November 18, 2004

Fitness, not Fatness:
Activity Much More Important Than Weight To Good Health

In a cool piece about sometimes Bush advisor David Frum's suggestion that we tax cola - based of all things on Canada - Radley Balko of the Cato Institute offers some much-needed perspective on the left's new obsession: hating fast food. In their fervor to abandon the last vestiges of civil libertarianism on the left, Democrats and 'progressives' are bashing fast food, hamburgers, donuts, ice cream, soda and anything else corporations have a hand in selling. Balko points out and excellent study:

    A recent report for the President's Council on Physical Fitness and sports quoted the Cooper Institute researcher Steven Blair, who summarized, "active obese individuals actually have lower morbidity and mortality than normal weight individuals who are sedentary."

    In fact, according to Blair's research, a sedentary person of normal weight is twice as likely to die early than an obese man who's active. The relative mortality risk of an obese but active man rises only to 1.1 times that of a normal weight, active man. In other words, activity is much more indicative of good health than weight.

Say an active man of average weight has X mortality risk - risk of dying. If the normal man were to maintain an active lifestyle but were obese (yes, it's quite possible) he would go to only 1.1X. If a man were sedentary, inactive and lazy but of normal weight, he would double the fat active guy to be 2.2X mortality risk. In other words an active obese man is much less unhealthy as a normal weight sedentary man.

The key to health is overwhelmingly how active you are, not so much what you eat or how much you eat. Of course, anyone with an eye to history would realize that for most of our history, fatter people have been associated with health (if not beauty) and skinnier people with lack of nutrition. After all, fatties are going to survive if food gets scarce, but skinny bastards die out if food isn't around. It's also linked to wealth - the cheaper food is in relation to one's assets, the bigger you can afford to be. Of course, we are so wealthy and safe now that food will probably never be scarce absent war or environmental disaster, and even then it'd have to be huge to have more than a temporary effect.

But the real result: all those hydrogenated trans fats the Progs are bashing are much less important to health than just getting some exercise. So taxing food, soda, sugar or banning McDonald's is going to make us poorer, sadder or both, but it would only make us marginally healthier - and even then it'd have to be comprehensive or we'll just buy the fat foods that remain.

If you want people to be healthier, activity is the solution, not burdensome taxes and regulations. What we're doing is way more important than what we're eating.

Now how do we address the need for a more active population? Well, we don't - at least, not directly like the left wants to ban certain foods and smoking. Taxing transportation in an attempt to make people walk more is only going to make us pay more and is going to disproportionately punish the poorest Americans who are only trying to get to work. You could try tax credits for buying bicycles, scooters and jump-ropes but that's rather silly and difficult to administer. I think in the end we have to look at where we might be discouraging activity and where to encourage it.

I think, ultimately, exercise is just something people have to do on their own, the same as good nutrition, respectful relationships, and polite table manners. After all, the government doesn't step in and stop people from calling their girlfriends 'bitches' or their boyfriends 'dicks' - although most people would consider that behavior quite offensive. It doesn't tell you to keep your elbows off the table. The government doesn't dress you - although it would appear a lot of people could use some helpful pointers from friends. The government shouldn't control your diet and it shouldn't control your exercise habits. Personal responsibility has to be something we allow and rely on, not just pay lip service to in campaign rhetoric.

If people want to be fat, then let them. If people want to be lazy, then let them. At some point, we have to realize that legislators can't control everything, and that's okay. All we can do is make sure we don't get in the way of the right thing and let them live their lives. Americans are not our children or our wards, they are decent, self-responsible people and they can decide themselves if they want to be healthy or not, fat or not.

This just proves my point about government-provided health care. When the government foots the bill for your doctor visits, it takes an interest in your personal behavior. Smokers have long been targeted for rising medical costs associated with lung and heart disorders. Fat people are being targeted for the cost of medical insurance, unfairly. A slur against gay people is that they contract an inordinate amount of sexual diseases that then affect insurance premiums. We need to stop taking an interest in each other's personal habits, and the only way to do that is to make sure we don't have a financial interest in them.

Therefore, I propose three steps. One, we need to privatize health care over the long haul, shift it to the states and to private insurers. Two, people will be able to afford this with heaping tax cuts for the poorest Americans and Health Savings Accounts to make sure there's more available for health insurance. Studies show this is extremely effective at insuring uninsured Americans. Three, we need to make sure it's legal for (at least some) health plans to exclude people for any reason. That way, those who hate fat people, smokers or whatever can get insurance that isn't linked to the cost of treating fat people or smokers. If people don't have to be affected financially by each other's habits then they'll calm down about bashing total strangers.

And of course, the left needs to shut the fuck up. Fat people have a hard enough time as it is without progressives turning them into either social leeches or charity cases.
ANWR Compromise Solution

I just came up with a great solution for ANWR. It’s not really biased toward any side except maybe libertarians, but here goes. We sell it. Auction it off, literally to the highest bidder.

Seriously. Oil companies want it, environmentalists want it, we sell it in closed bid auction, whoever offers the most gets 1002 Area (a section of ANWR, not the whole thing). They get the mineral rights as well. The Indian lands in 1002 would not be sold, since obviously they are already lived on and the Inupiat tribe that lives there can have their own damn land (I think we’ve taken enough of the Indians’ land). We wouldn't have to sell off the entire area, since the proposed development spot is only a little over three square miles.

Here’s the kicker: all profits will go into developing an alternative fuel source that will be used for passenger-size vehicles. I recommend a hydrogen fuel cell-based design, with solar- and wind-derived extraction. If successful, we’ll use it for military vehicles or federal civilian vehicles of one sort or another – hopefully some Army jeeps.

Obviously, this would have one immediate use in commercial civilian vehicles. It would take a serious changeover to make the technology viable, since our transportation infrastructure is based on getting fossil-derived fuels around the country. We'd have to make fuel cells available wherever they were introduced. Most likely they'd start in the cities and in states in the densely populated west coast and northeast (Seattle and Eugene residents would go ga-ga for it). Eventually it'd be available more widely. We'd also have to learn if it burns differently than the current engine, and take that information to firefighters. But otherwise, it's just as viable as any other solution - it's also clean, quite cheap, and pleasant-smelling. The only by-product of hydrogen-oxygen fuel cells, besides the energy involved, is water.

It's a very simple process. Electrolysis is introducing electricity to water and splitting H2O into H and O. Turning that into fuel, in essence, is simply the reverse: taking equal amounts of H and O and adding them together, to get electricity and water as a result. The water could either be dripped out safely (like A/C condensation is today), stored until disposed of, or drained by some other method. I realize there are concerns about the efficiency, power and durability of hydrogen fuel cell cars, but I'm confident technology can either solve these problems or point us to a better solution. Either way, the idea of auctioning off this one small part of ANWR is still good and we could use the money to research any number of alternative fuels.

Now, who might buy it? Well, it's closed bid, so there won't be tit-for-tat bid hikes. Whoever offers the most up-front in sealed bids wins, no second or third bids accepted. So who might compete? Plenty of people.

Entrepreneurs, land speculators and oil companies who think they can develop it themselves, contract out to get it developed, or sell it to someone else for a profit and let that guy develop it. For those concerned about wildlife, we can auction it with the proviso that certain safeguards be maintained for wildlife. I will defer to environmental experts and oil industry specialists as to how and what needs to be done in this area. My understanding is that other nearby development sites maintain animal populations equivalent to undeveloped areas adjacent to them. Hopefully that can be easily replicated in these circumstances and we don't need to really worry (of course, if we really cared that much for animals lost to development, then we'd be hypocritical to ignore the circumstances under which all our homes and businesses were constructed - by killing animals and knocking down wildlife).

Environmentalists and green-geeks might buy the area for the sake of ... ummm ... having it ... and stuff. No, to be serious, plenty of environmental groups exist with strong membership numbers and good fundraising bases. They could pool together and buy the land and with the support of Hollywood - millions and millions of dollars just sitting around - they could definitely scare up a lot of cash. Aging hippies, suburban busybodies, college activists, Hollywood do-gooders, there are plenty of people willing to speak for ANWR, maybe they'll put their money where their mouths are. Most substantially, Soros, Lewis, Sperling and the other Democratic billionaires are always around to contribute. After all, if there really are only 3 to 6 months worth of oil in 1002 Area, there's a definite profit limit there. A company is gambling that the costs of exploration, construction, extraction and transportation will be at least repaid by the oil found there. Environmentalists don't have to gamble because they don't look for monetary profit.

Eco-tourism entrepreneurs are a growing force in the world market and they have turned environmentalist-friendly refuges into budget-friendly endeavors through the use of libertarian-friendly private entities. If you can take middle class and wealthy people on vacations to see the bears, caribou, birds and whales in the area, without fundamentally disturbing them, then you can give a good service, turn a profit and still keep the area pretty well clear of development. This makes pretty much everybody happy. The eco-tourist crowd would probably have to see start-up money from Soros-style billionaires and Hollywood to compete with oil ventures, but I think it's reasonable.

Eco-tourism AND oil ventures could possibly go in together and use different parts of the same area for each purpose, deriving more of a total profit together than either could alone. This might be less plausible if only because eco-tourism types would get more money from their base if they were screwing over corporations. Still, a great way to keep potential commercial excesses against animal life in check is to make keeping those animals around a net profit for business. If there are enough enviro-lovers around who see the goal of wildlife preservation as more important than thumbing their noses at the Industrial Revolution, then this is viable.

The only proviso I'd add at this point is that no foreign governments could own it. Foreign corporations, foreign NGOs, sure, but not governments. Besides this move being unpopular, I like Alaska and I don't want to sell "Seward's Folly" to other countries.

