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Ashcroft Out, Gonzales In, Torture Approved

November 30, 2004

(archived broadcast )
Guest: Mark Agrast of the Center for American Progress
What is the legacy of out-going Attorney General John Ashcroft?
Who is the man appointed by Bush to replace him, current White House counsel Alberto Gonzales?
And what does all this have to with American support for torture?

The Death of the Republican Moderate

November 29, 2004

[No archived broadcast due to technical difficulties.]
The refusal of the Republican Party to allow Senator Arlen Specter his right to “advise and consent” on President Bush’s judicial picks is perhaps the last step in the transformation of the Republican Party from one of tolerance and fiscal conservatism to one of bribery, corruption, huge transfer of wealth from the poor to lobbyists, yes men, and the imposition of fundamentalist religion on non-believers.
Join us on our National Geographic journey as we examine a species of politician about to go extinct: the Republican Moderate.
Specter joins the ranks of Colin Powell, Christine Todd Whitman, Jim Jeffords, Barry Goldwater, and Gerald Ford. If Richard Nixon were alive, he’d be considered a liberal today.
Run for your life, John McCain! The noose will be around your throat next!

A Call to Action

November 28, 2004

The problem with our glorious Constitutional system of checks and balances is that when one side rigs the ENTIRE system (judges appointing Presidents, gerrymandering Congressmen needing only 40% to win a majority, Members of Congress not being allowed to read bills, debate legislation, or investigate Presidential actions, the President lying to Congress, Congress failing to obey its own rules, all three branches conducting secret proceedings, increasing one-party control of the media), there literally is no way out absent a true landslide victory for the opposition party or massive civil disobedience of the kind that happened in the 1960’s or is happening now in Ukraine. The system is broken. We are seeing the Constitution start to fail us as One-Party Rule begins to consolidate itself. And it is scary. George Orwell was right, just 20 years too soon.

