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There They Go Again

How many kicks in the teeth from this “uniter” did it take before reality set in?  How set back was the country by the media’s refusal to recognize that we were being ruled by a radical who paid no attention to their homespun homilies about “healing?”

From a book I was hoping would be rendered irrelevant, .

“Given the circumstances,” wrote the commentator Joe Klein in the liberal New Yorker magazine, “there is only one possible governing strategy: a quiet, patient, and persistent bipartisanship."

Remember that stuff?  Bush is really a moderate like his dad.  He knows how didivided the country is.  Surely he’ll reach out to moderates and liberals with an inclusive government and a time of reconciliation.  How many kicks in the teeth from this “uniter” did it take before reality set in?  How set back was the country by the media’s refusal to recognize that we were being ruled by a radical who paid no attention to their homespun homilies about “healing?”

Not enough, apparently.  Here comes Newsweek’s Michael Hirsh with that hardy perennial, “Bush is going to be a moderate this time, really.”  Hard to believe, I know.  But there it is:

First, there is every possibility that Bush’s second term might prove to be different from his first, especially in foreign policy…Bush must have learned a thing or two in the past four years…Fairly soon into his second term, the newly minted foreign-affairs wonk will surely realize…And he will realize, sooner or later…He must realize…

He even closes with this kicker, for which he and his editors should be sent to cliché jail.  “And will Bush see the light?  It’s going to be an interesting four years.”  Almost as bad, he hangs much of this “analysis” on dime-store psychoanalytics a la Oedipus by way of Maureen Dowd.  What is it going to take for the media to recognize that elected or not, the president of the United States is not merely a “conservative” as he calls himself but an ideological zealot who believes himself to have been anointed by the almighty who cares not a whit for the good opinion of the wimpy, whiney, terrorist-coddling, gay-marriage loving, infidel editors of a Commie rag like Newsweek?  The whole sorry thing is .

Paul and I have a new “Think Again” column .  It’s about the early media election post mortems and notes, not surprisingly, that “the first cut is not the deepest.” 

Amazingly, to me anyway, John Dean read my doctoral dissertation and uses it to offer a little criticism of the final book version of in this otherwise stellar review in .  I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how much smarter and more handsome I’ve always considered Mr. Dean to be than that Gary Hart fellow.  (He’s also a better historian.) 

The Monthly also has on the phenomenon of books on Bush.

Also check out my friend MJ’s column on the election and Middle East peace process .  He notes that the 80% Jewish vote for John Kerry demonstrates yet again that the Jews remain as reliably Democratic as African-Americans and that Israel was not a factor in the election.  That means that Bush can and should persue Israeli-Palestinian peace in his second term and not worry about the politics.  It won't win the Republicans the Jewish vote but it will reduce anti-American animus in the Muslim world and make our soldiers a little safer in Iraq.

"Where is my talk on presidential lying that I gave at the Aspen Institute in Washington which featured a surprise guest appearance by the venerable Ben Bradlee, and a lovely introduction by Aspen President Walter Isaacson, and was taped by C-Span’s Book TV,” you ask?  Funny, I’ve been asking myself the same question.  It was shown once and only once at four in the morning on a Sunday night three or so weeks ago.  Since then, nada?  What’s up with that?  Were they afraid, like CBS, that I might swing the election?  I’ve been a good boy, but now I think perhaps the folks at Book TV have forgotten all about me and my fine, eleven-years-in-the-making book and could use a friendly reminder.  If you agree, feel free to let them know, politely and respectfully, at

Alter-review:  The Grateful Dead, “Beyond Description, 1973-1989” and the “Grateful Dead Movie”

The second half of the complete collected Dead box is out.  It’s called “Beyond Description 1973-1989” and that’s a pretty good title.  Some of it’s great, some of it totally sucks. The studio begins strong with Wake of the Flood, builds to a climax with perhaps their best studio album ever, “From the Mars Hotel,” remains interesting and innovative with “Blues for Allah,” parts of “Terrapin Station” and a little bit of “Shakedown Street.”  Of the final three, the excellent acoustic “Reckoning” has been expanded by sixteen cuts and so has “Dead Set,” its electric companion, with nine additional cuts.  Many are the kind of thing to make Deadheads go nuts, like a studio “Ako-Ako” and “Catfish John.”  It’s a nice box and it matches the previous one.  For twelve cds, it ain’t cheap but it ain’t so bad either.  Dennis McNally does his usual stand-up job on the liner notes.  The song selection is .  Also just out, is a new edition Grateful Dead Movie, from Monteery Movie Company, on two DVDs, with five hours of footage and a whole mess of new stuff—95 minutes of new stuff with a real nice Sugaree followed by Scarlet/China Cat/Ryder/cleaned up and presented in Dolby digital, and a lot more bells and whistles.  For me it was one of the essential documents of that era, capturing my favorite incarnation of the band, and it still works for me.  The kid really likes the animated sequence at the beginning too.

Talk about a man who earned a break:

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc:
OK, so here's what I did.  I raked the leaves in my front yard.  (OK, I cheated.  I mowed them all first.)  Went to the office and did a little work -- listening online, as always, to the great sounds of WDIA in Memphis.  Then, the Brandeis sophomore and I went to see the Abbey's touring centennial production of "The Playboy of the Western World," which was a touch too reverential for me, but which featured a magnificent performance by a woman named Olwen Fouere as the Widow Quinn.  She was tough and she was riveting and I needed some transcendence in my life, and she delivered.

I'm going to sign off for a while, probably until they swear C-Plus Augustus in again in January.  I have some knots in the rope that I have to untangle, and I have to find a way out from under this election and what it says about my fellow citizens.  I'm going to breathe a while, enjoy the holidays, and try to figure out why it is that I do what I do.  However, as a parting gift, I leave the Senate Democrats with their master plan for the next two years.  Here it is, boys and girls.  Everybody OK?  Take notes if you have to take them.  Ready?  Here it is.


I have to say thanks to the extended Alter-family, and to Himself, of course, for all the kind words.  Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all of Blogistan, I'm glad I walked into this one.  See you all in '05.


P.S. -- But, before I disappear for a while, a word about mandates.  A mandate never really exists, not even as a result of an actual landslide.  It is not something you win; just ask Tom DeLay and the Impeachers, if you don't believe me.  It's something you claim.  It is something you are granted, usually by people who ought to know better.  It's a  vast and enormous bluff.  Quite simply, if the Democratic senators follow Recommended Plan A above, then C-Plus doesn't have a mandate, no matter how hard Little Russ stamps his feet when Jack Welch whistles.  And anybody who thinks 51 percent is license to end the progressive income tax, chloroform Social Security, create a permanently troglodytic federal judiciary, invade Teheran, and generally take the national polity back to the 1890's is betting heavy behind a low pair.  Don't fold.  Don't call.  Raise.

Name: Marissa Partridge
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
I work in an office with all conservative Christian women.  These women are unable to compromise in any way on any issue.  The day after Bush was announced the winner, they gloated how they were finally going to overturn Roe vs Wade, and how relieved they were that those "fags" would not be able to solidify their relationships in legal terms, whether it was called "marriage" or "civil unions."  One of them actually made the statement that, "If you don't try to impose your faith in Jesus on those that don't believe, than you are not faithful."  This is the mindset that these people operate with.  It doesn't matter to them that America was founded on the principle of a seperation between church and state.  They are working vigorously to defeat this concept.  This war is just getting started, and moderate and liberal people had better get motivated to fight, or we will lose our country to people that think the world is 6000 years old and was made in 7 days, women came from Adam's rib, and there is no need to live in a secular country when you can live in a Christian theocracy.

I hope I'm scaring some moderates that may have voted for President Bush!  We must focus on the war, the economy, health care, social security, education and the ill advised tax cuts for the rich.  I think that this country is in for a rude awakening for a number of people.  Bush's agenda is likely to ignore these problems, just as he has for the last 4 years, and focus on "values."  I would like to stay and fight the culture war, but I'm a woman, and I'm afraid that if these people are allowed to push their agenda on the rest of us, women will probably lose most of their rights.  Minorities should be worried as well.  As Margaret Atwood said, the best way to subjugate women is with the compliance of other women.  Conservative Christian women are quite happy to be viewed as second class citizens, as my co-workers have clearly demonstrated to me.  I pray that we can stem the tide of the rising extreme religiosity and nationalism before it is too late.  However, I'm willing to accept the fact that moderate and liberal people may have to flood Canada.

Name: Stupid
Eric, it's Stupid to be condescending: you and Pierce got it right.  It wasn't us, it was them.  Kerry did not lose because he was a flawed candidate -- sure, one can nit-pick, but he ran a good race.  He carried the "centrists"/independents/undecideds and held onto the base.  The key was the GOP turning out their base and there was little any Democrat could have done to stop it.  I hope the Dems don't lurch either to the left or the right in response to the outcome or engage in a lot of "soul searching."  Still, it's hard to put on a happy face.  In the next several years the recovering economy will hide just how messed up things are.  When the GOP claims "our plan is working," I don't know how the Democrats will respond in a convincing way.  Let alone what they'll do about the Supreme Court.  

I realize this isn't easy, but in the future the left needs to be able to better talk to the GOP base.  Religious conservatives are going to be more powerful than they ever were in Jerry Falwell's heyday and most of the left can't speak their language.  There aren't --any-- sympathetic white southern ministers that can be recruited as spokespeople?  This election I e-mailed with a number of Evangelical Bush supporters and they all begrudgingly agreed that Dubya's record is a mess, but they firmly believed that liberals don't care or respect them and can't be trusted with their welfare (not to mention wanted some perceived cultural payback for spite.  Soothing these people might not win them, but it might dampen their sense of urgency.  For what it's worth, I found that if  I spoke to them on their own terms they 1) were shocked and 2) soften considerably.  Jesus practically endorses the Democratic platform in Matthew 25 as the only way to avoid Hell, but you never hear much of that.  And most religious conservatives understand that selective codification of Scripture (think NFL Sunday) is another form of man putting himself before God.  Not everybody's cup of tea, but a counteroffensive beats a surrender. 

On election day I was at one of the busiest polling places in Milwaukee - the only permanent Dem poll watcher.  The GOP had 5.  I had a floater stop by from time-to-time, the GOP had 3.  The former group, most recruited from church groups, were wonderful -- not obstructionist at all.  The latter, hardcore party types (including an official from the county board of elections) were obnoxious and tried to intimidate the 70-something woman who was the chief election judge into pushing provisional ballots as a way of moving the lines faster.  I'll never take the need for volunteering on election day for granted again. 

