Like most libertarians, I'd like the state to get out of the business of defining marriage altogether—or anyway, to the extent compatible with the probably inevitable entanglement of such partnerships with immigration and tax laws—acting as a neutral enforcer of whatever arrangements partners or groups of whatever gender see fit to make. But I've also expended a moderate amount of rhetorical energy backing the fight for gay marriage, on the assumption that this best-case scenario was unlikely to come about soon, and that if the state were going to be involved with marriage, it had at least better not disburse the legal benefits thereof in a way that made some people second-class citizens.
But this post from Juan Cole—no libertarian he—gives me pause. The controversy over gay marriage may, just maybe, have made the libertarian's best-case scenario sellable to both sides in the guise of a "compromise" solution. Proponents of gay marriage who've just been handed 11 rather overwhelming setbacks on state ballots can get just about everything they really want from a two-tiered regime where states are, as they should be, in the business of enforcing, not sanctifying, and private churches decide which civil unions they want to consecrate as marriages. With states restricted to recognizing civil unions, gay couples get both the legal benefits they seek and the formal equality that would elude them if states merely added civil unions as a consolation prize to the current marriage regime.
Many conservatives, on the other hand, appear to see the writing on the wall in the long term: As younger Americans who tend to be far more tolerant of homosexual relationships come of age, the inequitable status quo will be increasingly untenable. Even George Bush seems willing to countenance legal marriage-like rights for gay couples, so long as the arrangement in question isn't actually called marriage. (The weirdly semantic quality of the debate—evidenced by the prevalence of rhetoric about "redefining" marriage—is one more reason demographic shifts are likely to undermine the status quo, by the way. When I was growing up, I always thought of the long-term gay couples my parents knew as married, even though I don't think they used the term, so I was initially quite startled to hear the "redefinition" argument. I had never "defined" marriage as "one man one woman" in the first place. As more people are raised around long-term gay couples, I suspect they'll come to find the "redefinition" argument equally bizarre, whatever Websters says.) And I can easily imagine Cole being right that they might be swayed by a candidate who says: "Marriage is sacred—instead of arguing about whether legislatures or courts are going to define it this way or that, it's time we recognized that governments don't have the authority to define it at all. If it's not the place of churches, mosques, and synagogues to pass laws, then it certainly isn't the place of politicians to say what's sacred."
The Prospect's Garance Franke-Ruta, incidentally, has a rather desultory argument against Cole's modest proposal. Her two central points seem to be, first, a vague objection centered on the legal rights of women that I have trouble imagining would be a serious obstacle (no more than pre-nuptual agreements, which are already an option) and a strikingly conservative one about the "moral and spiritual meaning" of marriage, which I would have expected a liberal to join libertarians in preferring be defined by the couples (or groups) whose marriages they are, along with their (spiritual or secular) communities.
Apparently some electorally chastened Democrats are looking our way in search of a larger coalition. I don't know how strong the prospects for a long term relationship are, but maybe if they flirt enough, the GOP will get jealous.and send us a dozen roses and some fiscal discipline. Hey, a guy can dream, right?
"With all due respect, Tim, you're full of shit."
That's what highly regarded media critic Mark Crispin Miller told me this morning, in response to my opinion that President Bush had been reelected in a more or less fair vote, with electoral and popular margins that can't be explained away by the various (often credible) claims of vote fraud.
Well, if a respected NYU professor says it, it must be true. Still, I think folks on the left might be better off figuring out why more people voted for Bush than continuing to pound the Bush-illegitimacy drum that Tuesday's results would appear to have silenced.
However, while I don't think more Diebold conspiracy theories are going to be of much use to the Democrats, I'm happy to see attention focused on the real problem of vote fraud. In that spirit, here is a roundup of anomalies, some apparently real and some pretty dubious, making the rounds since Tuesday:
* Glitch in electronic voting in Franklin County, Ohio delivers 3,893 extra votes to Bush.
* 1,100 separate complaints of irregularities with touch-screen voting nationwide. Many of these involve cases where a vote for Kerry showed up as a vote for Bush. The president of the Election Protection Coalition calls these complaints "troubling but anecdotal," and says the higher numbers of complaints from Democrats may be due to greater awareness of voter protection coalitions.
* Former U.S. Rep. Bill Janklow (R-SD) objects to GOP's Victory campaign, saying it cheats the vote. "When you tamper with it, you cheat the system. And cheating in elections is the worst form of cancer because it's uncontrollable."
* Exit polling said to be accurate in non-swing states was off in Ohio and Florida, raising suspicions of Kerry supporters.
* Broward County corrects a bug that miscounted thousands of absentee ballots.
* A correspondent claiming to be an international pollster writes to Miller with the following observations:
The breakdown/meltdown of registration vs actual voting trends in several counties throughout Ohio and Florida. THIS IS NOT ANECDOTAL. I have been exposed to multiple electoral models in my original country, and you can argue all you want about demographics and such. The plain and simple truth is that it is nonsensical to accept that the ALL THE VARIATIONS mathematically favored the Bush over Kerry, WITHOUT EXCEPTION. By basic statistical rules, that is impossible...
The turnout of newly registered voters has been said to explain the results in Florida. That is completely false. The data...show that if we take the results in several Florida counties that went heavily for Bush, the numbers of registered Republicans ACTUALLY VOTING IN THE COUNTIES goes over 100% statistically, while newly registered Democrats underperform...
Zogby's exit polling must not be ignored. His exit polls predicted 311 electoral votes for Senator Kerry at 5:00 PM on Nov. 2. He apologized for this the next day because Kerry "failed" in Ohio and Florida. The truth is that the exit polling was accurate in states with paper-trail voting, and inaccurate in states with voting machines operating...
* Count Every Vote 2004, a voting rights group, reports hundreds of anomalies in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina:
Among their preliminary findings, the group listed a shortage of early voting locations in Duval County, Fla., the largest county in Florida in area and voting-age population, the failure of electronic voting machines in three South Carolina counties, and the loss of votes at a North Carolina precinct when too much information was stored on a computer unit.
"In one case, sprinklers came on while people were waiting to vote and the poll workers didn't know how to turn them off," said Alma Ayala, who monitored voting in St. Petersburg, Fla.
* Unexplained power surge/glitch in LaPorte County, IN reduces 79,000 votes to 22,000 (or something like that: This particular story makes no sense to me).
* A voter in New Mexico reports touch-screen machine turned his straight Democratic ticket into a straight Republican ticket.
* Former director of the Auglaize County, Ohio, Board of Elections claims a former employee of Election Systems and Software violated election protocol by using the computer that creates ballots and compiles election results on October 16.
* Summit County, Ohio, election worker says GOP operatives accompanied retards and nursing home residents into voting booths.
* Conyers, Nadler, Wexler demand GAO investigation into problems with ES&S machines.
* Various snafus with e-voting nationwide.
Since the Democrats by and large lost this time around, they'll be the ones coming up with voting scandals, which is fine by me. I just don't want to hear any claims about how Republicans are uniquely, or even unusually, trying to game the vote. Who kept Ralph Nader off the ballot in 16 states? Who paid a freelance campaign worker in crack to register fake voters? And how come when Democrats do it it's good ol' two-fisted ward politics, amusingly reminiscent of Tammany Hall and the Daley machine, but when Republicans do it it's a totalitarian scheme coming straight from Karl Rove's lair in Berchtesgaden? That having been said, vote fraud is a disgrace no matter who's doing it. So turn over every rock, Democrats.
Hit it, Thoreau...
