Saturday, November 06, 2004

In the Fullness of Time 

Hallelujah! Now it's inevitable that Bush's educational policies will combine with conservative evangelical politics to form something like an Every Left Child Left Behind Act. This is where teaching to the test meets good old-fashioned "prepare for the rapture" fatalism. Schoolchildren would be required to pledge their allegiance to God and America's fearless Leader. Instructors would carefully "teach the controversy" of macro-evolution, but under ELCLB, the consequences of believing in scientific consensus would also be reviewed.

Students would learn that if they don't share the Almighty's goals, well, He may not reach across the heavens to save them from that burnin' lake of fire. And if a young soul chooses science over the wisdom of Leviticus, they must know their destiny is to go down, down, down... where the man in black is waiting.

---
Careful: some liberal malcontents wish to resist ELCLB and other fine conservative policies. Beware their fiery, divisive calls to action-- like this one:

Chin up.
We're more American than those motherf*ckers.
We're more responsible than those motherf*ckers.
We're more compassionate than those motherf*ckers.
Hell, our atheists are more Christian than their Bible-thumpin' motherf*ckers.
There's an election in two years.
There's nothing we can't do.

Chin up.
Because it's on, motherfuckers.
It is on.


(H/T Steve Bates)
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Friday, November 05, 2004

Mandate 

I can't believe I'm even addressing this stupid argument, but it persists, so I'll cite Rahul Mahajan's rather succinct distillation of the matter:

All this talk about "did Bush get a mandate" is nonsense. Mandates are not given, they are taken. Bush has the power, therefore he gets to decide if he has a mandate.

I'd prefer no comments about this issue since I think it's moo(t). There's a forum here if you really want to get into it (via Jesus' General).
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Housekeeping 

First the good news: Torin Sanders prevailed over Eliot Willard in a tight 51-49% School Board (District 7) runoff. All of the "alphabet soup" groups (like ACORN) who endorsed Willard really need to re-evaluate why they sometimes put their organizational heft behind execrable candidates. This is one of the most profoundly challenged districts in the state, and desperately needs innovative, responsive and solution-oriented representation. Pastor Sanders (a social worker like Lovely) will be a HUGE improvement. The Times-Picayune reports on the clean sweep of the anti-Amato cabal.

Continuing in an erase-the-board mood, voters delivered defeats to an Orleans Parish School Board incumbent and a former board member looking to revive his political career, replacing them with newcomers who promised reform and reconciliation.


Additionally, the $260 million bond measure was a BIG win for Mayor Ray Nagin. Unlike his predecessor, I believe Nagin will actually use these monies for infrastructure improvements rather than patching up city budget shortfalls. From the T-P:

Handing Mayor Ray Nagin the most significant victory of his 2.5-year tenure, New Orleans voters overwhelmingly approved a $260 million bond issue Tuesday, clearing the way for the biggest City Hall bricks-and-mortar program in history.
...
The bulk of the money in the bond program, about $138 million, is earmarked for street repairs, including portions of more than two dozen major thoroughfares. The remainder will be used for playgrounds, parks, libraries, cemeteries and government buildings.


This apparently gets the goat of frequent commenter Bacon, who states:
I'm not too upset about Kerry losing. I'm more bummed about that stupid tax hike passing. I already can't afford to buy a house in New Orleans and soon I won't be able to rent either.
Dude, after they update the property appraisals (which is only fair) the prohibitive tax you dread will add an extra $3 to the property tax bill on a 100k house-- beginnning four years from now! Or, if that's still too much to endure, you can buy a $75k fixer-upper and enjoy the homestead exemption for two years until you sell the house at a tax free profit. I fear you're tripping over pennies when dollars are at stake.

Finally, my presidential election prediction was partially based on a GOP insider who said right before election day that FL was still up in the air. That gave me optimism, along with presumed minority-voter rage over 2000, plus a clean sweep of Sunshine State newspaper endorsements for Kerry.

