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"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, 3 August 2004

Topic: The Law

Ignorance of the law is no excuse... an odd little item that caught my eye...

Note this press release from the American Library Association -
For Immediate Release
July 30, 2004

Statement from ALA President-Elect Michael Gorman on the destruction of Department of Justice documents

CHICAGO -- The following statement has been issued by President-Elect Michael Gorman, representing President Carol Brey-Casiano, who is currently in Guatemala representing the Association:

Last week, the American Library Association learned that the Department of Justice asked the Government Printing Office Superintendent of Documents to instruct depository libraries to destroy five publications the Department has deemed not "appropriate for external use." The Department of Justice has called for these five public documents, two of which are texts of federal statutes, to be removed from depository libraries and destroyed, making their content available only to those with access to a law office or law library.

The topics addressed in the named documents include information on how citizens can retrieve items that may have been confiscated by the government during an investigation. The documents to be removed and destroyed include: Civil and Criminal Forfeiture Procedure; Select Criminal Forfeiture Forms; Select Federal Asset Forfeiture Statutes; Asset forfeiture and money laundering resource directory; and Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (CAFRA).

ALA has submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the withdrawn materials in order to obtain an official response from the Department of Justice regarding this unusual action, and why the Department has requested that documents that have been available to the public for as long as four years be removed from depository library collections. ALA is committed to ensuring that public documents remain available to the public and will do its best to bring about a satisfactory resolution of this matter.

Librarians should note that, according to policy 72, written authorization from the Superintendent of Documents is required to remove any documents. To this date no such written authorization in hard copy has been issued.
Now wait a second here. This is mighty odd.

A hypothetical - as I live in Hollywood just off the Sunset Strip say that in a massive drug sweep I am arrested on suspicion of, say, laundering money for the low-life types down there, or given the history of the British movie star Hugh Grant, arrested for soliciting and actually employing one of them there ladies of the night in the relative privacy of my parked car on a quiet side street. (Yes, a number of years ago Grant got busted for just that three blocks east of here.) Whichever case, sex or drugs, I was in my car, which I rather like, actually. It was confiscated. They can do that - and have been doing that with "johns" who used to cruise the area looking for companionship with these ladies of the night. And that has been, by the way, very effective. That stuff stopped over the last several years. They scared away the customers. You could lose you car forever - sometimes even if you were cleared of all charges. There's been some controversy about that, but it has happened - and still happens. Anyway, whatever the charge in my hypothetical case, I'm cleared. They discover that I'm really a harmless nobody - which everyone knew anyway - and the authorities after a time drop all charges and send me on my way. And then I think, maybe, I can get my car back. It's worth a shot.

So how do I get my cute little black convertible back - if they haven't sold it at auction and used the profits to buy more gizmos for their police cruisers? I need a lawyer - because the laws - and the applicable procedures and forms - have been withdrawn from public access. I'm not supposed to see them. They are not appropriate for external use. This is not a do-it-yourself thing anymore at all.

What the heck - it only adds a bit of expense. And lawyers have to eat too. And maybe these things are too complicated and dangerous for us civilians.

I just hate not knowing things, and being told I'm not supposed to know things.

I should be more trusting. The Department of Justice must have its reasons for hiding selected statutes and procedures from the public, to which they apply - calling for all copies to be destroyed - and must be right in not explaining those reasons to anyone.

But it bothers me.

On the other hand, no one wants to be a pain in the ass, always asking questions and seeming to know so much more than he or she should. That really puts people off - and we are, after all, at war and pesky impertinent questions aid the terrorists who want to kill us all... or something.

This is a minor issue - one of the most minor. Add it to all else that has happened in the last almost three years with the Patriot Act and whatnot and you could get all paranoid about some sort of creeping police state.

Not here. Not here. You just have to trust those in power and not rock the boat.

Posted by Alan at 21:23 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 3 August 2004 21:36 PDT home

Topic: Photos

My subversive neighbor ...

Claudine, who lives across the courtyard, was born in France. In Toulouse. But she has been an American citizen for many years. She chose to make this her country. She loves this country.

