Here We Go! China Selling Dollars!

China Says It Will Pursue a `More Flexible' Currency. And this, Dollar expected to fall amid China's rumoured selling

If true, this almost certainly means the long-expected "realignment" of the dollar is beginning. And this means the United States, and everyone in it, is going to have to reduce their borrowing.

We have been running a huge trade deficit, which accumulates. We buy more stuff than we sell, so the rest of the world keeps receiving more and more dollars. They are not sending the dollars back to us by buying things we make. When you have a whole lot of something the way you get rid of it is to lower its price. Because we have been borrowing to buy things from the rest of the world, the rest of the world has a whole, whole lot of dollars. And when you hear about the dollar "dropping" it means that others are lowering its price. Where they were selling dollar for a Euro a couple of years ago, now they're selling them for .77 Euros each. And still no one has been buying, so in a few weeks they'll be trying maybe half a Euro each.

What does this mean? It means everything that we import is going to cost a lot more. Things that cost a Euro before will cost two. Take a look at everything in your house that is made in China or somewhere like that, and think about that. But it also means everything we make will be in demand, which means more jobs - after a while.

But there's something else it means. Trade is not the only place we have a deficit. We also borrow hundreds of billions of dollars every year to run our government. THAT is where those extra dollars have been going -- they have been loaning them back to us. And now they are not going to be so inclined to do that. And that means that the government has two choices. One is to stop borrowing so much money. The other is to offer enough incentive that people will continue to loan them money. Incentive in this case means interest rates, and that means the end of the housing bubble and of easy credit and a lot of other things.

Cutting the deficit means raising taxes and/or cutting spending. There is a lot of room to raise taxes at the top - Clinton did this and it led to years of prosperity - but very little room to raise them on anyone else. And there is a fat chance less than zero of THIS government raising taxes on the rich! So that means cutting spending. There is even less of a fat chance that they will cut military spending, so it means cutting health care, education, criminal justice -- there just isn't much money outside of military spending so it's all going to be cut deeply...

If China and others really are finally ready to let the price of the dollar drop, it means big changes in store of all of us. The public does not realize the extent to which our standard of living has depended on our borrowing. And our borrowing might just be about to hit a wall.

Taking a break

I've said I was going to do this before, but I really need to take a break now and get my own life together. During my 2 1/2 years as a political blogger, I've let a lot of things slide, and I hope to get back to them. (One of these will be a new, less-political blog where I can develop my many other interests.)

I am not doing this out of hopelessness, though the election was a serious blow. I had hoped that with Kerry in office, the pressure would be relieved by now. That was not to be, so we're in for the long haul. But there's less urgency now than there was before the election, and this is probably the time for a vacation. I plan to be back, perhaps posting less, at some point not too far in the future.

Contrary to many, I think that there should be a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. I've mostly quit asking the Democrats to be more liberal, but I think that they absolutely have to be more effectual. One example of ineffectuality especially galls me. The fraudulent Swift Boat attacks really did hurt Kerry, and the Democratic response was initially very weak. I saw this kind of thing coming, and in February and March I spent most of a month starting a webpage to catalogue and respond to internet smears. My page attracted very little interest, from the blogosphere or anyone else, and I stopped updating it in April. I assumed then that it was just me, and that the Kerry people had someone else on the job, but I don't really think that that was true. (The one blogger who was definitely interested, Hesiod of Theogeny, apparently was rebuffed in his own attempts to work with the Democrats, and he has closed down his site. I have been told that one high official in the Kerry campaign actually told the staff to stay away from blogs entirely.)

I think that the Democratic Party is dominated by a group which is more successful at winning intraparty fights than they are at winning elections. I also suspect that they really don't suffer much when the Democrats are defeated, and are thus lacking any incentive. I even suspect that some of them, a la Martin Peretz, are so hostile to the left wing of the party that they'd rather lose with a centrist than win with a liberal [/paranoia]. Gore actually did better when he was taking a more populist approach, but his pros put the kibosh on that. I have read that Shrum explained, even before the results were in, that the message of this election is that the Democrats have to be more militaristic.

What I think that the Democrats have to do is put together a coherent message, present it effectively, and keep hitting at Bush. They do not need to move further to the right.

My recent posts have been of two types: the normal "What should the Democrats do now?" type, and the more alarmist "Watch for fascism" type. I would be glad to find out that the latter type of post is mistaken, but let's just keep our eyes open. We know that Bush and his crew are going to do everything legal or semi-legal they can to marginalize the Democrats entirely, and we should also keep a lookout for illegal and police-state actions. As the Middle East War heats up, we should expect the first people to be attacked to be the anti-war activists.

As I understand it, Bush is sure to have some combination of military and fiscal crisis during his term, and how he deals with the resistance when that happens will tell us a lot. People are talking as if he'll go quietly once the shit hits the fan, but that's what we really don't know.

Gay Marriage

There's been a lot of discussion about the sixth of the electorate which voted for Bush on the basis of "moral values". While various issues can be lumped under "moral values", I think that it is correct to assume that this phrase is a code for opposition to abortion and gay marriage. There are also questions as to whether this year was any different than 2000 or earlier years – i.e., whether the new issue of gay marriage specifically had any important effect.

One thing to remember is that the Republican noise machine will always be able to find something. In the most egregious case, in 2002 they succeeded in convincing a certain number of voters that the Wellstone funeral was virtually a Nuremburg rally. Likewise, when they needed to, the party of homophobia was able to whip up a bunch of phony concern over's Kerry's mention of Cheney's lesbian daughter. In both cases, the specific issue wasn't important. Before the 2002 election, and right after the third debate, the slime machine needed something to work with, and they didn't really care what it was.

After a first flurry of reports, many spokespeople on both sides are now denying that gay marriage was a decisive issue. However, I'm not convinced. Republicans have two reasons for denying that it gay marriage was important. First, many hip Republicans want to deny the degree to which homophobia was an key part of the Republican campaign. Second, cynical Republicans do not want the Democrats to distance themselves from gay marriage. Among Democrats, many seem to be denying that gay marriage was an important issue this year because they also do not want Democrats to distance themselves from gay issues.

Now, in my travels around the blogosphere, I find many Democrats for whom the social issues (abortion and gay rights) are the most important and almost absolute. This bothers me, because my main issues are war and peace on the one hand, and economic democracy on the other, and I sometimes find that social-issues Democrats are far too willing to cut deals with the Republicans on my issues. (As far as war and peace goes, Kerry himself was careful not to sound dovish either on Iraq or Israel. He just said that he would run the Iraq war more effectively).

Politics consists of making deals, and I'm willing to deal. However, if I suggest, as I'm now doing, that gay issues be soft-pedaled a little, and that my own issues be stressed a little more, I run the risk of being declared a homophobe. In other words, other people's issues are absolute, and mine are not.

Andy Sullivan is a beautiful case in point. For about ten years now, he's hurt the Democrats as much as he's been able to. He absolutely disagrees with me about almost everything. But about two weeks before the election, having finally figured out that the Republican Party just plain hates him, he finally came over to the Kerry camp.

That would have been worth one vote, if Sullivan were a citizen. But this was an indication that -- yes indeed -- the Democratic Party is the party of gay marriage. And so what Sullivan gave us was just a nice albatross around our neck. Thanks, Andy!

As it turned out, despite everything 23% of the GLB vote -- which is 4% of the total -- went to Bush. In other words, we traded 17% of the vote for 3%. There's a lot more involved here than just numbers, of course, but from a cold-blooded that really doesn't look like a good deal at all.

Clinton suggested that Kerry should support one of the anti-gay-marriage initiatives. Nobody likes Clinton's opportunism, but he is a guy who has a track record of winning. What would have happened if Kerry had taken Clinton's advice?

