years, and as Bill Scher has also been saying all year, campaign aides should not be talking to the press this way. Ever. Aside from hurting the candidate and hurting the party they claim to support (and whatever else he does, Kerry still has to try to be an effective Senator), it just keeps people's eye off of the real issues, and validates the idea that the news is about the process rather than about the issues.

But, of course, with it there in front of your face, you're like any rubber-necker and you have to look. And when you do, you see just what's wrong with the New Democrats, and how it is that they can't seem to resist putting all this crap out for the press in the first place:

Clinton Advice Spurned. Looking for a way to pick up swing voters in the Red States, former President Bill Clinton, in a phone call with Kerry, urged the Senator to back local bans on gay marriage. Kerry respectfully listened, then told his aides, "I'm not going to ever do that."
Yes, selling-out Americans is a great liberal idea, Bill. And alienating an important constituency (not just gays, but everybody else who finds the victimization of gays appalling) is a brilliant strategy. Kerry shouldn't have "listened politely"; Kerry should have said, "How can you even suggest that?" (Jeez, did this really even happen?)

Some of you may have wondered why the appalling Susan Estrich is even called a "liberal" when she appears on the talking-head shows. Dig this:

In early August, when the Swift Boat story started to pick up steam on the talk shows, Susan Estrich, a California law professor, well-known liberal talking head and onetime campaign manager for Michael Dukakis, had called the Kerry campaign for marching orders. She had been booked on Fox's "Hannity & Colmes" to talk about the Swift Boat ads. What are the talking points? Estrich asked the Kerry campaign. There are none, she was told. Estrich was startled. She had seen this bad movie before.
So, instead of doing what any sensible person would do and talk about how outrageous these lies are (quoting a certain Commandment wouldn't have hurt), she ended up on those shows repeating RNC talking-points, because she's an idiot. All over America, people who have no credentials at all and no relationship to the campaign were staring at their TV sets in horror as utter crap came out of Estrich's mouth because they knew what the correct response should be to this pack of prevarications, and they quite rightly wondered what the hell she was doing on that show if not to promote the RNC's talking-points. If this was her problem, why the hell didn't she do her own homework instead of asking the campaign for talking-points? But she didn't. Not because she's an RNC shill, apparently, but because she's an idiot who doesn't know on her own how not to sound just like one.

But, as far as the blubbering campaign aides are concerned, you know I'm with Jeralyn and Oliver on this: "Shut up. Shut up. The media is not your friend."
16:01 GMT

On the map

(From Boing Boing, via Kos)

This probably isn't evidence of election fraud.

12thharmonic sorts out some Cognitive Dissonance: There are questions about the reliability of the exit polls. The exit polls are reliable, the vote results are not. The exit polls matched the vote in every place with a paper trail, the vote `mysteriously' gave Bush a lead that contradicted the exit polls in every area without a paper trail- Come on people!!!

Hilariously, Dick Morris also smelled something fishy in the difference between some exit polls and the voting tabulations. Read Susan at Suburban Guerilla for some wonderful Morris wisdom.

EOP seems to be suggesting that something fishy went on in - oh, you guessed.

The Wall Street Journal posts a correction.

The administration has now revealed who the real enemy is.

The People have spoken, and Giblets has won. He will unite us!
05:53 GMT

Thursday, 04 November 2004

A couple things

Take a look at the Surprising Pattern of Florida's Election Results: What seems very odd in these numbers is that the increase in ACTUAL votes over EXPECTED votes for REPs has a striking pattern of being so much higher than that for DEMs in counties using optical scan voting machines. It's generally clear that there are some strange numbers in districts using e-voting. Here's a page with some other links.

Toys in Japan are not entirely work-safe. (via)
17:28 GMT

The murderous meme

Bill Scher asks What Happened? What Now? and looks at the problem of debunking stereotypes when you're not in power:

Lies stick when people find them believable.

And Democrats have a wimp stereotype that makes such lies believable.

How can you get past a stereotype?

Dems thought nominating a veteran would do the trick (and that is the main reason Kerry was nominated), but we learned it's not that simple.

The problem is, you usually can only debunk a stereotype by being in power and having the opportunity to directly debunk it.

In the 1980s, post-Jimmy Carter, GOPers were able to paint all Dems as irresponsible stewards of the economy.

Since Dems didn't have any control of the economy, they couldn't prove otherwise.

Then, Poppy Bush screwed up the economy, nullifying the GOP's argument of economic superiority.

And when Clinton was in charge, he did such a good job, the stereotype was debunked, and now Dems have the good economy rep.

But Dems haven't had the opportunity to show their stuff fighting terror since it became a prominent issue.

And Clinton's record on it has been unfairly maligned (easily accomplished, thanks to the stereotype).

No, it's worse than that, because Clinton does, in fact, have a good record on terrorism - he stopped at least two major planned attacks on the mainland US during his term, as compared to Bush, who failed to stop one that he had been told to expect. (I expected it without being told; it was obvious that the people who had attacked the WTC in 1993 really liked that target and would try again if they could. It was only a question of when.)

The trouble is, the better you really are at stewardship of a nation in terms of things like war and terrorism, the less visible it usually is, because if you're that good, nothing happens. A good president finesses the likelihood of war with good diplomacy, and a good president enforces a professional intelligence ethos that keeps an eye out for criminal conspiracies and prevents them without intruding on the private lives of the rest of us.

