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November 06, 2004

I'M OFF TO MY BROTHER'S: Blogging will resume later.

ALL THE RED STATE / BLUE STATE "VALUES" TALK puts me in mind of this passage from Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, in which he compares and contrasts the two styles:

Weirdly, the ones who adopted the sternest and most terrible Old Testament moral tone were the Modern Language Association types who believed that everything was relative and that, for example, polygamy was as valid as monogamy. The friendliest and most sincere welcome he'd gotten was from Scott, a chemistry professor, and Laura, a pediatrician, who, after knowing Randy and Charlene for many years, had one day divulged to Randy, in strict confidence, that, unbeknownst to the academic community at large they had been spiriting their three children off to church every Sunday morning, and had even had them baptized. . . .

Randy hadn't the faintest idea what these people thought of him and what he had done, but he could sense right away that, essentially, that was not the issue, because even if they thought he had done something evil, they at least had a framework, a sort of procedure manual, for dealing with transgressions. To translate it into UNIX system administration terms (Randy's fundamental metaphor for just about everything), the post-modern, politically correct atheists were like people who had suddenly found themselves in charge of a big and unfathomably complex computer system (viz. society) with no documentation or instructions of any kind, and so whose only way to keep the thing running was to invent and enforce certain rules with a kind of neo-Puritanical rigor, because they were at a loss to deal with any deviations from what they saw as the norm. Where as people who were wired into a church were like UNIX system administrators who, while they might not understand everything, at least had some documentation, some FAQs and How-tos and README files, providing some guidance on what to do when things got out of whack. They were, in other words, capable of displaying adaptability.

Somehow, this seems quite relevant to the discussion.

EUROPEANS, TERRORISM and Theo Van Gogh: The Belgravia Dispatch has some useful observations.

And read this piece on post-Arafat maneuvering, too.

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I'M BLOGGING FROM BORDERS at the moment, and I couldn't help but notice all the Michael Moore films in the discount bin.

Yeah, I know. Probably this has absolutely nothing to do with the election, but . . .

And note all the Jerry Lewis films behind them. Well, they're both big in France!

BUSH OR BUST! I think they should have taken this picture a bit earlier, though.

JIM LINDGREN notes David Brooks' comments about the Scopes Trial in the column I link below, and points out that things aren't as many remember them where that trial is concerned. He's right. For a more -- dare I say it -- nuanced view, I highly recommend Ed Larson's book, Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion. Larson and I were on a Court TV program about this trial a few years ago, though I don't think it's available anywhere.

ECONOPUNDIT: "Great election, kid. Don't get cocky."

A VIEW OF THE ELECTIONS FROM IRAQ, via The Mudville Gazette.

DAVID BROOKS:

Every election year, we in the commentariat come up with a story line to explain the result, and the story line has to have two features. First, it has to be completely wrong. Second, it has to reassure liberals that they are morally superior to the people who just defeated them.

In past years, the story line has involved Angry White Males, or Willie Horton-bashing racists. This year, the official story is that throngs of homophobic, Red America values-voters surged to the polls to put George Bush over the top.

This theory certainly flatters liberals, and it is certainly wrong.

He's got numbers from Andrew Kohut.

HEH: "Post-Election, Hollywood Seen as Liability to Left." Indeed.

HOW YOU COULD HAVE HAD MY VOTE: Another reluctant Bush voter tells the Democratic Party why:

Many Bush voters, like myself, were not happy to be voting for the President's re-election. Many Bush voters agonized over our decision and cast our vote in fear, trepidation, and trembling. Many of us would have given our left arms for a Democrat we could have supported. . . .

Read the whole thing. Especially if you're a bigshot Democrat -- or E.J. Dionne.

November 05, 2004

VAN GOGH UPDATE: Dutch Charge 7 Muslim Men in Killing of a Critic of Islam.

CHRISTMAS IS COMING, and Kim du Toit has noticed that the Violence Policy Center has published a helpful list of guns specially designed for children. Unfortunately, there's no link for ordering them, though after perusing their list and using Google, I'm thinking that the Anschutz 1451 youth model might be good for the Insta-Daughter.

ERIC SCHEIE isn't so sure that reality is what the "reality-based community" has a grip on.

UPDATE: Meanwhile at "reality-based" blog The Daily Kos, reality seems less important than, well, lying:

And thus, the biggest silver lining of this election is how the GOP's victory is thus far being claimed, framed and explained. To that I say, "Let us join that chorus." And we should do so now, because there is immediacy in the post-election window of opportunity.

Marching order #1, therefore, is this: No matter whom you talk to outside our circles, begin to perpetuate the (false, exaggerated) notion that George Bush's victory was built not merely on values issues, but gay marriage specifically. If you feel a need to broaden it slightly, try depicting the GOP as a majority party synonymous with gay-haters, warmongers and country-clubbers. Because I, for one, am tired of hearing whiny complaints from conservatives that, not only do I not have values, but that I fail to properly respect the values of people who are all too happy to buy into, no less perpetuate, inaccurate caricatures of the 54+ million Americans who voted Tuesday for John Kerry.

Criticizing the GOP ain't gonna build us a new national majority. But the process is brick by brick, or perhaps, brickbat by brickbat. We didn't decide the rules of engagement, but that's what they are and so we may as well start firing away.

This doesn't strike me as a very productive approach, but the post is certainly revealing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reality: "Daily Kos raised more than $500,000 to assist the campaigns of fifteen candidates. None were elected." Ouch.

MORE: Further reality-based blogging, here.

INTERESTING COMMENT FROM A RELUCTANT BUSH VOTER over at Roger Simon's place, illustrating some of the things the exit polls left out. Meanwhile, over at Andrew Sullivan's an emailer crunches the numbers on states with anti-gay-marriage initiatives and states without them, and concludes: "On the contrary, there is no evidence that suggests that the strategy of putting the anti-marriage initiatives on the ballot in several states did anything to improve Bush's performance in those states."

Sullivan's posted the numbers, which are quite interesting. This is the kind of analysis we ought to be getting from Big Media.

UPDATE: More here on "Gay Marriage and the Ground Game" from the Ashbrook Center. It's generally consistent with what Sullivan's reader says -- gay marriage didn't make much of a difference.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And here's Paul Freedman in Slate, saying the same thing: "Terrorism, not values, drove Bush's re-election."

These differences hold up at the state level even when each state's past Bush vote is taken into account. When you control for that variable, a 10-point increase in the percentage of voters citing terrorism as the most important problem translates into a 3-point Bush gain. A 10-point increase in morality voters, on the other hand, has no effect. Nor does putting an anti-gay-marriage measure on the ballot. So, if you want to understand why Bush was re-elected, stop obsessing about the morality gap and start looking at the terrorism gap.

I think that's right.

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OLD POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS DON'T REALLY DIE -- they don't even fade away much, apparently, as this 1996 bumper sticker I noticed on campus the other day illustrates.

I'm not sure why this sighting struck me as somehow profound on the day before the election, but it did. A political campaign is an evanescent thing, but its consequences live on . . .

Let's hear it for long-lasting ink.

TORONTO SUN COLUMNIST THANE BURNETT offers advice for angry Kerry supporters wanting to emigrate to Canada:

As Canadians, you'll have to learn to embrace and use all the products and culture of Americans, while publicly bad-mouthing their way of life.

Not much of a stretch, really, for some people.

NEWS FROM FALLUJAH: The Green Side is a blog worth reading.

It looks like things are about to happen there. And Ann Althouse notes a post-election shift in tone at the New York Times.

WATCH FOR DANIEL DREZNER on ABC World News Tonight in a little while.

TIM BLAIR has your post-election news roundup. And don't miss this photo feature!

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE RECIPES IS UP: Just in time for dinner!

HERE'S MORE on the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in by an Arab terrorist. And Dutch blog PeakTalk has more here, and here.

HEH.

LEX GIBSON thinks that Democrats should embrace federalism.

PROF. MIKE RAPPAPORT nominates Chief Justice Michael McConnell.

I'm still standing by my candidate, Eugene Volokh.

UPDATE: Volokh endorses McConnell -- and has a list of other candidates. That's not stopping me, though, anymore than Lileks' coyness about his Senate run . . . .

FELLOW ANNOYING LIBERTARIAN RANDY BARNETT offers some advice to social conservatives.

It's good advice. But hell, the advice I'm giving to the Democrats is good advice, too. Will either group take it?

UPDATE: Related thoughts here, including a triple-violation of "Wolcott's rule." Wolcott has rules?

ANOTHER UPDATE: More advice here:

It only takes a 3% swing to lose the executive.

Bold is good when you have a mandate. But bold must be in programs that are likely to have positive MEASUREABLE results.

Other wise you sow the seeds of your next defeat.

Remember the middle. It is where you win and lose elections.

Indeed.

IT'S NOW 286-252, as Bush has won Iowa. Perspective, from the Boston Globe:

The Democrats' defeat in Iowa reflects a larger problem for them in the Midwest and across the political map.

Along with Wisconsin and Minnesota, Iowa and its seven electoral votes are part of the once-Democratic Upper Midwest that is growing more conservative with each presidential election. Kerry won Minnesota by just 3 percentage points, Wisconsin by a single point.

In addition, Michigan and Pennsylvania went Democratic by 3 percentage points or less and Bush won Ohio despite its economic miseries.

Democrats hope to cultivate the Southwest as a fertile substitute for Midwest losses, but Bush narrowed Democratic advantages among Hispanics in the region.

I just don't think Hollywood, Dan Rather, Mark Halperin, and George Soros provide enough of a base. Rather than rethinking, though, I suspect that the Democrats will deploy the media troops again, in an effort to "Nixon" Bush, and perhaps some of his more prominent supporters -- Arnold Schwarzenegger, perhaps, or some other prominent Republican.

UPDATE: A reader notes that the popular-vote gap has widened, too: 52-47, or 56,783,329 to 52,120,230, for a difference over 4.5 million votes.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Yahoo seems to be updating their site, and the numbers keep changing, so far in Bush's favor. Meanwhile reader Dave Cole sends this email:

On Tuesday, a majority of the American electorate took a look at their party and asked, "Who are these people?" Who are George Soros, Michael Moore, Tim Robbins, Susan Sontag, Teresa Heinz Kerry and all these other self-anointed spokespersons for everything good and true? And what does a party that is dominated by a loose coalition of the coastal intelligentsia, billionaires with too much spare time, the trial lawyers' association, the Hollywood Actors' Guild, rock stars and unionized labor have in common with what's quaintly known as Middle America? The majority's answers were (a) not us; and (b) not a whole lot.

Growing up in Topeka, Kansas (where my dad still lives), and now living in Denver, this is pretty much what my friends and associates are thinking, too. What I'm hearing from the Democrats is that middle America voted on moral values, which I take to be code for "they are a bunch of ignorant, bible thumping sheep". There seems to be a lot of hand wringing over how they could have better conveyed their message to the Midwest, and an arrogance that if they had, Kerry would have won in a landslide. What the Democrats don't understand is that yes, we do understand your message, and we reject it.

I don't think the Democrats are ready to accept that, yet. Related thoughts here:

The Democratic Party--my party--has finally become nothing more than the party of cognitive dissonance. That is why, like Zell Miller and a large fraction of usually Democratic middle America, I backed the other side on this one. . . .

Mainstream media bragged of being able to boost the Dems by 15 percent (do you remember Newsweek saying that?). The "blogosphere" has been crowing that MSM failed to do so (for which the blogs also claim responsibility), but I don't agree. I think the MSM actually succeeded in bringing the Dems a 10 to 15 point boost in the election (and maybe more). Before the media spin machine started systematically slamming Bush 18 months ago, he was favored at around 66% in the polls. 66% minus 15% is...well...the 51% margin Bush was re-elected by. Thing is, even the thinly veiled support of most major media outlets wasn't enough to put Kerry in the White House. The Democratic party has completely, utterly, undeniably marginalized itself. The Dems no longer have a national party. All it takes is one look at the electoral map to illustrate that. The so-called "Purple Map" may make them feel better, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. A party that can only win in the Northeast and Left Coast is not a national party anymore. A party that manages to lose by 3 percent even with a huge boost from blatantly partisan favorable media coverage is on its deathbed politically.

I'm afraid that's right and -- since I'm not a Republican and don't share Karl Rove's ambition to do to the Democrats what Tony Blair has done to the Tories -- I'm not happy about it. But I think "self-marginalized" is about right.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Doh. The first paragraph in the email quoted above is from an editorial in yesterday's Wall St. Journal. That wasn't clear to me from the original email. I'd provide a link, but it's on the pay side.

And William Schneider emails: "That Yahoo map has NY at only 3% reporting, which would account for Bush's "new" lead over Kerry." Using Mozilla, I wasn't getting the popup with state data, but I opened it up in another browser and he's right. Weird. I don't know why Yahoo is so far behind, but this CNN page seems more up to date and shows Bush 3.5 million ahead.

WEB OF INFLUENCE: Daniel Drezner and Henry Farrell have an article in Foreign Policy looking at blogs and foreign affairs.

If that interests you, you might also enjoy The Diplomad, a group-blog by foreign service officers. (Right now there are some interesting observations on how the election is playing within the State Department).

Those who have read Keith Laumer, as I know many InstaPundit readers have, will find the tone familiar, somehow. . . .

NOVELIST ROGER SIMON RESPONDS TO JANE SMILEY'S SCREED on the idiocy of American voters:

The mind of a good fantasist must make those stories vivid. And to do that you have to live in those stories, believe your vision and live it like an actor. Contradictory ideas are to some extent not allowed because they would vitiate the drama, leaving only a lifeless essay.

That means the novelist (myself included) must be something of an hysteric when writing. You are inventing your own private reality. That is what Ms. Smiley has done in her article.

Indeed.

UPDATE: Speaking of fantasy, Smiley has her Civil War history backwards, too:

According to Smiley:

The worst civilian massacre in American history took place in Lawrence, Kan., in 1862—Quantrill's raid. The red forces, known then as the slave-power, pulled 265 unarmed men from their beds on a Sunday morning and slaughtered them in front of their wives and children.

Now, if history hasn't completely reversed itself recently, wasn't William Clarke Quantrill a Confederate raider?

According to PBS, the strongly pro-Union stronghold of Lawrence, Kansas, had 183 (again, social promotion does not help math skills) of their predominately Republican citizenry slaughtered by pro-slavery Democrats. These same Democrats, of course, went on to found the original Ku Klux Klan.

Of course, we are the party revelling in the "ignorance in America" so I guess she didn't think we'd notice her attempts to play fast and loose with the facts...

Truly an embarrassment for Smiley -- and for Slate.

HOWARD KURTZ is reading the post-election tea leaves. And John Ellis has thoughts on why Kerry lost -- and how he could have won.

THIS ARTICLE BY JANE SMILEY in Slate is getting a lot of attention. Jessica Harbour suspects a cruel plot to discredit novelists who talk about politics. (We need a plot for that?) The Belmont Club summarizes it this way: "One of the several ways to parse this argument is to take it on its own terms. In this account, the bulk of Ms. Smiley's enemies consist of a single, undifferentiated mass of red staters with the bestial appetites and intelligence of retarded slugs. . . . As a model of simplification it is unexampled. Nothing could be clearer; nothing more proof against refutation."

I suggest that Ms. Smiley read James Lileks' response to the "undifferentiated mass of red staters" school of argument.

And she should also buy Lileks' new book! But then, so should everyone.

UPDATE: Interesting observation from the comments at The Belmont Club:

If Kerry had won, the war would undoubtedly be repudiated in the press everywhere. But now that Bush has won, it has been decided that he won on other issues like gay marriage and abortion.

Indeed.

I MEANT TO NOTE BOBBY JINDAL'S ELECTION in Louisiana, but forgot in all the other events. But what's most interesting now is the reaction from Indian newspapers:

Bobby Jindal Mirrors the Immigrant Aspiration -- New Kerala

Jindal in Congress, History in Tow -- Hindustan Times

A Coming of Age for Indian Americans -- Economic Times India

There are a lot more along these lines. Meanwhile, although I missed this earlier, Power Line put up a big post on Jindal's election from a U.S. perspective.

ELECTIONS AND THE NEW MEDIA: My TechCentralStation column is up.

November 04, 2004

AUSTIN BAY LOOKS AT THE ELECTIONS AND THE WAR ON TERROR: The elections of 2008, 2012, and 2016, that is. "As for the 2020 campaign—we should have a good feel for the War on Terror in that campaign by 2015 or so."

He continues: "The re-election of George W. Bush bodes well for peace in 2020. A John Kerry victory would have cost us an additional two years of blood, toil, sweat, and tears -—the two years it would take the Kerry Administration to discover that the Bush Administration’s strategy in the War on Terror is the right one."

Read the whole thing. I guess there's still room for Hillary Clinton to become "the most uncompromising wartime president in the history of the United States."

FOOL'S GOLD AND EVANGELICALS: Geitner Simmons notes that Garry Wills is talking through his hat on the election results. ("In other words, he has set aside the very argument he made in his 1990 book — recognizing the long-standing significance of social traditionalists as an obvious aspect of American political life — for the sake of maintaining solidarity with Kerry supporters.") Can't say I'm surprised.

BASEBALL CRANK (hey, he knows statistics!) says that 65% of new voters went for Bush. Interesting.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh emails that it should be "65% of new and switching voters" above. It's late here, I'm about to go to bed, and I'm too tired to check this, but since (1) it's three hours earlier for Eugene; and (2) regardless of the time zone, he's Eugene Volokh and I'm not, he's probably right about that.

