The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Saturday, November 06, 2004


Colin Powell, earlier this week:
Secretary of State Colin Powell has privately confided to friends in recent weeks that the Iraqi insurgents are winning the war, according to Newsweek. The insurgents have succeeded in infiltrating Iraqi forces "from top to bottom," a senior Iraqi official tells Newsweek in tomorrow's issue of the magazine, "from decision making to the lower levels." (emphasis mine)
CNN, today:
A company commander of the Iraqi security forces who received a full briefing on the expected Falluja assault is missing from a military base where U.S. and Iraqi troops are preparing for the possible operation.

The captain, a Kurd with no known ties to the Sunni city of Falluja, is thought to have taken notes from the battle briefing late Thursday. U.S. Marines and his fellow Iraqi officers found no sign of him Friday morning, except for his uniform and a weapon on his cot.

Marines are concerned that the information he knows could be passed along to insurgents. U.S. military sources believe insurgents have friends in the military and government.
Uh oh.

Add to that this news:
American intelligence agencies have tripled their formal estimate of shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile systems believed to be at large worldwide, after determining that at least 4,000 of the weapons from Iraq's pre-war arsenals cannot be accounted for, government officials said Friday.

A new government estimate says a total of 6,000 of the weapons, known as man-portable air-defense systems, or Manpads, may be outside the control of any government, up from a previous estimate of 2,000, officials said.
Double uh-oh. We haven't seen much of those in action yet, and it would appear that the insurgency can escalate their efforts at a time of their choosing.

Meanwhile, at Al Qaqaa, now that the Bush-Cheney electoral strategy of "making as many contradictory excuses as possible so as to confuse the issue long enough to obscure the truth until after the election" worked, the truth is coming out:
In the weeks after the fall of Baghdad, Iraqi looters loaded powerful explosives into pickup trucks and drove the material away from the Al Qaqaa ammunition site, according to a group of U.S. Army reservists and National Guardsmen who said they witnessed the looting.

The soldiers said about a dozen U.S. troops guarding the sprawling facility could not prevent the theft because they were outnumbered by looters. Soldiers with one unit — the 317th Support Center based in Wiesbaden, Germany — said they sent a message to commanders in Baghdad requesting help to secure the site but received no reply. (emphasis mine)
Why were they outnumbered, Donald?

Friday, November 05, 2004


USA Today has a nifty pair of maps comparing how all of America's counties voted in the 2000 and 2004 elections. The maps looks quite red (Bush), because the blue counties (Gore/Kerry) tend to have much larger populations. It's an interesting visual representation of the urban/rural divide in America, both in terms of culture and politics.

Most of Michigan's counties favor Bush except for a handful in the immediate vicinity of Detroit, the state's largest population center.

The same goes for Pennsylvania, where counties supporting Kerry and Gore can be found around Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

--Osama Bin Laden is a very smart man, whatever else he is.

--Whatever Bin Laden does, he is a "super-empowered individual" in the world scheme, as Tom Friedman would put it, and thus he acts with the foreknowledge that whatever he does will have international consequences.

--That said, he can usually predict the response he gets from a given group to a given action of his. With that in mind,

--Osama released a tape for international consumption, particularly American consumption, in the days leading up to our election.

--In the tape, he attacked President Bush numerous times verbally, including chiding him for reading "about a pet goat" during the 9/11 attacks.

--Advantageous Republicans, including members of Bush's campaign, sought to quickly paint the Bin Laden tape as his de facto endorsement of John Kerry, and make that the conventional wisdom in the media about the tape. There is no reason to believe that Osama wouldn't have been able to predict this would happen.

--A few days later, Bush wins the election, apparently with undecided voters tending to swing towards him.

Now the question goes to Bush supporters: Do you honestly believe that you have "outsmarted" Bin Laden by re-electing your man?

In prosecuting the war on terror the way he has, George W Bush has rendered us a chesspiece and deprived us of our bird's-eye view of the gameboard.

You can take off the tinfoil caps now, it appears that the "Bush Bulge" was really a bulletproof vest:
Call off the conspiracy freaks. Now it can be told: That mysterious bulge on President Bush’s back during the first presidential debate was not an electronic device feeding him answers, but a strap holding his bulletproof vest in place.

Speculation about the bulge on the Internet only increased since Georges de Paris, the Washington tailor who makes Bush’s suits, told The Hill last month that it was nothing more than a pucker on the back of Bush’s coat caused when he crossed his arms.

But sources in the Secret Service told The Hill that Bush was wearing a bulletproof vest, as he does most of the time when appearing in public. The president’s handlers did not want to admit as much during the campaign, for fear of disclosing information related to his personal security while he was on the campaign trail.
I suppose we can go back to our lives now. I guess this conclusion reflects well on Bush's handlers, because if they were transmitting messages to Bush on what he should say, they didn't do that great a job.

Still, what was up with Bush saying "let me finish" 45 seconds into a 2-minute response period during the first debate? Guess it doesn't really matter now.

No word from the Secret Service as to whether the vest was made "with real gorilla chest".

Interesting that the candidate who, as the consensus went, lost all three debates went on to win the election. The last time that happened?

Al Gore.

The way I've felt about the last three major elections here -- the 2002 midterms, the California recall, and this past tuesday -- was that I hoped for the best. Part of me knew there was a good chance it was going to suck, yet I was optimistic anyway.

With that in mind, enjoy the trailer for Star Wars: Episode 3.

TFM happily welcomes Cynthia McKinney back to Congress.
In Georgia, Cynthia McKinney, the firebrand Democrat who lost her congressional seat two years ago after accusing Bush of ignoring warnings of the 2001 terrorist attacks, won her old seat back.

"I'm back!" McKinney yelled to her supporters Tuesday night as Patti LaBelle's song "New Day" played in the background.
We can safely add her voice to the chorus calling for Porter Goss to stop stonewalling on the CIA's 9/11 report.

Instapundit quotes the following:
If Kerry had won, the war would undoubtedly be repudiated in the press everywhere. But now that Bush has won, it has been decided that he won on other issues like gay marriage and abortion.
Jack's brother said more or less the same thing a few hours later. The obvious implication is that because the media isn't saying Bush won on the war and his foreign policy, the media are a bunch of Democratic suck-ups.

First of all, a lot of people, pollsters even, were predicting a Kerry win with over 300 electoral votes, and if that occurred, then yes, that would have been seen (rightfully) as a repudiation of Bush's foreign policy. What actually happened was Bush winning essentially by Ohio. He ended up with 12 more electoral votes than the minimum needed to win. The electoral map barely changed. The ball is on the Democratic 48 yard line, so to speak.

And we can argue about how appealing to antigay bigotry was a cornerstone of Karl Rove's campaign strategy, especially in its final days.

And nevermind the fact that the media has spent months saying that the race 1) is very, very close and 2) will be based largely on foreign policy, so if they find something different in the actual result they will report it.

But here's the thing: In expressing the above-quoted sentiment about the media, these righties are accidentally making an argument AGAINST a liberal-bias or Kerry-bias in the media.

How so?

Well, the reporters and talking heads you see on CNN and elsewhere didn't say Bush's edge came from people who are anti-gay, or even anti-gay marriage. They referred to these voters as people who voted based on "moral values".

Remember, the media is "liberal". Also remember that the "liberal" position on opposition to gay rights is that such positions are bigoted. So why are all these liberally-biased people going around saying "moral values" when they mean "friggin homophobia"?

One of the few sources of pleasure for me in this election is that the results, and the way Bush and Rove got over the top, and the way the media has reported it, has forced the ref-workers on the right to engage in massive contortions and backflips to keep their liberal media myth afloat. And for their own sanity they'd better keep it alive, because since they have complete control of every branch of government, they'll need to find something to complain about!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Poll: Youth Totally Meant To Vote In Record Numbers
Funny, sad, and true, all at once.

Sooo, let's compare:

A photo url tag that pretty much nobody would have noticed, stuck there by an intern who is surely fired by now...


