Monday, November 22, 2004

November 21

Update: Nov. 20
From the CalTech Report Issued This Morning

Despite Internet-circulated speculation that Bush's victory was somehow rigged, the incumbent's clear margin in the popular vote is much wider than any of the problems reported to date -- voting technology failures, problems with provisional ballots or partisan shenanigans.

"We conclude that there is no evidence, based on exit polls, that electronic voting machines were used to steal the election for President Bush," researchers at the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said in a report based on early unofficial returns in Florida.

"Nationwide it looks like, regardless of the type of voting machines used, Bush was getting a faster mobilization of voters in traditionally Democratic areas than were the Democrats," said Charles Stewart III, a political science professor at MIT who specializes in American politics and research methodology.

Stewart said any Florida discrepancies between historic patterns and the Nov. 2 vote might be explained by nationwide trends -- for example, while Republicans easily won many rural and suburban areas, they also made impressive gains in urban areas.

Nov. 19
Election Deniers
My first order of business today is to have a word with the folks who keep sending me hand wringing emails explaining how we did not lose the election – we was robbed! There is, they huff, evidence of a massive GOP conspiracy to steal the election.

If I were Karl Rove I would do whatever I could to encourage just that kind of paranoia. I would spend a part of every morning emailing anonymous tips of vote fraud to the media. Because, the more Democrats believe they really won the better. After all, if you believe you didn’t lose but actually won, why look for the real reasons you lost?

Yes there were screw-ups and “irregularities” on Nov. 2, 2004 – as there have been in every election in US history. Remember Lyndon Johnson? Every permanent resident of a certain Texas cemetery voted for him once. And history has recorded that it was the Chicago Mafia that delivered Illinois for JFK.

I am not excusing vote fraud. I am just saying it’s nothing new. Have any US elections really been “stolen?” You bet -- the 2000 election. That election was lost not by counting fraudulent votes, but by not counting legal votes.

But this election was not stolen it was lost. Lost, lost, lost. Besides, massive voter fraud would have been obvious.

No you say, the race was razor close, and so they only had to steal a small number of votes to change the outcome. Ah, now you are on to something. The closeness of the race is a fact. Close -- so close that a handful of “stolen” votes could swing the result. So, instead of obsessing over the past election, turn your attentions to the next one. Do you want the next election to be that close too? If so continue wasting your time chasing phantom 2004 votes.

I’m not asking election deniers to get over it, just to get with it. If you folks keep chasing down vote fraud stories I can guarantee that you will keep discovering just enough “irregularities” to keep you busy for the next four years. What you will not find are solutions to what plagues the Democratic Party – why the margins were razor thin in the first place. And that will be just dandy with Karl Rove.

(Memo from Anonymous: Psssst… Have you checked out the Diebold machine on the Grassy Knoll yet? )

Debt Death Spiral
Ben “a penny saved” Franklin must have done calisthenics in his grave yesterday when the GOP-controlled House raised the national debt ceiling by a whopping $800 billion. That brings our national credit card debt – (YOUR debt) to a cerebral hemorrhage popping $8.18 trillion.

Trillion.. has a science fiction-ish ring to it. Eight trillion - a figure so expedously calafrafic it boggles attempts to get the average mind around it. Nevertheless, it’s real money and we owe every cent of it to somebody. So, you ask, just who the hell is lending Bush all this money?

China. That’s right China, and, to a lesser, but still large, extent, Japan. But the Chinese are have become the Saudi’s of Asia, thanks to liberal trade rules. The Chinese are lousy with dollars, which they had been investing in US bonds. But as the US budget deficit grows the dollar’s value sides, and as the dollar weakens confidence in it slides as well. The Chinese may be commies but they understand the relationship between capital and debt. They know that sooner or later US bonds they are holding are going to go down in value.. a process that has already begun. So they have stopped buying US bonds. (At the Sept. 9 bond auction China and Japan were no shows.)

China is not just shutting down its lending window to the US. During the first six months of this year Chinese businesses and private investors have dumped nearly $40 billion in dollar investments. The Chinese government itself is still sitting on just over half a trillion dollars in US debt and it is only a matter of time before they begin rolling that into either Yen or Euro bonds. The lack of interest in US bonds will force the US to pay higher and higher interest rates to attract foreign investors (lenders.) That in turn will result in higher consumer rates, a slide in stock prices as investors switch to bonds, higher interest rates will crater the real estate markets, which in turn will result in lower durable goods sales, which will result in layoffs… and so on -- the economic equivalent of a death spiral.

All this was a long-winded way of warning that over the next four years the US budget deficit – regardless of what Dick Cheney says – will matter. In fact, it will begin to matter more than anything else. Those of you old enough to remember ‘stagflation” will recognize what’s coming. Stagflation is when we have stagnant growth and rampant inflation. Stagflation hit in the late 1970s and early 1980s when Lyndon Johnson’s “guns and butter” Vietnam War policies came home to roost. Debt always comes home to roost.

The bottom line is debt always matters. It matters to families, companies and countries. Sooner or later the piper has to be paid. That day will arrive for the US during this Bush term as China, Japan and the EU mover away from the US dollar. But, don’t take too much satisfaction in the idea that Bush will finally have to confront failure. Reaganite supplysiders still refuse to own up to the damage done by the Reagan deficits. Bill Clinton and Bob Rubin filled that hole. No, Bush will not pay the price, you will --- and your kids, and their kids.

What about North Korea and Iran’s nukes? We could threaten them, but we don’t have the money to follow through – and they know it. Reform Social Security and fund Medicare? Ditto.

Sorry, Uncle Sam, your credit card has been refused.

For the record:

US Gov. Debt as of 19 Nov 2004:
$ 7 , 4 4 8 , 8 1 7 , 7 1 3 , 5 8 8 . 9 2
The estimated population of the United States is 294,839,742
so each citizen's share of this debt is $25,263.95.

The National Debt has continued to increase an average of
$1.60 billion per day since September 30, 2003!

No comments: