Success in secession

The self-proclaimed sensible left’s reaction to this victory has broadly been "American leftists should stop being correct, and start pandering to the ignorant masses".

Which is understandable: liberals are generally correct, and poor people everywhere who support parties that go against their economic interests generally do so out of ignorance (a high proportion of liberal voters are also ignorant, but by chance make the correct choice). However, one of the key criteria for successfully pandering to the ignorant masses is not telling them that you’re doing so. I’m sceptical that liberals are devious and nasty enough for this plan to work…

Adam Felber and The Poor Man have a better plan: just get rid of the bastards, and stop subsidising their rural hillbillery out of the money generated by the productive, liberal workers in the Northeast, Pacific Northwest and California. I’d happily emigrate to the northern country on The Poor Man’s map; once again, damn that Abraham Lincoln.

This is one way in which the UK system is more sensible: the regions being enormously subsidised here at least have the decency to vote for socialists and not moan about how much they’re being taxed…

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And I’m bothering why?

SIAW seems to think there’s a contradiction between not knowing which individuals control the Republican party (is George Bush dumb and manipulated, or devious and acting?) and suggesting that, whichever individuals are in charge, a second Bush term enabled by the votes of religious fundamentalists will increase social oppression in the US.

To be expected, I guess: Marxists never were great on the ‘logic’ side of things. Or at recognising polemic (no, I don’t think the US is *really* set for a real-life Handmaid’s Tale any time soon. I do think it’s what the fundamentalists want, and I can see that they’re getting more power. This is scary enough to warrant some hyperbole).

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If I were Osama Bin Laden…

It’s a silly counterfactual, I know… but if I *were* Osama, I’d release a video at some point in the next fortnight saying that my plans worked perfectly: I’ve made the stupid Americans blindly rally round the flag and do exactly as I wanted. Now, the man who wants a war between Christianity and Islam has another four years in power, and all good Muslims must show America that Allah is more powerful.

It’s not true, obviously: the Bush win was based mostly on ‘moral choice’ (aka ‘we hate gays’) grounds… but if you’re up for murdering tens of thousands of innocent people including thousands of Muslims, then you’re probably not too worried about the occasional cause-advancing fib. It would play well to the core audience, it would scare some Americans, and it would help (further) intensify the divide between the US and the rest of the liberal-Christian-ish world.

Had Kerry won, on the other hand, I’d release a video saying that America’s surrender to the softer candidate showed how powerful Islam was, that the West never had a chance of defeating it, and that all that now was required to get America to retreat from the Islamic world was an intensified terrorist campaign in the Middle East. Or words to that effect. I’d probably have recorded both videos far in advance, in case of death or other difficulties.

Not sure what this proves, other than that assessing election results based on what Al Qaeda might say about them is a Stupid Thing To Do.

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Not that bad, except for Americans

I wanted George Bush to lose this time round chiefly for personal reasons: he’s an arrogant, ignorant, smirking oaf from whom I never want to see or hear ever again, and a President shouldn’t be allowed to get away with screwing up, lying, and cheating.

There were partisan reasons too, the most important of which is the replacement of Rehnquist and probably some liberal justices on the Supreme Court. The socialists who said there was no margin between the two candidates are daft purely on these grounds: while a President Kerry would have had to nominate conservative-moderates to get them confirmed by Congress, Bush could now successfully nominate Rush Limbaugh if he wanted, which he probably does. The same’s true for lawmaking: nobody sensible wants the religious right in charge of the presidency, the Senate and the House.

The war on Oceania^H^H Terror isn’t such an important factor. I’m not quite visceral enough in my hatred of the administration to think they’ll screw up the terrorist intelligence side on purpose, or that they’ll accidentally screw it up notably more than a Kerry administration would have done.

Iraq isn’t going to be withdrawable-from at any point in the next four years without descending into Somalian levels of everyone slaughtering everyone forever, and its oil should ensure it isn’t allowed to go that way. As long as the entire US army is busy in Iraq, there’s not really any scope to invade anywhere, which is just as well, and means that military policy will broadly be the same under both candidates.

So the main impact of Bush’s re-election on people in the UK will be to make watching the international news a singularly unpleasant experience. If the second term’s economic policy is as dodgy as the first term’s, this could also have an impact (why the hell does US business lean Republican when Democrats nearly always do better on the economy?). And there is a slightly greater chance of World War III than under Kerry, albeit still only a small one.

Americans, however, are set for a real-life adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale. While it would be nice to believe that the administration were lying about being religious-right loonies to bring out the fundy vote and that they won’t actually implement disturbing theocratic nonsense, there’s not much beyond wishful thinking to base that on. If I lived in a sane bit of the USA, at this point I’d be wishing that Lincoln had just let the nutters in the South bugger off…

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Pre (just) mortem

It’s still technically possible as of 0946GMT that John Kerry could win the electoral college. It would also be pleasantly ironic to make the Republicans spend four years under a President who plainly didn’t represent the will of American voters. However, the chances that this will actually happen are so low that Mr Kerry should probably just concede, and avoid Republican charges next time round that Democrats are all lawyerly sore losers.

