This in an article in today's Variety caught my eye:
Sen. John Kerry is no fan of mega-mergers and big media, even though he boasts plenty of powerful friends at some of the largest congloms in the country.
Just one day after touting his business endorsements from such media heavies as News Corp.'s Peter Chernin, Paramount's Sherry Lansing and Viacom's Tom Freston, Democratic presidential nominee Kerry told an audience of minority journalists Thursday that he opposed the idea of big media conglomerates growing even bigger.
"I'm against the ongoing push for media consolidation," he said during a Q&A at the Unity 2004 conference. "It's contrary to the stronger interests of the country."
Kerry went on to say he believes the Federal Communications Commission's decision last year to relax rules governing media concentration should be reversed. If he were president, he said, he would pursue a media policy seeking as diverse and broad an ownership as possible.
"It is critical to who we are as free people," he said firmly. "It's critical to our democracy."
The trouble with characterizing the media as "liberal" has always been that in spite of any possible personal liberal lean on the part of reporters and editors (most of whom do their best to compensate for it, and in fact end up overcompensating), the ownership of the media has become more and more corporate, and, as consolidation continues apace, more and more concentrated in the hands of a few powerful business people who are not only politically conservative, but also dedicated to corporate power, which many times will have interests antithetical to the promotion of democracy.
The problem wasn't nearly as acute when the management of the news media's corporate owners were, in some measure, dedicated to preserving and protecting an objective kind of journalism, and news organizations were to a significant extent independent within the corporate structure. They weren't expected to make a profit, they were considered to be something like "loss leaders" in a supermarket which lose money when sold but serve the function of attracting people into the store. To have a good news division within a television network, for instance, was considered to be a sign of a quality operation, and journalists were, more or less, free from corporate control or hassling.
That's all changed, of course. News organizations are now expected to be corporate profit centers, which alone would increase the input and control inflicted on them by their corporate masters, but when you add in the effects of consolidation and the rise of the all-powerful media baron, such as Rupert Murdoch, you have a situation where every single reporter and editor in every single news organization could be a wild-eyed anarchist, and the resulting news coverage would still show a marked conservative bias. (Probably.)
Anyway, think of Kerry's remarks the next time you see some coverage of him and his campaign by the SCLM that appears slanted or inappropriate. Being on record as opposing increased corporate consolidation certainly can't have won him many friends in high places in the media. (Although, according the the Variety piece, he does have some:
In addition to Chernin, Lansing and Freston, other major players in the entertainment world [supporting Kerry] include Warner Music Group topper Edgar Bronfman Jr., as well as his father, Edgar Bronfman Sr.; Sony Pictures Entertainment topper Michael Lynton and Sony Motion Picture Group chair Amy Pascal; entertainment mogul Kirk Kerkorian; DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg; Oxygen Media topper Geraldine Laybourne; retired Time Warner chieftain Gerald Levin; Discovery Communications prexy Judith McHale; Saban Capital Group topper Haim Saban; Nickelodeon Networks exec veep Marva Smalls; and Miramax co-chairmen Harvey and Bob Weinstein.
Now that more than a full week has gone by since the end of the Democratic convention, it's a good time to take another survey of Electoral College tracking / prediction / projection / forecast / scoreboard / map sites to see if we can find any indication of a change in Kerry's status as a result of that confab.
It's been less than a week since my last survey, but already there have been 30 new state polls, and even though 12 of them are the next-to-worthless Rasmussen 1-month monstrosities, another 15 of them are in the 22 states that I consider to be swingers -- and most sites have registered significant changes already. Let's see what they are.
This time, for the first time, I won't start with my own prediction, but simply include it in the list. Another change -- I've dropped Charlie Cook and Larry Sabato, because their projections are well out of date now (I'll reinstate them when they see fit to update their predictions), and I've also dropped the National Journal as well since free access to their Hotline website won't be available again until the Republican convention, at which time I'll put them back too. (If someone with a sub to NJ wants to send me their numbers, I'll add update the list with them.)
Now, here are the predictions and projections:
[Note: From each of these websites I've taken the most comprehensive set of numbers offered, if possible without a "toss-up" category or other caveats, just Kerry versus Bush. Many of them differentiate between "solid" or "strong", "slightly" or "weak", and "leaning" or "barely" states, but I've combined them all together in order to present numbers which are as comparable as possible. I encourage everyone to use the links and check each site for the specifics of that site's methodology and presentation. -- Ed]
*To do this conversion I've assigned any state in which the value of the Bush-wins contract is over 50 to Bush, and any state under 50 to Kerry. For alternatives see this comment thread. Update: Bruce D. Kothmann has more on the subject here.
