jazzoLOG: Three Last Minute Thoughts    
 Three Last Minute Thoughts5 comments
picture5 Nov 2006 @ 12:11, by Richard Carlson

and only 3---but if you're too sick of politics to read them this eve of Election Eve, consider that power often is gained or lost in the final days with a mood of such exhaustion.

The revealing photographs of our nation's leaders are by none other than Annie Leibovitz.

Let's start as usual with a few intriguing thoughts~~~

I always believed as a speechwriter that if you could persuade the president to commit himself to certain words, he would feel himself committed to the ideas that underlay those words. And the big shock to me has been that although the president said the words, he just did not absorb the ideas. And that is the root of, maybe, everything.

---David Frum

Ask yourself who the most powerful people in the White House are. They are women who are in love with the president: Laura [Bush], Condi, Harriet Miers, and Karen Hughes.

---Michael Ledeen, American Enterprise Institute freedom scholar

The most dispiriting and awful moment of the whole administration was the day that Bush gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to [former C.I.A. director] George Tenet, General Tommy Franks, and [Coalition Provisional Authority chief] Jerry [Paul] Bremer—three of the most incompetent people who've ever served in such key spots. And they get the highest civilian honor a president can bestow on anyone! That was the day I checked out of this administration. It was then I thought, There's no seriousness here, these are not serious people. If he had been serious, the president would have realized that those three are each directly responsible for the disaster of Iraq.

---Kenneth Adelman, lifelong neocon activist and Pentagon insider

These comments and many more, inspired by an intense interview with a major architect of the Iraq invasion named Richard Perle, turned up the other day at Vanity Fair's website. So far as I can tell these current opinions by the major neoconservatives shaping United States destiny the past half dozen years are not in the magazine's current issue...with George Clooney on the cover again. (I have a pet peeve about trying to find a table of contents in fashion magazines; this one's on page 40 and continues on page 56...with no pages numbered in between!) The man compiling these startling revelations is David Rose, an investigative journalist whose work also appears in the Observer. Among his books are A Climate of Fear (1992) and In the Name of the Law (Vintage, 1996). [link]


Michael Kinsley is American editor of Guardian Unlimited (guardian.co.uk), the Web site of The Guardian of London. His column appears in The Washington Post and Slate. In today's NY Times Book Review section, he supposedly reviews a bunch of new political books from left and right. But soon he can't contain himself from launching into the whole current situation. I'm going to give you lengthy excerpts---but don't go away: after this, I have fearless election predictions for you! Now Michael Kinsley~~~

Democracy is about more than just counting votes. It is about democratic institutions — legislatures, courts — and a culture of respect for them. It is about political egalitarianism: we may not be equal in any other way, but we are all supposed to be equal as citizens. In the American tradition, democracy is also about individual rights, even though protecting these rights can mean thwarting the will of a democratic majority...

We have to be careful about sour grapes. The current result of American democracy (though this may change on Tuesday) is Republican control of the presidency, both houses of Congress and (undeniably by now) the federal courts. And that, in turn, has produced policies that, unless I badly misjudge the demographics, most readers of The New York Times Book Review don’t care for: unjustified tax breaks for the rich, a miserable war in Iraq, unbelievable indifference to civil liberties (Secret prison camps? Torture?? America???), among other treats. But this doesn’t prove any flaws in democracy itself. Maybe it’s what people want.

The argument starts to go around in circles: How can people want what is so obviously wrong? Democracy must be flawed to produce an electorate so badly mistaken. No one forces me to believe what I believe. I believe it because reason has told me that it is right. Reason is equally available to every citizen. If self-interest cut the other way, that would be one thing. But the self-interest of most citizens coincides with what I believe, or so it seems to me. So in a fair fight, my side should win. If my side doesn’t win, that proves the fight is not fair. The other side is cheating.

Thoughts like this must have gone through the minds of most liberals over the past four decades. After all, apart from cheating, there are only two possibilities: either you are wrong (and need to undergo intensive self-flagellation followed by extensive reinvention), or the voters are wrong (and even to think this is a severe violation of democratic etiquette). It is unattractive to say or think the voters are wrong. But if reason has led you to a certain set of political beliefs, the fact that others disagree perhaps should give you pause, but it should not automatically change your mind, no matter how many others there are.