She makes her living as a tour guide for French groups visiting America for the first time. Claudine is often off to Las Vegas to hook up with one more group of elderly French tourists in search of the real America. She shows them around. Heck, I don't think the real America is in Las Vegas - but maybe it is. Sometimes it's a group of fifty-two who will listen, in French, to whatever explanation Claudine can come up with for Las Vegas. And then she shows them around Hollywood. The French adore Hollywood. As if this is America. Maybe it is.

Ah, the life of a tour guide.

When she's off-duty, she has her own views...

Posted by Alan at 17:23 PDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 3 August 2004 17:30 PDT home

Topic: Election Notes

Political Discourse - There seem to be some disagreements on methodology...

From Deteriorata - a riff on "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran and sometimes called "The Profit" by Kehlog Albran - "Remember my son, a walk through the ocean of most people's souls would not even wet your ankles."

The significant passage -
And reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot
It could only be worse in Milwaukee.

[ Chorus ]

You are a fluke
Of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
And whether you can hear it or not
The universe is laughing behind your back.
It could only be worse in Milwaukee? Perhaps so.

Consider the state of political discourse there.

'Everything is at stake,' Kerry tells riverfront crowd
Race's intensity visible in exchanges with Bush supporters
Craig Gilbert And Alan J. Borsuk , The Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel (Milwaukee) - Posted: Aug. 2, 2004

Way deep in the article, this -
About 30 Bush supporters chanted loudly during the speeches by Kerry and his wife, sometimes setting off air horns. The pro-Bush group was on the Kilbourn Ave. sidewalk overlooking Pere Marquette Park, almost a full block from the stage, but it could be heard throughout the park, including on stage.

Tom Lange, 18, of Waukesha said he was setting off an air horn during Kerry's remarks because "we want them to hear us and not hear what he has to say."

Lange said it's "probably not nice, but it's my beliefs."

Michael Gaspar, 18, of Waukesha used a bullhorn frequently before and during the rally to welcome Kerry supporters "to Bush-Cheney country" and to spur on the Bush supporters.

Asked why he was leading the Bush volunteers in loud chants while Kerry was speaking, he said, "I'm doing this to show my support for President George W. Bush."

"I have the right to speak also," he said. "I'm just attempting to get my voice heard."
Mere youthful exuberance? Perhaps.

There seems to be some confusion here as to free speech rights. Free speech on any topic left and right should have, at a minimum, some actual content. Perhaps not.

Perhaps, in a way that Marshall McLuan never envisioned, here the medium actually is the message. The medium is an ear-splitting blast. The message is a sort of post-existential statement on the futility of language to offer the resources for expressing the heroic welling up of deep feelings of patriotism and admiration for the one true hero - the new Fisher King who has slain his father and renewed the land. GWB becomes the hero-king as GHWB fades into ignominious obscurity. And as any semiotic deconstructionist can attest - language has its limits. Thus we have a symbolic enactment of the futility of language to encompass existence in any way. This then is, in a way, deep performance art - a philosophically grounded Cri du Coeur in the deepest sense. Brilliant!

Or these guys are just thugs.

It's "probably not nice, but it's my beliefs." Ah, a deep belief in noise, and not in verb agreement.

Ah well, such things happen. Not a big problem.

But this might be.

Bush Planning August Attack Against Kerry
Adam Nagourney and Robin Toner, The New York Times, August 1, 2004
WASHINGTON, July 31 -- President Bush's campaign plans to use the normally quiet month of August for a vigorous drive to undercut John Kerry by turning attention away from his record in Vietnam to what the campaign described as an undistinguished and left-leaning record in the Senate.

Mr. Bush's advisers plan to cap the month at the Republican convention in New York, which they said would feature Mr. Kerry as an object of humor and calculated derision.
Humor and calculated derision? Kind of like the Al Gore thing, mocking him for key vote to move the internet from DARPA to the public (The fool said he invented it!) and his wardrobe (All those phony earth-tones his advisors made him wear!) - and every news source in the country piled on. It works. Multiply that by a hundred times.

I suppose that is better than air horns. There is, after all, more content.

