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Consider:

"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"







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Tuesday, 28 September 2004

Topic: Political Theory

Logic Bombs: Why Bush Will Win the Debates

William Saletan is at the top of his game. Check this out.

Catastrophic Success
The worse Iraq gets, the more we must be winning.
Posted Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2004, at 2:53 PM PT - SLATE.COM

The opening is cool, even if my spell-checker tells me unfalsifiable isn't really a word at all -
In 1999, George W. Bush said we needed to cut taxes because the economy was doing so well that the U.S. Treasury was taking in too much money, and we could afford to give some back to the people who earned it. In 2001, Bush said we needed the same tax cuts because the economy was doing poorly, and we had to return the money so that people would spend and invest it.

Bush's arguments made the wisdom of cutting taxes unfalsifiable. In good times, tax cuts were affordable. In bad times, they were necessary. Whatever happened proved that tax cuts were good policy. When Congress approved the tax cuts, Bush said they would revive the economy. You'd know that the tax cuts had worked, because more people would be working. Three years later, more people aren't working. But in Bush's view, that, too, proves he was right. If more people aren't working, we just need more tax cuts.
So how do you counter this kind of logic? Is it possible? When you are proved wrong that only proves you were really right. Do you just heave a sigh of exasperation, as Gore did in the presidential debates four years ago, and thus come off as a pretentious and condescending intellectual snob and alienate everyone by making fun of a simple man with a clear vision.

How do you respond? Is a giggle appropriate? No, that also would come off as condescension.

This kind of logic is a pretty effective trap, and Saletan argues Bush and his handlers are carefully setting the trap again. But this time this issue in the current state of affairs in Iraq - and Saletan points out that when violence there was subsiding, Bush said that clearly proved that he was on the right track. Violence is increasing there now, pretty obviously, and Bush says this, too, proves he's on the right track. Argh!

The examples cited?
On July 23, 2003, three months into the occupation, Bush scoffed that Iraqi insurgents were confined to "a few areas of the country. And wherever they operate, they are being hunted, and they will be defeated. ... Now, more than ever, all Iraqis can know that the former regime is gone and will not be coming back." A week later, he assured reporters, "Conditions in most of Iraq are growing more peaceful. ... As the blanket of fear is lifted, as Iraqis gain confidence that the former regime is gone forever, we will gain more cooperation." Bush warned that failure to stick with his policies "would only invite further and bolder attacks."

A year later, the insurgents are not defeated, conditions are not more peaceful, the blanket of fear is spreading, cooperation is fraying, and attacks on U.S. personnel are growing bolder. Does this prove Bush is failing? No. It proves he's succeeding.

When the violence increased this spring, Bush, Vice President Cheney, and White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said insurgents were growing "desperate" in their efforts to "derail the transition" - the handover of sovereignty scheduled for June 30. "This is precisely what our enemies want," Bush argued. The violence proved Bush was on the right track, and the handover would soon be complete, demoralizing the enemy. The insurgents would be crushed. "In Fallujah, Marines of Operation Vigilant Resolve are taking control of the city, block by block," Bush bragged.
Well, that didn't work out. Fallujah, and the Sadr City portion of Baghdad, and so many other places are now "no go zones" where our troops will not operate (see this from September 14 in the New York Times and a discussion here in these pages) - and the elections scheduled for January are in question, and so on and so forth. We turned over sovereignty in June, and things went sour.

A problem? Not really. The new logic is that the new spike in resistance just proves we're right - this sovereignty business ticked off the evil-doers in June, and now, because we're doing the right thing and pushing forward with a partial election in January, in the few areas that are relatively safe (as Rumsfeld said, probably thinking of the 2000 election in Florida, nothing's perfect), this demonstrates our essential rightness.

Does it? Maybe a lot of folks just don't want us there. Which proves we're right, right?

The trap for any critic of all this is clear -
If the situation in Iraq improves in the coming weeks, Bush will take credit. If it deteriorates, he'll take credit for that, too. "Terrorist violence may well escalate as the January elections draw near," he warned Thursday. "The terrorists know that events in Iraq are reaching a decisive moment. If elections go forward, democracy in Iraq will put down permanent roots, and terrorists will suffer a dramatic defeat." So take heart. We've got 'em right where we want 'em.
We do?

