The 80 lb stench from Ohio

My old fraternity brother and Ohio-resident Rob Calhoun over at Splefty.com has chimed in with his own frustration at Ohio’s (Republican) Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell‘s decision to require Ohio Boards of Election to reject voter registration forms that aren’t printed on 80 lb card stock:

The 80 lb card stock requirement is from the days when the cards themselves were the archival record. Given how registration is processed today, it is hard to view Mr. Blackwell’s sudden enforcement of this rule in a charitable light. I’m also perturbed by the fact that our Board of Election’s voter registration web page no longer seems to have a .pdf file of the voter registration form available; I’m really pretty sure that’s where I downloaded the pdf I have.

It’s difficult not to view this as a back-handed effort to roll back some of the gains that Democrats have made in registering new voters in Ohio this year as described in this New York Times story.

Looking at the Wayback machine, it looks like they provided a PDF of their voter registration form from the page’s first capture in 2001 until sometime after August of last year — it had been unlinked by December, but apparently the PDF was still available when the Wayback last indexed the page in February of this year (it has since been removed from the main site).

Butler County, OH, on the other hand, still has their Online Voter Registration Form on the Web with the instructions:

In order to use this form as a registration for the purpose of voting you MUST:

  1. click “next” and print the form
  2. sign the form in the appropriate area
  3. mail it to the Butler County Board of Elections

Their Web form creates a nice little registration page for you to print out and mail in, with the instructions Please adjust the margins to .25 inches under Page Setup to avoid misprinting the form below. No mention of card stock. I find it hard to imagine a non-underhanded reason for newly enforcing this rule, except perhaps a suddden onset of dimentia on the part of Blackwell — Rob’s right, this stinks to high heaven.

UPDATE: Blackwell has since “clarified” his position, and says he’ll accept all voter registrations submitted by the deadline. Good for him — I wish I could believe this was just a simple misunderstanding though.

The 80 lb stench from Ohio Read More »

Alice Cooper: Rock is no place for a street fighting man

Alice Cooper is ranting about how Kerry-supporting rock stars mix their rock-and-roll with politics:

“To me, that’s treason,” Cooper told the Canadian Press. “I call it treason against rock ‘n’ roll because rock is the antithesis of politics. Rock should never be in bed with politics.”

“When I was a kid and my parents started talking about politics, I’d run to my room and put on the Rolling Stones as loud as I could. So when I see all these rock stars up there talking politics, it makes me sick.”

I can only assume when he played the Stones he didn’t listen to the lyrics

(props to The Volokh Conspiracy for the link)

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A uniter, not a divider

From the NYTimes, on how the White House scuttled a deal that was being reached between Democrats and Republicans to keep the marriage-penalty, child tax-credit and expanded bottom-10% tax brackets from expiring at the end of the year:

Claire Buchan, a White House spokeswoman, said the administration was still trying to negotiate. But Republican Congressional officials said the administration did not want a deal that Democratic lawmakers might support, giving them a tax-cutting credential, too.

Nice to know where we all stand in their priorities…

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Our oh-so-on-top-of-things president

What does it say about our president that, the day before the Senate votes on an historic amendment to the US Constitution that, after being pushed through as a vital campaign wedge issue without allowing even debate in committee, the president’s email system doesn’t even list the issue as an acceptable subject for discussion in his menu of valid email subjects for dissenting views?

I submitted my letter under “Hate Crimes.” That seems the most appropriate given the nature of the bill.

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Taking a stand against equality in our name

Dear President Bush, Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer, and Representative Eshoo:

We are a young nation, full of idealism and zeal and well-deserved pride. As is always true of the young, we have made many mistakes in our brief 228 years. In the end we must all reflect on the moments we were at our worst with the clarity of hindsight, and like a growing boy we pray we will be judged by future generations not by our missteps, but by how much we learned from them.

Our Constitution is our record of that growth. The nation our fathers brought forth in 1787 was a remarkable experiment, conceived in the radical notion that all men are created equal. But that nation still denied women and Negroes the vote, enshrined slavery as an inalienable right, and accepted a nation that, while lacking an aristocracy, still promoted a system strongly divided by class. If the morality of such institutions seems clear and obvious today, it is only because previous generations struggled to clear the fog of ignorance and prejudice that passed for common wisdom in their own time. To read the amendments to our Constitution is to read the record of how we struggle to face our human weaknesses and, on seeing them for what they are, how we then have the courage to put things right.

