So, Kerry Concedes. Apparently he will make a formal statement at 1800GMT (under an hour). It's hard to imagine what could possess half of the US to vote for Shrub, but there it is. I'm living in the UK, and have only met one person (in august) who leaned toward Bush. Nevertheless, this is the result - and we have to live with it.
Despite some irregularities which need to be stamped on, and hard (e.g. lack of paper record in some states, misregistration of voters etc) - the vote seems to have been better than in 2000. There are still massive problems in the system (e.g. media not having to be impartial, calling results before polls shut, voter registration and so on). I'm certainly surprised to have a result on the 3rd Nov, I thought it would run on.
I have seen a statement from the Whitehouse which says 'More people voted for Bush than for any other president'.
This may be true - but I do hope that the Whitehouse remembers that this is because things went right to the wire in a divided country with a bigger population than at any point in history. The challenger got the second most votes.
The worst result would be if Bush assumed that he had a mandate to press ahead regardless, to ignore the massive shot across his bows. To think that he needs to make history without the spectre of re-election. In short, as the election was so close he needs some modesty.
I won't be holding my breath.
I still think that David Brin's Suggestion is a very good one:
Imagine a candidate or new President Elect making the following pledge:
"If I become president, I promise to ask my honorable opponent to pick a panel of Americans who will have control over my appointment calendar one afternoon per month. And I expect my opponent to serve on that panel. On that afternoon, I shall meet with -- and listen to -- any individuals or delegations that panel may choose. Millions of Americans will then know that I do not live in a tower of ideological isolation. I will answer questions and hear dissenting points of view."
It would cost the incumbant nothing, except a few hours of time once a month. It would be a superb gesture. Imagine if this had been said in the campaign... it could have been followed with the question 'I wonder if my opponent will make the same pledge?'
I have my fingers crossed that Bush will seek to unite, especially in the international arena. He promised to be a uniting leader in 2000 and we were disappointed. Let us hope not to be disappointed again.
Wil Wheaton, ex. TNG and author of 'Just a Geek', has posted his first real political post on his excellent website. He posted yesterday, so apologies for being a little behind the times. Well worth a read.
On the US election day, there is an excellent piece in the Independent today, which seeks to explain why the world seems to have an unprecedented interest in the outcome of this election (indeed, Gore/Bush was a matter of passing interest in comparison).
This was put together for the film, 'outfoxed'.
The site has a wonderful quote from a Fox Journo:
Though in every effort not to appear neutral (heaven forfend), the article finishes with 'Am I going to go with a Massachusetts liberal or a Texas ranger?'
One of the commenters here points out that 'I think we should watch what the Faux News folks say today. This is very likely rigged for a "Get out there and make us liars" message'
In related news, a deputy in Florida is reported to have punched a journalist who was 'was enforcing a new county rule prohibiting reporters from interviewing or photographing voters lined up outside the polls'. According to the Yahoo article, 'the law prohibits police from standing in the immediate vicinity of polling stations unless they are voting or called in to handle a disturbance.'
There is a helpful article here for people who have not received absentee ballots in time
The latest electoral vote projections are here - the methodology has been to use the last dated poll published. Over the past month there have been major swings as the margins are wafer thin across a range of states.
Let us just hope that the election does turn out to be free and fair, and that no skullduggery takes place. I won't hold my breath for this, especially when the person in charge of the election in a state can be partisan.
Our media, and to some extent, our electoral system, have failed us. They've presented this election as a choice between longer and shorter war, slightly different views on domestic issues, slightly different plans for economic reform. It's not any of those. It's not even "the economy, stupid!" Those are all the "overlay."
The one simple, clear-cut, black-and-white issue in this election, where one candidate is on each side of the line, is corruption. We have someone with ties to all the major financial and political scandals of the last 25 years... and someone who's investigated or prosecuted those very scandals.
(Update: Apologies that the link no longer works - but the above should give a sense of what it said)
This is perplexing given the global importance of the US election. Sure, people outside the US can't vote, but the eventual winner will have to be able to do business abroad. Indeed, some US voters will currently be out of the country and returning before polling day.
When I view the site, I see this:
You don't have permission to access "http://www.georgewbush.com/" on this server.
An up to the minute report on the site availability is here.
Are they worried that people outside the US borders might notice problems in their record? Could it be that the campaign simply can't afford to run a real webserver? ... or are they trying to encourage people to use the country specific sites like http://www.georgewbush.co.uk/?
One can use the Google Cache, or perhaps use the .org site (with its 'dead letter' mailbox). This is reasonably easy to get around by using a US based proxy server. This link takes you to the page through a web based server (it adds some adverts to the page)
This action actually speaks volumes about the man's foreign policy and his understanding of the need to win the hearts and mind of non-USians.
While I agree that there is nothing "wrong" with this (other than the collateral overseas abenstee voter damage), it does point out something about this presidents beliefs:
What the rest of the world thinks does not matter.
