Politics: December 2003 Archives

Sunday Thoughts

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There's not much interesting going on; it's all mostly about Dean. And he is boring me right now. I could talk about how he says stupid things, but there will be plenty of time for that later. So this week, I'm going to be nonpartisan, I am going to be nonbiased, I am going to be non-opinonated, and I am just going to ask a question:

Is Howard Dean's use of the Internet something significantly new and different, and is it making a difference in his campaign?

I have a natural aversion to people saying someone is doing something "new and different," because I like to find similiarities in things. For example -- please excuse the comparison -- McGovern used direct mail in 1972, in similar ways to how Dean is using email (and in Iowa, actual personal letters). And certainly, coordinating using the Internet is not new: I went to an Alan Keyes event in 1996 in Philadelphia, organized over the Internet. To be sure, Dean's presence is more sophisticated, but online organization, activism, donations, etc. are not new.

So is Dean really doing something new and different? Or is he just doing it more successfully, more significantly? If Bush had similar Internet-based activities, it would be a proportionally smaller part of his support; and he won't get the "grassroots" donations and support because he is the incumbent President. Plus, there's the confluence of events, of anger toward the DC Democrats and the Republicans, plus the jobs loss and the Iraq war, that ignite those grassroots activists.

OK, so I did more than just ask the question. But I don't see much new or different here, it seems to me it's the same thing we've seen before, just -- in terms of the Internet -- at a greater level; that the Internet hasn't created Dean, but for the first time, the activists on the Internet had someone to, en masse, rally behind.

Followup question: would Dean be as successful without the Internet, if he had to rely on direct mail, newspapers, radio, TV? Perhaps he could get the same amount of support, but it would take longer for people to find out about him, such as when the debates rolled around? slashdot.org

Sunday Thoughts

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Howard and Saddam

Howard Dean says we are not any safer for having captured Hussein. But already we are seeing his capture lead to the capture of others, and the war on Iraq is largely viewed as key in Libya's surrender of its NBC (nuclear-biological-chemical) weapons programs (note that Libya went to the US and UK, not NATO or the UN, and that the US intercepted NBC weapons components headed to Libya recently, etc.).

And it is also entirely reasonable to tie the multilateral talks with North Korea to the war in Iraq. China would not be as willing to unite with the US against North Korea in formal talks if not for Iraq. The situation in North Korea is yet unresolved, but it is moving forward toward permanent disarmament in a substantial way that we've never seen before.

Of course, some of those things are not directly related to Hussein's capture, and there are other ways in which we are perhaps not safer. Maybe terrorism is worse in Iraq now (it is unquestionably false to assert that we know one way or another on this point). "Safe" is subjective in some ways, and unknowable in others.

The point here is not that Dean was wrong in his opinion, since it is merely an opinion, but that he was politically wrong. The point here is that it will seem, to many voters, like the capture of Hussein, the surrender of Libya, the negotiations with North Korea (if successful) are bad news for Dean.

And beyond whether we are safer or not ... last Monday Dean said he "would not have hesitated" to go into Iraq "had the United Nations given us permission and asked us to be part of a multilateral force." It's like Dean is out to prove to the U.S. voters that he is incapable of being the Commander in Chief of the U.S. military. The President needs no permission from the U.N. to do what he thinks is in the best interests of the security of the United States.

I know some would say, "well, attacking Iraq is not in the best interests of the security of the United States." That is beside the point I think, because he has said he would not go in, no matter what, without U.N. approval (the implication being even if he DID think it was in our best interests). But let's assume he meant that in the context of Iraq not being a threat, despite not saying it: how is that any better? So he would send American troops to die (his characterization) when America is not even threatened, if the U.N. merely asked it of him?

Joe Trippi, Dean's campaign manager, was on This Week, and he said their policy is to "let Dean be Dean." Dean's opponents seriously hope they do.

