I was reading USA Today at lunch today and noticed that for the first time in decades a presidential candidate hasn't received a rise in the polls after a national convention. In fact, in some polls Kerry is actually doing worse now than he was 2 weeks ago. I flipped to the back of the magazine to read the weather section and something else caught my eye. Besides listing the temperature and possibility of rain the USA Today weather section also displays the Air Quality Index (AQI) of 36 cities. I noticed that only 2 cities had a rating of unhealthy, Houston and Dallas-Forth Worth. The description of the unhealthy rating advised avoiding strenous excercise in the open air and the like. Then I thought to myself, “Wasn't GW the governor of Texas just a few years ago?”.

Part of me is confused and dismayed by the fact that here's a president whose administration started a war under false pretences that has left thousands dead, under whom severe disrespect to the rule of law and the US constitution have been perpetrated,  and significant leeway has been given to corporations to abuse the environment and the American  people but yet it looks like he has a good chance of being re-elected. Then I talk to a couple of people who plan to vote for Bush this year and things become clearer. Like Doug Purdy mentions in his post U.S. Presidential Election II , many people in my field who make as much as I do care more about tax breaks and the like than any of the things Bush has done wrong or failed to do correctly. I even have a friend who's going to vote for Bush because he doesn't like Kerry's stance on gun control.

I'm curious about the various reasons people have for deciding to vote for Bush instead of Kerry in the coming election. I've listed two reasons above but imagine there are lots more that I can't see. Help me see things from your perspective.


Tuesday, August 3, 2004 10:20:40 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I'm not n US citizen, so it's no my election, but from talking with my friends from USA last week, they look on Bush vs. Kerry elections as at no-win situation. They do not like to vote for Bush too much, but they probably do so, just because they are rather conservative, and do not like Kerry's (or Democratic party's) opinions with regards to abortion or to euthanasia. They simply have never-change position with regards to these topics. Such rather religionally motivated decisions may play some role with many peoples.

Slavo Furman
Tuesday, August 3, 2004 11:07:03 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I'm not a US citizen myself either, but I think I'd have a hard time decided between Bush and Kerry. Or maybe not. While I don't regard Kerry as the most competent man for the job, I really think Bush has used up all the chances he should get. By now it feels like anyone would be better suited for the job than him. Who knows, maybe Kerry will surprise us?

Just my very personal opinion=)
Tuesday, August 3, 2004 12:53:07 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I'm a US citizen. I haven't voted in ages. Not because I am a bad American, well maybe it is, but more because we are consistently facing lose/lose choices. Corruption is so deeply vested in our government its ridiculous, and it ends up netting us bad choices for pretty much every ticket. There needs to be a fundamental change to our entire political system, but I won't be holding my breath.

In this lose/lose I would choose Kerry on the "Anyone but Bush" factor, but thats just my one sided half way educated position. Thankfully I live in a Democratic state (hint we just got a new Governor due to what, you guessed it, corruption), so I may not even have to vote again. I'd like to say I'm saving my vote for a real candidate, but may not see one in my lifetime.
Tuesday, August 3, 2004 1:33:21 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
The Electoral Vote Predictor at http://www.electoral-vote.com/index.html is including 16 new polls today. They show a jump for Kerry from 289 vs 232 to 328 vs 210.
Tuesday, August 3, 2004 2:08:24 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
When you vote for president, you are voting for more than just one individual, you are voting for an agenda. A vote for Bush is a vote for supply-side economics, a vote against abortion, a vote for the death penalty, and a vote to keep him in charge of the War(s). A vote for Kerry is a vote for the pro-choice movement, a vote for an increase in most social programs, a vote against the death penalty (except for terrorists). Lastly, and most importantly, let's not forget what we all know: neither candidate will keep all their campaign promises. We, as Americans, know this full well. So how does one decide? How do I decide when I am truly pro-life that is against abortion and against the death penalty (and against war)?!
Tuesday, August 3, 2004 2:33:09 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Christain nails the issue in US politics. I know loads of people who probably disagree with the GOP on substantiative issues but can't see past the abortion issue, for example. Your friend and gun control is another example, the death penalty is a good example as well. Bill Clinton discovered in 1992 that co-opting Republican issues (balanced budget, for example) was a very successful strategy (though Ross Perot gave him a boost too), but what it's effectively done is create a dialogue where both sides are saying the same thing and you can't tell them apart - the key is to be the first to claim the issue and Kerry isn't doing that, he's not guiding the dialogue. So people vote with emotions, and the longer the farce goes on, the stronger the emotions get. Now we have a country that's divided 48-48, where each side will vote for anyone but the other guy, and the other 4% are voting for none of the above. And that's in the 50-60% of the electorate that will actually bother to vote.
Oh, and you must never have been to D/FW or Houston - nobody cares about the AQI because they don't spend any time outside!
Tuesday, August 3, 2004 3:31:59 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
A lot of people feel that at least they know what Bush stands for. They don't feel the same way about Kerry: he keeps changing his opinions about things. If Bush wins, it will be by being more consistent than Kerry is.
Tuesday, August 3, 2004 4:55:19 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I started off writing a comment, but it got too long and I had to promote it to a post on my blog.