To begin with, all of the initiatives passed anyway, so nothing would have changed in that respect. As for the Presidential race, we can't be sure that Kerry would have won if he had supported the initiatives, but by clearly dissociating himself from gay marriage he would have neutralized that issue.

Ans based on my own small-town experience, I can assure you that there are lot of people who are otherwise Democrats but homophobic. One high school friend has a gay sister, but please don't tell him that. My mom has a gay cousin whom she dearly loves, but she doesn't want to hear about that either. My mom remains a strong Democrat, but I can't be sure about the highschool friend.

So is everyone opposed to gay marriage a homophobe and a bigot? There are many who accept domestic partnerships, but not gay marriage. How much is the difference between domestic partnership and gay marriage worth? (Even for most GLB's, gay marriage and related issues are seldom the most important political issues; war and peace, prosperity and stagnation, and social security "reform" affect everyone). There's been enormous progress on gay issues over the last 30 or 40 years. Do we really need to push it this one step farther?

Marriage is an ancient religious institution, and historically gay marriage is very rare indeed. To my mind there's a lot of weirdness involved in traditional marriage, but on the other hand it's central to a lot of people's lives. (Some families spend a whole year planning for weddings, virtually bankrupting themselves.) Maybe it's not a good idea to poke them in the ribs and tell them that marriage is something different than they thought it was. Let marriage be their thing.

As it is, we've lost everything, including gay marriage. For four years Bush is going to be able to do whatever he wants. Speaking for myself, I wish that this issue had never come up at all.

Poll results (thanks to Sisyphus Shrugged)

Blogging as News/Analysis Marketplace

This is reposted because Blogger seems to have eaten the previous posting!

Last week I worked at MSNBC as a "Hardblogger" and assisting with election coverage. This summer I was one of the bloggers invited to the Democratic Convention in Boston. Working with "the media" was an eye-opening experience. Usually my blogging day involves reading news sources and blogs online, and watching news and whatever-that's-called on cable TV. But at the convention I found myself "inside the bubble" that professional media people live in. From the time I got up I was working, talking to important people, blogging what I was seeing, etc. After a couple of days of this I realized I knew nothing about what had been going on out in the world, and was depending on second-hand sources for quick "bullet-point" summaries of major events. In other words I learned that news people are BUSY. And when you are that BUSY you are not able to read the news, cruise the blogs, make connections, etc.

We live in a world where information overload results in people having less information, not more.

In one of my brilliant post-convention posts, A Role for Bloggers After All - Part II, I wrote about this information isolation, and how bloggers are part of a solution:
"This is not like my usual blogging environment, with time to read the morning news and several other blogs. I grab some news off of the internet. I get information from talking to other bloggers. This is significant.

A LOT of what I usually write about comes from detailed following what's in the media ... There was almost no opportunity for any of that at the convention, and I can see how in the Washington or New York top-level journalist life there is little opportunity either.

So - special role of Blogging #2: we bring important stories to the attention of the readers, and our readers include media and political circles.
Here's why I think blogging plays a role as a reasonable, although partial, solution to the news process. Blogs function as an almost perfect marketplace for information and ideas.

Let me explain. Someone told me that now there are something like four million bloggers. Almost of all of them have a least a few readers, many of whom are also bloggers. When a blogger sees something interesting, the blogger links to it -- that's a big part of what blogging is. As soon as that link appears on the next blog, then you have the bloggers who read that blog exposed to the story/idea. And if they like it THEY link to it, and the bloggers who read THEM link to it. One post can rapidly move to two to four to eight to sixteen to two hundred fifty six blogs, and so on. Think of it as a chain reaction. One post can quickly become a subject for the entire blogosphere.

Some of these blogs have lots of non-blogging readers. So important stories, insightful comments and good ideas can very quickly come to the attention of a very large number of people. This is an information marketplace, and it is filtered in a near-perfect way. Blogging is a process where, over time, information that is interesting or important to numbers of people forces its way to widespread attention.

This blogging market process is also what economists would call a "rapid-clearing" market. This means that it takes very little time for the market forces to act and bring the market to its equilibrium. In other words, at the end of a day or two every blogger that is going to notice the posts and decide whether to add their "vote" and link to them will have had the chance to act or not.

It is not a completely perfect market, because blog readership is not perfectly distributed. There are a few weblogs that have the huge lion's share of readers. (Sort of like the distribution of Bush's tax cuts.) So important stories/ideas have to break through individual gatekeepers. One way around this is to make a habit of reading more than just a few weblogs. Another way is for those weblogs with lots of readers to make a point of bringing less-known weblogs to the attention of readers. Like guitar cases stickers that say, "Real musicians have day jobs," you can recognize which weblogs are still "real bloggers" by the number of other weblogs on their blogroll.

So I think this is an important role for bloggers, and it exists independently of individual bloggers. It doesn't matter who initially posts, and it doesn't matter on an individual level who decides to link or not, because of all the other bloggers. No individual or group can block a story from spreading. (Influential bloggers can certainly cause a story to spread more rapidly.) It is a "natural process." It serves to bring important or interesting news/stories/ideas/analysis to broad public attention in a hurry. This can serve as a filter for "big media," tipping them off to things they should bring out of the blogosphere to their own, wider audience.

Bloggered Again Again

I posted a piece about blogging as a marketplace for info. it was up for a few hours today, and pepole left comments, and now it is gone. It has simply disappeared. (Maybe it will mysteriously return?)

Bloggered again. I'll move away from Blogger as soon as I can. Sorry.



What difference does it make?

Escalate the Ridicule

One of the silliest explanations of the Bush victory is Dave Brooks' idea that Red State people voted for Bush because their feelings had been hurt by the elitist ridicule being sent their way by liberals. Brooks is a virtuoso of silly pop-psychology explanations, and this is one of his best. I'm sure that stupid people don't like being called stupid, but they vote the way they do because they believe what they've been told, not because their feelings have been hurt.

For example, one thing we do know is that Bush voters were about three times more likely than Kerry voters to believe the erroneous Bush cover story about the Second Iraq War, and we also know that the reason that they do so is that they've been ill-served by the media. And lo! -- who is it that's been asking us to have more respect for misinformed people? It's the media people who have been keeping the Red States misinformed!

Similiarly, George Will, whose worship of the dollar is well-attested both in his personal life and in his political positions, is very proud of the noble people in Kansas and elsewhere who do not vote their economic interest. George loves those guys, because he's got them voting his economic interest instead of their own. Quite a triumph for George!

One of the messages we're being sent here is "Don't mess with our dumb followers". A guy I know has an athletic, semi-retarded 250-lb. friend who's surprisingly quick with his fists. This guy gets a lot of respect, and it's no mystery why. The Republicans are telling us that their dupes may be dumb, but there are a lot of them, and they're tougher than we are. Will, Brooks, and the rest actually have no more respect for the Moral Majority than Woody Allen does, but they know better than to let that out.

There's a second reason why they want us to avoid ridicule. Brooks and a hundred other national and local columnists got their jobs as affirmative-action, hire-the-handicapped conservatives. Repeating conservative talking points is basically part of their job description. As it happens, a lot of these talking points are stupid and are directed primarily at stupid people. So when we ridicule the talking points, it's as if we're saying that Brooks himself is stupid.

So fine, David. You're not stupid. Neither is George Will. Neither is George Bush. You're a bunch of pimps, making your livings keeping the Silent Majority misinformed. Happy now?

So I say, escalate the ridicule. That won't help us win the election, but we can't be on duty all the time, and it's sort of fun to see if the oily Mr. Brooks has any threshold of embarassment at all.

P.S. I have never understood what was wrong with cursing the darkness, either. I mean, Eleanor Roosevelt was a wonderful person, but really -- fuck the darkness.