I see no way for any opponent of the administration to attack this logic. It's not unfalsifiable. It is impenetrable.

Currently polls show the Bush-Cheney ticket will win in November, as their numbers are strong and getting stronger by the day. And this seems to be a demonstration that people like being told that successes mean we were right and we are winning, and setbacks show, even more clearly, that we were right and we are winning. That makes folks comfortable. There's no downside. Either way we're right, and we're winning. Cool.

As for what Kerry and Edwards can say in the debates? There is little that works against this. Suggesting things are complicated and we need to think about this all makes people uncomfortable - and we can't have that. Asking voters to think about all this stuff is the kiss of death, as people prefer action to analysis. People who think don't get things done - the basic theme of the Bush-Cheney campaign. We cannot afford a thinker now - not in this dangerous world. We have to do things, whatever they are, no matter how much they seem to make things worse. And by golly, worse is better, if you think about it the right way.

Here's a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon that's been going around the web (reprinted without permission as no one else seems to have asked either) that speaks to the basic dilemma - two ways of looking at things.



Posted by Alan at 16:08 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
home

Monday, 27 September 2004

Topic: For policy wonks...

Quiet! You might embolden our enemies!

Let's go back to October of 2001 and listen to Richard Perle. This is from and interview on Nightline -
Having destroyed the Taliban, having destroyed Saddam's regime, the message to the others is, "You're next." Two words. Very efficient diplomacy. " You're next, and if you don't shut down the terrorist networks on your territory, we'll take you down, too. Is it worth it?" Of course it isn't worth it. It isn't worth it for any of them.
Thus we are where we are today.

Over at Hullabaloo Digby comments -
You can almost smell the testosterone, can't you? These guys really believed this Neverneverland nonsense. I'm afraid our Boy King still does.

He's just being his typical two-faced self bellowing "bring 'em on" one day and then falling over with the vapors the next because Kerry's words might make the bad guys mad. Nothing new there.
Well, yes, they believed this was the face of the new diplomacy. Thrown out the old way of doing things internationally, and flex some muscles. Folks will fall in line.

But the bastards aren't following in line. People are fighting back when they are not supposed to fight back.

And what is this about Bush "falling over with the vapors because Kerry's words might make the bad guys mad?"

Last weekend in Rhetoric: The campaigns settle on their preferred rhetorical devices for the final weeks you can find a discussion of the new attack on John Kerry, that support of John Kerry is support of terrorism. But what I missed there was the key word in the whole concept. That word is "embolden." And everyone seems to be trying to deal with that word as it is now used day in and day out in the speeches Bush delivers: the things Kerry says - that things aren't going well and we need to do this or that differently - embolden our enemies and undermine our good work. Bush is getting a lot of mileage from that single word.

Matthew Yglesias has discussed use of the word this at length, and he applies some logic to the matter -
Does anyone really believe, after all, that our enemies currently lack for boldness of all things? One can say accurately various nasty things about Osama, his hardened core of terrorists-cum-special-forces, his more conventional guerilla fighters, Zarqawi, al-Sadr, their followers, etc., but one thing they certainly aren't is some kind of chickenshit force that would be really scary if only they got bolder.

... The notion that the USA could possibly impress these guys with grand displays of machismo is silly. The bad guys here are hard-core and that's just the way it is. A strategy to beat them has to be smart and has to use the many advantages America really does have. Worrying about the other side's boldness isn't going to get us anywhere.
And this on Bush -
Truly the man is immune to self-doubt, introspection, and minor concepts like letting his thinking be influenced by reality or learning from experience. And things will only get worse if his mismanagement is ratified by the electorate... It dawns on me that someone really badly needs to ask Bush if he has any regrets about challenging the insurgents to "bring it on" and kill hundreds of additional US troops and significantly more Iraqi civilians. Talk about emboldening America's enemies. I'm sure the relatives of our dead soldiers really appreciate the president's armchair machismo.
Ah yes, armchair machismo.

