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Fuck Yeah, again
I have purchased no album this year finer than the “Team America” soundtrack. Anyone who’s seen it can tell you that the music is funny, but HOW funny doesn’t come across until you really listen to the stuff. Pretty much every bad pop music trend is brought up – the love ballad has those stupid guitar riffs and string sections, “Montage” mirrors the structure of “Holding out for a Hero,” the sad “I miss you” song has those hideous synthesizer booms like “Take My Breath Away.” And there are lyrical inflections which were hard to hear in the theater but are HILARIOUS on disc.

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Tone tone tone*
One anecdotal election analysis I keep hearing is that Michael Moore cost the Democrats a lot of votes. You know, I just don’t see it. I think the most important cultural development of the last two years has been the viral growth of a Democratic counter-establishment. Before 2002 or so, Michael Moore was such a has-been that I could interview him. Now he’s a polarizing pop figure with an immense following that includes dozens of elected officials.

When I saw Air America ramping up and Michael Moore taking off and Maureen Dowd ruling the bestseller list over the last year, I felt like the liberals had figured the game out. They’re pissed off and out of power, like conservatives were after Clinton’s 1992 election. Does it matter that many people find Al Franken and Michael Moore abrasive? Nope, no more than it mattered that the Americans of 1993 found Rush Limbaugh abrasive. Angry, loud voices that keep the disenfranchised party fired up are a very good thing.

If the hubris of the last few days (borking Specter like 12 hours after Bush talks about unity?) is any indication, the GOP leadership is going to overreach as badly as Clinton’s Democrats did in 1993-1994. The liberal counterestablishment is set to agitate its base as much as the conservative counterstablishment did 12 years ago.

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Election thoughts
A word of advice: News organizations require you to work more hours when there’s more news. So elections are not fun.

As a Kerry supporter and terror-vulnerable beltway resident, I’m not pleased with the way the election turned out. But as a writer and reader, I’m pretty happy. Consider –

– terror scare tactics are fading as an electoral tool. It’s generally agreed that Bush won because social issues voters turned out in droves. Kerry did better than expected among voters concerned with national security. And two senators the GOP had hoped of bumping off – Patty Murray in Washington and Russ Feingold in Wisconsin – easily survived, and easily outpaced the Kerry votes in their states. Their opponents directly linked them to terrorism, saying they basically supported Osama by not backing the Patriot Act and President Bush. And the ploy didn’t work. The GOP ended up winning its Senate seats in Bush states.

– along the same lines, the “vote for Bush or Osama wins” argument is finally over. No one can accuse the 2006 Democrats or their 2008 presidential candidate of wanting to give in to terrorism, and no one can whine about Madrid (voters apparently defeating a pro-Bush government to appease terrorists).

– social conservatives can now put up or shut up. They have the chance to reverse Roe and ban gay marriage. Now they can do it and stop whining about those godless liberals stopping them. If it’s anything like the Woodrow Wilson era, the last time of constitutional amendments, they’ll get their social issues through then get the shit backlashed out of them.

– the end of blaming Clinton. Every time Bush says the word “mandate,” another voter realizes that he can’t blame someone else for anything that goes wrong. This goes for National Review Online writers, too. Yeah, Donald Luskin. I said you suck.

– Ralph Nader’s humiliation. In the 1990s, we could entertain the notion that the two party system was the root of all our problems. That’s over now, and it’s wonderful that Ralph Nader got to learn this first hand. His vote utterly collapsed from 2.9 million to around 400,000. It could only be sweeter if Badnarik got another 25,000 votes and beat Nader for third.

– Republican hubris. Unless they defy all of history and turn their sixth year of power into a roaring success, the GOP will overreach, blunder with some stupid tax policies, and alienate moderates. Then they’ll waste $30 million trying to wrest Hillary Clinton’s senate seat before she defeats George Pataki 58-40. Absolute power corrupts.

