Al Gore won, we're told today!

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2021

How Maddow and Gore are alike: Very early today, Kevin Drum's new post returned us to happier times.

His post appears beneath the headline shown below. We're incline to call the headline's claim perhaps a bit overstated:

Yes, Al Gore won Florida

Is it true? Is it true that Candidate Gore really won Florida in November 2000? It all depends on what the meaning of "really won Florida" is!

In his post, Kevin focuses on one of the findings from one of the (three) major reviews of the Florida election. 

That review was called The Florida Ballots Project; its findings were released in November 2001. Kevin quotes a retrospective report from CNN explaining how it worked:

PAYSON-DENNEY (10/31/15): A national media consortium—composed of CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Tribune Company, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The St. Petersburg Times, and The Palm Beach Post—paid for the National Opinion Research Center, or NORC, at the University of Chicago to review 175,010 disputed Florida ballots—61,190 undervotes and 113,820 overvotes.

After examining those 175,010 ballots, NORC found that Gore would have won Florida by 60 to 171 votes if those ballots had been carefully examined by hand. 

That may or may not be true; it all depends on how official teams of ballot examiners would have evaluated those ballots. For the record, there's little chance that any such review, involving undervotes and overvotes, would have resulted from the political procedures and laws which prevailed in Florida in real time.

That said, in the review of those ballots conducted by NORC, Gore ended up winning the state, by an extremely tiny margin. This takes us back to the happier times when the worst the liberal world had to fear was the presidency of George W. Bush!

Kevin's headline isn't exactly "wrong," though we'd say it may oversimply the situation a bit. For ourselves, we'd move past the narrow focus on those "disputed ballots" to consider two other factors which ended up delivering Florida to Bush.

One such factor was the bungled ballot design in several Florida jurisdictions. Almost surely, Gore lost several thousand votes in Palm Beach County alone due to that jurisdiction's confusing ballot design. 

This was simple human error at its most consequential. Almost surely, if Palm Beach County had designed a less confusing ballot, Candidate Gore would have won the state, and the United States of America might not have gone into Iraq.

This was basic human error at its most consequential. History changed on a badly flawed ballot design! We're told that the unfeeling gods on Olympus held their sides as they laughed.

That ballot design—that unintentional human error—changed the course of world history. Of course, a second factor allowed Bush to squeak by with a very narrow official win, thereby changing the course of world history:

We refer to the way the liberal world sat around and sucked its thumbs as the mainstream press corps—not the right-wing noise machine—conducted a journalistic war against Gore from March 1999 right through to Election Day.

(And years beyond. When Gore gave a major speech in September 2002 warning against going into Iraq, leading hacks of the liberal press firmament called him every name in the book. All the other timorous careerists else kept their careerist traps shut.)

We liberals! We sat around and sucked out thumbs as this press corps war proceeded. The history went like this:

In February 1999 Bill Clinton escaped removal from office. In the following month, the angry mainstream press corps launched its War Against Gore. 

At the time, it looked like this would be their last possible shot at Clinton, and they eagerly took it. Our deeply self-impressed liberal world was too dumb to see this happening and/or too compliant to complain. 

Sixteen years later, this war was still being played out in some of the puzzling journalism aimed at Candidate Hillary Clinton. One example was the New York Times' maniacal pursuit of "emailgate," a maniacism which Drum often cited and railed against.

There too, our tribe was still too dumb to see this for what it was, or was perhaps too compliant to howl in complaint. For the most part, this can be scored as unintentional human error too. 

In this case, our unintentional human error gave us the presidency of Donald J. Trump. And, as everybody knows, it's entirely possible that Donald J. Trump will run again in 2024, and he may even win.

Our point here is simple. In 1999 and 2000, our highly self-impressed liberal tribe was unable or unwilling to see what the mainstream press corps was doing. In truth, our tribe has never caught up with that remarkable story—a story whose extension through 2016 ended up giving us Trump.

Our tribe is very self-impressed. We constantly inform the world that we're the very smart ones. We've been this way forever.

That said, we weren't able to see what was happening then. Also, we've been unable, in the past thirteen years, to see how ridiculous Rachel Maddow's journalistic performance has been.

It isn't Maddow's fault that we've been unable to see this. It isn't her fault that her corporate owners put her on the air and paid her millions of dollars per year to entertain and dumbnify us.

"Honey, please stop your cooking," the Eternal Child said last Wednesday night. As a group, we're so dumb that we still think this gargantuan self-involvement and sense of entitlement is entertaining, endearing, amusing.

In fact. it's the ridiculous work of an absurdly ill-suited Eternal Child, one who didn't put herself on the air.

Human error rules the world—and error is unintentional. The fact that we couldn't see through this manifest nonsense doesn't mean that we're bad people, or that Maddow is. 

It does mean that we're a badly flawed group of people who ought to get over ourselves.

In 1999 and 2000, we were too dumb to push back against what the press corps was doing. From 2008 right through last week, we were too dumb to see how childish, uninsightful, unhelpful Maddow's journalistic behavior has been.

