Late in the week my friend Phillip in Atlanta asked me if I still believed Bush would win the election in November.
Will Bush win? Given this week's polls - I'm still pretty sure. Close, but trending to Bush - and I'll plug in some figures in Excel and do a regression analysis later (something I learned as a professional geek years ago - how to do double regression trend lines). Of course, the electoral vote is another matter. Rick Brown is on that one (see his column It's the Electoral College, Stupid! from earlier in the week).
You can always find the latest polling data at The Daily Kos, as Markos Moulitsas Z?niga (Kos) tracks it all -
Other factors? There's a new Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad due out soon. CNN has shifted its wording - and its folks all now say, as they introduce one more item on it all, that the facts are in dispute (Kerry may not have saved Rasmussen's life - we don't know - so he may be dead? But? Should we tell they guy?) Just being fair - the Swifties say this, all the Navy records and other facts of time and place say something else, so to be fair, all is in dispute (CNN can't take sides). [See footnote.]
CNN/Gallup Likely Voters - 8/25 (Prev: 8/1
Bush 48% (51)
Kerry 46% (45)
Nader 3% (2) FOX NewsLikely Voters - 8/25 (Previous: 8/4)
Bush 43% (43)
Kerry 44% (47)
Nader 3% (2) EconomistRegistered Voters - 8/25 (Prev: 8/18)
Bush 44% (41)
Kerry 47% (48)
Nader 2% (2) LA Times Registered Voters - 8/24 (Prev: 7/21)
Bush 47% (44)
Kerry 44% (46)
Nader 3% (3) IBD/TIPPRegistered Voters
- 8/23 (Prev: 8/5)
Bush 43% (42)
Kerry 43% (45)
Nader 5% (5)
Also the Republican Convention in New York City will give Bush a boost next week.
Beyond the Polls - The Economy
The economic numbers this week were bad for Bush - poverty is and issue - "The number of people living in poverty rose by 1.3 million to 35.9 million people, or 12.5 percent of the population, up from 12.1 percent in 2002." And this - "The poverty rate has risen from a recent low of 11.3 percent in 2000, meaning an additional 4.3 million people are living in poverty as defined by the government." Ands there is the issue of healthcare - "The number of people with health insurance increased by 1.0 million to 243.3 million between 2002 and 2003, and the number without such coverage rose by 1.4 million to 45.0 million. The percentage of the nation's population without coverage grew from 15.2 percent in 2002 to 15.6 percent in 2003."
But most folks would rather be jobless and starve as long as Lars and Spanky don't marry each other. Social issues regarding queers and perverts, so to speak, carry weight. And there is the idea Bush was chosen by God, so you know what to do.
And finally, after all, Bush may be dangerous, but Kerry is just dull, and he flip-flops, and he speaks French when no one is looking.
And folks get off when Bush smirks. They find it funny that he says "Fuck You" to the world - and it makes them proud. That's what everyone secretly wants to say to the world, about everything.
Thus he wins.
Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, has a question about these economic figures - "If 12.5 percent of Americans are impoverished; while 15.6 percent are without health insurance, doesn't this indicate that about 3.0 percent of the non-impoverished are maintaining their status by not having health insurance?"
Yes. That is exactly what happens. The three percent difference represents people whose employers no longer offer and health benefits at all - a growing number of firms large and small, as those who run businesses are supposed to show profits and growth to shareholders and health benefits are a drag on the bottom line. That's illegal in California, where if you have two hundred or more employees you must provide the benefits. No choice. But laws vary state to state. With the glut of folks on the market who need work, the desperate-but-qualified, no longer offering benefits just does not hamper a firm's ability to hire or retain good people. Folks would rather work without benefits than not work at all.
Employers too have shifted the cost of the benefits more and more to the employees - you must now chip in some of your own money if benefits are offered. We had a four-month grocery workers strike out here on that issue - and the union caved. Most everywhere the percent you as a worker must chip in will rise, next year, by an average of over nine percent more.
