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:: Friday, July 02, 2004 ::

Thousands of eligible voters are on felon list

Let's just think a second, here. Florida was forced to release their list (the one created with painstaking care, one would imagine, after the fiasco of 2000) about 24 hours ago. And in less than 24 hours, the Herald alone found 2,119 errors. Just by checking against the list of people who had their rights restored.
More than 2,100 Florida voters -- many of them black Democrats -- could be wrongly barred from voting in November because Tallahassee elections officials included them on a list of felons potentially ineligible to vote, a Herald investigation has found.

A Florida Division of Elections database lists more than 47,000 people the department said may be ineligible to vote because of felony records. The state is directing local elections offices to check the list and scrub felons from voter rolls.

But a Herald review shows that at least 2,119 of those names -- including 547 in South Florida -- shouldn't be on the list because their rights to vote were formally restored through the state's clemency process.
Yep, that's right. 5% of the list was invalidated by a single newspaper in less than 24 hours.

They haven't even checked for felons who had their rights restored in other states (an issue with the 2000 list), people who happen to have similar names to felons (an issue with the 2000 list), or -- to bring up another issue -- people who just happen to have the misfortune of not being white and a Republican.

Five percent of the list was discredited in less than twenty four hours. By the easiest, simplest check possible. I'd ascribe it to incompetence, but since I've been assured that most of the people involved can tie their own shoelaces and can form complete sentences, I can safely say no one is that incompetent.

This is the kind of bullshit I expect from third-world dictatorships, but this is happening in America, under the auspices of the President's own brother.
:: Morat 10:18 AM :: ::

F911

I plan to see Moore's film this weekend. From talking to my brother (whose opinion I greatly respect) and a few other people, I'm pretty sure that F911 isn't going to tell me anything I don't know. The images might drive some things home, but I'm not going to come away feeling I've learned something new.

But I'm not going to the film alone. I'm dragging my mother along. Now, she's not going to vote for Bush. Bush lost her vote the day he tapped Rod Paige to be Secretary of Education (she's an educator, and we live right outside of HISD. We knew all about the 'Texas Miracle' before the New York Times even had a clue).

So she's not going to vote for Bush. And she's somewhat aware of all the things Moore talks about in his film (my brother has been hounding her for four years about Bush). But she's not angry about it. She just thinks he's a bad President, especially on education, and she's a bit worried about some of the things he's done.

I'm curious to see how this will affect her, how it would affect those unhappy with Bush, but not yet angry. So when I review the film, it's going to be far more about what my mother thought than what I thought. (And face it, I think we've had enough "Liberal blogger thought it was moving, didn't learn anything new, you should go see it" reviews...)
:: Morat 9:19 AM :: ::

Shrilly Spoken

Krugman's latest column is on F911. And my only response? Damn straight:
Since it opened, 'Fahrenheit 9/11' has been a hit in both blue and red America, even at theaters close to military bases. Last Saturday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took his Nascar crew to see it. The film's appeal to working-class Americans, who are the true victims of George Bush's policies, should give pause to its critics, especially the nervous liberals rushing to disassociate themselves from Michael Moore.

There has been much tut-tutting by pundits who complain that the movie, though it has yet to be caught in any major factual errors, uses association and innuendo to create false impressions. Many of these same pundits consider it bad form to make a big fuss about the Bush administration's use of association and innuendo to link the Iraq war to 9/11. Why hold a self-proclaimed polemicist to a higher standard than you hold the president of the United States?

:: Morat 9:07 AM :: ::

:: Thursday, July 01, 2004 ::

I wonder about Slate...

