28 November 2004

Delusion is still the defining characteristic of the Bush administration

Former Reagan Assistant Secretary of the Treasury asks what became of Conservatives.
America has blundered into a needless and dangerous war, and fully half of the country’s population is enthusiastic. Many Christians think that war in the Middle East signals "end times" and that they are about to be wafted up to heaven. Many patriots think that, finally, America is standing up for itself and demonstrating its righteous might. Conservatives are taking out their Vietnam frustrations on Iraqis. Karl Rove is wrapping Bush in the protective cloak of war leader. The military-industrial complex is drooling over the profits of war. And neoconservatives are laying the groundwork for Israeli territorial expansion.

Not so long ago I would have identified the liberal media as the New York Times and Washington Post, CNN and the three TV networks, and National Public Radio. But both the Times and the Post fell for the Bush administration’s lies about WMD and supported the US invasion of Iraq. On balance CNN, the networks, and NPR have not made an issue of the Bush administration’s changing explanations for the invasion.

Do the Village Voice and The Nation comprise the "liberal media"? The Village Voice is known for Nat Hentoff and his columns on civil liberties. Every good conservative believes that civil liberties are liberal because they interfere with the police and let criminals go free. The Nation favors spending on the poor and disfavors gun rights, but I don’t see the "liberal hate" in The Nation’s feeble pages that Rush Limbaugh was denouncing on C-Span.

In the ranks of the new conservatives, however, I see and experience much hate. It comes to me in violently worded, ignorant and irrational emails from self-professed conservatives who literally worship George Bush. Even Christians have fallen into idolatry. There appears to be a large number of Americans who are prepared to kill anyone for George Bush.

Paul Craig Roberts is dead on in his assessment of the neoconservative mind mold.

20 November 2004

Equality, equity and government for all the people

Progressive moral values.
Moral values at the national level are idealized family values projected onto the nation. Progressive values are the values of a responsible nurturant family, where parents (if there are two) are equally responsible. Their job is to nurture their children and raise them to be nurturers of others. Nurturance has two aspects: empathy and responsibility--both for yourself and your children. From this, all progressive values follow, both in the family and in politics.

If you empathize with your children, you will want them to have strong protection, fair and equal treatment and fulfillment in life. Fulfillment requires freedom, freedom requires opportunity and opportunity requires prosperity. Since your family lives in, and requires, a community, community building and community service are required. Community requires cooperation, which requires trust, which requires honesty and open communication. Those are the progressive values--in politics as well as family life.

On the other hand, the strict-father family model assumes that evil and danger will always lurk in the world, that life is difficult, that there will always be winners and losers and that children are born bad--they want to do what feels good, not what's right--and have to be made good. A strict father is needed to protect and support the family and to teach his kids right from wrong. That can be done in only one way: punishment painful enough that, to avoid it, children will learn the internal discipline necessary to be moral. That discipline can also make them prosperous if they seek their self-interest and no one interferes. Mommy isn't strong enough to protect the family and is too soft-hearted to discipline the children. That's why fathers are necessary.

Apply this, via metaphor, to the nation: We need a strong President who knows right from wrong to defend the nation. Social programs are immoral because they give people things they haven't earned and so make them undisciplined--both dependent and less able to function morally. The prosperous people are the good people. Those who are not prosperous deserve their poverty. Taxes take away the rightful rewards of the prosperous. Wrongdoers should be punished severely. Government should get out of the way of disciplined (hence good) people seeking their self-interest. The President is to be obeyed; since he knows right from wrong, his authority is legitimate and not to be questioned. In foreign policy, he is also the absolute moral authority and so needs no advice from lesser countries.

18 November 2004

Thousands of Ohioans were denied their right to vote, and the ultimate vote count is very much in doubt

Hearings on Ohio Voting Put 2004 Election in Doubt
“In precincts 1 A and 5 G, voting as Hillman Elementary School, which is a predominantly African American community, there were woefully insufficient number of voting machines in three precincts. I was told that the standard was to have one voting machine per 100 registered voters. Precinct A had 750 registered voters. Precinct G had 690. There should have been 14 voting machines at this site. There were only 6, three per precinct, less than 50 percent of the standard. This caused an enormous bottleneck among voters who had to wait a very, very long time to vote, many of them giving up in frustration and leaving. . . . I estimate, by the way, that an estimated loss of over 8,000 votes from the African American community in the City of Youngstown alone, with its 84 precincts, were lost due to insufficient voting machines, and that would translate to some 7,000 votes lost for John Kerry for President in Youngstown alone. . . .”

