Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Diagnosis Nonsense

The right's overblown case againt Kofi Annan is clearly unraveling. If they continue to press it, they will be implicitly impugning the credibility of Paul Volcker. To quote a great political strategist (many of them, in fact): "be my guest!"

Lefty Britisher Ian Williams -- who I saw arguing with some jerk (I think it was Joel Mowbray) on CNN yesterday about whether or not the US should step up its foreign aid, the alternative (I guess) being to consider it business as usual when hundreds of thousands of poor people die every time there's a natural disaster somewhere OVER THERE (yes, Carl Schmitt is doing a rotisserie in his grave, seeing that even tsunamis are POLITICAL) -- says it's probably just another case of "moving the goalposts." In other words, the next time Kofi Annan criticizes a US President, or dares to suggest that a US action might be illegal under international law, David Frum will be able to point to a pile of unproved accusations about the UN and whine about moral equivalencies. Perhaps you remember that whole 'media bias' thing...

When It's Necessary To Cry Wolf

Newly minted Washington governor Christine Gregoire won her recount fight, says John Nichols, because she wasn't afraid of crying wolf when she actually saw one. This may be the first time that The Nation has had the gall to compare Election 2004 with Election 2000. You can quibble that it's not actually The Nation, just John Nichols. OK, fine. It's true that the editors haven't really said much, though the always-wary-of-never-being-asked-back-by-PBS David Corn has dished out considerable bile for anyone crying foul about electoral hanky-panky in Ohio. (Cf. Corn's tight-rope walking on the Gary Webb issue.)

But expect more as the Conyers investigation continues. And remember: The Nation has the largest circulation (140,000) of any opinion magazine in this country. When it speaks, a lot of people listen. And if it wants to throw stink bombs in every precinct in Ohio, Washington's gonna have to smell it.

The King of Sore Losers

Could Yanukovych really be such a sore loser that he would make an eleventh-hour effort to privatize state assets and raid the treasury (in his capacity as prime minister) before fading into miserable obscurity -- and probably exile in Russia? This WaPo article suggests the answer might be yes.

You know what they say. If you can't beat 'em, jack all of their assets and go into exile with a bunch of Russian bodyguards supplied by the latest Soviet-style dictator in Moscow.

What Ever Happened to Cultural Memory?

I'm pissed off about the tsunami because I don't think 100,00 people needed to die. Who's to blame? Everyone. The lack of an adequate warning system is appalling. It's appalling that governments aren't more proactive in evicting people who insist on squatting in danger zones. And the response of emergency personnel in Thailand was egregious. But what to make of this whole "curiosity" bizness?

The thing I don't get is, how come caution doesn't overcome curiosity in coastal villages with a centuries-long tradition of living off the sea? Don't adults know what a tsunami looks like, even if they've never seen one personally (shouldn't the collective unconscious work on coding some information about natural disasters, rather than about having a bigger penis than your father)? And don't they know to tell their kids?

Am I being a racist here?

Sontag and Said

I've been afraid to look at any right-of-center blogs today for fear of finding some brutish cad trashing Susan Sontag. I felt the same way when Said died last year -- even falling into such despair that I penned a rather disingenuous column for my campus newspaper endorsing a binational state in Israel/Palestine, an idea that Said (and I) could only subscribe to as academics.

How to honor Sontag? An essay praising Al-Jazeera's uninhibited use of grisly footage? Or an essay praising the MSM's squeamishness? Sontag is always described as an "author-activist," but the second part of that label confuses. I guess I've always found her positions too obscure by half. History will decide whether she had a "unique hairstyle" or if it was just that she couldn't decide if she wanted to go with grey or white.

I've also been scanning for obit headlines reading "Sontag Loses Her War With Leukemia" or somesuch. Needless to say, she would have hated that. Check out beatrice.com for some lugubrious kibitzing.

Sizing Up Bush I

TNR's Tom Frank attacks "Poppy nostalgia" -- the center-left's growing belief that Bush the First was a sheep in wolf's clothing. Frank doesn't see the irony that what he attacks Bush for is precisely what Timesmen and -women Friedman and Dowd have recently (though surely not since the election) praised him for, i.e. a complete lack of vision and a bumbling, ineffectual style that in a conservative will always produce liberal nostalgia. Nobody would be praising Poppy except by seeing him through the lens of Bush II -- to his critics, a demagogic chest-beater with too much vision, most of it dead wrong.

