Saturday, October 23, 2004


At last—Something not to worry about

A number of leftist and progressive sites are up in arms because students are having their voter registrations changed to Republican by deceit.

Look, this has absolutely no effect on this election. Anybody can vote for anyone they like regardless of party registration. It can only affect voting in future partisan elections such as a Democratic primary, and then only if the voters choose not to change their registrations back to Democrat.

This is another example, unfortunately, of the Left wasting its energy. There are real threats to a free and fair election, and this ain't it!

The most likely explanation for these registration changes is that canvassers are being paid per registration to register Republicans, and they're having a hard time finding victims. That's perfectly understandable. Republicans have been conducting these registration drives for years now and have just about tapped out the pool of fools. (It helped them get elected, by the way.)

There are in fact some benefits for the Democrats in this—

That's not bad on somebody else's dime.

Related post:
Voter intimidation begins early in Florida


Bush stands up for socks, bras and nighties

In 2002, George Bush slapped tariffs on steel to bolster Republican chances in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Yesterday he repeated the tactic by imposing an import quota on socks made in China. According to the Motley Fool,

whereas we imported fewer than 12 million pairs of socks from China in 2001, just two years later, in 2003, we imported around 264 million pairs -- that's nearly one pair of socks per pair of feet in America. American sock makers are claiming that the Chinese sock makers are able to price their socks especially low because of subsidies they enjoy and they're therefore making it hard for Americans to compete.

This follows upon a decision last November to impose quotas on "brassieres, nightgowns and knit fabrics." The Fool notes, "Economist Alex Tabarrok of George Mason University scratched his head about this as he typed, 'there is no domestic bra industry to protect.'"

Bush is trying to hold on in the South. The Fool says,

So who actually makes socks in America? Lots of people in Appalachia and the Southeast, among other places.

Since we know that Bush doesn't believe in taking such an action, it's a good indicator of how desperate he's feeling. The quota is to last only for a year. The Chinese should understand.

Friday, October 22, 2004


Home prices down in Detroit

Home prices decline for 1st time since '93

Previous post:
Yet more news about the dollar (and the global economy)


Voter intimidation begins early in Florida

The City of Jacksonville and Duval County are geographically one and the same, and in land area are the largest city and county in Florida. They're the fourth largest in population with 779,000 people.

So when early voting began this past Monday, as mandated by Florida law, you might have expected a number of voting sites to be open for such a large jurisdiction. But you would have been disappointed. Duval County opened one site—the Supervisor of Elections office in downtown Jacksonville. By contrast, Miami-Dade opened 20.

Supervisor of Elections resigns

To get things off to a really good start, the Supervisor of Elections resigned "for health reasons" effective the 18th, the first day of voting. John Stafford, the Supervisor, had suffered a severe heart attack back in March, so no one could doubt his claim of poor health. We're free to doubt, however, any claim of good judgment.

But then, as the Palm-Beach Post wrote of him,

Four years ago, Stafford became the poster-child of minority voter disenfranchisement when his office threw out 27,000 Duval County ballots because of confusing instructions on a punch-card ballot. Forty-two percent of those came from heavily Democratic black neighborhoods.

Since his heart attack, Stafford had scarcely been running the Elections office anyway. That task fell to his assistant supervisor Dick Carlberg. And Carlberg was apparently making the decisions—

Black ministers and others decried Carlberg's decision to open a single early voting site and last week descended on his office but left unappeased after Carlberg, who is white, refused to open additional sites or work to correct voter registration applications that were incomplete.

So Rep. Corrine Brown and Jesse Jackson ended up "carrying signs and singing civil rights songs in protest...." Rep. Brown also called on Gov. Jeb Bush to designate a replacement for Supervisor Stafford immediately, which he did.

The new Supervisor of Elections

Bush appointed Bill Scheu (pronounced "shy") as interim Supervisor of Elections. Scheu is a real-estate attorney whose largest political donation seems to have been to Elizabeth Dole. To his credit there is no record of his donating to the Bushes. On the other hand there is also no record of his ever having donated to a Democrat.

Scheu immediately announced that he would open four additional sites this Saturday. But Black leaders and many others consider that number far from adequate. So today a coalition asked a federal judge "to force Jacksonville to add eight more early-voting sites...." Supervisor Sheu maintains that four additional sites would be impossible at this late date.