The notion of cheating by the other side is a way out of this dilemma. The voters are not at fault and neither are you. But what is cheating? In my view, the worst form of cheating in American democracy today is intellectual dishonesty. The conversation in our democracy is dominated by disingenuousness. Candidates and partisan commentators strike poses of outrage that they don’t really feel, take positions that they would not take if the shoe was on the other foot (e.g., criticizing Bush when you gave Clinton a pass, or vice versa), feel no obligation toward logical consistency. Our democracy occasionally punishes outright lies but not brazen insincerity. When we vote after a modern political campaign run by expensive professionals, we have almost no idea what the victor really believes or what he or she might do in office. It seems to me there is more than enough of this to explain all distressing election results without condemning either yourself or democracy.

But it is a complicated case to make. And there is a simpler case available: Not content to steal elections with dishonest arguments, the other side is literally tampering with the democratic machinery to steal votes. Democracy is about counting votes after all. We used to give little thought to the mechanics of voting, confident in even our lowest moments that we at least had that bit right. Stolen elections were the stuff of ancient lore about Chicago (“vote early and often”). Then came Florida 2000.

It is considered tiresome to complain that the White House was stolen in 2000. In fact, the ultimate triumph of the George W. Bush forces in the 2000 dispute has been to stamp any discussion of that episode as bad sportsmanship and therefore, in a way, undemocratic itself. You lost fair and square: “Get over it,” as Justice Scalia advised.

Call me bitter: I am not over it and don’t want to be over it. I still find it shocking that democracy was so openly subverted, and even more shocking that so few others seem to share my shock. “Stolen”? That depends, as the man said, on what you mean by that word. Here is what I mean. First, a clear majority of those who voted in Florida intended to vote for Gore and walked out of the voting booth (or away from the mailbox) sincerely believing that they had done so. Vindicating the assumptions of those who did vote about whom they voted for (a standard first suggested, as far as I know, by Jacob Weisberg of Slate) seems about the least you can demand of a voting system, and Florida failed this test.

Second, at every stage, Republican government officials thwarted all attempts to let democracy work in the minimal sense of the previous paragraph. Repeatedly, they interpreted the “discretion” that any public official must have as a license to produce the result they wanted, rather than as creating any obligation to do what is right. The Florida recount debate was a festival of intellectual dishonesty. On a whole series of technical issues (those butterfly ballots mispunched by the confused old ladies of Palm Beach, or military absentee ballots mailed after the deadline) there were plausible arguments on both sides. And these arguments had no obvious ideological cast. There is no natural conservative or liberal position on the dilemma of the dangling chad. So it is remarkable — amusing, depressing, not surprising I guess — how quickly and passionately Democrats and Republicans staked out their respective cui bono positions. But Republicans controlled the state and federal governments, so they got their way.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Bush v. Gore was surprising. Shocking, in fact. Probably the most fatuous — i.e., knowingly stupid — Supreme Court decision in history. The justices of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), who upheld racial segregation, could at least plead historical blinders. The majority justices of Bush v. Gore have no such excuse. Both as a raw assertion of judicial power and as a more specific interpretation of the 14th Amendment, it was not merely wrong, but spectacularly wrong in precisely the ways that conservative justices like Scalia, Rehnquist and Thomas had been objecting to for years. The justices invented a nonsensical equal-protection “right” — essentially, the right to an equal risk of having your vote miscounted — and held that any attempt to correct mistakes through a recount was unfair to those who didn’t get recounted. And then they declared this alleged right to be a one-time-only offer, like a grocery-store coupon. As Adam Cohen pointed out recently on the New York Times editorial page, the coupon has indeed expired. Bush v. Gore is rarely cited or applied in other situations.

It might be no bad thing if the Constitution’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws” was interpreted to outlaw the vagaries of voting, and not just Democratic victories. What we have learned, or been reminded, since 2000 is how inexact the art of vote counting is, and how far we are from what we presumed was the first axiom of democracy: majority rule...

Like generals, reformers and conspiratorialists are always fighting the last war. The idea that a presidential election can be stolen was the stuff of airport fiction until someone did it. Now and here on out, every election will come with a theory of how the winner stole it (just as, since Vietnam, every war now comes with a medical “syndrome” for soldiers to sue over). Although resentment over the actually stolen election of 2000 is remarkably muted, there is a noisy contingent of citizens, led by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who are convinced that the Republicans stole the election of 2004. “Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen?” by Steven F. Freeman and Joel Bleifuss, answers its own question with a resounding “yes.” The evidence concerns the state of Ohio, which would have changed the result if it had gone for John Kerry instead of Bush. The argument is that Ohio did go for Kerry, based on exit polls, then mysteriously went for Bush in the final result. “Exit polls are a vital tool to ensure election integrity,” the authors say. But that has never been their purpose, and the authors offer no particular reason to believe the random exit polls and disbelieve the actual vote.