My sense is that most American history textbooks that go up to the present don't quite know what to make of Bush I. Perhaps this current mini-re-evaluation (though remember: revisionism generally helps to retrench the standard version) will speed up the pistons of history. High school students, like financial markets, don't like uncertainty.

When Jeb Bush wins in 2008, will we have to endure nostalgia for Dubya? I hope not.

Thanks, Joel -- I Needed That

An interesting piece by Palm Beach Post columnist Joel Engelhardt PRAISING violent video games. Finally, someone other than Larry Flynt who is unafraid to speak truth to puritan lunacy, though forcing one's kids to watch "In Cold Blood" as a Niebuhrian reminder of life's dark passions reminds me a bit of Alexander Cockburn's odd memory of needing comfort in a moment of distress and having his father, Claud, hand him a copy of Marx -- and I don't mean Groucho. ("'When all seems dark,' my father, Claud, used to say when I was a teenager, 'try reading a little Marx. It puts things in perspective.' As I'd mope over the defection of some girlfriend, he'd thrust a copy of the Eighteenth Brumaire into my hand and tell me to cheer up.")

Yes, kids grow up faster nowadays. That's not a bad thing.

Monday, December 27, 2004

We Don't Need Lindy To Show Us Our President Is Bad

Over the last week I've been slowly reading through "The Plot Against America," savoring it, trying to capture every nuance of neurosis, every tidbit of childhood trauma, every sinister subtlety of anti-semitism. To speculate on what everyone else has speculated on, I can't say Roth tries very hard to draw a connection between the Lindbergh administration and the Bush administration. He doesn't, and it takes a rather too taut and rather too politicized climate of opinion to see the connection even implicitly.

I've also been re-reading Dan Oren's "Jews at Yale" -- a masterpiece in the truest sense of the word. And today I watched the 2001 movie version of Arthur Miller's "Focus," which fits better than "Plot" into some lazy political journalist's meta-narrative of 2004. Its portrayal of anti-semitism and tolerance as ideologies endlessly casting about for the great Indifferent Middle of public opinion is also an unwitting metaphor for the struggle against radical Islam. Its ending -- a Gentile who everyone believes to be a Jew at last gives up denying it; he realizes he is a Jew because he suffers what Jews suffer -- is actually a statement of hope: fascist hatred ultimately alienates its greatest potential constituency by tarring them as collaborators.

Why Don't You Take Off Another Couple Weeks...

Vacationing WaPo staff-writer Michael Dobbs does some TOTALLY UNPLANNED AND WAY TOO PERSONAL reporting on the tsunami. Don't ask me how the hell did he survived. I would have thought this tsunami to be like the 1960's -- if you were there, you don't remember it, and if you remember it, you weren't there.

Moral of the story: take swimming lessons.

Loving One Another To Death

Slate links to this LA Times story about GPS tracker use and abuse (mostly abuse):

Opposites That Don't Attract

Courtesy of Arts & Letters Daily, here's yet another profile of Daniel Pipes (The Nation ran one earlier this year) -- interesting to compare this confrontational arch-neocon with the mild-mannered Rashid Khalidi portrayed in this WaPo profile from May. My one question is: did the author of this piece ("the author of 12 books, Pipes churns out newspaper columns and weblogs at a dizzying rate") brief Bush before the debate in which he talked about the "internets"?

Dr. Activist Judge and Mr. Hyde

A lot of people (like Slate's Dahlia Lithwick) are wondering why Alberto Gonzales isn't providing this kind of advice before a judge ends up doing it for him. My Dad was Governor Gray Davis's legal affairs secretary for four years -- and I don't think he would say the line between providing legal counsel and the "advocacy approach" is really all that fine.

It seems to me that the phenomenon of activist legal counselors is the inverse of activist judges -- and yet another issue that the Democrats have failed to seize upon. (One wonders: what clerks are advising Thelton Henderson...?)

Kerry Files Motion to Protect Ohio Vote Evidence

From truthout.org:

This afternoon, an attorney representing the Kerry/Edwards presidential campaign filed two important motions to preserve and augment evidence of alleged election fraud in the November election...