And I also thought a job was more important to Ohioans than the fear of gay buttsex. Apparently not.
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Thursday, November 04, 2004

Recognize this? 

Thanks to the aggregator at Living in New Orleans for spreading the YRHT gospel. Now more true believers can dance with snakes worry-free.

You can tickle Jeffrey and Shannon's gonads over there as well.
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Voters outperforming the candidate 

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Louisiana officially has its first Republican U.S. senator in modern times.

This morning, Congressman Chris John conceded the election, hours after it became obvious he had lost, and congratulated U.S. Rep. David Vitter on his promotion to the upper chamber.

That's classy.

The final Louisiana vote was late coming. It was almost 3 a.m. before the tally included the last eight precincts, including one at Xavier University, where voting was still going on after one o'clock this morning. Some students waited in line seven hours to vote.

Exit polling confirmed that seven in ten whites were voting for Vitter, demonstrating that his hard-edged, liberal-bashing campaign corralled the state's conservative whites, leaving Democrats John and state treasurer John Kennedy scrambling for black votes.

John finished with 29 percent of the vote; Kennedy had 15 percent.
I think the students at Xavier demonstrated more commitment to the Democratic party's success in Louisiana than did Chris John in his campaign. What a weak, ineffective effort.
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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Don't mean to interrupt... 

There's the predictable tearing of garments and gnashing of teeth on the Left over the election results, and I don't wish to intrude on whatever coping therapies one uses during those dark "midnights of the soul".

However, at some later time I think the following observation will be useful once energy and inspiration start replacing exhaustion and anger. (This is probably from one of Brian Tracy's books-- not sure which, but they're all the same):
People tend to greatly overestimate what they can accomplish in one year, but greatly underestimate what they can accomplish in five.
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Great News! 

My seven month old daughter, Colicky, said her first words today:

"Daddy, this sucks mammoth ass."
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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

"The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die." 

--Ted Kennedy 1980
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Election day encounters 

Ratboy and I were first at the precinct (on LA Pkwy) mentioned below, perhaps the most problematic one in the city. Machines were not working for the first three hours of voting (6am-9am). No repair techs came, and no provisional or paper ballots were distributed to the frustrated voters. Scores of people came to vote, waited, and left. Some were elderly folks who had only one ride that day. This precinct, like the several others we visited which had significant problems, were all overwhelmingly African-American neighborhoods (90%+).

So Ratboy and I called every local TV network plus the Times-Picayune and got some media on the scene (ABC 26, T-P, and WWL came in that order). We distributed complaint forms, and got an election protection attorney out there. I have to give a lot of credit to the folks at Election Protection. They were well staffed, highly responsive (with help from us) and had a very impressive command center in the Central Business District. I have nothing but praise for their efforts in New Orleans. Their national 866 numbers were jammed when I called, though.

Here's what the AP reported:

[Atty Bill Quigley] says that at one precinct in New Orleans, all three voting machines were broken and voters were being turned away and told to come back later. Almost three hours after the polls opened, he said, no one had cast a ballot at that precinct. [Editor: this was Precinct 20, Ward 14 at 3915 Louisiana Parkway]

WWL-TV reports that viewers had called in reports of problems at more than 20 precincts in and around New Orleans. Problems range from broken machines to a lack of provisional ballots for people whose registrations are in question.

The good news was that I didn't see any voter suppression shenanigans, or overt misrepresentations by campaign "volunteers". The problems we saw in the morning were no doubt compounded by heavy afternooon thundershowers and tornado warnings. While surveying the disenfranchisement first hand, I recalled yesterday's article from TomPaine:

Just as poor people get the crap schools and crap hospitals, they get the crap voting machines.

It's bad for Hispanics; but for African Americans, it's a ballot-box holocaust. An embarrassing little fact of American democracy is that, typically, two million votes are spoiled in national elections, registering no vote or invalidated. Based on studies by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and the Harvard Law School Civil Rights project, about 54 percent of those ballots are cast by African Americans. One million black votes vanished-- phffft!


