Sense from Seattle

Common sense thoughts on life and current affairs by a Seattle area sexagenarian, drawing on personal experience, years of learning as a counselor to thousands of families and an innate passion for informed knowledge, to uniquely express sensible, thoughtful, honest and independent views.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Purple America

Go to for an interesting map of the 2004 Presidential election results by County, mixed in the proportions of red and blue as the County voted. It shows a more accurately diverse America than the simple red and blue State maps.

If you are planning a marketing trip to show off your newly purchased $28 million 10 year old grilled cheese sandwich with the image of the Virgin Mary, however, you would use the red and blue State map and take it on tour to a dozen red States, as indicated in this article:

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Terrorism is a Tactic

Like most others, I was horrified at the magnitude and video graphic unfolding of the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath. We all shared a contempt for the villainous attackers and shook our heads in unison as to how anyone could claim justification for the perpetration of such heinous acts.

But as the resulting rhetoric of reprisal quickly developed, my natural instincts not to jump to conclusions without analyzing the evidence arose. We were told everything had changed and the world in general and America in particular would never be the same because evil terrorists committed to fanatic terrorism had committed the most horrible terrorist attack in American history. I did not reach that conclusion then and I do not agree with it now. The 9/11 attackers all died in the course of their criminal attacks. Their co-conspirators were also criminals who needed to be found and brought to justice, and America certainly needed to be more aware of its vulnerability to these criminals and take better actions to protect itself. The magnitude of the crime required a criminal justice and police protection response of sufficient dimension, but neither the world not America had really changed.

Terrorism is a tactic as old as mankind. Cave people were certainly aware of violence and fear. They early realized that the mere threat of violence actually seemed to create fear, and that fear could produce desired results just as good as violence could. Club the living daylights out of the other guy a few times and the next time he sees you coming with your club he might fall down and submit at the mere sight. I suspect terrorism was discovered before fire or the wheel.

The word itself, terror, is Latin for none other than "terror". The tactic has been used throughout history, originally by one individual against another and then by one group against another. Examples should not be necessary here; history books are full of them. Some terrorists are still loners - like the Unabomber. But most are groups, systematically using violent means to induce an intense state of fear in other groups, either to maintain their power or else to take power away from the other groups.

There is one way in which I might agree that 9/11 changed America. Since then, a systematic state of intense fear of violence by Muslims has been fomented in the American people by the Bush administration. This fear has held Bush in power and enabled him to achieve his pre-existing desire to invade Iraq and start America on a new Pax Americana.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Is Iraqi Oil Paying for War?

From the Meet The Press March 16, 2003, interview of Dick Cheney.

MR. RUSSERT: Every analysis said this war itself would cost about $80 billion, recovery of Baghdad, perhaps of Iraq, about $10 billion per year. We should expect as American citizens that this would cost at least $100 billion for a two-year involvement.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: I can’t say that, Tim. There are estimates out there. It’s important, though, to recognize that we’ve got a different set of circumstances than we’ve had in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan you’ve got a nation without significant resources. In Iraq you’ve got a nation that’s got the second-largest oil reserves in the world, second only to Saudi Arabia. It will generate billions of dollars a year in cash flow if they get back to their production of roughly three million barrels of oil a day, in the relatively near future. And that flow of resources, obviously, belongs to the Iraqi people, needs to be put to use by the Iraqi people for the Iraqi people and that will be one of our major objectives.

At this writing, the War has cost over $150 billion, with many billions more appropriated but not yet spent. For an up to the minute ticker of the cost of the War in Iraq, go to:

As for the oil, Bush Administration testimony to Congress in early 2003, was that Iraq oil revenues would be between $50 to $100 billion over the next two or three years. The actual figure for 2003 was $8 billion, with no more than $15 billion projected for 2004. For a report from the Brookings Institution on the Iraq oil sector one year after liberation, go to:

Liberators or Conquerors?

Dick Cheney was interviewed on Meet The Press March 16, 2003, as part of the Bush Administration program to sell Americans on invading Iraq. After Cheney presented the administration position that we would be welcomed by the Iraqis with open arms, Tim Russert asked the “but what if” question. Here is the question and the Cheney response, which has not held up well over time.

MR. RUSSERT: If your analysis is not correct, and we’re not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I don’t think it’s likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators. I’ve talked with a lot of Iraqis in the last several months myself, had them to the White House. The president and I have met with them, various groups and individuals, people who have devoted their lives from the outside to trying to change things inside Iraq. And like Kanan Makiya who’s a professor at Brandeis, but an Iraqi, he’s written great books about the subject, knows the country intimately, and is a part of the democratic opposition and resistance. The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but what they want to the get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that.

Professor Makiya is not likely to be a name Cheney is dropping nowadays, because Makiya has been very critical of the way the US has been operating in Iraq. In an interview on NPR’s All Things Considered, May 26, 2004, the Professor said, “The development of events in the last year has shown that the idea of occupation did not fit Iraq well. And let me say, many of us opposed it very vigorously back when it was first espoused before the war. And I think the United States and the coalition in general has now realized that that was not the way to go, and the quicker we end what is technically an occupation regime, the better.” When asked what went wrong in the relationship between the expatriates and the Americans and the Iraqi people, Makiya responded, “Very many things. There is the strategic error of occupation, which essentially translated into non-reliance on Iraqis.” He added, “I think the route that we have gone down is very unfortunate and sad, and I have forebodings, to be honest.”

A Transcript of the full Cheney Meet the Press interview is at:

Friday, November 19, 2004

Where are the Iraqi Women?

In a comment to my Where Are the American Women post, Teresa said she felt like she knew nothing from the media about the Iraqi women and that they seem to be some kind of a kept secret. That does seem to be the case. About the only time you see Iraqi women on TV is when some woman in long robes and head coverings come into some makeshift morgue wailing over bodies, and we cannot understand what they are shrieking and are not told what their relationship was to the deceased and often it is not clear who killed the person.

Sometimes we may see this TV stereotypical Iraqi woman in a group of people lashing out in unintelligible rage over some again unexplained affront. But we never see women in any positions of authority or in rational, unemotional discourse. There were three women reportedly on the first Council set up by the occupiers, only one of whom had political experience. That woman, Aquila Al-Hashimi, was assassinated.

Daughter Anna gave me an article from the Winter 2003 Amnesty Now magazine, which I only now have taken the time to read. The article points out how that women in pre-Saddam Iraq had made significant gains in human rights areas, but that under Saddam those right became eroded, especially after the first Gulf War and under the sanctions. With the occupation, the article indicates, women have not seen any return to the rights of the pre-Saddam days. The chaos of the inept occupation has led to further victimization and repression of women, and the repression has indeed caused most Iraqi women to retreat into a kind of hiding in self-defense.

