Return to Main Page | Ragout: November 2004
A Spicy Stew of Economics, Politics, Data, Food, Carpentry, etc.
Tuesday, November 30, 2004

More Depressing News From Iraq

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a comment on Crooked Timber about the Lancet study's estimate of violent death in Iraq:
The numbers I find fairly plausible are the figures for the post-war violent death rate. I think the authors’ definition of a household is less problematic over shorter time periods.

They don’t actually seem to report the violent death rate specifically, but some calculations show it to be 1.8 per 1000 (6 per 1000 with Falluja). Which translates to 44,000 per year (152,000 with Falluja). So, they’re pretty big numbers.

In the US, very high murder rates are something like 0.7 per 1000 (in places like Detroit in the early 1990s). So living in Iraq today seems to be something like living in the worst neighborhoods of Detroit, DC, or New Orleans during a high crime year.

So, even though I don’t believe the study’s pre-war figures, I think these are pretty depressing and believable numbers.
Today, Crooked Timber links to another depressing story from Iraq, about the soaring murder rate there:
“Our morgue was designed to cope with between five and ten bodies a day,” explained Kais Hassan, the harrassed statistician whose job it is to record the capital’s suspicious deaths. He gestured into the open door of a refrigeration unit at the stomach-turning sight of tangled corpses inside, male and female, shaded with the brown and green hues of death. “Now we’re getting 20 to 30 in here a day. It’s a disaster.”
This is just the latest in an endless series of these stories. The NY Times ran a good story a few months ago, and there have been many others. It seems like every reporter in Iraq pays a visit to the Baghdad morgue (but only a single visit).

The Baghdad figures, which count "suspicious deaths" that the morgue investigates as possible murders, provide a nice check of the Lancet numbers. The morgue numbers suggest a post-war suspicious death rate in Baghdad of 1.5 per 1000, double or triple the pre-war rate of 0.5 or 0.7 per 1000. (Click on "###" at the end for details about the calculations).

The post-war rate is right in line with the Lancet figure of 1.8 violent deaths per 1000 in Iraq excluding Falluja. But the Lancet estimate of 0.1 violent deaths per 1000 before the war is very different from the morgue figure. Admittedly, these are pretty back-of-the-envelope calculations, but I think they provide some evidence that the Lancet study got the post-war death rate fairly right, but botched the pre-war rate.

The London Times quotes a morgue doctor who offers a pretty good summary of the whole mess.
The mortuary staff cannot agree whether the present situation could be described as better or worse than that which existed under Saddam Hussein...The staff also remember when hundreds of victims of mass execution were dumped by the Baathist authorities at the mortuary and relatives were too frightened to collect them.

"Better or worse is irrelevant — they’re both bad," Dr Hassan said. "And it could have been so easy for the Americans. Why did they disband the army and police last year and allow those weapons and munitions to pour into the hands of criminals in our streets? Why did they leave us for a year with no national army and police? I don’t know. Now we all suffer — them and us. Am I depressed? All the time."

Figures from the NY and London Times suggest that there will be about 7500 "suspicious deaths" investigated as possible murders by the Baghdad Morgue by the end of this year. In 2002, before the war, there were 3,500 such deaths according to the Boston Globe, while the NY Times suggests that pre-war rates of suspcious deaths were about a third present rates.

Baghdad is a city of about 5 million people, which gives us a "suspicious death" rate of 1.5 per 1000 after the war, and 0.7 per 1000 before the war (or maybe 0.5 if the NY Times is right). So the post-war violent death rate is right in line with the Lancet's estimate of 1.8 per 1000 (with the caveat that suspicious deaths in Baghdad aren't the same thing as violent deaths in Iraq). But the pre-war violent death rate in the Lancet was 0.1 per 1000, very different from the rate suggested by the figures from the Baghdad morgue.


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Some Notes on Medical Innovation (with links)

It's too late at night to write anything coherent about the vast problem of how to fund medical research, so I'm going to try brain-dumping some notes that I hope to develop in future posts. When reading this blog entry, just pretend that each paragraph is a Powerpoint slide.

Dean Baker has proposed establishing an NIH agency to commercialize drugs that would then be made available for free to the public. Dennis Kucinich has introduced a (sketchy) bill.

What is this supposed to accomplish? Lower drug prices. Medical innovation determined by social priorities rather than profit.