Our human error has been widespread, and that isn't Maddow's fault. On the other hand, people are dead all over world because we keep making these errors.

We have a standard explanation for what has happened in recent years, as human tribes often do. Amerika is full of racists, we like to say. No part of the ongoing political problem could possibly start with Us.

If we don't shape up, could Trump win again? Plainly, yes, he could. This makes us think of the good old days, when we had nothing to fear but the war in Iraq itself.

As Maddow continues to gambol and play, are we on our way to something far worse? We'll offer more of these musings next week, but the short answer would be a "yes."


24 comments:

  1. The media may have been mad at Clinton because the public forgave him, but Gore didn’t lose because of media persecution. He was a bad campaigner — worse than Hillary or Biden. Then he didn’t fight for the presidency but conceded. That is why liberals were mad at him. Then he left politics. He doesn’t deserve the torch Somerby has been carrying for him.

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  2. You forgot to mention that before the 2000 vote, Gov Bush purged a large number of Black voters claiming the were felons when they were not. This thing continues today in a number of Republican run states.

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    1. Somerby also fails to mention that the Governor at that time, Jeb Bush, is the brother of the presidential candidate, George W. Bush. Somerby thinks those odd ballots and the unwillingness to recount just arose out of nowhere, when it helps a candidate when his brother counts the votes in a key state.

      Somerby tells us there were 3 recounts, but he only talks about the findings of one of them. At least 2 showed Gore the winner:

      "In spite of the findings, no legal challenge to the Florida result is possible in the light of the US supreme court's 5-4 ruling in December to hand the state to Mr Bush. But the revelations will continue to cast a cloud, to put it mildly, over the democratic legitimacy of Mr Bush's election.

      Some 56,000 so-called "overvotes" were examined in the Washington Post survey. All of these ballot papers were ruled to be invalid votes on November 7 because they contained two or more punched holes in the presidential section of the ballot. Twelve Florida counties used voting machines where voting was by punch cards in this way, and eight of them participated in the survey: Broward, Highlands, Hillsborough, Marion, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Pasco and Pinellas. None of the ballot papers in the survey formed part of any official count or recount.

      The research shows that 45,608 of the 56,000 ballot papers (87% of the total) contained votes for Mr Gore, compared with 17,098 containing votes for Mr Bush (33%). In 1,367 cases, voters punched every hole except that for Mr Bush.

      In cases where the voters cast invalid "overvotes" in the presidential election, but then cast valid votes in the US senate contest lower down on the same ballot, 70% voted Democrat, Mr Gore's party, and only 24% voted Republican.

      The disproportion was especially dramatic in Palm Beach, whose butterfly ballot paper interleaved two lists of candidates in such a way as to show Mr Gore's name second on the ballot paper, but to require the voter to punch the third hole to record a vote for him."

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/jan/29/uselections2000.usa

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  3. "If we don't shape up, could Trump win again?"

    Al Gore encountered a little resistance and he caved. That, in itself, made him unfit to be president.

    Trump pushes people around because experience has taught him that most people won't push back. Why shouldn't he grab the presidency? Republicans dare us to stop them from taking things they haven't earned. They will keep doing it as long as it works.

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    1. Somerby believes that the way to stand up to Trump is to defend him and his minions gallantly and launch vicious, ill-informed attacks on those who do, or those who he's envious off, such as Blow.

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    2. "a little resistance and he caved". Riiight.

      Often, I read something like this and wonder about the mentality of the person who wrote it. I generally stop wondering s quickly as possible because I'm sure the reality would be pretty depressing, and things are already depressing enough.

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    3. Democrats wanted Gore to request a recount and to contest the election. He chose not to. THAT is why Democrats were angry at Gore. Somerby mischaracterizes this as being too dumb and self-impressed to recognize a plot against Gore by the media. That isn't what happened. Gore campaigned poorly, had numerous problems that weakened his support, and then conceded too quickly and would not contest the results despite having a basis for doing so. Somerby refuses to see Gore's contributions to his own loss.

      What were some of those problems? (1) Tipper's attack on rock and roll song lyrics, (2) appointment of Joe Lieberman as VP, (3) unwillingness to run on the accomplishments of the Clinton administration, (4) a sanctimonious distancing of himself from Clinton, saying that Clinton betrayed Gore, (5) unwillingness to be direct about the media attacks on him, which made him look ineffectual and foolish, (6) improper campaigning by accepting donations from China, using federal resources during campaigning, (7) inability to overcome a natural introverted nature which came across as stiffness and awkwardness.

      The press campaign against him was the same thing they do to every candidate and raised issues he must have heard previously (about growing up in a hotel or being elitist). This is the minutia Somerby fixates on, without ever addressing Gore's larger problems.

      Gore would have been a better president than Bush, but so would Hillary and Somerby never supported her, despite using Hillary and Bill's mistreatment to attack the press.

      Gore tripped over his own shoelaces. The media didn't pull him down.

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    4. Every campaign makes mistakes, even assuming all your blabbering actually ARE mistakes, rather than decisions that were made among alternatives all of which had their own drawbacks. Pointing out alleged mistakes and then saying "It's all Gore's fault" is what a blowhard dumbf%ck does.

