The Weblog of
Kevin C. Murphy


Conjuring Political, Cinematic, Cultural, and Athletic Arcana since the End of the Last Century


"To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered."
- Voltaire


Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson

Remotely Queued
Reinventing Comics, Scott McCloud
The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Thomas Friedman
The Journey From Here, Bill Bradley


Little Nicky (4.5/10)

Visions Past
Book of Shadows (3/10)
Bedazzled (5/10)
Visions to Come
Requiem for a Dream


All That You Can't Leave Behind, U2

In the Mode, Roni Size/Reprazent

OVO Millennium Show, Peter Gabriel

Girl, The Beatles
Flash's Theme, Queen
Love will tear us apart, Joy Division

11/13/00 - Trailers released this weekend include the (spoiler-)full trailer for Cast Away and the teaser for The Mummy Returns. And, in happy news, the Fellowship trailer may be shown before Thirteen Days. Meet Joe Black redux?

In the meantime, yesterday's NYT Magazine offered a quick glimpse of Fellowship filming, with a picture that looks to be the Riders of Rohan.

Great goodwill sale at the DC Convention Center this past weekend. I picked up a ridiculous number of sci-fi/fantasy paperbacks for $0.90 a pop (most of which I read as a teen), including the entire Riverworld series, the Myth series by Robert Aspirin, David Edding's Belgariad, the Dune books, David Wingrove's Chung-Kuo septology (haven't read these yet), and the entire Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, along with a host of novels by Tom Robbins, Tom Wolfe, Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, etc. etc. Looks like I'm set for reading material for some time to come.

Ho-hum. Election madness continues unabated. It's gotten so bad that (no lie) when my alarm went off at 7:30 am this morning, my half-asleep brain told me, "That's not the official count. It's actually earlier...go back to sleep."

I thought Steve at Now This broke down the issues very succinctly, and in today's post I'll aspire to his example. Since I'm sure everybody and their mother is sick to death of this story, I'll try to keep it as short (yeah, right.)

The butterfly ballots were definitely poorly designed, but I'm not sure how you can count the Buchanan votes without opening a Pandora's Box of questionable voting issues around the country.

I also think it's a disservice for Palm Beach County activists to be using the language of disenfranchisement to explain the Palm Beach Buchanan votes. If (and where) African-Americans or other citizens were intimidated against casting their ballot in Florida or otherwise given the runaround, that's disenfranchisement. Not being able to figure out an admittedly confusing yet still readily understandable ballot is NOT disenfranchisement. It's an unfortunate mistake, but not a malicious one.

Ok, ok, I get where they're coming from...we're talking about very elderly people who have voted a certain way their entire lives and were now expected to figure out a different process. And Lord knows if I've learned one thing this election cycle it's that we must cater all of our electoral politics to the whims of the elderly. Nevertheless, I don't have all that much sympathy. Haven't you ever heard of checking your work? Or, Heaven forbid, asking for another ballot if you screwed yours up? Look, I know how bad I'd feel if I discovered after the fact that (a) I voted for the wrong guy and (b) it might make all the difference, but it's totally unfeasible to build into the system a way for people to change their votes after they've seen the nationwide results. I think the butterfly ballots should be ensconced somewhere as an example of really lousy design, but otherwise taken off the table.

As for the manual recounts, I think they should either (a) occur in every Florida county or (b) not happen at all. Again, I understand that the Gore team did their homework and got their motions in on time and that the Bush team did not. But, we're not talking about a state senator's race here. Given the office in question, I think a judge should either (a) forbid the 4-county recount or (b) waive the deadline that the Bushies missed and allow a state-wide manual recount. It's ridiculous for the Gore team to talk about the will of the people, and then use "Nyah-Nyah" deadline legalisms to kill a state-wide recount.

Not the Bush team looks any better, of course. I don't think they're out of bounds in preparing for a transition - after all, if Dubya does end up winning this puppy, I'd much rather have him overprepared than underprepared. But they shouldn't be going around saying there have been two counts and they won them both, therefore Gore should concede, when they know good and well that the absentee ballots still need to be counted.

It's obviously too much to ask that either side aspire to some modicum of statesmanship at this point. Nevertheless, the ugliness of this Florida situation is getting to me. Like most of America, I suppose, I'm sickened by the rabid partisanship of these two teams, and the way they are so obviously trying to couch their self-interested arguments in terms of principle (do we really think so many Dems would be talking about the supremacy of the popular vote or the GOP the wisdom of the Founders if the situation had been reversed?)