George H.W. Bush's administration knew that Saddam Hussein had what he regarded as a border problem with Kuwait, and they were in a position to tell Saddam they wouldn't look kindly on a move against Kuwait - and instead they said they didn't care. Without that error (if it was not deliberate), we never had our first war with Saddam's Iraq.

In other words, it was GHWB's poor stewardship that led to that war, just as it was his son's poor stewardship that led directly to both 9/11 (because he did not take seriously the many warnings he had about Islamist terrorism) and to the insane idea that it was smart to invade Iraq and try to pirate its resources without even trying to secure the peace there.

It has to be understood that part of the Republicans' success at being "War leaders" is that they either manage to create wars where no need for war existed or they manage to exploit emergencies at the expense of the real peace and security of American life in the most craven and cynical way, as the current administration has done.

In addition, they make sure that even the most necessary and sensible measures on the part of Democratic presidents are dismissed as something other than good stewardship - such as the use of the "wag the dog" meme when Clinton attempted to go after bin Laden. Republicans, either cynically or because they had brainwashed themselves with their own rhetoric, created a mindset in which terrorism was an imaginary threat that Clinton was trying to exploit, and presented no threat at all. That was their pre-9/11 thinking, though it was not that of the Democratic leadership.

Jimmy Carter has a bad rap for how he dealt with the hostage crises, but how many times have you heard Republicans present a coherent and workable plan for what Carter should have done? The fact is, their entire argument about Carter's performance was that, well, he was Jimmy Carter. (My personal feeling is that Carter actually did have ways to avoid what happened in Tehran, but that was before the hostages were taken and is not the part that people criticize Carter for. All of their criticisms seem to be about what he did after the taking of hostages. But what, exactly, did they expect him to do? Whatever it was, they don't seem to explain it in public.)

What the October surprise story is about is the fact that some Republicans were terrified that Carter would save the situation with diplomacy and manage to bring the hostages home before the election took place. And it appears he might have except for two things.

One was that Reagan publicly stated that the kidnappers would get a better deal from him than they would from Carter. Such a statement, by itself, would undercut any negotiations Carter's diplomats were trying to sort out with the students in Tehran. Understand, this is not conspiracy theory: This is an on-the-record statement by Reagan during his campaign.

The evidence is that George H.W. Bush himself was probably working behind the scenes to slow down any release of the hostages, in the classic Republican manner of working their own, separate foreign policy at odds with that of the US government whenever they are not actually in the White House themselves. The New Republic and Newsweek were the first with the story, but it soon became obvious that the story was too hot. Eventually, Newsweek let their reporter, Robert Parry, know they'd rather not have him pursue the story. Some absurd alibis were produced to prove that no one from the Reagan team had ever met with anyone to interfere with Carter's negotiations, and this became the common wisdom. So, although the alibis themselves were debunked, it was not a story that really reached the public, and became consigned to the "conspiracy theory" bin. However, it's fairly clear that the Reagan-Bush team did make at least some attempt to interfere with the release of the hostages, and the story culminates with Carter's finally getting them onto planes home on the morning of Reagan's inauguration.

But Clinton actually had no big screw-ups because he was doing his job well. America's security depends on both a healthy economy and an unobtrusive but efficient intelligence apparatus. In high-contrast to his predecessors and his successor, Clinton appears to have learned very early in his term not to be caught off-guard after the '93 bombing. That Bush2 did not understand that (or didn't care) is what led directly to 9/11. And, in classic form, he exploited it to his own advantage for all it was worth, at the expense of the American people, our soldiers, and the people of Iraq.

In order for Democrats to give the appearance of being as "good" at national security as Republicans have been, they would have to do things that are similarly to the disadvantage of America and world peace. If they are not prepared to actually murder, or allow for the murder, of thousands of people, they would at the very least have to be willing to compromise our security apparatus by loudly trumpeting their heroic efforts to prevent terrorism by exposing the means by which they have done it.

Unless, of course, we were blessed with a news media that was prepared to examine these things for what they really are. In the 1990s we had a press that had been unwilling to put GHWB under scrutiny but could not resist painting everything Clinton did as a cynical device to manipulate the public. By 2001 they could not even bring themselves to ask how, with everything that we already knew, George W. Bush's White House had been unable to see the second attack on the WTC coming. Anyone who did ask that question was at best dismissed as a conspiracy theorist if not vociferously vilified. The public record now vindicates those who did ask that question, but most of our press corps still refuses to address it honestly.

And so, it is clear that without creating a balancing media apparatus to counteract a largely lazy, cowed press corps that is controlled by Republicans, little can be done to redress the problem Bill describes above.
16:03 GMT

The view from abroad

They never hated us, you know. They loved us. And that's why they hate Bush. Because Bush is destroying the thing they loved. But they still love us, believe it.


