interlude (is anyone else sick of politics?)

portrait of Edwin Morgan by Jean Maclachlan I don’t know much about Edwin Morgan’s poetry (perhaps I’ll learn more when this site is not so “under construction”, and if it loses the odd “go look at his books” attitude), but what prompts this entry is his art collection. At 84, he has donated it to the University of Glasgow — 70 works in all, worth “a fortune” according to the reporter and a “very good and valuable” collection according to a curator quoted. Morgan, who collected the works according to taste rather than fashion, says of his gift:

[The paintings will] be in good hands and lots of people will see them: that is the idea I like the best. You can clutter your life and your home up with many things, with lots of objects that have no use, and the paintings are in my mind: I have been looking at them for so many years. I have got my enjoyment out of them and now other people can too.

That is just so very right. I would very much like to be able to do something similar, eventually, with my own modest collections of books and art. I do not have much, but I like the idea that perhaps I could plug some gaps in a useful academic or museum collection somewhere. (via eeksypeeksy, Ivy and Anne; photo by Jean Maclachlan)

whistling past the graveyard wherein lie side-by-side Truth, Justice and The American Way

It really does begin to look like the election was rigged. As Teresa Nielsen Hayden puts it, I deeply resent the way this government makes me feel like a nutbar conspiracy theorist. Unlike Jamie Zawinski, I don’t want to believe it, because the idea that “the people would actually vote these fundamentalists into power” is less distressing to me than the idea that they stole this election. Why? Simple: if this election was rigged, the last one probably was and the next one certainly will be, and we are dealing with a cabal that does not intend ever to be out of power again. The very idea turns my bones to water. Here are a few places to start reading about it:

The big deal is the apparent discrepancy between exit poll data and the final vote tally. When international observers monitor elections, one of the most (if not the most) important methods employed is comparison of exit polls with final tallies. In this case, the claim is that exit polls match closely with final counts except in cases where no paper trail exists. For instance, this picture is all over the place; here are a couple of excerpts: ohio.png florida.png
These images highlight the current cause of my anguish: I don’t know who put them together or where they got the numbers from. I went around the net copying all the numbers I could find for a while, but the data gained thereby is not official in any sense and is woefully inadequate anyway. Here’s what we need, at a minimum:

  • exit poll data from as many sources and voting stations as possible
  • final tallies from the same voting stations
  • the same data from at least one previous election, preferably several, as controls

and we need those numbers to be reliable, not just “some guy with a blog copied these off the TV screen”. There is fraud in every election, and in both directions (pro-Dem and pro-Rep); what the numbers can do is to expose a pattern of systematic fraud. The “usual background” of fraud will show up as a random distribution of anomalies, but if the anomalies collect strongly on one side we have evidence of organised fraud.
Strong statistical evidence will probably not be enough in the short term. No matter how clear, I don’t see Bush going to jail on the basis of statistical evidence, nor do I see Kerry suing for a revote. Here’s where Bev Harris comes in:

Black Box Voting has taken the position that fraud took place in the 2004 election through electronic voting machines. We base this on hard evidence, documents obtained in public records requests, inside information, and other data indicative of manipulation of electronic voting systems. What we do not know is the specific scope of the fraud. We are working now to compile the proof, based not on soft evidence — red flags, exit polls — but core documents obtained by Black Box Voting in the most massive Freedom of Information action in history.

You can see the FOIA requests here; they’ve been sent to 3000 counties and townships. While I think the exit poll evidence is more important than BBV seems to imply, I don’t yet know where to turn for that data. I do know that BBV’s FOIA initiative is of vital importance to the free and fair voting issue, as is their ongoing campaign for transparent elections. Please consider giving them some money.
I’ve got a lot of reading to do, and a lot of letters to write. I want to get my own hands on as much data as possible, and I want to find the people who are working to find out whether this election was rigged so that I can help. Whether the fix was in this year or not, and whether or not we can prove it to a court of law, I think I’ve found my issue: free and fair elections. Over the next four years, I’m going to be concentrating on making sure that American elections are transparent and fraud-proof. (Incidentally, there has been much speculation that anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives in 11 states provided a huge surge in conservative voter turnout; I wonder whether “free and fair elections” initiatives couldn’t do the same for liberals?)