Wal-Mart has a benefits plan where they only cover "catastrophic" expenses - all else is your problem. Our emergency rooms here are thus not only flooded by the uninsured, and illegal immigrants, but also by fulltime employed Wal-Mart workers with broken bones and such. Three Los Angeles emergency rooms have shut down this year so far because they just cannot sustain the losses involved - no one can pay for the services and they are required by law to treat anyone who walks in the door. Catholic Healthcare West's Sherman Way room shut down last week - in Northridge, out in the San Fernando Valley. (I thinking they're closing the whole hospital, actually. I used to work for CHW and know their General Ledger and Accounts Payable systems well - that was my job for three years, managing those systems.) The remaining six emergency rooms in Los Angeles county are now even more flooded and making sounds like they too might shut down. The city and the county, and the state, don't have the money to do much about this. Our governor, Arnold, the charismatic Austrian fellow who speaks German and talks tough, has just arranged to float twenty-two billion in bonds to keep us solvent for a bit longer on borrowed money. There is nothing available for this. The Feds say it's not their problem.
Too, many of those employed, as Ric guessed, with bills and debts, opt to waive whatever heath coverage is offered - a growing number of young workers who feel healthy, and economically squeezed. It's a choice. You're young. You take your chances.
But we're free, and don't have to suffer under socialized medicine like in France, Canada or Sweden, or the UK. We are willing to pay the cost of freedom from the evil Marxist ideas of the old Soviet Union and those godless communists. Think of the state motto of New Hampshire - "Live Free or Die." Change the "or" to "and" and you get the idea.
Bush can campaign effectively on the evils of socialized medicine. That always works. As for the poverty figures? We have turned the corner? Harder to sell, but folks may buy it.
Steph, my friend in London, Ontario, says things in Canada are not that good there really -
I guess things are tough all over.
Healthcare in Canada? If you were still here in Ontario, Alan, this year you would have to shell out $750 for a new Health Care tax above and beyond what already goes to health care from your income taxes.
Add to that an average auto insurance increase of 30-40% (yup, just this year compared to last) here in Ontario, and the city of London's 10.5% increase in property taxes and 7% on water taxes. Oddly enough I don't know anyone getting anywhere near the raise needed to keep up with all this.
And Ric in Paris shot this back -
Ah, tough times everywhere. And is a reference, one US dollar is worth 0.85586 euros, and one Canadian dollar is worth 1.68789 USD - right now. You do the math.
All that is a piffle. In France some companies are saying to workers that if they don't start working 40 hours a week for 35 hours' pay, they'll move the factory to Poland. Bosch did that two weeks ago. Their French help is now working longer - until Bosch decides to move the factory to Poland in two years anyway.
Other companies have not bothered with this 'politesse.' They call in the CRS riot police and moving vans, strip the factory and truck it to Poland - leaving the workers behind to carry on with their 35-hour work week in an empty shell. Shown on TV-news tonight. If it keeps up France should be totally delocalized within six months. The natives will be in an ugly mood; tourists need to be warned!
In situations like this it hardly matters how high taxes are getting. And in Canada's particular case we should remember that those huge percentage increases are based on piddly Canadian dollars, probably worth no more than a handful of alloy pesos. Heaven help us all if taxes had to be paid in petro-euros!
Gee, Bush could run on the economy-is-fine idea. We don't have toy currency like Canada, and businesses are bailing out of France. So we must be doing just fine.
Still, I think Bush will probably run on the social issues, and character, as he calls it.
He will win.
Footnote on CNN:
On the function of the press there was this satiric exchange on Jon Stewart's Daily Show this week (it's a comic faux news show)
Well, Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, who used to work for CNN and was actually in at the start of it, takes exception -
STEWART: Here's what puzzles me most, Rob. John Kerry's record in Vietnam is pretty much right there in the official records of the US military, and haven't been disputed for 35 years?
CORDDRY: That's right, Jon, and that's certainly the spin you'll be hearing coming from the Kerry campaign over the next few days.
STEWART: Th-that's not a spin thing, that's a fact. That's established.
CORDDRY: Exactly, Jon, and that established, incontrovertible fact is one side of the story.
STEWART: But that should be -- isn't that the end of the story? I mean, you've seen the records, haven't you? What's your opinion?
CORDDRY: I'm sorry, my *opinion*? No, I don't have 'o-pin-i-ons'. I'm a reporter, Jon, and my job is to spend half the time repeating what one side says, and half the time repeating the other. Little thing called 'objectivity' -- might wanna look it up some day.
