Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Still Missing the Big Picture About This Election

by galiel
Wed Nov 3rd, 2004 at 06:23:59 PST

This is not about Republicans or Democrats.
This is not about the war.
This is not about the economy.
This is not even about counting the votes.
This is the final step in the 20-year creeping coup by the theocrats, the Dominionists.

In the House and the Senate, the theocrats made dramatic advances, far beyond the number of seats that switched parties. On the GOP side, they have replaced moderates with zealots, and have significantly strengthened the support for the main theocrat bills that will be reintroduced in the new Congress.

You can hear it in the media's codewords: this election did NOT turn on Iraq or the economy or security, it turned on "moral values", the politically correct code-word for theocratic values, i.e., placing one's religion above the laws of man. Exit polls show that "moral values" were the most common #1 concern among voters, and that among those who marked "moral values" as their primary concern, 80% voted for Bush. Every state that had a same-sex marriage ban up for decision voted the theocrat way.

Diaries :: galiel's diary ::

When analysis of local races around the nation becomes available, it will become clear that theocrats have advanced everywhere, gaining control of even more school boards, gaining even more representation in city councils, winning even more seats in state legislatures.

Make no mistake, this election was the keystone of the theocrat coup. All that is left now is carrying out the agenda and changing the laws of this nation irrevocably to gut the Bill of Rights and establish a Dominionist government in America.

IN the coming days, Reinquist and others will resign, including half of the exhausted courageous liberals and moderates who held the line longer than anyone expected, and Bush will appoint a solid theocrat majority to the Supreme Court, and the Dems will not be able to stop it, fillibuster or not. The Dominionists have enough stealth candidates to push through like they pushed through Thomas, and the public pressure will be irressistible. In the next four years, theocrats will fill life-time appointments in the judiciary all over the nation, and essentially open the gates for the coming theocratic legislative agenda.

The administration will complete the overhaul of the science advisory committees and the Dept of Health and Human Services, laying the ground work for the overturning of Roe v. Wade and ending all biological research deemed objectionable to the theocrats.

They will complete their overhaul of the Education Department, starting a process of eliminating evolution from the national debate and working with the local and state boards, where they have now increased their control, to introduce creationism into the curriculum.

They will complete their overhaul of the Energy, Agriculture, Interior and EPA, which are already ridden with theocrats who reject the theory of evolution, and thus the concept of "fossil fuels", believing instead that their god has placed energy resources in the earth in just the right amounts for human domination of nature.

As soon as the theocrat majority is esconsed in the Supreme Court, Congress will pass three key theocrat bills, which already passed the House this time around and will pass the Senate next time around:

The Marriage Protection Act, which would bar federal courts, including the Supreme Court from intervening in cases involving a state's recognition of another state's civil rights bills regarding marriage;

The Pledge Preservation Act, which would bar the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, from hearing challenges to the "Under God" part of the pledge;

The big one, the Constitution Restoration Act, which would bar the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, from hearing any challenges to violations of the Establishment Clause, the bill having been written by Harb Titus, who defended former Judge Roy Moore, the "Ten Commandments" judges. The bill goes even further, potentially barring challenges to the constiutionality of state laws, for example, mandating stoning for adultery, if such laws are based on Old Testament rationale.

(I know you read this and think, "ridiculous, this could never happen here". You have a choice now, you can listen to those of us who have been predicting the current outcome for a long time, or you can continue to listen to those who predicted a different outcome and who still misinterpret actual results according to a Pollyanish worldview that refuses to acknowledge the critical danger to our nation and think this is "just another bad election")

Now, most people don't understand what is really going on here.

They focus on homophobia as the issue, or they trivialize the Pledge issue as not being critical to Separation traditions.

The real point is that the theocrats are constricting the courts' ability to challenge the establishment of religion in this country. Making this a Christian Dominionist nation based on literal interpretation of Old Testament law is an explicit part of the theocrat agenda.

I warned before the election that they were one victory away, and that they would win no matter what the actual vote was, because they are zealots who would do anything to win, including fraud on a massive scale that folks here just don't want to even concieve, because they have never looked radical religious extremism in the face the way I have, having lived in Israel for 13 years in the past.

The theocrats will not be stopped, because Americans refuse to believe that it could happen here.

It is just like Germany in the 20's---not like McCarthyism in the 50's. This is far worse, but denial is rampant, because we just don't want to believe that our America could fall to Christian Taliban.

We've already reached the tipping point. It is only a matter of time, unless people wake up--and I don't think they will, the taboo on confronting the dark side of religion is just too strong here in America.

What about Ohio, you say?

The judges deciding matters in Ohio, like the two judges that allowed challenges inside the polling places, are theocrats - one was the author of the original draft of the Thornburgh brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn Roe V. Wade, the other was the dissenting voice in cases about 10 Commandment displays on government property.

You think it is a coincidence that Ohio is the first place where statewide, the teaching of creationism has been mandated in science class?

Wake up, America!

Thus, the election is already over, even though I personally think that Kerry won, not only Ohio, but states like Florida, and may even have won the popular vote, so deep is the fraud, led by the electronic voting machines--not just those people actually use to vote, but far more significantly those used to tally the votes, carefully placed in key districts, carefully managed behind the scenes, vote totals manipulated with no way for an audit or verification.

But, unless you understand who is actually behind this election victory, you probably dismiss that as hysterical tin-foil paranoia. Surely, you think, the margins in places like Florida are beyond contesting.

That is because you still think this is just a struggle between two competing parties in a democracy. That is because you just don't get it.

This was a coup.

All I can say is, the folks who predicted morning in America have egg on their faces today, even as the struggle continues in Ohio. You choose who to listen to. The future of America is at stake, not just the next four years.

Because this is NOT about the surface issues.