Josh Marshall writes -
Now the Bush-Cheney political campaign is telling all who will listen that they will spend the next month running a massive ad campaign (with a price tag of $30 million and no doubt supplemented by on-message talking points sent out to the all the foot soldiers) aimed at mocking John Kerry as a undistinguished and risible figure. According to the Times, this will culminate at the GOP convention where Kerry will be portrayed as "an object of humor and calculated derision."

... This makes sense on a number of levels.

... The more discussion-worthy point, however, is the use of humor as a political weapon -- mockery, derision, diminishment.

Republicans are very good at this. And it can be a tool that is deceptively difficult to respond to or combat. Effective mockery is 'sticky', hard to shake off, hard to parry. And it appeals to people's appetite for fun and humor.

Indeed, it's not just contemporary Republicans who have a knack for this. There seems to be something intrinsic to the reactionary or right-leaning mentality that gravitates toward this method of political combat. Think of the Tory pamphleteers and essayists of the 18th century in Great Britain or others of a more recent vintage in the US.

This is potent stuff.
Indeed it is, and there may be no defense for it. It works - better than air horns.

Why go this way?

Digsby over at Hullabaloo adds this reason -
I think this is because the right is essentially authoritarian and group derision is one of the most powerful weapons in the bully's arsenal. Frat boys, Heathers, street gangs, insider cliques of all kinds use it to terrorize the loners and coerce fealty from those who don't want to be a target. Indeed, forcing others to join in the cruelty is the actual point. I've loathed and resisted this dynamic my whole life. It may be the single most important reason I am a Democrat. I just can't stand those assholes.

But, it is a very powerful social force that asserts itself in various ways from childhood into old age. Right now, we seem to be in one of those periodic cultural eras in which these kinds of adolescent, anti-intellectual social types come to the fore. (There is no greater example than the president himself --- "Fuck Saddam, we're takin' 'im out.") It's hard to fight in this environment and while I am all for ridiculing them right back, I'm afraid that most liberals are never going to have quite the flair for it that they do. We have way more genuinely funny guys and gals deflating the hypocrisies of our times, but the bullies have that nasty coercive streak that really gives this stuff its punch. "Laugh, you pussies, unless you want a piece of this."

I spent a lot of time interacting with activist Republicans in years gone by and you'd be surprised at how lame we lefties generally are at this game. The bullies have spent their entire lives eating reasoned arguments and pleas for civility for breakfast. Still, I think it's a good idea for us to keep at it. They really hate being made fun of. Even if most of us can't strike that perfect, snarly bitchy tone in our mockery we can still bother them with it.

Unfortunately, however, in the long run the Democratic Party really can't indulge very much in these high school games because the fate of the world depends upon somebody rising above this immaturity. For all of our fractiousness and various feints left, right and center, we are the grown up party. Gawdhelpus.

What are the poor liberals to do? This will end Kerry's chances, when CNN and all the rest jump on the bandwagon, for the fun of it. They will.

As Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta mentioned to me in an email -
After hearing Ann Coulter as a guest on Neal Boortz, and the two of them discussing how interesting it was that liberals stopped calling themselves liberals after the Republicans labeled Dukakis a "liberal," I found myself shouting at the radio, "That's because you conservatives are combative, and the liberals are cooperators, which means they don't like getting into trivial fights!"

And then I stopped when I realized that Americans, especially right now, don't want to vote for a party that backs away from fights. So maybe what we need are liberals who aren't afraid to kick ass? Or is the concept of a "kick-ass liberal" just way too oxymoronic? Then again, maybe the real problem with liberals is that they're too sensitive to be "kick-ass", afraid that someone will accuse them of trying to look like Republicans.

I mean, how can you seriously respect anyone who uses the term "oxymoronic" in a sentence, and not turn it into a joke?

Kerry is toast.

Even if we use things like this...

Posted by Alan at 16:09 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Monday, 2 August 2004

Topic: The Law

Taking sides when the world has changed again...

Tuesday's Guardian (UK) - as left as it is - provides its usual clear prose, and the text for this particular sermon.

First up? George Monbiot on how the War of Terror is destroying out freedoms. The usual, right?