Name: Donald Johnson
Hometown: Yonkers, NY

I'm a Christian.  Until the Bush era I'd have called myself an evangelical, but given what that term has come to mean, I don't want to be associated with it anymore.  There is something deeply wrong with the American version of evangelical Christianity.

Anyway, I was appalled by Drew Doll's letter.  In the first place, no Democratic politician that I know of goes around insulting Christians for their faith.  They'd be crazy to do so, for one thing, and for another, I don't think most of them would want to.  Kerry was very respectful to that woman who asked him about his stance on, I believe, abortion, and it seemed heartfelt to me.  He apparently attends church regularly, from what I've read.  There are militant secularists that you encounter in blog comment sections and they can be as offensive and bigoted in their way as any fundamentalist, but it is childish and irresponsible for someone to not vote for the better candidate because of hurt feelings.  If John Kerry and John Edwards had openly mocked Christianity, that'd be one thing.  In fact, that'd be a good reason not to vote for a candidate, since no responsible leader would do such a thing.  But it didn't happen.

Drew Doll's attitude and actions are one reason why I no longer wish to call myself an evangelical.  Christian, yes, but I don't think Jesus ever taught His followers to make decisions about important issues based on hurt feelings.

Name: Tammy Geenen
I am a Christian who voted for Kerry because he promised to implement Jesus's teachings of helping the poor, the sick, the elderly, the children, and the outcast in this country.  While Bush has done and promised to continue to do the opposite.

Now that the evangelicals, who call Jesus their God, have kept Kerry from ministering to the needy in this country, they had better do it instead.  They had better take personal responsibility for bringing Americans out of poverty, providing medicine to those who have no access to it, improving childcare and education for our children, and offering friendship to the disenfranchised.  If they don't do that over the next four years, and things continue to get worse for these people, then they can be called fundamentalists, but not Christians.

There is nothing Jesus despised more than hyprocrites using their religion for economic and political gain.  In fact, they are the ones responsible for His cruxifiction.

We must hold these Christians accountable for erasing the separation of church and state in this country, upon which it was founded.  They had better prove that their version of religion works before they attempt to bring it to the table again.

Name: Barry Ritholtz
Hey Doc,
I don't know about you, but I hate those Red/Blue maps.  I think it provides a horrible misrepresentation of the United States.  So after the election, I went a little .

It turns out that you can represent the Election results in ways that are far more informative than what we see.  For example, if we view the U.S. vote based on , we see that much of the Western Red States are essentially empty spaces.

Instead, try looking at the .  Suddenly, the schism in the country looks less lopsided. (It's my favorite.)

This phenomena has led to suggestions of revising the Electoral College.  Why?  Because it .  (You can also compare the to see what counties shifted red or blue.)

WaPo asks the question:  "Where did their votes come from?"  It's looking a vote concentration.

Some people got bored with the quant stuff and instead have suggested that New America be "" into two:  New America (now with more Canada!) and New Texas.  Others have been somewhat less charitable, dividing the nation instead into the (guaranteed to offend someone).

Although these last two perspectives are, depending on your sense of humor, somewhat amusing, I prefer my bittersweet morning coffee a little more upbeat.  So the sentimental favorite is the perspective, "."  It reveals that, for the most part, 2/3rds of the States aren't truly Red or Blue, but pretty evenly divided.

November 4, |

We’ve got mail

We got well over a thousand e-mails in a matter of hours yesterday and while I was moping around in my bathrobe looking at Left Bank real estate brochures, Paul peeked at every one of them.  Here’s his report with a few exceptional examples:

Yesterday was a tough day.  Forced to accept that a narrow margin of those Americans who bothered to vote had decided to send the president back to the White House, many people looked for a place to vent their feelings.  Between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m., well over 1,000 of those people e-mailed Altercation in response to the elections and November 3rd's column.  They came from everywhere, both geographically and ideologically, and while they were but a small sampling of the population at large, I nevertheless detected several themes early on which held true throughout the day, leading me to believe that this sample of roughly 1,000 Americans offers a glimpse into the prevailing attitudes of the country at large.  Here's my very un-scientific breakdown:

By far the largest group, say between 600 and 700 people, thanked Eric and Pierce and Siva, among other regular contributors, for holding the line and fighting the good fight over the past four years.  I broke theses e-mails down into three groups:

The vast majority were what I'll call the street fighters.  They had heart.  While obviously disappointed and shocked, they also made it clear that they weren't about to quit.  A surprising number of them said that this was the first election they had personally hit the streets to get out the vote, and now that they had a taste of the fight, they'd be back.  These were e-mails from people who selflessly gave their time and effort to do the dirty work of democracy, and I truly felt lucky to be able to read their stories.  The e-mails came from all over the country, from men and women and from young and old, and they helped convince me that while we on the left have been bruised, the cause is alive and well, and we're not going to lay down and die any time soon.

The next and much smaller group was the late-risers.  They appeared slower to rally, and perhaps took Eric's “them” and “us” comment and Pierce's contention that he doesn't "know this country's mind any more" too much to heart.  In fact, almost all of them quoted those two lines.  They were uniformly dispirited and almost across the board used the words "heartbroken," "cried," "lost" and "confused."  E-mails like this were by far the most depressing to read, and since they were obviously written on raw nerves, the sting was palpably personal and deep. 

The last major group on the left, and by far the smallest, didn't feel sorry for themselves or the country. They were what we can call the bomb throwers.  These people are simply pissed off, and you can bet the inboxes of bloggers and the letter pages of local papers are going to hear it.

Now for the other side.  There were plenty of conservative voices that chimed in, probably in the range of 300 to 400, and I again broke them down into three major categories.  Roughly half of these were the CAPS LOCK crew, who apparently feel that writing insults in all capital letters carries with it some sort of moral weight.  Key opening words were "loser," "whining," "shut up" "commie," "elitist" and "suck." 

Next were the bible thumpers / value voters who were overjoyed that biblical values were finally coming back into vogue, yet for such God-fearing people, a number of these devolved into simple obscenity toward the end, but the ones who held their ground did so in a manner that accords a level of respect.

Finally, we have the simply indignant. "You just don't get it!" or "You liberals still don't get it!" or "I can't believe how liberal you are!" were, literally, the first lines of at least 90 e-mails.  What liberals don't get, apparently, is very simple.  Americans love their Jesus and hate liberal values.  A subset of this opening line skewed in two directions: One simply devolved into blind fury that someone could not exactly share the writer's personal values and socioeconomic situation while the other was a head shaking wonderment over, well, how liberals just don't get the fact that VALUES are more important to Americans than war, job losses and taxes.  As an aside, I can say that while the word "values" was bandied about quite a bit, examples of these "values" were almost entirely missing.

There you have it. I have looked into the e-mail outboxes of America, and found that it is us.  There were exceptions to these rules, of course, (Canada deserves honorable mention, as do high school students and college students who seem to be chomping at the bit for '06 and '08), but by and large, the e-mails tended to fall into these categories.  What does this say about America?  I don't know, but those who wrote have overwhelmingly been energized by this election, and it appears that the left is far from broken.

Quote of the Day:  Steven Colbert-  “We here in New York are too close to the terrorism and the homosexuals.  Only people from the red states have enough distance to see things in their perspective.  So on behalf of the blue states, we would like to thank the red states for saving us from ourselves."


Correspondents Corner:

Name: Eric Rauchway
Hometown: Davis, CA
Dear Eric,
A sick child, home from school, kept me away from Altercation yesterday, or else I would have written.  But what would I have said to Pierce, and you, and your readers?  As I read down the Altercation page this morning, my eyes stopped for a long time on Pierce's plaint, "This is a country I do not recognize any more.... I don't know this country's mind any more, let alone its heart." 

But Eric, Pierce:  I recognize this country, and these are my people.  I could say that it is because I am younger than either of you, or that I spend my days with people younger than me, and that we did not witness the Civil Rights Movement and none of us have ever seen Americans mobilize for a social issue that wasn't socially conservative.  I could say that it is because I spent my childhood in Ohio and Florida, and that these divided communities where charm usually covers cultural anger and anxiety shaped me and mine.

But I don't think it's so, I don't think it's anything to do with my age or place.  I think to a
dispassionate observer this country is clearly, recognizably, America.  This country chose Harding and Coolidge.  This country listened to mainstream media sneer at the Scopes trial and then picked Hoover over Al Smith because, as the inimitable said, Smith stood for "card playing, cocktail drinking, poodle dogs, divorces, novels, stuffy rooms, dancing, evolution, Clarence Darrow, overeating, nude art, prize fighting, actors, greyhound racing, and modernism." 

You remember what that was called:  it was called

It took the Great Depression to steer the country away from normalcy, and now the long New Deal later we have found our way back to what is, after all, normal around here. 

How long it will stay normal, and how normal it will get, knows God (as Henry Luce would like to have it).

Best to all.

Name: Adi Ranganath
Hometown: Singapore

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho' We are not now that strength which in the old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
-Tennyson "Ulysses"

David S. Bernstein
Boston, Massachusetts

"but no more like my father/Than I to Hercules" --Hamlet, Act I, Scene 2
Please forgive me for seeking wisdom through great literature -- presumably a punishable offense by the end of the second term -- but was this Presidential race not Hercules versus Hamlet?

I am presuming here that Shakespeare chose Hercules as Hamlet's antithesis not because of physical strength, but for Hercules' true great tragic quality: his rashness in rushing to action. Hercules, unlike Hamlet, doesn't think things through, doesn't contemplate; he acts on every impulse with a singleness of purpose.

Unfortunately, since he's basically a dumbass, Hercules spends most of his energy on disastrously ill-advised acts of revenge.  (Be fair though -- he was acting on faulty intelligence when he killed his wife and kids.)

Is Bush not our modern Hercules, a man of bold, unthinking, brute, dumbass action?  Is Kerry not our Hamlet, forever contemplating, maneuvering, considering, parsing?  I think Hercules trounces Hamlet straight-up in an election, don't you?

Name: Drew Doll
Hometown: Apex, NC

I read your articles with a lot of interest, and appreciate the insight you give me.  So let me try to give you some. 

On many social issues I agreed with Kerry more than Bush.  Certainly on the war in Iraq I agree with Kerry that it is a train wreck and we need a entirely new direction.

So why did I vote for Bush?  I am a born-again Christian, my faith is critically important to me.  As long as the Democratic party, and/or those people who purport to speak for it, belittle my beliefs, dismissing them out of hand, and address me publicly as intellectually challenged for holding to the faith of my fathers, you will never get my vote.  How can I trust your party to lead me when you so obviously (and vociferously) denigrate those values I hold most dear?

