Thursday, November 11, 2004

Light thieving this weekend 

The family is going to Florida for a bit, so updates will be sparser through Sunday.

In the meantime, no matter the weather, you can hit the links. Or if you're an old skool Metallicat (UNO 11/14), "Hit the Lights".
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Can we set the bar of democracy a little higher? 

From a letter to Da Paper:

I am so tired of hearing people complain about being "disenfranchised." So someone had to wait in line a little longer, or make a return trip to their polling place -- so what?

Was anyone shooting at them? Did anyone lose their job? Was their house bombed? Was their family held hostage? Were their hands cut off? No? Then what in the world is your problem?

My child treats others better than Uday Hussein. Hurrah! I'm an excellent parent.
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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

YRHT celebrates six months! 

Thanks to all my fellow bivalves, and especially to Ricky, Michael and Jeffrey who inspired and supported this site from the beginning. I sure appreciate it. One day, like Ashcroft, I will complete my objective here and move on to other creative pursuits. Just not soon, I hope.

In the meantime, I'll keep commingling the harsh and the humorous.

(BTW, rough jokes and sarcastic remarks are always welcome in the comments, today being no exception. I get a kick out of that stuff.)
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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

"A fatal mix of misinformation and authority." 

The Gambit has an excellent article about the city's voting problems. I quote extensively here, but go read the whole thing if you can.

On the heels of Florida in 2000 and Sept. 18 in New Orleans, every part of the Nov. 2 election received more scrutiny than ever, mostly due to the efforts of the Louisiana Election Protection Coalition. The locally based group -- part of the National Election Protection Program, an organization devoted to safeguarding minority voting rights -- marshaled more than 300 volunteers to monitor local polls and amassed a volunteer team of attorneys.

Here is an account of the problem precinct Ratboy and I brought some media attention to. This is a very accurate description of events. If anything, it understates the problems.

The smooth election proceedings that would be reported statewide following Nov. 2 were nowhere in evidence at the basement polling place located in a home at 3915 Louisiana Avenue Pkwy. Callers had reported to New Orleans ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) that both voting machines at the site were not functioning at 7:42 a.m. and still not working at 8:25 a.m. At 8:40 a.m., a voter succeeded in casting a vote on the one working machine, but asked an Election Protection volunteer whether her vote would register. "I don't know how the machine was fixed if nobody came out to fix it," the volunteer says.

By 10:20 a.m., Arleen Robertson had been on the scene for nearly three hours. A longtime resident from across the street, Robertson had been recruited as an Election Protection volunteer after her own attempt to vote at 7 a.m. was thwarted by the non-working machines. Wearing a white-on-black T-shirt proclaiming "YOU have the right to VOTE" and the toll-free Election Protection hotline number, she stands on the sidewalk and takes down the names and phone numbers of those who leave without voting.

By 10:30 a.m., her list covers two-and-a-half legal-sized pages. Two technicians have come and gone, and both machines are now working. But Robertson worries that several people on her list won't come back.

At 10:53 a.m., a sniffling Loreal Hamilton emerges from inside the basement polling place and heads for her car. "I came at 7:15 and came again at 10:05, and I finally voted at 10:50," says Hamilton. On each of her previous trips, Hamilton says, she'd been told that the machines weren't working. Sometime before 10 a.m., commissioners apparently began dealing with the broken machines by handing out Federal Provisional Ballots -- not the proper procedure, according to Election Protection lawyers. On Hamilton's second trip, the machines were still broken and there weren't even any more provisional ballots.

At 10:50 a.m., Hamilton casts her ballot by voting machine without incident. "But this was a hassle," she says, her eyes rheumy with what she thinks is the flu.
More good stories:
At Engine House No. 21 on Paris Avenue, which houses the Seventh Ward's Precinct 26A, a long line stretches out the big double doors. In front, two sets of baggy pants stand behind the curtains in the voting booths. [Deborah] Chapman laughs out loud and points at two more young men walking into the booths.

"Look," she says. "They're holding up their pants with one hand and pushing the vote button with the other."
BETH BUTLER'S FAVORITE SCENE from Election Day 2004 will always be the polling place at Frederick Douglass High School in the lower Bywater. Butler arrived there in the midst of the deluge that swept the city around 4 p.m. and knocked out the school's power. Instead of being deterred, however, voters continued to file into Douglass, trudging through the rain with their umbrellas. Inside, they used cigarette lighters to find their names on precinct books and flashlights to find their way into the voting booths.
To Butler and Bradberry, the election was inspiring because it showed how determined New Orleanians were to cast their votes -- and to protect the votes of others. Butler smiles as she recounts how volunteers returned to the ACORN office at the end of a 14-hour day, still pumped, and asked when they could work another election. "What a great citizen participation we had," she says.

The two are less sanguine, though, when they talk about Tuesday's problems. Butler sees them as part of a systemic disenfranchisement of Louisiana voters, in which garbled rules and regulations act like the literacy tests of old to keep voters out. Bradberry believes that many election commissioners half understand the laws but are afraid of going to jail if they don't enforce them rigidly, creating a fatal mix of "misinformation and authority."
Training and adequate supplies of quality voting equipment are essential for New Orleans to get the representation it deserves. Politicians and election-day functionaries are failing their communities. Democrats must make this an issue , and ensure necessary reforms occur.

The Xavier students who stood in a 1200 person line for 6+ hours to vote-- and persisted EVEN AFTER all the state's races had been called, some casting their ballot after 1am at night-- all deserve gold medals for citizenship. I'd love to see the response if such a travesty occured in some select Old Metairie precincts. How long would rich white conservatives wait in line to vote? What kind of stink would they make? And, afterwards, would GOP Secretary of State Fox McKeithen have the gall to say:
"We haven't found one accusation [Election Protection] made to be true. [Voting] went as smoothly as anybody could hope for -- it was smooth as silk."
After my experience Nov 2nd, I almost admire how egregiously misinformed (or sinister?) that statement is.
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Blanco goes huntin' and fishin' a lot... for bidness. 

