Saturday, September 04, 2004

From the (APSA) Convention

I am up at the Am Pol Sci Assoc meetings, home of the combover and the sack-assed K-mart suit, in Chicago. Pity me!

Post-RNConvention thoughts:

Bush's speech was about what an incumbent should do. He was ill-served by his speech writers, because the thing was long and had random micro-initiatives (what happened to Mars?). And if a guy is a bad speaker (Bush is not gifted, to say the least) then why not make the thing short and thematic? It's like the old Groucho Marx joke: we were relieved, on finding that the food was bad, because at least the portions were small.

The reason that this was all okay is that the Republicans are pursuing a fundamentally different strategy from the Democrats, and at this point the race is once again Bush's to lose. A month ago, Kerry had the upper hand, and he has let the advantage slip away.

Kerry strategy: appeal to the center, to the swing voters, and win a majority of the usual voters. Make the appeal broad. Run like an incumbent, take no risks, and make the other guy beat you with policy proposals or negative ads. (This would require quick and decisive reactions to negative ads, which is where Kerry has failed).

Bush strategy: recognize that turnout is 55-60% in Prez elections. Go deep, not broad. Make sure all the disaffected people on the right (pro-life, religious, very patriotic, veterans who feel the left disrespects them, libertarians who like Arnold Sch'ger) actually are contacted and turn out.

Bush / Rove are winning because:
1. Their convention was diffuse, giggly, manic, scriptedly unscripted (okay, Bush twins, go up there and make mild sex jokes!) and with plenty of overtly patriotic tartare de beouf.
2. Kerry failed to respond to the Swifties. In fact, he teed them up by emphasizing this Viet Nam record, and ignoring the 30 years since. His "midnight madness" gig was too little, too late.
3. Kerry is conducting an old-fashioned race, appealing to swing voters. But there aren't enough of those.
4. Bush is going after a much bigger group, the people who don't vote but who have latent (poorly informed, manipulable) beliefs that favor a particular view of the Republicans. If the Bush can sustain that view of the Republicans (handsome, confident entrepreneur Arnold, patriotic Zell, maternal and sweet Laura), then he can win by a lot.

Friday, September 03, 2004

What He Said

I was going to write about GWB's convention speech.

But then I found an article by Tom Shales at the WaPo that said what I would have said, and also said more, and said all of it a lot better.

Two excerpts:
It's doubtful that four more years in office would turn George W. Bush into a great speechmaker, but that he's improving was evident last night when he stood on a circular stage meant to suggest a pitcher's mound and made his case for a second term to near-deafening cheers at the Republican National Convention in New York.

Bush still has problems maintaining poise. Twice, when cheers from the crowd were interrupted by jeers from protesters -- who were quickly hustled out of the hall by security guards and police -- Bush looked flustered, even frightened, though he did keep reading from the prompting devices encircling him. Ronald Reagan in the same situation would have responded with a quip and dismissed the protesters with a tolerant smile. Bush clung carefully to his text, his eyes darting anxiously around the hall.

Where the Republican convention seemed to fall disgracefully short was in paying proper tribute to Ronald Reagan, whose name is invoked at every opportunity but who seemed to get very little in the way of passionate posthumous tribute. Maybe the Republicans feared that too much homage would only serve to remind viewers that Reagan is gone, and that if it isn't mentioned, people will be lulled into thinking he's still around.

Reagan could have beaten John Kerry with one hand tied behind him. George W. Bush will need both hands and lots of additional help besides. Then again, the Democrats' post-convention antics, poor use of TV and Kerry's ill-advised photo ops give the impression that the Democrats are so determined to lose that nobody can stop them -- no matter what and no matter who.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

11 Things I Didn't Know, Plus One More

A list of interesting things, from Gallup.

And, a funny bit. Thanks to Elkrider. This other Elkrider post is just a paranoid fantasy, of course....or is it?

Midnight Madness

Why is Kerry campaigning in the middle of the night, in Ohio?

The real question is why Bush isn't behind in Ohio by 10 percentage points. Some polls actually have Bush ahead, which is remarkable, given the jobs situation there. At this point, you'd have to say that if Bush wins Ohio, he wins the election.

The "midnight madness" bit is exactly like college basketball, of course. Lots of schools do a "midnight madness" practice, on the first day they can hold practice. You'll probably want to be at "The Ralph" on October 15. I hear it's crazy there.

But, for politics: The norm is that you don't do major campaign events during the other side's convention. But the convention ends on Thursday! So, at 12:01 on Friday morning, it is okay to hold an event.