I AGREE WITH DANIEL DREZNER: Lots of people are going to be reading Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America.

I haven't read the book, so I don't know if he has the right answer -- from the Amazon blurb I'd say not -- but at least he's asking the right questions.

UPDATE: Or maybe not. I had forgotten -- until reader Angie Schultz reminded me of it -- Josh Chafetz's savage panning of this book in The New York Times.

I WROTE A COLUMN on space warfare a few weeks ago, and now DefenseTech notes that the Pentagon is increasingly worried about satellite vulnerabilities:

Aviation Week quotes a "nightmare" that the country's top military space officer sometimes shares with his colleagues: "A phone call from the White House asking, 'What happened to our satellite? And what are you doing about it?' With few exceptions, today's response will be the same as a former Cincspace [Command-in-Chief of Space Operations] gave the Vice President several years ago: 'We don't know, and there's not much we can do."'

Everyone agrees that the first step to satellite defense is to get some sort of sense of what's happening in orbit. But the job of setting up this "Space Situational Awareness" has been bogged down in the bureaucratic muck.

This is the kind of thing -- important, but with no deadline -- that tends to get insufficient attention until it's too late. I hope it gets more attention.

FELLOW ANNOYING LIBERTARIAN DAVID BERNSTEIN notes that we seem to be popping up everywhere.

NOW, SEE, THIS POST-ELECTION RALLY IN SAN FRANCISCO isn't laying a good foundation for a Democratic comeback.

The Democrats are going to have to distance themselves from stuff like this, if they want to carry swing states.


UPDATE: A reader sends this quote, allegedy from Napoleon: "when your enemy is making a very serious mistake, don't be impolite and disturb him."

Well, yeah, but while I don't feel especially good about that guy with the sign, he's not actually my enemy. And certainly the Democrats overall aren't. I'd much rather see the Democratic Party as a viable and sensible competitor to the Republicans than as a marginalized regional party based around some safe congressional seats in urban areas. And that's where it's headed, I'm afraid, if stuff like this catches on.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Not in the same league as the above, but this Joan Baez minstrel show doesn't bode well.

THE BBC ASKED AMERICANS WHO VOTED FOR BUSH to explain their reasons and it makes for interesting reading.

ADVICE TO FELLOW DEMOCRATS, from The Backseat Philosopher:

Many Democrats think that our patience and understanding are our weakness. "We don't know how to fight like the Republicans," we all told ourselves after Florida 2000. "We have to be more like them: tougher, meaner." "We have to energize our base more."

Actually, no. Our error is that we Democrats actually are far less understanding than we think we are. Our version of understanding the other side is to look at them from a psychological point of view while being completely unwilling to take their arguments seriously. "Well, he can't help himself, he's a right-wing religious zealot, so of course he's going to think like that." "Republicans who never served in war are hypocrites to send young men to die. " "Republicans are homophobes, probably because they can't deal with their secret desires." Anything but actually listening and responding to the arguments being made.

And when I say 'responding,' I don't just mean 'coming up with the best counterargument and pushing it.' Sometimes responding to an argument means finding the merit in it and possibly changing one's position. That is part of growth, right?

Read the whole thing, which is quite perceptive.

BOIFROMTROY HAS MULTIPLE POSTS ON "MORAL VALUES" and exit polling. I have to confess that this bit is my favorite: "me and my gay husband will NEVER get an abortion!" One of his commenters has an important observation, too:

I suspect IF the MSM asked what people meant when they answered "moral values", it was more than just gay marriage. It wouldn't supprise me if they includes "moral" in the sense of personal and public integrity....knowing where one stood.

He also has more on exit polling here, and Dianne Feinstein's spitting match with gay groups.

I DON'T LIKE TO SEE DEMOCRATS HOPING FOR DEFEAT IN IRAQ, or, in the case of Richard Cohen, observing that "From a Democratic perspective, what this country needs is a good recession."

Call me crazy, but this isn't the way to win elections. It's the way to look like angry, bitter losers.

UPDATE: On rereading Cohen's column, I think that my quote isn't quite fair -- though he means it, there's a lot more there than bitter wishes for doom, including some good advice for Democrats.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Not so with Seymour Hersh, though. Check out his comments in this WP live chat: "the reality is that far too many americans are not interested in the facts, or in reality. not a new concept, tho."

No bitterness here.

READER CHRIS WREN EMAILS:

There were a few things that convinced me that yes, there really is such a thing as the monolithic Main Stream Media, and that they really are biased to the point of unprofessionalism: Dan Rather's petulant rant blaming bloggers for exit poll confusion, the haste which the networks and major media outlets leapt at calling the election for Kerry, and finally that whole thing Drudge is posting right now with the CNN Bush images labelled a**hole.jpeg and moron.jpg.

On the whole, I have to concede that the blogosphere conducted itself with far greater professionalism and integrity than the media giants.

Yes, I had seen the photo story earlier on Wizbang. And, yes, it does raise the question: If they're willing to do something this petty and spiteful where they think no one will notice, what other things are they doing where they think no one will notice?

UPDATE: I received this statement in the mail from Turner:

"A web image and text disparaging President and Mrs. Bush currently circulating on the internet was not created, disseminated or posted by CNN at any time, as is alleged. It was done by an employee of Netscape and posted on Netscape.com. CNN had no knowledge of it until it surfaced on other websites."

The dangers of co-branding, I guess.

ANOTHER UPDATE: You can see a more complete statement on CNN's homepage -- click the "Netscape responsible for Bush photo insult" link at the top right. But since that's a java box and can't be directly linked, and probably won't be archived anywhere, I'm going to reproduce the full thing in the "extended entry" area below. Hit "read more" to read it.

Read More ?


OVER AT GLENNREYNOLDS.COM, I've been posting advice for the Democrats. Here's yesterday's post, and here's today's post, which comments on the angry "Americans are dumb" remarks by some disappointed Kerry supporters.

THE BIG-MEDIA SPIN is that "Bloggers are to blame" for the leak of early exit-poll info. Hmm. Conspiracy theories aside, why blame the bloggers instead of the network folks who did the actual, you know, leaking?

If bloggers (is Drudge a blogger?) are to blame for publishing leaked information from news organizations, then why aren't news organizations equally to blame when they publish leaked information from government officials? Do they really want to go down that path?

RADLEY BALKO is Fisking David Frum over a nannyish plan to tax fattening food. I'm with Balko, here: "What's most troubling about Frum's position is not only that he assumes a top-down government tax remedy to a perceived social problem will work, but that it's okay in principle. Desirable even."

UPDATE: Dollars to, er, donuts that if a plan like Frum's went through it would tax HoHos and Big Macs but not stuff like this.

BUSH'S PRESS CONFERENCE is already producing sniping from the right: "And he calls himself a conservative." I must say, I'm troubled by the omission, too. Look for a New York Times story by Adam Nagourney on how Bush's coalition is already fracturing. . . .

BILL STUNTZ LOOKS AT THE ELECTORAL MAPS and observes:

Democrats aren't likely to win when they can't top Dukakis in the Midwest. And this is a moving target. Bush won Missouri in 2000; this time, he won Missouri and Iowa. With similar candidates in 2008, the Republicans might win all four. Ohio could be the least of the Democrats' problems.

Still, the news is not all bad for Democrats, and not all good for Republicans. By historical standards John Kerry ran a very strong race, and George W. Bush was a shaky incumbent. Bill Clinton would probably have won this election by five or six points. Just as John McCain would have beaten Kerry in a landslide.

Which leads to a piece of conventional wisdom that's actually pretty wise: America divides into red and blue because those are the colors the parties give us. Perhaps both sides need to see that the smart move is to paint with a different color. Purple beats red or blue, every time. In 2008, when Rudy Giuliani faces off against Barack Obama, those maps will look very different.

Now that would be an election!

THE "HOWARD STERN EFFECT" -- I'm not vouching for his math, but Frank says that there was one!

ARAFAT IS REPORTEDLY DEAD, though a Palestinian official denies it.

PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW WHAT I THINK ABOUT 2008 ALREADY: Give me a break. But here goes, just to stop the emails:

Dems: Everybody expects Hillary to run. I think the nomination is probably hers if she wants it -- if Edwards can beat her in the primaries I'd be surprised. But he'll try. Will Kerry run again? I think the close election and his nicely done concession speech keep that option open. What he'll have to do, if he wants to, is to take on some serious high-profile national security stuff and look strong doing it. I'm guessing he'll choose windsurfing instead, but I could be wrong.

Repubs: McCain is obvious, but his biggest base of support is in the press. I don't think he'll run. Cheney won't run, in fact I doubt he'll finish the term. My favorite scenario: Cheney steps down, Condi Rice becomes VP, and runs in 2008. Long-shot, but I'll keep pumping it. Beyond that, well, I'm not sure. Arnold would win in 2008, I think, but he can't run and I don't think that they'll amend the constitution for him.

By the way, if we're amending things we should make Senators ineligible for the Presidency. They seldom win anyway, so it's no loss -- and keeping Senators from thinking about running for President would probably improve the Senate immeasurably . . . .

ASHCROFT TO RESIGN? Hope it's not because I keep blaming him for stuff.

BILL BENNETT thinks that Bush's victory was all about traditional values, which to him apparently means opposition to gay marriage. Well, to me, the election was about the war. But if victory has a thousand fathers, it also produces a thousand people with their hands out, wanting to share in the spoils.

What's funny is that there's a weird alliance, here, with many others -- including Andrew Sullivan -- quoting the exit polls to suggest that opposition to gay marriage was the big motivator for Bush voters. And hey, maybe they're right: when Andrew Sullivan and Bill Bennett agree on something gay-related, it's certainly reason to sit up and take notice.

But given that the exit polls weren't especially reliable -- Jeff Jarvis calls them "laughably discredited" -- I'm not sure why we should be accepting this point so uncritically. Nor am I sure that Andrew's invocation of Jim Baker makes quite the point he intends. . . . Meanwhile, Virginia Postrel writes:

Nationally, gay marriage is a loser, but civil unions are a big winner, with 35 percent support (and 32 percent in the South). Assume that the 25 percent who back marriage rights (17 percent in the South), and you've got a clear majority (and a slim lead even in the South, where Bush won 32 percent of gay voters). The public is squeamish about "gay marriage," but not about giving gay couples public recognition and legal rights.

So even if you believe the polls, they don't make quite the case for anti-gay sentiment that Bill Bennett hopes for, or Andrew Sullivan fears. And if Bush is getting 32 percent of gay voters in the South, well, it's hard for me to believe that the election was about gay-bashing -- and I doubt that those, on the left or the right, who stake their political plans on that characterization will flourish.

UPDATE: Zach Barbera emails: "Bush took a majority of the people who support civil unions. Not exactly a group hat would be a part of the toss-the-gays-in-concentration-camps right-wingers, I imagine. And note that a 1/3 of the folks supporting a no legal recognition did vote Kerry."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Stephen Bainbridge has a different take -- I guess I count as one of his "annoying libertarians" who don't get the moral-values argument. I'm afraid he'll continue to find me annoying on this front.

MORE: Andrew Coyne isn't buying the "invasion of the theo-cons" argument, and also notes: "This, after Kerry campaigned from the pulpit in black churches on five straight Sundays."

Everybody knows that's different. Those are black churches.

STILL MORE: Fellow annoying libertarian Eugene Volokh has related thoughts.

THE EUGENE VOLOKH SUPREME COURT JUGGERNAUT has started to roll!

ADAM NAGOURNEY IS BUSTED for Kerry-speech revisionism, by Greg Djerejian.

JAMES LILEKS HAS A NEW BOOK OUT: Do you need to know any more?

JONAH GOLDBERG: "I've got to say that when people try to convert lions to Christianity (or Buddhism, Taoism, whatever) and then they get bit, it's a sign to me that the universe is humming along properly." Bill Bennett, take note. . . .

HITTING THE NAIL ON THE HEAD:

Who was the biggest loser of the 2004 election? It is easy to say Mr. Kerry: he was a poor candidate with a poor campaign. But I do think the biggest loser was the mainstream media, the famous MSM, the initials that became popular in this election cycle. Every time the big networks and big broadsheet national newspapers tried to pull off a bit of pro-liberal mischief--CBS and the fabricated Bush National Guard documents, the New York Times and bombgate, CBS's "60 Minutes" attempting to coordinate the breaking of bombgate on the Sunday before the election--the yeomen of the blogosphere and AM radio and the Internet took them down. It was to me a great historical development in the history of politics in America. It was Agincourt. It was the yeomen of King Harry taking down the French aristocracy with new technology and rough guts. God bless the pajama-clad yeomen of America. Some day, when America is hit again, and lines go down, and media are hard to get, these bloggers and site runners and independent Internetters of all sorts will find a way to file, and get their word out, and it will be part of the saving of our country.

I think that the Big Media folks know it, too.

And I wonder how Jonathan Klein feels about his infamous "pajamas" remark now?

BUSH'S VICTORY is not playing well some places:

When it became clear that the American voters wanted none of that, the chattering classes in Europe were left speechless. One Paris TV anchor was literally struck dumb mometarily when, after hours of crowing over Kerry's victory and the American people's supposed liberation from Bushist tyranny, he had to admit that things had gone differently.

The shock felt in Europe was even greater because of the size of Bush's victory. The president won more votes than any candidate in the entire history of America. Dubya also became the first to win the presidency with a majority of the popular vote, since his father in 1988.

People like French President Jacques Chirac, whose party has won just 16 per cent of the votes in a series of recent elections, or German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose party has lost every election in the past two years, would look with envy at the clean sweep made by Bush and his Republican Party on Tuesday.

I guess they're starting to figure out the truth, now. . . .

Meanwhile, Arthur Chrenkoff has more on the diplomatic consequences of the Bush reelection.

FOLLOWING UP MY POST BELOW on media reactions, here's a link to the NPR All Things Considered segment featuring E.J. Dionne's astonishing anti-Bush tirade. And here's video of Dan Rather's attack on bloggers.

IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT THE ELECTIONS! Check out this week's Blog Mela for a roundup of posts from the Indian blogosphere.

November 03, 2004

WELL, A LOT OF CONVENTIONAL WISDOM has tumbled: the incumbent rule, the "taller person wins" rule (to my great personal sadness), the predictive validity of the final Redskins game before the election, the exit polls, and all the other "infallible" indicators which showed Kerry going by a landslide.

What can we take out of this? Well, some of the conventional wisdom -- like how the incumbent always wins if the economy is doing okay -- has held up. Until next time, anyway.

I think the big story of this election was distributed information. That starts with blogs, of course. Bloggers were able to skewer some of the SwiftVet stories, blow up Dan Rather's big "scoop", and in other ways bring thousands of fresh eyes and fresh analysis to important issues that might otherwise have lain fallow. The media is a bubble world; we all mostly live in the same places and talk to the same people. The mainstream media has many advantages over blogs: resources, experience, editing, time to pursue a story, rigorous fact checking (no, really, I mean it), accountability. But it's invaluable to have bloggers around to burst that bubble when needed.

But it sure doesn't end with bloggers. I'm probably happier about the performance of the election betting markets than I am about the performance of George Bush in this election, because they vindicated a long held belief of mine: that if you take a bunch of people, and make them put their money where their mouth is, they generally get the right answer. Oh, there was a wild ride when the exit polls started showing up, but if you look at the electronic markets the day before the election, they called it better than the pundits -- certainly better than yours truly, who had been expecting a Kerry win for months. (This is the first time I've voted for a presidential candiate who actually, y'know, became president. It's a rather heady feeling.)

Finally it was a victory for public opinion, and not because the public voted the way I did. America's a pretty neat place, and it's been taking care of itself since long before I was alive.

I'm talking about Americans' assessment of who would win. The polls had a hard time pinning down their eventual votes, but when the pollsters asked people who they thought would win the election, they called it correctly by an overwhelming majority. Each of the people asked was their own little pollster of family and friends; collectively, they were an information processing powerhouse. So really, what we should take away from this is that we shouldn't trust the pollsters or the commentariat; we should trust ourselves. While those of us in the pundit biz were see-sawing with every poll, your friends and neighbours knew the answer all along.

It's been an amazing experience blogging here for all of you, especially with three such outstanding co-bloggers. I hope a few of you will drop in at my blog, Asymmetrical Information, and keep sending me emails and leaving me comments, because I've enjoyed your attention immensely. Thanks to all the Instapundit readers, to Michael and Ann, and most of all, to Glenn, for inviting me to spend a week here. I'll miss you all.

WHY KERRY LOST: It may be presumptuous to say John Kerry lost the election for the reasons I personally voted against him. But I’ve decided to say it anyway.

I didn’t vote for George W. Bush in 2000. I’ve never voted for any Republican president. This time was my first. And I did so because of the Terror War.

I know quite a few people who didn’t support Bush last time but did support him this time. And every single one of them did so for the same reasons I did. Because of the Terror War. Because Kerry could not be trusted.

I don’t know of anyone, anywhere, who swung from Al Gore to George W. Bush because of gay marriage, tax cuts, or for any other reason. I’m not saying they don’t exist. But if they do exist, I haven’t heard of ’em. They’re an invisible, miniscule minority.

There aren’t enough of us liberal hawks, disgruntled Democrats, neo-neoconservatives - or whatever else you might want to call us - to trigger a political realignment. But it does appear we can swing an election. At least we can help. And though I don’t think of myself as conservative (I did just vote for a Democratic Congress), my alienation from the liberal party is total. A political party that thinks crying Halliburton! is a grown-up response to anti-totalitarian war just isn’t serious.