“Just yesterday I went to the Trumbull Board of Elections in northeast Ohio, I wanted to review their precinct logs so I could continue my investigation. This was denied. I was told by the Board of Elections official that I could not see them until after the official vote was given.”

The testimony has revealed a widespread and concerted effort on the part of Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell to deny primarily African-American and young voters the right to cast their ballots within a reasonable time. By depriving precincts of adequate numbers of functioning voting machines, Blackwell created waits of three to eleven hours, driving tens of thousands of likely Democratic voters away from the polls and very likely affecting the outcome of the Ohio vote count, which in turn decided the national election.

While Democrats embraced a Get Out to Vote campaign, Republicans in Ohio opted for a supress the voter scheme that paid off.

17 November 2004

They simply do not care if their leaders are ethical

It only matters when it's the opposition party.
House Republicans proposed changing their rules last night to allow members indicted by state grand juries to remain in a leadership post, a move that would benefit Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) in case he is charged by a Texas grand jury that has indicted three of his political associates, according to GOP leaders.

House Republicans adopted the indictment rule in 1993, when they were trying to end four decades of Democratic control of the House, in part by highlighting Democrats' ethical lapses. They said at the time that they held themselves to higher standards than prominent Democrats such as then-Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (Ill.), who eventually pleaded guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced to prison.

The blatant hypocrisy from the "moral values" party is staggering.

13 November 2004

A mainstream America far different from what the emerging conventional wisdom about this election is making it out to be

As Ohio begins its counting of provisional ballots, political pundits across the nation are still inundating us with the triumph of conservative values theme. Rob Robb touts cultural conservatism and conservative NY Times columnist David Brooks bellows on how in touch Rove and Bush are in with the exurbia culture.

However, here is a different take on the matter from a historian

Perhaps most telling is how the election would look if the thirteen states of the solid red South were separated from the overall vote totals. These states represent only 30 percent of the population and 168 of the 538 electors, but they flexed their Bible Belt muscle and voted as a George Bush bloc, giving him a 5.75 million vote margin over John Kerry, with nine of the states going for Bush by at least 15 percentage points. Yet the president's overall margin in the election was 3.5 million votes, which means the rest of the country -- representing 70 percent of the population -- gave Senator Kerry a 2.25 million vote margin and an electoral vote edge of 252 to 118.

Socially conservative white Southerners may be a knotty problem for the Democrats, but despite their power as a voting bloc and ability to impose their political will on the nation, it is they who stand outside America's emerging mainstream. They may call themselves "ordinary Americans" and go regularly to church, but that doesn't mean they're any more ordinary or moral than my e-mail correspondents and the majority of Americans who live in diverse metropolitan areas and subscribe to the national norms of tolerance, inclusion, social equality, and personal freedom. Indeed when it comes to accepting these cultural norms, the white South has for years been behind the rest of America, stubbornly so.

Of course some pundits may argue that the momentum is on the side of these socially conservative Americans, but again the trends say otherwise. In fact the illusion of a growing social conservatism has much to do with the fact that the pre-Baby Boom generation of more traditional Americans are living much longer lives and voting in very large numbers. Once younger voters begin to replace them, the socially conservative vote will dwindle.

This is borne out by survey research conducted in recent years, much of it done by the University of Chicago's well-respected National Opinion Research Center (NORC). According to my cohort analysis of their on-line data, the generation gap in social attitudes is compelling and wide, with older Americans steadfastly conservative and younger Americans the opposite.

8 November 2004

Moral Values Were Key

Plastered all over the mainstream media is the theme of how moral values was the deciding factor in the election.

But consider these factoids:

Here's a more vitriolic take, making many of the same points, albeit in a bit angrier mode.

Or could a case could be made that ignorance played at least as big a role in the election's outcome?

A recent survey by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland found that nearly 70 percent of President Bush's supporters believe the U.S. has come up with "clear evidence" that Saddam Hussein was working closely with Al Qaeda. A third of the president's supporters believe weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. And more than a third believe that a substantial majority of world opinion supported the U.S.-led invasion.

This is scary. How do you make a rational political pitch to people who have put that part of their brain on hold? No wonder Bush won.

The survey, and an accompanying report, showed that there's a fair amount of cluelessness in the ranks of the values crowd. The report said, "It is clear that supporters of the president are more likely to have misperceptions than those who oppose him."