Brit Hume, Fox News' lead anchor, calling Kerry's concession speech "full of crap".

The Freepers are nothing but class when they talk about Democratic women with potentially fatal diseases.

(Finally have internet at home. It's not particularly fast, but I'll try to post at all hours of the night in the coming days and weeks. Has everyone been having a morally valuable day? Good.)

Bush will govern towards the center... of Alabama:
"I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it," Bush told a news conference a day after Democrat John Kerry conceded the election to the president and the two men talked about the need for unity.


Appearing confident if not a bit tired from the grueling campaign and all-night anguish over the fate of Ohio, Bush said he would seek greater bipartisanship with members of the Democratic opposition in the U.S. Congress after his first term was marred by partisan battles.

But he signaled some limits as to how far he would go, saying he would reach out to "everyone who shares our goals." Besides winning re-election in Tuesday's election, Bush saw Republican majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives grow.

The top goals he outlined were reforming Social Security And the tax code, two items in which his preferred outcome clashes sharply with that of Democrats.
Bush has imported his black/white foreign policy doctrine -- "you're either with us or you're with the terrorists -- and he's applying it to domestic politics.

Of course, the Gingrich Congress took residual Cold War paranoia and refocused it on Clinton's cock, so this doesn't come as a surprise.

Compared to 2000, a 51-48 win will probably be interpreted by Bush as a Charlemagne-esque divine mandate.

From that conference,

I can't find a still photo of it, but CNN's video angle once again turned the Presidential seal into a Jesus-halo around Bush's head.

A highly-knowledgeable source on Christianity, whom I highly respect, mentions that there were probably more abortions per capita in Roman-occupied Judea than in America now. And Jesus never said a thing about them. Anyway.

In the meantime, I'm pretty sure I endorse this.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Ann Althouse at Instapundit:
Remember how good Al Gore looked in 2000, when he finally gave his concession speech? Gore had reason to drag out the vote counting, given how close things were, and we survived that ordeal. But when he conceded he had a beautiful, eloquent dignity. I was sorry when Angry Al Gore emerged in the 2004 campaign season and dispelled that fine image he had left us with at the end of the 2000 struggle.
Soooo... you weren't angry about the policies set forth by Bush and the Pentagon that spawned Abu Ghraib? You weren't angry about the damage done to America's "fine image" by what happened there? Very telling.
Soooo... what's Edwards gonna do for the next few years?
By the way, I'd like to extend my thanks to Ben White, who covered for me on election day and night. Thanks, and you're certainly welcome around this neighborhood anytime!

Every Mushroom Cloud has a Silver Lining
by Good Cop Brendan

It's not so bad.

Remember the aftermath of Florida in 2000? People were talking about how it might not have been worth it for Al Gore to win, since he would have been dealing with an opposition congress were he the President. Well, if Ohio had turned for Kerry, then he would have had to deal with even larger majorities in both houses of Congress than there were in 2001. It would have been a very frustrating presidency.

If you think I'm reaching for bright spots here, you're probably right. But they are there to be found.

--Bush and Iraq: Together. Forever. The mess George W Bush has made in Iraq is probably beyond our being able to clean up, and the goal of a Jeffersonian (or at least, Putinian) democracy there is probably unreachable. If President Kerry had come to this conclusion (he undoubtedly would have) and laid the groundwork for some kind of pullout, he would have been tarred and feathered by the right, and they would have gone all out to add Kerry's thoughtful decision into their running narrative about Democrats being weak on security. (even though invading Iraq had nothing to do with our security, of course)

It's probably fitting that Bush gets to embody both elements of the Pottery Barn rule. He broke Iraq, so he owns it, and now he's the one stuck fixing it. Having 3/5ths of an election there wont work. Bringing a Shi'ite theocratic government to power -- even if it's brought there democratically -- would (will) be a disaster for us and for the original goals Bush set out when the invasion took place. We wont get the "fresh start" that Kerry might have given us on Iraq, so there will be no new substantial help from Europe and elsewhere.

If Bush wants to fix Iraq, he has his chance. But nothing he has done there so far suggests he'll be able to do it. Serious people--even Colin the UN liar--know our efforts are failing there.

--Obama-rama! Well, Barack is officially the Senate-elect now. And in every single left-leaning blog with comments that I've read today, I've seen him mentioned as a future presidential candidate. Trouble is, a lot of people are talking about him in 2008. Slow down. Can we let the guy get re-elected first? People are also talking about Barack, who hasn't served a day in Washington, becoming the new Minority Leader. Oh, I almost forgot,

--Daschle's gone. I've generally been more prone to defending Tom Daschle than to trashing him; I think a lot of the good work he does goes unnoticed. However, I don't want my party's leader in the Senate to have to fight for his political life every six years. So with that in mind, and if we were gonna lose the Senate anyway, I don't mind at all that he lost. But who's gonna replace him? Names floating around are Harry Reid from Nevada, Durbin from Illinois, and Chris Dodd of Connecticut. The big names also being mentioned are Hillary and--this would be interesting--John Kerry. If Kerry did that, perhaps he would help us in the charisma war: He'd be the boring counterpoint to a more energetic Presidential candidate in 2008. Reporting for duty!

--Change in the DNC? McAuliffe needs to go. He's overseen some good things and some bad things with the Democratic Party, but 2004 is the end of the line for him. The obvious replacement? Howard Dean. Yeargh!

--Edwards in 2008? I don't know. Part of me feels like John Edwards is a star recruit on a college football team who just had his redshirt blown. On the other hand, given the way the campaign used him, maybe they're setting him up for that. He didn't get all that much media exposure for a member of a national ticket; he mostly did the town hall thing, and not as much the big televised rally thing.

The only two times during the campaign when voters saw a lot of him on TV were when he was behind a podium (Democratic Convention speech) and when he was sitting at a desk (vice-presidential debates). As observers of his know, he is most in his element when he's walking around, closing-statement-like, talking to individual voters in townhall meetings. Attendees of those meetings saw this, but America really didn't. Perhaps the Dems were holding him back, saving him a bit for his big chance four years from now? Since the public exposure of the VP candidate doesn't usually tip the scales, there wouldn't have been much to lose by doing that. Time will tell.

One thing's for certain: The two Americas (the economic ones and the red/blue ones) will be even more divided in 08 than they are now.

--Red/blue states and security. The 2000 election was fought in the wake of the Culture War's apex, the Clinton impeachment. The 2004 election was decided by Rove's ace-in-the-hole antigay vote. In those two elections, the electoral maps were startlingly similar. 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, all that happened and yet we're right back where we started, essentially a 50-50 nation.

You know, that would suggest to me that the Democrats have found a way to neutralize the Republicans on national security. Without Karl's last-minute push for evangelicals, who were voting primarily against gay marriage and choice, Kerry would have won the election. Kerry did enough of what he needed to do on Iraq and terrorism: appeal to just enough people as a viable alternative to Bush. But between the young voters underperforming and the bigot voters overperforming, it wasn't enough.

Who knows? Four years down the line, the dynamic may shift even further: We democrats might not have to fret about the military experience of our nominee in his young life someday. Especially since there's a chance we may nominate...

Hillary-rama! I'm sure those election returns in Florida and Ohio were enough to generate spontaneous orgasms from both Bill Safire and Dick Morris. Wait, actually Dick has another solution for that. Anyway... will she run? I think she will. She was New York's sitting Senator on 9/11, and she's likely to be coming off an impressive re-election. She has the charisma, the drive and certainly the intelligence to do a great many things for America.

If you think her health care plan from 1994 is a liability for her, don't. When the issue would be brought up in the campaign, all she has to do is look at the nearest camera and say, in effect, here are the things we did wrong in putting that plan together, we have learned many lessons from them, and now we are more prepared to do it right.

