The Beltway Bandit

An online journal of politics, culture, and sports

Thursday, December 30, 2004

MORONS WITH TONGUES -- The good folks over at Media Matters have compiled the ten craziest political quotes of 2004 and, predictably, it reads like a who's who of American wingnuts.
Rush Limbaugh on the Abu Ghraib photos: "I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of need to blow some steam off?"

Ann Coulter: "[Senator John] Kerry will improve the economy in the emergency services and body bag industry."

Tony Blankley called philanthropist George Soros "a Jew who figured out a way to survive the Holocaust."

Michael Savage: "When you hear 'human rights,' think gays. ... [T]hink only one thing: someone who wants to rape your son."

Oliver North: "Every terrorist out there is hoping John Kerry is the next president of the United States."
Just imagine what these cretins will have in store for us in 2005!

HOW THEY DID IT -- This Washington Post article on how the Bush campaign out-organized the Kerry campaign in the 2004 election makes for fascinating, if sometimes depressing, reading.
In a $2.2 billion election, two relatively small expenditures by Bush and his allies stand out for their impact: the $546,000 ad buy by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the Bush campaign's $3.25 million contract with the firm TargetPoint Consulting. The first portrayed Kerry in unrelentingly negative terms, permanently damaging him, while the second produced dramatic innovations in direct mail and voter technology, enabling Bush to identify and target potential voters with pinpoint precision.

Those tactical successes were part of the overall advantage the Bush campaign maintained over Kerry in terms of planning, decision making and strategy. The Kerry campaign, in addition to being outspent at key times, was outorganized and outthought, as Democratic professionals grudgingly admit.
The ultimate test of the two campaigns is in the success of their efforts to increase turnout from 2000. Kerry and his allies increased the Democrat's vote by about 6.8 million votes; Bush increased his by nearly 10.5 million.
A supposed strategic advantage for the Democrats -- massive support from well-endowed independent groups -- turned out to have an inherent flaw: The groups' legally required independence left them with a message out of harmony with the Kerry campaign.
One fundamental calculation was that 93 percent of the voting-age public was already committed or predisposed toward the Democratic or Republican candidate, leaving 7 percent undecided.

Another calculation was that throughout the Bush presidency, "most voters looked at Bush in very black-and-white terms. They either loved and respected him, or they didn't like him," Dowd said. Those voters were unlikely to change their views before Election Day 2004.

That prompted Republicans to jettison their practice of investing 75 to 90 percent of campaign money on undecided voters. Instead, half the money went into motivating and mobilizing people already inclined to vote for Bush, but who were either unregistered or who often failed to vote -- "soft" Republicans.

"We systematically allocated all the main resources of the campaign to the twin goals of motivation and persuasion. The media, the voter targeting, the mail -- all were based off that strategic decision," Dowd said.
Republican firms, including TargetPoint Consultants and National Media Inc., delved into commercial databases that pinpointed consumer buying patterns and television-watching habits to unearth such information as Coors beer and bourbon drinkers skewing Republican, brandy and cognac drinkers tilting Democratic; college football TV viewers were more Republican than those who watch professional football; viewers of Fox News were overwhelmingly committed to vote for Bush; homes with telephone caller ID tended to be Republican; people interested in gambling, fashion and theater tended to be Democratic.

Surveys of people on these consumer data lists were then used to determine "anger points" (late-term abortion, trial lawyer fees, estate taxes) that coincided with the Bush agenda for as many as 32 categories of voters, each identifiable by income, magazine subscriptions, favorite television shows and other "flags." Merging this data, in turn, enabled those running direct mail, precinct walking and phone bank programs to target each voter with a tailored message.

"You used to get a tape-recorded voice of Ronald Reagan telling you how important it was to vote. That was our get-out-the-vote effort," said Alex Gage, of TargetPoint. Now, he said, calls can be targeted to specific constituencies so that, for example, a "right to life voter" could get a call warning that "if you don't come out and vote, the number of abortions next year is going to go up. "

Dowd estimated that, in part through the work of TargetPoint and other research, the Bush campaign and the RNC were able to "quadruple the number" of Republican voters who could be targeted through direct mail, phone banks and knocking on doors.
The entire article is worth reading and since Karl Rove is likely to be running the campaign of the GOP nominee in 2008, any and all prospective Demcoratic candidates should be taking notes on what the GOP did and trying to make that work for the good guys next time.