It's true there's a conflict between social priorities and profit. An example is that new uses for off-patent drugs may not be profitable to research. Also unprofitable are drugs for poor people such as anti-malarial drugs for the third world. Hollis provides other examples. Kucinich and Baker also think socially unworthy "lifestyle" drugs are researched instead of cures for deadly diseases. This last is the kind of ascetic position I'd expect from vegetarian like Kucinich.

But the proposed agency will also face a conflict: whether to fund research that leads to lower drug prices or more innovative research. An example is "me-too" drugs which lower prices but don't offer much benefit. Baker endorses this kind of research. "New uses for old drugs" could be very valuable medically but won't lower prices, since the drugs are already off patent. Baker and Kucinich don't seem interested in this.

How is the agency supposed to develop new drugs? Presumably by funding clinical and applied research instead of academic research. That's what Baker says and it's probably an accurate-enough description. But this is an oversimplication. See this debate between an industry blogger and an academic blogger about the role played by the government, academia, and industry in developing new drugs.

The present regime (Bayh-Dole Act of 1986) developed precisely because academic research wasn't being commercialized. You don't get tenure for saving lives! (Or for developing drugs or transferring knowledge to industry). So the law gave patent rights to government-funded research to the researchers (often academics). Most universities now actively try to patent and license their research. See GAO, MIT study, Sampat survey.

"Principal-agent problem"--NIH doesn't want to do it. "Phase III clinical trials" -- the final and most expensive stage of developing a new drug -- are boring. High-powered researchers don't want to do it, since it's mainly a management task (recruiting patients and collecting data). Academics and the NIH probably don't want to do it: they want to discover new proteins and such -- make exciting new breakthroughs. That's why industry needs to be bribed to do it. That's why Bayh-Dole bribes universities and academics to do it. If we give tens of billions of new dollars to the NIH, why should we expect it to be spent on clinical/applied research? It will just be spent on the kind of academic research that scientists enjoy and value. Baker and Kucinich have given no thought to this problem.

The current system of medical research is vast and complicated, developed over 100s of years, and enshrined in the Constitution (patents). The old-fashioned conservative position -- respect for the wisdom embodied in traditional practices -- has a lot to be said for it. A few hundred million or a billion for a pilot program is a good idea, but we ought to be cautious before tinkering with a complicated system that's working pretty well.


Monday, November 22, 2004

Cheaper Drugs

My weekly post is up on Angry Bear, arguing that we ought to decouple proposals for alternative ways to finance research and development of new drugs from the goal of making drugs cheaper.


Thursday, November 18, 2004

Flu Snafu: FDA Knew

The Washington Post's David Brown reported yesterday that the FDA knew about contamination problems at the Chiron flu vaccine plant a year ago, but did almost nothing -- even though the company asked for help.
FDA managers overruled its inspection team [in 2003] and made its fixes voluntary rather than mandatory.
The one FDA action he said was a mistake was the agency's failure to send its full report on the June 2003 inspection to Chiron in September 2003. That was when the FDA decided to make its improvements voluntary, not mandatory. Chiron requested and received the full report in June 2004.
The company had asked for a meeting with FDA officials after the 2003 inspection, but the agency never granted one, apparently because it did not view it as necessary.
[With minor exceptions], the FDA dealt with Chiron entirely from a distance, through letters, e-mails and telephone calls.
Comparing these latest revelations to press reports from before the election, the news is not so much that the FDA knew about the plant's problems a year ago, but how little action they took. After the election, it's front page news with the headline "U.S. Knew Last Year of Flu Vaccine Plant's Woes." Last month, it was in the business section, with the headline "FDA denies knowing scope of plant's mess."

Don't Re-Frame, Organize

Via Brad DeLong, I learn of a fascinating article written by someone who spent seven weeks knocking on the doors of undecided voters in Wisconsin.
Time after time, undecided voters would agree vociferously with every single critique I offered of Bush's Iraq policy, but conclude that it really didn't matter who was elected, since neither candidate would have any chance of making things better.
So reports Christopher Hayes of TNR. He concluded that many voters have a
fundamental lack of understanding of what constituted the broad category of the "political." The undecideds I spoke to didn't seem to have any intuitive grasp of what kinds of grievances qualify as political grievances. Often, once I would engage undecided voters, they would list concerns, such as the rising cost of health care; but when I would tell them that Kerry had a plan to lower health-care premiums, they would respond in disbelief--not in disbelief that he had a plan, but that the cost of health care was a political issue. It was as if you were telling them that Kerry was promising to extend summer into December.
I was struck by how similar his analysis is to the views of cynical political scientist Larry Bartels, who has written extensively about the widespread failure to reason about political and policy choices, for example, about the estate tax:
Millions of ordinary Americans say that the federal government should spend more on a wide variety of programs, that the rich are asked to pay too little in taxes, and that growing economic inequality is a bad thing -- yet simultaneously support a policy (estate-tax repeal) whose main effect would be to reduce the tax burden of the very wealthy, constrain funding for government programs, and further widen the growing gap in economic fortunes between the rich and the rest of American society.
Elsewhere [pdf], Bartels points out that this failure isn't confined to the stupid and poorly educated, citing the support of many intellectuals for Stalin in the 1950s, long after it should have become clear that he was a monster.