Many Republicans drool at the idea of a Hillary candidacy, but they probably shouldn't. They've been stuck in the Limbaugh-cocoon, believing her to be some sort of "feminazi" charicature of everything that scared their virgin asses in the 1960's. What America would see in 2008 would be very different.

--Nava-rama! If you live in the Santa Barbara area, you can rejoice in knowing that all that cardboard that was used to print signs for Arnold-sockpuppet Bob Pohl was for naught, as Democrat Pedro Nava won the local seat for State Assembly.

--Stem-o-rama! California is about to become the world's leading locale for stem-cell research, now that voters have approved proposition 71, a $3billion bond for it.

--Cheney probably wont run.

--Word has it Ashcroft's about to resign.

--Arlen Specter won. Huh? He's a Republican! He's the magic bullet theory guy! Why are you happy about this? Here's why: He's likely to become the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And he's pro-choice. And according to the Associated Press,
The Republican expected to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee next year bluntly warned newly re-elected President Bush on Wednesday against putting forth Supreme Court nominees who would seek to overturn abortion rights or are otherwise too conservative to win confirmation.


"When you talk about judges who would change the right of a woman to choose, overturn Roe v. Wade, I think that is unlikely," Specter said, referring to the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

"The president is well aware of what happened, when a bunch of his nominees were sent up, with the filibuster," Specter added, referring to Senate Democrats' success over the past four years in blocking the confirmation of many of Bush's conservative judicial picks. "... And I would expect the president to be mindful of the considerations which I am mentioning."
Now that's not enough to quell all of my concerns about 3-4 possible vacancies in the Supreme Court during the next four years. But at least it's something. And the Senate doesn't have a filibuster-proof margin. And Zell Miller will be long gone.

--Scandal-rama! The WMD report will come out. The CIA's hidden 9/11 report will come out. More Iraq-related fuckups are bound to come out. We will find out who leaked Valerie Plame's name to Bob Novak.* Here, read more.


--Overreach-o-rama! With strong majorities everywhere, and a bigoted party base to whom Bush owes his re-election, the Republicans will try for too much. It will be HillaryCare squared. And because I have the misfortune of renting a bedroom in a house owned by Limbaugh-Republicans, I get to hear the rough drafts of these ideas. Large-scale privatization of social security? Abolition of the IRS? A national sales tax? Getting out of the UN? An anti-Roe Supreme Court nominee? One way or another, they will go too far, and it will cost them in 2006, and if not then, in 2008.

That's enough optimism for one night. Back to my regularly scheduled drinking and sulking.

* - By the way, it was absolutely disgusting to see Novak on CNN last night calmly, smugly explaining why voters were turning to Bush. Bob has, within his brain, information that one two members of Bush's senior administration committed a serious felony in July of 2003. What an insulting bit of punditry.

Over at Tapped (link via atrios), Nick Confessore says the following:
Gay marriage was one of the keys. Ballot initiatives banning gay marriage passed everywhere they were up for a vote: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Utah. That includes four swing states, the most crucial of which -- Ohio, where some 50,000 to 100,000 extra voters may have come out for the ballot initiative -- Bush won. Indeed, they were put there by Bush's allies among the religious right in no small part to drive turnout. Elsewhere, the GOP conducted a below-the-radar campaign on gay marriage, linking Kerry and the Democrats to support for same-sex unions. I still believe time is not on the right's side when it comes to this issue. And they may face the kind of backlash that abortion-rights supporters faced in the decades after Roe. But the bottom line is that this issue really helped Bush.

Question: Where were the Democratic wedge issues? Where were the ballot initiatives in Nevada, Oregon, Ohio, and Florida -- home to millions of senior citizens looking down the barrel of the Alzheimer's gun -- legalizing stem-cell research? (California was already in the bag, folks.) What I'm getting at is what appears to be a congenital Democratic inability to think several moves ahead and plant political traps and wedges for the other team, something the Republican Party is very good at doing to Democrats.
My fucking god, why didn't we think of this? Near as I can tell, we thought of the stem-cell issue from the top down, thinking that if the Presidential candidate supported it openly, that would be enough to bring people to the polls for it. But this isn't a popular election; we're slaves to the Electoral College, and must alter our strategery based on it. The Republicans figured that out from the standpoint of ballot initiatives, and they got a wedge issue proposition in the wedgiest state of all, Ohio.

Well, this is something we need to learn how to do, and we'll do it in 2006 to cut into the GOP's congressional majorities.

When the entirety of the northeast, from Maryland and Pennsylvania to Maine, sees that a presidential candidate can win without a single state from their region voting for him, they accept it.

Flash back 144 years:

When the entirety of the south saw Lincoln get elected without carrying a single southern state... they seceeded and started a war that took more American lives than any before and any since.

Maturity. Restraint. "Moral values". All found in the northeast.
Amy Sullivan echoes my sentiments about the Christian Right, "moral values" and electoral politics.
I gotta say, it doesn't help much when exit polls and sloppy reporting use 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. Opposition to the war in Iraq is a moral issue. The alleviation of poverty is a moral issue. Concern about abortion is a moral value, yes, but you can stay at the level of empty rhetoric about a "culture of life" or you can talk about how to actually reduce abortion rates, which is what most people care about more. (Did you hear once during this election season that abortion rates have risen under W. after they fell dramatically during Clinton's eight years in office?)
Brendan Buhler emails:

Thought you might be feeling a little down today, so I'm writing to say that
you should be of good cheer.

True, the fanatics in this country have just signed us up for another four
years of sissy hawk kleptocracy. Granted, the last months have vaporized
what little was left of moderate American politics. And sure, it's only
going to get worse.

I'm not going to make any consolation arguments about how now the GOP will
own the Iraq disaster lock, stock and barrel, or how it now has more than
enough rope to hang itself. After all, it has rope enough to hang a lot of
folks besides itself and I couldn't imagine taking any comfort in or rooting
for Iraq to continue to burn.

No, I'm just dropping you a line to let you know it was a heck of a sunset
tonight. Great big pink and orange mountains in the sky. Dolphins bobbed
along the surfline.

We live in Santa Barbara and the people who supposedly won have just been
sentenced to years in a pestilential swamp.

That is all.

- Brendan
Thanks, Brendan. (Guess he didn't notice that on Monday I ripped the Nexus a new one for supporting Prop 69, hehe.)

The skyscapes of SB have been quite majestic lately indeed, and for this I am thankful. I'm trying hard not to think of the CO2 emissions that make said sky so red-orange, or the offshore drills against which said dolphins occasionally bump their shiny, squeaky dolphin heads. I really am trying. (:

Your point on Iraq is well taken, I was planning to expand on exactly that soon, possibly tonight.

A message to all my readers, as well as readers of other left-leaning blogs: Don't take the way we act today as any long-term indication of our mood. Many of us put lots of energy, time, money, conversation and emotion into this campaign (as did many on the right), and if we're all a bit erratic right now, then that's how we're going to be. So don't draw any conclusions about how we're acting, because people who worked hard for Bush's reelection campaign would have acted the exact same way in the hours following a Bush loss. I've already had to chastise Jack to that effect.

It's the Intolerance, Stupid!
by Bad Cop Brendan


First of all, fuck this "broad victory" shit. If you want to see what a broad victory looks like, try 1972, 1984 and even 1992 and 1996. Bush received about 3 percent more votes than Kerry. That's it.

The American people have spoken, and 51% of them have decided that this is just fine and dandy.

Large chunks of the world -- some of which are very, very consequential for us -- are sure to see the election through this angle. And I'm sure people like Osama Bin Laden will be more than happy to remind them. Oh wait, he wanted Kerry to win. My mistake.

But from the looks of it, the 2004 election may have been decided by a form of consensual sexual activity. So say CNN's exit polls:
According to the voter breakdown that CNN is currently hawking, the top reason that Bush voters gave for supporting their guy was not the economy, not Iraq, not even the war on terrorism. It was "moral values." That's right, with American soldiers dying overseas, Al Qaeda still gunning for us at home, the deficit spiraling, the gap between rich and poor growing, Social Security on the brink, etc., etc., Bush's reelection was driven by a bunch of folks freaked out over the thought of gay marriage and stem-cell research.