The purpose of the motions is twofold: A) To preserve all ballots and voting machines pertaining to the Yost matter for investigation and analysis; and B) To make available for sworn deposition testimony a technician for Triad Systems, the company that produced and maintained many of the voting machines used in the Ohio election. The technician has been accused of tampering with the recount process in Hocking County, Ohio, though other counties are believed to have also been involved. Any officers of Triad Systems who have information pertaining to said tampering are likewise subject to subpoena for sworn deposition testimony.

The rest is here:

General Motors, Demoted to Lieutenant

The subtext of this Slate piece seems to be that what is happening to GM could happen to Uncle Sam next.

Charting The Rise of South African Wine

Ernie Els's wine is being advertised on Slate. That guy is better leveraged than Paul Newman.


After a week of wayward wedges, three-putts (is there anything more traumatic in all of sport?), and having to hit six-iron off the tee in order to stay off other people's fairways (I wish I could say this strategy worked), I've been thinking it's probably time to re-tool my whole golf game (does this mean getting a lobotomy?), or give up the game altogether. (One is reminded of the recent divorcee's exclamation: "Can I have the last twenty-two years of my life back?") Did I mention I was in a car accident last night and got tattooed by a ringlet of glass shards around my eye? Bad luck? Maybe, but what is an honest person to expect of South Florida?

At least I don't have dioxin poisoning, or have to run against (debate?) a guy who does...

Just Write Us A Check, Thanks

This is why it actually DOES suck to be a celebrity.

Wonkette, Eat Your Heart Out

Well, I set up a new blog for my grandparents, "Presidential Pundit." (They live in a South Florida gated community called "The Land of the President.") Is there a niche for retirement-community gossip blogs? There must be.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Shooting Ducks in a Kiddie Pool

Still haven't gotten your fill of mocking Dungeons & Dragons, after all these years? Then this is for you.


Mr. Walton Goes to Europe

If you always just assumed that Wal-mart could never survive in Old Europe (naturally, right?), you'd be wrong. From the Wall Street Journal:

Dortmund, Germany -- ON A STIFLING Friday evening, Andreas Semprich, a 35-year-old single father, decided to go looking for love. Or at least a date. He packed up his two-year-old son and headed to his local Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart workers greeted him at the sprawling store's entrance with a glass of sparkling wine and freshly shucked oysters. They took his picture and tacked it on a singles bulletin board, along with his age, interests and the qualities he seeks in a prospective partner. Mr. Semprich grabbed a shopping cart outfitted with a bright-red bow denoting his unmarried status and hit the aisles.

"I first tried out discotheques, but that did not work," said Mr. Semprich. "First of all, when you see some of the women again in daylight, I sometimes almost fainted. No, this here is much better. It is a natural, relaxed atmosphere. And besides, I can also save money. The milk is cheaper than in any other store."

Welcome to Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s latest meat market. The retail giant's Dortmund store launched its first singles shoppping event in the fall last year, at the suggestion of two workers who thought it might help an unmarried bakery worker at the store who complained about being too old for discos and too proud for Internet dating. Now, every Friday night is singles night at the store, and the event plays out regularly at many of the 91 other German Wal-Marts.

Wal-Mart officials in Germany say they know of about 30 couples who found each other at a singles shopping night. In fact, the events have become such hits in Germany, increasing Friday night sales 25%, that Wal-Mart has trademarked the name "Singles Shopping" to deter copycats. And employees at the Dortmund store fight to work the Friday-evening shifts, says Martina Busse, Wal-Mart district manager.

It's vintage Wal-Mart: Cut-throat practices and rock-bottom prices aside, Wal-Mart's playbook has always found unusual ways to meet customers' needs, such as its longstanding policy of allowing hulking recreational vehicles to park overnight in the parking lots of its U.S. stores.

At the moment, Wal-Mart has no plans to have Singles Shopping nights in its U.S. stores. But on Nov. 13, representatives from the German operations, including the two people who came up with the idea, are scheduled to make a presentation on singles shopping to Wal-Mart executives at the company's traditional Saturday morning meeting. Regional and divisional managers for the U.S. will be there, and if they are impressed, they could recommend that stores in their territories consider holding their own singles events. Meanwhile, Wal- Mart divisions in Canada and Korea have contacted the German operations for more information.