Speaking of Trippi: Gephardt has been attacked by the Dean camp because of ads run against Dean, made (in part) by people who used to work for Gephardt. Gephardt responded he had no connection with the ads, and that it is ludicrous to assert he did just because some of the people who made them used to work for him, especially considering Trippi himself used to work for him. Ha.

Ralph Nader

Apparently, Nader said he may run if Kucinich doesn't get the nomination. Why does he bother adding "if Kucinich doesn't get the nomination"? Regardless, I doubt Nader can get enough votes to be a factor this time around, since it seems like most Nader supporters from last time around are going to Dean.

Slobodan Milosevic

Last week, General Wesley Clark was testinfying in The Hague testifying against Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes. Milosevic called Clark a liar, and then he quoted General Hugh Shelton saying Clark was fired for problems of integrity and character. You never know how what you say may be used. :)

Clark then read a statement from Clinton saying Clark was a good man, and entered into the record. Clark looked almost embarassed to read the statement, reading through it very quickly. It looked like he didn't want to read it, but that he knew for the sake of his testimony, that it was best to do so.

There's no criticism of Clark in this, I just found it to be interesting. This certainly doesn't make Shelton look good, and he better keep his mouth shut for the next year, because he is now the guy who gave Milosevic a defense from his American accuser.


A Newsweek poll asked voters if the capture of Hussein makes them more or less likely to re-elect Bush. Voters, individually, do not re-elect people. They only vote to re-elect, or not. I wouldn't have even mentioned this poor language, except that George Stephanopolous mentioned the poll and they captioned it something which made it sound like they were being polled about whether or not they thought Bush would be re-elected, not whether they would vote to re-elect him.

Right now it is an even split among voters, 46-46, when asked if they would vote for Bush in 2004. But when put against actual candidates, his numbers are much higher: he is in double digits over all Democratic candidates, including Dean (53-40).

Yes, there are still a lot of undecided voters out there, but Bush's numbers increase to over 50% against all of these candidates, where they were 46% against an unnamed candidate. That's right, only 46% favor Bush for President, until you get the most popular Democrat against him, and then they go up 7 points higher. This tells me that all the candidates bring more negatives to the table, in a national election, than they do positives. And that's kinda sad. I am not sure if that says more about us, the media, the candidates, the system, or a combination of it all.

There's lots of time for those numbers to turn around, and polls are often misleading ... but for Dean, it is not a good sign. It's not just that the President has good positives right now, it is that Dean has bad negatives. That's going to be tough to overcome, especially when Dean is not really getting attacked nearly as much as he will be a few months from now, and Bush has been attacked daily for a over a year.

Lord of the Rings

The Return of the King pulled in a quarter of a billion dollars worldwide in its entire run, in its first five days. Only one movie has ever topped one billion, Titanic (which hit $1.8b). FotR hit $861m and tTT got $921m.

Two movies about low-lying cloudlike precipitation opened in five theaters, total: House of Sand and Fog and The Fog of War, earning $84,779 between them. If they combine forces, they have only $999.915 million to go. slashdot.org

Sunday (Lack of) Thoughts

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I don't have much to say this Sunday ... first, because I don't have much to say about Hussein and that is almost all that was talked about, and second, because This Week was pre-empted so I didn't get to see it anyway.

As to Hussein: I said months ago I didn't really care that we didn't have him, and when my wife woke me up to tell me we had him, I said "that's good" and went back to sleep. It is great PR, it is great for the mindset of the people of Iraq, but I don't think it will have a significant lasting effect beyond the psychological impact. I do, however, think the psychological impact will be enough to hurt Dean, so, yay. :-)

One more thing: on Meet the Press yesterday, Lieberman said, "this race has come down to me and Howard Dean." I wonder if he really believes that, because I am quite sure pretty much no one else does ... slashdot.org


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I don't understand why U.S citizens care that certain foreign companies are not getting access to bids on contracts. Heck, I don't want them to go tyo ANY foreign countries. I want American taxpayer dollars to go to American companies which will do the most to help the American economy by providing American tax revenue and paying American workers.