Bush Second Term - The Legacy

The Bush 2nd term Cabinet litmus test is quite simple - complete loyalty to George W. Bush. The amount of turnover for the Bush second term is actually about normal. What may be more unusual is the loyalty requirement. The purging at the CIA also seems rooted in getting rid of those who would in any way question the motives or actions of the President.

The first Bush term saw a significant number of Bush-bashing books published by former insiders. A goal of the second term is obviously to eliminate or seriously reduce the number of such books published in the next four years. It is about spinning and shaping the legacy image.

Second term legacy fashioning can be healthy, if it means sincerely striving to accomplish some actual good for the American people, but the Bush power base is not really interested in doing good, just in wielding power for the benefit of the already powerful. In Bush’s case, the loyalty litmus test clearly indicates he is more interested in personal image damage control, maybe even more so than in satisfying the greed of his power base. Unfortunately for most Americans, the combination of loyalty to Bush and a willingness to satisfy the greed of the powerful seems to be one that is too easy to find these days.

Internationally, Bush will be remembered as the President who reacted to 9/11 with the so-called War on Terror and who invaded and embroiled the US in Iraq on a questionable basis and without true international support. Domestically he will be remembered as a President who used religion for electoral purposes and presided over a faltering economy while amassing unprecedented deficits due to regressive tax cuts during a time of enormous war and defense increases. Certainly nothing to brag about. But his true legacy has to be his being chosen by the Supreme Court for a first term and by a majority of the electorate for a second term, in spite of the fact he has no particular talent or ability other than to campaign for office. The true Bush legacy, and one that should be over the door of his Presidential Library, is that he successfully followed the early political advice given to him by Republican guru Lee Atwater, "Play dumb and keep moving."

Econ 101 - Whose Ox Gets Gored?

I learned a few things from Professor Beuchel in Econ 101 at the UW, most memorably that, "It all depends on whose ox is being gored." That expression amply explains the way our government, with the two party system, approaches taxing and spending.

The Republicans have used their control of Congress to cut taxes massively for the rich and insignificantly for the middle class and poor, while simultaneously enormously increasing spending on defense and war and more moderately cutting some other expenses, mostly social programs. The result is a massive debt to be paid for in the future unprogressively, meaning more by the middle class and poor.

"Tax reform" is nothing more than deciding whose ox to gore. There are only two things that can be done to change the tax laws - either raise taxes or lower them. There are only two things that can be done with the income from taxes - spend it or save it. There are only two things tax revenue can be spent for - paying the interest on the national debt to avoid national bankruptcy, or spending for any other purposes. There are only two ways tax revenue can be "saved" - putting some revenue into a rainy day savings account or using some revenue to pay off part of the principal amount of the national debt.

So how will the Republicans use their power to make these choices? This is an easy question to answer - "four more years"- more of what they have been doing: lower taxes, especially on the rich; spend the revenue for defense and war; make significant cuts in other spending, especially social spending; and don’t save anything for a rainy day and don’t hesitate to increase the national debt further.

So whose ox is being gored? Obviously the ox of the middle class and the poor. Why do poor people in particular put up with this damage to their ox? Because they have been conditioned to believe, ever since the end of the LBJ Great Society programs on the late 1960's, that government is not really interested in improving the economic security of the poor. The Republican Presidents since then have certainly not been concerned, Carter was too busy with other problems to do much for the poor, and Clinton was hobbled by a Republican Congress. So poor people have made their personal safety and our national security a higher and supposedly more realistic priority, and they decided GW Bush, a wartime President should be retained. Of the 28 States with the lowest per capita income in America, 26 voted for Bush. The higher per capita income States voted for Kerry.

The message in here for the Democrats is to legitimately speak to the poor. Develop and clearly explain some basic programs to economically lift up poor people - such as job training, technical school grants, minimum wage increases, etc. Constantly remind them how it has always been the Democrats who have brought improvements to the lives of the poor. But in this day of spiritual seeking, it is important for the Democrats to get religious leaders involved in voicing support of these programs as embodying true spiritual values in contrast to the false right wing message of the mis-named Christian Coalition and Moral Majority.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Condescending Condoleeza Rice

Condoleeza Rice is an intelligent, talented and well-educated woman. She happened to be in the right academic setting, Stanford University, with the right mentors at the right time developing academic expertise in matters involving the Soviet Union. A long time popular faculty member, Professor Rice was used to being treated as an especially able favorite, and was eventually given the position of Stanford University Provost, a job involving co-ordination of academic programs.

Through her mentors, she came to the attention of the first President Bush administration and they quickly adopted her into the loyal fold, embracing her Soviet expertise, at a time when the Soviet Union was collapsing and becoming less important. But the Bush-Rice bonding endured.

As National Security Advisor, Rice showed what George W. Bush values most, loyalty to him. She demonstrated no particular ability to do the job, however, a fact that became very apparent by her dealings with the 911 Commission. Rice was overwhelmingly interested in not doing anything perceived as non-supportive of President Bush, and much less interested in addressing the issues of the security of the American people. Her attitude to the Committee members was professorially condescending, as has been her attitude toward those on whose talk shows she has appeared when the White House has felt the need to use her to ward off criticism - "after all she is a black woman and one would expect unfair attacks on her because of that".

As George W. Assumed the Presidency, Rice loyally signed on full time, with definite aspirations of her own to rise even further to Secretary of State, when the Powell good will had been used up by Bush. And now that is what is happening. The article in The Nation, linked below, documents how Rice has significantly politicized the NSA office to an unprecedented extent. Rice does not have the personal style of a diplomat, nor does she have executive or administrative experience necessary to do this new job. Career diplomats who were retained at the insistence of Powell will now be forced to leave, to be replaced by more Bush sycophants. Particularly following Powell, Rice will not be well received by the world diplomatic corps.

Here is the article from The Nation:

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Sorry Everybody

Son Chris in Thailand points us to the Sorry Everybody site.

Chris said, "It's where people are posting their apologies to the world and the world is posting back. There are some great pics on there. It started with one guy posting a picture and has now grown to 2,500 and counting and has gotten more than 20 million hits.Now, I'm not apologising to anybody, but the site did make me feel better -- i'm not sure why?"

I think it makes us feel better by reminding us how many people cared enough to vote for someone other than GWB, and how many people care enough about other people to take the time to share their expression of sorrow.

When you get to the site, click on gallery to see more pictures. Here is the link:

There is supposed to be a counter site called, but I just checked and it is registered but does not seem to be up yet.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Where Are You on the Political Compass?

John in Phoenix gave me this link to Political Compass, a site where you can take a test on your personal views on issues, and the site will then place your views on a political chart that measures economic views from left to right and social issue views from up/authoritarian to down/libertarian. The site is legitimate, private and non-invasive, with a good overall explanation and examples of where historical persons would stand on the compass. The test takes just a few minutes and is definitely worth the time. Thanks John.