Bush may get a good convention bounce, which Kerry can't afford (Kerry is sinking already!). So, Kerry wants to make the bounce look like a guitar string: plucked, makes noise for a little while, but then settles down to pretty much where it started out.

Three Trials

(On the title: with apologies to John Edwards, whose book Four Trials is now #5,523 on Amazon (and # 7 overall here in Raleigh, NC)). (To be fair, though, I bought the book, and I would say that the good Johnnie Reed owes me an apology, or perhaps a refund).

Trial #1: Todd Parrish, of Cary, NC, thought he was done. He had served the four years active duty, and the four years reserve duty, required by his ROTC contract.

But it turns out he forgot to say "Simon says I quit", and so the Army still owns him. An excerpt from the Army Times story:
The Defense Department has been using numerous devices to keep enlistment up during the Iraq conflict, included a “stop loss” order that prevents soldiers from leaving the military when their obligations end and multiple deployments of guard and reserve units.
Don't the authorities realize that this is a "stop recruiting" order? Who is going to sign up for the reserves now, when Dean Wormer-Rumsfeld can simply declare you subject to "double secret probation" and send your big butt back to a war that may never end.

Trial #2: David Passaro, CIA "contractor", has been charged with abusing prisoners in Afghanistan. In particular, he is charged with beating (using hands, feet, and a large flashlight) one Abdul Wali on June 19 and 20 of 2003. Wali died in his prison cell at the Asadabad Base, quite possibly of injuries inflicted by Passaro, on June 21.

Interesting twist, as John Ashcroft pointed out in his statement on the indictment:
I also note that this case would have been more difficult to investigate and prosecute were it not for the USA PATRIOT Act. The Act expanded U.S. law enforcement jurisdiction over crimes committed by or against U.S. nationals on land or facilities designated for use by the United States government.
Trial # 3: Kobe Bryant. Now a non-trial. Not clear that Mr. Bryant really won, but the criminal part is over. Here is part of his statement, elicited as a term of the agreement to drop charges:
I want to apologize to her for my behavior that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year.
Rape is so ungentlemanly. Sorry, sweetie, my bad. Don't know what I was thinking. You want to get some dinner, later?

At least we all got to hear the claim, by Bryant mouthpiece Pamela Mackey, that this was really all about race. She said:
There is lots of history about black men being falsely accused of this crime by white women.
Sure, that's true. There is also lots of history of rich men using power and influence to escape prosecution after abusing and raping women. The relevant comparison here is not to OJ Simpson; Kobe Bryant is simply another William Kennedy Smith. I don't often go for overblown accusations about "the patriarchy," but...

Another great day for American justice.

What Do They Think This Is, The Olympics?

If you were to try to watch the conventions (either the D or the R version), you might wonder if there really is a convention, or just an excuse for the network talking heads to preen.

There really does seem to be a sense among the chattercult that the events here are much to important to be left to the viewers to view or interpret. More important that they explain things to us, even if they don't know a darned thing and the chattering obscures the actual events. I have been watching C-SPAN, for heaven's sake.

Here's an exercise. It is interesting, and it may even be fun. Compare the following two web sites. Which one is doing the better, more accurate job of covering the Republican convention? (Hint: Trick question! It's a tie).

News Organization 1

News Organization 2

The Poets Down There Don't Write Nothin' at All

They just stand back and let it all be laughed at.

On Union Square, hard to tell parody from serious self-delusion. But this is parody.

An excerpt:

Soon our horde of professional rebels is joined by a local weekend rebel dressed in well-ironed Middle Eastern pajamas. His sign says, "The Destruction of the USA is a necessary condition for Peace." How brave of him, to engage in a battle of wits unarmed!

(Thanks to TG for the tip!)

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Thomas Frampton Comes Alive

You can find Yale Student Thomas Frampton, complete with picture, and turgidly inanely quote selected from Proudhon, right here. Is he guilty of being anything other than a narcissistic Yalie with a bad haircut?*

Yes, he is! He rushed VP Cheney, and then assaulted Secret Service officers.

A selection from the self-selected motivational quote, which was even more accurate than the young Frampton could have known:

" be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed, and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality."

Well, Tommy, if you get fraudulent credentials, steal a "volunteer" t-shirt, and then start squealing invective and run toward the Vice President in front of one of the greatest concentrations of security in history, then yes, those things will happen to you. You should have read your own fatuous little motto, dude!

You can find other examples of Frampton's sublimation of his guilt over academic inadequacy here and here. And (good lord) here. Don't they have to go to CLASS at Yale? Do you FEEEEEEL like I do?

*No, that is not redundant. Not all Yalies have bad haircuts.