You may not agree with us.  That's OK, this is America, pluralism is a wonderfully legacy we all share.  But if you do not respect us you will find it very hard to ever have the opportunity to lead us.

Name: Dave F.
Hometown: A small town south of Chicago, IL

Dr. Alterman,
Love your column - I read it almost every day.  Okay, forget the immediate past.  Time to look to the future.

I am not a Democrat or a Republican (though I admittedly lean to the left).  I am a white male Christian who reads his Bible regularly.  I am slightly below the middle of the middle class (whatever that really is these days).  I am married with two kids.  I own a house, and a cat.  And I did not vote for George W. Bush.

Here's what people that actually read a newspaper, look at current events beyond two-word slogans and choose to weigh all evidence before making rash decisions should consider for their party in the coming years:

God/Religion:  Start talking about it.  You can't ignore its impact, and there are those of us in the Christian faith who don't believe everything that has been spoon fed by power hungry politicians and pastors.  Let us know you believe in God, and the right of ALL Americans to worship as they see fit, and that God doesn't run the White House or Congress, but men and women do.  We sin, we are fallible, we ask for God's forgiveness.  There are also Americans that don't believe in God - the Christians of America need to get out of their SUV before parking it in the 4 car garage and get off your asses and talk to them about God, but the government shouldn't do that for you.  And for God's sake, tell atheists they have the CHOICE to not say "Under God" in the pledge and to f***in' get over it already.  ACLU are you listening?  YOU'RE NOT HELPING!

Abortion:  Okay, life begins at conception to evangelical Christians, but again, if you are not an evangelical Christian who sees it that way, then (you evangelicals) aren't supposed to force it down others' throats.  Christianity is not about judging others' sin that are not Christians - again if you want to have a conversation with those about abortion, start by talking to them about Jesus Christ's love first.  The issue of abortion should come up later - God will sort out the rest, not you.

Stem cell research:  Same as above, but one caveat: life is not destroyed, it is maintained BY the stem cells, and utilized to HEAL others.  Tell people to hand in the BC04 loyalty cards so we know which ones NOT to give any stem-cell related treatment to in the future if they still don't like it.

Guns:  We are all for defending yourself.  While you're at it defending your 2nd Amendment rights (NRA folks, this means you), why don't you move into the "bad" part of town in any city with over 30,000 residents and THEN tell us it's a good thing that criminals have access to semi-automatic and automatic weapons (and no you can't bring yours with you).  We aren't NO guns, we are for intelligent gun ownership.  If it takes a license to get married and drive a car (both of which can cause homicidal thoughts), then owning a gun, which is designed with the intent to kill, should require the same.  And a sensible limit to what can be owned.

Environment:  We are not anti-business, we are anti-using-everything-on-God's-green-earth-no-matter-what-as-long-as-I-can-make-a-buck-now.  We are thinking short-term AND long term.  You should too.

Gay marriage:  We don't want gay marriage either.  But Christ loved all people and hung out with "sinners" in his day.  Stop thinking that just because you support their legal rights to a civil union that they will start hitting on you.  They want to be loved and cared for too; by THEIR loved ones.  If you're not going to visit them in a hospital, then let their loved ones be able to do it.

And finally - those on the left need to figure out how to connect to simple-minded people.  I'm not saying that conservatives or Republicans are stupid, rather, I'm suggesting they more easily identify with things that are simple to remember.  So there's the new challenge "Lefties of America" - make it happen ('cause you know the Right will screw things up in the next four years, so start getting ready now).

I hope that makes sense. 

Thank you, and God bless.

Name: Nicholas Holshouser
Hometown: Brevard, NC

To all of Altercation -
Keep up the rants and raves, your voices are more important and vital to "us" than ever before.  Today is nothing more than the end of the beginning in my book, if I think elsewise then it will be the beginning of the end.  So we move from our beginning, when we found voice in our discontent, when we found vision in our reality, and when we found purpose in our mission.  And now we are in the middle, the conservatives called it their wilderness, like they could ever know what that is.

It takes a bit of practice to argue sense against nonsense, a bit of technique to persuade believers with reality.  We just need more practice.  If two years isn't enough then we'll take four.  Then our middle will give way to our end and we will take this country back.  I was born here and I'm not leaving, I know the same goes for you.

Name: Lisa
Hometown: Houston, TX
Thanks for all you’ve done over the last years to enable civil discourse between all people in this forum.  I’ve been trying all day to think about how best to approach organizing against this perilous tide of religious fervor that has apparently swept over 51% of this country.  I truly do think that these 51% predominantly believe The Rapture is near, that Bush talks to God, that God delivered this election to Bush, and that gay marriage is more morally indefensible than invading a country that never attacked us.  How do you combat a group that collectively sees itself and its dubious leader as infallible or as having some kind of a Divine mandate?  How can Bush claim to want to reach out to the other half of this country to unite us when in the eyes of his religion the rest of us are all Hell bound sinners because we haven't accepted Jesus as our personal lord and savior?  How does he plan to accomplish uniting us when intelligence prevents us from going along with his Divinely inspired vision for this place?  Fundamentalist evangelicals like Bush are immovable from their positions and cannot compromise, so how are they going to accommodate the rest of us?  Are they going to try to convert all of us? 


I feel so bad writing in this tone about a group of people, singling them out for their religious views.  It almost makes me feel like a bigot, except I’m not saying that these people are wrong to hold their views.  They are just wrong to want to impose their views on the rest of us without any consideration of what we think or believe and with no regard for the separation of church and state.  Funny, they'd say that Roe v. Wade or that teaching evolutionary theory only in schools is imposing our beliefs on them.  How difficult is it for them to see that we're not mandating that they have abortions, that they don't have to have them if they don't want to, and that we're not preventing them from teaching creationist views at their own places of worship outside of the secular school system?  The compromise has worked just fine for a long time, but now they are going to try to change all of this because their religion is right?!  I just don’t see how we will find any common ground if one side of the equation won’t compromise.  What happened to religious freedom in this country?  When will we ever arrive back to a place where Reason reigns supreme?  Are we talking decades here?

Name: Robin Potter
Hometown: Edgewater, Maryland
I am working via e-mail with a group of soldiers in Iraq to put together an anthology of their blog-writing - you might know some of them by their own "alters": ginmar, hEkLe, joepublic, heretic, the statistics.  I cannot tell you how painful it was this afternoon to have to e-mail them the news that Kerry had conceded - when we know full well that the Bush cabal will use this ill-won victory as an opportunity to eviscerate much of what these kids count on about this country.  I appreciate Kerry's nobility - I believe it is genuine - but I wonder how it would have felt to him - 30 years ago - to have had today's news events communicated to him when he was in their boots.  Check out ginmar's work in Joe Galloway's Oct.18 column "Vote" if you want to get a sense of the wild talent being used as cannon fodder by "Mr. Family Values" - and if you're interested in just how much they were counting on us.

Best -- I pass your columns along to them.

Robin Potter

Name: Doug R.
Hometown: New York, NY

Dear Eric:
With all due respect, I take exception to your formulation, "They (meaning the people who voted for Bush) don't care that..." this or that dreadful consequence of Bushism exists, and therefore voted for him anyway.

I think they just don't truly, deeply, know or believe any of those things.  Part of that is a fault of the media, who knowingly pander to peoples' desire, in uncertain times, for a John Wayne hero to lead them--and consciously leave out inconvenient facts that would force people to a deeper level of understanding.  Part of it is the extreme volume of what I'd call "Jesus music" in red-staters' heads today, through which no rational discourse can cut.  Maybe part of it is the electorate's innate laziness in preferring cheap, glib, feel-good theatrics rather than seriously attempting to understand elementary public policy.

I think it's time to take a leaf out of movement conservatism's 20-year playbook: the nitty-grittiness of building an interlinked, enduring  infrastructure out of what we have built during the campaign, and evolving an over-arching "vision thing," a liberal/progressive way of viewing the world that is reducible to the same kind of easily understood shorthand  as "get government off our backs."

I think we need a simple, clear, memorable, and affecting way to articulate our core set of progressive values that CAN be heard over the "Jesus music."  To me, Kerry's debate performances, while superb, articulated progressivism in the specific contexts of, say, health care, or foreign policy, but there was another opportunity there too: to offer a (again, that word) "vision" that maybe we all just don't know how to do yet.

If it sounds like I'm saying, we need a Hallmark Card that wraps it all up in a beautiful, stirring, memorable concept, well, hm. Maybe I am.

November 3, |

(Still) A Land of Hopes and Dreams

Let’s face it.  It’s not Kerry’s fault.  It’s not Nader’s fault (this time).  It’s not the media’s fault (though they do bear a heavy responsibility for much of what ails our political system). It’s not “our” fault either. The problem is just this:  Slightly more than half of the citizens of this country simply do not care about what those of us in the “reality-based community” say or believe about anything.

They don’t care that Iraq is turning into murderous quicksand and a killing field for our children.  They don’t care that the Bush presidency has made us less safe by creating more terrorists, inspiring more anti-American hatred and refusing to engage in the hard work that would be necessary to make a meaningful dent in our myriad vulnerabilities at home.  They don’t care that he has mortgaged our children’s future to give trillions to the wealthiest among us.  They don’t care that the economy continues to hemorrhage well-paying jobs and replace them with Wal-Mart; that the number without health insurance is over forty million and rising.  They don’t care that Medicare premiums are rising to fund the coffers of pharmaceutical companies.  They don’t care that the air they breathe and the water they drink is being slowly poisoned and though they call themselves conservatives, they even don’t care that the size of the government and its share of our national income has increased by roughly a quarter in just four years.  This is not a world of rational debate and issue preference.

It’s one of “them” and “us.”  He’s one of “them” and not one of “us” and that’s all they care about.  True it’s an illusion.  After all, Bush is a millionaire’s son who went to Yale and Harvard and sat out Vietnam, not even bothering to show up for his cushy National Guard duty, and succeeded only in trading on his father’s name and connections in adult life.  But somehow, they feel he understands them.  He speaks their language.  Our guys don’t.  And unless they learn it, we will continue to condemn this country and those parts of the world it affects to a regime of malign neglect at best—malignant and malicious assault at worse. 

Given the media’s talent for pandering to their lowest common denominator, the things that have driven us crazy about their past pathetic performance are bound to get a lot worse.  Most of us—readers and writers of this web log and peoplelikeus-- derive an awful lot of benefit from being Americans.  We owe it to our better selves, and though it sounds horribly clichéd, to our children-- not to walk away from this battle.  I will admit, however, it’s pretty damn hard to see through this fog just where to turn before we march.