How ought candidates to respond to this? Many say the answer is a change in rhetoric. Hayes argues that the Democrats need to "rebuild a
popular, accessible political vocabulary." Over at the DLC, the New Donkey says "Democrats should focus on developing a broad, national message for change on all the challenges facing the country, since our "targeted" messages [about particular issues such as Social Security], some of which violently oppose "change," don't seem to be succeeding very well." Others speak of adopting the right Lakoffian "frames" for the Democrat's message.

I don't doubt that what candidates say, in speeches and TV commercials, is important. But it doesn't seem like fine-tuning the message is the obvious way to persuade voters who see high health costs as a fact of life, rather than the outcome of political choices. And I don't have high hopes that framing the issues correctly will win votes from those who don't believe that politicians tell the truth, and don't believe that politicians have the ability to make life better, even if they wanted to. I guess improving the message is better than nothing, since people have to vote for one of the candidates.

So what will work? It seems to me that more important than developing new language is building institutions that can speak to voters from a position of trust. Labor unions and the mass media are obvious examples. Ralph Nader, for all his faults, is pretty good at coming up with innovative ways to fund citizen's groups.
If I were George Soros, I'd buy People magazine, and order them to run embarrassing pictures of Bush (say, the shot of him giving the finger to the camera) and pictures of maimed Iraqi children.

Which isn't to say that organizing is the only answer, in the absence of the right poetry and prose, message and issues. Just that all three things (and probably more) are needed.


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

How to Save Social Security

Now that Larry Lindsey is no longer around to reassure Bush that the numbers add up on his plan to partially privatize Social Security, Bush faces the unwelcome prospect of joining the reality-based community. Lindsey's idea was the the stock market would rise so much that excess gains in the new personal accounts could be taxed to pay the transition costs, keeping the benefits flowing to current retirees.

Fortunately, there's still one economist who believes in a free lunch: Kevin "Dow 36,000" Hassett. The rumor mill says he has the inside line to head Bush's Council of Economic Advisors. Last I heard, he was still predicting that the Dow would quadruple. If anyone can make the Bush Social Security plan work, at least on paper, it's Hassett.

And I bet he could use the work, now that his book's out of print.

[hat tip: bakho]

Vandals for Ignorance and Disease

Ever wonder why you can't sleep if the room is too hot or two cold? Some people would rather you didn't know.
IOWA CITY, Iowa, November 16 -- Vandals dumped chemicals, damaged computers and freed research animals at the University of Iowa.
Ever wonder why winter feels harsher when it begins than it does after a few months? Some people would rather you remained ignorant.
The vandalism included laboratories where research animals were housed. An undetermined number of mice and rats were missing. More than 30 computers were damaged, university officials said.
Ever wonder why all mammals keep their body temperature between 97 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and humans at 98.6? Some people would rather we never learned the answer.
Researchers could not specify the extent of damages to the laboratory or how much research would be set back because they have not been allowed to enter the building since the incident, which was discovered Sunday morning. Some researchers said months or even years of research could be lost if computer hard drives sustained significant damage.
Perhaps you want to take a class in cognitive psychology? Some people would rather you didn't.
Because of uncertainty about the extent of the damage, including the deliberate dumping of chemicals, university police evacuated the building Sunday and don't expect to reopen it until after the Thanksgiving break.
One of the victims wonders just what kind of strange impulses motivated the "Animal Liberation Front."
"What they did to the animals was worse that what they could accuse us of doing," said Mark Blumberg, a cognitive and behavioral neuroscience professor who conducted animal research at Spence Laboratories. "There were animals that drowned because of this. It was horrible. How they think that they're doing something that is for the benefit of animal rights is beyond me."
Blumberg is the scientist whose research into sleep and temperature regulation I've been describing. I don't have the scientific background to appreciate his research, but his peers seem impressed, awarding him the "Distinguished Early Career Award." He's written a popular book too, "Body Heat: Temperature and Life on Earth." I've ordered a copy in solidarity, and because it sounds pretty interesting.


