Deep Underground with Raul Groom

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Thanksgiving is over, and while I was cooking for the Allende-Groom clan I missed a couple of key developments in Iraq. We passed a very significant number in the Iraq War, and I cannot say whether it was remarked upon in the press because I wasn't paying close attention due to my culinary pursuits. But here it is:

The first year of the Iraq War, March 21, 2003 to March 20, 2004, saw 582 American soldiers killed in Iraq. We passed that number for Year 2 of the war on November 24th. This means that the pace of American deaths has accelerated by about 50% in year two, from about 1.6 per day to about 2.3. If the current pace continues until next March, 850 U.S. soldiers will die in the second year of the war. More likely, the pace will accelerate as January approaches, pushing the number closer to 1000.

The last two weeks were the deadliest two weeks of the war; the month of November was the second-deadliest month, second to April by six or fewer deaths and ahead of last November by a substantial margin. The four week moving average of deaths moved above 30 and remained there for three straight weeks, the first time that has happened since the war began. The average will necessarily remain above 30 again this week, as this week (which began on the 28th) already has a higher death toll than the week it will be replacing.

What all of this means, clearly, is that the danger to American troops in Iraq is steadily increasing. The longer those troops are in Iraq, the more likely they are to be killed. Their presence for the better part of two years has not resulted in significant gains for the security or prosperity of the Iraqi people, has produced no benefits to American security, and has cost hundreds of billions of dollars over and above the money that has been spent out of the Pentagon's normal operating budget. We are farther from a stable Iraq than we were a year ago, and we are more isolated in the international community. The dollar is weaker, as is Iraq's economy.

Yet still there is no call for removing the troops from Iraq. Why? What will another year of death accomplish? How much longer are we to pretend that this was not the single worst foreign-policy error since Vietnam? How many have to die? Can we have a number? Five thousand? Ten thousand? Fifty thousand?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

One thing I'm seeing in the articles about these appointments that's quite revealing of the press' new "balance problem," wherein reporters use moderated language that actually renders the statements they are making false.

Check out this article from Maura Reynolds about the Rice appointment.

Reynolds uses a word reporters have been falling in love with for describing Bush's record - "mixed." When a reporter uses the word "mixed" to describe something about the Bush administration, substitute the word "monstrous failure" and see which makes more sense. For example:


Outside of the Oval Office, Rice's record as national security advisor was generally seen as a monstrous failure.

Although she earned the president's trust, critics said she did not have a strong enough hand when it came to another part of her job: coordinating policy between the various agencies and departments who together make foreign policy.

Critics inside and outside the administration said she was a weak coordinator who failed to rein in the Defense Department, particularly when it took the lead in planning for postwar Iraq, considered one of the administration's central failures.

Rice was also criticized by the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks for failing to alert the president to the dangers of terrorism in the months before the attack, and by other critics for overstating the intelligence suggesting that Iraq possessed nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

In the months before the war against Iraq, Rice acknowledged that the intelligence was incomplete but argued, "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."


Works pretty well, doesn't it? A few additional points from within this quote. My favorite sentence is "Although she earned the president's trust, critics said she did not have a strong enough hand when it came to another part of her job: coordinating policy between the various agencies and departments who together make foreign policy." What makes this so great is that you may notice that the part Rice was bad at - coordinating policy between various agencies - is the totality of the National Security Advisor's job description. The part she excelled at - proving your loyalty to the president so you can get appointed Secretary of State - is not in the National Security Advisor's job description at all.

Analogy time - I have this dentist, and his work has been really mixed. On the one hand, he doesn't know how to fill cavities or clean teeth. But man, are his jokes funny!

Allow me to exonerate the media WRT Hadley's nomination. Yesterday, when it had just been announced, I didn't see anyone making reference to Hadley accepting blame for the State of the Union. Today, a ton of reporters brought it up in dozens of publications. My bad.

I feel a little strange describing the Iraq situation only in terms of the American losses, but of the course the cost to Iraqis is much higher. Numbers can never capture the effects of war, but reporting from people who are there can give you some idea.

Here is one such report.