Tuesday, August 3, 2004 5:12:36 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
"Part of me is confused and dismayed by the fact that here's a president whose administration started a war under false pretences that has left thousands dead, under whom severe disrespect to the rule of law and the US constitution have been perpetrated

The war in Iraq was not fought under false pretenses - I find this meme irritating in the extreme. After 9/11, the administration decided that leaving a wounded animal - and one angry at the US to boot - out there was not a good idea. The aftermath of the Gulf War left Hussein in power, and the US and the UK with an endless mission (no fly zones) in the area. Hussein was itching to hit the US in a way that could not be easily traced - there was the plot to assassinate Bush sr. in 1993, for instance.

Secondly, every intelligence service on the planet believed that Hussein had WMD - heck, it sounds like Hussein thought so as well and his own people were snowing him. He had some leftover stocks - Sarin shells have been found since we went in (multiple), and over 1 ton of Uranium was removed 2 months ago.

The major point is, the administration never said that the threat was imminent - Kerry and his merry bomb throwers (like Dean) are lying every time they say that. What the administration actually said was that post 9/11, we could not afford to wait for a threat to become imminent.

Like it or not, once we made a hash of things in 1991, we left ourselves a problem. Either we should not have gone in at all then, or we should have finished it. Leaving Hussein in power was the worst possible result, and it had to be dealt with

As well, the war provides a way of taking the fight "over there" - I'd rather that our soldiers were fighting the war than civilians in NY and DC. We tried the judicial/negotiate approach to terror - from 1978 - 2001, through multiple Presidents and both parties. That approach clearly does not work - and it's the approach Kerry wants to return to. Trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results... hmm.

I'm not wild about the current domestic policies - too much spending and not nearly enough seriousness about border control to my mind. Kerry would be no better in that regard, and quite possibly worse. On foreign affairs, his stated goals are to return to the 1978-2001 policy - which, as I said above, is a proven failure. No thanks

Finally, you mention disregard for the Constitution. In what way? The Patriot act? For one thing, Kerry and Edwards both voted for. For another, please demonstrate actual abuses - and not fantasy thinking from CAIR either. The "library scrounge" meme is complete fantasy, for instance. If you are thinking of gay marriage, then look at the polling numbers on that - and you'll understand why both candidates - Bush and Kerry - are attempting to say as little as they have to on the subject. My take on that is that both of them would be happy to see that issue just go away - and in the interim, they will say the minimum possible (and do the minimum possible) to keep their bases in line.

On foreign policy, I find Kerry to be dangerously naive. He seems to think that he can wave some wand and get our "allies" (read: France, Germany) to come to Iraq. First, they have maybe 10,000 troops between them that could possibly be deployed there - both have small militaries, neither is modernized. Secondly, they aren't real allies any longer. Cast your mind back to the 90's - France was the same PITA then. Germany is responding to domestic political currents. Neither is going to change - and real allies don't change their policies based on which party is in power. Witness the UK, for instance. Kerry has been saying for the last 2 days that he has a "secret plan" to get out of Iraq. Shades of Nixonian silliness (look at archives of the 1968 campaign). Where would those foreign troops come from? The surrounding Arab states (about whicj, Iraq's leadership has stated that they DO NOT WANT those troops). Kerry wants to return to a diplomatic and negotiation based strategy. That hasn't worked, and I find him dangerously naive in believing that it can work.

Have a look here:


for an intelligent discussion of the war.
James Robertson
Tuesday, August 3, 2004 5:20:48 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I am not a US citizen but I think the problem is during these recent years, democrats haven't been able to articulate an alternative message. I think this is the most disappointing part. So, I wouldn't have any reason for voting for Bush but I wouldn't have a lot of reasons for voting for Kerry either.
Tuesday, August 3, 2004 7:59:09 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I remember Colin Powell's case presented to the UN being a compared to "a fifth-grade book report that would recieve an F" at the time. I'm still shocked anyone believed that garbage.