– the evengelicals. The new conventional wisdom that Democrats need to restate their beliefs to overcome the “liberal elitist” hobgoblin means no “Howard Dean would have won” articles. And it means at least 75% fewer “Hillary 2008” articles. The Democrats have been quietly recovering and winning governorships in quite a few red states – Arizona, Wyoming, Montana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Tennessee, North Carolina. That’s the wave of the future. Not Indian-style presidential dynasties. It’s obvious that an attractive, Christian liberal can win the presidency in 2008 by taking the Kerry states and Ohio. Eventually pundits will stop slobbering over Hillary and realize that.

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Election prediction
For a few weeks I’ve been saying George Bush will be the first Republican to lose Ohio and win the White House. That is still a possibility, if things break his way. But I believe enough things have broken against this unpopular wartime president to elect Kerry on Tuesday. A few factors:

– The terrorism factor. For months, Bush has held a huge lead on the question of “who do you trust on the war on terror?” That lead got gut-punched after a week of al QaaQaa and Osama. Look at Gallup. Two weeks ago, Bush lead on that question 61-36. One week ago, he led 59-37. Now he leads 54-43, and among registered voters, he only leads 52-43. Since even Bush will tell you 9/11 and terror are his best issues, that spells doom.

– Loss of confidence. In 2002, post-Afghan war, Bush’s approval hung around 65 percent and he had a monolithic amount of trust on national security, and he campaigned to win a 53-47 percent GOP victory. But the swing voters who trusted him in 2002 have lost faith. They’re not willing to give the benefit of the doubt any more.

– Swing state economics. Voters in the rust belt have staggered more in this economy than voters in the safe Bush states. They’ve lost manufacturing jobs and they’re shelling out a lot of money for gas. Bush is underperforming in all of these states compared to his 2000 polls, except for Wisconsin.

– Democratic motivation. Republicans will have their best GOTV campaign in modern history. Democrats will still do it better. There are simply less Americans weeping at “Ashley’s Story” ads and waving giant golden W’s than there are 2000 and 2002 burn-outs who have become incensed by the Iraq war and the sluggish jobs situation. Do voters like to vote FOR candidates instead of AGAINST them? If that was 100% true, Bush wouldn’t have run such a vicious campaign against Kerry. His support among nominal Republicans is overrated, whereas Kerry and Edwards’ support is the most motivated since Truman’s in 1948.

Here’s what I see. All times are ET.

7:00 – Polls close in Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont, New Hampshire and Virginia. Instant calls are made in the first 5 states, and Bush has the traditional Republican lead of 42-3. New Hampshire goes for Kerry soon thereafter, and it’s 42-7.

7:30 – Virginia is called next for Bush, and it’s 55-7. Then North Carolina, West Virginia and Ohio close. The first two states go to Bush, giving him 75-7. Ohio is too close to call, but Bush is underperforming compared to 2000.

8:00 – The East Coast starts closing, and Kerry reverses his lopsided numbers. Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Michigan all go Kerry. Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee all go Bush. New Jersey and Pennsylvania go Kerry soon thereafter. Now it’s 125 Bush, 103 Kerry. Florida is too close to call.

8:30 – Arkansas closes and, after 10 minutes, goes to Bush. 131-103.

9:00 – New York goes to Kerry, Texas goes to Bush. Arizona, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming go to Bush, while Michigan, Minnesota and Rhode Island go for Kerry. New Mexico flips to Bush, giving him the first steal of the race so far. Colorado, Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida are all too close. Now it’s 200 Bush, 165 Kerry.

9:00-something – Ohio is called for Kerry. The flip from 2000 makes it Bush 200, Kerry 185.

10:00 – Montana, and Utah go to Bush for 208 votes total. Nevada and Iowa are too close to call.

11:00 – Big movement for Kerry. Washington, Oregon, and California fall to him easily. Hawaii is called surprisingly early. North Dakota and Idaho go to Bush. Now it’s 262 Kerry, 215 Bush.

11:00-something – Iowa and Florida go to Kerry, and he wins the presidency.

12:00-something – Alaska, Nevada and Wisconsin go to Bush, Colorado goes to Kerry. Final result – Kerry 305, Bush 233.