Yeah, so, “decent” to “maggot” in the space of two posts? I may be a bit of a drama queen. Sorry, Senator, for the bad names — but I meant what I said about not forgiving you. Conceding was wrong; you promised you’d fight all the way, and that’s what you should have done. I hope, in fact, that’s what you are doing right now, quietly, behind the scenes — there are plenty of suggestions that the election was swiz. I want those suggestions fully and openly investigated. If the answer is, no, America really did elect that vile idiot, well, so be it — the point is to clean up the process, in which it seems hardly anyone has any faith left.
Other than that, I just dunno. I got every damn thing wrong. I thought Kerry would win, I was rocksolidsure he wouldn’t concede before the last vote was in, I even thought Measure 36, Oregon’s anti-gay marriage ballot initiative, would fail. I thought a few donations and a Kerry For President sign in the window was enough. Go, me.
I do know this, though: I’m not leaving. I had expected to be mired in a blue funk of despair if Kerry lost, but to my surprise I’m mostly angry — not the lashing out pointlessly kind of angry, but the cool determined now you’ve pissed me off kind of angry. I’d thought about moving to Canada, and about whether I wanted to become a US citizen or not, but now I’ve decided: one has to stand somewhere, and this is my somewhere. I like it here, and I’m not going to just hand my new home over to the Gays Are Icky And Brown People Don’t Count party.
Bush is an unimigated disaster, the worst elected leader I’ve ever seen (and I’m from the Banana Republic of Australia!). He lied to take the country into an unjustifiable and unjust war, which he then prosecuted with criminal incompetence. He has presided over the worst human rights abuses I’ve seen in any country whose citizens still largely kid themselves that “we don’t do that”. He took a record budget surplus and created a record deficit in record time by means of tax breaks for the superwealthy and blatantly corrupt government contracting. He’s ignored and tried to marginalize science, promoted ideology over reason, rolled back environmental progress twenty years and shown himself determined to quash dissent from any quarter. Even the bloody abortion rate has skyrocketed under this administration, and he’s supposed to be against that. And yet, barring revelations (and concrete proof) of fraud, there he is back in the White House for a second term. Why?
I have some ideas, but they’re half-formed at best and my form as a political pundit does not encourage me to write about them anyway. If I were the type who could stick to that I wouldn’t have a blog, so I’ll be writing about them later — but for now, I’m going to spend a while listening.
What happened, and how can we stop it from happening again? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Dolchstoss, keine Legende?

Kerry to concede? NOOOOOOOOOOOO!
What happened to this?

John Kerry and I made a promise to the American people that in this election every vote would count and every vote would be counted. Tonight we are keeping our word and we will fight for every vote. You deserve no less. (John Edwards, last night)

Too bloody right we deserve no less. Neither Florida nor Ohio, for all that the talking heads have called both, are decided yet, nor will be for nearly two weeks as the provisional and absentee ballots are counted.
Don’t do this, Senator! To concede before the last vote is counted would be to betray everyone who has supported you. I don’t trust CNN any more than I trust Karl Rove himself, so I’ll wait for the announcement before I turn and savage you. Don’t you let us down like that!
11:20am: you fucking bastard. You whore, you traitor, you spineless maggot. You bent over with barely a whimper for a grasping soulless empty-hearted meat puppet and the countless robber barons and apocalyptic lunatics whose red right hands are firmly jammed up his pliant asshole. You hucked up a stinking loogy and spat right in the faces of the poor, the gay and the non-white, to say nothing of women the world over, the Iraqi people or the many who stood with you and behind you and beneath you and lifted you up with time and money they could ill afford.
I will never forgive you for this, John Kerry.

Posted in woe

not with a bang but a whimper

Christopher Genovese says what I’ve been meaning to:

… lacking a clear record of my how my views have developed, I felt obliged to cover more and more, lest it seem to benefit too much from hindsight. Without meaning to, I’ve let this restrain me from commenting on political matters large and small

Man, do I hear you. Issue after issue, outrage after outrage, I didn’t cover it because I didn’t have time to cover it fully. I kept meaning to sum up in one big post — perhaps a wonderchickensian catharsis of bile, perhaps something reasonable and balanced — but I never got around to it. I kept meaning to post about how I wasn’t getting around to it, and remind readers that in putting together my blogroll over there on the right I tried hard to combine comprehensive news and insightful analysis while keeping the number of sites to a readable level — but I never got around to that either. I guess, like Chris, it just makes me feel better to say all that.
(There’s no need for an endorsement from me, but here it is anyway: if you vote for Bush you are stupid, deluded, evil or some combination of all three. John Kerry is not everything I’d like, but I will probably never have that in a president anyway. Kerry is a decent man, a man of integrity, and he has the political and personal werewithal to start to undo some of the horrific damage that Apocalypse Inc and their smirking front man have inflicted on my new homeland and the world. If you give two squirts of cold ratshit about anything other than yourself, you’ll vote for John Kerry.)