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September 13, 2006

Comments

You've got me.

Maybe all Democrats should run as Republicans in the primaries across the Nation against Club for Growth/Religious Right goons, gain the backing of the White House, and then enact the Democratic agenda from the Republican side of the aisle once they are elected.

I'm willing to call myself Republican as long as nothing Republican ever happens again.

Andrew,

"Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania is currently trailing in his reelection battle, and Pennsylvania, thanks to Philadelphia, leans Democratic."

Santorum trails considerably due to his own looniness, Bob Casey Jr.'s association with his still-popular and centrist father, as well as Santorum having PA taxpayers pay for his kids to be home schooled in Virginia. On the other hand, Pennsylvania does not lean Democratic, as there has only been 1 Democratic senator elected from the state since the 1960's (and that was for a partial term, following John Heinz's death), the governorship has alternated parties every 8 years since 1970, and the State Legislature has been Republican since 1994.

As James Carville famously said about the state's political leanings, "There's Philadelphia at one end, Pittsburgh at the other, and Alabama in between."

Dan,

Thanks for the information. I am not a wonk, and was basing the 'leans Democratic' comment on what I've seen in recent presidential elections.

Well: Cardin won the Maryland Senate primary. Polls seemed to show he does better against Michael Steele, so that's good. AZ8 (Tucson) had a wingnut facing a moderate in the Republican primary; the wingnut won, which makes this seat much more likely to go Democratic.

Delightfully, Maryland's somewhat bizarre comptroller (ex-governor, ex-everything, beloved, but imho very much in need of a nice happy retirement) William Donald Schaeffer seems to have lost. That will make MD politics more boring, but in a good way.

My prediction for this November is a repeat of the last few elections: Democratic candidates will be significantly ahead in polls, and then on election day eveyrthing important will come out as Republican victories. Much will be said about how, gosh, polling just isn't reliable the way it used to be. Little will be said about verifiable election procedures, existing security warnings about voting machines vulnereable to tampering, demonstrations of not-readily-detectable tampering on voting machines in stock conditions, lack of audit trails, and the like. The Democratic Party will continue eating itself; the Republican Party will continue eating the country.

Republican leadership has a vested interest in dishonest election procedures; Democratic leadership doesn't seem to care, having settled for being the smaller pig at the trough in perpetuity as long as they get some of the slop. Independent investigations are simply shunted aside when not held up as mock-worthy freakazoid stuff.

I'm not qiite as cynical about the Democrats' self-proclamimed leaders,the beltway Dems,as Bruce. The ABC liar movie shows that sucking up to corporations won't help the Democrats. Clinton had a two hour lunch with leftie bloggers--the people who showed that they were his real friends when he needed some. I'm sure the original purpose of the lunch was to win bloggers over to the Beltway Dems but, given the ABC libel, the effect might be the opposite. It does seem to me that the Beltway Democrats are aware of how evil the Republican party is. They have just never dealt with people so utterly lacking in any sense of decency. They keep behaving as if reason and bipartisanship and responisble political discourse will prevail. Also they afraid tht the Republicans will succeed in blaming them for the failure that is unfolding in Iraq, a legitimate fear. I wish they would keep their bad campaign advise to theselves, however. Ever since Hilary's advisor got on the Lamont campaign, his campaign has lost steam.

advice
themselves
There are probably several more....

Lily: I'd like to have reason to believe better of them. And in fact i do think that a bunch of high-ranking Democrats do on some level mean well. But they're not willing to do any of the things that would translate that desire into effective action, and a lot of them actively try to sabotage those who are. The people who might constructively improve the federal government are almost all in the Democratic party, but the Party as such is part of the problem.

On the plus side, Chafee's win maintains a Republican party with a liberal wing

It does? What actual effect has this liberal wing had on the Republican Party?

Little will be said about verifiable election procedures, existing security warnings about voting machines vulnereable to tampering, demonstrations of not-readily-detectable tampering on voting machines in stock conditions, lack of audit trails, and the like.

The time to take note of needed ballot reform measures is, I'd submit, in advance of critical elections. Barring that, though, in advance of the next one is good. Protesting all by itself, though, is pretty useless.

Slarti, I'm curious what in my text here (or in my previous comments on the importance of the subject) makes you think I'm interested in protesting apart from measures to institute reliable and verifiable vote-taking. I mean, I agree, protesting as such doesn't do much, but I also don't quite see what I might have said to suggest I think it does.

This is, actually, not a snark. I'm very tired and very stressed and still feeling like there's stuff I want to say about important issues. If I really am lapsing, I'd consider it a friendly service to point it out. (That goes for the rest of you, too.)

Picture me walking around in a caffeine-deprived haze, commenting on random topics. To a larger degree than usual, I mean.

