Economic and political analysis-Window on culture-Media criticism

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Towards a better future

Too much power has been ascribed to the Office of the President since Bush took over.

Bush has succeeded in expanding the authority of Presidency. Constitutional boundaries on the office have been permanently breached--future Presidents might abuse these powers. Like the planetary representatives from throughout the Empire in Star Wars' Revenge of the Sith, Congress has empowered the President, sent him on a meteoritic rise to the status of some kind of super-powerful overlord.

Younger Americans might not be familiar with external limits imposed on the use of Presidential power, nor the exercise of restrained. Power unused is power wasted, some might think from how Bush has ruled.

I constantly forget that an entire generation has grown up with Bush at the wheel. The way in which the media portrays the exercise of power has been exemplified by Bush's style of governing: the opposite of compromise, prone to one-liners, jeers, frowns, and frat boy behavior. Hardly much of a role model.

Americans growing up under Bush know little about the exercise of dignity, class, or competence in executing the duties of the Presidency. Most young people voted for Obama, so they must've sensed there was more to a Presidency than what George Bush has done. They must have sensed leadership lacking, because of the wars, response to environmental threats, or plenty of other reasons both logical and emotional.

The way Bush has governed has created a great deal of anti-authoritarianism since clearly to oppose Bush has meant resisting the establishment. These critical tendencies will carry over to Obama, so it's natural to hear talk of a betrayal, though I was hoping it might not come so soon after the election. At least wait until he's sworn in.

Why can't the old regime get thrown out the night of the Election? Way things are going, the villagers might be tempted to run up the Jolly Roger, charge the White House with their pitch forks and throw the bums out.

Unfortunately such a long transition period could damage the country as the outgoing President has lost whatever limited authority he's wielded as a lame duck yet no one has come in to replace him. With the economy in recession, it's clear the public's general anxiety will persist until the new President gets sworn in.

* * *

What follows comes from a comment I made on OpEdNews in response to a Sean Fenley, author of the article "Team Democrats takes over the WH..."

Fenley has some talent--I wouldn't have commented if he didn't--yet comes to us from the anti-establishment side, which is hardly surprising considering what's been going on. Here's what I had to say:
...Do we have a government that's responsive to the needs of the governed? Absolutely not.
Is the simple act of voting for Obama going to bring change? No, but Obama will make a difference on a number of fronts. Like speaking in complete sentences. Are you going to tell me you didn't miss that?
Obama presented himself as a bringer of change--what that means is up to personal definition or preference.
It's way too early to say what Obama has in store. Yes he's bringing back Clinton-era people, but this doesn't mean his administration doesn't represent change from the status quo and I don't mean in terms of his being the first black President, either.
Results will be not only a product of Obama's efforts, but those of everyone who wants to bring change. He will not be able to accomplish change itself, not without our help. You could quote John F. Kennedy, "ask not what your nation can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
We need to exercise a level of faith here and now. Obama will need our help to achieve great things. We will need to participate going forward, perhaps equally or more than we did in opposing Bush. Tearing down is easier than building up. Going on--with our distaste for how Washington does business--represents more of the same, if we are content to criticize and choose to carry our resentment about Bush over to Obama. We progressives can't play sore losers, at least not until we've given the man a chance."

Fenley's point is that rather than change from conservative to liberal, we're changing from one team to another. Both parties are little different, they would have you believe.

Changes in our Foreign Policy?

Some will want an end to neoconservative foreign policy. We haven't seen any change on that so far.

I posted the following comment on an OpEdNews article by Heather Wokusch. She'd been talking about how Obama's Cabinet picks may be signaling that he's not as progressive as we were led to believe.