I will write more about this in the coming days, when I get some sleep, can see straight, rage turns to cold anger, and the agenda starts to unfold.

I honestly do not believe I will be heard, but I can't live with myself if I don't at least try.

Katrina vanden Heuvel/ The Nation

Stand and Fight
11/03/2004 @ 1:07pm
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One thing we can say for certain at this point, after the grieving, the anger, is that the country is still bitterly divided.

We saw two turnouts and Two Nations last night. Both sides of the chasm saw a major turnout of its voting base. Karl Rove talked about creating a permanent Republican majority. But the truth is, he has a divide-and-rule strategy. And the electoral college amplifies the rural, socially conservative vote. (Twenty percent of voters considered "moral values"--eleven states had anti-gay marriage ballots--more important than the economy or Iraq in this election.)

Perhaps more astonishing than the polling on the murky issue of morality (why aren't poverty and unjust war considered immoral?) are the figures reported in the New York Times: "Voters who cited honesty as the most important quality in a candidate broke 2 to 1 in Mr. Bush's favor..." The most mendacious Administration in American history won the honesty vote?

Progressives, who were on the defensive two years ago, added millions of new voters as well, and tapped a new energy and activism that will last far beyond November 2nd. The extremism and incompetence of this rightwing cabal has sharpened our focus to a razor's edge.

But for me, one of the fundamental questions about this campaign has been whether you could defeat a terrible but clear incumbent without a substantive policy alternative, and this time at least we couldn't. Kerry offered intelligence, a return to fiscal discipline, a bulwark against a rightwing court, and a health plan that few understood. He failed to use the moral message of "Two Americas" to erode Bush's edge. He mounted a late challenge to Bush's disastrous war in Iraq-- but he also talked about "staying the course." That wasn't enough of a coherent positive, populist or moral message to complement the impressive mechanics. We've got to build a politics of conviction, of passion and substance. It's there but it needs to be built and fought for. And the lesser lessons, if that's the big one, are:

1) People really are confused and manipulated (we have a mainstream media that continues to focus on irrelevant stories--Swift Boat, Rathergate and all the rest--abrogating its responsibility to focus on what's important and significant; and too much of it keeps giving head instead of keeping its head.) This makes an expansion of the progressive media echo chamber all the more important; And,

2) Neoliberalism is broken beyond repair and people need to be offered a real alternative not just despair at this point. This is truly a non-violent Civil War between those who think government is basically screwed up and that they're on their own, and those who believe....what exactly? We've got to be much clearer on the latter.

But this morning, we woke to a country at war with itself--as well as Al Qaeda. As America fights Islamic fundamentalism abroad, progressives are re-fighting the Enlightenment here at home. (The two new Senators from Oklahoma and South Carolina are leaders of our homegrown Taliban.)

This is war at a very deep level about how this country will proceed and this war isn't over, it's just renewed.

In that spirit, on Election Day, a friend sent some words by John Dos Passos, from his great trilogy USA. He said these lines, from the part where Dos Passos narrates the death of Sacco and Vanzetti, stuck in his head in these last weeks as we faced the possibility of Bush winning this election:

"America our nation has been beaten by strangers who have turned our language inside out who have taken the clean words our fathers spoke and made them slimy and foul

their hired men sit on the judge's bench they sit back with their feet on the tables under the dome of the State House they are ignorant of our beliefs they have the dollars the guns the armed forces the power plants

they have built the electric chair and hired the executioner to throw the switch

all right we are two nations."

The American Right understands we are two nations, and cares less about healing than about holding power. A Bush wins forces us to understand, in a very deep way, what that means for us and for the values and institutions we care about. Not that they are wrong, or rejected or weighed down by "identity politics" or some other rationale for surrender. But that they are in desperate danger and we need to start thinking along the lines of how to resist, delay, deflect, oppose and ultimately defeat the assault on our freedoms. As progressives, we will need to marshal at least as much dedication, purpose, strategic focus and tactical ruthlessness, and The Nation is one of the few places that will have earned the trust of over 40 percent of the American people who were against Bush and all his works from the beginning.

And we should be thinking about the indispensable work of resistance. We need to identify legislative and administrative choke points where Bush's initiatives can be blocked, and make clear to both legislators and their constituents that the days of go-along in the interest of non-partisan comity have to stop.

We need to give a clear sense of priorities and red-lines so that people aren't fatigued by constantly being asked to protest--and we need to identify and work for some early victories, at both the local and national (and international) levels...BECAUSE we all need to remember, and remind ourselves, and everyone else that there are two Nations--not Bush's America and some dissenters-- especially since I'd be willing to bet that numerically there are more of us.

In the end, this election is about what kind of people we are, what kind of country we'll be. Half of the electorate dissents from Bushism. The election still represents an expression of the strength of opposition to the radical and reckless course Bush has followed, despite the ugly campaign.

Unlike 1972, when Democrats were wiped out everywhere--in 2004 there is an emerging progressive infrastructure capable of standing and fighting. Progressives should build on those structures put in place in this last cycle and redouble their commitment to economic justice, peace and environmental movements that can make real change.

In the streets of New York on August 29th on the eve of the Republican National Convention and in precincts across America these past few months, millions of people stood up for democracy. This is the heart and soul of this country and it will be the heart and soul of the defense of our rights and liberties in the months to come.

OLDER Election Day Top Ten

Transcript of John Kerry's Concession Speech

The New York Times

Wednesday 03 November 2004

Following is a transcript of Senator John Kerry's concession speech on Wednesday, as recorded by e-Media.
Thank you so much. Thank you, thank you. I love you. I love you, thank you. Thank you, thank you so much. Thank you so much. You just have no idea how warming and how generous that welcome is, your love is, your affection. And I'm gratified by it. I'm sorry that we got here a little bit late and little bit short. I spoke to President Bush and I offered him and Laura our congratulations on their victory.