But let's assume for a moment that there is a good reason to allow other nations to bid. How does it make the least bit of sense for France, Germany, and Russia to say that allowing their companies to bid on contracts would be what is "best for Iraq" when those same countries have refused to do other things that are "best for Iraq," like provide troops and money, and forgive debt? When Gerhard Schroeder stands next to Koffi Annan and says he wants what is best for Iraq, months after refusing to participate in helping Iraq, who in their right mind can believe him?

These countries don't want what is best for Iraq, clearly, or else they would have been helping Iraq all along: again, forgiving debt, providing troops and money. But they've not done these things. So why else would they want the contracts if not for Iraq's sake? Perhaps ... for their own self-interest? Because they believe that these contracts would help their countries? They want to help France, Germany, and Russia, not Iraq. slashdot.org

How To Beat Howard

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I really think Howard Dean has only a very tiny chance to beat Bush, should he win the nomination. I think there are two candidates would have a much better chance than Dean: Dick Gephardt and John Kerry. I like Kerry better than Gephardt, and think he would appeal to more people, but his campaign is imploding, and that leaves Gephardt, unless Kerry could turn it around real quick.

So if I am a Democrat, and want to win the White House, I want Gephardt to win the nomination. Dean has many flaws: he contradicts himself often, he lacks a high degree of poise and presence, he has very few coherent and detailed plans. Gephardt has none of those problems. Gephardt is direct, consistent, confident, unwavering, and has an abundance of well-thought-out plans. And in addition, he is more moderate on some of the issues that the country is clearly more moderate than Dean on, especially defense and security, and he has a lot more knowledge and experience in international affairs.

Simply put, he has a better chance to beat Bush.

What to do to get Gephardt the nod over Dean? Gephardt must do well in Iowa, preferably winning it outright. He can't win in New Hampshire, not with Dean and Kerry -- both New England politicians -- in the hunt, but he can finish top three. If he does both, then in the next week, Kerry, Lieberman, and Edwards should all drop out and support Gephardt. Clark too, if he is willing. Put together, their votes can defeat Dean, especially in South Carolina, and from there it's a monthlong two-man race to Super Tuesday.

It's funny, many Democrats I know think Dean is the best chance for the Democrats. He isn't. You are mistakenly seeing your own admiration for him and thinking the rest of the country will think as you do. Some will, maybe even most Democrats, but the middle -- the people who decide the election -- won't. They will see his fumbling for words and self-contradictions as a sign of dishonesty. They will see his anger as unbecoming. They will see his desire to raise everyone's taxes as irreponsible. They will see his opposition to the war and the Patriot Act as signs of weakness.

The only way Dean can beat Bush is if Bush beats himself, with a horrible economy or big scandal; and while the economy is not a sure bet, you'd be foolish to bet against it, unless it was your only hope. But it isn't your only hope, because there's Gephardt.

Now, I dislike Gephardt. I dislike most of his policies, I dislike his manner, I dislike him. And while many other people will dislike him too (the main reason I would prefer Kerry as a candidate, were I a Democrat), they won't loathe him like will loathe Dean.

Mark my words ... you've been warned ... slashdot.org

Sunday Thoughts

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I've got an apparently sprained wrist, and it is in a splint; it is difficult and uncomfortable to type, so I will try to keep this brief (no, really, it would have been quite a bit longer otherwise). I won't comment on everything I want to, and I won't reply as much, and I will not flesh out arguments as I normally do; if I make points, they will be weaker and more unsupported than normal. :)

Howard Dean

Dean was on Fox News Sunday (with new host Chris Wallace, who conducted excellent interviews of both Dean and Andy Card). He amazes me every time I hear him. Wallace asked him about a radio interview Dean gave this week where he said "the most interesting theory" he's heard about 9/11 is that Bush was warned about it ahead of time by the Saudis. He said there's no proof, and he doesn't believe it, but it's interesting.

I don't recall ever hearing a Presidental candidate say something as irresponsible. No proof, no evidence, just "it's interesting." It was clearly meant only to impugn Bush, and had absolutely no other purpose. Wallace pressed him a few times: why did you say it? He said, well, because it's interesting!