Another Iraq tidbit from Iraq Coalition Casualties - the three bloodiest weeks of the Iraq War are as follows:

#3 - 56 U.S. soldiers were killed the week of 3/23/03 to 3/29/03.
#2 - 65 U.S. soldiers were killed the week of 4/4/04 to 4/10/04.
#1 - 65+ U.S. soldiers were killed the week of 11/7/04 to 11/13/04 (the number is likely to be increased by a few in the next few days as information is tabulated about eh Fallujah assault.)

That's right, the bloodiest week of the Iraq war (in terms of U.S. deaths) was last week.

There weren't enough troops in country last April, when basically uncoordinated violence erupted among radical Islamic Shiites in the Iraqi South. Now the war is escalating; a coordinated, well-financed and cohesive counterinvasion force has been raised, and is currently sweeping into the north of the country, where until now we have maintained extremely low troop levels.

The active duty military is already deployed. The reserves are already deployed. The National Guard is already deployed. Yet we clearly need more bodies. Where, oh where, shall we get them?

To bite Andre Benjamin (later Andre 3000), at first the cost of war is borne by Hispanic communities and blacks. But then it spreads to whites and gets everyone's undivided attention, 'cause your son is up in it and they can't find him...

Lots to talk about, very little time. I'll be brief.

Ashcroft/Gonzales

This is actually a pretty frightening development. Many people seem understandably relieved that Ashcroft is gone. But Ashcroft was his own man, and had a certain crazy right-wing vampire logic to his approach to law enforcement. Gonzales' strength is that he's a Bush loyalist; thus his appointment suggests that his main duties are going to be 1) quashing investigations into Republican criminality and 2) using the power of the federal government to investigate Bush's enemies.

Bottom line, with Ashcroft you had ideology without competence. With Gonzales, you have competence without conscience. The first has dangers mostly due to omission (Ashcroft's terrorist conviction count - 0), the second is actively malevolent.

Powell/Rice

Moderate Democrats LOVE Powell, which was why he was used to sell them the shit on a shingle that is the Iraq war. The fact that moderate Dems STILL love Powell even after he played the key role - THE key role - in convincing moderate Democrats to support an invasion that was so crucially stupid tells you something about your average moderate Democrat. Namely that he is a professional doormat (and that he can be sold shit on a shingle). But back to Powell/Rice.

Of all the many, many pieces of evidence that have emerged to support the idea that this White House has completely fallen into the right-wing void, the fact that Colin Powell has become known as a "moderate" or even "dovish" member of the Bush administration foreign policy team is probably the clearest.

The "Powell Doctrine," which this administration dismissed out of hand as far too mincing and lily-livered for their purposes, states that when the United States identifies a threat to its national interest (the question of the definition of that term we leave to the side) from a small, poor country, it should saddle up a posse of several other powerful nations, gain the blessing of the Security Council (historically, a trivial matter), and strike that country with such overwhelming force that resistance is impossible.

That principle, which was first articulated by Grand Moff Tarkin a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, is the dovish position of pantywaist Colin Powell, the heresy for which he was essentially ejected from any serious participation in foreign policy strategy meetings. He's being replaced by Condoleeza Rice, whose standing in the world, where she has any at all, is primarily as an object of ridicule for her disastrous performance (almost universally regarded as such in every country but this one) in the 9/11 Commission hearings, after refusing for months to testify under oath.

The Rice appointment smacks of a common Bush MO - appointing someone terrible for a job that Bush wants done badly. The Rice appointment is, above all, an indication that the Bush administration wants the State Department to do as much as possible to alienate other nations and isolate the United States internationally so that diplomacy is completely impossible, leaving military force, as Bush revealingly put it in an interview with U.S. News and World Report in 2003, "our first resort and our last resort." Bush believes, probably correctly, that heightened international tensions, particularly between the U.S. and Europe, are good for him politically.

The Rice appointment is probably the worst Bush has made in his presidency, perhaps trailing the Goss appointment very slightly. It is hard to imagine what of the traditional machinery of the State Department will remain after Rice is through turning it into the PR arm of the Bush war machine.