The only thing sustaining my interest in this ugly affair at this point are some of the really juicy ironies afoot. Dubya appeals to Federal courts while Gore looks to the state. Gore the technocrat no longer trusts machines, while Bush the people person doesn't want humans counting votes. A Chicago Daley complains vociferously about voting fraud. Warren Christopher and James Baker, the men sent to so many third world hot spots in the past, are dispatched to the Banana Republic of Florida to oversee the election results. I don't want to start any blasphemous rumors, but I think that God's got a sick sense of humor...

Well, so much for brevity. Never was my bag anyway, I suppose. In the meantime, Florida Nader voters are unrepentant.

Much thanks to Kestrel's Nest, Misnomer, and Following Eden for the very kind words.

11/9/00 - BREAKING NEWS! The 43rd President has been announced and it is...Lex Luthor? Probably means trouble for Superman (Via Random Walks.)

The Gore campaign requests a redress of voting irregularities, including the Palm Beach butterfly ballot vote. Meanwhile, Pat Buchanan says the Palm Beach votes are Gore's. I now officially have no idea who's going to end up winning this thing, except to say that whomever does will have zero mandate. And I think it's a safe bet that more Americans will be joining the swelling ranks of the Disillusioned Party.

Seemingly unperturbed by the legal wrangling ahead, Dubya begins the transition. Possible appointments leaked include Colin Powell as Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice as National Security Advisor, and former Transportation Secretary Andrew Card as Chief of Staff.

It seems the rest of the world has some choice words on our fubar election. Some of these are pretty funny, and telling.

It's getting stranger - While the recount chaos swirls in Florida, the GOP consider Iowa and Wisconsin recounts. Meanwhile, Oregon and New Mexico are stll counting the first time around.

Mickey Kaus explores a possible Lieberman gambit whereby Dems control the Senate and the Presidency (assuming wins by Gore and Cantwell.) Neat idea, but I think the chances of it coming to pass are roughly zero.

Maureen Dowd weighs in: The most banal race in history has produced the most electrifying election in history, with the presidency dancing on the head of a pin for mere handfuls of votes, precisely because the matched set of dauphins were so inadequate and indistinct that they were preordained to collide on the runway.

Dems declare war on Nader...How unbelievably ignorant. And even Senator-Elect Clinton got in on the act, suggesting (in jest) that "killing" Nader might not be a bad idea. Amazing how all of the myriad factors for Gore's presumed defeat can somehow be boiled down by some to Nader's candidacy (see yesterday's post).

I can't speak for all Nader voters, but I can speak as a Nader voter, and the fact of the matter is that Ralph Nader spoke to the issues and ideals that most concern me as a citizen. Call me a crazy radical Lefty, but I'm more concerned with the vast amounts of money permeating and polluting our political process than I am about whether or not elderly voters can get their drugs on the cheap. And, yes, the issue of character was a factor too. Given a false choice between two desperate, inadequate fortunate sons grasping to escape their fathers' shadows, I chose instead to pick a man who'd devoted his entire life really fighting for the people of this nation. In sum, given the candidates on the ballot, I believe Nader was - and is - the best choice.

But - and this is what the Goreites just can't seem to understand - had Nader not been on the ballot and this had been a two-man race, I still would not have voted for Gore. I would have abstained in the Presidential race and voted solely for local and congressional candidates and ballot initiatives. Meaning that, at least in my case, Nader is not responsible for my not voting for Gore. Al Gore lost my vote before Nader ever won it.

The day I knew I'd never vote for Al Gore was when he chose to insinuate to a minority audience that Bill Bradley was out to hurt them. But that's not the only reason. Gore lost my vote when he threatened Americans in the most Republican way imaginable that Bradley was a closet (gasp!) liberal who was really out to raise their taxes. Gore lost my vote when he invoked the same type of anti-intellectualism against Bradley that Dubya used as the centerpiece of his campaign. Gore lost my vote when he decided to pick Rockefeller Republican Joe Lieberman as his running mate, and when he chose to run a center-right campaign (notwithstanding the occasional lapse into old-school populist rhetoric, an ideological stance Gore did almost nothing but pay lip service to) aimed primarily at bribing upper-middle-class elderly citizens to vote for him. Gore lost my vote when I discovered his record in Tennessee was about as good-ole-boy conservative as you'll find. Gore lost my vote when he illustrated over and over again that he's exactly the type of condescending, self-absorbed, sanctimonious, unprincipled chump change that I don't want the average American to associate with the Democratic party or the Progressive movement.

Now, I don't know the reasons why other Nader voters chose to vote the way they did. But, as I said yesterday, I do know that those 91,000 Nader voters in Florida knew how close the race between Gore and Bush was in their state. I also know that they must have known that Gore was on the ballot, that they thought through their various choices, and for whatever reason they chose to vote Nader instead of Gore. These votes are not Gore's by holy writ. If the Dems wanted those 91,000 votes, they should have found a better way to reach those voters. End of story.