I may vote for the Democratic candidate next time around. Then again, I might not. I’ll be watching what happens over the next four years, trying to decide if I’m part of the new wave of neoconservatives or if I’m just Independent.

This is my last post on Instapundit - for now anyway. You are all invited to join me on my own blog, Michaeltotten.com, where I’ll keep an eye on the next four years of history.

Thanks, Glenn - thanks so much - for letting me, Megan, and Ann play on your lawn.

HOW CAN BUSH DEMONSTRATE MODERATION? What better way than to nominate Eugene Volokh for the next Supreme Court vacancy? (Thanks to reader Mike McConnell for the suggestion).

BILL OF RIGHTS UPDATE: Dave Kopel says it was a good election for the Second Amendment.

TIME TO GO BACK HOME, to my home blog, Althouse. It's been fun coming over here and cavorting on the big stage that Glenn Reynolds built out of sheer good sense and great writing. It's been great blogging alongside Michael Totten and Megan McCardle. And it's been a real pleasure to reach so many new readers here. I hope some of you will follow me over to my usual place. I started my blog back in January of this year, when this campaign season was already well under way. My departure from Instapundit and return back home begins a new phase of blogging without the election to kick around anymore, and I'm interested to see what new subjects I'll discover with this old topic gone.

When I started my blog I didn't have a particular topic in mind. I just wanted to express myself. I wanted to live freely in writing. My earliest posts are about high and low culture and life in Madison, Wisconsin. My first post about the presidential campaign was a very silly little thing about Wesley Clark's body fat, not really even political at all. But as the weeks wore on, I got drawn into the fray, and I found my ways to talk about politics, a subject I've normally been content to leave to others. Using my blog to talk about politics, I was able also to see how not talking about politics had been, for me, a way to get along in the hothouse environment that is Madison, Wisconsin. Even though I didn't mean to use my blog to talk about politics, I end this political season exposed on line as a person with political positions that do not fit in my real world environment. I was happy with the way the election turned out, but I was also confronted by people all around me who were very sad and really angry about the outcome. These people had endured the first term of George Bush's presidency, beginning with outrage at the way he came into office and suffering a growing, festering anger as new events unfolded. That horrible – illegal! – war in Iraq! Yet there was always Election Day -- an end in sight for all of that pain. And now, upon reaching that longed-for end they find it was a mirage. There will be four more years! How unendurable!

I've tried to use my last day on Instapundit to reach out to those people, those people who, after all, make up my real world environment. Can't we put aside the anger and see what we share? An elevator conversation:

Did you hear Kerry's concession speech?

I'm so glad he conceded today and did not drag it out. It was good of him.

You think so?

I think it will help people deal with things in a constructive, positive way. People have been so angry, and I think it will help heal the wounds …

Except that it won't heal the wounds! George Bush got reelected by a bunch of gay-hating bigots, religious fanatics … a bunch of gun owners


My interlocutor got out of the elevator and the doors slid closed in the middle of the list of lowdown, worthless folk from the hinterlands who have unleashed this new atrocity, this second term.

So life goes on in Madison. And I'll go on blogging from Madison, my special, passionate little town, on my little blog, Althouse. Please come over and keep me company.

MORE WORDS OF WISDOM ON ELECTIONS from economist Steve Lansburg:

. . . if you really believe in democracy, and if the election is close, then it doesn't much matter who wins. The theory of democracy (stripped down to bare essentials, and omitting all sorts of caveats that I could list but won't) is that the guy who gets more votes is the better guy. Surely, then, it follows that the guy who gets only slightly more votes is only the slightly better guy. And if one guy's only slightly better than the other, then a miscount is no great tragedy.

You might have a strong preference for one candidate over the other, but if you have an overriding preference for democracy ("Let the majority rule, even when I'm in the minority"), then you can stop worrying about miscounts. Surely there's not much difference between a world where Bush gets 3 more votes than Kerry and a world where Kerry gets 3 more votes than Bush. If Bush is the rightful president in one of those worlds, he's got to be darn close to rightful in the other.


Just something to consider.

THIS MAY BE the real lesson of the election.

UPDATE: Heh.

SOME REALITY-BASED BLOGGING for Democrats.

THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WINNERS is to be responsible for their vote. Now that Bush has won, to my frank surprise, I've been denied the pleasure of being in opposition, which is to say the pleasure of disclaiming responsibility for any stunts the president may get up to in the next four years.

What's more, those of us who voted for Bush, warts and all, haven't even the excuse that Kerry voters would have, which is to say declaring they had no idea he'd do that. Bush voters walked into his next term with eyes wide open. Even if we voted not so much for Bush as against Kerry, we still have to be willing to accept that if he screws up, we put him in a position to do so knowing exactly what he was like.

That gives us, I think, a special responsibility not to gloss over his policy flaws, but rather to hold him to account as much as possible, to make sure that we can be proud of our choice. That means getting on the phone to the white house, congressmen and senators to block bad legislation. That means being honest about his mistakes, rather than trying to gloss over them in order to make ourselves look better. It means, in short, thinking about what's best for the country, rather than What's Best for The Team.

That's the responsibility of anyone who voted for the guy in office, whether he's a Democrat or a Republican. It's the responsibility of the people who voted against him, too, but they generally don't need reminding. We've put all our eggs in one basket, guys--so in the words of Mark Twain, let's watch that basket.

DON'T PACK YET: Disgruntled? Want to hide from the red staters in the Great White North? Canada says no.

A DEMOCRATIC FRIEND OF MINE JUST GOT A PHONE CALL from a Republican she doesn't speak to that often, allegedly to "say hi" but transparently to gloat. This is my plea to Bush voters to give peace a chance. If we have any chance of ending the sniping and bitterness that characterise the current political scene, it's going to start with Republicans being gracious winners. If you have to indulge your schadenfreude, do it silently by lurking on Democratic websites and reading hair-tearing left-wing editorials, not by alienating people with whom we'd like to eventually build a better America.

BITTER, ANGRY LOSERS: No, not the Democrats, but the real losers in this election -- the Old Media, still angry that they couldn't deliver their fifteen percent. I just heard E.J. Dionne on All Things Considered (audio not posted yet) delivering himself of an astonishing amount of anti-Bush venom. Dan Rather was reportedly dissing bloggers last night. And, of course, there are the rather churlish remarks of ABC's Mark Halperin, declaring Bush a "lame duck" before his first term has even ended.

They know who the big losers were in this election. And we're not talking Kerry/Edwards.

UPDATE: Well, at least it's not James Wolcott's "Good, Go Ahead, America, Choke on Your Own Vomit, You Deserve to Die." I think that needs more tweaking, but I guess we should just be glad he's not calling down killer hurricanes again.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Frank J.'s response to Halperin's "lame duck" remark:

I think it's safe now to admit that Bush stole the first election and served illegitimately. Thus he was elected for the first time for real yesterday. So, can Bush now run for real reelection in 2008?

Hmm. Based on what I've heard from Michael Moore about the 2000 election, I think Frank's onto something. . . .

REPEAL JANE’S LAW: My esteemed temporary Insta-colleague Megan McArdle goes by the handle “Jane Galt” on her blog. I first discovered her when she coined Jane’s Law.

Jane's Law: The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane.
Now that we have a fresh start, of sorts, can we try to prove her wrong? She’s been right for as long as I’ve been paying attention to politics. But all things must someday come to an end.

PREDICTIONS FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS I don't have many at this point, but try this one on for size: Republicans in New York and California will follow the lead of Democrats in Colorado, and propose initiatives to split the states' electoral votes.

In the case of New York, California, and Texas, that would actually be good for the states, since each could easily put as many votes in play as any medium-sized battleground sate. It would attract a lot more attention their way. I don't expect such a measure to pass in any of the three, but I imagine the Republicans will give it the old college try anyway.

TERRORIST DEATHWATCH: Yasser Arafat's downward spiral continues.

I SEE SOMETHING VERY HEALTHY ON THE LEFT-WING BLOGS: commenters who are looking at themselves, rather than blaming Karl Rove, the supreme court, or [cough] conservative media bias for their loss. The most destructive trend of the last four years has been the left's resort to ever-more-tenuous conspiracy theories to explain their political failures.

This is certainly not a unique vice of the left. Libertarians have it in spades. I've sat through aproximately 8 zillion heated conversations about how the reason libertarians don't have more power is that the electoral system is stacked against us, when it's crystal clear to me that the reason we don't have more power is that a clear majority of Americans don't agree with us. They like middle-class entitlements, drug laws, mortgage tax deductions, farm subsidies, and most of the rest of it. If we want to see our programmes enacted, it won't help us to change the system (proportional representation is the usual magic bullet of choice for libertarians) if we don't first change America -- at which point we won't need to change the system.

Though of course I'm not exactly rooting for it to happen, I firmly believe that the left can stage a convincing political comeback, if they'll stop looking for a scapegoat and start looking for some new ideas. I think we may be witnessing the beginning of that change.

EXIT POLLS A number of people have emailed to point out that the samples in individual precincts are small. That's true, but the overall sample is large, and it went awry on every level: in each state and in the national vote. Sure, it was a close race, but as far as I can tell, the errors all ran one way: towards Kerry. Rumour has it that the reason the networks were so slow to call the Carolinas is that the exit polls showed them going for Kerry, a nonsense result in light of the result, and even in light of previous polling.

Perhaps people were ashamed to tell exit pollsters they'd voted for Bush; I would have been leery of doing so in my polling place, which resembled a Kerry campaign rally. Or perhaps there's some sort of systematic bias in the results, starting with the abnormal number of women sampled: are women more likely to respond? Did the exit polls oversample former swing districts, when increased turnout in "lock" districts seemed to be the key to the race? I don't know, but I hope someone's finding out.

EUGENE VOLOKH notes that "the 51-48 popular vote margin, while far from a blowout, is larger than the 1976 Carter-Ford margin, or the 1968 Nixon-Humphrey margin, plus of course the famously close 1960 and 2000 margins."

LEFT-WING BLOGOSPHERE REACTIONS: John Kerry’s side of the blogosphere offers a diverse range of views of Bush’s victory.

Marc Cooper: Could there possibly have been an incumbent more easy to knock-off than George W. Bush? A real-life opposition party would have been insulted to be matched with a such an unworthy and frail rival. The Democrats, by contrast, got their lights punched out.

Tbogg: I look at the big map and all of the red in flyover country and I feel like I've been locked in a room with the slow learners.

Andrew Northrup: The national Democratic Party needs to shift to the right, culturally, in order to compete nationally. No choice. Wah wah wah, I'm going to go vote for Nader, wah wah. You should have voted this time.

Jeff Jarvis: Good for you, Kerry, for conceding. Thank you.

Daily Kos: [I]t's clear the Democratic Party as currently constituted is on its deathbed. It needs reforms, and it needs them now. Quite frankly, the status quo simply won't cut it. Howard Dean for DNC Chair.

Oliver Willis: We're telling the world that we endorse the last four years, and give thumbs up to more evil. Sick.

Ezra Klein: I, like most of us, fell for the echo chamber. Daily Kos, MyDD, Steve Soto, Pandagon, and all the other blogs are run by good people with positive intentions, but if they're you're primary source for information, you're outlook is perverted by an overwhelming amount of good news and a general disdain for the factual accuracy of bad news. It perverts your perspective and, because the sample group is so totally different than most of America, it begins to twist your political predictions and assumptions of what works…

Kevin Drum: MOST IMPORTANT EVENT....RECONSIDERED… I'll plump for the Massachusett's Supreme Court's decision to legalize gay marriage. The result was nearly a dozen initiatives across the country to ban gay marriage and a perfect wedge issue for Republicans. For the second election in a row, it looks like the president was chosen by the courts.

Matthew Yglesias: With a majority of the popular vote and expanded margins in the House and Senate, we're going to see Bush Unleashed -- something that will probably be much crazier than what we've seen over the past four years.

Andrew Sullivan: George W. Bush is our president. He deserves a fresh start, a chance to prove himself again, and the constructive criticism of those of us who decided to back his opponent.

DID ANYONE ELSE NOTICE Dick Cheney claiming a "mandate" for Bush? That undoubtedly set off a lot of bells in liberal heads.

I too am worried about what Matthew Yglesias calls "Bush Unleashed", at least so far as spending and social legislation goes. Democratic hopes that Bush would somehow be compelled to govern like a Democrat, for no clear reason that I can see, were always destined to be dashed, but the pickups in the house and Senate mean he'll have a freer hand than I was expecting when I endorsed him.

On the other hand, there's that gaping deficit, which will limit his freedom of action considerably, and entitlement reform is looming overhead. I think the biggest place where he'll try to claim that "mandate" will be the supreme court, and I think he'll probably succeed -- the Democratic filibusters seem to me to be a successful tactic only because 99% of the public is unaware of them, which wouldn't be true if it were a supreme court justice. Moreover, there's likely to be severe illness on the court, with all the over-80 justices, and that may well mean a vacancy which will put heavy pressure on the Dems to pass whomever the president nominates. I'd guess Bush gets to put in at least two justices who are fairly conservative.

NICE BUSH SPEECH, TOO: I hope the conciliatory mood lasts. I listened on NPR, and was happy to hear the NPR folks saying that Bush's popular vote majority erased any concerns about legitimacy from 2000.

UPDATE: I guess the conciliatory mood hasn't reached the rest of the media, where ABC's Mark Halperin has just called Bush a "lame duck." Dude, at least wait until the first term has expired, okay?

CATCH UP: Marcus Cicero says the Democrats need to own the war, for their good as well as for ours. And before they can do that they need to “get their heads out of the pot smoke of the Sixties and get serious.”

NICE KERRY LINE: "In American elections there are no losers, because whether or not our candidates win or lose, the next morning we wake up as Americans."

UPDATE: Very nice speech.

I'M WATCHING EDWARDS INTRODUCE KERRY, and he looks like he's running in 2008.

WELCOME TO THE 2008 CAMPAIGN Trad sports is already looking ahead to 2008, for those who can't wait for the mayhem to begin. Meanwhile, Coyote Blog points out that 2008 will be the first election in more than fifty years in which neither candidate is an incumbent president or VP.

EXIT POLLS: So why were the exit polls wrong? Here’s a guess. Perhaps most of them were conducted in cities, not small towns and rural areas, skewing the results toward Kerry. Urban voters are more likely to be Democrats, after all. This is just a guess, though. As far as I know, media outlets haven't published their exit poll methodologies.

MICHELE CATALANO offers words of comfort.

KEVIN DRUM: "[S]crew the youth vote. That sure didn't work out well, did it?"

The "youth vote" has never been enough to put a candidate over the top, has it? Not that I can recall. Josh Marshall has a take that's similar to Kevin's, if less pungent: "the much-ballyhooed youth vote simply did not show up."

I AGREE WITH ANN: Congratulations to Senator Kerry for doing the right thing, particularly as I imagine he was facing pressure from some diehards to stretch things out.

KERRY HAS CALLED BUSH TO CONCEDE REPORT AP AND CNN. Good man! Thanks.

UPDATE: From the AP report:

Kerry told Bush the country was too divided, the source said, and Bush agreed. "We really have to do something about it," Kerry said according to the Democratic official.

Again, thank you, Senator Kerry.

MICKEY KAUS: "Let the vicious backbiting begin."

THE WASHINGTON BLADE:

Perhaps the most surprising news for gay observers of the presidential election is that exit polls show President Bush received the exact same percentage of gay votes — 23 percent — as he did four years ago. This despite the president's vocal support for a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marraige.

Interesting.

"END THE OCCUPATION OF IRAQ." So reads a large chalking on Bascom Hill, visible from my UW Law School window. I've often wondered at the lack of peace rallies in Madison, Wisconsin. If Iraq is like Vietnam to a lot of people, why haven't we seen anti-war demonstrations? Well, somebody is trying to get one going today at 1 p.m. in Library Mall. Presumably, it's an attempt to channel the energy left over from the Kerry defeat in the presidential election. I'll stop by the rally and report back later.

UPDATE: That's 1 p.m. on Saturday, so I'll have to get back to you later than I'd thought. Sorry. I hope I haven't been misunderstanding things all day. I did not get enough sleep. Did you?

RODGER MORROW: "First President Bush was misunderestimated.

Now he has been unredefeated."

WILLIAM SALETAN:

George W. Bush is going to win re-election. Yeah, the lawyers will haggle about Ohio. But this time, Democrats don't have the popular vote on their side. Bush does.

He also offers advice to the Democrats for next time. Kerry, it seems was too nuanced:

Bush is a very simple man. You may think that makes him a bad president, as I do, but lots of people don't—and there are more of them than there are of us. If you don't believe me, take a look at those numbers on your TV screen. . . .

Bush ended his sentences when you expected him to say more; Kerry went on and on, adding one prepositional phrase after another, until nobody could remember what he was talking about. Now Bush has two big states that mean everything, and Kerry has a bunch of little ones that add up to nothing.

Saletan's halfway there, I'd say. There's a bit of condescension here, but I do think he's right that Edwards would have been a stronger candidate this time, and would run well in 2008. If, that is, he avoids being tarred as a sore loser this time around.

MY GUARDIAN COLUMN on the election is up -- though their subtitle rather misses the point.

UPDATE: Ah, they've fixed it now.

MEDIA BIAS IN CALLING THE STATES? Generic Confusion notes: "All close Kerry states are listed as Kerry pickups. All close Bush states are listed as undecided."