A final word to readers while we all try to take in the news.  I deeply appreciated all the warmth and gratitude sent in yesterday, and I send it back.  Everybody should understand, however, that I get paid to do this.  Everybody else who contributes of their time and expertise does it because they just happen to care so damn much they can’t help themselves.  No one, as all my readers know, is more important to the flavor and voice of this site than the great Charles Pierce.  I know he’s done much to keep my spirits up this past year and illuminate the corners of the media that would go unseen and unreported save for his proverbial eagle eye and rapier wit.  As you can see below, Charles is particularly moving and brilliant today and I just want to say how lucky I feel that he chose Altercation as his home away from home.  Go Sox.

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc --
As Mo Udall once put it, the people have spoken, goddamn them.

They showed up.  The Republican base, that is.  The people who believe that their marriages are threatened by those of gay people, the people who believe there were WMD in Iraq and that Saddam waved a hankie at Mohammed Atta, the people who believe His eye is on every embryo.  They all showed up, and there are more of them than there are of us.  This was a faith-based electorate and, for whatever reason, their belief was stronger than our reality.  This is a country I do not recognize any more.

The kids didn't vote.  African-American turnout seems to have stayed pretty much the same as it was in 2000, despite all the talk.  We lost seats in the Senate and in the House.  (Daschle is a pretty momentous beat, despite the fact that he's not a wartime consigliore and never was.)  They elected a polite David Duke in Louisiana, and someone who doesn't believe gay people should teach school in South Carolina, and a creep in Oklahoma, and somebody who's fairly obviously drifting into the fog in Kentucky.  The pretty clearly indictable DeLay tactics in Texas worked like a charm. These are all victories won on grounds on which we cannot compete.  When gay marriage trumps dead soldiers in Iraq, how do you run a race without dissolving into fantasy?

I don't know this country's mind any more, let alone its heart.

I started getting worried when my friend inside the Kerry bunker stopped calling, and then the nets were so damned slow about calling anything.  (And NBC was precipitate in calling Ohio, no matter how it turns out, so little Russ and Jack Welch can congratulate each other this summer on Nantucket.)  They had to know about New Hampshire sooner than they called it, and Minnesota and Michigan, neither of which was very close.

So, truly, no concession, no matter how much Russert wants one.  Lawyer it up in Ohio to the very last second.  Make them sweat.  Make them bleed.  But know that you ran this time for the president of a very different United States.

Later, that same day...
Hey Doc --
OK, now I'm starting to feel the gorge rise.  Let us content ourselves with this.  The country voted for these guys with its eyes open.  Let us hear no complaining about "bait and switch," and a "uniter, not a divider," and on and on and on.  It even returned a national legislature consonant with the incumbent's agenda. There will be permanent tax cuts that will institutionalize a national debt that will force some sort of evisceration of Social Security and Medicare. There will be continued military adventurism in the Middle East. There will be Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Chief Justice Antonin Scalia. There will be more lying and more vengeance.

So let there be no whining when your husband's National Guard obligation leaves him under fire for six extra months, or when Granny and Gramps are eating cat food, or when it become increasingly impossible to meet the economic needs of the middle-class family.

No complaining. None of it.

You wanted this guy. Now you have him, unleashed.

November 2, |

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc --
Sam, you made the nights too long.
I'm willing to admit that it's possible Florida's gone. I don't like those I-5 corridor numbers at all. But the nets have to know something about NH, say, or Ohio. I think there's a lot of timidity as regards making tough calls so as to get that phone call from the White House. It beggars the imagination that, with 60 percent turnout for the first time since 1960, none of the battlegrounds are call-able at 10 p.m. I do take some heart in this photo op at the White House. Terry Moran called the move "combative." Maybe, but it also smacks to me a little desperate. And the networks ought to be ashamed of themselves for getting used that way.
I believe in a Promised Land.
Beware the risen people.

November 2, |

Come on Up for the Rising

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc --
It's only 7:15 and I want the EPA to declare Hardball a Superfund site.  Yellow tape all around it.  Pat Buchanan?  Lisa Myers?  John Fund, on "voter fraud," because some pamphlet mill has put out his latest tract, most of which Media Matters left in sticks and splinters two days ago?  Give these people a blanket and bowl of soup and send them away.  I'm staying with Dan, dude.

With 12 percent in, my man Jon Jennings is ahead by 13 points in the Indiana 8th against a real mouthbreather named Hostetter. This Virginia stuff is interesting.  I get the feeling there's some behind the scenes straining to call this thing.  News from the WH says that C-Plus is "calm."  Wasn't he supposed to be in Crawford?

Beware the risen people.

Name: Kathrine 
Hometown: Austin, Texas

My 70-year old mother has been working the phone banks for several weeks, calling voters in New Mexico, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.  I can't begin to tell you how proud of her I am.  We live in Texas so there wasn't much we could do for Kerry here other than give money to the campaign, which we gladly did.  My mother has shown herself to be a shining example for democracy and has taught me some great lessons in this particular campaign.  Mother, I love you.

Name: C.C.
Hometown: Huntington Beach, CA

I am writing to say how proud I am of all the young voters across America.  As I left for work this morning I saw maybe 100 people in line waiting for the polling place to open.  Many were of college age.  My 19-year-old son was one of those standing in line.

His last words to me this morning before walking out the door were, "Remember, you have no right to bitch or complain about how things are run if you don't vote."

I never felt prouder than that moment.

I only hope that the most of the registered voters across America feel the same way and get out and vote.

Name: Ralph Sommerer
Hometown: Cambridge, England

Mr Alterman, it must have been 4 years ago when I read your blog for the first time.  It's become an almost daily exercise to check on this blog to see what the sane part of the U.S. is up to.  Being a "forner" i.e. "Yurpean" I can't vote for your president.  Still, I'd like to send my regards to all your readers and wish them a pleasant voting experience!  And may the smarter man win. *smile*

Name: K.Desai
Hometown: Springfield, IL

I voted for the 1st time today.  And, I have seen a few elections go by since I turned 18.  In 2000, I saw how the election was stolen by the tactics of the GOP.  I read the Book on Bush and Altercation.  I saw how Bush has ruined many things.  Iraq, deficit, health care. 

But, I thought, I didn't even vote in 2000.  Do I have a right to complain?  I made sure this year I was registered.  I donated to various Democratic campaigns and voluntered as well.  I did all that I could.  Thanks for all your insight.  You played a big role in getting me involved.  Whether Kerry wins or loses, I feel more like an American than ever before.

Name: Deb
Hometown: Lewes, DE

Dear Eric,
I drove back to Maryland to vote this morning.  We moved to Delaware at just the wrong time in terms of registering to vote here.  There were far more people at the firehall where I've voted in Maryland for the past 25 years than I've ever seen there before.  I asked the poll judge if there really were more people turning out than usual and he said yes.  Quite amazing, really.  While I was going through the sign-in process, a young man who had just turned 18 came in and asked if there were any way he could vote; he wasn't registered.  I don't know what the outcome of that was, but the two folks who were verifying voters were taking him seriously.

I felt very heartened.  I think Kerry will win and well.  Thank you for all you have done.  Thanks to everyone who kept their eye on the goal and who did not lose heart.

Name: Shelley Dillon
Hometown: Vashon, WA

Hi Eric,
Nervous excitement, indeed!  I can barely stand it.  This is what I have been waiting for 4 long-bleak years with Bush and his crowd of crooks.

I can't even describe how delighted it makes me to see a huge turnout.  People do care!  People are not sheeple!  A lot of people got off the couch to vote!

The kids are so proud of us.  And, they voted for Kerry by a landslide in school today.

Let's show our kids that we do care!  And, make this level of involvement the norm.

Thanks to you, The Nation, Buzzflash, Truthout, A big-mooshy kisses for Michael Moore and Jon Stewart.  You all got us through.

Name: Jeanette Netwal
Hometown: Astatula, FL

Hello to all the Cohorts for Democracy;

Blessed as I am with two great women friends, each residing in a swing state, I thought I would share a snippet of an e-mail from each of them.

Betsy, in Michigan, shared this:

"I waver between a positive feeling that we are on the brink of a better four years...
... and then feeling that we are doomed because W's bunch can do whatever they want and seem to get away with it.  I know I need to keep the faith.

We don't have early voting here (unless you count the polls opening at 6:30 as early voting!) but Joseph and I will go together with the boys and do our thing.  One boy gets to go in the curtained booth with each of us.  At the primary vote in August, I let Logan pull the lever to make the selections final.  Never too young to practice.

Logan asked me if John Kerry is my friend.  Yes, son, yes he is.  He won't be coming to dinner, but he is our friend."

From Susan, after the Kerry rally in Madison, WI:

I agree - Kerry rocks (The Boss wasn't bad either).  Had beer with folks, played a little, typical Mad-town appreciation that democracy in action must, by necessity, include fun."

And my own, Florida based e-mail thought to them:

"I voted today; tonight I sleep the sleep of dreamers and champions..."

November 2, |

Ain’t that news? Ain’t that good news?

This just in:

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA
Hey Doc
What does it mean that Jon Bon Jovi and Sheryl Crow already are doing a soundcheck in Copley Square?  This is not a political bellwether that V.O. Key or someone ever had to worry about. Heard from a friend in the Kerry bunker, and his phrase is "nervous happy," which means about one exhale every 10 minutes until somebody calls Ohio.

How will they call it?  Certainly, they're going to be damned careful after last time, and with some PST Senate races hanging fire, I tend to agree.  Somebody's going to be first, though, and I may be crazy but I think it just might be Fox.  Their polling has had Kerry further ahead than anyone in the last two weeks, and calling it first would give them some formidable cred as a "serious" network.  Remember, above anything else, Murdoch wants influence, and he may be realizing that his network is less conservative these days than it is a cartoon.

Of course, I could be utterly delusional, and maybe should stay off the keyboard for a while.
Beware the risen people.

Name: Barry L. Ritholtz
Hey Doc,
I'm writing this before the votes are in.  It's something I have been thinking about for a while.
What more can I say?


Once in a generation the stars align for a political leader.  There is this perfect moment - too often based on some enormous danger of long-lasting consequences for generations to come.
Once every half century, the perfect combination of leadership and threat, of challenge and response meet. The leader - imperfect, fallible, yet ready to rise to the occasion - grabs the brass ring.