Monday, November 15, 2004

Culture Warrior Juliet Schor

My latest post on Angry Bear discusses the work of Juliet Schor, the left's counterpart to "family values" advocate James Dobson (and I mean that in the nicest possible way).


Falluja and the Propaganda War

A commenter asks if I really believe that Juan Cole is wrong when he says "the razing of Fallujah is precisely the sort of action that may provoke an al-Qaeda response and will in any case aid in al-Qaeda's ability to recruit angry young Muslims."

Well, I can hardly claim to be sure, but I really think there's a good chance that Cole is wrong. As far as the fight against terrorism goes, it seems to me that razing Falluja is actually killing some Al-Qaeda fighters or their equivalents (something we haven't done a lot of in Iraq), and if we win, our victory will probably demoralize Al-Qaeda. That's the upside.

Balanced against that is the possibility that we lose, and Falluja falls back under the control of the insurgents in a few months. But that wouldn't be a big change: Iraq would remain a quagmire, just as it is already. So I don't think it would be a big boost to Al-Qaeda's morale.

Do civilian casualties outweigh these factors? I doubt it, because civilian casualties in Iraq are nothing new. I doubt that killing a few more civilians, or even a few thousand more, is going to anger anybody who isn't already plenty outraged by the previous tens of thousands we've killed.


Thursday, November 11, 2004

Why do They Hate Us? Does Juan Cole Have the Answer?

As I've written before, John Kerry probably won the Arab American vote by 2-1, and did better still among Muslim Americans (see Zogby's final exit poll too). This is in sharp contrast to Juan Cole's claim that John Edwards' support for Israel in the VP debate would cost him the support of these voters. Prof. Cole, an expert on the Islamic world, wrote: "With just a slight change in rhetoric, Kerry and Edwards could probably avoid alienating most of these Arab Americans and Muslim Americans."

Cole's mistake was to attribute much more importance to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than it actually has among Arab and Muslim Americans. These voters were very upset about Ashcroft's infringements on their civil liberties, and also put a high priority on the same issues as most other voters: the economy, the war on terror, social issues, and so on. On a list of eight issues, "Israel-Palestine" was consistently rated as least important by Arab Americans.

My main point here isn't to mock Cole's ineptness when he writes about matters outside of his narrow specialty (that's just a secondary point). My point is that if Cole can misinterpret public opinion so badly in this case, how reliable are his assessments of public opinion in the Arab world?

A typical example of Cole's assessment is: "the razing of Fallujah is precisely the sort of action that may provoke an al-Qaeda response and will in any case aid in al-Qaeda's ability to recruit angry young Muslims." And of course, many analysts make similar claims.

Let me enumerate why it's a lot harder to discern the opinions of Arabs than of Arab Americans.

First, Arab and Muslim Americans, like Cole, are Americans. We can expect Cole to have special insight into the psyche of his fellow citizens, and also into the details of issues that motivate them, such as the economy.

Second, vote choices are concrete and relatively easy to measure, unlike support or membership in al-Qaeda.

Third, there is a fair amount of reliable polling data about the attitudes of Arab and Muslim Americans, while polling data from the Islamic world is sparse, and in important cases nonexistent (e.g., Saudi Arabia).

Fourth, America has a free press and freedom of speech, so we can read what Arab and Muslim Americans have to say about the presidential election, and who their organizations support. This isn't generally the case in the Arab world.

Fifth, Arab and Muslim Americans are a fairly diverse group (Muslim, Orthodox, Catholic, or secular in religious matters; originally from various countries; Democrats and Republicans) but surely nowhere near as diverse as the billion or so in the many countries of the Islamic world.

Sixth, Cole isn't just discussing rhetorical support for Al-Qaeda, which is a view shared by millions or maybe hundreds of millions of Muslims (I don't know). He's discussing Al-Qaeda's recruiting, which is something that involves tiny groups of people: hundred or thousands. And out of hundreds of millions of people, there is a lot of room for small groups to have idiosyncratic views, even views entirely divorced from reality. If you look at the web sites of right-wing hate groups in the US, for example, it's not at all clear that they pay much attention to current events (here's one devoted to "racial holy war").