Yes, why is Wisconsin called for Kerry already? Only 99.3% of the vote is in with 1,466,963 (49.3%) for Bush and 1,480,256 (49.8%) for Kerry. I did notice on TV this morning that Fox hadn't called Wisconsin yet. The NYT also hasn't called Wisconsin. There is a .5 percentage point difference in Wisconsin with .7% of the vote still to count. In Ohio, which is getting so much attention, the percent counted is listed as 100 and Bush has 51.0% over Kerry's 48.5%. That's a 2.5% point lead. How can anyone call Wisconsin before Ohio and expect to escape charges of bias?

UPDATE: An emailer offers this justification for calling Wisconsin and not Ohio:

I would suggest 16,000 votes in Wisconsin is a big margin. Wisconsin differs from Ohio in two major respects -- it has a long history of running clean and relatively undisputed elections, with a pretty strong non-partisan tint to them (meaning, the people in the municipal government trenches actually running the thing). We've had little of the election-day disputes that have marred states like Florida (Ohio isn't notorious in this respect, but it does have a lot of big- and medium-sized cities ((Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Youngstown, Akron-Canton)) where election-day activity is controlled by strong party/organizational/union/mafia elements. We don't have much of that here (some in Milwaukee, probably more so in Kenosha).

Secondly, Ohio has provisional ballots, with lots of time (relatively speaking) after the election allocated to count them. Now, I don't think the provisional ballots will make the difference in Ohio, but there are still a lot of uncounted ballots out there, which is what the Kerry folks are hanging on to. No so here in Wisconsin -- your ballot (provisional or otherwise) is in by the end of the day Tuesday, or it's not counted. Wisconsin is very lenient regarding voter registration, relative to other states, but very tight about provisional ballots.

Thirdly, Kerry's margin here is roughly three times Gore's margin in '00, when he won by 5,700 votes. And that produced no recount; see this (particularly the quote near the end from a GOP official saying 5,700 votes is a "big hill to climb.").

POYNTER DROPS THE BALL: This article by Steve Outing takes blogs to task for publishing exit polls:

Other bloggers also published early exit-poll numbers, including: The Drudge Report (as he did in 2000), The Daily Kos, MyDD, Atrios, Instapundit, and PowerLine.

Er, except that InstaPundit, at least, didn't. (In fact, I pooh-poohed the exit polls.) Perhaps Outing was confused by this post, which reported: "On the other hand, exit-polling suggests a sudden Bernstein surge in Virginia. . . ." But there were no "numbers" and if Outing had followed the link, he would have seen that the "exit poll" in question was David Bernstein's own blog entry saying that he had put himself down as a write-in candidate.

If Outing wants to call blogs "loose cannons," perhaps he should try being a bit more careful to tie things down himself.

UPDATE: The error has been corrected, and the correction noted. Good job.

Some people wonder if I think it's wrong to post exit poll results. Not really. I didn't post 'em because I figured everyone had already seen them on Drudge. And the only comment I had was the one with the Mystery Pollster link, above, that I didn't trust them. The good news is that as the exit polls continue to be wrong, releasing them makes less of a difference!

SPEAKING OF THE GRACEFUL ACCEPTANCE OF LOSS ... Senator Kerry, how about a concession speech? Remember how good Al Gore looked in 2000, when he finally gave his concession speech? Gore had reason to drag out the vote counting, given how close things were, and we survived that ordeal. But when he conceded he had a beautiful, eloquent dignity. I was sorry when Angry Al Gore emerged in the 2004 campaign season and dispelled that fine image he had left us with at the end of the 2000 struggle. Senator Kerry, for your own legacy, you should give a beautiful, dignified concession speech this morning. You have many supporters, and you can help them recover from the loss and accept the reality of the situation in a positive spirit. You do not have the cause that Gore had to drag out the post-election counting. What good can that do? Please use the opportunity that you have today to help Americans pull together and move beyond the long, harsh argument we've just had with each other.

DEALING WITH THE PAIN. My UW colleague, socprof Jeremy Freese asks "is the gravity of the situation really well-served by a graphic that makes the two candidates look like they are shooting eye beams at each other?" and generally displays pain on his always cool blog. Here in Madison, I'm surrounded by overwhelming numbers of people who voted against the President and must be horrified at the prospect of four more years. I was just saying yesterday afternoon, as I was reading the exit polls that so favored Kerry, that it might be better for the national psyche, at least, if Kerry won, that it would be much harder for Kerry supporters to tolerate more Bush than for Bush supporters to accept giving the other party a chance for a while. But, despite some lingering denial among Kerry supporters (including some MSM outlets), that is not to be. Those of us who are happy with the outcome would do well to resist gloating. There is a lot of pain out there, and perhaps setting an example of graceful winning can help inspire some graceful acceptance of loss.

GOT UP: Saw that people are still wrangling. It looks to me as if Bush has won it, and I think that Kerry should consider whether he wants to concede gracefully or become a second Al Gore, only this time without the popular vote. I'm going back to bed.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan: "IT'S OVER: President Bush is narrowly re-elected. It was a wild day with the biggest black eyes for exit pollsters. I wanted Kerry to win. I believed he'd be more able to unite the country at home, more fiscally conservative, more socially inclusive, and better able to rally the world in a more focused war on terror. I still do. But a slim majority of Americans disagreed. And I'm a big believer in the deep wisdom of the American people. They voted in huge numbers, and they made a judgment."

Stephen Green: "Bush has obviously won the popular vote. If he was 'selected not elected' in 2000, then why on Earth would the Dems want to try to put Kerry in via lawsuits in 2004?"

Will Collier: "If Kerry hasn't admitted defeat by tonight, he'll land squarely in the sore-loser category for the rest of his life--and he'll take Edwards there with him."

John Hillen: "A failure to concede by this morning can only mean the Dems, lacking anything to rally around for the next four years, want to keep the victim-magic going and will hang on long enough to create the auro of 'another stolen election' for their base." I hope not. That's a death trap, it's a suicide rap. They'd better get out while they can. . .

Cliff May: "Privately – by which I mean in the CNN green room -- I’ve now spoken to two prominent Democrats who acknowledge not only that Bush won, but also that this was a huge election for Republicans."

Reader Jim Hume (via email): "How does Andrew figure a 3.5 million difference is a 'slim' majority? It would be slim if there were only a hundred voters, but 3% of 110 million is not slim."

BEFORE I GO TO BED, THOUGH, the question of the night is "What the hell happened with the exit polls?" They wildly overstated Kerry's margins. Some weird systematic error in the sample collection? Biased pollers? Sheer bad luck? I hope someone takes on these questions over the next couple days.

FINALLY FILED; I'll be off to bed in a minute. As of now, Bush's lead seems to be widening in Iowa, Nevada and New Mexico, and Ohio seems like a real stretch for Kerry. Colour me shocked; I've been predicting it for Kerry for weeks now, and loudly proclaimed the race over around 3:00 this afternoon. I'd certainly never have predicted such a solid Bush lead with record turnout. Conventional wisdom, thy name is dust.

More after I get some shuteye. But just in case you were wondering, I have indeed been blogging in my pajamas these last few hours. And mighty comfortable they are, too.

NOW WHAT? Stephen Green looks at the next four years.

NBC JUST REPORTED THAT KERRY WON'T CONCEDE TONIGHT. They're hanging onto the slim hope of Ohio's few remaining votes. The networks are standing by their projections, but hey, it's not like the projections haven't been wrong before.

Update I'm watching John Edwards' speech saying that they will "fight for every vote". He's good. I expect we'll see him in the presidential race again.

Update II NBC is talking to bloggers, following an interview with Rudy Giuliani in which he argued (to my 100% agreement) that the country really doesn't need another 30 days of litigation. I'm wondering about all this coverage -- who's still up watching it? I have to be; it's my job to watch it. But are ordinary citizens still awake right now?

YOU'RE GETTING SLEEPY I have to stay up until the networks call it in order to file my story. At this point, I find it hard to imagine how Kerry can pull it out in Ohio, but then, last time I went to sleep thinking Bush had won, and woke up to the Florida mess.

Quite apart from my own vote preference, I hope Bush wins it, because it looks like Bush is going to win the popular vote, adn I think it will be good for the country for the popular vote to line up with the electoral.

In other news, Drudge is reporting 120 million voters turned out. If Bush wins, what will the "selected, not elected" crowd do for a sound byte now?

FOX CALLS ALASKA FOR BUSH, putting Bush at 269, and Kerry with only, at best, the possibility of a tie, which would lead only to a loss in the House. So can we say Bush has won? I see Drudge is running his rotating siren and saying "Bush Wins." I'm surprised. I had entirely prepared myself for a Kerry win earlier this evening.

BUSH WINS OHIO. Says Fox. If true, he wins the election.

"REALITY IS HERE, and I think we've got to give the President and his team a lot of credit. ... They've won it." So said James Carville just now on CNN.

THINGS ARE LOOKING BAD FOR TOM DASCHLE IN SOUTH DAKOTA. I confess I don't understand the obsession that led to pouring $25 million into the state to defeat a rather moderate minority leader, but this will be a big scalp for the Republicans.

GOOD NIGHT. See you tomorrow. Maybe we'll know more then.

FOXNEWS CALLS OHIO FOR BUSH. That leaves him 3 votes short of the needed total.

FOX JUST CALLED OHIO FOR BUSH

"FIRST RED STATE TO GO BLUE," says Brit Hume announcing that FoxNews is calling New Hampshire for Kerry. (In other words, NH is the first state won by Bush in 2000 to go for Kerry.)

CNN JUST CALLED FLORIDA FOR BUSH.

FOX CALLS COLORADO FOR BUSH: I'm distressed by the talking heads raising the possibility of Ohio becoming this year's Florida. Like Andrew Sullivan, I'd like this to be over. And cleanly.

JUST GOT BACK FROM ROCKEFELLER CENTER, where NBC has set up quite a show. They've got streamers running up the side of their building, red for Bush and Blue for Kerry, dangling from a scaffold with the number of electoral votes each currently has locked up on it. The scaffolds move up the building as more electoral votes are added; you can see a picture here.

There's a lot of excitement here, though understandably less since Florida went for Bush.

BUSH LEADS IN OHIO by five points. 70 percent of the vote has been counted. (Live results here.)

THE STATES TO WATCH: If Bush wins Ohio, New Mexico, and Colorado he will win the election with 271 electoral votes. (That's assuming none of his other states flip to Kerry.) It's trending that way now.

November 02, 2004

OK, ONE MORE: CBS just called Florida for Bush. I think it was because of Michael's taunts.

I'M DONE WITH THE TV GIG: Heading home. I'll post a bit there if I can reach the site.

FEAR OF FLORIDA: What the matter, networks? Afraid to call Florida this time around? Et tu, Fox? It's okay. I understand. I'll call it for you. Bush wins it. He's ahead by 4.2 percent with 93.5 percent counted.

STEPHEN GREEN:

New Hampshire, Michigan, Iowa, Nevada and Oregon are all trending Kerry. Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida and New Mexico are trending Bush.

Votes leaning Kerry = 40.

Votes leaning Bush = 62.

Stay tuned.

WAS ZOGBY DUPED? I have to agree with this statement: "To sum up- the pollsters screwed up, again." Looks that way.

BAD NEWS FOR THE GUARDIAN: Bush has a 9-point lead in Clark County, Ohio.

BUSH IS AHEAD in Florida by 4 percentage points with more than 85 percent of the vote counted. (See here for the live tally.)

IT'S CLOSE AGAIN: NBC has just called California and Washington for Kerry, making it 207-199 Bush/Kerry by their count.

FLORIDA DEMOCRAT predicts that Bush will take Florida. I don't know what he knows that we don't, if anything.

DID YOUNG PEOPLE TURN OUT IN GREAT NUMBERS? NBC is reporting that, for all the efforts at bringing young people to the polls, the percentage of 18-29 year old voters is exactly the same as it was in 2000 (17%). And the number of voters in the 30 to 44 year old group has actually declined, going from 33% to 28%. Voters 45 and older made up 54% of the electorate. Even more interesting, NBC shows voters aged 18-29 split evenly (49 to 49%) on the question whether they approved of going to war in Iraq. Of course, this is from exit polls, and the exit polls reported earlier in the day seemed to have leaned excessively toward Kerry. So who knows?

ANDREW SULLIVAN: "I just want it to be over." I've felt that way for a year.

IS MSM REFRAINING FROM CALLING STATES FOR BUSH that they would call for Kerry if the numbers were running the other way? Am I the only one who feels that way? Or is it only that the exit polls leaned for Kerry in Florida and Ohio and other places, so the actual, counted numbers aren't enough.

NBC CALLS PENNSYLVANIA FOR KERRY, Arizona and Idaho for Bush.

THE TENNESSEE STATE SENATE is projected to go Republican for the first time in 140 years.

BUSH IS AHEAD in Florida by 4 percentage points with 79.2 percent of the vote counted. (See here for the live tally.)

MAINSTREAM MEDIA BLOGGING. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was running a blog, and at 9 it declared itself "all blogged out" and told readers to go to the main page or go watch television. What the hell kind of blogging is that? Anyway, they did leave us with some final Wisconsin exit poll numbers:

53% of those voting in the state were women, 47% men; 28% came from union households, 72% non-union households; 36% had college degrees, 64% did not.

... 38% identified themselves as Republican, 35% Democrat, 27% independent. From another view: 31% said they were conservative, 20% liberal and 49% moderate.

Some 54% approved of the job Bush has done as president, 46% disapproved; 56% said the nation is safer from terrorism than four years ago, 42% said it is less safe.

The top issues for voters: Moral values (for 21%) and terrorism (20%), followed closely by economy/jobs (19%) and Iraq (18%).


That reads as good for Bush to me. The MSJ blog just signs off with a shrug. MSM blogs don't really seem to be real blogs to me. They seem to be presentations of reportable information set in a blog format, but just too devoid of personality and spirit to amount to actual blogs. They're just pseudoblogs, blogoids.

UPDATE: (From Glenn) Reader Stephen Butler emails: "Perhaps they would find it easier to blog past 9 if they put on some pajamas." Heh.

OVER ON THE WBIR CHAT SITE, people who are on wifi at the Knoxville Hilton, sipping cool drinks, are making fun of me for being stuck in the newsroom drinking stale coffee from a styrofoam cup. So I go over to Jeff Jarvis's and he's rhapsodizing about the comforts of home: "Cabernet in hand. Feet up. Remote in hand." Yes, bloggers have better offices that professional journalists, no doubt about it.

CNN HAS JUST CALLED SOUTH CAROLINA FOR JIM DEMINT Go free trade! Less surprisingly, Harry Reid (D-NV) is going back to the senate. The Kentucky race is still too close to call.

CNN JUST CALLED MISSOURI FOR BUSH. Seems like no matter what happens, a lot of sacred cows of prognostication are going to fall: Missouri's much vaunted talent for picking the president, The Incumbent Rule, the schoolchild survey, the 7-11 survey, the exit polls . . . and maybe that's not such a bad thing.

THIS IS A PRETTY DEPRESSING PERIOD FOR DEMOCRATS, but that was only to be expected: Kerry's going to carry mostly on the coast, which means that this period was inevitably going to feature a relentless tide of Republican votes stacking up as the poll closings sweep through the middle of America. Buck up, my little chickadees; your states are coming.

EMAIL FROM A BUSH OPERATIVE: "We are feeling very confident about Florida. So are people on the ground there, who know a good deal about these things." He adds:

Let me make a broader, and very significant, point. The media are now changing the models they are using to estimate where things stand. The actual votes underscored how flawed the exit polling data was – and so the media are making adjustments in where things stand. What does that specifically mean: The final exit polls had us down by five to six points in Wisconsin; the estimates now are that we are even. The exit polls had us down three points in Iowa; the estimates now are that we are even. The exit polls had us down in New Mexico; the estimates now are that we are even.

We'll know soon enough. I hope!

THE WBIR FOLKS are projecting that the Wheel Tax will pass, based on their accelerated data-gathering. They're all very pleased to have the scoop.

CNN NOW PUTS ALL FIVE OF NEBRASKA'S ELECTORAL VOTES IN THE BUSH BASKET, up from four earlier.

DAVID KASPAR is liveblogging the German election coverage.

CALL ’EM YOURSELF: Drudge links to the realtime vote tallies for Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

CNN HAS JIM DEMINT LEADING IN SOUTH CAROLINA with 44% of the vote in, which is terrific news for free trade. If a highly protectionist state like South Carolina can put a staunch free-trader like DeMint into the Senate, there's hope for us all.

I'M POPPING IN AND OUT of the WBIR chat site, if you're interested in stopping by. What with that, posting here, and doing posts for GlennReynolds.com and the WBIR blog -- and going on the air every hour -- I'm feeling like I'm spread a bit thin. But somebody just brought me a cup of strong, if rather stale, coffee.

ABC CALLS IT FOR COBURN, the Oklahoma Republican senatorial candidate who is most famous for his bizarre claims that lesbianism was so rampant in some southeastern Oklahoma public schools that they would only let the girls go to the bathroom one at a time.

CNN shows Colorado's Amendment 36, the ballot initiative to split the state's electoral votes, losing handily. That's one lawsuit dodged, anyway.

