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Post-9-11 events and analyses

Ken Novak's Weblog

daily link  Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Terror suspects' torture outsourced:  A greater scale reported than previously acknowleged. " "extraordinary rendition," one of the earliest tools employed in the war against terror, has outraged human rights activists and former CIA agents, who say it violates the international convention on torture and amounts to "outsourcing" torture.  "People are more or less openly admitting that there are certain practices that we would rather not do in the US, so why not let our allies do it?" said Ray McGovern, a former CIA operations officer who has frequently criticized the tactics used in the war on terror.

In recent weeks, the practice has become nearly synonymous with the white, 20-seat, private Gulfstream jet, numbered N379P and registered in Massachusetts.  The Sunday Times of Britain reported two weeks ago that it had obtained a classified flight log of the plane that showed 300 flights from Washington, D.C., to 49 nations, including Libya, Jordan, and Uzbekistan -- three countries where the State Department has reported the use of torture. The story focused on the jet and Premier Executive Transport Services, the Massachusetts-registered company that owns it.

Sightings of the plane -- at refueling stops in Ireland and in Karachi, where it reportedly picked up another suspect -- have been published in newspapers across the globe and on the Internet. Records at the US Army Aeronautical Services Agency show the civil aircraft has a permit to land at US military bases worldwide."

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daily link  Monday, November 29, 2004

Economic `Armageddon' predicted: "Stephen Roach, the chief economist at investment banking giant Morgan Stanley .. sees a 30 percent chance of a slump soon and a 60 percent chance that ``we'll muddle through for a while and delay the eventual armageddon.'' The chance we'll get through OK: one in 10. Maybe.
In a nutshell, Roach's argument is that America's record trade deficit means the dollar will keep falling. To keep foreigners buying T-bills and prevent a resulting rise in inflation, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan will be forced to raise interest rates further and faster than he wants. The result: U.S. consumers, who are in debt up to their eyeballs, will get pounded. ..
To finance its current account deficit with the rest of the world, he said, America has to import $2.6 billion in cash. Every working day. That is an amazing 80 percent of the entire world's net savings. Sustainable? Hardly. ..

Roach could not be reached for comment yesterday. A source who heard the presentation concluded that a ``spectacular wave of bankruptcies'' is possible. Smart people downtown agree with much of the analysis. It is undeniable that America is living in a ``debt bubble'' of record proportions.  But they argue there may be an alternative scenario to Roach's. Greenspan might instead deliberately allow the dollar to slump and inflation to rise, whittling away at the value of today's consumer debts in real terms.  Inflation of 7 percent a year halves ``real'' values in a decade."

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William Gibson quotes Alvin Toffler: "Today, the technologies of deception are developing more rapidly than the technologies of verification. Which means we can use a television camera, plus special effects, plus computers, etc. to falsify reality so perfectly that nobody can tell the difference. And the consequences of that eventually could be a society in which nobody believes, everybody knows that seeing is not believing, and nobody believes anything. With the exception of a small minority that decides to believe one thing fanatically. And that's a dangerous social/cultural situation"  2:24:38 PM  permalink  

daily link  Sunday, November 28, 2004

An Uncertain Trumpet: " Whatever pundits say, this election was not a wholesale repudiation of liberalism."  Good summary.  11:41:20 PM  permalink  

Red/blue conditions and values: It's been noted that red states have higher rates of divorce, and that cities in red states have more crime than cities in blue states.   This post notes that the "relationship between fundamentalism and perceived social disorder is a symbiotic one, and that the new crime statistics add another important data point to the picture. ..

[there are] interesting questions about cause and effect. For example, does it fuel the growth of new (Republican-leaning) suburbs and exurbs when neighboring cities are perceived as too dangerous to live in? ..

The more run-down neighborhoods here tend to have a very high concentration of both churches and liquor stores ..

