Fall Colors

I haven’t been contacted lately by the local Democrats, probably because the 32nd District is very safe.  Nevertheless, I have already been the (relatively) unwilling recipient of KE04 bumper stickers and yard signs, which languish—undisplayed—in my closet.  Now, I don’t question the marketing doctrine which shows that such advertising has a positive effect; I’m quite sure it does.  But it does so in a completely irrational manner; many people (consciously or not) simply want to vote for the popular candidate, whomever they perceive that to be.  This is basic marketing, and I would hope that any competent campaign targeting an electorate any larger than that of a local precinct would exploit it.  I cannot bring myself to participate in it, however, for reasons that approximate personal ethics.  You see, my reaction to simple bumper stickers and yard signs is to raise my hackles; how dare you imply that I should vote for someone just because a forest of colorful bunting confronts me every day as I commute to and from work.  There’s no argument, no persuasion; just, "Vote with us because we’re a big mob."  It offends my sense of civic duty.  So while I hope the swing states are carpeted in KE04 blue, our yard will devote its space to more seasonally appropriate displays and my car’s bumper will reserve its blind alliegance for a more deserving cause.


Do As I Say

Here they are: Eric’s endorsements for the general election on Tuesday 02 November 2004.  Note that not every ballot selection carries an explicit endorsement; some choices were made less than rigorously.

We live in a republic, not a democracy.  We elect representatives to make our laws for us so we can get on with more immediate issues, such as following professional sports.  As a general rule, therefore, initiatives should be considered attempts by special interest groups to hijack the legislature, and referenda should be considered attempts by craven legislators to delegate their job duties to amateurs, all at the taxpayers’ expense.  I don’t know what the fuck an "Advisory Measure" is, but it sounds like a publicly-financed opinion poll.  Absent extreme overriding concerns, therefore, the dutiful citizen should vote NO on all initiatives, referenda, and ballot measures.