A threat to democracy
Basic freedoms to protest are being systematically undermined by anti-terror legislation
George Monbiot, The Guardian (UK), Tuesday August 3, 2004

His opening is classic - a model of effective prose style (with British spellings) - and a bit scary ...
If we have learned anything over the past 18 months it is this: that the first rule of politics - power must never be trusted - still applies. The government will neither regulate itself nor be regulated by the institutions which surround it. Parliament chose to believe a string of obvious lies. The media repeated them, the civil service let them pass, the judiciary endorsed them. The answer to the age-old political question - who guards the guards? - remains unchanged. Only the people will hold the government to account.

They have two means of doing so. The first is to throw it out of office at the next election. This works only when we are permitted to choose an alternative set of policies. But in almost every nation, a new contract has now been struck between the main political parties: they have chosen to agree on almost all significant areas of policy. This leaves the people disenfranchised: they can vote out the monkeys but not the organ-grinder. So voting is now a less important democratic instrument than the second means: the ability to register our discontent during a government's term in office.

Applying the first rule of politics, we should expect those in power to seek to prevent the public from holding them to account. Whenever they can get away with it, they will restrict the right to protest. They got away with it last week.

The demonstrators who have halted the construction of the new animal testing labs in Oxford...
No, readers here don't much care about the British examples. None of that. Click on the link if you want details of what, in England's green and pleasant land, bothers this fellow.

We have our own examples - see You won't see Dick, unless you say the magic words... and Keeping the Press in line... and other such items for domestic examples.

Such items are not hard to find.

At both of the political conventions protesters are confined to fenced-in "free speech zones" where, behind the chain link fence, they can say anything they want. No one wants trouble.

Only the people will hold the government to account? The people - from their pens? Well, we should expect those in power to seek to prevent the public from holding them to account, and these cages will do.

But I don't know what to make of this item. Things are getting tighter.

Orin Kerr over at the UCLA law blog The Volokh Conspiracy notes this -
I have read a lot of Fourth Amendment cases over the last few years, but today I learned something new: several courts of appeals have allowed the government to obtain and execute "anticipatory" search warrants. According to these cases, the government can get a warrant even if their case for probable cause hinges on some future event. If the future event occurs, the warrant becomes operative and they can execute the search. If the future event does not occur, then the warrant is not yet operative and they cannot execute the search.
Kevin Drum in The Washington Monthly has this to say -
... the problem with this is that a "future event" isn't necessarily a simple, clear-cut incident. It might be something that's unmistakably black-and-white, but it also might be something based on the suspect's behavior that's a bit of a judgment call.

And that's disturbing. The whole point of a warrant is that it prevents police from making their own judgment calls and requires them to make their case to a neutral judge if they want to execute a search. I wonder how long this has been going on and how common it is?
In the comments to Kevin Drum in The Washington Monthly Matt Davis posts this -
This sounds really bad in the abstract, but if the concrete manifestations are limited by normal legal standards of "reasonable" behavior, it might not be that bad.

Think of it: Policeman wants warrant to search when the impending meeting with Mendoza takes place (you know, when the drugs will still be there). Is it so wrong to give it to him? And to trust him to recognize that a meeting with Mendoza has (finally) taken place?

It's certainly not more epistemological discretion than we already grant our police, although we might want to reconsider.
Another comment - "Gee, prior restraint used to be unconstitutional."

Anticipatory search warrants. A curious notion. I'm note sure these are a direct result of the War on Terror as much they are just the result of a growing sense that we really must give the police more freedom in these dangerous times. That would make the rise in the issuance of anticipatory search warrants only an indirect result. Our worldview has changed - the zeitgeist has changed, the paradigm has shifted - choose your pretentious words here. Folks be scared. What will you give up when you're scared?

Well, life is safe in a police state - if you behave yourself.

Martin Kettle, on the other hand, is almost cheery. Americans aren't all torn apart and angry and frightened. That's all been blown way out proportion.