From the earliest days, when founder Sam Walton held donkey rides in his stores' parking lots to draw traffic, Wal-Mart has prided itself on having a certain P.T. Barnum quality about it. Wal-Mart stores in China, for example, hold live fishing contests on the premises. In Korea, stores host a kind of bake-off, with variations on a popular dish, kimchee.

Many of the promotions bubble up from the store level and are adopted by other stores -- a practice that, for all its centralized control, Wal-Mart encourages. The famous Wal-Mart greeters came about in similar fashion. A worker at a Lousiana Wal-Mart decided to greet shoppers because she thought it would be more inviting. Sam Walton liked the idea so much that he implemented it chainwide.

As Wal-Mart forges into new territories abroad, where competition is fierce, it says it is more important than ever to figure out local tastes and customer attractions. Germany and Wal-Mart, for example, haven't exactly been a match made in heaven. After seven years and many mistakes, Wal-Mart is still losing money there. Wal-Mart has a relatively small presence in Germany, with less than 5% of the market, as it competes with several shrewd discounters such as Aldi, which offers low prices on a limited assortment of high-quality, private- label goods.

Until recently, Wal-Mart had been hamstrung by Germany's stringent operating laws that shuttered stores by 6 p.m. on weekdays and 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Restrictions have eased up in recent years, with many stores staying open until 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The retailer has also run up against strong unions and Germany's strict laws against pricing below cost, which have eroded some of its cost advantages.

The singles shopping nights are a way for Wal-Mart to stand apart from other German discounters and bring in new customers. "We have to distinguish ourselves, and we found a little personality doesn't hurt," says Bill Wertz, spokesman for Wal-Mart's international division.

The events weren't an immediate hit. At first, singles at the Dortmund store were reluctant to take a cart bedecked with a huge red ribbon announcing that they were on the prowl. So Wal-Mart tinkered with the formula, and carts with smaller bows were popular with many of the men. To create a more welcoming and relaxed atmosphere, Wal- Mart posted singles greeters at the doors with wine and hors d'oeuvres. A table displayed romance-themed and singles-oriented merchandise -- candles, wine, frozen dinners, DVDs.

By Christmas, the Friday events, held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., were attracting 250 to 300 additional shoppers. To encourage mingling, the staff set up "flirt points" -- carefully appointed tables with free chocolate. Dortmund also started a singles bulletin board, three panels covered with photos and brief bios of singles from 18 to 76.

Hearing of the event's success, Wal-Mart's German headquarters, in Wuppertal, decided to give it a try nationally on Feb. 13. Now, Wal- Mart's 14 supercenters in Germany have a singles night almost every week, while smaller stores hold the event about once a month. Wuppertal employees get two or three e-mails a day from people asking where the nearest Wal-Mart is so they can check out the singles shopping nights, says Susanne Mueller, Wal-Mart's spokeswoman in Germany.

Ms. Busse, the district manager, gets a lot of phone calls, especially from older men, asking how the event works and what to wear. She suggests "casual, clean, free-time clothes." Some people ask for tips on their appearance: She tells them the hairdresser in the store offers haircuts and styling at a discount to singles-night participants.

Women who arrive in groups are advised to split up: Men can be leery of approaching a pack of women. Shoppers also are encouraged to fill out a lottery slip. The winner gets a 100 euros (about $130) candlelight dinner for two at a fancy, romantic hotel in the countryside.

Claudia, a 41-year-old divorcee, said she read about the event in the local newspaper and has meant to come by for weeks. "But today I put my foot down and drove her here," interrupts her 20-year-old son, Marco. The mother didn't want to give her last name. "I think this is great, especially for older people," her son adds, smiling at his mother as she blushes. Claudia added: "You know, I would never dare to meet anyone from the Internet or from an ad in the paper."

At the entrance, Karin Hardt, a 65-year-old retiree, and her 58- year-old friend, Gisela Kienast, looked at pictures on the singles bulletin board. They discover a 61-year-old man with silver hair and a nice smile. "He is my dream type," says Ms. Kienast and immediately fills out a data sheet on herself that will be passed on to him. She notices that her friend is smitten, too. "So what do we do now? Shall we fill out two sheets for him?" she asks.

