Monday, November 15, 2004

Good Riddance

Bill Safire is finally giving up his New York Times column. He won't be missed. For 30 years he's been the biggest pimp in the business. He was Nixon's bitch. He was Kissinger's bitch. He's been Sharon's bitch for years. Now the question is whether the Times turns over his slot to another neocon hack.

...They Just Fade Away

Another indication of the neocons consolidation of power in the second Bush Administration. Powell's resignation, had it occurred at any number of critical junctures over the last two years, could have meant something. As it is, it's just a concession of defeat offered to his neocon opponents.

Powell was nothing more than a useful idiot in Bush's "I'm a moderate" charade. He was a beard, nothing more, and as such his resignation merits notice only because it unmistakably signals the absolute ascendancy of the neocons.

I will give Colin his props in one respect, however. He would on occasion tell the truth. He would on occasion forego the lies the media charitably characterize as spin and, whether out of principle or his own sense of dignity, acknowledge the truth. He did so on May 16, 2004 following a humiliating attempt by his staff to silence the Secretary of State in the middle of an appearance on Meet The Press. After Powell insisted that the interview continue, the following exchange between Russert and Powell took place:

RUSSERT: How concerned are you that some of the information you shared with the world is now inaccurate and discredited?

POWELL: I'm very concerned. When I made that presentation in February 2003, it was based on the best information that the Central Intelligence Agency made available to me. We studied it carefully. We looked at the sourcing and the case of the mobile trucks and trains. There was multiple sourcing for that. Unfortunately, that multiple sourcing over time has turned out to be not accurate, and so I'm deeply disappointed.

But I'm also comfortable that at the time that I made the presentation it reflected the collective judgment, the sound judgment, of the intelligence community, but it turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading. And for that I'm disappointed, and I regret it.
One needn't be particularly imaginative to speculate as to the response Rumsfeld or Cheney might have offered - most likely a condescending lecture about how "the world isn't perfect, Tim." Powell's expression of disappointment and regret was an admission of culpability that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld would never have the decency to acknowledge.

Goodbye, Colin. It would have been nice had you remained in office as a counterweight against the neocon cabal, but you'd already demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to act as that counterweight. Enjoy your board memberships, honoraria and celebrity. And console yourself that you were right on Iraq and the neocons were wrong. But are you satisfied that you did all you could have done to avert this catastrophe?

It took McNamara nearly 30 years to finally tell the American people the truth about Vietnam. How long will it take you to tell the truth about Iraq, Sec. Powell?

P.S. I can't quite believe what I just saw. As I was finishing this post Powell came to the podium at the State Dept. to make a statement and take a few questions. As the first question was being asked the camera swung away from Powell and focused for a period of perhaps 8 seconds on the entrance to the press room - an incident eerily reminiscent of the Meet The Press contretemps.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Failure In Fallujah

In terms of the primary objective of Operation Phantom Fury - destroying or substantially impairing the insurgency - we are again failing to effectively engage the insurgency. Provided with ample opportunity to prepare, courtesy of Bush's policy of trumpeting action in Fallujah pre-election but delaying the body bags until after, the insurgency was able to booby-trap Fallujah and establish escape routes. It is apparent that we will again take territory, in the process incurring heavy casualties due to IEDs and boobytraps, but do nothing to degrade the ability of the insurgents to return in force once we leave. And if we don't leave Fallujah, the insurgents will merely occupy whatever territory we vacated in order to take Fallujah.

In terms of the secondary objective of Operation Phantom Fury - improving prospects for January elections in Iraq - the operation is already officially a failure. The Iraqi Islamic Party, the largest Sunni party in the Iraqi government, has withdrawn from Allawi's government. Iraq's pre-eminent association of Sunni clerics has called for a Sunni boycott of the upcoming election. President Ghazi al-Yawir is vehemently opposed to the Fallujah action, likening it to "shooting horses to kill horseflies." If, as appears likely, Sunnis organize a functional boycott, the legitimacy of the election will be fatally undermined.

There are no significant reports of killed or captured insurgents. Past experience with Pentagon casualty figures indicates that any dead Iraqi is deemed an insurgent, and therefore official Pentagon Kill Counts should be heavily discounted in assessing damage to the insurgency.