If you live in a community with a low divorce rate, marriage is not likely to seem like an institution you need to worry about. But if you live somewhere where it seems hard for people to stay together and there's a higher divorce rate, it can feel like the whole society is melting.. "

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daily link  Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Eliyon Technologies: "provides the most comprehensive source of information on business professionals available. Our growing database currently contains over 22 million executives, managers and professionals in 1,538,217 companies. "  Impressive demo.  A natural fit for LinkedIn or Spoke.  Could impact journalism, business competitive research, intelligence.  7:11:12 PM  permalink  

The coming dollar crisis: Right on Steve.  "In my view, we are about to be taught a lesson by a world that wants America to be tethered down. And the world is going to hit America where it has a serious blindspot at the moment -- on the economic front. We are on our way to becoming a much poorer, on relative terms, superpower with the Chinese, Japanese and Europeans using currency management and debt dependency to constrain our options.

The International Herald Tribune today ran a piece by Eric Pfanner today about the Russians possibly juggling their reserve currency portfolio and offsetting the dollar-denominated parts of their reserves by adding more euros.

American economists and central bankers seem to scoff at the notion of the U.S. dollar losing its reserve currency status. But in revolutionary times, when everything seems to be changing, these sorts of anachronistic attitudes about permanence seem to be very wrong-headed. What is clear is that the Euro has become increasingly important in global transactions, and its vector is pointed up. The dollar's vector is pointed down. We need to take stock of what that means -- and what it may mean is that the bad behaviors America has been able to get away with for so long in terms of piling up debt and maintaining an irresponsibly high current account deficit may soon be impossible to maintain."

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Jim Moore's looking next at China: A policitical activist (Dean, Iraq, Sudan) considers another issue: "China's sphere of influence, and its support for governments that enslave their people and abuse human rights:  Sudan is a Chinese client state--supplying oil to China.  Burma is, as well.  And you wonder how these nations thrive despite "international" sanctions? Because China--the world's fastest growing trading state--supports them.

And note that China is expanding its relationships in Southeast Asia, the Middle East ("hey, Saudis, if you don't want to be dependent on the US, how about hooking up with us, China?"), Africa, and South America.

This IS the new red tide.  Not communism, this time, but genocidal, human rights abusing state capitalism write large.  This is the new Chinese economic ecosystem, ecosphere. "  8:10:54 AM  permalink  

daily link  Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Group Agrees to Reduce Iraqi Debt (  "Under the agreement, the Paris Club of 19 creditor nations will write off 80 percent of the $38.9 billion that Iraq owes them, group chairman Jean-Pierre Jouyet said. The Paris Club includes the United States, Japan, Russia and European nations.  Iraq owes another $80 billion to various Arab governments. A clause in the agreement gives the Paris Club the option to suspend part of the debt reduction if it were not matched by Iraq's other major creditors -- led by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

The United States had been pressing for up to 95 percent of the debt to be lifted.  .. The deal represented a considerable concession from France, just as French President Jacques Chirac's government is pushing to rebuild ties with the Bush administration .. "

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daily link  Saturday, November 20, 2004

CJR November/December 2004: Blinded by Science: "How ‘Balanced’ Coverage Lets the Scientific Fringe Hijack Reality."  Excellent critique, with detailed examples in abortion, climate change, and cloning.  10:42:02 PM  permalink  

The Death of Environmentalism: Global Warming Politics in a Post-Environmental World: Interesting essay and call to action on environmental politics.  No quick fixes, more a diagnosis of what's not working.  10:33:22 PM  permalink  

daily link  Friday, November 19, 2004

What if the Sunnis boycott the Iraq elections?: After Fallujah, many parties have endorsed a boycott.  But delay in the elections is resisted by Shiites and the US.  Juan Cole has a suggestion.  "If elections are held in January, I see only one way to avoid disaster. This would be some sort of emergency decree by the current government that sets aside, say, 20% of seats in parliament for the Sunni Arabs. This procedure would seat Sunni Arab candidates in order of the popularity of their lists and in order of their rank within the lists on which they run. But the results would essentially be "graded on a curve." In a way, this procedure is already being followed for women, who are guaranteed 30% of seats. This solution is Lebanon-like and is not optimal, but it might be the best course if long-term sectarian and ethnic conflict is to be avoided. Remember, the first thing the new parliament will do is craft a permanent constitution. You want Sunni Arabs sitting at that table, or else."  8:43:14 AM  permalink  