DIASTER UPDATE -- The estimates of deaths caused by the Indian Ocean earthquake/tsunami keep rising. The latest figure is almost 117,000 dead. That number will go up, too. Here is how it breaks down by nationality, thus far:
Indonesia: 79,940
Sri Lanka: 24,673, with another 6,589 missing and condered most likely dead.
India: At least 10,000
Thailand: 1,830. Thai PM says toll could rise as 5,288 people are still missing.
Myanmar: 90
Malaysia: 66
Maldives: 46
Tanzania: 10
Bangladesh: 2
Somalia: Kenyan media reports hundreds dead
Kenya: Kenyan media reports one death
Seychelles: Unconfirmed reports of deaths
Tiny Sri Lanka has probably suffered ten times as many deaths as the U.S. did on 9/11/01.

THE LORD'S WORK -- If you're thinking of donating money for disaster relief in the Indian Ocean, Episcopal Relief and Development is a good way to go.

TREASON! -- Looks like cuts in defense spending are on the way.
The proposed Pentagon cuts, which include sharply reducing the program for the Air Force's F/A-22 fighter and delaying the purchase of a new Navy destroyer, would for the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks slow the growth in Pentagon spending, which has risen 41 percent in that period, to about $425 billion this year. Military and Congressional officials said the Pentagon was looking to trim up to $10 billion in the 2006 budget alone.

The budget-cutting is likely to foreshadow additional reductions of weapons designed in the cold war and the revamping of America's arsenal as the Pentagon prepares for its quadrennial review of military weapons and equipment to address current and long-term security threats, including the insurgency in Iraq and a possibly resurgent China.
Good thing Bush 2.0 is doing this. Can you imagine the reaction of wingnuts all over America is Bill Clinton cut defense spending in the middle of a shooting war?

GO WEST -- The non-Pacific west has long been Republican-occupied territory, but some state-level gains by the Democrats in 2004 has party leaders thinking they can start winning elections in the southwest and Rocky Mountains.
Party leaders acknowledge that the noncoastal Western states, which voted last month largely for George W. Bush for president, are hardly a Democratic bastion. But population trends are making such states as Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico more fertile territory for a future Democratic presidential contender, and such rock-hard Republican states as Montana and Wyoming are displaying Democratic tendencies, they said.

They note that Bush's aggressive Iraq policies are arousing concern in the traditionally isolationist West, even among longtime Republicans, and that several local environmental initiatives were approved in states where the administration wants to permit drilling for oil and gas and the storage of nuclear waste. An influx of Hispanics has also changed the political composition of several states in the region, making them more hospitable for Democrats.
''What I believe is going on right now is that Bush's brand of conservatism, which is playing very well among social conservatives, is not playing well among libertarians," said Rosenberg, who is mulling a run for chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. ''The West has a very different brand of conservatives and liberals than the South."

Environmental issues may also play a role in wooing independent voters in the West, where growth has many voters concerned about air quality, clean water, and available outdoor space for recreation and hunting, advocates said. More than three-fourths of the 147 environmental-related ballot questions up for a vote this year were approved, according to a tally by the League of Conservation Voters. They include mass transit and alternative energy in Colorado and Montana.

''In Western states, we are detecting a shift in peoples' attitudes" on energy and environmental matters, such as mining, said Phil Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust.
Democrats are showing nascent gains there. In Colorado last month, voters flipped both houses of the Legislature from Republican to Democrat and elected a Democratic senator and additional US House member. Montanans elected a Democrat for governor, turned the state Senate Democratic, and may end up with a 50-50 state House. A legal challenge will determine whether that chamber will be split or narrowly controlled by Republicans after 12 years of GOP dominance.

Bush barely won Nevada, with 50 percent of the vote, and winning in landslides were Democrats Harry Reid, the incoming Senate minority leader, and Shelley Berkley, the incumbent US representative. Both New Mexico and Arizona have Democratic governors, and Democrats are even hopeful that Wyoming, which elected a Democratic governor in 2002, might be turning a bit less Republican.
Environmental issues, activists and Democratic officials said, could be critical in forging winning Democratic campaigns, but only if those matters are framed as quality-of-life questions. While many Westerners may oppose significant government regulation, they also are wary of losing the open space and pristine environment that drew many of them to the region, said Billy Sparks, deputy chief of staff for communications for Bill Richardson, Democratic governor of New Mexico. He said a poll this summer showed that fewer than a fourth of New Mexicans, and fewer than half of the state's Republicans, support oil and gas drilling in the Otero Mesa Area.