God save the republic.
You know, some people are going to sit in front of microphones or computers and talk/type about how Bush overcame the obstacle of a liberal media, or "the MSM", to win re-election. They'll do it, and I can't stop them.

But how the fuck can the media really be liberal if they keep using the phrase "moral values", when the obvious meaning of those words is "anti-gay"?

Yes, it appears that young Americans, while their turnout numbers were strong, did not turn out dramatically higher than in past years proportionally. But shit: If you're a Bush-voter, I hope you're damn happy that you voted for a candidate whose campaign strategy's centerpiece was to court the vote of ignorant, unreformed bigots.

I am not a religious man, but I have respect for religion and spirituality. I know that the majesty of one's belief in a higher power cannot be quantified (see Barack Obama's convention speech, notably his invokation of "an awwwesome God" and "belief in things unseen"). Religion is not the problem in America. The Bible specifically condemns things like wet dreams ("seed that chanceth him by night"), but such condemnations are no longer operative among Americans, religious or otherwise. Homosexuality is condemned in the Bible (Leviticus), yet many among America's evangelically religous circles hold on to these condemnations, and even vote based on them.

(I'm going to put the next paragraph in bold, just because)

The greatest crime of the Republican Party in this regard is that they have, in large part, welded together bigotry with religion, thereby absolving the bigotry in the eyes of the mainstream. They've even tricked the American media into calling it "moral values".

(Coupled with that, the greatest mistake of the Democratic party in this regard is to let them do it. Every liberal I've seen on campus and elsewhere who bemoans the "christian right" and George W Bush "the religious nut" is feeding the Republicans' ability to associate themselves with "religion", particularly "Christianity", and mask the prejudices of many of their party members within it.)

The above welding was Karl Rove's ace in the hole last night, the added factor that put his guy, George Bush, over the top in the election. The evangelical gay-haters did not turn out for "compassionate conservative" Dubya in 2000, but they came out in droves for the "fag-hating, Abu Ghraib conservative" Dubya yesterday.

I'm willing to put good money down that there's a lot of overlap between those who vehemently oppose same-sex marriage and those who weren't outraged by the torture at Abu Ghraib. (by us, that is) The ideological descendents of Puritan witch-burners are sure to be suckers for a little sexual humiliation.

What's the solution to this for the future? I don't know, I'm a bad cop, solutions aren't my game, yelling at motherfuckers is.

...Okay, okay, fine, I'll give you a solution, but because I'm a bad cop, I'll try and keep it rude.

For the good of the Democratic Party, and for that matter America, we need to perform open-heart surgery on religion, and extract the bigotry from it. Since being coopted by the Republican Party, religion as a political concept has been taken over, body-snatcher style, by the virus of hatred, bigotry and ignorance present in many conservatives, particularly in the south. The secret isn't just Rove's evangelical vote, it's also the association: Just enough fair-minded Christians, who are otherwise tolerant people, identify with the packaging of Bush as "a good Christian man of faith" and unwittingly endorse an agenda of intolerance.

These are people who can be trimmed from the Republican slate with just a little political effort. I'm not yet going into how we go about separating the intolerance from the religion and call out the intolerance, but it's something we must do.

One suggestion I would give to the Democrats is to further secularize the issue of reproductive rights. The Democrats have clung so hard to the choice issue that they have contributed to it becoming a dynamic of "choice versus the religious right", and by advantageous simplification (for Republicans), "choice versus religion". Remove it from its religious context, and one of the consequences is that religion, as a concept, has less of a side in the issue. I'm not encouraging the Democrats putting forth anti-choice candidates and confirming anti-choice Justices. I'm saying, from top to bottom, don't target the religion, target the intolerance.

Getting back to Rove's "Intolerance to 51!" coaltion... In the long run, I, the bad cop, am very happy with yesterday's results. You see, for the extent that the Falwells and Ralph Reeds are problematic entities in our political process, they are helpless to stop the overarching trend: America is becoming more individually tolerant and accepting, and it always will be. We started with slaves, the three-fifths clause and white-male-only voting. Then we freed the slaves. Then we gave women the vote. Then we ended Jim Crow. Then we blew our money at Indian casinos. More tolerant.

A few years ago, Howard Dean, then Governor of Vermont, had to wear a bulletproof vest--in New England--because he supported a bill to legalize civil unions between same-sex couples in his state. A few years later, civil unions are the fall-back position for Democratic candidates.

States can pass ballot initiatives if they want to, but the ultimate trend, the one they can't stop, is toward tolerance and social equality. Sooner than we think, not only will gay marriage be legal, but opposition to equal rights being given to gays will land people in the range of public opinion somewhere between Trent Lott and David Duke.

One day soon, Karl Rove and his proteges will wake up on election day and realize that they don't have the same coalition that they had before, and they'll wonder why. They won in 2004 -- improving over their loss in 2000 -- because they constructed a superficial, short-term, hate-based coalition that was doomed to disappear as time went on.

The Republicans are running out of prejudices to use for electoral gain. One of their essential components for electoral victory is an internal "other" to fear or scapegoat, without which they will lose. Mexicans wont work nationally, using them doesn't work in California anyway. By leaning on homophobes, all they are doing is putting off a 5-alarm identity crisis. When that comes, it wont be pretty.

When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, he predicted that it would cost Democrats the South electorally for a long time. Some of the choices he made in the course of his presidency surely caused him insomnia and a post-Presidency mental breakdown, but he certainly didn't lose any sleep over having made the right decision about civil rights in America. THAT, motherfuckers, would be "moral values". I hope that Bush voters who fancy themselves as tolerant moderates think about the ignorant, fearful hatred with which they have sided, hatred the media has dubbed "moral values". Sleep well.

(note: "good cop" to follow either tonight or tomorrow, motherfuckers)

Congratulations to Eric Chavez and his 4th career AL Gold Glove award!
Okay, this gridlocked presidential race has clearly preempted Conan from NBC tonight, so I think I am done. Maybe something will develop overnight. Thanks to Brendan for letting me post "anything you want." He will obviously have some things to say about this election when he resumes blogging tomorrow! But as for me, thanks again.
It's just past midnight, and no one has yet spoken to the crowd of people at the GOP headquarters. I won't bother to explain the symbolism of this lack of communication.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Ahnold has claimed "victory for the people of California." Most of the proposition results for which he pushed have passed.

One, which was supposedly up in the air at first, is the "We Fixed the Glitch" proposition: Prop 66. This is the one which would revise California's Three Strikes law. Clearly this law needs adjustment, but 66 is not going to be the proposition to do it. Expect to see this issue return to a voting booth near your future.

Prop 71, Stem Cell Research, is a passer! This (endorsed by Ahnold) will make California the worldwide leader in such research. Obviously, there are medical benefits for the world, as well as financial and job benefits for CA. Despite the $3 million price tag for the state, we clearly come out ahead in all aspects.

Both of the Indian gaming initiatives (68 & 70, and no, that is not a Bob Dylan song) failed. Overwhelmingly. Grood. Great and good.

63, the mental health care tax, passed.

69, the DNA samples, was clearly too 1984 for CA, as Brendan said.

At this time, the only close one is 72. Health care coverage by medium and large businesses. It is currently failing by 2% - 120,000 votes. We may not know this until the morning.

Now, I think that's all for me. Brendan will recap and analyze all soon enough! We don't even know the winner of the presidential race yet. My opinion, though, is that the extreme closeness of the race shows us that both candidates leave much to be desired in an American president. Neither is a clear winner, and that is significant. Also, as has been frequently quoted, Bush is the most polarizing president, probably ever. Not good for him, even if he wins.