Reason's Nick Gillespie will be appearing on Dennis Miller tonight: 9PM Eastern Time, CNBC.
Some news that slipped under the radar last week: Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi and her American literary agent has sued the U.S. government for violating the First Amendment via the Treasury Dept.'s onerous new restrictions on publishing work emanating from countries under economic embargo. (I've written about these idiotic, illiberal and counter-productive regulations, in order, here, here, and here.)
As a Scripps-Howard editorial puts it, "It isn't helping America's image in the world that the U.S. government is being sued by a Nobel Prize-winning Iranian human-rights activist, lauded by President Bush, in a lawsuit that alleges censorship." More importantly, it's actually hurting the important cause of Iranian freedom, and violating our own, without producing any tangible benefit that I can fathom.
Charles Paul Freund puts on his gloves.
Now that Brian has put the best possible face on the Badnarik candidacy (though reader Dan notes that this year's Libertarian presidential candidate arguably did worse than 2000's), and the LP has gone down to its familiar string of electoral defeats, our comments threads are humming with the usual "Wake up, my fellow libertarians" posts laying down the law about how libertarians need to do x, get rid of y, stop emphasizing z, and so on in order to fulfill their destiny to rule the national political scene. Let me take a look at a few of the more moth-eaten nostrums:
Libertarians need to stop talking about drug
legalization/decriminalization. It turns off mainstream
This conflates a lifestyle question with a legal question. It's true that in recent years, there has been a move away from the bluenosed I'm-opposed-to-the-drug-war-but-I-abhor-drugs pieties of the past (and not a minute too soon, if you ask me). But the core of the argument against the drug war remains that it is an essential assault on freedom, the government's primary mechanism for abridging the rights guaranteed in the First, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eight Amendments to the Constitution. If you think decriminalization is just about your right to get high, you have a feeble understanding of what your rights are.
More to the point, Badnarik did not particularly emphasize legalization on the campaign trail. As with his opposition to the Iraq war, he didn't conceal it, but his approach was always a wonkish constitutional play. Even his kooky driver's license stance was primarily derived from the Constitution.
The LP needs to stop paying attention to national elections
and focus on getting candidates into smaller, nuts-and-bolts local
I don't know about you, but I can't think of anything smaller or duller than the local school board. In my own town, LP candidate Starchild got slaughtered in his school board run, finishing second from last with 18,266 votes and 3.1 percent of the total. He even got walloped in this unofficial poll, despite my own effort to game the results. Starchild runs for something every year and is energetic about publishing arguments against local ballot measures, and he may be making some headway: My acquaintances, who tend to be middle-of-the-road SF lefties, no longer giggle when they see his name, and a few have noted that his arguments are pretty intelligent. But it's still pretty slim pickings, particularly in a city that treasures its phonybaloney self-image as a place where colorful, larger-than-life wacky characters can thrive.
The LP needs to stop running goofballs with names like
James P. Gray is a Judge of the Superior Court in Orange County. He served as a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, as a criminal defense attorney, and as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy JAG Corps. He was running in the most predetermined race imaginable—Barbara Boxer's Senate re-confirmation—in which no individual Republican or Democrat had anything to lose by going third party. He got creamed, with 172,190 votes and 1.7 of the total. A few weeks ago, Judge Gray assured me that his campaign had Mendocino county "locked up." As it turns out he got 1,771 votes, 5.1 percent of the total, in California's pot-growing capital, despite having won the endorsements of the local sheriff and DA.
These are piss-poor results, in a variety of races with a variety of candidates, issues, and approaches. So spare me the quack remedies for libertarianism's ills. I don't know how to fix the LP, or the movement. And I suspect anybody who does is full of baloney.
A cautionary tale from the ACLU. It's not so much that the pizza delivery company will know a lot about you, it's that Uncle Sam will know even more.
Thanks to Pamela Friedman for the tip.
Jacob Sullum starts the clock on President Bush's small-government promises.
Rep. Chris Cox's office writes to note that the privatization of the country's precious, precious helium reserves is slated to become the third largest sell-off ever, displacing ConRail. Call it a decent start, but I can't help worrying: How will we fuel our militarily essential blimp fleets now?
Post-election CW has been that the vaunted youth vote was a no-show last Tuesday... according to the same exit polls that gave John Kerry a handy win. David King's got a persuasive Boston Globe column suggesting that they missed the youth vote surge that came largely in the form of absentee ballots, which students are disproportionately likely to make use of.
The economy created 337,000 new jobs in October, nearly double the 169,000 that Wall Street was expecting, but the overall unemployment rate rose marginally to 5.5 percent.
Stay your collective "jigga-wha?" faithful Reasonoids; it's just an artifact of the way unemployent stats are calculated in the U.S. See, reasonably enough, they don't want to count as "unemployed" people who aren't actually looking for work—someone who's voluntarily quit their job to write a book, or a student who's taking some time off after graduation to backpack around before joining the workforce aren't emblems of an infirm economy, after all. (Well, not necessarily: It's hard to gauge what people might do given a different set of opportunities. During the dot-com boom, say, the opportunity cost of a leisurely break after college probably seemed a lot higher. On the other hand, a strong economy might give people a financial cushion such that they feel they can afford to take that time off.) But that means the official figures also don't count people who're so dispirited with the state of the job market that they've at least temporarily stopped looking. So, the Times notes "unemployment rate edged up from 5.4 percent in September as more people joined the search for jobs." In other words, as the economy appears to pick up, more people decide it's worth pounding the streets for work, and the official unemployment rate rises. In honor of Stan Lee, a no-prize to the first commenter who finds someone citing the unemployment stat in isolation as bad news.
Aside from the gnashing and wailing from the Left, one of post-election America's richest sources of comedy is the unsated anger, and sense of unfinished business, emanating from the liberals-are-evil Right (or, the Angry Enfranchised Majority). A good example comes in today's L.A. Times from former Major League pitcher Frank Pastore. Some excerpts:
Since 1968, the left has taken millions captive, and we must help those Democrats who truly want to be free to actually break free of this evil ideology. [...]
The left bewitches with its potions and elixirs, served daily in its strongholds of academe, Hollywood and old media. It vomits upon the morals, values and traditions we hold sacred: God, family and country. [...]
Simply, a majority of Americans have rejected John Kerry and John Edwards and the left because they are wrong. They are wrong because there are not two Americas. We are one nation under a God they reject.
Robert Swetich and Raymond Urrizaga each received 1,847 votes in Tuesday's general election. Under the law in this gambling state, tied elections can be settled by lot.
After the election was certified by the commission Thursday morning, the two settled over a shuffled and fanned deck of cards.
Urrizaga drew first. Queen of clubs. Swetich pulled a seven of diamonds, then offered his congratulations to the winner.
Drudge is touting Newsweek's promo for its "exclusive behind-the-scenes account of the entire presidential campaign reported by a separate Newsweek Special Project team that worked for more than a year on the extraordinary campaign." (Now that it's all over, I just hope the team members will be allowed to go ahead with the Heaven's Gate-style mass suicide they undoubtedly crave.)
Some of the interesting bits:
McCain remembers the U.S. has a constitution:
The "Outlandish" McCain Offer. Kerry's courtship of Senator John McCain to be his running mate was longer-standing and more intense than previously reported. As far back as August 2003, Kerry had taken McCain to breakfast to sound him out to run on a unity ticket. McCain batted away the idea as not serious, but Kerry, after he wrapped up the nomination in March, went back after McCain a half-dozen more times. "To show just how sincere he was, he made an outlandish offer," Newsweek's Thomas reports. "If McCain said yes he would expand the role of vice president to include secretary of Defense and the overall control of foreign policy. McCain exclaimed, 'You're out of your mind. I don't even know if it's constitutional, and it certainly wouldn't sell.'" Kerry was thwarted and furious. "Why the f--- didn't he take it? After what the Bush people did to him...'"