(Un) Civil War

After the devastation of November 2nd… what? I think both solace and challenge are necessary. Lately I have found the most solace in the reflection that destruction is in the nature of things, and always gives rise to the unexpected and to renewal in some form. Let’s say Rove is successful in his nefarious scheme to deprive the Democrats of a base, by crushing all the prosperous groups that make up that base – trial lawyers, for example. Let’s say we as Democrats are crushed all the way down to the level of the common people – by that I mean that no major industry could advance its interests by backing our candidates, or giving us money. Such a disaster would give the party tremendous clarity about where its political interests and heart really lie. From that disaster a new pro-labor, pro-social welfare, stripped down, lean and mean fighting machine party would arise.

Now to the challenge.

The day after the defeat I read on Andrew Sullivan: “…the most fundamental fact of this campaign – and one of the reasons that it has been so bitter – is that we are at war. Our opponents at home are not our enemies.”

Ah… not our enemies? By one definition, my enemy is one who tries to deprive me of life, liberty, or my pursuit of happiness. To enlarge the circle, my enemy is one who tries to wreck my future and the future of my family and community.

I posted a couple of weeks ago about the Natl. Science Foundation study that found that 18,000 Americans die every year because they lack health insurance. Most of us are one or two layoffs away from such a loss. By whose ‘moral values’ is the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans over a decade unimportant? In addition we are facing the bankrupting of the Federal Government at the hands of the Rethuglicans, whose congress is nothing more than a looting machine for the special interests. (So much for conservatism, southern style!) What impact on the blue states will such policies have? How many citizens who are not represented in this government will die? How many will have their futures devastated?

I was talking to a friend about the possible bankrupting of social security and she said, “Don’t think it can’t happen. I was in Argentina when the streets filled with eighty year olds banging on pots because they didn’t have anything to eat.” In the Rethuglican Congress, social security is on the block because the same crew that brought us free market health care and the California debacle of energy deregulation wants to play with the retirement funds of millions of working Americans. This is an attack on we-the-people. It must be fought.

There has been much talk about how Democrats should work up an appeal to red states that caters to red state concern for moral values. I think there is much to be said for clarifying, strengthening, and developing a rhetoric for our values. We need to bring poetry and passion into our politics. But we should not be pandering to those who have chosen to sell out their future and the future of their children by kissing the ass of the ruling class. If this is ‘values’ let them have it.

Our situation demands honesty as a first principle, not pandering. The red states are by and large centers of poverty, not entrepreneurial culture, higher education, science and the arts. Our blue state tax dollars support their failures. Now they are going to try to drive the country down to the economic and cultural level of Alabama and East Texas, and they can do this because rural areas are over-represented at the Federal level.

I think the Rethuglican voters – neighbors, friends, relatives – need to know how we feel. We need to begin Democratic soul-searching with a fearless embrace of our interests. We must put our families and communities first. Liberal politics has been saturated with guilt and a lack of confidence that comes from striving to be good yet having doubt about what that means. This era, I suspect, will fade, because it is not our ‘goodness’ that is at stake, but indeed our survival.


Another way of looking at the results...

If you take away the 2 extra votes each state gets for their Senate delegation, and go purely on a representation by population basis, Bush's margin becomes even slimmer:

Bush: 224 :: 286 - 62 (31 states x 2 "extra" votes apiece)
Kerry: 212 :: 252 - 40 (19 states and "DC" x 2 "extra" votes apiece)

The real margin of victory is 6 electoral votes, or Iowa (5) and New Mexico (3) (for example). A mandate? I don't think so.

--Thomas Leavitt

Two variations on the theme of secession...

Canada (with new provinces) vs. United States of Evangelicals.


United States of Canada vs. Jesusland. Here's a Jesusland decal/t-shirt: "Exiting Reality & Now Entering..."

Of course, we'd want to take along parts of Ohio and Iowa, I think. :) I guess we can have our version of Guantanamo in Southern Florida, too.

--Thomas Leavitt

DAILY STUNNER: More missing weapons in Iraq: Surface to Air Missiles

[Got this out of the SF Chronicle. Checked in Google News. Less than 10 other references, 9 of which were wire repeats of the original article (from the NYT). The Washington Post printed a story that essentially rehashed the same material without much additional reporting. I'm surprised that this doesn't have more currency in bloggerdom or the media, considering that these are the ideal terrorist weapon for taking out civilian (and certain military) aircraft with minimal personal risk. -Thomas]

Missing Iraq arms triple unaccounted-for SAMs
- Douglas Jehl, David E. Sanger, New York Times
Saturday, November 6, 2004

Washington -- 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.

The officials said they did not know whether missiles from Iraq remain there or have been smuggled into other countries, though a senior administration official said Friday that "there is no evidence that they have left the country."

It was unclear whether Iraqi military or intelligence personnel removed the missile systems during the initial invasion of Iraq or whether they disappeared from Iraqi warehouses after major combat ended.

[... continued at link above ...]

--Thomas Leavitt

David Cobb on Slashdot

I just stumbled across this exchange between Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb and various Slashdot members. Interesting stuff... rarely do you see a level of question/response this detailed.

--Thomas Leavitt


On the verge of runaway global warming?

[On my personal weblog, I have a category called "Death of The Planet?" ... the item below is a classic example. Stuff like this should be headline news, instead, it is buried on the back pages and not thought about in the corridors of power. Ratification of the Kyoto protocol and the state of the global environment should have been a major topic of discussion in the recent presidential election... wonder why they weren't? See this Green Party press release: Kerry, Bush Defer to Lobbies on Global Warming, Fossil Fuels.

I think that the cause of this can be traced to increased economic activity in India and China - more coal being burned for power, more gasoline being consumed in automobiles. ... and it is only going to get worse: GDP's don't expand at near double digit rates (or better) without increased energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

Twenty years from now, we're going to look back on this era, and wonder how we missed the many obvious signals of distress and impending disaster being given off by the planet's ecosystem. Our descendants will curse our ignorance and blindness. -Thomas]

Climate fear as carbon levels soar
Scientists bewildered by sharp rise of CO2 in atmosphere for second year running

Paul Brown, environment correspondent
Monday October 11, 2004

The Guardian

An unexplained and unprecedented rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere two years running has raised fears that the world may be on the brink of runaway global warming.
Scientists are baffled why the quantity of the main greenhouse gas has leapt in a two-year period and are concerned that the Earth's natural systems are no longer able to absorb as much as in the past.

The findings will be discussed tomorrow by the government's chief scientist, Dr David King, at the annual Greenpeace business lecture.

Measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere have been continuous for almost 50 years at Mauna Loa Observatory, 12,000ft up a mountain in Hawaii, regarded as far enough away from any carbon dioxide source to be a reliable measuring point.

In recent decades CO2 increased on average by 1.5 parts per million (ppm) a year because of the amount of oil, coal and gas burnt, but has now jumped to more than 2 ppm in 2002 and 2003.

[... continued at link above ...]

Blue State Independence Movement

Claudia Long over at The Smirking Chimp agrees with me. California and the Blue States should secede.

--Thomas Leavitt

3,893 bogus electronic votes for Bush in Ohio... and counting.

[A real confidence builder, eh?

Apparently, the process for identifying these errors doesn't occur until the official count takes place later this month. Which means there could be a bunch more errors out there that haven't yet been noticed (though probably not)... the fat lady doesn't officially sing until all the votes are officially tallied and certified. I'd love to see the look on Bush's face if by some bizarre chain of events, the results are over-turned. -Thomas]

Glitch gave Bush extra votes in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- An error with an electronic voting system gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in suburban Columbus, elections officials said.

Franklin County's unofficial results had Bush receiving 4,258 votes to Democrat John Kerry's 260 votes in a precinct in Gahanna. Records show only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct.

Bush actually received 365 votes in the precinct, Matthew Damschroder, director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, told The Columbus Dispatch.

[... continued at link above ...]