I get the sense I'm repeating myself now, so I'll close this particular rant down. But I sincerely hope the lesson the Democrats take from this election, win or lose, is that they need to do a better job of listening and appealing to their left flank. As a Nader voter in 2000, I fully hope and expect to vote Democratic in the next Presidential election, if I feel the party has put up a progressive candidate that speaks to the issues that move me. If, on the other hand, the Dems continue to throw up mealy-mouthed center-right losers like Gore to carry the party standard, and/or continue to attack and deride Nader as the main reason they lost (or almost lost) this race, I can guarantee that they'll only succeed in further - and, perhaps permanently - alienating me and many other members of the Nader vote, to say nothing of the 50% of Americans who have already disengaged from the process.

Leather Egg also argues against the Blame Nader movement today, in a much more coherent and dispassionate fashion. And Cluttered points out this excellent analysis on the same question. What they said.

11/8/00 - On Boys and Ballet, with comment from my sister's boyfriend Ethan.

Gore wisely chooses to abide by the Electoral College.

As expected, the Gore hacks have started blaming Nader, and leading the charge is Crossfire's Bill Press. In a column devoted in part to abolishing the Electoral College (and you gotta wonder if he would have pulled the trigger on that particular sentiment if the candidates' situations had been reversed), Press writes: "[Nader] succeeded in destroying the Democratic Party and, perhaps, denying Al Gore the White House. And, of course, if that happens, everything that Nader supposedly supports -- environmental protection, worker safety, consumer protection, a woman's right to choose -- would be systematically destroyed by a Bush administration. After eight years of progress, America may suddenly go backward under President George W. Bush. If so, don?t blame Al Gore. Blame Ralph Nader."

Man, that is so ridiculous. As if the entire fabric of the Democratic Party and the progressive movement will be "systematically destroyed" by four years of Dubya and a deadlocked Congress. (If anything, it'll probably help rally the Left.) And as if Nader is anywhere close to the primary reason why Al Gore couldn't defeat a joker like Dubya (see below).

Those desperately needing something to look forward to over the next four years may be heartened to see Corona score these mysterious teaser posters for the forthcoming Lord of the Rings trilogy.

According to CNN, the extra ballot box was filled with supplies, not votes. I think you can put this one in the fridge.

The Oedipal defeat: Jacob Weisberg ruminates on why Gore (probably) lost. I don't entirely agree with his assessment, but it is nice to read a Gore post-mortem that makes no attempt to blame Nader.

Well, I still think Bush has won it, but a friend of mine just keyed me in to a fact that might make all the difference. Aside from the aforementioned extra ballot box, he noted that the overseas ballots won't entirely be military personnel (whom I assume will trend GOP), but also Jewish expatriates dual-residing in Israel and Florida, who would no doubt gravitate toward Gore-Lieberman. I doubt there's much chance the latter would outweigh the former, but especially this year, you never know. Update: From a Post story on the recount, "About 1,000 Florida voters live in Israel and many can be expected to have supported the Democratic ticket."

An extra ballot box is found in a Florida church, in a predominantly African-American and West Indian neighborhood. Interesting...I wonder how many votes these boxes hold.

So how was your evening? I finally went to bed around 5am. Every time I was about to call it a night, some other bizarre, unprecedented, and historic political moment would burst onto the stage. I must say, I was also transfixed by the increasing incapacity of the telepundits to grapple with last night's electoral maelstrom. Gripping stuff, and no doubt one for the History books.

Before I recap, I should note that the current scenario is definitely the worst possible scenario I can imagine. Dubya wins the White House (At the risk of looking like an idiot, I'm going to go ahead and assume he wins the recount on Thursday), but - since Al won the popular vote - Gore's going to be angling to be the "comeback" Democratic Presidential nominee in 2004. The upside of a Bush victory was that the Vice-President would be forever removed as a future contender for the Democratic candidacy, paving the way for (hopefully) a more Progressive (and less overbearing) nominee in the next election. Now, we'll have to put up with Bush for four years, AND we probably have to assume that Gore's going to want another crack at the post in 2004. No bones about it, this is a nightmare. Hopefully, the party will realize by next time around that Bush didn't win this election so much as Gore lost it.

On the popular v. electoral split, I do think that any attempt by the Democrats to question or even try and overturn the Electoral College would be extraordinarily ill-advised. I suspect there'll be a lot of hubbub about some kind of constitutional fix in the days to come, but I still think that overall the Electoral College system works and should be maintained.