I wonder if the Slate producers force their writers to simply pull stories, and a pro/con position on it, out of a hat. It would certainly explain Noah's latest piece about some upcoming Hollywood films (one on the Crusades and on on Alexander the Great) and how they'll -- in effect -- play "poorly in the Middle East".
It's quite possible that one or all of these movies will portray the West more favorably than Chatterbox presumes, or (in the case of Alexander's homosexuality) in a way that Egyptian and Iranian moviegoers might conceivably accept sympathetically. But that would only make these projects more provocative to Islamist terrorists, and therefore even less advisable. Why make these movies at all? We live in an age when public figures are wise to avoid the very word "crusade," and when even ironic discussion of Western conquests or attempted conquests in a part of the world now dominated by Islam is best confined to Western audiences. To Muslims, many of whom resent Western pop culture to begin with, this is a very touchy subject, even though these events occurred in what Westerners view as an unimaginably distant past. Where's Hollywood's customary timidity on the rare occasion when we need it? Can't it take a rain check?

"But wait," stout defenders of liberty may say. "If Hollywood stops making big-budget movies about the Crusades and Alexander the Great, the terrorists will have won." The obvious logical flaw here is that Hollywood had no interest in making such movies before the World Trade Center fell. The urge to make them now seems not only reckless, but perverse.
Hollywood had no interest in making "Daredevil" and "Spiderman" before "X-men" made hundreds of millions at the box office. Hollywood had no interest in making movies with bullet-time effects until The Matrix came along. Now you find bullet time effects everywhere.

The movie industry has always played "chase the blockbuster". The Matrix spawned a raft of Matrix clones, so why is it any surprise that the success of Return of the King and Troy are spawning other epic battle movies?

This seems pretty straightforward Hollywood thinking to me. "Troy and Return of the King made, like, a zillion dollars. They both had giant battles with swords and arrows and stuff." I mean, hell, Alexander even has elephants, so we're talking double the Return of the King copying there.

Noah's a smart man. So it makes me wonder how he could miss something as obvious -- and unremarkable -- as Hollywood's usual copycat game. And because he missed the obvious explanation, the tag of his piece is utterly wrong. Hollywood isn't making these movies as "9/11 apologia" as Noah suggests, they're making it because big-battle films are popular, and the Crusades and Alexander are fertile ground for such films. In the end, it's all about money.....

My only conclusion was that Hitchens was busy, and Noah drew the short end of the stick.
:: Morat 12:31 PM :: ::

Ralph Bloody Nader

You know, I'm getting really sick of Ralph Nader. No, wait, scratch that. I'm not really sick of ole' Ralph. After all, he's just doing the same stupid schtick he's been doing since he gave up that useful consumer advocacy for professional martyr and media hound.

What I'm really sick of are the -- albeit much fewer -- Nader supporters. Not the idealistic college kiddies (Being 21 is a time for solving world hunger the space between classes, after all) but the supposed grownups who support him.

Why? Why on God's green earth would you continue to support Nader? Is it because you hate Democrats, but can't bring yourself to join the GOP? (That's understandable. I wouldn't want to be in Tom Delay's party either). Did your parents drop you on your head? Are you simply marginally retarded? Politically naive? Stoned? Drunk?

Asking around, I seem to get a sort of hazy "I'm voting for Nader because neither party represents me", which then breaks down into two subcategories of "Thus a vote for Nader will help make third parties mainstream" and "Thus a vote for Nader will force the Democrats to become more liberal/less beholden to special interests/raise the minimum wage to 20 bucks an hour/etc".

I can follow the first part. I understand it quite well, as do most people. After all, since I'm not running either party, you can damn well be sure neither really represents me. I'm a Democrat because on most things, the Democrats are roughly (key word here is "roughly") in tune with my views or at least aren't totally antagonistic to my views. In other words, "they're closer than Republicans".

But here the Naderite logic breaks down, and wanders into an area I simply can't follow. I consider myself a fairly rational fellow (your mileage may vary on this one), and I take a look at the US political system and conclude: "As currently formulated, third parties cannot be successful under the US political system.". If we had a system more akin to Canada's or Britain's, yes. (Although I'd suspect that if Nader were British, his party would frequently ally with the Conservatives to "punish" Labour for failing to do be as liberal as Nader....).