As for Mr. Semprich, the 35-year-old single dad, he has started in on his weekly shopping, an insurance policy against going home empty- handed. Tonight, he has some luck in the fresh seafood aisle, where he exchanges phone numbers with a young mother of a six-year-old son.

Don't Forget Your Signature Machine on Your Way Out

CNN has an informal poll about whether Rumsfeld should stay or go. Results: 52% say he should resign; only 36% say he should stay. (Incidentally, those numbers are exactly reversed on the question of whether the tax cuts should be made permanent.)

Also, Wolf Blitzer will have a report later this afternoon on why Kuwait might be (is already?) the next big terror hotspot.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Nightly SNAFU

Well, my conference call with Rashid Khalidi tonight was cancelled. I wasn't too impressed with him when he was on C-Span this May (mostly because of some unsophisticated remarks about "the media"), but he's an important (and, unfortunately, rather rare) moderate Palestinian voice. Was it something we said...?

Democrats Responsible For HAVA Failures, Too

If you thought HAVA was bad before, read THIS...

MoveOn Strikes Back

Peter Beinart has really touched a nerve. Here, MoveOn's Wes Boyd and Joan Blades say they're proud to be progressive, even if that means looking like sissies to the liberal raptor set. (There's also a TNR piece by soon-to-be-former Texas Rep. Martin Frost challening Beinart for buying into Republican propaganda that Dems are weak on defense.)

Black Boxes, Black Helicopters

Brian Lehrer of WNYC had on Bev Harris this morning to talk about the Conyers hearings and all things conspiratorial.

Money Dispute Ruins Baseball Dreams -- What Else Is New?

According to this article, the dream of baseball returning to the nation's capital is withering on the vine.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

New Year's Resolution: Rumsfeld Out

McCain's comments have gotten the most buzz, but as Ed Schultz pointed out yesterday on his radio show, it's Chuck Hagel's that proverbially stung to the quick. As Schultz played a clip of the volatile Nebraska senator getting worked up -- McCainified, you might say -- about Rumsfeld, Schultz yelled out: "Throw some cold water on him!" Indeed.

Cuba Asks Senior US Diplomat to Remove Christmas Decorations

Be sure to check out the picture. Really, James: is this Christmas decor, or a Klan rally?

"If I had a large girlfriend, she might break my motor scooter."

This is a nice accompaniment to the story about the Japanese girlfriend lap-pillow.

Sudan Makes Deal With African Union To Stop Fighting

This sounds like a positive development. But wait, do I hear Norm Coleman (never one to cede credit for anything) calling for the resignation of the head of the AU?

Bloggers, Start Your Engines...

... and check your hard-drives for stray novels you may have forgotten about.

Also, the blogger novel is thriving, but not the novel about blogging:

Even bloggers who have sold books agree that there is one topic they would not focus on in the longer-form novel: blogging. "I don't know how interesting a book just about the blogosphere would be," Ms. Cox said. "It'd just be people sitting in front of their computers."

Ms. Spiers summed up the general feeling: "There are no bloggers in my novel. None."

Missile Defense System Fails Test... Again

Is anyone surprised in the least?

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Maxwell Tells Elder Statesman to Kiss His Inger

Scott Sherman rocks the casbah with this Kissinger-still-dominates-the-foreign-policy-community-thirty-years-after-leaving-government expose:

"Everything You've Heard So Far Is a Total Lie"

Now here's the deal about that zany sign-language interpreter chick in Ukraine. Viva la revolucion! (From the WSJ:)

KIEV, Ukraine -- Natalia Dmytruk, the sign-language interpreter at Ukraine's state TV channel, came to work Thursday morning fired up for action.

The channel's reporters, like their colleagues on the other two major national networks, were on strike. They were protesting government pressure to slant news coverage in favor of Viktor Yanukovych, the Russian-backed candidate in this country's disputed presidential election.