Hadley/Rice

The only thing really bad about this appointment is the audacity of it. Most people have forgotten this by now (including 100% of reporters who have written stories about this appointment) but Hadley was the guy who finally came forward and took responsibility for clearing the Bush speech that had the bogus claim about Saddam seeking uranium from Africa.

So a guy whose main claim to fame is propagating bogus intelligence in support of an illegal invasion is now the National Security Advisor. Sadly, he will probably by a much more competent NSA than Rice.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Coming Full Circle

Cheery thought of the day - as many U.S. soldiers died in the ten days between November 4th and November 14th, 2004 as died in the ten days between March 21st and March 31st, 2003, the period of the initial assault on Baghdad.

Despite the assurances of Bush administration spokespeople, the trend since the fall of Baghdad has been a steady increase in casualties from a baseline of about 8 per week in mid 2003 to a baseline of about twice as many per week in late 2004. If you care to take a look, you can do so here.

By absolutely any measure other than whatever one the Pentagon is using, the Iraq war is clearly, consistently and inexorably getting worse.

But the most important measure is the human one. My apologies for coming at this only from the American perspective, but the Iraqi perspective is too depressing.

At the end of 1966, the U.S. had approximately 385,000 troops in Vietnam, and was losing them at a rate of about 350 KIA per month. The U.S. currently has about 142,000 troops in Iraq, and is losing them at a rate of about 70 per month. That means it is currently about half as dangerous to be an American soldier in Iraq as it was to be an American soldier in Vietnam at the beginning of 1967.

At the current rate of escalation of conflict in Iraq, danger to U.S. troops in Iraq will reach the level of Vietnam 1967 by the end of next year.

Little A16 story in the Post caught my eye today, dealing with alleged "anti-narcotics" efforts in Afghanistan. Not a blockbuster story, but there are some strange things in the article that don't quite add up.

Some of the inconsistencies are simply humorous. For example, the report tells us that proceeds from opium poppy cultivation amount to about 50% of legal GDP in Afghanistan, dwarfing any single legitimate sector of the economy. That's the highest proportion of any country in the world (and after Myanmar at 25%, there isn't really even a third place. Then, two paragraphs later, we get U.S. and Afghan officials citing the "danger" that Afghanistan could become a narco state. There's also talk that with time, Saudi Arabia could become an oil state. We're keeping an eye on the situation.

Other parts of the piece are more disturbing. Let's parse this passage:

"Enmeshing U.S. troops in drug fights, [Pentagon officials] say, would alienate many Afghans -- some of whom have become useful intelligence sources -- and also divert attention from the core U.S. military missions of combating insurgents and aiding reconstruction."

At the risk of becoming embroiled in the intricacies of black market economics, I think it's safe to say that the key constituency "alienated" by drug interdiction efforts is the crucial "drug grower" demographic. So this is a tacit admission by the Pentagon that a substantial number of our people in Afghanistan are actually heavily involved in the drug trade. Of course, that can't come as too much of a surprise, as that's the only sector of the economy that's actually functioning.

But if the resistance fighters in Afghanistan are truly getting their funding from the drug trade, and the profitability of opium production compared to other pursuits is paralyzing the Afghan economy, how exactly would drug interdiction be a distraction from "the core U.S. military missions of combating insurgents and aiding reconstruction?"

The answer is that actually everything in this article is hooey. Or, if you prefer, Pentagon propaganda. Here's the real scoop - it probably will sound like tinfoil hat territory to many, but that's no skin off my ass:

In any war, the key strategic objectives have primarily to do with resources. World War II became, by the 1940's, a war for oil as much as territory. In Afghanistan, the only local resource worth having is opium.

Thus the Afghan war, which is primarily being fought not by U.S. troops but by proxy forces supported by Pentagon and CIA funding, is primarily a war for control over opium production. Involving U.S. troops in a large-scale opium eradication effort would be tricky because they would need to be told not to touch opium controlled by "our" side. If such an arrangement were to become public, it would be highly embarrassing.