What happened between the polls and the election? I suspect a big problem was poor adjustment for the high turnout – normally, one would expect this to favour the party with working-class and minority support, but in this case it seems like the fundies were also out in force. Still doesn’t explain the dodgy exit polls, though. Maybe Natalie Solent’s shy Tory answer is correct – certainly, people who voted for Dubya *should* be ashamed, although red-state Americans have never been shy about their conservatism in the past.

I’ll post on some of the implications of the result later – bet you all can’t wait.

Update 1713GMT: he’s finally taken my advice and conceded.

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Election post

Final update – 0828GMT:

It’s gone about as badly as could be expected from the 0247 results: 2000 again, except for Kerry gaining New Hampshire and maybe, just maybe, Ohio. Which isn’t enough. The Senate news is worse, and presumably is the real explanation behind the high Republican spending outside swing presidency states…


On early swing state results, it’s going to be close. GWB ahead so far, but hopefully this proves little. Pretty sure he’ll win Florida though. Damn. Off to bed now, aiming to get up in a few hours.


TX, SD, ND, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming Bush. NY Kerry. World amazed. Why am I bothering? Everywhere obvious is going to declare now; everywhere swinging is going to be hazy til the morning…


NRO and Drudge say Florida leaning to Bush. Disclaimer: they’re both partisan hacks.


Pigs don’t fly. NJ, IL, MA, MD, ME for Kerry (3 out of 4). TN, OK, AL Bush. The NJ polls were as silly as they sounded. WV for Bush, which is a shame but not a surprise.


So far, GWB is way, way ahead of his 2000 total out of reporting precincts in GA, IN. Exactly in line with 2000 in KY. This isn’t a great sign for national unity.


Ohio Dems reportedly suing to keep polling booths open later. This is interesting – in Fla, anyone who’s in line at 1900EST gets to vote; not sure whether the same’s true for 1830EST in Ohio or not. WV called for GWB; again with the papal Catholicism.


Turnout up 9% in KY. Interesting, given that KY was never in contention. Suspect this might point towards a Republican popular vote win, given the relative campaign efforts outside swing states. Yahoo!’s popular vote counter is nonsense at the moment (based only on 13 reporting precincts, it’s calling Fla GWB 55/JFK 44), but will become relevant over the next hour. To mirror NRO, I’m drinking Tesco claret – the only drinkable cheap French wine I’ve bought in the UK since forever.


12 minutes left for the Ohioans. Drudge is calling OH as a tie and Kerry +2 in FLA. Although I’m not sure the data he’s using is much more recent than Slate’s. More boringly, GA, IN and KY go for Bush; VT goes for Kerry. Pope goes for Catholicism, etc. No numbers yet.


Slate reckons JFK 51/GWB 48 on afternoon polls. Florida and Ohio both 50/49. This would be enough of a margin. Real excitement begins now. Oh, and bollocks to the BBC for running a normal R4 schedule and instead making me download RealPlayer to listen to World Service News.


13 minutes till the real excitement kicks off. Meantime, Kevin Drum has a good post putting things in perspective: after a brutal, divisive, and polarizing campaign that’s now over a year old, we’re still able to hold a clean, peaceful election that’s attracted record turnout. Although I guess it’s slightly disturbing that he needs to make that point…


It’s looking good in the exit polls so far, but it could still all go horribly wrong.

Zogby’s last phone poll is particularly interesting – it predicts an EV majority for JFK with a popular vote majority for GWB. This fits with a conspiracy theory I’ve been flirting with since I discovered the Republicans are spending significant ad $$ in non-battleground states: they suspect they’re going to lose the EC, and would rather focus on denying Kerry popular legitimacy. Or maybe they just want to make sure they win Congress seats; feh.

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Miscellaneous etc

Bad: a Dutch film director gets murdered for being rude; and an unholy alliance of PC loonies and Presbyterian puritans want to ban porn in Scotland. Sod getting along, but can’t we all be as offensive and depraved as we like without people forcibly stopping us?

Tense: as the US election continues with apparently record turnout, has Kerry ahead by one EV with 15 too close to call.

Amusing: my ‘open letter to white males‘ has attracted 25+ comments and a flame war. I feel like Kevin Drum

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More ‘war on drugs’ dicklordery

You’d have to be both desperate and an idiot to smuggle drugs out of Thailand for £350. However, there is no sane argument that an appropriate penalty for doing so would be getting topped.

I don’t particularly blame the Thai government, who aren’t too bothered about whether people smuggle drugs out of Thailand. It’s more the fault of the Western governments (led by the US, obviously) who’ve bribed and threatened the developing world into imposing scary penalties as part of their War on Drugs.

Anthony Flannaghan, the unfortunate Brit who’s been sentenced to death, will be comparatively lucky: westerners’ death sentences are generally commuted to absurdly long prison sentences. Locals in the same boat don’t get the same courtesy: hell, half the time they don’t even get a trial.

And even the Thais are lucky compared to the Colombians.

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