"What the matter, networks? Afraid to call Florida this time around?" says one blogger, who called the state for Bush at 11:37 last night.
Wed Nov 03 07:56:00 PST 2004 | Read Full Story
THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 334 November 1 - 7, 2004
Highlights this week:
This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the monthly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 8,000 - 12,000 words, depending. (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here.
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November 1, 2004
All Saints Day : Election Eve
I have not been entirely well this week. I'll have an election eve essay, but it is column time, and for once I am rather glad of it. There was as usual considerable discussion over the weekend, both in mail and in view.
See also the Beagle Virus Alert.
And I doubt I can say much more about the whole Iraqi mess than I said in a reply in mail.
|This week:||Tuesday, November
We are both back in bed. This stuff is bad. And I have a column to do. We did manage to drag ourselves down to vote. You should too. Vote early and often...
November 3, 2004
The Day After
Well, it is over, and ended about the way I expected, although the Republicans gained more seats in Congress than I had predicted. My election prediction was Bush by 53%; that looks a little high, but not very.
Roberta is worse than I am, and I am in pretty bad shape; either flu or a bad cold, but whatever it is, it is pretty bad. I get no sleep, but I am always sleepy.
I daily thank heaven for:
which is a nasal pump thing that opens up my nasal passages and sinuses enough to let me breathe. Without it I'd be addicted to nose drops, which are pretty awful things.
I will have to write an essay about what comes next, but it is column time, and I am not up to much. I did write a long reply to a letter of panic. That will have to do for today.
Then we have from CNET:
Which I suppose is fun, but in fact it's a bit like recommending race track touts, isn't it? Someone is bound to have it right, but in fact few of us "bloggers" have any resources other than listening to each other and paying attention to the networks; who have far better computer models than any of us. I did in fact predict the election (I thought Bush by 53%; not all that far off) but it was mainly based on feels not calculations. Time ran a big piece about me predicting the 1969 LA Mayor election, I had to work at that one -- I was Yorty's campaign manager and paid to do the work. We didn't have computers so I had to have students with Monroe calculators do the weighted averages for the councilmatic districts and in some cases precincts within the districts. But that was prediction a week in advance of the election, not on election night.
Of course Bush won because the Democrats nominated a Boston Brahmin who honks at people, and considers everyone west of the Alleghenies and East of the California Sierra as "flyover country". I grew up in the Democratic Solid South (States Rights, Tariff for Revenue Only, welfare programs but administered by the states, etc.), all policies intended to appeal across the nation. In elementary political science at the University of Washington in 1958 Hugh Bone, American Parties specialist, taught that the Democrats were the only truly national party, because the Republicans had no followers in a very large part of the nation (the South).
How soon things change.
Kerry's condescension to Middle America should be a lesson to the New Democrats.
Here is Tom Wolfe on the subject:
"Here is an example of the situation in America," he says: "Tina Brown wrote in her column that she was at a dinner where a group of media heavyweights were discussing, during dessert, what they could do to stop Bush. Then a waiter announces that he is from the suburbs, and will vote for Bush. And ... Tina's reaction is: 'How can we persuade these people not to vote for Bush?' I draw the opposite lesson: that Tina and her circle in the media do not have a clue about the rest of the United States. You are considered twisted and retarded if you support Bush in this election. I have never come across a candidate who is so reviled. Reagan was sniggered it, but this is personal, real hatred."
Clinton certainly understood that you can't be contemptuous of people from Hog Wallow and Muscatine. Incidentally, Clinton comes off well: here the Clintons actually worked for Kerry although a Kerry victory would have sunk Hillary Clinton's chances in 2008. Now all she has to do is pick off a trial lawyer. Heaven knows who she'll run against. There is no anointed successor to Bush. Brother Jeb? Not impossible, I suppose. And Powell won't run. The scramble will be interesting...
November 4, 2004
First, the nominating process is seriously broken. If God had intended us to vote, He would have given us candidates. And while some characterizations of Bush are a bit over the top, I think few would have chosen Bush to be President given other choices among Republicans; and Kerry was hardly the best the Democratic Party could offer.
Second, if the Democrats hadn't been stuck with Kerry, they might have found someone who could beat Bush. Heaven knows Bush was beatable, even on his favorite issue, the war on terror: that isn't a "popular" war in the United States, but it is one perceived as necessary, as Kerry discovered. Unfortunately his attempts to show that he is more fit to lead the war than Bush were obscured by his personal problems -- he may have been a hero among most of his own boat crew, but all the other boats in that squadron didn't much care for his style. None of that was relevant to being President, but much of it was relevant to being elected President: not quite the same thing.
Had Kerry been someone other than who he was, the election might have been about something: about Republic and Empire, and the direction of the nation.
I conclude that for all its faults, the old Convention system for choosing (rather than merely anointing) a president makes more sense than our current system.