You, our representatives, are now debating whether by banning gay marriage our generation should take a stand to reverse this slow and steady march towards tolerance, respect, and equal protection under the law for all men and women. A decision to change course after so many years should not be made lightly, nor for political gain. Regardless of the outcome of individual votes, our future children and grandchildren will study this moment in school just as today’s children study our progress from the dark days of slavery to emancipation, integration of the Army and the Civil Rights Act. I trust you will give them every reason to be proud.


Dr. Bradley Rhodes
275 Hawthorne Ave. #106
Palo Alto, CA 94301

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I was at the Marin County Fair yesterday, and chatted with the woman at the John Kerry campaign booth for a while. As I donated a dollar and donned a button I noticed her life-sized Howard Dean cardboard cut-out in the back, and with pride she talked about how she’d never been political before in her life till nine months ago she quit her job and started working for the Dean campaign. In my case, I both voted for Dean in the primary and made my first campaign contribution ever to him — both after he’d already dropped out of the race. Unlike what you always hear on the news it wasn’t his anti-war rhetoric; as anyone who’s read here for a while knows I actually supported the idea of war with Iraq (though not the way it was implemented). It was his plain-talk pragmatism and his willingness to stand up for the American people, but most of all it was his message that we the American people can and should also stand up next to him and help carry our own burdens. This woman was a tribute to that message.

As I wore my Kerry button yesterday I mused about what I felt the campaign was missing. Kerry is competent and experienced, something I miss the most in the current administration, but doesn’t connect with me the way Edwards or Dean does. I still wore the button with pride, and I’ve even given a pretty sizable donation to the Kerry campaign already, but at least in part it was because Kerry isn’t Bush.

As of this morning, I’m feeling a lot better about the Democratic team. The Kerry/Edwards ticket fills in the message and human touch Kerry alone lacks, as well as the practical populism I’ve been missing. As for the message that we should stand up on our own, we don’t need that message to come from our candidates directly (that’s the whole point, no?). Dean continues to empower Americans through his new Democracy For America, large organizations like MoveOn.org and smaller communities like OB4 give another focal point, and here in California Schwarzenegger has been doing a good job breathing life back into the idea that government is of, by and for the people.

I’ll be wearing my new Kerry/Edwards button with pride. More importantly, I’m once again inspired to hold their feet to the fire when it comes to the issues important to me.

Yes! Read More »

The Bush Way…

Bush keeps pulling the same old trick — accuse your opponent of your own dirty secrets, then keep beating the drum till everyone’s confused. In the South Carolina primary he slammed John McCain with a stream of low-blow negative attack ads, then ran a barrage accusing McCain of being the attacker. He painted Gore as a liar and exaggerator, even though Gore’s always been known as a stiff-but-honest statesman and as we’ve all seen Bush is more dishonest than Tricky Dick and Slick Willie put together. Somehow he even managed to accuse Vietnam vet and war hero John Kerry of having a tarnished war record — pretty gutsy move for a draft-dodger who went AWOL.

Now he’s got it down to such an art that he can do both at the same time. His latest ad (which I’ve cached in both original and toned-down versions) starts with the tired whine that “Kerry’s Democratic Party” compares Bush to Hitler — as usual leaving out the fact that the ad in question was one of over a thousand submissions to MoveOn.org’s Bush In 30 Seconds contest, and that MoveOn disavowed and removed the ad from their site as soon as it was noticed. Then under the guise of showing the “wild-eyed” “pessimism and rage” of his opponents he fast-cuts back and forth between shots of Hitler and shots of Gore, Dean, Edwards, Kerry and Michael Moore, all shouting in the same manner. It gets the Hitler comparison across great at a gut level, all the while staying subtle enough that it doesn’t quite blow the cover story of “look how mean they’re being!” I keep wavering between admiration for the psychological artistry and absolute disgust at the underhanded indecency of it all.

Not being the kind of guy who knows when he’s gone too far, if Bush succeeds here I’m sure the sky’s the limit. Who wants to bet before November we see ads accusing Kerry of lying about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction?

Update: the video is now headlining GeorgeWBush.com.

Another update: looking at the video again, I’m also struck by how well the ad plays with size to maximize it’s impact. Watch how it starts with a tiny frame (about 55% total) that grows to near full by the end shot of Kerry. Then they make sure to zoom and crop all the shots of Democrats so they’re more in-your-face and don’t quite fit in frame — by the time you get to Michael Moore’s Oscar acceptance speech he’s been zoomed about 500%. Compare the overall feel to the original snippit.