STEWART: Doesn't objectivity mean objectively weighing the evidence, and calling out what's credible and what isn't?
CORDDRY: Whoa-ho! Well, well, well -- sounds like someone wants the media to act as a filter! [high-pitched, effeminate] 'Ooh, this allegation is spurious! Upon investigation this claim lacks any basis in reality! Mmm, mmm, mmm.' Listen buddy: not my job to stand between the people talking to me and the people listening to me.
STEWART: So, basically, you're saying that this back-and-forth is never going to end.
CORDDRY: No, Jon -- in fact a new group has emerged, this one composed of former Bush colleagues, challenging the president's activities during the Vietnam era. That group: Drunken Stateside Sons of Privilege for Plausible Deniability. They've apparently got some things to say about a certain Halloween party in '71 that involved trashcan punch and a sodomized pi?ata. Jon -- they just want to set the record straight. That's all they're out for.
STEWART: Well, thank you Rob, good luck out there. We'll be right back.
Yep, but Rick's CNN, where his wife still works as one of the VP's, is in fact giving every bozo with a sizeable constituency a few moments control of the microphone.
Naw, that phony journalist guy's confusing "objectivity" (which is when you try to get at the truth) with "fair and balanced" (which is when you try to give every bozo with a sizeable constituency a few moments control of the microphone).
The real problem with "fair and balanced," of course, is that liars have an advantage.
For example, you might find some group of right-wing veterans willing to fudge their recollections in defense of the "good cause," but there would be no such group as "Drunken Stateside Sons of Privilege for Plausible Deniability," because if they really were what they say they are, they'd all be voting for Bush and would just keep their mouths shut.
But if they weren't what they say they are? Then that would be lying, and once again, liars tend to voting for Bush, so once again, they would just keep their mouths shut!
Josh Marshall caught these:
Daryn Kagan from Tuesday morning...
KAGAN: And so here comes a new ad by the Swift Boat Veterans and they're not just attacking the medals that John Kerry might have won but they are attacking what he did after he came back from the war. Is that going to be effective?
Miles O'Brien the next day...
O'BRIEN: All right, we are listening to Max Cleland, former senator from Georgia and former Lieutenant Jim Rassmann, a former Green Beret whose life was saved by John Kerry in the Mekong Delta in 1969. Although, that is a point of dispute, given what has all transpired here with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
Okay. A group of people say the moon is made of green cheese and the earth is flat, and you report it. You report others say it's not. You report that too. Fair is fair.
Bull. If you know something is just not so, don't you report that?
It's not just CNN, it's the Washington Post and many others -
That is from a discussion of this all in Editor and Publisher you will find here.
Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. said he believes the Swift Boat Veterans coverage had been fair and properly scrutinizing. "We have printed the facts and some of those facts have undermined Kerry's opponents," he said. "We are not judging the credibility of Kerry or the (Swift Boat) Veterans, we just print the facts."
He defended a lengthy Post story that ran Sunday which appeared to give equal credibility to both Kerry's version of the events in Vietnam (which is supported by his crewmates and largely backed up by a paper trail) and the Swift Boat Veterans, despite the fact that previous stories in the Post and the New York Times had debunked many of the group's accounts.
Advantage Bush. Anything you say, even blatant lies, will be reported extensively, and given equal time. So if you are willing to lie through your teeth, the press will advance the story.
They just report, and report anything at all. It's not their business to sort out the truth. And that's another reason Bush will win.
Bush has called for an end to all these "issue ads" of course. From New York Times: President Bush said on Thursday that he did not believe Senator John Kerry lied about his war record, but he declined to condemn the television commercial paid for by a veterans group alleging that Mr. Kerry came by his war medals dishonestly. (Full story here.)
That's cute. Let the lies stay out there. The press will help out. And they will dutifully report you say you don't personally think the guy is a lair. But some do. And you think all such ads should stop, but won't say the one ad you clearly imply is full of lies, well, you have no comment. Cute.
The economy may be shaky, at best, and the war has turned out to be quite a mess, but the press is toothless and, if his friends spread enough poison, this is over now. Bush wins.