The curious things here is how effective this is - asking each voter to channel his or her inner bully and feel good about pushing others around. Hey, it works. Read the polls. The internal numbers generally show that people feel Bush has driven the economy into near collapse with the tax cuts for the wealthy and the resulting deficits, that the job situation is awful, that he has no clue about healthcare or the environment, or even about basic science... and generally he's in way over his head - but they love how he sneers at the bad guys. That feels real good. We are an angry country and he has become the point man for our anger. That's good enough for the majority of those who will vote. That's what the polls show.

And Bush has directed a good portion of that anger at John Kerry. Kerry, by criticizing the execution of the war, and the war itself, is trying to make the bullies look foolish, and since we all buy into "the bully approach" as what must be done, and which also just feels so good, Kerry is attacking us all. So fight back!

Some don't buy it. This from Digby is shrill but an interesting counterargument -
And anyway, doesn't it seem a bit, well...girlie-manish...for our swaggering Crusader Codpiece to be tremulously waving his hands and shushing his opponents because it might make the nasty terrorists even bolder than they already are? Surely, superheroes such as he are much too strong and manly to care whether the bad guys are emboldened by talk of any kind. Real men say "bring it on," right?

Clearly, people who are willing to blow themselves up aren't suffering from a lack of physical courage. That is not the problem. Indeed, until we create a corps of suicide bombers they have the advantage in willing human cannon fodder material. Our military superiority isn't supposed to be our "courage" and "boldness" - it is our international leadership, advanced technology and smart strategy, none of which Junior has employed worth a busted fuck.

This has been part of the fallacy driving Junior's misbegotten strategy from day one. While it's obvious that a fair amount of his ridiculous Hopalong Cassidy bullshit was calculated to thrill the rubes here at home, there is ample evidence that many of the starry-eyed neocons truly believed that a thrilling show of Big American Power would snap some of those Ay-rabs out of their little dreamworld and bring them around right quick to the knowledge that they can never win against us, the Ubermenschen.
Nietzsche? Just who are we using as models? Nietzsche mentioned this ubermenschen concept very briefly only in the prologue of Thus Spoke Zarathustra - thinking of Napoleon. And what Nietzsche wrote may have somehow led to the odd little Austrian fellow with the mustache. Oh my!

No. Let's not got there.

But in the end, this thrilling show of Big American Power has not snapped the bad guys out of their dream world. Actually it seems to have - note this irony well - emboldened them. As noted last weekend, the whole concept of threatening folks into a sniveling, fearful puddle of compliance just doesn't work very well.

To repeat - Think of the bully who has you cornered, grabs your shirt and sneers, "Okay, give ten good reasons I shouldn't beat the crap out of you right now?" An angry and frustrated American people can understand why playing the part of that bully is just plain satisfying, and relatively easy given our military resources - no one pushes us around. Hey, anything else is just too much of a bother, and kind of French.

But it is too bad that people who have been repeatedly bullied fight back in sneaky ways that make life hard. They just don't get it. Algeria in the fifties, Vietnam in the sixties, Gaza and the West bank now, Northern Ireland since 1688 - and so many other examples of the defeated and powerless just not accepting their worthlessness - make you wonder if this "prove to me you don't deserve a beating" stance really works.

It doesn't, but it's what we do. And one does not sense much change in the air.

And I guess all of these words above have also emboldened our enemies.

But that just doesn't make sense.

Our enemies should worry that we might suddenly change course, gather real allies, and suddenly shift from using any brute force at all to using crafty diplomacy (secret deals and back-door alliances and all the rest) and the soft power of making them look silly and us look good. If "the West" got all cooperative and sly and subtle? They'd be in trouble.

Lucky for them that will never happen now.

Posted by Alan at 21:29 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 28 September 2004 09:52 PDT home


Topic: The Culture

Theology: The Paris-Atlanta Dialogs

In Just Above Sunset here (and in these pages here) you will find a discussion of the graphic that seems to show the first three hurricanes that hit Florida this year walloped the counties that voted for Bush in the 2000 election and miraculously spared those counties where folks voted for Al Gore. The title of the item was A Curious Map Reveals God's Politics. Could this be true? Or is this one more urban legend, as they say? Or just political humor based on coincidence and a clever presentation of selected data?