Senator-elect Ken Salazar and Representative-elect John Salazar, Democrats from Colorado who are brothers, built public support for their campaigns by defending water rights in the Rocky Mountain state. Environmentalists say other Democrats can win in the West if they emphasize similar issues.
A very useful and informative article. If Democrats present themselves as the rugged individualists who support free speech and liberty from the tentacles of a bunch of Bible-thumping behavior-monitors, they have a ready-made audience in the west. Combining that message with opposition to Republican budget deficits and anti-ecological attacks on the quality of life and hunting could yield a winning formula for our party in places like New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and even Montana. Some hopeful gains have been made on the state level, even in an otherwise disastrous election like the one we had last month.

Something to build on.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

WHO IS GIVING WHAT? -- This story gives a pretty good rundown of which countries and international agencies are donating to the Indian Ocean earthquake/tsunami disaster relief and what they are donating. The European Union, Norway, Japan, and Saudi Arabia appear to be the most generous.

APPLE IS ALSO -- doing the right thing.

GOOGLE IS DOING -- the right thing.

CAN IT BE TRUE? -- The United Nations is now estimating that the death toll from the Indian Ocean earthquake/tsunami is heading above 100,000.
The UN said there were now strong grounds to believe that the toll in the Sumatran province of Aceh, the worst affected area, would be as high as 80,000.
Eighty thousand! Just in Aceh! Mind-boggling.

PITY THE CHILDREN -- Well, at least the white children.

THERE IS NO END IN SIGHT -- to the soaring death toll from the Indian Ocean earthquake/tsunami. The latest death toll estimate is 76,000.
Concerns are already rising that a shortage of clean drinking water and medicine could bring a new wave of fatalities.

"We are afraid that there could be an outbreak of gastroenteric diseases because of poor sanitation and the environment," said Mariani Reksoprodjo, a spokeswoman for Indonesia's Ministry of Health.
Survivors in Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka complained of the slow pace of national and international relief efforts, news agencies reported. But relief organizations said that given the scale of the devastation across a dozen countries, they were facing what amounted to the largest relief effort in history.
We are, unfortunately, witness to one of the great natural calamities in at least 100 years.

THE BANDIT'S NFL POWER POLL -- Only one more week in the regular season, but its not too late to shake up the world’s most prestigious power poll. We have a new top three for the first time in months and with three teams in the top eight, we can now officially call the AFC East the best division in football—by far.

01. Pittsburgh Steelers [14-1]: Everyone assumes the team MVP is Ben Roethlisberger, but what about Jerome “100-yard game” Bettis? [No change]

02. New England Patriots [13-2]: Pats continue their domination of the Jets by shutting down TB Curtis Martin and confusing QB Chad Pennington. {+1]

03. Indianapolis Colts [12-3]: Eight straight wins and another milestone for QB Peyton Manning has Indy thinking Super Bowl. [+1]

04. Philadelphia Eagles [13-2]: On autopilot until mid-January. [-2]

05. San Diego Chargers [11-4]: Good sign: Took the Colts to overtime in Indianapolis. Bad sign: Had game won, couldn’t finish. [No change]

06. Atlanta Falcons [10-5]: Not a threat to beat anyone without Michael Vick. [No change]

07. Buffalo Bills [9-6]: Playing as well or better than any team in the NFL over the last six weeks. [+1]

08. New York Jets [10-5]: Owned by Bill Belichick. [-1]

09. Carolina Panthers [7-8]: John Fox deserves serious consideration for Coach of the Year. Seriously. [[+6]

10. Kansas City Chiefs [7-8]: Even without a defense these guys would probably win three of the four divisions in the NFC. [+1]

11. Green Bay Packers [9-6]: Three straight division championships despite total lack of defense. [+1]

12. Denver Broncos [9-6]: Jake Plummer’s best game as a pro coincidentally comes against a team that plays no defense. [+1]

