October 29, 2004

The Other Election

The results are in from the Afghan election, which I wrote about in August: Hamid Karzai has been elected with 55%, which is just about perfect: a commanding lead, but not in dictatorship territory. Austin Bay has more.

Posted by John Tabin at 01:35 PM | Comments (0)

Crush the Party

My well-documented beef with the Libertarian Party is now available in column-form at AmSpec.

Posted by John Tabin at 03:00 AM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2004

State by State

There are a raft of state-level polls out today to mull over.

Florida: Bush 48 - Kerry 47

Light-red Mason-Dixon:
Colorado: Bush 49 - Kerry 43
Missouri: Bush 49 - Kerry 44
New Hampshire: Bush 48 - Kerry 45
Ohio: Bush 46 - Kerry 45
West Virginia: Bush 49 - Kerry 44
Nevada: Bush 52 - Kerry 42

Light-blue Mason-Dixon , according to unofficial reports:

Pennsylvania: Bush 45 - Kerry 46
Oregon: Bush 45 - Kerry 46
Iowa: Bush 49 - Kerry 43
Wisconsin: Bush 45, Kerry 45
New Mexico: Bush 49 - Kerry 44
Michigan: Bush 46 - Kerry 47
Minnesota: Bush 47 - Kerry 45

Let's experiment, for a moment, with the "Incumbent Rule" theory, that Bush's level of support is the one to pay attention to. As Mark Blumenthal puts it, "If the average result of all the final polls (including undecided) puts Bush's percentage at 50% or higher, the President will likely win. If Bush's percentage is 48%-49%, the race is headed for a photo finish. At 47% or lower, the President will likely lose." There are still 12 days to go in the race, which is to say these aren't final polls, and there's no clear pattern in how undecideds break prior to the final polls. So let's relax the standard by a point: if Bush's support is at 49% or higher, give him the state; 46% or lower, give Kerry the state; 47-48%, call it a toss up-- for the 2000 blue states. The profile of the undecided voter presumably varies by state, so for the 2000 red states, let's relax the standard by two points: if Bush's support is at 48% or higher, give him the state; 45% or lower, give Kerry the state, 46-47%, call it a toss-up

That gives Bush Florida, Colorado, Missouri, New Hampshire, West Virginia, Nevada, Iowa and New Mexico, and gives Kerry Pennsylvania, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Now go to the LA Times interactive electoral college map, and give Washington and New Jersey to Kerry and Arkansas and Virginia to Bush. Then assign the states mentioned above as indicated. Regardless of the result in Ohio, Minnesota, and Maine, Bush has already won.

But wait: Now apply the tighter standard that we used for the 2000 blue states to the 2000 red states. Kerry gains Ohio, and Bush loses New Hampshire and Florida. All of a sudden, Bush needs to pick up Florida and at least one other state. Anything less, and Kerry wins.

Conclusion: a tiny shift in assumptions can turn the meaning of a data set around nearly 180 degrees. Remember this when you hear voices on either side of the fence taking any particular comfort in the polls.

Posted by John Tabin at 03:49 PM | Comments (5)

In Defense of TA:WP

UPDATE 1:25 PM: Shawn Macomber calls the blog-link to his Team America column "a handy place to put all of your angry comments," and having been the recipient of the odd hate-mailbag myself I'm tempted to simply delete my criticism; I hate to be part of a pile-on on a guy that I both like and admire. Instead, I've collapsed this post so it isn't quite so prominent on the main page.

Team America: World Police has shaken the gentle soul of my colleague Shawn Macomber, who compares it to MoveOn.org-style Bush hatred. Says Shawn, "by using the names and likenesses of left-leaning actors, the film makes its attacks on that side intensely personal. The message is simple: These are traitors who serve our enemies."