Clinton and Jonathan Rauch agree on states' rights approach to gay marriage:
Clinton Advice Spurned. Looking for a way to pick up swing voters in the Red States, former President Bill Clinton, in a phone call with Kerry, urged the Senator to back local bans on gay marriage. Kerry respectfully listened, then told his aides, "I'm not going to ever do that."
Shrum, not Kerry, to blame for amazingly feckless response to Swift Boat assault:
Kerry Anger Over Swift Boat Ads. By August, the attack of the Swift Boat veterans was getting to Kerry. He called adviser Tad Devine, who was prepping to appear on "Meet The Press" the next day: "It's a pack of f---ing lies, what they're saying about me," he fairly shouted over the phone. Kerry blamed his advisers for his predicament. (Cahill and Shrum argued responding to the ads would only dignify them.) He had wanted to fight back; they had counseled caution. Even Kerry's ex-wife, Julia Thorne, was very upset about the ads, she told daughter Vanessa. She could remember how Kerry had suffered in Vietnam; she had seen the scars on his body, heard him cry out at night in his nightmares. She was so agitated about the unfairness of the Swift Boat assault that she told Vanessa she was ready to break her silence, to speak out and personally answer the Swift Boat charges. She changed her mind only when she was reassured that the campaign was about to start fighting back hard.
So, um, when was the fighting back hard part scheduled to begin? After the election, maybe?
Absinthe, the reputedly insanity-inducing liqueur consumed by Van Gogh, Baudelaire, and many a bar hopper with no artistic or poetic talent whatsoever, soon will be legal again in Switzerland, the country where the drink was invented and one of the first places where it was banned (in 1910). According to Barnaby Conrad, author of Absinthe: History in a Bottle, "no individual alcoholic drink except absinthe has ever been singled out for prohibition." It was banned largely on the strength of horror stories similar to the tales of madness and mayhem later associated with marijuana, cocaine, PCP, and methamphetamine.
Now that legislators are beginning to reject anti-absinthe propaganda (though not everywhere--the stuff is still illegal in the U.S., for example), the Green Fairy's fans are not necessarily pleased. "I want to preserve the myth that comes with keeping absinthe forbidden and clandestine," one told The New York Times. "The myth is the thrill of breaking the law and not getting caught. The myth is offering as much money as you can and maybe still not finding what you're looking for. Next year you'll find absinthe in all the supermarkets. We're going to have the absinthe of the bazaar."
What do we do now?
Politicos, academics and artists -- Huffington, Paglia, Lamott, McInerney, Moby and more -- respond to the prospect of four more years of Bush
What are your predictions for the next four years?
Why Bush won: It's pretty simple, really -- Kerry was a poor candidate
By Farhad Manjoo
Bush, God and the Democrats: This country isn't secular or rational. And if the Dems want to win, they can't be either
By Edgar Rivera Colon
Forget the "heartland": A Kerry volunteer says Dems aren't latte-drinking snobs -- and they don't need to "reach out" to red state reactionaries
By Janet Sullivan
Let's get real: Salon readers confront the realities of George W. Bush's America
Sidney Blumenthal: Winning on fear itself, the GOP is ready to take the country even farther right
So you want to move to Canada? All you need to know about becoming a legal resident. Tip No. 1: Brush up on the prairie provinces
By Kevin Berger
The win that wasn't: For a few golden hours on Tuesday night, John Kerry smelled victory. But as he watched the map get redder and Ohio slip out of reach, he was forced to accept the inevitable
By Tim Grieve
Lose the old playbook, get some balls: The "black young'n" who predicted a blowout by Kerry explains where he and his fellow liberals went wrong -- and how to prevent it from happening again
By Kevin Criss
The shape of a second term: Guardian writers look at what Bush's reenergized agenda will mean for America and the rest of the world
By Suzanne Goldenberg et al.
King Kaufman's Sports Daily is on vacation
Andrew Leonard: The Internet makes it easy to find people we agree with. After Election Day 2004, maybe it's time to kick that habit
Waking up with the election blues: Liberal Britons hear the crushing news and begin swapping e-mails about how miserable they feel
By Emma Brockes
The Fix: Survival manual for Bush's next term; did Paris Hilton help Bush? Nick and Jessica: The state of our union is strong!
Scott Rosenberg: Democrats need to learn from their mistakes -- but they don't need to buy into talk of a Bush "mandate"
Start your own blog | Recently updated blogs
Waiting to vote: The long lines at polling stations in Ohio and elsewhere were outrageous -- it was a miracle voters didn't give up
By James K. Galbraith
One of the most depressing parties in history: Harvey Weinstein's Election Night event in New York wasn't quite the bash he'd hoped it would be. But some of his guests had a good time
By Rebecca Traister
GOP increases hold on the Senate: Colorado's Ken Salazar is the sole survivor. Minority leader Tom Daschle loses in South Dakota as Republicans pick up seats.
By Jeff Horwitz
News that's not fake enough: At "The Daily Show" election party, the comedy that helped us through the last four years can't quite mask the sadness
By Priya Jain and Corrie Pikul
Brian Doherty gives the reasons for hope at the Libertarian Party's campaign HQ.
Ronald Bailey tells the matriarch of modern folk music, "You're no Buffy Sainte-Marie."
Virginia Postrel explains why politicians don't always move to the center.
Today's Los Angeles Times reports:
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.
Jay Rosen weighs the options of the election's big loser -- the media, of course -- and comes up with some interesting scenarios. Will we see some heretofore "straight" news organizations wear their opposition on their sleeves?
Overshadowed by all the election hoo-ha, a new $1 billion federal program giving people convicted of crimes greater access to post-conviction DNA testing has become law. As noted by the Associated Press:
"In recent years, 111 people in 25 states have been released after spending years on death row for crimes they did not commit. Testing also has led to more than 50 convictions of the real perpetrators."
As I asked some years ago, "If the government is not about rendering justice, what is it about?"
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has said we have "a new opportunity before us to move forward on the 'road map.'" I don't know whether McClellan was referring specifically to the fact that Yasser Arafat is in a coma.
I have a new theory: 9/11 did change the country, but it only changed it by about 1%.
The media's line is that Bush's reelection turned on the culture war. I don't know whether that's true, but it's plausible; conservative Christians turned out in Ohio to vote against gay marriage, and that may have made the difference between a national victory for Bush and a national victory for Kerry. To judge from what I've been reading and hearing since Kerry conceded, this has set some left-liberals into a panic about evangelicals in the fever swamps trying to take away our freedoms.
They should calm down. Neither Ohio nor any of the other states that banned gay marriage this week enjoyed legal gay marriage before; the electorate merely reiterated the preexisting order. I'm sorry to see it happen, but it's not a dramatic development.
Once they're calm, those Democrats should take a look in the mirror. I hate the Red America/Blue America cliche, the whole idea that the country can be painted in just two colors. But if I had to speak in terms of that map, I'd say the most successful culture warriors come from the blue states. The dominant species of liberal doesn't just want to maintain the old taboos; it wants to introduce some new ones. For many Americans, the Democrats are the party that hates their guns, cigarettes, and fatty foods (which is worse: to rename a french fry or to take it away?); that wants to impose speed limits on near-abandoned highways; that wants to tell local schools what they can or can't teach. There is no party of tolerance in Washington -- just a party that wages its crusades in the name of Christ and a party that wages its crusades in the name of Four Out Of Five Experts Agree. I say fie on both.