Videotaping the voters

It was wonderfully convenient to have only one polling site. It made it so much easier to set up an intimidation campaign.

On Thursday,

the elections office contacted police after Democrats complained about men videotaping people in front of the office all day. U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown and coalition members confronted them in the evening. But Scheu said the videotaping was allowed on a public sidewalk across the street.

"We're powerless to stop them," Scheu said.

Owner Fred Hillerich of Price Rite Investigations of Jacksonville declined to say who hired his firm to videotape events at the office. But he said he had done the work elsewhere before, and "I ain't doing anything to nobody."

"I'm sure it is, it's intimidation," said the Rev. Willie M. Bolden, a Southern Christian Leadership Conference official who joined others questioning Hillerich. "They're doing all kinds of things across the state."

I don't know if Mr. Hillerich is doing this to intimidate voters, paid for by the Republican party or one of its sympathizers. But if you would like to ask him, here is his contact information—

Phone: (904) 779-9815

And by the way, George Bush and John Edwards are both to be in Jacksonville today.

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Dollar update

The AP reports that at close of trading the dollar was sagging—

Of the major currencies, only Tony Blair's pound dropped slightly against the dollar.

As widely traded currencies broke loose of ranges that had bound them since the spring, many banks downgraded their outlooks for the dollar during the week, including UBS, BNP Paribas, Barclays, Bank of America and CSFB.

Previous posts:
Something you should know about your dollars
More comment on the dollar


Is the Republican volcano about to erupt?

When I wrote "Why Kerry's going to beat Bush in November", I referred to a Washington Post article that featured Richard Viguerie, right-wing fundraiser. He is quoted as saying,

[N]o matter who wins on Nov. 2, ... "some time early on the morning of Nov. 3, there'll be a big battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party."

Watching the Republican party is like watching the dome of Mt. St. Helens rise a few inches each day. It's not a question of if but when it's going to blow. Viguerie prophesies that it will be the day after the election, but a post by Mike Pridmore at Daily Kos makes me wonder if the Repugs may start spewing fire and brimstone before election day can get here.

The Republican party at the leadership level has three distinct ideologies—the Cheney Neoconservatives, the Pat Robertson Fundamentalist-Dominionists and the traditional Conservatives lamely represented by Colin Powell. The Neo-cons have made common cause with the Fundies, and the Conservatives are sucking their thumbs.

Pridmore reads great meaning into Pat Robertson's revelation that Bush had told him he didn't expect any casualties in Iraq—especially after God had already told Pat Robertson to expect quite a few. Since we live in a country where both the President and Pat Robertson get their facts from inner voices, contradicting the voice in Bush's ear amounts to apostasy.

I agree with Pridmore's assessment of the seriousness of it. From the Robertson side, this is a very strong signal to the Faithful that Bush has lost his Divine Earpiece.

What it suggests is that the alliance between the Neocons and the Fundies is coming unglued. I have been anticipating a revolt by the traditional Conservatives, but the prospect of a breakdown in the Neocon-Fundy alliance would be a lot more entertaining. Both groups are so nasty in temperament and vicious in a fight that I recommend buying your tickets early. Each has the goods on the other.

Such a split reinforces and explains Vigueries' remark in the WaPo article—that for Christian Conservatives the 2004 election is no different from the 2000 election. In other words, expect no surge of voters from the religious right.

If the Neocons have a natural constituency, you'll find it among the good-ol' boys. Most of them firmly believe that Jesus was a white European, but that doesn't mean they go to church. What they do believe is that kickin' butt is almost always a good thing—which makes an imperial foreign policy led by a nincompoop in a cowboy hat seem absolutely irresistable.

But the Neocon ditto-heads alone constitute no more than a "significant" minority of the American electorate. Only when paired with pre-Raptured Christians do they become a potent voting block.

If the Neocon-Fundy alliance fails, the Republicans won't be able to elect a dogcatcher for quite some time. It will be left for the "grown-ups"—the traditional Conservatives—to try to put the party back together again.

Previous posts:
Why Kerry's going to beat Bush in November


This could be fun: Clinton for U.N. Secretary-General

UPI is reporting that Bill Clinton wants to be the next Secretary-General of the U.N. when Kofi Annan's term ends in 2006. According to the UPI analysis,
A Clinton candidacy is likely to receive overwhelming support from U.N. member states, particularly the Third World. Diplomats in Washington say Clinton would galvanize the United Nations and give an enormous boost to its prestige. But the former president's hopes hang on a crucial question that will not be addressed until after the presidential elections: can he get the support of the U.S. government -- a prerequisite for nomination?

