Archive for February 2nd, 2007

Clean Elections Can Only Be Good For Republicans!

From NYT, by way of cab drollery:

Gov. Charlie Crist announced plans on Thursday to abandon the touch-screen voting machines that many of Florida’s counties installed after the disputed 2000 presidential election. The state will instead adopt a system of casting paper ballots counted by scanning machines in time for the 2008 presidential election.

Voting experts said Florida’s move, coupled with new federal voting legislation expected to pass this year, could be the death knell for the paperless electronic touch-screen machines. If as expected the Florida Legislature approves the $32.5 million cost of the change, it would be the nation’s biggest repudiation yet of touch-screen voting, which was widely embraced after the 2000 recount as a state-of-the-art means of restoring confidence that every vote would count.

Several counties around the country, including Cuyahoga in Ohio and Sarasota in Florida, are moving toward exchanging touch-screen machines for ones that provide a paper trail. But Florida could become the first state that invested heavily in the recent rush to touch screens to reject them so sweepingly.

“Florida is like a synonym for election problems; it’s the Bermuda Triangle of elections,” said Warren Stewart, policy director of VoteTrust USA, a nonprofit group that says optical scanners are more reliable than touch screens. “For Florida to be clearly contemplating moving away from touch screens to the greatest extent possible is truly significant.”

Other states that rushed to buy the touch-screen machines are also abandoning them. Earlier this week, the Virginia Senate passed a bill that would phase out the machines as they wore out, and replace them with optical scanners. The Maryland legislature also seems determined to order a switch from the paperless touch screens, though it is not clear yet if it will require the use of optical scanners or just allow paper printers to be added to the touch screens.

On Monday, Representative Rush D. Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, plans to introduce a bill in Congress that would require all voting machines nationwide to produce paper records through which voters can verify that their ballots were recorded correctly. A majority of House members have endorsed the proposal, and the changes have strong support among Senate Democrats. Mr. Holt’s bill would also substantially toughen the requirements for the touch-screen machines that have printers, and experts say this could give even more impetus to the shift toward the optical scanning systems.

Mr. Crist, a Republican, at times drew whoops and applause when he announced his plan at the South County Civic Center in Palm Beach County, the epicenter of the 2000 election standoff and home of the infamous “butterfly ballot” that confused many voters. The touch screens had replaced the punch-card systems that caused widespread problems that year.

“You should, when you go vote, be able to have a record of it,” Mr. Crist told a few hundred mostly older citizens at the civic center, in Delray Beach, where many residents said they accidentally voted for Patrick J. Buchanan in 2000 instead of Al Gore because of the confusing ballot design. “That’s all we’re proposing today. It’s not very complicated; it is in fact common sense. Most importantly, it is the right thing to do.”

Mr. Crist’s renunciation of touch-screen voting one month after he replaced Jeb Bush as governor of the nation’s fourth-most-populous state, suggested that the fight for paper voting records, long a pet project of Democrats, might become more bipartisan. Mr. Crist made the announcement with Representative Robert Wexler, a Democrat from Delray Beach who has ardently led the movement for a paper trail and has attacked Republicans along the way.

(…)

Asked how he felt about discarding tens of millions of dollars worth of touch-screen machines just years after they were acquired, Mr. Crist said, “The price of freedom is not cheap. The importance of a democratic system of voting that we can trust, that we can have confidence in, is incredibly important.”

This is really great news. Florida is not just any state; along with Ohio (Governor Strickland, are you reading this?), it is a pivotal and up-for-grabs electoral state, with an ugly recent history of block-the-vote shenanigans and corrupt election officials. It will do a lot for my peace of mind to know that the votes there are being counted properly, or can at least be double-checked if there’s suspicion that they’re not.

Now if they would just give ex-cons the right to vote, or at least stop using them as an excuse to purge African-Americans from the voter rolls…

4 comments February 2nd, 2007 at 07:42pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Republicans

Why We’re Screwed

TPM Muckraker on NSA Vs. NIE:

During a press conference this afternoon, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley spun the National Intelligence Estimate’s key findings to support the president’s “surge” plan in Iraq.