Here's an idea for liberals looking for a political project: Team up with some hard-core conservatives and make a push for states' rights and local autonomy. If you have to get the government involved in everything under the sun, do it on a level where you'll have more of a popular consensus. Aim for a world where it won't matter what Washington has to say about who can marry who and whether they can smoke after sodomy. Then, in 2008, the presidential election can turn on something national -- like, say, foreign policy.
Update: Down in the comments, I'm informed that some of the anti-marriage measures could prohibit not just gay matrimony and civil unions, which did not already exist where they are now banned, but private domestic partnerships, which did. So the news is worse than I thought.
Bush has just talked at some length about making Social Security reform a priority. He said the same thing in 2000, of course, but who knows: If we can manage not to invade any other countries and focus on issues like that, libertarians may yet get something out of a second Bush term.
Former Reason stalwart, syndicated columnist, and economist-to-the-stars Walter Williams has a sharp piece in today's Washington Times (a paper so grand that it recently excerpted Tim Cavanaugh's excellent bit on liberal hawks and regularly runs Jacob Sullum's scintillating syndicated col). His point: that African Americans need to realize that politics won't address the problems many in their community face. Snippets:
Whether you're black, white or polka dot, to take advantage of opportunities, you must be prepared. A large part of preparation is a decent K-12 education.
For children to do well in school, there are some minimum requirements. Someone must make them do their homework, see that they get a good night's rest, prepare a breakfast and make sure they get to school on time and obey school authorities. This is not rocket science, but here's my question: Can those requirements be met by a president, member of Congress or a mayor?...
Solutions to the most serious problems facing black Americans will not be found in the political arena. Otherwise, the problems would have been long solved with the civil rights legislation, litigation and the more than $8 trillion spent on poverty programs since 1965. Or the problems would have been solved by the two terms of Bill Clinton, whom some blacks called the first black president.
Whole thing here. I basically agree with Williams, who also notes that discrimination still exists but argues that it isn't the main reason many blacks struggle. I think he's right to emphasize the importance of education--but he glosses over the political obstacles that help keep public education sub-par, especially in urban and lower-income areas. Williams himself is a strong advocate of school choice, which is favored by an overwhelming majority of blacks--and is ultimately only going to come about via political struggle.
If only they'd nominated Howard Dean...
Remember the ultimate selling point for Bush in 2000?: The promise by Alec Baldwin, David Crosby, Pierre Salinger and a passel of other dwarf stars to leave America 4ever if Bushitler was (s)elected to the White House? If you don't, go here.
And if you do remember that ultra-deep-cover gambit by the GOP, go directly to this National Post story, which suggests--with all the sly, wily indirection that Canadians are famous for--that Robert Redford is looking to move to Ireland to escape a second Bush term. Sadly, the only other celeb mentioned in the story--and the only one to claim he may possibly move--is someone named Steve Crawford.
President Bush, I know we don't agree on anything other than tax cuts (and even on those you were a big pussy). But if you can get the Great Waldo Pepper to fly off for good, I'll promise not to leak word of your secret plan to create a Haliburton-financed theocracy in Rhode Island.
Well, it's a conversation starter, anyway, for this fabulous panel discussion in a couple of weeks:
DID BLOGS TIP ELECTION 2004?
IHS and Reason magazine present Ana Marie Cox, Daniel Drezner, Henry Farrell, and Michael Tomasky debating the role of blogs in the election on November 18.
A free-for-all discussion on the role of blogs and politics featuring Wonkette's Ana Marie Cox, blogger and University of Chicago political scientist Daniel Drezner, blogger and George Washington University political scientist Henry Farrell, The American Prospect's Michael Tomasky, moderated by Reason's Nick Gillespie.
Drinks and hors d'oeuvres to follow remarks and Q&A.
Thursday, November 18
1733 N Street NW, Washignton, DC
Space is limited, so please reserve a place by RSVPing to Alina Stefanescu.
FREE DRINK TICKETS WILL BE GIVEN TO THE FIRST 50 RESPONDENTS!
If there is a god--or some justice in a godless universe, it seems likely that the term peroutka, as in Constitution Party presidential candidate Michael "GodFamilyRepublic" Peroutka, will come to signify uninteresting, nutbag marginal politicians, much in the same way crapper came to signify toilets.
But give the guy this much: In a March 10, 2004 entry in his campaign blog (ryhmes with log), he reports that Rep. Chris Cox (R-Calif.) dissed the once and future Prez Bush in these terms:
At a recent meeting of thousands of conservatives in Virginia, near Washington DC, Congressman Chris Cox, chairman of the GOP's House Policy Committee, said many good and true things. He noted that, ironically, Bill Clinton was right when he said the era of Big Government was over because now, under George Bush, we are living in the era of REALLY Big Government. Congressman Cox referred to the REALLY Big Government President Bush has given us as, "the elephant in the conservative living room no one wants to talk about."
Whole bit--which devolves into the sort of rant that keeps the Constitution Party safely on the sidelines of any political debate--here.
So did Cox, who Reason interviewed way back when, REALLY say what Peroutka says he REALLY said? And will he working to strangle the elephant in the next four years? I hope so. Whether the GOP will actually reduce spending, rather than ramping it up like, well, incumbents, is one of the great questions posed by a second Bush term.
Tip to reader Tom Ingling.
An interesting debate over Open Source between Richard Epstein and John "Q" DeLancie lookalike James Boyle.
Ronald Bailey researches the President.
A fascinating essay by Bryan Caplan on the vicious cycle in which developing (and developed) countries can become ensnared.
Forget all about the election next week by celebrating the publication of Choice: The Best of Reason!
An Evening with Reason Magazine
Friday, November 12
Greenwich Village Barnes & Noble
396 Ave of the Americas at 8th Street
New York, New York
Featuring Nick Gillespie, editor-in-chief of Reason and editor of Choice; Brian Doherty, senior editor of Reason and author of This Is Burning Man; and Joe Bob Briggs, contributor to Choice and author of Proundly Disturbing: Shocking Movies That Changed History!
Moderated by Joe Garden, staff writer for The Onion and coauthor Citizen You: Helping Your Government Help Itself.
Praise for Choice and Reason:
Reason is less predictable and more interesting than any other political magazine I read--Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit.com
Reason is a brilliant magazine, written and edited by brilliant people. And I am not saying that only because they agree with me.--Dave Barry
Reason is the undiscovered magazine of America. The magazine surprises with new perspectives and unexpected ideas. That's just what America needs today--Jeff Jarvis, creator of Entertainment Weekly and proprietor of Buzzmachine.com
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More praise, contents, sales info here.
Matt Welch assesses the Bush win.
In the spirit of Maoist self-criticism my comrade is offering up for the good of the workers' revolution, I now revisit my own predictions for the 2004 election:
"All this talk about another popular/electoral split is a
lot of hooey. People are gearing up to fight the last war, and
they're going to be disappointed. Whoever gets the electoral vote
will also get at least the popular plurality."
—October 27, 2004
Is A Lock"
—June 15, 2004
Those are all the public predictions I can remember making. Privately, however, I did voice my suspicions that Michael Badnarik would not win the presidency.
Everyone should take responsibility for their pre-election predictions, so here's my mea culpas:
It's going to be close...
OK, I got that right, but I wasn't exactly going out on a limb there.
