Friday, November 19, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Before the Law Stands a Doorkeeper.

U.S. Rep. Franz J. Kafka (R-Pit of Despair) I'm glad to live in a country where there are laws that are so important I'm not even allowed to know what they are: former Idaho Republican Representative Helen Chenoweth tried to get on a plane recently, only to be told that she had to submit to "advanced screeing procedures." Chenoweth asked to see the legal authorization for such procedures, and was told no; she got back in her car and drove to her destination. But why wasn't Chenoweth simply shown the language authorizing the procedure? "Because we don't have to," says TSA Security Director Julian Gonzales. "That is called 'sensitive security information.' She's not allowed to see it, nor is anyone else."

My Vote Cancels Out Yours...But 130,000 "Ghost Votes" Cancel the Fuck Out of Mine Whoah, big surprise! It looks like electronic voting machines in heavily Democratic counties in Florida improperly awarded George W. Bush about 130,000 votes in this election. In Broward County alone, which went big time for Gore in 2000 and where exit polls showed John Kerry with a big lead, Bush got 72,000 votes he shouldn't have. Now, Bush won Florida by 310,000 votes, so this obviously won't change the outcome of the election. But here's the interesting thing: If the 130,000 votes were "ghost votes," which means votes that were never cast by actual people but were added to Bush's total, Bush's margin in Florida drops to 180,000. If they were Kerry votes that were switched, though, Bush's margin drops to 51,000. Either way, it gives me a renewed sense of confidence about the infallibility of electronic voting.

The Great American Idiot Ah, undecided voters. Just how stupid are they? Pretty stupid, according to this excellent memoir of the campaign trail by Christopher Hayes. While working in Wisconsin, Hayes encountered undecided voters who favored Bush because their chief concern was the environment; a voter who voted for Bush because he thought Cheney, an oilman, would help end the country's dependence on foreign oil; a voter who switched, inexplicably from Dean to Bush; and a woman who had actually canvassed for John Kerry but then switched to Bush because she FAVORED stem cell research. But it's not just that they're dumb: They don't even understand what politics is about. "The majority of undecided voters I spoke to couldn't name a single issue that was important to them," Hayes writes. "Often, once I would engage undecided voters, they would list concerns, such as the rising cost of health care; but when I would tell them that Kerry had a plan to lower health-care premiums, they would respond in disbelief--not in disbelief that he had a plan, but that the cost of health care was a political issue." Eye-opening.

A Bizarre, Growing Respect for Linda Ronstadt Linda Ronstadt's awesome! First she gets banned from a Vegas casino for giving props to Michael Moore, and now she's railing about how Bush is like Hitler! "It's like Germany, before Hitler took over. The economy was bad and people felt kicked around. They looked for a scapegoat. Now we've got a new bunch of Hitlers," she says. Now, I don't actually agree, but when Linda Ronstadt is more politically outraged than most young, "edgy" artists, how punk rock is that?

Your Next Secretary of State: A Liar, or Simply Incompetent? Media Matters does a good job outlining some of Condoleeza Rice's numerous falsehoods, things that in a perfect world would disqualify her from being the chief diplomat of the United States, but which, perversely, seem to actually work in her favor these days.

-Consider Arms