The political wisdom is that a second George W. Bush presidency would cut him off at the pass. The notion of Clinton looming large in the international arena from "the glass tower" in New York would be intolerable to the Bush White House. If Democratic candidate, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., wins on Nov. 2 the prospect of Clinton as secretary-general won't exactly be welcome either, but Kerry would find it much harder -- if not impossible -- to go against it.

If this report gets back to George Bush—highly unlikely since he's on a restricted-news diet—we won't be seeing just a touch of spittle,1 he'll be frothing at the mouth.


1 Dan Payne of the Boston Globe took notes during the third presidential debate.

In final debate, President Bush sounded like candidate for school committee. Mentioned education in every answer. Several friends were bothered by spittle in corner of Bush's mouth. Not me. Looked good.


No abortions, no penalties—so what's the problem?

The Republicans have really outdone themselves this year. Their stellar field of candidates for the U.S. Senate includes a Dr. Mengele clone in Oklahoma and a demented baseball player in Kentucky. But they've compromised their standards in Florida by selecting the sort of man you'd normally keep out of your golf foursome—a trial lawyer!

Last Monday Mel Martinez reluctantly joined Democrat Betty Castor in a debate moderated by Tim Russert. Here's Martinez—parsing his way through a series of questions on abortion.

RUSSERT: Mr. Martinez, you said you would be in favor of banning all abortions, even in case of rape or incest. Who would be prosecuted for an abortion if it broke the law?

MARTINEZ: I wouldn't look forward to that opportunity.

My hope is that we can convince Americans that we need to encourage a culture of life.

The fact that too many women are driven into abortion by husband, a spouse, a boyfriend, sometimes a parent. And those people need to have our compassion and our help as well.

But how about women who choose to have an abortion?
The bottom line is I don't plan on prosecuting anyone.

When I go to the United States Senate, I'm going to be confirming judges who will go to the courts and the courts will deal with this issue.

This is not up for a vote by the United States Senate.

RUSSERT: If all abortion was banned and constitutional amendment to end all abortion was passed would a doctor, would a woman be persecuted [sic]?

MARTINEZ: No, Tim. I would never want to see people prosecuted.

RUSSERT: So why would they obey the law?

MARTINEZ: I think what we need to do is educate people and encourage a culture of life in this country.

I don't foresee -- what we need to do is minimize the number of abortions.

We need to end the heinous practice of late-term abortion.

We need to end or allow parents to have a say in their children's decisions on something as fundamental and important as that.

We're far from prosecuting people in this country over that issue.

Martinez has come up with the most sensible compromise ever—make abortion illegal but withhold the penalties.

We've already taken that approach in the matter of theft by large corporations, and the results have been astonishing. But I do worry about those activist judges who will be left to "deal with this issue."

Thursday, October 21, 2004


Is the Libertarian spoiler working his wiles in Nevada?

According to the Las-Vegas Review-Journal, the first 3 days of Nevada early voting have been a success for the Democrats.
In Clark County [Las Vegas], Democrats voted in greater numbers than Republicans on each of the first three days of the 14-day early voting period. Overall, Democrats had a lead of 2,104 voters.

Democrats increased turnout on each of the days, edging Republicans 45 to 41 percent Saturday, 45 to 40 percent Sunday and 46 to 40 percent Monday.

Democrats make up 44% (262,216) and Republicans 37% (218,771) of the Clark County electorate.

The good news here is that the Democrats are ahead. The bad news is that they have not—as yet—turned out in exceptional numbers. You see, the Kerry camp needs a big win in Clark County to compensate for expected losses in the rural counties.

Democratic registration efforts in Nevada were very successful, changing the state from a predominantly Republican registration to a slight Democratic majority. But Clark County is the place where Democratic turnout really counts. Total registration outside of Clark County is 121,435 (34%) Democrats to 163,859 (47%) Republicans.

I was mulling this over when I read—

Out of 45 interviews at the mall Monday and Tuesday, 26 voters said they were voting for Kerry, 12 said they were voting for Bush, six declined to offer their selection and one voted for Libertarian Michael Badnarik.