On both sides of the Atlantic, progressives could be braver
Americans are less polarised than their politicians would have us believe
Martin Kettle, The Guardian (UK), Tuesday August 3, 2004

He does a riff on Alan Wolfe -
Six years ago, the American sociologist Alan Wolfe published a strikingly important book. Entitled "One Nation, After All," and subtitled "What Middle-Class Americans Really Think About," it is an essential text for understanding the pulse of modern America. What makes it both important and essential is that Wolfe painted a picture radically at odds with the exaggerated perception, both in the US and abroad, of America as a nation of entrenched and embattled ideological extremes.

In fact, Wolfe argued that middle America was not so much a land of culture wars as of cultural pragmatism. "I have found little support for the notion that middle-class Americans" - a category within which three quarters of all Americans define themselves - "are engaged in bitter cultural conflict with each other over the proper way to live," he observed.

"Reluctant to pass judgment, [Americans] are tolerant to a fault," he concluded. "Not about everything - they have not come to accept homosexuality as normal and they intensely dislike bilingualism - but about a surprising number of things, including rapid transformations in the family, legal immigration, multicultural education and the separation of church and state. Above all moderate in their outlook on the world, they believe in the importance of leading a virtuous life, but are reluctant to impose values they understand as virtuous for themselves on others; strong believers in morality, they do not want to be considered moralists."
Oh really?

Well, Kettle interviews Wolfe and find the guy still maintains this view, and gives this summary -
The essence of Wolfe's case is that the great wedge issues of the late 20th-century culture wars have simply shrunk in significance. The most important of these, as always, is affirmative action on race, where the supreme court has managed to strike a sensible compromise. Nor, he argues, does abortion still have the divisive potential of the past, though if a re-elected Bush attempts to nominate a supreme court dedicated to overturning the landmark pro-abortion Roe vs Wade judgment of 1973, that could change. Having won the political argument over what it calls partial birth abortion, though, Wolfe reckons the right is less angry than it was.

There's much about America in 2004 that bears this out. Over the past couple of months, the president has spent $50m on campaign ads designed to promote his opposition to gay marriage. As Wolfe's original research found, gay equality remains one of the issues on which middle America remains to be convinced; yet you would have to search long and hard to find many people who believe that gay marriage is the great dividing issue in America. At the margins, Bush's advertising may help to motivate some social conservatives to vote Republican, but mostly it has sunk without trace.
Yes, Rick Santorum and fellow who worries about box turtles aside, no one much cares about gay marriage. We all have gay friends. What's the point? Live and let live.

Disclosure - this writer, along with gay friends, also has more than a few morose friends. (Sorry - couldn't resist.)

So what's the problem? Why this apparent great divide? Kettle's conclusion ...
A possible explanation is that the polarisation of 2000 and 2004 is simply untypical - most US presidential elections are not nearly so close as the last one was and the next one promises to be. In that case, some special factor - the disabling effect of the Clinton scandals on the Democratic cause in 2000, perhaps, or the mistrust towards Bush's Iraq policy and his tax cuts this time around - may have made these two contests more impassioned than they might otherwise have been.

A second is that the practices of modern campaigning and media - giving voters a relentlessly inaccurate picture of the choices they face, presenting their own candidate in an unbelievably favourable light and their opponent in an equally unbelievably negative light - conspire to create a polarised contest between core electorates and to drive down participation. As US journalist Jack Germond says in his new memoir, the Republicans do not have a monopoly on such tactics - they just seem better at it.

There is, of course, a third possibility: that Wolfe's "one nation" theory is just wrong.
Yes, that is quite possible.

I am tired of my conservative friends shouting at me that the world is newly and uniquely dangerous - and that a modified police state run by Ashcroft for the Bush administration is they only thing that will keep us from all being killed by the swarthy, nefarious Islamic radicals - THE CONSTITUTION IS NOT A SUICIDE PACT! - and that I should, basically, just shut up.

But I so enjoy stirring the pot. Perhaps I shouldn't. Everything changed since 9/11 - as we have all been told.

No it hasn't.

Or am I living in the past - a world that no longer exists? Damn, I kind of liked that free-press / say-what-you-want / ask-for-a-warrant-before-you-let-them-in world. Oh well.

Alan Wolfe? He sees no really big divide. He's wrong.