We had a good conversation, and we talked about the danger of division in our country and the need -- the desperate need for unity, for finding the common ground, coming together. Today I hope that we can begin the healing. In America, it is vital that every vote count, and that every vote be counted. But the outcome should be decided by voters, not a protracted legal process. I would not give up this fight if there was a chance that we would prevail.

But is now clear that even when all the provisional ballots are counted, which they will be, there won't be enough outstanding votes for us to be able to win Ohio. And therefore we cannot win this election. My friends, it was here that we began our campaign for the presidency and all we had was hope and vision for a better America. It was a privilege and a gift to spend two years traveling this country, coming to know so many of you. I wish that I could just wrap you up in my arms and embrace each and every one of you individually all across this nation. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Thank you. Thank you.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (inaudible) loves you.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We still got your back.

KERRY: Thank you, man. And I'm... And I assure you, you watch, I'll still love yours. So hang in there.

I will always be particularly grateful to the colleague that you just heard from who became my partner, my very close friend, an extraordinary leader, John Edwards. And I thank him for everything he did. Thank you, sir.

John and I would be the first to tell you that we owe so much to our families. They're here with us today. They were with us every single step of the way. They sustained us. They went out on their own and they multiplied our campaign all across this country. No one did this more with grace and with courage and candor, that I love, than my wife Teresa, and I thank her. And our children were there every single step of the way. It was unbelievable. Vanessa, Alex, Chris, Andre and John from my family, and Elizabeth Edwards, who is so remarkable and so strong and so smart.

And Johnny and Kate, who went out there on their own, just like my daughters did. And also Emma Claire and Jack, who were up beyond their bedtime last night, like a lot of us. I want to thank my crewmates and my friends from 35 years ago, that great band of brothers who criss-crossed this country on my behalf for 2004.

They had the courage to speak the truth back then and they spoke it again this year. And for that, I will forever be grateful. And thanks also, as I look around here, to friends and family of a lifetime, some from college, friends made all across the years, and then all across the miles of this campaign. You are so special. You brought the gift of your passion for our country and the possibilities of change. And that will stay with us and with this country forever. Thanks to Democrats and Republicans and independents who stood with us, and everyone who voted, no matter who their candidate was. And thanks to my absolutely unbelievable, dedicated staff lead by a wonderful campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill, who did an extraordinary job.

There's so much written about campaigns and there's so much that Americans never get to see. I wish they could all spend a day on a campaign and see how hard these folks work to make America better. It is its own unbelievable contribution to our democracy and it's a gift to everybody, but especially to me, and I'm grateful to each and every one of you. And I thank your families and I thank you for the sacrifices you've made. And to all the volunteers all across this country who gave so much of themselves. You know, thanks to William Field (ph), a 6-year-old who collected $680 a quarter and a dollar at a time, selling bracelets during the summer to help change America. Thanks to Michael Benson (ph) from Florida, who I spied in a rope line holding a container of money and it turned out he had raided his piggy bank and wanted to contribute. And thanks to Ilana Wexler, 11 years old, who started Kids for Kerry all across our country.

I think of the brigades of students and people, young and old, who took time to travel, time off from work, their own vacation time, to work in states far and wide. They braved the hot days of summer and the cold days of the fall and the winter to knock on door because they were determined to open the doors of opportunity to all Americans. They worked their hearts out. And I wish, you don't know how much, that I could have brought this race home for you, for them. And I say to them now: Don't lose faith. What you did made a difference.

And building on itself, we go on to make a difference another day. I promise you, that time will come, the time will come, the election will come, when your work and your ballots will change the world. And it's worth fighting for. I want to especially say to the American people: In this journey, you have given me the honor and the gift of listening and learning from you. I have visited your homes, I visited your churches, I visited your community halls, I've heard your stories. I know your struggles, I know your hopes. They are part of me now. And I will never forget you and I'll never stop fighting for you. You may not understand completely in what ways, but it is true when I say to you that you have taught me and you have tested me and you've lifted me up and you've made me stronger. I did my best to express my vision and my hopes for America. We worked hard and we fought hard, and I wish that things had turned out a little differently. But in an American election, there are no losers, because whether or not our candidates are successful, the next morning we all wake up as Americans. That is the greatest privilege and the most remarkable good fortune that can come to us on Earth.

With that gift also comes obligation. We are required now to work together for the good of our country. In the days ahead, we must find common cause. We must join in common effort, without remorse or recrimination, without anger or rancor. America is in need of unity and longing for a larger measure of compassion. I hope President Bush will advance those values in the coming years. I pledge to do my part to try to bridge the partisan divide. I know this is a difficult time for my supporters, but I ask them, all of you, to join me in doing that. Now, more than ever, with our soldiers in harm's way, we must stand together and succeed in Iraq and win the war on terror.

I will also do everything in my power to ensure that my party, a proud Democratic Party, stands true to our best hopes and ideals. I believe that what we started in this campaign will not end here. Our fight goes on to put America back to work and to make our economy a great engine of job growth. Our fight goes on to make affordable health care an accessible right for all Americans, not privilege. Our fight goes on to protect the environment, to achieve equality, to push the frontiers of science and discovery and to restore America's reputation in the world. I believe that all of this will happen, and sooner than we may think, because we're America, and America always moves forward. I've been honored to represent the citizens of this commonwealth in the United States Senate now for 20 years. And I pledge to them that in the years ahead, I'm going to fight on for the people and for the principles that I've learned and lived with here in Massachusetts. I'm proud of what we stood for in this campaign and of what we accomplished. When we began, no one thought it was possible to even make this a close race.