Tripias (8/6): Kerry 296 - Bush 242 (was: 306-232)
Sam Wang (8/6): Kerry 307 - Bush 231 (was: 300-238)
Kerry winning: 22 (was: 18 - one dropped site had Kerry winning) Kerry ahead: 5 (was: 6 - one dropped site had Kerry ahead)
Bush winning: 3 (was: 3) Bush ahead: 0 (was: 1 - one dropped site had Bush ahead)
Kerry gained: 16 (was: 4) Kerry lost: 4 (was: 12)
Bush gained: 4 (was: 12) Bush lost: 16 (was: 6)
?? gained: 0 (was: 6) ?? lost: 7 (was: 2)
No change: 3 (was: 4) Not updated: 1 (was: 3) New: 5 (was: 4) Temporarily dropped: 3
ALL SITES MEAN: Kerry 287 - Bush 230 (remainder: 21) (was: 273-236-29)
MEDIAN: Kerry 296 - Bush 231 (remainder: 11) (was: 276.5-240.5-21)
MODE: Kerry 296 - Bush 231 (remainder: 11) (was: 264-246-27)
SITES WITH NO ?? MEAN: Kerry 297 - Bush 241 (was: 288-250)
MEDIAN: Kerry 298.5 - Bush 239.5 (was: 290-248)
MODE: Kerry 296 - Bush 242 (was: 291-247)
Whether you want to call it a "convention bounce" or not, clearly those who do their best to track the status of the Electoral College have determined that Kerry is doing better right now than he was in my last survey less than a week ago. Although he was clearly ahead then, he has fortified his position now, gaining votes at the expense of Bush and winning previously unassigned states.
There is not complete unanimity: 3 sites still have Bush winning, but it's worth noting that 2 of those sites are the result of the cumulative activity of a large number of people (either trading in predictive contracts or posting personal predictions), and therefore would reasonably be assumed to move more slowly in responding to changing circumstances. In addition, the third of these sites is the only one included that hasn't been updated since the last survey.
Although I hesitate to offer it (because it happens to be my own prediction at the moment) the averages seem to suggest that a good ballpark estimation of the current state of the Electoral College is:
Kerry 296 - Bush 242.
As always, if anyone has links for any other sites that regularly track Electoral College status, please feel free to send them my way and I'll be glad to add them to the list. I'm also more than happy to hear from the proprietors of any of the sites surveyed here, should they have any complaints, comments, or suggestions for improvements.
Also, it's embarassing to admit, but I didn't realize that Zogby actually made a projection in their notes to the latest Battleground poll report, so I've included it as well, and updated the summary.
Another site I've just run across, Young Conservatives hasn't been updated since 7/23, before the Democratic convention. I'll keep an eye on it, and if it updates by the time I prepare the next survey (in a week or so), I'll include it then. (Their last result was Kerry 190 - Bush 278 - ?? 70.)
I've also made a pass through all of the sites, checking to make sure that I've got the latest figures from all of them (and in the process correcting some typos regarding the dates I put down for some of them). As of 11:20 EDT, I believe that they're all current.
Update (8/8):Our Campaigns bills itself as a "collaborative political news site." It certainly has a lot of information contained in its many pages, but I found the presentation of it rather confusing, and grew very weary of having to do multiple click-throughs to find what I wanted. The site allows members to assign each state in the presidential election as "slight," "leaning," "strong," and "safe," for all the candidates on the ballot in that state, and you can find the totals for each state on a seperate page, but there was no place that I could find that all the totals for all the states in the country were presented at once. As a result, unless I'm missing something (and I looked very assiduously), to get their collective wisdom on the outcome of the Electoral College you have to look for (click ... click ... click ... click ... click ...) and add up the totals for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
This I was not willing to do, but my list of 22 swing states is probably the most inclusive of anyone's, so I did take the time (a considerable amount of time, actually, almost as long as doing the rest of the survey) to collect their totals for those states. Assuming that there were no suprises in the other 29 predictions, the collective wisdom of their 140 or so members was:
This, of course, matches up precisely with the results of the two other collective sites, Tradesports and the Leip Atlas, and probably represents the same kind of lagging response as they do.
(Perhaps I should divide the survey up into collective sites and individual sites, since they seem to come to such different conclusions.)
I'm not going to include Our Campaigns in the survey, because of the great amount of work it represents to collect its information -- unless, that it, someone clues me in on an easier way to get it, or a page that I'm somehow missing. Should that happen, I'll be glad to include it in the future.
(In case anyone's interested, I've checked, and including both Young Conservatives and Our Campaigns in the survey would not have changed the averages appreciably. The mean for all sites would change slightly from 287-230-21 to 283-233-22, but the mode and median would stay the same. In the summary, of course, there would be 5 sites with Bush winning instead of 3.
Please note that I have most assuredly not excluded these sites because of their results, but for the reasons given here, and I'll happily include them next time if those conditions change.)
Update (8/10):MyDD has a proportional electoral vote map keyed to the latest poll results now up in the right-hand column of the site. You can get to it directly here, but that would mean missing out on all the other good stuff that Jerome and Chris and the rest of the crew provide.
I'll be adding it to the survey as of the next iteration (most probably Sunday night/Monday morning).
BTW, I may be thick, but I guess I can see through a brick wall given enough time. It's occured to me that I can fairly easily get the Our Campaigns electoral vote total by looking at the map generated by "member average prediction" and then using one of the many graphic electoral college calculators to add up the votes -- that's assuming that the map actually updates in the way that it's labelled to do. Since that's fairly easy, I'll including the site in the next update.
On the other hand, as of now Young Conservatives still hasn't updated its prediction, so its status is still uncertain.
One final note, Thomas B. Fagan is the former editor-in-chief of ElectNet.org and a contributing editor at a site called Rumor Mill News (which seems to be accompanied by a large number of annoying pop-ups), where his articles are slugged "Electline." He's sent me his electoral vote analysis, a handicapping system in which:
each race projects an under/over point spread between the first and second place finishers in each race. It works just like football and basketball point spreads. In a two man race, a “-4” , for example, means I am projecting a 52-48 final result.
The system depends very little on polls, but heavily on previous results, demographics, voter registration, and miscellaneous details relevant to the candidates, issues, and the region. Incumbency is a relatively heavy factor in U.S. House races, but less for Presidential, U.S. Senate, and gubernatorial contests.
He includes his figures for each state, with a very brief analysis for each, and then concludes:
This projects to Bush 300 to Kerry 238. However, 94 of Bush’s electoral votes and 70 of Kerry’s are in states projected as closer than 5 points. Minor swings in fortune could elect either man.
Unfortunately, Mr. Fagan's analysis is not linked to any particular web address (and, in fact, I couldn't find it on the Rumor Mill News site either), so I'm hesitant to include it on the survey, since there's no place for people to look at his work and check out his methodology. He's promised to keep me updated.
[A]s Dick Morris explained, you don't attack your opponent on their strongest issue. If there's one issue that Bush and Rove want out of the news, it's Kerry's Vietnam experience. But not only did this ad draw attention to it, it gave rise to a whole slew of news reports that are unfavorable for Bush. I mean, good Lord, what did they think would happen when they accused Kerry of lying about saving Rassmann's life (who is a Republican, by the way)? Do you think it occurred to them that Rassmann would get to go on all the TV stations and explain yet again how Kerry charged enemy fire to save his life. That's off message guys - you're supposed to be talking about Kerry's record in the Senate this week.
He explains why Kerry didn't get much of a bounce (although, of course, he did -- it just didn't show up in the horse race numbers)
He lays out why Kerry is in pretty good shape, without categorizing any of the recent improvements in his positions as a convention bouce (which, of course, it is), and why Bush is in deep doo-doo
He uses that explanation to lower expectations for Bush ("Given all of this, don't expect any real bounce after the Republicans convene in New York later this month."), which will, of course, be quite helpful to the Bush campaign when they don't get any convention bounce, or when they get a modest one. (Sometimes I think Bush's autobiography will be entitled "How I Almost Managed to Make a Success of Myself Despite Lower Expectations and the Help of Stinking Rich Family and Friends")
He manages to completely ignore a very pertinent question: if all the conditions for supressing a convention bounce were in place before the Democratic convention (and they were, just as much as they are now), where was Zogby when Matthew Dowd was raising expectations of a big Kerry bounce? In other words, why, we wonder, did Zogby choose to explain the dynamics of bounce-suppression just now?
[T]here is a new left being built, a lot more like the old left of the '30's, minus the communists and the street fighting. A pragmatic, results oriented, positive left which is working for real change.
I know this must seem boring to the Greens with their interminable meetings and pointless protests, but these groups, using sophisiticated methods of organizing and raising cash, have not only outstripped the third parties, still tied to methods which had seen their best days in the 1960's, but also outdid the right, tied to near communist methods of directing the faithful. Rush, the National Review, they get ideas from the top and spread them downward.The left is taking real grassroots ideas and using them.
The 527's like Move On and ACT have unprecidented levels of outside concensus. Instead of hiring an ad agency, Move on solicited ads from the public and paid to have the winner of their contest broadcast on TV. These are not PACs who raise money from special interests, but from the public.
The new left is resolutely middle class and moderate. It isn't about radical change but incremental reform. Also, by using technology to make human connections, they are less prone to be captive to dogma, because of the constant influx of different voices. And while this process obviously has flaws, it creates on of the ideals of the founding fathers-participatory democracy. Not just in voting, but in setting policy.
Why might this work?
What many on the Green left don't get is that Americans hate politics. They hate partisanship and the loabels Democrat and Republican have enough freight attached to them as is. The reason the Reform Party exploded was that it was a centrist party. The reason it failed was that Ross Perot was an egomaniac who refused to turn his cult into a real party, then Buchanan stepped in.
The one aspect of this new left populism which works is that it is no longer the leader centered model. These people don't need a Nader or an Abbie Hoffman to lead them to the promised land. Decisions are made by group concensus and the groups which run these organizations make no pretense of being leaders of a mass movement. You don't get Harold Ickes talking about his ACT organization.
The Green left may never accept this as a model of reform, but what have their methods gotten them? Candidates who can't get five percent of the vote in a national election, limited power, if any, in America's largest cities. We've tried their "everyone has a voice" model and it leads to petty politics and inaction because the loudest voice wins or bitches so much no one can do anything. When you have an organization like Move On or ACT, with clear goals, it is far easier to organize people to carry them out.
The new groups pose a challenge to both the right and the left. To the right, they are visible demonstrations that their agenda is not dogma prevented from flowering from a liberal media. To the far left, they prove that people will endorse left of center ideas, but not their left of center ideas.
There's more, and worth taking a moment to read it all. Not the best written (or best spelled) essay that's ever been published, but full of sharp observations and terrific insights. (Still can't get Steve's site to open correctly for me most of the time, though.)
I believe that Democrats should give no ground on this. We represent real American values and we have every right to use the traditional language and symbols of patriotism to express that. We are the ones who stand for the constitution and the American system of justice, which we hold so dear that even in times of war we do not waver. We are the ones who believe in the sacred American values of Liberty, Equality, Opportunity and Democracy and we are the ones who work to ensure that every American, not just the privileged, share in them. We are the ones who have faith that America is strong enough to survive any challenge without sacrificing those values. The flag and Sousa and apple pie and love of country are not the exclusive property of the Republican Party; they belong to all Americans. We should take them back.