GW Bush is living proof that there are substantive differences between the two parties. I have a hard time believing Gore would have done anything as awful.

I'll be really depressed if there's another four years of fiscal bungling, environmental destruction, and Christian values being crammed down my throat.
Tuesday, August 3, 2004 8:31:24 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)

Please give me an actual example of "Christian values being rammed down your throat".
James Robertson
Tuesday, August 3, 2004 8:35:25 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
There is a bounce: http://www.electoral-vote.com/aug/aug03.html
Tuesday, August 3, 2004 8:46:24 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Too bad we can't vote for a president ala carte...

"Hmm, we'll take Bush's earnestness and charisma, mix in Kerry's stance against the way the war was executed and pro choice, add in a bit of Bush's supply side economics and Voila, our new president! JohnGeorge KerryBush!"
Tuesday, August 3, 2004 9:02:44 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Can we have co-presidents? Does the Constitution allow for that? :) One from each party.
Tuesday, August 3, 2004 9:16:43 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
whoops, hit "save comment" too soon.

There is a bounce as Sam says, it's just the smallest bounce ever. The really interesting thing about that graph is how weak Kerrys support is. The states seem to make up their mind more strongly about GW than Kerry. I'd predict that all the states with a blue border will get wiped out after the RNC.
Wednesday, August 4, 2004 12:52:50 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Christian values being shoved down your throat: how about a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage? Congress has better things to do. Some might also say that supporting govt money to faith-based charities qualifies.
Wednesday, August 4, 2004 1:31:50 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
There isn't half a real Christian value in that whole lot of elitist lying war-mongerers, that I can see.

Getting back on topic: I wouldn't vote for Bush and I can only venture guesses as to why people will actually do that:
- I vote Republican damnit! Always have, always will!
- The Reverend said so. Not in so many words, but I can take a hint.
- Fox News said so. Not in so many words, but...
- I'm rich, and that guy helps me stay that way.
- I'm poor, but too dumb to realize that guy helps me stay that way.
- Gotta kick them terrorist asses.

Once you take out all the headstrong southerners, the fundamentalist Christians, the Fox fans, the soul-less rich, the dumb poor, and the angry/scared people, you're left with very few votes...
Wednesday, August 4, 2004 4:08:25 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)

I assume that Dare actually wanted to understand Bush supporters; not hear misrepresentation of Bush supporters from a non-supporter.

Anyway, I think it is waaay premature to call this a Bush victory. I think this is the democrats' election to lose, incumbent president or not. Zogby still shows the electoral vote going to Kerry, and there is a long time until the election. It would be ironic if Bush were to win the popular vote this time, but lose the electoral vote.

The main flaw with the democratic campaign this year seems to be that they have focused almost entirely on "defeating Bush" rather than on a positive agenda. It is still hard to figure out what the difference between Bush and Kerry would be. For example, I was stunned when I watched the Kerry speech -- the audience of delegates was something like 80% anti-war, yet they sat there mute as the dems paraded soldiers, generals, video shots of war, "hero this, hero that", "band of brothers", and then Kerry spent an hour with military metaphors. It outdid anything the repubs have ever done in terms of sheer militarism and jingoism. By the same token, Kerry has come out as being pro-hunter, "personally against abortion, but politically it is up to the voters", "personally against gay marriage, but politically it is up to the voters" and so on. This is a difficulty for Kerry; he ends up being so close to Bush that his supporters are not going to be terribly motivated. I think things would be very different today if Dean had been the nominee.

There is plenty of time for the dems to correct this and latch onto substantive differences, IMO. There really is a good chance for dems to win. But it is do or die this time. If they do not win this time, I think it will be a generation before they win again.
Wednesday, August 4, 2004 5:22:32 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
OK, now my reasons. I don't expect Bush to win, and certainly not in my state, however I am going to vote for Bush anyway. Here is why (in descending priority order):

1) Foreign Policy - America has become a paper tiger; our dominant military is nearly irrelevant in the face of asymmetric threats, and it is only a matter of time until our economic might is surpassed. It may be impossible to preserve American supremacy, but it is not the job of the American president to lie down submissively and hope for kindness of the new overlords. Europe is even less relevant than America, and Kerry's focus on appeasing the Europeans is misguided. Ultimately, the next 30 years are a low-intensity (hopefully) proxy conflict between the U.S. and China, and China is infinitely more prepared for this conflict than the U.S. China has very good control over state secrets, and good control over the influence of foreign capital, dissidents, and other destabilizing forces within her borders. And on the other hand, the U.S. seems completely incapable of keeping secrets from China, or controlling foreigners within her borders. Do you trust the democrats to keep the influence of foreigners out of local politics? I don't.