Instead, when interdiction efforts come to naught despite the $700 million we've just shifted to "antinarcotics" in Afghanistan, we can easily blame the local authorities, citing "corruption" and "favoritism" and other qualities which Arabs (which Afghanis are not, but let's not quibble) are known to have in great abundance as a matter of genetics.

In fact, the plan will have been all along to do nothing to curtail the overall level of opium production, only to make sure that it's our allies and not our enemies who are profiting from it. The same thing has been going on in Colombia for decades.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Little break from politics here - I was thinking today about why boxing purists hate the heavyweight division. It's not because of the corruption or the granstanding or the fact that there is this vast sea of nobodies and maybe one or two legitimate fighters who never fight each other. That's all of boxing, it's just the higher up you go in weight, the more pronounced it is.

Being a boxing purist myself I ought to be able to answer the question for myself. And I think I have.

The main skill that separates a good fighter from a regular person (regular people, a class which includes you and me, are varying degrees of awful at fighting, regardless of our delusions to the contrary) is the ability to throw punches in combination. Almost anyone can throw a credible punch, if you have some idea of the basic motion of punching. It's not a complicated skill.

What's difficult is to put three, four or five punches together in a row and deliver them all with speed and power. And if you watch the lower weight classes, you see this a lot. In fact, it's practically all they do. One guy jumps in, pops off a few quick shots, and tries to get out before the other guy can throw his own combination.

In the heavyweight division, it's very different. You don't see an awful lot of combination punching from heavyweights for several reasons. The most obvious reason I think is probably laziness. Almost everyone in the upper ranks of the heavyweight division can knock a fighter out with one punch if it lands flush. So there's no real incentive to throw five punches all at once. After all, you can't knock the guy out five times.

But combination punching was the main reason Muhammad Ali was almost totally unbeatable for most of his career. He actually threw a lot of combination punches, and it made for a very exciting fight.

So why, you might ask, doesn't some enterprising young heavyweight come around and start throwing combinations? Well, if you watch a lot of Ali fights, you start to see why. There are moments even in very lopsideed Ali fights where the champ is about an inch from being knocked completely into next week. It was his skill at getting out of the way at the last second that allowed him to be a combination puncher in a one-punch division.

That's the other key reason heavyweights don't throw a lot of punches in combination. Throwing a combination is dangerous because it requires you to commit to multiple punches based on some perceived weakness in your opponents' defense. But what if that weakness was imaginary? Now you're exposed for a second or more while you work through your combination, and as we discussed earlier, if your opponent hits you, you're probably done for the night.

What's funny about all of this is that you listen to announcers and they say the same thing every heavyweight fight. "Fighter A really needs to throw more combinations. He's trying to do everything with one punch." What I wonder is if anybody ever said that before Ali. Did people get upset with Marciano for loading up for one big punch? I doubt it. Ali made everyone crazy, including fighters. If you've ever watched Dannell Nicholson you know what I mean. Nicholson was this semi-talented fringe contender who had sort of a quasi-Ali-like style in the late 90's. Trouble is, he wasn't Ali. Watch his fight with David Tua to find out where that formula gets you.

What does all this have to do with anything? Screw you. I'm going home.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

OK, I'm rejoining the fringe. No matter how many times I crunch the exits, I get results that can't be correct (it would help if the raw exit data were available). Meanwhile, I'm unable to reconcile the official turnout figures with the total number of votes cast, and spoilage is not a reasonable explanation as the difference is somewhere between 20 million and 35 million votes.

I still contend that all Democrats who are desperately looking for vote fraud are in denial. But for now, I'm rejoining the ranks of the desperate. After all, denial is a healthy part of the grieving process.

I say all this as a way to introduce another one of my favorite people, the greatest sportscaster you've never heard of, and the single best anchor ESPN SportsCenter ever had or ever will have, Keith Olbermann.

He's a fair blogger, as well, and he has the only watchable show on MSNBC, CountDown. Enjoy.

And for all the really serious deep-down-crazy ESPN junkies out there, join me in a moment of remembrance for the most hilarious hour of sports journalism in history, the Keith/Evil Keith episode. Remember the Evil Keith beard? How did they do that? It looked so real! Ah, those were the days...