...but I think Kerry is going to take it. Which surprises me, since I've been predicting a Bush victory all year.
Should've stuck with your first thought, Walker.
Nader won't top 1%
Got that right.
Badnarik will not get more than 300,000 votes.
Looks like he's just under 400,000. My usually reliable rule of thumb for predicting Libertarian vote totals -- find the lowest figure being publicly predicted within the party, then go lower -- has failed me.
I can console myself by reflecting on all the other predictions that went awry. It wasn't a dead heat. It wasn't a landslide either. Young people didn't turn out in droves. Ohio did not become another Florida. Florida did not become another Florida. There was no electoral/popular split. And Badnarik didn't get to play spoiler.
...says AP, via Fox.
Actually, forget Fox: AP says so directly.
For instance, that those Tuesday PM exit polls were the "real" numbers, and that the returns are a Diebold illusion (or something). They must be out there. Anybody run into one yet?
Look, this is not very hard. In Ohio, you have a certain Bush lead and certain number of provisional ballots. Once you determine how many of those p-ballots are, in fact, valid ballots per the laws of the state, you look at that number. If that number is smaller that the amount of the Bush lead, you do not have to count any of them.
If the number is, in fact, larger, then you start counting. But you would stop counting if and when you get to the point at which the number of remaining ballots falls below the amount of the Bush lead. When it becomes absolutely impossible for Kerry to overtake Bush, you stop counting and declare Bush the winner.
This is what happens routinely in recounts for dog catcher or city councilman around the country. The goal is to put the right person in office, not make some fetish out of counting things.
Whenever I criticized Bush before the election for betraying conservative principles, I got letters of complaint from Republicans. For the most part, they did not say I was wrong; instead, they said that, bad as Bush's performance had been from a limited-government perspective, Kerry would be worse, so I should keep my mouth shut until after the election. This strategy of refraining from criticism when it was most likely to be effective--during an election campaign in which the president's victory depended upon his ability to motivate his conservative base--never made much sense to me. But now that Bush has won re-election by what looks like a comfortable margin and his party has strengthened its control of both the House and Senate, the conservatives who held their tongues until now presumably will press the Republicans to deliver on their most important promises: fiscal restraint, fundamental tax reform, and Social Security semi-privatization. (Hell, I'd settle for one out of three.) Of course, there's still a war on, so maybe it's not safe yet to ask that Bush have the courage of his avowed convictions.
... but he won't be saying that before the sun comes up, according to CNN's John King. UPDATE: Andy Card: "We are convinced that president Bush has won the election with at least 286 Electoral College votes."
CNN's John King just reported that Karl Rove expects Nevada and New Mexico to be called for Bush tonight, and that the president will unilaterally declare victory within an hour.
John Edwards: "We've waited four years for this victory. We can wait one more night."
Does that mean I can go to bed now?
And no surprises either. Edwards says he and Kerry will fight for every vote.
I won't follow Tim's lead and reconstruct my whole ballot, but here's the high points:
1. I voted Badnarik for president. But I wasn't happy about it.
2. Some of you may recall me saying that I might write in Elmer Fudd. Well, he got my vote for either mayor or city comptroller, I don't remember which.
3. There weren't any other Libs on the ballot, so I voted for one Constitution Party candidate and two Greens.
4. I voted against a measure to rename Baltimore's Department of Personnel the "Department of Human Resources." I hate the phrase "human resources."
I don't think it means anything, but here's how the various nets are calling it at this moment.
What could have been a great step for electoral reform in a major state and one of the best monkey's-paw gifts of the year has instead become another might-have-been. Colorado voters have rejected Amendment 36, which would have established proportional electoral voting. Sounds good (Nebraska and Maine already assign electoral votes this way), but there was a Catch 36, which would have made the amendment binding on this election.
I like the idea of proportional electoral representation, and I like it enough to wait four years to see it implemented, but this retroactive (or maybe lateralactive) business was a weasel deal by state Democrats to salvage a few electors for Kerry in a state that was expected to go for Bush. (Details, and a quote from this year's best-named political committee—Coloradoans Against a Really Stupid Idea—here.) Thus it was fun to see the squirming in the last few weeks, as it looked like Kerry might win the Centennial State and still get rooked. In the event, the Democrats lost, and lost again (though they managed to rack one big win in the JonBenet State).
Well, they've beaten him up, they've mocked his sweaters, they've exposed his memos, they've made sport of his Afghan garb, but Dan Rather's still standing, and refusing to call Ohio for Bush. Even Peter Jennings is starting to waver on this one. In the last ten minutes, Bush's Buckeye lead has been widening, as all those "urban precincts" come in.
As of ten minutes ago, 316,008 votes, for a 0.3 percent popular take, leaving him in fourth place, well behind Nader, who wasn't even on the ballot in any states with electricity.
The whole exhausting California proposition list is here.
On CNN, James Carville just practically conceded on John Kerry's behalf. My last-minute prediction that Kerry would pull it out is looking less and less well-advised.
He could still conceivably squeak through, I suppose, but I'm glad I didn't put any money on this.
Bush is four points up in Ohio. Fox is calling the Buckeye state for Bush. I don't see how Kerry can pull it out with what he's got left. Anybody got any Kerry survival scenarios?
That way if Kerry somehow turns it around, I may actually be able to work up some active enthusiasm. Or at least a golf clap. And if goes Bush, I'll be appropriately stinking drunk preemptively. Call it the Bush doctrine of electoral inebriation. Because we can't wait for the threat to become imminent.
I'm no Tim Russert, but we just sketched out some scenarios and likelys & whatnot, and basically if Bush takes Ohio, but loses Iowa, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Nevada, it'll be a 269-269 tie. Depending (I think!) on what the West Virginia rebel does.
Fewer than one in 10 voters Tuesday were 18 to 24, about the same proportion of the electorate as in 2000, exit polls indicated. [...]
Exit polls indicated that young people who did vote were strongly supporting Democrat John Kerry over President Bush, while they were evenly split between Bush and Democrat Al Gore four years ago. [...]
First-time voters made up about 10 percent of the electorate, about the same as in 2000.
The Marijuana Policy Project reports that voters in Montana have overwhelmingly approved a medical marijuana initiative, making it the 10th state to legally recognize the drug as a medicine.
Fox is projecting a gain of at least two seats for Republicans in the Senate, giving them a majority of at least 53, 54 if Tom Daschle loses in South Dakota. Continued Republican control of the Senate, coupled with a Bush victory (Florida now seems to be going his way), raises the prospect of four more years in which the president fails to veto a single bill and Congress gives him everything he asks for. Woo hoo.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and declare that the city of San Francisco is going to break strongly for John Kerry. That's after visiting my always sedate private garage polling place at the normally slow hour of 4pm, and encountering a 45-minute wait to vote—certainly the longest wait I've ever endured for this particular meaningless gesture.