YES, I'M STILL HERE, STILL PAYING ATTENTION. I haven't posted in a long while, as long whiles are measured on election day. But I am sitting here taking in the news, reading a few websites and watching a few news channels on TV. The TV pundits are making me nervous. I'm not going to name names -- not yet at least -- but some of the partisan pundits come on and play a heavy-handed mind game, gloating "you lose!" in so many words. I wish I could think of something to say that might be helpful, but I'm looking at the same things you are, and what is going to happen is going to happen. We bloggers aren't playing a role shaping any opinion anymore. The current game is just about shaping how people feel about what has happened as we slowly learn of it. That's the sort of thing that doesn't interest me at all. I'd prefer if everyone could make it through the night without feeling too bad and emerge the next day with a reasonably optimistic attitude about the future.

EXIT POLL PROBLEMS: "Either there is a huge methodological flaw in the exit polling data, or there has been a transformative change in the nature of the electorate. The former is far more likely."

There's a certain baffle-the-experts pleasure in seeing exit polls turn out to be wrong, but on the other hand if you can't count on exit polls to be at least roughly accurate there's less of a check on fraud.

COUNTY MAPS: You can drill down into CNN's state map to find red and blue counties. (Via The Corner.)

HERE'S THE YAHOO ELECTION RESULTS MAP: Just keep refreshing.

UPDATE: The C-SPAN map is here.

NBC NEWS IS PROJECTING KANSAS, NEBRASKA, THE DAKOTAS, TEXAS AND WYOMING for Bush. Kerry is projected in New York and Rhode Island.

MSNBC IS POSTING REPORTS AND PHOTOS from "citizen journalists." There's another kind?

BUSH WINS VIRGINIA - NBC.

ABC HAS MAINE PUTTING 3 ELECTORAL VOTES INTO THE KERRY COLUMN but the fourth is still too close to call -- a great sign for Bush, as he wasn't expected to pull this out. So far no states have switched parties, but I'd love to know the margins.

HOW'D YOUR VOTE GO? Jason Kottke is gathering reports of people's experiences.

NORTH AND SOUTH CAROLINA FOR BUSH: Not a surprise, but Edwards didn't put Kerry over the top.

Gay-marriage ban passes in Ohio. Is this an indicator of how the Presidential vote will go?

NBC CALLS North Carolina for Bush.

WHO ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, HUGH? Hugh Hewitt writes: "Exit polls are to election nights what food poisoning [is] to great restaurants. Four years ago they spooked the networks into calling Florida for Gore. Today they almost spooked the blogosphere into calling entire election for Kerry." Only if Drudge counts as a blog.

A BIG LOCAL BATTLE HERE involves the Wheel Tax. The WBIR folks have sent stringers to every precinct, and they're phoning in the results the instant they're available. Right now it's very close.

A MAJOR ELECTION VICTORY for my Nigerian-American sister-in-law, Victoria. This is what it's all about, folks.

I GUESS SOME PEOPLE FIND IT EXCITING, but I'm finding it harder to work in the newsroom than I do at home. There's so much noise and commotion you can't hear yourself think. Pictures here.

NBC IS CALLING IT FOR BUSH in Tenn. Oklahoma, Alabama; Kerry in Mass., Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey. No real surprises there, though NJ to Kerry probably means no chance of a Bush landslide, just as WV to Bush makes a Kerry landslide unlikely. I guess it's going to be close. Sigh.

I'M DECLARING VICTORY -- OVER OSAMA: If he could have bombed us, he would have. Instead, all we got was a lame video.

I GUESS THE BOGUS DRAFT RUMORS WORKED: NBC is showing Kerry doing very well among 18-29 year old voters.

DON'T MISS THE COMMAND POST: They've got open chat, too.

SOLIDARITY: Filmmaker Theo van Gogh’s murder was loudly protested by 20,000 people, including some of his political enemies, in the streets of Amsterdam today. (Hat tip: Eric the Unread, who really does deserve to be read.)

BUSH HAS WEST VIRGINIA: This is news only in the sense that if he didn't have it, it would strongly suggest a Kerry win.

ZELL MILLER did not seek re-election this year. His former seat was won today by Johnny Isakson, a Republican.

IF YOU ASSUME THAT THE MOST PERVERSE POSSIBLE OUTCOME IS THE MOST LIKELY, we'll see Bush win the popular vote while Kerry wins the Electoral College. If that happens, I promise not to say that Kerry was "selected not elected" except occasionally in an ironic, annoy-Atrios kind of way.

KENTUCKY, INDIANA, GEORGIA called for Bush by NBC; Vermont for Kerry. Not much news there.

YOU ARE LUCKY TO BE READING THIS. And I’m lucky to post it. 601am says we’re under denial-of-service attack.

UPDATE: Then again, Hosting Matters says it's a bandwidth problem that should settle down shortly.

I'M AT WBIR TV IN KNOXVILLE, where I'm doing some TV commentary, and where I'll be guestblogging on their election-night blog.

I remember that the last election I ignored the early exit poll results, and didn't really start paying attention until 8 o'clock. I'm a bit more immersed in things, this time around.

WHAT DO THE MARKETS SAY? Since this afternoon, Bush has gotten the crap whacked out of him; he's down to 25% on Tradesports. Might be an attractive time to buy, since Drudge has the Ohio exit polls tightening.

(Full disclosure: I'm not allowed to bet on the election on Tradesports, any more than I can buy a stock I write about. So this advice is all being given by someone who isn't putting any money on it.)

VOTE SAVE ERROR NUMBER 9 I consider myself vindicated.

DID I DO THAT? "Bloggers Spook Market." Actually, I think it was Drudge.

WHAT DO THE EXIT POLLS MEAN? If you're a news junkie like me, you've probably seen the exit poll results showing Kerry up in battleground states. The trend is definitely Kerry, but in the key states, the margin is small, meaning that Florida and Ohio could easily swing Bush, throwing him the election. So Republicans, don't despair; Democrats, don't break out your party hats just yet. And if you want your guy to win, then GO VOTE, because there's still a very good chance he can.

TAKE THE PLEDGE: Jeff Jarvises pledge, which Michael Totten links below, is a welcome breath of sanity. So, no matter who wins:

I will not proclaim that the president is incompetent for failing to magically resolve some tough geopolitical situation, such as North Korea's nukes or the Israel/Palestine problem, unless I can propose something with stronger logic to recommend it than the fact that the president isn't doing it right now.

I will not obsess about trivial details of the president's demeanor, speech patterns, or long-past personal history.

I will not secretly hope that he fails at important goals so that I can elect someone from the other party four years hence.

I will not pretend that the president's budget is better, or worse, than it is, which is to say terrible.

I will not attribute magical powers to the president to heal the economy, large-scale social problems, or the growing rift between my boyfriend and myself on the matter of green vegetables. I will neither praise the president for improvement in these situations, nor criticise him for failing to mend them.

I will not point out all the bad news, or all the good news, while hoping no one notices the other sort.

I will ruthlessly make fun of the president's verbal tics, extravagent promises, and useless programmes.

I will not use my one semester of Psych 101 to make speculative diagnoses of mental disease or defect in the president.

I will assume, until proven otherwise, that the president, like most politicians, is making stupid laws because he wants to appease key interest groups (a.k.a. The American People), not because He Is Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil.

I will not write long, stupid posts on how the man I voted for, and his party, are wonderful people--intelligent, sensitive, and well-informed--while the other party, and its voters, are a bunch of moronic thugs who want only to Destroy a Once Great Nation. Nor will I deliver such rants in person.

I will not write anything containing the sentence "The administration has hit a new low . . . "

And if I have to listen to one more such, I'll pull my hair out, really I will. And it's such nice hair too, soft and shiny with natural ringlets. So can't we all just get along?

UPDATE: (From Glenn) Spoons has a different kind of pledge: "I PLEDGE TO BITCH ABOUT WHOMEVER IS ELECTED PRESIDENT." Always make promises you know you can keep!

He makes a good point here, though: "Don't support a President just because "he's President." He's a servant, not a king. Treat him like it. Give him exactly the support he earns -- no more, no less. If you feel compelled to make some sort of feel-good pledge, pledge to treat whomever wins fairly, and to judge their actions without regard to whether you voted for him or not."

I think that's really the key point here, isn't it?

WHEN WILL I KNOW? John Fund has a good summary of the election results schedule over on Opinion Journal.

TRAFFIC PROBLEMS: It's really high, and it's causing intermittent outages. The swell folks at Hosting Matters are working on it. If the site goes down completely, I'll post on the backup site.

I'll be on Kudlow & Cramer (CNBC) about 5:30 p.m. eastern today.

RED STATE/BLUE STATE WINE RECOMMENDATIONS for election night, from Prof. Bainbridge. So you can toast your victory or drown your sorrows, as the case may be.

BACK FROM VOTING. I finished my morning class, caught up on some email and blogging and headed out to the First Congregational Church that is my polling place. I pulled right into a space in the tiny church parking lot, went in, and walked right up to the table and got my ballot. One person was ahead of me in line. I was out of there in less than five minutes. The women working at the poll assured me they had been busy up until that point, and I did try to pick a good afternoon time window, but there was no leftover-from-lunch-hour, backed-up line. There was a group of people behind the four officials supervising them in some way. And there was another large group of people sitting at a big table on the other side of the room. The various poll watcher types in the room greatly outnumbered the voters. There was a big table of cookies and muffins and that sort of thing, but there was no time to get hungry, as I breezed right in and out of there.

MYSTERY P0LLSTER on leaked exit polls: "Listen, I understand human nature, and I'm not going to try to change it. We are all intensely curious about what is going to happen tonight, and most of us will find a way to peek at leaked exit polls at some point today. I just want you to know that those leaked exit polls really don't tell us much more about the outcome of the race than the telephone polls we were obsessing over just a few hours ago." We'll know the result soon enough. Usually, I don't even look at that stuff until the actual results come out. Of course, this is the first Presidential election I've blogged.

BLACKFIVE says that he's been disenfranchised.

SOME ELECTION (AND POST-ELECTION) THOUGHTS, over at GlennReynolds.com. And, while I haven't taken Jeff Jarvis's pledge, I've taken the similar Dean Esmay pledge some time ago. I also encourage people to read this post by Michael Totten.

FOR THE RECORD, I take Jeff Jarvis' post-election peace pledge.

SURELY NOT -- THAT'S WHERE MY PAYCHECK COMES FROM! Robert Nagel writes that law schools are bad for democracy:

Legal education shapes lawyers' thinking, and lawyers help to shape American culture -- particularly the political culture. Unfortunately, this education breeds and dignifies some dangerous inclinations. It encourages people to favor constructed idealizations over real life. And it confuses the skills of argumentation with morality. The legions of lawyers encamped across the country to litigate their way to political victory are the embodiment of a more insidious process -- the penetration of our society by a relentlessly adversarial mindset, one that is entirely ready to make our democracy unworkable.

I hope that the election won't be close enough for that to matter. But his larger point, alas, seems sound.

JOE KATZMAN posts a Media Watch roundup at Winds of Change.

BILL QUICK is election-blogging full time today. And he's not wearing pajamas.

IS ANYONE STILL UNDECIDED? My colleague Gordon Smith is! And he's already gone to his polling place! He writes:

This morning I dropped by my local polling place at 6:30 am, intending to vote. While I knew that John Kerry would not get my vote ...

Read the whole post to see why.
... I still did not know whether I could vote for George Bush. My plan was to look at the ballot and follow my gut. When I filled out the registration, I noticed that I had been given a red pen. "Deficits," I thought. (I will be so happy when this election is over, and my dendrites stop firing election messages.) The line was already 30 people long, and it wasn't moving. As it turned out, the polls wouldn't open until 7 am. Crud! I had an early meeting at the office, and I couldn't wait that long.

So I will be voting this afternoon, probably in an hour or two. And I am still undecided, not between the two candidates, but between George Bush and my protest vote. I still remember my complaints about George Bush, and I do not hold out much hope for change. That's the thing about George Bush: he sticks to his guns. Though I wish he were a different president, he is not the evil man often portrayed by his opponents. But is he good enough that I should help him to win Wisconsin?


UPDATE: Gordon takes comments over there, so feel free to write out some advice, both for him and for the general public.

VOTING IN MONONA, WISCONSIN. An emailer sends thi:

Just voted in Monona. The atmosphere was something I'd never experienced here before. My husband and I had to walk past two elderly members of the odious group MoveOn.org who had set up a table in front of the Community Center. The lobby was crowded with tables full of baked goods for various local organizations. They reported brisk business since 7AM.

We didn't have to wait in line but the place was the busiest I've ever seen in 26 years of voting. When we went to pick up our number, I noticed about four somber-looking women spread out amongst the poll workers sitting and taking notes on yellow legal pads. They didn't have any identifying buttons like the rest of the poll workers and I suspect they were some sort of observers.

When the poll workers verified my address out loud, I was bothered that they were able to hear that information. It was disconcerting to watch them take notes during both our transactions with the polling volunteer. If they are observers, they should have to wear a badge identifying what organization that they represent.

The line to register new voters was about 10 deep at 9:30.


UPDATE: An emailer offers this (possibly nerve-calming) explanation:
What your correspondent was probably seeing was something of the Get Out The Vote effort in Wisconsin. Here in the Chicago area, the lists of
registered voters are public information. Who has or has not voted is
also public information. The people checking off names probably have a
list of people they believe will vote for their guy (developed through a
series of phone calls, door to door knocking, looking at what party
ballot was pulled during the primary, etc...) so that they can focus on
getting their people to the polls who haven't done so already.

As the day progresses, other GOTV workers will follow up by calling the
identified supporters who haven't voted yet. If they are really good,
they'll offer a ride to the poll as well so that they can vote.

In short--what was seen there was probably pretty innocuous. It appears
to just be a well run precinct organization.

ELECTIONEERING CONTINUES IN KNOXVILLE: Meanwhile, Clayton Cramer is reporting unusually long lines in Idaho. Meanwhile, reader Mark Johnson, emailing from a "small rural logging community in western Montana," reports unusually high turnout there, too: "parking lot jammed with pick-ups and suv's -- unprecedented!" And reader John Earnest, emailing from Birmingham, Alabama, wonders if there's a trend toward huge turnout in red states:

FWIW, in the population-heavy overwhelmingly Republican Birmingham suburbs (yes, there are 'burbs here, even city-center regentrification), the turnout is astounding. Radio buzz indicates historic turnout. My own experience was a 10-fold increase in early-morning voters. Other large conservative boxes report more votes in the first hour than in the entire day of the 2000 election. Could be wrong, could be a merely microscopic example. But even anecdotal evidence can occasionally be right, and it's certainly first. What do readers in other states say?

As you can see, they say the same thing. And these states should all be safe for Bush, I'd think. I don't know what this means, exactly, except that I guess Bush's base is motivated.

UPDATE: On the other hand, exit-polling suggests a sudden Bernstein surge in Virginia. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jim Geraghty says that turnout is up in blue states, too.

GEORGE W. BUSH 17,264. JOHN KERRY 9,540. Not that it counts, but the polls are closed in Guam. My emailer says "I believe Guam has voted for the winner in every election for the past 20 plus years."

GUANTANAMO IN FRANCE? OUI. You can't make this stuff up.

Armed with some of the strictest anti-terrorism laws and policies in Europe, the French government has aggressively targeted Islamic radicals and other people deemed a potential terrorist threat. While other Western countries debate the proper balance between security and individual rights, France has experienced scant public dissent over tactics that would be controversial, if not illegal, in the United States and some other countries.

JOHN KERRY'S chief pollster predicts a 3-point Bush victory.

STILL MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: Will Michael Moore take up the cause of a fellow filmmaker?

BILL STUNTZ WRITES that it's 1864 all over again:

George W. Bush is no Abraham Lincoln, and Iraq is not at all like the Petersburg trenches. But there are some important similarities. The American public is very poorly informed about the current military situation. We read of the daily bombings and hear about the endless quagmire. But we don't read about the number of insurgents killed or captured, the number who remain, or the quality of their supplies and morale. Years from now when this war is chronicled, the past several months may look a little like Grant's campaign against Lee in the summer of 1864, albeit without Grant's casualty list. A steadily larger portion of Iraq has come under the control of the Iraqi government and the American forces that stand behind it. Insurgents have been pushed back into a few isolated pockets. Their political support, never high, seems to have vanished. It may well be that, if the President wins reelection, the insurgency will crumble as quickly as Confederate resistance crumbled once Lincoln won a second term. Certainly there is no reason to believe that the insurgents could prevail if Americans are determined to defeat them. There is very good reason to believe the opposite.

Nevertheless, we could yet lose in Iraq -- by our own choice, not by any skill or power the enemy can bring to bear.

Or maybe it's 1945 all over again. As I wrote last year: "And as for those Bush/Churchill analogies, remember what happened to Churchill the minute people felt safe." Bush's greatest success is that we haven't been hit since 9/11. But that may be his greatest vulnerability, too. We'll see.

UPDATE: A reader wonders if I'm predicting a Bush loss here. No. Actually, my gut suggests a Bush win, though my methodology is unscientific: I got the hardcopy version of The Australian with my column, from a week or so before their election. The stuff they were writing about Howard, who won big, sounded eerily like the stuff I've been reading about Bush the past week. But my prognostications don't have an especially impressive track record, so take that to the bank -- or to TradeSports -- at your own risk. . ..

I'M NOT SURPRISED AT THIS:

Two polls released last week found that more people perceive the media tilting coverage in favor of Kerry than Bush. Gallup determined that 35 percent think coverage has tilted toward Kerry compared to just 16 percent who said it favored Bush. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press discovered that "half of voters (50 percent) say most newspaper and TV reporters would prefer to see John Kerry win the election, compared with just 22 percent who think that most journalists are pulling for George Bush."