Nevada has 143,103 independents. Following independents, the minor party situation is this: Leading with 24,726 registrants is the Independent American party—a religious-right-libertarian party that associates itself with the Constitution party. Then the Libertarians with 5,490 registrants.

The Rasmussen poll of 9/23 found 3% support for Michael Badnarik of the Libertarians. That's 28,379 of the registered voters—a great deal more than the 5490 registered Libertarians. And guess where they're coming from! Nevada is a great state for small-l libertarians, what with gambling, prostitution and guns.

By contrast, Nader, running as an independent, is polling around 2%. Badnarik is on more state ballots (43, as I recall) than Nader. In a state such as Nevada, Badnarik can do some real damage to Bush. Go for it, Mike!


Bush is losing his luster

The AFP reports,
George W. Bush's approval rating in the fight against terrorism dropped below 50 percent this month for the first time since the September 11, 2001 attacks, according to a poll out.


Yet more news about the dollar (and the global economy)

Jack Crooks does a daily foreign-exchange commentary for Asia Times. His adjective of the day yesterday was "depressing." So let's get right to his worries about the dollar—
Until this depressing trend of global economic news subsides there is little reason to believe bonds won’t go higher. And if they do, traders could really pile on by selling dollars.

So what's the depressing economic news? Basically, that China's economy is slowing. Crooks notes that—

The economic news is depressing the price level. But even more depressing may be the precarious position of global demand. It appears perched on the collective backs of China's proletariat.

Crooks quotes Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley who finds—

In 2003, about 45% of the total growth in Japanese and Korean exports was traceable to surging exports to China; for Germany, the figure was 28%. Lacking in sustainable domestic demand and without another major trading partner to fill the void left by China, these three countries seem likely to see economic growth slip as the slowdown in the Chinese economy gains force.

Let me add for my Australian readers that the Dept. of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is showing China accounting for 22.6% of total Australian exports, led by iron ore and wool. And I'm intrigued by the footnote "*Includes A$2,245,000,000 of confidential items."

Crooks continues,

And if that tidbit doesn’t look depressing enough, try on this statistic from the Financial Times Tuesday:
Global commodities prices have risen 43% over the past 12 months, but the prices of Chinese exports have gone up less than 2% over the same period. Holy global pricing pressure! No wonder US business isn’t hiring.

The housing market is looking bleak.

On Monday, the UK reported the largest price drop in housing in over nine years during September. And Tuesday, we learned US housing starts fell 6% for the month of September. Pricing pressure? Well, we are already seeing it on the producer side of the equation.

Crooks takes a look at lumber futures prices, which are a leading indicator for housing construction. They're not "declining"; they're not "depressed"—they're plunging.

Crooks concludes,

Mr Greenspan says we shouldn’t worry about soaring home prices and household debt. Well, maybe that soaring home price problem won’t be with us too much longer, but that debt thing has a way of hanging around. Talk about depressing!

Thinking about selling your home while the market's hot? Today might be the day to call your realtor—before people who don't read Simply Appalling realize what a bargain it is about to become. Make sure to set the purchase price in euros.

Previous posts
Something you should know about your dollars (9/24/04)
More comment on the dollar (10/11/04)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Further evidence of a Kerry win

The Nickelodeon cable channel has surveyed kids over the last 4 presidential elections. They released their results today for this year's election.

Of 400,000 children and teens, it's Kerry 57%, Bush 43%.

The AP article notes that "the vote on Nickelodeon's Web site has correctly chosen the president of the United States in the past four elections."

This is not a "scientific" poll, of course. But it gives a clue how their parents are going to vote.

Linda Ellerbee, who writes and hosts "Nick News," says their voting usually reflects their parents' views - but not all the time.

"Every so often you get a kid that says, `My parents are voting for X, but I'm voting for Y,'" she said.


Wall Street doesn't like local news

I was reading a delightful story from USA Today about Sinclair Broadcasting's declining stock when I came upon this paragraph
Since 2002 Sinclair has produced and distributed costly news and mostly conservative-opinion segments, called News Central, about national and international affairs for stations' local newscasts. While Sinclair describes the package as a cheaper way to offer news, analysts question why its small stations need to air news at all. [emphasis added]

It's expensive to produce and has no value other than misinforming the voters.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


Why Kerry's going to beat Bush in November

Well, the goat entrails did the trick, and I am happy to report that Kerry is due to win this election. But before I get into the gory details, I do want to issue one caveat: Tea leaves and entrails are reality-based.1 Unfortunately the Bush campaign is not. So I’ll have to echo Eric Alterman’s sentiment

I’m not saying Bush can’t win; I’m just saying I don’t think he can win honestly.