In the interest of full disclosure, my complete 2004 vote:
President: Badnarik, L
Senator: Judge Jim Gray, L
US. Rep: Jennifer DePalma, R
State Senate: David Rhodes, L
State Assembly: Mark Leno, D (gave my kid the best treat at this year's Columbus Day parade)
Board of Supervisors (ranked-choice vote): 1. Jay R. Shah, 2. Steve Braccini, 3. Roger E. Schulke
Community College Board: Gag write-ins
Board of Education: Starchild, L; Jane Kim, No Party SF Lefty
1A) Tax Revenues stay with local districts:
59) Public access to meetings, records: Yes
60) Election rights of political parties: Yes
60A) Sale of surplus state property pays for specified bonds: Yes
61) Children's hospital bonds: No
62) Anti-Prop 60, allows any slob in a smelly tshirt to vote in any party's primary: No
63) Mental health services expansion funding; tax on personal incomes above $1 million: No
64) Allow "unfair business" lawsuits only when plaintiff can show actual loss: Yes
65) Requires voter approval to reduce local fee/tax revenues: No (couldn't understand the bill)
66) Limit "three strikes" to violent and/or serious felonies: Yes
67) Telephone surcharge to fund 911: No
68) Non-tribal commercial gaming expansion: No
69) Collect DNA samples from felons: No
70) Tribal gaming compacts: No (didn't understand)
71) Stem cell research bond issue: No (despite having made qualified argument in favor in Reason)
72) Require healthcare for employees of large- and medium-sized companies: No
A) Should city spend $200 million for affordable
B) Should city spend $60 million to renovate historic resources of School District? No
C) Make Health Service System its own department? No
D) Allow Board of Supes to change deadlines and voting requirements, hire more staff and commissioners? No
E) Give more shekels to survivors of cops and firefighters killed in line of duty? Yes (but kicking myself)
F) Allow non-citizen parents of public school students to vote in School Board elections? No
G) Authorize Health Service Board to establish health plans for city residents? No
H) Name sports stadium at Candlestick Point "Candlestick Park"? Yes
I) Hire economists to study proposed legislation (thereby weaseling around cost-cutting efforts by honest Budget Analyst Harvey Rose)? No
J) Increase local sales tax by 1/4? No
K) Create temporary 0.1 percent gross receipts tax? No
L) Set aside 15 percent of hotel tax surcharge to preserve and maintain one-screen movie theaters? Yes (because it is opposed by Sean Penn, Philip Kaufman, Peter Coyote, all elected officials and even the local GOP)
M) Measure withdrawn, thank God.
N) Shall city urge U.S. government to withdraw from Iraq? Yes
O) Use Measure J funds to assist seniors, disabled and homeless? No
AA) BART funding: No
The Reason staff gets a lot of flack for what some see as a cavalier approach to voting. I say damn the eyes of anybody who can look at that list and say I didn't do my civic duty just by reading the things. Right now Bush has got an electoral lead of 197 to 188, but no matter which way it breaks I'm sound as a pound: If Kerry wins, George W. Bush will no longer be the President. If Bush wins, I get to enjoy seeing plenty of long faces around town.
Is anything but once-bitten syndrome preventing the nets for calling Florida for Bush at this point? 52 to 47 percent with 93 percent of precincts reporting sure sounds solid. Early votes still waiting to be counted, maybe?
Marion Barry's back.
Liz Cheney on The Big Story with John Gibson and is brimming with confidence. Not likely at all that a family member would be allowed to spin.
Holy cow. Aaron Brown just stared into the camera with cow-like eyes, and recited the Jeff Jarvis pledge to reconcile with the rest of the country no matter who wins. "Wow," one of our crowd said. "He just hit a 9.5 on the Earnest Scale."
I like Jeff, and I appreciate the sentiment, but I really wish Brown had recited the Steve Martin pledge:
Repeat after me: I promise to be DIFFERENT! I promise to be UNIQUE! I promise NOT to repeat things other people tell me to repeat!"
CNN's Jeff Greenfield just declared it will be "very tough" for the Democrats to capture the Senate, while Fox's Brit Hume says Republican victories in Kentucky and Oklahoma mean the odds of a Democratic takeover "have now diminished noticeably." This news makes me less reluctant to root for Kerry. Either way, I'll be disappointed if Bush wins, although if the Republicans lose the Senate I'll probably feel differently in the morning.
Addendum: Make that "wish for Bush's defeat" instead of "root for Kerry."
By saying no to gay marriage. So far people in six of 11 states with anti-gay-marriage initiatives on the ballot have voted to keep marriage the province of one man and one woman. Four more are almost certain to pass similar laws; Oregon, sweet liberal Oregon, is still up for grabs.
Whole story here.
In the mood to argue about the Electoral College? Who isn't! Well, Caltech Professor Jonathan Katz (not the New Media enthusiast) has written two research papers you might want to read: Empirically Evaluating the Electoral College, and How Much Does a Vote Count? Voting Power, Coalitions, and the Electoral College. Excerpt from the summary of the latter:
Finally, we estimate the average probability of decisiveness for all U.S. Presidential elections from 1960 to 2000 under three possible electoral systems: popular vote, electoral vote, and winner-take-all within Congressional districts. We find that the average probability of decisiveness is about the same under all three systems.
Giving Crazy Dan Rather a quick look, his only non-octogenarian panelist was just pointing at a couple of bar graphs, one showing 55% the other 42% ... but more importantly each bearing crude, angry-looking underlined graffiti labels, one saying "TRUST!!" the other "OUTRAGE!!" Have no idea what he was talking about.
As usual, a T-shirt says it best. [Courtesy reader J. Scott Harris]
On Fox News Channel, Brit Hume asks Ralph Nader why he stunk up the joint this time around, even apart from the ballot access question, pulling practically no votes.
"Do you think your influence has begun to wane now?" asks Brit.
Nader essentially agreed, blaming it all on corporations.
Fox News reports that Florida voters have approved a ballot initiative requiring parental notification for abortions involving minors by 65 to 35 percent. On this issue, in other words, they overwhelmingly sided with Bush, who faulted Kerry during the third debate for opposing such laws.
In response, Kerry said, "I'm not going to require a 16-or 17-year-old kid who's been raped by her father and who's pregnant to have to notify her father." But as Ramesh Ponnuru points out in the November 8 National Review, "Kerry has voted against parental-notification bills that included exceptions for such cases."
Neither candidate, of course, mentioned the best reason to oppose such a law at the federal level: The Constitution does not give Congress the authority to regulate abortion. But strictly from a political point of view, wouldn't it have made sense for Kerry to support such a seemingly modest restriction on abortion so he could look like a moderate on the issue? Bush got away with voicing support for the (likewise popular) federal "assault weapon" ban as way of signaling his moderation on the gun issue. Are abortion rights activists less forgiving than gun rights activists?
A couple hours of watching CNN and Fox News finally pay off with this revelation:
Larry King: You have worked your head off for Bush. You have gone everywhere. What do you think so far? What is it?
Rudolph Giuliani: I think the president can win this election.
King: Or can lose it.
Giuliani: Yes, absolutely. He can win it or lose it; there's no question about it.
The great debate where I'm watching the election: Were the Framers into Game Theory? Early returns are inconclusive....
Michael Barone is on Fox more or less confirming Bush spin on Florida, to wit, key counties seem to be breaking Bush in the north and central part of the state.
Better still this prompted Mort Kondracke to spill that the exit polls had Kerry on top in Florida 52-48 and that the "presumption" was that Kerry was "going to run the board" in a number of states.
I, for one, believe Barone as I once had a beer with him in San Diego. Yeah, I'm cheap.
So conservative Republican Tom Coburn--not nearly as cool as James--has been designated the winner of a highly contested Senate seat in Oklahoma.
Coburn is getting props galore from the Fox News Crew for having kept to his pledge to serve only three terms in the House and then hit the road back to that godforsaken oil patch even Will Rogers hated. Which he did. In fact, Coburn was one of the folks Reason interviewed a few years back on exactly that score.