As I said: "People have noticed."

UPDATE: A journalist reader emails:

In case you're curious, journalists at the major metropolitan newspaper where I work in the Midwest (except for the silent, tiny minority) are giddily confident of a Kerry victory, based on "their faith in the American people" and "everything we've tried to do." The city they cover straddles two red states that went Bush in 2000 and will do the same in 2004.

"Everything we've tried to do." Indeed.

ELECTION DAY REMINDERS: Let’s get a couple of things out of the way before today’s votes are counted.

You have the right to vote. You do not have the right to see the man of your choice in the White House.

If George W. Bush wins the election, the world will still spin on its axis. Canada will not grant you asylum. If John Kerry wins the election, America will still be America. Australia will not grant you asylum.

People who vote for the other guy aren’t stupid, brainwashed, or evil. They are your friends and family. Someone you love will almost certainly cancel your vote. (My wife cancels out mine.)

If, by some chance, everyone you know votes for the loser it won’t mean the election was stolen. It will only show that you live in a bubble.

If this thing is close (the victor could easily win by 0.1 percent) try not to read too much into it. We’ll still be closely divided.

If the election doesn’t go your way, don’t pop off as though America were Guatemala under the generals. You’ll get lots of attention, but it won’t be the kind you want. People will laugh, not near you but at you.

PLUS ÇA CHANGE . . . According to Drudge, Philadelphia, my former home, is up to its old tricks: voting machines were found rigged with 2000 extra votes (presumably for Kerry) before the polls opened, and someone flashed a gun at pollwatchers.

UPDATE: (From Glenn): Here's a report that it's not fraud after all.

HERE'S MORE ON THE TOM DASCHLE LAWSUIT, which seems like a big mistake to me, too.

ACT LOCALLY Glen Whitman writes on California's Proposition 72, which would require large and medium-sized businesses to provide health insurance to their employees:

. . . the mandate will act as a tax on employment. That’s true of any form of income tax, of course. But it’s true in an especially pernicious way with a mandate like this, which attaches to number of laborers instead of labor hours. That will induce employers to reduce their total number of employees while expanding the number of hours each employee is asked to work. In other words, the policy would tend to cause unemployment of some workers while shifting their hours to other workers.

Second, given the small-business exemption (one of the few saving graces of the proposition), there will be a tendency for employers to “bunch up” around arbitrary threshold defining the difference between “small” and “medium” businesses. If it’s defined at, say, 50 employees, expect to see lots of businesses with 49. Businesses may also find ways to start converting regular employees into “freelancers” or temps to get around the requirement.

Third, there’s a potential rent-seeking problem. The state legislature will have to define the set of benefits included in the standard benefits package (defined vaguely in the proposition as prescription drug, major medical, and preventive care). Lobbying groups representing the various medical fields will naturally press for the inclusion of their own specialties in the package. The package may start bare-bones, but eventually it will grow to include psychotherapy, chiropractic, dermatology, acupuncture, etc. As the package expands, the cost of insurance will grow, exacerbating the effects described above.

BAD BEHAVIOR DIRECTED AT BOTH SIDES. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that [t]he tires of at least 30 cars and vans rented by the Republican Party to carry voters to the polls were slashed, Milwaukee police said this morning." From the other side, "two people were blocking the [Kerry campaign office] parking lot exit, preventing Kerry supporters from leaving the parking lot and screaming and spitting on cars." And yes, I'm suspicious that the second, but not the first, incident is a dirty trick.

UPDATE: Bracketed phrase added above for clarity.

BOOK OF THE DAY? Michael Barone's The Almanac of American Politics, what else?

Meanwhile N.Z. Bear is rounding up online resources.

I'm STEELING MYSELF FOR THE EMAIL to come from that "Revolution Will Be Posted" NYT Op-Ed piece of mine. Here's an example, typical in its anger but better written than most (and containing a touch of the humor that is normally missing from the tsk-ing from the left):

Perfesser,
I'm glad I'm not the only person from Madison who's a fag-hatin', charisma- lovin', country-invadin', process-evisceratin', nature-despoilin' revolutionary! Go Bush, twelve more years! So, those of us who grew to appreciate the notion that government might mean a certain level of rationalism in its decision-making have shed that ashen chrysalis to appreciate the need for raw autocracy. God help us, indeed. May you be disenfranchised. If you can't perceive that Bush is a cult, not a political figure, whose revolution is unapologetically crypto-fascist, then you need to relinquish your position of influence and return to your lonely typewriter. Sadly, [Name Withheld]

Presumably the "position of influence" this person (a UW alumnus) refers to is law professor and not blogger, though both roles do entail contact with a "typewriter." (My keyboard must be a very needy partner indeed if it's "lonely," since I can barely keep my hands off it.) Anyway, how could I not have known that academia is for Bush-haters only? By the way, I love the closing "Sadly" -- it's so ... Tom Daschle.

UPDATE: Another emailer makes the kind of logic-and-language point I love: "How can anyone be 'unapologetically crypto-fascist'? Doesn't 'crypto-' mean 'hidden'?" Well, the original emailer only wanted "a certain level of rationalism."

ANOTHER EMAILER: That second emailer also wrote that on his blog.

VOTING IN PAJAMAS!

A VIEW FROM THE GROUND IN NEW HAMPSHIRE. A Dartmouth student is live-blogging the election in a key battleground. Not unlike the scene here in Madison.

YET ANOTHER NYT PIECE ABOUT BLOGGERS AND POLITICS. I guess we're going to be getting a lot more of these articles, as the history of the election is written. Mainstream newspapers all seem to say the same thing, to start over in the same place every time, and to repeat the same boilerplate. "Web logs, or blogs ..." ... oh, no, here we go again! They've come into their own this political season, they are intensely partisan, they're good for fact-checking, etc. How about some new angles? I'd like to see some articles about blogs that are not tied to a particular political agenda but that are surprising, full of variety, and fun to read.

MORE CENSORSHIP OF THE PRESS: I blame John Ashcroft.

MORE CRITICISM OF ROCK THE VOTE, in The Hollywood Reporter.

UPDATE: The phony draft rumors were a low blow, but this is beyond the pale.

READER DOUG LEVENE EMAILS via Blackberry: "Hi - I'm poll watching in Kenosha and the line is already very long before the poll opens up -- unprecedented."

FOX NEWS IS REPORTING that the appeals court has ruled that Ohio will have poll challengers after all. Also, Hart's Location, New Hampshire, pop. 30, has had an unusually strong showing for John Kerry, though Bush squeaked out a win.

IS THIS A NEWSPAPER TALKING ABOUT BLOGS, or a blogger talking about newspapers: "Despite their partisan nature, they became a source of information for many political aficionados"?

JUST VOTED IN NEW YORK CITY Even though the city goes for the Democrats about as reliably as the sun rises in the morning, my polling place was absolutely packed. This was made worse by the fact that one of our two machines was out of commission, apparently because no one had brought an extension cord for it; I had to stand in line for 45 minutes to cast my ballot. Yet no one got out of line. Whoever wins, we can be sure that a record number of people will care about it.

HEALTH-CARE BLOGGING: This week's Grand Rounds is up.

JON LAUCK liveblogged Tom Daschle's courtroom appearance last night. It's amusing and informative.

AMIR TAHERI: "Americans will certainly have 9/11 in mind when they vote today. But they should keep another date in mind, too — one almost exactly a quarter-century ago: Nov. 4, 1979. A clear path runs to 9/11 from the day of the raid on the U.S. embassy in Tehran and the seizure of American hostages."

Read the whole thing.

ELECTIONS AND POLITICAL DIVISIONS: My Guardian column is up.

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST STORY OF THE CAMPAIGN? You can read my take on that question in The New York Times, along with related thoughts by quite a few other bloggers.

OSAMA BIN LADEN declares Robert Fisk a neutral. Wow. That must have taken some effort, Bob.

November 01, 2004

D0N'T MISS THE BLOGGERS ON THE NYT OP-ED PAGE. They asked us what we thought was "the most important event or moment of the campaign" and we made stuff up.

UPDATE: Let me add a crushingly leaden update. "[W]e made stuff up" was a joke -- a snark, as it were -- tweaking MSM for thinking bloggers are unreliable. So please no more email scolding me for lying in the NYT and for "never giving Kerry a chance." Try reading my blog. You can trace the story of my contemplating the two candidates. The record is there, time-stamped on my blog. Jeez!

WE'RE NOT THE ONLY ONES HAVING ELECTIONS: Ukraine has just finished a poll which may transform it into that rarest of creatures: a former soviet republic with a functioning democracy. Of course, the campaign has not exactly been unmarred. Both candidates are now claiming that they've won (but both are agreeing to a runoff). And someone seems to have poisoned the challenger (Putin supports his opponent), with some pretty horrifying results. But if the election works, and the transition proceeds smoothly, we'll be seeing democracy bloom in another most unlikely place.

OSAMA BIN LADEN: ECONOMIC ILLITERATE I've always heaped scorn on the notion that war is good for the economy; it's the height of fallacious economic reasoning to think that a practice which destroys tons of equipment and hundreds of young men is an economic boon. But Osama Bin Laden's equally wrong if he thinks that this war is going to weaken our economy

Bin Laden also suggested that the huge sums of money Washington spends on homeland security and the military serve his agenda of weakening the U.S. economy.

"All that we have mentioned has made it easy for us to provoke and bait this administration," bin Laden said. "All that we have to do is to send two mujaheddin to the farthest point East to raise a piece of cloth on which is written 'al Qaeda' in order to make the generals race there, to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses, without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."

He added: "We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy."


Iraq and Afghanistan together have cost us less than $300 billion, including the money Bush is going to ask for next year. In the same period, the US economy will have grossed about 36 trillion dollars, meaning that the war will have cost us less than 1% of our income.

If Osama really wants to gut the US budget, he's going to need to try something more drastic, like opening up a chain of Medicare clinics. His efforts so far haven't even done that much damage to the deficit, much less the US economy.

UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT: Germany's largest newspaper demands the Queen of England apologize for Britain's bombing of Germany in the war against Hitler. Oddly enough, this is the same paper that endorsed the election of George W. Bush. (Hat tip: Jeff Jarvis)

WHAT COMES NEXT FOR THE WINNING PARTY? Many magazines have written stories about the political implications of losing. But what about the winners? Will they be in a good position?

In general, you'd think yes. We're coming out of a recession, which generally means that the next president will enjoy rapid growth in employment and personal livng standards--and that spells popularity. There are, however, some clouds on the horizon, which means that winning may not necessarily be the boon both parties are expecting.

For starters, a number of people are talking about another recession in 2005. High oil prices were the driving force behind the stagnation of the 1970's; it's credible to think that it could happen again. Moreover, the recovery has been underpinned by what many people think is an interest-rate bubble: an explosion of consumer debt driven by Alan Greenspan's free hand with the money supply. Even before Greenspan started to raise rates again, consumers were pretty much maxing out; as they retrench, the economy may slow, and consumer confidence will certainly take a beating. The government balance sheet is in no better shape, and our massive current account deficit (meaning we import much more than we export) means that the dollar is almost certainly going to slide further against both the euro and asian currencies. That means inflation and fewer cheap electronics from China.

And the economy isn't the only problem spot. There's Iraq, of course. Then there's our massive entitlement problem. Towards the middle of the next president's term, he's going to have to deal with Medicare opening up a deficit. That means that instead of people's payroll taxes for Medicare funneling extra money into the general budget, the government will have to start transferring money to Medicare to cover expenses.

Of course, Iraq may have bottomed out, entitlements may stretch out for a few more years before they begin to pinch, and the economy may power forward despite all my dire warnings--it's a common joke that economists have predicted nine of the last five recessions. In which case, the next president will probably be sitting pretty. Still, if your guy doesn't carry the day tomorrow, you can console yourself with the thought that he might be getting a lot more than he bargained for.

ROGER SIMON will be pajama-blogging tomorrow. If you vote in pajamas, send me a picture!

A FETAL-TISSUE GRAFT SUCCESS STORY:

Three years ago Elisabeth Bryant believed she would be blind for the rest of her life. “I couldn’t see anything,” she says. Now, although her vision is not perfect, she can see well enough to read, play computer games and check emails.

Bryant has retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease that has blinded four generations of her family. What has saved the sight in one of her eyes is a transplant of a sheet of retinal cells. The vision in this eye has improved from 20:800 to 20:84 in the two-and-a-half years since the transplant – a remarkable transformation. . . .

There is a catch, of course. The sheets of retinal cells used by the team are harvested from aborted fetuses, which some people find objectionable.

(Via Colby Cosh, who notes that this tends to undermine some pro-life claims regarding fetal tissue research.)

DASCHLE GOES TO COURT: This isn't a sign of confidence.

UPDATE: Claims of "home cooking," here.

SHOULD WE BE BOTHERED because Osama seems to have gotten a helping hand with his propaganda from Michael Moore?

Documentary makers, like journalists, are a vital part of a free society's feedback mechanism. Should journalists or filmmakers refrain from criticising the administration because the country's enemies might pick up on it for propaganda purposes? Hell no.

The problem is that Michael Moore has provided Osama with propaganda composed of gross exaggeration, artful misdirection and cheap shots. A healthy society allows for that, as the price of our liberal principles. But just because we don't want to ban it doesn't mean that we should laud it. Michael Moore made a movie that's fundamentally dishonest in order to score political points, and in doing so, he has helped the cause of his country's enemies. We know that he isn't ashamed; he has no shame. But his fellow citizens should be outraged.

TOUR THE INDIAN BLOGOSPHERE: Check out this week's Blog Mela.

ISRAELPUNDIT is a new blog about. . . well, guess.

KERRY HAS BEEN CLAIMING that we'll see a draft under Bush. But in light of these strongly pro-Bush poll results from serving military folks, I wonder if we're not more likely to see one under a Kerry Administration. Check this out:

The respondents were broken down into two groups: Active Duty (AD) troops and Reserve / National Guard (RN) troops. (Apologies for the formatting, I don't have time to set up an html table for this right now.)

If the presidential elections were held today, for whom would you vote?

Bush: AD- 72%, RN-73%
Kerry: AD- 17%, RN-18%
Nader: AD- 1%, RN-1%
Other: AD- 1%, RN-1%
Declined to answer: AD- 2%, RN-1%

Among Active Duty who were deployed 2 or more months since 9/11, the percentage for Bush goes up to 74%. Among the Reserve / National Guard deployed for 2 or more months since 9/11 (whether in a combat zone or elsewhere), Bush gets 76% of the vote.

This makes me wonder if we'd have recruitment and retention problems under a President Kerry. That would lead to either a humiliating military retrenchment -- especially for a guy who "reported for duty" and made a big deal of his veteran status -- or to pressure to reinstate the draft. Either outcome would be bad. But hey, who knows: Maybe Kerry would win the confidence of the troops before this would matter.

UPDATE: Reader Marc Fleuette says I'm missing out on Kerry's strategy here:

Prof. Reynolds:

Regarding the draft, I don't think you are right. It may help to look at it in this way:

1) Troop morale will plunge
2) Enemy morale will soar
3) Retainment/reenlistment will decline dramatically

These are not "bugs" of the Kerry plan, they are "features". The net result, if the Democrats play their cards right, would quite literally be a reprise of the aftermath of our failure of will in Vietnam:

1) Iraq will be overrun by insurgents
2) Iraquis that supported the US will be slaughtered
3) The US military will be hollowed out, with the soldiers leaving and the
single moms staying
4) US civilian morale will suffer
5) Kerry would grudgingly subordinate US action to the UN/French veto since
we would be too weak to act alone
6) The US will revisit the golden era of the Carter presidency.

I hope he's joking.

KERRY ON OUTSOURCING, via Tim Blair.

F911, INDEED. Most of us who have seen or read a transcript of Osama bin Laden's new video noticed how much the reconstructed jihadist's rhetoric has in common with Michael Moore's. Moore noticed, as well. From his Web site:

There he was, OBL, all tan and rested and on videotape (hey, did you get the feeling that he had a bootleg of my movie? Are there DVD players in those caves in Afghanistan?)
He's bragging about this in the middle of an anti-Bush taunt. I'd be embarrassed if a mass-murdering fascist reminded me of myself. If something like this doesn't give the man a reality check, absolutely nothing ever will.

(Hat tip: Jim Boston.)

ANN ALTHOUSE has a lengthy report on Cheney's Hawaii visit.

MICKEY KAUS explains why he's voting for Kerry: "He's mediocre and it doesn't matter."

mcclungcrowd.jpg

IT WAS A STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL DAY today, and though I was quite busy I took some time to walk around campus on my way to the studio -- you don't get a lot of sunny 80-degree days in November, after all. Here are a few pictures for those who like them, taken with the Toshiba. Click "read more" for more.

Read More ?


TIM CAVANAUGH IS PRETTY HARD ON THE LIBERAL HAWKS who have abandoned their earlier positions as the election drew nigh:

Under any conditions, the liberal hawks' brand of armchair generalship is stunningly glib. . . . More than that, the liberal hawks must consider the very real possibility that what is happening today in Iraq is not an unforeseeable disaster but the best outcome any reasonable person could have expected. . . . So if the liberal hawks honestly thought the war could be conducted without brutality, they were merely naïve. If, however, they are not so much disappointed in the war as tired of Bush, they are something worse. I'm not going to prescribe how anybody should vote, but are there any issues of greater moment than the invasion of Iraq? What is the case for turning out a president who delivered something of such importance to people who say they wanted it? That Bush supported the Federal Marriage Amendment? That No Child Left Behind is underfunded? That Michael Powell has been too rough on Howard Stern? Are these the same people who spent the last three years reminding me that there's a war on? . . .