(AP) Republican Rep. Katherine Harris said Wednesday she regrets making the claim that a plot existed to blow up the power grid in Carmel, Ind., a notion city officials disputed.
But the Florida lawmaker stands by her statement that based on classified information, the United States has thwarted more than 100 potential terrorist attacks.
Harris, who was at the center of the political storm over the disputed 2000 presidential election, made the comments about terrorism and the plot on Monday at a rally for President Bush in Venice, Fla., and a subsequent interview with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
She told the audience that while in the Midwest recently, the mayor of Carmel told her how a man of Middle Eastern heritage had been arrested and hundreds of pounds of explosives were found in his home.
"He had plans to blow up the area's entire power grid," she said, according to the newspaper.
City officials in Carmel said they know of no such plot.
"We're aware of the comments we read in the paper," said Tim Green, assistant chief of police in Carmel, a town about 10 miles north of Indianapolis. "We're not aware of any plans to blow up Carmel's power grid."
Nancy Heck, a spokeswoman for Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard, said, "The mayor never talked to Katherine Harris. They never had that conversation."
Questioned Wednesday, Harris' office issued a statement in which the congresswoman said, "I regret that I had no knowledge of the sensitive nature of this situation."
But Harris stood by her comments to the newspaper that the United States has thwarted potential attacks in the last three years, which she said was based on classified information.
"Actually, it's been more than 100," she told the newspaper. "It's classified ... obviously not classified to me ... but things I can't go into details about." She said only the specifics of the thwarted attacks were classified.
She said Wednesday in a statement that her comments underscore the need "for each of us to remain alert and vigilant in fighting terrorism."
Harris serves on the House Financial Services Committee and the International Relations Committee, which often gets briefed on terrorism. She does not serve on the House Intelligence Committee.
Disclosure of classified information is forbidden by law and by the rules of Congress, which require members to take an oath. However, prosecutions or sanctions of members for revealing secret information are rare.
I can't believe it
And people are strange
Our president's crazy
Did you hear what he said
"Making Flippy Floppy"
In his column in today's Washington Post, Richard Cohen asks "Who's the Flip-flopper?":
The answer, of course, is that Bush flip-flops all the time. If he had been in public life as long as Kerry has, his flip-flops would be as legion as the fish in the sea.
But it is the areas in which Bush's convictions have not changed that are the most troubling, and this includes a religiosity that comforts him in his intellectual inertness and granite-like beliefs that are impervious to logic, such as his tax policy and his relentless march to war in Iraq. Flip-flopping, like beauty, is in the mind of the beholder. It can be an indicator of an alert mind, one that adjusts to new realities, or it can be evidence of ambition decoupled from principle. With Kerry it's a mix of both. With Bush, who changes his positions but never his mind, it is always the latter.
The Kerry campaign simply hasn't been as aggressive about pushing the "Bush and Cheney are rich" argument as the Bush campaign has been about portraying the Democrats that way.
These figures may go some way to explain Kerry's reluctance to dive into that issue, given that he's got somewhere around 10 to 100 times more in assets than Bush, and 15 to over 200 times more in income.
Geez, it almost makes me feel sorry for Bush, being such a relative pauper.
(Of course, it's not how much money you've got, but how you got it, and what you do with it -- and the power it confers on you -- that counts.)
Back right after the Dean campaign imploded, I felt like the most important thing I'd learned in my brief foray into politics was that the Democrats needed to do two things: 1) get a coherent message, styled along the lines suggested by George Lakoff, and 2) set up a network to distribute talking points with this message among liberal pundits and supporters, to hammer those points into the media stream.
To my great surprise and delight, number (1) has happened. The speeches were just brimming with Lakoff-ian inspired bits. Lakoff's ideas have caught on in the Kerry campaign, and it shows.
Sadly, we may blow it for lack of number (2). Where are all the Democrats repeatedly endlessly that Kerry will "restore trust and credibility" to the White House, that "help is on the way," that Kerry knows that "we're all in the same boat?" Why do I feel like Kerry and Edwards are out there flying solo with their message?
And while we're at it, why isn't the Kerry campaign instructing all their prominent supporters how to shoot down the Republican talking point that "Kerry and Edwards are number one and number four most liberal Senators?"
This raises an important question, one that has future ramifications as well as immediate ones.
Solid steps have been taken to start the creation of a center-left infrastructure of various kinds of institutions (527s, foundations, think-tanks) to counter that built by the right in the past 30+ years, and that's good, but very little has been done to try to even things out in the media, with the exception of Air America -- and the jury's still out on how much influence it will have. Without some sort of progressive media establishment to do battle with the one currently dominated by the right-wing, that Great Wurlitzer can continue to make sure that the only tune we hear is the one that it plays.
(The effect is so strong, and the reach so pervasive, that even mainstream media purveys only watered-down versions of the radical-conservative play list, embodied not so much in the content offered -- although it's certainly there as well -- as in the assumptions under which they make their choices and present their wares. In that environment, it's always liberal and progessive ideas that are forced to run the gantlet before being considered or presented, and conservative ideas -- some of them quite antithetical to true American values -- which are presumed to be normal or usual.)