What was it he said back in 2000, as the House door was hitting him on the ass on his way home? That he had no future political plans because the DC crowd was filled with jackasses, etc. Indeed, the Sooner even praised himself--so rare in a politician!--for setting a good example not seen since Geo. Washington declined God-Emperor status in these United States:
Hopefully, more people will see the wisdom of a short period of service up here. Why would you want to come up here to stay? Ask yourself that question. What is it that addicts someone to Washington? Most people who want to do that have a deep-seated insecurity or they wouldn't be up here in the first place.
Well, welcome back, Rep.--er, Sen.--Coburn. It's like you and your deep-seated insecurity were never gone! And here's wondering whether you still think Cuba is a shining model of how to deal with AIDS (read about it in the Reason Q&A).
As we wait for real information like relatives sitting in a maternity ward waiting room, Brit Hume and Susan Estrich are yammering on about exit polls. The only notable bit: Estrich has foregone her usual pre-throat-cancer, Charley Rangelesque throatsome voice for a Southern accent.
Elsewhere, Bin Laden has vowed to bankrupt the U.S.. Given Bush's prescription drug plan and Kerry's proposed "reforms," all we can say is, back of the line, buddy.
CNN has called Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Georgia for Bush, and Vermont for Kerry. No surprises there. Bear in mind that one Republican elector in West Virginia has announced that he might bolt to Kerry or vote None Of The Above.
The CNN site is diligently including third-party results, which is good to see.
Absent actual news to fill their wall-to-wall election coverage, CNN's anchors are stopping at least once every five minutes to remind us all how incredibly cautious and journalistically responsible they're being about projecting winners most of the states where polls are closing. How long before the ubiquity of the relevant numbers online makes their solicitous silence look patently ridiculous?
Update: Ok, the new Slate numbers have the margin down to a point, which brings it into line with Zogby's report. And Nader's showing around a point as well. I hope he's got a bunker in an undisclosed location somewhere if Bush takes this one.
Before Election 2004 wraps up for good and all, Cathy Young reminds you how much you hated it.
Just watching a roundtable with Brit Hume on Fox News with Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes and company, and boy, it sure sounded like Brit, Bill, and Fred were in full lament mode over a Bush implosion.
The spin seemed to be that Bush erred in focusing on weapons of mass destruction and going to the UN over Iraq. So, in so many words, it is all Colin Powell's fault. Nice, real nice.
Let's sit back and enjoy the circus. The polls have just closed in a half dozen states and if a Kerry landslide is in the making, we'll soon know.
According to Shafer's latest. Not that this is like crack or anything....
Talking head on CNN just said something like: "I think we'll know who's president either way by tomorrow morning, and we can either be angry or be sad... err, or be happy rather... but we'll know."
Probably closer the first time.
Despite my part-time membership in the Order of the Shrill, BuzzMachine's post-election pledge sounds utterly welcome. I just heard from my father earlier today a couple stories of longstanding friendships and even, maybe, a marriage falling apart over disagreements about the election. My bootless hope is that by next week, we'll be the guys in Ghostbusters II shaking ourselves to our senses as the bad-vibe slime is hosed off.
Way too close to call/BUT leaning Kerry by 1 percent
Pa.: 54 percent for Kerry
Wisc: 3 point lead for Kerry
Iowa.: 1 point lead for Kerry (Bush supposed to win)
NM: Kerry plus 2
Nev: Bush plus 1
NH: Kerry by 3
NJ: 8 points for Kerry
Colo: Bush plus 2
Mich: Kerry plus 4
Yet with Bush winning the popular vote. Prediction here.
17:12:21 ET // UPDATE: Exit poll mania spread through media and campaign circles Tuesday evening after exit data from big media sources claimed Kerry competitive in key states.... FL Kerry +1 PA Kerry+2-4 OH Kerry+1 WI Kerry+4 MI Kerry+2 NH Kerry +4 // Senate Winners: Martinez FL Thune SD Bunning KY Salazar CO // Losers: Bowles NC Coors Co [CAUTION: Early 2000 exit polls showed Gore +3 in Florida; showed Gore-Bush even in CO [Bush won by 9], 2000 exits showed Gore +4 in AZ [Bush won by 6]]... Developing...
Every few years, a new drug is the subject of a fresh moral panic, with new reasons to regard the most recently popular recreational chemical as uniquely horrible. The Columbia Journalism Review has a good piece up that explodes the "crack baby" scare of the late '80s, including interviews with several grown "crack babies" who're doing pretty well. Not to say, obviously, that freebasing while pregnant doesn't do any harm to the child—to say nothing of one's mother being regularly strung out—but the distance between the hype at the time and the reality is worth keeping in mind next time you hear about the new Dire Threat to America's Youth.
...Google has a handy roundup of polling place locators.
To answer the question that's on everyone's mind: Yes, I did manage to vote this afternoon. It took all of five minutes, one-tenth the reported wait at 11:30 this morning (due to the early-lunch crowd, I assume). And in addition to the pleasure of voting against Bush and Kerry (along with several bond measures), I got to use one of those nifty touch-screen machines--old hat in every other sector of life but "cutting-edge technology" when it comes to voting, according to Fairfax County's explanatory video. I can't say for sure how secure this method is, but it is definitely more pleasant and straightforward for voters (at least, those who are comfortable with ATM machines) than the mechanical voting booths I used in New York or the punch cards I used in L.A.
Media malcontent Jack Shafer is doing his best to undermine big media by publishing early exit polls. Among the results, as of 12:30PM ET:
Whole bit here.
Meanwhile, Drudge is reporting early tips toward Kerry, too, though noting that a skew to women may be messing up with the results.
Fun at the polls:
A sheriff's deputy tackled, punched and arrested a US journalist for taking pictures of people waiting in line to cast early ballots in West Palm Beach, local media reported.
A sheriff's spokesman said later the deputy was enforcing a new county rule prohibiting reporters from interviewing or photographing voters lined up outside the polls, the Palm Beach Post said....
Le Pore's office had not announced the new rule before the incident.
Every election I get some favorite piece of campaign memorabilia, and this year's top honors go to Governor Schwarzenegger's Ballot Proposition Voter Guide, a garish and fun journey through the initiatives with the state of California's chief executive. Giant-type pull quotes and multicolored banner headlines abound, and each page features a margin tab giving direct voting advice from the governator himself:
The familiar use of "Arnold" throughout demonstrates one of the great strengths of the guv: His pitch-perfect awareness and tonal control of all the absurdities in his public persona. Since the process of bogus self-revelation is even more intense for a politician than for a movie star, Arnold's political career has shown what an exact understanding he has of how the public sees him—even when the public is making fun of him. He gives the lie to the Rainer Wolfkastle model of an un-self-aware celebrity. Note that Governor Arnold's two most famous political invocations of his movie image—telling American troops he was there to "pump you up" and calling state Democrats "girlymen"—are not actually references to his own image, but to "Hans and Franz," the parody of his image done by Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon. No doubt, we all have our favorite postmodern figure, and these days mine is Governor Schwarzenegger, even (or especially) when he's unironically urging me to vote no on some ballot initiative:
But this campaign packet has one more treat in store, a special page devoted to defeating two Indian gaming initiatives:
At first glance, this pic of a pair of brownish hands scooping money off a blackjack table is a straightforward negative image of Indian gaming. But look closer and you'll see that the guy is actually scooping up a true Michigan Roll: A pile of one-dollar bills with a tenner on the outside to make it look more impressive (which, given the low antes many Indian casinos allow, may not be wholly inaccurate). Not only has the governor given me free voting advice, he's doing it on the cheap like a true fiscal conservative. Go Arnold!