--Thomas Leavitt

More On This, Please

Mary says that reported election results vs exit polls are different for areas with and without touch-screen machines that do not have a paper trail, and that those differences always favor Republicans.

What do you think? I don't know. I'd like to see a definitive study. And there probably will be one. But it's not like we can do anything about it.

Have you noticed less spam recently?

Over the last couple of days I've been getting 5 or 10 spams a day instead of 100+. At first
I thought that maybe my host had put on a better spam blocker, or maybe that Ashcroft was
intercepting my mail, but this story probably tells me why:

"Jeremy Jaynes of Raleigh, N.C., one of the Internet's top 10 spammers,
according to watchdogs, was convicted in the first felony spam case...... He and
his sister, Jessica DeGroot, were both found guilty by a jury that then
recommended a jail term of nine years for Jaynes and a fine of $7,500 for

Nine years seems like a lot, but probably half the jury were spam victims. I'm not sure that this
guy could have gotten a fair trial anywhere.

To Understand Republican Election Strategy

See the slave map.

Update - From Talking Points Memo:
It all reminds me of a line from a famous, or rather infamous, memo Pat Buchanan, then a White House staffer, wrote for Richard Nixon in, I believe, 1972 when their idea of the moment was what they called 'positive polarization'.
At the end of this confidential strategy memo laying out various ideas about how to create social unrest over racial issues and confrontations with the judiciary, Buchanan wrote (and you can find this passage on p. 185 of Jonathan Schell's wonderful Time of Illusion): "In conclusion, this is a potential throw of the dice that could bring the media on our heads, and cut the Democratic Party and country in half; my view is that we would have far the larger half."

And there you have it. Tear the country apart. And once it's broken, our chunk will be bigger.
This is how they did it. Setting us againt each other. North against South. Evangelical Christian against other Christians, Jews, Muslims, Gays, etc. "Liberal Elite" (as if there were any such thing) against working people. And so on, and so on...

Via a british friend

How They Will Do It

Some years back, in California the Republicans managed to get passed a law requiring that taxes can't be raised unless something like 65% of the votes to approve. Now, it's impossible to get 65% of the public to vote for almost anything, so in essence they passed a law saying that from now on you can't do this. They took a simple majority and used it to pass laws saying their agenda can't be changed should the other side regain a majority.

THAT is what the Republicans are going to do to the country. That's the strategy they will follow. Not only will they deny our 49% minority ANY voice or ANY rights in this government, they will pass laws that say anything they change now, with their 51% majority, can't be changed if WE get a 51% majority.

How Do I Get Out of the Dollar?

Question for any readers who might know: How does an average person like me "get out of the dollar.? I can't just buy Euros somewhere, can I? Should I buy gold? Thanks in advance. Either e-mail me or leave a comment. Actually, better to leave a comment to share the knowledge.

Concession Democrats

I would like to coin a term for the Washington "centrist," "DLC" Democrats that we have all become so sick of: "Concession Democrats." These are the Democrats who refuse to recognize the right-wing takeover of the country and its consequences. They have conceded at every turn, allowing the Right to advance, step by step, and finally take over.

Kerry conceded. He rolled over. He conceded in my name. HE conceded MY vote. I didn't want him to do that, but he did. And by conceding Kerry paved the way for Bush to claim a "mandate." Had he held out, even for a few more days, Bush and the Right would not have been able to come out and seize the initiative and frame the message, "The people have spoken" and begin the process of getting rid of Social Security, getting rid of progressive taxation, getting rid of separation of church and state, getting rid of public education, getting rid of unions, getting rid of consumer protections, getting rid of what remains of a free America, and continuing to make war on the world. Kerry allowed Bush to say, "I will reach out to those who share my goals." But Kerry either did not understand that was what would happen, or did not care.

Two years ago I met Kerry at a small gathering in Woodside, California. Until then I had been a huge Kerry fan and supporter. But that night Kerry talked about being for capital gains tax cuts (it was a group of tech executives), and against expensive stock options. He also said that he would not oppose Bush's judicial appointments on ideological grounds. The very next morning I was contacting the Dean campaign, because Dean was not a concession Democrat.

It isn't just Kerry. Not by a long shot. Just a few weeks ago the Democrats conceded and confirmed a right-wing partisan to head the CIA. Now the CIA is being purged of non-ideologues.

It might already be too late. But there are still 45 Democrats in the Senate. Under Clinton the Senate Republicans filibustered everything. And the result was they took control of the entire government. But the Democrats are too afraid to do anything that might cause Rush Limbaugh to say something bad about them.

Let me repeat what Atrios wrote yesterday:

"For Democrats in the Senate:

Any 'compromise' you try to achieve on various bills inevitably gets stripped out by DeLay's goons in the conference committee. Amendments should be written as land mines (metaphorical, of course) for the Republicans to trip on, not because any of them will end up being law.

For Democrats in the House and Senate: If you vote for the Republican agenda, you cannot later credibly criticize it. That's just the way it is..."

For the good of the country, put your foot down, take a stand, and block what these people are trying to do to us!

Update - To be clear, I am not saying that there was or was not election fraud. That is not my point. My point is that Kerry should have held off conceding to make the point that this is a very close election, and to blunt the Right's ability to claim a clear win.


What Atrios Said

Atrios says it and I want to repeat it word-for-word. Every one of us should send this to our Democratic Senators. (Any Democratic Senators reading this should send it to the other Democratic Senators.):
"For Democrats in the Senate:

Any 'compromise' you try to achieve on various bills inevitably gets stripped out by DeLay's goons in the conference committee. Amendments should be written as land mines (metaphorical, of course) for the Republicans to trip on, not because any of them will end up being law.

For Democrats in the House and Senate: If you vote for the Republican agenda, you cannot later credibly criticize it. That's just the way it is..."

Thom Hartmann

It's never been about the technology. It's this:

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?

Of all the violations of the commons - all of the crimes against We The People and against democracy in our great and historic republic - this is the greatest. Our vote is too important to outsource to private corporations.


Digby has the kernel of it all:

My question is this. Is there any combination of issues upon which we Democrats could accomodate these people that doesn't include backing anti-gay measures like that? In other words, as long as the Democratic party believes in equal rights for gay people is there a snowball's chance in hell that we will be able to tear the religious vote away from the party that doesn't with outreach to "heartland values?"

I doubt it. In fact, I think that we are talking about a wedge issue that is insurmountable. Civil rights are a fundamental matter of principle, not a position on specific programs or tax cut legislation. And I don't see any possibility that we will be able to make inroads with people who believe that homosexuality is a sin as a matter of bedrock religious belief. We can field a candidate who runs a campaign like a tent revival, but this is one of those issues that can't be finessed. As long as we believe in the separation of church and state and back civil rights for gays we are not going to get the conservative Christian vote. We just aren't.

Welcome to the neo-sixties. They've found a replacement for race as a wedge. White bigotry has been less effective as a sure-fire winner for them (though still much more significant than is believed by a lot of people who should know better). Gay hatred will give them a good ride, probably not as durable a ride as white racism, but certainly as intense. And as a cute side-benefit it even attracts some of the people they supposedly just got over hating (blacks, hispanics) to their path.

There has never been any choice for us. We could not abandon civil rights, even as the original Southern Strategy proved LBJ's prediction of a generation of Democratic losses. And we can't abandon civil rights now. Before we're tempted by the prospect of repugnant and utterly useless sexual Sister Souljah moments, ask yourself how proud you are today of that kind of shameful pandering a decade ago. There's only one message to bigots: Fuck you. If you ever become a decent human being, give me a call.

If that means we lose for another decade or more, so be it. If they take us all the way to the corporate manorialism they clearly want, so be it. Maybe that's what a country this stupid, this bloody-minded, this religiously insane, and this hate-obsessed deserves. Too damned bad.