In other news, 36 newspapers which backed Bush in the 2000 election now back Kerry, and a further 9 have stopped backing Bush without switching to Kerry. Interestingly, the Bush Blog doesn't seem to allow comments, unlike the Kerry blog.
Given that in the US there is much rumour and rebuttal about the possibility of a draft, it is interesting to see this court case. An ex-soldier is suing the US Govt. Essentially the US is operating a 'Stop Loss' policy, and this soldier, who was told he was discharged has been ordered to report.
There are many articles on both sides of the draft issue, one article (republican) finishes with: The Bush administration could put the wild rumors to rest and save taxpayers nearly the $30 million a year it costs to administer the Selective Service's draft registration program by asking Congress to terminate draft registration.
The question is, if a draft is out of the question, why don't they pass this legislation and cut the ground out from under the rumour?
The Whitehouse has said that there will be no draft. Indeed, letters have been sent demanding that people stop talking about it on this basis. However, some people aren't believing this assurance. A senator from Ohio explains why (media link).
The reason this is pertinant in the UK (quite apart from the issue of who gets to lead the remaining superpower) is that the US recently requested around 850 troops to move north from Basra (despite there being over 100000 US troops around, they couldn't spare any). There is speculation that Blair and co. controversially acceded to this in order to relieve political pressure upon the current president. The pressure arose due to the talk of a draft.
The question of the troop movement is sure to be discussed in the excellent 'Any Questions?' (a show which I'm not sure has a parallel in the US). This weeks show will be downloadable until next weekend, when it will be replaced with the latest version. Quote from the 5 min 30 sec mark in the show: "No, I don't think the redeployment of the troops is particularly in the interest of the US elections. It does however happen to be my view that the best interests of the US elections are served by voting for John Kerry..." <pause> <applause> (I'm listening to it now, there is some good stuff near the 14 minute mark)
For Undecided Americans, there is a site which compares the two main candidates side by side. It allows you to examine the policies on a range of issues, and then presents you with a summary. The site also allows you to choose your state and gives information upon ballot hours and your rights as a voter. Given the debacle of 2000, this could prove useful.
Slashdot is running a politics site at the moment, and they've just linked to an article which compares the world view of Bush and Kerry supporters. Slashdot says: "A report by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland correlates voters' perceptions of world attitudes and events with their choice in candidates. It's an interesting read, and shows voters supporting Kerry as being more in tune with the events and world attitudes surrounding the war in Iraq."
The first post said, rather to the point:
" We need an article to tell us this?
Seriously, after reading it, I was quite happy that someone put out some evidence for what I've observed. If I had a dollar for every time I tried to tell someone that Iraq really didnt have nukes.... "
Last night there was another debate between Bush and Kerry. Now, I haven't had the time to download it, but I have seen some clips and commentary (some was partisan and some not). Some was simple, some detailed, some from newspapers and some from online news sources. Several online polls had Bush the winner at first, but then several of them were published before the debate was over. The poll mentioned has now had nearly 900000 votes and is now 68% for Kerry.
Bush was quite short with the interviewer in quite an unpresidential manner (site is obviously democrat, but the clip is straight from the broadcast). Its not quite as bad as the posts I've seen make out, but it does seem rather petulant and uncontrolled - he seemed rattled and I think he may be regretting this.
For a while factcheck.com redirected itself to georgesoros.com, an anti-Bush page, oops. He should have refered to factcheck.org. The top article on factcheck.org is entitled Cheney & Edwards Mangle Facts. One paragraph here reads: Edwards was also slightly off when he said Halliburton paid millions in fines "while he (Cheney) was CEO." What he meant was that it paid fines for matters that took place while Cheney was in charge..
Is Bush trying to help his opposition? Edwards only mentioned that the fines were levied on Halliburton with Cheney in charge, but the article says that it was the offence which gave rise to the fine which happened - the fine came later. The rest of the article makes for an interesting read.
There has been some commentary from students at the campus (lots of Kerry supporters, some Bush). Some of the comment inevitably directed at Bush's stumblinb on words
In other US electoral news, Diebold (who make controversial voting machines, which have problems with auditting) are in a district where one of the local candidates is campaigned against them... in order to try and get them to add an auditable paper trail. Oh, and Michigan may well be the next Florida. There is also comment about Gerrymandering.
On languagelog, there is an analysis of the language and pauses in the recent Bush-Kerry 'debate'. The level of the analysis is phenomenal, and I can only wonder at how much time was spent putting it together!
Apparently Kerry used sentences which were 17% longer than Bush. He did this to a small extent by using fewer sentences (less than 2% fewer), but in the most part by using more words. Bush paused for longer times, where Kerry tended to pause for shorter times, and did so more deliberately.
The 'debate' between Kerry and Bush is available for download at the BBC. The 'debates' are closed (between Republican and Democrats). True that these two parties are the only parties with a current realistic shot at power. With a restriction to these two parties this is unlikely to change - its not in the interest of these parties to open it up.