If you were wondering what my previous journal entry was about (Otter wins), now you know. What I found especially interesting was that Wallace set up the question about this radio interview by saying many Democrats question if Dean is fit for the office of the President. I'd have to say the answer is no. YMMV.

Also, Dean was on Chris Matthews last week, being interviewed at Harvard U. as many other candidates have been (Clark is this Monday, on MSNC at 7 p.m. Eastern), and he said something else odd: he did not support repealing right to work (without joining a union) federally because he believes in states' rights, and that they should get to decide; but if he were given such a bill as President, he would sign it. This boggles my mind. "I believe the federal government shouldn't do this, but I would approve of it if I were in charge." Inscrutable.

Geneva Accords

The co-authors of the Geneva Accords -- a Palestinian and an Israeli -- were on This Week. If you don't know about it: it's a fake treaty by fake politicians (former cabinet members of their respective governments). But, it's a way to tell the peoples of the two lands that there is a way to peace, and to give them something for them to point at to their real politicians, saying, "What are you doing?" So hey, I'm all for it, even if I don't agree with the particulars. And I don't really care about the particulars, since, well, it's fake.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary was on both Meet the Press and This Week. I've not seen her on the Sunday shows in a long time, and now she's on two in a day. Kinda weird. Anyway, she was measured in her words and lacked some (though not all) of the inflammatory language she's engaged in previously. I keep getting the feeling something is going on with her. Gearing up for a VP nod? Merely trying to help the Democrats in 2004? Why all the additional exposure for her now?

Primarily, Clinton criticized the timetable to pull troops out, but conceded it should be done as soon as possible. But there is no "drop-dead" date for Iraq: the so-called timetable is merely a goal to shoot for. Attacking it by saying "we should do the job as soon as possible, but not force it before they are ready" is a straw man argument. The Bush policy for Iraq from day one has been to put Iraqis in control as quickly as possible, but not before they were ready. That's what she is saying the policy should be. That's what it is. Odd.

Tim Russert asked her about some comments she made in Iraq, where she (indirectly?) criticized Bush's policies, and apparently a bunch of commentators have been attacking her over it. One said it was "un-American." Her initial answer was reasonable enough, "I was asked a direct question, and I am going to be honest with our troops" or somesuch. But then she moved on to attribute the attacks to her infamous "right-wing conspiracy" (without using the phrase) and even said that it was directed by the Bush administration! Hillary: let it go. It makes you look like a crazy lady. You were doing so good up until that point.

She did say she shouldn't have called it a conspiracy in the past, but then she went off about how there is a "tremendous infrastructure" supporting certain "radical" ideas, and there are people in the Bush administration who are "working to implement (those ideas)." Wow. Call the papers, alert the media. She just sounded so completely ridiculous. This is how things have always worked, how they are supposed to work, and there's not a damned thing wrong with it.

Oh, but there's that little word "radical." Somehow that is supposed to make her seem right, and her opponents seem wrong. It'd be OK if it worked that way for her, because she isn't "radical," you see. It's only wrong when the ideas are "radical."

It's another example -- like with her colleague Sen. Schumer on the Judicial Committee -- of the Democrats these days attacking people merely for having "radical" ideas, when the real problem is simply that they disagree with those ideas. They call them "radical" just so they can seem justified in their vitriol. I don't know who they they think are fooling. Unfortunately, a lot of people, I imagine.

Newt Gingrich

Good ol' Newt was also on Meet the Press. He made an excellent point about installing a government in Iraq without popular elections: apart from the obvious -- we don't elect our President popularly -- for over 100 years, we didn't even elect our Senators popularly.

Gingrich -- who has authored the only consecutive balanced budgets since the 20s when he was Speaker in the 90s -- talked a bit about the budget, and said the deficits are the fault of a recession, a global war on terrorism, and the rise of health care.