So as not to prejudice anyone, I am posting my test result as a comment. I encourage all readers to do the same.

[Note: since this article was originally posted, the address of the compass web site has changed. The new address is below.]

Thursday, November 11, 2004

What is the purpose of this battle for Fallujah?

What is the purpose of this battle for Fallujah? Supposedly the purpose is to show the insurgents who is in control, to reduce the number of insurgents and to increase the prospects for a legitimate election in Iraq in January.

The battle seems ill-conceived. To show that the US is in control by evacuating a city and then blowing the holy hell out of it sounds dishearteningly like the military-speak Vietnam War explanation, "in order to save the village, it became necessary to destroy the village."

Obviously the leadership and bulk of insurgents left Fallujah before the battle began. The remnants are essentially suicide types that are going out in a blaze of glory, sure to recruit far more to their cause. The Battle has also caused Sunni leaders to urge an election boycott in protest, and has so disrupted, alienated and discouraged the civilian population of Fallujah that their ability to vote in a proper state of mind is now questionable.

So how would I have handled it better? Allow me to introduce here what will become a leitmotif at Sense from Seattle when discussing the War in Iraq: President Bush rushed us into this War unprepared and with no legitimate plan for where it would all lead, so it his responsibility to end the mess, a responsibility now shared by those who voted to give him a second term. I voted for Kerry, who narrowly lost. Sense from Seattle readers who voted for Bush, if there are any, are invited to post comments here telling us what they think is the responsible way to get us out of the mess in Iraq, and please give us something more hopeful than a faith-based expression that you trust President Bush to get us out of the mess - it was just that sort of blind trust that got us into the mess in the first place. I hear some Bush voters say that Kerry did not convince them he had any more plan than Bush for getting us out of the mess - but Bush does not even admit he got us into a mess, while at least Kerry agrees we are in a mess, which seems to me reason enough to have chosen Kerry over Bush on the Iraq issue.

Do you recall what it was that set off this significant upturn in Iraqi insurgency? Remember when Bremer, the US appointed Administrator of Iraq, closed the newspaper that was expressing opposition to the US occupation? That is what I recall really escalated the violence. What about freedom of the press and freedom of speech? Better to argue issues and debate ideas than to force a viewpoint or silence those who disagree with you by force of arms. Engagement in open, public debate, moderated by American officials fluent in Arabic should have been part of the American plan from the beginning and would have had a much better prospect for creating a proper atmosphere for elections in Iraq. But conversational fluency, open discussion and public debate are not the way the Bush Administration prefers to operate, not just in Iraq, but also here at home.

Death of Arafat

I claim no expertise in issues involving the Palestinian people and their quest for a Palestinian State. I do consider myself though a fairly perceptive observer of the accomplishments of leaders. Yasser Arafat led the PLO for 30 years, relying on guerrilla and terrorist type tactics, with an occasional foray into diplomacy, but he never accomplished what should have been the top goal of the Palestinian people, their own sovereign State.

Like so many leaders of revolutionary movements, he became an icon, and like so many such icons, he stayed in power too long and became an obstacle to accomplishing the goal. The prospects for the Palestinian people should be improved now that Arafat has died.

Veteran's Day is a Morph

Like many Americans, I am a veteran of military servcie, and I fly the flag on Veteran's Day. I am also old enough to remember when it was called Armistice Day, a memory task made easier because, if November 11 came on a weekday, it meant a usuallly damp and bleak Seattle day when I didn't have to trudge off to school, and regardles of the day of the week, it was the holiday that came the day before my birthday.

Armistice Day was proclaimed in the 1920's as a solemn remembrance of the day that the World War ended, world peace was restored, peaceful relations with all nations was resumed and the hope was expressed that peaceful relations would never again be severed. The day was to be commemorated "with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations." This Congressional sentiment was again expressed in 1938.

But in 1954, during the McCarthy Era and at the urging of Veteran's groups, Armistice Day was morphed by Congress into Veteran's Day, which has now become a day when we honor veterans and their military service and seem to have completely forgotten the underlying peace prayerful purpose of Armistice Day.

The Congree in 1954 was, I believe, the last one that was totally controlled by the Republicans with a Republican President in the White House. In addition to McCarthyism, that Congress also contributed the addition of "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance - and managed to let the Soviets beat us into space.

Here is a Veteran's Administration page on the history of Veteran's Day:

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Permanent US Military Presence in Iraq

When Senator Kerry mentioned in the first Presidential debate that the US is building 14 permanent military bases in Iraq, it went right over the heads of the mainstream media. The fact is, the US is going to have to maintain a sizeable troop commitment in Iraq for at least several years, as a deterrent to civil war. More realistic is the likelihood the US presence will continue indefinitely into the future.

How many countries can you name where the US has military bases? Germany, Korea and let’s see, where else have we had wars and kept bases after the war - well not in Vietnam of course. Fact is, the US has over 700 overseas military bases in 130 countries. This is the mother of all globalization. Check out this article, from Fox News of all places, and for much more info go to

I expect Iraq to be the forced host of major US military presence in the middle east as far as the mind can project - unless we invade a better choice.

Good Riddance to John Ashcroft

Good riddance to one of the worst Attorneys General in US history. The man is so creepily paranoid that he handwrote his resignation letter, lest his secretary might turn out to be a terrorist and leak the news to Osama, thereby giving him a one week jump on plotting his next attack.

In his missal Ashcroft trumpeted that he has achieved for America a great deliverance from evil, "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved...." Really? No crime and no terror? In just four years. Of course, the previous span of American homeland freedom from Osama terror was eight years, from 1993, one month after George the 1st left and Clinton took office to 9/11/2004, eight months after George the 2nd arrived.

Ashcroft’s litigation score card as AG has been abysmal. For all the excesses of the Patriot Act and all the illegal tactics pursued by Ashcroft, he has only the convictions of the Lackawana students who went to Afghanistan to see the camps and then came back disillusioned and did nothing. No successful prosecutions, just lots of illegal detentions. He has made more law by being sued - and by losing suits. Just yesterday a right of center US Supreme Court rejected, 9-0, the Ashcroft attempted illegal application of a deportation statute designed to target violent perpetrators of intentional crimes.

With his health cited as the reason for leaving, Ashcroft should stay out of governmental affairs and spend his time performing before Evangelical groups the beloved - by him anyway - hymns he writes.

Where are the American Women?

In Iraq, as in all modern wars, the largest casualty groups are the women and children. Politics, rationales, strategies and tactics aside, where is the expression of American women's concern for the Iraqi women and children? Some official international groups and watchdog agencies are trying to investigate and speak out about what is happening to women and children in Iraq, and some reporters, women in particular, occasionally show interest, but where are the women of America in this time of great concern for Iraqi women - mothers, daughters, wives and sisters?