She had brought up a comment by Joe Biden about how Obama should make foreign policy decisions based not on their popularity, but how unpopular they are. Here is how I responded:

"My read on the Biden comment that if decisions are unpopular, they are unsound is more a reflection of how effective ultranationalism and jingoism have been in American society. Fact is most wars are popular regardless of their legitimacy. People rally around the flag and the President. I hope we can count on Obama to restrain the temptation to wag the dog and see his popularity skyrocket overnight. Reagan had his Grenada (just after the Beirut bombings in '83), Clinton had his Somali aspirin factory, etc.. (I recommend Norm Solomon's How Presidents keep spinning us to death, which became a documentary narrated by Sean Penn.)"

Wokusch goes on to bring up the scary rhetoric Obama has used in reference to those who seek to acquire nuclear weapons. Iran has been villified on this account, despite the fact it claims it has a right to pursue nuclear power as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

It's worth noting that Obama has said he'd be willing to sit down, unconditionally, and talk with the Iranians. So this represents progress from where we are now, which isn't saying much other than that Obama is an improvement over our current policies.

I said in my post how those seeking nukes are a threat only if they aren't sought by our friends. This is a double standard clear for the world to see: if we like you, you can go after nuclear power, but watch out if you don't. India, who hasn't signed the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty has been the recipient of much US nuclear technology while Iran, a signatory, gets maligned.

Under Bush, our foreign policy has devolved into a instrument to achieve our narrow self-interests. In the process of trying to bend the rest of the world to our will, our foreign policy has lost its credibility. We need to remember that we are the world's leader, and need to behave as such, not just some country trying to make others do their bidding, like some big bully.

As the Guantanamo kangaroo trials proceed, our global leadership position has been lost. So, compared to where we are now, our foreign policy will regain some of its credibility.

At some point Bush grew confused over the difference between wielding power and showing restraint by not wielding power. Gross displays of authority tend to alienate other nations. We don't need to show how strong we are to be strong, nor do we have to demonstrate our power to prove it's there. International politics aren't a wrestling match, bravado does nothing. And even the exercise of power can end up making us look weak, like a paper tiger, as recent counterinsurgencies show.

Wokusch criticizes Obama's hard stance and willingness to use nuclear force. Obama does follow a pattern of using blunt threats to describe those who would do us harm. His Grant Park acceptance speech spoke plainly of a foreign policy that would go after the bad guys. This aggression towards our enemies--whoever they might be--is a sign of a different age, one of terrorists, anthrax, and whatever other boogeymen the imagination can dream up. Teddy Roosevelt didn't have to contend with suitcase nukes when he said, "speak softly and carry a big stick." To kill a flea, embedded in a hostile population, wielding the stick is hardly a solution, yet Obama believes Afghanistan can be won.

Needless to say, I don't think any terrorists doubts that the Muslim world would be accused of harboring any terrorists who might set off a nuke or biological/chemical attack. I'm sure al Qaeda or some similar terrorist organization could be created in the aftermath of such an attack if for no other reason to strike back at Muslims for their perceived role in terrorism.
Already the Muslim world knows that Teheran would be the first recipient of a nuclear counterstrike should the Israelis be hit. As a result of this very predictable and commonly known reaction, no Muslim terrorist organization--surprise--would use nukes. Biological/chemical weapons would receive "strongest possible response" in retaliation, a phrase used by President Bush the First in advance of the 1991 Gulf war.

A Council on Foreign Relations article explains that Bush 41 had "privately decided to rule out the use of nuclear weapons." Still, the post-9/11 world has lowered the threshold for using nuclear weapons, at least according to nuclear posture reviews issued under Bush 43.

Growing up under a policy of Mutual Assured Destruction has been somewhat reassuring. It's no wonder that our government would like to prevent a NBC attack through a retaliatory posture, but finding the culprits would be a mammoth task.

The predictability of the nuclear reaction would deter any nation-state from attacking the US or any of its myriad bases, so the question becomes who hates the Iranians enough to pin the attack on them? Even if we could trace the attack back to its country of origin, how would destroying Pakistan, for instance, prevent the attack from coming from a group from inside Pakistan, like one who might want the Pakistani state destroyed?