Whichever it was, my friends got to talking about it.

Joseph - our Hollywood expatriate who chucked it all and moved to France - sent this from somewhere near Paris -
Okay, it's a tragedy, a disaster, but far be it from me to resist a bit of schadenfreude...

The map is pretty amusing in the context of the many comments made by yahoos interviewed on CNN. I heard many people say that they weren't worried about the approaching hurricane because god would protect them, or afterwards that they escaped damage because god did protect them.

Did these people think that they were the object of God's protection because they were special, or at least more righteous than those that God would not or did not protect? If they had been hit hard, would they have concluded that they weren't as righteous as those who escaped damage - or that God was displeased with them? Can they not see the deeply un-Christian impulse that lies beneath? "I'm the best! Jesus loves ME!"

If one is ready to credit god when one escapes damage, it seems that one should be prepared to pass a little blame his way if the Big Guy doesn't come through. But the protection hypothesis is sadly a one-way affair. Sadder still, critical thought will end with "whoops" and they will suffer the same fallacy the next time around. I guess you really can't prove a negative. Not to a true believer, anyway.
Phillip, master mason and ace jazz musician near Atlanta rose to the occasion...
Not from around here (the South) are you JT?

Since God is everywhere (he knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake), and especially has great cable reception, there is no doubt He will catch the sound bite of trailer trash interviewed beside rubble. Struggling for stature, holiness is about all a rube can cling to - to set them apart from really, really low class dumb asses, you know, booger eating glue sniffers aspiring to be meth heads. But just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no atheists in trailer parks when a storm is spawning a dozen tornados a night. They may actually feel clever buying a house for fifteen grand and a spot to plop it for a hundred a month, even though it is framed with 2x2's with a micron thick membrane of sheet metal as cladding. A lack of structural insight, no doubt. Now let's talk about the guys in Canada who go ice fishing in March and stutter with dee-yas and ehs. Why would anyone live somewhere with a six month winter? No point in even bringing up God. Surely He doesn't even listen to people who lack the brains to migrate to warmer climes. Come on Joe, have a heart. I mean where on this continent would Jesus live?
Then Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, adds something more to the dialog...
Ironically, as I read these words, I am hearing NPR in the background running a news story about the family of an Oregon national guardsman who was killed driving his Humvee over a homemade bomb in Iraq.

His mom was stoical about it, saying she trusted in God to take care of her son, and although she had thought God would bring her son back to her, she said she knows God's plans are not her plans, and she's okay with that. She is also comforted by the fact that her son was a devout Christian who was upset with all our naysaying back home about Iraq, because he understood this war to be a spiritual war, one being waged by a devoutly Christian president who understands spiritual matters.

So does this or does this not point to the crux of our problem, not only in Iraq but also in record budget deficits back home designed to shrink the size of government small enough for some right-wing fanatic to drown it in a bathtub? [That would be Grover Norquist quoted here. -AP]

Let me come at this from another angle: If God really speaks to George W. Bush, as George W. Bush claims God does, wouldn't you think God could have clued him in ahead of time about those WMD's?

PS: Phillip, re Canada and moving south: I don't care what you say about people with brains moving here, I will argue that nobody with real brains DID move here before God invented air conditioning!
Joseph the shot back from Paris...
I mean where on this continent would Jesus live? Jesus? I picture him in Sedona. ;)

Christians use that quote [there are no atheists in foxholes] to imply that atheists are detached from reality and that a good dose of it would make believers out of them, but they are missing the point: fear and desperation are a formula for faith. That inclination to reach out for God when one is being shot at is the philosophical equivalent of the involuntary "pucker" instinct, and ought to pass just as quickly.

Just as one wouldn't go "puckered" for the rest of one's days, that you called for God in your moment of desperation doesn't mean he's there.
And Phillip, master mason and ace jazz musician near Atlanta, had to comment on the whole concept of this God person...
Where is the quote from, oh, what movie? - "When I talk to God I find that I am talking to myself." - played by Peter Sellers. Oh, whatever... The point is religion is comfort, possibly when intellect just isn't enough. My intellect can't really handle this unnecessary war, and so I look to the sky and say - "God, what are they doing?"