Some American women are in military uniform, more so than ever in our history. Three in particular come to mind, one inspiring and two disgusting. The disgusting two were involved in the Iraq prison abuse scandal - the nut in the sexual humiliation pictures giving the thumbs up and the nut who was supposed to be in charge of the prison. The inspiring one deserves a couple paragraphs of her own.

I love you Jessica Lynch. You are so truly American. Small town girl trying to do the right thing, get some experience, earn some money, help your country, make friends with everyone, follow orders, try to act brave even if you are really scared. But above all else, value your integrity and humanity. A wrong turn, guns that would not work, hug the floor, crash, injury - then a hospital peopled by the supposed bogeymen you were told about, but also by a nurse who sang to you as if you were her own child - and made you feel as if you were. Then your dynamic rescue, staged, documented and hyped - the small town girl from rural America, guns blazing in defiance, finally succumbing to injuries and being captured, abused and tortured before finally being heroically rescued by her band of brothers.

Your first interview, Jessica, is America at her best. Cute, sweet and innocent, you set the record straight by telling your true story, so naively and simply that the Pentagon could not figure out how to spin it against you. Your expression of dismay that your superiors kept telling heroic lies about your story, even after they knew the stories were untrue, confirmed that you are an American hero of a type which is unfortunately quite unique.

But what of American women not in uniform? There are many women involved in support of our troops, openly praying, invariably in Christian context, for their safe return. But are they also praying for the safety of Iraqi women and children? If so, I haven’t heard of it. And what about Muslim women in America? Are they praying for the safety of Iraqi women and children? Probably not in public-out of concern for their own safety here in America.

What about an ecumenical women’s prayer service for the troops and for Iraqi women and children? Where are the American women?

Conservative Impostors (Neocons)

Four years of Latin study, and a good dictionary, tell me that "conservative" comes from the Latin words "together" and "keep", meaning to keep together, or preserve. Traditionally in politics, to be conservative meant to be opposed to change, in contrast with progressives, who actively worked for change.

The current crop of American conservatives have their roots in the 1960's, when skewed thinking perverted conservative fundamentals. Think of Barry Goldwater writing "Conscience of a Conservative" [actually I would rather not think of Barry Goldwater at all and I must admit I don’t recall ever reading that tome]. Goldwater was basically for nuking Vietnam to "save" it from Communism. Think of Governor Reagan in California fighting to preserve the Redwoods - or rather one Redwood - as Ronnie said, "If you see one Redwood, you’ve seen them all." Think of the John Birch Society and "None Dare Call It Treason" [which was short enough and ridiculous enough that I actually did read it].

Fast forward to 2004 and a second term for GWB. What do the Bush "conservatives" want to preserve safe from change? They claim they want to preserve "values", but these self-proclaimed conservatives are actually the antithesis of true conservatives. Here are a few of the major changes these impostors are seeking: ignore the doctrine of stare decisis and overturn Roe v. Wade; replace a centrist US Supreme Court with somewhat conservative leanings with an extremely reactionary Court, modelled after Justice Scalia; change the US Constitution to make marriage a matter of Federal law rather than State law; change the concept of conserving Refuges, so that oil drilling can now be allowed; change the bona fide conservative concept of pay as you go and replace it with lower taxes for the rich, resulting in huge budget deficits; change our system of Social Security which has provided disability, survivor and retirement benefits since the Great Depression of the 1930's, and start siphoning funds off for the private sector brokers and financiers who might be the next Enron; and further develop the change of American foreign policy claiming a right to unilaterally and pre-emptively strike against other nations we choose to perceive as a threat.

Author Kevin Phillips refers to these modern day impostors as neocons - neo meaning a new form of something. Phillips points out that the 1960's neocons also included the hawkish wing of the Democratic party, headed by our own Washington State "Senator from Boeing", Henry Jackson. Remind me sometime to dig out my 1965 letter to Jackson about our mistaken involvement in Vietnam and his boilerplate response.

The two most genuinely conservative positions I can recall being taken by an American President in the post-Vietnam era, were by the two Democratic Presidents. In the midst of oil shortages in the late 1970's, Jimmy Carter told Americans we must each take personal action to reduce our own oil consumption - for which the impostor conservatives vilified him. And in the 1990's, Bill Clinton said we must reduce the legacy of Reagan-Bush deficits and pay as we go, and that is what was done during his time in office.

Commerce Secretary Evans Resigns!

Who Cares?

Well, you are reading this, so maybe you do. But seriously, what is the job of the Commerce Secretary and what did Secretary Evans do in the job? I am somewhat of a news junkie, and I cannot recall anything about Evans being in the news as Commerce Secretary. I know he is a Texas crony of George.

Sounds like Evans is so bored that he wants to go back to Texas - which is not where I would go to overcome my boredoom. I did spend four months in San Antonio and Amarillo, Texas in 1966, with my board and room paid for by the US Air Force. I also had ancestral grandparents that moved to Paris, Texas during the Civil War and lived there into the 20th Century. If I were to go to Texas, I would probably go to Paris, but I would rather go to the real Paris - actually I did go there in 1969.

Why am I talking about me? Because even I am more interesting than Don Evans.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Red States Hazardous to Health

The annual report of a non-profit consortium that ranks the States according to the health of their residents shows an interesting correlation between the quality of health and the political "color" of the State. The report weighs such factors as health insurance coverage, heart disease rates, total and infant mortality rates, the rate of motor vehicle deaths, high school graduation rates, childhood poverty, and public health spending.

The report lists blue States as 7 of the top 10 healthiest, while 20 of the bottom 25 are red States. Blue States clearly "value" health more than do red States. I know it is a stereotype, but it does seem the majority of red State voters who chose George Bush apparently share his non-concern over these health issues, and value instead the importance of the State not "interfering" with the God-given right of people to live a downright unhealthy life.

The full report can be accessed from the United Health Foundation web site at .

Monday, November 08, 2004

Who Controls the State Legislatures?

Beware: The currrent powers that be in the Republican Party are very adept at telling the same lie over and over, until people have heard it so much they start believing it is true. A current lie they are circulating is that the Democratic Party is dead. Don't you believe it.

Concern has been expressed as to whether the Democratic Party is still viable in the Legislatures of the various States. I am pleased to report the Democrats are alive and well at the State level and in fact made gains nationally in last week’s elections. Nebraska has a unicameral (one house only) State Legislature, but in the 49 other States, Republicans controlled both houses in 20 States and the Democrats controllled both in 19, with the other 10 States split one house to each party.

A full report from the bi-partisan National Conference of State Legislatures can be read at:

Advice to the Iraqi People

I had a good talk today with a friend who voted for George Bush. In the lead up to the war, my friend and I had disagreed about the justification of proceeding, but we now seem to be in agreement that the war was a mistake or at least that the planning for what would happen after the initial military victory was unacceptably poor.