We know where San Francisco voters have left their hearts: Candlestick Park. One of the city measures, Measure H, requires Candlestick Park to keep its name rather than sell off the naming rights. This does have some fiscal impact for the city, as naming rights do bring in some income. Monster Park no more. It shall always be Candlestick.

They are the first network to do so with 83% of precincts reporting. And so far, they are also the only one. 'Nuff said.

Has been declared for Bush by a fairly strong margin. One which, reporters say, cannot be overcome by the absentee ballots yet uncounted. Apparently, 2000 was a fluke of a fluke in that state. In 2000, Bush should clearly not have won, albeit by a very slight margin. But he did, in a fluke system. However, the strong legitimate (presumably) turnout in his favor this year reveals that even with a higher voter turnout and all the anger and resentment from 2000, Floridians are choosing to support Bush. Thus rendering the actual (as opposed to legal) result in 2000 a fluke in itself. One factor lending support to Bush is clearly the recent hurricanes that the federal government brought Florida through. True, any president would have done that, but it's going to help the party that was sitting in office.

So, I guess that's it for "America's End Zone." Kerry needs Ohio now more than ever to take this election. I'm sure Brendan will have analysis later.

In its current edition, Newsweek reports that Jonny Depp's inspiration for his Jack Sparrow character, Keith Richards himself, will star in the film's sequel. Richarrrrds (that's the only time I'll do that!) will play the part of Sparrow's father. This will mark Richards' acting debut. This should be entertaining. Depp has stated previously that Richards was his inspiration for the character. Hopefully Keith is just himself and doesn't try to take himself too seriously! Who says it's a drag getting old?
Back later, glued to TV...
With just about 80% in, Mongiardo's holding on to a 3-point lead over Bunning. Could get called soon...

With 44% of precincts in, Mongiardo* holds a 53.5-46.5 lead over Bunning. You can follow the returns as they arrive by clicking here.

BTW, the Georgia Senate race was called almost instantly for Isakson (R) over Majette (D), no big surprise there. So old Duelin' Zell gets replaced by an actual Republican.

In the Senate, keep your eyes peeled for nailbiters in Alaska, Colorado, South Dakota, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

* - I finally spelled it right!

UPDATE: Three more percent of the precints in (47%), and Mongiardo adds .6% to his lead. To win, Bunning would have to flip the results for the other 50% of the precincts, which may be hard to do since the later a precinct reports in, the more likely it's from an urban area, a factor that would most likely boost the Democrat.

Because 7 out of every 10 blogs I try to read are down right now.

Even more mysterious than these exit polls -- final batch here -- are the Bowl Championship Series standings for college football. That said, at this moment Cal is currently ranked 4th, behind USC, Auburn and Oklahoma, all three of which are currently undefeated.

Losses by two of those teams -- preferably Auburn and Oklahoma, since USC beat Cal a few weeks ago -- combined with Cal running the table impressively (a distinct possibility) could place the Golden Bears in the BCS Championship Game, possibly being a rematch with USC. Not likely, but within the realm of possibility. It's even more amusing because if that happened, the Pac-10's third place team would earn a Rose Bowl berth, either Arizona State or Oregon, probably.

Okay, that was a nice much-needed respit from freaking out about the election. Back to your regularly-scheduled stress, already in progress!
Media Matters is keeping a chart of which networks call which states and when.
Jim at Rittenhouse Review has a collection of individual voter recaps.
Andrew Sullivan asks the same question I asked yesterday, about the effect of early voting on exit polls. Kevin Drum isn't sure either.

I wouldn't take these numbers for gospel or anything, but the early exit polls look pretty good for the taller of the two candidates.

UPDATE: Evidence of a shift among Hispanic Floridians, both Cuban and other wise?

I wonder if my theory--that Cubans are pissed at Bush because Abu Ghraib undercut the human rights case against Castro--has anything to do with those numbers...

No matter what, high voter turnout is a good thing for our country and its democratic process. In this case, it also benefits Kerry because it means people are motivated enough to change the current administration. Anyway, enough obvious statements. Here are some reports of turnout rates:


All pretty much citing the same experience I had: lines (or queues!). I'll leave the blog links for Brendan. He'll be more on top of that than I can be.
This morning, I voted using Santa Clara County's electronic voting machine. Here's my brief report.

I didn't know what to expect, since all of my previous voting has been done in Santa Barbara County. That was all optical-scan stuff. My first feeling was shock that I actually had to drive to my voting place! In IV, there are a good half-dozen voting locations within the half square mile region. I probably had a mile or so to go today.

Anyway, when I got there, there was a line! I had never experienced this before. I was accustomed to the voting room with about 10 different voting booths, about half of which were full. Today, there were 5 electronic machines, one paper booth, and a line of 25-30 people for the electronic machines (the line for the paper booth had 5). I signed in and took my spot in line, reaching the machines shortly after I would have if I had chosen to vote by paper. Overall wait was about half an hour.

Voting itself was quite painless. The touch-screen operated flawlessly. It was like a touch-screen PDF document of the ballot. Everything was clear, and all the text of the propositions and such were on-screen. I had no problems whatsoever. I'd just like to see another five voting machines or so!

So, painful or not, go out and vote! That's the most important thing. I hope to have more to report throughout the day from the South Bay.
Josh Braun cast his vote in an actual, real-life swing state, Pennsylvania. Snippets from our conversation:
Swing state, man. I'm a swinger. Woo hoo!...

I heard one of the poll workers saying something to the effect that poll watchers weren't allowed until 2 hours after the polls had opened. I dunno if I heard him right or what that would mean...

Polls opened here at 7 and the line threatens to be horrendous. I had appointments to make, so I decided to be first to the polls...

They got some of the signs in my building wrong - the address is 3609 and they printed 3906. I corrected it when I got back...

[The method of voting] was a real pain in the ass. It was push button, but they put the big laminate sheet of paper with the candidates over the whole front of the machine, so the buttons were underneath the paper and you had to kind of feel around for them. It was like working the bubbles from underneath a piece of tape or something...

Alright! Josh Braun reporting from Philadelphia. We'll check in with you later. Back to you Brendan.
Thanks, Josh.
Noted Simpsons cameo actor Tony Blair is privately backing Kerry.
I'm about to embark on what may be a full day of work with the UCSB Campus Democrats, starting with doorknob-hangings in Isla Vista at 530AM. Yikes! I'll take a break to vote at around 8AM, returning to campus soon after, with a nap in between possibly.


Lastly, apparently Jack's strategy for coping with impending disappointment was to write an endorsement of Bush that was so expansive that by the time he's done re-reading it, it will be time for the GOP Iowa straw poll. (:

Monday, November 01, 2004


Popular Vote:
Kerry 51.1%
Bush 47.3%

Electoral College:
Kerry 317
Bush 221

Kerry sweeps the swings minus Nevada and Colorado.
Kerry steals Arkansas. Mabye, if not, then change the above to Kerry 311, Bush 227.

GOP: 50
Dems: 49+Jeffords
Democrats control the Senate on January 20 with Edwards' tiebreaker.
Knowles, Salazar and Castor win. The rest will work out so it ends up 50-50.

GOP retains 6-7 seat majority.

Turnout: over 120 million.

Presidential election will be called on Tuesday night.

Right-wing pundits will immediately blame media for being "in the tank for Kerry". Oh wait, they already are. Remember that thanks to that very media, 72% of Bush supporters still think Saddam had WMD stockpiles at the beginning of the war.

Dick Morris will suggest that Hillary will try to assassinate Kerry.

Brendan will get really drunk.

President: John Kerry. See a few entries ago.

Senator: Barbara Boxer. Barbara, darling, I love you and all, but this is California, and you can afford to take a stand. You hedged on gay marriage when the issue took our state by storm this spring, and I find that annoying. But there's no way I'm voting for Three Strikes Jones. UPDATE: Rebecca's endorsement features a similar, if more concise sentiment: "She's a bit of a douche."

State Assembly #35: Pedro Nava. Arnold is really going to bat for his conservative opponent Bob Pohl (R-Oil). I've met Pedro, he's a charming and empathetic man who will do right by our district.