7 November 2004

Florida election was hacked

Florida Democratic U.S. House candidate says the election was hacked and he knows who and how.
In Baker County, for example, with 12,887 registered voters, 69.3% of them Democrats and 24.3% of them Republicans, the vote was only 2,180 for Kerry and 7,738 for Bush, the opposite of what is seen everywhere else in the country where registered Democrats largely voted for Kerry.

In Dixie County, with 9,676 registered voters, 77.5% of them Democrats and a mere 15% registered as Republicans, only 1,959 people voted for Kerry, but 4,433 voted for Bush.

The pattern repeats over and over again - but only in the counties where optical scanners were used. Franklin County, 77.3% registered Democrats, went 58.5% for Bush. Holmes County, 72.7% registered Democrats, went 77.25% for Bush.

Yet in the touch-screen counties, where investigators may have been more vigorously looking for such anomalies, high percentages of registered Democrats generally equaled high percentages of votes for Kerry. (I had earlier reported that county size was a variable – this turns out not to be the case. Just the use of touch-screens versus optical scanners.)

Some charts illustrating voting irregularities. Not absolutely conclusive, but certainly fishy. And we've discovered that Warren County (in Ohio) officials "locked down" its administration building to prevent anybody from observing the vote counting there.

MSNBC Keith Olbermann has chimed in on this course of events, and pledges to pull these stories into the mainstream on Monday.

Thus the majority of the media has yet to touch the other stories of Ohio (the amazing Bush Times Ten voting machine in Gahanna) or the sagas of Ohio South: huge margins for Bush in Florida counties in which registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 2-1, places where the optical scanning of precinct totals seems to have turned results from perfect matches for the pro-Kerry exit poll data, to Bush sweeps.

A summary list of articles and posts on the matter can be found here.


Much ballyhooed is the 51% mandate that now grants President Bush his needed political capital, but I'm still numbed that the race was close at all. Barring any new developments regarding election 2004, this will be my last missive and I shall move on to other matters worthy of writing upon here. And, here is a comprehensive roundup of all the election result data, showing that all the results weren't captured by Republicans – Democrats made gains in state legislatures and had three million more composite votes for U.S. Senate candidates.

In any case, I'm still in disbelief how:

Some post election predictions:
» read more

6 November 2004

Free States vs. Slave States

Lots of Election 2004 maps have been bandied about, but this one is definitely the most disturbing. With the exception of Iowa (which went down to the wire and a definite east/west split is evident) and Indiana (a great KKK bastion in the 1920s), the free states all went for Kerry and the red states and brown states (territories open to slavery) opted for Bush.

Of course, during pre-Civil War times, Democrat and Republican allegiances were reversed, and Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. When Lyndon Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act he remarked that There goes the South for a generation. Well, it's two generations and counting now.

It appears that the cultural and geographical division has remained intact.

5 November 2004

Hard to imagine how one could conclude that this election was clean

As President Bush boasts of his political capital, questions linger on whether this election was a clean one. Over a 1000 reports of electronic voting trouble and perhaps many more escaped detection, considering that there is no audit trail, no verification process of the validity of counting the vote.

In North Carolina, a voting computer irretrievably lost 4,500 votes. They simply vanished into the ether, and cannot be recovered, thus disenfranchising those voters. Did this happen in other places and not get noted? With no audit trail, there can be no recovery. That is a state that must be remedied ASAP.

And the large turnout was an increase over 2000 totals, but not that significant, in terms of percentage. Yet, while most reported no problems with lines and excessive waits in 2000, there were widespread accounts of excessive lines, and polling places that were kept open until the wee hours of the morning. Here's a discussion of Franklin County, Ohio voting. And here is another citizen report from Ohio:

Hundreds of thousands of people were disenfranchised in Ohio. People waited on line for as long as 10 hours. It appears to have only happened in Democratic-leaning precincts, principally (a) precincts where many African Americans lived, and (b) precincts near colleges.

I spoke to a young man who got on line at 11:30 am and voted at 7 pm. When he left at 7 pm, the line was about 150 voters longer than when he'd arrived, which meant those people were going to wait even longer. In fact they waited for as much as 10 hours, and their voting was concluded at about 3 am. The reason this occurred was that they had 1 voting station per 1000 voters, while the adjacent precinct had 1 voting station per 184. Both precincts were within the same county, and managed by the same county board of elections. The difference between them is that the privileged polling place was in a rural, solidly republican, area, while the one with long lines was in the college town of Gambier, OH.