daily link  Thursday, November 18, 2004

Iraq - No Way Out?: "Michael Eisenstadt, from the influential Washington Institute for Near East Policy, argues in a recent study that Iraq should just forget about being able to defend itself against Iran. “For the foreseeable future, it will fall to the United States to counter Tehran’s capabilities,” he says. ..

According to the numbers Eisenstadt has culled from piles of contradictory data issued in recent months, there are now about 101,000 more-or-less trained members of the Iraqi internal security apparatus .. Plans are to double those numbers in the next year or so. But the forces that might provide defense or deterrence against Iraq’s foreign enemies are negligible. “The regular Iraqi Army has 4,507 troops,” writes Eisenstadt [and] by the end of next year it may have 27,000, and eventually perhaps 50,000. That is, about one tenth the size of Iran’s military, and less than half the size of Israel’s. [The air force has] No fighters. No bombers. Any banana republic has better air power.

“It’s clear the [American] intention has been to establish a protectorate,” says W. Patrick Lang, formerly one of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s top experts on the Middle East. A military like the one being organized in Iraq can’t threaten its neighbors, to be sure, but it can’t defend itself either—not even internally. The record in Fallujah makes that sadly apparent. The few thousand Iraqi government troops deployed there took a back seat while the Americans did all of the bombing, of course. And that will continue to be the case. The Americans also did most of the dying. At last count, eight Iraqi soldiers were killed in the same fighting that cost 51 Americans their lives.

So it’s no wonder that many Iraqis—including the majority of the insurgents, who still see themselves as fighting foreign invaders—simply don’t believe the American administration’s spin about pulling out of Iraq sometime soon. Iraq’s neighbors don’t believe that either. And neither should anyone else. "

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Daily Kos :: Terrorist Strategy 101: a quiz.  Worth a read.  11:40:34 AM  permalink  

daily link  Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Is there a "values deficit"?:  The 10 states with the highest divorce rates are all Bush states, while 9 of the 10 with the lowest divorce rates are Kerry states.  And crime stats show 7 or 8 of the 10 states with the most crime or murder are Bush states, while the bottom 10 are equally blue and red.  (In general "the high Southern murder rate is a key factor behind America's high homicide rate in comparison with other democratic, industrialized nations").  9:48:18 PM  permalink  

TaxProf Blog: Red States Feed at Federal Trough, Blue States Supply the Feed: WOnder "which states benefit from federal tax and spending policies, and which states foot the bill"?  8 of the top 10 net payers are Kerry states, 9 of the top 10 getting more than they pay are Bush states (and the other 2 are New Mexico, which hasn't been decided, and DC, which is a special case).   9:43:53 PM  permalink  

In some nations, the rise of 'shortgevity':  "It's an article of faith among most 21st-century humans that life is getting longer. In the last three decades, the average life span at birth has increased from about 60 years to 67 years worldwide, a remarkable achievement.  But in two dozen countries, human life spans are shortening." Article has table of several countries.  In US from 1970-2000, L.E. grew from 71.5 to 77.1 years.

"Today illicit drugs and alcoholism are still major social ills in the [former Soviet] region. But the outlook has begun to improve as those countries stabilize socially and economically, though longevity rates have still not returned to their peak levels of the 1980s.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the picture remains alarming. Experts attribute much of the problem to the HIV/AIDS epidemic there, which accounts for 25 million of the 40 million cases of HIV/AIDS in the world. According to the latest United Nations Human Development Report, life expectancy in Zimbabwe plummeted from 56 years in 1970-75 to just 33.1 today. Zambia went from 49.7 years to 32.4 in the same period, Lesotho from 49.5 to 35.1, and Botswana from 56.1 to 39.7. ..