But we stood for real change, change that would make a real difference in the life of our nation and the lives of our families. And we defined that choice to America. I'll never forget the wonderful people who came to our rallies, who stood in our rope lines, who put their hopes in our hands, who invested in each and every one of us. I saw in them the truth that America is not only great, but it is good. So with a grateful heart, I leave this campaign with a prayer that has even greater meaning to me now that I've come to know our vast country so much better thanks to all of you and what a privilege it has been to do so. And that prayer is very simple: God bless America. Thank you.


Go to Original

Bush Wins Second Term
By Dan Balz and Mike Allen
The Washington Post

Wednesday 03 November 2004

President Bush won his bid for reelection this morning after challenger John F. Kerry conceded the election in a telephone call to the president at 11 a.m. The concession ended an overnight drama over the vote count in Ohio and gave Bush the second term in office that was denied his father 12 years ago.

Conceding the race publicly in a speech to supporters at Boston's historic Faneuil Hall three hours after his phone call with Bush, Kerry said that he had congratulated the president and that they had "talked about the danger of division in our country."

"Today I hope we can begin the healing," Kerry said.

Kerry said he had concluded that outstanding provisional ballots in Ohio would not be enough to overtake Bush's lead and win that state's critical 27 electoral votes.

"In America, it is vital that every vote count and every vote be counted, but the outcome should be decided by voters and not by a protracted legal process," Kerry said, his voice hoarse after long days of cross-country campaigning.

Kerry was introduced by North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, who vowed to "continue to fight for every vote," while conceding that the outcome would not change.

Bush was scheduled to appear at 3 p.m. for a victory statement.

Bush aides already were planning a victory announcement for this afternoon, but the Massachusetts senator's decision not to prolong the vote counting brought a swift end to any possibility that the 2004 election would turn into a rerun of the disputed 2000 contest.

Kerry aides originally believed there might be enough provisional ballots in Ohio -- ballots cast by voters not on the official registration rolls -- to win that state. After overnight analysis and a series of early morning meetings, Kerry and his advisers realized that the estimated 150,000 provisional ballots were not enough to overcome Bush's current margin of 136,000 votes in Ohio, even if he were to win the lion's share of them.

"We wanted to wait and see and be as careful as we could about what the reality on the ground was," Kerry strategist Joe Lockhart said. "When we had a chance to do that, I think we made the judgment that the time was right for John Kerry to call the president and concede."

With Ohio in the president's column, Bush claimed 274 electoral votes -- four more than the 270 needed for victory -- with Iowa and New Mexico still too close to call. In contrast to 2000, Bush also won the popular vote, capturing 51 percent of ballots cast. Kerry won a close vote in Wisconsin, putting his electoral total at 252.

Bush's advisers were convinced hours earlier that there was no way Kerry could win. At about 5:40 a.m., as the Kerry campaign weighed its options, White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. went to the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington to tell supporters, "We are convinced that President Bush has won reelection." He added, "This all adds up to a convincing electoral college victory as well as a strong endorsement by his fellow Americans in the popular vote."

Roughly 120 million people, 60 percent of eligible voters, cast ballots in the election, the Associated Press reported, the highest turnout since 1968. Many strategists thought turnout that high would favor Kerry, but the Bush campaign more than held its own in the battle to get their voters to the polls.

The events of the morning -- as many had predicted -- unfolded in uncertainty because the final tally for Ohio -- with 20 decisive electoral votes -- was incomplete due to uncounted "provisional ballots" cast by individuals whose eligibility was in doubt.

With nearly all the votes counted, Bush led 51 to 49 percent in Ohio. Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell (R) originally estimated that there would be 175,000 provisional ballots by the time the counties finish their tabulations, but later calculations reduced that figure to between 150,000 and 155,000,. Kerry's campaign did not dispute the estimate.

The state was set for a potentially prolonged election when Kerry's running mate, Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), appeared at Boston's Copley Plaza in the middle of the night vowing to continue the fight. "John Kerry and I made a promise to the American people that in this election every vote would count and every vote would be counted. Tonight we are keeping our word and we will fight for every vote. You deserve no less."

Kerry advisers reported pandemonium inside the campaign at that time as they scrambled to assess the situation in Ohio, with memories of the bitter recount in Florida four years ago still vivid.

Bush had planned to speak to supporters once the results were clear but held off once Edwards made his announcement, with aides expressing irritation at the Democrats. At the time Edwards spoke, Bush was leading Kerry by more than 3 million votes nationally.

As the presidential election headed toward potential legal wrangling, Republicans were expanding their majority in the Senate and appeared likely to do the same in the House. In Senate races, the GOP picked up open Democratic seats in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina, while Democrats captured open Republican seats in Illinois and Colorado. In the most closely watched race, Senate Democratic leader Thomas A. Daschle narrowly lost to former House member John Thune (R) in South Dakota.

Michigan tipped to Kerry early this morning and Nevada went to Bush. With Ohio's 20 electoral votes, Nevada was enough to give him the presidency.

As the Kerry campaign closed down for the night, three other states remained in play: Wisconsin, Iowa and New Mexico. Bush led in New Mexico by less than 2,000 votes and in Iowa by about 11,000 votes. Kerry led in Wisconsin by about 20,000 votes. Recount provisions varied in some of the remaining closely contested states.

With the election shaped by the fight against terrorism and the country deeply divided over the war in Iraq and the economy, energized voters poured out in extraordinary numbers nationwide, prodded by the two campaigns, which worked overtime to get their supporters to the polls.

Polling places in some battlegrounds, including Ohio, stayed open long after their scheduled closings as officials struggled to handle a surge in turnout that some experts said could match the most recent high-water mark, set in 1992 -- and perhaps exceed it. Despite threats of legal challenges and other disruptions, voting generally appeared to go smoothly in most states.