Think Winston Churchill fighting the global threat of the Nazis, Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence, JFK's dare to send a man to the Moon.

On September 11th, George W. Bush was presented one of those rare and horrible historical moments.  The terrorist attacks united the country and the world around the President: His approval rating skyrocketed to 90%.  Even the French Prime Minister announced, "Tonight, we are all Americans."

The historical opportunity was laid at the feet of the President.  With a unified country behind him and a sympathetic world willing to cooperate with him in just about every imaginable way, he could have achieved monumental greatness: He could have asked for great sacrifices from the populace, and they would have willingly made them.  At that moment, any reach across the aisle would have been fruitful on a number of vexing issues.  A bipartisan approach to any political problem at home - cutting pork out of domestic policies, reforming Social Security, renovating the tax code - could have been accomplished in a bipartisan spirit of strengthening the economy and defending the country.  He might have even done something about our education system so, in truth, no child would be left behind.

One would imagine that a man elected under what can be charitably described as "inauspicious circumstances" - with nary a mandate in sight - might have taken the 9/11 tragedy as an opportunity to move to the center, putting aside partisan political differences, and governing "all the people."  To be, in fact, truly a "uniter," not a "divider."

Alas, it was not to be.

After invading Afghanistan and damaging the Taliban, the President made a monumental blunder.  He followed the advice of the cabal around him, and made a hard-right turn. Surrounded by ideological extremists, he took advantage of a staggering national tragedy to ram through a series of radical programs: Severe tax cuts; the highly controversial Patriot Act; and last, a very questionable second war in Iraq.

If President Bush ends up losing tonight, he only has himself to blame.  Even worse than the loss, however, will be the unkind words history will write about him and his administration.  It will be one of missed opportunity and squandered potential.

The epitaph will read: "Here lies the Bush Administration.  Its great tragedy was being handed a brass ring and refusing to grab it."

Name: Paul
Hometown: Spartanburg, SC

After voting today in a long line in South Carolina, it is wonderful to read the stories of democracy in action all over the country.  As a Vietnam veteran, I am proud to have cast my vote for John Kerry, who cared enough for his country to have volunteered, and actually served.  I believe he will be our next president, and I hope that in his inagural address he will proudly call himself a liberal, and change that word back to the noble tradition of equality and service it represents...putting to rest the negative connotations that democrats run from when challenged. He's big enough for that task, and setting our country on a good course for the future.

Name: Rick
Hometown: Portland, Maine

I have to echo Diane from NJ, and say I too teared up reading Pierce's countdown dispatch. Like a lot of people I learned what being an American was supposed to be about in Civics class many years ago, and finally I feel like the reality is trying to reflect the principles I learned there.

In spite of the lies, deceptions and insanity we've been buried in by these people, we're standing up and saying enough's enough.

This is supposed to be the high holy day and core sacrament of secular society, and at long last it really seems like it.

Thank you, your fellow bloggers and correspondents, and the rest of the real liberal media that has supported and energized us through this long nightmare.

Name: Mike C.
Hometown: Chevy Chase, MD

Just called my dad just to make sure he voted, even though I wasn't worried about him or my brother doing so. I just wanted to make sure they did since they're in Maine and might make a difference.  When I called, my dad said I need not have called since the mother and father of a Danish family we're friends with called from Copenhagen this morning to make sure my family voted against Bush!  Even people across the world recognize the importance of expressing oneself in our democracy.

Name: Matt Grosso
Hometown: Richmond, VA

Eric: The SCLM doesn't think Virginia is a battleground, but with the strong fund-raising skills of Gov. Mark Warner and the huge backlash against C+, I think we may have a chance to turn the Old Dominion blue.

I was able to provide a ride to the polls to four minority voters today - and they were grateful to me, but not as much as I was to them.  It's been too long since I felt like I made difference for someone, and for granting me that feeling today, I humbly thank those four voters.

And thanks to you, Eric, and your band of Altercators.  You've given us hope.

Name: David Gingrich
Hometown: Fort Collins, Co

Dr. Alterman,
First off, I must say thanks for the breath of fresh air your blog brings to me ever day.  Much props to Pierce for mentioning the guts and impact that Eminem and Bruce may have on this election, and the unity of our cultures. 

The line for early voting here at Colorado State University stretched for as far as the eye could see last Friday.  Here in Fort Collins there is huge support for Kerry, I must have had a half dozen volunteers come to my door to make sure that me and the roomate were going to vote(all Kerry supporters).  Hopefully we will swing this Republican state to Kerry and bring back some integrity to the WH.

Name: St. Jimmy
Hometown: Bala-Cynwyd/PA

Hey Eric:
Downtown Philadelphia is going crazy today.  I've never seen anything like it.  Kerry supporters are at City Hall waving signs and almost all traffic is honking for Kerry.  Two young, misguided Bush volunteers stood at a busy intersection trying to hand out flyers.  People politely avoided them, like the freaking plague. 

My own polling place in a close suburb had such a long line at 6:55 a.m. that I am going to vote after work.

I was going to give my prediction on the whole nut but who needs an unnecessary jinx.  I will say Kerry takes PA by 300,000 votes due to high turnout in Philly and its burbs.

Name: Sandy Chapman
Hometown: Mason, MI

Eric, I need to thank you for an article you wrote 4 years ago about Bush and Harken Oil and what a crook this man really is.  Once you understand how he started out as a crook, it is much easier to sit and watch in horror the wool he has pulled over so many people's eyes.  Thanks again.

Name: Kathleen O'Neill
Hometown: Cincinnati

Dr. A, I want to add my thanks to you and your Altercators and Blogger Compadres and to everyone who's worked so hard in this campaign.  I finally decided to ignore the white corporate media and started listening to African-American announcers on the radio on my way to work.  The airwaves were filled with upbeat reports of young people and old people standing in long lines patiently waiting to vote.  I had tears in my eyes.  I've been so despairing and so defeatist for so long, and I thank all of you for keeping the faith.  No matter how this election turns out, I have full confidence in the American people to work together to create the country we want.  Bless you all.

Name: Jay Stebley
Hometown: Emeryville CA

Hello, Eric
I'm probably not the only one in this country who breaks into tears whenever I go the polling place at the local elementary school, when I see the ballot box standing out in the open, when I listen to the workers patiently helping those new to this event, when I see the miraculous melange of faces, all fixed on doing the right thing, when I walk away with my little sticker in hand saying "I voted."  Whatever the outcome of this clearly emotional contest, I will remain proud of my fellow citizens. I will fight harder for our democracy which, though it may not be the model for other parts of the world, works for us.

Name: Sharon Besso
Hometown: Lyme, NH

Hi Eric,
Greetings from the swing state of New Hampshire!  Cars already lined the length of the street outside our polling place by 7 a.m. in tiny Lyme (pop. 1,500).  From all accounts, turnout is also heavy in adjacent Hanover, home of Dartmouth College. 

Increasing numbers of placard waving supporters have appeared during the past week.  Most have been pro-Kerry, and the local GOP reps have been paying pro-Bush supporters to do likewise.  (One Dartmouth student was spotted carrying a sign proclaiming, "No one had to pay me $75 to stand here and support Kerry")!

Hundreds of pro-Kerry supporters are out in the streets today - the atmosphere is positively electric.  I've never seen anything quite like this.

My daughter had the good fortune to both turn 18 less than a week ago and to live in a state where she can register on the spot and vote, so we'll be heading to the polls in less than an hour. 

I want to join the other Altercation fans in thanking you, Pierce, Siva, and Stupid, for your intelligent, well-researched and informative column.  Pierce's call to arms today was truly inspiring.  Get out the vote, get out and vote!  Let's all send a resounding message to the current occupants of the White House and to the world that we are ready to put an end to this national nightmare!

Name: Hart Edmonds
Hometown: Omaha, NE

Democracy lives!!!  As long as we fight for it.  Today I canvassed neighborhoods in Council Bluffs, Iowa for Kerry/Edwards.  There were a few nut-buckets out there, but lots of really hopeful people also.  We've got to get our country back several said!

Thanks Eric and the whole team for lifting our spirits with good humor and spunk.  We can't give up!

Name: Bob Mangino
Hometown: Seattle

Since we're all sharing the love, I want to pile on.  Without this Website I'd have been wandering in the desert for the past four years, grinding my teeth, knowing something was seriously wrong, but not quite getting a handle on it. Thanks to Eric and all the contributors/readers.

Now the good news:  It's about as preliminary as a third inning baseball score, but when you're a Pirates fan, you take what you can get.  The numbers look surprisingly good, even in places I didn't expect them.

Let's Go Team!

Name: Kathy Hughes
Hometown: Centerville, OH

Eric, just a small thank you for your daily Altercation!  I voted for Kerry, and like Kathy Ericson, I contributed for the first time to a political campaign.  We had long lines at my polling place (in a fairly affluent Dayton suburb) and only six voting booths for the precinct.  I saw no challengers.  Go Kerry/Edwards!

Name: Scott
Hometown: Madison, WI

Walked precincts in Madison, Wisconsin today.  Met a lot of great people, including an 18-year-old kid who was nervous because he didn't know where to go or what to do, but was sure that he wanted to vote for John Kerry; an 81-year-old man who, when I asked, "Have you voted today?" said, "Hell, yes!  Voted last week by absentee."  Then he stopped and looked at me and said, "Democratic, right?"  I said, "Yes, sir.  Keep the faith."; and lastly, one woman, when she found out I was canvassing for the Kerry campaign, said, "Guess what?  I'm Republican," and then slammed the door in my face.  I just laughed and, as I walked away, she started shouting obscenities at me.  My only reply:  more laughter.  The Republicans are scared and desparate, while the Dems are happy and optimistic. 

John Kerry's going to win tonight, folks.  320 electoral votes minimum.

Name: Maureen Holland
Hometown: South Venice Beach, FL

Dear, dear Eric and all your guys:
What a day. I work with a woman who became politically "aware" this cycle.  She has become a passionate supporter of Kerry and the Democrats.  And I'm watching it happen with a lump in my old yellow-dog Dem throat.

When she was leaving the office (early) to vote, she came into my office and hugged me and whispered, "Let's hope that tomorrow we get our country back." I've been weepy ever since.  May we all get our country back and may we honor it from here on out.  And thanks Eric, and Pierce and Siva and Stupid and every one of you.

