Oh, no! Not another "Kerry won" diary!

Note: see "late update" below.

Well, not really, but this report from USCountVotes has gotten surprisingly little attention, even in the left blogosphere where you would think it'd be most warmly received.

In this report, USCountVotes analyzes the claim that the discrepancy between the 2004 Presidential vote and the exit polls was caused by Bush voters' greater reluctance to be interviewed by exit pollsters. That claim is found severely wanting. Instead, the evidence suggests the worst discrepancies were in GOP strongholds, which is consistent with (but doesn't prove) the hypothesis of widespread GOP tampering in areas they control. It would also be consistent with the observation that GOP-leaning demographic groups, like the fundies, appeared to swing even more toward the GOP in 2004 than in 2000.

There's more...

Fight Terror -- or Fight Drugs?

Well, having thoroughly screwed up Iraq, W is now getting ready to screw up Afghanistan.

Here's W's problem: You see, the Taliban were great on the drug war. Really, really great. They were the only government of Afghanistan in recent history to successfully suppress Afghanistan's opium trade. But they had a few annoying policies too - like placing all the women in their country under virtual house arrest, destroying centuries-old art and culture they didn't like, and - particularly - harboring and supporting Osama bin Laden and his not-so-merry band of radical fundie terrorists.

So after OBL's terrorists murdered 3000 people on 9/11/2001, we overthrew the Taliban and installed their rivals, the so-called Northern Alliance. They weren't really that much better, but at least they weren't in cahoots with OBL.

But they haven't done nearly as well on the drug war. In fact, they've made oodles of money off of it as Afghanistan returned to its historic role as the world's leading opium/heroin supplier. And although we can't be sure, it wouldn't be surprising if Al Qaida and the Taliban are cashing in too.

So W now wants to solve the problem the only way he knows: brute force. It won't work.

DOJ to require RFID chips in US passports

If you think you might need to flee the United States someday, but have put off getting a passport, you might want to get one ASAP. The ACLU reports:

The Bush Administration ignored warnings by privacy and security experts and foreign governments when pushing new remotely readable biometric passports, according to State Department documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union. Because of the U.S. action, passports issued to Americans in coming years will contain Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips that will broadcast all the personal information on a passport to anyone who comes within range with an RFID reader.

"What the documents show is that the U.S. government was repeatedly told that these passports would pose significant threats to our privacy and safety," said Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Program.

The U.S. passports, which are currently being bid out for contracts and will contain a face-recognition biometric as well as the RFID chips, are being designed in accordance with a standard developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).  It was during the process of developing that standard that the United States spurned security protections for these passports despite the warnings of security experts and the objections of other governments.

The remainder of the ACLU press release is below the fold.

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How the Dems can get Over the Top

The depression is finally beginning to lift, and I'm starting to see clearly again.

First off, we really didn't do that bad. This wasn't a blowout like in '72, '84, or even '88. We only lost by three percentage points, right?

That said, however, it's not immediately obvious where the Democrats can go for that last 3%. After all, we worked our a$$es off this year, like most of us have never worked before. And we still came up short.

Making matters even worse is that the difference apparently hinged on "social" issues, like gay marriage. This may explain why Democrats only got 60% of the Hispanic vote, when they usually get 65% or more. Many new Hispanic voters came to the polls, but they broke toward the Republicans on issues like abortion and gay rights.

This is going to tempt a lot of Democrats into that deadly "move-to-the-right" dance, which has gotten us where we are today. To become the majority party again, Democrats need to resist that temptation. Instead, we need to tap a reservoir of socially liberal voters we've failed to reach so far: youth.

There's more...

Critiquing the New America Foundation

The New America Foundation is a think tank that bills itself as offering "fresh solutions ... that are neither left nor right. The Los Angeles Times recently published an article by their CEO, briefly describing some of their "fresh" solutions, in the hopes that Kerry and/or Bush will adopt some of them.

Indeed, their proposals are neither liberal nor conservative. Some are quite inspired, but others leave me cold. Many sound more like clever soundbites than serious attempts to solve serious problems, at least from my "left" perspective. Here are my thoughts on their proposals:

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