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July 21, 2004
Moving On....

It's not just Colorado or Florida. All states need to worry about voting fraud, from voter lists on down through the entire process. Just because Florida got most of the press in 2000 doesn't mean we should ignore other states with voting/vote recount problems.

This one requires an annoying registration (registrations are annoying when they demand your mailing address) but is about the Bush Administration deciding not to push for a recount in Wisconsin.

Gov. George W. Bush's campaign announced Wednesday he won't seek a recount of the presidential vote in Wisconsin, which Democrat Al Gore carried by less than 6,000 of the 2.6 million votes cast. "The race was indeed close, but Governor Bush will do his part to help bring this election to a conclusion," Bush campaign Chairman Don Evans said in a prepared statement.

Bob Hopkins, a Bush campaign aide, said in an interview, "It's time to move on, get the legal wrangling over with and let the votes speak for themselves."

Bush campaign officials and Republicans in Wisconsin had complained that allegations of voter fraud and irregularities at Milwaukee polling places could have affected the outcome. Those claims included allegations that scores of Marquette University students had voted more than once and that Gore backers bribed homeless men with cigarettes to vote for Gore.

But after an intensive investigation into those claims, Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann said Wednesday prosecutors had been unable to confirm a single instance of multiple voting.

With no leads identifying which students supposedly voted multiple times, investigators have been poring over voter registration cards of students from hometowns outside the Milwaukee area as a starting point but have not found any who voted more than once, McCann said.

And then:

Gov. Tommy G. Thompson on Wednesday backed requiring voters to show a photo ID before they cast ballots, even voters who are already registered, as a method to prevent fraud. He joined several key Republican lawmakers in advocating the change, which has been strongly opposed by Democrats as too restrictive and a tactic aimed at restricting minority voter turnout.

"You show a photo ID for just about anything else you do in our society," Thompson said. "Why not show a photo ID for elections?"

To be honest, I couldn't figure out any reason why not to ask for ID.

Thompson told reporters in Madison that he had hoped Bush would agree to a recount in Wisconsin and said he didn't think it would be hard for Republicans to find enough votes to overturn Gore's victory here. Gore's 5,707 vote margin was about 0.2 percentage points.

That's pretty blatant.

This one doesn't require any registration and addresses the ID question again.

This was the first election for the state's controversial new Voter ID law, as well as the first presidential election for the state's Motor Voter Law, which allows Virginia voters to register to vote at branches of the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

"There are a lot of bugs in [the Voter ID] law," said a State Board of Elections employee who asked not to be named, "and there's a lot of confusion about the law that's causing problems across the state."

Passed earlier this year by the General Assembly, the Voter ID law requires Virginians to show identification at the polls. The law's supporters say it will stem election fraud, but Democratic legislators bitterly opposed the law, saying it will create barriers to voting, and would intimidate black voters who recall the Jim Crow days of poll taxes and literacy tests.

However, a provision of the law states that if a citizen doesn't have identification, they are supposed to be allowed to sign an affidavit affirming their identity, and then they can vote.

I suppose that's possible. The fears about showing IDs, I mean, but it seems to me that these people must be in the habit of showing their ID when they write a check at the grocery store and if they use a debit card to buy gas at the gas station, and for a hundred other things. I just find myself wondering if the fear exists. (It's not impossible that the mere fact that this is a government-related activity would frighten people.

Another thing that occurs to me is that we need better training for the people who staff the polls, but that's a different issue, I guess.

Moving on....

Bush is still obsessing over whether or not other people can get married, trying (in my opinion) desperately to make a campaign issue out of it so people will stop asking him about Iraq and the economy.

During a swing through Michigan, Bush promised to protect homeland values from the latest big threats: gays and Hollywood entertainers who support Democrats.

Maybe Marquette, Mich., is "God's country," as Detroit Lions Coach Steve Mariucci announced when he introduced George W. Bush there last week. Presumably San Francisco, where Mariucci previously coached the 49ers, is the devil's own playground – given that city's enthusiasm for gay marriage, which Bush blasts obsessively.

Of course, if Michigan is God's country, that reflects poorly on Dubya: He lost the state in 2000 to Al Gore.

Hee. Hee.