The primary concern of my friend is how we are now going to get out of Iraq. I share that concern but also am concerned about what we are going to learn from our mistakes in going into Iraq in the first place. This latter concern is a more long range one - our nation still disagrees on what we learned from the Vietnam war, as was still apparent in this Presidential election.

Most Americans want us to stabilize Iraq and let Iraqis freely vote for their own leaders to govern their country, presumably as a democracy favorable to America. Elections will take place and they will be heavily influenced by the American occupation presence and the ongoing fog of war. I have no delusions that the election results will be a true measure of the voice of the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people are not experienced in having an electoral voice, they have serious internal differences and the US is going to influence and control the electoral process to insure an outcome acceptable to the US.

Granted the American people did not follow my advice to vote for Kerry, I would still like to offer my sincere advice to the Iraqi people. My first advice is to do what America has not yet done about Vietnam - reach agreement about what lesson should be learned from the rise and fall of Saddam. You can argue among yourselves about the US having supported Saddam on the rise and about who was helped and who hurt by Saddam. You can argue about whether Saddam should have been overthrown by Iraqis and why that did not happen and about what the true motives of the US were in invading Iraq. Have these arguments and then put them behind you. Those questions are all remnants of a long history of foreign domination which you now have the opportunity to end.

Iraqis, how best to end the American occupation and avoid foreign domination? America has been an occupier before in other places and those occupations ended reasonably soon and foreign domination did not become a problem. American military presence, however, has been maintained in most all of those places, in the form of US bases on foreign soil. If you let America do what it wants and co-operate with America in order to allow it to end the occupation as early as possible, you will probably have to initially proceed in ways that make America most comfortable, but then with time your own true voice can emerge more, even if it disagrees with America. Disagreement with America will not cause America to use its military bases in your country against your people. You will be respected as a sovereign nation and disagreements resolved by diplomacy.

Vietnam is the one case where American attempts to conquer and occupy were thwarted. Vietnam is an independent sovereign nation, without US military bases. Iraqis, can your country become the second Vietnam? I do not believe it can, because of significant differences. Vietnam had actually been divided into two countries, with a popular government in North Vietnam allied with large and popular insurgents in South Vietnam to unify the country over objections from a somewhat unpopular South Vietnamese government. The US became involved in South Vietnam to help keep the South Vietnamese government in power. The will of the Vietnamese people to fight and die to unify their country under a popular Vietnamese leader proved stronger than the will of the American people to continue a 10 year guerilla war in a country Americans ultimately decided was not worth the lives of more than 50,000 Americans.

Iraq is not Vietnam. There is no popular Iraq leader or nationalistic drive for unifying a divided country. Your military has been defeated and your dictator deposed and imprisoned. Your country is occupied, and the insurgency has nowhere near the depth and breadth of the Vietnam conflict. Islamic fundamentalist militants may have aligned with some generic occupation foes, but the militants are at least as dangerous to your country as are the Americans - both of them are killing your people and blaming it on the other.

Iraqis you need to bring the violence to an end by taking the side of the Americans on this issue and calling for an end to all violence. You need to take to the streets in mass demonstrations against the violence and you need to turn against the violent militant insurgents. Help America restore order. Then turn to the elections and vote. Vote for candidates who are pledged to reject violence and restore order and security. I know that you will not really have a wide range of choices. But go with what you have and you can build on it in the future elections.

America wants to end the occupation as soon as possible, even if they want to keep US military bases on your soil indefinitely. Try to think of the bases as permanent American tourist facilities and figure out legitimate ways to make money for Iraqis, just as other nations have done with US bases in their countries. Americans are an enterprising lot, especially the greediest capitalists, so they will try to get even richer on your resources, especially oil. That is the way it works, even in America, and all you can do is try to use your power of the vote to elect a government that will put some restraints on the greed for the benefit of the public. The willingness of the government to protect the people rather than look out for the greedy special interests will vary with elected administrations, the current Bush administration in America being an example of one more beholden to rich, special interests.

A last piece of advice has to do with the Constitutional structure of your new government. Democracy is not a perfect way to run a government, but it is the best system ever devised, so set up a democracy. But equally important is a bill of rights guaranteeing freedoms to individuals, one of the most important being to protect the right of each individual to religious freedom. Religious freedom means not only the right to choose whether to worship and worship however you choose, but also means that the government will not in any way endorse religion in general or any particular religion.

We Americans are divided in our politics, as the 51-48 election result showed. But all Americans are united in truly wanting the Iraqi people to be able to live peacefully and happily in a freedom of your own making.

Whorehouse Morality

Voters in Churchill County, Nevada voted on Tueday by a 2 to 1 margin to keep brothels legal; and they also voted by a 3 to 1 margin to keep George W. Bush as President - of the Country, not of the brothels. By the way, Clark County (Las Vegas), one of only two Counties where prostitution is illegal, voted for Kerry by 52 to 47.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Move to Canada?

Apparently due to depression over having Bush for President for four more years, visits to the Canadian Goverment website increased six-fold on Wednesday.

Hey, Democratic voters, don't move to Canada. Move instead to New Mexico, where Bush won by only 8,000 votes or to Iowa, with more electoral votes than New Mexico, where he had a 13,000 vote lead.

Do Corporations Have Souls?

Maybe my Bible is hopelessly out of date, but I have not been able to find any place where it discusses the sanctity of the corporate soul - or in fact any mention of corporations whatsoever.

Think of it - the very concept of a corporation - your riches are invested to increase your yield without you having to do any work and with you having no responsibility beyond your investment for any harm caused to others by the corporation. Somehow that doesn't sound like anything the bible advocates.

Republicans further believe the income made on corporate investments, unlike the fruits of the daily labors of an individual worker, should be sanctified further by being exempt from income tax. Double taxation they call it, as if all taxation is not duplication - does not the factory worker pay income and payroll taxes on his wages and then pay sales, property, gasoline and myriad other taxes when the take home pay is spent?

Corporations, being impersonal by nature and having limited liability as a prime reason for their artifical creation, are more prone to causing wrongful injury. Arguing that artificially created limited liability is not enough to protect these passive stockholders, Republicans now want the law to be changed to create further corporate protections by placing limits on the rights of injured victims of corporations to receive compensation from juries of their peers. What's next, advocating that corporations should be entitled to serve as jurors? Actually, that is already happening to a degree - many corporations encourage their employees to serve when called for jury duty, by paying their regular job pay while on jury service, as a reminder to that juror that corporations do care about individuals and that should be taken into account when deciding a case against a corporate defendant.

Is Youth to Blame?