So oil companies bid against each other, environmentalists and eco-tourists team up to get in the action, and the government takes secret bids from everyone. The winners get land and mineral rights to a very small part of ANWR to do with as they wish. The auction money goes into research and development for hydrogen fuel cells. If commercially successful hydrogen fuel cells would be cleaner, cheaper, renewable and derived without dependence on volatile foreign sources. Sounds like a pretty damn good plan to me.

Additionally, if a company wins the auction, it's very likely that they will re-sell the land to an environmentalist or eco-tourist concern whenever the oil becomes unprofitable to extract or find. They can then maintain - or worst-case scenario, regenerate - the area in question. It's unlikely that a company would hold onto that land if it held no commercial benefit.

It's not without drawbacks, and certainly extremists won't be thrilled by it, by I think it balances the concerns involved excellently. It also addresses the long term, which neither gung-ho oil-drilling nor environmentalist obstruction would do. Investing in fuel cell research is an eye to our future, when oil will be increasingly rare and foreign-derived. This plan finds a wonderful way to fund it without new taxes, deficit budgeting or spending cuts.

There's always going to be a contingent on the left that: a) doesn't like the idea of corporations even having a chance here, regardless of any limitations placed on their operations or the wonderful research their money will go to fund; b) resents the lack of a government agency to stick its nose in things or generally scurry about like it owns the place because it does, by law, own the place; c) is uncomfortable at the idea of paying money for what they could simply coerce through legislation, and won't want to set the precedent of competition that undermines their ability to pass laws.

Fortunately, this group should be overwhelmed by those in Congress who respect the goals achieved, especially the long-term emphasis research for alternative fuels and the budget-friendly manner in which the funds are raised. Sure, Feinstein and Schumer might raise a fuss, but I still think this is a good idea that appropriately balances the concerns of rising energy demands, environmental protections, lasting energy solutions and even libertarian budgeting.

November 15, 2004

The Scandal-Plagued UN

The United Nations is currently undergoing concurrent serious scandals. It's obvious that a good idea - bring stability and law to a world marked by violence and conflict - has been ruined by people with no respect for honest government or democratic accountability. We should return to the original concept of an international body that Kant gave us: restrict it to liberal democracies (he'd have said constitutional republics). We need to keep some sort of organization around to give a forum to countries developing democratic institutions, but the real work has to exclude authoritarian and corrupt-democratic states.

We can't trust Sudan, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea and Libya on the Human Rights panel. This is why the UN has a horribly anti-Semitic bias. This is why the horrible human rights abuses in the world go unpunished and unmentioned. We need to exclude those who don't share the same goals. The inclusion of non-democratic states makes it completely a game of interests and not of rights.

Now, the first scandal shows why the UN has a corrupt, incompetent group culture - that the practices and expectations of UN bureaucrats and officials encourage unethical and illegal activities. The Ba'athist regime under Saddam Hussein netted more than $21.3 billion for their tyrannical rule over Iraq through the UN's Oil For Food program. This was more than one-third of the entire program's size. The money went through a number of countries, including US corporations, but the most numerous were French, Russian and Chinese - three countries opposed to the US invasion of Iraq.

The money bought a number of things, including weapons systems galore, luxuries, and political access. Saddam bribed officials and bigwigs in France, Russia and many other countries to oppose the invasion of his country. He firmly believed they would oppose and block the invasion and was expecting it to be successful.

The OFF program was supposed to impoverish the government while feeding the people. It accomplished nearly the exact opposite - the people languished and suffered while Saddam thrived and made billions. This was a sign of massive corruption, used extensive bribes, and is a serious mark against any future use of the UN to do anything.

At this point, I would not trust anything with the UN's name on it unless it's led and administered by non-UN personnel.

There's a minor corollary here that's major in its implications. The UN tucked tail after and admittedly bad attack on them where they lost a regional bigwig. They failed to assist in critical parts of the early reconstruction when millions of Iraq's needed food, shelter, power and medical attention. That's just cowardly. The billion or so people around the world who depend on outside assistance for food and medical assistance don't have the luxury to flee when things get rough and bombings are just something they are forced to undergo. The UN left after one, admittedly horrible, attack. Cowards.

The Iraqis needed their assistance under OFF. Instead, Saddam made billions with the UN while his people were being hunted and tortured by his security services. The Iraqis needed assistance after the Ba'athists fell. Instead, the UN left the Coalition to do it. Fuck the UN. On this alone, they show they are not up to the task of world conflict. They can't be used for military conflict or peacekeeping if they said they'd stay out until the Coalition pacified the area. Worthless, selfish, corrupt cowards.

Second, the UN, including Secretary General Kofi Annan, is covering up a sexual harassment scandal. A woman on the staff of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said he groped her since 2001 in Geneva. An internal UN investigative watchdog group found that her claims were valid - even though Kofi Annan had personally cleared the UNHCR and former Dutch PM of any wrongdoing. Obviously something fishy is going on. Kofi was trying to protect the UN from discredit and bad press - though any student of polisci knows the public likes honesty better than cover-ups and denial.

It's obvious that there's something sick in the UN culture, it extends to the top, and it's not going to be changed with a new SecGen or a new US President.

The OFF scandal and anti-war bribes are inexcusable. The sexual harassment cover-up shows Kofi is not aggressive or even interested in exposing internal corruption. The total, abject failure of the UN to intervene and block genocide in Iraq, Rwanda, the Sudan, North Korea and elsewhere shows us that the phrase 'never again' means nothing to the UN.

We should create a replacement for the UN. Only liberal democracies should be included and then only countries willing to intervene to stop genocide. They should adopt a version of the UN Convention For the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide - the only international Convention that REQUIRES the use of force. They should call out all humans rights abuses, and they should declare their willingness to be tough with genocidal tyrants, even to the point of military intervention.

It should also include developing democracies as provisional members and other countries and NGOs should be able to join as advisory members - so we can hear their opinions and discuss with them even if they don't get a say on what happens.

Or hell, at least fire the people who sent Saddam Hussein $21.3 billion. Christ.
State IQ Stats A Hoax

The state charts showing that Kerry states supposedly have higher IQs than Bush states (113 for CT, 85 for MS, etc.) is a hoax. It was proven a hoax when it first appeared in May. Here's the real breakdown. Notice how the top state, New Hampshire, which was already clearly the best state before looking at this breakdown, was decided this year by only a few percentage points for Kerry and in 2000 by only a few percentage points for Bush.

Notice also that the single most heavily Democratic 'state' (well, not a state at all, but rather DC with electoral votes) is almost at the bottom nationally, with 95 keeping it just above MS and SC. Overall, since it only varies by 10 points, there's not a lot to draw from this about whether one side or the other is conclusively smarter, better, faster, stronger or prettier.

Of course, that ten point margin isn't even very reliable, for a number of reasons: 1) the entire population of a state doesn't vote the same way, 2) there's no such thing as an entire state population (even just the adults) taking the same scale IQ test, 3) these are based on ACT and SAT scores, which are both self-selected (so states with broad participation in SATs are going to appear dumber, which is true to experience) and not directly comparable to intelligence. Overall, there's not a lot to be gleaned from this other than the fact that a couple of people who wanted Kerry to win are experiencing the political version of teenage angst: "we're just too smart to be loved in our own time" syndrome.

The old ranking chart, it's worth noting, fell almost as heavily on state average income lines as it did on supposed IQ lines. In fact, whoever made up the scores back in May appears to have based it on his, her or their opinion of the financial situation of each state. At $26,979 CT was the richest state and made the top of the list, while MS, the poorest state at $14,088, was placed at the bottom. The hoax was little more than an indirect dig at poor people (though not entirely incorrect, as MS actually is at the bottom in the correct chart).

The hoax is reminiscent of the Lovenstein Institute hoax, wherein some wishful thinking Democrat elevated the IQs of Clinton, JFK and Carter to god-like scores of 182, 174 and 175, respectively. Those scores are above and beyond the likes of even Albert Einstein (160) and rival Galileo and Marilyn Vos-Savant at the heights of pure genius. Reagan was given a 105, GHW Bush the piddly 98 and GW Bush a clearly-stupid 91. The numbers are bogus, since the average MBA (Bush has one from Harvard) has an IQ of 125, and Bush scored safely above average on his SAT.

Of course, there's no such thing as the Lovenstein Institute (besides a phony website erected afterwards to give the hoax an air of credibility), and the IQ scale it was based on - the Swanson-Crain - doesn't exist except in the fevered imagination of some net-bound Bush-prankster. The original hoax was clearly a joke, that's why it doesn't match up to reality; the doctor supposedly behind the test reported from his trailer home in Scranton. As it made its way around the e-mail circuit somebody dropped the self-mocking parts and tailored it to just mock Bush.

So who really is smarter, Democratic or Republican voters? Well, that's easier asked than answered. People don't vote based on education alone, and there's no rule saying the smartest and dumbest can't vote together - which is in fact one noticeable trend. From FDR through Clinton, the least educated voters (high school and below) voted reliably Democratic except for 1972 (a landslide where the GOP performed well in the South) and 1988 (a year Republicans did well in the South, too). But until the 2002 mid-term elections, the Democrats took a larger share most years of the postgraduate vote than Republicans (which obviously changed for that election to favor the GOP). So somehow the least and most educated voters were both favoring Democrats. Of course, in 2000 Bush successfully won over the high school or less voters for the GOP's third time ever since before FDR.

Steve Sailer of the American Conservative (effectively a Buchanan mouthpiece with no love for Bush) gives some excellent statistics here. The 2000 election is a good example of the most and least educated combining, when those who had attempted postgraduate work went for Gore along with high school dropouts. Bush won those in between - and he also won a statistically negligible amount overall of more educated voters. This plays into a larger theory of mine (clearly won out by historical political contributions) where the richest and poorest vote Democrat and the middle class votes Republican.