From Wally: if you're not familiar with the name Wendell Berry, please check yourself by reading this essay.

What does that have to do with politics, and how the Democrats can regain a foothold without capitulating to the New Asses? Well, if you don't get that, then read Thomas Frank's latest.

And if you still don't know, you better ask somebody.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Well, I did spend quite a bit of time the last few days looking at the exits. Here's what I found - the exits as currently weighted are useless. Someone needs to get in there and figure out the problem and reweight them.

The big red flag is the 2000 Voter numbers; that is, the people who voted in 2000 who also voted in 2004. Working from the CNN numbers the percentage of 2000 Gore voters who turned out was about 85%, which is reasonable. The percentage of 2000 Bush voters who turned out was more like 98%, which is impossible (people die, you know.) So whatever weighting they did no make the exits match the actual returns was flawed; it needs to be done again. Until that is done, we really have no idea what happened.

Karl Rove hit the airwaves this weekend armed with the weighted exits and pointed out some interesting facts. Actually I had to give Karl credit - he was the only person I saw on TV who clearly had spent some good time looking at the exits and decoding them. He pointed out the fact, which I have seen no one else mention, that Bush's entire popular vote margin can be accounted for by the 3.4 million additional votes he picked up among residents of big cities. That of course runs totally counter to the whole "God, guns and gays" theme that we're seeing harden into conventional wisdom.

Also, here's a tidbit for you to chew on, especially if you're despairing over the alleged right-wing social ethos that seems to be getting the credit for Bush's victory. According to the weighted exits (which again, I think need to be reexamined, but in my view the reweighting will only reinforce this trend) 55% of the electorate said that abortion should be either "always legal" or "mostly legal." Only 42% said it should be "mostly illegal" or "always illegal."

On the "gay marriage/civil unions" question, 58% of people said that same-sex unions should get some legal recognition (either marriage or civil unions) and only 37% said that they should get no legal recognition at all.

The reason this is significant is that it puts a little bit of heat on this idea, prevalant right now on the Dem side, that we lost because of societal attitudes towards gays and abortion. I submit that it is much deeper and more complicated than that.

The reality is that there has been a significant erosion of culture in the United States over the past 50 years or so. People feel as if they are losing their identity and their way of life. Republicans have been able to crystallize these feelings into a couple of key hot-button beliefs among people in the south and mountain west, but the cultural values themselves are not really partisan. People in the "heartland" ARE shocked by men kissing on television. But the idea of gays "imposing their values on the rest of us" is a stand-in for a larger cultural frustration.

What Democrats must begin to understand is that these values and concerns are real, and what is preventing us from understanding them and identifying them is that we see only the outward manifestation of these attitudes and immediately chalk it all up to rank bigotry.

There is a second thing that we must understand, and immediately - the DLC folks in the party who continue to tell us that unless we become more "centrist" we can never reach out to these people are 100% wrong. I could explain philosophically why this is, and I probably will do that eventually. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they used to say, and since the DLC began to flex its fundraising muscle in the Democratic party, we have slid inexorably toward permanent minority status, where we are languishing now.

These guys gotta go.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Understandably, a lot of Dems are in denial about the voting results. I'm seeing a lot of fringe efforts around the web to look into the exit poll data and identify some sort of evidence of voter fraud. Now, I won't prejudge those efforts, and I certainly understand why these people are upset and in utter disbelief, but I'm not really that interested in that line of questioning. If the Republicans really committed vote fraud so massive that it produced a 3.4-million vote margin nationwide, from a purely Machiavellian point of view allow me to be the first to say, "damn fine work."

Now, I know the electoral college is what really matters, and yadda yadda. But Bush's popular vote loss in 2000 was important to me, and I made endless fun of him about it. I believed then and I believe now that despite an EV win, there is a certain popular vote margin that should give the winner cause for pause, and at which point he should consider releasing his electors to vote for the other guy. The popular vote matters. 3.4 million votes is over that threshold, in my view.

