November 06, 2004

W is for Woo Hoo

Naturally I'm quite pleased with political developments over the past few days.

I spent the afternoon and early evening coming to grips with the "leaked" exit polls showing the President trailing in some key states, and wondering what that would mean for the country and for my little pamphleteering activities the next four years.

I had had a conversation with an astute Californian friend of mine (let's call him "Chuck," which he'll love, for simplicity hereafter) a couple days prior to the election, and he had offered the unsurprising observation that he thought liberals respected the office of the Presidency much less than conservatives do, reserving instead their respect for Democrat occupants of that office. He challenged me to recall how I had referred to President Clinton during his own administration, in particular whether I called him names casually, especially in mixed company.

I concluded my attempts at recalling the long-ago time of 1999 or so by asserting that I did not. In mixed company (meaning among peers of unknown politcal persuasion) I referred to him as "the President" or simply "Clinton." This is consistent with how I refer to President Bush in conversation, slipping occasionally into an informal reference by last name only, like I would refer to a football player for example, content in the knowledge (in the case of either a Democrat or Republican President) that ultimately, as a voting taxpayer, I was the officeholder's boss, and that as such I was entitled to the occasional verbal drop of formalities. When referring either to "Bush" or "Clinton," without title, I merely adopted a verbal shorthand which intended a casual disrespect in neither case.

Chuck recalled behaving similarly during Clinton's administration, and offered his observation that the liberals which naturally surround him in his adopted state do not afford a President of the opposing party the same general courtesy. While educated conservatives would not, at least casually and in mixed company, refer to Clinton as, e.g., the Philanderer in Chief, the average liberal has no real compunction against referring to President Bush as, e.g., the Commander In Thief. From this we concluded that possibly Democrats do not respect the office, or indeed our fundamental system of government, except insofar as they are the ones in power at a given moment. And, yes, we did note that this was a broad generalization not true in every particular circumstance, but preponderantly true not the less for its generality.

I added that I believed, based on what I consider the shameless and almost extralegal shenanigans which Al Gore employed during the infamous Florida recount, not to mention Janet Reno's lawsuit to overturn her Florida primary, not to mention the Toricelli maneuver in which he withdrew when clearly losing to yield to a more electable candidate despite such maneuver being in clear violation of state law, that many Democrats really do not respect our democratic process either.

So immediately before heading into my Tuesday night class, and hence going incommunicado for some hours during the initial election returns, I digested the early exit polls and wondered what I would write about in the aftermath of a Bush defeat at the polls. Yes, I knew that the sample of the early returns was weighted 59-41 female, meaning that a Democrat-leaning demographic had been likely oversampled, and that Bush may very well have been winning despite those polls. But maybe he wasn't. It was possible that that weighting was, unlikely though it seemed, representative of the actual vote. No less an authority than John Kasich, former Ohio Congressman, had said that a record turnout in Ohio would likely mean a Kerry win there, and I had seen just such a record turnout at my own polling station that morning. And the only credible claims of shenanigans which I had heard was the slashing of the tires of thirty vans dedicated to the Republican get-out-the-vote effort for Tuesday.

I called Chuck and suggested that a Kerry win was possible, and wondered what a loyal Republican opposition should do in the event of a Kerry win--especially if we concluded that the result was primarily the result of shenanigans like the Wisconsin tire-slashing reports. It seemed to me that to give this a pass, and to continue to take the educated conservative's approach in which the office is respected even if the office holder is not, was essentially to give a pass to election fraud and to hold it to be of no consequence to the perpetrators. To abandon the rabid Michael Moore claims of stolen elections and assume the high ground, essentially playing nice as the loyal but respectful opposition for four years, seemed to reward the party willing to play outside the rules. I likened this to our own government's insistance on conducting hostile military operations according to the Geneva Conventions, even when our enemy kidnaps and beheads civilians, a contrast which I don't think is beneficial--I believe that when faced with an enemy which abides by no restraints, it is only sensible to crush him mightily, even if doing so requires the abandonment of some of our own restraints.

Chuck suggested to me at that time that, as conservatives do in fact respect not only the office but the process, that--since the process would have been corrupted in the example I had proposed--we were excused from respecting its outcome (though of course we would abide by it). I found this generally satisfactory, and found myself constructing my own concession essay as the preponderance of what I knew at that time left me doubting a Bush victory, and wondering primarily whether it would be a legitimate repudiation of Bush's policies or a 100-vote shenanigan-burdened bare majority in Wisonsin which propelled Kerry to victory.

My excellent wife sent numerous text messages to my cell phone with early election returns while I was in class. While the early wins in, e.g., Kentucky and Indiana buoyed me somewhat, at the class break our Democrat-leaning professor called up the final exit polls from the internet, indicating Kerry leading in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, and Florida. My stomach sank a bit and I tried to come to terms with Kerry's now somewhat expected eventual win.

Continuing election returns in the second session of my class suddenly indicated Bush had a small but persistant lead in Florida, and Ohio seemed basically even.

I stayed up late watching the returns as they came in, flipping among Fox News, CNN, NBC, and CBS. I found it interesting that CNN and the others called Florida for Bush before Fox did. At some point, with Florida called but Ohio not, I called up Real Clear Politics, followed their link to a CNN-provided realtime vote tally reporting site, and crunched some numbers myself. I satisfied myself that, extrapolating from which counties were less than 100% reported and which county was leaning for which candidate based on partial returns, that Bush had Ohio in the bag based on something like 93% of precincts reporting. I posted a short statement to that effect, told my wife the news, and moments later Fox called Ohio for Bush. Good for me.