Post Election II: White Males

During my internet career, I've spent a lot of time arguing against two ideas. One is the idea that we should try to appeal to the South (which in the context of this argument includes the Great Plains and Northern Rockies). I think that the strip running from North Carolina to Texas, up to North Dakota, across to Idaho, and down to Utah and Wyoming is completely hopeless -- and throw in Alaska and Indiana. These states total about 25% of the vote, and we should let the Republicans have them.

I looked at the closest Bush states this year. In order of closeness percentagewise, they were Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada, Ohio, Florida, New Mexico, and Colorado. With these states Kerry would have won 325-213. In order to get there, about 400,000 voters would have had to switch from Bush to Kerry. There's not a single Southern state on that list (Florida doesn't count).

It doesn't seem right to have the nation as geographically polarized as it is, but it's a fact of life and we should learn to live with it. Sure, it looks bad on election eve when the map turns red, but the actual numbers aren't as bad as the picture.

The second idea I often have to fight against is that the Democrats should just be a hip bicoastal party. Without the inland states from Pennsylvania to Iowa, the Democrats are no longer a national party. Some of the things Democrats would have to do to appeal to these states (as well as the states I listed above) are probably the same as what we'd have to do to appeal to carry Mississippi or Utah, but we won't need as much of it and it would be stupid to use Mississippi or Utah as our standard.

It's true that the least likely person to vote Democratic is a poor, white, married, rural, churchgoing male from the South. So let's write those guys off. But some hip Democrats seem to be willing to write off every white male who is either poor, or uneducated, or rural, or married (= heterosexual), or churchgoing. That's suicidal.

Democrats have to learn to appeal to non-elite white males. That's not really impossible to do, but we have to work on it.

DRAFT - See For Yourself

Kos pointed to this. Go read.

Dated Nov. 4


I am traveling today. I'll try to post from airports if I have time.

Robert Parry on the media: a must-read.

Here's something from the independent journalist Robert Parry that confirms a lot of what Dave has been saying. I clearly remember that at the beginning, Air America got an enormous amount of flak from prissy liberals, and they were ultimately less effective than they would have been if they have been able to operate in more markets -- for example, in swing states like Ohio. (This link comes from Cursor's Derelection 2004, which has a lot of other good stuff too).

Plus, the evidence is that wealthy progressives still don't
"get it." Even with Election 2004 looming, Air America, a promising AM radio
network to challenge Rush Limbaugh and the right-wing talk radio monopoly, was
hobbled by the refusal of rich liberals to invest in the venture. In a new book,
Road to Air America, Sheldon Drobny, one of the network’s founders, describes
his frustrating appeals to East and West Coast “limousine liberals” who didn’t
want to engage in the project.

I have encountered similar rebuffs dating back to the early 1990s, after
my experiences as a mainstream investigative journalist for the Associated Press
and Newsweek convinced me that the biggest threat to American democracy was the
growing imbalance in the national news media. Mainstream journalists were
increasingly frightened that their careers would be destroyed if they came under
attack from the Reagan-Bush administrations and their right-wing allies.

Yet, even as conservative foundations were pouring tens of millions of
dollars into building hard-edged conservative media outlets, liberal foundations
kept repeating the refrain: “We don’t do media.” One key liberal foundation
explicitly forbade even submitting funding requests that related to media

There's more....



A diarist at Daily Kos has the clearest view of anything I've read. In case you don't get it, these people are imune to persuasion. Optimism in the face of this is not easy for me. Not at all.
This is not about Republicans or Democrats.
This is not about the war.
This is not about the economy.
This is not even about counting the votes.

This is the final step in the 20-year creeping coup by the theocrats, the Dominionists.

Read the rest.

Election not passing the smell test.

The more I think about it, the more unlikely it would seem that over 8 million Bush voters would appear out of the woodwork, in contrast to only 1.5 million additional Kerry voters (as compared to the 2000 results), given the monumental effort Democrats and their allies put on to register and turn out new and existing voters.

I want to know:

a) where these new Bush voters showed up
b) whether they were in states with electronic voting machines with no paper trail
c) whether the results in precincts and areas with such machines differ in a statistically significant fashion from:

     i. similar precincts using other voting technologies
     ii. exit poll results in the precincts where the machines were used
     iii. historical patterns of turnout and voting

In fact, I'd be very interested to see if the numbers are funny in other areas, not just in the e-voting districts, but any district where the ballots are computer/machine counted (there are all sorts of places that games can be played with the vote tallying process, not just in the voting booth).

As I recall, someone did a statistical analysis of this sort after Chuck Hegel got elected to the Senate in Nebraska using these machines, and I think a similar analysis was done in Georgia after Max Cleland lost his election (the page linked to cites an article in the U.K's "Independent" - see also Thom Hartman's evoting article on Common Dreams). Can someone please track these mathematical whizes down and get them cracking on the numbers?!?

If more than one of these factors looks funny in a significant number of locations, I'd say further investigation is merited. We may be accepting a completely unexpected result far too calmly.

--Thomas Leavitt

Election Post-mortem

(I have a 2,000 word pontification written, which I'll eventually publish part-by-part. For the moment, this is what I've got to say).

My career predicting elections has gone up in smoke. I feel sorry for Zogby, though, since he actually makes his living that way. Polling is a mess, though it should be possible to separate the wheat from the chaff after the fact.

The piece I had prepared explaining what I though President Kerry should do will probably never be published.

The Libertarian Party should dissolve. If they can't get votes this year, they'll never be able to. The national Greens should dissolve too, for slightly different reasons.

The gist of the comment I've seen around and about is, "Don't mourn, organize". Along with this is a realization that there really are a lot of right-wingers out there.

I completely endorse the various proposals to build a liberal infrastructure. Soros should start writing big checks.

However, as I've said, I really fear that Bush will use his executive control of the political agenda to keep Democrats permanently off-balance, as they try to respond to one adventurist initiative after another. I really believe that these are not normal times, and that people who pretend that they are ("Just one election, and a close one at that") are missing the point. The Movement Conservatives sense blood in the water. Time will tell how rough it will get, but Grover Norquist plans to turn the US into a one-party state.

The ridicule directed at the Bush people after the Suskind article was wrong-headed. The Republican program is not business as usual, but venturesome, inventive, and transformational. That's what the guy was trying to say.

Smooth transition

I have transitioned seamlessly from PEAD (pre-election anxiety disorder) to PEAD (post-election anxiety disorder).

My only solace is living in maybe the sanest county in the country:


NOVEMBER 2, 2004
RUN DATE:11/02/04 10:51 PM


PRECINCTS COUNTED (OF 578). . . . . 578 100.00
REGISTERED VOTERS - TOTAL . . . . . 486,937
BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL. . . . . . . 271,058
VOTER TURNOUT - TOTAL . . . . . . 55.67

Vote for 1
KERRY/EDWARDS (DEM) . . . . . . . 222,013 82.75
BUSH/CHENEY (REP). . . . . . . . 41,157 15.34

Another solution: Annex Canada

More than enough Provinces (read "states") and votes up there to counter-balance Red State America. :)

4 in 10 Americans already support the idea.

Alternatively, we could have Canada annex the West Coast... which would really be the West Coast Republic annexing Canada. Why not, when they have a functioning single-payer health care system (which California is only beginning to explore with AB921), a functioning and publicly financed multi-party system that is even beginning to explore proportional representation and no expensive and deadly pretensions to empire (a value we here on the West Coast share -- we're all about economic and cultural imperialism, not military imperialism).

--Thomas Leavitt

Up the level of resistance!

Call your Senator today (if they're a D) and make it absolutely clear that you expect them to fight tooth and nail against the Bush agenda, and especially against any attempts by Bush to pack the Supreme Court with extreme right-wing nutballs. Filibuster is the word of the day. Tell them that you expect them to hold their colleagues feet to the fire and not give any passes. Call your House member today, and say the same thing. Tell all your friends to do the same. We need to do everything possible to put some spine into our representatives (given that almost no incumbent House members were dumped this time around, the excuse of needing to get re-elected wears a bit thin).