  • Initiative 872:  Yes
    This initiative, born of an infantile reaction to the elimination of the Washington’s First-Amendment-violating blanket primary, is the worst of all the primary election options yet proposed.  Nevertheless, I hope it passes because I believe the major parties when they say that if I-872 passes, they’ll pull out of primaries altogether and nominate their candidates in conventions, which is how it should be.
  • Initiative 884:  No
    This initiative is endorsed by all the right people and opposed by all the right people, and I very rarely say no to increased public school funding.  However, it also makes use of two of the worst blights upon Washington politics: sales tax and dedicated funding.  Sales tax is horribly regressive and Washington’s is already the highest in the nation.  I am sympathetic to the Leninist argument that "the worse, the better," i.e, that we should make the system worse so that the people will support revolutionary change; therefore, we should increase sales tax in order to improve the climate for the obvious solution: dumping sales tax altogether and adopting a state income tax.  Such sympathy, however, does not exceed that I extend to those in lower tax brackets whose disposable income will be eroded over the years until the Glorious Revolution.  Dedicated funding is just as benighted.  What’s next, submitting the state budget to referenda?
  • Initiative 892:  No
    Lower property taxes, more slot machines, Tim Eyman completes his political comeback; no thanks.
  • Referendum 55:  No
    I Public School Bureaucrats.
  • Initiative 297:  Yes
    What’s the worst that could happen—all our nuke waste jobs are outsourced to Nevada?
  • King County Charter Amendment, Question 1:  No
    Gridlock good, Tim Eyman bad.
  • King County Charter Amendment, Question 2:  1B
  • King County Advisory Measure 1:  Don’t ask me.
  • King County Advisory Measure 2:  Dock the pay of whoever let this crap get on the ballot.
  • President/Vice-President of the United States:  Treebeard/Pippin
  • United States Senator:  It’s Pat.
    Patty Murray is as dumb as a post and her voting record is undistingushed.  Doesn’t matter a damn; this is about blocking Evil judicial appointments and restoring gridlock to Congress, and Murray is a loyal Democratic lickspittle.
  • Congressional District No. 7 U.S. Representative:  Baghdad Jim
    I voted for Joe Szwaja in 2000 out of pure anti-incumbency pique.  McDermott’s got one of the safest Democratic seats in the House, and four years ago I thought he might be in danger of becoming too lazy and comfortable.  Whether his trip to Baghdad in the Winter of 2003 was a luxury that only a politician with a safe seat could indulge or a genuine response to the relatively strong showing by Szwaja, I think it was a tactical error.  Nevertheless, McDermott was one of the very few people in (the other) Washington who clearly, forcefully, and timely spoke out against the Administration’s fear-mongering after 9/11 (even if he should have done so from the Capitol steps rather than the Baghdad Sheraton).
  • Governor of Washington:  Sherbie
    With a divided and spineless state legislature, a visionary governor might be able make major improvements.  Unfortunately, Locke has done little but ape the worst of Clintonism’s pro-corporate centrism, surrendering the initiative (pun unfortunately intended) for statewide reform to the likes of Tim Eyman.  On the major state-level issues that motivate my vote (tax reform, gay marriage) Locke’s administration has been a whistling void of leadership.  I have seen nothing from the State Democrats to challenge the impression that Gregoire will be more of the same.  I even have philosophical reservations about Gregoire’s one signature achievement, her participation in the tobacco settlement; it was a terribly paternalistic precedent to set, everything that I hate about contemporary liberalism.  I’ve been searching high and low for something about Rossi that is so vile that I would be compelled to vote for Gregoire, but I haven’t found it.  So I’m going with Sherbie.
  • Lieutenant Governor:  Take This Job And Abolish It
    Jocelyn Langlois promises to do away with this bucket-of-warm-piss job, and I concur.
  • Secretary of State:  Sam the Eagle
    Sam Reed fought to keep the puerile blanket primary, but there’s no question that when he did so he was following the will of his constituents.  On the other hand, he understands the need for ballot paper trails.
  • State Treasurer:  Sherbie
  • State Auditor:  Sherbie
  • Attorney General:  The Owl Lady
    Deborah Senn sees through the cant that passes under the name "tort reform" and recognizes if for the corporate payoff that it is.  More importantly, she has the right enemies.
  • Commissioner of Public Lands:  The Tree Hugger
  • Superintendent of Public Instruction:  Dump the WASL
    Judith Billings is agin’ the WASL, Terry Bergeson is fer it.  Vote for Judy.
  • Insurance Commissioner:  Deborah Senn II
  • State Legislative District No. 32, Representative Position 1:  Eric Emme
    I never vote for unopposed candidates, unless I know them personally, which is the case with Emme.
  • State Legislative District No. 32, Representative Position 2:  Eric Emme
  • State Supreme Court, Position 1:  Not Jim Johnson
  • State Supreme Court, Position 5:  Sherbie
  • State Supreme Court, Position 6:  Not Richard Sanders
    Some people say Sanders "energizes" the judiciary.  I used to think the same thing about Antonin Scalia.
  • State Court of Appeals, Divsion No. 1, District No. 1:  Sherbie
  • King County Superior Court, Position 23:  Andrea Darvis
  • King County Superior Court, Position 42:  Catherine Moore


Margin of Litigation, cont'd

Mark asks for a clarification:

What is your actual prediction on this topic?  That the networks won't announce a winner?  That there will be enough uncertainty that a significant number of people expect the election-night results to be overturned?  Or just that some lawsuits will be filed and a few will hem and haw a bit?  Or are you talking about just non-specific further disillusionment with the electoral college?

The last two seem likely, the first two not so much.

While some networks might be more hesitant than they have in the past, I’m sure they’ll all declare a winner; there’s no ratings in agnosticism.  I’m convinced that a "significant" number of people will expect election-night results to be overturned; Bush v. Gore exposed too many previously-unexamined flaws in our election regularity, and every report since then has indicated that it’s just gotten worse.  Add this to widespread perception of both parties engaging in "dirty tricks," and you’ve got an electorate ready to (dis)believe anything.  More than a few suits will certainly be filed; I’m sure both parties targeted likely districts long ago (Any Democrats hiring paralegals/legal assistants in King/Snohomish Counties?).  Further disillusionment with the Electoral College will just be a bonus.

The systematic obstacle to litigating as many results as possible is that there is a financial cost.  And some amount of public ridicule, which will vary with perceptions of legitimacy.  I think the cost of doing so twice in a row will be high enough that it's unlikely for the Dems to do it again unless they're pretty sure they'll win.  The Patricians may try it, hoping the "turnabout's fair play" defense outweighs the hypocrisy of doing so after screaming about losers who try to l[itig]ate elections.