There are 3 keys to this race: Turnout, turnout, turnout

For once I agree with the well-paid pundits, who have a consensus that the outcome of this race depends upon turnout. This is less profound than it seems, since any close race depends on turnout, and I just wish someone would pay me a 6-digit salary to go on Fox News and say so.

What it does imply, though, is that predicting the outcome correctly depends upon predicting the turnout correctly. But most of the pundits won’t go there, preferring instead to repeat endlessly the result of whatever poll they currently favor.

Now you may argue that the polls already take turnout into account, which is true if you mean that the pollsters have at least thought about it. The question is—Have they thought about it enough. For the moment, I’ll assert a simple “No” and come back to the matter when we consider the polls.


Aside from the manipulations of the data that pollsters use to estimate turnout, the other great clue offered by the pollsters comes in the form of questions such as “How strongly do you support your candidate?” A range of responses is then offered— from “I worship the ground he walks on” down to “He doesn’t seem any dirtier than the rest of them.” This is supposed to tell us how “motivated” the electorate is.

A great deal has been made of the polling fact that more of Bush’s supporters are of the ground-worshipping variety than are Kerry’s. Back in September, the Washington Post ran an article by Richard Morin and Christopher Muste called “The Enthusiasm Gap.”

Nearly two in three likely voters who support President Bush -- 65 percent -- said they were "very enthusiastic" about their candidate while 42 percent of Sen. John F. Kerry's supporters express similarly high levels of enthusiasm for their choice, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News Poll.

But as I argued in a previous post, when it comes to motivation, the pollsters have been asking the wrong question. For this election the pollsters should have been asking “How strongly do you oppose the opposition candidate?” Answers might range from a favorable rating such as “He’s a turd” down to “Anything I say may invite a visit from the Secret Service.”

If this question had been asked—and I have yet to see a poll that has asked it—my tea leaves tell me that the “strong” support for Bush by the Republicans would be more than offset by the seething outrage that Democrats, Independents and a number of Republicans feel at the prospect of a second Bush term.

In these media-manipulated times, it is not easy to find a voice that agrees with me, but I have found one—Richard Viguerie, whom the Washington Post identifies as "the funding father of the conservative movement."

.... "On a scale of one to 10, the Democrats' enthusiasm for defeating Bush is at 11," Viguerie said. "The conservatives' enthusiasm for electing Bush is at 8 1/2."

The Post’s Jeffrey Birnbaum then concludes,

Viguerie may be on to something. What the left has -- and what the right does not -- is a target for popular venom. And in political marketing, Viguerie says, "fear, anger are much stronger motivations than support for a cause." According to Viguerie, liberals are moved by a deep dislike and distrust for Bush and that kind of negativism goes a long way in politics. "They're being driven by a lot of emotion; they're angry," he says with a grudging admiration. Conservatives, on the other hand, have been lulled into complacency by having their party in nominal control.

Bush supporters

It is hard for me to say “Bush supporter” without thinking of something that holds up the Presidential scrotum, but reality-based analysis compels me to acknowledge that there are such people.

When I wrote “In case you’re worried about the November election...,” I accepted Jimmy Breslin’s premise from a year ago:

Nobody who voted for Gore is going to vote for Bush this time. That is common sense.

I still believe that’s true. I have yet to meet anyone who said, “I voted for Gore last time, but this time I think I’ll vote for Bush,” though I did hear such a person once on NPR. They had apparently scoured the countryside to find someone who could provide “balance.”

So let’s take a look at groups of Bush supporters (in no particular order) and see how they’re feeling this year. (And let me note here that one of the best ways to see how the Bush camp thinks the race is going is not by how they’re spinning the polls, but where they’re putting their resources into efforts to suppress the vote.)

The military

The first thing you should know is that it is illegal to ask the military in a poll for whom they intend to vote. So pollsters ask questions such as “Who do you think would make a better Commander-in-Chief?”