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    5. Ultimately, it is the voters' fault. But it seems pretty obvious that Gore didn't do what he needed to do to win, up to and including conceding and not requesting a recount in FL. The media didn't do that. Gore did.

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    6. Calling someone a dumbfuck who blabbers isn't any kind of argument. It is just hostility. I doubt you have any actual points to make on this topic. Whether something is a mistake or not becomes clear when you get the election results.

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    7. The points are made. a blabbering dumbf*ck passing his opinions off as fact is a blabbering dumbf*ck, nothing more.

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    8. And the same goes for you too.

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  4. 'we were too dumb to see how childish, uninsightful, unhelpful Maddow's journalistic behavior has been.'

    It is true that Somerby is too dumb to realize that he can't spend 4 years defending Donald Trump, Roy Moore, Ron Johnson, Guiliani, Nunes, Gaetz and others without making it obvious that he's a Trumptard, a would be useful idiot for Trump. Fortunately, he is so pathetic that he ended up being a useless idiot for Trump.

    'It isn't her fault that her corporate owners put her on the air and paid her millions of dollars per year to entertain and dumbnify us.'

    I haven't had TV for many years, and I think I've watched maybe 5-6 episodes of Maddow's show several years ago. But I do remember listening to her on radio many years ago, and I don't think she's changed much since then (excluding the obvious difference between TV and radio). Somerby likes to claim Maddow's corporate 'owners' (perhaps he uses that word because he's been owned by her for many years now) put her on TV, but the fact is that she was able to develop a successful radio show and a successful TV show. Somerby hate for her seems to be pure envy because he has been totally unsuccessful, even when he tried to get Roy Moore elected, whereas Maddow is a success and unlike Somerby did not defend Trump for 4+ years.

    Obvious envy from the pathetic malevolent Trumptard that Somerby is.

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  5. 'In fact. it's the ridiculous work of an absurdly ill-suited Eternal Child, one who didn't put herself on the air.'

    But she did, through running a radio show, and making appearances on other programs, even programs such as Tucker Carlson's (although he was sane in those days). And when guest hosting, she had very high ratings. And she has kept herself on the air through running a program that brings in very good ratings.

    Somerby can't acknowledge this, of course, since he hates successful people (especially when they happen to be female). I mean, Somerby is incapable of learning Special Relativity after 20 years, and has an audience possibly 1/100,000th of Maddow's, pathetic Trumptard that he is.

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  6. The egregiousness of the 2000 election can be laid at many doorsteps, but the SCOTUS played the most nefarious role in the decision to grant the Presidency to Bush. A decision which, according to the court, may not be used as precedent in future cases.

    We ain't seen nothing yet.

    Leroy

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    1. I think the court knew it was out-of-bounds and didn't want the same mechanism used against Republican election winners by a court without a conservative majority.

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  7. Because the Republicans, via Fox News, have carried out a decades-long campaign to vilify Democrats, portraying us as evil people who want to destroy the American way of life, Somerby should be using his blog to counteract that brainwashing and portray liberals as good, decent people who want the same things most conservatives want out of life.

    Does he do that? Of course not. He joins the attack, trying to tear down both liberals and the mainstream media (which doesn't participate in the conservative vilification of the left). If there were any doubt about Somerby's intentions, you need only watch his behavior here in his own blog. He does nothing to decrease the polarization, while simultaneously claiming that the gulf between people exists because liberals are mean to The Other, when it is Somerby himself who is always on the attack, while claiming to be liberal himself and blaming the press, which generally does a decent job (excluding Fox and Newsmax and OANN).

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  8. The media seems to be ignoring the women's march that took place yesterday in 450 cities nationwide.

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  9. Bush probably lost thousands of votes due to a media error. The media reported that polls were closed at a time when the large portion of the state in the Eastern time zone had closed. "The northwesternmost part of Florida is the Panhandle, which stretches along the Gulf of Mexico to Alabama. Often called the “Redneck Riviera,” it is the most Republican part of Florida, regularly giving Republicans big margins in state and national elections. The nine Panhandle counties that are farthest west—Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Holmes, Jackson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, and Washington—are in the Central Time Zone, and one additional county, Gulf, is split between Central and Eastern Time. According to the Miami Herald, “It is only a few miles to the Alabama border from anywhere in the western Panhandle, but more than five hundred miles and a cultural light-year to Miami.”

    On Election Night, between 6:30 and 7:50 p.m. Eastern, anchors on all the major networks and cable channels reported over and over again that the polls in all of Florida closed at 7 p.m. Eastern. Not once did anyone on ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News Channel, NBC, or MSNBC inform the audience that Florida has two time zones and two poll closing times. During that hour and 20 minutes, 13 journalists asserted a total of 39 times that there was only one poll-closing time throughout the entire state of Florida." https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/polls-are-closed-they-lied/

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    1. People in Florida are used to that circumstance. In CA, where the polls close 3 hrs later than elsewhere, they routinely announce on the evening news that the polls have closed. But we know about time zones.

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