Name: James McGill
Hometown: St. Pete Beach, FL
Assuming we have a big Kerry win, our work will be cut out for us in the coming months.  Bush may use a recess appointment to replace Rehnquist with some bible-thumping mouthbreather.  Kerry will actually try to be the uniter that Bush failed spectacularly at being, which will make it all the more difficult, yet important, to investigate, indict and jail all the Bush administration officials who committed crimes against the Constitution and the people of the United States.  If the scores of officials who ran this criminal enterprise otherwise known as the Bush Administration are not brought to justice they will be back, and they will be twice as mean and exponentially more determined to work their right-wing will on the country.  This is important.  They must not be allowed to simply walk away from their crimes.  The list of charges is almost endless, from violations of the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments to lying under oath before Congress to secret slush funds in the Pentagon.  This will depend, of course, on whether the Senate goes Democratic, but if it does, we must apply constant and unrelenting pressure to pursue these people.  If we don't we will deserve the counter-strike that the right wing will surely launch during the mid-term elections in 2006.  Let Kerry be a uniter, but the rest of us must go after these people.  The damage they have done is too great.  For God's sake, they've gotten over a thousand of our people killed and many thousands more maimed for life for no other reason than the projection of their own power.  Justice must be done.

November 2, |

Name: Diane
Hometown: Glen Ridge, NJ

Dear Eric,
I read Pierce's piece this Election Day and I wanted to cry.  I felt the same way this morning when I went to vote and I felt the same way when I canvassed for Kerry in Philadelphia and Mandville, NJ.  It's an honor to work for democracy and it's an unfathomable honor to vote. 

It's also been wonderful to know there's a real community of believers in democracy out there and for that I thank you so much for writing this blog. 

I just have one thing I want to say to everyone whether Kerry wins or not:  DON'T STOP.  STAY INVOLVED.  Every American -- all those Reagan Democrats, all the misbegotten working people who consistently vote against their own interests -- needs to understand what liberal really means and what us liberals have given to this country.  It's our political tradition that's full of riches and we need to start telling that to people again -- yelling it from the mountaintops because it's true.  And to do that we need to keep on organizing.

I've said enough.  I'm hoping for the best for all of us.  Go Kerry, Go!

Name: David A. Wieland
Hometown: Buffalo Grove

While the pollsters call it a dead heat and you are calling it a landslide for Kerry, which I believe, reminds of a quote from Mayor Richard J. Daley (Richard the 1st) of Chicago.  When, in a press conference someone pointed out that the experts had the opposite view on an issue.  His response was, "The experts, what the hell do they know?"  Be nice to say it this time.

To all the people who work for Kerry/Edwards team, I leave you with another qoute, this from my old radical days in college, "You can't tell them to shove it until we all get behind and push!" See all of you in Victory Lane tomorrow.

Name: Michael Rapoport
Here's , home to various Jersey papers, with reports from NJ voters of various problems - most having to do with there being so many voters and too few machines and personnel. One voter writes, "I recognize that the poll workers are volunteers, but they were overwhelmed by (the) crush and were actually encouraging people to LEAVE before they voted!"

Name: Kris Winter
Hometown: Pasadena, CA

Seeing the lines of people waiting to vote all over the country moves me almost to tears.  For the first time I became active this election (other than voting).  It felt good to give money online to candidates I would never have heard of were it not for the Internet, as well as the well-known ones.  I wrote letters to moms in Pennsylvania because of a link in an Anne LaMott article published in Salon.  It just feels incredibly good to be able to actively participate in the democracy of my own country!

There was no line to vote at my precinct this morning but I have never been prouder of being an American than I am today.

Name: CJ
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

This is the first time I have written to an opinion column, I just wanted to say that I have worked those phone banks, I walked those streets in this city's neighborhood and I am so very proud that we are a battleground state.  I feel both elated and scared at the same time.  But I think the best thing I did was cast my vote for John Kerry/John Edwards.

November 2, |

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc --
Just heard from the Brandeis sophomore, who's been doing GOTV in NH for the last 48 hours or so, including the dreaded midnight lit-drop in Manchester. He reports huge turnout, and he also reports that he saw very few B/C boots on the ground there. Rumor had it that the Republicans had written the place off last week, but this, in combination with the admittedly useless 2 p.m. VNS exit polling, leads me to believe that the Granite has gone blue this time.
Enough to bring a smile to that landmark which is now known as The Old Man In A Pile By The Side Of The Road.

Beware the risen people.


"...his core trait is that he is monumentally selfish. Since joining the Senate, he has never attached himself to an idea or movement larger than his own career advancement."

And the above, from Our Mr. Brooks this morning in the Times ought to be enough to cost him his column.  My God, does he think Kerry's investigations into Iran-Contra and BCCI, let alone the role he played in slamming shut the Vietnam/POW can of worms, were designed to help him pile up personal political IOUs?  Jeebus, man.  Go back out and spend twenty bucks at Red Lobster or something.

Name: mkmchef1
Hometown: Chattanooga, Tennessee
Hi Eric,
I bring you the confession of a recovering Republican.  I was raised Republican by my father and grandfather, who have disowned me because of my refusal to support Dubya.  I have learned a great deal reading your blog and clicking the links therein, and I bought the Book on Bush, and recommended it to my lesser enlightened friends.  I have always enjoyed political discourse and found it fascinating but the level of vitriol and hatred this year is disconcerting.  Here's hoping the next four years will be a little more conciliatory and polite, although I think monkeys might fly out of my butt first.  Hopefully this time next week, President-elect Kerry will be stocking his cabinet, and Dubya will be packing for Crawford, and may history judge him harshly.

November 2, |

Name: Cheryl Cook
Hometown: Minneapolis

Hi Eric,
Greetings from Minneapolis.  I have some thank-yous I want to get in regardless of today's election results.  Thank-you to the real liberal media.  Air America radio, Buzzflash, the blogs and of course, Altercation.  You made it possible for us all to connect and know there are millions of us out there.  You made this great campaign possible. 

Thank-you Michael Moore.  You wrote a column when the polls were turning against Kerry that got me off my ass and into the campaign of the democratic challenger to defeat my oh-so-far-to-the-right nutcase Congressman.  You also sent me an e-mail that told me to forget about my dirty dishes and laundry and get out last weekend and find Kerry voters.  I hooked up with the MoveOn people and spent the weekend calling and knocking on doors and it was GREAT to meet all those wonderful people right in my own heavily Republican suburb. 

I want to thank John Kerry and John Edwards; you traveled to my battleground state many times with such an upbeat message it was an honor to have you here so many times.  Lastly, I want to thank the people on the ground.  There were so many of you volunteering you time, God bless you all.  I'm proud to be a Democrat today.

Name: Mary M. Thompson
Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT

God, I love you guys, Eric, Pierce, Siva and even you, Stupid.  Thanks for inspiring me, for making me laugh, for letting your optimism shine through and most of all, for letting me hope.  Here's to a Kerry victory!

Name: David Glazer
Hometown: Park Ridge, NJ

Dear Dr. A,
I had the pleasure of taking my four-year-old son to the voting booth this morning.  He is proudly telling people that he gets to vote three times today.  Once with me, once with my wife and once in school for chocolate ice cream.  I had no problems in my small NJ town.  And I am proud to say that my son punched a straight Democratic ticket.  After four years of the evil of Rove-Cheney-Bush, let's hope that Kerry wins by enough to prevent a chaos of lawsuits.

Name: ruaseeker2
Hometown: Ocala, Florida

Hey Eric,
I am a long time fan, but have never written.  I just wanted to share with you my voting experience today.  I am 40 years old, expecting my second child after nine years, and I felt hopeful and happy this morning after dropping off my nine-year-old -"Don't forget to vote, Mommy!"- this morning.  Then, it was off to vote - and be counted.  Our precinct votes on the property of a 100+ year old Methodist Church, a church I used to attend as a young person.  The Florida sun was shining from a near-cloudless sky and everyone was smiling.  There was absolutely no line or wait, but I am not discouraged.  We used these paper ballots where you color in the bubble with a dark black felt tip pen and then feed your ballots through a scanning device.  No hanging chad here!  I was pleased to see that when I fed my ballot through, I was the 102nd ballot this morning, and all before 8 a.m.!

My hopes and prayers are with the people of this great nation today as they stand in lines for hours, resist temptations of "I'll come back in an hour or two", put up with intimidation, overlook ignorance, and generally take advantage of the right to make their voice heard.  My thanks to all who pursue the truth, who are able to filter through the nonsense, and who stand up to be counted.  My admiration to people like you, REM, EMINEM, Michael Moore - way too many to name - who inspire us into that pursuit, who challenge us to think outside the box, to cut through the rhetoric.

May we all be winners today with Kerry/Edwards!!

Name: Eric Mitchell
Hometown: San Diego

I have called the 866-MYVOTE1 number to report an issue in my San Diego polling place, but I want to make sure someone else knows.

We are now using optical scanners as opposed to the touch screens, which is great, except the scanner at my polling place was not working.  It has not worked since the poll workers got there at 7 a.m. and it was 8:45 when I voted.  My ballot was put in a big box until the scanner is fixed.  Scary.  I don't have a clue if my ballot will ever be scanned.

Just thought someone should know.

Name: Mark
Hometown: Minneapolis

Hi Eric.
This is the first time I have ever written into a blog before.  I have to say that I really enjoy and look forward to your column every day. 

*end gush*

Anyways, at my polling station in Minneapolis there was a HUGE turnout this morning.  20 minutes before the scheduled polling time we had lines out the door.  Bless the was chaotic but efficiently run.  Got out in about 30 minutes.

Be encouraged that our gleeful mob appeared to be decidely pro-Kerry by the sounds and looks of things.

Hoping the rest of America sends a strong rebuke to this administration so we can hopefully start healing as a country. 

Thanks for being an encouraging voice.

Name: Kathy Ericson
Hometown: Ballston Spa

I have voted in every election since I was 18 yrs. old and have now reached the ripe old age of 51.  Never in my life have I felt so strongly about a presidential election.  While at work, checking the MSNBC news site it amazes me just how scared I actually am that this will not swing John Kerry's way.  For the first time in my adult life I gave contributions to the Democratic Party.  Not once, but twice.  As far as all the Christians voting for Bush, well this Christian is thrilled to have voted 6:30 this morning for John Kerry and John Edwards.  I only wish today that I lived in one of the battleground states and not New York.

November 2, |

Say Goodbye, It's Independence Day

I will be chiming in all day and into the night, and so, I hope, will my people.  Right now, I am genuinely too nervous to say anything.  Well, I will say this: While I like to keep my family out of this, I will recount two personal facts about the Altercation household.