Bloody outrageous.
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Bad news from the field 

Ratboy and I are travelling the city going to problem areas-- and there are many. Broken machines in several precincts have resulted in scores of voters-- being turned away. We got the local news media on a machine on LA parkway which was broken since 6am and (though calls were made) no one came to the predominantly black area to fix it. THis is not an isolated case. We were personally responsible for getting Channel 26 and Channel 9 and the Times Picayune to report on the incident. Also, we've been passing out complaint forms for electionprotection.org. People at the national office say New Orleans is leading the nation right now in complaints.

Really disheartening, I must say. Back to work. (I tried audio-blogging this from the field, but it apparently didn't work.)
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There's an election today 

So vote.

I'll be audio-blogging from the streets if I find something of interest.
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Monday, November 01, 2004

"Closing time: Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." 

"Everyone smells blood in the water or a weakness when they go up against John Kerry. What people do not get is that nobody answers the later rounds better than John Kerry. All of a sudden he sees that people are underestimating and taking him for granted and he will spring on you. He's going to be so unrelenting that you're not going to know what hit you." [--Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. son of the former House speaker.]
...
"When John was flat on his back and reporters were calling me from Iowa and New Hampshire to throw the last handful of dust on his grave, I said, `Wait a minute, I was five points up in September and I ended up losing by eight points,' " the former governor [William Weld] recalled in an interview. "This is a guy who can take a punch and who can overcome being behind, and those are important qualities." (NYT)

Tomorrow I predict Kerry sweeps FLOHPA, and wins the college (290+) and the pop vote (49%+). The president's concession speech will be must-see-tv, and I actually think he'll do pretty well, despite the roiling psychodrama going on behind his eyes.

I'm less sanguine about Vitty staying under fitty here in LA, but hope springs eternal. Maybe our state's runoff will decide the Senate, and intensify this lovely political climate all of America has endured since... since....

---
*
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Updated prediction coming this afternoon 

Earlier one was made here. I'll get more specific later today (and amend my omelette offer). Information recently received from some high-level insiders will be included too.

Don't worry-- it's a beautiful world we live in. Give your neighbor a smile.
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Another quick lash against my favorite whipping post 

From John Steele Gordon in 9/28/04 WSJ:

In 1968, LBJ made a huge budget deficit disappear by simply making Social Security, with its large surplus being paid into the Social Security Trust Fund, an on-budget item.
And thus the great Ponzi scheme began in earnest. More here about the ramifications of dishonestly funding a war.
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Not dyspeptic enough? Try this morsel of dread. 

Here's an area of concern in an extremely close, world-historic election:

"It turns out that being listed first earns a candidate about 3 percent more votes on average," said Jon A. Krosnick, a political scientist at Stanford University who has studied what he calls "the primacy effect" in ballot position.
...
Three percent?!? Is this how the next President, Supreme Court, and Fed Chairman will be decided-- from voter laziness?!? Do some people really take the trouble of going to the polls just to blindly choose whoever is at the top of the ballot? Unbelievable. Well, where might this idiotic tendency have an effect?
Florida, a vital battleground, will put President Bush's name first this year, as it did in 2000, because Florida law awards first place to the governor's party. Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother, is a fellow Republican.
...
Nationally, the emerging pattern of advantage among swing states -- states that polls indicate could go either way in November -- favors Bush, whose name will appear ahead of Kerry's in eight such states with a total of 81 electoral votes: Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, Maine, Michigan, West Virginia, Minnesota and Colorado.

Kerry's name will come before Bush's in four swing states with 53 electoral votes combined: Missouri, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

In four swing states accounting for 43 electoral votes -- Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa and Ohio -- the first ballot position will vary from county to county.

Swell.
---
I hadn't even touched on crappy voting machines in urban minority precincts, which disenfranchise more voters than even the overt suppression efforts courtesy of the Party of Lincoln.

"And I feel so much depends on the weather..."
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