Yet another update:The NYT notes that the original version of the ad (without the initial disclaimer, added after the Kerry camp complained) is still archived as a part of the Living Room Candidate online museum of campaign ads. I’ve archived both versions, above.

The Bush Way… Read More »

9/11 Commissioner Wanted For Embezzlement!

DocBug Exclusive — Documents obtained by DocBug indicate that former Navy secretary John Lehman, a Republican member of the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks, is wanted in Idaho for embezzlement and flight to avoid prosecution. Lehman has apparently been hiding in New York City for years, venturing into public only to purchase necessities, sit on the 9/11 Commission, and go on Meet The Press to mistakenly confuse an Iraqi Officer named Lt. Col. Hikmat Shakir Ahmad for an al-Qaeda member named Ahmad Hikmat Shakir Azzawi. If anyone has information about Lehman’s current whereabouts, please contact the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office.

UPDATE: New data suggests that Idaho police are seeking John Lehman Crupper, last spotted Salt Lake City in 1996, and not former Navy secretary John Lehman. However, we should point out it’s still possible that the former Navy secretary is a criminal, even if he isn’t the man Idaho police are looking for. This possibility needs to be run to ground — the most intriguing part is not whether or not he is the guy who committed embezzlement in Idaho, but whether he’s some other sort of bad guy, like maybe a bank robber or a pedophile. As of now, we just don’t know.

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The bias of science

Scientific American has written an editorial severely critical of the Bush administration’s “disdain [for] research that inconveniences it,” citing misrepresentation of findings, suppression of studies, deletion of data from government web pages, and playing gatekeeper on future studies by making it harder for scientists from “hostile nations” to publish in the US and by trying to give industry scientists more control over the process for determining EPA research. It brings together several criticisms from the past three years that amount to a disturbing step backwards in how our administration gets its facts.

I got word of the editorial from Declan McCullagh’s Politech list, where Declan introduced the piece with this rather odd disclaimer:

It is not unthinkable that scientists have political biases. In fact, it would be remarkable if many were not lifelong Democrats who may be tempted to be a bit more critical of a Republican’s science policies than they would, say, a Bill Clinton’s. Moreover, many scientists rely on government funding of domestic programs, which arguably increases faster under Democratic regimes.

That said, this editorial is pretty disturbing and ties enough threads together to be pretty convincing.

Is our nation so polarized now that anything praising or critical of our president is first assumed to be partisan rather than actually making a valid point? Like the rest of the country, scientists span the whole spectrum of personal political, cultural and religious biases. The common bias in our profession is the one at the heart of science itself: that the truth is worth knowing, even if it isn’t the truth we wish were so, and that society is better off knowing the truth and then having open and reasoned debate than basing our actions on blind dogma, unexamined assumptions and gut feel.

In other news, the US is losing its lead in scientific excellence.

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People still believe in Iraq/al Qaeda links, WMD, and Santa

Before the war I honestly thought Iraq had WMD, but eventually I had to face facts. My hunch that if Saddam had nothing to hide he’d have been more forthcoming was wrong. My hunch that Bush wasn’t so blindingly stupid as to bluff both the UN and Congress without solid evidence was also wrong. I’ve also got some nasty suspicions about why Santa Clause always looked like Dad when I snuck down Christmas Eve to spy.

Anyway, it looks like lots of Americans are still in denial. The Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland and Knowledge Networks have just released their latest report on American beliefs about pre-war Iraq — the results haven’t changed much since they first started running their surveys before the war started. (PIPA’s press release and questionnaire are also available, as is my summary of their October report.)

The quick summary:

  • 57% still think that before the war Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, including 20% who believe that Iraq was directly involved in the September 11 attacks.
  • 45% believe that evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda has been found.
  • 60% believe that just before the war Iraq either had weapons of mass destruction (38%) or a major program for developing them (22%).

Where are these people getting these ideas? Oh wait, here it is:

  • 56% percent said it was their impression that the Bush administration is claiming the US has found clear evidence that Saddam Hussein was working closely with al Qaeda, and 38% perceived the administration saying the US has found clear evidence that just before the war, Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

It’s good to see they got at least one question right.

People still believe in Iraq/al Qaeda links, WMD, and Santa Read More »