In the current system, the ability to raise early money and have an organization in being in Iowa and New Hampshire very nearly determines the nomination; this seems bizarre. Under the convention system it's the party workers -- the people who have to get out the vote, do what the papers are now calling the "ground game" -- who make the choices. I once wrote, a lifetime ago, that the United States was governed by about 30,000 self-selected party officials who used their mostly unpaid volunteer efforts to become district leaders, and who thereby chose the candidates for election to most Federal offices.
That was true, then. Now it's the primary process, and that means the United States is governed by fund raisers and the ability to raise early money; as well as the ability to keep a personal (as opposed to a party) organization in place, particularly in Iowa and New Hampshire.
In the old system, precinct committee members were elected (although in practice they chose themselves, as there were few contested elections for PC); the PC's chose the District Leaders, and the DL's chose the State Committee. The nominating convention consisted of the District Leaders. They chose delegates to the national convention. There were some direct primary states, but even there the party workers were fairly strong, favorite son primaries in which the delegates were pledged to vote for their man on the first ballot but not thereafter were common enough, and such practices kept the party structure together. Parties were organizations for nominating and electing candidates of their choosing; not for turning out the vote for whomever managed to win the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, neither of which has any rational claim to primacy in choosing the next President.
Now much of the precinct work is done by paid organizers; there is no power to district leaders; and the party filters which weeded out really unsatisfactory candidate who had money or a strong regional but no national base, are gone; and the result is Bush and Kerry.
That's the lesson as I see it.
There are some important demographic observations over in mail.
November 5, 2004
Guy Fawkes Day
Remember, remember the
fifth of November,
It is astonishing how irrational some people have become over the Social Security reform bill. They tend not to notice numbers.
Social Security takes about 20% of income up to the cap. No "privatization" scheme I have ever seen proposed looks to use more than 5% of that, which is about 1% of US wages. This is no small sum, but it's not so much as to court disaster on the downside, while the upside can be quite high. Back in the 60's for three years I paid into TIAA/CREF rather than Social Security. That money stayed there: and it now pays me back about 80% of what my thirty-plus years of paying into Social Security pays me. John McCarthy has said that his TIAA/CREF retirement fund pays him more in retirement than he earned before retirement, and full professors at Stanford are not paid chicken feed.
Something must be done about Social Security, which is a Ponzi scheme: it depends on an ever expanding number of workers coming into the work force to support all those retiring whose money was taken in and spent on the Great Society. That money is gone. There is no "trust fund": open that box and you find IOU's, not money. It was "invested" in US Treasury bonds, and the revenue from those bonds was spent: now we have to borrow the money to pay the obligations. And the Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age. This crunch is real, as Moynihan understood and tried to tell the Democrats back when something could be done about it. Now there isn't a lot of time left.
Doing nothing is not an option. Raising the tax from the current 18% or so (employer "contributions" are a trick: employers understand this is a wage cost and it's so treated in their books, and it matters little to them whether the money is first given to the worker then taken away in withholding, or withheld as an employer "contribution") -- raising that tax would be another cruel trick on the people who earn wages. Voting more taxes on "the rich" simply invites them to hire more lawyers and accountants and move more money offshore.
The US government operates as a money pump to take money from the young and give it to the old; and there's a limit to how much of that you can do. The soldiers are not stupid, and they are paying into this Ponzi scheme.
It will be interesting to see what proposals come out now that Bush has decided this is one of the hallmark issues of his Presidency.
Want a picture of the future? http://www.city-journal.org/html/9_2_oh_to_be.html
November 6, 2004
Column time. My head still isn't working, but we did get out for a walk. Sable considers it her sacred duty to make these humans get some exercise, which is a good thing.
There's an interesting observation about Ramadan in mail. And I'm working on the column. Carmen tonight at the LA Opera: we're taking Alex and his bride. And I am trying to clean off enough of my desk that I can work on some new software.
For those who want some heavy reading, the murderer of Van Gogh left a message attached to the knife he used. I have a translation in mail.
was supposedly taken from data in IQ and the Wealth of Nations, but I doubt its accuracy. I do not think Mississippi is a full standard deviation below average, to begin with. Nor will Connecticut be nearly a full SD above it. The range is far more likely to be in the 90 - 105 range. Yet I see it all over the Internet now, but I just don't believe it. I haven't time to dig up the real numbers.
And in fact, I find that it is a hoax: http://www.isteve.com/04NovA.htm#iqhoaxrec has the story.
It hardly astonishes me, either that someone would make it up, or that a lot of people would like to believe it.
The interesting part is that the left purports not to believe in IQ as good for anything...
We have just returned from an excellent production of Carmen. There was only one oddity, and I am probably the only one in the audience to have noticed it.
Richard Leech, in stage makeup as Don Jose (but not in person; we had dinner with him Thursday and I did not notice this) looks enough like John Dvorak to be his brother.
November 7, 2004
Subject: "I really didn't notice a change in morale."
Listen to the whole thing, it's maddening:
-- Roland Dobbins
which is a long audio from National Public Radio. It may be the best thing I have ever heard from NPR. It is also the best argument for small school districts in which the Board and the actual parents and teachers have some time to interact that I have heard in a long time. It is an hour or more long, but it streams nicely, and as Roland says, it is very much worth your time.
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