So young people 18-29 did not show up in sufficient increased numbers at the polls to elect Kerry? Since when did that group assume the responsibility for rescuing America from Bush? True, those youths who did vote went for Kerry by 55-45, but their percentage of those voting was the same 17% as in 2000. However, there were in fact about 4 million more youthful voters this time around - the percentage stayed the same because the overall number of voters was an all time high.

Just as voters in all regions of the country have more in common than we sometimes remember - there were millions in the red states that went for Kerry and millions in blue states that went for Bush - so too do young and old voters have common ground.

When you see a young person, ask if they voted in the election, without asking who they voted for, and if they say they did vote then tell them, "Good for you." If they did not vote, then encourage them to join with the growing number of young voters the next time around to have their say in how our Country is governed. If they take the initiative to expand the discussion to include who voted for who, then engage with them, but always value their right to vote, even if they disagree with you. Remember, young Hillary Rodham was once a Goldwater Republican.

What Party Would Jesus Be In?

If Jesus were an American voter today, what party would he be in?

To answer this question, one has to decide on the approach to take. What we know of Jesus comes mainly from the New Testament of the Bible. There we are clearly shown his personal values as he lived them. We can hear from his words, but mainly we see from the example of his actions.

What would his attitude be on the first amendment debate about the proper place of religion in respect to government? I think Jesus drew a definite distinction between rendering to Caesar and rendering to God. Would Jesus champion assault rifle ownership and use? I don’t think joining the NRA would be high on his list.

Would Jesus be more concerned with reducing taxes on the rich or with providing safeguards for the poor? Would he be more concerned with the so-called double taxation of corporate dividends or with the real double impact of unemployment and lack of health care insurance?

No need to belabor the point - Jesus rode on a donkey, not an elephant.

Divided We Stand

The day after the election, the PBS News Hour had an interesting panel discussion, entitled Divided We Stand, on the impact of matters of morality on the electorate. Panelists included Rick Warren, a church pastor who publishes advice to over 100,000 churches, Barbara Ehrenreich, author and essayist, Jim Wallis of Sojourners, a Christian social action advocate, and Morris Fiorina, a political science to a transcript of the discussion is posted below.

The pastor spoke of the difference between social values like justice, equality and concern for the poor, and personal values, meaning the personal individual morality. He said a candidate who embodied both would have tremendous voter appeal, but then I remember Jimmy Carter seemed to legitimately have both and he lost his re-election bid to Reagan by almost 9 million votes.

The pastor indicated his belief that the character of a candidate always trumps policy and that some issues, such as abortion, are clearly non-negotiable per the bible. The last minute news that Justice Rehnquist has cancer was a reminder to voters that the values of Judges to be appointed to the Supreme Court will be impacting our society for the next 40 years, according to the pastor.

Barbara said, "There is nothing in the bible that supports tax cuts for the wealthy along with social service cuts for th poor." There is a highly organized system of non-denominational churches, Barbara said, that are providing services that used to be provided by the government. She also pointed out that in this election a larger number of people than ever in history have voted against a sitting President.

Wallis echoed Barbara’s sentiments about not forgetting the larger social values in discussions of morality.
I thought the professor was missing the point when he said the impact of morality as an issue in this election is being exaggerated. The fact is, the Republican strategy has been to play to the personal morality card as a means to mobilize the Christian Evangelical vote, and it worked.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Exit Poll Failure

Pundits are saying the exit polls mistakenly gave the edge to Kerry, and were also problematic in the 2002 election. In theory they should work, because there is not much reason for someone who just voted and is asked to identify their vote unanimously to lie. But if they don't work that well, then what is the use of having them, rather than just waiting a little longer for the results to come in from the election officials? Maybe they will become a thing of the past.

Ohio Voting Booth Shortage

How much the appalling lack of a sufficient number of voting booths in Ohio contributed to Democratic voter drop off, though somewhat a matter of conjecture, should be investigated , at least by the media, as part of a broader investigation of the role played by the Ohio Republican Secretary of State. It is beginning to look like the job of Secretary of each State should truly be a non-partisan position.

Kerry Concedes

Senator Kerry decided to concede I think mostly beacuse Bush got a clear popular vote majority. Even though the provisional ballots in Ohio would probably not be enough to overcome the lead, they will be counted. What will probably not happen officially is an examination of the ballot spoilage, although some media coalition may do that on their own later, as was done in Florida last time, though that one became last page news after 9/11. Kerry made a good concession speech, though not stirring. Unlike Gore, who had no job after his 2000 defeat, Kerry is still a US Senator and will be a major player in the minority party.

Bush Declares Mandate

Bush managed to read the speech Karl Rove gave him proclaliming a mandate and including two short sentences of faint praise for the vanquished foe. At one point in the speech Bush said he wanted to talk to people like me who voted for Kerry, and me being such a sincere schmuck, I made myself "all ears". He then proceeded to tell me I should trust him to do the right thing, which he said he was going to do without saying anything specific about what the right thing was. He definitely has learned the number one rule of the con man - get the victim to trust you enough to believe you are going to give them a really good deal.

But I am not really that big a schmuck. I know that while Rove was writing the speech, Bush was on the phone with the Republican powers in Congress congratulating them and mutually salivating about the prospects for all the wonderful things he is going to give Kerry supporters like me: starting to privatize Social Security; drilling for oil in primitive Alaska; reducing regulation of phone companies and media conglomerates; protection of drug companies from the dangers of the private enterprise market; medical savings accounts for those without money to even buy health insurance; continuing corporate welfare for Republican campaign contributors; etc. etc. etc

Kerry Missing Message Mantra

Kerry is portrayed as not having had a clear and consistent campaign message. The legitimacy of that portrayal is based in part on Kerry's own personal style of analysis and reflection, but much more so on the fact that Bush had such an extensive, ongoing, abysmal record to criticize. The Bush style lends itself to simplistic mischaracterizations ( I still fail to understand how Kerry could be both a "flip flopper' and the most consistently liberal member of the Senate), repeated in that mantra style by all the talk show cohorts and other sycophants. Kerry might have been well served by using more of the honest characterizations of Bush's failings, like "consistency is no virtue when you are consistently wrong".

Nada Nader

Ralph Nader received only a fraction of 1% of the vote this time. Those who voted for him obviously are fans who would always vote for Ralph under any circumstances, so I don't think any of them were pulled from Kerry. Ralph has some reasonable positions on important issues and I would like to see him concentrate of working on that agenda in some way other than being a perennial Presidential candidate to whom nobody listens and who henceforth should in no way be considered an election factor.

Has the Electoral College Survived?

Though around 55% of Americans say they are in favor of scrapping the Electoral College, there is nothing in this election, unlike last time, to fuel that fire. But why not kill it and avoid the possibility of another 2000 result? The election night maps of the red and blue States only adds to the perception that America is totally divided by region. Though there are obviously strong regional differences, the fact is that there are significant numbers of Americans of every point of view in every region of this country. Living in a State like Washington, where a majority voted with me for Kerry, takes a little of the sting off Bush being elected. Imagine how depressing it must be to be a Kerry supporter in a State where Kerry had no chance.