We are not killing or capturing insurgents in numbers large enough to materially impair the insurgency. We are rapidly losing Iraqi hearts and minds. There is now no possibility of nationwide elections in Iraq in January, and the prospect of elections anytime in the foreseeable future that enjoy popular support and participation is rapidly receding.

How and when do we get out of Iraq? How many lives are we willing to expend just to save face?

Sunday, November 07, 2004

We're On To Something

The New York Times appears willing to believe anything. I'm not.

Didn't anyone at the Times bother to check the 2000 election returns in these rural counties? If they had, they would have noticed that Bush had massive majorities in these counties in 2000 as well, only marginally less significant than in 2004. Does the Times really believe that the Bush campaign decided as a strategic matter to focus on counties that were already ostensibly pro-Bush, and that the key to victory lay in increasing the Bush vote in these counties from the high 50's (as in 2000) to 64% (the Bush vote in the counties in Florida where 20,000 or fewer votes were cast)? It's ridiculous. For the Times, it's worse than ridiculous - it's proof of the crackbrained gullibility of certain reporters for the nation's putative premier press organ.

But the Times article is welcome in one respect. It demonstrates that Rove and the Bushies are a little concerned, a little worried that these outlandish results in rural Florida are arousing suspicion.

A note on the "Dixiecrat" theory - the theory that these rural counties exhibited the same proclivity democrats exhibit across the south of voting republican in presidential elections. This tendency is undeniable, but far less pronounced today than in the days of Nixon and Reagan. Here are the party affiliation numbers for a number of deep-south states:


The Dixiecrats have been switching parties for years. The deep-south state that gave Bush the biggest majority - Alabama, 63% - now has more registered republicans than democrats. There is still a significant "dixiecrat" vote in Alabama, as evidenced by the huge Bush majority in a state that now has approximately the same number of registered republicans and democrats.

But there were numerous small, rural counties in Florida that were 2 to 1 democrat but voted more than 2 to 1 for Bush. This kind of massive crossover cannot be found in any of the deep-south states. The crossover vote in these rural Florida counties is an order of magnitude greater than the crossover vote in any of the deep-south states.

This stinks like a dead manatee.

We simply have to get this into the mainstream media. I'm calling Dale Van Natta, whose by-line is on this morning's Times article, and this is my message: you simply can't explain these kinds of massive Bush majorities in democratic counties by arguing that the Bushies revved up their base, or that this is just another example of dixiecrat crossover. It doesn't wash.

It's time to get this in high gear. Kos has picked up the story. Calpundit and Atrios have to pick it up soon. There was something rotten in Baker county. And Dixie county. And Liberty county. And more than 20 other rural Florida counties.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Where To Look For Vote Fraud? I Know Where I'm Looking!


Dwight Meredith, of the "Wampum" website, has made a number of good points and prompted me to sharpen the analysis of the 2004 Florida voting results that I first covered in my prior posts "Classic Rovian Misdirection" and "Ohio Was A Diversion." Thanks Dwight.

Dwight points out that in rural areas of Florida voters tend to be "dixiecrats", i.e., registered democrats who habitually vote republican. This is absolutely true in rural counties in Florida, just as it is true throughout the south. But what is surprising is not that these counties would support Bush, but that they did so in 2004 in numbers so startlingly different than in the last pre-Bush presidential election: 1996. Here are the 1996 election results for the small, rural counties that I cited in my prior post:

What is striking is that Clinton won most of these counties in 1996. Even assuming that most (say, 70%) of Perot votes came from Dole, Clinton still would have won many of these counties and ran strong in most others even without the Perot factor. Compare to this table which shows Bush winning by better than 2 to 1 in eleven of these 26 counties. Man, that's a seismic shift in voting patterns.

What is even more striking is that the difference between 1996 and 2000 is almost as great. Gore, although running ahead of Clinton's 1996 pace statewide, got clobbered in these counties. We can all agree that John Kerry would not fair as well as Bill Clinton in these Florida counties, but Gore should have faired nearly as well as Clinton. He's southern, and actually received a higher percentage of the vote in Florida than Clinton did in 1996. What was the big difference between 1996 and 2000? The Bushies. (Optical scans certainly were in much wider use in 2000 than in 1996, but were common in Florida in 1996.)

These kinds of apparent voting abberations don't prove anything, but they do suggest that other factors may be at work. My point is not that this proves fraud, but that this information, considered with other evidence, suggests that the small Florida counties are where we should be looking for vote fraud.