The divide is not about gay marriage or abortion. We can settle that stuff. The divide is right on the line between granting fairly limitless power to the current authorities in trade for a bit more security, and claiming freedom of expression, freedom of movement, basic personal privacy and that other quaint stuff - knowing there are risks but accepting those risks.

Nothing new there - Austria 1938 or Kent State in 1970 or... find your own example. Here in California we just elected a governor, a charismatic German-speaking Austrian curiously enough, who wants to get rid of the state legislature - make them part-time advisors, no more - so he can get some things DONE, damn it! He is tremendously popular. He'll get this.

We are just being asked to choose, one more time. Freedom or security.

Of course you can work out ways to have bits of both, or a lot of both. We managed that for quite a while, on and off.

But no one is talking compromise any long. Bush says you are with us, or with the terrorists. Kerry and those running against his administration are saying no way, George - we think you've done a lousy job and, by the way, we don't like the terrorists at all. We have other ideas - and on the economy and the environment and lots of stuff. Bush and his crew are saying that just cannot be so - why do you folks hate America - do you want the terrorists to win?

Alan Wolfe? He sees no really big divide. He's wrong.


Footnote -

In the discussion of George Monbiot's ideas above I mentioned England's green and pleasant land.
The phrase comes from this - Blake wanting to make things better, idealist that he was.
Yeah, the famous "dark satanic mills" words, and those Chariots of Fire, come from this.

(From 'The Preface' to 'Milton')
William Blake (1757-1827)

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold;
Bring me my arrows of desire;
Bring me my spear; O clouds, unfold!

Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.

Posted by Alan at 21:57 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 2 August 2004 22:04 PDT home

Topic: Election Notes

Election Notes: Tough Times for the Third Man

The Third Man - but this time it's not Harry Lime (Orson Welles) at all. The third man in this case is Ralph Nader. One thinks more of Rodney Dangerfield than of Orson Welles' Harry Lime. Some days things just don't go well, and you get no respect.

Go to the footnote for everything you ever wanted to know about Harry Lime and that 1949 film, if you wish, but consider this curious question from Michael Scott -
Q. What do Ralph Nader and John Ashcroft now have in common?

A. They've both lost in balloting where the voters knew they were supporting an opponent who wouldn't be able to serve even if elected.
What is Scott taking about?

This from out here in California on the morning wire -

Nader Loses Presidential Nomination For Calif. Peace, Freedom Party
Party Goes With Imprisoned American Indian Activist
POSTED: 8:00 am PDT August 2, 2004 UPDATED: 8:52 am PDT August 2, 2004
LOS ANGELES - Ralph Nader lost a chance to get on the California ballot when the Peace and Freedom Party chose an imprisoned American Indian activist for its standard bearer, it was announced Sunday.

However, the 70-year-old consumer activist could still get on the Nov. 2 state ballot if a weekend petition drive is successful in getting about 25,000 more signatures his supporters said he needed to qualify as an independent candidate.

Meeting in Los Angeles yesterday, delegates to the Peace and Freedom Party Convention heard an appeal from Nader, but instead chose Native American Leonard Peltier, which the group described as a political prisoner.

Many believe Peltier was framed for the murder of two FBI agents on a reservation in Wounded knee, S.D., in 1975. He is serving a life sentence.

Nader appeared at the convention a few hours before the vote but was unable to sway a majority of the delegates. ...
Yep, they choose a man who couldn't run as their candidate. Better than Ralph.

As least Leonard Peltier isn't dead. And Ashcroft did lose to a dead man.

Republican senator loses to dead rival in Missouri
CNN - November 8, 2000 - Web posted at: 2:49 a.m. EST (0749 GMT)
(CNN) -- The late Gov. Mel Carnahan collected enough votes to beat out incumbent Republican Sen. John Ashcroft for the U.S. Senate seat from Missouri.

The incumbent Ashcroft was left running against a dead man after his opponent, the popular sitting governor, died in a plane crash on October 16. By that time, it was too late to remove Carnahan's name from the ballot.

No one had ever posthumously won election to the Senate, though voters on at least three occasions chose deceased candidates for the House.
Oh well. Ashcroft got a better job. Can't manage to beat a dead man in an open election? Well, you can still be appointed the Attorney General - top lawman of the whole nation. What are Christian friends for?