This historical trend dates back to the founding of the GOP (a political faction that many modern Democrats like to claim as their own), where one especially blunt statesman, Charles Francis Adams, remarked that the Republican Party comprised "the industrious farmers and mechanics, the independent men in comfortable circumstances in all the various walks of life" while the Democrats drew support from the very rich and "the most degraded or the least intelligent of the population of the cities." While obviously he's overplaying the situation and mocking the Democrats since he's a member of the Republican Party, the overall trend is strikingly similar.

There is a way we can approximate the educational trend for 2004 without simply using the tripartite theory (least educated-D, middle-R, most-educated-D). We can tally it up and average it overall. Bringing back Sailer, we'll remember that Bush voters had a more or less insignificant edge in education in 2000.

"In 2004, Bush’s majority was more downscale. If you assume that high-school dropouts averaged 10 years of schooling, high-school grads 12 years, those who attended college but didn’t graduate 14 years, college grads 16, and postgrads 18, then Kerry voters claimed 14.64 years of education and Bush voters 14.48 years or only about six weeks less schooling."

Sailer also estimates, based on educational comparisons, that Bush is actually smarter than Kerry. Most superficially, Bush got his MBA from Harvard and Kerry got his JD from Boston College. That's awfully vague, even though there's probably a very clear difference in average IQs between Harvard and BC postgraduates, but they both went to Yale so we'll discount this one as unforgivably vague. More concretely, Kerry posted online his test score for OCS he took in 1966, on which Kerry achieved an average score, Sailer tells us. Bush too the USAF Officer Qualifying Test and scored rather above average. The tests are not the same and we shouldn't asume they are, but in relatively comparable tests, Bush scored better than Kerry. Both men took these tests before doing postgraduate work.

What's most interesting is also from Sailer's approximation of why Bush, who by any fair account is well-educated and of above-average intelligence, would shy away from his Ivy League roots. After all, Yale and Harvard are the best schools around, right?

"In the president’s lone losing race, his 1978 run for Congress from West Texas, the victor stressed Bush’s two Ivy League degrees. Bush resolved never to allow himself to be outdumbed again. And the Democrats haven’t outsmarted him since."

As is obvious when you hear Bush in interviews and radio addresses, he is a better speaker than his debate performances and various public speeches suggest. One expert, who sadly I cannot find online right now, suggested that it was intentional and that Bush dumbs himself down both to be the underdog and because it makes him more approachable. Rather than coming off as arrogant or as the New England, upper-crust blueblood that he is, Bush tailors himself to seem more Western, more populist, and more average.

Of course, the trained observer notices he's still VERY New England blueblood. He calls his mother "Mother" instead of mom or "my mother." This is immediately obvious to almost anyone outside New England and most in it. Second, his penchant for nicknaming everyone is not a Texas thing, it's rich New England - Buffy, Muffy and Chip are just the easiest stereotypes. Third, he has several ways to wave at others, and one of them might be described as foppish or dandy; it looks a little whimsical and at-ease, not wimpy though certainly not what people would call masculine. And most apparently is the War On "Terra." That is not a Texas thing; that is New England, which is why his father says it almost the exact same way. Of course, he also has more tailored waves to look masculine and cowboy, but every so often the blueblood stereotype slips back in.

Why would he hide from it? His family traces back to royalty, to the Puritans, to a number of early US Presidents, and to a history of colonial and revolutionary America. He has businessmen, professors, merchants, Kings, Governors, Senators and a President in his family line. He was born in New Haven, CT, spent many years of his life in Kennebunkport, ME, was educated in Andover, NH, went to college at Yale in CT, business school at Harvard in MA, and his family is Episcopalian, a dominant Protestant denomination for New England. That's why he hides from it.

The stigma of being from New England - a place I personally love and root for - hurt him elsewhere. He's smart about being dumb. The election is not about who's smartest, and neither are the debates. The debates are about whom you want to vote for, not who's going to become your study buddy. He realized that he could come across as too New England, too disconnected from the average person. Most people don't want to vote for a New Englander any more than a New Englander wants to vote for a Texan.

So the evidence overall suggests a few things. First, there is no substantial difference in the intelligence or education of the two parties, especially with the GOP winning postgraduate voters in 2002. There's a trend that the top and bottom voted D while the rest all voted R, but that can be easily overplayed. Second, Bush himself isn't an idiot, as exemplified by his SAT, OQT, bachelor's degree and MBA.

November 11, 2004

Party Switch and the Real Conservatives

The Republicans and Democrats of 1850-1900 have not switched or transferred to today, as some Southern Republicans and Northern Democrats have tried to claim. The parties have the same basic character, direction and even constituency. Only a few groups have really migrated - black people to the Democrats in the 1910s (during Jim Crow, I should add) and 1930s, and some Dixiecrats moving to the Republicans in the 1970s and 1980s. The parties didn't change, except for some of their constituents. The basic framework is the same.

Moreover, although there's a great deal of evolution and advancement in political theory, capitalism is fundamentally liberal, progressive and fluid - uncontrolled. Socialism, romanticism, environmentalism and communism are largely a reaction against the unregulated and rapidly changing world of industrialization. They are the backlash against the Enlightenment.

"Several historians have recently suggested that many ante-bellum northerners were themselves disturbed by the increasing materialism and selfishness of their emergent capitalist society, and turned in admiration to the gentility and ease of the southern aristocracy. There is no question that some Republicans, particularly upper-class [B]conservatives, looked favorably upon the Southern character[/B]... but this is hardly to say that such fears were shared by the majority of northerners. The very word 'aristocracy,' the New York [I]Tribune [/I]observed, had 'rather a bad sound' to northerners, and one political observer claimed in 1856 that 'the aristocratic element of the slave power is the one that has made us a hundred votes, where the moral question has given us one.' [B]The Republicans saw no conflict between personal acquisitiveness and social progress--indeed, they assumed for the most part that the two were intimately related.[/B]" - Eric Foner, historian, expert on mid-1800s political history

"When [antebellum] Republicans spoke of their party's basic constituency, it was the successful middle-class Northerners they had in mind. Charles Francies Adams declared that the party was composed of 'the industrious farmers and mechanics, the independent men in comfortable circumstances in all the various walks of life,' while the Democrats drew their support from the very rich and 'the most degraded or the least intelligent of the population of the cities.' ... Although a great deal of work needs to be done before the social basis of the antebellum political parties can be established with precision, it is safe to say that the Republicans were weakest in the large cities and strong in the North's rural areas and small towns." - Foner

"All artisans and manufacturers [in England] are republicans - all their employees (speaking in general terms) are conservative. How like the United States." - William H. Seward, Republican

"[Southerners] are a set of cowards, full of gasconade, and bad liquor, brought up to abuse negroes and despise the north, too lazy to work; they are not above living on the unrewarded labor of others..." - antebellum Wisconsin voter to his Republican congressman

GOP 1850 - 1900
- party of the middle class
- big in rural areas, and sparse to medium density areas
- emphasized small business and farmers
- opposed to government entitlements
- troubled by union agitation and labor strikes
- believed labor and capital had the same interests
- espoused American Dream: with hard work, anyone can and would become rich
- believed in legal equality, but social respect had to be earned by each individual
- supportive of business
- many were quite religious
- bitterly opposed to socialism and communism
- very big on the Second Amendment right to bear arms

GOP today
- party of the middle class
- big in rural areas, and sparse to medium density areas
- emphasized small business and farmers
- critical of government entitlements
- proposes right-to-work laws against union opposition
- believe labor and capital have same interests
- espouse American Dream: with hard work, anyone can and will become rich
- believe in legal equality, but social respect has to be earned by each individual
- supportive of business
- many are quite religious
- bitterly opposed to socialism and communism
- very big on the Second Amendment right to bear arms

Dems 1850-1900
- party of the working class, poor and immigrants
- most successful in cities
- strove to oppose privilege of a wealthy few
- conflict between labor and capital
- attack industrial wage-slavery
- oppose allegedly rampant materialism and greed

Dems today
- party of the working class, poor and immigrants
- most successful in cities
- strive to oppose privilege of a wealthy few
- conflict between labor and capital
- attack industrial wage-slavery
- oppose allegedly rampant materialism and greed

It is poorly reasoned and vastly over-simplified to compare the free states of 1860 to the Kerry states of 2004, or the Bush states of 2004 to the slave states of 1860. One cannot look at two maps, one from each time (as an ABC correspondent recently did) and assume that Bush and the Republicans are closer to slavery than the Democrats. After all, a far more obvious and superficial comparison would be the party names - the Democrats bear the same name as when they were the party of Jim Crow and slavery. Just as it's horribly shallow to simply transfer the name from each time and make a complete comparison on that basis, so is it inexcusably superficial to make the same conclusion based solely on maps.

The Democratic Party is not the closer heir of classical liberalism; it is closer to the reaction and backlash against industrialization and the Enlightenment. The Republican Party is more appropriately the heir of American classical liberalism, as it embraces the political, legal and economic views of the Radical Republicans much more thoroughly. That is how it was then, that is how it is now.

November 07, 2004

Bush Elected By Urban And Secular Voters
Religious Turnout Stayed Level From 2000 to 2004

From Nov. 7 Union Leader editorial:

Looking at CNN exit poll data for both the 2000 and 2004 elections, one sees that Bush won almost identical percentages of the vote from those who attend church more than once a week (63 percent in 2000, 64 percent in 2004) and from those who attended weekly (57 percent in 2000, 58 percent in 2004). His support rose not among the highly religious, but among the secular: those who attended church monthly (46 percent in 2000 to 50 percent in 2004), seldom (42 percent to 45 percent) and never (32 percent to 36 percent).

Bush also dramatically increased his backing in urban areas, while it fell in rural America. Support for Bush rose by 13 percentage points among self-described urban voters (he won 39 percent of them), and 3 percentage points among those who live in suburbs (he won 52 percent of them). His support among self-described rural voters fell by 2 percentage points to 57 percent. So much for the idea that only hicks and rednecks voted Bush.