Early exit polls appeared to give Kerry a small advantage, but as the night wore on and the actual vote tallies mounted, Democratic exuberance gave way to tense hours of counting and increasing pessimism. When the president fought off Kerry's challenge in Florida, the state that produced the bitter 36-day recount battle four years ago, he significantly complicated Kerry's route to the 270 electoral votes needed to win.

The pattern of the returns proved to be a virtual rerun of the 2000 election, with many of the states that created such drama in that contest once again keeping the candidates and the American people on edge as they watched returns roll in. By early this morning, only one state had switched sides from 2000, with Kerry taking back New Hampshire from the Republicans.

Otherwise, there were no surprises as the states began to report. Bush methodically secured his base in the South and border states, capturing his home state of Texas as well as Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Missouri and Kentucky. He won Indiana and West Virginia, which was a Democratic bastion until Bush won it four years ago. In the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, he rolled to a series of victories.

Kerry began a march across the country's northern tier, beginning in New England with victories in his home state of Massachusetts as well as in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont. To that he added Maryland, the District, and several big prizes: California, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, which the Bush campaign looked at briefly, and Illinois, one of the few states in the Midwest that were not closely contested.

But the two sides were focused on two of the big states where the candidates had spent most of their time and money, Florida and Ohio, and on half a dozen other states that could tip the balance: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, New Hampshire and New Mexico. As the counts came in, the campaigns struggled to examine the data for clues to the outcome.

Early in the day, based on exit polls by the National Election Pool, Bush appeared to be in danger of losing the election and joining his father in being swept out of office after a single term. George H.W. Bush lost his reelection bid in 1992 to Bill Clinton, and the current president systematically sought to avoid the mistakes he believed cost his father that election. But the fact that he did not significantly expand his coalition over that of four years ago put him in another tough fight this year.

After the 2000 election, the country united around Bush's presidency when terrorists attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. But that unity faded and, after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the nation became polarized. Yesterday's electorate appeared as divided as it was four years ago.

Bush and Kerry monitored the voting last night from their respective bases of operation in Washington and Massachusetts. Bush voted in Texas in the morning, stopped in Columbus, Ohio, in a show of support for his campaign workers there, and returned to Washington in the afternoon.

Bush spent the evening at the White House residence, surrounded by family and a few close advisers. Kerry began his day in La Crosse, Wis. He then flew to Boston to vote and returned to his Beacon Hill home. He spent four hours doing 38 satellite interviews with local television stations, trying to spur his supporters to vote. Edwards joined in that effort.

Three issues dominated the campaign and shaped yesterday's vote: terrorism, the war in Iraq and the national economy. Kerry overwhelmingly won among those who said Iraq and the economy were the most important issues to them, while Bush won by a landslide among those who cited terrorism. Beyond those issues, a fifth of yesterday's voters said moral values influenced their choice, and Bush won them by 4 to 1.

No barometer has been watched more closely throughout the campaign than the president's approval rating, often considered an indicator of the chance of winning reelection. Ronald Reagan and Clinton were reelected with approval ratings in the mid-fifties, while George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter lost when their approval ratings plunged to 40 percent or below.

Yesterday, according to exit polls, Bush's approval rating stood at 51 percent, still occupying a political netherworld that provided evidence of how competitive the race remained to the end.

Outside events shaped the campaign far more than the candidates' strategists did, helping to negate some of the normal advantages enjoyed by an incumbent seeking reelection. The campaigns battled over whether the economy is in clear recovery or is still struggling. At several crucial turns, job figures put Bush on the defensive, and voters gave the economy negative marks yesterday but split over whom they trust more to fix things.

Iraq proved even more troubling for Bush. As the general election campaign opened in the spring, a succession of events put him back on his heels, such as evidence that the insurgency was stronger than the United States had estimated, mounting casualties and then the prison abuse scandal. Bush struggled to explain his policy. In the final weeks, Iraq took center stage again, with stories of kidnappings, beheadings, criticism of the president's policies and more casualties. Yesterday, voters split almost evenly over whether it was right or wrong to go to war, with a majority saying things there are not going well.

The 2004 campaign will rank as the longest and costliest in American history, a battle that began the day after Kerry wrapped up the Democratic nomination contest on March 3 and continued through the trench warfare of turning out voters until the polls closed last night. At times, it was also one of the most negative, marked by angry anti-Bush energy that first surfaced during the Democratic primaries and by relentless criticism of Kerry by the Bush campaign.

When the Democratic nomination fight began in early 2003, Bush was in a strong position, coming off a historic midterm election victory by his party that was fueled in part by the unity engendered by his actions after the Sept. 11 attacks. He enjoyed an approval rating of 60 percent or better, but over the next months the president took a huge gamble by beginning the war in Iraq. The success of the initial invasion drove his popularity even higher, but over time the war became the most divisive decision of his presidency.

Bush's campaign wasted no time in going after Kerry, pummeling him as a politician who had been on both sides of virtually every major issue of the past two decades. Bush began the attack with a touch of humor, but the Bush campaign's advertising and Vice President Cheney's rhetoric carried a much sharper edge that soon began to cut into Kerry profile.

The challenger took a narrow lead heading into his convention in Boston in late July. There, over four nights of speeches and celebration, the campaign highlighted the senator's service in Vietnam, hoping once and for all to convince voters that he had the credentials to be commander in chief. He emerged temporarily stronger -- until the Bush campaign and its allies struck back.

August quickly became an ordeal for Kerry. A group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth aired television ads questioning his combat record in Vietnam, and with a minimal amount of money it took the entire presidential campaign back almost four decades into a debate about that divisive war. Bush could not escape the fracas either, with new questions raised about his service during the war, but it was Kerry who bore the brunt of it.

Republicans gathered in New York at the end of August for their convention and skillfully reconnected Bush with the events surrounding Sept. 11, 2001, the high point of his presidency and a powerfully emotional hinge point for the country. The Republicans also used their convention, in a way the Democrats did not, to attack the opposition.