So I think that anyone who claims to be able to identity with any certainty the effect of the Iraq War on support for terrorism -- much less one particular battle -- is full of it.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

New Uses for Old Drugs

Political Animal Kevin Drum reports that
A new heart drug that targets African Americans reduced deaths from advanced heart failure by 43% and reduced hospitalizations by a third, setting the stage for it to become the first drug approved for only one racial group. [from an LA Times article by Thomas Maugh]
An old study, when re-analyzed, found that a combination of two generic drugs was superior to the usual treatment for Blacks but not for Whites. A few years later, clinical trials enrolling only African Americans found that the two drugs, in combination with a third, were better than the third alone. It's quite possible that the 3-drug combination is effective for people of all races, but this hasn't been tested. One reason for running the clinical trials with Blacks only was U.S. patent law:
[Nitromed] holds a patent on using the combination to treat all races, but that patent expires in 2007. NitroMed has a patent on using it to treat blacks, and that patent is good until 2020, preventing anyone from bringing out a generic version of the combination pill before then. Physicians could, however, prescribe the two drugs individually to either blacks or whites. A dose of the generic drugs costs about 44 cents.
Drum focusses on the racial angle ("Racist Drugs?" he asks) but also says:
Isn't that lovely? Maybe it works for whites too, but there's no money in it so no one's going to bother finding out. For blacks, there is enough money in it to make testing worthwhile, but in the end it turns out that BiDil [the generic combination] is mostly a marketing gimmick that provides a way for NitroMed to charge them more for drugs that already exist. It's almost like the worst of both worlds, isn't it?
I don't think this is fair to Nitromed, and I think this criticism is contradictory. Nitromed says that will probably spend $39 million [p. 45 of the pdf] on the clinical trial. This estimate doesn't seem to include adminstrative overhead, or the opportunity cost of the funds. The treatment probably won't make it to market until 6 years after the start of the trial. Nitromed's money could have been earning interest during those years instead of being spent on study expenses. At a guess, the total expense of the trial could easily be double the direct costs, say $80 million. And, of course, the drug combo might not have panned out.

So Nitromed better be able to "charge them more for drugs that already exist" if we want them to have an incentive to take the risk and invest in the research in the first place. Kevin would like the research to be done to see if the treatment works for other races. If we want the private sector to do it, we'd better insure that there's some money to be made. (The alternative is a bigger public sector role, which I really ought to blog about one of these days).

Really, I think this is a pretty happy outcome, not the "worst of both worlds." There's probably not enough research done to find new uses for old drugs. So I'm glad that you can get a patent for finding a new use for an old drug, or even just packaging two drugs into one pill. It sounds to me like this -- frequently criticized -- aspect of the patent system has worked well in this case.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Revealed: How the Democrats can Recover

Aren't people making a little too much of the fact that 22% of voters said that "moral values" was the most important issue to them? This statement, from Thomas Friedman's column, is pretty typical:
"The Democrats have ceded to Republicans a monopoly on the moral and spiritual sources of American politics," noted the Harvard University political theorist Michael J. Sandel. "They will not recover as a party until they again have candidates who can speak to those moral and spiritual yearnings - but turn them to progressive purposes in domestic policy and foreign affairs."
Well talk is cheap, and if Democrats can win with a little God talk about social justice or whatever, that's fine with me, although I'm skeptical about the odds of this working. But I think Sandel and Friedman are a little too quick to prescribe a cure, without taking time to make an adequate diagnosis.

I happen to know exactly what the Democrats could have done to win Tuesday's election, and what they have to do to "recover as a party" -- they need to convince 1.5 - 2% of voters to choose them instead of the Republicans. If they persuade religious conservatives to switch that's fine. If they persuade some of the rest of the Republican coalition to switch -- the 60% or so that don't think "moral values" is the most important issue -- that's fine too, and seems a lot more likely.

Maybe nominating a Southern Baptist is the way to win next time, or maybe it's protectionism, as Aussie Economist John Quiggen suggests, or maybe it's something entirely different.

Finally, it's worth keeping in mind that social issues are likely to play out pretty differently next time. The Supreme Court, with three or four Bush appointees, seems likely to overturn Roe v. Wade sometime soon. If that happens, pro-choice Bush voters (about a third of his total), may realize that they're made a terrible mistake.


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Think Small!

Maxspeak has the best commentary at the moment on what the next four years will be like and how progressives can win. I disagree with him, though, when he says, in discussing a future progressive program: "think big. We want vision, not laundry lists."