State TV wasn't broadcasting demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of supporters of Viktor Yushchenko, the pro-Western candidate who believes that the presidency was stolen from him through government- sponsored fraud. Mr. Yanukovych, the current prime minister, was presented on the news as the election's undisputed winner, receiving congratulations from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

So Ms. Dmytruk, 47 years old, adopted guerrilla tactics to break the information blockade. Conspiring with her makeup artist, Ms. Dmytruk tied an orange ribbon inside her sleeve. Orange is the color of Mr. Yushchenko's campaign, and of the spreading protest movement that many Ukrainians now call the Orange Revolution. Then after interpreting the news broadcast for the deaf on Nov. 25, Ms. Dmytruk bared her wrist. "Everything you have heard so far on the news was a total lie," she says she told viewers in sign language. "Yushchenko is our true president. Goodbye, you will probably never see me here again."

In the last week, such small acts of courage by people previously uninvolved in politics have given the Ukrainian protests an unexpected momentum. The protests placed large parts of the country -- including the capital, Kiev -- under Mr. Yushchenko's control, and put Ukraine's government into disarray. Just like Ms. Dmytruk's outburst, many of these actions stretched or broke regulations and laws -- in the name of securing democracy for Ukraine's 48 million people.

As she walked out of the studio after her broadcast, Ms. Dmytruk, who has been at the station for three years, was greeted with hugs from her shocked colleagues. Word quickly spread around the building, already in turmoil. Even the station's technicians and the staffs of the daily children's show and other nonpolitical programs decided to join the strike over the coverage, some of them inspired by Ms. Dmytruk's broadcast.

By late afternoon, the TV network's president, Oleksandr Savenko, had to face an angry assembly of employees at the station.

Government interference at state TV, and at the two other major national channels, employees say, had become so prevalent in recent years that the entire script of news programs was often written by the presidential administration, and not by the journalists themselves. The two other channels are privately owned, but until recently have been reluctant to challenge the government.

"Can we now, finally, tell the truth?" asked Maksym Drabok, one of the main strike organizers and the channel's political correspondent who was barred from appearing on air after criticizing censorship last month. "Yes, tell the truth," Mr. Savenko replied at the meeting.

"No more lies, no more lies," hundreds of staffers chanted in response.

A few hours later, the evening newscast was opened with footage of this meeting with employees, and a pledge to resist censorship in the future. Ms. Dmytruk was also back on the air the next morning. Management at the two other main networks caved in the same day and allowed balanced reporting.

"We now try to cover all the current events in as balanced a way as possible," Mr. Savenko says in an interview; he insists, however, that his channel wasn't biased before.

The break of the government's stranglehold over mass media proved a turning point in Mr. Yushchenko's campaign to annul the official results of the Nov. 21 election where, according to the Ukraine's Central Election Commission, Mr. Yanukovych won by three percentage points. A day before Ms. Dmytruk's broadcast, the current president and Mr. Yanukovych's sponsor, Leonid Kuchma, had called for the closure of the only pro-Yushchenko TV network, Channel 5, for "fomenting a coup." Pro-Yanukovych regional administrations promptly shut down its broadcasts.

But, as state TV introduced coverage of Mr. Yushchenko's protests, public sentiment was transformed. The same night of Ms. Dmytruk's broadcast, senior police and security service officers started coming on stage at the Kiev protests, pledging allegiance to "the people's side." Government officials and lawmakers from Mr. Yanukovych's own party began abandoning their boss.

Mr. Yushchenko Sunday declared that "tens of thousands" of law- enforcement and military personnel had joined his side. The Ukrainian Parliament voted on Saturday to declare the Nov. 21 election "falsified." Ukraine's Supreme Court is scheduled to consider the issue today.

"Many people, especially out East and South, were like zombies -- they had no idea about what's going on in Ukraine, they didn't know about the protests in Kiev, about how peaceful it all is, about how not a single shop window was broken here in these days," says Mr. Drabok.

Ms. Dmytruk -- the first person to break informal censorship in a state TV newscast since the election -- has kept her job. After spending hours among pro-Yushchenko protesters in Kiev's main square and sick with the flu, she watched the latest developments in Ukraine's revolution on TV this weekend. In her high-rise on the city's edge, she wore an orange scarf and even her dog was festooned with orange; the phone kept ringing with expressions of gratitude and support.