13. Jacksonville Jaguars [8-7]: Hideous choke-job against Houston will probably cost the Jags a playoff spot. [-4]

14. Baltimore Ravens [8-7]: Take heart Redskins fans: At least these jerks won’t be making the playoffs. [-4]

15. Cincinnati Bengals [7-8]: If Marvin Lewis ever builds a defense in Cincinnati he could win a Super Bowl with this team. [+1]

16. Seattle Seahawks [8-7]: Winning the NFC West is rather like winning the last game of shuffle board on the Titanic. [+1]

17. New Orleans Saints [7-8]: Saving Jim Haslett’s job is like smoking low-tar cigarettes: You’re just prolonging the agony. [+1]

18. Houston Texans [7-8]: Slowly improving. [+1]

19. Minnesota Vikings [8-7]: Choking losers who might make the playoffs. [-5]

20. St. Louis Rams [7-8]: Radical experiment with something called “the forward run” yields great results on Monday night. [+6]

21. Dallas Cowboys [6-9]: Needs to schedule more games against Vanderbilt and Washington. [+1]

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers [5-10]: Jon Gruden’s record since winning the Super Bowl is 12-19. [-1]

23. Washington Redskins [5-10]: Choking losers who won’t make the playoffs. [-3]

24. Oakland Raiders [5-10]: This will be the 4th time a team coached by Norv Turner won six or fewer games in a season and the 7th time in eight years that a Norv Turner-coached team has missed the playoffs. [-1]

25. Tennessee Titans [5-10]: Couldn’t beat the Grand Ole Opry singers in a game of touch football right now. [-1]

26. Arizona Cardinals [5-10]: Draft a good running back and you might actually have a team here. [-1]

27. Detroit Lions [6-9]: So you beat the Bears. What do you want, a medal? [No change]

28. Miami Dolphins [4-11]: So you beat the Browns. What do you want, a medal. [No change]

29. New York Giants [5-10]: Losers of eight straight games, but Eli has shown a bit of life the past two games. [+1]

30. Chicago Bears [5-10]: Finishing the season pretty much where they started it. [-1]

31. San Francisco 49ers [2-13]: All this team needs on offense is a new QB, new TB, a new wideout and about three new linemen. Oh, and a new head coach would help, too. [No change]

32. Cleveland Browns [3-12]: Terry Robiskie, just say no to the next interim head coaching job. [No change]

RED GOES BLUE -- At least it does in Montana. A bit of good news coming out of the mostly awful 2004 elections is that the state government of Montana--previously a hardcore red state--has been taken over by the Democratic party.
The Montana Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a decision that determined a disputed legislative race was tied, likely giving Democrats control of the state House of Representatives.

The 6-1 decision threw out a lower court ruling from earlier this month that seven contested ballots had properly been counted for Constitution Party candidate Rick Jore.

The high court declared "one or more" contested ballots in the tied race invalid. Throwing out even one of those ballots means the vote tally swings to Democrat Jeanne Windham, the Supreme Court said.

That, in turn, creates a 50-50 tie between Republicans and Democrats in the House and means the next House speaker likely will be from the party of Democratic Gov.-elect Brian Schweitzer. The party that controls the governor's office in Montana breaks ties in electing House speakers.
Democrats hold a majority of seats in the Montana Senate as well.
Yeah, you read that correctly. The Democratic party now controls every branch of government in Montana. Coupled with gains the party made in Colorado, taking over the legislature for the first time in more than 40 years, it appears the party has a bit of hope in parts of the west that don't abut the Pacific Ocean.

I CAN'T GET EXCITED -- about who is going to be the new chief of the DNC. Folks over at Daily Kos and MyDD continue to report/comment on that issue breathlessly, but I just don't care that much. I suppose it'll matter to a certain extent, but I think the importance of the position is being vastly overstated. I could note, if I was of a mind to, that Daily Kos and MyDD are also sites famous for their love of the Howard Dean candidacy. Mr Dean is currently seeking the top job at the DNC. I could speculate, if I was of a mind to, that this DNC election is regarded by many Deaniacs as a form of redemption for Mr Dean, after his primary loss to Senator Kerry.

Just a thought, of course, if I was of a mind to think such things.