2) Education - The educational system (pre-K through undergrad) in the U.S. has become a channel for inculcating children with the social agenda of the day. I saw much of this firsthand growing up. Kids today learn to be self-righteous but not to read. I want my kids to go to school to learn math, science, logic, and other useful skills. I do not want my children being preached to and indoctrinated, especially since all of the self-righteous tremble-lip stuff being taught today will be of very little use to our new overlords. Any party which promises to give me back some of my tax dollars to use at a school of my choice will get my vote.

3) Economic Policy - America cannot sustain a "nanny state". Europe is saddled with entitlements and is completely impotent to fend off the demographic changes of invasion by muslim immigrants. Europe is breathing her last gasps. Pouring even more money into medicare, social security, and other such programs is tantamount to national suicide. I favor a 100% estate tax, and do not mind higher taxes for the rich, but the taxes across the board need to be lowered. Government spending needs to be put on a diet. I realize that Bush spends like a democrat, but I trust the dems even less to control entitlement spending.
Wednesday, August 4, 2004 8:29:13 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
> Christian values being shoved down your throat:
> how about a constitutional amendment to ban
> gay marriage?

Stéphane, how is a ban on gay marriage a particularly Christian value? Last I checked, *every* organized religion defines marriage as a heterosexual union. Gay marriage IMO is one of those concepts that come out of individual liberty and sexual freedom, but that does not mean religious folk (of *any* faith) have to stand for it. (For that matter, even the 'godless' chinese communists don't seem to be too hot on homosexuality.)

Btw, personally, I believe in allowing people their sexual freedom. However, institutionalizing homosexuality in family life IMO is unhealthy long term.
Wednesday, August 4, 2004 9:07:40 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I find it telling that most longer, thought out responses to Dare's question are pro-Bush (or anti-Kerry?). Telling not necesserily of the fact that one side is more right than the other, but rather telling of how ineffective the Democrats have been at disseminating their message. (Which is?)
Wednesday, August 4, 2004 1:00:22 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Joshua: I would have been more helpful to Dare if I was a Bush supporter, I understand that. But I'm not so I'm doing my best trying to characterise them. I don't think I did such a bad job either: the reasons I listed really represent the bulk of the vote Bush will get in November (though I forgot gun nuts). I don't think the bulk of the Democrat vote will be rooted in any more smarts, if that makes you feel better.

The problem is that smart people who actually think this through have very little influence in the actual outcome (whether they are in one camp or the other). So when one President is particularly bad in somebody's opinion, they are aghast that there's still 48% of people supporting him and want to know how that could be! I offered my un-creative, yet accurate explanation.

As for your policy ideas, even though I disagree with most of them and cannot possibly see how they should be more important than the presidential lies and the erosion of civil liberties that Dare mentionned, I will at least take heart in the fact that you put some thought into this. Depressing as it is, I'm afraid I'm right anyway: the bulk of the vote will still come from shallow party-line thinking.
Wednesday, August 4, 2004 4:31:55 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)

I don't think the "presidential lies" thing is working. If you took a poll about, "who is more honest, Bush or Kerry", it is not a good strategy for the dems. In fact, I saw a poll which showed that even a large number of dems believe that Kerry will say whatever he thinks people want to hear. On the other hand, only a tiny minority of people believe that Bush intentionally misled (the definition of "lie"). Whether he was wrong or not, most people (including dems) believe that he actually believed the stuff and did what he thought was right.

Second, you are right that civil liberties are important. This issue probably has more potential for the dems to use, but they are playing it wrong. When a dem starts talking "civil liberties", people think ACLU. And when people think ACLU, they unfortunately do *not* think patriot act. They think, "remove God from the pledge", "remove ten commandments from the courthouse", "rabidly attack christian symbols", "gay marriage", and the list goes on. While these issues may be very important issues to some within the party, they are not winners at the polls and they do not rate highly in most people's priorities versus the issues I mentioned above. Again, I realize that the ACLU has fought some Patriot act cases (since I follow these things very closely), but I am just pointing out that most people have no clue about these cases, and have a concept of ACLU that makes it very hard for dems to woo conservatives and undecided with "civil liberties".