Dwight also makes the point that the Florida supervisors of elections in the various small, heavily democratic counties should be democrats. Perhaps, but the concern here should be the optical scan machines, and any fraud would likely be the product of systematic manipulation of the op-scan machines or software, not vote-rigging by the county election officials.

Dwight also suggests that these counties were "fine-toothed" in 2000, but that's not really the case. What's required here is manual recounts, and the 2000 manual recounts were limited to those large counties where Gore and the democrats expected to mine large deposits of undercounts. These small counties were not manually recounted.

Rove didn't want us looking in Florida. Where did you keep hearing the phrase "Ohio could be the Florida of 2004"? The cable news networks, Rove's echo chamber. Hell, Florida is the state where the President's brother is governor, where things were so messed up in 2000, where Jeb Bush was caught earlier this year screwing with the felon purge list. Rove was delighted for the media to be suggesting that any place other than Florida might be the "Florida of 2004." Where did the republicans engage in a massive pre-election litigation campaign? Ohio. Where did they make a big stink about "challengers" being present at the polling places? Ohio. Was it because they expected Ohio to be tight? Well, as a matter of fact, Bush was looking pretty good in Ohio, up by a few points in most polls, whereas things were tighter in the pre-election polls in Florida. Just check out for confirmation of this, where their poll-of-polls had Bush up by an average of more than 2 points in Ohio, but by only half a point in Florida. Florida is where they expected the tightest race. The 5 point margin in Florida must have surprised the hell out of even Rove.

Or perhaps it didn't surprise Karl at all.

Ohio was just a diversion. Florida is where we're most likely to find vote fraud, aided and abetted by the prez's younger bro. And it's in the small counties where no one is paying attention. As one of my more historically astute friends points out, when Landslide Lyndon Johnson stole the 1948 senate election in Texas, he didn't fool with Houston and Dallas - he manipulated the vote in the small, rural Texas counties.

Remember, this isn't about a recount. As Dwight notes, the number of votes in these small counties won't amount to enough to permit Kerry to overcome a deficit of hundreds of thousands of votes in Florida. No, this is about revealing vote fraud in Florida. It's about whether the Bushies attempted to steal this election, regardless of whether or not they succeeded.

The Election Is Over. Now For The Harsh Realities - In Fallujah And At Home

My pro-war friends are up in arms. No, not "arms" as in weapons - they're too good to do the fighting in Iraq. No, they're upset because they believe John Kerry tried to scare people about a draft. To which I respond: if the truth is scary, so be it. To paraphrase Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Kerry wasn't trying to scare the kids; this President's foreign policy is what's scaring the kids of this country.

It is important that we discuss this now because coalition forces are about to engage in a massive offensive in Fallujah, an offensive that can only have two results: a brutalization of the innocent Iraqis in Fallujah that causes the metastasis of the insurgency or, worse, door-to-door and hand-to-hand combat that will be effective in rooting out the insurgency but at a cost in American lives so grievous as to shock the conscience of the nation. Either way, the consequences of Rumsfeld's failed "war-lite" strategy will be exacerbated. We are about to increase the scope and intensity of the war. Where will we get the troops?

Let me directly address my pro-war friends. Would you fault John Kerry for "scaring" people if his warnings of a draft were well grounded? Would you fault Kerry for scaring people if his warnings about a draft were intended to fairly respond to the Administration's untenable twin positions: we will do whatever is necessary to prevail in Iraq, but we will not institute a draft to address the single most needed asset in Iraq - more troops.

I assume you're criticizing Kerry because you believe his warnings of the potential for a draft are not well founded, and therefore his warnings nothing more than fearmongering. But it is obvious that, given the circumstances that obtain today, a draft is far closer to an inevitability than a baseless, fearmongering tactic.

Do you really believe that we can continue indefinitely to rotate the same 140,000 or so troops through Iraq? Coalition members are announcing withdrawal dates monthly, and replacements from the international community are not forthcoming. Enlistment rates are falling short of goals and are declining - even prior to the report that 19 U.S. troops declined a "suicide mission" because of the lack of adequate armor and equipment.

The Defense Science Board, a group of outside defense experts commissioned by Rumsfeld, have reported that inadequate total numbers of troops mean that the United States "cannot sustain our current and projected global stabilization commitments."