You were, in many respects, our better angels, the idealistic kid who told the grumpy adults, the miser and the wastrel and the drunk and the wife who let her husband beat her, that things and people should just be gosh-darned better than they were. And that is broke and there is no fixing it.
It's not my election, except that it is, because I want to have a world to live in, in the future, and because I witness the pain, grief, bewilderment, anger and numbness in my friends. I feel so helpless in the face all of this because I can provide no comfort, just words, words and more words.
It's been a long tough day for many of you. Be kind to yourselves, be kind to your loved ones, go to bed and sleep well. Tomorrow ... who knows, but it makes sense to face the battles ahead having rested. Good night.
We all need a good night's sleep.
04:44 GMT

Girl Stuff

Susie Bright has done her morning after post, and has a few words to say about the morality of our supposedly moral Republican leaders and mouthpieces. (Speaking of which, maybe you should read yet another excursion into faux morality by the self-righteous windbag who Radley Balko refers to as Bill "One-Armed" Bennett for a fine example of precisely the sort of thing Susie is talking about. Or maybe you should just read Balko, who has a good take on the old creep.)

Where was I? Oh, yeah, Susie:

Now here's the thing: Republicans have morality scandals coming out of their ears. There's apparently no shortage of queers, perverts, adulterers, degenerate gamblers, drug addicts, alcoholics, family deserters, rapists, swingers, personal ad groupies, and prostitutes among them. A fair amount of them in the public eye were outed over the past year. They do everything that's naughty ten times naughtier than anyone else.
And speaking of sex, our girl Wendy McElroy has put her book, XXX: A Woman's Right to Pornography, on line in easy-to-read HTML for those who haven't seen it yet. I read it back when it was originally published in '95 and it's been on my recommended reading list ever since. Give it a look.

On a less sexy note Jeanne D'Arc is down with a cold and a headache and the blues. Leave her some get-well wishes and tell her how much we all value her. And Julia has some advice for us all.

Finally, Elayne Riggs found a little something to make us feel better.
03:12 GMT

It's the media

Too Little, Too Late, by Robert Parry

George W. Bush's electoral victory is chilling proof that the conservatives have achieved dominance over the flow of information to the American people and that even a well-run Democratic campaign stands virtually no chance for national success without major changes in how the news media operates.

It is not an exaggeration to say today that the most powerful nation on earth is in the grip of an ideological administration - backed by a vast network of right-wing think tanks, media outlets and attack groups - that can neutralize any political enemy with smears, such as the Swift boat ads against John Kerry's war record, or convince large numbers of people that clearly false notions are true, like Saddam Hussein's link to the Sept. 11 attacks.

The outcome of Election 2004 also highlights perhaps the greatest failure of the Democratic/liberal side in American politics: a refusal to invest in the development of a comparable system for distributing information that can counter the Right's potent media infrastructure. Democrats and liberals have refused to learn from the lessons of the Republican/conservative success.

Conservatives bought broadcast and cable media, and they filled it with people who sounded passionate and committed. They created magazines and filled them with people who were prepared to single-mindedly go after their opponents without having to worry about funding. They got young people who were vigorous in their opposition and took them off the leash.

That's pretty much the opposite of what the Democrats have done.

Meanwhile, I've been meaning to apologize to you all for neglecting my mail, but that's just how things have been. However, here's something I got today from Richard Bensam:

The one real winner here is Diebold, whose CEO was allowed to deliver exactly what he promised: enough votes to keep George Bush in office. Why is anyone surprised by that?

Kerry's swift concession does a lot worse than give the Bush administration a blank check for the next four years...though that by itself would be more than bad enough. What I fear even more is that it sends the message that what Diebold has done is perfectly okay and not worth challenging.

Even if the outcome couldn't be changed, a challenge would have pointed a harsh light on their tactics. Giving in without one will only make it a thousand times harder for the next fool who bothers to run against Diebold's favored candidate to challenge any obviously doctored results. Those machines will be a lot more widespread in four years time...and make no mistake, they WILL be controlled by Republicans. And Kerry didn't think this was worth even challenging.

You had it right the first time: how dare he?

I agree. I know they said in their concession presentation that they were still planning to get all the votes counted, but it just doesn't count for as much if those votes are essentially moot. The only way the media will really pay any attention is if the election is still hanging on it. And don't think for a minute Karl Rove wouldn't be challenging if things were the other way around.
01:48 GMT

Wednesday, 03 November 2004

What next?


Gaman. It's a Japanese word. It means "enduring patience", or "sit tight and let the ordeal wash over you".

The other phrase that gets used too often in conjunction with it is "shikata ga nai". "There is nothing to be done."

That's why so many Nikkei went off to the internment camps, instead of struggling against it.

Not me.

Not me.
Sorry, Grandmama. I'm going to disturb the "wa".

Deb Notkin:
We have three choices: we can leave, which (as our friends who are not citizens of this country will tell us) will hardly save us from the effects of the Imperial Presidency. We can give in to despair. Or we can live as if what we do matters, even when we feel the most victimized, the least powerful. Let's face it, those of us with computers, and LiveJournals, and roofs over our heads are not the most victimized.

Here's playwright and inspiration Tony Kushner:

I believe our despair is a lie we are telling ourselves. In many other periods of history, people, ordinary citizens, routinely set aside hours, days, time in their lives for doing the work of politics, some of which is glam and revolutionary and some of which is dull and electoral and tedious and not especially pure -- and the world changed because of the work they did. That's what we're starting now. It requires setting aside the time to do it, and then doing it. Not any single one of us has to or possibly can save the world, but together in some sort of concert, in even not-especially-coordinated concert, with all of us working where we see work to be done, the world will change. And we have to do it by showing up places, our bodies in places, turn off the fucking computers, leave the Web and the Net -- and show up, our bodies at meetings and demos and rallies and leafletting corners.
I really, really don't think the answer is moving here, but if you really do, Feorag has advice for how you'd do it. But you know you can't escape by moving away - their effects will reach you anywhere. And if you do leave, you will still feel the frustration of not being there where you might be able to do something.