Recently God manifested to me as Charles Bukowski sitting beside me in a bar. A cigarette was smoking in the ashtray between us. His hand was on the side of his face and his elbow pivoted on the bar. "Fuck if I know," he said, "and if I did know I wouldn't tell you."

And so I'm left to figure out the madness, or not, on my own by what I observe and piece together. And I think there is a skewed madness to saying it's okay my son got killed like this because of God and Dubya talking to God and it's in book of Revelations somewhere. An understandable madness because the mother so beside herself with grief. It was surely as close as her intellect could get to figuring it out.

Intellect could be used to end the problem. A conservative drummer [remember, Phillip is a professional musician] said the WMDs are in Syria and we should go get 'em. Well the Republican domino theory to the Middle East doesn't much appeal to me. I think we win in Iraq when we leave, but our leader wants to kick sand in faces.

And the only thing I can figure out to do is vote.

PS Rick - And absolutely about the air conditioning. The heat and humidity will, in fact, make you dumber.
I have nothing to add to this exchange. I simply report it.

When I think about awful things happening in this world, to others, to me, or about good things, I shrug. Most of it all, good and bad, can be attributed to people with power, lots of it or a little, who do important, pivotal things without much thought. It - the surprising good or bad out of the blue - is what one comes to expect. As for natural disasters? Chaos theory works for me. The bad times that result from such things just happen. If there is a God directing the path of each hurricane for arcane punitive reasons, She probably has reasons only She knows, if She has any reasons at all. It could be just sadistic fun. But I doubt that. Why bother with us? It's more likely there are no punitive reasons and no sadism - She is just bored and messing around, and idly curious to see what happens. You know, like a dim kid with an anthill and a stick and too much time on his or her hands. She'll get bored and move on - and hurricane season will end.

As for the postscripts, I have lived both in the South - few years in Durham, North Carolina - and in Canada - a few years in London, Ontario. Even as far north as Durham, the oppressive long, deadly hot humid days, and the vacant locals with their menacing grins and slightly sinister good manners (every Southerner's weapon), could drive one to madness, and one could find oneself alone, wandering deep in the shadowy loblolly pine forest thinking murderous thoughts about Yankees, if one wasn't careful, or one didn't have sufficient air-conditioning. London was fine - full of kind, polite and rather quiet good people. But the weather after early October was brutal, and who can explain the sport of curling, or the appeal of long hours of ice fishing? Now here in Hollywood....

Posted by Alan at 18:17 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 27 September 2004 18:23 PDT home


Topic: Election Notes

Ohio: Blackwell the Magician

Ford Fessenden in the Sunday New York Times (September 26, 2004) reports this -
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A sweeping voter-registration campaign in heavily Democratic areas has added tens of thousands of new voters to the rolls in the swing states of Ohio and Florida, a surge that has far exceeded Republican efforts in both states, a review of registration data shows.

The analysis of county-by-county data shows that in Democratic areas of Ohio -- primarily low-income and minority neighborhoods -- new registrations since January have increased 250 percent over the same period in 2000. In comparison, new registrations have increased 25 percent in Republican areas.
So what are the Republicans to do?

Jim Bebbington and Laura Bischoff report this in the Dayton Daily News -
Blackwell rulings rile voting advocates

Voters-rights advocates are criticizing two recent decisions by Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell that they say will unfairly limit some people's ability to vote Nov. 2.

Blackwell's office has told county boards of elections to follow strictly two provisions in Ohio election law:

* One requires Ohio voter registration cards be printed on thick, 80-pound stock paper.

* The other ordered boards to strictly interpret the rules regarding provisional ballots, the ones cast by voters who move before the election but are still registered in Ohio.

The paper-stock issue is frustrating Montgomery County Board of Elections officials, who have a backlog of registrations to complete. If they get an Ohio voter registration card on paper thinner than required, they are mailing a new card out to the voter. But if they still have the backlog by the registration deadline, Oct. 4, voters will not have another chance to get their correct paperwork in, said Steve Harsman, deputy director of the Montgomery County board.