Girlfriend straight-up hustles:

SAN ANTONIO -- Part diplomat, car saleswoman and eternal optimist, Gov. Kathleen Blanco pressed the flesh with dozens of the nation's leading specialists in corporate expansions during a major international real estate conference Monday.
The Corenet Global Conference of corporate real estate leaders provided a forum for the governor to meet a highly concentrated gathering of site-selection consultants, experts who assist companies seeking new locations for manufacturing plants or other operations.

The governor worked the trenches of the expo floor during the day, got an extensive briefing on San Antonio's successful recruitment of a 2,000-employee Toyota truck plant, and hosted a dinner Monday for at least 40 site-selection consultants.

The visit is part of the governor's strategy to position herself as an energetic saleswoman for the state, as she promised she would be during her election campaign last year.

You're off to a helluva start, I must say. An ambitious thirty-three year old couldn't have shown more energy in the past year.

Blanco has spoken by phone or in person with more than 500 chief executives or corporate leaders both in and outside the state, her spokeswoman said.
With each group she met at the expo, Blanco emphasized a new and "aggressive" Louisiana job recruitment mentality and spoke about the state's No. 4 ranking in the nation for worker productivity. She also talked up General Motors' recent expansion announcement to build a new line of Hummer H3 models at the company's plant in Shreveport.

After meeting with Blanco, Coley said he didn't know about the GM plant and that her fresh perspective on Louisiana was news to him.

"She's impressive," Coley said. "She wanted closure" on business deals.

Madame Governor, the high-pressure closer?! Oh my. I seriously underestimated her on this front. A bouquet to Kathleen Blanco for being a strong saleswoman for Louisiana.
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Welcome Wiz kids! 

Jay Tea from Wizbang! extended an olive branch to me in the form of a wager as discussed below.

He does a bit less for Fallujah's elderly, sick and infirmed in his post In Praise of Civilian Casualties where he declares: "I don't give a damn how many civilians get killed in Fallujah, as long as we get the bastards." Further, he says:

If we show restraint and allow [insurgents] to escape, we will have shown that taking hostages is a successful tactic and endanger God knows how many more innocents down the line. We have to stand firm and show them that there is no escape, no shelter, no sanctuary.

I don't want there to be a single innocent death in Fallujah. And having faith in our military's equipment, training, and scruples, I know they will be minimized as much as possible. But there will be many heart-breaking stories and images from this battle. We mustn't let them cloud the real issue -- if we let it stop us now, there will be many more Fallujahs in the future, and eventually we'll have to disregard hostages or simply give up. And we can't afford to surrender in this war.

It's fascinating how much energy wingnuts waste on worrying about "messages" sent to a brainwashed enemy. Fanatics already have their "escape", their "shelter", their "sanctuary"... it's the sick ideology of martyrdom that's been inculcated into their minds. They believe paradise awaits those who fight the enemy of Allah, whether or not the enemy shows (relative) restraint or not.

Everyone should give a damn about the number of civilians killed, because from such tragic circumstances arises the next recruiting class of young insurgents. But, if you truly don't give a damn about civilians, then why risk a single American life trying to weed out hostages from terrorists? Given Jay Tea's supposition, his logic should dictate: kill'em all. I mean, if the precious "message" is jeopardized by anything less than complete destruction of the insurgents in Fallujah (civilians, hospitals, mosques... be damned) why shouldn't we do precisely what Wizbang commenter joey advocates:

Bring back carpet bombing. Start at all sides and work your way to the middle. [Let the] bulldozers clean up the mess.

Killing civilians to punish those who kill civilians... as morally clear as a pure azure sky. Of the 60 or so comments to Jay Tea's post (thus far), 95% supported his cluttered argument, and many seem to expect that after Fallujah "major combat operations" will (once again) conclude.

There's another bet I'd like to take.

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Monday, November 08, 2004

"If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord." 

-- Jerry Falwell (11/5/04)

Similarly, Colonel Gary Brandl of the United States Marine Corps stated:

"The enemy has a face. It is Satan's. He is in Fallujah, and
we are going to destroy him."

Pray the Rosary

See more examples of infinite justice crusading against "Satan's face" at Under the Same Sun. Many thanks to Empire Notes for citing this link. More at Body and Soul.
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Just a-Swingin' (Swingin', yeah) 

Last night, Lovely and I took advantage of the Sunday "Couples Special" over at Colette's. The tricky part was that our baby-sitter fell through, so we had to bring little Colicky. It was ok, though, because we put her carrier seat on the bar, and taught her how to bang her sippy cup to get complimentary juice refills. My wife diligently scouted for men who could do a passable Jude Law imitation while I chatted up a mysterious gal who looked great in tall leather boots. After talking with boot girl for a long time, we agreed to take our conversation to the Renaissance suite... but I insisted on knowing her real name first.

She divulged: "My name is Lovely"
My response was electric. I said, "Oh, my God! I can't speak with you anymore."

So I rounded up my irritated wife and juice-besotted infant and left. I suppose there's ultimately limits to everyone's deviancy, and fantasy.


You Naughty Girl
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Good sports 

I accepted a wager from J Tea over at Wizbang! (there's a link under "nutria"). Basically, it's designed to give Bush-critics a chance to bet on America's success over the next four years. That's something I'm eager to do-- truly hope for the best while expecting the worst. So if all hell doesn't break loose next year, then I'll get some free space over there to rant and stir things up. Details here.

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