So that's the big program, the long-term need, to create some version of a Wurlitzer of our own. Blogs help, the big ones anyway, but they're not sufficient, they cannot carry the weight that mass media can carry. In the end, someone with resources similar to Murdoch's -- like Soros, for instance -- is going to have to bite the bullet and buy into the media marketplace in a big way to create what is needed. The big media we have now are just too skewed to be nudged back into place, and must instead be supplemented or replaced.
In the meantime, however, why isn't Kerry using the DNC in the way that Bush uses the RNC, as the central headquarters for the distribution of talking points and scripted messages? And while we're on the subject of keeping on message, why hasn't someone strongarmed Joe Lieberman yet? Obviously, his conscience isn't going to reign him in, so somebody else will have to be his Jiminy Cricket and get the bastard to shut up.
George W. Bush, a child of wealth and privilege and heir to an American political dynasty, did not pay his dues. He did not have to. His name was Bush and he ran for president because he could and because he was tapped by Republican Party poobahs. Governor Bush's acquired skills were mostly political, gleaned from doing campaign duty for his father. His presidential campaign, really the soul of simple-mindedness, showcased only one major idea—massive tax cuts that the country clearly could not afford. That one flawed idea, combined with a mushy all-purpose and never defined concept labeled "compassionate conservatism," provided Bush with just enough rhetoric to keep him under the radar and get him through the politics of the 2000 presidential campaign. He was, and is, carefully "handled" by political operatives who work hard to shield him from complicated or probing questions, and keep him to "bullet points" of repetition. His major talent seems always to have been in raising money. And the money poured in from the corporate interests, who knew they would have a reliable friend in the White House if Bush won.
A friend e-mailed me an article which originated in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Ten things you can do to defeat Bush-Cheney and save the country. The advice is good, if pretty much the usual stuff: register and vote, give money, organize, get involved, get educated and educate others, visit a swing state, and so on, and there's a lot of good information included (so take a look).
This, however, in the introduction to the piece, bothered me:
During the fall campaign, and certainly after this election, it's important to demand that Democrats address the antiwar, economic, and social justice issues that animate us.
In actuality, forcing Kerry to address the left's pet issues, "keeping his feet to the fire," as the saying goes, especially where the war in Iraq is concerned, is a damned good way to lose the whole precious election, and that's even more certain to be true if every other group within the Democratic coalition makes the same kind of demands, as has been the case in the past.
We can't win this election by doing things the way they've always been done.
Sure, there are important matters of principle at stake in this election, there are always imporant matters of principle at stake when we get together to elect a president, but much more important this time around is a simple practical matter: who is going to control the reigns of government?
So, remember when conservatives sent out the plea to moderates to "Let Reagan be Reagan"? Well, here's my message to the left:
LET KERRY BE!!
From the evidence of the convention, the tone of the campaign, and the tactical and strategic decisions he's made so far, he and his people appear to know precisely what he has to do to appeal to the centrist, moderate voter, and without their support he will lose and we will have another four years of Bush -- four more years in which he and his posse can wreak even more havoc on the nation and the world and continue (perhaps all unknowingly) to destroy the very essence of the ideals and practices that make America great, important, and worth saving.
We have to trust that Kerry is a good man, and that his administration will, for the most part, do the right things -- but even if it turns out to be mildly conservative (not terribly likely given Kerry's legislative record), it will still be much, much, MUCH better than keeping Bush in office, and that's the bottom line, the one thing worth keeping in mind at all times.
(After the election is a slightly different matter, but even then liberals and leftists have to be willing to give Kerry enough leeway to operate within the confines of an alliance with moderate Republicans like Chaffee, Collins and Snowe, which is the only way Kerry is going to get anything done at all, presuming that we're not going to take back Congress in this election, which seems likely.)
So do all the things suggested in the article, learn more, give more, get involved, work to register people and encourage everyone you know to vote, heckle Bush, deride Cheney and talk up the Democratic ticket, but lay off of Kerry.
Get back! Give him air!
[Thanks to Peggy]
Update: In comments, Chuck Buckley points out that I might have overreacted to that one sentence in the article in question, and I agree that it was pretty pro forma, and that the rest of the article has good, useful information.
During his speech at the convention, Bill Clinton (who is no fan of the man who succeeded him), made a point of explaining: "George Bush isn't a bad person, he's a nice person. He loves his country. But he's wrong."
In this single quote, we can see the Clinton strategy for the Party unfurled. The idea is to be less extreme and more centrist (and to shrink Bush with a gentle head-patting); not only in terms of policy but in terms of tone. I have mixed feelings when it comes to the former. I'm fully on board when it comes to the latter.
Regardless of the claims of Ralph Nader, there are plenty of significant policy and issues-oriented reasons to differentiate the candidates and these should be the focus of Party activists. It may be fun to paint Bush as evil or stupid or the worst person in America. But it doesn't help.[Emphasis added -- Ed]
Those wishing to lure undecideds and even to rally the base have no shortage of issues: The way the Iraq occupation has been managed, the stem cell debate, the infusion of religion into policy (or is it the other way around), our relationship with the international community, the two-steps back policies in the Middle East, Rummy's handling of Abu Ghraib, tax cuts for the wealthy, Bush's initial antipathy to the 9/11 commission and many other fact finding efforts, the verbal bluster when diplomacy is required, the education policy, the attacks on freedom of speech, the use of patriotism as wedge issue, the fact that Jessica Simpson thinks he's doing a good job.