Every year of life expectancy gained is estimated to raise per capita gross domestic product in a country by about 4 percent. That's prompted some researchers to question whether development aid to Africa, only about 10 percent of which is aimed at improving health, is being properly spent. It's in everyone's interest "to overcome what I call the 'longevity divide,' " Dr. Butler says.  While the per capita GDPs of sub- Saharan countries have not dipped as dramatically as their longevity rates, that measure can be deceiving, Hill says. The deaths of young adults have reduced the labor force, but that has allowed survivors to pick up extra work and boost their own earnings. Thus, the fall in per capita GDP doesn't look so bad."

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For reliable voting results, look abroad:  "Whether they use ticks on ballot papers, buttons on touch-pads, or hand-held bar code readers, foreign voters enjoy one advantage over their US counterparts: Within each country, voters cast their ballots using just one method, and those ballots are counted uniformly. ..

Even new systems in young democracies can generate trust. In Brazil, for example, which emerged from military dictatorship in 1985, all of the country's 121 million voters use electronic touch-pads in all of their elections. .. [In India] this year, 387 million voters there turned out for national parliamentary elections, all using electronic voting machines for the first time. .. Almost everywhere in Europe, votes are counted by hand, first at the polling station itself, and then at a regional center, and then again in a central office, if need be. ..

Another key difference between the US and almost every other democracy, electoral analysts point out, is the way countries from Japan to India, and from Ghana to Brazil, put their elections in the hands of independent and neutral officials. Only in the US could partisan figures such as Florida Gov. Jeb Bush have had any influence over a vote count." Neat map of US variations in article.

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daily link  Monday, November 15, 2004

Map of the World Values Survey: "The World Values Survey is a worldwide investigation of sociocultural and political change. It is conducted by a network of social scientists at leading universities all around world. The survey is performed on nationally representative samples in almost 80 societies on all six inhabited continents. A total of four waves have been carried since 1981 allowing accurate comparative analysis.

The World Values Survey has produced evidence of gradual but pervasive changes in what people want out of life. Moreover, the survey shows that the basic direction of these changes is, to some extent, predictable."

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Bin Laden + Nukes? "Osama Bin Laden approached a prominent Saudi Arabian theologian to obtain religious approval for the use of a nuclear weapon against the United States.. The theologian provided a “rather long treatise” that concluded Bin Laden was entitled to use the weapon because America was responsible for “millions of dead Muslims around the world”, said Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA unit dedicated to tracking Bin Laden.  Scheuer resigned from the CIA last Friday to enable him to speak freely .. Scheuer says Bin Laden was criticised in some Muslim circles because he failed to provide advance warning of the September 11 attacks and, according to some interpretations of Islamic law, should first have offered to help convert his victims to Islam.  Scheuer argues that Bin Laden’s recent video appearance amounted to a warning of a future attack. "

Meanwhile, "A key al-Qaeda operative seized in Pakistan recently offered an alarming account of the group's potential plans to target the U.S. with weapons of mass destruction, senior U.S. security officials tell TIME. Sharif al-Masri, an Egyptian who was captured in late August near Pakistan's border with Iran and Afghanistan, has told his interrogators of "al-Qaeda's interest in moving nuclear materials from Europe to either the U.S. or Mexico," according to a report circulating among U.S. government officials. Masri also said al-Qaeda has considered plans to "smuggle nuclear materials to Mexico, then operatives would carry material into the U.S.," according to the report, parts of which were read to TIME. Masri says his family, seeking refuge from al-Qaeda hunters, is now in Iran. "

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10-region electoral map: Interesting way to read the national results, with a slightly clearer analysis from a newspaper.  11:15:32 AM  permalink  