State Senate: Paul Graber. He doesn't have much of a chance. But the thought of McClintock getting the boot is a ticklish one indeed.

Superior Court Judge, Santa Barbara: Edward Bullard. Both he and his opponent, James Rigali, are Republicans. However, of the two, only Bullard is pro-choice. Yay litmus tests!

Goleta School Board: Susan Epstein. She's been on campus more times than I can count. She's a mother, an educator and an attorney, and will be a great addition to da' board.

Measure D, Isla Vista: YES!!! I'll be gone by the time it's done, but IV needs a kickass community center.


But just the ones I care about enough... (for the full texts, click here)

1A: Iffy NO, if only because I'd prefer more budgetary flexibility given the current state of the state.
61: YES, I wont be voting against children's hospitals this year. That would be very Cheney-ish of me.
63: HELL YES, money from the top 1% for mental health. Business Republicans don't like it because it means one less yacht for them to buy, and Jesus Republicans don't like it because they'd rather classify mental problems as demonic posession. So I like it.
66: HELL YES, 3 Strikes must be fixed, too many non-violent criminals sitting in prison for life.
The Indian Casino ones: NO. I'm suspicious of these, given that the TV ads both in faovr and in opposition to them feature unassuming white guys with crew cuts. Something's up. They don't seem as clear-cut and useful as Prop 5, anyway.
69: HELL NO, see the rant at the end of this post.
71: YES, no better way for California to help Bush's ass out the door than approving a $3billion bond for stem cell research, which would turn California into the leading place for that field in the entire world. Yes, 3 billion is a lot of money. But as long as we can get Maria to withold sex until her husband raises taxes if there's another crunch, we should be fine! And remember, the long-term effects of stem cell reasearch will likely include health costs going down for individuals.
72: YES, it's about time we got a "fuck Wal*Mart" proposition on the ballot. I am a little bit concerned about the effect on small business when the initiative takes effect on business with 50-199 employees in 2007. However, this would be a good way to set the example that health care is a right and not a privledge. Profit models for employers, ideally, should only be considered after covering employees' health has been done.

In fact, both 71 and 72 are important for the post-Bush era in America. Passing those two would mean that Americans are taking a leadership stance on something other than perpetual war. To stand up for medical innovation and comprehensive health coverage would help America re-brand itself in the eyes of the world, and it's just like us out here in Cali to drag America (kicking and screaming?) towards that goal.

Okay, happy voting! And as Governor Schwarzenegger likes to say, "when a woman votes no, she really means yes".

[rant] Lastly, dear Daily Nexus editorial board: Why are you endorsing 69? What kind of GATTACA bullshit is this? You're asking us to support the idea that anyone who gets arrested for anything could be forced to provide a DNA sample, and that people who haven't committed crimes could be stuck in DNA databases next to violent felons? Excuse me while I install telescreens on Storke Tower. This is some sort of "we aspire to be an important newspaper, so we take a series of bogus, token conservative positions to provide some semblance of artificial 'balance' so conservatives don't call us out" thing, isn't it? May you all get jobs at the Washington Post editorial page and not question Iraq intelligence. Yeesh! [end rant]

[slight hypocracy with caveat] Then again, I agree with Bob Barr on this one. On the other hand, agreeing with a civil libertarian on a non-culture-war issue doesn't make me a hypocrite. So there! [end slight hypocracy with caveat]

Did Petty Bourgeois fall for a phony Kerry/Fonda picture?

Both Kerry and Bush were interviewed for the most recent episode of Sabado Gigante. Obviously the sky is falling.
National election predictions and California ballot initiative endorsements coming tonight! But first, a little bit of mingling at Jurgensmeyer's place...

Suurre, that's why:
Oil futures prices sank to their lowest level in nearly a month today on a continuation of the selloff sparked last week by rising U.S. supplies of crude and easing fears about the refining industry's ability to satisfy heating oil demand...

December crude futures declined by $1.63 to settle at $50.13 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange -- the lowest closing price since Oct. 4, when futures settled at $49.91 per barrel. In London, December Brent crude futures fell $1.92 to $47.06 per barrel.
Hmmmmmmmmm... hmmm... too bad it's too late.
A curious question that I don't have time to research right now: How does the substantial percentage of people voting early in some states affect the conclusions drawn by exit polling on election day?
This is pretty funny too...
Josh Marshall notices some positive trends in the national polls...

I just got an email from Join Ahhnuld with his recommendations for this year's slate of ballot initiatives in California. I can't say I know how I got on that list, but whatever.

Here's the pdf version of his voter guide. And here's the text:
Please Join Governor Schwarzenegger by

Voting for His Initiative Recommendations

YES on Proposition 1-A - Protects Local Revenues
YES on Proposition 59 - Open, Responsible Government
NO on Proposition 63 - New Tax and State Bureaucracy
YES on Proposition 64 - Stops Shakedown Lawsuits
NO on Proposition 66 - Waters Down Three Strikes Law
NO on Proposition 67 - Special Interest Tax on Phones
NO on Proposition 68 - Casinos Near Residential Areas
YES on Proposition 69 - DNA Database for Convicted Felons
NO on Proposition 70 - Unlmtd. Expansion of Indian Casinos
NO on Proposition 72 - Job Killing Health Care Tax

For More Information About These
Initiatives Please Visit
Hey California voters: Notice something missing?

Proposition 71, the $3billion bond for stem cell research, was left off the list. Why is this especially peculiar? Because Governor Schwarzenegger recently endorsed that initiative.

What's going on here?

The answer, it seems, can be found here:
Left off his list was mention of Proposition 71, which would direct the state to borrow $3 billion to fund stem cell research. Schwarzenegger endorsed the measure against the wishes of the state GOP, which spent $2 million to print and mail the voter guides.
Ahh, ideological rigidity. How sweet.

(caution: this endorsement, like the candidate it ensorses, could get long-winded)

George Bush likes to go out on the campaign stump and crack wise about John Kerry using the two-word phrase “global test” in the first Presidential debate. Surely he distorts Kerry’s meaning—in fact, he interprets it as the exact opposite of what Kerry meant—but that’s beside the point.

There is a test in the 2004 Presidential election. But it’s not the “global test”. Simply enough, it’s the “competence and seriousness” test, and that test must be passed BEFORE a candidate’s preferred set of policies can ever be taken seriously. With the glaring holes in the security of our homeland, the crass and reckless politicization of the 9/11 attacks, and certainly the bungling of the war in Iraq at every step, George Walker Bush does not pass that test, and is therefore not qualified to continue serving as our Commander in Chief.

Nearly every problem currently affecting our efforts in Iraq can be traced directly to the incompetent actions of the Bush administration. It is in Iraq where Bush’s incompetence has created a Perfect Storm, one that has taken many forms.

Oversimplification: Bush’s stubborn insistence on total “debaathification” created an instant 50%-plus unemployment rate in Iraq, fueling frustration and giving the insurgency a steady flow of potential recruits.

Politics trumping counter-terrorism: Bush asked Tommy Franks to work on plans for Iraq at the exact time that Osama bin Laden was hiding in Tora Bora, planning his unnecessarily-easy escape. The administration concluded long ago that Osama was there, and now George and Dick lie about that fact on the campaign trail. Three separate plans were drawn up to take out Zarqawi and his terrorist camp in eastern Iraq, but were nixed because the administration worried doing so would undermine their case for invading Iraq; now Zarqawi may be behind the murders of hundreds of American troops in the country.

Destruction of America’s moral authority: The Bush administration’s cavalier attitude toward the Geneva Conventions led directly to Pentagon policies that allowed widespread torture to take place at Abu Ghraib prison.

Lies: WMD. Forty-five minutes. Reconstituted. Operational ties. Prague. “Africa.” Mushroom cloud. Ahmed Chalabi and the stovepiping of intelligence. OSP. Do you know how many times Clinton, or even Gore, would have been impeached by now?