What About Ballot Spoilage?

I watched the network and cable election coverage and was unimpressed. Granted, they did a good job of not jumping the gun. But one thing they should have learned from Florida 2000 was not evident last night. Where was the discussion of ballot spoilage?

All the number talk regarding Ohio is based on the current difference in counted votes and whether that lead of Bush can be overcome by the provisional ballots. The provisional ballots are those that were challenged when cast at the polls. But what about ballots that were cast at the polls but rejected by the tallying machines either because a ballot had no vote for President or more than one vote for President- the so-called spoilage? These were the infamous hanging and pregnant chads that are the most memorable images of 2000 - the Judge with the magnifying glass looking at the punch card, with his eye so enlarged by the glass. I hope we see that Judge again on TV, this time being interviewed as an expert in how to sincerely and legitimately attempt to determine the intent of an American voter. That Judge and his glass who many in the media in 2000 seemed to treat as almost a comedian, to me was instead an inspiring player in a drama about the true spirit of American Democracy - to go to every effort to see that the vote of every American is properly counted.

In Ohio, 69 of the 88 Counties still use punch card ballots. As the Democratic lawyers approach the Ohio vote count, the chad related problems will again arise as a central issue. Here is a link to an Article from the Cinncinati Enquirer back in August pointing out the great likelihood that this would be a problem.

Ohio should technically be up in the air for a week or two, as the overall vote count is reviewed, provisional ballots are contested, spoiled ballots are examined and overseas ballots come in, though it does seem more likely at this point that Bush will still edge it out. But while Ohio is up in the air, all reasonably close States will probably be put through the same review processes, especially where the spoilage counts are high.

The shame of the media on election night 2004 was the failure to even mention ballot spoilage.

Military Advice to a Prospective Candidate

Advice to a young would be candidate for President: don't serve in uniform in War time. First, you may get killed. Second, you may get maimed and end up like Dole - defeated at the polls and stuck married to Elizabeth. Better to have been either too old or too young to have served. Unless you come from a clandestinely adept political dynasty, in which case you can get a preferntial enlistment allowing you to wear a spiffy flight suit by qualifying to fly an obsolete aircraft that would never be used in the War, with the right to drop your flight status whenever you want and to come and go as you please

Homophobic Factor

Exit polling supposedly shows the biggest surprise of the election to be the naming of moral values as a top motivator. Moral values is what the Republicans would call "code" for homophobia. The only ballot issues that could clearly be labelled as morally based were the 11 State issue banning gay marriage, all of which passed.

Many people who did not want to discuss or admit their homophobia had no problem at all in the secrecy of the voting booth casting a ballot based on it.

The most telling answer Bush gave in the debates was the only one where he claimed he did not know the answer - that is, whether God lets people be born as homosexuals. Bush, who is so certain about everything else and has a summa cum laude from the Community Bible Study, conveniently is still searching in his heart for that answer. He did know though that homosexuals should not be allowed to marry.

George, have you figured out whether it is OK for them to love each other, as long as they don't have sex? If it is OK, then what is wrong with them confirming and commiting to their love by a marriage ceremony? Would allowing that make heterosexual couples stop getting married? Of course that is only half a problem, since half of heterosexual couples get divorced anyway. If marriage is not really for commitment purposes, then maybe it is only for making sex morally permissible. Ah, now I am beginning to see the light - if gays can marry, then they can morally have sex. By the way, in your campaign against Ann Richards, who did put on churchgoers' windshields those pictures of two men kissing?

Two Americas

This election confirmed that Edwards was correct when he said there are two Americas. But the vote did not split according to his identification of the economic split. The two Americas identified at the ballot box were the slight majority of voters who seem to have no problem with the mingling of Church and State, and the slightly smaller number who believe we should adhere to the Constitutional principle of Separation of Church and State. My hope for America is that the inevitable abuses of mingling will cause enough pro-minglers to realize the error of their way and vote against mingling in the future.

Hispanic Vote

Hispanics are now I think the largest color minority in America, and their numbers voting are significantly rising. Though traditionally expected to lean Democratic, the fact is they are breaking out closer to evenly split than expected.

The next male Democratic candidate for President would be well advised to learn to speak some Spanish. Look how well George has done with the one sentence he knows. It helps to have Hispanic in- laws, and by the next election or two it might be advisable to have a Hispanic wife - or husband. [Please note: Portugese won't do.]

The Florida Vote

Looks like Jeb delivered Florida again. Of course there was some hanky panky like voter roll purging, but the fact is he is a popular Governor and it rubbed off on George. Four hurricanes helped. Old Florida pols say hurricanes are great for office holders because it gives them a chance to show serious concern and work extra hours in front of the cameras and personally declare the need for official help for the victims - the sort of things Giuliani appeared to do so well in NY, until his head swelled again with personal political ambition.

The brothers made sure that George got in on enough of the pictures and it became clear that Kerry, though he visited the scene, had no relatives down there. Another tip for the Dems for the future - make sure your candidate has Florida relatives to visit after the hurricane hits.

The Wrong Democrat?

John Kerry was not evangelically religious enough or perceived as a consistent enough leader to win the popular vote.

To be a sincere Catholic who believes that the moral teachings of his Church should, in accordance with the US Constitution, be kept separate from the governance of the United States was not even good enough for Catholic voters to choose Kerry over Bush.

Though only a minority of the electorate believes Bush is leading the country in the right way, and only a minority agrees the War in Iraq was the right decision and is being conducted properly, a majority agrees we should stay the course with the same skipper who got us off course.

Who could the Democrats have run that would have been a better challenger - someone openly religious with an unwavering, simplistic and almost flippant approach to the issues? Think of all those who ran in the primaries and only one candidate clearly meets these criteria - the Reverend Al Sharpton. When you are done laughing, think again - only this time close your eyes and imagine Sharpton as being a white man from the South, and it is not so funny.

The Popular Vote

It looks like Bush will end up with close to a 4 million vote surplus in the popular vote. I had figured it to be much closer. What I failed to predict is that the Republicans produced a significant number of new evangelical voters and the Democrats did not get any increase in the percentage of young voters who actually cast ballots.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Clandestine Bushes

Earlier this year, the book American Dynasty, by Kevin Phillips was published. It is a scholarly documentation of the building of the Bush/Walker political dynasty, pointing out that it is unique in American history. One characteristic aspect of this dynasty is the clandestine ways in which it works. The Bush side of the family includes pioneers of the 20th Century American covert operations mentality, with Prescott involved in the OSS and George H. W. In the CIA. While serving as VP, George seems to have been involved in covert actions including the Republicans working behind President Carter’s back to delay the release of the hostages in Iran until after the 1980 election, the Iran-Contra circumvention of Congress, and secretly arming Saddam. After his defeat by Clinton, and before he left office, George pardoned those who could spill the beans on his involvement.