That's all true. But how does spending money on Medicare help cut the government's costs? And yes, the recession was a huge factor, but there will be recessions in the future, and the debt didn't go down when we had surpluses, and even if it had for those few years, it still would have been up overall, and it would be climbing again now; the point is that if we have a balanced budget during good times only, our debt will keep increasing. And as to terrorism, the budget deficit exists apart from that anyway.

Then Gingrich said that we could be heading for a long-term deflationary cycle which would require us to rethink our monetary policies ... he didn't explain what that meant, though, in terms of the deficit. Does that mean we should be deficit spending? Why?

Mr. Gingrich, your ideas intrigue me, and I'd like to take your pamphlet and read more about them. slashdot.org


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The most interesting theory I've heard about Howard Dean is that he is an anti-American communist, in cahoots with the Cuban and Chinese governments, and the major opposition party in Russia, to intentionally destroy America from the inside, decimating its economy and its military. slashdot.org

North Korea

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I get quite annoyed at listening to Democratic candidates babble on about North Korea. They all say Bush is mishandling North Korea, but they refuse to say what they would do differently.

For example, the other day, John Edwards said he would not do what the President was doing; instead, he would put tough pressure on North Korea to agree to disarm. Huh? How is Bush not putting tough pressure on? Specifically, what would you do differently? Well, he says, I would sit down and talk with them. You mean, like we've done several times over the past year? Again: huh?

And Monday, on Chris Matthews, Howard Dean said basically the same thing about how Bush has wasted all this time and then described how he would do the exact same things that Bush has been doing -- saying he hasn't been doing them -- with one big exception: Dean would go bilateral.

Bilateralism is a policy that has been tried for years with North Korea, and apart from attempting it over and over, the only other consistent thing about the policy is that it has failed.

In 1992, North Korea agreed bilaterally with South Korea to stop all nuclear testing and development; so why did it need a bilateral agreement in 1995 with the U.S. (where the U.S. paid $4.5b to North Korea)? And if those two agreements were working, why did North Korea launch a test missile over Japan in 1998, and why were they transporting plans and hardware to and from Pakistan in 1997 and onward?

And why did North Korea in 1999 agree to stop their nuclear weapons programs in exchange for lifting an embargo -- that existed only because of their nuclear programs -- if the agreements were working? And why did we need another agreement in late 1999?

So the one change Dean would make to the Bush policy would be to use the same old short-term stopgap measure that has failed every other time it's been tried. It's like dealing with Arafat: the U.S. has tried dealing with him over and over, and finally said "no more." That's what happened here, except instead of asking for a new leader to deal with, the U.S. required multilateral talks instead of bilateral. That is, instead of the talks being between the U.S. and North Korea, they will include China, Japan, South Korea, and Russia.

The whole point of forcing North Korea into multilateral talks is that they can be more effective than a bunch of bilateral agreements, which North Korea has unilaterally ignored. The bilateral talks are a proven failure, because North Korea faces no real penalty for backing out of them, and so they back out at a whim. It is when the other nations unify against North Korea that they can, collectively, put real pressure on North Korea to abide by their agreements.

It feels good for some people to say the bilateral agreements failed only because of Bush's hard-line stance and "axis of evil" speech. But Bush was not in power when North Korea was regularly violating the agreements in the 90s. And if, as North Korea says, the only reason they restarted their nuclear program was because they were interested in defense from a rogue United States government, then why take an action that their only real ally -- China -- says is unacceptable?

Sure, China hasn't said it would not defend North Korea if it has nuclear weapons and is attacked because of it, but has stated, in no uncertain terms, that Korea must be nuclear-free, and China is bound to protect North Korea if North Korea's not the one who precipitates violence. North Korea knows the U.S. would never attack North Korea first, except if North Korea were a de facto significant threat, simply because of China. So why take the one action that China says "don't do"?

The whole point here is that North Korea wants what it doesn't have: food and money. It has leverage, and it is using that leverage. The U.S. could have continued down the previous path of bilateral agreements that were relatively easy to break -- essentially, give us money now, and we will break the agreement again in a few years and come back for more handouts -- or it could change tactics and look for a more reliable solution.