His religious supporters stayed constant. Rove did not "find those four million evangelicals" that didn't turn out in 2000, as many people say. Bush made gains in the non-religious fields, the people less likely to say they attend church often, and suburbanites. But by far the biggest gain appears to be urban voters - a 13 point jump is nothing to sneeze at. Most likely these people realized cities are by far the most at-risk places from terrorist attacks and they trusted Bush to protect the country - not Kerry.

The problem with the Democrats has nothing to do with the fact that they might be latte-slurping, organic food-chomping, GM-protesting, limo-riding, SUV-bashing, $7 espresso-loving, New York Times-reading, Michael Moore-adoring, trendy bistro-patronizing, flyover state-scoffing elitists. It's the fact that they offered no coherent or credible foreign policy alternative. They rejected Dean, who at least offered a clear one: get out quick, it was a mistake. They rejected Lieberman, who offered a very aggressive one: fight terror, fight Iraq, establish a Middle East Marshall Plan.

They picked Kerry, who was called nuanced - which must be claimed either with barely hidden shame or clearly visible arrogance - but in reality would be better described as "trying to have his cake and eat it, too." Kerry's foreign policy was a shambles, half-hearted applications of Bush policy ideas, half-sneering denunciations of alleged unilateralism, and half-assed backpedaling on the issue of caving in to international pressure.

It was the issue of the whole campaign. Kerry kept it on Iraq when he stressed Al Qaqaa and the lost weapons. Osama Bin Laden came in with his video and threatened the Bush states with retaliation if they voted for him. The war on terror and the war in Iraq were issues right up to the end - and received three times as much press as any other single issue, probably more press time than all other issues together. Especially since Bush's last big move on gay marriage was what? Coming out for civil unions, to the left of the GOP platform. Not exactly rounding up the evangelicals with that.

So whose fault was it that such a big honkin' loser-candidate was the nominee? Iowa and New Hampshire Democrats? Not really. There weren't a lot of other options. Lieberman looks and sounds a little funny. His ideas are good but his appearance of conservatism turns off Democrats. We all also thought Nader might have a chance in hell at the time of spoiling the whole thing and Lieberman would be the most at risk of that. Plus, what would Lieberman run on, abortion? Tax hikes? He didn't have a whole lot of obvious distinctions from Bush at the time, at least it appeared that way to most.

Dean was just crazy-looking after yelling down an old man (a GOP plant, but still an old guy) in Iowa, and then of course The Scream. Edwards seemed to young, too inexperienced. In retrospect of the VP debate, he probably was too much of a lightweight.

So you can't blame the primary voters. It was the candidates. They sucked. Kerry won because he seemed electable. We know now that it wasn't his liberalism, his New England roots, his arrogance, or his failure to distance himself from Michael Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. It was his lack of a credible foreign policy. People were open to a change and open to replacing Bush, but Kerry just didn't sell them on anything because he wanted them to buy everything. He said everything to shore up the pro-war Democrats (anywhere from 22 to 34 percent of his voters, depending on polls) and the anti-war conspiracy nuts ("Halliburton this blah blah blah Halliburton that blah blah Halliburton is evil) - and everyone in between.

Kerry offered no theme to his campaign that people accepted. A Stronger America just sounded stupid and was too easily mocked when the Democrats stupidly put the word strong as every second adjective in their convention literature. Idiotic, bumbling, failed attempt to condescend.

Kerry didn't sell enough people on the economy, although he gained greatly on that issue on Ohio if only because the incumbent loses - especially if he's spiritedly pro-free trade like Bush. The fact that he could have such a great advantage on economy but still lose Ohio shows what a chump of a candidate Kerry was.

He didn't offer a benefit on security. Who wanted his lack of a vision? The anti-Bush people. He didn't offer a real vision, just an amalgamation of all the opposition arguments. He took all the positions and threw them together. He wanted to stay out, he wanted to listen to the UN, he'd never listen to the UN, he wanted Saddam gone, he wanted to focus on Osama, he wouldn't waste all the money there, he would spend much more money there. It was absurd. It had zero credibility, it only sold the people who didn't pay attention or just hated Bush's specific policy more than Kerry self-serving lack of a policy.

And that of course leads to character and personality. Flip-flopping was just too easy to call him on. So many positions, so little time.

Bush saw no significant gain among churchies, lost slightly with rural voters, and made his gains with the less-religious and urban/suburban voters. That's not a mandate for stopping gay marriage, that's a mandate from people concerned about security.

Sure, it's probably other stuff as well, like tax cuts, free trade, gun control, whatever other GOP staple issues. But security was the eclipsing issue of the presidential race. The election overall tells us that gay marriage is unpopular. The presidential election tells us that Bush's policy won more supporters than Kerry lack of a policy.
Tradesports Worked Better Than Polls

Tradesports, an Irish inline trading site, lets you buy and sell shares to bet ont he outcome of various events. Sports and games are the most popular, but people will bet on anything - including politics. It's Irish, by the way, because the US test site for determining the predictive abilities of gambling was limited to small buys only. The Irish don't regulate it as much, so the gambling is much bigger.

The way it works, is the price of each share, from $.01 to $1 , is how confident the person is that the outcome will occur. It's more complex than that, but in essence it means that whenever the price is over $.50, the betters predict it will happen. If it's under $.50 then it will not come to pass.

In other words, it's gambling odds to predict a winner of elections. And it works.

These facts are poached from the Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid, as linked above. At the end of September, tradesports betting:
correctly predicted all 50 states except three (NH, WI, NM);
correctly predicted all 34 senate races except four (AK, FL, NC, SD -- in all cases the GOP won);
correctly predicted the GOP would keep Senate control; and
correctly predicted the GOP would keep House control.

That's not bad, considering it was over a month away.

As of the Friday before the election, tradesports betting:
correctly predicted Bush would win;
correctly predicted all 50 states except one (WI);
correctly predicted all 34 senate races except one (AK);
correctly predicted the GOP would keep Senate control;
correctly predicted the GOP would keep House control.

Not bad, four days away and only wrong on one state. All it did was overstate the Bush electoral victory and understate the GOP Senate victory.

How does it match up to exit polls? It's light years better.
According to Drudge, E-Day returns predicted Kerry would win Ohio by four points - he lost by two or three. Kerry was to win Florida by three points - he lost by five. Kerry was supposedl up a whopping eighteen points in New Mexico - where he lost by one point. The exit polls worked in some states passably well, such as Iowa where it was only a point off (it said tie, Bush won by one).

It was horrible on some states Kerry did win, but sucked on the margin. It said New Hampshire was sixteen points into Kerry country where he ended up with a one-point margin of victory. It said Kerry had eighteen point leads in Minnesota, which gave him a three point margin. And it said he was ahead 60-40 in Pennsylvania for a 20 point lead, but in reality it was a two-point win.

Exit polls sucked this year. Tradesports was much more accurate on the ultimate winner. Hopefully we'll listen to the pollsters when they say that exit polls are rough. Hopefully we'll pay more attention to tradesports-style betting next election, because it has better-proven results than exit polls.

November 06, 2004

NYT: KE04 Dictated Election Coverage to CBS, CNN, ABC

The critical moment came at 12:41 a.m. Wednesday, when, shortly after Florida had been painted red for Mr. Bush, Fox News declared that Ohio - and, very likely, the presidency - was in Republican hands.

Howard Wolfson, a strategist, burst into the "boiler room" in Washington where the brain trust was huddled and said, "we have 30 seconds" to stop the other networks from following suit.

The campaign's pollster, Mark Mellman, and the renowned organizer Michael Whouley quickly dialed ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC - and all but the last refrained from calling the race through the night. Then Mr. Wolfson banged out a simple, two-line statement expressing confidence that Mr. Kerry would win Ohio once the remaining ballots were counted.

"What was driving our decision making was the memory of how in 2000, by allowing Florida to go for Bush, a lot of momentum was blocked," said one person who was in the room. "Our whole goal was stop the train from moving that way."
NYT - 11/4/04

The Kerry campaign was able to call ABC, CBS and CNN to ask them a favor - don't call OH for Bush, like Fox did, even though it has a wider margin than in Nevada. NBC turned them down and MSNBC reported Bush won Ohio. For the rest of the night and until Kerry conceded the next day, CNN, ABC and CBS reported that Ohio was "too close to call" - dishonest and inconsistent, considering that they used the same information as NBC and Fox, which clearly showed that Ohio was not as close as Nevada, which several of those networks had already called (Fox had not called Nevada).

This is just absurd. The campaign gets to call and influence the decision? I thought they went to great lengths to distance the decision-making bodies from even watching TV and being unduly influenced, but apparently the decision can be controlled by the campaigns themselves? That's absurd.

If Bush campaign officials could call Fox and dictate stories to them everyone'd be up in arms about how Fox is a right-wing mouthpiece. Apparently Kerry people can call four networks and get three of them to accept their story. That's bias.

Whoever let this happen at CBS, ABC and CNN needs to make some public explanations - and apologies. Whoever withstood pressure from KE04 at NBC deserves some kudos. MSNBC may be solidly in a distant, trailing third behind Fox and CNN, but they have better coverage, better reporters, and better political analysis shows than CNN (Wolf Blitzer and a few others excepted).

Is anyone really surprised that CBS, which holds onto Dan Rather, the single most obviously left-biased man in network television, is biased? Is anyone surprised that ABC, whose executive Mark Halperin said the media need to hold Bush 'more accountable' than Kerry, is biased? Is anyone shocked that CNN, with Judy Woodruff, Aaron Brown and Lou Dobbs at varying degrees of open support for Democrats and Kerry, might be biased?

If you're that surprised by this story, then you haven't been paying attention.
Bush's Win Was About Terror, Not Religion

Everyone is now spinning the Bush win on Tuesday into a win for evangelicals and anti-gay marriage advocates. We're hearing the media outlets parade - rather awkwardly - words like values and faith, almost as if hearing them for the first time or remembering them after a long absence. Others play this off as a ploy to the GOP base. Unfortunately, they're wrong on both counts.