Powell's legacy: Excellent, and highly critical, review of Powell's role in Bush foreign policy.  "Powell has chosen to remain associated with a foreign policy that has been calamitous in its application, if not necessarily its goals. The irony, of course, is that it is a foreign policy over which Powell has exercised little influence. But resigning out of pique or principle is not the Powell way, and his willingness to conspire in his own diminishment is entirely in character: As an Army staffer during the Vietnam War, he failed to investigate reports of the My Lai massacre; as Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger's military attaché in the 1980s, he put aside his own objections and helped funnel weapons to Iran as part of the arms-for-hostages deal. .. there is no evidence that he protested the decision to put the Pentagon in charge of administering postwar Iraq; no evidence, either, that he tried to intervene when Warrick was barred from going to Baghdad, or that he spoke up when the Pentagon began blocking other State Department appointees to the Coalition Provisional Authority. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz have repeatedly muscled in on Powell's turf, Bolton has repeatedly subverted his authority. But if Powell has voiced any displeasure to the president, or even to Rice, it is the best-kept secret in Washington. "I don't think he's fighting, and I can't understand why," says one high-ranking official from the first Bush administration. "  8:47:34 AM  permalink  

DEMS WON 3,000,000 MORE SENATE VOTES THAN GOP: Summing popular vote in Senate races, Dems have won more votes than republicans in the last 3 election cycles, yet have never controlled the Senate.  By the way, for reference, 39% of elegible voters didn't vote in 2004, making the presidential vote 31% to 30% of eligibles.  12:33:43 AM  permalink  

daily link  Sunday, November 14, 2004

CIA "purge?":  "The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to knowledgeable sources.  "The agency is being purged on instructions from the White House," said a former senior CIA official who maintains close ties to both the agency and to the White House. "Goss was given instructions ... to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats. The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president's agenda."" 

From washingtonpost: "Within the past month, four former deputy directors of operations have tried to offer CIA Director Porter J. Goss advice about changing the clandestine service without setting off a rebellion, but Goss has declined to speak to any of them, said former CIA officials aware of the communications. The four senior officials represent nearly two decades of experience leading the Directorate of Operations under both Republican and Democratic presidents. The officials were dismayed by the reaction and were concerned that Goss has isolated himself from the agency's senior staff, said former clandestine service officers aware of the offers."  In NYT, David Brooks offers a justification.

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daily link  Saturday, November 13, 2004

Caught in the Net: Maldives Repression:  "Late this summer, Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom employed an extraordinary tactic to quell a two-day pro-democracy uprising in his small Indian Ocean nation: He completely cut off Internet access and text messaging via cell phone, apparently to prevent activists from contacting press organizations and others outside the islands. Gayoom has ruled the Maldives since 1978, and his cabinet said the decision reflected “patience, wisdom, and leadership.” Free-speech advocates called the move irresponsible and unprecedented. There was one exception to Gayoom’s Internet ban—his personal Web site remained up and running, with regular updates during the 48-hour affair.  FP invites readers to suggest incidents in which a government, corporation, or any organization is involved in a unique technological abuse at"  8:42:15 AM  permalink  

daily link  Friday, November 12, 2004

Dangerous Loose Ends: "Duelfer notes that some chemical and biological weapons technology was in the hands of the former Iraqi Intelligence Service and may be finding its way into the armories of the insurgents. One passage in Duelfer’s testimony is especially spooky. His group “has uncovered evidence of such links and undertook a sizable effort to track down and prevent any latch-ups between foreign terrorists or anti-Coalition forces and either existing CW [chemical-weapons] stocks or expertise from the former regime that could be used to produce such weapons.”

But the results were not really conclusive. “I believe we got ahead of this problem through a series of raids throughout the spring and summer,” Duelfer told the Senate. “I am convinced that we successfully contained a problem before it matured into a major threat. Nevertheless, it points to the problem that the dangerous expertise developed by the previous regime could be transferred to other hands. Certainly there are anti-Coalition and terrorist elements seeking such capabilities.”

In other words, terrorists may have a better chance now of acquiring chemical or biological weapons from Iraq, or the techniques for making them, than they ever did when Saddam was in power...

The interim Iraqi government has responded by saying everything’s under control. But, then, that’s what it always says. It has also suggested the IAEA come back for a firsthand look, which the United States generally has discouraged in the past. That would be a positive step, if it happens."