So, why has it taken so long for the U.S. to get an agreement? Yes, a bilateral agreement would happen more quickly. But a multilateral agreement will last longer (in theory, anyway). However, six countries are hard to deal with. Japan was stupid for wanting to discuss kidnapped Japanese citizens in the August nuclear talks, because it was only getting in the way of the nuclear issue. It is a valid problem that needs remedy, and it is reasonable to want to resolve it when you have some leverage, such as in multilateral talks. But it risks delaying or derailing a more important issue, so it is stupid to bring it up.

The bottom line in regard to domestic politics is that to say that no progress is being made, or that bilateral talks are the answer, is just being ignorant, or believing the voters are ignorant. Maybe the Bush policy will fail. But certainly Dean and the other candidates can't know that, and as it continues to move forward -- the next round of talks should begin this month -- it looks more and more likely to succeed.

If it fails, fine, we have plenty of other options, including bilateral talks; either way is a risk. In bilateralism we risk being back at the same place in a few years, or worse, a greater risk of continued violation of the agreements behind our backs. In multilateralism we risk taking longer to get things done, and losing out on political leverage if it fails. But the potential reward for the multilateral track, considering the continued failure of the bilateral track, makes it a worthwhile risk.

Maybe Dean isn't stupid. Maybe Dean knows his chances to win the Presidency are a longshot, that he needs to capitalize on the President's mistakes; so he predicts it will fail, knowing it won't hurt him much if he is wrong, but that it will help him a lot if he is right. That seems to be the most likely rationale for his statements, but it just points more to the idea that he is not the straight-shooter he wants people to think he is. slashdot.org

Sunday Thoughts

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George Will, Trent Lott, and others have been slamming "big-government conservatism." Despite some sneering about "modifying today's 'conservatism' with 'big-government' is redundant" (you know who you are), the fact is that conservatism has had small government as a cornerstone for decades. He who governs least, governs best.

OK, maybe it was more often in words than in deeds. Reagan was a proponent of small government, and increased social spending drastically. Government didn't shrink a whole lot under Gingrich's Congress, though the budget was balanced and the rate of growth was slowed a bit. But under Bush's government, disrectionary spending has tripled and spending per household is at the highest rate since 1944, when America was fighting a two-front world war.

And now there's a Medicare bill that -- even disregarding the complaints about government handouts to corporations, for the moment -- threatens to far exceed the cost of the war in Iraq, which supposedly was breaking the backs of the American public.

Now, as Will pointed out on This Week, Americans are largely in favor of "big government," so the Republicans must be in favor of it, too. Americans like Social Security and Medicare, which account for more than a third of all government spending. But that doesn't mean it needs to turn into a bidding war for the support of the AARP. Remember, when you accuse the government of selling votes to special interests, it is not just commercial entities.

I know that it somehow seems less dirty to buy votes from the AARP and NAACP than from the MPAA and NRA, but it is still harmful, and now that the Republicans are in the bidding too, the price for the citizenry is only going to go up.

Iraq Visit

Some people have actually been criticizing reporters for not reporting that Bush as going to be in Iraq last week. That's one of the most ridiculous things I've ever read. It's slavish devotion to supposed principles of journalism that have never been accepted by a significant percentage of journalists. Don't make me quote Sports Night to make my point!

Really, there is no journalistic principle that says you should report something just because you can. If it doesn't hurt anything to hold off, and there is a real benefit to holding off -- like helping to create a wonderful surprise for our troops in the field -- then there is no principle sacrificed. It's fine. Breathe a little.


On Face the Nation this week, author Garry Wills said the President lost the popular vote. I wish people would stop saying this. It is entirely false. 1. There is no such thing as a popular vote for President. 2. There is only one vote for President, the electoral college. 3. The President won the electoral college vote.