But we don't. We don't even have preference or instant runoff voting, much less proportional representation.

So I look at Nader voters and I simply don't understand. Nader isn't viable. He isn't even close. Neither are the Greens, the Reform, or the Constitutionalist party. (Although they might have luck at the local and state level, in some areas). But nationally? Not a chance in hell. So how is voting for him going to make third parties more viable? Maybe if they started locally, got some people elected on a state level...or better yet, got the state to institute runoff voting. Maybe then...

As for "shifting the Democrats to the left", have they ever seen a bell curve? Or are they merely confused as to their place on the bell curve denoting American political beliefs? Hint: It's where the curve gets tiny, far away from the place where the teeming masses are.

So I look at Nader voters and I wonder who they hell they think they're fooling. Nader's running on GOP money and support (a party whose platform is the antithesis of everything Nader claims he stands for) and the only possible effect of Nader's run is to spoil the Democrats (a party whose platform isn't the same as Nader's, but actually has some overlap). There will be no magical third party creation, there will be no leftward shift of the Democratic party, and there will be no outpourings of Nader love.

For the love of God, don't give up your ideals. Don't give up your issues. But take a second and think: What's better? Getting some of what you want? Or nothing at all? I can sympathize with the fact that the Democrats don't represent you. They don't represent me. But that's how life is. There are no perfect solutions, no perfect parties. There are always compromises and pragmatic choices to be made.

But Nader isn't a better choice, because he's not a choice at all. He's just a showy way to avoid making a choice. You might as well stay home, for all the good it will do.
:: Morat 11:49 AM :: ::

:: Wednesday, June 30, 2004 ::

The Habeas Corpus Litigation Gap

I'd just like to take a moment to point to Brad DeLong's latest on Volokh and the Prisoners of Gitmo:
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he is scared that we now suffer from a habeas corpus litigation gap.
The phrase "habeas corpus litigation gap" strikes me as hilarious.

More seriously, it's not just Eugene here. He's not an isolated incident of fear overriding common sense or good judgment. One could point to Dennis Miller or Snitchens, for one, and I'm sure each of us knows at least on person who came partially unhinged after 9/11.

And it's nothing new. Benjamin Franklin (I'm sure you've heard of him) warned of those like Volokh: "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security."

They're afraid, and George Bush is cynically fanning their fear, because he knows that the more scared they are, the more they're willing to give up.
:: Morat 10:04 AM :: ::

:: Tuesday, June 29, 2004 ::

Army Plans Involuntary Call-Up of Thousands

But we turned over power. I'm afraid I simply can't understand this.
The U.S. Army is planning an involuntary mobilization of thousands of reserve troops to maintain adequate force levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, defense officials said on Monday.

The move -- involving the seldom-tapped Individual Ready Reserve -- represents the latest evidence of the strain being placed on the U.S. military, particularly the Army, by operations in those two countries.

Roughly 5,600 soldiers from the ready reserve will be notified of possible deployment this year, including some soldiers who will be notified within a month, said an Army official speaking on condition of anonymity.
More seriously, I think Bush is hoping Iraq drops off the media radar now that there's a new flag flying (see: Afghanistan for more detail) but I don't think it's going to shake out that way.

Afghanistan dropped off the radar because we had a shiny new war to fight, not because we handed things over to a new government. We have 135,000 troops in Iraq, and they're not leaving anytime soon. Sham government or not, our soldiers are still primary targets to the insurgents. (Link via Atrios)
:: Morat 9:22 AM :: ::

Police say they won't picket convention

Kerry wasn't my first choice, and I still think there were stronger candidates, but if he keeps making moves like this I might change my mind on that.
Boston's main police union abandoned yesterday their threat to picket at the site of next month's Democratic National Convention, handing Senator John F. Kerry a major victory on the day he honored the union's picket line by not making a speech before a US Conference of Mayors meeting in Boston.