--Thomas Leavitt

Nick Kristof is Not a Nitwit

Living Poor, Voting Rich
One of the Republican Party's major successes over the last few decades has been to persuade many of the working poor to vote for tax breaks for billionaires. Democrats are still effective on bread-and-butter issues like health care, but they come across in much of America as arrogant and out of touch the moment the discussion shifts to values.

"On values, they are really noncompetitive in the heartland," noted Mike Johanns, a Republican who is governor of Nebraska. "This kind of elitist, Eastern approach to the party is just devastating in the Midwest and Western states. It's very difficult for senatorial, Congressional and even local candidates to survive.

[. . .] Democrats peddle issues, and Republicans sell values."
Let me inject this into the coming conversation: I think we should move the Democratic Party out of Washington.

I think Howard Dean should be drafted by the blogosphere to run the Democratic National Committee.

I think the Democratic Leadership Council's (so-called "centrist" arm of the Democratic Party) point about reaching out to the vast middle is valid but I don't agree at all with them that becoming what the Right has been able to define as "centrist" is the way to do it. Corporatism, greed, deregulation and economic inequality are wrong, immoral and bad politics. Just because the Right has been able to create a "conventional wisdom" doesn't mean we have to accept it. Their argument is that this is what the middle wants so the Democratic Party should accept reality and change to match the "facts on the ground." My argument is that we need to get back into that national conversation and show them why they don't really benefit from the Right's agenda. We can change minds.

Left Coast Republic?

Kerry won a solid victory in California (actually, an overwhelming one there, 55% to 44%, a margin of over 1 million votes), Oregon, Washington State and Hawaii, winning every state by a margin of 5% or more... and Democrats, up and down the ticket, also won solid victories. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the nation (outside of the Northeast and Great Lakes states). There is obviously a great difference in values and priorities between these states and much of the rest of the country.

I suggest that they secede from the union - the resulting entity would have a vital and diverse economic engine, be home to some of the largest and most dynamic companies in the world, and we'd save billions (now and in the future) in taxes that we now send to Washington and never get back ($40 billion a year from CA alone, more than enough to heal that state's $8 billion dollar budget deficit) and payments on the $7 trillion (and mounting) national debt.

Of course, we'd probably wind up with a President Schwarzenegger... but I think most of us would prefer that to a President Bush, not to mention a solidly liberal Democratic Senate and House. I'm sure Red State America would love to be rid of us.

Maybe we could recruit British Columbia as well. :)

Five states (maybe California could split into two or three states?), 50 million people, sane government, seems reasonable to me!

--Thomas Leavitt

Lockjaw Politics

The over-riding theme of this years election is clearly "stasis". America's electorate is frozen in the same political stance it held in 2000 - deep and abiding splits by values and region. Not just in the race for President, but in the House where the Democrats and Republicans swapped one seat apiece (aside from Texas, where the Republicans redistricted the Democrats out of five seats), and even more or less in the Senate (where the Democrats predictably lost several seats in the South after incumbents retired).

All that time, energy, and money(*) produced what is more or less a carbon copy of 2000 in the Presidential race: Kerry picked up New Hampshire (which Gore narrowly lost in 2000) probably because of a drop in the votes for Nader (which exceeded the difference between Bush and Gore in 2000), and it looks more or less like Bush picked up Iowa and New Mexico (by small margins at best--the latter of which Gore won very very narrowly in 2000). A net shift of exactly one state in Bush's favor, solidifying what appears to be a solid regional split (Bush and Kerry's states are now completely contiguous). As well, party loyalty seems to have been very high, with exit polls indicating both parties obtaining close to 90% of their voters, and splitting the independent vote straight down the middle (the difference appearing to be that Republicans are just slightly slightly more loyal).

* $4 billion in the election season overall, close to $1 billion for the presidency alone.

On the other hand, it is hard to overlook the face that Gore and Nader pulled in approximately 54 million votes in 2000, vs. 51 million for Bush and Buchanan, and this year, with many votes yet to be counted, Bush won 58.3 million (a net pickup of slightly more than 7 million) and Kerry won 54.7 million (a net pickup of around a million, if you make the reasonable assumption that the 400,000 or so that Nader picked up this time around wouldn't have voted for Gore under any circumstances in either election).

What happened to the vast voter registration and get out the vote effort being put on by the Democrats and other affiliated organizations? It appears to have produced almost no new Democratic/left voters at all! Bizarre. To the contrary, the Republican voter registration/GOTV efforts seem to have borne vastly more fruit - which makes the relatively small changes in the House and Senate even more interesting (can you say, "gerrymander").

In fact, the entire Democratic Party/Kerry campaign appears to have done nothing but convince Nader voters to come home to the Democratic Party. Which I guess somewhat justifies all the energy spent bashing Nader over the past four years (although I have to say that Nader appears to have done more to lose his voters than Kerry to gain them)... did all that effort (MoveOn.org, Democracy for America, etc.) represent nothing more than Democrats talking to each other, and not non-voters, swing voters or Republicans?!? It appears so.

What went wrong? This bears some thought.

I'll say this (as I've said before): ABBA is not a sustainable political strategy - you have to be for something (and someone), not just against someone. It seems clear that ABBA did nothing to broaden the Democratic Party base, or narrow the Republican one. Without a corresponding passion for Kerry, it was difficult to persuade new people to change their minds, or even motivate the base (a union organizer at an election night party last night was telling me that it was difficult to persuade people to support Kerry).

I think, more than anything else, this is what the election turned on - the Bushies, for all their ignorance, were passionately for their candidate. Were there any Kerryites? Didn't seem like it.

The Democratic Party needs to figure out a way to nominate someone that it's partisans are passionately for.

--Thomas Leavitt

Not Even Close

I just got out of bed after only 4 hours sleep to type this. I'll check back later to see if it is coherent.

Before you say it was close, before you say we are a divided nation, consider this: Half of Americans didn't vote at all - and that was a vote in favor of Bush. Just like a vote for Nader was a vote for Bush, not voting was a vote that says you are not voting against what has been going on.

I think the Abu Grahib pictures were a clarifying event. You see those pictures and you take a stand. Period. You're for it or you're against it. You work to stop it or you let it go on.

Half of America saw those pictures and then didn't vote against Bush. Another 25% actually voted FOR Bush.

So it wasn't even close. Not even a little close. It was a 75% approval of what Bush has been doing.

Blog Wrapup

John Edwards is on the screen, speaking as I write this, "We waited four long years for this victory, and we can wait one more night."

Jeralyn writes, "Beautiful. Just what I wanted to hear. Now I can go to sleep."

Atrios writes, "go to bed."

Liberal Oasis writes, "Get ready."

Markos looks like he's still up, and writes, "The more I think about it, the more pissed off I am that the networks are calling Ohio when the state is still clearly undecided."

Richard writes, "MSNBC's Joe Scarborough got it exactly right: "The youth vote will leave you at the altar every time."

I'm going to bed. Good night!

-- Dave Johnson, Seeing the Forest http://seeingtheforest.com



MSNBC's Joe Scarborough got it exactly right: "The youth vote will leave you at the altar every time."

Time To Take A Breath

Blogger Kevin Drum, quoting the Baltimore Sun quoting Kevin Drum, writes:
META-META-BLOGGING....What do I think about the mainstream media's newfound ritual of asking bloggers what they think about the election results? Here's what I told Tricia Bishop of the Baltimore Sun this afternoon:
"In a way it's the ultimate in navel gazing," Drum said. "The bloggers all read the media and the media call bloggers to find out what they're reading."
It really does seem like that sometimes.
During the Democratic Convention I posted a picture of a news camera crew filming a print reporter interviewing a blogger, who was interviewing the reporter. The caption was "This is reporters covering reporters interviewing bloggers while bloggers interview the reporters."