Nuclear destruction seems no way to prevent nuclear destruction now that we've left the Cold War. Things were simpler then. Obama can't count on the fury of a spectacular reaction. He'll have to channel intelligence to preempt an attack, then use extreme caution in ordering a nuclear reaction.

Back to my comments on the Wokusch article:
"The selection of Obama administration people reflects negatively on his transition from a traditional antiwar position, but he has said he'll get us out of Iraq. If alQaeda--or whoever the government says is alQaeda--is really a threat, we have to find them wherever they are. Until we can investigate 9-11, the official line will be that they did it, acting alone, which should have focused the anti-terrorist effort not on Iraq but Pakistan and Afghanistan (however ineffective the State terror inflicted by cross-border missile attacks may be in resolving what is essentially a law enforcement matter.)"

Iraq will be a change. Obama has always made his position on Afghanistan clear. If, well, we didn't like it, we could have voted for McCain. So therefore pacifists, anti-interventionists have no real choice of candidates.

That said, at least Obama will wield our military resources more efficiently. Rather than pouring out vast sums in a broad effort to bring democracy to the Middle East--and make the military industrial complex rich--Obama will focus on the Taliban, which likely means he'll build up the Afghan nation. We tried this in South Vietnam.

Criticism towards Obama's foreign policy are warranted, but he's not yet sworn in. His advisers could be more hawkish than antiwar people want, but we know that major foreign policy changes are forthcoming.

I don't know how much value criticism has at this point. I think Obama will choose his advisers to the best of his ability, and we need to have faith in his decision-making skills. There will be time to have our voice heard later, should he not deliver on campaign promises.


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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Taxes and borrowing prop up failed banking system

Since Bush's appointment by a 5-4 vote of the Supreme Court along party lines, the stock market has stopped moving forward.

Market declines are cyclical in nature, so Bush may not deserve blame. Besides no President can channel stock market performance. So we can't blame Bush exclusively, but contrasting his time in power with Clinton's shows just how counterproductive deregulation and hyper-capitalism have been. Just how natural has this recent decline been? The suddenness and severity of market declines hint at systemic issues like overextended credit and too much borrowing.

We'd have to go back to the Clinton years to see sustained progress in the market. That period saw ownership in the stock market by the middle class climb to unprecedented levels. Everyone had an eye on the market, for their 401(k)s, mutual funds, etc., that had a great run-up--the biggest in American history. What we don't have nowadays is rising participation. More investors mean more participants in the market which increases liquidity.

Individual investors also stabilize the market by holding retirement accounts are less likely to be sold in times of market volatility. investing for retirement produces steady inflows as well which are recurring flows based on income not speculative fervor or margin borrowing.

Easy credit meant that banks could play with money they don't have, generating a mammoth speculative bubble based on derivatives. There are often no real, tangible assets associated with over-leveraged derivatives products. Worse, the Credit Default Swaps were designed to cover the possibility of a borrower failure yet they created a false sense of security. No single insurer could possibly cover the risk of default on a massive scale. Even the government might have challenges trying to come up with enough money to keep the defaults from destroying the banking industry, self-immolated by de-regulation as they have been, immersed in the gas-soaked rags of their own greed.

Phil Gramm's initiative to change the rules led by Phil Gramm opened up the field of high-risk speculation to investment banks through exotic debt products like Credit Default Swaps (CDSs) and Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs). Congress passed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which contained the infamous Enron loophole. Under Bush--Enron was his biggest corporate donor in the 2000 Campaign--financial companies practicing speculation used political connections to minimize regulation and maximize profits.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission which lowered margin requirements for investment companies speculating in the market. A notable expansion in debt ratios followed. Profits did soar. On company in the middle of the over-expansion of credit was Paulson's Goldman Sachs, a company where he's reputed to have made some $700 million of personal wealth during his time as CEO there through the mid 00's.

Hedge funds, a relatively minor player in the overall markets, have grown to dominate the entire investment horizon. Many are failing now.

Securitizing risky debt products has brought market-wide risk exposure. Even prudent companies are affected. Even a well-behaved bank, like Ohio-based USBank which had no sub-prime mortgage exposure, can be sunk by the contagion effect.

Under-regulated market typically characterized by large amounts of volatility. Margin calls then trigger increased volatility. Institutional investors, dependent on quarterly earnings, typically get nervous and sell into corrections.

A system by, of, and for the bankers

Who gets to pay the interest paid by the Treasury as it borrows from the Fed? You, the taxpayer. So we will have to pay off the debt in time, all the while feeding the Federal Reserve banking cartel with interest. If we never retire the debt, we will pay interest indefinitely.

With public money, the top banks--the ones too big to fail who compromise the Fed's member banks--have chosen to consolidate their industry. The bailout is a giant profit-making, competition-reducing opportunity for them. This is typical of predatory capitalism which exploits some failure of public services, like privatization in the aftermath of a disaster.

In the recent bailout, we see a grand finale to the pattern of failed deregulatory experiments. Bushites explain that the banks are victims, rather than willful participants in the risky behaviors that led to their own destruction. This kind of thing has happened before, a kind of an "oops, screwed up but can't you--the public--send more money" disaster capitalism-type deal. See this article by Justin Leopold in the Baltimore Sun for more on the hidden bonus that the public, nor apparently Congress, knew about when the bailout passed.

Few media organizations were willing to expose the threat posed by de-regulations. Mainstream financial news sources clearly had no interest in raising doubts about the health of the markets, or draw attention to the obvious conflict between Paulson--representing government and the industry he was supposed to have regulated.

The recipients of bailout money are sufficiently audacious as to finance the purchase of other banks with taxpayer money. Congressmen are rightfully outraged at how the bailout package they approved has been spent. Paulson's Department of the Treasury has also made a change to the tax code, in an un-precedented move bypassing the Congress entirely. See the Washington Post article here.

The taxpayers, whose neighbors' houses on Wall Street are aflame, has no choice put to put out the flames, according to Obama's metaphor comparing the financial crisis to a neighborhood fire. The massive bailout will make Main Street pay for mistakes made by Wall Street, causing huge loans to rest on future generations. How abusive to make the Little People pay for the consequences of (de-)regulatory reforms made by GOP partisans to benefit their friends on Wall Street. No wonder the Republican party is in so much trouble now.

Adding insult to injury is the reality that taxpayers will have to pay for the debt that the bailout will generate.

Any American's blood should boil when they hear about this exploitation. Americans need to understand the forces that created the Federal Reserve in 1913, simultaneously as the Internal Revenue Service was started. The two entities, one public and one private, work to reinforce the status quo: a slow, constant debasement of our money coupled with high tax burdens which go directly to Federal Reserve coffers to pay the interest on the rapidly accumulating debt.

For an important look at the relationship between the IRS and taxpayers go no farther than the 1984 findings of the Grace Commission, a investigatory body convened during Reagan's first term, see this write-up in Google groups.

The Grace Commission determined that the IRS has been feeding all tax payments to the Federal Reserve. In other words, the banks get all the tax revenue. Even the sum of all our tax payments isn't enough to begin to repay the underlying debt--and this was in 1984! Since then we've entered ever deeper into a spiral of debt out of which we're not meant to leave...ever. The monetary system is designed to impoverish those who make money through wages or sponge parasitically off of revenue- and interest-generating bodies. We the hosts, the American people collectively and as individuals, who serve the money masters just like serfs did in the Dark Ages.

People who've read me for some time probably know that I want to be non-partisan. Since Bush, though, I've felt compelled to side with the enemies of my enemy. Bush was indeed the great uniter if he could make me into the Democrat I apparently am, arriving their not by choice but by sharing a common foe. If Obama doesn't represent change, he may become part of the status quo. No longer do I have the common enemy in Bush.

In time, and given enough growing government, my Libertarian persuasions might assert themselves under Obama. Like many others who hold Libertarian views, I'm not drawn to the Liberal viewpoint as much as I've opposed Republican hypocrisy by hijacking the smaller government idea from the Libertarians, then doing nothing but spending and borrowing.

Even now, in the regime's last days, Bush intervenes on behalf of specific GOP-friendly industries like those seeking to expand toxic emissions or build power plants near National Parks. In a last chance giveaway to industries long allied with the Bush Administration intends to shrink passage periods required under the law by executing Executive Orders immediately, without the necessary public opinion and exposure to oversight mandated by law. Obama will reverse some of these last minute decrees but may find it difficult.

Flaws in the system

Capitalism is an imperfect system with abundant flaws. It's also the best known system for creating wealth. Instead of blindly accepting its Freidmanian theory that government is the great inhibitor of the private sector, a more balanced approach to meeting the needs of our society needs to be approached. Results speak for themselves as well--where are we today as a result of deregulation? There are limits to any philosophy, especially in a field as inexact as economics.

The first law of a capitalist economy should be smaller government; this perhaps might be a more appropriate direction to honor Freidman's legacy: less government spending. Government needs to work though, and it must regulate and tax no matter what. Some services will always have to be provided by the insurer of last resort. The only variable we can control is how well government does its job, its efficiency.

Capitalism's central flaw lies with how money flows to the top. In an America that's seen 8 consecutive years of American-style capitalism at work, the percentage of wealth held by the richest 20% has sharply risen. Historically this has led to times of great political tension and stress upon the status quo, likely to the detriment of the ruling elite.

Wealth does migrate to the wealthier for two reasons: 1) tax policy and 2) inflation. Tax policies have accelerated the accumulation of wealth by the rich but not done too much to help the overall economy. (Just because small business owners create jobs doesn't mean they are all rich!) One reason for economic decline is debt: the more the government borrows, the less available for private lending and consumption. Inflation is simply too much money entering the system, without a corresponding increase in economic activity. If everyone increases production and how hard they work, price increases would be nominal.

The capitalism-is-perfect crowd also fixates on government spending. They believe in talking about smaller government while denying libertarians their wish. Talking about lowering taxes is a way to avoid confronting the always growing federal budget. As a political expedient, lower taxes makes sense--people love to hear how they'll get to keep more of their money. And it ignores the systemic problem, which is irresponsible spending.

Herb Stein said that if something can't go on forever, it won't. There are only two likely scenarios that can emerge from reckless spending--or from inadequate taxation, which essentially defers taxation to the future. First, the government won't be able to spend, a situation that can only be rectified by more taxes, assuming no one wants to lend it more money. The second scenario is inflation--the government prints more money and pays for its spending with newly minted dollars.

There's a big catch with the second situation: the Feds don't control the issuance of our money, the Fed does. The latter is a private corporation composed of major banks who lend to the Treasury in exchange for Treasury bonds and notes.

If our government were to spend directly, chance are we'd be spending a lot more. Besides, Presidents who make those kinds of moves seem to end up dead. As I've said before, Lincoln, Kennedy, and Garfield all wound up replaced when they tried to give Congress back its Constitutional right to coin and distribute money. So the business of who controls our money supply is serious stuff.

Your typical American, mind you, won't know why he's paying higher taxes, more at the pump, or more for groceries. You might be told that inflation is the problem, but not that inflation came from spending too much on Iraq, or the bailout, or for inflated medical care costs, of to cover some failed government insurance program. Instead of chopping at the root, to borrow Thoreau's saying, our leaders and the media will deflect attention away from the cause of the inflation: reckless government spending and borrowing.

Inflation is a tax because it reduces the value of our money. Instead of taxing wealth from the rich in the form of taxes, dollars already out there become worth less. And the people who spend more of their money on life's necessities like food and energy will be disproportionally affected.

Unfair tax burden

It's a hallmark of all revolutions to confront disparities in income between the classes. American society has shown a tendency to grow unstable during times of great economic uncertainty. People look for alternatives to the capitalist model. This most recent credit crisis may damage relations between the classes. At a minimum, the perception of equal opportunity for all could be put at risk as social mobility declines.