The old-fashioned conservative hawks may not be a very attractive bunch, but at least they have the courage of their convictions. If it eventually turns out the invasion of Iraq leads to an outbreak of peace and freedom in the Dar al-Islam (and I hope to be proven wrong on this matter), the liberal hawks will undoubtedly swoop back in to show they were on the right side of history. If that day ever comes, just remember one thing: When the going got tough, they were the ones who looked to Secretary of State Biden to bail them out.

It's unusual for me to find myself agreeing with Cavanaugh on the war, but I think he has this right. I thought that things were bad enough to justify going to war. I thought that other war supporters did, too, and that in supporting the war they understood that war means, well, war. Some, however, have made rather abrupt changes in position: Mark Steyn refers to them as "moulting hawks." I just hope that people settle down and focus on what's important after the election.

UPDATE: Related thoughts, here.

CLUELESS: Novelist Tom Wolfe tells the Guardian that his own liberal elite social set hasn’t a clue.

END OF AN ERA: The American tripwire dividing North and South Korea is no more.

PANMUNJOM, South Korea (Reuters) - The United States has relinquished its last outpost in the Demilitarized Zone to South Korea and cut troops there as part of a deal to give Seoul more responsibility for guarding the tense border with the North.

The change, which took effect at midnight on Sunday, is part of a much bigger picture in which the United States is cutting its forces on the divided peninsula by a third from 37,500 and moving bases further south away from the border.

South Koreans, especially those in the younger generation, increasingly resent the U.S. military presence. The war that purchased their freedom is passing out of living memory. I wish they could be a little more grateful. My grandfather was wounded in battle on their behalf. My father was stationed in the DMZ when I was born.

I can’t really blame them, though. South Korea isn’t a Third World victim anymore. It’s a grown-up First World success story now. Today marks their rite of passage into national adulthood.

FIRST MAKE THE RULES, THEN FOLLOW THEM: James Joyner elegantly sums up why it's better to follow the rules set down by the legislature, than to chase an impossible standard of fairness through the courts:

. . . every time I've voted, there have been election observers from the two political parties. There's no better way that I can think of to assure people that there is no misconduct taking place in heavily partisan precincts. That said, I could see where having hordes of challengers could disrupt the process.

This is yet another case, though, where the legislature is a more legitimate body to make decisions on such issues than the courts. The advantage of having the legislature make these choices--as they had already done by passing the statute, signed by the governor--is that they are made a priori. When judges get involved, by definition, a specific case in controversy exists and there is therefore knowledge of which party a specific application of a rule will advantage. In this case, a single political appointee has made two crucial judgments that may call the most heated state contest into question. That's not good for a democratic system.

WHAT DO THE MARKETS SAY? Rather than parsing polls, which I'm not very good at, I've taken a look at the electronic betting markets, where people with an opinion about the election can put their money where their mouth is. As of this afternoon, the markets have Bush winning it by a nose.

Readers who are anxious about the outcome of the election should take this opportunity to hedge their net psychic wealth by betting against their candidate. That's right, I said against. That way, if you're a rabid Kerry partisan, and he loses, you'll at least have the consolation of a couple hundred dollars to blow on drinking or a one-way ticket to France. Similarly, I'm sure Bush supporters would find their anguish eased by a little walking-around money before the taxman comes and takes everything they have. Of course, if your candidate wins you're out the money you bet, but in your joy at having Saved the World From HIM, you probably won't even notice.

TAPED AN INTERVIEW with the BBC a little while ago. What's more, I didn't compare them to parasitic arthropods.

SHOCKING HEADLINE in the Washington Times: Study find press pro-Kerry.

YES, we are living in interesting times.

UPDATE: Eric Olsen writes that this election makes him proud.

A BLOGGISH REPORT ON BUSH AND KERRY IN MILWAUKEE TODAY. Stand in the Trenches almost made it to the big Bush rally in Milwaukee, but then her son threw up in the car and she had to go home. But she writes that she had a cool discussion about politics in the car on the drive over. And she got to listen to the radio reports:

[A] radio news report at noon said that there were over 11,000 people at the Bush rally. Immediately after that report, they went to a reporter at the outdoor rally for Kerry, where Bon Jovi was going to perform before Kerry's appearance. The reporter said, and this is a direct quote, "There are literally hundreds of people here in this two-block area." Now, it's true, it was drizzly, and it was an outdoor rally... but "hundreds" of people is all he could manage, even with Bon Jovi? Wow.

UPDATE: Another emailer writes:
I was in Milwaukee this weekend, and I noticed a distinct lack of Bush volunteers on every corner inviting people to Bush's rally today--but every corner up and down Wisconsin and Wells featured one or more Kerry volunteer with information.

CARRYING WATER FOR BEIJING: Somebody needs to have a few words with Colin Powell. His recent comments about Taiwan are inexcusable.

"Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation, and that remains our policy, our firm policy," he said.

In Taipei this was regarded as the harshest, most decisive expression of this principle made for some time, at least during the administration of US President George W Bush. And it was a remark that managed to annoy just about everyone, irrespective of where he or she stood on the political spectrum.

I imagine his remarks will annoy just about everyone in this country, as well.

Taiwan is surely the Israel of East Asia. The tiny democracy doesn’t stand a chance in the appeasement-minded court of world opinion against its vastly more populous tyrannical enemy. And because of its size it’s somehow undiplomatic (or whatever the noxious realpolitik rationale is) to recognize its right to exist securely and independently.

I know President Bush doesn’t like to argue with his administration in public, but I think it’s time to make an exception. This is no way to treat a country that should be an ally.

(Hat tip: Harry’s Place.)

OSAMA BIN LOSIN’. Three years ago Osama bin Laden shook the world and swung history on its hinges. Today Nelson Ascher notes that he can barely survive a 24-hour news cycle.

THE CHALLENGERS CHALLENGED: Two federal judges have ruled that parties may not have challengers at the polls in Ohio.

This is a unliateral victory for the Democrats. As I've said before, I don't see any reason to prefer maximising turnout, at the expense of allowing fraud, any more than I think we should prefer to root out every last case of fraud, at the expense of deterring legal voters. The law ought to try to strike a balance, but for reasons I don't understand, we've decided to max out turnout even though this means allowing quite a bit of fraud. Since what scant evidence we have indicates that dead, canine, and imaginary voters break heavily Democratic, this will hurt Bush on election day.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS DIDN'T ENDORSE KERRY AFTER ALL. Slate misinterpreted him. "If I could choose the person whose attitude toward the immediate foe was nearest to mine, I would pick Bush (and Blair)," he writes, but he goes on to complicate that by saying a number of other things that are, as usual, worth reading.

ARE WE REALLY MORE DIVIDED THAN WE'VE EVER BEEN? I recently asked my mother whether this election was, as everyone I work with keeps assuring me, "the nastiest election ever." I live on the Upper West Side, three blocks from the house I grew up in, and honestly, this election feels to me very much the same as the elections of 1984, 1988 and 1992, when we also had Republican incumbents: the daily predictions of apocalypse should the incumbent be re-elected, the virulent and vicious hatred unleashed in logorrheic torrents every time his name was mentioned, the threats to leave the country if the Republican was returned to office .

But I was a schoolgirl then, and couldn't vote, and it's very possible that my memories are not representative, since most of my teachers ranged between the liberal democratic and the hard left. So I asked my mother, who remembers those days more clearly.

Mom agrees: everyone on the Upper West Side was just as mad then as they are now. I suspect the only reason the media can detect this unprecedented bitterness on the part of the electorate is that, living as they do in Democratic strongholds, the Clinton years lulled them into forgetting the rank hatred that prevailed during Republican administrations (and which, I presume, prevailed in Georgia and Alabama when Clinton was in office).

Jennifer Watson agrees:

To listen to the Democrats, you would think that George W. Bush is the first Republican candidate they've ever disliked and that this is the first time this nation has faced a close election.

Does anyone remember 1984? Do you recall how much the Democrats hated Ronald Reagan?

If you buy their version of the Reagan presidency, he invented homelessness, eliminated birth control for the poor and personally killed thousands in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras. He created AIDS and apartheid and single-handedly broke the back of organized labor. You think the liberals dislike Don Rumsfeld? Just ask them about James Watt!

Don't forget about Reagan's "assault on the poor." No, the left wing of American politics couldn't just disagree with Reagan's economic policies -- he was assaulting the poor.

GREG DJEREJIAN comments on Tora Bora and responds to an email over at Andrew Sullivan's:

How easy all this handwringing about a failed Afghan campaign! Let's get back to basics, people. By any judicious standard, Afghanistan has proven a major success. People can, from the sidelines, carp on about neo-Talibs regrouping in the southeast and higher opium production rates. But here's the bottom-line. We were attacked on 9/11 by al-Qaeda. Bush got Pakistan on board and quashed the Taliban with utmost speed--denying al-Q their key state sanctuary in the process. This is, of course, a major victory in the war on terror--by any fair standard.

In Iraq, and little noted of late, Bush has successfully mitigated the perils of having to grapple with two insurgencies simultaneously-- through a nuanced combination of sophisticated counter-insurgency efforts and attendant political machinations contra Moktada al-Sadr. We are now, therefore, free to focus like a laser on the key Sunni insurgent strongholds--with a battle for Fallujah looming shortly.

The biggest (legitimate) criticism of Bush in Iraq, it seems to me, is that he has moved in too, um, nuanced a fashion where Fallujah is concerned. Bill Quick has certainly been arguing that for a long time, and so has Andrew -- though Andrew has attributed that to a shortage of troops, which I believe is wrong. The Marines had Fallujah under control in April but withdrew because the White House and Pentagon didn't want to inflict the large numbers of civilian casualties that might have been involved. You can argue with that approach, but it's not at all clear to me that it has been proven wrong at this point. Indeed, growing Iraqi anger at the Sunnis of Fallujah and environs has drastically lowered the political costs within Iraq of such civilian casualties. In addition, there aren't that many civilians left in Fallujah at this point.

To go back to a point that Virginia Postrel makes in the post linked below, perhaps I'm less unhappy with things in Iraq than, say, Andrew because I expected much worse. I thought we'd experience far more casualties in the invasion phase (which lasted three weeks) than we've experienced in the entire year and a half since the war began. My biggest disappointment is that the Administration hasn't taken more direct action against Syria and Iran, which are supporting the insurgency in the hope that it will cause us to elect Kerry and withdraw before doing anything about them. But I don't know what they know, and second-guessing them on this is perilous.

I could write more, and had planned to before I ran across this post, but Greg has done a better job than I would anyway. Go there and read the whole thing. I will, however, note that although Andrew thinks I believe that everything in Iraq is rosy (where have I said that, exactly?) here's what he was writing not long ago:

There are also many valid criticisms of the occupation. But I have yet to read any cogent criticism that offers any better future plan than the one president Bush outlined Monday night. John Kerry's plaintive cries to "internationalize" the transition are so vacuous they barely merit attention. The transition is already being run by the U.N.; very few countries have the military capacity to cooperate fully with the coalition, and few want to; quicker elections would be great, but very difficult to pull off on a national level before the end of the year. So what are Bush's opponents proposing? More troops now? But wouldn't that undercut the message of transferring sovereignty to the Iraqis? A sudden exit of all troops? But no one - apart from right-wing and leftwing extremists - thinks that's a wise move. Giving a future Iraqi government a veto power over troop activities? Done, according to Blair. The truth is: Bush's plan is about as good as we're likely to get. And deposing a dictator after decades of brutal rule could never have led immediately to insta-democracy. . . .

What I'm saying, I guess, is that as long as the anti-war critics continue relentless negativism without any constructive alternative, they will soon lose the debate. Americans want to know how to move this war forward, not why we shouldn't have started it in the first place. Right now, the president has the best plan for making this work. What does anyone else have?

I think that this analysis is spot-on, and I don't see what has changed in the interim that would account for Andrew's rather dramatic shift in tone -- toward, if I may say so, the kind of "relentless negativism without any constructive alternative" that he criticizes above. Perhaps this is, in Mickey Kaus's words, "Classic excitable Andrew." Andrew's excitability is part of his charm, of course, but I think that in wartime, patience is perhaps a greater virtue. I suggest that these words provide a better touchstone:

Nothing threatens al Qaeda or the Islamo-fascist terror network more than the possibility of a constitutional democracy in Iraq. If Iraq succeeds, the entire dysfunction in the Middle East on which al Qaeda relies for its recruitment and growth would be in danger of unraveling. If Iraqis can achieve a semblance of a free and democratic society - with economic growth, political pluralism, and religious freedom - then the al Qaeda model of theocratic fascism will lose whatever appeal it now has in that part of the world. Losing Afghanistan was bad enough for the Jihadists. Seeing Iraq emerge into modernity would be fatal. . . .

I'm sorry, Mr Zapatero, but the liberation of millions from two of the most brutal police states in history is not now and never could be described as "a disaster." Even to utter that sentiment is to have lost even the faintest sense of moral bearings.

Those words, I can agree with.

SOME FURTHER THOUGHTS on the Osama tape.

THE END TIMES ARE SURELY UPON US: Jim Treacher is in the Wall Street Journal.

VIRGINIA POSTREL endorses Bush in terms that I completely agree with:

I'm not picking a boyfriend here either, or, for that matter, an intellectual mentor. Given the current balance of power in Congress, there are only two things the president can significantly affect: foreign policy and regulatory policy. I prefer Bush to Kerry on both. It's a cold calculation.

Though I supported the war in Iraq, I never thought it would be easy. In fact, I thought things would be worse. It was a high-risk venture, requiring long-term commitment to secure long-term, strategic gains. I wish Bush had warned the public more about the inevitable difficulties, but I do not feel betrayed. I feel no need to lash out at the president.

Voting is an expressive activity, but it need not be emotional. Andrew Sullivan's invocation of "The deep emotional bond so many of us formed with the president back then" does not apply to me. Bush leaves me cold and always has. I never wanted to hang out with him, so I don't take our policy differences personally. I never idolized his leadership, so I don't feel he's failed me. He gets my vote in part because I don't identify with him. He's just a hired hand, and he's better than the alternative.

Indeed.

THE NEW YORK POST EDITORIALIZES:

If President Bush is re-elected tomorrow, the victory will have come despite the best efforts of two erstwhile American journalistic icons — the Grey Lady of Times Square and Edward R. Murrow's Tiffany Network: The New York Times and CBS News.

If nothing else, the notion that "objectivity" animates America's media elite has been exposed this year for what it truly is — at best, a quaint myth; at worst, a pernicious lie. . . .

To be sure, CBS and the Times are hardly alone in skewing their coverage for Kerry and against Bush. As The Hotline, the widely read online campaign newsletter, reported Friday: "By any measure, the free media is overwhelmingly in Kerry's favor today."

But those two news outlets have stood out as the worst offenders.

Read the whole thing.

WALTER SHAPIRO WRITES that the campaign hasn't really been all that dirty.

POLIPUNDIT notices some interesting stuff from the New York Times' latest poll:

John Kerry has a 41% favorable, 47% unfavorable rating. This is his worst rating ever.

President Bush has a 48% favorable, 41% unfavorable rating. That is his best rating since last December.

Undecided voters lean to President Bush 50%-47%, validating the Pew finding and calling the Gallup number into question.

66% of Bush voters strongly favor their candidate.

50% of Kerry voters strongly favor their candidate.

By a 49%-34% margin, voters expect President Bush to win.

President Bush has a 49%-44% job approval rating.

The right track today is 43%. In 1996, it was only 39%.

48% of voters will vote on national security issues; only 33% on domestic issues.

By a 54%-29%, voters believe the Bush Administration has made them safer.

53% of Americans say we did the right think in Iraq. Only 42% disagree.

I'm even more skeptical than usual of polls this year, but if these numbers are right it won't be close.

BILL STUNTZ: Daschle may lose -- and Republicans may regret it.

BILL WHITTLE HAS THOUGHTS ON THE ELECTION:

People are telling you that Tuesday will be the most important election of your lives.

That is not true.

The most important election of your lives was held on Tuesday, November 7th, 2000. You just didn't know it. Neither did I.

What happened on that day led to one man being in the White House these past four years, rather than the other one. Whether he has done enough to keep us safe, even if he should lose on Tuesday, remains to be seen. But the fact remains that George W. Bush was Commander in Chief and President when we needed him the most.

I made a mistake when I cast my vote for Al Gore in the most important election of my lifetime. I won't make that mistake again on Tuesday.

Heh. I don't think Al will be getting very many votes. . . .

THOMAS LIPSCOMB IN THE NEW YORK SUN: "A former officer in the Navy's Judge Advocate General Corps Reserve has built a case that Senator Kerry was other than honorably discharged from the Navy by 1975, The New York Sun has learned. The 'honorable discharge' on the Kerry Web site appears to be a Carter administration substitute for an original action expunged from Mr. Kerry's record." I imagine it's too late for this story to make much of a difference.

UPDATE: PoliPundit agrees. But Tom Maguire still has questions -- for everybody.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis thinks that by linking the story above, I'm engaging in mudslinging. Apparently Jeff thinks that there are some things my readers shouldn't be told about, for their own good and the greater good of society. That seems rather Old Media to me, and somewhat contradictory when you consider his staunch defense of Howard Stern's right to talk about Nigerian women eating monkeys.