Bush emerged from his convention with a lead in the polls and pressed his advantage throughout September. Kerry went through another staff shake-up, recruiting several veterans of the Clinton administration and realigning responsibilities. He also set the stage for a fresh debate about Bush's policies in Iraq, reengaging on an issue that had turned into one of Bush's biggest problems.

The debates gave Kerry another opening, and he took advantage. In the first debate, Bush looked and occasionally sounded impatient and angry, and even his supporters knew the challenger came out as the winner. Through two more debates, Kerry more than held his own, providing a morale boost to his campaign and, more important, to the legions of Democrats who had watched August and September with growing alarm.

The final weeks generated some of the toughest rhetoric of the campaign and a back-to-basics strategy from both candidates. Fighting more bad news from Iraq, Bush continued to question Kerry's fitness to lead the country in the war on terrorism. Kerry seized on every headline he could find, including the lack of flu vaccine, indifferent job numbers and missing high explosives in Iraq to argue that Bush's presidency has been a failure. Kerry called for a fresh start; Bush warned Americans not to take the risk.


Jump to TO Features for Thursday November 4, 2004
Today's TO Features -------------- FOCUS: John Kerry | Don't Lose Faith. What You Did Made a Difference Mark Tran | What a Bush Win Will Mean for America Iraqi Oil Pipeline Blown Up Ohio Goes into Overtime t r u t h o u t Home

Living Poor, Voting Rich

November 3, 2004
Living Poor, Voting Rich

In the aftermath of this civil war that our nation has just fought, one result is clear: the Democratic Party's first priority should be to reconnect with the American heartland.

I'm writing this on tenterhooks on Tuesday, without knowing the election results. But whether John Kerry's supporters are now celebrating or seeking asylum abroad, they should be feeling wretched about the millions of farmers, factory workers and waitresses who ended up voting - utterly against their own interests - for Republican candidates.

One of the Republican Party's major successes over the last few decades has been to persuade many of the working poor to vote for tax breaks for billionaires. Democrats are still effective on bread-and-butter issues like health care, but they come across in much of America as arrogant and out of touch the moment the discussion shifts to values.

"On values, they are really noncompetitive in the heartland," noted Mike Johanns, a Republican who is governor of Nebraska. "This kind of elitist, Eastern approach to the party is just devastating in the Midwest and Western states. It's very difficult for senatorial, Congressional and even local candidates to survive."

In the summer, I was home - too briefly - in Yamhill, Ore., a rural, working-class area where most people would benefit from Democratic policies on taxes and health care. But many of those people disdain Democrats as elitists who empathize with spotted owls rather than loggers.

One problem is the yuppification of the Democratic Party. Thomas Frank, author of the best political book of the year, "What's the Matter With Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America," says that Democratic leaders have been so eager to win over suburban professionals that they have lost touch with blue-collar America.

"There is a very upper-middle-class flavor to liberalism, and that's just bound to rub average people the wrong way," Mr. Frank said. He notes that Republicans have used "culturally powerful but content-free issues" to connect to ordinary voters.

To put it another way, Democrats peddle issues, and Republicans sell values. Consider the four G's: God, guns, gays and grizzlies.

One-third of Americans are evangelical Christians, and many of them perceive Democrats as often contemptuous of their faith. And, frankly, they're often right. Some evangelicals take revenge by smiting Democratic candidates.

Then we have guns, which are such an emotive issue that Idaho's Democratic candidate for the Senate two years ago, Alan Blinken, felt obliged to declare that he owned 24 guns "and I use them all." He still lost.

As for gays, that's a rare wedge issue that Democrats have managed to neutralize in part, along with abortion. Most Americans disapprove of gay marriage but do support some kind of civil unions (just as they oppose "partial birth" abortions but don't want teenage girls to die from coat-hanger abortions).

Finally, grizzlies - a metaphor for the way environmentalism is often perceived in the West as high-handed. When I visited Idaho, people were still enraged over a Clinton proposal to introduce 25 grizzly bears into the wild. It wasn't worth antagonizing most of Idaho over 25 bears.

"The Republicans are smarter," mused Oregon's governor, Ted Kulongoski, a Democrat. "They've created ... these social issues to get the public to stop looking at what's happening to them economically."

"What we once thought - that people would vote in their economic self-interest - is not true, and we Democrats haven't figured out how to deal with that."

Bill Clinton intuitively understood the challenge, and John Edwards seems to as well, perhaps because of their own working-class origins. But the party as a whole is mostly in denial.

To appeal to middle America, Democratic leaders don't need to carry guns to church services and shoot grizzlies on the way. But a starting point would be to shed their inhibitions about talking about faith, and to work more with religious groups.

Otherwise, the Democratic Party's efforts to improve the lives of working-class Americans in the long run will be blocked by the very people the Democrats aim to help.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.

November 3, 2004
Atlanta Shutting Off Water as It Tries to Collect $35 Million Overdue

ATLANTA, Nov. 2 - Dorothy Chandler is used to fielding calls at the Midtown Assistance Center from people who are looking for help on their gas or electric bill. But on Tuesday, as news spread that a quarter of the city's water customers faced shutoff, it was suddenly the water bill that prompted several panicked calls.

"It is a huge concern," Ms. Chandler said. "The calls that I've had today, the people are $600 behind, $800 behind. They're huge amounts, much more than we could possibly help with."

On the heels of hard-won water rate and sales tax increases to pay for $3 billion in sewer improvements, the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management has decided to rein in its debtors. On Thursday, two dozen workers began turning off the water of customers who were more than 30 days delinquent, estimated to be about a quarter of the city's 134,000 active accounts.