Arrogance: The administration thought it was more useful to whip up anti-“Old Europe” sentiments for domestic political purposes than to stick with UN negotiations for just a few more weeks, which could have yielded a coalition with tens of thousands of French and German troops. But at least Poland was not forgotten.

Just plain bad planning: The administration’s insistence on Rumsfeld’s “less is more” philosophy of troop levels in wartime led directly—directly—to the looting of nuclear energy sites and explosive caches like Al Qaqaa.

Any one of the above items would be grounds for sending Bush back to his livestock-free ranch in Crawford. The fact that all of the above apply can lead me to only one conclusion: Bush and his buddies are fundamentally unfit for command, and I don’t need to lie about their military records to say that.

Many of these same phenomena can be found in George Bush’s domestic record, which does not stack up well next to his predecessor, to say the least.

On the environment (sadly, the issue talked about least in the campaign proportional to its importance), Bush’s entire policy is a farce, with foxes guarding every conceivable henhouse imaginable, and kickbacks to enviro-rapists masked with Orwelian names like “Clear Skies” and “Healthy Forests”. Cap-and-trade schemes have only served to transfer higher levels of pollution often to the immediate vicinity of the less fortunate among us. His record is so bad that in 2003 he resorted to taking credit for increased salmon populations in commercial fish-farms as a positive plank in his environmental record. As Bill Maher put it, tomorrow you should “vote your lungs”. (attn Nader-2000 voters: The guy who would have been President wrote Earth in the Balance)

Bush’s economic policies are a case study in how conservative dogma consistently comes before sound policy in this administration. To him, a tax cut is a good thing, in and of itself, it is an end that is justified by any means, and a mechanism that can create any desired end. Especially if the tax cut is tilted heavily toward the richest 1-2%. All he has done with his tax cuts is to divide America further, put more financial strain on state governments, and put money into the pockets of millionaires and billionaires without creating jobs.

That’s another thing: jobs. The Bush administration will be the first to oversee a net job loss since that of Herbert Hoover. Bush sold his 2003 round of tax cuts (the ones on dividends, the most top-heavy tax cut pretty much in the history of modern democracy, and the only wartime tax cut in the history of, well, Earth) as a employment stimulus package, yet the job market has substantially hovered far below his own predictions.

Bush’s job record is so bad that in the third debate, when he struggled to verbally promote his policies on jobs, he told America’s unemployed that “when you think about it, the No Child Left Behind act is really a jobs bill”. I’ll let that stand for itself.

The rest of Bush’s domestic policy is nothing but the usual conservative deception we’ve come to expect. Chicken-Little talk on Social Security, a program that would be solvent for another 40 years if we did absolutely nothing, which we wont anyway. An energy policy written in the shadows by Enron executives and their buddies, with bogus claims that drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge would make us more independent of Saudi oil, even though we wouldn’t see a drop of oil from there for years. A policy on science that puts the arrival at Republican-Jesus-approved conclusions above actual empirical study and evidence. Administration members who have the audacity to tell inconvenient truths are shown the door. The list goes on and on…

Electing John Kerry as our next President would arrest the anti-progress of the “Mayberry Machiavellis” in Bush’s administration. Kerry, who as a Senator voted for the 1993 deficit reduction package and the balancing of the budget, would restore fiscal sanity to our nation, no matter how many bloated, misleading statistics Bush can conjure about his voting record. Despite its hidden status in the campaign, Kerry will make protecting the natural environment a high priority, and will not have coal and lumber executives making decisions for us.

Kerry may be very well off, both on his own and through his marriage, yet his understanding of the needs of middle and working class Americans is genuine, and can be seen through his economic policies; he seeks to move the tax burden back away from the middle class, to which Bush has done his darnedest to shift it. As it was put in Gladiator, it is more important to be a man for the people than a man of the people. By comparison, Bush’s populism is a pageant of brush-clearing, photo-ops and bait-and-switch policies.

The area where John Kerry is most superior to Bush is as a Commander in Chief. He offers precisely what Bush lacks: seriousness and competence. Bush called Kerry’s Iraq strategy one of “retreat and defeat,” but the reality is that of the two candidates, John Kerry is the only one that has any chance in hell of achieving our goals in Iraq. It’s not that Kerry’s plan is radically different from Bush’s policy-wise, it’s that Kerry brings a much higher level of credibility with our traditional allies and others to the situation. He has a much better chance of securing cooperation, and perhaps troop commitments, from the very countries the President shunned in 2003. (These countries seek to hedge their bets in this election, and are therefore not yet endorsing sending troops) Bush’s mismanagement of the war may have destroyed our efforts in Iraq beyond repair, but at least Kerry gives us a chance.

If, however, Kerry is unsuccessful at improving the situation in Iraq, he is more likely than Bush to realize this, recognize a mistake when he sees it, and change course. There is a difference between steady leadership and stubborn leadership, and Kerry embodies the former. Kerry’s experience in Vietnam is pivotal, for it gave him the humility and the understanding necessary to view war as something more than a Pentagon-run video game.

Kerry will bring the same seriousness and competence to the effort to stop Al Qaeda from future terrorist attacks. He will be forceful and strong in the effort, no matter what Bush’s apologists say; consider that the Bush campaign has had to use John Kerry’s votes to cut the defense and intelligence budgets at the end of the Cold War—when pretty much everyone, Cheney and Porter Goss included, was voting that way—to paint him as soft on national security. It’s very telling.

Finally, while the Democratic Party is as energized and mobilized as it has ever been, it sometimes seems as if enthusiasm for Kerry himself doesn’t quite measure up. If such is the case—and I think this phenomenon is far overstated—then perhaps it is because mainstream Democrats have been spoiled by Bill Clinton. (Interestingly enough, Kerry will probably be a more liberal President than Bill) But more than that, it was always going to be this way: This election was always going to be, in large part, a referendum on Bush’s performance in his first term, and to say that this indicates a reluctance among Democrats to fully fall for Kerry is an invalid conclusion to draw.

So in short: Seriousness, competence, fiscal sanity, the restoration of America’s reputation around the world, and principled leadership. For all of the above, The Facts Machine endorses John Forbes Kerry for President of the United States.

Sunday, October 31, 2004


Polls open on the east coast in a little over 30 hours. Yikes! Okay, so there's been early voting for a while now, but there's nothing like the day-of, man.

Tomorrow, look for my official endorsement for President (duh), California Senator (double-duh) and Goleta School Board (why hello there). Plus, be on the lookout for my guide to California's full slate of ballot initiatives. Yay ballot initiatives: Just one more way to tie Arnold's hands, and the women of California must be thankful for that!

On election day, I will be doing doorknob-hangings with Campus Dems at 5:30 in the freaking morning. Exciting!

One last question for the masses: What has been the funniest thing to come out the 2004 campaign? The JibJab video? The love-practicing OB-GYN's? The foul-mouthed CNN producer during the balloon drop? The wolves? Yeeaarrgghh? The twins at the convention? Alexandra Kerry's choice of evening-wear? When Bush strangled that Ashley girl in broad daylight?

My money's on The Poor Man's parody of Bush-Cheney's "Muhammad Horton" ad. (warning: not suitable to everyone's tastes)
On the 31st, two days before the election, according to Andrea Moro's EC predictor, the collections of polls at both NowChannel (formerly and RealClearPolitics are trending Kerry. Of course this could all change in a matter of hours...

The final numbers from Gallup, as well as the latest Zogby battleground polls and the national tracking polls all have it very close and trending towards Kerry...

Gimme some candy!
"Now give me some candy!"

Since their inception in 1933, the Washington Redskins have correctly predicted every presidential race of incumbent vs. challenger. Whenever they have won their game immediately before election day, the incumbent has remained in office. When they have lost, the challenger has taken over. (NOTE: This may only be true for home games; I have not double-checked that.)