Religion was not the main factor of this victory.

First, the anti-marriage sentiments extend WELL beyond the Bush base into the blue collar, Catholic, black and rural Democrats. That's why every initiative pre-empting gay marriage won by very safe margins, even in Oregon. While we had to wait a half day for Kerry to concede Ohio due to its relative proximity, the initiative to ban same-sex marriage (and, unlike all the other propositions this Tuesday, to also ban same-sex civil unions) trounced to victory: 62-38. All told, over 5.25 million people voted on the prop, which is only slightly less than voted in the presidential race for Ohio (down-ballot issues and props see smaller turnout usually).

So what, right? Well, that's a big deal. More than 10% of Ohio's voters voted for a very strongly conservative anti-gay marriage amendment and for Kerry to be President. Seems strange, but it's true. These voters didn't think Kerry needed to have more rural, provincial or faith-laden values. They voted for the strongest prop of its type in the country and for the Democrat who didn't support it. The reason is because nobody was talking about it very often in the media. People care about it, but Bush was not stressing same-sex marriage in the campaign, certainly not before the last week or two.

We were hearing about Iraq, terror, jobs, outsourcing, Al Qaqaa's lost 380 tons of HE, and all the rest. Education and Mary Cheney were getting more press than the candidates' views on homosexuality.

That's the President's mandate: the war on terror, where polls show people trusted him by 15 and 16 point margins over Kerry. That was what the campaign truly turned on, that's what the media played up, that is what we were all hearing, that's how Bush was ahead. Terror and Iraq were the signature issues, and Kerry at the end decided to forgo a turn to domestic issues and stress the failures in Iraq and the lost weapons. The campaign was dominated by it.

Bush won because Americans were upset with Iraq but wanted to hold Bush to the fire to fix it and wanted to keep Bush around for terror protection. Bush to win it, Kerry to end it - they wanted to win it and get out. But more critically, they wanted Bush for the wider war on terror. That's the mandate, that's the crux. Ignore gay marriage, the country wants terrorists stopped.

Now, for those of you who clicked the link at the top, you'll see a map (unfortunately undated, sorry, I found it at for those who care) of the US with religious statistics of the ARIS for each when clicked. You'll notice some interesting statistics. What four states are reliably Republican for the last three decades or so, including the 2004 election? Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Nebraska. They are the major Republican strongholds, the major states. Not the South, not Texas, but those four Western states have been huge, reliable margins for the Republican for a long time. What are their religious affiliations?

Wyoming - 20% no religion, 18% Catholic
Idaho - 19% no religion, 15% Catholic, 14% Mormon
Utah - 57% Mormon, 17% no religion
Nebraska - 27% Catholic, 15% Lutheran, 9% no religion

All four went for Bush at levels of 68-72 percent. In two, no religion at all was the plurality, and in none do the Baptists outnumber those without religion. The super-Mormon state of Utah and the abstention-dominated Idaho and Wyoming were Bush's three best states. They and Nebraska went for Bush at almost the exact same levels in 2000, when there was no Federal Marriage Amendment and the Defense of Marriage Act seemed to have settled the issue.

Now the best Kerry states from 2004 are DC, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New York.

DC - 27% Catholic, 19% Baptist, 13% no religion
Massachusetts - 44% Catholic, 16% no religion
Rhode Island - 51% Catholic, 15% no religion
Vermont - 28% Catholic, 22% no religion
New York - 38% Catholic, 13% no religion

So the five top Kerry states are much more religious - notably Catholic - than Wyoming, Idaho and Nebraska, three of Bush's best states. This would suggest that the religiosity of Utah is a poor explanation for the result of the election.

What about the swing states? New Mexico, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Nevada, Pennsylvania?

New Mexico - 40% Catholic, 18% no religion, 10% Baptist
Iowa - 23% Catholic, 16% Lutheran, 13% no religion, 13% Methodist
Wisconsin - 28% Catholic, 22% Lutheran, 14% no religion
Ohio - 19% Catholic, 15% no religion, 14% Baptist, 10% Methodist
Nevada - 24% Catholic, 20% no religion, 15% Baptist
Pennsylvania - 27% Catholic, 12% no religion

Not a very clear picture, except that religion is not a major determinant of the state's voting behavior. Catholics seem to be the biggest factor in going left or right, but then Catholics are the very same people we would expect to go against gay marriage. It doesn't make sense overall. Religiosity is not the factor here.

Granted, this is a rough statistical analysis and I'm no sociologist. Granted, there was a clear mandate against gay marriage in every state that had it on the ballot this year. But that was not the main issue this year, and neither was religion.

If people saw Bush as against same-sex marriage and Kerry as for it, then Bush would have won by much bigger margins. This election was not about faith or gays, and it was not about guns or abortion - we barely heard anything specific on any of these. The only real distinction that we heard much about was a little bit of stem cell - which polls show clearly favors Kerry - and some abortion-related issues that were largely unaddressed. They were not central the campaign, and if anything the last thing we heard about gay marriage was what: Bush is pro-civil union. Not exactly your Buchananite seasoned culture warrior.

It was about the character and personality of the candidates - Bush as resolute and strong, Kerry as sniveling and indecisive. It was about the foreign policy of the candidates - Bush with a clear vision to spread freedom and take the fight to the terrorists, Kerry with a vacillating foreign policy and a clear preference to impress Europe. It was about Iraq - do you want to win it or end it. It was about the economy and trade - do you want tax cuts and increased trade or tax hikes and more trade obstacles.

This election was not about gays and faith. It was not guns and abortion. It was security, terror, Iraq, and economy, taxes and trade. Those are the issues that decided it, and Americans wanted Bush on those issues.

November 04, 2004

Dean '08 - Dr. Dream or Dr. Scream?

The Democracy For America blog, a Deaniac mouthpiece, is already buzzing and Ron Gunzburger (of Politics1 and DFA) is ranting like hell and already aiming at $10k in contributions. Only problem? I clicked on a link for DemocracyFest '05 and saw a movie ad called Bush Family Fortunes, which is going to be screened by the Deaniacs. It's a conspiracy expose type thing, Bush connections to the Saudis, big bad rich boy, etc. etc. All of a sudden my feeling that maybe the Democrats would turn it around and win in 2008 with Dean was sucked out. The conspiracy stuff turns off all the wrong people.

I think by 2007 they'll realize how stupid and irrelevant the conspiracy stuff is, Dean won't flirt with the paranoid left and will address the center on substantive issues. Or he won't and he'll lose.

He has a good two years to figure out why he lost in 2004 and why nobody thought he was credible enough to win, if he wants to come back in 2008. In my opinion, he, Edwards and Lieberman are the only marginally credible alternatives for the future. Clark is a huge liar, Gephardt repeatedly rejected, Graham got no traction, Moseley-Braun not big-name enough, Sharpton and Kucinich too outs with the party, and Kerry, obviously, a big loser.

Of those three, Edwards has name recognition but he flubbed the debate with Cheney, came off awkwardly, and even seemed sort of mean and un-charismatic. His one plus was supposed to be charisma (and moderation) and he doesn't have as much as previously suggested. I also think his pro-domestic benefits, anti-gay marriage, anti-civil union position will be less in vogue in 2008, especially if we have three years of Deaniacs coming up. [edit - notice how only 4 years ago it was amazing that Cheney might be pro gay marriage, and four years before that civil unions were considered decades off - the tide moves much faster as gays gain acceptance and people realize it's irrelevant to their lives.] At least I hope it goes out of style. After all, Bush, Cheney and Kerry are all pro-civil union, Cheney might even be pro-gay marriage at the option of the states. Edwards was the most conservative of the four on gays. Not going to fly next time.

Lieberman will go up if he can do more with McCain or even get McCain as a running mate or endorser. He won't. McCain would probably not run second fiddle and he'll be wanted in the GOP. If the war ends well, Lieberman shoots up for that. He's still considered too conservative for the party, no matter what. He's also anti-civil union.

That leaves Howie of the 2004 candidates. His scream is infamous, as is the preceding listing of states. But if he can project a valid image of a reasonable, passionate statesmen the next two years, he's got a shot. The Deaniacs still love him, and it's easy to follow their argument that 'selling out' to Kerry for electability was stupid, since Kerry wasn't electable as it turns out. Unlike most years, they can teach Democratic primary voters a clear lesson by comparing results. Normally politics leaves little memory for lessons like this, but here it's obvious: they voted for Kerry to win, and they lost. It's only a hop, skip and a jump to saying that a vote for Dean would have won - or at least been fun while still losing.

Nobody liked Kerry for the White House except his daughter Vanessa. He was everybody's SECOND choice. After you eliminate the other candidates - too lightweight, too crazy, too flaky, too inexperienced, too conservative - the only remaining candidate was Kerry. He was older, elected repeatedly, had announced for the White House in like February 2001, and seemed august and statesmanlike. Actually, he was an asshole until his concession speech more or less, and he lost despite his supposed electability.

He offered nothing to the electorate and nothing was given him in return. Maybe a good candidate in 2008 for the Democrats would have a shot. I don't know if Dean can overcome the meltdown in 2004, though. Either way, nobody will pay attention but the Democratic nomination is already very much in play for both parties, especially the Democrats.

The Republicans are focusing on tort reform and Social Security reform for now, maybe another tax cut, because they have some governing to do. The Democrats have some free time and they're already gearing up for Howard.

We'll see if by 2008 he's Dr. Dream or Dr. Scream.

Some of you might notice the change here. I've changed my name from AngryLibertarian to Neo-libertarian. Why? Because the "angry" threw people off. It was largely meant as a joke, since I'm often accused of being angry even though I'm usually not at all. I get the accusation from typing a lot, which some of the more defensive and inadequate online debate folks mistake for anger. If it's aggressive, it must be angry, right? Nope.