Finally, I think you overestimate the impact of "shallow party line thinking". With a close election it doesn't matter. The winner only needs to sway a narrow margin of swing voters to win, and the swing voters will decide based on what they think is right. As it is, Gore won the popular vote, which means Bush could not rely on "shallow party line thinking" to begin with. Add to this the fact that many people believe that Bush made some big mistakes, and Kerry has a real opportunity. This election is more in play than any election has been for a long time...
Wednesday, August 4, 2004 6:59:45 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
"Christian values being shoved down your throat: how about a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage?"

This is ultimately a moral issue, and one can easily define the secular position in favor as equivalently religious. Find a person strongly in favor of Gay marriage, and line them up with someone strongly opposed. Then try and figure out which opinion doesn't claim to be based on "true morality"

I think most people have the same thought process on this as they do on abortion - they are mostly uncomfortable with the topic, and mostly wish it would somehow "go away".

As well, note that people trying to get gay marriage approved via the courts are also trying to "ram belief down our throats". You don't object simply because you agree with them.
James Robertson
Wednesday, August 4, 2004 7:47:45 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
It is exceedingly difficult to gain firm footing with respect to political issues. Computer science and math are easier to comprehend in many respects because, normally, any text you read is grounded in emprical facts. Politics are more like 30% fact, 50% opinion and 20% propaganda thrown in for good measure. Both sides consistently present edge cases and slippery slope arguments in an effort to build outrage against the other. The Republican mantra can be summed up: "Democrats want to take your money and give it to lazy people who prefer a handout to honest work." The Democratic mantra can be summed up: "Republicans want to cut all programs that help the poor and the average Joe and give huge tax breaks to their rich friends who are all laughing at us behind our backs. They also want to limit our civil liberties." The plain truth is that both sides are right and wrong on a variety of issues. Here's my take on American politics and why I continue to unhappily vote for the GOP ticket.

Both parties want to spend your money on their pet agendas.
Both parties want to limit your civil liberties (Patriot Act vs. Gun Control).
Neither party truly respects life in *all* circumstances (Abortion vs. Death Penalty).
Neither party can single-handedly improve the economy in the short term, though both can equally harm it in the long term (Globalization vs. Protectionism).

Neither party impresses me on the war or the economy though I must say that the left at least has a balanced budget on its side.

The only thing left for me to vote on then, is social issues. I consider myself to be socially conservative. I don't believe in the moral relativism of the left. I feel very strongly that some things are right and others are wrong - and that is what winds up driving my vote 99% of the time and why I voted for Bush in 2000 (besides the fact that I find Gore's inflammatory rhetoric to be positively nauseating). I can't say "W" has my vote in the bag come November - in fact I "flip flop" daily between the candidates, but hopefully this gives you some insight into the mind of just another registered republican and why we vote the way we do.
Thursday, August 5, 2004 12:04:44 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
The abortion issue will likely be the swinging factor in my vote this November. I'm quite wishy-washy on just about everything else. That's not necessarily a good thing; it's just a fact. I'm still sorting out my feelings about foreign policy, the economy, etc. As usual with just about everything in life, I need to gather more information, more information...

It's hard for me to take a passionate stance on a number of different issues. I'm easily swayed by all the arguments and perspectives. But I have noticed a personal choke point. Maybe it's because I now have my own children, but I'm finding that when something comes down to the well-being of children--the truly innocent and defenseless--I can get passionate.

I am moved by the fact that fathers are abandoning their own children for no other reason than they don't want to be fathers anymore. The general epidemic of fatherlessness in this country hurts me and angers me deeply. How do we stop this? This is a difficult issue.

To me, abortion is not a difficult issue. Certainly, it is an uncomfortable one. Why? Is an unborn child innocent? Defenseless? Inconvenient?