Four Million Missing Gore Voters

November 27, 2004

No Saturday show, but an essay written for blog comment:
The Mystery of the Four Million Missing Gore Voters
Bush’s “Mandate” Largely Caused by Peculiarities of the Electoral College
by Mark Levine. Article web-published here.
The President and his aides, for whom the words “popular vote” were strictly verboten in 2000, have suddenly found meaning in the constitutionally insignificant vote totals. A 3.5 million vote margin is a mandate, proclaims the President, who considered his 540,000 popular vote loss to be a similar mandate just four years ago. Although his 51%-48% popular-vote victory is the smallest percentage margin of victory for any re-elected President in American history, Bush insists it nevertheless earned him sufficient “political capital” to ride his policies and his judicial picks roughshod over the hapless 56 million Americans who voted for John Kerry.
Close examination of the election results, however, suggest that even the popular vote is tainted by the peculiarities of America’s Electoral-College system. If the same 2004 electorate had directly elected the President of the United States, Bush’s 3.5 million popular-vote margin would have been far smaller, and he might well have lost to Kerry. It all has to do with those battleground states.
We know from experience that not all votes for President are counted equally in the United States. If you live in Ohio or Florida, your vote is extremely important to the final outcome. If you live in California, New York, Texas, or Georgia, there is little point in voting at all. Even with low turnout, the overwhelming pro-Kerry sentiment in the former two states and pro-Bush sentiment in the latter two meant that the result was all but assured. That’s why the candidates spent no time campaigning in these four populous states. Calculating voters who were dual residents of New York and Florida chose to vote in Florida while Ohio/Texas residents picked Ohio to cast their ballot. The Electoral College system, by its very nature, gave powerful incentives to marginal voters in the swing states to stand in line to vote while those in the “solid states” had far less reason to turn out.
If there had been no other races on the ballot, voters in solid blue states and solid red states would probably have stayed home in roughly the same numbers, and the Presidential popular vote count would not have been much affected. But in Election 2004, there were a number of close Senate races in Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and South Dakota. Coincidently, every one of these close Senate races occurred in red states that voted for Bush. In addition, Tom Delay’s controversial gerrymander to kick five Democrats out of their Congressional seats in Texas led to high turnout in that most populous of red states. And state measures to bar gay couples from equal marriage benefits also led to high turnout in eleven states, of which nine (including Georgia) were red states. As the two blue statesâ with anti-gay measures, Oregon and Michigan, already were battleground states, it is unlikely they caused much increased turnout for Kerry.
The upshot of all this is reflected in the turnout map: despite the largest national turnout in 36 years, millions of Democratic voters in the solid blue states, including the nation’s two most populous states of California and New York, stayed home, having no seriously contested Presidential race, Senate race, or anti-gay-marriage measure on which to vote. This differs sharply from four years ago, when Bush contested California and Hillary Clinton was elected in New York. In contrast, people in solid red states had much higher turnout despite the fact that their vote had little affect on the Presidential race, because their participation was quite important in close races down ballot.
National exit polls confirm the theory. The almost 20 million new voters preferred Kerry over Bush by eight percentage points. (Maybe political strategist Karl Rove is not the genius he is proclaimed to be: whatever “newly-found evangelical Christians” Karl Rove managed to find, they were offset by newly-voting Kerry supporters.) Voters that supported Nader and other third party candidates in 2000 preferred Kerry over Bush by a whopping 50-point margin (71% to 21%). And more 2000 voters switched from Bush to Kerry than switched from Gore to Bush.
So if both the 2000 voting electorate and new voters preferred Kerry over Bush, how could Kerry have possibly lost the 2004 popular vote? Because far more 2004 Gore voters than 2000 Bush voters stayed home and did not vote in 2004. Crunching the numbers shows that less than 640,000 or 1% of Bush voters in 2000 stayed home in 2004 (or died) while a staggering 3.9 million or 8% of Gore voters did not vote in 2004.
These almost four million missing Gore voters swamp Bush’s 3.5 million popular-vote margin. Not that their voted mattered much. As they were from solid blue states, the missing Gore voters could not have delivered Kerry the Presidency or affected the electoral count. Kerry was right to milk every vote he could from Ohio, Florida, and the other swing states.
But the four million missing Gore voters belie the notion that the American People gave Bush a strong mandate. As shown, the Electoral College system, by its very nature, dampens and skews the popular vote. If we had had a direct election where every vote had been counted equally, surely these missing 2000 Gore voters in solid blue states would have been as motivated to come to the polls as the 2000 Bush voters in solid red states, who came primarily to cast ballots for close Senate races and anti-gay marriage measures.
The four million missing Gore voters might just have given Kerry a very close victory margin.

Something's Rotten in Congress

November 26, 2004

Mark Levine intended to appear today to discuss on “Sound off with Sasha,” a National Public Radio station in South Florida (WGCU/WMKO), Congressional procedures in the recent ominbus legislation. Although technical problems in Florida prevented the show from taking place, you can still discuss the issues below:
Do you think Members of Congress read legislation before it’s passed? Not in this Congress.
Do you think bills supported by the majority of legislators voting in the House and Senate become law? Not in this Congress.
Do you think provisions rejected by solid votes in both Houses of Congress still become law? You bet.
Do you think that massive amounts of taxpayer money goes to fund pork to special interests who turn around and use the money to finance Congressional campaigns? Yep, barely concealed bribery.
Do you think that if the Majority Leader is indicted for taking illegal corporate cash and diverting the resources Federal Homeland Security agency to monitor Democrats trying to prevent an unprecedent gerrymandering scheme that he can still lead Congress? Absolutely. The Republican Caucus would not even allow a documented vote on this.
The $388 billion omnibus legislation and its provisions includes:
– allowing Congressional aides to examine your tax returns
– ending overtime for millions of workers
– supporting job outsourcing
– overruling all state laws requiring abortions to be part of health care plans

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