Monday, 20 September 2004

WaPo on Musharraf

The Washington Post editorial board rightly castigates both Bush and Kerry for their failure to speak publically about the need for a real democratic transition in Pakistan; coupled with events in Russia and the (quite possibly invented-from-thin-air by Robert Novak) Iraq withdrawal trial balloon, it’s not been a great week for democracy.

Wasn't he on “Leave it to Beaver”?

Professor Bainbridge, Sebastian Holdsclaw, Kevin Drum, and Matt Yglesias all agree that gerrymandering sucks. No argument there. Now let’s see what actually can be done about it…

Oh dear lord

Words fail me:

Visitors to next month’s Mississippi State Fair may gawk at their reflections in the Fun House, witness the Mississippi State Championship Mule Pull or shake hands with the key suspect in the Klan’s 1964 killings of three civil rights workers.

Learned lawyer Richard Barrett, who heads the white supremacist organization known as the Nationalist Movement, said Edgar Ray Killen has agreed to make an appearance at his organization’s booth in the Agricultural Building. Barrett plans to gather signatures there in support of Killen, who is under investigation but has never faced state murder charges in the June 21, 1964, deaths of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

“He can possibly sign autographs and meet the crowd,” said Barrett, whose booth will be between those for the secretary of state’s office and the Mississippi Library Commission.

Fame (after a fashion)

Both Joshua of Sandbox and Lemuel have picked up my quip about John Kerry left in comments at Dan Drezner’s place a week or so ago:

On the other hand, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that Kerry (accused of flip-flopping) doesn’t actually flip-flop; he just simultaneously occupies multiple policy positions with a variable probability density function over policy space. So he doesn’t flip-flop; he Heisenbergs. In other words, he wasn’t for the war before he was against it; he was for it while he was against it.

Glad y’all enjoyed it! However, it now appears that Jay Tea of Wizbang beat me to the analogy.


Brian J. Noggle is oddly intrigued by this Maxim photo shoot of Avril Lavigne. Mind you, compared to Michelle Branch she’s a prude…

Badnarik Q&A

Slashdot has posted its reader Q&A with Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik. Hilarity ensues.

CBS: “Misled”

Howard Kurtz reports that CBS is preparing to issue a statement that may (or may not) concede the documents are forgeries and may (or may not) apologize to the viewing public, the president, and/or Viacom shareholders for either (a) failing to properly vet the documents or (b) spending ten days stonewalling while all confidence the memos were real evaporated.

Meanwhile, Daniel Weiner advances a hypothesis about Memogate’s originsBaseball Crank) while Sean Hackbarth wonders why nobody’s asking questions about USA Today’s role in the affair.

Fear and loathing on the campaign trail

Commerical Appeal writer Bartholomew Sullivan does his best to put meat on the bones of claims that Republicans are planning an active campaign to “disenfranchise” black voters, but fails miserably, beginning with the subhead of his piece:

Paranoia strikes deep among black voters

“Paranoia” is defined as “a psychological disorder characterized by delusions of persecution or grandeur.” In other words, the Commercial Appeal is essentially accusing black voters of being collectively insane. But never fear: the CA is on the case to, er, ease those fears, perhaps. Sullivan goes on:

Although Bush-Cheney campaign officials say the perception is baseless and that efforts are under way to further diversify the GOP, the strictly nonpartisan vote-protection effort is aimed at thwarting tactics that are perceived to benefit Republicans by targeting black voters likely to vote for the Democratic ticket. [emphasis added]

Strictly nonpartisan? Of course, it’s led by the ACLU and NAACP, two groups known for their wide, bipartisan membership.

Mississippi, “for obvious historical reasons,” will have teams of poll watchers on the ground as one of 14 “Priority 1” states, said Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law public policy counsel Kim Alton. Arkansas and Missouri are also “Priority 1” concerns.

In other states, including lower-priority Tennessee, the coalition is asking people with voting concerns to report them at (866) OUR-VOTE – (866) 687–8683.

Nothing like “obvious historical reasons” to want to oversee a vote, though one would suspect that Tennessee might also have some of those “obvious historical reasons,” being a state that had Jim Crow and all.

[The efforts of these groups are] all in response to the perception that not-so-subtle efforts – and at least one overt plan – are under way to keep black voters, who traditionally vote overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates, from having their preferences counted.

After that passage, one wonders if the purpose of this effort is to dispel or foment paranoia. Sullivan does go out of his way to quote a few moderately sensible figures, but manages to close with this quotation:

Asked about any such [voter intimidation] efforts in the Mid-South, Eliott M. Mincberg, legal director of People for the American Way, said: “We’ve seen very little from there or anywhere else in terms of concrete signs of plans for voter suppression and intimidation. But that’s not unusual because these plans are designed to operate under cover until Election Day, when they’re sprung.”

One suspects these “plans” are about as concrete and likely to be made manifest as John Kerry’s “secret plan” to end the war in Iraq.