Plus, I am a neolibertarian. What is that, you ask? Simple, it's summarized at the top of the page.

Freedom, democracy, human rights, open markets, international cooperation, vigorous foreign policy, democracy abroad, war against terrorists and tyrants, force when needed.

The Libertarian Party has some good positions, but it's too doctrinaire, too uncompromising, too disinterested in winning. We need to focus on selling the practical benefits of liberty. We need to accept incremental improvements instead of purist obstruction. And we need a foreign policy of principled intervention to defend this country instead of running from obvious threats and hiding behind ideology.

In short, there are three main planks:

1) Utility
Instead of hitting natural rights, morality of freedom or the constitutional obligations involved, libertarians need to sell the real story: Freedom works, folks. It's not like abstinence or teetotaling - it's not something you have to do even though it's bad. It's not like eating your vegetables - it's not just a stupid rule to follow. It very well might be the case that freedom is the law, and certainly it's ethically superior to tyranny

But people should accept freedom because it's in their interest. Freedom, deregulation, open trade, more tolerant social policy, lower taxes, better access to goods and services, these are all in one's interest. Freedom works, it improves your life, it's what got America this far.

That's what you don't hear from the Libertarian Party. They're too interested in dictates from on high. Yes, the platform has some very nice problem-solution sets, but it doesn't offer enough real advantages.

Rather than wade through philosophical discourse, the average voter would rather watch TV or have fun or listen to music. I don't blame them, a lot of philosophy is very boring. I have read quite a bit, and some of it is dense as hell. But political speeches and arguments can be very snappy, concise and easily understood. Libertarians fail to bring the utility of liberty home because they address issues few people care about, like the gold standard, the SEC or the Federal Reserve. Eliminate the UN? Trash NAFTA? These are some pretty severe prescriptions and people intuitively know they can't happen.

An example is public nudity. Why would you waste time with public nudity rights? It won't win and nobody wants it. You'd screw yourself and for what? So that nudists are finally free to do in public what they can already do at home or on private camps? There's next to no utility for anyone there, and it's impossible to achieve. They have no concept of the utility angle, seeking instead to espouse philosophy they fail to see enacted.

You could have a tax cut, though. You could deregulate some Medicaid or reform Social Security. You could decriminalize marijuana or address gay marriage. But abolishing the entire federal economic regulatory team in one fell swoop is as implausible as it is risky. The Libertarians neglect the utility argument and go straight to theory and ideology.

We need to sell plausible policies that emphasize the utility of marginal freedom, not just absolute freedom.

2) Incrementalism

Connected to utility, Libertarians skip short-term solutions and go straight to minarchism, the conditions of a minimal state. Nobody will accept that right now, it's too extreme. We invalidate ourselves from attention in the media and punditry by escaping the comprehension and credibility of both. Journalists, pundits and reporters realize we're so crazy extreme that most people won't risk it all in a single election.

Libertarians as it is too often wait until they can have it all at once. They won;t budge, even if it means most or all of their goals eventually. They would rather wait in place, getting no liberty, than move toward the center to persuade people to their side.

Well, if you were fighting a war, would you never attack until you could win all at once? Hell no. That's a dumbass political strategy just like it's a dumbass military strategy. Such a chance rarely occurs, because you need to weaken the enemy and build your own position in order to make a killing blow like that.

The proper strategy is simple: you achieve all that you can, salvage what's left, and push on for another day.

The Libertarians don't accept the utility argument and so don't believe in incremental freedom - like signing a free trade agreement instead of eliminating all trade barriers and NAFTA and WTO. They hate the regulation of trade and creation of a government agency. But, rather than cut rates through government agreements and agencies, they'd rather have higher tariffs and do nothing for now. You could liberalize trade and reduce tariffs if you accepted an FTA, but they don't accept the incremental value.

Another example is marijuana. Some libertarians refuse to let marijuana be taxed and regulated if it's legalized. They don't want the government to assert the right to regulate it, because that's unfree and advances the regulatory mindset. Whatever. If it's regulated then it becomes more acceptable. Eventually it would be about as acceptable as a private alcohol, do it in your home, in your basement, nobody has to see it, and you don't drive high. Simple. But no, they have to be 100% pure and focus on getting everything all at once. Absurd.

Incrementalism is how the left has been so successful. Reform and compromise are how they advance. If we are unwilling or unable to incrementalize right back, then we lose. Is it really better to bitch and moan but do nothing than to persuade and win? Obviously not.

3) Foreign Policy

The Libertarians by and large abstain from foreign policy. With anti-militarist and even some anarchist influences, they oppose things like the War on Terror and the War in Iraq. Tell you what, though: if we can democratize Afghanistan and Iraq and turn terrorist supporters into enemies of terror, then we've created two new allies - like the Marshall Plan after World War II.

More fundamentally, the terrorist groups are reformist and revolutionary groups that radicalized against their own governments. Their governments now pay them to attack us and leave the Middle East mostly alone. That means that domestic tyranny and closed markets (most are frustrated middle class people with big degrees and no job prospects) caused terrorism. If we can democratize the Middle East and open up their markets, we can stop terrorism at the source.

Libertarians prefer to pretend that Islamists are attacking us for good reason - which is just a degree short of 'we deserved it.' In essence, we fiddled with them, they attacked; we leave and they'll stop. That's wrong on both counts. They attacked us because we threaten them through globalization. Our economies, companies, music, movies and clothing filter in and they hate it. They like technology but they hate our culture. America spreads its culture and buys culture from elsewhere, it's a wonderful process of give and take - the marketplace of cultures, so to speak. Islamists are losing, in short, because their culture is being abandoned in favor of Coke, Elvis and Levi's. Since they can't win in a free decision, they win by violence - stop America and get them out of the Middle East.

That's what it is. They hate our culture overriding theirs, they feel threatened, so they attack. In a wider sense, it's about power. They want land, people, power, prestige - because it secures their culture from invasion and abandonment. So they fight in Kashmir, in Afghanistan, in Chechnya, in the Balkans, in Spain, in France, in the Sudan, in Indonesia, in the Gulf, and in the Philippines. Did Sudanese rape victims do something to get molested by Islamists? Are they in Kashmir and Chechnya because the US invaded in 1991? Of course not. They are attacking everyone.

Since they are attacking every bordering race, nationality and religion, we can obviously assume it's not just a response to us, but the nature of uber-extremist Islamism. Rather than being healthy, educated, normal people like most Muslims and Arabs, they have to be jerks and rape, murder or threaten everybody that's not Muslim. Assholes.

Withdrawing doesn't save us. Falling back only entices them. Even if we completely stopped globalization, they would still attack. They are messianic and missionary - they believe their religion belongs everywhere. They will never forgive and never forget. Only force will stop the current terrorists from doing ill and only reform, freedom and democracy will prevent more from replacing them. That's the only workable solution.

Rather than espousing silly reasons that are false on numerous counts, neolibertarians stand for a foreign policy that's not afraid to use principled intervention, where necessary. It secures our place and defends the liberty of everyone in the world.

There are other points in it, but such is the gist of neolibertarianism. I am not the only one, nor am I the first. I am a strong proponent of it, though. Utility, incrementalism, and real foreign policy. Those are the three main points.
SelectSmart Politics Selectors

Scroll to the bottom one: FOREIGN POLICY PHILOSOPHY SELECTOR. I wrote that one maybe a few weeks or a month ago. I guess SelectSmart is getting desperate if they'll actually post my stuff.

Anyway, if anyone reading takes this, then by all means post your results. Here are mine:

#1 Liberal
Emphasis on freedom, markets, democracy; free democratic states are good and fair, but autocratic states are immoral. We must push for democratization and liberalization around the world using open trade and international organizations: all people should be free. Wilson, Reagan, Kant, Shultz.

#2 Neoliberal
Emphasis on cooperation, consensus, free trade; cooperative, democratic states are more advantageous than rogue autocracies. To secure our own borders, we should make sure other countries are democratic, free-trading, and participate in international organizations: a much more pragmatic version of Liberal. Clinton, Fukuyama, Marshall.

#3 Libertarian
Emphasis on defense, small government, vital interests; states by and large don't attack you if you don't attack them. Governments should have little or no relations with each other as open commerce and mutual respect can maintain peace in most (or all) situations, only attack them when they attack us. Badnarik, Rothbard.

#4 Neoconservative
Emphasis on civilizations, democracy, strength; states act through civilizational and cultural means for their own advancement. We must spread democratic institutions and markets to other countries, but also include a very strong military establishment, democracy is a tool of diplomacy and war, ultimately democracies will side with us and we must side with them, although some of our allies may be non-democratic. Bush-43, Kristol, Wolfowitz.

#5 Radical
Emphasis on social justice, cooperation, democracy; the best states are peaceful and democratic, as well as moderately egalitarian. We must stop attacking countries for oil and focus on larger threats; beating up little countries that never hurt anyone is a grave threat to spreading democracy. Basically Neoliberal with a dash of Marxist. Dean, Gore.

#6 Pacifist
Emphasis on violence, injustice, war; states spread war, disease and famine. We must encourage an end to all violence, dismantling of al nuclear stockpiles, and eliminate the causes of division, conflict and violence, perhaps including capitalism or business. Thoreau, Tolstoy.

#7 Realist
Emphasis on power, strength, realpolitik; all states are aggressive and warlike and any chance to improve relative strength will be seized. We must judge our interests and do whatever is necessary to advance them, lest our country be destroyed. Nixon, Morgenthau, Kissinger!

#8 Neorealist
Emphasis on power, certainty, stability; states wish to be at peace but the world is unstable and uncertain, so they have to prepare for war to avoid destruction. We must be strong where it is warranted, but military reductions are the default, and arms control agreements can secure some stability. Bush-41, Waltz, Rice.