Fiddling, Fiddling....While Carville Burns

What is John Kerry doing? Sure, this week he has to lay low, but he had a month between conventions. He spent it defending his record (all seven months of it) in Vietnam.

He is sinking in the polls.

The animals are out in NY, making the Repubs look rational.

And people who should be singing Kerry's praises are scratching their bald heads. And again. And again.

Excerpt from WaPo on Aug 30:

Carville's Complaint
By Howard KurtzWashington Post Staff WriterMonday,
August 30, 2004; 8:52 AM
NEW YORK--James Carville is off the reservation.
With the Republicans having taken over this city for a week, you'd think the Ragin' Cajun, one of the masterminds of Bill Clinton's nomination at Madison Square Garden 12 years ago, would be sticking to the Democratic script. A hardy band of Dems, like the Republicans in Boston, is here to stick some pins in the Bush balloon.

As the cohost of CNN's "Crossfire," Carville is no longer a party hack. But he raises money for the Democrats, gives high-level advice and is a certified insider.

So it was surprising to hear him declare at a Time Warner party last night that the Kerry-Edwards message is muddled. That there's no bark, no bite to what the candidates are saying. That the Democratic campaign is too timid when it comes to attacking the Bush-Cheney team. That too many people are in charge, so no one's in charge. "They're a perpetual committee listening to a perpetual focus group, and it's got to change," he says.

The campaign was particularly derelict, says Carville, when it comes to deploying John Edwards. "He's a racehorse, and you've got to get him on the track."

On the day the Census Bureau announced an increase in poverty and millions more Americans lacking health insurance, "the event they did was credit card debt," he says derisively. "Because someone in a focus group must have said something."

What the Kerry operation sorely lacks, Carville says, "is someone who can drive a communications message." This has created a "vacuum" at the heart of the campaign.

Carville has made this argument to the Kerry leadership and believes a change will take place by the time the senator hits the trail again on Thursday. "I know that what they're doing now ain't gonna stand."

The Louisianan has his own candidate for message meister--could it be Joe Lockhart, who gave up a CNBC gig to join the Kerry team?--but wouldn't tip his hand. He says he's talking about someone to win the news cycle, not a high-level shakeup. We'll see if he's right.

(Thanks to SdM for the tip)

Monday, August 30, 2004

Is Youth Wasted on the Young?

"In Presidential election years between 1972 and 2000, the national youth voter turnout rate declined by 13 percentage points (among 18-24 year old voters)."
"In 2000, 42% of 18-24 year old citizens voted; 70% of citizens 25 and older voted." (

The archetypal voter is old, rich, white, has kids (maybe adult kids, but has kids), has lived in the same city, and possibly same house (which they own, or have a mortgage on), for five years, and is well-educated.

Young people move around a lot, whether going to college or just looking for jobs. So, they tend to put off registration, particularly in states without "Motor Voter" registration. But even if they register, they are less likely to vote. Some of this can be explained by the fact that they make lower incomes, and are more likely to rent. So it is easy to confuse "young" with "moves a lot, has low income, and rents".
Controlling for those things, young people STILL vote less. (Can the kids be charted?)

The young are more likely to want to make their own choices, and reject the alternatives that the established parties offer ("I don't drive my father's Buick, and I don't vote for my father's party"). But this changes fairly quickly. Most voters end up pretty close to their parents, in terms of partisan affiliation.

So, does any of this matter, in this election?

Two schools of thought: (a) war and appearance of corruption of political system (the Michael Moore conspiracy theory of government) will turn young citizens off, or (b) war, possible draft, and experience of young people directly with government functioning badly will make them take an interest.

Predictions are tough, but I lean toward (b): I think turnout among the young will go up this election. But that would require that registration starts taking place NOW. Democrats don't seem to be working on this much, and since new youth voters are likely to vote Dem the Repubs have little reason to pursue youth turnout drives. (But see this chat with the Repub Youth Director).

And, there's always this. Oh, sweet mercy. It's a thing o'beauty: Huge men in tights, telling me to vote or they will sweat on me. I think K. Grease will need to be alone for a few minutes now.