However, I DO recommend that people start looking into the exit poll data. Not just Democrats, but everybody. Because I can tell from all the news I'm reading (you can tell I'm a true news junkie by the fact that I still want to read all the news articles about how Republicans kicked our skinny little asses) that most of the nation's commentators have not looked into the exit poll results to any significant degree.

I haven't been able to do a serious analysis and probably won't be able to until Sunday, but here's a little teaser to whet your whistle. Did you know that according to exit polls, Bush lost ground between 2000 and 2004 among rural voters? Not a ton of ground, but a little bit. In fact, Bush only had one pop-density area of his support that had a statistically significant change since 2000, and that was his ten-point pickup among big-city residents. Betcha didn't know that from reading the newspapers. Now, it's possible that since Bush retained a sizeable lead among rural voters, it was indeed rural voter TURNOUT that decided the election, but that's certainly not at all clear based on the very limited analysis I've done over the past two days.

The bottom line is, and I said this before, PLEASE stop bloviating about what cost the Dems the election. The whole reason to have exit polls is so that you can meticulously sift through the information they provide after the election and discover exactly what happened. The results, like all statistics, are complicated almost to the point of inscrutability. Attempting to do an armchair analysis on the basis of one poll question (the Moral Values question is getting the most attention right now) is completely idiotic.

So let me tell you this - if you haven't spent hours looking at exit poll data, you have no idea why or how this election turned out the way it did. We all know my skill at prediction is awful, but the fact of the matter is, my strength is analysis, not prognostication, and I am starting to realize that there are some fascinating facts hiding inside the final exit poll data.

Hopefully Sunday I can post my complete story of what really happened on November 2nd. Be prepared for a picture that's completely at odds with the one that's currently being painted in the media.

Here's the real problem in my case, I think. My dad always tells me that you shouldn't think about how to spend money until you've won it. It's bad luck, he says. Bad luck or no, I know I had big plans for how I was going to spend the energy I was going to draw from a Kerry win. A NaNoWriMo novel. Taking control of the direction of my condo association. Rededicating myself at work. Getting on top of the whole Father situation.

These are things that of course we're always telling ourselves we're going to do. But in my case, I really need to do them. Big parts of my life, particularly work, have been in a pretty serious state of decay for months. I think the last time I had a really good, productive week at work was February, right around the Dean meltdown.

Of course, I kept telling myself these past few months that all I had to do was make it to the election, since thinking about politics and polls and strategies was taking up so much of my time and energy. And now that the election is actually over, running the dishwasher feels like an unspeakable burden. A medium-sized load of laundry looks like a commission to singlehandedly divert the Snake River.

Today I had to change a tire in the rain, and I literally broke down crying because I couldn't get the damn jack out of its infernal little hidey-hole. I was sitting in the hatchback of the Subaru just weeping, because I was having a modicum of trouble completing a simple and objectively undaunting task.

If there's a silver lining to this (there isn't, but just humor me) it's that whatever boost I would have gotten from a Kerry win in my personal life would have been an illusion. Motivation can't come from external things, whether it's jubilation or anger or pressure or whatever. If you depend on these things, you're not really a person, you're more of a phenomenon, a precipitate of your environment. My task now is to find the strength to do what I need to do, and to find it within myself.

Though I do have what could accurately be described as deeply held religious beliefs including a yearning for something that could be called God, I also agree with Jim Morrison, who said loudly and drunkenly that "You cannot petition the Lord with prayer." However, just in case the Lizard King was wrong (he wasn't, but just humor me) I'll ask for just two things to come out of George Bush's reelection - let me find what it is about me that short-circuits every time I get close to something that feels like success, and let me never have to take my child to a wall and show her the names of all the tens of thousands who died for reasons no one can remember.

But that could never happen. Right?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

One of the (very few) nice things about today is that everywhere you go, people are talking politics with their hearts on their sleeves. And that's fun for people like me who wish that every conversation could be about either politics or sports.

Just overheard one of my favorite colleague's tell a friend over the phone "well, my liberal views balance out me centrist views, so I guess in that sense I'm a moderate."