That should help.

Slarti,

Please do not take this the wrong way, but I think Bruce's comment is a far better method of responding to being misconstrued than your frequently response is.

That's my schtick, dammit. Seniority doesn't let you steal stuff like this, man.

Andrew: Senate races are hugely, hugely more expensive in which to compete seriously than House races. It is possible, though not probably, that we will retake the Senate. It's more likely than not that we'll gain a majority in the House.

Please do not take this the wrong way, but I think Bruce's comment is a far better method of responding to being misconstrued than your frequently response is.

Actually, I think Bruce's response is just about spot on if you're, just to pick a random example, thinking that maybe someone said X, but you're not sure, and you'd like to make sure they actually said X before violently disagreeing with it.

In other words, Paul could learn much from Bruce, as could Casey.

Not saying I couldn't stand to learn something, too, but other people are so much more flawed than I am. And I'm completely unserious about that.

Nell,

I guess it's a toss-up. Senate races cost more, but they can't be rigged the way House races can.

I'm curious. If something like the scenario Bruce sketches out happens, would it be evidence enough to cause Andrew and Slarti to think that there is some validity to complaints that have been made by the left?

(meta warning tag: none of this implies that anyone listed above is not concerned about voting irregularities, and there is no attempt to try and force Slarti's opinion on Andrew. This is just wondering if the scenario would cause you to rethink your position)

An interesting article on this from the LATimes.

Also, totally unrelated but interesting article on the practical running of Gitmo here (from the NYTimes) Would love to hear Andrew's perspective on it, especially the discussion of chain of command issues.

lj,

Just the fact that the polls seem to overestimate Democratic support would not be sufficient to make me concerned about fraud, since as I understand it, that has been going on for a lot longer than just the Bush administration.

That having been said, I have little doubt that Republicans will do what they can to steal the election. Nor do I think Democrats shy away from such tendencies, which doubtless will bring down cries of moral equivalence. But I still think it's true. The city of Milwaukee printed more ballots than it has registered voters in 2004. Maybe the voters of Milwaukee are just sloppier than those of other cites, I suppose. Or maybe people drive up from Illinois, a safe Democratic state, to vote in Wisconsin's election (which was very close). I don't know that happened, but then, I don't have any proof that Republicans have cheated, either.

I am quite concerned about the use of voting machines that do not use a paper ballot. That is a recipe for fraud, and somebody will find a way to use them for that sooner or later if they haven't already. I think those are a very bad idea and they should be eliminated immediately.

Finally, I'll note that I'm open to the possibility that there was Republican malfeasance in Florida during the recount. I'm less amenable to the theory Ohio was flipped by Republican conspiracy, given the margin of victory and the fact local election boards are run by, well, local officials, many of whom are Democrats. I'm not saying it didn't happen, since I have no evidence either way, I'm simply noting that I'm skeptical of such claims, particularly since nobody ever seems to produce real evidence, as opposed to vague claims of dirty dealing.

Well, that should be enough to get things hopping. Perhaps I should flee the comments section now, before things get unpleasant.

What Andrew said.

Plus, I add this: it'll take more than complaints of malfeasance to get me concerned. And it's also interesting to see whether the flipside of this is worthy of consideration: if Republicans lose a close race, how seriously will Democrats take the inevitable you-stole-the-election outcry from Republicans?

Finally, I note that after the 2000 election, Florida actually took steps to reduce balloting errors. Unfortunately, they didn't also do away with the touchscreen technology, which I've long looked askance-at.

And now I've got to get those stone crab-stuffed burrowing owls out of the broiler.

Hmmm, I can't blame you cause I put the fox in the henhouse, so I'm not going to sputter about anything you said, but I would note that the argument that 'Wisconsin was close, so Dems must have driven up from Illinois' lowers the standard of evidence for bad acts (unless you have a cite) that I'd suggest that there is no evidence that couldn't be countered by accusations of equal malfeasance.

However, I'd suggest that even if it were true that Milwaukee or other localities engaged in that kind of behaviour (and I worry about even making this concession, because I am coming to think that liberals often concede too much in this way, thus letting Republicans shape the narrative) there is an asymmetry, in that these sorts of complaints are 'balanced' on the Republican side by more structural and systemic measures.

If it makes you feel any better, I'm not a Republican, so your concession in no way is allowing Republicans to shape the narrative.

And the reason I brought up Milwaukee is that my folks live in the area, and concerns about people coming over the border were apparently common during the election period. The argument is not close election=fraud.

Finally, I'll note that I am in no way suggesting that Republicans are not engaged in electoral shenanigans. Indeed, as I have noted in the past, the tendency on both sides to ascribe the worst possible motives to the other side makes such things inevitable, since cheating is permissible to stop the horrible caricatures people tend to make of their electoral opponents from reaching office.