The authors deny that their case rests on exit polls alone. “Far from relying only on the exit-poll data, we read widely and had countless soul-searching conversations with each other and with our colleagues,” they write. Actually, the whole stolen-election-2004 indictment has that echo-chamber sound of people having soul-searching conversations with each other. Richard Hofstadter’s “paranoid style,” exhibited mainly on the right when he coined the term in the 1960’s, seems to have been adopted by the left, as Nicholas Lemann recently pointed out in The New Yorker. It is remarkable that the chairman and chief executive of Diebold, the company that makes the voting machines used in Ohio, sent out a fund-raising letter for Bush in 2003 in which he said he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president.” This doesn’t prove anything except that the C.E.O. is an idiot. He’s an idiot if his company is not fixing the voting machines, and an even bigger idiot if it is...

The great flaw in American democracy is not electoral irregularities, purposeful or accidental. It’s not money (which, even under current law, cannot in the end actually buy votes). It’s not even the inexplicable failure of all other Americans to vote my way or of politicians to enact my own agenda. It’s not the broken promises and the outright lying, although we’re getting close. The biggest flaw in our democracy is, as I say, the enormous tolerance for intellectual dishonesty. Politicians are held to account for outright lies, but there seems to be no sanction against saying things you obviously don’t believe. There is no reward for logical consistency, and no punishment for changing your story depending on the circumstances. Yet one minor exercise in disingenuousness can easily have a greater impact on an election than any number of crooked voting machines. And it seems to me, though I can’t prove it, that this problem is getting worse and worse.

A few days before the 2000 election, the Bush team started assembling people to deal with a possible problem: what if Bush won the popular vote but Gore carried the Electoral College. They decided on, and were prepared to begin, a big campaign to convince the citizenry that it would be wrong for Gore to take office under those circumstances. And they intended to create a tidal wave of pressure on Gore’s electors to vote for Bush, which arguably the electors as free agents have the authority to do. In the event, of course, the result was precisely the opposite, and immediately the Bushies launched into precisely the opposite argument: the Electoral College is a vital part of our Constitution, electors are not free agents, threatening the Electoral College result would be thumbing your nose at the founding fathers, and so on. Gore, by the way, never did challenge the Electoral College, although some advisers urged him to do so.

Of all the things Bush did and said during the 2000 election crisis, this having-it-both-ways is the most corrupt. It was reported before the election and is uncontested, but no one seems to care, because so much of our politics is like that. And no electoral reform can fix this problem. Intellectual dishonesty can’t be banned or regulated or “capped” like money. The only way it can be brought under control is if people start voting against it. If they did, the problem would go away. That’s democracy. [link]


Finally, I have a forwarded email dated late last night from a friend at Harvard. It contains the predictions of an assistant instructor of government at the University of Texas in Austin. Let's see if he turns out to be right~~~

----- Original Message -----
From: David Albert
To: David Albert
Sent: Saturday, November 04, 2006 10:56 PM
Subject: My Official Election Predictions

I know you've all been anxiously awaiting my official election
predictions. This way you don't actually have to watch what will happen
on election night since you'll already know what's going to happen...I'll
keep this relatively brief rather than going into a lot of detailed

US House: The Democrats will take control of the House. I
think the pick-up is looking to be around 34 seats. I'll goes as far as
saying, I don't think the Democrats will lose a single seat that they
currently hold and will end up taking control of the House, 237 to 198.
(The most endangered Democrat appears to be John Barrow in GA, but the
direction of the wave will probably carry even the struggling Democrats
over the top.) I'm estimating that the Democrats gain 5 seats in the
South (3 in Florida - including both Mark Foley's seat, Katherine Harris's
seat, 1 seat in NC, and Tom Delay's seat in Texas), 7 seats in the West
(1 seat in CA, 1 in WA, 2 in AZ, 2 in CO, 1 in NM), 12 seats in the
Northeast (all 3 competitive seats in CT, 4 in NY, 5 in PA) and 10 in the
Midwest (1 in IL, 3 seats in IN, 1 in IA, 1 in MN, 1 in WI, and 3 seats
in OH). This totals 34 seats with the vast majority coming in the
Northeast and Midwest as part of a gradual regional realignment in which
most of the South (outside the urban areas) is controled by the Republicans
and most urban and suburban parts of the Northeast, Pacific Coast, and
the Midwest is for the Democrats.

