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The election

2004-11-10 18:32:39.02523+00 by Dan Lyke 20 comments

You'll notice that for the most part I'm not posting during the day. I'm on the clock now, and one of the great things about working from home is that I can actually get focused. But I responded to an email from Diane earlier, and I've got something I need to get out. I didn't want to do this on Flutterby, I've been trying to stay relatively non-political, but I need to get this out, and then I'll go back to understanding code.

Last Tuesday, a lot of people went to the polls, it seems to me that most of their votes were fairly counted, and John Kerry lost the election. It was Kerry's to lose, and frankly he and his machine fucked it up. From bad graphic design to an inability to reach out during the debates to just general boneheaded strategy, I feel like every penny I gave to the DNC was wasted.

But honestly, even if Kerry had won we'd still have lost. As has been mentioned before, this is someone who has done things to civil liberties that have made John Ashcroft cringe, and who is proud of those assaults. We could go on and on, but the point is that, yes, we're going to have to suffer through some bad foreign policy and some hideous court appointments, but we would have had to sit through different evils with the Democrats in power.

I didn't think "Better Dead than Red" back in the 1980s, and I don't think it now, although I'll certainly do my best to get the reds out of my country.

Now I admit to taking a certain glee in sites like FuckTheSouth.com (and there was another wonderfully clueless essay from the other side about how the red states should secede on economic reasons, ignoring the fact that Republican states are a bunch of freakin' welfare queens), and I've even been known to giggle over the "Canada annexation" that's in Diane's entry for today, although on that latter point I'm not sure I want sexually subversive print material stopped at the border; even if it's a challenge to keep the First Amendment around, at least we have the basis for free speech in our legal code.

But really, what are we going to do? Move somewhere where we'll be more subject to the whims of American foreign policy? Fuck that, I'm staying put.

The real lesson here is that the politicians will pick and choose their issues so that they can pick and choose their electorate, and we, one of them will do that better than the other and "win", but that's a matter of optimizing inputs, and we're not doing nearly a good enough job at changing the inputs as the "evangelicals" (ie: fundamentalists, but that's another rant) and big-statists are. That means you and me, starting right here, have to do a better job of winning the minds of our fellow citizens. Just as in Iraq, we aren't going to change those attitudes by going in hell bent on alienation and revenge, we have to understand their fears and figure out how we can market freedom and liberty to them based on those fears. We have to stop thinking in terms of political campaigns and start thinking in terms of constant issues advertising. We have to start to bypass a corrupt and manipulable press and find new ways to make and distribute news. We have to be "out", and make sure that our neighbors know that just because we're different we're not necessarily scary.

Besides, the next four years are going to be fucked up. We've got big issues in economic policy coming up, big problems in foreign policy that look pretty intractable to me, potential disasters in domestic policy teetering on the shelf. Who would you rather have take the fall?

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-10 20:29:31.569881+00 by: jeff [edit history]

I'm on the clock too, so just a nanosecond to respond in this unit of time. In your last paragraph, you're right on the money, Dan. A whole range of geopolitical and socioeconomic dimensions are going to be "fucked up," and it is the American people who will be taking the fall.

I've mentioned this before. While the two-party system has served our country well to this point, I think it has outgrown its usefulness. I want more legitimate choices; I don't want a country polarized along somewhat arbitrary partisanship. A very large percentage of people who voted for Kerry were really "voting against Bush" (If one believes the exit polls). A syllogism based on historical facts:

Major Premise: All empires ultimately fall.

Minor Premise: America is attempting to become "Empire Earth."

Conclusion: Current policies are accelerating the fall of America.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-11 00:40:06.256175+00 by: Dan Lyke

A Bush weighs in on some of the incompetence of the Kerry campaign with "Open Letter to the Democratic Party: How You Could Have Had My Vote".

Jeff, my point is that while it's easy to point fingers at "the two party system", it's time to stop thinking about it as though the parties had any core principles at all. They don't. They'll do whatever it takes to get elected. Yes, voting for a Libertarian sends a message, but they'll never build enough of a coalition of all of the different attitudes that you need to get together to get national candidates elected.

Or at least not any time soon.

So we need to be working on moving the attitudes of the electorate. It's the Wal*Mart versus Neiman Marcus model: Sell small ideas to lots of different voters, don't try to buy one big candidate. And, yes, my belief is that most Kerry voters were voting against Bush, and even at that Kerry wasn't non-repugnant enough.