I am coming to think that liberals often concede too much in this way, thus letting Republicans shape the narrative

Be assured that an equal and opposite effect is at work, LJ. Speaking for myself, though, I prefer to deal with strictly evidence. It's reality-based!

Ok, snarkoff. Now, where was I? Oh, yes. Well, I've never had an aversion to well-evidenced arguments that either side had cheated. I have no idea, though, which side has cheated more. It's clear that both have, but it's less clear to what extent, relatively speaking. And of course I am perpetually looking askance at cites for proof of cheating that are self-refuting.

but then, I don't have any proof that Republicans have cheated, either.

Yes, you do.

RFK Junior's lack of understanding of exit polls does not constitute proof.

I would also note that The Editors at The Poor Man Institute For Freedom, Democracy and a Pony, no fried of GWB or the GOP, absolutely eviscerated RFK Junior's article (sorry, no link).

No "friend" either.

At least you didn't spell it "fiend".

I think I've pointed out various flaws in RFK's article in the past, or maybe even one of his previous articles, and have just gotten tired of re-pointing myself. But I forget just where I did that. Or maybe I just thought I did, and was recalling what good pointing out the various self-refuting in discussions of another election. I think I threadjacked a threadjack thread to that end.

But PMI's article is here. This has been a public service announcement. With guitar!

Mostly unrelated. Mostly.

Well, I wrote conservative, erased it, wrote Republican, then put right, then... you get the picture.

Slarti, I'm all for evidence, but if that's the case, saying 'Wisconsin was close, and Illinois has a lot of Dems, so...' is pushing the envelope. Unless Milwaukee made all the extra ballots so that they could encourage Illinois voters, and, well, you know about Area 51... But that last is a joke and I do realize that Andrew said the Illinois thing and you said the evidence thing.

But peering into my liberal heart of hearts, it is the asymmetry that I find is the problem. I take this TPM note as "evidence" that Republicans are aiming to do whatever they can. I don't think (in fact, I'm positive) that Dems are going to do 'whatever they can'

Just for the record, I thought the RFK article was weak as well. But I do think that when you have a particular slice of the hierarchy (especially those who are hired with no public oversight or transparency) that permits those at the very top to feign ignorance, there doesn't have to be a conspiracy, the constant effect of trying to get best advantage is going to create a problematic situation. Diebold's owner as a Bush Pioneer, Blackwell, Katherine Harris. I overwhelming feeling that those and others in that tier have a basic inability to separate party good and national good is, (and as always imo) what keeps me from being assured that 'an equal and opposite effect is at work'.

Again, this is not being upset with either of you, and I haven't gotten thru my morning coffee yet.

Sigh. I did not say 'Wisconsin is close, and Illinois has lots of extra voters.' And I am quickly becoming sorry I said anything at all.

My apologies, that was my attempt to shorten it up and it wasn't a very good effort. I just saw a chain of reasoning in this

The city of Milwaukee printed more ballots than it has registered voters in 2004. Maybe the voters of Milwaukee are just sloppier than those of other cites, I suppose. Or maybe people drive up from Illinois, a safe Democratic state, to vote in Wisconsin's election (which was very close).

That seemed to suggest a motivation for Milwaukee to print up extra ballots and some notion of a plan. Perhaps it was just juxtaposition, or a deleted smiley, but with a 50/50 vote, almost any place that prints up extra ballots can be accused of pulling people from areas.

Again, sincere apologies for that.

My prediction is 2002: The Sequel.

Dems don't risk filibustering Specter's NSA bill or much one on the detainee bills to win the election, and many of them actually vote yes. Then they lose the election anyway (by lose I mean "make small gains in both houses but don't get a majority in either).

Now, of course, the Democrats want to run on Iraq--now, when it's too late for the outcome to be anything but a complete f***ing disaster. And I think back to 2002, and being told that, yes, the war vote was disappointing but we needed to keep the Senate.

Maybe in 2010 they can run against the Bush scandals while supporting President McCain's authorization to use force in Iran.

(Sorry...I know this is depressed and bitter even by my standards...I just read this:

"The House of Representatives Armed Services Committee passed a bill 52-8 that largely mirrored Bush's [detainee] bill."

Katherine,

It is amazing how politicians are always assuring us that they'll vote for their convictions when it's convenient, but they have to hold onto power first. Well, ok, it's not amazing, but it is tremendously frustrating. If you won't vote your principles, then as far as I'm concerned, you don't really have any.

We have our own version of the One Percent Doctrine:

if there's a one percent chance that doing the right thing could throw the elections to the Republicans, we have to treat that as a certainty.