US Senate: I was going to call this as 50 to 50, but I'm going to
go out on a limb and say 51-49 for the Democrats with wins in Pennsylvania,
Ohio, Montana, Rhode Island. I think they'll pull out the squeaker
toss-up race in Missouri (although this appears to be about the closest
race in the country),and the latest polls suggest that Webb seems likely
to defeat Sen. Allen in Virginia. I think that Tennesse is too red a
state for Harold Ford Jr. to defeat Bob Corker. The Democrats will also
hold on to their seats in Washington state, Michigan, the open seats in
Minnesota, Maryland (although Michael Steele has been closing in this
race and could turn into an upset) and Menendez should hold on in blue
state New Jersey. Republican Jon Kyl should hold on to his seat in
Arizona. Although, it shouldn't affect the balance of power, the newly
Independent Joe Liberman should defeat Ned Lamont in CT. (Lieberman has
stated that he will continue to caucus with the Democrats.)

Governor's races: The Democrats are going to pick up seats in New
York, Ohio, Arkansas, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maryland (although
Robert Ehrlich is closing in this one), and Minnesota. The Democrats
should hold on in their close races in Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa,
Illinois, Maine and Oregon. Republicans should hold their seats in
Nevada, Rhode Island, Alaska, Idaho, Florida, California (That's Arnold),
and, alas, here in Texas. Overall, the Democrats should gain 7
Governorships and end up with a total of 29 of the 50 Governorships.

Referendums: This is too complex to go into detail, however,
broadly speaking, I think most of the stem cell referendums will pass
including the high-profile one in Missouri. I think most of the minimum
wage referendums will pass by large margins. I expect that most of the
anti-same-sex marriage referendums will also pass as they have in the
past. I believe the total abortion ban in South Dakota will be repealed.

In sum, it will be a very good night for the Democrats. One needs
to provide a margin of error as to how far positive or negative these
races may go. I would expect that the Democrats will gain 34 seats in the
House (plus/minus is probbaly about 10 seats either way), 6 seats in the
Senate (plus/minus 2), and 7 Governorships (plus/minus about 2).

Well, that's my analysis and I'm sticking too it...well...at least
for now. We'll all know the real results shortly...


* David J. Albert, Assistant Instructor, UT-Austin *
* Phone: (512) 416-6995 Email: Dalbert@mail.la.utexas.edu *
* *
* The opposite of good is not evil; *
* the opposite of good is indifference. *
* -- Abraham J. Heschel *
* *
*"It is not your obligation to complete the task [of perfecting *
* the world], but neither are you free to desist from it." *
* -- Pirke Avot 2:21 *

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6 Nov 2006 @ 09:44 by jazzolog : Limiting The Damage
OK,make that 4 ideas. The New York Times is allowing us the teaser of reading the premium-priced columns this week, and Krugman churned out a dandy this morning~~~

The New York Times
November 6, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist
Limiting the Damage

President Bush isn’t on the ballot tomorrow. But this election is, nonetheless, all about him. The question is whether voters will pry his fingers loose from at least some of the levers of power, thereby limiting the damage he can inflict in his two remaining years in office.

There are still some people urging Mr. Bush to change course. For example, a scathing editorial published today by The Military Times, which calls on Mr. Bush to fire Donald Rumsfeld, declares that “this is not about the midterm elections.” But the editorial’s authors surely know better than that. Mr. Bush won’t fire Mr. Rumsfeld; he won’t change strategy in Iraq; he won’t change course at all, unless Congress forces him to.

At this point, nobody should have any illusions about Mr. Bush’s character. To put it bluntly, he’s an insecure bully who believes that owning up to a mistake, any mistake, would undermine his manhood — and who therefore lives in a dream world in which all of his policies are succeeding and all of his officials are doing a heckuva job. Just last week he declared himself “pleased with the progress we’re making” in Iraq.

In other words, he’s the sort of man who should never have been put in a position of authority, let alone been given the kind of unquestioned power, free from normal checks and balances, that he was granted after 9/11. But he was, alas, given that power, as well as a prolonged free ride from much of the news media.

The results have been predictably disastrous. The nightmare in Iraq is only part of the story. In time, the degradation of the federal government by rampant cronyism — almost every part of the executive branch I know anything about, from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been FEMAfied — may come to be seen as an equally serious blow to America’s future.