The article goes on to tell how Dennis Miller continued the new Republican tactic of (not) subtly implying that Kerry and Edwards are gay.

I think I have an idea for a new campaign slogan . . . 'Hey, Get a Room,'"

To be fair, I should point out that I've never found Miller funny.

Moving on....

Afghans Try Americans on Torture Charges

Three Americans accused of torturing Afghans in a private jail during a freelance counterterror mission went on trial Wednesday, with their ringleader denying any wrongdoing and claiming U.S. government support. Jonathan K. Idema, Brett Bennett and Edward Caraballo were arrested when Afghan security forces raided their makeshift jail in a house in Kabul on July 5. American and Afghan authorities say they were vigilantes posing as U.S. special forces and had no official backing.
I am, at best, dubious. It's no use acting like random USofA vigilantes can just buy a plane ticket and stroll into Afghanistan, because it doesn't work that way.
Appearing before a three-judge panel in a national security court, the trio listened quietly to the charges - including hostage-taking and torture, and as three of their ex-detainees described how they were beaten, doused with boiling water and deprived of food.

The Americans didn't testify. But Idema said afterward that the abuse allegations were invented. He also said he was in regular phone and e-mail contact with Pentagon officials "at the highest level."

Idema named a Pentagon official who allegedly asked the group to go "under contract" - an offer they refused.
"The American authorities absolutely condoned what we did, they absolutely supported what we did," he told reporters crowding round the dock.

The trial comes at an awkward time for American officials trying to contain a widening scandal over abuse in official U.S. military prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I smell spooks, don't you? This has CIA written all over it.

CBS covers the story as U.S. 'Vigilantes' On Trial with no mention of the Afghan connection until you click on the story. When I was skimming headlines this morning, the story didn't appear on ABC's front page, CNN's home page, the NYTimes front page, or the Washington Post front page. I guess they've decided the prisoner abuse scandal is passé

Moving on....

I probably don't have to tell you guys that Nader's reasoning for accepting tens of thousands of GOP signatures to get his name on Michigan's ballot is badly flawed.

Yes, he's right in saying that everyone is a "spoiler" for everyone else, and that there's no reason this country has to restrict itself to a two-party system, and that he's entitled to run. All of that is quite true.

On the other hand, there are moral issues and if I were Ralph Nader, I don't think I could live with myself if, after realizing that not enough people wanted to vote for me to get me on the ballot, I decided to accept signatures from people I'd vilified all my life. And I can't imagine wanting on a ballot so desperately that I'd gratefully accept signatures from people who wouldn't vote for me if I were running unopposed. My conscience wouldn't let me.

Apparently Ralph's moral sense isn't telling him any of these things.

Moving on....

Stephen Hawking

Famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking said Wednesday that black holes, the mysterious massive vortexes formed from collapsed stars, do not destroy everything they consume but instead eventually fire out matter and energy "in a mangled form."

Hawking's radical new thinking, presented in a paper to the 17th International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation in Dublin, capped his three-decade struggle to explain an elemental paradox in scientific thinking: How can black holes destroy all traces of consumed matter and energy, as Hawking long believed, when subatomic theory says such elements must survive in some form?

Hawking's answer is that the black holes hold their contents for eons but themselves eventually deteriorate and die. As the black hole disintegrates, they send their transformed contents back out into the infinite universal horizons from whence they came.

Previously, Hawking, 62, had held out the possibility that disappearing matter travels through the black hole to a new parallel universe — the very stuff of most visionary science fiction.

I'm glad he changed his mind. That "alternate universe" thing was always ridiculous (scientifically). The amount of matter that's required to sustain a "universe" far exceeds whatever amount every black hold in our universe has ever "gobbled up." At least, that's how I understand it.

Moving on....

Poor Relations With Iran Turning Worse

It sounds like an Iraq summer rerun: Weapons of mass destruction. Support for terrorism. Talk of U.N. Security Council action. Hints of a push for regime change. This time, however, the fuss is not over Iraq but about that country's next-door neighbor, Iran. Recent developments have been unsettling.

Iran's ruling mullahs recently announced resumption of activities that could lead to development of a uranium-based bomb, apparently violating commitments they made to three European countries last fall.

And now comes word that the bipartisan commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks has concluded that Iran gave al-Qaida hijackers safe passage through the country after training in Afghanistan.