Every age has its blind spots--"moral fashions" as Paul Graham calls them (in "What You Can't Say", http://www.paulgraham.com/say.html). I don't pretend to know our blind spots, but I'm suspicious that someday we'll look back and see through all the deafening nominalizations of "freedom" and "choice" to the reality of what we quietly and routinely allowed to happen behind the curtains every day. It's worth considering.
Thursday, August 5, 2004 2:00:53 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I wish you luck finding unbiased information to educate yourself with on the issues that matter to you. I've found it so damn hard to do. Every time you read some paper or survey, you have to check who did the survey or wrote the paper. Political papers are funny in that the person writing the analysis almost always has an agenda and usually presents the facts that support their world view. Take Michael Moore for example in his Farenheit 911. He selected which facts he would present and which he would conveniently edit out. I'm not singling him out to attack the left - believe me the right does the same thing - but rather to illustrate a point. Take polls for instance. Who was polled? What was the context? Who did the polling? How were the questions phrased? What was the sample size? Can you get the raw data? No one has time to sift through all this stuff and both sides use that to their advantage. It would be nice to have a serious third party in this country that stood half a chance of winning, not just spoiling. It would certainly make politics much more interesting.
Friday, August 6, 2004 9:58:02 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I really can't believe it if someone is still voting for bush(Note: I'm not a US citizen). During the election 4 years ago, the whole world was against bush for president, accept a minorty of US citizens. If someone still votes for Bush, he seriously lacks every sense of reality.
He has been president for 4 years and the world is a lot worse by his wrongdoing. He constantly misguides the US people, only making himself and his friends better.
Furthermore, you now you aren't voting for Bush or Kerry, but the administration. Bush is just a puppet. He is even dumber than a pig's ***, this man can't do anything himself, but still, this is a man capable of destroying the world in 5 minutes.

I notice that a lot of the votes is based on a man's looks, his family / friends, etc. etc. etc.

I do not know the family or the friends of our prime minister and he looks like a real-life harry potter, but I do now that he is a very intelligent man, and can answer questions without preparing answers upfront.

PLEASE, my American friends, take a step back and look to reality, and make the better of the two choices.

-- Rob.
Friday, August 6, 2004 4:57:56 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
First, thanks Dare for the open thread. I, too, am interested in understanding conservative positions more fully. Though I doubt I will be swayed, I do think that America would be better regardless of who wins the election if there were less discord between the two parties and more discussion.

Second, I'd like to understand how it is that conservatives think that allowing same-sex marriage is ramming anything down anyone's throats. The courts have not required anyone to marry a person of the same sex; they have only said it should be allowed if it is desired. Conversely, a ban on same-sex marriage does affirmatively prohibit an act that is otherwise allowed if the two people happen to be of different sexes. Those two positions seem very different to me. How do conservatives see them differently?

On the same topic, the anonymous responder to Stéphane notes that to the best of his knowledge all organized religions define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Even if this were true, (It isn't: http://www.uua.org/actions/immediate/96same-sex.html) why do conservatives believe that should inform our laws on civil marriage? Civil and religious marriage are two distinct ceremonies. No court in the land could compel a church to bless a union that that church doesn't recognize. Churches may choose not to bless interreligious marriages (e,g., http://interfaith.goarch.org/interreligiousmarriageoc.asp), but does that mean the government should prohibit them?

Tuesday, August 10, 2004 12:50:29 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I'm English, and so can't vote in the U.S. But even if I could I wouldn't want to vote for either Bush or Kerry, both of whom seem to be establishment big business types.

I'd probably vote Libertarian as that approach is at least intellectually coherent and consistent - Stay Out of the Boardroom and Stay out of the Bedroom.

But if your main concern is ordinary citizens and their freedoms, then in U.S. politics you're screwed.

David Wildgoose
Tuesday, August 10, 2004 4:27:26 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Since you asked.

The following partial statement that you make is incorrect and slanted in an ugly way. Propoganda.

"a president whose administration started a war under false pretences that has left thousands dead, under whom severe disrespect to the rule of law and the US constitution have been perpetrated"

Try this instead, (with a truly unbiased mind if possible)

"a president whose administration started a war for many reasons, only one of which was WMD (which is still not exactly clear what happened to them, and by the way, given the intelligence at the time ALL people involved concluded the same, including the Russians) ...Also, that has left less than 2000 thousand volunteer American soldiers dead over the course of 2 years and to give a 'chance' of Freedom to over 25 million people that never would have had it otherwise. In addition to setting up a Honey Pot location for our enemies to be fighting, instead of say, on Staten Island, in addition to trying to set up a democratic system in the middle east. If you don't think that is a good thing, then maybe Uday and Coosay and Sadamm ought to be allowed back into power. Please! The brainwashing of the media and the ignorance of the Libs is disheartening.