Critics of media bias are well acquainted with film critic Pauline Kael's famously amusing exclamation that she couldn't believe Richard Nixon had won the presidency, since she didn't know a single person who'd voted for him. This time around, though, it seems as though things are reversed. While the contest for the Electoral College seems to be a dead heat, one poll shows 49 percent of voters prediction a Bush win, and only 34 percent calling it for Kerry... presumably meaning a fair amount of folks voting for Kerry (which, in stereotype and at least partly in fact, means lots of urbanites like Kael) expect him to lose.
Now, the increasing number of landslide counties would explain why voters in Red and Blue America alike would, like Kael, be in the position of overwhelmingly knowing other folks who're voting as they do, and media fragmentation (though I'm not sure this includes interactive fora like poltical websites where links to opposing arguments are common) seems likely to bolster that perception. So you'd think folks on both sides who aren't obsessively reloading those polling sites, making use of an availability heuristic, would be inclined to predict a win for their guy. Or, at least, people living in a given region would predict a victory for whomever's more popular there if they're in the minority. But that doesn't explain the apparent pessimism among Kerry voters.
My best guess is that it's a result of the election being less Bush vs. Kerry than it is Bush vs. non-Bush. That is to say, the people voting for Kerry are more focused on what they don't like about Bush than what they like about their own candidate. And that may translate into more focus on the hated opponent's level of support, especially when the case against the incumbent consists in large part of allegations that he's managed to con large numbers of one's fellow citizens. But, like I said, that's basically speculation. Other thoeries?
Addendum: A commenter says the Kael quote's apocryphal. Since the citations I've seen have always been indirect (i.e. not from sources who claim to have heard it from her mouth) I can't say whether that's the case. Another possibility, I suppose, is that she did say it, but meant it as a wry jab at her own social milieu. Anyone know for sure where it originally came from?
Election day brings back a favorite Double-K memory, and a question: Who was the famous big-eyed chad counter, and why wasn't he able to parlay his moment of glory into a career as a David Leisureish ironic celebrity?
Couldn't CNBC find this guy a slot between Dennis Miller and McEnroe? Wouldn't you tune in to see him bugging out his eyes at bloviating celebrity guests?
I guess I could probably find out about the chad guy myself, but that would ruin the mystery...
Brian Doherty makes the case for staying home today.
Bad ad campaigns go to die here.
At least you'll get a better understanding of why markets are more satisfying than politics.
[Thanks to MG for the link].
Just got off the phone with a friend of mine who works for the Democrats in New Jersey.
Me: You are going to personally deliver the Garden State to John Fuckhead Kerry, aren't you?
Him: Oh, for sure. Don't worry about it, we've got thousands of lawyers.
FWIW, he says turnout in Jersey and Manhattan is exceeding already-high expectations.
In both my Congressional and State Assembly districts, there were exactly two names on the ballot -- the incumbent Democrat ... and a Libertarian. I'm sure someone's done the math on it, but it strikes me that there's probably a built-in percentage that any number-two candidate can expect on a two-name ballot (10? 15?). Especially considering that there are, you know, some non-Democrats living in Los Angeles. Maybe the eventual knock-on benefit of having absurdly gerrymandered voting districts areas is that third parties will contest what major parties can't be bothered with. And some day, somewhere, some might win.
In my case at least, it made an easy vote already easier: Not only is Congresswoman Diane Watson an unspectacular, overwhelming favorite running against a small-government opponent, but her office has been sending me faxed press releases for nearly four years now and they don't know how to take me off their list. Seriously. I've called them three dozen times, and they're really apologetic, but still my toner cartridge gets hosed every few months from the nonstop statements against the war & photographs with dignitaries. I might run against her myself next time.
Jesse Walker pulls the mask off the clonidates.
A couple months ago somebody sent me a review DVD of Greg Palast's Bush Family Fortunes (the Battlestar Galactica to Fahrenheit 9/11's Star Wars). I never got around to watching it, but figured I'd give it a look before the polls opened—just so there's no danger that I might vote without realizing that President Bush has connections with Big Oil. I understand Palast has some legitimate journalistic credentials (which he highlights by wearing a fedora and casting quizzical sidelong glances at the camera as he describes his various scoops), but he can't really help coming off like a Michael Moore manqué here. (Among other things, he manques a few hundred pounds.) But the big bust for this picture is that I didn't watch it when I first got it: Palast's lead source for information on Bush's unstellar Air National Guard career is Bill Burkett, the incredible imploding lieutenant colonel whose personal Stalingrad came with Rathergate. D'oh!
Anyway, if there's any reason to hope for a Kerry win today, it's the prospect that all the Inspector Javerts of the Bush/Halliburton/seven-minutes/Carlyle-Group unified theory might join all the retired Vincent-Foster/Mena-Airfield/Starbucks-waitress investigators at some bird sanctuary where we'll never have to hear from them again.
After discovering that my polling place is at my daughter's elementary school, just a few blocks from here, I dropped by this morning, only to be deterred by a neighbor's report that the wait was 50 minutes. "It's not worth it," I muttered, turning back toward my car. "Maybe your vote isn't," she said, in what was possibly a sly reference to my Libertarian leanings. (I'm sure her vote for Kerry will make the difference between a decisive win for Bush in Virginia and a decisive win for Bush in Virginia.) I may try again this afternoon, although I have a feeling my registration didn't take. I sent in the requisite paperwork at least a week before the deadline, but I never received the "voter information card" to which my county's Web site refers. If there's anything more pointless than waiting 50 minutes to vote against Bush in Virginia, it's waiting 50 minutes to find out you're ineligible to vote.
Brian Doherty reviews The Republican Noise Machine and The Right Nation.
A potential deadlock, new hope for a dead man, and a dead link, in Reason Express.
From the National Post (tip from Neil Hrab):
A Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission panel spent a full day watching Lone Ranger episodes before deciding being called kemosabe did not demean a Mi'kmaq woman.
Whole thing here.
Old news by now, I suppose, but Bush got off to an early lead in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire. (Yes, enormous numbers of early votes and absentee ballots had already been cast, making this vote-at-midnight town's results even less important than they've been since Libertarian Andre Marrou pulled 17 percent there in '92.)
An amused (but pleased) Arab reader points us to today's edition of the online Iraqi newspaper Iraq of Tomorrow. This is an Arabic-language site, and is unreservedly pro-Bush. How pro-Bush? Well, go here for the site's coverage of Iraqi reaction to the election. The headline above the picture of Bush and Kerry reads: "Iraqis are for Bush and Fallujah is for Kerry." (Actually, Iraqi opinion polls done earlier this year found that while most Iraqis would state no preference regarding the U.S. election, Baghdad's educated middle class strongly favored Bush.) For other opinions about the election from Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab world, go here.
In what I hope will be instant nostalgia, the Web site listenbeforeyouvote.com provides an array of political audio books, candidate speeches, debates, and convention coverage for your listening pleasure. One last (I hope) chance to hear those voices that have defined the summer and fall of 2004.
...that our votes will be accurately counted. Over at PollingReport.com, an ABC News Tracking Poll conducted last week found that 71 percent of likely voters were "very" or "somewhat" confident that today's ballots would be counted properly. Ninety-one percent were "very" or "somewhat" confident that their own votes would be counted as cast. Because, you know, it's always those other people who get screwed over...
And here's a report on the last-minute legal reversal in Ohio, allowing for partisan ballot-challengers to be stationed at polling places across the Buckeye State.
There's no question that voter fraud--whether intended or incidental--is rife (the big bit coming out of Ohio's Franklin County is that there are more voters registered there than voting age population). But there's also something creepy about having party apparatchiks hounding folks casting their ballots.