This allowed Suzanne Goldenberg to write in the Guardian—

[T]he troops made it clear they preferred Mr Bush. Some 69% saw him as a better commander-in-chief than Mr Kerry, who was backed by 24% of those polled.

Looks pretty bad, doesn’t it? But here’s the trick. Most of the military are Republican to begin with. And the real question is this—What is the troop support for Bush in 2004 when compared with 2000?

The answer as such is not available, but the Annenberg poll revealed to Matthew Stannard of the San Francisco Chronicle

Sixty-two percent of those surveyed felt the White House underestimated the number of troops needed to establish peace in Iraq, and 59 percent felt the Pentagon was putting too much of a burden on the National Guard and reserves, sentiments that were particularly strong among military family members.

The troops also felt more strongly than their families about the issue of Abu Ghraib, with 86 percent of regular, reserve and Guard troops saying the soldiers who abused the prisoners should be punished, compared with 73 percent of family members feeling the same.

The troops and their families will go for Bush, as evidenced by the administration’s efforts to ensure that no overseas military vote is lost, but they will not support him at the level of support that he enjoyed in 2000. Count on it!

The veterans

Like the military, the veterans will remain in the Bush column. But concerns about healthcare, pensions and the closing of VA hospitals have already pushed some of them away from Bush. And Kerry’s war service vis-a-vis Bush’s record is going to attract quite a few more.

Overseas voters

Tired of pretending they’re Canadians, overseas voters can hardly wait to cast their ballots against Bush. How do I know this?— Because the Bush administration has been making it hard for them to register.


In June the administration over-pandered in its efforts to win the Cuban vote. Trying to appear tough on Castro, Bush reduced the number of visits to the island from once a year to once every three years. He also reduced the amount of money that could be sent and the types of gifts.

The NY Times reported,

''People are crying, saying, 'Please, can't you put me on a plane?''' Tessie Aral, vice president and chief executive of ABC Charters, said. ''One said, 'I have to go because my mother is dying.' They can't wait another three years.''

''It's very important for people to vote against him because of this policy,'' Ms. Aral said. ''When we were helping check people into a flight last weekend, I said: 'Are you registered to vote? Then you need to vote this November.' Eighty percent said they would.''

On October 5, the Orlando Sentinel declared,

Recent polls have shown that the president's support among Cuban-Americans has declined as much as 20 percent while others have shown little if any decline. Veteran pollster Sergio Bendixen said his polls show about a 10 percent drop in support.

Four years ago, Bendixen's polling showed that 84 percent of Cuban-Americans voters chose Bush and about 15 percent picked Gore. This time around, a July poll by Bendixen showed 69 percent of Cuban voters picking Bush, 21 percent choosing Kerry and 10 percent undecided.


Do I even need to mention Arab-Americans? According to the LA Times this month,

The Arab American Institute estimates ... that there are more than 100,000 Arab or Muslim voters in Florida — and that at least 45% of them backed Bush in 2000 and many others supported Green Party nominee Ralph Nader, who has Lebanese roots.

But polls this year show that Bush's previously strong support among Arab Americans has subsided.

A July survey, conducted in Florida by Zogby International, showed that just 30% of the state's Arab Americans planned to back Bush and 48% favored Kerry. Thirteen percent supported Nader, who recently won a court battle to appear on the Florida ballot.

AFP reported,

US Muslims have embarked on a vast drive get the community registered to vote in the presidential election to build what could be a potentially powerful voice in deciding the winner.

Three quarters of Muslims polled recently said they would support Kerry to just seven percent for Republican Bush. The poll of 1,700 Muslims was published September 22 by Georgetown University's Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.

"In an election as tight as this, the Muslim vote in swing states such as Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania could make a difference," said Zahid Bukhari, a researcher at the center.

Traditional Republicans

Now that the Religious Right has commandeered the machinery of the Republican Party for its own ends, many “traditional” Republicans are beginning to understand the meaning of the word “homeless.”

Bush is bad for business. He had no talent for it when he was actually engaged in it, and now that he’s got his finger in everybody else’s, the business community is beginning to act up. No, I’m not talking about defense contractors—I’m talking about Wall Street.

While the End-Time Republicans are canvassing the churches for votes, the Smith-Barney Republicans—the we-earned-our-money-the-old-fashioned-way, we-stole-it-from-the-workers Republicans—are simply raising an eyebrow when asked about Bush. And they are asked—after the board meetings and in the clubs, which is very much like going to church for these guys.