There is so much more, but lastly,

You write, "under whom severe disrespect to the rule of law and the US constitution have been perpetrated"
I believe you have been brainwashed by the media... The International Law / or the Law of the UN, which the French/Russians/and Germans have milked at the expense of Iraqi people for money...is the only law that the US may choose to disrespect ... it is not the US Constitution and their is a big difference.... The bottom line, George Bush is a Great Leader who has values and principles that will over time make a positive difference in the world, He has staked his presidency on the war against those who would and will attack us (and others) and want us and our way of life ... Unfortunately some folks just don't get it! Pleased wake up and stop the propaganda against our country and the facts! Stop the distortion as in your original post and the obscuring of 'all' the facts. Libs like to just put out there the pessimism and the negative. Try watching FOX news along with CNN, or conservative talk radio along with NPR.. then make your decision... The world works more like a prison than a church my friend! Unfortunately, as with a bad religion, your view seems to be what has been fed to you on the boob tube and in the slimy liberal rags that don't report the facts, they report only the facts and in a manner that supports their agenda. I hope this is helpful in seeing why most of us are for George W. in 2004.
Scotty W
Saturday, August 14, 2004 2:33:46 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
In reference to: http://www.25hoursaday.com/weblog/CommentView.aspx?guid=ecce4ecd-5da4-45f3-a13e-2a6c21d030f5

Joshua, I've been meaning to respond to your comments for a while now but then came back from MGB, got a nasty cold and fever, plus lots of work, flying around, and the like.

This is in regards to the accountability posting and the comment I made a while back stating that the rich save more than the poor, and as a result the Bush tax cuts is not an effective stimulus for a slow-growing economy. Setting aside the fact that jobs growth has been slowing down tremendously despite *record* monies spent on tax cuts, I think we're viewing things in two fundamentally different ways. I gather from your comments that you went through a certain thought process or experiment where you analyzed things at the margin and made assumptions which led you to believe that the rich are actually more likely to spend than the poor, thereby justifying the top-heavy tax cut approach.

Here is an alternative view. For a point of reference most of us can agree to, here is a set of time-series data from the Bureau of Labor Statistic's Consumer Expenditure Survey:


income share of fraction of contribution
quintile total income income saved to overall
(fifth) (I) (savings rate, saving rate
or S) (I times S)
1981 TO 1983 AVERAGE
lowest 3.9% -108.2% -4.2%
second 10.1% -15.4% -1.6%
third 16.7% 6.3% 1.1%
fourth 24.8% 18.4% 4.6%
highest 44.4% 31.3% 13.9%

Overall savings rate (1981-83) 13.7%

1987 TO 1991 AVERAGE

lowest 3.8% -122.6% -4.7%
second 9.3% -28.1% -2.6%
third 15.8% -0.9% -0.1%
fourth 24.3% 12.2% 3.0%
highest 46.9% 30.6% 14.4%

Overall savings rate (1987-91) 9.9%

Source. Consumer Expenditure Surveys, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
U.S. Department of Labor.

Besides the obvious fact that the rich do save significantly more then the poor, here's some context behind this trend that should leave little room for doubt.

Beginning in the mid-1970s the share of their incomes which U.S. households save steadily declined, and this drop accelerated in the 1980s. According to household surveys, the savings rate averaged 13.8% of income during 1981 to 1983, but fell sharply to 10% during 1987 to 1991.

Most economists, and many policymakers, believe this decline is a critical economic problem. Why? First, since they view saving as the source of capital for business investment, lower savings will mean higher interest rates, resulting in less investment and slower economic growth. Second, higher interest rates will harm consumers by making it more difficult to finance home mortgages, car loans and other purchases. Third, the current generation, by not saving enough, will face greater hardships in retirement.

While economists and policymakers of many political stripes agree that we should be deeply troubled about this situation, they don't agree on why the rate fell, or what to do about it.

One political viewpoint, that of "supply side" economics, became prominent in part due to concerns during the 1980s about the falling savings rate. Among other things, supply-siders argue for redistributing income toward corporations and the wealthy, on the theory that these sectors save at higher rates. But while such a redistribution has taken place during the past 15 years, overall savings have continued to fall.

Evidence from recent decades shows that while the rich are saving more, this increase has been outweighed by dramatically lower savings from all other income groups. And the reason is that widening inequality has so harmed the incomes of moderate- and low-income households that they are unable to save, and in fact are living on borrowed money (dissaving).

One problem with standard models (and every day folks as matter of fact) is that they assume all households, regardless of their income or wealth, make consumption decisions in similar ways. All families, the models assume, balance their current consumption needs versus the need to save for retirement, and all have reliable estimates of their future income. These assumptions are suspect for several reasons.

First, only households that have relatively stable sources of income can make long-term decisions concerning future consumption in retirement. But a large and growing number of households face great uncertainty concerning their jobs and income. Second, many households, even if they would like to save for retirement, cannot do so, because they don't have enough income to cover their current consumption needs.

