July 30th, 2004


political odds and ends

The Iowa Electronic Markets is a site where people trade shares based on political events. Right now they have the General Election a dead heat .5 kerry to .499 bush. Control of congress has .507 for total republican control, and .343 for democrates to take the senate.

What does this mean? It means that when a large group of people have money on the line, their best guess is that the election is a dead heat, even closer than traditional polls predict.

This is echoed in another non-traditional election forecast by the University of Iowa's Michael Lewis Beck, who has been refining a model based on economic conditions for 18 years, who says it's too close to call.

Kerry's speech was pretty good, not so much for its content, but because he seemed more human than he has when he's been campaigning. I've been told by people who've actually met him that he's a lot more engaging when he's talking one on one with people. The only thing that bothered me about it was technique -- every time he wanted the crowd to shut up he repeated the first part of the next sentence of his speech over and over.

If you go point by point through the speech, you can see how it was shaped by polling; the heavy military emphasis correlating with the importance people put on Iraq, going on and on about values, mentioning politicizing the Constitution, etc. It was something for everyone. But I have no doubt that he, at least, believes what he's saying. That was Clinton's gift -- whatever he says, he believes it himself, even if he might believe something completely opposite at a later date.

Talking Points Memo is all over the curious case of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, whose capture the Pakistanis announced on the last day of the Democratic Convention. This comes after The New Republic published an article saying that the Bush Administration has been pressuring Pakistan to catch someone big from Al Qaeda during the convention.

As mentioned in Metafilter, Scott Ritter is saying that the current insurgency in Iraq is in large part something planned before the invasion and carried out by members of the Baathist regime.

Ritter was sorta right in March 2003 when he said "Every time we confront Iraqi troops we may win some tactical battles, as we did for ten years in Vietnam, but we will not be able to win this war, which in my opinion is already lost," but I don't think he forsaw the guerrilla war that's currently going on.

It is interesting the way Ritter has been completely marginalized in the US Media. A large part of that is because of the disclosure in January 2003 by an Albany NY television station that he'd been arrested for soliciting a minor in an AOL chat room. As it turns out, the arrest happened in 2001, all charges had been dropped, and the court documents sealed. What he did or didn't do I don't know, but news of the arrest was leaked, perhaps illegally, right before the beginning of the war, when Ritter was a vocal critic of the US invasion.

So if you search on Scott Ritter, you get hundreds of links to conservatives crowing about him being a pedophile. End of whatever credibility he may have had.

If you don't think we're in for a nasty, underhanded, cynical campaign from the Republicans this fall, think again. They have already repeatedly issued vague warnings about terrorism -- warnings that gave no useful information to anyone, including the police and fire departments on the ground who would be likely first responders -- 'coincidentally' tied to bad news about the economy, Iraq, or Kerry's announcing of Edwards as a running mate. They've smeared their critics, announcing bogus 'investigations' of people who have written books critical of the administration. They outed a CIA operative to punish her husband Joe Wilson. They've run deceptive campaign ads to paint Kerry in the worst light.

And the sad thing is, none of it has really stuck, because what they've done has been a bunch of bullshit.

Blah Blah Blah.


If you care, I think I'm going to be using chaircrusher@gmail.com as my primary e-mail.

Gmail seems to address my primary concerns about web-mail interfaces, in that it's very fast for a web application. I like the archiving and search features, and I don't really mind the ads; they're pretty discreet so far. It's fun reading 313 and analogue heaven, etc, because you get all sorts of ads for gearz and software, stuff you may not know about.