High tax burdens for those who work, combined with Robin Hood-in-reverse tax liberation schemes for the rich, highlight disparities in incomes. The root of American working class financial struggles may lie with taxation assessed inappropriately. According to the 16th amendment of the Constitution, "No capitation or other direct tax shall be laid unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken."

I've struggled to understand what the Amendment means. Whatever the meaning, the 16th amendment has ushered in a period of regressive taxation, a pattern which accelerated during the Depression and continued past the end of World War Two. Some critics of the IRS have claimed income taxes violate the meaning of this clause.

Some like Devvy Kidd--interviewed by worldnetdaily--even challenge the passage of the 16th Amendment itself, claiming it wasn't ratified by the States as is required. In a 2001 interview Kidd explains his interpretation:
An income tax is certainly a direct tax -- probably the most direct tax of all -- since it cannot be shifted but must be paid by the person receiving the income. By specifying that direct taxes must be levied in accordance with the number of people, not upon what they produce -- as in the days of, say, ancient Egypt -- an income tax is simply out of the question. It cannot be levied upon a man, but must be levied upon what he receives.

Compensation doesn't represent a profit or benefit. Now legally we can be assessed taxes on what is already ours. With wages we give our time and effort and get back a commensurate amount of income back. No net gain is realized. Still, the Courts have consistently said that wages are subject to income tax. To tax, the Feds need an income, and to establish precedent they created the 16th Amendment.

Exchanges of time and services in lieu of compensation typically don't provide a taxable event. Wages are an exchange of value no different than if we traded an hour of our labor to another for an hour of their time. Typically, instead of trading our work for anothers, we accept money, and with it taxation.

Trading one's time with another contains a built-in mechanism to avoid taking advantage of another's labor. No doctor would give an hour of his time for yours, unless your time is well compensated. So you would make a profit, but then why would the doctor give up his time? No such transaction would take place.

If we could trade a acorn for a Cadillac, then yes, that'd be worthy of a tax, or sell land or stock for more than we bought it for, yes, those would justify taxation along Constitutional grounds. But our compensation is an exchange of equal value (time/effort for pay) and no gain is had, which would classify all income taxes as apportioned by census, or assigned to people, not in proportion to income. The federal government could only legally assess a tax unless it was shared equally by everyone at an equal rate.

A recent vindication through the Courts could prove problematic for the IRS. A federal court ruled that US coins can be counted as compensation at their face value. An employer had given old gold American coins with relatively low face values to his employees, in lieu of other forms of compensation. The lawsuit found him innocent, so don't be surprised to see more people try to pay in old US coins. One drawback could be reduced social security benefits if reported income goes down. But if inflation continues, those who've been paid in gold coin will likely be insulated from its effects (assuming they can save some of what they earn.)

Supplanting Federal Reserve Notes or their equivalent with hard currency represents a threat to the banking cartel's control over our money. Also the tax revenue lost by the IRS means that insufficient cash will be brought in to pay off the public debt. Whatever threatens the Fed's stranglehold over our monetary system, and confounds the IRS system constructed to sustain it, is a threat to the status quo.


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Monday, November 03, 2008

100th post comes on Election Eve

* * * 100th Post * * *
Wow! I was surprised to see that I'd been writing here for over two years, on an almost weekly basis. I want to thank any of my readers who've put up with a fair amount of substandard writing as I expand my writing repertoire to the political arena.

For the first time, I can admit that I used no spell check for the first eighteen months or so. My thinking was that it would force me to open a dictionary, and I did. Other than that, I've treated my power blogging as a learning mechanism, as well as a tool to develop journalistic skills. It has helped me to stay alert and involved in the world around me. The price has been tons of time and hard work, but looking back the effort was definitely worth it.

I've been posting at OpEdNews.com, a good site run by Rob Kall. My most recent entry there was "State Capitalism Fails." Typically, I'd submit my posts as an article, but that process can take a few days.