And I'm fairly sure that your message of empire won't sell, because it's precisely that message that Carter held and that Reagan used effectively to take the White House in 1980.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-11 00:44:51.142384+00 by: jeff [edit history]

Dano--there is one HUGE difference between 1980 and 2004. The US is the ONLY superpower; the bi-polar dynamics of the Cold War are largely gone. In addition, the stated goals of PNAC calls for a uni-polar world, dominated by the US:



While I too agree that Kerry was not a particularly good candidate, and that the DNC ran a less-than-stellar campaign, there are many who would disagree with this: "Last Tuesday, a lot of people went to the polls, it seems to me that most of their votes were fairly counted, and John Kerry lost the election."




Representatives John Conyers, Jerrold Nadler and Robert Wexler, all members of the House Judiciary Committee, posted a letter on November 5th to David Walker, Comptroller General of the United States. In the letter, they asked for an investigation into the efficacy of the electronic voting machines. The letter reads as follows:

November 5, 2004

The Honorable David M. Walker Comptroller General of the United States U.S. General Accountability Office 441 G Street, NW Washington, DC 20548

Dear Mr. Walker:

We write with an urgent request that the Government Accountability Office immediately undertake an investigation of the efficacy of voting machines and new technologies used in the 2004 election, how election officials responded to difficulties they encountered and what we can do in the future to improve our election systems and administration.

In particular, we are extremely troubled by the following reports, which we would also request that you review and evaluate for us:

In Columbus, Ohio, an electronic voting system gave President Bush nearly 4,000 extra votes. ("Machine Error Gives Bush Extra Ohio Votes," Associated Press, November 5)

An electronic tally of a South Florida gambling ballot initiative failed to record thousands of votes. "South Florida OKs Slot Machines Proposal," (Id.)

In one North Carolina county, more than 4,500 votes were lost because officials mistakenly believed a computer that stored ballots could hold more data that it did. "Machine Error Gives Bush Extra Ohio Votes," (Id.)

In San Francisco, a glitch occurred with voting machines software that resulted in some votes being left uncounted. (Id.)

In Florida, there was a substantial drop off in Democratic votes in proportion to voter registration in counties utilizing optical scan machines that was apparently not present in counties using other mechanisms.

The House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff has received numerous reports from Youngstown, Ohio that voters who attempted to cast a vote for John Kerry on electronic voting machines saw that their votes were instead recorded as votes for George W. Bush. In South Florida, Congressman Wexler's staff received numerous reports from voters in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade Counties that they attempted to select John Kerry but George Bush appeared on the screen. CNN has reported that a dozen voters in six states, particularly Democrats in Florida, reported similar problems. This was among over one thousand such problems reported. ("Touchscreen Voting Problems Reported," Associated Press, November 5)

Excessively long lines were a frequent problem throughout the nation in Democratic precincts, particularly in Florida and Ohio. In one Ohio voting precinct serving students from Kenyon College, some voters were required to wait more than eight hours to vote. ("All Eyes on Ohio," Dan Lothian, CNN, November 3)

We are literally receiving additional reports every minute and will transmit additional information as it comes available. The essence of democracy is the confidence of the electorate in the accuracy of voting methods and the fairness of voting procedures. In 2000, that confidence suffered terribly, and we fear that such a blow to our democracy may have occurred in 2004.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this inquiry.


John Conyers, Jr., Jerrold Nadler, Robert Wexler

Ranking Member, Ranking Member, Member of Congress House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution

cc: Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner, Chairman

"The essence of democracy," wrote the Congressmen, "is the confidence of the electorate in the accuracy of voting methods and the fairness of voting procedures. In 2000, that confidence suffered terribly, and we fear that such a blow to our democracy may have occurred in 2004." Those fears appear to be valid.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-11 19:12:52.782638+00 by: Dan Lyke

The results were close enough to the polls that I'm inclined to believe that there's no evidence of widespread tampering:

"As far as the information (BlackBoxVoting.Org) have presented publicly, we have not seen fraud and certainly not to the degree that would impact the election results," said Will Doherty, executive director of VerifiedVoting.org.

Other problems in individual precincts or counties are par for elections, said Thomas Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

But really my point is that it doesn't matter if there was election fraud, because both of the candidates were wrong. And the way we'll change that is not by trying to convince the candidates to change, but by convincing the voters to change, because the candidates will just try to optimize their returns from the voters.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-11 19:46:35.502448+00 by: petronius

Among the interesting rebuttals to the Stolen Election flap is this paper from Caltech, which goes over many of the confused stories and tries to set them straight.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-11 21:16:10.81218+00 by: jeff

Based on all the information presented to date, I'm still not convinced that voting improprieties and irregularities didn't occur in a way that could have changed the outcome of the election. Stay tuned, as many qualified professionals will investigate this in greater detail before the next election. (At a personal level, I'm going to take the elevator in my building down to the office of the Secretary of State, and personally ask Ken Blackwell which voting machines were used in Ohio).

