Presented with the dilemma of having to watch two things simultaneously this evening, I chose to watch the Yankee game while keeping the debate in a picture-in-picture box. On inning breaks, or at times when it seemed as if something interesting was happening in the debate, I'd switch over and listen to the proceedings for a while, and then go back to the game before too long. (The Yankees won, going ahead of the Twins 2 games to 1 in the ALDS. The Red Sox swept their series, moving ahead, and opening the significant possibility of a Yankee/Red Sox ALCS.)
But in fact, any insights I might have about the debate came not so much during the times I was tuned into it, but when I had the game on, with the debate silent in the swap box. At those times it was easy to read the body language of both candidates, and the distinction was significant.
Bush was tense, angry, uptight and disdainful of the audience. He pushed his head forward of his body and shook it up and down repeatedly, used his hands to gesture with short, sharp jabs, and held the audience off with his tense posture. He yelled, and scolded, and confronted, and when sitting down, he tried so hard not to scowl that he ended up looking artificially pleasant (when he wasn't twinkling at someone in the audience or blinking rapidly).
Kerry, on the other hand, seemed relaxed and calm, with no much tension in his body and no real anger to be seen. What was interesting was that when I did swap over to the debate, Kerry's speaking didn't quite come to the level of comfort seen in his body language. He stumbled over his words a little, corrected himself a number of time, and groped for how to express things.
There wasn't any such disparity with Bush: his physical demeanor -- angry and closed off -- was perfectly mirrored in his words (at least those which I heard). His physicality was so striking that it provoked me on a number of occasions into swapping over to see just what Bush was so riled up about, and when I did it was pretty amazing! Lecturing the audience, yelling at the moderator, clucking about credibility.
At one point, early on, I thought "He's just lost the election, right there," but in fact he got better later on -- although he never lost the tension and never looked in the least presidential. Early indications are that the pundits are falling for the soft bigotry of lowered expectations and awarding Bush copious points just for being better than the previous debate, but on any absolute scale (that is, one not artificially lowered by massive media spinning), Bush did very, very, poorly, no matter that he got a little more control of himself late in the debate.
There really was only one guy on the floor who looked presidential, and he doesn't currently make his home in the White House (although it seems more and more probable that he will in only a few months).
...the schoolyard swagger, the left arm cocked like an itchy gunslinger's, the arrogant sneer, the roosterish strutting -- and the voice. God, that voice. You don't quite call that screaming. It wasn't exactly caterwauling. Maybe yowling. Whatever it was, he sounded like a tedious and noisome braggart in the parking lot after a football game.
At one point I found myself thinking of him as a "cocky bantam," so I guess "roosterish" works for me too.
Ensign claims FCC provisions holding up Defense bills
By SUSAN CRABTREE
WASHINGTON -- If several prominent senators have their way, broadcasters could be breathing a sigh of relief when it comes to Janet Jackson's flash-dance fallout.
Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) is taking aim at a bill that would boost Federal Communication Commission broadcast indecency fines at least tenfold, from $27,500 a violation to between $275,000 and $500,000 per infraction with a cap of $3 million a day.
Bill was first introduced in the wake of the Jackson flap, then quickly passed the House and Senate, only to lie dormant for months awaiting a conference between the two bodies.
Sponsored by avowed Hollywood foe Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), legislation is now attached to must-pass Defense Dept. legislation in the Senate.
Ensign recently wrote a letter to Armed Services Committee chair John Warner (R-Va.), complaining that the indecency provisions are standing in the way of important military matters.
"They are presenting an unfortunate distraction to the important work we need to complete to combat terrorism, provide for our homeland defense and provide quality of life improvements for members of the armed forces," he wrote.
Ensign originally backed the bill as a member of the Commerce panel, where it originated. He did not, however, support amendments added in committee that would limit media ownership and force the FCC to study the impact of violent programming on kids. He is also wary of a provision that would hold artists and performers accountable to the same six-digit fines as the media companies and another that would trigger an automatic broadcast license-revocation hearing after three indecency infractions.
Ensign, as well as GOP Sens. George Allen (Va.), Conrad Burns (Mont.), John Cornyn (Texas), Gordon Smith (Ore.) and John Sununu (N.H.), all asked Warner to include only the fine increases or drop the bill entirely.
Parents Television Council prexy L. Brent Bozell blasted the request in a statement released Tuesday.
"Senator Ensign's rationale of 'form over substance' could prove to be the kiss of death for the fine increase," Bozell said. "This measure represents the only viable avenue for the indecency provision to become law during this congressional session."
A spokesman for the Armed Services panel did not return calls seeking comment.
It's really hard to understand a value system which holds that it's more important to protect people from exposure to an occasional dirty word or the momentary flash of a naked breast than it is to protect the country from military threats, especially so when protection for freedom of speech is specfically and deliberately written into the Constitution, and even more so when having a strong military has been one of the primary Republican positions for many decades.
I think some of these folks are certifiable. I dunno, maybe someone really did put something into the water back in the 70's.
Unrelated postscript: Some time on this day (Wednesday 10/5), this site passed the 50,000 visit mark, averaging about 750 visits a day. I know that's really still very much in small fry territory compared to the biggies, but it's gratifying nonetheless.
MEDIAN: Kerry 237.5 - Bush 291 (remainder: 9.5) (was: 237-291-10)
MODE: Kerry 243 - Bush 295 [corrected] (no change)
"Mean" is what is colloquially called "average." All items are added up and divided by the number of items.
"Median" is the center point, the middle value in a list. There are as many values larger than the median as there are values that are smaller.
"Mode" is the number in a list which appears the most times.
RANGE Kerry max: 297 (300) Kerry min: 153 (143)
Bush max: 348 (341) Bush min: 177 (163)
This week's survey results are the very picture of stasis. Fifteen sites (almost one third of the survey) showed no change from last week's numbers (although some of them had changed in the meantime, they changed back by the time I took my sample), and several other sites showed no change for one of the two candidates. In addition, when a candidate's numbers did change, they did so by very small amounts.
Still, since Bush is ahead at this point (39 of the 50 sites show him winning, and 7 others show him ahead), stasis works in his favor, as Kerry needs to overcome his deficit to win the election. Right now, Bush has 282 to 291 votes, and Kerry has 228 to 243. That means that the margin between them remains at around 50 votes, the same as last week.
(Just a reminder that we're just starting to get state polling which was done totally after the first debate.)
For a few days after I publish the survey, I'll update figures, make corrections, and add new sites that come to my attention. I'll note these changes here, and mark the entry for each altered site as well.
The next iteration of the survey will be on Monday October 11th.
(10/5) I've added a new site, Amoro. It's unclear how often it's updated, so we'll see if it lasts.
(10/5) Thanks to Matt Nelson, another site new to the survey, Hardball Horserace. I've also added a site by CBS.
(10/5) The staff and contributors of The Gadflyer make their election predictions. Thirteen out of 18 pick Kerry to win. Kerry averaged 284 electoral votes to Bush's 254 (corrected). (These numbers have not been included in this survey.)
(10/6) I had been expecting Zogby to update their numbers, and had hoped that it would happen in time to include them in this iteration of the survey, but instead of coming out on Monday (as they have most usually done), they came out on Wednesday the 6th, probably to insure that all the quesioning happened after the first presidential debate. For whatever reason, they're a little too late to include here. I won't add them in, but their new estimation is Kerry 322 - Bush 216.
(10/7) Mark Durrenberger has created an interesting site using assumptions discussed by Guy Molyneaux in an article in The American Prospect. His current numbers (which I'll be including as of the next iteration of the survery) are Kerry 310 - Bush 228.
(10/7) I've updated my numbers based as a plethora of state polling that just came in: Kerry 284 - Bush 254 (not included in this survey).
(10/7) Brian Calhoun has brought his site, Election Central 2004, to my attention, and I'll begin including it in the survey next time out. His current numbers as of 10/6: Kerry 233 - Bush 295 - ?? 10 (corrected).
(10/7) I'm playing around with another way of graphing the data I've collected in putting together the survey: instead of lumping it together in weekly averages, I've charted each site's numbers each week as a seperate point of data and applied a polynomial trendline. The results can be seen just below the regular graph.
(10/8) Matthew Gross challenges fellow bloggers to post their electoral predictions before tonight's debate, 25 days out from Election Day. I've posted mine here. (10/9): Also, Meteor Blades makes a call for predictions on Daily Kos.
(10/8) I came across another site that I'll start including as of the next survey, Search The Links. Their current status is Kerry 259 - Bush 266 - ?? 13 (ME, NH, WV).
(10/9) The Political Oddsmaker of Campaigns and Elections magazine (Ron Faucheux) is finally posting state-by-state predictions and Electoral College numbers. Current (as of 9/30): Kerry 248 - Bush 279 - ?? 11.
(10/9) I transcribed the 9/30 Rasmussen numbers wrong, which I've now corrected. They were right in my calculation of the averages. Currently, as of 10/7, Rasmussen has Kerry 169 - Bush 240 - ?? 129.
(10/11) I had mattb25's number from 9/22 reversed. I've corrected them now. As a result, Kerry's mean goes up a point to 228, Bush's mean goes down a point to 282, and Bush's mode changes from 291 to 295.
From each website 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.
My convention is that Kerry is listed first and Bush second, bold type indicates a winning candidate (i.e. 270 electoral votes or more), and italics or underlining indicates a leading candidate.
Sites which haven't updated in a while will be temporarily removed from the list until they're freshened. For the first half of October I'll keep a "stagnant" site in the survey about 2 weeks. From the middle of October until the election, that will tighten up to a week at most.
One-time Electoral College analysis articles from the news media (as opposed to ongoing features) will be included, but only for a single interation of the survey, unless they are replaced by a new article.
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.
The following sites have been removed for the reasons indicated:
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.