Ralph Nader, unfortunately, has other problems, on the other side of the continent. The homeless are revolting - against him.

Nader office shuts down as workers seek pay
Petition circulators demanded payment for signatures collected. A campaign employee said the scene smacked of dirty politics.
Michael Currie Schaffer, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Saturday, July 31, 2004

Here's the sad story...
Ralph Nader's presidential campaign this week abruptly abandoned the Center City office that housed its efforts to get on the Pennsylvania ballot, leaving behind a mess of accusations and a damaged building.

The office, on the 1500 block of Chestnut Street, was emptied Thursday after a raucous scene the night before. Police were called as dozens of homeless people lined up to collect money they said they were owed for circulating petitions on the candidate's behalf.

Many of the circulators were never paid, according to outreach workers and interviews with several men who had collected signatures.

"A lot of us were scammed," said Ed Seip, 52, who said he collected more than 200 signatures for Nader.
Ralph Nader would, actually and for real, scam people?

Well it seem in this report that John Slevin, a "ballot-access contractor" hired by Nader to run the Pennsylvania petition campaign, is saying everyone is going to get paid - really. Honest. He seems to think "the accusations and chaos at the office were the result of political trickery. That's the only explanation for it." He just didn't expect these hoards of homeless people looking for "petition work." He'd been hiring "petition circulators" for two weeks - promising seventy-five cents to a dollar for each valid signature. And the deal was half the money at the end of each day and a check on each Wednesday.

But Wednesday was a mess -
... people who showed up Wednesday described a chaotic situation. Lines moved slowly as Slevin and one assistant, protected by armed guards, vetted the petitions for obviously forged signatures. Many in line were shouting and claiming they had been underpaid. As tensions grew, police were called.

By day's end, many left without being paid. Those who returned the next day found the office empty.
Ah, gone in the night. Let them eat cake... or let them take Prozac.

Slevin did say he would mail checks to the addresses people had given when hired - but gee, a lot of these folks didn't exactly have addresses as they were down on their luck, living in the streets and scrambling for a few bucks. Well, too bad.

Well, the whole thing was a mess - and the folks who worked for Ralph were, shall we say, unruly and angry -
"They trashed the place," said Lee Brahim, a co-owner of the building where Slevin had rented an office for the month. Brahim said people had urinated in garbage cans and broken a stairway railing.

The 2-week-old effort to collect signatures using hired petition circulators also faced scrutiny last week after reporters witnessed several circulators repeatedly signing each other's forms and telling signers that they could use whatever name they wanted.

Slevin said circulators had been instructed to obey the law.

But one disgruntled circulator said they had not known the rules. "Everyone in the mission was just passing them around from person to person," said Michael Reed Jr., 21, who said he had not been paid.
Gee, it is hard to find good help these days. You tell them to follow the rules and these low-life types still mess up.

Ralph's team in Philadelphia should have done what his team in Michigan did - you don't use the scruffy underclass of losers, you turn to the elite, the folks who are responsible and run this country. You turn to the Republicans.

Nader accepting GOP signatures in Michigan
Dem leaders have asked him to refuse the signatures
Tuesday, July 20, 2004 Posted: 11:28 AM EDT (1528 GMT)
LANSING, Michigan (AP) -- In an about face, Ralph Nader decided Monday to accept thousands of petition signatures collected by Michigan Republicans if that is the only way he can qualify for the state's presidential ballot.

Last Thursday, Michigan Republican Party officials submitted 43,000 signatures -- far more than the 30,000 needed -- to ensure Nader could appear on the ballot as an independent.

Republicans began collecting signatures after it appeared that Nader might not get on the ballot as the Reform Party's candidate for president.

Nader's campaign had turned in about 5,400 signatures.
What are friends for?

But be it known, Ralph Nader is disappointed with liberal and progressive and other sorts of people who want change - disappointed he has to turn to the Republican Party to get the required signatures to get on the ballot in a number of states - so people can vote for him - and NOT for Republicans or Democrats. I suppose that makes sense, in an odd sort of way.