I say: think small! This is the internet era. Think narrow-casting, not broadcasting.

Here's one example. Kerry probably peeled off the about 200,000 Arab-American votes in key battleground states, according to Zogby. He also did very well among Muslim Americans (not necessarily the same group: the large majority of Arab Americans are Christian). Kerry won 93% of the Muslim vote, according to one survey (although the survey doesn't sound particularly reliable). A huge issue for these voters, who've been targeted by Ashcroft, was civil liberties, a topic which probably didn't crack the top ten list of issues discussed in the campaign.

Thinking small, Grover Norquist wants to defund Democratic constituency groups like unions, trial lawyers, social service organizations, and foundations. What can Democrats do (at the state level, presumably) to help them out?

A shift of about 1.8 million voters would have won Kerry the popular vote, and a shift of much less could have won the electoral vote, if it came in the right places. So, what are Estonian Americans thinking? What was Kerry's stance on Bear Baiting (a hot topic in Maine)? On ethanol? (Undoubtably Kerry was pro-ethanol, a big issue for Iowa corn farmers). Nuclear waste? (Nevada). Admittedly, ethanol and nuclear waste didn't put Kerry over the top. But what if he had proposed something for the Iowa potato growers too?


Election Post-Mortem

I don't know why Kerry lost (although I like the theory that it was an uphill struggle to begin with) or what the Democrats can do to win next time, but I do have a couple thoughts about the exit polls.

The early exit polls (finished at 6pm, I think) had Kerry up 51-48. The final results seem to be the opposite, with Bush winning 51-48. The exit poll sample was about 10,000 at that point, I recall, which means a shift of 2 points in Bush/Kerry lead is outside the margin of error. The actual shift of 6 points is way outside the margin of error.

Micky Kaus, of all people, has the best explanation for the exit poll's failure I've seen:
Why were the exit polls so off? My nominee is Reason 3 from Mystery Pollster's list--"Voting patterns may be different early in the day." Specifically, angrier voters vote earlier. This year, Kerry voters were angrier, so angry that they lined up at the polls as soon as they could in the morning and got disproportionately counted by the NEP survey-takers. Unfortunately, they could only vote once, and their vote was cancelled by the less angry Republicans who sauntered in later in the day.
This rings true to me. I was anxious to cast my vote against Bush, so I voted early in the day, which I rarely have done in the past.

One other thing the exit polls show is that there's been a shift in Party ID of about 3-4 points. The final exit poll, weighted to reflect actual turnout, found 37% Dem., 37% Rep., 26% Ind. I've been arguing all along that this was happening, since it showed up in so many polls, while others preferred to blame the polls for drawing bad samples. Too bad my final prediction -- a big victory for Kerry -- wasn't vindicated too.


A Nailbiter

I've been over at a friends house all night, watching TV elections coverage, so I have very little idea what's going on with the elections.

Judging from Mark Kleiman and Josh Marshall's reports, Ohio will be the new Florida. The Republicans seem ready to try and to steal the election by keeping the 300,000 provisional ballots from being counted. That's assuming they haven't stolen it already. According to Marshall: "a lawsuit strategy from Republicans is causing delays and shutdowns in precincts that remained open to allow people who were already in line to vote. Lawsuits create delays; folks leave."

One thing to keep in mind: Kerry has run an excellent campaign. One of Kerry's pollsters, writing on Sunday, argued convincingly that the fundamentals favored Bush. Wars usually help incumbents. The economy, while much worse than it should be, is good enough that election forecasting models based on economic statistics have been predicting a big Bush victory.

My point is, if we wake up tomorrow to a court battle over who was really elected President, we ought to rally around Kerry. He shouldn't have to face criticism for not doing better, or the kind of sniping that was all too frequently directed at Gore.


Monday, November 01, 2004

Early Exit Poll Results!

Monday, November 1, 9:55 PM. Early exit poll results announced by Fox News a few minutes ago show George Bush heading to a landslide victory with at least 324 electoral votes!

For the second election in a row, Fox scoops all the other networks and is the first to call the election. This year, their call came only 24 hours in advance, but still in plenty of time to beat their sluggish rivals.

Congratulations Fox News! Congratulations President Bush!

[hat tip: Gary]

Another Hilarious HTML Joke

Seen on a bumper sticker: </BUSH>.

Conservatives & Moderates: Vote Kerry! Vote Gridlock!

My weekly post is up at Angry Bear, discussing how pleased moderates can expect to be with a gridlocked Kerry Presidency.


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