I find it hard to believe that not only did I call this election wrong, but so did Hunter Thompson and George McGovern.

Josh Marshall is not in the mood for levity. Me, I say, look on the bright side: At least they can't blame the next four years on the Democratic president.
22:42 GMT

In the wreckage

A comment at Eschaton to this open thread:

Bush's numbers in the Route One corridor and Palm Beach County indicate that a huge number of registered Democrats stood in line for hours to keep Bush in office.

...even though the exit polls say they didn't -- and the voting machines they used cannot be examined.
Ed McGloin

And the next one:
How is it that these last two times, the exit polls are wrong? Are people REALLY not voting for whom the say they are - or is their vote not getting recorded correctly?

God, there can't really be that many idiots in this country... or can there?

At Media Matters yesterday, MSNBC website claimed registration deadlines have passed -- even for states that allow Election Day registration. I guess we know they are too lazy and stupid for us to be sure they were deliberately participating in Rove's election fraud plan - but then, we don't call 'em "MSGOP" for nothin'.

Hesiod has said this is the end of his posting come-back at Counterspin Central. His analysis blames the "overhyped, overrated Democratic voter GOTV operation" for the debacle. But I don't. I blame the Democrats for playing too safe for too long instead of standing up for what we really believe in, which is what really gets out the vote - but I still don't know how many of our voters we really did get out, and I don't know that we ever will. So I still blame Karl Rove.

Matt cautions "anyone against deluding themselves into believing that a second Bush term won't be so bad," and says we'll be looking at "Bush Unleashed". Kevin Drum says he "half agrees" - or at least thinks there's still a chance to stop the more radical parts of his agenda. I think Kevin is still giving people too much credit. His early analysis is called Before the bloodletting, but he wrote it before Kerry conceded, for which he deserves to be roundly castigated. It was the first promise to us he had a chance to break, and he broke it. But Kevin does say:

Did I say 1% of the vote in one state? Does that sound familiar? That's two nailbiters in a row for "Landslide Karl," not exactly the stuff of political legend. On the other hand, he did do it with George Bush as a candidate, and I guess that counts for something.
Well, yeah, it does, since he had to convince a majority of Bush's supporters that they should support him because they believed things that were widely known to be untrue.

Steve at No More Mister Nice Blog:

Small comfort, I know, but John Kerry's vote total exceeded that of any other presidential candidate in history, apart from his opponent -- and yet we're going to be told what a big loser he was. And George W. Bush has now driven 50 million people to the polls to vote against him twice, something that's never been done before -- recall that Al Gore has the fourth-highest popular vote total ever. Yet we're going to hear that what Bush stands for is what the country as a whole believes. Bush won a big victory, but we were a 50-50 nation four years ago, and we're not very different now.
Kos explains the math for why Kerry should not have conceded.

Eric Alterman says it's "(Still) A Land of Hopes and Dreams" although there's More 'them' than 'us'. I disagree that there are more of 'them' in the sense that they actually agree with Bush's policies; they don't. The problem is that there are more of those who don't know what Bush has actually been doing than there are of 'us' who pay attention to what's going on.

The Rude Pundit had trouble voting (but was amazingly non-rude about it).

Be of Good Cheer, says Jim Henley, who continues:

At least I get to keep my liberal readership. I already alienated all the conservatives. A Kerry presidency would have swiftly reduced me to two dozen libertarians I know at parties and sundry indulgent friends.

What? It's not all about me? Well if that's your attitude, the only thing I have for you is that the Bush Administration will not be able to get out the door before its irremediable clusterfucks . . . fuck clusters. Or whatever. Iraq is not fixable. When it goes definitively kablooey, its architects will not be safely tucked away in their ranches and sinecures, able to tut-tut that if only we had stayed the course . . . Plus we are reminded once again of the genius of HL "Democracy is the theory that the people know what they want and deserve to get it - good and hard" Mencken.

The downside? Oh, little things, like returning to office the government that

*asserted that the executive can unilaterally and unreviewably strip any citizen of citizenship and declare any non-citizen an "enemy combatant" without rights;
*argued in its work papers that the President is not bound by either domestic or international laws of war because - he's the President! and it's a war!

Steve Clemons says Democrats need to clean house:
I am going to sleep. But a quick set of thoughts, all of which I might later regret. First, I think Gephardt would have at least pulled Missouri. What states -- if any -- did John Edwards bring in?

Second, Howard Dean avoided, for the most part, hiring the Democratic crowd of Brezhnevian-like advisors who clung like barnacles to previous Democratic administrations. Dean was different, wanted to be different -- but Kerry wanted to be the same.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden says, "225 years is a pretty good run for a republic, historically speaking." In the comments, Larry Brennan says, "Bush said he hit the Trifecta last time. What do you call it when four of your horses come in?" And Ellen says, "The Apocalypse?"

I understand how Patrick feels, and I admit that a few times today I've felt like if I let myself go there the tears would start to well up. (Listening to Paul Krugman talking about what we can expect the economy to do hasn't helped.)