Consider this article in the June Wall Street Journal,

Two recent polls/anecdotal surveys reveal disturbing realities about what should be near automatic support for the President amongst GOP voters in the upcoming election. They are not good news for the incumbent

The first is a 1H 2004 CNBC poll of 30 professional money managers. This group manages over $320 Billion dollars -- a third of a trillion bucks. They were questioned about the market, the economy and the upcoming election. While 92% of these pros thought the stock market would do better under Bush than Kerry, a surprising 37% of them were supporting Kerry anyway.

For the incumbent, this amounts to a very large vein of discontent running through what should be a heavily GOP stronghold. Republican presidents do not typically get re-elected when they are only polling a 63% support on Wall Street.

The article [referring to another WSJ article] took quotes from participants at the Wall Street Journal's recent "All Things Digital" conference of senior technology executives. "An informal show of hands revealed many more planning to vote for Mr. Kerry than Mr. Bush. Even "Undecided" beat the president." The audience included large and small company execs, Wall Street Analysts, and Venture Capitalists. In the high-tech sector -- a younger and less-traditional set of players -- is where the Journal suggests Mr. Kerry will find the most fertile ground for support.

It it ironic that Bush is facing a defection by his own class.

College students

Try saying “I’d like a draft” in a college pub. They’ve been registering in numbers not seen for decades—and the majority are registering as Democrats.

Young women

Again, registrations in this group of under-voters have skyrocketed, and young women are registering Democratic. They’ve had four years of no help with the kids, job losses, insurance cutbacks and threats to their abortion rights. Tell me they’re going to vote for Bush.

Are there groups whose support for Bush has increased?

I have wracked my brain over this question, and I can only come up with two groups whose support for Bush may have increased—right-wing Christians and Jews.

The Jews

Overall, Bush has lost support among Jews, with the exception, of course, of the Orthodox. New York’s Jewish Week said in late September,

A poll released this week by the American Jewish Committee suggests that 69 percent of Jewish voters across the country back Kerry, while 24 percent support Bush, with 3 percent for independent candidate Ralph Nader. The latest figure for Bush is down from a December survey by the same group that had 30 percent of Jews backing the president.

But anecdotal evidence hints that a significant share of Orthodox and other traditional Jews, who compose a large share of the community in New York, are rallying behind Bush.

Also in September, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported,

In 2000, Al Gore trounced Bush 79 percent to 19 percent among Jewish voters nationwide, and a poll released last month suggests that little has changed. A national survey of 800 likely Jewish voters found a 75 to 22 percent split in favor of Kerry - a statistical match to the gap four years ago.

So Bush’s pandering to Sharon has paid off—but only marginally.

The right-wing Christians

To write about them properly would require a post unto itself. While right-wing Christians clearly are in the Bush column, I simply have to agree with a remark of Molly Ivins to the effect that “Some of them really are Christians.” And the return of George W. Bush to office is not the sort of Second Coming they have in mind.

Richard Viguerie, whose comments I quoted in the beginning, says,

... Christian conservatives might decide to stay at home rather than go to the polls this year. White House political guru Karl Rove has estimated that upward of 4 million such voters didn't turn out in 2000 and that he hopes to get them to come out this time. But Viguerie disagrees: "I don't see why this election is going to be different than that." And no matter who wins on Nov. 2, Viguerie asserts, "some time early on the morning of Nov. 3, there'll be a big battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party."

Newly registered voters, regardless of group

There is one thing on which voter registrars across the country agree—They’ve never seen such an avalanche of new voter registrations. These registrations are coming from the poor, women, African-Americans, college students, people who haven’t voted in 30 years, even the homeless. They’re overwhelmingly in support of Kerry.

The Republican party is going all out to suppress them, and I’m sure they’ll find a disproportionate number of incorrectly executed registration forms that have to be tossed. But they’re not going to be able to prune back enough of them to prevent a new mass of voters from going to the polls and voting Democratic.

Why aren’t the polls reflecting the results from my tea leaves?

I don’t want to beat a dead horse here. Many commenters have been analyzing the polls for bias. And while some of the problems are evident, the media are unwilling to lose faith in them.

The two issues most discussed are that

The first criticism is correct, but the latter is by far the most important source of error.