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Iraq decentralized: "Iraq’s controversial national-security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, may have come up with a better idea: take the country apart, then put it back together. He calls this vision “democratic regionalism,” a loose federal system of four to six separate, powerful provinces. The Sunni heartland—“the Triangle”—would not be able to dominate the rest of the nation, but it could run its own affairs. “The Triangle would have its own regime, its own security forces, its own recruitment,” he says. If they want to become a Talibanized fundamentalist region, “good luck,” he says. But he thinks that can be avoided. “They will be surrounded,” says Al-Rubaie, and they will be largely dependent on oil revenues generated in other parts of the country, which would be allotted according to population.

To the north, the Kurds would have their own province with a very high degree of autonomy, but something less than full independence—which is pretty much what they have now anyway. To the south, there would be at least two Shiite provinces: one centered on the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, the other including the oil-rich regions around Basra and An Nasiriya. Baghdad would be a separate district as the seat of the federal government whose only responsibilities would be for inter-regional affairs, foreign policy, currency, banking and (nominally) national defense...

He insists his new plan simply faces facts. “Violence and terror have been the glue that kept Iraq a centralized state,” he says. The Americans took that away when they removed Saddam, and neither they nor the current Iraqi government can replace it by reinstating a new reign of terror."

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Exit poll issues: Nice summary and graphic on the exit poll discrepancy problem in the November election.  7:06:39 AM  permalink  

daily link  Sunday, November 07, 2004

Suggest an X PRIZE: "The concept of the [World Technology Network] WTN X PRIZES is to utilize the concepts, procedures, technologies and publicity developed X PRIZE Foundation's Ansari X PRIZE competition for space and .. launch a series of technology prizes seeking to meet the greatest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century."  I think I'll suggest a few in sustainable energy, starting with catalysis of cellulose to liquid fuel, efficient electricity storage systems, small-scale low-grade heat to electricity conversion.  Desalination and other water purification would be another high-impact sustainability technology.  12:04:10 PM  permalink  

daily link  Saturday, November 06, 2004

U.S. Expands List of Lost Missiles: More terrorism supplies lost in Iraq.  "American intelligence agencies have tripled their formal estimate of shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile systems believed to be at large worldwide, since determining that at least 4,000 of the weapons in Iraq's prewar arsenals cannot be accounted for, government officials said Friday. A new government estimate says a total of 6,000 of the weapons may be outside the control of any government, up from a previous estimate of 2,000, American officials said.  ..

Only several hundred shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles from the Iraqi arsenals have been turned in to American forces in a buyout program, the government officials said. .. surface-to-air missiles in Iraq were not sealed or monitored by weapons inspectors before the war and may have been widely dispersed among the Iraqi forces in the field."

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daily link  Friday, November 05, 2004

Projection and political passion: "I think it's sadly ironic that voters in red and purple states -- people who, by and large, have never experienced a terrorist attack first-hand and probably don't encounter many gays (that they know of) in their daily lives -- turned out in droves out of their fear of terrorism and homosexuality. "  11:02:36 PM  permalink  

100,000 Iraqis Dead: Should We Believe It?  Good review of the Lancet paper estimating 98,000 more Iraqi deaths as a consequence  of the invasion, rather than the 10-30,000 that had be earlier thought.  There is a wide range in the study; there's a 95% chance the incremental deaths are between 8,000 and 190,000, with 98,000 as the middle number.  But there are many mehodological reasons to think the number might be higher than the middle. Worth reading.  8:39:33 AM  permalink  

Greg Palast says Kerry Won: The Florida investigator that got BBC coverage in 2000 offers his take on Ohio:  "Bush won Ohio by 136,483 votes. Typically in the United States, about 3 percent of votes cast are voided—known as “spoilage” in election jargon—because the ballots cast are inconclusive. Palast’s investigation suggests that if Ohio’s discarded ballots were counted, Kerry would have won the state. Today,  the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports  there are a total of 247,672 votes not counted in Ohio, if you add the 92,672 discarded votes plus the 155,000 provisional ballots."  Many studies show these are predominantly from poor and minority districts, which in Ohio are still using punch cards.  If 90% of the uncounted were good and went 66% Kerry, he'd have a Florida-2000 style majority.  In my view, this is unlikely, with military and absentees yet to be counted, etc.  Palast claims it's even more true in New Mexico.