A spokeswoman for the department, Janet Ward, said that the delinquency period was nothing new but that strict enforcement was. Ms. Ward said that anyone who contested their bill would probably be able to keep their water on until the dispute was concluded. "We understand how important water is, and we will bend over backwards to work with people who should not have their water cut off," she said.

But she said the debt could not be ignored. "We have passed these incredible rate increases that took effect in January, and then the people voted overwhelmingly to pass a municipal rate increase of a 1 percent sales tax," Ms. Ward said. In January, the City Council approved yearly rate increases until 2008, on a sliding scale that will eventually triple rates for the biggest water users.

"We're asking the people to step up to the plate, and they have done that,'' she said. "Now we need to make sure and make them understand that we are doing everything we can to keep their rates down and do the work that has to be done. Recovering money that is by rights ours and that is out there is one of the best ways to do that."

It is unclear how much of the $35 million that those customers owe will be recovered, but at least it will stop the bleeding, she said. The department will shut off about 400 to 500 delinquents a day until the backlog is eliminated.

The logic is little comfort to those who fear they will be cut off. Elaine Isles, 44, is an unemployed security guard who lives with her husband, Glenn, and their three sons, ages 17, 10 and 7, and their water bill is past due. Ms. Isles received assistance for last month, but carried a balance forward and now has the next month's bill as well. "Now I owe $238.34," Ms. Isles said. "I don't have a way to give them $238.34. I don't have any way to give them one dollar." The family has been trying to cut down, flushing the toilet less.

"They already knew people weren't going to be able to pay their water bill when they increased it,'' she said. "Then they threaten the people of Atlanta and say if you're 30 days past due we're going to cut your water off. I think it's ridiculous."

Reflecting an irony of the city's water politics, Ms. Isles and her family are the very people the increase was designed to help. The sewer system is notoriously broken in places, in heavy rains dumping sewage into the Chattahoochee River and backing up plumbing in neighborhoods like the Isleses'. A federal judge had threatened a moratorium on new sewer hookups if it was not fixed.

The plumbing backups have "been hard on me and my family," Ms. Isles said. "The plumber said it's not in our property but in the street. I called the city but the city doesn't do anything."

She would appreciate it being fixed, she said, but is unhappy that she should be told to pay so much. "How can they say that when I can't pay for it?'' she said. "I can't pay."

Many customers were caught off guard by the news, said Ms. Chandler of the assistance center, not only because enforcement had been lax but also because the utility just changed from a two-month billing cycle to once a month. "Also, a lot of landlords who previously did not charge tenants for water now are charging," she said. "That's a whole new thing."

Councilman C. T. Martin said elderly and low-income people had been severely affected by the rate increase, which began in January. Mr. Martin had a colleague propose a resolution for him on Monday night that would protect those groups from immediate shutoffs.

"It's going to cause some people to have to move out of the city," Mr. Martin said. "It's just kind of the way the whole thing was done. There hadn't been adequate notification and education."

The water department is beginning a notification program with phone calls and bill inserts, Ms. Ward said. She said they would start cutoffs with "the worst of the worst."

"They're the ones who've owed the most, and they've owed it the longest time," Ms. Ward said. That includes people who are anywhere from 60 or 90 days overdue to years, she said.

"I've seen some numbers, in the thousands of dollars, $8,000, $9,000 for individual residential accounts," she said. "These are people who have never paid a bill, or some people who move or something and we don't catch up with them."

For now, that is what people like Irene Gorman, 42, are counting on. Ms. Gorman is a single mother of four and a pharmacy technician at a CVS store who lives in Vine City, a low-income neighborhood in central Atlanta. Ms. Gorman has been paying down a past due water bill at $80 a week. She has trimmed it to $282, but she is struggling to make the payments.

Ms. Gorman said she did not know what would happen if she could not pay and received a cutoff notice. "It's hard to pay my bills right now," she said. "The only way I make it is through the grace of God."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

What a Bush Win Will Mean for America

By Mark Tran
The Guardian U.K.

Wednesday 03 November 2004

A second term in the White House for Bush could have far reaching effects not only on the economy, but on the social fabric of the country, says Mark Tran.

As he heads for another four years in the White House - barring a shock in Ohio - George Bush will have the chance to tilt the supreme court firmly to the right and leave a lasting imprint on the US's social and political fabric.

Three of the nine supreme court justices could well step down in the next few years. Chief justice William Rehnquist, an 80-year-old Nixon appointee, who was hospitalised last week following complications arising from thyroid cancer, is surely looking at retirement. Justices John Paul Stevens, 84, and Sandra Day O'Connor, 74, have also indicated an interest in stepping down.

Unlike presidents, supreme court justices are not hobbled by term limits and can stay on for decades. The president who appoints them is therefore presented with an opportunity to mould the powerful body according to his political tastes - with the caveat that such judges can often confound expectations.

We can expect big battles in Congress as Democrats seek to block Mr Bush from packing the court with conservative judges. The president has made it clear what kind of judges he wants in the court, holding up as models two of the court's most conservative members, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

In the coming years, the supreme court is expected to consider some of the most divisive social issues in the US: private property rights and government land seizure, gay marriage and partial-birth abortion.

The importance of the court cannot be underestimated. It was the supreme court that segregated American schools and then reversed the judgment. It was the supreme court that made the famous Roe v Wade ruling that confirmed a woman's right to an abortion. The amendment has long been a bugbear for the religious right, which may well seek to overturn the ruling once Mr Bush has made his appointments.

On the economic front, the White House has been building up problems that will have to be tackled sooner or later. In his first term, the Bush administration engineered what an International Monetary Fund economist termed as the "best recovery that money can buy".

That recovery rested on huge tax cuts and massive government - especially military - spending. The result has been enormous US budget and trade deficits that the IMF believe to be unsustainable. Unless Mr Bush starts to soak up the pool of red ink, interest rates will have to rise as a corrective measure, which could push the US into recession.