Just as important but never discussed is the enormous investment that the media have made in polling. For ABC News or the Washington Post to admit that their polls are a crock of shit will probably require the Second Coming—or a win for Kerry on November 2.

So what can go wrong?

Plenty, actually. But two issues concern me more than any other—

Sinclair’s market is so vast that they could really hurt Kerry with the “documentary” they propose to show as “news.” Enough said about that.

The other thing to watch for is a sudden spate of newscasts declaring that polls show a big lead for Bush. That would naturally dampen the ardor of all those new registrants who are still not certain that their votes make a difference.

But there you have it. Kerry is going to win; Bush is going to lose; and on November 2 I’ll be able to take a day off from writing this damned blog.

Related posts:
In case you're worried about the November election ...
In case you're worried about November . . . (revisited)
The silliness of polls: The "enthusiasm gap"


1 Research has shown that tea-leaf analysis, when properly combined with the results from entrails, has better than a 95% likelihood of being true—or at least of being plausible. [back]

Monday, October 18, 2004


Excuses, excuses

I had hoped to have posted by now the definitive answer as to who is going to win the Presidential race—Bush or Kerry. But my tea leaves have been recalcitrant, and I have had to sacrifice a goat. I cannot write much now, as I am up to my elbows in entrails, but I believe I have seen a letter form in the duodenum. Yes, I'm almost sure of it—it's a duodenal "e."

More tomorrow.


Potential problem for some in Florida early voting

According to the St. Pete Times (read down)—
A deluge of new registrations - more than 20,000 - flooded into Johnson's office [Hillsborough County - Tampa] at the close of registration Oct. 4. The elections staff and a score of temporary employees were working overtime this past weekend to process all the new registrations by the start of early voting.

Elections officials said Sunday that about 3,500 registrations remained unprocessed at the end of the day.

If new voters attempt to vote early and their registrations have not yet been entered into elections computers, Johnson has instructed his staff to search through stacks of envelopes at the downtown elections office to try to locate the unprocessed registrations. As a last resort, Johnson said a voter whose registration cannot be located would be offered the opportunity to file a provisional ballot.

The registration backlog may be occurring in other areas of Florida as well. I've written a note to the Florida Democratic party for their advice on this.

If a voter finds that he/she is not on the registration rolls, should the voter immediately vote a provisional ballot or is it better to wait until the Supervisor of Elections can assert that all registrations are processed?

I've recommended that the Florida Dems post a response on their website. If they post a response or respond to me by email, I'll let you know their advice.


First Florida debate for Senator tonight

I doubt that anyone who is a regular reader of Simply Appalling and a Florida resident needs to watch a debate to decide who to vote for. But for political junkies, it could be interesting.

Tim Russert is to be the moderator. The one-hour debate will be broadcast live on Florida's NBC affiliates at 7 p.m. C-Span will rebroadcast it, but I don't have a schedule.

I would never dream of trying to influence anyone's vote, so I hope you will watch with an open mind. The candidates in the debate are the articulate and intelligent Betty Castor, Democrat—a former state education commissioner and former president of the University of South Florida—and her opponent, a Republican trial lawyer whose name has slipped my mind. Her opponent initially declined to debate with Russert as the moderator.


I'll be posting late today

I'm in consultation with my tea leaves today to find out who is going to win the November 2 election. This may take a while, so stop back by. You do want to know who's going to win, don't you?

Greens for Impact

David Segal, a Green city councilman in Providence, RI, has sent an email requesting a link to his site "Greens for Impact." Their goals are

  1. Encourage voters to register Green,
  2. Encourage voters in safe states -- those that are so overwhelmingly Republican or Democratic that we can be confident today of who will win there in November -- to vote for David Cobb in the General Election,
  3. Encourage voters in swing states to vote for John Kerry in the general election, and
  4. Actively and forcefully push for the use of instant runoff voting (IRV) wherever suitable, alongside ballot access reform and full public financing of campaigns.

I've been meaning to write about instant-runoff voting for some time now, so until I get a roundtuit, go read what they have to say.

Sunday, October 17, 2004


Quote of the Day

The rules of conventional journalism make it almost impossible to report that a presidential candidate "had nothing to say and said it badly to a stunned crowd."
—Richard Reeves, as quoted by Howell Raines, former editor of the NY Times

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