The politics of deceit and secrecy in White House operations are the foundation of George W.’s administration. Building on three generations, this latest George is advised by followers of Machiavelli’s "The Prince", and proclaims a religious mission directly from the Almighty, the details of which apparently the Almighty instructed him not to share with the American people.

"A Prince must take great care that nothing goes out of his mouth that ... does not seem to be all mercy, faith, integrity, humanity and religion." Machiavelli advises developing a deceitful character as the route to success. "However, it is necessary to be able to disguise this character well, and to be a great feigner and dissembler; and men are so simple and so ready to obey present necessities that one who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived."

Who will George W. pardon when he leaves office? Hopefully we will know before February.

Court OKs voter challengers at Ohio polls

By a 2 to 1 last minute vote, a three judge panel of the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has let stand an Ohio law allowing additional partisan voter challengers at Ohio polls. The Democrats should have legally challenged the Ohio law earlier, so that the case could have beeen decided by the US Supreme Court well ahead of this election. Having a national ruling would be better for the electoral process, even if the Supremes had voted 5-4 to allow challengers.

I don't understand why there would be a legitimate need for such a law in the first place. As I understand it, there are official partisan poll watchers already under local election laws. Why does there need to be even more? According to the news article linked below, the additional challengers will be using materials such as a list of absentee voters and recent deaths to see if a voter should be challenged. But why not just give that list to the exiting partisan poll watcher? Supposedly the answer is that having an extra person involved will be greater protection against fraud. But I agree with the trial judge who said the delays and confusion caused will intimidate and discourage legitimate voters to such an extent as to outweigh the chance of maybe catching a couple of frauds.

As a practical matter, the new challengers will have to speak only to the existing watchers, who then will decide whether to challenge. If the challenged voter proves entitlement (e.g. proof of age, residency, citizenship) then the vote will be allowed, but if proof is not immediately forthcoming, then a provisional ballot can be cast and held for later determination. One certain impact will be voter delays. Another likely one will be intimidation and discouragement of some voters. This will occur mostly in inner city, minority Democrat areas. Granted, the Democrats could return the favor in WASP suburbs, but the fact is that the Democratioc lines will be much longer to begin with and the Democratic voters more susceptible to intimidation historically. I just hope this late news will produce a backlash and make even more Democrats show up at the polls.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: AP - Elections: Court OKs voter challengers at Ohio polls

Monday, November 01, 2004

Young Cell Phone Users Prefer Kerry

Here is a link to a recent poll showing young cel phone users favor Kerry over Bush by a wide margin. These voters will probably be polled moreoften in the future.

Young cell phone users behind Kerry CNET

My Prediction on the Election

Tomorrow is election day and predictions are everywhere, so here comes mine. Professional predictors, known as pollsters, come in three flavors: openly partisan, disguised partisan and attempted objective. The attempted objective pollsters use a variety of methods and criteria, asking about feelings, issues and candidates.

I am an openly partisan democrat. But I am also a person who values honesty - starting with being honest with myself. Trying as objectively as I can to analyze and predict the outcome of the election is a mentally healthy exercise worth undertaking.

My analysis starts with the polls, discounting the partisan ones more than the objective ones, and paying attention more to the state polls in the battleground states, rather than the national polls, since the election will be determined by electoral vote instead of popular vote. I look at poll results on feelings and attitudes and issues as well as on candidate preferences. With regard to margin of error, while I do consider that, I nevertheless believe the error will probably break more often in favor of the candidate who scored higher within the margin.

Polls of decided voters are probably most accurate, since partisans and people who say they decide based on the person or position on issues rather than on the party are not likely to change before the election. My personal opinion is that many decided voters are actually partisan, especially Republican, in spite of the fact they say they are not. These include the people you hear describe the differences between the candidates in generic partisan terms, as if they are repeating the Republican mantras. I don’t believe there are that many truly independent voters - I believe most are actually partisan without realizing or admitting it.

It is the undecided voters who are so difficult to accurately poll and who will decide the election. Some are position shifters, mostly this time away from Bush because of his record as President. Perennial procrastinators traditionally trend away from the incumbent also. Older persons who have not voted ever or for many years will probably cancel each other out; Bush could have an edge here because of recruiting by evangelicals, but Kerry should pick up many new minority voters. The newest group of undecided voters are young, first time ones who may be concerned about a Bush military draft [rightly so in my opinion] but may also see tax refund Republicans as better for their pocketbook [wrongly so in my opinion].

The newly registered will be major determiners of the election outcome. Republicans are counting on those motivated to support our troops, fight terror and keep an Evangelical in the White House. Democrats have an umbrella of unacceptable Administration policies to point to for motivation to dump Bush. The newly registered who have no particular preference, but just want to be involved in making the decision, are expected to somewhat favor the challenger.

It may be a truism to say it will all come down to turnout, but that is a fact. The turnout should be tremendous. Absentee and early voting will probably trend Republican. The motivation is extremely high this time around and the Republicans are trying to sneakily discourage it in the general news, and specifically intimidate it at the voting polls,because they know the tradition says high turnout will favor Democrats. We have already seen four hour early voting lines in Jeb Bush’s Florida, but it seems like those in line, predominantly Democrats I suspect, are hanging in there, perhaps developing a community spirit with line mates. I do wonder though whether the Republicans have been putting impostors in the lines to make them longer and to make comments discouraging line mates from waiting so long. [Lest you think I am paranoid, remember when ballots were being re-counted in Florida in 2000 and what supposedly were outraged locals banging at the locked doors to protest the "phoney" recount turned out to actually be Republican staffers flown in from Washington DC].

Turnout can be affected by weather, which the Weather Channel is predicting will be wet in some areas, especially in parts of the South, but does not seem to be particularly discouraging to voters, especially those motivated as they are this year.

I am not superstitious, but will mention that Green Bay beat the Redskins Sunday, so if you go with that phenomenal string of game to election connections, the incumbent should lose.


Undecided party shifters will go more for Kerry.
New registrants for a change will go for Kerry.
Republican attempts to discourage voting will backfire in favor of Kerry.
Truly undecided voters will by a majority favor Kerry.

The popular vote will be extremely close, maybe 49.75 to 49.25, with 1% to Nader. Either candidate could win the popular vote, it is that close.

I think Kerry will win the electoral vote by about 1 to 10 votes, though it could go a little higher. There will probably be some challenges but none with a serious prospect of affecting the outcome.

The House will stay Republican, especially with the Republican Gerrymandering of districts in Texas. The Senate will probably also stay Republican though it should remain close enough for a few moderate Republicans to align with Democrats on some issues.