It's starting to happen here, too. They want us to find stuff on the blogs for them to talk about on the air. The blogs are all writing about what they are hearing on the air. I'm going to sneak out and find a bar.

Republican "Silent But Deadly" Ground Operation

As well as Bush does tonite, The Republican Get-Out-The-Vote operation is much of the reason. Some facts about the Bush ground operation: (Sorry I had to put this together hastily...)

- Bush GOTV budget $125 million
- Pennsylvania, volunteers made 1.8 million calls last week compared to 415,000 in 2000.
- Washington State, GOP mailed out 1.2 million absentee ballots, up 53% from 2000
- And in WA volunteers contacted 200,000 homes last weekend
- Bush campaign contacting 400,000 people a day in Ohio
- In PA Bush campaign plan to contact 2 million voters since Friday
- Four years ago, Bush employed 22 paid staff members in Florida. This year, he has 500 on the payroll.
- Bush campaign Florida goal was 6,600 volunteers, instead they recruited 15,000
- RNC paying travel, hotel & food for at least 5,000 loyalists working in battleground states
- Minn - GOP contacting 1 million with freshly-refined database
- Chamber of Commerce claims to have registered 500,000 new GOP in corporations
- Chamber hopes to "reach" 20 million employees.
- Chamber/BIPAC embership was 50 corporations, now 500
- Oregon GOP 22,000 volunteers "largely hidden from view" "keeping their plans under wraps" and "silent but deadly"
- Iowa, GOP making 32,000 voter contacts each week


US News, Nov 1: Pennsylvania:
"In 2000, the GOP had eight phone banks operating in the Keystone State. This time around, they have 28, with hordes of volunteers making phone calls and going door to door to help identify Republican voters and those who, as Novak says, "may be persuadable to the president." Four years ago, the volunteers had made 415,000 calls. Last week it was up to 1.8 million."

Seattle Times, Nov 1,
Through Thursday, King, Pierce and Snohomish counties had mailed out about 1.2 million absentee ballots, 53 percent more than the 786,000 sent in 2000. Some 450,000 completed ballots had been returned, far more than at the same time in 2000.

[...] The GOP has 20 paid staff members organizing voter-turnout drives statewide, in addition to the staffs of individual Republican candidates, he said. Over the weekend, Vance said, 5,000 volunteers called or rang doorbells at 200,000 homes.

Washinton Post, Nov 1;
A Bush campaign official said they were contacting 400,000 people a day in Ohio as well. In Pennsylvania, the Bush campaign planned to contact 2 million voters between Friday and Election Day.

[...] Bush's budget for voter mobilization is about $125 million, at least triple that of four years ago, a knowledgeable official said.

[...] Four years ago, Bush employed 22 paid staff members in Florida. This year, he has 500 on the payroll.

[...] Scott Jennings, a state Bush campaign official, said they set a goal of recruiting 6,600 volunteers, one for every 50 voters they needed to meet their targets, suggesting the campaign is hoping to boost the president's total by more than 43,000 votes to 330,000 tomorrow. Jennings said they recruited 15,000 volunteers, each with the responsibility to look after 25 voters.

[...] The Republican National Committee is paying travel and hotel costs and $25 a day for food allowances for at least 5,000 loyalists working in battleground states. In Ohio, the state party is paying poll watchers $100 a day to challenge voters with disputed registration credentials.

Minnesota, Nov 1, MPR:
Bearse says the drive should reach more than a million Minnesotans by phone or in-person. That's after Republicans spent the year honing their computer database of registered voters to cull out likely Kerry supporters.

Mother Jones, Oct 4:
Corporate America has been organizing its own counteroffensive. Groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC) have signed up hundreds of major corporations to encourage voter registration, early voting, and even election-day babysitting and caravans for their employees in the hopes of reelecting President Bush and his fellow Congressional Republicans.

... One Chamber White Paper instructs corporate executives to "use posters, email, the company intranet, newsletters and payroll stuffers to make your employees aware of the election and of the services you will be providing." Greg Casey, BIPAC's chief executive officer, says such organization now rivals campaign contributions in importance. ...

[...] Casey's fear-mongering has had an effect. BIPAC's membership list, which stood at 50 corporations and trade groups in 2000, has swollen to more than 500 this year. The group claims to have registered about 500,000 employees so far. Firms like ExxonMobil, Halliburton, Household International and International Paper have set up internal political education websites or handed out candidate briefings in company lunchrooms. The organization hopes to reach 20 million employees before November 2.

Oregonian, Sept 12;
But the effort by the Republican Party and the Bush-Cheney campaign to get their vote out in Oregon is alive and well -- although largely hidden from view.

[...] The Republican effort is driven by a large campaign staff directing about 22,000 volunteers using sophisticated voter lists to maximize the GOP vote in November.

[...] Republican officials are careful to keep many of their plans under wraps. For example, unlike the campaign of Democratic Sen. John Kerry, the Bush campaign refused to release the names of its volunteer county leaders in Oregon. And it would not allow a reporter to watch volunteers working at a key phone bank in Southeast Portland.

[...] Unlike many of the groups -- which range from the unions to the League of Conservation Voters -- involved in get-out-the-vote activities for the Democrats, Republican officials say they are not interested in publicity. Oregon Republican spokeswoman Dawn Phillips said these grass-roots efforts should be "silent but deadly."

KGW, Iowa, Oct 17;
Democrats and affiliated groups are using hundreds of paid canvassers and volunteers to reach out, and Republicans are relying on a network of volunteers to make more than 38,000 "voter contacts" each week just in Iowa.

Update (3:20 PT)

At this point, Zogby is calling it the way I did (Kerry 300-320 EV), whereas Josh Micah Marshall is pretty cautious and says that the Wonkette exit polls are not completely reliable (now that's a first!). Matt Yglesias says that Virginia, which isn't even on the contested list, is much closer than expected.


Election day links

Dave Johnson will be posting here for MSNBC:

And here:
(I believe that he will also play a backstage role for MSNBC's broadcast coverage, via Joe

This is MSNBC's interactive site:

The lovely Wonkette, God bless her, seems to have a lock on the exit polls.

This link tells you how to interpret the election according to what Kerry and Bush need at any
given point along the way

Kos can be expected to have a lot of stuff:

Atrios can be expected to have a lot of stuff:

Josh Micah Marshall is a pro and he's frequently gets things first:

TAPPED will be updating all day, I think:

Salon War Room is often good (registration required)

Comedy Central disinformation:

Here's the C-SPAN presidential election map:

CNN presidential election map:

Media Matters is reporting the media victory calls in the Presidential race:

Liberal Oasis has a sharp take on the election:

DCCC on the House elections:

This guy tells you about exit polls:

Cursor's Derelection USA election news (good stuff, not being updated)

Rittenhouse Review is collecting first-person stories:

The Agonist is collecting dirty-tricks stories:

Orcinus is collecting dirty-tricks stories too:


There are contested Senate races in 9 states (unless there's a miracle in Georgia). Four contested seats are now Republican, and five are Democrat. The Democrats need to win seven of the nine -- difficult, but not impossible

Republican seats: Kentucky, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Alaska.
Democratic seats: South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, South Dakota, and Louisiana.

Kerry needs the Gore 2000 states plus one or two more (or substitutions as necessary).

Contested Gore states: Iowa (7 EV), New Mexico (5 EV), and Wisconsin (10 EV).

(I do not think that Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, or New Jersey will be contested. If Kerry loses any of them, he's in trouble).

Contested Bush States: Arizona (10 EV), Arkansas (6 EV), Colorado 9 (EV), Florida (27 EV), Missouri (11 EV), Nevada (5 EV), New Hampshire (4 EV), North Carolina (15 EV), Ohio (20 EV), and West Virginia (5 EV).