I feel the same way about my fringe leftist views balancing out my views that have completely fallen into the void.

Dur-bin! Dur-bin! Dur-bin! Dick Durbin for Senate Minority Leader! Yeah!

Seriously, I love Dick Durbin. If he becomes Minority Leader, this will all be worth it. OK, not really, but it would be a step in the right direction.

OK, my period of mourning if officially over at 1:14 EST on Wednesday, November 3rd. Bush was the president yesterday. He's the president today. Bush was a blueblooded cowboy simpleton yesterday. He's a blueblooded cowboy simpleton today.

Though there are some problems with Vampire Elf's Clinton analogy, namely that Clinton did NOT start a crazy war for no reason with no earthly idea how to get out of it, I agree with his overall point. I'm glad Vampire Elf didn't abandon our country as it was ravaged by Clinton's maniacal balancing of the federal budget or his foolhardy international statesmanship, and I don't really have much desire to abandon America to Bush's nuclear brinksmanship or his faith-based war on personal freedoms.

Look deep and I think you'll see, as I have, that a lot of your depression today stems from the POSITIVE beliefs you had about what the John Kerry years were going to be like. I say, better to have all those hopes dashed all at once than over the course of four or eight years, stealing little bits of your soul so slowly that you hardly noticed, until you were finally left a pitiful, jaded shell of a human being.

Also, maybe the little piece of my heart that was ripped out last night will fall into a vat of molten Cesium and regenerate into a nine-foot barbarian Superdemocrat who will rampage through DC, leaving the eviscerated husk of the GOP in his wake.

Can I be held liable for that damage? Lawyerly readers, please weigh in.

So what happened? Well, in terms of what actually caused the election to go the way it did, of course it's too early to say. We'll have to analyze the voting patterns over the course of the next few months to figure that out.

In terms of me personally, I think to anybody who reads this space it's obvious what happened - I saw what I wanted to see. My mood this morning makes it clear to me that a Bush victory was so unthinkable, I never could have foreseen it, even if the evidence had been ten times clearer. Clearly I have a lot of growing up to do, and if I'm ever going to be a serious commentator, I've got to find a way to see what's really there. I've made two big calls this year and I blew both badly, with no excuse.

In terms of the implications of the result, they seem pretty clear. Four years ago, no matter what the apologists say, George Bush did not legitimately win the election. However, it can scarcely be denied now that a large majority of America shares George Bush's ideology. For those of us who do not share that ideology, we clearly have some hard choices ahead of us. As much as I hate to admit it, where George Bush is leading us, America wants to go.

Daniel emailed me this morning with a wonderful H.L. Mencken quote - "Democracy is the theory that people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." And as a believer in representative democracy, I'll stipulate now that George Bush has license to take us further down the path we are already on, that is - aggressive war, crippling deficits, and the destruction of the social safety net. This is the path we have chosen. Perhaps, as was the case with Bill Clinton and his Republican detractors, we are all overreacting, and the Bush presidency will turn out to be a roaring historical success.

What's not in question is that we'll now get to find out for sure.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Obviously the numbers from before are no longer operative, though you can still bet Bush at +3 if you're a glutton for punishment. He COULD pull 48%, really. Go ahead and bet it, please.

Monday, November 01, 2004

I have a ton of work to do today, AND I have to start on my NaNoWriMo novel, but I'm completely unable to think about anything but the election, even though I'm not really even nervous about the result at this point. I'm taking bets on Bush getting three points if anybody's interested. And if you want to bet Kerry laying five, I'll take that too, or you can bet either guy at KERRY 4 Bush with a 10% loser's fee. Money line on the Senate is Republican retention -210, Dem Takeover +170 (no loser's fee), and the House is off the board. You can get a line on individual Senate races on request.

I now have Kerry winning Iowa, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Colorado and possibly New Mexico. I really hope we can go back in the history books and revise the Karl Rove entry from "unstoppable genius" to "desperate loser" after we all get to watch him lose Colorado on a down-ticket bounce from Ken Freaking Salazar, who is about as exciting as a dry washcloth.

That is all.