"There is just no reason to use 80-pound paper," Harsman said.

In Montgomery County there is a backlog of around 4,000 registrations, Harsman said. A few hundred could be affected by this provision, he said.

Cuyahoga County board of elections officials are ignoring the edict because they have already had an avalanche of new registrations submitted on forms printed on newsprint in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer

"We don't have a micrometer at each desk to check the weight of the paper," said Michael Vu, director of the Cuyahoga County Board. ...
And here is a quick summary -
In the final days before the registration deadline Ken Blackwell, Ohio Secretary of State, has ordered the local election boards to send out new applications to applicants who have submitted registrations on the wrong paper. The ostensible reason for this order is to insure that the applications can make it through the postal system without being damaged. The Secretary didn't point to any examples of voters who were stupid enough to mail regular weight paper as a postcard, nor did he cite examples of complaints from the Postal Service that this has been a problem. Never mind also that the applications he wants thrown out have already been delivered to the election boards safely.

The phone number of the Ohio Sec. of State is 614-466-2585
I wonder if anyone called.

You might want to look at the controlling federal election law for a giggle - as almost everyone on the web links to it. And note what is in bold here -
Sec. 1971. - Voting rights

(a) Race, color, or previous condition not to affect right to vote; uniform standards for voting qualifications; errors or omissions from papers; literacy tests; agreements between Attorney General and State or local authorities; definitions

(1)
All citizens of the United States who are otherwise qualified by law to vote at any election by the people in any State, Territory, district, county, city, parish, township, school district, municipality, or other territorial subdivision, shall be entitled and allowed to vote at all such elections, without distinction of race, color, or previous condition of servitude; any constitution, law, custom, usage, or regulation of any State or Territory, or by or under its authority, to the contrary notwithstanding.

(2)
No person acting under color of law shall -

(A)
in determining whether any individual is qualified under State law or laws to vote in any election, apply any standard, practice, or procedure different from the standards, practices, or procedures applied under such law or laws to other individuals within the same county, parish, or similar political subdivision who have been found by State officials to be qualified to vote;

(B)

deny the right of any individual to vote in any election because of an error or omission on any record or paper relating to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting, if such error or omission is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under State law to vote in such election; ...
Does the Ohio law that specifies paper weights supercede the Federal Code? Probably not.

Florida is a mess from the hurricanes and no one is thinking about how to suppress the vote of those who would vote the wrong way. Down there right now they're busy clearing the streets and stringing up new power lines. No time for that. So Ohio is the new Florida.

Or maybe it's not. By mid-week Blackwell did something Kathleen Harris would never do. He changed his mind.

See Blackwell ends paper chase
Some could be unable to vote because of flap over registration forms
Wednesday, September 29, 2004, Catherine Candisky, THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Under fire from voting-rights advocates, Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell retreated yesterday from a directive that critics said would slow voter-registration efforts and even block some people from casting a ballot Nov. 2.

... Last night, a spokesman for Blackwell denied that the GOP officeholder was trying to prevent people from voting and said county boards should accept voter registration forms on paper of any weight as long as they are otherwise valid.

"We're not the paper police. We're not going to go to county election boards and review voter registration forms," said Blackwell spokesman Carlo LoParo. "We want them to process the forms." ...
But, but, but... ? Is not the test of a true leader whether he or she is steadfast and resolute no matter what popular opinion is, and no matter what changes on the ground, not matter what the advice of experts is, and no matter what the rigid and unresponsive law demands? This is, frankly, a flip-flop, and the single leadership sin no American can ever forgive.

Blackwell can never run for office anywhere as a Republican now.

___________

Oh, and the Ohio Democratic Party has filed a federal lawsuit about these matters. But not about disqualifying voters registering using the wrong paper stock. It's that other edict - ordering election boards to strictly interpret the rules regarding provisional ballots, the ones cast by voters who move before the election but are still registered in Ohio.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 27, 2004
DEMOCRATS SUE BLACKWELL TO PROTECT VOTING RIGHTS

COLUMBUS - Ohio Democrats filed a federal lawsuit today to protect the voting rights of Ohio citizens that are threatened by Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's recent decision.