The election is coming so soon. I'm sure it'll dominate the entirety of the news stream, so I figured I didn't have a couple days. Plus, this blog is not about reporting major events that are well covered, but rather to explore issues that the corporate media won't cover.

In the midst of this election frenzy I do have to admit I'd rather not be focused on politics, but I believe politics are simply too important not to be covered. Like many others, I made the mistake of believing that the dubious outcome of the 2000 Election wouldn't matter as much as it did.

I just entered a vote prediction contest run by the Washington Post (available here.)

The contest has expired but I did have some fun playing with the interactive map. The link for my prediction, titled "A TIE", should be here:
<p><strong>><a href='http://projects.washingtonpost.com/2008/pick-your-president/'>2008 Election Contest: Pick Your President</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the 2008 presidential election.</p>

I turned the states red or blue based on my most conservative analysis, slanting to McCain. This reflects my opinion that the actual results will likely differ from pre- and exit polls in hotly contested regions. There've been numerous precedents for that divergence; I've been writing about electronic voting as one huge source of problems and likely manipulation for several years now. Hillary's surprise victory over Obama in the New Hampshire primary might be harbinger of what is to come.

Here is some of my abbreviated commentary explaining my electoral map choices--I admit the logic is twisted and incomplete:
"Indiana and Virginia are traditional Republican bastions. Massive disenfranchisement and caging and electronic voting malfunction will move hundreds of thousands of votes off the rolls in key districts, especially where minorities and FTVs (First Time Voters) make up a large constituency.
Ohio didn't go for Obama in the primary.
Florida will see huge numbers of Republicans along the I-4 corridor go to McCain.
Colorado and Missouri will have problems with their electornic voting systems, a common theme in the post-HAVA (Help American Vote Act of 2002) years."

Now if we are in fact tied, honestly I don't know what could happen. It's worth remembering that rather than elect our President directly, we go through an electoral system that might allow for results that don't reflect the popular will.

I've been influenced on account of a good article by Greg Palast on tricks that could cut down on the number of ballots counted at truthout.org. I recommend that readers go to bradblog for more information on electronic voting returns.

Whatever happens, I hope we don't see a quick capitulation on election night from Obama.

What follows is a comment I made on an article by Eric Nelson posted in OpedNews.com:
Bradley effect an excuse?
Appreciate the presentation of an alternative to the Bradley effect as a means of explaining divergence between polls and real voting. I share the author's inclination to disbelieve that people would tell pollsters that they'd vote for Obama then do the opposite.
A good poll would include some statistical rebalancing for the consequences of lying. The Bradley effect may simply be the term chosen to describe the impact of lying (at least about a candidate whi happens to be black), but not to induct this portion, however small, from any poll results would be a mistake.
While we can question whether polls include modifiers for lying, we can also question why they differ so much from the actual vote totals. The results on electronic voting machines have made them circumspect, and thus more paranoia--rightfully deserved in my opinion--has entered the politics and voting arena.
Before we discard the poorly named Bradley effect we do need to question the accuracy of polls in general. Also, if the results are within the margin of error, the results can be legitimate. If however, we see results outside that range, coupled with large-scale disenfranchisement and other problems, we can bet the GOP vote-stealing machine is back at work, as it was in 2000 in Florida and 2004 in Ohio. Bradblog has a lot of good info on blackboxvoting, as does Bev Harris .org site of that name.
If Obama loses, analysts might attribute it to the Bradley effect when in effect the differences in the results could be the product of flagrant vote fraud, a far less palpable (and far more problematic) phenomena than racism.

If Obama loses, it will not be because of the Bradley effect but the deliberate voter marginalization practices employed by the Republicans.

As I said in my diary entry on OpEdNews.com, the sheer numbers of registered Democrats makes a Republican win implausible, especially if people are inclined to vote against banker-friendly Bush-era policies in this age of great economic uncertainty.

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