Lines of 4 and 5 hours were the order of the day in many African-American neighborhoods.

Touch screen voting machines in Youngstown OH were registering "George W. Bush" when people pressed "John F. Kerry" ALL DAY LONG. This was reported immediately after the polls opened, and reported over and over again throughout the day, and yet the bogus machines were inexplicably kept in use THROUGHOUT THE DAY.

Countless other frauds occurred, such as postcards advising people of incorrect polling places, registered Democrats not receiving absentee ballots, duly registered young voters being forced to file provisional ballots even though their names and signatures appeared in the voting rolls, longtime active voting registered voters being told they weren't registered, bad faith challenges by Republican "challengers" in Democratic precincts, and on and on and on.

Here is a detailed chart on surprising Florida election results. I'm too tired to make sense of it now, or even if it is indicative of anything.

Again, I'm not concluding that the election was rigged. On the other hand, we cannot definitively say it was not, since there is no way to tell.

But some people say Kerry won….

4 November 2004

The Great Divide

A county by county presidential voter U.S. map breakdown. Rural versus urban appears to be a greater schism than red state/blue state model.
An interesting tidbit: the number of counties that the Democrats or Republicans won by less than 5 percent appears to have decreased from 404 (229 Bush, 175 Gore) in 2000 to 292 (162 Bush, 131 Kerry) in 2004. It isn't clear to me if all counties are included in the 2004 count of close counties, but it appears enough are to raise some questions about increasing polarization. I hope to identify those counties that moved from (or even to) those groups once I get my hands on complete official returns.

Another overlooked, but interesting tidbit about state tax burdens :

I have also found it interesting to compare data on per capita dollar returns from federal taxes (available from the Tax Foundation at with the state-by-state red/blue map. Surprisingly, blue states (considered "liberal") tend to contribute more in federal taxes than they receive in federal largess, whereas the red states (considered to be "conservative" and against big government) tend to receive more from the federal government than they contribute. In other words, via their federal taxes, the folks in blue states like Connecticut and Massachusetts are effectively subsidizing the folks in red states like Alaska and Montana.

3 November 2004

The numbers were nonsensical so we knew there were problems

Values of negative 25 million showing on voting machines, software glitches, and black screens. Among the growing accounts of questionable vote results generated by electronic voting, this story coming from Youngstown, Ohio.
Also, there were 20 to 30 machines that needed to be recalibrated during the voting process because some votes for a candidate were being counted for that candidate's opponent, Munroe said.

There are a variety of reasons for that problem, including static electricity, Munroe said. Munroe said he strongly believes that the calibration issue didn't mark people's votes improperly because when a vote is cast for a candidate, their name is lit up in bright blue and the name comes up as a review of a vote before it is finalized.

About a dozen machines needed to be reset because they essentially froze.

How does Mr. Munroe know for sure? How does anyone know for sure that the vote tallies are accurate, when there is no audit trail for most of these electronic voting machines. Even an ATM prints out a paper receipt and the deposits and withdrawls must balance out to the bank's money.

All night, I heard the election news coverage repeatedly stress how smooth the voting went, and how few problems there were, and how this vindicated the electronic voting machine makers. Again, how would anyone know if anything was astray? What checks and balances are employed to ensure accuracy and integrity? And why is proprietary technology used, hiding the process from the public?

And who can forget the bold statement of Walden O'Dell, CEO of Diebold, a voting machine company, who last year informed fellow Republicans in a fund raising letter that he would do all to help the Bush cause:

I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.

And this presidential election all boiled down to Ohio, which was the deciding factor. is launching a massive freedom of information action act to obtain internal computer logs and other documents from 3,000 individual counties and townships.

I am no luddite by any stretch of the imagination, but black box voting without a full, comprehensive audit trail is just an open invitation for vote fraud. And, even more tragically, there's no way to detect its presence, without suitable validation of the integrity of the process.

A Broad, Nationwide Victory?

While I don't think it's time to head for Canada or explore expatriating, I'm deeply saddened over the election results. I weep for my country.