Today's result: Green Bay 28 - Washington 14. And it was at home anyway. By this highly-scientific logic, we will have a new president in three days.
Ben White, former TFM housemate, has joined the blog as an election correspondent. If anyone else wants to join up for election day, email/comment and I'll send out an invite.

I'll either be across the state line or working on the local GOTV effort (there are other races too, ya know) on Tues, hence the TFM election-day "front-door draft".

Yet the Columbus Dispatch does that one better: It's close, and it's completely decided!
President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are tied at just less than 50 percent in a new Dispatch Poll.

How close is this matchup? Kerry leads by a mere eight votes out of 2,880 ballots returned in the mail survey — the tightest margin ever in a final Dispatch Poll.
50-50. Wow. And here I thought Ohio was full of undecided voters.

This poll is of "registered" voters, by the way.

The good news for Kerry is that he leads substantially among independent voters in the state (14 percent). And then there this from the how-we-did-it page:
The Dispatch obtained a computerized list of registered voters in Ohio from the secretary of state. Those who had not voted since 1999 were eliminated from the list.

Because the secretary of state was still processing new voter registrations when The Dispatch obtained the database, the polling sample includes only about 88 percent of voters who registered this year, including those from Ohio’s largest counties. Data from 20 smaller counties included new registrations only through May.
Hmm. Wonder how that other 12 percent breaks down.


Via a Kos diarist, John Zogby polls young mobile-phone users:
Polling firm Zogby International and partner Rock the Vote found Massachusetts Senator John Kerry leading President Bush 55% to 40% among 18-29 year-old likely voters in their first joint Rock the Vote Mobile political poll, conducted exclusively on mobile phones October 27 through 30, 2004. Independent Ralph Nader received 1.6%, while 4% remain undecided in the survey of 6,039 likely voters. The poll is centered on subscribers to the Rock the Vote Mobile (RTVMO) platform, a joint initiative of Rock the Vote and Motorola Inc. (for more information: The poll has margin of error of +/-1.2 percentage points.

The poll also found that only 2.3% of 18-29 year-old respondents said they did not plan to vote, and another .5% who were not sure if they would. The results of the survey are weighted for region, gender, and political party.

The Rock the Vote Mobile political poll was conducted using a sample group from Rock the Vote Mobile’s 120,000-subscriber base. Participants in the Rock the Vote Mobile (RTVMO) platform, a civic engagement initiative launched last March by Rock the Vote and Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT), responded to this poll between October 27 and October 30.

“The results of this text-message poll mirror what we’re seeing in our more conventional polls,” said John Zogby, CEO and president of Utica, N.Y.-based Zogby International. “Among 18-29 year-olds, Kerry leads the President by 14 points—55% to 41% in our current daily tracking poll—virtually identical to these results. Our text-message poll seems to have been validated by this experiment. All in all, I think we’ve broken some new ground in polling.”
Hmm, 2.3% of 18-29 cell-users not voting. So in other words, this poll suggests a turnout rate of 97.7 percent among young mobile-phone voters! I can't imagine such a trend could possibly hold over the entire age demographic, but it does suggest that turnout among young adults in 2004 will be higher than it was in 2000, percentage-wise. And that's not good news for the President.

Perhaps some of the respondents were ashamed to say they weren't going to vote, and that's why the number is so low? Perhaps. But mass text messages aren't exactly the most personal, intimidating way to do polls, so I don't think there's an embarassment factor at play here.

It does lend some credence to the possibliity that cellphone-only young voters could constitute a pro-Kerry "hidden stash", though I wouldn't count on it alone for his victory.

"Don't forget to dress up!"

Whenever the guy that runs doesn't use partisan polls (i.e. Strategic Vision, a Republican outlet) in the battleground states, but uses neutral organizations instead, Kerry always seems to be in the lead.

From Salon's War Room comes a report of what will appear in the new edition of Newsweek:
Secretary of State Colin Powell has privately confided to friends in recent weeks that the Iraqi insurgents are winning the war, according to Newsweek. The insurgents have succeeded in infiltrating Iraqi forces "from top to bottom," a senior Iraqi official tells Newsweek in tomorrow's issue of the magazine, "from decision making to the lower levels."

This is a particularly troubling development for the U.S. military, as it prepares to launch an all-out assault on the insurgent strongholds of Fallujah and Ramadi, since U.S. Marines were counting on the newly trained Iraqi forces to assist in the assault. Newsweek reports that "American military trainers have been frantically trying to assemble sufficient Iraqi troops" to fight alongside them and that they are "praying that the soldiers perform better than last April, when two battalions of poorly trained Iraqi Army soldiers refused to fight."

If the Fallujah offensive fails, Newsweek grimly predicts, "then the American president will find himself in a deepening quagmire on Inauguration Day."
Well that's not good!

One might argue that the very fact that we have to go on the offensive in Fallujah this far into the effort -- at a time when people like Richard Perle were predicting that statues of Bush would be erected by the Iraqi people -- is an implication that we're in a quagmire. After a drink or two, Powell would certainly agree.

But here's the thing: What the hell is our offensive in Falljah going to accomplish? Certainly we're trying to flex our muscles by sending our troops there in droves, but really, how will that help? The insurgents and others who took over the town will largely vanish into the shadows, we'll take over the town without eliminating the insurgent problem, and then what? We keep a permanent elevated military presence there? Put thousands of troops in a place that's heard nothing but anti-US propaganda for months? We might as well put signs on the back of the troops' unis that say "IED me".

We can't do what Israel does, that being send in troops to kill a bunch of people on a list, and destroy some buildings, then largely pull out, because that will not alleviate the problems we already have there.

We can't play by 1980's Syrian "Hama rules" (flattening the entire place as a warning to everyone else) because, unlike authoritarin Syria, the "reason" we're in Iraq is to promote democracy, something that doesn't go well with turning cities into parking lots. Since it would be Americans doing the flattening (since we can't trust our Iraqi troops for the reasons Powell mentions), and many Iraqis are likely to view our actions through the lens of our relationship with Israel, fucking up Fallujah would seem to them a bit too Deir Yassin-ish of us for their tastes.

See why we're fucked?

Neocons: More tank, less think. Damn them.
"wolves, ostriches, and now this"

News departments of major papers need infusion of animal metaphors stat!

Former Daily Nexus editor Brendan Buhler noticed some synergy of metaphorical citation between Ron Brownstein of the LA Times and John F. Harris of the WaPo. In short, both of them must have copied off my notes in PS 189 last spring (if this is the case, then God help them).

First, Brownstein's "Why 'This Is About Bush'":
Half a century ago, the philosopher Isaiah Berlin famously separated intellectuals and artists into two categories: the fox, who is clever, creative, committed to many goals; and the hedgehog, a creature driven by a single unwavering conviction. By Berlin's standards, Bush has produced one of the purest examples of a hedgehog presidency.
And Harris' "The Choice: Opposing Instincts About Leadership:
The vivid contrast offered by Bush and Kerry is in many ways a recognizable one for students of leadership. In 1953, British philosopher Isaiah Berlin wrote an essay, "The Hedgehog and the Fox," that has been studied for years by historians. Playing off an ancient Greek proverb, which held that "the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing," Berlin wrote that most people gravitate by instinct and habits of mind to one style or the other.
I suppose Berlin isn't the most obscure contemporary political philosopher out there (sure beats Huntington though), but perhaps it's enough to wonder whether Harris had the dreaded combo: a hangover and a deadline. Hey, that's what the entirety of UCSB is going through right now.

Buhler offers his own visual representation of what animals the candidates embody:

Is it just me, or does Bush look like a man with an enlarged prostate trying to urinate?
By no small coincidence, Osama bin Laden has released a new video right before our presidential election. Not to be outdone, Paris Hilton is also expecting to release a new video before the election.

Ben Affleck offered his encouragement to bin Laden, saying, "Don't worry. Most of my work should have gone straight to video, too."

I'm sorry, this is supposed to be a political blog, isn't it?