BUT: I know what a self-fulfilling prophecy is, by God, and I know we have no morality of our own if we refuse to stand up against the stunning immorality of our current leadership. We must fight, because we have no choice.

Yes, I feel the heartbreak. Nevertheless, I love my country and I feel a soul-deep desire to see us moved back onto the path of justice, and though I know it won't happen any time soon (and I know that I could be declared an "enemy combatant" any minute now and deprived of my citizenship - and my vote), I don't see that there is any alternative to working to try to stop these people.

I expect we'll be talking about that more in the next few days. Think carefully about what you think that should mean.
18:47 GMT

It's over?

I was hoping for a Kerry landslide, but obviously that didn't happen. I went to bed when I saw what was happening.

The only big difference when I got up was that some states had been called or were starting to be called by some networks even though there are millions of ballots that still need to be counted in those states. It's not new that the RNC is calling for Kerry to resign - they were already doing that even when those states seemed wide open for Kerry. Gosh, what does that remind you of?

Well, we were warned that Ohio would probably be "the new Florida", and so far it is. The election workers in Ohio went to bed around the same time I did, so they still have plenty of counting to do.

Could provisional ballots alone do the job? Kevin Drum says no, but in fact they haven't reported the number of provisional ballots they have to count yet (and even that information isn't due until 2:00 in the afternoon). They won't be counted until the absentee ballots are counted, which the Secretary of State (a Republican) says will not happen for ten days, since they won't have received all of the absentees yet. Unlike Katherine Harris in 2000, he is therefore refusing to call the election. (A lot of people voted absentee precisely because they were afraid their votes would be lost altogether in Diebold country.)

The thing that's been worrying me is that for a long time the Democratic leadership acted like none of these problems existed and then announced late in the campaign that we weren't going to let it happen again because this time they would have lawyers ready to fly to trouble spots. So there are lots of lawsuits ready to go in Ohio, but where were they when Diebold was being installed in all sorts of places with the clear intent to obscure rather than count the vote? That was the time to start "making sure it doesn't happen again."

But of course, I'm wrong, because the time to start making sure was four years ago when they stood blinking in the sun and watched Florida get stolen. (And you can't just blame Gore for that when it's clear that the rest of the Dem leadership was not prepared to express proper outrage that the votes were not being counted before it got to court. Instead, they were all just writing it off before the minimum requirements of Florida's recount laws had been met. Most people still have no idea that over 180,000 Florida ballots were never counted at all, though the law requires that they all be counted.)

Similarly, there has been a curious silence about the removal of alleged "felons" from voting rolls when it is clear they are legitimate voters. This involves literally millions of voters who have a right to vote, but can't. (Most of those removed improperly in 2000 still have not be reinstated in Florida.) For some reason the party leadership seems to have given up on this one a long time ago, apparently accepting RNC spin that if someone says you were convicted of a crime in 2007, well, who cares about criminals? For some reason, they don't seem to find it suspicious that this is happening in important swing states - Florida, Ohio, Colorado and New Mexico - where shaving the margin has one obvious purpose, and it certainly isn't to prevent vote fraud.

But make no mistake, Andrew Card is full of it when he says they have Ohio; we don't know who has Ohio.

The worst news is that we lost Congressional seats. Even with Kerry in the White House, that would make it difficult-to-impossible to undo the damage of the last four years.

And I was about to post this without the next paragraph when I heard on AAR that Kerry had conceded:

How dare he? We had ten days to at least find out what went wrong and keep the media focused on the election. Giving up now is giving in to the RNC spin they trucked out four years ago that speed is more important than Democracy. And he promised that every vote would count. How dare he?

Here's CNN's map. Response to exit poll questions frequently meshed painfully with expectations. For example:

VOTE BY INCOME                    BUSH  KERRY  NADER

Less Than $100,000 (82%)           48%   51%     1%

$100,000 or More   (18%)           57%   41%     1%

IN IRAQ?                          BUSH  KERRY  NADER

Well               (43%)           90%    9%     1%

Badly              (52%)           17%   82%     0%
I don't believe for a minute that Rove managed to pull out more voters than we did. I just hope we can find some way to straighten out election law and get rid of those machines before we lose everything forever.
16:24 GMT

Swinging London

I'm back from the ICA, which was packed like a Saturday night, but not as drunk. I was astonished to learn that only about 14 of them were Americans, but lots of Brits and a few other Europeans were there to be nervous wrecks together. Amy asked everyone why they hate Americans and they all said they didn't, they just hated American foreign policies. It was friendly and noisy only one person present (an American) claimed to support Bush. She said it was because she thought it was important to continue the important fight against terrorism as Bush was doing. I wish I could have sat down and asked her what made her think he was doing any such thing.

So now I'm watching Peter Snow wander around his giant floor map and explain what time they expect to get the numbers in.
00:23 GMT

Tuesday, 02 November 2004

Things I haven't finished reading

I'm off to the ICA for a few hours, so here's some stuff I'll be looking at more thoroughly when I get back.

The Choice.

Bill Scher says he plans to blog the election at Liberal Oasis all night long. His current post sizes up the map.

Tom from Opinions You should Have has an article in the NYT, The Revolution Will Be Posted.

The Detroit Free Press on dirty Republican tricks in Michigan.