October 31, 2004

MARK STEYN'S LAST PRE-ELECTION COLUMN is up.

UNHINGED: The Beeb asked its audience "What is your reaction to the [bin Laden] tape and its message?" Whoo boy. Britain's Eric the Unread points out that way too many of those polled are wallowing in conspiracy theory-riddled bollocks.

A KERREY GEOGRAPHY FUMBLE IN OHIO: Here. "How inconvenient that people who actually live in or around Galena actually exist! Did you not know that you were intended to be a mere rhetorical frill? Since when do figures of speech send email?" Heh.

CBS OVERPLAYS ITS HAND, and drives another voter into the Bush camp.

UPDATE: And, though I don't think CBS is to blame, Dale Amon is announcing for Bush, too:

It really came down to a no-brainer though. I have voted for a Republican for President for the first time in my life. I don't agree with George Bush on many issues, but I do indeed agree with him on the war and the war cabinet is one I quite like. There is a minor plus that all the right people are totally off the wall and over the top insane about the prospect of him winning.

Okay, maybe CBS did figure in somewhere.

BELDAR LOOKS AT politicians and their secrets.

UPDATE: Hmm. Compare these transcripts with this report and Beldar's double standard is emphasized.

OCTOBER SURPRISE: A new Kerry radio ad using Osama's words? Heh.

THE BELMONT CLUB rounds up news on Fallujah.

JOYCE MALCOLM CONTRASTS self-defense in Britain and America.

I SHOULD HAVE LINKED THIS BEFORE, but as I am an idiot understandably absent-minded professor, I forgot. But here's my review of Neal Stephenson's new novel, The System of the World.

JIHAD TV: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT: At least some people took a look at the uncut and unrated version of Osama bin Laden’s latest episode of Jihad TV. Niles Lethem at the New York Post has the details.

Officials said that in the 18-minute long tape — of which only six minutes were aired on the al-Jazeera Arab television network in the Middle East on Friday — bin Laden bemoans the recent democratic elections in Afghanistan and the lack of violence involved with it.

On the tape, bin Laden also says his terror organization has been hurt by the U.S. military's unrelenting manhunt for him and his cohorts on the Afghan-Pakistani border.

A portion of the left-out footage includes a tirade aimed at President Bush and his father, former President George H.W. Bush, claiming the war in Iraq is purely over oil.

The tape also sparked some concern that an attack aimed at disrupting Tuesday's election may be planned.

IT'S A HALLOWEEN ROUNDUP over at BlogCritics.

MORE UPSTANDING BEHAVIOR AT THE UNITED NATIONS:

A senior UN official was cleared of sexual harassment earlier this year because the secretary general rejected the verdict of an internal watchdog. High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers, 65, a former Dutch prime minister, escaped censure in July when Kofi Annan dismissed a complaint.

But a revised report issued by UN watchdogs on Thursday revealed that investigators supported the allegation.

I'm shocked.

TEARS FOR TERRORISTS: At the BBC.

BOB KERREY'S DEFENSE OF JOHN KERRY ON "MEET THE PRESS." Read the whole transcript. Overall, it was a bumbling performance, but let me point out two things he said. First:

One thing we know about Osama bin Laden, his whereabouts, he's not in Iraq. By the way, for the American people, this guy is a mass murderer. You know, he's Jeffrey Dahmer times a thousand. So nobody should listen to him with any sympathy. Nobody should listen to him and try to make their decision about who they're going to vote for based upon what he says. We need to track this guy down and arrest him or kill him, one of the two.


This is the old view that bin Laden is a criminal -- like Dahmer, but with more victims -- who needs to be arrested. Of course, this chimes with recent statements of John Kerry's.

Second:

MR. RUSSERT: George Bush by going into Iraq has removed Saddam Hussein, has eliminated hundreds of thousands of tons of munitions, and if John Kerry was president, Saddam Hussein may still very well be in power.

MR. KERREY: Yes.

MR. RUSSERT: So how can he criticize the president for having munitions that are missing?

MR. KERREY: Well, the problem is 400 tons of HMX and RDX are now in the hands of terrorists and they weren't before. That's the central point. Look, I supported the war in Iraq and still do, still believe it was the right thing to do. But, boy, I'm telling you this president tested my support for that war when he stands the Iraqi army down and now has our military over there acting as a police force and border security. You can't sustain that, Tim. It's become unpopular.

I was in Galena, Ohio, down in the southeastern part of Ohio. They don't give a damn about the war in Iraq. They're terrified about the loss of their job, health care, their pensions. That's what's bothering them and then wondering what we're doing sending out Guardsmen over there to be a police force in Iraq.


I cried out in pain when Kerrey said "They don't give a damn about the war in Iraq." What a bunch of selfish louts Kerrey imagines the people of small town Ohio to be! In Galena, those people can't even imagine the wider world. They're all about "where's my money .. where are my benefits?" I know how badly you want to win Ohio -- really, Ohio is practically the whole game, now, isn't it? -- but in your eagerness to please them, you reveal your contempt for them!

UPDATE: (Posted by Glenn Reynolds) Several readers send emails like this one:

Mr. Kerrey needs to consult an atlas. Galena, Ohio is about 20 miles north of Columbus which is, the last time I checked, in the middle of the state. Also it is a bedroom community for Columbus with a lot of new homes starting in the $400,000 range.

p .s. I live in Columbus

I looked on MapQuest and, well, it's true. It's another "Lambert Field" gaffe.

ANOTHER UPDATE: (Althouse, here) How inconvenient that people who actually live in or around Galena actually exist! Did you not know that you were intended to be a mere rhetorical frill? Since when do figures of speech send email?

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: (from Glenn Reynolds) Reader Barry Dauphin emails: "If the Dems can't find Galena, how can they help find explosives in Iraq?"

AND ANOTHER UPDATE: (Althouse, again) I received an email suggesting that Kerrey had meant to say Gallia, which really is a place in southeastern Ohio. So I went back to my TiVo'd "Meet the Press," and there really is no "n" in the town name he says. It's "guh - LEE - uh" on the show, not "Galena" as in the transcript, so I don't think this is a case of not getting the geography. I do stand by my original point, though, which is that he is assuming that people in a small town in Ohio are only concerned about their personal economic situation.

STILL MORE: (Still Althouse) More email came in from overnight, after I posted that "Gallia" update. I'm told it's "GAL - yuh" -- though I'm not positive I'm not being tricked into mispronouncing it so I'll look like an outsider, which I am. One emailer, who called herself "a Buckeye" (and you know I'm a Badger), added: "Ohioans have strange ways of pronouncing towns, Versailles is 'Ver-sales' and Rio Grande is 'Rye-oh Grande.'  It's a secret way to weed out outsiders who speak with a forked tongue. ... As a lifelong resident I can tell you we're all united in one thing around here: we can't wait for this election to be over so people like Bob Kerrey will stop pretending to care about anything other than our votes."

A MUSICAL INTERLUDE: Stopped off at a place this afternoon and they were playing Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet -- Having an Average Weekend, which you can hear a snatch of by following the link. They came to Knoxville several times about ten years ago, playing at the late, lamented Ella Guru's. They rocked.

THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS ENDORSES BUSH:

The News endorsed Clinton and Gore in the three races beginning with 1992, each time judging their domestic agendas in the best interests of the American people. But it is no longer Sept. 10th. The world has changed. And nowhere has it been more tragically altered than in New York. And nowhere are the stakes higher.

As the preeminent symbol of America, this city remains Ground Zero, primary target of Islamic radicals. How best to win the war against terror so the country and its leading city emerge from jeopardy is the overriding concern in the election. The News believes Bush offers the stronger hope in this urgent regard.

Tested severely by 9/11, Bush recognized it was not enough — it had never been enough — to treat Islamic terrorism as a criminal-justice matter, or just to hunt down Osama Bin Laden and his henchmen. The President had two crucial insights: First, that rogue states were a grave threat in that they could provide weapons of mass destruction to terrorists as a force multiplier. And, second, that the Mideast's backward, repressed societies were generating virulent, homicidal hatred of the U.S. . . .

Kerry has promised to be tough on terror. His words are resolute — he will hunt down and kill terrorists — but they betray a skittishness about the exercise of American military power, conjuring up endless diplomacy before action while reducing the fight against Al Qaeda and cohorts to cell-by-cell skirmishing.

Forged in Vietnam, where he was both valorous and appalled by U.S. policy, Kerry has long been uncomfortable with the use of American might. Witness his senatorial votes against defense and intelligence spending proposals. And witness his vote in 1991 against giving the first President Bush authority to drive Saddam out of Kuwait, a step that was compellingly necessary to prevent Saddam from becoming a dominant force over the Mideast and its oil.

There's no doubt that Kerry has become more realistic since then, but his votes for and against the war and his shifting campaign rhetoric raise grave doubts about what, exactly, a President Kerry would do in Iraq.

Indeed.

READER DAVID FROST emails that he used to not be able to figure out where I stood politically, and that he's disappointed to see me abandoning ambiguity to support Bush. Well, Bush isn't my ideal candidate, but elections are about making choices and being counted. I've chosen to support Bush because the Democrats have left me with no choice, given the importance I place upon the war. And I'm damned unhappy with them for doing that.

THE MOORE'S LAST SIGH?

HOLLYWOOD WOMEN VS. AFGHAN WOMEN: A photo essay from Jessica's Well.

ANTICIPATORY RETALIATION posts a roundup of U.S. presidential election endorsements by Iraqi bloggers.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER WRITES on "Kerry's Afghan Amnesia:"

Within days of Sept. 11, the clueless airhead president that inhabits Michael Moore's films and Tina Brown's dinner parties had done this: forced Pakistan into alliance with us, isolated the Taliban, secured military cooperation from Afghanistan's northern neighbors, and authorized a radical war plan involving just a handful of Americans on the ground, using high technology and local militias to utterly rout the Taliban.

President Bush put in place a military campaign that did in two months what everyone had said was impossible: defeat an entrenched, fanatical, ruthless regime in a territory that had forced the great British and Soviet empires into ignominious retreat. Bush followed that by creating in less than three years a fledgling pro-American democracy in a land that had no history of democratic culture and was just emerging from 25 years of civil war.

This is all barely remembered and barely noted. Most amazing of all, John Kerry has managed to transform our Afghan venture into a failure -- a botched operation in which Bush let Osama bin Laden get away because he "outsourced" bin Laden's capture to "warlords" in the battle of Tora Bora.

Outsourced? The entire Afghan war was outsourced. How does Kerry think we won it? How did Mazar-e Sharif, Kabul and Kandahar fall? Stormed by thousands of American GIs? They fell to the "warlords" we had enlisted, supported and directed. It was their militias that overran the Taliban.

"Outsourcing" is a demagogue's way of saying "using allies." (Isn't Kerry's Iraq solution to "outsource" the problem to the "allies" and the United Nations?) . . . .

Once again, the senator's position has evolved, to borrow the New York Times' delicate term for Kerry's many about-faces.

This election comes down to a choice between one man's evolution and the other man's resolution. With his endlessly repeated Tora Bora charges, Kerry has made Afghanistan a major campaign issue. So be it. Whom do you want as president? The man who conceived the Afghan campaign, carried it through without flinching when it was being called a "quagmire" during its second week and has seen it through to Afghanistan's transition to democracy? Or the retroactive genius, who always knows what needs to be done after it has already happened -- who would have done "everything" differently in Iraq, yet in Afghanistan would have replicated Bush's every correct, courageous, radical and risky decision -- except one. Which, of course, he would have done differently. He says. Now.

Ouch.

THIS SEEMS LIKE GOOD NEWS:

U.S. employers probably added 175,000 workers to payrolls in October, the most in five months, while the unemployment rate held at a three-year low of 5.4 percent, the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of economists shows. . . .

Manufacturing, responding to increased third-quarter consumer demand and business spending on equipment, probably expanded in October, a report tomorrow is forecast to show. The Institute of Supply Management's gauge of factory activity is forecast to hold at 58.5 in October. Readings above 50 signal expansion and the index has shown growth since May 2003.

I'm guessing this report won't get much attention.

THE STRUGGLE OF IDEAS: Marc Danziger (aka Armed Liberal) fisks Richard Clarke and the Century Foundation. His blog Winds of Change is having technical difficulties so I agreed to host his essay at my place.

THE EMPTY THRONE: An election-eve message from Iraq, via The Mudville Gazette.

THE DEEP ROOTS OF BUSH-HATING. Larry Ribstein overcomes his recent reluctance to blog about politics to remind us that the virulent hatred for President Bush, which during the campaign has found expression in criticism of the war in Iraq, was well in place before the war. He sets out a long quote from a Michael Moore email sent out on September 12, 2001. Moore wrote:

In just 8 months, Bush gets the whole world back to hating us again. He withdraws from the Kyoto agreement, walks us out of the Durban conference on racism, insists on restarting the arms race -- you name it, and Baby Bush has blown it all. . . . .

Ah, I remember on the morning of September 11th being told by one of my colleagues that the attacks were a response to our withdrawal from the Durban conference on racism. Living in Madison for the last twenty years, I'd grown used to hearing strong left-wing opinion without verbally reacting, but that was the moment when I started to say no. It wasn't a decision I made, but purely instinctive revulsion that this was someone's first assessment of the events of that terrible day.

What the Iraq war has done, Ribstein suggests, is to give the extreme left an issue that works in discussions with more moderate voters. But I would note that the extreme left lost the candidate it wanted in the primaries. Even among the Democrats, a more moderate position was sought, and Kerry got the nomination. Kerry has made a mush of his positions over the months by trying to keep the extreme left segment of the voters, and though he lost me by doing this, I still am somewhat sympathetic to the problem he faced, which is pretty similar to the problem Bush faces on his extreme right. Like Ribstein, I hope Bush wins and I hope, if he does, the Bush haters settle down. But, by the same token, I hope that if Kerry wins, the Kerry haters settle down. There is difficult work ahead for whoever wins, and he's going to need our support. I think reasonable, moderate, sensible people are in the great majority in this country, and passionate as things may feel as the election comes down to the wire, when the election is over, we'll be paying a lot less attention to overheated windbags like Moore.

ELEVATING THE TONE:

John Kerry's stepson, Chris Heinz, 31, displayed his mother Teresa's famous lack of rhetorical restraint at a recent campaign event with a group of Wharton students. Philadelphia magazine reports: "Heinz accused Kerry's opponents - 'our enemies' - of making the race dirty. 'We didn't start out with negative ads calling George Bush a cokehead,' he said, before adding, 'I'll do it now.' Asked later about it, Heinz said, 'I have no evidence. He never sold me anything.'" Heinz also reminded writer Sasha Issenberg of Pat Buchanan by saying, "One of the things I've noticed is the Israel lobby - the treatment of Israel as the 51st state, sort of a swing state."

I agree with Duane Patterson that this doesn't sound like a winning campaign.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey has more thoughts on the oblique anti-semitism in Heinz's remarks. Oblique?

VARIFRANK posts an election-related photo essay.

THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE has a series on G.I.s and the election, and characterizes Osama's latest video this way:

Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time!

Heh.

GEORGE WILL:

Reasonable people can question the feasibility of Bush's nation-building and democracy-spreading ambitions. But, having taken up that burden, America cannot prudently, or decently, put it down. The question is: Which candidate will most tenaciously and single-mindedly pursue victory? The answer is: Not John Kerry, who is multiple-minded about most matters.

Tuesday's winner will not start from scratch but from where we are now, standing with the women of Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Back in Washington recently, Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, said those women were warned that Taliban remnants would attack polling places during the Oct. 9 elections. So the women performed the ritual bathing and said the prayers of those facing death. Then, rising at 3 a.m., they trekked an hour to wait in line for the polls to open at 7 a.m. In the province of Kunar an explosion 100 meters from a long line of waiting voters did not cause anyone to leave the line.

Which candidate can be trusted to keep faith with these people? Surely not the man whose party is increasingly influenced by its Michael Moore faction.

Surely not. Meanwhile, read these thoughts on Bush's alleged incompetence:

Now the one thing that strikes me about the military efforts to date is just how incredibly successful they've been, and how masterfully planned and executed they turned out to be. Not perfect, of course (You mean there's terrorists setting off explosives? Against Americans and their supporters? In the Middle East, no less? Say it isn't so!). But a lot of the toys that John Kerry voted against turned out to be damned useful in the War on Terror. I don't want to even think about how an Afghanistan operation with Vietnam-era technology and tactics would have gone for us - I think in that case we'd have been wishing for another Vietnam. And if you've ever cracked a history book, you'll realize that only 1200 deaths in a year and a half of invading a dictatorship, overthrowing its dictator, and fighting a chronic insurgency is astoundingly good news, especially when added to the fact that the long-predicted flood of refugees never materialized, the terrorists that Saddam's regime had nothing whatsoever to do with suddenly got extremely interested in the fate of Iraq . . . and Iraqis are still signing up to take on the battle for their country against these thugs and getting set to vote in their first-ever real election in a couple of months.

And the Commander-in-Chief at the helm during these amazing accomplishments is called incompetent? You've got to be kidding me.

Or someone. Nothing's perfect, but I think those who expect a mistake-free war haven't paid much attention to history, and warfare. Or they're just posturing.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan seems to regard these as "the same old arguments" -- but he hasn't refuted them. Nor can he.

PHOTO BLOGGING: Gerard Van der Leun posts 50 reasons to vote for George W. Bush, in pictures.