A White House spokesman said Monday there was no evidence that Iran had prior knowledge of the 9/11 plot. The reported commission finding would appear to reinforce the administration's long-held view that Iran is the world's most active state sponsor of terror.

Presumably they mean, "besides the USofA" since a lot of the reading I've done recently indicates that we're pretty outstanding in the ranks of states that sponsor terrorism.

Moving on....

Bush Plans No Rest in Next Month; 2nd Term Agenda Near

Before you get to feeling too sorry for him, let me point out that he has two vacations scheduled for this month, so the fact that he's apparently planning to work for four solid weeks shouldn't strain him unduly.

I found some amusement value in the story.

Earlier this month, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge warned of a heightened period of alert for a terrorist attack, given the upcoming election and assessments indicating Muslim extremists might want to disrupt the democratic process and influence the outcome.

The president, meanwhile, has been claiming that America is "safer" under his leadership — not 100 percent safe, but safer.

Moving on....

More consideration of Bill Cosby's recent speeches. AS the same publication points out, race is resurfacing as an issue in this country.

Moving on....

Alaska Needs Wimmin!

Posted by AnneZook at 07:50 AM


I may not be able to vote this November because of the ID restriction. My license expired, and since I don't have a car I didn't bother to get it renewed. Getting it renewed will require a lot of work: I've got to go to my parents house in New Jersey and get my birth certificate, then come back here to Virginia with it, and then I need to get on some utility bills, perhaps the water bill, so I can prove residency in Virginia. I've been living in Virginia for 4 years now, but I've no evidence of that. The process of getting an id will take me a few months. I'm not sure I'll have the spare time to get it done this summer. Even if I do, I don't think it will matter, I'd have to re-register to whatever location I've proven my residency, and by the time I'm done proving who I am and proving that I have residency, the time to register will be closed.

I've no way to prove I am who I am. And I'm white and middle class. I imagine among minorities there must be millions in my situtation.

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at July 21, 2004 12:17 PM

Anne, you've given me a days worth of work to do just getting through all this! Thank you!

Posted by: Hugo at July 21, 2004 01:07 PM

Call me crazy, Lawrence, but I can't imagine trying to function in society without an ID. But then, I use credit cards, write checks, buy airline tickets, and do a dozen other things that require me to prove I am who I say I am and I have the right to spend my money. (Put that way, it's a bit irritating.)

On the other hand, your point is well made and I withdraw my remark. It's quite possible, it seems, to function without an ID in this society, so maybe we do need a public debate over whether or not government-issued IDs should be mandatory for voting.

Posted by: Anne at July 21, 2004 03:37 PM

There are thousands of people in Florida who do not have a photo ID and a lot of them work in construction. They have lost their driver's license because of a DUI and they can't afford a checking account because of the high fees banks charge.

Wal-Mart recently starting a check-cashing operation, $3.00 for a payroll check, and that's cheap for the area.

The state ID card is $10 [I think] and you have to go to the Drivers License Bureau to get it. The wait is one to three hours, so you lose a day's pay in addition to the cost.

I had to wait until I could get a new Social Security card to change my license from California to Florida. Florida requires a Social Security card for some reason.

The whole photo ID card thing sounds good, but it could dis-enfranchise a lot of poor people.

Posted by: Bryan at July 21, 2004 10:50 PM

Clearly this "ID to vote" issue is a much bigger problem than I understood it to be, but I'm still puzzled by the idea that tons of people can't produce ID.

I mean, how do you get a job without an ID? I haven't gotten a job in the last 15 years without having to prove my identity.

Posted by: Anne at July 22, 2004 08:19 AM

I pay for lots of stuff with a credit card but no one asks me for a photo id when I'm using a credit card. I'm old enough that no one asks me for an id when I go to a bar or buy alcohol. I've been working freelance for the last 10 years so I haven't had to prove my citizenship in a while.

I've been meaning to renew my license for awhile but I kept putting it off and putting it off. The recent scare on Amtrak gives me a new reason to take care of it. I ride Amtrak every month, and I'm nervous to think what would have happened if I'd been swept up in the recent bomb scare and questioned and not had any id.

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at July 22, 2004 11:15 PM