Now, a word to the Dems and Progessives out there who are packing their bags for a four-year out-of-country sojourn. As I've said here numerous times before, a Dubya presidency may end up being a very good thing for the Dems, particularly in the midst of such even-sided congressional gridlock. Barring bizarre circumstances (such as Impeachment in 1998), the party out of Executive power almost always picks up Congressional seats in the midterm election. So, instead of falling further behind in Congress in 2002 under a Gore presidency, now there'll be an opportunity to pick up seats - and possibly majorities - in 2002 under a Dubya administration.

And, as John Judis noted in this TNR piece, we're looking at a Jimmy Carter situation here. We have a genial Southern governor who ran as an outsider and won an extremely close race against a Vice President who royally screwed up in the debates and who carries baggage from his predecessor's scandal. Furthering the analogy, Bush won this election on an issue terrain that favors the Democrats...this hegemony of center-left issues - health care, education, etc. - doesn't look to change anytime soon. So, basically, the stage is set for a Democratic revolution in 2004 the likes of which rivals the Reagan landslide of 1980. (That is, again - I can't stress this enough - if Gore doesn't screw it all up by trying to perp a Comeback Kid scenario.)

Fat lot of good that does me now, one might say, if Dubya destroys the country over the next four years. Well, I don't have a crystal ball, but I just don't see that happening. Ok, Bush might owe the Right a favor or two, but he's no Reagan ideologue - he's a goofy, bumbling moderate. And it's not like he can get anything too crazy passed in such a deadlocked Congress anyway.

And as for the whole ubiquitous Supreme Court, end of choice canard, I just don't think it adds up, for the following reasons:

  1. Bush has basically said in as many words that this is an "issue where good people disagree" and that he's not inclined to try and overturn Roe v. Wade.
  2. In a primary election where running Right would (and eventually did) secure the nomination, Bush repeatedly refused to endorse a pro-life litmus test.
  3. Dubya's judicial appointments in Texas are moderates who, if anything, have moved the Texas Court left.
  4. If you take away Clinton's 2 appointments - Breyer and Ginsburg, all of the other 7 Supreme Court justices were appointed by Republicans. If the right-wing pro-life zealots had that much sway over Republican Presidents, Roe v. Wade would already be overturned.
  5. Dubya's not a smart man, but he's not stupid. As George Stephanopoulos noted last night, appointing a judge that would overturn Roe v. Wade would be political suicide for him and the GOP.
  6. The judges most likely to step down include Scalia and Rehnquist.

To be sure, Dubya isn't going to nominate any left-leaning judicial activist types to the bench (although there's no telling how a justice will vote once his seat is secured), but, let's face it - Gore wouldn't have either.

A few other thoughts that come to mind:

I've already gotten some recriminating remarks from folks around the office that the loss in Florida - and thus the nation - is "all Nader's fault." As the argument goes, if Nader had never existed, than a lion's share of his 96,701 votes would have gone to Gore.

Perhaps so. But that in no way makes Gore's loss Nader's fault. Every voter in Florida - and particularly the ones who voted Nader - knew by virtue of media saturation how remarkably close the election was in Florida. If 96,701 people decided to vote Nader instead of Gore, well that's the decision they came to. Those votes are not Gore's by mandate, and to say so is a ridiculously anti-democratic proposition. If Gore wanted them, perhaps he should have spoken more to the issues that compelled those 96,701 citizens to vote the way they did.

Besides, when you're talking about a 2000 vote margin, there are so many other factors to consider. Perhaps the Dems should blame the President for turning off 2000 retirees with his adulterous shenanigans. Perhaps the Dems should blame Gore's campaign staff for not scheduling one more event somewhere in the state, or Gore's ground team for not shaking out a few more precincts that morning for 2000 votes. Perhaps the Dems should blame Elian Gonzalez for turning off 2000 Miamians to the Clinton-Gore administration, or Janet Reno for choosing to conduct the INS raid that probably cost at least 2000 votes in Florida. Or perhaps the Dems should blame Al Gore for being an incompetent candidate and an insufferable ass.

In other news, I was pleased to see Proposition 36 pass in California. The bill mandates treatment - rather than jail time - for nonviolent drug offenders. Who knows? Given his checkered past, perhaps Dubya can pull a Nixon-in-China and be the guy who finally pulls the plug on the War on Drugs. Given his strange predilection for executions, though, I seriously doubt it.

By the way, thanks to Pearl, Medley, and Leather for the kind words of late. I really appreciate them.

To visit the Archives, click here!

Main Page/Family/Links/Gallery/Biography/Soapbox/Resume/Writings