Kerry's cancellation of the long-scheduled address was widely praised by union leaders, and one Kerry campaign official said yesterday that the move was made in part with the expectation that the union would respond by promising not to picket outside the FleetCenter during the convention.
That was an excellent way to handle a potential nightmare. Sure, I'd imagine the mayors aren't happy, but I bet most of them see the necessity of it...and better unhappy mayors than picketing cops during the convention. The first is a single-day story, the latter....a week-long catastrophe during what should be a week of nothing but good news and positive impressions.
:: Morat 9:00 AM :: ::

:: Monday, June 28, 2004 ::

Small changes to Senate Procedure

Tom Burka lists a few minor changes that have been made to the Senate procedures, in light of the Dick Cheney's recent little outburst. Go check it out.
:: Morat 10:53 AM :: ::

Unsolicited Advice From the Far Left

What the hell is wrong with Ralph Nader? I can understand the "running for President" thing (ego does strange things to you) but what's up with this?
On Thursday, Moore was the recipient of an open letter from independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, who seems stung that his former friend and supporter has parted ways with him and gone to the Democrats. Miffed that he was not invited to the Washington premiere of 'Fahrenheit 9/11,' Nader, whose 6-foot-4 frame is a lean 190 pounds, said Moore's former Naderite friends are 'trim and take care of themselves. Girth they avoid. The more you let them see you, the less they will see of you.'
And he wants to be President?

Here's a big fat hint for ya, Ralph. Presidents -- even aspiring ones -- don't write open letters to people that consist of nothing more than "We're thin and cool, and you're fat and stupid".

Just one more reason Ralph Nader should do everyone a favor and go back to consumer advocacy.
:: Morat 10:43 AM :: ::

'Fahrenheit 9/11' Sets Documentary Record

On only eight hundred screens no less:
Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 9/11' took in a whopping $21.8 million in its first three days, becoming the first documentary ever to debut as Hollywood's top weekend film.
I'd imagine Rove wet his pants when he saw those numbers. Or at least started working on his resume.
:: Morat 9:42 AM :: ::

U.S. Hands Power to Iraqis Two Days Early

U.S. Hands Power to Iraqis Two Days Early:
The U.S.-led coalition transferred sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government two days early Monday in a surprise move that apparently caught insurgents off guard, averting a feared campaign of attacks to sabotage the historic step toward self-rule.

Legal documents transferring sovereignty were handed over by U.S. governor L. Paul Bremer to chief justice Midhat al-Mahmood in a small ceremony in the heavily guarded Green Zone. Bremer took charge in Iraq about a year ago.
I'm betting Karl Rove has all his eggs in this basket. So what's he going to do when the American public starts wondering why all our troops are still over there, and why they're still being attacked?

The interim government exists solely to fool Americans into believing we're done in Iraq. I somehow doubt the Iraqis are buying it.

And let's face it: The fact that we had to change the date and perform the handover secretly doesn't exactly inspire me with confidence about the situation in Iraq. We rushed the handover because we expected a wave of violence and coordinated attacks. Attacks and violence we couldn't prevent.

We're dancing to their tune....
:: Morat 9:32 AM :: ::

Detainees, Combatants Can Challenge Detentions

Looks like SCOTUS did the right thing:
The Supreme Court delivered a mixed verdict Monday on the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies, ruling that the U.S. government has the power to hold American citizens and foreign nationals without charges or trial, but that detainees can challenge their treatment in U.S. courts.

The administration had sought a more clear-cut endorsement of its policies than it got. The White House claimed broad authority to seize and hold potential terrorists or their protectors for as long as the president saw fit - and without interference from judges or lawyers.
The Supreme Court did the right thing...and I'm willing to bet that part of the reason they voted the way they did is because the Abu Ghraib mess showed exactly what the Bush Administration would do without interference from judges and lawyers.
:: Morat 9:28 AM :: ::

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