"I was in such pain -- I just couldn't keep watching TV anymore, the gap between what I saw on screen and on the street," she recounted. "So -- without telling anyone in advance -- I just went in and did what my conscience had told me to do."

Ms. Dmytruk glanced at the latest protest footage on screen, awed by how hundreds of thousands of ordinary people like her kept braving subzero temperatures. "You can't lie to people forever," she said. "They felt insulted and cheated, and they're showing it."

It's a Conspiracy, Part 7 Zillion

A friend emails:

i was just looking at the online version of the help america vote
act. it's posted at
http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/hava/HAVA_2002.html. i had read that
the language was modified (in conference?) to remove the audit trail
requirements that were originally in the bill; actually, based on
what i'm reading elsewhere (see, e.g.,
http://www.sos.state.or.us/elections/HAVA/faqs.shtml), this audit
trail requirement just hasn't yet taken effect (though it will in
January 2006--there doesn't seem to be any further provision for
waivers). of course, if the paper records are invisible to voters,
you could still have votes being wrongly recorded (regardless of what
a touch-screen "verification screen" said), but this audit trail
requirement still seems like a good thing.

here's the section in question:


(a) Requirements.--Each voting system used in an election for
Federal office shall meet the following requirements:

(2) Audit capacity.--
(A) In general.--The voting system shall produce a record with
an audit capacity for such system.
(B) Manual audit capacity.--
(i) The voting system shall produce a permanent paper
record with a manual audit capacity for such system.
(ii) The voting system shall provide the voter with an
opportunity to change the ballot or correct any error before the
permanent paper record is produced.
(iii) The paper record produced under subparagraph (A)
shall be available as an official record for any recount conducted
with respect to any election in which the system is used.

by the way, it doesn't seem to have gotten any attention, but there
was more testimony at the ohio hearings on monday about possible gop
recount shenanigans; see http://bradblogtoo.blogspot.com/ for details.

Listen Up, Hannity!

Speaking of euro-trash, a friend emails a music recommendation:

"Straight from eurotrash land: Coralie Clément--super hot, super cute french chick soup for the soul. Something leads me to beleive she may float your proverbial boat."

OK, then! It's so nice to be called a francophile perv in such a gentle, unconfrontational way. Sean Hannity could learn something from this.

To Googlewhack or Not to Googlewhack?

Is it still a googlewhack if you get two hits, but they're for the same website? Try "Henry Stuart Maine." This guy was a pretty famous Victorian scholar -- his obscurity in cyberspace reveals some of the web's biases.

Help Wanted

I'm looking for any material comparing Shakespeare's Richard III with Fauconbridge the Bastard, something Freudian, or better yet, humanistic ... anybody have suggestions?

Have You Been Fulfilling Your Silhouette Lately?

Derek Walcott, "Signs":

Europe fulfilled its silhouette in the nineteenth century
with steaming train-stations, gas-lamps, encyclopedias,
the expanding waists of empires, an appetite for inventory
in the novel as a market roaring with ideas.

Love it. Nobody writes better euro-trash poetry than Walcott.

Bush Campaign Official Admits Election Fraud

Well, it's official -- the 2002 elections midterm elections were a sham. (If you're wondering why I post so much about New Hampshire politics, it probably has something to do with the fact I get e-mail updates from the NH Dems.)

Now if only they would admit to tampering in 2004...

What's Up With Smiley?

Tavis Smiley is leaving NPR because he thinks they should have insisted to their urban market affiliates that he get top billing and a broadcast slot in primetime. Why does he deserve either of those? Because he's their only black program host, of course! Terry Gross might be a better interviewer, but she just doesn't CONNECT with urban audiences. (Lesbians, yes, but blacks, not so much.)

Sounds a little patronizing to me, and I don't mean NPR.

The Birth of .md

The exploitation of Moldova never ends, does it?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

"John Kerry has already created more jobs in New Hampshire than George Bush"

From Politics NH:

In this week's U.S. News and World report it seems as though the campaign for New Hampshire's votes never ended.

It appears that the type of barn coat John Kerry wore often on the campaign trail have been a big seller for companies, including New Hampshire's own Timberland.

"With sales of barn coats skyrocketing," says his aide David Wade , still in campaign mode, "John Kerry has already created more jobs in New Hampshire than George Bush."