(This list is wildly optimistic, but Kerry only needs a few of the Bush states. Kerry is favored in New Hampshire and doing very well in Ohio and Florida, for 51 EV altogether -- almost 10% of the total.)

My prediction is that Kerry will get what he plans for, plus two or three states. So I put him at 300-320 EV.

Local Boy Makes Good!

Tom from Opinions You Should Have blogs on the New York Times op-ed page!



From the heart

Well, here's hoping Kerry goes the distance. Tomorrow phone-banking is taking place at my house and tomorrow night it's off to a friend's to take in the results. May we be able to celebrate at the end of the night!

...I want to state that the thought of a President Kerry fills me with hope. Partly it is because I believe the man I saw in the news as a child, the man who fought the war in Vietnam and who bravely spoke truth to power when he returned, that man is not capable of driving the military and the country to the ground, refusing to give up on waging a hopeless and mistaken war. Partly it is Kerry's proposed catastrophic health coverage. Partly it is that I believe he is a decent man -- I think he will surprise us, as Gavin Newsome has done, here in San Francisco. When Kerry said, 'Faith without works is dead,' in the last debate, I thought of Mayor Gavin Newsome, who, like Kerry, was raised a good Catholic boy. Mayor Gavin Newsome has been walking the streets of the toughest neighborhoods in the city, trying to bring both services and hope. No one thought he would do that.


A Country of Broken Systems

(Explanation - I'm in NY working at the MSNBC studio on a blogging project.)

I just don't know.

I just don't know what's going to happen. I'm in a huge, modern TV studio with hundreds of monitors all over the place, with MSNBC and FOX and CNN and CNBC and NBC and ABC and CNN and everything else on the walls everywhere, and all of them have two or three or four people on all the time all of them explaining what they think is going to happen. I've got a nice fast connection to the Internet and know how to use it. Because of the reason I am here I'm scanning all the blogs and news sources I can find, looking for the very latest stories and analysis. So I'm getting the most, and the best news you can get, and I'm getting it as fast as it can be got. None of them know, and I don't know.

One thing I am taking very seriously is what Erick Erickson said. He's one of the bloggers here for this blogger project. He's from RedState.org, the Republican blog. He's a Republican from Georgia. He says the Republican in Georgia have the best-organized ground operation - Get Out The Vote operation - that he has seen. I suspect this is even more true in the states that really matter.

This is the culmination of my two-plus years blogging. I started blogging as a way to just shout about what was going on with this government, and with the press and the Democrats' reaction. Everything going the wrong way. Since then the Democrats have come around just as far as they could in the time they had. I should say WE had because that is all the Democrats are. They are we.

The press? I am learning a lot about the press this year. First I was at was the Democratic Convention in Boston as a member of the press, and now I'm "embedded" in the middle of THE MEDIA. You just can't get much more into the middle of the media than here, actually sitting in the next room over from the anchor's chair behind the anchor desk.

So I am coming to understand WHY it's the way it is but I don't yet see what might fix it. I can say from my experiences over the past months that many of the professionals are aware that there is a problem -- their "business" suffers a disconnect with the requirements of democracy -- but don't really know what to do. It's a systemic problem. I know that it started when news became a business. (I remember when the proud CBS News operation was dismantled.) There is no longer a reliable system for providing the public with the necessary information -- accurate information -- for maintaining a democracy.

We are a country of broken systems. Everyone reading this blog knows this. It's why you're here. It's why the blog is here. Everything is broken. Every thinking person knows it. Democracy is broken. The media is broken. The health care system is broken. The budget is broken. They say Social Security is broken. They say the schools are broken. The economy is broken. The system of international law is broken. We don't even have a reason to trust that the election tomorrow -- sorry, today -- is legitimate because the machines that record the votes are broken by design.

Even the fucking atmosphere is broken.

We let all of this happen to us -- there's no one else to blame.

So with the end of the "campaign" we start the next phase. Will we start finding answers? Will we start finding peace? Or will we begin a more rapid descent into chaos and despair? It sure as hell can't go on the way it has been.

Osama: current administration "easily provoked".

CNN reports that Al-Jazeera has released a full transcript of Osama Bin Laden's latest video statement. In it, Osama outlines Al-Quaida's strategy: bleed the U.S. dry, as the mujahedeen did to Russia in Afghanistan in the 1980's.

"We, alongside the mujahedeen, bled Russia for 10 years until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat," bin Laden said.

He also said al Qaeda has found it "easy for us to provoke and bait this administration."

"All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al Qaeda, in order to make generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits for their private corporations," bin Laden said.


"Every dollar of al Qaeda defeated a million dollars, by the permission of Allah, besides the loss of a huge number of jobs," he said. "As for the economic deficit, it has reached record astronomical numbers estimated to total more than a trillion dollars."

It seems pretty clear that Osama will be happy as a clam if Dubya is re-elected, and continues his blind and costly blundering across the international landscape.

--Thomas Leavitt

Poor, Poor Victims

Rick Perlstein, in How to think like a Republican (if you must), talks about how Republicans are the poor, poor victims of "brass-knuckle" Democrats.

Are You Outside the U.S.?

E-mail from a reader in Canada:
I attempted to register to vote by faxing the application form supplied by the Federal Voting Assistance Program, http://www.fvap.gov/

US citizens who reside in foreign countries can register to vote in the US state they last resided in, so for me that would be Owl's Head, Maine.

When my absentee ballot still hadn't arrived today, I called the Owl's Head Town office, and they said they hadn't received my registration from the FVAP.

I asked if they could fax me a ballot that I could fedex back to them, but they said (as does the FVAP instructions) that they can only fax ballots for emergencies such as combat. They said the would check into it and fax me one if they could, but I still haven't received it.

All FVAP applications sent via fax are faxed to the same central number. The FVAP then faxes it on to the local election official. I'm pretty sure my fax to the FVAP number went OK, but they never forwarded it.

So I won't get to vote.

Now for the conspiracy theory: if it's just me, I'll just mail one of the forms to the Owl's Head town office so I can vote in 2006. However, I read somewhere there are five million elegible voters living in foreign countries. Could there have been some systematic effort to keep us from registering? I registered for the Democratic Party.
I'd like to hear from anyone else with this problem. Is this a pattern

Networks Refuse Veterans' Group Ads

Derelection is linking to Buying reality, an Alternet story that says "several networks are refusing to air an ad created by the non-partisan vet's group, Operation Truth." Operation Truth is a non-partisan veterans' organization. According to their website the organization was "created to help them share stories of life on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are also working to help veterans get the support they need." Their ad features war-veteran Robert Acosta asking why he was sent to Iraq to lose his right hand.

Is this the usual policy of the networks? From the story, "One of the networks, the History Channel, had even broadcast a Swift Boat ad."

Kerry Final Day Video



OK, you need to be ready for this one. Take a breath. Sit down. Calm your mind.


The National Republican Campaign Committee has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission, accusing two radio talk show hosts of "criminal behavior" for endorsing a Democratic candidate on the air and attacking the Republican candidate. The story is at LA Daily News, Action filed vs. radio hosts over talk attacks.

This actually surpasses their accusing the Democrats of politicizing 9/11...

Update - Edited to correct to National Republican Campaign Committee from RNC.

Update - Here's a second source on that story about GOP filing against a talk-radio show. Washington Times, Oct. 30, Drier targeted on immigration. John Kobylt who hosts the show with Ken Champiou, says,
"We've been doing this for 14 years, and we've never had a reaction like this from a politician," Mr. Kobylt said. "It's really massive hypocrisy. Republicans have gotten a good ride with talk radio; then one show goes after one Republican, and suddenly they want to shut us up? "


W - The Lost Years!

Is that really him?