Jimmy Breslin explains Why Kerry will beat Bush.
18:58 GMT

More stories

Bangladeshi's demonstrating to show their support for Kerry
In Bangladesh, they make their feelings known.

Okay, I think I've fixed that broken image link below, now.

Here's a story about election flyers of dubious provenance circulating this week, but scroll down a bit to see the anti-Daschle flyer that recalls the old "No dogs, no Indians" signage that used to be found around his state.

If you're not familiar with Operation Truth yet, now would be a good time to check out their site - they're Iraq Vets who are trying to alert people to what's really going on over there. While you're there, check out their TV ad, "Not There", (in Windows or QuickTime, and then read about what happened when they tried to air it on cable channels.

At one of those stations, the History Channel, top executives made the decision to refuse to air the ad, saying that when they aired ads by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, it "generated several angry emails and phone calls," according to a representative from the History Channel.
Hm, maybe they deserve some more angry emails and phone calls, eh?

Interesting, MTV, which is airing "Mosh", declined to air this ad because they regarded it as too political, but Fox, although they had to be pushed a bit, did agree to air the ad. Believe me, "Mosh" is a whole lot more political than the OpTruth ad.

VCR Alert: BBC2 will be airing two of the Mark Steel Lectures tomorrow night (on Sigmund Freud, at 11:30 to midnight, and Charles Darwin, from midnight to half-twelve). If you've never had the pleasure, let me heartily recommend Mark's smart and witty style. (As an interesting footnote, the Beeb had originally scheduled two others from this series to air tonight, but apparently it occurred to them that there was some other subject they might want to cover tonight.)

And here's a little picture that I hope will amuse you.
17:26 GMT

Why we fight

Jeanne D'Arc at Body and Soul looks at an article in Slate:

Jack Shafer thinks that if you read only the New York Times' Al QaQaa coverage, you missed important details and caveats. I rarely defend the Times, but I think in this case they're the only ones who kept their eyes on the important parts of the story.
The "details and caveats", of course, turn out to be no more than the various conflicting stories the White House threw out in an attempt to convince people that what happened at Al QaQaa did not happen (and doesn't matter). Since it pretty obviously did happen, we can only surmise that the White House realized the story was more important than they are trying to make out. It's emblematic, as Jeanne says, of how little they ever really cared about anything other than invading Iraq and getting Saddam and Iraq's oil.
Basically, the criticism that this story is not as dramatic as it seems because it's only a small part of what the Bush administration has screwed up when it comes to flooding Iraq with weapons is very weird. Is the fact that they screwed up more than the NYT gave them credit for supposed to provide absolution?

I've been wondering this week why I got so caught up in this story. It tells me nothing I didn't already know about this administration. All I can speculate is that what drew me to it -- and I think this is the same thing that John Kerry found useful in repeating it -- is that it's the telling detail every storyteller looks for. We know that Bush went to war with no concern for either the truth or the consequences of his actions. Bloggers have been keeping records of all his failures and lies over the last 18 months, and to some extent even before the war. Ironically, he's almost protected by the audacity of his deception. There have been so many lies, and so many horrible mistakes, that only obsessive people keep up with them. The rest wave them away. They need one clear story to understand.

You won't find a clearer single emblem of the gross error than going in to a country to look for weapons and then not only failing to secure the weapons, but opening the doors and leaving them wide open for any of the people we've been told to be so fearful of to come and get them. All the obvious lies and pathetic cover-ups that have been tried out since the NYT's story are the revelatory gestures that, if this were fiction, would be exactly what I'd be looking for to create a character. Since this isn't fiction, they're the gestures that tell the truth.

But Bush's supporters would rather believe the lies, and therefore prefer to put credence in hackwork from the highly partisan right-wing media and its obvious excuse-making than pay attention to the fact that the administration's actions have been to facilitate terrorism rather than eliminate it.

Don't forget to get out the vote today. As Al Franken keeps reminding us, Paul Wellstone used to say, "The future belongs to those who are passionate and work hard." That had better be us, because we've seen what happens when it's them.
12:59 GMT

Do the right thing

Our fathers bled at Valley Forge, the snow was red with blood
Their faith was worn at Valley Forge,
Their faith was brotherhood.
Wasn't that a time, wasn't that a time?
A time to try the soul of men,
Wasn't that a terrible time?

The wars are long, the peace is frail, the madmen come again.
There is no freedom in a land, where fear and hate prevail.
Isn't this a time, isn't this a time?
A time to try the soul of men,
Isn't this a terrible time?

Wasn't That A Time, Hays/Seeger/Gilbert/Brooks/Coigney
04:23 GMT

More reasons to get the vote out

At Salon, Gary Kamiya writes about the American nightmare:

Yes, everything changed after Sept. 11: The country lost its mind. Heretical as it is to say, the terror attacks proved that it is possible to overreact -- more specifically, to react foolishly -- to an attack that left 3,000 dead. Bush launched America upon a rash and pointless war that is likely to go down in history as one of the greatest foreign policy disasters in U.S. history. The war achieved exactly what it was designed to prevent: It has strengthened radical Islam and increased the number of terrorists. The explosives debacle at Al-Qaqaa perfectly encapsulates this bitter irony: We invaded Iraq to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of terrorists, but the invasion put those weapons in their hands. In Greek tragedy, this is a classic punishment for hubris. In "The Twilight Zone," it's a favorite plot twist. The Bush presidency has been a tale out of Aeschylus, adapted by Rod Serling.
I can't wait 'til it's over.
03:09 GMT

More things to read while you bite your nails

You c*n't say that: "I find that word incredibly, incredibly, incredibly repulsive," she added.