#9 Marxist
Emphasis on socialism, exploitation, racism; capitalist countries are either false democracies or outright fascist states, socialist countries are more just (or at least less dangerous). Capitalism and racism are evil institutions spreading Western hegemony and propping up decadent empires, either historical processes or street protests (perhaps revolutions) will bring about more humane world. Trotsky, Molotov, Marx!

#10 Nationalist
Emphasis on self-determination, ethnicity, bigotry; large states oppress and slaughter ethnic/national minorities. We, as an aspiring country, must use any means necessary to (re)establish our homeland, even as racists and imperialists. Though normally a broader group, this variant is the violent nationalist, sometimes (but not always!) creeping into terrorism. Arafat, Ceku, Adams.

Yep, I'm a liberal in foreign policy - but don't thinkt hat means Democrat. Most Democrats have no real foreign policy philosophy, just a mishmash of collected oppositions, reactionary feelings and garbled classical liberalism. Most Republicans tend to be realists or neorealists, but there are a number of neoconservatives and even some liberals/neoliberals there. Neoliberalism is more popular in the GOP than the Democrats, but Clinton was a pretty big one whenever he actually did something in foreign policy.

The one thing I'd say is that I like neorealists better than realists. They were ranked lower for me because neorealists think that strong hegemons or leader states can increase the likelihood for peace, as in the Cold War, because each side controls its lesser allies and is so big it deters war. In other words, two big states are in charge and they're too scared of war to permit much of it.

I think that that causes tension and ignores major problems of the world. As a liberalist, I'd prefer to see a joint solution to address common issues of crime and to improve commercial ties. Of course, I don't much care for the UN (socialist, Jew-hating and corrupt) but in theory an international group-security body is a good idea. I think that war is a critical means for achieving liberal goals, though, when genocide or war is taking place - even if we're not the ones being killed or attacked.

A realist would not want the two-party conflict of the neorealists nor the cooperative emphasis of the liberalists - a realist would say that fluid alliances and shifting loyalties will balance out the world and make the landscape too murky to predict. Since it's too hard to know if you'll lose in the end, states will avoid war.

I think uncertainty brings war, which is why I dislike the realist argument. I also think that bilateral tensions are unstable and ignore the root cause of most war: lack of rights and lack of commercial access. Freedom and open trade are the solutions, and democracy is the indispensable key to maintaining both.

Anyway, hooray for me, I make a profit (not really, they have yet to mail me my millions of dollars in royalty checks) at the expense of SelectSmart's dignity. Post your scores.

November 03, 2004

Spin The Vote! 2004
New Hampshire Edition

---Lynch over Benson, Damn---

Lynch beat Benson. I wanted Benson to win, I really liked him despite the scandals around him. Lynch is a Democrat, but at least he has pledged to veto a sales tax or an income tax. Hopefully he'll show similar restraint against other nex taxes or plain ol' tax hikes. His plans will probably necessitate a spending cut or a tax hike. I hope he picks spending cut.

Everybody, there's a new guy in the corner office. We'll see what he does, because maybe he's got some good ideas and really means his anti-tax pledges. He comes from a business background, let's hope he understands how stupid the government can be and how obstructive taxes are. I don't know that I'd bet money he'll run a great libertarian administration, but let's hope he holds his anti-tax pledge. If he breaks it, I'll cover it here as soon as I can - and see if the legislature follows him.

---Republican Congress, Ho Hum---

Yada yada, all four Congressmen for New Hampshire are Republicans. No surprise, new Hampshirites like conservative-, independent- and libertarian-leaners in general, and hate taxes, stupid government and gun control. That's more traditionally compatible with the GOP.

The elections were overwhelming, truly landslides by most definitions. Bradley in CD1: 63-37. Good ol' Charlie Bass in CD2: 59-38-3. Judd Gregg in the Senate: 66-34. Libertarian Kahn challenged Bass and got that 3% (with unrequested, unrequited Democratic assistance).

This is why I find it especially hilarious when I meet someone who hates the Free State Project but has a Nadeau (CD1) sticker or a Hodes (CD2) button. They sometimes claim to speak for the majority or the entirety of New Hampshire, but then their political choices are overwhelmingly out of step with the congressional winners of the Granite State. Maybe Democrats are using it as a tactic to feel more like they belong in a state that they disagree with so strongly.

A lot of them are REALLY into the DUMP GREGG and anti-GOP campaigns, too. Seems like they're more different from Granite Staters than the FSP crowd, many of whom would very plausibly vote Republican in Congressional races.

---Bigger Dem Minorities In State Senate, Executive Council---

The Democrats thought they could make gains in the State Senate, moving it from 18-6 (a 3 to 1 margin, notice) to a GOP lead of 14-10. As of right now, several races are close and undecided. Clearly, though, the Democrats will gain 2 or 3 seats, leaving the Republicans in charge. Nothing too big here, though obviously a little troublesome regarding a new tax.

On the Executive Council, Pignatelli, a Democrat from the State Senate, unseated incumbent Republican Wheeler in district five. Republican Wieczorek held his seat in district four. District 2 is close, but Spaulding will likely hold his spot for the GOP. The Executive Council was previously held by five Republicans, but now it's 4 to 1. Two seats were not up for election, districts 1 and 3.

---Court Amendment [Passes]---

[Edit: this was mis-reported. Thanks a lot, AP. Assholes. It passed, hooray.]

According to AP, it failed. The constitutional amendment granting administrative power over the Supreme Court of New Hampshire to both the legislature and the SCNH. This includes rules of evidence. In cases where they conflict, the legislature's version is supreme. The Court Justices e-mailed their employees about opposing this and got into trouble for it. Although the ban on justice's campaigning doesn't apply to issues of improving the administration of the law, they're never allowed to solicit their employees or people under them. The amendment was supposed to increase accountability of the Court and balance powers. I think it's a good idea, since the rules of evidence involves the difference between a conviction or acquittal. This amendment failed last time it came up, in 2002.

---The Trend?---

The Granite State loves to confuse you. They rejected the Democrats for Congress by wide margins, approaching 2 to 1. They increased the number of Democrats in the State Senate and even added a token Democrat to the Executive Council. In any other state, you'd guess that they hate national Democrats but their local Democrats fit the state's politics. Nope.

They voted, albeit by a thin, 10k vote margin, for Kerry. Is that simply a quirk, or a reflection of Kerry's new England roots? No, Kerry is a Masshole, and he did get a primary victory in New Hampshire, but the state was close to going for Gore in 2000 and went for Clinton in 1996 - while maintaining similar trends for the other races.

The fact is, new Hampshire is not overly ideological. All things being equal, most of New Hampshire prefers Republicans. All things are not equal, though, and New Hampshirites will go based on personality or specific issues to get what they want or approve of what they like from candidates in question. At once, they can be predicted (Republicans will hold a dominant place in state politics) without being restricted. That's why it's such a great state, Yankee independence and unabashed anti-tax sympathies are the major trends.
Spin The Vote! 2004

---Bush With A Mandate?---

Feet-dragging of a couple networks and CNN aside, Bush appears to have won the election tonight. Unless the provisional ballots change things, Bush will win Ohio, Nevada, New Mexico and Iowa. Kerry has won New Hampshire and will win Wisconsin. The total will be 286 - 252. Kerry and Edwards are trying to drag out Ohio, most likely to try and get revenge now for Florida 2000.

It looks like turnout will be in the area of 115-120 million voters, clearly the highest absolute number of US voters ever. There were 105 million voters in 2000. Bush, sitting at 51% now, will be elected with the highest number of raw voters ever, likely more than 58 million. But if he gets 51% it would be the first since Bush '88 to do so, as the previous three elections have been decided by less than a majority of the popular vote.

Bush has legitimacy now, he can't be derided as selected - he won at least a plurality and likely a majority. That's a fairly powerful statement and really hurts Kerry. Gore in 2000 had the popular vote to fuel him, as though he deserved it. Kerry lost the country, the vote is against him, and trying to challenge OH while losing the country is much harder than the 2000 debacle. So Bush now has clear electoral legitimacy and a modest mandate for the war on terror.

I have to say, Bush does a lot of things I dislike, but I am glad he will stay on as President. Kerry offered no vision on foreign policy and no backbone except when his career as a politician was at stake. Kerry is a loser, hence he deserved to lose - it's only too bad he keeps his Senate seat. The Democrats are retarded for picking a guy because he seemed like he could win for a reason nobody could even pinpoint. *whap* Bad Democrats, bad. No more pork for you!

I hope Bush balances the budget and seeks to fix Social Security - I want out of it, personally, because Congress has no idea how to make money, only spend it. Mostly, I hope he takes his clearest mandate to heart: win the war on terror, Mr. President. It's your issue. Many people are really against gay marriage, but they voted for gay marriage bans in greater numbers than they voted for you. Your job is not to get a Federal Marriage Amendment passed. What aligns perfectly with the result is the polls showing that people trust YOU to run the war on terror, whatever they think of Iraq. I know you have my support here even if you didn't have my vote; democratize Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine, liberalize trade, and shed the light of freedom wherever the shadows of tyranny and hate remain.

Please win the war against Islamists that seek to harm us and kill innocent people of every nationality, faith and race. That's what the election really means; Americans trust you with their lives and the lives of our soldiers. Don't let us down.

---No More Daschle?!---

Well, in a fit of predictable weirdness, the Senate Minority Leader, Tom Daschle, has lost his seat in South Dakota. As a Democrat, it was hard to run in a state that went 60% for Bush in 2000 and 61% for him in 2004. Daschle ran touting Bush policies, the war, the tax cuts, and saying that it was "South Dakota's turn" and he could bring back plenty of money and prestige as their leader. Daschle was in charge during the disastrous 2002 mid-term along with Gephardt. He's gone, John Thune replaces him.