Not only is the actual efficacy of the voting machines in question, and the efficacy of accumulating and tabulating votes, but the "perceived efficacy" of these machines (and the voting process) is even more important. Such a negative perceived efficacy could drive voter turnout down in the next election. I have built data warehouses for large corporations, and if the efficacy of the data was ever brought into question, users would stop reading the reports and using the system. Voter QA is needed here!

But, at this time, it's largely a moot point since, as Dan has mentioned, neither candidate is really worthy of SERVING the American people. I totally agree with that assertion.

#Comment Re: The Open Letter made: 2004-11-12 14:08:56.874531+00 by: Bryant

The Open Letter is a heaping pile. The author is either disingenuous or wasn't paying attention. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand why Kerry voted against the $87 billion allocation; he did it because Bush attached a pile of unrelated crap to it. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand why Kerry thought the Iraq War was a mistake, but why he would also send more troops; once you put your paw into the trap, you've got to deal with the consequences. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand why Kerry voted to give Bush the authority to go to war; he thought Bush needed the stick in order to keep the inspections going.

And that's only the first paragraph. I could go on... the other thing that really offends me, though, is the pious "and you hate Bush voters too much for me to vote for you."

Has she been paying attention? Has she been to a bookstore in the past two years? Did she somehow miss the conservative book titled Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism? No? How about Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism? Has she listened to Michael Savage or Rush Limbaugh talking about Kerry supporters?

She seems to have somehow managed to pay attention to the worst of the left -- and I'm not denying it exists -- while ignoring the excesses of the right. How can I possibly take such an uninformed opinion seriously?

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-12 15:40:43.738613+00 by: Diane Reese [edit history]

Mark Morford has a piece today on the cultural divide exposed in such a huge way by this election, and includes a link to a fascinating 3-D map demonstrating that it's more the blue-urban vs the red-rural populations right now. (And I do mean *versus* -- I feel no move on either side to compromise or come together, do you? OK, I'll be honest: I don't WANT to have much of anything to do with those red folks, I truly don't. They are not people I respect much (sorry if you're one of them) and I don't ever want to be like them or be ruled by them. So yeah, I'm as bad as the rest of them, and I wouldn't mind so much seceeding.)

... and you sit there and go oh my freaking God wouldja look at that, it's not blue state versus red state after all, but more like blue urban versus red rural, skyscraper versus church house, Chez Panisse versus Denny's.

That is to say, it's all about population density, cultural hub, all about the much-touted "redneck revenge" on the "liberal elite" for unleashing, I suppose, small European cars and artisan cheese and "Queer Eye" and "The West Wing" on them without their express written consent. . . .

But wait, it wasn't just the big cities that went blue. It was also the tiny progressive oases, the small but potent gay-friendly intellectually curious America college towns -- almost anyplace, really, that possesses an above-average university -- that are stuck like glimmering gemstones in a sea of conservativism, that stick out like sore thumbs, like beacons, like hot blue tongues from the very mouth of regressive neocon red.

You've surely seen the satirical graphics about splitting the country into a blue attachment to Canada and leaving the red rest on its own? There are several; this is the one I prefer (which nicely avoids using the red coloration, I think). Notice that they do not include all of California blindly as a "blue state" -- because it's not. Only the cities (per the first graphic above) are truly blue-ish, the rural parts of the state went solidly red this election. So I think Morford and others are right: it's urban vs rural now for sure, and the trick is to figure out what to do about it. My discouragement stems from the fact that I'm not sure I believe anything can be done about it.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-13 18:16:21.330577+00 by: Larry Burton [edit history]

Before we start splitting up the country I think we need to look closer at the results of the election. The following table shows a few states from each side and how the vote was split.

State Kerry Bush Nader Date Pollster
California 54.6 44.3     Election result
Florida 47.1 52.1 0.4   Election result
Georgia 41.4 58.1     Election result
Illinois 54.7 44.7     Election result
New York 57.8 40.5 1.5   Election result
North Carolina 43.5 56.1     Election result
Oregon 51.5 47.5     Election result
Pennsylvania 50.8 48.6     Election result
Tennessee 42.5 56.8 0.4   Election result
Washington 53 45.7 0.7   Election result

The thing to understand with this table is that whether you are in a red state or a blue state if you go into a room with ten randomly chosen people from your state you are standing in a room with four people for one candidate and six people for the other or possibly an evenly devided room. If the red and blue states split off from each other you are going to have two deeply divided nations instead of just one.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-13 18:25:54.956652+00 by: Larry Burton

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-13 20:59:35.364073+00 by: Diane Reese

I don't have the time to do the research right now, Larry, but I suspect if you do similar math on the urban vs rural cultural divide Morford opines about above, you'll find the balance tipped far FAR more strongly towards 80-20 or more (that's the number in my SMSA anyway). And most of those areas are conveniently adjacent to Canada, or in a conveniently separated strip down one coast or another. If we divide up that way, I'll go.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-14 01:17:16.219398+00 by: Larry Burton

Diane, that isn't going to happen. The US will not allow that to happen and there is precedence to show that is the case. Secondly, Canada doesn't want any part of any annexation.