And yet the Administration continues to insist that a draft will not be instituted. Let's face facts. In light of our inability to secure international support, our inability to pacify Iraq and therefore draw down our forces, and our inability to sustain necessary force levels by means of enlistment, there is only one basis for the Administration's claim that a draft will not be necessary: Iraqification.

We could discuss the viability of an "Iraqification" policy, but it is so absurd as to not merit a moment's thought.

This president and the pentagon are assuring us that no draft will be necessary and disparaging the views of anyone who suggests otherwise on the basis of nothing more than the hope that we will be able to draw an inside straight by implementing the policy that failed so disastrously in Vietnam.

Can you give me one other means other than Iraqification that would permit us to sustain necessary troop levels for a commitment the Administration measures in years? If not, do you really believe that Iraqification will work? Are you aware that our Iraqification strategy last spring in in response to the expanding insurgency resulted in rates of Iraqi desertion - and worse, defection to the insurgents - so great that we scrapped the whole idea in a matter of days?

The day when we expect the political opposition to refrain from criticizing ridiculous and dishonest government policies and pronouncements (such as the Administration's baseless assurances that a draft will not under any circumstances be necessary) rather than arouse due concern among the American people is the day we can just scrap democracy altogether.

This is a serious subject. I'm really attempting to lighten up and reduce my boorishness quotient, but this is one subject that hits pretty fucking close to home. I'd really like to hear the views of my pro-war friends on whether Iraqification can work, and whether there any viable alternatives to a draft if it doesn't work. Unfortunately, however, they appear to this point more inclined to transpose the Bush campaign tactic of distortion and puerile ridicule to any attempted serious discussion of the immediate future of our children.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Classic Rovian Misdirection

Here are some hard facts about Florida's voting.

It wasn't the touchscreen, paperless voting that produced the anomolous results. It was the optical scan voting in very small Florida counties that produced an amazing number of huge Bush majorities in counties in which the overwhelming majority of registered voters are democrats.

The following table is a list of all the counties in Florida in which there were approximately 20,000 or fewer votes cast. What you see over and over again is that counties with huge majorities of registered democrats voted overwhelmingly republican. If you focus on the percentages in the leftmost column, the "percent change" is the amount by which actual votes cast exceed the vote that would have been projected by assuming that each voter in the county voted in accordance with their party affiliation. A "100%" or higher figure for republicans indicates a huge Bush majority in a county that was overwhelmingly comprised of registered democrats. This phenomenon is simply not observed in the larger counties. Only two counties in which 20,000 or more votes were cast had a 100% republican vote variation from the projected vote based on party affiliation (and both of those counties, Columbia and Putnam, were also relaively small, i.e., approximately 30,000 or fewer votes cast), and yet every single county in Florida in which 20,000 or fewer votes were cast exhibited a 90% pro-Bush variance relative to projections based on party affiliation. There are 38 counties in Florida where more votes were cast than in Putnam county, and not a single one approached a 90% variance (the highest such variance being 61% in Bay county).

The other side of the story is that a similar phenomenon, albeit less pronounced, is observed in the 2000 election. But Jeb was Gov in 2000, too. And remember, no one recounted the small counties, as Gore focused his firepower on the larger counties with potentially rich undercount totals. The interesting thing is that this phenomenon is virtually absent in the last pre-Jeb election in Florida, 1996, in which Bill Clinton even won some of these small counties. Sure, Bill was a southernor, but Gore was too. And Gore actually got a higher percentage of the statewide vote in 2000 than Clinton received in 1996.

Bottom line: since the Bushies have taken control of Florida, we've seen a tidal shift in the small counties to almost Saddam-like republican majorities.

There's a paper trail somewhere. It would be startling to find that they hadn't already covered their tracks, but even if they have there are people who know about this, and someone who will confound the Rove postulate that humans are infintely corruptible.

These are small counties. Let's do some manual recounts and compare to the op-scan totals. It will not be a huge undertaking.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Ohio Was A Diversion

I haven't alleged anything. I have, however, noted the following odd confluence of facts and circumstances.