When people say the President lost the popular vote, they are either ignorant, or intending to impugn as illegitimate what is legitimate (i.e., they are attempting to be deceptive). Otherwise, there would be no point to saying it in the first place.

It is clear that the actual result of the so-called "popular vote" is meaningless, since you can't use what people are voting for (electors) and make it into something else (President). For example, in MA, many people don't vote in Presidential elections, because they know the Democrat candidate's electors will be selected.

Many people realize they are not voting in a nationwide Presidential election, but instead are voting in a statewide electoral election, and they vote differently because of it. I voted for Harry Browne in 1996, but if it had been a nationwide election for President, I would have voted for Dole.

If you are scratching your head and wondering if what I am saying makes sense, it does. Keep thinking on it until you get it. :)

So, we know the fact that more votes were cast for Gore's electors than for Bush's isn't meaningful in determining popular support. So why bring it up? What else could be the point, except ignorance (thinking it means something it does not, cannot, mean) or deception (trying to convince others of it)?

I bring this up every so often, because many people don't get it. I've heard many people -- including politicians -- say the President is illegitimate because he had fewer "popular votes." It's a lie. It's deception. It's nonsense. Using the so-called "popular vote" to say Bush is illegitimate, or that Gore was more popular, is simply incorrect, and saying it makes you look ignorant or deceptive.

I tend to think many people -- not the politicians, but most others -- who say Gore had more popular support, or that Bush is illegitimate, based on the "popular vote," are just ignorant. Most people I talk to about such issues don't understand social science methodology, don't understand polling, don't understand statistical analysis.

[Note that I am only talking about the vote. If you want to complain about the electoral college itself, or the judicial process that was used, fine, but I am not talking about that.]


On This Week, George Stephanopolous interviewed Democratic Presidential candidates Dennis Kucinich, Carol Moseley Braun, and Al Sharpton, essentially asking them why they think they have a chance to win. On the one hand, I wish they would be asked that more often, because it is tiring to hear interviewers over and again treating them like they have a chance. And on the other hand, it would get tiring to hear them asking them why they think they have a chance over and again, too. Also, it seems there's not much point in assuming they don't have a chance: let the people decide in the primaries.

So, like many other people, I am conflicted. I guess I am glad we have a little bit of what George is doing, but that they don't dwell on it much.

Tony Snow

I hate Fox News. I find it to be exceptionally sensationalistic, with low journalistic standards. That doesn't mean I dislike all the people on Fox News, and it also doesn't apply to one of my favorite news programs: Fox News Sunday.

I admit, it is tilted to the right: the host and "co-host," Tony Snow and Brit Hume, are on the right. Usually, there are three panelists in addition: on the right, left, and in the middle. These are usually Bill Kristol, Mara Liasson, and Juan Williams. This week Brit was replaced by conservative Charles Krauthammer, and Mara (who seems to be dead-center moderate) was replaced by Ceci Connolly (who leans a bit left).

Anyway, despite its slight imbalance in personnel (even without the host, it has two conservatives, compared with one moderate and one liberal), Snow has been largely very fair and balanced throughout his tenure there. It's the reason why you keep seeing many Democrats appear on the show, week after week, because Snow has been an exceptionally good host: one that leans unmistakably to one side of the political spectrum, but asks the tough questions to all guests, and gives all guests the opportunity to state their case.

Ideally, you don't know the political leanings of a host of a program like this (I cannot figure out Tim Russert's political leanings). But even if you do, they shouldn't matter, if the host is doing his job. And that's Tony Snow.

Now, Snow is leaving Fox News Sunday for a radio program. I wish him the best, and hope that the new host of FNS, Chris Wallace, can continue the show in like fashion. I don't know, or care, if he is on the left or on the right (I actually kinda hope he is on the left, just to bring more preceived balance), as long as he conducts the interviews and panel discussions in a similar fashion.

Who knows? Maybe Wallace will do for FNS what Jon Stewart did for TDS. Maybe a year from now we'll forget the name of that guy who used to host before Wallace did. slashdot.org
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from December 2003.

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