However, life goes on, and while 51% of you who voted may be gloating jubilantly, the rest of us pray that the damage to be inflicted to our country won't be as impactful as feared. It appears that we're more deeply divided than we were in the 2000 election – urban versus rural, coastal versus heartland, college degree versus high school diploma, etc.… Looking over exit poll results and county breakdowns, it's clear that Bush strongholds strengthened, and Kerry bastions in urban areas tilted further to the Democratic ledger. More people voted than ever, and the new Kerry voters were offset by even greater numbers of new Bush voters.

Some post mortem thoughts on Election 2004:

  • Northeast liberal Democrats cannot win an election anymore in the U.S. electoral landscape - Southern contenders are 3-1-1 (counting Gore as a tie since SCOTUS decided) while Northeast candidates (including Humphrey and Mondale) are 0-5 since 1962. When LBJ signed voting rights act in the 60s he stated that he had just signed away the southern vote for a generation; well, it's two generations now and counting.

  • Referendums against gay marriage - brought out the evangelical vote in force. (In Arizona, the propositon 200 anti-immigrant measure, which passed overwhelmingly despite bipartisan campaigning against, may have been a factor in guaranteeing AZ did not turn blue). But moral values was the biggest factor for folks going to the polls.

  • War – Most, are still in favor of an unjust, illegal invasion of a sovereign nation that threatened the U.S. not, and actually has served the strategic objectives of the enemy. Ditto for the botched campaign against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Folks are content with the spoon fed public relations script by neocon spinners that changes like a chameleon.

  • Rural vote - Democrats really have lost touch with rural voters and the issues that concern them, or at least their core perceptions of what the Democratic platform is, and that it includes them, and hasn't sold them out in interest of minority and urban voters. Kerry going duck hunting just didn't fill the bill.

  • The schism between "reality based" voters and being misnformed, I believe. There's no way that if you study the issues, unless you're a diehard partisan oblivous to fact, that 51% of folks can logically vote for someone who's blundered so much and done great harm to working folks. Maybe this is a media issue (meaning that many don't care to use internet and get most of their info from Rush Limbaugh and/or FoxNews). The local library is a wonderous resource that most never ever set foot into, and instead, fill their mind with sound bites and snippets of campaign propaganda or prattling pundits. Factual studies and surveys have illustrated this succinctly.

  • Celebrity, entertainer backlash - I think celebrities, musicians and actors speaking out is a great hinderance to the progressive cause. They really should take a page out of the Republican playbook and funnel that money into think tanks and other ideological campaigns - Republicans have spent billions of dollars on influential think tanks like AEI, Heritage, Hudson Institute, CATO and it's been effective wedge in moving public opinion and influencing legislative actions, and more importantly framing the debate. Democrats have no equivalent organization - the organizations in support are single issue deals or focused on a small set of policy and are pragmatic based. Again, I think people really don't like Hollywood types telling them what they should believe and do - I don't and I'm in agreement with everything Springsteen said on his stump tour. As it is, it serves to give the Republicans a wedge to affix an elitist, out-of-touch tag on their opponents.

  • Fear factor - I think Republicans played "they're coming to get you" card quite well, or at least to the detriment of Kerry. And the scurrilous, uncredible charges by the partisan Swift Boat Veterans probably resonated with a core of voters.

  • 51% - It doesn't matter that we're split down the middle, net effect is a Republican mandate as Bush in his victory speech, referred to it as a broad, nationwide victory. Congress, Senate, POTUS, and SCOTUS will be all lock in step now. And there will be an extremist, partisan agenda enacted that has grave repercussions for our nation. Disparity between rich and poor will grow, poverty will increase, and I believe we're in store for turbulent times ahead. I really pray I am wrong, but at least they're won't be any "blame the Democrat" excuses while they run the country into the ground. Here's a peek of what may be in store.

My, how we've lapsed in our expectations of government – here is what a another president thought about matters of freedom and justice.

In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression --everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way-- everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants --everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor --anywhere in the wold.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called "new order" of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

To that new order we oppose the greater conception --the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear. Since the beginning of our American history we have been engaged in change, in a perpetual, peaceful revolution, a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly, adjusting itself to changing conditions without the concentration camp or the quicklime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.

This nation has placed its destiny in the hands, heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women, and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose.

To that high concept there can be no end save victory.

I hope the discourse can stay peaceful and non-violent. Free speech and the first amendment are going to important as ever in the coming days.

2 November 2004

Latest Presidential Election Returns by State

Follow along at home on your personal computing machine. Mouseover each state and see the tallies that include Congress and Senate races.

Follow Arizona election results here.