I don't see how printing too many ballots helps election fraud anyway. If more people vote than are registered, you'd think someone would notice. If not, who cares how many blank ballots are left? After all, places without paper ballots have, effectively, an infinite number of ballots, and apparently that's ok.

Now, if twice as many people show up for same-day registration as are currently registered, that would be notable, yes.

I'd be looking askance at 1.1x, DonBoy.

The city of Milwaukee printed more ballots than it has registered voters in 2004. Maybe the voters of Milwaukee are just sloppier than those of other cites, I suppose.

Well they were found to be the most drunken city in the US in a recent study (followed by my hometown of Minneapolis-St Paul, that what you get when you put a bunch of Germans, Scandanavians and Pollacks together)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that Wisconsin is one of the rare states with same-day / election-day (or just-before-election-day) registration. If that's so, then printing up more ballots than the number of people registered some X days before the election (X = printers' deadline) would also, given the desire to be able to provide ballots to all who register, often result in more ballots printed than the number of registered voters on election day.

Such a system being more vulnerable to fraud (in the direction of either party) than, say, Virginia's one-month-out cutoff. However, the fact of ballots printed > registered voters on election day is not prima facie evidence, or even indication, of fraud.

This is ridiculous. When something is cheap, and you don't want to run out, you print out lots of extras. At least, I do. It's not evidence of fraud.

I just want to say again, that I saw a chain of reasoning in Andrew's list, but he says it's not there, so Andrew is not saying that this is evidence of fraud. If there are any other conclusions, that need to be noted, I hope Andrew can note them.

Not just the extra ballots in Milwaukee, there was the tire slashing

Well, you see, DaveC, that is what I am trying to get at. While there seems/one could argue/let us suppose for a moment that there is an equivalency argument being made, what counters that argument is that one side seems to be going at it thru structural impediments while the other is the result of unfocussed anger. Are both bad? Yeah, but there might be a bit of causation on one side and that is not on the tire slashing side.

I also have to point out that one of them was acquitted, and the other 4 got what they did as the result of a plea bargain. Contrast the resources available to them and the resources available to Tobin (who still was convicted, and no plea bargain was arranged) in the phone jamming scandal

In August, the RNC finally confirmed that it had spent more than $722,000 for Tobin's defense by the major Washington firm of Williams & Connolly. "This support is based on his assurance and our belief that Jim has not engaged in any wrongdoing," a spokesperson told the Associated Press. [5] The Union Leader reported in February 2006 that the RNC had paid $1.7 million to Williams on the day Tobin was sentenced, for a total of $2.5 million, and would neither confirm nor deny that it was still paying his legal expenses. [6]. The RNC's first financial report of 2006 indicated that it by then spent another $330,000 [7].

Mind you, for all I kvetch about the Democrats, I'll take them over George Allen any day of the week.

As it happens, no need to guess how I feel about Republican allegations of Democratic vote tampering. I'm on record as supporting, first of all, the Republican use of all the appeal options available to reexamine the closely contested campaign for governor of Washington state. I said then, as I said in 2000, that I'd much rather take the extra time to give everyone more reason for confidence. Second, I supported the thorough investigation of every specific allegation of misconduct by people involved in polling and counting, and there were a few cases that I thought well proven. Not enough to affect the outcome, but good to know and deal with.

I haven't changed my mind since then. Clear election outcomes are worth working for, and if the best evidence is that candidates I don't favor won, then I'll live with it. One of the most pernicious aspects of the rush to voting machines and all is precisely that it makes it so hard to know. That is, for me, in itself reason to reject these things.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that Wisconsin is one of the rare states with same-day / election-day (or just-before-election-day) registration.

Yep. My first election here I literally registered when I received my ballot.

As for the Milwaukee shenanigans, it is AFAIK indisputable that some Democratic operatives were involved in something shady during the 2004 Federal elections* -- the particulars vary in the accounts I've read and I'm too dang tired to try to recount them all -- but it is AFAIK also indisputable that these actions were independent from the Democratic Party proper. That is, so far as we know, no-one in a position of power within the Democrats or any major liberal/progressive organization authorized (or even condoned) the actions taken by the individuals described above. This is, as noted by LJ, in stark contrast to the Republican malfeasance (crimes?) in New Hampshire.

* I'm putting the qualifier there because I recall a few other stories about voter fraud in Wisconsin in the past few election cycles that wasn't, insofar as I know, related to any Federal office.

That is, so far as we know, no-one in a position of power within the Democrats or any major liberal/progressive organization authorized (or even condoned) the actions taken by the individuals described above. This is, as noted by LJ, in stark contrast to the Republican malfeasance (crimes?) in New Hampshire.
I think this point is worth repeating as it is, to me, the qualitative difference that makes me scoff at claims of equivalence.

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