I spent the next several hours wondering why other networks had not followed suit. Brokaw's NBC did shortly thereafter. I surmised that CNN and CBS did not primarily because to do so would have made Bush the presumptive winner (presumptive because it would only have given him 269 electoral votes), and to do so would skew Kerry's expected legal campaign as the loser challenging the election, rather than an equal contestant piously insisting that "every vote count," which has such a noble sound to it. I refigured the vote count repeatedly, and found that Ohio's vote should have been even more decisively certain based on partial returns than Pennsylvania's, which CNN had called for Kerry hours earlier.

At this point I was fairly certain that Bush would lose Wisconsin, which had not been called, but was likely to win at least one of New Mexico, Nevada, or Iowa. But without one more being definite, Bush was stuck at 269 electoral votes, which did not please me at all despite the casual assurance of the Fox and NBC broadcasters that Bush would win as the House of Representatives decided the election. While this is Constitutionally legitimate, which is the only real measure of legitimacy in our process, it left open the opportunity for Michael Moore and Terry McAullife and thier ilk to renew their claims of Bush being Selected/Not Elected, which claims--however ludicrous--would provide a focal point in 2006 and 2008 elections for Democrats to rally round. Besides, I have seen at least one faithless elector in my lifetime, and I feared a 269-269 tie would consequently become a 270-268 Kerry win once some bribery or blackmail was applied to one of Bush's 269 electors.

I stayed up till 4:30 that morning, without a definitive winner, as neither Fox nor NBC called another state for Bush, which would have pushed him over 270 electoral votes. I stayed home from work on Wednesday, which allowed me to hear Kerry's graceful concession speech, and I recalled one thing I hate about politics as I watched him fight hard not to cry during the concession.

My very first political memory is watching Jimmy Carter's 1980 concession speech, at which time I was just nine years old. My childlike wisdom led me to conclude that I initially didn't like this Reagan fellow, as he had clearly done something to make this nice Jimmy Carter cry on TV.

I really don't like watching concession speeches, even when they are delivered by the candidate I opposed, though clearly that circumstance is better than the opposite. I've never really felt the need to see my opponents not only beaten but also humiliated, reduced to tears on national TV, and I watched primarily to ensure that it wasn't another concession head fake like Gore's initial concession in 2000. I was heartened by what John Kerry said, I genuinely wish him well now that he has not won an office for which I find him especially unsuited, and I am relieved that he generously chose not to subject the nation to a protracted legal battle (and a little surprised at his choice).

So now where to? I heard Bush talking about a "revenue-neutral" reform of the tax code, which I believe is grossly overdue, and a partial privatization of Social Security. I actually have developed an excellent plan for the privatization of Social Security which I believe offers a little something for all parts of the political spectrum--increasing its likelihood of emerging from Congress--and which I would hope forms a basis for the actual implementation. So, sadly, my political pamphleteering comes not to an end now, though naturally the focus will change considerably now that the election is decided. In a couple weeks, once the elation of victory subsides and the realization sinks in that there is actual policy to make in the aftermath of a political election, I will write up my solution to Social Security and proceed from there to the commonsense solutions we need for Medicare/Medicaid as well, with the hope that these or similar proposals will find adequate support in a now Daschle-less congress.

And, incidentally, my excellent wife made Victory Cookies for us on Wednesday, based on Laura Bush's Ladies Home Journal recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I have the highest respect for our nation's First Lady, and Damn! she concocts a fine cookie recipe too.

Posted by JKS at 03:34 AM | Comments (2)

November 03, 2004

why is ohio still not called?

Anyone want to explain to me the following?

PA: Kerry +130,800 (+2.3%) with 99% precincts reported. CNN called for Kerry hours ago.
OH: Bush +147,600 (+2.7%) with 99% precincts reported. CNN still considers this "too close to call." As do CBS and ABC, though Fox News and NBC called OH for Bush a while ago.

It looks to me as though there was a studious effort, in the name of "being careful" and "making sure we get it right" for several of the networks and CNN to avoid awarding what looks to me to be a clear win for Bush in Ohio, so as to avoid getting him to 270+ electoral votes on the night of the election. Mainstream media probably concluded from the Florida 2000 debacle that it's much harder for their boy to win by lawsuits after the networks have already declared a winner, and it seems to me they are shaping the battlefield in favor of the senator as the contest perhaps now shifts to the courts.

Posted by JKS at 09:09 AM | Comments (0)

My own Ohio projection

I just extrapolated all the vote tallies of the counties in Ohio which have not yet provided 100% precinct reporting. With 78% of precincts reporting, Bush has a 51-49 lead in Ohio, amounting to about 129,000 votes. If all the incomplete counties have their remaining precincts allocate their votes the same proportion as the partial returns, Kerry will reduce this gap by some 78,300 votes when all is said and done. This would leave Bush with a margin of victory of 50,700 votes out of 5.6 million ballots cast. This is pretty close, but not Florida 2000 close, and a margin that big will be hard to move via litigation after the fact.

We should be close to calling Ohio soon, and with it the election in favor of President Bush.

Posted by JKS at 05:36 AM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2004

one last shot

For the love of pete, don't forget to actually go out and pull the lever (or punch the chad) for W today.

I'll be offsite till 10PM tonight but will post some thoughts when I get home, assuming anything is clarified by then.

Just remember that one nice thing about the judicial-train-wreck phase of the election, which may well be fully engaged by tomorrow, is that there are fewer ads. I expect we're all a little tired of seeing those.

Enjoy your day, and in the post-voting phase, and no flipping over cars and looting like the (possibly democrat) clowns in Boston did after the ALCS. I've concluded that fundamentally the Republicans have much more respect for the process itself than Democrats do, and we should maintain that reputation tonight as we celebrate W's win.


Posted by JKS at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)