Actually, I don't think that's the message at all. With the exception of Michael Moore the suicide bomber-- unfair? That's debateable, quite frankly, given his openly anti-American rhetoric in speeches overseas and his implicit collusion with the Mullahs in the distribution of Fahrenheit 9/11 in Iran-- none of the celebrities lampooned are portrayed as evil. They are portrayed as naive. Sean Penn declares that he visited Saddam Hussein's Iraq and "before Team America showed up it was a happy place. They had flowery meadows and rainbow skies and rivers made of chocolate where the children danced and laughed and played with gumdrop smiles." This is different only in degree from his real life statements. And Janeane Garofalo's assertion of her right to repeat what she read in a newspaper as if it were her own idea is mocking her stupidity, not her patriotism. The Alec Baldwin-led Film Actors Guild meet with Kim Jong Il in pursuit of peace, which is only a small stretch-- remember, Sean Penn really did allow himself to be Saddam's propaganda tool. When they take up arms against Team America and get slaughtered, it's merely the climax that fits on the What-Would-Jerry-Bruckheimer-Do template.

"Celebrities with silly political views are not comparable to Kim Jong Il," insists Shawn. No one said they were. The movie's final geopolitical synthesis, in fact, specifically separates the dictator from the actors with the assertion of a relationship between various organs found between the waist and knees; the actors, Team America, and Kim Jong Il are held up as examples of each. Shawn complains about the lack of decorum in Hans Blix being eaten by sharks, but fails to mention that he's portrayed being fed to the sharks by Kim Jong Il. That's a cuttingly incisive portrait of the wages of appeasement. It isn't hypocritical, as Shawn argues, to get this joke and still "complain about Bush being called a fascist or being portrayed as a demon on a protester's sign." The main problem with the Bush-is-Hitler crowd, at least in my view, is not that they're rude, it's that they're tragically, ridiculously, painfully wrong. There's quite a difference.

Posted by John Tabin at 03:56 AM | Comments (2)

Methodology Madness

I parse the polls in my newest AmSpec column.

Posted by John Tabin at 01:18 AM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2004

LP: Losers, Pitiable

Just after taking a few shots at Libertarian Party candidates in the previous post, I read David Weigel's fine review of Jeremy Rifkin's The European Dream (key quote: "He's using 'Enlightment' in the perjorative sense"), and noticed an ad for the Badnarik campaign's "Operation Wisconsin Blue".

That's right, the Libertarian candidate is now openly campaigning as a pro-Kerry spoiler. Pathetic.

Posted by John Tabin at 09:25 PM | Comments (1)

Four More Years

In the spirit of Reason's survey of libertarians and friends-of-libertarianism, let me make my official endorsement:

2004 vote: George W. Bush. I'm somewhat skeptical of the argument that divided government will reign in spending, given that the only evidence comes from a period where the GOP congress was led by anti-government crusaders and the Democratic president's giant health care proposal was already a dead letter; neither of these things will be true in the next four years. (I suspect that the reality is that we face a budgetary wash: Bush would propose and pass X amount of spending, whereas Kerry would propose 2X amount and pass X.) Even if I bought the divided government argument, though, that issue is more than trumped by foreign policy. Notwithstanding certain tactical errors, the Bush administration operates within a strategic framework that is basically sound. John Kerry's entire approach to terrorism, on the other hand, consists of returning to the policies of the 90s, a recipe for catastrophe.

2000 vote: Harry Browne. I would have voted for Bush in a swing state (in fact I did vote for him over McCain in the Republican primary, for all the good that did in stopping the assault on the First Amendment that is campaign finance "reform"), and I was quite annoyed to learn how seriously some people are willing to take the popular vote.

Most embarrassing vote: Harry Browne in 2000, which became embarrassing shortly after 9/11 when Browne went into full isolationist blame-America mode. Michael Badnarik is if anything even more radical than Browne; this year I haven't seriously considered voting Libertarian even for a moment.

Favorite president: James K. Polk, who appeals to my soft spots for both obscurity and Manifest Destiny. (I also like the They Might Be Giants song.)