Meanwhile there's much commotion about unaudited electronic voting machines, which have proven and frequent security holes (esp. modem access) allowing silent tampering, with several documented cases.  Knowing the technology these use (MS Access and RAS), I'm sure they're very easy to hack. 

Partisan election officials, dubious technology, varations that bias against minorities -- the US electoral mechanisms are a mess.  Reforms, and routine deterrent audits, are needed. As one contributor to the Washington Note writes, "What [does anyone] have against ensuring an open and honest system? What is conspiratorial about checking out something a great many people have been rightly leery about since it was first proposed (voting using proprietal software without a paper trail)?  Looking at the voting patterns could vindicate [the winner]. What is unacceptable is having ballots that can't be verified. ..

Why am I interested? I'm not American but I want to know that the President was legitimately elected. I want to be able to trust American election results the way I can trust results in Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Canada, Denmark, Germany, the UK.... You get the picture. Sure you have coercive power but I would think you would want American power to rest on more than that and a Bill Reilly style shut-up to those with doubts about the system will not make the doubts go away. America's not such a pretty democracy. It needs cleaned up (Look for instance at the electoral districts: so horibbly gerrymandered by whatever the side in power that most races are hopelessly uncompetitive). A good democracy would I think be a bipartisan concern."  A Republican respondent says "I think more people have doubts that anyone realizes - I hear it everywhere, even from my most Conservative friends, because believe me, one day we will be one the other side and we will be crying too."

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Source of Clinton's victories: Was it Ross Perot?:  "was Bill Clinton really all that successful at reaching some "part of the electorate" that Al Gore and John Kerry haven't nailed down? .. As Ruy Teixeira points out, "Bill Clinton actually carried the white working class (whites without a four year college degree) by a point in both his election bids. But in 2000, Al Gore lost these voters by 17 points; in 2002, Democratic congressional candidates lost this group by 18 points and this year, the situation appears to have worsened further."

But those Clinton figures -- like Clinton's popular-vote wins -- are two-party numbers from a three-person race. Only 43 percent of the population supported Clinton in 1992. In 1996 he got 49.23 percent, Gore dropped to 48.38 percent in 2000, and Kerry got 48.11 percent in 2004. There's been, in other words, extremely little slippage in the Democratic Party's appeal since the electoral college landslide of 1996, the radically different geography of the result notwithstanding. The real change has been in the appeal of the Republicans, who've gone from a tiny 37 percent vote-share in '92 to 41 percent in '96, 48 percent in 2000, and 51 percent in 2004 while the Democrats have stayed about the same over the past twelve years. With Clinton or without him, the Democrats haven't found a way to achieve a majority since Jimmy Carter's day, so trying to replicate Clinton's success without conjuring up a Ross Perot may not accomplish anything. "

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America is purple: Nice county-level map of election resuls, with shades of red and blue, showing how close the election was, and how limited solid blue and red are. Large version also online.  Update: Several formats are now online.  12:01:54 AM  permalink  

daily link  Tuesday, November 02, 2004

What's the matter with West Virginia?: "Bush's appeal to America's underclass" .. "It is clear from what we saw in the Appalachians that the populism of the US right no longer feeds mainly on racism (West Virginia came out against slavery during the civil war) or on xenophobia. On the contrary it draws on resentment fuelled by the upper classes’ undisguised contempt for those not in the know. This particular kind of populism almost exclusively targets the cultural elite; it does not target business. This con trick is only possible because the smugness of those in the know is even more insufferable than the insolence of the rich."  12:53:26 PM  permalink  

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