There are plenty of real issues from which to choose. Therefore it makes even less sense to resort to the personal attacks [...] that will draw in no one. Take Clinton's lead on this one and just refer to Bush as someone who is wrong on the policies but who is probably a pretty nice guy.
I think Dave's message is most appropriate for those with a high public profile, and not as much for those of us in the rank-and-file for our internal discussions, but it does seem to me that mere vituperative mud-slinging and name-calling in any context can easily become a tedious exercise, and can also mask interesting and possibly convincing arguments from reaching a wider audience.
It's like the old Monty Python distinction between an argument and contradiction.
Ruy Teixeira looks at the whole question of Kerry's convention bounce. He finds a modest 4% bump in one poll (ABC/WaPo), and more substantial gains in the internals of other polls.
His explanation for the rather historically small conbo is similiar to mine:
So, arguably, Kerry got a substantial bounce where he needed it most, but that improved image did not—perhaps could not—pay immediate and large dividends in terms of trial heat measures. After all, given that (a) Kerry was already doing well in trial heats for a challenger; (b) he’d already “spent” some of his bounce early by selecting Edwards as his running mate before the convention; and (c) this is already a highly polarized race with relatively few undecided voters, there was little room for Kerry to go up quickly in the trial heats. But the substantial gains on image and issues he made as a result of the convention put him in a good position to continue to build his lead over Bush as we move into the fall campaign.
Update: Furthermore, William Saletan, in Slate, goes into the details of how the Kerry bounce has manifested itself in poll internals. I was going to boil them down to a list for here, but there's just too many of them to do that -- go take a look at the reality of the supposedly missing bounce.
Chris Bowers has more to add on MyDD -- he compares Bush & Kerry's favorables and updates his "doom index."
Update (8/5): On The American Prospect Online, Democratic consultant Kenneth Baer pushes the real Kerry bounce back even farther than the choice of Edwards as running mate -- he puts it back to when Kerry wrapped up the nomination:
By the time Kerry made it to Boston to formally accept the nomination, he effectively had been running in a general election for four months. His lack of a post-convention bounce, then, is not a sign of weakness but of strength -- which is why Kerry is running a livelier campaign at this stage than any other in history, and why, bounce or no bounce, he is exceptionally well-positioned to win this fall.
More:Billmon has more evidence of Kerry's bounce in poll internals, this time from (gasp!) a Fox News poll.
In Monday's TAPPEDMatthew Yglesias (discussing Steve Waldman's article on Kerry and religion in Slate) makes the blanket pronouncement that "Kerry's gotten no bounce" from the convention.
It seems to me that Yglesias is [...] kind of jumping to conclusions. The only poll I've seen to date was conducted on Thursday and Friday (that is, half of it before Kerry had even given his speech). It showed a 4-pt. bounce for the Democratic candidate ... disappointing, but rather more than the "no bounce" conclusion of Yglesias.
Maybe other polls have started appearing, but seems to me that you generally have to wait at least a week -- sometimes more -- to get a real handle on the actual direction the opinion polls may be trending. In the end, Yglesias may turn out quite correct ... but crowing like this, so quickly, with so little real information, just doesn't look right to me.
I think that Roger is right, and I also think that the GOP has done an excellent job of spinning the Kerry bounce, both before and after the convention -- with the usual assistance from the media, of course.
First, Matthew Dowd predicted a large bounce, saying that Kerry should come out of the election with a 15 point lead. This was ridiculous, but then it's Dowd's job to be Bush's chief strategist, which raises the obvious question of whether his saying that was just part of the strategy, which, of course, it was. So, everyone knew he was deliberately raising expectations, but they nevertheless reported it anyway (Update: and some, like the NY Times even leant it some extra credibility), and even if they reported it as being spin it still got the prediction out and into circulation, where it became enough a part of the conventional wisdom to help make any bounce which didn't come near to Dowd's prediction look very much like a failure. ("I know that he probably wouldn't go as high as Bush's guy said he was, but look, he didn't get anywhere near it, so I guess he didn't do very well.")
Second, they started the public hunt for a bounce practically the moment Kerry's acceptance speech was over -- I mean, the convention technical guys were still on CNN's audio cursing the balloons for not dropping, and the GOP was already out walking around the neighborhood in their bathrobes and a flashlight calling out "Here bouncey, bouncey, bouncey! Where are you bouncey?" and whistling to attract its attention.
The point is, as Roger said, the bounce, if there is any, isn't going to show up right away, it takes time for things to settle in on people, especially when it involves either changing your mind (in the case of former Bush supporters who decide to go to Kerry) or (in the case of people heretofore undecided) making up your freaking mind in the first place (which those people seem to have a wee bit of difficulty doing).
So, yes, I think a week after the close of the convention, or maybe even 10 days (to get past the weekend to the next workweek) is a reasonable time to see a bounce starting to show up. If there's no indication of a bounce by that time, then it would then be acceptable for young Matt to take a chance and declare that there's no bounce.
Which there may not be in any case.
Before the convention began, on Swing State Project, Chris Bowers calculated that the largest bounce Kerry could get would be 4%, and that getting that much would be "remarkable." This is because of Kerry's already high poll numbers as a challenger, the relatively large percentage of strong supporters for each candidate and the relatively small percentage of undecideds, and also because Kerry was already coming off a bounce from his selection of Edwards as a running mate.