Speaking of that Reason survey, I was especially pleased by Louis Rosetto's answer, which Rod Dreher highlighted today. As a teenager I was an avid fan of Wired under Rosetto-- before it was bought by Conde Nast and all-but-gutted of serious philosophical and political content-- and it was second only to my parents in influencing my intellectual development.

Posted by John Tabin at 08:16 PM | Comments (2)

October 16, 2004

Loose End

I had an AmSpec column Thursday, which I didn't get around to linking to here, on the insufferably dull Wednesday night debate.

Posted by John Tabin at 08:31 PM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2004


In today's Reader Mail, I'm compelled by a reader of yesterday's AmSpec column to concede an error.

Posted by John Tabin at 01:11 AM | Comments (2)

October 11, 2004

The Trees Behind the Bush

I untangle the "timber company" exchange from Friday's debate, and take a swing at John Kerry's economic plans, in my latest AmSpec column.

Posted by John Tabin at 02:19 AM | Comments (1)

October 08, 2004

It Will Be Close

Andrew Sullivan is arguing that the election will be a landslide one way of the other, and bolstering his case with historical data from an emailer suggesting that all incumbents' re-election bids, except for Wilson's and Adams's, have been decided by margins of 10% or more.

That's not true; Carter beat Ford by just 2.1%. Something tells me that (as Dave Weigel suggested when we were chatting this afternoon) the campaign of a President who took office without a huge mandate, and who faced a weak opponent bolstered primarily by a climate of heavy anti-Republican sentiment on the left, might be somewhat relevant to today's contest.

It's going to be a squeaker.

Posted by John Tabin at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2004

I'm Rubber, You're Glue

If you haven't already, do check out the loud booing of my Edwards vs. Cheney column in AmSpec's Reader Mail. My favorite email, though, didn't make the cut; it was from Jim Nelson of New York, NY who speculated that "maybe it's that Tabin is a closet homosexual and his reaction is to erotic [sic] rather than substance."

No sir, I must protest: it is you who are a big stupid gay-head.

Posted by John Tabin at 03:12 PM | Comments (2)

October 06, 2004

The Veep Match-up

Those who hated my take on the first Bush-Kerry debate might like my newest AmSpec column, on the Edwards-Cheney showdown. And vice versa.

Posted by John Tabin at 02:09 AM | Comments (3)

October 04, 2004

Pronunciation Guide

Since you were wondering, it is Tay-bin, Rush.

By the way, I hope it was clear to most readers, if not to Limbaugh's listeners, that it's the publicly-released data of partisan polling firms in general that's been shown to have a home team bias, not of Democracy Corps specifically (though I have little doubt that the rule holds in their case). Mark Blumenthal, himself a Democratic pollster, explains here.

Posted by John Tabin at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

Humility Corner

I wrote in today's column that Kerry's spin victory was "tough to predict" because both sides had plenty of amunition after the debate. On reflection, I remember that some people did, in fact, predict it, even before the debate (Mike Murphy comes to mind). So I guess it wasn't that tough.

And speaking of my failure as a news cycle prognosticator: The "did Kerry cheat?" kerfuffle, which I mentioned in today's column as an example of something that might affect the race this week, is officially a non-story. UPDATE: Bill at INDCJournal has a wrap-up on the matter that's worth a read.

Posted by John Tabin at 10:00 AM | Comments (1)

No, Really, Bush Won

Friday's AmSpec column got a fair amount of attention, both from bloggers who mostly liked it, and others-- both in emails and comments-- who are more divided on the question of whether I've lost my mind. Today's column, a look at the post-debate polls, is a sequel of sorts.

Posted by John Tabin at 03:01 AM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2004

Debate One

Here's my debate reaction. I'm in camp that feels not much changed, which makes it a default in Bush's favor. (This, by the way, was my immediate instinct before reading anyone else's commentary.)

Posted by John Tabin at 12:09 PM | Comments (8)