Of course the cost of litigation limits its employment, but I’m sure the parties have come to consider it a "cost of doing business" and will spend the money where it will have the greatest effect.  What has changed is the public perception of the propriety of post-election litigation.  I’m a bit startled by the version of events of the 2000 election implied by the characterization, "the Dems … do[ing] it again."  It takes a pretty blinkered perspective to conclude that the 2000 election would have acceptably sorted itself out had the Democrats not committed the breach of submitting it to litigation.  I’m not aware of anyone outside the Republican base who believes that, and I’m not aware of anyone inside the Republican base who would let (the perception of) hypocrisy prevent them from engaging in similar litigation where they thought they would benefit from it.  As lamentable as it may be, we have "defined [electoral] deviancy down."

I think it'll (continue to) be fairly uncommon for there to be a serious amount of uncertainty regarding the next president beyond election night.  If I were to wager, I'd go as high as 5:1 against, if we could come up with some working definition of "serious uncertainty".

Sounds like whistling past the graveyard (vote) to me.

Margin of Litigation

I have received more than one invitation to attend Election Night gatherings this November, both with and without alcoholic celebration/consolation, but I fear I may have to decline them all.  Not only am I no longer in a position, as I have been in the past, to defer my responsibilities for the day after, I also stand by my prediction that the time when the outcome of Presidential elections (and probably many others) could be definitively determined on the same day that the last votes were cast are over.  Whether we ever iron out controversies over voting methods and fraud, there appears to be no systemic obstacle to litigating as many results as possible.  The only thing that will be clear on Wednesday 03 November 2004 is that there has got to be a better way of doing this.



Anyone who decries the "slimy tactics" and "politics of fear" employed by the Bush campaign should be taken equally aback by the spreading of rumors that a second Bush Administration will re-instate the draft.  No one connected with the Administration has ever indicated that a draft would be necessary, and military planners all agree that draftees make dramatically poorer troops than volunteers.  Advocates of "raising the level" of political discourse should remind Bush opponents that rumors of a return of the draft are objectively baseless and appeal to the most primitive political reflexes.  Of course, I endorse such rumor-mongering completely.

The first reason to engage in such tactics is that the Bushies won’t let themselves be bound by delicate notions of honesty or ethics.  In the more than 20 years I have been observing politics, the Republicans have only grown more shameless, while Democrats have occasionally experimented with "taking the high road."  Ask Michael Dukakis and Paul Tsongas how that worked out.  The American electorate has had plenty of opportunities to reward politicians who abjure pandering, negative ads, and propaganda, and it has consistently failed to do so.  Instead of employing campaign tactics for an electorate I would like to have, I would rather target the electorate we actually have.

The other reason to circulate draft rumors is that, while objectively false, they evoke emotional responses that correspond to a deeper truth.  The Bush Administration has repeatedly denied a need for the draft, but the most plausible scenario for a return of the draft would almost certainly be an ad hoc decision forced on the Administration well past the point of prudence.  Raising the issue of the draft focuses public attention on this failing of the Bush Administration in a way that is as accurate as it is effective: the government of George W. Bush is typified by incompetence and zealotry, and when its policies fail, rather than acknowledge reality its first response is to try to obscure its error by squandering American prestige, treasure, and blood.


The Recreational Is Political

John Holbo continues to wrestle with whether he should be worried that people who read books similar to the Left Behind series (a genre that has been called "ApocoLit") can distinguish Biblical prophecies from, say, reality TV.  Of course, this is the kind of condescension that does liberalism no favors, and Holbo owns up to the possibility that fundamentalist christians might be able to read Rapture porn and still participate in civil democracy no more impaired than closet nihilists like Grover Norquist.

One of Holbo’s commenters strikes home with the comparison to science fiction.  Can one read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress at least once every two years throughout adulthood and still support the Welfare Queen Party?  Why, yes.


Wait For It

It’s been my experience that even Google isn’t as fast with this sort of thing as one might like.  Besides, most slash writers are straight women, and I suspect they’re still too busy with Pippin and Treebeard.