Bill Scher is on the ground in Colorado, where he says things look a whole lot better than the polls would make you think.

Modulator says, "I don't think the bra of the week will fit."

Catholic Group Condemns Bush for 'Moral Failures'

Why the press is wrong about the Valerie Plame case: If you witness a crime and are called to testify about it, you have two choices: do it or go to jail.

In the first ever mobile phone poll, Zogby gives Kerry a 15-pont lead.

David Neiwert has compiled a Thug watchlist over at Orcinus.

The most liberal Senator? Nah, he's not even in the top ten.
01:35 GMT

Monday, 01 November 2004

Kerry in a landslide

From the cautiously optimistic Eric Alterman's most recent blog post:

Yes, Kerry in a landslide because I believe in my countrymen and women. That's my prediction. I'll eat it if I have to - along with a great deal of the hope I held for my country's democratic future.
Oh, yes there's the traditional letter from Mr. Charles Pierce, as well:
It occurred to me over the weekend that I haven't given a good reason why I will vote for John Kerry, and why I would vote for him even if he were running against, say, John McCain. (And even if McCain still had a political soul, which I've come to doubt.) Once, in Iowa, Kerry dropped in on a group of Vietnam veterans. Some of them liked him. Some of them didn't, largely because of the whole VVAW thing. (And, trust me, this was my first beat at the Boston Phoenix, and I discovered that the politics within the various Vietnam veteran's groups were desperate and bloody.) Kerry dismissed the staff, locked the door, blew off the rest of the schedule, and sat there and talked and argued with these guys until they were all exhausted. He wanted to talk to the people who disliked him more than he wanted to talk to anyone else. He gave them the respect of open debate.

Imagine the incumbent doing that. Imagine him sitting down in a room where half the people truly loathe him and everything he stands for, him and his ticket-only rallies, and his coddling staff, and his use of the Secret Service as cheap sidewalk bouncers. Imagine him hearing them out, debating them, giving them the respect of his knowledgeable disagreement. It is inconceivable. One can more easily imagine C-Plus Augustus's flapping his arms and flying to the top of the Washington Monument. Imagine that "character" is even at issue between these two men.

Somebody who was there in Iowa told me that story, and told me I couldn't use it, but that's too damn bad today. I am voting for John Kerry because it is a time for serious people who are strong enough in their heart to listen to anger and slander and calumny and to respond to it, not with the tinny bombast of an unearned office, and not with the cheesy legerdemain of concocted eminence, but with the strength to stay long enough to try to redeem it.

Eric also points to this photo of Big John and Bruce at the campaign website. Hey, I'm voting for the guy who lets me see his page! Oh, yeah, they've got the video, too. I think it's cute where he goes all Fanboy over the Boss.
23:54 GMT

Various stuff

There's this weird article in the NYT about whether or not you should do a major investigative piece about a candidate immediately before an election. It seems to me natural to say, "Wait, if you have reliable evidence that a candidate is some kind of lying, incompetent scumbag, don't you think readers deserve to know this before the election?" But then I remember some of the smart exposTs we've seen by some news organizations and I wonder. Whitewater, anyone?

Mary Kay Kare wants you to know about a site for online reporting of election fraud, misconduct, and disenfranchisement.

In Rolling Stone, Fear and Loathing, Campaign 2004 by Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

From kid oakland at Daily Kos, the politics of Mosh. And from Kos, yet another reason why we need every Democratic vote we can get: A potential tie in the Senate - and remember, the VP breaks ties.

Read The Rap Against Rockism and watch some music videos.
20:16 GMT

The Errol Morris ads has posted these as well, but in order to make them more easily available, Morris has posted the Real People ads he did for them at his own site. These are all short spots of people who voted for Bush in 2000, explaining why they're not voting for him this time.

Rhonda Nix
"What about America?""

We've got to take care of this country. It upsets me that you can go and spend billions and billions of dollars trying to liberate other people when there's so many people here. They don't need liberation, but they need healthcare. They need food on their table. They need education. It is time to invest in this country. That's what I want to hear about, that we're being taken care of here at home. I'm still a Baptist, but I'm no longer a Republican.
Todd Clifton
"Right Reason":
Brandon is 21 years old and I would, as any parent would, hate to see him have to go to war. But if it's good for the country and it's for a good cause, then that's what has to happen. And I would be proud for him to be there and proud to serve our America. Right now the reasons that we're there are not the right reasons. Getting it done is good, but you need to get the right things done. Not just whatever you decide is the right thing. I'm voting for John Kerry.
William Harrop
The George W. Bush for whom I voted in 2000 was not really the George W. Bush that I got. I voted for man I thought was going to be moderate. I voted for an administration that I thought would be interested in working with the world in the same way the first Bush Administration had been. I voted for what I thought would be a better president. I think it was very naïve of me. I should have known better.
There are more than 50 of these. See them all here. (QuickTime) Share them with your friends and neighbors.
15:17 GMT

Stuff that's out there

The Three Stooges in Iraq. Okay, let that play in your head a little before clicking the link.

Peter Kuper presents: Richie Bush (via)

Modulator discovers a study showing that - get this - doctors who work too long make more mistakes. No, really!

Two via Eschaton:
Great episode of This American Life about undecided voters, including Jack Hitt's bit on vote scams; Mosh The Vote has posted the transcript of Hitt's segment (via).
And: Stop the Conservative Republicans Against Progress.

The war machine is still standing there in Woking where the enemy left it so many decades ago....
13:26 GMT

Bill Gibson says

I'm not having much luck with Bill's permalinks at the moment but this post contains this paragraph:

If I were to put together a truly essential thank-you list for the people who most made it possible for me to write my first six novels, I'd certainly owe as much to Ronald Reagan as to Bill Gates or Lou Reed. Reagan's presidency put the grit in my dystopia. His presidency was the fresh kitty litter I spread for utterly crucial traction on the icey driveway of uncharted futurity. His smile was the nightmare in my back pocket.
And there's a lot of other interesting stuff on this page. (That link works, but it's for a long archive page that the above quote appears somewhere in the middle of.) In fact, it's so consistently the sort of thing I'm interested in (rather than the talking-shop sort of thing I get really tired of really fast), that I've decided he has to go on the blogroll now.
03:30 GMT

The Weekend Post

In Saturday's paper, Ellen Goodman, in A Post-Bush Mind-Set, says: There is no item in the dictionary for "September 12th," but I remember the day. In one voice and many languages, the world said, "Today we are all Americans." What happened to the Sept. 12 mind-set?

While the rest of us are almost monomaniacal on a different subject, Colbert King still has one question on his mind: How (and Why) Did Jonathan Magbie Die? With important national and local elections on Tuesday, and with a city in turmoil over baseball stadium financing, why return for a fourth consecutive week to the case of Jonathan Magbie, the 27-year-old quadriplegic who was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Judith Retchin to 10 days in the D.C. jail for simple possession of marijuana? After all, Magbie's dead and buried. Why keep his story alive?

Cass R. Sunstein and David Schkade find A Bench Tilting Right: Judges appointed by President Bill Clinton have been more conservative than those appointed by John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter. Indeed, Clinton's choices have similar overall voting records to those of Republican presidents Nixon and Gerald Ford. [...] Reagan's appointees and those of the two Bushes show more conservative patterns than the judges named by GOP predecessors Nixon and Ford. The federal judiciary has been moving steadily to the right.

From the letters page, Foul Play in the Campaign: At 6:30 a.m. Oct. 19 I was awakened by my daughter's screams. She had found quarts of blood, dozens of turkey feet and an array of innards at our front door. And our homemade [Kerry] sign was gone.

OK, so the Sunday, paper says if the Redskins lose this game, the incumbent loses. So Bush is toast.

George F. Will says: This column has expressed abundant skepticism about the grandiosity of George W. Bush's foreign policy. And about his passivity about spending (he has vetoed nothing), his enlargement of the welfare state (the prescription drug entitlement), his expansion of inappropriate federal responsibilities (concerning education from kindergarten through 12th-grade, through the No Child Left Behind Act) and his complicity in vandalizing the Constitution (he signed the McCain-Feingold bill, which rations political speech). Still, this column prefers Bush. George Will has recently said considerably harsher things about Bush on a number of subjects and anyone who has read those columns must realize that only a form of insanity could cause the man who wrote them to support Bush.

Michael Kinsley gets completely sucked in by the phony spin: Political reporters and commentators get sucked in. They may deplore the importance of matters such as how John Kerry got his medals in Vietnam or how George Bush spent his weekends in Alabama, but they can't deny or avoid the importance of these issues if the candidates or their surrogates choose to focus on them. What a load of hogwash. The Bush campaign was poised to attack Kerry's record in Vietnam six months ago at the very least; even if Kerry and his campaign had never brought the subject up, we'd still be hearing this stuff. This may be the lamest column I have seen from Kinsley in years.

Jim Hoagland gets suckered, too, pretending that Democrats are now just as sleazy as Republicans because Dems have used the dirty tactic of fighting smears with facts: As they promised, Kerry and his chief aides came from behind to match Republican scare tactics, personal vilification and distortions blow for blow. The over-the-top Kerry treatment of the news story about missing explosives in Iraq and his second-guessing on the Battle of Tora Bora in the campaign's closing week established beyond question that he can keep up with the GOP's senior fear-mongers. And Bush's inept response equaled anything the Democrats have perpetrated. I suspect that Kerry's outrage over the incredibly inept administration behavior that resulted in the missing explosives and bin Laden's escape at Tora Bora was absolutely genuine - mine certainly is. Hoagland had to drink one helluva lot of Kool-Aid to be so morally numb as to find Kerry's responses out of line. (You could write and ask him what he means by that....) But even "over-the-top" responses are hardly a match for the outright slander and libel that the Bush campaign has gifted us with.

Repair the Electoral College, says Peter M. Shane, suggesting that we stop according two electoral votes to each state for each Senator. I confess to some sympathy for this position.

There is only one issue on the Sunday letters page: Having a Voice in the Voting Booth.
02:10 GMT

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, November 2004

October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
Is the media in denial?
Back to front page

And, no, it's not named after the book or the movie. It's just another sideshow.