And it should be a matter of intense national shame that Mr. Bush has quietly abandoned his fine promises to New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast.

The public, which rallied around Mr. Bush after 9/11 and was still prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt two years ago, seems to have figured most of this out. It’s too late to vote Mr. Bush out of office, but most Americans seem prepared to punish Mr. Bush’s party for his personal failings. This is in spite of a vicious campaign in which Mr. Bush has gone further than any previous president — even Richard Nixon — in attacking the patriotism of anyone who criticizes him or his policies.

That said, it’s still possible that the Republicans will hold on to both houses of Congress. The feeding frenzy over John Kerry’s botched joke showed that many people in the news media are still willing to be played like a fiddle. And if you think the timing of the Saddam verdict was coincidental, I’ve got a terrorist plot against the Brooklyn Bridge to sell you.

Moreover, the potential for vote suppression and/or outright electoral fraud remains substantial. And it will be very hard for the Democrats to take the Senate for the very simple reason that only one-third of Senate seats are on this ballot.

What if the Democrats do win? That doesn’t guarantee a change in policy.

The Constitution says that Congress and the White House are co-equal branches of government, but Mr. Bush and his people aren’t big on constitutional niceties. Even with a docile Republican majority controlling Congress, Mr. Bush has been in the habit of declaring that he has the right to disobey the law he has just signed, whether it’s a law prohibiting torture or a law requiring that he hire qualified people to run FEMA.

Just imagine, then, what he’ll do if faced with demands for information from, say, Congressional Democrats investigating war profiteering, which seems to have been rampant. Actually, we don’t have to imagine: a White House strategist has already told Time magazine that the administration plans a “cataclysmic fight to the death” if Democrats in Congress try to exercise their right to issue subpoenas — which is one heck of a metaphor, given Mr. Bush’s history of getting American service members trapped in cataclysmic fights where the deaths are anything but metaphors.

But here’s the thing: no matter how hard the Bush administration may try to ignore the constitutional division of power, Mr. Bush’s ability to make deadly mistakes has rested in part on G.O.P. control of Congress. That’s why many Americans, myself included, will breathe a lot easier if one-party rule ends tomorrow.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

6 Nov 2006 @ 15:35 by Quinty @ : It certainly is a dandy

And I wonder why I didn't think of the "cataclysmic" fight the Bushies will offer when the investigations begin myself. Of course they will stonewall. Perhaps I (and others?) may have ignored that aspect of Bushland since just taking back one of the two houses of Congress has appeared daunting enough. I still don't know what to expect tomorrow. The lawyers, I've heard, are sharpening their knives. They may need to if the dead rise in Poughkeepsie or voters are turned away in droves in Florida or Ohio. I understand that there have already been some irregularities.

Krugman nicely describes Bush, in a succinct manner. A recent book came out claiming the Bushies snicker at the evangelicals. Some undoubtedly do, since power, after all, attracts ambitious secular temperaments too, even in Bush's White House. But Tony Judt in the New York Review of Books wrote a lengthy description of how Bush has put key evangelicals into many key positions, such as EPA, the Justice Department, etc. President Bush has been quite kind to the rightwing fundamentalists, even if some secular Republicans think they are yokels.  

6 Nov 2006 @ 20:59 by Quinty @ : Re your friend's prediction
that RI will go for Whitehouse. It looks iffy at the moment. Our state senator came by earlier today and told Ellen that from a 14 point lead Whitehouse has fallen to 0. Chaffee has been tarring him with allegations of corruption or incompetence (carefully worded) and the tar may have stuck. I too wonder if I'll be voting for someone for the US Senate who's corrupt tomorrow.

But I want to help make your friend's predictions come true.  

6 Nov 2006 @ 23:45 by vaxen : Ha,Ha,Ha:
Such maiden voyage hilarity! Do you understand the difference between vote for and elect? By registering to vote:



10 Nov 2006 @ 22:36 by jobrown : Thanks guys!
Thanks Jazzo for your never-ending Fight for What's Right -however "small" your Baby steps might be. MOST of us humans don't even "crawl" yet -let alone take any s.c. "Baby-Steps"!!!
Thanks, vax, for once again making "the rest of us" ( and certainly me, A-d), aware of what will make the Baby Step/s a little more "worthwhile" (read: conscious) and "how -to go about it" so to speak! Great link!!!  

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