Blackwell recently directed Ohio election officials not to issue provisional ballots except in very narrow circumstances. Unlike many other state election officials, Blackwell is specifically refusing to issue these ballots to voters who find themselves at a polling place other than the one for the precinct where they live. The federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), passed by Congress after the 2000 Florida recount, makes provisional ballots widely available to voters who are denied the right to vote on election day.

"As Democrats, we will fight hard to count every vote," said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Dennis L. White. "Blackwell's decision will deny the right to vote to thousands of Ohioans. We don't need another Florida to happen right here in Ohio this year."

The Ohio Democratic Party and the Sandusky County Democratic Party filed the lawsuit against Blackwell today in United States District Court in Toledo. Sandusky County Democrats are
particularly concerned about the voting rights of farm workers and other minority citizens in northwest Ohio. The lawsuit asks the court to declare that Blackwell's decision violates HAVA, and to order him to issue a new directive that complies with federal law.

"Ken Blackwell is becoming the Katherine Harris of 2004. He is trying to place new obstacles in the way of Ohio voters, and we will not let him do it," said State Sen. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo). "He's trying to cook the vote with directives to county boards of elections that are discriminatory and move our voting rights backwards."

The lawsuit was assigned to Judge James G. Carr and seeks a preliminary injunction in order to receive an expeditious ruling on the matter.
Will they get an injunction? Judge Carr's bio is here - born in Boston, BA from Kenyon, and a law degree from Harvard, a lot of work in Chicago (Cook County) and nominated to the bench, in 1994, by Clinton.

Roy Cohn did once say, "I don't care what the law is, just tell me who the judge is." In September of 2002 Carr joined in a panel opinion that declared that it was unlawful for the Bush administration to conduct deportation hearings in secret whenever the government asserted that the people involved might be linked to terrorism. (See this from the New York Times.)

A good guy?

But note this about Carr -
"He's a little goofy. He gets things wrong sometimes, though. Sometimes he'll make correct statements but really lose sight of the big picture. Lawyers need to help him get to the right place. He doesn't always have the best judgment." "He's not very good at recalling proceedings and remembering what's happened from appearance to appearance." " . . . I have to say that I think he is very biased in favor of law enforcement. He just won't allow for the fact that sometimes these guys inaccurately convey what happened, which is bothersome. Also, he's sensitive to due process - so long as no one is going to get acquitted." "He has a very distinct pro-law enforcement bent." "I think he tries to be fair, but he favors the government."

- "Lawyers' Evaluation" in Almanac of the Federal Judiciary 48. 6th Circuit (1998).
The full item runs down Carr's decisions and concludes - "The public has lost enough confidence in the federal judiciary as it is. Judge Carr is so unprincipled, biased and incompetent he should be impeached, not promoted."

This is going to be fun!

Posted by Alan at 17:10 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 29 September 2004 09:55 PDT home

Sunday, 26 September 2004

Topic: Photos

The weekly virtual magazine in now on line!

The new issue of Just Above Sunset - Volume 2, Number 38 (Sunday, September 26, 2004) has just been posted. What appeared here first is extended, and below you will find links to the items peculiar, so to speak, to the parent magazine of this web log.

This week? Who is better at playing the victim - the conservative right or the progressive left? And notes on changes in the political narratives we are being fed, and some thoughts on scolding others as a diplomatic tool, and the odd hurricane map. And follow-ups on CBS and on the "we've lost it" meme.

Features? A long, extended item how we think about work, and how others think about it - with two readers in France explaining things there. And the usual funny quotes (test your Latin skills).

Bob Patterson is back with a piece on how to do reporting, and on our adventures at an excruciatingly hip Hollywood literary party. And his Book Wrangler column has some suggestions for you.

The photos? Phillip Marlow's old haunts on Hollywood Boulevard, of course.

A new feature added during the week - a search page. Click on SEARCH from the top menu and, with the first option, you can do a key word or topic search on any issue this year. The second option allows you to perform the same sort of search on issues prior to this year and the complete contents of this daily web log As seen from Just Above Sunset.

But this is not me...


Posted by Alan at 17:21 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
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