But here in California some folks would rather have a convicted murderer in prison serving a life sentence represent them on the ballot - not the earnest "I have no ego" Ralph. Rodney Dangerfield's signature line comes to mind - "I tell you, I get no respect, no respect...." And in Philadelphia these bums you hired to collect signatures get all uppity and trash your place because the greedy bastards want paid. "I tell you, I get no respect, no respect...."

All in all, a bad week for the third man.


Footnote - the movie -

The Third Man (1949) was directed by Carol Reed and written by Graham Greene. The Third Man is a classic film noir, enhanced even more so by the quirky zither music of Anton Karas and fine cinematography of Vienna's bombed out buildings and underground sewers.

Set in post-war Austria, a country politically divided into different sectors controlled by the U.S., England, France and Russia. Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten), an American author, arrives in Vienna where he has been promised work by his old school friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles). Upon his arrival, Martins discovers that Lime has been killed in a suspicious car accident, and that his funeral is taking place immediately. At the graveside, Martins meets outwardly affable Major Calloway (Trevor Howard) and actress Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli), who is weeping copiously. When Calloway tells Martins that the late Harry Lime was nothing more or less than a thief and a murderer, the loyal Martins is at first outraged.

Gradually, he not only discovers that Calloway was right, but also that the man lying in the coffin in the film's early scenes was not Harry Lime at all - and that Lime is still very much alive (he was the mysterious "third man" at the scene of the fatal accident). Calloway hopes to use either Anna or Hollings to flush out Lime. Unswerving in her loyalty, Anna refuses. Martins does likewise, until Calloway shows the novelist the tragic results of Lime's black-market in diluted penicillin.

Arranging a rendezvous with Lime at the huge Ferris wheel in the centre of Vienna, Hollings listens in barely concealed disgust as Lime casually dismisses his heinous crimes. Feeling particularly brazen, Lime offers not to kill Hollings if the latter will go into business with him. Thus the stage is set for the famous climactic confrontation in the sewers of Vienna - and the even more famous final shot of The Third Man, in which Martins pays emotionally for doing the right thing.

The film is currently available in both an American and British release version; the American version with an introduction by Joseph Cotten, the British version is narrated by Carol Reed. Nominated for several Academy Awards, The Third Man won a "Best Cinematography" prize for Robert Krasker.

Director: Carol Reed.
Asst Director: Guy Hamilton.
Producer: Carol Reed, Alexander Korda and David O. Selznick.
Associate Producer: Hugh Perceval.
Script: Graham Greene, Alexander Korda, Carol Reed and Orson Welles. (from the story The Third Man by Graham Greene)
Cinematography: Robert Krasker.
Art Direction: John Hawkesworth, Joseph Bato and Vincent Korda.
Asst Art Direction: Fernand Bellan.
Editing: Oswald Hafenrichter.
Costume Design: Ivy Baker and James Sawyer.
Makeup: George Frost.
Sound: John Cox.
Music Direction: Anton Karas.

Joseph Cotton - Holly Martins
Orson Welles - Harry Lime
Alida Valli - Anna Schmidt
Trevor Howard - Major Calloway
Bernard Lee - Sergeant Paine
Wilfrid Hyde White - Crabbin
Paul Hoerbiger - Porter
Ernst Deutsch - Baron Kurtz
Herbeil Halbik - Hansel
Paul Hardtmuth - Hall porter
Alexis Chesnakov - Brodsky
Martin Boddey - Man
Nelly Arno - Kurtz's Mother
Geoffrey Keen - British Policeman
Siegfried Breuer - Popescu
Erich Ponto - Dr. Winkel
Paul Smith - MP
Hedwig Bleibtreu - Old Woman


Another Pop Culture Note - this from the New York Daily News, Tuesday, August 03, 2004
The Grateful Dead's Bob Weir is pleading with Deadheads everywhere not to vote for Ralph Nader. Performing on Saturday in Boston, Weir told the band's followers to be sure to vote, but the exorted, "Don't vote for Nader. I know him. He's an a--hole," our spies tell us. The band then broke into "Johnny B. Goode," a theme song of the Kerry-Edwards campaign ...

Posted by Alan at 17:11 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 3 August 2004 09:37 PDT home

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