First, it is a fact that the Florida tally was way out of step with the pre-election polls. It is extremely anomalous, from a statistical perspective, that the final Florida results fell outside of the range of the all of the major pre-election polls, other than the Quinnipiac poll, which had Bush +8. Only one other of the Florida polls cited by RealClearPolitics conducted post October 1st (36 such polls, in all) produced an 8 point margin, and none produced a more lopsided result. Further, no other Florida poll conducted within the final two weeks (other than a Rasmussen single day poll that produced a 5 point Bush bulge on Oct. 27) produced a Bush margin more than four points.

Second, consider in light of point one that the late day exit polls (as distinct from the 2:00 PM exit polls) were very accurate, with the exception of a few 50% to 49% type results that had the right margin but the wrong winner. But the late day Florida poll had Kerry by 51% to 49%, way off the final 52% to 47% Bush margin.

Then you may recall the recent Sarasota Herald-Tribune article that cited a May 2004 e-mail in which a FL bureacrat notes that the republican Governor of Florida rejected advice to scrap a manifestly flawed felon purge list that disenfranchised black felons but permitted Hispanic felons to vote.

And then you may recall the 58,000 ballots that were lost in heavily democratic Broward County. Who was responsible for sending out the 58,000 ballots? Supervisor of Election Brenda Snipes - a republican appointee.

And, conveniently, Florida is one of a limited number of "no paper trail" states, where e-voting disappears into the ether once the votemeter is reset.

And who made the e-voting machines? A company called Deibold Election Systems, whose CEO and Chairman is one Walden O'Dell, one of Bush's elite fundraisers - a member of the exclusive "Pioneers and Rangers" big-bucks pimps for Dubya. But not to worry, Diebold's board adopted a policy that bans its executives from any political activity other than voting. They adopted this ban in the wake of the disclosure that its CEO was a big Bush backer and the author of a letter that pledged his commitment to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President. That's right - Ohio, Walden's home state, another of Diebold's biggest clients and another "no paper trail" state.

Finally, you may remember the problems in the Sunshine State in 2000.

Oh, yeah, and the republican Governor of Florida is the brother of the President - did I mention that?

If it comes time to form a commission on this matter, George would do well to engage the services of one Arlen Specter, whose facile ingenuity helped pave the way for the Warren Commission report by formulating the "single bullet theory".

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Thanks, John. You Fought The Good Fight

I've never had any particular sympathy for losing presidential candidates, but I feel badly for John Kerry.

I was not a John Kerry fan before he landed the nomination, and even for many months afterward. I think he conducted too cautious a campaign and missed an opportunity in April to firmly seize the Iraq issue. But I think he comported himself with dignity and even a measure of chivalry. I continue to believe his service in Vietnam was honorable and his opposition to the war in Vietnam principled. I still find it implausible that every Vietnam vet who politically opposes George Bush - Kerry, McCain and Cleland - is guilty of having conducted himself disgracefully in Vietnam.

I imagine Kerry was stunned and surprised at the ferocity of the Swift Boat attack. But I can't even imagine how difficult it must have been for him to realize that much of the country scorned his service and were willing to denigrate it for political ends. That must have hurt.

I wanted to believe that my country opposed an immoral war. I will have to console myself with the thought that millions of my countrymen, albeit a minority, opposed this war.

Something Is Weird In Ohio

Fox called Ohio for Bush hours ago. NBC has also called it for Bush. Bush's lead is holding at about 120,000. The cable news networks are talking about the provisional ballots in Ohio. BUT NO ONE IS MENTIONING THAT NOT A SINGLE PRECINCT IS REPORTING FROM THE 6TH AND 11TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS!

The Democratic candidates for the house in the 2002 midterms rolled up a 130,000 vote margin over their Republican opponents. There is every reason to believe that Kerry will emerge with a 150,000 to 175,000 margin in these two districts, because (i) the two Democratic candidates in these districts are UNOPPOSED this year, and (ii) turnout will be significantly higher in this presidential election year than it was in the 2002 midterms.

I have not heard a single news commentator or reporter mention the 6th and 11th districts or the huge Kerry swing that will occur when these two districts report.

I am predicting right now that Kerry will win Ohio. He will win it even before a single provisional ballot is counted.

UPDATE: For some reason, the Ohio vote totals this morning still indicate that none of the precincts in the 6th and 11th congressional districts have reported. This is obviously not accurate, and it led me to conclude that the Ohio presidential election figures did not reflect the votes from these two heavily democratic districts.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Polls, Schmolls - Give Me The Oliphant Index