  1. We had our first ever family prayer meeting this morning.

  2. I swear this is true: The kid woke up screaming five this morning because she dreamed she was on a playground and elephants were trying to stomp on her face.  Daddy made them stop.

Now come back soon or send me some good news.

Charles Pierce: THIRTY DAYS OUT
Day 0 --November 2, 2004.

Hey Doc:
I think we'll let old Lyndon have the last word.  On the evening of March 15, 1965, he gave the greatest speech any president has given in my lifetime.  He told Congress and the nation that it was time to put aside the nonsense and let black people vote.  "There is no constitutional issue here," said the last real Texan president.  "The command of the Constitution is plain...There is no issue of states rights or national rights.  There is only the message of human rights."

This is why I've come to so love this election -- because it is going to be decided by how many people decide to get off the parliamentary side of their arses and vote.  If enough of them do, then John Kerry's picking a Cabinet by this time next Tuesday.  If enough of them do, then we can have not merely a defeat, but a resounding public repudiation, of the cramped and twisted view of America held by an administration that holds in fundamental contempt a lot of ideas that are a great deal more noble than the members of the current government ever will be.

"Beware the risen people," warned the doomed Irish rebel (and distant relative, if family legend is to be believed) Padraic Pearse, "you who slander and scorn."

God, this can be a great country when it rouses itself and begins to move.

And that is what is left at the end of it.  The people standing in line, refusing to be misled, or frightened, or cheated out of their most basic voice, ferociously demanding through all the noise their most basic right to be heard.  Stay there, you lovely people.  Give water to those who are thirsty and food to those who are hungry and a shoulder to lean on to those who get weary.  Pack the polls.  Swamp the bastards, setting off a floodtide that even Republicans won't be able to steal themselves out from under.

Sing all the old songs.  Learn all the new ones.  Teach "We Shall Overcome" to the young folks.  Let them teach you "Mosh," even the dirty parts.  Keep in your hearts the advice that the boxing trainer gave Joe Louis before the second fight with Max Schmeling.  Joe was afraid of being cheated out of a victory.

Joe, the trainer told him, let your right hand be your referee.

Let your ballots -- millions of them -- be your Supreme Court justice.

All of you, standing in line, is what they all fear -- the administration, of course, but also the cheap political gabbing class that has so abdicated its serious work in favor of tinpot performance skills that would embarrass Soupy Sales.  Do any of you believe that Little Tim, or Tuckerboy, or any of them have more to say about this election that Eminem does, or Bruce Springsteen, or everyone of you?  That line is a living, breathing, voting rebuke to the professional cynicism by which truth is rendered merely a tactic, less effective than most.

Be proud of being in that line.  As Lyndon concluded on that night long ago, "Their cause must be our cause, too ... and we...shall...overcome!"

And all say amen to that.

From: Siva Vaidhyanathan
Eric and Crew:
Canvassing in Pennsylvania on Saturday was great once again.  We went to Delaware County, just outside of Philly.  Osama did not make much of a difference to the folks we talked to.  There were some Dems who planned to vote for Bush, and some Republicans who plan to vote for Kerry.  Generally positive.  High energy all around.  Friends doing similar work in Ohio and Florida report high energy for Kerry as well. Let's hope for good weather in the Midwest today.

Here's an important site to follow the electronic voting problems likely to occur over the next couple of days.  This is a run by the computer scientists who have put this issue into the mainstream.

Name: Clarke Cummings
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
Happy Election Day Dr. Alterman,
Well, things in Ohio are moving along.  At my polling place in a mostly white, mixed class neighborhood, we didn't have any incidents.  Arrived before 7 AM, and left just before 9:30.  I have never had to wait more than 15 minutes to vote in this neighborhood.  Couldn't tell what way people were leaning, seemed like more Kerry bumperstickers than Bush.  I was the only one with visible (though illegal) support in my "Stop Mad Cowboy Disease" shirt.  One poll worker got a kick out of it. 

Unfortunately, not all of Columbus was so lucky.  The following incidents were reported to the Columbus Dispatch this morning:

  • A voter in Pataskala said people at her polling place were being asked to declare a party affiliation, which is not required in a general election.

  • In the Ohio State University area, a caller reported that any Muslim woman wearing the traditional hijab veil was being challenged by the Republican Party challengers.

  • Some voters objected that poll workers were enforcing a five-minute limit for using the voting machines. The Franklin County Board of Elections confirmed that the time limit is being enforced where necessary to keep long lines moving.

  • Several people who said they are longtime voters reported that their names did not appear on the registered voter list for this election, which meant they had to vote on a provisional ballot.

  • A common complaint was the aggressive behavior of campaigners for various parties and issues at the polling places. Campaigners are required to remain outside the posted flags, but voters reported some violations of that rule.

  • One caller complained that Kerry supporters outside West Broad Elementary School had signs saying "Honk for Kerry."  Although that is not illegal, the caller said teachers and their classes were bothered by the noise.

Not sure Honk for Kerry really ranks up there with asking for forms or asking for party affiliation, but I guess they're just trying to be balanced.

By the way, I'm a Bruce fan now.  Saw him during the REM/Bruce Springsteen ACT tour in Cleveland.  Made sure I saw him in Columbus with Kerry last Thursday.  So I'm hooked, next time he's in Columbus I'll be there.  Listened to him this morning, though cranked Eminem's Mosh on the iPod while casting my vote.

Name: Catherine Smith
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

Greetings from Atlanta.  We are hopeful here to turn Georgia to a swing state for next time.  Grassroots organizations have cropped up from the ashes of the Dean, Edwards, and Clark campaigns to register, energize and mobilize masses of voters.  We even got a mobile billboard, which can be seen .

We hear that hundreds were lined up for the Election Protection training last night.  We may even elect an .

So, all y'all check out Georgia tonight - we expect to surprise y'all.

Name: Barry Ritholtz

Hey Doc,
Okay, here we go, one last time:

Check out the electoral map: If Bush carries nearly every state he did , but loses either Florida or Ohio, its game over.  While it's mathematically possible for him to win without Florida and/or Ohio, it would require a huge and highly unlikely shift elsewhere.

If Kerry loses both of those states, in order to get to 270 (The results in 2000 were 271 - 266), he would have to pick a few other states.  Remember that due to the census change post 2000, several states have seen their EC numbers change: Texas (+2), Florida (+2), Georgia (+2), Arizona (+2) California (+1), Colorado (+1), Oklahoma (+1), Nevada (+1). A number of states lost electoral votes:  New York (-2), Pennsylvania (-2), Michigan (-1), Illinois (-1), Indiana (-1), are a few examples.

So to get over the hump, in the event Ohio AND Florida both go red, Kerry would need New Hampshire plus another state: either Colorado (273 - 265) or Arkansas (270 - 268). New Hampshire + Nevada is a 269-269 tie, (which sends the election to the House of Representatives).

Consider New Hampshire as the first swing state that is likely to be declared -- it may foretell what's to come the rest of the night.  If NH is the only state to swing differently than 2000, the incumbent loses.

Be sure to check out the map at the link below:


Here's comments on the most recent poll:

As the presidential campaigns raced through the final weekend before Election Day, Sen. John Kerry gained ground in polls conducted in 16 battleground states by Zogby Interactive and Reuters/Zogby.Sen. Kerry now leads in nine states, including the coveted Florida and Pennsylvania, two members of the trio that will likely be key for the winning candidate on Tuesday. The third crucial state, Ohio, is in President Bush's column. Sen. Kerry's lead in Florida is narrow -- only one percentage point -- but he leads by five percentage points in Pennsylvania, while Mr. Bush has a four-point lead in the Buckeye State. The margins in all three states, as well as in 11 others, are within the margin of error.Pennsylvania was tied in last week's results, while Mr. Bush led in Florida. Voters in Michigan and Minnesota also returned to the Kerry column in the most recent poll.Presuming that all the states are won by the current leading candidates and that the other 34 states -- and the District of Columbia -- go as they did in the 2000 election, which isn't guaranteed, Mr. Kerry would get 286 electoral votes and Mr. Bush would get 247. This analysis doesn't include New Mexico, which shows up as a tie in the latest poll, but the state's five electoral votes wouldn't sway the final result of the election in this scenario.Mr. Kerry leads in two states that President Bush won in 2000: Florida, which has 27 electoral votes, and New Hampshire, which has four. The only state Democrat Al Gore carried in 2000 that Mr. Kerry doesn't lead is New Mexico.

You can see how the electoral college looks state by state here: 

Also, check out the 2000 Electoral College Results .

Sources :

Electoral College Analysis

Name: Another Veteran
Hometown: The OC

Hey Eric,
As a former intelligence analyst, may I point out that Osama's appearance in this latest video suggests he isn't living on the run or in a cave.  He's too clean, appears relaxed and well-rested, and his skin tone/quality does not suggest outdoor living.  This isn't a guy who's been catching a cold shower when he can.  I doubt he's in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

I hope you're right, that Kerry will win in a landslide - I certainly agree there are indicators to suggest it.  But then there are scare the hell out of me.

P.S. Thanks for getting to the bottom of Bruce's Contra-Cocaine concert & the Crystic Institute.  Those of us who worked on that event THOUGHT we were doing the right thing, and it was wrong of us not to investigate it more thoroughly.  Thanks to the neocons, we've all become much more politically savvy.

Name: Mike Brooks
Hometown: Coburg, Oregon
re:"...While some Americans have genuinely benefited from Bush's presidency, almost exclusively conservative Christians..."

**I** am an Evangelical Christian (I am a member of and regular attendee of a Calvary Chapel).  I am not only a Kerry voter, I went door to door in Eugene and Springfield, Oregon campaigning for him, I donated money for his campaign.  Mr. Kerry is the Conservative Christian, if you want my opinion.  He is an honest and honorable man, for decent health care for millions of children, social services for the unfortunate, is calmly rational, moral, and courageous in doing what is right.  He is personally opposed to abortion but is smart enough to stay out of the social "food fight" the nuts on either side get into whenever this issue arises.  Indeed, in my campaigning for John Kerry, I was sworn at, called names, threatened, had doors slammed in my face, etc. by both Naderites and "evangelical nut cases."  These people obviously know nothing of Jesus Christ and ought not be called Christians at all for they demonstratively are not.  And the Naderites are about as "liberal" as Stalin.  So, please rephrase this, real-genuine "Conservative Christians" are people who honor Christ, try to do what is right, and always ask themselves if they are on God's side.

November 1, |

A Kerry landslide?