Surely the running mate announcement is usually one of the factors which goes into creating a convention bounce, but this cycle, for this convention, that factor was removed.
In fact, it should not be overlooked that a candidate is going to have more leeway for a convention bounce when he or she is not doing well overall, and there's therefore some place to go! For a challenger who's essentially beating the incumbent (if only by keeping pace with him), one would expect a modest bump rather than a dramatic bounce.
(Some may well consider that after-spin -- so be it. It still seems to me to be a reasonable interpretation of the situation, certainly much more reasonable than Matthew Dowd's objectively silly -- but strategically brilliant -- "prediction".)
P.S. I should also mention that the obsession with bounces in the national horse race/beauty contest (take your pick) numbers is a little bit of a red herring. The important "bounce" I'll be looking for will be in the poll numbers in the 22 swing states in which the election will be determined. If Kerry's electoral college numbers (as measured by the 28 sites survey below) start to move upwards, instead of down (as they've been drifting lately -- although he hasn't stopped being ahead), then we'll see that will be a real and concrete "bounce".
Update:Chris Bowers points out that there are other ways to detect a bounce:
Since Kerry's speech, his lead over Bush in unvaforables has risen from 7.4 to 10.2. Also, Bush's job rating has once again dipped into negative territory.
This is in line with my comments above, that in a tight somewhat locked race the beauty contest numbers aren't going to move much, which means you have to look for movement below the surface in the polls' innards.
While all of us would've liked that 15-point bounce Mellman warned about in his "playing the expectations game" email, reality is that we have the most polarized, most hardened electorate probably in the nation's history. Some polls have shown a bounce, others have not. We'll probably see just as little movevement after the GOP convention. Not many people are changing their minds this time around.
Also, as I've noted before (we saw it with Edwards and Reagan), bounces take a week to really manifest themselves as people digest the latest info and talk to other people about their impressions. So we may still some movement in Kerry's direction. See Rasmussen's tracking poll. The same phenomenon happened during Edwards and Reagan -- no immediate bounce as people digested the news, and then a slow, gradual rise the week after.
Will Kerry rise further in subsequent polling? Who knows. But I know I'd rather be in Kerry's shoes than Bush's.
Much of the information that led the authorities to raise the terror alert at several large financial institutions in the New York City and Washington areas was three or four years old, intelligence and law enforcement officials said on Monday. They reported that they had not yet found concrete evidence that a terrorist plot or preparatory surveillance operations were still under way.
David Kenyon Webster was an oddity, a well-off, Harvard-educated member of the all-volunteer parachute infantry in World War II. He was part of E Company, 2nd battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, the very "Band of Brothers" who were the subject of Stephen Ambrose's book of that name and the fine HBO mini-series overseen by Tom Hanks and Steven Speilberg. After the war, he wrote his memoirs, but didn't succeed in getting them published. A few years ago, Ambrose finally convinced a publisher to put them out.
Parachute Infantry is not a great book by any means, but it does present the very disconnected and unpleasant life of a front-line soldier in all its dirty, blemished glory. It's giving me a picture of what it's like at the front that is different from any other that I've seen or read.
In my reading yesterday, I found this passage quite topical:
Well, anyway I had voted. That made me happy. I had to walk almost two miles to cast my ballot, but I would have walked ten, if necessary, because this was my first vote -- I was 22 in June -- and I had always wanted to cast it for Roosevelt, the greatest President we had ever had and the only one who gave the working man a break.
Roosevelt had faces and overcome the two great crises America has ever suffered: the worst depression in history and the world's biggest war. He was a politician, as craft and conniving as any, for politics is a cesspool of lying lawyers, but his work was greater than the man, and the country was better for it. The rich Republicans hated Roosevelt for helping the working man, for encouraging the labor unions to wring a fair day's wages for a fair day's work out of employers who had never heard of such a thing before and for putting into effect fair-employment practices that they considered outrageously Socialistic. Roosevelt helped the unemployed when Herbert Hoover, the last Republican [President], an engineer who never quite understood humanity, had said, "Let every man help his brother," when he know perfectly well that the rich weren't abut to help the poor, never had and never would. I had grown up with Republicans and gone to school and college with them, and sickened by their selfishness, their cold avarice and lofty contempt for the common people, had early sworn to vote for the Democrats, who, for all their rotten political faults, were more concerned with the welfare of the country as a while.
In our own time, my wife heard from a friend of hers serving (once again) in Iraq, that he and everyone he knows in the military will be voting for Bush.
It's the start of a new month, the Democratic convention is over, the torrent of state polls has reduced to a trickle (presumably because pollsters are busy canvassing, trying to measure Kerry's convention bounce), and it's been a week since my last survey of Electoral College tracking / prediction / projection sites -- so I think it's a good time to do it again, to get a base to measure the post-convention results against.
(Notes on my rationale for these figues can be found here).
