Monday, October 30, 2006

Fast And Furiously Incumbents Dissemble

And that 'ole October wind just keeps blowing it back in their faces.

Here's a brief review of the headlines a week before election day:

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo reports that Republican robo-call machines in Maryland are phoning voters and asking them if they believe medical experiments should be performed on unborn babies.

Also from Josh: The Republican National Committee, which accused Tennessee Demo Candidate of accepting contributions from "porn movie producers", has itself accepted money from one of the largest distributors of gay porn in the country, not to mention contributions from a famous female porn star Mary Carey, who bought her way into a presidential dinner.

Kettle pot, kettle pot...

Diving deeper into the tawdry paint-pot of sexual politics, Lynne Cheney, wife of the Vice President, tried to smear Jim Webb with the sexual references in his book about the military in Vietnam (which is on the USMC Approved Reading List) only to have it remembered that she herself wrote a quite detailed "romance" novel.

In realler news, the Mexican government is trying to crush an uprising which for several months has controlled Oaxaca. They just re-took the center of the city.

Over a hundred thousand sidearms and other guns given to the Iraqi military are missing.

The Iraqi insurgents (we no longer call them terrorists) blew up a major arms dump just south of Bagdhad. We may have under-reported the dead.

There were 277 embedded journalists at the start of the war. There are 9 now.

Bush has given the Iraqi government a set of goals to be accomplished. The goals have no deadlines. If the Iraqis fail to meet them, there will be no negative results. Mr. Malachi, the president of Iraq, still felt a need to tell his citizens that he is not a puppet.

The House Ethics Committee investigation into whether Dennis Hastert's office covered up congressman Foley's sexually explicit messaging of the page boys has been completed; the results will be held until after the election, as Hastert is running for office. The coverup is covered up. Meanwhile, word is seeping into the press that the scandal extends beyond Foley.

A Nicaraguan company has bought Sequoia Voting Systems, and the question of whether company hacks can change the vote has gotten serious. There is general agreement developing that voting machines need to leave a paper trail, even among proponents of electronic voting. The only question is whether the paper record or the digital memory is the true vote. If it is the paper record, a pencil mark might be the cheaper way to go.

October is already the fourth deadliest month for US troops since the beginning of the Iraq war. The day draws closer when Bush will have killed more Americans in his war of adventure than were killed on 9/11. Who will be the enemy, then?

Meanwhile, Congress has given Mr. Bush the power to decide for himself - and to keep it a secret - just what torture techniques we can use without violating the Geneva Conventions. They also gave him the right to detain anyone anywhere, jail them indefinitely, and try them before a military court where they cannot see the evidence against them.

The Air Force has put a hold on building the windmills that will replace the oil wells because they fear that the windmills could block radar at low levels and shield low-flying airplanes. They have said they are studying it. The study has not yet begun, so we'll just have to use oil for now.

Meanwhile, as if the world isn't warming up fast enough, a string of coal-fired electric plants is being built in Texas that will add to the carbon dioxide that's causing our overheating.

Mr. Bush keeps adding signing statements when he signs the laws that Congress sends over, and in the last couple of years, his signing statements have contained his refusals to implement those laws in the manner Congress has specified. The Constitution does not give him this power. A discussion is growing over whether to impeach him now or later.

Republicans seem trapped in their own poop-tossing machine, unable to stop smearing people. Because few of the smears are true, this has given Democrats a chance to say, "See! See how bad the Republicans are!" and to point out how the Republicans' style resembles their substance.

Mr. Bush has decided that he never said "Stay the course". Change the book. He never said it. Except that thousands of people, particularly the news networks, have tapes of hi saying it. The White House press office, when forced to look, found only 9 instances where he said it. On the MSNBC "Countdown" show, Keith Olberman found 21 more instances, and broadcast them.

This of course prevents Mr. Bush from describing Democrats any longer as "Cut And Run".

Tomorrow is the last day in October, and Karl Rove's "October Surprise" is soon going to have to be a November surprise. One pundit noted that even if the Democrats win, Karl has put in a "virtuoso performance". It is getting harder and harder to make us more afraid of an enemy than we are of our own government.

If the dialogue degenerates further, someone is bound to remember 1972, the year Mr. Bush left the military on his own accord to go help a congressman win re-election. The kerfluffle that was engineered to re-direct Dan Rather's smoking gun discovery did not deny the basics - that the president walked. Many troops today must wish they were in his shoes and could just go home, rather than having their terms of service extended over and over again.

Hundreds of thousands of mail-in votes are being held up for one reason or another. Thousands of other voters are being scratched from the rolls because they didn't respond to a junk mail letter. This guarantees screaming on election day.

Donors to the Republican Party are hedging their bets and giving to Democrats who may win.

Early voters in Florida have run into problem machines that "slip out of synch"and "need to be recalibrated on site". Absolute baloney. Someone complains, they recalibrate. Someone complains, they recalibrate. Only when someone complains do they recalibrate.

Does it happen with ATMs? Not in my experience. Palmtop owners will remember that the only times they have ever needed to re-align the touch-screen was when they flushed the memory and restarted from scratch. This "alignment" issue will become big.

Is something flushing the memory of these machines?

Any problems on election day will be blamed on the incumbents. Any suspicious successes will taint the winner and invite damaging scrutiny. Doubtful winners will carry that fact around their neck forever. Who would want this kind of success?

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