To tame the US deficit, Mr Bush may well have to make a u-turn and raise taxes - as his father, despite his "read my lips, no new taxes" pledge, did before him. Perhaps the only consolation for Kerry supporters is that Mr Bush will now have to take some unpalatable measures to correct the massive economic imbalances that have developed under his first term.


Mark Tran reported for the Guardian from the US from 1984 to 1989.


Jump to TO Features for Thursday November 4, 2004

Wallow In Chaos, And Laugh


A pro-Bush outcome and one enormous bitter pill and you without your vodka
- By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Oh dear God please not again.

Oh dear God please don't let it be all convoluted and depressing and messy and stupid and please don't let it all embarrass us on an international level all over again even more than it already has and even more than it already is and even more than we've endured lo these past four debilitating and soul-crushing years. Hello? Please? Is it already too late?

Why yes, yes it is.

And lo and behold, it was apparently another completely tortuous and entirely knotted presidential election, unfinished until the wee hours and reeking of E-voting suspicion and exit-poll miscalculation and it all came down to, what? Ohio? Are you serious? What a thing.

And now Kerry's conceded and the white flag has been raised and we are headed toward the utterly appalling notion of another four years of Bush and another Republican stranglehold of Congress and repeated GOP chants of "More War in '04!"

Which is, well, simply staggering. Mind blowing. Odd. Gut wrenching. Colon knotting. Eyeball gouging. And so on.

You want to block it out. You want to rend your flesh and yank your hair and say no way in hell and lean out your window and scream into the Void and pray it will all be over soon, even though you know you're an atheist Buddhist Taoist Rosicrucian Zen Orgasmican and you don't normally pray to anything except maybe the gods of really exceptional sake and skin-tingling sex and maybe a few luminous transcendental deities that look remarkably like Jenna Jameson.

It simply boggles the mind: we've already had four years of some of the most appalling and abusive foreign and domestic policy in American history, some of the most well-documented atrocities ever wrought on the American populace and it's all combined with the biggest and most violently botched and grossly mismanaged war since Vietnam, and much of the nation still insists in living in a giant vat of utter blind faith, still insists on believing the man in the White House couldn't possibly be treating them like a dog treats a fire hydrant.

Inexplicable? Not really. People want to believe. They want to trust their leaders, even against all screaming, neon-lit evidence and stack upon stack of flagrant, impeachment-grade lie. They simply cannot allow that Dubya might really be an utter boob and that they are being treated like an abused, beaten housewife who keeps coming back for more, insisting her drunk husband didn't mean it, that she probably had it coming, that the cuts and bruises and blood and broken bones are all for her own good.

And this election, it might be all be very amusing, in a Mel Gibson-y, blood-drenched hamburger-of-Christ sorta way, were it not so sad and dangerous. It might all be tolerable and cute, in a violence-engorged, sexist, video-game-y sorta way, were it not so lopsided and wrong.

This election's outcome, this heartbreaking proof of a nation split more deeply and decisively than ever, it simply reinforces the feeling among much of the educated populace: It is a weirdly embarrassing time to be an American. It is jarring and oddly shattering and makes you rethink what it really means to be a part of this country. The answer: It doesn't mean much at all. Not really. Not anymore.

This is the common wisdom on the progressive Left. Those first four toxic Bush years? A fluke. A phantasm. A stolen election. A gaff, a mugging, a crime. But this? An election this close makes you reconsider. Maybe, after all, we aren't nearly as far along as we think. Maybe we're not all that sophisticated or nuanced or respectable a nation as we sometimes dare to dream.

Maybe, in fact, we're regressing, back to the days of guns and sexism and pre-emptive violence, of environmental abuse and no rights for women and a sincere hatred of gays and foreigners and minorities. Sound familiar? It should: it's the modern GOP platform.

Here's the thing: for tens of millions of us, it is simply unconscionable that we could possibly be led for another four years by a small and spoiled little man who has very little real idea what he's doing and even less of how the hell he got there. It would be funny, in a Adam Sandler, toilet-humored sort of way, were it not so poisonous and depressing. And yet it looks like we're stuck with it, like a shard of glass buried deep in the eye.

And the rest of the world? Well, it can only watch us and shake its collective head and wonder just what the hell is wrong with us, why so many millions of us would even consider re-electing the world's most inept and war-hungry and insanely inarticulate man to four more years of unchecked power, why our much-hyped much-coveted supposedly ultrasuperior democratic system is so very deeply blotchy and knotty and spoiled.

So then, to much of Europe, Russia, Asia, Canada, Mexico, the Middle East -- to all those dozens of major world nations who want Bush out almost as much as the educated people of America, to you we can only say: We are so very, very sorry. We don't know how it happened, either. For tens of millions of us, Bush is not our president and never will be. That's how divisive. That's how dangerous. That's how very sad it has become.

The GOP steamroller appears to be just too powerful, just too well oiled and blood soaked and fear inducing to be stopped just yet. After all, the Right has been working on this master plan and building their takeover strategy for about forty years. It's gonna take those of us working for change and progress and raw spiritual juice a little more than one or two years to dissolve it away like the cancer it so obviously is.

Apparently, there are lessons yet to be learned. Apparently, we must hit some sort of new low between now and 2008, attain some sort of seriously vicious status in the world before we will snap out of it. You think?

This much is clear: We are not, with a grim Bush victory, headed for buoyancy and friendship and sincere hope for something new and refreshing. We are not, with another four years of what we just endured, headed toward any sort of easing of bitter tension, a sense of levity, or sexual openness, or true education, or gender respect, or a lightness of spirit and of step.

Maybe the best we can hope for, at this ominous and slightly sickening moment, is one hell of a lot more patience.


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