I went down to the demonstration, to get my fair share of abuse

For the Naively Indignant and Chuckleheaded: A big week!
You should start this cheesy MIDI, for background, before reading further....
(Full lyrics at bottom, so you can do Kerry-OKee)

PROTEST EVENTS AT Rep Nat Convention (From WNYC list)
Friday, August 27th
* Christian Defense Coalition, 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., prayer vigil on 7th Avenue in front of Madison Square Garden. The Coalition has also scheduled a demonstration at Church Street between Liberty and Vesey Streets, on Sunday, August 29th.
Saturday, August 28th
* Planned Parenthood, march from Camden Plaza across Brooklyn Bridge to south end of City Hall Park for a demonstration, 11:00 a.m. to 2 p.m.
* Middle East Peace Coalition, Union Square Park, Southeast Triangle, demonstration, 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
* Green Party, Washington Square Park, Noon to 6:00 p.m.
* American Friends Service Committee, Central Park-Cherry Hill, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
* Falun Gong, Park Avenue from 44th Street to 59th Street, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday, August 29th
* United for Peace & Justice, undetermined.
* Code Pink Women for Peace, Union Square Park * South Side, 9:00 a.m. to Noon.
* Not In Our Name, Union Square Park * North Side, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
* Christian Defense Coalition, Church Street between Liberty and Vesey Streets, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
* Falun Gong, West Side of Park Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
* Falun Gong, 8th Avenue and 30th Street, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Monday, August 30th
* Disabled American Veterans, rally at main demonstration area, 8th Avenue and 30th Street, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m
* NYC AIDS Housing Network and Hip Hop Summit Action Network, march and rally from 15th Street at Union Square to 8th Avenue, north to 31st Street, Noon to 6 p.m.
* NYC Atheists, 8th Avenue and 30th Street, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Tuesday, August 31st
* NY Metro Area Postal Unions, main demonstration area at 8th Avenue and 30th Street, 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, September 1st
* NYC Central Labor Council, 8th Avenue and 30th Street, rally, 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
* American Friends Service Committee, Union Square Park, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
* "The Line," individuals from a coalition of arts and labor organizations standing on sidewalks along Broadway from Wall Street area to West 30th Street holding "pink slips." They plan not to interfere with vehicular or pedestrian traffic, 5:00 p.m.
* National Organization of Women, rally, East Meadow, Central Park, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
* Grassroots Coalition of Media Organizations, 52nd Street between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue; south to 50th Street rally spot; march to 48th and 6th Avenue, 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Thursday, September 2nd
* Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Union Square Park, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
* Westboro Baptist Church, vicinity of 30th Street and 8th Avenue, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
* One People's Project, Tompkins Square Park, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
* IAC/Answer Coalition, 30th Street and 8th Avenue, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

LYRICS--Can't Always Get

I saw her today at a reception
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she would meet her connection
At her feet was her footloose man

No, you can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
And if you try sometime you find
You get what you need

I saw her today at the reception
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she was gonna meet her connection
At her feet was her footloose man

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need

Oh yeah, hey hey hey, oh...

And I went down to the demonstration
To get my fair share of abuse
Singing, "We're gonna vent our frustration
If we don't we're gonna blow a 50-amp fuse"
Sing it to me now...

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need
Oh baby, yeah, yeah!

I went down to the Chelsea drugstore
To get your prescription filled
I was standing in line with Mr. Jimmy
And man, did he look pretty ill
We decided that we would have a soda
My favorite flavor, cherry red
I sung my song to Mr. Jimmy
Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was "dead"
I said to him

You can't always get what you want, no!
You can't always get what you want (tell ya baby)
You can't always get what you want (no)
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need
Oh yes! Woo!

You get what you need--yeah, oh baby!
Oh yeah!

I saw her today at the reception
In her glass was a bleeding man
She was practiced at the art of deception
Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need

You can't always get what you want (no, no baby)
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need, ah yes...

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Convention Metablog

Was it Will Rogers who said, "I never metablog I didn't like"?*

This is a metablog, a listing of blogs that are covering the Republican Convention. Quite a week. George Bush is going to have to run a bit more like a challenger, at least for a while.

At least his opponent, the already self-inaugurated King John I, is making it easy by refusing to take any campaign positions or talk about anything except his war record, which encompassed only a few months and ended more than 30 years ago. Has Kerry done anything since?

(Comparatively) Neutral

Of course, you could also go straight to the major media web pages. But why would you do that?


  • Main Convention Web Site
  • Bush's own blog (maybe he'll get a salad dressing next?) . Well, they used his name, anyway. I doubt he posts stuff to it, himself. He's not that big a reader.
  • List of Pro-Bush blogs


  • Kicking Ass: Democratic Blog
  • Talk Left: Fuzzy, angry people wearing pink glasses
  • The New Republic Convention Blog
  • Gadflyer: General "Progressive" Blog, but with Rep Nat Conv posts. Some of my favorite people, though of course their political views are quite wrong.

I'll add to these when I can. Have fun! This may well be the silliest week of politics you'll see for a long time. Anytime you have Republicans and a microphone, there is a chance for excellent comedy.

*No, he said "I never met a man I didn't like."