Now, on to predictions and projections on other sites:
[Note: From each of these websites I've taken the most comprehensive set of numbers offered, if possible without a "toss-up" category or other caveats, just Kerry versus Bush. Many of them differentiate between "solid" or "strong", "slightly" or "weak", and "leaning" or "barely" states, but I've combined them all together in order to present numbers which are as comparable as possible. I encourage everyone to use the links and check each site for the specifics of that site's methodology and presentation. -- Ed]
Kerry winning: 18 (was: 17) Kerry ahead: 6 (was: 3) Bush winning: 3 (was: 2) Bush ahead: 1 (was: 1)
Kerry gained: 4 (was: 2) Kerry lost: 12 (was: 11)
Bush gained: 12 (was: 9) Bush lost: 6 (was: 4)
?? gained: 6 (was: 4) ?? lost: 2 (was: 2)
No change: 4 (was: 5) Not updated: 3 (was: 5) New: 4
As the summary indicates, although Kerry is still out in front in terms of how many sites project him to win the Electoral College, or at least as ahead of Bush, he once again lost ground in many of them, while Bush gained ground. However, Kerry's loses typically moved a site from "Kerry winning" to "Kerry ahead," and the sites that show Bush winning or ahead are the same sites as last week and one newly added one. Unassigned states also increased somewhat, due to a number of polls that showed some states (IA, MN) tied.
Overall, our (imaginary) composite map of the Electoral College still favors Kerry.
If anyone has links for any other sites that regularly track Electoral College status, please feel free to send them my way and I'll be glad to add them to the list.
Update: Thanks to Dick Riley's tip, I've added another new site, Tripias, and updated the summary.
Update A couple of people have asked me, over the course of my doing this survey, to provide averages. I've resisted, because I'm not quite convinced that such information is all that useful, but, in the spirit of giving the people what they want (and admitting I could well be wrong!), here goes :
ALL SITES MEAN: Kerry 273 - Bush 236 (remainder: 29) MEDIAN: Kerry 276.5 - Bush 240.5 (remainder: 21) MODE: Kerry 264 - Bush 247 (remainder: 27)
SITES WITH NO ?? MEAN: Kerry 288 - Bush 250 MEDIAN: Kerry 290 - Bush 248 MODE: Kerry 291 - Bush 247
So, by whatever measure you care to use, the collective wisdome of these 28 sites is that Kerry is ahead of Bush in the Electoral College.
Update: The proprietor of Pollbooth, Nick Goedert, a law student who worked as an analyst for the Edwards campaign, brought his site to my attention, so I've added it to the list and updated the summary and the averages.
I've always thought that being a science fiction reader helps immunize one from a certain amount of future shock, but I have to admit I find this kind of bizarre:
Pull off Interstate 55 near Cape Girardeau, Mo., and into the drive-through lane of a McDonald's next to the highway and you'll get fast, friendly service, even though the person taking your order is not in the restaurant - or even in Missouri. The order taker is in a call center in Colorado Springs, more than 900 miles away, connected to the customer and to the workers preparing the food by high-speed data lines. Even some restaurant jobs, it seems, are not immune to outsourcing. The man who owns the Cape Girardeau restaurant, Shannon Y. Davis, has linked it and 3 other of his 12 McDonald's franchises to the Colorado call center, which is run by another McDonald's franchisee, Steven T. Bigari. And he did it for the same reasons that other business owners have embraced call centers: lower costs, greater speed and fewer mistakes.
Cheap, quick and reliable telecommunications lines let the order takers in Colorado Springs converse with customers in Missouri, take an electronic snapshot of them, display their order on a screen to make sure it is right, then forward the order and the photo to the restaurant kitchen. The photo is destroyed as soon as the order is completed, Mr. Bigari said. People picking up their burgers never know that their order traverses two states and bounces back before they can even start driving to the pickup window. Once he found out about the service, Mr. Davis said, he didn't even need to think about signing up for it. He said he had dreamed of doing something like this for more than a decade. "We could not wait to go with it," he said. Mr. Bigari, who owns 12 McDonald's franchises and created the call center for his own restaurants, was happy to oblige - for a small fee per transaction.
Central to the system's success, Mr. Bigari said, is the way it pairs customers' photos with their orders; by increasing accuracy, the system cuts down on the number of complaints and therefore makes the service faster.
In the fast-food business, time is truly money: shaving even five seconds off the processing time of an order is significant. Mr. Bigari said he had cut order time in his dual-lane drive-throughs by slightly more than 30 seconds, to about 1 minute, 5 seconds, on average. That's less than half the average of 2 minutes, 36 seconds, for all McDonald's, and among the fastest of any franchise in the country, according to QSRweb.com, which tracks such things. His drive-throughs now handle 260 cars an hour, Mr. Bigari said, 30 more than they did before he started the call center.
Working together, Mr. Bigari and software engineers from Exit41 put a small call center in the back of one of his restaurants in May 2003. Within a couple of weeks, the store was filling orders 30 percent faster and making fewer mistakes. Mr. Bigari quickly decided that he should set up an operation to handle other restaurants, and he now employs 53 people in the call center, which operates 24 hours a day. Though his operators earn, on average, 40 cents an hour more than his line employees, he has cut his overall labor costs by a percentage point, even as drive-through sales have increased. He said the call center saved enough in six months to cover the cost of setting it up, in part because he no longer had to employ as many people on the overnight shift.
I can't help but think that the savings realized are only possible because the infrastructure of the high-speed data connections it relies on were made possible by Federal government investment in technology development, through DARPA and other agencies.
There's more in the full article, which is unfortunately now locked up in the NY Timesarchive. A little over a third of it is quoted here.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.