Standard models also fail by assuming that households adjust their behavior similarly whether incomes rise or fall - when they rise, households consume more, and when they fall, households consume proportionally less. But the "Relative Income Hypothesis" (RIH), suggested in 1949 by economist James Duesenberry, argues that when incomes decline (such as in a recession) households resist giving up the consumption patterns they have become accustomed to.

To maintain their previous living standards, households will either reduce their savings rates, consume out of previous savings, increase their use of debt, or raise household income by having another household member enter the labor market. This all can be summed up by what someone said to me recently: "it's amazing to see how customer care representatives at my company are driving BMWs and Lexus on a 30K a year salary." I make a bit more yet I bought a Nissan Altima in 2002, albeit souped up a bit with a V6 and spoiler but at least 10K cheaper than the former two.

In other words, the more wealthy you are on the economic continuum, the more likely you are in making more rational economic decisions that involve heightened consideration of future and present values of costs and returns of goods and assets (many with help of fine accountants everywhere), which lead in the end to a much higher rate of savings to play a large part. This trend persists through times of growth and recession over the long-run (note how static the results held over the decade-long time series). If one had time to dig the more recent '01, '02, and '03 survey data, it would show the same trend.

As such, the Bush tax cuts are not very effective given such economic realities. The problem is only worsened considering that the tax cuts are funded on borrowed money that is costly, debt-financed by our very willing co-optitors of the Far East and Europe.

It would be instructive to understand given the shift in income toward the wealthy during the 1980s, what caused the decline in savings rates from 1981-83 to 1987-91? It was not a lack of savings by the richest Americans, but rather by everyone else. The dissavings rates of the lowest two fifths rose, while the savings rates for the third and fourth fifths (perhaps approximating the middle class) fell greatly.

In 1981-83 the lowest two fifths dissaved at rates of-108% and - 15% respectively, while in 1987-91 their negative saving rates grew to -122% and -28%. In addition, the third fifth went from net savers to dissavers, while the savings of the fourth fifth fell from 18% to 12% of their incomes.

The savings rate of the wealthiest fifth of households also worsened slightly. But this was more than offset by their increased share of national income. As a result, this was the only income group that increased its total savings (from a 13.9 to a 14.4 percentage point contribution toward the overall savings rate, as shown in column three of the table).

Many analysts expected the overall U.S. savings rate to rise as wealthier households, with higher savings propensities, gained a greater share of the total income. And supply-side theorists continue to recommend shifting income toward the wealthy as a means of raising total savings in the United States.

But the evidence demonstrates the opposite - higher savings by the rich did not make up for the severely reduced savings of the remaining 80% of households. As some economists have argued, the bottom three fifths found it necessary to increase their dissaving in order to maintain living standards in the face of stagnating real incomes and rising costs of living, especially for housing, since the early 1970s.

In the end, the tax cuts are needed much more by the middle- and lower-income class (by middle, I mean most of you and I making less than $200,000 a year), more to butress up the savings rate *and* to increase the consumption rate since the rich (BillG and his closest 1,000 friends) ARE NOT spending but investing for the rest of us to consume. Bush's belief in discredited "trickle-down" supply-side economics of the 80's is a disaster for this day and age of debt-driven foreign-funded demand, coupled with oil and basic materials volality and price increases, political instability, and a wholesale lack of investment in education, technology and research vis-a-vis the G-8 and *China*.
Saturday, August 14, 2004 2:42:49 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Hopefully the time-series chart is better formatted below:

income share of fraction of contribution
quintile total income income saved to overall
(fifth) (I) (savings rate, saving
rate or S) (I times S)
1981 TO 1983 AVERAGE
lowest 3.9% -108.2% -4.2%
second 10.1% -15.4% -1.6%
third 16.7% 6.3% 1.1%
fourth 24.8% 18.4% 4.6%
highest 44.4% 31.3% 13.9%
Overall savings rate (1981-83) 13.7%

1987 TO 1991 AVERAGE
lowest 3.8% -122.6% -4.7%
second 9.3% -28.1% -2.6%
third 15.8% -0.9% -0.1%
fourth 24.3% 12.2% 3.0%
highest 46.9% 30.6% 14.4%
Overall savings rate (1987-91) 9.9%

Source. Consumer Expenditure Surveys, Bureau of Labor Statistics,U.S. Department of Labor.
Sunday, August 15, 2004 8:57:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I know I'm kind of late for the party, and no, I won't be voting for Bush. I just wanted to address Scott and the others who think the Patriot Act isn't being abused. Here's a link from the Seattle Times from last month http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2001992821_smuggling29m.html
and another from last year -- just to show that the idea isn't a new one!
Will Harden
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