As we reported earlier, the Key Judgments paint an extremely dire picture of the situation. In one key line, it says that “even if violence is diminished, given the current winner-take-all attitude and sectarian animosities infecting the political scene, Iraqi leaders will be hard pressed to achieve sustained political reconciliation in the time frame of this Estimate.”

That’s not as hopeless as it sounds, according to Hadley. All that means is that since Iraqi leaders will be hard pressed, “there is no alternative but to press them hard to do that reconciliation.”

“One of the things you should conclude from this NIE,” Hadley said, “is the best plan is to have this plan succeed.”

Yes, that was certainly the first thing that I would have concluded. The most realistic and constructive response to “This has little chance of working” is always “We’ll just have to make it work, well, because it has to.”

You would think that after six years of wishes and Manly Resolute Willpower having absolutely zero effect on the fabric of reality, that the Bushies would start exploring some new problem-solving techniques…
(h/t Atrios)

2 comments February 2nd, 2007 at 06:48pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Republicans,War

Oh. What A Relief.

Please disregard my previous post, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about:

The United States is not planning for a war with Iran but is determined to stop Iranians supplying bombs for deadly attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Friday.

(…)

“The president has made clear, the secretary of state has made clear, I’ve made clear … we are not planning for a war with Iran,” Gates told reporters at the Pentagon.

Somehow, I’m not all that reassured – I mean, it’s not like lack of planning stopped them the last time. To me, it just sounds like Gates promised that this war will turn into an even bigger, uglier quagmire than the last one did.

I can hardly wait…

7 comments February 2nd, 2007 at 12:42pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iran,War

Iran Question

I think it’s pretty obvious by this point that Dubya and the insane double-down neocons are all itching for a disastrous war with Iran. But what about Iran? Are they similarly itchy, knowing that they could inflict serious damage on the United States’ power and prestige, albeit at heavy cost to themselves? Are they willing to make that tradeoff? Will Ahmadinejad or Khameini have their own “Bring ’em on” moment?

I honestly have no idea; I just wanted to ask the question. They certainly haven’t been backing down in the face of Bush’s provocations (and may arguably be engaging in some of their own), but that could just reflect their own desire to show strength and resolve, rather than a lust for war.

2 comments February 2nd, 2007 at 12:09pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iran,Politics,Republicans,Wankers,War

Photo/Caption Combo Of The Day

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
The panel blamed heat-trapping gases for warming since 1950.

… and beautiful rainbows!

The article it references on the NYT front page is not exactly encouraging. It looks like the planet is all but guaranteed to pay the price for humanity’s refusal to take global warming seriously over the last four or five decades.

The best chance to minimize the damage would be swift and aggressive action to move from coal and oil to alternative energy, but that’s not going to happen until we have the climate-change equivalent of 9/11, and by then it will be far too late. (One could argue that the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina were just such wake-up call events, but you can’t really… dust for global warming.)

It’s probably just as well that Dubya won’t be the one leading the “Global War On Warming” – he’d probably try to invade the ocean.

February 2nd, 2007 at 09:33am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Quotes

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week’s quote is a personal favorite, from Ghostbusters II, of all things:

Being miserable and treating other people like dirt is every New Yorker’s God-given right!

And, of course, there’ll be other people’s unspeakably cute scottish fold kittens…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmsV9R8FsDA
The cuteness, it is almost painful.

D’oh! Belated hat tip to flory, who sent it to me originally. I somehow managed to forget and “rediscover” it. Yes, my brain really is that flaky…

6 comments February 2nd, 2007 at 07:10am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Cuteness,Friday Quote & Cat Blogging,Monday Media Blogging

Eli’s Obsession With The Google

This is a… disturbing phrase to be on the first page of search results for:

vagina shrinkage movie.

Oh dear. I swear to you, that even though I am an executive producer, I have absolutely no involvement with any such project.

1 comment February 2nd, 2007 at 01:04am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Eli's Obsession With The Google


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