Well, what is there to say?  Nothing, I fear, I haven’t said already.  OK, I’ll say this.  I predicted a Kerry win about two weeks ago based on new registration numbers and the inability of pollsters to reach new voters, which would go overwhelmingly for Kerry—or more accurately, against Bush.  I’m sticking with that one.  All that poll-thumbsucking will prove to be a massive, misleading waste of time, just as it did four years ago, as yesterday’s "news" turns into tomorrow’s fish and chips paper.

I’ll go further, I think there’s at minimum, a twenty-five percent chance—maximum, forty-percent chance--of a Kerry landslide.  As everything in the news recently—including Mr. bin Laden, who by the way, can apparently run AND hide (at least so long as his enemies are off fighting imaginary terrorists thousands of miles away as he sits pretty among his warlord protectors)--has served to remind voters of what an unprecedented disaster this administration is.  Bush, Cheney and Rove have sought to scare people silly—literally—to try to convince them to forget how asleep at the switch they were before September 11th; how panicky they were on the day of the attack, and how mendacious, ideological and incompetent they’ve been virtually every day since. Much of the mainstream media has bought into their campaign of fear, but I don’t think ultimately, all that many Americans will. 

John Kerry is well-trained, moderate in demeanor, intelligent and ultimately, competent.  Bush is none of these things.  While some Americans have genuinely benefited from Bush’s presidency—almost exclusively conservative Christians, Fortune 500 CEOs and the like, and neoconservative Jihadists—the vast majority of Americans are unrepresented by this bunch, and I’m sorry, I just refuse to believe that come tomorrow morning, they will be too stupid to see through the punditocracy muck and vote their own self-interests. Inside the voting booth, voters will level with themselves and realize—it just doesn’t matter who you’d "rather have a beer with." Neither of these guys are coming over to your house for a beer. They’ll be too busy, for starters, attempting to fix the that the Bush team created in his hubristic ignorance.

Yes, Kerry in a landslide because I believe in my countrymen and women. That’s my prediction.  I’ll eat it if I have to—along with a great deal of the hope I held for my country’s democratic future.

The Note Bush has the big `Mo. Please.

The Bruce video is .  Here’s a nice but I do think Bruce should lose that Maynard G. Krebs chin thing, not that he cares what I think.

What hath Kinsley wrought?  Michael Berube nails what he calls the “slightly newer republic” .  (By the way, the antidote to that kind of crap can be found in Mr. Pierce’s missive below)

Charles Pierce:  THIRTY DAYS OUT
Day 1 -- November 1, 2004

Hey Doc:
There were two revoltin' developments this weekend. The first was the fact that somebody -- and you KNOW it's Robbie, because Levon wouldn't stand for this guff -- sold "The Weight" for a cellular phone commercial. Then, Saturday, Purdue coach and alleged Bush fan Joe Tiller PULLS Kerry supporter Kyle Orton during a loss (!) to Northwestern and then, in the postgame, tosses Altercation's favorite quarterback under the bus to the assembled media.  Oh, they're desperate, every one of them.

(And it should be noted that Red Sox hero Curt Schilling is supporting for president the lone vote against the wild-card system that got Boston into the playoffs in the first place. Curt, babe, look deep into the politics here.)

Good God, it's close. The Kerry people shut down their field operation on Saturday in New Hampshire, so that everyone could go to a rally in Manchester, and I don't know what to make of that, although I keep hearing that N.H. has stabilized in blue. I lived in Wisconsin for five years, love it to absolute death, and I still don't understand the politics. I mean, Joe McCarthy AND the LaFollettes?  I have faith in my adopted hometown, though.  Big numbers in Milwaukee -- and among the Still At The Fillmore set in Madison -- I think will be enough. Raise a Leinie's for me Tuesday night at Jim Hegarty's, ya-hey?

It occurred to me over the weekend that I haven't given a good reason why I will vote for John Kerry, and why I would vote for him even if he were running against, say, John McCain.  (And even if McCain still had a political soul, which I've come to doubt.)  Once, in Iowa, Kerry dropped in on a group of Vietnam veterans.  Some of them liked him.  Some of them didn't, largely because of the whole VVAW thing.  (And, trust me, this was my first beat at the Boston Phoenix, and I discovered that the politics within the various Vietnam veteran's groups were desperate and bloody.)  Kerry dismissed the staff, locked the door, blew off the rest of the schedule, and sat there and talked and argued with these guys until they were all exhausted.  He wanted to talk to the people who disliked him more than he wanted to talk to anyone else.  He gave them the respect of open debate.

Imagine the incumbent doing that.  Imagine him sitting down in a room where half the people truly loathe him and everything he stands for, him and his ticket-only rallies, and his coddling staff, and his use of the Secret Service as cheap sidewalk bouncers.  Imagine him hearing them out, debating them, giving them the respect of his knowledgeable disagreement.  It is inconceivable.  One can more easily imagine C-Plus Augustus's flapping his arms and flying to the top of the Washington Monument.  Imagine that "character" is even at issue between these two men.

Somebody who was there in Iowa told me that story, and told me I couldn't use it, but that's too damn bad today.  I am voting for John Kerry because it is a time for serious people who are strong enough in their heart to listen to anger and slander and calumny and to respond to it, not with the tinny bombast of an unearned office, and not with the cheesy legerdemain of concocted eminence, but with the strength to stay long enough to try to redeem it.

Alter-review: Jazz@Lincoln Center: New Home, Black Brown & Beige, “Unforgivable Blackness,” and “The Rose & the Briar.”

I had a chance to check out the new home of Jazz@Lincoln Center last week for a rare performance of Duke Ellington’s extended masterpiece, “Black Brown and Beige.”  (Have I mentioned recently that this is the greatest city in the world?)  The band played in the smallish Allen Room, which seats around 500 people tops, compared with about 1200 in the larger “Rose” Theater and 140 seat club, called “Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola.”  It was, in a word, the most spectacular setting for a Jazz concert you can imagine, at least it would have been if the stars were out, since the band plays in front of a two story window overlooking Central Park and 59th Street and you can see all the way to 5th Avenue from Columbus Circle.  It was a thrill to hear BB&B live, as I don’t recall seeing advertisements of any performances of it in my adult life and the Duke played it live only twice, in 1943 and 1944.  (Wynton happily pointed out that he did so at Carnegie Hall, and so the question of “playing jazz in fancy places” was answered long ago.)  But this is some fancy place.  The “only hall ever designed for Jazz,” it cost $128 million and promises to deliver something priceless; a proper home for our most significant and democratic indigenous art form—as well as a place to hear great music and “swing” for the musicians.  The debate over whether Wynton, J@LC and all the conservatism and corporate sponsorship they represent are “good” for jazz has long ago been rendered moot.  Wynton has made it possible to build a house for jazz that would have been beyond anyone’s dreams before it happened.  I didn’t mind at all that Cadillac helped make it possible.  And just how would jazz and jazz musicians survive without this kind of sponsorship?  Just what is the alternative?

Of upcoming programs I would call your attention to the upcoming collaboration with Ken Burns on the PBS film, “Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson.”  I’m told it’s an amazing and inspiring documentary on the heavyweight-boxing champion, author, patent-holding inventor, aspiring bass player and Miles Davis inspiration, who was imprisoned in 1920 for transporting a white girlfriend for the purposes of "prostitution and debauchery."  Today, the Committee to Pardon Jack Johnson is a solid group comprised of prominent people from sports, academia, journalism and political fields. To honor the life and times and the pardoning effort, J@LC is hosting the festival, on November 12 and 13  both nights, in Rose Theater, with Burns and Wynton (who composed the film’s original score) providing commentary and showing  clips from the film. The Wynton Marsalis Septet will then perform the original music. It will be the first film presentation in the new space. Meanwhile, on November 13 jazz musicians will ‘duke it out’ during friendly musician duels in Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, and the afternoon musician’s duel is free and open to the public.  .

On a sort of related note, I was reminded of how much I loved Black Brown and Beige by reading Stanley Crouch’s amazing essay in the new Sean Wilentz, Greil Marcus collection, entitled, which you can buy with a , which includes Marty Robbins's "El Paso," Dolly Parton's "Down From Dover," Randy Newman's "Sail Away," Bob Dylan's "Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts," and Bruce’s "Nebraska," and The Handsome Family's recording of Paul Muldoon's "Blackwatertown."

Name: Major Bob Bateman
Hometown: The Pentagon

Too many of us have died for any American to abstain from making a decision.
Unlike Eric and Pierce, I will not advocate a political preference. It is wrong for an Army officer to do so. (Not to mention the fact that it's also a crime.) Who you vote for is your business.  That you vote, well, that's closer to mine. Excuse me, but this is an emotional issue for me.
I want the sacrifices made, by generation after generation, to matter.  I want the death of some of my soldiers, men I knew or taught or led, to matter.  I want the wounds suffered by dozens more of my peers to be validated.  It matters if you exercise the right that we joined the military in order to defend.
We, of course, are not the only ones with a vested interest in this process. Many others give selflessly to enable this democracy. Schoolteachers and lawyers (well, some lawyers), professors and politicians, and many others dedicate their working lives to making the democracy what it is. But there is a limit.
Too many of us have fought, explicitly and implicitly, to sustain this animal we call the United States. Too many in history, and too many today, have laid it on the line for you to ignore the privilege. Voting is a precious gift.  It wasn't created by soldiers, but it was sustained.  Revolutionary War soldiers and those from World War Two, Korean War soldiers and those who fell in the Civil War, all stretching back through the years defending one thing: our Democracy. The most salient element of which is the right to express your political choice. That is what millions died for. Do not forget. Do them the honor.   
We join the military because we are believers. Idealists. Romantics. We think that if we try hard enough, we can protect this 228 year-old experiment. And with every day, more blood flows to ensure that this experiment in democracy will continue.  You may not agree with the present conflict. You may believe that it is wrong.  But that does not negate the motivation of those fighting the war. (In this country the Army doesn't decide who, when, or where we fight.  Your votes pick the people who make those decisions.)  
Oh, and when you vote, realize that we in uniform are not of the left, or of the right. We are not blue states or red states, we are green. As in camouflaged green. And if you listen you can hear that.
It's not a joke. It's not a "retro vs. metro" thing for us in uniform. It's not country music and a barbeque versus Moby and Haute Cuisine. It is not about polls. What matters to us in uniform the most is that you use the privilege. Your vote matters, regardless of your state.  If you choose not to vote, you invalidate the core reason for which each of us in uniform today decided to make a commitment and, if necessary, place our lives on the line.
Oh, and on an unrelated note: Some people think that it's enough just to pose. This is pisses us off. Don't do this.