So who will succeed Daschle?

- Lieberman? Probably not, too widely seen as conservative - though he is in a safe seat.
- Biden? He was angling for an administration spot, maybe he'll go this route instead - he could help reassert the foreign policy street cred of the Democrats.
- Feingold? Not in a safe seat and often votes very independently.
- Reid? Swing state but easily re-elected there, but he's pro-life and won't rise above whip.
- Leahy? Maybe, kind of old and slow, but from a safe seat.
- Hillary? Big name recognition, fairly safe seat, but this is only her first term - maybe use it to set up for 2008 White House run?
- Schumer? He only just won his second term, but maybe - has a safe seat.

The next few weeks will be interesting with the Senate Democrats. Watch to see whom they pick and whether: 1) that state is swing, Bush or Kerry; 2) that Senator is moderate, big-spender or social liberal; 3) whether the posture is aggressive, threatening fillibuster, or partisan yet open to working together. Who knows just what they'll do, the Democrats suck at picking their leaders (Humphrey, McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry; Bob Byrd, Daschle, etc.).


Marijuana was on the ballot on three states. Oregon and Montana had medical marijuana initiatives. Alaska had a decriminalization initiative to legalize the cultivation, use and sale of marijuana for those 21 and older, legalize doctors prescribing it even to children, and allow the state or localities to regulate it like tobacco and alcohol - including public use restriction. The Alaska amendment failed, unfortunately. As of right now, it's 57-43 with 82% reporting. The Oregon initiative failed as well, by almost the exact same margin that the gay marriage ban in the state passed. The Montana one passed, however! So hip hip hooray for those lucky soon-to-be-stiffs that can use pot.

The law lets patients and caregivers cultivate, possess and use limited amounts of marijuana by prescription for treatment of conditions causing chronic pain, seizures, severe muscle spasms. The specifically included conditions are cancer, glaucoma and HIV/AIDS, but others can be considered. This passed 62-38 with 87% reporting.

---The Clear Winner---

The real winner on Tuesday? Anti-gay marriage advocates. Every single state with a prohibition on gay marriage on the ballot passed it, often by strong supermajorities. Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio (this one banned civil unions, which the others did not do), Ohlahoma, Oregon and Utah. Clearly a lot of people don't like the idea of gay people getting married, at least using the name of the term, marriage. So where is it legal? Massachusetts and Vermont, both New England. Maybe it falls to New England to let gay people live their lives without social statements targeted against them being entered into constitutional documents.

Before the Civil War, only five states had black suffrage, all of them in New England. I think, as in the Revolution and in the Civil War, it falls to New England to lead the cause for freedom, democracy, and human dignity. Probably most people outside New England would disagree with me. So be it, I'm content for now to let them pass their social-statement amendments, however misguided I might consider it.

Maybe in ten or twelve years states will start adopting a New Hampshire-modeled marriage deregulation scheme, or a Maine-inspired marriage de-recognition policy (neither of which exists now). If we eliminate marriage as a government-sanctioned affair, then we end government abuse or discrimination on the issue. Circumcision, baptism and bar mitvahs aren't government-licensed, but in the Christian religion baptism is far more important to get into Heaven (in some denominations) and yet it's more or less entirely private and unlicensed. I don't need to see missionary proselytizing or something, I don't want to force them to accept my take on marriage (which isn't that it's okay to be gay, but rather that sex and love aren't the tasks of the state), but I do think New England seems to have better policies on the issue - for whatever reason.

---The Election's Role History---

What does this election mean historically? The GOP expanded its control of the Senate, likely to 55 seats, and made gains in the House. It held the White House in a heavily contested election. Taken in conjunction with other key facts, the GOP is in place as the much more powerful party in America - and not just because it won an election. The most popular politicians in America, int he eyes of moderates and independents, are Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Arnold Schwarzenegger - all Republicans. They are more moderate and more socially inclusive. They show that it's perfectly acceptable to be a Republican without being religious right.

They have the uber-popular Governor of California, the've had three terms of mayors of New York, they won a massive historical precedent by advancing their seats in 2002 (that happened once before, for the Democrats in 1934 after FDR). The Republicans have expanded their hold on the electorate, made their power known. They're not dramatically in charge like the Democrats during the New Deal or even post-new Deal, but they are clearly the preferred party for both the White House and the Congress. This goes against the traditional American logic of divided government.

Why did it happen? Because Americans HATE taxes (trust me, tax cuts are the lifeblood of the GOP) and because Americans trust Republicans to protect the country. Look at it from a long-view perspective. Cold War in 1979? Time to win it: Reagan 1980, Reagan 1984, Reagan 1988 (otherwise known as George H W Bush, thanks to that pesky 22nd Amendment). Cold War ends in 1989? Now it's the economy, stupid: Clinton 1992, Clinton 1996, and had Gore run more effectively as Clinton's successor then he might have gotten more than a slim popular victory. The public was split in 2000: both parties kinda suck, but Bush is a change and Clinton was tiresome. Then violence and conflict returns, the country is under attack. War on terror? Get the batards: GOP in 2002 and Bush in 2004.

It's not a rock-solid hypothesis, but clearly people want the Republicans to run foreign policy. That's why they break a maxim of politics that the President's party loses seats its first mid-term election (2002) and why it has little interest in divided government, so Bush has coattails in 2004 and bring in 6 GOP pickups (net of 4 pickups) to help him enact his policies. THe war on terror is Bush's issue and the GOP's issue. They can also have the economy if they do well and always tax cuts are fun, maybe some more work and politicking could reclaim education for the Republicans. But right now, in a time of conflict and danger, the country wants a Republican in there to go win.

When we zoom out, we see that, with Reagan in the 1980s and the 1994 GOP takeover, the 2002 and 2004 elections are part of a historic power shift between the parties. The GOP has the initiative for now, they have the power, they have the new ideas, they have the credibility to lead in foreign policy, and they offer all the most popular leaders. The GOP has held both chambers of Congress since 1994 (save a brief period after Jeffords' switch and a widespread punitive effect for the impeachment). But the margin of victory suggests that either they have a lot more to go or they have a short leash from voters. Ten or twenty years from now the trend will be easier to pass verdict on, but for now it's obvious: the GOP is on the ups right now, and they've been gaining ground since Reagan.

Where they go from here - more vibrant majority or punished minority - only the next few years will tell.

November 01, 2004

MEMRI: Bin Laden Threatened Bush States

A new translation of Bin Laden's terror tape is threatening the states that vote for Bush. Any state that casts its electoral votes will be targeted, while the Kerry states will be passed over.

"Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or Al-Qa'ida. Your security is in your own hands, and any U.S. state that does not toy with our security automatically guarantees its own security." - Bin Laden, translated by MEMRI

This is a rather bald attempt to affect the election and manipulate the country into unseating Bush. It would also suggest that Bin Laden sees defeating either the incumbent generally or Bush specifically as a critical part of the jihad efforts.

This is a clear move to do to the US what he did in Spain: use the fear and dissent of terror attacks to affect the election. Consdering the fact that even France has run afoul of Islamist threats after so flatly opposing the war in Iraq, there is no point short of total surrender where Osama would be satisfied, and even that one is dubious at best.

I don't expect everyone to vote for Bush because of it, but certainly I hope that Democrats and lefties will restrain themselves from making smart aleck comments or actually enjoying Osama's threat against free elections.

A new translation of Bin Laden's terror tape is threatening the states that vote for Bush. Any state that casts its electoral votes will be targeted, while the Kerry states will be passed over.

"Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or Al-Qa'ida. Your security is in your own hands, and any U.S. state that does not toy with our security automatically guarantees its own security." - Bin Laden, translated by MEMRI

This is a rather bald attempt to affect the election and manipulate the country into unseating Bush. It would also suggest that Bin Laden sees defeating either the incumbent generally or Bush specifically as a critical part of the jihad efforts.

This is a clear move to do to the US what he did in Spain: use the fear and dissent of terror attacks to affect the election. Consdering the fact that even France has run afoul of Islamist threats after so flatly opposing the war in Iraq, there is no point short of total surrender where Osama would be satisfied, and even that one is dubious at best.

I don't expect everyone to vote for Bush because of it, but certainly I hope that anti-war nutcase righties and wannabe-peacenik lefties will restrain themselves from making smart aleck comments or actually enjoying Osama's threat against free elections.

As discovered by the Volokh Conspiracy, this is quite similar to Michael's Moore's comments from September 12, 2001:

In just 8 months, Bush gets the whole world back to hating us again. He withdraws from the Kyoto agreement, walks us out of the Durban conference on racism, insists on restarting the arms race — you name it, and Baby Bush has blown it all. . . . .

Many families have been devastated tonight. This just is not right. They did not deserve to die. If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who DID NOT VOTE for him! Boston, New York, DC, and the planes' destination of California — these were places that voted AGAINST Bush! Why kill them? Why kill anyone? Such insanity...Let's mourn, let's grieve, and when it's appropriate let's examine our contribution to the unsafe world we live in.
- Michael Moore;
Winner: World's Worst Sense of Timing Award;
Grand Champion: Worst Eulogy Ever
So aside from Michael Moore, widely acknowledged as a worse representation of the Democrats than Kim Jung Il is of short people with poofy hair, hopefully most folks will recognize that being punished for your vote undermines the entire concept of a free, secret-ballot election. And note to the idiotic stereotypes: due to low voter turnout and the fact that no state was unanimous, and the simple occurrence of interstate travel, simply using airplanes flying from or to a Bush or Gore state is a relatively poor indication of how -or whether- one even voted. That's assuming, of course, we jumped off the Michael Moore deep end to feel that Bush voters are somehow guiltier than Gore voters.
Obviously Moore represents only the really loony people left and right that the mainstream Democrats like to appease and flirt with but overall disagree with. Thankfully most people have the sense to see how horrible this is.