The best thing that can be done is to understand that just as everyone who voted for Kerry was really voting against Bush, probably more people who voted for Bush were voting against Kerry. Instead of being all pissed off at the people who voted for Bush why not get pissed off at the Democrats for not putting up someone who people could vote for. Why not get more involved in party politics so that two years from now you can have influence over which candidates the party runs for congressional seats.

I've heard a lot of talk about moving the parties ideology further to the right, but that isn't necessary. Find charismatic candidates that people feel they can trust and you'll win elections. And don't ever let a Republican run unopposed. That just isn't right.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-14 03:08:03.827066+00 by: Diane Reese

Of course it's not going to happen, Larry, I'm not that silly. And I am active in party politics and will continue to be so. My biggest problem is the so-called "morals" of the people of red persuasion. If these folks are truly present in such numbers in this country, and were truly moved to vote in the waves they apparently did for the reasons they apparently did, it will be nothing but an endless back-and-forth political fight for the rest of my life, between those whom I can't stand and don't respect, and those whom I think of as the reasonable people. I'm not pissed off at the people who voted for Bush: I just totally don't respect them and don't want to be among them. (I know, that makes me a disagreeable, stubborn, and unpleasant human being. So be it. I'm an old fart now, I get to be cantankerous if I feel like it.) It really isn't a matter any more of disagreeing with their politics: I disagree with *them* and their approach to living, at a much more fundamental level. I just plain can't stand them and don't really want to spend the rest of my days fighting with them. (Besides, if we do beat them in a few years, the cultural divide won't be any less great, and they're likely to feel roughly the way I felt a couple weeks ago... except most of them have guns. ;-) So yeah, so if I have a chance to go after my kids finish college, I'm gone.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-14 04:05:46.894153+00 by: Larry Burton

Diane, it was only 22% nationally that responded that morality mattered more than economics or the war or anything else in the election. The divide isn't as great as we are being led to believe. I personally believe that the media is marketing this cultural divide to us in order to sell more soap.

And you're only a year older than I am so if you get to be cantakerous then I claim the same right. I got my AARP card in the mail just the other day. Boy was that humbling.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-14 18:56:08.152948+00 by: ziffle

There's not really much difference between the two parties. Both advocate solutions which require guns used against the population to implement.

All I wanted was someone who would smash all the Islam Fundies to hell, and ptotect us from physical harm, and George fits the bill better than whats his name. Clinton of course blew it totally and we now have to fight a bigger mess. (Read 'Losing Bin Laden')

I am so glad Clinton is gone, and I puke when I think whats his name almost got elected. Bush was truly the lessor of two evils.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-15 06:01:11.237462+00 by: Shawn

You're certainly not alone in those feelings, Diane. This household shares them - and if The Stranger is any kind of barometer for Seattleites (and I'm not claiming it is), then you've got quite a few more cousins in ideology up this way.

Gentle persuasion sounds peachy, but I honestly think that a secession scenario is more likely than these two polarized ideologies finding a middle ground. The media may be feeding us lines (when aren't they?), but my experience in speaking and interacting with voters this year indicates that hands-down the majority of people voted for Bush because of religious/moral beliefs.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-16 15:52:49.716316+00 by: jeff [edit history]

For starters, I would like to envision a fair democratic system, where every vote truly does count. With our electoral college system, it doesn't take "widespread tampering" to manipulate an election. Just pick a few key states?


The Unexplained Exit Poll Discrepancy? Professor Steven Freeman, a statistician at the University of Pennsylvania, offers a disturbing answer. Looking at the exit polls and announced results in Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania, he concludes that the odds against such an accidental discrepancy in all three states together was 250 million to one.

"As much as we can say in social science that something is impossible, it is impossible that the discrepancies between predicted and actual vote counts in the three critical battleground states of the 2004 election could have been due to chance or random error."

Read Dr. Freeman's well-reasoned, well-written argument, and make up your own mind. Read the PDF file:


#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-16 16:23:35.773242+00 by: jeff

Some interesting correlations between divorce rates, IQ and the 2004 vote results.


#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-17 01:54:30.058489+00 by: susan

I think the divorce rates research was a valid study. The IQ correlation is a bit of a hoax according to another forum I post in. Might be wrong. Since I put very little weight with IQ tests in general, I didn't do anything that even resembled research.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-17 02:16:32.191779+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, the IQ numbers have way to big a spread to be reasonable. The spread on this page is a bit closer to what I oculd actually believe.